Advice on Writing

Here is some very good advice regarding story beginnings from Creative Writing Now:
Do you have trouble with story beginnings?
The first thing to remember is that you don’t have to write the beginning of the story first.  You can always go back and write it later.

So if you’re stuck with the beginning, don’t let that stop you from writing the rest of the story.  In fact, it’s generally easier to come up with a great beginning once you know where your story is headed.

When you’re ready to start working on your beginning, here are some strategies that often work well (Note: these aren’t rules, only suggestions!):

– Start with dialogue or action.  That is often more engaging than beginning with description or background information.
– Start with a conflict.  Give your character a problem right away to get things moving.

– Start in the middle of the scene.  You can fill in the background information later.

– Start with something mysterious.  Raise questions in the reader’s mind that you’ll answer later in the story.
In case you’re looking for writing ideas this week, here are some first lines that you can use to begin stories of your own.
1) “Don’t move,” he whispered.
2) The scream sounded far away.

3) I turned away before she could see my face.
4) If it hadn’t rained that night, everything would have turned out differently.
5) My fingernails scrabbled against smooth stone.

6) It got harder every time.
7) The strange blue light shone through the trees.
8) It was the opposite of love at first sight.

9) “I don’t know him,” I said.
10) Someone, or something, was watching.
Happy writing!

All the best,
Nancy
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Kensington Book Accepting Queries

Read Authors’ Publish to find out more information.

Below is a guideline for choosing an Editor when submitting to Kensington Books. I’ve listed the Editors that are of interest to me, but there are others. I invite you to visit their website.

SUBMIT TO ONE EDITOR ONLY VIA EMAIL. From the list of editors and their areas of interest below, determine which editor would be best suited to or most interested in the type of book you are proposing. Address the submission to that editor’s attention. If an editor passes, it’s a pass for Kensington; do not re-query or re-submit to another editor.

Tara Gavin, Executive Editor: Fiction (Romance, Women’s Fiction, Historical Fiction, Historical Mysteries, Multi-cultural Women’s Fiction, and Romantic Suspense). TGavin@Kensingtonbooks.com

Esi Sogah, Senior Editor: Fiction (historical romance, contemporary romance, cozy mysteries, suspense/thrillers, upmarket women’s fiction) and select non-fiction.   esogah@kensingtonbooks.com

Martin Biro, Editor: Fiction (women’s fiction, cozy mysteries, historical mysteries, romances of all kinds, multicultural fiction, gay fiction, suspense, new adult and young adult). mbiro@kensingtonbooks.com

Elizabeth May, Editorial Assistant: Fiction (Romance, Mysteries, Women’s Fiction, Historical Fiction, and Sci Fi/Fantasy) emay@kensingtonbooks.com

Norma Perez-Hernandez, Editorial Assistant: Fiction (historical romance, contemporary romance, LGBT romance, traditional and cozy mysteries, thrillers, and select sci-fi and fantasy). NPerez-Hernandez@Kensingtonbooks.com

Tips for Publishing Your Book

Here are three tips from OutSkirts Press to publish your book before the holidays:

Trust your gut. This isn’t exactly the same as saying “Write now, edit later,” but that’s not far off. Doubt, often disguised as the editorial instinct, eats up more time than all of the world’s best laid plans, combined. Make bold, command decisions about what you’re going to write–and stick to your guns.

Write early. With a few rare exceptions, research indicates that both the human mind and the human body at their peak productivity in the early to mid-morning hours, before the post-lunch lull and the day’s various activities become undeniable distractions. Get a head start on finishing your project by dedicating a least a part of your morning to the craft. Getting up extra early is hard, but often worth it.

Write everywhere. If the mornings are when the hard work gets done, inspiration tends to crop up when least expected–or useful, in many cases. In bed, in the car, at work. To take full advantage of the mysterious workings of your imagination, make sure you are fully mobile as a writer. Carry a pocket notebook or use your smartphone to record your thoughts as they arrive, and keep these notes on hand each morning as you launch into another day. Don’t let them escape! Stop traffic or block an aisle in the grocery store if you have to–and if you bump into someone, maybe your apology can serve as an icebreaker to talk about your upcoming work with a potential reader!

Hope this helps someone… 🙂

Story Ideas…

story idea in your head

I found this picture on Selena Kitt’s Facebook page. I laughed out loud when I saw it, because a month ago my writing coach asked me to give him a run down of my story in fifteen minutes. I guess he was looking for the elevator pitch. At first I scrambled to find some notes that I had written, and then said, “aww man, fuck it,” in my head.

I started out slow as I tried to hit on the milestones of the story. The more I talked about the story, the more I saw plot holes. In my head my story is like the first picture. Telling it to someone else (who put me on the spot) is like the second picture.

Although my coach admitted he liked the story, I was not happy with what I had said. After my phone call, I did what I said I would not do until I finished my first draft. I went back and tweaked, rewrote scenes, and added a lot of missing details to my story. Is it better? Yes! But it hasn’t gotten to the stage of what I see in my head.

The following bit of advice from Ta-Nehisi Coates via Creative Writing Now makes me feel so much better about my writing, “I strongly believe that writing is an act of courage. It’s almost an act of physical courage. You get up and you have this great idea. Maybe you were hanging out with your friends — you guys were having beers, and you were talking about something, you had this idea, and they said, ‘Wow, that’s brilliant! Someone should go write it.’ You sit down to write it, and — almost always — what was brilliant before when you were sitting around, talking, is somehow not so brilliant when you go to write. It’s as though you have a certain music in your head, and trying to get that music out on the page is just absolute hell. So, you fail. If you’re doing it correctly, what happens is the translation of what you hear in your head onto the page will almost always come out really badly on the page when you first write, okay? But what you have to do is you have to give yourself a day, go back, revise over and over and over and over again until you get to something that is at least maybe 70% of what you wanted to do. You try to go from really bad to okay to acceptable. Then you know you’ve done your job” (Coates, a writer from The Atlantic).

Failure, Coates says, is intrinsic to the writing process, but the key is to persevere. “It’s not really that mystical — repeated practice over and over and over again, and suddenly, you become something that you had no idea you could really be.” I hope the above quote was helpful for new writers, and will help others who are struggling to feel better about themselves and their story.

Perseverance is definitely the key. I finally finished my first draft! I thought that I could write it in a month, but self-doubt and thinking about the mammoth task ahead stymied my writing. Some days I just did not want to continue. My blog also suffered. I did not know how to get back into the groove of posting short stories or excerpts of my novel.

I’ve begun editing my first draft! Second draft, here I come… 🙂

me-typing

Photo Credit: Mary Pamela

 

Rewrites and Tweaks

I woke up about 4:30 this morning, and actually did what Nancy from Creative Now sent me an email telling me not to do:

Hello,

Has this ever happened to you?
A few minutes after you start writing, you pause to reread what you’ve written.  You adjust something here, polish something there, delete a sentence.  Suddenly, you find it hard to start writing again.  You’ve lost the flow.
It’s normally better not to try to edit yourself as you’re writing your first draft.  Creating and editing use different parts of the brain.  If you try to do both at once, you end up getting in your own way.

It’s as if the creative part of your brain feels the mental editor watching over its shoulder.  It starts to feel self-conscious, freezes up.
So the best practice for most writers is to write and edit in separate stages.  First, let your ideas flow freely onto the page.  Then, when you’ve finished a draft, you can go back and improve it.
But why is this so hard for some writers to do?  Why the constant temptation to go back and reread what you’ve written — and when you do, why is there such powerful urge to tweak this and adjust that, until you find yourself in full editing mode?
I think the answer has to do with fear.
You might be afraid that what you’re writing isn’t good enough, so you go back to check.  And if you see a problem or a flaw or messiness of any kind, it makes you anxious, and you feel the need to fix it RIGHT NOW.  It’s as if you don’t trust yourself to go back and fix it later.
This is the solution to the problem, the solution to many kinds of writer’s block: trust yourself.
– Trust your imagination to lead you somewhere interesting.

– Trust that if you don’t like what you’ve written, you can make it better, or write something else that you’ll like better.
– If you make a mess in your rough draft (which is normal and good), trust yourself to clean it up later.
– Trust that if you really want to be a writer, you’ll keep working at it until you reach your goal.
Happy writing,
Nancy
She is so right. When I write, I am just thinking about what I see or how the characters feel in that moment. Then when I begin to reread what I’ve written, I say “Oh man, I didn’t include all the five senses,” so I go back and revise. Then I’m stuck, because the writing is not flowing well. I’m disgusted with myself.
Well, starting today. I will try not to edit while I’m writing my first draft. I’ve been saying that for weeks now. Hopefully, this time it will stick! 🙂

Call for “Steamy Romance” Submissions

Steam Romance, a publisher of romantic and erotic fiction is looking for writers! New to this genre, but not publishing, Steam is fresh and ready to take on select stories that are just as fresh…and sexy!

Looking for short stories that are between 15k-40k words. Novels that are between 50k-100k words.

How to submit:

Please send a detailed outline of your story to steameditor@gmail.com, along with a brief bio about yourself that includes background on your writing / publishing experience. The outline should include the following information:

  • Word count
  • Genre
  • Story description
  • Sample chapter(s)
  • Working title
  • If this submission has been previously published

What you can expect:

You will receive an email from us within two (2) weeks of your submission/inquiry, confirming its receipt.

Because we are a small, independent publisher, we are able to move fast and stay flexible with our authors. This allows for a fun creative experience with fair and simple contracts. We offer comprehensive editing services, book cover design and basic assistance with social media presence and other marketing efforts.  We are not a vanity publisher. Our authors pay nothing.

For more information/guidelines on what is acceptable, visit Steam Romance.