Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Achieve Greatness!

Two weeks ago I was interviewed on the topic of inspiring others to greatness. Not that I'm an expert, but I am a student of the topic and I have endeavored to be self-aware enough to improve every day. On the days that I fall short, then I begin again, renewed in effort. 

I believe that an empty vessel cannot fill another vessel, so it is important to find things and people and beliefs that nurture. 

At one point I gave a reference to a video that I watch frequently. The premise is simple. It takes just a bit more effort to achieve greatness than to be average.

It goes something like this: 211 degrees is hot water. At 212 degrees water boils. Boiling water makes steam. Steam powers a locomotive.

Watch this:

That is all you need to know. One extra degree of effort makes all the difference; it makes greatness.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Slow Down! Sloooow Down!

While it makes sense in the human perspective to be excited that you've come to the point of submitting your ms for review, try not to rush through this exclusively important piece of the process.

You get one shot at a "First Impression," so don't blow it.

When I open the sample chapters and see a wonky looking file, I wonder what else you've rush through about the work.

Have you read it aloud from a printed format? You should. That is what I'm going to do if I have any interest in your work after reading the first page.

Use Control + * (in Word) to reveal hidden formatting symbols. Even without doing that and looking closely at your ms, you should notice that some of the quotation marks (especially the ending ones) are backward. Fix those.

I understand that quite a few beginning writers don't know that the first line of a new chapter is flush with the margin. I can overlook that. It is an easy fix.

But, you all should know that paragraphs begin with an indent; tab not spaced over with the spacebar. The idea of letting the software dictate your format is absolutely silly. If you've allowed the software to add a space between paragraphs with no indent for the new paragraph, that isn't the fiction format.

Look at the print novels from major publishers that you have on hand. Do they have a space between paragraphs? Nope. Now, go find a text book and look at that layout. Spaces between paragraphs! And by the way, we do not publish text books, so back track and fix your formatting...even if you are querying a literary agent or some other publisher.

You want to get things as right as you can because of that First Impression thing that happens when we first open your file.

Yes, of course, we read your sample chapters. We look for all of the elements that make a work great. However, we are small and if the formatting is going to be overly time consuming, we might pass if we have other works in the queue.

You've put a lot of time into your ms, present it in the best light possible with a darn good query letter, synopsis, and polished sample chapters.

Give yourself and your work the chance you deserve.