First, some exciting news: I had a full request from a lovely agent! Very exciting, and a long time coming. If you want to read the opening to ON THE ROAD TO MARTY MCFLY, I'd love your feedback, too!
While I avoid stalking my inbox, I'm catching up on some great books. There are so many super YA novels out and a few I missed. For your interest, I've started a review page. Check it out! Share your opinions, too, please :)
Besides juicy stories, I've been re-reading some writing books that have me thinking about my habits. I wonder which of these are important to you and which one's I'm missing.
Here's my to do list top ten (in Late Night order) if I were starting out today:
10. Join Twitter. Set up an account that is public where you focus almost solely on writing topics. You can get personal, but consider it an extension of your workspace.
9. Participate in Twitter. That means, find chats, socialize with others in the industry. Don't stalk agents, but do follow them, so you can learn.
8. Join a professional group. You will connect with others in your genre, learn about workshops, and create lasting friendships. Try these: romance writers; children or young adult writers; sci-fi and fantasy writers; steampunk; mystery.
7. Write. We can't travel too far down this list without mentioning craft. It's so important to establish a routine. Whether it means writing for thirty minutes everyday on your lunch break or getting up an hour early while the house is quiet, you must write. Every. Day. Try these tips.
6. Read. Read like you write like you breathe. Read what you live, but most definitely read what you write. If you write picture books, read the best and worst of them, so you know what little readers like. And don't just read for fun, read with purpose. When I started studying other YA like they were textbooks, I learned so much about my audience. Join me on Goodreads where you can find lists of great books and insightful reviews.
5. Study. These books are not novels. These are books on craft. There are so many out there. I recommend three to start with: On Writing by Stephen King, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, and Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. Read about them on Goodreads; start with one.
4. Find your voice. Anyone can write a story. No one can write it like you. What makes you stand out as a writer is voice. How do you find yours? Go back to #7 and #5. Write and study writing. You will find your voice. Listen to author Cory Putman Oakes.
3. Find your story. Anyone can write a story. No one can write yours. You've heard the adage--write what you know. Well, what do you know? Losing someone? Laughing until you pee your pants? Moving three times before puberty? Feeling incredible unrequited love? Listen to the master, Neil Gaiman, on this.
2. Support and connect with other writers. Join a writing group; find critique partners; nurture those relationships. We can learn so much from each other.
1. Shameless plug: sign up for my free newsletter (up there on your right) and never miss another great writing tip!
What's on your writer's to do list? I'd love to know. Please share below and continue the conversation.
Read, Rinse. Repeat. My new Scrivener motto. After completing the first 8 tutorial steps last week, I decided to take another look.
Learning a new language takes time, and technology is definitely a foreign language. Each program, app, piece of hardware has its own lingo. It’s clear to me that I might never be Scrivener perfect, but I will improve with use. Perfection takes practice. My online friends agree:
Author Robert Bryndza said: “One thing I love about Scrivener is the way you can turn your project into any kind of file using just a few clicks, Word doc, PDF, EPUB and Mobi.”
Writer Chrissy Munder wanted to scrap the app at first, then: “The best thing I came across (note: I am not in any way an affiliate) was http://learnscrivenerfast.com/. I can't say enough good things about this program or the way it helped me get right into using the program.”
Here are 3 take-away’s from this week’s studies:
1. Where’d you go, Word Count? - while reading about “Footer View” (something I’d glossed over quickly at first, thinking it was useless extra stuff), I discovered I’d lost the Word Counter. But Mr. Scrivener knew that might happen. A few paragraphs in, I came across a NOTE suggesting that if one’s Word Counter disappeared, consider checking if you switched the Editor into Screenwriting Mode. And, uh, yeah, that was I.
2. I really dig that Composition Mode – click on the “compose” button up top, and it’s just you and your document in space (where no one can hear you scream, writhing in writersblockitis).
3. Weak at the knees for the Inspector - another favorite, The Inspector. (Although every time I read the word “inspector” I envision Matthew Broderick in a trench coat.) The Inspector is the set of collapsible folders to the right of the main Editor (where you write). The “Synopsis” allows you to save grabbed or typed text so you know in a blink what’s in that document’s section. However, my utter fave is the STATUS drop menu in the “General” folder there. Add any title here to categorize the stages of your work - “To Do”, “Final Draft”. I’ve already created “Yikes – need help!”.
Stay tuned for more insights with Scrivener next week. We’ll have some fun with that sexy Corkboard View.
Please consider sharing your experiences, perceptions and questions here.
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!