Thursday, April 28, 2011
Everyone who has received a rejection letter knows it’s the ultimate kick in the parts that hurt. No one likes working every hour god sends on their manuscript, editing it until their eyes cross over, only to receive a standard ‘Thanks, but no thanks letter. If feels like all your hard work has been for nothing.
So, what do you do when your work is rejected?
Years ago I used to cry like a baby. And that’s not a joke! It’s fine to feel emotional. No one really understands the pressure your under. Not unless they are a writer themselves. Here is where your writer’s groups/loops become a handy tool. Here you can vent your feelings, and they will all understand and commiserate.
When an editor says they hated something that took you months, even years to perfect, it is okay to feel bad.
Once you have got the tears out of the way, now you party.
Seriously, when you receive a rejection letter, it puts you firmly in the league of “real writers”. You wrote a book! Congratulate yourself. Millions have tried and failed. Now you have just entered a whole new world.
Rejection letters can really strip you bare, but please don’t stop writing.
A lot of new writers make the mistake of not writing ever again. What a waste of a talent. There are thousands of writers who have been rejected over and over again, only to eventually find the right editor who loves their work. I for one had a letter of rejection for my book The heart of a warrior in one hand and a gushing acceptance in the other. There are successful authors who wrote for years and years before they get their ‘call’. Catherine Cookson, Joanna Trollope, J.K Rawlings to name but a few.
So stripped bare and bleeding, what can you learn from rejection?
Evaluate it for what it is. It is NOT a slur on your family name, your character, your first born baby! Read what the editor/agent said about your work. If it’s a bog standard rejection letter, you probably won’t get much feedback. So then you just file in the container marked ‘bin’ and move on.
BUT, if you are lucky to get feedback, do take them seriously.
Editors and agents don’t have time to heap false praise on someone that is not on their listings. But if one has taken time to give you detailed feedback of any kind, it means something about your story or your writing touched them. Well done.
Also, sit up and take notice if an editor asks to see more of your work. If they say they’d like to see your manuscript again if you make some changes, drop everything, make them and send it back. QUICKLY! Same thing if they ask to see something else from you. Do it. Send it. . They don’t ask for more work lightly.
Writing is a minefield. Occasionally we will get blown up, sometimes get stomped on from other authors who have a hidden agenda to murder you. Other times, we will just get down about the whole thing. It will pass, we can and do, mend ourselves. Without us, the world will never get to see those stories that touch the imagination, melt the heart or just get the pulses racing.
If you have any ideas on how to deal with rejection letters post here with your web addy and I’ll put your comments on my writer’s blog.
I’ll be back next Thursday with more Food for Thought.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Hooking a reader
In the beginning god gave us light!! LOL I’ve always wanted to start a paragraph off with that. Which brings me to the point of todays blog. I’m always hearing how editors tell authors they must ‘hook’ a reader. It brings to mind the fishing rod scenario. But if you think about it, how many times do we sit down to watch a film only to be bored to death after the first few minutes? In this age where competition is rife, grabbing a reader’s attention is like holding onto a slippery fish. Fast, fierce and riveting should be the things aimed for with a hook. A new angle, twist of writing style sets you apart from the rest. Thats what we must all aim for.
I remember reading a book, Night Visions, by Ariana Dupre and was completely thrown that her witch character was a man. A rather, hunky one to boot. What a twist, when all the foreshadowing made me feel that she was the usual ‘hag witch’.
Be honest now. How many books have you picked up then cast aside because they just don’t do it for you? I have had two this month. The greatest gift a reader can give an author is the words, ‘I could not put the book down’. I had that with my latest book Abigail Cottage. The reader said, she literally stayed after work to read it! The one thing that struck me was the fact she said, even when she put the book down, she was still thinking about the characters.
I believe that an author really needs to sit down and think who their first readers will be. Over worked editors and Agents! They look for a ‘hook’ straight away. Almost like a person dying of thirst in the desert would search for water. A crashing noise, explosion, head chopping off (if you write horror lol) is a first sentence hook. It compels a reader to read on and see what’s happened. Joking aside, it is so important and each page should end with a page turner. You need your reader to want to turn that page. So remember, even one word can hook. Don’t be afraid to cast out your rods with hooks made of steel.
Let me know what you think of hooks and they will go on my writers blog under helpful author hints. Remember to leave your website address beside your comment.
Have a great day and I'll virtually see you next thursday with more food for thought.
Sunday, April 17, 2011
In today's market, it might mean that if print media is not selling, we authors must prepare our art and sell it through the current modes of technology. Change is necessary if we are to adapt and survive! It requires belief in our craft, our message, and courage to forge on. And all this while staying true to self and art!
Today, I'd like to share with you some wisdom from Marion Woodman. I come back to her books again and again, when I need to replenish my courage.
Here is a quote from Coming Home to Myself Reflections for Nurturing a Woman's Body and Soul
Why should we have more faith in the Amaryllis bulb than in ourselves?
We know that the Amaryllis lives by an inner law with which we have lost touch in ourselves.
The blossom dies; with rest and darkness, another bloom will come, we know, next year.
In the place of the goddess, we accept birth and death.
When we listen to the Amaryllis, resonate with its silence, its eternal stillness, we find ourselves at
the heart of the mystery.
Change requires staying open to the mystery of life, death, life cycle. In nature we accept the seasonal shifts and changes, so why hold on rigidly to anything, any project, any idea? To stay rooted in myself is more important that staying attached to a certain idea. I am an artist, a writer, an editor and a creator; that will be true no matter how many adjustments I have to make! As I go through this little death, it helps to remember that a new bloom will come. I won't forget my faith in the inner law of nature.
What inner laws do you maintain that allow your creativity to bloom?
Thursday, April 14, 2011
I'll be your thursday host on APA blog, until Tina-Sue banishes me lol
I'm a Paranormal & Romance author with lots of other things tucked under my belt. (NO, that isn't fat, honest)I'll be chatting about lots of different things this year - writing, Agents, Publishers, the metaphysical, author chats, and anything else I can think of.
I look forward to your comments and getting to know you.
If I could write a book on the amount of questions that I’ve been asked with regards to dialogue – it would be an epic! Realistic dialogue doesn’t always come easily to everyone. But I can’t tell you how important it is. Dialogue advances a story and fleshes out the characters while providing a break from straight exposition. But, nothing pulls the reader out of a story faster than bad dialogue. Half finished sentences and the dreaded “uh” and “oh” doesn’t make dialogue sound more realistic. These kind of extraneous words look unprofessional and can send a very good book into an editors slush pile. It takes time to develop a good technique, but here’s a few of my guidelines. Please feel free to add your own in your comments. I’ll collate them all and add them to a page on my writer’s blog. Don’t forget to leave your website address and I’ll put it beside your idea on the page.
Firstly, listen to how people talk. Now do be careful. I’d hate for you to be arrested as a stalker or something! Just eavesdrop and scribble down phrases that you like. You’ll be amazed how much information you can collect by just listening. The right words can make a two dimensional character, three dimensional and much more visual to a reader. BUT, in the yin and yang of things, the wrong word/phrase can destroy the reader’s belief in the character. A disaster that must be avoided at all costs.
Let me give you an example. Let’s say your character is a builder. Big, burly, muscled in all the right places. Would he really say “goodness me” if things go wrong? Likewise, would a solicitor say “blimey or wotcha pal’? No, of course not, but you’ll be surprised at how many writers make this fateful slip. Dialogue should read like real speech. But, in saying that, real speech has words and sounds that would be distracting if included on a page. So you need to act like a filter too. An author has many caps. That is always good to remember!
Now comes the tricky part. When it’s all down and you’re happy with it, you now need to cut out the words and phrases that don’t serve the conversation’s purpose. Dialogue should be used to move the story forward while bringing your characters to life. The reader doesn’t want to hear a mish mash of thoughts and comments that have nothing to do with the story. They will start to line skip. That turns into page skimming and the reader losing interest all together. I once read a book where half a chapter was dedicated to a characters operation. Why? If the story doesn’t move on from the dialogue, cut it out altogether. Characters do chat, but they should be drip feeding information to the reader from it. But do be careful. Never be too obvious that you’re communicating information; otherwise you run the risk of info dumping. My rule of thumb is give no character more than three uninterrupted sentences at once. Trust me. The reader will remember details from earlier in the story.
Make sure you break up dialogue with action, because physical details help to break up the words on the page. If it’s all talk, the reader will get bored. Have arms thrown up in supplication, chairs scrapped across the floor, eyes filling with tears, screams, shouts, laughter...whatever it takes to make your character real.
Now we get to tag lines. The bane of every writer’s life to write and read. If you put the feeling into the dialog you won’t need to use them at all. Try not to say ‘he said angrily, she said sadly. This can be taken as author interference. Instead, put the feeling into the dialogue. Don’t try too hard to vary tags. Veering too much beyond “he said/she said” draws attention to them. If you write “interjected,” or “he sighed,” you’ve now drawn the reader out of the action you’re trying to create. If your dialogue is working well, none of these words in the tag line will be needed.
Last, but by no means least, we come to the most important point of all. Punctuate dialogue correctly. Nothing is more distracting to an editor than a writer who doesn’t know how to use punctuation. You can polish your manuscript until it shines, but it will be all for nothing if it’s covered in punctuation errors.
I hope my ideas help in some way. I look forward to hearing your comments and I’ll be back next Thursdays with more Food for Thought.
Sunday, April 10, 2011
In economic times like these, flexibility is necessary to keep a project like this alive. Intellectually I know I must be willing to flow and change with the times. I must allow myself to be open to the mystery! Ironic isn't it? I have been stubborn and angry about the decisions I need to make, because it means giving up my baby, as originally conceived. But all babies grow and change, and you cannot keep a baby in the same form it was born in. Somehow my resistance to change, my anger, my fanciful wish to keep things status quo, has kept me from giving myself the time I need to concentrate and investigate what might become of Psyche's Journey. This avoidance also keeps me from seeing (and feeling hopeful again) what my baby might become! My little insight this morning was that I need to allow myself the time to open my eyes and really look at the possibilities. In that netherworld I realized that my resistance was really to an old pressure to accommodate to outside forces, and yes, THAT makes me angry! Perhaps remembering that I have my own standpoint, will allow me to open up and consider all that is necessary for a satisfying resolution.
When all the creative work for my very first issue of Psyche's Journey was finally ready to be put into a tangible form (3 years ago) my graphic designer and I worked solidly for a good month to make sure the look and feel of the first issue was just right. When it went to print, I went through probably 6 or 7 attempts with the printer to get the colors to match my vision. It was a very long process, and somewhere towards the end, my graphic designer and I had a good laugh when I told her my daughter had to be taken by C-section after being a week overdue! That was 16 and a half years ago, but I think I might still have a little issue with holding on too long! This baby needs to be born, both my MD and Graphic Designer tell me! The paradox is that I need to make space to hold to my own values and vision, AND take in all the necessary nourishment that will allow for a full gestation and successful birth. Of course I would do that for a real baby, so why not my soul child too?
How do you hold true to yourself without caving in to outside pressures?
Have you had to change your creative projects to meet the changing times? I would love to hear your thoughts! My eyes and ears are open! Thanks!
To see my soul child in her current state: www.psychesjourney.org New PJ blog coming soon too!
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Margaret will be writing in, every Thursday, with her feature "Food for Thought", sharing her insights, opinions and knowledge on the big-wide-world-of-books and the even bigger-wider-world. Make sure to drop by, as Margaret may even host author-interviews for us!
Here's a little bit more about Margaret and her book, Abigail Cottage.
Born in England, Margaret moved to the Kent countryside five years ago to get away from the busy life in London. She married with two grown up children. She is a working medium, based in a London Spiritualist church and when not writing her novels, works as an Angel Therapist, Crystal Therapist, Parapsychologist and Psychic Development tutor.
She’s been writing over 20 years in various fields. Academic modules, Novels, short stories, magazine columns and Blue Mountain Sympathy card range. Her main love is writing Paranormal and Romance, incorporating her spiritual experiences into her books. To learn more about Margaret, please visit: www.margaretwest.net
Probably the darkest paranormal romance you will ever read.
When Abigail falls in love with Justin she can’t begin to know the world of hurt she is heading into. Gorgeous, kind, rich – he’s the man we all dream to meet. BUT, all is not what it seems because Justin is a true demon from hell, disguised as a mortal being. He wants her and will do, kill or maim anyone who tries to stop him. Namely Shaun the real hero, who wants Abigail more! So what does a mortal man do against a demon? He enlists the help of a gypsy of course. But not any old gypsy. Rosa knows Justin very well and has the powers of the spirit world on her side to fight him. Using crystals as a powerful weapon, the light of the spirit world to lead them, they embark on a battle with the whole of the underworld. Many loved ones will lose their lives. This isn’t a book where everyone survives. In real life, bad things happen. In Abigail Cottage, terrible tragedies occur too. Believe... not every story can have a happy ending.
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Sunday, April 3, 2011
Last Sunday was the last of a series of six sessions of Guided Imagery Music Therapy I had been gifted with, in the name of helping a Master's level Music Therapist trying out a new technique. I loved hearing new music that connected to something inside, resulting in new images I put down on paper as I followed my impulses. I was re-rooted in my love of drawing. I was given feedback at the end of our final session that resonate with my thoughts this morning. This young woman, probably 30 years my junior, told me that witnessing my process inspired her to look at herself, consider how she could mirror me and in that way it was beneficial for her personal growth. She determined to continue her study of GIM. I had given her the gift of seeing how her work matters, and how we are all connected. This intertwines with my post this morning, not only because my GIM session was the reason I was rushing around last Sunday morning, not writing this post! It is also a reminder to me, that all our work matters. We are mirrors to each other, and we reflect what we need to see in each other.
What inspires you, and sustains your belief in your own creativity?