While you are waiting…on that book contract- Advice #3

Hello my friends.  So…you’re still waiting on that book contract, eh?

By now you probably have received several rejections from agents stating your manuscript “doesn’t fit their list” or they weren’t taken in or wowed by your work.  That’s okay.  Don’t give up.  Remember, you will get a mountain of rejections and it only takes one acceptance to not only put you ‘over the top’ in happy, gleeful mode but also to publish that book you worked so hard on.  Don’t give up my friends. As a recent friend told me about my own two manuscripts I am waiting for contracts (it’s been 2 months going on 3)- “Be patient.  It will come.”  Sound advice.  Still hard to be patient but sound advice, regardless.

So, what else can you do besides twiddling your thumbs, waiting for your life to begin?  Well… have you considered…

—   Reading a good book —-

Now, I didn’t mean taking one of your ‘oldies but goodies’ off the shelf, that you personally wrote, to re-read it.  No.  I meant to read one by an author you like, in the same genre you write.  They say the more you read, the better your writing style because you learn from others’.  Each person is different and approaches writing from different backgrounds, different angles and therefore each author’s writing approach and style is varied too.  So, why not take this time to catch up on that reading list you never got to because you were too busy crafting your masterpiece.  It’s in the hands of those who would publish your book.   Let them take their time reviewing your work and battling it out  as to who is best to publish your book while you forge ahead and work on increasing your skills for your future success.

During this ‘down-time’ do something fun and helpful to add to your knowledge- read and study how authors describe different scenes, portray different actions, like facial expressions, for instance, or what words/descriptors do they use to show (not tell):  hunger, need, and even desire.  There are certain expressions that we do every day with our face that are very hard to put into words to describe to our readers.  I still have great difficulty doing so and, most of the time, have to stop and think about what I am actually doing when I am re-enacting the facial gesture or tic I am trying to describe.

Writing is definitely a creative process- it is art in written form- but it won’t be if we can’t come up with the basics (paint, brush, canvas) in order to create that awesome, vivid, oil painting we have in our heads.  So, read more than one author, determine which authors you like and why.  What is it about that author’s writing that you like?  What are they doing differently than you?  Is it something you can incorporate into your own work?

Till next time, take care my friends and read…read…read.  Reading others’ work will help you hone in on your own style and carve out a better writer in you.

While you are waiting…on that book contract – Advice #2

So…you’re still waiting on that glorious contract for your completed manuscript to come through?  It’s been months of toe-tapping, nail biting, hair pulling exhaustion but you’re still alive and, for the most part, emotionally intact… until now.  You need something else to do.  Have you thought of:

—– Your Future, i.e.  coming up with a back-up plan —–

First of all, give yourself a deadline, an estimated time-frame for when you expect to receive a contract from that reputable publisher.  Mark it on a calendar, or even better, on a dry-erase board.  Next, really consider what you will do if a contract never arrives.  What’s your next step?  Consider your options, every angle and determine what’s best for you.

Should you self-publish, go with a vanity publisher, a small press publisher, or maybe ‘throw in the towel’ for now and re-visit the idea of publishing your book at a later time?  You can also consider the possibility of going into another creative arena you haven’t considered instead of writing books.  Whatever you do, consider your ‘end goal.’  What do you ultimately see yourself doing in the future?

If, for instance, you push the book aside to re-visit it later, give yourself a bit of time to step away from it and the hair raising stressful period you went through to try to get it published.  Continue living your life, doing things you like, enjoying your time apart and then come back to your book and edit it.  Polish up, at least, the first five chapters for that’s what publishers concentrate on.  As soon as they open your book, they want to be drawn in immediately- by the conclusion of the first chapter if not by the ending of the first three paragraphs of the manuscript.

Gone are the days of opening up the first chapter by rambling endlessly about the color and formation of the clouds in the sky or the crispness of the grass underneath among other references to nature that would have any modern day editor or publisher passed out and foaming from the mouth.  Unfortunately, the average reader wants immediate action at the very beginning of the book.  The slow periods can come later, when the characters are established, in Chapters 10-13 or even 27.

Look at action vs. passive words and tenses.  Eliminate filler words that are unnecessary to get the point across.  Do all this before re-submitting your manuscript a second time to different agents and publishers.  If you’ve self- edited the book and still don’t think you have it quite right, you might want to consider investing in a professional editor that could review the first couple of chapters if not your entire book.  Sometimes there are opportunities to have your first couple of chapters reviewed, as part of the fee you pay, when registering for writing classes online.

Have you considered a local writer’s critique group?  I must caution you on this, though.  Granted some critique groups may be awesome and filled with useful tips and information but be careful.  I would suggest attending one as a guest at the beginning, listening to the attendees read pieces of their work  and scoping out the writers in the group to determine if they are open to your genre.  I attended a critique group a few years ago, excited by the prospect of being among my own kind:  dedicated individuals who wrote books, were passionate about it and knew everything I was going through.  I looked forward to the camaraderie and support but what I got instead was personally insulted at the very beginning of the group session by a female writer who hadn’t even heard my work yet.  Of course, when she learned I wrote paranormal romance, she then insulted my topic while several others followed suit, unable to appreciate that I was writing a fictional story for pure entertainment purposes.  So, take heed my friends- joining a writing critique group can be a double edged sword.

Lastly, consider if you re-submit your work and there are still no takers.  What is your back-up plan then?  Create one and stick with it…just in case.

While you are waiting…on that book contract

For an author, waiting for a contract is a frustrating, painstaking process.  But the waiting time is inevitable and it will occur regardless if you’re ready for it or not. What you do during the time in between when you submit your book proposal with your fingers crossed and get that contract to publish your work, is up to you.

This mini-series of blogs will help you with constructive ideas on how to successfully pass through the dreaded, sometimes very long, idle moments in between.

Advice:  Do something you need to do or have procrastinated/put on the ‘back burner’ for a rainy day.

Let me tell you, my friends, that ‘rainy day’ is here.

If there’s something you’ve postponed or haven’t started, now is a good time to get that project checked off your to-do-list.  Sometimes, it can be as simple as calling a friend, writing a long overdue personal note or letter, going to visit someone dear or maybe it’s finishing up some some chores or delving into house projects you need more time to complete.  At least get it started.  It’s a great way to take your mind off your focus of getting a contract and it’ll make you feel like you’re accomplishing something and progressing forward, in the meantime.

Spending time with friends is always fun though it’s hard sometimes to come up with free hours in order to do so.  Now that you have submitted your polished manuscript and are waiting, you have some extra time.  Being with friends, people who understand and support you, will uplift your spirits too.  But if it’s impossible:  your schedules conflict and you can’t come up with a mutual time and day or if you and your ‘bestie’ live too far away from each other then maybe you can resort to the old fashioned tradition of writing a letter.

Whether it be e-mailed, typed or hand-written and mailed, writing a letter to a friend can help us too for when we are writing, we are expressing ourselves, our worries, our hopes, and we can get into some deep stuff we don’t often divulge when face to face with someone.

So whatever you’ve been ‘putting off’:  that’s important to you, is necessary, or will help you in some way, go ahead and do it now.  During this time of dreaded inertia, it is important that you continue to take care of yourself, progress forward and enjoy life.

Take care, my friends.

Why ‘switching things up’ can be a good thing

Sometimes, as a writer, things can get overwhelming, especially when you are trying to juggle several demands (work, relationships, family) at once.  Then add to that- seeking a publisher or an agent and all the work entailed with that process (following specific formats catered to each individual you contact, weeding through the vast quantity of agents and publishers that don’t take your genre or aren’t accepting queries or submissions).  To top it off, the toe-tapping, nail biting period between submitting all your work and getting the ‘golden ticket’- what you’ve been writing for in the first place- that lovely contract that says “Yes, we want to publish your work” can be extremely long.  Even one day can seem like several and a month akin to a year.

So, in the meantime, what are you going to do with all your available time?  Check your e-mail every hour on the hour, expecting any minute to receive that brilliant white light of paperwork welcoming your manuscript to a new family?  You will drive yourself nuts plus it’s a real strain on your emotional health and well being, after a while.

The old saying, “if it is meant to be…” is true.  It will happen for you but only when the time is right- for you.  This can be frustrating and it often is for debut or relatively new authors wanting to get their product out, trying to make writing their career, and trying to build an audience.  But the concept of everything happening when it is supposed to happen for you is not going to change just because you’re upset you didn’t get the contract today or you received another rejection.  Remember- rejections are only one person’s opinion and they really have nothing to do with the value of your work or the long hours you spent crafting your manuscript before sending it out.

The best thing for you to do is to step back and do something else.  I know it sounds crazy but doing something fun and enjoyable just for you re-energizes you and gives you strength to carry on.  It also allows the process of flow and creation to occur in your life.  Because when you are stressed, you are blocking – and you don’t even know it.  You’re just trying, fighting, doing anything to do what you love.  This is when you need to turn off the computer, check your e-mails only once per day, and do something nice for yourself for a few days to several weeks.  Unwind, read something else for a change, focus and concentrate on something different.  For taking that crucial step back, essentially switching things up,  will allow you to continue doing what you love- later.

Take care, my friends.

2014 Best Cover- and the winner is….

Big news!  Nightfall won Best Cover 2014.

Thanks to all my family, friends, and fans for your support!  You all are awesome.

Nightfall 2014 best cover