on the grind

On the hunt for errors? #AuthorToolboxBlogHop #amediting #amwriting #blog

When I was in high school, I was the student that always had her hand up – not in an incessant way, but whenever there was a grammar question, I usually knew the answer. I LOVED grammar (writer alert!) because it made so much sense to me – like parentheticals around every phrase or predicate, illuminating the intention of the author. Nerdy, right?

Well, it was all fun and games until I started writing long-form creative fiction. Commas didn’t seem so natural to me anymore, and semi-colons seemed like alien hieroglyphics. Enter, Stage right: ProWritingAid. This free tool hunts down all the run-on sentences, repeat words, and grammar mistakes. LOVE THIS. If you’re like me, and approach editing with friends like a pre-query, it’s great to know you’re presenting your best work to beta readers.

Grammarly offers the same service for a price. There’s a low-frills version for free but otherwise it costs $29.95 per month, $59.95 per quarter or $139.95 per year for premium service. I know many writer friends who swear by this platform, but its explanations for why errors were made can be difficult to understand.

Finally, and one of my favorites for the name alone, the Hemingway App. Ernest Hemingway is one of the kings of short, powerful sentences, right? It’s only fitting that an app (and desktop version) be created to edit lengthy prose down to his style. Pricing ranges from free to $9.99 for the desktop version.

This is a very succinct (Hemingway-version?) list of editing tools, and the Internet is full of dozens more. A matrix of resources can also be found at the #AuthorToolboxBlogHop main page, and I encourage you to do a deep dive among the many writer blogs found there.

While the platforms I mention here are my personal faves, I’m always on the hunt for more. What writing tool do you use? What are its pros and cons? Comment in the space below and share your own writing hacks. Happy hunting!

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on the grind

Community #amwriting #ontheporch #writercommunity #yougotthis

After five, almost six, years into writing, I think the single most important thing an aspiring author needs is – you guessed it – community. Through all the Twitter contests, slush pile submissions, QueryTracker questions, and QueryManager uploads, my writer friends have been my rocks. The people on whom I rely for beta reading and general emotional support as we each navigate this windy road to publication.

If you haven’t already, I’d highly recommend getting involved in the Twitter community – join conversations on hashtags like #ontheporch, #amwriting, #writercommunity, and other threads like #CPmatch for those on the hunt for critique partners. There are also great facebook writing groups, I guarantee, in your local area, or local critique groups that you can probably locate via your neighborhood bookstore (they still exist!).

Us writers tend to be lonely folk when we’re drafting pages, but we don’t have to be! Like anything, you get what you put into it. So get out there! Tweet something writer-related, or @ me and I’ll @ you back. Reach out when you’re not sure your book will ever be in print, or read by strangers, and we, your writing community, will send you a gif.

Write on, friends!

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on the grind

Story Structure a.k.a. Your Alliterative Espresso #amediting #amwriting

When writing a story I love to open a bottle of wine, pour myself a glass, and let the words flow. It’s important for me to consider my laptop a “safe space”, where I can write anything I want, so long as I’m getting words on the page. Sometimes they make sense – brilliant paragraphs of prose! – while other times, I wake up the next day, and gut a page and a half.

That’s where story structure comes into play. Does the scene have a full arc? Does the chapter contain the right amount of conflict and resolution? How does this move the plot along overall, and in that specific part of the book? I used to think, intuitively, I got that. No problem! But every time a chapter, or part of the book didn’t feel right, I went back and consulted my story structure guru, K.M. Weiland. I seriously can’t shout from the mountaintops loud enough about how helpful her tutorials are, even when compared to other breakdowns available on the internet.

If you’re struggling with an aspect of your book, I’d suggest you start with her website. Then maybe buy one of her e-books on story structure. Or three.

Meanwhile, I’ll be pouring myself another cup of coffee because writing = wine time, while editing = early days and aromatic beans. Happy editing, friends!

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on the grind

Flash fiction FTW: The Good News #amwriting #MondayMotivation

Good news! My flash fiction was again honored by Wow! Women on Writing in their Summer ’17 contest, and named among the Top Ten best stories.

It was aptly titled The Good News. (<Insert cheesing emoji>) You can read my interview here, and learn more about my thought process. One of the things I highlight is that it took me about two years to finesse. Off and on, editing, then setting it aside, then editing with coffee, then with wine, over about two years. I’m especially proud of this win because I didn’t quit. Throughout this period, I felt like there was some literary gold to be mined (okay, definitely flattering myself here, but you know what I mean), and kept going until I found some version I liked. I’m just glad literary agent Quressa Robinson and the Wow! slush team agreed!

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on the grind

Revision = Life #amwriting #amquerying

After #RevPit (the incredible Twitter contest provided by a slew of talented editors during which they dedicate a month of their services – see my post here), I took a good two months away from my manuscript. I saw friends, experienced a few major life changes, read A LOT, and beta read two CPs’ manuscripts. In short, I was very city productive.

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All these things were great and important for my relationships/sanity/astigmatism prescription – but I didn’t move the needle in the direction I’m aiming for. —-> the Big Dreams light at the end of the tunnel.

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Now that my eyeballs have rested, I’m diving back into not one, but two manuscripts that I’m shopping around, and really enjoying the reunion. As repetitive as revising (and revising and re-revising, again) can be, the whole process is kind of like…life.

You wake up, go to school, go to rehearsal for that play (I know it’s not just me, all you creatives), go to sleep.

Soon, you wake up, go to work, go to that post-work meetup with friends at Chevy’s for the free salsa (definitely not just me), go to sleep.

Within that framework, you’re repeating the same actions, efforts, and quips until you get each of them right. We’re constantly revising until we actually learn the lessons that life (and all-day-happy-hour at Chevy’s) offers.

In that sense, I feel more motivated than ever to attack syntax, semantics, and grammar enigmas, until the right agent recognizes the proverbial gold mine of tortilla balls I’m shopping around.

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on the grind

Longing for Libraries #travel #blogging

Happened upon this incredible post in my Reader feed and now feel compelled to share it forward.

Is it silly to plan a trip to Europe purely for Austria’s trellised tomes?

The inner book nerd is delighted by this collection. Beautiful buildings full of beautiful books. 1. Trinity College Library in Dublin, Ireland 2. Mexico City Library 3. Stuttgart Library 4. New York Library Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/oscarfh/17902282471/ 5. The Library of El Escorial in Madrid, Spain Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/cuellar/370663920/ 6. Strahov Monastery Library in Prague, Czech Republic […]

via 7 Stunning Libraries — G.L. Cromarty

on the grind

Writing in the Awkward Space #amwriting #amquerying

That time between finishing a manuscript, sending it out for literary agents to peruse, and beginning another project — that’s the awkward space, for me. Finished but not exactly done with the journey to being published, but not yet finding a new creative outlet for your energies. So you pick up a book. Several. Really clean out your To-Be-Read list that’s been accumulating proverbial dust on Goodreads the last six months. Finally plant that garden in your used egg carton and place it on your windowsill. Be productive with your empty brain space. City-productive. Instead of mulling over plot points, character diversity, or that tongue-in-cheek scene you included after happy hour with friends, you have all this free time. Just me?

The last few months have been incredible. I added 13k words to my manuscript, entered and won the Twitter contest RevPit, when the talented Nicole Tone chose my MS to edit over a full month, and connected with a string of new writers and CPs.

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My day has gone from Wake –> Write –> Day job –> Write –> Sleep –> Dream about writing to no writing at all, reading great books, and reading great chapters from my critique partners. I almost feel like an empty-nester after sending out my manuscript to waiting agents, relinquishing my characters to Go, into the wild, with ya! Like I opened my eyes to my surroundings one day and really appreciated my apartment beyond the kitchen table for the first time in months (–Is that a chessboard by the big rectangular scree–Oh–television?).

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Even while I’m relishing having evenings again after the day job and catching up on lunch dates, part of me has one foot out the door of City Productive and one foot into Next Work in Progress. The high of landing on a clever book idea and mapping out the route is addictive. Removing that powerful presence in my head leaves a bereft, confused, happy, but lacking feeling that I think many writers/creatives will understand.

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So where’s my Next WIP? Not sure. Until I find it, rest assured I will be noting every tick of my friend’s expressions, the exact shade of burnt gold of my waiter’s tie, and the cookie crumb residue gracing my laptop’s keyboard until I find something else productive to actually do with it.

on the grind

Holy statistics, Batgirl! A great post about publishing trends by @stormowl7 #Goodreads #amwriting

Stumbled upon this post by the insightful Magali A. Fréchette (click on the link for her Twitter) and was surprised at her results. Drawing from the 2016 Goodreads vote for Winning Authors, she lays out the genres, their authors’ gender, and the age categories that won. I’m not entirely surprised to see that male authors dominate the Thriller category or that female authors own the Young Adult category, but it’s all great information to have, to further understand the industry and re-gird our loins from there.  See anything that surprises you about these stats?

I’ve wanted to write this post for some time, but as it usually does, life just got in the way. A while back, when we could vote for the nominees for Goodreads 2016, I thought of some subjects I’d read about a lot on Twitter. One subject that comes up a lot in the writing […]

via Statistics – Winning Authors of 2016 @goodreads #writerslife #Authors #stats #writers — Always Writing