Prepping for NaNoWritMo

PREPPING FOR NaNoWriMo with SUSAN MEIER: Online Course INSTRUCTOR: Susan Meier DATE: October 1 – October 31, 2011 REGISTER: http://tinyurl.com/PennwritersCourse201110 (LIMITED CLASS SIZE. Enroll now.) COURSE DESCRIPTION: Everybody believes NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, which runs every November at http://www.nanowrimo.org) is a race against the clock, a fight with procrastination and inertia. In some ways it is. But once you’re in the thick of things, you’ll discover NaNo is really all about ideas. Writers don’t stall because they’re lazy. Writers stall because they don’t know what to write next. The month BEFORE NaNo, get proven tips from Susan Meier—the author of almost 50 books for Harlequin and Silhouette—and let her take you through several different ways to examine the story you want to write, to capture the natural scene possibilities within your idea, to generate new ideas, and to push yourself through the most grueling, but fun, month you will spend this year! Lessons include: * The List of 20 (How to generate ideas quickly so you have little downtime when your natural ideas run out) * Turning a “Want” into “Need” (How does knowing why you’re writing this book provide you with both energy to write and ideas for your story?) * The One-Paragraph Story Summary (Say it succinctly…3 kinds of one-paragraph story summaries: back cover blurb, core story question, and growth paragraph) * Could, Might, Must and Should List (How to capture ideas that spring up naturally) * Storyboard Versus Synopsis (Breaking your idea down into manageable bites) * The Psychology of Pushing through the Hard Times (What to do when you get stuck) * The Psychology of a Draft (Push, push, push!) * What Are You Doing in December? (Editing tips) Discover how to get the most out of NaNo and write a publishable novel. LIMITED CLASS SIZE. Enroll now. REGISTER: http://tinyurl.com/PennwritersCourse201110 ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR: Susan Meier is the author of over 45 books for Harlequin and Silhouette and one of Guideposts‘ Grace Chapel Inn series books, THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS. Her books have been finalists for Reviewers Choice Awards, National Reader’s Choice Awards and Cataromance.com Reviewer’s Choice Awards and nominated for Romantic Times awards. Her book, HER BABY’S FIRST CHRISTMAS won the traditional category in the 2009 More Than Magic contest. HER PREGNANCY SURPRISE, her first release for the Harlequin Romance line, made both Walden’s Bestseller List for Series Romance and Bookscan. MAID FOR THE MILLIONAIRE, MAID FOR THE SINGLE DAD, and COUNTRY TWIN CHRISTMAS are her 2010 releases. Susan loves to teach as much as she loves to write and is a popular speaker at RWA chapter conferences. Can This Manuscript Be Saved? and Journey Steps, Taking the Train to Somewhere! are her most requested workshops. Her article “How to Write a Category Romance” appeared in 2003 Writer’s Digest Novel and Short Story Markets. Susan also gives online workshops for various groups and her articles regularly appear in RWA chapter newsletters. For more information about Susan Meier, visit http://www.susanmeier.com. * Subscribe to our announcement list for email on our latest online courses! http://groups.yahoo.com/group/PennwritersOnlineCourses ***** * For more information on this course, contact Laura M. Campbell, Online Courses Coordinator. To mail in your registration and payment, send payment at least one week before the course starts using the mail form at this link.

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Why Attend a Writers’ Conference? by Deanna R. Adams

With all the buzz right now about the upcoming Pennwriters’ Conference (of which I’m proud to be a presenter), I thought this is an opportune time to address the importance of writers’ conferences and workshops—whether you’re a novice, or an established, published writer.
Of course, if you’re relatively new to the business—and make no mistake, it is a business—attending writers’ conferences is essential. Why? Oh, let me count just some of the ways:
• Network with Like-Minded Souls: Writing is such a solitary activity. As we sit alone with our keyboards (save for the cat on our lap) searching constantly for the right words, sweating over awkward sentences, and wondering why we’re in this crazy business (except that we love it!), we need to be with people who understand. Not merely for the camaraderie, but also to learn from each other. To make new friends who love the written word as much as we do. To bask in one another’s successes, or offer words of encouragement after that dreaded rejection. One thing about writers, we are a wonderfully supportive bunch.
• To meet professional writers, authors, editors, agents—all from whom we can draw inspiration, education, and connections. Who knows? Perhaps one of them will be the perfect source when it comes time to submit our work.
• To keep up with what’s happening in the industry. I recently attended the Las Vegas Writers’ Conference and learned the latest on Social Media, Creating a Digital/Online Media Kit, and other topics I needed to brush up on. As much as I began this decade kicking and screaming into the 21st century, I now marvel at all the new opportunities available for us writers. And yes, I am also happily certain there will still be printed books in the future. (See my last blog).
Let me add a phrase I heard often growing up: “You are who you associate with.” Well, real writers tend to hang out with each other, and a conference is simply the best way to meet a lot of them all in one place.
Now you may think that you cannot afford to attend these wonderful events because of today’s economy, gas prices, and your own dwindling bank accounts. Believe me, there is not a writer among us who doesn’t know the sacrifices we make for our prose.
So here’s an idea. Let me borrow from financial expert, Suze Orman, and say, “Pay yourself first.” Even if you tuck away $10 a week, that’s $40 a month. If there’s a conference or workshop coming up in six months that you want to attend, you’ll have $240 by that time, and even if that doesn’t cover the entire cost, it will surely be a big chunk of it. I admit to using my credit card to pay the balance for a more expensive conference (especially when I have to travel, say, to Vegas) but I know I’ll get it paid off, and that everything I get out of a conference will more than pay for itself when it comes to building my career.
And let’s not forget the tax write-off. . . .
So with all that said, I hope to see each one of you at the 24th annual Pennwriters’ Conference!
I’m looking forward to meeting new writer friends!
Deanna

Deanna Adams’s Top Ten Tips for Achieving Your Goals

1. Know the Difference between a Dream and a Goal. A dream is an unrealistic vision (like winning the lottery), a goal is something is attainable, WHEN you apply the necessary steps toward achieving it.

2. Be Prepared. Have one place in your home where you write and do nothing else but write. This helps trigger the creative process. Also, try and keep the same writing schedule. Same time. Same place. Every day. You’ll see the words begin to flow easily as a result of this consistency.

3. Manage Your Time. Give yourself permission to write, and no more excuses. Get up an hour earlier to write, or stay up an hour later. Don’t waste time watching a lot of TV, it won’t enhance your life and won’t make you a writer. Email, too, sucks up a lot of time. Tell everyone you know not to send you those forwards and jokes. If they still do (and some will) delete them without opening them. Of course, as a writer, you have to check your email, but do it after you’ve written at least one or two hours. (If possible.)

4. Take Classes, Attend Writers Conferences/Workshops. Invest in yourself and your career. Whether a novice or veteran, we all need that shot in the arm, and there’s always something new to learn. These events give you the needed encouragement, stimulation, education and camaraderie you get from others who share your passion. Can’t afford a conference? Make a goal toward the next one you want to attend. Then start putting as much money as you can away each week (even if it’s just $10) and soon you’ll be there!

5. Network Whenever Possible. Surround yourself with successful people. “You are who you associate with” is a wonderful, and true, expression. Meet them. Learn from them. Stalk them. (Kidding.) Then follow their lead. Read their works so you can ask them questions on how they did it. Exchange emails or phone calls, and make yourself a new writer friend.

6. Read Great Works, Have Literary Heroes. You can glean so much from reading great books. My literary heroes include (but not limited to) Amy Tan, Anne Lamott, Mary Karr, William Zinsser, David Sedaris, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. Who are yours?

7. Understand You’ll Need To Pay Your Dues. That’s how we all learn and grow. There is not one successful writer out there who has not known rejection. The difference is what they did afterward—they’ve learned from it and DID NOT GIVE UP! If you’re lucky, your rejection letter will include a personal note from an editor or agent, giving you a tip on how to improve the piece, or just some encouragement about your writing.

8. Review your Goals Now and Then, and Revise if Necessary. You may get halfway through a novel or researching a book and decide it’s not working. By all means, drop it and begin something else. Or revise your contents, extend a deadline if you need to. Things change. You change . . . It’s okay.

9. Celebrate Achievements, No Matter How Small. Celebrate after finishing a book chapter or get an article accepted, or, especially, when you get a YES! from an agent. Go out and buy yourself something (another book?), enjoy a good meal at your favorite restaurant, sip a chocolate martini, or drink of your choice. The point is, writing is hard work and you deserve to treat yourself!

10. Believe in Yourself! Remember, if you love the art of writing, then you’re already good at it. No one willingly does something they’re bad at. Because there’s no joy in it. You feel the joy of loving what you do, which makes you want to do it more, learn more. Which makes you accomplish more . . . which ultimately results in . . . TA DA – Success!
*Deanna will be a presenter at this year’s Pennwriters Conference. She will speak on Drafting the Nonfiction Proposal and The Art of Creative Nonfiction

Member News – Bobbi Carducci Introduces Her Book for Young Readers

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Hi All,

  • I am very excited to announce the publication of my first book for young readers. The official launch date will be April 19, 2011 but it is available for preorder now. 
  • Click on this link to see more: Storee Wryter Gets a Dog “Storee’s ideas for her writing often come from her many adventures. And when her friend, Kyria, talks her into getting a new puppy, Storee gets some great ideas for her next book while she and her cat, Critique, have fun watching her puppy learn to become a trained therapy dog.

    Join Storee as she learns to train her puppy to be helpful and soothing. Watch as Storee visits a classroom of special needs children, using her dog to reach out. And have fun with Storee as she gains new experiences certain to help her create her next bestseller! But most important of all, find inspiration for your next masterpiece as you read Storee Wryter Gets a Dog.

    60 pages – $7.99 (paperback)

  • The book is based on real people including Kyria Henry, winner of the Ikea Life Improvement Sabbitcal $100,000 prize for the paws4vets program. www.thelifeimprovementproject.com

    The picture of Storee on the front of the book is based on two photos, of one of me and one of my daughter, each taken at the age of eight.  In addition to telling a great story,the book is desgined to inspire young writers and includes writing prompts at the back of the book. My niche audience for Storee Wryter Gets a Dog is elementary school teachers who will be able to download the book for use in the classroom. Please pass this on to any teachers you know.

    The Write Stuff Conference

    Hi fellow Pennwriters,
    The Write Stuff conference site is now up. This year’s conference features a 1-1/2 day workshop with keynote Donald Maass (Writing the Breakout Novel and Fire in Fiction) at an amazing $150, including two box lunches. His wife, editor Lisa Rector-Maas, will lead a half-day workshop at an amazing $30. Pennwriters Nate Hardy and Jonathan Maberry will join a great line-up of presenters, and I’ll be moderating the agent panel. We have six agents, two editors, first page critique opportunities…

    The conference runs March 24-26, 2011 at the Four Points Sheraton, Allentown PA. Check it out:
    http://www.glvwg.org/conference/index.html

    Member registration opens with tomorrow’s postmark. A downloadable form for non-mambers will be up when non-member registration opens January 15. Events requiring advance registration fill quickly!

    Kathryn Craft
    Area 6

    Getting the Story Down – by Deanna R. Adams

     Just yesterday I completed my first novel. And yes, my feathers are a bit fluffed right now knowing that I made it through the beginning. The middle. And the end (I always have problems with endings!).

     It took a full year to write this first draft (after all, life does get in the way!), and of course I realize that the hard part has only just begun. Now it’s time to go through the entire manuscript page by page, do necessary revisions, then draft a dynamite query and synopsis. Then, begin the process of pitching it to the right agent.

    IMPORTANT NOTE: There is a terrific site on Writermag.com called “Critique My Query.” Check it out if you are in the process of writing that all-important query. The information given by editor Marla Miller is essential!

     But the novel, the story, is complete. And that’s what I want to address this month. The importance of just getting the story down. 

     Although I have written fiction before, I have basically been a nonfiction writer the last twenty-five years. A nonfiction writer with a bad habit. That is, I tend to edit my work as I go.

    And that’s not a sin, if you’re a nonfiction writer. After all, it’s important to tweak that lead so you know where the article is going. And oftentimes, you need to fact check things along the way. And thank God for cut and paste! How often have you noticed a source’s quotation fits elsewhere, or one paragraph makes a better transition with another one further down, or you see that the third or fourth paragraph makes for a better opening, or a perfect ending? 

     So revising and editing a piece as I write hasn’t normally been a problem for me. But I also knew that, when writing a creative nonfiction piece, such as an essay, or a fictional story, that stopping the creative flow to check for just the right word, or research a fact, or revise the lead is not good. How did I know this? Because all my literary heroes have told me. Every time I’d read their advice in magazines or books, I could almost feel their slap on my hand! “Just get the story down first,” they’d say. Time and again.

    So I knew it. But I kept doing it anyway.

    That is, until I started this novel. I knew the story wouldn’t flow if I kept interrupting it. But at first, it was like keeping a smoker from lighting up when the pack and lighter is right at their fingertips. And I will shamefully admit that there were times when I’d actually minimize the window and jump right online to research something, like a year, or what my character would most likely be wearing in 1962. I had to, right that minute, find this out before continue writing. But each time I did this, I could feel the sting from my heroes on my hands, and hear them scream, Now stop that! And I knew I had to, if this story was going to continue moving from chapter to chapter.

    So this is what I did: I began to bold or highlight a word or sentence that needed changing or researching, knowing that when the chapter was complete, I’d give myself permission to go back and  make the needed change or addition. *But never during my prime writing time, which for me, is in the morning. So when it came to finding just the right word, or give more detail to that scene, I’d wait for later in the day, or the evening when my husband was busy having his way with his beloved remote controller.

    And it worked beautifully! My story moved on, almost seamlessly. I also kept a notebook to jot down notes for all the changes, details, additions (or subtractions) I wanted to make during the revision process.

    And now I can say, it’s the best advice I’ve probably ever received as a writer. So now I’m passing it on, from one writer to another:

    Just. Get. It. Down! Worry about the other details later!

    There, I feel much better now 🙂

     Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Writing, PennWriters!

     

    Writing About Your Life by Deanna R. Adams

    So my writer friends and I were discussing the topics of memoirs the other day and I was saying how hard it is to be a writer. Particularly when writing the “personal” stuff because you really have to let yourself out there if you’re to write with any kind of emotional depth, which can only come with raw candor—being honest with yourself and your readers. I was telling them how I was at a party soon after my memoir collection, Confessions of a Not-So-Good Catholic Girl, came out, and, without having actually read the book, a woman, a nonwriter, commented on what she’d heard about it. “Yeah, well, I’ve done a lot of things in my day, but I’d never WRITE about it!”

        She didn’t say this meanly, just matter-of-factly.  I forced myself not to respond with, “That’s too bad.” Not meanly, just matter-of-factly.

        Because she doesn’t know what she’s missing.

        Sure, it hurts to write about those events in our lives that still sting, even just a bit. Yet, how cleansing, and rewarding, it feels when we do! This woman’s comment conveys exactly why she is not a writer and demonstrates what set us writers apart, as well as underlines our importance in the world.

        After all, if there weren’t writers to document all the “stuff” that happens to us as human beings, we’d learn nothing about, or from, history. Or from each other. We writers are not only necessary in the world, we got guts, folks. Damn straight.

        Here are a few excellent examples to emphasize my point:

    From Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones: “We all have a dream of telling our stories—of realizing what we think, feel, and see before we die. Writing is a path to meet ourselves and become intimate.”

    From Sue Monk Kidd’s book, The Secret Life of Bees: “Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can’t remember who we are or why we’re here.”

    And finally, this one, from the book Inviting the Wolf In, by Loren Niemi and Elizabeth Ellis: “As much as we need to tell the difficult story, there are those who need to hear it. For many, the fact that these topics might be spoken of, serves as a beacon of hope or reassurance that they are not alone. In a world where families suffer prejudice, economic hardship, illness, accident, and untimely death, listeners need ways to understand and acknowledge their suffering as part of the human experience, not be denied its power or the necessity of their coming to grips with it.”

        So, two years later, am I sorry for anything I revealed in my book? Not at all. I not only have fond memories of sitting many mornings at my keyboard getting the stories down, reminiscing the good— and the not-so-good—adventures, I now have a collection of emails and memories of wonderful voice messages thanking me for writing it, adding that it “made me laugh” or “made me cry” or “I could so relate!” And especially, “You made me think differently about things.”
        Wow. All that, along with a more peaceful mind. Because you see, when you write it out, you no longer possess it, hold it in. It is released to the Writer Gods, who then spread your hard-earned wisdom throughout the world.

        Some people bake pies. Some knit. Some paint . . .

        Others tell stories. Preserve histories.

        And if they do it right, make a profound difference in other people’s lives.

        Pretty cool, huh? How very lucky, and privileged, we are to be writers.