Thursday, July 31, 2008

Some Favorite Writing Quotes

"It is perfectly okay to write garbage--as long as you edit brilliantly." -- C. J. Cherryh

"The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt." -- Sylvia Plath

"I had a friend who said, “You don’t have an internal critic. You have an internal sadist.” -- Libba Bray

"The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug." -- Mark Twain

"The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense." -- Tom Clancy

"If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write." -- Stephen King

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Writing Contests

Writing Contests—I’ve entered them, I’ve finaled in them, I’ve received requests as a result of finaling. I’ve also judged a few.

When I first began entering contests it was basically because I wanted the feedback.

Then it was because I wanted to final/win—that’s always a great feeling, and when it seems as if you’re not making progress toward your goal of publication, that final/win is a nice validation that your work is in fact good. Plus, it looks kind of nice on your query letters :)

Once I began to final, I entered contests based strictly on whether or not the final round judge was someone I wanted to get my work in front of.

If you click HERE you’ll find a list of RWA contests. There are contests for first chapter (the most common), first kiss, best scene, best hook/opening, and more. They all require an entry fee, but it’s usually minimal.

Here are a few of my tips for entering contests:
* Obviously, you should read the rules carefully, because if you fail to follow them, it can result in you being disqualified with no refund of the entry fee.
* Another obvious tip is to send in your best work. Polish, polish, polish. And then polish it again.
* Look for contests that allow electronic entries, because it can save you quite a bit of money (postage, printing costs/copy fees, etc).
* Personally, I preferred contests that guaranteed at least one published judge (more if possible), because I found that most often they gave me higher scores than unpublished judges. My theory--which certainly could be wrong--is that it was because they focused more on the story itself and less on 'rules'.
* Look for contests that either drop the lowest score or that have discrepancy judging if one scores varies greatly from the rest. Too often I got great scores from all but one judge and that one low score would knock me out of finaling.

When you get your scores back, if they aren’t as good as you’d like or you think they should be—shake it off. Don’t argue about it (with the judge or the contest coordinator), because it will serve no purpose.

Okay, you can argue if it’s a situation such as: your manuscript is the story of Dave and Amy who are professional jewel thieves and are running from the law, but the comments on the score sheet refer to Bob and Sue who are ranchers in Montana. In that case, you can argue, because you obviously got the wrong scores. But other than that, let it go. Remember that a judge’s opinion is strictly that—their opinion, and while every opinion holds some value, they are not the person you’re ultimately hoping to impress.

If you can afford them, I think contests are wonderful tools, but don’t go overboard. You don’t need to enter every contest. Keep your ultimate goal in mind and be selective.

One final thought—if I could go back to that time when I was entering contests, the one thing I would do differently is ask if I could enter under my pen name as opposed to my real name. The reason is this—I can’t list my contest wins on my website (or least I haven’t) strictly because they're under my real name. That kind of sucks :(

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Writing Websites, Blogs, and Forums

Each year Writer’s Digest comes up with a list of the 101 Best Sites for Writers. You can view their 2008 list by clicking HERE. There are a lot of great sites listed, and several of them are sites that I visit often. However, I was surprised that Charlotte Dillon’s website was not listed this year. In my opinion, she has the absolute best site for authors. You can visit her site by clicking HERE.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Writing Book: Hero and Heroine Archetypes by Tami Cowden, Caro LaFever, Sue Viders

The Complete Writer's Guide to Heroes and Heroines: Sixteen Master Archetypes by Tami Cowden, Caro LaFever, Sue Viders

One of my writing friends recommended this book, and I’m so glad she did. I found it extremely useful in improving on characterization and character development.

This book discuses hero and heroine archetypes (ie the chief, the bad boy, the charmer, the lost soul, the crusader, the nurturer, and many others). It lists qualities, virtues, flaws, etc. for each archetype. It also covers layered archetypes (where the character has qualities of more than one), evolving archetypes (where it changes over the course of the story), archetype interactions, and much more.

This is another book that I highly recommend.

You can purchase it at all the usual places (Amazon, Barnes & Nobel, Books-A-Million), or you can purchase an autographed copy at Tami Cowden’s website by clicking HERE.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Writing Book: GMC by Debra Dixon

Goal, Motivation & Conflict, The Building Blocks Of Good Fiction by Debra Dixon

I highly recommend this book. Personally, I think it’s an absolute must for all beginning writers. Even more experienced writers will find it helpful.

As the title suggest, the book focuses on the importance of goal (what the character wants), motivation (why they want it), and conflict (what’s keeping them from getting it). It’s a simple concept, but for me, the book really helped it all to click into place. After reading the book, I was able to identify--and correct--some weakness in my work. My writing improved a great deal as a result of this book.

Be warned, if you order this book from Amazon, the price can run up to $100+. Don’t pay that much! Click HERE to order it directly from the publisher for $19.95.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Blogging About Writing Next Week

Next week several thousand romance authors, editors, agents, etc. will be heading out to San Francisco, CA for the Romance Writers of America National Conference.

Unfortunately, I will not be one of them :(

But the next few RWA conferences will be held within driving distance of me—Washington, DC in 2009 and Nashville, TN in 2010—so I’m hoping I’ll be able to attend one of those.

In honor of RWA’s National Conference, I’m going spend the next week blogging about writing--my favorite writing books, writing websites that I find helpful, and more. So, if you’re interested, make sure you check back.

Friday, July 25, 2008

One Of My Favorite Movies

Terminator was playing on TV tonight, so I settled down on the couch with a big bowl of popcorn and huge glass sweet tea, and enjoyed! Terminator is one of my favorite movies of all time. I think the plot is brilliant and I love the characters.

Did you know T4, starring Christian Bale as John Connor, is scheduled to be released next summer? I had no clue until my son mentioned it tonight. Personally, I’m not particularly excited about it, probably because I was very disappointed with T2 & T3.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Cover Contest Results

The results of Cover Cafe's 2007 Cover Contest have been announced. Click HERE to see the nominees and the winners. There are some incredible covers there. Or in the case of the 'worst' category some not-so-great covers.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Winner Is…

I received approximately 40 entries for my July contest. A huge thanks to everyone who entered!

I had my hubby draw a name out of the hat, and the winner of a download of my novella, Finding Passion, is....Linda S. from Australia.

Congrats, Linda! Please check your email--I need to know what format you prefer.

Check my website and blog the beginning of August for information about my next contest.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

July Contest (ends 07/20/08)

The winner of my July contest will receive a download of my novella, Finding Passion.

To be entered into the drawing, just send me an email with the subject line "July Contest" and answer this question about the book: Why are Nathan and Susan stranded together for the weekend? (the answer can be found on my website)

The contest will run through July 20th. One entry per person please. A winner will be drawn at random from all correct entries received.

Click HERE to visit my website for more information.

Note: Due to the adult content of this book, you must be 18 or older to enter the contest.

Good luck!