February 23, 2012

Slay Your Doubt Dragon

Doubt is something that I struggle with BIG time. I doubt that my story idea is relevant or marketable enough. I doubt that what I've written once I sit down and start isn't fresh or exciting enough. I doubt that I am up to telling a story the way it's meant to be told. I doubt my prose and the rhythm of my sentences. In other words, I doubt everything that I do just about all the time. I even doubt that this post will resonate with anyone other than myself...see where I'm going with this? I'm a neurotic mess! And I'm going to hazard a guess that there are others out there just like me. So how do we slay our doubt dragon so that we can get on with the business of writing and fulfilling out dreams of one day getting published?

We keep moving forward.

It's that simple...and that hard.

 A dragon is a pretty substantial creature-full of flaming hot breath and snappy sharp teeth. It is bigger than us, stronger than us, and most times unwilling to move once it's gotten good and comfortable. So in order for us to slay it, we have to figure out it's vulnerablility and exploit it.

 I think doubt's vulnerability is steady movement. I think if as a writer we take a step forward everyday--no matter how tiny the step, we diminish our dragons, shrink them small enough so that we can crush them underfoot. But it isn't easy to do.

February 21, 2012

Mingling With Agents: How To Do It Right

Most of you know by now that I met my agent long before I signed with her. So you may be wondering just what it was that I did that kept that line of communication between us open for so long. And I would have to say that it wasn't so much what I did as how I approached her. The single best thing that you can do if you have the opportunity to talk with an agent on a personal level is to NOT PITCH HER. Yes, you heard me. I said don't pitch her, at least not right up front. Here's why: while you may know who she is, especially if you have been a diligent little writer and have done your homework, she doesn't know you at all. And she is very used to people coming up to her strictly to hock their book whether or not she's in a place to listen when they approach her. If you are at a conference, sign up for one of the pitch sessions and do your formal pitching there, but if you are at lunch or in the hallway or at a session and are just talking to her, DON'T PITCH HER. This is especially important if you meet outside of a conference in a setting where she is not expecting pitches-like at a party or a book signing.

 When I met Lucienne, I didn't hit her with the hard sell. I waited for her to ask me what I was writing about and then I told her. Up front I talked books and the business of publishing. This let her know that I was well versed in what it takes to get published and that I was serious about writing in general. I followed up with her several times after our initial meeting and not once did I try to sell my book. In the beginning I was more concerned with building relationships and learning what I could from someone who is very knowledgeable about the business. When I was finally ready to query her, I did it the old fashioned way even though we knew each other really well by then. I told her I was querying her and then sent it to her formal business email through the Knight Agency, making sure to follow all of their submission directions. I didn't expect special treatment or bug her about reading my submission quickly. I used the proper channels, did my due diligence and wrote the best manuscript that I could. And it paid off. So what can you do to develop relationships with agents?

February 14, 2012

Patience And Courage Are Prerequisites to the Writing Life

I am finding that the more that I get into this crazy career of novel writing and the more that I meet others who are doing it,  the more that I notice that there are two traits that all of us share. And believe it or not, neither one of them is creativity--although obviously this helps. These traits actually have nothing to do with the artsy side of us whatsoever. They are much more mundane, but oh so important. They are patience and courage.

If you are new to writing or pondering the possibility of beginning to write, you are already asking yourself if you have these. The questions sound like this: Can I really take time away from my family to write? What if it takes a long time, can I handle writing for years and not getting published? What if I invest a lot of time into this and I fail? Or some of you have been writing for a while and are asking yourself: Can I really keep going in the face of all this rejection? Can I keep querying and querying and not hear anything for months over and over again? Is it delusional thinking to hope for publication even after years of trying unsuccessfully to get there?

I believe that you will figure out whether or not you are a writer based on how you answer these questions. If you can forge ahead despite your misgivings and the absolutely terrifyng realization that there are no guarrantees, you have the courage you need. If you can accept long periods where you have no idea what will happen next with one manuscript and begin writing another one, you have the patience. Does this mean that on any given day you won't wallow in self-doubt or fear? No. It means that you will dig deep and find a way to go on in spite of it. You will keep putting one foot in front  of the other--working that job you hate while you desperately hope to quit and one day write full time. You will continue juggling family and your writing even if you are the world's clummsiest juggler. You will get knocked down and keep getting up. Because deep inside of you you have both of these traits. They may be underdeveloped now, but they're there, waiting to show up when you're put to the test, waiting for a chance to shine.

So how do you know if you have them?

February 7, 2012

Conferences: How Do You Attend One Without Breaking The Bank?

I've been a stay at home mom for ten years now and stretching a dollar has become a big part of my everyday life. I clip coupons and work kids eat free nights at restaurants like there's no tomorrow. There isn't a lot of room for extras. Ever. Whatever we have is always allocated for something. So for me, conferences always seemed out of reach. I wanted to attend, I just wasn't sure how I could. They cost hundreds of dollars and are sometimes far away and the admission price doesn't include hotel or all meals. I couldn't see how I could justify taking that kind of money away from my family, but I also couldn't see not attending at least one since I knew that it was a good place to meet editors and agents as well as learn a thing or two and network with other writers. So what can a penny pinching person do to make their dream of attending a conference happen without impacting the family budget too much?

February 2, 2012

I've Won The Liebster Award!

Last week Rena J. Traxel (www.renajtraxel.com) was kind enough to give me the Liebster Award. For those of you who haven't heard of it, it is an award given out by bloggers for favorite blogs with less than 200 followers and is meant to increase the traffic going to that blog. A wonderful thing for a newbie blogger like me with very few followers to date! Now I am charged with passing along the award to five other deserving blogs and using this post to tell you five things about myself that you might not know.

Let's begin the post with my five Liebster Award Winners:






 Congratulations, ladies! Please blog about your win and name five other deserving blogs with less than 200 followers in your post.

Please pay a visit to each of their sites. They are all very talented YA writers with loads of good advice to share.

Now, as for me, here are some things you may not know about me already.