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I’ve been away from my blog for what seems ages. But I do have good reason. I’ve been in Texas, working.

Honest, I have. And here are the pictures to prove it.

First, you find an awesome group of friends. Above, I’m with the adorable, Jenny Hansen, best room-mate ever, Piper Bayard, my gorgeous twin, Ingrid Schaffenburg, and the Godmother of us all, Kristen Lamb. This picture was taken after a long and stressful dinner with NYT Bestseller, James Rollins,  and a ton of other people. (I think Nigel Blackwell is taking the picture and bitching at the amount of time we took to say goodbye to each other).

Then, we invaded Lamb Ranch to do a little character R and R. Originally, my antagonist was a mild mannered gal whose only crime was to return her library books back two days late. Kristen ripped her apart and turned her into the Terminator’s ‘Sarah Connor’. Can you spot the difference?

  

Piper and I became so obsessed by our characters, we shot up the place.

We thought I’d missed the tin can….then on closer inspection found I’d hit it with every shot. 🙂

Afterwards, we went riding on the ATV’s at night across snake infested land…. just ’cause we’re hard as nails.

Unfortunately, it was all too much for Spawn. He may need a few more years training…..

So, back to business. How to hook an agent the ‘SOO’ Publishing way.

N.B. For those who haven’t been following my Facebook page, and I will shoot you later, ‘SOO’ stands for ‘Squeeze One Out’ – a term I used while stormchasing when wanting a wee or tinkle as the Americans like to put it. Unfortunately, to the Americans it means ‘No.2’ and I was saying it every time we stopped for gas – which averaged ten times a day five days of the week. No wonder they looked at me a little weird. ‘SOO’ Publishing will publish any novel…… as long as it’s c**p.

Right, the tried and tested way on how to snag that all important literary agent.

1. Gate-crash a writing conference party. The DFW Writers Convention is excellent!

2. Along with a friend (I recommend Jillian Dodd), find a likely male candidate. The more vulnerable he looks, the better. For the purpose of this blog and because I don’t relish a law suit, our agents name will be kept a secret 🙂

3. Start a conversation to break the ice. We began with the very boring, “so, what genre do your represent?”

4. Then make it more personal. We used questions like, “what are the names of your mum and dad?” and “what is your inside leg measurement?”

5. You’re almost best friends at this point so go for broke. Ask about his Abs and whether you can take a picture. If their face begins to redden, offer to do this in a secluded corner of the room.

6. Then, lure him back to a hotel room and ply him with drink.

You will have an agent for your novel by the end of the night – Guaranteed! If not, don’t untie him just yet. Take further pictures, if you know what I mean. It will help your cause immensely and he will cave in to your demands by morning.

If you’d prefer to take a more serious route, (you boring lot), then check out these posts:

Ingrid Schaffenburg’s Top Five Lessons from DFWCon,

Jess Witkins Celebrating her Writing Slump,

David Walker’s take on the DFW Convention

Julie Glover’s Ten Things to do at a Writing Conference

Tiffany A White’s What Writers Really Do at Conferences (apart from the above)

Jenny Hansen’s DFW Con and the Flu…Oh My!

And, Julie Glover’s Vlog – you can see us in the background, plotting.

If you want more of me, try checking out: FacebookTwitterGoogle+InstagramYou Tube, and Linkedin.

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As of late, I’ve been totally rushed off my feet while I strive to make a writing deadline. Don’t get me wrong, I love working under pressure. It helps me kill more easily. But, while I’ve been busy focusing on mutilation and blood splatter, my blog has been neglected. I know, I know, I’m a wicked, wicked person. So, what I thought would be fun is to hand over the reigns to you guys. No – I’m not dishing out passwords and secret pin numbers so you can actually access my blog…. Intead, I want you budding writers out there to send me your stories.

Okay, the rules.

1.   The theme is anything creepy. That means it has to scare me 🙂
2.   Look at the image above. This is where your story STARTS.
3.   Now look at the background image on my twitter page (by brilliant photographer, Rosie Hardy). This is where your story has to END.
4.   There are to be absolutely NO VAMPIRES.
5.   As I like my posts short and sweet, your stories are to be no more than 1,000 words long.
6.   Email all stories to pointwelldonna@gmail.com by 15th May. The best three will be posted.

I will pick some of the best ones and publish them on this blog.

Good Luck xxx

 

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Picture from http://ineligibleforgreatness.com

We’re all writers, right?

And every story starts with a beginning. So I thought I’d share the beginning of my writing journey with you.

Like 95% of writers, I have always loved writing. Back in the eighties, 1985 on a Friday night if memory serves, I used to video tape (remember those)?, a TV cop show called Dempsey and Makepeace.  Then on the Saturday morning I’d get up at the crack of dawn, before anyone else, and watch, write, and rewind the show until I’d written the whole script. Makes me laugh now, knowing how easy it is today to find scripts on that revolutionary tool called the internet. But, back in ’85, I had to make do with a VCR, writing pad, and my trusty biro.

The crime stopping duo

So what was my reason for doing this?

Why, to adapt the episode into a novel of course.

And my passion for writing never dwindled. Well, I misplaced it for a few years while I went to college, worked in a chartered accountants, slogged my guts out at OK! Magazine, and wrote a car off while at Essex Police.

Then, a few years ago I began writing articles for magazines and my passion returned.

So, how did I get to where I am now? Well, I have two different stories.

The first involves a lady you all know very well; the fabulous Kristen Lamb. By sheer luck, she came across a chapter I’d written on the internet, and through sheer generosity, she emailed me some critism. And, there began my novel writing career and my friendship with a true hero.

Up until that point, I’d only written one novel; a romantic thriller called ‘The Stalker’. Friends had read it and loved it and naturally I thought, “Hey, I’m onto a winner here.”

I worked hard with Kristen as she bomboozeled me with plotting, character profiling, the three act structure, conflict, ARC’s, inciting incidents, antagonists, protagonists, minions, Big Boss Trouble-makers and, oh yeah, pulling me out of my comfort zone, I realised what a load of rubbish I’d actually written. The story was okay but the characters were so boring and one dimentional – worse, they had no flaws!

Of course, now I’m a fully fledged psychotic nutter and there’s no switching off my imagination. In fact, my tag line “I could write for Days of our Lives” as seen in my banner, is Kristen’s description of me.

So began my second novel. Only this one I was writing the Warrior Writers Boot Camp (WWBC) way. After months of researching, character profiling, plotting, and re-plotting, I was ready to start writing another thriller……

Only Jason Statham could play my villain

And then I met Natalie Hamilton-Duggan. She’d just finished film school in London, wanted to write a paranormal screenplay, and asked if I’d like to help. At first I was a little apprehensive. I am not a massive YA paranormal fan. Sure I like The Vampire Diaries and True Blood, and Supernatural is one of my favorites, but I’d had enough of vampires. They’d been done to death. After a full five minutes deliberating, I agree to become a co-writer. I knew nothing about script writing but what the hell. There was one condition though….. No Vampires!

So, together we began to plot out a story. Kristen’s WWBC training became invaluable and I applied it to screenwriting the same as I had my novel.

Now I was working on two different stories in two different formats at the same time.

It was during this time that Kristen invited me out to Texas to attend the DFW Writing Convention. I thought, why not? I could pitch my novel to an agent and see what they thought.

Also, Natalie and I had finished the script to the now titled “Legend”, and decided to take the plunge and stop in L.A. first, you know, to see if we could get a bite out there. We emailed hundreds of queries and waited.

Wayne Alexander, an entertainment lawyer, read it and promptly emailed it across to Amy Schiffman, a manager and literary agent colleague of his at IPG. She loved the script and wanted to meet us.

So out go Natalie and I, wet behind the ears, totally out of our depth, and expecting the whole experience to swallow us whole. We couldn’t have been more wrong. We loved Wayne and Amy, and they seemed to love us. Amy became our manager, gave us a ton of ideas to start work on, and asked if I would adapt the script into a novel.

After three whirlwind days in L.A., Natalie and I flew to Texas; where I pitched an idea for a book I hadn’t even thought of writing two days previously. Luckily the agent loved the idea and asked to see a chapter or two when I’d written them. Oh yeah, as if that wasn’t amazing enough, Kristen gave me a fabulous stetson and took me shooting, and I brought a wicked pair of cowboy boots.

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That’s me in the centre

Since then Natalie and I have written two TV pilots and I’m half way through writing ‘Legend’ (the novel version). I’ve two agents in the UK who are also waiting to read it.

With regards to WWBC, I now help Kristen teach other writers, along with my WWBC team mates and writing buddies, Piper BayardNigel BlackwellKerry Meacham, and Xandra James. I just hope I can help them as much as Kristen has helped me.

So, what’s your story? How did you start writing? How long have you been writing? Do you have an agent? Have you been published? How did you feel seeing your book in print? Have you even just taken a chance and come up trumps?

If you want more of me, try checking out: FacebookTwitterGoogle+InstagramYou Tube, and Linkedin.

Join my email list and be first to hear about upcoming releases and offers.

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Many people often wonder whether to copyright their work, and the best way in which to do it. So I’m going to help you.

Okay, first of all, what is copyright?

Nice and simple. Like a patent, trademark, and any design that can be copied, copyright is an intellectual property; also known as ‘IP’, and gives you all ‘rights’ to your work and protects it from copyright infringement.

Now I could go on and on explaining all the different avenues, but as this is based at writers, I will stick with novels and screenplays.

You’ve written a novel (fiction or non-fiction), short story, or poem, and you want to send it off to an agent, manager, or publisher. What should you do first? That’s right, copyright it.

Who with?

Whoa there fiesty one. First check you live in a Berne Convention Country. 162 of the 190 countries are signed to it, so chances are, you are.

Now you can register your work with an organisation. Now there are various ones both in the UK and US that I use.

US pilots and screenplays I use WGA (Writers Guild of America) West. I also register my synopsis here. I have never had a problem and the service is very prompt and efficient. There is also some cool information on their website.

For my UK pilots, screenplays and novels, I use the Intellectual Property Rights Office.

N.B. If you are a subscriber to firstwriter.com you can benefit from a 10% discount when you start the registration process through their site. If you are already a Firstwriter subscriber, click here. If not and want to, click here first.

There is usually a charge, approximately £20/$40, to register work and you should be issued with a certificate, although these can take up to six months to be delivered.

Although I’ve never registered a novel with a US copyright organsisation, more information may be obtained at the US Copyright Office.

I’ve tried to keep this post as simple as I can, but if there is something you don’t understand, put your query in the comment box. Likewise, if you’ve had any dealings with any of the organisations listed here, good or bad, let me know. Maybe you use other companies. If so, let me know them too.

If you want more of me, I can be found on FacebookTwitter, Google+ and Linkedin

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A couple of weeks ago I received an email from ECollegeFinder notifying me that my blog had been nominated for an award. Yesterday, voting opened.

This is an extremely exciting for me.

I posted my first blog on 28th November, 2009. Like most new bloggers, I think I blogged about three times in two months and then nothing until October 2010, when I began blogging once a week. Now, however, I blog three times a week. I aim the majority of my articles towards writers, being I am one, but every now and then I like to have a little fun and embarass myself.

Every Monday I list all the latest writing competitions for authors and screenwriters I can find. Each Wednesday I post a 30 Second Interview, the particpants being either authors, screenwriters, or staff writers,  and Fridays are usually a mix between writing advice, guest posts, book reveiws, or just a bit of ‘fun’.

What has overwhelmed me, is the amount of support my twitter and Facebook peeps have shown. I’ve lost count how many messages of congratulations and RT’s I’ve received on twitter alone.

If you like this blog, and if you would like to show your much appreciated support, please click the blue box above (or the one in the top right hand margin). It only takes a minute. Click ‘Donna Newton’s Blog’, and then, at the bottom of the list, ‘VOTE’.

Voting ends Friday 3rd February, so there’s no time to waste. Oh, and if you feel really generous, you can vote for me more than once. So even if you already have …..Vote again 😀

I’ll let you know how I do.

Let me know what special awards you’ve been nominated for, or received. I don’t care what it’s for. School activities, competitions, anything goes on here.

If you want more of me, I can be found on FacebookTwitter, Google+ and Linkedin

 

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Passive voice. It’s proving to be a ball and chain for writers new to the fiction game. In fact, it remains a problem for some of the more ‘experienced’ authors, too. I should know – I was one of them.

So, what exactly does passive voice and active voice mean?

Basically, writing in ‘passive’ voice not only sounds awkward, it means more words are needed to make your sentence. Active’ voice, on the other hand is clear and will keep your writing tight.

But how can I tell the difference between the two?

When writing in active voice, the subject is doing the action to the object (and no rude comments please – Nigel). For example:

“Tracey made the bed” is active. Tracy (subject) made (doing the action) the bed (object).

“The bed was made by Tracy” is passive. The bed now becomes the subject and the focus of the sentence, but it isn’t doing anything. It has now become the recipient as it’s being made by Tracy. The whole sentence is reversed.

Another example, and one I love, is:

“The door was kicked in by the officers.” This is passive writing. We have our subject (the door) not doing anything but being on the receiving end of the officers boot. Wouldn’t it sound better if it was worded, “The officers kicked in the door”? – Subject (officers) doing the action (kicked) to the object (door).

Get a post stick note and write SUBJECT is DOING THE ACTION to the OBJECT.  Now pin it to your computer

So is passive writing a big ‘no-no’?

‘Hell No!’….if you are a politicians or news reader and don’t want relay certain information to their public, either because you don’t know it or you are just secretive.

But, as we are talking fiction writing, my answer would have to be a ‘Hell Yes!’ It is a sure way and agent or publisher can tell if you are a novice writer or not.

But how do I know if I am writing passively?

Well, look at your sentence. First, is your subject doing the action? Have you mentioned the object?

Another indication that you are writing passively is your choice of words. Was, were, are, is, am, being, been all denote passive writing. Also, how many words do you have ending in ‘ing’? Too many I bet.

‘Water was poured into the jar.’ – ‘Jessie poured water into jar.’
‘The bone was being eaten by the dog.’ – ‘The dog ate the bone.’

I was a classic passive novelist when I first started writing. I had a friend point it out to me and voila. Now I’m an active girl. If you stick to SUBJECT – DOING ACTION – OBJECT, and watch your verbs, you’ll be fine.

Trust me 🙂

So, are you a passive writer or an active writer? Did you even notice you were writing in passive voice? Do you have any other tips for new writers? Let me know your thoughts….you know I like to chat.

If you want more of me, I can be found on FacebookTwitter, Google+ and Linkedin

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A few weeks back, Karen McFarland asked if I could guest on her blog. And I thought you guys may like to read it, too.

Three years ago, I made a decision. To step away from writing articles and write that ‘book’ I’d always planned to write.

Okay, that wasthe easy part sorted out.

I sat down, and for a couple of months scribbled in my note pad and tapped away on my laptop. I gave my finished story to friends, all of who liked it, and began plotting the sequel.

Then I met Kristen Lamb.

Kristen stumbled upon the first chapter, which I’d posted on a blogger site, and proceeded to hunt me down. She pointed out where I was going wrong and offered to help me. Naturally, I jumped at the chance.

We stripped back my story to its very core, and I wrote a background for my antagonist – something I had never done before.

Kristen’s reply, after I nervously emailed it across to her. “Crap, do it again.”

And again I did. Several times in fact. Until, finally everything clicked into place and I created a psychopathic alter-ego.

  Be wary if Kristen invites you over for dinner.

I’m very good friends with Kristen now. She has the most amazing way of making you pay for her kindness (see picture). I’ve since written two teleplays and currently adapting one into a novel. I’ve plotted my second book, and lead WWBC Team Delta. I apply the Warrior Writer method to every story I plot and wouldn’t consider doing it any other way.

So, without further ado, here is the way to write – Warrior Writer style.

Your Story

First and foremost – you must have an idea of what your book is about. Knowing the genre is extremely helpful, and what your protagonist wants and who’s trying to stop he/she from getting it will also make things a lot easier for you. 

Log Line

Once you know the basis of your story, you can write that log line. Now, don’t be scared. They are easier to write if you follow this simple rule:

An ADJECTIVE NOUN (protagonist) must ACTIVE VERB the ANTAGONIST before  SOME REALLY HORRIBLE THING HAPPENS (stopping the protagonist from reaching her goal).

See my post on Log Lines

Backgrounds

A background is a little like a biography. Imagine you were writing your own life story. You’d start from the moment you were born and take the reader up to the current day. Well, a background is the same thing. Write all about your character from the moment they were born, right up to the moment you are about to start your story.

This is a fantastic way to get to know your character, and give you time to flesh them out. Once done, you will have no trouble writing them, or writing their dialogue.

Backgrounds – Who To Start With?

Antagonist – Why? Because they are the biggest problem. Without them in our story, we have NO story.

Protagonist – Yep, you’ve guessed it. Now do the same for your protagonist. Oh, and don’t make them too perfect. Flaws are good! Flaws make us human.

Love Interest and Supporting Cast – Mentors, Minions, Allies and Love Interests all fit under this section. Note: These are characters that aid your main characters. I’m not talking about the guy who shows up in one scene and delivers the post.

Your Story

You need to ‘bullet point’ your story from beginning to end. Walk yourself through your story step by step. It’s better to hit your dead ends now so you can re-plot, rather than get 40k words in and realise you have to axe 10,000 of them.

Start with:

Normal World
Inciting Incident
Turning Point Act I into Act II
Turning Point Act II into Act III
Darkest Moment
Dénouement 

Get to this point and voila! You have a story to write.

I know most of you may read this and think “Huh? What a waste of time.”

I’ve met people like this and guess what? They are still at the same stage they were a year or so ago. My team mate Piper Bayard and I are living proof this method works. Agents have requested fulls on both our manuscripts.

It’s like building a house. Do the prep-work: dig footings, add cement, lay bricks, and your building will be standing for decades to come.

Good luck with your writing.

Now, let me know if you are a ‘plot and plan‘ writer, or if you just ‘make it up’ as you go along. What works best for you? Have you ever written yourself into a corner?

Want more? You can also find me on FacebookTwitter, Google+ and Linkedin

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