Thursday, September 28, 2006

Open Critique

Last night my critique buddy, Bob Spiller, and I served as guest author critiquers for the Pikes Peak Writers' Open Critique meeting. I worked with four short story writers, and Bob reviewed a children's picture book and the first chapters of young adult, mystery, and fantasy novels. A universal problem with the short stories was not getting off to a fast enough (and interesting enough) start. Hopefully the advice I gave each writer was helpful, because I saw some real potential in their manuscripts.

Both Bob and I thoroughly enjoyed our time with the group and hope to do it again someday. And, the four short story writers I met with exchanged email addresses and plan to form an online critique group to review each other's stories. What a terrific outcome!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Celebrating Page 100

I passed the page 100 milestone in my WIP on Saturday and promptly went shopping to celebrate. It's important for writers to reward ourselves when we meet our self-imposed goals! I bought a lovely outfit to wear for the Rocky Mountain Sisters in Crime "A Day with Mysteries" workshop in Longmont, CO October 7th, where I'll be speaking on a panel and moderating another panel.

That 100 pages means I've written over a third of the manuscript, and I hope to pass the midway point in October. I'm still aiming to finish the rough draft by the end of the year, but it's going to be close!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Staying Motivated

I don't have much interesting news to report--just chugging away writing pages of my new manuscript--so I thought I'd talk about a subject suggested by a reader. If you'd like me to discuss something in my blog, please go to my website and click on "Contact Me," like this reader did, and I'll address it. So, the subject is how to get and keep that motivation to put your butt in the chair and write. Prepublished writers don't have editors and deadlines to hound them, only their own desires. All of us have gone through those phases of feeling depressed and unrewarded and wanting to give up on the whole publication dream. But, as was the case with me, when you're feeling the absolute lowest and wondering if you'll EVER get published, that's usually right before you get THE CALL. Or the email, or the letter that says something you submitted was finally accepted. You're feeling that way because deep down you know you're stuff is publishable, but it hasn't crossed the right person's desk yet who wants it.

Here's what I did, and still do, to stay motivated while waiting for the good news. You need a support system. Join a critique group, a goal-setting group, a group of local writers. Misery loves company, they say, but don't just kvetch with your fellow writers. Encourage each other and set goals. I'm in a weekly online goal-setting group where we post goals and report on them. Often, for me, that means rushing to my writing chair on Friday and Saturday, after dilly-dallying Monday - Thursday, to write those pages I said I would before I post my goal report on Sunday. So, yes I procastinated but not through the whole week. Also, having a deadline to submit something to critique group twice a month keeps me on task. Breaking my goals up into small bites really helps, like "I'll just write two pages today and three pages tomorrow" instead of "I've got to finish my novel by the end of the month." Schedule a block of time to write at least five days a week and announce it to your family, so they know, and you know, this is your time. Everytime you sit down to write, the next time will be easier. Happy writing!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Great Fun at the Colorado Gold

The Colorado Gold conference was a wonderful experience, as usual. I came home both exhausted and energized with ideas to apply to my WIP and my promotion efforts. I was very pleased with how my "Top Ten Rules for Networking as a Writer" workshop turned out. I had an exercise at the end, where I paired up audience members with someone they didn't know and asked them to find out from each other: 1) name and what you write, 2) some information about an interest/hobby/day job, and 3) how you could help him/her in some way. I was very pleased when most pairs found some way to help each other, even if they wrote in different genres or were in different stages of their writing careers. The ways included providing an information source, a signing opportunity contact, a possible critique partner contact, an online review, agreeing to critique something of each other's, etc. etc. A great illustration of the power of networking!

My panel, "It Could Happen to You" also went well, and I hope the four of us who made our first novel sale in the last year provided useful information to the audience. I was thrilled to accept my published author pen award at the Saturday banquet and to cheer for my critique group buddy, Bill Mason, who finaled in the Science Fiction/Fantasy category of the writing contest. I talked to a number of published authors about the possibility of presenting workshops to the Pikes Peak Writers. I furiously wrote notes during the Agent Panel, so I could pass on the information to the agent questors in the Sisters in Crime Guppies online group. I learned some techniques for injecting humor and rhetorical devices into my writing and how to write faster. I enjoyed getting together with my acquisition editor, John Helfers, and with the ten other Five Star authors in attendance, to swap information about the publishing process and promotion techniques. And, of course, I made lots of networking contacts and renewed existing ones!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Off to the Colorado Gold Conference soon

My relatives (parents and sister) left for Moab, Utah this morning, and the washing machine has been chugging away ever since. We had a nice visit that included two booksignings: Susan Wittig Albert at Book Sleuth in Old Colorado City (my sister is a huge fan), and my critique group buddy, Bob Spiller, with his first published mystery, The Witch of Agnesi, at Black Cat Books in Manitou Springs. Unfortunately, the hot air balloons did not launch the morning we went to the Colorado Springs Balloon Classic.

I attended my first Board Meeting of the Pikes Peak Writers last night, and the outgoing VP (who I'm replacing), Charlie Rush, brought me three copies of Frontier Airlines' Wild Blue Yonder magazine containing my short story, Power Play. What a sweetheart you are, Charlie! I was able to give a copy to my parents as a result. Friday morning, I'm driving up to Denver to attend RMFW's Colorado Gold conference over the weekend. In the meantime, I'll be practicing my talk, gathering my materials, and trying to figure out what to wear! I'l report in on the conference after I return.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

A New Position and A Published Website

On August 3oth, my husband finished putting the final tweaks on my website and published the full working version. It was just in time, because my short story appeared in Frontier Airline's inflight magazine September 1st. I'm very pleased with the website. It will change a bit when I receive my cover art from Five Star and as I schedule booksignings and conference appearances, but the gist of it is there. Please click on "Beth's Web Page" and explore it. Be sure to sign up for my email newsletter to be entered into a drawing for a free gift basket.

Also, the latest issue of the Pikes Peak Writer newsletter officially announced that I have accepted the position of Vice President of Pikes Peak Writers. In that capacity, I'll primarily be working with my good friend, Barb Nickless, the new Workshops Director, on organizing non-conference events, including Workshops and the monthly Write Brain meetings. I'm excited about becoming more involved with PPW, but also a little nervous about the extra work it will bring.