What I Think of Twitter

I’m late to the “Twitter Party,” “TwitterSphereTwitter Craze…oh, whatever you call it, I’m late to it. And I have to say that I joined only as part of my “Platform” and because, if you want to be a published author, it’s what you’re supposed to do as part of “reaching your audience.”

So far, with the exception of a few entertaining people that I follow, including the Property Brothers who never have a bad thing to say about anyone, Twitter is awfully snarky.

I’ve been struggling with humanity lately, and feeling a bit like I want to bury my head in the sand. I won’t, because that isn’t a way to reach out to people. But I’m finding that Twitter isn’t a way to reach people either, at least not the way that I want to reach them.

Twitter is not a conversation and Facebook is not a conversation. A conversation is a meeting between two people to exchange ideas. It isn’t well-placed snipes and targeted jabs, which is a lot of what Twitter seems to be, in my experience.

I don’t follow politically affiliated Twitter posts, but somehow, while perusing through Twitter, I suddenly know that this celebrity hates this political party, or that personality would like to see such and such destroyed.

Twitter is riddled with poor taste and insults, and the fact that you can just keep sharing them over and over is really getting annoying.

The only positive thing I can say, however, is that I’ve never been part of a social platform where people “follow” you just for the sake of “following.” You don’t even have to Tweet and people just show up, not that they are necessarily potential readers or anything, but I guess they’re following, and there’s something to be said for that.

So, what has been your experience? Am I expecting too much?

In my opinion, blogging is so much kinder and gentler. And if I’m going to spend time on the computer, I really don’t want to come away feeling worse about the world. If I want that, I can just watch the news.

Think I’ll go hang out on Pinterest for a while. I don’t need to know your political opinion, to know how to make chocolate dipped wafer cookies.

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What Scares You About Being Published?

 

What’s your biggest fear about being published?

My biggest fear about being published, if it ever happens, is being in the public eye.

I’m a social person, but I don’t like criticism, and I have to admit, I’m a bit of a control freak. Turning my novel loose on the public opens me up to all kinds of opinions, all kinds of scrutiny. And that terrifies me.

It also opens me up to books signings and public appearances. And that’s where the real insecurity rears its ugly head. What if I’m lame, or boring, or…and this is the worst…what if nobody shows up?! #writerfears

I would probably write under a pseudonym, but in the information age, I’m not so sure a pseudonym protects your privacy. In the old days, you know, pre-internet days, a pseudonym probably was fairly effective. But not so much anymore.

About 10 years ago, I wrote a Letter to the Editor of our local paper. It got printed, and much to my terror, a woman looked me up, and called me at home! Fortunately, it was to tell me that she completely supported my position, but it was still unsettling. What if she felt differently?

You see where I’m going. Of course, if I ever do get published…I could probably get over it. LOL

So what scares you about being published? Do you think it holds you back?

If you are already published, what surprised you the most?

Starting Your Query before Your Novel is Completed?

I’m a Panster, (or is it Pantster?) which means that my characters tell me their story, not the other way around. It’s unconventional, from what I’ve been told, but it works for me. Outlines are painful, arduous, and too confining for me.

My first novel, I had no idea what I was doing. I just wrote it: no outline. I was naïve, and just had a bunch of notes for a story that I’d been sitting on for 20 years (no kidding…20 years), and finally had the time and determination to write it down. It felt great to complete it! Even if nobody else read it, at least I finished it.

While writing my second novel, I happened across an article in a writer’s magazine that showed step-by-step how to outline a novel. So, I followed their example, and I plotted, and outlined, and then tried to write according to that outline.

I hated it! It felt as if I was writing in a foreign language and trying to force feed the words to fit the outline. I scrapped the outline and wrote the book my own naïve way. And, again, I finished it.

Several novels later, and I’m in the midst of querying. While I sift through rejection letters and wait for the golden ticket, I’ve started another novel.

I struggled to get this one going on the right track, until I realized I was over-thinking. So I tried something different, but not on purpose.

One night, as I was trying to fall asleep, I was writing the query in my head. But that’s crazy! I was only 4,000 words into the story. I shouldn’t even be thinking about a query, right?

But I couldn’t get it out of my head. Maybe it was because I had been querying for that other novel that my brain kept thinking in that direction. So instead, I wrote what would be on the back of the book jacket, or part of the query. It worked! It helped me focus where the story was going, but without the constraints of an outline. It brought my novel to back to life for me, and made it more compelling.

Since then, I’ve updated it several times and keep adding to it. I guess you could call it an outline, but it’s more entertaining than that. I see an outline as a dry, step-by-step summary of what’s coming. #panstertroubles The back of the book jacket is the ad that causes the reader to buy the book. And isn’t that what we, as writers, are trying to do? Get people to buy our books?

Writing the book jacket keeps me focused on the goal of what I want my story to tell, and who I want my story to reach.

I don’t know if it will work, but it’s kind of fun. The way I look at it is whatever gets you focused and writing is best for you: whether it be an outline, scribble in a notebook, or a query. That’s just my two cents. Happy writing!

Women’s Fiction POV Opinions Wanted

Hi, fellow women’s fiction readers and writers. It’s opinion time.

First, a brief background. When I say I write women’s fiction, it’s not to be confused with romance. My stories are about relationships between women, usually friends, often unlikely friends. There is no romantic leading man involved.

I write in third person POV 100% of the time, until this latest manuscript.

To switch things up, I started it in First Person POV. But after reading several blogs by well-respected writers, I reconsidered my initial decision.

One opinion that I read brought up an interesting point, and I’m paraphrasing here. One drawback to writing in First Person POV is that if the reader can’t identify with, or straight up dislikes the protagonist, then it can possibly ruin the book for them.

So, I went back and changed the 15,000 words or so that I had already written in First Person to Third Person POV. (I don’t recommend doing this…it’s a pain in the a**)

But every once in a while, as I’m writing, I find myself using “me” or “I said” accidentally, and wonder if I should go back to First Person. Which is odd, because the story isn’t biographical, and as I said, I don’t usually write in First Person.

I think most women’s fiction is written in Third Person, though it isn’t unheard of to find a book in First Person POV.

My question to you, the readers and writers of Women’s Fiction, is which do you prefer?

Do you think there’s merit to that opinion about risking the reader not being able to identify with the protagonist?

I’d love to know what you think. I’m now 20,000 words in and if I decide to change it again, I have to commit to it. I couldn’t imagine getting to the end of a novel and going back and change the ENTIRE 80,000+ words to a different POV. #womensfictionPOV

Writing Like a Panster

I finished my latest Manuscript and am seeking representation, which can be a long process. So, until then, I’ve started a new project.

But it’s been slow going so far, and I think I know why.

I’m OVER-THINKING.

I’m not an outliner, I’m a “Panster.” Which is weird, because being a “Panster” goes against every other part of my life. With the rest of my life, my family, my finances, etc. I am a planner. Type-A all the way.

But not when it comes to writing. Writing is the one place that I give myself permission to fly free.

I usually start with a character and go from there. The story reveals itself to me along the way. Of course, that means there is going to be a lot of tweaking and rearranging, but that’s the price I pay for being a “Panster.”

If you’re an Outliner, you plan your novel way ahead of time, from what I understand. Some people have story arcs and everything before they even start writing.

This time, I started my story with a few characters and how they interact and I immediately jumped to plotting. And I’ve been trying to make my story “fit.” But doing that for a #Panster is like putting a size 10 foot into a size 8 shoe. There’s a lot of forcing, and whining and pain involved. And it isn’t fun, and it isn’t productive. Trust me, I worked in a shoe store when I was young and watched hundreds of women insist they were a size 6 when they were clearly a size 7, and then proceed to blame it on the shoe.

I’m blaming the shoe right now instead of just finding the right fit and giving myself lots and lots of room.

So, I’m starting over…in my own Panster way. I’m going to let my characters tell me their stories. I’m merely the recorder. I need to let them tell me their hopes and dreams and fears and conflicts. If I set them free on the keyboard, they will show up. But I need to stop shoving my large characters into the small shoe.

How do you start a new story? Are you a Panster or an Outliner?

Here we go again…novel finished…and waiting…

Here we go again…

Novel #3 is finished and ready to find a literary agent!

Now I know, it’s never really “finished” until you actually FIND the agent or publisher and it’s sitting on a retail shelf complete with bar code. But that could take some time, if ever.

So, in the meantime, what to do, what to do?

I don’t know about you, but I immediately start brainstorming on the next book. Since I write women’s fiction, I usually start with a character or characters and then build from there.

I had a “Character Journal” until my last laptop was stricken with the “Black Screen of Death.”

It was a sad day, or a liberating one, depending on how you look at it. Nah, who am I kidding…it was sad…tragic even. All those ideas lost. They’re still on the computer, I just have to get to them.

I already have a name for my next main character. Besides starting a new “Character Journal,” I’ve started a “Name List.” Names are just as important as character development. You know how sometimes a name can conjure an entire character? That’s the sort of name I have in mind. Now I just have to figure out her story.

Tragedy? Comedy? A little bit of both? Hmmmmm…..maybe it’s time to head to the coffee shop and soak in some color. Am I the only one who does that? Hijack someone’s conversation? Think about that the next time you’re at the coffee shop and there’s someone sitting there all alone on their computer.

Or maybe the woman in the grocery store will wander into my next novel…or the sales woman at the department store…or the clumsy waitress that served me dinner last night.

Thank goodness we don’t have to pay royalties to the strangers that inspire us. But thank you to all the strangers that let us writers into your lives, if only for a moment, or even from afar. Stories are inspired and you are our inspiration.

Where do you go to find your best inspiration? Do you keep a Character Journal or a Notebook of phrases and ideas?

Entering a Local Short Story Contest

 

Every year, our local library holds a Short Story Contest. I’ve entered for the last three years, and have yet to place.

I’m considering entering again this year, just for the practice.

But I don’t write short stories. I never have.

I write novels, so writing a short story, for me, is a bit of a challenge. I’m also a “panster” which makes it even more challenging. Without an “outline,” it makes it much harder to wrap up a story in 2500 words or less.

I write women’s fiction, and women’s fiction differs from most other genres. Without completely sounding like I have no idea what I’m doing, I’ll try to explain what I mean: women’s fiction isn’t necessarily trying to “solve a problem,” as in conquering the neighboring tribe, or saving the planet from the comet headed straight for it. Women’s fiction tends to be about “relationships.” It isn’t as cut and dry as some other genres, and I don’t mean any disrespect by that at all. I just don’t can’t write those other genres without sounding like a 4th grader wrote it (no offense to the 4th graders out there).

Women’s fiction is different in that it’s character-driven. There’s still a problem to solve, sometimes many, but it’s painted with a much broader brush, at least the way I write. My characters are flawed and their flaws are what drive the plot.

So, back to the short story.

First, condensing a story to 2500 words is daunting for me. That means that I need to come up with a premise that can basically be solved in one and a half chapters! What?! That’s when things usually just get going in a women’s fiction novel, not resolved!

Thinking of something that fits into that box is really, really hard for me.

I’ve tried using writing prompts, but have yet to find one that inspires me. I’ve tried different genres, but I really can’t write fantasy or SciFi…I just can’t.

But, like most writers, I like to bang my head against the wall, otherwise I wouldn’t be a writer. (Writers will understand that). I’ll keep trying. I’ve started 3 short stories so far that have fallen flat. I still have until July 31st to submit my entry. It isn’t impossible, just improbable, and I can work with those odds.

What about you? Have you ever tried to write something different than you’re used to? What got you over the hump?