Introducing my new favorite social media tool, as of yesterday. :) With the demise of Tactics Cloud, I was looking for an easy way to find people on Twitter. Sure, I could use the hashtag method, but I wanted to search BIO's. Enter TWIANGULATE!
This tool allows you to follow people who follow people you choose. That was awkward, let's put it this way. Say you LOVE @lisalewistyre (who DOESN'T) and you want to follow people who also follow me. Twiangulate allows you to do that. Perhaps you trust @lisalewistyre and want to follow the same people - Twiangulate also allows you to see who I follow. But what I use it for is to search bios. Let's say you sell scrubs. You can search twitter bio's for specific keywords like, nurse or hospital, then follow and connect with those folks! Plus, I can create a List called Scrub Users and export the search results. Super easy! And the best thing about it? It's totally FREE!
One thing to note: I had no trouble getting it to function in Chrome or Safari, but for some reason it wouldn't cooperate with my version of Firefox.
Finding time to write can be THE most difficult part of the whole writing process. You have an idea, you've plotted it out in your head, and you just need to find a way to get it onto paper, but who has time? I get it. I'm not only busy with life and family and friends, but I also have the attention span of a 5 year old. Here are a few tips on how I found the time to write my first novel.
1. Make it Quick
I follow a writer on Twitter that often tweets things like, "Just finished 18,000 words today. I'm on a roll!". Seriously. More power to her, but that's not how I roll. Luckily, I took a class with Claire Cook a few years ago and she said that she writes 2 pages per day, every day. No more, no less. It doesn't take long, but it keeps the story moving forward, and with such a short goal, it's not intimidating. So even if I'm tired and it's bedtime, I can still motivate myself to get those 2 pages done.
2. Anytime is Good
Speaking of bedtime, I used to believe this lie, "I can only write in the morning." Yes, it is still my favorite time and when I think most clearly, BUT I can write at noon, at five and even at midnight. I know this because when I went on my Homemade Writing Retreat, I wrote feverishly at all hours. Your best time to write may not be available, so write anyway.
3. Follow the TV Schedule
Don't tell me there's not ONE show you watch on television. I like a bunch of shows, Scandal, Once Upon a Time, Grimm. Guess what? They are all off on summer hiatus. The hour that I used to spend watching those shows is still available. So instead of filling it with a lame rerun, use that hour for something good. (I watch a lot of summer shows too, and they are off during regular season so it works all year long!)
4. Set the Alarm
And I don't mean early. Gah. Who wants to get up at 5 a.m. and write with the chickens? Find the time in your schedule that you have open, say Thursdays at 9 PM, and set your alarm as a reminder. That little beep calling "Just two pages" may be motivation enough to get you in front of the laptop.
5. Stop Reading about Writing and Write
I have a lot of books on writing. Yes, they are good and encouraging and wonderful in many ways, but sometimes they are an excuse. It's so much easier to READ about writing than actually write. Same thing with blogging. In the time it's taken me to write this post, I could be done with my two pages!
Be encouraged, find the time, do what you were meant to do! We need to hear your story.
I'm in an incredible critique group, one full of fun people who take their writing seriously. A few months ago I floated the idea of us holding our own Writers' Retreat and EVERYONE was interested. By the time we'd finalized the plans, 7 out of the 8 of us had made arrangements to attend. I'm not exaggerating when I say I think it was the single most helpful thing I've done for my writing this year and I think most of the group would say the same thing. If you think your group would benefit from a writers' retreat, I'm happy to share what we did to make it successful.
1. Make it Easy to AttendWe all live about 1.5 hours away from the Georgia mountains where rental cabins are plentiful. I searched for something that had plenty of beds, (we're friendly, but not THAT friendly), that gave us privacy (we had one lone male among us) and that was affordable. I found several places that would have been under $75.00 per person for the weekend.I narrowed it down to a couple of different cabins, then emailed the link to everyone to see what they thought. Little did I know that one of our members had her OWN personal cabin in the mountains and sweetly offered it to us for free. We carpooled so that no one had to make the trip alone. Close, affordable, easy - the first step in making your retreat a hit.
2. Plan Your MealsA couple of weeks before the retreat, we divided the meals into sections - Friday dinner, Saturday breakfast, lunch and dinner, Sunday breakfast - and let people choose a meal they'd provide. Everyone brought snacks to share, as well as their favorite beverage. Several members of our group were gluten-free, so we shared recipe ideas before hand. Because we split everything, each person only had one meal to worry about, then they were free to concentrate on writing.
3. Set Your Writing GoalsWe brought along a white dry-erase board and the first thing everyone did upon arriving was to put a GOAL on the board for everyone to see. My goal was to finish revising the first 9 chapters per my editor's instructions. Plotting, a set number of chapters, figuring out the ending - the goals were as varied as our group - but I'm happy to say that each and every one of us reached our goal before the retreat ended.
4. Be Serious about the WritingWe stated over and over again that our goal was to write - so write we did. We each found our own quiet spot - a couch, the kitchen table, on a bed with a laptop - and we wrote. We designated the deck as a "Feedback Zone". If you were on the deck, it was assumed you were happy to talk plot points, etc. Otherwise, we left each other alone to write.
5. Set Critique TimesBecause everyone was arriving at different times, we decided to hold our first critique session Friday night after dinner. With 7 of us, it went long, but we were patient and listened to everyone. After we were done, we all disappeared into our writing worlds to continue working for another two hours, then we regrouped for a final critique before bed. The next morning, we had a mini-critique at breakfast, then a lunch critique, afternoon mini-critique, dinner critique and a final one before bed. This sounds like a lot of stopping but most of the critiques happened quickly. Imagine 2 - 3 hours of uninterrupted writing followed by a nice meal, a quick briefing on what's changed in the last few pages, and then more writing. It was heaven.
6. Consider Leaving the Internet At HomeThe cabin where we were staying didn't have internet service, and cell coverage was spotty at best. Since we knew that going in, any research we needed to do was either done before hand, or postponed until we got home. It didn't hurt us at all, in fact, I'd say it was one of the reasons our weekend was so successful. No one stopped to check email, update Facebook, or read their twitter feed. Those things I've just mentioned may be significant reasons we NEEDED a writers' retreat. If you can, do without it. If the space where you're staying has it - consider turning off the modem except for certain times during the day.
7. Enjoy YourselfHaving friends who understand the joys and difficulties of finishing one more chapter is a blessing. We laughed, got to know each other better, and encouraged one another throughout the weekend. We all left the cabin saying we'd like to do it again, soon. I've often heard it said that we make time for the things we value. If you value writing - make your retreat plans now.
Seriously. Everything I have ever read about looking for an agent (excluding those writing NON-fiction) has said to please finish the novel before submitting anything. Yet I consistently meet people who can't wait and insist on starting the process before the manuscript is done. WHY? If you do get a response, you're not going to be ready, and no late-night panic sessions are going to help. Finish the novel, tighten it, get it as close as you can to perfect, BEFORE you query anyone. 2. Write a great query letter and synopsis and be willing to change it if it doesn't work.
I took classes on query writing, read books on the subject, looked at everything I could find online, THEN I sent out my queries. Guess what? I got rejected. When it didn't work, I tweaked it and tried again. Don't be stubborn. Try a new approach if you're getting consistent rejections. Some good query advice can be found at: QueryShark 3. Do your research.
Again, this is simple advice, but people ignore it all of the time. When I started the process of finding an agent for my middle grade novel, I knew nothing except I should find an agent interested in middle grade novels. I used QueryTracker to search for agents interested in my genre, THEN I followed the link to their website where I checked out their bios, and read their submission guidelines. I did not want to get rejected over something silly like including the first 5 chapters when they only wanted the first 10 pages. 4. Treat it like a job.
At the conference mentioned above, I sat in on a session by Haywood Smith. One of the things she said that I never forgot was that writing is WORK and that you have to treat it like a real career. So I sat down with my query letter and my research data and I began to send out queries. I sent out TEN each week. If that doesn't sound like much, then you've never actually researched ten different agents and reworded your query letter and then figured out whether to send 10 pages or 10 chapters, or nothing at all, in addition to all of the other things you do in life like real jobs and family. It was exhausting, but it paid off! 5. Do not GIVE UP
Was getting rejected discouraging? You better believe it. I even got two rejection letters on the same day - my BIRTHDAY. But I've come to believe that half of the battle to being published is sticking with it. Don't give up. Rework your query, rework your novel, start the heck over if you must, but don't give up! I believe the desire to create is innate - the first thing God did was CREATE. If it was good enough for Him, it's good enough for me. Write on.
KIRKUS REVIEW - Eleanor & ParkAwkward, prickly teens find deep first love in 1980s Omaha. Eleanor and Park don’t meet cute; they meet vexed on the school bus, trapped into sitting together by a dearth of seats and their low social status. Park, the only half-Korean fan of punk and New Wave at their high school, is by no means popular, but he benefits from his family’s deep roots in their lower-middle-class neighborhood. Meanwhile, Eleanor’s wildly curly red mane and plus-sized frame would make her stand out even if she weren’t a new student, having just returned to her family after a year of couch-surfing following being thrown out by her odious drunkard of a stepfather, Richie. Although both teens want only to fade into the background, both stand out physically and sartorially, arming themselves with band T-shirts (Park) and menswear from thrift stores (Eleanor). Despite Eleanor’s resolve not to grow attached to anything, and despite their shared hatred for clichés, they fall, by degrees, in love. Through Eleanor and Park’s alternating voices, readers glimpse the swoon-inducing, often hilarious aspects of first love, as well as the contrast between Eleanor’s survival of grim, abuse-plagued poverty and Park’s own imperfect but loving family life. Funny, hopeful, foulmouthed, sexy and tear-jerking, this winning romance will captivate teen and adult readers alike. (Fiction. 14 & up)
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