Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Links of Interest

WORDPRESS BLOGS ARE BEING HACKED.  UPDATE YOUR SOFTWARE:


MORE ON HOW TO SECURE YOUR WORDPRESS BLOG FROM A HACK:


CLEANING UP CLUTTERED WRITING:


CREATING MULTI-AUTHOR BOX SETS:


WHAT A ROMANCE SHOULD HAVE TO SUCCEED:


LEARNING FROM OTHER AUTHORS’ WORKS:


HOW TO START YOUR OWN PUBLISHING COMPANY:


THE BEST LINK LIST SITES FOR SELF-PUBS:


TYPES OF BOOK PRINTING SERVICES AND THEIR DIFFERENCES:


WHAT BETA READERS HAVE TO OFFER:


LIST O’ LINKS:


IMAGES FOR SOCIAL MEDIA:


GRAMMAR, WHAT TO DO WITH VARIOUS TYPES OF TITLES:


STRENGTHENING YOUR THEME:


CAPITALIZING AND PUNCTUATING QUOTATIONS, A REFRESHER:


WRITING DRAMATIC DIALOGUE:


HOW TO SPOT TROUBLE IN A SCENE AND HOW TO FIX IT:


WILL 3-D FINGERPRINTS UNLOCK A PHONE?


HOW TO SPLIT YOUR STORY INTO A SERIES:


LIST O’ LINKS ON WRITING ROMANTIC SCENES:


THE TRIANGLE OF ROMANTIC SUSPENSE:



Monday, February 13, 2017

Starting the First Novel

QUESTION:  I have an idea for my story, the characters, and most of the plot, but I’m afraid to start, and I really want to.  What’s my problem?

Thirty-five odd years ago, I finally decided it was time to begin writing that novel I'd always wanted to write.  I started out with more advantages than the average writer.  I'd taken writing courses in college, I'd written poetry and short stories for years, and I'd been an English major.

Those first hundred pages were nearly impossible for me. I felt like I was writing it in my own blood.  Everything I'd ever learned about writing seemed to have vanished from my brain, and I struggled just to get words down on the page to tell the story I wanted to tell. I had absolutely no confidence in myself as a writer.  

Then about six months into writing and a fourth of a way through the novel, something clicked inside me, and I realized I could do  this.  My confidence came back, and the story began to pour out of me onto the page.  I finished the novel in under six weeks.  

Yes, the novel had major problems, my craft stunk, and the novel wasn't remotely publishable, but I'd finished it. I began to rewrite it using what I'd learned as I wrote. The novel has never been published, but few first novels are or should be published.  They are practice rounds.  

Without the Internet and all those online classes and experts as well as critique partners that we have now, I had to struggle to figure out my craft on my own, and my first sold book was my seventh.  

The point is that most writers struggle with the writing. It takes work and courage to put words on the page.  It takes even more work to make your craft competent. But you have to start somewhere.  

Write the story and don't worry if it's not good enough. Rewriting can take care of the flaws.  Teaching courses and good critique partners can hone your craft.

If you have to write and have to tell the characters' stories, then the work is more than worth it.

Here's a favorite quote from Nora Roberts who has written a zillion books, all of whom hit the bestseller lists.

"I'm just starting [a new book] and the battle has already begun.  I don't think they ever go smoothly. It's work. It should be work.  It should be hard work. I think if you sort of sit around and wait to be inspired, you're probably going to be sitting there a long time. My process is more about crafting, working an idea through my head to see if it's a good concept." Nora Roberts in an interview with the "Hagerstown Herald-Mail."



Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Links of Interest

FILLING PLOT HOLES:


YOUR CAREER MASTER PLAN, PART 2:


FIVE THINGS I LEARNED WHEN I SWITCHED GENRES:


TOOLS & RESOURCES FOR YOUR BLOG AND AUTHOR WEBSITE:


CREATING REALISTIC FIGHT SCENES, PART 3:


TAILORING YOUR DISTINCTIVE VOICE:


USING MULTIPLE ANTAGONISTS:


SIX WAYS TO CLEAN UP YOUR MANUSCRIPT:


USING TRADEMARKED NAMES IN YOUR WRITING:


PROMO, THE PERFECT AUTHOR PHOTO:


WRITING STREET FIGHTING:


SOCIAL MEDIA AND BLOG TIME SAVERS:


A TRICK TO CREATE A STRONGER FIRST PERSON:


KNOWING YOUR CHARACTERS BETTER:


WHEN YOUR CHARACTER WORKS DISASTER RELIEF OR IS IN A DISASTER:


A NEW COLUMN FOR WRITERS ABOUT HORSES:


FORESHADOWING THAT LEADS NOWHERE:


WRITING REALISTIC SETTINGS:


USING FUN FACTS TO DRESS UP YOUR AUTHOR MEDIA KIT:


RUNNING YOUR WRITING AS A PROFESSION:


WRITING A NON-LINEAR NARRATIVE:



Monday, February 6, 2017

The Big Picture

QUESTION:  What’s a good way to describe events going on that no one is aware of? Do I do a prologue explaining it? It is important the reader understands the context of the story I'm telling.

One narrative choice is to have a prologue that's strictly overview, kind of like the scrolling words in the first STAR WARS movie. This may work in a sprawling epic fantasy or an historical novel, but it's so old-fashioned that most modern readers won't get past it to get to the real story. For any story that isn't an epic, it absolutely won't work.

You also have the talking heads method where characters who know the overview have a chat about the subject.  Again, this is old-fashioned and boring to the modern reader.

The real question is whether the reader needs this "big picture" information, or do you need it to get the big picture straight in your head?  Most often, in the case of an inexperienced writer, it’s for you, not the reader.

Readers are smart, and they are interested in what is happening with the viewpoint character--what is his goal, who is thwarting that goal, what are his emotional reasons for doing what he is doing, etc.  The big picture isn't so important at the beginning.

Instead, you broaden the knowledge of the main character as he goes along so that he knows why doing what he needs to do is as important to the bigger picture as it is for his own personal story.  Or, even better, have him discover that what he wants works against the big picture so he must choose to do the right thing or the selfish thing.  


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Links of Interest

WHY DISCOUNTING BOX SETS INCREASES SALES:


PROMOTING BOOKS THROUGH ADS OR SOCIAL MEDIA, AN EXPERIMENT:


GETTING YOUR BOOKS INTO LIBRARIES:


SEVEN ESSENTIALS FOR A BOOK LAUNCH:


WORLDBUILDING FROM THE GROUND UP:


SITES TO PROMOTE FREE KINDLE BOOKS:


FINDING THE RIGHT BOOK DESIGNER:


DRM RIGHTS AND SELF-PUBBED WORKS:


PROMO, AUTHOR PRESS KITS:


REALISTIC FIGHT SCENES, PART 2:


HOW TO WRITE A TEEN VOICE:


TRACKING BOOK DISTRIBUTORS:


ROMANCE SUBGENRES:


WRITING DUEL NARRATIVES:


FINISHING ONE BOOK WHILE STARTING ANOTHER:


WORDS TO USE INSTEAD OF “VERY:”


FIGURING OUT YOUR BOOK’S GENRE:


THE BEST PODCASTS FOR AUTHORS:


USING THE SENSES IN YOUR WRITING:


MAKING YOUR READER TRUST YOUR VILLAIN:


FINDING THE RIGHT STORY HOOK:


WHAT DID AND DIDN’T WORK FOR ONE AUTHOR MARKETING HER BOOK:


INFOGRAPHIC DIAGRAM OF A BESTSELLER:


ROMANCE IN FANTASY, PART 1:


THE CHARACTER DRIVEN STORY:


HOW MANY POV CHARACTERS DO YOU NEED?


USING VIDEOS TO ATTRACT READERS:



Monday, January 30, 2017

Bad Blurbs in the Real World, Part 3

A book description or back cover blurb is the third-best promotion you have.  (The first is name recognition, the second the cover.)  The first two may get a reader to glance at your offering, but a good or bad blurb can make or break the sale.  

I receive a number of ebook promotion emails like BookBuzz and Fussy Librarian, and some of the book blurbs have been so bad that I’ve started collecting them.  

Here are a few with the author and book title removed to protect the incompetent.  My comments in italics are beneath each one.

NOTE:  To see how to write a good blurb, please read my article on the subject or do a search of my blog with the term “blurb” for links in my “Links of Interest” articles.  To learn how to figure out your genre, clink on this.  


SCIENCE FICTION

When war comes after a century of peace, it is sudden and brutal. Taken by surprise, Earth's far-flung colonies are in danger. The only son of an admiral, Second Lieutenant Michael Sheridan finds himself thrust into a desperate conflict that he and the untried soldiers under his command are ready for. Focusing on the people struggling to survive the onslaught, First Strike is a novel that propels the reader to the furthest limits of space. Fighting a ruthless and determined enemy, Sheridan soon learns the brutal lessons of war and that his enemy may not be what it appears to be.

A perfect example of why you shouldn’t start every sentence with clauses, etc.  The description of the book is hard to get through with each introductory phrase or clause acting as a speed bump.


MYSTERY

Will Anderson and Elizabeth Hume are called to the vast Eloise Insane Asylum outside of Detroit, where Elizabeth's cousin Robbie is a patient and now a murder suspect. The victim, like three others before him at the asylum in recent months, was killed with the infamous Punjab lasso, the murder weapon of the Phantom of the Opera. Certain of Robbie's innocence, they begin an investigation with the help of Detective Riordan. Will has himself committed to the asylum to investigate from the inside, and Elizabeth volunteers at Eloise and questions people outside the asylum. While Will endures horrific conditions in his search for the killer, Elizabeth and Riordan follow the trail of a murder suspect all the way to Kalamazoo, where they realize the killer might still be at Eloise, putting Will in extreme danger. They race back to Detroit, but will they arrive in time to save Will?

This blurb tells the whole dang plot!  We know the answer to the last sentence is “yes” so why bother reading.


COZY MYSTERY

After solving the biggest case of her career, PI Barb Jackson’s business is finally taking off. Cases are rolling in, she and her staff are getting paid, and she’s the apple of her hunky detective boyfriend Tyler Black’s eye. Life couldn’t get much better.

There should be a “but” paragraph here to set up the conflict of this novel.  Otherwise, it’s all a big snoozefest of happy.


WOMEN’S FICTION

CHAMPIONS ARE MADE BY THE ADVERSITIES THEY OVERCOME.

Well, this is incredibly vague and sounds nothing like women’s fiction.


ACTION THRILLER

Team Camelot has recovered from the devastation of their last mission, and it's time to go back to work. This time, they find themselves working right here in the good ol' US of A, taking out the top echelons of an entire drug cartel, and Noah gets the chance to use some of Wally's supergadgets. The mission comes off better than anyone could have hoped, and the team heads for home.

Okay, I know what happens in the book so I have no reason to read it.


SUPERNATURAL THRILLER

Could you survive a week in a haunted house?

No.  I wouldn’t go in it in the first place.  And why should I be interested in this book?


YOUNG ADULT CONTEMPORARY FANTASY

Bianca Tailer had always dreamed of making it big. She’d been putting on concerts for friends and family for as long as she could remember.

Oooh, how not exciting.  Why would I read this?  

What’s the threat and/or the goal?


URBAN FANTASY

Vampires? Fae warriors? Who knew they were real. Somebody must have and they should have let the rest of us know. 

Again, what’s the threat?  Who is the main character, and why should we care?