Posts Tagged ‘Carol award winner’

Three comments that kill a writer’s ego.

 

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What’s the worst thing you can say to a writer? I’m sure there’s an impressive list that can wound our fragile egos. Here are a few that stand out in my mind.

#1) I didn’t finish your book. Oh, the agony. Was it a sagging middle? The characters weren’t fully fleshed out? You hated the font? It’s like telling a chef the food wasn’t good enough to bother eating. Excuse me, while I go throw myself into a lake!

#2) There’s not enough sex in your book. Sigh. If you want lots of graphic content, you’re just not going to get that from me. Is it possible to enjoy a book that isn’t sexually explicit? If the answer is no, I’m not your author.  We will shake hands and agree to disagree.

#3) I don’t read. Acck! Really? Like, at all? This one is perhaps the most discouraging of all. I hear it a lot from folks who get their entertainment in other ways, T.V., computer games, etc. Maybe it’s the teacher in me, but when I hear folks say they haven’t read a book since high school, I am saddened.

Are there phrases that really cut you to the quick? Would love to hear your thoughts. Giving away a Starbuck’s card, signed book and a cute fall surprise this month. 

Music to an author’s ears….top three compliments that thrill.

 

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The job of the professional writer takes place mostly in darkened rooms or at out-of-the-way coffee shop tables. We slave away, push the send button and through some miraculous process the manuscript turns into a book. It’s done mostly in isolation. Perhaps that’s why writers covet those hard-to-earn words of praise. Here are the top three comments guaranteed to thrill any writer any time.

#1) “I couldn’t put it down.” Oh joy! All that endless agonizing over pace, plot, character arcs and such! There is no sweeter sentiment than hearing you’ve managed to create something compelling. If an element in your book captured a reader in some small way, you have completed  a writer’s greatest mission.

#2) “When will the next book come out?” Ah ha! Not only has someone enjoyed your book, but they are eager to check out more of your work? Priceless!

#3) “I could really relate to the characters.” What a sweet sentiment. Creating characters who are different but believable, multi-faceted but not over the top, and meaningful without being maudlin is not an easy task, I can tell you. Think about how many people in the world pass by you every day with whom you have no personal connection. The writer has a scant smattering of words, the briefest of moments, to make you connect with somebody whom you’ll only meet across the pages.

We all have that particular compliment that is sweet to our ears. What compliment do you most enjoy hearing? Giving away a signed book and an Amazon card tomorrow! Would love to hear your thoughts! 

It’s back to school…and back to book writing!

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It’s time to gear up! School starts in a matter of days and for me that means diving back into a double life. Like Clark Kent, I have a mild-mannered public persona…I’m a third grade teacher. In fact, most people I encounter think that is my only profession. Because I am blessed to share a job with another teacher, I work two days a week at school and the rest as a wacky fiction writer. It’s not a perfect split. The teaching gig inevitably spills over into the rest of the week in the form of prepping, professional development, parent conferences, etc. The writing life spills over into the teaching days when I get a brainstorm that just has to be jotted down before it’s lost forever, or that blog that must be posted, or the interview that must be done.  It’s not perfect, and much of the time I am slightly disoriented. This comes to light when people ask that dreaded question, “How’s the book?” I am paralyzed. Which book? The two I am currently writing? The one I’m reading for pleasure? The professional development book? The novel I’m reading to the kids at school? I suspect my dazed countenance is why folks think I’m a bit wafty.

Do you ever feel torn between two worlds? How are you adjusting to the “back to school” switch? Would love to hear your comments. Giving away a signed book and an Amazon card this month. 

Why writers should ‘just say no!’

12808921_sI’m sure you’re aware that the role of an author has changed significantly. We don’t whack out a jolly good novel, hand it over to the publisher and let them do the heavy promotional lifting. It’d be swell if we could, but that just isn’t the way the world is. Authors have to market their work. Period. So which avenues should a hardworking writer gal pursue to this end? Here’s a brief list of platforms that have been recommended to me.

Facebook, Twitter, personal blog, website, Pinterest, Tumbler, Instagram, Linked in, Goodreads, SnapChat, publisher sponsored forums, You Tube, group author blogs, etc. etc.

Boy oh boy would all these things help get the word out about the wonder that is a Dana Mentink book. One eensy weensy problem. I don’t have the time to participate in all these things and still produce any meaningful writing. Fact is, I’ve just got to say no to many of these nifty opportunities. I choose a few from the list that feel the most authentic to me (Facebook, Twitter, various blogs, Goodreads) and I try my best to keep up with them. Is it going to make me a N.Y. Times bestseller? Nope. Will I keep my sanity? Hopefully!

Are there things in your life you’ve had to say no to in order to keep your sanity? Would love to hear your thoughts. Giving away an Amazon gift card and a signed book in August!

Your romantic hero can’t do THAT job…can he?

HeroesAs I plunge into writing my second romance for Harlequin’s Heartwarming, I’m grappling with a sticky question. Can Cy Franco, a home decorator be a romantic hero?

The majority of heroes in romance novels have those rugged, manly occupations such as Navy Seal, homicide detective, F.B.I. agent, cowboy, doctor, millionaire, etc. etc. They also tend to have manly names like Dirk, Hunter, Jack and such. Do I love these heroes? Absolutely! Who wouldn’t? So why don’t I write heroes like this? Because it’s obvious. We already know the people holding these jobs are heroic. They have skills, they are incredible, but we knew that before  page one. The rules for romantic comedy are different, of course, but still we tend to want our men in manly jobs.

It’s so much more enticing to me to write about…say… a botanist. Sure he’s got plant skills, but how’s he going to do against a murderer intent on killing his girlfriend? How is a down and out lawyer with no remodeling skills going to resurrect an ancient inn? Now, I’m interested.

What about a man in a profession that has been historically female? Let’s say, a male kindergarten teacher or a nurse. The jobs aren’t brimming with testosterone. That’s where it comes down to author skill, doesn’t it? A Navy Seal is already a romantic hero, but a male kindergarten teacher can become one if the author is skilled enough. If I asked you to list the heroes in your life, I’m betting most would not mention a Navy Seal, a racecar driver, or an F.B.I agent. Heroes are everymen and women, people who find themselves fighting battles that they are not professionally or personally equipped to handle.

So what do I say when people tell me I can’t feature home decorator Cy as a romantic hero?

Watch me!

So who are the heroes in your life and what are their occupations? I’ll bet we get a very interesting list! Giving away an Amazon card and a choice of signed books this week.

Hard truths about writing and eggplant.

imageimageLet me just say the hard part first. If you want to be in the writing business, you’d better know that you’re going to fail. A lot. Take in the following two points, but be sure to read to the end. The bitter comes before the sweet!

1. If you want to be a writer, you’re going to feel rejection. Looking for an agent? You’ll no doubt query a ton of them before you get a nibble. I probably sent out a dozen agent queries a week for a while. I got some nibbles, but mostly just the form letters. Dear BLANK, Thank you for your interest in Skippy Doo Agency. Don’t take it personally, but we are not interested in representing you at the present time. Truth is, I published three books with Heartsong Presents before I even acquired an agent! Same is true with project proposals. You’re going to mail out a bushel of those babies and most will come back stamped “Thanks, but no thanks.”  I used to keep a binder to track my status and for many years the rejection section was bigger than all my published works stacked up!

2. If you want to be a writer, you’re going to experience criticism. It’s the nature of what we do. We write things, craft the very best product possible and send it out into the world. Some people are going to love it, and others are going to cut you to ribbons. Publicly. On Amazon and their blogs. And Twitter. It’s just the way of the world because consumers are very empowered by technology to share their thoughts. ALL of them.

Discouraged? Here’s the sweet part. Writing is like eggplant. Some people love it, and some can’t abide the veggie. Your book or article will find its way to the people who love it and need to hear it. Those are the people you write for, those eggplant lovers who need to hear what you have to say. You’re going to bless them, but you have to endure some rejection and criticism to do that.  It takes courage and commitment, but all good things do, don’t they?

What things in your life have required courage and commitment? Would love to hear your thoughts! Giving away a Starbuck’s card and two books at the end of the month!

Do you care about the cover?

 

When I tell my third graders I’ve written more than 15 books, they  “ooh” and “aaah” and ask the inevitable question. “Did you draw the picture for the cover?” Sadly, I say no, but the question emphasizes the importance of a good cover. A cover sells, or doesn’t sell, a book.

And let me be perfectly honest here and say that authors and art departments don’t always agree on that winning formula for a cover. Witness the photos below. I adored the original idea…bright yellow colors, steamy jungle backdrop, frightened yet determined woman on the front cover. Perfect! Version two had a man added in who, in my opinion, looked a bit nauseous and far too snappily dressed for having been slogging through the jungle. I lobbied for number one. I lost. That’s business. My job is the words, not the cover design.

 

 

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So which cover of the choices above to do you prefer and why? Giving away a signed copy of Jungle Fire and a Starbuck’s card this month.

*Below is a link to an interesting article about several covers and the artists multiple versions before they got the winning product.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2014/06/03/books/02before-8.html