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Showing posts from September, 2013

My Editing Process

My editor recently returned my manuscript with her markups. She uses both Track Changes and Comments. I dread using the Track Changes option, but I’ve learned a few shortcuts, and I wrote about them a while back. Looking at a 355 page manuscript full of markups and marginal notes is daunting. However, since I wrote the book one word, one scene, one chapter at a time, I tackle my edits the same way, but I prioritize the types of edits and deal with one category at a time. First, I scroll through the manuscript taking care of all the obvious fixes. My editor will make changes in formatting—she might break a paragraph into two, or combine two into one. Sometimes she’ll add italics, or change a word. These are usually straightforward, and I accept almost all of them. As I go down the comments, I’m not re-reading the manuscript, but simply hopping from one change to the next. I’ll look at the suggestion in context, but generally these are grammatical, so I don’t need to read more th

The Power of Free with Polly Iyer

In January of 2012, after two years represented by an agent, I self-published three mystery/thrillers on Amazon’s KDP Select program. That month, I sold 38 books for a grand total of $82, one in the UK. Wow, I was an international seller. That meant 39 people besides friends and critique partners read my books. Since then, I’ve sold many more. A few free days during the first part of the year garnered enough reviews for the promo sites to feature me, a key in selling. The biggest free promo site then and now is EReader News Today . In July, 2012, they featured Murder Déjà Vu , and that’s when everything changed. The book totaled 37,000 downloads and sold, with borrows, 1800 units. Mind Games got a bump because the first chapter is at the end of MDV. In August, Hooked earned the reviews for an ENT feature. Results: 44,200 downloads, and it sold, are you ready, 3500 books/borrows. Murder Déjà vu continued selling with over 1100 copies sold. It was the best month ever. I

Free E-book Experiences with Jinx Schwartz

Thanks for hosting me today, Dani. I'd like to share with you today my FREE day results over the past year, but first here's how I got there: Wrote some books, self-published them, got picked up by a small publishing house, then decided to go indie. Simple, huh? Not so much. Back before Kindle Direct Publishing and Createspace , self-pubbing wasn't all that easy. Sure you ended up with a book to show off, but without good distribution and a publisher to help successfully hawk your wares (thus the split with my publisher) all you end up with is a closet full of books you lug around to book signings. But then a miracle occurred: Kindle Direct Publishing Select, and with it a chance to get your books out there. Of course by now I had re-re-re-edited my books into what many consider a good read, so that helps. No matter how much you spend on publicity, or how much social media you ascribe to, if you don't have a well-written and edited book to offer your read

Sense of an Ending

At the conclusion of your exciting tale, most readers are rooting for a happily ever after ending. They want the bad guy punished, the good guy rewarded, and the lovers to be in love. Sometimes that tidy ending just isn’t where the story should go. Should you change it to conform or end it the way you feel deep in your gut it should end?  Some genres have specific expectations. A Romance should end happily. A Mystery should be solved. Beyond that, the resolution of your story can be a little more creative. Every story has a central question. Will the protagonist succeed in his overall story goal? There are multiple answers. 1) Yes.   Dick succeeds and there is no gray area. The plot is tied up in a neat little bow and there are no unanswered questions. Dick feels good about it. This is an up ending. Readers love up endings. 2) No.   Dick fails and feels bad about it. He fought tirelessly, but in the end couldn’t win. This is a down ending. Readers usually hate do

An Interview with Children’s Writer Amanda Litz

Interviewed by Linda Lane Amanda Litz has had a passion for storytelling for as long as she can remember. Being one of four children and having four children of her own, she knows how hard it can be for kids to find their place in the family and the world. For her, it is a dream come true to write and publish her own children’s books. Have you always been an avid reader, Amanda? I read whenever I get a chance between the kids, the dog, my husband, and work. However, I didn't like to read as a child, and I was 14 before I really started to enjoy reading books. When did you begin writing? I wrote my first book, The Traveler's Trunk: Pirate’s Treasure , in 2008 (published in 2009). Why did you choose to write children’s books? It’s more like children’s books chose me. The first book I wrote was based on a bedtime story I used to tell my kids. They begged me to write it down for years, so I finally did. Do you have a goal when writing your books? I like to

Grab Your Reader With the Five Senses

In any writing—non-fiction as well as fiction—try to use all five senses in telling your story. It will help to put your reader right THERE. Those five senses are: • Sight • Sound • Smell • Taste • Touch Sight is probably the easiest and most commonly used of the senses. And it is great to use colors and word pictures to make us “see” a scene. Use specifics: instead of saying “colorful flowers,” use “the delphinium’s bursts of magenta and blue” OR “the show-stopping red hollyhock blossoms.” But close your eyes and try to describe the scene with one or more of your other senses. Smell is perhaps the strongest sense of them all and certainly evokes the deepest memories and feelings. “My first boyfriend smelled like sawdust and Necco wafers.” Or “the potent brew of flowers, cigarettes and something musty I couldn’t identify.” Sound : How can you put the reader into this scene? Birds chirping, flowing water in a creek, the rustle of wind in the trees. What picture does t

Profiling Your Villain

When you’re writing the first draft of your Fantasy novel, it’s perfectly acceptable to characterize your primary villain simply as a Nasty Piece of Work. In the next draft, however, when you’re trying to iron out all the wrinkles in the story, you may find it useful to delve into your villain’s personal background. If (as is often the case) the villain is the primum mobile of the plot, you owe it to yourself to explore what makes him 1 tick. He Has Arrived by DoodleDeMoon , Flickr It may be helpful to bear in mind there was a time when your villain was potentially an Everyman. To discover what he was like at this stage of his existence, start with what your villain is like NOW and work backward until you arrive at the moment where, confronted by a crucial moral choice, this otherwise “ordinary” individual crossed a line and embarked on a path of no return. This reconstruction impels you to look your villain as a fully rounded character, and this knowledge can help you for

Playing the Review Game

Reviews. Ten people can read the same book and you can have 10 different opinions. (This happens all the time at my book club.) Writers obsess about the 'bad' ones, and rejoice in the good ones. Is it worth caring? To a degree, yes. Why? Reviews—whether positive or not-so-great—get your book noticed. Amazon's algorithms start picking up books that have around 40 reviews (and here, it's simply quantity , not quality ). Other promotional opportunities are open only to books that have a minimum number of 4 or 5 star reviews. That number is often 20 or more. It becomes a Catch 22. You can't get promoted to garner the reviews until you have the reviews. So, how do you get them? In my indie books, I include a short paragraph after "the end" telling readers that if they enjoyed the book, a short review would be appreciated. Does it work? Maybe. It's impossible to know whether people would have left a review anyway, or if that request gave the nudge they

Put Your Readers in the Mood

Image courtesy of stock.xchng Hello, dearies! Your Style Maven is feeling especially pleased today; there was just enough rain to call for unfurling the lovely new umbrella, but not enough to cause the dreaded frizzies. Balance in all things, you know. Let’s look at moods today, shall we? While writing can be dark and serious or light and humorous, the word mood (or mode , in some cases) means something entirely different in the Chicago Manual of Style. Rather than feelings, a mood here refers to verbs expressing action. First up, we have the indicative mood. The most common, this is quite simply a verb telling it like it is. These are the shoes that I bought today. In addition to stating a fact, the indicative mood can also ask a question. Are they available in leopard print? Next, there’s everyone’s favorite, the imperative mood. Verbs disguised as divas, if you will. Don’t even think about wearing that shirt with that skirt. In addition to commands, an impe

A Real Writer

A friend once emailed me with a question about writing. She felt overwhelmed because suddenly she had too many story ideas and didn’t know which ones to write first.   Does this happen to me, she asked, explaining that she asked me because I was a “real writer.” She’s not sure she warrants that title yet, because if she did, maybe she’d know which story should be next. My answer to “does this happen to me?” was a resounding “yes.” Currently I have nine books in the idea stage that I want to get to – someday. Some of them are more fleshed out than others. Some I know will never actually get written, because I have a limited time to walk the earth, and more stories and book ideas keep popping in and shoving older ideas out of line. The thing about creativity is that once you open the gate to your creative self, ideas will pour through like surf-boarders riding rushing waves.  This is a good thing, and many of those ideas are transformational and wonderful. Some of them are bla

Back in the Saddle Again

Aka Back in the Computer Chair Again Western Saddle by ScotSXC Summer vacations are over (I say as look out on the Gulf of Mexico from a south Florida beach), the kids have gone back to school, and it’s time to get back to that unfinished book (not to imply that summertime activities aren’t work — they’re just different work). Okay, maybe your summer didn’t go quite that way. Still, the season’s changed routine often plays havoc with a writer’s schedule — especially if that writer has children at home or grandchildren who come to visit, to say nothing of also holding down a part-time or fulltime job. For those of us who exchanged the rigors of daily writing for fun in the sun (or some variation thereof), we may find our neglected manuscripts crying out for attention. So this isn’t a complaint about disrupted writing times, but rather a discussion of how to get back in the groove. One of the best places to start is a total reread of the manuscript. It’s amazing how many detail

Using MetaTags

If you want readers to find your self-published work, you need to know about Metadata. Wondering what metadata is? It’s keywords that drive searches. When someone is searching for your book, say on Google, they enter phrases or words. It could be your name or book title, but it could also be something like “sci-fi historical romance.” If you know your audience, you can determine what your meta tagwords are. Carla King, the author of an article, “ A Self-Publisher’s Guide to Metadata for Books ,” takes you through providing the metadata for your book. The article, though written three years ago, is still relevant. She covers these topics: Identifying Your Keywords Provide Metadata for Your Book on Bowker Metadata in Documents and Other Media Metadata on Reseller Sites Metadata on Social Media Sites The Future of Metadata It’s a very interesting article – worth reading and saving for future reference. Using metadata points readers to your book. How many of you use me

Sandwiching the Layers Part 2

We have developed forty conflict ideas and layered the first half of the story. Let’s finish the process. We left off at turning point 2. Now the hero must come up with the correct solution to the problem, the one he resisted at first: blow the meteor up. Internal Conflict 6 : Dick finds Sally packing her bags.      Dick says, "Don’t leave. I love you. I’ve always loved you."       She replies, "Then why are you ruining things?"             Should he tell? Is it better for her to know or not know that their days are numbered? Antagonist 7 : Dick confronts Ted.       "You had something to do with this."      "You’ll never prove it and in a few days it won’t matter anyway." External 7 : They are back to the drawing board - all seems lost. They enter countdown mode.  Internal Conflict 7 : Sally tells Dick that she received a call from Ted and that he said there was no reason for Dick to stay at work. That he is lying

Cartooning the Journey of Writing with Bitstrips

One of my favorite apps in Facebook has also become one in which I get to poke fun at some of the angst involved in the writing journey: Bitstrips . For those not on Facebook, Bitstrips also has a Website . Bitstrips allows you to create an avatar of yourself and then place that avatar in comic strips, either alone or with friends. You can decide on the look of your avatar, from hair and smile to clothes and shoes, and you can select from a variety of situations to place your avatar. Here I am as an avatar. Initially, most of my strips were about life experiences and events, but then I began to poke fun at my journey as a writer, bringing along my friend and fellow writer, Makasha Dorsey . Most of the strips now focus on "accountability": Makasha checking on me and my writing (or lack thereof) and vice versa. The strips are meant for fun, and they often receive great comments and notice from fellow writers. For me, the strips keep me writing (in some form), allow m

Top Three PR Moves Authors Should Make

This month, I'm giving the blog floor to friend, author, and public relations and business development consultant, Makasha Dorsey. Makasha Dorsey, managing partner of the Dorsey Group, is a public relations and business development consultant with more than 15 years experience in implementing communications strategies. With a keen talent for relationship building, Makasha creates alliances with thought leaders to get her clients the exposure they need. As a former Atlanta-based, public relations executive, Makasha wrote copy for various entertainment websites and worked on projects for LaFace Records, Coca-Cola, New York Life Insurance, and DARP Studios. Dorsey has cultivated relationships in collegiate sports, the publishing industry (books, music and film), information technology, and various media outlets. Her client roster includes award-winning singers, musicians, and producers, highly sought after public speakers and writers. ||||| I went to Makasha about a week o

Countdown to a Book 12: A Question of Book Trailers

One side effect of having a long countdown to release is the leisure to obsess about certain aspects of the book business. One thing I debated about long and hard was whether to make a book trailer. Concept  My first thought was an enthusiastic yes. I’d not only have a book, but a mini-movie! I became a trailer fanatic, watching still pictures float past while excerpts were read off-screen. Lines from the book materialized on screen while music played. Actors played out scenes, bits were animated, characters drawn. I started to envision the dancer in my novel moving in a way that caused a blur— Wait. If I wanted to use a visual, why a blur? That’s when I realized I didn’t want a real woman in my book trailer. Because my novel is on the theme of body image, I had skirted physical description of my protagonist. I wanted my readers to fill in that blank with an image that worked for them. Execution With filming a real dancer off the table, my first thought was to make the trailer

Sandwiching the Layers Part 1

We have come up with ten basic ideas for all four layers of conflict. You may find you need to add more scenes to fill in the gaps in the story. You may change your mind about elements of the plot. The point is to have a series of prompts that keeps you working through your rough draft. You can tweak and enrich the draft during the revision layers. Things will come to you as you write that you didn’t think of before. Your characters will come alive and may change the trajectory of your story. That’s expected. What’s important is to avoid getting stuck in the muddy middle. Let’s layer the forty scene ideas we've developed in the most logical order. Internal Conflict 1 : Dick and Sally make plans to go on a long-awaited vacation. He gets a call. External Conflict 1 : Dick learns a meteor will strike.  Antagonist Conflict 1 : Ted learns there is a meteor headed toward earth. Finally, the world can be destroyed and he doesn’t have to lift a finger. All he has to do is sit b