Wednesday, March 30, 2011

You Tell Me. Writer? or Author?

Is a Writer an Author?

Although the titles are similar, and have a few things in common, one being that they both write normally for pay, there is a distinct difference further in Webster’s definitions.

Both are writers, who write books, stories, and articles professionally for pay, normally.

A writer can be as simple as someone able to write and has written something or is engaged in literary composition as a profession, an author, a writer of novels. A writer can be professionally engaged in a wide range of occupations from insurance to operation manuals. A writer is also a title of rank in India (not quite the definition we are talking about).

An author, though a writer, is the beginner, a first mover of anything, a creator, an originator. An author composes or writes books and is distinguished from and editor, translator or compiler. Yet, Webster’s also includes two additional definitions: the editor of a periodical and an informant.

I have often thought of a writer as someone writing for a living, but never fully engaging in completion of novels or full-sized books. And for a long time, I thought of an author as someone published. However, I now realized that upon putting The End at the end of a novel qualifies for the title Author, whether or not we are published. If we are published, then we get the honor of adding to that title with, Published Author.

You tell me. What are your ideas on this? Know of any great links we can tack to the bulletin boards?


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Fine Tune Writing

So, you’ve written a novel.

What an accomplishment!

Now what? What’s next?

Publishing, right?

Rushing out “there,” novel in hand, visions of sugar plums and castles in the air make your feet float across the ground. Then it happens…


Think of writing a novel, short story, or other form of writing intended for an audience, (Diaries don’t require such intensity) as turning on an old transistor radio.

First, the premise is the radio wave blasting through the air unseen, unheard, and unnoticed; nonetheless, it is there, everywhere. When an idea for a novel first hits our thoughts, it seems our minds will explode if we don’t write the next best seller. However, if we tell someone about it before we write it, the air fills with too many “other” broadcasts. No one else can hear our radio signals quite as we do.

Second, the first writing is finished. It is the best ever written, a real classic. Turning the knobs of the old radio to find that perfect signal, we listen to our favorite tunes ignoring the static around the edges. (younger people today may not appreciate this analogy) While ignoring the static, we get lost in the words of our ingenious creations and cannot comprehend why others don’t hear them as well as we do. However, we can’t give up now; if we adjust the knob on that old radio a little more, it will be perfect. This is the realization of the need for a re-write.

Third, sometimes we fiddle with the knob too much and loose the signal. No problem. The radio is still on; we can find another station, maybe come back to the old station later. Turning that knob to refine the station is much like our efforts of re-writing, editing, and begging for input on our writing. Some advice causes us to turn the knob too far in one direction while other advice clouds our editing into thinking we have the next best seller already. No matter what, we can’t seem to turn the radio off once we turn it on.

Fourth, calming that inner hunger with reality, we focus on the fine-tuning with determination to remove all the static by reverting to grammar school basics. Reviewing basic writing rules, the do’s and the don’t’s of grade school through MFA degrees, is where we discover the way to remove most of the static. Where to place that comma (if at all), word choice, capitalization, passive voice, tense, and all the tiny details surrounding our wonderful creation becomes static until the station we are listening to becomes a full-blown job.

Grammar Guide

Fifth and final, one more adjustment. Just one more…until we have fine-tuned that old radio until there isn’t anymore static only to discover…HD Radio.

Good luck in all your endeavors in getting published – either traditional or self-publishing.

NOTE: The world has been buzzing lately about traditional publishing verses self-publishing. Blogs, Twitter, and news articles banter about which avenue is best. Peeling away all reasons discussed, boil the cabbage down (as the old saying goes), and one aspect rarely talked about emerges…perfecting the craft. Self-publishing on your first book removes the hoops, those fiery hoops required to jump through in traditional publishing, and gives a smooth, well-paved highway for putting your novel in print regardless of its imperfections. Without critique and editors, without hearing the static of imperfection, how can we grow? How can we perfect our talents if we don’t realize they are not perfect? For those who have beaten through the wilderness, carved the highways (built solid platforms) for fans to easily find them and love them, self-publishing is a good way to go for they have already fine-tuned the old radio. Seeking traditional publishing helps us improve our writing regardless of our base knowledge of the craft.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Writer's Flowchart by Kate Hart

Kate Hart has a great flowchart that would make a great addition to any writer's corkboard or taped to their well-organized writing desk.

This is one link that will help you know what stage of writing you are currently working your way through…


Just in case you lose the link or forget to anchor it to your favorites, I have included this link in the sidebar of my blogspot under in “Great Resources for Writers,” which is where I am putting valuable links for improving our writing.

If anyone has Links to add to this list, that is what my blog is all about…finding all the Missing Links.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Why Write

Recently, on twitter a hash tag #whyIwrite tweeted all over the place. One writer answered numerous times, while one author, Jason Pinter, wrote some awesome reasons for writing.

Giving it a little thought, I wrote one. Then more thought, I wrote another. Now, I have slept on it and thought about it some more.

Why do we write? Why do you write? And why do you read what others write about writing?

Some answers in the hashtag as well as answers I have read on other blogs and writer forums, say they are compelled to write as if they have no choice. But why such a compelling drive? What happened in life to cause such an unquenchable hunger to create worlds with words?

So, I am taking that question on step further…

Why do you write?
What does writing do for you while you are writing?
What motivates you to write?

Are we all really addicted to it? Are we insane, obsessed, or demented?

Some days I feel like I am losing my marbles, so I keep them in a drawstring bag in my armoire just to prove I still have a few of my marbles left.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Snarky Altitude

After another night of no sleep, it is difficult to maintain an even keel without resorting to creative powers of Snarky-tude. This morning, after my third cup of coffee, I had no resistance to the high-in-the-sky Snarky Altitude. I let her fly.

Writing resumes when there is no substance to hold the ink to the paper is more frustrating to me than the dreaded query letter. Query letters are an art form all by themselves where we condense our sometimes years of hard work into a single sentence, the hitch…er…I mean pitch, (sounds a lot like a marriage proposal – better make it good) and then choose the right words for only one page of sales and information about the book in quest.

Monday, I went for a job interview. My hopes were flying around in the sky with the spring birds celebrating warmer weather here. However, while sitting on the outside of a large mahogany desk, I got an out-of-body experience.

Mr. Big Lawyer had my resume neatly in the center of his cluttered-just-enough-to-look-busy desk. His questions were so off the secretary position requiring no experience that I felt unsure if I should answer at all, but I did. My resume was neat, tight and concise, but my work history while attaining the education, the skills, and abilities needed for clerical work fell short, uh, no, they fell off the page, onto the floor, and then hid in the darkest corner they could find.

Suddenly, ( “ly” word) I noticed a trend in my life. I write. No one reads beyond the resume of me. I apply. No one listens beyond the resume of me. Sounds like a pity party, right? Not. Right now I am listening to some crazy Native American music, Aero, drinking what is left of that pot of coffee @5pm, and laughing at my new attitude and the poor recipient of my latest application for a job.

After stripping all job history details from my resume, adding each and every single skill, talent, or ability I could think of listing, (I even mentioned that I could make a good cup of coffee) I re-wrote the Objective, but refrained from simply saying: “My objective is to be published, rich and famous.” So, I did show some control.

“Objective: To rise above the stigma of NO EXPERIENCE = NO JOB. To use the skills I went to college to learn regardless of my work history experience. To learn and grow with a company for a very long time. It is not what I have done, but what I can do!”

After butchering my resume to reflect my revamped snarky-tude, I proceeded to apply via email to another law firm seeking a secretary with preferred experience. Now, that was one email to read. I even had to disclaim that I was not a crackpot sending them a virus. (Think they believed me?)

Finally, (another ly word...I’ll just never get there, will I?) my snarky-tude shook hands with an astounding realization. Maybe it isn’t astounding to everyone else, but when we get those lightbulb-moments, we are genius and not a single other person ever thought of it before, right?

Well, (a very deep subject) I compared this experience with seeking publishing for my great and stupendous novels. Employers fail to see the potential of a dedicated hard worker solely because of a lack of DOCUMENTED proof of experience much the same as agents fail to see beyond the marriage proposal, I mean pitch and query letters to the novel. It is not their fault entirely (ouch another one), but a glitch in the matrix. It is the system, the long-accepted method of doing things.

Someone ought to write a book - “Rising Above Ourselves” (Let me know if there is already one out there...I’ll buy I get a job, that is. Right now I am still a full-fledged member of the Starving Artist Society.)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

“But Mom, I don’t like reading Shakespeare…”

When I was younger, I dreamed of writing stories, poetry, and novels. Daydreaming about adventures, heroes, and faraway lands got me into trouble more than once. These adventures often manifested into reality in my life, but mostly they helped me survive the nightmares of abuse.

Then the biggest nightmare of all time, the big “D” and I don’t mean Dallas, released me from a lifetime of being a mouse. For several years after, I roared like a lion. In recent years, however, I try to find a beast somewhere between the squeak of a mouse and the ferocious roar of the king of the jungle. I’ve yet to find one, so if anyone has any suggestions…(smile).

Before signing the papers in 2001, I purposed to make writing much more than the daydreaming of my youth: I started writing. Oh, how I wrote in a fevered pitch. I wrote short stories and poetry and then sought publishing. If you are a writer, a regular one without degrees directing your path, then you can guess what I did next.

With my head in the stars floating around in the galaxies, I had my first book in print. I thought I was that good! PublishAmerica victim number…uh…numbers don’t really matter unless you are a cheese or wine. (hmm…why does that word make me want a glass of it at 9:30 in the morning?) That was a costly lesson, but one that started me on the road of P.E. (Publishing Education), which is more enlightening than the gym classes in high school. Fortunately, that book was a mere compilation of short stories and poetry and not a novel.

Writing one more short story before leaving for work, I leaned back in my chair and read over what I wrote. “This is no short story! This is a book,” I said to my computer. (yes, I talk to myself…er…I mean my computer.) Six months later, it was a binder-bulging 147,000 words and the most awesome fantasy adventure the world ever knew. However, the world didn’t know, and still doesn’t. I was ready. I was a writer! I drove all the way to Washington DC, the Library of Congress and got it copyrighted; I had to protect my work from…well you know.

Then, I asked people to read it for some feedback. Why wasn’t everyone as excited about it as I was? No one wanted to read it, much less give me some feedback. Of course, back then I didn’t know where to seek such beta readers, nor had I ever heard that term before. Reading one particular “help” site, I kept seeing the acronym, MFA. The way it was used made me think surely that it must be some form of swearing about someone’s attitude. So, I googled it before adding my two cents. Yeah, I got a good laugh.

Finally, I got my oldest son to read a little of my great, fantastic, and wonderful book. He read the first page and said, “Mom, I don’t mean to be mean, but I really don’t like reading Shakespeare.” I took a deep breath and sighed relief! Finally, someone cared enough to take a look. He was more than right. I took his advice and rewrote the book, but it remained over 140,000 words.

His words, his honesty with me, helped me embark upon the long, difficult journey of learning the craft of writing BETTER. Reading books on writing, blogs, and participating in writer’s forums, my writing evolved. Another P.E. is now pegged at the top of my browser window – Preditors & Editors where I was not surprised to see PublishAmerica listed as one of the worst places to go if we are serious about writing.

So, let’s bring this long story to a stopping place (it’s not over until…I sing), unlike my first novel (now a four book series), which I have dubbed, “My Mona Lisa” because it may never be finished.

If we endure our critics with an attitude of learning, growing, and evolving our craft to perfection…

If we survive the praise and insincere doting of friends, co-workers, and family…

If we overcome our own insecurities and fears as well as our success before we succeed…

If we take our nightmares, our daymares (a word I learned from David Morrell), and chain them up with the power of the pen (okay…MS Word documents)…

If we imagine the descent into the valleys of doubt, frustration, discouragement, failure, and rejections as one big roller coaster ride…

If we can still see those valleys when we finally stand high on the mountain peak, spread our arms like eagle’s wings soaring through the heavens…

Then…we are writers.

Love Lucy