Tag Archives: Publication

Writers Group: Dummies and Publication

24 Jun

I’m always glad to share my writers’ group experiences and I’m even more excited because I shared this time. I had just finished reading Writing Fiction for Dummies and I’m excited to share it with you all (different from the review, I promise) as well as what I learned from some other books.

I knew Randy Ingermanson from the Snowflake Method, the guide he has for writing novels. I never liked that idea too much and I felt it was too rigid to help me create the first draft. But what he was able to convey in Writing Fiction for Dummies was how to use the Snowflake Method to turn the first draft into a second draft. The two biggest things for me were giving weak characters conflicting morals. I have a weak character that I’m struggling to add depth to and I’ve been brainstorming morals for her that could come into conflict through the story. The other piece of advice I loved was about creating a scene list. It’s a great exercise to take your existing work and make a list of the scenes. I’m looking at it now and trying to figure out where my ‘three disasters’ are and how I can pace them for the two leads to keep the tension going. I liked his wording of the ‘three disaster structure’ rather than a ‘three act structure.’ It helped me see how the novel was paced. Disaster 1 ends Act 1, Disaster 2 is the middle of Act 2, and Disaster 3 ends Act 2 and sets the stage for Act 3.

The other thing I shared was my adventures with the Writers’ Digest publications. I recently checked out Writer’s Market, Guide to Literary Agents, and Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market. It was a bit of overkill and I wanted to help my fellow writers avoid the repetition in the future. Novel & Short Story (N&SS) had literary agents, publishers, and magazines and I think this would have been enough for me. Literary Agents had agents and conferences, which is the one thing N&SS lacked. Writer’s Market had everything. It had more than I needed if I’m being honest. I didn’t really look at it because it came in last at the library. Which one you want is going to depend on what kind of writing you have, but I think N&SS is the best resource for anyone with fiction writing.

We had a very exciting announcement at our meeting. One of our writers, Jason Alpert, has self-published his first book! He brought a copy for us all to see and we are so excited for him. It’s called Liam & Heidi and there’s a Goodreads giveaway going on right now so rush on over! He used the Amazon platform for publishing and is excited to engage with Goodreads for marketing purposes. He told us about using UpWork and Fiverr for his formatting and cover design.

It’s always a pleasure to meet with this group and we’re so excited to celebrate each other’s successes. Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Published: My Most Memorable Door by Sam A. Stevens

26 Jan

If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you might have seen this announcement on Saturday:

Yeah, that really happened! My husband came home while I was doing situps and told me I had a package from The MacGuffin. It’s been almost a year since I submitted to the magazine and the publication of this issue was four months delayed so FINALLY is appropriate.

And if you follow me on Facebook, you probably saw this slightly more planned post a little while later:

Doesn’t it look beautiful?

This has been a long time coming. I have a folder filled with drafts of this story. The oldest date I can find is April 2014 but my records tracking shows I started submitting it in January 2014, two years ago! I submitted it to a total of 14 literary magazines and had to withdraw it from four of those when The MacGuffin accepted me. They responded on May 1st 2015 and I’m just now seeing my name in print. It’s been a long journey.

I’m learning not to give up on the long game and the investment in writing. It will take a lot of work and a lot of drafts you should see how thick the folder is for this story). But this feeling is incredible. Nothing feels better than this. Nothing.

If you want to read it for yourself, you can order a copy from The MacGuffin website. Be sure to get the Fall 2015 edition.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Novel Girls: Credentials, Conferences and Taking a Break

30 Sep

This version of Novel Girls is a little less technical and more theoretical.  I hope you’ll leave a comment with your opinions.

Nicole and I met Thursday night to do our usual editing and pizza.  Before we got to the red-pen marking up, we were just chatting over our shared garlic butter and three things worth discussing came up.

The first is credentials as a writer.  I touched on this briefly in my post about being published.  When submitting a query letter, it’s recommended to list your credentials as a writer.  As of right now, all I have is my two stories published in Summer Legends.  That’s not much to go on!

I don’t have an English degree and the only reason I understand grammar at all is because I had to learn Spanish grammar.  I haven’t taken a creative writing class since high school.  I did well writing essays in college, but they were only essays (mostly business essays at that, which are a different category altogether).  I read a lot, which I think makes for a better writer, but that’s hardly a qualification.

So, what would I put on a query letter?  I was high school Lit Mag editor?  I have a blog with 32 followers?  I have a really really great personality?

I’ve read to just leave any references to your qualifications off if they don’t pertain to writing.  So ignore the fact I have two bachelors degrees, graduated Suma Cum Laude and work for a Fortune 500 company.  NO ONE CARES!  Right? I’m doomed to be the unqualified writer for the rest of my life.

Reader, what’s your opinion?  Am I out of the game without an English degree (and please don’t say MFA, I’m thinking MBA is a bit more applicable to the job which brings in some money)?  Besides being published in a journal, what kind of credentials could I gain before querying my novel?

The second thing we discussed, which kind of follows from the former, is writers conferences.  I’ve seen some places that say a writer was a participant in XYZ writer’s conference or workshop.  The first thing I think when I read this is that they took six months off of work to go sit in the woods with some hippies and write what came out of their acid-fueled dreams.  (PS- I know this isn’t true)  So what does one get out of going to these conferences?

I did my two-hit Google search research.  A lot of conferences seem to be weekend meetings where an writer can talk to authors, agents, publishers, etc. to get their advice and guidance.  That sounds awesome!  I’m not going to lie, I’d love to go to a conference.  There’s one locally that sounds great but it’s the weekend of my brother-in-law’s wedding.  I hope to go next year.

So my question is, what have you gotten out of a conference that made you a better/more successful writer?  Was the money/time invested worth it?  What are some things to look for to find a good conference?

And the last question.  It’s pretty timely as NaNo comes up.  Nicole told me her goal is to finish the novel she’s working on before NaNo so that she doesn’t have to stop in the middle of it.  I realized that I stopped for about six months in the middle of my first WIP.  Of course, I never stopped thinking about it but my job at the time was too demanding for me to do anything else.  When I switched to my current job, I had the time and I finished the manuscript.

Have you ever taken a prolonged break in the middle of a manuscript?  Was it to write another book, for a job, family, etc?  Did you feel you’d lost something when you came back to it?  Had you forgotten where you wanted to go?

I’d love to hear all of your thoughts on these three topics!  Please help give this fledgling writer some guidance.