Indecision is the Devil for Writers

Indecision is my downfall.

If I know where I’m going next in my writing, it is no problem to sit down to my computer and get words on the page.  I can wrack up a good word count in no time.

But if I’m not quite sure what to write next, forget about it.  My brain gets fuzzy. I can’t seem to connect with my work. I don’t know what to do next and so more often than not I don’t do anything.

This goes for my to-do list as well.  Sometimes it gets so overwhelming that I just stare at it–and then go look for an interesting knitting blog to read.  Or, better yet, a writing blog, because then I can pretend I am working!

So lately my process with my to-do list has been to make a decision on what needs to happen next.  In today’s case, it was writing this blog post. And then I just focus on that until it is finished and I can move on to the next thing.  Here’s the key: if other things crowd my brain for attention, as they do, I remind my brain what I’ve decided to focus on. Once it is finished, I can look at the other things clamoring away and decide what’s next.

Funnily enough, as I was pondering this post, this post came to my attention. It outlines a very similar process, called the Ivy Lee process for productivity. (It is worth heading over there and taking a look.)

So how does this relate back to writing? For me, it means always knowing where I’m going next so that there’s no time for indecision to take hold. Once I’m rolling on a project, this is usually not a problem.  But sometimes writer’s block does strike–and it’s always, always, always because I’m not sure where to go next.

Things I recommend to prevent indecision from stymying your writing:

  • If you start to feel blocked, even a faint whiff of it, free write. Take the last line of the last scene you wrote and use that as a prompt.  Or just write out the problem as a prompt.
  • Maintain a list of ideas in a dedicated notebook. Anytime you have a moment of indecision, check out the list. It might get you going again.
  • Don’t slavishly adhere to chronology.  If the scene you’re working on isn’t lighting you up, move on to another one.
  • Create a loose outline. Doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Mine is just a list of scenes with notes about each scrawled about each one. But it really helps those moments of indecisiveness.
  • If all else fails, just choose something and go with it.  Not sure if your character should jump off a bridge or ride a merry-go-round? Just commit and write. You’d be amazed how often this works.  And if it doesn’t, you’ll soon figure it out.

How do you deal with indecision that blocks you? Leave a comment!

Or join the Facebook group and come chat there!

Photos from everystockphoto.

Sub-plot, or The Other Thing

The other night, my husband and I watched an episode of Scorpion, which I’d only see bits and pieces of before and ended up thoroughly enjoying.  The show is about a band of misfit computer experts led by Katherine McPhee, who is their interface and explainer of the real world.  In this episode, a helicopter carrying a doctor had crashed into a parking garage in high winds.  The helicopter was stable, as were its passengers, but the doctor had to be extracted immediately because she was the only doctor who could perform a certain kind of surgery and she had a dying patient awaiting her. (Hence why she was being flown in.) So the gang had to figure out how to perform a very risk rescue.

It was all very exciting, but what struck me was how the writers made great use of sub-plots. One involved the meteorological expert’s budding ardor for a chemist who works nearby and also the trials of a couple who were dealing with infertility. (I know, I know, sounds like a lot to pack into one episode, but it worked.) The sub-plots gave what otherwise could have been a routine action show a good dose of human pathos, especially because of the way the writers worked them in around the ongoing drama.

And that made me ponder sub-plots. When I first started writing fiction back when we all lived in caves, I was intimidated by sub-plots.  They sounded complicated and complex to try to fit in.  I mean, it is hard enough to figure out one plot from start to finish, right? And then you’re supposed to add in others? And make them relate to the main plot?

But then I realized that I was over-thinking the whole sub-plot thing.  They can be as simple as a few brief mentions of a minor character’s arc or some silly joke that carries through the plot.

You can think of them as, simply, another thing.  A thing that will take the pressure off your main character and your main story, thus giving it, your readers, and you, some time to breathe.  Often a story feels a little bare until you add in this other thing.

Ways to add in more things

Add another aspect to your main character.

Think, for example, of your own life.  You wear many hats, right? You’re a writer, but you’re also perhaps a parent or an aunt or an uncle, a friend, and likely you work at some kind of job. Then there are your hobbies and activities–maybe you run every day after work, or spend the evening in front of the TV knitting. Or perhaps you bake amazing sweets.  Or raise turtles. Or like to flip houses.

But if you were writing yourself as a character and focused solely on one of those things, the story would soon get a little stale. What if we only saw your character watching TV? Or running? Or tending the turtles?  That would not be a developed picture of you at all.  And that’s one way to add a sub-plot: add another element to the character.  I remember one from a novel that I read long ago in which the main character was constipated the entire novel. At one point, he finally was able to go. I know, I know. But it could be thought of as another thing.

Add a love interest.

Boo-yah.  Done and done.  If you’re writing a mystery or thriller or literary fiction, a love interest adds a human element readers love.

Create a habit for your character.

This can be either one she is trying to acquire or one she is trying to break. As a running line throughout the story, it can add depth and maybe even some humor.

Use a minor character for a sub-plot.

In my novel, Emma Jean’s Bad Behavior, I gave her assistant an arc that became a sub-plot. She started out completely against romance and ended up madly in love.

Give your character something to master.

Maybe your character takes up jewelry-making to find a way to relax from the stress of her job.   Or decides to plant a garden.  Showing a character mastering something new is satisfying for the reader.

Give your character a hobby.

I love to knit. While most of the time I do this at home, I also attend knit nights at local knitting stores and the monthly meeting of my knitting guild.  Something like this gives your character more dimension and also gives you more fodder for the plot.

How to use sub-plots

  • Only add in one or two! Too many will overload your story.
  • Remember that sub-plots will be introduced and completed before the start and finish of your story.  Save the beginning and end for the main plot
  • Sub-plots are very handy for pacing. You can have one sub-plot hanging out there, then introduce another one and meanwhile be moving along the main elements of the plot.  Open plot lines are a great way to keep the reader interested.
  • Keep your sub-plots organic to the story. Does it feel forced? Don’t use it. For instance, it is probably not going to feel natural for a business executive living in Manhattan to start raising chickens.
  • Similar to above, be sure to find a way to connect or relate your sub-plot to the story.

How do you use sub-plots in your stories? Do any of these ideas resonate? Leave a comment–or come over to the Facebook page to share.

 

What’s Your Word Count–and Does it Matter?

I’ve been working with one of my clients, who shall remain nameless (Hi, Mitch!) to trim down his long middle grade fantasy.  Clocking in at over 140,000 words it is, as I said, long.

Meanwhile, I recently set out to write a short story.   Apparently, I have a hard time writing anything short.  The story ended up at almost 15,000 words. Which isn’t terrible, but still on the long side for a short story. (When I was a kid, my Mom subscribed to all the lady’s magazines of the day and back then, they all published fiction, what they called short stories.  I expected short stories to be short, like one page or so.  I was always annoyed at how long short stories were. So it’s ironic that I am now the queen of writing long short stories.)  It gets worse. Last year I set out to write a novella.  It’s just shy of 50,000 words, which is short novel length.

Does word count matter?

So, with all these varying word counts, does it really matter? Should my client and I be struggling to trim scenes to make his novel shorter? Should I turn my novella into a novel by adding a few scenes?

Word count does matter–publishers will balk at anything over 100k. The first novel (women’s fiction) I submitted to my agent came in at over 100k and I was instructed to trim it done.  Publishers don’t like long works because they  will cost more to print, for one thing.  And even if your longer book is self pubbed, many people will balk at reading such a long novel. I know my own reading habits, and I tend not to finish overly long books, so I wouldn’t buy one in the first place.

On the other hand, if something is too short it might seem flimsy.  Trivial.  Not substantial enough to warrant going to the trouble of publishing. Of course, in these days of self publishing, all those rules have gone out the window.  But, still–many’s the review I’ve read on Amazon complaining about the shortness of a book.

So, what’s a writer to do? 

Probably aim for a reasonable word count within industry standards is the best option. What, you ask, are those industry standards? Well, funny thing, they tend to vary a lot according to genre. Or who you ask. Or what way the wind is blowing. Or how the planets are arranged.

But, I’ve  come up with some good guesses estimates. While I’m citing specific sources, I looked around a lot to find credible ones that seemed pretty ballpark. So I think the following are good guidelines:

According to Reedsy, here are standard word counts by genre:

  • Commercial and literary novels: 80,000 – 100,000
  • Science fiction and fantasy: 100,000 – 115,000
  • Young adult: 55,000 – 70,000
  • Middle grade: 20,000 – 55,000
  • Romance: 80,000 – 100,000
  • Mystery: 75,000 – 100,000
  • Thriller: 90,000 – 100,000
  • Memoir: 80,000 – 90,000
  • Western: 45,000 – 75,000

And here, some counts for shorter works (from Christopher Fielden):

 

  • Flash fiction: under 1,000 words
  • Short story: 500 to 17,000 words
  • Novelette: 7,500 to 25,000 words
  • Novella: 10,000 to 70,000 words
  • Novel: 50,000 words or more


Some random things to keep in mind:

 

  • The standard word count per page of double-spaced manuscript is still considered to be 250.
  • The industry relies on word count rather than page count because page size varies according to format, but word count remains the same.
  • Edgar Allen Poe defined a short story as a story that could be read in one sitting.
  • Here’s a fun infographic of the word counts of some famous books.  (593,674 for A Suitable Boy, by Vikram Seth!)
  • According to Amazon, the median length for all books is about 64,000 words.
  • And, finally, the best rule to adhere to is this: write your book as long as it needs to be.

What’s the word count of your current project? Do you worry about it? Leave a comment. Or come on over to the Facebook page to discuss.

***I have room for one client or editing job during my upcoming writing sojourn in France. Email me at charlotte@charlotterainsdixon.com if you’re interested.

On Seeking Writing Community

Writers are introverts, for the most part. We sit in a room by ourselves (except for all the fictional characters crowding our heads) working and we like it. (At my husband’s work Christmas party this year, I had a long drunken conversation with a woman who couldn’t imagine actually wanting to sit down to write. She was amazed I really, truly, liked doing it.)

And yet, because of the very nature of it, the writing life can be lonely.  I am blessed to have fifty gazillion people in my life–husband, kids, grandchildren, friends–but most of them are like the woman at the Christmas party.  They can’t quite figure out why I do what I do.  So  I also count myself blessed to have a group of close writing friends, both local and online, and I treasure them for the relief of being able to be fully myself with them.

But for some reason I have shied away from joining other groups that would offer community.  I belong to several Facebook groups devoted to writing (besides my own, which is selfishly my favorite) and I rarely comment in them.  I’ve belonged to the Women’s Fiction Writer’s Association nearly since its inception, but I’m not terribly active in it.  And I’ve long heard great things about the Romance Writer’s of America, but I’ve never managed to join it.

We’ve got a couple of great local groups here in Portland, too–Willamette Writers and Oregon Writer’s Colony. I was very active in the former, including several stints on the board, back when it was more of a club and I was more of a person interested in writing, and I used to be involved with OWC as well.  But lately? Not so much.

I think this is because when I have extra time, I want to spend it writing, not thinking about writing or talking about it, or planning an event around it. (This excludes all my teaching, locally and in France, which I love.) I got burned out on volunteering around writing groups all those years ago when I was active.

As for Facebook groups–same thing. Who wants to spend tons of time commenting on writing when they should be doing the actual work? Said the woman who runs her own Facebook group devoted to writing. So, yeah, I think it is something that goes a little deeper than the tired old time excuse. I think–wait for it–it has to do with another tired old trope, that of the fear of being seen. 

It’s a weird fear, really. I’m widely published and have been blogging for almost eleven years. I’m active on Instagram and Twitter.  But Facebook for some reason always makes me feel exposed in a way that other media sites doesn’t. Which is how I know what the fear is. And Facebook groups–those lovely small clubs where all members are devoted to the same passion–feel much safer to me.

I should have posted a disclaimer to all my clients and students, current and former, before I wrote all this. Because I am forever harping on them to up their social media game and develop their platforms.   And now that I’ve publicly outed myself for my fear of being seen, I think I can be a bit more sympathetic when they cringe at my talk of platforms.

But I have made progress  lately myself. I joined RWA this week, and re-upped my membership in WFWA.  I joined a new Facebook group that is attached to a Patreon and is still very small–and I’m finding it inspiring. (Okay, okay, its only been one day.)

I guess what’s important to remember–and the actual point of this post–is that finding some kind of community of your writing peers is important.  It can be local, or online, or even global for that matter.  The cool thing about our current society is that there’s an option for everyone, from the totally introverted to the most gregarious extrovert.

Okay, thanks for going along on the journey of this post today, as I figured out what it was really all about.  And please, please, please do tell–how do you find writing community? Leave a comment!

Photos from everystockphoto.com.

Do What You Can (In Writing and Life)

This is an embarrassing confession from a writing coach, but last fall I got blocked on a project.  I was working on the rewrite of a novel for my agent. She and her staff had given me excellent revision suggestions and I was excited about them. But part of it involved giving the protagonist more motivation, digging into her backstory. And to do that, I had to add a couple of chapters. And to do that, I had to figure out to make them flow seamlessly into the book.

Usually I’m pretty good about such things. I wring my hands for a couple of days and then get to it. But this took weeks to get over.  Meanwhile, I wasn’t doing any other writing, either.   And when I get into that state in life, I am a very cranky girl.  Finally, I began writing a short story set in the same world as the novel I was supposed to be rewriting (there will be a whole series of novels set there) and that got me going again.   I turned in the revision to my agent earlier this week.

As I ponder the process I’ve just been through, the song running through my head, is Do What You Can. (Apparently I made the song up, because even though it is playing in my brain on a constant loop now, I can’t find lyrics or a video anywhere.) I wrote that title down on the note pad that is always beside my computer a few days ago to remind myself of its importance.

Because, I don’t know about you, but I tend to get stuck on one thing. I tell myself, I must finish that novel, or I have to write my newsletter, or any one of a million other things. And then if that particular thing doesn’t go well I’m either wringing my hands or farting around on the internet, reading stupid or upsetting stories.

This is at least partially about setting impossible expectations for myself. As in, I’ll sit down to that rewrite and it will flow smoothly from start to finish. Right-o.  Can’t think of when that has ever happened so why do I place such ridiculous ideals upon myself? I think it has to do with an outdated image I carry around in my brain.  I know better than this based on years of experience, but still it pops up. I hear the word romance novelist or English author and there it is my brain immediately: an image of a woman (beautiful, of course and dressed impeccably), devoting every minute of her days to writing her novel.  She sits at a beautiful desk in the country somewhere, stops only for tea, and never gets blocked.

I swear to you, this is a thing I carry around in my head. And the reality for all novelists and authors is quite different. We stop and start.  We wear yoga pants, or, often, jammies and drink coffee by the gallon. And there are plenty of times when the writing ceases (witness my afore-mentioned recent experience). This outdated image I can’t seem to shake is part of the reason I don’t turn my attention to another project when I get blocked.  Because I’m starting to believe that doing whatever I can on my writing is the best way to have a prolific writing practice.

Others reasons I don’t do this might be:

  • I’m afraid I’ll get totally absorbed in the new project and never go back to the old
  • I’m afraid I’ll forget where I am in the old project and lose the thread entirely
  • I’ll do so much switching back and forth that I’ll never finish anything

All valid concerns, and yet also easily dealt with.  Because, ultimately, isn’t getting something done better than nothing? You know the old saying–energy breed energy, I’ve found that to be true.  If I sit for too long I become one with the chair and I feel sluggish and lethargic. But when I’m making an effort to get up and walk around often, I feel much more energetic at the end of the day.

And the same is true of writing–writing breeds writing. If you’re blocked on a long project, write something shorter.  Scribble a blog post or a brilliant missive to a friend.  Start an essay or a short story.  Writing breeds more writing for sure, and somewhere in all of that you’ll find your way home to the thing you got blocked on.

It takes quite a bit of single-mindedness to finish a long writing project like a memoir or a novel. You must continually turn your face back to it despite all the marvelous distractions of life. And I think we end up taking this single-mindedness too seriously sometimes.  But once in awhile, maybe you could unloose the grip and give yourself some rope.

Do you focus all your energy on one writing project at a time or many? Please do share.  Also, if you’re having trouble with any aspect of your writing, I do have some coaching slots open. I’m currently revamping my coaching pages and they are a bit of a mess, so the best thing to do is contact me and we’ll chat!

Going back-to-school time (A love letter)

The Abundant Writer

September 3, 2017

Vol 10. No. 36

Here in the Portland area, it is back-to-school time. (I know in many parts of the country this happened weeks ago.)  And it is one of my favorite times of the year. (There is the fact that I’ll be spending most of the month in France, but I loved this time of year long before I started traveling to Europe annually.)  I love this time of year because the days are getting shorter, the nights are getting cooler, but most of all—

Because its back to school!

What is better than shopping for brand new school supplies?  New notebooks just waiting to be filled with ideas, notes, and reports (I loved writing reports) and pens and pencils to write in them with.  New classes with new teachers and new friends.  New topics to learn and new books to read.

There’s so much promise and possibility in the air.  And if there is one thing I love, it is promise and possibility. I’m a great starter.  I love the moment when a new idea starts rushing in and I begin to gather thoughts together and start planning a project. I’m in heaven at the beginning of things.

But finishing I’m not so good at.  I have to dog myself something fierce to bring projects to fruition.  Which is why my craft closet is filled with half-knitting items. (In the knitting world, these are known as UFOs, for Unfinished Projects.) There’s just always a gorgeous new shawl to start! Last winter, when I completed a mitten, my daughter-in-law said, “What? You actually finished something?” Um, yeah. My reputation for UFOs in sterling.

And yes, I do have some UFOs in my writing, too. Stories that seemed so full of promise that fizzled out somewhere in the middle.   A whole draft of a novel that needs a major rewrite.  Haven’t had the heart to tackle it yet—because I have a different novel and a novella that I’m trying to finish editing.

But for the moment, I’m going to allow myself to revel in the back-to-school feeling of newness.  I’ll be teaching in France throughout September, and in past years abroad I’ve gotten inspired and started a new novel.  I have a bunch of notes on yet another new fiction project and I don’t care, I’m going to allow myself to start it!  While I also work on finishing up the editing of the rewrite.

Oh, and by the way—there are some killer sales on school and office supplies at the moment. I suggest you take advantage of them and stock up. Because if you’re anything like me, next to shopping at a bookstore, time spend at an office supply store is one of the best activities imaginable.

Happy back-to-school days!

Leave a comment on what you like about this time of year!

And do come join the Facebook page. You can request membership here.

 

A Brief Hiatus

Where I won’t be, except in my dreams

Sometimes you just have to take a step back.

I’m a big believer in honoring one’s own creative process, whatever it might be and however it works. (You’ve probably noticed that if you’ve read much on this blog.) And one of the things I’ve realized about my own process is that sometimes I just need to take a break to let things gestate.

This is one of those times.

I’ve been writing this blog for ten years now. I’ve written about every aspect of writing and writing inspiration and motivation, as well as the writing life.  And lately, it is getting harder and harder for me to think of anything to write about on those topics. It’s like there’s a big blank wall in my brain when I try to come up with something.

Composting: what my brain will be doing

And so I think I need to take a break for composting–which is what I call what my brain does when it is pondering and breaking down many ideas.  I’m making this intentional instead of just kind of wandering away, as so often happens in my life to other people. (You’ve probably noticed the frequency of my posts has gotten sparser.)

I AM NOT GOING AWAY.

I’ll be back at the beginning of October, maybe sooner if I get inspired while I’m in France.  I just want to have space to think without the voice in my head constantly saying, you should write a blog post. And I have some ideas. (Don’t worry, I’m not going to suddenly start writing about knitting.  Or fixing up cars. Or keeping aquariums.)

IN THE MEANTIME:

I will continue to write, send to my list, and post here on Sundays, my weekly love letters. If you want to have them come right into your inbox, sign up in the form to the right.

AND: I’ll be talking about writing over on the Facebook group.  Click here, ask to join, and I’ll approve you.  For those doubters out there, let me just say I am not a fan of participating on Facebook on my main feed.  It is just overwhelming to me. But groups are different. Groups are where like-minded people come together to discuss one topic. There’s no what color is your ego? quiz or posts about the glories of someone’s vacation (unless it bears on writing). So do come join me there.

Motivation Monday: Sometimes, in Writing and Life, You Just Have to Let Go

Yesterday I wrote about resistance.

But today I’m writing about its opposite, letting go. Which is funny, right? Like life is funny.

Anyway, here’s the deal. This past weekend, the hub and I took an overnight trip to Eugene, a hundred-ish miles down the road from Portland, and home of one of my alma maters, the University of Oregon (Go Ducks!).  We were going to attend a birthday party for my friend and client, Kim Leval. (And what a fun party it was–but that’s a story for another day.)

When we take a short road trip, I usually make ask my hub to drive so that I can knit. (I wear these so I don’t get carsick.)  This past weekend, I had the perfect idiot knitting project (one you can do without paying much attention to). It is an airy scarf that I hope will be wide and long enough to wear as a shawl.   I’m not that far along on it, but I made good progress in the car.

However.

Something bad happened to my knitting.  It started slanting.  As far as I was concerned, the thing was supposed to come out all nice and neat, eventually forming one gargantuan rectangle I could artfully wrap around my shoulders. But instead it was freaking slanting.  I kept telling myself it just appeared to be slanting, and that if I yanked on it enough, it would stop. So every knitting session turned out to be a marathon of yanking on the edges of the damn thing, then holding it up to see if that made any difference.  

It didn’t.

I wasmaking myself crazy trying to make the shawl into something it was never going to be.  And I might just as well have been getting my teeth cleaned for all the enjoyment I was getting out of it.

Finally, driving home yesterday I had an epiphany: the shawl is slanting because it is creating a bias drape as I knit. I have no idea how or why this is happening. (I’ve been knitting since I was a kid, and still the craft offers mysteries to me.) But it is happening and no amount of yanking is going to change it. So I decided to quit fussing over it and relax and enjoy it.

I no longer care, either. It will be what it will be. Maybe it really is forming a bias drape, maybe it isn’t. Maybe it will magically become the giant rectangle I have in mind! But most likely it won’t. Doesn’t matter.  Because, suddenly, the knitting is fun again.  I am no longer resisting the natural shape of the shawl and instead I’m relaxing and enjoying it.

I don’t know about you, but this is all too familiar to me in other areas of my life. Like all the times I’ve tried to force a character (or a real person) do something they have no interest in doing.  Or when I hang on to the idea of how a scene should go when it is clear that is leading itself in a different direction.  Or when I keep trying to do the same thing over and over again in my career when it is clear it isn’t working.

And when I finally let go (which is surprisingly hard) the relief is so sweet.

Is there something in your writing or life you’re hanging onto that you need to release?

Update: I almost forgot! (Well, technically, I did forget.) My How To Get an Agent Class is tomorrow! Come join us! Just in time for summer pitching!

 

How difficult is it to get a literary agent?

The best way I can answer the question of the title is to tell you two stories, the stories of my two attempts to get a literary agent.

Attempt to get an agent #1

The first story happened back around 2011-2012.  I was seeking representation for my novel, Emma Jean’s Bad Behavior.  Over the course of a year or two, I actively submitted to agents.   Boy, did I ever get an education.  I had many agents respond to my query (because writing queries happens to be one of my super powers).  And then, often I’d never hear another thing.  But some did ask for either a partial or my full manuscript.  And I got great responses.

The agents complimented me on my writing, said they loved the sex scenes (it is not erotica, I promise), and enjoyed the story. But. And this was a big but–none of them thought they could sell the book because Emma Jean was too brash. Too opinionated. Too inclined to blurt out exactly what’s she’s thinking.  Too “unrelatable,” as one agent called her. (Oh, and then there was the one who took offense to her getting drunk on a plane. Because, “nobody ever does that.” Yeah, right. That’s never happened.) I lost exact count of how many times I sent Emma Jean out, but it was somewhere around 60 submissions.  Yes, 60. (Which isn’t even that many in the pantheon of literary rejection stories.)

So, long story short, I never did secure representation.  Instead, a friend told me about the small press that had bought his book, and on a wild tear one day, I submitted my book and promptly forgot about it.  Six months later they accepted Emma Jean for publication.  I sold my book without an agent.

Attempt to get an agent #2

Two years ago, I had another novel ready to submit. This one had a sweet, relatable main character and was set in a bakery. A slam dunk, I figured.  I had recently joined the Women’s Fiction Writer’s Association, and in one of their emails I noticed that an agent named Erin Niumata of Folio Literary was accepting submissions. I read her profile and decided she was the agent for me.   So I sent her the query for The Bonne Chance Bakery.  I got a reply back so fast I thought it was an auto out-of-office deal. But no. It was from Erin. And she wanted to see my full manuscript.

A week later, we talked on the phone, and she said the magic words, “I am calling to offer you representation.” Woot woot! So this time out I got my agent on my very first effort. Dreams do come true. I was right about that slam dunk thing.  My two experiences couldn’t be more different. Which is why I love to tell these stories. I think they are both encouraging in their own ways.

How you can get an agent

The moral of the story? Yes, it is hard to get an agent. But it can be done, as long as you:

  • Have a finished novel that is as good as you can make it
  • Understand how the publishing world works
  • Write a kick-ass query letter
  • Practice your pitching
  • Have some determination and patience

I can teach you the first four points in my upcoming How to Get an Agent Class.  It is a teleseminar, easily accessible by phone or computer the night of the class or in a recording after. And there are two options–class only or class + my critique of your query.

For a relatively small investment of time and money, you just may land yourself the agent of your dreams.  Find out more and sign up here. 

See you on the call!

Photo by svilen001. 

Why yes, I’m still here

So, I didn’t blog last week.

It was, um, because of the malware attack.

No, wait, I meant the constant stream of news out of Washington.

No, here’s the truth:

It was the one-armed man.

Heavy sigh. Okay, it was none of those. I just got overwhelmed.

I’m in Week Two of my Do That Thing class, anticipating teaching a class at Sitka, filling a couple last spots in the France workshop, and working with private clients. Oh, and trying to keep up with writing the second draft of my novel.  (Almost done!)

And so the blog post fell by the wayside.

To be honest, I’m not as focused on my blog these days. Blogging has changed in ways I haven’t entirely grasped yet and it is hard to know how to react.  My stats and comments are down (like a lot of other bloggers I know) and one of the things I liked best about blogging was the community that grew up around it.  That isn’t happening any more and it makes me sad.  And it is harder to get excited about writing something when I’m not sure how many people are even reading it.

But, I have a couple ideas.

The first one is an obvious solution.  And that is–start a Facebook page!  I’m really more of a fan of Twitter and Instagram, but the one way I do like to relate on Facebook is in groups.  I find it much easier to engage with people who have the same interests as I do, rather than shouting out over the vast Facebook web.

It will be a closed group called Prolific and Prosperous Writers and there you will be able to post anything having to do with writing. Questions, interesting links, pleas for help, ideas.  I’m not going to put any limitations on joining, though you will have to request an invitation.  I think it will be fun!  With everything else that I have going, it will take me a bit before I can get it up and running, so stay tuned.

And second, I’m going to be offering a class at the end of June on…wait for it….How to Get an Agent.  Ta-da!  The class will come just in time for summer pitches at writer’s conferences, but it will go beyond pitching to instruct you on how to submit to agents when conferences are over.  And, there will be an upgrade option wherein I will read and critique your query letter.  Find out more here.

Sound good? I think so, too. So keep an eye out for the Facebook group. And check out the class!

And don’t worry, I will continue to blog here. Because, its been ten years. So I might as well keep at it a while longer.