Wednesday, April 23, 2014

T is for Travel

Join me as I blog through the alphabet. We post every day in April except Sundays. There are many others participating in the 2014 A to Z Challenge too, which is the brainchild of Arlee Bird at Tossing it Out. I'd like to encourage you to visit their entertaining, informative blogs. I'm amazed at the many talented people who participate in the A to Z Challenge.

Today I've chosen the word TRAVEL, and that would be Travel by car. Trains might be fun too, but I want to travel in  conjunction with writer's conferences.

Hubby and I had planned to attend the Jambalaya Writers' Conference this year but we had a wedding to attend. We also wanted to go to Nashville this August, do a little exploring and attend the Killer Nashville conference. Daughter's wedding is that exact weekend. Something to look forward to in 2015, I guess.

There are a number of mystery conferences across the country. Key West is on our list of places to see. Here's an interesting writer's workshop, though I don't know many of these instructors. I think for me, the Mystery Writers Key West Fest sounds more fun.

There are some wonderful conferences all across the country: Arkansas, Alabama, Texas, New Orleans and Atlanta!

We haven't had a vacation in fourteen years, so Travel with a capital T is definitely on our list of things to do. And when we sit down to make our list of places we want to go, I'll research writers' conferences and plan our trip. Any suggestions?

What's the best conference you've ever attended? Do you vacation every year?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

S is for Submissions

Join me as I blog through the alphabet. We post every day in April except Sundays. There are many others participating in the 2014 A to Z Challenge too, which is the brainchild of Arlee Bird at Tossing it Out. I'd like to encourage you to visit their entertaining, informative blogs. I'm amazed at the many talented people who participate in the A to Z Challenge.

Today I'm blogging about Submissions. I haven't submitted anything to publishers or agents lately. Writing has been minimal because of wedding plans and home renovations. I've barely been online except for this A to Z Challenge. I love it, so it has my undivided attention--when it comes to posting. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to visit a lot of other blogs every day. Some days, I can visit up to eight or ten, but yesterday--nothing.

But, back to Submissions.

A few weeks ago I got frustrated and killed myself in a short mystery. When I say I killed myself, I mean I had someone else (a fictional character) kill me. It was fun to write and geared toward Woman's World Magazine. That's the colorful tabloid that's on the racks at grocery store check-outs. They publish one romance and one mystery in each issue. Remember I told you my friend Janie had  a mystery accepted and published last month.

These short stories are only 700 words. Tricky. Every word must count. I'm not certain I was very successful. We'll know soon, because that's my one and only Submission, other than my assigned article to Southern Writers Magazine.

Oh, and by the way, Woman's World Magazine requires the traditional stick-it-in-an-envelope-with- an-SASE. Feels strange to do it that way, but when I get it back, I'll know they've read it.

Have you submitted anything in the past month or two? If not, take a look at the markets below. You might have something that fits. If you have submitted, share what you have out and how long you've been waiting for a response. Or share the last thing you submitted and got accepted.

Good luck with the markets below. They're good ones!

Suddenly Lost In Words is a digital anthology looking for short stories, memoirs and poetry for Young Adult readers. Stories should be no more than 3,000 words. Payment is 5 cents a word. No deadline for submissions is listed, but you can find all the guidelines here.

Hofstra Law is sponsoring a mystery writing contest for the best crime story featuring a lawyer as the main character. First prize is $500, second place gets $200 and the third place winner receives $100. Stories should be no more than 3,500 words. The deadline for entries is May 1. See the details here.

MeeGenius, the top-selling ebook ap for children 2-8, is looking for book manuscripts geared toward this age group. Manuscripts should be 15-20 pages, with 20-70 words per page. You do not need to illustrate the work, but you may include illustration descriptions/suggestions. Find more submission details and see a sample manuscript here.


Monday, April 21, 2014

R is for Respond, Response (A Rant)

I'm blogging through the alphabet. There are many others participating in the 2014 A to Z Challenge too, which is the brainchild of Arlee Bird at Tossing it Out. We post every day in April except Sundays. 

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter weekend. My weekend wasn't long enough.

I've struggled to come up with an R word. I thought about it all weekend. I played around with the word Rewrite but since I'm not doing any rewriting, I figured my words might sound forced. Renovation certainly plays a huge part in my life right now, but I'll save that discussion for another day, with before and after pictures.  I thought about doing a Review of a book I just read but felt no passion for that either. When I finally crawled into bed with nothing to show for R, the word RESPOND flashed into my mind. It felt right.

I have a pet peeve. I absolutely detest getting NO RESPONSE from people I send gifts to, or articles or manuscripts. In this day of email, an acknowledgement is a breath away. There's no need for someone to totally disregard a stack of new towels, some mixing bowls, a hundred dollar bill or 200 pages of my heart and soul.

What are they thinking? Or are they thinking? Of course, I always hear "the parents didn't teach them to write thank you notes... or be responsible... or care... or work, or love... or RESPOND." And to that I say, I'm so tired of everything being blamed on parents. Yeah, yeah, I know it's true to a certain extent but at some point these young adults have to take responsibility for their own actions.

As for not acknowledging a manuscript, sometimes a paragraph stating If you have not heard from us within three months, you can submit elsewhere is included in the submission guidelines, but that's just a CYA kind of thing. I think it's a terrible policy. It gives them free rein with the delete button.

I remember always sticking self-addressed, stamped envelopes (SASE) in with my manuscripts. Those were the good old days. Doing so almost always guaranteed a response. At the very least, there was a certain amount of responsibility on the part of the editor/agent/office manager to acknowledge our stamp. I miss those days.

Email makes everything so much easier: easy to delete. easy to ignore. easy to say we never got it. But hey, just as easy to respond!

Writers everywhere deserve a response regarding that novel they slaved over, the article for which they interviewed three professionals, the query letter.

Aunts, sisters, moms, cousins and friends deserve a response to the gift they spent time choosing and mailing. So much for sharing in the joy, huh?

I realize I probably sound like my mother (and I've always fought that!) but I accept it now. I don't accept rudeness and inconsiderate behavior. I don't accept being ignored.

Do you send thank you notes? Are you an editor or agent who prefers not to respond? How do you feel when you don't get a response and why do you feel that way?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Q is for Questions

This is my third year to blog through the alphabet. There are many others participating in the 2014 A to Z Challenge too, which is the brainchild of Arlee Bird at Tossing it Out. We post every day in April except Sundays. And by the time Sunday comes around, we really do need a rest.

Today we have reached the letter Q and I'm blogging about Questions. Not just any old questions, but some our beta readers can answer for us when they read our completed manuscripts for the very first time. I trust that you have beta readers. We all need fresh eyes--those other than critique partners who have been over and over it again. Believe me, they're probably just as tired of our manuscripts as we are.

These questions aren't mine but I've added to them and tweaked them to fit my own manuscripts. Feel free to do the same. And remember, our beta readers need to elaborate. We need to know why they feel the way they do.

Did you like the characters?
Did they act consistently to their character throughout the story? If not, give me examples of where they didn't act consistently.
Did any of the characters annoy you? If so, which ones and why?
Are there any plot points which you felt I didn’t resolve?
Did you get a sense of place? Did the setting seem real?
Are there any loose threads that need tying up?
Did you find the pace too fast or too slow? Where?
Was there anything you felt should have happened that didn’t happen? Explain why you felt it should have happened.
Did the middle sad or did you grow bored at any point?
Did you feel like the characters grew and changed by the end of the story?
List any characters that you felt should have grown/changed but didn't.
Could you relate to the characters? Could you identify with their struggles/flaws?
Could you 'see' the characters? Do you feel as if you might recognize them if you saw then on the street?
Overall, was the story interesting?
Was the ending satisfying?
Did any repetitive words or phrases jump out at you? If so, list them.
Share any thoughts that might help make the book stronger or more vivid.

A beta reader who takes her time and reads carefully is a valuable resource. Do you have one? What do your beta readers look for? Add to this list.

And have a blessed Easter weekend! See you Monday.

P is for Pinterest

I'm blogging my way through the alphabet with many others participating in the 2014 A to Z Challenge. The A to Z Challenge is the brainchild of Arlee Bird at Tossing it Out. We post every day in April except Sundays.

P is for Pinterest. What it is it? What does it do? How and what's the point. Here's an article that will answer those questions and tell you why you'll become addicted. 

And believe me, addicted is the correct word. I believe my daughter has planned her entire wedding by searching Pinterest. We've figured out our table centerpieces (three books tied with twine), our literary couples--the happy ones! Yes, it's a literary wedding. The groom has selected his groom's table--pies, pies and more pies! Pinterest can "help" you do anything. While looking for a recipe with a certain ingredient, all I have to do is put it in the search engine and I find hundreds.

More importantly, Pinterest is great for writers. Authors are taking full advantage. Some have their entire books on Pinterest. They build visuals. In the old days we created graphic poster boards to inspire us, with everything that reminded us of our stories, but now, we post the hero and heroine's homes, their jewelry, their clothing, their faces, the city they live in with its landmarks. I haven't done it but only because I haven't found the time. I hear it's great promo!

Other authors have writing tips. I hope you can go to this page to see what it's all about. And here's a good one too! So much fun! So informative. 

I have several Pinterest boards: Praise, Prayers and Observations is filled with quotes and a few insignificant things I fancy. My second board is Heroes and Heroines I Think of While Writing. Beautiful people. My last two boards are Someday Recipes (vegetarian) and Someday Fun Projects. You can take a look at all my boards at this link.

If you have to sign in, it's simple. Don't worry about doing so. I've never received any spam or unnecessary messages from Pinterest. They do notify me when I have a new follower or someone has pinned one of my pics.

You'll have a great time creating your own writing world ... or any kind of world for that matter. You can also make it private so you don't have to share with the rest of us.

Do you pin? What's the subject of your boards? If not, why don't you give it a try? It's a new experience. It's inspiring! I love it. I know you will too!

If you pin, leave a link to your favorite board.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

O is for Organized

I'm blogging my way through the alphabet with many others participating in the 2014 A to Z Challenge. The A to Z Challenge is the brainchild of Arlee Bird at Tossing it Out. We post every day in April except Sundays.

I've made it all the way to the letter O. That makes me seem pretty Organized, doesn't it? I'm not. I'm choosing words as they come to me--sometimes the day or night before. Sometimes I can't think of anything and go to sleep tossing around in my head, only to get up the next morning and frantically write something.

I should be organized. Any one who salivates over pastel colored index cards, white binders and all notepads should definitely have the gift of organization. Unfortunately, a place for everything and everything in its place doesn't apply to my life. My filing system leaves much to be desired. Most of the time, I use the stacking system: stack it on the bookshelf, stack it on the file cabinet, stack it on the floor. Stack it on anything that's flat!

My file cabinets are full--all three of them. Don't ask me what they contain because I don't have a clue. I've been writing for 100 years. Okay, slight exaggeration, but I got my first file cabinet (a gift from my husband) 30+ years ago. I was so sure I would fill it with great research, manuscripts and book contracts. I can't remember where the second 4-drawer file cabinet came from, but a few years ago I happened upon the third one at a Goodwill Store. I was so excited you'd have thought I'd found a diamond ring in their basket of cheap costume jewelry.  It doesn't take much to thrill me--just mention office supplies and I twitch.

Our kids love to hear the story about how hubby and I left the Justice of the Peace and stopped by the nearest office supply store so I could pick up a few things. When asked what I want for Christmas, birthday, Mother's Day, Valentine's Day, I ask for a gift certificate to Office Depot but it hasn't happened yet. Do they think I'm kidding?

I know I can be Organized. It takes effort. Sometimes I'm so organized I surprise myself so I know I have it in me. I meet all deadlines. I take responsibility seriously. When it comes to the really, really important things, I'm Organized. All I have to do is focus, make lists and check them twice. I have to devote time to planning.

Are you a born organizer? If it doesn't come naturally, how do you manage it? What keeps you on track?

Usually people who manage kids, a spouse and a job or pretty organized, aren't they? They live by a schedule. I have loosey-goosey days and my schedule changes daily. What should I do?

Happy Thursday! Happy O-day!
 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

N is for Noise

I'm blogging my way through the alphabet with many others participating in the 2014 A to Z Challenge. The A to Z Challenge is the brainchild of Arlee Bird at Tossing it Out. We post every day in April except Sundays.

Today we're tackling the letter N and for lack of a better word, I guess I'll choose Noise. Noise has been defined as a sound of any kind. Seems like I always have noise going on in my head. A back and forth dialogue about something or other.

In restaurants I listen to those around me, try to tune in to what they're saying. While driving, I'm plotting stories and imagining my characters talking to each other. Way too often, I'm constructing a response to questions I know are coming. To me, thinking feels like noise. The only time my mind shuts down is when I sleep.

Silence.

Since we're undergoing massive renovation in our house, I've been hearing a different kind of noise. Scraping. Buzzing. Hammering. Sawing. Boisterous female laughter. Rhythmic Spanish voices. Humming. Even an occasional whistle--from a human. Sometimes a phone.

These new sounds inspire me.

The only noise I can't stand is when someone tries to talk while the TV is blaring. Now, that's unpleasant Noise. I can't understand what all the voices are saying. I feel panicky. My head wants to explode. Figure that one out!

I found a quote I like, and I think I might agree. At any rate, it stirs my imagination.

"People who make no noise are dangerous." Jean de La Fontaine, French Poet

What's your favorite noise?