Chrysalis: Emerging Women Writers

September 9, 2010

Free: The Most Effective Word in Advertising

Filed under: Free Lance,Writing — Barb @ 6:14 am
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Are Your Resources limited?

Check out this blog to see the 252 Free Resources for Writers




June 1, 2010

Will the Writer Sign Her Real Name?

By Ben Fredricson

I used a pen name on the very first piece I brought to Chrysalis to be critiqued.

“Why are you doing that?” one of the ladies asked.

“I just feel better writing under a pen name,” I said.

“We’ll help you get over that really quick,” she said.

I shrugged.  I hadn’t told her the truth.  No way.  The truth was too full of stars and fireworks.  But folks probably laughed, too,  when a ten-year-old Walt Disney told them he wanted to grow up and build a real fairytale.  Noooo, it was better to keep quiet.

You see, I just knew my words were so magnificent and overwhelming that I’d soon have to wear sunglasses to Fred Meyer because fans would bug me as I pinched peaches and filled my shopping cart with those expensive cocktail crackers and brie.

I wanted a pen name, so I could live my life in anonymity away from the paparazzi that plagued J.K. Rowling and me .

And then, I actually got a few lines published in the Oregonian.  It was a thrill to see my words in print for the first time. But…No one believed it was me. “That’s not your name,” one of the critique peers said.

“But it is me.  I used a pen name,” I tried to convince her.  She just looked at me as though I was off my meds.

So…should you use a pen name?

Well, if your name is  a real tongue-twister, you may want to try on a different moniker.

Or if you think it gives you better branding: Try Marketta Twain

Or if you’re published under hot & heavy  romance pulp and want to submit to children’s or Christian magazines, then you might consider a different name.

I soon learned the hard way that I wouldn’t have to worry about throngs of fans digging through my trash to find discarded drafts of my latest novel. I also learned how hard it was to build a portfolio of clips around my name if I kept changing it.

Okay, you can stop laughing now. There’s nothing wrong with using a pen name. Just make it clear to your editor which is your pen name and which is your real name.  I asked one of my editors if I could publish a newspaper article  under a pen.   I simply wanted some clips under that name in case I ever wanted to use it.   I had to have it approved by the managing editor and then it threw the payroll lady for a loop.  NOTE:  You may also have to explain to your bank why you’re trying to cash checks with your alias. You’re laughing again, aren’t you?

So go ahead.  Be Brit Goodwitch or Brandi Golucky, there are lots of reasons to pick a pen name…but I can assure you that fear of fame isn’t one of them.


Barb   a.k.a.  Angelina Jolly

January 19, 2010

The Tao of Creativity

I posted this on my personal blog about two weeks ago and had such great feedback from other writers that I thought I’d share it with the Chrysalis crowd.

From The Tao of Webfoot, January 7, 2010

As I peruse blogs and read other people’s books, I struggle daily with a list of shoulds. I should strike every “was” and adverb from my prose. I should add a bunch of controversial subject matter to my stories. I should enter every writing contest that I can. I should build a huge web presence. I should come up with some brilliant ploy to drive rush-hour volume traffic to my blog.

Or should I? Let’s face it—my voice wants to come out more conversational than literary. Edginess is not something that feels natural to my stories, and I don’t think my target audience would like it. I’m not a contest person; words don’t immediately drip from my fingers. In fact, for me, initial ideas are the hardest part of being creative. I am not a daily blogger. Marketing doesn’t come as naturally to me as breathing, the way it does for Shelli Johannes-Wells, and I haven’t been blindsided by any genius inspirations, like Casey McCormick’s Agent Spotlight.

I don’t think I can change these things. Not easily. And the fact is, I shouldn’t. While the writing process takes dedication and hard work, it should also be organic to who you are. If you’re doing what you’re meant to be doing, the creativity will flow. The work won’t seem like work, because your passion and talent will carry you. All these people who I envy and admire aren’t finding their success because they’re trying to be something they’re not. They’re finding it because they’re following their true nature.

The philosophy of Taoism has a name for this: Wei wu wei, “doing without doing”. If you can’t wrap your mind around that, think of water, which is soft and weak, yet can wear away stone. A second concept goes hand in hand with this: P’u, the Uncarved Block. P’u, is a person’s natural state, their innate self, free of prejudices and misconceptions. The idea is that things are most perfect in this state. When you put these concepts together you come up with the following philosophy: By being true to ourselves, rather than striving to be something we’re not, things will come with less effort, and we will be happier.

The uncarved block

A lot of envy and self-doubt comes with writing. Not just for the un-published crowd, but for established, award-winning authors. These feelings are a fallacy. A time sink that robs our creativity and distracts us from our work.  We all have our unique strengths, and that’s how it should be. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted from your path by the glitter of someone else’s gifts. Your own are just as dazzling.

January 12, 2010

The First Step of a Novel: Get ‘Er Down

Filed under: Technique,Uncategorized,Writing — Barb @ 11:50 pm
Tags: , , ,

Welcome to the new writers who have joined our group.

A frequent question that has come up is: How should I start writing a novel? We’ll answer that question, but first, raise your hand and repeat after me:

My basic goal is to get the story down on paper.

Now for the different approaches:

Let ‘er Rip:

Sit down, tell the editor in your brain to shut up and write. Now is not the time to fuss over the intro hook, a cliff hanger for every scene, and punctuation. Simply tell your story. Yes, it probably isn’t Pulitzer worthy. Then edit it.  Go through it a couple of times, at least. You’ll find the beginning is usually weaker than the ending because you’ve become a better writer by the time you reached the end.  Edit the beginning several times.

You’ll want to make it the best you can before bringing it to critique. Why would you want folks to tell you things you already know how to do? Use the critique time to gain new insights and info into technique.

Let ‘er Flow(chart)

A story proceeds across my wall in sticky notes.  Different characters’ storylines are in colors, while the main story flows down the center. So, I know the plot, character development, and pacing before I start.  I also know how it begins, ends and where the turning point falls in between. Armed with this information, I’ll follow the Let-er-Rip technique and get the story on paper.  Miss editor-in-my-mind will come by later and make snarky comments.

Let ‘er Be Plotted

This includes not only a visual chart of the characters’ development and story events, but notecards.

*Character notecards (color coded) Contain description, fears, relationships, history, family, nicknames, etc.

*Chapter notecards: Goals for each chapter, Action within chapter; notes about foreshadowing;

YOu may even break chapters into scene notecards.

*Pacing Chart. The action of each chapter or scene can be graphed to give you  visual evidence that your story is not flat-lining.

This technique requires a lot more prep, but the benefit is that you’ll have developed your characters so throughly and the story so deeply that writing will go much more quickly (and usually the editing will too.)

When I first started, I just wanted to write. Phooey on all that planning stuff. There are some very accomplished writers who use this technique successfully.  For me, I  ended up editing the manuscript at least 15 times.  It could probably STILL use some work.

That’s okay. I’ve accomplished my basic goal. Little steps.

Get ‘er Down on Paper.

November 11, 2009

From the Beginning…

Filed under: Contests,Motivations,Technique,Writing — Barb @ 12:43 am
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Okay,  Put your thinking caps on.

Your job is to come up with a simple sentence. The beginning hook for a story. It must be based off the picture below. Funny, sad…whatever.

Post your one sentence hooks in the comments. Enter as often as you wish.

We’ll announce the winner in a couple of weeks. I’m not sure what the prize is yet, but you’ll have to come to Chrysalis to get it.

Have fun. Get Creative.

July 8, 2009

When Did It Pay to Sing in The Rain?


In a chapter that I’m writing, I have  2 characters gazing at  Orion at 2 in the morning.

Wait a minute.

Is Orion still overhead at that time?

I’d better go to:    and check it out.

This is a computational website. It gives you encyclopedic details that a writer would love to have, without spending hours in research.

No more plotting on old calendars. Now you know if April 14, 1982 was on a Wednesday or a Thursday. It will also tell you the weather on that day.

Do you need a growth chart for a child? Want to know the signal for “G” in morse code? Compare an SAT score?

How about some data on deaths for that murder mystery you’re concocting?

Need some research info for the freelance article you’re putting together?

Give it a try. It’ll have you “Singing in the Rain.” [ by Adlolph Green and Betty Comden; released 1952.  The Movie made $120,420]

Wolframalpha told me that computes to 235.1 million in today’s dollars (in case you wanted to know).

June 26, 2009

Information for Writers

gadls thesis

gadl's thesis

Hi lady writers,

I’m copying and pasting some important information from Terripatrick.  She put it in a comment that got hung up in a post, and I don’t want you to miss it.

“Here’s two wonderful agents that blog – and they really do love writers.
Jenny Bent: and here’s a link to her take on conferences:

“Kristen Nelson: There’s tons of great information on this blog, she’s been posting for a long time and covers all kinds of publishing business topics.

I agree with Terri.  I like to set aside a few moments to read agent’s blogs. It keens one’s ability to keep up with what agents/publishers are searching for.

And Yes, they are still looking for crisp language with an inciting plot and memorable characters. But with 10-30 seconds to review your submission, your brilliance may be overlooked unless you have some help.

Check this out. Does anyone have other helpful blogs they’d like to add to this share?

June 11, 2009

Sweating the Details Before You Get to An Agent.

Filed under: Critiques,Technique,Writing — Barb @ 10:26 am
Tags: , , ,

For Anagram Bookshop in Prague (by Kaspen)

For Anagram Bookshop in Prague (by Kaspen)

When I first started presenting my work for critiques, I slapped it on paper any way I could. Through the years, I’ve noticed the better writers seem to take great pains not only in their words, but also in their presentation for informal discussion.

Even for a critique group their documents are  double-spaced, formatted with 1 inch margins, and have appropriate head space above the chapters.  Of course, their headers contain page numbers, but the name of the novel and writer  is also ever present. In other words,  each week’ these writers present a reading in  ready-for-publication style.

When I asked why, they smiled and said it was easier to  do it right in the first place, rather than try to catch every formatting detail later.

Noah Lukeman, a literary agent who has read thousands of manuscripts, gives great advice about details in his slim but weighty book, The First Five Pages. He notes that agents draw conclusion about entire manuscripts from the presentation of the first 1500 words.  Inattention to detail:

“may signal carelessness, sloppiness, ignorance or defiance of the industry’s standards; that the writer doesn’t care enough to do the minimum amount of research to make a manuscript industry presentable. Often when a writer’s presentation is careless, his writing is too.”

Critique groups tend to be informal gatherings. We often print on the backside of used copies, in order to save trees and paper.  However, it’s worth kicking ourselves a couple of times to make sure the formatting on the front side is complete. It will allows our fellow readers to concentrate solely on the words and story line.

Now…if I’ll just follow this advice every week, I’ll get more than the  first 5 pages whipped into shape.

June 3, 2009

YooHoo! There’s a Contest Over Here

by  athena

by athena

Is it worthwhile to enter contests?

Well, the folks that win them sure think it is. Besides, it allows you to stretch your writing muscles and step outside of your comfort zone of reading to your fellow critique members.  Here’s a contest that accepts fiction as well as other genres.

Visions, the literary journal of the NorthWest Arkansas Community College accepts submissions of poetry, short fiction, and digital artwork year-round. The only criterion for publication is excellence.

While there’s no monetary reward, it does build up your writing profile. And it doesn’t cost anything except the postage and ink.

Surely, each of you already have a something in your files to send off.

Good Luck!

April 23, 2009

Finding Your Creep Factor

Filed under: Motivations,Technique,Writing — Barb @ 9:05 pm
Tags: , ,

In my writing notebook, I keep  pages on things that comfort and things that make me shiver.

I try to write phrases. For instance: “spiders on the neck” evokes more yeowww-

Grow on You by lucy and bart

"Grow on You" by lucy and bart

factor than “spiders on the wall.”

“Golden Lighting on fat pillows” gives me more “aaaaahhhh”, than “fat pillows on shag carpet.”

So…for our writing exercise today, look at the two pictures below.

Which picture creeps you out more?   And why?

exploded view by lucy and bart

"exploded view" by lucy and bart

Dig deep. Find your feelings.

Express Yourself.

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