Tag Archives: submissions

It’s the Questions not the Answers

Life flummoxes me at times. Okay, most of the time. It leaves me with more questions than answers and yet, it’s one of the things about life I find most fascinating. I’ve always been fascinated by questions, in fact, it’s what drove me into education and a love of learning. Most of my students always think teaching and teachers are about answers, and I’ve met my share who are but not most. The truth is a lifelong learner is one who will never stop asking questions, never stop being curious, never be satisfied with “the answers” as given.

As a writer, this is particularly beneficial. The entire process of building a story is one of asking questions. My character is a cop but is he a street cop or a detective? Or is he with a federal branch? Does my character make his bed by mining his corners or slap the covers up over the pillows and call it good?

Will I tell the story in first person or third? Which character needs to tell the story? Where is it taking place? Will the setting be a production as in science fiction world building? What genre is this story?

The questions don’t end with the first draft. In fact, they multiply. Are my chapters well-developed? Are my scenes effective in propelling the story forward? Is there a strong character arc for my MC? Are any surprises or twists earned? Does the ending satisfy or frustrate the reader?

The polished draft is ready for submission? Who do I submit to? How many at one time? Simultaneous submissions okay?  Do I pursue traditional or self-publish, and at what point do I make that decision? Do I need an agent? If so, where do I find one? Which one will be best for me? For my novel? What about best for my career overall?

Questions. I have them. I’m surrounded by them. Finding the answers is always both the fun and the burden of the art. I cherish every minute of it.

How about you? What questions are your favorite in the process of creating? What questions do you dread finding an answer to?


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Be Inspired Meme

Be Inspired

I was tagged by blogger Natasha Hanova for the Be Inspired meme. The instructions say to answer the following questions, and then tag five people. Thanks for tagging me, Natasha. Now, for those questions…

1. What is the name of your book?
2. Where did the idea for your book come from?
The concept and the main character came from a dream.
3. In what genre would you classify your book?
YA Science Fiction Suspense


4. If you had to pick actors to play your characters in a movie rendition, who would you choose? I know enough to know I’d have no say so I’ll not go there. Like many writers, I have pictures of my characters. My main character’s looks are based on a former student. Her other characteristics are a composite of many people. Which is, of course, the real fun of building characters.

5. Give us a one-sentence synopsis of your book. Ginny Carrera discovers she’s genetically engineered to survive a nuclear holocaust AND on the international auction block so with the help of friends, Toad and Mayo, she sets out to take down an evil senator and his crew of human engineers.

6. Is your book already published / represented?

It is being shopped with appreciable interest so I’m hopeful.

7. How long did it take you to write your book?

The first writing was three months. The rewrites and edits have been unending.

8. What other books within your genre would you compare it to? Or, readers of which books would enjoy yours?
Not a lot of books that I’m familiar with, but there are authors who inspired me. Kevin Brooks, Caroline B. Cooney, and Harlan Coben.
9. Which authors inspired you to write this book?
An author didn’t inspire me to write this. My childhood fascination with only one aspect of science class did. I was not a science kid but when the introduced genetics, I lit up. It fascinated me and still does. The ongoing growth in this area of research keeps me reading everything I can get my hands on.
10. Tell us anything that might pique our interest in your book. 
Puberty is hell for everyone. Try doing it after discovering that you really are the freak you feared people thought you were. Then, try doing it on the run because nearly everyone is after you for your invaluable DNA.

Now to tag five others…

Victoria Dixon @ http://victorialeedixon.com/

Rachael Harrie @ http://rachaelharrie.blogspot.com/

Michelle Wallace @ http://www.writer-in-transit.co.za/

Hildred Billings @ http://hildredbillings.blogspot.com/

Andria Parker @ http://anchorsandfreedom.com/about/

I can’t wait to hear more about you. Please leave a note in the comments if you decide to participate. Thanks!


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Green Energy

I have felt like a hybrid car desperately in need of a charge this winter. It seemed like no matter what I did, I could not get off the starting line to move forward in my writing. I’d parked in bad metaphor land. Maybe I attempted too much. I did NaNo while working on another novel and teaching college classes. Not exactly a sane undertaking.

Maybe I had lost my love for the craft. No, I still got excited about prose, just not mine. I was doing all the things I’d done before. I exercised regularly, and I ate right. I met with my writer’s group every week, and I forced my butt into the chair every day regardless of whether anything productive came out of it. And little did.

I understood underlying causes for my funk. My father’s ongoing health battles, my sons’ health issues and the oldest one’s upcoming court date (for anyone new to the blog, he didn’t do anything wrong-a shoplifter stabbed him.) were enough to keep me stressed. Trying to sell two houses, and buy a third, are adding to the insanity line we’re teetering across. Still, I’m a type A personality so this sort of thing usually doesn’t send me to the straitjacket. I finally realized I was worrying so much about why I was in the rut that I wasn’t able to get out of it. Anyone else ever do that?

We attend the Oklahoma Writer’s Federation, Inc. (OWFI) Conference every May, and there are contests associated with it. My writer’s group begins prepping our pieces for the contest in October and hope to have them ready to mail off by the mail deadline of February 1. Somewhere in January, I realized I had left my funk behind and hadn’t even thought about it. I’d been so busy and so focused on the contest entries that I had no time to worry about what had caused my writing rut. Now, my entries are all polished and ready to mail, and I’m ready to settle in for a winter of total content writing anything and everything I want. Not once will I think about why I quit for a time and wonder why.

How do you recharge your battery after a down time?

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Contest Bound – Four Important Things to Remember

How many of you enter contests? My critique group challenges each other to enter. In fact, we often enter the same ones, pitting us against each other. It’s fun when we win together as we did last year at OWFI.

POLISH, POLISH, POLISH: Contests are about more than winning. It’s about focusing on your craft. We polish our stories to the point where we couldn’t possibly look at them again, then we submit.

SUPPORT SYSTEM: It’s hard work and because of that it’s important to do it together or to at least have a support system in place. No writing takes place in a vacuum. We may create alone, but we never publish alone. Bring the whole team together before you submit your writing.

GUIDELINES: Never take any guideline for granted. Whatever is listed, follow it to the letter. The last thing you want is to have your story rejected for something as silly (to our way of thinking) as formatting when you could have done it right and WON. The people running the contest have good reasons for those guidelines and as professional writers we have to adhere to them.

SHARE: Writing is enough work, but add social networking, marketing, etc. and when does a writer have time for anything else? When you hear about a contest, share it with other writers. We’re all in this together, an ever-growing community of artists. Help each other out. None of us have time to find them all, and beginning writers may not even know where to look.

In that vein, here are some I know about (and do feel free to share these with others):

Dead of Winter: Winter-themed contest


Literal Latte Fiction Award


National Writers Association Novel Writing Contest


On the Premises (These are fun)


What are some of your favorite contests?

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Writer’s Bucket List

In the September issue of Writer’s Digest is an article on the writer’s bucket list. While we share certain goals, each writer’s bucket list would have some variation to it. Even within my tightly knit writer’s group, there would be some differences. After reading the article, I decided I’d figure out what would be on my list so I can see how many items on my list are done.

1. My goal was always to write a novel. I love reading them and I wanted to do that, write books and tell stories. I’ve now written five so this item on the bucket list is accomplished. Yeah!

2. Publish something, anything. I have published several times. However, for a novelist to only sell her short fiction is to say she isn’t published. Sigh.  I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished, but I’m so far from done, this doesn’t feel like an item I can declare.

3. Master the short form. It took going to grad school to finally write a short story without it turning into a novel every time. Forty thousand dollars later, I can not only write a short story but sell one. I can definitely declare this one.

4. Book signings. I have both feared and longed for these. I have actually gotten to do this for an anthology I was a part of, and it was a lot of fun. However, there were all of us there together. Not a lone writer in a book store hoping someone shows up. Nope, this one isn’t done quite yet, either.

5. Maybe it’s my theater background; maybe it’s my love of film, but I have always had a dream (okay, fantasy) of seeing one of my books on the big screen. My YA novel is a high concept so it could happen…

What about you? What is your writer’s bucket list like?


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Image Poem

Dallas Ivan Davis



He was, he told us, a simple soldier,

 followed directions.

 always obeyed his commander,

                                       looked out for his men.

                                       “A soldier does that,” he said.

                                       He never told us –

                                       about the mine that went off

                                       and the man left behind.

                                       He never told us – –

                                       how he crawled across that mine field

                                      to retrieve his man and carry him out.

                                      He never told us,

                                      about the cost

                                      of what a simple soldier


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Blog Chain – Facing the Keyboard After Rejection

Like all writers I face rejection constantly. It’s as consistent as the bills. The question for those of us who do this is: How do you stay motivated at your most unmotivated?

For me rejection brings to mind torture devices from the darker paths of history. Put me in stocks. Pull out the thumbscrews. Chain me in the tower. Stretch me on the rack. Just don’t make me write when it feels like my dog writes better prose than I do. No offense, Moses.

Motivating myself to write when things are as dark as they can get is beyond difficult. It’s like hunting for a man after a painful divorce. Demeaning, devastating, deplorable. How do you force yourself to sit down to the keyboard after someone rips your work to shreds? The obvious answer is you sit your butt in the chair, and you do it because as a writer you have no other option. For most of us that’s true but it’s also true that each rejection makes it harder to repeat the process. .

It’s not like I enjoy being eviscerated. (And no matter how many times I tell myself it’s not personal, those words are mine and therefore, it’s very personal.) However, I can’t stop the voices in my head, and I can’t stop telling stories just because they aren’t perfect on the page yet or because I haven’t found the right editor or agent to read them yet.

In all honesty, sometimes the blistering criticism is accurate. My work is not done. And I’m not totally surprised by the criticism as some place deep down, I knew something wasn’t working. I wasn’t sure what, but I knew something was wrong. However, some of it is BUNK. A reviewer rushed, skimming rather than reading.  Or makes suggestions that aren’t helpful or fitting to the work at hand.

The issue for a writer before they pull out the thumbscrews is to figure out which criticism is worth pursuing and which can be burned in effigy or placed on the rack and stretched until shredded.

Unfortunately, you have to let go of the pain of the rejection first. Having a support system can help. My critique group provides that. They provide a balance for me. Honestly agreeing with the reviewer when the advice is right and telling me to ignore it when it’s off the mark. But mostly, by acknowledging that this is part of the process, and we all go through it as writers. A form of hazing to find who has the wherewithal to keep going in the face of constant rejection. That is what gets me back behind the keyboard and willing to keep trying.

What keeps you in the game? Check out Natasha’s blog to see what she has to say about rejection.



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