This blog has moved to Cheryl Murphy Writes: Chronicles of an Ink Slinger. It became too hard to mirror to this site. Lots of glitches and such. I don't do much to maintain this site anymore so if you're wondering why things might look a bit wonky, that would be it.

If you've navigated here and discovered this dead blog, using the "Subscribe via email" feature in the sidebar will subscribe you to the new site feed, so that's a plus. ;)

An RSS feed of the new site is embedded below.

I hope you'll join me at my new home!

RSS Feed of the new site: Cheryl Murphy Writes: Chronicles of an Ink Slinger

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

This blog has moved to Cheryl Murphy Writes: Chronicles of an Ink Slinger.  It became too hard to mirror to this site. Lots of glitches and such.

Feedburner has been moved to the new address so current Feedburner subscribers should start receiving their emails from me again. I'm sorry they stopped coming. I hadn't realized the mirroring stopped working until the other day. Doing the clean up on it now.

If you've navigated here and discovered this dead blog, using the "Subscribe via email" feature in the sidebar will subscribe you to the new site feed, so that's a plus. ;)

New readers and Blogger followers, I hope you'll join me at my new home. Feedburner email readers, I'm glad to have you back! I've missed you!

I will try to figure out if I can just add my Feedburner feed to the blog and maybe keep it mirroring that way. I dunno if it'll work, though.

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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Cheryl Murphy Writes

Friday, February 10, 2012

Cheryl Murphy Writes

Posted: 10 Feb 2012 12:30 PM PST
Posted: 10 Feb 2012 12:01 PM PST
Many of you are probably familiar with the kerfuffle over the last few days. Here’s more dialog to add to the pile.
Please note: our contest coordinator, Jackie, is a chapter member who graciously volunteered to collect entries and sort by category.
Hey folks, stop emailing your complaints to her! Don’t you know she doesn’t get paid to read them, she just does it out of the kindness of her heart? So who should you send your email complaining of their discrimination to since it’s not the contest coordinator? She volunteers, she shouldn’t have to wade through the backlash of their discriminatory practices, and now that you mention, you don’t get to complain at all.
*scratches head* What did they think would happen? I’m not sure how anyone in this day and age of viral internet activity makes a decision to discriminate and doesn’t see this coming.
We also opted not to accept YA entries.
Because that’s totally the same.
We do not condone discrimination against individuals of any sort.
Do they honestly expect us to believe that by excluding gay romance they weren’t excluding…
wait for it…
I suppose the next argument will be that a gay writer could enter so long as the romance ws hetero. FAIL, RWI. Epic fail.
Instead of insincere apologies, they should probably just go gentle into that good night. This half-assed apology was hardly worth the effort it took to type it. It certainly won’t win them any sympathy.
via RWI Magic Contest Cancelled.
Posted: 10 Feb 2012 09:45 AM PST
I’ve mentioned this workshop before and now here’s your chance to apply. Early admission deadline has already passed but regular admission deadline is April. It’s a big chunk of time but if you can go, it’s bound to be an awesome experience.
Odyssey Writing Workshop.
via Odyssey Writing Workshop.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Cheryl Murphy Writes

Posted: 09 Feb 2012 04:53 PM PST
Posted: 09 Feb 2012 08:54 AM PST
What is it about forums that make people suddenly turn incapable of common sense? Conversations inevitably turn into a complete mess of people trying to prove how much smarter they are than you (and failing miserably). There’s always that point in which you know you should have made your last comment one comment ago.
I belong to several forums and I really try not to engage in the idiocy. Somehow I stumble into them anyway, mostly because I just can’t keep my big mouth shut. As I write the comment, I can sense that it’s not going to end well and I should just delete and move one. Usually I manage to listend to that feeling but sometimes it just doesn’t sink in, showing quite well that I, too, can clearly lack that common sense.
It amazes me how literal a person can be when it’s only words on a screen. We already know that the lack of face to face conversation makes people bolder, willing to say things they would otherwise never say, and even feel the license to be mean, disrespectful and downright ugly. People that would typically have a decent conversation can turn one into a nightmare when it’s just written words.
It’s like the whole adverb thing. People gloss over the words that tell you it’s not a literal translation and read only the words that call it a hard and fast rule that should be taken as gospel and if you don’t have strict adherence you shall burn in Hell in eternal agony. “Limit your adverbs” turns into “NO ADVERBS!” like you’re Faye Dunaway screaming “NO WIRE HANGERS!”
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Comments ensue of how “there are no rules” and the point gets completely muddled and missed.
I’m sure I missed the memo that said forums are actually writing prompt sources for fiction writers. The poster writes their post, other forum members pick out a few words from it and then make up their own post with those few words which they then attribute to the OP and then argue over it. If someone has a copy of that memo, I’d like it.
I made a comment on editing the other day on a forum in which that very thing happened. People will find anything to argue about. This time it was actually about how there are hard and fast rules that absolutely should be taken as gospel and if you don’t have strict adherence you shall burn in Hell in eternal agony (I paraphrase, of course). Probably the same people that would say there are no rules had I been talking about something else, like say adverbs. Snarky comments ensued in reply to my comment – which of course was taken too literally as key words were glossed over. The same thing people all over the interwebs have seen since the dawn of chats and forums. If you’ve been on any forums, I’m sure it’s happened to you. Even on the build-your-own-amazing-badass-speakers-to-the-phi-ratio-audiophile forum, there are flame wars.
Having better things to do than argue with people that have missed the point, I (mostly) learned to ignore them and simply not engage but others actually like to engage. As a forum member, it’s no fun reading them any more than it is being involved in them so I stop reading when a thread falls apart. Flame wars suck. And sometimes they suck you down with it.
I find myself not reading more than reading now, though, which is sad. If I feel that way, I’m fairly certain others do too. It doesn’t leave much room for any kind of real conversation. I think I’m down to one forum where I actually enjoy going. The others feel like a chore that I’m somehow obligated to deal with because of what I do. I want to engage but it seems hopeless so I’m left with simply making an appearance to say congratulations!  or +1, or some other such non-engaging-see-I-showed-up statements. I really hate that. I would prefer to enjoy being there.
We believe that as unknown/unpublished writers, we need to have an online presence so we try. Established authors are lucky enough to only need their blog, Twitter, and Facebook as their online presence. I hope to get there someday.
On the plus side, the fewer forums I stick around on, the fewer distractions I have. And look, I’ve been getting better at blogging!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Cheryl Murphy Writes

Posted: 06 Feb 2012 08:00 AM PST
So you don’t have the money for an MFA and you probably don’t want one anyway, nor can you afford to go to cons and workshops but you just don’t understand what all these people are talking about in your crits. But I thought I was writing in active voice!
It’s okay. There’s help for that. We’ve discussed a bit about podcasts but now I want to tell you about some of the great blogs. Over the years, blogs have helped me not only understand better, but also explain better.
Here are some of the blogs that have been invaluable to me:
Author! Author! – Anne Mini, author, editor and crazy-detailed, in-depth, there’s-no-way-you-won’t-get-this, blogger of mechanics. She’s does entire series’ on subjects you really should get to know. You could spend months in her archives. Months, I tell you.
write it sideways – One of the first sites that I found that talked about filter words. You know, those words that you know you could do better with but you aren’t really sure why or how or what it’s called…
Evil Editor – Because getting reamed has never been this fun.
Miss Snark – Closed up shop in 2007 but left for all to absorb. Probably one of the first websites I ever read on writing. Still one of the best. And snarky, too.
Grammar Girl – As I’ve said before, we all know why we need her.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Cheryl Murphy Writes

Posted: 02 Feb 2012 08:00 AM PST
Someone actually called a crit group getting hen-pecked. Pretty arrogant, if you ask me. There’s not much more you can say to declare your superiority. Okay, well maybe there are a few more things but this is high on the short list. If you’ve been writing for years and years, worked with editors, and you have plenty of books under your belt that have been published with a wonderful reception, then no, this probably doesn’t apply to you. But for much of the normal folk…
If you don’t think there’s something to be learned from getting hen-pecked then you probably don’t need an editor since your shit don’t stank. Just waltz right into Penguin and tell them you want your book printed and distributed by Wednesday. They’ll do it, really.
But since getting critiqued is heart-wrenching, here are some tips when you’re feeling like you’ve been picked over by vultures:
Getting hen-pecked is essential to learning how to write. If you can’t figure out the little things, then you’ll never get the big things. If I have to hear one more person say they can use adverbs all they want, I’ll scream. Clearly the point is lost upon them. The idea is not to remove every single adverb from any bit of written genius. It’s to make you write better. Describe better. Make people feel your words. Flip through any book and you’ll find adverbs, they aren’t exactly stricken from the english language. They exist and it’s okay to use them every once in a while. It’s not okay to rely on them. Adverbs don’t make a person feel anything.
If you’re sick of people telling you to show not tell, maybe you need to research showing vs. telling more. Maybe, just maybe, you don’t really understand the concept. It’s okay not to understand the concept. It took someone taking my work and actually rewriting it, physically showing me the difference between what I wrote and what it could be, in order for me to fully understand. You only need accept that maybe you truly don’t get it.
As a writer, getting hen-pecked also teaches you how to take a critique. You learn how to think critically about your own writing when you see those marks all over the place and wonder how much of that you really need to focus on. We all know that we can pull any book off our shelf and redline the hell out of it. That didn’t stop it from getting printed or from becoming a NYT bestseller.
You learn how to pick and choose which you think matter and which don’t.
You learn how to look at that sea of red and ask yourself why people are focusing on hen-pecking and not the story. If people are focusing that much on hen-pecking, then maybe the story isn’t strong enough.
Once you learn what you’re getting hen-pecked about and fix that in your writing, you generally stop getting hen-pecked. Just sayin’.
There are so many ways to look at the value of a crit group. Instead of looking at how it’s hurting your feelings, look at how it can help you to be a better writer. Writers are a sensitive lot. We love a good fit to throw. Go ahead and feel the anger and get all pissy and throw your fit, just don’t do it publicly. Then come back to your crit and figure out what you can learn from your plucking. Odds are in favor of you becoming a much better writer and critiquer.
In all of this, it’s not to say that some people aren’t very good critters. Some truly do suck. I would like to believe that they are all new because becoming a good critter takes practice and time. You get better at it as you go and become a better writer. It unfortunately doesn’t hold true for everyone. Believe me, you’ll figure out who they are and learn to ignore them.
P.S. If you think getting hen-pecked in a crit group is bad, good luck with an editor. A good editor will have more to say than anyone in a crit group. And most editors don’t believe in the sandwich method.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Cheryl Murphy Writes

Posted: 31 Jan 2012 08:59 PM PST
A few months back my WIP broke. Yes, it broke. I wrote myself into a big black corner and I couldn’t figure out how to fix it. I lost motivation and even though I’d force myself to sit in the chair, I’d end up on Facebook after staring at the screen for awhile.
I stared because I just didn’t know what to do.
I decided to outline and find out where I went wrong. I can’t fix what I can’t find.
I sat down with some of my writing group and came up with ideas that I needed to fill in those big blanks. I outlined my subplots and character arcs. I got irritated when I had something else to do besides write – which is often when you have a family. Yes, feel sorry for them, they deserve it.
Catharsis. It felt so good to finally be doing some work and OMG did it work. I don’t think I’ll ever be a pantser again. I’ve taken a page from the TV writing rooms – plot the hell out of it so you can hand your outline to anyone to write. I won’t be handing it off to anyone but I’ve learned that if I take the time to outline and plot my story out, then the writing comes a lot easier.
At the rate I’m moving now, I expect I’ll be done in a couple months. I also expect that with practice, I’ll only get faster.
And that’s how I fixed my WIP.