Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Lose the Must

If you all didn't know, over the holidays Agent Jessica Faust over at Bookends took pitches and randomly critiqued them. Of course I read through them and added one of my own. :-)

Some pitches were good, interesting, succinct. Some were not. And some just made my brain hurt. In all of these, a common word began to pound at my eyes.

MUST

The hero must do this. The heroine must do that. But somehow the pitches were not setup in such a way that I felt like the protagonist "must" do anything.

This is bad, but I'll confess it anyways. All those musts began to annoy me. I began to grit my teeth every time I saw one.

Lesson: Don't use must. Just say what the protagonist decides to do.

I just discovered this pet peeve, so I hope I haven't offended anyone with this post. It's only my opinion, which is only worth the value you give it. :-) Anyways, I thought you all would be interested in reading those pitches. It is a great exercise to see what works and what doesn't.

Did you read them? What stood out to you?

*I've never pitched an agent before so this is only my unprofessional opinion. I have no background in pitching at all.*

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Back In Business

Christmas is over, can you believe it? For my family it was a lovely time. No drama, no fighting, just yummy food and laughter.

But now it's time to shake off the addictive lethargy of dark chocolate and apple pie and push myself back into the groove of things.

My goals include finishing my wip before 2009, revising and submitting a different manuscript to an editor, and beginnning a new story. I also want to put my family before my writing and make sure they don't get shoved to the side. Which reminds me. I probably should make a goal of reading my Bible every day. It's ironic to sit down and write romances that glorify God, when I haven't even spoken to God before putting fingers to keyboard. But that's a post for another day. :-)

My fears: Seeing my eldest off to kindergarten. How humiliating to know that I feel teary thinking about it, and this big event is months away.

Finally, my dreams for 2009 include landing an agent or a contract. At this point in my writing, either feat would propell me to a state of bliss for weeks on end.

What are your goals, fears and dreams for 2009?

Monday, December 22, 2008

'Tis the Season...

For a blog break. :-)

In the meantime-

"For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but should have everlasting life."

And-

"...looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the JOY (that's us) that was set before him endured the cross..."

It's my prayer that as you celebrate Christmas, exchanging gifts and hopefully experiencing joy, you'll know about the greatest Gift of all, given out of love. Given out of a passionate desire for relationship.
Because of this, Jesus sacrificed himself to break the sinful divide. And he counted our being near to him as Joy.

Sounds like Good News to me!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Comic Heroes

We watched Batman: The Dark Knight last night. It was very good. I couldn't help but contrast Batman to Ironman.

Not the movies, but the heroes.

In Batman, in his normal state, the hero comes across as suave, sophisticated and somewhat serious. (I thought) In Ironman, our hero is completely different. Rakish, a charmer. Hilarious too.

Different personalities and yet both undeniably heroic.

Have you seen these movies? What kind of heroic traits do you like to see in the male protagonist of a story?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Interesting Posts

A new blog is coming to town! Hosted by four fabulous writers, MuseTracks is going to cover all sorts of delicious writing tools, tips and probably gossip. LOL They just started so maybe you can pop over and check them out.

Interested in a manuscript critique? Story Sensei is offering a discount on full critiques. Camy Tang is a good author and very knowledgeable about the craft. Her synopsis class was also super helpful.

Then Susan Reinhardt has an interview with Linore Burkard. This author is especially interesting because she self-pubbed her first book and it was so good that a Harvest House editor asked to publish it. At least, that's what I've heard. :-)

Recently, I read a bestseller that, while interesting, contained no character arc for the heroine. NONE. Then I found this excellent post by Amy Deardon and thought you guys might be interested in reading it. She brings up popular characters who are also static. (unchanging)

What do you guys think? Do you agree? Have you read or watched anything lately in which the protagonist has NO character arc? If so, what do you think kept you interested in the story?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Passive vs Active

I don't think I've posted about this before. A lot of people think passive writing is simply using the word "was".

It's not.

You can have 'was' in a sentence and it still be active.

A passive sentence is one in which the action happens to the subject, rather than the subject performing the action. However, the word 'was' usually indicates weak writing. So check that manuscript!

A word of caution. I'm reading a HUGE bestseller that's filled with 'was's. I keep mentally rearranging the sentences. So don't go overboard and change everything. Sometimes 'was' is necessary and sometimes it makes the sentence sound better.

The important thing is that your writing zings. Watch out for passives and that will help propel your words to a stronger level.

Here's some links to articles that say it better than me:

http://www.absolutewrite.com/novels/passive_writing.htm

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/284976/active_writing_vs_passive_writing.html

http://ezinearticles.com/?Writing-Tip:-Active-vs.-Passive-Verbs&id=301033 (Notice in this article that both sentences contain the word was.)

When did you learn about passive/active voice? Before or after your first finished manuscript?

Me? After. :-)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sorry Y'all

After battling a cold and five little boys (lol) I'm tuckered out. So the next "real" post will be Tuesday.
In the meantime, I have so many books that I want to do another book giveaway, but this time it's going to be a contest of sorts.
I have a fun idea...
And can't wait to see what you think. More on that later.

At the risk of sounding corny, Happy Sunday everyone!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Addicted

Anybody notice how the word count changes on my counter like every day?
That's because I'm addicted to it.

There's this marvelous thrill that races through me every time I see the percentage go up a point. And strangely enough, this motivates me to write.

What motivates you? Is it strange? Do tell....

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Joy of Writing

Last night I forced myself to sit down and do my words, even though I really wanted to watch a movie.

It didn't take long to get in the groove of things, and then suddenly, my hero was throwing the heroine over his shoulder! She shrieked, and then bit him, of course. As I wrote I heard myself chuckling. It felt so good. Even though this scene, or at least movement, will probably need to be cut later, I loved writing it.

Writing to be published often means we tailor certain aspects of our stories to fit a publisher's needs. But sometimes we should let loose and go wild. I think Rita mentioned that in yesterday's comments. Just writing to write. No worries, no stress.

My scene is pertinent to the book but if I have to cut the hero's action later on, it'll be okay.

Writing it made me laugh. And at this moment (rough draft stage) that's all that counts to me.

Have you ever done this? Loved what you were writing so much that you kept going, even though you might have to hit the delete key later on?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Quality or Quantity?

It's something I'm often faced with when writing. Do I try to get my thousand words in while the kids are napping? Or do I write the best I can, tightening my prose before I move on?

Whenever I mutter about getting my word count done, lovely Hubby points out that I should worry about the quality not the quantity. Then my jaw about snaps off because I'm gritting my teeth so hard.

I believe it was Nora Roberts who said thefamous quote about being able to fix a bad page but not a blank page. That advice went straight to my writing soul.

So now I live for my word count. And since I don't plot much, I know there are tons of revisions ahead. But as long as I finish I'm happy.

How about you? What's your philosophy and does it work for you?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Weekend Greetings

Good morning everyone! I hope your weekend is going well.

Yesterday I met with a group of writers in the Tampa area and it was SO wonderful. Meeting people online is wonderful, but in person is even better. Though I admit to being extremely nervous and probably talking too much about myself.

Eek.

Anyways, do you guys have other writers you talk to? Or are you like me and sit solitary in the chair, writing but never talking. The whole face-to-face thing is awesome. If you don't know anyone who writes, I encourage you to get on the net and see if there's a group nearby.

Writers often have many things in common. I used to feel a little weird (and alone) with my imagination, quietness, bookworminess. But meeting other writers for the first time two years ago at the Florida Christian Writer Conference, and then again yesterday, has been incredible. And if nerve-wracking, it was also a great rush.

How do you feel about writing groups? Or do you prefer the keyboard?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Query Wars

Lately it seems I've been sending them out, but not getting them in. I'm beginning to wonder if my e-mail address is hitting the spamguards and getting chucked to the spam box. Ironically, the snail mail SASES come back sooner than the e-mail.

Just in case you haven't begun formulating your query, here are a few good links.

Seekers- Make sure to read this post and the next day's. They're both very informative.

Miss Snark-She's always a good read. This particular post deals with one of the most important things about your query letter.

Janet Reid-And this is from the agent herself. Can you believe it? I'll definitely take this advice. LOL

Rachelle Gardner- She posted this very recently, just like the Seekers. It's good to know that in the end, it's the story (and all it entails) that ultimately hooks the agent.

Charlotte Dillon- More samples of real queries that sold the story.

And there's tons more info all over the net. Are any of you in the query stage yet? Written a bad one? A good one? I'd love to hear how it's going for you. As for me, since I'm not getting any bites I'm starting to think I may need to rewrite my query.

Check out Susan's blog for a chance to win a free book!


So, is anyone going to the ACFW meeting in Tampa on Saturday? Let me know. I'd love to meet someone I "know" in person. :-)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Book Trailers

Until recently, all the ones I've seen have been boring. Nothing like a movie trailer, nothing to hook me. So I figured I'd never bother getting one made.

And then I saw Marie-Claude's. I recommend that you check it out. It's for her paranormal novel, Ancient Whispers, which also happens to be a finalist in Dorchester and Romantic Times' American Title V contest. I don't read paranormal but her trailer is incredible. I'm completely impressed. Also, on the sidebar of her website is a list of her crit partners. They have also created book trailers you might be interested in.

Anyways, the amazing thing is that she made this trailer on her computer. Free.

So now I'm working on mine.

Have you thought about creating a book trailer for your manuscript? Do you think it's an effective marketing tool?

Oh, Kristen left the first comment with a link. That was a good one too. It gave me chills.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Blessings

The other day I managed to get all my kids down for naps at the same time. It was wonderful. So I sat down on my couch and began to work on my wip.

Five minutes later the phone rang. It was my mom, who loves to chat. She asked what I was doing and I said, writing.

She said, "I'll let you go so you can get your writing done."

And we hung up.

It was an amazing moment. I've heard others say how difficult it is to carve out a writing time and have people respect it. And yes, there are people in my family who don't understand the need for aloneness.

But my mom totally blew me away. In that moment I felt incredibly blessed to have such a supportive, thoughtful family member.

Anything like this happen to you lately?