Friday, January 28, 2011

Wearing Many Hats: Writing in Multiple Genres

Do you write in more than one genre? In today's publishing world I'm seeing more and more writers do this. I'm one of them. I write non-fiction for my freelance articles and I'm working on a non-fiction book to be released later this year. I'm also wrapping up my first Young Adult Fantasy and then I'll finish a Middle Grade Sci-Fi. So I write non-fiction, young adult and middle grade.

Many authors are finding it easy to transition between YA and MG. For example, Alyson Noel is the author of the New York Times bestselling series 'The Immortals'. She also writes a spin-off MG, 'The Riley Bloom' series staring the character from The Immortals series younger sister. Click here to learn more about Alyson Noel.

Author Sophie Jordan writes both romance and YA. She is the author of the popular YA series 'Firelight'. Click here to learn more about Sophie Jordan.

New York Times bestselling author Bob Mayer writes fiction and non-fiction with his helpful resources for writers. If you haven't read his 'Warrior Writer' book you must. Click here to learn more about Bob Mayer.

All of these authors (and there are MANY more) are very successful at wearing many hats.

Many writers like to delve into multiple genres. For me, the plus to this is being able to give my brain a break. I like to feel challenged and stimulated with my writing. By simultaneously working on non-fiction and fiction it is always easy for me to take a break from one and switch to the other. We've all been there. After countless hours of revising a fiction piece I welcome the opportunity to switch to something entirely different. And by doing this I am still honing my writing craft just switching hats and mindsets to do so.

Are you writing in multiple genres? Is it non-fiction and fiction? Young Adult and Middle Grade? Or another combination? Share in a comment what areas you are writing in and how tacking multiple genres makes your writing life easier or more of a challenge.

Happy Friday and Happy Writing!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

4 Steps to Pitching with Strategic Purpose

Happy Wednesday! This past weekend I registered for the Romance Writers of America 2011 (no I don't write romance but I do have a YA that I've been told is hot!) conference in New York City. I'm very excited because after and working in NYC I'm looking forward to going back and I'm going to get to mix, mingle and learn from amazing writing talents. I will also have three books to pitch. At that point my non-fiction will be out so I will be promoting it and I will be pitching my YA fantasy and MG dystopian to agents (that is if I'm not already represented.) So with all of that in mind and thanks to my public relations background I've developed a pitching strategy.


Know what the top agents that you are pitching to are looking for. Do they love romance? Are they the action type?


For example, my YA has romantic elements and a war in it so I have a romance category and a war category.



Once you've done that then you are set to go. Here is what you do. Pitch the right pitch to the right agent. It's easy. For an agent that I know loves romance I will pitch more of the romance side of the book to pique their interest. For the agent that prefers some war and action I will focus on that part of my book. Then for agents that I don't have as much information on or ones that I just meet at the conference I will be set with my general pitch.

Now I AM NOT saying to mislead agents and to make them believe that your book has more of something in it that it doesn't. If you do that then you will hurt your credibility with them. But know YOUR BOOK. If it does have many elements to it, like mine does then this will be a great plan for you.

Still, the number one thing to remember is that you know your book best. Only you can pitch it with the passion and confidence that the book deserves. So don't freak over the dreaded pitch. Let your talent speak for itself and share with the agents the story that you loved enough to devote countless hours, days, months, and even years of your life to write.

For more information on pitching to agents I highly recommend the site: Pitch University

It is a fantastic site where your can get lessons on pitching from agents and editors.

If you have suggestions for pitching then please leave them in a comment below.

Enjoy and happy writing!

P.S. I just learned that my fantastic critique partner also wrote on pitching at her blog, The Ending Unplanned today. Great minds do think alike! Go check it out.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Be an Internet sponge without losing writing time

Today when everyone has a blog it is easier than ever to learn about the writing craft, how to write your synopsis and get many opinions on queries and the industry. But how can you be the ever growing sponge and soak up this information without spending the entire day on blogs and not your WIP?

Easy....just like you have a writing routine set a reading routine. I have a few blogs that I automatically read every morning just after I read my daily news. I've posted them below for you to see. I find them informative and well organized. Now that does not mean to ignore the articles/blogs that you see advertised on Twitter throughout the day. Twitter is a great way to find a few great pieces to read in a short amount of time. The trick...follow well informed and educated people in the areas that you want to grow in. Then when you need a tiny writing break (we ALL need those from time to time) hop on Twitter and click on a few blogs that catch your eye. NOW DO NOT READ THEM NOW. That's right I said it. Highlight the links and then email them to yourself. Then get them off of your browser so that you are not tempted to read them. Why wait to read them? You already took the time to find them. Get back to your WIP. At night when you've reached your daily writing goals that is the time to open your email from yourself and enjoy some hopefully helpful information.

This is the system that helps me. It is easy to spend hours browsing the web for helpful blogs and articles. They are out there. But if you spend hours reading then that is time when you are not working on your writing. And your writing is your best tool at breaking into this hard and growing industry of publishing.

Now stop reading what I say and get to writing :-)

Sites that I recommend:

Write It Forward

Pub Rants

Guide to Literary Agents

Adventures in Agentland

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Tips to setting a successful writing routine

The number one rule to making it as a writer is to take yourself seriously and treat it as a career. This can sometime be a challenge since most writers work from home and have to deal with distractions such as house chores, children, etc. But if you try I think you'll find that it is easy to set a routine and stick with it.

Here are some tips to help you set a schedule and stick to it!

- Wake up early just as would if you went to an office. I wake up at 5:30am just like I did when I worked in Public Relations and had to be at work by 8am.
- Carve out writing time early in the morning. I begin right after reading the news while I'm still drinking tea. This gets my writing day off to a good start.
-Set a schedule for various writing needs. I blog on Wednesday and Friday morning. I work on my fiction writing goal in the morning and then freelance assignments in the afternoon. I DO NOT go to bed until writing goals are met.
- With that said set reasonable daily writing goals. I write or revise 2,000 words a day in my fiction WIP.
- Make time to read. As a writer it is your job to know your industry.
- Know your distractions and make a plan to conquer them. I have a 6 month old baby. I schedule my writing breaks around her feeding schedule. I also set up a playroom setting in my office so that it is easy to entertain her while still working.
- Make sure that you have a designated work space. No taking over the kitchen table!

Hopefully these tips will help you stick to the writing schedule best for you. What other writing routine tips do you follow? Share them below in a comment.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Working on the weekend

As writers we do not have a typical Monday through Friday 9-5 job. We work when inspiration strikes. We work when the goal and deadline must be met. Now understandably that makes us the oddballs in our society. Chances are that your family does follow the typical work model. So how do you make to to work during the weekend? Does your family now replace Facebook and Twitter as your biggest distraction?

The answer is respect. Make sure that your family understands what you do. Make sure they understand your daily schedule. Let them know how hard you work and with little compensation. Let them join you in looking forward to the big successes while helping you meet the little goals along the way. My husband is my number one cheerleader. With his support it is easy for me to get help with the baby and of course Oscar.

But don't abuse their support. On Friday and the weekend I always make sure to cut my work off at night so that I can watch that movie with him. I also do not work through meals during the weekends. Let your family know how much you appreciate their help and you'll find that it isn't hard to make time to write even on the weekends.

How do you schedule your weekend writing time? Share below in a comment.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The dreaded rewrite

I'm sure that there are not many authors that haven't had to take on a major rewrite. At least that's what I keep telling myself. I LOVE the premise of my YA Fantasy. My problem was that when I was in revision mode it seemed like something was wrong with it. I couldn't figure it out but it seemed like it was missing something that would take it from a good story to a GREAT story.

It was query ready but I kept delaying the big send off because I still had that nagging pull that something was wrong. I'm glad I listened to my gut. After my third read through I began to question the POV. I wrote it in first person from my heroines perspective. She is a strong character but for most of the story she is in the dark and still learning about the fantasy world that the story revolves around. This essentially put blinders on the reader. As the writer I knew the fantastic fantasy goings on but the reader and the main character did not know enough to give the fantasy world that I created justice. In an attempt to give the story suspense and plenty of cliff hangers I managed to distance the reader from the story.

But still the idea of taking on such a major rewrite made my skin crawl. I read a lot YA Fantasy and saw that the majority of them were written in third person. After putting the inevitable off for months I finally accepted that changing the POV is what the novel needed in order for it to be the great success that I know it can be.

At first I found it more difficult to rewrite the story than I did when writing it the first time. But as I fell into the swing of things the rewrite has become easier. Currently I'm at the halfway mark and I enjoy seeing how these simple yet time consuming changes are making this story better. I use to have this world trapped in my imagination and now it is really running wild on the paper for anyone to read it and enjoy. Though it has caused a delay in my querying process I know that the delay will be worth it.

What is my process? I've been printing each page and going line my line to type out the new version. It's tedious but I don't see any other way to do it that would make sure that it is done right.

Have you taken on a major rewrite? What is your process for a rewrite? Share below in a comment.

Monday, January 10, 2011

How snow days are perfect for writers

OK I know that this is not my usually scheduled blog day but I had to put something. So writers that work from home like myself don't get to take advantage of snow days in the sense that we get out of work but days like this make great writing days. To me there is something very cozy about a cold day and it makes me ignore all distractions and curl up on my couch with a blanket and my laptop.

My assistant Oscar on the other hand isn't as good at ignoring distractions as I am. The dog that has never seen snow until last night suddenly has a new addiction, he loves to run and dive in the foreign white fluffy stuff. When I can wrangle him inside he sits at the window dreaming of diving in the snow. So for today and until the snow melts probably later this week I think it's safe to say that my personal assistant will not be of any help.

If you live in a state that got hit by the winter storm stay warm and safe. Take advantage of weather to write. It's better than getting out on the roads.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Technology that can free up writing time

With my New Year's resolution to make more time to write (sound familiar anyone?) I've adapted to some electronic devices that so far are really making a difference.

First of all, I bought Scrivener. This is a writing software program. I think it's brilliant. My YA has two elaborate worlds. This makes it easier for me to keep all the elements organized. So far my favorite features are how it separates chapters and how I can easily see all my chapters/scenes listed on a cork board. Yes, it is a cork board!! For this very visual person this is a major technology breakthrough and it is cutting down on the clutter in my office. I'm no longer laying out a million sticky notes! OK that was an exaggeration but still you get the point. My MG has a huge back story. It currently is on hold while I work on my YA rewrite but I can see Scrivener being HUGE in helping me keep those facts straight. I highly recommend this product!

For Christmas I asked my family for an Amazon Kindle. I never thought I would love an electronic reader but I do! Every morning I read the New York Times. Now with a 6 month old, an always changing freelance schedule, a non-fiction book on deadline and the constant want to finish and send off my fiction work I'm always looking for ways to save time. I never wanted to cut down on my daily news time but now I can read the NY Times on my Kindle. How does this save time? Well, it's a lot easier to make breakfast, put together bottles, etc. while reading from a small electronic device. So the Kindle has driven me to find more multi-task skills. I can already see how the Kindle will also save my house from the eminent invasion of my book collection.

So, those are two new things that I'm using to better manage my writing time. And, yes I still use the giant white erase board to keep my schedule straight. There is just something about having it large, in blue marker and on the wall that helps me keep everything straight. I know that there are neater and more effective ways to do this but the important thing is that I know what works for me.

What works for you? Do you have any technology discoveries that have helped you better manage your writing life. Do share in a comment.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

How are you setting goals for your New Years resolutions?

Today I'm returning to my usual writing schedule with some new additions to make sure that I stay on track with my 2011 writing plan.

Thinking small:

That's how I'm setting goals and making sure that I reach my overall writing goals for 2011. My first major implementation is that I WILL contribute to this blog each Wednesday and Friday. I'm also working on branding myself online by layering the my writing platform. I will be writing more about this initiative in a future blog.

I've assigned each of my freelance contracts specific days of the week where I will devote the appropriate time to each. All of this will help me free up more time for my fiction writing. So this year I WILL FINISH my YA which is currently under POV revisions and I'll send it out to agents.

I've also set a daily writing goal for my YA. I will not rest each day until I've written or revised 2,000 words. Bold? I'm not thinking so. By further improving my management skills for my other projects I will have more writing time.

Do you have a 2011 writing goal? And do you have a plan? Share what you are doing in a comment below.

Oscar's daily plan to help me write remains the same as is was in 2010. He sits on my feet keeping me in my chair and in front of my laptop. A loyal and good dog to my writing career. Yay Oscar!