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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Writer Care 101

So, shortly after penning and publishing my lovely post on Friday, I remembered what my original post was going to be about. This is more for friends and families of writers than for actual writers, but since a lot of us are both, you might as well keep reading.

Writer Care is what I wanted to discuss with you all. Very similar to Pet Care, but much more taxing at times. For that, us writers are truly sorry. We really don't mean to be so difficult. We just get lost in our own heads sometimes and have trouble finding our way back. Please bear with us. Especially if we're working out a particularly difficult plot point, like what are we supposed to do with a Soul Contract when the signer doesn't really possess a soul? (Yes, I wrote myself into that corner my first time out.) Or, Could a Solar Eclipse have the same effect on the undead as direct sunlight if you argue that the deities in charge of the sun and moon are combining their efforts into the destruction of said creatures? (Astronomy is hard! Justifying astronomical events is harder.)

Anyway, none of that has anything to do with the care of your writer. Since I know you all want me to get to the point so you can make sure your writer survives and thrives, here we go:

1. Feed Your Writer
    Much like a pet, your writer will need food (preferably chocolate, although bacon sandwiches now and then are typically appreciated) and water (flavored strongly with coffee. Or alcohol.) Remember, each writer is different and their dietary needs will also differ. A horror writer will need more meat, cooked rare and dripping, while a romance writer will want chocolates, in a heart shaped box, and glasses of wine. Prepare their food according or it will reflect in their writing, as proved by offerings like BLOODY VALENTINE. No one wants that.

2. Caffeinate Your Writer
     As mentioned above, give your writer lots of caffeine. Otherwise they're likely to fall asleep at the keyboard and end up with manuscripts containing lots of fjaeih;owoiofhd;sofnaskh;fwiehf a. Eventually this might amount to something, but it's not a safe bet.

3. Provide Plenty of Alcohol
     Again, this is mentioned above, but worth mentioning again. Writers need alcoholic drinks of their choice at times to keep up the creative juices. As a matter of fact, it's the main ingredient of Creative Juices. As long as you don't give them any while their editing (writing time only) it will vastly improve their mood and ability.

4. Quiet Time
     Writers need plenty of quiet. They get very antsy around lots of loud noises and may exhibit strange behaviors if exposed to noise for too long. Hair pulling, covering their ears and loud screams of their own may be signs of them not getting enough quiet time. Cover their desk with a darkening cloth and they should settle down.

5. Writing Implements
     This should go without saying, but writers need something to write with. Be sure to keep plenty of pens and paper lying around the house in random places. Writers have been known to be struck with brilliant ideas in the middle of doing something completely random. The easier it is for them to get those ideas on paper, the less agitated they become.

6. Humor Them
     Writers will sometimes get the craziest ideas in their heads. Things like two-headed monkeys taking over the world using tubs of mayonnaise. The best thing for you to do when they start going on and on about one of these is to humor them. Tell them it's an interesting idea and be a sounding board. Ask them how the monkeys will take over the world with mayo. Why do they have two heads? Treat them like little kids in this respect (and only in this respect) so they can work out plot holes before they happen. Plus, it makes them feel smart.

7. Support Them
     This is the last one on the list and most important. Writers can be very fragile creatures at times. They can build up a thick skin to deal with the public and pretend things are fine, but inside is always a little bit of doubt. Am I good enough? Will people read this? What if all those agents/critics/publishers are right and I'm never going to make it? We can lie all we want and put on a good face for our friends, families and devoted fans, but these thoughts linger.
      There are times when your writer will want to give up. The road to publishing isn't an easy one and some may never reach the finish line. Don't let them give up. Encourage them. Help them figure out what might be keeping the agents & publishers from snatching them up.
      And when they really need it, give them a shoulder to cry on. It will only be temporary, but it will be needed. Once they've gotten over that bout of insecurity, your writer will be back to their old self, chatting away about a new plot or story idea that entered their minds. They can't help it. Writing is what they do.

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Post That Wasn't

So, I had a blog post all planned out for you all last night. It was awesome and eloquent. It was going to be my best post EVER.

Then I succumbed to the terrible tragedy every writer faces at one time or another: I thought I could remember it in the morning, rolled over and went back to sleep. I now can't for the life of me remember what it was about, much less the entirety of it.

I promise it was pretty epic, though. Not that it helps.

So instead, I'm going to wish you all a Happy Easter, Happy Passover or Happy (fill-in the blank with your celebration of choice). I hope you have a lovely one. And, unlike my magnificent post from last night, I hope it's a memorable one for all the right reasons.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Look! A post! About writing! Yay!

Ok, not about writing exactly, but it has to do with the whole process of writing and publishing.

Most writers know you can't write on your own. The image of secluding ourselves somewhere nature-y, far from the hustle and bustle of the real world is unrealistic. Not to say we don't want to, or even manage to, sometimes. But at some point we need the company of other writers and readers. We need outside opinions and fresh eyes to catch things we've missed, from grammatical errors and typos to huge, gaping plot holes. That's where the writing community comes in.

Some of you who follow me on Twitter or Facebook know I was beta-reading for a friend. I then realized some of you might not have any idea what I was babbling on about. A beta reader or critique partner is someone who does all those things I mentioned above. They lovingly rip apart a manuscript we deem ready for public consumption, only to have it handed back to us with big red marks and notes in the margins asking why the blacksmith is currently pulling turnips out of the garden when he hates vegetables.

A lot of times things are clear in our own minds, because we know how things are supposed to go. We automatically fill in the missing pieces without realizing we haven't laid it out for our readers. It's why writing sites like CPSeek are great resources for writers. Not all of us can get people clamoring for our latest offerings. Finding people who want to get their grubby hands on anything hot off the press is a huge plus.

You also need to have good critique partners and betas. People who just read and tell you it's good, while nice, aren't helpful at this point in the process. We need honest feedback about what does and doesn't work. Are there inconsistencies? Is there a plot hole big enough for the whole cast to fall through? These are things a good partner will point out. All the bad along with all the good.

Honestly, wanting to get a hold of people's work before it's widely available is one reason I offered to beta read, not only on PHREAK SHOW (first chapter is here, if you're curious), but a handful of other works. Getting to see how it's changed and developed is a side perk, knowing you've helped shape it in some small way.

Writing is a long process with lots of detours along the way. Having people to help us keep on track and helping others stay on their path, makes the journey that much easier.

If you have critique partners or beta readers that you love, how did you find them? For you, what's the most important part of having them?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Where'd I Go?

I know I've been leaning heavily on the 'Absentee' part lately, but it's because I've had some good stuff going on. If you only follow me here and not on Twitter or Facebook, you may have missed what I'm talking about.

First of all, I've been very busy and active scheduling appearances. Calendar is slowly filling up, which is very exciting. It also means I won't be here as often, although I'm hoping to post pictures after each event. If you're curious about where I'll be, check out my Appearance page. Tomorrow I'll be doing my first school visit, so wish me luck!

Second, I'm still writing and editing my work. Some pieces are currently being queried or in various contests. My focus for querying is my second children's book THE BLUEBERRY MAN. While it hasn't connected with an agent yet, it did open a door for future queries to one agent. This story wasn't quite right for her, but she requested I query her with other writing in her genres. It's a half-win which has sent me back to my folders of edited manuscripts I wasn't quite ready to query yet, but now have a reason to get into shape.

Third, I'm beta-ing for some really fantastic stuff. Once those authors are ready to go live with publication announcements, I will let you all know. And I know these manuscripts will find a home somewhere. They're too awesome not to.

So, there you have it. I've actually been busy doing what I'm supposed to be doing; writing, marketing, reading and pestering other publishing types. Hopefully all this hard work will pay off and my book will end up on bookshelves around the world.

A girl can dream, can't she?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Nerd Cat Diaries - Game of Cats 6

Day 6 -

A new structure has appeared near the snow fortress. This one is smaller, more compact. Box-like. I watched it most of the night, waiting for someone or something to emerge. I was not disappointed.

Near dawn, there was movement in the hastily erected box-tent. What came out, I hadn't expected. The leader of the Wildlings, King Beyond-the-Wall, Mouth Rayder himself had been occupying the tent. 

Now, he lay siege to the Wall. He refused to budge, making it impossible to open the gate. As soon as we did, he would be through it in a flash. We were locked in a stand-off. He insisted they had come to us for protection. There was something else beyond the wall. Something not even they could control or destroy. I didn't believe him. Then we heard it. The shuffling beyond the tree line. We never saw it, but we knew for certain it was out there.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Nerd Cat Diaries: Game of Cats 5

Day 5 -

Damn that Jon Snow and his stupid beast. Since they've come to Castle Black, we've been getting visits from a black monster. No doubt it's looking for Blizzard or Ghost or Idiot --- whatever Snow's wolf is called. I think we should feed them both to the roaming monster outside our walls and be done with them all. 

Whoever thought keeping dogs of any variety around should be drawn and quartered, tarred and feathered and then flayed alive. Isn't it obvious they're good for nothing? 

Cats, however, are a whole different story. Superior intellect, fighting skills and climbing. They are the perfect  species. If I could, I would spend all my time studying cats and their magnificence. No other animal comes close to cats in ability and talent. Although, the Lord Commander's pet does interest me...