March 2018 Archives

My Lady Jane

My Lady Jane.jpgDespite being set during a sad time in English history (post Henry the 8th and all that), My Lady Jane (HarperTeen, 2016) by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows is a laugh out loud book. I laughed so much my husband read the book when I was done.

The authors' dedication gives you some insight into what's coming:

For everyone who knew there was enough room for Leonardo DiCaprio on that door.

And for England. We're really sorry for what we're about to do to your history.

We've all wanted to rewrite the ending of a story. These ladies have rewritten the whole story and with great verve in their alternate version. But yet there are moments that reflect the familiar story. And some people who really existed, although maybe not quite in the same way...

The novel is about sixteen-year-old Edward King of England and his sixteen-year-old cousin Jane Grey and G, who is a horse by day and a man by night. It's about Edians (I don't know how to force the special character for the d) who are "blessed (or cursed, depending on your pint of view) with the ability to switch between a human form and an animal one." And Verities who thought animal magic was "an abomination that needed to be eradicated immediately."

This book has ompelling page turns, humor, pathos, anger, tongue-in-cheek humor (yes, I know I said humor twice), betrayal, a giant bat (yes, you heard me) and even love.

The three authors have also published solo books. Cynthia Hand is a New York Times bestselling author--read about her books here. Brodi Ashton is also a NY Times bestselling author. Read about her here. Jodi Meadows writes scifi and fantasy and you can read about them here.

Rushing to Submit

girl-2786277_1280.jpgRecently I was asked to judge a writing contest.

Some of the common problems I found were:

  • The story didn't fit the genre
  • Confusing or awkward beginnings
  • Unclear who the main character was
  • Unclear how old the main character was (some hint would have been nice)
  • Overuse of other dialogue tags besides "said" and "asked"
  • Punctuation errors
  • Telling, telling, telling (I'm not talking about transitions or other appropriate places to tell)
  • Poor proofing
  • Too much description
  • Head hopping
  • Large chunks of backstory
  • Clich├ęs
  • Inconsistent verb tense
  • No sense of setting
  • Overuse of "as"
  • Main character was only an observer
  • Too many characters which caused confusion
  • Dialogue punctuation errors
  • Sentence fragments
  • Unclear audience
  • Not following directions

There was usually more than one of these problems. The result was I didn't want to read on.

Here's how I work at avoiding these kinds of issues:

1. Set my writing aside for several weeks. When I come back to it, I can read what it actually says, not what I think it says, and revise.

2. Know the rules of punctuation, point of view, verb tenses, etc.

3. Know what my weaknesses are. Whether it is overuse of words, not including enough introspection, etc., I search for them in my writing. I know I have trouble with some rules and refresh them periodically.

4. Read my writing out loud to my critique group. Sometimes I hear my own errors. Often, I find something I thought was perfectly clear in my writing is not clear to my critique partners.

5. Revise again.

6. Set it aside again. Edit again. Take back to critique group if necessary.

7. Do specific market research. (Have been doing general market search all along.)

8. Read the submission guidelines and make sure I'm sending appropriately. If my piece, story, or book doesn't fit, I go back to market research.

Rushing to submit, whether it is to a contest, a magazine, an editor, or an agent, usually backfires. At the best, it is a waste of your time and the time of whoever is receiving your piece. At the worst, they may never want to look at what you send again.

By words the mind is

By words the mind is winged.

If there were one way

If there were one way to writing success, someone would have found it by now. That it hasn't been found tells you all you need to know.
Jennifer Derrick

How you write the story

How you write the story isn't as important as the fact that you write it.
John Cabrera

Becoming a writer means being

Becoming a writer means being creative enough to find the time and the place in your life for writing.
Heather Sellers