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Thoughts on Self-Publishing

by Lisa Sledge

Some authors do self-publishing right. You know who you are.

You consult with professional editors.

Meet with writing groups.

Utilize feedback from beta-readers.

Attend writing clinics,

Rewrite your manuscript again,

And again.

Making sure it is perfect.

It’s expensive.

It’s hard.

It’s worth it.

And some authors hurt my heart.

They are the ones with lovely words and wonderful ideas

But not enough patience for perfection.

It makes me sad.

Such beautiful aspirations deserve love and care,

Not a quick read-through,

an amateur cover,

a rushed online publication.

They’re excited.

They want to send their story into the world.

But be kind to dreams.

The first time you type “The End” on a full length manuscript, put it aside.


Then tell your excitement to sit and simmer.


Read it again.

Write it again.

Show it to trusted friends and mentors.

Then repeat.

Make your manuscript shine.

The same applies for traditional authors

Who query agents and publishers

Before a novel is ready.

The secret to writing,

So far as I can tell,

Is as much patience

As persistence.

It is hard.

But we can do it.

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Writing Night Youdon’thavetobringmeanything Shower!

I am excited for next week’s gathering!

A writing night! Yay!

HOWEVER, please don’t feel like you need to bring me something. If anything, you can write a limerick or a flash fiction piece on having five kids and why that’s maybe not the best idea (or maybe it is? advice limericks?). I think we should all just hang out and have fun together and write. That will take my mind off this impending shift that is about to rock our world–that alone is a wonderful gift! :)

Also, here is how my son does his homework:

IMG_2015 (1)

I hadn’t checked his work for awhile. My mothering skills are off the charts.

Feel free to use this as your writing prompt for the day–a child who writes this in his math workbook when the mood strikes.

See you all next week!


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Concrete Writing

by Lisa Sledge

The WIFYR assistants met last weekend to plan the 2015 conference. Can I just say how excited I am to go back to a conference that has done so much to save my writing and build my confidence? I wish it was June already.

Cheri Pray Earl gave a great presentation on how to improve our writing. I took pages of notes. One thing she mentioned that really stuck with me is the importance of concrete rather than abstract writing.

It brought me back to my college days, studying poetry. William Carlos Williams (1883 – 1963) had a bit of an obsession with concreteness. And I love him for it. Here is my favorite of his poems:

This Is Just To Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

Beautiful, isn’t it? For me it conjures up all sorts of feelings, emotions, and even memories. A note on the kitchen table. Plums, icebox, cold, sweet, and that little bit of guilt that makes pleasure run deeper.

There is a chance, I realized last Saturday, that not everyone knows or understands what “concrete writing” means. Maybe you’ve heard the term before, but you can’t quite define it and you’re not sure you’d be able to recognize it in something you read.

I’m an English teacher. This is what I love. Indulge me for a moment.

Concrete writing relies on nouns, verbs, and vivid adjectives. It is a way of helping the reader look at ordinary things in a new light, makes the mundane stand out, and breathes life into what is easy to overlook.

Abstract writing is the cheap and lazy way to try and conjure up emotions in our readers. And guess what? It often doesn’t work. For example, I might write, “I ate the last plum and it tasted so good.” The phrase “so good” is empty. What does it represent? What emotions or feelings does it create? Nothing. And the “last plum”? Who cares if it was the last one. It doesn’t mean anything to me.

Inject power into your writing. Avoid abstract words such as “amazing”, “awesome”, “terrible”, “bad” or other vague constructions. Look through the world of your novel and highlight small objects and details in a way that will carry specific meaning and emotions to your readers.

Be concrete.

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Better Idea!!!!

House warming party!!!!!

Also, who is actually doing NaNo? I’m curious?

And who was going to but hasn’t started and thinks they can’t start because it’s too late and goals are stupid and who made up this stupid month anyway?

Also, I’m doing the opposite of nesting which I think is better way to welcome a baby into the world. This is NORMAL baby. NORMAL!

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is here.

Are you writing?

Thinking about it?

Wondering about it?

Not me.

Not yet.

But soon.


After I am done moving.

Pleeeze let this end.




I have odd NaNo goals. But I’m excited about them.

Dinner at the beginning of next month in celebration?


How about if we have a baby shower for Ann Dee who is having a little Baby Carol!


That’s it. Will let you know when and where soon.



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Pushing Ahead

by Lisa Sledge

NaNoWriMo is fast approaching. I don’t think I’ll be joining the chaos this year—too much of that in my life already! Instead I’m focusing on finishing the rewrite of my WIP and making sure it’s submission ready. I’ve never queried a novel before.

And that’s scary enough.

Speaking of scary, there’s been a lot of discussion here about our writerly fears. I think deep down we’re all a bunch of chicken-livered scaredy-pants. But we’re also freaking awesome because we put our writing out there for the world to see anyway. Doing something in spite of how bad it scares you is the definition of bravery.

What do you do when you’re afraid? When you feel tempted to listen to the nagging voice in the back of your mind telling you your writing stinks worse than the leftovers molding in your refrigerator?

Here’s a brief list of ideas on how to distract yourself from your fears:

Call a writing friend and go out for ice cream.
Watch a really bad movie and laugh at it. Ever seen the movie Troll 2? It’s one of the greatest low budget scary movies of all time. Watch it with friends and lots of chocolate. Your sides will hurt from laughing.
Reread all the best parts of your favorite book.
Get dressed up to write. Do your hair, your make-up, and put on your best outfit. Then get to work. Writing in pjs is great, but sometimes it feels good to mix things up.
Go on a walk or a jog before writing. Visit the gym. Do something to get your blood pumping.
Turn up the volume to your favorite song and sing along.
Take a deep breath, sit your butt down, and get the job done. Remind yourself that you’ll have all the time you need to go back and fix it up later.

What are your favorite tricks for pushing ahead?

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Three Things Thursday!

And we have a guest!

My friend Scott Rhoades, recently took a month-long sabbatical and wrote the whole time. I asked him to tell you about his experience because he put out a whopping number of words. Here it is:


I recently had four weeks of paid time off from work, and I spent it writing. 30 days of living the writing life. It was wonderful.
I spent the first week on a project I had been querying. In the recent PitchWars, a Middle Grade manuscript I considered finished got an excellent response. However, feedback was unanimous that my book was too short. So I fixed that. I spent a week revising my work in progress to get it ready to start querying. In the last two weeks, I started a new project. Overall, I wrote just under 50,000 words while also spending many hours editing.
In the process, I learned some things that might help those of you who are doing Nano this year.
Follow a Routine
I’m most productive between about 10 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.  So, I was in my office (my Schreibwinkel) by about 9:30 every day. I started as early as 7:30 and as late as 10:00, but on all but a few days, I was in my chair before 10:30 and didn’t stop until around 2:00 or 2:30. I worked through my most productive time and stopped when I felt the mojo waning.
Because I wrote at the beginning of my day, every day, I woke up ready to go. Sometimes, my morning dreams were even related to the work I needed to do that day.
Minimize Distractions
My family is used to leaving me alone in my Schreibwinkel. I frequently work from home, so they’ve been trained for years to let me. They know  if they leave me alone for a few hours, I’m theirs when I’m done. Most things they need from me can wait.
I like to listen to music when I write, to drown out or disguise background noises like talking, which interferes with my thoughts. Over the years, I’ve learned that putting my music on shuffle instead of listening to favorites works for me because I don’t pay as much attention to the songs.
Take Breaks
Because my writing period is fairly long, I took breaks. Some were informally scheduled. For example, there were several days when I wrote from 9 until about 10, then stopped for breakfast.
There were also scheduled breaks. There were days when my writing group scheduled writing sprints where we worked for a specified period, then checked in with each other on Facebook.
Each writer has unique break needs. Some of us can only write for so many minutes without a pause. Some of us need to look away from the screen now and then during an intense scene so we can keep enough distance to write well. And some cannot stop without breaking the spell.
I know when I need a break. My only real rule was that I didn’t allow myself to become distracted by another task. My breaks were no longer than necessary, and my family understood that I might have shown my face, but my time was not theirs yet.
This is what worked for me. My family situation allows me to work this way. I’m not the only caregiver in the house during the day, like a lot of moms (especially) are. And I already have work routines when I’m home.
The result of putting structure around my writing time was that I remained productive, and that I enjoyed my writing time because other stresses are reduced as much as possible during those hours.
From Brenda
NaNo starts this week!  And one of the best encouragements they’ve ever sent out was from a woman several years ago who was serving overseas in the army.  She’d done NaNo for several years, and she didn’t want to “lose” that particular year.  She was out in a desert, with no electricity, no computer, etc.  Yet every night she would write out her words by hand.  When her commanding officer asked her what the “bleep” she was doing every night, she explained the Novel Writing month to him.  She indicated that being SO far away from home, like everyone else, this was one thing she was trying to hang onto.  I’m supposing it made her feel as if she were still HER SELF.  Probably the only thing that did.  When he saw her dedication, and how much it cost her in sleep (and probably anxiety of a different sort), he watched her write away night after night.  In the last few days, he asked how it was coming, and whether she thought she could make her 50K.  As the deadline drew closer, he came to her one night and presented her with a typed version of everything she’s written so far.  Her orders, the next day, were to KEEP WRITING and finish that thing.  Others were transcribing her notes for her. Later he was able to announce that, by army vehicle, bus, train, plane and submarine, her words were being carried to the U.S. and all were hoping beyond hope they would arrive and be sent to NaNo headquarters in time.  Just before midnight, he got word and announced to all and sundry that her manuscript had been delivered, minutes before the deadline, and she had been declared a NaNo “WINNER,” to which all her buddies gave a resounding “OOO-RAH!” and, for a moment, felt a little bit of “home” again.
So what makes me think I haven’t got time to write EVERY DAY in November ! ! !
I’m going for it !
From Cheryl
Lately, there seems to be a push to replace helpless princesses for butt-kicking heroines in movies and books.
My question is, is this really any better?
It’s true, less than 1% of the population will ever have Cinderella’s body, and far fewer than that will marry a legally recognized prince. But how many will be able to have the body of Scarlett Johansson and the ability to fight off dozens of highly trained, armed men without messing up their hair?
Really, aren’t we just replacing one impossible standard for another?
What happened to the Jane Eyres? The women whose virtues were their greatest strength, rather than anything physical? The “superpowers” of these heroines were integrity, compassion, and hope. These are women that every girl can aspire to be, and that every girl can achieve.
And quite honestly, I think the world could use a few more Jane Eyres rather than vigilante superheroes.



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