Sunday, July 25, 2010

Flash Fiction

Do you tend to get carried away when writing? Well, you are not alone. Though I don't have trouble to write short stories, many do. For some reason, I always end up under 1000 words. Flash Fiction contests are the best to hone your skills, and to cut the overload. You receive a 'theme' that could be a word, a sentence, a picture or something like this. It's called, which I just learned, a prompt.
A short story, though, is different to a short story.
The first is just one with a limited word count; a plot told in short if you will.
The second on the other hand is much more complicated, because every word counts, it's all about reading between the lines and crafting one of those requires a lot of expertise. 

I'm working on honing my skills on the second. It's a slow process, but rewarding.

Writing short and short stories, maybe even both as a combination is fun and good in case you get stuck with your novel. It gets the juices flowing again.

Try it out. I recommend to take part here: Flash Fiction on AOS

See you there.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Authors on Show is undergoing exciting changes!

Yes, that's right. Authors on Show has some fantastic changes upcoming.

Lorraine, who was on holidays, has come back recharged and is now discussing with the team of how to make this wonderful site for authors and readers more attractive.

I can only recommend to take a look on a regular basis since there might be something intersting for you.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The content of my fridge

Do you belong to those who don't like grocery shopping? Well I can't stand it, as almost most shopping activities, unless it's at Ikea or B&Q.

To avoid going too often, and that's difficult with a tiny fridge in a single household, I must be inventive when it comes to cooking.

What do I have in my fridge right now? And what am I going to do with it?

A red bell pepper
Fresh green beans
Baby corns
Pork loin

Great ingredients for a Thai stir fry.
Broccoli and cauliflower
Elmre 50% (single cream substitute)
A bag of grated Mozzarella

Fabulous with the potatoes, mix, put in the oven, enjoy.
An orange (for the juice)

Brilliant with olive oil and basil.
Minced meat
Red and white cabbage

For my legendary meat balls, with peas and carrots and potato-mash. And cabbage as a side dish.
My every day's use:

Tasty with rye bread.
Tons of wild rocket 
Red seedless grapes
Fresh mint
Fresh coriander

That's mainly dragon-food, I share the mint with him. (Makes a rather refreshing tea)

And other little bits and bobs. And you thought my fridge is tiny, eh?

Sunday, July 4, 2010

A few words on how to self-edit your novel

New writers often make the mistake to write their book in one go and when finished, they think it's ready to be discovered by the big publishers of the world. In some cases, that might even be true. The majority though, have to learn the hard way it's not how it works. When the rejection letters pile up, they eventually realise, they might need to do a little bit more than just write.

If you don't have a trusted person to spot plot inconsistencies and other errors, there are a few tips to clean your manuscript before submitting:

First off, forget about the manuscript for a few weeks before you start with the editing-process.

  • Try to read as a reader, get the distance from the manuscript.
  • find and delete adverbs(-ly). Only use them in moderation.
  • Change as many -ing forms as possible; i.e. was standing into stood
  • If you have two people in a dialogue, get rid of all the 'he said', she said' where it's clear who's speaking.
  • Do not try to replace 'he said', 'she said' with other words for there is nothing wrong with it.
  • When one character is addressed personally, don't forget to put a comma before it.
  • i.e. 'That's what I meant, Gary.'
  • And: He turned to Gary. 'Gary, do you think it's all right?' No need to address Gary as it's clear that he's been spoken to.
  • Try to be logical; i.e. in the complete darkness he saw two figures. When it's completely dark, how can he see at all?
  • Reality check: are your characters acting realistically? Is it believable?
  • Spot repetition. Have you a habit of using the same phrases over and over? Change them.
  • Plot inconsistencies: Is your MC just falling asleep and two paragraphs later, watching telly in bed?
  • Does your scene drag? Does it feel unnecessary to 'tease' the reader for that many paragraphs? Delete the dragging part.
  • Are there scenes that don't add to the plot? Chapters even? Delete them.
  • Are there characters that don't play an important role in relation to the MC or story? Get rid of them.
  • Is there a character that is not described much, though s/he is important? Flesh it out. 

This needs some time to adapt to, but with every chapter it's going to be easier and with every book you'll become more secure if you learn these by heart.

Good luck.


Submitting your novel

Seriously? I love it. After spending so much time with my characters, after I went through all emotions they went through, I find it's time others would participate. Many say it's a story made for Hollywood and it's true. It has all a romantic comedy needs, as well as a little mystery to keep you on your toes. Yes, I love my novel!

I love the process of writing the blurb, the synopsis and the query. Often, while writing the book, I already have the blurb finished. They synopsis is a bit trickier, but I only needed three rewrites to shorten it a little.

When I did my first round of submissions, I had a different blurb and got a few rejections. I recently changed it and am certainly pleased with it. After months of not paying attention to No Wings Attached, I decided to send it out again, to publishers as well as agents. I know I've got a good story that's entertaining for both, women and men, but to be fair, not many men would admit to have enjoyed my novel.

Now how to find an adequate agent/publisher? The answer: research, research and research. Nothing worse than sending out your manuscript to the wrong person. I do understand agent's frustrations getting children's books when all they do is erotica. And you will be deflated as well, because you'll get a rejection and nobody likes getting them. Me included.

Every time I hit the send-button, a feeling of anticipation overwhelms me. Will this be the one who takes my first three chapters and reads them in one go, then asks for more? And if so, will this agent be the person who will do everything to find a good home for my baby? I always prepare myself for the decline, better to expect the bad and be positively surprised, I think.

Though I'm not that worried. The publishing-business is tough and it's all about the money, there are plenty of writers out there who have a great marketable story and when the manuscript gets just in the right hands of an agent who happens to love this kind of books, then, you're in.

It's mainly luck, apart from having a money-making product that fits into the market in a few months. The only thing you should do is write another book and keep submitting, giving up is not an option. You need to believe in yourself, if you don't, how can you expect others to believe in you?