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1. The NaNoWriMo Progress Report: How Are You Feeling?

Just about three weeks of participating in National Novel Writing Month can leave even the best, consistently faithful writer sleep-deprived, ornery, and a little nonsensical. But if you’ve made it this far, that’s something worth celebrating.

The question becomes, are you writing now just to hit your goal of 50,000 words? Are you simply trying to meet a word count to say you did it? Or are you trying to construct something meaningful and worthwhile, even if it’s something that you won’t let see the light of day for quite some time?

In short, how do you feel about your writing right now? Are you satisfied with how NaNoWriMo forces you to work? Do you enjoy the quickened pace and constricted guidelines, forcing your inner-critic and inner-editor to take a backseat (until December)? Or do you wish you could plot along more, fine-tuning and tweaking?

What’s your plan for the final stretch? Share it with us in the comments!

Have you missed any of the other posts in our NaNoWriMo blogging series? Be sure to check the others out:

Question: Have you been disappointed or pleased with your NaNo efforts thus far? What has made it so? How do you plan on improving or keeping it up over the final 2+ weeks?


Natania Barron: I’ve honestly been really pleased. I don’t want to say it’s the easiest NaNo, but it’s a different kind of NaNo. Part of it is having a responsibility to another writer. Part of it is being in a different place, writing for a different reason. I had enough of a slow gain leading up to the weekend that I didn’t have to write much at all—it was my 10th anniversary—but I still wanted to, and I was still thinking about the story a great deal. It’s compressed creativity, but this time around it doesn’t feel like so much work.


Rachel Herron: Oh, boy, I’m always disappointed by my NaNo words. I think it’s healthy and normal to be that way. We’re sprinting here, folks. Remember: the only goal is TO MAKE WORDS. Awful, terrible, furiously bad words are par for the course. Everything can be fixed, but we don’t do that in November. We write the worst things we’ve ever written in November, and then we brag about how badly we’re writing. Here’s an excellent example, straight out of my manuscript: “Fern was even paler now, if that was possible, but her eyes were twin blackened marks of heat WEARS A LOT OF EYELINER.” (I make myself notes in all caps, wherever the idea occurs to me. This keeps me from going backward.) And no, I’m not going to try to write better words. I’m just aiming for that 50,000 mark. Better words are what we make out of crappy words, later. I aim for quantity, not quality. And man, am I good at it. 


Nikki Hyson: Until a couple days ago I was very disappointed. I didn’t feel like I’d taken care of my time management very well during the first week and my word count suffered in major ways (okay, so I was exhausted and sleeping through alarms, but still!) Then, this weekend, I hit my 2nd (or maybe my 3rd) wind and powered through 9,600 words in about 33 hours. I just crested the 20k on the evening of the 15th which is (kinda) close to the middle. To maintain momentum I think it’s time to take my novel on the road: to work, to doctor appointments, to the coffee shop, anywhere and everywhere. Just jotting words in whatever chunks of time I can find will keep me from needing a full-on marathon at the end. Although those are seriously a lot of fun.


 

November/December 2014 Writer's Digest

 With resources, tips, and advice from a bevy of experts the
November/December 2014 issue of Writer’s Digest is a surefire
way to help you finish your goal of 50,000 words during November.


Regina Kammer: I’m befuddled, really. Two of my characters are darker than I had originally intended. Another is surprisingly heroic for a minor character. So maybe this means I’m pleased because the magic of NaNoWriMo is happening.

On the other hand, I have a target publisher , so I’m spending way too much time ignoring my own advice of just writing and suppressing the inner-editor. I’m worried that the work might not be what they’re looking for. I need to stop that.

All I can do for the final two weeks is keep writing. I still have the pivotal scene and the climax to write, so those are like proverbial carrots on a stick. I need to take my own advice and just write the parts of the story I’m sure about!


Kathy Kitts: Here is a great anecdote that helps me get through the tough slog that is the 30 thousands. Ray Bradbury had just given a lecture and was taking questions. An undergraduate asked him how he could be so prolific. How he could write when he wasn’t in the mood? He replied that writing took care of those moods.


Kristen Rudd: My novel took a turn that I was completely unprepared for, and I’ve spent the better part of several days trying to get it back on track. So, on the one hand, I’m pleased that it seems to be its own living, breathing beast. On the other hand, I’m bummed because it seems to be its own living, breathing beast. It all happened from what I thought was an innocuous line of dialogue. I followed it where it led, and I’m worried I may have written myself into a corner. When I vented, a friend asked me, “But is the corner defensible? Does it have a nice view?”

I am determined to let the story lead me and hope that it knows what it’s doing. So, yes. We are in a committed relationship, my novel and I. I have plenty of originally planned scenes I can always switch over to if I need. I am all of the prepareds. I will just keep writing, trusting that writing will solve all of my problems.


EJ Runyon: What’s pleased me is that I’m using excerpts from past NaNo’er for this book. That’s a great feeling, seeing work from a few years ago. And what’s disappointing is that it looks like 30K+ words will leave me with a finished How-to-Guide, and that leaves 20K +/- still to write on one of my WIP novels. Good thing this is a Rebel year. Maybe Ill turn that disappointment into a stab at more than one WIP, and touch three of them. Make the time count in a big way, instead of trying to just fill the time & word count


Jessica Schley: I’m behind schedule, but I’m actually very pleased with how this NaNo is going. This has been one of the first where more days than not, I’m hitting the word count and pushing my story forward. It also is shaking out pretty close to my outline—one thing I’ve discovered in revising my NaNo novels is that the pacing is usually WAY off in my finished draft, because while the fun of NaNo is that secondary characters and plot twists tend to show up ad hoc, that often means that a lot of explaining goes into them and they come in at the wrong point, making my novels out of whack. So I was hoping that this time, I could write something that was more evenly paced if I outlined a slightly more rigid 3-act structure.  The Act I turn happened right where I wanted it to, and the midpoint of the novel is on track to hit when I hit that word count. I’m very pleased with that.

How do I plan on improving? Just keeping on keeping on. I went to a great write-in this week with my NaNo community (we have a wonderful group here in the nation’s capital) and I’m going to hit up more of those to keep me going. Plus, I’ve won two NaNos with 10,000+ word counts on the final day (one was 20), and with half the month left to go, I still have a very reasonable daily word count to hit. So, I’ll just hit that. :) Easier said than done, I suppose, but as I said in the last post … it’s really hard not to finish once you cross 35K. Even if you cross 35K in the morning of the 30th of November!


Brian Schwarz: I have been happy with my efforts. I had lofty goals prior to NaNo that included finishing the first book in my series prior to November (I had 3 months) and then the second book during Nano, but instead I ended up with 10k words on the first one in 3 months. Given that I’m at 18k more in 16 days, I have to be pretty satisfied with that. If NaNo ended tomorrow, I could accept my progress as is. But, being that I’m a driven over-achiever, I do not plan on relenting. I am going to increase my word count, trying to furiously catch up (one day last week i actually wrote 8k words in a day) and I’m going to be happy when I make it. I have a rhythm now, which isn’t exactly one I was hoping for. I spend my weekends pretty much forgetting about writing while I spend my work-week going into work an hour early and writing furiously to make up for the two days lost as well as the previous days missed. I won’t question my flow, and I’ll just try to be more productive in it. For some reason writing before bed or in the morning hasn’t been as productive or effective this time round (whereas last year I did a vast majority of my book at night before sleeping), but I don’t mind how it happens. I just know I will find a way to make it happen.

*     *     *     *     *

Question: What is one weird word to describe your novel so far?


Natania Barron: Spiderpunk.


Rachael Herron: Erratic.


Writer's Market Deluxe Edition“The Writer’s Market book is an incredible resource on its own, just as the WritersMarket.com website is a wonderful resource. Combine the two, and a 60-mintue webinar on freelancing, and you get the power-packed combo of the Writer’s Market Deluxe Edition. It’s the same Writer’s Market print book, but it comes with an activation code good for a one-year subscription to WritersMarket.com, which houses more listings and more updates throughout the year.”

-Robert Lee Brewer, Writer’s Market Content Editor


Nikki Hyson: Unpredictable. At least while writing it. I don’t know. I may reread it in a month and realize you can see every plot twist a mile off. Right now my characters are toying with me.


Regina Kammer: Compost.

(Layers of rich well-developed material with a bunch of rough and green bits thrown in.)


Kathy Kitts: Sidestepping.


Kristen Rudd: Alive. My novel is like Frankenstein’s monster. It’s no longer under my control and is going wherever it damn well pleases, apparently. I’m just chasing after it at this point, trying to keep up.


EJ Runyon: “Simple”—that’s it. I’m rebelling this month, and revising a How-to-Write book on Revisions. Like my Tell Me (How To Write) A Story, (NaNo 2008, published 2014) this one also shows simple ways of looking at your work. Novembers come to a close, and in the time that follows, something simple is needed to keep a writer going. Hopefully this “simple” guide will be one of those things.


Jessica Schley: Convoluted. I don’t know if that’s a very weird word. But every scene I write introduces a new twist. So it is turning out very twisty. I hope I can bring all these threads together in Act III! 


Brian Schwarz:  I’d go with “Barmicide”. Look it up! :) God knows I did.

*     *     *     *     *

Write-A-ThonFind the focus, energy, and drive you need to start—and finish—your book in a month. Write-A-Thon gives you the tools, advice, and inspiration you need to succeed before, during, and after your writing race. With solid instruction, positive psychology, and inspiration from marathon runners, you’ll get the momentum to take each step from here to the finish line. You’ll learn how to: train your attitude, writing, and life—and plan your novel or nonfiction book; maintain your pace; and find the best ways to recover and move forward once the writing marathon is finished and you have a completed manuscript in hand!


Cris Freese is the associate editor of Writer’s Digest Books.

 

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2. The Power of Journaling

Overcoming a painful past usually involves sharing one’s story and the associated feelings. Developing insight into past hurts, and connecting the dots between then and now enables one to make better choices moving forward. Journal writing is a powerful tool that opens the path to greater insight and self-knowledge.


 

Randy_Kamen_Gredinger 300 dpi colorBTD_Paperback_tone This guest post is by Randy Kamen, ED.D., author of Behind the Therapy Door: Simple Strategies to Transform Your Life. She is a psychologist and educator who helped pioneer new territory in mind-body medicine at Boston University’s School of Medicine and Harvard’s Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. She has long been on the leading edge of her profession, integrating insight oriented and cognitive behavioral therapy with holistic methods in her research and clinical work. She helps women build on their strengths and implement new strategies to deepen their experience of insight, healing, and happiness. Dr. Kamen has appeared on numerous TV and radio programs. She writes for the Huffington Post and other media outlets. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook @DrRandyKamen to learn about her speaking engagements and women’s retreats on Martha’s Vineyard and around the country or visit her website DrRandyKamen.com.


 

The pioneer work of James Pennebaker in his book Writing to Heal and subsequent research on the topic of journal writing, confirms what many of us already know intuitively: Journal writing is a highly effective way to manage stress and alter a wide range of problematic behaviors. Strongly encouraged in the field of psychology and medicine journaling fosters deeper insight, self-awareness, and behavioral change. Behavioral psychologists often say, “If you can track it, you can change it.”

Journaling opens the door for the writer to express personal impressions, daily experiences, and evolving insights as well as reflections about the self, relationships, experiences, dreams, fantasies, and creative musings. This can be done without judgment or restriction. Reviewing earlier entries cultivates the writer’s ability to learn from past events and circumstances that might otherwise go unnoticed. A repetitive, self-destructive behavior becomes more apparent when seen through the lens of these journal entries.

A Vehicle for Mindfulness

Journal writing can be a vehicle for deepening mindfulness as it helps to clarify and refine thoughts and emotions and brings the writer into the present. Like meditation, journal writing helps to clear the mind by transcribing emotional clutter onto the written page. The writer becomes a witness to his or her past behaviors which then paves the way for fresh thought and perspective. Journaling provides a forum that can be both cathartic and revelatory.

A journal creates a great companion wherever you go. It is a resource for observing shifts in your inner world and outer behavior.

Getting Started

Begin the journaling practice by buying a notebook that you can slip into a pocketbook or even a pocket. Consider keeping a separate notebook by the bed to record dreams. Keeping a journal as a private file on the computer is another option. Choose any method that enables you to write consistently for at least ten minutes a day. Some people find that lingering over the writing takes them into a state of reflection about the past, present, or future. Others prefer to track their thoughts about particular subjects, such as dreams, and certain behaviors like smoking, eating, or mood variations. Journaling helps to identify and clarify goals, wishes, and emotional reality without inhibition. Consider a brief meditation as a prelude to journal writing. At a minimum take a few deep breaths for grounding purposes before beginning each new entry. In this way, you will create the condition for even greater focus and lucidity in capturing thoughts and writing.

There are many ways to keep a journal. You may wish to consider the type of journal you would like to keep. There are four kinds of journal that I am proposing here: free associating, gratitude, sentence prompts, and dreams.

Free Associating Journal

In a free associating journal the writer records what- ever comes to mind. This type of journal helps with processing events and clarifying thoughts. It is a venue for noticing feelings, insights, and matters of the heart. This kind of journaling also creates an opportunity for recording life lessons and reflecting on important questions.

Gratitude Journal

In a gratitude journal the writer makes daily recordings about several events for which she is grateful. The idea behind the gratitude journal is to strengthen the part of the brain that focuses on positive thoughts and deepens the capacity to appreciate. This type of journaling is strongly associated with diminished depression and the heightened experience of inner peace and well-being.

Sentence Prompts Journal

In a sentence prompts journal the writer uses open- ended questions or incomplete sentences to evoke (unique) thoughts, feelings, and associations. For example: My relationships will improve when…A risk I am willing to take today is…My life feels most harmonious when I…My goal today is…I believe that…I have always wanted to…I have decided to…My greatest strengths are…I am grateful for…I love…I am happiest when…

Dream Journal

In a dream journal the writer records her dreams upon awaking. Dreams can be a powerful source of insight. Once you begin keeping this kind of journal, you are likely to improve your dream recall. Your dreams are a window into your subconscious mind, which is a powerful way to understand your inner world. Sometimes, in the time it takes say “Good morning” to your partner, your dream can slip away. At first, you may only remember fragments or images from your dreams, but in time you will find that you have access to more vivid recollections.

Healing Childhood Trauma through Connection

Getting in touch with one’s early childhood memories, particularly memories from a challenging history, can cause old emotional pain to resurface, sometimes with a vengeance. Journaling can be a powerful tool to rethink your past, your current behaviors, and explore opportunities for change going forward.

Enjoy the process

Journal writing can become your guide and confidant. Most importantly you can tap into your authentic self without inhibition or judgment. The precious time spent journaling will deepen insight, and wisdom. You may find that your journaling ushers you into a healthier and happier place within yourself and with others.

Thanks for visiting The Writer’s Dig blog. For more great writing advice, click here.


Follow Brian on Twitter: @BrianKlems
Sign up for Brian’s free Writer’s Digest eNewsletter: WD Newsletter
Buy Brian’s book OH BOY, YOU’RE HAVING A GIRL, A DAD’S SURVIVAL GUIDE TO RAISING DAUGHTERS

 

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3. WD Poetic Form Challenge: Terzanelle Winner

Thank you to everyone who submitted a terzanelle! This form was a fun read and tricky to decide upon a winner.

My initial short list included 30 poems, but I cut it down to one winner and 10 finalists. This time around, that winner is Jane Shlensky for her poem “Food Chain,” which won me over with its images, its lyricism, and the thought of connection and observation.

Here’s the winning Terzanelle:

Food Chain, by Jane Shlensky

An ibis settles on the shoal–
white plumes in shallows, standing still
until the fish forget his goal

to make of them his morning meal.
He’s in the moment, focused, clear,
white plumes in shallows, standing still.

He does not see me watching, near;
he stares beneath blue mirrored sky.
He’s in the moment, focused, clear,

reflected in the water’s eye
where languid fish seek smaller prey.
He stares beneath blue mirrored sky,

then strikes and pulls a fish away,
joining a chain that holds us all
where languid fish seek smaller prey,

in answer to a primal call.
An ibis settles on the shoal
joining a chain that holds us all,
until the fish forget his goal.

*****

Win $1,000 for Your Poetry!

Writer’s Digest is offering a contest strictly for poets with a top prize of $1,000, publication in Writer’s Digest magazine, and a copy of the 2015 Poet’s Market. There are cash prizes for Second ($250) and Third ($100) Prizes, as well as prizes for the Top 25.

The extended deadline is November 21, so enter today.

Click here to learn more.

*****

Here is the Top 10 list:

  1. “Food Chain,” by Jane Shlensky
  2. “Before the Fire Burns,” by Susan Schoeffield
  3. “Motel, You in the Window,” by Barbara E. Young
  4. “Enchanted Exile,” by Daniel Ari
  5. “Under the Milky Way,” by William Preston
  6. “Untitled,” by Joshua
  7. “Ringside,” by Taylor Graham
  8. “Repaired,” by Bruce Niedt
  9. “Fractured,” by Tracy Davidson
  10. “Calling Orion,” by Laurie Kolp

Congratulations to Jane and everyone in the Top 10! And thank you to everyone who took the time to participate and comment on each others’ poems.

I’ve been working through the gogyohkas and hope to announce the winners of that challenge soon. In the meantime, watch for the next poetic form and poetic form challenge.

Also, be sure to read through the 200+ comments from the terzanelle challenge. Click to continue.

*****

roberttwitterimageRobert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of the poetry collection, Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). He edits Poet’s Market, Writer’s Market, and Guide to Self-Publishing, in addition to writing a free weekly WritersMarket.com newsletter and poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine.

He loves hosting, reading, and judging these challenges.

Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.

*****

More poetic good stuff here:

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4. 2014 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 19

I’m not sure how November always gets away from me so fast. Maybe it’s the beginning of the Market Book cycle; maybe it’s this challenge; but November often seems to be nearly over before I get my bearings on the month.

For today’s prompt, write an excuse poem. People are full of excuses–I’m no different–and sometimes they’re valid; other times, not so much. Write a poem about making excuses, listening to excuses, or hey, maybe excuse someone for making them.

*****

Quit Making Excuses! Enter for a Chance at $1,000!

Writer’s Digest has extended the deadline to their Writer’s Digest Poetry Awards competition to November 21. As you may have guessed from the bold statement above, the winner will receive $1,000 cash!

The winning poem will also be published in a future issue of Writer’s Digest magazine. And the winning poet will receive a copy of the 2015 Poet’s Market.

Even poets who don’t win can win, because there are prizes for 2nd through 25th place as well.

Click to learn more.

*****

Here’s my attempt at an Excuse poem:

“out”

i used the last one an hour ago
on my homework that did not
materialize when i had hoped

it would and now here you are
asking me where i was when
you waited all night & avoided

dancing with the guys who
asked & there were many
because you were saving

your dancing feet for me &
me alone & i know i’ve used
them so often in the past

but i’ve completely run dry

*****

roberttwitterimageRobert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of the poetry collection, Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). He edits Poet’s Market, Writer’s Market, and Guide to Self-Publishing, in addition to writing a free weekly WritersMarket.com newsletter and poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine.

He knows all about excuses from first-hand experience and realizes they’re often lacking. His five little poets often remind him that excuses are not the same as making good choices and performing the right actions.

Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.

*****

Find more poetic goodies here:

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5. Oh the Choices

Two objects sit before you: a golden hammer and a cup of what seems to be water. A note on the wall says: “Go ahead, make your choice. The outcome will decide whether you’re ready or not.” Ready for what? What is this place? Why these objects? Which will you choose?

writing-promptsWant more creative writing prompts?

Pick up a copy of A Year of Writing Prompts: 365 Story Ideas for Honing Your Craft and Eliminating Writer’s Block. There’s a prompt for every day of the year and you can start on any day.

Order now from our shop.

 

 

 

 

 

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6. 2014 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 18

It’s a Tuesday, which means we’ve got two prompts today:

  1. Write a sweet poem.
  2. Write a sour poem.

*****

Running out of Time for a Chance at $1,000!

Writer’s Digest has extended the deadline to their Writer’s Digest Poetry Awards competition to November 21. As you may have guessed from the bold statement above, the winner will receive $1,000 cash!

The winning poem will also be published in a future issue of Writer’s Digest magazine. And the winning poet will receive a copy of the 2015 Poet’s Market.

Even poets who don’t win can win, because there are prizes for 2nd through 25th place as well.

Click to learn more.

*****

Here’s my attempt at a Sweet and/or Sour poem:

“Thai”

I love to eat Thai food,
because it tastes so good.

I love the sweet and sour
chicken with the sauce poured

over veggies and rice.
Mmmm. Thai for lunch sounds nice.

*****

roberttwitterimageRobert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of the poetry collection, Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). He edits Poet’s Market, Writer’s Market, and Guide to Self-Publishing, in addition to writing a free weekly WritersMarket.com newsletter and poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine.

He really does love eating sweet and sour chicken at Thai restaurants. He also favors writing rhyming poems when he’s not sure what to write. The rhymes get his brain turning, especially on cold November mornings.

Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.

*****

Find more poetic goodies here:

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7. Halfway There: Finishing NaNoWriMo Strong

You’re almost there; you’re halfway through National Novel Writing Month, at least based on the calendar. Whether or not you’re halfway through your goal to 50,000 words (or whatever your goal this month is) may be another story.

These next two weeks now become as or more critical than the first two and a half weeks that you’ve spent writing. If you’ve made it this far (and presumably even if you aren’t exactly half way to your goal, you still have a decent chunk of words), then there’s no way you can throw in the towel.

So how are you going to motivate yourself to finish what you’ve started? Have you been through a deadline like this previously? How did you survive? Be sure to share any tips or thoughts on getting through the rest of NaNoWriMo in the comments below.

Have you missed any of the other posts in our NaNoWriMo blogging series? Be sure to check the others out:

Question: Now that we’re at the halfway point, what’s your number one tip or suggestion to help other writers get through the rest of NaNoWriMo?


Natania Barron: Make it an incremental change. Don’t go crazy and type 10,000 words a day. I did that once. Sure, I got my word count in. But most of it was terrible. Not to mention my whole body hurt afterward. As a writer that struggles with repetitive stress injuries every day, it’s no laughing matter.

But incremental word countskeeping it under 2,000 a dayI find are more attainable in the long run. I find that the writing is better, too. And I find that the sanity factor is sincerely less an issue when you’re not scrambling to catch up and panicked. If you’re in this to get into the habit of writing, don’t get into the habit of binge writing. Get into the habit of writing well, writing focused, and writing sustainably.

Also bring wine. This isn’t easy.


Rachael Herron: My number one tip? Sugar. After that, some coffee. And then some more sugar. In normal life, I don’t let myself eat sugar very often, but in November? This is my favorite month of the year (because of the writing) and I let myself go there. Other people let themselves get a little out of control in December, but for me, November is the month to binge on Twinkies and Reese’s. And when I’m flagging, when I just can’t get that extra thousand words I need to reach my goal, a Twizzler appetizer followed by a hot chocolate chaser will get me the words I need (especially if I have the reward of a sugary aperitif to look forward to after I’ve done my words). 


Nikki Hyson: Just DO NOT quit. Even if you feel you won’t hit 50k; that you’ll never get to the end of it. Keep writing. Every day. As much as you can until midnight of November 30th. You’ll mine magic if you do. An odd twist of words. The coolest of names will spring out of nowhere. A side character might take charge and inspire you. You made a promise to yourself to write for 30 days and I promise you, if you stick it out, you won’t regret it. 


Regina Kammer: Plot got you down? Concentrate on the parts of your story you are sure about and ignore the parts that are giving you headaches. That is, get down on paper (or up on the screen) all the parts of the story you know need to be written, even if there are huge plot holes. That will keep up your word count, with the added benefit that sometimes plot holes get filled in while you’re writing other parts of the story.

Another bit of advice is to read some posted excerpts on the NaNoWriMo site. What you’ll find might inspire you, motivate you, and make you realize you’re right on track.


 

November/December 2014 Writer's Digest

 The November/December 2014 issue of Writer’s Digest
has all of the resources, tips and tricks you need to finish
off your goal of writing a novel in a month.


Kathy Kitts: Keep on keepin’ on. I’ve had an absolutely exhausting weekend and I had fallen about two days behind in word count. All I wanted to do was go to bed, but I told myself, just 250 words. Just write 250 and then go to bed. I didn’t want to break the chain. It’s hokey, but I have a calendar, and I put a star on each day that I write. I didn’t want to miss my star for today. So, I wrote my 250 and then got inspired and wrote 1750 more. Words beget words.


Kristen Rudd: Just keep writing. It’s all downhill from here. If you’ve made it this far, then you can finish this. I find I have one of two problems around this time in the month. It’s either “Oh, crap, I have too many things to write, and I’m not going to finish” or it’s “Oh, crap, I don’t have enough material to see me through until the 30th.” Really, neither of these is a problem. The first one just means I’ll have plenty of stuff to work on, and the second means I need to start killing people off.

There is a third problem, which is, “Oh, crap, I’m totally in over my head/I hate my story/I don’t know what I’m doing.” This one may or may not be my problem this year. But I just keep writing. Writing solves all of these problems.


EJ Runyon: All I did to get me to the mid-point in this month of writing is to do it daily. I didn’t miss a day of writing. Sometimes I made my word count goal, other days I exceeded it a bit. So the tip is: Work at it consistently.

You can enjoy all the fun in NaNo’s playground of forums, and FB feeds, sure camaraderie is wonderful. But writing is what this is all about. Three of my NaNo titles were accepted for publication, and this year’s been picked up too, because I did the work. During the NaNo Months and out of them.

Just sit and do the work.


Jessica Schley: Years ago, there was no detailed stats bar that told you how many words you were behind or how many you wrote that day, or how many words per day you needed to finish on time. The only motivator you had was the blue bar, going further and further until you hit 50 and it turned purple. Personally, I found it more usefulit wasn’t easy to quantify if you were falling behind short of getting out a calculator and doing the math. You’d just push yourself to keep going every day.

So if you find yourself behind, a) you’re in good company (I’m not even going to talk about how many days I’m behind right now!) but b) don’t focus on the count relative to where you “should” be. Focus on pushing that blue bar forward as far as you can push it each day.

And two, it is almost a NaNoWriMo impossibility to not finish once your book hits 35,000 words. As you turn into the fourth week, words tend to start tumbling out. So if you feel like quitting, just stick with it no matter what is going on right now, and get to 35k. When you get to 35k, then you have my permission to quit. Because you won’t be able to.


Brian Schwarz: When I was in high school, I subjected myself to a “sport” known as cross country, which was really just another form of torture. I remember every race began the same way, with me and my fellow torturee’s saying “I will never run another race again after this.” We always told ourselves that we were finished, that we would cease to volunteer, but all of us were always there a month later for the next race. We found comradarie in the whole ordeal. On one particular race, I found myself struggling through the last leg of the race and repeating in my head over and over again, “No one has ever died from running.” I found the thought comforting, and this was a common thing I would say to myself to press onward, to keep running despite how much I wanted to stop. Unfortunately for me on this particular race, it was hot enough out that one student had literally passed out while running. I saw the ambulance while I repeated my phrase over and over in my head, and the thought crossed my mind—did someone actually just die from running?

I guess my point, and my advice, are to lie to yourself. Lie early and lie often and lie over and over again, because I’m pretty sure that someone somewhere has died from running, just like I’m pretty sure some person has died from a lack of sleep caused by an excess of writing. But NaNoWriMo has a lot in common with cross country, because at the end of the day it isn’t about a battle of you and another person. It’s you versus you. Of all the paralyzing frustrations and disappointments that happen during Nanowrimo, none is worse than this—getting discouraged. Because the only person that can stop you from finishing NaNoWriMo with 50,000 wonderful new words is—frankly—you. I mean, you’ll end up blaming it on your cat getting sick, or your favorite television show starting up, or that thing you had to do for work or school that you weren’t expecting—but at the end of the day its all on you.

So whether you have 25,000 words written today or 25 words written (mind you I’m at 18,000 and still very much plan to finish at 50k), don’t limit yourself by telling yourself all of those bad lies, and tell yourself some good ones. Tell yourself that writing 5,000 words a day for 15 days is WAY easier than writing 1,667 words a day for 30 days. Tell yourself that you’ve got all the time in the world even when you don’t, just to calm your nerves. Tell yourself that everyone is as far behind or as far ahead as you. Be convincing. Believe it. No one has ever died from writing 50,000 words in 30 days, and neither will you. Forget sleep. Sleep is for the weak. Write something that takes your mind off sleep. Just don’t let yourself be the reason you didn’t finish NaNoWriMo with 50,000 words, or with 25,000 words, or with 750 words. Readjust. Change your goal if you must but I would recommend just convincing yourself that you’re not in bad shape. That’s what I’ll be doing. 

*     *     *     *     *

Write Your Novel in a MonthEveryone thinks about doing it, yet most people who do start a novel end up stalling out after a few chapters. Where do these would-be novelists go wrong? Are the characters dull and clichéd? Did the story arc collapse? Did they succumb to a dreaded bout of “writer’s block”? Or maybe it was all just taking too long?

These problems used to stop writers in their tracks, but nothing will get in your way after reading Write Your Novel in a Month. Author and instructor Jeff Gerke has created the perfect tool to show you how to prepare yourself to write your first draft in as little as 30 days. With Jeff’s help, you will learn how to organize your ideas, create dynamic stories, develop believable characters, and flesh out the ideal narrative for your novel—and not just for that rapid-fire first draft. Jeff walks you through the entire process, from initial idea to the important revision stage, and even explains what to do with your novel once you’re finished.


Cris Freese is the associate editor of Writer’s Digest Books.

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8. From Proposal to Contract in Under a Week

For several years I labored in the agent fields, trying to harvest one for my book on helping doctoral candidates finish their dissertations. My approach, I was sure, was new, based on my longtime practice of coaching doctoral students and editing their dissertation drafts.

I also knew from much research, and the students themselves, that the traditional dissertation-writing handbooks largely ignored the major subjects of my book—the emotional and interpersonal troubles students come up against in achieving this difficult goal. These aspects can trip them up as much as not knowing the right chapter headings or correct scholarly jargon.

In my quest for an agent, I mined the writing annuals, sites, reviews, and interviews for anyone with a hint of graduate education and interest in self-help. Amassing a thick file, I wrote to every one of them. All I gleaned were a few compliments and plenty of good lucks.

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Noelle Sterne, Author, Head Shotnoelle-sterne-trust-your-lifeThis guest post is by author, editor, writing coach, and spiritual counselor, Noelle Sterne, who has published more than 300 pieces in print and online venues, including  Author Magazine, Funds for Writers, Children’s Book Insider,  Inspire Me Today, Transformation Magazine, Unity Magazine, Writer’s Digest, The Writer, and Women on Writing. With a Ph.D. from Columbia University, Noelle has for over 28 years assisted doctoral candidates in completing their dissertations (finally). Based on her practice, her handbook addresses dissertation writers’ overlooked but very important nonacademic difficulties. Challenges in Writing Your Dissertation: Coping with the Emotional, Interpersonal, and Spiritual Struggles will be published by Rowman & Littlefield Education in 2015. In her book Trust Your Life: Forgive Yourself and Go After Your Dreams (Unity Books, 2011), Noelle draws examples from her academic consulting and other aspects of life to help readers release regrets, relabel their past, and reach their lifelong yearnings. Her webinar about the book is on YouTube:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95EeqllONIQ&feature=youtu.be  Noelle invites you to visit her website: trustyourlifenow.com
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Dogged Doing

I kept at it, following all leads. I also continued to rethink the book and refocus the premises. I reflected on how many of my clients not only shared their emotional turmoils and relationship problems with me (dissertations often, unfortunately, precipitate divorces) but also admitted that they needed a more spiritual approach in their torturous graduate school journey. After repeated academic sucker punches, they would gingerly assert their faith in a power higher than their dissertation chair.

Spirituality and scholarship don’t often mix. Some of the nursing journals publish a few articles on spiritual qualities and practices (nurses are, after all, helpers and healers). But such a topic for dissertation help in academic circles is generally frowned on or completely shunned.

Today, though, the spiritual is popping up everywhere else, with spiritual-oriented books making bestseller lists, spiritual-themed movies making box office history, and even meditation techniques making the Internet homepages and supermarket magazine covers.

Clients shared with me much personal evidence on the effectiveness of spiritual techniques. I reflected too on my own use of spiritual practices to help students solve the problems their doctoral committees threw at them. So, heartened (and praying), I summoned the courage to incorporate another component in my book in addition to the emotional and interpersonal—the spiritual.

I revised the outline, reworked the chapter synopses, refined the introduction, and restructured the entire proposal. And wrote to more agents.

Nada.

Practitioner, Practice Thyself

Never mind, I thought. As I advised clients, I told myself to keep affirming success. And as I also advised clients, I kept visualizing myself working on the book daily. I also revisited the buoying words of one graciously rejecting agent: “You’ll publish this book in no time.”

During a meditation session, an idea surfaced: switch gears from submitting my proposal to agents and go directly to academic presses. This may not seem like an astounding revelation. But please understand: as a primarily nonacademic writer I’ve always craved an agent—the undisputable symbol, I’ve believed, of finally gaining credibility as a writer.

Following my inner guidance and doing more research, I drew up a list of academic publishers, all reputable, all stalwart. Each had its own proposal guidelines, and I dutifully filled in the blanks and sent the first out.

Speed Emailing

From here, things happened unbelievably fast. You probably won’t believe the chronology, so I chronicle the specifics.

  • Tuesday night, 7:17 pm: sighing, back aching, I emailed the proposal to the first publisher.
  • Wednesday morning, 8:52 am (seeing address and suppressing incipient elation): I opened the email from the vice-president/publisher asking me how this book would be different from the other three they most recently published, and another due out in two months.
  • Wednesday afternoon, 12:29 pm (more research, no lunch): Drafted my reply and checked for typos. Sent!
  • Wednesday afternoon, 1:28p: (between gulping sandwich bites and guzzling water): Opened his email: “Very convincing.” I then read, holding onto my desk chair arms so I wouldn’t faint, that they wanted to offer me a contract. “Delighted to have you as one of our authors.” I let go of the chair arms and floated to the ceiling.
  • Wednesday afternoon, 1:30 pm: Two minutes later, surprised, I opened this email. The sandwich stuck in my throat. The projected length, he said, would make the book too big and expensive for the very audience I was aiming at, graduate students. And the original title was too long and amorphous and lacked good searchable words. He asked me to suggest alternate titles that “reflect the book’s purpose.” I slid under my desk chair.
  • Wednesday evening, 7:41 pm: All day avoiding the latest request, and incidentally attending to a couple of clients’ dissertations, I finally squeezed out three alternate titles. Sighing mightily, I agreed to cut the book length and sent off the email.
  • Thursday morning, 8:17 am: He thanked me for agreeing to cut the text and suggested another alternative to my three alternative titles.
  • Thursday afternoon, 3:20 pm: After ruminating and chewing on the edges of several research books, I suggested yet other alternatives to his alternative alternative titles (was this a verbal pissing contest?). And waited.
  • Friday, 10:00 am: He chose one of the alternative alternatives with a modification.
  • Friday, 2:32 pm: I agreed with his choice and suggested a slight remodification (couldn’t appear a complete marshmallow).
  • Friday, 2:46 pm: He thanked me and considered it settled. He added,
  • “Ready to go, then!” I stood on my desk chair and shouted.
  • Friday, 4:06 pm: From his associate, in my inbox appeared a passel of forms, information, tips, and THE CONTRACT. I ran into my husband’s office screaming and jumping to the ceiling.

* * * * * *

How Long?

All this took place in less than a work week—faster than I could ever have imagined. Well, let me correct that: less than a week—and several years. My proposal had to “sit” before I was ready to see it anew and change my focus. I also had to be ready to take the daring leap to include what I consider a major facet of my work, the spiritual.

I knew too that the many proposal revisions had increasingly brought out my expertise in the subject, and my passion for the project became evident. I believe the publisher liked these qualities, as well as my quick replies. I commend him too, an academic publisher, for not being put off by my audacious inclusion of the spiritual. His responses bolstered my conviction that during the many steps to book production we would have a simpatico relationship.

As I now absorb the miracle of this lightning proposal-to-contract, from under my desk I drag out the carton of materials, and from my computer open the windows of swelling collection of files, notes, and articles. And the work begins.

P.S. A bonus: One of the agents who had complimented the work earlier invited me to keep her informed. On Contract Friday, once I simmered down, I wrote her with the news. She then agreed to represent me! So, my toiling in the agent fields bore serendipitous—and wonderful—fruit!

 

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9. 2014 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 17

For today’s prompt, write an afflicted poem. Someone or something that is afflicted is someone or something that is in a troubled, injured, or humbled state. Or distressed to the point of constant suffering and anguish. In other words, the perfect poem for a Monday, right?

*****

Running out of Time for a Chance at $1,000!

Writer’s Digest has extended the deadline to their Writer’s Digest Poetry Awards competition to November 21. As you may have guessed from the bold statement above, the winner will receive $1,000 cash!

The winning poem will also be published in a future issue of Writer’s Digest magazine. And the winning poet will receive a copy of the 2015 Poet’s Market.

Even poets who don’t win can win, because there are prizes for 2nd through 25th place as well.

Click to learn more.

*****

Here’s my attempt at an Afflicted poem:

“Ultra-Ham”

I have a bad habit of singing random songs
and making up new lyrics–partly because

it’s fun to do and partly because I have a bad
memory–like the Ultraman theme song might

turn into the Ultraham theme song and “Singing
in the Rain” might turn into “Singing in the Pain,”

and it’s really cool at times, but not so cool at others,
especially when I’m trying to focus or be serious

or care about the feelings of others, but then,
I’m afflicted by the smooth voice of Barry White

singing “I Can’t Get Enough of Your Blood, Baby,”
because he’s a vampire, right? And well, it’s sort

of a pain to have to explain the joke when it’s not
even the day for the explanatory poem prompt.

*****

roberttwitterimageRobert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of the poetry collection, Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). He edits Poet’s Market, Writer’s Market, and Guide to Self-Publishing, in addition to writing a free weekly WritersMarket.com newsletter and poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine.

He doesn’t always know what to put in this paragraph, but he still likes trying to change it up from post to post, because, well, why not? He has a sense of humor that only some get, and he’s fine with that.

Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.

*****

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10. 2014 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 16

For today’s prompt, write an explanatory poem. Back when I took dozens of creative writing courses in college, the mantra was, “Show, don’t tell.” Well, today’s prompt is sort of different–in a way–in that it’s a tell poem, or explaining poem, though how and what you explain may vary a great deal.

*****

Submit a Poem for a Chance at $1,000!

Writer’s Digest has extended the deadline to their Writer’s Digest Poetry Awards competition to November 21. As you may have guessed from the bold statement above, the winner will receive $1,000 cash!

The winning poem will also be published in a future issue of Writer’s Digest magazine. And the winning poet will receive a copy of the 2015 Poet’s Market.

Even poets who don’t win can win, because there are prizes for 2nd through 25th place as well.

Click to learn more.

*****

Here’s my attempt at an Explanatory poem:

“I’m not sure how I got here”

I mean, it started with an arcade game over
before picking up Tetris on my Game Boy,

which I played under cover of my blanket fort
wondering about Thor (new and old versions)

and numbers. Now or later, I will dream about
being blinded by the moon and bomb cyclones.

Ultraman doesn’t have these kind of troubles,
or maybe he does–I don’t know. The point is

that I think I’ve been here before in this car–
the back seat–fighting with my siblings, even

though we had the “no fighting” option at our
disposal, and we’d fight over everything,

especially who would be the leader, though
we were always followers–in the back seat–

with our “holey” pants, and speaking of who
set the house on fire, you sure look nice today.

*****

roberttwitterimageRobert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of the poetry collection, Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). He edits Poet’s Market, Writer’s Market, and Guide to Self-Publishing, in addition to writing a free weekly WritersMarket.com newsletter and poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine.

He often has no idea what he’s going to write for these prompts before he writes it. And it often shows. And that’s all right. And it’s fun.

Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.

*****

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11. 2014 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 14

I know many have been able to post with no problems, but if you are having issues–because I’ve received a few reports–please send me an e-mail at robert.brewer@fwcommunity.com, and we’ll work to get it resolved.

For today’s prompt, write a follow poem. In middle school, I remember running for student council and my campaign manager said something to the effect of, “Vote for Robby, because he’s a follower, not a leader.” First thing, yes, they called me Robby in middle school. Second thing, yes, I did not get elected. Third thing, yes, this story is completely personal and pointless. Don’t follow my example.

*****

Submit a Poem for a Chance at $1,000!

Writer’s Digest has extended the deadline to their Writer’s Digest Poetry Awards competition to November 21. As you may have guessed from the bold statement above, the winner will receive $1,000 cash!

The winning poem will also be published in a future issue of Writer’s Digest magazine. And the winning poet will receive a copy of the 2015 Poet’s Market.

Even poets who don’t win can win, because there are prizes for 2nd through 25th place as well.

Click to learn more.

*****

Here’s my attempt at a Follow poem:

“Follow the Leader”

He talked the loudest and knew how
to snap his fingers, so of course
he was their leader, and they would

follow him everywhere, which was
usually nowhere, but it
didn’t matter: He said, “C’mere,”

and they’d come. He’d say, “Jump,” and they’d
ask, “How high?” Which was their downfall,
because when he stomped to the top

of the highest building in town
and tried to see if he could fly
all the others tumbled after.

*****

roberttwitterimageRobert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of the poetry collection, Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). He edits Poet’s Market, Writer’s Market, and Guide to Self-Publishing, in addition to writing a free weekly WritersMarket.com newsletter and poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine.

He believes in following your dreams, following your gut, and following one good line with another. And, then there’s Twitter. Speaking of which…

Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.

*****

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12. What Do Authors Want? Take This Survey To Help Us Out

What do authors want? How are authors faring in this changing publishing landscape? These are questions that need to be answered if we are to help shape the conversation between publishers and authors. That’s why we need your help.

Writer’s Digest and Digital Book World invite all traditionally published, self-published, and aspiring authors to share their experiences by participating in the third annual Author Survey. The survey takes about fifteen minutes or less to complete. The survey results will help us understand the core issues authors face, including their priorities and preferences, their experiences in publishing, and their earnings. Participants in the survey will get a sneak preview of results. Results will be presented at the Digital Book World Conference and Expo in January 2015 and published on the Digital Book World blog as free content. In-depth analysis will also be available for purchase in a comprehensive technical report as well as in a series of briefs designed for authors.

Click here to help us with the survey (and feel free to pass along to all other writers that you know).

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Follow Brian on Twitter: @BrianKlems
Sign up for Brian’s free Writer’s Digest eNewsletter: WD Newsletter
Buy Brian’s book OH BOY, YOU’RE HAVING A GIRL, A DAD’S SURVIVAL GUIDE TO RAISING DAUGHTERS

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13. Your Story 63: Submit Now!

Lost key setPrompt: Write a short story, of 750 words or fewer, based on the photo on the left.

Remember: You can be funny, poignant, witty, etc.; it is, after all, your story.

Use the submission form below OR email your submission directly to yourstorycontest@fwmedia.com.

IMPORTANT: If you experience trouble with the submission form, please email your submission directly to yourstorycontest@fwmedia.com within the body of your email (no attachments please).

Unfortunately, we cannot respond to every entry we receive, due to volume. No confirmation emails will be sent out to confirm receipt of submission. But be assured all submissions received before entry deadline are considered carefully. Official Rules

Entry Deadline: January 14, 2015

Your Story Entry Form

[contact-form-7]

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14. Books Without Boundaries

If Bill Gates said it, I tend to believe it. The software tycoon-turned-philanthropisthas been proven right on just about everything. (If you forget the Zune and that CTRL-ALT-DEL thing.)

At the dawn of the internet, Gates published an essay that started off with this line: “Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet.”

The name of the essay? “Content is King”.

His 1996 prediction – made during the prehistoric online period of dial up modems, AOL and floppy discs – came true. From cat videos to eyewitness reports of government crackdowns– and billions of terabytes of everything in between — ours truly is the age of information on demand. As predicted the revenue followed, from eCommerce purchasing to monetizing traffic through advertising. Over the years Gates’ truism about the value of information has been stated and restated with almost religious fervor.

Yet the explosion of information is only half the story, and that’s where Blue Ash Publishing comes into play. Anyone on the planet has the potential to create the most eloquent, breathtaking, astonishing, even life-changing content. But without an audience – or more precisely the means to reach it — this rich content will never be fully appreciated.

Enter the new king – distribution. Some have likened the concept of distribution as the ‘queen’ to Gates’ king content. To rephrase the slightly sexist expression, in this family it’s the queen who “wears the pants!” Call it what you want — transmitter, network or bullhorn – it’s the vital infrastructure to broadcasting your message. Without distribution there is no discovery — no matter how brilliant the content.

Authors depend on Blue Ash Publishing for self publishing ebooks and many things but especially distribution. We’re the pipeline to help them find their readers. Just last week that pipeline just got a whole lot bigger with millions of potential new readers on the end of the line. Our retail store network leaped from 12 to over 60 retail stores around the globe.

We’ve been covering the majors for years including Amazon, iBooks, Kobo and all the majors. Now our authors’ books are featured in stores such as Spanish eBook giant 24Symbols, Waterstone from the UK and eChristian.com.

One of the reasons authors choose Blue Ash and its distribution engine BookBaby is what I term our “books without boundaries” approach to retail store distribution. We’ve been at the forefront of eBook globalization and for good reason. After all, it’s called the World Wide Web, not the Internet of the United States! The physical logistics of print books didn’t allow for such widespread international audiences for most authors. Digital truly changes everything.

I predict it won’t be long until the international English-language eBook market easily surpasses the US market. Some numbers shared by the Ebook Bargains UK (EBUK) newsletter illustrate why I’m so bullish on the global market.

blueashThinking about self-publishing? Blue Ash Publishing (a division of Writer’s Digest)
can provide all the tools and know-how you need to properly write, publish and
sell your book. Whether it’s digital publishing or print, Blue Ash has you
covered—and it’s completely customizable.
Click here for more details.

Let’s span the globe According to EBUK, there’s upwards of 75 million English speakers in the Philippines as we’ve mentioned already. Over 40 million English speakers in Germany. 30 million in Bangladesh. 30 million in Egypt. 25 million in France. 20 million in Italy. 17 million in Thailand. 15 million in the Netherlands. 15 million in South Africa. 12 million in Poland.12 million in Turkey. 11 million in Iraq. 10 million in Spain.

In just India, Pakistan and Nigeria, the number of English-speakers exceeds the entire population of the United States! Then there’s Brazil, Sweden, Kenya, Cameroon, Malaysia, Russia, Belgium, Israel, Zimbabwe, Romania, Austria and Greece, all with between 5 and 10 million English speakers each. That all adds up a lot of potential readers in every corner of the planet. Blue Ash Publishing is your ticket to get your book out there.

Whether you’re ready to take that journey now or need some inspiration, we’ve put together a helpful new guide to get your through the process. It’s called Self Publishing 101: The Quick Start Guide for Writers. It’s FREE from your friends at Blue Ash and you’ll gain knowledge about such critical issues as:

  • Proven eBook pricing strategies and tactics
  • Why authors can’t skimp on editing or cover design
  • How metadata is vital to your online sales success

Whether you’re a rookie or an experienced pro in the eBook world Blue Ash Publishing’s newest guide has something for everyone who needs ideas how to create, price, sell and how to promote your eBook.

Click here for your free download.

 

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15. What Writing Expenses Are Tax Deductible?

tax-deductions-for-writersI’ve been writing for a couple of years now, both working on a novel and doing some freelance work. What might be considered business expenses that I can deduct on my taxes? —Kaley A.

The writing business is like any other business, and that means you get the benefit of business-related tax breaks. If you’re a writer and are earning money from your writing (or are at least trying to earn money from it), you can deduct most materials related to your writing venture. This includes pens, paper, printing costs, postage and other writing supplies (though not snacks such as nacho-cheese-flavored Doritos, even if you get your cheesy fingerprints on the supplies—trust me, I’ve tried!).

Other deductible expenses that you should keep receipts for include writing-related travel costs, conference admissions, writing group or association fees, and business lunches—such as when you’re interviewing someone over lunch or dining with a potential client. Research materials (all those books, magazines and newspapers, huzzah!) are deductible, too. You may also deduct items such as a new computer or printer, though you may have to amortize the equipment deduction over a couple of years, so it’s best to consult with a professional tax preparer on those types of purchases.

Also, it’s important to note that if you claim your writing as a business, the IRS expects you to start making money after a couple of years. So if you’re making minimal money, for tax purposes you may only be able to claim your work as a hobby, which would allow you to deduct expenses only up to the amount of income you’ve made from writing.

The key to tallying tax deductions for writing-related business expenses is to keep receipts and records for everything. That way, if you’re ever audited, you’ll have the documentation to back it up.

But, if you’re ever in doubt, consult a professional tax preparer.

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16. 2014 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 11

Today is a Tuesday–so “2 for Tuesday” prompt time. Here they are:

  1. Write a timely poem.
  2. Write a timeless poem.

*****

Write the Poem That Wins $1,000!

Writer’s Digest has extended the deadline to their Writer’s Digest Poetry Awards competition to November 21. As you may have guessed from the bold statement above, the winner will receive $1,000 cash!

The winning poem will also be published in a future issue of Writer’s Digest magazine. And the winning poet will receive a copy of the 2015 Poet’s Market.

Even poets who don’t win can win, because there are prizes for 2nd through 25th place as well.

Click to learn more.

*****

Here’s my attempt at a Timely and/or Timeless poem:

“Deja Vu”

Feels like I’ve been here before,
written here before, seen you
before, and it’s awkward being

here again, writing here again,
seeing you again, and not knowing
if I’ve been here before, written

here before, seen you before,
and well, you know, or you don’t.

*****

roberttwitterimageRobert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of the poetry collection, Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). He edits Poet’s Market, Writer’s Market, and Guide to Self-Publishing, in addition to writing a free weekly WritersMarket.com newsletter and poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine.

He has no idea what he’s going to write each day, but he writes anyway, because that’s how he rolls.

Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.

*****

Find more poetic goodies here:

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17. Writer’s Block: Avoiding the Struggles of NaNoWriMo

At this point in the month of November, if you’ve stayed honest and true to your daily word count, you should be a third of the way to your 50,000 word goal. If you’re not, that’s still totally fine. There’s a lot of ways to pick up the pace on your word count, even on the go.

Moreover, you’ll want to pick up the pace and keep writing because the inevitable stumbling blocks await. And, during NaNoWriMo, you don’t necessarily have the luxury of waiting to break out of a dreaded period of Writer’s Block. You have to force your way out of it, especially if you’ve slacked in recent days.

How do you overcome issues and problems you run into in your writing? How do you do it during NaNoWriMo or when you’re on deadline? Do you have a trick to making sure you churn out a certain number of words? Share your techniques and ideas in the comments, because you never know when you could help out another struggling writer!

Have you missed any of the other posts in our NaNoWriMo blogging series? Be sure to check the others out:

Question: Have you run into any stumbling blocks this week? If so, how did you overcome them, and how will you avoid them in the future? 


Natania Barron: Life has a sense of humor, to be sure. I’ve been going along quite nicely until this [past] weekend, and while it hasn’t been enough of a stumbling block to knock me completely off course, I’ve lost a little momentum. First, I ran out of plot. I’m not sure when this happened, but having abandoned my typical approach of just hoping things fall in line, working with Jonathan has meant that I have to keep to a script more or less. So I stalled a bit and had to go back to the drawing board.

Then came a foot injury. I’ve been trying to maintain 10k steps a day on my Fitbit while doing NaNoWriMo. Let’s just say there was a run-in with a flying object [Sunday] morning, and it meant that I was off my feet for the majority of the day. While you’d think that would have given me plenty of time to write, the pain was a bit more intense than I bargained for. So, instead of words, it was lots of crochet.

I still plan to make my word count for the day, and I’m still tracking ahead (aiming for a 1,600 word minimum) but it’s definitely not coming as easily as it has before!


Rachael Herron: The only stumbling block I’ve run into this week is not quite living up to MY goals. I’m trying to Reverse NaNo (in which you do the majority of the words upfront and early so the end of the month is easier), but I’m a good 3,000 behind that goal. That said, I’m still ahead of the “real” goal, so the ability/desire to slack off has gotten stronger and more alluring. Take a day off, that pretty voice says. You deserve to relax, it whispers. It also tells me we need extra fuel for NaNo, and therefore sugar is on the November menu. I can’t really disagree with that. 


Nikki Hyson: The first six days were one gigantic stumbling block. Work just chewed me up and spit out what remnants of energy I had at the end of the day. I managed to write for an hour on November 1st but then didn’t touch it again until I got off work—9a.m. of the 6th. Knowing I was about 10k in the hole, I let everyone at home know I would be alternating naps with writing for the next 2 days. I have managed to close the gap, closing in on 8k when I should be touching 12k. There will be a lot of long days ahead and very little TV, Internet, or the myriad of “time sucks” out there. If I need to research something I’ll put an asterisk beside it for December. How can I avoid this next year? Hmm. Last year it was a backed up septic system that kicked off the first week of NaNo. “The best laid plans of mice and men…”


Regina Kammer: Names! I had established all the names for my main characters. Well, I thought I had. I ended up hating the original surname for my main characters (a married couple). It just did not trip off the tongue as much as I liked. And then suddenlyas is usual though, so I really should be prepared for this by now!all sorts of characters appeared. Servants, relatives, friends, people I should have had names for all along but was too lazy when I did my outline. And to add insult to injury (so to speak), since I’m writing a Victorian novel involving British aristocratic characters, many of them have to have multiple names, e.g., “Reginald Aristocrat, Viscount Snobber, called Snobby by his close friends” or what have you.

Sometimes I just ignore the need for a name and just write [name] as a placeholder. But sometimes I’m compelled to come up with a name or else the plot will just get too complicated. I have been keeping a running list of potential character names for a couple of years now, and every time I use one I cross it off the list with a note about which book it was used in (since I write series, this is crucial). I have last names and first names on the list (not enough first names, I admit).

I also crowd-source my names by encouraging my friends via Facebook to post name suggestions. I have actually used some of the suggestions in my books (“Mason” the butler in The Pleasure Device was such a name). If anybody reading this wants to post Victorian-appropriate names to my Twitter feed or Facebook author page, please feel free to do so!


 

November/December 2014 Writer's Digest

 The November/December 2014 issue of Writer’s Digest
has tips, techniques, and a wealth of resources to help you hit
your goal of 50,000 words during the month of November.


Kathy Kitts: This week has been routine, and I am grateful!

However, before I retired, I was a college geology professor and had to do NaNo while putting in some vicious hours. (One year I had a NASA mission in flight, a couple of grants to administer, several grad students, and a full course load.) So I learned to plan ahead.

I scheduled my class assignments in such a way as to have all the big projects due the third week of October. I’d grade like a madman and get it all done in time for Halloween. My students would pen new choruses for the song “Oh Poor, Poor Pitiful Me,” claiming they didn’t have enough time to properly prepare. But when November rolled around, and I was the only faculty member who didn’t ruin their Thanksgiving with a semester project, I suddenly achieved minor godhood. Each fall I had half a dozen come to my office and thank me for thinking of them and altering my schedule for them. I smiled graciously and said, “You’re welcome.” What I didn’t say was that my schedule had nothing to do with their sorry behinds. It was all about NaNoWriMo. Gotta keep the priorities straight.


Kristen Rudd: I started to run out of steam last weekI watched my word count slowly dwindle each day, falling further and further below the daily word count. I didn’t write at all on Saturday, and now I’m behind where I should be. My husband was away on a business trip, so it was just me and the kids. I found it so much harder to both make the time to write, then when I did, to not be completely brain-dead.

So now I have to make up for it by writing over the daily word count. Which, pressure, you know? It’s one thing to write over just because, but now that I have to in order to catch up? Lots of people say you don’t have to write the 50,000 words to really win at NaNo, but come on. Those are the people who have never done it.

The good news is that I learned I can write 1,100 words between 11:35 p.m. and 11:59. I don’t know that they’re good words, but hey. They’re written. C’est la vie.

Once I can start putting words on the page, I can put words on the page. That’s not really my problem. Where I struggle isn’t so much with my inner editor as it is with my inner outliner. I don’t have the luxury of time to hang out with her right now, and she keeps running up to me, her arms in Muppet flails, yelling, “Wait, wait! You don’t know where this is going! You haven’t fleshed out this character! What about your subplot?” When I ignore her, she gets really sulky and critical, points out all my writing flaws, cries, and then starts drinking. She’s totally fun at parties.


EJ Runyon: Not this week, but I’m sure I may hit snags later in the month. I’m high on the several days of creating now; me going over my daily 1,667 words daily is a hoot. Sure, that always lags a bit once the first NaNo blush fades. The good thing is that you don’t need that high, we just love the feel of it. We love racking up the Word Count. Who wouldn’t?

I’ll overcome [a stumbling block] (when it hits) by meeting a daily word goal and letting go of the overachievment. That’s easy enough to do, day by day. So I’m cool with the stumbling blocks of slowing down during some weeks until I revv back up again. It’s all about not believing we need to burn so hot for the entire 30 days.


Jessica Schley: My main stumbling block is always getting down to writing when I’m tired or there are other things going on. Since I travelled this weekend for my dad’s birthday, there were lots of other things going on! I’m a little behind on my word count as a result.

My combat technique? A timer. I used to use the software Write Or Die to get me through tough patches of writing—having something eating your words if you go too slowly is a great motivator. But over time I learned that it wasn’t the word-eating but really just the timer that was keeping me going. 25wpm is a fast, but sustainable writing pace for me over a half hour, so I set a 30 minute kitchen timer, and shoot to hit 250, 500, and 750 words at 10, 20, and 30 minutes. Then I take a short break and repeat. If I can do that, I can crank all but about 167 words in a little over an hourand that’s an amount of time that’s actually pretty easy to find in a day.

*     *     *     *     *

Book in a MonthIf you make time to write and put away all of your excuses, could you stay on track and finish your novel in only a month? With a structured plan and a focused goal, yes, you can!

Using a combination of flexible weekly schedules, clear instruction, and detailed worksheets, author Victoria Lynn Schmidt leads you through a proven 30-day novel-writing system without the intimidation factor. Book in a Month shows you how to:

  • Set realistic goals and monitor your progress
  • Manage your time so that your writing life has room to flourish
  • Select a story topic that will continue to inspire you throughout the writing process
  • Quickly outline your entire story so that you have a clear idea of how your plot and characters are going to develop before you start writing
  • Draft each act of your story by focusing on specific turning points
  • Keep track of the areas you want to revise without losing your momentum in the middle of your story
  • Relax and have fun—you are, after all, doing something you love

Cris Freese is the associate editor of Writer’s Digest Books.

 

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18. 2014 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 10

I don’t know why, but November always seems to move faster than every other month. Here we are on the 10th day of this challenge, and it feels like we just started.

For today’s prompt, take the phrase “(blank) Trouble,” replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and write the poem. Possible titles include: “Big Trouble,” “Double Trouble,” and “That Guy Is Trouble.” I hope you don’t have too much trouble getting started.

*****

One Poem Will Win $1,000!

Writer’s Digest has extended the deadline to their Writer’s Digest Poetry Awards competition to November 21. As you may have guessed from the bold statement above, the winner will receive $1,000 cash!

The winning poem will also be published in a future issue of Writer’s Digest magazine. And the winning poet will receive a copy of the 2015 Poet’s Market.

Even poets who don’t win can win, because there are prizes for 2nd through 25th place as well.

Click to learn more.

*****

Here’s my attempt at a Blank Trouble poem:

“Ultraman Trouble”

The problem is not Ultraman
or his various adversaries
or even the gratuitous destruction they create

rather
it’s the catchy theme song
that crashes around my brain

knocking loose the rhythms of my mind.

*****

roberttwitterimageRobert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of the poetry collection, Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). He edits Poet’s Market, Writer’s Market, and Guide to Self-Publishing, in addition to writing a free weekly WritersMarket.com newsletter and poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine.

He has listened to the Ultraman theme song more than a few times too many over the past year. He doesn’t advise it, but if you’re curious, you can listen to the theme song too–by clicking here.

Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.

*****

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19. 2014 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 6

Yesterday, I learned the theme was changing on the WritersDigest.com website. It’s not supposed to create any technical difficulties with posting or anything. However, if you run into problems, just send me an e-mail at robert.brewer@fwcommunity.com. Happy poeming!

For today’s prompt, write a happy now poem. There are a few ways to come at this prompt. For instance, I could think something along the lines of, “I am happy now.” Or I could spin it another way with, “Am I happy now?” Or project outwards, “Are you happy now?” Of course, the emphasis could be on the word “happy” or the word “now.” I hope everyone finds happiness with their poeming now.

*****

$1,000 Could Be Yours!

Writer’s Digest has extended the deadline to their Writer’s Digest Poetry Awards competition to November 21. As you may have guessed from the bold statement above, the winner will receive $1,000 cash!

The winning poem will also be published in a future issue of Writer’s Digest magazine. And the winning poet will receive a copy of the 2015 Poet’s Market.

Even poets who don’t win can win, because there are prizes for 2nd through 25th place as well.

Click to learn more.

*****

Here’s my attempt at a Happy Now poem:

“Now or Later”

I’ll be a happy tater
because I’ve been through enough
to know that low can always

be lower, that slow can be
slower, and no one owes you
anything. So I’ll take now

or later, alligator,
and I will smile for awhile,
crocodile, because I’ll live

longer that way, and if not
longer, at least happier,
because the worst kind of pain

is always self-inflicted.

*****

roberttwitterimageRobert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of the poetry collection, Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). He edits Poet’s Market, Writer’s Market, and Guide to Self-Publishing, in addition to writing a free weekly WritersMarket.com newsletter and poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine.

He has a few lucky numbers, though none have ever helped him win the lottery. So they’re lucky numbers, sure, but also kinda worthless in a monetary sense (or cents).

Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.

*****

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20. A Book in 30 Days: What Writers Can Learn From Rapid Publishing

https://www.flickr.com/photos/katiekrueger/2351656805/in/photolist-4zNRCZ-5h2Q8H-4AHgwP

“Fast Fingers” by Katie Kreuger via Flickr. (Creative Commons licensed image)

BY AMANDA L. BARBARA

The Internet has brought about a new age of experimentation in publishing, and stepping into the literary laboratory is the prolific storytelling duo, Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant.

The authors’ recent project, “Fiction Unboxed,” was a crowdfunded experiment in writing and publishing a book live in 30 days. Platt’s and Truant’s goal was to give aspiring authors and fans of their popular podcast a look behind the curtain at their writing process.

Platt and Truant are no strangers to writing quickly. They wrote more than 1.5 million words in a year and continue to publish fiction at a breakneck pace.

For “Fiction Unboxed,” they started without any characters, a plot, or even a genre in mind and careened into publishing a book in front of a live audience. This project had nearly 1,000 backers and overfunded at $65,535. Backers got to see the authors’ story meetings, watch them hammer out the plot, write, and edit the final draft.

It’s easy to see the appeal in writing a book quickly. Platt’s and Truant’s method meant they could start earning revenue from their published book right away and get to work on their next project.

But what about the average writer who isn’t used to cranking out a story at such a fast pace? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of rapid writing.

The Benefits of Writing Fast

There are a number of potential rewards to producing and publishing quickly, including:

  • Reader engagement. “Fiction Unboxed” generated an enormous amount of engagement among indie authors, the duo’s nonfiction audience. But even for fiction writers, publishing quickly can help maintain readers’ interest in your work. The New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout has cultivated an enormous fan base due to her ability to quickly produce more of the books her readers love on an accelerated timeline.
  • Exposure. Doing something out of the ordinary is a great way to get noticed as an author. Platt and Truant used their writing process to create a highly shareable and marketable product that gained a lot of attention simply because it had never been done before.
  • Momentum. Writing quickly obviously helps you produce more work, but it also helps you gain traction from a publishing and marketing perspective. The more you publish, the more chances readers have to discover your work, and a new title can provide a boost to your entire catalogue.

Potential Drawbacks of Rapid Production

While there are a number of benefits to writing and publishing quickly, Platt and Truant are experienced writers who understand the publishing process. They know what they can reasonably accomplish, and they have a team in place to help with other aspects of book production, such as audio and cover design. 

Producing a book in 30 days probably wouldn’t work for a less experienced writer. If you’re thinking of giving yourself an ambitious deadline, proceed with caution to avoid these pitfalls:

  • Lower quality: The duo’s final product, a YA Steampunk novel called “The Dream Engine,” has a 4.8 rating on Amazon. But for new authors, a tight deadline may not leave enough time for professional editing and cover design, which could result in a lackluster book.
  • Public failure: “Fiction Unboxed” was a risky endeavor. What if they hadn’t completed the project? What if the book flopped?

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While you shouldn’t let fear hold you back as a writer, always consider how readers will receive your book.

“Fiction Unboxed” was a fun experiment, but the underlying message isn’t that you should try to write a book in 30 days. Platt and Truant wanted to show writers that storytelling doesn’t have to be a painful process and that with practice, good stories can be written quickly.

Most importantly, you have to do the work. Platt and Truant haven’t produced so many books by sitting around waiting for inspiration to strike — they’ve done it by hitting their word count day after day. Hard work is something they stressed in the book that inspired the project and in “Fiction Unboxed” itself.

There’s no one process that works for every author, but you shouldn’t be afraid to try new things. Just keep writing, and the words will come.  


Amanda BarbaraAmanda L. Barbara is vice president of Pubslush, a global crowdfunding publishing platform for the literary world. This platform is bridging the gap between writers, readers, publishers and industry leaders. Follow Amanda on Twitter and Google+.

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21. Tips for Drafting Dialogue: Starting Rough

In the January 2015 Writer’s Digest, contributing editor and award-winning novelist Elizabeth Sims shares simple and effective techniques for polished character conversations in her article “How to Craft Flawless Dialogue.” Here, in this bonus online exclusive sidebar, she outlines her method for getting it written, then getting it right.

If you’re the kind of writer who prefers to cut and polish after your first draft is done, here are a few tips to ease you over the uncertainties of dialogue:

 

  • If, as you’re writing, a whole bunch of dialogue spurts from your pen, let it flow, even if you’re worried it’s too much or awful. Let it out; get it down no matter what.

 

  • Opposite that, sometimes you know you need a great bit of dialogue here, but nothing’s coming to you. Just summarize and move on, knowing you’ll get back to it. Nancy tells Levi to buzz off. A sentence like this can serve as a summary of a whole breakup scene; all you need is the gist.

 

  • When it comes time to flesh out that conversation, jot down what needs to be said, scene by scene. Try making mini lists with bullet points:
    • Doug learns from Emily that Jasmine has a long police record.
    • Auto theft? Prostitution?
    • He argues to keep Jasmine in the gang anyway.
    • Outstanding warrants?
  • If a whole conversation seems like overkill for what you need to convey in the scene, you can let your narrator summarize, and add a line or two of talk.

 

When Emily and Doug met for dinner that night, she told him about Jasmine’s rap sheet. It was impressively long, she noted, peering at him over her wineglass, including grand larceny and soliciting. But that didn’t dampen his enthusiasm for keeping Jasmine on the burglary team. They needed her.

“As long as there’s no outstanding warrants against her, we’ll be OK,” he said, stabbing a chunk of steak. “Are there any?”

 

 

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22. Throw a Revision Party

In the “Revising Out Loud” Inkwell article in the January 2015 Writer’s Digest, author and playwright Joe Stollenwerk offers an interesting alternative to quietly revising your work alone—by having friends and colleagues read your work aloud over food, drink and good company. Here, he shares another method of testing your writing’s mettle.

Reading Published Work
It is tremendously beneficial to read well-written published work aloud. If you are in a writing group, you might select some passages from published novels, nonfiction, poetry, etc., to read aloud and discuss as part of your get-togethers.

I recommend making a selection based on an element of writing that you want to focus on. This might be dialogue, or first chapters, or figurative language. It might be action or romance scenes.

If your writing group decides to take this on, I recommend choosing a selection ahead of time, something that is short enough to be read aloud during part of your group meeting, but long enough to accomplish what you are hoping it will do for the group. Have everyone read it ahead of time so that the reading aloud is not the first time the group has read it.

You might want to designate someone to lead discussion, or at least start it off, with a few pointed questions for the group to reflect on regarding this scene or passage.


WDJan15

If you enjoyed this helpful revision tip, be sure to check out the feature-length article “Revising Out Loud”—full of outside-the-box methods for whipping your WIP into shape—in the January 2015 Writer’s Digest.

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23. How I Got My Literary Agent: Vicki Leigh

“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Vicki Leigh, author of CATCH ME WHEN I FALL. These columns are great ways for you to learn how to find a literary agent. Some tales are of long roads and many setbacks, while others are of good luck and quick signings. If you have a literary agent and would be interested in writing a short guest column for this GLA blog, e-mail me at literaryagent@fwmedia.com and we’ll talk specifics.

GIVEAWAY: Vicki is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Please note that comments may take a little while to appear; this is normal).

 

Screen Shot 2014-11-05 at 3.26.21 PM       Screen Shot 2014-11-05 at 3.26.09 PM

Adopted at three days old by a construction worker and a stay-at-home mom,
Vicki Leigh grew up in a small suburb of Akron, Ohio where she learned to read
by the age of four and considered being sent to her room for punishment as an
opportunity to dive into another book. If she couldn’t be a writer, Vicki would be a
Hunter (think Dean and Sam Winchester) or a Jedi. Her favorite place on earth is
Hogwarts (she refuses to believe it doesn’t exist), and her favorite dreams include
solving cases alongside Sherlock Holmes. Vicki is an editor for Curiosity Quills
Press, and is represented
by Sarah Negovetich of Corvisiero Literary Agency.
You can find her on Twitter,
Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, and YouTube. Her first novel
is CATCH ME WHEN I FALL (Oct 2014), book one of the Dreamcatcher series.

 

 

My road to finding my agent is a bit different than most, an exciting journey that took me to cloud nine with a terrible bout of whiplash. I took a route that many might not recommend, a risky one that could’ve had catastrophic consequences. But let’s start at the beginning.

ONCE UPON A TIME

In January 2013, the idea sparked for my upcoming Young Adult debut, CATCH ME WHEN I FALL. I’d shelved one story by this point, having received multiple rejections for what I now realize was a horrible manuscript, and was anxious to begin something new. As someone who suffered from vicious nightmares, writing from the point of view of a character who protects the living from them was both exciting and therapeutic. For seven months, I poured my heart and soul into my book, and after multiple rounds of revising via the help of my fantastic critique partners, I sent out my first queries.

(What are the best practices for using social-media to sell books?)

BREAK INTO TWO

In July 2013, a week after I emailed my first group of agents, a fairly well-known pitch fest began—PitchMAS. When the event opened to entries, I quickly sent in mine, hoping that maybe, by some fluke, my manuscript would stand out amongst all the other fantastic ones. For weeks, I obsessively watched my email, received a couple rejections from the agents I’d queried, and then something amazing happened: out of all the people who entered PitchMAS, my book was chosen to be featured on the website, on display for agents and editors to see.

I stalked my entry like an overprotective parent watches their kid on the playground. Partials and fulls were requested of me by agents and editors alike, and by the time PitchMAS ended, my entry had the most requests in the entire contest.

DARK OF THE NIGHT

But as it is with every story, my happy ending wasn’t without thorn bushes. Of the eleven or twelve agents and editors I sent materials to, the majority of them passed. Rejections came rolling in from the rest of the agents I’d cold queried prior to PitchMAS, and soon, my jubilant mood dampened.

Then I received a Revise and Resubmit from Alison Heller, an acquisitions editor at Curiosity Quills Press. I absorbed her notes like paper towel soaks up water, and applied all her suggested changes, including re-writing my ending.

And she loved it.

(Why you should only query 6-8 agents at a time.)

By November 2013, I had a contract from Curiosity Quills Press. But when I scanned through the document, my heart raced. How was I supposed to know what I was doing? I’d never seen a publishing contract before. Immediately, I knew I couldn’t do this on my own.

That night, I emailed Alison to let her know I was interested but would like to seek assistance in negotiating the contract, and then I emailed a few more agents—including Sarah Negovetich, the lovely lady who would become my publishing soul mate.

HAPPILY EVER AFTER

Within just a few days, I heard from Sarah. She loved my query and wanted to read my full manuscript. I kept Alison abreast of the timeline and held my breath as I waited to for Sarah’s response. Would she love it, or would I have to do this alone, after all?

Then a few days later, Sarah replied: “I’d like to set up a call.”

Cue fainting spell.

For probably an hour, Sarah and I chatted. She had loved my book, and she told me all the reasons why. Then she asked questions like: what I planned for the rest of the series, what other story ideas were waiting to be written, and where I saw my career in the next five to ten years. But through the whole conversation, I couldn’t stop thinking: Sarah hasn’t actually said she wants to represent me.

I was so nervous; my words didn’t come out—people who know me well can attest that I’m usually very bold and opinionated—and the fear that she’d think I’d be boring to work with sprung to mind, intensifying my anxiety.

But something I’ve learned about agents since: they love to talk. By the end of our conversation, when she finally did offer me representation, I knew Sarah was the one for me.

THE END

Every path is different, and no way is the best one. Would I recommend querying agents and editors at the same time? Maybe not. But I don’t regret it for one minute, because, while it was terrifying not knowing whether my adventure would end in success or failure, my choice brought me to Sarah—and made one of my biggest dreams come true.

Be confident. Never give up. And never be afraid to put yourself out there. Value ingenuity. You never know where it’ll lead.

GIVEAWAY: Vicki is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Please note that comments may take a little while to appear; this is normal).

 

2015-CWIM-smallWriting books/novels for kids & teens? There are hundreds
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Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:

 

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media, public speaking, article writing, branding,
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Order the book from WD at a discount.

 

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24. 2014 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 8

Sorry, early risers! I slept in a little this morning.

For today’s prompt, write a blind poem. Three blind mice, blindfolded, “she blinded me with science,” “houston in the blind,” and so on. Maybe this is the one poem you try to write with your eyes closed.

*****

Write a Poem for a Chance at $1,000!

Writer’s Digest has extended the deadline to their Writer’s Digest Poetry Awards competition to November 21. As you may have guessed from the bold statement above, the winner will receive $1,000 cash!

The winning poem will also be published in a future issue of Writer’s Digest magazine. And the winning poet will receive a copy of the 2015 Poet’s Market.

Even poets who don’t win can win, because there are prizes for 2nd through 25th place as well.

Click to learn more.

*****

Here’s my attempt at a Blind poem:

“Blinded”

by the light of the moon
reflecting off your eyes
in the heart of my swoon
that releases the sighs

of a thousand balloons
in the dead of the night
enveloped in your gloom
but still feeling all right

*****

roberttwitterimageRobert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of the poetry collection, Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). He edits Poet’s Market, Writer’s Market, and Guide to Self-Publishing, in addition to writing a free weekly WritersMarket.com newsletter and poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine.

When he has nothing better to say, he turns to rhymes and romance–and usually a touch of abstraction.

Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.

*****

Find more poetic goodies here:

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25. New Literary Agent Alert: Rebecca Scherer of Jane Rotrosen Agency

Reminder: New literary agents (with this spotlight featuring Rebecca Scherer of Jane Rotrosen Agency) are golden opportunities for new writers because each one is a literary agent who is likely building his or her client list.

 

rebecca-scherer-literary-agent

 

About Rebecca: Unable to narrow her focus to just one subject, Rebecca Scherer earned her BA from the Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College in Political Science, English Lit, and German language. After several years at the agency, Rebecca now has daily opportunities to put her wide range of interests to use as she actively builds her client list. Find her on Twitter: @RebeccaLScherer.

She is seeking: women’s fiction, mystery, suspense/thriller, romance, upmarket fiction at the cross between commercial and literary

How to contact: Contact her via e-mail: rscherer [at] janerotrosen.com. Put “Query: [Title]” in the subject line. Send a query letter, brief synopsis (1-2) pages, and the first three chapters. Please paste the letter and synopsis in the body of the email, though the chapters can either be pasted or attached.

2015-GLA-smallThe biggest literary agent database anywhere
is the Guide to Literary Agents. Pick up the
most recent updated edition online at a discount.

 

Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:

 

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