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talithakalago
12 April 2012 @ 12:56 pm
Hi everyone!

Hopefully some of you still remember me.

I have a new blog these days and for a few weeks I will be posting links to it here to encourage you to move on over and follow it.

The first exciting new post is here:
http://traditionalevolution.blogspot.com.au/2012/04/making-most-of-critique-groups.html


Here's a taster:

Stop wasting everyone's time:

If you do not edit to the best of your ability before sharing, you are wasting everyone's time.

When someone gives feedback, they are going to focus on the errors that are most obvious to them and work down their mental list until they run out of things to say and/or they run out of time. Most of the time, that will mean you only hear about the top two or three problems from readers.

That does not mean those are the only problems there are, just that they are the biggest.

 
 
Current Mood: cheerfulcheerful
 
 
talithakalago
06 February 2011 @ 12:53 pm

Sorry about the second week of absence.

 

For those of you who don’t know, Far North Queensland (where I live) was hit by a category 5 cyclone on the 3rd of February. Myself, my family, my pets and the house are okay (the yard, no so much) however some of my friends have lost their homes and we were without power here for a few days.

 

I hope to be posting again next Friday. I hope you are all well and writing!


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Current Mood: exhaustedexhausted
 
 
talithakalago
29 January 2011 @ 11:32 am

I’m preparing for two cyclones back to back AND tomorrow I’m flying to Brisbane for two days for my cousin’s funeral—so there will be no post this week.

 

Depending on the progress of the cyclones, I may be without internet/power for a few days, or even a week or longer. Please keep that in mind if you are trying to contact me.


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Current Mood: busybusy
 
 
talithakalago
21 January 2011 @ 11:32 am

UPDATES:

 

Tomorrow I should finish the first draft of Lifesphere book 2! I thought I would have it done LOOOONG before now, but now the end is here I can’t believe it’s done. It felt like the novel that never ended for a few weeks there.

 

Once it’s finished, I’ll be taking a week off. I’ll probably still do a few hundred words a day on some project or another—but it won’t be Lifesphere. Then I’ll get back into editing. I’ll be taking a break from a lot of other things in that week too—so expect me to be a little absent.

 

I’m getting anxious about the fact I haven’t heard from Sarah, my agent, yet. I’m tempted to email her, as I haven’t heard from her since before Christmas. However at the same time, I don’t want to be clingy and annoying.

 

 

WRITING TIP OF THE WEEK:

 

- Know your genre.

 

Genres change.  Romance is still mostly about love and horror is still mostly about people being terrified or killed, however most genres have evolved considerably since their conception. Even in recent years, some genres have boomed, evolved mutated and developed in vastly unexpected ways.

 

Many genres have grown up and become sophisticated—that’s not to say there weren’t great books in the past. However a lot of those great books might not pass the bar today—they’d be considered too cliché, to slow and too unimaginative.

 

I think this is due, in part, to computers and the internet allowing publishers and the rest of the world to really see what is selling and where the money is going. The best selling genre in the world is romance—and it has been for a very long time. However now everyone is being forced to admit this and can’t claim the intellectually ‘superior’ books are also financial superior, everyone is starting to take these previously dismissed genres seriously.

 

Too often, writers tell me they write ‘X’ genre, but don’t read it because they’re all the same. If it’s fantasy, they say they’re all about dragons, wizards, elves and princesses. Maybe they are, I mean, assuming we’ve been sucked back to the 80s and we can’t get home.

 

Another problem I see is people writing manuscripts that follow a plot that has been done to death. Vampires, for example. I’d like to say all supernatural romance/detectives/evil hunters, however I’m not a fan of the genre and there is PROBABLY some way you could still write an original novel in this genre. Just not vampires. Seriously. I don’t read them and I still know most of the plots unpublished writers are working on are pretty much exact copies of what is already out there.

 

Know your genre. Know what came out this year in your genre. Know what is coming out next year in your genre. And know what came out last year. Be familiar with the competition—and what is and isn’t expected of you.

 

I’m not saying not to write something if you’re passionate about it, but do know what it’s up against and what you need to do to rise it above the competition.

 

 

QUESTION OF THE WEEK:

 

- What genres do you write?

 

Tell me in the comments.

 

 

For more writing tips, please check my tutorial’s page.


 
 
Current Mood: workingworking
 
 
talithakalago
14 January 2011 @ 10:08 am

UPDATES:

 

At this stage, I’m going to assume most of you know Queensland is flooded. The area of flooding is larger than France and Germany combined—dozens are dead and the number of homes inundated with water is over 25, 000—last time I checked. There is more flooding in other states as well—and bushfires claiming homes on the other side of the country.

 

Where I am, in Cairns, we have no flooding. We are, however, completely cut off from the rest of the country. In fact, most coastal places north of Brisbane are not getting basic supplies and in Cairns there have been shortages of things like bread since Christmas. I am fine—we have supplies and we are in no danger of being flooded.

 

My 26th birthday was on the 12th. It was a lovely day, despite obsessive checking of the news and flood updates. I was secretly hoping I would get word from my agent, Sarah Twombly, on my birthday about publishers—but I still haven’t heard anything. The waiting causes physical pain, people.

 

 

WRITING TIP OF THE WEEK:

 

- Beware of what you put online.

 

Writers often want feedback on their writing and the internet is a fantastic resource for this. It’s also a place where people can share opinions, express themselves and explore new elements with relative safety. However once something is on the internet, it’s pretty much forever.

 

Some people, when seeking feedback, will post their entire novel online—on their journal or some other website, only to find copies of that early draft still cropping up years after they thought they deleted it. I have had writers tell me something became impossible to sell because it had already been seen online by every man and his dog, and there are often rumours of manuscripts being stolen and plagiarized after becoming available online.

 

These are not the only problems a writer can run into online. Having a webpage or blog that is dedicated to some alternative cultures may scare a publisher away. It’s not wise to advertise your swingers club if you want to write children’s books, for example. And just like recent problems with employees/employers and controversial facebook photos, drunken puke shots can hurt your reputation. As can rants, tirades and heat-of-the-moment retaliation to bad reviews or trolls.

 

How we chose to conduct ourselves online is personal and our own business—but much of the time it is still a public place and my personal guidelines are as follows:

 

1. If someone hurts my feelings or makes me mad, I wait at least two hours before responding. Preferably 24. Likewise, even minor updates are sat on for two hours, just so I can make sure those ‘hilarious’ jokes are still funny after the moment has passed.

 

2. I never post a full work online. Even when I am emailing people work for feedback—there is only one person in my life who gets full novels. My rule of thumb is no more than 10% in public and no more than 50% to friends or critiquers. This would probably be impossible with short stories, but I don’t write short stories.

 

 

QUESTION OF THE WEEK:

 

- What was the best book you read in 2010?

 

Tell me in the comments.

 

 

For more writing tips, please check my tutorial’s page.


 
 
Current Mood: sleepysleepy
 
 
 
talithakalago
07 January 2011 @ 10:08 am

UPDATES:

 

So far this year my own New Year’s Resolutions are going well. Weight is being lost, money is being saved and novels are being written. This year I want to get a car and I should have enough saved to buy a brand new Suzuki Alto on the 20th of April.

 

I plan on fully finishing/editing two novels this year: Lifesphere: Case file 2 and The Hungry People. I still have a few thousand words of the first draft of Lifesphere: Case file 2 to go—I’m hoping editing will be reasonably quick. I’ll be doing three rounds of editing before it goes to my agent because the first draft is such a mess. The Hungry People is edited up to chapter 9. I have to do the remaining 11(?) and then polish. Depending on when I have to have Lifesphere: Case file 3 ready, I could be done with those by July.

 

Still no news from the publishers—though realistically this is the very earliest I could have expected to hear from them. Last night I had a nightmare about it. It involved small presses, tiny advances and brutal reviews... yeah. Writer nightmares. Grin.

 

 

WRITING TIP OF THE WEEK:

 

- What is Conflict?

 

Writers will often read or hear advice like: ‘Write conflict into every page’ or ‘every chapter needs to be centred on a conflict’. Lately, I’ve come across a few people who misunderstand ‘conflict’ to mean ‘confrontation’ and end up trying to write an argument into every scene.

 

I find this faintly baffling. We’ve all seen TV, read books and watched movies. We know not every scene has an argument in it, so why would you think that was what was meant? And if you did think it was what was mean, why on earth would you take such advice seriously?

 

Conflict, according to my dictionary is:

1. A battle or struggle.

2. The opposition of two forces or things.

3. To be or come into opposition.

 

The first point is probably the most obvious one, and where the argument idea stems from. However the second one is probably more relevant to writers. A conflict could be a group of scientists trying to escape an island filled with rampaging dinosaurs (Jurassic park) or two lovers being kept apart by a jealous husband on a big boat (Titanic). If your character is caught in a blizzard, he and the blizzards are in opposition, him wanting to survive and the blizzard being, well, cold.

 

Now you have some idea what a conflict is, let me say: Yes, I believe every scene needs a central conflict. It doesn’t have to be a dinosaur or a blizzard, but without a conflict, not much is happening.

 

Keep an eye out for a longer version of this writing tip on my tutorials page in my upcoming tutorial on conflict and stakes.

 

 

QUESTION OF THE WEEK:

 

- What area of your writing do you feel needs the most work? (Conflict/Characterisation/Dialogue/Description/Etc?)

 

Tell me in the comments.

 

 

For more writing tips, please check my tutorial’s page.


 
 
Current Mood: satisfiedsatisfied
 
 
talithakalago
31 December 2010 @ 12:45 pm

UPDATES:

 

Yes, I missed my Christmas post. I’m slack. However tonight is New Year’s Eve! I have a few resolutions for next year, including getting a new car, finishing the second draft of Lifesphere Inc 2 and organising a finally draft of The Hungry People.

 

The first time I heard back from a publisher (TOR) was a few minutes before midnight on New Years a few years back. I don’t think I ever really liked New Years before then.

 

I’m guessing a lot of you are going to have writing based resolutions this year and I want to hear all about them!

 

 

WRITING TIP OF THE WEEK:

 

- Never get the same feedback twice.

 

When you get good feedback regarding a grammatical error or a weakness in your writing, it typically applies to all other simular instances. For example, if a reader says you need to capitalise a name, they shouldn’t have to point it out every time you use that name. Likewise, if someone points out that an info dump is boring or the description lacks sizzle—unless they say it’s only in that scene, you can assume all your description needs work and you should remove as many info dumps as possible.

 

When I get feedback from my agent, she’ll highlight an instance of something she wants changed—explain why she wants it changed and politely informs me she’s certain I can find and fix the rest on my own. Which I do.

 

In stark contrast, when I am giving friends feedback on their writing—I’ll address a number of issues in one chapter, only to have them hand me the next chapter two weeks later with the SAME ERRORS.

 

Now, I’m not saying there aren’t editors and agents in the world who won’t hold your hand and point out the same mistakes to you over and over. However it’s just about the most lazy and unproductive approach I’ve ever heard of. Aren’t we all striving to be better writers? Do any of us really think we’ve peaked and further improvement is unnecessary?

 

Well, fixing those things you KNOW should be fixed is part of being a better writer. Remember the feedback you receive and apply it to future writing. Conscious editing is good editing.

 

 

 

QUESTION OF THE WEEK:

 

- What is your New Year’s Resolutions for 2011?

 

Tell me in the comments.

 

 

For more writing tips, please check my tutorial’s page.


 
 
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
 
 
talithakalago
18 December 2010 @ 07:21 am

UPDATES:

 

Sorry I missed posting last week. I was recovering from a day in hospital and totally forgot. No news from the publishers yet. As I said, I’m not expecting to hear anything until the new year.

 

 

WRITING TIP OF THE WEEK:

 

- Enjoy Writing.

 

You can’t be a professional writer if you don’t enjoy writing. Well, you CAN, but you’ll be really miserable all the time.

 

People often tell me they know they should write, but it’s so hard and frustrating and stressful. Firstly, you shouldn’t write. No one is obliged to write fiction for self gratification. Writing does not make you a better, smarter, more successful person. Secondly, if you don’t enjoy it—if it’s a negative experience for you--don’t do it. Do something you like. No one will mind, really.

 

The internet is nice, because it means a lot of authors can connect with their fans—if they want to—and actually have some interaction with people beyond the domestic. However, while a few may go to conventions or book launches once or twice a year, every other day of the year they’re writing 2000 words a day, at a desk, probably somewhere in their own house.

 

Those 2000 words are going to seem like a lot more of you’re sitting there, hating every mind numbing moment you’re in front of the computer, simply longing for the end product.

 

Me? I love writing. If I get 1k on my novel, I tend to also get about 2k on other, non WIP related projects. That’s my relaxation after working hard on the things that matter. If there is a day where I don’t write, I am stressed and miserable. For me, there is nothing better than being in the zone, tapping away, with nothing but the whirr of the ceiling fan and my fingers clattering on the keys.

 

If I just described your hell, you need to start looking for a new hobby.

 

 

QUESTION OF THE WEEK:

 

- What book are you most looking forward to in 2011/2012?

 

Tell me in the comments.

 

 

For more writing tips, please check my tutorial’s page.


 
 
Current Mood: cheerfulcheerful
 
 
talithakalago
04 December 2010 @ 10:09 am

UPDATES:

 

My agent, Sarah, emailed me this morning to tell me the editor’s she has approached are very excited about the project and now have the novel and info/synopsis package in their hot little hands. Sarah said we may have to wait until the new years to hear back from them. I wonder if I’ll get good birthday news? That would be a bit of a fairy tale ending—or beginning, depending on how you want to look at it.

 

Either way, it’s most likely I’m going to spend my birthday writing. :P

 

 

WRITING TIP OF THE WEEK:

 

- I am a writer – believing what you say.

 

The human brain is designed to respond to things in a very specific way. They we respond to things are usually hardwired in a manner that allows us to quickly navigate our environment and survive. For example, if we have not eaten in a few hours and we see a very nice picture of our favourite food, it’s likely we will suddenly feel hungry, even if we weren’t thinking about food a moment ago. As recently as thirty or forty years ago, even in western societies, food was not readily abundant—so if good food was on offer, it was sensible to eat, even if we weren’t really hungry.

 

Obviously this hardwiring in our brain is doing us no favours now with the obesity epidemic—however our brain is littered with millions of these hardwired reactions and when we understand how they work we can use them to our advantage.

 

We are also hardwired to believe things people say—to a certain degree. If someone says: “Don’t follow the eastern path, it’s dangerous.” We would reconsider following the eastern path—or at least, be careful when doing so. If five people told us the eastern path was dangerous, we’d be even less likely to do use it. If everyone we knew told us the eastern path was dangerous, we probably wouldn’t go there. Have you ever stuck your hand in liquid nitrogen? I’d assume not, if you still have two hands. We can say, scientifically, sticking your hand in liquid nitrogen is bad. We believe this, because we have been told and possibly seen evidence—even though it could, technically, be a huge complicated lie.

 

If you hear things enough, your natural inclination is to believe them. It’s wise to fight this inclination in many cases, but you can also use it to literally change your own behaviour through repetition.

 

Put up a sign (or several) where you will see it every day. Have it say something positive and general. Mine says: “I am a writer.”

 

Don’t be too specific. Don’t say: “I write 1000 words a day.” Or “I will be published this year.” If this doesn’t come true, it will cause serious discordance.

 

However you could say: “I am a brilliant writer.” Or “I enjoy writing every day.”

 

You could also put up a sign that says: “I am beautiful.”, “I love my wife.” or “I make healthy choices.”

 

All of these things will slowly be imprinted into your brain as ‘true facts’ through repetition. This is exactly how advertising works, by the way.

 

 

QUESTION OF THE WEEK:

 

- On average, how many words do you write in a week?

 

Tell me in the comments.

 

 

For more writing tips, please check my tutorial’s page.


 
 
Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful
 
 
talithakalago
26 November 2010 @ 11:00 am

UPDATES:

 

I’ve been finding the pressure of having an agent detrimental to my writing process lately. Whenever I sit down to write for the day, I feel like she is watching over my shoulder and I imagine what feedback she will give on different sections of the writing as I’m writing it.

 

I am literally trying to second guess what she will say BEFORE I write the book. Which is silly and unproductive and leaves me feeling frustrated and drained. Also, my agent is lovely and would never presume to judge a first draft—she sees my third drafts.

 

Writing is all about being able to turn on, and off, the voices in your head. Now, where is that off switch again?

 

 

WRITING TIP OF THE WEEK:

 

- Give writing feedback to others.

 

Getting feedback is a great way to see the flaws in your writing you were blind to before. However GIVING feedback is an even better way of seeing them!

 

Of course, in order for your feedback to help you—and the person you’re giving it to—you need to identify what is good, helpful feedback and what is detrimental. Good feedback identifies the problem, and it does so in a tone that is honest, practical and understanding. There is no point saying a scene or character is ‘bad’ without identifying WHY.

 

The next important step is identifying a solution to the problem. Sometimes, it’s really difficult to identify how to fix a problem—and often the fixes are matters of opinion. EG: if a character is very boring and unlikeable, one solution might be to make him nicer. However, the writer may decide to make him meaner and more charming, with much greater success.

 

The reason giving feedback is more important that receiving it is that it is hard to objectively analyse your own work. However when you are looking at the work of someone else, you can see the flaws you would be blind to in your own writing. Being able to identify flaws in the writing of others is a great step to being able to identify it in your own work—and avoid the same mistake in the future.

 

 

QUESTION OF THE WEEK:

 

- How many books do you read in a year?

 

Tell me in the comments.

 

 

For more writing tips, please check my tutorial’s page.


 
 
Current Mood: contentcontent