Tag Archives: Writing Toolbox

Toolbox 14: Query Revamping

This post was written for the Author Toolbox Blog Hop where we share our new discoveries on the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, and blogging tips. Posted every third Wednesday of the month. For rules and sign-up click here.

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Last post I shared that I submitted to ten agents since then I’ve received eight rejections. All form letters confirmed in QueryTracker.

A quick visit to  Query Shark, some heavy reading and I went into revamp mode.

I reworked my query, synopsis, and sample chapters.  I didn’t have to redo all of it. Form letters usually mean the reader didn’t get past the query letter, but once I started fixing things…

What i focused on when revamping

What’s the hook? Many of the example letters started off with a general book description. I didn’t make this mistake. I’m pretty sure I was too vague. She strongly suggests looking for the crux of the character’s dilemma, a rhetorical question, or grabbing the reader with a tagline.

Why does anyone care? Excellent question—hence the rewrite. Several actually. It took work to pin down why anyone would care and want to read my book.

Maintaining an even ten

Ten queries are out and its been quiet. Of the seven rejections, one came the next day. So now I’m wondering if I hit a busy patch or maybe they haven’t gotten to me yet. OR, fingers crossed, my query letter survived the agent’s initial read through and is in a holding pattern.

Anyhoo.

I’ve read this process can take years and it has been suggested I get working on my next project just in case I run out of agents on my list to keep me moving forward.

What do you do to keep a positive outlook when submitting?

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Toolbox 13: Quotes to Inspire

This post was written for the Author Toolbox Blog Hop where we share our new discoveries on the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, and blogging tips. Posted every third Wednesday of the month. For rules and sign-up click here.

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Right now I should be writing this for the IWSG but alas that isn’t for weeks and I need a post now. I threw away my original post and thought, instead of going on and on about my dry research, I’d dive in to what inspires me most—other writers.

As I read, I remember they started as we did: knowing nothing, learning the craft and taking a chance.

“If I waited for perfection… I would never write a word.”
—Margaret Atwood

“Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good.”
William Faulkner

“I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I’m afraid of. ”
— Joss Whedon

“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.”
–Anne Frank

“I really think that if there’s any one enemy to human creativity, especially creative writing, it’s self-consciousness.”
—Andre Dubus III

And one to inspire Easter eggs hunts

“If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and overagain, there is no use in reading it at all.”
—Oscar Wilde

As you may have guessed, I’m starting something new. I’m taking chances and trying my hand at a magical realism mystery. What was I thinking, is what I’m thinking right now. Please add your favorite, if you have one, in the comments.

Toobox 12: Calibre, “Send to Kindle”, and Lulu

This post was written for the Author Toolbox Blog Hop where we share our new discoveries on the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, and blogging tips. Posted every third Wednesday of the month. For rules and sign-up click here.

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Calibre

Many people like to read their work on an ereader. Calibre is one way to do that. Here are the download links if you want them:

Windows | MacOS | Linux

I started using Calibre because I could not catch all my errors on a computer screen. My mind, like many others, self corrects. I was stuck printing. Fine, but expensive when still in revision mode. As my stories got longer the more I looked for an alternative.

Calibre converts a MS Word doc into a mobi (that’s my choice but there are more). I see both my Calibre library and the books/documents on my Kindle. I’ve also added my favorite recipes. One button and the document is transferred to my phone. Easy peasy.

Amazon Send to Kindle

Another  way to get a document on a Kindle is “Send to Kindle”. Here are the links to download this app: PC, Android, & Mac.

There is some setting up required.

  • Download and install app
  • Sign in (same info for registering your app/reader)
  • On any closed MS Word Document right click and from the drop down menu choose: send to kindle.
    • First time asks for accept terms of service
  • It lists the title and author of the work, how it will be sent (wifi or Whispernet) and which device (if you have more than one with the Kindle app)
  • Wait for a bit and it will show up with the next sync.

Once it is set up it is very straight forward to use.

Lulu

And for the person who still prefers a hard copy…

If you still like paper copies try Lulu.com. Their most basic package is cheaper (according to one of my writing buddies) than printing it out at home.

Note: Select 8.5 x11 and One copy.

For my final read through before submitting, I like make changes and just leave remarks to consider later. If I don’t do it this way, I land up reverting back to revision mode—not the goal.

Just thought you’d enjoy some alternative methods to read over your latest project.

I keep thinking one day I’ll gather my work together and create a volume of works using Lulu.

Do you do something similar? Feel free to share  you methods. I love to learn something new. 🙂

Toolbox 11: 5 Things to Include When Building Characters

This post was written for the Author Toolbox Blog Hop where we share our new discoveries on the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, and blogging tips. Posted every third Wednesday of the month. For rules and sign-up click here.

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Someone made a comment about my method of description. It got me thinking about what I do and why I do it.

It starts with tagging

Many of you know I outline and when I’m getting the ideas down, none of my characters have names. Just as in a logline, my characters are: 16 yo misfit, honest cop, alien cop, vic, ex-girlfriend, obvious enemy, best friend. I use place holders for each character I need.

I outline the now and the history, giving most characters a common background. I’ve discussed before how a shared history can bump up the drama and motivations between all the characters. It may seem like work but once the history is in place, the rest takes care of itself.

appearance is about climate, lifestyle and how they thrive

A character’s appearance can be chosen by weather, time for hygiene, what they eat/drink. I have a cop in my latest WIP and he works hard—sometimes too hard—so he’s not clean shaven, his shirt has stains of sweat, fast food and coffee. It doesn’t bother him because he’s too focused on what he needs to do next. He lives in the Pacific Northwest and because it rains a lot, he wears a fedora and a trench coat. For the record, he’d never make it as Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe.

Tags must be unique to each character

The trick is give each character individual traits. All of them can have brown eyes but one. All of them can be dark haired but one. All medium build but one.

For example, my cop is the only character with thinning mousy hair, blue eyes, trench coat, and fedora. He may share other features with the rest but I don’t focus on them.

How they say it

My cop uses a brutally honest manner without an internal editor. He thinks he’s a people person as he storms around invading pretty much everyone’s personal space.

Early in the story he’s given a secret that he has some major trouble keeping. If it wasn’t for his partner, he’d have blabbed right away.

not actions but reactions

I tag his emotions (reactions) with specific actions. He pokes a finger in faces when he’s angry, expels breath like steam when he’s trying to maintain control and blinks surprise when others don’t see him as the person he thinks he is.

Who wouldn’t love a forthright, honest man, who would do anything to protect the innocent.

When he puts it that way he sounds great… but is he? Most see a loud mouth cop, who thrives on conflict.

(freebie) Characters bloom a little more with each revision

Every time I go through my WIP everyone becomes more unique and assertive. Feedback–thanks everyone–has helped make each character their own person.

What about you? Any tricks to characterization you’d like to share?

Update: still nothing from Nelson PD. I plan to phone and see what I can glean from the assistant that passed on my request. Feeling all shy again. *sigh*

Toolbox 10: To Hook is to Engage

This post was written for the Author Toolbox Blog Hop where we share our new discoveries on the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, and blogging tips. Posted every third Wednesday of the month. For rules and sign-up click here.

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As writers, we’ve all read about hooking our readers. It starts by grabbing their attention with cover art, and book blurbs. Then piquing their interest with the first sentence and sealing the deal with each following chapter.

Hooking readers is not a magic trick

It’s industry lingo for connecting with other people.

We read about hinting at what’s to come. Or weaving a sampler of our abilities into our first chapter, offering a taste of our style and voice. It’s suggested that we create characters that are likable or at least relatable. Drop readers into the action and not into mid conversation. Forget about description if it’s more than a paragraph. No info dumps. No backstories. No lengthy explanations.

All these rules we stress over make it clear: there’s no sure recipe.

Consider this

People naturally connect through sharing. They gather over meals, call, or texted. Verbal or written words spouting about the latest happening. What’s exciting?

Finding love at any age is thrilling. Someone driving another crazy, even in a good way, is worth seeking a sounding board. What about dreams, regrets, and everything in between? Most of us don’t try to keep it quiet.

Unless it’s a secret, all of us need to share. Besides a few good manners, we have no rules on reaching out. One advantage remains however, when face to face, we can see if we’ve engaged our listener.

engagement

A spark in our chests burns bright with anticipation. Our eyes shine and our breath catches in our throat. This feeling… this rush hits us when we have something exciting to share.

Engagement happens everywhere. It’s being done right now over a backyard fence, or at the grocery store among the breakfast cereal. Gossip spreads for a reason. Curiosity draws people together in masses.

And writers? What do they have?

a story to tell

Some of us write details that spin a story into a comedy of errors. Others express a volcanic venting, or heart pounding encounters. All stories, personal or otherwise, come from the same place. We forget sometimes because our stories take a while to get right. We want to perfect them. And as we work, our enthusiasm may slip.

They don’t seem new and fresh because we’ve reread them twenty-thirty times. We’re human and humans get tired.

But never forget

If the public is able to entertain over a coffee cup, we have no excuse. Before you release your work, make sure the reason you began the project is still thriving within its pages and each carefully chosen word shines as bright as your eyes.

When polishing your early chapters, what do you focus on? I’m dying to hear.

More on the subject:

A quick note: I’ve reached out to the Nelson Police Department and they promised to bet back to me. The communication has begun. Yay, me. “\o/”