One Final Blast of Winter

As Mother Nature blasts the North East with one last blast of cold and snow reminding us all of nature’s power and quiet beauty I stay indoors and sit in front of my computer for hours on end trying to finish the list of resolutions that I made in the New Year before spring and the joy of being outside overtake my every thought.

One resolution I made this year was to finish and market my humorous cozy mystery.  This is a rewarding but daunting task and reminded me of the following quotes which I have heard (author unknown).

Success is no accident.  It is the result of hard work and loving what you do or learning to do.

Hard work pays off in the future.  Laziness pays off now.

Hunter

Everyone has a story.  Now go out and sell yours – Carole Lynn Jones

Because the premise of my blog is to help the beginning writer with tips I have learned and also encourage below is a list of several tips I can offer.

Finish your book before querying.

Write your query letter and synopsis.

The internet can be your friend for searching agents – manuscript wish list – (this is not a place to promote your story, simply a place for agents to list their wishes).

Search the type of book you are promoting before querying.  You do not want to waste an agent’s time who is not currently  accepting your genre.

Follow the submission guidelines.

Be professional.

Keep writing while you wait for your responses.

May everyone who reads my short blog this month find inspiration to complete your long overdue projects.  Back to work.., Happy Writing all!

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Logline / Tagline

Motivated by discussion and information gathered from the wonderful writers in my biweekly critique group I took upon myself the task of writing a logline and a tagline for my current manuscript (short story-mystery).  Below are some tips for what is needed to write a good (great) logline.  I gladly pass it along.

Logline vs. Tagline

Logline – one to two sentence description of a story – example of logline – A young man and woman from different social classes fall in love aboard a grand ship headed on a ill-fated journey at sea (Titanic)

Tagline – under ten words that evoke emotion about a story (used in the film industry as a marketing tool) – example of tagline – For three men the Civil War wasn’t hell. It was practice! (The Good, The Bad and The Ugly)

Tips –

  1. You have worked so hard on your manuscript now you need to condense it into one (or two) sentences.  Impossible right.  But if you can’t do this, you can’t pitch your story.  Also, if you can’t do this, it isn’t the logline, it is probably your story which needs work.
  2. The logline needs to provide the interesting elements of your story and make the reader want to read it.  If you can’t pitch your idea in one or two sentences people will lose interest.
  3. A logline must have the following – protagonist, conflict/their goal and stakes.
  4. Don’t use your character’s name (instead tell us something about your character-use adjectives)
  5. Loglines are like poetry – write, revise and get feedback.
  6. Avoid clichés.

My logline – A comedic calamity-filled cemetery assistant takes on the task of solely solving a deceased socialite’s jewelry theft putting herself in jeopardy of becoming the cemetery’s next internment.

My tagline – The right accessory can prevent murder.

I hope this post generates you to write your own loglines and I would love to hear them if you so wish to comment me back.

Happy Writing!

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Tis the Season

Everyone is busy rushing here and there.

All for a day that comes but once a year.

In a society consumed with competition instead of brotherly love.

Remember to stop and give thanks to the one above.

 

During this season, daily writing is worth it in the long run.

Even if it is next year before your manuscript is done.

 

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart – William Wordsworth

You are a better writer today than you were yesterday – unknown

 

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My Writing Journey – A Hobby, A Passion, A New Career

A good friend recently told me not to dwell on yet another rejection of my current manuscript.  She said “It is only a hobby. Not your career.”

If I would have kept a journal of my writing path, it would read something like this:

I am invited to a creative writing class by a close friend.  Thinking I might like this as I always considered myself creative, I agreed.  Remembering how many years ago (before children) I had sent a few manuscripts to several publishing agencies and received good feedback.

The instructor’s first assignment write a short story.

I will write my “Caroleisms” as I like to call them (quotes on life I love to refer to with friends and family)  My favorite – “Don’t be a mashed potato.  Stand up and be a French fry.”

Instead I wrote about my cats.

At the time I did not know the instructor was a cat lover.  This grew a mutual bond.  She and the class loved my story and I loved my newfound aspiration to write and see my name in print.

She introduced me to a wonderful new editor and she and the editor critiqued my work.

The long learning process began.

I read, researched and discovered the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers) and through them found a wonderful children’s critique group from which I have previously spoke of.  I have been told that it takes seven long years on average to break into the world of published writer.  It has been a little over three years and I am at awe by the immense amount of knowledge I have obtained and the wonderful guidance and support I receive.

So, to answer my friends statement – When does your hobby become your passion or your new career.  I don’t know, but I do know this –

When one hour of writing, researching and reading becomes four or five hours or every free minute  – when you cannot get enough information on writing, revising and publishing – you are hooked and it is definitely more than a hobby.

I would love to hear feedback of your writing journey.

Happy Writing.

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My Free Time

In every effort to become a better writer, I spend a good deal of my free time writing.    To make the most of this time, I have implemented several recent changes –

I have devoted a room strictly for writing and like a daily job, have a set schedule.

While writing, I do not deviate from the task at hand to check social media, answer the phone, or take a break to talk to family members.

I have reorganized my stockpile of indispensable materials and keep items that are used every day within easy reach.

I have also learned that to improve my craft I need to spend some free time doing other things I love.  By doing this, I have found that my stories and characters grow and become richer.  Others thoughts and ideas help to reinvent both myself and my stories.

In my free time, I enjoy reading, exercise, attending the theatre (plays) and spending time with family and friends.

How do you spend your free time?

Happy Writing!

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The importance of a GREAT critique group

I am very fortunate to have found a wonderful group of writers who share their stories with me on a biweekly basis.

I have learned many things from these people.

Below are my thoughts on what to look for in a critique group whether it be a group that meets regularly or an online critique group or partner.

Look for people who are not only complementary and voice your strengths in writing, but question you on the purpose of your story, the genre you are writing for and the arcs in your story.  They question your characters and their motivation.

A great writing group motivates you.  They support, gently guide and encourage you.  Their networking sources and experiences (good or bad) are invaluable.

How to critique others is something that is also an invaluable lesson.

Don’t critique unless you are invited to do so

Start with strengths – be objective on weaknesses

Invite questions from them – what do they feel is weak and confusing

Don’t refer to “you” – refer to the piece

Be specific, not vague

Avoid strong negative language – this might be more compelling if. . .

Point out effective words/ill-chosen words, the strongest points/weakest points

Learning to critique takes time – but time is what we all need to become better writers

Happy writing!

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Villanelle

vil·la·nelle
noun: villanelle; plural noun: villanelles
a nineteen-line poem with two rhymes throughout, consisting of five tercets and a quatrain, with the first and third lines of the opening tercet recurring alternately at the end of the other tercets and with both repeated at the close of the concluding quatrain.
Line 1 repeats as line 6, 12 and 18.  Line 3 repeats as line 9, 15 and 19.
I am not a poet, but what a fun way to learn poetry.  Below are my attempts at writing villanelles.

Nine long months till we meet you.
A quiet house, an empty room.
Should we paint pink or blue?
Please give us a clue.
What you will want we can’t assume.
Nine long months till we meet you.
In preparation we bought a crib and cradle too.
We framed the first picture, you in the womb.
Should we paint pink or blue?
Restful nights there will be few.
Will your voice fill the house with singing or shouts of kaboom?
Nine long months till we meet you.
We purchased a blanket for peek – a – boo.
Until you arrive our lives cannot resume.
Should we paint pink or blue?
There is so much to do.
As we wait, my stomach continues to bloom.
Nine long months till we meet you.
Should we paint pink or blue?

Can I borrow the old car?
Please Mom – What do you think Dad?
I promise I won’t drive far.
I know you have a spare key in the antique cookie jar.
Letting me drive isn’t that bad.
Can I borrow the old car?
But I thought I was your shining star.
I am no longer a young lad.
I promise I won’t drive far.
No, I won’t drive it like a sports car.
You won’t have to take out a missing person ad.
Can I borrow the old car?
I’m too young to go to the bar.
I soon will be a high school grad.
I promise I won’t drive far.
Why would you think I will return in a squad car?
I promise to never again make you mad.
Can I borrow the old car?
I promise I won’t drive far.

Another  version :

Can I borrow the old car?
Can I please have the key?
I promise I won’t drive far.
Don’t you trust me?
I want to roll down the windows and be free.
Can I borrow the old car?
But I thought I was your shining star.
I thought I was your pride and fill your heart with glee.
I promise I won’t drive far.
No, I won’t drive it like a sports car.
I won’t pick up a friend or two or three.
Can I borrow the old car?
I’m too young to go to the bar.
I won’t end up before the judge entering a plea.
I promise I won’t drive far.
Why would you think I will return in a squad car?
A safe driver I will be.
Can I borrow the old car?
I promise I won’t drive far.

Why didn’t I listen when you were here?
I go through daily choices, tasks and deeds alone.
Your wisdom I now hold dear.
I pray my choices would make you cheer.
If only I would have known.
Why didn’t I listen when you were here?
You made it right, you made it clear.
The love and lessons you had sown.
Your wisdom I now hold dear.
Your reassurance and strength not near.
I would never choose to go it on my own.
Why didn’t I listen when you were here?
What to do without you, my biggest fear.
I would give anything to hear you answer the phone.
Your wisdom I now hold dear.
As I grow older, I see you in my own mirror.
You would be amazed at how the kids have grown.
Why didn’t I listen when you were here?
Your wisdom I now hold dear.


Raindrops flowing freely from the skies.
I chose you to give my soul.
Teardrops flowing freely from my eyes.
Our love riddled with so many lies.
You broke my heart, my love you stole.
Raindrops flowing freely from the skies.
Romance filled with heartfelt tries.
You ripped my heart and left a gaping hole.
Teardrops flowing freely from my eyes.
I could have fallen for many other guys.
Us together made my life whole.
Raindrops flowing freely from the skies.
My heart longs to be wise.
You will never know the importance of your role.
Teardrops flowing freely from my eyes.
The memory of our love as it dies.
I would love to again take your hand and stroll.
Raindrops flowing freely from the skies.
Teardrops flowing freely from my eyes.


If you decide to try writing villanelles, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
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