Bacon, Camping, and Waking Up – Jim Gaffigan

“I love waking up and realizing you have another hour to sleep, its like finding a thousand dollars!”

I’d like to take a brake from my usual posts and give a little comedy to start this weekend. I know most of you are taking time off this holiday (if you are from the states), have fun.

Write on. May the weekend begin!

Cheers,

Bob

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Use Your Writing Talents To Better The World

Writing is for the writer. Albeit writing could also be for ones family (providing a small bit of money), but most would agree their spouses or children do not get much out of writing besides perhaps a saner you.

I believe no matter what you are good at, you should use that talent or gift for the better of others and the world.

Here are a few ways you can enrich not only you but also the world around you through writing. If you can think of more ways please post below.

  • Write an article or blog for a non profit you believe in at no charge.
  • Write thank you notes. Not exactly a riveting idea, but stop and think for a moment. When is the last time you said thank you in a profound way?
  • Write a note of encouragement to someone who is struggling to let them know you are thinking of them or praying for them. Not some cheesy half-hearted attempt, use your creative mind!

Writing is competitive and for the individual. Stop for a moment today to use it for someone else.

Cheers,

Bob

All About Publishing

Recently, I have explored many topics regarding publishing on my blog. I am an amateur next to my friends Josh and Andrew. I’d like to share a few helpful posts they wrote below as well as they are professionals at this and live breathe the selling and marketing of books. I hope this information is useful in your pursuit of your publishing dreams.

Everything you ever wanted to know about publishing. This is a series of blogs by Andrew Rogers who works for Zondervan a local publisher and division of HarperCollins. See the topics below.

All of these are very interesting reads by an accredited source who works regularly with authors. 

Josh is the marketing manager for a local bookstore that has become a local and national treasure (no pun intended and Nicholas Cage does not make appearances there). If you are a self published author or one championed by a publishing house, please read the link below. It talks about how important it is to know your local independent bookstore staff for promotion, knowing your market, and building your platform and how this valued team can assist. They may appear as mere bookstore staff, but they are more than that. They marketing machines who recommend and consume books all the time.

I hope you have enjoyed these links. See some of my previous posts for more information about:

If you have written about these topics and want to link a blog post or two about your tips for publishing, please link your information below in the comments section below.

Keep writing my friends.

Cheers,

Bob

 

 

Contacting A Literary Agent

As I was creating a spreadsheet of various agents to contact I came across a few things that surprised me. I would like to share them with you. If you have started the query process please post any helpful websites or information you discovered, thanks!

Not this sort of agent, though they might help…

I discovered most of the contact information for various agencies using AgentQuery.com a splendid site. Simply selected the type of novel you are writing and follow the directions. I do not count myself a detail oriented person but even I, who am as easily distracted as a house cat, can be sure to find an agent or two to submit a query or chapters. The marvelous thing about AgentQuery is that they tell you if a particular agent is open to submissions and if they accept email queries to speed up the submission process and target agents who want to hear from writers now.

The first thing I need to finish is my query, but some agencies want a variety of items. Some just want a query, others want a query and a bio, more want a query a bio and a few sample chapters, and even more wanted a query a bio and fifty pages of your novel sent. Once I get a list of about fifty or so, I will begin putting the queries and chapters each agency requires.

The submission guidelines are relatively easy to locate, just click the link in Agentquery to access a particular agent and click on their submission guidelines. I was surprised how easy it is to submit the required information. Most encourage new writers with open arms and even tell you ways to interact with them so they can get to know you as you submit your work.

Another nugget of assistance was discovered on an agency website The Knight Agency. They listed information on how to write a proposal, query, and how to make your work stand out. I was also happy to discover most agents provide helpful tips on many things like query letters, tell you how to get through spam filters and why disqualifies most authors, besides poor writing.

How about you? Are you are the submission process yet? What is your plan of action?

Cheers,

Bob

Attend Princeton, Penn, and U of M, For Free!

I like to learn. My guess is that most people enjoy learning if the topic is interesting enough. I often think about getting a Masters Degree in creative writing, however, when I think about saving up for one or the loan debt as a result, it gets a bit overwhelming. That’s why I am tremendously excited to share with you a little website called Coursera.

Coursera is a wonderland for those want to get more education on a variety of topics for free. Yup, free. Though these courses are not accredited, they are taught by professors from Stanford, Princeton, The University of Michigan, The University of Pennsylvania, and other university lending credit to the course and professor simply because of the institution behind them.

Here is the about section from the website:

About Coursera  We offer high quality courses from the top universities, for free to everyone. We currently host courses from Princeton University, Stanford University, University of California, Berkeley, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and University of Pennsylvania. We are changing the face of education globally, and we invite you to join us.

The section that I am most interested in, which may come as no surprise, is the humanities section. Since I am a glutton for punishment, I signed up for three courses. They are listed below. Why did I sign up for these specific courses?

Because I am a writer and most writers like to learn. I believe there are a lot of stories that can be forgotten as time moves on and many of them contain elements that could be extracted and inserted into a story I might be writing. History, Greek and Roman Mythology, and fantasy and science fiction are three of my favorite subjects.

A History of the World since 1300

Jeremy Adelman

This course will examine the ways in which the world has grown more integrated yet more divided over the past 700 years. Princeton University

Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World

Eric Rabkin

We understand the world — and our selves — through stories. Then some of those hopes and fears become the world. University of Michigan

Greek and Roman Mythology

Peter Struck

This course will focus on the myths of ancient Greece and Rome, as a way of exploring the nature of myth and the function it plays for individuals, societies, and nations. University of Pennsylvania

Here’s to hoping that my desire to learn is not larger than the amount of free time I have to do it!

Cheers,

Bob

How To Write A Book Proposal

I promised, back at the beginning of the month, to send out a proposal to an agent. I feel unprepared, like a parent sending their child off to kindergarten for the first time. However, it must be done, eventually. I am a writer after all and this is, inevitably, the next step.

But, how do you construct a book proposal? How do you prepare your little beauty to step out of the nest with confidence?

As you might very well know, there are many ways to publish and I plan to try the Mount Everest of them–traditional publication.

The following is advice on, and an outline of, a basic book proposal. You might ask when is the appropriate time to write one of these and the answer is two fold. Non-fiction proposals can be both before and after the book is finished, but for Fiction there is no wiggle room. You must have a completed novel before sending in the proposal.

Please keep in mind that each agency, agent, and publisher, might have different criteria of what they need. Please see their submission guidelines before submitting. Also, do your research. Don’t spend your time sending your thrilling space odyssey novel to a nature magazine. Know who you are submitting to in order to find out what they usually publish. Otherwise, all of your time and mental strain over your proposal is for naught.

I. Overview

This is your elevator pitch. In two or three paragraphs write the synopsis of your book, What is this book about? This might be the only time you have the attention of an agent or editor so make them beg for more. Having trouble knowing how to write one? You can find examples of these on the back of nearly every book. Also, bounce ideas off your writer friends.

II. Target Audience

Who is the audience? Is it a children’s book? Is it a YA novel? Is it a picture book? Is there a market for it? If your work can reach a secondary audience name them as well. Basically, name all parties that might be interested in this book. Don’t be bashful, but be realistic. Your grandma will probably not be interested in your book on Weapons of the World.

III. About the Author

This is your time to shine. Who are you? What is your experience or credentials? Do you have a blog or twitter following? Do you have another platform? One thing to be encouraged by is if you are a first time author there are agencies that are looking especially for first time novelists. You don’t have to have 300 short stories published for someone to read your work. Though, it wouldn’t hurt.

IV. Competition

If there is an audience, what other books are currently reaching them? Please do not say you are writing a YA book that reaches the EXACT SAME audience as Harry Potter. While it may be true, it draws unfair comparisons. Know other books that might be in closer competition.

If you are writing a Romance novel, read the back of every romance novel in your local bookstore then write down the ones that sound similar to yours. After this, go home and research them until you are the expert in what is selling, and how you can do better.

V. Marketing and Promotion

Unfortunately, authors are expected to do more for their sales in recent years, especially if they want to be successful. This means speaking engagements. This means book signings and radio or television appearances and interviews in the local paper or your favorite magazine.

This might sound both intimidating and presumptuous. The best place to start might be an author you know who has experience in these sorts of things. If not, ask the local bookstore manager how authors do book signings and even go to a few of them yourself. Then check at the library to find out what you need to do to get some talking time there. Also, if there is a local radio station or university that owns a radio station or television spot, call and talk with them.

Don’t forget your blog, Twitter account, Facebook, and any other social media/writing outlet you might utilize. All can be used for the promotion of your book.

VI. Sample Chapters

I don’t think I need to say a whole lot about this but the particular agency where you are sending your novel may have certain criteria. It might be the first two, three, or five chapters or merely a few of the best chapters in your book. Read the guidelines carefully and do EXACTLY what they say.

In conclusion, the one thing I would like to stress the most if I have not already is, be sure you follow the rules! Don’t deviate. Don’t be “creative” or try to stand out. Don’t reformat your proposal using cute font. Be professional and serious, no rose perfumed parchment. I don’t know how many times I have read or listen to an interview with an agent that said the reason a lot of novels are disqualified is because they are either not good, or don’t follow the directions in the submission process.

It’s Friday, (WOOHOO!!!) and this means there is only one more week to go on my self-imposed book proposal deadline so I had better get cracking. If you are ready to do the same, good luck my friend.

Cheers,

Bob

How I Plan To Edit My Novel

After I finish my book proposal (more on that tomorrow) I plan to get back to making my novel better. Some might think this is backwards, but there are things I’d like to clean up as I wait patiently (all to eagerly perhaps) for that form rejection letter.

When taking gravity, mathematics, and the concreteness of reality out of the way, there are about a billion ways to do just about anything. Here is my bumpy  and unproven road towards a cleaner fourth draft.

Step 1: Create Small Goals

When I look back on my novel there is a lot of work to be done. But I plan to approach these corrections and tackle them like I remodeled me house, one room at a time. If I were to read through for grammar, characterization, plot, and other errors simultaneously, I would immediately become overwhelmed by the plethora of mistakes. So I plan to read my novel several times to sweep over each one. Also, I will to do a simple read through taking notes first, before I do any hacking and whacking to my manuscript.

Step 2: Create A Plan

Not only can the writer/editor become overwhelmed with the mistakes that have been made on an early draft of a novel, but it can be nerve racking knowing just where to begin. I plan to print of my manuscript three chapters at a time and each night before I go to bed, simply read through 5-10 pages. 400+ pages can be a lot of work, but if I were to get on a role and finish 10 pages a day for a week, there’s 70 pages right there. And that’s not to mention lunch breaks at work and the occasional morning where I might have the energy to get up and knock out 5-10 pages.

Step 3: Identify Areas of Improvement

As I do my casual read through, while scratching some notes, I plan to identify areas of improvement. For instance, if I have inaccurate descriptions, if I forget a character completely, if a whole scene needs to be rewritten, a new scene added, or, as William Faulkner say if he were standing over my shoulder, if that little darling part needs to be killed.

Again, as I said at the beginning this is not a sure-fire way to edit. I don’t think there is. I think there are formulas we can use that might help, but it is what fits the writer best. The most important thing for me is figure out a system that works, and to do it.

One word at a time.

Cheers,

Bob

I did a guest post today on Roger Colby’s Blog Writingishardwork.wordpress.com. Check it out.
Cheers, Bob

Writing Is Hard Work

The following post comes to us from Bob Evenhouse over at Part-Time Novel.  He gives us several great websites for writers that can’t be missed!  Enjoy!

As a writer, I’ve discovered that there are a thousand different tools at my fingertips. Most these tools boast the ability to take a writing vagabond like myself and transform them into a pristine publishing and money-making machine. Now, if you are like me, you might not have the piles of cash to pour into a hundred applications or software let alone enough time to utilize all of them. So this post is for those writers who are strapped for cash but, still harbor an insatiable desire to publish a novel one day.

One of my favorite sites is Duotrope.com. This is a writer’s wonderland. If you are a budding author sitting on several short stories, I recommend you visit this site…

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The Healthy Writer

I walked through the doors of the local Tim Horton’s to meet my friend Josh for a night of writing bliss. Before I even sat down, or even said a word, he glanced up at me then looking taken aback.

“You got sleep last night didn’t you?” He asked. I nodded affirmatively.

Probably not the appropriate amount of sleep

I moved three weeks ago. My daughters were not sleeping (and still aren’t) for a variety of reasons, and I was spent on house projects, and lack of sleep. Through all of this I barely wrote. I ate terrible food, (insert your fast food kryptonite here) did not exercise (I was sanding wood floors and redoing my kitchen, however) and slept little.

Which brings me back to Josh’s comment at the beginning of the post. That night I wrote well. I put in eight hundred words on my novel, and when I reviewed them the next day they were better than I expected. This made me stop and think.

What would happen to my writing if I slept well all of the time? What would happen if I was a healthy writer?

I am not a health nut. I am not a person who obsesses over portion sizes and calories. But I can tell the difference in my body when I eat junk for a while and when I eat fresh produce and drink the proper amount of water. I don’t have caffeine head aches. I don’t have an upset stomach.

What would happen to my writing if I ate well all of the time? How would that impact my writing?

an Apple a day…

A month ago I ran a 5K race. It was very satisfying. I believe that the struggle of a sport or 5K builds motivation in other areas of life. Also, running, while sounding torturous, can be fun. It also gives me time to collect my thoughts and not be distracted, providing a great opportunity to mull over a particular part of my story.

What would happen to my writing if I exercised regularly?

These three things are not imperative to the writer. But, I believe being healthy may help me be a better writer. The master sleuth lived on opium and liquor, and the occasional embalming fluid. I wonder how he would have functioned had he ate fresh vegetables and got the proper amount of sleep?

Cheers,

Bob

The Cure for the Monday Blues

Monday presents many challenges. The morning rush, another week of school, and another week of work. These can greet us like a finger in the eye. However, I would like to use this blog to provide a little comedy along the way.

If you went bowling this weekend, this is for you. If not, it is for you all the same.

and if you went camping…

Cheers,

Bob