Animating of the Writer

“Seriously though, it’s only by drawing on his or her own life and emotions that a writer animates fiction.”

—Louisa Treger

 

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Hook Your Literary Agent

#DailyFixEA

[found on writersdigest.com]

“The 4 Components That Hook Literary Agents

1. Tell the literary agent who you are

State your name and job title, or the title of the position you’re seeking. “Hi, my name is Miranda Mechanic, and I’m a licensed automotive mechanic who writes how-to articles for women who don’t want their cars to get the best of them.”

2. Literary agents want to know what you want

Don’t beat around the bush. State what you’re after. “I’m interested in placing some of my articles with your magazine, Auto Care for Everybody.”

3. Show the literary agents why you’re the best choice

List any degrees, writing credentials, training or experience that relate to what you’re seeking. “I’ve been taking mechanical things apart since before I could walk, and I’m the owner-operator of my own body shop.” Be sure the qualifications match your stated goal. Saying you want to write an article on mechanics and then listing your degrees in early Russian literature won’t help. If you’re unable to come up with any related experience, name qualities or skills you possess, such as attention to detail, passion for the subject and so on.The key is to be brief and memorable. You’re looking for that special something that separates you from the crowd.

4. Give literary agents a call to action

You can do a great job selling yourself, but if you don’t follow through by asking for what you want, you’ve wasted your time. Take a deep breath and go for it. “I’d like to show you copies of my articles, including ‘How to Change a Tire When It’s Twenty Below Zero’ and ‘How to Add Oil When You’re Wearing a Power Suit.’ ” The call to action is what leads to further interaction. Don’t neglect this most important step.”

[found on http://www.writersdigest.com/literary-agents?et_mid=691229&rid=239481182]

 

Editor, Not Opinionator-Terminator

[by Billi Joy Carson, Senior Editor/ Editing Addict]

Editor Tip: Make Sure Your Editor Is Just That—an Editor

Recently, an author contacted me about another editor she was using, and the practices, notes, changes, and comments this editor was making. To say I was appalled, is an understatement. The author showed me notes this editor had made.

It was obvious the editor was a Opinionator-Terminator, not an editor, because she was literally in a fight with the author about OPINIONS—claiming she was right, and the author was incorrect.

The battle was not over grammar, not spelling, not punctuation, not even the functions and allowances of the Chicago Manual of Style…the arguments were forcing the author to justify why she chose to name characters what she did, and why she titled her work with that title…. She was belittling the author, and tearing apart subject matter that was irrelevant.

If an author wants their character to have an accent or lisp, then that is the author’s decision. The editor’s job is not to challenge that decision, but to make sure if the character had an accent or lisp in the beginning, they also have an accent or lisp in the end—continuity, flow, and logic.

If you are dealing with an editor who is an Opinionator-Terminator, you may feel too afraid to say anything (and fairly, saying anything to one of them may not have the outcome that you desire). This is one reason you want to have a clear and concise contract laid out before starting the editing process—know what it is you are expecting. You also need to know your rights as an author.

You—the author—are the creator and final decision-maker with your work of writing: poetry, book, short story, essay, novel, biography…. The editor is there to help you, assist you.

What should an editor change with minimal (if any) notes to the author?

[Proofread Edit]
Spelling
Grammar
Punctuation
CMS standard
 

 What are the items an editor should leave comments for the author, but shouldn’t make the changes?

[Copy Edit or Content Edit]
Logic flow
Names of characters, places, cities, families….
Plot & action
Scenes / Chapters
Scenario of suspense/humor
Ending

 

An editor should tell the author what items are or aren’t accepted in CMS standard. Those are facts, but they aren’t laws. If the author chooses to reject a change, the author’s voice and choice still reigns supreme—YES, above the CMS, above the editor, and above all.

An author can choose to reject the standard of CMS, if they feel it will alter the readability or the understanding of the project for the reader. The author makes that decision, not the editor. The editor can leave notes, but there is no reason for an editor to attack or harshly defend their points and opinions. That is not their job. Authors shouldn’t put up with it.

An editor’s job is to make sure and find the mistakes—iron out the punctuation, spelling, and grammar. It is not an editor’s job to grade the entertainment value or the subject, or to test the humor factor. That is the author’s choice and decision—they are the creators of the work.

It is okay to challenge your editor, and to disagree with them. If they don’t allow for this, then they are not an editor, they are an Opinionator-Terminator. You need to seek out and find a real editor in order to find success.

If you are looking for an editor, contact me at billijoycarson@editingaddict.com.

[by Billi Joy Carson, Senior Editor / Editing Addict

 

What Your Editor Needs From You

[by Billi Joy Carson, Senior Editor/ Editing Addict]

Editor Tip: What Your Editor Needs From You

Respect

Your editor is going to spend weeks pouring over your manuscript. She (or he) is going to eat, sleep, and breathe YOUR book. She (or he) will be correcting spelling, grammar, margins, indents, spacing (line and character), punctuation, formatting sections (for consistency), comparing character logic and plot flow… Your editor is going to be BUSY. Don’t treat them like your time is more important than theirs—or like you are their only client.

A Timeline—So They Can Schedule YOUR Book

Your editor is not a magician. She (or he) has other clients, and those clients all have deadlines too. When you know you are getting close to finishing your manuscript (not the day before you plan on handing it over to your editor), notify your editor. They need to estimate the time needed on your book, and let you know when they can do it, and then add it to their schedule.

Communication, Because Deadlines EXIST

1) Again, stop treating your editor like they can do magic. They can’t. If you missed giving your manuscript to your editor on time, several things should happen:

If at all possible (I mean, come hell or high water), stay within the deadline of when you said you would give your editor your manuscript.

As SOON as you know you are going to be late, notify your editor. Their time is valuable, and they need to schedule in another project. Remember, they blocked out time for YOU.

If you are late with your project, and you didn’t give your editor notice, you should be paying a late fee. You reserved their time, and you did not cancel it. Respect them enough to pay for the slot you scheduled.

2) Tell your editor about your deadlines.

Ideally, you should have given your editor the manuscript with time to spare, but if you need a rush on the edit, then you need to communicate this. Also, all rush edits need to have a rush-fee. You are asking your editor to SUDDENLY include your manuscript in their schedule. This means something else has to be shuffled (or possibly dropped) for you.

Complete Files

 When you send your manuscript to your editor, it should be in one file (not broken out in sections, chapters, or parts). If you change anything after your editor has started to work on your manuscript:

Most editors will require a change-fee, because they have to transpose all their notes, edits, and changes to the new document. Some editors refuse to work with any changed manuscripts, so it is best to ask in advance.

Most editors work with .doc and .docx files only. Ask your editor what he or she prefers, and then—send them what they ask for.

If you send your editor files she (or he) has to convert (e.g. .wp7 when they asked for .docx), you are taking two risks:

Possible lost information:

If your editor has to convert the files:

It means she (or he) doesn’t have the program your files are saved in. Therefore, once conversion is complete, your editor will not know if anything is missing from your manuscript.

There is also the possibility that your editor can’t convert the file, and the file will have to be returned to you. This delays your editor, and shrinks her (or his) timeline of work—because the deadlines are still the same.

Abusing your editor:

You want a loyal editor who roots for, cheers for, and fights for you. Not one who resents you every time you send them your manuscript in the wrong format. See the first item listed on this page.

A Way to Reach You

 More than likely, your editor won’t need to speak to you during the editing process. Radio silence does not mean anything is wrong, it means they are steadily working on your manuscript.

If your editor comes across something that needs to be addressed immediately, before they get too far into the book, they need to be able to reach you. Email is a good way to communicate, because they can copy/paste the questionable areas for you to read, and give them feedback (e.g. your editor may discover that your main character’s name changed in spelling, but you intended a plot-twist, and need your character’s name to change; you want them to check with you before correcting all the names throughout the book).

Both communication and respect assure success; they also enable teamwork to grow and thrive between you and your editor—who is on YOUR TEAM, and desires to be there. She (or he) hopes you succeed, and is excited to be along for the journey. Your editor is dedicated to helping you grow, and cares that you keep learning how to be an amazing author.

Help your editor to help you. Teamwork brings success!

[by Billi Joy Carson, Senior Editor / Editing Addict

 

Audience-Shmaudience—Write What YOU Love

[by Billi Joy Carson, Senior Editor/ Editing Addict]

Editor Tip: Write What YOU Love

 

It’s true that writers need to write to an audience. But the process is not a game of Pin the Tail on the Donkey.  As a writer, you do NOT need to find the audience you think is best worthy, and then force yourself to write for them.

 

Write what you love, and find the audience that loves to read what you write.

 

When C. S. Lewis was asked about his books, The Chronicles of Narnia, and whether he wrote specifically so children would read them, he answered:

 

“I am almost inclined to set it up as a canon that a children’s story which is enjoyed only by children is a bad children’s story. The good ones last. A waltz which you can like only when you are waltzing is a bad waltz.” 

 

Lewis wrote what he loved; he didn’t morph his writing so it would be read and liked by his audience. He found the audience that would cherish his writing. Children love his books; adults do too. Why? Because C. S. Lewis poured passion through the pages of his books—a love that is obvious, and not forced, a contagion of enthusiasm that inspires generations, young and old, to pick up his books and read again.

Know your audience, don’t choose your audience; your audience has chosen you. Write what you know, write what you love, and write what the world will want to read again and again.

[by Billi Joy Carson, Senior Editor / Editing Addict

 

How to Organize and Develop Your Writing Ideas

 Guest Blog by J. D. Scott

 

You may have had ideas come to you in a flood, or you may labor over them until they’re fully delivered, but they all have one thing in common: they need to be developed into literature. So let’s go over some techniques to help you make the transition from a great idea into a great piece of writing!

ORGANIZING YOUR IDEAS:

  • Do you have a lot of creative ideas for writing?
  • Have you thought of more than you have time to develop?
  • So what do you do with them all?

~ Write them down: An outline or a paragraph for the more complicated ideas, or a sentence describing the simpler ones, will help you retain your thoughts later.

~ Keep them organized: Index cards, filing cabinet, files on your computer, a binder. If you have multiple categories, you may want to divide them by color-coding the subject files.

~ Choose a subject: Now you have to pick! Consider the big ideas first. You may be able to combine a few into one story, but too many will confuse your reader. More is not always better! Consider your target audience, and focus in on that one idea. I would not recommend starting several writing projects at once. You could bounce from story to story, never finishing anything—or worse, get discouraged and give up all together.

DEVELOPING YOUR IDEA:

Now that you have your idea, it’s time to get writing! But how can this small seed develop into a thriving story? Here are some ideas…

Find a Writers Group: In person, or online.

Talk it out: One of the best ways I’ve found to develop a story is to talk it over, then talk it over again, and then some more! Have lunch with a friend or spouse, and share your ideas with them. Call another writer; you could be a sounding board for each other’s work. Using a tape or digital recorder can also be helpful. The idea is that sometimes listening to your thoughts out loud can be enough to get you moving forward in your plot.

Try Visualization: Play your story out in your mind like a movie. This is a powerful and creative processing tool. Picture your characters—what they look like, the environment they’re in, and what your senses are hearing, seeing, touching, smelling, and tasting. If you can picture it, it will be much easier to write. Photographs that represent settings or characters that you’re working on can also inspire you.

Sketch or Doodle: Even if you don’t consider yourself an artist, this can be very helpful. You could draw anything from a character, a setting, such as a castle or house, or even an aerial view of the land your work is set in. They don’t have to be worthy of publication; they’re simply to help you “see” your story better.

Charts and Graphs: This could come in many forms, from: a family tree showing genealogy, a timeline with a sequence of events, a chart with the climactic moments of your story, or a graph of your characters’s personality traits. The point is, it has to make sense to you and help your writing to move forward.

Storyboarding: This is simply using still pictures (photographs or drawings) to tell a story. Screenwriters and cartoonists commonly storyboard, however, it can be a very effective tool to lay out the storyline of a book. This could also be done in small sections on a dry-erase board. You don’t have to be great at sketching; you are simply creating images that are significant to you, or using words or word groups to keep track of where you are in your story. Including character descriptions, geology, dialog, or location can also be helpful.

Puzzle-making: This method consists of writing down storylines on strips of paper so that you can shuffle events around until you’re happy with the sequence. It can also be used to arrange a family tree, show relationships between characters, or just to keep track of your ideas. This can be time-consuming, however, it’s a great way to show the flexibility in your plot.

In writing, the hardest obstacle to overcome by far—is SITTING DOWN AND DOING IT! Our lives are busy, and we have many demands on our time, but if you are able to carve out a time each day—or even a couple times through the week—you will be pleasantly surprised with the outcome. I hope these ideas have been helpful to you, and have sparked your creativity.

 

Meet our Guest Blogger, J. D. Scott:

 

1398565_625686540810471_203956950_oJ. D. Scott is the organizing member of Abba’s Writers in Phoenix, Arizona. She leads, instructs, and teaches critiquing and story development to its members.

In 2013, J. D. Scott became part of the team at A Book’s Mind as a Publishing Consultant. She enjoys working alongside writers, helping them fulfill their dreams of becoming published authors.

Before being bit by the writing bug, J. D. Scott spent 20 years working with children as a nanny, mentor, camp counselor, and youth-group leader. With a heart for today’s youth, she set out to write books that both entertain and inspire them to rise above the current culture and see their true value.

She continues to live out her life’s passions of writing, publishing, and counseling/mentoring women and children.

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[See what J. D. Scott had to say about our editor!]

 

Market the Author

[by Billi Joy Carson, Senior Editor/ Editing Addict]

Editor Tip: Market the Author

If you are an author, a blogger, or a copywriter…then correct spelling, punctuation, word use, and grammar is a necessity in all areas of your writing…books, blogs, marketing, advertisements, social media, queries, submissions, letters, and emails.

Why…?

I can hear the horrified gasps, feel the eyes rolling—doubt and fear from writers everywhere. Panic in the streets.

Before you throw your hands up, and stop reading, let’s look at the WHY behind this necessity.

 

You are always marketing YOU.

 

Your books come and go, but you, the author, remain constant. You are the first line of defense when it comes to marketing yourself—which you are doing every day, every time you write…anything.

You are marketing not only to readers, but to publishers, agents, editors, and your fellow authors who would network with you. You are marketing your writing ability—yes—but you are ALSO marketing your organization capabilities, your attention to details, your desire for accuracy….

What if you don’t care about details and accuracy? Publishers do.

Publishers, editors, and agents notice. In this world of instant access, through social media and blogs, your everyday comments and posts are seen.


If an author can’t be trusted to use the right word in 140 characters, why would they trust the author with a 300-page book?

 

Agents, editors, and publishers (oh my!) have deadlines. Organization is a big part of that. Make it appear you are organized—even if you have to fake it.

Here are some excellent tools to keep close to you, always. I suggest bookmarking them, as well as storing them on your smart phones and tablets—wherever you write, post, and email.

OneLook.com

  • Dictionary compilation of over 1000 dictionaries
  • Correct spelling not needed
    • It offers options for word spelling
    • Shows several dictionaries, with links.
  • Breaks search answers into four categories
    • General
    • Business (language)
    • Computing (language)
    • Slang*
      • *Words that haven’t made it into traditional dictionaries will show up here.
      • *Caution: When writing items for publishing (versus informal social media, emails…), only use a Chicago Manual of Style approved dictionary, like Merriam-Webster.

Other dictionaries:

Thesaurus:

Grammar:

  • Grammarly.com (not CMS approved, but still a great tool)
    • Copy/paste text in box—it shows grammar errors and weaknesses
  • Guide to Grammar & Writing
    • Quick lookup for parts of speech, word use, and grammar rules

Style Guides:

 

Questions for the editor to answer next time:

[by Billi Joy Carson, Senior Editor / Editing Addict

 

Bound by Fear

 Guest Blog by H. Squires

 

I am a writer, an author, and storyteller. It took me a long time before I could utter those words either on paper or in conversation. I was bound by fear—afraid of being judged, ridiculed, laughed at, or simply disregarded. My voice climbed only as high as the paper stacked.

From the time I was a child, I enjoyed writing. Rarely, did I share my work with others—or even let people know my love of words. I only allowed family members to read my stories.

After I wrote my first novel, I fantasized about being published—which actor(s) could star in the movie, and the potential revenue it could generate—but I didn’t spend too much time in “La-la-land”. Instead, I got busy writing the second novel, and by the third, I felt my work should be published. I was ready to share it with the world. However, I wasn’t sure if it was good enough to move forward.

I knew my husband and daughters enjoyed the stories, but I felt their opinions were biased. After all, they were my family. I needed others to give me their honest opinions. I had many unanswered questions pertaining to grammar, continuity, and the lack of clarity when it came to editing. Even though I considered myself [somewhat] good at grammar, I wasn’t sure if I remembered everything from school. Does the story make sense, flow right, and keep the reader engaged? You can do only so much research from the privacy of your home. I needed help—actual, human, face-to-face support.

One of the first things I did was join a writing group. It was an all-women’s group, so the tension seemed less nerve-racking. The group meets three times a month—one of which is a teaching class on grammar and other helpful tips. The second meeting, we are instructed to read our latest work out loud to the others. This was the most difficult thing I’ve had to do in a long while. Reading to a bunch of strangers—a story that I concocted—sent me into a shaking-fit, so much so that I decided to hand my pages to another lady to read for me. I was astonished by all the positive feedback, something I hadn’t expected. They helped, reassured, and gave me honest advice. It propelled me farther.

Last year, I accomplished my goal. My third novel was published, and, for the first time, people were reading my work. It made me realize that others struggle with the very same issues as I did—not willing to share their stories. Some people are satisfied letting close friends and family read their work. For example, Emily Dickinson—a world-renowned poet—wasn’t discovered until after her death. Her younger sister found a lifetime of collective poems in Emily’s attic. Later, she sought the publication for her sister’s work. Imagine how different Emily’s life could have been if she had become published?

If you are a writer and have written poetry, short stories, or novels that serve as dust-bunny habitats, it’s time to consider sharing beyond family. Trust me, I know how hard it is, like bearing your soul to the world. Research local writing groups or go to online writer’s forums. You will get a lot of advice, constructiveness, and learn a lot. Who knows, you could be considered as the next Hemingway, Rowling, or Dickens?

Take care, my friends.

How to Find a Writer’s Group
Online Writer’s Community


Meet our Guest Blogger, H. Squires:

 

image

Heather Squires’ life calling to be an author began in 1989 in Phoenix, Arizona. As an editorial writer on staff at the Utopian Newspaper, she decided to seek further review and publishing. The first project to be completed outside of the journaling world was To Desecrate Man, an action novel; completed in 2005, it became over shadowed by the second project: Rogue, a young adult fiction-adventure novel.

Upon completion of Rogue in 2009, Squires’ place in the young adult fiction world became clear. The Sphere of Archimedes began to take shape, and was finished in 2011. Currently working on the sequel, The Omphalos of Delphi, she continues to create anticipation for the future of young adult fiction.

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[See what H. Squires had to say about our editor!]

 

Highlight to Success

[by Billi Joy Carson, Senior Editor/ Editing Addict]

Editor Tip: Highlight to Success

Every writer—no matter how strong a wordsmith—has at least one crutch word. To the author, the words remain hidden, and unseen, but to the reader, the words become machine-gun weapon rounds every time they read them.

The words are different for each author, just as style and genre differ. The impact of the words on the readers, however, remains the same. The more crutch words you have, the greater the possibility you will lose your readership. The pain of hitting word after word after word becomes greater than the desire to keep reading.

Have you noticed the number of times a variation of word has been used in these two paragraphs? Ten times in a ninety-five word count. A deft killer of writing, hiding in plain sight. Crutch words.

What are the most popular crutch words?

They are the small ones. Innocuous. Overlooked in read-throughs, and missed in proofing: and, had, that, my, he, she, it, her, him, said, looked, saw, turned, smiled, be, is, was, were, been.

Steps to becoming crutch-free:

1. Search [Edit/Find All] your manuscript for each crutch word listed above. You might be surprised how many times they pop up in your book.

2. Highlight all occurrences of the word you’re searching for (e.g. that)

a. How many highlights are clustered together?

b. If you feel annoyed seeing all the highlights…

(1) …guess how your readers feel?

(2) Time to fix it.

3. Rework the areas where the highlights show up clustered together

a. Many can simply be deleted without changing the meaning

(1) The man that was sitting at the table, told her that she was beautiful.

(2) The man, sitting at the table, told her she was beautiful.

b. Some can be reworded, or reordered, to strengthen the writing.

First paragraphs with highlight method:

Every writer—no matter how strong a wordsmith—has at least one crutch word. To the author, the words remain hidden, and unseen, but to the reader, the words become machine-gun weapon rounds every time they read them.

The words are different for each author, just as style and genre differ. The impact of the words on the readers, however, remains the same. The more crutch words you have, the greater the possibility you will lose your readership. The pain of hitting word after word after word becomes greater than the desire to keep reading.

First paragraphs reworded:

Every writer—no matter how strong a wordsmith—has at least one crutch word. To the author, it remains hidden, and unseen, but to the reader, the writing becomes machine-gun weapon rounds every time they read them.

The weaknesses are different for each author, just as style and genre differ. The impact on the readers, however, remains the same. The more crutches you have, the greater the possibility you will lose your readership. The pain of hitting word after word becomes greater than the desire to keep reading.

Once you master this, you will keep your writing alive, and retain your readership. It’s a tedious task the first two or three times, but it will eventually be second nature to you.

Questions for the editor to answer next time:

[by Billi Joy Carson, Senior Editor / Editing Addict