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    Q&A 1 for New or Aspiring Writers


    2007 - 02.22

    Cross-posted from MySpace:

    Do you have to get a copyright on your stories before you send the manuscripts to publishing companies to review?

    A writer’s work is considered copyrighted as soon as it is written. You don’t have to file for added protection before sending a story or novel out into the world to be sold (and putting a copyright statement on your manuscript brands you as a NON-professional, so beware).

    How did you got started on your writing career?

    Since I was a teenager, I dabbled in fiction, but never finished anything unless it was for a school assignment. My first published writing was nonfiction. I wrote math and management workbooks for the army while working for Big Bend Community College. After that, I became a technical writer for a national lab. It wasn’t until after I met author Kevin J Anderson — five years my junior — that I finally realized that no one just “gives” you the time to write. I had to “take” the time. Both Kevin and author Janet Kagan pointed out a key to writing success that had not occurred to me: unfinished stories don’t get published. I went home and finished a story, and the rest is history. Since then, I’ve written or co-written more than 30 books and a handful of short stories.

    What college courses would you suggest for someone who wants to write for a living?

    First, let me give you a warning, for what it’s worth. Just taking college English/Writing courses will not make you a writer.

    Personal Anecdote: I took creative writing in college from a professor who savaged everything I wrote. I had wanted to be a writer since I was a teenager, and I thought, “I’m a pretty decent writer. My father’s an English teacher, so I’ve always known how to string together coherent sentences, and isn’t that what writing’s all about?” (FYI there’s a lot more to writing than that, but it’s the subject of another blog.) Unfortunately, everything I did was wrong from this writing prof’s point of view. Wrong, wrong, wrong. I was crushed. Every time a student in the class wrote something that I thought just kicked butt — so good everybody in the class was saying “Wow!” — the teacher ripped it to shreds.

    After about ten years of no writing whatsoever, I realized something about the professor: his publishing experience consisted of a single chapbook of poetry — a couple hundred copies. Other than taking writing classes in college (which I also did), that was the sum total of his literary “authority.” Yet he had essentially mired me in doubt by convincing me that I was a terrible writer. Kevin has a completely different caveat about college writing professors. Ask him about it. Some profs are wonderful, while others can actually be stumbling blocks to you in your pursuit of a writing career. (Note: If you are a professor and are reading this, you’re probably not the latter type.)

    So what should you take? Since writers are frequently advised, “Write what you know,” I suggest taking a wide variety of subjects that you can use as fodder for stories. History can be particularly helpful, since it is full of potential story plots. Kevin took Astronomy and Russian History. I took lots of literature, languages, and music. I also have an M.S. in Business Administration, which I’ve always found useful in running our writing business.

    Until next time.

    ciao,*

    Rebecca

    *This multipurpose Italian salutation is used in an advised, tongue-in-cheek manner and in no way implies a corresponding chicness, shallowness, or worldliness on the part of the author. (Additional pejoratives may apply. Void where prohibited by law. Ask your physician if Ciao is right for you.)

    Genre Chick Interview


    2007 - 01.24

    Cross-posted from MySpace:

    Just found out that an interview that I did with my friend Janet Young from Ingram is up now on the Ingram’s site. To read it, follow this link to Reader’s Advisor.

    It answers a lot of questions that I get asked, and then some. Hope you enjoy it.

    ciao,*

    Rebecca

    *This multipurpose Italian salutation is used in an advised, tongue-in-cheek manner and in no way implies a corresponding chicness, shallowness, or worldliness on the part of the author. (Additional pejoratives may apply. Void where prohibited by law. Ask your physician if Ciao is right for you.)

    Podcast Interviews!


    2006 - 10.28

    Cross-posted from MySpace:

    I recorded an interview with Sheila and Lorrie of DragonPage with Class when I was at Dragon*Con this year. To hear it, follow this link to DragonPage.

    For you writers or would-be writers out there, DragonPage also has a podcast of Kevin’s and my WorldCon panel on the Business of Writing. If you have ever had the urge to ask us for advice, this is a great place to start. Let me know what you think!

    ciao,*

    Rebecca

    *This multipurpose Italian salutation is used in an advised, tongue-in-cheek manner and in no way implies a corresponding chicness, shallowness, or worldliness on the part of the author. (Additional pejoratives may apply. Void where prohibited by law. Ask your physician if Ciao is right for you.)

    Writers’ Heaven


    2006 - 10.26

    Cross-posted from MySpace:

    As of right now, the blizzard of 2006 has left about 18″ of snow at our house, with drifts well over 3 feet deep. The winds were up to 50 mph, and the snow blew sideways most of the day creating whiteout conditions. Whee! That meant that no WordFire employees could come in to work, there were no deliveries, no repair people came, very few phone calls. Yippee! And my commute is about 30 feet down the hall. Blizzards are quite lovely under these circumstances.

    Kevin knew about the blizzard, so he and hiking partner Tim headed off to Moab yesterday with my nephew Spencer for a long weekend of hiking and writing in beautiful Utah.

    As Kevin always says, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” And we are, indeed, lucky!

    May all of you enjoy the bliss now and then of uninterrupted work on something you love in a beautiful environment.

    ciao,*

    Rebecca

    P.S. Deb, one of my bestest buddies for more than a decade (and president of Kevin’s fan club), is fairly new to MySpace. She is 2nd on my friends list. Would some of you please welcome and befriend her?

    *This multipurpose Italian salutation is used in an advised, tongue-in-cheek manner and in no way implies a corresponding chicness, shallowness, or worldliness on the part of the author. (Additional pejoratives may apply. Void where prohibited by law. Ask your physician if Ciao is right for you.)

    Writing about Writing


    2006 - 10.22

    Cross-posted from MySpace:

    In the coming weeks, I’ll be posting various bits of wisdom that Kevin and I offer in our writing workshop (Writing 201: Things I Wish Some Pro Had Told Me). Most of the advice applies perfectly well to art, acting, computer programming — whatever your field is. Just replace a word or two, and you’re good to go.

    For now, I’ll start where we always start, with the classic writing advice of Robert A. Heinlein. Read it.

    Heinlein’s Rules of Writing
    1) You must write.
    2) You must finish what you write.
    3) You must refrain from rewriting, except to editorial order.
    4) You must put the work on the market.
    5) You must keep the work on the market until it is sold.

    Kevin’s addendum to Heinlein’s Rules
    6) Repeat from step one.

    That’s the foundation. If you’re looking for advice on being a writer and you’re not following the classic advice, start now! Remember, a writer writes.

    Until next time.

    ciao,*

    Rebecca

    *This multipurpose Italian salutation is used in an advised, tongue-in-cheek manner and in no way implies a corresponding chicness, shallowness, or worldliness on the part of the author. (Additional pejoratives may apply. Void where prohibited by law. Ask your physician if Ciao is right for you.)

    What’s in a Name?


    2006 - 09.24

    Cross-posted from MySpace:

    My view of Manners 101 indicates that, if only to be polite, people should make an attempt to pronounce a name the way its owner does. You ask for guidance once or twice, then you say it correctly from then on, right? How hard could that be, really? Pretty tough, if experience is anything to go by.

    I long ago got over the idea that people would pronounce my name correctly. Lost cause. Seriously. Some of my best friends still have no clue after a decade or more, bless ’em.

    What’s that? Well, since you asked, my name’s pronounced MESS-tuh (like ‘messed up’ without the ‘p’). If you can’t remember, I won’t hold it against you, just as I don’t hold a grudge against any of my friends for it. There’s no point. Life is full of things to get righteously angry about, and mispronouncing my name isn’t one of them.

    But I do allow myself to get *annoyed* about this: although Jo Rowling is closing in on a decade of being one of the most celebrated names in the history of publishing, that name is butchered in the media on an hourly (or perhaps minute-ly) basis. This is both rude and completely unnecessary.

    Go onto jkrowling.com, click on Biography, and read. Right in her official bio, she says this:
    ‘Rowling’ (the first syllable of which is pronounced ‘row’ as in boat, rather than ‘row’ as in argument) lent itself to woeful jokes such as ‘Rowling stone’, ‘Rowling pin’ and so on.

    With this information available right on the author’s web page, every news anchor, talk show host, librarian, book seller, conventioneer, and fan should get it right.

    Right? No excuses, now!

    Please join me in my campaign to show a little respect for the woman who has given us so much reading pleasure. I think she’s earned it. Keep rolling, Jo. We’re waiting for that seventh book.

    ciao,*

    Rebecca

    *This multipurpose Italian salutation is used in an advised, tongue-in-cheek manner and in no way implies a corresponding chicness, shallowness, or worldliness on the part of the author. (Additional pejoratives may apply. Void where prohibited by law. Ask your physician if Ciao is right for you.)