March 4, 2010

a short update

Happy National Grammar Day. On this most holiest of days, I hope to make fewer grammar errors and write neater copy.

We'll see how this goes.

looking ahead for inspiration

I've been dragging my feet on the whole writing front. So, to get myself motivated this week, I decided to do some visualization - and it worked! I've worked on my personal writing (that is, work done exclusively for my novels) every day this week.

Here's what I did. I wrote a query letter. While researching publishing houses (I have a few that I'm eying as ones I would love to be associated with, even though I know it's really not all my decision) and saw most publishers want a query letter. And if you want them to even look at your manuscript, you better have a damn good one.

Here's how my query letter broke down after I wrote it (and I kept it short and concise and under one page in letter style):

Paragraph one: Like the lead of a good news story, this is where you hook the letter's reader and get them interested in your story.

Paragraph two: A brief summary of your novel. You don't have to give it all away! Think book cover teaser.

Paragraph three: A short biography of yours truly. In this paragraph, I wrote about why I am qualified to tell the story I've told, and included brief info about the fact that I am already a professional writer in the form of journalist.

Conclusion: Thank the person for taking the time to read your query. Also, for fiction books, include the length of the manuscript and the fact that it is completed.

There you have it. The nuts and bolts of a query letter.

For me, writing this query letter got me excited about my writing again. It motivated me, because I was able to imagine how exciting it would be to send that letter out to prospective agents and publishers.

Time is still a problem for me. Even now, I'm struggling to get this blog written three or four times per week. Today, I'm writing during my lunch break. I used my lunch yesterday to work on my book, and also have taken to working on my book after I finish working on the j-o-b for the day (I've already got my creative juices flowing). It amazes me that I switch gears so frequently, but I realize, that is possible because of the nature of my job. I'll work on one story for one client one minute, and the next I'm with another client doing a totally different project. Lucky me!

I'll give an update on my writing progress this weekend and set goals I hope to accomplish in the upcoming week. Next week will be a challenge, I can tell already, because I will be on the road visiting clients. Got to find a way to work through it.

I'll also have a book review up for your viewing pleasure sometime this weekend.

March 2, 2010

finding the time

My first obstacle in writing continues to be finding the time and motivation to do it. I know I have it in me to write a lot. My job involves filling newsletters and other publications with words I've written.

But the question for me is: How do I make working on my book a habit?

Two years ago, I attended a workshop with Stephanie Bond, author of the "Body Movers" series. Her advice: be disciplined. Make time to write and do it. Learn to write for 15-30 minutes at a time if you have other commitments. Jot notes about your book when they come to mind, even if you're working your regular j-o-b, o are out with your friends. It will keep your book fresh on your mind.

So basically, I guess I just have to make time. Easier said than done, but I've still got to do it if I want to make this happen. It will be a challenge. I was traveling for work all of last week and will be again next week, plus I'm visiting local clients this week and the week after next. However, I feel like I'm using that as a crutch. So... I need to get over it.

Sorry for short post. I'm trying to at least get a few posts a week and I figured a short post with some valuable advice from an industry expert was better than nothing!

On a side note, the next book I will review is a two-fer. On my way to Albany, N.Y., last week, I read "Night Tales: Nightshade & Night Smoke" by Nora Roberts. It's a two-in-one republished version of two books she wrote back in the 90s, but it was new to me.