If you are a new writer, you might wonder where to spend your time. Should you be writing right now, or should you be tweeting, posting and chatting to learn and promote? Social Media v. your craft.
Of course, the answer is simple.
You must do both.
I spend time each day working on my current manuscript, and I connect with others online to keep up with new ideas or trends. More importantly, I get online to keep my name and face out there. Since the majority of a writer's time is spent offline, locked in a room, chained to a desk, practicing ways to combat carpal tunnel or searching for the best synonym for "just", she must sneak out and remind the world she's here. Get social.
I enjoy chatting with other authors, readers, bloggers and industry people. I learn from them, and they make me laugh. My suggestion to new writers, find a group or two you click with, and join the conversation. Choose your social media plotform. For now, I tweet.
Here are some great twitter chats to start you off. Pick a day!
#LitChat - Run by @LItChat via travel writer Carolyn Burns Bass. Variety of topics on all things books. Mondays @ 1PM Pacific
#KidLitChat - Run by writers Bonnie Adamson and Greg Pincus. All things books and writing for children, middle grades and YA. Tuesdays @ 6PM Pacific. More here.
#YALitChat - Run by publisher and editor Georgia McBride. Delightful and informative chats about young adult lit for authors and lovers of YA. Wednesdays @ 6PM Pacific.
#StoryDam Chat - Run by writers Patricia Plynne and Brett Jonas. Thursday @ 5PM Pacific.
#K8Chat - Run by author assistant Kate Tilton. Lively, friendly, lots of ideas for indie authors. Thursdays @ 6PM Pacific.
#ChocLitSaturdays - Run by writer and book lover Jorie. Brand new on the chat scene. Promises to be a fun place to spend an hour of your Saturday. Saturdays @ 8AM Pacific.
I have participated at least once (if not numerous times!) on each. The moderators are welcoming, and the discussions are fruitful. Try one. Try two. See you online!
We're a full month into spring, and I can smell summer's surf and sun already. What's on your reading list!
As a writer of YA, and someone who is more A than Y, I try to keep up with popular reads. If I want to write what young people want to read, I need to read what they like. Since I must also balance my life, and since I have so many books I want to read (adult fiction, biographies, books on writing), I am quite choosy on my YA.
Fortunately, the other day, I happened upon a lively discussion of YA books to read with writers, editors and readers on #StoryDam (Tuesdays at 5PST) via @StoryDam. I now have a whole collection on my Goodreads YAtoRead list!
Today, I'm sharing FIVE with you:
1. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein - a friendship forms amidst WWII (theme: friendship) Read if you liked "Flygirl" by Sherri Smith.
2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - a foster girl steals to survive in WWII London (theme: responsibility, kindness) Read if you liked "The Diary of Anne Frank".
3. Mickey Harte Was Here by Barbara Park - a sister must deal with her brother's early death (theme: death, choices) Read if you liked "My Sister's Keeper" by Jodi Piccoult.
4. Freakboy by Kristin Elizabeth Clark - a boy feels more like a girl struggles to be himself - and tell his girlfriend (theme: sexual identity) Read if you liked "Forever" by Judy Blume or "Openly Straight" by Bill Knoigsburg.
5, Paper Covers Rock by Jenny Hubbard - Alex tries to deal with his best friend's drowning (themes: death, friendship, guilt) Read if you liked "A Separate Peace" by John Knowles.
Don't stop here...start reading! Share your reviews or other ideas for summer reads here or with me on Twitter.com/thisgirlclimbs.
Many writers adhere to the adage - "write what you know". However, writers are not born with a wealth of knowledge. That means, our stories are limited to our own isolated lives. Often, there's need for research.
Don't skimp on research.
Tom Clancy never set foot on a sub before he wrote his acclaimed novel THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER. You'd never know because he did his research.
Consider the many crime shows on television and the numerous and popular mystery novels that hold the attention of so many passengers waiting to board planes. Chances are the author never put on a police uniform, so he better have done his research. Think about the cop who picks up a crime novel and discovers the hero catches the crook based on a blood test (a blood test the cop reader knows is inaccurate).
Even romance novels require research; especially if they include a historical setting. Don't skimp!
For my YA novel BIRDS ON A WIRE, I embed information about birds throughout the story. It's not essential to the plot, but it is essential to the theme. I spent hours, days and weeks reading up on the different mating habits of blackbirds and owls and hawks. I read bird guides from the National Audubon Society. I spoke to birding friends. I reviewed various websites and blogs.
Presently, I'm writing a story about a girl who suffers auditory hallucinations. This is a completely foreign topic to me, but it fits well for the plot. I am hip high in books, websites and information from friends, psychiatrists and other writers. I've even received great help from someone I've never met in person, crime writer Fiona QUinn. Her website bursts with info on how to catch and commit crimes - info for writers only!
Whether you plan to write a children's book, historical fiction or fantasy, you will need to do some research. Click on the links above for some great tips. Good luck!
As a kid, I loved hanging out with my dad at his workbench. I marveled at his array of hammers, screwdrivers and odd curvy things hanging on his wall. It seemed he had a tool for just about everything. He told me how important it was to have the right tools in your toolkit.
He was right then, and he's still right. Toolkits aren't just for carpenters and weekend tinkerers. When you think about it, every profession has a tool kit. So what are the essentials in a writer's tool kit?
Well, it must contain the necessary tools of your trade, items to get started, smooth the rough edges, and polish it off for show. Whether you are a novice author just getting started on your first story or you are a seasoned writer looking to hone your craft, you need to clean out your tool box. Here are my 5 tool kit essentials:
1. A writing space - a desk, park bench, beach chair and sand, a corner in the library. Where doesn't matter as much once you get going; but it is essential to find a spot where you aren't distracted and where you feel inspired.
2. Something to write on and with - laptop, notebook and pens, old fashioned typewriter. Again, what's important here is that the items you use to write with feel natural to you. For me, it's my laptop. However, I always carry something with me for inspirational moments (see #4).
3. Writing conventions resources - Strunk & White's ELEMENTS of STYLE (I have 4 copies tucked everywhere); at least one stylebook (LA Times, Chicago, AP); a thick thesaurus and dictionary. Yes, your wordprocessing resources do this trick, too; but you really need hard copies around. What if the electricity goes out and you need a good synonym for 'evil'?
4. Emergency supplies - As I mentioned in #2, you never know when inspiration strikes. Always keep a few small notebooks and pens stashed everywhere you spend time (the car, work, your purse or backpack, your bedside). I have notes written all over, and even if I don't go back to use them, just having written them down helps me work out my ideas. For you smartphone and ipad users, you might prefer the Novel Idea.
5. A paperback writing coach - Literally. There are numerous great books out there by established writers. These books can serve as your writing coach.. Buy one or more by different authors. Read them over and over. Write in their margins. Highlight, underline, circle! They want you to learn from their mistakes and benefit from their epiphanies. My favorite - ON WRITING by Stephen King. Find yours.
That's it. Gather your tools, and start writing! Good luck!