Tag Archives: SFWA

#atozchallenge M is for Mentor


by Lillian Csernica on April 15, 2019

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One of the best things a writer can do is find a mentor.

Writing is a lonely business. We have to isolate ourselves, otherwise we’d never get any writing done. When it’s time to emerge from that productive isolation, it helps to have a supportive community of other writers. What helps even more is having a someone who’s been there and done that, who is doing it right now, and can offer support and advice about the process.

Joining a writers group can be one way of building a community and perhaps even finding a mentor. I discuss the pros and cons of writers groups here.

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Thotz.net

What can a writing mentor do for you?

Writing advice — The best way to find good guidance on how to improve your writing is to ask someone who has achieved at least some publishing success. Call me old-fashioned, but I respect the gatekeepers. Editors and publishers with established track records of professional success. Writers who have had fiction accepted by them have proven their level of skill. Both the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and the Romance Writers of America have mentor programs. If you’re writing in these genres, give them a look.

Professional etiquette — This can encompass everything from how to approach publishers and agents to coping with the perils of volunteering for a writers workshop. The experience and perspective of a good mentor can alert you to pitfalls and make sure you present your best polished professional demeanor.

Marketing tips — Writers who have a sales record will most likely acquire some familiarity with the tastes of the editors to whom they send their fiction. This familiarity arises in part from the submission process, but it can also be informed by face time at conventions. Getting the inside scoop on marketing trends is a wonderful thing.

Coping with rejection — There are three basic stages: form rejection, checklist rejection, personalized rejection. Given the speed of submission managers and email replies, the odds have gone up somewhat in terms of getting actual comments on submissions. That being said, it still takes experience to read such comments and understand their meaning. I was overjoyed the first time I got a rejection from Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine that included a comment about looking forward to seeing more stories from me.

Coping with success — This can be worse than rejection. Why? Because while success breeds success, it also breeds anxiety and pressure to perform. Not every idea will turn into a winner. It becomes a numbers game, which means a lot of hard work. In retail, I learned the 80 20 Rule, aka the Pareto Principle, which says 80% of your results will come from 20% of your activities. Having a mentor will help you learn how to spend your available writing time wisely.

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Dreamstime.com

 

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Filed under #atozchallenge, Blog challenges, Conventions, creativity, editing, fantasy, Fiction, Goals, publication, science fiction, Writing

Three of A Kind


by Lillian Csernica on May 20, 2013

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 Today I play catch-up.  I spent the weekend at the San Jose Hilton where the 48th Annual Nebula Awards were held.  For those who don’t know, this is the annual award ceremony held by SFWA.  I am an Active Member, so it was a great pleasure to join my colleagues and hang out with some of the Big Names.  Came home with a brand-new SFWA tote bag (I am notorious in the family for acquiring tote bags) that was stuffed full of great science fiction and fantasy novels.  Now that’s my idea of some nice party favors!

 

Day 18: Tell a story from your childhood. Dig deep and try to be descriptive about what you remember and how you felt.

When I was five years old, my family lived in a three bedroom house not far from where I’d eventually go to kindergarten and elementary school.  We had not one but two back yards.  The first back yard had a big patio and then a grassy lawn with orange and lemon trees.  The second back yard was an empty dirt lot.  My father grew up on a farm in Ohio, so he knew how to turn that ground into a vegetable garden.  I remember being out there with Daddy, wearing sandals and a hat and sun glasses with a little summer dress.  I was carrying a plastic sand pail with the seed packages in it.  We’d move along the furrow with Daddy using a hand trowel to make deeper holes for the seeds, then I’d drop a seed into the hole.  The garden hose was involved at some point in this process, wetting the ground where we planted the seeds.  Spending time with Daddy on the weekends was special, because he worked the swing of graveyard shifts and slept during the day.  I never did get to know much about Daddy’s childhood, but this was like seeing some of what he did on Grandma’s farm.

I don’t remember much about weeding or harvesting the vegetables, but I do remember my mother sitting and the dinner table with a big bowl of peas in the pod.   She’d call me to help her shell the peas.   I had small hands, but that just made me faster than Mom.  I had to be careful, though, because if I slipped peas went bouncing everywhere.  There were other times when we’d be shucking ears of corn or snapping beans or peeling cucumbers.  Mom gave me cooking lessons when I was little, so growing our own vegetables and doing all the work to prepare them made cooking and eating them a lot more meaningful.  My sister had this nasty ability to make corn kernels squirt across the table at me.  She never got caught, either.

 

Day 19: Five of your favorite blogs and what you love about them.

Janice Heck: My Time to Write

Janice’s blog is a lot of fun.  Great nature photos, fun stories about her family, and always a final word from her cat.  The header with the maneki neko collection is pretty cool too.

Kristin Lamb’s Blog

Strong writing, well-informed opinions, inspirational commentary on the writing life.  My idea of what a mentor should be.

Three’s A Herd

It’s comforting to listen to the ups and downs of another mother who has more than one child with special needs.  Running such a household is more than just “a challenge.”  It’s a balancing act involving logistics, time management, awareness and support of various people’s various needs, and never losing sight of one’s own well-being.

Hunter’s Writing

A fabulous treasure trove of writing resources.  Easy on the eyes, full of items that make you want to stay a while.

Ruralspaceman

This fine gentleman’s tales of life in his household are told in such a wonderful, whimsical style.  I highly recommend the entry about the family dinner, rendered as the agenda of a meeting.

 

Day 20: Get real. Share something you’re struggling with right now.

 I’m trying to give up drinking Dr. Pepper and/or Coke.  Too much sugar, caffeine, carbolic acid, sodium, and chemicals.  This is very difficult, because we’re heading into hot weather and I have a terrible sweet tooth.  Also, I tend to eat spicy food, so if I don’t have some fizzy beverage, I end up feeling like an inflated balloon.  New York Seltzer is great, but I can’t find it anymore.  Hansen’s is all right, but I have trouble getting Mandarin Lime.  I can’t stand Cherry or Kiwi Strawberry.   There’s also a certain somatic component, like the one involved in smoking.  Sometimes it’s just nice to have the cold can and take that swig every so often.  The habit itself is no big deal as long as I find a replacement that gives me the fizz without the unwanted ingredients.

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Filed under Blog challenges, Family, fantasy, Fiction, Writing