This Writers Life:You know you’re a writer when…

20121101091032-you-know-you-re-a-writer-whenYou know you’re a writer when… You are sitting in a waiting room because your teenager needs a sports physical before school starts and you’re people watching for facial expressions and mannerisms to use for your characters.

You know you’re a writer when… You’re back to school shopping and you’re mentally mapping out the store as a place in your fictional world you’re working on.

You know you’re a writer when… Your teen rolls her eyes at you and storms off and you take note of how her hair moves, the sound she makes as she moves away, the expressions of others around you, all so you can use it in a scene.

Around here we are gearing up for back to school. Which means running around, shopping, and exhaustion. It means going to about fifty different stores because you have four kids to buy for and you take them all separately. It means, people watching and using everything you see, hear, smell, touch as inspiration and research for your current work in progress.

That has been me this week. This will also be me next week, and the week after, until school starts.

What really drove this post though was the waiting in the doctors office. I caught myself looking around, mentally taking notes of everyone around us. How they were sitting, what their body language was saying about them, their facial expressions, and even how they spoke to each other and the ladies behind the front desk. All of it.

It was kind of surreal. I mean, I have never actually caught myself doing it, it was always something I just, did. But this time, I caught myself because I was focused on my daughter and she looked up at me, gave me a face and asked “WHAT?” That’s when I realized what I was doing.

I just kind of smirked and shook my head at her and looked away. Not really ready to explain what I was just doing. Knowing it would make her feel uncomfortable as she was the focus of the moment. Though, since I know she does read this blog, I’m going to say “Sorry!”

It’s in those moments, when you catch yourself doing something as habit, something you never have really thought about or taken notice of, when you realize “Hey, I’m a… (in my case) Writer. So this is not weird.” To the writer at least.

It’s those moments that make me smile. That make my heart soar. That make me feel giddy. Those moments where something that once felt like I would never remember to do this thing, is suddenly a habit that you don’t even realize you’re doing it. It comes naturally all of a sudden.

And, You know you’re a writer when… You finally, after years, say I am a writer.

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Wednesday Writing Tips: 5 Reasons you should be Free Writing!

Wednesday Writing Tips free writing

As writers, and people in general, we have so much technology available to us. We have apps, programs, websites, all aimed at helping us along. We are constantly bombarded by: You should be doing it like this, Don’t do this, This thing over here is better. But all of that technology doesn’t replace something very important, pen and paper.

Here are 5 reasons you should start (or consider) free writing.

  1. It can help you work through a writer’s block. Seriously. When you sit down with nothing more than pen and paper, no internet to distract you, and just start writing you would be amazed at what will come out.
  1. You will find new ideas. You don’t have to use free writing just to work through blocks. You should be doing it as a habit. Not necessarily free writing your current work in progress, just whatever jumps into your head at that moment. You could write a scene, a short story, anything. While it may not be what you’re currently working on, you could find a new idea for your next project. After you finish your current one of course.
  1. It’s just plain fun. No really. Do you remember being a kid and just sitting down and writing a story, with no end in mind, no goals for that story other than to write it, no advanced planning. If you’re anything like me, you do. I did this as a kid, and now, I can’t remember why I ever stopped. Oh, right, computers. Free writing helps to bring you back to a time when writing was fun for you, to help stir the passion you hold for it, and remember why you started writing in the first place.
  1. You can find new characters through free writing. When you’re working on your current project, you’re focused, dialed in to that story those characters. But when you’re free writing, you can find many new characters, new personalities, interesting traits you may have not thought of before. No matter if you use them in your current project or not, they can be saved to use later.
  1. It’s exercise for your imagination. Don’t think about all the writing rules you’ve learned, don’t think about publication, don’t think about anything other than what you’re writing in that notebook and let your imagination soar. As writers we sometimes lock ourselves into the worlds we’ve created and can’t see past them. Free writing let’s your imagination roam. By unplugging yourself from the distraction that is the internet, you are freer to write whatever, and however you please. Free writing is for you, and you alone.

 

So there you have it. 5 reasons you should be free writing. Can you think of anymore reasons? Do you free write? Why or why not? I’d love to hear it!

Monday Motivation and Humor

This is starting to become one of my favorite days. Sharing the funny or motivational images on reading or writing I found throughout the week before. Really, I look forward to it.

I hope you all find it amusing as well.

Sometimes, if I’m stuck writing, or on my lunch break, I look up funny memes for reading and writing, as well as motivational ones. I started doing this just to release stress and laugh, because let’s face it, that’s essential.

But now I get to share what I laugh at with you all, and that makes it even better.

So here are the ones I found last week.

This Writers Life: Grateful for the little things.

what-are-you-grateful-forSo, last weekend I purchased a new laptop, and I love it. In fact, I am writing this blog post on said laptop from the comfort of my bed. Not that this will be a common occurrence, but that it’s a possibility, I’m grateful.

You see, I work from home. For my day job. The thing that pays the bills and keeps a roof over my head. I have my own in home office and have it all set up for that job. I wake up, go into that office, and work until late into the evening.

That job is not exactly great for creativity. When I am working in there I have found that it is hard for me to switch my brain over from day job, to creative it’s time to write mode. This was becoming a problem. To the point that I didn’t even want to write in there anymore. While in that office, all I thought about was day job work, stress, day job emails, etc. Not the best place to focus on my writing.

So buying this laptop, while a little thing, opens up so many possibilities for me. It will allow me to physically leave the office, and still work on my writing. It will allow me to have one central location for my research, drafts, images, etc. Without it being bunched in with work stuff. It will also allow for an automatic brain shift. You see, this laptop will only be used for writing, either for the blog or my current work in progress. So when I open it up and turn it on, my focus is solely on writing and nothing else.

This excites me. I have felt so hampered and distracted in the office as I always found myself drifting back to work stuff, even after I was done for the day. On Sunday I turned on the laptop and set everything up. Switched everything that related to writing from the office computer to this laptop. I immediately felt freer. I am now free to work on nothing but work stuff while in the office, without thinking about writing, and free to work on nothing but writing and writing related things without thinking about work stuff.

It’s a little thing, but it’s those little things I am grateful for. Just this small, seemingly inconsequential thing, has opened up so much for me. It’s amazing what a small item can do to shift the way you think about things and how you work.

So how about you? What are you grateful for today?

Wednesday Writing Tips: 6 Tips when Querying your Novel!

Wednesday Writing Tips query

So last week I came across a question from another new writer in one of the writing groups I’m a member of. It was the basic same question all authors have, is it time to query, and how do I do it? So, I chimed in with my advice. I’m sharing that same advice here, since not everyone on the web is a part of that group.

Starting the query process can be daunting, stressful, and just down right scary sometimes. It’s why us writers agonize and research how to do it correctly.

  • How do you know when to start querying?
  • When you are ready to start querying, how do you go about starting?
  • What should I keep in mind while I query, and what should I avoid?

These are all common questions when you start querying for the first time. So much so, that if you google the questions, you will come up with thousands of results. Since it is a widely asked topic, there can never be too much advice, but you do need to learn what to take in, what to consider, and what to leave on the webpage.

Here are my tips when you find that you are ready to query. I am going to paste my exact response to the other writer, while adding a few things I thought of after I had posted it. (Of course, I removed the authors name for privacy.)

Note on the response below: The new author had asked very specific questions, however, they had not finished editing their current novel and they were still in the revision phase. They were wondering if they could start querying since they have finished editing the first chapter. Read on to see how these questions were addressed.

 

Hi [New Author],

You have some great questions. Here is my opinion. Are you 100% certain you are done editing and revising the first 50 pages? Sometimes Agents also request partials if they are interested, and sometimes they request the first 5 chapters for query. Are you positive that you have finished editing and revising the sample no matter what the agents query guidelines are? If you are not, you wouldn’t want to send something you may edit further. Make sure it is 100% done before you query. Now, on to your questions:

1. What is the typical response time after you query?
The typical response time can be anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 months, if you get a response at all. I know this is a broad range, but keep in mind, Agents receive hundreds to thousands of queries a day.

2. Who should I approach to query?
As far as who to approach, you can look here:http://agentquery.com/Do an agent search for your genre, read through their guidelines, what they represent, and what they are looking for. This will help you decide who you think is the best fit for your work. Added: You can also follow #MSWL on twitter as they list what agents are currently looking for as well. Or you can find them online at http://www.manuscriptwishlist.com/ and do an agent search.

3. Can I resubmit to an agency if I don’t hear back?
For resubmitting to the same agency, make sure you read their guidelines first. Some allow it after so much time has passed, some do not. Some may even ask you to if you make substantial changes. Again, read their guidelines if you find you want to resubmit to an agency. But never, never, submit to multiple agents at the same agency. A lot of them do not allow this and will immediately reject your query if they find it has happened. Now, if so much time has passed, some may allow you to query a different agent within the agency if you do not hear back from the one you originally submitted to, some absolutely do not. Again, refer to their guidelines.

4. If I receive a rejection to my query, is that agency closed to me for good?
If you query now, and it is rejected, it does not necessarily mean that door is closed forever. Just for right now. Move on down the list. If, after you have queried every agent that represents your type of work (allowing for response time, and maybe 5-10 with each rounds of submission) you either get no responses or all rejections, look back at your work. You will have to decide to revise it, change it, or let it sit for a while and start a new project. If you revise and change it, then you can resubmit based on the agencies guidelines. But make sure you put in your query that you have queried before and this new query is based on substantial changes you’ve made to the story.

5. Can I query more than one story at a time?
You can query more than one story at a time, but that would be nerve wracking to me. But know, do not send more than one query at a time to the same agent or agency, no matter if it is a different story.

6. How do I craft a query letter?
For the query letter itself, check out here:http://queryshark.blogspot.com/Query Shark is an active agent who shreds queries for the good of the authors. She teaches what to and what not to do. Read them all. I’m not kidding, read them all. You will learn a lot on how to craft a query letter and what most agents are looking for in a query.

Hope this is helpful – A.G.

 

So there you have it. My tips for querying your story. Do you have any to add? Tips you came across when you were researching querying? I would love to hear them.

Monday Motivation & Humor

Good Monday Morning! It’s that time again. To wake up, jump out of bed, and skip off to the start of your day. No? Not that?

Well, if you’re feeling groggy, uninspired, or just in need of something to make you laugh, I hope the images below do just that.

Here are my Monday Motivation and Humor images for the writer and reader this week:

 

This Writers Life: A week in review

A week in reviewSo much has happened in just a week since my last life post.

First, the new bedroom set we had ordered was delivered. I’m in love. Seriously, I never find myself wanting to get out of bed or leave my new room. It’s gorgeous. But, as is life, I have to. But I love ending my day laying in that new bed with a great book.

Second, while last week we said good-bye to the kids for the month and I was sad, thinking I’d be alone in this house for a month, we found ourselves with additional house guests.

A couple friends of ours will be staying with us for the rest of the month. Which means this house won’t be so quiet and I won’t lose my mind, having people to talk to. Which, to me, is a good thing.

And Third, but certainly not least, I have an idea for another story. A Fantasy. One that has grabbed hold of me and is refusing to let go.

A few weeks back I lost everything I had been working on. I wrote a post about it. You can read it here. I was beyond consolable. But, I had determined to write both WIPs all over again. Telling myself what came out would be better than what had been there before.

Well, that may have been true, but I wasn’t in love with it. The story wasn’t ringing true, and I found myself more and more hitting walls and snags in the story. Perhaps it had been a sign. That I wasn’t meant to finish them right now. They weren’t the right one’s to be working on right then.

Then, along came this new story idea. One where the Protagonist wandered into my head and started screaming, demanding to be heard. I saw the whole thing like a movie in my head as the story unfolded.

I felt butterflies and excitement fly through my stomach, my heart soared, and I grabbed my notebook and pencil. Writing as fast as my fingers would let me. Trying to get it all down. Everything she said.

I have never been as excited about a story as I am about this one. I have never seen a story as clearly as I see this one. I have never written an outline and background for a story as fast as I wrote this one.

To me, that is a sign.

So, for now, I am moving on to this story. There is this feeling, this urge, this desperate need to tell this story. I still have the other two, and I can return to them. Maybe with fresher eyes when the pain of what happened has lessened.

How about you? Have you ever had a story grab hold of you and refuse to let go until it’s told?