Tuesday, April 26, 2016

April Links! You Know You Want Them...

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I couldn't resist sharing a few wonderful links with y'all. I hope they are something that you can use or that inspires you. ;-)

Try Amy Sue Nathan's truth: "This week, while writing, I remembered that I actually do have to WRITE to figure out a story." in "The Writing Life #2"

Or do you want to hone your skills for writing a book blurb? BookBub has your cup of tea in "How to Improve Your Description Copy to Sell more Ebooks"

Need help with deep POV? Edie Melson offers up "Conquering Six Enemies of Deep POV"

David Corbett at Writer Unboxed takes us into a deeper understanding of Conflict in "Birth vs. Battle"

Cathy Lamb deciphers the Dreaded Inner Critic in "After Each Draft, the Writer's Voice Speaks Meanly"

And finally, Susan Defreitas offers up "The Ten Worst Pieces of Writing Advice You Will Ever Hear"

I hope you found a link that made you think or grin. I want your input on the "Link Worthiness" of these. Which one was the best?
Next Week: IWSG and "Jumping Off The Cliff." ;-)

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

April The Book Pusher's Mini Book Reviews: J. Jackson, K. Paterka, L. Shuler, C. Swanson

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THE OPPOSITE OF EVERYONE Joshilyn Jackson: Women's Fiction

Jackson's latest is an intricate blend of hidden tales and a lost girl's journey home. This is a story that's happening everywhere a child has to piece their life together from fragments. the whole promises hope, but the path is long and winding. Excellent Read

THE OTHER WIFE Kathleen Irene Paterka: Women's Fiction

A good story of two wives who find themselves in the same situation. Combined with a plot twist I didn't see coming and you have a Good Read.

 HIDDEN SHADOWS Linda Lucretia Shuler: Women's Fiction with elements of Magical Realism

This is an amazing tour of a woman's heart and mind. Cassie Brighton's journey of self-discovery will pull you in and capture your heart. Fabulous Read

THE BOOKSELLER Cynthia Swanson: Women's Fiction

 A beautiful story about choice and dreams. Swanson has created a wonderful character is Kitty/Katharyn. A Good Read

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Journey Back to Home

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"Think you’re escaping and run into yourself. Longest way round is the shortest way home.” — James Joyce, Ulysses

That's a fabulous quote! I feel like I did this a couple of weekends ago. I'm a pantser. For the last eight years, I've written anything and everything that surfaces from my back brain. (For more on how this works, check out this post--Back Brain Blender.) But (and this is a big BUT!) As I fulfill the submission request that touches on Five (5!) stories, I find myself having to organize the outflow. So I tackled the pile of paper that's accumulated over the years (what's not already in Scrivener) and sorted it into piles by story. This is the result. Now, I have to edit, type, and outline this mess to submit "an extensive outline of the first three books ("Laura Grace trilogy") and summary paragraphs of the next two." Oh, my aching head. My long journey has circled back to start and I'm wading in nose deep.

Pantser vs. Plotter (Outliner):
Alright, I know you non-writers are wondering what I mean by "pantser." It's not too hard of a concept once you know it's a term we writers use for those of us who write by the seat of our pants. We don't outline the entire story from the first. We don't worry that it won't come together in the end. The truth is there's no one way to write a book. I'm of the loosey-goosey persuasion. That doesn't mean that I don't have to stop and outline the story later. I do. But, it does mean that I don't make myself write in an uncomfortable fashion. Been there, done that back in my high school and college days. (Psst! I'll tell you a secret. I usually wrote that pesky required outline after the fact. ;-)

And now, there's a new term floating about: Plantser
A plantser is an author who combines planning and pantsing methods to prepare for their novel. Usually, people who claim to be this type of author enjoy how pantsing allows their creativity to strive more, however they plan some of it out so that it doesn't wander off into plotless ramblings that require intense revisions and rewrites when the draft is done. ~WikiWrimo

For what it's worth, I'm probably more of a plantser than pure pantser. I do have an idea of the entire story early on. Because of that, I find I have a goal line to cross and that allows me the freedom to write whatever and whenever along that path that I'm inspired to. I think worrying about what writing style you use is a bit of procrastination. Just do it! Whatever you method, don't stop. Write the story! Go, Writers, Go!

Great link about the hard truths of writing: Hard Truths Every Writer Should Know--Dana Elmendorf  Speaking of journeys:
"Sure some authors make it look easy, but don’t be fooled.  They walked that same long road just like the rest of us."

Next Week: The Book Pusher's Mini Book Reviews.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

IWSG: Golden Quotes

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Insecure Writers Support Group
 Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Our co-sponsors this month are:
Megan Morgan
Christopher D. Votey
Viola Fury
Christine Rains
Madeline Mora-Summonte

L.G. Keltner
Patricia Lynne

Rachna Chhabria 

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter hashtag is #IWSG

I know we all need support and an uplift when the writing life gets tough. And it will. So settle back and read these quotes that lift my creative spirit. And make me more determined to tell my stories. I hope they help you, too.

For when the writing is hard, try this: Deadline Failure Makes G.R.R. Martin a Hero... 
If you write historical fiction, you might like Seven Rules for Writing Historical Fiction. 


Or how about this one?


What inspires your writing?
Next Week: The Journey Home ;-) 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Women's Fiction: Again

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This image of a red rose holds a dear place in my first story. May it honor all the good--biological, foster, and adoptive--mothers out there who dry tears, clean up messes, and hug the pain away. Thank you!


Here are a few definitions of the genre I write.
. . . layered stories that are driven by the main character’s emotional journey.
 Women's Fiction Writers Association

I'm just happy that I can parse agents by the term.
There are no other tropes than this. Some are light--Chick Lit--some have romantic elements, others, like mine, have deep social issues running through the stories. WF is the fodder for book club selections. (Truth in advertising Insert thewinkingemoticon.: I'm a program coordinator with the group.) It's an up and coming association that agents are joining to find WF writers.
The beauty of WF for me, is that it is just fiction, but fiction that recognizes the inner life of the characters while not eschewing plot. I've ever found no more perfect connection of the poles of character-driven stories and plot-driven stories than WF.

Here are some other definitions.

At the top of “commercial” pyramid is Women’s fiction—big bestselling books like The Help, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, etc. Women’s fiction doesn’t mean that male writers are excluded from the category. But rather that the books written by men must have themes, characters, or plotlines that women enjoy.
Literary and Commercial

“A contemporary romance’s plot revolves around the love/romantic element, whereas women’s fiction tends to revolve around women’s issues and the growth and empowerment of the female protagonist. Women’s fiction can have romance, but it’s not the driving force of the plot.”
—Kathleen Ortiz (New Leaf Literary and Media)

Women’s fiction novels are not simply stories with female characters, but stories that tell us the female journey. Women’s fiction is a way for women to learn and grow, and to relate to others what it is to be a woman.”
—Scott Eagan (Greyhaus Literary Agency)

Another link to check out:
from "Agents Explain Book Genres" 

That's why I write Women's Fiction. My characters take an emotional journey on the path to reinventing themselves. If I can see what's at stake in the heart of the main character, I know I'm reading Women's Fiction. There are an infinite number of paths to travel and an infinite number of travelers on them. No two characters will take the exactly same path, even if they start at the same place. Their past and their present is made up of all that influences their lives. If you're reading Women's Fiction, buckle up for a bumpy but fulfilling ride. ;-)

And a few links you might like.
Genre Map
Wikipedia on Genre (note the lack of WF)
Charlotte Rains Dixon's take on genre (psst! She writes good books!)

 Next Week: IWSG: Golden Quotes

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Pitching Report

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 I know you've wondered how it went, so I'll answer all your questions. If I can. ;-) Remember, I've only pitched two agents. Since both of them asked for submissions, I thought I'd share what I did.

My Pitch:
When Laura Grace Bradshaw meets abused twelve-year-old Samantha Smith, her unfulfilled mothering instincts spring into action. Recently widowed, LG's own grief and her complicated ties to her small Georgia town's founding family limit how much she can help. But compelled to heal Samantha's wounds, she must find the strength to throw off the restraints of her MIL and her own griefs and move toward adopting Samantha, a child who unwittingly holds the keys to long-buried family secrets.  

I recommend that you practice this out loud a ton of times. Find someone to practice with. After John, my writing buddies, Monica J. (via Skype), Tara W. and Jane D., were my ready ears. Tara, Jane, and I shared this journey on February 20 and listened to each other over and over...and over. That's what it takes. Both agents mentioned that my pitch was polished and great. 

Next, be ready to explain your genre and any niches that you include.
My Genre
Mother's Day is upmarket, contemporary WF with a Christian MC, but the story doesn't focus on Christianity.  
Because I could clearly explain my story's connection with Christianity, both agents mentioned that it had potential to fit the crossover market. That took a huge worry off my back.

Next, be ready to talk "off the cuff" about your plot. Because I could mention a few of my plot twists, I was able to interest them in the story beyond the pitch. 

Then, be ready to explain where you are in the completion process. I was thrilled to be able to share that my MS was complete and that I was doing a polishing edit. Also, I'd used the MS for a Barbara Rogan Next Level Revision Fiction Workshop. (I can't thank Barbara enough for help with increasing the conflict in my story.) This was important to  show that I take critique well.

After that, you need to be able to answer if there is series potential. If it's a standalone story, that's fine. Just be ready for the question. I could tell them that there were two follow up stories--a 60% complete part 2 and a part 3 story that was 30% complete. After that, I mentioned that I had two standalone stories set in the same town. 

Also, you should be ready to answer the dreaded "comparables" question. I did have two titles to use. One well known, the other very new. Seemed to work. ;-)

The Results
 The first agent loved my whole Cherry Hill package. She stressed that I take my time preparing the submission she requested. She wants my first 3 chapters, an extensive outline of all three in the trilogy, and a summary paragraph of the 2 standalone stories. 

The second one wanted the first 50 pages of the first story and an extensive synopsis. 

So, all in all, I'm pumped by my first foray into pitching and querying. And I have a huge to-do list. But that's okay. I would hate to have nothing to show for all that hard work! ;-) 

Next Week: Women's Fiction...Again ;-)

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Where Do You Read?

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Knee Prop in Jamaica

Where do you read? Just asking. If I have a moment, I'm reading. What about you? Do you reserve reading for special times?
Seriously. What does it take to make you stop your endless round of to-do's and read? You might know my answer already. But if you don't, here's the straight truth. 

I read anywhere, everywhere, and all the time.

Otherwise, there would be no monthly mini book reviews, no identity as The Book Pusher, and no writing, either.

Reading Circle on the deck
A writer's first job is to read. Read widely, read critically, read in genre, read all genres. Without reading, you never discover how to tell Story on the printed page. I don't remember not knowing how to read at least the sight words my mother hand wrote on index cards and drilled me with as a four-year-old. Some would say that was torture, but I thought it was a game. A glorious game that unlocked my ability to read independently. My parents read constantly. My older sister did to. I wanted admission into the club. Little did I know that I'd catch the infectious desire to create my own stories. At eight, I began with simple poems, but then graduated to stories. In the fifth grade, I wrote, staged, and acted in a one-act play in my English class. 

Poodle Prop
Now, I've learned the craft of creating stories in a variety of form. I'm addicted to words, addicted to the creation of story in order to bring others into the worlds I see inside of my mind.

 So if you ever wonder what I'm doing--don't. I'm reading. And relishing every second of the time! 

Next Week: Pitching Report

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Book Pusher: March Mini Book Reviews: V. Diffenbaugh, J. Johnson, J. Moyes, L. Thomas

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THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS Vanessa Diffenbaugh:  Women's Fiction

An amazing journey of a foster child into love, loss, and growing up with all of life seemingly against her. Her one solace gives her voice--flowers and their meanings. This is an absolutely must read.

IN ANOTHER LIFE Julie Christine Johnson: Women's Fiction

An eighth-hundred-year-old murder mystery and three men locked in an eternal struggle of right vs. wrong, creates a fascinating story of past and present.

ME BEFORE YOU Jojo Moyes: Women's Fiction with romantic elements

I'll never forget Louisa Clark and her journey of discovery with Will Traynor. Riveting and awe-inspiring storytelling--Absolutely Must Read

AFTER YOU Jojo Moyes: Women's Fiction

[Spoiler Warning!] Sequel to Me Before You Louisa is two years out from the death of Will Traynor and she's stuck on hold until a series of events starting with a fall from the fifth floor finally shakes her into a new orbit. Fitting follow up to Me Before You.

SHARPE SHOOTER Lisa Thomas: Cozy Mystery

A witty sleuth makes a splash while investigation a family mystery. If you like cozy mysteries, this one is a good fit.

Next Week: Where Do You Read?