Today I am happy to be part of Writers Persevere!
, an event that authors Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi are running for the next few days to celebrate their release of their newest book, The Emotional Wound Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Psychological Trauma
. This book looks at the difficult experiences embedded in our character’s backstory which will shape their motivation and behavior afterward.
Because Angela and Becca have spent the last year exploring painful human struggles, they wanted to highlight a very important aspect of overcoming difficult circumstances: it can make us stronger. I promised to let Angela hijack my blog today, so please read on!
Hi everyone! When you set out to find examples of inner strength, you don’t have to go very far. Right here in the writing community we see it every day. Writers more than anyone understand the swirl of emotions as we work toward publication. We dream of making it and seeing our books in the hands of readers…yet doubt and frustration can be a constant companion. For us, there is a lot to learn, much to steel our nerves for, and unfortunately, a host of real-world problems that can try to derail us. And, even as we slowly move forward and grow, we can sometimes feel like impostors. This is a tough road.
But the fact that writers face this battle, day after day, and KEEP GOING…this should be celebrated! We need to be reminded that we are much stronger than we sometimes believe. We dream, create, and force ourselves to keep striving. Through the ups and downs, we persevere!
Have you encountered something on the writing road that made you question yourself? Have you faced an obstacle that required a force of will to get past?
If so, we want to hear about it! Join Becca and me at Writers Helping Writers from October 25-27th, where we are celebrating writers and their stories of perseverance. Stop in, and tell us about a challenge or struggle your faced, or if you like, join this event by writing a post on your own blog and share it using the hashtag #writerspersevere. Let’s fill social media with your strength and let other writers know that it’s okay to question and have doubts but we shouldn’t let that stop us.
We also have a prize vault filled with items that can give your writing career a boost, so stop by Writers Helping Writers. I would love for one of you to win something that will help you get closer to your goal!
If you struggle, remember to reach out to others. We are in this together, and by supporting one another, we cross the finish line together (and then keep going!).
Angela and Becca
Every once in a while, something comes along that changes things for the better.
And in the world of writers, this is especially welcoming, because we all know just how much sweat, courage and persistence it takes to write a book and then release it into the world. Today I’m pointing you toward a new website which I hope will help writers brainstorm stronger characters, craft deeper, more compelling plots, and teach us how to be more effective with our description so we draw readers in. One Stop For Writers is a collaboration between Becca Puglisi and Angela Ackerman, authors of The Emotion Thesaurus, and Lee Powell, creator of Scrivener for Windows. This powerhouse online library is filled with one-of-a-kind descriptive thesaurus collections, tools, tutorials and much more, all geared to provide the resources you need to strengthen your prose and write more efficiently.
Want to check One Stop For Writers out?
Hop on over to Writers Helping Writers for their Launch Week festivities (October 7-14th)! If you know Angela, Lee and Becca already, you probably can guess there will be some great prizes, and probably a bit of paying-it-forward too.
Today I (Annie) am excited to welcome guest blogger Nate Worrell, who’s here to discuss the exciting topic of writing contests!
A sea of challenge awaits you, dear writer. It will put to test your talent and your fortitude. I have ventured into this world. I have seen nightmarish beasts and ethereal beauty. I invite you to take the risk to enter a writing contest and see what sort of magic you might encounter. Before you embark on your journey, I want to share some basic tenants to prepare you for the trek ahead.
There are as Many Contests as There are Mythical Monsters
Just as Medusa is different from Cyclops, each writing contest has is its own quirks. Knowing what type of contest you want to enter is a crucial first step.
There are four ways to identify a contest:
1. By Forma
t (Fiction/Nonfiction/Poetry/Essay) then Genre
(Sci-Fi/Romance/Children’s/Etc.). Many contests span the spectrum and can potentially offer several ways to participate. (For Example: The Bridport Prize
) Sticking with your comfort zone isn’t a bad strategy. However, sometimes stepping out of your comfort zone can strengthen your writing
. (See my interview with Michael Grabell
2. By Contest Sponsor. Each type of sponsor provides a different feel.
ALERT: Dark creatures and vandals are looming. Be sure to research the validity of any contest sponsor.
· Pay attention to how long they have been around
· Do they post past winners?
· Do they explain what they do with your writing once you submit it?
Retreat quickly if you note anything suspicious.
3. “Open” vs. “Themed”.
Open contests will take writing on any subject and with any style. Most contests allow you to write anything you want (Gemini Fictions contest
). Many will have a few restrictions like no erotica or children’s fiction. ALWAYS READ CONTESTS GUIDELINES.
Themed contest provide some sort of prompt and participants all have to relate their writing to that prompt. (Fanstory [http://www.fanstory.com/
], On The Premises [http://www.onthepremises.com/
]). While both contest types require high quality writing and great stories, the themed contests add the extra criteria of how well you can incorporate the prompt.
4. By eligible participants. Contests can discriminate as much as they want. At the most open end of the spectrum, you have international contests, open to anybody. As an example of a more restrictive example, you might find a contest that is only open to women living in a small town in Maine, above a certain age. The more restrictive end of the spectrum is the hidden gem of the writing contest world. The writing contests that get the most attention will be the ones that get the most participants. By virtue of math, the more people you have in a competition the odds that you win go down. However, if you can find a niche competition, you might only be competing against a few dozen or so, and it can be a relatively easy way to get some resume boosters.
Your Writing Contest Oracles:
With all the assortment of writing contest, where do you begin to look? Thankfully, there are several great sites out there, and I detail each one in my blog.
Finally, Funds for Writers
features helpful advice and warm editorials by C. Hope Clark.
· Add to this list your local library, and you will have a wealth of resources to guide you.
Expect to be Torched by Dragons and Wowed by Wizards
There are hazards in the writing competition world. Your work might be torn to shreds. It might not win, or worse, not even make the short list. You might get critiques that make you want to reconsider writing altogether. Do not fear. Do not lose heart. Use these opportunities as a metallurgist uses his furnace to forge a mighty weapon. Allow the heat to sharpen your edges. After all, these hairy beasties do not lurk only in writing contests; they prowl throughout the entire writing land.
Then scrutinize the victors. What ingredients did they put in their potion that made them so effective? Sometimes fate interferes (for example- if both the writer and judge enjoy chocolate covered bacon, and that’s the subject of the writer’s poem). More often, it is a risk that the writer took, or a voice, or a twist in the narrative that separates winners from the pack. Writing warriors are everywhere, and you can either let them push you aside, or push you forward.
Paying the Ferryman
If you are like me, you treasure your gold coins. Paying a fee seems like a good way to waste $25. I want to comfort you, and put your payment in some context.
First, if you ever see a contest that offers feedback on your writing, that can
make a fee worth it. Most editors start at $25 an hour.
· Second, paying a fee is something you feel, so it adds that much more incentive to write better.
· Third, if you wanted to attend a class at a university to learn to write, you would have to pay a lot more.
· Finally, prize money has to come from somewhere. Consider it good karma to make your contribution to the writing contest world.
If you want to know more about contests, judging, meet some winners, or anything else contest related, please contact me [[email protected]
]. I wish you all the best in your quest. May you reign supreme.
Nate Worrell is the creator of The Competitive Writer, a blog about writing contests. He’s been published in The Binnacle, Marco Polo Literary Journal and From the Depths. If he were a character from the Lord of the Rings, he would be an Ent.
Image Credit: By Boxiness (Painting using tablet PC.) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Did you know that November is National Novel Writing Month? There’s a website (www.nanowrimo.org) that organizes a huge event every year for hundreds of thousands of professional and amateur writers across the world. Basically, writers compete against themselves to see if they can write a complete novel of at least 50,000 words entirely in the month of November. There are forums where you can link up with other participants for support and encouragement, writing resources to help you along with your story, and prizes for the winners. I also found out that they have a program for kids: http://ywp.nanowrimo.org/ Some of my students are eager to try it! (There are some useful teacher resources on the site, too.)
I’m going to be participating in NaNoWriMo for the first time this year, and I’m really excited! Stay tuned; I plan to post brief weekly updates here on my blog about how my writing’s going. My goal is to write for at least two hours a day each weekday or until I come up with 1400 words, and four hours on each weekend day, or until I get to 2800 words. That will give me a bit of a buffer in case I fall behind.
Of course, nobody expects anyone to complete a GOOD novel in just one month. The idea isn’t that it will be complete and publishable by December 1st. Most people will probably only finish the rough draft in November, but the next eleven months (or however long it takes!) are for the revising, editing, and polishing. I certainly don’t plan to show anybody my November’s work until I’ve had a few more months to turn it into something I can be proud of.
What will my novel be about? Well, that’s a good question! I’m currently tossing around three main possibilities. My first choice would be to write another book in my Annals of Alasia series, but while I have lots of ideas for my characters’ futures, I don’t actually have a complete plot in mind yet. And I can’t start writing a book without a plot! (Yes, I know, some writers do it that way. It may work for them, but it doesn’t work for me!)
Another possibility would be to take a light-hearted short story I once wrote about the misadventures of a group of commandos and turn it into a book of related short stories. That might be the most fun option, as the writing style I use there is both silly and a little weird. It’s not my usual genre, but it’s fun to do something different once in a while, right?
But the choice I’m leaning toward most right now would be a piece of speculative fiction in a completely new series. It’s hard to classify its genre, since it would take place in a setting very similar to our own in almost every way. The characters are all human, and they have cars, phones, fast food, and workouts at the gym. The main difference would be that it’s set in a city that’s part of a large empire, and in this empire, slavery is not only legal but widely practiced. (It’s not based on race; people can be sold as slaves for breaking the law, being unable to pay off debt, getting involved in rebellion against the government, etc.) One of the two main characters would be a slave and the other his owner.
At this point I have the most ideas for the third option, so I have a feeling that’s what I’ll probably go with. I’ve already outlined the story, and I’m starting to plan out the characters’ personalities. Here are two very useful resources that I bought awhile ago and plan to bring out again to use now. Click here to go to my post that tells more about these books and why I think they’re so great. If you’re a writer, I strongly recommend them!
Are you thinking of participating in NaNoWriMo this year? I’d love to hear about your plans! In the comments, feel free to tell us what you’re thinking of writing about, and please share any helpful resources you’ve found to make the process go more smoothly!
Update: Click here to read my second blog post about NaNoWriMo, which includes a link to read an excerpt from my novel in process!
This week I had the opportunity to read and review an eBook by author Staci Stallings
, who I recently had the pleasure of meeting on a Christian Writers’ forum on Facebook. Her book Keys to Creating a Successful Book Marketing Strategy
is a resource I was excited to get my hands on, and now I’m eager to start implementing her advice. Below her picture and brief biography is the review I wrote for the book on Amazon (I gave it four stars).
A stay-at-home mom with a husband, three kids and a writing addiction on the side, Staci Stallings has numerous titles for readers to choose from. Not content to stay in one genre and write it to death, Staci’s stories run the gamut from young adult to adult, from motivational and inspirational to full-out Christian and back again. Every title is a new adventure! That’s what keeps Staci writing and you reading.
Keys to Creating a Successful Book Marketing Strategy is a great little book for writers, especially (but not only) new indie writers who are looking for ways to actually make money on the books they’ve worked so hard to publish. The chapters are short and easy to get through quickly, but they’re packed with useful information, much of which you could sit down and apply right away.
As I read, I kept highlighting details that I want to be able to refer back to and make sure I’m doing right. It wasn’t so much that the information consisted of totally new concepts (although some of it was new to me). Much of it is common sense, at least in retrospect. It was more just that everything Stallings said clicked into place in a way that made me understand what I probably should have known all along. I kept thinking, “Yes – that’s me! She’s describing my mistakes exactly!” 🙂 And thanks to her, now I know how to start fixing them.
Stallings not only explains what to do, she hands out many of the tools necessary to do it. For example, one useful feature in the book is a list of dozens of sites where authors can get their books reviewed online (which I can hardly wait to start looking into)! That alone would probably make it worth the purchase price.
“If content is king, then skills are queen,” Stallings says. I feel like the royal couple is now ready to at least begin their joint reign in my writing and marketing!
I didn’t give the book five stars because I did find a few typos, and now and then I thought things could have been phrased/presented a little more clearly (hey, I’m a teacher, I can’t help but notice these things!). Occasionally the author sounded uncertain about her own information, saying things like, “I believe there is a way to…” In the section about packaging your content, I would have liked a bit more info about specific sites and what to do with them. For example, it mentioned “alternative sites like Squidoo and Redditt” and “YouTube, etc.” but didn’t really say how writers can make use of them. I know this book is intended as a brief overview of book marketing and can’t talk about everything, but I would have liked just a little more.
Overall, Keys to Creating a Successful Book Marketing Strategy is well written and a very useful resource. I love that it not only gives information and advice but also directs readers to helpful sites and other resources. I whole-heartedly recommend this book as a worthwhile investment for writers.