Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Z is for Zeroing in

Zeroing in on one issue at a time helps me through my editing.  I notice that I have a problem with tense so I read my whole manuscript looking for tense issues and then I read the whole thing to correct point of view issues, etc.  

I zeroed in on weakness, multi-tasking and found that my strength is I work best when I focus on one thing at a time.

Right now I am going to zero in on a glass of Zinfandel to celebrate finishing up the A to Z blog!

Congratulations to us all!  I hope to see you all throughout the year and doing this again next April.  This is my second one and it did get easier but it is still a lot of work and an accomplishment you should be proud of.

Happy Writing!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Y is for yWriter

When I first started writing I sat with a notebook and paper.  Then after having to transcribe my scribbles and try and fit things into the already full note page I began writing directly in Word.

I had 30,000 words of my novel in there and it was working great.  I used heading, titles and subtitles for chapters and scenes and named them with descriptions of the action taking place so I could find what I was looking for.  It was working out quite well.  I had a separate document for my locations and one for my characters and one for my timeline.  I would have to open all these documents every time I was working and toggle between them as necessary.

I was talking with another writer about my timeline issues and then mentioned I wish I could remember what scenes I felt were complete and which were still in an early draft or second draft or final edit status. That is when she explained to me that there is software for writing and I could purchase Scrivner, which was not that great in her opinion and as the only writer I knew I was taking her opinion as gold, or yWriter, which was her preference.

yWriter is free to download and it was written by an actual published author Simon Haynes, Hal Spacejock series.  Here is his website:  Simon is an author who happens to be a programmer so both sides of his mind work equally well. (I am a not so lucky or well balanced, I am very right brained.)

I downloaded the program and voila I now had a place to keep all my work for my novel(s).  I could easily click on the character tab and review their bios, click on the location tab and look at the descriptions and scenes in which that location is used.  But for me at the time the piece de resistance was that I could label the scene status as outline, draft, 1st and 2nd edit and done!  I could also put in the scenes point of view, upload photos, drag and drop scenes where I wanted them, insert scenes, and so much more I haven't even figured out yet.

I thought I was doing fine with Word until I realized how much better I could be with yWriter.  I went back and paid for the software- he does allow you to make a donation and I thought it was definitely worth what I would have paid for another software.

I go to cnet for any advice about computers or phones so here is their review for yWriter.

 I am very happy with the organization I have with the program.  I have six projects in it and can flip between them and no glitches so far.   I make sure that I download my entire project, very easy to do each night to the cloud or a thumb drive just to be safe.

If you are in need of a great way to keep your writing organized and to help you spend less time trying to keep together all the bits and pieces of your novel (character bios, inspirational photos, location details, notes for scenes, etc.) so you can spend more time actually writing then this software is your answer.  I hope you find it as helpful as I have.

Thank you Simon Haynes.

Happy writing!

Monday, April 28, 2014

X is for X-factor

The X-factor is that something that makes you special and different.  This (X) is the reason that an agent or publisher should sign you, why a consumer should buy your book.  Your uniqueness.

This X-factor is also something you need to discuss in your query letter.  But what is it?

To figure out what makes you special you have to be well read in your genre and find what makes your work and what makes you different from the rest and what makes you sale-able?

Make a list of your best qualities focusing on what makes your writing different and then one for what makes you different; both aspects are important because you are a packaged deal.  Make a list of all your best qualities that you think would appeal to an editor, agent or publisher and then use these attributes to your advantage when you market yourself and your work in your query letter.

If you have a hard time coming up with items ask your friends and your writing group what they think your best qualities are or for some adjectives they would use to describe you.  They may come up with items you would not.

Good luck and happy writing!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

W is for Writing Groups

When I started writing I was under the impression that it was a lonely business, you know a la Earnest Hemingway, Salinger, Harper Lee, Dickinson, I was happily surprised when I realized that you cannot become a writer without a great writing group or groups supporting you.  I have joined two writing associations and two writing groups and have learned so much from each of them.

One of the writing groups I belong to is a children's writing group- I don't write children's books but the woman who runs the group runs wonderfully informative and helpful training sessions.

I met another writer on G+ who recommended that I join the Romance Writers group because where he lives that is the group that has the best meetings and he has great praise for his local branch.

Don't limit yourself to writing groups that are only the genre you write, it is great to work with authors in your genre but if there is another group in your area that is not your genre don't rule them out just because of that.

Take the time to thank your writing partners and be an active participant in your local writing associations.

Happy writing!

Friday, April 25, 2014

V is for Voice

When I started writing I had visions of what my voice would be like; something like the examples below.

“I have dreamt in my life, dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas; they have gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the color of my mind. And this is one: I'm going to tell it - but take care not to smile at any part of it.” 
― Emily BrontëWuthering Heights

 Everything about her was at once vigorous and exquisite, at once strong and fine. He had a confused sense that she must have cost a great deal to make, that a great many dull and ugly people must, in some mysterious way, have been sacrificed to produce her. He was aware that the qualities distinguishing her from the herd of her sex were chiefly external: as though a fine glaze of beauty and fastidiousness had been applied to vulgar clay. Yet the analogy left him unsatisfied, for a coarse texture will not take a high finish; and was it not possible that the material was fine, but that circumstance had fashioned it into a futile shape? - Edith Wharton, House of Mirth

Sadly, that is not my voice.  My voice is short sentences, plain, simple English with very little flowery prose.  Not what I wanted my voice to be so I tried to write emulating the great writers that I admired.  Forcing my voice to be what it was not made writing a chore and my work hard to read.

I learned to embrace my voice, which has been compared to that of Nicholas Sparks, and am much better off for it.    

I hope you have all found and embraced your voice.

Happy writing!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

U is for Underestimated

It turns out I am the queen of underestimating how long a task will take.  Even if I believe that I can get something accomplished in an hour or a day I will pad it a bit and then somehow I still don't meet the deadline.

If you've been following along you know I am behind on my manuscript because I promised it and forgot that we had a month of blogging.  Then I entered a pitch contest with my other manuscript and then I was tasked with reading like authors and have been trying to do that as well.  Grossly underestimating how long all these tasks would take.

I ran into my poor judgement of time today when I sat down and set out what I was going to accomplish for the day.  There were six items on my list that seemed completely doable.  Until a completely unexpected person showed up and I had to work on helping him.  Then one item, that I thought would be easy, sucked up a ton of time today and with no real results.  The day went on like that and sadly I did not remove any items from my list.  So tomorrow I will be a day behind and will have another six or more items to add to my list.

So as I type this my husband just threw in the curve ball. I have to stay home for him tomorrow morning to help our neighbors, since he promised he would but had the wrong week so now I have to be late to work.  This is why I end up working nights and weekends to meet deadlines.

I hope you too are not afflicted with my horrible misjudgment of time.

I do know that we are near the end, only 5 days left.  Good luck to us all.

Happy writing!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

T is for THINK

Think before you speak.  We have all heard that phrase but I want to share a clever twist on it with you.

T- True
H - Helpful or encouraging
I - Inspiring
N - Necessary
K - Kind

Believe me there are lots of times I have to bite my tongue to give myself time to put this THINK before I speak into action but it is worth it.  I especially find N tough but have found that holding back my opinions that do not matter have made a big difference in being helpful and not hurtful with my responses.  I may not like your choice or your shoes or whatever but unless my telling you is going to save your life, stop you from losing your job or money, hurting someone else, etc., then my telling that person is only going to hurt them so unless my feedback is Necessary I will keep it to myself.

I hope you find this breakdown of the word think into a meaningful acronym as helpful as I do.

Since there is a good chance that my visitors may not visit on the final day, which is fast approaching, I thought I would take this time to say "Thank you" to everyone who has visited and all my followers.   I appreciate everyone who has taken the time to comment and to follow my blog.  Thanks!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

S is for Set-backs

Sadly, I am behind my self imposed deadline of getting my manuscript completed and off to the person who offered to review it.

Being in a car accident and losing time to that has been a set-back, family commitments and even being in a pitch contest and in the A to Z blog, while positives I am happy about, have been set-backs to working on my manuscript.

One of my set backs was me.  I didn't realize it but I started editing two different drafts of my manuscript and did a couple of chapters more than once, while they seemed familiar I have read my own manuscript many times.  This problem is due to not having a dedicated work space and moving myself from room to room.  I had one copy of my manuscript in one room and another in the other room and thought they were the same copy.  Oops.

For all the set backs we encounter.  There is always the opportunity to overcome.  As I make inroads and pass mile markers I love the feeling of accomplishment.  I know what my final goal is but I set small ones along the way so as I fall behind I can still make accomplishments and the overall goal does not seem insurmountable.

Yes I am behind; but I only have a couple of chapters left to go and I have managed to keep up with my A to Z blogging, I entered and was accepted into a pitch contest and have been trying like mad to read like authors and I have a few books under my belt now since this started.  Overall I have accomplished a lot but I certainly can't wait to have fewer things on my plate.

Set backs happen but they can only derail you from your goal if you allow it.  Keep going.  The fun is in the journey.

Happy writing!

Monday, April 21, 2014

R is for Rest

  I have so many pressing responsibilities but study after study has shown that if we do not get the proper amount of sleep our brain and body suffers.  Lack of sleep can lead to weight gain, stress, simple mistakes, and trouble focusing, to name a few.

I know when I am on a role and my characters are making choices that have to be documented I will lose sleep to get the story written.  When I do this, I notice that I suffer throughout the week for the hours that I stayed up.  You really can't catch up on your sleep.

Rest is not just sleep but taking time for yourself when you need it.  Listen to your body and mind.  If you cannot write another word- don't.  Take a break, go for a walk, meditate, read, then come back when you are ready.

Sometimes you just need to take a rest from that particular story.  Work on your blog, work on another story and then come back to the current one when you are ready.  I find that pushing myself to keep working on one story when another one is calling me or when I have hit a road block with the one I am on is detrimental to putting out my best work.

As we continue to work tirelessly through the alphabet haven't you noticed how much you look forward to the rest day?  I know I do and that our my minds and bodies telling us how important a break is for our creativity and well being.

Happy writing!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Q is for Question

Looking  for the Like a Virgin Blog Hop please scroll down to the post below this one.  Thanks.

Q was going to be for query but since I changed P to pitch, which is a key part of your query I thought I would go with a less repetitive post.  So Q is for Question.

A lot of books that I like, including the one I am currently unable to put down, Tom Perrotta's The Leftovers started with a 'what if' question.  What if.. half the people on the planet just vanished, what if super heroes had to go into hiding?  Let your mind wander and embrace these wacky trains of thought you never know where they might lead you.

I was asked by a fellow author if I had questioned if my story would work better in the first person point of view, instead of the third person.  I thought she was nuts to suggest changing how it was written, especially when I was already 50k words into it, but taking her advice seriously and running the exercise proved to be an incredible help to my story.  Sometimes we are so close to what we are doing we don't question the basics and these things we take for granted may be exactly what we need to change to let your work soar.

Ask your beta readers and writers specific questions.  Don't just ask what do you think?  You know where your concerns are and unless you ask very specific questions you won't get the answers you need.  Is the pacing okay?  Are the main characters names too similar or hard to pronounce?
What do you think motivated my main character to leave her true love?  You get the point.

Happy Writing!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Getting to Know You Blog Hop- Like a Virgin Pitch Contest

Welcome to my list of firsts. 

It was an interesting list of items.  I hope you enjoy your stroll through my memory lane.

Q  How do I remember my first kiss?

A  My very first kiss was not the one you are envisioning, it was in third grade, behind a tree with lots of nosy classmates peering on, with a boy named Timmy.  Timmy was not gross, but he was not the person I wanted to kiss, that was Doug, who loved to eat Crayola crayons, especially the grey ones.  It was a quick chaste affair with Timmy quickly wiping his lips on his sleeve and me blushing profusely and running away.  (As an adult it seems I have who was gross confused doesn't it?)

My real first kiss, the one where I anticipated and hoped and fretted, was awkward and sweet followed by sweaty hand holding in the movie theatre and an astounding sense of relief that our braces hadn't stuck together.

Q What was my first favorite love song?

A My first favorite love song was 'Your Song' by Elton John, now Sir Elton John.   The imagery in the song and the desires we all have to be our best and express ourselves the best we can made it a favorite.  I had it on my Walkman for all the family trips in the station wagon.

What is the first thing I do when I begin writing for the day?
A  Sadly, I don't get to begin writing until the day is practically over.  I have a lovely bill paying full-time job, have to feed the family, assist with homework, clean the kitchen and then put the kids to bed.  I then grab my laptop and begin work.  Nothing fancy, no music, just a nice quiet spot and my laptop.

Q Who was the first writer who truly inspired you to become a writer?
  The Neverending Story
A This is the biggie for all of us and I really cannot point to one person.  I read the scene in Harriet the Spy, by Louise Fitzhugh, where Harriet was trying to be an onion for the school play and identified so intensely with Harriet and could picture it so perfectly (I was actually upset the book had drawings of it because it was so clear in my mind.) that it is still ingrained in my mind today, many, many, years later. That is a testament to the connection I felt.  She was the first female lead character that I could relate to.  All writers have a special relationship with notebooks just as Harriet did, right?

As soon as I finished 'Harriet the Spy' my best friend Jenny returned home from visiting family in Germany and brought with her a hardback book in a very plain red woven cover.  The plain cover masked the amazing, incredible work within.  I had never before seen a book printed in colored ink.  I had never before seen such intricate designs for the first letter of the chapter, but wait there was text in another color!  The book was written in green and red ink and each chapter started with the letters of the alphabet in order with a beautifully drawn picture that gave you a clue to the wonders that the chapter held.  I have not seen this book, 'The Never Ending Story', by Michale Ende, since 1980 but I can recall it as vividly as if I was holding it now.  It was also a wonderful journey with imagination and a made up land, which was the first I had encountered. The sheer imagination and care that went into making the book was elevated far above anything I had ever seen.  Aside from the Griffin and Sabine books one I have not seen again.  [Footnote- I feel compelled to say do not judge the book by the horrid movie they made of it.  The book was, as almost always so much better.]

Q Did the final revision of my first book have the same first chapter it started with?

A No, the current revision of my first manuscript has a different chapter than I started with and with further editing that may change again.

Q For my first book, which came first: major characters, plot or setting?

A Plot came first.
Q What's the first word I want to roll off the tip of someone's tongue when they think of my writing?

A Engaging.

Thanks for visiting.
Happy writing!

P is for Pitch

Welcome to the letter P.  I was originally going to talk about Platform today but I had some very welcome news that my pitch for my New Adult genre novel, working title Kate's Quest, was included in the Like a Virgin Pitch Contest.  Which is what the blog post just above this one is for, they are doing a blog hop for the contestants.

Since I have pitches on my mind and we all know how important they are I thought I would post the pitch I have been working on for the manuscript, Finding Life, we have been discussing throughout this A to Z blog journey.

I truly want any feedback you can give and it does not have to be positive if it is not warranted.  I have thick skin and value honest feedback.  
For three years widow Lilly Steadman has focused solely on her two children.  Her husband may have died that day but it was Lilly who lost her life.
Rock star,Taylor Radcliffe will do anything to be famous again, even if that means being clean and sober.  Dating Lilly was a lark until she became his muse; who unfortunately came with unwanted, tiresome baggage.  Whenever she abandons him for her responsibilities he gets into trouble.  He convinces Lilly to move her family to London so he can continue his rise to fame.
Lilly connects with her children, discovers life and who Taylor really is in London.  Family man and Taylor’s best mate, Nick Schuster becomes her only friend and confidant.  Lilly tries to keep Neil out of their problems but with no one else to turn to he becomes enmeshed in Lilly’s struggles, if only for selfish reasons of his own.

Thank you for any help you can offer.  I look forward to your comments.

Happy writing!

O is for Opportunity

Everyone knows the saying about opportunity only knocking once, so why do so many people leave it on their doorstep?

I must have a knack for it but somehow I have picked four blogs from the A to Z list in a row to visit and found that they had signed up and were not participating. The last entry on one blog was from 2013.  This is an opportunity that is being squandered.  I visited as I am sure many others have and instead of gaining followers they are creating a really bad first impression.

I happened across a pitch contest one night and the deadline to enter was at 6 AM the next morning.  I was excited that I had found the contest, yes I would have liked more time but I hadn't missed it altogether.  I worked on a pitch for hours and submitted it.  I found out that I am one of the fifty pitches that will be reviewed by professionals authors and agents.  Yeah!  There is a blog hop which will introduce me to more authors and agents.  Even if I don't win I have already gained the opportunity to meet more writers and agents and if my pitch is good maybe even more opportunities will come out of the contest.  I am much better off than if I had said, "Too bad I didn't see this sooner; maybe next year."

Sadly this is the attitude I see so many people take.  I can't tell you how many times I have approached people with opportunities and they have said things like, "I'm not ready now, that sounds amazing but..., I'll look into this."  I had an offer of a free twenty minute session with the Book Doctors and extended it to my writing group and not one of them took me up on it.  Twenty minutes to discuss anything you want about publishing, your pitch, agents, platform, etc. with two industry professionals and they left that opportunity sitting on the doorstep!

Life is happening now.  Seize the opportunities.  The universe was nice enough to present you with a gift but you are taking it and throwing it, unopened into the garbage.

That's just my two cents, you can of course choose to ignore it; but then you will be no better off than you are now.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

N is for Novice Novelist

That is me, a novice novelist, a newbie.  Like any other new undertaking I started with loads of enthusiasm and research.  However with this undertaking, unlike any other, everyone I have come into contact with was helpful.  Not reluctantly helpful but happily helpful.

I have learned so much thanks to the assistance of others and I know I will be relying on the assistance of others as I try to decide my path forward with my maiden manuscript.  Agent or no, traditional publishing, indie or self?

I think this processes is going so slowly for me not only because I am new to it but because it is my first novel.  My first baby that I am putting out into the world and you can only be a first time author once.  For that reason I want to make the best decisions possible and am weighing all options for my introduction to the world as an author.

I would love to hear what other authors have learned along the way, any advice that they wish they had know before they published their book.

Thanks for the support.

Happy Writing.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

M is for Manuscript

 If you started following my blog after theme reveal day in March you are unaware that my theme was tossed out the window by some wonderful news (which caused me great elation, which I quickly tempered with realism) that there is a person, a professional in the writing world, who is willing to review my manuscript and if he judged it worthy, he would pass it on to an agent, who would only look at me thanks to his say so; so after that extremely long sentence, if you are still with me... I felt it was time for a manuscript update.

I set, what I thought to be a completely realistic goal of, a month to get back to him, however I forgot that I was compelled to complete a blog a day so a month really is not realistic in April, any other month yes.  I could not drop my second A-Z because I really need to have a platform for when the agent sees my manuscript and wants to check me out.  Of course you know the more followers I have the better it will look to the agent so I am hoping and praying for an A to Z miracle and adding at least 100 new followers in this month, slow going so far I must confess but there is still time. (Hint, hint, nudge nudge, wink wink ;) Just click on the little follow link to the right please.)

I have also been reading other novels like crazy.  My pitch for my manuscript was compared to works by Nick Hornby so I have been reading two of his books and one by Tom Perrotta (a fellow New Englander) as he came up as similar to Nick Hornby. [You can visit my previous post about comparison authors for more information.]   I have to stop and say I am in love with the concept behind 'The Leftovers' by Perrotta and while I have only made it 80 pages in I would recommend picking up a copy.

So with all these tasks demanding to be completed simultaneously I am only half way through the re-read and edit of my manuscript.  I have tense issues, a lot of tense issues.  I am working them out but every time I start reading my work I think it is not that great. Other writers are much better wordsmiths, they show don't tell, I am at a third grade level while they have achieved, what, if I remember my Aristotle correctly, would be called a wholeness or the thinghood of their writing.  It is the true form that we are striving towards, the central core of the item that brings it to be recognized for what it is, literature.

Then I pick up one of the 10 books I bought or borrowed from the library as comparison books and realize I am not a third grader I am writing the way I expect my characters would speak.  I am writing a book that is comprised of my writing style, shorter sentences (wouldn't guess it from this post would you!), dialogue and the human experience, for my main character in this manuscript that contains some second guessing and self-doubt.  My work is comparable to the work I am seeing here in published books.  So I am pushing on and hope and pray that I will achieve my goal and finish this manuscript by week end (notice the wiggle room I left there, could be Friday could be Sunday).

Happy Writing!

Monday, April 14, 2014

L is for Libraries

Welcome to National Library Week!

When I was young I needed a library to complete any of my school work.  Without the resources of my local library I could not have found the information needed to complete any reports or research projects.

Now the internet replaces research trips to the library for most of the school work we are doing.  We do still need to go to the library for some book reports but we mostly go for fun.  Our library is very family friendly and has a wonderful selection of books.  We each leave with at least five books when we go, we also rent music and movies from the library as well.  Our library also has copies of all the major newspapers and magazines.  We can also rent e-books and audio books electronically.

Our local library also supplies wonderful study rooms, hosts craft projects, teen groups and informative lecture and music series.

We are not only patrons of the library but supporters through donations of gently used books, purchasing used books at their monthly sales and of course donations of our time and money.

For many people a library is the only place they have to get school work done, to find books, to have a safe warm place to spend their time.

Visit and support your local library.  Instill a love of the library in your children.  The library gives so much to so many.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

K is for Keeping in Touch

Keeping in touch with your audience, followers and other authors is:

  • essential
  • fun
  • wonderful
  • helpful
  • interesting
  • educational
I love the people I have come to know electronically and the people I have met in person through my writing.  I have learned so much and been aided in my quest by the wonderful people who take the time to visit and comment.  I hope that I have given back more than I have received.  

I recognize that we are all pressed for time and it is hard to keep up on all the social media and to respond to every post and comment but it is time well spent.  I have set aside time during lunch to catch up and visit with my wonderful social connections and my writing group. 

What works for you?  

Thanks for visiting and enjoy your weekend.  I am most likely doing something that involves baseball with my son.

Friday, April 11, 2014

J is for Journey

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” 

Before I left for college my mother gave me a poem, which I sadly I have not been able to find again, about life being a journey not the final destination.

I had spent the four years of high school working towards the goal of getting into college.  Now I was prepared to spend four years so I could be an adult.  I was so focused on the goal of college I missed out on the here and now and my astute mother was afraid I would do the same thing for the next four years.  Instead of a lecture she gave me a wonderful poem about the train ride and enjoying all the stops along the way.  This poem was on my desk for all of college and was a wonderful reminder of my mother's love and to enjoy the moment.

The journey of writing has been so much fun, and as Hemingway said, I have a destination in mind but I am really enjoying the trip.

I hope everyone takes a moment to reflect on this and make sure they are enjoying the trip and not too focused on an end result to miss the fun of getting there.

Thanks for spending a few moments here, I hope you enjoyed them.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

I is for Ideas

I have very little time that is my own to do with as I wish.  Most of it seems to be in the car.  Yet even there I find the voice in my head telling me to listen to the news and see what happened today when I know the last thing I really want to hear is more information that I will find upsetting.

I have found that taking a slightly longer route home, one with less traffic and only a single lane so my brain isn't busy telling me to switch lanes because that one is moving ever so slightly faster, in complete silence has been the best gift I can give myself.

It is amazing to me how little time we have without noises vying for our attention.

I discovered the silence by accident.  This route travels the edge of the continent and has very bad radio reception.  I had just left a noisy house and when the static started I shut the radio off, something I don't think I had ever done in this car.

I enjoyed the scenery more and then my brain started telling me marvelous stories.  It unraveled mysteries of my life and opened the door for my creativity.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to take time for yourself to do something you love.  It is also important to take moments to unplug and listen to your brain and your body.  Try it, you'll see.

This event, driving home in silence was the first time in almost twenty years that I had thought about being creative.  I was amazed at the ideas that presented themselves.

I also find ideas in songs, photos, artworks and nature.

Where do you find your ideas and inspiration?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

H is for Help

Help is not something I usually ask for.  I hate to be an imposition on anyone if there is any possible way I can handle the situation myself I will.  But with writing I can't do it myself.  The writing process is a collaborative effort.

You can reach out to your writing group, fellow bloggers, other online groups and communities you belong to and you will find all the help you need.

Please be sure to give back as much if not more than you get.  You will find many opportunities to give back.

Happy helping!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

G is for Generating Interest

 This is a tough one for me.  I seem to be completely flummoxed by the many and varied ways I should be marketing myself online to generate interest for myself and my book.

 If I spent the time I would need to to learn about the best blogs, best twitter people to follow and the best way to get my electronic presence I would not have any time to write.  Anyway, Twitter baffles me, I just really don't see the point.

I know having a great pitch is integral to getting interest in your story but once you have a finished story and an amazing pitch, well then what?

You can create an author page on Good Reads, you can have a blog, a twitter account, do a blog tour, give out review copies, have a give away contest, put part of your story on Wattpad and a link for interested readers to purchase your book.

But how do you get people to follow your blog, twitter account, visit your author page, find your give away contest or your story on Wattpad?

I would love to hear your advice.  What has worked for you in the past?  What didn't work?

Monday, April 7, 2014

F is for Finding Life

'Finding Life' is the working title of my book.  I say working because if I go with a publisher that could change and there is one other book out there with this title.

I love this title because I think it fits the story perfectly and because it is what happened to me when I discovered writing.

I had given up so much of myself for my children, especially my creative endeavors.  I could not work on stained glass while I was pregnant, then I couldn't have trays with shards of glass around with a toddler nor could I have paints or an easel.  I also had to give up scuba diving when I was pregnant and constantly trying to get pregnant.  It is something we still haven't had added back to our life because it is a full day away and the cost of diving and the sitter are exorbitant.  Plus we would have to travel for the really good diving and that is out of our budget, thanks to kids sports and day care costs.  

It took me a while to notice that I no longer had creative endeavors.  The artistic photos I used to take had been replaced by photos, many photos, of my children doing everything.  All of my stained glass equipment had long since been forgotten and even if I dragged it out I didn't have time to sit around and work on it or any place safe to leave out projects in progress.  While sitting at one of my son's many long and boring practices I started writing.  The words poured out of me and when I was home and had time to think about my day I realized it was the first time in a long while that I felt fulfilled.  I was not tired and worn out I was anxious to get back to my notebook.

Writing itself has helped me get back my creative energy and fulfilled my life but then when I joined the community of writers I have met and made friends with the most amazing people.  Something none of my other creative endeavors had ever done to this extent.  The writing community is wonderful.

Even if I never progressed forward and published anything I am so fulfilled and happy with the time I spend writing and the people that I have met that is all the reward I need.

Thanks to everyone who has joined and helped me on this journey.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

E is for Editing

Editing is necessary but not a favorite activity for most authors.  Even though we all know how important it is to have a well edited, professional manuscript to present to agents, publishers or to self-publish.

I know the more I edit my own work the less I find wrong and the less objective I am.  It is hard to step away from your work and see it with fresh eyes and notice where there are holes in the story, especially since it is a story you created.

Taking a break from the story and working on something else or nothing at all is helpful.  I also find reading aloud allows me to pick up mistakes I did not catch upon reading.

There are editors available for hire and until recently I did not know that there were different types of editors.

I always thought of editing as line editing or copy editing.  This editing is when you look for spelling, grammar, punctuation, and syntax.  You are also editing for a consistent style, voice and format; overall clarity for the reader and cross checking facts and references.

There are also developmental editors who can help with your whole concept and research and re-writing.
Unless you do not have a complete concept or need a lot of hand holding this is probably not an editing service many people will be using.

If you feel you need a little more help with your editing than a line edit the substantive editing or content editing may be what you need.  This form of editing will identify and solve problems, help with overall clarity and accuracy.  This editor can help with reorganizing paragraphs, sections of chapters and improving the order in which the story is presented.  They will work to make sure your story has the best flow and readability.

There last editor that you would use before publication will be a proof reading editor.  This persons job is to check the final copy for typesetting, specifications, formatting and typographical errors.

I am on my third edit.  During the first one I found all the point of view (pov) changes that I made willy-nilly, on the second edit I found most of the tense mistakes I made, it appears I like them twice as much as pov changes.

During this edit I am working to make the dialogue more individual and true to the character and catching all the rest of the tense changes.  Of course, since I am about to submit my baby to editors and agents I am looking at it with a lot more criticism and self-doubt so I am trying to make the writing better, more intelligent, more showing less telling, all the stuff I wish had just magically happened on the first draft.

Please wish me luck with this final pass, because as I mentioned before I am getting weary of reading my own words.  I may be missing out on some objectivity and desire.

Happy editing.

Friday, April 4, 2014

D is for Defining your Audience

Defining your audience is key to helping you sell your book.  It is also key to editing your book and choosing your beta readers.

My husband is a voracious reader but he has never read a romance story or a book about a female's take on mid-life crisis or a book about family relationships.  He is not my audience and is not going to be a good beta reader for me.

Women over forty who enjoy reading romance or contemporary fiction are my audience and they have made the best beta readers.  I do have a wonderful male writer in one of my groups who read the chapter where my lead characters meet and all five of the women loved it exactly as it was but he thought it needed more sex and that the description of the woman should talk more about her breasts.  "NO!"  was the resounding response from the women in the group and they are my audience so their opinions are the ones that count.

Knowing my audience also helps to define my comparison authors and books.  It helps me know where to advertise my book as well.

Defining your audience is one of the first things you have to do when you have completed the first draft of your story.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

C is for Comparison

I know when I began writing I believed my work to be wholly and completely unique and my own. Why would I want to find other authors to whom I am similar?  Why would I want my book to be like someone else's story?

As I learn about publishing and what it will take to get my baby out into the world I discovered that it is actually important to know which authors and which books are similar to you and your story.  It is also very important to know how your story is different from these comparison authors and books.

When you are pitching your story to an agent, a publisher or a potential buyer you have to be able to tell them your story is like an author or book that they already know and love and then how your book is different so they know they have not already read your story and now they know why they want to read your book.

Take a moment to read the reviews of books, the book synopsis, the blurbs, and you will see many of them contain comparisons to other popular books or authors.

If you are an unknown author knowing your comparison author or story are very important to selling your book to the right audience and helping your audience find you.

Go to your local bookstore and ask the staff what books they have that are similar to yours.  Purchase them and start reading.   When you find the one that you think is the best comparison you can go back to the bookstore or go to Amazon and see the recommendations that pop up for people who bought that story. Then read those books.  Now you have your arsenal full and can talk with agents and publishers intelligently about how your book compares and is different to these other wonderful published books.

Happy reading.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

B is for Bookstores

Bookstores are harder and harder to find and that is a sad event I am calling you all to rally against by visiting your local bookstore.

Your local bookstore is a great resource for you as an author.  It is also a great place to go as a parent with your children.  We make sure we go to the bookstore with our kids to encourage them to read and the employees who work at our local bookstore are very knowledgeable and helpful finding books that are perfect for our kids.  They also help me as an author find books that are comparable to the book I am writing, are similar to the book I am thinking about writing, are the book I should read in the genre in which I am writing.  Their help is invaluable.  I have asked my writing group and my librarians which books and authors seem similar to mine and my writing style and the best advice I have gotten was from the employees at the bookstore.

Please take the time to visit and buy books at your local bookstore.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A is for Authors, Wonderful Amazing Authors

Authors have always made my life wonderful.  The first books I read changed my life and started me on a path of wonder, escape, creativity, learning, enchantment, sharing, questioning and growing.

I never thought I would would be an author and that I would know so many.  My journey to become a published author has brought me in contact with some of the most amazing people I have ever met.  Writers as a community are wonderfully inclusive and helpful.  I love being able to call myself a part of this wonderful community.

I hope that everyone who stops by and joins me on this journey to finish editing my manuscript and get it out into the world while tripping through the alphabet in April will enjoy the journey and will find information to help them get their manuscript out into the world as well so that we may all enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Happy writing!
Kathryn Thornton