Category Archives: editing

Top 10 Alternatives to National Novel Writing Month

I wish nothing but success to those writer friends of mine who are in the middle of NaNoWriMo. But for those who didn’t join in the verbosity, here are my Top 10 ways you can fill the remainder of the month with your own nifty writing challenges.

# 10:  NaWriBacMo:  (National Write on Bacon Month) Try to write a novel on strips of bacon! Trust me, it’s not easy…er…I mean, I imagine it’s quite a challenge.

#  9:  NaStaEdMo:  (National Stalk an Editor Month)  This is really self-explanatory…not to mention the fact that it will most likely leave you with taser marks and research material from the local jail.

#  8:  NaDaParMo:  (National Dangling Participle Month) Being snarky with this activity, the month will go by quickly.

#  7:  NaFloBoPaAwaMo:  (National Floating Body Parts Awareness Month) Turn your favorite floating body parts into characters in a story. Write an entire novel featuring them!

#  6:  NaPoHoCoYoLaMo:  (National Pour Hot Coffee in Your Lap Month) Try different blends and see which one gets the old blood pumping the fastest. This is also a good cure for Writers Block…never mind how I know that.

#  5:  NaCreWePeNaMo:  (National Create Weird Pen Names Month) Just imagine you couldn’t write using your real name–due to legal ramifications connected with # 9–and come up with a new weird pen name every day. I’d give you suggestions, but I’m saving those for another Top 10 List.

#  4:  NaWriWhiWeSpanMo (National Write While Wearing Spandex Month)  Just because.  And I strongly discourage mixing this one with # 9 because…well, it could get real ugly.

#  3:  NaPreTeDeMo (National Pretend to be Ted Dekker Month). See how many books you can sign at Barnes and Noble before they kick you out.

#  2:  NaDreLiYoFaAuMo (National Dress Like Your Favorite Author Month)  I’ll just let you conjure up your own images on this one. All I can say is there REALLY needs to be more male authors in ACFW!

#  1:  NaPoSarGeHiBaNeNaMoKaQuZiLaPoMo  I have no idea what this means, but it will take you a month to make something up yourself. Besides…it’s just plain fun to say. In fact, just walk up to someone and say it, then turn around and walk away. Enjoy!

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Filed under books, Christian Fiction, editing, Larry W. Timm, Top 10 List, Top Ten list, Writing

Top 10 Unfortunate Responses to a Book Proposal

I just submitted my first book proposal. Now I’m worried how it’s going to be received. And that led me to today’s Top 10 list. Here’s what my weary and worried mind came up with:

Top 10 Unfortunate Responses to a Book Proposal:

# 10:  “ROFLOL! By the way, when will you sending the real proposal?”

#  9:  “Thanks for letting me read your book proposal. I haven’t slept this good in a long time!”

#  8:  “Were you drunk when you wrote this?”

#  7:  “Dear Mr. Timm, you can’t list Jim Rubart as an endorser of your book just because he said ‘Hello’ to you at a conference. And Nancy Mehl said the restraining order is not just a joke. Additionally, you can’t say that Chevy Chase is co-author simply because you sort of look like him.”

#  6:  “Your proposal was greatly appreciated. Our parrot, Mr. Snarky, has diarrhea, and we are out of newspaper.

#  5:  “Having read your book proposal, I’ve believe the best way to fix the problems within the pages is to hold the entire proposal by the upper left hand corner, and then set the bottom right hand corner on fire.

#  4:  “After reading your proposal, the editors of four publishing houses have met and unanimously agreed that you’re insane. Have a nice day.”

#  3:  “Please be informed that our legal department has carefully studied the marketing plan you submitted with your proposal–along with the photographs and drawings you unfortunately  provided–and we have determined that all of your ideas are either illegal, physically impossible, or would require surgery to undo.”

#  2:  “Dear Larry, while it’s true that Dr. Seuss wrote some really suspenseful stories, and although we agree that some might think of The Grinch that Stole Christmas as a real spine-tingler, you need to send us more recent comparable titles right away.”

#  1:  “I’m sorry to report that a swarm of dung beetles has rolled your book proposal away. Better luck next time.”

 

Okay, friends…if I get any of these responses I’ll let you know. Have a nice day.

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Top 10 Save-the-ACFW-Journal fundraiser Ideas

Several months ago I shared this list on the ACFW email loop, but never put it on my blog. Sooooo, in light of the announcement from ACFW’s Executive Board about discontinuing the Journal due to cost concerns, I’ve decided to post the list here. Many ACFW members have enjoyed reading the Journal, and I still consider having an article in the premier issue a highpoint in my writing life. But the only way to save the Journal is for money to be raised to keep it in publication. Therefore I humbly submit:

The Top 10 Save-the-ACFW-Journal fundraiser ideas:

# 10:  Request a grant from the Federal Government…they seem to have unlimited amounts of “free” money to give away.

#  9:  Create a “Mug-of-the-Month” Club where ACFW members sell their unwashed coffee mugs to each other, with the proceeds going to the Journal.

# 8:  Sell a CD of the ACFW Executive Board singing their favorite show tunes.

# 7:  A telethon featuring ACFW authors acting out scenes from one of their books, while viewers call in and pay them to stop it.

# 6:  An online auction of the “dancing elephant” from the conference in St. Louis a few years ago.

# 5:  Open a museum of “floating body parts” and charge admission. (However, it shouldn’t cost an arm and an leg….bwahahaha…uh hmmm…I digress)

# 4:  Instead of the traditional pitching sessions that happen at every conference, make each writer pay an entry fee to stand on stage and read their manuscript out loud in front of a panel of agents, editors, and cranky reviewers. Panel members get to scream, “Rejection!” and shoot red paint balls at the writer when they spot a problem in the manuscript. The writer that survives the longest gets a contract and also wins one of the mugs mentioned in #9.

# 3:  Have me, Michael Ehret, and Peter Leavell do a benefit opera. We’ll call ourselves the Track-Change Tenors and dress in red tuxedos, complete with red cowboy hats and red cowboy boots. Undoubtedly Michael will demand that red bow ties be optional.

# 2:  A pay-per-view Mixed Martial Arts octagon challenge between writers and the agents or editors who have rejected them in the past (complete with tights and stage names)

# 1:  As much as this one gives me the dry heaves, I recognize that it may work since the majority of ACFW’s membership is female…How about selling a Men of ACFW Kilt Calendar?

I hope this helps. And I pray that #1 will never be necessary.

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Multiple Choice Test: Are YOU ready for conference?

Are you going to conference in a few weeks? Are you nervous, wondering if you’re really ready to face what awaits you? Well, fear not, my fellow writer…I’m here to help 🙂 . Below is a multiple choice test to see if you really are ready to sit down in front of an agent or editor and–with a straight face–say, “Yes. I’m a writer.” They just may ask to see your score from this test…or maybe not. But take it any way.

1.  ACFW stands for:

A. Always Crafty Fickle Wordsmiths

B.  Antsy Creative Friendly Weirdos

C. American Christian Fiction Writers

 

2.   If facing a sagging middle, a writer should:

A.  Slip into a girdle.

B.  Think about someone fatter.

C.  Revise, Cut, Polish

 

3.  What’s the best way to view a prospective agent?

A.  With binoculars

B.  From under the partition in the bathroom stall.

C.  As a respected professional.

 

4.  When told you have a POV problem, be sure to:

A. Cover your entire body in antibiotic cream and ask someone to scratch the places you can’t reach.

B.  Cover your face and yell, “Unclean! Unclean!” whenever someone approaches.

C.  Seek help from a critique partner or an editor.

 

5.  What is Writer’s Block?

A.  A neighborhood where only Authors live.

B.  The place writers go to get their taxes done.

C.  A frustrating time of little or no progress.

 

6.  What is genre?

A. A brother to Barbra. (Sound it out and think about it)

B.  A snooty Frenchman.

C.  A category of literature characterized by similarities in form, style, or subject matter.

 

7.  What is a metaphor?

A.  For cows to graze in.

B.  Half of a meta-eight.

C.  A figure of speech containing an implied comparison.

 

8.  When addressing an editor, you should begin by saying:

A.  “What’s shakin’, Oh mighty Gatekeeper?”

B.  “I hope you brought your stretchy pants, ’cause you’re gonna feast on my manuscript tonight!”

C.  “Thank you for your time.”

 

9.  Self-publishing is:

A.  The photocopies you made of your hand, face, and whatever else before you were thrown out of Kinkos.

B.  The short story your wrote on your belly with a permanent marker.

C.  A growing trend in Fiction.

 

10. The most exciting thing about this year’s conference is:

A. That creepy Larry W. Timm won’t be there.

B.  The opportunity to see if you can break your indoor dessert eating record at the banquet.

C.  Seeing old friends and making new ones.

 

If you answered all the questions with “C”, you are ready. If, however, you chose anything else, you are sick and should wait a year before going to conference. Okay, that’s harsh, but don’t come crying to me if someone asks you one of these important questions and you get it wrong. I tried to prepare you. 🙂

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Poem of a really bad pitch

Somewhere a writer is preparing to pitch to an editor. They want to stand out from the crowd, but aren’t sure how to make themselves different. The following poem is an example of how NOT to pitch. It is part poem, part song, and all one big mistake. 🙂

I stared back at the editor

and flashed a nervous grin,

and thought about her question

and how I should begin.

“What’s the book about? you ask?”

She nodded so polite.

“It’s about 400 pages,” I said,

“I counted them just last night.”

“There’s lots of words and pictures

and so the story you will know…”

I opened up my leather case

and pulled out my banjo.

“I wanted to be different,” I said.

“And, my pitch, it won’t take long.

You’ll find all of your answers

in the words to this here song….

[I played the theme to The Beverly Hillbillies and sang…]

Come and listen to the story of my bestseller

about a lady teacher and a wine-maker,

who met one day while walking on the vineyard path;

and this is a story I call The Grapes Of Math.

Love it was, purple love, bubbly love.

The next thing ya know the trouble did begin,

her kinfolk said, “Ellie, why did you pick him?”

Angrily she answered, “I don’t care what you say.

I derned proud to be Ellie Chardonnay!”

A grape that is, smushed by feet, for the juice.

Well now it’s time to say good-by to Ellie and Merlot

(that’s the winemaker’s name, I guess you ought to know);

they had a son, as the story will tell…..

and after a toast, the named him Zinfendel.

A boy he was, with big feet, for stompin’ grapes.

Just Book One in a series…ya hear?

[I put my banjo down, then winked at the editor]

She shook her head, her forehead creased;

she swallowed hard, then blinked.

“You might be sick or just insane.

I don’t know what to think!”

I handed her my one sheet,

grabbed my banjo and my straw hat

and said, “You will be sorry

that you rejected The Grapes Of Math!”

I came to a conclusion

as I stood and walked away:

Literature just isn’t ready

for Merlot Chardonnay!

 

I hope your pitching goes better. Could it get any worse?

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Please observe the rules…guidelines…suggestions

Sometime ago, during my years as a funeral director, I was at a church preparing for a funeral. I was passing through their fellowship hall and a sign on the wall caught my attention. It read, “Please observe Parish Hall rules: NO tape on walls!”

I’ll give you one guess how the sign was attached to the wall. Yep…tape.

I have a great respect for the craft of writing, and especially for those who have earned the right to make observations about what works and what doesn’t. I am learning–weekly it seems–that there is so much I don’t know and need to learn. Since I’m an expert at nothing, I am trying to be open-minded and devoted to doing what is necessary to improve my writing skills and my story-telling ability. So I seek advice, search out critiques of my work, and try to get to know those who are recognized as accomplished writers. I work hard and long to see what I’m doing right and what I’m doing wrong.

And I try to follow the rules…if I can figure them out. But isn’t okay to just admit that there aren’t really that many hard-and-fast rules in traditional-style publishing anymore? Sometimes, what is a rule for one writer just doesn’t apply to another. These custom-fit guidelines are important, to be sure, but sometimes new writers are confused because they are told not to do something that others are doing. They’re told, “it won’t work” or “so-and-so won’t publish it like this.” Then you find out, however, that another publisher will.

What’s a new writer to do?

First, understand that there’s a difference between a rule and a commandment. A rule is a solid guideline that describes the way something is expected to be done at the current time. A commandment is forever (God has never amended or revised His Ten Commandments.) Rules are sometimes proactive and sometimes reactive. They are useful for structure. Rules change when it’s demonstrated that “it can be done another way.”

Humility and respect are the keys, in my opinion. The simple fact is, as an unpublished and unknown writer, I haven’t earned the right to toss the “rules” aside. I don’t have the same unspoken permission the bend/break the rules because I haven’t sold any books yet…I don’t have a track record of making anyone any money. I can pout, whine, complain, and get all snarky, but what good does that do? Or I could just say, “Well, if I can’t do it the way I want to, I’ll just quit writing.” Yeah, that’ll show them. NOT!

So I try to learn what is expected, while also attempting to develop my own unique writer’s voice.

How do YOU handle this wrestling match with your own unique personality & style and the rules that are parts of the writing craft?

NOTE:  I invite you to “Like” my Author Page at www.facebook.com/larrywtimm  If you already have, please know that I appreciate it very much.

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Top 10 Ways to tell if a Writer’s Spouse is needing Attention

The writing journey is hard on writers. Can I get an “AMEN!”? Pressure…hard work…did I mention pressure?

But being married to a writer can also be stressful. With that in mind, I present to you the Top 10 Ways to tell if a Writer’s Spouse is needing Attention:

 

#10:  They’re making prank phone calls just so they can have someone real to talk to. And if the person is normal, that’s a bonus.

# 9:  They come to a book signing just so they can have some face-to-face time with their writer spouse. And they keep getting in line because they’ve “got a lot on their mind.”

# 8:  They walk around the house naked just to see if their spouse will notice.

# 7:  They get in trouble with the IRS because they tried to claim the characters of their spouse’s current writing project as dependents since “they’re sooooooooo important!”

# 6:  They picket their spouse’s writers group meeting and chant, “Watch more TV! Watch more TV!”

# 5:  They call the county courthouse and offer to “Track Change” their marriage license.

# 4:  They have a shirt made that says, I got your inciting incident right here!

# 3:  They refer to their children as “precious consequences of writer’s block.”

# 2:  After planning the family vacation, they dance around the house and giggle profusely because they managed to find a spot in the desert that is hundreds of miles from a Barnes & Noble or a Starbucks.

# 1:  They call 9-1-1 and claim that an unfinished manuscript is holding their spouse hostage, and add, “the office is in the apartment above the garage…bring tear gas and those things that flash and go BOOM!

How about we just be sure to take care of the wonderful spouses that support us, so we avoid any of the above?

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Kickin’ some “Buts”

Excuses abound. Every writer has them. They’re the “but” that finds its way into our day and brings a writing project to a halt…or stops it from ever taking its first step.

“I want to write a novel, BUT ________________________________.”

“I would finish this project, BUT _________________________________.”

“I know I should learn the craft better, BUT ___________________________.”

“I know what my critique partner said, BUT __________________________.”

“Maybe I should be more disciplined, BUT _____________________________.”

“It would be nice to attend a conference or writers group, BUT ____________________.”

“I’d enter my writing in a contest, or ask someone to read it, BUT __________________.”

BUT…BUT…BUT…BUT…BUT…BUT…BUT…………………

All together now, let’s get jiggy with it and scream, “I HATE THESE BUTS AND I CAN NOT LIE….” (that concludes the rap reference part of this post)

There are many other examples of when a “but” intrudes on our writing life. And there countless ways to fill in the blanks. I’m willing to bet that you are like me (no insult intended) and could fill in the blanks above with more than one reason/excuse/cop-out. Before you slap a knot on my head, let me hasten to add that undoubtedly there are legitimate reasons that we are unable to start or continue a project, or enter a contest, or go to conference or whatever the case may be. However, honesty and maturity will force us to face the fact that often–quite often–we are simply making excuses.

I urge you to sit down and have an honest chat with yourself and your muse and say, “It’s time to do some “BUT” kicking!

Are YOU up to the challenge?

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A Bad Book Signing: The Poem

Disclaimer:  For the record let it be stated that I love Barnes & Noble, Ted Dekker, Sharpies and have been known to down a Frappe or two. The experience expressed by this dramatic, life-changing bit of poetry is fictional, except for the part about a van, because…well, I own a van. And I promise that no book displays were harmed in the writing of this poem. Do not try this on your own…or with anyone else for that matter. Thank you. 🙂

And now, I bring to you my poem A BAD BOOK SIGNING or THE DAY I BOUGHT $900 WORTH OF BOOKS AT BARNES & NOBLE.

 

I was sitting at Barnes & Noble, sipping a Frappe

and jumped two inches from my chair when I heard somebody say,

“What do you think you’re doing with that Sharpie and those books?”

a red-faced gal stood there, giving me a dirty look.

 

I cleared my throat and smiled, not real sure just what to do,

it was then that I noticed her full-color I LOVE BOOKS tattoo.

“I can explain,” I said, and I hoped I was not whining.

“I’m a writer and I’m here for a surprise book signing.”

 

She glared down at the table and my mind, it went to reeling.

She said, “You’re a big fat liar.” And I said, “You hurt my feelings.”

Pointing at the stack of books, she yelled, “You’re NOT Stephen King!

And you look nothing like the Tom Clancy that I’ve seen!”

 

She gasped and then continued, “And Bond? Or Brown? Or Sparks?

And I am really veeeeeeeeery sure you’re not Mary Higgins Clark.”

I knew if I could just out run her, I’d be off the hook

because I’d signed somebody else’s name in every single book.

 

I darted to the right, and then I leaped the railing,

and landed on a big display of books all about yacht sailing.

Then I found another speed when I heard her say,

“Harold, call the cops…and someone get my pepper spray.”

 

I turned left at the calendars but she was closing in,

I ran past all the Horror books, a chill upon my skin.

She cut me off at Journals, I headed for non-fiction,

and sprinted past the books on how to remodel a kitchen.

 

I flew on by the travel guides and coffee table books,

banked hard at the book lights and raced past all the Nooks,

down the aisle with the books on how to fight infection,

until she got me cornered in the children’s section.

 

She aimed her pepper spay, so I offered up a plan,

we gathered all books I signed and put them in my van.

Nine hundred dollars worth of books went home with me that day;

each and every one in which I’d signed Ted Dekker’s name.

 

I learned a real good lesson on that book signing day,

and as a public service I pass it on your way;

The moral of the story is crystal clear to see:

if I ever do get published…I’ll sign the books as me!

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Top 10 Wrong Ways To Deal With or Avoid a Sagging Middle

This is not a post filled with diet and physical fitness tips. I’m not what you’d call a real good role model in that particular area. I did buy a pair of running shoes a while back, and if you just look at my feet, I look like a runner. However, if you scan up from there, the illusion is quickly blown (but I digress).

I don’t run. I don’t even hike…wait, did I say hike? Well what do you know…hike rhymes with like! And since you mentioned it, I’d be appreciative if you’d hike over to my Author Page and click Like. It’s at www.facebook.com/larrywtimm I’d love to break the 200 mark by the end of August. Tell your friends to go there too. The person who is my 200th Like may just win something (of course they may not, but let’s not dwell on that now.)

As writers, we all have had to deal with middles (of our manuscripts) that are saggy. Perhaps even sluggish and unappealing (which is how people often describe me). We seek out advice on how to deal with and/or avoid the dreaded sagging middle.

“Larry, do you happen to have any advice on what to do?”

Thanks for asking. But…nope, I don’t know what to tell you to do, but here are some things not to do. It’s my duty & pleasure to introduce…the Top 10 Wrong Ways To deal With or Avoid a Sagging Middle:

#10:  By having a blurb on the front cover that boldly declares, “This is the first novel in history in which the brilliant author has skipped the middle all together!

# 9:  By claiming that the middle has international intrigue just because you put an “o” on the end of every other word so readers will really like the the “el-middle-o.”

# 8:  By including a bibliography of “books that have more horrible middles than mine.”

# 7:  By putting a pop up section in the middle so that when opened paper villains jump up from the page and scare people to death.

# 6:  By printing the middle on edible paper so that readers can “at least get something good from it.”

# 5:  By drawing a little cartoon character in the upper right hand corner that looks likes he’s running from a stick Grizzly bear when people flip through the middle chapters really fast.

# 4:  Put 100 blank pages in the middle so that “readers can write their own snappy middle…if they think it’s sooooo easy!”

# 3:  Fill the middle chapters with 20 car chases, 14 gun battles, 12 knife fights, 10 kissy-face scenes, 8 explosions, 6 sharks, 4 pits of nasty snakes, 3 hurricanes, 2 giant ill-tempered turtle doves, and 1 immodest partridge in a pear tree. (and, no, I have no idea what that means).

# 2:  By putting in a “Smells of the Bible” scratch-n-sniff section.

# 1:  By dedicating the book to “My dear, sweet, recently deceased mother who used her last breaths of life to dictate the middle of this book, right after she single-handedly saved 75 poor, blind children from roaring inferno that swept through their orphanage on Christmas Eve…so they could live to enjoy the box full of puppies and kittens that Mommy had purchased for them from the humane society…with the money she’d received by selling her fake leg. It was a good thing she recently been evicted from her home by evil bankers and that the walls of her old cardboard box in the alley were thin enough to hear the little frightened voices calling for help from the broken windows of the condemned building they called home. The middle of this book meant a lot to my mom…I hope you like it too.”

Now…how does YOUR middle look?

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