Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Opportunity to be published

Because getting a novel published is extremely difficult, we should always be looking for ways to make us stand out from others. One way of doing this is getting some kind of publishing credits to our name.

That's why I am always on the look out for submissions to anthologies. They are easier to break into, it doesn't take much time to write a short story, and you can say you've been published on your query letter. 

I will share with you anthologies as I run across them. Currently, Prose by Design is looking for short stories for their Summer Love anthology and Halloween Horrors anthology. I highly recommend entering their contest. Go HERE to enter.

Good Luck!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Author School Event

Last Friday I had the honor of speaking to Winslow Middle School's 6th, 7th, and 8th graders.  I had so much fun and consider the event a huge success. I even sold all of my books.

Before the event, however, I was unsure what to do or talk about and this made me very nervous. I scoured the internet looking for tips or advice on what to do or say, but all I could find was information from children authors who only speak to elementary schools. Unfortunately their format is different from what an author would do for a middle school.

Because I couldn't find anything super helpful, I thought I'd share what I did in hopes of helping other authors in the same situation.

I arrived early. Lisa, a super awesome teacher, and a few other super awesome teachers, helped me set up. I didn't have much: a plasma ball, a poster of my book cover, a few of my books on display, laptop and screen to show my book trailer.

I met with 8th graders first. I chatted with them as they came in, moved around a bit, invited them to touch the plasma ball. Once everyone was seated, I said that I wanted to get to know the audience first before I talked about myself. I then asked a bunch of questions and had them answer by raising their hands. This helped warm up the crowd.

Now it was my turn. Instead of giving a long list of who I am and what I've done, I played a game, letting the audience guess certain things about me. When I was finished, I introduced my book, starting with my trailer.

I told a little about my main character and then went into the "motivational" part of my talk. This is where I spoke about our own inner superpowers and how to develop them so we can slay the "villains" that come into our lives. This took maybe ten minutes.

After this, I opened it up for Q&A's. I had asked Lisa to get some questions from students a head of time so I could be prepared with a few just in case students were too afraid to ask.  I also brought a bunch of candy to use as bribes if desperate for someone, anyone, to ask a question. Luckily I didn't have that problem.

At the very end, I had a drawing for a signed copy of my book. (Ahead of time I had teachers ask students to write their name on a strip of paper.) I gave a book away to each grade. Afterwards, I sold books and signed autographs.

I hope this information helps someone else. Let me know if you have any questions. :)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Editing Tips

Thank you so much for the great advice you shared with me last week about editing, especially about the editing software. I had no idea such things existed. Over the last few days I've gathered other editing tips and wanted to share them with you.

Eliminate unnecessary modifiers. These are words like possibly, simply, really, totally, very, supposedly, seriously, terribly, allegedly, utterly, sort of, kind of, usually, extremely, almost, mostly, practically, probably, and quite. The more clutter you can get rid of, the better your sentences will be.

Eliminate clichés.  When you say someone’s scraping the bottom of the barrel, do you actually picture someone scraping the bottom of a barrel?  Better to have plain, unadorned prose than prose filled with clichés. Microsoft Word’s grammar checker has a helpful feature that will automatically underline clichés with a green squiggly line.

Eliminate repeated words and phrases. In YA books a common phrase I see repeated often is when someone "rolls their eyes". It drives me crazy.

Search for extraneous thats and hads.

Straighten out your mixed metaphors.  If you’re riddled with doubt about a particular sentence, try treating every word absolutely literally to see if the sentence pans out. Make sure you’re conscious of every metaphor in your prose

When in doubt, throw it out. Sometimes I’ll find myself stuck on a particular sentence I can’t seem to fix no matter how many times I rearrange it.  This is when I step back, grab an ax, and chop the whole thing.

Highlight action, description, dialogue, and internal thoughts in different colors. I saw this in action awhile ago, but for the life of me I can't remember what author did this. What she'd do is highlight every part of her novel. For example, all internal thoughts in red, description in blue, and so on. By color coding her manuscript, she could immediately see where mistakes were, whether it was too many internal thoughts or descriptions, which slow things down, or too much action without internal thoughts. I hope that makes sense.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Went or Walked?

When writing my first few novels I never used the words "went" or "got". For example, "She went to the car and got in behind the passenger seat."

Instead, I'd write, "She walked to the car and slid in behind the passenger seat."

However, I've noticed lately that a lot of authors, even popular ones, are writing these "lazy" words, and for some reason they don't seem to bother me that much unless they're over done and start sounding like echoes. And sometimes the sentence, "She went home," can say more than "she walked home."

What do you guys think? Have the rules changed?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Editing Time Savers?

I'm in the process of editing a current project, and for the life of me I can't find an efficient or easier way to do it. When it comes to writing the novel, I've learned different techniques that have saved me time and made the entire process much easier.

Are there any tips on editing?

I feel like I'm just reading the blasted thing over and over looking for mistakes, plot holes, timing issues, etc., but it takes FOREVER. Is this just the nature of the beast or am I missing a valuable step somewhere?

How do you guys do it?