Saturday, March 3, 2018

The Three Habits of Successful Writers

Written by Caitlin Jans | December 19, 2016
Many writers have one or two of the following habits, but it is very rare to find writers that do all three of these things regularly, unless you are looking at a shelf at a bookstore or library. Almost all of the authors whose work is on that shelf, at some point in their life did all three of these things habitually. Once you are established as a writer the third habit becomes less important, but until then it is the most vital habit and the one most commonly overlooked.
1. Write
The way you define yourself as a writer is that you write every time you have a free minute. If you didn’t behave that way you would never do anything.
–John Irving
Write a short story every week. It’s not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row.
–Ray Bradbury
Don’t write to become famous or to make a lot of money.  Write because you love it. Write because not writing for more than a few days feels like you have abandoned a puppy in a mineshaft.  Save the puppy.
– Joe Beernink
Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.
–Pablo Picasso
I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.
― Shannon Hale
It might seem obvious or redundant that being a writer requires one to write a lot. But many people who call themselves writers rarely write. I know one writer who spends about four hours a year writing creatively. Many of the writers I know wait for inspiration.
If you are going to become a professional writer it involves writing regularly. Even when you do not feel like writing.
When I was younger I waited for inspiration, but the more serious I got about producing work the more regularly I wrote. And the more regularly I wrote the more regularly I produced work worth reading.  That is really what it comes down to. Good writers produce work worth reading. Hopefully a lot of it.
Would the Harry Potter series would have worked if J.K. Rowling waited for inspiration? No, she would probably still be on book one.
Writing, if you are serious about it, is a lot like every other job. You have to commit a lot of time to it. You sometimes have to write a lot of rubbish to get to the good stuff, but that is OK, like Shannon Hale says, sometimes early drafts are all about shoveling sand.
If you are protesting right now that you don’t have time to write, I hear you. I have a baby, a full time job, and at first I really struggled to find the time to write.
But I found a way, mostly by giving up all TV and the occasional social gathering. And I am really glad I did. If you want to work on intentionally adding more writing time to your life, these three articles are really worth the read: How to Make Time For Focused WritingHow to Develop Good Writing Habits, and The Six Month Novel Writing Plan.
2. Edit
No one cares about your first draft.
– Neil Gaiman
Going back and editing is the best part of writing; it’s like reading an interactive novel. ‘Oh I wish the author used this word here or had this dramatic reveal there…oh that’s right! I am the author!’
–Mabel E. Wetherbee
I wish I felt like Mable E. Wetherbee about editing, but frankly I (and many other authors) don’t enjoy editing. I have discovered, over time, that if I type slower and copy edit a little as I go, I am left with a product that while not yet finished is awfully close. It allows me to focus on any changes I have to make on the content itself, rather than the spelling and the grammar (although hard as I try, there are always mistakes).
I take different approaches to editing a poem, an article, or a novel. Each genre requires different editing techniques. For example, when I edit poems my focus is on concision, I try to remove any line or word or punctuation mark that is not vital, so that I am able to convey my idea without any extra words. When I edit my own articles, I focus on how clearly I am making my point.
When I edit a novel I edit for different aspects each time. For example one editing round could focus entirely on continuity, another on characters.
No matter how you do it, editing takes focused time outside of writing and it also takes perspective. I do not know any writers that can do all of the editing right away. They need to take a break of at least a week, then return to the work on it after a period of time.
The following articles are very helpful ways to get started, if you struggle making editing part of your writing practice: Editing Exercise: Length PlayFive Free and Cheap Editing Options, and Three Steps to Take Before Publishing Your Manuscript.
3. Submit
Editors never buy manuscripts that are left on the closet shelf at home.
– John W. Campbell
I figured out that I had to write regularly when I was 18.
I figured out that I needed to spend most of my time editing when I was 19.
I was 24 when I figured out that those two steps were insufficient.
No one was going to break into my house, steal my manuscript, publish it, and send me royalty checks.
I had to start submitting for myself, and I had to be serious about it and I had to know what I was doing. This took time. I figured out how to submit my work to literary journals first.
This was good in some ways because the stakes are a lot lower. If a literary journal publishes one of your poems poorly, it is frustrating, but no great loss. It is just one small piece of writing. If a publisher takes the rights to your novel and messes up, there are much greater consequences.
Unfortunately after I had such a degree of success I didn’t pursue publishing a manuscript for over four years, as if somehow now that my work was out in the world that would be enough for a publisher or an agent to track me down.
That has worked for some fiction writers (Elizabeth Gilbert’s agent found her after Esquire published one of her short stories), but for the majority of writers that is not how it works. So finally in the last three years I have started to submit regularly to manuscript publishers as well as literary journals.
I submit regularly. At least once a week I submit to a few literary journals and a few manuscript publishers. I have my manuscript out to four publishers at all times. I have various poems and stories out to at least 30 literary journals at once. While I have yet to publish a book, I have published a rather large amount of poems in anthologies and literary journals. So even though my whole book of poems has yet to be published you can find my poems in a number of anthologies at brick and mortar bookstores.
When you first start submitting make a clear number-based goal regarding how many submissions you want to keep out at a time, and then stick to it. When you receive a rejection, send a submission out. Make sure your work is always being considered in the world. Of course, in order for this to happen you have to be writing all the time. In order for your work to be taken seriously it has to be edited and polished.
In Conclusion
Writing is all about balance, as long as you continue to do all three things, you will be published. But it is a lot of hard work, a lot of commitment, and a great deal of time. Stay focused. I know you can do this.
Thank you all for visiting with us. It’s always a pleasure to meet readers and authors. Until next month, every one please stay safe. Smile. Be happy. Show compassion. Be nice to others. Put a little love into your heart. Please speak up for those without a voice, whether it be a dog, cat, elephant or monkey. One person, one voice can make a difference. Read a book and pass it on. Leave a review. Reviews are important for authors. Believe me. I know. Thank you!
Regards,
S. J. Francis, Writing is my passion, but animals are my world. 
Advocate for the underdog, and cat, and supporting writers, et al.

In Shattered Lies: "It's All About Family." Available now from Black Opal Books and for sale at all on-line retailers and independent booksellers.
                  
                Shattered Lies is a winner in the Fall 2016 NABE Pinnacle Book Achievement Awards for Women's Fiction. 
                Shattered Lies is a runner-up in the 2016 Shelf Unbound Indie Best Book Award Competition.
                Shattered Lies is a 2016 Reader's Favorite Honorable Mention in the Fiction - Women’s category.
                Shattered Lies was a Finalist in the 10th Annual National Indie Excellence Awards.
                Shattered Lies was chosen as General Fiction Official Selection in the 2015 New Apple Book Awards.
                The first, original book cover design for Shattered Lies was a semi-finalist in the 2015 Authors dB Best Cover Contest.
               The 2nd new book cover design for Shattered Lies was a Finalist in the 2016 Authors dB Best Cover Contest. 

My Black Opal Books Author Page:
http://www.blackopalbooks.com/author-bios/bio-sj-francis                                                                           Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/sjfrancis419
                 Face Book: https://www.facebook.com/pages/SJ-Francis/480058115420325
      My Writing Blog: http://www.sjfranciswriter.blogspot.com
      A Consumer's View: http://aconsumersview.blogspot.com
                  One for the Animals: http://onefortheanimals.blogspot.com                                               Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/sjfrancis419/
                           Good Reads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/33550975-s-j
And now for some legal stuff: Copyright 2018 by S.J. Francis. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the author, S. J. Francis and the guest author and are meant to entertain, inform and enlighten, and intend to offend no one. 

Saturday, February 3, 2018

4 Tips For Writing Fresh, Engaging, Unforgettable Scenes | BookDaily

From Book Daily.com   DiAnn Mills    Originally Printed on April 10, 2017




Novels are written written with one powerful, sensory-engaging, character-building, plot-enhancing, conflict-stabbing, stake-raising scene after another.
They are fresh, alive, exciting, unforgettable . . . and often difficult for the writer to grasp the technique.
With all the criteria necessary to keep the reader turning pages, how is a scene mastered that incorporates all the essentials and yet doesn’t look like a template branded onto the page?
Some years ago, I struggled with all of above. Defeat and failure stalked my waking and sleeping hours. An editor at Tyndale Publishers gave me four plot questions to ask before creating each scene, and they also gave me permission to write and teach their recommendations. How cool is that?
The following are what I now use to form a new scene.
1. What is the point of view character’s goal or problem?
2. What does the point of view character learn that he/she didn’t know before?
3. What backstory is revealed?
4. How are the stakes raised?
These questions stopped me from heading in the wrong direction. In short, I could focus on what needed to occur. At times the answers to #2 and #3 are the same. That’s okay.
These gems propelled me to think more about the dynamics of scenes and how I envision an adventuresome and unique story. I’ve also incorporated a few words of wisdom from other bestselling writers.
Donald Mass teaches: “Avoid backstory until after the first approximately 50 pages.”
Wow, that means the story begins in the now. We’re writing about a likable character who is experiencing the story world as it unfolds to them. The reader develops a relationship with the character, just like meeting a real person for the first time.
James Scott Bell adds: “Avoid character flaws for the first approximately 50 pages.”
I love this. The character holds back on showing those traits that aren’t admirable while the reader is getting to know him/her. Remember dating the man or woman of your dreams? We were in love before we spotted a few things that bothered us. But we’d already invested in the relationship, so we stuck with it.
Steven James: “Story trumps structure.”
How else can we write a scene that is a keeper? The middle can leave us exasperated, and too often a reader discards the book when the story falls flat. Here are a few tips:
1. Have the character choose between two rights and face the consequences of the decision.
2. Have the character choose between two wrongs (one of my favs) because this forces the character to change and grow.
3. Toss in a crucible, when two characters will not give up something of value. Think lifeboat.
4. Shove two characters into a scene with opposing goals. Watch the conflict explode!
5. Consider a facade scene. This is when a character believes something to be true, and the reader believes it too, then the character faces the devastation of knowing he/she was wrong. Entire books can be constructed this way.
Building scenes with a worthy goal, adding conflict, and raising the story’s stakes is worth the time. The rewards will be in satisfied readers, good reviews and increased sales.
How do you write scenes that usher in admiration and respect for the craft?
WANT TO SHARE THIS TIP? TWEET THIS:
🐦CLICK TO TWEET🐦 #Authortip from @BookDailycom: 4 Tips For Writing Fresh, Engaging, Unforgettable Scenes by @diannmills www.bookdaily.com/authorresource/blog/post/1945733
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; the Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Her latest book, Deep Extraction, releases in April.
Connect with her on twitter: https://twitter.com/diannmills
Thank you all for visiting with us. It’s always a pleasure to meet readers and authors. Until next month, every one please stay safe. Smile. Be happy. Show compassion. Be nice to others. Put a little love into your heart. Please speak up for those without a voice, whether it be a dog, cat, elephant or monkey. One person, one voice can make a difference. Read a book and pass it on. Leave a review. Reviews are important for authors. Believe me. I know. Thank you!

Regards,
S. J. Francis, Writing is my passion, but animals are my world. 
Advocate for the underdog, and cat, and supporting writers, et al.


In Shattered Lies: "It's All About Family." Available now from Black Opal Books and for sale at all on-line retailers and independent booksellers. "Some secrets should remain that way."


                     Shattered Lies is a Finalist in the 2016 Wishing Shelf Independent Book Awards.

       Shattered Lies is a winner in the Fall 2016 NABE Pinnacle Book Achievement Book Awards for Women's Fiction. 


       Shattered Lies is a runner-up in the 2016 Shelf Unbound Indie Best Book Award Competition.
                                        
    Shattered Lies is a 2016 Reader's Favorite Honorable Mention in the Fiction - Women’s category.  

          Shattered Lies was a Finalist in the 10th Annual National Indie Excellence Awards.


                                        
 Shattered Lies was chosen as General Fiction Official Selection in the 2015 New Apple Book Awards.

   The 2nd, new book cover design for Shattered Lies was a Finalist in the 2016 Authors dB Best Cover Contest. 


   The first, original book cover design for Shattered Lies was a semi-finalist in the 2015 Authors dB Best Cover Contest. 

My Black Opal Books Author Page:
                                            Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/sjfrancis419

       A Book Review 4 U: http://abookreview4u.blogspot.com
                                               
     
      A Consumer's View: http://aconsumersview.blogspot.com
                  One for the Animals: http://onefortheanimals.blogspot.com

And now for some legal stuff: Copyright 2017 by S.J. Francis. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the author, S. J. Francis and the guest author and are meant to entertain, inform and enlighten, and intend to offend no one.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

3 Reasons to Limit Point of View....

A Note from S.J. Francis: Ah-Point of View. If there was anything more confusing about writing, I don't know what it is. For me, point of view is it. I love reading all kinds of books. I love writing but as far as reading and writing regarding point of views, I prefer the third person omniscient for point of view. For me, it's similiar to watching a film or a stage play. I can enjoy seeing the action placed out in front of me. Same as reading a book in third point of view. Now, how about you? Which point of view do you enjoy writing and/or reading in? Why or why not? Until next time....

From Bookdaily.com

3 Reasons to Limit Point of View | BookDaily #AuthorTips

Melissa Eskue Ousley                                                            December 12, 2016 
I’ve read a number of books lately that have had something in common, despite being from different genres. They all used third person omniscient for point of view. Point of view (POV) is the perspective from which a story is told. In third person omniscient, the author knows what is happening with all the characters. The author can even share information only the author could know, describing moments when no characters are present to experience them. Using this type of POV can be tricky, however. Here are three reasons why using third person limited (or first person limited) might be preferable.
Head-hopping: While it can be helpful for readers to have a broad view of a story, it can be challenging to transition from a wide lens to a narrow focus. As an editor, a problem I often see in manuscripts is hopping from one character’s head to another’s without offering cues that the POV has changed. This can be difficult for a reader to follow, interrupting the reading experience as the reader tries to figure out what’s happening in a scene. It can be particularly jarring when accompanied by banter with little or no dialogue attribution.
As writers, we want to keep readers engaged, never introducing something that might yank them out of the world of the story. We’re aware of the scaffolding supporting a story, but we keep that carefully hidden. The last thing we want is a reader peeking behind the curtains, seeing how we work our magic, right?
One way to combat head-hopping is to use a limited POV (either third person or first person). In either limited POV, the writer stays in one character’s head, conveying information about what that character thinks, feels, and perceives. It is still possible to change POV to another character, but the writer clues in the reader by introducing a new scene or chapter. Having this cue creates a seamless transition from one character’s POV to another’s.
Diluted Focus: Another problem with using an omniscient point of view is a wide lens can dilute the focus on characters, rendering their emotional reactions less potent. If you tell the story using a limited POV, from within a character, the reader vicariously experiences what the character experiences. Characters may be more relatable and emotionally rich because there is a more intimate connection than if a story is told outside a character. That emotional connection is important in keeping readers engaged. That’s not to say you can’t create emotional impact using the omniscient POV, but the focus is not as sharp as it is with a limited POV.
Suspense: To be fair, there’s a reason why we say third person limited point of view is limited. The reader experiences only what the character experiences. They make inferences about events and other characters based solely on what the viewpoint character sees, hears, or says. For a suspense novel, that’s not a bad thing. Having a narrow focus can create a sense of unease since there are things the character doesn’t know. The reader solves the mystery at the same time the character does. Using a limited POV can create opportunities to misdirect a reader, adding plot twists. This sleight of hand can add to the magic of a story.
Do you have any thoughts on point of view? Which type do you prefer to use in your writing?
About the Author:
Melissa Eskue Ousley is an award-winning author of young adult fiction. Her first book, Sign of the Throne, won a 2014 Eric Hoffer Book Award and a 2014 Readers' Favorite International Book Award. Her third book, The Sower Comes, won a 2016 Eric Hoffer Book Award. Her newest book, Sunset Empire, is included in the young adult box set, Secrets and Shadows. She has edited fiction for Barking Rain Press and contributes monthly articles on writing, editing, and book marketing to BookDaily.com. She is a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association.
Connect with her at MelissaEskueOusley.com and on Twitter.
Thank you all for visiting with us. It’s always a pleasure to meet readers and authors. Until next month, every one please stay safe. Smile. Be happy. Show compassion. Be nice to others. Put a little love into your heart. Please speak up for those without a voice, whether it be a dog, cat, elephant or monkey. One person, one voice can make a difference. Read a book and pass it on. Leave a review. Reviews are important for authors. Believe me. I know. Thank you!
Regards,
S. J. Francis, Writing is my passion, but animals are my world. 
Advocate for the underdog, and cat, and supporting writers, et al.
         
In Shattered Lies: "It's All About Family." Available now from for sale at all on-line retailers and independent booksellers.

Shattered Lies is a runner-up in the 2016 Shelf Unbound Indie Best Book Award Competition.

Shattered Lies is a 2016 Reader's Favorite Honorable Mention in the Fiction - Women’s category.  

Shattered Lies was a Finalist in the 10th Annual National Indie Excellence Awards.


Shattered Lies was chosen as General Fiction Official Selection in the 2015 New Apple Book Awards.

The first, original book cover design for Shattered Lies was a semi-finalist in the 2015 Authors dB Best Cover Contest.

The 2nd new book cover design for Shattered Lies was a Finalist in the 2016 Authors dB Best Cover Contest.  

My Black Opal Books Author Page:
http://www.blackopalbooks.com/author-bios/bio-sj-francis
                                           Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/sjfrancis419
                 Face Book: https://www.facebook.com/pages/SJ-Francis/480058115420325
       My Writing Blog: http://www.sjfranciswriter.blogspot.com
A Book Review 4 U: http://abookreview4u.blogspot.com
      A Consumer's View: http://aconsumersview.blogspot.com
                  One for the Animals: http://onefortheanimals.blogspot.com
                                               Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/sjfrancis419/
 Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/u/0/104831238907682620486/about
                           Good Reads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/33550975-s-j
And now for some legal stuff: Copyright 2018 by S.J. Francis. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the author, S. J. Francis and the guest author and are meant to entertain, inform and enlighten, and intend to offend no one.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

The Great Escape


by Gary Fearon, Creative Director, Southern Writers Magazine

Tuesday, March 7, 2017



It's every writer's dream: Escaping to a private sanctuary where there are no distractions, perfect conditions, and all the time in the world to write the Great American Novel.  I'm often reminded of a classic Dick Van Dyke episode in which he attempted just that, retreating to a cabin in the woods with his typewriter, only to end up doing everything but write.

Most of us can identify with his failure to communicate.  Even if we create the most ideal of circumstances, it's not a guarantee that inspiration will magically follow. But take heart, because there are many ways to connect with your muse so that wherever you sit down to write you won't be at a loss for words.

RETREATS
Each year there are numerous retreats in idyllic locations designed specifically for writers. Looking at some that will be available this fall, for example, a farmhouse in Tuscany or a hamlet in Denmark could be just the getaway that gets your literary juices flowing. With a price tag of a couple of thousand dollars, however, these retreats are clearly not in everyone's budget.  But there's nothing to keep you from creating your own retreat in a favorite setting closer to home.  Maybe a three-day weekend at a B&B would be just the right change of venue.

For a longer escape, you might consider the recent travel trend known as a silent retreat.  Who wouldn't be able to write in a Waldenesque locale offering nothing but quietude?  Well, besides Dick Van Dyke.

CONFERENCES
There's one coming to a city near you soon, guaranteed.  Whether it's a day-long intensive or a multi-day event, leaving the world behind to focus on the voices of experience is a push toward productivity. Meeting other authors is a confidence-building bonus. Many conferences even include a writers bookstore with discounts for attendees. By the end of the conference you'll be dying to get back to your keyboard to write.

WRITERS GROUPS
Whether they meet once a month or more often, writers groups are an excellent way to stay committed to your craft as well as accountable.  By design, no two groups are the same.  Some focus on instruction and exercises, others resemble a support group or social club. Each has its own personality, which is a good thing, since you can try them all and find the one that makes you the most motivated to write.

STAYING IN TOUCH WITH OTHER WRITERS
The business side of publishing may be highly competitive, but it's always encouraging to see how non-competitive writers are with each other. We celebrate everyone's success and are inspired by each new book release instead of envious. Welcoming each other like family, we readily share tricks of the trade. So it's easy to make friends in the writing community.  Whether we foster those relationships through email, social media, or face to face, there are few things more stimulating than an inspired back-and-forth with another creative mind.

Some of my most invigorating conversations have been over lunch with writer companions.  This past Thursday, four of us enjoyed a spirited repast at McAlister's, and I came away with three really good new story ideas.  I'm pretty sure it wasn't just the Kale Parmesan soup that triggered them.

HANGING OUT IN AN INSPIRING PLACE
Where do you think best? What setting clears your head and opens your imagination? For some, it will be outdoors in a park. Others relax at a coffee shop.  The library is a favorite hangout of writers, surrounded by all the literary masters. A museum or art gallery offers a similar sense of communion with creative genius. Whether you plant yourself there with a laptop or stroll the halls contemplating something you'll write later, a brush with greatness never fails to inspire.

WANDERLUST
Performing a mindless task inherently causes your mind to wander, lusting for something more interesting to think about.  You can use the thankless time spent mowing the lawn or doing the laundry to ponder a scene or a plot, unimpaired by the dull duty in front of you. Sort through story ideas while you're sorting socks and you could have the first paragraph of your next writing session ready to roll.

THE GREAT ESCAPE
When all is said and done, getting our words written is not a matter of escaping to a place of perfection. The most prolific authors say that where you write is not as important as getting in that chair and simply writing, period. Books get written through sheer will and the tenacity to see it through. So the real escape is sometimes from our own procrastination.

For your entertainment, here's a YouTube link to the classic cabin scene from that Dick Van Dyke episode mentioned earlier. May it serve as a reminder to avoid distractions wherever you choose to write, or if you can't, at least have fun.

By the way, you'll be glad to know that in the very last episode of the series, he finally did finish his book, just as you will.


Thank you all for visiting with us. It’s always a pleasure to meet readers and authors. Until next month, every one please stay safe. Smile. Be happy. Show compassion. Be nice to others. Put a little love into your heart. Please speak up for those without a voice, whether it be a dog, cat, elephant or monkey. One person, one voice can make a difference. Read a book and pass it on. Leave a review. Reviews are important for authors. Believe me. I know. Thank you!

Regards,
S. J. Francis, Writing is my passion, but animals are my world. 
Advocate for the underdog, and cat, and supporting writers, et al.


In Shattered Lies: "It's All About Family." Available now from Black Opal Books and for sale at all on-line retailers and independent booksellers.


                     Shattered Lies is a Finalist in the 2016 Writing Shelf Book Awards.

                     Shattered Lies is a winner in the Fall 2016 NABE Pinnacle Book Achievement Book Awards for Women's Fiction. 


                     Shattered Lies is a runner-up in the 2016 Shelf Unbound Indie Best Book Award Competition.

                     Shattered Lies is a 2016 Reader's Favorite Honorable Mention in the Fiction - Women’s category.  


                     Shattered Lies was a Finalist in the 10th Annual National Indie Excellence Awards.


                     Shattered Lies was chosen as General Fiction Official Selection in the 2015 New Apple Book Awards.


                     The 2nd, new book cover design for Shattered Lies was a Finalist in the 2016 Authors dB Best Cover Contest. 


                     The first, original book cover design for Shattered Lies was a semi-finalist in the 2015 Authors dB Best Cover Contest. 

My Black Opal Books Author Page:
                                            Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/sjfrancis419
                 Face Book: https://www.facebook.com/pages/SJ-Francis/480058115420325
                                              
       A Book Review 4 U: http://abookreview4u.blogspot.com
      A Consumer's View: http://aconsumersview.blogspot.com
                  One for the Animals: http://onefortheanimals.blogspot.com

                                               Pinterest:http://www.pinterest.com/sjfrancis419


             Good Reads:https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/33550975-s-j

And now for some legal stuff: Copyright 2017 by S.J. Francis. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the author, S. J. Francis and the guest author and are meant to entertain, inform and enlighten, and intend to offend no one.