Monday, December 16, 2013

All Things Holiday Hiatus

Hello! It's that time of year! Holiday Hiatus!

What does that mean for you, faithful reader?

Just that All Things Writing will be taking a brief break until January. When we return, you'll discover a new staff member who brings her own brand of steamy romance and Southern charm to the blogger table. I can't wait to introduce you to Esmae Browder. She's a handful!

Have a delightful Holiday Season and see you in January!

Mary Ann

Monday, December 9, 2013

Writers' League of Texas Manuscript Contest

This just popped into my inbox today and I thought I'd share it with all of you out there in the blog sphere. Writers' League of Texas is opening up for submissions to its annual Manuscript Contest. Having been a past winner in the Sci/Fantasy category in 2009, I can tell you that this is a worthwhile contest. My urban fantasy, Nephilim, took first place! Did winning shoot me to new heights of fame and glory? Well, no. But it did help me make a lot of connections with agents and authors that have been invaluable! Check our the blurb below and then click on the link to get even more specifics!--Mary Ann

Been slaving away on an unpublished manuscript that's finally ready to see the light of day? Well, here's your chance! You are invited to submit a short synopsis and the opening pages of your unpublished work to the League’s 14th annual Manuscript Contest. The winner in each category will meet individually with an agent at the 2014 Writers’ League of Texas Agents Conference, June 27 – 29, 2014. You do NOT have to be a member of the Writers' League to enter this contest.


This contest gives you the chance to…
• Attend a private meeting with a literary agent in your genre
• Have your work professionally critiqued by a published author
• Find out how your first ten pages rank against others in your genre
• Be recognized at the 2014 WLT Agents Conference

 What’s new for 2014?
This year, the Manuscript Contest has gone 100% digital! All entries must be submitted online, and payment must be made online via credit card at the time of submission. Checks and paper entry forms are no longer accepted.

Click here to find out more!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Ghostwriters, Co-Authors, and Problem Clients

How important is the contract between a ghostwriter/co-author and a client?

It's vital. Do not work without one! I don't care if the client is your best friend. That contract is vital because it can save you from a lot of hassle and heartbreak in the long run.

Notice I've mentioned the words ghostwriter and co-author. They really are two separate things, but both require that you sign a contract.

But why? What's the big deal?

A contract offers you protection, as well as, the client. It helps you set deadlines, expectations, and payment amounts. That piece of paper can keep you and your client walking the straight path together and keeps everyone on the same page. It's a tool you can refer to when a client becomes demanding or wants you to do something that is different from your original agreement. Of course, there are times when you may need to stray from the contract or you find that whatever the client is asking is not something unreasonable. Yes, it's okay to do a verbal agreement in those cases, but I would suggest creating a short addendum to your contract that included the new arrangement. If nothing else, at least get it in an email so you have something to fall back on should things go sour.

If you are ghost writing, you want your contract to be clear on a few things. For example, you need to know when you're getting paid and how much. How long will the word count be? How many re-writes are you going to be expected to do? What is the time frame? How flexible is the client on that? The client will probably make sure the contract includes information regarding the fact that your name will not be anywhere on the final product nor will you receive royalties from future sales.

When you co-author a book, you will want many of the above things to be listed as well. However, I think the expectations for co-authoring need to be outlined even more. For example, how involved with the client be in the writing part? Is it just their idea and outline that they want you to turn into something more? Or are they going to write a few chapters, too? Again, the time frame question becomes very important here--especially if you are juggling other clients or work. Sometimes a client will stall and stall on that final draft, which means your payment is withheld. Having that contract serves as a reminder to the client that all good things must come to an end.

I've enjoyed working as both a ghostwriter and a co-author, but have found that having a solid written agreement about expectations is crucial. Several times, I could have been in a real bind if it weren't for my contract.

Here's a little red flag warning that I've picked up on: If a client repeatedly ignores a particular question in an email or in several emails, that's a problem. Something about the question bothers the client. For example, if you are asking when something will be completed or when you will get their revisions back and they never answer, that's not good. It means it's a question you need to keep asking.

If you find yourself with a problem client, be professional. Send an email that gently reminds them of the contractual agreement they signed with you. Try to be flexible--everyone has bad days or months. Hopefully, you can work this out. I find that the email communication is better than a phone call. It gets everything down on paper and allows you to keep your emotions in check. Remember, it's business. Always do your best to be polite, but lay it out so that the client knows exactly what the issue is.

Having trouble with a co-authoring/ghostwriter contract? I'd love to chat with you! Email me at

Monday, December 2, 2013

Editing Techniques

I hate editing.

Over the years, I've attended many writing workshops on how to best edit your work. As a teacher, I've had students ask me about it as well. What I've discovered is that one of the reasons I hate editing so much is that there are so many ways to do it. And what works for you one time, may not work for you another.

Editing is not just about the process of cleaning up ideas and fixing bad grammar. It's about delving deeper into your manuscript, deeper into the lives of your characters. It means giving good characters bad character traits to make them more real or providing tragedy in moments of comedy that bring the reader to tears.

Editing is a very emotional business!

So how does one go about doing it? Do you start with cutting the back story down? Do you work a few chapters at a time until you are completely satisfied? Should you put away the whole story for weeks before even starting the process? Is it the word count that must be trimmed before you can focus on the layers of the story? Does the time of day make the biggest difference to how much work you get done?

The truth is that it's different for everyone. I don't know one writer who has the same process as another. Despite what I may say to a student writer, the fact is that once you learn to self edit (catch the spelling, the grammar, the punctuation) as you go along, how you choose to your revise the manuscript or story is really your call.  Many writers use the techniques mentioned in the paragraphs above.

I've tried most  of the methods listed and really feel that editing depends on when you wrote the story, how long it is, how emotionally attached you feel to the characters. I hate editing a full manuscript after it's been put away for a long time--say a year or so. I used to write fast and hard and then shelf the manuscript so it could "breathe." However, I would often start working on other projects and not go back to the novel as quickly as I had planned. The result? I felt disconnected from the work and found it harder to edit, harder to know what had happened and when crucial plot points occurred in the story. When I work on this type of manuscript,  I find that I must to make the editing manageable by reading the whole thing, making notes, and then working in sections at a time. For me, it helps to divide the novel into three acts.

Manuscripts that I wrote and worked on immediately are much easier for me to edit, but require more discipline to finish. When I work on a project and strive to keep the word count around 80,000 words, I find that I can keep all my eggs in the basket. I don't lose sight of the plot points or the characters. They stay at the forefront of my mind. I do sometimes need to walk away for a week or two, but not for months at a time. I reread constantly, making notes on my phone or by hand, and I put it on my Kindle so that I am forced to read without instantly editing.

I mentioned that it takes more discipline for the above method. For me, ideas for stories are constantly jumping around in my head, tempting me to work on them instead of the task at hand. I'm at the point now that when I have a good idea, I may start writing pieces of it, but not the whole thing unless my other projects are done. I want to be able to devote all of my energy to the tale at hand--not only for creative purposes, but for editing, too.

Mary Ann Loesch is the author of the Bayou Myth series, Nephilim, and Even This Shall Pass. You can purchase her books at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords. To learn more about Mary Ann, drop by her website: Mary Ann Loesch Website