Posts tagged with: writer’s life
Posted by Dani Wade Apr 19 2013, 12:01 am in balance, Day Jobs, taking risks, writer's advice, writer's journey, writer's life
When I first joined RWA, I read time and again: when people ask what you do, tell them you’re an author. Own it and be proud of yourself. I do and I am. It’s a lot easier when I can follow up with “and my first book will be on the shelves in August 2013,” but I’ve become very comfortable talking with others about my writing. Readers and non-readers.
But I recently ran into a situation that made me think twice.
From the time I started writing, I’ve had to work up the courage to tell people I was an author. I still vividly remember the nervous churning in my stomach when I told my husband I wanted to write my first book. I’m a lucky woman. He was supportive of me as so many people have been along the way. Being outed as a romance writer at a church women’s retreat broke me of a lot of worry, since having 40 people take turns asking, “What do you write?” creates a bit of a thick skin.
But I’ve now found myself actively deciding to keep my authordom a secret. Only in one place – my new day job. I work in an office with six women, but only 2 of them know I write. Why keep it a secret? An upper management boss who only proves more and more how much of a problem this would be with her. She’s extremely conservative and holds to an old-school level of professionalism. She finds something to criticize, no matter how small. That shirt’s a little too low in the front. Those shoes aren’t professional enough. That subject is too personal for the office. While I wouldn’t lie if asked directly, I’m not going out of my way to “share”.
As more time passes, I realize how much of my true self I’m hiding each day. I’m living a double life and not very happy about it. So much of myself is tied up in my writing. I find it very hard not to share my writing triumphs with my fellow workers. To not mention when my characters are giving me a hard time while everyone talks about their rough days. I even have to keep mum about my plans for the weekends, since “writing, writing, and more writing” might raise some eyebrows. But I draw the line at hiding my writing on my lunch break. I usually have a notebook or laptop and what I’m doing on my time is no one’s business – and no one has asked directly yet. Much to my surprise. That particular boss has caught me in the break room and asked questions about my laptop, but draws short of questioning what I’m actually working on.
I haven’t decided exactly what I’ll say when she asks. Not because I’m ashamed of my writing, or what I write, but because I don’t want to be hassled over something that’s none of her business.
So my question for all of you is: When do you tell? When do you not? Are there certain situations you avoid, or have you become comfortable enough to share indiscriminently?
I’ll check in on my lunch break and after work! Another thing I’m not allowed at this job is personal use of the internet, which I understand a lot more but is very hard when I’d like to be playing with all of you!!! :)
Posted by Vanessa Barneveld Apr 12 2013, 12:01 am in perseverance, writer's journey, writer's life
Are you, like me, sitting by the telephone waiting for that special editor to woo you with a three-book deal? Wondering if your ears are burning not because you have a medical condition but because an entire acquisitions committee is discussing your stellar publishing future? Four of my manuscripts have done the rounds of New York, so I know it’s hard not to obsess over that life-changing Call. I find a watched pot never boils, and similarly, a watched phone does not ring. (Actually, my phone did once ring when I happened to be staring at it, but the caller was a telemarketer asking if I was happy with my mobile service.) So how do you cope with submission obsession? The key is to keep busy. I know a few tricks to help you productively pass the time while you’re on Call waiting.
Plot your next book (and, hey, write it, too) – This trick is self-explanatory, but so important because plotting, researching and writing a new manuscript keeps you very busy. Not only that, you learn from every book you write. And the more books you write, the more chances you have of selling.
Write short stories – A friend once told me the best way to keep your skills sharp is to write short stories because it teaches you to right tight. Short stories are…um, short. So if you’re between books, this is the perfect time to develop a short story. You could submit to the magazine market, or self-publish an anthology by yourself or with a band of authors.
Figure out your place in the cyber world and build your brand – A web presence is essential these days. Agents, publishers, readers – they all want to find you online in some capacity. Do you want a website? Can you keep up a regular blog? Gather a Twitter following? Choose an option that will best suit your personality, available time, and financial position.
Get organised – Tidy up your workspace. Get your files in order. Stock up on stationery. Draw up a submissions spreadsheet. Ask yourself if your method of writing is really working for you. Do you need to try a new M.O. for your next project?
Choices, choices – There’s more than one way to get published. Ever looked into going indie? Self-publishing may suit your next book or your current book. Or maybe a book from your past that can be updated and readied for the e-marketplace.
Brush up with a writing course – Need help with characterisation? Plotting? Members of Romance Writers of America can “attend” RWA University. Some classes are free. You can also participate in online/offline chapter courses and short courses offered by community colleges.
Get a new hobby – If you’re writing for publication, then consider it your job, not your hobby. Someone smart once said you have to experience life in order to write fiction. Keep yourself refreshed and well rounded by immersing yourself in another activity. One of my favourite new pastimes is baking cakes for friends and colleagues. Cake-eating is making me incredibly well rounded, if you know what I mean. I guess I have to be careful not to let the baking and eating take precedence over writing.
Forgetaboutit! Once my agent sends a book out to editors, I trick myself into forgetting all about it. I have a memory like a sieve, so this is easier for me than it is for most people. One thing you do have to remember is that the book is out of your hands now. You’ve worked hard to make it shiny and marketable and the best it can be. Let your work speak for itself. In the meantime, see trick number one – plot and write your next book!
This song is dedicated to all of you patient authors out there waiting for the call — Call Me by Blondie.
How do you cope with being on submission? If you’re a published author, how do you pass the time when you’re waiting for word from your editor or agent?
My infamous “low cake.” I’m working on improvements while I wait for The Call.
Chocolate Frangelico brownies
Posted by Dani Wade Jan 8 2013, 1:00 am in craft, inspiration, reading, writer's advice, writer's journey, writer's life
How many times have you stood in a group of writers and heard this:
“I never have time to read anymore.”
“It’s been a year since I’ve read anything besides my own work.”
“I don’t read because (insert reason here). But that’s okay.”
Um, no. It isn’t.
I’ve heard statements like these aplenty through the years and they’ve always made me a little sad. It wasn’t until I found myself in the same boat that I started to examine this phenomenon. There are so many excuses for us, as writers, to not read, and the majority of them boil down to one basic reason: TIME.
But I’ve begun to question: Will our writing/creativity suffer if we don’t read?
Reading for pleasure should be a treasured gift to writers. After all, the majority of us came to writing through reading. But it also allows writers to:
1. Re-experience what its like for a reader to get “lost in a book”. We all have memories of this magical phenomena, but the more distant the recollection, the less the potency. Reaffirm your own wish for your readers by returning to your reading roots.
2. Absorb new techniques – not by “studying/dissecting” the written word, but through effortless osmosis. Just like we did before we ever started writing. Later, after you come out the other side of the story, you can ask yourself why you loved the characters or what kept you turning the page. But relax and let your writer’s eye take knowledge in while your reader’s brain is fully engaged.
3. Doing anything you enjoy, sparking your imagination, refills the creative well that gets drained with every project you invest yourself in. It relaxes you, opens your creativity to possibilities, and generally brings us to that peaceful place where we can create without straining or overburdening ourselves.
4. Being a writer doesn’t mean forsaking those things we enjoy. If we do, then our writing suffers. This quote from NYT bestselling author Linda Howard explains this very well:
The fact is, being a writer doesn’t mean you have no life other than writing, any more than being a schoolteacher means you live in the classroom and do nothing else. Our lives are just like everyone else’s, other than the writing part. We still have dentist appointments, need flu shots, have fender-benders and children (not sure there’s a difference <G>). Those things — normal as they are — are stressful enough without throwing in the added stress of feeling frantic because they’re taking away from our writing time. We still need to enjoy ourselves. We’re driven by some weird internal chemistry, but we need to give ourselves a break.
Life happens to everyone. It’s here for us to live, and we should live it, because otherwise we’ve thrown away the most precious part of our writing. If we give up doing what we enjoy, whether it’s reading or taking long walks or anything else, we’ve given away a precious spark that makes us more human. Yeah, you may write a more technically perfect manuscript if you devote every free hour to it, but if you really live, you’ll be able to write a more vital, human manuscript — and, as a reader, I can tell you that I’d rather read a book where the characters come alive, than one that’s technically perfect but is as limp as uncooked bacon.
That about says it all…don’t you think?
While I know all of this is true, TIME is still an issue. Believe me, as a writer with a full-time day job and a family, I know this is true. So let me share some strategies for fitting reading into a very busy life.
1. Read a little each night before bed or to unwind after work. If you’re the type of reader who can string out a good book, twenty minutes a day would work well for you. Give you a little boost at the end of a long day.
2. Another option for this type of reader is to carry a book in your purse and read while waiting in line, out to eat, etc. Fill those little pockets of time with the yumminess of good characters and thrilling plots.
3. I, unfortunately, can’t read a short time and put an interesting book down. I’m more of a binge reader, so I’ve set up a reward day (or weekends for big projects) when I give myself permission to indulge. Some reward-worthy tasks include finishing a rough draft, after revisions, after completing a writing challenge, or after a set period of strenuous writing. Then I can dip into a new book guilt-free (mostly) and come back to my own writing refreshed.
4. Set up a regular date night – just yourself and your new favorite book. Whether its once a week, every two weeks, or one weekend a month, mark your calendar for a regular reading time as a reminder that its important (and essential to your creative function) to enjoy some downtime.
So as a writer, do you still read? Let’s talk about the whys, the why nots…and how you work reading into your writing schedule.
Posted by Anne Barton Dec 14 2012, 12:01 am in Free-For-All Friday, holiday, Ruby Release, survey, writer's life
Grab some eggnog, friends, and gather ‘round! Today, we celebrate…the ugly ornament.
They’re the unsung heroes of the Christmas tree. The macaroni angel you made in kindergarten. The evil nutcracker Aunt Phyllis gave you as a housewarming gift. The “hand blown glass” football that your husband got free with a tank of gas. (The same one that, defying all odds, survived the tree crash of 1998 and the cat attack of 2005.)
They come in all shapes and sizes and have all sorts of juicy history behind them. You know what? We think they need a little love too. So here, for your viewing pleasure, are a few ugly ornaments—courtesy of the Rubies.
Posted by Dani Wade Dec 11 2012, 1:00 am in Christmas, holiday, motivation, perseverance, time management, writer's life, writing tips
It’s December, and we are currently knee deep into the annual holiday season. As women, we are usually the ones responsible for the planning and plotting that goes into holidays, even if they aren’t being held at our house. The same is true for me—I do the planning, my hubby does the inviting (usually without telling me until the last minute). We end up with a house full of family and friends who eat, talk, laugh, and play games all Christmas day. That’s after a month full of other parties, family celebrations, gift buying, etc. Something I enjoy with a heart full of gratitude.
But all this partying makes it tough to get any writing done. The list of things to do can extend to infinity sometimes (or at least feel like it). All this extra party planning can really cramp my writing style. I’m sure even you non-writers find time short during this busy season. So what’s an author to do?
Here are a few tips:
1. Up your word count on the days you CAN write.
I know this sounds like it will take even more time, but when you do get uninterrupted writing time, do your best to up the amount of your goal. My usual goal for weekdays is 750 words, but for December I’m aiming for 1250. This way, I can manage a few days off during the month without guilt or getting really behind. So push yourself to do more, and enjoy your reward later.
2. Take it One Small Step at a Time
It can be overwhelming to sit down and face a 1000 word goal, but how about 250 words? Oftentimes, I don’t write my whole goal in one sitting. I can’t, because I have very few uninterrupted chunks of time in my day. So here’s how I approach it: During my morning break at work, I plot out the scenes I’m going to work on that day. Then on my lunch break (30 minutes) I type on the Alphasmart. I also have 1 hour set aside for writing directly after dinner. I try to keep that sacred (doesn’t always work, but I try).
Then thirty minutes while the kids do homework or clean their rooms or 30 minutes while the hubby watches a television show. Just 30 more minute before bedtime, then I can sleep. You’d be surprised how much easier it is to tackle any large project in smaller steps.
3. Be Prepared
For plotters, this is much easier. But it is also doable for pantsters too. Before putting down your pen for the day, take a few moments to write out the first few sentences of your next scene. Make sure your notes on the coming pages are complete and you have a decent map for where you are heading. This will make jumping into the next session much easier (no staring at a blank page wondering what the heck you were thinking to have them break into the warehouse so soon…) and your writing will flow more quickly from the start.
I find a To Do list essential for big projects and my writing is no different. This way, I can see how much time I have, then jump into whatever task I have time for, without worrying I’ll forget what else needs to be done.
4. Utilize the Buddy System
Find a writing friend who needs to accomplish as much as you do at this time. Vow to keep each other accountable. Daily emails require you to send in those totals, even if the sum is 0 (and embarrassing enough to force your hands to the keyboard). Set up times for write ins (getting together for the sole purpose of writing—bookstores are great for this).
And don’t forget a reward. Plan an outing to get your nails painted or a massage when all the hard work is done. A night out to dinner with some girlfriends. Or form an accountability group where everyone pitches in $10, and the top three performers during the holiday season get to split the pot for After Christmas shopping! This will give you a tangible reward, other than the relief you’ll feel when you see all those words on the page.
My hope is that you’ll be able to be as productive as I hope to be this holiday season. We’re all busy. I know that. But you can still manage something (this is me giving ME a pep talk here). So tell me your best advice for getting writing (and other holiday tasks) done during this busy time. (because I need all the help I can get!)
Posted by Amanda Brice Oct 24 2012, 12:01 am in book promo, books, cookbook, cooking, ebooks, excerpt, inspiration, new releases, promo, recipes, Ruby Release, writer's life
The Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood — publishing quality non-fiction since 2012.
Well, actually that’s not quite true. If you count our blogs posts — most of which are on craft of writing and business of writing — then I guess we’ve been publishing quality non-fiction since 2009. But I don’t mean blogging. I mean actual publishing . . . of ebooks!
Yes, that’s right, Ruby Readers. The Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood has just released our very first ebook — a cookbook! Introducing Eat, Read, Love: Romance and Recipes from the Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood!
Cute cover, huh? Special thanks to Laurie Kellogg for designing it. Editing and layout done by Amanda Brice and Kim Law.
So what is Eat, Read, Love? Well, I’m glad you asked. It’s a literary cookbook. We’ve compiled 59 recipes inspired by the pages of our books. Whereas some cookbooks pair their recipes with wine, ours are paired with excerpts. In some cases, the characters actually do eat the meal in the excerpt!
And the best part is that it’s 100% FREE. Yes, you read that right. It’s our gift to our readers, old and new.
So what dishes can you expect to see? It’s a very eclectic — and delicious – list!
Allergen-Free Pad Thai (from Codename: Dancer by Amanda Brice)
Chinese Sausage and Sticky Rice in Banana Leaves (from My Fair Concubine by Jeannie Lin)
Pernil Al Horno (Puerto Rican Roasted Pork Shoulder) (from Avenging Angel by Anne Marie Becker)
Jalapeño Chicken (from Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe by Shelley Coriell)
Grandma Rose’s Varenyky (Ukrainian Pierogies) (from Pas De Death by Amanda Brice)
Angelo the Mobster’s Pasta Primavera (from The Good Daughter by Diana Layne)
Olivia’s Seafood Salad (from Under Fire by Rita Henuber)
Alaskan Crab Cakes (from The Doctor’s Mile High Fling by Tina Beckett)
Easy-Peasy Meatloaf (from Chase Me by Tamara Hogan)
“Hide the Peas, Please” Chicken Pot Pie (from Intrusion by Cynthia Justlin)
Cole’s Poorman Stew (from In the Presence of Evil by Autumn Jordon)
New Mexican Green Chile Stew (from First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones)
Cock-A-Leekie Stew (from Prophecy by Heather McCollum)
Almost Medieval Leek Soup (from Lady Unbound by Elise Hayes)
Henri’s Turtle Soup (from A Kiss in the Wind by Jennifer Bray-Weber)
Caruru do Pará (Brazilian Shrimp Gumbo) (from Doctor’s Guide to Dating in the Jungle by Tina Beckett)
Abram’s Game Day Chicken and Sausage Gumbo (from Under the Autumn Sky by Liz Talley)
Abby’s Fatten-up-Mac Green Bean Casserole (from The Memory of You by Laurie Kellogg)
Millie Polk’s Squash Casserole (from Home at Last Chance by Hope Ramsay)
Bacon and Egg Fried Rice (from Taste Me by Tamara Hogan)
Sultana’s Rice (from Kismet’s Kiss by Cate Rowan)
Stasia’s Vinegret (Russian Potato, Beet, & Carrot Salad) (from Underhanded by Shoshana Brown)
Violet Easley’s Okra and Stewed Tomatoes (from Last Chance Christmas by Hope Ramsay)
Eat These Fries (from Kiss that Frog by Cate Rowan)
Dare To Be Different Barbeque Sauce (from Snow Bound by Dani Wade)
Alex’s Killer Pasta Sauce (from His Witness to Evil by Autumn Jordon)
Annie’s Favorite Hot Sauce (from Waters Run Deep by Liz Talley)
Devil’s Dust (from Third Grave Dead Ahead by Darynda Jones)
Triple Chocolate Cake (from Caught on Camera by Kim Law)
Summer’s Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting (from Perfect Summer by Katie Graykowski)
Ryker’s Favorite Mint Brownies (from Her Own Best Enemy by Cynthia Justlin)
Tiramisu (from Thoroughbreds and Trailer Trash by Bev Pettersen)
Profiteroles (from Party Like It’s 1899 by Amanda Brice)
Hannah’s Heavenly Cinnamon-Almond Squares (from Hypnotic Seduction by L.L. Kellogg)
Picou Dufrene’s Infamous Pecan Pralines (from The Road to Bayou Bridge by Liz Talley)
Tara’s Mother’s Southern Pecan Pralines (from Death, Taxes, and a French Manicure by Diane Kelly)
Maggie’s Amazing Pecan Pie (from A Little Bit of Deja Vu by Laurie Kellogg)
Jenny Carpenter’s Secret Pie Crust (from Last Chance Beauty Queen by Hope Ramsay)
Cream Cheese Pie (from Only Fear by Ane Marie Becker)
Nicole’s To-Die-For Apple Pie (from Seized by Darkness by Autumn Jordon)
Susanna’s Sonker (from Whisper Falls by Elizabeth Langston)
Fried Banana Nuggets (from Edge of Light by Cynthia Justlin)
Betts’ Chocolate Chip Cookies (from Place Your Betts by Katie Graykowski)
Jilian’s “Best of Earth” Cookies (from The Source of Magic by Cate Rowan)
T-Bone Carter’s Biscuits (from Welcome to Last Chance by Hope Ramsay)
Cinnamon Rolls (from Sugar Springs by Kim Law)
Sausage Gravy & Biscuits (from Jimmie Joe Johnson: Manwhore by Lindsey Brookes)
Lucy’s Rum Cake “Stud Muffins” (from The Ghost Shrink, The Accidental Gigolo, & The Poltergeist Accountant by Vivi Andrews)
Sam’s Keep-Dani-Healthy Greek Omelet (from The Great Bedroom War by Laurie Kellogg)
Huevos Rancheros (from Second Grave on the Left by Darynda Jones)
Lucky’s Lucky Charms (from Getting Lucky by Katie Graykowski)
Dani’s Mango Madness Smoothie with Raspberry Swirl (from Pointe of No Return by Amanda Brice)
Homemade Skinny Latte (from Death, Taxes, and a Skinny No-Whip Latte by Diane Kelly)
Parish Cocoa (from Ghosts of Boyfriends Past by Vivi Andrews)
Captain Drake’s Rum Drinks (from The Siren’s Song by Jennifer Bray-Weber)
Cookie’s Mucho Magnifico Margaritas (from Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet by Darynda Jones)
Bonnie Pratt’s Easy-Peasy Peach Sangria (from Death, Taxes, and Peach Sangria by Diane Kelly)
Sample Menu from 1890s Dinner Party (from The Vanishing Thief by Kate Parker)
16th Century Herbal Remedies (from Captured Heart by Heather McCollum)
Hungry yet? I know I’m starved just reading the list!
You can grab your own copy from Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords, or download a PDF copy right here from this website! (It isn’t at Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Sony, or Diesel yet, but we expect it to be soon.)
Be sure to spread the word, and happy cooking!
(By the way, by downloading a copy, you’re actually doing us a big favor, by helping get our numbers up, which increases our exposure. So if you’ve ever been entertained or informed by our blog, this is a great way to thank us!)
Posted by Amanda Brice Oct 4 2012, 12:01 am in business of writing, copyright, law, legal, pro bono, trademark, volunteer lawyers for the arts, writer's life
Today I’m taking a break from being the resident “Lawyer Ruby.” Okay, fine, that’s still my role, but our special guest is going to talk shop today instead.
Please welcome my good friend Jennifer Williston. When she’s not being forced by my two-year-old daughter to do sticker art with her, Jenn is an intellectual property attorney in the Washington, DC area. In addition, she’s the Chair of the Literary Committee for Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts.
Jenn and I taught a popular workshop together on basic copyright and trademark law at the 2009 RWA Conference. (It was moderated by Nora Roberts!) Since then, we’ve co-authored an article for the RWR. But today she’s flying solo, talking about her pro bono work in the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts movement. Take it away, Jenn!
The other day at lunch the friend of a co-worker approached me with a legal question. As you can imagine, this situation is not an unusual experience for me. Once someone finds out I’m an attorney, the legal problems and hypothetical questions come from every possible direction. I’ve been asked to help with parking tickets, income tax, wills, landlord tenant disputes — the list goes on and on. My typical approach in these situations is to listen to the question and then politely decline to provide an answer, usually referring the person to an attorney I’m familiar with who is knowledgeable in the field or to the local bar association.
Today’s question was different, “Can I name the restaurant I’m developing after the title of a popular novel?” I’m sure all the writers who are reading this blog want to shout out “absolutely not” and “under no circumstance.” Intrigued with the idea, instead of my usual deferral modus operandi, I answered, “Well, it depends, because in most circumstances a writer has no legal basis to protect the title of his or her work.”
I’ll spare you the details of my hypothetical-filled conversation with the budding restaurateur. I decided to share this anecdote with you because it stresses the need for writers to determine what their rights are and, more importantly, how to protect them. Many budding and unpublished authors are so consumed with their manuscripts that they do not take the time to protect their rights or, with limited income, do not believe they have the resources to pay for legal representation. I want to stress to you that understanding your legal rights is just as important, if not more, than the quality of words you write each day. While this task may seem daunting, it’s not.
There are many non-profit legal organizations a writer can turn to for assistance, with Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts organizations at the top of the list. The organization I’m a member of, Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts (covering artists in the DC-metro area) provides access to education, advocacy and legal services through workshops and seminars, legal clinics and pro-bono referral services for creatives. Known in the community as WALA, the organization provides members in need of legal representation with referrals to pro bono attorneys who will answer your legal questions and take legal action on your behalf. If you do not meet the minimum income guidelines, WALA will refer you to specialized attorneys who may negotiate a discounted rate to assist with your legal needs.
The organization also offers many educational programs throughout the year, for example, we’re just wrapping up our Creative Entrepreneur Series. A six-part seminar on common issues creatives face in their professional career, the Creative Entrepreneur Series features topics such as copyright and trademark protection, contracts and licenses, and negotiation skills. Last year, WALA represented approximately 150 artists in legal matters and has already served over 375 members of the creative community through educational programming this year.
Most states or large cities have a volunteer lawyers for the arts program that provides artists and creatives with similar legal services for a small membership fee, or in some instances, no fee at all. I strongly encourage you to get involved with WALA or your local VLA and protect your legal rights. Then, if someone tries to copy your work, asks you to agree to an atypical publishing agreement, or wants to open a restaurant that uses the same name as the title of one of your books, you’ll understand your rights and be ready to take action.
For more information about WALA, visit http://waladc.org. For information about a VLA in your region check out this list compiled by the New York Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts.
Posted by Autumn Jordon Sep 20 2012, 12:01 am in Autumn Jordon, characterization, craft, golden heart, inspiration, Movitation, muse, Point Of View, Seasonings, Seasons, writer's advice, writer's journey, writer's life, writing romance, writing tips, writing tools
If you’re thinking this blog is about setting, you’re totally wrong. Maybe I should’ve changed the title so you wouldn’t have thought so, but after I started brainstorming ideas for a blog it actually fit.
My original idea was to write about two lessons I learned many years ago from my creative writing professor which, yes, would’ve pertained to setting, but then two of my Ruby sisters had also mentioned on our private loop that they planned blogs about the subject. Although I knew we’d approach the subject matter from different angles, I kind of figured our readers would say enough already. So I’ll save my thoughts on setting for another time.
Anyway, going back to my creative writing classes— since I know you’re all dying to know what they were—the first one was free writing. We all know what that is, right? You just write whatever comes to mind without stopping for a length of time and the writing doesn’t need to follow rhythm or reason. It’s a way of freeing your muse. Thinking about that lesson helped me put a twist on the second lecture, which was setting sense and had to do with experiencing your world, and ‘Wala’ I think I came up with unique tutorial for our awesome followers.
Posted by Anne Barton Jun 27 2012, 12:00 am in author bio, guest author, writer's life
I’m thrilled to welcome my good friend and writing partner Keli Gwyn to the Ruby blog! She’s got some fun tips for making our author bios the best they can be. Welcome, Keli!
Is your author bio boring?
Mine was—until I took a workshop from social media guru Kristen Lamb, author of We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. She taught my fellow workshop participants and me how to make our bios lots more fun.
I think of it as taking a plain vanilla bio and turning it into a delicious sundae with plenty of yummy toppings. Here’s how. . .
Kristen gave us 3 great tips, which I’m paraphrasing.
1. Remember who we are.
We’re writers. She said that all too often when we novelists draft a bio we seem to forget we’re fiction writers. We’re used to making up cool stories that captivate readers, but when we approach our bios we go all factual and miss out on the fun.
2. Remember who our readers are.
Who reads our books? Drum roll please. Readers!
Yes, readers read our books, but our bios often sound like little more than a recitation of our writerly accomplishments. Sure, I’m a member of RWA® and its FH&L, TGN, and SVR chapters along with being a member of ACFW, but what reader cares about that? Do they even know what the acronyms stand for? Are they all that interested in the fact that I finaled in the GH and won the Launching a Star, Maggie, Emily, etc? I doubt it. And if we’re honest, do they really care that much about my family?
Nope. They want to know one thing. Can I tell an interesting story?
Kristen said we can include the writer-related facts and a little about our families, but she suggested putting that type of information at the end of the bio and keeping the beginning fun for the reader.
3. Remember that our job is to market ourselves.
If we want to reach readers, we need to give them what they want: good stories. We do that by keeping our bios fun, showing readers what types of stories we write, and giving them a taste of our voices.
Our bios are our opportunities to sell ourselves as writers of stories readers want to read.
My publisher asked me for a bio, which will appear on the back cover of my debut novel. I sent it to the lovely editorial assistant I’ve worked with at Barbour Publishing, Linda Hang. I’d worked on it for days, tweaking it until every word was right.
And then I took Kristen’s course.
After learning the tips above, I got really brave and read the bio I’d sent to Linda. Guess what? It was Boring with a capital B. Since I’m being honest here, I’ll tell you that I lifted portions of it directly from my query letter. Talk about plain. It was diet vanilla ice cream.
I applied the tips Kristen taught in the workshop and came up with a bio that has more pizzazz, is geared toward readers, and is no longer filled with a litany of my writerly affiliations and educational mumbo jumbo.
Since I’m a fan of show, don’t tell, I’ll let you see the before and after. And although I’m sure you could improve upon my “after,” it does represent me and my voice. I’m not exactly a sundae person in real life. I’m more of a chocolate chip ice cream drenched in Hershey’s® syrup kinda gal.
Before, with editorial notes included:
Award-winning novelist Keli Gwyn is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America®. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication/Print Journalism. [Are you yawning yet?] A California native, she lives in a historic Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountains. She enjoys her frequent time travels to the 1800s, where she spends countless hours with her characters while fueling her creativity with Taco Bell® and sweet tea. [Better, but why put the more interesting stuff at the end?]
After, with editorial notes following:
Award-winning novelist Keli Gwyn is a California native who lives in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountains. Her stories transport readers to the 1800s, where she brings historic towns to life, peoples them with colorful characters, and adds a hint of humor. She fuels her creativity with Taco Bell® and sweet tea. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two skittish kitties.
Notes: Since my debut novel is set in California in the heart of the Gold Country, I chose to include facts intended to show the reader that I’m someone they can trust to know the area. I mentioned the kind of stories I write. I added a touch of humor since that element is in my stories. I did mention my family briefly but included a fun description of our cats.
• • •
What are some fun facts about yourself that you could include in your bio?
Image from Wikimedia Commons.
Thanks so much for the tips, Keli! One lucky commenter will receive a copy of Keli’s debut book, which releases in just 3 days…
Widow Elenora Watkins is determined to provide for herself and her daughter without relying on anyone else. Can she run a successful business after falling for the competition? Miles Rutledge finds himself willing to do anything to keep Elenora in town. But can he win her heart while putting her out of business?
P.S. – Keli has a gorgeous new website. You really should check it out.
Posted by Elise Hayes Jan 2 2012, 12:01 am in inspiration, New Year's resolutions, writer's life
It’s that time of year! Yes, it’s time to make a New Year’s Resolution for your writing.
“But wait,” you protest. “It’s January 2nd. New Year’s Resolutions needed to be made January 1st!”
Wrong. If you’re serious about the resolution, it doesn’t matter when you make it. New Year’s is a useful time, because with the end of the old year and the start of the new, we take time for self-reflection and goal setting. But before we begin, it might be useful to remind everyone that a resolution is a personal goal that relies only upon you for success. You can’t make a resolution to get published in 2012, because getting published (at least by a traditional publishing house) does not rely only upon you for success. You can, however, resolve to finish that book you’ve been working on for a while…or send out one query letter per week…or write daily…or take that craft workshop on plotting. Find a resolution that is fully in your control.
Got your resolution in mind? Ok, to enhance your chances of succeeding with it, I’ve got three tips:
Tip 1. Make your resolution public. Quirkology (a website on “the curious science of everyday lives”) conducted a study in 2007 that concluded that “Women were more successful when they told their friends and family about their resolution, or were encouraged to be especially resilient and not to give up because they had reverted to the old habits (e.g., if dieting, treating a chocolate binge as a temporary setback rather than as failure).” (to see the full article, go to http://www.quirkology.com/UK/Experiment_resolution.shtml)
Translation: Tell people about your resolution. Lots of people. Post it here, for the Rubies. Tell your critique partners. Make it public and ask people to check in with you.
Tip 2. Make the goal a real one by setting up a calendar or by outlining specific steps you plan to follow. For instance, this year my goal is to make writing a more regular part of my weekly life. But I’m less likely to succeed if I just say, “I want to make writing a more regular part of my weekly life.” Instead, I need to set a specific, calendar-related goal for myself, such as, “I’m going to write at least three times a week, for a minimum of 10 minutes” (with the hope that once my butt is in the chair and my fingers are on the keyboard, I’ll stay longer than 10 minutes most nights). Or, better, I could say, “I’m going to write on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, plus Saturdays while my daughter is at gymnastics.”
If your goal is craft-oriented, don’t just say, “I want to work on developing deeper emotions in my characters.” Instead, do some research. Is there a craft workshop online or offered by your RWA chapter that you could enroll in? Or a book on character emotion that you could borrow from the library and use as a guide? Can you create a chart where you go through your book, scene by scene, and record whether you’ve delved into character emotions? What tool will work for you? What concrete plans can you make to nudge you forward?
Tip 3. Make the activity a habit. A resolution is usually a long-term project that can only succeed if it becomes a habit. Last year, I had a craft-oriented goal of incorporating more emotions into my characters–and succeeded because I got in the habit of stopping myself at the end of each scene to ask whether I had really explored both of the main characters’ emotional reactions to the action of the scene. If the answer was “no,” then I went back into the scene. Habits–good habits–are powerful.
For this year’s process goal, I’m in luck: the Ruby Winter Writing Festival is just around the corner. During last winter’s Ruby festival, I wrote more in the winter months than I have ever written during the school year. What I found out during the festival was that incorporating writing into my regular weekly schedule was largely a question of habit: once I started doing it–and was holding myself publically accountable by giving weekly reports to the Rubies–I found time I had never before succeeded in finding. Of course, last year, I didn’t stick with it beyond the festival. This year, my life circumstances have changed enough to make me think I’ve got a real shot at writing three times a week through most of the year. That’s my resolution and I’m making it public to all of you!
So…It’s time to make your resolution public. Share with the Rubies your writing resolution for 2012, whether it’s craft or process-related!