Switch Gender

There you are, a man trying to write female characters or a woman trying to write men. How do you make them believable?

You can fall back on stereotypes. You can lift from your favorite book, TV, or movie characters. Or you can connect to the “other” in your own spirit.

Now, don’t get discouraged; I’m not going “airy-fairy” on you. I’m talking about reaching into the depths of your writer’s psyche and recognizing that you can, if you allow yourself to, get in touch with the opposite gender that resides in us all.

Very few people are all male or all female. Except for those few creatures who live on the extreme ends of the male-female spectrum that ranges from Sweet Young Thing to Manly Man, all women have at least some male sensibilities, just as all men have at least some female sensibilities. It’s only our fear of acknowledging and accepting those attributes that prevent us from having full access to our internal opposites.

Try it! Change your protagonist’s gender. See where it takes you. Don’t default to how you think the opposite gender would view the circumstances. Give yourself permission–as an artist, as a right-brained creator–to be the other gender, to experience the situation as someone with different sexual organs, thought processes, agendas, perspectives, and motivations, someone devoid of your own gender’s stereotypes, prejudices, and preconceptions.

Let me know what happens. Bet it nudges your creativity in ways you never thought possible…

Strange To-Do List

I’ve been sufficiently whelmed since Tom died to bare blog. And yet, my to-do list is longer than it’s ever been, what with taking Ghostwriter Certification Training into Cal State Long Beach, creating new classes for aspiring authors, producing Ghostwriters Unite!  next May, writing new manuals and the 5th edition of This Business of Books, and a few gazillion other things.

Not to mention the baking.

Okay, here’s the deal. Before Tom died, I baked every November and December. I made congo bars, fudge, toffee squares, bourbon and rum balls, cinnamon sugar cookies, and, of course, peanut-butter and chocolate-chip cookies. Not to mention cakes for my birth daughter and acquired son, whose celebrations are all of two days apart.

Then I stopped. I couldn’t seem to mix flour with sugar and eggs from the vantage point of widowhood. I just could not go there.

And now, for no good discernible reason, I can. So if you drive by my place in the next several weeks, inhale with care as you pass, because the calories in these goodies waft out to the atmosphere on wings of their aromas. I wouldn’t want to be responsible for anyone gaining weight just because they sniffed around my yard!

Special–FINAL–GCT

GCT Certificate

Apparently, the universe is tapping me on the shoulder to hold one more private class before I take Ghostwriter Certification Training into CSULB.

This past week, as the department head and I worked out the particulars of expanding GCT into a 2-semester program at a cost approximately 4 times its current rate, I’ve received a number of calls asking about an immediate class. So….

I will teach one last 15-week class on Saturday mornings from 9 AM to Noon PDT starting Nov 3 and running through Feb 9 at the current low price of $1080 plus $130 books.

For a list of topics covered, go to http://wambtac.com/lci/gct/what-youll-learn/.

To read what grads say about the class, go to http://wambtac.com/lci/gct/gct-testimonials/.

To register—and I do mean NOW–go to http://wambtac.com/lci/gct/register/ or call
1-800-641-3639.

Due to scheduling concerns, I can only make this offer for an extremely limited time. If the class doesn’t fill immediately, it will be cancelled. Ergo, if you’re interested, please register now!

Ghostwriter or Collaborator?

I keep seeing the same question pop up on message boards and writers’ groups around the web in various forms:

Should I look for a ghostwriter or a collaborator?

Should I work with my clients as a ghostwriter or collaborator?

Is there really any difference between ghostwriting and collaborating?

Oh, my, yes.

Collaborators tend to be accomplished writers and authors. They know how to make nonfiction prose sparkle. They know how to infuse life into characters and drama into a storyline. They know how to make a book saleable.

What they don’t know is how to keep all that out of their clients’ books.

It’s all a matter of investment.

Think about it for a moment. When a writer puts their name on a piece of work, they automatically become invested in that work. It’s unavoidable: no writer willingly attaches their name to something they’re not proud of. To make sure they’re proud of the work, then, a collaborator or co-author must make sure the work meets their personal standards. It has to say what it “should” say the way it “should” be said—especially if the collaborator has worked or written in the given nonfiction field or published their own novel(s).

How then, can a collaborator not become emotionally, psychologically, and, in so many co-author situations, financially invested in the project?

Ah, but it’s the author’s book: the author’s story, the author’s nonfiction research, the author’s concept or political spin or inspirational memoir or biographical exposé. It’s the author’s time to shine, the author’s moment to stand in the spotlight. In many cases, it’s the author’s one and only chance for that fifteen minutes of fame Andy Warhol promised us all.

Authors want their book to be them. All them. They’re entitled, after all, to their own pride of authorship.

And collaborators, experienced or not, want their bylines and the piece of the action they feel they’ve rightfully earned.

Hmmm—do you sense a potential for conflict?

Comparatively, ghostwriting is clean, quarrel-free, and invisible. Regardless of their own personal style, previous knowledge , or perspective on the book, ghostwriters work only with the author’s material. They don’t slant research toward their own agenda. They don’t insist on the book going one way if the author wants it to go another. They remain professionally separate  even while providing the emotional/psychological support aspiring authors need.

Ghostwriters make sure the book says what the author wants it to say, in the author’s voice and style, with the author’s intent and perspective. They are professionals, not partners. They provide editorial services for a negotiated fee on an agreed deadline.

When they don’t put their name on a book, it’s because it isn’t their book.

Ghostwriters invest only their time and expertise in a project no matter how much they like (or dislike) it, not their digestive tracts, their emotional stability, or their financial well being. Ghostwriters accept that their authors are experts in their nonfiction fields just as they are experts in the book business.

They understand that authors want to write the novel that’s been running in the back of their head for years or decades, not a “better” one based on their concept, setting, characters, or circumstances.

But what about all those ghostwriters who do put their names on their clients’ books and do take a percentage of their authors’ advance and royalties?

I cannot speak for them. The thought of taking credit for someone else’s ideas, research, or story is anathema to me. My business is based on fulfilling other people’s literary dreams.

I’m a professional ghostwriter.

 

 

 

Ghostwriter Certification Training

Yup, school starts soon, and so does the Fall term of Ghostwriter Certification Training.

I designed GCT help freelancers like you (and me) expand or launch your book-ghosting career. Why take the class? To gain:

  • A dynamic ghostwriting skill set not available anywhere else
  • The confidence to charge what you deserve
  • The marketing tools to find the clients who can afford you

As one of our grads put it:

“I’ve found that ignorance is far more expensive than education. Far more. Wish I would have known about GCT a year ago – I could have saved myself so much time and made so much more money.”  – Derek Lewis

The Fall term starts August 27. It’s an experience you’ll never forget or regret.

Get details and registration at http://wambtac.com/lci/gct, or call me toll-free at 1-800-641-3936.

MS Word for Writers

We all know it’s true: the book business defaults to Chicago Manual of Style and Microsoft Word. Isn’t it time you learned how to manipulate and master this most powerful and confounding word-processing program?

By popular demand, I’m teaching Microsoft Word for Writers twice next month: on the 9th and on the 23rd. Two  hours of step-by-step live instruction on the phone and via a web interface that works much better than anything I’ve tried before–two different services, but together they’re wonderful. Easy login, easy call-in, easy learning process to make your manuscript formatting, coding, and decoding…easy.

  • Prepare your manuscript for hard copy submissions
  • Prepare your manuscript for POD or offset printers
  • Prepare your manuscript for ebook conversion

I’m having trouble getting the registration button to appear here, so please sign up on my other blog: http://claudiasuzanne.com/ms-word-4-writers/.

Looking forward to seeing you in class!

What’s Going On

G’ Morning! I made a vow to myself to blog at least once a week. Unless I’m touched by inspiration, that blog is going to be a recap of what’s going on.

Wambtac’s summer schedule is out with  something for everyone: Level II workshops for Ghostwriter Certification Training grads, a quickie peek into how ghosts do fiction for novelists, even a clue-in for high school and community college students on how to write better papers. Details and registration are available at http://wambtac.com/left-coast-institute/summer-courses-2012/ .

Also, have gotten some interesting feedback on my upcoming title release, Buh Bye, M.S.!  It’s the sweet, heartwarming story of how I went mano-a-mano with multiple sclerosis for 42 years until I  finally kicked its miserable, capricious, maggot-ridden butt out of my system for good.

We’re raising money for the initial print run, but you can order in advance (and help that fund-raising effort) by going to http://wambtac.com/wc-publishing/buh-bye-ms/ .

Strong language and irreverent descriptions. May be unsuitable for the fainthearted and politically correct. Spiritual guidance advised.

Finally, we’re getting ready to launch a new service: Book Plans. Every book needs its own strategy to get ready for market, get into the market, and get sold at market. Watch this space for news on this upcoming new, exciting, and effective individualized action plan.

Buh Bye, MS

Yes, you read that right. After 42 years, I got rid of multiple sclerosis. It’s gone, gone, gone. No long a resident in my corporeal mass. A thing of the past.

My cells are adjusting to life without its parasitic imprint. My bodily functions now operate according to Hoyle. My organs play nicely with all their fellow organs.

I have my hair back. I have my eyesight back. I have my sphincter control back. It’s all good.

“How did you do it?!” I hear you ask.

Funny you should ask. Being a writer, as we all are, I wrote a book about it. Not just how I did it, but how it attacked me, how I lived with it, and how I won, I won, na na na na na na, I won.

My daughter is raising funds for an initial print run.

Wanna help? Thanks; I knew you would. Go to http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1101249749/send-buh-bye-ms-to-the-printer and kick in a few bucks. She’ll appreciate it, I’ll appreciate it, and a few scads of people with MS who think there is no hope but to live on steroids for the rest of their lives will appreciate it.