Thursday, February 28, 2008


Just about anywhere you submit your writing will have guidelines for you to follow. Some places offer very detailed guidelines, right down to telling you how big a margin to have on each page (usually 1-inch all the way around) and what font to use (12-point Times New Roman seems to be popular). Other places have guidelines that are so vague they leave you with more questions than before.

No matter how detailed or vague, it's imperative you read the guidelines before submitting. This means that if the publisher doesn't want to see any zombie stories, don't decide your zombie thriller is just so well-written the publisher will make an exception just for you. It won't. All you'll do is waste an editor's time by submitting something that never had a chance of being accepted. Editors and agents have precious little time as it is. The guidelines are in place to help protect their time as much as possible.

If you read and follow the guidelines as closely as possibly before submitting anywhere, you'll do two things: increase you chances of getting accepted, and you'll make the editor or agent's life just a little easier by not sending something they don't accept ever.

Yes, guidelines can be just that: guidelines, not hard and fast rules. Publishers and agents might occasionally make an exception for something so well-written they fall in love with it. But 99.9% of the time, if the manuscript doesn't follow the guidelines, it will get rejected without a second thought. Don't make the mistake of assuming your manuscript is the .1% exception; odds say it isn't. I know it's hard to realize that not everyone will love your story as much as you do, but that's the way the writing world works. It's pretty subjective and what one editor hates, another might love.

The important thing to remember is to research anywhere you're thinking of submitting and read the guidelines carefully. If your manuscript doesn't meet what the publisher or agent is looking for, look somewhere else. Not only will you be saving the editor or agent from wasting time on something they'll never accept, you'll increase your chances of acceptance by submitting to the appropriate market.

Happy writing, and remember to read the guidelines!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Stay tuned for more....

Due to a nasty cold given to me by my niece and a ton of editing work (both for other writers and my own work), I don't have anything creative to post today. I'll try to post something useful or at least entertaining on Thursday.

In the meantime, check out the blogs listed on the right side of this page. See you Thursday, and happy writing!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Made it!

Despite a two-year-old with a cold (which she gave to me), I managed to meet my deadline! I'm totally stoked! Now I just need to get into the swing of editing with a clingy munchkin on my lap. I've already figured out how to type while holding her; I'm doing it right now.

Anyway, I don't have any great writing or editing advice today other than to set a reasonable goal and do your best to reach it. Yes, life gets in the way sometimes, but if the goal is reasonable enough given whatever your life situation is you can still reach it. Even if it takes you a day longer than you thought. Thanks to this copywriting job, I learned that if you set a writing goal that has you completing the job a few days before your deadline, you can still meet the deadline even with a surprise visit from your favorite niece and an unexpected cold that leaves her clinging to you like a leech.

Well, I'm off to continue comforting a toddler who doesn't feel good. Happy writing!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Freelancing with a Two-year-old

Yes, being a freelancer with a two-year-old in the house is an adventure. I'm learning a few things about writing copy while keeping one eye on a toddler. I keep both ears on her; silence when there's a toddler around can be scary. My niece is very well-behaved though, and I'm so proud of her for it. She's "helped" me work (sitting on my lap and pointing out everything on the monitor), she insisted I had to eat lunch with her (an identical lunch, of course), and she's discovered that grown-ups munch on dry cereal sometimes, too. The unfortunate part of all of this is that my work is taking about three times as long as it had been.

I am gaining a deeper admiration for moms who freelance. I don't know how they do it full-time, especially with little children. It's tiring, frustrating, and sometimes a lot of fun. That sense of wonder as the two-year-old watches you type and figures out that all that typing is what makes things appear on the screen is great. I'm learning to take advantage of nap time and bed time to catch up. Also, when Grandma and Grandpa take the munchkin out for a while.

If any of you freelance with little ones in your house, I admire you. I'm still trying to figure out how to meet a deadline with a toddler around. Can you share some of your secrets of success?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

February 14th is considered by some to be the most romantic day of the year; other's view it as a commercialized waste of time. I think Valentine's Day is a sweet holiday.

Now, to make this post writing related, what better day to read a new romance than Valentine's day? The Wild Rose Press is celebrating their Sweetheart Rose line this month with a special deal: if you buy one Sweetheart Rose story, you get a Sweetheart Rose short story free! Sweetheart Roses are sweet romances that will leave you with a good feeling.

If writing is more your speed, why not take the time to write a romantic story or a romantic scene involving Valentine's Day? This is a great way to practice your writing skills and maybe try a new style of writing. Keep in mind, you don't have to write romance just for adults. Teens like romance, too. You could even write a Valentine's story for kids, though you might not want to focus too much on romance. A girl having a crush on a boy in her class or a boy having a crush on a girl could lead to a very cute, sweet story.

Enjoy this holiday celebrating romance and love. Happy writing!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Busy Days...Ain't It Grand?

I officially started my first freelance copywriting job this morning. It was a little difficult at first, but I quickly got into the swing of things. I still have a long way to go before the job is complete, but I'm a little ahead of schedule. Things are good.

On the editing front, I'm still loving it. I got to talk with some of my fellow editors last night. They are an awesome group! They answered a couple of questions for me, listened to my ideas, and we all had a good time. Have I mentioned that I love being an editor?

As for writing, that's hit kind of an odd spot. I have a ton of ideas, multiple beginnings for stories, and not nearly enough time to write it all. One of the stories I'm determined to finish this year (hopefully by summer) is the same one I entered the first of in Nathan Bransford's Surprisingly Essential First Page Challenge. It might be going a little better, but the characters have decided to do things I didn't expect. That's one of the hazards of writing without an outline; you have to be adaptable because the story doesn't always progress the way you originally thought. Of course, I've heard people who write with outlines say the same thing.

Well, that's all I have time for today, kids. So until next time, stay positive and keep writing!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

A Few Definitions

I've realized recently that writers and editors use some unique abbreviations and terms. Here are definitions of some of them in no particular order:

POV - point of view
POV character - the character whose eyes the story is told through
ms - manuscript
mss - manuscripts
MC - main character
H/H - hero/heroine
headhopping - skipping from one POV to another repeatedly within a scene
narrative summary - telling the story like you're writing a newspaper article
YA - young adult
MG - middle-grade
PB - picture book; can also mean paperback

There are more, but I'm drawing a blank right at the moment on what they are. That tells you how ingrained they are in my vocabulary. If you've come across a writing-related term or abbreviation that you don't understand or think others should know about, leave a comment and I'll include the definition in a future post.

Monday, February 4, 2008


I'm reminded of the old Garfield comic strips where he complains about it being Monday again. I agree completely. Another work week with too much to do and not enough time to do it. Another week to wait for responses on submissions. I got three rejections last week and found out this morning that my first page isn't a finalist in the Surprisingly Essential First Page Challenge. However, the finalists have been posted, so run over to Nathan Bransford's blog and vote for your favorite.

What else does this new week have in store? Writing, editing, reviewing, revising. I know, all the usual stuff, right? Well, there are a couple of other things I need to do that are far from usual. I need to give my self a crash course in ballroom dancing competition terminology and steps, and I need to learn more about bike messengers. Bizarre combination, huh? I love learning about unusual things, especially if I can easily find what I'm looking for. With these two topics, I'm having trouble finding what I need.

Everyone have a great week of writing! Check back on Thursday for more scintillating information about my writing life and writing in general.