Friday, October 19, 2012

Halloween for Writers

Halloween for Writers
Inspiring, frightening, or fattening?

I love Halloween. I love autumn. We dress up our kids, ourselves, decorate our yards, and we buy candy for the trick-or-treaters.
For us writers? All the hoopla, history, and sights of Halloween, inspire our creativity. And this is true not only for those writers whose genre fits in with horror, mystery, or suspense. What memoir doesn’t have a story or two to tell about the best and worst Halloween experiences? What romance or mystery plot isn’t spiced up by an in-costume scene? Halloween and autumn scenery are excellent backdrops, no matter the genre.
            Lurking behind all that good stuff is the truly horrifying  Halloween monster—candy cravings. Who is more susceptible to them than someone chained to a desk?
I don’t know about the rest of you, but we still buy Halloween candy even though the grandkids live hundreds of miles away, and trick-or-treaters never show up this far from town!
            Halloween tips for writers:
1)   Tap into your heightened creativity! Write a short story, a flash fiction piece, or incorporate a Halloween scene into your novel or novella. Describe a fall scene in your latest work.
2)   When buying candy for the kids, buy something you’re less likely to dip into, i.e., forget the candy bars and stick with hard candy, apples, or bubble gum.
3)   If your kids come home with a haul, have them hide it from you. They’ll love the challenge!
4)   If you just have to have some candy, ask someone in the family to hide a bag of mini-Snicker’s bars for you (or whatever you can’t resist) and only dole out two at a time to you, after dinner.
5)   Wear a costume for the trick-or-treaters.
6)   Do something fun! Find a party, volunteer at a church celebration for kids, invite some friends over. Make the most of the holiday.
Dear Readers,
Here’s wishing you a fun Halloween. There’s a spooky story waiting for you under my “short story” tab, if you want to get in the mood. (It’s very short, I promise, but not flash-fiction!) Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

What to Do When You Just Don’t Feel Like It!

Writers – What to Do When You Just Don’t Feel Like It!

            It isn’t writer’s block. It’s not a glitch in the process. You know where your writing is going and what the next step will be. But—you feel like you need to tie yourself to the computer to get anything done. Any little distraction takes you away from what you should be doing.
            Sound familiar?
            I just got back from a rather grueling two-day, 500-mile trip. I returned home to find to 278 emails to address, three projects awaiting completion, a blog to write, and a submission to send to my critique group, which I hadn’t finished writing. And my dog keeps staring at me because she hasn’t had a walk in two days!  What I really feel like doing is nothing.
            The topic for this blog was easy—how to get out of this state.
1)   Determine just what’s going on. Feeling overwhelmed? Tackling too much at once? Decide if you really need to do something else, something unrelated to anything to do with your writing.
2)   If it is getting away that you need, make sure it’s something fun.
3)   If you’re hiding from a long list of things to do, start small.
4)   Make a list of everything that needs doing. Then do everything on the list that’s short. The feeling of well-being you get from their completion will get you back in the swing of things.
5)   If your list is short, and all the things on your list are big projects, allot 30 minutes to each of them every day until they’re finished.
6)   Read a great book, preferably in your own genre. This will inspire you to look at your writing with new eyes.
7) A reader just added a great tip! Put on your favorite music and let it restore your creativity and inspire you. Experiment a little and try classical music. It is said to spike creativity.

Dear readers,
I’ve been doing a little of all these things to get out of my rut today. Got this blog done, my submission in, and took the dog for a long walk. For me, walking stokes my creative juices. I’m feeling much better now and am back to a heightened state of productivity.
If you have some things that work for you, let us know. It’s always helpful to get feedback from our writer-friends!
Hope you’re all having a great week,

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Proofing - When to quit!

Proofing – When to quit!

            The most common mistake made by self-published authors, is trusting their manuscript to proofing by their own eyes. Pinpointing one’s own errors can be a real crapshoot. It’s even difficult for a professional proofer; the temptation to get caught up in the story lurks in the background, daring the proofer to skip over errors.
            When I published my first novel, I proofed it myself and also had a friend proof it for me. It wasn’t long before I found out the hard way—in a review—the book was loaded with proofing problems. I reproofed it two more times. When the print version came out, I proofed it once more only to have someone tell me there were so many problems in the book that she couldn’t even read it! I finally woke up to a very bitter truth. The only way to publish a product that reads like it was not written by an amateur, is to hire a professional proofreader.
            Yes, the pros can be expensive but more services are available every day, and some are still affordable.
Thoughts on proofing.
1)   When I talk about proofing, remember in the true sense, proofing only looks for obvious errors, such as spelling, typos, punctuation, inconsistencies, etc. If you want something more in depth, you’ll need an editor, a line editor, or copy-editor.
2)   In considering services for hire, make sure you have them define exactly what they’ll be doing for you. The line between the different services listed above is not exact. There is a lot of overlap depending on who's explaining the process. Always be certain what you'll be getting before committing yourself to anyone’s service.
3)   Know what you want done. Don’t pay for proofing if what you really want is someone to give you feedback on your story or your writing style.
4)   Before using anyone’s services, ask for a list of authors he/she has done work for. Don’t be shy about contacting them.
5)   Before signing up, be sure to ask how long it will take before the work is completed. And be mindful, when you hire an individual, you always run the risk of extended timelines due to problems in their personal lives.
6)   Use services that require only a deposit before you see the final product.
7)   If you aren’t convinced you need a proofer, keep in mind there are many promotion sites and reviewers who will not accept books that have not been professionally proofed. Some even require professional editing.
8) Is it possible to proof too much? Unlike editing, the answer is no. But don't forget, even best-sellers have a few typos.
9)   There are many services out there, but here are a few I’m familiar with who are affordable and do a good job:

Red Pen Proofreading & Editing  
April, an excellent editor and proofer who works for our local paper, is a friend of mine and has worked on both of my novels.

I haven’t used Steve’s services yet, but have heard good things from other authors I know.

Karen Syed, at Sassy Gal,   
Karen, a member of Sisters In Crime, was recommended to me by a friend. She’s done proofing for me and she did an excellent job. Her service also has package deals that include all aspects of readying your book for print, including formatting and covers. My spouse has used her for his non-fiction book.

Melissa Gray, Melissa is highly recommended by authors whose opinion I value, and she has reasonable rates. She's affiliated with Steve Caresser of eprinted books, (see above).

Alastair, at, I haven’t used this service yet, but was impressed with his rates and prompt responses.

Dear Readers,
A special thank you to all my new followers. It’s fun to read your blogs. Keep sending links to them with your comments!
Once more, I’d like to remind you of two things I’ve learned the hard way: Proofing is important, and don’t use a service unless you have either had it recommended to you by a friend or asked the service for a list of other authors who have used them.
Have a great week, everyone,