Dramaquill's All Things Writing

October 11, 2014

The Collapse of my digital publisher – what should I do?

During the summer, my digital publisher of my suspense novel, When Love Won’t Die, disappeared. The website disappeared. Messages to the CEO (both phone and email) unanswered. My book vanished from Amazon, B&N, RRP and all the other sites where it was being sold.

Still no correspondence from the publisher and no formal announcement as to the status of the company.

My contract states that if the website goes down for anything other than technical reasons and if the publisher appears to no longer be in business, then all rights revert back to the author…me.

So what to do next?

What do my loyal readers think I should do?

1. Query agents
2. Re-sub my book to other publishers
3. Self-publish my original book and query agents and/or
publishers for my sequel and other suspense novel?
4. Hold off until I hear something from my publisher

I’d love to hear what you think as I continue to ponder my next steps.

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October 1, 2013

Free Newsletters for Writers

Just thought I’d post a few links to newsletters (ezines) that I’ve found useful over the years…

Writer’s Weekly – http://www.writersweekly.com/

Writer’s Digest – http://www.writersdigest.com/subscribe/free-weekly-newsletter

Funds for Writers – http://www.fundsforwriters.com/newsletters/

Worldwide Freelance – http://www.worldwidefreelance.com/newsletter/

Writing World – http://www.writing-world.com/newsletter/index.shtml

Wow – http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/

Enjoy!

July 3, 2013

What Distracts You from Writing?

My little Distraction

My little Distraction

Meet Molly, my little distraction!

If Molly had her way, I’d be on call for her amusement 24/7.  Feed me…play with me…walk me…cuddle me!

So how do I resist this little dollie when I have some serious writing work to get done?

I bought a cute little doggie bed that I keep right beside my computer desk and chair, nestled into a little nook at the side of the desk.  Molly curls up and snuggles in her cozy space while I get my work done.  I’m close enough to rub her belly or give her a scratch and she seems to like our new *together* time.

What distracts you from your writing?

December 31, 2012

Top Ten Distractions that keep me from Writing

I love the internet!  I love all the information that is so easily accessible.  I love that it no longer matters where a writer is located in order to find a publisher or agent.  And I especially love making new connections and discovering new writers/new books.  Yes, I love social media, too.

But it seems that there are more and more distractions that can steal my precious writing time.  Here’s my list of the top ten things that distract me from writing:

  1. Facebook (not the writing-related pages but the updates…the games…you know what I mean)
  2. Email (why do I feel the urge to check it so often?)
  3. Surfing (one Google search leads to another and soon an hour has gone by)
  4. Phone calls (working at home definitely means screening calls)
  5. Having a full-time job (obviously making a living has to take priority over writing)
  6. TV (do I really need to watch most of the dumb stuff on the tube?)
  7. Researching (from markets to freelance jobs to info. for my next book, this can really eat up a lot of time)
  8. Cooking/cleaning/laundry (if only I could afford a maid LOL)
  9. Reading (but I do feel that this distraction is necessary for all writers)
  10. Too many projects at once (I get a lot more done if I focus on one thing at a time)

What’s your biggest distraction that keeps you from writing?

July 17, 2012

Will Anybody Want to Read my Sequel?

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As I continue to struggle with creating any form of decent writing, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the projects I’m currently avoiding.  My biggest avoidance at the moment is the sequel to my first suspense novel.  This is a book that I’m very passionate about finishing.  My characters need me to let them tell the rest of their story.

And yet, as each day goes by, I do not write anything.

The other night I sat down to watch Bunheads, a new Amy Sherman-Palladino series on ABC Spark.  I was drawn to the show for several reasons.  Amy created The Gilmore Girls, one of my  all-time favorite shows.  Amy’s dialogue is snappy and her characters embrace uniqueness.  One of the leads in the series is Fanny, played by Kelly Bishop, formerly Emily Gilmore of Gilmore Girls fame.  The studio that I co-own teaches ballet and pointe and a variety of other dance classes.

I knew I’d love this show.

As of last night, I’ve now seen five episodes of Bunheads.  Much to my surprise, I’m not really loving it.  Although it contains the same type of quirky characters and quippy dialogue, it somehow plays like a poor second cousin to Palladino’s Gilmore Girls.  I’m hoping, with time, that it will find its way into my heart, but it’s going to take work.  I don’t know how much longer I’ll hang in.

That got me to thinking about my sequel.

My first suspense novel, “When Love Won’t Die”, has been very well received.  I’ve had lots of great reviews and just as many inquiries as to the status of the sequel.  Most of my followers can’t wait to get their hands on the next book.

But what if it’s a poor second cousin to the first book?

What if people don’t really like it?

I know what you’re probably thinking.  Bunheads and “When Love Won’t Die” are completely different.  Obviously one’s a TV show and one’s a book.  But they do have something in common.  They are both another product of their creator.  They are both going to be compared to other works by the same author.

So do I quit writing the sequel for fear it won’t be as good as the first book?  Will anybody want to read my sequel?

Yes, I really do believe they will.

Why?

Because I’m going to make sure that the writing is even better than the first book.  I’m using many of the same characters, but for those who have read “When Love Won’t Die”, they will see more complex, interweaving sub-plots and lots of character development.

Bunheads isn’t a sequel to the Gilmore Girls.  Unfortunately, many viewers will compare Kelly’s Fanny character to Emily Gilmore and the new young lead, Michelle, to Lorelei.  I know I have. But they shouldn’t.  This is a new series.  It’s not a sequel to anything.  Maybe I don’t really like it because it doesn’t revisit Stars Hollow and all the quirky characters I grew to love during the Gilmore’s seven year run.

So what has all of this taught me?

Once your stuff is out there, you develop a following.  Your readers will be inclined to compare your books to each other.  I don’t want to disappoint them.  Maybe that’s why I haven’t been able to work on my sequel. 

Or maybe, I just have to stop thinking so much and get my butt in the chair and write something…anything.  Finish the darn book! 

Amy Sherman-Palladino isn’t sitting around wondering whether or not she should create another series.  When The Wyoming Project didn’t make it into the 2010-2011 TV schedule, Palladino went on and created Bunheads.

Will anybody want to read my sequel?

I’ll never know if I don’t finish it. 

Do you have a project that you’re avoiding?  Join me and let’s finish them together.

To find out more about Amy Sherman-Palladino, read this article:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amy_Sherman-Palladino

To find out more about her new series, Bunheads,follow this link: http://abcfamily.go.com/shows/bunheads/

To purchase “When Love Won’t Die”, check out the following sites:
http://www.amazon.com/When-Love-Wont-Die-ebook/dp/B004AYD6YE

http://redrosepublishing.com/books/product_info.php?products_id=649
http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/When-Love-Wont-Die/book-p2VHGKHWAE6biZdRsFV_tA/page1.html

April 22, 2012

Don’t be a Loner: My cure for Writer’s Block

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There have been times when I’ve been working on one of my manuscripts and I just can’t seem to produce ten coherent words.  Yep – that dreaded writer’s block!

Writer’s block used to panic me.  What if I never get any more ideas?  What if my writing ability has dried up?  I’m sure you’ve all been there at some time or other.

For the most part, writing is a solitary activity, unless you happen to be collaborating with another writer on a project.  But let’s face it, most of a writer’s working time is spent alone.

All that alone time is great when your creative juices are flowing but it can become pretty debilitating when the words stop coming.  Yes, you can get up and move around.  You can check your email, make a snack, phone a friend or do a million other things to get you back on track.  None of these have ever worked for me.  All it does it take me further away from figuring out how to get back to writing.

But, if I talk to another writer, whether in an email from my online critique group, or in person with another local writer, it doesn’t take long before I’m excited to get back to one of my projects. 

Just the other day, I opened up the file for my second suspense novel and realized that I’ve hit a brick wall.  I haven’t been able to spend as much time working on it these past few months and the entire story has just stalled.  I really need to finish it and submit it to my publisher by summer. 

Then, yesterday, I had a great conversation with an author I know who is on her fifth revision of her first novel.  A ten minute conversation and I could hardly wait to get home and get writing.  Just ten minutes and my writer’s battery recharged.

This isn’t the first time that connecting with another writer has inspired me.  I cherish my online critique group.  Every time I feel sidetracked or wonder if I’ll ever write another intelligent word, I just need to interact with these writers for a bit and wham – writer’s block gone!

And it usually isn’t a conversation about me, my writing or even writer’s block that gets me going again.  It could be an email that one of the group just got picked up by an agent.  Perhaps it’s a fabulous chapter, written by someone in the group, that I have to critique.  It could even be the mention of a new contest or opportunity that might be of interest to someone in the group.

All I know is that the quickest way for me to get out of my own writer’s block is to connect with another writer.

How do you handle your periods of writer’s block?

April 3, 2012

Writing and Competitive Sports

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The other morning, reading through several popular writing ezines, I got somewhat caught up in  the guidelines for many upcoming writing contests, which got me to thinking about writing in a new way.

As writers, we are constantly competing for our chance to be published – our “win”, so to speak.  Winning a contest is somewhat like winning a sporting championship, isn’t it? 

Sports team coaches drill their players on skills and techniques that will ultimately make them stronger, better players and therefore, a more successful team.  Writers hone their skills and techniques in order to become better wordsmiths who can produce stronger, more saleable manuscripts.

For both, the ultimate prize is the win!

Writers have to compete with one another all the time for everything from pieces in magazines and newspapers to contracts with agents and publishers.  To me, winning an acceptance for publication is akin to winning a sports championship.  Exhilarating and satisfying.

To succeed, both the team sport player and the writer do several things:

1.      Make their activity a priority
2.      Constantly work on improving their skills and techniques
3.      Seek out opportunities for learning new things
4.      Enter competitions
5.      Look to mentors for coaching and critiquing
6.      Expect nothing less than their best

I was never very good at competitive sports.  I think I’m doing much better as a writer.

Do you treat your writing like a competitive sport? 

Are you doing everything you can to be the best you can be?

March 27, 2012

Every Writer Should Have a Web Presence

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It’s common knowledge that in this high tech computer age, every writer should have a web presence. 

Don’t know how?

There are some very easy (and free) ways to get page online:

1.      Start a writing blog  (I recommend WordPress) 

2.      Make a separate Facebook Page as your “writing” page or even a separate page for each of”
          your books if you have published books to your credit

3.      Get a twitter account.  Follow other writers and publishers.  Tweet regularly to develop a
          following.

4.      Have an actual writer’s page under your name.  (I am lucky enough to own a business that
          has a website so I just created a page titled JACQUELINE MCMAHON and have my writing
          credits etc. online there.  My business already pays for the site hosting so there’s no
          additional cost to me)
          http://www.slightlyoffbroadway.com/jacquelinemcmahon.htm

5.      Join other sites for writers like: 
          She writes  (www.shewrites.com)
          Jacketflap  (www.jacketflap.com)
          Redroom    (www.redroom.com)

6.      Buy your domain name and pay to have the site hosted.  (Check out this site of reviews
         before choosing a web host:  http://www.webhostingreviews.com/)

7.      Actively comment in writers’ chat rooms, on writers’ blogs and through social media.

8.      Add any book urls to the signature line in ALL emails that you send.

These are some of the more popular ways any writer can develop a web presence.  Now, what are you waiting for?  Get out there and get online.

February 15, 2012

Heroines and Villains in suspense novels

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One of the things I love most about suspense novels is the interaction between the heroine and the villain.  I love feeling the goosebumps appear when I know the villain is hiding and the heroine charges madly into the situation.  I cringe at the villain’s inner thoughts and wish I could warn the heroine somehow.

What do you think makes a good villain?

What makes a great heroine?

Here’s my list…

GREAT VILLAINS
1.    Some form of weakness that hinders them in some way
2.    A strong motivation for what they are about to do
3.    More dimension as a character than just being a villain
4.    Some small tidbit of backstory that perhaps asks for just a teensy bit of empathy

GREAT HEROINES
1.    The ability to be strong when/if necessary
2.    Not a damsel-in-distress
3.    A character who reads like someone the reader could have as a friend
4.    Someone who sets a good example as a woman
5.    A soft side

Who are your favorite heroine/villain pairs?  Two of mine are:
1.    Annie and Paul (Misery)
2.    Clarice and Hannibal (Silence of the Lambs)

Please feel free to comment.  As a writer, I’d love to know what makes readers like certain heroines and also which villains creep them out the most.

January 30, 2012

Visiting the classroom as a Guest Author

I was invited to speak to two classes of children (included 4th, 5th and 6th grade students) for literacy week.  The principal invited local published authors to speak to the kids about what it’s like to be a writer.

I’ve never enjoyed giving a speech.  The thought of being up there alone, and as myself, doesn’t paint a very interesting picture in my mind.  Let me recite a monologue as a fabulous literary character from a great work of fiction, and that excites me.

So how was I going to interest these young minds in two areas that many admitted they didn’t really enjoy doing:  reading and writing.

Instead of giving a speech and trying to figure out how to make them listen to me ramble on about my thoughts on being a writer, I turned the tables to them and started my presentation by asking them some questions:

1.    What makes a book interesting enough for you to want to read it?

2.    What types of characters do you enjoy?

3.    What kinds of stories interest you?

4.    What turns you off in a book?

The enthusiastic hand waving instantly got us talking.  Even those kids who said they really didn’t like to read much had comments on what types of stories they would prefer if they did have to read a book.

Next, I presented them with this question:

Have you ever read a story and wished you could have changed it?

This engaged even more enthusiasm as student after student offered their imaginative ways to improve upon stories they’d read.  They got excited when I told them that being a writer meant that they could make the story be whatever they wanted.  The characters would be designed by their imaginations.  Eager hands raised and creative ideas flowed as students, guest writer and teacher all engaged in the excitement of the writing process.

Finally, I offered a way to prompt them on starting a story.  I asked them all to close their eyes and ask themselves this question…What if? 

What if when I went to sleep tonight…
What if my lunch box was filled with…
What if the teacher could…
What if the stairs at school turned into jello…
What if I could draw something and it would come to life and…

Now the students were really excited and wanted to write their own *what if* story.

I also showed them some of the magazines, anthologies and market books I’ve had work published in and talked to them a little about what it takes to write an entire book and the process required to get it published.  They seemed most impressed with the fact that something that they could create could actually earn them some money as a career someday.

I hope that my visit helped convince many of them to enter the writing contest being held in our city next month.  I do know that I definitely helped them get a jump-start on tapping into their own creative ideas.

But the best part of the visit was watching them get excited about reading and writing. 

As a writer, what do you do to inspire those around you?

Free Ezines for Writers

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One of the things I most enjoy about checking my email every day is finding a copy of one of the many *free* ezines that I subscribe to in my inbox.  It’s amazing how much free info. is there for the taking, offered up by some of today’s most respected individuals in the business. 

I’d like to share some of my favorites with my readers.  Most simply require a sign-up with your email address and that’s it.  No spamming…just access to great information.  Enjoy!  

http://www.fundsforwriters.com/FFWnewsletters.htm

http://www.writersweekly.com

http://www.writersdigest.com/subscribe/free-weekly-newsletter

http://www.writersmarket.com   (fill in sign-up box for FREE newsletter)

http://www.write4kids.com   (ezine link at very bottom of webpage)

http://www.writing-world.com/newsletter/index.shtml

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/freebiesforwriters/

I would have to say that the first four links are my all-time favorites, but any of the above ezines can provide excellent insight into this biz we call writing.

January 10, 2012

Sometimes you need to Step Away to Recharge

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December can be a tricky month for anyone who celebrates the holidays.  There are gifts to buy, baking to do, cleaning for company and extra social events to attend.  When’s a writer supposed to find time to write?

I’ve been beating myself up about not getting any writing done since Nano ended on November 30th.  But as it turns out, it really wasn’t a bad thing after all.  I only wish I hadn’t allowed myself to stress out about it so much!

Now that the Christmas tree and decorations are all back in storage in the basement and the last remnants of holiday treats have been eaten, I find myself experiencing a new-found energy and creativity.  I’m reading writing blogs, ezines and books.  I’m plotting and planning.  But most of all – I’m writing again.

As it turns out, sometimes you need to step away to Recharge.

How did you fare as a writer celebrating the holidays?  Did you stay on track, or let things fall a bit by the wayside like I did?

January 10, 2012 – recharged and ready for writing!

December 6, 2011

Nanowrimo aftermath

 
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Well it’s been nearly a week since Nanowrimo (the national novel writing month) ended and participation in the event has given many writers a rough draft of a new book or at least several thousand words toward such a project.

Did I win by writing 50,000 words?  Nope!  But I still won by participating.

Nanowrimo forced me to get back to working on my sequel suspense novel and because of the discipline of having to write something every day in November, I now have some 17,000 more words added to my book and a much clearer understanding of not only my ending, but also the areas I will now revise and rewrite to make the book its best.

Did I participate in Nano this year in hopes of finally winning with 50,000?  A part of me would have liked to have achieved such a lofty goal.

Am I disappointed that I didn’t cross the perverbial finish line so to speak?  Absolutely not!

All writers know that writing is a solitary job.  Having the discipline to stick with a long project like a book manuscript requires isolation from others (both online and off) and a real commitment to sitting down and fleshing out the story.  With all of life’s distractions, getting ample time to finish such a project can be extremely difficult.  Nanowrimo provides just the push that I need, especially at a time of year when life is busier with the impending holiday celebrations.

Thanks Nanowrimo for another great year!  You kick-started my first novel which definitely helped me on the road to having it published.  Hopefully, my sequel won’t be far behind.

November 3, 2011

Kindlegraph – how to personalize your ebook

 
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My publisher posted this information a while back and I finally had the chance to check it out.

If you have an ebook and want to be able to autograph it for your readers, you can do just that if your book is offered on Amazon. It’s called a Kindlegraph.

Here’s the link to my book, “When Love Won’t Die”:
http://kindlegraph.com/authors/dramaquill

To find out more about Kindlegraph, check out this link:
http://kindlegraph.com/about

Note:  Right now, this autograph only works if you have a Kindle e-reader.

November 2, 2011

Nanowrimo…And we’re off

 
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November is Nanowrimo month – a time where published and aspiring novelists vow to write approximately 1600 words/day for the entire month of November.

What’s the payoff?

Fifty-thousand words in a month’s time. This can be a great start to a new novel or the chance to complete a book that’s already been started.

I fell a little short of my goals yesterday with 1,163 words on my suspense novel, Amorous Obsession, but I did a lot of planning/plotting so I’m still happy with my progress.

And…I also wrote a few more pages on my pirate musical (sadly they don’t count in my Nano total LOL)

To participate in all the action:
http://www.nanowrimo.org

Happy writing!

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