Your novel is about to be published and you just googled ‘Promoting a Novel”. Then you became dizzy and disoriented reading all the articles. Novelists have an especially difficult time weeding through advice on book promotion because most is for nonfiction. Here’s a hint: fiction writers can build on their uniqueness. More
Can there only be two types of characters in stories? I’ve read many articles about types of stories, claiming that there are a limited number of stories in existence. I don’t believe it. Not for a second. There are as many stories as there are human beings — and humanity is changing all the time. More
Happy 2018! What are your new year’s writing goals? Someone in one of my writers groups asked me, while wishing me a happy 2018. I was shocked to realize I don’t have many. My debut novel launches on January 23 — The Renaissance Club, my time-travel love story, available now on Amazon for pre-order. I have a poetry collection coming out in August — Arabesque, from FutureCycle Press. And I’m finishing the last revision before querying agents and publishers of my new novel, The Romantics. Plus I’m writing a new musical play.
For me, 2018 seems to be all about finishing up big projects and sending them off to sail in wider waters, with new readership and audiences. Do you have a book making its debut in 2018? Maybe your writing goals revolve around book marketing — blogging, doing interviews, giving readings, offering giveaways. These all require a lot of writing. But my big 2018 writing goal is to start writing a new novel.
I’m past the midway point of National Novel Writing Month, and wouldn’t be here without my community of writers. In my fortunate case, it’s fellow members of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and the subset of those who are doing the wild writing marathon of #NaNoWriMo, wherein you write 50,000 words of a new novel in 30 days. Crazy, huh? Yet more than 300,000 people every year are now participating. How many get to the end with 50K words? I’m willing to bet a large percentage are writers working in some kind of community. For mutual support and encoureagement along the lonely writing path, there’s nothing like a #NaNoWriMo group.
Joining a writing group means opening up about your process, and for introverted writer types, that can be scary. My impression was that writers were all competing with each other, so when I first joined WFWA, saying anything on any topic felt fraught with the risk of humiliating myself. I felt these were all such accomplished, published novelists (at the time I wasn’t published), and how dare I comment or even broach a subject.
It was quite a thing, writing 50,000 words in 30 days. I signed up telling all my colleagues I wouldn’t cross the finish line, that I had no intention of it. I wanted to write good words, not fast and plenty words. But guess what? I have a giant competitive streak in my nature. Every day when I checked my writing buddies’ progress, a few pulled ahead, of me. It got under my skin. I started writing faster, upping my daily word count. I suddenly felt I COULD finish this marathon, and wouldn’t that be a thing?
I began with a head start: a detailed outline and character profiles drawn from working with Lisa Cron’s Story Genius book on the craft of fiction. I knew the WHY for my characters, not just the WHAT. I knew what the two sisters each needed to achieve by the book’s end and what that was supposed to make the reader feel.
Armed with all that, plus a pre-existing 10,000+ words, I leaped in on November 1. My life, it should be said, was in no way ready for such a venture, and that’s why I had to do it. My beloved brother had just died less than a month earlier. I had new family responsibilities as a result. I had a play I’d written in rehearsal, and a novel I’d completed to get an agent or publisher for. I was behind on my client work, swamped with chores and errands left unattended when we plunged into caring for my dying brother, and I was in deep mourning.
And #NaNoWriMo2016 was the best thing that could have happened to me at that time. The daily exercise of writing sharpened my mind and my skills. It focused me in a world – La Spezia in Liguria, Italy — beyond anywhere familiar, except that I have once been there on the happiest vacation I’ve ever taken. And it gave me a reachable goal. I’m very goal-oriented, so that was a happy space for, reaching for a new goal.
As it turned out, I got my 50,000 words done by the skin of my teeth, and by dumping raw research into the body of the book, rewriting it, and then deciding to organize chapters later. And now I have two-thirds of THE ROMANTICS CLUB, a novel, roughly drafted. Some of the opening chapters have been polished to a high gloss. I did some editing while I wrote — can’t refrain from wordsmithing, as it’s my poetic pleasure to do it — and I did some organizing and LOTS OF RESEARCH.
In short, I recommend this for all you goal-oriented writers who are wondering how to tackle the next book. You don’t have to wait for November. Name your own novel-writing month and try to hit a 1,667-word-a-day pace. Or if you did NaNo, you can use January and February to do some goal-oriented editing, with resources from NaNoWriMo.
|National Novel Writing Month||http://nanowrimo.org|
Whatever you do, know you can do more writing than you think you can. That’s the message of NaNoWriMo. Go to the website and donate to support this wonderful program that empowers lots of writers — young and old!
Author platform: what is it, do I need it for fiction, and other brain-freezing topics. There’s so much written about this ugly word (I keep thinking of those awful shoes you can literally fall off and break your ankle), that my research has frozen my mind on the topic.
So here’s my hopefully refreshing take on Platform for Novelists. You don’t need one. No, you just need to be your most authentic writer-self, and in public, without asking people to do things for you. No sales pitching, no bragging (or only subtle and elegant bragging), and stuff to offer to help and amuse your fellow writers and readers. Assume you have readers and you’re all sitting around in one of those gatherings that used to be for workshopping, and how has become the circle of your favorite people to hang with and discuss life and books. Those people are your (platform) audience.
See? It’s not hard at all. It’s pleasant. It does have to be done regularly, but it can take any form that satisfies you and amuses you. I like coming up with pithy poetic fragments and coupling them with nice photos I’ve taken, usually of plants and landscapes and yes, my adorable dog. Of course, I refuse to aggressively hawk my books (except once in awhile to offer discounts but mostly through email), but I do like to talk about my three books and my WIP, a novel involving time travel and the great Italian Renaissance/Baroque sculptor Gianlorenzo Bernini.
And I also like finding and sharing writing resources for my hard-working writer colleagues. That’s why you can go to http://racheldacus.net and find under Resources a long listing of literary journals and presses that accept submissions without charging contest fees.
You can scroll down here at Rocket Kids and find links to all sorts of my favorite literary and publishing resources. And here’s the soothing picture:
|Is she in ecstasy or torture?|
Does she look like she’s in ecstasy or torture? She must be a writer of fiction conteomplating current avenues of publication because where there was once a clear path to authorship, fame, and fortune, now … 100 articles on how to publish OR see a fabulous, must-own publishing guide by The Book Doctors and Jane Friedman’s advice on publishing.
So you studied all that, and now you’re ready to query, submit, do the waiting, make the changes, query, resubmit, keep an open mind without losing your vision, and … WOW! You got a nibble, an offer, or even YES! a contract.
It’s time to break out the champagne, do the Fred Astaire ceiling dance, throw a party, think up your next creative project, and in general be a happy writer for all of a week.
|Then comes the acceptance|
And then reality sets in.
This is not the end of the publishing adventure. Not by a long shot. There’s the marketing, the supporting a new book, figuring out the whole social media thing, how to get the word out to your friends and theirs. It’s all so confusing, so daunting, and so … MUCH.
And remember, we’re in this together. We’re writers and readers, and we can do this.
If all that is making your eyes cross and your brain hurt, just stare at this image for 20 seconds, close your eyes, and mediate on #booklaunch #success and remember your writing will find readers. Believe!
Waiting. Publishing your writing is so full of waiting to hear from an agent or editor that medieval torture begins to seem like a diversion to inflict on yourself while enduring the greater agony. I’m at another waiting stage with my novel-in-progress, The Renaissance Club. I’ve been working on this for so long that I can’t look at it right now without guidance. I need an agent or editor to hold my hand and tell me what I’m reading. I’m waiting to hear from an agent, and the longer I work on this, the slower time seems to go. It’s going slower than for this 19th century girl with her print book in hand.
One of the things I’m doing while waiting to hear from the agent is blog. Here, for example, is my Baroque rockstar bad boy hero, Bernini, in his self-portrait. I’d also add an image of Rome as I remember it on my first day when, like May, I couldn’t wait to get out into one of the most incredible cities I’ve ever seen. And here are my first two paragraphs:
The other thing I’ve done while waiting is to plan a new novel (that’s a no-brainer — if you’re hooked on writing fiction) and to research publishing and its future. Trying to peer into the crystal ball is something it seems few in the industry really want to do. It’s very scary because this is an industry on the brink of The Unknown. A thing far scarier than anything in a Stephen King novel.
If you’re curious, here are two great publishing-futurist gurus who are lively, intelligent, and crazily informed:
WARNING! If you are device-averse and print-dependent, do NOT peruse these. They will make you uts. But I’m the daughter of a rocket engineer and I do love my technology, so I find this endlessly fascinating.
Stay tuned for the future of The Renaissance Club. What will happen when May stops being a realist and encounters her adored genius?
I post this advice from author Neil Gaiman with some trepidation, having just spent a solid twelve months fixing words that were relatively easy to draft. But it’s true, if you let your inner critic sit in your lap while you type, you’re going to get your hands and words bitten all over until there are almost no words left and no hands willing to make them appear.
So in the words of Anne Lamott, “Shitty first drafts”. Just write them. Apologize to yourself over a glass of wine. And then write more. And later, much later, when the keyboard is a distant memory and your words read like someone else’s shitty first draft, fix them up pretty and apply all sorts of costuming and lighting effects, hang the stage with nice heavy velvet curtains and gold braid, and bring in every theatrical trick you have. Just don’t start with the stage machinery. Start with first pristine words and later clean off their faces and begin the hard work. Here’s some encouragement: