Writer Separation Anxiety: Guest Post by Eva Lesko Natiello

One of my new favorite authors is Eva Lesko Natiello. I had the privilege of editing Eva’s debut novel, The Memory Box, and let me tell you, it’s quite a story! I’m so excited for everyone to read it that I have to share the back cover blurb Eva’s been working on:

Caroline Thompson doesn’t engage in the pettiness that fuels the gossipmonger moms of affluent Farhaven. She pays no mind to their latest pastime: Googling everyone in town to dig up dirt for their lively Bunco babble. When Caroline’s told that her name appears only three times, she’s actually relieved. Then a pang of insecurity prods Caroline to Google her maiden name—a name none of them know. The hits cascade like a tsunami. But there’s a problem. What she reads can’t possibly be true. Every mention is shocking, horrifying even. Worse yet, they contradict everything she remembers.  Divulging this to anyone could be disastrous. Caroline is hurled into a state of paranoia—upending her happy family life—as she seeks to prove the allegations false before someone discovers them.

Be careful what you search for.

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I had so much fun working with Eva that I’ve invited her to guest blog several times in anticipation of her book’s publication; you can read the first two guest posts here and here. If you’ve enjoyed those, you are in for a real treat, because Eva’s sharing her version of what happens to a writer when the novel is finished. 
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ID-100144489It’s time we admit that Writer Separation Anxiety is a bona fide disorder. I’m not ashamed to say I have it; maybe others will come forward. Remember, there is strength in numbers. It may not afflict the majority of writers, but that doesn’t make us freaks.

Why do you think there are so many sequel writers?

It’s true that most writers are ecstatic to finish a manuscript. However, when I wrote The End of my novel, I was bereft.

Writer Separation Anxiety - desperately missing your characters after finishing your book.… Click To Tweet

What would become of Caroline, Andy, Lilly, all my characters? We’d been together for so long. I spent more time with them than with my real family. What would I do now?

That first morning after The End was the hardest. Time to get reacquainted with my LBTB (Life Before the Book). During the manuscript’s third edit our kitchen became depleted of anything edible. Grocery shopping was now long overdue. A chore would be good. It would keep me busy. No time to pine.

photo by Williac
photo by Williac

At the store, I strolled down the cookie aisle. Bad idea. There were Oreos everywhere. You can’t dodge a cookie with 17 varieties. I told myself to stop thinking about Andy; he’s not real. Oreos were his crutch food. The night he and Caroline got into a chandelier-trembling argument (Chapter 6) he ate 2 sleeves of Oreos with a quart of milk. Any other guy would’ve gone out and gotten bombed with his buddies. Not Andy; he plopped on the couch (which he’d later sleep on) and ate 28 cookies. I hated that night. I hated when they fought. A friend of mine accused me of being secretly in love with Andy. Which is complete hogwash. I’m married! Continue reading “Writer Separation Anxiety: Guest Post by Eva Lesko Natiello”

A Gift of Words: Guest Post by Oliver Gray

Christmas wreath

I was editing a novel the other day and thinking about how much I enjoy my work, so I posted on Facebook:

“Writing is creative, but revising is like putting together a puzzle, and editing is like wrapping a gift. I love them all!”

Writer Oliver Gray commented, “This is just begging to be turned into an Xmas-themed extended metaphor for the writing process.”

To which I replied, “Do I hear you accepting my invitation for a guest post?”

Lucky for all of us, Oliver did accept my invitation, and you’re in for a special holiday treat:

As I kid, I was notoriously bad at giving gifts. I had a penchant for stealing things that people needed (like my grandfather’s reading glasses, or the communal TV remote), wrapping them up, and giving them back to their owners as gifts on Christmas morning in some attempt to make them more appreciative of the things they already had.

My mom put a stop to my pilfer-gifting pretty quickly.

As I got older, I started to be a little more thoughtful, but just as cheap. To save precious college beer dollars, I would often write presents for people, scrawling down impromptu mock-heroic poems, brief essays on shared memories, even sometimes sappy love notes. These hand-wrought gifts seemed to be cherished (and saved me a lot of money), but it’s only now that I realize how tightly the writing process is tied to the idea of shiny wrapping papers and elaborate bows. Continue reading “A Gift of Words: Guest Post by Oliver Gray”

The Art of Editing, or Should Writers Use the Singular “They”?

should writers use the singular theyI recently completed line editing a dystopian novel. After going through my edits, the author wrote to me with several questions, prefacing them with this statement:

“I made the mistake of not pestering my last editor on details like these. I’m not making that mistake again.”

He was absolutely correct to question something he didn’t understand, and I assured him that I would answer any queries he had. After all, how can writers improve their writing if they write in a vacuum?

One of his questions concerned pronouns and antecedents:

I’ve read about the use and acceptance of gender-neutral pronouns. I prefer gender-neutral pronouns when I talk. You seem to be correcting against the use of gender-neutral pronouns in my writing. May I ask why? Is the world about to go to war over this? I really wish it wasn’t an issue, but apparently it still is. Does using gender-neutral pronouns make my writing look that bad?

I want to be one of the trendsetters that makes gender neutral pronouns the norm, but I don’t want my work to suffer for it. How do I walk that line?”

Ahhh, the controversial use of “they” with a singular antecedent, or as one of my fellow editors calls it, the “informal singular ‘they.’” Continue reading “The Art of Editing, or Should Writers Use the Singular “They”?”

Readers for Writers: Beta Readers, the Superheroes of Your Writing Team

boy-superhero-flying-around-books-black-whiteIf adding “Published Author” after your name is one of your goals for 2014, you’re probably itching to polish the NaNoWriMo manuscript or a WIP that is marinating on your hard drive  and send it out into the world.

But don’t just run a final spellcheck and pronounce your work ready for publication.

If you are serious about publishing, your first readers should be beta readers.

And just what is a beta reader?

Think of beta readers as superhero partner/readers for your WIP. Correctly employed, your superheroes can save you time and money. How? I’m glad you asked! Continue reading “Readers for Writers: Beta Readers, the Superheroes of Your Writing Team”

Film Groupies Make a Difference: Support The Red Suitcase on Indiegogo

Have you ever learned about a project and felt instantly compelled to be part of it? That’s how I felt when I heard about The Red Suitcase, a mother/daughter road movie in development about a 66-year-old woman who, with her grown daughter’s help, has to find the courage to start her life over. The film is based on a true story about the filmmaker’s mother, who suddenly found herself alone and penniless after her husband of 35 years walked out of her life, and it stars Kathleen Chalfant and Harris Yulin

Writer/producer Dana White writes,

It makes me angry that many women today, as they grow in years, are becoming more and more marginalized from our mainstream culture. My film is an attempt to both entertain (there are heaps of laughs and adventures in this film by the way), and to illuminate what I feel is a dark corner of America, where a good many women struggle, disposable and forgotten. I want to shine a light on that to people, and do it in a way that they’ll enjoy. And that THEY may have to pick up the pieces themselves one day too.

I first heard about the project from author Dorothy Sander (Aging Abundantly: A Little Book of Hope) when she asked me to proofread the updated version of her book  (one of the thank-you gifts for contributors at Indiegogo, which you can check out here). As I learned more about the film, the importance of its message for women really touched me. I made a small contribution, and I also want to help spread the word about this important film.

Dr. Patricia O’Gorman immediately saw the connection between this film and her book, The Resilient Woman, and wrote:

Using a crisis to consciously grow is the first step in my book The Resilient Woman. And that is what this extraordinary film—The Red Suitcase—is about. It asks, ‘How do I separate myself from the life I’ve lived? How do I move forward from the script I have followed, the one that told me what was expected of me as a woman, as a dutiful wife, as a mother, to see what life can hold for me now?’”

Barbara Torris wrote an inspiring piece about the film and how there really is a dearth of films out there about issues and life which reflects her reality:

I did one of those Google searches this morning using the words movies about older people and every movie that came up starred men like Clint Eastwood. Surprisingly, when I added the word women the search engine came up with older women/younger man relationship movies . . . all those icky cougar stories. But movies about older mothers in trouble and a daughter finding a way to move on with their lives? Probably not many. 

So now WE have a chance to help a movie get produced. This one is worth our attention.” 

Dorothy Sander echoed much of the same sentiment in her popular blog, Aging Abundantly: 

Good films have gone the way of manual typewriters . . . These are important films, but most will probably never see the light of day because the funds run out before they can be completed. The Red Suitcase is one such film . . . spread the word and show your support.”

Eileen Williams of Feisty Side of Fifty interviewed us on her radio show as well as wrote a wonderful article about The Red Suitcase:

The story weaves unexpected revelations, humorous adventures, and colorful characters together to create a tale that’s dramatic, funny, and heart-breakingly honest . . . If you, like me, are aching to see our own faces reflected back to us, this is one way we can take action.

Dale Carter did a piece on us on her inspiring blog, Transition Aging Parents:

I applaud Dana for embarking on such a grand endeavor to bring the depth of her story for everyone to enjoy and reflect upon.  For now, take my advice and check out Dana White’s new film.”

Photographer Robbie Kaye (@BeautyofWisdom) has been relentless on spreading the word on Twitter with her thousands of followers. Her new book Beauty and Wisdom has just been released on Amazon. You can also get it as a gift with a contribution to the film.

Visit The Red Suitcase campaign, and please consider making a donation—even just $1 or $5 will help—and help spread the word about the campaign through your own Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr, Pinterest, and other social-networking connections. Thank you for your support!

Happy Writing,

Candace

 

If you enjoyed reading this, please subscribe to my blog and never miss a post! It’s easy: Just enter your email address on the right side of this page. And please know that I’ll never sell, share, or rent your contact information—that’s a promise!

Candace Johnson is a professional freelance editor, proofreader, writer, ghostwriter, and writing coach who has worked with traditional publishers, self-published authors, and independent book packagers on nonfiction subjects ranging from memoirs to alternative medical treatments to self-help, and on fiction ranging from romance to paranormal. As an editorial specialist, Candace is passionate about offering her clients the opportunity to take their work to the next level. She believes in maintaining an author’s unique voice while helping him or her create and polish every sentence to make it the best it can be. Learn more here.

For more great writing and publishing information, check out  Change It Up Editing and Writing Services on Facebook, where I share interesting articles and links about writing and publishing.

 

Avoid Eyes That Crawl and Other Wandering Body Parts in Your Writing

I’m excited to be a guest over at Write Divas today. If you haven’t visited their site yet, you’re in for a treat! The Divas were kind enough to invite me to blog about a topic of my choice, so I decided to share some thoughts on a common problem I see in fiction: Wandering Body Parts. Here’s a preview:

“Her eyes crawled around the room.”
“His eyes combed her face.”
“Her eyes became demented.”

Those eyes, those eyes, those beautiful eyes! The windows to the soul, and all that . . . unless writers unintentionally give them the ability to do things eyes just cannot do.

Wandering body parts are usually the result of a writer getting carried away while trying to construct engaging and descriptive prose. I see it frequently while editing fiction, and it’s sooooo easy to do—and is almost always unintentional.

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Please visit Write Divas here to read the rest–and don’t forget to come back here and share your examples of cringe-worthy wandering body parts!

Happy Writing,

Candace

Overview: Step 9 of How to Write a Compelling Nonfiction Book Proposal in 10 Easy Steps

How to Write a Nonfiction Book Proposal

How do you learn what a book is about? If you’re like most readers, you read a synopsis—maybe the back cover, perhaps you read the description online. But how do agents and editors find out what a book is about when they receive a proposal? They begin by reading the Overview.

Your Overview is a synopsis of the book and why it should be published—its purpose is to give the editor as much information as possible while being as concise as possible—like an executive summary or a précis. A tall order? Yes, but think of it as advertising for your book: it grabs the reader’s attention and gives the basic information that highlights the most intriguing points. Continue reading “Overview: Step 9 of How to Write a Compelling Nonfiction Book Proposal in 10 Easy Steps”

Chapter Summaries: Step 6 of How to Write a Compelling Nonfiction Book Proposal in 10 Easy Steps

chapter summaries for nonfiction book proposalWriting a nonfiction book proposal can feel overwhelming. You have a great idea for a book, you’ve written a chapter or two and are excited about shopping it to an agent or publisher, and now it’s time to create your proposal.

Your book proposal includes sections that outline everything your (eventual) publisher needs to know to position your book in the marketplace. In the first five parts of this series, I’ve outlined what you should include in your proposal in the following sections:

I’ve outlined what you should include in the following sections of your proposal:

As I’ve mentioned previously, I’m covering these sections in the order I usually read and write proposals, since each section tends to build on those that come before.

How to Write Chapter Summaries for a Nonfiction Book Proposal #bookproposal #nonfiction… Click To Tweet

Chapter Summaries for a Nonfiction Book Proposal

Everything you’ve presented in your proposal so far has been about you, your platform, your marketing plans, and the competition for your book. Now the rubber meets the road, so to speak, as you describe your book in enough detail to let an agent or editor understand what it’s about and why it is unique in the market—and why it will be profitable to publish.

Summarize each chapter in a paragraph or two, giving the agent or editor a feel for how your book covers the subject, demonstrating your writing ability and style, and presenting the information each chapter will cover and what questions it will raise and answer.

These summaries are the reason a nonfiction book proposal will sell an idea, even before you’ve written the entire manuscript—they give agents and editors an idea about the arc and flow of your manuscript.

As you write the summaries, think outline or précis—the goal is to be clear, compelling, and concise. Literary agent Jeanne Fredericks suggests, “To make the summaries more appealing, include some intriguing case histories, anecdotes or data, if possible. Communicate how the chapters will build on each other and advance your thesis.” And the Bradford Literary Agency suggests, “The style in which you deliver the description should be informed by the type of non-fiction book you are selling. A how-to book chapter description would necessarily be quite different from a travel narrative chapter description.”

While it’s important to have a topic or overview sentence to begin each chapter summary, this is the place to let your writing shine, so make sure each summary reads like a mini-chapters, not like a drab and boring outline. Don’t start each one with a version of “In this chapter I’ll discuss.”

Instead, do show: Continue reading “Chapter Summaries: Step 6 of How to Write a Compelling Nonfiction Book Proposal in 10 Easy Steps”

The Divas Recommend: How to (Almost) Instantly Improve Your Writing by Candace Johnson 

The Divas Recommend: How to (Almost) Instantly Improve Your Writing by Candace Johnson (via http://writedivas.com)

Hello Diva followers! On this week’s The Divas Recommend, we bring you the fabulous blog Change It Up Editing, run by editor Candace Johnson. Change It Up Editing…

Continue reading “The Divas Recommend: How to (Almost) Instantly Improve Your Writing by Candace Johnson “

The Writer and the Platform: Guest post by Chris Mentzer

Writer platformOn the heels of my post about the importance of a strong author bio in your book proposal, author Chris Mentzer offered to further discuss that elusive author platform we hear so much about. (Chris’s book Nexus of the Worlds will be published by Tiger Dynasty Publishing in December, so he’s lived this firsthand.) Chris and I connected through social media, and we are both proponents of building those personal relationships  every author needs to create a strong platform. I know you’ll enjoy reading his thoughts, and don’t forget to visit Chris’s blog at Tales from the Fifth Tower when you’re finished here. Take it away, Chris:

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One of the hot topics of discussion in the world of writing concerns the writer’s platform. Some ask, “Should I have one, even though I don’t have a book?” or “I’m fiction author, so is it necessary for me to have one?” Let’s look at both these questions and some related ones.

What Is a Platform?

In simple terms, and speaking from a material standpoint, a platform is a series of planks connected together to make a raised surface for an individual to stand on. In politics, a platform is a candidate’s basis for being elected; each plank is a promise that he makes to be elected. In writing, the platform is your place in cyberspace for people to find you and know who you are among other writers. Each plank is an outlet where you can be noticed and heard.

A writer platform is your place in cyberspace for people to find you and know who you are...… Click To Tweet

The Planks of the Writer’s Platform

I read articles that say a writer’s blog or website is the platform, as that is the hub of his or her activity. In theory, I agree with this. However, looking at the definition of platform, the blog is only one part of the entire structure. It may be the main section, but it is not the whole platform. When you add your presence on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and other social media outlets, those the additional planks strengthen the entire platform. Author interviews, books blurbs, author bios, and book trailers are additional planks.

But I Don’t Have a Published Book

There are a lot of writers out there who claim they don’t need a platform since they don’t have a book to sell. I can understand this, but in the busy world of cyberspace, even with a book you may not be heard; it might take months—even years—to develop a fan base for you and your books.

Let’s look at this through the lens of a historical landmark event. Everyone is familiar with the moon landing in 1969. We are introduced to the astronauts, we follow them to the rocket, we cheer the liftoff, and then we rejoice as it lands and the astronauts walk on the surface. The significance of this (besides the event itself) is that we know a great deal about it before long before the rocket leaves the launch pad. In a speech on May 25, 1961, President Kennedy promised we would put a man on the moon before the decade was over. That was eight years before it happened.

Now, let’s suppose that you, the author, are an astronaut, and your book is the moon landing. NASA is your publisher (traditional or self-publishing). Your platform then is the announcement to the country that you are heading to the moon writing a book. The news travels around from one person to the next, interviews are posted in papers and on television, and this leads up to your departure into space book being released. If you release the book first and then develop a platform, it’s the same as landing on the moon first and then telling everyone about it. Imagine the disappointed astronaut on the moon’s surface jumping up and down and waving his arms at the people on earth—and nobody is paying attention.

Selling Yourself

Your platform sells you and your brand and allows people to get to know you and your style of writing, and from there you build a fan base of followers. That way, when the book is released, you already have the attention of a number of people who will buy your book and/or tell others about it, and you hope they will get on board and buy as well.

How do you sell yourself? That’s where the blog comes into play. Talk about yourself, the genre you write, the books you have read, and other basic things about who you are and what makes you tick. Have someone interview you asking these questions. There are bloggers out there who specialize in helping people get discovered even before a book is available. On Twitter, follow fellow authors of the same genre and pick their brains. Find out how they got to where they are right now. They may soon follow you, and from there you can develop a following of your own.

But I’m a Fiction Writer Continue reading “The Writer and the Platform: Guest post by Chris Mentzer”