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Posts tagged ‘RWA’

First Monday Mentoring, July 2016 – how NOT to be a writer in the 21st Century

Welcome to First Monday Mentoring, when I answer your questions about the writing craft and the fun stuff about being a writer.

This week’s blog was inspired by an email conversation with a columnist in a regional newspaper (themselves, sadly a dying breed). The column has no website, no email, no means of getting in touch other than by mail or phone.

When I finally tracked down an email contact to compliment the writer, he was predictably pleased that I’d reached out. But on the bottom of his response was the line, “I don’t read all my emails…pick up the phone.”

Well, no. Writers don’t get to tell our readers/customers how they can read our work. That’s up to them.  I used to wonder how you could read my books on a phone. In a word, convenience. You nearly always have a phone with you.

Beacon Homeworld 2

My current Beacon sci-fi series is published by Momentum, the digital-first arm of Pan Macmillan with the last in the series, Homeworld, released last week. I had to edit the series entirely online, rather than marking up a printed copy, which used to involve a language of editorial squiggles we mostly don’t see any more. To me, the hash sign # still suggests “space out” and we’re not talking taking illicit substances, but spreading out a piece of copy.

No longer. I love hashtags because they connect people to your conversation. The Twitter hashtag #AmWriting is read by millions around the world who share an interest in the writing process.

I admit I sometimes struggle with technology. Sometimes it’s me; sometimes the technology. But I soldier on because it’s fun  being part of this exciting world.

Celebrating a couple of decades working together, my agent gifted me an iPad Mini, a generous gift by any standards. I felt totally challenged by it but persevered and it’s now the best camera I’ve ever had. Not long ago, I had a live chat on it with writer friend, Jennie Adams. For her, it was early evening in Australia. For me, it was midnight in Las Vegas and we chatted as I waited for a flight #lovemyiPad

Other ways NOT to be a writer today:

Refuse to deal with ebooks.

Like most writers, I like print books, but my Kindle has over 500 books on it. Sometimes I’ll read the ebook version because I can have it NOW. Then I’ll order a print copy, especially nonfiction, to study at leisure.

Overlook technology in your stories

I see this a lot with entrants in the Valerie Parv Award run by Romance Writers of Australia. Too often characters are stuck in last century. There’s almost nowhere your characters aren’t linked by their devices. I’m judging this year’s finalists very soon with the hashtag #ValerieParvAward on Twitter and I’ll be looking for tech savvy characters.

Change the story to take account of real life. You can only have batteries go flat so many times. Likewise, in a story, you can only have doubt about a person’s parentage for two weeks or less, before DNA testing gives the answer. In Private Sydney, written with James Patterson, Kathryn Fox wrote about new technology that gets it down to one hour and while not as detailed as the longer tests, still reveals a lot. Using technology can broaden your story. Need characters to find answers to something? Let them share on social media or Google the details. Every writer I know blesses Google for making research a breeze.

If you aren’t already, get good at researching. Writing Homeworld, the final  book in my Beacons sci-fi series, I needed to know if you could launch a space shuttle off the back of a Global Express private jet. My net search turned up the PR division of the plane’s makers who sent my query to the designers. They not only wrote back that it could be done but included diagrams, thrilling me with their generosity. Learn the tricks to search terms and dive in.

You notice the difference if you dip into the past for entertainment. I enjoy the1980s cop show, T J Hooker, starring William Shatner, my tweetheart. Thanks for that lovely word, Joanna Sandsmark. He’s seen here with fellow Star Trek alumni, Leonard Nimoy. Watching him in action is fun, but I can’t help wishing for a cellphone every time he has to find a phone to take care of police business.

Kirk T J Hooker 2

Another fav. Is  Murdoch Mysteries, a detective show set in the 1890s where everything is old school. Yannick Bisson as eye candy in the title role doesn’t hurt, either. Former VPA “minion” (what previous award winners call themselves) Erica Hayes writing as Viola Carr, writes a fun series about the daughter of Dr. Jeckyll who inherited his affliction. In these page-turners,Viola employs the tech of the day – plus some neat inventions of her own – beautifully. Don’t take my word for it. The Wall Street Journal reviewed the first in the series – you can’t do much better than that.

Currently I’m developing a book where one lead character steps back in time. The other remains in the present with all its technical goodies, while my character has to deal with the comparatively low tech of the time she finds herself in.

Love it or loathe it, this is our reality as writers today. Technology also changes how we write – but that’s a subject for another blog.

How do you deal with technology in your writing? What books do it best for you as a reader? Share your thoughts in the comments below. They’re monitored to avoid spam, but your comment can appear right away if you click on “sign me up” at right. I don’t share your details with anyone.

Valerie

Valerie’s Beacon sci-fi series out now!
Beacon Starfound OUT NOW
Beacon Earthbound OUT NOW
Beacon Continuum OUT NOW
Beacon Homeworld OUT JUNE 30

via Amazon.com.au Amazon.com & Amazon.co.uk – also via
Barnes and Noble (Nook devices)

Google Play (All devices except Kindle)

iBooks Store (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac)

Kobo (All devices except Kindle)

 

 

 

 

 

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First Monday Mentoring – don’t forget to enjoy writing

It’s the first Monday of the month (or the first Sunday if you’re in the northern hemisphere). You’re invited to ask writing-related questions here for me to answer. Your thoughts and writing experiences may also help others.

Questions posted ahead of time will be answered during Monday November 5.

Sometimes the questions go past Monday into the week, and that’s okay too.

To kick things off, here’s a question I was  asked at the RWA conference in August: writers have so much to do with all the blogging, tweeting and other social networking,  getting work ready to pitch to editors and agents at conference, designing and promoting your books if you’re indie published (and even if you’re with an established publisher)…it never seems to stop. When do we get to enjoy the writing process itself?

This is a good question, and one we need to address if we’re not to burn out

First, accept that you can’t do everything. If you hate doing live blog tours, don’t commit to days or weeks of them. Can the blog owner send you some questions you can answer in your own time? If you love Twitter and hate Facebook, focus on building your Twitter following. You’ll need a Facebook presence, but you don’t have to be online every minute or even every day. Aim for most days.

Put a value on your time

This was one of the earliest lessons I learned as a freelance writer. Work out roughly what your time is worth per hour, easy enough if you have or had a day job. If you can hire someone to handle your website while you write, that may be a fair trade. Business people don’t think of doing all their own grunt work – why should writers? Farm out gardening, laundry, anything you can afford, freeing up more time to write. This also helps you to see yourself as professional, and less likely to fritter away precious writing time.

Most of all, remember why you want to write

The one thing every publisher, editor and agent asked for at conference was “a good story”. They want to read the adventures, romances and fantasies bubbling away inside you. A perfect lawn won’t make those stories happen. Only you can do that, and it must be important to you or you wouldn’t have chosen to write. Tell the stories only you can write, and let yourself enjoy the experience. As little as an hour a day can make your dreams happen. Everything else other than precious family time can wait or be delegated.

Agree? Have questions or other thoughts? First Monday Mentoring is the place to share what’s on your mind.

Valerie

http://www.valerieparv.com

on Twitter @valerieparv

and Facebook

 

 

5 reasons why we are all vampire writers

Whether you support Team Edward or Team Jacob or any other combination, the Twilight saga is the latest product from a long line of  creatures – the vampire writers. By that, I don’t mean writers who write about vampires, but writers who are ourselves vampires.

I am. We all are. It’s part of the writing deal.

Here are my 5 reasons why:

1. Writers are blood suckers.

We suck the life blood out of our fellow creatures; human, animal and fantasy. If not for the quirky thing my neighbour’s kids said – which I have mercilessly siphoned off for a story – what would I write about? The police caution that anything you may say can and will be used is 100% accurate. We admit to sitting in coffee shops, people watching. What we really mean is people stealing. We run away with fragments of your identity, your description, your intriguing words, sometimes even your soul depending on the books we write.

2. We can be killed by a stake through the heart

Thinking about it, so can most people. In this case I mean the cruel stake plunged in by an editor or a critique partner. They don’t mean to be cruel. They think they’re helping. And they are, when the red mist clears enough for us to see that. First we have to go through the agony of seeing our beautiful child called ugly and not good enough. Or worse, rejected altogether. Oh, the pain!

3. We are always looking for fresh blood

We can’t survive as writers without a constant diet of new input, or we resort to the desperate act of writing about writers. We need to read different books, explore strange new worlds, get as far outside our comfort zones as we can. Then we have something to write about. You already know I’m the Established Writer in Residence at Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers’ Centre in the hills behind Perth, Western Australia. I’ve made it a point to visit as many of the writing groups that meet here as I can, especially outside my usual writing. One of the most rewarding has been the poetry group. Thanks Mardi May for the fresh blood you’ve unwittingly provided.

4. We love to “turn” others

Vampires love to turn humans into vampires. We may need more than one bite to turn a non-writer into a writer, but we persist, and we succeed surprisingly often. Go to a writer’s conference – the Romance Writers’ of Australia have theirs on the Gold Coast in August. If you’re fascinated by how words morph into stories, you’re ripe for turning.

5. We hide among the normal people

As a writer, I get to “pass” as normal. I even get to go out in daylight, although I’m mostly holed up in gloom, pounding out words, during the day. I’ve sold 30 million books, yet I walk among you unrecognised, the way I like it, as I hunt for fresh blood…er…inspiration.

Are you a vampire writer? How do you know? Do tell.

Valerie

http://www.valerieparv.com

Established Writer in Residence, Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers’ Centre, Perth

on Twitter @valerieparv

and Facebook

NEW FOR 2012 – “First Monday Mentoring” – Your writing questions and problems answered here

Welcome to First Monday Mentoring.

On the first Monday of every month (or the first Sunday if you’re in the northern hemisphere), I invite you to post your writing-related questions and I’ll  answer them here.

Lots of talented writers read and comment on this blog and you’re also invited to contribute a question or your thoughts on an answer, or a writing experience that might help others.

There’s another reason I decided to hold First Monday Mentoring.

The 2012 Valerie Parv Award named in my honour by Romance Writers of Australia now opens April 23 and closes May 4 or earlier once the 80 available places are filled.  http://www.romanceaustralia.com/vpa.html

Note, the award is now limited to the first 80 entries received.

I mentor the winner of the VPA for the year they hold the award. With only one award and entries now being limited, I created a program called MentorXpress, where you can have a short experience of working with me as your mentor.  Details and cost are on my website http://www.valerieparv.com

Between the limited number of entries RWA accepts and the fact that there can only be one winner a year, means First Monday Mentoring gives you somewhere to post writing concerns and questions, or share experiences.

DAY ONE IS TODAY – MONDAY FEBRUARY 6

You can post your questions ahead of time if you like and answers will go up during Monday February 6.

I’ll monitor the blog and post answers throughout the day.

Happy First Monday, all!

Valerie

http://www.valerieparv.com

on Twitter @valerieparv

and Facebook

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