Wednesday, 21 October 2015
The prodigal blogger hath returned! YAY....don't get too excited now...
Working as a freelance proofreader (I mentioned in an earlier post that proofreading can help improve your grammar and language skills) I had the misfortune of proofreading a rather horrendous manuscript. No, I shall not divulge who this mutilator of words is, for I am bound by honour ( and a non-disclosure agreement).
I can, however, say that this particular aspiring author was full of it. The interesting aspect about proofreading is that one gains insight into the author's way of thinking (especially if said author wrote a self-help book and elevated himself above the status of "mere man"). Arrogant and very self-absorbed this author managed to disgust me to such an extent that I sent back the manuscript after proofreading it halfway. I simply could not subject my brain to further torture. Poor brain was huddled in a corner like a junkie pleading for me to "make it stop, make it go away..."
Much to my horror the author quoted himself frequently in the manuscript. Said author had no evidence or citations to prove his points. All his points carried the validity of "I believe," and "I recommend." Every single one of them. People, if you are going to write a psychology-based self-help book, then you best have references and citations to validate your argument. What you think and believe does not carry weight, unless it is validated by a credible source in this case.
I still shudder at the memory...absolute horror.
Wednesday, 29 April 2015
This happened to during #CampNaNoWriMo; I was happily working on my novel when the little hated window of "register software" made it's unwanted appearance. Turns out a virus corrupted Office and somehow removed the serial key. That was my worst nightmare.
Although the more common bad experiences with PC's are files bring deleted, either accidentally or by virus. So to prevent your worst nightmare from ruining your progress here's what you can do:
-back up your WIP. Email your work to yourself. Don't trust memory sticks, I learned the hard way that they too can fail! Or use Dropbbox or Google Drive to back up your work It's safe and private and accessible from your smart phone even.
-Have back up software. If you got a backup of MS Office then great! But if you can't afford to fork out the cash then rather use Open Office. It's got all the functionality of Word and it's FREE. No worries about licences that suddenly expire.
-if it was accidental deletion you can always try recovery programs with some success.
-print a hardcopy. This sounds nuts, being in the digital age and all. Trust me on this, a hardcopy will save you when all of the above failed. And it makes editing easier too.
Well hope this helps. And may you never have to learn the hard way how important it is to back up your work. PC's fail. We tend to forget that.
Wednesday, 22 April 2015
Unless you are a famous author like J.K Rowling or Stephen King chances are you have to abide by proper manuscript formatting, unless you want your work thrown onto the reject pile. Even the famous authors need to stick to manuscript formatting.
Proper formatting allows the editor to quickly spot mistakes and using the proper format creates a professional impression.
It is always important to follow your publisher's guidelines for submissions.
Here's the link to William Shunn's guide to proper manuscript formatting click here.
I will place the link under the right hand tab as well, under Interesting Links.
Saturday, 11 April 2015
For some reason people have the impression that authors have glamorous lives. Going on adventures and doing crazy things all in the name of their current work in progress. Sadly this is not true for most authors. Most of us are regular people with regular jobs and lives. Sometimes life gets in the way of writing. Things like moving, changing jobs, joblessness and other life stressors impact writing negatively and can lead to writer's block.
I've been there numerous times. That awful place when life and problems just gets the better of me, causing my writing to stop completely. This is where support comes in handy. I've blogged before about author groups. They really do lend the support one needs when life sucks your creativity. Also I've blogged before about alleviating writer's block. One of the important steps being that you should identify the stressor.
What I failed to mention was the importance of gaol setting. Setting a daily and attainable goal will help with the writing. Don't sat a goal of a 1000 words a day if you know you will only manage to write 500. Anything you write above this goal is a bonus and deserves a pat on the back.
The most important thing, however, is to have faith in yourself. If you believe you can achieve your gaol then you will. And remember, life does not stay sucky. It improves. Sometimes it just takes a little time and effort.
Tuesday, 24 March 2015
Talking from experience now, going at it alone as a writer is a recipe for writers block. You hit many stumble blocks as you try to develop your story. Some of these stumble blocks being plot holes, character inconsistencies and just the plain old "I-ran-out-of-ideas" dilemma.
I found that when I joined an author group I was not the only writer experiencing these problems. In fact they are pretty common. The great thing about the writing community is the support. Authors, whether they be established or just starting out, will help you to the best of their ability. You quickly learn so much more about the writing world than if you went at it alone. And the the great thing is nobody judges you. We all were newbies at a stage.
Why not learn from others' experiences?
There are some great author groups on Facebook, the links I will post below and under the 'Interesting Links' tab.
Authors Critique Group -- Facebook
Writers' Group -- Facebook
Authors and Book Lovers Discuss -- Facebook
Creative Writers' Forum -- Facebook
Thursday, 5 March 2015
Gutenberg's printing press necessitated the spread of literacy during a period when only the rich and fortunate could afford expensive texts. Roughly 500 years on and one would think illiteracy is a thing of the past, yet this is not so.
Around the world the rate of illiteracy is still startling, it is not limited to Third World countries, although illiteracy seem to be more prevalent there. My own father is not exempt. At age 73 he still struggles to read, but he tries, even though his efforts are heartbreaking...and I am ashamed to admit, annoying at times, because like so many others I take the gift of literacy for granted.
As authors, creators of content, weavers of fantasy and romance I feel we have a personal responsibility to help eradicate illiteracy. In today's world one cannot survive without the ability to read. The internet, the paper, the books we write and even our shopping requires us to be literate. There is not one activity in our normal lives that doesn't require us to read. So should we not ensure that others can go about their daily lives without having to guess by the picture on the package if the product in their hands are soap or fabric softener? Could you imagine living in a world when you are so utterly shut out and blinded?
As authors, we should do something. After all it would be to our benefit as well. Higher rates of literacy means more potential readers. Throwing money at the problem is out of the question. Money cannot solve a problem, especially when the problem so desperately requires human involvement and commitment.
I feel it is time we as authors give back. Either through our time or by providing free resources. Even if you just donate one book to a child in need, or raise awareness for a reading campaign in your area. It is the small efforts that eventually make big changes.
Let's make illiteracy a thing of the past by paying it forward.
Sunday, 1 March 2015
Below find some information from their web page.
Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine is an established market for science fiction stories. Asimov’s pays 8-10 cents per word for short stories up to 7,500 words, and 8-8.5 cents per word for longer material. (Works between 7500 and approximately 10,000 words by authors who make more than 8 cents a word for short stories will receive a flat rate that will be no less than payment would be for a shorter story.) We seldom buy stories shorter than 1,000 words or longer than 20,000 words, and we don’t serialize novels. We pay $1 a line for poetry, which should not exceed 40 lines. We buy First English Language serial rights plus certain non-exclusive rights explained in our contract. We do not publish reprints, and we do not accept “simultaneous submissions” (stories sent at the same time to a publication other than Asimov’s). Asimov’s will consider material submitted by any writer, previously published or not. We’ve bought some of our best stories from people who have never sold a story before.
In general, we’re looking for “character oriented” stories, those in which the characters, rather than the science, provide the main focus for the reader’s interest. Serious, thoughtful, yet accessible fiction will constitute the majority of our purchases, but there’s always room for the humorous as well. SF dominates the fiction published in the magazine, but we also publish borderline fantasy, slipstream, and surreal fiction. No sword & Sorcery, please. Neither are we interested in explicit sex or violence. A good overview would be to consider that all fiction is written to examine or illuminate some aspect of human existence, but that in science fiction the backdrop you work against is the size of the Universe.
Saturday, 28 February 2015
Monday, 23 February 2015
- A short (up to 1000-word) synopsis of your work
- An indication of the total word count of your manuscript
- A list of your previous publications and any other relevant information about yourself
- Attached as a Word document, your complete manuscript
Monday, 16 February 2015
Saturday, 14 February 2015
People often become stuck in a reading rut when they prefer a particular genre. I'm quite guilty of this as well, preferring epic fantasy (in the style of Tolkien) and crime novels. This reading preference leads to a problem in writing: monotony.
Let me explain: you tend to write what you read. Thus if you only read certain types of books your writing will reflect that. Your plot and characters run the risk if becoming a copy of the novels you read.
Publishers and readers don't want another version of the same tale. To avoid falling into the copy-and-paste trap it is important to read widely and to incorporate the different genre elements into your work.
Learn to drip information to the reader which is typical of the crime and mystery genres. If romance is involved have your characters grow together and utilize the emotional intensity which can be found in romance novels.
Each genre offers a valuable way of communicating information to the readers without running the risk that your novel will be another typical copy of the genre that you read. Keeping your writing fresh will engage the readers and make for a pleasant read.
Friday, 13 February 2015
Tuesday, 10 February 2015
Visit www.writersandfilmmakers.com to enter for free and pay when the competition starts (That way we are not holding your money). Approximately 500 writers and 500 filmmakers can enter - That is a MAXIMUM of 1000 entries. Imagine competing with only 500 people. TIFF and Sundance had over 15,000 entries last year.
St. Valentine's Day is celebrated on February 14 each year. It is an occasion in which lovers express their love for each other.
Writing a poem for a loved one, has always traditionally been a popular medium in which people articulate their feelings for each other.
Breaking with tradition, as we like to do, as an additional challenge to our authors, you need to show your linguistic ability by expressing the emotion of love, in a way which isn't cliche!
With that in mind, certain rules need to be adhered to:
- Poems must not use the words, "love", "rose", "stars", "ocean" or "heart".
- Poems must include the word, "Valentine".
Entry Details Here
Contests range in size and prizes offered. These prizes can be anything from cash, gift vouchers, publication or even just a custom coffee mug (sometimes it is a combination of everything). However the true value of a writing contest does not lie in the prize or publication offered. No, it lies in the fact that taking part in writing contests hone your skills.
Competition brings out our best effort. In open platforms where readers can vote and comment on a particular entry one can quickly learn the shortcomings present in your writing. One gentleman took the time to constructively point out that my lead character was too perfect. This is something that I probably would not have noticed, but by entering an open platform contest I now know what I should be careful of in future pieces.
Even though your friends and family who regularly read your work may be honest in their opinion they are biased as well. They know you and at some level would not want to discourage you or hurt your feelings. So it is difficult to find out what the true strengths and weaknesses are in your writing.
Strangers on open platform contests do not know you and therefore will write dead honest reviews over your work (that being said, a little patience is required because not everyone who reads your entry feel the need to write a review). You can gauge the success of your piece by the number of votes, reviews or views it garnered. Competition on these platforms are stiff and reading entries from other people will help you refine your writing skills and will help you to word your thoughts better.
Even though the prizes in open platform contests can be a bit tawdry, the feeling of accomplishment and pride one gets from seeing what other readers have to say about your work is a reward in itself. Plus these contests are fun to enter!
Monday, 9 February 2015
My story, Lover's Rose is doing quite well considering the stiff competition. Here's a little teaser to entice your votes...or your much appreciated critique.
A Critique of a great read
Follow the link on the right-hand side to vote for my story.
Sunday, 8 February 2015
Winter 2015 Story Contest
Saturday, 7 February 2015
THE SA WRITERS’ COLLEGE
2015 Annual Short Story Award
For Emerging Writers in South Africa
- First Prize: R 10 000.00
- Second Prize: R 5 000.00
- Third Prize: R 2 000.00
GUIDELINES FOR ENTRIES:
- Entry is limited to South African residents only.
- Entrants must submit a story of maximum word count: 2000 words. Any entries exceeding the word count by 50 words will not be considered.
- Writers can interpret and represent the theme in any way they choose. Stories that appear to be entirely unrelated to the theme will not be considered.
- We strongly recommend that writers read through the competition archives or the past winning stories to see what kind of writing appeals to us at SA Writers' College. We enjoy highly original writing that is authentic and thought-provoking.
- We aim to support and acknowledge beginner writers, so we only accept stories from writers who have been published fewer than four times in any genre, in any publication (for payment or otherwise). This does not include articles for community or work newsletters where the circulation is under 1000.
- Stories must not have been previously published. Entrants must own full copyright to the story submitted.
- Only one story per entrant is allowed.
- Only e-mail submissions are acceptable, with stories attached as Word Documents. Mark your entry clearly with the subject line: SAWC Annual Short Story Competition, and submit according to rules below.
- If you have not received an acknowledgement of your submission within three days, please re-send your entry.
- Queries and submissions must be sent to Nichola Meyer: Nichola@sawriterscollege.co.za
- Your first page of your Word document must include the story title, your name, email address and total number of words of the entry.
- Do not include your name on any page of your story, except the title page. All entries will be judged blind.
- Use a font such as Arial or Times New Roman, size 12 or more. Use 1.5 or double spacing between lines. We prefer a clear line between paragraphs rather than indenting.
- Make sure your story has been edited and polished according to tips and guidelines provided on our college site under “Writing Resources”.
View our Archived Competition Entries Here
- The competition is open to anyone living in South Africa over the age of 16.
- The competition closes at midnight on 31 March 2015. The shortlist is published on 18 April, and the winners will be announced and displayed on our website by 30 April 2015.
- Prizewinners will be notified via email as well as on our web site; please ensure you supply a valid email address with your entry.
- Prize money will be paid via electronic transfer.
- We only accept entries written in English.
- Entrant must own full copyright of the piece.
- Writers retain copyright, but give permission for their work to be displayed on our website.
- The judges' decision is final; no disputes will be entered into.
- If your entry has not been acknowledged within 72 hours, please contact us –your mail may have got lost in transit.
- SA Writers’ College reserves the right to extend the competition deadline, or cancel the competition should the entries not be of publishable quality or up to the required standard.