Friday, May 27, 2011

Half way through

This whole halfway through thing can get kind of bittersweet, can't it? I guess it all depends on whether you're a glass half full or a glass half empty kind of person. Well, either way, I'm half way through my manuscript. Half of it is done. And then there's the other half...

Right now I'm trying to figure out career paths and pretty much everything else related to what it is that I do so..... Can't quite figure out the half ways at the moment. I just have a feeling this will not be my first half way through.

So you tell me. Where are you in your career? What are your halfways? And how do you approach them?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Power of Tension Blogfest

I finally came out of my inertia this week and went back to writing. About time! So it was quite fitting to find the Power of Tension Blogfest being hosted by Rachel Morgan and Cally Jackson this week. So I dusted off my manuscript and found a nice love-tension scene. To check the other scenes or enter the contest, stop by Rachel's or Cally's blog.

Here's mine. Hope you like it!


I’m talking to the girls, my back to the path that leads to the main gate, when Julia waves excitedly and Laura’s big green eyes pop in excitement. I turn around quickly, my heart beating fast. My eyes fall on him and I have to pay close attention to my jaw to make sure it doesn’t drop to an embarrassing level.

His beautiful skin is chocolate-colored and smooth, just like Denzel Washington’s – but Marcelo might just be even better looking. His black hair is cut really short, almost entirely shaved, and I want to rub my hand against it. I can feel the butterflies in my stomach as he approaches, but I can't stop staring. He’s wearing a fashionable button shirt in red plaid, the kind very few guys can pull off. He isn’t tall, we're exactly the same height, but he still manages to fill the place with his presence, even being side by side with his much taller and bulkier friend - it actually took me a while to notice the friend was even here, since my eyes are glued on Marcelo. His beautiful, narrow eyes look like they have just been carved on his face by an artist, who then added long, perfectly curled, black lashes that any girl would die for. I blush just looking at them. But my eyes quickly drop to his lips – his gorgeous, full, soft lips that magically open in a big, bright smile, showing his perfectly white teeth. I’m hooked.

“Well, hello, dear!”

Julia gives him a big friendly hug, and he smiles again as he hugs her. He then kisses Laura and Elisa on the cheek and they go into sweet-girl-mode, smiling and saying how great it is to see him again.

And then he turns to me.


So, what do you think? Any tips to increase the tension?

Oh, and there's a new contest coming up on this blog in June - a great one! So stay tuned!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The joy of critiquing (or I have a dream)

Lately I've been thinking I might make a better editor than a writer. No, I'm not giving up on writing. I'm just saying that critiquing has showed me how amazing it is to read a new story, make suggestions, try to help someone and make her story wonderful, and then root for that story. It must be an amazing feeling to be an editor. I've always felt that way, even when I was a reporter. And having a critique group has made that feeling rise again.

There's just something so liberating about working on someone else's story. It makes me see things clearer and somehow I feel more freedom than I do with my own story. So I'm coming out there and saying it: I have a dream of being an editor, or an agent. I dream of discovering new voices and working on other people's stories as much as I dream of seeing my own work out there. As one of my critique partners puts it, I guess I'm just a good cheerleader. One with a critical eye and a talent for giving advice (a lot more than for following it).

So there you have it. That's my dream job. Consider it a first step for maybe taking a leap. What about you? What is your dream?

Monday, May 16, 2011

The new mistakes that come with taking advice (and how that's not so bad)

I can’t imagine what it was like to write before agents and published authors blogged and tweeted. I find something helpful everyday and it’s wonderful! Most aspiring writers do the same, I’m sure, and there’s no doubt that those taking the good advice that’s out there are ahead of the game. But there is one problem I’ve been seeing over and over again: trying so hard to follow advice on common mistakes you end up making new mistakes.

Of course it’s better to make new mistakes than old ones. We’re human, after all. We’re never free of mistakes. And as we say in Brazil, to err is human, to repeat an error is just plain stupid. So I guess it’s nice that we’re not making the same mistakes. But we all seem to be making some version of the mistake that comes with avoiding a common mistake.

How can avoiding a common mistake possibly be another mistake? Ok, maybe an example will be better. I know I do this all the time. And I see it a lot when critiquing too. So here are a few examples I’ve seen in my manuscript and in other people’s writing.

Advice: Avoid different dialogue tags.
Solution: Using “said” most of the time.
New problem: Ending up with a manuscript full of he said/ she said.

Advice (for previous new problem, actually): Don’t use dialogue tags all the time, only when absolutely needed.
Solution: Using an action after the quote to identify who’s talking.
New problem: Overusing that. You don’t have a manuscript full of he said/ she said, but you have a manuscript full of “quote.” He shifted in his seat. “Quote.” She turned away. So on and so forth.

Advice: Don’t dump all the background on your first few chapters.
Solution: Focusing on what’s going on at the moment and avoiding background info.
New problem: Ending up with a character who has no backstory.

See what I mean? We’re avoiding old problems and starting new ones. Which isn’t necessarily bad. It’s a process. As long as you’re able to identify those in your revisions or you have good critique partners to catch them for you (ideally both), you can keep making new mistakes. And then fix them. And make new ones. Whoever said writing is easy?

How about you? Do you make new mistakes when trying to avoid old ones? Do you take advice to heard way too much?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Looking for a critique partner? Find one here!

I love playing matchmaker! So I'll try to make some matches around here. As I said before, my own critique group had limited spots (unfortunately), but I'm happy to help people find partners that would be a good fit.

Here's a short profile of one the girls who contacted me about the spot in our group. She's looking to start a group of writers in her genre. See if she's a fit!

Name: Tetonia Blossom
Genres: YA paranormal suspense and urban fantasies, as well as Women's Fiction Graphic Novels and Screenplays
Twitter: @TRomelBlossom

Think she's a good fit for you? Get in touch with her!

Want to start your own group or find partners? Let me know, I'll post it here for you!

Good luck!

Monday, May 9, 2011

We have new members!

We got some emails from wonderful girls wanting to join our group (it made us feel all popular!). After much debate, we've made our choice. Well, choices. We couldn't pick just one (making decisions is not our group's biggest strength). So I would like to welcome Meredith Jaeger and Stephanie Campbell to our critique group! Welcome, girls!

We got some other great emails, and it really was a hard choice. I think these girls would be great at any group, so, if you want to, just let me know and I'll post your contact info here. And feel free to use the comments to look for critique partners! I'd love to play critique matchmaker!

So welcome Meredith and Stephanie! Thanks to everyone who emailed us! And let me know if you need any help finding a critique group. I'll be glad to let the word out.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Spot at critique group

As you all know, I have a wonderful critique group with writers Christie Koester, Julie A. Lindsey and Alaina Byers. A critique group can be extremely helpful in developing your career as a writer and in keeping you going.
And we have an opening!

Two of our former groupmates have recently left us because of time restraints, and we're now looking for a new member for our group. Here is a description of what we're looking for. Check to see if you're fit for the position and let us know!

- This is mostly a women's fiction group. Although most of our members write romantic comedy or humorous women's fiction, we also accept mainstream women's fiction, traditional romance and YA, as long as it's more women-driven and has some romance, humor and life struggles in it. We're not absurdly strict on genres, but if it's way too different from what we read and write we might not be a great help. We're probably not the best fit for sci-fi, fantasy, paranormal and stuff like that.

- Even though we write women's fiction, we have nothing against having a man in the group, as long as he writes within these genres.

- We submit in weekly turns, so each member would be submitting once every 5 weeks. We provide insightful and thorough feedback on every submission. Submissions usually have a 60-page max.

- We're a novel-writing group. Short stories and poetry might not be the best fit.

- W're all in different stages of our writing, so you shouldn't worry about that. We would love to have a published author on board, but anyone writing a novel is welcome. Your novel doesn't need to be finished, but you should have at least a few pages for your first submission.

- We're very flexible. We won't yell at you if life gets in the way and you can't submit once, or if you send 65 pages instead of 60.

- The most important thing is to love writing and to be helpful, honest and respectful. We're not looking for anyone to tell us our work is perfect when it isn't, but we definitely don't want anyone rude either. We have developed a wonderful friendship and we rely on each other a lot! We want someone who can fit nicely into that great thing we have going on.

Interested? Leave a post here or email me at gabrielalessacarvalho at gmail dot com. We would love to have someone on board!
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