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Contests – Can They Help Even if You Don’t Win?

Our Iowa Romance Novelist’s group met today. I mentioned in an earlier post that our theme this year is Survivor. This is not exactly like the television show. No one will get kicked off the island but we are attempting to help each other achieve our goals by working as a team.

This month’s program was about contests. We each received the first five pages of a Golden Heart winner’s manuscript. She then gave us the instructions for judging it. There were different points allotted for romance, plot, writing, and character.

As a group, we were all over the board with our answers. It was all subjective. Some looked only at what they could see. Others judged off of where they could see the story going. We were not aware when we started that this was a winning entry. This exercise gave us a feel for how an agent or an editor might review a submission. We all agreed, they would probably make a decision within those first five pages.

Part of the challenge is that we have to submit something to a contest before the next meeting. If we do, we will have a chance to win our entry fee. I am now searching for something I can enter. Since my manuscript is not complete, I am limited to something that doesn’t involve submitting a large portion of my work.

I am now writing my first draft. Keep an eye on my word counter here on my blog and you will be able to see my progress. I am also saving vacation time this year in the hopes that with a completed manuscript I can start attending more writer’s conferences in 2014.

I do continue to read because like Stephen King, I don’t think you can be a serious writer and not read. I usually mix it up with novels and writing how to books.  I finished reading Beautiful Creatures and really enjoyed it. I read Mary Buckam’s Writing Active Setting Book 1 and I purchased Book 2. I think those will really help when I get into the editing stage for adding depth to the story. Because I have a 40 minute commute to work each day I listen to audio books. I finished Evanovich’s Notorious Nineteen and I am currently listening to a Robert B Parker’s Jesse Stone book.

I will let you know next time what contest I enter. Hope you have a great week writing. Now get off the internet and write.

Virginia

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2013 in Write a Novel

 

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Tuesday Tip

“With the right hat, nothing else matters.” LaPaloma Hats

A writer has to wear many hats while writing a book. While pounding out that first draft you have to wear the writer’s hat. Keep that hat on your head until you’ve finished the first draft. Don’t even think about putting on the Editor’s hat, yet.

But once you’ve written The End, it still isn’t time to put on that Editor’s hat. Give yourself a break. Let the story rest for a while before you jump back in for an edit. Time will allow you a fresher view.

When the time is right, pull the Editor’s hat out and start reading through your work. If a scene doesn’t have a purpose or help move the story forward, weed it out. If you have too many characters and could consolidate some, get rid of them. Kill your darlings and get on with it.

Once you’ve polished the story and it sparkles, take off that Editor’s hat and grab your Marketing hat. Research who might be interested in your story and start sending your work out. Keep it organized so you don’t forget who you’ve sent to and who has responded. Attend some conferences with the intention of pitching your book.  Be proud when someone offers a contract. With persistence it will happen, if you want it enough. Be proud also of those rejections. You are miles further along than many writers.

Once you’ve sold sit back for a while, maybe on the beach, with a good book and a beach hat. Until you’ve received your revisions and then it’s time to grab the Editor’s hat again…

Do you find it difficult to focus on each phase of your writing? Which hat are you most comfortable wearing?

Wishing you a wonderful week of writing.

Virginia

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2012 in Write a Novel

 

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‘The First 50 Pages’ – A Book Review

If you can’t hook an agent or an editor, how can you expect to hook a reader?

Just finished reading‘The First 50 Pages’ Engage Agents, Editors, and Readers, and Set Up Your Novel for Success by Jeff Gerke.

Donald Maass even wrote a blurb for the cover – “From the insider’s perspective, everything they’re not telling you about your first 50 pages. Invaluable.”  Jeff is an editor and author of fiction and nonfiction. I haven’t read any of his fiction but I had read Plot Versus Character: A Balanced Approach to Writing Great Fiction”. If you are writing to publish, I would recommend this book as well. It breaks down the differences between people who outline and those who don’t and how you can improve by looking at the process from the other kind of writer’s perspective.

 

Jeff broke ‘The First 50 Pages’ down into two parts. Part one covers the submission process, including proposal killers and a list of mistakes he has seen over and over again with submissions.

Part two consists of what your first 50 pages needs to accomplish. He spells out what you should and shouldn’t do to get published. Jeff’s explanations are easy to understand and he uses examples of both good and bad writing. I was surprised that some of those examples were from published books and well known authors. He showed how they could have been better.

Most of the mistakes made are considered lazy writing. It’s easier to tell instead of show is probably the biggest misstep. He used both books and movies for his examples.

I plan to keep this book handy once my first draft is finished and I’ve started revisions. Jeff reinforced how important beginnings are for publication. I think my biggest surprise was his advise on prologues. He thinks they have been given a bad rap and if done effectively, he thinks they can improve the beginning of a story. Jeff did admit that some Editors are so against them that he has heard of one in particular who would rip it off the front of the manuscript and throw it away before reading the material.

If you’re looking for a writing book to help motivate you to write better, check this one out, I don’t think you will regret it.

May your writing week be productive and your reading enjoyable.

Virginia

 

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