Monthly Archives: August 2012

Letting ‘Em Go

This past week I took my oldest child on a 1300 mile trip to deliver him to college. Although we had been preparing ourselves and him for this trip for almost a year, it was a hard trip for all of us. This was my first ‘baby’ to leave the nest. Boy do they grow fast.

What does this have to do with writing? As with all things, change is not only necessary, it is important. When you finish that manuscript, you’ve edited it and polished it to an inch of its life, it is ready to graduate high school and move on to college. Then comes the hardest part, sending your ‘baby’ out in the world to the publishing world.

As with your child in college, will they stumble and regain their feet on their own? Will your manuscript find the right editor/publisher? Have you given your child the necessary tools to make their own way in life? Is your manuscript perfect and ready to be received by the public? Will your child survive in the world and make the right choices? Will your manuscript succeed and make lots of fans for you?

And as with you new college student, you will know when it’s time to send them off on their own. When it’s time to let them make their own decisions and, yes, even fall on their face and learn to pick themselves up, brush themselves off and make you proud. You’ll know when it’s time to send out that manuscript. When it’s time to make the story work for the public and be a successful story.

As with both it is a painful time, a time of doubt and worry. And it will be a time of happiness and joy when it all turns out great. Change. Painful but necessary for life.

FYI- My son is doing great. He’s making new friends and learning to be completely self- reliant. I’m proud of him and know that he is turning in the man I knew he would be.

Stay tuned.

Angela Abderhalden is the author of the Mel Addison Mystery Series and Acquiring Editor for Seventh Wave Books, LLC.

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Free Advice (Continued) or Rules for Critique Groups

So as I promised in my last blog…. Here are some of the things I found that were important to having a face-to-face critique group.

*Determine what your critique group is for. Are you only critiquing in one genre? (It really depends on you. I’ve found that multi-genres worked best good for us. But everyone is different.) How many people will be in your group? (I’ve found that three to four is the best, less and there are not enough different ideas. More and it gets real confusing.)

*How often will you meet? This again depends on the schedule of the other people in the group. Once a month worked best for us, but it depends on how much time the members have available to spend, including giving the members enough time to give a deserving critique of the work.

*How much will be critiqued? This again depends on how many times you will meet and how big the group is. At first we worked on full novels. However, it became too much work in one month to do that and still write on our own manuscripts. Finally we settled on one or two chapters per critique session. This allowed the above conditions to be met.

*How will you determine who will be critiqued? We worked out our schedule on a rotation basis. Each of us took a month and stuck to it. The person’s who turn it was the next month to ‘be on the hot seat’, would send everyone else their work via the internet. Then when we met for the monthly critique, we were all ready to go.

*How will the actually critique session go? We would each give our suggestions in turn or ask questions of the person in turn. Usually we all opened our laptops and read down the work together, each interjecting suggestions or things the felt wrong to us. This is probably where I ought to interject that of course put-downs and other was of making each other feel bad is not allowed. We all went into the group knowing that what we brought to the table (literally, we always met in a coffee shop) were just our opinions and suggestions. The writer didn’t have to justify anything to the other writers and didn’t have to take any of our suggestions if they didn’t want to. This will only work if all of the members are professional and mature. Not always possible with some people. Other ways to do this would be to have the critique done only via emails or have the person ‘on the hot seat’ read their work out loud and then the others give their ideas. We found that when problems cropped up, say the scene wasn’t working, as we discussed the scene the group brainstormed and usually could find a solution. But how you do it ultimately must be worked out by the entire group.

*Set a time limit. This was the biggest problem we had. We would meet officially for two hours once a month. We would normally spend three hours or even longer sometimes because we were passionate and wanting to learn from each other. Our spouses didn’t always see it that way!

These are just a few of the rules that worked for us. You may find others work better for you. You have to find your own way. The biggest thing to stress it that everyone must be professional.

Stay tuned.

Angela Abderhalden is the author of the Mel Addison Mystery Series and Acquiring Editor for Seventh Wave Books, LLC

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Free Advice

Free is always good, right? Well, yes and no. When I’m talking free advice, I’m speaking of free advice about your manuscript. Yes, you could pay for advice out there from freelance editors and so called ‘book-doctors’. This topic is about free advice you can get from fellow writers. It can be good and help you grow or it can be bad and stifle your writing life. I’m talking about critique groups.

A good critique group is worth their weight in gold. Literally. I had a critique group with three other serious writers that when I moved was the hardest thing to give up. We started out meeting twice a month but when that got a little too much for all of our hectic lives, we cut it back to once a month and it was beautiful for all of us. We were all basically in about the same level of writing and all of us grew with the experience. Two of us are now published and another one would be if she buckled down and finished that manuscript (you know who you are, missy).

But before this gold group got together, I went through several other bad groups. One was a group of beginning writers (I was too at the time) but all they wanted to do was drink coffee and gossip. I quit that group fast. Another group seemed to be good. All serious beginning to growing writers and we critiqued our work when we got together. But. Yes, you knew there was a but coming. One of the writers, a really good one too, was a control freak and when she suggested a change felt there was no room for discussion that it was correct and demanded to see revisions at the next meeting. She even went so far as to rewrite one of the other writer’s scenes and totally destroyed that writer’s voice. It took a little longer but I finally left that group too. After a couple of more trials, I stumbled into a serious writer, who along with my friend who has trouble finishing her manuscripts, we formed the perfect group. We added a fourth later and never looked back.

All of us had different strengths and weaknesses. And they worked in harmony and all of us grew as writers. I wouldn’t be were I am now without the aid and support of this group of tiny writers. I have since then thanked them over and over for their help.

Each month we worked in rotation of which of our manuscripts we worked on. Sometimes we even just brain stormed about an issue. And in the ensuring four years we became fast friends. To show you that there is no special type of person that is required in a group… One of us has been in the writing game the longest and is an entrepreneur who owns her own business. She writes in the paranormal genre. One is a displaced university professor displaced to my former home town after Katrina. She writes in the fantasy/urban fantasy genre. One is a police detective. He writes in the science fiction/fantasy genre. I also converted him to a police procedural writer when he came up with a great idea for a mystery. Since I had no time to write it, I suggested he give it a try. He did and now he is published in that genre. And then me, a stay at home mom who writes mysteries. After I moved I cannot find that perfect combination again. I so miss you guys… Cheryl, Ruth and Ray

In the next blog I will give my rules for a perfect critique group. Stay tuned.

Angela Abderhalden is the author of the Mel Addison Mystery Series and an Acquiring Editor for Seventh Wave Books, LLC

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Something To Think About

Here is something that you should think about while writing… What is the message or theme of your manuscript? Sometimes you may not even realize what your theme is. But it is something that you might want to consider. Okay, so what is theme?

A theme in fiction is how people view life or how people react in life. It shouldn’t preach or teach or even be actually said out loud in the story. It is unspoken. It is figured out by how the characters act, the action in the story and even from the settings. The reader must figure it out for themselves via the inferences that you have put in the manuscript. Sometimes the theme is very transparent, sometimes it is deeper and requires the reader to really think deep about the story.

If you don’t think about your theme before during your writing , you should go back after it’s written and figure it out. It’s important especially if you are writing a series. That way you can carry the same theme throughout all of your books.

I’ve found that one of the major themes in my books is family is the most important thing. Another theme I enjoy writing about is loyalty between family/friends or the lack thereof and the ramifications of this.

What is the theme in your writing? Think about it. Write about it. Stay tuned.

Angela Abderhalden is the author of the Mel Addison Mystery Series and Acquiring Editor for Seventh Wave Books, LLC.

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A Question Of Age

Is there an age limit on writing and publishing? I think it’s more a matter of convention. Of tradition. Most writers/authors are in their twenties to fifties during their biggest ‘publishing’ careers. In my opinion this si due to the ‘old boy’ network of the big seven publishers and the strangle hold they had on the industry until lately.

When I was first starting out writing, I knew of an older lady in her sixties writing her first book and most of the big publishers rejected her because of her age. (this was quite a while ago.) I guess their thought was that since she was elderly (she was very spry) they wouldn’t get many books out of her and therefore not a good investment. And as with any other industry, maybe even more here, the bottom line is the money. How much will a book or author make for the company?

For the most part, I think that younger writers just haven’t had the time to learn their craft. Not saying that there aren’t talented young people out there, just the majority are not good enough writers to actually get published. This was I’m sure the thought process of the executives in the big publishing houses.

I would like to see more manuscripts written my both young and old. Young because they have a new, fresh perspective on the world and writing. Older because they have lived and have the experience to put into their writing. So for us at Seventh Wave Books, (www.seventhwavebooks.com) there is no age limit. We judge the work, not the writer. So if you or someone that you know is looking for a publisher, give us a shot. Even if this is your first time trying to get published. After all, we all started with the first manuscript!

Stay tuned.

Angela Abderhalden is the author of the Mel Addison Mystery Series and Acquiring Editor for Seventh Wave Books, LLC

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“No Pain, No Gain.”

It’s totally a cliché but true. I realized this when I was doing training for a new program at my mundane job today. At work, several of us are training to master a new program that will enhance customer service. The problem is that it is still in the beta stage and there are inevitably glitches and issues. We have to pinpoint them, figure out a way to fix them, work thru them and then move on to the next issue.

How like writing this is. Writing is part craft and part artist. The craft part can be taught. It can be learned. It can be fixed. All it takes is getting the proper training and practice. Think of the Olympic athletes. They didn’t just start in their sport and were great. It took hours of practice. Years of sweat. Pain and discouragement. This before they reached greatness.

With writers it is the same. Practice. Patience. Training. More writing. So do whatever you can to get training for your craft. Books. DVDs. Other writers. Writing groups. Critique groups. Online groups. School classes. Education. Writing conferences. Learn anyway and every way you can. Then practice. Practice and when you get the most discouraged… write some more. And then some more.

The artist part of writing can be taught but takes lots and lots of training and persistence. Some people just seem to be born with it and it comes naturally. Others struggle long and hard. Either way, again training and practice is the key.

So live by the cliché. Go for the pain. The gold. The published book.

Angela Abderhalden is the author of the Mel Addison Mystery Series and Acquiring Editor of Seventh Wave Books, LLC

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