How to Write a Novel Synopsis: 5 Tips

Welcome to Twitter Treasure Thursday! Although I’m still a few months away from finishing my manuscript, I’m always on the lookout for useful tips, dos and don’ts, and lessons about the querying process.

writing_humour_synopsis-scaled500Today’s gem, courtesy of Writer’s Digest and the ever helpful Chuck Sambuchino, focuses on the dreaded synopsis…Oh, come on. Don’t deny it. You’re as “ugh” about this step in the querying process as I am. Thankfully this article makes it a little easier by giving us five tips to use as basic guidelines. So, before you sit down to write yours, check it out!

How to Write a Novel Synopsis: 5 Tips

1. Reveal everything major that happens in your book, including the ending. Heck, revealing the story’s ending is a synopsis’s defining unique characteristic. You shouldn’t find a story’s ending in a query or in-person pitch, but it does leak out in a synopsis. On this note, know that a synopsis is designed to explain everything major that happens, not to tease — so avoid language such as “Krista walks around a corner into a big surprise.” Don’t say “surprise,” but rather just tell us what happens.

To read the entire article, click here!

For more useful advice, follow Writer’s Digest and Chuck Sambuchino on Twitter!

Photo credit: 

http://writerswrite1.wordpress.com/2013/04/12/how-to-write-a-one-page-synopsis/

5 Things to Know When Pitching to Literary Agents

Welcome to Twitter Treasure Thursday! So, today’s gem is a bit broader, and perhaps many of us have heard some of these tips before, but I wanted to share them anyway. When it comes to literary agents, it’s always good to be aware and knowledgable about the big do’s and don’t’s.

literary-agentIf you’re interested in pursuing a literary agent someday, be sure to check out this post from author, Mila Gray:

5 Things to Know When Pitching to Literary Agents.

1. Make sure you’re pitching to the right agent.

Buy the Writers’ and Artists’ Handbook (in the UK). Identify those agents that rep your genre. Google them and find out what their submission guidelines are.

Check out who their clients are. This will give you an idea of how big a player they are — how much influence they have in the publishing world.

An agent with lots of high profile authors might not have as much time for you as an agent with fewer clients. On the upside a bigger agent will have more influence with publishers and be able to get your MS onto desks quicker.

Don’t go overboard with contacting every agent in the book. I contacted 12. I had 7 responses, two of which were very polite no thank yous, three of which were ‘we really think this has potential but we have no room on our list’, and 2 who wanted to sign me immediately.

I signed with the agent who I felt I had the best rapport with but she also happened to be very established with a great client list.

To read the entire article, click here!

And for more useful advice, follow Mila Gray on Twitter!

Related Articles

What Does a Literary Agent Want to See When They Google You?

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Advice For Writers From Literary Agents

Photo credit: http://www.jeffcalloway.com/how-to-land-a-literary-agent.html

25 Steps To Being A Traditionally Published Author

Welcome to Twitter Treasure Thursday! Although I’m still months away from sending out query letters for my YA manuscript, I like to read and learn all I can about the publishing industry. I want to be as prepared as possible for when the next step in this arduous journey begins.

Today’s gem, courtesy of literary agent, Sara Megibow, is a goldmine of advice about the publishing process: 25 Steps To Being A Traditionally Published Author. In this article, author, Delilah S. Dawson, shares her experiences in a funny, honest, and inspiring way. I strongly urge all writers to check it out. Even if you’re contemplating self-publishing, you’re sure to take something away from this awesome article.

writers-clock

6. OH MY GOD YOU FINISHED A BOOK! FIRE THE CUPCAKE CANNONS!

Congratulations!!! And BOOMCAKE!!! And you should definitely go out to celebrate with shrimp tacos and margaritas. Hell, I used to go celebrate every time I passed the 100 page mark. Finishing your first book is a major victory, and you shouldn’t let the fact that there are 19 more steps terrify you. Even if you put your book baby in a drawer and throw the dresser into the Grand Canyon, you will still spend the rest of your life knowing that you are capable of writing a book, and that is A Big Deal.

So celebrate. Look at your book. Stroke the screen. Tell Twitter. And then, like a hot steak in a cast iron skillet, let your book rest for a while by itself, preferably with a slab of butter melting on top. Because getting some distance from your work is an important part of this process.

To read the entire article, click here!

And for more useful advice, follow Sarah Megibow and Delilah S. Dawson on Twitter!

Photo credit: http://bakermarketingservices.com/2012/04/can-i-reuse-other-peoples-blogs-on-my-own/

The First 250 Words of Your Manuscript

Welcome to Twitter Treasure Thursday! As many of you know, I’ve been in serious revision mode the past few weeks with the second draft of my YA manuscript. And as many of you know, those revisions have been on the slower side because I’ve been so focused on the first chapters of my story. They are so vital for so many reasons: capturing a reader’s attention, building a solid foundation, introducing characters, etc.

stock-footage-typing-chapter-to-writing-of-the-book-on-typewriter-video-clip-with-audio-a-sequence-ofTo help me along, I’ve been reading a wide assortment of articles from agents, publishers, and other industry professionals. I want to know what’s expected, what’s cliche, what’s annoying, what’s exciting, and so on. Today’s gem, courtesy of @KathyLLogan, is a perfect example of advice we should all read and learn from.

The First 250 Words of Your Manuscript

Openings are vital to getting someone to read your book, especially agents. A reader might give you some time since they paid for the book (I usually read three chapters to hook me if it starts slow, but if you haven’t grabbed me by then, it goes back on the shelf no matter how much I may love that author’s past works), but an agent has hundreds of other books on their desk that might grab from page one. Their job is to find books they can sell. Your job is to give them a book they can sell, and that means a great opening that hooks readers right away.

To read the entire article, click here!

And for more useful advice, follow Katherine L. Logan on Twitter!

The Worst Ways to Begin Your Novel: Advice from Literary Agents

Welcome to Twitter Treasure Thursday! Today’s gem comes from the ever helpful Chuck Sambuchino. He offers a wide range of amazing tips from industry experts on how to make your first chapter shine. No matter what genre you write, these tips are sure to help you improve your work and avoid the pitfalls so many writers stumble into.

Female executive and banana skinThe Worst Ways to Begin Your Novel: Advice from Literary Agents

No one reads more prospective novel beginnings than literary agents. They’re the ones on the front lines, sifting through inboxes and slush piles. And they’re the ones who can tell us which Chapter One approaches are overused and cliché, as well as which techniques just plain don’t work. Below find a smattering of feedback from experienced literary agents on what they hate to see the first pages of a writer’s submission. Avoid these problems and tighten your submission!

To read the entire article, click here!

And for more useful advice, follow Chuck Sambuchino on Twitter!

How to Write the Perfect First Page

Welcome to Twitter Treasure Thursday! So, last week I finished the first draft of my YA manuscript–yippee! This week, I’ve started revising it–ugh. And I haven’t made it past chapter two–double ugh! Believe it or not, my slow progress isn’t due to lack of motivation or energy, or worst, irksome butterflies. I’ve actually been writing more than I have in weeks.

The real problem is I’ve been struggling with hitting the right note of my first pages. They’re so, so, so important. Not only do they need to hook the reader and entice them to read on, but they need to set the tone and foundation for the rest of the novel. And I just can’t seem to get them right!

hookThankfully, I came across this article via Helen Hart (@SilverWoodBooks) to help me out:

How to Write the Perfect First Page

I’ve changed the first page of my novel a lot. I can’t even tell you how many times. It happened because as I was writing, I followed a lot of writing blogs, attended a lot of author talks, and browsed a lot of guides that had a lot to say about the first page. I guess the thinking is that readers thumbing through books in the bookstore and agents alike make snap decisions based on those initial words—so you better make it good!

To read the entire article, click here!

For more great tips and advice, be sure to follow Helen Hart on Twitter!

On Writing Secondary Characters

Welcome to Twitter Treasure Thursday!

I’d like to start off by announcing I’ve squashed the distracting butterflies pestering me the last couple of months, and by this weekend, I should have a complete first draft of my YA manuscript!

Okay, so as excited and proud as I am to have climbed and reached the summit of Mount St. First Draft, I’m also anxious. To put it lightly, I have a lot of work ahead of me in draft two. Like, A LOT. I can’t even begin to list the number of issues I have to fix: plot holes, irrelevant scenes, cringeworthy dialogue, flawed characters…Yeesh! However, I’m confident these issues will get fixed. And they’ll get fixed by using great tips from knowledgeable resources, including today’s Twitter gem: On Writing Secondary Characters, courtesy of literary agent, Carly Watters.

tumblr_mmgt9ifhMB1rnvzfwo1_500Let’s face it, it’s easy to focus on developing main characters, especially during a first draft–I know I did! But what about those characters in the background? The ones who support your MCs? Who are they? Why are they in the story? Should they be in the story? Are they relevant? Do they make a difference? Secondary characters may seem trivial when we first create them, but in the long run, they are the ones who make a story POP!

Think about it: Would Pride and Prejudice be the same without Mr. Collins? Or The Mortal Instruments without Magnus Bane? Or Harry Potter without Luna “Loony” Lovegood?

luna_lovegood_wise_by_cleverusername95-d35ywdk

Developing a cast of memorable characters isn’t easy. Writers are told to develop their main character well with motivation, internal and external conflict–but sometimes don’t put the same emphasis on secondary characters because they’re too worried about their MC…

To read the entire article, click here!

For more useful tips and helpful guidance, follow Carly Watters on Twitter!

Related Articles

Who Needs Secondary Characters?

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If it wasn’t for you: A thank you to the women authors who’ve inspired my writing

“The best readers are the best writers.”

A friend spoke these words to me years ago, back when I was still a “closeted writer” who feared her lack of an English/writing degree would prevent her from being accepted in the official “writers club”. At the time, I didn’t really get the meaning of this quote. I mean, I definitely liked it: “The best readers are the best writers.” Well, that’s great, I thought, because I read. A lot. Like, a lot, a lot, a lot!). Yet, as the years have gone by, and my stack of read books has grown taller and taller, I’ve finally come to understand it.

Reading = Knowledge

Reading = Inspiration

Reading = Writing

More Reading = Better Writing

It’s true. Well, at least for me. Reading books  has taught me how to write (and, yeah, sometimes how not to write). There’s no doubt in my mind that books have strengthened my storytelling skills, expanded my creative horizons and given me a plethora of inspiration (oh yeah, I totally just used the word plethora). Now, I can’t tell you exactly how many books I’ve read (500? 1,000? 10,000?), but I can tell you which authors have impacted me the most.

Today, in honor of celebrating women in fiction (#ReadWomen2014), I’d like to pay tribute to the female author’s who’ve effected me the most. If it weren’t for their various inspirations, I wouldn’t be the writer I am today.

Patricia BeattyThe Dream Starter

9780688066871What a young person reads becomes part of his or her mental luggage forever! This is the learning time, short but vital to the future adult. That mental luggage deserves to be filled with the best stuff only, not pap. It may have a long, long way to go.” – Patricia Beatty

The day I picked up “Charlie Skedaddle” by Patricia Beatty was the day I became a book fanatic. It was also the day I realized I wanted to be an author when I grew up. After reading and absorbing Beatty’s novels (multiple times), I nervously began writing my own. Admittedly, most of this “writing” took place in my daydreamin’ head, safe and sound where nobody but me could experience them. However, a few made it into a notebook I kept hidden under my pillow, and one even made it onto a computer when I was in 6th grade (a 32-page story about a girl who traveled back in time to the Civil War era…Yeah, it was awesome.). Despite my terror to admit to the world I wanted to be a writer (that confession wouldn’t come for years, after I graduated college), I was able to admit my creative passion to myself. Even though I was only 10-years old, I knew I wanted to spend my life telling stories.

So, thank you, Patricia Beatty. If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t have fallen in love with reading, and I wouldn’t be pursuing my dream of being a published author.

Marie LuThe Style Guru

9275658One of the up’s (and down’s) of reading a lot while you write is you accidentally mimic the author you’re currently reading. This happened to me while I was devouring Marie Lu’s “Legend”. Suddenly, my writing became clearer and more precise, my characters more likable and endearing, my plot faster and tighter. Ever since that happy accident, I’ve aspired to keep writing in a fashion similar to Lu’s. To use my words and sentence structures in a way that draws the reader in and keeps them there. To weave simple, yet complex story lines around my audience–around and around–until they’re trapped and can’t break free, even after they’ve finished the book.

So, thank you, Marie Lu. If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t understand what good storytelling looks like and how to ensnare an audience.

Maureen Johnson & Cassandra ClareCleverness & Wit

17334064And if we get caught, I will claim I made you go. At gunpoint. I am American. People will assume I’m armed.” – Maureen Johnson, “The Name of the Star”

People tell me I’m a funny person. And I’ve been told I can be a funny writer, too. However, I don’t like to write comedy. I just don’t. My comfort zone tends to be in the suspense/horror/thriller categories. Yet, despite my preference to write about tenser subject matters, Maureen Johnson and Cassandra Clare have shown me even dark genres need to be lightened up every now and then. Adding dashes of cleverness and wit to a story can add surprising depth and meaning to a plot and its characters.

So, thank you, Maureen Johnson and Cassandra Clare. If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t understand how humor can give any story layers and make it more memorable.

Let me give you a piece of advice. The handsome young fellow who’s trying to rescue you from a hideous fate is never wrong. Not even if he says the sky is purple and made of hedgehogs.” -Cassandra Clare, “The Infernal Devices”.

Laini TaylorWeirdness is Goodness

8490112“I write books for youngish people, but they can also be read and enjoyed by oldish people, aka grown-ups. You know grown-ups? They tend to be a little bigger and hairier than kids. But not always.” -Laini Taylor

Okay, I admit it. I can be weird (hellllo, I’m a writer; we all have a weird screw inside of us, right?). Well, it wasn’t until I read Laini Taylor’s “Daughter of Smoke & Bone” that I was able to confidently infuse that weirdness into my writing. Taylor taught me that being quirky–saying things, thinking things and creating things that make the reader go, “Huh?”–can be a wonderful and powerful tool. For example, rather than having a protagonist with brown hair and blue eyes, why not have a protagonist with blue hair and brown eyes?

“Think outside the box!” Taylor’s writing shouts when you read it. “Like way, way outside the box. Do it, do it, do it!” So, I try. Every time I sit down at my desk, I think, “Be odd. Be different. It’s okay. Laini Taylor said so.”

So, thank you, Laini Taylor. If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t have embraced my eccentric tendencies and breathed them into my stories.

Marissa Meyer: The Delightful Contortionist 

11235712Even in the Future the Story Begins with Once Upon a Time.” -Marissa Meyer, “Cinder”

I’ve always prided myself on being a writer that likes to brainstorm concepts that are as original as possible. I’m always sniffing around the misty alleys of my mind, trying to find an idea that just might be “the next big thing” in the YA market. I’ve never been a fan of taking already written stories (like a fairy tale) and putting a unique spin on them. Then I began reading Marissa Meyer’s “Lunar Chronicles” and my entire outlook changed. Her crazy sci-fi contortion of “Cinderella” totally sold me on the unoriginal-original concept. Why not put a new twist on an old story? Why not embrace a solid foundation and build your own–original–world on top of it? Being a writer means being creative, and if I can create a spectacular story using a tried and true formula, you should. Why not?

So, thank you, Marissa Meyer. If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t be willing to open my eyes and see there are stories all around me that can be bent, shaped and warped into something fresh and dazzling.

Rainbow Rowell: Character Jedi Master 

16068905Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.” -Rainbow Rowell, “Eleanor & Park”

One of my biggest weaknesses as a writer has always seemed to be my characters. And I think I’ve finally figured out why: Until 2013, I’d never read a Rainbow Rowell book. Guys, if you want a “how to” lesson on character building, this is your teacher. In her novels like “Attachments” and “Fangirl” Rowell has inspired me to dig deeper and reach higher when it comes to my characters. She’s shown me characters shouldn’t be 2-D individuals who entertain an audience. They should be 3-D humans who punch through a black and white page, straight into a reader’s heart. Characters should be likable, relatable, convincible. Characters should leave a dent even after the last page is turned.

So, thank you, Rainbow Rowell. If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t even know how to begin writing  better, deeper, truer characters.

Kathrynn Stockett: The Cheerleader

4667024If you ask my husband my best trait, he’ll smile and say, ‘She never gives up.’ But if you ask him my worst trait, he’ll get a funny tic in his cheek, narrow his eyes and hiss, ‘She. Never. Gives. Up.‘” -Kathryn Stockett

 When people ask me what I do for a living, I joke and say, “I’m in the Industry of Rejection.” Sadly, it’s a true statement for most writers. I began sending query letters back in 2009 after I finished my first real manuscript. I was so excited, so certain I’d written a story that would get me an agent…Then I got my first rejection letter, and ooouuucchhh! That was followed by a second, and oooh, eeks! Then a third, a fourth, a tenth, a twentieth…That’s when I realized I’d chosen a career that wasn’t only hard, but could very well break my spirit.

“I loved your story, but…”. “Unfortunately…”. “Your story still needs work…”. “We regret to inform you..”. “Thank you for your submission. However…”. “Best of luck with this project and all your endeavors.”

Yeah, let’s face it, rejection hurts. Every. Time. And, I’ll be honest, after a particularly harsh round of “Thanks, but not thanks,” responses from agents, I’ve considered throwing in the towel (or maybe even smothering myself with a pillow). The biggest reason I haven’t though is because of Kathryn Stockett, author of the wildly popular novel, “The Help”.

Did you know Stockett’s bestseller was rejected 60 times before an agent finally gave her a chance? 60. Times! And, yet, after each stinging rejection, she didn’t give up. She went back, revised and then sent out more query letters. That’s how much she believed in her story. Despite the “Unfortunately”‘s and the “Best of luck”‘s, she refused to quit. Stockett’s never say die attitude has taught me that rejection isn’t the name of the game. Determination is. If you believe in your story, you should never give up on finding it a home. Keep writing, keep fighting! (Read about Stockett’s relentless journey here).

So, thank you Kathryn Stockett. If it weren’t for you, I may have given up on my dream a long time ago. And if it weren’t for you, I may not have the stamina to keep going now!

Thank you to all the women authors who’ve inspired me. This short list doesn’t even come close to naming all of you out there. But, trust me, if it weren’t for each and every one of you, I wouldn’t be the writer I am today.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Confession: I was a shameful closeted writer

Up until November 18th, 2010, my creative life was a quiet one. Very quiet. Well, practically non-existent to the naked eye. Besides my immediate family, nobody knew I dreamed of one day being a published author. I always wrote in the privacy of my bedroom; I saved my manuscripts under names like “Comparative Politics Study Guide 2” (no joke); and I never–ever–shared my stories or ideas with anyone. I was too scared, too shy. Worse, I was ashamed.

How could I declare to the world I wanted to be a writer? Me? What right did I have? I didn’t even have an English or writing degree. I majored in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing, and that just didn’t count in the land of make believe. I knew–just knew–if I told people the truth, I’d be mocked and ridiculed. Everyone would judge me–laugh at me–tell me I was a wannabe that needed to go back to school and get the proper credentials.

knew it.

bullying_girlsSo I kept my mouth shut, my head down, and my writing dreams hidden. For. Years! Even after I landed a job as a copywriter at a Denver ad agency, I didn’t tell people about my creative aspirations.

Then on a sunny November morning I walked into work and everything changed. (Dun, dun dun…)

I grabbed a coffee, said “Hey” to a co-worker I only ever said “Hey” to, and sat down at my desk. Thirty minutes later, the computer systems unexpectedly crashed. With nothing else to do but look at a black screen, I swiveled around in my chair to chat with my co-workers…Well, co-worker. Mr. “Hey” was the only one there. I cringed and almost swiveled right back around, but then stopped. Why not talk to him? We’d only been working ten feet apart from each other for six months. It was about time I got to know him better. So, we started talking. For awhile, our conversation revolved around normal stuff (the weather, our jobs, our co-workers).

Then out of the blue, Mr. “Hey” asked me, “Jenna, what do you do?”

I stared at him blankly. “What do I do?” What the heck did that mean?

 He grinned. “I mean what do you do as a writer? What are your goals? I doubt you want to work here the rest of your life, right?”

I glanced around nervously. The building was still empty. Our bosses weren’t in yet. Nobody was. It was just me and him. I swallowed hard, unsure how to respond. This was the first time anyone had ever asked me that question. And it was the last one I wanted to answer. What if he judged me–laughed at me–told me I was a loser wannabe?

“I want to write books!” I blurted out before my lifelong fears could stifle me. “I want to be an author.”

To my surprise, he didn’t judge or laugh at me. And he didn’t call me a wannabe loser. Actually, he looked impressed.

Rather than feeling pleased about this, I felt weird, like an impostor. Mr. “Hey” didn’t know I wasn’t qualified to claim such a lofty ambition. He didn’t know I lacked an English degree. He didn’t know I had zero writing experience. He didn’t even know the only reason I’d been offered a writing gig at our company was because my resume included a summer internship at a prestigious advertising firm (and that internship had been in the account management department).

But, before I could confess any of this to him, Mr. “Hey” began pummeling me with questions: What types of books do you like to write? What genre? Have you ever written a book before? If so, what’s it about? I was so overwhelmed by his creative interrogation, I ended up answering him honestly.

“I’m working on a young adult manuscript,” I said.

He nodded thoughtfully. “That’s cool.” Cool. AKA, dumb. AKA, loser.

To hide my shame, I smiled and swiveled back around to face my computer. The screen was lit up. Relief coursed through me. Our systems were up and running again. I didn’t need to talk to Mr. “Hey” anymore. Our embarrassing conversation was over. I could now scurry back into my safe little writer’s closet and hide once again. Yet, as I opened my files and documents to start working, an inner voice said, “Be brave! Tell him about your story. Don’t hold back now.”

I spun back around. “My story is about…” and I gave him the one line synopsis.

His eyes went HUGE! I couldn’t tell if he was shocked? Confused? Amazed? Trying to refrain from bursting into hysterical laughter? Before I could figure out his wide-eyed expression, he leaned forward.

“Would you mind if I introduced you to a PR exec in Hollywood?”

Hollywood?

Yeah…

So, come to find out Mr. “Hey” was an up and coming screenwriter and he’d recently acquired representation in L.A. He had kept his starry success a secret because he was afraid everyone would clobber him–ask him for advice, listen to their pitch, help them find representation too, etc. But he didn’t want to help anyone unless their idea was worth helping. And, I guess in his eyes, my idea was.

Yeah…

Suffice it to say, I was stunned and, obviously, excited. But, more than anything, I was guilt-ridden. I couldn’t let this conversation go on until I confessed the brutal truth to my new bestie: I wasn’t a qualified writer. I didn’t have the right degree. I didn’t know what I was doing! You know what his response was?

“So what?”

Huh? So what? So what? No. I couldn’t accept his indifferent response. I couldn’t! Not when I’d always believed I had to have the correct credentials to join the official writer’s club. So–in a voice that flirted with desperation–I said, “But, trust me, I read. A lot! I’ve studied how it’s done!” (Yes, I actually spoke these words…*throat clear*)

Mr. “Hey” shrugged. “Well, you know what they say: the best readers are the best writers.” No, I didn’t know people said that, but I was happy to hear it, because I was the best reader in the world!

With my guilty conscience appeased, I gave Mr. “Hey” the green light to introduce me to his high-powered friends in L.A. And he did. By the next evening, I was on the phone with a PR executive reminiscent of Ari Gold.

(Two words to describe that 45-minute call: Heart. Attack.).

A few days later, I was on the phone again, this time with a big wig agent who’d represented writers like Nora EphronNora Ephron, for God’s sake. With no idea how I’d landed in the midst of such an elite group of professionals, I agreed to talk next to a producer based on Paramount Studios. That call led to a two-year option contract. (Meaning this producer had the right to make my story into a movie; but I made sure part of the deal was my manuscript had to get published first).

As you might imagine, my blood pressure was through the roof during this entire process. I felt like an adrenaline junkie; like I’d been set on fire and bungee jumped off of the world’s tallest bridge straight into an ocean of great white sharks. AHHHH!

Okay, let’s stop and rewind for a second, back to these phone calls I had.

During each of these petrifying conversations, I always did my best to play it cool and act like I belonged; like I totally deserved to be on the phone with these hotshots and I wasn’t at all scared to be speaking with them. Yet, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t silence my closet writer shame. I had to tell each of these men the truth, just like I did with Mr. “Hey”. After every pitch I gave, I always tacked on this quiet disclaimer: “Just so you know, I don’t have an English degree or anything like that.” Or, in other words, “I don’t know what I’m doing and I’m not technically qualified to be talking to you.”

You want to know their answers? Laughter! Followed by some version of, “I don’t care. What matters is you can write and you have ideas.”

I couldn’t believe it. All of this time…All of my fears…All of my shame. It was worthless! Unnecessary. I’d been hiding in a dark writer’s closet for no good reason. My hopes and dreams were acceptable. Accepted. I didn’t need to have an English degree to prove myself. As long as “the proof was in the pudding,” I’d be good to go.

biopic1_1384542409Alas, in the end, my optioned manuscript never went anywhere. It’s how the business cookie crumbles. Some projects fly, many flounder. However, I don’t regret a second of my roller coaster journey. Not. At. All! How could I? Not only did I receive valuable industry experience and in-depth feedback from multiple professionals in L.A. and New York (including extensive critiques from an agent at Writers House), but I received validation.

I am a writer.

I. Am. A. Writer.

It doesn’t matter I don’t have a degree in a writing field. It doesn’t matter I’ve basically taught myself “how it’s done.” If I have the passion, the skill, the ideas, and the determination, I can do this. I can write! And, yeah, perhaps this manuscript didn’t take flight the way I’d hoped, but I’m confident it will someday. More importantly, I’m 100% confident I’ll never–ever–again hide in my shameful writer’s closet. That door is locked and bolted. I couldn’t get back in even if I wanted.

untitled So, listen, I didn’t write this confession today to tell you I think English and writing degrees are worthless. Heck no! Trust me, I still wish I had that beautiful credential on my resume. Why wouldn’t I? Knowledge equals power, right?

What I am saying is that if you want to be a writer, don’t let anything hold you back. Not your lack of education, not your fear, not your shame, and definitely not that cruel inner voice, the one that whispers, “You can’t be a writer.” Believe me, you can. And you deserve to pursue your writing dream. Whether that’s as a novelist, a poet, a screenwriter, a journalist, a copywriter…whatever! If you want it, you go for it.

So go! Shout out and tell the whole wide world you’re a writer and you’re proud of it. You may as well. You never know who’ll be listening. I surely didn’t when I walked into work that November morning.

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Conferencing for introverts

Welcome to Twitter Treasure Thursday! So, today’s gem is one that I think most of us introverts can learn from, especially those of us who’ve always been too shy/scared/nervous to even think of going to a writer’s conference…*throat clear*…Yeah, I’m a scaredy-cat. And poor. And just sad. Ha! Okay, okay, I’m not that pathetic, and I really would love to attend a writer’s conference someday. And when I do, I’ll definitely be reading this awesome article on how to handle it. Take a peek!

You’ve decided this is it, the year to attend a writer’s conference. Forms are filled, hotel and plane tickets are booked, and a satisfied warmth fills you at pulling the trigger on this writing milestone.

But as the day approaches, your brain buzzes. What to wear? What to bring? You look in your closet and suddenly forget what looks good together, what fits, and what shoes work with which pants. The jeans you love seem too run down. That skirt you wanted to bring is too dressy. Or is it? Maybe you could wear it to the pitch you scheduled. And then it hits: FULL BLOWN PANIC. You forgot about the pitch you booked while high on the glow of finally taking the leap.

Read the rest of the article here!

Scaredy-Cat-Halloween-Invitation

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