Monday, August 26, 2013


How do you label an accomplishment? There are the obvious ones: Score a great agent, get a book deal, etc. But there are also smaller milestones. We have to celebrate them all (preferably with chocolate). Of course you already know how amazing it is if you finish writing a book. Not everyone can or has done that (it just feels that way because we all congregate together LOL). 

Since I had my wonderful little angel just over a year ago I've had to rearrange my "hours" a bit. But I didn't stress too much over it because I KNEW I had to write. That I wasn't giving it up. It's so much a part of me that I wouldn't be a whole person without it, and she deserves a whole mom. 

Obviously though I couldn't do the full time thing anymore. X hours of reading, writing, and social media. Something had to give. But how did I decide? And when did I fit it in? 

Sometimes I don't, plain and simple. Sometimes I have to postpone my goal. But I try to make those daily goals small enough that they aren't impossible, that I can make them up fairly quickly if I have to, and most of all that I feel that I've truly accomplished something. 

It can be as small as writing this blog post. Let me give you some more examples of smaller things you can do and count it as a win (some have to do with where you are of course):

  • query an agent you've been researching
  • submit to a small publisher
  • write a thousand words (or some other specific goal in line with your own process).
  • revise a chapter
  • do a critique
  • reply to all your blog comments
All of these things deserve a pat on the back. And the more you do that? The better you feel about your writer self. The only downside? You might end up eating too much chocolate. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

How Important is the Writing Itself?

We talk all the time about character, plot and world. But I was thinking about the last bunch of books I read and wondering about what it was that made the difference for me between LOVE IT and EH. What I realized surprised me. If the writing itself was beautiful and seamless I was able to dive into the story and characters and world so much easier. If there were simple errors that I've been taught I should avoid in my own work, I had a harder time and found myself pulled out and ultimately enjoyed it less. 

Here are just a few tips for things to look for when you revise that might make the difference for your reader:

  • Avoid cliches. Particularly when using comparisons like metaphors. I know it's tough, but time spent thinking of fresh ways to say things really goes a long way.
  • Vary sentence and paragraph structure. Don't start every line with I. Make sure the page is a mix of dialogue and description. It makes a difference!
  • Don't repeat yourself. Find the best, most unique way to say something and trust us to get it. If it's important, spend more time and detail on it than other places. 
  • Lose the helping verbs. Don't be passive. Make everything you can active and in the moment. She had followed the footsteps should be She followed the footsteps. 
  • Search and destroy. Find the words you use too much, locate superfluous adverbs and adjectives and see if they are needed. If there are two or more in one place, pick one. 
Will you miss some things? Heck yeah! You're human and that's why we have other eyes besides our own looking at our work. But we should get our work in it's best form before putting it out there. It's worth the effort. 

What distracts you about writing when you're reading a book?

Monday, August 12, 2013

So Many Blogs So Little Time

So today it's my turn on Scene13! I'd love it if you'd stop by and join the conversation there. *bats eyelashes*

In the meantime I will leave you with some quotes from Oscar Wilde:

“The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.” 

“It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it.” 

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” 

And finally:

“I am so clever that sometimes I don't understand a single word of what I am saying.” 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Jan Lewis on Writer's Spreadsheets

Today I am handing control over to the amazing Jan Lewis who most of you probably know from Adventures in Children's and YA Publishing. Take it away, Jan!

When Lisa first asked me to guest post, I jumped at the chance. Then, I was like "uh-oh". I've never done a guest post before and had NO idea what to write about. Then my friend Martina reminded me that I should write what I know. So what do I know? Spreadsheets. I am the spreadsheet queen. I use them for anything and everything. So, today I'm going to share with you a couple of ways that I use spreadsheets.
Photo by CraigMoulding on Flickr
1. Blog Organization The most important way I use spreadsheets is to organize things for Adventures in YA Publishing. As the Scheduling and Contest Coordinator (sounds official, right?), I use spreadsheets on a daily basis to keep myself organized. The blog post schedule has its own spreadsheet with monthly tabs, so when I'm trying to schedule a new author, I can find our availability quickly. I keep the contact info for each scheduled author on the spreadsheet as well, so if I need to send a reminder email, I don't have to go looking through the inbox for it. I also have a spreadsheet where I keep track on Agent contact info and records of past participation for our agent round-up posts and contests. Again, this is way easier for me than weeding through emails, websites, and blog posts to find what I need.

2. Agent Tracking For any aspiring author, a spreadsheet of agent contact info would be an excellent tool for querying. Example column headings could include: Agent, Agency, Genres Accepted, Submission Guidelines, Average Response Time, Date Queried, Response. Or anything else that is relevant to your agent search. You can download the Agent Tracker I created for myself. Here are some great links where you can find info on agents and what they're looking for: QueryTracker Agent Query ConnectLiterary Rambles On my spreadsheet, I also included a "Wishlist" column. There's an interesting Tumblr that pulls Tweets posted by agents with their Manuscript Wish Lists. And of course, you can always check out our Agent Roundup posts on Adventures in YA Publishing for some insight into what agents are looking for: July Agent Roundup May Agent Roundup February Agent Roundup

I hope that you can use these ideas to make your writing life simpler and more organized. I'll be posting more spreadsheet ideas on Adventures in YA Publishing in the next few months, so be sure to keep an eye out! If you have any questions, please ask in the comments, and I will definitely answer to the best of my ability. Or if you have a use for spreadsheets that I didn't mention, please tell us about it. I'm always looking for new ways to use them!

Bio: Jan Lewis is the Scheduling and Contest Coordinator at Adventures in YA Publishing. She writes YA fantasy of the contemporary and traditional varieties. Instead of unpublished, she prefers to call herself pre-published. While she enjoys drafting, her heart is truly in rewriting and editing. In the past, she may or may not have been called a "Grammar Nazi." She loves spreadsheets, ladybugs, fairies, blue roses, cats, musical theater, and pretty much all things geek. She lives in Oklahoma with a husband, two kids, two cats, a dog, and a mother. You can find Jan on Twitter at @janlewis77.