Tag Archives: Facebook

Chester Lewis Author Chat

chester-lewis-fan-fiction-competitionToday I’ll be chatting in the Chester Lewis Fanfiction group on Facebook. For those who haven’t heard of it, the Chester Lewis Fanfiction contest is open until August 2013 and has a $2000 first prize. The idea is to write a fanfiction piece based on The Life and Times of Chester Lewis. Entry into the contest is $10 and this entry fee also gives you access to the Facebook group where you can chat with fellow writers, authors and the editor. Throughout the year (until the contest closes) there will also be author drop-ins which so far have revolved around the story of Chester Lewis, writing in general and the publishing industry (I picked up a couple of great tips during yesterday’s drop-in). It’s well worth the entry fee just for the Facebook group. Plus, who knows what other opportunities could emerge from this competition.

I’ll be dropping into the Facebook group in 6 hours to chat. That’s Sunday 3pm AEDT, Sunday 4am GMT, Saturday 11pm EST or Saturday 8pm PST. Don’t forget you need to have paid your entry fee before you can join.

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From Song to Story (Part Two): The Vampire’s Curse

I’m hoping you’ve now had a chance to read my story for FREE on the Literary Mix Tapes website. If not, it’s still up until 11pm AEST (that’s another 14 and a half hours). There will be SPOILERS in this post.

To recap: In Part One I talked about how I was given the song ‘Eighteen and Life’ by Skid Row as my inspiration (a song I’d never heard before). I had to combine it with an event from 1989 and include a speculative fiction element to write a 1500 word story. After listening to the song I had an idea to make my main character a vampire.

A Trip Down Memory Lane

Now all I had to do was tie my vampire character to an event that happened in 1989. That was tricky. I skimmed Wikipedia’s list of events from that year, but nothing really stood out. At one stage I was tossing up between Tiananmen Square and Ted Bundy. But in the end I went in a completely different direction. Instead of going with a political event, I went with a pop culture reference. There was one thing that really stood out in my memory from the year 1989. It was the movie The Little Mermaid (Hey, give me a break, I was only 7 in 1989!).

A Different Kind of Vampire

The idea behind my vampire evolved from the idea that the last image he saw when he was alive, a movie poster of The Little Mermaid, meant he had a compulsion to feed on girls who resembled the red-haired, waspy-waisted Disney Princess.

I was really quite happy with my draft. I loved my vampire, who I thought was different to any vampires I had read in the past, wasn’t romantic in the least and had ties to a more traditional form of vampire.

A Second Opinion

I sent my draft to several beta readers, made up of writer friends and fellow Eighty Nine authors (one of the great things about being involved in Literary Mix Tapes is how all the writers work in contact with each other and swap stories to critique). I took on board most of their comments and ignored the ones I thought might not work for my story, and started redrafting.

Hold My Breath and Submit

What if Jodi thought my writing wasn’t good enough and sent me an e-mail telling me, ‘Sorry, we won’t be including your story in the anthology’? Thankfully, this was not the case. Jodi loved the idea behind my vampire. Now it was time for the edits.

Pushing My Story to New Limits

Working so closely with an editor (especially one as awesome as Jodi) was such a great experience. I learned a lot and pushed my story into new realms. Every time Jodi sent me back edits and notes it sparked new ideas. It was a long back and forth process, but so worth it.

I Should Have Listened to my Beta Reader (sorry Rachel!) — P.S. SPOILER ALERT (you should really read my story first before you read this section)

One of my beta readers made this note:

I was just wondering whether it might be interesting if the girl at the end was actually his sister – maybe she looks up at him and mentions his name as she dies or something – then he really would feel sentenced to this life.

I didn’t think this would work for my story, I think I had some lame reasoning about the hair colour being too obvious and the fact he’d watched the girl for three days would mean he would have known it was his sister.

Then on Jodi’s first lot of edits, she wrote this note:

What I’d like to see is for you to take this idea and really push the boundaries of it. Rather than him imprint on the Little Mermaid – what if he imprinted on his sister, she doesn’t run away, gripped by fear she stands and watches it all happen? Which would mean he is cursed to walk the earth feeding from girls who look like his sister.

I took the idea and ran with it. The Little Mermaid was scrapped. The focus on 1989 now came from the cultural references, rather than a specific reference. Having the sister as the focus added a new layer of depth to the story.

The Countdown

Once all the stories were finalised, all the authors got sent a pdf copy of the book to proofread, which meant a first peek at the other stories. (It was great seeing everyone’s takes on their songs and the year 1989.)

Then we got our first look at the cover. The girl on the front cover has been affectionately named Amiga after a character from one of the stories in the anthology.

Then the nailbiting wait for my contributor’s copy to arrive in the mail. I was on a rollercoaster ride that whole week. I knew it was due to arrive, so every time I got a parcel pick up notice I got really excited. But every time I made a trip to the post office I was disappointed to find it wasn’t ‘Eighty Nine’. Then one day my husband walked in with a parcel for me and as soon as  saw the envelope I knew it was finally here! Of course I flipped straight to my story and basked in squeefullness (yes, I just made that word up)of my name in print.

Blast Off!

And that leads us to the launch!  Thanks to everyone who has joined in the Facebook event so far (it’s still going, so drop and join in the fun if you haven’t yet).

You can still read stories for FREE. The last one has just gone up and the others will gradually be taken down one by one over the next 24 hours.

You can also still take part in the Amazon chart rush (and take advantage of free shipping to Australia and New Zealand if you order from Amazon UK before 31st October). Or if you buy a copy directly from the Literary Mix Tapes site you get a complimentary ebook to go with it!

To finish, a picture of me getting into the spirit of the launch last night with my copy of Eighty Nine.

From Song to Story: Vampires with an Eighties Twist?

Today marks the launch of the speculative fiction anthology Eighty Nine. To celebrate I want to share the journey of how I took a song from the year 1989 and turned it into a story about a vampire with a compulsion. My story ‘Eighteen for Life’ will be posted HERE to read completely FREE for twenty-four hours starting at 11pm AEST*. (The first stories have already gone live.)

But first, a look at how it all started…

When Opportunity Knocks

When a call went out for authors for a new Literary Mix Tapes anthology I jumped at the chance to be involved. I heard about it through Jodi Cleghorn (who had been the editor on 100 Stories for Queensland). I was impressed by all the hard work Jodi had put into 100 Stories and I was excited by the idea of writing a story based on a song prompt. There were eight places available and I was lucky enough to secure one of the places.

The Idea Behind Eighty Nine

Authors had four main rules they had to follow for their stories:

1. It had to be 1500 words.

2. It had to be tied the year 1989.

3. It had to be inspired by a song from the year 1989 (from a playlist of songs which would be randomly drawn from a hat and assigned to each author).

4. It had to be speculative fiction.

Combining a cultural/political event from 1989 with a speculative element (ie: fantasy, paranormal, science fiction) into a story inspired by a song, all in 1500 words. Piece of cake, right? Hmm, maybe not. I do love a good prompt though, and I knew I would have a lot of fun with this one.

Drawing Songs from a Hat

When I first read through the song list for the anthology I had my fingers crossed for ‘Funky Cold Medina’ as I immediately got a story idea for it. There were also some other really great songs on there I love, like ‘Love Shack’. But when Jodi pulled my song out of the hat I could only say, “Huh?”

I got ‘Eighteen and Life’ by Skid Row and I’d never even heard of the song or the band.

Thank You, YouTube

The YouTube video (click to watch)

I went straight to YouTube so I could listen to the song. My heart sunk even further. Not only was I unfamiliar with the song, it was heavy metal, which I can’t stand. I knew there was a chance one of the other authors might swap songs with me, but I looked up the lyrics and listened to the song a couple more times…

Inspiration!

I got an idea. I decided to use the character Ricky from the song as the main character in my story. There were a couple of lines in the song that I wanted to include as part of his character, but in a different way to what the song meant.

“He had a heart of stone.”

and

“…he fought the world alone”

Bam! I immediately thought of a vampire walking the world on his own in a lonely existence. Ricky would be this vampire. And there was my speculative fiction element.

THE STORY CONTINUES IN PART TWO.

Come Join in the Launch Events!

As I mentioned, stories are being posted FREE for twenty four hours each, with one story going up every hour (the first ones are already up). Mine goes up 25th October at 11pm AEST* and will remain up until 26th October 11pm AEST. Don’t forget to come back here tomorrow after you’ve read it to find out how my idea transformed into the story in its final form.

There will be a Facebook event happening at 5pm AEST** today to celebrate the launch. Please come along as there will be eighties trivia, prizes (including copies of Eighty Nine) and lots of eighties fun. Just by clicking the ‘I’m attending’ button you go in the draw to win a copy of Eighty Nine.

You can also get involved in the Amazon chart rush taking place. This is a good chance for all you Aussies to take advantage of Amazon UK‘s free shipping to Australia offer (which ends on the 31st October). Grab a few other books you’ve been thinking about getting while you’re at it (or maybe some copies of Eighty Nine to put away for Christmas presents; or a copy or two of 100 Stories for Queensland to continue to help with flood relief).

Me & 1989

As part of the launch celebrations, here is a photo of seven-year-old me from 1989:

I haven’t changed a bit 🙂

Because I know time zones suck:

*11pm 25 Oct AEST = 12pm 26 Oct AEDST(Victoria); 9am 25 Oct EDT(New York); 6am 25 Oct PDT(California); 1pm 25 Oct GMT

** 5pm 25 Oct AEST = 6pm 25 Oct AEDST; 3am 25 Oct EDT; 12am 25 Oct PDT; 7am 25 Oct GMT

Helpful Writing Sites and Blog Post August/September 2011

As I didn’t post a Helpful Writing Sites post last month I’m combining my compilation of helpful links from both August and September into one post.

Writing

Identifying Your Fantasy Novel’s Subgenre

When querying your fantasy novel it’s best to be specific about your novel’s subgenre. This post gives a brief outline of each of the fantasy subgenres.

The Big Ol’ Genre Glossary

Taking it a step further than the above post, this post outlines all the various genres and their subgenres. A handy list to have when wanting to check which genre/subgenre your novel falls under.

En Dash vs. Em Dash

Not sure what the difference between them is? This posts helps clear it up.

There is a Learning Curve to Creating Ebooks

For those interested in self-publishing and creating your own ebooks, this post recommends two free programs you can use to convert your MS into ebook format.

Five Telltale Signs of an Amateur Writer

An acquiring editor tells how she can reject an MS in 8 seconds and lists the five telltale signs of an amateur writer.

10 Words Editors Hate

Be careful about using these ten words in your MS, as they may very well send your work to the ‘Do Not Publish’ pile. Some may surprise you.

Eight Reasons I Hate Your Book

There seem to be a few negative posts around lately, but helpful, none-the-less. In fact, I found this one to be VERY helpful. Freelance editor and agent intern, Cassandra Marshall, shares eight of the most annoying (and totally fixable) things she comes across in manuscripts. It helped me realise one of the biggest downfalls of my current WIP, it might help you with yours too.

10 Tips for Writing a Short Story

Short story writer, Amanda Lohrey, shares her tips for writing a first-rate short story.

Getting Your Children’s Book Published

A checklist of things you need to do when preparing to send your MS to publishers, specifically for children’s writers.

Besides Using Google, How Can I do Research For My Book?

Sometimes it can be hard to navigate Google to find the information you’re looking for. How can you be sure the information is accurate? This post has some great (and easy) tips on how to find accurate sources of information for your research.

14 Dos and Don’ts for Introducing Your Protagonist

Author Anne R. Allen gives a list of fourteen great points to take into consideration when introducing your story’s protagonist.

Querying/Submitting

Wherein I Answer an Awkward Question

A few months ago I wrote a post called Writers Beware. This post gives the same warning and similar advice to my post, but takes it a step further with some great information about vanity presses pretending to be traditional publishers.

The Biggest Submission Mistakes

Writers Relief interviewed a range of editors to find out what they considered to be the biggest submission mistakes.

Proper Manuscript Format

I’ve bookmarked this page. The post itself is presented as the manuscript would be formatted giving a visual example to go along with the explanation of how a manuscript should be properly formatted. This is especially helpful if a publisher/editor/agent does not have specific submission guidelines for manuscript format or requests standard manuscript format.

Motivation

You’re Kind of a Big Deal

Advice from an author who recently sold her book, and the long journey it took her to get there. She gives hope to those of us who are still hoping to get there some day.

Social Media

The Facebook Author Page: 10 Status Updates to Embrace, 10 to Avoid

Author and Novel Publicity president, Emlyn Chand, outlines the difference between Facebook page status updates that will engage and win you fans (and thus lead to book sales) and status updates that will annoy and drive away fans. In her words, “When it comes to self-promotion, less is more. If you promote yourself graciously, book sales will follow.”

5 Points to Ponder on Pottermore (for Writers)

A look at how writers can use J.K. Rowlings new Pottermore site as an example for creating an engaging website (even if you don’t have Ms. Rowlings budget).

Five Ways Authors Can Promote Books on Facebook

Tips for using your Facebook profile/page to promote your book (in a subtle way).

Book Promotion

Creating Effective Presentations for Schools

Some great tips from picture book author Tania McCartney on doing schools visits to promote your book, including how to keep your audience’s attention, taking age into account and what sort of content to include.

Just for Fun

A Day in the Life of a Writing Mum

If you’re a writing mum like me, I’m sure you will relate!

And one last link, because I just have to share…

You may have noticed a shiny new book cover on the sidebar of my blog for a soon-to-released anthology titled Eighty Nine (which includes my story ‘Eighteen for Life’). It’s a speculative fiction anthology embracing the year that was nineteen eighty nine. One of my fellow authors, Devin Watson, has created this little teaser trailer: Eighty Nine Book teaser trailer.

Helpful Writing Sites and Blog Posts June 2011

It’s time for my monthly round up of helpful writing sites and blog posts. All links will be added to the masterlist (link at top of blog).

Writing

Tips for Writing Picture Books

5 great tips for writers of picture books.

3 Signs You’re Writing a Condemned Novel

How to recognise problems in your manuscript and how to decide whether they are fixable or whether the novel needs to be put aside.

Have You Ever Heard the One About “Was”?

I’ll admit to being wary of using the word ‘was’ in my writing, though I’ve now come to be a little more accepting of it. Author Emma Darwin makes some good points about why ‘was’ isn’t as bad as a lot of writers are led to believe. She tells how often it isn’t the word ‘was’ that’s the problem and goes on to outline the underlying problems that are often blamed on ‘was’.

The Courage Not to Publish

While it takes courage for a writer to put his/her work out there to get published, this article talks about having the courage to realise your work may not be publishable and to hold back from publishing. It specifically targets writers who either think their writing doesn’t need fixing because they think an editor will sort it out, or those who want to self-publish after being rejected by traditional publishers.

Commonly Confused Words

You know those tricky words, like ‘lie’ and ‘lay’? This post clears up some of the confusion with commonly misused words.

The Truth About Passive Protagonists

This post outlines when it’s ok to have a passive protagonist and when it’s not.

The Single Most Powerful Writing Tool You’ll Ever See That Fits on One Page

A listing of everything you need to know about your story before you can successfully finish it. Written in the form of questions, the list covers the four parts of the story structure.

Social Media

5 Simple Ways to Make Your Blog More Visually Appealing to Readers

Tips for creating a blog with an appealing look and feel and how to avoid a poorly designed blog.

THE Facebook Cheat Sheet: 21 Sneaky Tactics to Generate a Buzz on Facebook

21 Tactics for getting people to ‘like’ your Facebook page.

The 6 P’s of YA Social Media

6 points YA writers should keep in mind to use Social Media effectively.

Just for Fun

The Seven Stages of Receiving Critique on a Manuscript

A funny (and true) evaluation of the stages a writer goes through after receiving a manuscript critique.

The Periodic Table of Storytelling

Based on the periodic table of elements, this table covers different aspects of storytelling, such as character archetypes and plot devices. A couple of my favourites: NEO (The Chosen One) and LOL (Evil laugh).

Helpful Writing Sites and Blog Posts March 2011

I’m excited this month to introduce a new addition to my blog. If you look up at the tabs above you will see a new one titled, ‘Helpful Writing Sites and Blog Posts Masterlist’. In this master list I have gathered all the links from all the past editions of ‘Helpful Writing Sites and Blog Posts’ into one place. This way you won’t have to go searching through all the past editions to find the link you’re looking for. To make it even easier, I’ve put the links under headings, such as: ‘dialogue’, ‘openings’ and ‘queries’, so if you’re looking for information on query writing, go to the ‘queries’ section or if you want a stronger opening, go to the ‘openings’ section. From now on, whenever I do one of these monthly posts, the links will get added to the master list.

Now, onto this month’s edition:

Writing

How to Get Published: A Flowchart

A great flowchart (and checklist) on the writing process and a great way to know if you’re ready to query.

My Writing Success: The ONE Thing That Helped Me Most

Author Jody Hedlund explains the one specific thing that helped her most on her journey towards writing success.

On Story Openings

Using their soon-to-be-published anthology of stories as examples, The Australian Literature Review outlines the elements of effective story opening lines.

Story Skeletons: Teaching Plot Structure with Picture Books

Although this post is meant to be a teaching tool for young readers/writers in the classroom, it’s a great post for writers of picture books as well. It focuses on the basic structures used in picture story books and includes examples of each structure.

Where Should a Second Chapter Start?

There’s always a big focus for writers on getting that first chapter perfect, but what about chapter two? This post looks at building a strong second chapter.

Five Ways to Show Emotion in Your Writing

Based on the book From Where You Dream: The Process of Writing Fiction by Robert Olen Butler, this post looks at expressing emotion in your writing with a focus on showing vs telling.

Genre Novels – Word Count Rules, Subgenres, and Guidelines for Getting Your Book Published

A short guide to word count rules and subgenres for the various genres (fantasy, romance, historical, mystery, thriller, horror, YA, and Western).

Ten Mistakes Writers Don’t See (But Can Easily Fix When They Do)

Before you submit your work, double-check to make sure you haven’t made any of these mistakes that are easy to fix. (Sometimes this is where a critique partner can come in handy.)

NOTE: For number one, I find Wordle is a helpful website for weeding out crutch words. For number nine, reading aloud is a great way to pick up on awkward phrasing.

The Doctor is in the House – Novel Diagnostics

An exploration of common problems found in the beginning of a manuscript that can be an indicator of problems in the rest of the manuscript.

Queries/Pitches

The Twitter Query

A look at how to write an effective query in only 140 characters.

Rites of Submission: Cover Letters and Query Letters

This article includes two sample letters: an example of what not to do (including common mistakes) and a successful letter.

How I Got My Agent (Part 1: The Parts of a Good Query)

Author Susan Dennard shares advice on writing a good query letter, using her own successful query letter as an example.

Synopsis

How to Write a 1 Page Synopsis

A break down of the key elements needed for a one page synopsis. Includes worksheet.

Motivation

On Sticking With It

A reminder from author/agent Mandy Hubbard that is hard to become published, and why it is important to stick to it and not give up.

Social Media

Twitter Hashtags for Writers

Using these writer hashtags on Twitter is a great way to meet fellow writers. A comprehensive list of writer hashtags, including a schedule of writer chats on Twitter.

8 Sentence to Immediately Cut From Your Twitter

These 8 bio mistakes may be costing you followers and you may want to avoid them. Includes two things you may want to include instead.

Blogging Tips: Tips for Increasing Your Followers and/or Subscribers

Rachael Harrie has some great simple tips for building up a following on your writing blog.

Facebook for Authors: How to Get Started

Agent Nathan Bransford gives some helpful tips on starting up a Facebook author page.

For Fun

9 Things Everyone Needs to Know About Writers.

Very funny and very true. Pass this list on to all your non-writing friends.

Speaking of Facebook author pages, I’ve just started one of my own. You can find it here: http://www.facebook.com/JoHartAuthor or on the Facebook link on the sidebar of this blog.