Talk Back: Does Facebook make you an unhappy writer?

August 19, 2013

On my Kindle: Stay by Candi Wall

Talk Back – Tell us how you write!

There was a French research that came out not too long ago which showed that people who spent a lot of time on Facebook tended to be less happy and satisfied with their lives than people not using the social media site.

People tend to show only the best side of themselves on social media, and admit it, beside cat memes, there are a whole lot of pictures of exotic holidays, family graduations and other milestones, adorable babies and luscious meals from various eateries on people’s feed.

Seeing those constantly, made it seems as if our friends have these perfect glamorous and successful lives when ours is just, well, normal.

When it comes to writers, I wonder if the same is true. Seeing series of beautiful cover reveal, news of new contract sales, positive reviews and pictures of writers frolicking with cover model may seems to us as if all our writer friends are having this wonderful party of success to which we are not invited.

Personally, with almost 5000 friends, a big chunk of them writers, it can seems at time like that. While I toil away at writing my little chapter, Facebook makes it sound like everyone is having successes after successes with nothing but exciting news.

And seeing those statuses, I find, is both good and bad for my spirit. I noticed that when I limit my time on Facebook to a few minutes a day, seeing my friends happy news makes me happy and super motivated.

However, scrolling down for over an hour will see me frustrated that my career is stalling.

It’s all a question of balance.

What about you? Are you on Facebook? How do you react to gazillions happy news from all your friend? A tiny wee bit jealous? Frustrated? Or needed to keep you on track?

I’m curious, let me know!

Much love,
Marie-Claude xoxox

Location:Seattle


Talk Back: Writing goals half-time!

July 8, 2013

On my Kindle: The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

Talk Back – Tell us how you write!


And here we are, half way into the year, and I ask: are you on your way to meet your yearly writing goal? Are you ahead? Not quite there?

As usual, I am in the not quite there team but not as bad as it could. My writing goal for this year is definitely process-oriented and totally in my control. I had planned to finish the manuscript I had started (done) and submit it to agents (done). I also planned to start the sequel (done), finish it (half-way there) and edit it (it looks like I will be about to do this by the holidays).

I had also hoped to edit another manuscript I have under my bed, returning to my roots with a sexy paranormal romance, by the end of the year. But as I look at how long it takes me to write and edit, I see that it won’t happen. I may have time to write a paranormal romance novella which would be very cool.

All is well though because mainly my goal was to write for an hour a day on most days, squeezing time before and after my day job, and I have done just that. The habit is here to stay.

So your turn now, how are you doing with your goal this year so far?

Much love,
Marie-Claude xoxox

Location:Seattle


Writing: am I wasting my time?

July 1, 2013

I apologize if this is a repost for those of you who receive blog posts by email or view them via a blog feed reader. We did some reshuffling last week to ensure you don’t miss out an inspiring guest post but we are back to regular scheduling now.


No seriously, am I?

I spend painful tiny writing sessions at the crack of dawn adding 50 words to my story then another 50 and another 50 until maybe I hit 500-800 before it’s time for me to get to my day job, and I wonder, why on earth do I do that?

Do you ever get that feeling?

I question myself over and over, realist to the possibility that this manuscript is perhaps just practice. That no matter how I submit it down the ladder of agents, trad-publishers and small publisher, it might never be good enough to actually be read.

And that the 250 hrs I spent are just gone from my life.

I just sit there at times in front of the blank page or staring at lines of unedited work wondering, why continue to do this if there are no guarantees?

It’s really hard to find the answer to that question, isn’t it?

Because there are easier ways to spend our extra time, easier ways to earn a living, or be creative and certainly not something to do in a quest for fame. So why?

There are so so many people we meet who confess they have a book in them. Is it a way to express ourselves to the world? To put some order to our jumbled thoughts, inner voices and dreams.

Maybe I am wasting my time, I truly don’t know. But I could also waste it on mindless TV, Facebook addiction, hours of Angry Birds or snarky gossip with so-so friends.

At least I’ll have something out of it at the end, right? Even if its unfit for public reading!

And at least those voices inside my head will finally have found a home.

Happy Writing!

Much love,
Marie-Claude xoxox

Location:Seattle


Talk Back: What are your summer writing plans?

June 17, 2013

On my Kindle: Blood Oranges by Caitlin R. Kiernan w/a Kathleen Tierney

Talk Back – Tell us how you write!


Does your writing schedule change during the seasons, or does it stay pretty much the same?

Here in Seattle, schools are out and it means kids are now at home for the summer. When I was at home with my kids, summer meant that my writing time was short and I had to plan around them. Now that I am working as a teacher and that my kids are in middle school, things have reversed and it means that, starting Tuesday, I will finally have time to write more.

So I’m hoping to finish, or at least get the major part of the current project I am working on. I am a little worried that the summer weather and restless kids will prevent me from doing as much as I want, but that’s the plan anyway.

So how about you? Are summer more productive? Less? Distracting or a better time to focus? You tell me!!

Much love,
Marie-Claude xoxox

Location:Seattle


The distraction of shiny new writing things…

May 13, 2013

On my Kindle: Charlie All Night by Jennifer Crusie

Do you ever get super distracted from your WIP? Oh how I hate that!

I had a little time to spare the other morning before leaving for work and I started googling for publishing opportunities.I saw a call for short stories series and my mind started to play with that information.

What if I submit that short story I have? It’s almost ready! Then, I might have another book out there soon if it get accepted! Those stories are only 13K words!!!

Oh so attractive! And what a wonderful distraction from the monster beast that is my work in progress.

But I got to finish that first!!!

I get so distracted. I tend to jump on new things so easily in a “Oh, I can write THAT” fervor. Hence the paranormal short, the steampunk novel, the small town romance, the YA fantasy, all waiting to be edited.

Live and learn.

I MUST finish, edit, polish and submit my current project BEFORE I do anything else, don’t you think?

Much love,
Marie-Claude xoxox

Location:Seattle


Talk Back: How do you celebrate writing milestones?

March 18, 2013

On my Kindle: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Talk Back – Tell us how you write!


What is writing success worth celebrating to you? And how do you celebrate those milestones?

I just finished my manuscript this week-end. By that I mean I finished the whole 90,000 words beast – 5 drafts and all and sent it to printing for a submission.
This took me way too long. All I wanted to do is prove to myself that I could finish something again (and by that I mean something an agent or editor could read) and I am now beside myself with happiness to see that I did it.

It took my a while and a lot of ups and down in the writing business to define writing success for myself. And now that I learned to totally separate the writing itself from the business side of it, I am in a much happier writing place.

So for me success is completion of a full manuscript ready to submit. And I did it. But I don’t know how to celebrate. All I can think of right now is grab a notebook and write another novel right away because it’s so much fun.

I heard of people going out for dinner, drinks, manicures. Having a party, doing something completely different for a while…

What about you?
What do you consider milestones? And how do you actually celebrate?

Much love,
Marie-Claude xoxox

Location:Seattle


Talk back: Is your writing a job or your hobby?

February 25, 2013

On my Kindle: Silk Is For Seduction by Loretta Chase

So today I’m asking you a very simple question: how do you consider your writing, like a job? Or a hobby?

My writing is actually a hobby for me. Shocking? Well there are all kinds of hobby isn’t there? And mine is more of the marathon runner kind instead of the week-end photography kind. I’m pretty obsessive about it and I practice writing every day.

The truth is, it’s when I started writing as a job that all things went pear shape for me…

Because I was so scared of it, it all started as a hobby. But then I joined writers groups where I learned that to be successful I had to treat it like a job. So I did and it worked. I sold my first manuscript to a NY publisher very quickly. And I worked at my writing job daily: 8-10 hours a day. The problem was that even though I worked the hours, the money just wasn’t there. Definitely not enough to support a family of 4 in Seattle in this uncertain economy.

My new job made my family very nervous.

So stress started piling up and words were now preceded with dollar signs and I just lost myself as a writer.

So I went back to school and now have a regular day job. And writing is done before and after work. I tell my family that my writing is my hobby. I do it everyday and very seriously but the “hobby” label make them breathe easier.

I found my happy writing place.

So what is yours? Do you need to treat your writing as a job to get respect at home and motivated? Or has it backfired on you? What is your experience?

Much love,
Marie-Claude xoxox

Location:Seattle


Practice The Art Of Fearlessness

October 25, 2012

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Ernest Hemingway

I’ve learned from the best. I’ve had a top education in schools located around the world. I have various undergraduate degrees and even managed to snap up a Masters on scholarship from a prestigious university. So what is the most important lesson I’ve ever learned?

The message came to me in my late 30s through the television of all things. I’ve always been a creative sort, but stumbled because I tend to be a perfectionist. I squashed many of my interests simply because I didn’t think I could do it. Decorating and design shows were just starting and I consumed them. This was a passion of mine and I had a ton of ideas but I never allowed myself to jump in because I might not be any good at it.

In steps a funny fellow named Christopher Lowell.

He was a brilliant designer, played the piano, and dispensed wisdom through yards of material and buckets of paint. The moment came at the end of one of his shows when he read a viewer’s letter explaining how they were stuck because they were afraid to do anything. He set the letter down, looked into the camera and said these words. “There is nothing worse to fear than the fear itself.”

Those words shocked me. There’s nothing worse than embracing the fear. It is the fear that paralyzes you. It is the fear that keeps you from doing the things you love. I knew I had to fight that fear.

That was the year I started painting. It was the year I started writing a book. I pulled out my old sketch books and started drawing. It was the most fun year I’d had in a very long time. It didn’t matter whether I was any good or not (and I wasn’t- trust me!) I learned to tell the fear to shut up and let myself play.

Ralph Waldo Emerson states, “Do the thing you fear, and the death of fear is certain.”

We can get so caught up in the idea of writing a “really good book” that we forget to simply write for the pleasure. The fear of not creating a masterpiece or at least writing something that’s publishable can be overwhelming. Suffocating. Paralyzing. Often, I find that the fear itself keeps me from doing anything at all and I have to start fighting this age old enemy all over again.

James Scott Bell also has some words of wisdom found in his book The Art of War For Writers. He writes that while fear is a fact of existence, it need not lead to defeat. Dwell too much on these fears and you can become catatonic. He then tells a story of young Teddy Roosevelt. Teddy was a very sickly, weak child. So he stayed inside and read a lot of books. In his biography Teddy explains what he learned. “In this passage, the captain of some small British man-of-war is explaining to the hero how to acquire the quality of fearlessness. He says that at the outset almost every man is frightened when he goes into action, but that the course to follow is for the man to keep such a grip on himself that he can act just as if he was not frightened. After this is kept up long enough it changes from pretense to reality, and the man does in very fact become fearless by sheer dint of practicing fearlessness when he does not feel it.”

JSB goes on to say that from that day on, TR determined to live his life just that way. That chapter ends with three rules for writers: 1. Act as if you had no fear. Act as if you are a writer. 2. Don’t wait for your feelings to change. Turn fear into energy for writing. 3. Set goals that challenge you. Then take an immediate step toward that goal.

Fear. It’s a big topic and one that we constantly battle. Remember there’s nothing worse to fear than the fear itself. Don’t let it stop you. Practice the fearlessness found in all of us.

 


Pitch to an agent… Wait, we’ve added editors too! by Candi Wall

October 21, 2012

I’m seriously late!

I had every intention of having this post up this morning. I planned to be up before everyone else and get this sucker up and running for my Sunday morning slot. That was before I overslept, found out I needed to help my son move into his new place, realized I’d neglected my laundry, needed to do some grocery shopping (what? nobody wants peanut butter, ham and pickles for lunch?), and ended up building models with both my boys until 9:30 at night.

That’s my life. Hope you still love me.

Anyway, I have news! First, I’m happy to announce that I signed with Samhain for another novel. This one is titled STAY and the plan is to write a series about the brothers we meet in this first novel. Stay tuned….

Second, we’ve undergone some construction…

And IT’S OFFICIAL.

We have now introduced editors to our ‘Agent Shop’ pitch days. That’s why that handy-dandy tab at the top now reads Agent/Editor Shop.

SQUEEEE!

That’s right. That means you’ll have opportunities to pitch to agents and editors. WOOT!

While I still have several invitations out with both editors and agents, the response thus far has been very positive – as you can see from the bar at the right.

I’ll keep updating the sidebar as I receive confirmations, but we have a stellar lineup thus far.

I’ve updated the rules/directions as well, (THE BIGGEST BEING PITCH DAY IS NOW ON SATURDAYS) so make sure you check out the Agent/Editor Shop tab above, spread the word and get ready.

Happy writing!

Candi


I Don’t Want To Listen!

October 4, 2012

Advice.

It’s given to us whether we want it or not. We often ignore it even if we know it’s for our own good. It typically distills concepts that are floating around in our brain into a few easy sentences. We are grateful for it, we resent it. However you may feel about this topic, advice is always all around us.

I’m going to take some advice of my own.

We are now two weeks away from the Lone Star Writing Conference (www.nwhrwa.com) and I have a lot on my plate. This conference is my baby. I’m responsible for the thousands of small details that go into the making of an event like this. It will be an awesome conference, but I’m also trying to continue being a writer. This led me to looking up advice by writers to other writers.

Here’s what I found:

 

Stephen King– “Mostly when I think of pacing, I go back to Elmore Leonard, who explained it so perfectly by saying he just left out the boring parts. This suggests cutting to speed the pace, and that’s what most of us end up having to do (kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings)…I got a scribbled comment that changed the way I rewrote my fiction once and forever. Jotted below the machine-generated signature of the editor was this mot: “Not bad, but PUFFY. You need to revise for length. Formula: 2nd Draft = 1st Draft – 10%. Good luck.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ernest Hemingway– (Also known as Papa) He agreed to a very rare interview with George Plimpton, editor of “The Paris Review” in 1958.

Interviewer: How much rewriting do you do?

Hemingway: It depends, I re-wrote the ending to “Farewell to Arms”, the last page of it, thirty-nine times before I was satisfied.

Interviewer: Was there some technical problem there? What was it that had stumped you?

Hemingway: Getting the words right.

 

Kurt Vonnegut– 8 Rules For Writing A Short Story

1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.

2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.

3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.

4. Every sentence must do one of two things-reveal character or advance the action.

5. Start as close to the end as possible.

6. Be a Sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them-in order that the reader may see what they are made of.

7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.

8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

 

 

 

 

Anne Lamott– “For me and most of the other writers I know, writing is not rapturous. In fact, the only way I can get anything written at all is to write really, really shitty first drafts.

The first draft is the child’s draft, where you let it all pour out and then let it romp all over the place, knowing that no one is going to see it and that you can shape it later. You just let this childlike part of you channel whatever voices and visions come through and onto the page. If one of the characters wants to say, “Well, so what, Mr. Poopy Pants?,” you let her. No one is going to see it. If the kid wants to get into really sentimental, weepy, emotional territory, you let him. Just get it all down on paper, because there may be something great in those six crazy pages that you would never have gotten to by more rational, grown-up means. There may be something in the very last line of the very last paragraph on page six that you just love, that is so beautiful or wild that you now know what you’re supposed to be writing about, more or less, or in what direction you might go – but there was no way to get to this without first getting through the first five and a half pages.”

 

James Patterson– “I’m always pretending that I’m sitting across from somebody. I’m telling them a story, and I don’t want them to get up until it’s finished.”

 

 

 

 

 

Elmore Leonard

 

So which bit of advice am I going to take? Personally, I like Anne Lamott’s bit of wisdom. I think my character needs to say, “Well, so what, Mr. Poopy Pants.”

It’s perfect.