I’m back………

October 7, 2010

I haven’t posted anything on this blog site for quite some time. So many things were happening in my life and I needed to take some time to re-group and get my act together again.

I finally got a full time job in July, only to be laid-off again in August. That really sent me into a downward spiral for awhile. I finally sat down and had a good heart-to-heart talk with the universe and realized that this was a way of the literary Gods giving me more time to pursue my writing talents and loves. I can’t squander this gift, so I immediately began working on getting published on more than just a blog site.

I’m taking a beginners freelance class at a local community college here in Raleigh. It’s a six week course and we just completed week four. I have learned so much from this class, that I am feeling really encouraged now to pitch some ideas to local and national magazines and get on with my life as a full-time writer.

If any of you are struggling with your creative muse and want a fresh outlook, I’d thoroughly suggest taking a course somewhere. It can give you a much needed energy infusion and bring back the enthusiasm you may have lost along the way to getting your work published.

I’ll be in letting you know how my journey goes. I hope you tune in and following me along the way.


Whadda ya know?

June 9, 2010

One of the most quoted pieces of advice for writers is, “write what you know.”  I hear it over and over.  I see articles written about it.  I understand that the statement is true, but still I keep wondering…what DO I know?

Whenever I’m not sure about something I make lists.  Lists are my friends and they are my way of keeping my part of the world organized and moving forward.  So I sat down determined to make a list about what I know.  A problem arose almost immediately.  Should I list only those things I could consider myself an “expert” in or was it okay to write down stuff I’ve only dabbled in?

I decided to start with anything in which I felt proficient.  This turned out to be a very, very short list.  So I started adding things that I knew enough about to carry my own in a discussion on the subject and then because that list was also very short, I added things I’d just barely tried or heard about.  Could these be considered things I “know”?  How far can I stretch that word “know”?

Feeling somewhat untalented, uneducated and under-lived, I added a word to my “know” list…“research.”  What can I research and get to know?  I felt empowered instantly!  If you don’t know what you’re talking about, people will recognize that.  But if you do your research…you may be able to fool at least some of the readers into thinking you know what you’re talking about.

Start a “know list” .  Your list may be much longer than mine and research won’t have to be added for what you can write about.  Me…I’m headed to the library…reference section.

Taking a break……

June 8, 2010

I apologize.  I’ve been gone far too long from my “writers” blog.  I’ve been feeling rather low lately.  You know how emotional we creative types can be.  I’ve been working on my fiction pieces and just didn’t want to deal with  “reality” and non-fiction.

I’ve learned a lesson while I’ve been away though.  If you don’t continually hone your craft and work at it each and every day…your skills begin to deteriorate.  I was feeling much more confident in my non-fiction abilities a month ago, when I was posting to this blog every couple of days.  Now, I’m struggling to produce the words I want to convey.

A very dear friend of mine asked me about this blog the other day.  She wondered if I had abandoned it.  I guess I did for awhile.  I have another blog: http://debewinkler.blogspot.com, which is based on my personal experiences and is a lot easier and more fun to produce than this blog.  But this blog serves a purpose.  It supplies information for potential and current writers that they may not already be aware of.  This blog is geared more toward educating, rather than entertaining.  It also takes a great deal more research and work than…Can I Tell You Something.

I’m rededicating myself to the challenge of this blog.  Thank you dear readers for being patient with me, while I had my little pity party.  Keep reading.

He say, She say…We All Wanna Essay

May 14, 2010

Writing a personal essay can be a gut wrenching experience.  As Erica Manfred stated in her article entitled, Show Your Personal Side With an Essay, published in the April issue of The Writer, “writing personal essays means you must be willing to really look within and write down what you see.”  This takes a strong person, depending on the opinion or experience you are writing about.

You should always write what you know.  Erica suggests you “write about the very thing that is hardest to admit about yourself, that is the one that’s likely to get published.”

Ms. Manfred quotes, Susan Shapiro, who teaches essay writing in New York City, as stating that “editors are looking for essays that are deeply moving, not light and breezy.”

Well, all this information may mean I need to curtail any efforts I’m making in composing a personal essay.  I’m not good at opening a vein and letting it bleed and I like to write more on a humorous side…I can really relate more to light and breezy than deeply moving.

For those brave souls out there, who would like to give it a stab, the good news is, Erica states, “it is easier to break into markets with an essay than a news story.”  Also the dreaded query letter isn’t normally required when submitting an essay.  You send your finished essay to an editor and it’s either accepted or rejected.

It is a little more difficult these days to place an essay, but then isn’t everything getting harder?  You will need to have patience and perseverance to succeed.

Now go grab those straight razors and let the bleeding begin.  Good luck and happy writing. (oops no, maybe not happy, that would defeat the purpose)

In Search of the Perfect Query

May 8, 2010

I think the scariest part about writing isn’t devising a plot, creating interesting characters, producing believable dialogue or even staying focused till the story is completed…the scariest part is creating the perfect query letter in order to catch the attention of an agent.

While surfing the net  yesterday, in hopes of finding the magic solution to query writing, for my completed novel, Deadly Letters,  I came across Janet Reid’s blog:  http://jetreidliterary.blogspot.com.  Janet shares a great deal of information on writing the quintessential query.  I’m going to borrow part of one of her blogs and share her suggestions with you.

When sending queries via email, the subject line should read: Query for “title of your book” and the salutation should address the agent by his/her name…not Dear Sir/Madam/Agent or To Whom It May Concern.  (is anyone really this stupid?)

The first paragraph should name the main character and tell about the choices he/she must make or why things are going to change for him/her soon.

Word count and genre should always be included.  (Sidebar: PICK a GENRE…I’m not even an agent, but I hate it when someone says,”well it’s a mystery with a lot of suspense, but could also be considered a thriller.”  Make a choice!)

Janet also likes to receive the first 3-5 pages of Chapter 1.  She doesn’t want the Prologue…but a few pages of the actual first chapter.  This a something Janet requests, but not all agents want any portion of your manuscript sent with your query.  Be sure you check their website, under submission guidelines, so you know exactly what their specific desires are.  DO NOT SEND ATTACHMENTS!  This is the age of virus’ and no one wants to open attachments, especially from someone they don’t know.

Ms. Reid didn’t mention bio information in this particular query outline, but I’m sure if you have credentials, she’d love to hear about them.  I think this part should be kept to “just the facts ma’am”, not too egotistical.  Be sure you include your contact information. Full name, address, phone number, email address.

This system of producing a query seems very simple and cut and dry.  So why do I still have this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when I start to write it?  Oh well, time to pop a Pepto, pull on my big girl panties and get on with it!

Change it is a comin’

May 5, 2010

Yesterday I posted a quote on Facebook, “At the end of the day it’s not what anyone else thinks of you, but what you think of yourself that’s important.”  I truly believe this statement, except perhaps when it comes to my writing.  For my writing I would re-write that statement to read, “At the end of the day it’s not what you think of your writing, but what the potential agents, editors and publishers think.”

Too often writers become so invested in what they’ve produced that they refuse to make any changes to their stories, even when the suggested changes could mean the difference between being published and not being published.   I am definitely not one of those writers.  I want to be published and I am willing to listen to any tips that might possibly make my writing better.

Suggestions for improving your writing are all around.  Other fellow writers, avid readers, friends and family can all be sources for improving your writing style.  You just have to figure out how to sift through the critiques and pick and choose where you might want to make changes.

Remember at the end of the day, month, year…however long it takes for you to produce your literary masterpiece, it is the opinion of those who can assist you in getting your work into the hands of the public that really matters.  So swallow your pride and listen up!

And the “untruth” shall set you free

May 3, 2010

My friend Mac, from The Triangle Area Freelancers, posted a link, on our google group, to a blog written by Dean Wesley Smith entitled: When Does Researching Your Fiction Do More Harm Than Good? Mr. Smith has authored over 90 novels, so he must know a little bit about the subject of fiction.

My first novel, Deadly Letters, is a suspense romance and I’ve been seriously hung up on a lot of the nit-picky little details about the “truth” in some of the scenarios I’ve created.  Would a Sheriff travel to another town to check out a murder he thinks might be linked to one he’s trying to solve?  Would a body lying on the floor of a house for a bit over a week, still be recognizable?  Would a trash can be on a street curb and would throwing such trash can at a plate glass window actually break it?  Blah, blah, blah.  Details, details.

Mr. Smith referred his readers to a word I’d never heard before: Verisimilitude: An appearance of being true. He goes on to say that “in fiction we make stuff up.  But what we make up needs to have the appearance of being true.”

“Write for the majority of us who just like a good story told well”, Mr. Smith says.  “Make it up and move on. 99% of your readers won’t notice and those that do notice aren’t YOUR readers.”

Thank you Mr. Smith.  Thank you for setting me free to tell my tales my way and to spin a good yarn.  Although every single little detail may not be perfect, the characters in my stories don’t notice and neither should my loyal readers.