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Monday, November 08, 2010

NaNoWriMo tip: tactile stimulation

Sorry I've been AWOL, but I've been on deadline for several books, which takes up my blogging time!

In honor of NaNoWriMo, I thought I'd post a few quick tips for writing while on NaNoWriMo that can help you achieve your goal of 50,000 words written on your novel this month.

This is one of the best weapons in my arsenal:

Tactile Stimulation

This might not work for everyone, but of all the people who have tried it so far, it has worked for them all, so chances are, it'll work for you, too.

Basically, when you stimulate your hands (or your body, really) with tactile, kinesthetic stimulation, it enables you to think creatively and focus on thinking creatively.

When you're trying to write a novel in a month, you don't have time to sit and stare at the blinking cursor. Trust me, I've done that for HOURS. Hours of wasted time.

I discovered that if I have something in my hands that doesn't require too much brain-power, I can suddenly focus on my novel better and think of what to write next.

For me, I knit. For you, pick something easy for you to do, and tactile, but it can also be relatively boring.

I will sit in front of my computer and knit a sock, say, and think of what my characters are going to say next. When I think of something, I drop my knitting in my lap and type on my computer. When I don't know what to type anymore, I pick up my knitting again and knit until I think of something.

This is related to how people often come up with great ideas while in the shower or washing dishes or driving. I think it's partly the tactile stimulation that enables their creative brain side to wander and, well, get creative.

(I think this is also why I tend to write better when I have snacks. Eating is tactile and it's mindless and it totally works for me, but my behind expands with every book. Oy!)

The key is that the activity has to be relatively mindless. No complex lace knitting projects, in other words (and trust me, I've tried it. It wasn't a pretty sight.) I've also tried card making/stamping/scrapbooking, but I need too much brainpower for that and I don't get any writing done. I have tried crochet, but it has to be a super easy crochet like single crochet all the way--no complex crochet stitches or a pattern to follow.

I usually knit an easy garter or stockinette stitch scarf, or a pair of stockinette socks, or an easy blanket that doesn't require a pattern (just enough stitches to make your eyes cross). Those projects typically are so BORING that I don't do them unless I don't have anything else to knit -- OR unless I need something tactile but boring so that I can unleash my creative right brain power.

I discovered that when I knit and write, I average about 500 words an hour (there are some people who write more, some who write less. If you write more than that, go away. Just kidding. If you write more than that, you probably don't need this tip!)

When I don't knit and write, I can go as low as 100 words an hour. Yes! I am pathetic.

When I'm on deadline for a book, I can't afford to be writing only 100 words an hour. That's really when I get going on my knitting (so if you want me to knit you socks, tell me when I'm on deadline. :)

For you, pick some activity you can do while writing and try it out. You might find your productivity really increases!

I tried to list some activities below but have come up woefully short on ideas. If you have more ideas on what tactile activities writers can try, let me know and I'll add it to the list.

knit (easy projects)
crochet (easy projects)
Tunisian crochet
hand quilting (easy)
English Paper Piecing
polishing silver
pedicure (manicure if you can type with stuff on your fingers, but my M key has a stain and sticks b/c--you guessed it--I tried it and it didn't work well for me)
stress therapy ball (Martha Ramirez)
bike ride/walk/drive in the car/(swim???) -- bring pen and paper and/or digital tape recorder for ideas) (Koala Bear Writer)
jigsaw puzzle (Jill W)
playing an instrument (sasafras)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Picking an Agent

This is a compilation of a series of blog posts I wrote on picking an agent.

Picking an agent #1—FINISH THE MANUSCRIPT

Yes, I’m shouting.

Before I go into some tips on how to pick an agent (and possibly receive an offer of representation), I want to point out this very important part of the submission process.

For some people, this is a no-brainer, but I’m always amazed at people who’ve never heard this piece of advice.

Before you query that agent (or editor, for that matter), finish the manuscript. There are TONS of writers who never finish that first manuscript, and agents know this. Therefore, if they are interested in your story, they are going to want to see the full, completed manuscript.

For one, they want to know you finished it.

For two, they want to know if you can sustain your brilliance in the first chapter throughout the rest of the book. Many novels sag in the middle because the writer loses steam. If that’s the case with your manuscript, it’s not ready to submit. Period.

You want that manuscript ready to go if they come back with a manuscript request. You won’t want to make them wait for a few months.

Sometimes, the agent is interested in your particular idea because it’s hot in the marketplace right at that moment. If you wait, they might receive 20 other manuscripts of a similar idea and sell one of those instead. Or the market may be saturated. Or the market changes (which it always does).

Agents are also typically much faster than editors. They won’t often leave you hanging for months at a time.

Strike while the iron is hot. Make sure that puppy is primed and ready to submit.

Update: Julie Carobini pointed out that it is possible to acquire an agent with just a fiction proposal and not the entire manuscript, because, in her words, "time is money." She also had a strong freelance career at that point, too, which added to her credibility. In my opinion, it's not the norm to successfully query with an unfinished manuscript, but it certainly is possible.

Picking an agent #2—Do you like them?

This might seem like a dumb question, but think about it—here is your chance to choose who you get to work with. You want someone you get along with and who has the same work ethic as you do. You won’t necessarily be buddies, but you want to at least be happy to talk to them.

That’s why it’s good to research the agents you query. Read online interviews or buy CDs from conferences of workshops the agent gave, or agent panels the agent was on.

If you can afford it, go to conferences to meet them and talk to them. They don’t bite. Just get to know them, even if you don’t have anything to pitch to them.

You will get a good feel for who you’d like to work for, and which agent has the same types of goals you do in terms of career.

Picking an agent #3—To brand or not to brand

I’m going to flash around the b-word, so if you’re easily offended, skip this post.

Some writers agree with branding, some don’t. Some writers like finding a marketing niche, others feel it hampers their creativity.

There’s nothing wrong with either opinion, but your agent should agree with whatever your opinion is.

Some agents are heavily into branding. They not only pitch your manuscript, they’re pitching your brand, you as the writer. They’re pitching you so that the house will take you on and develop you as an author with that particular flavor of writing.

Some agents are more open to writers who want to branch out into different areas. They encourage creativity, no matter where that may take the writer. They can recognize good writing and push whatever genre manuscripts their authors put out.

There is nothing wrong with either side. But you as the author should decide which type of agent you want to target. That’s why reading their online interviews or listening to workshops on CD or meeting them at conferences is so important.

Picking an agent #4—location?

Some authors insist that agents reside in New York so they have more opportunities for face-to-face time with editors in New York. I can see the logic of that.

So what about if your agent lives in California? Or Colorado?

It depends on which publishers you are targeting.

Let me say that again: It depends on which publishers you are targeting.

Not all publishers are in New York. This is especially true for CBA publishers. If you are targeting Bethany House, they’re in Minnesota. If you’re targeting FaithWords, they’re in Tennessee. If you’re targeting Zondervan, they’re in Michigan.

My agent lives in California, which is terrific because I can meet with her every so often. She flies to visit publishing houses every year, and she has connections with all of them that she encourages by attending various conferences.

She is the primary reason Zondervan bought my chick-lit series, because of her connection with the Zondervan editor.

So . . . New York? In my opinion, not necessarily. However, it is up to you.

Picking an agent #5—How to know if they’re interested?

For some houses like Heartsong Presents and Steeple Hill, a writer doesn’t need an agent to sell to them. Some writers who have targeted those houses worry an agent is just taking them on for an easy sale.

As a writer, you can tell if an agent is truly interested in you and your writing. Did they read your manuscript? Offer suggestions or feedback? Do they plan which specific editors to send it to because they know the editors’ specific tastes? Do they communicate with you quickly and consistently? Is their communication thorough?

And for goodness’ sake, if an agent requests your proposal or your full manuscript, SEND IT! They don’t have time to request those things if they aren’t genuinely interested in your story idea. It’s not like they have nothing to do but log in manuscripts and then send a rejection letter. They have a lot of other things taking up their time, and they’re not going to waste any of it by asking you to send something they intend to reject later.

Picking an agent #6—Multiple submissions?

Many writers worry about sending queries or proposals to several agents at once.

First of all, if you received these submission requests at a conference, it’s understood that you might have multiple requests and therefore multiple submissions.

It’s also fine to send multiple queries to multiple agents, however you should check the agent’s website to see what his/her policy is on multiple submissions. Some agents discourage it. Some agents don’t care.

Whether you have multiple submission requests from an conference or you’re just sending multiple queries to agents, in your cover letter or query letter, let the agent know that your manuscript has been submitted to other agents. It’s a common professional courtesy. Do NOT skip this bit of communication.

If an agent requests a partial manuscript or a full manuscript, e-mail or write to the other agents you submitted to and let them know such-and-such agent has requested the partial (or full). It might garner more interest in your writing, it might not.

If an agent offers representation, but you’d also like to see if the other agents you submitted to are interested, then e-mail, write, or call them. Let them know you submitted to them, but you’ve been offered representation by another agent. Ask them if they would they be willing to look over your submission and give you an answer before you respond to the other agent. Be polite.

The main thing is, make sure you are clear and consistent in your communication with all the agents you submit to or query.

Picking an agent #7—Bad agents

Randy Ingermanson wrote an excellent article about bad agents in his Advanced Fiction Writing Ezine:

.PDF file

text file

No agent is much better than having a bad agent. At best, a bad agent will not push your manuscripts promptly and will waste your time. At worst, a scammer will take your money and ruin your chances with publishers through reprehensible business practices.

Anyone can print up a business card and call themselves an agent, whether they have any experience or connections with editors and the industry or not.

Don’t go with any agent who charges a reading fee or sends you to a specific book doctor or editing company.

Check that the agent is a member of the AAR (Association of Authors' Representatives). Members are required to adhere to their Canon of Ethics, which prohibits scammers.

Picking an agent #8—Communication

All agents have different communication styles.

Some agents are more minimalistic—short, to-the-point e-mails, and not very frequent. Some of them don’t mind if you contact them often, they just won’t contact you back as much. Other agents, however, prefer minimal contact from you, as well. For some people, this type of minimal-communication agent is what they prefer—they don’t want to be bombarded by information they don’t really need, they just need an agent who will work in the background for them.

Other agents are more in contact with their clients. They e-mail and/or call frequently, and welcome reciprocal contact from clients.

Since I am a more chatty person, my agent is the latter. That simply meshes with my personality—it’s an individual choice.

For you, figure out what kind of communication the agent has. Ask questions. Give hypothetical scenarios.

“How often will you contact me in a typical week?”
“Once you send the manuscript to editors, how often will you contact me? What will you contact me about, and what will you not contact me about?”
“What is your preferred method of communication?”
“If I e-mail or call you, when can I expect you to e-mail or call me back?”

Picking an agent #9—Ask around

If you don’t have a chance to go to a conference and meet the agent face-to-face, or if the agent doesn’t attend the conference(s) you go to, then ask other writers about their agents.

If you belong to an online writers group, ask them to e-mail you privately about their agents. Ask about communication styles and work ethics. Ask them about their relationships, how the agent works, etc.

Also, tell them you’ll keep all their information completely confidential.

Another good idea is something a published author did (I want to say Rene Gutteridge did this, but I’m not positive)—she contacted several editors and asked them to give her the top three agents they enjoy working with. That way the editors aren’t put on the spot about any particular agent.

Any other questions?

Leave them in the comments and I'll answer them!

Monday, July 12, 2010

New blog by Abingdon Press fiction editor Barbara Scott!

Barbara Scott is Exclusive acquisitions editor for Abingdon Press fiction and she has just started a new blog! Check it out!

The Roving Editor
Exclusive acquisitions editor for Abingdon Press fiction. More than 30 years experience in newspaper, magazine, and book publishing. Mentor, teacher, editor, author, speaker. Lover of God, family, and friends.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

What I’m bringing to the ACFW Conference

Captain's Log, Stardate 07.08.2010

The highlight of my year is always the ACFW conference in September. It’s my favorite conference for so many reasons, some of which are:

1) the friends I get to see there
2) the industry professionals I get to meet
3) the workshops
4) the nice hotel (I am SO not a “roughing it” girl. I need room service.)

I’m terrible at forgetting what to bring every year, so this year I figured I’d make a list. And I also thought it might be a useful list for other people who might be going to conference, too (not just the ACFW conference, but any writer’s conference).

So here goes, in no particular order:

1) business cards and/or bookmarks. For me, bookmarks are usually easier.

2) A one-sheet of my latest proposal. Dineen Miller did a great blog series on One-Sheets:,,,, and examples here:

3) My pitch for my latest proposal. The one-sheet has my pitch on it so I don’t have to stress about memorizing it, although I’ll usually just talk about my story rather than reading the pitch because most editors/agents don’t like it if you read it. However, they will prefer you read it over go on for ten minutes about it. Be ready to give the gist of it in 30 seconds.

4) My camera because I always try to take lots of pictures!!! This can also be helpful if I take a picture with an editor or an agent so I’ll better remember what they look like, because now that I’m in pre-menopause, my memory is just mush.

5) $1 bills to tip the maids (a dollar on your pillow every morning, not just your last morning, because you could have different maids every day), cab drivers, porters, etc. Not tipping is just rude, in my opinion.

6) Clothes. Everybody is different, so pick what you feel comfortable in. I dislike tight clothes, but I also dislike baggy things, so I’ll go for cute tops that are form-skimming but also made from fabrics that won’t crease as easily. I bring both jeans and nice slacks depending on what I’m doing—if I’m teaching or meeting an editor or agent, I wear the slacks. If I’m hanging out with friends, I wear jeans. I also pack layers (see below). Bottom line: DON’T LOOK LIKE A SLOB BUT BE COMFORTABLE. Mindy Obenhaus had a good blog post here on raiding your closet for conference.

7) Light jacket and/or sweater. Actually, in years past I’ve been packing a lace shawl instead since I can cram that sucker into a bag and not worry about it getting wrinkled, but when I’m cold in those air-conditioned rooms, I can whip it out and put it around my shoulders. The nice thing about conference is that it’s always in a hotel so you don’t have to worry about weather except when going outside.

8) Comfortable shoes. I don’t always take my own advice here because I love cute shoes! But I always have at least one pair of comfortable but nice shoes that I could wear when walking from workshop to workshop, which matches my slacks.

9) Workout clothes/shoes. This year, especially, I’ll be in the gym since I’m training to run the Honolulu marathon in December! (I’ll blog more about that later, I promise.) The nice thing about ACFW conferences is that it’s always in a hotel with a good gym to work out in, and usually the hotels have pools, too.

10) SCENT FREE LOTION. The Conference is SCENT FREE since a lot of people (including our CEO, Colleen Coble) are allergic to perfumes, so I always bring Nutrogena fragrance free hand lotion.

11) An extra, empty duffel bag or suitcase because I always end up buying books and then trying to stuff them into my overstuffed suitcase to carry them home.

12) My knitting! If you’re a knitter or crocheter, bring your project along! I knit while listening to workshops or the keynote speaker.

13) Snacks. Do you really want to pay $7 for a granola bar at the hotel gift shop? Also, keep your blood sugar steady since you’ll be doing a lot, going places, interacting with people, and using more energy than you think you will.

14) Computer. I usually bring my laptop simply because I typically need to do work while at the conference. Since I’m a List Hostess and the Genesis coordinator, I almost always need my files or to get online to check my email address. Other people use their computer to take notes in classes. However, if you don’t think you’ll need to do any of that stuff, feel free to not bring your computer. Some people will bring their iPad or Alphasmart for notetaking. I use my Alphasmart Neo since it’s built like a tank, takes up less space in my conference tote bag, and doesn’t need to be plugged in.

If you’re bringing your computer for notetaking in workshops, remember that the rooms don’t always have enough outlets, so consider bringing a multi-outlet surge protector if you can fit it in your computer bag.

You don’t need to bring a notebook for notetaking because ACFW will give you a nice notebook with your conference totebag.

15) Cell phone. This is invaluable for me when I’m meeting someone (a friend, not an editor appointment) because who wants to waste precious minutes searching throughout a huge first floor lobby/meeting room area for someone?

16) Pajamas. I actually need to list this because I have forgotten my PJs on more than one occasion.

17) Charge cords for your cell phone, computer, etc. I also bring charge cords for my Nook ebook reader, my iPod, and my Bluetooth headset.

18) Books to read. Yes, I fully confess I get jittery and psychotic if I don’t have a book to read when I’m on the plane or waiting or whatever. I always bring my Nook ebook reader with me so I have hundreds of books at my fingertips.

19) Bible. I have one on my Nook so I never forget my Bible when I’m going places, since I always bring my Nook, plus it doesn’t take up as much space in my luggage as my regular Bible. If you have a pocket Bible, you may want to consider bringing that so it’ll take up less space.

20) Miscellaneous stuff:
contact lens solution
hair stuff (the hotel has a blow drier)
safety pins
nail care kit (if you have nails that can chip or break at the worst possible times)

From Malia: extra batteries for camera, etc.!

From Glynna: a folded Fed-Ex box (I think even a folded USPS Flat Rate box would fit, and if you can pay the postage in advance, even better) for mailing anything extra home rather than paying for overweight luggage.

So did I miss anything? Anything you’d add to the list?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The One-Sentence Hook

We're doing one-sentence hooks at Seekerville today! Come learn how to write a one-sentence hook and get feedback on your own!

Camy here! Today I thought I’d do a more interactive post and have you guys create a one-sentence hook for your story. This is actually a lesson from my Synopsis online class that I teach through my Story Sensei critique service, so forgive me if you’ve taken my class and this sounds vaguely familiar. :)

An agent might use this one-sentence hook when she presents your story to an editor, or you can use this hook in your proposal, and an editor might use it when she presents it to the pub board. Actually, I would strongly suggest you have a one-sentence hook in your proposal, because even if your editor doesn’t use it in pub board, you may be asked to submit a one-sentence hook later, after the book is contracted, to give to the Marketing and Sales team.

Click here to read the rest!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Interview with Steeple Hill Executive Editor Joan Marlow Golan

Today, Wednesday, May 5, is hosting a special guest -- Steeple Hill Executive Editor JOAN MARLOW GOLAN.  We'll be posting an interview with her, plus she's agreed to pop in several times that day to answer questions. 
Hope you can join us!

Friday, April 30, 2010

How my online classes work

After I posted about my Synopsis writing class, I got a few questions about how my online class works. The below is for my Synopsis class, and for my other online classes, the format is essentially the same although I might post lessons a different number of days per week depending on the class.

The class is entirely on my StorySenseiClass YahooGroups email loop. I email the lessons to the YahooGroup, and you have 1-3 days to do the homework in the lessons.

You can turn in the lessons at any time during the class and I'll still give feedback on it, so no penalty for late homework! :)

There is no set time the class meets--you work entirely on your own time, at your own pace during the time period of the class.

The only thing is that once the class ends, I won't be able to give feedback on any homework since all the YahooGroup members are purged from the group to make way for the next class.

I always try to give targeted, comprehensive feedback on your homework to help you write your synopsis. Some of my class members have taken this class more than once because I help them write a synopsis for each new story they write.

If this sounds like something you'd like to do, let me know (storysensei {at} gmail {dot] com) and I'll email you a PayPal invoice. If you want to pay by check or money order, you can do that too, just let me know. After I receive payment, I'll send you an email invite to the StorySenseiClass YahooGroup so you can participate! I also have all the lessons saved as .pdf files in the File section of the YahooGroup in case you wanted to download them there.

You may need a Yahoo Profile to join the YahooGroup, but you don't need to use a Yahoo email address--you can use your regular email address with the Yahoo Profile you create.

Thanks! I hope you'll take my classes!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Your Best Writing Time

Hey guys,

I'm at Seekerville talking about a writer's best writing time:

Camy here! As I write this, it’s late evening in California, because I’ve discovered my best writing time is usually in the evening and early morning hours.

For years this really frustrated me because who in their right mind writes best at 2 a.m.? Especially when I had to get up at 8 a.m. to go to my biology job. (Pain and suffering ...) Why can’t I be like Ruthy who can get up at (Godforsaken) 4 in the morning to efficiently zip off a chapter before breakfast?

Click here to chime in and let me know your best writing time!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ten Ways To Create Character Empathy

This is a fantastic article by Brandilyn Collins. Several of her points are similar to what I read in one of my favorite writing books, Writing for Emotional Impact by Karl Iglesias.

Ten Ways To Create Character Empathy

Sunday, February 07, 2010

EMPOWERING CHARACTERS' EMOTIONS online course by Margie Lawson

Camy here: I STRONGLY recommend this course! Many of the manuscripts that I critique could use more emotional writing, and this course is the best of its kind in teaching how to write with more emotion, more emotional intensity, more psychologically resonating emotion. TAKE THIS COURSE!

This course is designed for writers of ALL GENRES, published or unpublished. You'll work at your own pace, on your own level.

Presenter: Margie Lawson

Cost: $20.00 PASIC members, $30.00 non-members - payable by PayPal

Deadline to Register: February 27, 2010



Would you like to learn how to:

Capture emotion on the page?

Hook the reader
by eliciting a visceral response?

Analyze your scenes?

Fix scenes that don't work?

Increase micro-tension?

Add psychological power to a good scene and make it stellar?

This power-packed on-line class covers the following topics and more:

The EDITS System
Deep Editing techniques
Four Levels of Powering Up Emotion
The Full Range of Body Language:
Facial expressions, Dialogue Cues, Proxemics, Posture, Gestures, Avoidance and Deception Cues
Fresh Visceral Responses
Motivation Reaction Units
Ideomotoric shifts
Subtext Power
Emotional Authenticity
Backstory Management
Emotional Hits
Rhythm and Cadence and Beats
Carrying a Nonverbal Image Forward
Projecting Emotion for a Non-POV character

About the Presenter:

Lawson—psychotherapist, writer, and international presenter – focuses
her analytical skills on writing craft. A former adjunct professor,
Margie taught psychology courses at the graduate and doctoral levels.
Applying her expertise in the writing world, she developed innovative
editing systems and deep editing techniques. Her deep editing tools are
used by all writers, from beginners to multi-award winners. She teaches
writers how to edit for psychological power, how to immerse the reader
in the fictional world, how to write page turners.

developed six on-line courses she teaches once per year. The lectures
from all her courses are available as Lecture Packets through Paypal
from her web site.

Empowering Characters' Emotions
Deep Editing: The EDITS System, Rhetorical Devices, and More
Digging Deep in to the EDITS System
Defeat Self-Defeating Behaviors
Writing Body Language and Dialogue Cues Like a Psychologist
Powering Up Body Language in Real Life: Projecting a Professional Persona When Pitching and Presenting

the last six years, Margie presented full day Master Classes for
writers fifty-four times, sharing her deep editing techniques with over
four thousand writers. Last year Margie was brought in as a guest
speaker to present full day Master Classes in Melbourne for Romance
Writers of Australia, and in Auckland, for Romance Writers of New

learn about Margie's 3-day Immersion Master Classes, full day Master
Class presentations, on-line course schedule, Lecture Packets, or
newsletter, visit:

Read what graduates of Margie Lawson's courses and master classes say:

Ingermanson, Ph. D., author of WRITING FICTION FOR DUMMIES,
award-winning fiction author, creator of Snow-Flake Pro, in-demand
writing instructor:

"In the twenty years I've been writing
fiction, two teachers have astounded me with their insights and taught
me something radically new: Dwight Swain and Margie Lawson.

reading Margie's material on nonverbal communication and empowering
characters' emotions, something clicked in my brain. Margie taught me a
new ways to empower my writing."

Karin Tabke, Bestselling author:

had so many epiphany moments Saturday my head was twitching. It's still
twitching! I wish I had attended Margie's Empowering Characters'
Emotions master class earlier. My writing is stronger, more vivid, more
emotional. The effects of the workshop were immediate. I highly
recommend if you have the opportunity to take Margie's workshop in
person, do it."

Colleen Coble, CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers and Bestselling author:

workshop I went to last month was the best I've ever been to, bar none.
And I've been to plenty. Margie's workshop was so awesome, I'm going
over my notes from what she taught before I start my next book. She's a
genius, pure and simple."

Melanie Milburne, Bestselling, Award Winning author:

just sold my 31st title and my editor loved the book. She thought I had
written a really sophisticated story with powerful emotion. So thank
you Margie!

have worked my way through Margie's Empowering Characters' Emotions,
and Deep Editing Lecture Packets, and found them wonderful. Her deep
editing techniques have really lifted my writing. It's so exciting
working on each new novel now knowing I have these amazing techniques
to engage the reader in a more emotionally satisfying way. Thank you
again, Margie!

Cheryl Wyatt, Award Winning author:

LOVED Margie Lawson's class. WOW. WOW. WOW. Wish I would have
discovered her sooner. Fabulous. My writing will soar to the next
level. She's an incredible teacher and such a fun teacher. Great lady.
I plan to take all her online courses."

At the Steeple Hill
spotlight, at the RWA National conference, editors Krista Stroever and
Melissa Endlich mentioned my books. They talked about how my writing
has a depth of emotion that makes them cry. They said that's the kind
of emotive writing they want to see from authors trying to break in.

I know I have you to thank for the strong core of emotion that people
say are in my books. Thank you for bringing your wealth of knowledge
and sharing with us. You truly are amazing.

Jeri Smith-Ready, Bestselling author:

owe it all to Margie Lawson (and my editor) for helping me whip my
books into shape. I used her Empowering Characters' Emotions and Deep
Editing lectures as my bible for my final drafts. I am so grateful I
discovered Margie's editing expertise. I can't say enough about what a
difference it makes to have Margie's 'voice' pushing me to make each
word count and each sentence pop!

Linda Warren, Award Winning Best-selling author:

I'm thoroughly enjoying your Deep Editing lectures. And learning. I feel as if I've been writing in the dark. All of a sudden
you've turned on the light and my weak and dull writing is transformed into powerful and fresh. I love it!

As an author I get tired of the "thumping" "pounding" heart. "Lifted" "raised" eyebrow, too.

your full day Empowering Characters' Emotions master class at NOLA
Stars, I wrote this line: "She cocked her eyebrow with the power of a
.38 special."

As I told you in Shreveport, I've never taken a
workshop because getting around is so hard for me. I'm glad I waited
for a Margie Lawson Master Class to begin to learn about the power of
words, the power of writing. You're brilliant.

CJ Lyons, Award Winning author:

Empowering Characters' Emotions and Deep Editing classes not only
helped me to get in touch with my characters' visceral reactions, they
also showed me ways to use my characters' emotions to drive my plots in
compelling and evocative new directions!

Lyn Cote, Bestselling, RITA nominated,

love a teacher who knows how to break down the individual skills and
content in order to put into practice what is being taught. I've taken
Margie's Character Emotion and EDITS classes and have used them ever

Margie's lessons are always practical and make such a difference! If you haven't taken them and implemented them, YOU SHOULD. "
Deadline to Register: February 27, 2010

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Interview--My journey to publication

Lynda Schab interviewed me on my journey to publication! This was fun because she asked questions on topics I didn't think about when I first gave my writing journey story.

Now, Camy shares her journey to publication:
Fiction, non-fiction, or both? Fiction
Genre: Romantic suspense and humorous contemporary romance
How many books have you written? 9
How many of those have been published? 4
Years you've been writing: Longer than dirt. Okay, seriously, I started writing in Junior High or High School, but didn't start writing seriously until I got laid off from my biology job, which was in 2002

Click here to read the entire interview!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Proposals—basic structure

I'm over at Seekerville today in a long blog article about how to put together a fiction proposal!

Camy here! I know that lots of you did NaNoWriMo in November, and as all of us start to prepare for writer’s conferences this year, I wanted to talk about putting together a fiction proposal for your manuscript.

Not all proposals are set up the same way, but I’m going to go through the structure of a typical one.

Click here to read the rest of the article!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

2010 ACFW Genesis contest for unpublished writers

This is my fifth year coordinating the American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis contest for unpublished writers! We just went live yesterday!

Deadline is 8 a.m. Pacific Standard Time on March 31st, so get your manuscripts polished so you can enter! Actually, enter by March 15th in case your entry gets lost in cyberspace, so we have time to find it.

You must be an ACFW member to enter the contest, but you can join when you submit your entry fee! If you're thinking seriously about being published in Christian fiction, ACFW is a fantastic organization!

Here's the website:

ACFW Genesis contest

Monday, January 18, 2010

Q&A: Writing a scene with 2 characters who are not English speakers

Brenda asked:

I have a quandary.  I have a scene in which two characters are speaking, both of whom are not English speakers, but of course, since it would be meaningless to have a page of dialogue the reader can't understand, it is written in English.  In this story's case, it's a historical, the speakers are Apaches.  Traditionally, historicals featuring a scene like this would write the dialogue in choppy, stilted English.  But this doesn't make sense to me.  The scene is in the POV of the Apache, and while I wasn't in that time period, I view it much the same as if you walked in on someone having a phone conversation with a friend in a rapid exchange of Spanish, French, German, what have you.  They are not stumbling over their words.
On the other hand, I'm not sure if I should assume the reader "gets" that these two Apaches would be speaking in their own native tongue.  And someone suggested to me to use the stilted English, which doesn't seem POV-true to me.  How do I remain POV-true to the character yet provide the cultural clues the reader needs to not assume they are speaking English?

Camy here: I personally agree with you that the stilted English option wouldn’t be very true to character or to point of view. It also might be considered a bit non-politically correct to show the Apache language as stilted English when it’s nothing of the sort.

I have seen this in other books and it has worked quite well. You have two options, both them very similar:

1) Start the dialogue with a line in the language (in italics to show a foreign language), then switch to English, letting the reader know the conversation continues in the Apache language.

For example (since I don’t know Apache, I’m going to use Japanese):

”Genki desuka?” Eleanor asked.

Chikako tried to dry her eyes on her sleeve. Thank goodness Eleanor knew Japanese so Chikako didn’t have to struggle to communicate in English, not now with the way she was feeling. She continued in the same language, “I’m fine, thanks for asking. The doctor said I’ll get the results next week Monday.”

Eleanor smiled ruefully. “It’s hard waiting, isn’t it? I felt that way with my breast cancer a few years ago.”

2) Start the dialogue directly with an indication that it’s in the foreign language. The only problem with this is that some readers might miss the fact the dialogue is not supposed to be in English.

For example:

When Marta left them to go to the buffet table to load up, Chikako turned to Eleanor and asked in Japanese, “Who did the cooking for tonight?”

“Sylvia. She got her sisters to help her, though.”

I hope this helps!

If any of you guys have any other questions for my Q&A series, just leave a comment and I'll be sure to get to it!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Q&A: Unfamiliar settings

Joy asked:

I thought to start my fiction (novel) while I'm on a holiday break. I'm conceptualizing some ideas and taking down notes for a chicklit story. I Love chicklit genre.But my dilemma is about the setting. Did it ever happen to you that you based a setting of your story in a place where you've never been before?

The last time I was in the US was in 1999. A part from the fact that my memory is kinda rusty and needs fine tuning from time to time, I also didn't pay attention to take note of specific details about the stores, where to go, sights to see. I was just overwhelmed with my new environment and ofcourse homesickness.

Currently, I'm based in Croatia ( Southeast EU), but as a background setting, I'd like to mention about the main character based in the US. Should I be very specific about the place in the US? If anything else, I've got friends from the US who can guide me through this.

I don't know if I'm making sense here. But I'm sure you know what I mean.
I'd really appreciate your input based on your writing experience, if that's not too much to ask. :)

Camy here: That's great that you're starting your novel! My advice would be to just write it even if you're not sure if you're accurate about the US settings.

If you're not sure about your facts at a particular point in the novel, you can do what I do and insert [xxx do research later] in the manuscript and then just keep writing.

After I finish the manuscript, I do a search for "xxx" and find all the notes I left to myself to fix. Then you can do more research, ask your friends specific questions, etc.

Also, don't forget that your setting should be a character in the book, not just a backdrop. When you integrate the setting into the storyline—so much so that the story couldn't take place anywhere else in the world—it makes for more vibrant reading.

If any of you guys have any other questions for my Q&A series, just leave a comment and I'll be sure to get to it!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Q&A: Manuscript format

Jeris asked:

I'm in the process of formatting my novel and need to know whether the entire manuscript is saved as one file or separate files within a folder.

I started to save it as one file, but realized the header wouldn't be correct--"Chapter One" wouldn't work with the other chapters.

Any advice is greatly appreciated. Also, are there any helps when using Word 2007?

Camy here: Yes, your entire manuscript should be saved as one file. That will make it easier for an editor or agent if they want the electronic version of your manuscript.

Some agents/editors actually prefer the electronic version, although some want the electronic version as just a supplement to the hard copy version, and they ask you to send both.

Your header should simply be your name, the title of the manuscript, and the page number. Check out my manuscript formatting article for more info on that. Don't put the chapter number in the header.

For Word 2007, I have found a lot of information simply by Googling "Word 2007" and then whatever question I have, such as headers or margins or whatever. Forum boards are usually very helpful. Computer people like helping others who are confused, I guess!

I hope this helps!

If any of you guys have any other questions for my Q&A series, just leave a comment and I'll be sure to get to it!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Seven of Nine – uniqueness in your characters

I'm over on Seekerville today melding two of my loves, Star Trek Voyager and writing. :)

Camy here! I’m a HUGE Star Trek Voyager fan (I watch the reruns on SpikeTV). I really like the character Seven of Nine.

For you non Star Trek fans, Seven is a human woman who was a Borg (mindless cyborg) for most of her life, but Captain Janeway rescued her from the Borg collective and is teaching her how to be an individual.

Click here to read more about creating unique characters for your stories!

Monday, January 04, 2010

Q&A: Two characters

Roxo said...

I was wondering lately if a two character book would seem boring.
The story is about a girl who wanders in the forest with this boy. I have other characters but they appear sporadically even if they contribute to the way the story goes.
Should I add someone with them just to make the plot less centered on just two characters?

Camy here: I’m afraid there’s no really good answer for this. It all depends on how you envision the story.

It’s good that you have other characters who appear sporadically, because they can serve to add more conflict and obstacles to the characters’ goals. If it were purely the two characters, I would say you definitely need more characters, if only to keep the conflict from becoming too much of the same kind of interactions.

I’m not sure how far along you are on the manuscript, or if you’ve already plotted the entire thing out or if you’re discovering the story as it unfolds. If you’ve plotted it all out already, look and see if you actually like just having the two main characters, or if you feel they need someone else to spice up the interactions. If you haven’t plotted it out, then just continue writing the manuscript, and again look to see if you like having only two main characters.

In this instance, you should go with your gut. What prospect gives you more interest or excitement about the book—only two characters, or adding a third? Follow your own instincts about your story.

I hope that helps!

If any of you guys have any other questions for my Q&A series, just leave a comment and I'll be sure to get to it!
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