Monday, January 24, 2011

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award

For anyone who has a completed manuscript and likes to enter contests, Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award might be of interest to you.

The contest started last night at midnight and will run until Feb. 6th OR until they receive 5,000 entries in each of the two categories.

I have no idea if those 5,000 will fill up quick, but I wouldn't risk it if I were you and had a finished novel you thought had a decent chance. The prize is awesome. I haven't decided yet if I'm entering. I feel I need a bit more time to work on my novel but then again, don't we all?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Tunnel Vision

Sometimes imaginative people display behavior similar to that of people with ADD. I know I do. I'm easily distracted by something that has 'scope for the imagination' (as Anne of Green Gables would say).

But I've realized recently writers can often get the opposite of ADD, and it's because of their creativity: tunnel vision.

Tunnel vision is like looking through a paper-towel tube: you don't see anything on the sides. You only see what's right in front of you. For focus, that's a good thing. Focus on our writing is great. It keeps us going and helps drag us through writer's block, writer's angst and those I-has-a-dumb days.

But extra super focus on writing happens often as well. As Sara King put it on her blog, the opposite of ADD: Interrupt Me And Receive A Spoon Through The Eye.

Life is what we write about. We need to live it.
Tunnel vision is great for focusing on something that needs to get done. But make sure you have someone around to snap you out of it.

Someone once asked me "So what do you like to do other than writing?" and I hadn't a clue. That's when I realized I needed to put away my writing more often and get out.
It almost seems like there should be an annual holiday when writer's abstain from writing anything, even e-mails. *shudder* That sounds impossible challenging.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Story Bible

Some writers like to keep track of the information and ideas behind the scenes of their novel in a story bible.

A story bible can consist of anything relevant to the story. Maps drawn on napkins, outlines, chapter bullet points, character charts and art, a to-do list of everything that each chapter needs to accomplish, etc.

I've been trying for awhile now to search for ideas of how other people put their story bibles together. But due to the generic nature of the words 'story bible' it's time consuming to wade through all the entries of 'Children's Story Bible' and such.

But I was finally able to find some good posts on story bibles and what works.


From the Write Thing
From Nathan Bransford
From Catherine, Caffeinated

Have any other cool links about story bibles? Post 'em in the comments!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Different Hats

I was reading a book last night. It was one of the many books I have about the craft of writing and I hadn't picked it up in awhile. When I started reading, I was surprised to find I had not even read it yet. So I hunkered down in my big bowl chair with the cat and was surprised even further: this book was about how to write non-fiction.

When did I buy a book about non-fiction? All I write is fiction. Non-fiction is my day job as a technical writer.

But for some odd reason I kept reading. I even read the introduction. It was then I realized this book was great advice for writers of all genres.
It's called "Thinking Like Your Editor". I found it useful to me in a way that other writing books about how to write fiction have not been: it focuses on the business side of writing.

Sure, I've read fiction advice books that give some aspect of the business side of writing. But none of them seem to be so applicable and have the edge that this one does. So I read on.

It seemed like every page was saying something like "When I worked as an editor for x number of years..." or "When I was an agent for x number of years..." It sounded like this person had worn every hat in the publishing business. She even talked about how she envies bookstore workers (the one thing she hasn't done) for getting to work so closely with the reading community.

I realized there are so many different ways to get involved in the publishing industry, and no one has to be limited to just one thing. Writers can become agents, agents can become writers, editors can become writers, etc.

And I finally felt like I was allowed to dare to think that perhaps someday I might be more than just a writer as well. I've always thought it would be awesome to be an agent. Or an editor. Or maybe even a bookstore owner. To me, all those jobs sound like they're the same thing: Get paid to read books. How could that not be awesome?

Just for fun, pretend you have your pick of any job in the publishing industry. What would you be? Do you ever dream of owning your own bookstore? Of being an agent? Of being an assistant to someone in the publishing business? Or is becoming a published writer enough of an ambition right now?