Thursday, January 12, 2012

Guest Blogger - Christina Hollis

Our regular readers might remember Christina visiting with us a couple months ago. Well, we're very excited to have her back with us today to talk about her newest release! Please give her a warm Playground welcome.

FIVE TOP WRITING TIPS TO START THE NEW YEAR...

Thanks, Kira, for inviting me to blog here today.

I hope everyone at the Playground (residents and visitors alike) had a good party season. This time of year can be a bit of a letdown after the excitement of the holidays, unless you got a stack of books for Christmas. On the other hand, it’s a great time to start that new writing project. It doesn’t matter whether you’re doing it solely for you own pleasure or with the aim of getting published, you want to produce the best piece of work you possibly can. Here are five top tips I’ve found most useful in my own writing life...

1. DIVE IN - Read as widely as you can, and write all the time. Take classes, whether ‘real’ or online. Visit your local library to find out about local groups for readers and writers, and check out online sites such as http://romanceuniversity.org. Join groups such as The Romantic Novelists’ Association (http://www.rna-uk.org/) in the UK or Romance Writers of America (http://www.rwa.org/) who provide lots of useful information and contacts. If you intend trying to sell your work, research the market and target your writing carefully before you start.

2. PUT IN THE TIME - which means setting aside some time for yourself every single day. Preferably this should be dedicated writing time, but thinking time can be equally productive as long as you remember to write all your brilliant thoughts down the second you get the chance!

3. READ YOUR FINISHED WORK ALOUD TO YOURSELF - It’s amazing what a different perspective this gives you. It’s best to do this when you’re on your own somewhere, whether in the house or outside in an isolated spot. That way, you can really inject some feeling into your precious words.

4. FIND AN HONEST HELPER - Writing what pleases you should always be top of your agenda but if you intend writing for an audience, constructive criticism is invaluable. Once you are completely happy with your work, hand it over to someone you can trust to tell the truth, whether good or bad. What they didn’t like, and why is as important as what they did like.

5. NEVER SAY ‘I CAN’T BE BOTHERED’ - Fact or factoid? Double check, and always keep your spellchecker switched on. Most importantly, always make notes when you think of them. It’s only too easy to forget to do it later. Like ‘tomorrow’, ‘later’ never comes. Keep a pad and pencil close at hand at all times. Follow up that lead - you never know when you might strike lucky. Polish your manuscript until it shines, and when you send out a query letter make sure you go the extra mile and find out the name of the person best placed to help you. A personally addressed letter or email shows you’ve taken special care. And finally...

NEVER GIVE UP

If you’ve got a good story to tell and you take the time and trouble to hone your craft, you’ll always find an outlet for your talent.

What are your favourite tips for authors? A copy of my latest release for Harlequin Mills and Boon, Weight of the Crown, will be awarded at random for one of the comments.

Don't forget to check out Christina's website at http://www.christinahollis.com or her
Twitter at http://twitter.com/ @christinabooks

10 comments:

Virginia said...

Great post! I am not a writer but I would say reading your on work aloud would be an awesome tip. Your book sound really good and I would love to read it.

Smarty Pants said...

Welcome, Christina. Great tips. I have to say the last one is the one that really resonates with me. You will never publish if you quit. That's the only guaranteed way to fail. You never know what can happen if you keep trying.

Christina Hollis said...

Thanks for your kind comments, Virginia. Once you've read your work aloud to yourself, it gives a confidence boost that makes it easier to hand on to a friend for that invaluable Beta read.

Christina Hollis said...

Hi Andrea, it's great to be here.
Sometimes it feels almost impossible to carry on in the face of rejection, but it's got to be done.
Just think how much poorer the world would be if Margaret Mitchell, J.K Rowling or any one of dozens of other famous authors had given up after getting their first few rejections!

Playground Monitor said...

Hi Christina, and welcome! Sorry it had to be such a cold, rainy day. Hang around though because it's supposed to be sunny tomorrow.

Great tips. I found reading my work out loud not only helped get better perspective, but it helps pick up on errors -- spelling, grammar, that pesky spot where you cut and pasted and didn't get the extra "the" taken out, continuity errors, etc.

Christina Hollis said...

Hi Marilyn - it's been sunny here but the wind is bitterly cold. A perfect day to stay inside in the warm writing, but with a good view of what's going on outside!

Katherine Bone said...

Wonderful tips, Christina! The one that resonates with me the most is making time to write. And, keeping something to write on at your side all the time. The best ideas normally come to me in the shower. LOL! Nothing to write on then. And many times I'll lie in bed and something good will come to me. I'll think, I'll write it down tomorrow. And then it's gone. So these are definitely good reminders for everyone.

Questions; One of your tips is to read widely. Where do you get your ideas?

And do you normally have to do a lot of research for your stories?

Christina Hollis said...

Hi Katherine, thanks for commenting. Ideas for my books tend to grow organically from seeds sown by two of my great loves: food and the countryside. So for example 'Weight of the Crown' casts heroine Alyssa adrift in an exotic landscape and culture very different from her own - I wanted to see how she would cope. Gwen in 'The French Aristocrat's Baby' was desperate to save her cash-strapped restaurant. Would her independence make her refuse Etienne's help?
As for research, I tend to write mainly about what I know, supplementing it by using the Internet and local libraries. Whenever food is mentioned, I'm dedicated to practical, hands-on research. In other words, tasting! ;)

Katherine Bone said...

Thanks for answering my questions, Christina! So glad you came to play!

BW said...

Great tips Christina.

However, I find the best advice is to just do it. You can't say you did something if you don't try to begin with.