Monday, September 28, 2009

Recapturing the wonder.

My dad used to go flea marketing every Sunday morning. One day, he came home with what was, to me, a prized gem: a blue Smith Corona 2200 electric typewriter.

I probably single-handedly deforested a small Latin American rain forest with the amount of paper I ran through that puppy. I had it until I wore it out.

I was I think in junior high when this happened, and I had that typewriter for I don't know how many years. It took these funky cartridges, not normal ribbon. And I loved it.

When I was in seventh grade, I asked for a year of band. The Hillsborough County school system saw fit, in their finite wisdom, to give me a semester of Spanish and a semester of typing instead.

In retrospect, it was one of the best things that ever happened to me. My dad, seeing that I was about to wear out our antique portable manual typewriter, brought me the Smith Corona and away my fingers ran.

I remember living for Saturday nights when my parents would go out for the night, usually not returning until after midnight, going all the way over to Gibsonton or the fair grounds to watch the short track races. I would move my trusty blue fantasy machine out to the living room with my notes and spend the evening pounding away at it. (I was a very fast touch typist even then.) I would light a large pillar candle I had and pretend I was Stephen King (only a teenager and a girl) and a Famous Author.

I loved it.

Yes, I was a pitiful geek. But overall, on these nights, I was the world's happiest pitiful geek.

There was a certain magic, to me, when I looked over the pages I tapped out, seeing the stack grow. Now, of course, it's all on the computer and I calculate in words, not pages, of production. I don't know why I thought of that typewriter today. It just popped into mind. I think it was somewhere between me moaning to myself that I'm an idiot to try to write three books in my Deep Space Mission Corps series all at once, and that I need to write more, write faster in preparation for my husband's retirement in a few short years.

Then that little blue typewriter popped into my mind.

I still light candles when I write. It's just sort of my thing. For a few minutes, I was that geeky teenager again (who is still geeky, but since she has a mortgage and a cell phone in her name she's earned the right to be as geeky as she damn well pleases) and the sense of wonder nearly overwhelmed me.

Yes, it's a job. A dream job. A fantasy job. And while I literally spent most of my life working toward this goal, it still sometimes feels like a dream. Two parts, "Holy $hit, I did it," and one part, "Am I dreaming? Please pinch me."

Then I quit my bitching and ripped into my manuscript again.

Sometimes as a writer, with day-to-day challenges and pulls on our time (families, evil day jobs, Twitter, etc.) we tend to lose sight of the wonder of what we do. We paint pictures with words. We reveal new worlds and make dreams come true. We are looked at by some and they think, "Damn, I want that gig."

As a writer, how do you stop to take the time to recapture the wonder of what you do? Or do you? Do you need to? Have you hit a metaphorical brick wall and need to take a step back and get in touch with your "writing roots?"

Monday, September 14, 2009

Home, home on the web...

Every writer today should have a web presence. Period. Full stop.


Because agents and publishers want to SEE you. If they're going to take a chance on you, they want to see you're serious about your craft. The website doesn't have to cost you anything other than the price of registering a domain name. (I recommend for this.) You can then set the domain name to forward to a free site, like Blogger, Word Press, or any other number of sites. Register your domain name, and have it forward to your free site. It's very easy, takes minutes to do.

Customizing your site doesn't have to be difficult either, even if you're using Blogger or Word Press. There are literally thousands of free templates out there (and a ton of for sale ones too) that a writer can choose from.

Just a few?

Word Press:


You get the idea. All you have to do is use Google and put in "free blog templates" or something similar and go to town.

Most importantly - make SURE you proofread your blog entries! Not just for spelling and grammar either. I see way too many entries where it's obvious the blogger doesn't go look at the live blog (not just the preview feature) because there are no gaps between their paragraphs, making it VERY hard to read! (Paragraph breaks are a MUST in online content. You cannot substitute a paragraph tab indent! For one thing, it usually doesn't render anyway. For another, people want breaks in their text or they won't read it.)

Don't just copy willy-nilly from Word into your blog composition screen -- paste it to Notepad, make sure there are line breaks between paragraphs for ease of reading (like in this blog), and then also use find/replace to replace curly quotes and apostrophes to plain text ones. Replace em dashes and ellipses too. And any other "accent" characters. Why? Because more and more, you know how you see the funky little nonsense characters in postings on the web? That's due to problems with a browser or with the browser's rendering settings not displaying the character correctly. Fix it with plain text, even if it takes away the funky characters you really want to use, and you will have MUCH happier readers.

Now go get your patooky over to GoDaddy and register your name/pen name as an url if you haven't already. Register common misspellings for it, too. Have them all point to your blog site, and you're in business!