22 September 2010

Get your flattie in the door

I don't wear stilettos, never even owned one, let alone a pair, but I was going to see if I could enter this contest by ChickLitWriters and nearly forgotten.

When I first saw the info about Get Your Stiletto In the Door, I thought I'd have my ChickLit novel well under way by the deadline, but, as you know, life gets in the way of writing sometimes. So I'm still nowhere nearer a developed plot, let alone the first chapter.

So I decided to enter what I have, which is half of my very first novel in Women's fiction category.
Luckily, as it's been just confirmed by Brooke Wills, Contest Coordinator, it doesn't matter that I've sent my manuscript for another contest (see post below). As long as I am not contracted by the deadline (2.10.2010) I am eligible to enter. I don't expect miracles in this case, so I'd better get my entry ready - there is a lot of work to do with formatting and submitting (I hate formatting!).

If you unpublished (or published but not contracted for the last 3-5 years, check website for details), have something suitable (it's better be finished or nearly finished - agents and editors DO ask for fulls or partials as the result of the contest - see previous winners' lists), think about submitting your MS: first 5000 words of your novel, 500 words o synopsis is optional and not judged.
It costs USD25 for non-members and USD15 for members; the prize is a USD50 Amazon voucher, but it's not about the voucher. Score sheets with judges' feedback will be returned to entrants.

A $25 for feedbacks by insiders? Cheaper than sending your MS to an agent/editor and you don't risk that dreaded 'thank you, but no-thank you' rejections slip!
I'd better try to get my flattie in that door.

Good luck to all entrants.

20 September 2010

Strictly Single strictly on time

Contest of the Month

I've promised myself to send my stuff to at least one contest a month. This is my quota for September - Strictly Single by RWNZ. If you a member of Romance Writers of NZ, unpublished in the past 5 years - send the first 7,500 words + max of 1250 words synopsis of your novel in by 1st October.

Just sent my entry off, well before the deadline.
Now, back to writing, 'cos my novel won't move on without my help.

16 September 2010

I have 300 words to save the world

Apparently, it's no longer the first chapter, not even the first page - a writer's chances to grab attention of a reader dwindled to 300 words (see James McCreet's article in October Writing Magazine). Editors want 250 words queries (see Query Shark), publishers - lots of 'white space' on the page, marketers - 20seconds sound bites.

The web shatters focus and rewires our brain, writes Nicolas Carr in Wired.
As our attention span has shrunk in time to allow expansion in space. It's all that TV watching, Web surfing and texting at the same time. An average Brit can cram 8 hrs and 48 minutes of media consumption daily into just 7 hours. Young peope are even better: 9,5 hrs into 6,5!

But dealing with diffused audience comes at a price - you may overlook a really important piece of information. This article in NYT talks about the downsides of being Always On, but I haven't finished it - it's just too long.

Natalie Whipple advises that 'blog posts shouldn't get too long' to improve the blog readability.
I go by an old rule Do not do to other as you would not have them do to you.
Ah, and don't add too many links - they increase cognitive overload and disorientation.

So I have 300 words to save the world that I put in danger in the first line. If I fail the test, my reader will never finish the story, and my world will never get saved.

I'd better get back to writing.

12 September 2010

Writing synopsis (1)

Writing synopsis is like performing keyhole surgery - it takes ages to master, there's no time for waffle and you'd better know where you're going.
[by Scribocin]

I'm rewritting a synopsis for my novel. Target word count under 1250.
Attempt no 16.

07 September 2010

Quakes, shakes and breaks

About the importance of switching off your inner editor and ignoring the spellchecker

Last week's earthquake in Christchurch, Cantenbury reminded me that New Zealand is not a land of milk and honey. And living on the North Island is not all that safer, because although the 56 volcanoes of Auckland Volcanic Field are considered extinct, the field itself is dormant.
Beautiful but scary!
Rangitoto Island, one of Auckland's dormant volcanoes, seen from Shekespear Regional Park

Shaken a little by this realisation I've decided to get that home insurance sorted ASAP. I mean, when I have a day off.
Well, but a while ago, when I first started my non-fiction project, I decided to use my days off for writing.
I have a day off today - what shall I do?

Dunno, gone writing :]

Chapter 5 (of 8) of my non-fiction guide is nearly finished - hurray! It seems that the system of taking a day per week instead of a week off in one go is working for me. Knowing that I have only so many hours I can dedicate to writing I am in fact writing.
I think this may the same mechanism that makes working  mothers so effective - the less time you have, the better you use it.

Another newly adapted technique I can swear by is 'switching off the inner Editor'. Whatever you're writing, just carry on typing, don't stop to correct the sentence, look up a synonym, or check that word you have just at the tip of your tongue - just keep typing away. Leave a gap with ?, write 'thesaurus/dictionary' in the space you want to put that special word in. It also doesn't matter if you have bits and pieces of your chapter in the right order ; doesn't even matter if you have them in the right chapter, because as long as you have them written down, you can then re-juggle your paragraphs, as you edit your first draft.
But you have to have that first draft finished.

And now, for that annoying spellchecker... Is anyone else finding the underlined words so challenging? Everytime I see this thin, wavy, red line my hands are shaking and I have to correct it. It interrupts the flow of writing, of course and often by the time I've chased out all the wavy rd lines my Muse is also gone.

I've tried switching the spellchecker off but I need it on, 'cos sometimes apart from the first couple of letters, I've no idea how a word I want to write is spelled.
But as the book I'm writing is on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and what is trying to get in the way of my writing is, well - my own touch of OCD, I've decided to take my own advice and fight my Inner Editor/Spellchecker/Perfectionnist using a renown anti-OCD technique: Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP).

So from now on, I'm going to delibarately misspell words and look at the blimming wavy red line,  and ... try to do nothing. Nothing. Just let my hands shake until I can no longer hold the mouce.
And then take a deep breath and.. a break?
OK, why don;t I start now?

[sign out]