Posts Tagged With: writing help

What I Learned from Bestselling Author Mary Buckham

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My RWA chapter hosted its annual conference a couple of weeks ago in Columbus, Ohio. Putting my school studies on hold for that weekend, I decided to make the trip up. It turns out that the conference was actually a day-long workshop, featuring author Mary Buckham.

Before attending the workshop, I’d had never heard of Mary Buckham. Call it ignorance, or just call it I’m still learning about writing world and everyone within it. I quickly learned that she is a USA Today bestselling author. She mainly writes high-concept urban fantasy and romantic suspense stories, resulting from her years of travel and curiosity about different cultures. She also writes books on how to get published, as well as crafting great stories – which was the focus of her presentation.

Mary touched on three important things during her presentation, which any writer could benefit from:

  1. Body Language – a great way to convey emotion without words, and all characters in a story should use this; so should writers when they want to convey emotion to the readers. Mary discussed the origins of body language and the different ways it can be used show emotions in a scene.

“As writers you can lead a reader into a deeper understanding of a scene, or a character, if you understand how you can, and cannot, use body signals to say what you mean.” – Mary Buckham.

2. Writing Active Hooks  – every story needs to have hooks. Something to draw the reader in. A situation that raises questions, which will make the reader keep turning the pages. Mary showed the audience different scenarios in which hooks can be generated, such as humor and overpowering emotion. Each of the categories featured specific examples from bestselling authors. The most important piece I learned from this is a hook must be present within the first three pages of a story, or else it will be rejected by an editor.

3. Character Development – we went much deeper into this since character development is so subjective. Mary had everyone work in groups where we had to list four adjectives that describe our characters. We exchanged our lists with other groups, where we then listed the opposite of list of character descriptions. Pretty clever idea, Mary! She wrapped up this part stating that characters need to be fully developed in order for readers to care about them.

After the workshop, I had dinner with Mary, as well as several attendees. We talked about my stories, and she offered suggestions on how to approach potential publishers. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Mary Buckham, and benefited from her presentation. It was certainly worth the two-hour drive and sacrificing my weekend. I just only hope I will see her again at some point in the future. Click on the link above to visit her official website.

Categories: Writing & Inspiration | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Why I Don’t Write Full-Time

Deskwork

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything on my blog, so I thought I would share this. Actually, I had intended to post this earlier, but well…that just didn’t happen. Anyway, I love writing. It gives me a rush, a reason for living, and a sense of contributing something special to the rest of the world. But as much as I love it, I would never quit my day job and pursue it full time. Sure I probably would have written and published four books by now, but the sacrifices I would’ve had to make aren’t worth it. I’m not dissing full-time writers out there. I have so many writing friends that do it, so I take my sombrero off to them. I’m just saying that it ain’t for me. And here’s why:

  1. I love my job – I’m a grad student and a part-time teacher. Soon I will be a college professor. I love what I do and the people I work with. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
  2. Computer time – I simply can’t stare at a screen while I hit the keyboard for eight to nine hours a day, everyday. I need variety. I need to get out, get exercise, and enjoy this wonderful place we call Earth. After all, I won’t be here forever.
  3. Don’t want to give up everything else – I play soccer, volunteer, hike, ski, etc. If I became a full-time writer, I’d have to give up some, if not all of these precious things I love dearly. And that ain’t gonna happen consarn it!
  4. Relying on loyalties for income – Many writers make enough on these to live the same life they did when they were working full time. However, your income isn’t always certain. You can have good months and bad months in terms of sales, and sometimes you need some extra funds to offset those “cloudy days”. I just wouldn’t be comfortable having to deal with uncertain income. I had enough of that when I was a travel agent.
  5. I’m in no rush to become a bestseller – I may never even become one! But that’s OK. Even if it takes me another few years before I get my first book out there, I’m happy with the pace I’m following. It’s what works best for me, and I don’t want to change that.
Categories: Writing & Inspiration | Tags: , , , ,

Why I am Going to Hire an Editor

Deskwork

Well, it’s been awhile since I posted anything. Then I thought of something, which I’d been thinking over the holidays. When my stories are finished and self-edited, I intend to hire a professional editor. When I first began writing, someone told me, “We fall in love with our words, and never know how our stories look until someone else reads them.” That person was right. No matter how many times we rewrite scenes, we get so attached to our choice of verbs, nouns and adjectives that we forget that other people will eventually read our stories.

Some authors choose not to consult editors; they’re expensive and some are not as credible as they claim to be. Traditionally published authors don’t have to worry about this, since their publishers have editors. Indie authors, however, don’t have this luxury. They should hire an editor, since they are on their own with getting their book out there. I happen to be going down the indie path.

I debated hiring an editor until recently. I’ve been reading a short story by an author friend whose name shall remain anonymous. This author has self-published two stories and is working on a third. The author also told me they did not go through an editor. As I’ve been reading the story it’s obvious that an editor was not used. There is more telling than showing, as well as grammatical errors, which could’ve been caught by an editor. Furthermore, I found some reviews that noted these weaknesses. I have concluded that I don’t want to end up in this situation. It’s worth the time and money to get your story professionally polished. Hence, I am going to use an editor.

But that’s not the only reason I will use an editor. Other reasons include the following:

  • I need a second opinion
  • I want my stories to be the best they can be
  • No matter how many times I self-edit, there will be errors that I just couldn’t find
  • I’m an indie writer; I need all the help I can get

I’ve read other stories that were not professionally edited. I found numerous errors that irked me, as well as other readers (I’m sure). I don’t want to make that same mistake. As indie authors, we are on our own. Our decision to choose a professional editor can make or break our stories. Sure, you have to do your research on editors and they’ll set you back a month’s rent or more. But in the end, they are worth it.

Categories: Writing & Inspiration | Tags: , , , ,

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