• Who We Are

  • Schedule

    Mondays ~
    Tuesdays ~ Snarky
    Wednesdays ~ Dreamer
    Thursdays ~ Naughty
    Fridays ~ Dreary
    Saturdays ~
    Sundays ~

    Whenever ~ Smokey, Mighty, Eerie and Wicked

  • Snarky’s Tweets

  • Kinetic’s Tweets

  • Dreamer’s Tweets

  • Wicked’s Tweets

  • Eerie’s Tweets

  • Mighty’s Tweets

Editing Tips- After You Think You’re Done

paper and pencil

You write something awesome, reread and edit it multiple times, maybe get an editor, and you think you’re done, right? Wrong. After being in a critique group for four years, I’ve learned some invaluable things that every writer should consider.

  1. The first time you introduce a character, use his or her name.
    1. Example: “She rolled and struck him in the chest. Hot blood oozed down her hand as his screams filled the air. Heather smiled.”
    2. Instead: “Heather rolled and struck him in the chest. Hot blood oozed down her hand as his screams filled the air. She smiled.”
  2. After that, you can mostly just use pronouns (he or she), unless there are other characters, and it’s getting confusing.
    1. Example: “Heather liked to watch people die. Heather waited until the life drained from their eyes, then went on with her day, feeling like she’d had a dozen cups of coffee.”
    2. Instead: “Heather liked to watch people die. She waited until the life drained from their eyes, then went on with her day, feeling like she’d had a dozen cups of coffee.”
  3. Put down your work for a minimum of a few weeks, so you can read it with fresh eyes.
    1. There have been COUNTLESS times I’ve received feedback and disagreed with it. Then, week or months later, I read my work again and realize I was wrong. When you are too “close” to your work, it’s hard to see the truth.
  4. Read through your work, look specifically at the adjectives and adverbs to see if you are over-using them or could remove them and use a better word.
    1. Example: “She spoke loudly.”
    2. Instead: “She shouted.”
  5. Don’t forget your character’s thoughts and emotions. Without them, you have more of an outline of a story rather than a story.

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8 Reasons to be an Indie Author

Girl and Dog

  1. You have control over your own cover designs.

 I remember going to a writing conference where the author said she cried when she saw  the cover designed by her publishers. She’d written (I believe) a historical romance, but the cover looked like it was for an action movie.

It took me awhile to get covers that I love. But now that I have them, I’m beyond proud. And as an indie author, I didn’t have to settle on what someone else wanted for my book.

  1. You get to create your own timeline to finish your work.

I once heard a very popular writer speak. It was surprising when someone asked her about how she was able to write so many books. She said she was given deadlines by her publishers, and whether or not her books were always well-written, they had to be turned in by a certain date.

I’ve had periods of time when I could write a lot, and other times when I had no time to write. And when I’m not yet making a living wage off my writing alone (like most authors), it’s nice not to have to follow someone else’s timeline. It is also really nice to not have to publish subpar work, just for the sake of meeting a deadline.

  1. You can monitor your sales on a daily basis.

I check my author KDP sale’s page at least a couple times a day. It is beyond thrilling to see, right away, what is selling and how much is selling. When The Sea Goddess first came out, it wasn’t uncommon to see ten downloads in a day. Now, most days, I see an average of two sales. Then, almost randomly, I’ll suddenly see a huge spike in sales. Realm of Goddesses is purchased less often, but it costs more. To Kill a Wizard sees the least sales (at $2.99), but because it is on KDP Select, I see profits from pages read. That is so cool! When a person picks up my book and reads the entirety of it in three days, I feel awesome! And as an indie author, I can see exactly how many pages my readers read each day.

  1. You can write according to whatever inspires you that day.

Everything I’ve published is in the young adult fantasy genre, but I’m currently writing in a number of genres. I’m almost finished a new adult short story for an upcoming anthology. I’m working on an adult fantasy romance. I finished an anti-utopian new adult short story. And recently, I wrote up an idea for a sci-fi romance. As an indie author, I’m able to write whatever I want.

  1. You have the ability to work with other authors on different projects.

I work with several different authors, who write in different genres. Our first anthology will be coming out soon, but I predict there will be many more anthologies in the future.

  1. You can choose the different platforms to make your work available on.

I’ve used Smashwords, which makes my work accessible on: Apple iBookstore, Sony, Kobo, B&N, Aldiko, and others, as well as (of course), Amazon.

  1. You are able to price your work the way you want.

Making my first short story free has led to a number of sales on my other two works.   I’m sure a lot of traditionally published authors wish they could do the same.

  1. In other words, you have almost complete control over your work.

From covers, to hiring your own editor, to following your own timeline, indie writing offers you the control to complete your work just the way you want. So that project you’ve spent weeks, months, or years writing, can be handled just the way you wish.

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Critique Groups

critique group

A critique group can be defined as a lot of things, but to me, it’s simply a group of people who get together to go over their writing. If you are a writer and you aren’t in one, I highly recommend either joining one or creating one. I spent years writing on my own, working my hardest to reach my goal of becoming a published author. Yet, it wasn’t until I joined a critique group that I not only grew a lot as a writer, but had the confidence and knowledge to become a published author.

But what makes a successful critique group?

  • The most important thing is that all the members have personalities that work well together. If everyone can’t get along, they can’t work together.
  • Trust is equally important. If you don’t trust the members of the group, it’s hard to accept and give critiques. The whole experience leaves you pretty vulnerable, which means you need people there you know want the best for you.
  • Depending on your groups goals, the members should always be thinking, “what can we do to improve their story so it can be published?” If the members are just trying to tear apart your work, the group isn’t helpful for anyone.
  • Keep the group small. More than ten members would make it very difficult to have time to read and review people’s work (well). I actually think five or so members is plenty.
  • Meet regularly. Every two weeks seems to work well for me, but each group will have different needs.
  • Submit each meeting. The only way you’ll see a lot of growth is if you have regular feedback. Each meeting you’ll try to apply the comments from the last meeting so that your problems change and minimize. This really helps your growth as an author.

I asked my fellow critique group member and friend Aeon Igni her thoughts about the benefits of a critique group, and I think her response was brilliant:

“If you’ve ever read Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich, you know that much of business success comes from individuals grouping together to accomplish greater tasks than any one person could accomplish alone. A good writing group gives an author this power. With several minds focusing on their process, product, and career rather than their single mind, it is almost assured that the end product will be exponentially greater than what the author could create without this feedback.

Critique groups share information, techniques, tips and tools of the trade, as well as powerful brainstorming sessions and constructive criticism. We can see the power of critique partners and critique groups among published authors today – many authors I follow reference each other on social media and post pictures of themselves dining out or taking cruises together. 

For me personally, it is comforting to know that I don’t have to go it alone – that there are others to turn to when I am struggling or need advice. Even a simple text with an article to read or asking how my writing is coming along can be powerful motivation to keep moving forward. I expect that I will always be part of a critique group, and I can’t imagine a writing life without one.”

So if you aren’t in a critique group yet, find one or created one. It may be the single most important thing you do as a writer.

Ideaifying Pt 6: Side-word on process

I wanted to have an aside on what it is I’m doing here, and a little thought about how long writing can take.

Normally this entire brainstorming process takes place all in one day. I generally sit down for about an hour (for a short story), and just dump down words on the page until I have nothing more to say. Novels are far, far longer. For this blog, however, I’ve been breaking them up each week, and giving myself some time to ruminate on the things I did the week prior.

This doesn’t mean that I take all of my stories from a single word to a full outline in one day. Far from it. Ideas need to percolate to allow the cream of the crop to rise to the surface. I’m actually enjoying having this semi-force gap in between brainstorming sessions, it’s giving me a different perspective each time I sit down.

I’ve heard it said before that an overnight success takes ten years to obtain.

What does that even mean? Here is my thought; it means that the author has poured over their work for ten years, ideas mulling in their head, jotting down things on the train or the middle of the night. Spending sleepless nights re-reading over old notes to put them all into one place, then writing the product.

And that’s just draft 1. They edit and edit, agonizing over every chapter, paragraph, phrase, and word. They fix commas, delete entire chapters, re-write the ending four times and the beginning ten times. Then, they delete the first four chapters and re-do them from scratch.

They cut entire characters. They take one character with too much going on and split them into two.

This is all a lot of work, and many published authors, from what I’ve seen, talk about their process much like this.

Only then do they sell their book to a publisher and “suddenly” come up with a half-million dollar publishing deal.

The rest of the community may have just heard this new author’s name for the first time when they got their deal, but for them it’s been a long journey. And this is just one of the many stories. Some authors have written 7-13 books by the time they sell their first one. Others sell that first book that took 10 years to write. For every possibly scenario, there’s a different author with a different story of how to make it.

So buckle in, fair reader. Tis a bumpy ride where we go.

Waving the White Flag

whiteflag

Around this time of year I become the Tasmanian Devil. Zipping around like a whirling dervish, I try to meet the seemingly endless holiday demands. Battles need to be had with mobs at the grocery store. The house needs a spit shine because friends and family are descending. Gift shopping needs to get done. Food needs to be prepared. Undoubtedly, I’ll have to tear apart the newly cleaned house trying to locate Grandma’s handwritten sweet potato casserole recipe.

There are holiday parties, potlucks, and birthday celebrations to plan and attend. On top of this, someone in my house invariably gets sick. This Thanksgiving my son came down with a bad cold while my husband ended up with the flu.

The end result is that my carefully structured writing schedule goes out the window. I know I’m not alone in this. The holidays have a negative impact on the productivity of many writers.

In the past, I’ve fought back by sacrificing sleep to regain my writing time. Unfortunately, I usually end up looking and acting like the zombies in my novels. Stumbling through my son’s second Christmas wasn’t a proud moment.

So this year, I’m waving the white flag. The holiday madness wins. The word count loses. But come January, game on! I’ll be making up for lost time.

Do you have any strategies for writing through the craziness of the holidays?

If you get a chance, check out the latest blog post on my website (www.tararane.com).

Writing a Winning Blurb

A blurb is the description of your book, found on the back cover. Marilynn Byerly,a best-selling author, says that “Blurbs are the second most important selling tool you have for your book, so you want it to grab the reader’s attention” I realize how incredibly important a blurb is for enticing people to read a book, so I’ve been obsessing over my own. After struggling with it for weeks, I finally turned to the internet for advice. I thought I’d share some of the things I learned.

As my story is a YA Fantasy with romance, I looked at how Marilynn Byerly suggested creating a blurb for a fantasy story. What I gathered, she recommends the following:

  1. Setting First
  2. Plot Set Up
  3. Main Character Emotional Involvement and Exterior Conflict

Amy Wilkins, who writes blurbs for Harlequin, suggests hooking your reader with your protagonist by asking yourself what the reader needs to know right away. Or, to focus more on your setting, if it is unusual.

She also discusses something called “shoutlines,” which I’ve never heard of before. They are the bolded text between paragraphs or at the start of a blurb that grab your attention. But, she emphasizes that you need to ask yourself if it is needed or adds anything by having it.

One thing Amy really focused on is finding that balance with how much plot to involve. If your reader doesn’t need to know it, or it gives your whole plot away, it’s probably best to leave it out. She suggested picking a spot a quarter or a third of the way through, and not telling anything after that point.

Another thing she suggested, which I hadn’t thought of, was to us a line from your own book. She says it should set up something and can really covey the author’s voice.

Her final suggestion was to end with conflict. That way, you leave the reader wanting more.

I really found these tips useful, but I think it is still a really difficult thing to try to find that balance between hooking your reader with your characters and plot, yet not giving too much away. It also seems so easy to fall into using cliques to make my points. I must avoid them, no matter how tempting!

Any suggestions on how to write a great blurb? What completely turns you away from a book, after you read the blurb?

Websites on writing great blurbs:

http://www.marilynnbyerly.com/blurb.html#SFANDFANTASY

http://savvybookwriters.wordpress.com/2012/02/02/5-tips-on-how-to-write-a-blurb-for-your-book/

http://romanceuniversity.org/2011/11/23/5-top-tips-for-writing-a-compelling-book-blurb-by-amy-wilkins/

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