Writer Wednesday – Writing tools I use

So I’ve prepped a bit for Camp NaNo and getting The Alchemists of Archangel completed.

Some authors Love Scrivener and there are some wonderful features, that can be very helpful when developing characters, plot lines, timelines for series, etc.  I actually debated purchasing it, but have opted to use Google Keep in conjunction with Google Docs and Word.

I find myself looking back at tools I’ve used in the past.    Here are some tools I use during my rough draft phase:

  1. Cherry Adair’s – Plotting with Post its.   I admit I loved this when I learned it, but I still found it daunting.  The Pantser in me fought it, hard.  I still use a form of it today in Google Keep.
  2. My friend Arden uses an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of Character Profiles and Plot devices, Chapters, etc.   It is daunting.  And I admit I never mastered it the way she did.   Bob Mayer uses an Excel Method as well.
  3. Google Keep – So this is where I use a bit of Cherry’s technique and start mixing in my own blend of stuff (research, worldbuilding, character profiles, setting, and plot)
  4. Source Sheet – I keep a word doc of where I find all my research for the novel.  I also include worldbuilding notes in here.  My outline may not survive the process but this almost always does.  I usually turn in a copy with my manuscript when I begin the editing process, to help the copy editors.
  5. Sex in Romance Website – I don’t use this as much as I used to but it is still a great place when you want variety in your manuscript during a love scene.
  6.  Word Counter – I got this idea from Allie Pleiter’s Chunky Writing Method.   She has some freebie’s on her website for this.  Basically, you are counting words whenever you work on your ms.   I made some modifications to mine. 🙂
  7. Pinterest – Before Google Keep I would create character profiles for my stories.  I actually found looking at pictures beneficial to driving my description of clothes and setting.  Once my book is published, I’ll make the pages private.  The Courtesan of Constantinople is the first book I did this with so Y’all will have to wait. 🙂
  8. Pandora – I love listening to music without words when I’m writing.  Usually, I pick a channel based on the mood of the scene.   I’m sure part of this has to due with the fact that I learned to type to music in school.   Nothing like typing words to the William Tell Overture.

And I haven’t even started on the Reference Books I use regularly…

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The Wait is the hardest part

still-waiting-for-responseSo I’ve finally started submitting The Courtesan of Constantinople to Publishers.  I’d spent six months looking for an Agent and didn’t get feedback – positive or negative steering me in a direction that required changes to the manuscript.

I got a lot of letters saying, “I like this and that, but don’t feel I’m right for this project.”  So started to wonder if I missed the boat on Steampunk.   Hard to say.    I did a couple Twitter parties and nothing there either.

While I submitted to Agents 5-10 at a time.  I was doing large batch by January. 🙂   For Publishers, I only do about 3 at a time.   I don’t expect to hear back from any of them until May. Because they are larger houses I may not hear back at all. I think I’ve been spoiled by the almost instant responses of small presses  🙂

In the meantime, I’ll work on Alchemists of Archangel and maybe Ryder Hard if I get blocked, just to keep moving.  Also, I have this book about writing I want to do, so plenty to keep me busy while I hurry up and wait.

Writer Wednesday – Put a Fork in my novel, I’m done.

when-im-done-im-done-and-today-is-the-day-i-have-made-that-decision-bc8b7There comes a time when you have to quit editing and declare a project done.  Move on to the next one.  I’ve reached that point with Courtesan.

I’ve done all I can with the novel.

I’ve layered and cut producing a novel of 54,333 words.

Does it mean there aren’t corrections to make?  Of Course not but I need another set of eyes at this point.  I’ve asked for some BETA help, to get that big picture feel, but I can’t continue edits without wrecking voice.

The good news.  This is ready to get looked at by an agent or editor.  In my opinion, any changes that need to be made will be to satisfy the readership, not me.  And that’s okay, I’m used to working with editors to make appropriate changes.    That’s part of meeting reader expectation.

Now its time to move on to Book 2: The Alchemists of Archangel.

Hopefully, The Courtesan of Constantinople doesn’t sit too long on my virtual shelf, trying to find a home.~Tina

 

 

AuThursday – Caroline Walken

How I make time to write

With little time during the week to write, you will find me camped out on my laptop from Friday evening until Sunday.  During the week, I may take the time to edit a chapter or work on flash fiction.

Additionally, I write the bulk of my novels during the winter, I hate the cold!  You won’t find me playing in the snow, I would much rather be cozied up to my characters!

 Writer’s block

I don’t know if we suffer from writer’s block or that like any form of work we become bored.  Creating a full-fledged novel may take you over a year.  It is easy to understand why we run out of things to write!  This is one reason I have started working on flash fiction, entering writing contests and similar exercises like these.  This keeps writing fresh for me, it challenges me and each time I learn more about the craft. 

 When I do have the opportunity to delve into my WIP then I feel refreshed and eager. 

 My Genre

I write fiction/romance and put the emphasis on fiction.  I like female characters that are strong and feisty!  I grew tired of reading about characters that relied on the male counterparts for the solution.  My girls will keep any man on their toes.

I do have a passion for the Roaring Twenties and the Gangster age of the Thirties.  My current WIP and two other books are set in that era.  I enjoy researching real places or crimes and weave them into the story.  It is just such an exciting time and let’s face it, we all enjoy a bad boy! 

Publishing

I am an indie author and currently publish through Amazon.  Similar to others, I queried traditional publishers and agents but at the time, the market struggled since Amazon had just come on strongly.  In the end, it came down to wanting to share my stories so alas, I went alone.

 I believe in time, this will even out and traditional publishing will come to appreciate what we as Indies have learned in our craft.

 Introvert/Extrovert

I am an extrovert, in addition to writing, I show horses and I work as a consultant in a field other than writing. 

 Motivational phrase

“You learn more from you failures than from your successes.”

Advice to aspiring writers

My advice to aspiring writers is to invest in yourself, reserve your time for writing and improving in the art of storytelling. 

 Invest in a good editor; there is a variety available for all price points.  No matter how well you comb your manuscript, it is like your child; you won’t see its faults. 

 If you work more than an hour to format your manuscript or work on a cover, find a resource to help you.  Writing should be your priority; you can quickly find assistance for these basic tasks and do so very affordably.

 Lastly, know that everyone gets a bad review, and yes, it will feel like a knife through the heart.  Take away any useful information there is and grow from it.  After that never read it again! 

 Links

Amazon Link

https://www.amazon.com/author/carolinewalken

Facebook Link

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100014819192480

Goodreads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16623832.Caroline_Walken

WordPress–

https://authorcarolinewalken.wordpress.com/

Twitter— 

https://twitter.com/caroline_walken

Join me on Saturday when we read an excerpt from Caroline’s book “From Nowhere on the Map”~Tina

Writer Wednesday – A few of my favorite things

A lot of writers get asked what kind of tools they use when writing and editing.  Here are a few of mine:

Books

The Romance Writer’s Phrase book by Jean Kent and Candice Shelton – It’s a handy little phrase book, used for tag lines, body language, etc.

A more updated version would be The Emotional Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi.   I use these books when I’m in the layer process of my book.   I used to use them during the rough draft, but found I got too bogged down with particulars rather than just writing the damn book.

The Novel Writer’s Toolkit by Bob Mayer – I have an old copy of this, but found it useful for understanding aspects of the business like Sell-thrus and royalties.   I believe he has an updated version.

And of course I have a Thesaurus, Dictionary and Two Style Guides.

Online Tools

Pinterest – I use Pinterest to store a lot of my pictures for characters, setting, clothes, etc.   Of course you can totally get lost on there.

First Draught – I have to give a shout-out to these ladies, because they cover a range of topics and they talk about everything from craft to publishing.  I love their Vlog!

Jenna Moreci – Jenna is a YA Indie Writer and she has this Vlog where her topics are humorous and based on her writing experience.   I highly recommend this if you are exploring Self-publishing or are a YA writer.

Google Keep  – I sort of stumbled across this recently and use it in place of Scrivener.    I make up all these little notes on characters, settings and scenes I need to write and then I can have it on the side of my Google Doc.   I’m sort of envious of Scrivener, but the feature I was really wanting was to replace my post-it plotting system that I learned from Cherry Adair.

Last week I covered the importance of finding your tribe, and of course my tribes are some of my favorite things.

~Tina

 

 

 

Writer Wednesday – The importance of options

Since starting my Agent Quest at the beginning of September, I’ve sent out 11 queries and received 5 rejections and 1 No response (although the website said if I don’t hear from them in 3 weeks, it was considered a pass).   I’ve only had one agent request a partial, all others have been rejected simply on Query or the first few pages. I currently have 5 queries out there and am prepping another letter to send off, as I like to have 6 queries out at once, since this is a time-consuming process. 

I admit I wish I was getting more feedback, like “we aren’t searching for a Steampunk Romance”, or “No one is looking for this,” or “You’re writing needs work specifically in these areas.”   Unfortunately most have simply been, “we are going to pass on this project.”   

“Why?  Why are you passing?” I wonder. 

Last week, I talked about my looking for Beta Readers and this is why.  So I can find out if its something in my writing that isn’t working.   My concern is that the writing is fine, and I’ve missed the market on Steampunk.  If that’s the case, even if I decide to go direct to the publishers, I may have a difficult time finding a home for this manuscript.   It makes me question if I should write something saleable for NaNoWriMo or work on the next book in this Steampunk series.   

I have been researching Indie publishing for the very concerns I listed above regarding the market for Steampunk.  I personally love the genre mixed with romance and feel there aren’t enough books, but maybe I’m in the minority on this one.  Although by all accounts, this seems to be a loyal fan base if you get “it” right, and there is a significant amount of self-published (indie) books in the genre.  I feel if I did go the self-published (Indie) route that I’d at least have a chance to succeed (or fail) based on readers. 

But I digress as this post was about Options.   Even though this process has been long and tiresome, I do still have a good portion of my agent list to work through and then after that my editor list.  I’ve decided to give my agent search until January and then I’ll be querying publishers directly.  That list is pretty long too. 

To give myself options when I go to find either an agent or publisher I make an excel spreadsheet of what they are looking for and what is important to me, so I can expedite the list, so really when I can the rejection I’m not so dejected. 

I admit my experience with publishers (especially digital presses) is that they know exactly what they want and the turn around on query, and usually the manuscript is much faster.   Many publishers now take the full manuscript so there is very little waiting.  

Well I should write that next query letter, so I can hurry up and wait. 🙂 

~Tina

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writer Wednesday – Rejection

I got my first rejection from an agent last week.  Less than 24 hours after I sent my query.

Was I surprised?  Yes and No.   Yes that it was so quick, and No that it happened.   It was a form letter and I likely received for one of two reasons:

  1. The agent is not  acquiring new authors
  2.  My packet wasn’t proper.   And my packet was incomplete…I noticed after I hit send.

I can not stress the importance of following the rules when agents and publishers lay them out for you.   In my case the agency wanted the first 5 pages and I misread it to be query letter only.    Now was I rejected for not following the rules, possibly.  I’ll never truly know, but I guarantee I always wonder.

Some of you may think this is nitpicky on the publisher’s or agency’s part, and maybe it appears that way.  But the rules are an indicator of what will maximize an agent or editors time.   And truthfully if my query sang all on its own, perhaps I would’ve received a gentle reminder about the missing pages.  Or I stated my query well enough that they knew a Stempunk Romance was not on their #MSWL.

Unfortunately for me, at this agency, a rejection from one agent is a rejection from all.  It is too bad, as the agency represented many authors I love and respect.  Sigh.

There are more agents ahead, and I assure you I will be diliegent in following the rules going forward.   🙂

~Tina