About our authors
Karla Oceanak is the author of the Aldo Zelnick Comic Novel Series, which has been honored with a Top 10 Educational Products of 2011 Award, a Book of the Year award (Foreword Reviews), a Colorado Book Award, and a Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Regional Book Award, among others. She has worked as a writer and editor for more than twenty years and has ghostwritten dozens of books. Karla and her husband, Scott, live in Colorado with their three teenage boys in a house strewn with Legos, hockey gear, Pokemon cards, video games, books, and dirty socks. More at karlaoceanak.com
Jean Hanson is the author of The Five Thousand Friends of Veronica Veetch. Her essays and short stories have appeared in dozens of magazines including North American Review, Zoetrope, Creative Nonfiction, Indiana Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Nimrod, Puerto del Sol, and New Letters.
A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, received an artist fellowship from the Colorado Council on the Arts, the Literal Latte Prize in nonfiction, Hackney Prize in the short story, the Writers Repertory Award in fiction, and a Poets & Writers Writers Exchange award for emerging writers.
Tips for beginners
1. Write. A lot.
Many beginning writers get a story down on paper and think it's good to go. We wish this were true! But alas, learning to write well usually takes thousands of hours of practice and study. You wouldn't expect the first painting you ever made to be gallery-worthy, would you?
2. Join a writers' group.
All writers need feedback from critical readers (as opposed to our mothers, who tell us everything is wonderful).
3. Read. A lot.
Read widely, but also read deeply in the genre in which you want to write. Teach yourself to read as a writer reads—seeing the story's structure and craft techniques.
4. Know your genres
Writing books is a lot like, say, cooking. When it comes to recipes, we tend to group foods by category—breakfast, lunch, snack, entree, side dish, etc. The book industry is similar. Every genre has its own conventions—word count range, protagonist parameters, illustration conventions, etc. Your debut work probably won't be taken seriously if it doesn't at least nod at the rules. An early reader with looooong sentences? Probably not. A YA novel with a middle-aged main character? Not so much.
5. Master the basics
Here at Bailiwick, we get a lot of submissions from beginners who don't yet have a handle on the fundamentals of audience, point-of-view, voice, scene, showing versus telling, dialogue, etc. How to gain that mastery? Steps 1 through 3.