Tuesday, October 18, 2011

New Home for The Lit Coach's Guide to The Writer's Life

Hello, all!

It's official. The Lit Coach's Guide to The Writer's Life has moved to WordPress and is now a part of my new website.

Thank you to all my subscribers here on blogger and those who catch my feeds. If you signed up to receive The Lit Coach's Guide via email, you should still be getting my posts (we've had a few glitches, but they seem to be fixed). If you haven't signed up, please do! I may have a new home, but I'll continue to bring you great content by authors, agents, editors and other industry professionals I respect...plus my Lit Coach lessons and perspective on what's new in the world of writing and publishing.

And big thanks to all of you who have commented publicly and privately on my blog. Your feedback lets my contributors and I know that you appreciate the content and that we should continue to bring you more. In a time when writers put out so much free material just to be heard and make new friends, this is no small thing.

See you at the new site!

Signing off-


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Q&A, DNA and A List

I knew this day would come...the day that I would move EVERYTHING over to one clean WordPress spot (my website and my blog). But it hasn't come without it's challenges (trying to reroute my feedburner to the new blog so you all still receive The Lit Coach's Guide in your inbox). I'm a little sad - I started out here on blogspot and it's super easy to work with and yet....WordPress is so cool! So bear with me, I'm double posting until I can figure out where the problem lies (if you know, please, feel free to share a solution). 
So here's yesterday's post!
Happy Wednesday, dear writers!

I have updates.

First, I’ve moved my Q&A with The Lit Coach column to LitReactor, a new online literary website, magazine and writers’ workshop – it’s a fabulous community and I’m really enjoying the wide swath of writers the site has attracted. The column is updated twice monthly. In this issue’s Q&A I de-mystified the querying process for those who are approaching agents with a book series and directed another writer toward building his writing portfolio rather than approach an agent too soon with his work. Check out the Q&A here. And while you’re there, take a look at some of the great articles! I particularly loved,Submit Yourself: A Submissions Calendar is a Smart Idea, by Hanna Brooks Olsen; and Jon Gingerich’s latest craft article, Which P.O.V. is Right for Your Story is good too.
Second, I’m teaching a class for LitReactor – Character DNA: The Invention, Discovery and Birth of Stronger Characters (LitReactor members now receive 20% off the class if they sign up by Friday the 14th). I developed this 4 week course for LitReactor based on the character development one-one-one workshops I take my private clients through when they come to me with stalled manuscripts or finished manuscripts agents aren’t quite connecting with. The problem? Lack of clarity and development with the main character is always the main culprit. So in this four week course, I will invite my students to pluck their main characters out of their manuscripts, pin them to a cork board and start cataloging what makes that character unique – in broad strokes at first, but as we dig into the course, we’ll examine:
  • Your character’s desires and motivations
  • The main obstacle(s) that stand in the way of your character getting what they want
  • What’s at stake if your character doesn’t get what they want and what happens when they do
  • How these elements lead your characters toward their climax and resolution

And it’s quite a deal, too! The 4 week intensive workshop is $295.00 (plus 20% off if you sign up by Friday the 14th). I’ll be there asking you questions and giving you individualized feedback the whole way. Come join me. Register here.
Third, I’m honored to be listed on Robert Lee Brewer’s (from Writer’s Digest2011 Best Tweeps for Writers to Follow list. I share the space with some wonderful industry pros and writers I respect including lit agent Rachelle Gardner, former agent and author, Nathan Bransford and publishing world maven, Jane Friedman. Thanks, Robert!
And that’s all for the updates, writers.
Wishing you good words and enough time-

Monday, October 10, 2011

Clarity in This Writer's Life: A Blogshop with Margo Candela

Clarity doesn't necessarily bring ease. Sometimes knowing exactly what path to take and actually taking it bring fear, anxiety and many challenges - but in the end it was all worth it. 

Notable Los Angeles author Margo Candela shares when it became clear her next steps in publishing would lead her down a path she'd never taken and how she made the best choices for her book along the way.

Very rarely has clarity hit me all at once except when it does. Sometimes it’s good. Like, while in the middle of shampooing my hair, I’ll figure out how to untangle a plot point or the perfect name for a character will come to me. Sometimes the obvious is a lot harder to accept even though I’ve had lots of time to accept it as inevitable. 

Earlier this year, my editor told me I’d have more success if I self-published my fifth novel, The Brenda Diaries. We’d had many conversations lamenting how traditional publishing was changing directly under our butts. While neither of us was willing to predict what state publishing would be a year from then, it was clear that I had reached that much talked about fork in the road.

After a couple of days of moping, I came to the conclusion that I had no choice but to pick a fork. I decided to take my editor’s advice and go it alone knowing full well that not only would I have to do the writing, but I’d have to see a manuscript through every step of the way—from initial idea to loading html code at midnight on publishing day.

Funny enough, almost instantly, I felt like as if a weight had been lifted off of me. It was like one of those overdue break-ups where the long, slow trek to it is actually worse than life afterwards because you realized that while you’re fully broken-up, you’re not broken.

I also realized that I needed help to make anything happen. Ideas are great, everyone has them, but turning an idea into a book is a whole other enchilada. As someone who hates asking for favors, this was the hardest part. But it was clear to me that if I didn’t ask for help, I was going to fail. The fear of failure forced me to get over my reluctance and showed me how very lucky I am. 

My dear friend Ruby saved my grammatically challenged butt by serving not only as my copy editor but general sounding board. Rocio, my talented graphic designer, didn’t fire me as a client after it took almost a dozen tries to get the cover right. Thousands of strangers also played a part, following Brenda (@BrendaDiaries) on Twitter, and cheering her on through bad temp jobs and breakups. 

I’m not sure what’s going to happen, but one thing is perfectly clear to me now—I’m certainly not in this alone.  

About the Contributor

Margo Candela is the author of Good-bye To All That (Touchstone, July '10), More Than This (Touchstone, Aug '08), Life Over Easy (Kensington, Oct '07) and Underneath It All (Kensington, Jan '07).  More Than This was a Target stores Breakout Book and an American Association of Publishers national book club selection. Good-bye To All That (Touchstone, July '10) was the only novel picked by Los Angeles Magazine for its 2010 Best of L.A. list. Her latest, The Brenda Diaries (SugarMissile, Oct. '11), is the first in a series.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Clarity of Vision

Between revamping my website, moving my blog over to WordPress (pardon the scaffolding, folks, it’s a work in progress), being at the ready for the launch of LitReactor, where I’m now a columnist and instructor, and taking on some new writers, I needed a moment to really reflect on this month’s focus – Clarity.
Then yesterday the brilliant creator and visionary behind Apple and Pixar, Steve Jobs died. Of course I found out via Twitter and of course I had to open a few links that would deliver his words of wisdom and brilliance about the virtues of being a fearless creative pioneer. I’m glad I did, although I’m saddened it took his passing to lead me toward his direction.
In his Stanford Commencement Address, Jobs inspires the graduates (and the millions who view the You Tube video) to have faith in their actions, whether right or wrong, they lead you toward your future.  And by actions, he means doing something you are passionate about, something you love – inspired action. You’ll have successes, you’ll have failures, and you’ll do things that seem benign – like taking a course in Calligraphy. All these things we do lead us to the next thing and the next until one day we see a trail of connected dots behind us, like bread crumbs. While it’s not clear to us at the time we’re leaving this trail, one day we’ll look back and say, “Oh yeah. I see, now.”
The key, writers, is to not simply trod mechanically from one thing to the next but to fully engage your passion for whatever it is – in this context, writing – into your daily life. Do what you love and have faith that it will be fruitful for you down the road, but be wise. Surround yourself with the right people who will cheer you on and help fortify your gift. Use the tools that are out there to help you better your craft, but most of all, listen to your gut – it will always direct you toward the right path in the end.
This all sounds terribly romantic, but it’s not, really; it’s good old common sense. When your head is clear about what you want, when your heart is set to follow that course, there’s no stopping you.
That’s clarity.