Sunday, 16 December 2012

2013 Is Coming!

Hello, all!

Well. This year's been quite the ride, hasn't it? Thank you to all of my clients for your support and your business -- I couldn't be here without you!

Anyone out there a resolution maker? What are your goals for 2013? Will this be the year you decide to take the plunge and finally write the story that's been swirling around in your brain for months (or even years!)? Or will you finally decide to try and get your manuscript published -- either on your own or with a traditional publisher? Whatever it is, I wish you the best of luck with it!

Personally, I'd like to help as many of you make your writing and publishing dreams come true as possible!

In the meantime, however, I do wish all of you a safe and joyous holiday season. Let's make 2013 a year to remember!


Wednesday, 31 October 2012

NaNoWriMo -- Is It For You?

In writing circles, November has become known as National Novel Writing Month -- or NaNoWriMo. The premise of NaNoWriMo is to write a 50,000-word novel in thirty days, and the idea has grown exponentially over the last few years -- from 21 participants in 1999 to almost 37,000 "winners" in 2011. ("Winners" indicates those who reached or surpassed the 50K-word mark. Many more begin, and many do not finish.)

For some writers, this caffeine-fueled writing frenzy is the kick in the pants they need to sit down and actually finish a project. But is it for everyone? Probably not. Some find the daily goal of 1,666 words too hard to reach. Others find if they miss a day it's too much pressure to get back on track. It all depends on your writing style and your willingness to turn off your internal editor and put anything and everything down on the screen.

On the other hand, some folks thrive under the pressure and produce work that they hadn't known they were capable of. Others find it completely freeing to write without constraints. It's hard to predict how it will go for you until you attempt it.

Follow the link at the top of this blog post for more information. If you decide to go ahead and give NaNoWriMo a try, good luck! Let me just give you one more tiny piece of advice on behalf of all editors and agents everywhere: when December first rolls around, please don't just submit that novel to any and all publishing houses and agencies willy-nilly. It will need work. It will need editing. It might even need a complete rewrite. It will certainly not be ready to submit! Take some time and work on it. Better yet, let it sit for a while and then go back and take a look. Publishing professionals everywhere thank you.

So good luck, NaNo-ers. Come back when the dust settles and let us all know how you did!


Tuesday, 2 October 2012

What's It Worth To You?

Someone I know posted a link to a very interesting blog post recently regarding the costs involved with self-publishing a book. The costs listed were those needed for professional editing and cover design services.

Personally, I find the numbers quoted in the post a bit too high. I can see them as certainly being prohibitive for the average person trying to self-publish.

This doesn't mean that I think authors should try to do it all themselves, however. A good editor and a good cover designer are worth their weight in gold. So this is where you start doing some research. Ask around for referrals. Your writers' group should have some information (and if you aren't a part of one, you might want to consider the idea. One or two serious critique partners are also worth their weight in gold) or you can utilize your friend and mine, Google.

If you're attempting to make your writing into a career, you can push the odds of success farther into your favor by making use of the resources available to you and doing what you can to produce a better-quality book. With a little effort, you should be able to find reputable editors and cover designers whose rates fall into your acceptable range. They're out there, so don't stop looking! Check for their work history and experience, and if there's a list of testimonials or former clients, take a look at that, too. It shouldn't take you long to find someone who suits you.

Good luck!

Friday, 21 September 2012

Things To Know: Designing Covers

Hello, all!
I hope everyone's autumn is going well and that you're all settling into your familiar routines.

How's the writing going? Have you set any new goals or achieved any of your old ones? Good for you!

I know that many of you who read this blog and who have contacted me are interested in self-publishing your books. I came across a blog entry today that might be of interest to you. It's written by author Sherry Thomas and was posted on the excellent Dear Author blog and it's all about cover design.

Take a gander here and make some notes. There's some excellent information available.

Until next time, keep on truckin' and good luck!

Monday, 6 August 2012

Hello, August!

Happy August, everyone...and happy Labour Day for the Canadians in the crowd! I hope everyone is enjoying summer thus far. It's certainly been a hot one, hasn't it?

Along that vein, have you been spending time at the beach or your cottage, curled up with a good book? We were on vacation last week and I started George R.R. Martin's A Game of Thrones. It's a tome of a volume, that's for sure! It's a truly engrossing read, although I must admit I'm three-quarters of the way through the book and still having trouble keeping various characters straight (there are *many*!). It's a given at this point that I will be continuing the series -- I'm certainly hooked!

So let me ask -- what are you reading? Anything good you'd like to talk about? Let me know!

Happy writing (and reading!)!

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Anthologies? Yea or Nay?

Hello, all! I hope everyone's having a lovely summer so far! Are you suffering from the heat?

I thought I'd ask you today what you all think about anthologies. I am fortunate enough to be editing a great one that is being self-published by a group of ladies and should be available for purchase later this summer. (I'll certainly give you all the details when I have them!)

I know that some people love anthologies because they allow a reader an opportunity to sample "new-to-them" authors that they might not have found on their own. As I've heard it put, it's a great way to find a new author and then subsequently hunt down their backlist. It's a win-win all around, right?

Others, however, dislike anthologies because of the brevity of the stories. The format doesn't allow a reader to be fully immersed in the story's world, nor do they get the opportunity to really know and love the characters the way one might when reading a full-length novel.

What about you? Where do you stand on the anthology question? I suppose I'm on the fence -- I don't mind anthologies, but I do love settling in to a big, juicy book and really getting to know characters.

It's nice to know there are choices for all of us, right?

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Happy Birthday To YOU!

Actually, it's Happy Birthday to ME today, but in the spirit of giving and gifts, I'm passing on a present to you!

Have you finished that manuscript and are now hemming and hawing about the next step? Are you ready to publish but not completely satisfied with your completed book? Waiting for an opportunity to have another pair of eyes take a look? Well, now's your chance to move forward toward your dream of being a published author!

To celebrate my birthday, I'm giving a 25% discount on a proofreading or copyediting service to the next three people to sign a work agreement with me*!

So what are you waiting for? Let's celebrate together!

*Offer extends to the next three separate work agreements signed with Tanya Saari, Fiction Editor, or June 30, 2012, whichever comes first.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Spring Has Sprung!

Hello, everyone!
My apologies for the lack of recent posts. Our family suffered with some serious illnesses over the last couple of months and that set me back with a few things, including blogging.

However, here I am and I'm curious how all of you who made writing resolutions back in January are faring now? Any successes? Setbacks (we won't call them failures!)? I'd love to hear how things are going.

For those who've suffered setbacks, what happened? Was it a change in routine? Writer's block? Perhaps the challenge was overwhelming? Regardless of the reason,  I hope you've found a way to make writing a part of your life. If you want to be successful at this endeavor, you need to treat it as a job -- not a hobby.

Remember, as cliched as it is, tomorrow truly is another day. It's a chance to start fresh. So if that story is still rattling around in your brain, not leaving you alone, then perhaps it's a sign to sit down at your desk and give it another shot. The only person stopping you is you!

Good luck!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Getting Started

Good morning!

So. How are things going now? What have you accomplished thus far on your journey to publication?

Not much? A few words? Nothing at all?

You know what? That's okay. The most important thing here is to not chastise yourself or give up on your idea entirely. "Life" can very often get in the way of our goals and dreams, and it happens to the best of us. The biggest challenge I know of is the time when "life" isn't actually standing in your way. Yes, those times do exist. It's when you hit the snooze button on the alarm for the sixth time. Or you refresh Facebook and skim through the timeline again, even though you just read everything a minute ago. Maybe you're sitting through a marathon of TV show reruns that you've already seen.

This is the biggest challenge: Defeating the "Oh, I'll do it later" voice in the back of your head. This means getting out of bed. Closing your internet browser. Turning off the TV. Because we know writing is hard, don't we? Trying to put those words down on-screen or on paper when your brain decides it has better things to do is akin to water torture.

So here's your morning challenge. Open up Word (or whichever word processing program you use) or grab your notebook and pen. Go ahead, I'll wait.

Ready? Now think about that idea you had. The one that got you all fired up and excited.

Write one sentence.

Just one. That's all. It doesn't have to be the first sentence of the story, it could be a phrase or piece of dialogue that's been floating around in your head.

And just like that, you've started! Your next option is to write two or three more sentences, or perhaps use a timer. Give yourself ten minutes to focus only on your story.

Your new challenge? Do this again tomorrow and add a few more sentences or do as much as you can for another ten minutes. I know, the idea puts a little bit of dread in your belly, doesn't it? It should. This isn't easy. If you really want to get that story into print, you have to work for it. That's all there is to it.

Good luck!

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Goal Setting

Hello again!
Well, the New Year is well under way. Did you make any resolutions for this year? How about setting some goals?

I'm certain you're aware that a large step toward success with any project is setting achievable, manageable goals -- and this is no different with writing a book. You may be familiar with the SMART system for goal setting. SMART is an acronym which stands for:
  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic and
  • Timely
Let's start with an example. Say you've been mulling over an idea for a sci fi novel for some time, and you've decided that 2012 is going to be your year. First of all, that's great! Good for you for making that decision. If you've never really written anything before, or never really seriously attempted a bigger project, you will most likely be doomed to failure if you sink into your desk chair, open up your word processing program...

...and stare, increasingly disheartened, at the blank page.

This is where the goal setting comes in. What is it specifically that you want to write (bullet #1!)? A 75,000-word science fiction novel. Now if I were to ask you how long you thought it would take you to write this novel, what would you say?

A month?
Six weeks?
Half a year?

The answer here depends on a few things, namely how quickly you type, how much planning you've done, and your goals. For most people, 1,000 words a day is quite manageable (bullet #2!). That equates to four typewritten pages (double spaced), and most can even do this in an hour or so. So if you estimate that you'll write five days a week, that gives you 5,000 words in that length of time, and approximately 20,000 words in a month.

Does that seem a little more realistic (bullets 3 and 4!)? Sure it does, right? At that rate, your novel could be complete in three and a half months. You could even be generous and give yourself four or four and a half months, but if you're serious about this novel and about writing books as more than a fun hobby, you certainly wouldn't want your goal to be a year or more (bullet 5!).

What if you don't type that quickly, or don't think you could manage 1,000 words a day? That's not a problem, as long as you take the other factors into account. Only 500 words a day? Seven months to your novel. Or maybe you're envisioning a sweeping epic saga of 150,000 words or more, or a novella of 25,000. Whatever it is, tailor your goals to your skills and you'll be more likely to achieve success.

Good luck!

Next time we'll talk about other types of goals, and other things such as pre-writing material and plotting, and when life gets in the way!

Friday, 13 January 2012

Friday Reads

Hello again!
I hope you all had a lovely, restful holiday. Things were crazy as usual in our household, but much fun was had by all!

Fortunately, I was able to spend some time reading over Christmas and New Year's, and I finished a rather interesting book by Sarah Winman called When God Was a Rabbit. Truthfully, my reading tastes tend toward genre fiction (fantasy, sci-fi, romance, etc.) rather than literary projects, but I always find myself intrigued by the occasional title that causes a stir in whichever circles. I usually find these books difficult to read because the characters are so broken and damaged, or are put through such horrible events that they remind me too much of real-world events. I prefer a healthy dose of escapism with my fiction, thank you!

Regardless of all that, the one thing that happens with these stories is I find myself thinking about them at random moments, long after the cover has been closed. So it can't be said that these books don't have an effect!

This story recounts Elly's childhood in '70s England and the way she, her brother Joe, and her friend Jenny Penny deal with various traumatic events and secrets that lie just beneath the surface of their lives. They navigate a path through a world full of loss and heartache, the dark and damaging side of love and sex, and the ties -- however twisted sometimes -- that bind a family together. The characters' actions sometimes frustrated or confused me, but people in real life don't always act the way we want them to, either. I can't say I liked or disliked the book, only that it left me feeling somewhat ambivalent. I did find myself at times unable to put the book down, which is a good thing, and the characters were quite well drawn. I can't quite put my finger on what I would have liked done differently, however.

If you like coming-of-age stories that are slightly askew, this one is for you.

Have you read When God Was a Rabbit? What did you think of it?