C h a z z W r i t e s . c o m

The publishing revolution already happened.

Writers: Check out the Pay It Forward Contest

Cover of "Pay it Forward"

Cover of Pay it Forward

This post is a little  about a writing contest.

It’s mostly about being a better, happier and richer person.

Over at Market My Words, there’s a great contest for writers. The author will pluck the right query and sample from the entries and push the winner’s name to her agent. It’s a chance to get out of the slush pile. If your manuscript is worthy, this contest could save you an awful lot of time and energy.

What pulled my attention was that she called it the Pay It Forward Contest. Do you remember the movie? (SPOILER ALERT) It wasn’t cynical. It was inspiring. It might have caught on even larger if the ending hadn’t been such a downer. Still, it was a reminder we must all use our time well.

And it made me think of how I’ve been paid forward. I have a very successful friend. By the force of his mind and personality, he’s achieved a lot and continues to achieve a lot. People are always glad to see him coming. He’s gone out of his way to help me on several occasions. That spirit defines him and, precisely because he is so generous with his advice, time and money, his success is multiplied however you choose to measure it.

Too often we associate business success with a dog-eat-dog mentality. To succeed, we’re often told, others must fail. Instead, my friend looks for opportunities to reach out to people. He helps them and in turn, he is helped. He’s genuinely interested in other people’s problems and tries to help them.

It takes very little effort to slip into the human network to, with kindness, grease the wheels of interaction and eliminate friction. S.R. Johannes, the author of the Pay It Forward Contest is doing it. Though I must decline to specify how I’m doing the same, I can tell you I’m already on it (promise!)

You know what’s great about paying it forward?

It feels fantastic!

Key question:

Somebody’s helped you at some point.

How are you paying it forward?

Filed under: agents, authors, Contest announcement, DIY, movies, writing contests, , , ,

Egypt: Solidarity Against Oppression

Somebody (don’t recall who) ranked Mubarak as the 15th worst tyrant in the world. I sure hope rulers 14 through to one are taking notice and not sleeping so well.

I don’t usually touch on politics much. It’s all about writing and publishing every day. I’d prefer to avoid it for this blog, in fact.

But how could I not?

This is one of those cases where if you say, “on the one hand on then on the other…”

you’re a douche.

When the people arise, the government must fall.

Filed under: Media, Uncategorized, , , ,

Writers: Is writing therapy for you?

Reverend Billy from The Church of Life After S...

Image via Wikipedia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writing can be therapeutic. You can get some etheric vengeance, exorcise your demons and find peaceful transcendence.

But I don’t think your therapy should show. If you stray into telling the reader how to feel, your writing experience intrudes into their reading experience.

Don’t do that, please.

What writing teachers don’t say is, “Not getting preachy is really hard.” For instance, in my WIP, I touch on issues around censorship. In fact, I’ve noticed my penchant for not just touching on the issue, but hammering on it.

How do you know you’re hammering your personal issue too hard? Overexplaining irritates readers. Making two characters argue and leaving the opposing side too weak is another sign. Look for when the action stops and restart it. For instance, when your protagonist slips into a monologue that goes on uninterrupted, he’s at the pulpit and you’re losing readers.

You can still have a point of view, of course. Just lay out facts. Let your readers decide. Slip the facts amongst the action of the story. Don’t lay it all out at once. Instead of pontificating, let arguments percolate through the story.

Orwell’s 1984, for instance, shows the horror of the all-controlling state. Orwell doesn’t tell you it’s awful and list why. He shows cages full of rats. Chuck Palahniuk‘s style is another good example. He doesn’t tell the reader how to feel. Non-judgmental writing yields effective results.

Don’t write from your therapist’s couch. The benefits you get from writing may be every bit as personal and profound as a therapy session from In Treatment, but if you’re writing for an audience, please let your readers find their own therapy.  In Finding Forrester, Sean Connery says, “You write the first draft with your heart and the next with your head.” 

Filed under: Books, manuscript evaluation, publishing, Rant, Rejection, Useful writing links, Writers, writing tips, , , , , , , , , , , ,

VIDEO Friday Reward: Flash mob at the Eaton Centre

Filed under: Media

Since You Asked: Writing Symposium Link

Place Mairie 18e Paris- café Nord Sud

The Writer’s Union of Canada e-mail follows. (They requested we spread the word. It just occurred to me I should do just that. You know…here…obviously. Silly of me not to do so earlier. Apologies.) 

 

SPREAD THE WORD!

The Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC) is offering the Professional Development Symposium “Secure Footing in a Changing Literary Landscape” in Toronto, St. John’s, Montreal, Ottawa, Regina, Calgary, Vancouver and Victoria, in February and March of 2011. The symposiums take place from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm.

Even if you have attended a Writers’ Union of Canada workshop in the past, you won’t want to miss this exciting new day-long exploration of the changing literary landscape.

Authors Betsy Warland and Ross Laird will illuminate the new landscape of digital literature and publishing and discuss its impact on traditional modes of creation. Kelly Duffin, the Union’s executive director, will discuss authors’ contracts in the digital age.

This full-day event is designed to address the creative and financial questions that arise as writers navigate print-based and digital literary landscapes. The symposium also explores the importance of community and the need for writers to develop their own writing community.

 Most workshops of this calibre charge hundreds of dollars. The price of this symposium is $75.00 and covers costs, including lunch. For registration information on the city and date closest to you please go to www.writersunion.ca/registration.pdf.  Please circulate this information to writers you think might be interested in coming to this event. Space is limited so register today.

Related Articles

Filed under: authors, publishing, self-publishing, Writers, Writing Conferences, , , , , , ,

Editing: How to take advice

qestion mark and exclamation mark

Image via Wikipedia

Mostly people follow the advice that appeals to them. If five people give them the same uncomfortable advice, they’ll keep asking until lucky advisor number 15 tell them what they were hoping to hear. That’s not the way to progress.

Blogging about writing and publishing can be a quixotic adventure. For instance, I went through an entire short story one time and showed the writer precisely how he could improve his writing. These were very straight-forward craft issues that got in the way of readability. The next piece he sent me had the same problems.

Not everyone has to write like I do. However, since he was so enthusiastic about my original suggestions, I wondered if it was a question of the writer needing more time to absorb the information and practice.

In a writing critique group, you can spot the defensive people quickly. They write Stet! beside each suggestion (including that tell-tale exclamation point.) Defensive writers spend a lot of time talking when their critique group colleagues ask questions or are confused. Instead, they should be listening. Any writer is free to disregard suggestions, but not during the explanation of the concern.

Is advice all for naught? Sometimes. But professional writers take advice most of the time. They aren’t so attached to their writing that they expect it will be 100% perfect on the first draft. That’s crazy-talk. Professional writers respect writing too much to make that assumption.

Just remember: an editor’s focus is the text. They’re trying to help you.

However, if you sense an editor is looking at it as a game where they’re tracking points, zeroing in on every error as if it’s a moral victory…well. Delete them.

Also, I have to mention that sometimes the advice is just bad:

At Psychology Today I found a great post called 11 Types of Bad Writing Advice.

Filed under: Editing, Editors, getting it done, manuscript evaluation, publishing, Rejection, rules of writing, Writers, , , , , , ,

Writers: So-called experts & the digital revolution

IRex iLiad ebook reader outdoors in sunlight. ...

Image via Wikipedia

I plan to attend a Writer’s Union of Canada publishing conference in a week. Industry experts will be talking about being a writer in the middle of publishing’s digital revolution. I’m really looking forward to attending, but I’m also prepared to take it all in with the cliched grain of salt.

At a previous publishing conference (different group, not Writer’s Union) I ran into publishers who were very resistant to e-books. Their opinions were so far off I have to wonder if they believed what they were saying. Some said the market shift to e-readers wouldn’t happen from five to ten years!

Meanwhile, I said e-readers would blow up on Christmas morning 2010 and soon got obnoxious and gloated about how right I was. E-reader sales did go crazy. E-book sales are climbing despite the industry’s growing pains.

This is bad news for bookstores. I bought my vast collection of books at bookstores, but no more. I use my library for some reading, but generally, I’m a buyer. I entered a brick and mortar bookstore for the first time since Christmas last week to buy reference books. The cost of paper books is such that I just can’t justify the cost of buying paper novels anymore. That’s what my e-reader is for.

Here’s the kicker: Sony obviously underestimated their own sales. They sold out of e-reader covers before Christmas and Sony won’t even receive new covers to ship until March.

The Writer’s Union conference is next weekend. Yes, I shall report what the experts have to say. I’m hoping this time it lines up with current reality.

Filed under: Books, ebooks, self-publishing, Writing Conferences, , , , , , , , ,

Ernest Hemingway’s Nobel Speech

Filed under: authors, Books, publishing, Writers, , , ,

Writers: Stop allowing others to define you

Fire Poi at Needham's New Year's Eve celebrati...

Image via Wikipedia

Your life is a story. You define it.

My son wants to take piano lessons. He does gymnastics. He plays soccer. He’s a self-directed little dude. I didn’t take piano at his age. It was instilled in me by people who were older and taller that playing piano wasn’t so manly and therefore to be avoided. Galactically stupid, I know, but there it is.

It seems to me everyone you meet wants to put you in a box. Are you a Canadian writer? A trade writer? Which genre are you in? Lots of people have questions, but they don’t all ask for benign reasons. For instance, it was explained to me as if it wasn’t rude that questions (from some cultures) about how much money you make aren’t meant to be rude. The person asking was just trying  to measure my place in the universe so they could ascertain how much respect to give me. (Quicker answer: Give me all your respect, bitch!) 

Recently someone asked me some questions. Had I been there and read that? Nope. In a douchey style I won’t forget, they lowered their estimation of my intelligence. It took all I had to hold back from explaining to them why their artificial standard was silly, their assumptions were off base and their requirements didn’t apply. In retrospect, I wondered why I was being so polite when they weren’t managing it. Some people think they’re being clever when their passive-aggression is thinly-veiled. Newsflash: lots of people are smarter than you. We see you for what you are, you smug prick.

So, back to you. Are you allowing others to define you or are you defining yourself? On New Year’s Eve, did you make resolutions that have fallen aside? You don’t have to wait till next January 1st to make promises to yourself and rededicate to your personal makeover project. You don’t have to wait till Sunday night to promise that monday morning you’ll really get serious about that diet.

You’re making yourself over every minute. You’re defining who you are now. Who will you be? Your choices determine that. You’re only a procrastinator when you procrastinate consistently. You’re only a loser if you stop trying.

You determine that. Not your parents or the well-meaning friends telling you to get a real job. You determine your worth by what you do. Go do something. Do what you really want to do.

And the constant critics? They define themselves as naysayers who tell you what you’re doing doesn’t count. Ignore them. Every successful novelist, director, musician, artist, architect (anybody!) will tell you that long after you succeed, the critics will still be there saying, “Nah, that doesn’t amount to much.” Or, more maddening, they’ll say, “I always knew you could do it! Your welcome for all my support!”

The people who really get you?

They’re waiting.

GO!

Filed under: authors, getting it done, publishing, Writers, writing tips, , , , , , ,

VIDEO: When an agent asks for revisions

Related Articles

Filed under: agents, authors, Books, publishing, queries, Rejection, , , , , , , ,

Available now!

Fast-paced terror, new threats, more twists.

An autistic boy versus our world in free fall

Suspense to melt your face and play with your brain.

Action like a Guy Ritchie film. Funny like Woody Allen when he was funny.

Jesus: Sexier and even more addicted to love.

"You will laugh your ass off!" ~ Maxwell Cynn, author of Cybergrrl

Write to live

Publish, conquer your fears, inspire others

Build your brand 6 seconds at a time

For my author site and the Chazz network, click the blood spatter below.

See my books, blogs, links and podcasts.

I interview the people you need to get to know.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 8,140 other followers

Brain Spasms a la Twitter

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 8,140 other followers

%d bloggers like this: