Third Time is a Charmer

In 2012, I attended my first writer’s conference. Although, at the time, I had already been writing for years. Walking in that first day, I was certain that at that point in time, I was ready to become a published writer. Turns out, I wasn’t.

An agent was kind enough to review my work, but I was devastated when she said I was likely a year away from being ready. Another year, I thought. I’ll never make it. Alas, after many more hours of writing and after completing multiple rewrites, just shy of two years later, I emerged with a completely different manuscript.

I just published my ‘first’ novel, “Secret Agent of God”. 

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“Secret Agent of God”

 

I say ‘first’, but what I mean is third, because the other two never saw the light of day. My real ‘first’ novel, the one I attempted to write about twenty-five years ago, was a summery love story. From what I can recall, it was along the lines of Snooky’s book about the Jersey Shore, but mine was about a little known island called Block Island off the coast of Rhode Island. I think I still have the story in a shoebox somewhere. It was hand-written on an assortment of cocktail napkins and in several beer-stained, spiral notebooks.

My second novel was another lovelorn tale about a single working gal, who was very similar to my former single-self, but in a fictional setting. Said ‘gal’ tried desperately not to fall in love with a very attractive private detective who had just breezed into town. YAWN. Sixty-five thousand words into the manuscript and after (I’m too embarrassed to say how many years), I decided the story was not unique enough to publish.

What’s the moral of this story? Both of these writing exercises helped me to become a better writer and more importantly, they made me realize some things. I don’t really like writing romance unless it’s wrapped in another package like paranormal suspense. Furthermore, if my life were exciting enough to read about, I wouldn’t need to write fiction. Finally, it takes as long as it takes. While deadlines are important, you need patience to become a writer.

In my first published novel, I created a protagonist who is nothing like me, threw her into a crazy situation and viola! I wrote a fast-paced thriller, with a strong female protagonist who is quirky, upbeat and funny despite her bleak circumstances. I almost feel badly about everything I put poor twenty-one-year-old Janice Morrison through, but I’m confident that she can handle it. She is ‘spiritually challenged’ but remarkably resourceful.

The weird thing is, I keep thinking, that someday I’ll be signing books in a mall somewhere and Janice will walk right up to me and say, “Hey, you stole my life!”

Now wouldn’t that be something?

 

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Guest Post: Seumas Gallacher

…if yeez can HEAR yer writing, yer on the right (sound) track…

…a true story I heard a few years ago concerned a six-year-old girl appearing as a key witness for the defence in a court case in the USA… the prosecuting lawyer sought to demonstrate to the jury that the child was incapable of recognizing fact from fantasy… he asked if the girl had a pet dog, to which she answered ‘yes’… he asked the dog’s name… she said ‘Pongo’… he continued, ‘do you speak to Pongo?’… she replied, ‘yes’… then he said , ‘…and does Pongo talk to you?’… she responded, ‘yes, of course Pongo talks to me’… the lawyer smirked, pleased to have shown the young lady as living in fantasy land… he asked the follow-up question, ‘…and just what does Pongo talk to you about?…’ she floored him and brought the court to a standstill in mirth with her response… ‘well, I don’t know, silly, he talks doggy talk!’…  the defence prospered… y’see it’s all about what yeez hear when yeez write, and more importantly, what yer readers hear when they read yer masterpieces… dialogue is universally accepted as a multi-purpose element of any quill-scraper’s craft… it imparts information… it breaks up narrative passage when required… the choice of WURDS in the character dialogue, used properly, tells the reader about mood, attitude, sometimes even intelligence levels of the cast… a sometimes welcome ploy is to use dialogue to break grammatical rules… and what author doesn’t relish that?… anything written within quotation marks is fair play… vernacular, double negatives, ‘plants’ in the plot for later denouement… oh, dialogue ye make the WURLD the scribbler’s oyster… speech also helps to differentiate players in yer plots… even without the ascription of ‘said’ WURDS… readers can pick up immediately who’s talking, and to whom… so, next time sumb’dy asks yeez, ‘…do yer characters talk?’  yeez can say, ‘…of course they do, they talk character talk, silly…’ … no more need be said… a-hem…

Books by Seumas Gallacher

Books by Seumas Gallacher

 

Blog                : seumasgallacher.com

Twitter                        : @seumasgallacher

Facebook         : http://www.facebook.com/seumasgallacher

Email               : seumasgallacher@yahoo.com

New Release! “Secret Agent of God”

Hello All!

To my followers…Thank You! Sorry I’ve been away for awhile. I’ve busy, busy working on publishing my first novel…”Secret Agent of God”, which will be available on Amazon very soon! Here is a brief description compliments of http://www.createspace.com:

Janice Morrison has a special gift, even if it sometimes feels more like a punishment. She has prophetic visions, an ability that makes her very valuable to certain people.

Just how valuable becomes clear when a terrorist cell kidnaps Janice on her way to her daughter’s daycare. The leader of the cell─a suave, dangerous man Janice nicknames English─believes he can use Janice’s ability to time successful terrorist attacks. To coerce the frightened but defiant woman, English threatens to harm Janice’s friends and family.

What follows is a tense game of wits between captive and captor, as Janice attempts to avoid contributing to a terrorist attack on US soil while keeping friends and family safe.

The dangerous world of terrorism and the paranormal blend in a fast-paced and suspenseful thriller. Janice’s visions will have horrific consequences unless she learns to be a Secret Agent of God.

More to follow! Thanks for your interest.

Twitter: @EileenSlovak

Facebook: https://t.co/Ln3h2IGQaO

Smashwords: http://t.co/EuNqFdvzUz

Resolvedly Unresolved

Take 0,1,2,3 rearrange = 2013

Ah, a crisp, unwrinkled New Year…so what’s the plan?  All over the globe people are pledging their resolutions for 2013, well, not me.  It’s not that I don’t have anything to fix, it’s just that I cannot see the point in making a bunch of empty promises to myself and to others.

Instead, I’ll do what I do every year and focus on unlocking the key to all of my unresolved issues, like starting new projects before completing the old ones.  Sound familiar?  At the same, I’ll try to give myself some credit for the issues I did manage to resolve in 2012.

For the sake of this exercise, I’ll explore my writing life as it parallels all other aspects of my personal life.

Unresolved:

I begin new Novels before completing the old ones.

  • Novel #1 in a perpetual state of semi completion and ‘limbo status’ because I think it needs another rewrite but am so sick of looking at it that it now rests in a cozy “cyber draw”.
  • Novel #2, definitely better than #1 and considerably less narcissistic and entertaining; 80% done for several months now; blaming rest of life for this fact.
  • Novel #3, an excellent first chapter and outline complete.
  • Novel #4, a few characters studies done and plot all in my head.
  • Novel #5, the best idea I have ever had, just thought of it this morning and cannot wait to get started!

Hmmm…okay, what did I do right?

Resolved Issues: 

In order to resolve my writing fears and issues, I came out of the writing closet and:

  • Joined a writers group and religiously attended until the rest of my life got in the way.
  • Attended a writer’s conference and followed some of the advice I gleaned during attendance until the rest of my life got in the way.
  • Started a weekly blog, actually wrote every week, until the rest of my life got in the way. My blog site
  • Created an Author Website and updated it regularly before the rest of my life got in the way. My Author Webpage
  • Started a twitter account and consistently kept up with it, but realized it gets in the way of my writing life. My twitter site

Still unresolved for 2013:  Figure out what’s going wrong in the rest of my life so I can get my writing life back on track, oh and vow to finish something–anything that I’ve started in all prior years combined.

Unresolvedly yours, (& yes I know it’s a made up word.)

Until next time, wishing you all a happy, prosperous and successful New Year!

Boost your writing enthusiasm; attend a Writers Conference.

Who should attend?

Because I thought I needed a finished novel to attend a writer’s conference, I waited until I had what I thought was a complete manuscript before attending one.  In actuality, that may have been a mistake.  The knowledge I gained from attending the conference helped me to redirect my writing efforts, to start promoting my work before publishing and to overcome fears, objections and writers blocks.

Last April I attended the Unicorn Writers Conference in Connecticut:  http://unicornwritersconference.com

I was nervous but quickly found my confidence.  As a result, I had an incredible experience, further solidifying my wish to become part of the writing community.

Dashing preconceived notions:

I was not the only one who still had work to do on my novels.  I met both published and unpublished writers wanting representation for cookbooks, single novels at various stages or multiple novels.  There were also self-published novelists looking for representation and publication for new work.  A further surprise was how many unpublished Authors were writing blogs and already had Author websites.

Just mixing with other writers was a bonus for me.  Writing is such a solitary activity and if you do not already have writing friends, you may not have anyone in your life who truly comprehends your passion for writing and the struggles you face, like the fear that kept me from attending a conference sooner.

Fear is a major obstacle for writers, whether it is fear of failure or fear of success.  Both are roadblocks to power through.  A conference offers an opportunity to attend seminars that will help allay your fears and concerns by offering facts, success stories and pertinent information.

Attendance also gives you a leg up on writers who rely solely on the internet, due to face time with Agents and Editors.  It is a professional but relaxed setting that pulls down the barriers between Writer and Agent or Editor.  They are just people after all, people with the power to make or break us, true, but people in a business seeking good writers.

The self-publishing threat:

Self-publishing was a hot topic, with Agents warning against writers jumping in without proper editing or serious effort made to seek traditional publishing.  Were they nervous about losing clients to self-publishing?  I’m not sure, since so many, take on so few clients.  Some said they only take one or two per year, not great odds for us.  Nevertheless, there clearly was an opportunity for self-published authors to use their online sales to option a publishing contract for new book sales.

I left less fearful, with some new contacts, the names of some great potential Agents and a better understanding of the publishing business.  I received some strong encouragement for my novels, but have since decided to rework them.

If you attend a conference, you would be doing yourself a disservice by not taking advantage of submitting your work ahead of time for the nominal fees charged, versus traditional costs of $3 or $4 per page charged by many online agencies.  I paid $45 for a review of my first fifty pages.  I also found the query letter review well worth the time.  Every author in my query letter group was given the opportunity to send his or her first fifty pages to the Agent running our workshop, following the conference.

If budget is an issue and you have never attended a conference, you may want to start with a small, local conference.  The next Unicorn Conference will be held on March 9 2013, prehaps I will see you there.  Writer’s Digest lists upcoming conferences monthly in the Conference Scene column by Linda Formichelli.

Finally the most common theme:

In a panel discussion at Unicorn, the Agents and Editors mentioned repeatedly, that they are seeking that next great story idea, but none seemed able to explain exactly what that meant, just that when they saw it, they would know.  It makes sense, if you think about it, they handle the bulk of the business end of writing and they need us, writers, to come up with fresh, saleable and entertaining ideas.

So, here’s hoping one of us is working on that next great story right now! 

Query Letters: Quantity or Quality?

I met a writer at a conference who said he sent 300 query letters before self-publishing.  I read some of his work, he is a good writer; but is writing 300 query letters a good strategy?  Based on my research over the past several years, I would say that quality is always better than quantity.

This may even be the motto of my life.

I am not an expert on writing query letters, but I have found some:

http://www.facebook.com/agent.rachelle

True confessions time!

After researching Agencies, http://www.agentquery.com/  I sent three letters for my first novel Seeing Scarlet before beginning yet another round of rewrites.  The rewrites are my decision, because I know I can better.   Of the three letters sent, I received one request for a full manuscript.  Not bad odds.

For my second, not quite completed novel, I sent one letter and received a very nice rejection.  By that, I mean, several paragraphs, which were both encouraging and offered an explanation about why she could not take on the novel.

What is the consensus?  What do they want?

Send it to the right agent, someone who represents your genre and is actively seeking new authors.

No typos or grammatical errors.

  • If your letter is boring, the assumption is that your novel will be as well.
  • Brevity: agents are busy.
  • No gimmicks, but a good hook doe not hurt.
  • Answer the question:  what is your story and why are you qualified to write it?

If you think have ever been in involved in a job search and who hasn’t, it’s not unlike writing a cover letter, if yours stinks, no one will read your résumé or your novel in this case, no matter how great it is.

Oh, and most importantly, double-check the spelling of the name of the Agency and Agent.  They say this actually happens, but it won’t get you very far.