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Posts tagged ‘publishing’

First Monday Mentoring January – 5 things smart writers won’t take into 2017

 

Hi and welcome to First Monday Mentoring for January 2017. Not too many people are sorry to see 2016 over, as it came with more than its share of tragedy and loss. But focusing on loss is a good way to encourage more of the same. Better to focus on what we do want in the coming year, rather than what we don’t.

Anita in Honolulu with the cocktail that inspired our joint writing project

Anita in Honolulu with the cocktail that inspired our joint writing project

I hope as writers you have exciting plans for the year ahead, and lists of goals you’d like to achieve. I suggest breaking them down into bite size pieces so you can cross off small steps rather than have to wait to cross off one big step. For example, “write a book” is a giant step. A better approach is to list “start a new book” if you’re at that stage. Or if not, “develop book idea” then “outline book” and so on. “Write X words every day” is a good choice. Whether you choose 50 words or 500 matters less than having a measurable number you want to complete every working day.

My big goal for 2017 is writing a novel in collaboration with the much-loved writer, Anita Heiss. Neither of us has written a book with two voices, and we spent a few days in December brainstorming content and how the project would work. In line with the small steps advice, we plan to complete a partial for our agents to shop around, then work with two key characters each, the story alternating between them. Excited? You bet. I’ve already met my goal of writing the first 500 words by New Years Eve. Did another chunk to celebrate New Year’s Day. We’ll tweet and Facebook as we go along.

Anita and I after our brainstorming getaway

Anita and I after our brainstorming getaway

Check out Anita’s blog on the project  https://anitaheiss.wordpress.com/2016/12/22/52-weeks-of-gratefulness-week-50-working-with-the-best/

Now for 5 things smart writers won’t take into 2017:

1 – A cookie-cutter story. Whatever genre you write in, push yourself to write something special, unique to your voice and interests.

2 – Lack of respect for your readers. You need to bring your A-game to whatever you write. Every story is worthy of your best work, for yourself and your readers.

3 – A blasé attitude toward craft. Even if you indie publish your own work, make sure you hire a good editor, cover designer and whatever else you need to put your best work forward. Trad pubbed authors also need to address these concerns in conjunction with your agent and publisher. Never stop learning and developing.

4 – Lack of faith in yourself. Over many years I’ve found that insecurity is a hallmark of every successful writer. Even New York Times’ Bestselling authors feel unsure if they’ve achieved what they wanted for their books. Rather than letting their fears beat them, they push themselves to do better with everything they write, and so can you.

5 – Buying into the gloom and doom. As I said above, it’s better to aim for your highest goals rather than run away from what you don’t want. Writing a book is tough enough without dragging along the baggage of bad news, political angst and fear of the future. What will be will be. If you have to, watch or listen to less news, and focus on the good in your life. Bring that to your writing and I guarantee you’ll see a difference.

Share your thoughts in the comment box below. Comments are moderated to avoid spam but  appear right away for subscribers, or after you click “sign me up” at right. I don’t share your details with anyone. Thanks for your support. Have a happy and creative New Year!

Valerie

on Twitter @ValerieParv and Facebook

Valerie’s latest book, Outback Code, is OUT NOW,

3 books complete in one volume for summer reading

For international orders, print & ebook formats,

Booktopia http://tinyurl.com/hj3477e

From Amazon for Kindle http://tinyurl.com/hxmmqsk

 

 

 

 

Are You Writing or Working?

Yesterday I was talking to a friend when she said, “I’ve finished writing for the day. Now I have to go to work.”
Excuse me?
I’ve heard variations on this so often that I feel a blog is needed.

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I was also inspired by today’s post by Ebony McKenna – http://www.melbournerwg.com/1/post/2013/05/its-fine-to-have-a-hobby-by-ebony-mckenna.html – on the Melbourne Romance Writers’ Guild blog, where she says:

…perhaps it’s time to step back for a moment and have a think. Do you write for fun? Excellent. Keep doing it. Does the thought of sending your story out into the world, to be ripped apart by critics kill you inside? Good then, don’t do that. Do the bit you love, without the other stuff. The pressure stuff, that will suck all the joy from your hobby.

She’s right of course. Hobbyist painters can happily paint for their own enjoyment without expecting the Louvre to come knocking. Singers join choirs, and actors volunteer with local drama societies, giving pleasure to huge numbers. Why can’t writers enjoy writing as a hobby?

Many do, of course. Some writing groups let members read work aloud for the satisfaction of sharing their words. You can write journals, competition entries, blogs, family histories. As Ebony says, “Don’t get drawn into the competitive nature of writing as a full time job. Write for the pure, simple joy it brings you. Write for yourself. Write to feed your heart.”

But if feeding your heart isn’t enough and you want to be published, you have to start seeing your writing as real work. You need to learn all you can about the craft and stay current with the publishing industry. All while writing regularly, around a day job, family commitments and life in general.

After writing over 80 published books plus film scripts, novellas, articles, short stories and blog posts; assessing work by my “minions” in the Valerie Parv Award;as well as words for promotional copy and cover blurbs, I guarantee it’s work with a capital W.

And it never stops.

Unlike most jobs, a writer’s work follows us everywhere, interrupting sleep, restaurant meals, holidays and TV programs. We spend half our working lives waiting – for editors, for publication, reviews, sales…while wrestling with the next project. As I said in my last blog, writing is one of the toughest gigs around.

Hobby or work? It all depends on why you write, and where you dream of going.

Why do you write? I look forward to sharing your comments here.

Valerie
http://www.valerieparv.com
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on Twitter @ValerieParv and Facebook

Read some reviews already up at http://www.valerieparv.com/birthright.html

Six things I wish I’d known about being published, when I was starting out

Hindsight is always 20/20. It’s easier to look back and see your writing career more clearly than when you’re starting out. This year marks the 30th anniversary of my first romance novel being published. I had books out before then but they were nonfiction, and nothing beats the thrill of holding your first novel. Or your 50th for that matter. For me, the excitement never wears off. Last week I received the French translation of With a Little Help, and couldn’t wait to share the news with my agent and social networks.

I still get a kick out of my translations.The guy on the cover doesn't hurt either.

While I hope the thrill never stops, I’m glad some things have changed. Today I share six things I wish someone had told me when my journey began. They may save you some needless angst.

  1. Publishing is only the beginning. I thought of having my novel published as reaching a summit. I’d plant my “successful” flag, readers would cheer and I’d never worry again. Until my editor asked, “What are you writing next? And after that?” Readers might cheer, but they also want more. There are revisions to do, proofs to read, promotion, even before social networking became everyday. Plus writers’ conferences to attend, speeches, workshops and media. Rinse and repeat with every book.
  2. You can be ‘real’, your family won’t even notice. Using aspects of my family history in stories once kept me awake nights. What if family members were offended, hurt, angry? When one book I considered especially revealing came out, they read the characters, setting and situation as fiction. In other words, they didn’t connect real life with my story. Change the names and details to protect the guilty, and sleep well.
  3. No matter how many books you sell, someone will ask what name you write under. Nearly 30 million sales on, I still get asked what name I write under. Right before how long it takes me to write a book, and where do I get my ideas. Knowing I’m often the first writer some people have met,  I answer the questions as if they’re new to me, too.
  4. The fun stuff you get to do really IS research. If you read my previous blog about this, you’ll know that everything a writer does is research, good and bad. I know writers who’ve had major surgery and taken notes because it will come in handy sometime. Everything from lazing on a tropical island to cuddling a Tasmanian devil has found its way into my books.
  5. Your family IS proud of you but won’t necessarily let you know. One sister wishes I’d write like Stephen King. Not in me to do. I can only write as me. The other used to read my magazine short stories in the supermarket queue. She changed after learning that I’d spread this around.  No one I know has asked when I’m going to write a “real” book, mainly because I’d written so many books before turning to romance. But you might get asked. Rehearse the reasons why romance is the world’s biggest-selling genre in ebooks and print. Romance Writers of Australia has all the amunition you need here: http://www.australianwomenwriters.com/2012/02/australian-romance-writing-whats-there.html
  6. Changes in publishing are NOT the end of the world. Change has been part of the industry as long as I’ve been writing. The first time my adored editor was reassigned, I was a nervous wreck.  These days I roll with the punches. Editors move on. Lines and even publishing houses merge with others, disappear or reinvent themselves online. Print books become ebooks, audio and graphic novels. The one constant is they still need writers providing exciting content. Don’t panic. To paraphrase a popular saying: Keep Calm and Keep Writing.

What have you learned on your writing journey? Please comment below, and share on Twitter, Facebook and any other medium invented while I was blogging. Change is the one constant in life, not only for writers.

Valerie

http://www.valerieparv.com

On Twitter @valerieparv

and Facebook

Writing conferences, 5 reasons why they’re worth your time and money

When asked whether he thought writing courses stifle writers, Ernest Hemingway famously said he didn’t think they stifled enough of them. You have to wonder what he’d think of the Romance Writers of Australian national conference taking place next week in Melbourne, where 350 writers are gathering to catch up with friends  and share information about the craft. Certainly not stifled.

www.theage.com.au is a good article about what’s coming up.

Already the net is abuzz with the excitement of those attending, me included. My suitcase sits open and half packed, my notes and giveaways for the workshops I’m presenting are ready. I’ll be talking on Creativity and Feeding the Muse at the Published Author Day next Thursday, then on The Art of Layering Your Romance Novel with Jennie Adams on Saturday.  Other sessions range from social media and marketing to staging a convincing fight scene.

Learning is a big part of writing conferences

From this you might think the benefit of being there is mainly in learning from experts. While that’s a big part of what conferences are about, here are some other reasons I think they rock.

1. You catch up with colleagues you only “meet” online the rest of the year

2. You find out what everybody else has been writing

3. You load up your case with free books as well as the booty from the conference bookstore

4. Somebody else feeds and cares for you during the event (writers with families know how amazing this feels)

And most importantly:

5. You find out you’re not the only person in the world who…….(fill in the gap)

#5 is huge, because all of us at some stage have thought we were the only one getting sucky feedback from editors, going through a dry patch when ideas were non existent, unable to write because of life in general,  or thinking a day job at McD’s was looking good. Knowing others are in the same boat can lift your spirits and get you back in the game faster than almost anything.

Right now there’s a huge amount of upheaval in publishing. Nobody really knows where we’re headed, making it even harder to write than usual – and it’s tough enough in the good times. Being among like-minded friends can reassure you that it IS worthwhile hanging in there, writing the book of your heart and trying to get it published. When something is hard, it’s usually the most rewarding when you make it.

Then there’s the social side of cocktail party, awards dinner, charity auctions and hanging out with friends in lobby, coffee shop or late night bar. Everybody gets something different out of this side, but we all come away feeling supported, encouraged and fired up to get back to the keyboard.

If that’s not enough to justify the time and cost, there are those other magic words – tax deductible.

Are you going to a conference soon or have been to one lately? What was the best thing about it for you?

Valerie

 

 

 

 

 

Books in my head, inside a writer’s brain

Many years ago a dear friend, Pat Kerry, gave me a poem she’d written called Books in My Head. The last lines have stayed with me because they’re so true –  “books in my head will never get read/ unless I get up and write them.” She was talking about those dreamy times straight after waking, when our heads are full of thoughts and ideas.  Unless we get up and write them down somewhere, these precious words are likely to vanish forever. All we’ll remember is that we had a great idea, but not what it was.  Whether you record your ideas on a laptop, tablet, cellphone or a notebook kept by the bedside – and I recommend you keep something handy for this purpose – doesn’t matter as long as you capture your thoughts. You can edit and develop them later. The main thing is to get them down somewhere.  Our brains aren’t wired to make memories out of the thoughts we have in the time between sleep and waking. That’s when the slower brainwave cycles called alpha and theta waves occur and we’re most likely to have great insights and inspirations. Frustrating when you think it’s also when we’re least able to remember them.

There’s another way of looking at the lines from the poem, too. It’s that wanting to write a book, intending to write one and talking about your wonderful ideas to your friends won’t produce one page of words  unless you actually “get up and write them.” It’s probably why so many people dream of writing a book but the majority never actually do. Writing is hard work. And news flash, it doesn’t get easier with practice. As I’ve found writing 25 nonfiction books and over 50 romance novels, you get better at  putting words down in a readable order and seeing where the work can be improved. But every book is a first book. As one would-be writer asked me, “How do you know when you sit down to write, that you can do it?” The answer is, you don’t. You write to find out IF you can do it this time, with these characters, telling this story. When I sat down to write this first blog, I had no idea how it was going to turn out. All writing is a voyage of discovery. That’s the fun part. And it’s the part which keeps me writing even when the going gets tough. We writers are very lucky, we get paid for doing the very thing that got us into trouble as kids, making things up. Like my next book. And this blog. It’s no coincidence that I chose to write my first post about what’s going on in a writer’s brain. My two great loves are human psychology – what makes us tick, and how we turn books in our heads into worlds for readers to come play in. Whether you’re a reader or a writer or both, I hope you’ll come play here again soon.

Valerie

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