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It’s been a busy summer, but I’m not complaining. The Hermit Thrush haven’t scooted south yet, the sun still warms my skin. Maybe I wish I had a little more time, but who doesn’t?

I’ve been hard at work on final edits on my YA fantasy “Fairless.”  I participated on a Twitter pitch fest a few weeks ago and now I have an editor over at Entangled Publishing waiting to read it. Yay, me!

If you have a finished story, whether it’s YA, MG or Adult in any genre ready to pitch, you really need to head over to brenda-drake.com. She’s hosting a Pitch Wars. Here’s the deets:

“What is Pitch Wars? Is it another contest? Oh, no, it’s so much better. Pitch Wars is a contest where published/agented authors, editors, or industry interns choose one writer each, read their entire manuscript, and offer suggestions to shine it up for agents. The mentors also critique the writer’s pitch to get it ready for the agent round. Writers send applications (query and first chapter of manuscript) to the four mentors that best fit their work. The mentors then read all their applications and choose the writer they want to mentor for the next two months. Then we hold an agent round with over a dozen agents making requests.”

Pretty cool, right? And once the Pitch Wars are done, they have an agent round to be held November 3-4 where you can pitch that polished, dandy manuscript to an agent/editor and maybe, hopefully, find publication! Yay, us!

In the meantime, I’m also working on shifting blogs from wordpress to my author site at  www.suebahr.com.  Time to make more time.  It looks like this site, but to “follow” my blog and receive my posts, you need to enter your email and subscribe.

I hope you are all enjoying these wonderful days of Summer. I hope you are smiling, reading, swimming, writing and loving on your families.

I wish you all the best!

Sue

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An open letter from a reader to an author…

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Dear author,

Books are words in motion. Stories vividly told take me to worlds unknown. They let me fall in love, make me hate, sweep my emotions to the highest heights or darkest places.

I read to lose myself. To shove my daily worries aside so I can breathe again. No more family worries. No more teenager stress or financial woes. For the time that book is cracked open and sometimes long after it’s closed, I’m free.

Each story is unique. Each one has potential. I root for every book I endeavor to read.

Nothing disappoints me more than a story that doesn’t reach that potential. Sometimes I press ahead, determined to discover the golden nuggets buried within. I act as an invisible editor, sweeping all those “murmured, mumbles” confusing POV shifts away so I can continue. So I can finish what I’ve begun.

Sad when a story suddenly deflates, leaving me with no choice but to close the book for good. Tragic when a decent editor could’ve helped that author keep that story on track.

So, as a reader, I beg you… move mountains for me. Cast characters that my heart absorbs right off the page. Give me imagery so compelling it lingers long after I’m done. But please, please don’t bore me.

I promise I’m on your side.

love,

A reader

A Plot for Panster-Sue…

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If you’ve been around writing long enough, you know all about the labels of plotters and pansters. Some of you proudly embrace your title. Others refuse to be categorized as either. Some lucky ones have figured out how to be both!

Perhaps you’re all about plotting. You have the major turning points laid out, the chapters titled and organized for maximum impact. You’ve completed character wheels for every character, including the baddie…

control-427512_640Look at that outline, all neat ‘n tidy. If I sound snarky, it’s just because I’m jealous…

 

Or maybe you’ve accepted that will never be your style. You have to write organically. You need to write the story to know the story. Your characters have to show you the way, so you jump without a parachute…

 

 

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Okay, so I couldn’t find someone jumping without a parachute. Probably a good thing, anyway…

It’s a no-brainer where I fall. Yup, my brain lives in pantserville.

I’ve fought the pull of plotters. I’ve lived in mad envy of a well-oiled story. I’ve beat myself up for failing to plot one too many times.

So last week while on Sabbatical, I dove into my failed NaNo novel, Drift. I’d finished the first quarter of the book, right up to the first turning point, but was stalled on the mid-section of the book. I have tried everything to plot this story…

1. I outlined.

a. I figured out the major turning points or disasters.

b. I wrote them down.

c. I didn’t know what came next.

2. I created a Excell spreadsheet listing every chapter with summary.

a. Well, every chapter up to the first turning point. Then I got lost because…

b. I didn’t know what came next.

3.  I gave up and pretended not to worry about plot structure at all, believing it will all work out in the end.

a. I wrote some stuff.

b. I still didn’t know what came next.

4. I heaved a BIG SIGH

I’m not sure if it was the Sabbatical (which entailed a break from my computer for writing as well as for social media) or if I stumbled on an unused part of my brain, but for some reason, I finally figured out how to plot!

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yeah, me!

Now, to get back to the subject at hand (pun intended). As I said, I was stalled. I knew the major turning points, but what to do with all that stuff that goes in between?! Since I was going old-school, I took a piece of paper, wrote the turning point scene at the top and left it blank. Then it hit me – I knew what should come right before and right after that point. Out came more paper – each noted with basic information on top and left blank.

I continued this way until a full scene materialized. So, seeing as I already had a blank piece of paper and pen in hand, I wrote that scene. This led to the next and the next, and well, within the span of an hour or so, I had the middle and end of Drift plotted.

I’m not sure why this worked for me and why I couldn’t simply draft an outline like most able-bodied writers can. Something about physically seeing the chapters as separate pieces of paper clicked. And, as a side benefit – I was able to insert transitional chapters or move some around…

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Just think. All this goodness happened without staring at a computer screen. Lucky me!

And so, for those of you who roll up your pants and wade in, only to find yourself stuck mid-way through, I encourage you to give the Sue-thingy (that’s a real term – you can Google it) a go. You never know. Might work for you, too.

I wish you all the best!

Sue

 

 

 

 

a simple challenge from Sue…

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I’m back, refreshed from my computer/social media break. For six whole days, I relied on my cell phone only to check emails and read blog posts. For six days, I wasn’t glued to the one-eyed monster. I have to admit, I missed some things… others, not so much.

This quality Sue-break gave me some perspective. There’s a ton of pressure on authors, both to write and build a platform that requires extensive computer time! Argh! (right?!).

Just how do you find time to work on your novel when you haven’t posted and you need to update your Facebook page and Twitter and Instagram

Sigh.

We authors aren’t machines. We’re creative souls and creativity needs nurturing to thrive. And so, I challenge you to do as I did last week. Take a sabbatical. Take a break from social media and recharge. Perhaps you’ll find inspiration or work out that stubborn plot twist (like I did). Perhaps you’ll discover the simple joy of jotting notes on a piece of paper (again like I did.)

For sure you’ll gain perspective on how many hours you spend on a computer… and how important it is to unplug and recharge that precious creative spirit.

Wishing you all the best of weeks!

Sue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 things to do before you edit that first draft…

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So, you’ve finally completed that first draft of  your novel. Congratulations! It’s an accomplishment, no matter how long it took to get there. Now that you’ve finished, you may be asking, What’s next?

Is your heart thumping wildly in your chest as you force yourself to sit down, a proverbial red pen in hand, starting at word one, page one? Do you tweak with sentence structure or word choice? And how do you tackle thousands of words when you’re not sure if they all add up to a plot?

Here are five things to do before you even begin the editing process.

1) Let it sit. Let it be. Resist the urge to open that document and peruse it’s greatness, or it’s lameness and give your brain a much-needed break. This is a great time to conjure up your next story, maybe make notes and write character descriptions. Or, if you’re like me, and you have numerous books all in different states of creation, you tackle one of those.

2) While your story rests, invest into some good books on editing. And I’m not talking line-editing, but BIG picture editing. Books like A Story is a Promise by Bill Johnson, and Writing the Heart of Your Story by C.S. Lakin. Read them. Study them. Soak in them in and learn how to look at your writing from the MACRO to the MICRO.

3) Read. Read novels in your genre. Find ones similar to what you write and study the pacing, the voice, the phrasing each author uses. Did you draft your book in third person, past tense and maybe you fall in love with first person, present tense? Maybe it would be great to change things up? You can make this big picture decision before you even edit a word.

4) Read. Read novels way outside your genre. Test yourself- how much diversity can you take? You may be surprised how much inspiration you’ll discover by thinking outside the box. And who knows, it may inspire your next best-seller!

5) Now that time has passed–at least a few weeks, if not a month, print your book. Use all that hard-gained knowledge from those how-to books, note changes directly on the page. We read the printed word differently than ones that appear on the screen.  It’s amazing how many mistakes I’ve discovered when reading my novel on a printed page!

I hope these suggestions help. Got some great ideas that work for you? Care to share? We’re all in this together…

Happy editing!

Sue

Five reasons why a wordpress blog is not an author’s website

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Ask a busy agent for a quick tip and you’ll probably hear- Get active on social media! Create an author’s website! Build a platform and start immediately- don’t wait to be published! 

I follow authors on WordPress doing just that. And, for the most part, they are heading in the right direction. Blogging is an awesome way to connect and develop lasting relationships. It’s a wonderful way to share your writing and support other authors.

But it’s not an author’s website and here are five reasons why:

1) WordPress.com is a free blogging site that allows you to connect with just about anyone, but it doesn’t allow you to commercially promote your work. Sure, authors can write posts about upcoming launches. You can post and people can sign up to follow your blog, but you can not create an email list.  Which leads me to number 2.

2) A self-hosted website like WordPress.org or Weebly, allows authors to have a “call to action” form to create an email list. What is that you say? Ever visited a site that asks you to enter your email to receive a free newsletter or sample chapter or a notice of a book launch? That’s a self-hosted site. Try that move on WordPress.com and your blog will be shut down. So why is that list important?

3) Every visitor is a potential fan, a reader, a lover of your book. Call them what you want, I call them precious! So give them an option to enter their email so you can stay in touch as your writing career advances. Then, when you finally have a book to sell, you have readers ready to buy it.

4) Blogging is not enough. You need a site that represents you as an author. It needs great content and the design should match your style of writing. Ever hear of branding? Choosing colors, type fonts, making choices that readers can clearly identify as you?  I recently spent a day on WordPress.com browsing themes and found it a day of sheer frustration! The themes are all the same unless you want to fork over money and upgrade, which I broke down and did, just to be able to change the colors and type! Launch a self-hosted site and your options expand without additional cost.

5) Thinking of buying your domain name? Something like suebahr.com? (you did know this was coming, right?) Why not use it on your author’s website, that way you truly own the content? There are endless options for self-hosting which I’ll explore at a later date. For now, you can see what the starter package on Weebly.com offers if you visit my brand new author site.

I wish you all happy building!

Sue

a dozen tiny questions…

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Are you free today? Are you bursting with creativity, eager to put pen to paper? Do you have words ready to burst forth and become a story, a scene, a character?

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Or are you facing a major re-write and the words are slipping through your fingers? Is your mind locked on the minutiae while the plot is falling apart? Do you find yourself sitting at your computer, head in hands, dreading the task before you?

So, what can you accomplish today? A plot outline? A chapter re-write? If not, can you re-write a scene, a sentence, a few words?

Do you understand who you are at this minute and can you accept there’s a time to push and a time to nurture?

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Where ever you are, I hope you find inspiration and support to continue

your writer’s journey. We’re all in this together. Care to share what helps you tackle obstacles?

Cheers to all of you-

Sue

One Shots #1

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“One Shots” are short stories or scenes based on one of my novels. Today’s featured shot is the opening scene from a WIP called “Redundant”, a prequel to my YA historical fantasy”Summoned”. 

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Chapter 1

March 1, 1501

           Neala McCasey stood by a roaring fire, ram-rod straight and itching for a fight. She’d get one that night, by hell, she would. Strong hands, yet beautiful, graceful, feline-almost, reached to the towering flame as if to draw the heat toward her and rob it from her husband who stood nearby.

“It can’t happen like this,” Barr said. “I won’t permit it.”

Her shoulders stiffened in an automatic response to denial. The warrior surged forward to crush its opponent. “But it’s already done. I’m with child.”

Neala’s eyes unfocused as she listened inside to a small voice, an echo of one not yet born. One to come.

“Don’t touch me,” she said.

Barr halted a step from his wife. She tossed her long, black hair and straightened.

“Neala,” he whispered, “this isn’t right. Two children born of our blood can’t exist in tandem. Think what storms they’ll bring.”

“Quinn’s not enough – you’ve seen it, how he holds back. He needs another to sharpen his skills. Another to draw out the fighter. He needs a worthy opponent.”

“You give this child nothing but pain. No hope for a future.”

“Yes, but Quinn will strengthen. He’ll have the destiny that’s owed him. My Quinn will be High King.”

Barr brushed his hands down Neala’s powerful arms. “My love, it’s not too late to undo this. Stop this abomination now, before it takes on life, grows and strengthens.”

“It is too late. He speaks to me even now.” She paused and smiled. “His name is Arden.”

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           Quinn lingered in the darkness a safe distance from his parents, yet close enough to catch their intense conversation. How much trouble he’d create if caught wandering the lodge, but the dream had awakened him and he was scared. He shuddered when the sing-song voice rang out in his head again.

I’m coming.

Quinn spun and knocked an urn from its pedestal. Already well trained though just seven years old, his quick reflexes kept the vase from crashing to the stone floor. He set it upright and turned in a circle, seeking the source of the voice.

You are a silly one.

Laughter filled his head and he squinted as if to see the dark shapes in the room. Then he struggled to slow his breathing. Fear. When had he ever known this emotion? Wasn’t he designed for war? Created to rule this land? He wiped his brow and straightened.

“I am warrior.”

As am I.

Did the shadows move? Quinn struck out in the dark, but his hand passed through empty air. Perhaps he’d spent too much time training that day. Perhaps this was the cost of preparing for war.

I’m coming for you, brother.

He dropped to a crouch. Terror knifed through him. Sweat beaded on his forehead. How could this be? He was the Only, the Destined One. How was it possible for another to exist?

That’s right. Of two, one must die.

Quinn closed his eyes as dread settled into his soul. The druids had foretold his own birth, but they had also whispered the longings of the Redundant One.

And now I too have a destiny to fulfill…

 

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If you’d care to read more, Summoned is on wattpad. Thanks for visiting!

Sue

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I attended my first writer’s conference five years ago. Picture an eager, wanna-be author, sitting in a hot, crowded auditorium surrounded by hundreds of like-minded souls, all dutifully taking notes on all those necessary steps to publication.  Ah, the information! The sage advice! Ah, the desperation in the room as the other writers scouted out the other writers and ran the numbers.

Just how many of these poor souls will ever find an agent, must less a publisher?

As expected, a good portion of the conference focused on platform-building and social media. I remember one of the guest speakers saying something to the effect of “No blog, no readers. No readers, no money” and so I rushed home, flushed with new knowledge and launched my first blog.

Which did okay. I learned how to follow others and developed a “following.” I made friends, some I’ve kept in touch with through Facebook when I let that blog dwindle to nothing. I never really got the “point.” These? These quick silly posts were supposed to garner readership? How, even?

Flash forward a few years, and I’m still writing, still aiming for publication, still learning how to market myself, but now I have some perspective on blogging. I think I get it now, so please allow me to share five things I know now I wished I knew five years ago.

1) Know your target audience. Who are you writing posts for? Somewhere along the way, it struck me – blogging isn’t about ME — it’s about YOU, the reader. What am I sharing that adds value to your busy day?

2) Content is King. I enjoy writing for other writers, so how can I support them? What links, tips and support can I offer? What snappy post is going to click with them?

3) If Content is King, then Consistency is Queen. I’ve always piddled with posting, waiting for inspiration to strike (which usually came on a Tuesday just after dinner.) Finding a balance is tricky-we’re all busy, I get it! But setting a doable schedule and sticking to it builds trust with readership. It shows them you are in it for the long haul. Which leads me to number 4.

4) Be in it for the long haul. Make a commitment and see it through. I’ve been redeveloping this site, fine tuning as I go to fend off the blahs. I’m Letting others know I’m trying to give them the best of Sue!

5) Read and leave comments on other bloggers sites. I try to be consistent and respectful. I want to give what I want in return: friendship, support and trust.

I hope these tidbits help. Got something to add? Great! I’d love to hear from you! We’re in this together.

Happy Writing-

Sue

A dozen tiny questions…

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Where do you find inspiration? What touches you deep inside and moves you to action? Is it a poem, nature, music? How do you tackle that next dreaded round of edits, when all you want to do is sleep? Who helps you overcome every obstacle and press through to reach for your dream? Is it a friend? A loved one? A child?

Where is your heart? Can it be found in the stories you tell? The posts you write? The joke you share?

I’ll share. Here is mine…

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 Even from heaven, I feel her presence. How can I not succeed?

Want to share? What inspires you?

cheers-

Sue