RSS

Tag Archives: Writers Resources

What’s YOUR Agent Pitch?

Happy Monday! Hope everyone had a great, productive weekend. I must admit that mine wasn’t spent writing. It was in fact, a “handyman” type of weekend. I installed a new kitchen faucet, worked on my truck and well yeah, I did admittedly have fun as well. I suppose I was ashamed to admit that I didn’t get any writing done but hey, the things I DID accomplish can give some great writing ideas. Right?

 

So I have found a workshop that appears to look pretty good. It’s with Writers Digest. I do have to admit that I have personally never taken any of their workshops but have heard from others that they are pretty good.

 

This one is taking place this Thursday, so I wanted to get word out there. Here’s what you’ll learn:

•How to make the perfect pitch

•How to deliver the flavor your book to whet the reader’s appetite for more

•How to keep the momentum going through the All-Important-Page-One

•How to start in a logical place—yet from a compelling perch

•How to identify the most exciting elements that illustrate your work

•How to encapsulate (in clear core points) when proposing a book

•The five key takeaways you need to entice an agent/editor

•How to amplify your chances for being selected

•What to do—and what not to do—when summarizing your book in 200-250 words. You want the neurons in the agent’s mind to decide, “Yes, keep reading!”

If you want to see more and/or register, click http://www.writersdigestshop.com/from-pitch-to-page-one-webinar.

 

Have a great, Happy Monday! (Evin – http://www.saplingpublishing.com)

Advertisements
 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Where Do Writers Find Inspiration?

I definitely struggle with this from time to time. I’m certain that most writers do. So what the heck do you do? Where do you go to find inspiration when it seems to be missing?

 

To add, I know that I have began to write down my dreams when they seem really cool or interesting. I have been finding sections where I can enter them into my first novel.

 

Here are 31 really cool ways by Leo Babauta (http://writetodone.com/2008/03/03/31-ways-to-find-inspiration-for-your-writing/):

 

1.    Blogs. This is one of my favorites, of course. Aside from this blog, there are dozens of great blogs on writing and every topic under the sun. I like to read about what works for others — it inspires me to action!

 

2.    Books. Maybe my favorite overall. I read writers I love (read about my current loves) and then I steal from them, analyze their writing, get inspired by their greatness. Fiction is my favorite, but I’ll devour anything. If you normally read just a couple of your favorite authors, try branching out into something different. You just might find new inspiration.

 

3.    Overheard dialog. If I’m anywhere public, whether it be at a park or a mall or my workplace, sometimes I’ll eavesdrop on people. Not in a gross way or anything, but I’ll just keep quiet, and listen. I love hearing other people have conversations. Sometimes it doesn’t happen on purpose — you can’t help but overhear people sometimes. If you happen to overhear a snippet of interesting dialog, jot it down in your writing journal as soon as possible. It can serve as a model or inspiration for later writing.

 

4.    Magazines. Good magazines aren’t always filled with great writing, but you can usually find one good piece of either fiction or non-fiction. Good for its writing style, its voice, its rhythm and ability to pull you along to the end. These pieces inspire me. And bad magazines, while perhaps not the best models for writing, can still be inspirations for ideas for good blog posts. These magazines, as they don’t draw readers with great writing, find interesting story angles to attract an audience.

 

5.    Movies. Sometimes, while watching a movie, a character will say something so interesting that I’ll say, “That would make a great blog post!” or “I have to write that in my writing journal!” Sometimes screenwriters can write beautiful dialog. Other times I get inspired by the incredible camera work, the way that a face is framed by the camera, the beauty of the landscape captured on film.

 

6.    Forums. When people write on forums, they rarely do so for style or beauty (there are exceptions, of course, but they’re rare). Forumers are writing to convey information and ideas. Still, those ideas can be beautiful and inspiring in and of themselves. They can inspire more ideas in you. I’m not saying you have to read a wide array of forums every day, but if you’re looking for information, trawling some good forums isn’t a bad idea.

 

7.    Art. For the writer aspiring to greater heights, there is no better inspiration that great art, in my experience. While it doesn’t compare to the experience of seeing the art in person, I like to find inspiring works of art and put it on my computer desktop for contemplation (Michelangelo’s Pieta is there right now). It doesn’t have to be classical works, though — I’ve found inspiration in Japanese anime, in stuff I’ve found on deviantart.com, in local artists in my area.

 

8.    Music. Along the same lines, it can be inspiring to download and play great music, from Mozart to Beethoven to the Beatles to Radiohead. Play it in the background as you write, and allow it to lift you up and move you.

 

9.    Friends. Conversations with my friends, in real life, on the phone or via IM, have inspired some of my best posts. They stir up my ideas, contribute ideas of their own, and they fuse into something even more brilliant than either of us could have created.

 

10.    Writing groups. Whether online or in your community, writing groups are great ways to get energy and motivation for your writing. My best short stories were done in a writing group in my local college (a great place to look for such groups, btw), as we read out our work to the group, critiqued them and made suggestions. The work of the other writers inspired me to do better.

 

11.    The Pocket Muse . A book full of writing inspirations. Can’t beat that!

 

12.    Quotes. I don’t know why it’s so, but great quotes help inspire me. I like to go to various quote sites to find ideas to spark my writing, turns of phrase that show what can be done with the language, motivation for self-improvement. Try these for a start: Writing Quotes and Quotes for Writers.

 

13.    Nature. Stuck for ideas? Go for a walk or a jog. Get away from sidewalks and into grass and trees and fields and hills. Appreciate the beauty around you, and let the inspiration flow through you. Sunsets and sunrises, of course, are two of my favorite uplifting scenes of nature, and anything involving water is also awesome (oceans, rivers, lakes, rain, rivulets, even puddles).

 

14.    History. It can be unexpected, but great people in history can inspire you to greatness. My favorites include Benjamin Franklin, Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Helen Keller, Leonardo da Vinci, and other greats.

 

15.    Travel. Whether it be halfway around the world, or a day trip to the next town or national park, getting out of your usual area and discovering new places and people and customs can be one of the best inspirations for writing. Use these new places to open up new ways of seeing.

 

16.    Children. I have six kids, and they are my favorite people in the world (my wife and siblings and parents being right up there too). I love to spend quiet time with them, taking walks or reading. I love to have fun with them, playing board games or having pillow fights. And during these times I spend with them, I’m often reflective, about life, about humanity, about love. I suggest that children, with their fresh outlook on the world, can change the way you view things.

 

17.    Exercise. I get my best ideas most often while running. There’s something about the quietness, combined with the increased flow of blood through your brain, combined with being out in the fresh air with nature, that really stimulates the mind.

 

18.    Religion. Many of you aren’t religious (and many are) but it doesn’t matter much — the great religions in the world have ideas in them that are beautiful and inspiring. I’ve studied some of the writings of not only Christianity and Judaism but Islam, Bahai’i, Buddhism, Taoism, and many cultures with multiple nature gods. I can’t say I’m an expert at any of these religions, but I can say that any time I’ve spent reading the ideas of religion have paid off for me in inspiration.

 

19.    Newspapers. I used to be a newspaper reporter and editor, and I’ve become jaded to newspapers. The news seems like an endless cycle of the same thing, happening over and over again. However, if you know how to look, you can find human-interest stories that are inspiring. Stories about people who have triumphed over adversity. (Edit: I had “diversity” instead of “adversity” here and have now corrected … thanks for the catch, Bill!)

 

20.    Dreams. I’m not very good at this, but at times in my life I’ve tried keeping a dream journal by my bedside and writing down what I can remember when I wake up. Not because I think it’ll tell me something about myself or my future or past, but because dreams are so interesting in their complete disregard for the rules of reality, for their otherworldness and plot twists.

 

21.    Writing journal. I highly recommend this for any writer. It doesn’t have to be fancy, or something you write in every day. Just a plain notebook will do, although a nice journal can be motivating. Write down thoughts and inspirations and quotes and snippets of good writing you find and pieces of dialog and plot ideas and new characters. Then go back to this journal when you need ideas or inspiration.

 

22.    Del.icio.us. This popular bookmarking site is a treasure trove of great articles and blog posts and resources. I don’t do this much, but sometimes I’ll browse through these links to find examples of great writing by others. While you shouldn’t steal these ideas, you can often adapt them to your particular blog topic, or use the ideas to spark new ones of your own.

 

23.    Poetry. How can poetry inspire prose? Through its beauty and flow and style and use of rhythm and play on words. Through its use of language and music.

 

24.    Shakespeare. He’s not the only playwright, of course, but he’s undoubtedly the greatest, and the greatest master of the English language as well. While his writing can be difficult for those not used to the language of his time, a study of even one of his plays pays off immensely. The Bard wrote beautifully, used the largest vocabulary of any English writer, invented his own words, made up interesting phrases that are used to this day, had more puns and twists of words than any writer I know. There is no writer more deserving of our study and more inspirational to other writers.

 

25.    Google. Stuck for ideas? The old standby, Google, has often helped me out. I’ll just search for the topic I’m writing about and find tons of great resources. (Evin adds…just remember plagarism. Quote your sources!)

 

26.    Freewriting. One of the best ways to get unstuck if you’re uninspired. Just start writing. Anything. It doesn’t matter. Don’t edit, don’t pause, don’t think. Just write and let it flow. You’ll end up with a lot of garbage, probably, but it’ll help you get out of your rut and you might just write some really good stuff among all that garbage.

 

27.    Brainstorms. Similar to freewriting, but instead of writing prose you’re writing ideas. Just let them flow. Speed and quantity is more important than quality. Within this brainstorm of ideas, you’ll most likely find a few nuggets of greatness. One of my favorite ways to get ideas.

 

28.    Flickr. If fine paintings and sculpture inspire you to greater heights, photography of some of the most talented people in the world can show what everyday humans can do if they try. I like Flickr.com, a real wealthy of amazing photography. Just browse through to find some wonderful inspiration.

 

29.    Breaking your routines. Get out of your rut to see things from a new perspective. If you usually take one route to work, try a couple others. If you usually get up, get ready for work, and leave, try exercising in the morning or watching the sunrise. If you usually watch TV at the end of the day, try reading or writing instead. Shake things up.

 

30.    Success stories. Another of my favorites. When I was training for my first marathon, for example, I read all kinds of success stories of people who had run their first marathon. It inspired me to keep going. There are success stories for writing, or anything else you’d like to do, that will inspire your brains out.

 

31.    People watching. This is an interesting activity for any writer. Go to a busy public place and just sit and watch people. They’ll amuse you, inspire you, and fascinate you. There’s nothing more inspiring than humanity.

 

What are you waiting for???? (Evin – http://www.mrgurupublishing.com)

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Interview with Dean Koontz

Happy Monday! Regarding the title of today’s post…how many of you thought that I actually interviewed Dean Koontz? Let’s see a raise of hands. Just kidding but, I do wish I had been the one to conduct the interview however I’m not quite that famous or well known in the industry. Not yet. So in the meantime, I have found an interview for you to enjoy. I think we can learn a lot from famous authors and how they got their starts. Taken straight from http://www.deankoontz.com/writing-qa/:

You had an agent in your early years tell you that you’d never be a best-selling writer. Did that discourage you or make you more determined to succeed?

 

I have more self-doubt than any writer I’ve ever known. That is one reason I revise every page to the point of absurdity! The positive aspect of self-doubt – if you can channel it into useful activity instead of being paralyzed by it – is that by the time you reach the end of a novel, you know precisely why you made every decision in the narrative, the multiple purposes of every metaphor and image. Having been your own hardest critic you still have dreams but not illusions. Consequently, thoughtless criticism or advice can’t long derail you. You become disappointed in an agent, in an editor, in a publisher, but never discouraged. If anyone in your publishing life were to argue against a particular book or a career aspiration for reasons you had not already pondered and rejected after careful analysis, if they dazzled you with brilliant new considerations, then you’d have to back off and revisit your decisions. But what I was told never dazzled me. For example, I was often advised, by different people, that my work would never gain a big audience because my vocabulary was too large.

 

It’s been said that writers reveal their own struggles, fears, dreams, etc. through their work. Which of your novels reveals the most about you?

 

Everything I believe about life and death, culture and society, relationships and the self, God and nature–everything winds up in the books, not in one more than another, but equally, title after title. A body of work, therefore, reveals the intellectual and emotional progress of the writer, and is a map of his soul. It’s both terrifying and liberating to consider this aspect of being a novelist.

 

I’ve read that you will rewrite a page until it’s right before moving on, sometimes redoing a draft thirty or forty times. This must make for a slow process. Approximately how long does it take you to write one novel?

 

I work 10- and 11-hour days because in long sessions I fall away more completely into story and characters than I would in, say, a six-hour day. On good days, I might wind up with five or six pages of finished work; on bad days, a third of a page. Even five or six is not a high rate of production for a 10- or 11-hour day, but there are more good days than bad. And the secret is doing it day after day, committing to it and avoiding distractions. A month–perhaps 22 to 25 work days–goes by and, as a slow drip of water can fill a huge cauldron in a month, so you discover that you have 75 polished pages. The process is slow, but that’s a good thing. Because I don’t do a quick first draft and then revise it, I have plenty of time to let the subconscious work; therefore, I am led to surprise after surprise that enriches story and deepens character. I have a low boredom threshold, and in part I suspect I fell into this method of working in order to keep myself mystified about the direction of the piece–and therefore entertained. A very long novel, like FROM THE CORNER OF HIS EYE can take a year. A book like THE GOOD GUY, six months.

 

You are one of the most prolific fiction writers of our time. What keeps you going?

 

In addition to the enchantment with language and storytelling, there is the fact that I wouldn’t know what the hell to do if I were not doing this. Some leisure is fine, but not an unrelieved diet of downtime. I’m also writing to ensure that our foundation–which focuses largely on organizations for the severely disabled, critically ill children, and dogs–will be deeply funded and able to support those organizations long after Gerda and I are gone.

 

You are known as perhaps the hardest working novelist of our time. To what do you attribute your work ethic?

 

Two things. First, I am enchanted by the English language, by its beauty and flexibility, also by the power of storytelling to expand the mind and lift the heart. Language and story offer possibilities –intriguing challenges–that I couldn’t exhaust in many lifetimes. The work is joy when it’s going well, even when it isn’t. Second, I believe that talent is a gift and that it comes with the sacred obligation to polish and grow it.

 

As a young writer, did you encounter rejection?–Allison, Pennsylvania

 

I sold the first short story I wrote. Then I received over 75 rejections before making another sale. My first four novels were never published. Later, after I’d been selling genre fiction routinely, I wrote a mainstream novel, ALL OTHER MEN. Editors sent me enthusiastic letters about it, said they loved it, but turned it down because they felt it was too disturbing and too avant garde to be commercial. But let me get to the heart of your question: young writer. There seems to be an implication here that I’m no longer young. I am as young now, Allison, as I have ever been, and not because of any form of dementia. I am young because my work keeps me young and the daily wrestling with our beautiful and supple language keeps me limber and youthful, as well. You may think that is bullshit, and it is, but it’s a sincere kind of bullshit.

 

How important were college creative-writing courses to your success?—Alberto, Washington

 

I’m sure that the right teacher, in a well-designed course, can be a great help to beginning writers who are trying to find their way, but I have no personal experience of that. I found my own way by doing two things. First, I read 150 books a year, sometimes more, (very little TV, later no blogging, no e-mail, that’s how), fiction in all genres, contemporary novels but also the classics, poetry, and a variety of nonfiction. Second, I revise every page of a novel twenty or thirty times, whatever it takes, before moving on to the next page. This line-by-line immersion focuses me intently on language, character, and theme. I began this ceaseless polishing out of self-doubt, as a way of preventing self-doubt from turning into writer’s block: by doing something with the unsatisfactory page, I wasn’t just sitting there brooding about it. I have more self-doubt than any writer I know, which seems healthy to me, and now this method of working, this line-by-line immersion, no longer seems arduous; instead, it delights me. While my conscious mind is on the micro world of a single page, my unconscious is always working on the macro world of the entire novel.

 

When did you decide you were destined to be a writer? At what point in your life? —Marcy, New Jersey

 

After a devastating ankle injury forever ended my ice-dancing career. Actually, nothing is destined. Everything depends on the unstinting exercise of free will, and hard work.

Have a good one. (Evin – http://www.mrgurupublishing.com)

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,