Archive | Savannah J Foley RSS feed for this section

Coming ‘Out of the Closet’ as a Writer

2 Jun

by

Savannah J. Foley

~~~

I was 10 when I first thought that I wanted to be a writer. Previously I’d only wanted to be an astronaut. But I didn’t actually start calling myself a writer until I was 16 and had completed my first novel.

At that point, I had no agent (I didn’t even know what a literary agent was), and no real hope/chance at publication. But I had written an entire novel and received positive feedback on FictionPress, and at that point I felt confident enough that I would dedicate the rest of my life to writing. Therefore, I decided it was time to call myself a writer.

Privately.

I didn’t take public ownership of the word until years later. I had to feel confident enough in my knowledge, and secure in my dedication to writing before I felt comfortable admitting I was a writer already. My worst fear was telling someone I was a writer and having them give me that Look. You know the Look. The one that says “Yeah, right” or “You can’t be a writer. You’re too young/inexperienced.”

Every now and then I hear on the internet about young writers deciding to announce to friends and family that’s what they are. If you’re in that place right now, then this post is for you. Announcing your dream is scary. Scary because what if it never happens for you? What if it turns out you’re not any good? What if someone says there’s no way YOU could ever be a writer?

When I first started publicly owning up to being a writer, these were my fears. However, as more time went on, the more surprised I became that no one tried to ‘call me out’ or sound the alarm that I might be an imposter because I wasn’t published yet. Instead I was met with enthusiasm and curiosity. This led to greater confidence, which lead to me not being so afraid of admitting it; rinse, repeat.

But recently something happened to shake my confidence. I was offering advice to someone seeking a critique in an online forum, and at the end of my suggestions I added, ‘I’ve been writing for seven years, if you were interested in my qualifications.’ A different user responded to me, saying, ‘In what capacity have you been a “writer” for the past seven years? All of the writers I know were copy writers before they got into fiction.’

For a moment I saw red. This was the exact attitude I had feared to encounter. In this person’s eyes, all of my work and effort over the years was worth exactly nil, because I didn’t fit his standard of being a writer.

Do you have to be published to be a ‘writer’? No, you have to be published to be an author.

Do you have to write every day to be a writer? No, but if you’re taking year-long breaks in-between it might be time to either dedicate or look for a new hobby.

Do you have to be making most of your money from writing to be a writer? Of course not.

Do you have to work as a technical or copy writer before daring to jaunt into fiction? Hell no.

There’s not a definable point at which you become a writer. You become a writer when you’re ready to own the word, when you feel confident that your writing habit isn’t going to change, that this is something you want to dedicate yourself towards.

Do I feel more legit as a ‘writer’ because I have a literary agent now? Yes. But with these standards of qualification comes a lot of doubt; should I therefore feel like more of a writer than an unagented writer, but less of a writer than a published writer, and way less of a writer than a multi-pubbed writer?

No. You’re not more or less of a writer because of where you are in your publishing journey. The market changes, book deals come and go, but all you can really control is the quality of your books. So write what you want to write, make it the best you can make it, and own up to being a writer. 🙂

…Of course, I should warn you that a lot of people will try to tell you about the memoir/fiction novel they’ve always wanted to write. Just smile and nod. Then go home and write, because hey, that’s what you do.

~~~

What is your ‘coming out’ story like? How did people react when you first told them  you were a writer?

~~~

Savannah J. Foley is the author of the Nameless (originally known as Woman’s World) series on Fictionpress and is signed with the Bradford Literary Agency. Her website is www.savannahjfoley.com, but she updates more frequently on her livejournal. She is currently working on editing Nameless to go out on submissions. You can read an excerpt from Nameless here.

Advertisements

Can’t Lose It

30 May

by

Savannah J. Foley

~~~

How confident are you that you’re a writer? That you’re meant to be a writer, or that it’s all you want to do?

I’m very confident –when I’m writing. When I’m in cycles that I don’t write, however, my confidence starts to slip. I start thinking all these defeatist thoughts: Writing is so hard, it’s taking so long, the issues in this manuscript are insurmountable, etc.

I’ve felt like this a lot lately. May 15th was the 7-year anniversary of finishing the first draft of my novel NAMELESS. And I’m still in revisions.

Oh, there were times during this 7 year period that I thought I was finally done. But even after ‘done’ was declared something would happen that made either me or my agent decide that a little more work was needed. More recently, a lot of work.

I converted a trilogy into a single book and sent it off. It came back with a thumbs up on the new plot, but a thumbs down on the voice. My character was still clinging to her adult persona; I need to fully let her go and be a teenager. Susan recently did a wonderful post on how to revise, step-by-step, and though I thought her article was brilliant, and I’ll definitely use it for future novels, I’m at a point with NAMELESS where even Sooz’s brilliant methods can’t help. This is a voice issue. That means every single sentence has to be examined, and I need to determine if it stays or needs to be fixed. In a 110k manuscript, that’s a lot of sentences.

The task was (and still is) daunting. So after about five chapters of revisions, I just… stopped. Oh, I had good excuses. My laptop finally failed. My new laptop didn’t have Word on it. A tornado hit and the power was out for a week. I was on vacation. I was busy working, going to the gym, cooking, cleaning, reading, and watching Game of Thrones.

And through it all I kept thinking, ‘what if it will never be good enough?’ What if I can’t do this? What if this story will never come together right? What if it’s broken?

What if I’m not really a writer?

What would happen if I gave up right now? Left LTWF, shut down my blog and Twitter account and just… lived a normal life for a while. Tried to forget that I ever called myself a writer. Stepped out of the rushing stream that is the writing industry and laid by the shore.

I knew what would happen: I would be a quitter. A coward. I could not let that happen.

I finally buckled down and decided I would just get used to using Open Office until I can afford Word. I would let the house dirty itself and scrounge around for dinner and not go to the gym if I had to. But I had to start writing again, even if I felt like a failure.

Something magical happened.

I’ve read the first few chapters of my novel probably a thousand times, in all its different forms. I love the beginning. If writing a novel is like polishing a rough stone, then the beginning has been touched so many times that it’s a sparkling diamond. I always re-read my first few chapters to get back in the ‘mood’ of the novel, and psych myself up to keep working.

NAMELESS did not disappoint.

Suddenly I felt this rushing, like an invisible wind from the universe was rustling inside me, filling me up with all the faith and sense of ‘rightness’ I would ever need. Of COURSE I could do this. Of COURSE this is the right thing for me to do in my life. I was meant for this. I belong to this. To quote, writing is the one thing in the world that, when I’m doing it, I don’t think I should be doing something else.

And I remembered that this had all happened before. I go through cycles of not working, letting my manuscript’s problems settle and take root in my subconscious. And every time I decide I’m ready and go back to work again I get that magical feeling that lets me know I’m doing the right thing.

I feel like an instant writer again.  So if you’ve stepped away from your novel and are questioning whether it’s even worth the effort to go back, if you’re discouraged and tired and wondering if it’s all worth it, just try reading a bit of what you’ve already done. Soon you’ll be wrapped up inside your story and then you won’t want to stop. You’ll want to keep creating and growing your project until it reaches the shining conclusion.

While my agent had a few sample chapters of NAMELESS, I worked on my next novel, a sleeping beauty retelling. Then, with this memorial weekend giving me the perfect opportunity to stay home and write, I wrote 6,000 words on Saturday, 4,000 words yesterday, and finished the manuscript. It felt good to finish a long project, but even better than that, I felt relief at refreshing my faith in myself. If I could crank out word levels like that, then obviously I was good enough to hack it.

In conclusion, sit down. Eliminate Distractions. Write your story.

~~~

Savannah J. Foley is the author of the Nameless (originally known as Woman’s World) series on Fictionpress and is signed with the Bradford Literary Agency. Her website is www.savannahjfoley.com, but she updates more frequently on her livejournal. She is currently working on editing Nameless to go out on submissions. You can read an excerpt from Nameless here.

What Oprah Likes: Anathema or Must-Have?

16 May

by Savannah J. Foley

~~~

I recently saw someone online who could be classified as a ‘hipster’, ranting about how he would never read anything on Oprah’s book list, and looked down on those who do.

Now, we all know the stereotype: Suburban housewife who loves soap operas and celebrity gossip shows, crying when she watches Lifetime and breathlessly waiting for the next book in Oprah’s book club to be announced so she can meet up with her fellow soccer moms for ‘book club’ and complain about how they haven’t had time to read that week’s chapter.

But that stereotype isn’t true for a lot of readers. So why, when I was writing my review of  A MOUNTAIN OF CRUMBS, did I choose to decline to mention that Oprah had listed it as one of ’10 to Watch For’ in her magazine, O, in February 2010?

Is an endorsement from the queen of daytime television a prize or an albatross?

Let’s take a look at other books Oprah has recommended:

  • The Good Earth, by Pearl S. Buck
  • Night, by Elie Wiesel
  • Middlesex, by Jeffrey Euginedes
  • A Million Little Pieces, by James Frey
  • The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison

What’s so special about these five books? I’ve read them. I enjoyed them. The Bluest Eye is even one of my most favorite books of all time.

So… do I lose my street cred for this? (Do writers even have street cred?)

What if I told you that she’d also recommended The Hunger Games, in a list of books to steal from your teenager? Along with The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Number the Stars, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and Hatchet?

The woman has an eye for good quality fiction, no doubt about it. So the argument isn’t ‘why would you read any of the crappy books on Oprah’s list’ but rather ‘why would you read something that’s so popular Oprah endorses it?’

In essence, why are you so mainstream?

‘Mainstream’ has a negative connotation. It means ‘everyone’s doing it.’ It’s popular. It’s easily accessible.

It’s… bad?

Recently I was reading in the New Yorker -Oh, side note: I get the New Yorker. Does that make me pretentious? Or is it such a popular magazine that it makes me mainstream? Does it matter that I got a wicked deal on my subscription, $25 for one magazine a week for the whole year, or I never would have signed up? Does it matter if that matters?

Anyway, I was reading an article in the New Yorker explaining the phenomenon of hipsters, and the author gave a definition/origin I hadn’t heard before: Hipsterism came about when individuals made an effort to partake of a culture that wasn’t mass-manufactured, that felt more organically developed and authentic.

And, you know, I get that attitude. Don’t create me a product line to tell me what I’m going to be into next. I’d much rather figure out what I’m into on my own.

But then the hipster movement turned into a quest to find things that no one else knew about; to be ‘into’ something before every other alternative-seeker was into it, because at that point the product would be mass-manufactured and become ‘mainstream’.

But books aren’t mass-manufactured. Not in terms of ideas. A team of executives doesn’t get together and get market data for their target consumer and pay a team of engineers a lot of money to design an appealing product (unless you work for James Frey). No, each book starts out as a love project, a spark of inspiration in the writer’s mind. Are there trend-chasers? Sure. But you can tell which books chased a trend, can’t you? No one’s going to put them on a Top 10 list.

So I’m not sure that books should fit into a hipster’s worldview on mainstreamism. Oprah didn’t design the books to appeal to her audience; she selected beautiful, humanity-filled, enriching works of art.

So nobody should feel ashamed to be reading something on Oprah’s list. Personally, when I see a book with an Oprah’s choice sticker, I get an immediate impression about the book: it’s good.

But why take pride in reading only Oprah’s choices, or reading only Oprah’s non-choices? Just read what you like, and if you have a source that weeds out a lot of flak for you, more power to you.

What do you think? Should who else likes books that you like affect your opinion of a book?

~~~

Savannah J. Foley is the author of the Nameless (originally known as Woman’s World) series on Fictionpress and is signed with the Bradford Literary Agency. Her website is www.savannahjfoley.com, but she updates more frequently on her livejournal. She is currently working on editing Nameless to go out on submissions. You can read an excerpt from Nameless here.

Book Recommendation: A Mountain of Crumbs, by Elena Gorokhova

13 May

by Savannah J. Foley

~~~

A MOUNTAIN OF CRUMBS is everything a memoir should be… beautiful, insightful, and transportive. It tells the story of young Elena growing up in Soviet Russia, her fascination with the west, and her efforts to create opportunities for herself despite a culture irrevocably entangled in The Game, called vranyo:

“My parents play it at work, and my older sister Marina plays it at school. We all pretend to do something, and those who watch us pretend that they are seriously watching us and don’t know we are only pretending.”

AMOC takes the reader into the heart of Soviet Russia and plunks you down just before the author herself is born, so that we get a feel for her resilient, military doctor mother, and the struggles she endured to not only marry a husband who wouldn’t eventually die in the war, but care for her village which had no birthing center -until her mother wrote to Stalin himself for permission to set one up in her own apartment.

Like mother, like daughter. Elena was strong growing up, despite several mishaps that intimately portray what life was actual like in that place and time. That was what I loved best about this memoir; not only is it a story, but it’s an immersion and an explanation, a psychological peek into a culture far removed from my own.

Though Elena has lived in the United States for decades now, she still channels the perspective of her childhood and adolescence perfectly. She is the gateway, the translator, showing us something completely different while explaining it in ways we can relate to.

As an example of this different perspective, when Elena is a teenager she works for a tour agency that takes visiting foreigners on carefully structured and scripted tours of her city. The Russia the foreigners see is not the one that actually exists; with guards on street corners and lines for toilet paper beneath signs praising the Socialist Party.

One boy tries to give her a gift to thank her for her help during his visit, but from the gift shop he selects a beautiful silver bracelet. In the boy’s eyes he is giving her something pretty and special; a gift he would give a girl back home. A gift a girl back home would be delighted with.

But to Elena, the bracelet is a symbol of the freedoms he has that she does not. As a tour guide, she is allowed to enter the gift shop with her charges, but she may not purchase anything from it. No Russian can; the gift shop is part of the tour’s facade. It was created to show foreigners that Russians have nice things, but it’s all a sham, part of the vranyo. Besides, what good would a silver bracelet do Elena? She’d rather have a book, or a new pair of pantyhose. Those are the status symbols of her culture, not beautiful bracelets no one is even allowed to buy.

It’s not just the different perspective that I loved, however. Elena’s work is poetic, especially in the beginning as she describes the yellow waters on the shore of her family’s summer home, or the vivid imaginings her young mind produces as a result to every threat: Her father’s near-death on a fishing trip, monsters threatening from every dark corner, and the scents and textures of her grandmother’s garden. This was my favorite passage from the book:

“The o‘s in the Russian word for whirlpool, vodovorot, rolled down his tongue like a handful of peas.”

Billy Collins former U.S. Poet Laureate, of whom I’m a huge fan, even agreed to blurb this book, saying, it is “the Russian equivalent of Angela’s Ashes.”

The only thing I didn’t like about this book was that it ended! We follow Elena through to her marriage to an American in order to get a passport (a mutual decision), but shortly afterwards the book ends. I can’t wait for the sequel to be written so we can see how she reacts to America.

If you enjoy memoirs (like me!), or if you’re curious about Soviet Russia (especially if you like Russian fairy tales and want a bigger insight into the culture that produced them), I highly recommend picking up A MOUNTAIN OF CRUMBS, from Simon and Schuster.

Elena Gorokhova is represented by Molly Friedrich, of the Friedrich Agency.

~~~

Savannah J. Foley is the author of the Nameless (originally known as Woman’s World) series on Fictionpress and is signed with the Bradford Literary Agency. Her website is www.savannahjfoley.com, but she updates more frequently on her livejournal. She is currently working on editing Nameless to go out on submissions. You can read an excerpt from Nameless here.

When Your S.O. Misinterprets Your Actions as a Writer

9 May

by Savannah J. Foley

~~~

The other day I was looking up character names in a baby names website (something we all do, I’m pretty sure), and I got to thinking about how what I was doing could be misinterpreted by my boyfriend. Afterwards, I came up with the following list of scenarios that a boyfriend unfamiliar with writers might encounter with his new writer girlfriend. It’s mostly silly, but maybe you’ll laugh at one or two. 🙂

~~~

1. You leave your computer up on a webpage of baby names.

Misinterpretation: OMG she’s pregnant! Or she wants to have my children and is already planning out their names. Is this a hint? Was I supposed to find this?!

What Really Happened: You were using the list of baby names to find the most awesome name ever for your new character.

2. You talk to yourself out loud, in different voices.

Misinterpretation: You just went into full-blown metal disorder mode, a la A Beautiful Mind.

What Really Happened: You were just plotting really hard and accidentally vocally acted out some of the characters you were working on. It’s normal, really.

3. He catches you mock-strangling, -stabbing, or -shooting an imaginary victim.

Misinterpretation: You’re homicidal and you’re practicing for killing him.

What Really Happened: You were -again- acting out a scene in your book to get a feel for the actions and emotions. Totally normal.

4. Your browser history shows searches for “the perfect murder” and “poisons without antidotes.”

Misinterpretation: Surely this time you’re out to get him.

What Really Happened: Nope. Still figuring out plot details for your murder mystery subplot.

5. You stock up on chocolate.

Misinterpretation: You’re PMSing.

What Really Happened: Not this time. You hit a tricky part in your manuscript, and need some chocolate to get through it. Or you submitted something and are anxiously awaiting a reply.

6. You stop showering and suddenly avoid spending time with your S.O.

Misinterpretation: You’re trying to convince him to break up with you because you’re too chicken to do it yourself.

What Really Happened: You’re working hard on a deadline and literally forgot to shower/spend every waking minute working on your project.

7. You suddenly start spending more time “at the library” or “at a coffee shop.”

Misinterpretation: You’re cheating on him!

What Really Happened: You were just trying to give him some space since apparently your every action means you’re insane and trying to cause harm. This was your way of getting out of the house and having the time/space to, once again, focus on your project.

8. You start visiting thrift stores and “alternate fashion” stores.

Misinterpretation: You’re becoming a dirty hippie. You’re an artsy person, it had to happen sometime, right? This would also explain the no-showering thing.

What Really Happened: You’re researching styles of a particular decade.

9. You ask his cop uncle a lot of complex and detailed questions about law enforcement.

Misinterpretation: You’re considering a career change into law enforcement.

What Really Happened: Absolutely not! It’s just research! It’s ALWAYS research!

10. You change your degree from English or Creative Writing to something more mainstream, like Business & Management, or Computer Sciences.

Misinterpretation: Surely this time it’s a sign of giving up the dream, right?

What Really Happened: No, you just realized you don’t have to have the degree to be able to write well, so what’s the point? Might as well have a backup.

11. He catches you practicing your smile and posing in the mirror.

Misinterpretation: You’re an imaginative person, and so therefore you were pretending to be a movie star, for research, right?

What Really Happened: Actually you were just practicing for your author shot.

12. You sneak into your room on tiptoe, not making a sound.

Misinterpretation: He’s with the program now. He concludes you’re pretending to be a cat. For research. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

What Really Happened: …Actually, you were trying to see if your leftover toys from childhood move and talk when you’re not in the room. What? Writers never truly lose their inner child! Plus you saw Toy Story 3 recently, and, well… it was worth a shot.

~~~

Savannah J. Foley is the author of the Nameless (originally known as Woman’s World) series on Fictionpress and is signed with the Bradford Literary Agency. Her website is www.savannahjfoley.com, but she updates more frequently on her livejournal. She is currently working on editing Nameless to go out on submissions. You can read an excerpt from Nameless here.

Fandom – Lady Gaga Parody of Paparazzi

5 May

by Savannah J. Foley

~~~

Firstly, it’s been a weird week. Bin Laden was killed, Prince William and Kate Middleton got married, and north Alabama was ravaged by tornadoes. It’s weird to think that the area I live in is now considered a ‘Disaster Zone.’ My family and I are fine, but we were without power for 5 days (except for the three where I skipped town and went to Disney World, lol). At one point during the storm I was huddled in the bathtub with my cat and my laptop, which really shows you my priorities. But I was NOT going to let my stories get destroyed; if they went I was going too.

Anyway, the power outage was not only sad and stinky, but agonizing because I’m in the middle of revisions on Nameless. I was also in the middle of working on a special side project, which I am pleased to be able to share with you today. It’s a parody of the Lady Gaga song Paparazzi called Fandom. The parody is about a writer’s fandom and their dedication to the writer’s work. I wrote the lyrics and -eep!- sung the song. Hopefully it’s not too terrible.

For a long time I have thought about writing and singing songs for writers – songs about inspiration, editing, writer’s block, etc. However, I lack the vocal talent and I don’t play any instruments, so that project has pretty much been postponed indefinitely. Parodying is my way of reaching out, of bonding both with the original creator and my intended audience (in my imagination). Let’s just say that a lot of my car rides are dedicated to singing and coming up with parody lyrics about writing 🙂

I hope you enjoy this, and also that I don’t make your ears bleed.

…I’m only half-joking.

-Savannah

~~~

~~~

We are the fans
We’re making a stand
Got my blog on, it’s true
We’re all supporting you

It’s so magical
Your words are fantastical

At your release day
You’ll be amazed at our sway
A million sold overnight
You’ll cry at the sight

We’re your devotees
As long as you make books to read
Cause you know that baby we

[Chorus] We’re your biggest fans
And we all support your work in tandem
Fa-an, Fa-a-andom
You’ll be a best seller
Your success will not be random
Fa-an,-Fa-a-andom
Promise I’ll be true
Go to your signings until I meet you
Don’t know if you know
So I’m sending out this memorandum
Fa-an, Fa-a-andom

I’ll be that fan
Converting woman and man
Make them buy all your books
Cause you’re words have me hooked

In between release dates
You know that I can hardly wait

We’d kill for your ARCs
We drew you tons of fan art
From your work can’t be apart
You know in all of our hearts

We’re your devotees
And we love all your trilogies
Cause you know that baby we

[Chorus]

Waiting
In line at the bookstore
Flip through
Your latest hardcover
Can’t stop
Until we’re done
Your books are all
So! Much! Fun!

[Chorus]

~~~

Savannah J. Foley is the author of the Nameless (originally known as Woman’s World) series on Fictionpress and is signed with the Bradford Literary Agency. Her website is www.savannahjfoley.com, but she updates more frequently on her livejournal. She is currently working on editing Nameless to go out on submissions. You can read an excerpt from Nameless here.

The Greatest Series You’ve Never Read

26 Apr

by Savannah J. Foley

~~~

GAME OF THRONES. The title is in the air. The four-book-long (and soon to be five) series called A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE from George R. R. Martin was recently turned into a (fairly fantastic) HBO series, and since then everyone’s been talking about the books: when is the next one coming out, why has it been so long of a wait (7 years!), the subculture fandom, and even the people who stalk Martin to complain about him not writing.

For a series so huge, you’d think that we’d all have read it already, or at least have heard of it. But until a few months ago I never had. How can that be possible? I’m an avid reader. In high school I read two books a day! I’m a fantasy fan. I hung out with people who are fantasy fans, as well! WHY didn’t anyone tell me about this fantastic series sooner?!

That’s the point of today’s post. If you’ve never heard about GAME OF THRONES, or if you have and are curious to learn more, or even if you’ve heard and think it’s not for you, let me tell you about it and hopefully convince you to run out right NOW and buy the book!

 ~~~

First of all, the series is classified as high fantasy, but it is NOT boring, dusty, or nerdy. It’s beautiful, violent, sexy, surprising, and witty. When I first heard the generic description: multi-POV, war-based, 700 pages, etc., I thought to myself ‘Greeaaat. This is going to take months and I’ll have to skip a lot of chapters.’ Not to offend, but I was expecting Tolkien.

Boy was I wrong. I could (and have) sat and read all day, as fast as I could, absolutely dying to find out what was going to happen next. The multiple POVs was rarely taxing or boring; most often I would be exasperated that the next chapter wouldn’t continue where the previous left off, yet at the same time thrilled to return to a previous character. These books are an excellent example of multiple POVs done right.

As for the plot itself, again, the basic description did nothing for me: a clash of great houses, all trying to claim (or reclaim) the throne of the Seven Kingdoms. Meh. But then I got to know the characters. The deal with this story is that, for all its sweeping plot, it’s a character-driven story. I care what happens because these characters are fascinating and entertaining. They plot and love and lose their tempers, both betray and are betrayed, sacrifice and thieve. And I was rooting for them at every turn. The most interesting about this multiple perspectives is that we follow people on all sides of the clash, and can’t be quite sure who we want to win.

Is it the Stark family, protectors of the North, whose six children all claim direwolves as pets, scattered to the four winds and trying to find each other in a maze of battles, imprisonment, and uneasy alliances? Arya, the little girl who passes for a boy to stay safe, wielding her own sword and fighting with rocks when she has to, Sansa the beauty, caught in a court of lies and cruelty, trying to survive without being forced to betray her family, Bran, the young boy who slips into his wolf’s skin, Robb, who might be king if he can stay alive, and John Snow, their father’s bastard child, sworn to chaste and life-long service on the Wall, a gigantic barrier barring the North from the South, keeping both wildlings and the mythical Others at bay.

Or are we cheering for the Lannisters, wed to the royal family? Cruel, conniving, incestuous, and murderers, yes, but what about Tyrion, the black sheep of the family, a sarcastic, whoring dwarf alternately trying to protect his family from themselves while holding the kingdom together and wading through the web of lies and secrets of the past. I love Tyrion; he’s tortured and witty, brilliant and jaded, yet oddly naïve in the matters of the heart. Every time I get to read another of his chapters I nearly burst in excitement, because I know it’s going to be packed full of plot development.

Then we have Daenerys Stormborn, blood of the dragon. Sister of the murdered former King, exiled beyond the sea as a baby, and recently married to a horse-riding barbarian king, she is the rightful heir to the Seven Kingdoms, but struggling to raise her army to return and claim her throne. At fifteen she becomes a queen of barbarians, but the only way to victory is through tragedy, black magic, vast, conquering armies and the rule of threes: Three loves, three betrayals… and three dragons.

In this world, when winter comes it stays for an unknown number of years, but always longer after a long summer. And it has been a very long summer. With the throne up for grabs and five contenders for King (or Queen), the world ignores a plea for help from the Wall. The ancient legend of the Others is proving true: undying snow mages who make the dead walk and only arrive in the dark and cold. And as the Stark family motto says, Winter is Coming.

 ~~~

 If you haven’t yet, you MUST read this series. And then watch the HBO show, because it’s fabulous as well. A word of warning: I had a hard time getting past the prologue in GAME OF THRONES, mostly because I didn’t have a grip on the world yet, but you need to read it because it foreshadows something really important. Additionally, there’s a tragedy that happens early on, but you need to keep reading past it. Just trust me. 🙂 Give yourself five chapters and you’ll be hooked. I promise.

~~~

Savannah J. Foley is the author of the Nameless (originally known as Woman’s World) series on Fictionpress and is signed with the Bradford Literary Agency. Her website is www.savannahjfoley.com, but she updates more frequently on her livejournal. She is currently working on editing Nameless to go out on submissions. You can read an excerpt from Nameless here.

Book Cook Episode 1: A Novel Creation

21 Apr

by Savannah J. Foley

~~~

Hey guys, today I thought I’d do something a little different and post this cooking show parody I call Book Cook; where we show you how to ‘cook’ a concept. Today I’m baking a novel. Watch to see how it’s done 🙂

PS: The video/audio quality isn’t the greatest, but I just got a new Macbook so the next one will be awesome!

[youtube.com/watch?v=uVq1RIDyi5M]

~~~

If you could cook a concept, what would you make?

~~~

Savannah J. Foley is the author of the Nameless (originally known as Woman’s World) series on Fictionpress and is signed with the Bradford Literary Agency. Her website is www.savannahjfoley.com, but she updates more frequently on her livejournal. She is currently working on editing Nameless to go out on submissions. You can read an excerpt from Nameless here.

Mistaken Newbie Writer Beliefs

7 Apr

by Savannah J. Foley

~~~

I have been a noob. Or, as I have often seen it called, a ‘huge, flailing noob.’ Now, I’m still pretty new to the writing business in general, despite having written over six complete manuscripts, having an agent for two years, and of course being a part of this blog. I don’t have a publishing deal, and obviously I’m not an old veteran, but there’s a difference between ‘new to the industry’ and ‘noob to the industry’, and I have definitely been a noob. Noob is unaware there even IS an industry.

I see a lot of mistaken beliefs out here on the internet, so despite the fact that I’m not the world’s greatest expert on writing and the writing business, I was hoping to use today’s post to clarify some of the most common mistaken beliefs,  in an effort at educating all those ‘huge, flailing’ noobs out there:

Mistaken Newbie Belief #1: I am God’s Gift to Publishing

Sigh. I’m guilty of this one. Without a peer group of writers at a young age, I thought I was probably the best, youngest writer of all time (OF ALL TIME!). Clearly that was not so. But it’s something I see over and over: new writers think they’re the best ever. And they lack the perspective to see that their writing actually needs a lot of work.

So if you think  you’re probably, like, at LEAST in the top 10 greatest writers of all time, you might want to step back and reconsider.

Mistaken Newbie Belief #2: My Work Will Be Stolen

I see this on the internet a LOT, and I experienced it first hand during the meet-ups for NaNoWriMo.

Listen very closely: No professional in the industry is going to steal your work. Seriously. Agents and editors are SWIMMING in writing. They have editing and agenting to do; they’re not going to steal your work and pass it off as their own. Then they’d actually be responsible for revisions and promoting and detailed analysis of characterization, and I promise you that they all believe that’s a job best left up to the writer.

Now, will people plagiarize your work if you post it online? Absolutely sometimes. Some of our own LTWF members have been plagiarized by users taking their stories and posting it somewhere else under a different name. Whether or not to post your work online is a big debate, with lots of good points on both sides, but again I say that editors and agents are extremely unlikely to try and pass your work off as their own, so don’t be afraid to query. Not for that reason, anyway.

Mistaken Newbie Belief #3: I Have to Copyright My Work

This ties right into what I said above. It’s a common misconception that you have to manually copyright your work or else it doesn’t belong to you. I even wrote an article about an encounter with a young writer who believed she had to mail her manuscript to herself before attempting to get it published.

(Confession: I emailed Nameless to myself. It was like 5 years ago, shut up).

The truth? Once you create something, you own it. You hold the legal copyright for it, whether you put that obnoxious little (c) sign by it or not (Pro tip: do NOT put the copyright sign in your query letter or anywhere on your manuscript when you query. It screams ‘noob’).

Mistaken Newbie Belief #4: The Bigger the Book the More Publishers Will Love It/The More Genres I Combine the Better

Who hasn’t fallen in love with the phrase ‘sweeping epic’? Who hasn’t once thought ‘omg my SciFi/Detective/Romance/Literary novel is going to be a game-changer!

The truth is that, though there are very minor exceptions, you need to stick to the word count acceptable for your genre, you need to actually HAVE a genre (something I still guiltily struggle with to this day), and the likelihood that your book combining two opposing genres will be a game-changer is about nil.

Here’s the thing about books that combine genres: No one knows where to put them on the bookshelf at the bookstore. And that’s a huge problem for agents, editors, and booksellers. If they can’t figure out how to market you, they won’t buy you. Period.

Mistaken Newbie Belief #5: My Book Will Appeal to Everyone

Could literally everyone who is literate read your book and probably not hate it? Yes. But that doesn’t make the world your audience. An audience is the people you target with your books, and the demographic that will most enjoy them. It’s not the diverse types of people who would, if waiting in a doctor’s office, pick up your book off the coffee table and be able to pass the time with it while they wait. Figure out your audience.

Mistaken Newbie Belief #6: Publishing is Dead/Publishing is Out to Get Me/I’ve Been Blacklisted/I’m Too Good for Traditional Publishing

I’m not an agent. I don’t see nearly the number of queries and complaints that agents do. But I see a few. In my experience, people who claim that the industry doesn’t understand them/isn’t worthy of them/won’t take the time to see that they’re sitting on a gold mine, are… bad writers.

Yeah, I said it. If no one will take your work, maybe it’s not that Publishing is a Good Ol’ Boys club, maybe it’s that your work isn’t ready yet. Keep trying.

Mistaken Newbie Belief #7: I Don’t Need an Agent

Yes you do. Yes, you do. YES, you DO. And this article by an Editor explains why better than I ever will.

Mistaken Newbie Belief #9: My Book Would Be A Great Movie

You should never write a book because you want/hope to see it turned into a movie one day. Writing a book about a story is a great way to NOT get it turned into a movie. Movie rights are complicated, and just because your book gets ‘optioned’ doesn’t mean a movie will ever get made, or that the people who optioned it ever have any intention of seeing it get made. Yes, I’ve heard stories about people who option books just so the movie WON’T ever have an opportunity to get made!

In short, have a great idea for a movie? Write a film script, not a book.

Mistaken Newbie Belief #10: It’s Going To Be Easy/My Book Will Be Out Next Month

Sure, there’s always that one person who writes a book in six months, signs an agent in month seven and sells in month eight. But is any of this easy? No, it’s just fast. Even on this ridiculously short schedule, the book could still take two years to come out.

Personally, I’ve had my agent for over two years, with no sales. Lots of writers (more than you think) sign with an agent for one book, it doesn’t sell, they write another, and that one sells. And it takes years.

Other people query for years to no success. Others don’t even get to the querying stage; they labor for decades on their novel until they feel ready. But even those people who have ‘miracle’ publishing stories still have to put in the time and effort into making a marketable product. They put in  hours over revisions, they brainstorm every spare minute, and they keep up with their day job at the same time. Fast it may be, but easy it is not.

~~~

Any other Mistaken Beliefs you see frequently out there on the internetz? Do share in the comments!

~~~

Savannah J. Foley is the author of the Nameless (originally known as Woman’s World) series on Fictionpress and is signed with the Bradford Literary Agency. Her website is www.savannahjfoley.com, but she updates more frequently on her livejournal. She is currently working on editing Nameless to go out on submissions. You can read an excerpt from Nameless here.

A Fan Letter to YOU

8 Mar

by Savannah J. Foley

~~~

I’m a rock star.

You probably know my story already (because I’m always talking about it, *facepalm*), but let’s make it explicitly clear: Let The Words Flow is a blog whose contributors were previous FictionPress writers, and that includes me. I enjoyed a pretty successful life at FP, and retain some of my fans from that time to this day. I’ve received a decent amount of fan mail, and I gotta be honest, anonymous readers are the people who have said the nicest things to me, ever.

Getting fan mail is like it’s your birthday and you got that one present you’ve always, always wanted but never realistically thought you’d get. Your face instantly brightens into a huge grin, you get the urge to squee and jump up and down, and for an instant all your hard work is worth it, for real. Yes, you knew that the hours spent editing and tweaking and brainstorming meant something, but when you get a fan letter it’s like the universe took a moment to show up and say ‘I definitely agree.’ It’s complete and utter validation.

In short, it’s awesome.

I was very, very lucky to have the experience I did, and I know that not a lot of young writers have it. So, if you’ve never gotten a fan letter before, or if you haven’t had one in a couple years, today is your day.

I’m writing a fan letter to you.

I’m a stalker.

I know that LTWF has devoted readers who visit us every day. You guys read, comment thoughtfully, and engage us in discussions and, occasionally, fangirl-like squeeing. We really, really appreciate you guys.

And we stalk you.

Ha, you thought it would be the other way around, didn’t you? We’re the ones posting, we’re in ‘the public eye’ so to say, and so you’d think we’d be out living our fabulous lives, blogging generously, and not really paying much attention to those peons who comment on our articles, right? Or maybe that’s just how I think of everyone who runs a successful blog… Anyway, the truth is that we’re interested in you. We look you up. We visit your blogs, read your work, and, yes, talk about you. Probably me in particular.

I kind of have a reputation behind the scenes… I’m known as the Stalker. Curious about someone? Bam, I can hand over their blog, second blog, Facebook, Twitter, myspace, FP account, etc. Yeah it’s mostly googling and a little basic detective work, but you get the point. I’m curious. I’m a voyeur. I’m a writer.

So, I can safely say that I know you. A little, anyway. I know about your struggles in school, your worries about editing, about never writing again, about being a fraud, your family trouble, your stress about finals, your stress about picking colleges, your stress about finding a job, your worry that being a writer is so hard and takes so long and you’re going to be poor and anonymous and your stupid characters won’t just tell you what they want, etc.

I know. I’ve been there. I know how hard it is to get it done, and how insecure you feel after. I know what it’s like to struggle silently, unable to really talk about your work with family or friends because they just won’t get it. It’s why you hang out here.

Yes, I know you. And I think you deserve a fan letter of your very own. So here it is, an amalgam of my responses to the stuff I’ve seen on your blogs, your Twitters, and your FictionPress account.

You’re a rock star.

Dear Writer,

I hope you don’t think I’m a total stalker [though I kind of just admitted to you above that I am], but I just wanted to say that I’ve seen you around online, and the other day I happened across your blog where you had a sample chapter of your current novel posted. And I loved it. I couldn’t help writing you to tell you about it.

Seriously, you are SO talented! I kind of had my mouth open in shock that someone so young could have such a powerful grasp on what makes a great story. I was so upset when I got to the end of your sample because I wanted to read MORE right then! I can’t wait until this gets published and I can have a copy of my own.

Honestly, I think I stumbled across your work a few years ago, and I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, but you have improved so much in the past few years. If you ever think your writing is crap, just remember how far you’ve come, and that you’ll only continue to develop. I could really tell you’ve been working hard at getting better at your craft; it shines through in the realistic way your characters interact, and how strong their voices are. I couldn’t stop thinking about your MC after I was done -I was still thinking about them the next day!

I also saw on your blog that you’re going through some tough times, trying to make some big decisions that might have an effect on your writing life. I don’t know you personally, and of course you’ll make the right choice for you, but I just wanted to say that you should definitely not give up on writing, ever. Even if you have to go to school and work at the same time, it’s clear that your heart is in writing, and I know you’ll find a way to make it work someday. You have to. You’re obviously meant to do this.

Just wanted to let you know that I’m cheering for you, and I’ll be first in line when you get a book deal 🙂

Never give up!

Love,

Savannah

~~~

Seriously, if there’s something you’ve been meaning to say to a writer or blogger, professional or not, just say it. If they’re in a slump you will instantly kick them out of it, if they’re having a bad day you will instantly brighten it, and if they’ve been doubting themselves you will instantly cure them. And then they’ll make more of the stuff you like to read. 😛

~~~

Savannah J. Foley is the author of the Nameless (originally known as Woman’s World) series on Fictionpress and is signed with the Bradford Literary Agency. Nameless  is currently out on submissions. Her website is www.savannahjfoley.com, but she updates more frequently on her livejournal. You can read an excerpt from Nameless here.