Wednesday, June 15, 2011

"Submit" Buttons

It's a scary thing, pressing that "submit" button. When do you do it? When is the writing ready to go? Is it ever really ready to go? How can one possibly answer these questions, especially when there's still that one paragraph (or stanza, or word, or scene, or whatever) that you, the writer, just know really could be better, and will clear up the writing and all of it's faults.

Eventually though, that submit button must be clicked. It is the only way to ever be published - to send your work out to someone else and say "this is good enough for you to publish."

But, before you can ever click on that "submit" button, a long road must first be travelled. Okay, two roads: the work must first be written, edited, polished, etc. Just for fun today, I'm assuming all that work is done, and you, like me, have an itchy finger looking for a "submit" button.

Where is the elusive submit button found? Googling "submit writing for publication" brings up enough results to make a girl's head spin, not to mention the many results on that search that are irrelevant, unhelpful, or just plain scandalous (that is an incredibly helpful blog right there, FYI). So, where to start?

Start with your writing. What are you writing? Is it fiction? Poetry? A new and exciting genre no one's heard about yet? How long is it? Is it a novel? A short story? A collection? Each of these are treated differently, not to mention publishers tend to prefer if you've published in one before another. (I feel a series coming on here). Send your work to the right place. You really don't want to send the editor of a literary journal your 200,000 word epic fantasy. They just won't publish it. But your 2,500 word short story about ice-cream eating, motor-cycle riding monkeys? Could be the perfect fit, depending on the journal.

Think about yourself. Do you have any publishing credits? While your story or novel could be the next great American classic, it's not likely that the Atlantic Monthly or Knopf will come knocking on your door without previous credits. That doesn't mean you can't get in, just a warning to be realistic about where you're at, and who will be more or less likely to publish your work.

And, of course, don't forget to think about the publisher itself. Is it a place you would be proud to have your name alongside? Are you okay with online-only publication? Do you think your work should be in print?

There are so very many options out there for you to click a "submit" button, and so many more questions to ask yourself before clicking that button and sending your writing out into the world. I'll continue to go over this for my next few posts, and follow that path to clicking "submit" for shorter and longer works, different, publishing mediums, and whatever else comes up as relevant.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


I know this blog is about writing, but I am much more of an active reader! So my posts will be geared more towards reading. I just finished the The Host by Stephanie Meyer and I have to say I was not impressed with this book. I read the Twilight Series and I enjoyed those as a light easy read. But I have found this book was thrown together really quick to get in on all the Twilight frenzy and was not well written and really not that enjoyable!

(Niki, your Scribe & Jester, wrote this last week. We had some technical difficulties, for which we apologize. Regardless, here you go!)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

New Beginnings

We're back Boise!

Your Novel Orchard is back and alive again on the web, with new and exciting plans for the near and distant future.

What are these changes? You're reading one of them right here (twice weekly blog posts from a different board member). You want more changes? Stick around, and we'll tell you as they're implemented. Keep an eye out, you'll be able to spot some of them very quickly.

Now, writers, why don't you tell us what you're beginning is? Have a new story, or an old one with a new start? Or just something about your writing you want to share? Take the opportunity, and tell us and your fellow writers!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Editing Fast & Dirty

The blog returns! Wednesday was a bit of a different critique night - instead of critiquing a page of writing, we talked about the editing process. Though editing can be a long and arduous process, it doesn't have to be painful. The following can be used to edit something that needs a hurried edit. I like to use this process as a starting point to anything I edit.

I look at this initial (or fast) edit in the following four steps:
1. Removal of Extraneous Words
2. Restructuring of Verbs
3. Story & Plot
4. Character

1. Removal of Extraneous Words
This sounds much more complicated than it really is. There are many words that generally speaking are just unnecessary (that, those, this, these, etc). Watch out for adverbs, adjectives, and time constrains as well, such as "as" and "while." Re-read the words, make sure the words are doing what you want them to do. This is a little bit backwards from what you might normally hear: that grammar is the last thing to fix. However, by tightening up your prose just a little bit, finding the bigger problems because easier, as the prose becomes easier to read.

2. Restructuring of Verbs
Verbs are one of the two strongest words we have available. (Nouns are the other). When restructuring verbs, don't get too lost. Stay simple. Remove the passive voice (the verb "to be" - "is, are, were, was, etc."). Instead of forcing your objects to carry action, let your subject do the work. Subjects want to carry the action in English. Let them do their job. In addition, remove the subjunctive (would, could, etc.), except where necessary to indicate the uncertainty that is inherent in the subjunctive. Again, fixing this amount of grammar will help make the prose that much more read-able, which makes the entire editing process simpler, more possible.

3. Story & Plot
Now that you've tighten up the prose, it's time to get into the nitty gritty: story and plot. Find your major plot holes - continuity issues - etc., and get rid of them. Make sure your character always drives the same car (unless, of course, the character sold the car at some point), and that the grief stricken queen dies of grief and not of poisoned soup.

When it comes to story, be sure your reader as all the points to get to the end. Think of the story as the alphabet: a, b, c, d, etc. all the way to z. Not every letter has to be in order, but they all have to be there for the reader to make sense of the story. Does a character suddenly appear in a desert, when just a paragraph earlier they were in the forest? An explanation is needed!

4. Character
When going for a fast and dirty edit, character is hard to attack. Look for consistent names and character traits (spelling of names, red hair versus black, etc.). When completing a speedy edit, the necessary time to spend on editing for character isn't available.

Going through these four steps is just a beginning. Going through them a second time will yield even stronger prose, and allow you to focus more on plot and story. A third time through is more superficial grammar. On a fourth pass, the character starts to come out more, and spending time on character becomes more and more possible.

In December, we'll spend more time with editing character.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I would just like to take a moment to apologize for the lack of regular substantial updates to this blog over the past few weeks. Suffice to say that summer break from the blog is over now, and we will resume our regular schedule.

I would also like to remind everyone out there that Rediscovered Bookshop has moved downtown! We are still meeting at Rediscovered but at their new location.

And now, our guest blogger of the month, Noelle Veldhouse.

Guest Blog:

My mind is completely directed by my stomach, right now. I should NOT go grocery shopping; but, I will. I should stick to the list and ONLY buy exactly what is on my list; but, I won’t.

Writing, is directed by my mood, or is it? Like many, I come up with fun ideas to write about at the most random times, like when I am driving by myself, tucking my daughters in bed, chopping cucumbers, taking a walk or even shovelling down food during a lunch break. Inspiration, I think it is called. However, to be honest, the times I have been beamed with my favorite inspirations are usually when my head is on my cozy pillow and I am either waking up or about to fall asleep.

A lot of ideas or even rhymes will just come and I have to repeat them over and over or write them down quickly to remember them. Moving forward from this one line or one idea is where the challenge or the work comes in! Sometimes it just flows, but then you have to edit and reedit and sometimes it’s just an idea that needs substance. I have heard so many people say, “Oh, I have a great idea for a book/children’s book/way to make a million dollars!” Hey, I’ve been in that boat for the past 20 years! It wasn’t until last year when I decided to actually pick up a pencil and my sketch book and start writing and writing and writing. I could now quote many famous people from Henry Ford to Arnold Schwarzenegger about making ideas become reality, believing in your self, and persistence. The point is, “just do it.”

Making dinner from only what you have in the freezer or the pantry reminds me a lot of writing when you don’t feel inspired or are in the mood for it. I find if I just get started and go, I get warmed up and then all of a sudden, I’ve created a yummy masterpiece, a questionable looking yet delicious whatchamacallit or a pile of “no thanks.” Yet, I am proud of myself because I ventured out and achieved something, or at least I tried and practice makes perfect, right? Or practice at least helps you know what combinations do or do not work.

Once again, I am teetering on the boarder of writing about food while trying to write about writing. Nice, I am such a professional. I think instead of fighting it, I’m going to go with it and do a little children’s rhyme about a trip to the beach…. Here goes:

Eating Sand

I want to eat sand,
I know it just ain’t right.
I think about it all day,
And sometimes late at night.

I want to build a sandcastle,
And take a big ‘ol bite,
I want to throw it at my sis,
And have a sand fight.

I want to shake and play,
I want to stomp and roll,
I want to be a sand crab,
And take a little stroll.

And maybe make a kite,
Or a dolphin or snail,
Or maybe a dreaded pirate,
Out for a booty sail.

I think I like sand,
Or maybe love is the word,
I’m sorry if my obsession,
Leaves you a bit disturbed.

Written in less than 10 minutes, I just wrote and it flowed… NOW, I’m sure it needs some help. A rhythm expert, perhaps? Well, that’s what you get when you get a female author who happens to be hungry and pregnant. Now, that being said, you must assume my current temperament and will probably be very kind in passing judgement.

Cheese tortellini covered in alfredo sauce and bacon anyone?
Lovely day!

~Noelle Veldhouse

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Interview with Noelle Veldhouse

When and why did you begin writing? What genre/style do you generally write (fiction, poetry, non-fiction, mystery, literary, etc)?

I have been writing for as long as I can remember. Recently, I decided to follow a dream and started writing & illustrating children's literature.

Do you ever write in multiple genres?

Yes, no, maybe so.
Where might we be able to find your work?I started doing my own blog on my website, but have been so busy with work, kids, house stuff, and being pregnant that I have really haven't blogged in a while. I need to get back to it! However, I do have a poem published with Boise Novel Orchard's first publication Bites From the Orchard. It is called Piggtoot the Forgotten.

What is success for a writer? What do you do to get yourself there?
Success is defined differently for everyone. To me, as long as you are still having fun, writing and enjoying it, you are a success! Also, deep breathing helps.

Do you have a writing schedule? What works for you? How do you keep up the discipline to stick to that schedule?

I LOVE to write first thing in the morning, before anyone else is up and it is just me and the computer. But, I really also enjoy writing during nap time when I get to sit and relax in peace. My goal is to work on my book several times a week and do something every day, even if it is a sketch or a rewrite on a certain line.

You're walking on a straight line. There's trees and grass and bunny rabbits. The road turns a bit, and reveals a fork. Do you go right or left?

I'm sorry, what? I got distracted. I was supposed to be following a line? I was over on the hill chasing a butterfly.

What do you like to read?

Stuff that makes me think, smile and/or laugh.

Who's your favorite author?

I enjoy children's authors, Ted Arnold, Shel Silverstein, Dr. Seuss. I do read books written for my own age. My favorite book tends to be the one that I'm currently reading.

Has this writer influenced you and your work?

They all have. Love them all & their creativity!

What about a writer you despise?

I think every writer does the best they can with the knowledge they have at the time. I'm not a fan of certain authors, but I don't despise them. I can say that I have no desire to ever read anything that else that John Steinbeck has written after I read Grapes of Wrath.
Has this person affected your writing at all? no

Where would you take your favorite author to dinner?

I would love to have dinner with Dr. Seuss but since that is not possible, Ted Arnold.

What's on your reading list right now?

I just finished reading Born To Run (LOVED IT!) and up next is The Princess Bride.

Do you have any projects on your table right now? What are they?

Pants on Head and
Princess Piper Pillowey

At what stage are they?
I am sketching my 1st dummy for Pants on Head & am working with an editor on it. PPP is on hold for a bit.

Are you satisfied with it?

It is fun & I love it! It is an ongoing process but yeah, I'm more than satisfied with it.

Have you learned anything from writing that applies to other parts of life?

I know that writing has HELPED my other parts of life.

Do you have any personal advice that you would like to share?

Yes, but one valuable lesson that my husband has taught me is that sometimes it is better just to be quiet and listen. I love listening to what others have to say about writing.

Look out! It's the Zombie Apocalypse, and the only inhabitable place on earth is an island. What do you do? Do what Bill Murray did in Zombieland. But if that doesn't work, I'm off to the island.
What do you take with you?My family, my dog, the Swiss family Robinson boat & all their supplies, and LOTS of guns (to kill the zombies, of course.)

Your computer just died, does this ruin your writing day, or can you cope?

I see it as a sign, I need to get outside and breath fresh air, go play or go to bed... depending on what time of day it happens.

Why isn't the sky red?
One sky,Two sky. Red sky, Blue sky.

Noelle Veldhouse is a children’s author and illustrator who is exploding into the children’s writing/illustrating market with passion. She teaches elementary school in Meridian She is the mother of 2 ½ children, a dog, a cat and a fish named Buster. Her poem "Pigtoot the Forgotten" can be found in Bites from the Orchard: Bridges.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Writer's block is horrible. trying to think of something to write for the blog today, I couldn't decide if I wanted to approach it from the perspective of the writing process, or maybe I wanted to talk about crafting language? Or, maybe I wanted to talk about crafting of story? All, of course, are very important to the creating of any fiction, or even non-fiction, piece of writing. So, I decided on one, and started trying to think of what topic under that to actually tackle. I failed. So I watched Mythbusters.

I saw something that is typical of Mythbusters--and entirely awesome, but that is beside the point--and rather unbelievable. I find it a bit hard to believe even though I just saw it happen. Cheese, shoved into a cannon, and used in place of a cannon ball. And working. Really, cheese!

Then I got to thinking. I mostly read sci-fi and fantasy, and come across things like this all the time. Unbelievable things. Sometimes I notice them, and having noticed it, I get pulled out of the story and feel disgusted with the book for breaking my suspension of disbelief. Other times I run right over them and never notice them until long after I've accepted it as reality of the book.

How, then, do you keep the reader to swallow your unbelievable events like a pill wrapped in peanut butter? Details. If you get your details right--which is to say, if you have details and they're consistent--they wont question what would otherwise be unbelievable.