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I’m one of those writers, the kind who have multiple writing projects on the go.  I have more than I can keep track of.

Ideas come to me all the time and at any time.  I have lost more good ideas than I care to remember, because they came to me when I was not in a time and place to be able to jot them down.

And then there are the times when I can let the idea flow, living and feeling it, getting it down.

When I can get the ideas down, it is not always handy to add them in at the right place in the right story.  They become the odds and ends, bits and pieces; the homeless scenes that need to be relocated to where they belong.

 

Which leads us to the dilemma:

The lost story bits.

 Working on one of my current works in progress, I cannot let go of the feeling that I am missing something.  Literally, not figuratively.

The_Latchkey_Kids_Cover_for_KindleThe problem:  I have a vivid memory of writing a particular scene to go in this story.  I also remember the scene feeling right, thinking this is it, this is *the* scene.  Thinking it is good.

 

It is a pivotal scene too.  The scene leads the reader on to learn more behind the bullying behavior of the character, Dylan, from the first story (The Latchkey Kids), and opens the story to lead up to his dark secret (The Latchkey Kids book 2).

 

Do you think I can find this scene?

Nope.

 

I have committed myself to thorough and random searches for any possible file, folder, and key words that might lead to the discovery of where this mislaid scene is hiding.

I am searching every possible dark corner this scene can be hiding in, files on the laptop including Word and backed up notes from my phone.  Emails. My phone.  Every scrap of loose paper I can find in the house where I might have wrote it down.

The scene exists.  I know it.  I feel it as certainly as I feel the lips on my face.  As certainly as I taste that sip of coffee.

Somewhere, in the dark murky depths, in that soulless cold world, with the faint hollow ringing of words crying out in your subconscious, that scene waits.  Lost.  Alone.  Desolate.  In the lost world of story bits and forgotten scenes; right next to the Ruins of Incomplete Stories and the ruination of the stories that went nowhere.

 

Someday, little scene, I will find you.

Unfortunately, by then I will have already rewritten a new scene.

 

 

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strange thing 2

A strange thing happened on the way to the blog.  I received an email out of the blue from someone I’ve never heard of.  That’s not so strange in itself; I get enough spam to feed a spambot until it vomits flowery poetry.

 

What was strange is that it was a request for an interview.  This wasn’t the usual, “Let’s fill out interview questions and share them on each other’s blogs to cross promote ourselves,” interview request.  This was a straight up, “I want to interview you.”

It surprised me.  The first thing I did was check the email address it came from.  It looked legitimate.  Then I skimmed (that’s what my eleven year old called it) her online.  I Googled, found and checked profiles on Facebook and LinkedIn, investigating if the person looks legitimate.  She looked legitimate.

uh oh

It was time for the, “Oh, uh, wow?” moment.  Me?  Why me?  Out of all the authors out there?

Now I had to know.  I’m not a cat, so hopefully curiosity won’t bring me to my swift demise.

I asked others on one of the author groups what they thought.

I contacted the young lady requesting the interview to ask those two big questions: Why me? – and – How did you happen to find me?

Honestly, I didn’t think I would be all that findable without specifically looking for me.

Her answers were simple.  I’m an author and she got my information from the local writers’ guild, which I’m a member of.

 

terrorThen I had a moment of terror.  I’ve never had a real interview.  I almost did once on a blog radio show, but it fell through due to technical issues.  We, the interviewers and my fellow intervewee, spanned states and countries.  Something went wrong and we couldn’t call in.  The blog show failed after too, so there was no redo.

Why does that even matter?  Because, I was in very near to a state of panic.  An actual talking interview with people I have to answer on the spot.  I can’t come back hours later when I think of something that I think sounds clever.

And now I’m panicking again at the thought of a face-to-face interview.  I would have to try to be clever on the spot.  I can’t do that.  I can write, the words coming effortlessly and fluidly, and sounding marvelous.  I can’t bloody talk.  In fact, I’m pretty sure I sound like a complete moron when I talk.  The words in my head just don’t come out the same way through my mouth.  My brain freezes, I jumble, stumble, and stutter.  I couldn’t do a speech with my eyes glued to the cue cards I’m reading mechanically from.

 

leave your comfort zoneTo truly live, you have to step out of your safety zone.  I decided to swallow my anxiety and give it the old college try.

It made it easier that I wasn’t doing it for myself.  I can’t count the times I opted not to do something because it was just for me.  I’m not used to doing things just for me.

The young woman interviewing me is from McMaster University. She won funding for a research project exploring the connection between Canadian literature and identity.  I was a stop on her trek across Canada interviewing authors about their craft and sense of identity as Canadians.

I went to the interview hoping that I would be of help, but still with that nagging doubt pulling on me like a toddler sized imp trying to whisper in my ear, “Why you?”

I survived the interview and she didn’t look ill listening to my jabbering.  I have to say, the best part of the interview was the end when I gave her a copy of my latest published book, The McAllister Farm.  She was actually excited I gave it to her.
impAfter the interview, that same nasty little imp kept tugging on my shirt hem and whispering my doubts.  Why me?  There are a lot of authors out there, ones people actually heard of and know; authors who sold a lot book books and made bestseller lists, and everything.  Telling me, “You don’t even feel like a real author.”

 

magic quill

What does it take to make you feel like an author?  Of course, the simplest answer should be, “You wrote a book,” or, “You published a book.”  If only life were so simple for everyone.

 

In all the years I spent writing, I’ve always had that nagging doubt.  I’m nobody.  Unknown.  Just some person with a story in her head (okay many stories) that need to get out.  I’m not James Patterson or Stephen King.  I don’t go by the moniker Dean Koontz or any other name anyone would recognize and say, “Hey, that’s an author!”

I always had the doubt, expecting anyone at any time to say I’m wasting my time, I’m not a “real” author, or that my writing stinks like the rancid breath of the partially desiccated reanimated corpse of a komodo dragon with a dead skunk stuck in its mouth.

Even after my first book, Where the Bodies Are, was published, doubts remain.  It’s only one book, after all.  But, it can’t be all that bad if someone else found it worthy of publication, right?  I still didn’t feel like a “real” author; which is probably odd, since I would without question think of anyone else who published a single book as a “real” author.

Now I have a couple of books published, with Indigo Sea Press picking up not only Where the Bodies Are, but also my latest book, The McAllister Farm.

With published books I now have to count on more than one finger, I still don’t feel authorey; and yes, I did just make up that word.

intangible personTo me, an author has always been that intangible person on the other side of the book.  The magic behind the story.  Funny, I don’t look or feel magic.  Not mystical in any way.  I’m just me.

If I had ten published books, I would probably feel the same way.  I’m just me.  Someone asked me to autograph my book she bought and it felt really weird.  I very recently sold a few books to a few people I know and they asked me to sign them.  It felt just as strange, awkward really, in a, “This is a joke, right?” kind of way.  And these were all people I’ve known for years.  I might get sucked into an abyss of weirdness in the floor if an actual stranger wanted me to sign a book.

I’m not sure what it will take before I feel like a “real author”.  At what point this will happen, if ever.

I asked my eleven year old what would make her feel like a “real author”.  Her answer: “If my books sold; lots.  A lot of them.”

I asked my thirteen year old the same question. Her answer: “When a lot of people buy my books and are asking for them, and when I’m making a good profit.  And, when I’m a New York Times bestseller, because all my books are New York Times bestsellers.”

pose question.jpg

I pose the question to you, and this is all about YOU, not for you to try to convince me that I’m a “real” author.

 

Authors: What made or would make you feel like a “real author”?

Readers: What defines a “real author” for you, as opposed to thinking, “Yeah, whatever, so you wrote a book, but you aren’t a real author”?

 

Let the game begin.

Can you handle a little darkness?

L.V. Gaudet is the author of the McAllister Series and Garden Grove.

Tormented by his inability to stop killing, the killer is taunted by his need to find the one thing he must find …

where the bodies are

Learn the secret … behind the bodies and how the man who created the killer became who he is …

McAllister Farm cover 052316_edited-1 - front cover.jpg

The third book will bring these two stories together for a dramatic climax… but no story truly ends.

 

Sabotage, vandalism, poisoned work crew, buried bones, and two strange old people … why is someone trying to stop the new housing development?

Garden Grove Cover - McNally - front cover

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email vomitWe all want to wow people into following us. Whether you are a published author, a professional reviewer (aka you write reviews on various products either for monetary compensation or in exchange for free stuff, with the expectation of getting some form of compensation for ever review), some form of professional or quasi-professional, or just blogging for kicks, it’s the reason you blog. It’s the reason I blog. Otherwise, we’d all just be giving out TMI and posting pics of our pets and suppers on Facebook and not bothering to write blogs.

 

want more followersProducing good and interesting content is the way to go. The blogosphere is the boxing ring and we are doing the dance off, yelling “PICK ME! PICK ME!”

Successful blogging means not just getting your articles read, but gaining followers and keeping them. It is writing articles they want, and sharing articles that will interest your followers.

 

Whatever the content you share, you need to do it often enough that your followers don’t forget you exist. When that happens, you sink into the black abyss of the web.  You don’t want to go there, because I’ve heard ugly rumors of what resides there. Yes, ugly.

Things like this.spider monster

It is a dark and terrifying place. Cold too, very cold. Or is that the chill of fear dripping down your spine?

 

Finding interesting content to share means following others. Successful blogging also works on a quid pro quo, only without the expectation of always getting something in return. No, it’s not squids gone pro. If you don’t know what quid quo pro means, you can Google it. Basically, it means you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.

In blogging, you follow others, who may or may not follow you back. You share their content because you liked it or think your readers might. You follow rules of decorum. In other words, play nice.

 

blah blah blah

But, every now and then, you encounter the over-sharer.  This is the blog world’s equivalent of the Facebooker who spams your feed with so many posts of their kids, their pets, their meals, what they did, are doing, and are about to do, Oh, very large hammer.jpgand what they are doing now, and now, yeah you get it … until you find yourself so sickened by their posts that you want to put your own eyes out, cancel your FB account, and put your computer out of its misery with a very large hammer. (Wow, that is one heck of a run on sentence, just like those annoying posts without end. OMG, there was a period in there but it still never really ended, did it?)

 

The blogger over-sharer will put up a mass of posts, their own or shared; at this point it really doesn’t matter. The thing is, unlike FB, when a blogger posts a vomit of blog posts and you do not have your notifications turned off, each and every post will ping your email inbox.

Yes, each and every one. So, you can turn off notifications and not know when one of the sites you follow posts an interesting blog, sending them to the bloggo black hole and likely forgetting to check and follow them (because you are so darned busy and these things just happen).

Or, you are subjected to having your email inbox spammed. Bloggers who spam you with 36 blog posts, each pinging your email inbox individually, because you made the mistake of following them, just aren’t getting it.

vomit

Now, when I get 36 bog posts from the same blogger spamming my email inbox, they have effectively vomited in my inbox. Yes, I had 36 one day, all at once, an incessant ping ping ping ringing and pinging. I had to shut my phone off and count the toll later.

 

 

Delete and unfollow. Yes, Virginia, there is such thing as too much.

 

unfollow
You need to strike a balance in your blogging.

balance

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chatperoneThe beginning of your story is the most important part.  This applies no matter what you are writing; an epic trilogy, a novel, a short story, memoire, fiction or nonfiction.

Now that I said it, I will tell you that this is a statement I personally do not agree with.

Some writers, publishers, and agents will argue that if you don’t hook the reader in the first sentence then you failed.  I’ve heard variations of this same idea multiple times.

But what kind of a first sentence does it take to have that instant hook?  And, is it even possible?

Advice will run between keeping it short and simple to using a complex sentence including multiple ways to draw the reader in with those few first words.

Set stage and tone, time and place, conflict, theme, foreshadow, tell a truth, surprise the reader,  shock them, promise a reward, don’t start with a question, relate to the reader, do not start with dialogue, be funny or absurd, raise a question, start with an action, incite an emotional reaction, connect the reader with the main character, it must be vivid, offer a tease, introduce your main character, get them fascinated with the scene, sum up the novel.

This is only a sampling of the advice you might see on how to write the perfect first sentence.  None of it is either wrong or right.  It’s also probably impossible for you to pack all of that into a single sentence without making it incredibly long and unwieldy.

As with everything about writing and every other form of art what is good, or as seems to be demanded of us the perfect reader trap, is subjective to the individual’s taste.  And each individual’s tastes are determined by too many factors to count, including their personal tastes and preferences, culture, experiences, and so much more.

So who is to say what is the perfect opening sentence?

Best First Lines from Published Novels

Consider this list: “100 Best First Lines from Novels” by American Book Review.  How many of these lines made the list simply because of who the author is or because the book became a classic?  How many of these lines would even be considered for this list if they had been published today by a less famous author?

Given the single first sentence and no other reference, which first sentence from this list would you have been hooked on, driven to read on?  Of course, many of these lines are dated and were probably red hot in their day.  But it is also too easy to look back and say that first line must have been perfect because the book was a classic.  For me, more than a few of these invoke a response of “meh”.  So they are certainly someone’s perfect first line, but not mine.

So ask yourself this: if you take the top 100 current worldwide bestsellers and poll a group on a list of only that first sentence with no reference to the author or what book it was taken from, how many would be voted as perfect first lines?  How many would instantly hook the reader, driving him or her helplessly forward to read the rest of the book?

The publishing world is full of books of every type.  Those whose perfect first line went on to set the tone for a fantastic piece of writing, those that fall flat into abysmal blandness after a great opening line, those whose opening line was only the opening to something that draws you in and hooks you as you continue, those that flop on every level, and everything in between.

Let’s face it; it takes much more than an epic first line to make a story a success.  And there are very few readers who would stop at the first line and make a judgment without reading further.

The internet is full of advice on how to write that perfect first sentence that Snaps, pops, and otherwise grabs your reader’s attention and refuses to let go.  Even WikiHow gets in on the action.  But as you research how to make that first line that promises to make your story and career soar to unimaginable heights, you will also quickly learn that this advice is neither absolute nor universal.

Here are just a few articles on writing the first line:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/09/writer-wednesday-first-sentences_n_820512.html

http://thewritepractice.com/first-line/

http://www.missliterati.com/blog/tips-on-writing-first-sentence

http://www.fuelyourwriting.com/the-most-important-sentence-how-to-write-a-killer-opening/

http://writeworld.org/post/26731524562/in-the-beginning

While some people tell you that first line is all important, others will argue that it is not the first sentence that is the most important; that the first sentence is not the do or die of your story and writing and publishing career.

Like this writer, Chuck Sambuchino, who says this of the often pushed list of alleged literary first line masterpieces, “So here’s the deal, or my theory of the deal:  These authors didn’t worry about the opening sentence; they just started telling their stories.  There has to be a beginning.  That beginning might indicate time and place, might introduce a character.  Might reveal a thought.  Present a fact.  Drop in on some event or action in the middle.  Whatever starts the telling makes the first sentence.  Just as whatever concludes the story will make the last.”

So, how do you write that perfect first sentence?

The best advice I can give you is to just jump in and write the first sentence.  Don’t even think of it as the first sentence.  Just sit down, think about where your story starts, and start writing.  But don’t stop there.  Keep going and write the next sentence and the next.  Keep the momentum going.  Do not let yourself get bogged down and lose the feeling of the narrative worrying over whether or not that first sentence snaps.  If you feel the flow, just keep going and worry about perfection later.

Now put it aside.   Let your mind take a break before you go back to it.

Read it and ask yourself, “Would I read this?”  Does the first sentence do justice to the rest of that first paragraph?  Does that first paragraph make you want to read the next?  Do you feel compelled to turn the page when you reach the bottom?  Do you yearn to learn what happens next when that chapter ends?  Do you feel bored or confused anywhere?

Your first sentence sets the stage for the paragraph.  And the first paragraph draws the reader into the chapter.  But it takes so much more than one person’s opinion of whether or not your first sentence is perfect.  It takes more than the opinions of your writer’s group, your mentor, or even your publisher.

Why?  Because the truth of it is that there is no such thing a perfect first sentence.  I would compare it to the search for the ever-elusive perfect man or the perfect woman.  Every individual’s needs and ideas for what makes that ‘perfect’ are different and ever changing.

From first sentences that invoke emotion to those that set place, time, and mood, the first sentence is only the beginning of something much deeper.  What makes it right depends on what your story needs it to be.  What makes it right is not obsessing over whether or not that first sentence is perfect enough, but rather how it works as a foundation for that first paragraph and the story as a whole.

What makes it perfect is making it feel perfectly natural.

Research what others recommend, take advice from different sources, and most importantly, know that every story is different and that means that what works for each story is different.  Every piece of advice is exactly that, it is that individual’s personal opinion, their recommendation and offered guidance.

Now go out there and write the first sentence that is perfect for your story.

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How Not to Get Noticed by Other Writers, Agents, Other Publishing Types, and Book Junkies.

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author dreamIt struck me when I recently saw some comments on a few social networking sites that there are a lot of different ideas of what a writer is.  Even among writers themselves, there is a wide range of ideas and hopes when it comes to writing.

Myself, I think of being a published author as the book nerd’s  version of the pro athlete dream.  Droves of people around the world sit pounding out words into stories with the dream of someday making it big.  That does not apply to all writers, of course.

The simplest reality of being a writer is that it is damned hard to be published and earn money from it.

With the growth over these last years of accessibility to self-publishing, the very landscape of publishing has changed in leaps and bounds.  Not that long ago just the mere mention of the words “self” and “publishing” together in an online post risked being immediately mobbed, tarred, and feathered by others in the online community accompanied by rants about vanity presses.

For the unpublished, being published was like a secret club that you just could not get into and self-publishing was treated like cheating.  Somehow, you were breaking all the rules if you wanted to self-publish and those who followed them seemed in large numbers to resent that.

For the most part that attitude has changed in these past years, self-publishing is still becoming increasingly more accepted, and has been widely embraced by many who long to be published authors.  You will still encounter those who argue on what actually makes an author, how many books qualifies you, what kind of publishing, how big the publisher has to be, and whatever criteria they personally place on it.  Others will say that if you wrote a book, published or not, however it’s published, you are an author.

No matter what kind of author you are, what genre, how you are published, or the quality of your writing or book cover, there is one reality all writers share.  Making money doing it is damned hard.

Networking is imperative to success, just as it is in any business and many occupations.  Whether you are published by a big publisher or self-published, writing for magazines or business, or any other market, for the large part you have to promote yourself and your writing on your own.  Even the big publishing houses have limited budgets for promoting their writers and books.  There are reasons they tend to stick to publishing guaranteed successes, and that is just one of them.

Sales is also all about supply and demand.  The explosion of self-publishing has over-saturated the book market.  With the glut of books over-saturating the market, you are very small in a big world of books, a single tiny voice in an overwhelmingly huge mob.  To get sales you have to get noticed.

While so many dream of being a published author, that has become fairly easy with self-publishing compared to actually earning a living doing it.

Being a writer means wearing many hats.  You are The Mad Hatter.  As a writer, you need to be your own social networking guru, IT specialist, and marketing team, among many other jobs.   You also have to write a fantastic piece of writing and be able to expertly edit it to perfection before you even send it to an outside editor.

You need to learn what makes a good book cover, and what kind of book titles pop and which flop.  You need to learn how to write blurbs, sizzling book jackets, and single line promotional punches that make people go “Wow! I want to read that!”  You need to learn how to write queries that won’t be lost in the slush pile if you want to be published by a publisher or get picked up by an agent.

Writing takes commitment.  It is a lot of work.  And to be published by any means takes even more work, commitment, and professionalism.

For most, the dream of being a full time writer will only ever be that, a dream.  Of the millions of writers worldwide dreaming of making it big, like the sports dream, very few will ever make the kind of money the likes of Dan Brown, Stephen King, and J.K. Rowling make.  For most, writing is a passion that is fulfilled in the gaps between real life; working to earn a living, family, and everything else life throws at you.

Does that make it a hobby? Many might argue yes.  Most writers might give you an odd look when you ask that, as if you are speaking a foreign language they do not understand.

Does the fact that you very likely will never earn any real money doing it make it a waste of time?  That all depends on you and what you want out of it.

You Fail Only If You Stop Writing

Write; because it’s a passion, not a pipe dream.

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Your Life With Rhuematoid Arthritis by Lene Andersen

Your Life with Rheumatoid Arthritis by Lene Andersen is raved as an insightful resource for people living with rheumatoid arthritis.

Check out this review  of Your Life with Rheumatoid Arthritis written by Wren on RheumaBLog

Your Life with Rheumatoid Arthritis is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo books, iBooks, Smashwords, CreateSpace

L Andersen author photo

Lene Andersen blogs at

The Seated View
Lene and her book can also be found at:

Lene’s Amazon Author Page

And

The Your Life with Rheumatoid Arthritis website

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