I often get feedback from new writers who lament the long response time (or no response at all) to their requested queries/proposals/fulls to agents and editors. I empathize with them, but I also try to help them understand the daily story of an industry professional’s life.
I have yet to sit on the other side of the desk as an acquisitions editor, nor have I been an agent, but I have many editor and agent friends. I’ve come to empathize with both sides of the story—for those submitting and those receiving.
Here’s a peek into the publishing side.
“I just want to stay home and write.”
If you’re like most writers who work full time, you’ve probably said these words at least once a month. Or if you’re like me, once a day. Forty-plus hours a week at a demanding job can suck your emotional energy to the point of going home and binge-watching Garage Wars.
What’s an aspiring writer to do? If you’re looking toward a writing career, you need a plan. These five tips will help you determine how quickly you’ll move from “I just want to stay home and write,” to “Hey, look at me! I’m in my favorite yoga pants.”
To write poems children enjoy, these tips will help:
Get to know kids!
Being around children from preschoolers to teens lets you know what’s on their minds. Research their areas of interests and stages of development, and read the poems they like.
Keep each line in line with the age of your readers.
The younger the child, the simpler a poem needs to be. For instance, young children love a bouncy beat. When they’re learning words, they enjoy the sounds of rhyming words and alliteration.
Turn up the volume.
By repeating the first sound of a word within a line, the resulting alliteration will enliven the sound and tempo of your poem. For example, “Big, bright beads of rain wet down the window.” If you carry sounds to extreme, alliteration creates kid-friendly tongue twisters such as “Suzy sells seashells by the seashore.”
Use strong nouns and active verbs for rhyming pairs.
Every single time I attend a writing conference or workshop, I always hear the same thing:
“I love being with my tribe!”
“Can’t wait to get working on my project now. I’m inspired!”
“I wish there were more opportunities to get together!”
Writing is a solitary profession. Tucked away in a dark corner of Starbucks, or in our lonely home offices, we often crave the companionship of those who understand our mild obsessions with a perfect verb, and don’t judge us when we fawn over grammatically correct sentences.
Critique groups, like those offered through Inspire Christian Writers, are a wonderful antidote for the problem. Through them, you’ll get wonderful feedback, encouragement, and a chance to soak up some much-needed fellowship.
But not everybody has the ability to get plugged into a local critique group. And some of us need more connection time than even they can offer. Enter the idea of a Writer’s Retreat.
Here are some top reasons for attending one:
My latest novel, Home, is about an author who runs away. But what does it look like when an author loses her way?
It looks a lot like this…
A Lost Author
Awareness comes slowly. The whirring of a fan. The rhythmic snore of a dog somewhere near my feet. Lids heavy, I open my eyes to darkness. No need to look at the clock on the nightstand, my internal alarm is set for 3:45 AM this week.
I tell myself to go back to sleep, knowing I can’t. Or won’t? It doesn’t matter, a shot has already sounded and my mind is off and running. A sprint toward something I don’t take time to define. Maybe I don’t want to define it.
Ideas spin, each more profitable than the last. My heart rate quickens.
What color were her eyes again? How long has he had this job? When did she break her arm, and is she out of her cast yet?
When we’re writing a novel, details threaten to swamp us. We waste time tracking them down. We waste time fixing them during editing. And when we mess up, we drive our copy editors—or our readers!—crazy.
A character chart can save time and headaches.
I use a simple table in Microsoft Word, but you can use Excel or Scrivener as well. The “search” or “find” feature in these programs allows you to quickly locate information. Since I write three-book series, I keep a running chart for the series to make sure I don’t duplicate names or overuse character features.
I set up the skeleton of my chart before I start the rough draft (I’m an outliner), enter information in the chart as I write the rough draft, then clean it up during the editing process. When I turn in my manuscript, I also send my character chart—the editorial staff at my publishing house loves this!
Here’s a snippet of the chart from my latest World War II novel, When Tides Turn, showing the main characters, Tess Beaumont and Dan Avery.