A Slice of Orange


Contests vs Submission

August 19, 2008 by in category Archives tagged as

Monica Stoner, Member at Large

Several years ago, someone told me if a work was ready for a contest it was ready for an editor. I didn’t agree then and agree even less now. Having judged contests, I’d have to say some of the entries aren’t ready for the contest and should never go to an editor. This is not meant harshly, everything I’ve judged had some good features, but they were often lost behind poor pacing, grammar, or just too many words in the wrong place.

The huge advantage to a contest over an editor is, the contest judge has to read your whole submission. The editor can skim a couple pages and tell you the submission is not right for their line. The contest judge can find the place in your story where you need to start the book; an editor could easily find the same place but generally won’t have the time to do so. Nor should an editor have to tell you where to start your book.

Since so many contests now allow for judge comment, you have the advantage of multiple edits to the same book for one contest fee. You can agree or disagree with any of them, but if every one finds the same problems, you’ll know where to head for your next rewrite.

Once you have some manuscripts and contests under your belt, and have finaled in one of the contests, or at least not received your entry back dripping read with editorial comments, you might think about offering to judge. Don’t make this offer lightly, since as you would well know by then, fragile egos could be behind the creation of the entry, same as when you entered. Who better to understand how a mean word can send you to Camp Hershey or Dove when you should be sitting still and writing?

One or two sessions of reading contest entries can be eye opening for your own writing. I’ve also found this to be a great remedy for the dreaded writer’s block. Many clubs offer contests throughout the year and most are in need of a both entries and judges. Give it a whirl, you never know how much fun it can be until you try.

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Writer on the Verge

August 18, 2008 by in category Writer on the Verge by Kate Carlisle tagged as , , ,

More Conference Talk!

Everyone’s been sharing their conference and post-conference experiences, so I thought I’d join the crowd. And I brought photos–mostly of me, I’ll admit. But ya know, it’s my camera. 🙂
For me, this year’s conference was all about networking with fellow writers and I think I succeeded. Well, I partied a lot, anyway.
I was thrilled to finally get a chance to visit and party with my fabulous blogging group, Romance Bandits, and even had a few chance encounters with the Golden Rooster. (A long story, but visit the blog a few times and you’ll catch on!) Here’s a picture of the Cheeky Chook with Romance Bandit and Kensington debut author Jeanne Adams. Don’t they make a cute couple?
Here’s a shot of me with another Bandita and double Rita finalist, the lovely and talented Avon historical author, Anna Campbell.
Here are a few familiar OCC faces. This was taken the night of the Rita awards. It’s me, with Jennifer Apodaca and Michele Cwiertny. Don’t we all look fabulous?
And here I am with yet another Bandita, Sourcebooks Casablanca author Loucinda McGary. Her first book, The Wild Sight, is out in October and she’s already starting to garner wonderful reviews! We’re showing off our first sale ribbons!
I’ve got lots more photos but an alarming number of friends have threatened me with death if I post them here. I won’t mention any names … but some people are so touchy!
Hope your conference experience was wonderful!

Kate Carlisle’s Bibliophile mystery series from NAL debuts in February 2009 with HOMICIDE IN HARDCOVER.

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The Write Way………

August 17, 2008 by in category Archives, The Write Way by Maureen Child tagged as ,

Ahhhh………another year, another conference!
Hard to believe National has already come and gone…….But here we are. We’ve mostly recovered, we’ve filed away all the notes and tidbits we picked up in San Francisco, and we’ve finally finished dissecting every conversation we had, looking for the ways we screwed up or said the wrong thing!
Time to move on. And what does that mean, you ask??
It means it’s back to work. Back to writing. Back to racking up the daily page count and meeting all of those deadlines. Whether they’re self imposed or set down in contracts, meeting those deadlines counts.
Did you get a request for a partial from one of the editors or agents you met at conference? Then don’t just sit there, get it shined up and out the door. And while your baby is sitting on that desk, tapping its proverbial toes, waiting to be read, you should be sitting at YOUR desk, working on the next proposal. Don’t sit there fingers crossed, hoping for luck.
Build your own luck.
I’m not sure who said it originally, but I heard a great quote in one of the workshops at conference……..If you want to succeed, double your failure rate………
Makes sense. You’ll never succeed if you’re not trying. So get those proposals out there. Take a shot. Make your dreams come true while you’ve still got time!
Maureen Child is the author of more than 100 romance novels and novellas. Right now, she’s typing crazily, rushing to meet those deadlines………
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Time: Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

August 15, 2008 by in category Java Plots by marianne h donley tagged as

By Marianne H. Donley
I love clocks. I have wind up analogue clocks that chime every fifteen minutes, a KitKat Clock with red sequined eyes and a moving tail that acts like a pendulum, battery clocks that are boring but accurate, atomic clocks that know when to change to daylight-saving time without me telling them to do so, and, of course, digital clocks on the microwave, cable box and computer screen. With one or two exceptions they all report different times.
It starts in my bedroom where we have matching digital clocks on matching night stands. The old guy’s clock reads ten minutes faster than my clock. He sets it that way on purpose. Every morning when HIS clock says 6:30 and mine says 6:20 he shuts the alarm off BEFORE it rings. Then he goes back to sleep.
I poke him and say, “Time to get up.”
He says, “No, I can sleep for ten more minutes.”
I say, “Why do you set it early?”
He says, “So, I can sleep for ten more minutes.”
This makes no sense to me. He knows the clock is ten minutes fast. Why doesn’t he set the clock for the correct time and then set the alarm for ten minutes early? As much as I like math (and I really do–be careful I’ve been know to prove the square root of two is irrational with little provocation!) I don’t want to do arithmetic at 6:20 in the morning. In addition, he is legally blind without his contacts on, no joke. So he can’t even see the clock until he gets up and gets dressed. And, not to belabor the point, he turns the alarm off BEFORE it rings, so why does he even need to set the alarm?
Moving down to the family room we have the mantle clock, an eight-day, key wind, Westminster Chime, Seth Thomas, my sister, Rosemary, gave to me as an engagement/Christmas present. No matter how many times I set it or fiddle with the +/- lever in the back, it runs about two minutes slow. This doesn’t really bother me. The clock is thirty something and has survived my kids, my nieces and nephews, and now my grand kids trying to see how it works. I figure it’s entitled to be a little slow. This drives the old guy nuts. He complains about it nearly every day which is why I keep fiddling with it.

In the dinning room we have an eight-day, key wind, Westminster Chime that my brother, Michael, made for my son, David’s wedding. We hung the clock when David and his family moved in with us. It doesn’t work because someone (I’m not naming names, but it wasn’t me) set the time by moving the hands counterclockwise. We’ve taken the clock to a variety of clock repair guys who have told us a variety of tall tales as to why it doesn’t work, including one guy who said it needed to be cleaned to the tune of three hundred dollars and one who wanted to replace its expensive movement with a cheap battery operated one.
My KitKat Clock didn’t survive the move from California whole. One of the mover guys misplaced his tail (on purpose I suspect as I had to take the clock off the wall twice and hand it to the guy when he said everything was packed). I hung KitKat in the solarium anyway, and his red sequined eyes still move with the time. But without his tail, he doesn’t have quite the noble bearing he did before. He keeps pretty good time as long as he is perfectly balanced. Dust his pretty face and he’s likely to stop ticking completely until I get the level out. My five-year-old grandson would like the clock to completely disappear because KitKat has scary little eyes. When he visits, I think poor tailless KitKat will have to live in the basement for a while.Now here are two time related tasks for you.

Task One: Go look at an advertisement for clocks or watches. You can use a newspaper or even the Internet. What time is it in most of the ads? Do you have any idea why?Task Two: A Westminster Chime clock, chimes four times at quarter past the hour, eight times at half passed, twelve times at quarter to the hour and sixteen times at the hour PLUS one extra chime for each hour (so at 6 am the clock will chime twenty-two times). How many chimes will that be for this whole year? (I warned you about the math.)

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Get Out of Your Own Way

August 14, 2008 by in category Archives

By Noelle Greene

Ever had that sinking feeling when you’re seated at an event, or God forbid, a play, and you realize it’s an “interactive” experience? The third wall is going down, baby. That’s when I start to squirm. And above all, make no eye contact. The third wall is there for a reason. We like it.

I was eyeing the door within seconds of sitting down at a session at the RWA conference. For some reason, the title “Improv Techniques For Writers” hadn’t clued me in. I realized, too late, we were expected to improvise in front of the group. With a microphone.

You guessed it, the session ended up being a ton of fun. I laughed more in 90 minutes than I did all week. That alone made it worthwhile. The instructor, Denise McInerney, was lovely, relaxed and reassured us that there were no wrong answers. We played games, a la Drew Carey and company in “Whose Line is it Anyway?”

McInerney shows writers how to use comedy improv techniques to loosen up and let ideas flow without self-censorship and fear. And yes, as we played we created a lot of nonsense, but that wasn’t the point. The point was to banish your inner critic.
Interestingly, McInerney, of the Washington, D.C. chapter, presented ideas other seminars at the conference featured, except she didn’t tell, she showed: by letting you feel—viscerally—how to “be in the moment” and take risks when you’re creating. I certainly felt the adrenalin pumping. And realized how fear of looking like an idiot hampers the process. I’m still working on that one. If you’d like to learn more, contact Denise at dmcwriter@aol.com.

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