Camp NaNoWrimo . . . Novel Writing!

Life has been busy, so I’ve not had as much time to blog as I would like.  Holding my breath and thinking things are slowing down.  At least the dust appears to be settling.  Still waiting to hear back on submissions I have sent out into the world.  Still managing to continue to journal and actually enjoying it since I’ve freed myself of thinking I must do it every single day.  And of course, of course, I am reading!

As if I don’t have enough to do, I’ve decided to try Camp NaNoWriMo.  I’m in a cabin, have settled in, and attempting to write my first fiction novel.  Only have a little over 2,300 words so far, but it’s early in the month.  I’m normally a non-fiction and poetry type gal, but thought it would be fun to give fiction a try.  You never know if you like something, unless you try.

Camp NaNoWrimo

Camp NaNoWrimo

This is the first time I’ve ever tried anything NaNoWriMo.  The big month is in November, but I’ll see how this goes first.  I didn’t even know what NaNoWriMo stood for until a few months ago.  In case you are as clueless as I was, it stands for National Novel Writing Month.  The goal is to begin something new, not an old project, and write at least 50,000 words.

The novel I am working on is a romance fantasy novel.  I thought it would be good for my first attempt as much of the advice I’ve read about writing novels is to write the type of novel you enjoy reading.  I love to read historical romance, but am not too good at history, hence the fantasy.

I got in a creative spurt yesterday and even had a little fun!  Yes, the kind of creative fun you can remember from art class in school.  Using markers and crayons, I created a map of the kingdom and surrounding areas the companions in my novel will be traveling through as they embark upon their quest.  Now I have an inspiring poster to kind of help keep me on track.

Hopefully this week will be calmer and productive.  It can be both can’t it?  I’ll hope so anyway.  Happy writing…

Poem from Melting Monday Prompt

This is a poem I wanted to share, which I created using words from the Monday Melting poetry prompt on the Rosemary Mint blog.  There are several unique images there as well to use for inspiration.  I loved the butterflies this week.  Go on over and get inspired.  Use your creativity to make a poem.

English: Photograph of a Monarch Butterfly.

English: Photograph of a Monarch Butterfly. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fluttering Free

Vulnerable and scared
Folded into my self
Cocooned in safety
I morph into a stronger me
Making my pleas coherent
Saying, “No more of this”
Break free from fear
Flutter into living life
Flutter into being me

Tips and Markets for Personal Essays

The last couple of weeks have been very productive and I am starting to feel more comfortable writing queries and making submissions to magazines.  Not so comfortable that I don’t want my resource books near for guidance, but more comfortable none the less.  I’ve been submitting personal essays and poetry.  Made a couple of mistakes, but I’m learning still.

One mistake was easily remedied with a quick phone call.  Not a major mistake, but accidentally left the SASE out of a submission.  Luckily just wasted one stamp.  Found out just needed to reprint my submission, pop it in an envelope with the SASE, and mail everything out again.  The other mistake was one of those lost in electronic translation ones.  A place I was submitting to needed the file in .rtf instead of .doc.  I submitted it after reviewing it looked right on my end, but found out upon opening it after it was sent that the spacing in a couple of places was off.

Thought I would share a few resources with you I’ve found useful as I’m learning about personal essays and narratives.  I’ve found I really enjoy this kind of writing and for me it flows so much more easily than fiction.  I found an article, Profitable Personal Essays by Dawn Goldsmith at Writers Weekly ezine, which includes a list of the authors five favorite places to submit personal essays.  Another useful article was Tips to Help You Publish Your Personal Essays at Writer’s Digest.  The site Writing to Heal, Writing to Grow has a great list of Paying Markets for Personal Essays.

Quick Tips for Submissions :

  • Visit the actual magazine website to make sure it is still in existence and accepting submissions
  • It is preferable to become familiar with the magazine before attempting to submit to it; some will provide a sample issue for a fee and many have links to published works on their websites
  • Check if submissions are accepted year round or there is a specific submission period
  • Read and follow submission instructions closely, may accept via postal mail and/or electronic submissions
  • Remember to include SASE if requested
  • Check if accepts simultaneous submissions; if your work gets accepted by one magazine, then politely notify the other magazine

As I’ve been researching in books and online to find homes for some of my writing, I’ve been keeping a list of places to possibly make submissions.  May be a personal opinion, but I would also say to make sure the possible future home for some of your writing is a place you feel is compatible with your values prior to submitting your work.  Here’s my list of places to makes submissions to :

Do you have a favorite writing tip you’ve learned along the way?…


Dove Into Writing First Magazine Query

Magazines to read

Magazines to read (Photo credit: Longzero)

A few months ago I did submit some of my writing to different places, but never wrote a query letter.  One was a poem entered in a contest for the Carolina Woman magazine, which I did not win but did receive back a very nicely worded rejection letter.  The other has been primarily writing articles and submitting to the Yahoo! Contributor Network since February.  I’ve been writing other articles and researching magazines I am interested in making submissions to, but honestly I think I have felt a little intimidated about writing query letters.

My writing doesn’t make me hesitate as I just write.  Maybe I’ll hope someone likes it, but I don’t think about it too much.  It’s not that I don’t care about the audience who may be reading my writing.  I think it’s just I’ve spent so much of my life trying to make other people happy and often being quiet about things that my priority is speaking up even if some one may not like it or agree with it.  Sometimes it’s something I’m writing from the heart.  Other times it can be something I have to share I’m interested in, something I learned, or maybe something from my life.

Query letters on the other hand feel like one of those nice tidy things which if not done correctly like a form you fill out at the DMV office can lead to the demise of your writing.  Hence my trepidation.  Some things procrastination does not improved and just holds you back, so I decided to just jump in yesterday.  Hooray, nice deep breath, I can officially say I have written my first query letter and begun in earnest to work on submitting some of my writing.

Through all of the reading I’ve been doing the last few months, there are a few basics I recall to query letters.  A big one, which I am floored to learn not all people do, is to make sure to read submission guidelines and follow them.  Another point is let your writing stand out by itself, but stick to the classics when it comes to a query letter and don’t try to make it stand out too much.

It’s not the time for creativity with a query letter on neon green paper and an unusual font.  It’s best to use good old fashioned standard white paper and a font usually accepted such as arial or times new roman.  A last point is just as you try to grab your reader’s attention, you want to grab the attention of the editor right away, so put an interesting idea or the “hook” of your article in the first paragraph.

There is a good article How to Write a Query Letter on the PoeWar website.  In the beginning there is a list I really like of some of the advantages of writing query letters, which are worth considering as I’m learning some magazines do not require query letters.  I did some of both yesterday.  A few poems were submitted to one magazine without a query letter, but I submitted two stories to another magazine with a query letter.

What’s your favorite tip regarding query letters for submitting your writing?

Getting a Fresh Perspective

Every now and then, it is good to take a step back and get a fresh perspective on things.  I’ve been gone for a bit dog sitting for some friends while they were away.  It was nice to be back in Virginia and I love seeing the mountains.

As many times as I’ve been, I had never been on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  This time I made time and took a drive so maybe I could get a closer view of the mountains.  The first few overlooks I was disappointed and thought how much more beautiful the mountains looked from afar than close up.

The further I went though, I found some overlooks with absolutely amazing views of the overlapping mountains (sorry pictures aren’t better, only had my cell phone for photos).  Some of them have interesting names as well like Apple Orchard Mountain.  I want to return one day soon, take better photos, and wear more practical shoes so I can explore some of the trails.

My trip to Virginia gave me plenty of time to think and write.  The first few days I just really took a chance to unwind and relax.  While out exploring one day I went to Barnes & Nobles and found a book, The Story Within :  New Insights and Inspiration for Writers by Laura Oliver.

I absolutely love this book and I am only a little over half way through.  It’s the kind of book that just speaks to my heart.  She provides wonderful insights into helping a writer find their voice and look at their life in a fresh perspective for writing material.  It was helpful to see sometimes we need to take a step forward and more closely examine incidents in our life in more detail.  Other times it may help to take a step back and look at the broader picture for what it truly means rather than the superficial details.  As she says even essays have a plot.

The author also does a good job of providing examples of writing to illustrate her points.  Always looking for positive motivation, I was also pleased about the number of wonderful quotes from a number of writers and other famous people.  One from Louis L’Amour was, ‘If you’re going to be a writer, the first essential is just to write.  Do not wait for an idea.  Start writing something and the idea will come.  You have to turn on the faucet before the water starts to flow.”  There are plenty of prompts and encouragement provided for writing as well.  I can’t wait to read more.

It was nice to have uninterrupted writing time.  I wrote several poems and a few essays.  I don’t usually write short stories, but was inspired to start one.  It seemed ideas were springing up as I was writing at times, so I would write them down for future reference.  Hopefully this week I can work on finishing up a few pieces and work on making some submissions.  Back and ready to view life with new perspective.

Little or big, what do you like to do to give you a fresh perspective on life or your writing???…

Virginia Mountains

Thoughts on Books about Writing

Amazon Kindle DX Graphite displaying Pride and...

Amazon Kindle DX Graphite displaying Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I know I have mentioned before, I love bookstores and love to read!  This week I got a new book on my Kindle from Amazon and also picked up a new book at Barnes & Nobles in the mall on a trip with my daughter.  I have spent way too much time reading this week.

The book I put on my Kindle is Crafting the Personal Essay : A Guide for Writing and Publishing Creative Nonfiction by Dinty W. Moore.  Actually saw it in the mall, but just wrote down the title for future reference.  Well, ended up deciding to get it sooner than later, so did the Kindle version.

The book was so good to me, I have already finished reading it.  It contains so much information on writing personal essays.  Many different types of essays are discussed : memoir, contemplative, spiritual, gastronomical, lyric, nature, travel, and humerous.  I found out there are way more types of essays than I even knew existed.  The author does a good job of providing personal, historical, and more modern examples of essays.  There are also plenty of ideas provided for writing exercises and prompts.

The author shares essays are in a way like poetry as you have the freedom to explore any subject without being forced into a certain mold.  As with other forms of writing, details are important.  Again I saw the recommendation I’ve read in other places of the importance of “show, don’t tell.”  Making a point to try to include the reader of your writing into the world you are sharing with them.

There is general information and recommendations in the book, which would be beneficial to any writer.  Things such as expect the first draft of anything to be bad, expect rejections, and write anything as long as you are writing if faced with writer’s block.  There are sections about blogging, writing groups, and preparing submissions as well.

Even the appendixes in this book are great.  They contained lists of essay examples, books about writing, and places in print as well as online that will accept personal essays.  Overall it was an easy to read book written in a friendly tone and the only sections I occasionally skipped over were if there was a rather lengthy essay example that was not catching my attention.  It is a book I plan on referring to again for pointers and ideas for writing essays.

The other book I got at the mall was Writing The Life Poetic :  An Invitation to Read & Write Poetry by Sage Cohen.  Besides writing essays, I have found a true love of poetry and enjoyed this book on my initial thumb through.  It has 80 short chapters and instead of reading it straight through as I do most books, I’ve started on chapter 56 and read about 10 chapters so far.  So far so good.  Has lots of examples of poetry, good information about writing poetry, and how to share your poetry with others.  I will try to share more once I finish reading it.

Setting Writing Goals

0610 list

0610 list (Photo credit: paloetic)

I tend to be a bit of a free spirit and will never be one of those sorts of people to plan my day out by the hour. No offense meant if you’re reading this and you are one of those type people.  I do use a monthly calendar and write out to do lists, as I know planning does help make things happen.

Through the tools I use, I do accomplish quite a bit, but have been thinking it might help to set some goals for myself.  I believe it may help restore a little balance in my life as I can get carried away a bit. My daily activities usually depend on my mood, what interests me, and if something has a deadline. There are times I may curl up reading a good book for hours or sit and write for hours on end.

To give my life more sense of direction and balance I have started to really think about goals as well as write them down, so I have a good visual to keep me motivated.  It’s wonderful to do things I enjoy, such as write, but clean clothes and healthy meals are also vital.  Goal setting will be a project I will work on some this week.  Goals will always be subject to change, but I thought I would share some of my writing goals so far:

  1. Blog twice a week atleast (both blogs)
  2. Read two books a month
  3. Write two articles per day
  4. Check boards on my website list for freelance writing jobs (so far www.freelancewritinggigs.com , www.craigslist.com , and the job board on www.wow-womenonwriting.com )

Here’s a quote by C. S. Lewis on goals-“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”  Best wishes for balance in your life and happy goal setting.

 

Inspiration for Writers

Ernest Hemingway Writing at Campsite in Kenya ...

Image via Wikipedia

Yes, I have a thing for used bookstores.  I found another interesting book, Beating the Odds :  Getting Published in the Field of Literacy by editors Shelley B. Wepner and Linda B. Gambrell.  Even though this book is geared towards those in the literacy field, I thought it had quite a bit of useful information for any writer.

I found several inspirational quotes from other writers in the book :

  • Edward Fry – “there is only one kind of author who never gets rejections:  the author who doesn’t submit anything”
  • E.B. White – “Writing is an act of faith, not a trick of grammar.”
  • Ernest Hemingway – “For a long time now I have tried to write simply the best I can.  Sometimes I have good luck and write better than I can.”
  • Bill Wheeler – “Good writing is clear thinking made visible.”

I thought a good idea would be to start writing inspiring quotes I find on sticky notes and put them up in visible places near my desk. Online I started to pin inspirational things I find on a board at pinterest. Pinterest can be found at http://pinterest.com/ , just beware you can waste time there and get sidetracked from writing. My thinking is if I surround myself with words of encouragement and things which inspire me, it will help me hang in there even during the discouraging times.

Inspirational Book for Freelance Writers

English: Amberg - Paperblanks ® books on displ...

Image via Wikipedia

Last week I found a book in a used bookstore I have really been enjoying. The book is Achieving Financial Independence as a Freelance Writer by Ray Dreyfack. The author says he has been a writer for over 30 years so he speaks from the viewpoint of experience. There is good information shared about specializing and using your experience to write. I have found, it is much easier to write about things I am passionate about and have some knowledge or experience regarding the subject matter.

One repeating phrase in the book is “think small grow big”, which simply put means to start small and build from there. This is good advice for beginning freelance writers like me and I think it will become one of my favorite mottos for future reference. This seems to fall in line with a lot of advice I have read for beginners. Advice which recommends beginning freelance writers with limited experience may want to write free for non-profit sources or articles for websites allowing submissions meeting their guidelines.  This provides an opportunity to gain experience and help build your writing portfolio.

The book shares the importance of making contacts, networking, and writing groups. There are numerous groups and associations for writers with membership fees ranging from free to about $100. I have found a local writers’ group through the website www.meetup.com and am looking forward to my first meeting next week.

 This book has been a good source of inspiration and I hope to finish reading it this week. Besides finding a great book, I also had some good news last week. I called to follow-up on an article I wrote for a magazine and later during the day received an email saying the article will be published!

Writing Resources

The World Digital Library.

Image via Wikipedia

It has been a slow writing week for me.  I definitely need to work on my time management skills and atleast write a little everyday.  Some days I spend hours writing and other days I do not seem to find the time.  It is easy to also get lost in time, researching information online, rather than spend time actually writing.  Maybe I need to start setting a time limit for reading blogs and researching information online.

I do find some very helpful information, so at least I am not wasting time.  I have found two books which are on my wish list as writing resources : The Yahoo Style Guide :  The Ultimate Sourcebook for Writing, Editing, and Creating Content for the Digital World by Yahoo and the Associated Press Stylebook.  Another of my favorite freelance writing websites, www.freelancewritinggigs.com , has a link to several free writing resources : www.freelancewritinggigs.com/2009/10/4-free-stuff-for-writers/ .  A dictionary, thesaurus, and encyclopedia are among some of the resources you can find there. 

I have been saving useful links I find as favorites on my computer, so I can find them easily when I need to refer to them again.  Some of the favorite folders I have on my computer are writing jobs, reference resources, nurse freelance writers, and writing contests.  I may have to go through and reorganize them again, but atleast it’s a beginning and you have to start somewhere.  Same thing with writing.

I did finish writing a short article today and submitted it on www.firehow.com .  Here is the link to it : http://firehow.com/2012020530040/how-to-make-the-most-of-your-healthcare-provider-visit.html .  Well, maybe this will be a more productive week and I will get more writing done.

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