Guest Blogger: Shari Klase!

Shari is doing a very interesting series on her blog about writers who spent their lives as recluses. I asked her if she thought it was possibe to be a recluse or an introvert today and still be a writer. I find as an introvert, social media to be very difficult, but Shari’s answer surprised me!

Enjoy! And Thank you Shari!

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In olden days reclusive writers were very mysterious and romantic. Now, however, a writer who is also a recluse is viewed as a social misfit. I think we have to take into account that often the reason writers became recluses was because they were already famous and hounded by the media. If you’re a best selling writer, you can own your eccentricities with a lot more grace than we novices can afford.

Is it possible to be a reclusive writer in modern times? I’d still say yes, but with caveats. No man is an island, but with today’s social media spectrum it is easier than in former times. You can promote yourself through Facebook, Twitter, your own websites and blogs. It is possible to know people, even a great deal of them, without once meeting a person face to face. Sooner or later, though, in order to be a best selling author, there will be a need to talk to an actual person; say a book store owner or book seller, or even potential people who may buy your books at a book signing, if you’re fortunate enough to have one of those. Rude, discourteous writers seldom make sales.

Here are some ways to be a writing recluse:

1. Frequent social media. Most writers prefer a written exchange over a verbal exchange, so use that to your advantage. Write your own blog. Comment on other writers’ blogs. Promote yourself via Twitter and Facebook.

2. Submit online. In the beginning, I left a paper trail with every magazine publisher I felt inclined to submit to. I ran myself dry on copy ink and visited the post office clerks like they were family members. I wasted a lot of money and time this way. Now, I almost always submit online. Whether you want to publish a book, a nonfiction article or a story, there are many opportunities via the internet. Find your comfortable niche and start submitting frequently to the places you feel best represent your style.

3. Write under a pseudonym. If you want to be strictly anonymous, a fake name is a good way to go. The same can be said if you want to explore different avenues of writing. This can be good or bad. The good: No one knows who you are. The bad: No one knows who you are.

4. Write well, or even better write masterfully. As was stated before, you can afford your privacy if you have a few accolades, contracts and checks or Paypal money under your belt.

5. Have a second job. If you don’t depend on your writing money, you have freedom to be selective. The problem with this solution is that a job often eats into your writing time or drains you of energy to write, so you have to be a more disciplined writer. Often times this turns your craft into a hobby instead of a job. This can also be helpful because there is less pressure to make sales since you already have an income.

My final questions is, do you really want to be a reclusive writer? I suspect that most of us who claim that term are recluses for one simple reason; we are not much in demand. We are actually cocooned butterflies just waiting to spread our wings.

 

Free Form Question + Odds and Ends

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Hey Guys!

Sorry for my absence. My schedule has been very strange because my kids have been home from school so much. We’ve had holidays, inservices, illnesses and parent teacher conferences. My son keeps telling me he only has two full weeks of school left. The rest of his weeks all have a day off. Noooooooo!

They are older now, but I still don’t like to ignore them completely :)

All of my writing time has been dedicated to getting another episode done and another episode published. I don’t recall if I told you my complete publishing schedule for the year, but I essentially have something coming out every month. In April I have two stories coming out, which was not in the original plan but added on by me after our yearly meeting. So far I’m staying up with the schedule, but it’s pretty intense. I’m already thinking the story due out in July is not going to happen. But if I stay on it for six months, I’ll be pretty proud.

Something I’ve noticed that is getting worse while I’m writing fast is my descriptions. I never want to stop the action to fill in the description of the surroundings. I know we’ve talked about this on the blog before, but it’s an area all writers have to deal with and be good at so I think it’s worth covering again. So today’s free form question is about description. I’ll post everyone’s answer in the main blog on Sunday or Monday. Feel free to get a long discussion going…I need help! 😀

How do you fit in description? How much description do you enjoy reading? I used to read Marilyn Stewert books and she had quite a bit of description in her romance suspense, but when I started reading her Merlin books, the description became too much. I don’t like pages and pages of scenery. What do you like and what do you do?

Inspiring Yourself

So I flooded my bathroom and bedroom. Yay. Fortunately, not to much got damaged. I’ve been wanting to clean out my closet for awhile, which made this a somewhat productive accident. My husband has been really great helping me. We got a lot of water up yesterday/last night/early morning, and the carpet is still soaked! So round two after I post this. Unfortunately, I was really on a writing roll, but the wheels fell off now.

Last week, an article about making money as an indie author really got me down because this person was making way more than me. So I asked readers how they inspire themselves to keep writing during times of self-doubt. Thanks for all the thoughtful responses. They helped me, so I hope they help the Enchanted Spark Community!

I’m not even sure how to respond to this. There are definitely days I don’t push through and I wallow in self-pity. Then, there are days I am thankful for all I have accomplished and I work through it. I imagine even those who are successful have the same motivational issues. It’s just plain hard to sit down and write. Sometimes, even when I have an idea to write about, I don’t want to write. I’d rather do almost anything than write (read, watch tv, facebook, go out and play in the snow, yeah, right!, or even twiddle my thumbs) In the long run, we just have to make a decision to do it, whether we’re into it or not. It’s all about looking at the long term goals. Do we want to be an author who can be taken seriously? Or do we just want to be mediocre all our lives?

Dave Barz:

Just like we shouldn’t directly compare our writing to another author, we should definitely avoid comparing paystubs. When the dumptruck of money arrives in my driveway some day, I will be pleasantly surprised, but it is not an expectation.

With my current project I have had up and down weeks and scrapped my beginning after letting a group of strangers shred it on the internet. To cheer myself up I read those stories that did work, that people enjoyed and told me they enjoyed them, be they family, friends, betas, or professors. You got this far with some encouragement, hang on to that and push forward. We want to read what you write next.

Other than checking emails or looking up a date/fact, I try to stay off the internet until I’m done my writing goals. Otherwise, I always seem to come across something negative that depresses me and affects my goals for the day. On the days I’m not so self-disciplined and I do get depressed from the internet, I tend to switch over to other writerly things that need to be done outside of actual writing (getting caught up on emails, updating my website, things like that).

Ooh, I like Holly’s advice to stay off the Internet until she’s done with her writing goals.

I’m like Dave, above, in that the money part of it isn’t even a factor in my writing right now. Those numbers are really pretty good sounding. I’d like to make some money writing. It would definitely feel good. Lord knows I could use it, but TIME is my biggest challenge. I still need my day job, so with everything else that needs to get done time is limited.

After pushing and pushing in November to blog every day and also work on my story, I still found my total word count to be a little depressing. It was a lot better than I had been doing, but still paltry compared to “real writers.” At this rate I’ll finish a novel in about three to five years. Haha. I don’t want to wallow in self-doubt but I am going to wallow from time to time.

So to keep going (which I am trying to do right now) I find the following helpful: A.) Don’t spend too much time comparing myself to anybody else. This is in total agreement with Holly’s advice. Just set goals and meet goals and then do other stuff. B.) No matter how much of a struggle it is right now. It can get better. I can get better. I can learn more about how it all works. I can make the most of what I write. The only way it won’t happen is if I stop. Breaks are going to happen, but no stopping!

Yoda says, “Do or do not. There is no try.”

As far as getting writing done, there really is “do or do not.” You either do it or you won’t. Just write. As far as success goes, there should always be, “try.” Keep trying and keep trying and keep trying. Because failure has almost always been part of success, so try you must. Always.

Melinda:

What made me keep working this time was the blizzard on the East Coast. Julie had everything for the episode edited except for the last part I was still writing. I knew she’d be shoveling snow and the power might go out, and she wouldn’t be able to edit if I didn’t get it to her before Friday morning. So after a bit of boo-hoo I got back to work. I’m so glad I did because it means we’re publishing the first release of the New Year on time! I’m only one away from my sales goal for the month, so all the sales of Episode 5 will be cream…as long as I didn’t make readers mad with Episode 4 😀

But other times when I don’t have a natural disaster looming, I turn to humor. My current favorite inspiration is below. NSFW!!!!!

Actual Writing Advice: Online Presence, Blogging

This is probably not the type of writing advice you were looking for, for those of you who canstockphoto5358023said they liked the writing advice blogs, but some people have mentioned looking into establishing themselves online. Online presence has been very much on my mind since I decided to go indie. I’ve been doing more research this last year into blogs, Facebook, Twitter and even Pinterest. I’m by no means an expert or even very good, but I have a few tips that might help you if you are in the beginning steps.

Before I get into it, I want to say that your story writing should always be top priority. If you are pressed for time and need to skimp on something, skimp on your online presence and write your stories. If you are an indie author, especially, you need to get more and more titles available so if a reader likes one book, they might buy the next and the next and so on.

I believe in getting new titles out so much that I almost quit blogging entirely. The reason I decided not to kill my blog was Spark Tally. I don’t talk to writers in person much, so Spark Tally has long been my connection to other people doing the same thing. I couldn’t visualize it as an email group or a Facebook thing, so I decided to keep blogging.

But now I’m all in with the blogging.

So here are my tips: Continue reading

Finding an Agent Guest Blog by Holly Jennings

Please welcome Holly Jennings back to Enchanted Spark!

If there was one thing I’ve learned from my experiences, as well as those of other writers, finding your agent never happens the way you expect. Still, everyone needs a starting point. The best place is your computer. The internet has been a godsend for writers. We no longer have to pay for copying manuscripts and mailing postage. We can research accepting short story markets with only a few clicks. And for everything cyberspace has done for us, it’s helping us find agents too.

The traditional way of finding an agent is through querying, where you send an agent your query letter and (if requested) a small sample of your writing. But how do you know who wants your letter? Which agents are accepting manuscripts? For which genres? Below are several Internet-savvy ways of honing in on your agent.

Agent Search Engines

Yes, there are actual search engines out there designed to help you comb through a database of active and acquiring agents. Sites like querytracker.net and agentquery.com are free to use and allow multiple combinations of search criteria. For example, if you write fantasy and romance, you can search for agents who represent both. Then, you can also specify agents only in the U.S. Depending on your search perimeters, this can narrow down your agent list to as little as twenty, or even less. These search engines won’t tell you much more than what genres agents are accepting at that specific time, but it is a good place to start, and leads right into the next way to find your agent.

Interviews

When an agent signs a client, they aren’t looking to sign for just one book. They’re hoping for a career long partnership. This is one of the reasons agents participate in online interviews, blog posts, and forums. Read them. A quick Google search can generate a dozen or more Q&A’s with an agent of your choice. Quite often, the agent will talk about what they’re currently looking for (“more sci-fi, less fantasy”), their dream manuscript (“robot penguins, in space!”), and what is on their no-go list (“dystopian zombie vampires”).

Pitching Contests

Pitching contests are the newest highway for writers on the road to agentville, and are a personal favorite of mine. In these contests, writers typically submit a short logline or summary of their novel and their first 250 words. The hosts pick out the top entries and post them on their blogs. Agents then compete to read your manuscript. Yes, you read that right. Agents compete over you, not the other way around. Also, since you’re vying against hundreds of entries, not thousands, the chance of getting your work in front of an agent versus traditional querying is much, much higher.

Currently, some of the biggest contests are Pitch Wars, Pitch Madness, Query Kombat, and PitchMAS. There are several others as well. In fact, there’s one nearly every month and more agents are joining in all the time. This is ultimately how I found my agent, and I hadn’t known about him before the contest. Once I did, I knew he was the right one for me.

Follow them on Twitter

Most agents have a Twitter feed, so it’s worth checking out what types of things they post. There were a few agents I outwardly decided not to query based on their Twitter feed alone. Either we had conflicting views on the literary world, or they had criticized another writer’s query submission in a way I found unprofessional. Whatever an agent decides to post, it can be a good insight for you. Ask yourself: Is this someone I’d want to work with? Is this someone I’d be proud representing my work?

Also on Twitter, there is the popular hashtag #MSWL, which stands for Manuscript Wish List. Agents use this hashtag to tweet about what they’d like to see in manuscripts. Sometimes they’ll list extremely specific things (“solarpunk airships”) which means your manuscript would have to be very on the nose and ready to submit. However, it gives you an idea of what types of genres that agent generally likes. And their requests aren’t always that specific. Sometimes it’s as simple as “sci-fi with romantic elements.”

Conferences

One “non-Internet” way you can go about finding your agent is by going to conferences. This is not something I’ve done myself, but I’ve been told it can be nerve-wracking, like going on a dozen job interviews in the same day.

At a conference, you pitch directly to an agent in person. Like, you look them in the face and tell them what your book is about. Ye gods! I know. But if you have an iron stomach and live in a major city, this might be the path for you.

Many agents will turn you down, but you still get one-on-one time with them. Unlike traditional querying, you won’t get a form rejection. They will give you pointers and tell you how you can improve. Imagine if every job interview you went on the employer told you “this is how you can do better.” By the end of the year, you’d be an interviewing connoisseur, a master of the art. Pitching in person can be tough for a writer, especially those who are introverted. But agents are the gatekeepers to the publishing world, and at conferences, they’re practically handing you the keys.

There is no one way or “right way” to find your agent. The internet, and especially Twitter, is a great way for authors to connect to agents, contests, and other writers. Whether you’re a traditionalist and prefer straight querying, or like to experiment with new mediums like contests, the path to your agent will be as unique as the novel you’ve written. Enjoy the journey.