Tuesday, May 03, 2011

For Writers - Vacuums Suck

Before we begin, I want to give a shout out and special congratulations to Marsha Skrypuch for her Crystal Kite win. Her book STOLEN CHILD is the selection for The Americas. (Crystal Kite winner list here.)

As one of Marsha's crit partners, I had the privilege of reading much of the book in early stages as well as the completed book, and I highly recommend STOLEN CHILD (and her entire list.). Marsha's research and detail in writing are excellent. But it's how she brings the characters to life that really makes her books special.

For those who haven't heard my Marsha story, she is the one who passed along an opportunity to submit to my current publisher, and set me on the path I'm walking (and writing) now.

I met her online through the Compuserve Books and Writers Community, where she serves as the most excellent sysop of the kidlit group. She is a multi-award-winning author from Canada and I'm a fangirl. Being involved on the list gave the opportunity to get to know her. We've been friends now for nearly a decade. This August we'll get to meet up again in person for only the second time at the SCBWI conference this August in LA (where I'll get to cheer her on as she will be announced and presented with the award!) I have a great deal of admiration and respect for Marsha, and I can't thank her enough for her friendship, mentoring, encouragement and support. Her Crystal Kite win is much deserved!

And this leads me to this week's writer tip:

Don't write in a vacuum.

No matter where you are - geographically or in your writing journey - you don't have to walk the path alone. Seek out other writers. Join a writing group or organization. Attend writers' conferences. Sign up for workshops. Volunteer. Get involved. Get to know, encourage, and support other writers locally and online. Reach out. Connect. Network.

Speaking for myself, networking has made all the difference in my writing experience. Believe me, I understand busy. I totally get crazy. In just the time I've known Marsha, I've bounced from Ohio to Arizona to Michigan to Japan and back to Ohio, battled health problems, raised four kids, and juggled everything else that comes with being a wife and mom... and a writer. But I've also served as the SCBWI Tokyo Regional Advisor, started blogging with Teen Fiction Cafe and the Girlfriends Cyber Circuit, joined Young Adult Authors Against Bullying, and made numerous author and writer friends locally and online. Since moving back to the States, I've found fantastic chapters of the SCBWI, RWA, and Sisters in Crime in my area. I've joined a fabulous local crit group. With the strength of all these writer friends behind me, I've written ten books (six published, four on the way next year) and contributed to four anthologies (including DEAR BULLY, which will be released in August.)

Also, as well as Marsha being my connection to the first book, Wendy Toliver, who I met in an online group, introduced me to Marley Gibson, who gave me a referral to my current agent. Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones are in the GCC group, and made it possible for me to get involved with YAAAB and the DEAR BULLY project. On my own, I would have missed out on all of these opportunities.

The moral: Reach out to other writers. You never know when you could be on the receiving - or more importantly, giving - end of an opportunity, break, tip, connection, voice of reason, whatever, that could make the all the difference for someone... maybe you.

This week's link roundup:

What's your book about? (Jamie Gold) Bonus: excellent links within an interesting post.

Title bling (Adventures in Children's Publishing) Remember PRISM

Rock the Opening (Seeing Creative) Make those first paragraphs really count!

Rock the 1st Chapter (Wordplay) What's the unanswered question in your opening page?

Astrological Signs as Character Building Tools (Guardian Cats) Fun

More Character Building - Right or Left Brained? (The Character Therapist) Quiz

Characters and Archetypes (Daily Writing Tips) Archetypes & personality traits. Excellent.

10 Tips to Improve Your Writing (Publetariat) Excellent general purpose tips.

8 Things to Consider When Naming Characters (Jody Hedlund) General principles...

8 Tips for Fantasy Writers (Ingrid's Notes) c/o Bruce Coville

5 Ways to Gauge Your Story's Potential (Write it Sideways) Using the senses.

4 Visual Tools to Help Writers (The Kill Zone) Bonus: Read comments for even more tool ideas.

4 Tips to Help Strengthen Dialog (QueryTracker)

3 Aspects of Showing, Not Telling (Victoria Mixon) Let your readers experience the story.

3 Common Mistakes to Avoid (Blood-red Pencil) Don't pull your reader out of the story.

Separating Confidence From Self Doubt (Nathan Bransford) Have the strength to doubt.

Vary Sentence Structure (Adventures in Writing) Short and sweet and oh, so true.

More on Sentences (Blood-Red Pencil) Tricks to give them punch.

Inspiration to stick with it. (Teaching Authors) A writer is stronger for the journey.

Inspiration from Libba Bray (Libba Bray) "Leave yourself open to unguarded truths." Beautiful.

More on inspiration (Gail Carson Levine) Where do you find yours?

Matching your ms to the right publisher/editor (John Briggs Books) Do your homework.

Query letters (Kidlit) There is not one true and only way to write a query.

More on queries (Kidlit) Avoid the obvious.

For Picture Book Writers (Darcy Pattison) 99 Picture Books to Study.

Disconnect (Beyond the Margins) Reclaiming our time. Um, sounds like a good place to end this link list, huh?

Now go. Write!