We have another letter form the Queen! Today Laura shares some tricks and tools for making your social distancing fruitful for your writing projects. She references Amazon books, and I have inserted links in the titles to make them easy for you to find at Amazon. Just click on the title, and you are there! I will also have a few comments on the Amazon maze after her letter to you.
Okay, let’s try and get some work done!
First of all: what the hell are you wearing? I don’t mean your pants. I don’t care if you are wearing pants or not. I mean I care/not care. What I’m talking about is what are you wearing on your feet?
Shuffling around in your bedroom slippers at home makes you feel sloppy, unproductive, and frankly: sick.
If you are worried about bringing germs in the house with your regular shoes, wipe the bottoms of your shoes with one of those precious bleach-y wipes you’ve been hording for other reasons.
Pants/no pants, put your socks and shoes on! Doing that will literally give you the support you need to get some shit done. Writing, too. It will also facilitate Hokey Pokey-ing around the yard during your 10-minute breaks after 45 minutes of writing/planning to write. Yup, that’s the schedule (see what I did there?).
Here’s a plan for getting some shit done: If you have a manuscript started, re-read the whole thing. Now. Really, this will get your head right back where it needs to be and is more productive that looking at the blank page and nodding your head to the bouncing curser, waiting for inspiration. It really helped me get revved up this week!
After doing that or if you haven’t started a manuscript, read something teachable and learnable.
Over the past few months, I’ve told you about some of my favorite Pretend Boyfriends who don’t know I exist, and have written some great writing books. Since you forgot, I’ve made a list for you. Each book is a sentence. Because I think that makes it more dramatic, not because I think it’s grammatically correct. It’s a list in no particular order of importance or romantic fantasy. And very little commentary. (Not “no commentary,” ‘cause, have you met me?!) Here ya go:
Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One & Never Lets Them Go by Les Edgerton (He wrote some of this from prison, but it doesn’t mean he hasn’t learned something about getting hooked. And caught). The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman (Helps you get noticed by an agent!). The First 50 Pages by Jeff Gerke (Just helps). The Elements of Storytelling by Peter Rubie. Story Tumps Structure by Steven James (okay he’s my favorite.). Troubleshooting Your Novel by Steven James (see?). Secrets of Story by Matt Bird (he’s probably really cute!). The Last 50 Pages by James Scott Bell (This will change your life! You can troubleshoot what you’ve already written to get the best ending ever. Not a “happy ending” but that’s a whole ‘nuther kind of thing. But really this is sooo good and you can read and understand it in one afternoon! He usta be a lawyer so he can, arguably, convince you to make your writing better so you can not just drive, but Arrive!). The Art of Subtext Beyond Plot by Charles Baxter (You’ll have to re-read this a few times!). Dreyer’s English by Benjamin Dreyer (which will make you laugh out loud a great many times!).
The above use literary and cinematic references to give you concrete examples of what the hell they are talking about.
Now for the girls! These female authors are contemporary and also give concrete examples for you to cruise and use.
Make a Scene by Jordan Rosenfeld (and I like the title for something to rebel against!). Understanding Show, Don’t Tell (And Really Getting It) by Janice Hardy (teaching you how to find and fix shit in your writing). 90 days to Your Novel by Sarah Domet. It Was the Best of Sentences, It Was the Worst of Sentences by June Casagrande (I also like this one because it’s a riff on one of my family’s favorite phrases!). The Scene Book, a Primer for the Fiction Writer by Sandra Scofield (who proves that every scene has a pulse!). Story Genius by Lisa Cron (Planning from idea to wired brain writer). Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody (Changes the way you think about story!). Writing the Fiction Series: The Complete Guide For Novels and Novellas by Karen Wiesner. Writing With Emotion, Tension, & Conflict by Cheryl St. John. AND DYI MFA by Gabriela Pereira (It’s more than a How To book, it gives a plan like a fun kind of classroom, and you can sign up for e-mail letters to keep you going!).
And how do you get these beauties now, in the Time of Chingona Virus? Amazon! If you sign up for Amazon Prime, you’ll get free shipping on books and a whole bunch of new tv and movies things to watch (on your Roku or Smart Thing). A year-long subscription is $106 and now there is a monthly payment option instead of a big ol’ one-time payment. All online! I like to have these kinds of craft books in paperback so I can (gasp!) mark them up! These are the kind of books you want to go back to time and again and, as your skill progresses, you will need different chapters that speak to your changing needs. It’s like learning a new language. When you have mastered some basics, you suddenly hear “new” things because you know more things, now.
Yeah, I know: Big Biz, Independent Bookstores, blah, blah, blah. But this is the time of Chingona Virus and you need to stay the eff home AND get shit done. When it’s safe to go to the Indy stores, we will. But that’s not now, so don’t think your patriotic duty is anything other than staying the eff home.
There is also Amazon’s Kindle to get these books to you right away. There is a “note taking” function on the Kindle but I think it’s hard to use. So you can take notes like, on paper and stuff. Kindle magically gets your books to you immediately after purchase and opens them on your device when you are near wifi, and is usually cheaper by a few dollars to buy this electronic way than paper books. You will have these books forever on your Kindle.
If you don’t have a Kindle, you might want to get one online now! It’s about $50, on sale at different times. It’s as big as the old kind of paperback novel and weighs just a couple ounces. Get the little “stand” ($12) with it and you can read hands free! You will also get lots of new tv and movie things to watch on your Kindle Fire if you purchase Amazon Prime! Makes tv portable, and you can carry hundreds of books on it, too! There is a “help” telephone/online number to help you set it up (Honestly, it’s very easy, takes seconds, and much easier than setting up a computer!).
Of course, you can get Amazon Prime on your PC, too and read/watch your stuff there. It’s a much bigger screen than a Kindle, but you might be at the mercy of a cord or a laptop battery.
Which ever way you get to these books, get to them! You need to jump-start your writing again, and try to not obsess over, well, all this. And stay the eff home!
Laura referenced Amazon for purchasing your books while we cannot hit the brick-and-mortar stores that might be our favorite indy establishment. I wanted to let you know one thing to be aware of while shopping at Amazon: you easily have the ability to purchase books in multiple formats. The links above all go to the Kindle versions. You also have the option of purchasing softcover, hardcover, and all sorts of editions of the books. You can even purchase them from ‘independent sellers’ through Amazon.
You need to stay aware of exactly which version/edition you are purchasing, and be sure you look at all of your options. When I looked up Laura’s first book, the page I landed on listed the Kindle, softcover, and hardcover version. The Kindle version was $13.99, the softcover version was listed at $54.89, and the hardcover at $112.70. I went to the Kindle version for the link to provide in this post, and I saw that the softcover version here was listed at $23.99, and the hardcover for $25.00. Sometimes the links go to off-site non-Amazon sellers who are selling through Amazon. I don’t think Amazon was trying to rip anybody off, but you do need to look around at exactly what you are purchasing.
One of the books Laura mentioned was DIY MFA. I have mentioned that book on this blog before. It’s not just a book; it’s a program that you can use as little or as much of as you want. In addition to the book, which is a great one in its own right, you can follow the blog, podcasts, and many videos for free. There are also class options and different levels of engaging with DIY MFA that cost money. Look for another blog post on the DIY MFA program soon.
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