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Tammy Setzer Denton - Writer
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Books in General

Is the Chaos Over Yet?

It's been a crazy, hectic, chaotic last four months, but it's finally starting to slow down. My son has regained the feeling in his nearly severed fingers, my daughter is married, a brother has recovered from open heart surgery, a brother-in-law is learning to carry on with a few less toes than before, and I'm enjoying my new teaching position.

With a little less on the horizon in regard to family events (although the majority of recent ones were not planned), I hope to spend more time on writing. In fact, I  wrote today! Six pages of a short story that may or may not even have a purpose other than to make me feel better about getting some creative writing done.

I've been doing a lot of writing over the last three or four months, but none of it has been creative. Between writing tests, creating activities, freelance jobs, reports, query letters, and synopses, I have a high word count, but none of it came from the heart (except for maybe creating learning activities-I did enjoy that!)

Last week, I sent out three query letters, researched the 2014 Missouri Writer's Conference which I plan to attend, and received notice that I had been shortlisted for the 2013 Small Axe Literary Competition. While I didn't win, I was in the running for a while. I consider it quite an honor to be in consideration. It's also a sign that my writing is getting better.

Another sign of improvement is that I was going through some old flash drives and found a few short story starts that sputters to a stop for one reason or another. Many of them, I didn't even remember. Yet, one stood apart from the others. In fact, I admired it so much that I figured I must have copied it from somewhere as a source of inspiration. The choice of wording was spot on, the verbs powerful, and the promise of an intriguing story lay in a few short paragraphs. Impressive. In fact, so impressive that I was certain it came from someone else!

In an effort not to plagiarize and a desire to find out more of the story behind this sampling of paragraphs, I googled it. Nothing. I binged it. Still nothing. I tried a few other search engines which returned zero results before it finally hit me. I did write these paragraphs. I did this.

I always thought it was better to impress someone else (preferably an agent or publisher) with my writing skills, but I have to say I think I might like impressing myself even better. Of course impressing myself doesn't mean I'm any closer to being traditionally published than I was a year or two or three ago, but I do think it means that I won't be ashamed of my work when publication does occur.

In the meantime, I'll keep plugging away, learning more about the craft, writing daily, and submitting.  You do the same.

Here's a few links to check out:





And last, but not least, one photo of the bride. You can forgive me later.





























;


Updates and Recommendations

Last night, I finished my freelance articles for June with three hours to spare. I wrote 10,000 words for other people and only 350 words for me.  However, they were 350 words of pure pleasure, and freelancing pays the bills so I can afford to write.

I will continue to use the Pomodoro Technique which I wrote about in my last post. Setting aside a specific amount of time and writing against the clock/alarm/timer seems to work for me.  The hardest part was remembering where I had left off in my second novel, Spared Parts. I will be rereading what I have and checking my notes to refresh my memory. Another bonus is that my China connection is back in the US so I can pick her brain.

On a completely unrelated note, I'm putting my house up for sale and will hopefully move into a condo no later than early fall. It's an emotional roller coaster as I've lived in my home for 28 years. I love it, my neighbors, and my neighborhood, but the outside maintenance is killing me and stealing my creative time.

Moving will be another short-term factor that will take away from my writing, but it will not last forever (although I'm sure it will seem that way).  Anyone with moving tips, send them my way. I think I've forgotten all that I knew about the process.

I would also like to encourage readers to check out Alternate Endings  by Lesann Berry. If you're into sci-fi and like the style of Ray Bradbury, many of her short stories in this anthology really reminded me of his work. It's available at Amazon.

P.S. I have no idea why some words are highlighted and underlined in red. It's a glitch.

Update

I'm playing some serious catch up from having bronchitis and other health issues. In addition, my first version of this post, crashed and is now somewhere in cyberspace.

After wallowing in a pity pot for being ill and getting behind, Carol Tice's post.
A Peek at the Real Life of That Writer You Envy, came at a good time. After reading it, I felt much better.  I suggest you read it too. She has lots of useful info at her website. Check it out and you'll want to follow her. I do.

Another thoughtful post , On Dying, Mothers, and Fighting for Your Ideas, by Jonathan Morrow on Copyblogger.

Amazon has announced the Semi-Finalists for the 2013 ABNA Competition. I read the excerpt of Scott Cairn's entry, Silver. The excerpt is free to download. You can read my review, Revealing the Secret With Tantalizing Reluctance! I recommend it. 

I also want to recommend Book Bub to anyone who hasn't tried it. I've been downloading the freebies searching for new authors. In some ways, it's like reading through a slush pile as many of the freebies are self-published and I'm coming to the opinion that most are published too soon. More on that in a later post as I will review some of the books I've read.

Alternate Endings - FREE Book

Event for

June 04, 2013    12:18AM
June 23, 2013    11:59PM
Global


Lesann's book, ALTERNATE ENDINGS, is featured at Story Cartel this month. You can download this book for FREE. Read this collection of speculative fiction short stories in exchange for an honest review. Available in multiple formats-so tell a friend and check out some alternative history!


Also check out

It will be weird. You've been warned.



Good Reviewer/Bad Reviewer - Am I a Troll?

I've been doing a lot of reading via the freebies at BookBub. On a rare occasion  I'll purchase one, but it has to have both a good cover and a great pitch. 

Unfortunately, I've found very few that I can finish and even fewer that I would recommend to another reader.  I've thought of writing reviews for them, but hate to be dishonest. I can't say they are great when they're not, yet I don't want to be a troll and crush someone's dreams of being a writer. It's a dilemma.

The greatest consistency I find among these books is that the author has published too soon. They all need work. From the basic plot line to the characterization to typos, grammatical errors, and poor formatting. Every single one I've read has a least two of the above mentioned.

I'm not great with grammar myself so if I notice the errors, I can only imagine what the Grammar Nazis think. 

One I read, actually had ten pages which were repeated twice in a row. I believe that is something an editor wouldn't miss if it had been professionally edited.

A lot of what I've read are common mistakes made by beginning writers. I know this because I've made them myself. I've made them, but didn't publish them.

Rather than turn off my future readers, I've chosen to wait, to put the manuscript away and re-edit it after I've forgotten about it. After I've fallen out of love with my own words. 

Russell Blake writes a great post about his reluctance to write reviews. You can check it out here.



Patience, Please?

I'm hoping my readers will hang in there while I attempt to get my computer problems under control. I currently have two laptops and one desktop computer of which zero work correctly.
 
I can receive emails on one, but can't send them out. I can write on one, but can't save it.  I can write and save on one, but can't use the internet.  I've ordered an external hard drive to back everything up and get at least one functioning rather than breaking down and buying a new one. Fortunately, my future son-in-law works with computers and has promised to help. I knew my daughter picked a good one!
 
In other news, I just sent out another query on my finished novel, Man of the House. Wish me luck! I've also applied for a small grant and should be hearing either "yay" or "nay" from them in the next week or two at the most.  In addition, I've been working at my freelance writing career bringing in a little (but very appreciated) cash. Afterall, I may need to buy a new computer soon.
 
On a more personal note, I watched the season finale of Once Upon a Time, and will sadly miss all the characters for the next several months. I have developed quite a fancy for Robert Carlyle who plays Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin. My friends think it's creepy that I find him attractive even as Rumple, but like Belle, I can see his inner goodness.
 
So, dear readers, please bear with me while I get my computer repaired and can communicate with you on a more regular basis. Until then, I'm still writing--the old fashion way with paper and pencil. Guess what? It still works!
 
 

Barbara Poelle, Guest Column at Writer's Digest

Barbara Poelle with the Irene Goodman Agency did a guest column at Writer's Digest on April 4, 2013.

The column titled:


is possibly the funniest agent interview ever.  I've re-posted a portion of the column, and you can read the entire article here.

Once you've read all of it, you can check out my comments here.

Trust me, you're going to love this.

Dear Agent:  What do you really think of speed-pitching events at conferences? Do you secretly hate them? And how many of your new authors do you find at writing conferences, versus the slush pile, versus other methods?

Well, let’s see. Here are some things that have happened to me at speed-dating-style pitch sessions:

• After I said I would not be interested in looking at a man’s poetry collection, he said he would kill himself—and the police had to be called.

•  An octogenarian and his wife pitched his mystery and she mouthed his memorized pitch next to him the whole time he talked, and then clapped and cried when he was done—and I had to sit there knowing from the start that a 42,000-word World War II mystery (which is far too short to be viable, for starters) was something I was for sure about to say no to. To this octogenarian’s life dream. In front of his lifelong soul mate. Thank goodness the bar was within sprinting distance.

• A woman sat down across from me and opened with, “Jesus already told me you would be my agent, so I’m not nervous at all.” I said, “That’s weird, when we had coffee the other day, he didn’t mention you.” And then I chuckled. She did not. And then my bladder loosened a bit in fear.

In the end, I very much like talking to authors at conferences, but I wouldn’t buy a car from a guy who just tells me about it; I need to see how she rides. So these days, when I’m invited to participate in pitch sessions at writing events I attend, I decline, but instead offer to take a look, in advance, at 10 pages of the manuscript from each author who wished to pitch me, and to leave a detailed critique for each one at the registration desk. I realize not every agent (maybe not any other agent) favors this approach, but in my case, I feel that this is more helpful for the writers, and better suited for my evaluation style, too. If I want to meet with someone, I leave a note and we connect.

Other than that, I am totally fine with someone coming up to me anywhere, anytime, and telling me about his book, but not in organized pitch sessions. It’s just too much pressure on the authors. And my bladder.

Oh: And as for my own stats, before adopting this policy, I signed five clients (and sold four of their books to publishers) in five years’ worth of pitch sessions. So, while connecting at those events does happen, that’s not a huge percentage of my list. Again, that’s not the case for every agent, but for me, the majority of my clients still find me through the regular query inbox.

Recommended Website

Author Media is a website that I highly recommend for anyone in the writing business.

It's run by Thomas Umstattd who is a veritable font of information.

Thomas Umstattd is the CEO of Castle Media Group the parent company of Author Media. You can follow him on Twitter @ThomasUmstattd. He loves helping people use technology to change the world.

Sign up for his newsletter. I always find at least one helpful hint or tip in each one.


Milford-Style Critique Workshop Method - A How To Guide

Just a quick note. I found a site run by Cascade Writers that explains a great critique method to use in your writing groups.

Starting a writers group is easy:
1) Find a group of people who want to improve their writing.
2) Set up a time and place to meet.
3) Then what...?

I would recommend using this technique to start the critiques.



Once you've established a routine and these guidelines, you can tweak them to better fit your group.

I really like the way Cascade Writers leads us step-by-step through the Milford Style. They not only tell you how to give a good critique, but also how to accept one without falling to pieces. And, Bonus! After giving and receiving all this good information, they also tell you what to do with it once the feedback soaks in.

SLF Older Writers Grant

Here's hoping that everyone had a great Easter. I know I did. I'm exhausted!

I did make it home in time to get my application in to the SLF Older Writers Grant. Made the deadline with only an hour or so to spare.

Here's an explanation of what it is (and yes, I stole this from their website):

The SLF Older Writers Grant is awarded annually to a writer who is fifty years of age or older at the time of grant application, and is intended to assist such writers who are just starting to work at a professional level. We are currently offering one $750 grant annually, to be used as the writer determines will best assist his or her work.

What a great idea to help out older writers who are starting/following their passions later in life. It's so easy to get sidetracked with work, children, spouses, and the day-to-day routines that before a person knows what happened, they've gone from 25 to 50.

Whoever wins the scholarship will appreciate it all the more for having waited so long to be eligible!

Wish me luck!
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