Category Archives: Writing Tips

Meanwhile, Bruce Springsteen Keeps Working

notebookvellumsmallAs I read Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography, I’m delighted, but not surprised, to find that he is a superb storyteller and a beautiful writer.  Of course he is.  To a fiction writer, his  career  in music is a lesson in love of work and use of the lag time between early talent indicators and enormous success.

In the first quarter of the book, Springsteen talks about the times he lived in the back room of a surfboard shop, without ID or bank account.  His talent was strong, but his fans were few, and he worked on his music in the meantime.  His fans grew, and life got wilder, but the money was small, and he worked on his music in the meantime.  The money began to come in, but he knew he could be better, so he changed his direction, the money stopped, and he worked on his music in the meantime.  When the call came to play for Hammond, who ‘discovered’ Dylan, Springsteen had a strong folder of songs and was accepted, but the company said that he didn’t have a hit single, and so …

I wish I could thank people like Bruce Springsteen, who inspire aspirers. Springsteen got his chance later on to thank his inspiration, Bob Dylan, and instead found Dylan thanking him for playing his song at Kennedy Centre.  The greats are grateful.  They’re grateful for any moment they get to do their chosen work, and call it play.  And, in the meantime, they work to get even better.

Get Born to Run, by Bruce Springsteen here.  An amazing read.  The kind you savour.

I hope you’ll have another brilliant writing week.

Cheers to you, Mel

muse small

This week from @yourwritingmuse: I admire the way you deal with exchanges of power among characters in dialogue. These shifts and imbalances keep us reading your stories late into the night.  Your Writing Muse @pulpliterature

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The Writing Life: All Systems Go

We’ve got to have great big goals to get us out of bed in the morning. But we need to set systems into place in order to move towards them. The last thing we need is for goals to turn back into dreams.small coracle

Systems for limiting time on the Internet, keeping chaos at bay, making time for people, and keeping ourselves and our loved ones healthy. If we give some time to creating these systems, then we have the peace of mind that comes from life that is not necessarily perfect, but is warm and reasonably calm, and we’re working towards creating, for example, our five novels in five years.

Great goals set our course. Systems are about the process of moving towards them, and most success experts say that process, not product, gets us where we want to go.

 I hope you’ll have another brilliant writing week. Cheers Mel

muse smallThis week from @yourwritingmuse:

You make a point of learning new skills every day. No wonder your work is so good. Your Writing Muse #amwriting @pulpliterature

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Publication Platforms for Writers: Fifteen Minutes Outside the Hermit’s Cave

barefeetwithapplesmallWhether we publish through traditional means or independently, we’ll most likely want to think about creating a platform to support a writing career connects us to the larger prospects of authorship, such as the publication and marketing of our work.

Like anything else in our writing careers, each of the following could take us all day, all week, or even the rest of our lives, but setting a timer for 5 minutes and getting something done on each will add up quickly to progress and an understanding of the channels available to us.

  • social media & connecting with other writers, editors, and publishers
  • banking and bookkeeping
  • learning something new about writing, social media, design, etc

Every writer’s schedules, interests, and mileage will differ, as always, but touching base with writing communities, financial sustainability, and professional development can keep us active in the greater world outside. Sure, writers sometimes feel like metaphorical cave-dwelling hermits, but even real cave-dwelling hermits communicate with nature, eat, and try to be the best hermits they can be.

 I hope you’ll have another brilliant writing week. Cheers Mel.

muse smallThis week from @yourwritingmuseYou’ve devised a great writing space. No wonder you get so much done. From your fan, your Writing Muse 

Editorial and Red Flags

Backward ran sentences until reeled the mind. – Woolcott Gibbs

Notes from the acquisitions editor

Every acquisitions editor has a few red flags in a top desk drawer.  This list may save you time with rejections.smallpenandink

  1. Ten cent transitionals like suddenly, then, next, and realized.
  2. Actions that come after they occur (eg Stella walked on, having shut the door behind her.)
  3. Bouncing blonde curls (You wouldn’t believe how often I read stories where blonde curls bounce around.  Also, raven hair.)
  4. Without a doubt, paragraphs jam-packed with sentences beginning with modifying phrases.
  5. Dialogue tags like “chuckled”, “said flirtatiously”, “shouted”, “gasped”, “For which better dialogue can be substituted,” Mel advised testily.
  6. Exclamation points. (Excepted, the masters Ray Bradbury and Tom Wolfe.)
  7. Frequent adverbs, (excepted, the master Bill Bryson.)
  8. ALL CAPS DAMMIT.

However, there are no hard and fast rules.  Many editors think all use of the passive stinks like old fish, but two of my favourite writers, Wodehouse and Churchill, use the passive form a lot, and for excellent reasons, so the passive is not much of a red flag for me.  One reason authors love writing is that we enjoy our creative freedom.  Do what you like, really, for there will be editors who are fine with ! and Iy.   I read somewhere that McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies was rejected many times for its slow start, and it became an adored bestseller. (Note: the previous sentence was in passive form because the manuscript was more important than the editors who rejected it).

How comforting it is to know that none of us will ever catch everything.  That’s why we employ brilliant, talented copy editors to work over our manuscripts.  Pay them. Pay them more than they ask.

 I hope you’ll have another brilliant writing week. Cheers Mel

MuseThis week from @yourwritingmuseI admire the way your first paragraph gives us time, place, tone, and hints at the central conflict. Your Writing Muse

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Allaigna’s Song: Overture

Pre-order Allaigna’s Song: Overture by JM Landels
here, in beautiful print.

A great new read in fantasy, Allaigna’s Song: Overture  never fails to intrigue and satisfy my love of adventure and superbly drawn characters.

allaigna-adFrom the very first page, JM Landels draws us into Allaigna’s brilliantly observed world, a land rich in conflict and magic.  Jen is a gifted storyteller and gives her readers those greatest of rewards, surprise turns and great character growth and transformation.  Subtle and powerful, her writing always pleases.

In her first paragraphs, Jen shows her craft and genius in world-building, centering the reader firmly in a resonant family picture, rooting us into a land teetering on the verge of war.  Danger gathers all around the flawed and appealing young Allaigna.  Royal and empowered with magical abilities she has yet to discover, she feels the same fears that any young child might fear, of loss of a mother’s attention, and an uncertain place in her father’s kingdom.

Jen had me at Allaigna’s first song, when the little girl comes close to killing the new prince, her brother.  It’s a book you won’t be able to put down.

– Mel

Get the full novel here, along with terrific rewards, in the Kickstarter campaign to start up a boutique publishing house, with Allaigna’s Song: Overture  leading the way to more fantasy, science fiction, mystery, steampunk, and historica titles.stella-allaigna-2-small

Hurry!  The  campaign ends Thursday!

 

The Writer’s Delight

Wondering what to give the writer in your life?  Look no further than Something Novel where you’ll find …

The Writer’s Delight

Limited Reward!  Jam-packed with Writing Value. You receive:book &Pen small

  •  The Writer’s Boon Companion, the motivating, illustrated 30-day writing guide
  • a detailed critique of up to 1000 words of your short story or work in progress by one of the Pulp Lit editors.
  • A print subscription to Pulp Literature (Additional back issues or years of Pulp Literature can be added for $25 per four issues.)
  • Allaigna’s Song: Overture
  • Stella Ryman and the Fairmount Manor Mysteries.

This is a steal of a deal at the $100 reward level.  But hurry! There are only 9 left!

Looking for more great gift ideas?  Head on over to Something NovelWe even send gift cards!3-notecards

Time Management for Writers: Self Motivation

polycarpSelf-motivation is one of the great time management tools available to writers, and one of the most pleasant to employ.  If you’re geared up, it’s far easier to sit your butt in that chair and type.

One powerful way to self-motivate is to take a minute to contemplate our greater goals.  Picture the ideal life you want.  Spend a little time with the writer you intend to be — the writers you really are.  How will you spend your days?

The bigger the goal, the more challenging and meaningful it is.  As writers we can envision reaching it, without worrying about how we’ll take every step along the way.  Maybe we’ll have to slog every step, but writers love writing, so that’s completely okay.  Or maybe, from time to time, fortune will shine on us, through an opportunity for swift advancement that a writer’s hard work has readied each of us to accept.

If a career goal is our true desire, and if we can picture ourselves winning it, then the small steps we take towards it have more meaning.  And they may be more fun, especially if thinking about that red carpet to a writing nomination at the Oscars is on your mind, or a signing, or a great big royalty cheque.  Our goal may well be to write while smiling broadly.   These are the working moments when a writer feels as if time stands still, and (I smile as I type) it’s truly amazing how much we can get done when it feels like time stands still.

With a great attitude and steady incremental preparation, we are a long way towards creating the author’s life we want and deserve.

I hope it’s another brilliant writing day for you.

Cheers

Mel

For more inspiration from Mel, check out The Writer’s Boon Companion available till December 1st only on Something Novel.

Creative Writer’s Delight $150

pen2smallHere’s where to get more great rewards: Pulp Literature Press, Something Novel.

Creative Writer’s Delight

The Creative Writer’s Delight package is jam-packed with rewards for writers:

  • boontitlepagesmallThe Writer’s Boon Companion, a 30 day pocket guide to writing
  • a critique of up to 1000 words of your short story or work in progress.
  • A print subscription to Pulp Literature
  • Allaigna’s Song: Overture
  • Stella Ryman and the Fairmount Manor Mysteries.
  • plus, full membership  to the Creative Ink Literary Festival from 31 March to 2 April 2017 in Burnaby, BC.  Don’t miss this amazing conference for writers, readers, and artists! There are only 3 available.
  • All these awards plus a festival membership for only $150!
  • Additional back issues or years of Pulp Literature can be added for $25 per four issues.

 Here’s where to get more great rewards: Pulp Literature Press, Something Novel.

On, Beside, Atop the Standing Desk

editorial-writer-forest-smallThe standing desk began to trend on Facebook a while back.  Churchill used one to write and edit.  Learning this, I perk up and look more deeply into the concept.

Companies are still making standing desks.  I don’t care for the look, though. And, I already have a desk with drawers and a flat surface.

So, I look at raising my writing desk to standing desk level.  What if I were to balance  it on stacks of books, once I know what  height it should be. So, I measure the distance between the top of my head and the screen, then subtract the difference between the top of my head and the floor sitting, and standing.  Or something. And come up with a number of centimeters that put my desk in a weird half-space at the window and me working in full view of all my neighbours, which is distracting to creative thought, especially with the desk falling off the stacks of books all the time.

I check out portable Victorian pulpits. Small ones, you know. They do exist, ebay-ers, but our flat is also small, and there is really nowhere to put one except the bathroom, and then the hamper will have to sit on the bed.

But, man, I’m picturing Churchill, standing at his desk to work (when not working in his bath). There’s got to be a way.

So, I measure the kitchen counter, which is 4 cm too short, and find a big wide book that measures 4 cm from the countertop to support my laptop. I put a block of wood at my foot to act as a foot rail, like the ones in wild-west bars. True, I have to clear my laptop away to cook at all, and wipe down my counter to work, but the view of the Victorian pub, sometimes accessorized with Morris dancers, traffic accidents, and magpie battles, inspires me.  And the extra movement and shifting of position, when combined with taking walks outside, helps enhance this happy-brain profession so that it’s a more movement-oriented career.  As well, for those of us working on computer screens, it’s well to know that we’re meant to look up and focus into the distance every few minutes. I find I do that when I’m standing far more than when I’m sitting.

Now, to turn off my wifi.  Lovely.  Oh! Look, a squirrel.

Cheers, Mel

Pulp Literature is running, with terrific rewards, a Kickstarter campaign to startup a boutique publishing house, with Allaigna’s Song: Overture  leading the way to more fantasy, science fiction, mystery, steampunk, and historica titles.

45eeddf5c7712aa1b4db548092c36a3b_originalHere’s where to get it: Kickstarter’s Pulp Literature Press, Something Novel.

Beat the Mid-November Blues

confidante-smallWriting is often a lonely business by necessity.  After all, it most often comes down to you and the blank page, and company is at best a distraction and at worst a hindrance.  But what if you had a quiet friend and confidante who was silent when you needed silence, yet ready with suggestions and words of encouragement when you need them most?

We introduce to you The Writer’s Friend and Confidante, a journal in which you’ll find thirty days of inspiration, tips and exercises, timely advice for each act of your story, and images to feed your eye and make you smile when you approach every lily-pale page.

confidante-day-3

Best of all, we’re offering this workbook as a thank you gift to everyone who backs our Something Novel Kickstarter Campaign before November 16th.

So if you’re feeling the mid-month NaNoWriMo lag, you’re fresh out ideas, or your novel needs an ending, ask The Writer’s Friend and Confidante for timely and helpful advice.