Alice’s Restaurant

July 28, 2007

Building a Web Site

Filed under: writing, Writing Craft, Writing Life — aliceaudrey @ 12:50 am

As an unpublished author, what do you put on your web site?  I feel so silly pushing myself this way, but want to do something.  Everyone says it’s important to have an Internet presence, and it’s never too soon to get started, but really, I’m not so sure.  If editors and agents don’t bother to look at a writer’s web site, then it seems like a lot of work.

On the other hand, I think it helps other writers see where I’m coming from when I say some of the things I say about writing process.  I’m not a flash in the pan.  I have completed several books.  You can even see whether or not one of them is any good because I put a link to the first chapter on the web site.

Yet I have run into a lot of technical problems, and each time a link fails to work no matter what I do, I have to ask the question, is this really necessary?  Do I really need to set up an individual link to each Suzie’s House episode?  Do I really need the link to the first chapter of Zackly Right?  Do I want to hide the fact I’ve write so many books, or that Zackly Right hasn’t won a contest since 2005.  Actually, it wasn’t official until 2006, but how can I say that when the name of the contest includes the 2005 date?  Should I bother to say I’ve only entered it in two contests since that win, and one of them was the Golden Heart?

I love blogging.  Do I highlight it?  Should I make that the second page, or leave it the last one listed?  Does it matter?

So many questions.

Do you have a web site?  What’s the URL?  What do you recommend to someone who isn’t published yet?


July 14, 2007

Kissing the Blarney Stone

Filed under: writing, Writing Craft, Writing Life — aliceaudrey @ 9:17 am

How do you make yourself write?  I don’t need to know for myself.  At this late stage in the game I’m pretty comfortable with writer’s block and getting around it.  I need to know so I have something worth saying to those who are suffering.

When you have something to write about, but it may not be real clear yet, and you have the time, and the word processor is launched with a blank page waiting, how do you get over the lets-sharpen-the-pencil-one-more-time hurdle?

I do it by mentally kissing the Blarney stone.  Not that I imagine myself held by my ankles over a castle wall.  Knowing my imagination the next thing I’d visualize is the landing when the people holding my ankles gave out.

What I do is think about the way it feels to be chatty.  I spent most of my childhood as a chatterbox.  It’s easy to remember the pleasant vibration in my chest, the joy of forming words with lips and tongue, and the strange other-space my mind would occupy while going on and on about the metaphysics of bubble gum.

I visualize it, then wish for it, then channel it through my fingers.  Suddenly coming up with words isn’t so hard anymore.

I’m sure not everyone is so talkative.  So what do you do to get through that odd little barrier between about to write and writing?


June 30, 2007

When Do You Show Your Work?

Filed under: writing, Writing Craft, Writing Life — aliceaudrey @ 12:05 am

Do you keep your writing to yourself until the entire book is done?  Or do you like to be cheered on as you go?  Do you write to your vision, to your audience, or both?

My first three attempts at writing a book went bust.  The second attempt in particular was spectacular because I spent twenty years on it, and never once got close to the end.  I showed it to anyone who would sit still long enough for me to put it under their nose, and got all kinds of conflicting feedback.  That book left a mental scar.

It took me seven months to write my first Romance.  I pushed myself mercilessly, forcing the words out and demanding all kinds of time from my family.  I was afraid if I didn’t get it done quickly, I’d never finish it at all.  When I had finished the rough draft I thought I was done.  I showed it to my mother.  She damned it with faint praise.

Frankly, knowing my mother I doubt she will ever wax rhapsodic over anything I write, so damning with faint praise isn’t as bad as it sounds.  Still, it wasn’t very encouraging.

I immediately threw myself into revisions, and made what I thought was good progress, then sent it off to Leisure.  I got a personal rejection letter – not just a form letter – out of that submission.  Again, faint praise, but some encouragement.

My next several books were all written with the same kind of fever, a kind of desperation to prove to myself that I would actually write the book.  I got a lot written in the years before I found a critique group. 

Since finding the critique group my rate of production has plummeted.  I’ve been focusing on revision instead.  I never showed anything to any of my CP’s that didn’t have at least a completed rough draft if not a fair amount of polish.  However, I’ve stripped books down and rebuilt them so much that sometimes my CP’s were seeing material fresh off the press.

I am now at the point where I have written 15 books, but have no completes.  Zackly Right seems to be close, but the first time someone points out a soft spot, you know I’ll be rebuilding it again.  A couple of years ago I was sure Serpent’s Teeth was done.  It’s currently getting a new villain.  I’m not sure where to stop.

For a long time my advice to anyone who hadn’t completed at least a rough draft was to NOT go around getting feedback or do anything until the rough draft was done.  I still think this is a good way to do it because the vision for the book is less likely to twist out from under you as you write.  In the back of my mind will always be that second book, which got revised from scratch four times though it never came close to having an ending.

However, I’m beginning to think it’s a bit like jumping the pool.  I’m firmly in the just-jump-in-and-get-it-over-with camp.  Others are in the ease-in-slowly group.  I’m quite willing to keep on writing when the writing isn’t going well because I know I’ll discover what I need to fix earlier parts later on.  However, I’ve seen for myself how much easier it can be to write when you go back and fix something that’s gone awry before moving on.

So which group are you in?  Which way do you do it?  If you could pass a message into the past, what would you tell yourself?


June 16, 2007

Workshops on FanLit Forever

Filed under: FanLit, writing, Writing Craft, Writing Life, Writing Technique — aliceaudrey @ 11:24 am

A while back I asked if anyone would be interested in having me run a workshop in The Workshop board on FanLit Forever.  The response was a resounding “Yeah, sure.”

Despite the fact I am a rank amateur who has never run a workshop in her life, I’ve decided to go for it.  Maybe, with luck, we can talk a published author into coming in and doing it right.

Actually, I’m going to run two at the same time.  I’m calling one “Details” and will focus on wording.  Not grammar or spelling!  We will have to get Pollyanna to run that workshop.  By wording I mean things as far flung as where to put a chapter break, how to handle dialogue tags, showing vs telling etc.

The other I’m calling “Story” and will focus on plotting, characterization, etc.

Hopefully we’ll all get something out of this.  And if not, I’ll chalk it up to a learning experience.

Both workshops will begin this Monday.


June 14, 2007

Romance In the Air

Filed under: Day to Day Life, Romance, Writing Life — aliceaudrey @ 12:24 am

Am I the only one who sees an awful lot of Romance in the Comics lately?  Check it out:

From June 5th

June 5th


June 6, 2007

Zack is Ready

Filed under: Writing Life — aliceaudrey @ 2:38 pm

Note to self.  Today I unleashed Zack in the unsuspecting FanLitters.  God forgive me.


May 5, 2007

Suzie’s House – Where Next?

Filed under: Writing Life — aliceaudrey @ 3:42 pm

Most of the time I have only a vague idea what I’m going to do with Suzie’s House until I sit down to write it, which I frequently get around to on Thursday.  This week I don’t even have a glimmer.

So, what would you like to see next?  Anyone’s Point of View of particular interest to you?  Any particular relationship you’d like to see explored?  Any issue on your mind?  Let me know.


May 2, 2007

Truth in Critique

Filed under: Writing Life — aliceaudrey @ 11:00 am

Probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my writing career is critique other people’s writing.

You may have noticed I’m a big fan of balance.  I seriously believe everything in life comes down to it.  Critique is no exception.  In critique the balance is between truth and encouragement.

It’s easy to critique someone who doesn’t need it.  Then truth and encouragement come together for form one big “Wonderful!  Excellent!  Send it out!”  That leaves the other 80 percent of us who are struggling to achieve some level of excellence in our work and NEED feedback to help get us there.

The more the writer needs the feedback, the harder it is to come up with a critique that is both truthful and encouraging.  Sometimes simply being truthful is a burden because there are so many things wrong with a piece.  Then encouragement might come in the form of simply not listing everything.

On the other hand, without truth there can be no improvement.  I, for one, would much prefer a highly discouraging but insightfully critique to one that glosses over everything to make it look like I’m doing well when I’m not.  Nothing ticks me off more than contest results with low numbers and nothing but praise.  If it deserved all the praise, where are the high scores?

As Mona Risk has said many times, “I’d rather hear it from you <her critique partners> than from an editor.”  More to the point, if she didn’t have truthful critique partners, all she would be hearing from an editor is, “This does not meet our needs at this time.”

The result is that I have become a nasty critique partner.  I seriously apologize to everyone I’ve critiqued in the last five years – particularly you, Nancy.  I’ve always been inclined to be a bit brusque.  Now that my patience with critiquing has settled to nearly zero my comments have leaned toward the harsh.  I simply am not willing to be encouraging at the expense of truth.

Likewise, I don’t want to hear platitudes regarding my writing.  Yes, it hurt to hear my baby maligned, but it hurts worse to think I’ve got something good and send it out to a slew of form letter rejections.


April 26, 2007

Golden Heart

Filed under: Writing Life — aliceaudrey @ 7:41 am

Got my results back.  Sigh.  Maybe next year.

 Did you enter?  If so, how did you do?


April 22, 2007

Patricia McLinn Contest

Filed under: Writing Life — aliceaudrey @ 12:27 am

I do a little work for Patricia McLinn.  I help her handle submissions to her contests.  The last one she ran involved questions that could only be answered if you had read a book released by a small press.  It didn’t get a lot of response.  Previous contests didn’t tie in that closely to her work, and brought in hundreds of entries.

She has asked me to help come up with a contest idea.  I’m drawing a complete blank.  Has anyone here ever read any of her books?  Most of them are Heart-warming Harlequin Super Romances generally set in Illinois or Wyoming, and tend to include lots of people and some reference to sports.

Any ideas for a contest for her?  I’m thinking it should be something people could answer without reading her books, but that relates more closely than “What’s your favorite flower.”  I’d greatly appreciate any suggestions anyone here comes up with. 

In the spirit of TessaD and Amy/India I’ll give one of my copies of her books to someone who comments here.  Unlike them, I’ll give you a few days to come up with something.  I’ll post the winner Wednesday.



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