April 27, 2015

Mixed Messages in Publishing

It isn't surprising that with just about everyone weighing in, contradictory information exists about every aspect of publishing. So, aspiring authors learn early on that it's crucial to verify the reliability of our sources. Often, we rely heavily on the steady stream of information coming straight from the proverbial horse, that is from agents and editors sharing tidbits on Twitter or details in blog posts.

Of course, even those reliable sources don't always agree, and some make general assertions which aren't in fact true. For example, there's the very popular claim endlessly repeated by agents and by writers helpfully passing on their wisdom that "no" agent wants attachments included in an unsolicited query. Well, yes, in fact some do.

Still, in cases such as how to query, it's fairly easy to do your due diligence, since we know that many individuals have their own preferences, and this information is almost always readily available. The real problem happens when people contradict themselves, and in looking further, it seems that this is in fact the case for the industry as a whole. Traditional publishing, despite its many rules, actually bolsters and embraces rule breakers. [Tweet this.]

April 21, 2015

Changing Your Setting

Many papers have been written about the importance of setting to a story. Some have even argued that, in certain cases, the setting can be treated as an additional character. But today, I'm not talking about the settings we use in our writing; I'm talking about our own settings.

As many of you know, I've been feeling rather stuck lately, with my writing, with my career, with just about everything. There was nothing wrong with my everyday life, or with my surroundings, but every day felt like a grind, and my productivity when it came to writing was practically nil. 

Luckily, and thankfully, I went on vacation! Now, a trip to Paris is pretty fantastic on its own, regardless of its impact on "real" life. But I have to say, I couldn't have imagined the effect this change of scenery would have. Simply being somewhere other than my usual surroundings, doing something other than my normal routine, was incredibly restorative. 

It was't until I was on vacation that I realized how long it had been since I had had a (non-emergent) break from my routine. Of course in addition to being recharged, doing something new, being somewhere new, is an occasional imperative for a writer. Experiencing a different culture, and even merely shaking up the monotony of the status quo, will help provide both inspiration and motivation for our work. Even a small change, like a weekend away in a nearby town, can act as a reset on our lives, adding perspective as well as a refreshed approach. It is so easy to forget how important it is to find a way to take a break from the pressures and demands of our everyday routines, but having been reminded myself, I'd like to encourage you all to do just that!

The downside to traveling of course is jet lag. I am not as young as I used to be (a statement that is true literally every time you say it, unless you're Benjamin Button), and I have had a particularly difficult time of it this trip, but hopefully I'll be back on track soon (my life motto lately!). Of course, if you're planning travels to revitalize yourself and perhaps your writing, you may want to consider staying fairly close to your own time zone to avoid this particular consequence.

If you could get away anywhere for the weekend, where would you go? Share in the comments!

April 6, 2015

Camp NaNoWriMo

Last month, to focus my attempt at diving back into Fallen, I set myself a personal goal of 10,000 words. It's an astonishingly low goal, considering that Mending Heartstrings and G&H both started with 50,000-word months (during NaNoWriMo), but with my days averaging 200 words, it was a stretch. And unfortunately, I didn't reach it. I did, however, write about 7570 new words, which on its own is about double what I had before. 

Having a tangible goal, even one that is relatively low, creates a marker against which to measure success, with clear signposts along the way. Keeping it reasonably matched both with my pace and foreseeable life commitments prevents the results from being depressing, even when I don't quite make it.  To be fair, in March my goal was to make some amount of progress.

This month, I decided to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo, although really there isn't much difference between that and setting my own goal — except an additional way to track my progress. Officially, I've set my goal at the minimum of 10,000 words. Because I'll be out of town (and probably not writing) for over a week this month, my real goal is actually about 5,000 words (our little secret!). So I'm quite excited that this past weekend, I managed to write over 1,300 words!

The good news about NaNoWriMo programs is it's never too late to join, whether you're looking to revise your work, finish a WIP, or stick to the traditional route & write something new. Even if your April won't include writing, maybe taking a moment to think about entirely reasonable (or perhaps stretch) goals will help you focus your efforts this month, and lead to that wonderful sense of accomplishment when the month comes to a close. 

And if you're seeking that sense of community that Camp NaNo provides, share your goals in the comments so we can all cheer you on!