Encouragement, Writing

#Write Like No One’s Watching

The caveat to write like no one’s watching is the same as this saying “Dance like nobody’s watching.”

Dance Like Nobody's Watching-alandrue.com
Dance Like Nobody’s Watching-alandrue.com

This advice of “Write like no one’s watching,” goes only so far as “Just don’t publish your work before you revise and edit.”

Some words of encouragement for your writing week:

write on.
write on.

Whatever you are passionate about do it this week.

Books, Encouragement, Uncategorized, Writing

NaNoNaNo

NaNoWriMo-Ambulance Debbie R. Ohi
NaNoWriMo-Ambulance Debbie R. Ohi

Writing, like old age, is not for wusses. It takes patience, resilience, strength, and a little bit of crazy to keep on keeping on with your stories. It takes a whole lot of crazy, and love, to participate and finish NaNoWriMo. This year 303, 754 people signed up for NNWM. Stay out of their way until December.

Are you all sufficiently tired, stressed and behind on your NNWM goals. I’m not participating this year, made up my own thing-but back to this later.

In November 2011, I participated in NaNoWriMo. I remember clearly how I went through the roller coaster of excitement, joined a NaNo support group, rah-rah when word count met, and satisfaction.

Cool ride until mini emergencies happened, then I plummeted when I couldn’t make the time. I talked bad about myself. Did all that, ‘I’m not a writer,’ what the hell am I getting carpal tunnel for, who cares, waa-waa.

The next day I put on the big girl chones and rode again. Up, up until I broke through my own NaNo glass ceiling.

Again, I slide further below my word count. Now I didn’t want to make time. I threw out word count goals for the day, tried to relax and wrote when I felt like it (but I made myself feel like it six times a week). Sometimes I wrote for 10 minutes, other times for three hours.

I got it done. Got the badge and everything. I spent a couple of months in 2012 completing the story and then I let the manuscript sit for two more months.

Time passed while I got busy revising a previous manuscript, creating queries, and struggling through writing the synopsis for two manuscripts. I parked the NaNo manuscript in a folder on my desktop-until last month.

This year I created my own writing challenge. I did NaNo Revision Month or NaNoReMo. The ms word count is 65,000 so I divided that number by 26 days (no work on Sundays). My goal is to revise 2,500 words each working day. So far, so good.

This infographic is very helpful. You can find a printable list to use as a checklist when you decide to do your own NaNoReMo.

25 editing tips from thewritingcafe.com
25 editing tips from thewritingcafe.com

Writers know that revisions come in rounds, like a boxing match, a heavyweight one. Someone I find extremely helpful is Holly Lisle. She has a bunch of information on revising your manuscript. She calls it the One Pass Manuscript Revision.  I found it challenging but helpful.

Good luck to all you NaNo’s and keep writing. You can catch up on sleep in December.

Chingonas, Encouragement, Writing

Writing a Query Letter Sucks Sometimes

Getting to the gate
Getting to the gate

Ugh writing query letters suck. They are a necessity for the unpublished writer without an agent. Writing a good query is not for the faint of heart, you have to be in it for the long haul, you have to put on your big girl chones (panties) or big boy pants to write, rewrite, a few times. It takes a chingona to re-work a query and not give up.

You can moan and groan or look at the query letter as an adventure-with turbulence. The query letter is your calling card, your advertisement for your unborn baby (book) that you have worked on for months and years. The query letter is your ticket to the “Gatekeeper” who can unlock the giant fence that leads to another huge gate “Publisher.”

Writing the query letter doesn’t have to suck too much if you get a format down, work hard

at revising it after a critique, and follow the advice of literary agents who read query letters for a living.There are tons of articles on how to write a query letter.  

A search for “How to write a query letter ” yields about 3,560,000 results in 0.22 seconds.

It is very hard work assembling your story into a calling card that makes an agent say “I gotta have this manuscript…”

You only have one page, three or four paragraphs that have to seize the agent’s attention and keep him/her reading for more than 10 seconds.

Your query has to grab and hold that agent, make her nod her head and say, “This is promising…” Your query has to have her type “I’m interested…send me your full manuscript.”

When you get a request for full you do the “OMG” gasp, reread the email, do the happy dance, mouth a prayer of thanks, light a candle

and ask your friends to send their positive vibes, energy, and prayers into the universe for you.

Or maybe that’s just me.

happy dance
happy dance

Here are two formats I used when writing my query letters. At the end of the post I’ve copied a Twitter feed from the cool agents who are on Twitter’s #tenqueries. You can learn a lot from the rejection/pass stack. 

The first formula for a query is from Nathan Bransford’s blog:

[Agent name], [genre], [personalized tidbit about agent], [title], [word count], [protagonist name], [description of protagonist], [setting], [complicating incident], [verb], [villain], [protagonist’s quest], [protagonist’s goal], [author’s credits (optional)], [your name]

Now, look how your query turns out:

Dear [Agent name], I chose to submit to you because of your wonderful taste in [genre], and because you [personalized tidbit about agent]. [protagonist name] is a [description of protagonist] living in [setting]. But when [complicating incident], [protagonist name] must [protagonist’s quest] and [verb] [villain] in order to [protagonist’s goal]. [title] is a [word count] work of [genre]. I am the author of [author’s credits (optional)], and this is my first novel. Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you soon. Best wishes, [your name]

Another formula is from Agent Query: 

  1. Paragraph One—The Hook: A hook is a concise, one-sentence tagline for your book. It’s meant to hook your reader’s interest, and wind them in.
  2. Paragraph Two—Mini-synopsis: This is where you get to distill your entire 300 page novel into one paragraph: (approx. 150 words).
  3. Paragraph Three—Writer’s bio keep it short and related to writing.
  4. Your Closing: As a formal closing, be sure to do two things. First, thank the agent for her time and consideration. Only send what the submission guidelines specify.

The hashtag #tenqueries is for an agent  who goes through his or her query inbox and shares the reasons why they do or do not request a manuscript. This is the post from November 7, 2013. Read from bottom to the top: Screen Shot 2013-11-07 at 4.05.11 PM Screen Shot 2013-11-07 at 4.06.48 PM November 8, 2013 Screen Shot 2013-11-08 at 2.19.52 PM Screen Shot 2013-11-08 at 2.20.25 PM Screen Shot 2013-11-08 at 2.22.21 PM

This agent read 20 queries and requested two. The odds are slim but you can increase your odds by writing a great query and following the submission guidelines the agent has posted.

Now, go write and rewrite.  I hope you get to do the happy dance soon.