Wednesday Writer’s Cafe 3/2

Wow, it’s March already. How the bleep did that happen? In no time at all con will be here, then Legoland, then Hawaii thank god. I expect this whole year to slide by in a wash of head shaking, “wait, where did x go?”

So the Norwescon schedule is up and I want to know what idiot thought it was a good idea to schedule So You’ve Finished a First Draft, Catching Readers, Hook, Line, & Sinker, Beta Better, and Single Combat for Writers: Creating Believable Violence all in the same hour on the same day? I need a time turner.

Also this week, our friends J and A decided to go to Hawaii with us in May. Woot. This reminded me that I hadn’t put the family passport information into the cruise website yet. Which led me to discover … my passport expired. Bleep bleep bleepity bleep.

So in between putting in a couple hours a day on the schedule for the coop next year, double checking Scripting the Truth for errors before my next order, and editing my murder mystery for Beta…I am breathless. In fact, I’m so busy I had to spend the first 45 minutes of write in figuring out what I am going to cook for the rest of the week so I can go get groceries on the way home. LOL

 


I’ve decided to report on my stated 2016 goals each Wednesday at cafe for a little prod of accountability.

– Research marketing locations for the next free giveaway for Scripting the Truth. Figure out the Reddit problem. Fine tune my categorization on amazon.

√ This is done. I might just remove this goal. I have a list of marketing locations. I joined a publishing coop for the year to get more of my face out there.

– Write 2500 plus words per week on my 2015 Nano novel til completion. (Only another 5-6 weeks to go on that, I think.)

√ Done. Already back from first critique.

– Participate in one flash fiction challenge per month.

√ I did two technically in February but both were super short. One was to write an opening line to a novel. (Watch as she sits on the couch working on her laptop, one hand occasionally petting the sleeping dog next to her.) I was leaving it open so the novel could go a myriad of ways.

The other was to put the working title of your current WIP into an anagram site and pick an anagram of your title. There were over 70K+ anagrams of Sweeping it Under the Rug. LOL. Both challenges came from Dan Alatorre.

– Prepare and teach “Nano to Publish”.

√ January and February done. People are moving forward. It’s early still but I’m excited that only the people who weren’t ready to pull the trigger in January didn’t come back in February. Everyone came back. Everyone is still working forward. We even gained a member.

– Edit my 2015 Nano Novel for 2016 publication.

√ Edited 21 chapters this week including some pretty big rewrites to fix some issues. It’s still not where I want it but I think I will be ready to go to Beta in a month. Start thinking about if you want on my beta team.

– Any time I am not actively working on my 2015 Nano Novel, write 2500 words per week on my spy novel until it is done. (After four years, it’s time to put this mess to bed.)

-Non Applicable at this time.

Non writing goals

– Prepare and teach two classes at the coop for the 2016-2017 school year.

√ This got so out of control. I am now teaching 3 classes more or less. laughing. It’s in flux. And of course it depends on whether people sign up for my classes but still.

– Take better care of my body, ie. stop compulsively painting, crocheting, and writing until my back or shoulder is so tore I can barely use either. Which leads me to …

√ Pretty good this week, although a long stretch with a sander left one shoulder a little cranky. I’m on another house project. This one is just a book case so no pictures, I think.

– yoga daily.

√ Nope. LOL. But at least every other day. The three weeks I was sick, exhausted, sick, exhausted, sick really killed my daily habit. But I am building it back up.

Nano To Publish February Edition

One of the things I always noticed when I was getting edumacated was there are two kinds of teachers. Those who have a plan of what to cover and stick to it like glue and those who have a plan but follow the organic flow of the class. I always liked the latter because you never know where the discussion might go when you just let people talk about ideas. I had a plan for last weekend’s workshop. And while things somewhat went according to plan the detours were really fun.

I started off talking about my feedback from my critique partner. It was pretty harsh. My book is just not that good. And even though I felt that the whole time I was writing it in Nano, finishing it off post Nano, and doing some edits to get it ready for first pass, it still kinda hurt. My critiquer knew within ten pages of finding the body who killed the victim. Ouch. What was the point of laying my pain open for everyone? Well, by asking more questions of my critiquer I found out one line in my novel gave it away for him. One line. One line I meant to be a little odd, to make the reader think just a pause, but apparently I overshot the mark. Then I turned them loose to talk to their partner and find those little extra nuggets of information that might help rework their novel.

Then we talked about what they had heard. I wanted to identify places where they felt overwhelmed by the criticism or had no idea how to address what had been presented to them. And what do you know, almost everyone felt really good about what they heard. Everyone had something to share though.

Which lead to a fabulous discussion of erotica versus romance as a genre and what might be contained in those type books to make it fall into one category or another. The librarian on duty actually came and closed the doors of the conference room on us. Oops. LOL.

Another writer was concerned about time line clarification. Her reader was confused when in the story he was. One suggestion to fix that was to read through how an author you admire handles that sort of notification subtly and then apply it to your novel.

I think if February Nano To Publish had a theme it would be that. If you don’t know how to do something but know an author who does it well in your opinion, read their works. Model the changes you need after them. I’m not talking about changing your style to match theirs, just using their toolbox when you discover your tools aren’t working for a particular problem.

If you’re following along at home, get to work on making the changes your first pass critiquer suggested to you. Ideally you want your novel ready to go to Beta readers in April. You have two whole months. Get to writing.

Weekend Workshop: Critique

I touched briefly on this last weekend but critiquing someone else’s work is such a huge part of the self publishing milieu these days. If you aren’t willing to critique someone else, chances are they aren’t going to help you. And we all need the help when we’re wearing 47 different hats in the pursuit of independent publishing.

When S and I were kicking around ideas for Nano to Publish we had a lot of thoughts on critique and in our infinite wisdom we decided to go to write in and ask other writers what they thought. The resulting list was born.

What is good, useful critique?

The primary goal of your editing critique should be to help the writer create the best version of their novel. By keeping this in mind, you can avoid many of the negatives that are sometimes associated with feedback, critique, dare we say criticism.

DO:

Ask if your partner has any specific concerns in mind that you could be looking for.
Be specific.
Talk about the work not the author.
Talk about things that will help them improve their work.
Note what works as well as what doesn’t.
Point out the repeated grammar or punctuation mistakes (once or twice) so the writer can learn not to do them.
Always explain why.

DO NOT:

Critique their voice until they change their voice to be your voice.
Rewrite things in exact words.
Line edit for them, unless asked to do so.

Questions to think about as you read for critique:

Are the characters relatable? Are they as likeable/detestable as they should be?
Are there any characters that don’t serve a purpose or are one dimensional?
Too much back story or not enough back story?
Are you confused at any point?
How is the pacing?
Where does the story really start?
At what point are you completely sucked in?
Are there any scenes that don’t make sense, that are out of place? Do they all drive the story forward?
Did you like the ending?
Did you feel the ending was appropriate to the story?
Would you have abandoned this book? Where and why?

When I went through this at the January Nano to Publish workshop a lot of groans happened at that last line. “That’s so harsh.” It could be. But think about this. If everyone who reads your novel prior to publication tells you only how wonderful it is, you won’t know until you publish if it’s actually any good. Imagine getting your first honest critique on Amazon in a review. That scares me more than zombies.

So tell me, did we forget anything on our list? What would you add? What do you like to see from your first pass, beta, and ARC readers?

Wednesday Writer’s Cafe 1/13 – late

Last night’s cafe was preempted by an emergency meeting at my son’s coop. Why does everything have to happen on Wednesday? Serious? There isn’t another night in the week that people could make things happen?

So there were some issues with the financial future of the coop which the board is now  handling in an appropriate manner in my opinion. And there are a lot of open positions at the coop that need filling. But all in all it will survive for another year. LOL.

I’m on the scheduling committee, which I love. I love to put everything in it’s place. It’s that OCD part of me that would have allowed Napoleon to take Russian, even in winter. LOL. Went out with the other ladies on the committee last night after the general assembly which is why I didn’t get about to posting til I slept that off.


 

I’ve decided to report on my stated 2016 goals each Wednesday at cafe for a little prod of accountability.

– Research marketing locations for the next free giveaway for Scripting the Truth. Figure out the Reddit problem. Fine tune my categorization on amazon.

√ Finished “How to publish a best seller” This week. A post on it will be up this weekend. I’ve also been following a number of blogs where bloggers detail marketing options and sites they tried and their response to formulate a list for myself to try out as soon as I get to ten reviews on Amazon.

– Write 2500 plus words per week on my 2015 Nano novel til completion. (Only another 5-6 weeks to go on that, I think.)

√ I think I finished writing my first pass this week, I’m not really sure though. There is so much clean up work to be done but since I am kicking off the Nano to Publish year long workshop series this Saturday, I will allow it to be done. As a humorous side note, I apparently gave my main character a dog in a throw away line at the start of the novel and never again mentioned him. As I sat on my couch one morning I actually said “I have a dog?” when I read the line and my dog lifted his head and looked at me. Never a good sign when your own dog thinks you’re an idiot. LOL Words: 1534 written and 2 chapters edited with about an even trade: words removed = words added.

– Participate in one flash fiction challenge per month.

√ Finished my flash fiction for January and just on time. LOL Posted last Friday. You can find it here if you missed it.

– Prepare and teach “Nano to Publish”.

√ Preparation underway. Outline and handouts for the class are done and waiting for Saturday.

– Edit my 2015 Nano Novel for 2016 publication.

√ Just started first pass editing, 2 chapters done this week.

– Any time I am not actively working on my 2015 Nano Novel, write 2500 words per week on my spy novel until it is done. (After four years, it’s time to put this mess to bed.)

-Non Applicable at this time.

Non writing goals

– Prepare and teach two classes at the coop for the 2016-2017 school year.

√ I actually wrote my proposal last weekend. I submitted Nano to Publish. I was thinking that was going to be it but after talking to the scheduling committee last night, I will be writing a proposal for a cooking class today for submission as well.

– Take better care of my body, ie. stop compulsively painting, crocheting, and writing until my back or shoulder is so tore I can barely use either. Which leads me to …

√ One incident of excruciating shoulder pain because I painted too long. sigh.

– yoga daily.

√ 3 out of 7. Ouch. This week was rough.

Wednesday Writers Cafe 1/6

I met with my good friend S tonight before Cafe to hash out the outline for the class I am teaching next Saturday, with her assistance. We keep joking it’s my baby but she’s playing Doctor Spock. Ha-ha. So the class is actually a year long seminar/workshop series called Nano to Publish. Basically we are taking anyone who shows up through the process of turning their raw Nano novel into a published quality novel by Nano later this year. So that’s been a lot of this week.

I also came to the shocking realization that I am almost out of book reviews. AHHHHHHHHHHHHH. I did very little reading during Nano and since then I’ve been reading my way through the Flavia de Luce series, but I already reviewed the first one in the series. I need to read some other stuff pronto. Except I’m already reading a homeschooling guide, a marketing guide, and a craft book right now. Ahh what I wouldn’t give for five more hours in the day.

We all actually worked at cafe tonight. I was sitting next to R, who was all about her laptop which made it easy for me to be all about mine. Some nights I love that and this was one of them. I needed to get work done. And I got it. Thanks, R, come sit next to me every Wednesday. LOL

So tell me, when you want beta feedback from someone, what are the three most helpful things they can do?


 

I’ve decided to report on my stated 2016 goals each Wednesday at cafe for a little prod of accountability.

– Research marketing locations for the next free giveaway for Scripting the Truth. Figure out the Reddit problem. Fine tune my categorization on amazon.

√ Reading “how to publish a best seller” right now. 2/3 done.

– Write 2500 plus words per week on my 2015 Nano novel til completion. (Only another 5-6 weeks to go on that, I think.)

√ A little low this week as I got a cold right after New Year’s and needed some extra rest to kick that down to livable. ~1500 words. I will have an exact count going forward

– Participate in one flash fiction challenge per month.

√ Need to write the one I promised to Dan Alatorre this week. 500 word story in the adventure genre, containing my obituary, staring “a courageous 39 year-old woman, who comes from a wealthy background, lives in a fisherman’s cottage and tends to be a bit forgetful” invoking the emotion guilt. Oof. I’ll post when it’s done so you can laugh. This was put together using some random generators. Not my choice.

– Prepare and teach “Nano to Publish”.

√ Preparation underway. Lots of new research. Outline for the first class half done.

– Edit my 2015 Nano Novel for 2016 publication.

– Non applicable at this time.

– Any time I am not actively working on my 2015 Nano Novel, write 2500 words per week on my spy novel until it is done. (After four years, it’s time to put this mess to bed.)

-Non Applicable at this time.

Non writing goals

– Prepare and teach two classes at the coop for the 2016-2017 school year.

√ well, since one of them is Nano to Publish, I am kind of working on this as I go.

– Take better care of my body, ie. stop compulsively painting, crocheting, and writing until my back or shoulder is so tore I can barely use either. Which leads me to …

√ I’m doing ok more or less on this, this week anyway.

– yoga daily.

√ Not to channel Meatloaf but four out of five ain’t bad. LOL