Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Purpose

That word purpose has been drifting back and forth in my rattled brain since Monday night's Bible study. The quote which said, "David fulfilled his purpose in his generation." Am I completing mine?

Our lives divide into categories. How can I be sure I've fulfilled my purpose even in the area of wife, mother and grandmother much less writing? Is my purpose to write publishable books to inspire and encourage? short stories? go to conferences and workshops to meet people I'm supposed to stand in the gap for? Am I supposed to study the craft so I can better hold up the arms of those who write and teach?

Look at Isaiah 55:10,11 NIV "As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth, and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it."

My purpose may not be known this side of heaven, but I can be sure if I follow Jesus one step (one drop of rain) at a time, God's purpose will be fulfilled.

This has been my week for rejections. Easy then to question God's intent for putting these characters in my head and love for writing in my mind, but God would have me forget all that and follow-up on the "words" He's planted.

Just for today, my prayer is "Fulfill Your purpose in me whatever it is."
Time to put that character to work in my story.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

How do you feel about multiple submissions?

Last September at the ACFW conference I learned about writers who sent proposals to several agents at the same time. I'd been convinced that was a no-no. An agent asked for my proposal, then a few weeks later, that agent asked for the full manuscript. Being as yet unpublished in long fiction, I jumped for joy. My only question came from her letter which asked for an exclusive

An exclusive? Wasn't that what they always got? I did what any self-respecting want-a-be would do. I asked the writers on my loops. The consensus was sending to several agents at one time was not only accepted but expected. I received several opinions about the length of time to give an agent an exclusive if I wished to do that. I did.

Now I'm in the process of choosing four agents whom I personally like and think I could work with. I will send my latest manuscript to them all.

At our local RWA chapter meeting last Saturday, our speaker told us multiple submissions were okay even for publishers if we apprised them of our intentions. I've always heard that was bad form. You sent to one editor, gave them whatever time they needed to decide (sometimes months), then when it was rejected (Please, no), you spruced it up and sent it to another. Our speaker said one publisher kept her manuscript for five years.

But, oh the risk. They could reject it immediately if you tell them it's a multiple submission. Do I have the nerve? I'm shaking in my Texas boots here.

If you're reading this blog, let me know your thoughts on this. Is this really acceptable practice for most agents and publishers? Personally, I hope so. What do you think?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

DiAnn Mill's Fiction Mentoring Clinic

Each year most of us make decisions about what will help our writing the most. I'm not rolling in money and most of the writers I know fall into that same category, so we choose. We go to this conference, but leave off another. We enter 1-2 contests, but decline on others. We choose an online course as opposed to going out of town. This year my first choice was to attend DiAnn Mill's 3 day workshop in Tulsa, OK.
Now that the workshop has completed, my evaluation tells me it was one of the best writing decisions I have made. The compacted training covers every facet from title to marketing.
Goals stated on that first day are met and surpassed by the end of the third.
Wednesday we studied deepening characterization using the characters in our WIP and showing them in different situations. With an evil gleam, DiAnn leaned toward us. "We have time for one more exercise." And we did, many many times, evaluating them as a group, so everyone gave their own input. That day ended with our titles. Often a member of the group had the right title input for another participant.
Thursday we began with our first sentence hook and our story hook, always working at tightening our first five pages. DiAnn's clarified dialogue purpose and place. A movie with strange twists give us examples of symbolism and tightening the "sagging middle."
Though I had a family emergency pull me away Thursday night, I've received an e-mail of class notes for Friday from DiAnn on plotting the longer book and the "grabber proposal" and "plots that dance."
Because we attended the workshop, we were invited to join a loop where further help will be forthcoming in weeks and months to come.
I've now finished what DiAnn says never do with my summary of the workshop. "No flashbacks or back story in the first fifty pages." That statement will strengthen my fiction along with much other great helps. I now have a new scene to write and an improved beginning. I've learned to subscribe to the tension on every page.
Thanks, DiAnn, and thanks to the other seven people in my class. If you're in the process of choosing where to spend your money and time to learn, go to DiAnn's web site and check out when and where her next fiction mentoring clinic will be given. Trust me, you'll be glad you did.
Happy writing all,
Janet K. Brown