WRITING TIP: GETTING EXCITED ABOUT YOUR NOVEL-IN-PROGRESS AGAIN

We’ve all been there: that project that had lit such a fire in you, about 30k-words in, has become a real slog.

So how do you get it back?

A few simple tricks:

Give yourself permission to write a scene that feels juicy, but doesn’t have anything to do with the WIP as it is right now. Maybe it’s a pivotal scene that you know will take place toward the end, during the climax. Maybe it’s a scene you think is probably outside the current narrative, but that could show your MC in a new light. The idea here is to get away from just staring at the problems in your current WIP. Sometimes, the answer to what’s dragging your WIP down isn’t in the current WIP at all. You still have to discover it. So go exploring! If you write new scenes, play with character development, you can often figure a way out of the corner you’ve written yourself into.

Give yourself permission to write a different project one day a week. This one obviously works if you’re a write-every-day kind of author. The thing is, you can just get worn out looking at the same project day in and day out. Give yourself permission to play with something completely different one day a week. This could be a poem, a picture book, a chapter of a work outside your usual genre. Anything. Just take a break. You’ll often find yourself energized and ready to get back to your work the next day. (The beautiful part of this technique is, your “break project” can actually wind up being a book you publish as well!)

Find a beta reader. Or even an idea-bouncer. Sometimes, a sounding board can do wonders. Just talking through the problem might be all you need to do (here, you’re not asking someone for loads of reading time, you’re just talking through the overall story or plot points). You can find new ideas for your WIP, sure, but sometimes the most valuable part of working with another person can be getting confirmation that you’re on the right track, telling an interesting story or a story that needs to be told. Sometimes, just knowing that you’re not wasting your time can help give you fuel to really dig deep into your project.

Of these, my favorite and moist used is actually #3. We’re writers; we do a lot of solitary work. But sometimes, you just have to get out of your own head in order to move forward!

 

WHERE DO YOU DISCOVER BOOKS?

For my first post of 2019, I’m doing a bit of asking rather than telling. I want to know all about where you, as readers, discover books.

I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit lately. I remember, I was taking this night class my last semester of undergraduate school (you know,  back in the Pleistocene Era.) A Brit lit class. On the last night, as we were turning in our final papers, one of my classmates asked our prof, “So…where do you go to know about books?” She’d studied lit for four years. And she wanted to keep reading. She wanted to read good fiction. Quality fiction. But after four years of study, had no idea where to find good quality contemporary fiction. The prof didn’t really have much of an answer, either.

And it’s a question I still bump into online quite a bit: where do you find your next read? There is no single, clear answer. This seems to frustrate a lot of people.

The thing is, I think for avid readers, the hunt for the next good read really can be every bit as interesting as the next good read itself. I think the dig is fun. (It’s almost like antiquing, in a way.)

It’s funny–we’re all so focused on results, we forget the process and the search is supposed to be enjoyable, too.

I find my own books through a hundred different ways: trade reviews, online chatter, awards, direct recommendations from booksellers and fellow authors, BookBub-style newsletters, etc., etc., etc. I enjoy looking at books–the covers, the presentation, the finish on dust jackets. I like the smell of bookstores. I like talking about books. And I love hunting for my next favorite author.

I’d love to know how you hunt for your authors, too.

If you’ve got a sec, shoot me a message here. If that form doesn’t work, feel free to email me: hollyschindlerbooks (at) gmail (dot) com.

I can’t wait to chat more…

 

MG BOOK RECOMMENDATION: SORCERY FOR BEGINNERS

As we wind down ’18, I had to shoot out one last book recommendation. I know it’s a little late for Christmas orders, but this one would also be a great just-after-Christmas read for any MG enthusiasts home on break:

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This tale of a 13-year-old magician in training is absolutely spellbinding!

Grab a copy here.

 

 

 

 

 

~

I also recently joined Instagram, where I’ll be posting plenty of additional reading recommendations. I’m always on the lookout for a new read myself. I hope you’ll join me for booktalks through ’19! You can find me here.

WRITE YOUR NOVEL OUT OF ORDER

I liked the idea but swore I’d never do it: write a book out of order.

Now? I think it might be one of the best ways to draft.

It’s much simpler than it sounds, actually. It’s basically a two-step process:

  1. Write the book’s most important scenes.
  2. Write the narrative thread that connects the scenes.

That’s it. You can start with an outline, or you can start with only the roughest of ideas. Using the latter scenario, you can write random scenes, then use a version of the shrunken manuscript method to look at everything you’ve done and brainstorm that connecting narrative thread.

If you start with an outline, you can write your scenes semi-chronologically. The thing to remember is to only write only the important scenes. Don’t worry about seamlessly connecting them. That comes at the end.

I find that writing this way has several benefits:

  1. You focus on the core of the story.
  2. You don’t have to cut fat during the revision process because you haven’t written a bunch of fat.
  3. You don’t spend days creating pages (and chapters) that feel exploratory in nature, and wind up getting deleted.

The funny thing is, writing out of order sounds haphazard, but I actually find that writing the essential scenes first and then knocking out the narrative thread might actually be the most streamlined drafting process I’ve found yet!

 

QUERY LETTER FORMAT FOR NOVELS

Seems I saw this subject pop up quite a bit on social media this past fall. Right now, we’re in kind of a recognized submission dead zone. (Submissions generally stop between now and the new year. Writers spend their holidays polishing up new books and queries. I’d be remiss if I didn’t include this fun fact, though: I did sell my first novel during the holiday season, so there are certainly always exceptions to the rule.) Still, since this is generally the time of the year of pretty intense submission prep, I thought I’d tackle the subject head-on: How to squeeze all your tons of info on your novel into a single page query.

I know when you first start out it just seems completely impossible. You have SO MUCH TO SAY ABOUT YOUR BOOK.

The good news is, like everything else in life, that which seems impossible is actually not quite as complicated as you would make it out to be, first glance.

The queries I’ve written generally follow the same format:

  1. A third of the page devoted to the book itself—talking the storyline here. Think in terms of jacket copy.
  2. A third of the page devoted to the importance of the book—how it fits into the market, how you believe it fills a hole. If it’s children’s literature, how the book would be useful in a classroom, etc.
  3. A third of the page devoted to your credentials.

That’s it.

If this is your first book to query, #1 especially sounds easier than done, I’m sure. It’s always so hard to squeeze your book down to a paragraph or two. One tip is to boil the book down to ONE SENTENCE and then build the paragraph(s) up from there. You really should have a one-sentence pitch on hand, anyway, before you start approaching agents or editors. Also, my jacket copy has frequently been pulled from my initial queries, so I can’t stress how really important #1 is.

Don’t be too literal about the division into thirds. Of course each project is different. Each author is different, too—if you don’t have much of a publishing history, that’s fine. Everyone has to start somewhere. But if you don’t have it, you don’t need to dwell on it. Focus on the project instead. Your understanding of where your book fits into and stands out from an already crowded marketplace will be more valuable to a potential publishing house than your background, anyway. (Trust me on that one—I had a master’s in English, teaching experience, and previous publications, and they didn’t help me get in the door any faster. It was all about the project at hand.)

So there you have it: an easy, three-part query letter. Best of luck getting your submissions in order for ’19!

FOLK ART – RUSTIC DEER

I see fantastic–truly, fantastic–pieces of folk art all the time, courtesy of classrooms that have recently read THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY.

I wanted to share a little piece of my own folk art. Well, mine and my brother’s, anyway. A deer made out of fallen limbs from the backyard:

…Just in time for the real deer to come trotting down our street! (We see them every fall.)

It didn’t require the use of a welding torch, but I like to think Auggie and Gus would like this little yard sculpture.

SIGNED EDITIONS

For those of you who start holiday shopping early (like I do), I wanted to let you all know I’ve got signed editions of several of my books available at my Etsy store.

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What have I got in the store, exactly, you wonder?

Children’s Books

Alexander and the Amazing Wide-Awake, How Big Is a Heart?, and Nobody Sang Like Katy Did.

Invent Your Own Superhero and The Adventures of Super Susan come together, as a two-book mini-bundle.

Adult Books

Forever Finley and Miles Left Yet

Poetry

Tangles

Holiday Books

Come December, Christmas at Ruby’s, and I Remember You

Head on over to Etsy to snag a copy. Just let me know in the seller’s note when you purchase who you’d like the book made out to. If you have any questions, you can always contact me via Etsy or hollyschindlerbooks (at) gmail (dot) com.