Monday, August 30, 2010
Give me your wackiest prompts by no later than Thursday, September 2, and I'll write a (500-word max) piece of flash fiction. I'll post the piece September 9.
...Author of the chosen prompt will automatically be in the running for a yet-undisclosed prize (which she / he will receive in time for the holidays)!
I've loved the prompts I've already received, but can't wait to see more! I haven't yet chosen a prompt, so surprise me, challenge me!
(Before you send the prompt, check out the full contest details and an example of my flash fiction!)
Friday, August 27, 2010
Which makes me glad that at least one corner of my house is put together. (My renovations make the place look like a battered revision…you know the sort: coffee rings, waded pages, scratched out passages, none of which would make any sense to anyone who happened to pick up the manuscript.)
And in addition to the half-stained quarter round, the boxes of flooring, the piles of yet-to-be-shelved books, we also have signs that proclaim the piano a “No Tool Zone,” or offer gentle reminders such as this:
He who removes this blue tape will die an agonizing death involving methodical dismemberment and the slow removal of eyeballs (which will subsequently be sold as earrings).
Ah well, at least we haven’t destroyed our senses of humor along the way…
…But I’m seriously in a twitter about Vegas! Wish me luck…
Thursday, August 26, 2010
I'm so intrigued by the fact that you're a full-time ghostwriter! Please tell us how you personally came to the gig.
I had been a staff writer for several publications (teacher magazines, a book packager, etc.) when I started freelancing on the side to start getting into more book projects.
I had no idea what “ghostwriting” was – or that you could make a living at it – until I saw ads for it on a freelance writing job board. Even so, my first actual ghostwriting gig I found in the local newspaper!
What kinds of projects are available for a ghostwriter? Books? Articles? Fiction? Non-fiction?
I would say all of the above. In my experience, ghostwriters tend to specialize. I know several ghostwriters who all they do is articles, and they probably make more than me! Others ghost-blog, you know, for corporations or consultants or what have you. I started with books, and it seems the more books I do, the more folks want to hire me to do that. So I would say whatever can be written, can be ghostwritten.
For branding purposes, it’s really helpful to find a niche and try to own it. For me, I include a formal book proposal in nearly every bid, which is something not every ghostwriter does, so I’ve been able to stand out a little there. Basically, the goal is to do one thing and do it really well.
So if you’re great at blogging, if all your published clips are blogs, that would probably be the best place for you to start branding yourself as a ghost-blogger. Same thing with articles, books, fiction, non-fiction, fantasy, romance, whatever.
Clients want to hire someone who’s already done what they need done, so the more credits you have in that area – blogging, articles, books – the more likely you are to get the gig.
How do you find jobs as a ghostwriter? (How does a writer get started ghosting?) Do you need an agent? Do you approach publishers / editors directly?
I spend a lot of time on http://www.guru.com/ and http://www.elance.com/. I mean, a LOT of time! I supplant those two websites with occasional referral projects; some from agents, some from publicists, some from former clients.
So it’s really a combination of things, like any freelance job. My advice to someone starting out in ghostwriting is to invest a little time and money at first. Guru.com and Elance.com cost money, but the payoff is if you get one job from it you’ve paid back that investment right away and the rest is gravy.
It’s also good to have a website with links to published clips. In my case, I have a blog where I post advice for clients/writers on how to get published. I also post book covers I’ve worked on with links to amazon.com, where prospects can read writing samples.
So in the beginning try to get as many published clips as you can to show clients, “Here, look at what I’ve done.” No clip is unworthy. Oftentimes I run across clients who aren’t looking to pay big money to a professional, but are actively looking for a student or recent college grad just starting out who has the talent but not necessarily the credentials.
So in that case you really only need a half-dozen clips or so to get their interest. If you act professionally and can settle on a fair price, many times beginning writers can oftentimes beat out more established writers for such gigs.
Have you ever written a book in a series? If so, was it for a series you were already familiar with? How were you able to get into the "voice" of the series?
I haven’t been lucky enough to work on a series yet, but you bring up a good point about “voice.” Every client has one; male, female, young, old, black, white, chick lit, academic, etc.
In ghostwriting it’s very important that it not be “your” book so much as the client, so getting their voice is key. I often call myself a “translator,” not a ghostwriter, because so much of my job is listening to the client to see what his/her voice is like.
Oftentimes clients don’t think they have a voice, or prefer someone else’s style to their own. They’ll often say, “Have you read The 4-Hour Workweek? I really like that guy’s writing style” or, “Have you read Eat, Pray, Love? I’d like to sound like her…” The goal then is to find out what’s unique about the client’s favorite book and try to match that writing style with the client’s ideas. It can be challenging, but that’s what so great about this job – it’s something different every day.
What's your typical day look like? How much time do you spend chasing new work vs. writing your current projects? Or do the projects come to you now?
My day starts with some exercise because the rest of the day is spent sitting on my butt! But work-wise, I pretty much have to keep a 9 to 5 schedule because most of my clients call during those hours. I spend a lot of time on the phone, actually, which means I work pretty well into the evening to catch up on writing in between conference calls and emails. I prospect, or look for clients, throughout the day. I hope on Guru and Elance 5 or 6 times a day, just looking for jobs that match my qualifications.
In between all that I do have to actively “chase New York” and query/pitch on behalf of my clients’ various projects, so there is a lot of juggling going on.
How long do you usually have to write a specific project?
It depends on the client and the length of the book, but typically I request 2-4 months for a full-length book project. I try to give my clients a chapter per week, or at least 10-15 pages, so that usually ends up netting us 40,000 to 50,000-words over the 4 month period.
How does the process work...do you get an outline from the publisher? Do you have any say in the content? Do you work a project through to completion and then submit, or do you have to submit chapters / sections as you go along?
I typically work for the client first, then the publisher. Usually, the client and I flesh out the outline, the title and subtitle, the chapter content, write a book proposal based on that and then pitch it to the publisher. Once the publisher approves the outline, then we start filling it in.
We just start at the beginning and get to writing. I deliver that week’s chapter and we don’t move on until the client is happy with what’s been done so far. If there are changes that need to be made, we make them before moving on.
So the outlining process is really critical to getting to know the client, and vice versa. It’s our first “creative collaboration” and it’s a nice way for clients to get their feet wet in the ghostwriting process, as most of them have never done it before. So by the time we have the title, subtitle and outline in place, they’re used to the back and forth collaborative process and writing the chapters comes more easily that way.
What's the best part of ghosting?
I would have to say the people. By that I mean the variety of the people I get to work with and learning their stories, their systems, their successes and getting a published book out of that.
Many clients are eager to have their name on a book, and helping them achieve that goal is satisfying to me. I have also met so many interesting and exciting people over the course of my career; people I would have never met – because of geography, industry, etc. – that have really taught me a lot about my business, about creativity, about what they do and how the world works.
Writing is a pretty solitary activity, but ghostwriting is very, very collaborative and while that was something I had to get used to in the beginning, now that’s the best part of my job!
Who is ghostwriting perfect for? What kind of person wouldn't make a good ghostwriter?
In ghostwriting, as with any other freelance writing position – or, really, freelance position period – you definitely have to be a self-starter. So it’s good for folks who are pretty disciplined with their time. Working from home it’s very easy to turn a quick errand into a half-day off, or a snack into a meal, so you pretty much have to set “office hours” for yourself and really stick to them.
Personality-wise, you can’t have too big of an ego if you go into ghostwriting. You have to look at it like, “Okay, this is the client’s book, I need to write in his voice and make this the best it can be for him.”
What's the best piece of advice you can give to a writer interested in getting started ghostwriting?
Gosh, I would have to suggest they do what’s often hardest for writers: treat it like a business. Get those published credits, as many as you can. Link them together in a professional-looking website or blog. Research ghostwriting and find out what going rats are for articles, blog posts, website copy and even book-writing. But don’t be too upset if a client comes in with a low bid.
For instance, if you really want to get into book writing and a client offers you less to write a book than you would get for writing a 12-page article, think about what the client is bringing. If the opportunity is good enough – if you like the topic, or just the client, or it’s for a great publisher, or something else is attractive about it – it could be worth the lower cost to break into that line of ghostwriting.
The most important thing is to treat this like a profession. Guru.com and Elance.com are clogged with folks who write as a hobby. But the folks who come there are looking for professionals. If you can act professional and write, you too can be a ghostwriter – IF you want!
Thanks, Rusty! I know so many published authors who haven’t yet been financially able to make the leap to writing full-time…I completely admire your dedication and wish you continued success!
…And now that our interests have been piqued, we can continue to find out more about ghosting at Rusty's blog.
Monday, August 23, 2010
…What knocks me out is when a book is so real, you're just absolutely sure the main character’s got to be walking around out there somewhere. And I think a lot of bloggers must feel the same way! Been seeing a lot of variations of this question in interviews...(This one came specifically from The AnaRissa Chronicles):
Can you relate to any of your characters that your have written? Are they based on real people?
"The voice of Aura is really closest to the voice that just rattles around in my own head. But my characters are never based on real people. They’re always complete fiction.
A lot of my readers seem to WANT the characters in A BLUE SO DARK to be real people…I’ve often been asked if I grew up with a schizophrenic mother! (I didn’t—but Mom and I both laugh about the question…she was a psych major in college!)
Really, though, my characters don’t live anywhere but in my mind…And I can’t wait to introduce the world to my next cast of characters, which I’ll be able to do next March, when PLAYING HURT is released!"
…Just think, though, if we could populate our neighborhoods with our favorite characters from novels…contemporary and classic! Now there’s a pool party I’d like to go to…
Thursday, August 19, 2010
You get the point.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
...I must admit, when I sold A BLUE SO DARK, I really kind of balked at the idea of having to do anything tech-related. I was a pen and notebook gal, after all. Now, though, it all completely excites me.
What do the rest of you think about tech-meets-old-school-paper-books? What's your favorite way to get your lit fix? Kindle? Print books? Audiobooks? Any writers out there currently podcasting their own fiction?
Monday, August 16, 2010
...so that a fresh round of belly laughter makes us lighten up our manuscripts. The guys who race across the house with our rough drafts in their mouths, or blur ink with muddy footprints, and look at us as if to say, What are you so mad about? You weren’t actually thinking of submitting that drivel, were you?
Yep, this one’s for the fuzzy, long-eared editors, who see us at our absolute worst, roll their eyes, wait for the worst to pass, and love us the way we love our writing. Unconditionally. No reserve.
…My own four-legged editor recently had a birthday…and we celebrated with gusto. Party galore. Yeah, that’s right. I said it. Birthday party for my dog…He’s not the only one that loves unconditionally and without reserve ‘round here…
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
5. I'll run the challenge again in October, November, and December. (Each post will go live on the 9th.)
6. After the December challenge, I'll set up a poll, so that everyone can vote: Which prompt led to the best flash fiction? The winner will receive a special prize...just in time for the holidays!
(I just love the writing community. So much support all around...)
Check out the interview at Medeia's blog!
Monday, August 9, 2010
Calling all bloggers! From here on out, once every month, I'll be posting a brand spankin' new piece of flash fiction...and I'll be asking you for the subject. Yup...you'll be sending me the prompts, and I'll be writing a piece of flash fiction (no longer than 500 words) from your suggestions!
The first piece, "Rocket In Real Life," was written using a prompt from Figment, a site scheduled to go live this fall, where I'll be cross-posting my flash fiction. (First line of the story had to be: What were you thinking?) I've included a video reading (turn 'er all the way up to hear me...or just watch Jake, my constant companion, who steals the show...) I've also pasted the entire story below.
...So go ahead, bloggers and YA fans, brainstorm some prompts! (The harder the better...I dare you to try to stump me!)
Email all your suggestions to writehollyschindler (at) yahoo (dot) com. The first piece of blogger-generated flash fiction will go live September 9 (one month from today). Can't wait to see what you have in store for me!
"Rocket In Real Life"
by Holly Schindler
“What were you thinking?” the girl cop asks, shaking her head beneath the throb of patrol car lights.
I let loose a sloppy laugh, because I screamed the same thing at Jason maybe ten minutes ago, as the party clanked around us. “What were you thinking?” while my fingers dug ditches into his bicep and she ducked behind his shoulder, her eyes too wide not to be guilty.
His friends laughed. In the law of guys, best friends got the pass. A girlfriend lived like a blind mole, in the dark, happy and unsuspecting until the metal trap shot into the earth and stabbed her.
“Rocket,” they all moaned, his friends and mine, the way you moan at a bad joke, because I’d had a full cup since the party’d started. As though drunk and overreacting were one and the same.
“Rocket,” they called, using that ridiculous name my parents had given—What were you thinking? I could have asked them sixteen years ago. Okay, so it was Raquelle on paper, but Rocket in real life, because I loved the sound of the engines at the nearby airport. Speed—I’d craved it always, sprinting straight into the arms of anything the rest of the world thought I wasn’t yet ready for…
I chased them, out of the house and then down the street when she got in his car, two blocks, around the corner, until the steering wheel slipped from my loose fingers and I hit them, laughing at the crunch of the metal like we were in bumper cars.
But they’d already been following us, the cops. Called to a loud party, and now, it’s the straight line I can’t walk and the nose I can’t find, even on my own face…And Jason’s mouth, which I’ve tasted too many times to forget—the same way I could never forget the taste of Dr. Pepper. And her, still in his passenger’s seat.
The guy cop sticks his hand inside Jason’s window. Cross-eyed with booze, I swear I see a fist bump. A pass.
And in the throbbing blue lights, I finally begin to curse my precious speed, because it’s only raced me here—handcuffed, watching Jason pull away. And wondering if anything will ever feel uncomplicated again.
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Debasmita at Bookaholics Oye!! said, "Holly Schindler’s writing is beautiful, lyrical, poetic and almost magical." And as she hails from India, I believe she's my farthest-away review to date! (Talk about "magical," there's something about knowing my words were read so far away that gives me goose bumps...)
And Krista at Up the Tower of Books posted my guest blog on how to wrench yourself from a writing or reading slump...
Race on over to check 'em out!
Friday, August 6, 2010
Anyway, first headline I saw this morning when I logged back on was about the Whitesnake video. You’ve seen it, right? “Here I Go Again,” ten million hits on YouTube.
…And suddenly, I’m thinking about me, 1992. Five years after the ‘Snake vid, but still loving—and I mean loving—my hair bands (and anything metal-ish) nonetheless. (Yup, I’m fifteen in the picture below…and that’s the drummer of Tesla signing an autograph for me…)
And I’m thinking about life before computers, before cell phones (in 1992, it was before answering machines in the Schindler household), and I’m tallying up the incredible—seriously—incredible word count I racked up during this past week when I was unplugged, and I’m wondering if I shouldn’t unplug more often…I mean, even for a few hours, one day on the weekend…
Sounds like heaven, actually…a little circa ’92 living…hmmm…
Monday, August 2, 2010
But the fun doesn't just stop with the trailer...Holly's given us a chance to win:
Signed TMAS books! TMAS t-shirts!
Fan-made bracelets by Hannah S! Music that inspired the book!
Sneak Previews! Bookmarks and Handmade Magnets!
A Tell Me a Secret handmade necklace!
To enter, head to YouTube, then click the Share button to send to your Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, or blog! (Each "share" is worth 5 points.)
Click here to tell Holly where you posted, and enter to win!