Writing

Writing Mediums

Hello everyone!

This is technically a repost, but the old content was so useless (in my opinion), that there was no point in editing it or using it in any capacity. Instead, I want to pose a question, and maybe explore how some of the different tools we use to write change the way we write. Maybe multiple mediums can be used in tandem and how that, too, changes the way we write.

The questions I want to pose are: What do you use to write? What do you use to edit?

My answer: A lot. I write with pen and paper, as well as Word on my laptop. I used to be really big into Scrivener, but I find it’s best for editing and formatting. Plus, the hype died for it, so I fell off that train. I guess I just use whatever I feel like when the mood hits. I find I use pen and paper for poetry more than prose. I guess because poetry tends to be shorthand, so it’s just a quick way to get everything down without having to sit and spend a bit of time at the computer.

Another question I’ve always wanted to ask is how many of you write poetry? During my time in undergrad, I found that there were a lot more poets than I initially thought. Poetry doesn’t seem as accessible as prose, so I didn’t feel that poets were as common as they are. I’d really like to know what mediums poets use, specifically, but prose is always welcome.

Let’s start a discussion. I’m really interested in what mediums are out there that I haven’t even heard of. Maybe there are ways of using a medium that I haven’t even thought of. Share any of your thoughts in the comments below.

Thank you for reading!

-Lissy

FanFic

I’ll Be Posting/Editing FanFics

Hello!

Welcome back to another repost. This original post was essentially me coming to terms with the fact that I am a nerd and like writing fanfiction about all the things. If you’ve been here a while, then, you already know I post fanfiction. If not, welcome! I post fanfiction.

However, most of the fanfiction on here was written around 4 years ago. My writing style has changed, and I feel that I have a much better grasp on writing in general. As such, not only will I continue posting fanfiction, but I will be going back and editing any old fanfiction on here, on my fanfiction.net account, as well as on all the other various fanfic websites.

Let me go ahead and apologize to those who have been following my fanfictions. A lot of them were just left to die without any continuation, and I’m sorry you will be getting no updates until they have been worked over again. Let me assure you, though, I will be working  on them again. Future chapters inbound!

Thanks for reading.

-Lissy

Want updates for my fanfiction only? Follow my FanFiction.Net account!

Writing

Where is “The End”

Hello all!

I’ve made it a point to go back and look through old posts, edit them, refine them, and cringe at them. This was the first post I ever made on this blog/website/thing. How ironic that the beginning was about the end. What is more ironic? I preached, repeatedly in that old post that there is an end. You shouldn’t feel obligated to change things, to keep going, etc. Yet, here I am, going back to posts I thought were at one time finished, and keeping them going.

The reason I chose this post? I changed my mind. Simple as that.

There is an end, but it can always be changed. Now prepare for my anecdote as to why I’ve had this change of heart:

This fall (Fall 2016) was the last semester of my undergraduate degree. I took classes just for the sake of credits, so I had a chance to take classes I wanted, rather than classes I needed. I took an advanced creative writing class where the theme was “Ghosts.” Super cool, right? Anyway, we had to have one-on-one sessions with the professor. We were to bring a piece we wanted him to look over, and we’d spend the time talking about it. It was super generative and very helpful.

I brought an older piece that I’ve been working on on-and-off for the past year or two. He read it over, silent, for a good fifteen to twenty minutes. He stopped and said “It was fun.” I was pleased. I thought it was done. I was ready to start writing cover letters and sending it off to publications. Then, he asked me, “Why did you bring it?” I sat there for a while, mulling that question over. Why? Why not? I wanted someone with experience to look it over? I wanted someone to say “yay” or “nay,” to it? I wanted a lot of things, but I didn’t know how to respond. He clarified, “There’s a reason you’re still looking this over. If it was done, you wouldn’t bring it.”

That was so true. I wouldn’t keep looking at it if I didn’t feel there was something more. If I didn’t feel there was something I was missing, why wait to send it off? I didn’t have a good answer. Then, I remembered this old post I wrote. This post where I said there comes a time that you just need to stop. There is an end, and sometimes you have to force yourself to put it away. While I do think there comes a point where you start over-editing, over-writing, etc. I also think you shouldn’t settle. If you feel like something isn’t right, don’t stop writing. Don’t stop editing. Keep going because you may eventually find a better end than you had before.

So, I’m going to keep working on this piece. I am also going to go back and edit some of these posts because, let’s face it, they are definitely not done.

Be proud. Keep writing. Keep submitting. Be writers.

Thanks for reading.

-Lissy

Personal Posts

I’ve Been Rejected

Hello friends, newcomers, etc. It’s been a long time since I’ve written a blog post. Rather, it’s been a long time since I felt I had something worth blogging about. Recently, I’ve had a spurt of poetry submissions flying from my desk. As I’ve said time and time again, I never thought of myself as a poet. Yet, that particular form seems to be the only one my mind is capable of creating as of late.

Thankfully, I’ve had some good luck. I have a poem coming out in a magazine. I also have a short story being published in an anthology. Did I mention I’m also getting paid for these publications? As many of my writer friends know, it’s hard to find a paid publication, especially ones that take on new, unsolicited manuscripts.

Even though I’ve had so many positive outcomes from my publishing pursuits, and I’ve made sure to document it all on social media, there’s something I haven’t really talked about with anyone.

For every one acceptance email/letter I receive, I get about 10 of these:

Why do I bring this up? Because I almost always post on  Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. about all of my accomplishments. No one sees the rejections. While, yes, it is a good bit disheartening to see a rejection in my mailbox, I am proud of my rejections. I am not ashamed. I created something I felt was worthy of being read. I put it out in the world to be judged, knowing that it may get thrown out, and my work does get thrown out. A lot.

Have I been ashamed? Oh yes. Countless times I’ve seen a rejection and instantly regretted ever sending any work out. There are plenty of rejection letters that my friends, family, and readers will never hear about. However, I wonder sometimes what my writer friends think. I know I like their posts and cheer them on for every success, but what about when they feel like they’ve failed? I feel like I fail 10x more than I succeed. I don’t want them to feel like they are alone. I want them to be proud of those rejections. I also don’t want them to be afraid of rejection because rejections do happen, especially to those who achieve success. You can’t have rainbows without rain, and all that jazz.

Be proud. Keep writing. Keep submitting. Be writers.

Thanks for reading.

-Lissy

Personal Posts

I Went to a Writing Covention and…

20160303_122012[1]I have never been so well dressed in my life. As many of you know, I am still in college, though I just recently signed up for graduation in December (yay!), and being in college I’ve had the opportunity to join the English Honor Society: Sigma Tau Delta. This offers a wide range of opportunities for all college writers, and I definitely recommend joining if one ever has the opportunity to do so. One perk that I took full advantage of was being able to submit a piece to the national convention, which means I would get a chance to travel out of state, attend a literary convention, and present my piece in front of all my peers and colleagues for my college. Needless to say, I was beyond pumped.

I submitted a short story and *spoilers* my short story was picked! It was probably one of FB_IMG_1456698771494[1]the more exciting moments of my life. I received the news at around 11 pm via email after a long shift at work, and I immediately called and woke up my boyfriend to tell him the good news, along with my mom, step-mom, and grandmother soon after. I told my colleagues at work over the course of a couple of months, had them read the story if they felt so inclined, and they made me feel more confident than I had ever been. Also, my friends got together and bought me this amazing messenger bag that they surprised me with a few days before I would be travelling. I cried. I hugged them all. Little did they know, it was a huge boost to my confidence, reminded me that I was worthy of being loved, as well as assured me in my abilities as a writer. I now refuse to carry anything else.

Then began planning. I lassoed my partner-in-crime, my boyfriend, into taking the 16-hour drive with me and we were off to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Along the way we went through Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois (where I paid my first toll fee), and Wisconsin. After an extended 19-20 hour drive because I just couldn’t drive anymore past 2 am, we finally arrived in Minneapolis. I read my story, met millions of authors and poets, ate at every northern restaurant I could find, got lost multiple times in the Mall of America, enjoyed hours in the underground aquarium, and countless hours enjoying the cold weather with my boyfriend. I have always said I would one day live in Portland, Oregon, despite having never been there. However, now that I’ve been to Minnesota, I don’t think I could picture myself anywhere else. Only time will tell, I suppose.

Unfortunately, our time in Minnesota came to an end and we made the extended 19-20 hour drive back through Iowa, Missouri (where I also received my first speeding ticket), Arkansas, and Mississippi. It was a trip I don’t think I’ll ever forget. It was my first trip completely on the road, completely independent of any guardian, and completely paid for by me. It was a wonderful experience, and I can’t wait to take part in next year’s Sigma Tau Delta convention.

Want to read the story I presented? Did I mention I was approached by another author with an offer to publish it in anthology? No? Well, more on that once we get the details ironed out. Until then, thank you so much for reading, and I can’t wait to share more of my adventures on here.

-Lissy

Personal Posts

I have failed, and I’ll probably fail again

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“… who, at best, knows in the end the triumph of great achievement. And who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and cruel souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” -Teddy Roosevelt

Being an independent writer, I often times forget that I can fail, and when I do I often have trouble admitting so. It’s not that I don’t like failing… I mean, I don’t, who does? But what I’m getting at is most of the time failing doesn’t bother me. It didn’t used to, anyway. Most of it is because my failings are mostly self-contained. I write a piece of garbage, I read it, and I realize it is indeed garbage. I laugh, then throw it out. Simple as that, no harm done. Well, I recently sent out a few pieces of poetry I thought were decent, if not some of my best, as egotistical and vain as that sounds.

One of the journals was known for giving scathing feedback if they felt a piece was not worthy of the public eye, and out of respect for the journal I will not be posting their name. I knew this, though I was naive to think I wouldn’t receive any. Well, as I’m sure you can infer, I heard back from all journals with all rejections. The ones without any feedback I simply put away in my drawer, but one particular journal, the one which gave hard, scathing feedback, sent me more than just a simple rejection. It wasn’t just one page of feedback, but three.

There were three pages of “trying too hard” and “unrefined,” “unoriginal” and “without a commandment of language.” I was floored. I read each page three or four times, careful to note how many times each of those phrases and words came up. I had never been told these things in my life. I don’t think I’ve ever received that much feedback. I spent the good part of the night just staring at these pages. I felt worthless, and I felt utterly betrayed. Though the betrayal was not toward the journal, more so at my friends, family, and kind strangers or teachers who had told me all the opposite had been true.

I had always been told my work was “original” “well-crafted” and that I had a “talent,” which would ultimately lead to mass success in the future. Had they all been lies? Probably most of them. At my age and with enough rejection letters to re-wallpaper my house, I know I am not God’s gift to the literary world. I’m not the best writer, and I probably never will be. I’d be ignorant and foolish to think otherwise. Regardless, I’ve always had confidence in what I’ve done, that I did have something of a talent. While not perfect, I always thought I had enough that with enough practice I could at least match the greatness found within works by my fellow aspiring authors.

After reading this review? I felt embarrassed, mortified, and that all I had done had been an utter waste. Eventually, I just put the feedback in my drawer and went to bed. I didn’t write another word for three or four days. I no longer felt confident in what I had been working on for so long. What was the point when all of it would result in failure? Maybe I wasn’t meant to be a writer after all.

Then, a close friend gave the above quote as a gift, already framed and ready to be hung on my wall. I was stunned. This quote couldn’t have come at a better time. It was by Teddy Roosevelt, and reads:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

– Teddy Roosevelt (“Citizenship in a Republic: The Man in the Arena” speech delivered 23 April, 1910 in Paris, France)

Now this, just as I did with the scathing feedback, I read over and over and over… Particularly, “who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and cruel souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

I had forgotten that failure in itself is a triumph. I did something most people would never do. I faced rejection, and while I still was, in fact, rejected, I still had tried. I had feedback I could utilize to fuel my drive and make my writing better. The only real reason I had failed was because I had perceived my rejection as a failure, when I should have viewed it as a success. I had done something wrong, but I could fix it. I would be cold no longer. I would this rejection to  fuel my fire and rage on, in hopes of triumphing and publishing more and more work.

Rejection comes with the territory of writing. It happens, but I must remember that feedback and reviews will also come along… and they won’t always pat my butt and make me feel good. Rejections aren’t failures, they are small triumphs to success.

This quote now hangs above my desk, where I usually read rejections and write my stories and poems. It is a reminder that:

It is only failure when you give up. Keep writing, and keep trying. Don’t ever let your fire go cold, as corny as that may sound.

I hope this post serves as your reminder to never give up, too. Thanks for reading.

-Lissy

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Writing

9 Things you need to know before you start to query.

The QueryShark badge
Not too long ago, I wrote a post on how to format a manuscript. Then, I wrote a post on things you need to know to traditionally publish.

Now it is time to learn how to actually go about getting published.

The number one thing you need to learn to land an agent or publishing deal is to query.

What is a query you might ask?

The simplest way I can think to explain it is to go to your bookshelf/book pile, pluck your favorite book off the top, and take a look at the back cover or the inside flap where the description of the book is.

This is essentially a query.

It is a brief description of your book that will entice readers (or agents, or publishers) to read pages. It is your marketing plan without actually saying, “Please, oh please, read me.”

Want to know how to write a back cover blurb? Click here to read my tips and tricks!

90% of what you need to put in a query is what you would want to put on the back of your book. Here is what you need to know before you start querying:

  1. READ THE SUBMISSION GUIDELINES
    I can’t say this enough. There is an industry standard when it comes to querying, but that doesn’t mean every single agent will have the same exact guidelines. Like I’ve said before, the number one reason for rejection is not reading the guidelines and being auto-rejected because the agent feels you are wasting their time. If you couldn’t take the time to read the guidelines, how could you have taken the time to polish your manuscript? To polish the query you’re sending to them? Just do it. Those five minutes you spend reading guidelines could very well make the difference between a request for pages and a form rejection.
  2. YOU WILL BE QUERYING MORE AGENTS THAN PUBLISHING HOUSES
    That’s just how it is. Most publishers won’t take you on unless you are represented by an agent – someone who knows the business. They are the gatekeepers. So don’t be surprised when you go on the hunt for publishers and no one is taking unsolicited, unrepresented authors. It’s to protect them from the ever-growing slush pile agents are having to sift through. Plus, they don’t want to have any legal battles with an unrepresented author who may not understand certain contracts or conditions. It’s just the business.
  3. YOU DON’T HAVE TO HAVE PUBLISHING CREDITS
    You don’t. They’re nice, sure, but you don’t have to have them. Don’t make it out like it is a huge deal either. Just at the end of your query, before your closing, simply put (… this is my first novel.) Simple. You aren’t the focus in a query. Your manuscript is. Don’t get hung up on the finer details.
  4. EDIT YOUR QUERY AS MUCH AS YOU EDITED YOUR NOVEL
    A standard query should be one page long. No more. Granted, there are exceptions, but for the most part, you shouldn’t go past a page. You want to take your novel, strip it down to the bare, bare bones without giving away the ending and there is your query. It sounds easier than it actually is. You should have as many revisions of your query as you did your novel. If you haven’t even revised your novel, don’t write a query. Want tips on editing a query? Click here!
  5. DON’T QUERY UNTIL THE NOVEL IS DONE
    You’re querying for a deal. In exchange for this deal of representation, you provide a finished and polished novel.
  6. MOST QUERIES SHOULD BE IN THIRD PERSON
    Even if your novel is in first-person, most first person queries are seen as gimmicks. What is third person? He, she, it. He did this. She said this. It did such and such.
  7. FORMATTING (SOLELY FOR EMAILS. READ THE SUBMISSION GUIDELINES FOR FURTHER INSTRUCTION. SHOULD BE PASTED IN THE BODY OF THE EMAIL)
    Dear Agent Name,Ashley Judd insertdramaticvoiceandstunningrevelationsoftriumphloveandacceptance, yatta yatta, blah, blah, blah.

    THE DRAMATIC VOICE AND STUNNING REVELATIONS is a horror novel complete at 45,000 words. It is my debut novel.

    Thank you for your time and consideration.

    Alyssa Hubbard

  8. DO NOT INCLUDE YOUR MANUSCRIPT, LINKS, OR ATTACHMENTS IF QUERYING BY EMAIL
    Certain spam filters hate links and attachments. Any and all queries, if requested by email, should be put into the body of the email. It shouldn’t be a wall of text. Make some white space. Don’t include anything that isn’t requested by the agent. Do not submit to an agent that just wants your full manuscript without prior query. That should be a red flag. A synopsis is fine, but only if it is in the guidelines.
  9. READ AS MANY QUERIES AS POSSIBLE
    The best way to learn how to write is to write and to read. The best way to learn to query is to read and write queries. My favorite query website is QueryShark. It’s a wonderful place to read bad queries, their revisions, and an actual agent’s feelings on queries. That blog is an extremely valuable tool that I visit quite often. You should, too.

How do you feel about these tips? Are you query ready? Have you queryed before? What has been your experience? Let me know, and comment below.

Thanks for reading.

-Lissy

Want to be a beta reader? Click here to fill out the contact sheet, and let me know!
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Writing

Want to traditionally publish? Here are 8 things you need to know.

  1. Don’t post your work online.
    I made this mistake, and I see many others make this mistake. If you want to send your work out to agents and traditional publishers, don’t post it online! It is considered previously published if you do so, and this includes on your own blog, etc. Granted, every publisher and agent has its own opinion as to what “previously published” actually means, but I find it best to avoid posting it all together. Want critiques? It is best to go through private channels (i.e. email, beta groups with a private setting, etc.). Better yet, just pass around physical copies to people you know.
    But of course, as my dear friend Ann pointed out in the comment section, you can remedy this a bit. You can edit. Edit it to the point where there is little connecting the two pieces, thus, you have created something new. I have done this with a lot of older pieces. It works especially well when recycling works. Keep this in mind if you find a lot of your work fits into the “previously published” category. But keep in mind, this isn’t always a sure fix. Don’t rely too much on recycling. It’s always best just to keep the work off of the web from the start.
  2. Read the submission guidelines thoroughly.
    The number one reason for rejection is because people did not read the submission guidelines. Don’t make this careless mistake. It is easily avoided. Most people assume that if they follow the standard manuscript format, they’re in the clear, but every publisher works differently. Don’t assume the standard can just be passed around anywhere. Just read the damn guidelines.
  3. Most publishers require a writer to be represented.
    Publishers feel a writer needs to have representation to be considered for publication, which protects them as well as you. Find agents, submit to them, then they will help you submit to publishers. But remember, agents think like publishers. Agents aren’t going to take on just anybody, and they have rules just like publishers, so read the damn submission guidelines and you may save yourself from a rejection.
  4. Most publishers don’t like simultaneous submissions.
     Simultaneous submission – a submission which has been sent to multiple organizations at the same time. It sucks, but they do it so they’re not wasting time on a manuscript that could be picked up any minute. Here’s an example: Let’s say I send you a manuscript for publication consideration. You’re in the middle of it and you think it is damn sexy. This is quite possibly the sexiest manuscript you have ever read in your life, and right before you can tell me how much you love it, I send you this email:
    Sorry, not sorry, I signed a contract with someone else. Peace.
    Yeah, not cool.
    I know it sucks waiting around for, quite possibly, a rejection when you could be submitting to other places and increasing your chances, but there is a reason they do it. Don’t burn bridges by being an asshole and not following the rules.
  5. Don’t lie about simultaneously submitting a manuscript or its status as being previously published.
    The worst thing you can do is lie, other than not following the submission guidelines, but we’ve already talked about that. Wanna burn some bridges real quick? Go ahead and lie to a publisher. It pays to have friends in this business. It only takes a second for a publisher to find out if you’re lying. A quick google search of your manuscript, boom, there is your story posted for all the world to see. Those are potential customers they are missing out on because you’re just giving the work away for free. Why would someone pay for something they already can get for free? Definitely not a publisher or an agent. And don’t get yourself stuck by lying about simultaneously submitting. What if two publishers want your work, what then? You’re going to have to tell one you don’t want it. It’s going to piss people off real quick, and information like that spreads fast. Just be honest and do what you’re supposed to. Follow the rules.
  6. It can take months before you hear back. Don’t pester. Be patient.
    With the increase of technology, publishers have become more accessible to a much wider base of writers than when most submissions were solely through the mail. This means they’re getting mass amounts of submissions on a daily basis, and sifting through that slush pile takes a long time, especially when they have to find something worth publishing. Unfortunately, unless your name is Stephen King, your manuscript will be somewhere in that slush pile. Don’t be offended, that’s just how it is now. Just wait it out. Most publishers will give you a general wait period in their submission guidelines, as well as a time you can inquire about your manuscript if you haven’t heard back — just one more reason to actually read the damn submission guidelines.
  7. Sometimes, you just won’t hear back.
    The way things are now, with such a large slush pile, you may never hear back, which you can take as a rejection. There’s no point in writing them. If you’ve already inquired, and they’ve rejected your work, at least you heard back. If you wrote them, and they still haven’t responded, just move on. They’re too busy to reject you. There’s no point in dwelling on it.
  8. If you are rejected, do not argue with the publisher/agent.
    I don’t care if they called it garbage, called you garbage, and danced on your mother’s grave, you need to be the bigger person. I don’t mean you have to send them a “Thank You” note or anything. Just move on. There have been way too many horror stories involving writers fighting with publishers over being rejected. They took the time to reject you. They don’t even have to do that. It sounds strange, but you should be thankful they took the time to reject you. Don’t become one of those horror stories that gets passed around the internet every week. You’ll burn every bridge in the business, and you can kiss any chance at traditional publication good-bye.

So, how do you feel about this list? Does it upset you? Does it all make sense? Are you trying your hand at traditional publication? Have you been successful? Have you experienced any of these things? Let me know, and comment below!

Thanks for reading.

-Lissy

Want to be a beta reader? Click here to fill out the contact sheet, and let me know!
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Writing

How to Format a Manuscript

There are plenty of guides on how to do this. Plenty to be found on the internet, but a lot of them, I have found, don’t have examples, which I will be sharing with you all today. If you didn’t already know, there is a general consensus on how to format a manuscript, and this has been done since typewriters, which explains why things are formatted a certain way.

First off, let me disclaimer: Not every publisher will follow these guidelines.

I feel like this is the main problem a lot of people have. They think everyone will follow the same format, but that is just not the case. The majority will use this format, but you should still read their guidelines before sending anything in.

The number one reason for rejection is disregard for the general submission guidelines! Remember that!

Anyway, on to the list and example (which will be at the end)!

First off, if you have Scrivener, a lot of this will be done for you and is set up as default, so you may not have to worry about this. For those of you who don’t, Courier (any of its varieties), is the most accepted font. Times New Roman, Arial, and Garamond are also very popular so make sure to check the submission guidelines. So,

  • FONT
    Most common: Courier (any varieties)
    Other possible: Garamond, Arial, Times New Roman
  • COVER PAGE
    Name (Real, unless otherwise specified)
    Address (Mailing preferred, billing may be requested later, unless otherwise specified)
    Email address
    Phone number
    Agent’s name (Omit when necessary)
    Agent’s address (Omit when necessary)
    Title (Formatting example at the end of post)
    by Name (Pseudonym here if applicable, formatting example at the end of post)
  • PAGE NUMBERING
    In the top right corner on the second page, put the following in formation in the format:
    LastName / StoryTitle / Page#
    This should appear in the header portion of the manuscript.
    Not every publisher will want this, as some prefer anonymous submissions to promote a fair review, so once again, check the submission guidelines before submitting. On the first page, in the same spot you placed the LastName / StoryTitle / Page#, you’ll put your approximate word count.
  • END PAGE
    At the very end of the manuscript, skip a line, then put: <<<< >>>>
    This will signify the end of the manuscript.

Now for the example PDF: This is an Example

I hope that helped! Did it? Is there something else you’d like to know? Anything that didn’t make sense or that you wish I had covered? Let me know, and comment below!

Thanks for reading.

-Lissy

Want to be a beta reader? Click here to fill out the contact sheet, and let me know!
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