Friday, June 29, 2012

How Do You Get Published?

This is one of super obnoxious chicken and the egg type questions. In an effort to get a book published, authors often run into the wall of platform and previous works.
Agents and publishers want to know that you have an audience. That people like your work. That you actually already know how to write. You know, the stuff you put in that all important Bio part of the query letter.

 In other words to get published, you have to already be published.

There's always the slush pile. You can get picked out of inbox sitting on an editor or agents desk. It happened to me. This is one of those lightning striking kind of things though. Right place, right time, bottle ready to catch that lightning.

But there is another way grasshoppers. Build up your credentials. Enter Contests, start a super popular blog (I clearly do not have the machanics down on this one yet), submit short stories and essays to magazines, find places on the web looking for content writers.

Today I'm going to plug the first option: Contests.  One in particular.
Mormon Mommy Writers blog is having a contest. We are looking for personal essays, short stories, poems,  haiku, limmericks (just kidding), but you get the idea. The subject pertains to the title of our blog. Mormons, Mommies, and Writers. Write about one or all. You don't even have to be a Mormon or a Mommy to enter. Just a writer. Winners and honorable mentions will be published in an anthology.
Mormon Mommy Writers

So enter hopeful writers. What do you have to lose. Nothing. What do you have to gain. A publication credit. Something to put on that bio section.

Good luck! For more contest info use the above link. Submissions must be received by July 31. And yes, I am one of the judges.

Friday, June 22, 2012

De-sensitivity Training for the Zombie Apocalypse

Be forewarned. I am in a ranty mood today. Ranted on my other blog too. Ranting is good for the soul :p

Unless you've already hidden yourself in a bomb shelter, you probably are aware of the so called Zombie Apocalypse.  The rash of odd cannibal stories in the news. The homeless guy eating the face off another man in Florida. The Canadian Pornstar Psycho that killed his lover, taped it, did awful things to him post mortem, then ate him and mailed pieces all over Canada and uploaded the video of the whole thing on the internet.

It's the last instance that disturbs me to the core.  Not mainly the acts described above.  While horrifying and unconscionable, it's still just one psycho. No, what keeps me up at night is what happened after.

A high school teacher in Canada thought it would be a good idea to screen this psycho's little pornagraphic snuff film for his students. The fact that young minds were subjected to the atrocities that this man committed is horrible. Even worse, were the students reactions themselves.

After watching the killer perform sex acts on the corpse, eat him, then dismember him, one student said, "It was bad... yeah. But I've seen worse in the movies."

AHHH! What the heck? What are we saying when the movies are showing things equal to these real life horrors. And worse, that these kids cannot emotional tell the difference between watching a scripted show with red cornsyrup and CGI, and a real psychopath killing a real person who had a real soul with a real family.

So people, don't spend your time worrying about the Zombie Apocalypse. If this de-sensitivity to violence continues, we will have much bigger problems to worry about.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Tut, Tut, looks like rain

One of the writer's in my critique group posed a question the other day. She was having trouble with character dialogue.All of her characters sound the same. She said, If it's going to rain, wouldn't the character just say that.  "It's going to rain. Or it's raining"No matter who they were.

The answer of course is...bzzzz... wrong.  If every character had the same way of phrasing something, there would be no character at all. Here are a few examples.

"Tut, Tut, looks like rain"- Winnie-the -Pooh

"The nicest thing about rain is that it always stops. Eventually." - Eeyore

"There's a storm blowin' up - a whopper, to speak in the vernacular of the peasantry" Professor Marvel, Wizard of OZ

"My breasts can always tell when its going to rain" Karen on Mean Girls

You get my drift. Characters are interesting and memorable because they have interesting and memorable things to say. A person is 3 dimensional, with a past and personality that colors their word choice.

Here's an exercise. Your character needs to say they're hungry.

Pooh would say "I've got a rumbly in my tumbly."

How would a colonist from space say it?

A Farmer?

An 11 yr old?

Have fun and be creative!!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Facebook Faux Pas

Lately, Facebook has been driving me nuts. I decided to take a moment and post my thoughts on some good rules to follow when you're using Facebook.
Especially if you are using it as a public figure, like an author, actress, etc.

First off, I've seen so many people posting big long privacy notices in an attempt to keep their pictures and their information private. Here's a little internet tip: Once you post something on the Internet, it's no longer private. Even if you delete it, it's never really gone. It's out there... somewhere. That's why, if you really don't want the whole entire world to see that picture of you from Friday night's excess... don't post it.

And in that theme, be careful what you say. Often times we spout off in the heat of the moment, but those moments can be really hard to take back. Someone may have copied and pasted, quoted, or otherwise used your words. So watch em.

In particular, hot button issues like politics and religion. Posting endless streams of propaganda against a political opponent is annoying, offensive, and oftentimes just plain incorrect. It's my personal opinion the FB is not really the right forum for this. There's enough spin on the news networks without adding it to FB. In particular, with elections coming up. A sure way to alienate friends. I will admit to unfriending more than one person after 20 daily political status updates.

FB can be a powerful marketing tool. That being said, it is not our personal infomercial. If you treat it as such, what are people going to do? Same thing we do with real commercials, change the channel. Use self promotion sparingly, like a garnish as opposed to the main dish.

A personal pet peeve of mine? Telling everyone how great you are. In every post. How your own book makes you crack up. Or cry. Or even worse... Regularly quoting bits of fan mail that claim you're a better author than JK Rowling. If the work is good, it will stand for itself. You don't need to toot your own horn day and night. Your lips will get tired.

Be genuine. Be yourself. Be aware that other people having things to share too. Comment and participate in their lives as well. In the end, if you're dismayed about a post gone wrong, nobody liking your status, or feeling overwhelmed -- remember that's it's just Facebook. Not rocket science. In the end what matters most are things in your life that are offline. Your kids, spouse, family... You know, you're real life. ;)

PS. Emoticons are a necessary evil ;p