Saturday, September 29, 2012

Rejections Lessons


My writing teacher warned me this would happen. One rejection letter after another piled on shelves and shoved into filing cabinets. There's enough paper to cover my office walls--and ceiling and floor and some of the hallway.
 
Well, that's one solution.
 
There has to be more to the rejection letter than dust collector and object of scorn. Most writers will say that the best way to handle rejection letters is to read them, file them, and send the rejected piece off to someone else as soon as possible. It's not bad advice, but it's not good enough.
 
Take a long, hard look at that letter. Has the editor tossed you a crumb of hope? Given you even the slightest chance to hang on to your confidence and self-respect?
 
Yes, it's a form letter--the same terse, soulless letter they send to every writer who doesn't make the grade--but what else? Amongst all those stiffly typed words, is anything other than the signature handwritten? Quite likely. Editors like to add quick notes to writers who show some promise. If you can decipher the scrawl--editors are as inscrutable as doctors when it comes to penmanship--pay attention to the words. If you're lucky, the editor will compliment one or more aspects of your story--then tell you exactly where he or she thinks you went wrong.
 
Take the comments seriously, but don't take them to heart--unless they all start saying the same things. If nine out of ten editors say your ending falls flat, it probably does. Don't sulk. Don't get angry. Fire up your computer (or uncap you pen) and get back to the business of writing. Tuck your original version away--just in case--and start making changes. Use the suggestions you like. Dream up a few of your own. Throw away the rest. After all, it's still your story. You can only make so many changes based on outside commentary before it becomes someone else's story.
 
Thicken your skin by joining a writers' workshop (either online or in person). Everyone submits their work for critique. It won't take long for you to realize that a single story can generate critiques that run the gamut from "this is absolutely wonderful" to "better luck next time."
 
Whether you're hearing from fellow writers or detached editors, don't take the comments personally. Except in rare cases, critiques are aimed at the story, not at the writer.
 
Finally, accept the fact that--for most of us--the rejections will far outweigh any successes. Writing is a subjective art form. Standards of quality shift from person to person and from moment to moment.
 
Remain as true as possible to your original vision. Somewhere amidst all those publications is an editor who sees life as you do--or at least appreciates the way you present your case.
 
===========

Betty Dobson is an award-winning writer of short fiction, essays and poetry. She also writes newspaper and magazine articles but is still waiting for those awards to materialize. In the meantime, she continues to run InkSpotter Publishing, which is always open to submissions and queries.

Friday, September 28, 2012

WHAT DOES YOUR WRITING STAND FOR?

"If you hold an anti-war rally, I will not attend. If you hold a pro-peace rally, invite me."
Mother Teresa


I love this quote by Mother Teresa and think of it often during election time. I am most interested in candidates who are "for" the causes that I am passionate about rather than globally"against" issues. In my personal and professional life, I find that I am most effective when I  am  working toward a solution rather than fighting against negative situations. 

What are you"for" in life? How can you transform something you are against into something that you stand up for? How can your writing reflect this positive change? As writers, the words we publish can influence large groups of people in a powerful way.  What is the intention behind your writing?  What is the unique message that you want share with the world today?


Here's a recipe for Healthy Peaceful Peach Pizza for you!

Enjoy!



Peaceful Peach Pizza


For the pizza crust:
1/2 cup transfat free margarine
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons organic honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder

For the pizza topping :
8 ounces nonfat cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons organic honey
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups fresh peaches, cored and diced
2 tablespoons golden raisins, seedless


1. Preheat oven to 375F.
2. To make pizza crust, Combine margarine, cinnamon, sugar, honey, vanilla and egg in a large bowl. Beat well. Add flour and baking powder and stir until blended.
3. Spread mixture into a 9 X 13 baking pan.
4. Bake for 10 to 13 minutes or until crust is lightly golden on top. Cool for about 30 minutes.
5. To make icing, combine softened cream cheese, honey, cinnamon, and vanilla. Spread over top of pizza crust.
6. Place peaches on top of crust. Sprinkle raisins on top of pizza. Slice into pizza triangles and Serve




Aileen McCabe-Maucher is the author of the book "The Inner Peace Diet" which was published by Penguin Books and released in December 2008. Aileen is a licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist who has helped many people find inner peace and discover their unique life purpose. Aileen has worked for over fifteen years as a licensed psychotherapist and registered nurse providing individual and group counseling to a diverse client population. She is a graduate of West Chester University, Widener University, University of Delaware, and The Gestalt Therapy Institute of Philadelphia at Bryn Mawr College. Aileen studied yoga and the chakra system at The Yoga Lifestyle Center in Paoli, Pennsylvania and is currently pursuing a doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania and writing her third book.

For a completely free trial of The Inner Peace Diet, please visit www.theinnerpeacediet.com

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Balancing Act: Mother and Writer



            How to Begin a Freelance Writing Career at Home When You're a Mom

            You love your kids and you love to write. How can you do both?

Whether you have small children, middle-sized children, or big children – moms have a lot on their plates. We’re great at multi-tasking but usually it is for others and not ourselves. 

I’ve been a mom for 30 years and counting. With a 17 and 11 year old at home (and homeschooled) and my tendency to write only when inspired, I’ve learned it is imperative to work consistently if I am going to have a home-based, freelance writing career.

Once you have made the decision to be purposeful in your writing and have identified your yearly goals and weekly objectives, here are some tips for busy moms:
  • ·   Scheduling
There’s no doubt that the kiddos come first. But that doesn’t mean you cannot find time to write. Even very young children can learn to respect mom’s time. Of course, life happens and there may be interruptions to work around. But if you do not have a designated time scheduled for writing every day, it won’t happen. You have to have a target to aim at or you will not hit it.
  • Space
You need a writing space. That doesn’t mean you can’t sit on the couch with your laptop while the children are nearby. But your writing space will be one spot to keep your supplies and a place to go when you sit down at your designated time. It also makes you feel more professional. I fit a small desk in my bedroom. It immediately took my writing from casual blogging to writing magazine articles with a purpose. 


  • System
If you don’t buy the groceries this week you won’t be preparing any meals! Rarely do things go well when it’s hit or miss. This was my difficulty. I am very organized and efficient when it comes to managing my home but the writing kept falling through the cracks. That's because I only wrote when inspired. I learned if I sat down at my designated time, inspiration would come.

Choose certain days for specific tasks. For example, on Tuesdays and Thursdays I check the freelance job boards for assignments and apply. Once a week I write an article and submit it to the 3 magazines I'm interested in. Twice a week I research various topics I need to learn such as keywords, driving traffic to my site, etc. The internet is bursting with free courses!

I also bought a composition notebook and keep a "diary" of my daily writing accomplishments. It really helped me stay encouraged when I had an off week due to sickness, interruptions, and appointments.
  • Sanity
Let’s face it, moms are in demand! Yet, it’s alright to communicate to family and friends that you are unavailable when you’re working from home. 

If your children are very young and an hour a day is all you can manage, make that hour count. Plan on writing in the morning before the children are up, during naps, or after they go to bed. Or provide a quiet activity for your children while you write.  If your children go to school then designate 2-4 hours each day and stick with it. 

If you don’t treat your freelance writing seriously, no one else will. It’s a business that will provide an income and that’s serious stuff.
  • ·  Successful
Since joining an online writing group, I have learned to believe I can have a freelance writing business from home.  If you are a stay-at-home mom, you are used to working and not getting a paycheck. To think you can actually get paid for a writing assignment or publishing a book seems out of reach. 

I’ve got great news for you: it is within your reach.

However, it’s going to take patience and work. Don’t discount submitting one magazine article each week to an article directory or taking a resume writing course and begin offering resume writing services – it all counts. Just keep plugging away and don’t give up. 


Even if you have a goal of writing a book or a becoming a regular contributor to a magazine, you have to start somewhere. Dream big, but don’t forget to make it happen with earning money from writing projects that will help develop your platform, develop your writing skills, and get you where you want to go.

Do you have any ideas to add? Please share them!

                                                          ~



Kathleen Moulton lives at the foothills of the beautiful Adirondack Mountains in Upstate NY. She is a 25 year veteran homeschooling mom, a member of the Working Writer’s Club, and monthly contributor to Heartbeat the Magazine. You can find her passion to encourage at "When it Hurts" - http://kathleenmoulton.com
 


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Notable Dialogue

Dialogue is important to our stories. Without it our story could be rather boring to the readers. Dialogue can add emotion such as anger, excitement, humor, etc. It can lend mystery, suspense, and terror. Dialogue can provide our stories with backbone. So it stands to reason we need to get it right.

When we edit our work, there are some things for which we need to watch. For instance, explanations that are outside the dialogue. These are generally emotions. Try cutting them and see if it reads better. If it doesn't, you may need to rewrite your dialogue.

We all know about the -ly words. Most of these are associated with adjectives which describe an emotion (angrily, lovingly, etc.). Cut as many as you can of these or rewrite it. Not all can be eliminated, but do try to eliminate as many as you can.

Speaker attributions are something you need to analyze closely. Are any of them physical impossibilities? Example: "Call me tonight," she smiled. This type of attribution can brand you as an amateur. Are there any verbs other than "said"? There can be an occasional exception, but for the most part "said" is all you need. Speaker attributions are for clarifying who is speaking. You may be able to eliminate them altogether or replace with beats. Do not overdo the beats because they can be distracting. A balance of attributions and beats is preferred.

Do not start a paragraph with a speaker attribution. Always start with dialogue and place the attribution at the first comfortable spot. Example: "Stand back," he said, "or I'll shoot." Also make sure you put the pronoun before the verb (he said). If you have several characters speaking in a scene, you can have a string of "saids" which can be monotonous. Using a beat can solve this problem.

Remember! Ellipsis is for gaps or a character's voice trailing off. An example of a gap would be when you are showing one side of a telephone conversation. Dashes are used to show an interruption.

When writing dialogue, paragraph more often, especially when it is something you want to stand out or you have new speakers.

I hope these pointers help as you self-edit your work.

Keep wrting!

Faye M. Tollison
Author of: To Tell the Truth
Upcoming books: The Bible Murders
                            Sarah's Secret
Member of: Sisters In Crime
                   Writers On The Move
www.fayemtollison.com
www.fayetollison.blogspot.com
www.fmtoll.wordpress.com