Slaying the Query Dragon!

When you develop a query, you’ve got to meet the requirements an agent needs to evaluate your entire work, on one page (or two at most).

Query Requirement: Write your own book blurb (the paragraph or two on the back cover that should intrigue a reader want to purchase it to read the book). If it’s in the query, it should make an agent  want to request your story manuscript & give it a chance!

Remember I was painting a Query Dragon? Knowing I need to do the work of querying elicits the same gut feeling of having to slay a dragon.

IT’S THAT HARD.

So I put a ‘face’ to that: the Query Dragon LP202

Also I did NOT procrastinate while doing it. I kept on working on my query letter (by that I mean BOOK BLURB), and last edit of my story at the same time. It made me sick to my stomach just like doing math does, but just like you have to look at your bank account and pay bills, I did it!

Off-topic Question: Do any of you other writers have a problem with numbers, or math? (It’s not that I can’t do it- I’m fairly good at math – but I have been known to get 3 different answers on a calculator, using the same inputs. Just looking at numbers can turn my tummy upside down.)

It’s painstakingly time-consuming to find examples of successful query letters online, but they’re worth the time to study.  What might be just as insightful, are book trailers (and perhaps movie trailers). If you’re doing a query, you want to know how others are doing it, right?

Well, for many authors (including many who are self-publishing), the “book trailer” is an enlightening way to highlight a story -using nothing more than the blurb and some graphics (still photos, music, etc.)

Some of these self-publishing authors are really gifted at marketing their books and are worth studying! Jenna Moreci is one of (if not THE) best I’ve come across – in all areas of marketing… her VLOG, Writing with Jenna Moreci is always highly entertaining as she shares her insights into the story-writing processes.

I haven’t read her works yet, but I AM IMPRESSED with her as a ‘publicity artist’ (Vlogger), and her personality is over-the-top cool! Also, she has a sweet doggy.

If you’re querying, or self-publishing, you need your book-cover blurb to shine and lead a reader/agent in, so watch Jenna’s trailer and see how a blurb works to sell your story! I think Jenna has nailed it! Here’s Jenna’s latest book – coming out in September this year:

LvAmvaK Jenna Moreci book cover

Watch Jenna’s very cool book trailer (and be impressed) HERE!

*Agent Jessica Faust has explained over several of her Bookends Literary Agency VLOGS, that the blurb is critical to a query! Take notes, learn. You can do it!

Watch this episode of BookEnds Literary Agency’s Vlog:

10 Things to do Before you Query Literary Agents

#1 (as Agent Jessica Faust says) “Embrace the Fear”, “Establish a system (to track who, when where, etc.), “Start writing your next book”, “Get comfortable with ‘NO!’ But … don’t give up (persistence is key) – those who keep trying WILL find success.”

#2 (as Agent James McGowan says) “You’ll always feel out of your league – Do it anyway… Greatness lies just beyond your comfort zone”

Best of luck to anyone else on the querying (or self-publishing) journey.

Come back and share what it feels like to tackle this beastly dragon.

Come back and share HOW YOU SLAYED IT! (Hmmm, that might be a story in itself…)

♥ ~Laureli

So, What’s Your Motivation?

Spring has been cancelled. In fact this is day 4 of a blistering blustery cold wind sweeping down from the snow-capped mountains across the pastures – right into my face!

Does anybody know what day it even is?

We’re sure in a different reality now than the one we expected! So many strange things going on out there, we may well wonder if summer will be cancelled too… but as someone else said:

the real virus is despair…

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…so I’m not going to go there. Today I am only going to address things related to being a writer, and personal motivations for writing – because in these times, it’s important.

So many things we took for granted in our daily lives have gotten difficult – and everything else is now uncertain. The publishing industry is changing along with EVERYTHING ELSE. Literary agent Jessica Faust sat down to discuss the ways publishing has changed for authors , in light of the virus, and what that means for the future of our books.

Writing is not sexy and glamorous; it’s freaking hard. The whole endeavor of writing a book takes TIME and DEDICATION – to sit down for hours each day and stay focused on that one thing, to develop characters and flesh out a concept all the way though to the end, and then refine it til each phrase shines just right.

If you finish one story, you can expect (in the olden days a month ago), a book advance of $10,000. for approximately one year’s worth of ‘author work’.

Isn’t that equivalent to one year’s wages at a minimum wage part-time job? It’s a fair exchange, if you sit and write for 4 hours a day (average desk time we really might be sitting… even if it does include weekends that aren’t counted), but it’s not a living wage! You still need to have a ‘real’ job, and probably a real full-time job, to live on while you’re writing. And that makes life a juggle even if you don’t have kids under foot.

Sooooooooooo, lets just make an assumption that life is going to get more difficult in some ways (or all ways?) from this point forward. What’s going to be your motivation to write – and to KEEP WRITING?

No one has your thoughts, your creativity, no one can tell it like you can. But even if you ‘have’ to write (because YOU ARE  A WRITER – and everyone knows those people ‘write’ even if it’s only in their head all day long)… and Words are hard.

It’s interesting to think that in this present moment we believe “everything will remain the same forever…”, but in actuality, we’re just another page in a future history book. Who knows what’s going to happen to human civilization 100+ years from now?

Perhaps one day people will talk about some current countries, whose history is lost to Time, the way the Greeks talked about Atlantis. Maybe something like this:

““The Great Fall’ began in August 2021 after corona crippled the world economy and the Lizard Kings attacked…”

At the end of the chapter of this future history book, it gives the little summary of facts, like this:

“FACT: Every major civilization collapse started with a toilet paper shortage.”

Of course I’m speaking of a scenario that depends on a worldwide calamity- or a slow decline of The Empires that now reign. And on the possibility of Lizard-people. But damn if that doesn’t make you stop and think!

The thing is, everything now is uncertain, and this is not just a Sci-Fi scenario, it’s more like some kind of test of humanity, and it’s a feasible future possibility.

That crazy old man that lives in the mountains and survives on his own doesn’t sound so crazy anymore.

So again: What’s going to be your motivation to write – and to KEEP WRITING? It’s important to know this, so you don’t flounder, get distracted, or get caught in a self-defeating loop of despair.

Now let me share some levity with your poor tortured artistic soul, something that will not only make you smile and lift your spirits, but give you a little motivational push:

“Treadmill Query Reading | Inside the Query Process” “Treadmill Query Reading/Inside the Query Process” with Bookends Literary Agent Naomi Davis

I love this! If we didn’t find something to laugh about, we might be crying instead.

Back to reality… and back to my book editing process. Got to wring the tears out of my future readers! (Sometimes it’s GOOD to cry, ok?)

Hang tight, you & me, we’re in this for the long haul!

~ ♡ Laureli

Is writing hard? lololol

I just thought I’d give everyone a laugh today.

And a list of 7 things that might be helpful if you’re struggling on this rocky road toward writing something worthy of publication.

I think a lot of overwhelm comes from not understanding the sequence of the “mystery checklist” regarding everything that comes after you’ve done the writing. The book is done, now what?

I mean, writer’s tasks are many: you have to research agents, write a query, a synopsis, a blurb, get beta readers, edit it several times in different ways, rewrite parts… and time is passing by during every phase. Then there’s keeping track of agents & agencies you’re interested in, and any queries & responses…which may include more rewriting!

And each one of those things has it’s own little checklist of steps in a specific order.

Unless you’re self-publishing (that’s another mystery checklist, plus forever creative marketing!)

*If you ARE self-publishing, here’s a page just for you:

I created a little (lonnnnng) checklist of the process through querying, here: The Very Long List to Publication.

I probably left things out because I haven’t yet gone thru the entire process, but have fun with the idea that writing a book and getting it published (traditionally) is a very long and drawn-out, unpredictable process (at least timing things).

But I hope to impart hope.

There are published authors who have gone thru this process innumerable times (they ARE successful after all, and I find that few are “one-shot wonders’… they go on to write and publish several works, right?). And though things have been changing in the publishing industry, they DO still seek new authors and publish books, so it’s not an insurmountable endeavor.

It’s just hard. Writing is hard, and the process is hard. You don’t do it for the pay-out (because as you may have heard, that is now changing along with everything else)… you do it though because you are a writer!

So at some point like me, you might ask: where in this whole process can I make it easier for myself?

You know that feeling?

“…Resistance is the Enemy within.” -from Steven Pressfield, ‘The War of Art’

I would like to put these things into a monthly/weekly/daily time-slot schedule, like a task list, and though I think I could break them down into tiny segments (for the bigger goals), I don’t know how long any of them might take, or even in what particular order, or what steps I might not even know about that I’m missing.

How do you make sense of unknowns AND try to organize them into a to-do list in a schedule… THAT’S overwhelm.

And right now there’s the Virus messing with everyone’s life in some way.

Congrats if you, (unlike me), are able to concentrate- call up the Muse- these days!

Be that as it may, it WILL feel good, and be productive, to brainstorm whatever stage in the process you’re at!

Start with a little list of the things you CAN control:

1a. Just keep writing- anything! Write letters to the newspaper, a pretend person, or to yourself, if nothing else.

1b. Set a writing schedule (time of day, and/or duration), or a Word Count, that you alone are accountable for executing.

1c. Pre-determine a reward or a reward-system, that will fit into your life and motivate you adequately!

  1. Select, or determine, your particular pre-writing strategies.

These are infinite, but include setting up your work space to be inviting, or tidying the house (getting rid of any loose strings that might nag you right out of writing mode), putting the kids to bed. It can go as far as having a writing ‘ritual’ that you go through to cue the Muse (burning incense or candles, playing a certain music playlist, once you’ve put one together…)

Or maybe you could use a little warm-up using writing prompts (totally unrelated to the piece you’re slaving over of course).

Hmm, may have to try that one.

  1. Spend time developing your social media platform(s), your online persona, quality content -and consistency.

Unfortunately for introverted writers, this is a modern must. Even if you are not self-publishing.

Do Not pay attention to the fact that I haven’t posted anything here since May. Reasons, alright?

4. Research for the right agents & agencies for your story. This is fun right? Don’t you love reading the various MSWL (Manuscript wish-list) of each individual agent? They are diverse and descriptive… sometimes funny, and often quite inspiring.

5. Do that nitty-gritty Admin type of work: fine-tuning your bio, query letter, etc.
***I highly recommend watching the impressive list of -short & fun- related videos that BookEnds Literary Agency puts out on these topics.
Check out this Playlist: #AskAgent.
  1. Seek out other writers for support. There are quite a few avenues to do this, even with the virus issues going on presently. It’s amazing how supportive other authors and artists are, and how much it nourishes those writerly artistic needs and enlightens you. I really should try harder to accomplish this.

Beyond such things, I’m not sure what else is controllable. (Clue me in if I’m missing something- anything that occurs to you! Let’s help each other out.)

Control what you can, but as I tell myself these days, there’s a ying/yang to creativity, and a certain balance that is needed to reach ‘flow’. Sometimes it’s just not the time for something and there’s no sense beating yourself up about that. Give yourself some space, give your story some space, and let the Muse take a break too. If you’re a writer, you’ll write when you’re ready, or when the story forces itself out through your fingertips.

~ ♡ Laureli

P.S. 🌡Its 105° in the shade in Mississippi, and Los Angeles is about to get roasted for the next three days with 113° scorching temps & Calif is also continuing to have electrical brown-outs.

Jet stream on the other side, here in the Rockies, Winter is coming on! With the jet stream doing a dip-dance early,  October-like weather is already in my area… pretty sure we are going to have a very hard winter!

And since that cray-cray Derecho over Iowa, another storm rolled over 8 miles of Oklahoma with 30,000 lightening hits! What gives?

Soooo, if you can’t get into the deep work of writing right now… I’d say everyone has a reason to be quite preoccupied with essential prepping.

❄ Winter is Coming!

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If you are a writer, there is no Plan B.

Writing is an art. Art is made from 10% inspiration, 90% perspiration, and 100% desperation.

See what I did there?

There is no Plan B. You HAVE to write. Even if it’s only in your head.

A painter will paint on rocks, on shoes or hankies, on a pillowcase, on a car, on the bricks that line the walkway, or even on the walls themselves (yay a mural!). They might spend days collecting wood scraps at a construction site in 114° degree heat, then sand the edges smooth, to make a set of ABC picture blocks… because any excuse will do, any material will work, any combination of colors or media… but an artist MUST make art happen. I swear this is true. It’s not ‘a calling’, it’s not even an obsession, it’s compulsory, it’s compelled. It can be frustrating or tortuous or nagging, but it’s as necessary as the air.

There is this huge epic story idea I’ve mused over & around in my head, sometimes a DOZEN times in a day, for months… and months… and ah, uh,  months…………………………..

… until 27 years have passed by.

I know not only the entire journey of the protagonist, but all the characters intimately. I know their conversations, the scenery, the climax and cresendo of each section- the problem the outcome and reaction, the phrasology and the sequence of each scene in every chapter; I know this story inside and out.

It never goes away, but I cannot write the book. Maybe it’s overwhelming; the story is not only character-driven, but the world they must navigate changes. It’s like a coming-of-age saga, set at the End of Empire (in America). It would be time-consuming and emotionally draining, as well as intense to write. It’s become a part of me now, and maybe it will remain all mine & only mine to the end of time.

Maybe I need life to settle down & be on a reliable routine before I consider doing it…

and who knows when THAT will happen! Right?!

Plan C, D and E~ if there were such a thing~

So I am focused on ‘escape’ stories- to escape into. I like the slow life, the solid foundations, the open frontier of possibility of the Old West.

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Perhaps it’s the strong characters that can face up to anything there, and facing the odds against them, come out the other side. Or maybe it’s the freedom to take a stand wherever it is you find yourself, and the power of taking that chance.

In general, as part of my prepping process, I get all my To-Do’s out of the way first. Having anything hanging overhead waiting just doesn’t let me access the creative flow. Some days this takes most of the day itself. Life is messy, full, sometimes hard, and it needs tending to!

When I can disengage from the ‘practical’ side of things, I write ‘morning pages’ by hand in a notebook. (These may be trashed when the notebook is full). It gets the hand- brain connection into the creative writing ‘function’.

Then I start soft rain sounds (on YouTube) and add to that: whatever song I’m listening to that feeds the mood of the writing (on loop; can’t have music changing while I’m in one scene). The combination creates an amazing ambiance. It sets the essence of being enveloped in a cocoon – away from the world- that allows me to really sink into the world I’m writing. I hope it sends signals to the Unicorn.

Plan Z~

I highly suggest, if you find yourself staring at a blank page, try hand-writing. Hand-writing is a different thing than typing – there’s a different flow to it & it can engage your brain in a different way which may help dislodge a block.

I used to write my entire first draft by hand and then do the first edit as I typed it out -using a type-writer. I could write anywhere that way… This was before the age of keyboards of course, but the strategy is the same.: if you hand-write those first pages – colored ink can make your rough draft look messy like magic.

You can also try different pens for the ‘right’ feel, try different ink-flows (gels perhaps), but be warned: it’s easy to end up going down the “fountain-pen-rabbit-hole”.

On a practical level, maybe use colors that make a statement of their own -for each character, or each scene, or whatever you want to delineate. A lot of people use different colors in their outlining strategy. One color for each character.

Colored ink can make brainstorming easier too,  because you can link your ideas and insights with specific colors for the different subject/topics/categories and easily see patterns across the page to see where priority might lay in those topics.

But in the end, there is no Plan B.

You can try all sorts ways around it, and you can keep yourself busy with the 1000 other things that life lays at your door, but you can’t truly get away from it it; it will haunt you. You MUST write.  If you find yourself stuck at the blank page, try prompts & props & strategies to ease into it, to trick yourself into it… whatever it takes, because if you are a writer, it won’t go away even if you don’t write it down.

A 2-minute vid of Bestselling author Sheri Fink, sharing her personal opinions on the 5 things that make a writer successful:

The Top Five Qualities for Achieving Goals and Finding Success as an Author

Put up by Author Learning Center. (The ALC is an online resource designed to educate, motivate, and support aspiring and experienced authors.)

Can I get you anything? Cup of strong coffee? A nice tea? An ambien? A time-turner to go back just a little bit?

Unicorns for Everyone!

💕 Laureli

The Very Long List to Publication

I’ve finished taking the ‘ol flamethrower to my manuscript after giving it 4 years of attention to detail.  I’m calling it done.

Along the way, the querying process has been it’s own learning curve.  Now’s the fun part… the actual Querying.

Here’s my little list of what all that entails & how I see it. I might have missed something. I definitely didn’t include things like: procrastinate-10-ways-from-Sunday-for-6-months, or paint fingernails, but those are probably NORMAL at some stage of this process…

Write the first draft.

Write the second draft.

Let story sit for 2 months or more so you can read it with fresh eyes.

Rewrite.

Edit.

Get beta readers

Edit again.

Polish.

Call it DONE.

Determine your story’s genre or category.

Launch author platform create a well-written blog and share, teach or entertain – showcase yourself! If nothing else, it proves you can write.

Begin the Querying Process:

Find literary agents.

Read query letter examples.

Write book blurb.

Write book synopsis.

Get ‘comps’. (Books you can kind of compare yours to). It’s very helpful to agents!

Take an author bio pic.

Write your author bio (in 3rd person)

Start next book.

Prepare submission and format manuscript the way THEY want it (no funny fonts…) 

Agonize over each word in your 1-page query letter 10 times. 

Ask yourself 1003 times if you still really want to be a published author, or if you would be satisfied to just keep it to yourself, locked in a drawer for posterity.

Edit the query letter to personalize it for each agent.

Submit 1 query letter. Or 10. Or 100.

Celebrate your bravery & resolve with a shot of Bailey’s Salted Caramel Liqueur AFTER you have sent the query.

Set up a tracking system for queries, agent/agency response times, etc.

Savor any real responses. Save them in a safe place.

Wait a lonnnnng time.

Continue working on that next book & get some fresh air.

Get a ‘complete manuscript’ request.

Or the first rejection slip…

Get “the phone call”. An agent’s offer of representation!

Work with the agent on ‘Things’. (It’s a mystery). Why does that word look mis-spelled?

Whoo-hoo! The agent got you a publishing contract!

Brag to everyone you know and shout from the rooftop!

Do All The Stuff (recommended re-edits? Publishers recommendation on Title change…)

Wait a while longer.

Get paid a little in advance. Have some real Champagne or something to mark this day!

Approve the COVER! 

It goes to Press. It’s done – published! DO NOT CRY.

Appreciate everyone in the process! Hug a lot of people and send some well-deserved thank-you’s.

Behold, your book!

*See what this feels like: THE FIRST TIME YOU HOLD YOUR OWN BOOK (her experience is shared at the 7:15 mark) by Kristen Martin

Book Launch Party! (Oh yeah, that has it’s own checklist! By god, it should reflect you & the book – while making an amazing memory for all – while sticking to your budget!)

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Ok, you know that I am a writer-still-unpublished, so it goes without saying that I have no idea if all those steps are in the correct order, or what all I may have skipped.  I can only say with certainty that it’s a process.  Agents are clear about what they require and want, so I can’t add to that, but I will pass on the one piece of advice that I’ve taken to heart:   

“don’t even think about giving up until you’ve queried 100 agents”.

If perchance, YOU are also on a quest to get your query out to agents, check these out-

How To Write Query Letters:

… or how to revise query letters so they actually work:  Query Shark

Agent Tracking & Info:

AgentQuery.com

Agent Query Connect Lots of useful info in the forums.

Query Tracker The best place to  keep track of who you want to query/have queried and any responses, etc.

Literary Rambles Their archive of agent profiles is invaluable, especially for the agents who don’t have Publisher’s Marketplace listings.

Best of luck to anyone else in the trenches! Please drop a line to share your experience!

♥ ~ Laureli

Procrastination & Staring Down the Blank Page

To get words flowing…

1: set the stage~ the routine ritual, an inviting writing atmosphere to cue the muse [attract the Unicorn…] Lighting, hot coffee!, playlist [sometimes I just play ‘Mandolin Rain’ by Bruce Hornsby, on repeat].

I have a dog at my feet, so NO burning essential oil like everyone else seems to do – it’s just not worth the worry (most of them are toxic to pets!) You know the fur baby comes first. But if I were to use it, I would use a different scented oil for each project- to cue the right mood for each particular focus.

2: Close the web browser, put cup of coffee on a mug-warmer on the desk, fire up that projects’ playlist, get the outline at hand (or a timer to re-read the last bit from where I last left off).

Ta-Da, now it’s flowing!

Nope.

This is that awful reality again.

ME: “it’s time to grab the unicorn by its horn!”

ME: “I’ve been staring at this page for half an eternity.”

ME: “You slay me, you really do.”

ME: “Yeah, but I’m not laughing.”

The struggle is real!

Ok, so the truth is I’m stuck on starting this new story… AND even worse, finishing the Very Last Edit on story #1 (so I can get to the query process) is just not happening.

Because: the inner critic is here.

And it ain’t never leaving.

Where’s that beautiful, ethereal, magical Unicorn when I need it?!

Ok, so what to do? Here are tried and true strategies:

1: Create a Pinterest board to visually describe the (new) character (or chapter or scene you are stuck on).

2: Just write a one-paragraph scene. It doesn’t even have to be related to the piece you’re stuck on. Like a writing prompt, it can help ease you into the flow of writing. Can’t think of a scene?

3: Collect screenshots of the artful video graphics on youtube videos. They are just as good as words are, to act as story prompts prompts! They are sure to get your creative juices flowing!

4: Wait until darkness falls. Or get up at 4am. When the house is quiet & the world is hidden in darkness. (This usually works WONDERS!)

5: Pretend you’re writing for just one person. Pick the person. Write for them. (Aw, Aubrey!)

6: Imagine responses from those who will read your work in the future – and how it will affect them (maybe change them)! Make up a page of faux reviews & tape them to the wall. Hmm, what would they say?  

 “God i wish I could read the book again right now!! It was the perfect book to get lost in for three days, have a good cry and emerge cleansed with a heart full of knowing that I am strong enough to carry on.”

“Like a song of hope, brings a ray of sunshine into the world when everyone is being traumatized and or numbed.”

“The writing got straight down to my feelings. I bet the author lived those situations – not pure fiction… Oh, the part that made me cry out loud, my heart ached to up and walk right into the story to wrap my arms around the hero! I had to bake myself a pie for comfort – everything gets back to ‘OK’, with a piece of pie. I shared the pie, and then the book!”

“The words portray a rhythm underlying life so primal it hunted down my soul. I know I’ll never see things the same way again.”

7: Make a character sketch document. Name, photo (likeness) – everything about them you can come up with. Develop that character into someone who will drop down onto the page and live their life there.

8: Go over the little writing rewards you’ve planned for reaching each. little. writing. goal. ……….. WHAT?!  NO REWARDS SET UP TO CLAIM YET?!

Oh hold your horses right there. I know that writing is it’s own reward, but sometimes a little bling, a little glittering thing waiting for you, really motivates.

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If you don’t know what your heart desires, brainstorm a little bit through the office supply & stationary stores, or Hobby Lobby, or Pinterest. Reach out to the internet and I promise you’ll find some trinkets of some kind to tempt you that you would really strive for. If you can’t afford the real thing(s)… come up with suitable alternatives. It’s ok to keep it real.

You are going to make these rewards as real as your story on the page.

Set up a file or document to capture the photo/illustration of your prizes, with the price, and the link. Or just make a picture file for inspiration – or print them out for a vision board you can see every time you sit down at your PC.

Assign the rewards as you reach the goals (and can afford them). I get a beta fish when I get my first agent response! EVEN IF IT’S A REJECTION.

The fishbowl itself is a reward for sending out 6 query letters. I have to research agents (the goal is 6 – I have 3 in mind), then write the synopsis and the queries! Then write the submission email & get up the GUTS to hit ‘SEND’.

Ugh. I must finish this one last edit first!

But wait- the world is upside-down crazy now.

Right, being on Lockdown has changed everything, including income being more unreliable – so I will probably replace this reward with something else TANGIBLE. Maybe something I make out of papier mache’… or maybe I’ll just print out a fishbowl and paste little fishies in it. (That’s one way to put bettas together in one bowl! Because fighting fish are supposed to stay separated in real life).

betta fish

I’m being realistic to a certain point -but you see, the reward will still be mine. Yeah, that’s ok if it’s just a paper fish; it SYMBOLIZES my accomplishment in a tangible way that i can see.  The rewards do not have to be tangible, but should reflect something meaningful.

I also have a little bit of a ‘wish list’ (there are some pricy but very cool keyboards out there…) so I have a few options for THE DAY I GET REPRESENTATION!

Then THE DAY WE SIGN ON WITH A PUBLISHER, and THE DAY MY BOOK GETS PUBLISHED (is this ‘goes to press’?), and the DAY I HOLD MY BOOK IN MY HANDS.

As for non-tangible rewards (remember we’re currently experiencing Lockdown), so… that may take some dedicated brainstorming. Perhaps have a bubble bath while you think on it!

Entertainment activities ~ these days it’s hardly a treat to marathon movies on Netflix, and the smell of popcorn may well give you a headache. Visiting the local pie shop might work if you can just pick up a pie… but a day at the art gallery or museum are OUT… getting gel nails or a mani-pedi are out… in fact even a walk in the park might be out (right now) too.

Maybe hang up those tiny Christmas lights around the inside of the house to provide some bright colorful cheer?

Hmmm, I’m all for baking a pie (or gallette, or hand-pie). Who doesn’t have a can of fruit in the pantry? Uh, nope, not one can of fruit filling in there.

Sigh… This is going to take some work time. Maybe just stick with the virtual list for now! It’s still worthwhile; it’ll turn your frown upside-down, and that’s a good thing.

If all else fails to motivate, know that the blank page is a necessary evil & you’re not alone in facing it. Write about THAT! (Hmm, journal this entire experience for posterity?)

Take heart, know that this too shall pass & you eventually you I WILL overcome.

Writers must write – even if it’s just in their heads!

Just for you, for having come this far… check this out~ ‘Writing the First Words on a New Project’ by Kelsey B. Toney (author of YA novel, “Damsel Distressed”, and who sadly hasn’t posted anything since forever 11 months ago)… but she’s damn good at dramaticizing the writer’s angst with the blank page, and is so worth watching!

Let us be generous with each other & ourselves. Consider leaving a comment sharing what works for you!

♥ ~Laureli

 

Dreaming Little Dreams: The Ideal Writer’s Space

Today I’m just going to share my personal dreamy ideal. I know that some people can write anywhere, and they purposefully go to the library or a park, or the coffee shop, but I’m just talking about a space at home, for those times when you need to be enveloped in your own Enchanted world.

I’m talking about intentionally creating an atmosphere using things- like stage props & painted background murals, or a collection of whatever – that will ‘set the stage’ to get in touch with creativity. Whatever eases you into a creative flow and makes you feel like writing.

They say you should dress for the career you want, and work a space that reflects the business you’re trying to create.

The perfect writing space can make or break my productivity. When I’m surrounded by chaotic surroundings, it just empties my brain of anything resembling a creative flow.

(I also like to be dressed in a work ‘uniform’ of sorts. Dressing for the job, this includes having my nails just right – currently going with a glaze of clear w/ glitter).

I’m a late-night writer, but I like to get started when the afternoon shadows get long. That’s solely for the creative aspect – daytime works for researching, note-taking, all the admin stuff, so the room/space has to be nice!

I like warm lamp light, but in the daytime I like prisms hanging in the window, casting off shiny rainbows.

i.e.:  That scene of the finished stable in Netflix’s “Unicorn Store”- totally what I’m talking about here.

I’ve been inspired by all the Lifestyle Vloggers – they seem to all have the tiny LED light strings going on, the oil diffuser, and some even the Himalayan salt lights. Scented oil only lasts a few minutes til you’re used to it, but I have one of a Chinese Dragon that emits smoke that FALLS like a slow-motion waterfall.

I personally hate wearing headphones but the sound of falling rain, or other mood music, is highly helpful to get into whatever you’re writing, so that should be added for ambiance.

I would also like to make a separate space where I could take a break from writing to paint or do papier mache’.

There are MANY writers online who have showcased their writing spaces, and I highly recommend getting inspired by watching them. Here’s just one to get you started:

Meg Gaw’s 2-1/2minute video:  Manuscript Mondays: My Writing Space

Ok, here’s one more: Humorous person & author, Bree Barton: How to Make a Writing Space / DIY Tutorial 

Here’s my official wish list. Oh yeah, I have a wish list! Don’t you? Come on, let’s see it!

  1. tea lights and Himalayan Salt lamps for moody writing
  2. a desk lamp with a full-spectrum bulb (those emulate natural sunlight and create a more relaxing atmosphere than other types of light).
  3. black-out curtains and embossed sheers (gotta see the weather when it’s raining, foggy or snowing – those are an awesome natural shroud against the outer world!)
  4. essential oil diffuser (no Cookie scents! Don’t do that to yourself, lol).
  5. paintings (+ other wall art – like a Dreamcatcher, and wall-mounted papier mache’ ‘unicorn trophy’). Yes, I slayed that dragon.
  6. a wall mural to meditate on or pick up the mood. Although I am not into the color green, I’d like a misty forest! Pretty sure that’s where the Unicorns hide out.
  7. a painted shelf display of faux books *SEE BELOW
  8. carpet piece (microfiber) for meditation and stretching out
  9. a large floor pillow or two (for leisurely reading)
  10. inspirational stack of lusciously illlustrated ‘coffee table books’ (I recommend horses).
  11. furry pouf beanbag chair/papasan chair or plush chair upholstered in some velvety fabric with a great color (dusky plum, please) w/ cozy blanket – maybe a handmade chunky knit?
  12. a betta fish or two or three (a white one might be ethereal and cool)
  13. a fuzzy faux fur throw – for the dog who keeps my feet warm
  14. a collection of potted plants in glazed pottery (oooh, maybe in aqua!)
  15. a mug-warmer for hot-cocoa, tea, bouillon, or coffee, because you KNOW how you start writing and forget to drink it… when you get that cold liquid it’s HORRIBLE and jars you right out of the story you’re writing!
  16. a large bulletin board for a vision board, or inspirational quotes…and my CHARACTER NAME collection! Oh yeah, we should definitely share our name collections! You have some names tucked away, right?
  17. a couple of motivational coffee mugs (“Do Not Meddle in the Affairs of the Dragon, for You are Crunchy & Good with Ketchup!”)
  18. attractive dedicated storage space for all those query letter responses… or, maybe silver picture frames to mount them onto the wall!
  19. natural rock bookends (if there is ever a real book case/shelf somewhere)
  20. a large dandelion paperweight globe for the desk (my, my, those are not cheap!)

Titles are great for story prompts and have a big impact on the tone I approach my stories with. I’m drawn to book titles with descriptive names like “Torches and Pitchforks”! LOL Even someone who hasn’t read the outline will understand that the story is about something ominous (or whatever).

 My picks for my painted faux book titles:

  1. “Winter Is Coming” …then (the 2nd of the series): “Wolves At The Door”
  • “The Longest Road” (inspired by a song).
  • “The Trees Have Eyes” (inspired by true life, see pic below) 
  • “Song Of The Gael” (the book that wants me to write it, but I am really good at resisting)
  • “Pirates of the Banshee” (a future story?)
  • “Sword Of The Narwhal” (a future story?)
  • “Southwest Ponies” (this would probably NOT be on the shelf tho’, unless it were sideways like a coffee-table book)
  • “The Peddler’s Wagon” (my Great-Depression dream job)
  • “Clouds like Mustangs” (current WIP)
  • “The Unicorn Slayer” (why not?)
  • “Enchanting the Unicorn” (a How-To book?!)
  • “Amerizona” & “Indigo” (2-part series)
  • “Cloud 9” (this would totally be a summer read)
  • “Poetic Justice” (hmm, another Western?)
  • “The Rise of the Fallen” (something really scary!)
  • “Atlantis in Antarctica” (ooooh, a Futuristic History book!)
  • “Here There Be Dragons” (future story?)
  • “The Blank Page Horror” (my version of a Thriller)
  • “Cove of the Golden Mist” (my kid’s book, working Title)
  • “The Why” (because, why not?)
  • “The Moon Is Not Ours; THATS Why We Haven’t Been Back” (doesn’t that give you the heebie-jeebies?)

These are the trees with eyes. I found out that when branches are pruned off of this particular kind of tree, this is how it heals the scar.

One day (hopefully sometime THIS year), I’ll have a space to myself to transform. We’ll see how close I can get to all these dreamy ideals!

For your further inspiration, I’d like to share these….

Writing Studio Inspiration – on pinterest

How Props Help My Writing Process by Christi Corbett. She features her ‘Path to Publication’ story, and short interviews on her blog – of other authors and their stories to publication.  *AND, she includes a very nice (and simple) book trailer!!   I like that she used sepia tones to portray the era of the story (mid-1800’s). I especially like the way the storyline is presented –duh, the point of a trailer… I feel like this is what a QUERY should be/look like… just a summary of the story, the tone of the story and the writing voice should be evident.

 Also, I am NOT jealous!

***If any agents are reading this, please don’t get any bright ideas to change query requirements from written to video trailers. Thanks!

All the best,

♥ ~Laureli

You Lucky Writer!

I went shopping today for just a few things (you know, for the things that are NOT there anymore), and ended up with 2 more cans of stewed tomatoes, enchilada sauce and spaghetti sauce. In case we really do have to eat that pasta and those beans.

A woman wanting flour ended up with a box of Cake Flour at 4x the price, and asked me how I was doing. “Up and down all day, every day!” I responded with a smile. We found ourselves in the same boat, not sure whether to paddle harder (and where to?), or just pull in the oars and drift (where will we end up then?)  It’s easy to succumb to despair and fear with everything being out of our control.

Things are getting real.

Right now, it might seem to be a frivolous past-time to write at all.

Maybe your mood is suppressed (or RUINED), maybe you’re feeling uninspired, worn down, overwhelmed, or feeling “stuck”, because your emotions are up and down and your thoughts are all over the place.

That’s where I’m at most of the time. But lately I’m beginning to remember why I loved writing the Western novel – and how much I would love to go back and live there. There’s no denying that things were harder, but they were much less complex! No Wal-Mart, no internet. You were in charge of acquiring it, raising it, making it, hunting it, curing, salting, drying, storing and baking it, and caring for it on your own.

You’d better think ahead to winter during the springtime and make plans for having enough, even if something went awry. Because that’s what always happened!

For all of us, it’s not the first time things have gone awry, it’s the first time EVERYTHING has gone awry all at once.

We feel out of sorts because we’ve never been down a road like this before. Perhaps it’s not done, taking us down this road, either.

I went to the library to pick up my pre-ordered books & they were CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. It was a disappointment, to say the least. I mean, now how will I get thru all these days of waiting thru? How will I escape into an alternate reality that’s more to my liking?!

Oh, I guess I’ll have to write my own book, for me to read!

Writers have the best gift for these times….

Writers can write ourselves right out of this world and into any other world we want! Is that not the greatest gift?

And then we can launch it, a gift to others, maybe when they need it most.

Speaking of saving ourselves & launching our story worlds… I want to share these ~

💙 Literary Agent Jessica Faust @ Bookends Literary Agency gently offers some tips for writers getting thru these days of social distancing… which I think are timely and thoughtful – I’d gratefully give a roll of toilet paper to Jessica for this. It made my day 632x better.

“Tips for Writing During Tough Times”

 

♥ Also be encouraged by Chris Fox (a very cool dad, Sci-Fi writer & artist, and Vlogger for fellow writers):

“Adapt & Overcome”

Make Your Writing An Oasis

♥ Here’s an author who rides in on YouTube to take us into the story world… During the current lockdown (in a growing number of places), award winning children’s author and illustrator, Shoo Rayner, is vlogging his children’s stories (he has over 200 so far), and sharing illustration tips too.

I am sprinkling some Unicorn Glitter Shoo’s way!

eagle for watermark

The Winter is long. WE need our stories, and the world NEEDS our stories! ESPECIALLY IN HARD TIMES. Bleak times. When the sky is gray and the outlook is never-ending cold.

Of course we need educational material. How else can we understand History (and not raise up another generation to repeat follies?)

The best way to showcase and understand a viewpoint or lesson though, is through story. (Even songs are often stories).

How else can we make the most of what we have and excel as we develop into ourselves?

How else can we learn about how things work, the inner workings of systems and of people themselves, so that we can protect ourselves and expand humanity’s promise?

I wish we could be born knowing everything we need to know to make the most of this life.

I wish we could turn back time and allowed a “re-do”, to do things better & erase our regrets.

I wish others, those we care about most, would heed our words and wagging finger – to avoid pain: learn the lessons we learned the hard way.

But have you noticed, none of those come true, ever?

Stories are our hope that the sun will come out & the sky will be blue again… we will overcome!

eagle taken 12 17

Write. It’s heroic! Never give up. Hang tight, stay loose, and breathe.

♥ ~Laureli

The Query Dragon

I started drafting a dragon painting today.

Despite the shark teeth, it’s not too scary. And how serious can you take something if it’s done on a piece of cardboard? I’m hoping the texture of the cardboard will lend it a scaly look.

(Still in progress)

I’m working on everything I think a writer could use to look more like an author (legit) on the web. Like an office space fit for a serious writer – and that requires Unicorn glitter. And a cool/interesting background for an author bio photo (which will show up someday when I’m DONE with all that)… which requires at least one Unicorn.

I am caught between ideas and dividing my writing time between many projects. Trying to balance everything can be a difficult thing to do.

Someday all the time-consuming things will be worth it. Maybe I will hear something like this:

“When viewing your art/reading your story, I feel like I’ve entered into another reality that I find refreshing; it brings me joy.”

“And your studio is fantastic, dreamy and inspiring!”

Ah, so I cling to some dreams. My story is written! It’s finished! Yet you can see it’s such a long road to publication even at this point.

And having an element of Unicorn glitter gives me the motivation to keep going. Like a writing ritual, a writing space can be useful in setting the mood you need -getting in the right place mentally – to write.

Because it can’t be dark and stormy every day.

Instead of snow today, it was rain-stormy. PERFECT for writing! But instead of doing creative work… I’ve been looking for things to do while procrastinating my query work.

If I can create my own atmosphere, by adding a certain flair, or Bling – that makes me want to stay in the writing space then it’s worth it.

Right?

Blood, ha-ha, Tears, ha-ha…

I’m gearing up to conquer the nausea the courage to work on my query some more, while watching dear Elle Everhart’s Vlog as she goes thru this process. She writes humorous contemporary romance novels. She’s as good as a handful of glitter.

Instead, of watching the news – I am SO NOT watching the news- I pulled up my calendar of annual spring household goals to see what’s coming up that I might want to start early… like edit and print out the best of “old barn– deer–mountain” photos – for my annual wall calendar.

Thursday, March 19th will be the 1st day of Spring this year. I like to celebrate with a salad, a quiche, and a Mimosa. (I can hardly ever finish a drink, but it doesn’t keep me from trying several times a year.) Got the salad recipes out…maybe I will try this one: fresh dandelion greens (or butter lettuce if I must buy something), scallions, radish, toasted pine nuts, red grapes and golden raisins. Or golden apple.  With Champagne dressing.

Ok, I might make time to do the things on my perpetual seasonal list, but they are on the back-burner this year, as I am busy with said query work. I’ve been glad for the time to devote to it this winter, but dang it, Spring is coming and I’m getting itchy to start working on a NEW writing project! The book I’m sending queries out for is part 1 of a 2 part series (of course it can stand-alone).

But I MUST get this query done (and out of the way)!

It’s like a weight, a monster… a DRAGON, flying overhead. It feels like it will devour me.

And so, the dragon painting.

I slayed the Unicorn, I shall slay THIS dragon!

Come slay with me!

♥ ~Laureli

Yep, it took me close to an hour to write this tiny little bit. But a little glitter goes a lonnnnnnnnnng way.  Sometimes i could really use some.

[Confetti + Glitter = Unicorn  Magic].