It’s Normal to Feel Like a Loser

by Michelle Griep

So you’re writing a novel, la-de-dah. Typing away like a rock star. Day after day after day.

After day.

And then, out of nowhere, whap! A horrific thought slaps you upside the head, yanking you out of the story and paralyzing you so that your daily word count takes a serious nosedive. Suddenly you wonder if you’re an author, that maybe all the things you write are just slobbery bits of drivel bubbling out of you. Panic sets in. Perhaps you’re not a for-real writer. Maybe you’re an impostor. A poser. An orangutan mimicking kissy noises in front of a mirror. Or worse — maybe the zombie apocalypse really did happen and you’re nothing but a body operating on rote memory because shoot, if you read what you’ve written, those words certainly look like a person with no brain wrote them.

Or maybe you’re just a loser.

Never fear, little writer. I’m here to tell you that you’re not a loser. You’re normal. Every writer hits this point at some time in every single manuscript they write — and sometimes more than once. Hating your writing and feeling like pond scum is par for the course. Why?

Because creation is the process of making something out of nothing, and that something takes blood, sweat, and tears to mold into a beautiful masterpiece.

Think about this . . . Babies don’t pop out of their mothers all smiley faced and swaddled in fluffy rubber ducky blankies. They come out screaming and howling, all mucked up with oobie-goobies and require a good cleaning and lots of love. You don’t think that mom had second doubts during the heat of labor? She’d have packed up and gone home at that point if she could.

That’s how it works for your story, too. Don’t pack it up. Press on through the birth pains. Push out that ugly story so that it can be cleaned off and wrapped up into a beautiful book cover.

The only way out is through, folks, no matter how you feel. Take your hand off your forehead (yes, I see that big “L” you’re making with your forefinger and thumb) and get those fingers on your keyboard instead.


Author Michelle Griep

ABOUT THE AUTHOR ~ MICHELLE GRIEP

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. Follow her adventures and find out about upcoming new releases at her blog, Writer Off the Leash, or stop by her website. You can also find her at the usual haunts of FacebookTwitter, or Pinterest.

Like what you read? There’s more. WRITER OFF THE LEASH: GROWING IN THE WRITING CRAFT is a kick in the pants for anyone who wants to write but is stymied by fear, doubt, or simply doesn’t know how to take their writing to the next level.

Title Photo Copyright: sifotography / 123RF Stock Photo

Pitching Pointers

by Michelle Griep @MichelleGriep

It’s that time of year to start registering for writers conferences. That means there will be a whole lot of angst-filled author wannabes out there, biting their fingernails down to stubs . . . which makes it super hard to type anything.

Not that it’s scary to go to a conference, mind you. The real terror sets in when it’s story-pitching time. Sitting across from a god-like agent or editor who can crush you faster than the bat of an eyelash—or fast-track you to stardom. I’m not going to lie. It is a bit daunting. 


But never fear, little writers. I’m here for you, and today we’re going to talk a bit about your pitch, your one-line, your grabber . . . whatever you want to label it. Here’s the deal: you need to be able to tell your story in one sentence, and that sentence needs a few elements to reel in that editor.

3 Pitch Perfect Pointers

1. Snarky
Not as in sarcastic, but as in ironic. The best pitches are those that incorporate the opposites attract theory because whammo! Imminent conflict instantly grabs a person’s attention. See if you can find the irony/snark in the following:

A 17th century tale of adventure on the Caribbean Sea where a roguish yet charming pirate captain teams up with a young blacksmith in a gallant attempt to rescue the Governor of England’s daughter to reclaim his ship.

The irony here is a pirate is going to save a proper lady, and yes, it’s Pirates of the Caribbean.

2. Succinct
Every word counts in a pitch, so make the most of them. Yeah, you’ll sweat buckets of blood while working this out, but in the end, it’s worth it because you’ll be able to state the soul of your story in one sentence while other wannabes will babble themselves into oblivion. Example:

A young man and woman from different social classes fall in love aboard an ill-fated voyage at sea.

There you have Titanic in 18 words.

3. Cinematic

Paint a picture in the listener’s mind so they can visualize your novel, and I guarantee you, you’ll make an impression. Keep it simple and use common words that everyone’s had experience with. Example:

A cop comes to L.A. to visit his estranged wife when her office building is taken over by terrorists.

Can’t you just see the tough-guy cop taking on the masked, heavily armed bad guys? Shoot, I can even see the wife hiding underneath a mahogany desk, and I’ve never even watched Die Hard.

If you incorporate these three tips next time you write a pitch, you’ll be a step ahead of the rest of the writerly bunch. Sure, you’ll still have nails gnawed down to the quick, but even so, you just might land yourself a contract.

TWEETABLES

Pitching Pointers by Michelle Griep (Click to Tweet)

You need to be able to tell your story in one sentence~ Michelle Griep (Click to Tweet)

3 Pitch Perfect Pointers by Michelle Griep (Click to Tweet)

Author Michelle Griep

ABOUT THE AUTHOR ~ MICHELLE GRIEP

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. Follow her adventures and find out about upcoming new releases at her blog, Writer Off the Leash, or stop by her website. You can also find her at the usual haunts of FacebookTwitter, or Pinterest.

Like what you read? There’s more. WRITER OFF THE LEASH: GROWING IN THE WRITING CRAFT is a kick in the pants for anyone who wants to write but is stymied by fear, doubt, or simply doesn’t know how to take their writing to the next level.


Advice on Writing a Novella Collection

by Patty Smith Hall

A few weeks ago, my first novella collection, The American Heiress Bride Collection from Barbour Publishing hit the bookstores, and I was tickled to death. After fourteen published books and novellas, it may seem funny to get excited over, but it was a dream come true for me. Working with the staff at Barbour has been a goal of mine ever since I helped them with multi-city book tour several years. I learned a great deal about marketing and what goes into the publishing process during that tour, and saw firsthand the dedication Barbour had to producing the best books possible.

But most of all, I loved writing it because of the amazing writers I was blessed to work with every day. They taught me a great deal about craft so I asked them to share some of their wisdom on writing in a novella collection with you today.

Lisa Carter, author of Under the Turquiose Sky—The positives of working with other authors is you have someone to help share the marketing load. It’s also an opportunity to learn from others as well as have fun together!

Susanne Dietze, author of The Reluctant Guardian—I’m a visual person so I make on excel spreadsheet when I plotting. My columns aren’t just labeled by chapters but also things like ‘the point of no return’ or black moment.’ In a novella, there isn’t a lot of time to hit those beats so I like to have structure to show me what to focus on.

Cynthia Hickey, author of The Shady Acres Mystery Series—The great thing about working in a collection is the ability to reach new readers you might not have the opportunity to reach otherwise. But remember—you’re dealing with a multitude of personalities and authors who do things their way. Be flexible.

Anita Mae Draper, author of Romantic Refinements-Being in a collection gives me the chance to work other authors of varying experiences where we share craft and media skills, and multiply the promotional factor. You need to work as a team and abide by the group’s decision-even if it’s not the one you wanted. Remember, the end result is what’s important.

Kim Woodhouse, co-author of In the Shadow of Denali—Write a detailed synopsis so you know exactly where you’re going. Yes, they’re hard work, but it’s necessary in our creative field if you want to succeed. In a novella, you have write tight. There’s no room to go off the rails-so write that synopses!

As for my advice, go into the experience with a teachable spirit. Be open to the other writers’ suggestions and be willing to present your own. And always pray for each other.

TWEETABLES

Advice on Writing a Novella Collection by Patty Smith Hall (Click to Tweet)

Go into the experience with a teachable spirit~ Patty Smith Hall (Click to Tweet)

Be open to the other writers’ suggestions~ Patty Smith Hall (Click to Tweet)


Patty Smith Hall is multi-published author with Love Inspired Historical and Barbour. Patty lives in North Georgia with her husband of 30+ years, Danny; two gorgeous daughters, her son-in-love and a grandboy who is due to arrive any day now. Her new release, Hometown Heiress in The American Heiress Bride Collection is available on Amazon or your local bookstore.

Mid-Winter Kick in the Writerly Pants

by Michelle Griep

The days are grey. It’s Siberia cold outside. And all I really want to do is sit around in my yoga pants and eat boxes of Girl Scout Cookies. Hey, don’t judge me. You know you’ve been there.

What I really should be doing, though, is kicking butt on my manuscript if I’m hoping to get it finished by summer. Somewhere along the way, though, I lost my motivation. I think it might be outside, on the far corner of the porch, underneath the frozen pile of Christmas lights I haven’t yet put away. What to do? Make a list, of course . . .

5 Ways to Gain Momentum When You’re in a Writerly Slump

1. Read

Dive into a well-written book. Reading great writing inspires your own great writing. Then pull off a dud of a book from the shelf. A real wing-dinger of a gag-inducing I-can’t-believe-this-ever-got-published kind of book. You can usually find these on the bottom of a rack at Goodwill. Read it. This will fan the flames of your sweet-mercy-I-can-write-better-than-that reflex, and you’ll be off and running in no time.

2. Meditate

Don’t worry. I’m not advocating some wackadoodle contortionist pose while mumbling gibberish. Just take a few moments to think about where you’re story is headed and allow yourself to get excited about it. That helicopter crash you’ve got planned? Yeah! Ka-blooey, baby! Or the upcoming boy-wins-girl scene? Warmth and fuzziness. Spend some time with your characters in your mind, because if you’re expecting your readers to hang out with them, then you should too.

3. Research

Sometimes all it takes is a new idea to spur your story into a full-out gallop. Where will you find that new idea? Google it. Search the ol’ web for something related to your plot or era. You may come across something cool to include.

4. Exercise

I know. I see you, darting your eyes everywhere except at this paragraph. You were really hoping I’d skip over this, hmm? Trust me. I hate this one as much as you do, but doggone if hiking my body outside for a walk, even when it’s cold, doesn’t give me a whole new perspective.

5. Write

Get out of the chair and write!

Go to a library, a coffee shop, or the writerly nook where you know you’re most likely to be able to crank out something. Turn off the internet. No emails. No tweets. No Trivia Crack or Candy Crush. Then write. Yep. That simple. Keep your heinie in the chair for at least two hours. I don’t care if you have to stare at a blank screen for the first hour and fifty-five minutes **lifts two jedi-fingers in the air and swirls them around all Obi-wan style** you will accomplish some kind of word count.
So there you have it, Sparky. Step away from the Girl Scout Cookies and get cracking. Don’t make me come over there.

TWEETABLES

Mid-Winter Kick in the Writerly Pants by Michelle Griep (Click to Tweet)


5 Ways to Gain Momentum When You’re in a Writerly Slump~ Michelle Griep (Click to Tweet)

Somewhere along the way I lost my motivation~ Michelle Griep (Click to Tweet)



Author Michelle Griep

ABOUT THE AUTHOR ~ MICHELLE GRIEP

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. Follow her adventures and find out about upcoming new releases at her blog, Writer Off the Leash, or stop by her website. You can also find her at the usual haunts of FacebookTwitter, or Pinterest.

Like what you read? There’s more. WRITER OFF THE LEASH: GROWING IN THE WRITING CRAFT is a kick in the pants for anyone who wants to write but is stymied by fear, doubt, or simply doesn’t know how to take their writing to the next level.