Flashback: Feeding The Dream (or staying motivated)

When you see “Flashback” in front of an article, it means it is an article that originally appeared on Word Museum in the beginning before it was sold and then regained by Lori. We have reposted these articles, because we feel they add great value to the site. Where possible we include the date of the original article.

Written By: Pamela S. Thibodeaux
Date: 11/15/2001

Article

The NOLA conference held March 2-3, 2001 in Shreveport, LA was a lively affair. Guest speakers Linda Kay and Metsy Hingle spoke of the different types of writers: fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants or organized (very organized!). Though I’ve found that I’m pretty organized in other areas, when it comes to my writing, I’m more like Linda. I “fly off into the mist” with my characters then go back and see if I can make some sense out of what they’ve done. However, Metsy gave a very informative speech and some real time-cutting advice when she gave us an example of a one-page pitch. This little tool would be very useful whether pitching to an agent or editor or simply organizing your thoughts and ideas into feasible story plots.

The concept is amazing! In one paragraph each you introduce your main characters, the plot, the resolution, the hook. You can also list cover ideas or any other information that may be important to the overall book. For those of you-like me-who hate the synopsis, it will be a great way to narrow your story down enough to write that dreaded paper. Thank You Metsy for this idea! Author Susan Grant encouraged us all to “believe in your book, believe in your self and take that extra step in promoting your work.”

We should all take a page, or chapter, out of Susan’s book and really push our work. After all, it’s a great accomplishment to finish a book much less get it published. So, believe in yourself! Toot your own horn honey, you deserve it! But let’s remember to temper that toot with humility. No one likes an arrogant, snotty author (or arrogant, snotty anybody!)

Other speakers Barbara Dawson Smith, Dr. Helen Taylor and Dr. Julie Nelson rounded out the program by speaking on subjects such as Making your book a page turner, Insights into Medieval history and the psyche of romance readers and writers. And, last but certainly not least, Kate Sever, Associate Editor at Dorchester Publishing was sweet and charming while answering a host of questions about what Dorchester was looking for now and in the near future as well as questions about editors in general before hosting the editor/author appointments. Overall the conference was a huge success (in my opinion anyway). One of the highlights of the day was when everyone participated in a friendly discussion on the “secret” to getting published. As a newly published author, I found it exciting-yet humbling-that my opinion was solicited. However, like all authors we discovered, once again, that there is no real secret to getting published. A lot of factors are involved: writing the best book you can, timing, luck or fate or grace (whichever you choose to believe). But, if we had to narrow it down to only one key, we agreed that it would be persistence. Believe in yourself and feed the dream. Write, submit, write, enter contests, write, attend conferences, write. Believe in yourself and don’t give up! Feed the dream. Take your work that extra step by writing something other than the norm.

If you write long, historical novels, try a short contemporary. If you write books period, write a short story. It takes experimenting and persistence to get your name out there. Who knows, getting a short story or two (or an article or two) published may generate enough interest in your writing to get that agent and/or editor to take notice! We all have our unique stories about how we got started, how many books we wrote before we got the call (or email) and how long it took to get published. For me, a very long time.

My writing began 19 years ago in five-subject notebooks. In 1993 I got my very first word processor. At that time I was working on a novel of approx. 110,000 words (or three notebooks) so you can imagine how long it took to type it in. A year! If you count the years between 1993 and 2000 (the year one of my books got e-published) that I’ve continued writing, submitting, polishing, submitting again, editing, submitting again, writing some more, submitting that, fending off depression over countless rejections…(not to mention the fact that my book isn’t ‘recognized’ as published) it would have been very easy to give up. In fact, I quit writing several times! 🙂 Alas, we all know that it’s really not possible for a writer to quit. We may take a break or stop for long periods of time, however, we almost always end up writing and if we write long enough and try hard enough, the dream will come true. So feed the dream. Write. Research. Submit. Read. Write. Submit. Write some more. Ignore the rejections. Persist. Feed the dream. And remember: When you dream, dream big because all of Heaven is dreaming with you!

Flashback: My Point of View (or how important is pov anyway?)

When you see “Flashback” in front of an article, it means it is an article that originally appeared on Word Museum in the beginning before it was sold and then regained by Lori. We have reposted these articles, because we feel they add great value to the site. Where possible we include the date of the original article.

Written By: Pamela S Thibodeaux
Date: 11/15/2001

Article

Recently I received the score sheets from a contest I entered earlier this year. My writing was raked over the coals due to point of view. I got comments such as “frequent change of POV is distracting,” and “POV is very confusing.” One judge went on to say that I needed to concentrate on plotting, pacing and the rules of romance writing. C’mon I’ve had MANY people read my work (I’ve even paid for a professional, detailed critique) and NO ONE has EVER led me to believe it was THAT bad. Maybe they were just being nice. <g>

A bit confusing to me was the fact that, out of 3 judges, one gave me a score of 4 (almost there, needs a little polishing) in the area of POV. The other two gave me a 2 and a 1 respectively. Anyway, it got me thinking. Just how important is point of view? How could POV be such an issue with two judges and one say that it only needed a “little” polishing? Was it really that bad that it distracted from the story?

For research, I read (or should I say re-read for the umpteenth time) a book by one of the most popular authors of our time, Nora Roberts. What did I discern? If POV is REALLY such an issue, this lady would not be published today. Every other paragraph, two at the most, is a different POV. Now granted, there are huge blocks of text in her books where Ms. Roberts focuses on one character’s POV, but for the most part this is not the case. Now, I’ve heard it said that you can do anything when you’re Nora Roberts. Frankly I agree. The woman happens to be one of my favorite authors, top of the list, top in the industry. Let’s face it, Nora Roberts is the Top Gun of romance writing. And why? Certainly not because her POV is perfect. She’s top because she has an incredible knack for telling a beautiful story. One in which we all sigh longingly at the end because we know her characters will live happily ever after and pray that we have even the slightest chance of emulating her success in doing the same.

What’s Ms. Robert’s story-telling talent got to do with my point of view? My point of view is this: If the story is great, POV isn’t such a big deal. It’s like a group of people having a conversation; if we focus on the POV of only one person what do we have? Someone monopolizing the conversation! Think about your favorite TV show, they are constantly switching scenes to include what’s going on with all of the characters. Some call that cliff hangers, some call it hooks. Whatever you call it, it’s what keeps the audience hooked, it’s what keeps them tuning in, it’s what keeps them turning pages. When you have a scene involving several characters, how will you know how they all feel if you don’t explore their POV on the subject at hand? How is it possible to do this by focusing on one character’s POV per scene? Please, don’t misunderstand me, there is NO excuse for sloppy writing!! I just think too much unnecessary emphasis is put on POV.

We’ve heard it all: He/she can’t see the angry glint in their own eyes, she can’t see the blush on her cheeks, etc, etc, etc. But, pick up ANY good book and you’ll find sentences such as this one from Nora Robert’s book Second Nature “The frown in his eyes came too quickly to be noticed.” The paragraph goes on with the hero wondering how the heroine knew something about him that no one else did. Now you tell me, how did he know there was a frown in his eyes? EXACTLY. And while reading the book I couldn’t care less whether or not HE knew there was a frown in HIS eyes!! So what did I do with my critique from the contest? I thanked the judges for their efforts. I value their input and I’ll take EVERY bit of advice I can get to improve my craft. Feedback was why I entered the contest in the first place. Then I read and re-read my manuscript, cleaning it up where possible.

What did I learn? POV can be distracting. However, if re-writing the scene while keeping EVERY rule you know in mind takes away from the story or in any way impairs the flow, LEAVE IT ALONE! What’s the point of this article? Just this: We should be mindful of the rules of writing, we should do our best to abide by them, but in the end, our only obligation is to the story within us. The rest, as they say, will take care of itself. What’s your point of view?

Overcoming Self-Doubt and Naysayers

by: Lori Soard

Ever hear that still little voice that whispers into your ear, “You’ll never be a real writer!” ? Perhaps your little voice is a family member who thinks you’ve “gone off the deep end” to pursue writing. Whatever the source of the doubt, it is at times difficult to overcome. Here a few tips for keeping positive in the face of naysayers.

1) Write down your goals. This will make them seem more concrete and will give you specifics to work toward. Be realistic but challenge yourself.

2) When writing, make a conscience effort to say, “I’m working.” If someone calls, never say, “I’m writing.” They often take that as a sign that you aren’t doing anything <ha ha> and keep right on chatting. Tell them you are “working.” Not only will this show your family and friends you’re serious about this path you’ve chosen but it will help you remind yourself.

3) Try to set a schedule for your writing. Even if you only have 15 minutes a day, make it clear that those are your 15 minutes and anyone interrupting does so at their own risk.

4) Surround yourself with peers who will support you when you’re down. Online networks are wonderful for this. There are many chat rooms, online chapters, listservs and much more to help you through your down times.

5) Read stories about others’ successes and how they overcame self-doubt.

6) Rent an audio tape from your local library on self-improvement. Something like “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” It can motivate you and give you a new outlook on life.

7) Invest in your career. You don’t have to be rich to invest in a fantastic new ink pen that feels comfortable in your hand and you enjoy writing notes with.

8) Submit your work. Be brave. Yes, you might get rejected. But, you also might get some wonderful comments from an editor and grow as a writer.

9) Join a critique group. Attend a conference. Read a book on writing. Improve your skill at every opportunity.

10) Never give up. Perseverance does pay. You might not sell yoru first book or your seventh, but what if you give up after number seven and number eight was the one that would have sold?