• 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.

The Sea Goddess is Available on Amazon!

I’m so excited to announce my first short story “The Sea Goddess” is available on Amazon today! It has been such an amazing struggle to get to this point, and I am so thankful for all the support I’ve received from friends and family. I honestly couldn’t have done it without them. And, of course, that includes my 7 Evil Dwarves. There’s never been a better group of writers to work with!

If you’re interested in checking out “The Sea Goddess,” here is the cover, the blurb, and a link to Amazon:

The Sea Goddess

The Goddess of the Sea no longer cares just for sacrifices; she’ll punish all those tainted by blood on The Feast of Darkness.

On this cursed night each year, The Goddess’s powerful magic lingers in the air. The moon and seas turn red, stirring violence in all those creatures dark of soul. Lady Dessi Quinn has vowed not to leave the castle on such a dangerous night. Instead, she longs to explore the strange connection between Lord Smit Croswell and herself, even as she tries to deny it.

But as the night progresses, events outside of her control force her to make an impossible choice. A choice that will throw her into danger and change the course of her life forever.

If she can survive it.

Note: “The Goddess of the Sea” takes place in the world of Tarak, but readers can either enjoy this short story before or after “To Kill a Wizard.”

And if you’d like to, I’d appreciate anyone interested in leaving a review!

Non-Writing Responsibilities of an Indie Author

tree-and-storm-2

The next couple of months are going to be a little crazy for me. The plan is to release two of my short stories, in the world of Tarak, before releasing the first novel in the series To Kill a Wizard. So far, I’m running a bit behind in my “schedule,” because all of the non-writing stuff that goes into self-publishing is getting in the way.

These are some of the things that have been driving me crazy, that I had no idea would take up so much of my time:

  • Creating a marketing “plan”
  • Converting all my books to the proper format for each retailer. (Right now, I’m working on Smashwords.)
  • Making sure I have the right cover for each work, and that they are formatted correctly.
  • AND making sure all the information I provide actually shows up accurately at each place.

I will say, after the past couple of months working with all these programs, I can see why established writers pay someone to do a lot of these things. It kills me to spend so much time on all of this stuff when I could be writing. Even though I enjoy the control publishing as an indie author gives me, I can see why one of the reasons people go traditional is to avoid having to spend their time on all this non-writing stuff.

A fellow author of mine pays someone about thirty dollars to put their book in each format for them. At first, I thought this was crazy. Now, I plan to keep a special account of anything I make off my first works, so I can hopefully pay someone to do the formatting next time.

What do all of you think? Does the formatting get easier? Or is it smarter just to pay someone?

My Muse has Vanished

I always have an idea of something I want to write about. When I’m doing dishes, or out driving in the car, I’m usually lost in my thoughts, plotting out some new story. But lately, my thoughts have been completely muddled. At first I thought it was the holidays, sinking their teeth in me and keeping things too crazy busy to even think. Yet, the holidays have come and gone, and I’m still stuck.

It’s weird. I’ve picked up a few pictures to “inspire” me and glanced at a few topics, hoping to write anything at all, but I’m just left sitting in front of the computer. Staring. A week ago I forced myself to keep plotting out a story I’d been playing with a month or so ago. Things started going well. I was proud of myself! And then, I realized I was writing a modified version of the book I’d just finished reading.

Ugh!

So my Muse has left me right when I need her the most. Hopefully she turns up before my computer gets too lonely.

How to Write a Best-Seller

In-between editing and blogging, I’ve been reading a few books on how to write. One of those books is “How to Write a Dirty Story” by Susie Bright. There have been quite a few interesting tips and bits of advice in this book. But one of the sections I just finished reading was about how to have a best-selling novel. One of the things that surprised me most about this section is that the two main requirements seemed to be #1 A Great Idea, and #2 An Ability to Market Oneself.

What do you think about this?

I was a bit shocked.

Coming from my inexperienced place, I’d assumed the most important thing was to be able to write something extraordinary. Books like Harry Potter didn’t necessarily have the most original idea (at the most basic level). How many stories have you read about a boy-wizard, after all? But it is her writing that makes this story come alive. She creates this perfect mix of tension, awesome characters, as well as, a unique world.

But if rumors are true, J.K. Rowling was rejected by a number of agents and publishers, who didn’t see the originality in her work… or perhaps, who didn’t even bother to read it.

This makes me wonder what is really required to have a best seller. As a writer myself, I wouldn’t say that I have any plans to put a huge focus on my marketing as I write more and more. Yes, I’ll have to do a bit, but I can’t imagine myself making appearances and taking interviews and all that jazz. Yet, in today’s world, is that a requirement of becoming a best-seller?

Many of the writers I meet are quiet people (not all by any means) who, like myself, might hesitate to become a public figure. I’d like to think that with a little promotion, word of mouth alone will be able to sell my book. But, perhaps, I’ll change my opinion one day.

What do you think? How much of being a best-selling author is good marketing and how much is good writing?

When is Enough Enough?

I’m trying to do the final read-through on my novel, but I’m constantly stopping to fix things. But when I do, I read the lines again and can’t tell if they are better than before, or just different. The truth is, I love this story. I’ve edited and re-edited it so many times that I think it might truly be done.

But how do I know when enough is enough?

Some writers spend a lifetime on the same novel. Sometimes at the end, they’ve created a masterpiece, while other books might be tucked away, never to see the light of day.

Other authors publish great books every six-months and keep on going. But how do they stop themselves and move onto the next piece?

I’m on the cusp of something exciting and new… and, truth be told, a little frightening. Every book I’ve “finished” up until this point didn’t survive all these edits, without being put down. This book I’ve managed to stick with. To fall down, to get discouraged, but to get back up again. This book is so ready to be sent out into the world, thinking of it sitting in my computer keeps me up at night.

But so do the questions.

What if there are still mistakes? What if I missed some terrible flaw? What if I put it out there, and people hate it?

I want it to be flawless and well-received. But the truth is, I can only do the best that I can do. After that, I guess I just have to take a deep breath and be prepared for whatever response I get, good or bad. I can’t just edit forever, too afraid that someone, somewhere, won’t like what I created.

Got Plot? #AmWriting #AmPlotting

Business man writing plan ABC
When I first decided to try to make a living doing this thing I love called writing, my first step was to learn as much as I could about anything writing or publishing.

One of the biggest helps  when I was starting out were the online workshop/classes hosted by RWA, among others. Authors teaching authors. This community is kind, helpful and always willing to share knowledge 😀

After a ton of blog reading, I settled on my first topic to study and improve.

Plotting.

I still enjoy the book, 20 Master Plots by Ronald Tobias (I have the 2003 edition, there’s a new 2012 edition now). Even Tobias states, though, that no one knows how many types of master plots there are (his guess is not 20, he only gives you an overview of different plots such as Revenge, The Quest, Adventure, Love, ect.)

Okay, I thought. *I think* I can work with that, LOL.

 

Next step, plot elements.

Free Rollercoaster Track Royalty Free Stock Photography - 6322557And this is where it got really interesting.

 

3 Act Structure

5 Act Structure

 I even heard of doing an 8 Act once.

 Spider web plotting

Storyboarding

Snowflake plotting, and on and on.

 

Yup. I read books and/or took classes on them all.

Guess how many worked perfectly for me?

ZERO

 

But it was definitely worth it. Because I took away so much information from each and every step, that I was able to form a mutt-mix bastardization method of elements from them all into my own questionable path to plotting.

Since I’m at the beginning of creating a new world and series for the first time in a couple years, I decided to revisit some of them.

It’s always interesting what new information I find, now that I have more writing under my belt.

 

So, my Q4U: How do you plot? Or, how do you pants it (no pre-story/outline writing)?

 And, how did you learn or decide on your method?

Finally, I’m Finished!

My young adult fantasy novel was “finished” more than six months ago, maybe a year ago. Since then, I’ve been editing. Giving up. And editing some more. Last night at a ridiculously late hour, I finished.

Finished!

I am elated beyond belief. The next week or so I plan to go through and just read it as a reader, while still keeping an eye out that my changes have been implemented well.

Then the next step: sending it to my writing group.

In the last few years, I’ve read a handful of completed novels from my writing buddies. Every time, I feel a strange surge of pride and envy that they’ll actually finished something, that all their work is there in front of me. And now, finally, I’ll have something to hand over to them.

I know there will be more work to do after they give me their feedback, but I’m excited to focus on my next step. Even though, they’ll be lots of new questions I’ll need to figure out the answers to. For example:

If I go the self-publishing route:
• Should I create my own cover or pay to have one designed?
• How in the world do I create my own blurb?
• And then the even shorter/more difficult tagline?
• Do I hire a copy editor or hope that after a handful of eyes have reviewed it, it’ll be clean?

If I go the publisher route:
• Do I go to an agent or directly to a publishing company?
• What angle should I take with my query letter?

There’s a ton of other things I’ll need to figure out, but I’m so excited to be taking this next step. Wish me luck!

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