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Feb. 1, 2016

The Quitting Writer’s Questionnaire

Can't Get Published?

Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk!

How long have you been writing? How long have you been thinking of writing?

I’ve crossed paths with many folks who had the best intentions to write. In fact, some of them have really great ideas, and they talk and talk about their ideas, but some of those potential writers have never put one word on a page.

Hopefully, you’re not that kind of “writer.” You’ve already dived in, head first, and are trying different genres. You play with words like your dog plays with his chew toy. But do you ever get discouraged? Have you tried for years to get published, but you’ve never gotten to first base?

What exactly would it take to get you to stop writing? Do you consider yourself a “writer?”

Let’s take a quickie quiz and see how you measure up to the “Quitting Writer’s Questionnaire.” If you answer yes to more than three of these questions, then maybe you should consider parking your pen or computer in a corner somewhere and take up quilting or gardening:

  1. Do you get offended when someone tries to help you with your manuscript after he/she reads it?
  2. Have you quit the local critique group because the members just don’t “get” your style of writing? Besides, God told you what to write, and it doesn’t need to be “fixed.”
  3. Do you keep revising the same manuscript without starting to write any new ideas?
  4. Do you always let other chores and responsibilities crowd out your time to write?
  5. Are you considering paying a “Vanity Press” big bucks to get your work in print without hiring an editor to revise it and make it publishable?
  6. Have you stopped reading “how to write better” books and books in the genre in which you’re interested because you know all that stuff?
  7. Have you sent your manuscript to at least five different publishing companies, but all you have to show for it are rejection letters so you’re not submitting anything anymore?
  8. Are you jealous of friends who are getting published and you have trouble sharing in their joy?
  9. Do you have trouble finishing any project and you have about twelve good ideas started?Sad.Smiley.Face
  10. Would you rather be doing the laundry or digging weeds instead of writing?
  11. Have you stopped going to writers’ conferences because all you ever hear is “the same old thing?”
  12. Do you have to force yourself to pick up your pen or sit at the keyboard?

Maybe it’s time to evaluate your commitment to the writing/publishing business. It took 10 years for me to get my first book contract after I started publishing poems, short stories, and articles. I needed to learn the craft! It takes intestinal fortitude and patience! Patience! Patience!

Next time, I’ll address some of the issues mentioned in the list above. Only you can answer the questions above and determine which way to go with your writing venture. Pursue or quit? It’s your choice.

Well, what do you think? Do you have that burning desire deep inside your gut that makes you want to write and get your ideas on paper, or are you a paper pen tiger with no guts, no ambition, or no desire any longer to write? How passionate are you about your projects?

Marsha

(Web) www.marshahubler.com

(Writers Tips) www.marshahubler.wordpress.com Montrose Christian Writers Conference http://www.montrosebible.org

(Horse Facts Blog) www.horsefactsbymarshahubler.wordpress.com

 

(More Shameless Promotion)

SUMMER CAMP ADVENTURE

Foster kid Skye Nicholson and her horse Champ try to teach a Jonathan, a deaf boy,

how to ride Western when he had already learned English.

He won’t listen to anyone then takes off with a horse and gets lost in the woods.

Keystone Stables Book 4

 

http://www.amazon.com/Summer-Camp-Adventure-Keystone-Stables-ebook/dp/B003TFE5VI/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1452968862&sr=1-1&keywords=Summer+Camp+Adventure+by+Marsha+Hubler

Want a delightful read to get you in the mood for Valentine’s Day?

21 Days of Love

Compiled by Kathy Ide

http://www.amazon.com/Days-Love-Celebrate-Treasured-Relationships-ebook/dp/B018BEKD4Y/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1453586941&sr=1-1&keywords=21+days+of+love+by+kathy+ide

21 Days of Love.Cover

January 25, 2016

TEN WAYS TO WRITE LIKE A BEGINNER

Let’s see, you’ve had this great idea for umpteen years, and now you’ve decided to start writing! Or maybe you’ve been writing for a while and you’d like to get your story, poem, article, or book published. Will you qualify as a beginning writer who’ll never see any work published or as an experienced crafter of words who’ll definitely see his/her name in print?

I’ve listed a few characteristics of a writer that automatically brand him/her as a newbie. If you can say “yes, that’s me” to any of the points in the list below, all I can say is “uh oh.” Go ahead, read the list, and see how you do:

  1. Never read any books in the same genre in which you are writing. After all, you don’t want to steal another author’s voice, style, or story!
  2. Write when you feel like it, even if the radio or TV is blasting or your family is demanding supper.
  3. Without trying to publish anything else, start writing the Great American Novel that has plots, subplots, foreshadowing, and complicated characters.
  4. Start your fiction manuscript with five pages of narration and description from five points of view. Have 600 pages in your manuscript.
  5. Develop a boring plot with no climax, characters with no depth, and dialogue that is flat and the same for all your characters.
  6. Don’t seek any help from anyone or anything like a critique group, “how-to-write” books, or writers’ conferences because God told you to write, what to write, and how to write it, and nobody is going to change your mind.
  7. Send your manuscript everywhere without querying first. Buy the Writers’ Market Guide, start on page 1, and don’t stop until you get a sale!
  8. If you decide to write a query letter, write one that is “unique.” Smother it in chocolate or perfume smells and start the letter like this: “Dear Editor, this is your lucky day. My family has read this, and they absolutely love it.”
  9. Send your very first draft of your very first manuscript to a different editor once every six months; then go into deep depression when it’s rejected.
  10. Throw away all rejection letters, including those from editors who suggest changes or editors who would like you to submit other work. After all, if the editor didn’t like your first manuscript, he/she won’t like any of your other stuff, and if you make suggested changes in anything, the manuscript won’t be “your” work anymore.

Well, how’d you do? Hopefully, you’re not guilty of any of these nasty beginners’ habits. If so, perhaps you should take up basket weaving or bowling instead.

Next time we’ll discuss how determined you are to be a writer. What will make you quit?

Marsha

(Web) www.marshahubler.com

(Writers Tips) www.marshahubler.wordpress.com

Montrose Christian Writers Conference http://www.montrosebible.org/OurEvents/tabid/113/page_550/1/eventid_550/58/Default.aspx

(Horse Facts Blog) www.horsefactsbymarshahubler.wordpress.com

(More Shameless Promotion)

SUMMER CAMP ADVENTURE

Keystone Stables Book 4

Foster kid Skye Nicholson and her horse Champ try to teach a Jonathan, a deaf boy, how to ride Western

when he had already learned English.

He won’t listen to anyone then takes off with a horse and gets lost in the woods.

 

http://www.amazon.com/Summer-Camp-Adventure-Keystone-Stables-ebook/dp/B003TFE5VI/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1452968862&sr=1-1&keywords=Summer+Camp+Adventure+by+Marsha+Hubler

How about reading some sweet “love” stories/devotionals….

21 Days of Love

Compiled by Kathy Ide

21 Days of Love.Cover

http://www.amazon.com/Days-Love-Celebrate-Treasured-Relationships-ebook/dp/B018BEKD4Y/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1453586941&sr=1-1&keywords=21+days+of+love+by+kathy+ide

January 18, 2016

HOW TO START AND MAINTAIN  A LOCAL CRITIQUE GROUP

Critique.Group.No.Two.8.7.14

The most valuable tool you’ll ever have to become a better writer is the local critique group. If you are not involved with one, please seriously consider starting and maintaining one. Here are the guidelines to help you get started: 

What To Do:

  1. Contact any local writer you know. Post notices in grocery stores, mini marts, free ads in newspapers, etc. with contact information.
  2. Have a set time and date for your first meeting. It can be at your home or in a local restaurant, library, community social room at a mall, etc.
  3. Pick one person to be the leader of your group—it probably should be you since the group is your idea—or rotate by having a different leader every time you meet. Choose a central location to meet. (Our group, average of five/six members, meets at a local Starbucks inside a Target store at 10 a.m. once a month.)
  4. Decide which way you and your critique members will critique each other’s work:
    1. Have your members send no more than five double-spaced pages to each member via email attachment about one week before your scheduled meeting. Everyone then critiques the pages at home and brings them to the meeting.
    2. Several days before the meeting, email or call everyone to find out who’s bringing something to critique. The leader then plans how much time will be allotted to each writer at the meeting. Example: we have a two-hour meeting once a month. If five bring something to be critiqued, each gets about 20-25 minutes total time for the critique. It’s best for the leader to have a timer. We usually limit our pages to about five typed double-spaced pages, but that depends on how many writers want to be critiqued.
  5. At the meeting, open with the sharing of news, i.e. someone has been accepted for publication, someone is speaking somewhere or having a book signing, writers conferences, etc. Share joys (new contract!) or sorrows (manuscript rejected).
  6. Each member other than the writer discusses the manuscript.  The leader should “control” the input by giving each person at the table a turn to speak, going clockwise or counterclockwise. The author is encouraged to offer his/her input. Also, the leader should prevent discussions and personal trivia that chase rabbit trails and have nothing to do with critiquing the manuscript. Then the critiqued copies are handed back to the writer. Fellowship and sharing can take place before or after the entire critiquing session is over.
  7. Before dismissing, the next date for the critique meeting should be set.

THE ART OF CRITIQUE-

1.  Offers a chance to communicate with each other.  First, tell the writer what you enjoyed about the story and its strengths. Be positive about something.

2.  Allows review of what you think needs work: boring opening, weak characters, weak plot, unnatural dialogue, etc.

3.  Prevents the members not to “over-critique.” Each writer has his own individual voice or style of writing. Other than correcting obvious punctuation, word usage, grammar, and spelling, try not to rewrite the work (especially poetry).  Too much critiquing will then morph the author’s work into your work, which is defeating the purpose of the critique group.

4.  As the author of the work, you should process the critique comments. Decide if the critique really hit home. Some writers don’t change anything unless they get at least two or three comments about the same area of work. Try not to be offended. Critiquing is a valuable tool to make you a better writer. To err is human; and we’re all human! Be ready to accept change.

 Remember, you are the final judge of your work. Smiley.Face.Smiling

HAPPY WRITING AND CRITIQUING!

 Marsha

(Web) www.marshahubler.com
(Writers Tips)
www.marshahubler.wordpress.com
Montrose Christian Writers Conference
http://www.montrosebible.org/OurEvents/tabid/113/page_550/1/eventid_550/58/Default.aspx

(Horse Facts Blog) www.horsefactsbymarshahubler.wordpress.com

(More Shameless Promotion)

SNOW, PHANTOM STALLION OF THE POCONOS

SNOW

Dallis Parker copes with bullying at school by dreaming about owning Snow, a wild Mustang,

who most folks believe doesn’t even exist.

Then she actually touches the horse, and her life is changed forever.

http://www.amazon.com/Snow-Phantom-Stallion-Marsha-Hubler-ebook/dp/B013GUF078/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1453163034&sr=1-1&keywords=Snow%2C+Phantom+Stallion+of+the+Poconos

 

Critique Groups

January 11, 2016

The Value of Local Critique Groups:

To Edit or Not to Edit: That is the Question!

Critique.Group.Starbucks.Target

You’re excited about your manuscript! You think you have a great idea, and you’re finally getting it on paper. You’ve read it and revised it over and over, and you think you’re ready to send it to an editor at a publishing company or an agent.

STOP!  Yes, I said, “Stop!”

If you’ve had no one read your manuscript except Aunt Lucy or Mom, who think it’s just the most wonderful piece of literature that has ever been recorded in history, then you probably are in for the biggest shock of your life: rejection slips from editors or agents, who won’t read past your first page if it’s littered with grammar and spelling errors and poor paragraph construction, let alone “faulty facts.”

If you’re saying, “Well, I plan to self publish,” then you have all the more reason to make sure your manuscript is something of which you’ll be proud.

I’ve seen too many self-published books that are sprinkled with obvious errors, which give the author and all authors of self-published books a bad reputation. Take the time to do it right!

With the decline in paper book sales and the scramble to find one’s “author”isity as an author online, every writer must take the utmost care to have a manuscript that’s error free. The two best ways to do this is:

  1. Hire a professional editor – expensive (from $20 an hour to $100 an hour; I edit for $20 an hour. It takes me an hour to do an average of 10 to 15 pages, contingent on the quality, or lack thereof, of the manuscript)
  2. Join a local writers’ critique group – free advice

Depending on your level of writing experience, you can consider joining any of three types of critique groups:

  1. One that has a guest speaker every time the writers meet to discuss the ins and outs, the mechanics, and the techniques of good writing, which you then apply to your own writing
  2. One that challenges the writer with a writing assignment every time they meet. You would then work on that assignment at home and bring it to the next meeting to be critiqued.
  3. One that meets for the sole purpose of editing and critiquing your work in progress to help you get it ready for publication.

I have chosen to be a member of the Susquehanna Valley Writers Group in central PA, which meets once a month to review works in progress. We can either send up to five double-spaced pages to each member ahead of time via email to be critiqued, or we can bring enough copies to our monthly meeting for each member to edit and critique as we read the work out loud. (Sometimes kind members will offer to have the new entire manuscript sent to them via email to critique over a long period of time.)

My critique group has helped make me the writer I am today. When I reflect on how poorly I wrote even nine or ten years ago and how I’ve progressed to finally learn my PUGS (punctuation, usage, grammar, and spelling), I can only thank my critique group, which usually averages four to six members. (All the members represent a variety of genres of interest.)

Critique group members catch mistakes to which you’ve become blind. You can read the same mistake in your manuscript a dozen times, but you’ll never catch it because your brain has already programmed in the correct usage even though you’re reading the wrong word, incorrect comma, or whatever.

Also, critique group members can help with vocabulary, sentence structure, research, characterization, and plot development that you will never notice by yourself.

Case in Point:

Several months ago, I took a section of one of my “Bonnet Books” novels, LOVE SONG FOR LOUELLEN. In the book, an Amish couple can’t have children because the man has the problem, not the woman. I had incorrectly used the term “impotence” to describe the problem.

However, at my critique meeting, a gal who is familiar with medical terms said, “If the man could have sexual relationships but had a sperm problem, the term is ‘sterility’ not ‘impotence.’”

Wow! None of the rest of us at the table knew the difference in the terms. Was I glad that I had taken that portion of my manuscript to the critique group. I was just finishing the manuscript and had an agent patiently waiting for it. With the advice from my critique group member, I corrected a boo boo that, perhaps, no reader might have noticed if the book had been printed that way; yet, the agent or editor might have zeroed in on it and given me a black mark concerning accuracy in my terms and background for the fiction work.

So, let me ask you? Are your ready to swallow your pride and join a local critique group to improve your writing?

If there is no critique group, then start one. Post notices in grocery stores, libraries, and post offices. In a short time, you’ll have a nice writing group—three or four is a great start!— that not only will make you a better writer, but you’ll have yourself a whole new group of kindred spirits who think and dream and write because they JUST HAVE TO,  just as you do.

Marsha

(Web) www.marshahubler.com

Montrose Christian Writers Conference http://www.montrosebible.org/OurEvents/tabid/113/page_550/1/eventid_550/58/Default.aspx

(Horse Facts Blog) www.horsefactsbymarshahubler.wordpress.com

 

(More Shameless Promotion)

SNOW, PHANTOM STALLION OF THE POCONOS 

Dallis Parker copes with bullying at school by dreaming about owning Snow, a wild Mustang, who most folks believe doesn’t even exist. Then she actually touches the horse, and her life is changed forever.

http://www.amazon.com/Snow-Phantom-Stallion-Marsha-Hubler-ebook/dp/B013GUF078/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1449523382&sr=1-1&keywords=Snow%2C+Phantom+Stallion+of+the+Poconos

 

SNOW

January 4, 2016

Writers’ Tips: Writing and Editing your First Draft

Quill Pen and Notepad Vector | Free Vector Graphic Download

After concentrating on fiction for the last dozen blogs, let’s discuss writers’ tips in general. We won’t focus on a particular genre, but we’ll discuss the ins and outs of good writing, which will lead to a published work in your hands.

Okay, you have a fantastic idea, you’ve mulled it over in your head for weeks, months, maybe years! Now, you’re finally ready to launch your creativity into the writing/publishing world and “put your idea on paper.”

First, you need to decide for what genre you will write. Genre, pronounced jaun’-rah, is the classification in which your manuscript will be categorized. There are dozens of genres and subgenres, all which branch from several very broad ones: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, screenwriting, and music composition, to name the most popular.

No matter which genre you choose, there’s a HUGE important step you need to take while you’re writing your first draft. Go to the library and/or bookstore (music store) and read or study as many published works in your chosen genre as you can. If you want to be a good writer, a published writer, then study those who’ve already achieved that goal.

Now, I’m not saying that everything out there on the bookshelves is “classic” and worthy of being studied, but the majority of the published works are. Analyze your genre of choice, take notes, and see what enabled those works to be worthy of publication.

I have pages of notes and samples from fiction novels that show good character description, excellent use of dialogue, and “showing” not “telling” narration. I have several volumes of poetry by famous poets. I have a dozen or so Bible studies, which I’ve analyzed. From time to time, I open my files on my computer and just read through the notes to refresh my memory as to what “good” writing is. Or I’ll get one of those poetry books or Bible study guides and read them. These genres are all ones in which I’ve been published, but there’s always more to learn!

As you read and study, begin writing your first draft. There are two ways you can work on your first draft:

  1. You can write your entire manuscript on paper or in the computer without worrying about the PUGS (punctuation, usage, grammar, and spelling) until you’ve finished.
  2. You can edit yourself as you go, review your manuscript often and revise, revise, revise.

No method is the “best” one. It’s your decision how you want to refine that manuscript until it’s irresistible to your readers.

I have several friends who write like crazy and don’t worry about a missing comma or a misspelled word.

Me? That would drive me crazy. As a former high school English teacher, I can’t stand a comma out of place. It’s almost like an abscessed tooth. I have to get it fixed immediately! Therefore, I revise and edit as I write so that when I’ve finished the manuscript, I have very little revising to do.

The last and vital step for you to take is to join a local writers’ critique group. If you have none in your area, post some notices on community bulletin boards at mini-marts, grocery stores, libraries, etc. and advertise that you’d like to start one. You only need four to six writers (of any genre) to have a great critique group. Decide if you want to meet weekly or monthly and get started. (Our local group meets once a month at a Starbucks coffee nook in a Target store.) This writing aid will be the most value to you. Having other writers give you an honest critique (which is quite painful) will make you a better writer. So don’t shy away from this important step in the beginning writing process.

Now, when you have all these facets of your beginning writing career in place, you can officially call yourself a writer. So stop talking about it and get started!

Marsha

(Web) www.marshahubler.com

(Writers Tips) www.marshahubler.wordpress.com

Montrose Christian Writers Conference http://www.montrosebible.org/OurEvents/tabid/113/page_550/1/eventid_550/58/Default.aspx

(Horse Facts Blog) www.horsefactsbymarshahubler.wordpress.com

 

(More Shameless Promotion)

 

Whispering Hope

Book 7 in the Keystone Stables Series

Book 7. Keystone Stables

Foster kid, Skye Nicholson, has her hands full trying to train a wild Mustang and

befriend another wild foster kid who has no intentions of cooperating with anyone at Keystone Stables.

December 28, 2015

Fiction That Wows (Part 11)

Theme Vs. Plot

Some writers, in particular newbies to the writing/publishing world, tend to confuse “theme” and “plot” when writing their short stories, novels, or series. Some writers use the terms interchangeably, which is in err.

So, what exactly are these two important entities that every clever writer uses effectively in his/her writing? How does an author incorporate the two to make a fiction piece that wows?

Webster’s New World Dictionary defines theme as: “a recurring, unifying subject or idea.” It defines plot as: “the plan of action of a play, short story, poem, or novel.”

Now, did you catch the two key words that really define “theme” and “plot?”

Very simply defined, theme = IDEA. Plot = ACTION.

When incorporating your theme, think IDEA. The theme is the philosophy, the moral background, or the religious belief behind your story. A theme is not stated with words anywhere in your writing, except possibly in your proposal to an editor. Your reader should never see a sentence in your novel that says something like this: “The theme of this novel is ‘Be sure your sin will find you out.’” The theme is a “hidden” or underlying message that the reader will sense in your writing and embrace or reject when he gets to the last page.

Let’s look at a few examples of “theme” and “plot” to clarify their definitions and role in the writing of a novel.

Examples of “Theme”:

(There are dozens, if not hundreds, of themes you can embrace. The theme will evolve from your own personal view of life)

  • Forgiveness is possible
  • The love of money is the root of all evil
  • Persistence pays off
  • Unconditional love
  • Loyalty to family and friends(Every book has a different plot; thus, there are zillions of plot ideas)
  •  Examples of “Plot:”
  • A boy and dog are separated, but the dog finds his way back to the boy.
  • A foster girl who hates everyone and herself is sent by the court to live with Christian parents who have a special needs horse ranch
  • A large book store owner forces a small book store owner out of business
  • When a man, his wife, and daughter agree to move in with an elderly woman and become her housekeepers, they discover shocking secrets from her past.
  • A woman wins twenty million dollars in the lottery but gambles it away and loses everything, even her home and car, in three months.
  • There you have a very simple sampling of what “theme” and “plot” are all about. Get a good handle on the definitions and use of these two words, and you’ll improve your writing in leaps and bounds.

Marsha

(Web) www.marshahubler.com

(Writers Tips) www.marshahubler.wordpress.com

Montrose Christian Writers Conference http://www.montrosebible.org/OurEvents/tabid/113/page_550/1/eventid_550/58/Default.aspx

(Horse Facts Blog) www.horsefactsbymarshahubler.wordpress.com

 

(More Shameless Promotion)

 

SNOW, PHANTOM STALLION OF THE POCONOS

 SNOW

Dallis Parker copes with bullying at school by dreaming about owning Snow, a wild Mustang, who most folks believe doesn’t even exist. Then she actually touches the horse, and her life is changed forever.

http://www.amazon.com/Snow-Phantom-Stallion-Marsha-Hubler-ebook/dp/B013GUF078/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1449523382&sr=1-1&keywords=Snow%2C+Phantom+Stallion+of+the+Poconos

December 21, 2015

A Christmas Break from Serious Writing

A Clever Play on Words

If you’re like me at this time of the year with thoughts of Christmas crowding your mind, beautiful church services and fellowships, cantatas, family visits, shopping, decorating, and parties, you probably don’t have the time nor the brain power to concentrate on any serious writing. So…I’ll get back to posting blogs about writing good fiction in a week or two. For now, I’d like to give you a little Christmas breather and help you have a chuckle or two through this stressful season. Let’s look at some really clever writing.

The following puns are not from my creative juices. I received them in an email about two years ago with no byline. So enjoy my Christmas gift to you for 2015:

Crazy Puns to Make You Laugh (or Groan)

(Author Unknown)

I took a job at the bakery because I kneaded dough.

I dropped out of communism class because of lousy Marx.

England has no kidney bank, but it does have a Liverpool.

What do you call a dinosaur with an extensive vocabulary? A thesaurus.dinosaur

Broken pencils are pointless.

What does a clock do when it’s hungry? It goes back four seconds.

A cross-eyed teacher had to quit her job because she couldn’t control her pupils.

I didn’t like my beard at first; then it grew on me.

They told me I had type A blood, but it was a type-O.

I did a theatrical performance about puns. It was a play on words.

I wondered why the ball kept getting bigger. Then it hit me.baseball

I’m reading a book about anti-gravity. I can’t put it down.

I stayed up all night to see where the sun went down. Then it dawned on me.

How does Moses make his tea? Hebrews it.

I know a guy who’s addicted to brake fluid. He says he can stop any time.

Jokes about German sausage are the wurst.

I tried to catch the fog, but I mist.Blue.Sad.Smiley.Face

(Groan)

 

Merry Christmas and a Great Christ-centered New Year!

Marsha

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