Saturday, February 23, 2013

Notes from my Savvy Author's chat - Part One

There's a saying: to have a friend you need to be a friend. Finding your tribe is thinking about writing not as an art or a craft or as a business (though it's all those things) but as a community of people sharing a love of writing.

Recently on Facebook a young college student declared that the quality of a piece of writing in getting published is unimportant, all that mattered was who you knew.This young man and I shared over 30 friends and since most of my friends are also writers, this pronouncement didn't go unchallenged for long.

Within an hour an editor chimed in to explain how she had gotten her sales by submitting to markets which fit the story she wanted to sell, and as a publisher she does get submissions from people she knows but turns down many if not more than she accepts because the story must first be excellent but also must fit the project she's putting together.She isn't going to damage her reputation by playing favorites.

While many anthologies are by invitation only, there are venues available to those who know about search engines or have gone to the Writer's Market online (or in their public library). And there's always word of mouth from your friends and newsletters from organizations.

Furthermore, while knowing people can be useful, it's not worth much until your writing is up to par. And this comes from being able to tap fellow writers to critique your work.

Notes from my Savvy Author's chat - Part Two

It's difficult when you are starting out to find those people who can give you the right guidance and insights into being a writer.There's this belief that you need to "know" someone in order to get published. Well, you do need to know people--other beginning writers who are at your level, in additional to Gurus, Teachers and Mentors (I think of them as guardian angels). Also, there are organizations set up to help the novice.

My group is made up of speculative fiction writers; your group might be romance writers. Depending on your focus there is a group to fit you, or you can build one yourself.

Going back to my Facebook associate, social media helped him be better informed about publishing. It's amazing how easy it is to get in touch with a famous author or editor, or even publisher. They are out there ready to mingle, so the temptation to ask them to read your work is always there. However, in general, professional writers are too busy to help out the beginning writer. For editors and publishers to see your work guidelines are set up on websites. Going to a workshop or conference also gets your work seen. Those are the proper ways to go about getting your work in front of pros.

In 2009, a famous screenwriter created quite a stir with an article about how he refuses to read screenplays from friends and acquaintances. No man is an island and this writer had been cornered by a relative's boyfriend to give feedback on a poorly done script treatment.I heard about this article through a big name author whose blog I followed, and it seemed that she and almost everyone she knew had suffered from being asked to read a budding writer's work.

The upshot of the article was that a big name writer won't ask you to fix a faucet or do taxes for free, so why does the beginning writer feel entitled to ask for writing help or feedback from pros gratis?

Why isn't it a good idea for friends and family to be your first readers?

When you've finished that first short story or novel, there's a surge of pride and accomplishment. "Hey, I'm an author!" However a steep the learning curve between first draft and publishable piece means a hundred little rules and by-laws of style that you wouldn't know if they bit you on the butt. If you are sincere about writing, there will be that first professional level crit that leaves the taste of ashes in your mouth.

How you handle criticism will directly affect how many people are willing to work with you. If your grammar is off, there may be someone who has strong grammar skills who will help you, but not if you throw a snit when you are told to fix various items in your writing.

The proper response to criticism is, "Thank you." You can add, "I really appreciate your doing this for me. This will help in doing re-writes." It doesn't matter if a small voice in you is screaming, "This guy's a jerk." Be gracious and profoundly grateful. Unless you are paying for editorial work, this person just gave you a gift of their opinion and time.

I came to writing after 20 years in theatre. In theatre, there's a lot of ego; however, there's little room for someone who can't take criticism. By the time I took my first writing class, I knew how to swallow panic and pain, smile and listen to criticism, and say thank you. I also could put together a grammatically correct sentence (but not much more). I was invited to a twice monthly writing workshop made up from students in that class. It was a huge help in my development as a writer. And people appreciated what I could bring to the table as a crit partner.

Notes from my Savvy Author's chat - Part Three

Wheat or chaff?

A second important aspect of finding your crit group is developing your mad skills as an editor. It's not just grammar: you should be able to do copy, line and content edits. Good editorial skills are priceless. It makes writers want to swap their work with you, especially if you are honest and kind. You don't want your crit partner to put his/her head in the oven over their misuse of commas.

I've been in many classes and workshops over the years, resulting in participation in about six different writers groups. There's a natural life to a group, sooner or later it dies or you outgrow it and move on. There's usually a bit of friction as people strive to improve and it's not unusual for life to intervene resulting in a drop off of writers. C'est la vie.

Various paths to your tribe:

1-People you meet at a class or workshop

2-Forums for organizations devoted to advancement of writers- Romance Writers of America, Broad Universe, Horror Writers Association, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and many others

3-On line crit groups - Online Writers Workshop, ,

4-Non-professional groups-Wattpad,,

5-Teachers, Gurus and Mentors through blogs, e-mails and twitter and other social media - Kristen Lamb (e-mail list), Steven Barnes, Tivi Jones, Rayne Hall (twitter) and Dean Wesley Smith (blog).

6-Meet up groups - Google to locate local writers in your area who share similar interests

7-Conventions - Sit in on panels, meet editors, publishers, big name authors and other writers.

8 - Libraries, indie bookstores, on-line book clubs


Writing Support/Workshops Website

Savvy Authors -

Gotham Writing Classes -

Wana Tribe -

Critique Websites -

Critters (free)

Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror -

Self-publishing/Fan Fiction (great place to start but posting there means it's been published)

Wattpad -

Fan Fiction -

Adult Fanfiction -

Teachers, Gurus and Mentors

Rayne Hall (not for novices)

Kristen Lamb -

Steven Barnes -

Tivi Jones -

Dean Wesley Smith


Romance Writers of America -

Broad Universe -

Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America -

Horror Writers Association -

On Editing:

Revising Fiction by David Maddon (one penny at Amazon for used copies--Wow)

Self Editing for Fiction Writers Renni Browne and Dave King

Book Clubs

Good Reads -

Coffee Time Romance -

Social Media

Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest

St.Nick's Favor Book Trailer

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day


My latest collection of previously published works includes:

I'll Love Ya Forever, But... -A zombie love story

Doing Time -A mobster finds himself melted by lurve

The Last Case of Todd Nathaniel -A writer finds salvation in one of her characters

As a bonus - The Vision - A young woman uses a love spell to discover her future husband is a monster...or is her?

I'll Love You Forever is currently available at Smashwords.

Please treat yourself to a copy (and reviewers copies are also available).

I'd love to hear from you!