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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Monday, September 19, 2011

Flash Fiction Contest

HIS Writers is holding a flash fiction writing contest.

First Prize--$50
Second Prize--$25
Third Prize--$10
Fourth and Fifth Prize--Honorable Mention

$10.00 submission fee per entry

The contest closes on October 15th.

For complete information, please visit:

http://hiswriters.acfwcolorado.com/flashfiction.php

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Interview with Michelle Levigne

flowers shown by a gravesite

HOW MANY BOOKS HAVE YOU WRITTEN?

I'm crossing the 50 mark -- between published novels and novellas, and the ones that are currently out of print, either because I pulled them from the publisher or the publisher went out of business. Some will not go back into print until I revise them considerably.

WHEN DID YOU DECIDE TO START WRITING?

High school. I had been daydreaming for years, revising TV shows and movies and books that I either really liked and wanted the story to keep going -- or the story was so bad I rewrote it. A lot were Mary Sue stories -- in fandom, a Mary Sue is the ugly duckling character who meets the hero and is smarter/braver/stronger and saves the day, and the hero falls in love with her. And if there are buddies in the series (as in Star Trek) the buddies fight over her.

In high school, I had semester exams to study for, and my current daydream was getting in the way. So I wrote it down, thinking that would kill the story. I had tried to write down my story ideas before, which usually killed them -- but this time it didn't. I've been writing ever since.

 a park banch is shown in presumably a park

WHAT OBSTACLES HAVE YOU FACED AND OVERCOME ON YOUR PATH TO BECOMING A WRITER?

The biggest obstacle was not knowing how to approach publishers and find out who was taking what kind of stories. I read Writer's Digest and found books in the bookstores, but it wasn't enough. Until I joined several different writing groups in succession -- networking is vital to learning and making connections and getting anywhere.

Groups were also important to improving my writing. I needed feedback. I needed to bounce ideas off people who were writing the same sort of thing -- or writing totally different stories, to get a different perspective. And it always helps to have someone to gripe to, when an editor or agent just didn't have the taste and insight to take what you're offering.

WHAT DOES YOUR WRITING SCHEDULE LOOK LIKE?

I try to write every day. I learned to put my writing first -- either writing fresh material or revising. Mornings are for my writing, then an hour for office work, catching up on email, other office chores. Then my afternoons and evenings are for earning a living -- I'm a freelance editor, working for various publishers with small assignments, or getting editing jobs from people who want their books polished up before publishing.

For a long time, I put my clients first, and that meant that at the end of the day, I was brain-dead and too tired to get my own writing done. You can't publish what you haven't written.

a man and woman are shown in pirate type costumes on the cover

As for what I'm working on, and in what order...

I have to turn in the polished manuscript for my next (11th) Tabor Heights (inspirational romance series) novel, "The Mission," on October 1 -- when the 10th book, "White Roses," comes out. After that, I promised the publisher of my science fiction series, the Commonwealth, another book. I hope to revise, polish, and turn in "Moonbirds," the sequel to "Wind Walker," by the beginning of November.

After that, I have to revise and polish "Accidental Hearts," the 12th Tabor Heights book. Then start writing the rough drafts of the 2nd year of Tabor Heights books -- I have a contract for 8 more, to start coming out every 3 or 4 months, starting in 2012. And I have promised my other publisher more Commonwealth novels. Also, I have a new fantasy series set in a weird little town called Neighborlee, Ohio. There are "superheroes" and visiting fae and dimensional doorways and mysteries to solve. And silliness.

So I have a very, very busy schedule. Essentially, I'm trying to rough draft a new novel every other month, and then turn in a polished book every 3 months. It helps that I have several rough drafted books already in my files.

WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE AUTHORS?

Tolkein, Lewis, Pratchett. Macomber, Roberts/Robb, Evanovich, Barron, Billerbeck, Tang, Eager, Lawhead, Austen, LaFevers, Peters, MacDonald, McCaffrey, Crispin, Burnett, Alexander.

a  boy is shown in the foreground, planets and space are shown in the background

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR ASPIRING WRITERS?

Give yourself permission to write a rotten first draft.

Give yourself permission to write such a bad first draft, if you printed it out and lined a bird cage, the bird would die!

If you let yourself write badly, you relax. The hardest part -- at least, as far as I'm concerned -- is getting the 1st draft down. Once you have SOMETHING on paper, you can fix it. You can't fix a blank sheet of paper.

HOW DO YOU LIKE TO SPEND YOUR TIME WHEN YOU’RE NOT WRITING?

Cheering for the Cleveland Indians.

Watching DVDs of old favorite TV shows that are finally available. Right now, I'm watching the Zorro series starring Duncan Regehr. I have first seasons of Young Riders, Stingray, Roswell, Remington Steele, and the Pretender waiting to be watched. I don't get a lot of TV time. There'll be more when the baseball season is over.

HOW CAN READERS FIND OUT MORE ABOUT YOUR WRITING AND/OR CONTACT YOU?

My web site is www.Mlevigne.com
My blog is www.MichelleLevigne.blogspot.com

You can also visit my different publishers and see the different books I have available.

www.AmberQuill.com -- Amber Quill Press
www.awe-struck.net -- Awe-Struck E-books
www.Desertbreezepublishing.com -- Desert Breeze Publishing
www.hardshell.com -- Hard Shell Word Factory
www.Mundania.com -- Mundania Press
www.Writers-exchange.com -- Writers Exchange
www.uncialpress.com -- Uncial Press

I have a feature at Night Owl Reviews coming up a little later this month, focusing on my Commonwealth Universe books. Plus my books are available in e-format at Barnes & Noble and Amazon, as well as major e-book outlets such as Fictionwise, All Romance E-books, iBooks, Kobo, CBD, etc.

 a planet is shown on the cover

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Making Changes--by Making MS Word Work for You

I love writing; I loathe rewriting. It's not the rewriting as much as keeping track of changes that bothers me. I collect wonderful and helpful critiques from other writers, and that's when my perfectionistic nature kicks in. I have to make sure I review every change to decide if it's valid/it's appropriate for my story or not. My motto is "no crit left behind!" Unfortunately, the first time I received changes to one of my stories, I went about it all wrong. I now have a ton of changes to make to that story, and while I like the story, the changes sit to the wayside for now.

When I submitted a second story for critiquing, I developed a better method. I write "better" and not "best" because I'm sure someone out there probably has a better method, but I share my method here, with the hopes that it helps at least one other person.

The Heidi Method

I label a story with chapter numbers, but when I submit the story for critiques, sometimes I submit bits and pieces of chapters at a time, for example, the end of chapter 2 and the beginning of chapter 3. I now label files as parts, that is, Part 1, Part 2, and so on. This helps me keep track of my crits in chronological order.

Next, I create a master folder on my computer titled "Name of Story." Then, within that folder, I create subfolders, such as "Part 1 Crits," "Part 2 crits," etc. I review critiques as I receive them (in case some of them might affect future chapters), but I wait and collect a few chapters worth of crits before saving them out to the corresponding subfolders (Part 1, Part 2, etc.).

Let's suppose I have four crits for Part 5. I open MS Word and from the "Review" tab option in the MS Word 2007 "ribbon," I choose the "combine option" from the "compare tab" and select the first two crits I want to combine. I combine them and save them as "Part 5, 1." Next, I select the next two crits for a particular chapter and repeat the above operation, naming the new file, "Part 5, 2." Then I combine "Part 5, 1" and "Part 5, 2", usually naming them something like "Part 5, final revisions." I reject changes, accept changes, and make any revisions directly to this file and save it. Instead of reviewing four individual files, I've now reviewed four sets of changes at once.

I then open my master file of my story and replace the original Part 5 text with the text from Part 5, final revisions.

Do the same for each part of your story. Rinse and repeat. Any questions, please feel free to post a comment. I'll try to answer them as best as possible.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Interview with Rick Acker

Looking for thrills? Need a little mystery? A little suspense? If you get the chance, please visit Sleuths and Suspects, a blog I coauthor with Jackie Layton. Recently, we interviewed Rick Acker, author of When the Devil Whistles.
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