Inspiration for Creatives ~ from writing tips and tricks to artistic fun, I share my experience as an editor, author, and artist in hopes of inspiring you and others to follow your dreams, improve your skills, and spread the creative spirit!
My family and friends read my story and loved it, so why does it keep being rejected by publishers?
You have to love family and friends, especially the truly supportive ones. Always make sure you appreciate them!
But, there are two main reasons why it isn’t such a good idea to have them critique your writing.
First, most loved ones only want to encourage you and don’t want to hurt your feelings by saying anything negative. This doesn’t mean they are lying to you or didn’t like the story, simply that they will usually tell you what you want or need to hear, or only the parts they liked—even if you ask them to be hard, they won’t, for your sake. Admirable and loving, most definitely…but not helpful.
Second, and most important, most family and friends don’t know the technical aspects of Goal-Motivation-Conflict, POV, pace, validation/details, or characterization, or the mechanical aspects such as Telling versus Showing, misplaced modifiers, disjointed body parts, and sentence structure. So, they may enjoy your story not knowing the facets that could make it better--and more important, publishable.
Not that you shouldn’t let family and friends read your work if you so choose, simply that you also need an impartial third party to evaluate and see what's really going on in your manuscript.
Critique partners are INVALUABLE for this. Getting with a group or even just one or two other writers to help motivate, and especially assist in finding the areas that aren’t working in your manuscript, is essential for the up and coming writer--well, in truth, any writer whether new or established.
Now, I will say that I equate finding a critique partner to that of dating. It may take feeling out a few to find the one or two that you can work with and feel comfortable sharing. Everyone has different personalities and different work ethics, and it is important you find those you are compatible with, so don't be discouraged if one or even a few don't work out initially, BECAUSE, let me tell you, when you find the right ones you click with, the added bonus is often building great and long lasting friendships.
If finding a critique partner isn’t up your alley or too time consuming for you, then having your manuscript assessed by a freelance editor is another option. There will obviously be fees associated with this choice, but the knowledge you will gain and the guidance in the areas that need to be improved upon can more than make up for the cost.
So, let your family support you, but don't put the pressure on them to evaluate your manuscript. Find a critique partner, writing group, or freelance editor to guide you down that path to publication.
For those who already have critique partners, how did you find them? Feel free to share to help others get connected.
When Elizabeth O'Leary meets up with the cowboy she's been avoiding for over two years, she doesn't know whether to trust her heart or her head. One tells her Grey Wulfsen just might be The One, the other tells her it doesn’t matter because he'll never forgive her when he finds out what she took away with her on that one starlit night.
From Mistress Bella Reviews:
"I just felt so involved with this story. I felt like I was watching a movie, the details, descriptions and facts were so vivid and real. And ladies…and some men…who doesn’t love a cowboy?"
5 Ribbons from Romance Junkies!!
"Stacy Dawn really pulls at the reader's heartstrings with One Starlit Night. Elizabeth and Grey seem to be perfect for each other but fear, misunderstanding and misconceptions could potentially destroy any hope they have for a future together. Ms. Dawn does a brilliant job of bringing her characters to life so that they feel like long lost friends."
“Grey!” The name tore from her lips involuntarily, and Elizabeth clasped a hand over her mouth to silence the terrified screams clogging her throat.
Painfully still moments coursed by before she saw the gloved hands brace themselves in the dirt and a dusty blond head raise.
Still crouched on the ground over her folder, she was in perfect alignment for eyes the color of buffed steel to lock onto hers.
This was exactly what she had wished for—and prayed to avoid. The ever logical side of her argued that the recognition tilting the corner of those sculptured lips up was just her imagination. The bold woman she’d locked up deep inside over the past two years said otherwise. He knows, he remembers.
Forcing herself to break the eye contact, Elizabeth shook her head and clasped onto logic like a rock wall. Being pragmatic had never let her down before, and even, in a roundabout way, it had worked out that one weak moment, too. Hadn’t she gotten what she wanted? At least for the most part.
All my titles are available in multiple locations:
...the one word that can cause chills to run down the spine of a writer.
The thought of the “all powerful editor” holding your precious manuscript in their hands to shred to pieces or, hopefully, see a creative, unique diamond, has led to many sleepless nights for those awaiting their fate in the publishing industry.
Does this sound like you?
Well, I’ll let you in on a secret that might give you just a little more sleep tonight. We are not “all powerful” (I still can’t fly or make the dirty dishes disappear with a snap of my fingers), and it is definitely not our goal to shred your dreams. We are not faceless monsters, or even remotely inhuman for that matter—in fact, we are all too human, only proven if you could see how we struggle with having to tell an author their manuscript is not ready for publication, that they aren’t quite as far along in their dream as they hoped.
- E D I T O R -
Instead of picturing the top floor of a brutishly tall office building, clean, crisp skirts and suits behind goliath desks, outboxes piled high with manuscripts riddled with big red slashes, picture your favourite teacher from school, or the coach who made a difference in the way you played and enjoyed your favourite sport.
At least, that is the way I hope my authors look at me. Not as some be all and end all of their manuscript, but as a coach who stands beside them, works with them, shows them where they can improve and encourages them to make their story the very best it can be. And, like with any sport, practice furthers your development and effort brings accomplishment.
~ M E N T O R ~
Whether you are submitting to a publisher or using an independent editor, think of them as a mentor, someone waiting for you to submit, ready to assist you, excited to help you achieve your dreams.
Changing the way you think about editors can help get you a bit more sleep at night, because there is honestly no monster on the other end of the SEND button. In truth, if not for writers, there would be no need for editors. YOU are that important to us.
Now, that’s not to say you should be disrespectful or too casual in your correspondence to editors. As with a teacher or coach, respect and listening skills go a long way with how they will treat you. At the same time, most editors should also earn your respect by their actions and guidance whether through an encouraging rejection letter or during the editing process.
So, don't be afraid of the word "editor" because, personally, I love when authors ask questions, whether simple or complex, because it shows me they WANT to learn and better their craft. And that is what I'm here for--to coach, encourage, and inspire you.
Sometimes we get so caught up in all the new story ideas in our heads, or focusing too much on the end result (by researching publishers, the market, or following (stalking) everything other writers are doing), worrying that we aren't good enough by comparing ourselves, our abilities, and our time to others, and just all around...
THINKING TOO MUCH!
And we end up getting no writing done at all...which topples us into that dark well of depression because we want to write, really we do, but let's face it, sometimes it can be so overwhelming, discouraging, and just plain hard.
It's almost like a whirlwind pulling you down rather than elevating you higher.
Yep, been there myself, and more so recently.
So, this is just a friendly reminder to breathe (in and out, deep and slow), let all that crap above go, and simplify. Get back to the one thing that REALLY counts...
I did exactly this on Monday...took a few deep breaths, sat still for a few minutes, and let it all go. Simplified my thinking all around. Then I opened my dusty manuscript file and started.
Before I knew it, that feeling was back, the one I haven't had in too many months of Sundays. You know it--a little giddiness mixed with excitement and a whole lot of contentment. The writing rush 😍.
That is what I wish for you this week, especially if you are struggling. So, just breathe...just simplify...just...write 🖊😉
I thought it about time I “officially” introduce my original characters I’ve posted on a few occasions here (more on Instagram).
P.J. (Peace Joy) Love is a bit of a throwback hippie and, like most of us, just trying to stay positive in this crazy world. Hartly is her lovable rescue mutt, pretty laid back, and a cuddle hound. They began as part of an art challenge and blossomed from there. Sure, maybe you could say there’s a little bit of me in her...but I like to hope there’s a bit more Peace Joy Love in me ☮️😄💖.
So, what’s in store for the happy hippie and her pup? Watch for a fun collaboration she will be involved in with some amazing ladies, and then I’m thinking a little three part “vacation” series might be fun, too. I'll post some here on Sunday Fundays so stay tuned!
Are you sure? Because quite a number of manuscripts that cross my desk don't.
Characters are noted as preparing for a birthday party in two weeks, but a month passes before the actual event happens.
A court date is set for Monday, but the characters meet to discuss it the next Thursday.
The characters meet on Thanksgiving, kiss under the mistletoe on Christmas Eve, then sleep together a week before Christmas.
Sure makes readers scratch their head and think, Huh?
One of the best things you can do for yourself and your manuscript is to print out a blank calendar page--weekly or monthly, even yearly depending on the time frame of your story--and keep it beside your keyboard as you write. Jot down a quick reference note on the day the story opens and every time a day goes by or a time lapse such as "a few weeks later" are mentioned. Underlining, highlighting, or making main events bold also helps. (If you are anything like me, you'll have a cupful of colored pens beside your monitor, too 😍)
Having a calendar to make notes on not only gives you a visual of the timeline and pacing of your story, but you will quickly find the holes that can happen, the gaps needing to be filled or validated to make the story flow appropriately. As you revise, keep track again, maybe in a different color, to ensure new details, added scenes or pages, stay on target or show you where you need to revise again to ensure the timeline makes sense to your readers.
And if your story is to happen in a certain time frame, even better. Jot down the start day and the end day, which now gives you a direct timeline to play with. Fill in the main events, scratch them out, mark the days up again, and keep playing around with it until you find the natural flow of events necessary for an accurate time frame.
But what if I write by the seat of my pants, you ask? Pansters unite--because having a calendar doesn't mean you have to know every detail right away, that's why you keep the page beside your computer, so as the creative juices flow and you twist and turn your plot and characters, you can make quick notes on the calendar page, too. Then, when you look at it after the first draft, you have the perfect visual reference guide to assist you in making those decisions needed for revisions, those fine-tuning details that really bring your story to life...and on time.
A search on Google for free calendar pages will produce loads to choose from, or simply draw up a blank template of your own.
Whether you are a planner or a panster, it's a good idea to have blank calendar pages in your writer's toolkit to pull out before beginning each new manuscript.
If you or someone you know can't seem to get their head out of the negatives and into the positive, then here is a story that may show them the benefits of thinking outside the box and walking on the sunny side of the street... Contemporary Romance Novella Rating: Sensual
Luck be a Cowboy
Travel consultant Sarah Monroe's sudden streak of bad luck continues when, after taking a baseball bat to her cheating fiancé's truck, she discovers she's trashed the wrong one.
Worse, the real owner, sexy cowboy Harper Reed, witnesses her act of vengeful vandalism. The last thing she needs is her passport cancelled due to a criminal record—or to risk trusting another handsome man.
While Sarah worries if their shaky negotiation will hold up under her bad luck, Harper tries to find a way to prove that luck is not only in the eye of the beholder...but in the heart of a cowboy.
5 Hearts from the Romance Studio!!
"Ms. Stacy Dawn definitely lived up to her reputation with this book. I enjoy her style so much that I read all her books possible. Her characters were dynamic, yet comical. Her situations are so funny that it's impossible not to laugh. There were also some poignant moments in the book. I found myself immersed in the characters and felt as if I was there in person. I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes to laugh and maybe shed a tear while reading a fabulous book." ~Brenda Talley, The Romance Studio
4 1/2 Books from the Long and Short Reviews!!
"This was such a great read! The pacing was perfect, and there were no loose ends or unanswered backstory issues. My attention was immediately grabbed by the very first line of the book. Sarah Monroe is a wonderfully feisty heroine who isn’t about to let anyone walk all over her. Harper Reed has just the right mix of patience and passion to be able to handle the spirited little filly. I especially loved how the hero helped the heroine see the positives that came as a result of the perceived negatives. And haven’t we all secretly wanted a little sweet revenge against a lying, cheating scumbag? Take some time, grab a chair and some coffee and enjoy every word of this fantastic story. You won’t be sorry." ~Reviewed by Daffodil, Long and Short Reviews
"Whoa there, Slugger."
The soft body thunked into his arms, back to his chest as rose-scented curls fanned his face. For a moment, Harper relived the moment in the back bedroom, her hair grazing his cheek, her soft skin tingling beneath his hands. The moment was seared into his body, charging it to life the moment he touched her.
Unfortunately, her squirming to untwist a spiked heel from the platform broke into the pleasant memory.
He shifted her to one arm in order to reach down and unhook the errant heel. "You could have broken your neck," he said in a gentle reprimand as he assisted her to stand. "I told you I'd be back to help."
Her gaze darted over his shoulder and out the open door. "Yeah, well, I think I've had just about enough help from men lately." She poked a finger in his chest. "God is a man, isn't he? Well, doesn't that just explain everything."
"O-okay." He wasn't about to delve into a cryptic retort like that and instead sized up the slight pinch of her brows and the haze fading her blue eyes to gray. "You sure you're all right?"
"Yep, great. No problem." She averted her gaze and turned with one spiked heel rising to the fake cake's platform. "Now, help me up. This is gonna be one show you're not likely to forget."
And how, he thought as he slipped his hands to the round, firm ass. All in the name of assistance of course, but man...
Haul it in there, Reed.
Easier said than done as he shifted his own hips to relieve the growing strain in his jeans.
"Okay, I'm in. What do you think?"
Sarah popped around, sultry arms raised in a very 1940s pin-up pose.
Harper's lips twitched.
Her smile grew, eyes dancing like diamonds in the spotlight. His body instantly reacted with a tight chest and even tighter pants.
Harper cleared his throat and sidestepped behind the opened lid, hinged as the top of the cake. He knew his reaction wasn't anything more than being in the company of a gorgeous woman. But if that were true, then why did his gut feel like a big old rock had been dropped to the bottom.
I, for one, know exactly how hard it is to juggle a busy family and two jobs, let alone try to find time to work toward your own goals and dreams that fill your head like an Idea Library where you need one of those cool wheeled ladders to reach some of the places you've stored them for years.
It's hard...boy, is it hard!
But, it is not impossible. Maybe things aren't happening as fast as you want or on a timeline that you think they should, but that doesn't mean those dreams will never come off your inner library shelves. Progress is progress no matter how fast or how slow. The important thing is that you never stop trying, and you NEVER stop dreaming.
So, DREAM BIG because there is nothing stopping you! 😉
Everyone has at least one pet peeve word, and every editor usually has a few. For me, one of my biggest is the word LOOK (and its variations).
It's not that the word can't or doesn't need to be used on occasion; the issue is that it doesn't reveal anything at all--no descriptive, no emotion, no tension, no experience. All Telling, no Showing.
For example, what exactly is happening in this sentence:
David looked at Emma.
Why is David looking at Emma? How is he looking at her? Is he happy to see her? Is he wary of her presence? Is he scared of her or sad they have to meet this way?
Or this sentence:
She looked out the window.
What is she looking at? How is she looking? Why is she looking? Is she excited at what she sees? Does she actually see anything at all or is she just taking a moment to gather her thoughts? Is she wary or tense or scared? Mad, glad, sad?
If that many different scenarios can be thought of for one sentence, then you as an author are not paintingyour scene for the reader.
Here are some examples of stronger variations:
David narrowed his gaze as he studied Emma's tight posture.
or David released his held breath as he turned to find Emma's glorious smile aimed right at him.
She frowned and stared out the window to the storm raging as fiercely as her emotions.
or She cast her gaze out the window to soak up a moment of peace from the early morning sunshine sparkling across the lake.
Word choices--verb choices--are extremely important to ensure a reader not only pictures your scene in vivid detail in their own mind, but to make them experience the moment with the characters.
Strong word choice can change a scene dramatically, so don't choose simple words like "look" that Tell the mere basics. Instead, choose your words wisely to Show and engage your reader in the depth of your character in that particular moment.
I have been slowly working in the background practicing and experimenting for a project I've had in mind for a while now. With a busy family and working two jobs, it will still take time to put it all together, but that's okay, because I am working daily toward that goal even if just five minutes a day...and as with most of my ideas, the end result will of course be with writers in mind.😉
For now, I thought I would share some of the fun practice pieces. I'm thinking I might even create them into a final form some day.
These are from my Scribbles That Matter journal that I fill with doodles and random ideas to play around with lettering and coloring. It has thicker paper, which works great for various mediums from colored pencils to watercolors.
Everyone needs a miscellaneous journal or notebook they can do anything in from random notes to doodling or sketching, poetry or writing, but most importantly, to mess up, make mistakes, scratch out, circle furiously what works, and make funny things out of what doesn't. A place no one else has to see if you don't want them to and where ANYTHING goes. Because it's the practice and progress that really count.
You learn far more from the mistakes than the finished pieces.😉
Bobby Hues has his eye on the Disco Angel jiving around Electric Nights Roller Disco. But what would Miss Spring Break 1976 and the foxiest chick he'd ever laid eyes on want with a lowly grease monkey like himself?
Summer Benton's heart started racing the minute she rolled her broken down ride into Bobby's garage. When he gets a gig working at her favorite hang out, she thinks she has it made—but the quiet hunk still isn't talking. A little push on her part starts the wheels rolling—in the wrong direction. Now she has to figure out how to lose the wrong guy, and convince the right one she digs him enough to be his Disco Angel, forever.
Do you miss the seventies? Step back in time with Stacy Dawn and relive the days of disco, mirrored balls, Afros, and cheese weasels. Ms. Dawn captures the feeling of the times with a cute story of two individuals who have a hard time getting together. Take a few minutes, get back to disco fever with Summer and Bobby, and find out how a soft-spoken man can finally tell the girl of his dreams how he feels.
~Reviewed by Judy Thomas, The Long and The Short of It
All my titles are available in multiple locations:
Do you find these days everything seems to be sped up? Like the world is running on fast forward ➧➧?
Everyone wants things NOW...videos are sped up to get everything you need to know into 30 seconds...same day shipping...etc., etc.
The problem is that it makes YOU speed up. Things that should be taken slow, thoughtful, and carefully, I find I am forcing through, making it work, or worse, ruining it and having to start again because I didn't just take a simple breath of pause first. Anyone else have this problem?
More and more these days I think of the classic story of The Tortoise and The Hare, which has always stuck with me since I was a little girl--I think because my sister was the extrovert, taller, prettier, active, a real go-getter, whereas I was an introvert, short, stocky, and uncoordinated (and still am😊). Don't get me wrong, I am not making depressing comparisons by any means--I got over that long ago when I discovered the talents I had that she didn't, and I eventually came to understand that each person is very special and amazingly unique in their own way, so if you take nothing else from this blog post PLEASE think on that and your own special talents that make you YOU--maybe it is art or writing, you clean a house to sparkling, bake a mean chocolate chip cookie, can make any crying kid laugh or any dog sit and beg for a petting from you, or simply smile at strangers on the street because you honestly believe everyone needs one. You ARE special. Period.
Sorry, got a bit off topic there, but that's because I also think more people need to hear that these days, too.😍
So, where was I? Oh yes, fast forward and The Tortoise and the Hare.
The moral of Aesop's famous story is one that often comes to mind when this world gets sped up elf-voice fast. I find myself repeating it over and over in my head some days as a mantra to help me pull back, pause for a moment, and breath before continuing at a more comfortable pace for me.
If this world has you on the expressway when you would rather be on a leisurely country road, then just think of the tortoise, happy to take his time, smiling at his neighbors, and appreciating his surroundings and his own abilities. He progresses at a pace that works just fine for him...that actually gets him ahead of the game.
Winners are not always the ones who compete and get to the end the fastest, but the ones who keep working to complete their goals...no matter how long it takes or how slow they go. I hope you keep that in mind this coming week.
Are you competing or completing?
Don't hesitate to leave a comment here or on my Instagram post @bystacydawn as I'd love to hear of your own unique, special talent(s), if you took it a little slower this week, and if you noticed a difference. 😉
Shaping is crucial to a story, and trimming extra words or cutting lines, paragraphs, or scenes that slow down the pace can make your manuscript that much tighter, brighter, and engaging.
No, I admit, it’s not easy at all. Sort of like having long hair and deciding to cut it short. Not an easy decision, and it usually sits with you for a while as you debate back and forth with yourself if you REALLY want to do that. Similar to scenes that you really like--maybe with clever dialogue or some funny incident. It is a debate back and forth, almost a fight with yourself because you know it would be better for the book, BUT you feel it is such a good piece of writing, too, that you don't want to get rid of it. Yet, if those paragraphs/scenes stall the pace, you are doing more of an injustice to your story and especially to your reader by giving them a chance to stall, pause, a reason to close the book and go wash their sink-full of dishes.
You want your readers to HAVE to keep turning the pages and let those dishes sit for another hour while they finish your book.
Think of it kind of like a trip to the hairdresser--maybe you did decide to cut your long hair or simply have it styled, and more often than not you come out feeling better about yourself, confident, beautiful. No, it’s not an easy decision to cut parts of your story you think clever and witty, but like getting a fresh haircut, your confidence in your story will raise tenfold when you chop off the unnecessary lose ends and see how much you gain in forward momentum.
And remember, always save those witty, funny, dramatic scenes or pieces of dialogue you loved in a miscellaneous file. Just because they didn’t fit this manuscript, doesn’t mean they can’t wholeheartedly benefit another in the future.😉
Ever wish you had a special place you could just hide away from everything and everyone...just for a little while? Sort of a self-imposed mommy time-out?
Of course, we love our children and family deeply and would do anything for them, but sometimes, we could use a bit of solitude in order to regroup and give our brains and bodies a rest from care-giving, just a little while.
Looking for a quick and fun historical? Well, here you go...😁
Historical Western Romance Short Story Rating: Sweet/Sensual
Standoff at the Waterin' Horse Saloon
Bridget Schneider has a few things to say to the cowboy who stole her heart over a year ago and never came back. Sneaking into the Waterin' Horse Saloon to confront him, the last thing she expects to find is Jonas Decker immersed in a bathtub in all his God-given glory. Her righteous indignation evaporates in the steam and heat of his naked chest and flirtatious smile—but she's not about to let her anger be hog-tied by sudden...distractions. Jonas might've stolen her heart, but she's sure as shootin' gonna get her pride back.
5 Angels and a Recommended Read from Fallen Angel Reviews
"Standoff at the Waterin' Horse Saloon is laugh-out-loud funny and perfectly romantic. I smiled from the first word until the last. I loved this short story. This is a charming slice of life that I know I'll read again. Lively characters, vivid images and an amusing plot all make Standoff at the Waterin' Horse Saloon a great read." ~Reviewed by: Marlene, Fallen Angel Reviews
"Wow. This is such a cute, funny story. Stacy Dawn has managed to pack the pages full of action, humor and intensity. I found myself laughing out loud in the first paragraph and I didn't stop until the very last word!
Any story that can hook you in a few paragraphs, create friends within a few pages and leave its imprint on your mind after so short a time deserves the praise. This one does all that and more! I will be keeping my eyes open for more wonderful works by Ms. Dawn!" ~Reviewed by Lily of The Long and Short of It Reviews
"Jonas Decker! You low-down-dirty-rotten..." The crash of Room 3's door as she flung it open gave Bridgit Schneider a moment of pure satisfaction. The barrel of the gun pointed square between her eyes did not.
All sounds of the Waterin' Horse Saloon's barroom below the second floor landing muted beneath the ricocheted beats of her heart.
Fierce green eyes stared steadily at her for half an instant before widening in shock. "Bridget! What the hell are you doin' here, girl? I coulda shot your head off!"
She clasped a hand to her throat as her gaze followed the lowered gun to a bare chest grazed with dark hair, which coursed down to disappear beneath steaming water.
Maybe Izzy was right—I shoulda thought this through a bit better.
Her gaze darted back up at the curses hissed out above the broad chest. Quick as lightening, Jonas holstered the gun in a thick, leather belt hanging off the chair next to the long, narrow wooden tub. With the same frantic momentum, he grabbed the brown cowboy hat from his head and slapped it onto the water between where his knees broke the surface and his chest drizzled with moisture.
All my titles are available in multiple locations:
Back in March, I started to put into play no "zero days" meaning I make an effort to do something every day that forwards my goals/dreams. (You can read the initial post HERE) and I am very happy to say I am up to 62 days with no zero days. Sometimes it is only five minutes, and other times it could be an hour, but every day I do something to move myself closer to reaching my goals. At about day 50, I reassessed and fine-tuned my current plan even further so I can have a more measurable outcome, and so far so good. No, it is not easy, especially when there is a lot of personal family stuff going on, and it is all I can do some days to put one foot in front of the other, but focusing on something always eases some of the stress, so there is so much more benefits for progress than just goals, like self-care and positive thinking.
I will let you in on this particular project in the future...near future I hope 😉
100 Day Project:
April 3rd began a yearly, world-wide creative movement called The 100 Day Project. I thought I had blogged about it but I see I didn't--oops. Basically, it is choosing something creative to do every day for 100 days straight. I knew my time was tense to begin with, but again, creativity is my happy place, so I wanted to participate and decided I would do a mini sticky-note doodle every day for 100 days. And at just shy of the half-way point, I am still cruising along there, too. I've been trying to pick themes for a few days or a week, and I am quite happy with my little five minutes a day doing something fun. Here are the results so far...
Writing is a learning curve that never ends, and continued study of the craft only makes your writing stronger. So I thought I would share an occasional reference book here for you.
First up, I want to share How I Write by Janet Evanovich with Ina Yalof.
For fans, you will recognize the main author right away. For others, Janet Evanovich has written many books from romance to mystery, one of her most famous being the Stephanie Plum bounty hunter series (One for the Money, Two for the Dough, etc.)
This book is a bit different than most because, as shown by the title, it is not a how to write book, but rather, her interpretations on various topics through a question and answer type format.
I found the book entertaining and inspiring. Because of the format, it was like sitting down to a cup of coffee and a box of donuts with your favourite author and hearing all the ins and outs of how she makes a living. Often funny, occasionally serious, and with a few more specifically craft oriented notations from Ina Yalof, the book was an easy read with the simplest of lessons woven through: Nothing will happen if you don’t just sit down and write.
There were a number of pages I marked for future reference and other areas that, though I may not have totally agreed with her perspective on, I did respect her explanations and was still able to take bits from those areas, too. And this is the one thing you want to remember when reading reference material: We are all unique and have different perspectives whether through life experiences and/or educational experiences, and therefore, you may not agree with everything you read. One craft book can’t tell you exactly how to write a perfect story, but continuing to expand your knowledge base by taking the bits and pieces which speaks to you from each, gives you the inspiration and drive to write more, are what makes each book beneficial whether you liked it or not.
How I Write gave me a lot to think about and, most importantly, inspiration in my chosen careers, so for me, I'm glad I read it and recommend it as one of the more entertaining reference books.
Whether you are a mom, grandmother, guardian, caregiver, parent of fur-babies, single parent playing both parts or just an all around motherly person caring for those around you, I wish you all the best and sunniest of days today.
You are loved, appreciated, and very, very special 💖
Every publisher has their preference, so it is very important that you do your homework and read the submission page of the publisher(s) where you are interested in submitting.
Though it might look cool and impressive to you, most publishers don’t like fancy fonts, spaces between paragraphs, extra wide margins or fancy header/footer or chapter sections.
If you cannot find specific instructions from the publisher, best to go with the general industry standard:
Double spaced One inch margins Times New Roman 12 font Paragraphs beginning .5 indent in Each chapter beginning on a new page
Most important: Use your computer program to format!
When you use the Tab key to indent every single paragraph or space down to a new page after the end of each chapter, it can be a nightmare to fix everything for publication formatting purposes. Most programs have a Help section, or simply Google instructions to format per your specific program.
One more good tip...make sure the partial and or full manuscript is all in one file. The only thing worse than getting a partial submission with each of the three chapters (and sometimes prologue) in three or four different files attached to an email, is fifteen or more chapters of a full manuscript in fifteen or more individual files attached to an email.
So once again, I repeat one of my favorite writing tips: Do your homework...both in learning your program's formatting features AND publisher requirements.
Feeling a little overwhelmed lately. I think part is the time of year--the day job gets busy in the spring/summer as well as nightly editing schedules. Add in family schedules and some days I feel like this...just trying to keep up and remember everything...
How about you? Do you find certain times of year when you are supposed to be happy and encouraged can feel more weighty and daunting?
These are the days to remember self-care...do something every day--even for ten minutes--that is all about your own enjoyment, your own piece of mind, your own "down time" or whatever will help you breathe. I've learned this year that it is NOT selfish, it is NECESSARY 😉.
Today was the most beautifully warm day we have had in ages...and perfect to get out for a drive...
Corvette Confessions Contemporary Romance Short Story Rating: Sweet
Have you ever been in the right place at the wrong time?
Dumped at the senior spring dance, AJ, who’d always been more into softball and shop class than cheerleading and pep squad, escaped the crowd to mope in the Corvette on loan to the class for the semester. When Greg Roberts unexpectedly joined her, his attempts to cheer her worked—too well. She might have even confessed her love that night if Greg’s longtime girlfriend hadn’t come looking for him.
Twenty-five hard years later, forced to come to the reunion by her best friend, AJ escapes back to her favorite class, only to find the exact Corvette—a little worn and faded—sitting right where she’d left it. Fond memories turn into reality when Greg shows up at her driver’s side window again—and déjà vu takes on a whole new meaning.
5 DIAMOND REVIEW from Gemstone Reviews!!
"Stacy Dawn weaves a great story...I enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it to all."
4 Tea Cups from Happily Ever After Reviews!
"Ms. Dawn's characters are delightful and well grounded as the story unfolds in the front seat of the corvette, which is as much a character and personality in it's own right. I loved the description of the memories being kept in the box, which is gradually prised open as the conversation moves over the last twenty-five years. Written in the first person from AJ's pov, we still get as much emotion from Greg from his actions and expressions, as we do from AJ. A quick read, it is a powerful a story as some longer ones."
~Happily Every After Reviews
"The class of '85 series can add another gem to the homecoming queen's crown, Corvette Confessions is a witty, whimsical, fun read." ~Donna Bolk, an Amazon.com review
“Ma’am, I’m going to need to see your driver’s license and registration, please.”
Twenty-five years sucked me back through a narrow tunnel and my heart pounded along with the thunder of sudden time-travel beating against my eardrums.
The light lowered to reveal honey-brown eyes crinkled in amusement. The overlap of youth and maturity flickered back and forth until my eyes came to focus on a handsome face, the grace of silver kissing the edges of thick, sandy-blonde hair.
I fumbled for the volume dial without taking my eyes from him. “G-Greg?”
A chuckle came from the wide smile. “Sorry, A.J., I couldn’t resist.”
“It’s A…J…” I trailed off from the automatic correction when I realized he’d gotten my name right. He remembered? And remembered more than just the way he surprised me last time, too.
Through the windshield, I watch him shut off and set down the Trouble light. I quickly tamed my mussed up hair and snagged my purse back from the passenger seat as I followed his progress around the hood of the Corvette. I don’t think I actually pulled in a breath until his weight in the bucket seat shifted the vehicle and kicked my lungs back into survival mode.
Long seconds went by as he contemplated me with those twinkling eyes.
“Don’t know about you,” he finally said, “but I’m having a bit of déjà vu here.”
You have no idea
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Though it is FINALLY looking like spring LOL, and we can finally get outside, the kids are still in school, which is a good reminder to authors in general, especially newer authors...don't let the fresh air make you forget to do your homework, too!
This is a good life lesson, especially in the publishing industry. Study your craft constantly. Learning never stops (even for editors 😁).
Most importantly, do your homework before you submit. Most publishing houses have their submission guidelines on their websites.
ABIDE BY THEM.
In reality, this is your first test as an author. Are you able to follow simple guidelines? Can you do what is asked of you in the general form?
You may be quirking your brow and saying, "What? A test? Seriously?"
Yes. Maybe not a serious, sit down, use a #2 pencil type one, and maybe not in the terms any actual publishing house would use, but there are editors on the other end of that submission email who roll their eyes at someone who sent multiple attachments when it was specifically asked that no attachments be sent with a query, or when you use a really weird and fancy font when a simple Times New Roman 12 was asked for in their submission guidelines. No, you aren't physically graded, but not adhering to simple guidelines can start you off on the wrong foot with someone you really want to impress. The editor first looks to see if you can follow simple directions, which lets them know that when it's time for the more indepth directions of edits on your manuscript, you are someone who pays attention to details, someone who is willing to do the work.
Show them you are someone they want to work with; show them you are someone they CAN work with; show them you are serious and took the time to research their site, and they will know you are someone who is willing to learn and willing to work for their craft.
And I'll let you in on a secret, those are the answers to that first test....Submission Etiquette 101.
Okay everyone, get out your flyswatters. Nope, it's not summer (OMG not even spring with all the snow we've had recently😆), but it is time you let your characters show their story.
One thing I see a lot of is narration coming from the point of view of something that sees all and knows all. Personally, I call this a Fly on the Wall POV—as if a fly is stationed merrily on the wall above everyone and telling the events. The problem is...the fly isn’t a character in the story.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of stories done in this type of third person narrative and some work well. The issue that I see too often, however, is a story being shown from the perspective of the main character and then the fly dropping in to have it’s say--essentially head-hopping to the Fly's POV and thus pulling the reader out of the head of the main character (and subsequently, the story).
One other main issue the FLY POV often produces is passive writing in the form of more Telling versus Showing.
Using deeper point of view, keeping in the “head” of your main character, describing things from their specific experience, perception, and viewpoint, gives the reader a chance to know them, to understand them, and most of all, to relate to them. You want a reader invested in your characters and the story so they leave the laundry, housecleaning, and any other chore behind for another time while they are riveted by your character’s journey.
Deeper POV describes the moments specifically through the main character of the scene, and therefore, anything that happens, any knowledge, anything described, can only be shown by what the main POV character actually knows, sees, hears, feels etc.
Let’s take an example:
Her cheeks flared an angry shade of red, and her hands fisted at her sides as she aimed her steamy blue gaze toward the bane of her existence.
This is Fly POV because, unless the character is looking in a mirror, she wouldn’t know the specific color her face had turned or be able to reference her own blue eyes is such a fashion. The above is a description from that of a fly on the wall looking at her, and because of this, it is Telling--telling the reader what it sees. The other issue is that her hands are moving on their own as if without her knowledge, making that what can be called disjointed body parts. A fly sees her hands fist, but the actual character is the one controlling the movement. Therefore, this description also needs to be revised so as to keep it active to the main character.
Let’s revise showing the moment from the experience of the actual character--Deeper POV.
The burning in her cheeks scorched down her neck. Fisting sharp nails into her palms, she choked back a verbal slaying and narrowed her gaze toward the bane of her existence.
The above is now described through sensation and direct action of the character's perception/experience of the tense moment. Also note that revising to Deeper POV doesn't mean adding gobs of description--the sentences are almost the same length. Always remember, it is not about the amount of words, but the right choice of words.
Another fly example that happens often is referring to the POV character in a group:
They came to a small pathway and decided it was better for the other two to go first.
Who is the POV character in the above sentence? Exactly. Unknown. Right there is a big red flag for passive writing and Fly Telling. The sentence also doesn’t show much about the path or tension of the scene—is it a happy, yellow brick road or a scary, dark corridor? A rocky road of determination or a long, leisurely stroll in long grass? If a reader can think up that many different descriptions for the scene, then you as the author have not painted the picture for them--painted the "path" you want them to follow.
A possible revision:
Jenny bit her lip as she stopped behind her friends near the dark, gravel pathway. The boys decided to go first, and she blew out a thankful breath, only to suck it back in when a cold breeze blew across her neck.
Now we know exactly whose experience we are sharing (Deeper POV), AND the picture is painted for the reader--there is something about the path making her nervous. That “something” is what makes the reader WANT to continue reading to see if she is going to be okay.
Remember, for a stronger read, swat that fly off the wall and let your characters show their story.
Up next is another Friday Special Edition of Love, Meg. Find out where she is headed to next!
As I mentioned last Sunday, I will be occasionally posting special series on Fridays. This inaugural Friday Special Edition is based on an Instagram doodle challenge hosted by @myartsybujo called April's Amazing Adventures. She had listed some adventure such as hiking, skiing, camping etc. to doodle...and I had this idea to add my signature story twist and ended up with an adventure told through postcards. I hope you enjoy...Love, Meg.
Pop back next Friday for the next installment of the story!
Spell Check is a wonderful device. The problem is, too many people trust it to be their proof-reader--if there are no red squiggly lines under the words, then the spelling must be correct, right?
the is the correct spelling....unless you meant them
accept is the correct spelling....unless you meant except
he is the correct spelling...unless you meant she
And as with the last example, mixing up simple genders might not make the best impression on an editor reading your manuscript LOL.
Perhaps this is your first submission, or perhaps you don’t know all the ins and outs of Point of View or Goal-Motivation-Conflict; that is all part of the learning curve and feedback an editor can give you. But one of the comments you don’t want from an editor is that your manuscript was sloppy with a lot of spelling errors that could have easily been avoided by a good proofing. You don’t want an editor thinking you’re lazy; you want them thinking you are a diamond in the rough that they can’t wait to help shine.
Proofing your manuscript is one of the simplest things you can do to ensure a good read by an editor. But don't leave it up to your program's spell checker. One of the best ways to proof is to simply read your story out loud--you will be AMAZED how many things you can discover when reading aloud, everything from spelling to sentence structure to paragraph beats (Paragraph beats? What's that? you say--don't worry *wink* I will be talking about that topic soon. )
Just to be fair, though, Spell Check can be a good friend to international writers submitting to American publishers for instance--IF you make sure the dictionary on your Word program is set to the proper dictionary (ie: US). It is a good catch for words that you have used your whole life according to the country you live in. Canada for instance: colour vs color, favour vs favor etc. Both are correct--depending which country is publishing the book.
So, I guess there is another good tip for you...remember to research the location and background of the publishing company you want to submit to along with their submission guidelines😉.
And come back Friday for my very first Friday Special Edition!