Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ring in the New Year with a good book



This is an open promotional opportunity for all authors who are looking to promote their books, regardless of genre. Here's how it works. In the comments, leave a blurb/details for your book and a purchase link. It'd be great if you could return the favor by having a similar post on your blog. If you do, please leave us the link for that as well. This will be open from now through New Years day, all day.

All I ask is that the blurb be PG-13 as this is not an adult rated blog. Even though I write erotic romance, I'd like for most anyone to be able to read my blog.

Okay, I'll go first. My latest book is called Frank and The Werewolf Tamer. It's about a vampire who gets involved with a modern (and sexy) version of Frankenstein.

Here are the details:

Katherine has had a hard time finding work, mostly because she’s a vampire. Turns out, people aren’t clamoring to work with the undead. She goes to the massive theme park, Notte Oscura, as a last resort. However, she soon finds there is more waiting for her than just a job.






Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Looking to review any paranormal romance?




I'm giving away a limited number of pdf copies of Frank and The Werewolf Tamer to people (professional reviewers and readers) who are willing to post an honest review of the book on Amazon.


If you don't like romance, erotica, or the paranormal, please, skip this book.


It is my sincere hope that everyone will LOVE the book, but I realize this may not happen. When I say "honest" here's what I mean. If you absolutely hate the book, please don't trash it publicly. It's okay to not like something, this is a free country. Just don't call the book names, call me names, or give away details of the plot. Basically, be nice about it is what I'm saying.


However, it is still my hope that you will all LOVE the book. Ha. Ha. Ha. So, those interested in reviewing Frank and The Werewolf Tamer, please send me an email traceyhkitts@yahoo.com


In the subject line have something like Frank and The Werewolf Tamer/Review.


Thank you in advance for your time and consideration. I really appreciate it!



Monday, December 26, 2011

Frank and The Werewolf Tamer is out!

This is my very first self-published book as well as my first experience with Amazon's Kindle exclusive lending library. (Kindle Prime members can read the book for free.) It'll probably be some time yet before I know how this venture will work out. But, I must say once I got the formatting thing down, it wasn't that difficult. With a bit of practice ( like doing this 2 or 3 times) that should be easy.


Designing the cover art was also not a big deal. Actually, I loved it. For the first time I had complete control over what was on the cover of my book. I only hope that my tastes as an artist and a writer are as pleasing to readers as they were to me.


Before my actions can be misunderstood, I have no intentions of leaving the world of traditional publishing. This is an experiment, one that I hope goes very well. I want to be able to offer readers better prices and also be able to pay my bills. It's a simple as that.


Without further rambling (because I'm writing this at 4:30 a.m.) here are the details on my latest book. (Drum roll please)




Katherine has had a hard time finding work, mostly because she’s a vampire. Turns out, people aren’t clamoring to work with the undead. She goes to the massive theme park, Notte Oscura, as a last resort. After she watches his sexy “Frankenstein” act, Frank Eastwick hires her on the spot. They are in need of a new werewolf tamer and he has no doubt that she can do the job. Katherine soon learns that there’s more to this hunk than his gorgeous body and numerous scars. Things are working out for Katherine for the first time in years. That is until the vampire who bit her decides to pay them a visit.



Purchase Link: http://www.amazon.com/Frank-Werewolf-Tamer-ebook/dp/B006PU2JBW/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1324895015&sr=1-3

Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Holidays

And to all my fellow work-a-holics, I understand. I never thought I'd be one of those people who worked all the time. Then one day (I always knew I wanted to write) I decided it was time I started writing. I began to follow through with my dream. Next thing you know I work all the time.

Honestly "work" is a dirty word to me. I use it because that's the word I have to use to let people know I'm trying to get something done. Ha. Ha. If I say I'm writing, that doesn't seem to convey the same respect or need for privacy.

The moment I finally gave in to what I always knew would be my career, everything changed. Here it is 2 days till Christmas and I'm still writing. I don't have an "off" switch. I've tried to explain to people that it's like I'm always on call for my muse. As bad as that might sound to some, I love it. I never leave work. Which would be a nightmare if I was still in any of the jobs I've had in the past. But not this. I love writing. I love telling stories and creating new worlds and characters.

I am what I do, so I can't stop being me. With that in mind, as I sit here "working," I wanted to take a moment to wish everyone a Happy Holiday. Whether you celebrate Christmas or Winter Solstice, any other holiday, I wish you happiness.

May you be able to avoid the relatives you don't like and spend some time with the ones you do.

Happy Holidays, from me to you.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Who is Solomon Grundy?

Seriously, does anyone know? Yes, this is off topic from my usual blog subjects. I love comics. Get over it. Ha. Ha. Ha. Batman is my favorite. Yesterday while playing the new Arkham City (which rocks by the way), I encountered Solomon Grundy.

I immediately recognized him from the comics (and a brief appearance on some cartoons), but I still have no idea who he actually is. All he tells you himself is he was "Born on a Monday, christened on a Tuesday, married on Wednesday."

Um...okaaaaay. I found the rest of that bizarre nursery rhyme and it told me nothing, but here it is. There's even a company in the UK named after this nursery rhyme. That's pretty freakin' macabre, even to me.

By James Orchard Halliwell published in 1842 with the lyrics:

Solomon Grundy,
Born on a Monday,
Christened on Tuesday,
Married on Wednesday,
Took ill on Thursday,
Grew worse on Friday,
Died on Saturday,
Buried on Sunday.
That was the end,
Of Solomon Grundy.

Well, that's pretty disturbing. My first impression when looking at Grundy is he looks like a zombie version of Frankenstein's monster. (He's got stitches along his biceps as if they are holding his arms together.) I did find a few references online that say he is in fact a "zombie supervillain." That's nice, but who the crap is he?

According to Penguin (Arkham City) he's immortal. Truthfully, I couldn't kill him. We just got to a point where he was subdued. Zombies, in any other work of fiction, can be killed. So, what the crap is he? Who made him? If you know, tell me. Please. It bugs me.

I also already know he was supposedly murdered in Slaughter Swamp (where ever the hell that is). I couldn't find if that meant something or not. The same article where I found this said that every time he is "killed" in his zombie form he is resurrected with different powers. That's cool and all, BUT WHY? You get what I'm saying?

Oh, and I also found out that Solomon Grundy is the name of a pickled fish dish served on Jamaican Cruises. Bleh! I've been to Jamaica before and nobody ever offered me Solomon Grundy on a cracker. Nasty!

Every site I went to says the same thing. (Not about the pickled fish thing.) He's a zombie supervillain who also fought the Green Lantern and some other people. Not to sound like an ass, but I don't care about that other stuff. I just want to know where he came from/who made him the way he is.

How can you have a badass zombie supervillain and not give him a decent backstory?

Okay, as I was about to hit "send" I decided to look into the Slaughter Swamp thing. Yay! I found some more information. It'd probably be easier to just post a link.

http://dc.wikia.com/wiki/Slaughter_Swamp

This is more like it. However, it still doesn't explain how he is at least 20 feet tall. That's my best guess in comparison to Batman who I estimate is about 6' 2".

Grundy was also a sideshow freak over the years. But, I've heard that he has more than one origin story. Anyone else know the rest?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

My first cover art design and why I'm doing this

Before I share the next step of my project, I'd like to clear something up. I am not self-publishing this book because I have no other option. Some people seem to have gotten the impression that no one wants my story and that's why it's being self-published.

That's not true at all. I've had 15 novels, 3 novellas, and 1 short story, all traditionally published. You know, by a publisher. I submitted my work, they offered me a contract, etc. Everything I've ever finished has been published.

Frank and The Werewolf Tamer has never been submitted to a publisher, anywhere at any time. This story was written specifically for this business venture. Make no mistake, that's exactly what this is.

In the on-going attempt to survive and pay my bills, I've decided to self-publish some of my work. I love what I do and I sincerely enjoy providing entertainment for readers. However, I also want to make more money and be able to offer readers a cheaper price at the same time. People deserve a bargain and I deserve to keep a roof over my head.

These reasons are what led me down this road, not rejection.

Now that that's cleared up, I'd like to share with everyone my very first cover art design. I used a combination of Photoshop, Paint, and Microsoft Picture Manager to create the desired effects. By the way, that's the edge of my back yard in the background.

For those interested in learning how to make their own cover art, there are dozens of "how to" videos on youtube. That's where I've picked up a lot. Until a few weeks ago, I'd never used Photoshop in my life.




Tuesday, December 13, 2011

My self-publishing adventure is nearing completion

Well, this part of it anyway. I've been doing tons of reasearch. My book Frank and The Werewolf Tamer is almost complete. I've decided on the perfect images for the cover art (which I'll be making myself). Actually, I seem to have a knack for it. Don't get me wrong, it isn't perect, but with some effort, I think I could be really good at this.

As it stands now, I'm about 15-20 thousand words away from the end of the book. I wrote 5,ooo just this morning. My fingers are tired, but my brain won't stop. Once I finish the book, I'll need to edit it once more (because I've already edited it up to this point 3 times). Then, my writing partner will go over it again for me. Next, I'll work on that smoking hot cover art. And last but not least, I'll learn how to format and upload my book to Amazon Kindle.

I am so excited! At first, when I read that they have a 35% royalty option or a 70% option, I thought it was a no brainer. Then, I looked into the matter further. In case anyone else is wondering, here's what I've learned about Amazon's Kindle program.

- You can only earn 70% royalties on titles priced $2.99 - $9.99
- Anything $2.98 and under automatically earns 35% royalties

That means that for a .99 cent book (which is what I was originally going to offer), I would only earn .35 cents a copy. As much as I want readers to have a bargain, I can't live on that. And I do this for a living.

- 70% royalty books are also charged a small download fee. (0.15 per KB) This mostly hurts those with lots of graphics. The fee is deducted from your royalties and not charged to the author seperately. Honestly, I haven't heard anyone complaining about this. From what I understand, the average fee is only 3-6 cents per book.

After much debate, I've decided that Frank and The Werewolf Tamer will be priced at $2.99. This will still offer readers a good price and allow me to pay my bills. I consider that win/win.

I'm really looking forward to seeing how this works out and thought I'd share my experiences/research thus far.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

This is about writing, but what if I put porn in the title?

Okay, you can stop laughing and/or rolling your eyes now. One blog post of mine had the word porn in it, over a year ago. I find it hilarious that this particular post (which wasn't even about porn, but merely used the word) gets so many hits. That's sad.

This post is, like I said, about writing. My writing to be specific. I can't tell you how tired I am of people (mainly relatives) asking me if I "still write about werewolves and stuff." Yes, I do. What part of paranormal romance author are they not understanding? I've worked for 4 years to try and build an audience. I want people to think of paranormal romance when they read my name. Why the hell would I throw 4 years of work down the drain? Wait, that wouldn't be thrown, it'd be flushed. Anyway, you get my point.

That would be stupid! First of all, my loyal readers expect paranormal when they get one of my books. That means, I'd need to come up with a new name to write a different genre. THAT would mean I'd have to do TWICE the marketing. I don't think so! According to my family, contemporary romance is what I should write. Good grief. Obviously, they've never looked at my bookshelf or even paid attention to me as a person.

No offense to those who write contemporary romance and to those who enjoy reading it. I'm just not one of those people. It doesn't appeal to me in the slightest. No matter how great the writing may be, I find it boring. It's just not my thing.

I want to scream every time a relative says, "Why don't you do a regular romance?" Regular meaning contemporary. Um....maybe because it doesn't interest me!

"Well, there's lots of people that don't like that kinda stuff." (Meaning what I write.)

"Then they shouldn't read my books!" Seriously, that's what's great about free will.

I can't seem to make them understand that I cannot write something that doesn't interest me. Before I was ever a writer, I was a reader. I have never liked "regular" anything.

When I was in elementary school, I liked ghost stories. In high school my interests progressed to romance novels (mostly medieval because that came closest to my gothic tastes), and horror. Soon after I discovered sci-fi and as a young adult I finally found some vampire romance books. It was like a light going off in my brain. THIS is what I'd been looking for all along. This thing called paranormal romance combined everything I loved about fiction. It was perfect!

I've known since I was 6 years old that I wanted to tell my own stories someday. Well, someday is now and I love what I do. The sad thing is, it's only a matter of time before someone reads this, takes it completely out of context and starts a whole shitstorm again. (I can't find my umbrella.)

Why can't I just be who I am? And why after 32 years do none of these people know me?

P.S. I have no intentions of ever writing anything "normal," so don't ask. Ever.

How to get your novel started, Conclusion

Conclusion

By this point, I hope you have started your novel and realized that you can write a book. Here are a few final tips.

You need a basic knowledge of grammar, but writing a novel is much different from writing a paper for class. You don’t have to worry about proper or “professional” grammar. Write as you speak. If you were writing an informal letter to a friend would you use a colon? Probably not.

“That” should not be a major part of your story. Can you use “which” instead or eliminate the word all together?

Don’t forget to write as you speak. If you can’t find the words, think of how you would explain/describe the same thing to a friend.

I hope this information has been helpful to you. I wish you happy writing and many sales!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Character Outline

Here's the outline I promised in yesterday's post:) I hope it helps you to better understand your characters. Please, don't feel like you have to answer every question. I never do. Actually, I've only used an outline on a few characters. The rest ... I just knew and didn't need to ask.


1. What is the character’s name?



2. How old are they?



3. Who were their parents?



4. Where were they born? Did anything unusual happen?



5. Where do they live?



6. Are they single?



7. Do they have a job? What is it?



8. What was their childhood like? Are there any brothers or sisters? What is the relationship with siblings?



9. What kinds of relationships does the character have? What kinds of friends? Enemies? Why?



10. Does the character have any bad habits? Sexual appetites?



11. Describe the physical appearance of the character. Skin color? Height? Weight? Physique? Tall or short? Fat or thin or muscular?



12. Hair color? Eye color?



13. Do they have an accent? What kind?



14. How do they walk? (strut? swagger? etc)



15. Does the character have any disabilities? Distinguishing marks? Tattoos? Disfigurements? Why? How did they get these scars?



16. What kind of jewelry or ornamentation does the character wear? Rings, earrings, necklace, medallion or piercing?



17. What class of person is this? Wealthy or poor? Honest or rogue? Soldier or leader? Merchant or laborer? Teacher or student? Highborn or lowborn? Educated or ignorant? Rational or superstitious? Religious or skeptical?



18. What kind of clothing does the character wear? Fancy or plain? Expensive or cheap? Elegant or simple? Describe the clothes.



19. What kind of weapons does this character carry? Why? What do these weapons accomplish? How much training has your character had in the use of these weapons?



20. What powers or abilities does this character have?



21. What’s their best quality?



22. What’s their worst quality?



23. What does your character believe? What does he or she know? What does he or she need to know?



24. What is this character’s weakness? Fatal flaw?



25. What are they afraid of?



26. What makes them angry?



27. What do they dislike?



28. What do they like most?



29. What do they want?



30. What do they need?



31. What do they most need to learn? What do they most need to say? To whom?



32. What’s their worst fear?



33. Do they have any regrets?



34. Do they have any special talents or abilities?



35. What do they dream about?



36. If they could do one thing with their life what would it be?



37. What is the problem? Why is it his or her problem? Why does this problem hurt?



38. What is the essential emotional problem that this character must face and resolve?



39. What one word best sums up their personality?

How to get your novel started Part 4

This is going to be a very long post.

Writing your book

By now you should have your book planned. You should have a working outline and at least some idea of a title. We’ll be discussing:

How to create memorable characters
Setting and description
Transitions

Transitions

Transitions are the key to making your writing flow. They’re what makes your book “readable.” Transitions are words and short phrases which are normally found at the first of a sentence. They are to ensure that the reading experience is smooth and effortless. (Don’t use them too often though, or your editor will kill you. Seriously, they have a dungeon for people who use these words too much.)

Here are some examples:

Furthermore

On the other hand

So

For example

Otherwise

Because

Afterwards

Then

And

But

Basically

Later

While

In the meantime

Nevertheless

Equally

Apart from

Indeed

In fact

In conclusion

While writing, try to use transitions often to help readers follow your train of thought. Notice I used the words “and” and “but”? Forget what you learned in school about never using these words at the start of a sentence. One shows that a further supporting statement is about to be made and another shows that an opposing statement is about to be made. And if anyone doesn’t like it, tell them to see me. Ha. Ha. This goes back to writing like you speak. (As long as every sentence doesn't begin with "and or "but.")

Writing with Flair

Of course, like I’ve already said, the best thing you can do to add flair is to write like you speak. A straight-forward conversational style will ensure that your work reads well. If you’re a good conversationalist, then you’ll probably be a good writer.

Writing this way is also the quickest way to get your book finished. I mean, how many times are you speaking to someone and pause for weeks in between? Never right? If you know what to say, you have less trouble finding how to say it.

Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind as you write:

Try to avoid clich├ęs. These are tired phrases like “he ran like the wind” or “she wiped the floor with him.” They are often seen as lazy writing, simply because they have been used so much. They’re a little bit like the tomatoes you left in the fridge for too long, they’ve lost their freshness. (And could possibly be growing mold.)

Vary the length of your sentences. This is to avoid monotony. You also need to suit the pace and tone of what you’re writing. If you’re writing an action sequence, for example, your sentences should be shorter and more precise. Just like the uppercut your character is about to throw.

In particular avoid long, long, long, long, sentences with lots of commas. Use full stops.

Besides length, vary your sentence construction. Normal sentence structure is subject-verb-object. To maintain pace and readability, it’s best to maintain this most of the time. But sometimes it’s alright to change things around a little.

Avoid repeating a word within a sentence or two. Unless you’re doing this deliberately for effect, it is unpleasant to read. You also don’t want to go overboard trying to avoid using the same word again. For instance, don’t call a cow a bovine quadruped to avoid using the word “cow” again.

Avoid using a long word when you could use a short one instead. Use the longer one if it’s the only one appropriate. This has nothing to do with the intellect of your readers, so don't be offended. Writing simply flows better if it isn't bogged down with lots of loooooong words. I hate to read something where the author obviously threw in a bunch of big words just to make themselves or their point seem more important.

Use adjectives and adverbs sparingly. Adjectives are describing words like hot or cold. Adverbs normally end in “ly” and tell how something is done. (Poorly or splendidly.) For example, instead of saying a vast amount of water, say an ocean. Or instead of she yelled at the top of her lungs, she screamed.

Avoid using old-fashioned words. Even for comic effect. Words like quoth and perchance should only be found in Shakespeare.

Keep punctuation simple. All you should need for the most part are full stops, a few commas, and question marks. When writing for a general audience, most people could give a rip if you know how to properly place a colon or a semi-colon. Some people even find them distracting.

Use figures of speech to bring your writing to life. The best known figures of speech are metaphors and similes. If you can do this with an original flare, it will help the reader to see the character or situation in a whole new light.

With a simile, the comparison should be explicit. No, I don't mean raunchy. A comparison is obviously made.

I like to give unusual similes. Like someone growing on you like a fungus.

Metaphors are used more artfully. They are often referred to as imagery. These figures of speech should evoke vivid images in the reader’s mind.

Here is an example from Red, book one in my Werewolf Hunter Series.

The beautiful summer day had begun to turn as ugly as my mood. Through the doors to the balcony, dark clouds could be seen gathering. Technically, it was still spring, but when the temperature reached nearly eighty degrees every day, I called it summer. That’s the only thing about Florida I wasn’t fond of; I did not deal well with the heat. But, you can’t have everything, and living in the middle of nowhere, with almost no neighbors, I was probably surrounded by some of God’s best art work. As I walked out onto the balcony, surrounded by deep red roses, I marveled at the fact that there were people who did not believe in the existence of a higher power. I watched the storm clouds rumble and swirl, looking like a bruise mingling with the blue of the sky. I had the urge to get a blank canvas and some paint. Yes, God existed, and he was an artist. In my opinion, anyone who doubted that need only watch one sunset. Every day the countryside around me was painted with the same masterful hand in a slightly different portrait.

The first few rain drops began to fall around me, making the roses look like bobbing little red heads as the rain bounced from their petals. I closed my eyes, tilted back my head and let the rain wash away the bad memories.

No, this book isn’t about religion. Lilith just happens to mention her belief in God during this segment. The question is, could you see the rain bouncing off those roses? Could you picture the storm spreading across the sky?

Another quick note: Don’t work too hard to come up with figures of speech. It isn’t worth it. Besides being a waste of time, if the comparison you make isn’t completely obvious, the result could be unintentionally comical.

Similes and metaphors should be used sparingly. But if you come up with a few good ones along the way, they can help to make your words more easily understood and make your book more fun to read.

Tips specifically for fiction writers

Characterization

Characterization goes hand in hand with conflict. These are probably THE most important parts of the story. After all, you can’t have conflict without characters. The reason people enjoy fiction is because at some level we are able to identify with one or more of the characters. You start to put yourself in their shoes and keep reading to see how they work things out.

And if you had characters without a conflict, you’d have a really boring book. Think back to one of those cheesy old scenes in a black and white movie where two characters run toward each other across a field of wildflowers. Boring right? Who are these idiots and why aren’t they having an allergy attack from all the pollen? If everything worked out right and bad things never happened to good people, it would make an extraordinarily dull read.

Everybody wants and occasionally has strokes of good luck. But we also have setbacks. That’s just part of life. And though readers do read to escape reality, you shouldn’t leave it completely behind. Everything doesn’t always go right and this should be true for your characters.

If everything is always perfect in the lives of your characters, readers won’t be able to identify with them and won’t be the slightest bit interested in what happens to them.

Most truly great fictional characters have been flawed in some way. All of them have problems (conflict) and work to overcome them. For fiction to be successful, it is essential to have characters who have flaws as well as strengths and who experience conflicts and failure as well as success.

Character and conflict interweave to form the plot.

Example: Werewolf Hunter Series – Red

Lilith Mercury is a werewolf Hunter who is not exactly human. Marco Barak is an alpha werewolf looking to change people’s perceptions of his kind, and snag a new alpha female in the process. After a passionate encounter in his club one night, Lilith can no longer deny her attraction to the wolfman. Her job is to kill him, but it breaks her heart to think of causing him harm. Once The Wizard Council agrees to hear Marco’s proposal for the enactment of the werewolf code, things might change, not only for werewolves, but for Lilith. Soon they will both discover that anything worth having is worth fighting for.

PLOT SPRINGS FROM CHARACTER

So, how are you supposed to create these memorable characters from which your plot develops? First, you need to get to know them and I suggest doing so before you start writing. You need to know what makes them tick, their strengths and weaknesses, background, hobbies, etc.

Picture someone in your mind, a character perhaps. Not a celebrity or someone you know, but someone you’ve made up. If you don’t have anyone in mind, then make someone up right now. I’ve found that it’s easier to write in response to a question, so I've got an exercise to help you develop your character.

The exercise will follow this section in the next post.

If you do this exercise, by the time you get to the end, you should feel like you’re getting to know this character. Some of the questions may not apply to your character and that’s fine. This is just to help you get an idea of who they are. You don’t have to know the answer to every question and some of them will even be answered as you write the story.

Now think of a problem this person would want to avoid more than anything. It could be based on their worst fear or their dislikes. Think how the person involved would attempt to resolve the situation. What would they do and what would be the consequences of their actions?

The better you know the characters, the easier the outline and the story will be to write. If you are familiar with your character’s personalities and backgrounds, any one of these can be used to create conflict.

Creating well-rounded life-like characters is important. You might want to complete the questionnaire for all of the characters in your book.

Keep in mind that for your book to be successful, the main character or characters must also be someone readers will find likeable, at least on some level.

Here are some more ideas for creating likeable and memorable characters.

1. Show their softer side – have them do something kind.

2. Make them the underdog – people always root for the underdog, so make the odds stacked against them.

3. Put them in big trouble – the more trouble your character is in, the more the audience will be drawn in.

4. Make them good at what they do – even if they are an assassin, let them take pride in it. (maybe even be the best in the business)

5. Give them a dark past – this could tie into their regrets. We’ve all done things that we regret, having this in a character also makes them easier to identify with.

6. Give them a sense of humor – this not only makes the story easier to read, but makes the characters more believable. They don’t have to be a comedian, they just need to not always take themselves so seriously.

7. Give them flaws – real people cannot identify with perfect people. Give them a drinking problem or a fear of heights … something to overcome.

8. Give them someone to love – it could be a lover or their child, or even their dog. But everyone, no matter how bad they may be, needs someone to love. Yes, this applies even if you’re not writing a love story.

9. Let them have something in common with the reader – this could be a nosy neighbor or a boss who’s a jerk. Just as long as it’s something that a lot of people can identify with.

10. Make them rebels – this goes along with being the underdog, just do it with attitude.

Of course, you don’t need to use all of these for every character, but you should use some to make the characters easy to identify with and realistic.

Show, don’t tell

I didn’t invent this phrase. It’s used in lots of writing classes. And it’s probably the best piece of advice I can give you.

Don’t just tell them what’s going on in a scene. Describe it. Show it to them. Try to think of your novel as a movie. Rather than just telling your audience what happens, show it to them in a few vividly portrayed scenes.

Show scenes through the eyes of a viewpoint character.

Don’t include asides which can only come from the author.

Have as much dialogue and action as possible.

Keep reportage and reminiscence (flash backs) to a minimum.

Write most of your story in the character’s presence.

Avoid having characters tell one another about events – if it’s important show it happening instead.

Why the words you choose are so important

People don’t just want to see your world. They want to hear it, feel it. They want to take in the sights, taste the food, hear the music. They want to be able to feel the changes in temperature and observe the animals.

If you can’t describe the place like you’ve been there, the reader will know the difference. They can only get as deep into the story as you do.

Setting and description

Try to include these in the dialogue. Blend them into the narrative. Avoid a three page description of a dirt road. (Seriously, I read that once.) Rather than stop a story in its tracks to provide a full description of the setting, give a few well chosen details and let the reader fill in the rest for themselves.

The character outline can be found in the next post:) I may have to do that one tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Do you ever feel like your head might explode?

Well, lately I've experienced it more than once. Besides the normal things going on home, family, a yard that desperately needs tending, I'm preparing for a new business venture. Frankly, it's a little bit scary. I'm planning to *gasp* self-publish a book.

I know, I know. When I got my first book published I was offended every time someone asked me, "How much did it cost to get published?" I'd say something to the effect, "Not a damn thing. I submitted my work to a publisher, not a vanity press."

It really pissed me off that they would even ask. (Don't hit me, I'm only being honest.) For many years, I felt that self-publishing was the kiss of death. Basically, I thought it meant you sucked as a writer and couldn't get anyone to publish your work.

Needless to say, things have changed in the publishing industry and so have my opinions. One thing that really began to open my eyes was, I realized that a lot of what's out there in mass market sucks. Ha. Ha. Ha. Seriously, I've read some major crap with big publishing houses.

Not only that, I've read some really good stuff that was self-published. I've done hours of research (and continue to do research) on publishing with Amazon Kindle. I've also discovered that people aren't turning up their noses nearly as much at self-published authors.

Self-publishing used to bring to mind bad cover art and poorly edited books. Now, many authors are hiring artists or doing the work themselves, having writing partners (or a hired editor) look over their work, and releasing the books themselves. Some with raging success.

Do I expect to be a "raging success?" Of course I do! If you're going to dream, dream big. Do I think it will magically happen? No, and I don't want to trade any cows for beans. I work. I work HARD. I spend hours and hours (like 80 a week sometimes) learning how to market my books.

Besides that, I'm good at what I do. I don't say that full of pride or thinking that I'm "the shit." I take editor's opinions to heart and I learn from them. Same goes for readers. I pay attention and continue to improve my craft. Does that mean I'm perfect? Certainly not. But, every book I write gets better and better. Of that I'm certain. I look at my books as a product. It is my goal to reach as many readers as possible with a quality product. As stated above, I've read plenty of crap to recognize it when I see it. And my stuff isn't crap.

With all those things in mind, I'm currently working on a book that I plan to offer on Amazon Kindle very soon. I'm about halfway finished with the story. After that, I plan to thoroughly edit the work myself (I've gotten pretty good at that) before having my lovely and talented editing partner go over it too.

Am I nervous? Sure. But I figure, what have I got to lose? Uploading a book to Amazon Kindle (after it's properly formatted, of course) doesn't cost a thing.

I don't believe that "raging success" will happen over night. I've often heard that persistence trumps talent. Well, I'm hard working and I believe I have talent. I have no doubt that eventually, "success" will follow.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

How to get your novel started Part 3

Ideas for your book.

By now you should have decided what you want to write about. Maybe you even have a title in mind. But if you don’t right now, don’t worry about it.

Let’s get right to it. If you’re going to write a novel, you need a plot. The plot is what keeps us turning the pages. However, you can’t just throw together any series of events and expect it to keep people interested.

A plot must meet two major requirements.

1. The events must be linked in some way. They don’t necessarily have to be predictable, but they should follow a logical order. And of course, they should be significant in some way to the lives of your characters.

2. Readers must care about how the events in the story are going to turn out. If your story doesn’t grab the reader’s attention and make them want to turn the page, they aren’t going to keep reading. A good plot creates characters readers can identify with and care about. It also puts those characters to the test.

There are four basic components to every plot.

Characters

Conflict

Crisis

Change

Well, obviously you need characters. Ideally you should have two or more characters readers can relate to and care about. Otherwise, they won’t keep turning the pages.

Conflict is probably the most important thing in the story. Because without conflict, there is no story. Conflict is the force that drives fiction.

Conflict normally gives rise to crisis. This is the dramatic high point in the story and the point everything else revolves around.

Finally, there has to be change. If your characters are not changed by the experience then why should we read about it and more importantly, why are you writing about it?

Whatever you chose as your conflict should be significant. If this is not the most dangerous or challenging aspect of the character’s life thus far, then why should anyone care?

Simply start with a character, give them a problem and show what happens when they try to solve it.

Brainstorming

Set aside about 15 minutes to work on this. (This is my favorite writing exercise.)

Choose your topic and write it in the middle of the page or you can start in columns if you like. Write down any ideas that are relevant to your subject. My brainstorm for my first book looked like a storm. Ha. Ha. Ha. But from that storm came my first book and many sequels.

This leads to your outline

Why do you need an outline?

1. It will help you to cover all the topics you meant to include. This will keep you from getting to the end and realizing you left out a key point.

2. An outline can also help you determine which order or the best order to cover topics. (Remember what I said in Part 1, this is only a guideline. You don't have to follow it strictly.)

3. By creating an outline, you will save a lot of time in the writing itself.

Outline your book first and write it second.

Decide the number of chapters your book should have. (These numbers are only a rough "average." This is to give you a basic idea of your goal.)

Average

Literary Novel 36-44

Fantasy 35-40

Horror 35-40

Kids 9-12 12-15

Young Adult 18-20

Sci-fi 30-32

Mystery 28-32

Romance 18-24


How many pages per chapter? My chapters are typically 10 pages long. This is mostly just so I can keep up with where I’m at and know when to start a new chapter.


Writing Exercise #2

Freewriting. Close your eyes and point to three random words. Next, write about them for five minutes. Begin writing anything inspired by these three words. Relax and don’t analyze. Just write what comes to mind. Don’t worry about grammar, spelling, or punctuation. Just keep writing until the time is up.

Rose

Apple

Reindeer

Shark

Spider

Princess

House

Book

Elf

Cheese

Horse

Skull

Witch

Lingerie

Candle

Fish

Dead Body

Forrest

Black hat

Severed Head

Star

Wrinkles

Flowers

Baby

Acid

Moon

Vampire

Done? Put down your pen and read what you’ve written. This is just to show you that you can write. I’m sure you’ll notice some grammar and punctuation errors, but how many people are impressed with their ideas? This is a good exercise to get your creative juices flowing.

I don’t believe in writer’s block. There is no such thing. But life does happen. This can help you focus on your writing again instead of whatever else you might have on your mind.

Now, take these random thoughts from our brainstorming activity and start putting together your outline.

Your outline doesn’t have to be long. It can be only one page or it can fill up a whole notepad. It all depends on what you want to cover.

In between now and the next section, continue to work on your outline. Within one week you should have your book pretty much planned.