When does the funny come back? by E.D. Vaughn

When does the funny come back?

By: E.D. Vaughn

Life has a tendency to run at super speed. Blink a few times and another birthday or holiday is knocking on the door. Every second seems to be planned or rushed in some way.

If we're lucky, a few stolen moments can be found to take… a deep breath.

If we’re lucky, a few stolen moments can be found to take… a deep breath.

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I just sent my baby to the wolves! by Taylor Sullivan

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Okay, so that may be a little dramatic. What I meant was, I just sent my manuscript off to the editor. Actually, my editor is a beautiful, amazing person. :waves to the sweet editor I love: But I never thought it would feel like this. I thought it would be a relief, that I’d finally be able to put the story behind me and move on, but in reality, I was a little sad.

My story had become my own little world. My characters like dolls I could manipulate and make do whatever I wanted! Saying I’m done, cleaning up the mess, and packing up my toys was bitter sweet. But I guess I could say that about this entire writing journey as a whole. Have you seen this image? This about sums up my expectation, versus how it actually went.

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Writing my first novel has been one hell of a ride! It’s been bumpy, exciting, and very, very humbling.  It’s been just over a year of absolute CRAZY, but I’m truly proud of myself for fulfilling this dream. I heard a statistic that said, “80% of American’s will start a book in their lifetime, but only 10% of those people will actually finish one.”  I believe it. It’s hard to stay focused all the way to the end. And even if nothing comes of this crazy novel, I’ll be able to say “I wrote a book once.” Pretty awesome all in its self.

BUT, if you’ve ever wrote a book, you know that writing a story is only half the battle. There’s critiques, editing, blurbs, publishing, editing, promotion, and did I mention editing? Writing the story is only the beginning. I thought in this post I’d give some insight into what I’ve learned over the past year. Hopefully it will be helpful to someone just starting out.

ONE: Critiques are wonderful. I wouldn’t be where I am without them. But, you can never forget, critiques are only one person’s opinion. Opinions that could work for your manuscript… or not. They could even steer you in the wrong direction, so consider them critically. Step away, take a deep breath, and don’t do anything rash. I realize, I write this like I have it all figured out, but trust me, I don’t. If you happen to be friends with me on FB, you’ll absolutely KNOW it’s not true. You see,  I tend to freak out a little when people don’t like my story.  Or even if they love it, but one part bugs them. In fact, if ten people told me they LOVED that part, I’d agonize over the ONE who didn’t… Human nature? Or could be just me? Regardless, I’m still working on my deep breathing techniques.

TWO: I think I’ve wrote about this before, but it’s important enough to mention again.  You can’t please everyone! There will be people who don’t like your characters, don’t like your style, that don’t like first person, or third, who don’t like your beginning, ending, or middle. But even best selling authors have bad reviews. Probably hundreds of them. If you don’t believe me, think of the best book you’ve ever read, then go read the reviews. It boggles the mind really; how can some love, and others hate the same thing so much? But I guess that’s why there’s endless amount of room for stories. There’s a different flavor for everyone. Pick the one that works for YOU, and write the hell out of it.

THREE: All editors, cover artistes, PR companies, etc,  are NOT created equal.

Every editor will have their own flavor. Shop around. Ask questions, ask them to do a sample edit, find authors who’ve used them in the past, and ask about their experience. Don’t stop until you find one that makes your writing feel like you, only better. Do this early. Good editors are often booked out months in advance. Even if you’re not ready to book just yet, it’s helpful to know who you’ll use when you ARE ready. Trust me, there are so many thing to do in the end, having that decision made, will be a God send.

Whether you self publish, or go the traditional route, you’ll need to promote yourself. It’s never too early to get yourself set up on social media and start making connections. I find Facebook and Twitter to be the most active.

Promotion companies: These are companies who specialize in book promotion. They work with bloggers to do cover reveals, Blitz’s, virtual book tours, parties, etc. They come in all shapes and sizes, specialize in all different genre’s, so look for one that fits your goals, personality, budget, and audience. It will be worth it to investigate and find one you really love.

Bloggers: These can be some of the most helpful, sweetest people in the world. I think they can get a bad reputation from the few that are not this way, but in my experience, they have hearts of gold, and are willing to share their knowledge. Don’t be afraid to reach out.

Authors: I don’t know what I would do without my author friends. They’ve either been there before, or are walking right along with me, but this journey would be mighty lonely, and a whole lot scarier without them.

So that’s it for now. If you’re still walking this crazy path, don’t be afraid to look me up on FB! We’ll walk the road together!

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Counting Words by Polly J. Brown

Near the beginning of the year I joined a small group of writers who committed to writing thirteen romance-related short stories over the course of the year. The idea of writing some short stories excited me. It presented the chance to work with new ideas, fresh characters, and it provided a temporary distraction from my novel-length WIP which I needed to put aside for a time.  But most importantly, writing thirteen short stories meant that I would finally finish something. I would have some pieces to tuck away for future use.  Continue reading

The Lonely Endeavor By E.M. Youman

You’ve probably heard the saying that writing is a lonely endeavor. You put butt in chair and spend hours writing. At least that’s the way it is for me. Would you like to know what my writing environment is like? First off, the door has to be closed. Even if I’m at the house by myself. Don’t ask me why. A sliver of the window open, but if the wind or cars passing get too loud, shut that baby. My muse demands complete silence.

But another mantra that we always hear is that the art of writing is in the rewriting. After practicing for the last three years I can finally say I am beginning to understand what that entails. Rewriting is a combination of feedback and the dirty E for editing.

Feedback

Comes from critique groups either online or off. First readers and beta readers. How an author handles feedback is crucial to the rewrite stage. I’ve come to understand that critiques aren’t necessarily about making sure the work is good or having someone slash a red pen across your work and tell you how to “fix it.” This idea didn’t become concrete to me until my latest short story. One of my loyal critiquers was reading my work in segments. She looked at the first segment and said I love it. Always what an author wants to hear, right? But then when I handed her the next segment she said your MC is completely different than the MC in the first segment. I like them both though, keep up the good work.

Now the usual cycle of the feedback meltdown is to get mad. She just doesn’t understand. Did she even read it?! Sniff, cry. Maybe I don’t know what I’m doing. I crawl under the covers. I’ll never be a writer. Time passes and I crawl out of the covers. I like the character. I don’t want to change him. Herein lies the decision that affects the fate every story an author will ever write. What am I going to do? The quality of the work and taste level of your critters will vary. They can’t tell you a story is good or bad. That’s like trying to nominate a barbecue sauce for best award. Every voter will have a favorite and most likely someone will like something you hate. The only thing feedback can ever do for a writer is tell them, how a story is coming across. And that’s important because we don’t see how weird it is for a character to go from being a vegetarian to eating a hamburger.

We take the feedback and revise to make our ideas clearer. It’s not about changing the story; it’s about amplifying your voice. Feedback pushes you to think about what you want to say.

Then we take it to beta readers. Their feedback is just as important because they tell us how the story made them feel. If they don’t want to scream, laugh or cry with your characters, it’s nail biting time and you revise again.

Editing: a.k.a the evil E.

Now it’s time to take the story to an editor. Here’s where they massage the words and you learn how to expand, condense and paint the story for your readers.

Wow. That’s a lot of people. You may have started out on your own, but when you think about it, there’s a network of people ready and willing to help you along every stage of the writing process. So if writing feels daunting, remember only the first drafted is written in isolation. You are not alone.

About The Author

E.M. Youman is a freelance writer from Oakland, CA. Some of her short stories have been published by Black Cat Press, S/tick Magazine and IFF. When she’s not writing fiction, E.M. Youman, works at an independent record label and runs a music blog. She has a B.A. and Master in Communication and is currently working on her first romance novel.

Oh the Places Characters Go! (With Me) by Kate DeHart

Writers are a strange bunch. Everyone knows this. And if you are a writer yourself, you probably agree.

I mean, I’ve actually done internet searches on “exploding smoke bombs” and “how to disarm a gun from an assailant”. Along with “smoke traps for burglars that collect DNA”(so cool!) and “mind-altering medications that  increase sexual desire”(don’t ask). And that’s all for one story! Continue reading

Empowering Characters Emotions Lecture Packet by Margie Lawson: A Review.

The first piece of writing I submitted was to Mills and Boon in 1996. Not unexpectedly, it received the standard rejection letter of the time: ‘Lacks emotional punch.’

Mmh, I thought, if I can’t write emotion, I shouldn’t be writing romance. But the fact is, whatever you write, the reader, on some level, needs to be emotionally engaged.

Now, many years later, more experience later, I am embarking on a second attempt at a writing career. This time I’m doing my research which is how I came across the Margie Lawson Lecture Packet: Empowering Characters Emotions. Continue reading

Editing: A Love/Hate Relationship

Last week if you had asked me if I liked to edit, I would have replied “Hell, no!”. This week, ask me again and I’ll be happy to say, “Hell, yes!” All along, I considered editing to be a necessary evil, but a required step toward perfecting a novel. So you ask, “What made you change your mind, KJ?”

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Before I answer, I think it’s only fair you have a little background on Kathryn James. For one, I don’t have a lot of patience and like instant gratification. Second, I like to plan everything and yet I don’t plot a single story. I still haven’t figured out how that one works. I mean how can I panster write when I plan my entire week on a calendar. Continue reading

Jungle fever

I have been on my first ever research trip for a work of fiction. Officially it was called a holiday, otherwise my Other Half and travel companion might have objected, but our travel route was, to large extent, determined by my story and what I needed to know about the eastern part of Sabah, Malaysian Borneo.

Here’s the thing. My female main character works on the Andaman Coast of Thailand. I know the area fairly well. Her love interest, Nick, is a wildlife photographer and he’s supposed to be somewhere else. The long distance and time apart is a strain in their relationship. I needed him out of the way for long periods of time, but perhaps not on the other side of the globe. So I checked the map, considered where I could put him. Which places did I know well enough to be able to add convincing sensory details to my story? Continue reading