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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Five Worst Mistakes An Author Can Make

From time to time all authors make mistakes, but here are five that we need to avoid like the Lamidian plague:

#1.   Sending out a ms before it's ready to be published. I know you're eager to publish---so was I. But it's a huge mistake to jump the gun. I advise authors to let their ms rest, "marinate", "simmer", whatever you want to call it. Then look at it with new eyes. You are much more likely to spot your mistakes. If there are gaping holes in your plot or weak spots, they should jump out at you. Then rewrite, revise, and edit as needed. You may need to repeat this process several times.

#2.   Depending on an editor or proofreader to "fix" your ms for you. You need a proper knowledge of grammar, punctuation, spelling, sentence structure, etc.  If you aren't willing to put in the required effort, chances are no one else is going to be bothered "fixing" your writing. Make your work the best it can be before other eyes see it.

#3.   Neglecting to research the publishing house or small press you submit your ms to. If a house specializes in publishing Romances, chances are good that they won't be interested in your Gothic mystery! Your chances of having an ms considered or accepted are a heck of a lot better if you've targeted your publisher intelligently.

#4.   Allowing rejection to discourage you from sending out your ms yet again. Rejection hurts! But you simply cannot allow rejection to stop you. Keep sending out that ms. Double your efforts; be determined to prove the rejectors wrong. Remember the old saying: Where there's a will, there's a way.

#5.   Stopping writing entirely---the biggest mistake of all! If you are born to be a writer, you'll never escape the urge to write. It will haunt you day and night until you do what you are meant to do. This doesn't mean any of us are born knowing HOW to write. Writing is a skill set that must be learned and honed to perfection. A true writer is willing to invest considerable time and energy into becoming the best they can be and then never gives up.

Here's to your ultimate success!


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Love of Reading

Want to pass on a love of reading to your kids, grandkids, or other youngsters? Start reading aloud to them at a very young age. Choose age appropriate material. Make reading aloud fun, interesting, and exciting. If you sound bored, the kids will be bored. Make reading aloud a habit, whether it's at bedtime or whenever.

Bring kids with you to the library and to bookstores. Make those trips fun. Have a home library of favorite books. Give kids their own books and bookshelves or a special place on the bookshelf. Give books as gifts, but don't force kids to read what you like. Respect their preferences.

Avoid using phrases like: "What are you reading that for?" Discourage others from belittling reading in kids' hearing, ie: "Reading is a waste of time." "Wouldn't you rather be playing outside?"

Maybe best of all, let kids see you reading. Let them know how much you love books and which books you read and loved as a child. Encourage them to read on their own, or with help, on a regular basis. Help them improve their reading skills---and not just to aim for better grades.

If you bring kids to a movie or watch a DVD based on a book, afterward encourage them to try reading the actual book. Even if you don't have kids of your own, if you are a writer, your aim should be to nurture the next generation of readers---and many generations after that! The more kids there are who love to read, the more call there will be in the future for new books and new writers.

Keep on writing and promote love of reading!


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Writers Take Warning!

As an avid reader, I hate slogging through page after page of descriptions that have absolutely nothing to do with advancing the story. Don't bother with minutia! Set the stage. Give the reader the minimum amount of detail. Mention the parts important to your story and skip most of the rest.

Show me who your characters are---don't tell me. That's no fun! I want to discover and evaluate your characters on my own. What's worse, if you have to point out to the reader who is the hero and who is the villain, you've failed as a writer.

Your prose may be absolutely beautiful, but if you can't tell a decent story in a clear manner, you are wasting your time---and the reader's. Don't make me want to beat you about the head! ( Really, I'm not a violent person, but there have been times...)

Keep on writing and write better!


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

How Many Words Did You Write Today?

This is a question authors frequently ask each other---and themselves! But I'm not so sure this is the question we should be asking. I'd rather be asked, How good was the writing you did today? After all, putting a few thousand words down on paper or on a computer screen isn't what's really important. We should be focused on the quality of our words, not the quantity.

Is it really a matter of "the more words, the better"? If those words aren't the right words, the best we can write, if they fail to express what we mean them to, then we need to concentrate on improving the quality of our work.

Of course, rough drafts are just that---rough. Much revision and editing are always necessary to smooth out the bumps. But starting with the first draft, we need to aim for quality. Instead of struggling to churn out as many words as possible, aim to produce, instead, the absolute best work you can possibly come up with.

So my mantra is: Aim for quality, not quantity! Agree or disagree?

Keep on writing!


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Other Way Around

While I was watching my DVD of the first season of The Amazing Race, I was surprised to learn that part of the first Star Wars movie, A New Hope, was filmed in Africa---in a place called Tatooine! Never heard of it except in that movie. But the setting was perfect, never would've guessed it wasn't a set constructed for the movie.

For a long time now I've realized that SF media have influenced real life. A prime example: Star Trek's communicators are now our cell phones, part of our daily lives. But for some strange reason, I never realized that it also worked the other way around!

Now I have to wonder, if we discover an ice-planet, will it automatically be christened Hoth? Or maybe, ahem!---Tartarus? How about naming our next space station Babylon 5? I'd be all for that. It would be very appropriate, I think. After all, there is a precedent. Do you recall that the first space shuttle was named Enterprise? Unfortunately, that vehicle was a prototype never intended to actually go into space. Too bad.

Do you have any other suggestions about naming future space-related items or places? Ships, colonies, planets, moons, asteroids, etc. See what you can come up with!

Keep on reading, writing, and dreaming,


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Writing Disease

During my childhood, I spent many a summer's day writing, tucked upstairs in my bedroom while other kids were playing outdoors, enjoying the sunshine, swimming, or boating. It wasn't that I didn't enjoy such activities, not at all. I was Nature Girl, and I still love the outdoors.

But writing is like a disease. Once you catch it, you can't get rid of it. A writer must write. A writer is driven to write. A writer can't live without writing. You can put off eating or drinking until it's absolutely necessary. But when the writing bug hits, you must write and write now!

Keep on reading and keep on writing,