Shut Up & Write!

Copyright PGR Studio

Shut up and write!

Am I being rude? Or am I teasing about a writing lifesaver I found recently?

Let’s go with a writing lifesaver 🙂

Since last week, I’ve been utilizing different Shut Up & Write meetups to write over 1,900 words in an hour. Shut Up & Write is exactly what it sounds like. Writers meet online (or at a certain place in town) and introduce themselves plus the project they’ll be working on, then they literally just write for the remainder of the time. I’ve found success on Tuesday, Friday, and Sundays with the online version. Meetup lists several different chapters and the beauty–you don’t have to belong to that city in order to join since everything is online. Guess I can thank covid for that…

I’ve written so much that I’m almost finished my five scripts for my graphic novel series! I’ve also taken advantage of an art group that I’m in. Every Saturday, G.N.A.W. hosts accountability hours where we can draw or write for an hour and a half. It’s literally the same concept as Shut Up & Write.

I’ve learned that I’m a more disciplined and productive writer when I am with other people working on their own projects. How are you? Are you better off alone? Or do you like connecting with others? If you think you’d like joining a writing community, definitely check out Shut Up & Write online, and if you’re on Meetup, my profile is Yawatta Hosby. Join the groups I’m in and say hello!

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

The Personal And Business Side Of Writing

On Wednesday, my writing buddy and I attended a writing event at the Winchester public library. It was hosted by David Hazard, who is a big name in the publishing industry. He’s an author who has generously helped launch careers for other aspiring authors. His company Ascent provides coaching and support services for writers.

Thankfully, he didn’t boast about his career or try to sell his business to us. It was very refreshing to go to a writing event and actually learn something about the business. Since Mr. Hazard was so humble and willing to open up to us, it sparked my curiosity where I researched him on my own.

I’ll spread the love and share what he taught us that night (the lecture hall was packed).

PERSONAL SIDE OF WRITING

1.  Writers need inner-discipline. We have to hold our story ideas in high esteem. If we don’t believe in our books, then no one will.

2.  When writing, DO NOT MULTI-TASK!

3.  Create an open space in your life. Stop letting garbage clutter your mind, filling your brain with excuses on why you can’t write. Excuses are BS; you can do it.

4.  Retrain the people in your life so they understand how important your writing routine is. Guard your time when you view writing as a business.

5.  Always remember WHAT YOU’RE DOING IS IMPORTANT AND VALUABLE! Believe in yourself, don’t give in to self-doubt.

PUBLISHING

1.  Editors are always in need of new successful products (authors proposals/submissions) to fill a publishing house’s quota.

2.  Research publishing houses and agents that are a good fit for your book. Find the right home, someone interested in your work, so they can successfully sell your product. Don’t just send your book to anyone.

3.  DO HOMEWORK! There’s the Writer’s Market and Literary Market in libraries. Check company’s websites to compare how current those books are. Websites are more up-to-date with staff changes, new submission guidelines, etc.

4.  If you’re interested in a particular publishing house, read the books they publish. What’s the new edge your story offers? What’s different about your book? Publishers don’t want in house authors competing with one another.

5.  In order to get an agent or publishing house interested in picking up your novel, you need to “sale the sizzle, not the steak.” You need to create a hook to open up the imagination of your readers.

  • If you’re not clear on the intention you want to provide your readers, then you aren’t ready to submit any query letters. For the hook, you have to connect to your audience. To connect is to understand them. What do you share in common with your readers? Where do you want to take the readers? What will the book do for the readers?
  • Very few authors have universal readership. You need to pick your niche and stick to that target audience.

ONCE BOOK IS DONE–NOW TIME TO PRESENT IT

1.  Publishers want to know what the author will do to support their own book. The business side of being an author is to promote and support your work.

2.  Publishers want to know: why do you write? What do you write? Why did you choose that topic or genre? And your answer better not be “because I figure I’d make the most money this way”. They want to hear why you’re passionate about your subject, so they can create your author statement. They want to know what they’re selling to the world.

WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN PUBLISHER SAYS YES

1.  An editor and about 5 other people will review your product at a board meeting. You’ll need a cover letter, summary, sample of writing, etc. After the editing process is completed, the publisher will decide if they want to pursue the project or decline it. Is it worth selling your book? Will it make the company a profit?

  • You’re not asking someone to just support your dreams; you’re also asking them to invest a lot of money in you. Is your work worth the investment? If the answer is yes, you’ll receive a contract, sometimes an advance. Advance goes against your future royalties. Royalties are not calculated from the cover price (only the wholesale cost).
  • You get to keep your advance, and the company will be out of money if your book doesn’t sell. Royalties kick in after the publishing house receives their advance investment. It’s in their best interest to work for you, to get their money’s worth.

2.  Study the clauses–especially the fine print–of a contract VERY CAREFULLY! Find a lawyer to read it for you. Practice due diligence. With the business of writing, the author needs to be informed.

3.  Once you sign the contract, a team of people will support you and your novel. The marketing and promotional departments will gladly meet with you if you ask (but they won’t offer if you don’t ask), but leave the creative design department alone. They do not want to hear your input because they are trained to know what cover design, back cover blurb, etc. will entice the readers’ senses.

4.  The company wants you to be happy; however, they want your book to sell. You have to transfer trust at some point. They are professionals and know what they’re doing.

—-

David Hazard was so nice that he even offered to stay an extra 30 minutes to answer every question from the audience. There were a lot of questions about self-publishing. He was for self-publishing, which was refreshing to hear. He said as long as the product is of QUALITY and it’s edited by a professional, you have a chance at a publishing house being interested in you. Nowadays, they browse the internet looking for the next big thing. If they see you have a quality product and you’ve had at least 1,000 book sales, you’re on the right track. He also mentioned if you start out one way, you don’t have to stay on that track throughout your career. For instance, if you became a self-publisher, it doesn’t mean the door will always be closed for the traditional route. If you chose the traditional route, it doesn’t mean you can’t become a self-publisher down the line.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Hear Ye, Hear Ye, Creative Writing Prompts Are Here To Stay

School is back in session! I remember my first writer’s group meeting where I introduced myself as a creative writing instructor. At the end of it, they never really described what they do or what they’re about (red flag–they were a critique group disguised as a writing group), so I asked them if they assign exercises or anything. One of the ladies exclaimed, “We don’t have homework!”

A total dig. I could have been catty and said, “Apparently you need some, since you can’t grasp the constructive criticism people were telling you.” Instead I chose to laugh it off. No need to make waves on my first day. Who am I kidding? I’m nonconfrontational.

Anyway, this post has a point. I took a hiatus on writing creative prompts (or exercises)–so sorry–but I’m back now. Today, the one I left off on (celebrity nagged by fan) will be due on Tuesday.

Prompts help. I promise if you’re stuck with writer’s block or bored with your writing routine, try writing prompts. Go crazy. Be silly. Experiment. They can be useful later to create novel or short story ideas. For example, ‘the Vegas marriage’ prompt interests me enough to base a short story off of it. From ‘someone says no’, I can see a novel coming from it. It was going to be my NaNo inspiration in November; however, I think it’d be wise to turn Trapped into a novel.

When I submitted that short story to my writer’s group (well, my old writer’s group because I quit due to all the tension. They had a clique already formed and weren’t welcoming to newcomers), most of the feedback I received was expanding on it, revealing the beginning of Finia and Miki’s relationship. Especially the act of him sabotaging her birth control to trick her into getting pregnant. I might as well try it with NaNo while it’s fresh in my mind.

Who knows how many story ideas will evolve from these creative writing prompts. I’m excited to see!

For all the writers out there, do you give yourself writing exercises? Or do you feel like they’re a waste of time?

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Day 20 of 90 Day Novel Challenge

I didn’t lie when I predicted I’d have plenty of time on my hands while outlining my next novel. I’ve managed to get the majority of my editing accomplished for One By One (only 20 more pages to go woo hoo), provided character sketches and plot outline for screenplay with my writing buddy (it was fun the day we scouted locations in Harpers Ferry), and I completed character sketches for my comic–even did research (will be combining comicpress with wordpress for my art blog next year).

Now, its day 20 of this novel challenge. In 8 more, I can start my rough draft. I can’t wait! I’ve described the majority of the scenes that I want in this story, so it’s all fresh in my head. I just have to jot it down on paper. I’ve been a busy bee, getting intimate with my characters. I’ve roleplayed enough that I know them by heart. It took a while for me to figure out their names though–that was a first. I’m not even completely sold on my four main characters’ names, so they may change in revisions. Since they are celebrities, they should have memorable first and last name combinations.

My routine for this challenge so far has been to focus on plot outline and character sketches  in the morning(using my own method instead of those questions in the 90 day book), then in the afternoon and night, I work on my other projects. This challenge expects a 80,000 word count novel at the end! I have to rethink my strategy.

  • Let’s see, for NaNo, it was 1,666 words a day. If I write 1,000 words a day for the next 2 months, that only leaves 60,000. If I do 1,340 words a day, then it’ll be 80,400 words give or take. Hopefully, this will be less stress compared to NaNo. When researching, I couldn’t find anything about when to expect burning out or being motivated, the best and worst weeks of the process, etc. I’m going into the situation blindly, and I hate that. I want to already know, so I can prepare myself for it. Oh well.

Being realistic, I don’t expect to reach 80,000. I really don’t want to hee hee. I like to get in, make my point, then exit to the left. This 90 day novel challenge will probably give me a headache, but I’ll succeed. My inner-nerd won’t let me fail. It’ll help that I plan on dividing this novel into different parts–it should help me produce a higher word count than usual.

The premise is based off of an actress’s experience. It’s a popular headline at the moment for magazines and blog sites. It was fun to Google the gossip to get the juicy version from the press and to hear fans’ reactions. I’m excited to reveal behind-the-scenes of Hollywood with PR, bruised egos, inflated egos, narcissists, etc even if my story is make believe. That’s why it’s called fiction. The details are changed so much that no one will be able to tell where I found inspiration from. There’s only one person I told, and she better not spill the beans hee hee.

I plan to finish editing One By One this weekend, leaving me time to begin my creative writing prompts again. I’ll start this Friday. I’m sorry I had to stop awhile–it was cool that some of you enjoyed reading them 🙂

Come on Day 28, I’m ready for ya! For all the writers out there who’s participated in this 90 day novel challenge, do you have any tips or suggestions for me and my writing buddy before we start our first rough draft?

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby