Saturday, April 16, 2011

When Writing Trumps Blogging

Hi, all. As much as I love my blog, I love working on my projects and meeting deadlines even more. Hoping to return to regular blog posts here in the near future, but in the meantime, I will soon be uploading some new, wonderful writers' links, so please stop by again. I enjoy having a banger list of writers' resources here; I know I use them often, and hope you do, too. Stop by and say, "hi" on Facebook and let the words flow.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

How Are Those New Years' Resolutions Working for Ya?

Well, we're almost half-way through the first month of the new year. With millions of people around the globe having made resolutions at the end of 2010 (well, at least in the western world -- the Chinese year 4708 doesn't begin until February 3) now, almost two weeks later, is a good time to reflect on how those resolutions are working out for us. Have they inspired yet more resolutions? Are they easy to maintain? Were they left behind on January 2?

A couple years back, I decided that I am a work in progress, and as such, I no longer make resolutions at the end of each calendar year. I've found it far more productive and beneficial to make new resolutions for myself throughout the year each year. When something's not working in my life, I change it. There are times when I drag my feet a little bit, not making the change as quickly as I could, but I'm not waiting until December 31 to do it.

If you make annual resolutions, stick to them and improve your life as a result, more power to you. I just can't put that much pressure on myself at the end of the year to seek to remedy everything in my life that I deem still needs work. It may seem a more daunting task to take it on a day-by-day approach like I do now, but you get used to it. Once you get in the habit of making changes on an ongoing basis, making each change actually gets easier. Wherever you're at in your journey in 2011, I hope it is joyful.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

“In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.” – Albert Schweitzer

Now is an excellent time to look back on all of the people that have helped rekindle our inner spirit this past year. I know I've had many people help ignite mine, and I'm very grateful. Thank you all! I wish you all the best for 2011.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Delivery and Acceptance of the Author’s Manuscript

Two seemingly simple aspects of a publishing contract are, nevertheless, often the subject of litigation. Authors need to examine the content of these clauses closely. In the typical book-publishing contract, the author agrees to deliver to the publisher a final manuscript which is then accepted by the publisher. Publishers’ contracts require that the manuscript be satisfactory to the publisher. This makes sense since the publisher is extending financial resources to publish the author’s work. In one recent court case, however, Joan Collins’ agent had been successful in persuading Random House to delete its normal clause requiring “manuscript in form and content satisfactory to publisher” and to replace it, requiring only a “complete manuscript.” The publisher deemed Collins’ complete manuscript unsatisfactory, but the court allowed Collins to retain the $1.2 million advance she received since she had performed what was required in the contract. Deletions of the satisfactory to the publisher requirement aren’t likely to be made very often. It’s not worth it to the publisher.

In looking at the delivery requirement in the publishing contract, authors need to look at several factors. When is the manuscript due? Is this date realistic? Make sure the contractually agreed upon format of the manuscript is submitted. Make sure you understand all copyright permissions and releases that may be enumerated here.

In examining the acceptance requirement, look at the specific criteria listed. Must the completed manuscript be satisfactory in "form and content” or at the "sole discretion" of the publisher? Can the publisher terminate the contract for a change in market conditions? How is the notice of the acceptance or dissatisfaction of the manuscript to be given? Does the publisher provide the opportunity for the author to edit the manuscript following it being deemed unsatisfactory?

In a nutshell, authors must provide a complete, satisfactory manuscript by a specified delivery date to the publisher. Publishers then will publish the author’s work upon acceptance of the manuscript. Authors must do all they can to submit a complete manuscript that is satisfactory to the publisher because the publisher's promise to publish an author's work and pay royalties is generally unenforceable until the publisher has received a manuscript it deems acceptable.

Note: This document is not legal advice and is not intended to be construed as such. Consult an attorney who works with publishing law for legal questions relating to your specific publishing issues and projects.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Peace Day

Peace Day

Peace. Let's all live it, experiene it, know it.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Audition by Michael Shurtleff - Importance

The following is the eighth in a series of twelve articles based upon the twelve guideposts listed in Audition: Everything an Actor Needs to Know to Get the Part by Michael Shurtleff. The author was the casting director for many of David Merrick's Broadway productions. He also worked with Bob Fosse and Andrew Lloyd Webber. His book is known as the actor’s bible. If you take a college acting class, it will likely be required reading. While Shurtleff’s book is aimed at actors, his principles are beneficial to both writers and directors as well. This series is geared toward writers.

Novels, stage plays and screenplays emphasize the most important moments in people's lives, not the humdrumness. The truth is not enough for a commercial story. It must must be invested with sufficient emotion to make it important. Actors in their acting must seek the opposite of what they've been trained in life to seek. Peacefulness and the avoidance of trouble won't help in acting. Actors must seek the opposite in their acting. Writers must seek the opposite in writing their stories. Importance does not necessarily mean of significance to others. It means what is emotionally important to the protagonist in this moment. Make trivial things important in the moment, even if a day later the character has forgotten them. Make the importance in each scene as important as you can. Find the maximum importance. Add importance. If you don't, no one will be listening to you.

Choose the positive, not the negative, in creating your character. People are motivated by dreams, not negative realities. Reality creates problems; dreams are how we deal with them. Dreams are why we stay alive. If you leave out the dreams, you omit the best part of the character as a human being.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

UGH!!! Revisions

You've read your manuscript again, and again. And again. You've got a deadline looming. Your completed, final manuscript is due to your agent or editor and you're still revising. You're tired. You're frustrated. You're just about ready to start taking hostages. What do you do? Take a small break. Walk your dog. Put your cat's favorite toy on the end of a fishing pole and watch the fun. (I've seen this done and it's more entertaining than cable tv.) Go to the gym. Treat yourself to lunch.

Then what?


Blend minor characters that can't stand on their own together or get rid of them. Make sure the logic of your story holds up. This one can be particularly difficult when writing science fiction or paranormal stories, but the fact remains: no matter how crazy the story, fiction has to make sense or it's not going to sell. Once you've done this, see if your manuscript passes the major test. Does it keep your reader turning the pages? You were drawn enough to the story to write it. Now put on your reader glasses and read it. Is the pace moving quickly enough where you need it to? If not, tighten it up with shorter sentences. Balance the action with the dialogue. Is the pace slowed down where the reader needs a break in the speed of the story? If not, work in some narrative. Just make sure that anything new you add to the story continues to move the story forward. Tell the reader what he or she needs to know to keep your story moving forward and that's it. Any extra prose you like you can copy and paste and save for use in a subsequent story.

Have you been working on revising your story so much now that you can barely stand to look at it anymore? You almost hate your story? Congratulations! You're at that perfect phase to finish it. Now, just go through that manuscript a few more times, fine tune it for logic, story elements, characterization; make sure it's smooth sailing forward throughout the story; double check grammar and punctuation. Have another trustworthy pair of eyes look at it. I mean a good critique partner who knows commercial fiction. Spouses, best friends and family members need not apply. They can read your book when it's bound and your name is on the spine. Like the old advertisement says, "Just do it." Finish it up and send it off to your agent or editor.

Then, get cracking on your next book. Enjoy!