Are You a Positive or Negative Writer

A little while back, my friend Hugh, from the blog Hugh’s Views and News, asked me if I’d like to write a guest post for his new “Ladies & Gentlemen, meet…” feature. I was honored by his request and happily accepted his invitation.

Below, you’ll find my guest post. Hugh encouraged me to write about whatever I wanted (my blog, my writing, my life). I decided to delve into a topic that has been bothering me for months. Hopefully you’ll be able to take something away from it!

Thank you, Hugh, for including me in your new feature and spurring me to share my thoughts on this matter. I encourage everyone to visit his blog. It’s one of my favorites!


Whenever someone asks me what I do for a living, I like to say, “I work in the Industry of Rejection.”

Let’s face it. Being a writer–especially one with lofty aspirations of making the New York Times Bestseller list–is tough. Not only do you willingly open yourself up to a world of cynics, naysayers, and Debbie Downers, but you get so used to hearing the word “No”, you forget the meaning of “Yes”.

But, that’s what we all dream of hearing, isn’t it? “Yes”? Yes from an agent. Yes from a publisher. Yes from readers! That’s why we put up with “the Industry of Rejection”. We all hope to one day achieve our goals. To receive “the call” from a literary agent. To walk past a stranger reading our book. To host a book signing. To receive another call about our next book being published…

The “dream list” goes on and on. And, some days, that’s all that gets me through the business’s negative muck and mire.

But, there’s something else–something more tangible than hopes and dreams–that pulls me through the “No, no, no!” sludge:

Other writers.

Up until the fall of 2013, I only interacted with two other writers…Yep, that’s it. Two! Then I created my blog, hopped on Twitter, and entered an NYC Midnight writing challenge–and boom! My writing world blew up. Suddenly, I had dozens of writing pals from around the world, all of them positive, supportive, and helpful. I went from working alone and feeling alone, to being embraced by those swimming through the same Negative Ocean as me.

Honestly, I don’t know how I survived so long without those lifesavers to keep me afloat.

Yet, throughout the past two years, I’ve encountered other types of writers, ones who haven’t been so positive, supportive, or helpful. In fact, they’ve been the complete opposite.

The Basher

“I don’t know why so many people like your story. It sucks.”

Just because you don’t like a story doesn’t mean you have to bash it to pieces. Find ways to tactfully explain why a story doesn’t work for you. Is it the plot? The characters? Perhaps the writing itself needs work? Whatever the problem, be specific and help writers improve their work. Don’t demean it. That doesn’t help anyone. Plus, it makes you look like a jerk (or worse).

The One Upper

“Who cares if you optioned your story to a Hollywood production company? I’ve self-published five novels and I just got an agent to help me publish my sixth!”

Well, bully for you! And thank you for congratulating me on my hard-earned success…Sheesh! As competitive as we can be, there’s no need to try and outshine each other. When another writer tells you their success story, stifle your “Oh, yeah?” impulse and celebrate with them.

And, trust me, you’ll get a chance to talk about yourself in the future. For now, rejoice with the other writer and remember: “Yes!” is a rare word in this industry. Let a writer revel in it when it happens.  

The Righter

“You have to outline before you start writing. It’s the right way–the only way!”

News alert: There’s no right way to write. Sure, there’s basic grammar and whatnot, but the rest of it? All up to the individual writer. So don’t judge others for their methods of madness. If something works, then it works…And if something doesn’t, well, the writer will likely ask you for advice.

The Eye for an Eye-r

“You didn’t like my story? Oh, well. Whatever. I didn’t like yours either. In fact, I connected with it so little, I gave up after the first page.”

There are hundreds of ways to handle criticism: Venting in private. Crying in your car. Stuffing your face with Peanut M&M’s…But there’s one definite way you should not handle it: Rejecting the feedback and attacking the writer who wrote it.

Not only does retaliation make you look classless and immature, but it also alienates you from other writers. I mean, who wants to work with a writer who’ll blow up every time they receive constructive criticism? No, thanks.

My advice? If you can’t stomach responding with a polite, “Thank you for your honest opinion”, then don’t respond at all.

Every time I encounter one of the writers listed above, I’m torn between sadness and fury. I just don’t get it. We already have to put up with so much negativity from the rest of the industry. Why should we add to the burden by being negative with each other? By stomping and pushing and crushing each other? This isn’t The Hunger Games!

This is our hopes and dreams. Although we might be going to war on the same battlefield, our fight isn’t with each other. It’s with fulfilling our personal goals.

So, the next time you interact with another writer, I encourage you to be positive, supportive, and helpful. If they pen a great story, applaud them.If they announce they’ve received a book deal, celebrate with them. If they explain their unique writing process, listen and keep an open mind–maybe even try one of their methods to see if it works for you? And if they give you constructive criticism, accept it with grace.

Whatever you do, don’t be a writer who knocks other writers down. It will only make you look bad…And it will, obviously, make others feel bad.

If anything, remember this: Nobody can understand you like another writer can. The highs and lows. The hours–weeks–years of hard work. The fears and doubts. The hopes and dreams. So, don’t alienate yourself by being “The Basher”, “The One Upper”, “The Righter”, or “The Eye for an Eye-r”. Be positive, supportive, and helpful! If you do that, then you’ll have a much better chance of surviving the Industry of Rejection.

We all will.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 454 other followers

Photo Credits:

 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Confession: Rejection Has Made Me Stronger

So, 2015 hasn’t gotten off to the best start for me. Since January 1st, life has punched me in the gut more than a few times. I won’t go into details, but things have been rough lately–emotionally and financially. And it seems every time I regain my balance, something else happens and I’m knocked down again.

Last week, during a conversation with my family, I threw my hands up in the air and declared, “That’s it! The only way I can handle the negative is by being positive.”

Right after I said that, it hit me: My writing and alllll the rejection that has come with it has made me a stronger person.

Yes, as strange as it sounds, rejection has strengthened me. Years and years of “No!” from agents, publishers, and readers has made me more determined, more resilient, and more optimistic.

How, you ask? Well, let me explain.

Big dreams take a lot of work, a lot of patience, and a lot of perseverance. Every day, you’re forced to find “the light at the end of the tunnel,” even when there isn’t one. When your tank runs out of gas, you have to keep trucking along. When you get knocked down, the only thing you can do is pick yourself back up and fight ten times harder.

And it’s that “never say die” attitude that has gradually seeped into the rest of my life: Family. Work. Relationships. Finances. Health. When the going gets tough, I get tougher. When things around me fall apart, I pull them back together. When every possible solution fails, I find another–or make one up and pray to God it works.

Honestly, if I hadn’t heard “No!” again and again during my long writing journey, I wouldn’t be who I am today, I’d crumble easier, I’d lose hope faster, and I’d constantly get bogged down in the past and refuse to look to the future.

So, let me reassure all of you who are feeling down and out because you’ve received yet another “Thanks, but no thanks” response to a query letter, or a bad review, or some other form of “No!”

It’s okay.

Really.

I know rejection hurts–a lot. But, I promise, it will make you stronger in the long run. Whether you’re aware of it or not, every “No!” will thicken your skin, fuel your determination, and teach you the fine art of optimism.

And, before you know it, those valuable traits will carry over into all aspects of your life.

…Especially those “punch in the gut” moments that drop you to your knees and try to keep you down. Thanks to rejection, you’ll have the strength to get back up and keep moving. Keep fighting. Keep hoping.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 454 other followers

Photo credits: 

1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Five Free Author Gifts For Christmas.

Oh we writers, what we don’t want for Christmas that we think would help our writer’s cause would fill a coffee cup, which is actually on the list of things writer’s think we need. Although I don’t drink coffee. Tried it the other day and about went bonkers. If I had a book idea I could have written it that day. Never try to do that, write a book in a day that is. I wrote a 40,000 word book in one day and was useless for days. I think I might have donated an organ but not sure. Actually I think I know which organ and don’t ask. I’m of the age I don’t think that organ is really all that useful any longer anyway.

Hello, I’m Ronovan and I write. I write anything and anywhere I can sneak in the door. Jenna left her door open and here I am. Oh that poor trusting woman. The chocoholic has succumbed to her indulgences and is now lying in the corner in a stupor babbling “plots, plots, edits, 15th draft, 15th draft”. I do not understand this rambling of hers but I am taking advantage of it. So I give you . . .

What every writer needs for Christmas.

(But doesn’t know to ask for.)

There are things every writer out there wants.

  • The perfect first paragraph to the greatest novel ever written
  • An advance from a publisher on a book that will feed them for a year
  • Perhaps all the favorite beverage of their choice in an endless supply linked to their writing space from the fridge by way of a super humongoso straw, nozzle, whatever
  • And of course that chocolate fondue fountain in the living room next to the couch they write upon

Raise your hand if you know which one Jenna would pick.

 So here for some actual serious things writers might like to have.

 

Choosing Your Publishing Poison

One thing an author needs to know is about the publishing options out there, the routes possible. It isn’t all just about an agent and a publisher any longer. Those simple days of hopes and rejections only are long gone. So how does an author know what route is best for them?

Choose your publishing Option

This isn’t an Amazon deal, oh you can download it for .99, but it is free as of the time of this writing by visiting Smashwords here, and get it for Kindle or even PDF. Don’t know what Smashwords is? Worried about it being legit? It’s legit. A lot of authors use it instead of or as well as Amazon now. I downloaded it and have it on my Kindle at this moment.

 

Let’s say the writer in your life picked the traditional route of going through a publisher. They are going to need some help . Help in what?

How about help with writing a query letter?

There are spouses, parents and even people we wish were our spouses out there now wondering what in the world is a query letter. Or those people are asking how can they help us, if they do know what a query letter is. For those that don’t know-That’s the thing we writers can’t write that’s a page long after writing 400 pages of a novel. Yeah, it’s what gets us in the door with an agent or publisher to take a look at our novel. If you don’t do it correctly, buh bye.

So what to do what to do. Writing courses? Pay someone to do it for you? Sure, those are options but then there is this.

How to write a great query letter35 Five Star Reviews out of 49 Reviews so far on Amazon. I’ll take that.

You’re wondering how much, right? At the moment of this writing, it is free. Yes, Free. Click here to go there to download.

 

But maybe the writer decided to go their own way and self-publish. Well they need to know how to do something. What’s that they need to know how to do?

How about knowing how to set up their book for Kindle?

Building your book for Kindle is something we all face as a writer. Get ready for it. Kindle is the standard and likely to remain so. So who better to tell you how than, Amazon Kindle itself.

build your book for kindleClick here to download it for, yes, free. I’m not just saying to do it because it’s from Amazon itself. With 1,104 Five Star Reviews as of this writing, I’ll go with it.

 

There is one thing that every author needs to know how to do, regardless of the path they choose. What’s that?

How To Market Your Book

In today’s world of being an author you have to do your own marketing. Even if you are signed by a big gun, you still need to know the business and get to marketing.

book marketing guideWith a review rating of 4.89 out of 5 with 139 people reviewing, I’d say get over to Smashwords and download now by clicking here. You can also go to Amazon and get it as well by clicking here. 73 five star reviews there. And guess what? As of this writing . . . you guessed it, Free to download.

 

Another thing that will help out is something specifically called ebook. Yeah, the ebook, that thing book stores hate. Well, it’s here and it isn’t going away so what do we do?

We Need to Be Successful At The Big E

Ebooks are so easy to buy and it’s, well it’s like a pack of Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups at the check out line at the super market. Easy to pick up and consume. Impulse buying even.

secrets to ebook publishing successFree. Okay, got that out of the way. Download at Smashwords here, or Amazon here. Knowing how to reach more readers for your ebooks doesn’t mean that’s the only people you reach. Remember reach them and keep them.

 

Five for Free. I hope these come in handy for anyone looking for some free tips on how to do things. I always like to read whatever is out there and I gain some knowledge to use. Sometimes I read things and learn what not to do. Have a good holiday season and hope your writer, be that the one in you, or the one near and dear to you finds something useful from today’s guest post.

THANKS JENNA! I didn’t break anything. Well, I don’t think I did.

Much Respect

Ronovan Writes

About the Author:

Ronovan WritesRonovan blogs at RonovanWrites.WordPress.com and also started LitWorldInterviews.WordPress.com where you will find interviews with Authors, Publishers, Book Cover artists and all areas of the Lit World along with Book Reviews by a team of reviewers from around the world as well as useful articles on writing, self-publishing and platform building. You can follow Ronovan on Twitter @RonovanWrites.

 

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 454 other followers

My First Writing Conference – Top 10 Things I Learned

On November 15th, I attended the Colorado Writing Workshop in Denver with presenter and instructor Chuck Sambuchino. To say I learned a lot would be an understatement. In fact, I learned so much, there’s no possible way for me to tell you everything. So, I’m going to do a Top 10 list!

top-10-schools

 Before I get started, here’s a list of the sessions I attended during the conference. I’ll admit, I got more out of some than others, but each one taught me something, and that’s what I’d hoped for.

  • “Your Publishing Options Today.”
  • “Everything You Need to Know About Agents, Queries & Pitching.”
  • “Writers’ Got Talent: A Chapter One Critique-Fest.”
  • “How to Market Yourself and Your Books: Author Platform & Social Media Explained.”
  • “How to Get Published: 10 Professional Writing Practices That You Need to Know NOW to Find Success as a Writer.”

So, without further ado, here we go!

1: Be Bold, Brave, and Outgoing!

One of the main reasons I attended the Colorado Writing Workshop was to meet and befriend local writers. I only know a few here in Denver, so I figured it’d be a great opportunity to make new connections. So, I printed up some business cards, gave myself a social pep talk, and marched into the conference room, ready to mix and mingle…

I stepped into the room and my heart dropped. Sitting before me was a group of fidgeting, throat clearing, eye darting writers. Silent writers.

Oh. Dear. God.

Up until that moment, I’d forgotten one important fact: most writers are introverts.

With knots in my stomach, I sat down and fiddled with my notebook for a solid ten minutes before I mustered up the nerve and turned to the woman across the aisle from me. I slapped on a smile, stuck out my hand, and introduced myself…Ironically, she was from Rhode Island and didn’t fit into my “meet local writers” plan, but whatever. She was super sweet and I was proud of myself for being brave and approaching someone, rather than waiting for someone to approach me.

Later, as the group broke for lunch, another woman walked up and said, “I love your bag. I keep staring at it.” After I thanked her and cracked a joke (yes, I use humor as a self-defense mechanism), I swallowed my pride and anxiety and asked her if I could tag along with her to lunch. “Of course!” she said. “A few of us are going out.” And, before I knew it, I was sitting in a restaurant befriending a handful of writers.

Mission accomplished!

So, if you ever attend a conference, try going into it with a brave, bold, and outgoing attitude. Don’t wait for people to approach you. Be willing to approach them and put yourself out there.

2: Content Is King

king-clip-art-king-solo-hiChuck Sambuchino spent the entire workshop discussing a writer’s publishing options, as well as the various strategies for success. Yet, at the end of the day, he made this important point:

“So much is out of your control.”

No matter how “right” you do things, there’s still a hundred things that could go “wrong”. That’s why you need to remember: Content is king! You should always strive to write the best story you can. Focus on content. Take your time. Think and be considerate. Because, bottom line: good, solid stories are more likely to lead you “right” rather than “wrong”.

3: Your First Page Matters! 

It-Was-A-Dark-and-Stormy-Night-from-Snoopy-e1375218659590-chicago-nowcomHands down, my favorite session of the day was “Writers’ Got Talent: A Chapter One Critique-Fest.”

Basically, attendees were invited to anonymously submit the first page of the their manuscript to be critiqued by a panel of literary agents. At random, Chuck Sambuchino chose an entry from the submission pile and read it out loud. The literary agents–AKA, “judges”–read along with him. The moment they lost interest, they raised their hand. If two of the four judges’ hands went up, Chuck would stop reading.

Think of it like the TV show, America’s Got Talent. Too many buzzes and you’re out!

It. Was. So. Scary!

First there was the waiting to see if my page got randomly chosen. Then there was the hearing of it read aloud. And then there was the praying to God none of the agents raised their hands…My heart was pounding so hard!

To my relief, not a single hand went up. In fact, one of the agent’s grinned and nodded at one point.

To be honest, I had a gut feeling my page would make it all the way through without getting “buzzed”. Not because I’m arrogant, but because mine was one of the last ones chosen, and by that point, I’d heard enough to know what rubbed an agent the wrong way. Those things included:

  • Info Dumping. By far, this was the biggest first page no-no. If there was an extensive section describing the world, character, situation, etc., all of the agents’ hands shot up. Then they’d make comments like these:

“Get into the story faster!”

“Trust the reader. They’re smart.”

“Organically weave your information in.”

“Questions are good.”

“Less information is always better. More can be added.”

  • Avoid using dreams. If a character wakes up from a dream on the first page, it’s an instant deal breaker for many agents.
  • Show, don’t tell. Every time a first page told a story, the agents “buzzed them off the stage”. So work hard to show your story, rather than tell it.
  • Characters describing themselves. Don’t say, “I stared at my reflection in the mirror. My blonde hair was matted in blood.” Seriously, who thinks to themselves “my blonde hair”? It’s unnatural and lazy, and agents don’t like it.
  • Stiff dialogue. Too often, despite an interesting story, an agent’s hand went up because the dialogue was stiff and forced. So take care to develop yours and make it as real as possible. Personally, I recommend reading your work out loud. Or, better yet, have someone else read it. You’ll be amazed how easily you catch weak spots.

The bottom line is your first page is vital. It’s what hooks both an agent and a reader and keeps them reading. So be sure to start your story off with a bang! Not a stiff, unnatural, info-filled whimper.

4: Avoid Prologues

To prologue or not to prologue, that always seems to be the question. Well, according to the agents at the conference, there’s no question about it. Writers should avoid using them. In their eyes, prologues are passive tools and weak attempts to hook a reader. “Why not hook a reader in chapter one?”

Picture-8One of the agents put it the best way I’ve ever heard: “Personally, I don’t mind prologues. But over 50 percent of the agents out there do, so why risk it? Play it safe and leave it out.”

I don’t know about you, but 50% is way too high. I’ll avoid the gamble and jump straight into chapter one.

5: Don’t Put All of Your Eggs In One Basket

eggs-in-one-basketYou write a book and get an agent. Sweet! Unfortunately, it doesn’t get the attention you and your agent had hoped for. Now what? You got it: Pitch a list of new ideas to your agent and write another book. Agents want career clients, not one hit wonders.

So, don’t charge into the publishing industry with the mentality, “I just need one great idea.” Charge into it with, “I need a lot of great ideas.” And then be willing to let go of those ideas that aren’t working and use the ones that do.

6: Read Your Genre

During the “Writers’ Got Talent: A Chapter One Critique-Fest”, literary agent, Sara Megibow, lectured us about the necessity of reading the genre you write for. In a forceful, “Come with me if you want to live” kind of voice (haha, kidding), she said, “These are the three things you must do…

1: Read debut authors from your genre that have been…

2: published in the past two to three years from a…

3: major publishing house.”

If you want to know what’s hot and what’s selling, stick to these rules. And if you ever refer to an older book in your query letter (ex: The Hobbit), an agent will laugh and toss your story aside. They’re looking for writers who are keeping current on the latest trends and staying ahead of the game, not those living in the past.

On a related note, another agent chimed in and said it’s very attractive to see comparative book titles in a query letter. It not only helps them visualize what your story is about, but it proves you know your genre.

7: “Confusion is like cholesterol. There’s good and bad.”

This was one of my favorite quotes by Chuck Sambuchino during the conference. It’s such a great metaphor! Confusion in a story is like cholesterol. You don’t want to have the bad kind that causes your readers to scratch their heads, lose focus, and get bored. You want the kind that makes them wrinkle their brow, ask questions, and eagerly turn the page to get answers.

This idea ties into what the agents said earlier about info dumping. “Questions are good”. So, don’t be afraid to add some confusion to your story. Just make sure it’s the good kind.

8: Be Specific In Your Query and Pitch

imgres

Be specific. Be specific. Be specific!

Chuck Sambuchino drilled that into our heads during the “Everything You Need to Know About Agents, Queries & Pitching.” session. He said the number one problem he finds when critiquing query letters is vagueness. All too often, people will say things like, “Sally had to overcome many obstacles”. But what are those obstacles? Be. Specific! 

Example:
“Billy Jenkins quit his job today”

What job? Lawyer? Plumber? And who’s Billy Jenkins? Old man? Boy?

Try writing it like this instead:

“After 17-year old, Billy Jenkins, made his 1,000th Big Mac, he threw special sauce in the air, flipped off his boss, and walked out the front door.”

So, when you sit down to write your query letter, or get ready for a live pitch with an agent, remember: Don’t be vague. Be specific!

9: Don’t Believe Everything You Hear

Yes, I know. Obvious! But, it’s true. So many of us read articles, blogs, and tweets about the publishing world, and we tend to swallow every word of them–hook, line, and sinker. Because, hey, if an industry professional said it, then it must be true.

False.

Although 90-95% of the information we read from agents and publishers is golden, there’s always that small percentage that isn’t. Certain agents have certain quirks that go against the grain. They’ll promote an idea that the rest don’t believe in.

For example, during one of his workshops, Chuck Sambuchino had an agent say something to the group that completely contradicted what he and everyone else in publishing taught. Later, when he asked them about it, the agent said, “Well, my agency does it that way, so I tell writers that’s how they should do it too.”

So, play it safe and read multiple resources. Don’t rely on only a couple. And be sure to cross reference your facts to ensure the information you’re using is what the majority of agents and publishers expect.

10: “You have to give up what you like to pursue what you love.”

AKA, put down the remote control!

Yep, that’s Chuck Sambuchino’s “secret to getting published”. And, if you think about it, it makes complete sense. Nobody ever said writing a book and getting published would be easy. It takes a lot of work, a lot of dedication, and a lot–a lot–of passion. If you want to achieve your dream, then you need to cut out those distractions you enjoy so much.

So, there you go! As you can see, I really did learn a lot at the Colorado Writing Workshop. More than I could ever list.

Actually here’s a bonus point I’d like to add:

11: Attend a Writing Conference! 

Okay, I know conferences can be on the pricey side, but if you look around, I’m sure you can find one that’s affordable. The one I attended was only a day long, and it was local, so it was on the cheaper side. Plus, if you have someone like Chuck Sambuchino instructing you, I promise every penny will be worth it. I highly recommend you check out his schedule to see if he’s coming to teach in your area!

So, how about you? Have you ever attended a writing conference? If so, what were some of your biggest takeaways? Would you recommend others to attend one? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

If you have any specific questions about the sessions I listed above, feel free to contact me! I’m happy to answer what I can 🙂

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 454 other followers

Photo credits:

http://treymorgan.net/10-things-that-are-guaranteed-to-happen-today-on-thanksgiving/

http://imgarcade.com/1/crickets-chirp-gif/

http://lifeconfusions.wordpress.com/2014/03/14/got-me-good/

 http://richfieldmnchamber.org/eggs-basket/

http://www.clipartpanda.com/categories/king-clip-art

http://blogs.extension.org/gardenprofessors/2013/11/18/it-was-a-dark-and-stormy-night/

http://gifaday.blogspot.com/2010/08/americas-got-talent-3-x-gif.html

http://zsazsabellagio.blogspot.com/2013/07/dance-till-stars-come-down.html

http://www.jamiegreybooks.com/prologue-or-not/

http://www.buzzfeed.com/ellievhall/23-signs-you-are-hermione-granger

http://myreactiongifs.com/confused/

http://www.dichotomistic.com/logic_vagueness_1.html

http://blog.muchmusic.com/one-direction-release-best-song-ever-and-im-not-amused/

http://hellogiggles.com/amy-poehler-life-coach-15-things-shes-taught

http://usvsth3m.com/post/68874556080/18-things-which-always-remind-you-that-youre-not-as

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/10/21/fashion-week_n_6022310.html

Friday Funny with Brrrr, Reading, and a Writing Workshop

Brrrrr! Denver is freezing this week, everyone. Like, crank up the heaters, open the bathroom and kitchen cabinets, and constantly run the faucets–freezing.

For those of you who don’t know, Colorado’s weather tends to go like this:

Mother Nature:

Five minutes later…

No joke! The weather here is a tumultuous roller coaster. Sunny one minute, a blizzard the next. Within 24-hours, the temperatures can plummet 60+ degrees. That’s what happened this week. Last Sunday, it was a sunny and beautiful 75 degrees. By Monday evening, it was a snowy and freezing 15–and dropping. By midweek, Denver had nosedived below zero, with a windchill of negative 35 degrees.

NEGATIVE 35!

Ugh.

I actually took Wednesday off of work because of the frigid temperatures and icy roads. The only problem was my car. If it sits too long in the cold without moving, the battery dies. So, I was forced to leave the warmth of my house multiple times to warm up the engine…and I’m positive every time I did this, my neighbors snickered, frowned, and laughed at what I was wearing:

Honestly, I looked like a walking, talking, shivering marshmallow as I executed Operation Save Car Battery on Wednesday. The repeated process went something like this: Step outside. Waddle, waddle, waddle. Unlock car. Fall inside. Flip ignition. Sit, wait, freeze. Turn off engine. Heave self out of car. Slip. Gain balance. Lock car. Waddle, waddle, waddle back into house.

Oh, I love this time of the year. 😉

Anyway, besides freezing my booty off and looking like a puffed up moron, I spent the week rereading the second draft of my manuscript and making edit notes for a third draft. Upon finishing it, I found myself pleasantly surprised by the first half of the story. The second half…

Well, I won’t say it’s bad, but it definitely needs a lot of work. My characters lost their edge, the dialogue wasn’t as snappy, the plot got foggy, the actual writing sloppy…Ugh. I think part of the problem is I began working faster and less diligently as I moved along. I wasn’t perfecting my later chapters like I did my earlier ones.

The good news is there is a story there, and I know what needs to be done to get it where I want it to go. So now I just need to roll up my sleeves, take a deep breath, and dig into a third draft.

I probably won’t be starting my third draft for a couple of days since I’m attending my first writing workshop tomorrow: the 2014 Colorado Writing Workshop with presenter and instructor Chuck SambuchinoEeks! I’m really nervous, but also really excited about this event. Not only am I going to get the chance to learn a ton about the publishing world, but I’ll be able to meet a ton of other writers from the Denver region.

I’ll be sure to fill you in about my experience at the workshop next week!

 Okay, enough chitchat. Here are some Friday Funnies to brighten your day. Sort of random this week, but I laughed so maybe you will too? Enjoy!

8db5ec3e22e8839ce5ac9c3929116f3e 80a75624d4450211905882e66c05ccc7How was your week? How’s NaNoWriMo going for those of you participating?

Jen’s Weekly Roundup

In case you missed my posts from earlier this week, here you go!

Music Monday – Defying Gravity – Kerry Ellis

Make Your Opening Pop!

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 454 other followers

Photo credits: 

http://www.buzzfeed.com/erinchack/things-people-who-are-always-cold-understand

http://www.buzzfeed.com/leonoraepstein/disney-characters-who-really-need-to-see-a-psychiatrist

http://thegoggindiaries.com/2014/01/06/i-hate-winter/ 

https://www.tumblr.com/search/waddle%20of%20penguins

http://bluesdanceworld.com/2014/01/02/jane-russell-and-marilyn-monroe-in-gentlemen-prefer-blondes/

https://www.tumblr.com/search/Deep+Breath+reaction 

http://www.pinterest.com/WStoryBoards/writing-humor/

Confession: I Fear Sharing My Stories

Ever since I posted my first round story for the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge 2014, I’ve been a bit of a mess–anxious, queasy, stressed. Perhaps you find this reaction surprising–maybe even a little unbelievable–because I’ve always acted like sharing my work with you is no big deal. But, to be honest, it terrifies me.

Last week, when I hit the “publish” button on my blog to post Inevitable, I had a moment of pure panic. A million “what if” questions flew through my mind: What if people hate it? What if people laugh at me? What if this is the stupidest story I’ve ever written? What if I didn’t push myself hard enough? What if I offend someone by accident? What if. What if. What if…

 It doesn’t seem to matter if I’m sharing my story with a friend, a beta reader, or a complete stranger, I’m always petrified I’ll be judged, ridiculed, and/or ripped apart. The minute I put a story on my blog, or I hand chapters of my manuscript over to a beta reader, I experience a sharp twinge of anxiety, and my heart does a pitter-patter–stutter–halt!–boom-boom-boom! dance.

You’d think this fear would go away after years of sharing my work with others, but it hasn’t. I always experience a sickening sensation, followed by a silent chant of, “Oh God, oh God, oh God…”

Part of my fear stems from the worry people will read my work and think I’m someone I’m not. Let’s face it, many of my stories are on the darker side: Tragic. Morbid. Whacked out! I’m so scared people will read them and think, “Wowza, this chick is messed up!” Or, “Poor thing, she must have a terrible life.” Or, “Yeesh, this writer scares me.”

And, who knows? Maybe people do think those things about me? Maybe people see me as this:

When, in reality, I’m like this:

The only thing I can do to manage this particular fear is to explain to people my writing process. I like to tell them, “When I write, I’m not there. I’m pushed into a cage and locked up while my characters hijack the story. They’re the ones writing it, not me.”

Hmm, maybe I am a little crazy–ha!

But it’s the truth. When I sit down to write, I check “Jenna” at the door and let my characters orchestrate the plot. They tell me how the story is “supposed to go”. I do my best not to interfere as the outsider.

For example, when I started writing my short story, Chasing Monsters, I planned on telling a story about a little boy who’d witnessed a murder in the forest. But when I arrived at the murder scene, my characters said, “Um, no. That’s not going to happen. This is!” And they yanked the plot out of my hands and twisted it into something completely different and unexpected…It was horrible and beyond terrifying, and I did not want to write it.

I think I almost threw up when I posted Chasing Monsters on my blog. If there was ever a story people were going to judge me for, it was that one. Thankfully, nobody did–at least not to my face.

Truthfully, I’ve never been outright slammed for any of my stories. Of course, that’s not to say I’ve never had negative reviews, or had my feelings hurt by less than tactful individuals. Just this past weekend, I had someone send me feedback for Inevitable. They point blank said, “I didn’t like it at all.”

Yeah, that one hurt. But it’s okay. One of the things I’ve learned from sharing my work is not everyone will be a fan. Even if I have pure gold on my hands, someone out there will think it stinks. The best thing I can do is move on and let it go.

…Easier said than done, right?

The bottom line is I will always be afraid of sharing my work. Even if I become a New York Times bestselling author, I’ll struggle with the knowledge there are people out there reading my work and judging me in one way or another. And there will always be critics and, well, insensitive meanies who will tell me, “I didn’t like it at all.”.

But you know what? I can’t let my fears stop me. Even if I have an anxiety attack every time I press the “publish” button on my blog, or sit and stare at my email until my beta readers return with their feedback about my manuscript, I need to be willing to share my work. I need to suck it up and take the terrifying plunge.

If I don’t, how else will I discover my strengths and weaknesses? How else will I become the best writer I can be? There’s only so much I can learn on my own. Without constructive criticism from a variety of sources (friends, family, strangers, bloggers, other writers, etc.) I’ll never reach the next level.

And, really, I need to get used to people reading my stories if I want to be a published author. That’s kind of the point of all of this, isn’t it?

So, how about you? Do you fear others reading your stories? If so, why?

Related Articles:

What are you afraid of, dear writer?

Purging Your Writing Fear

Fear of Writing – 3 secrets of writer’s block

Photo Credits:

http://gifbuffet.tumblr.com/post/9431389021

http://imgfave.com/view/1351342

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20629796-fighting-for-you

http://seeyouinaporridge.blogspot.com/2014/07/confessions_30.html

http://silverscreenings.org/2014/04/25/day-6-the-great-villain-blogathon/

http://setsunajikan.blogspot.com/2012/08/34-ways-that-you-can-be-remarkable.html

http://borg-princess.livejournal.com/95677.html?thread=1791677

5 Things to Know When Pitching to Literary Agents

Welcome to Twitter Treasure Thursday! So, today’s gem is a bit broader, and perhaps many of us have heard some of these tips before, but I wanted to share them anyway. When it comes to literary agents, it’s always good to be aware and knowledgable about the big do’s and don’t’s.

literary-agentIf you’re interested in pursuing a literary agent someday, be sure to check out this post from author, Mila Gray:

5 Things to Know When Pitching to Literary Agents.

1. Make sure you’re pitching to the right agent.

Buy the Writers’ and Artists’ Handbook (in the UK). Identify those agents that rep your genre. Google them and find out what their submission guidelines are.

Check out who their clients are. This will give you an idea of how big a player they are — how much influence they have in the publishing world.

An agent with lots of high profile authors might not have as much time for you as an agent with fewer clients. On the upside a bigger agent will have more influence with publishers and be able to get your MS onto desks quicker.

Don’t go overboard with contacting every agent in the book. I contacted 12. I had 7 responses, two of which were very polite no thank yous, three of which were ‘we really think this has potential but we have no room on our list’, and 2 who wanted to sign me immediately.

I signed with the agent who I felt I had the best rapport with but she also happened to be very established with a great client list.

To read the entire article, click here!

And for more useful advice, follow Mila Gray on Twitter!

Related Articles

What Does a Literary Agent Want to See When They Google You?

New Literary Agent Alert: Soumeya Bendimerad of the Susan Golomb Literary Agency

Advice For Writers From Literary Agents

Photo credit: http://www.jeffcalloway.com/how-to-land-a-literary-agent.html