Save Thyme & Avoid Common Mistakes — The Beginning

In my first article, Save Thyme and Avoid Common Mistakes, I discussed the importance of attending writers’ conferences and a common newbie mistake — pitching a book that was not written. This next article will focus on the beginning — the beginning of your book, your writing career, and essential tools of the trade.

Save Thyme & Avoid Common Mistakes — The Beginning

If you don’t take into consideration the two years my story brewed in my mind, this first writers conference was my beginning. If you can get into a clinic at a writers’ conference, I highly recommend it. It’s intense, and you get one-on-one assistance with an experienced writer, agent, editor… . This input is invaluable.

Because your application for a clinic typically includes the first 15 pages, you want to make sure those 15 pages are the absolute best they can be. Write, rewrite, and write again. Have others read it and see if you have a writer friend who can also give you input (more on writers’ groups and critique groups later). When you think it’s there, set it aside for as long as possible (I prefer a week) so that you see it with fresh eyes, and read it out loud. It’s amazing what your ears catch that your eyes miss.

CCWC: Estes Rock Banner 2016

Although my manuscript was not written, I did write the first 15 pages to apply to a beginners fiction clinic that was team taught by two well-known authors. The beginning is always critical to capture your audience, whether it’s an agent, publisher or your reader. I realized during this particular clinic that I was chosen not because of my story (the first 15 pages did not reveal much), but because of the mistakes I made in the beginning. Nothing I had grabbed my reader — not the title nor the first sentence, first paragraph, or first page. Nada.

supernatural, fog, night, writing, publishing, story, fiction, novel, mistakes, writing mistakes, Thyme for Writers, journey, Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado, agents, editors, craft, skills, writers conference, tools, titles
The Supernatural – Fact or Fiction? Night Fog …

This first clinic got my act together. At the start of this clinic, we went around the room reading our first sentences. The rule — NEVER begin a book with the weather. Most of us did. Think about how you choose a book, whether it’s your next library choice or book to buy.

Most people:
  • Check the title. Does it sound interesting?
  • Read the back cover copy. Still interested?
  • Open the book to the first page and read the first sentence. Still interested?
  • Read the first paragraph, and maybe even the first page. Getting it?
Writers’ Tools
writing, publishing, story, fiction, novel, mistakes, writing mistakes, Thyme for Writers, journey, Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado, agents, editors, craft, skills, writers conference, tools, titles
The Author Toolbox

 

This first conference also gave me a glimpse into what type of tools of the trade would make my life easier. Instead of sharing what I learned here, I recommend a more comprehensive source that’s tried and true — The Author Toolbox by Candee Fick.

 

 

The Title
Hidden Bloodlines, romantic suspense, Colorado Rockies, Karen Van Den Heuvel
Hidden Bloodlines

 

I needed a catchy and unique title. First, I brainstormed a list of 10 titles. Next, I did the research necessary to assure none of those titles were already taken in previously published works. I created survey sheets and waited outside each service at my church one weekend and asked people to choose and rank their top 3 titles. An overwhelming majority chose Hidden Bloodlines as their top choice.

 

I threw out my first chapter and started over. My first sentence went from the weather to:  “Victoria prosecuted the wrong man.”

What captures your interest?

Save Thyme and Avoid Common Mistakes

So many mistakes … so much time wasted. Save Thyme and Avoid Common Mistakes is the first in the Common Mistakes Series geared to help you save precious time getting that book published. I have first hand experience on making most if not all of them. With this new year upon us, my goal is to share my journey to make yours smoother and easier with quicker positive results.

The Story
writing, publishing, story, fiction, novel, mistakes, writing mistakes, Thyme for Writers, journey, Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado, agents, editors, craft, skills, writers conference
Save Thyme and Avoid Common Mistakes

As I mentioned in my article, Never Give Up!, I am a writer by profession. Although I have more than 100 published articles (most of which were ghost written), my heart’s desire was in the story. I yearned to write that novel and see it published. Even though I was an experienced writer, I quickly learned that fiction writing was a totally different “animal” and I set out to garner the necessary skills.

Hidden Bloodlines, romantic suspense, Colorado Rockies, Karen Van Den Heuvel
Hidden Bloodlines

Hidden Bloodlines started as a story triggered by a stay at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. After this story brewed in my mind for two years, I decided that the time was now and I attended my first writers conference.

A Conference Mistake

I successfully pitched my story to agents and publishers during that first conference, but made my first mistake as an conference newbie — I pitched a story that wasn’t written. It was in my head, but not on paper. Every single one of the editors and agents I pitched to, wanted to see a manuscript that did not exist. By the time I wrote it, revised it (I can’t remember how many times) and had it ready, 5 years had passed. Oops — a little late for that group of agents and editors who were either with different publishing houses or made career changes.

Colorado Christian Writers Conference

During those 5 years I worked on learning the craft and developing my skills as a fiction writer — essential if you want to be taken seriously and get published. I highly recommend attending writers conferences even if that story is not written. There are workshops and sessions geared toward honing your skills. Appointments are usually available with not just editors and agents, but writers, and other writing professionals. If you want to pitch a story idea, let the agents and editors know that it’s not written yet, then get on the horn and write it. They may be interested now, but not a year from now.

Do you have a story brewing?

The King and I with Diane Egge

I would like to welcome my next guest, Diane Egge on Thyme for Writers. Diane has had several poems, short stories, newspaper articles, and children’s stories published. According to Diane, she is currently being challenged by writing her first novel. Her frequently visited places include the back of her horse (especially in the mountains), behind the lens of her camera—still trying to take the perfect photo, playing the keys on her piano, or traveling with her husband to see their three kids and seven grandchildren.

children's stories, write, publish
How Many Cats Are in My Bed by Diane Egge
The King and I

by Diane Egge

God had Samuel anoint the young man, David, to be king over Israel. Being a shepherd and the youngest of eight brothers, I’m sure he felt awe, excitement, and confusion as to why he’d been chosen. Perhaps he had some unbelief also.

Thyme for Writers, Diane Egge
Blood, Water, Wind, and Stone
An Anthology of Wyoming Writers

God spoke to me that He wanted me to write. He said go to the local college and take creative writing classes. I did. I received all A’s, and I had some of my stories and poetry published. I had fun, and I loved to write.

David learned much about being a king by playing music in the courts of Saul. Then he proved himself as a warrior when he killed Goliath. Later, he led Saul’s armies into victory after victory. He seemed ready to be king.

God gave me a story to write. When I finished my first draft, I thought it was ready to be published. After all, God gave me the story, right? Wrong. I had not learned about POV, show not tell, and the many other things involved in writing a novel. I went into a season of revision.

When King Saul heard the people shout praises to the mighty warrior, David, he became jealous. He decided to kill his competition. David entered into a season of running for his life.

For both David and I, there have been obstacles and more obstacles. Even though mine haven’t been the life and death kind, they’ve still been discouraging. As the months turned into years, I’m sure David had some doubts about his calling, as I have. Did I hear you right, God? If this is you, why is it so hard and taking so long? Maybe I’m supposed to stick with poetry and short stories. After all, that’s what I’ve been successful doing. Success is the goal, right?

Yet, God’s answer to me is always the same. Write and get your book published. I’ve finally figured out it’s not so much about telling my story as learning to persevere and be obedient. David is my inspiration. He persisted until he became king.

Thyme for Writers, The King and I
Diane Egge

In spite of being stuck in revision, I still feel it’s fun to write. I’m thankful God has called me to create stories and put them on paper. Maybe this will be the year my manuscript gets published. If not, I will enjoy the journey.

You may either contact Diane or check out one of her works through the following links:

Facebook: Diane Egge Author
website: www.dianeegge.com
https://www.amazon.com/Blood-Water-Wind-Stone-Anthology/dp/1944986030/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1505249974&sr=1-1&keywords=blood%2C+water%2C+wind%2C+and+stone