As if menopause isn’t bad enough to mess with a girl’s
psyche, the crazed rollercoaster of reviews has me flying high one minute, and
the next sucking my thumb in the fetal position. Whimpering. I know, I
know…what kind of egotistical shallow shell of a woman am I?
Apparently a very human one. Every author on earth, no
matter how hard-shelled, still feels the highs and lows while visiting
Reviewsville. What’s the secret to leveling out those feelings?
Don’t read reviews.
Several authors I know, even big name ones, don’t read their
reviews. Ever. I’m too curious to go that route, but I do see the value in not
knowing the good, the bad, and the ugly that others may be publicly
Glean one nugget of
Good or bad, every review has some ounce of wisdom that can
aid you in your writing. Take one, ONLY one, nugget from every review. If you
wallow in all the cutting remarks from a negative post you’ll get depressed. On
the flip side, if you suck in all the glowing admiration from a five-star,
you’ll get a big head.
Look at the big
Just like you must consider a Bible verse in light of the
context of the entire chapter, so should you consider a review from a
particular reviewer. It helps to read what the reviewer has written about other
books. So maybe you earned a sucky two-star review from that person, but when
you look at their other reviews, you find out all their other posts are
one-star. See what I mean? Context is everything.
Reviews for authors are like bronco riding for cowboys. It
can be exhilarating and/or skull crushing. The trick is to hold on tight and
remember you’re in this for the long haul.
Last week I filled you in on the pros of going to a conference. You can check that post out HERE. But it's not an absolute requirement that you must attend one. In fact, there are a few reasons you shouldn't go to a writing conference . . .
If cash is an issue, then don't go. And don't get all mopey and poor me and throw an uber pity party. Suck it up and move on. Maybe you'll have the moolah next year. If it comes down to a choice between attending a conference or paying your rent, the rent should win every time. Conferences are a luxury, not a mandatory requirement to be a successful author.
Going to a conference does not make you a "For Real" writer. Writing makes you a writer.
Just because you attend a con doesn't mean you're going to land a contract. The opposite might happen and you'll be told your writing sucks. Reasonable expectations would be that you intend to make new friends and learn more of the craft. Anything else is unreasonable. Do not go to a conference expecting to be the belle of the ball.
I know. It's hard to skip out on something just cuz all the cool kids are doing it. But if you're only going because your friends are, then don't bother. Not that hanging with your peeps isn't an essential activity, but if that's your only reason, then it's not worth it.
If you've got deadlines galore, or family events, or school's starting or whatever, put some margin into your life and just say no to the conference. Adding a conference onto your heap o' busy adds stress. If the needle on your crazy-o-meter is currently in the blow up zone, then don't go.
Don't get me wrong . . . conferences are great. I'm just saying don't freak out if you can't or aren't able to attend one.
It's that conference time of year. All the newbie writers, chomping at the bit, straining at the leash, starry-eyed and yada, yada. Yeah. I can spot a rookie in a writing conference auditorium seventeen rows away.
Then there are those who've been around the block a few times. Okay, too many times. Knuckles dragging on the carpet, saggy baggy eyes, a perpetual gaze of disillusion. These, too, are easy to find.
But whether you're a novice or an old pro, there are certain rules of etiquette that everyone must follow . . .
Close your yap now and then and listen -- really listen -- to others. Believe it or not, you shouldn't be a walking, talking billboard advertising your latest piece of literary brilliance. Even though you're at a conference about writing, life is more than writing. Look past yourself to connect with others.
This should go without saying, yet here I am, saying it. If you see a sniffly author wannabe who crashed and burned in the hallway, even if you're on your way to a high-powered editorial meeting, be the good Samaritan and lend a shoulder to cry on.
Elbowing a fellow writer out of the way while you tackle the agent of your choice is wrong on so many levels. Okay, so that's a little extreme, but seriously. . . look for opportunities to let others go first, get the biggest muffin from bread basket, or even hang back when it looks like the elevator won't fit in two more people.
It's easy to slip into the mindset of hey-I-paid-a-bajillion-dollars-for-this-conference-and-I-wanna-get-my-money's-worth, but that kind of thinking will turn you into the writer everyone wants to avoid. Keep these 3 B's in mind to make your writing conference a success for you and those around you.
Next week, along with a bajillion other writerly-type humanoids, I'll be jetting off to Nashville for the ACFW Conference. We'll all have one thing in common. Besides stalking the keynote speaker Ted Dekker, that is.
We'll all be pitching our little hearts out to agents and editors. And that means we all need to craft a fantastic hook, or log line, or 1-sentence pitch -- pick your poison, they all mean the same thing. How exactly does one do that?
The 5 W's of Writing a Fantastic Pitch Line
1. Who is the main character?
2. What is the conflict (usually the inciting incident)?
3. What are the stakes?
4. Where is the story set? Note: This one can be optional.
5. Why is the action taking place?
Once you've got those 5 questions answered, then it's time to flesh it out into a 25 word sentence. Sure, you can write more at first, but then whittle it down to only 25. Here's an example of the one I wrote today . . .
When a prim and proper governess returns
to England from abroad, she expects to comfort her dying father—not fall in
love with a smuggler.
Can you identify all the answers? Who = prim and proper governess What Conflict = must leave her position to travel back home What Stakes = falls in love with a smuggler, a big no-no Where = England Why = she's going to comfort her dying father
And yes, if you count it, that's exactly 25 words.
Writing a pitch line takes a LOT of thought and effort to condense your story down to the barest essence. You won't get it right the first time, or the second, or possibly the third or fourth. But here's a nugget of advice . . . it's better to put the thought into it now before you're face to face with an editor or agent, because then you'll really be tongue-tied.
Currently I'm freaking out because my next release is due to hit the ol' bookshelves in 3 weeks. Not that that's a bad thing, mind you. The problem lies in the fact that I haven't done a final read-through yet. But good news! I can quit biting my nails. Even if there are a few bugaboos, that could just make it a collectors item. If it works for J.K. Rowling, why not for me? Here's what I'm talking about . . .
The first print run of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's stone contained about 500 books with an error on page 53. Yeah, I'll give you a moment to go snatch up your copy and flip open to that page.
Now then, the mistake lists "1 wand" twice in an inventory of first-year wizarding supplies. Not that big of an error, but big enough for one of these boo-boo editions to hit the auction at Bonhams Fine books and Manuscripts Sale for a whopping $33,500.
Does your copy list it twice? If so, you stand to make some serious bank.
As for me, I'm not sweating it anymore. One typo could make all the difference.
The thing about writing is that sometimes you go long stretches with nary a contract in sight. You stumble around, hands outstretched like a blind man, groping for the merest hint of someone--anyone--who might want to purchase your pithy stories. Weeks, months, years pass and you got nothing but dreams.
Then blammo! The clouds break and streams of glorious sunshiney contracts fall from the sky and land on your head.
Seems like it's one or the other, and currently I'm soaking in the sun. Besides the Dickens-type Christmas series, I just signed another contract for a new novella, due out next summer. The book will be titled OF RAGS AND RICHES ROMANCE COLLECTION. Here's a general blurb:
The Gilded Age in America (1870-1900) was a time of opulence, growth, and great change for all aspects of American life. Modern conveniences and improvements paved the way for western expansion and leisure activities. The rich became richer, and the poor worked hard to make a better life for themselves. This collection features nine stories set between 1870 and 1900, exploring this exciting time in American History.
And here's a blurb for my story, A HOUSE OF SECRETS . . .
Ladies Aide Chairman, AMANDA CARSTON, resolves to clean up St. Paul’s ramshackle housing, determining to demolish the worst of the worst: a “haunted” house, but when she enlists the aide of her fiance, attorney JOSEPH BLAKE, they uncover secrets neither expects—which may mean the end of their relationship . . . or her life.
Since this one is due before the Christmas series, I'm immersing myself in the gilded age. Want to see some pictures of characters and settings? HERE's the Pinterest page. Have at it.
I hear voices. Loud. Incessant. And very real. Which basically gives me
two options: choke back massive amounts of Prozac or write fiction. I chose the
latter. Way cheaper. I've been writing since I discovered blank wall space and
Crayolas. I seek to glorify God in all that I write...except for that graffiti
phase I went through as a teenager. Oops. Did I say that out loud?