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Posts Tagged ‘Writing’

  1. More on non-fiction versus fiction

    September 14, 2014 by Suzi

    Last week I had my friend Julie Sondra Decker here to talk about non-fiction versus fiction, in regards to writing/publishing. She has knowledge of both worlds because she just published her first non-fiction book, but she also is writing fiction. Today is part two, because she had a ton of great information. Go here to see part one.

     
    So my big question was, what is the difference between nf and fiction when it comes to querying and publishing?
     


    Querying Agents:

    Nonfiction: The book is pitched to agents based on a proposal, not a manuscript. Proposals are extensive documents that include the following, at minimum: a pitch statement; an overview; an outline of the intended audience, demand for the book, and competition; marketing and promotion information; an author profile; a proposed table of contents and brief synopsis of the main point of each section; and sample chapters. A query letter is still necessary at the agent stage, but you need to have a proposal ready.

    Fiction: The book is pitched to agents based on a query letter and sometimes sample chapters and/or synopsis. The agent doesn’t offer until they have read the actual book.
     
     
    Selling to Publishers:

    Nonfiction: Yes, it’s true; the book sells without being read by the acquiring editor, though they also generally want sample chapters to make sure you can write. I got a publishing contract and got paid a partial advance for my book before anyone read it (even my agent); they took it on the strength of the proposal and the sample chapters. (However, my book’s first draft was done before I queried agents; I felt I needed to be done before I could outline its contents effectively. The book had progressed in drafts by the time it sold, but I was still editing it up until the deadline for turning it in to the publisher!) Publishers sometimes offer to pay half the advance on acceptance and the other half the advance upon turning in the manuscript. That’s what I did.

    Fiction: Not only has the accepting editor read the book, but several other readers generally have too (especially if it’s a larger company). Fiction publishers sometimes offer contracts on books they haven’t read, but they’re generally offered with caveats; they will offer a multiple-book deal based on the strength of a completed first manuscript, or for the additional books in a series, or with the understanding that they can turn down your next book and make you write something else to satisfy the contract.

    It’s a world of difference between these two!

     
    No kidding. :) Which agent did you get first: non-fiction or novel? Was querying of one more stressful than the other?


    I was signed for fiction first. When my novel went on submission to publishers, I needed a distraction, so I wrote the nonfiction book. It got signed to an agent and sold to a publisher while I was waiting. Querying for fiction was much more stressful than querying for nonfiction, for two reasons:

    1. I feel fiction is more personal and more creative, so rejections cut deeper. Rejections of the nonfiction felt more like they just weren’t interested in the subject or thought my platform wasn’t developed enough.

    2. I knew the nonfiction would sell. It sounds a bit arrogant, I think, but I knew it was a book that needed to exist and that I was the right person to write it, and I had lots of other content on the subject that had already been well received. I thought it wouldn’t be long before an agent and then a publisher would see eye to eye with me and it would move. I was right. I wasn’t querying very long before I signed with Andrea, and I got three offers from publishers when it went on submission. I still wrestle with self-doubt on whether I’m good enough in fiction, so everything about it is more stressful.

     
    I read one of your novels. You’re definitely good enough. :) But I get what you mean about fiction being more personal than non-fiction.
     

    Does publishing a nonfiction book go faster than fiction? Or does it still take that year to year and a half like it seems it takes novels?

     


    It really does depend on your publisher. Smaller publishers can often get things out faster if they have the means, while larger publishers tend to plan several seasons in advance. My nonfiction publisher is a decent sized small independent. I signed the contract on November 20, 2013, and the book was scheduled for publication on September 2, 2014. I think that’s pretty typical for my size publisher. I don’t know that they would go any faster or slower for fiction; the biggest variable seems to be size of the company, not type of book. (Though obviously if an author gets an offer for a book they have not completed and then they don’t meet their deadline to turn in the actual written manuscript, delays could interfere.)

     
    I suppose it did help that you were all ready to go. I’d be curious to see stats on nf. If most people are like you, and have everything written, or if most go into with with only those sample pages.

     
    Thanks so much, Julie for all the information. Like I’d said before, I don’t really know any others who do non-fiction, so it was interesting to hear how the process go.
     
    And for those who haven’t seen it yet, here is more about her new book.
     

    What if you weren’t sexually attracted to anyone?

     
    A growing number of people are identifying as asexual. They aren’t sexually attracted to anyone, and they consider it a sexual orientation—like gay, straight, or bisexual.
     

    Asexuality is the invisible orientation. Most people believe that “everyone” wants sex, that “everyone” understands what it means to be attracted to other people, and that “everyone” wants to date and mate. But that’s where asexual people are left out—they don’t find other people sexually attractive, and if and when they say so, they are very rarely treated as though that’s okay.
     

    When an asexual person comes out, alarming reactions regularly follow; loved ones fear that an asexual person is sick, or psychologically warped, or suffering from abuse. Critics confront asexual people with accusations of following a fad, hiding homosexuality, or making excuses for romantic failures. And all of this contributes to a discouraging master narrative: there is no such thing as “asexual.” Being an asexual person is a lie or an illness, and it needs to be fixed.

     
    In The Invisible Orientation, Julie Sondra Decker outlines what asexuality is, counters misconceptions, provides resources, and puts asexual people’s experiences in context as they move through a very sexualized world. It includes information for asexual people to help understand their orientation and what it means for their relationships, as well as tips and facts for those who want to understand their asexual friends and loved ones.
     

    Author bio:

     
    Julie Sondra Decker is an author from Tampa, Florida. She writes fantasy and science fiction for adults and children, and is known as a prominent voice for the asexual community. Her nonfiction title The Invisible Orientation (Skyhorse/Carrel) releases September 2, 2014.

     
    Purchase Here | Read Reviews Here | Goodreads | Website | Blog | YouTube | Twitter


  2. Non-fiction versus Fiction

    September 7, 2014 by Suzi

    My friend Julie Sondra Decker just released her first book, The Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality. This is a non-fiction book, but she is also a fiction writer, and she has two agents. I really wanted to get her on my blog to talk about the non-fiction versus fiction thing because I don’t really know too many nf writers. I’ve split it into two posts because she has a lot of great information, so make sure you come back next week for post two.
     

    Congratulations, Julie, and welcome again to my blog. So I’m curious. Did you write your nonfiction book before you started writing novels?
     

    No. I completed nine novels (and began four others that aren’t complete) before I thought of writing a nonfiction book. I primarily think of myself as a fiction author, but for some reason the short nonfiction pieces I’ve produced over the years have always gotten more attention than the fiction—probably just because I’m writing in a field that isn’t crowded yet.

     

    I’ve heard sometimes that with nf, writers send a query that is more like a proposal. They’ve only written a few chapters of the book and they look for an agent or publisher before finishing. Can you tell us some differences between the nf and fiction writing/publishing processes?

     
    Except for the fact that both are made up of words, nonfiction and fiction are Completely Different Animals. That’s everything from how it’s written to how it’s sold. Here are some huge differences I’ve seen while straddling the two:

     
    Completed Manuscript:

     
    Nonfiction: The book doesn’t have to be complete before pitching or selling. As long as you can describe its structure and content, it doesn’t actually have to be written.

     
    Fiction: The book has to be complete before even attempting to get an agent, unless it’s through a special arrangement.

     
    Author Platform:

     
    Nonfiction: It’s vital that the author has a demonstrable platform and is recognized as some kind of authority on their subject. They may have to demonstrate media appearances, previous publications, or recognized experience in the field.

     
    Fiction: They don’t even ask about platform, though if you’ve had any short story sales or relevant writing credits you can mention them in your query. Platform doesn’t get contracts for debut fiction authors unless they are celebrities or are self-published with lots of sales.

     

     
    Those are some pretty big differences. :) Do you have any other plans for writing nonfiction or will you just concentrate on fiction?
     

    I don’t plan to write another long nonfiction book, but I do write short nonfiction pretty often and will probably continue getting those published in magazines/blogs. However, a novel I have planned for the future incorporates the subject of my nonfiction book—the nonfiction book is about asexuality, and the upcoming fiction has an asexual character—so there will be some tie between my fiction and my nonfiction.

     
    Thanks for stopping by, Julie. We’ll see you next week too. She’ll be talking about querying and publishing for nf and fiction.
     

    And here is more about her new book.
     

    What if you weren’t sexually attracted to anyone?

     
    A growing number of people are identifying as asexual. They aren’t sexually attracted to anyone, and they consider it a sexual orientation—like gay, straight, or bisexual.
     

    Asexuality is the invisible orientation. Most people believe that “everyone” wants sex, that “everyone” understands what it means to be attracted to other people, and that “everyone” wants to date and mate. But that’s where asexual people are left out—they don’t find other people sexually attractive, and if and when they say so, they are very rarely treated as though that’s okay.
     

    When an asexual person comes out, alarming reactions regularly follow; loved ones fear that an asexual person is sick, or psychologically warped, or suffering from abuse. Critics confront asexual people with accusations of following a fad, hiding homosexuality, or making excuses for romantic failures. And all of this contributes to a discouraging master narrative: there is no such thing as “asexual.” Being an asexual person is a lie or an illness, and it needs to be fixed.

     
    In The Invisible Orientation, Julie Sondra Decker outlines what asexuality is, counters misconceptions, provides resources, and puts asexual people’s experiences in context as they move through a very sexualized world. It includes information for asexual people to help understand their orientation and what it means for their relationships, as well as tips and facts for those who want to understand their asexual friends and loved ones.
     

    Author bio:

     
    Julie Sondra Decker is an author from Tampa, Florida. She writes fantasy and science fiction for adults and children, and is known as a prominent voice for the asexual community. Her nonfiction title The Invisible Orientation (Skyhorse/Carrel) releases September 2, 2014.

     
    Purchase Here | Read Reviews Here | Goodreads

    Website | Blog | YouTube | Twitter


  3. Something weird happened

    August 11, 2014 by Suzi

    I’m actually excited about editing again.
     
    But back up first. My summer plan was to get my ms almost ready for querying, but I lost my motivation and haven’t done too much. I had several critiques from my betas/friends and I needed to make those fixes they suggested.
     
    Luckily there wasn’t big structural things, but more character issues to fix. Which is mostly adding to develop characters or cleaning things up. So I was glad about that.
     
    Still, there was a lot of stuff to fix. Which is why I lost my motivation.
     
    But now I got it back.
     
    I was reading a series of blog posts about tightening your writing. Words to cut. Most of those word are in my big edit list, but I found a few new ones to add.
     
    And now I’m ready to get back into it. I need to fill in a few things, maybe make some cuts, and then I’ll be ready to start those little things. Cutting filler words. Replacing words like walk with more descriptive ones. Stuff like that.
     
    Maybe I’m a little behind schedule, but at least I’m back on track.
     
    And that feels good.


  4. The downside of collaborations

    July 27, 2014 by Suzi

    The downside of collaborations… from a reader’s perspective.
     
    When two writers get together and write an amazing story, they forget about one thing.
     
    How difficult it is for us readers to get an autographed book. I mean, it’s hard enough getting an author’s signature, but two? It’s not like they usually live in the same city. Or even state.
     
    So a few years back I got a signed copy of My Heart for Yours (MYFY) from Steph Campbell. Her co-author was Jolene Perry. And my book felt so lonely sitting on the shelf with only one autograph. And then one day, the book got packed up into a suitcase, boarded an airplane, and landed in Salt Lake City. All to accompany me to the Storymakers Conference.
     
    MHFY was overjoyed when I, the lowly owner, presented the book to Jolene Perry and asked her if she could sign it. And she did, cause she’s cool like that. I mean, I didn’t even have to beg or anything. :)
     
    And now my book is happy.
     
    But then… while there, the generous Cassie Mae gave me a copy of her collabs with Theresa Paulo, King Sized Beds & Happy Trails and Beach Side Beds & Sandy Paths. And of course she signed them too.
     
    Now those two books are unhappy because they do not have Theresa’s autograph. And now I’m going to have to hunt down her down to get her to sign it because I don’t want those books to be unhappy.
     
    Unfortunately Theresa lives half a country away, but fortunately, she offered that if I ever came to New York, I could stay with her for a week or two. And she’s feed me and clothe me and show me all the sites of NYC. Right, Theresa?
     
    Um, Theresa?
     
    :)
     
    So I’m hoping I don’t have to wait too long before I can get her to sign it. But by then, they’ll have the third story out, Lonesome Beds & Bumpy Roads, and I’ll just bring that one along too. But then it won’t have Cassie Mae’s autograph and then I’ll have to go to Utah again. And they’ll probably write more books together.
     
    And this will never end. See, you collaborating authors, what problems you cause for us readers?
     
    I guess I should stop complaining because I actually have those autographs, huh?
     
    Do you have books that are collaborations, and you got it signed by one or both of the authors?


  5. The Lucky Seven

    July 6, 2014 by Suzi

    Thank you to Rachel Schieffelbein for tagging me for the Lucky Seven. What you do is turn to page 7 or 77 of your current work in progress, count down to the 7th line, and print the next 7 lines.
     
    The WIP I’m revising right now is called Varying Degrees of Blame. A contemporary young adult in dual POV. It’s about two foster kids, an unrelated boy and girl who are thrown together in the same foster family.
     
    The part you’re seeing is 16 year-old Kylie, right after Kylie witnesses her mother getting beaten by her boyfriend.
     

    “You okay?” I asked, crouching down in front of her. Most people thought we were sisters because she was so young, and I hated explaining the truth.


    “Kylie honey,” she croaked, “can you get me a glass of ice water please?”


    “Sure.” I grabbed the water pitcher and an ice tray from the harvest gold fridge.


    Mom held the sweating glass to a dark bump. “Do you want an ice pack?” I asked. She shook her head and removed the glass from her forehead. I reached over to touch the ugly bruise, and she shrunk back. “Maybe I can drive you to the hospital.”

     
    This story is finished, but right now I’m using my fantastic CPs’ critiques to make it even better. And hopefully I’ll be able to start querying by fall sometime.
     
    Thanks, Rachel. And go here to see her posting from her contemporary young adult, Girl In Trouble.


  6. Looking back

    June 29, 2014 by Suzi

     
    So I’ve been working on revisions for my current WIP, Varying Degrees of Blame, a young adult contemporary novel. I have a notebook for each story I write where I keep notes and ideas. I’m not a big plotter, but I do a little of it. Or character sketches. Or whatever.
     
    On the first page of the notebook for my current story are two names. Zander and Kylie. Originally, Zander had been my boy mc, and some of my beginning notes use that name. I don’t remember why, but I ended up using Christian instead. And now when I look back, I’m like, Zander—that is so totally not right. It doesn’t seem to fit him at all.
     
    Which is funny because I can’t really tell you what Zander looks like. It’s just not the boy in my story.
     
    Most of the time, once I’ve chosen a name for my mc, I stick with it. Secondary characters names may change, but rarely a main one. And I wish I could remember why I changed Zander’s name to Christian.
     
    But now I’m curious if others do this. Have you ever gone back into your old notes and seen where you’ve changed the name of your mc, and does that original name just seem foreign now? So much that you wonder what you were thinking almost using that name?
     
    Or is it just me?


  7. Disappearing bloggers

    June 22, 2014 by Suzi

    I’ve noticed lately how so many bloggers I know are slowing down. I get it because I know why—they’re becoming published and now deadlines are not always just their own and their time is less. Also, many of them are finding that Twitter and Facebook are easier ways to interact with friends and readers compared to blogging.

    Image courtesy of Artur84
    FreeDigitalPhotos.net


    Other people just drop out of the blogging atmosphere, and I don’t have them on Twitter or Facebook, so I don’t know what’s happened. If they’ve stopped writing. Or if it was just the blogging they quit. But there’s no way of knowing.
     
    And I miss hearing from some of those people.
     
    Recently I went through Feedly to clean things up a bit. Take off blogs I don’t ever read, and remove some of those who haven’t posted in forever. Usually I won’t remove anything until there’s been like 6-8 months of silence. But I’ll also leave those people who I really hope to hear back from. To know if they’re still writing. Still pursing that dream. And maybe they will come back some day.
     
    It makes me wonder also, if blogging by writers, in general, is slowing down, for reasons I mentioned above, or if it’s just the writers I know and follow.
     
    What are your observations? Do you have bloggers you followed that dissappeared, and you wish they’d come back?


  8. Fathers

    June 15, 2014 by Suzi

    Happy Father’s Day to all the dad’s out there. Including my own and my husband–both terrific dads.
     
    Most of the stories I write are young adult contemporary, and very often the fathers have a big part in the story.
     
    More often, they tend to be absent, which of course affects my mc’s life in a big way, but sometimes the dad is a positive role model.

    Image courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

    The funny thing is with the ‘good’ dads, they don’t show up a lot throughout the story.
     
    I have one father that I love. A story about two teens, a dual pov between a boy and a girl, called Beyond the Wake. The boy’s father is abusive, and you hardly see him. But the girl’s father is involved with his kids’ life.
     
    And even though he works a lot and isn’t present for much of the story, when he’s around, he has a positive effect. And he plays a huge role in the growth of the boy–who has some issues to work through.
     
    As much as I like to have bad parents that help propel my story forward, I like seeing those good parents too.
     
    Do fathers play a big role in the stories you write?


  9. Flash Fiction Fun

    June 11, 2014 by Suzi

    If you haven’t heard of Madeline Mora-Summonte yet, you really need to go check out her blog. She writes this amazing flash fiction, some of which she featured during the A to Z Challenge.
     
    Today I’ve got her here to talk about her ff writing. But first, I want to show you a couple of my favorites that she wrote for A to Z . (And there will be more at the end too.)
     

    NO RETURN

    The sleek, blood-red convertible was rented, as was the boy toy behind the wheel, but I had no intention of bringing either of them back.


    I love how she says so much in one sentence–the feeling of trepidation I get. The imagery in her mini-stories is fantastic.
     
    MASK

    Mama always makes me wear a mask. She says I’m ugly as the sin that made me, says I’ll be handsome enough to go without one when hell freezes over, when pigs fly.

     
    When I leap from our roof, I am hiding a smile inside my pig mask.

     
    That one also brings out the emotions–although sadness for that child. And she evokes those emotions so well with so few words. I’ve got a few more at the end, but now I’ve got a few questions. Welcome, Madeline.
     
    What did you start writing first, novels or flash fiction and other short stories?
     
    I’ve always worked on stories and novels. Novels are such long, complex projects that I find stories, especially flash fiction, give me a much needed sense of completion, of accomplishment. When I’m struggling with novel work, it gives me great pleasure to submit a story, to see one recently published online. The process of writing both gives me a sense of balance.
     

    I’ve done a few short stories, and the one thing I love about them is that the editing is soooo much shorter compared to novels. It’s not as overwhelming to start that revision process.
     

    Is it easier for you to write novels or short stories/flash fiction?
     

    Hmm, I don’t know if I’d say one is easier. They’re just different.I don’t have to hold nearly as much information in my head for flash fiction as I do for a novel. Novel writing often feels overwhelming. Flash feels attainable, compact, the end is usually in sight.

     
    Did you decide to ‘try’ FF and then create the stories, or did you have the inspiration first and when you started writing, it ended up being FF?
     


    It really just depends. Sometimes, like with “Whale Watching,” it was for a contest so I was working within a set of guidelines, like word count and needing to include certain words in the story. “Mask” evolved from something I saw – a child wearing a pig mask, waving to people out the car window. “Indelible Ink” pretty much came from nowhere. I was just thinking about tattoos and why people get them, etc. “No Return” was based on a photo prompt from a number of years ago. I submitted slightly different versions of the story to a number of places, and it was rejected time and again. Yet it’s still one of my favorites. :)

     
    Is most of your flash fiction for fun or do you publish a lot of it?
     

    I submit a lot of it to different markets and contests. I like having deadlines and frameworks to work within, even if I have to create them for myself. For my collection, The People We Used to Be, I chose – and wrote – stories that fit the theme of who we are versus who we were. For The Blogging from A-Z Challenge April 2014, I limited every story to 100 words or fewer. I plan on putting together another collection, using a chunk of those A-Z stories, and I’m sure I’ll set some rules for myself for that one as well. :)

     
    Thanks so much, Madeline. Again, make sure you go check out her blog and if you’re interested in reading about how she writes her flash fiction, go to this site. You can also find her story collection, The People We Used to Be here. Those flash fiction stories are a little longer than her A to Z postings, but are just as emotional and inspiring, and I really recommend reading it.

     
    Have you ever written flash fiction? If not, here’s a few more of Madeline’s stories to inspire you. (And FYI, she does have positive stories too, but these sad and creepy ones are my favorites.)
     

    Whale Watching

    Cheryl waits on the sagging porch, the cutting spade resting across her thighs. Granddaddy used it to saw off whale blubber. She’s heard he used it for other things, too, but its stains tell no tales, fiction or otherwise.
     

    Dusk descends. Varmints scuttle in the junkyard’s bowels. The trap clatters.
     

    Cheryl smiles at the boys’ panicked cries. She’s sick of their nasty pranks and cruel words – Cheryl the Whale.
     

    At 262 pounds, her flesh slushes loose and sweaty within her clothes as she lumbers across the yard, cutting spade in hand, ready to carry on the family tradition.
     
     

    INDELIBLE INK

    She let him stain her on the inside.
     

    Now, he laughs, chooses her tattoo – his name down her back, mocking the spine she doesn’t have.
     


  10. It’s all new to me

    June 2, 2014 by Suzi

    Research is often a big part of writing a novel. And since a lot of us writers are introverts and don’t feel like calling up strangers to ask about interviewing them, we turn to the internet. Blogs, websites, video sites…
     
    Today I’ve got Theresa Paolo, who is releasing her second novel, to talk about the research she did. If you haven’t read the first story, you should read that. (Never) Again and (Once) Again are companion novels, so they don’t need to be read in order, but it’s much better that way. :)

     
    So the main character Josh (who by the way is hot :) and totally funny), is dealing with an injury from a terrible ordeal suffered in (Never) Again. What was the main subject you had to research for his story?
     

    I did a lot of research on gun shot wounds. Even watched several Youtube videos on the healing process and cleaning them. Youtube seriously has a video for everything! I am very squeamish when it comes to blood so this was definitely hard for me. But I wanted to be as accurate as possible. I also just did Google searches and found blog posts and medical sites where people with gun shot wounds discussed the long healing process and the pain associated with it.

     

    I’ve seen websites where you can submit your medical question to a doctor. That is super cool because sometimes you can’t find those little details that are important to your story by just Googling.
     
    What’s something new/interesting you learned about gunshot wounds?
     
    That a gunshot wound takes a great deal of time to heal. If it’s in the leg as Josh’s wound is in (Once) Again there’s potential for a limp, for nerve damage and the biggest concern is infection which is why it needs to be kept clean.

     

    I’ve never had a gunshot wound, luckily :) , but Theresa did a good job making me feel what Josh was going through physically and emotionally in her story.
     

    What is the most unusual research you did, if there was one weirder than this?
     

    Gun shot wounds just might take the cake!

     

    Some of the ‘interesting’ searches I’ve done for my writing include suicide, hanging specifically, and also about what it’s like to work as a stripper. (Not to convinced it’s worth the money. :) )
     
    Thanks for stopping by, Theresa. And now I want to know if you’ve ever done any unusual research for your novels?
     
    And if you haven’t heard about Theresa’s latest novel, here is the blurb.
     
    Josh will have to reconcile his past…
     

    In order to make Kat his future.
     

    After surviving a real-life nightmare, Josh Wagner is sent home from his dream college on crutches. Bedridden and tormented by flashbacks, he’s just seen his world shattered and his baseball scholarship go up in smoke. Josh’s family hires a health aide to help take care of him, but when he opens the door, the last person he expects to see is his biggest regret…
     

    Katherine Singleton is the only girl Josh has ever loved. Now, even though she’s only taking care of him because it’s her job, Josh is determined to win her back. But Kat had to move on after their breakup two years ago, and despite her feelings for Josh, a lot has happened since he left…

     
    When Kat’s past comes back to haunt her, Josh decides it’s his turn to take care of her. But protecting her—and redeeming himself—will put Josh in the line of fire again. Will he survive this time?
     
    And here is where to find out all about Theresa.

     
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