The Game of Writing

As some of you might know, I’m a gamer. I’m a hardcore World of Warcraft fanatic and have been playing since right after beta. I’ve belonged to the same guild for over 20 years, across multiple MMO (Massively multiplayer online) platforms.

I’ve decided that the publishing industry is like gaming. Not a compassion you’d expect to hear, but let me explain.

As an up-and-coming writer (new adventurer) you set out to hone your craft (level up) and tackle your first manuscript (your first quests).

Work hard and stay the course, and you land yourself an agent (level-up and gain access to a new area).

Keep writing, work with your agent to polish that manuscript, and earn a publishing contract (keep leveling until you earn that coveted legendary piece of armor)

You’ve made it (won the game), right?

Wrong!

Just like in MMOs, there’s no real endgame. Your work (the world) is constantly evolving. There’s always a new skill to learn, a class to take to level-up. A few simple things and you’ll be skipping down the path to success (pillaging the enemy and amassing hoards of gold)

Always raid with a party – Just like in gaming, the road is smoother if you don’t go it alone. Find your tribe. You’ll need them to navigate rocky terrain (setbacks, bad reviews, rejections) and provide a trusted ear for battle strategy (plotting, venting, ect!).

Remember there’s no in-game hack to get you to the finish line – in gaming, we call it an exploit. A trick to fool the game and advance without putting in the work. (Hopping on twitter and calling for a “follower trade” to amass thousands of followers isn’t going to earn you a platform. Editors and agency are looking for quality, not quantity. You can’t possibly have meaningful exchanges with that many people! Make real connections, interact, and grow your following through hard work and putting your all into creating your masterpiece—your book!)

There might be twenty different servers, but there’s still just one internet. Watch what you say/do – I remember badly behaved players from the first years I started playing WoW, and to this day, those player’s names still live on, their reputations still soiled. Wiping a raid ALA Leeroy Jenkins, to kiting a boss into a low-level town and watching all the AFK people get smushed, the internet remembers. (Remember to think before you speak/act. The same author’s book who you talked trash about for four days on twitter might one day be someone you want a blurb from. Trust me, they’re going to remember—it’s happened to me, and while I didn’t hold an actual grudge, I didn’t go out of my way to help the individual. Remember to treat everyone with kindness and respect. The publishing industry is surprisingly small, and people talk.)

And that’s all from me this month. Happy writing (gaming)! May your words flow free and your plots remain untangled (may your gold be plentiful and your rares abundant).

About Jus Accardo

JUS ACCARDO spent her childhood reading and learning to cook. Determined to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps as a chef, she applied and was accepted to the Culinary Institute of America. But at the last minute, she realized her true path lay with fiction, not food. A native New Yorker, she lives in the middle of nowhere with her husband, three dogs, and sometimes guard bear, Oswald.

Planning and the New Year

I’ve always been a reasonably good planner though these last few years have put a definite crimp in my normal routine. And just for the record, my word for 2019 is determined.

In 2017, my husband was diagnosed with colon cancer. We spent the whole year with surgeries and chemo and all the things necessary to get him cured. In 2018, I spent most of the time recovering myself but there was one thing I was interested in pursuing, and that was my MFA in Creative Writing.

In January 2018, I checked out the local program and was so impressed overall that I immediately submitted my application. Every time a deadline passed, I would email the office to see what was happening. Then I got wait-listed and felt I’d waited too long as obviously my chance was gone. With only six weeks to go, I was informed I had indeed gotten in and was given the dates for that July residency.

Sure, I jumped for joy, but I also knew that it would change everything as I would now have to ‘fit’ everything around my education. Fast forward to January 2019, and I’ve now completed my second semester and no longer am the stunned person I was in July 2018. I also learned that my first semester was excellent and easy to plan around. This semester, I have a new mentor who expects many different things from me, more difficult things and definitely much more polished.

After resting and getting my bearings for nearly two weeks, I realize I am going to have to plan more than ever. Last semester, I revamped older writing things to use but this time around, I’m having to start from an idea to getting it on the paper to critiques, and you get the idea.

A few years ago, I had designed a planner specifically for a writer’s productivity. While I do want to continue that project, I decided to go with a popular planner design from Erin Condren because it fit with my goals. I’m using her quarterly mini-planners as well as her goal planner.

Both of these will get me back into the habit of writing down what I need to do and when. It will also have a daily inspiration that perks me up. Today’s was: It always seems impossible until it’s done. I have space to make notes and then check them off as I complete them. I also use colors: purple is for writing and school things, hot pink is for my own writing life outside of school, and teal is for all things personal.

Every day, I can glance at it and see just how much or how little I might have to do that day from the colors alone. I’ve included a photo of my calendar, which includes today and the weekend. Notice not much is on the weekend and that is to accommodate my husband’s day’s off. Today, you will notice is full of things still not checked off. I usually go back over my daily items before writing in my nightly journal.

What do you do to combine and plan all areas of your life? Do you use separate planners for separate portions? Or do you just use one planner and try to make it work that way?

Can’t wait to hear your answers about planning and coordination of life and writing. Next month, I’ll be looking at the goal planner and how I’m using it to keep my writing, both regular and MFA projects, organized.

About Lynn Crain

Award winning author Lynn Crain has done it all in her life. From nursing to geology, her life experiences have added to her detail rich stories. She loves writing full time as she weaves contemporary, fantasy, futuristic and paranormal tales, tame to erotic, for various publishers. Her home is in the desert southwest and she’s just returned from her latest adventure of living in Vienna, Austria while her husband worked his dream job. You can find her hanging out online at www.lynncrain.blogspot.com, https://www.facebook.com/LynnCrainAuthor, and on Twitter, @oddlynn3. She loves hearing from her readers at lynncrain@cox.net.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Sorry I haven’t been here much this year. Lots of things happened and I’m back on the track with writing, life and a whole lot more!

Promise I’ll be back to tell you all about it starting next month!

About Lynn Crain

Award winning author Lynn Crain has done it all in her life. From nursing to geology, her life experiences have added to her detail rich stories. She loves writing full time as she weaves contemporary, fantasy, futuristic and paranormal tales, tame to erotic, for various publishers. Her home is in the desert southwest and she’s just returned from her latest adventure of living in Vienna, Austria while her husband worked his dream job. You can find her hanging out online at www.lynncrain.blogspot.com, https://www.facebook.com/LynnCrainAuthor, and on Twitter, @oddlynn3. She loves hearing from her readers at lynncrain@cox.net.

Stuffed

I began this week, thinking… uh, oh. Diet Sabbatical, here you come. With all the foodie inspiration popping up on Facebook, this holiday week is bound to be filled with every amazing dish known to mankind. And it was true… we had turkey and baked dishes filled with cooked down veggies and creams and sauces. Pies like you just can’t even do more than once a year!

I’m stuffed. My buttons are tight. I’ve run in an effort to balance, but let’s be honest…ain’t no running enough to counteract the Diet Sabbatical!! haha.

You know what else I’m stuffed with?

Good ideas.

I’ve had a great week of pulling back, spending time with family, and just listening. I’m returning home from Florida today, feeling refreshed and ready to go. Excited to end the year on a good note and carry it through to 2019. I hope this Thanksgiving has found you doing the same: eating, enjoying life, relaxing, and filling your soul with the next best selling idea!! Whether that be the burnt fried turkey…the fight Uncle John had with Aunt Maude…Cousin Frankie’s new tattoo…or your sister’s announcement that she is pregnant with number 12 [she does know how that happens, right?].

What’s one thing that happened this week that will definitely end up in a book someday?

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

Romance and our Middle Grade

I’ve been dipping into other pools lately, and even though I still have no focused direction, I have lots of questions about what kids are reading now a days.

  1. who reads middle grade?
  2. who reads YA?
  3. What do kids want in a story?
  4. What makes a story compelling?

So, One at a time because I like how these questions have answers that also lead me into a deeper understanding of if this is something I want to do. Who would I be writing for? What is my target audience?

1. Who reads Middle Grade?  Word on the street is that 8-13 year olds are reading middle grade. That’s the standard, so to speak. And I imagine they are!! But I also remember reading a lot as a kid. When I pick up a MG book and it is about an 1/8 – 1/4 of an inch thick, I stop imagining it. Avid readers, at this age, are well beyond this story… A 5th grader is 10 or 11, and even my own kids had started in on Harry Potter by then. Okay…

2. Who reads YA?  This one is also broad, because we all know the twenty-something who loves YA. But technically, YAers are 14 – 20[ish]. I think the appeal of YA holds the readers into adulthood. [just an opinion, of course…maybe I need to do a poll!] I’ve never quite gotten into YA, so no matter what I discover about this genre, I can’t imagine writing it. However, is there an overlapping spot between MG and YA that I could squeeze a book into?

Overall, I feel like both of the labels are skewed and depend too much on the markets and namecallers to be valid. What do I mean by that? I mean people–kids, teens, young adults, and adults–are never going to be pigeonholed. So, what do we do? We balance between writing what we want to read and writing for the market. Selling the book is important if we want people to read it. And publishers want to know WHO is going to buy your book!!

3. What do kids want in a story?  This one is tricky. I know what I want in a story. I know what I wanted when I was in 3rd grade and reading trixie belden mysteries, when I was in 6th grade and reading Agatha Christie…and in 10th grade and reading Michael Phillips. Part of me hopes that kids still want a riveting story, characters who bring depth, and emotions that jump out from the page and make us feel. And something fun. I found a blog post answering the question “Can my middle grade book have politics?” Besides the fact that the answer is YES, I would question, why? I’m bored already and I haven’t even read the book. The matter of a book should be so ingrained in it, we don’t see it until we’re done and we step back and go…wow. For me this is where Christian Fiction goes wrong. There are a few good Christian fiction authors who can put a story on the page without slapping me with the dos and don’ts. [hey, Beth…you’re rambling now!] Ooops.

4. What makes a story compelling?  Nothing like asking a question that has a million answers!!! However, I’m going to wrap it up in one word, CONFLICT. Emotional, moral, relationship, external…no matter what you choose to highlight, there better be the idea that something better or worse is out there, waiting to ruin everything.

 

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

Looking to the Future

I have a time travel. It’s a YA–so far. It’s set between now and World War Two. I only mention this because I titled my blog post, “Looking to the Future.” Which I’m doing, in a way. Back in January I registered for Thriller Fest XIII, the big convention every year in New York City. Did you know International Thriller Writers is free to join? I joined back in 2015 after meeting another member and being convinced it was worth it! It has been worth it. Even more worth it, though, was the friendship I made which lead me there. And that makes me think of all the connections I’ve made in this industry.

Here at Through Heart-Shaped Glasses. In my critique group, Passionate Critters. Through Romance Writer chapters, writing groups online, and social media Promotions. It’s a huge big world. And I find myself loving the connections. Friends all over the world…

Writing is a solitary struggle about 80 percent of the time. The other 20, it’s the connections. There is nothing like the camaraderie of the writing industry. From writing to publishing to marketing–there is a place for you! Someone will side with you and then commiserate with you when your career turns south for a time and then cheer you on as you kick-ass back on track.

There’s this hope that someday, I’ll get to meet all my writing friends and associates face-to-face. For now, COME ON, JULY! HURRY UP AND GET HERE!! You’re just weeks away, and I have plans…

Tell me, what are you looking forward to this summer? Do you have any conferences or workshops on your schedule? What kind of connection will you make with ‘the industry’? Will you pitch to an agent? Garner interest from an editor? Buy a drink for that coveted marketing professional?

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

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