Announcement, Marketing, Self-Publishing, Success Mindset, Work In Progress, Writer's Life, Writing Advice

AMAZING DEAL: ProWritingAid

So, my amazing contact at ProWritingAid emailed me yesterday to say how glad she was that the giveaway went so well, and she wanted to thank all of you for participating with such enthusiasm so…

She is hooking you up!!

One of my goals when I started this whole indie journey was that I wanted to one day be able to help other indies along their path, and I am honored to be doing that with ProWritingAid at my side! (I cannot tell you enough how much I love them.)

So… without further adieu, let’s get to the amazingness. It’s time for you to see for yourselves why it is I can’t stop singing PWA’s praises, and it’s also time to save a little cash.

So claim your subscription for 50% off!!

Want to try ProWritingAid_

Click the picture above to take you to ProWritingAid and get started on improving your writing. (Again, coupon code is: AILA502018) This is a heck of a deal, especially if you’ve had your eye on that LIFETIME membership!

And, if you haven’t already…

Please hit that subscribe button for my blog and consider signing up for my newsletter.

I plan on continuing my relationship with amazing resources like ProWritingAid and building on other relationships as well, with the intention of bringing you fabulous offers and giveaways like this.

To my current (and future) subscribers: Thank you for taking the time to check in and participate in my shenanigans events and for all the kinship and camaraderie. I just love each and every one of you!

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Self-Publishing, Tips

Writing With Pitches

Writing With Pitches

Happy Monday! If, you know, there is such a thing.

I hope you all enjoyed my Writer Resources series. There may be a few more I add at some point, but my research on them is, as of right now, incomplete. If you haven’t checked those posts out, here’s a list of the resources I covered:

Trello
Wix
SkillShare
Marketing Edition
ProWritingAid
Legal Stuff

So, what’s this writing with pitches thing? I’m no baseball fan—much to my Braves fanatic husband’s chagrin—but I encountered a problem in my own writing this week and I found myself naming the solution with baseball terms.

I have no idea why. Seriously…I don’t do sports.

Except bowling, apparently.

As I relay this rather odd mashup of baseball and writing, the pitcher will be the writer and the hitter will be the reader. I will be the one gritting my teeth and hoping that any of this makes the least bit of sense.

The Change Up

In baseball, the change up pitch is thrown in such a way that the hitter thinks the pitcher has thrown a fastball, but really it reaches the plate rather slowly.

Change up_

The main goal of a writer is to engage readers, and predictability doesn’t exactly get the job done. Done the right way, though, you can lead your reader to think that one thing is going to happen, but then blow their mind and give them something else.

Not all that long ago on this blog we discussed tropes. Tropes lend some predictability to your stories, which isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the world. Romance readers want to see certain tropes, but imagine shaking things up just a little bit and giving them a moment that makes them gasp.

The Fast Ball

The fastball is pretty self-explanatory. It’s fast.

Fastball_One thing you might want to check the speed of in your story is pacing. Pacing can be difficult to get right, because while you don’t want it too slow, you also don’t want it too fast. The slower paced moments allow your reader to totally indulge in the emotions you endeavor to evoke or to take a breather after intense, fast paced sections.

What I am referring to as the fast ball is getting from one point in the story to the next by skipping the unnecessary bits in the middle. This might require a scene break or it might require recapitulation of the behind-the-scenes events.

Example 1:

Lucas hung his head as the clock ticked closer to the time his wife would come home. He’d fixed her dinner, bought her flowers, and even changed his shirt after work—something she’d cited as one of the many things she wished he’d do…and she’d cited it many times. The garage opened, and Lucas went through the motions, disinterested in eating but he was a man of his word. He knew they’d argue—again—afterward.

♦♦♦

“Thanks for dinner,” Tracy said. “But it doesn’t change anything. We didn’t solve anything this morning. And today, she called my office! Your whore. How do you think that makes me feel? Just when I think I can deal with this…I just can’t.”

In this example, we took the fast lane approach to their dinner. It wasn’t important to the story. Ironically, the dinner wasn’t the meat and potatoes of it. So, why waste three-hundred words on something that will likely bore your readers?

Example 2:

If we had decided not to skip the dinner scene, maybe we could recap it instead. That might’ve looked something like this:

It was just as he suspected: Tracy came home and dropped her keys before walking past him with nary a word. Her perfume stood in the doorway longer than she did. They ate, looking at anything than the other. The clink of their forks against their plates replaced the loving words they used to share. The quiet would last only as long as the potatoes.

It was no mistake he’d made so many.

So, if while you’re revising, you find you have some slower passages that aren’t giving you the desired effect, try tossing in a fastball.

The Knuckle Ball

The knuckle ball is thrown for unpredictability. The hitter has very little idea whichKnuckleball direction the ball is going to go, thus making it difficult for the hitter to decide how to swing.

The trick as a writer when deciding to write in your own type of knuckle ball is that you need to know where the ball (plot) is going to go. You may want to work up to a climax that has the reader guessing—maybe there are three people you want your reader wondering about when they’re trying to determine who the killer is.

Of course, you’ll want to weave in some subtle clues.

This was one of the pitches I threw into Alabama Rain recently. I found myself hating the words I was tacking on for a couple of days.

I am one of those writers who goes back and rereads the last day’s work before I get started on a new day’s work…and I couldn’t pinpoint what the problem was at first, but when it got to the point where I just couldn’t keep writing in the direction I was going, I knew I needed to backtrack and toss in knuckle ball and a change up.

Afterwards, the words flowed freely, and I was happy with them again.

Unlike in baseball, in writing we want these pitches to result in a home run for our readers. Can you think of any other names of pitches and how they might be a metaphor for writing? If you have any ideas to contribute, I’d be tickled pink.

Before we go, I’d just like to remind you that while my writer’s resources series may be over (for now) my giveaway for a year’s subscription to ProWritingAid and a $15 Amazon gift card is still going!

img_3242

Have a wonderful week, my friends!


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Writer Resources: Marketing Edition

WR_ Marketing

I wasn’t supposed to blog about this today. I had intended on blogging about another resource, but as I was writing it, I realized I didn’t quite have enough information and it felt incomplete. So, here goes plan B.

It’s a three-fer.

The resources I’m introducing you to tonight will help as you dive into the wonderful world of marketing. [enter gagging sound]

Pexels

Cost: Free
Pros: Free High-Quality Stock Photos
Cons: Limited library
Ease of Use: If you can use Google, you can use Pexels
Website: http://www.Pexels.com

Pexels

This is pretty straight-forward. You enter a search term and you surf for images. Sometimes when you search for something, there will be pages upon pages of images to choose from…other times there will be only a few.

There is a sister site that advertises at the bottom, often times with nicer pictures you can purchase. My advice, though, is always search for free images before you decide to purchase. Especially on things such as a graphic for Twitter or Instagram. Save your picture budget for photo covers or paid advertising.

Let’s pretend I’m making some materials for Alabama Rain, and I’ll look up pictures of barns.

barns

Now, let’s say I want the bottom left-hand barn. I click it, and then what?

No attribution
There are a few things I want you to pay attention to after you’ve clicked on the photo and before you click the free download button.

Check to make sure the photo is okay to use for commercial use.

Check whether attribution is required.

Don’t be that person who uses an image you aren’t supposed to. You wouldn’t want someone to replicate or use part of your work without permission.

If the photo requires attribution, give it.

Now, do you see the down arrow to the right of the Free Download button? Hover over it and you’ll see a drop down menu.

Choose A Size
You can choose from several sizes or create a custom size if that works best for you.

Outside of this, there’s not a whole lot more to tell about Pexels.

Are you a photographer? You can also share your photos on Pexels to help other creatives.

So, now you’ve got your image, but what are you going to do with it?

Pixlr Editor

Cost: Free
Pros: Fairly powerful web-based image editor
Cons: Takes a little time to learn, sort of mimics Photoshop
Ease of Use: If you can use Photoshop, this is easy to learn, not for beginners
Website: http://Pixlr.com/editor

Pixlr

Create
The first thing you want to do is create a new image.

New Image
Name your image and give it some parameters.

A lot of people guess what their size should be or they aren’t concerned about it at all and think the platform they upload it to will automatically convert it…this isn’t always the case.

A simple Google search can tell you what size to make your image based on what you’re creating it for.

New Image AR

These parameters and file name can be changed if needed.

Anyway, let’s see what we can accomplish fairly simply with our barn image and some of Pixlr’s capabilities.

Here are just a few of the options and tools in the Pixlr arsenal:

 

As you can see, if you are familiar with Photoshop, there are a lot of similarities. Now, if there is any lingering interest in learning more about Pixlr, you’d do well to look up some tutorials on YouTube, though if you shoot me a message, I’ll do my best to help you.

So, what was I able to make really quickly in Pixlr with that image we got from Pexels?

The before:agriculture-barn-clouds-248832

The after:
New Barn

Not bad for about fifteen minutes.

PlaceIt

Cost: Varies
Pros: Simple, easy to use, takes little to no effort.
Cons: Could do this on your own if you learn Photoshop (Not necessarily Pixlr)
Website: http://www.PlaceIt.net

PlaceIt

Get ready to settle into your desk chair or couch, because if you’re anything like me you are going to find yourself obsessively searching through these mockups.

omg.PNG

SO. MANY. OPTIONS.

undone

While I was looking through the above page, this picture jumped out at me.

I hadn’t planned on actually creating a mockup for this post, but this one wanted me to. It practically whispered at me to announce my second summer project. So, this is a surprise even to me, but here goes nothing.

Within just a few clicks and uploading a few images I had a really nice little image for marketing. (Seriously, this took only about two minutes to upload all the images, crop them, and download it.)

Sure, I could probably make something similar in Photoshop with a little time and a lot more effort, but for $8.00? Think of all the time you could save making things like this and actually writing. Without further adieu, let’s see what two minutes and eight bucks got me:

placeit (1).png

That’s right, it’s time to release the prequel novelette I’ve had stashed on my hard drive for about two years. I’ll be doing this sometime this summer, after it’s all edited and polished. 🙂

That’s all I’ve got for you today, my friends. I hope these resources will help you along your marketing journey! Have something you’d like to share with the class? Please tell me all about it in the comments!

Sometime before this series is over, I’ll be revisiting marketing resources and giving you a glimpse of how I put together my book trailers.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

I know I’m not scheduled to write another blog post this week, but I’m doing something for myself on Wednesday, and I am going to be publishing an extra post on Thursday to tell you all about it.

Be sure to check it out because I’m also going to announce the super-awesome-mega-amazing giveaway that is accompanying this series. Trust me when I say, you are not going to want to miss out on this one.

Until Thursday, lovely people!


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Self-Publishing, Tips, Work In Progress, Writer's Life, Writing Advice

Let’s Talk: Character Building

Character Building“If you treat your characters like people, they’ll reward you by being
fully developed individuals.”
Don Roff

Happy Monday, y’all! I hope, unlike me, you had a spectacular weekend. I did manage to add a few thousand words to my manuscript for Alabama Rain, but even doing so I know I’m behind on my goals for it. Being behind is no reason to give up, though!

I had a shortlist of things I wanted to blog about today, so how did I pick the winner? How did we land on character building, you ask. Because it’s a thing I’ve seen popping up in several book reviews lately.  (Luckily not of my own.) There seems to have been a shift away from character building, and lots of reviewers are pointing it out.

DNF, too many flat characters.

I couldn’t keep reading, because the characters were so underdeveloped.

The author didn’t give me anyone to root for or against.

These are just a few examples of the reviews I’ve seen lately for books I’ve been interested in reading. I don’t always pay attention to reviews, but when one book gets multiple reviews like that, it makes me reconsider.

So let’s do something to prevent the continuation of that cycle.

Let’s talk about the six areas you need to consider about your characters so by the time your readers get hold of them, they’re reading stories about believable fictional folk and not just…mannequins with dialogue.

Growth (1)
Let’s be honest, it’s next to impossible to get the amount of physical descriptions just right for every single one of your readers. Therefore, I offer you no such advice here. Your beta readers will probably let you know if you’ve gone too far on either end of the spectrum.

When describing your character’s face or body, it might be helpful to you to look at pictures of people who look similar to the way the character looks in your mind…but don’t just describe the color of their hair or eyes, though. Literature is littered with women who have flowing blonde hair and men who have piercing blue eyes.

These cliche descriptors are completely forgettable. Instead, give your readers something they’ll remember. For instance, in Alabama Rain, one of my characters has an ear that was half-chewed off by a dog…that’s not likely something my readers are going to forget.

Does your character have a tattoo? Of what, where, and was it botched?
What about that birthmark?
Surgical scars?
An amputation?

Challenge yourself to go beyond just brown hair and pale skin.

Another thing to remember about physical descriptions: Make them organic. Don’t plop your character down in front of a mirror and have them dictate every nuance of their own face to the reader. Unless this person is a model who is having their makeup done before a runway show…most people do not do this.

 

Growth (2)

I don’t recall the exact source, but I remember hearing a piece of writing advice a while back that said if a character is worthy of a name, they’re worthy of a backstory.

This is so true. Does this mean you have to write out a lengthy paragraph or two detailing every named character’s life?

Absolutely not. But, just because you aren’t going to include it in your manuscript, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a general idea of what they’ve gone through, what shaped and molded them into who they are in your story.

Knowing your character’s backstories will help you navigate the actual story for them. If someone nearly drowned as a child, are they going to hesitate when crossing the raging waters of a river? Probably.

• Was your character bullied in school? That’s going to affect them!
• Were your character’s parents alcoholics? That’s going to affect them!
• Did their dog get kidnapped and held for ransom? That’s going to affect them!
• Did your character win a slew of pageants? That’s probably going to affect them!

We’re all products of our pasts, so you need to give your characters one. It will guide you when you have to make decisions for them.

How do you do this, you ask? How much should you know? That depends on how vital the character is. If they only appear in a few chapters, you might get by with a paragraph or two. If it’s a primary character, you should probably be able to talk about them like you’ve been acquainted for a long time.

 

Emotional

Your character’s starting emotional health is directly affected by their backstory, so now that you’ve fleshed that out, you will have a better grip on what they’re like emotionally at their introduction.

It’s important to know so you’ll be able to write how they react emotionally to the piles of heartache you’ll shovel onto them. If it is inconsistent with who they are, your readers are going to point this out. For consistency’s sake, don’t skimp on learning their emotional state.

• Is your character hot-headed? Then would they really sit idly by as someone berates them? Probably not.
• Is your character afraid of conflict? Then would they really lash out at a teacher because they scored lower on a test?
• Does your character harbor a grudge against love? Then would they really instantly succumb to the batting blue eyes of their new next-door neighbor?

If you’re going to make your characters go against the grain of their typical emotional reactions, this is something your readers will sit up and take notice of. It’s not always a bad thing, and it can lead to some great developmental points. That character from the first bullet point, the hothead? Maybe he has to bite his tongue as someone shreds him a new one because they’ve got a gun pointed at his wife’s head.

Your readers will know he’s being made to do something he normally wouldn’t, and they’ll feel the tension it creates for your character as he fights his baser instincts.

 

Emotional (1)

Just as with knowing your characters emotionally, you need to know them spiritually.

Are they religious? Yes, what do they practice?

This will also dictate how they react in certain situations…so I want to focus less on that aspect, because it does mirror emotions so closely, and focus on something I’ve seen a few authors get horribly wrong. Can you take a guess at what that is? No? Yes? If you guessed they don’t know the spirituality or religion they’ve assigned their character, then you guessed correctly! Give yourself a candy bar.

If you were raised in a predominately Christian home and you decide you want one of your characters to be Buddhist, then…you should know something about Buddhism.

I won’t name the work, but I have seen an author write about someone’s religion being Atheism, and then go onto say that character was a devil-worshiper. Only…atheists don’t worship the devil.

So, please, do your research.

 

Intellectual
This is another area I’ve seen in several books that needed a little more attention.

How many times have you read a book where the character is said to have attended some major university, graduated at the top of their class, and now they run a multi-billion dollar corporation…and then they do the dumbest shit you’ve ever read in a book? Come on…how many? I’m guessing it’s been more than once.

Don’t get me wrong, I know there are plenty of highly-educated idiots out there, but your novel probably shouldn’t be filled with them.

If you’ve got a character who never made it past the sixth grade, then they’re not likely to have the same vocabulary as their long, lost sibling who graduated Magna Cum Laude from Princeton.

But let’s reverse this. Your Princeton grad is also probably going to sound crazy awkward if he tries to acclimate to an inner-city way of speech. Ebonics is going to be hard, foreign even, when you’ve spent over twenty years speaking straight out of an English textbook.

Also: intellect doesn’t just come from the classroom, remember that. Wherever your characters got their education, be it school, college, on the job, the streets, the military, or on the farm, make sure their intellectual voice coincides with it.

 

Strengths
As we’ve made our way down this list, you can probably see how all of the above traits have mingled with one another and how they can all have an effect on one another.

This one is no different.

Your character’s strengths and weakness can stem directly from their physicality, back story, emotional health, spirituality, and their intellect. So, when you’re getting to this stage in the character mapping process, take all of those things into consideration.

All that said, I want you to keep one thing in mind: Characters need Kryptonite.

Is your steadfastly Baptist woman unable to have a weakness for bondage? Nope, not at all…this would be an incredibly interesting juxtaposition to flesh out, don’t you think? There is all sorts of internal and external turmoil that might come from such a fascination from such an unlikely person.

Hell, Indiana Jones is afraid of snakes.

Sure your Princeton grad might be hella strong in all things science, but what if he develops a fear (or weakness) of fire? That Bunsen burner is now something he can’t face…so what is he to do?

Do you see where I’m going here?

This brings me to the bonus point I’d like to make about Character Building:

 

Growth
This is perhaps the number one complaint I’ve been seeing in reviews as of late. These complaints are coming in from both Indie novels as well as highly-anticipated traditionally-published novels:

Lack of personal growth.

One of the first things I said about getting to know your characters emotionally was that their backstory would help you learn about them when you first plop them in your manuscript. That is your baseline. That gives you their starting point.

You’re going to mess them up, though. You’ll give them conflict and challenge their beliefs. They need to change as a result. They need to have learned lessons and applied new knowledge and skills they’ve learned during their journey.

So, when you’re plotting your characters, don’t just plot who they are at the beginning of your manuscript…plot who you want them to become by the end. Draw a character arc, do a bullet list, anything to help you visualize where your character is going.

Any number and combination of these areas we’ve talked about today can and should go through a personal growth transformation.

A long time ago I came up with some Writing Aides that may help you as you’re outlining your characters. If you’re so inclined, have a look and let me know if they’re in any way helpful. (Which might inspire me to make similar things in the future.)

That’s all I’ve got for you today!

Just a head’s up, I am working on a series of posts dedicated to some amazing writerly resources I’ve found over the years—you aren’t going to want to miss out on those, so click subscribe!

xoxo


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Self-Publishing, Tips, Writer's Life, Writing

Let Me Be Frank

Self-Pub Mistakes“A teachable spirit and a humbleness to admit your ignorance or your mistake
will save you a lot of pain. However, if you’re a person who knows it all, then you’ve
got a lot of heavy-hearted experiences coming your way.”
-Ron Carpenter, Jr.

So as I mentioned last week, my launch day wasn’t the thrill it was supposed to be. I didn’t tweet about my book–and haven’t once–since then.

I’m sure my husband would protest, (HA!) but alas: I am not perfect.

Instead of pouring my heart and soul out, let me just give you a little lesson in all that went wrong for me on that day and the days leading up to it. If I had a nickle for every red flag I overlooked, I could quit my day job. (If anyone wants to send me nickles to get that process started, my P.O. Box is… *wink*) In all seriousness, please learn from my mistakes.

Without further adieu:

1.| I should have recruited more help. The people helping me were FANTASTIC! But, I should have had people reading the eBook in multiple formats, because I wasn’t just putting it on Amazon. I was using IngramSpark and my book appeared on Amazon, iBooks, Nook, and obscure Japanese websites for whatever reason. So, while the formatting may have been decent on one platform, it wasn’t on all and this was something I didn’t consider. Mostly because…

2.| I purchased a layout for my novel. [This isn’t exactly a mistake, but there were definite lessons to be learned.] I’m not ashamed to admit it, I wasn’t getting results on my own that I was happy with, and I didn’t have time or patience for learning InDesign on the fly, so I purchased a Word-friendly book layout that was supposed to translate perfectly from print to eBook. I am 99% sure I even paid a little extra for the duality. I’m debating on whether to link to the company because I am quite frankly debating on whether I will use them again. Their information is listed in the front matter of the book because a.) it was a requirement of purchasing the layout and b.) because I’m thrilled with the way the paperbacks look.

However, what I did not, can not, and will not like or understand about this is what happened to the metadata of my eBook. This company automatically inserted itself in the metadata as both author and publisher of my book. And my eBook layout problems only seemed to occur whenever I corrected the metadata. For legal reasons, I will not say that they were definitely the cause of my eBook layout problems, but I will say that it is a matter I am still looking into.

3.| Every time I needed to fix an issue with the eBook, it cost me $25 to do so. This was my fault, 100%. I knew that when/if I needed to make changes to the print version that it would cost me $25. I did not know the same applied to the eBook. With the layout problems I was facing, this was staggering. I am singing IngramSpark’s praises because they did not give me any trouble whatsoever when I asked begged them to release me of my eBook contract. Within 48 hours every trace of my error-riddled eBook was off the market and it was mine again to obsess over and check for those blasted formatting errors.

cautionSide note: If you’re going the IngramSpark route, I will be doing a more thorough review of my experience with them, but I will say this much quickly: Unless you are absolutely certain your success hinges on your eBook being available in every possible market, having your eBook with them will be an expensive venture. eBooks are updated regularly, and $25 each and every time adds up. Research the absolute hell out of the pros and cons of using their digital distribution services before you decide.

Their print service is exceptional, though. Truly top notch.

4.| If you’re an aspiring author and you’re not on Goodreads, hear this: Get on Goodreads. It’s powerful. Oh, and while you’re there, follow me. I ignored this valuable asset for far too long. You can do a lot of things here to set your book apart, like add video trailers, create quizzes and trivia for fans of your work. Have discussions with your readers in a way that other social media outlets simply can’t compare.

5.| I am not sure why I didn’t do this step, because I fully intended to, but I wanted to send out 15 or so ARC (Advanced Release Copies) to hopefully get some reviews before launch day. (This also would’ve alerted me to those formatting errors, too.) This was a monumental mistake on my part. Don’t be like me. Send out ARCs.

At the end of the day, you know what? I have a book. Relatively few people can say that. Even if you make every single mistake I did (Don’t, because you’ve read about them now) and you have a completed book that you’re proud of, that is an amazing thing! Don’t let a few mistakes and bumps along the way cause you to lose sight of your accomplishment. Dig your heels in, do your best to make it right, and make a vow to do better next time.

Do not give up on your writing dreams!

Getting To Know Aila, Tips, Writer's Life

Ten Writerly Lessons

Ten
“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
-Benjamin Franklin


There are only FIVE days until the release of Sex, Love, and Technicalities. That’s… terrifying. I thought I would take this time to share with you ten things I’ve learned over the course of this past year—the good, the awful, and the ghastly.

1. | HOLY CRAP BALLS – WRITING IS HARD. Okay, so not physically hard. Unless you think sitting in a chair for long stretches of time is a strain. (For the record, I know several people who actually do find this difficult.) But, a lot goes into writing a full-length novel, and sometimes I want to pull my hair out.

2.| There are more tools than MS Word. I can hear some of you snickering, but this isn’t something that had ever occurred to me before I got serious about writing. I’ve dabbled with several programs and Scrivener is just amazing. Even if you want to stick to Word, I highly suggest using ProWritingAid instead of relying on Word’s less than stellar grammar help.

3. | Patience is key. I am not a naturally patient person. I get that from my father. But take it from someone who is admitting to this embarrassment: Being impatient can be costly. I started buying promotional items before the second redraft. Yep. I did that. You know what happened shortly afterwards? I changed the name of the book. And pushed back my release date. Anyone want a useless, highly inaccurate bookmark?

4.| The writing community is a vast, packed, and lonely place. I had an idea of how large the writing community was, but it wasn’t until I dipped my quill inside the well that I realized just how massive. I’ve met some incredible people, forged some priceless friendships… but there are a lot of people to compare yourself to. And for me, a naturally negative person, sometimes the very beauty of this community can leave me breathlessly lonesome.

5.| Build your brand before you type “Once Upon A Time…” If you’re serious about becoming a published author, by any means necessary, it is essential for you to build your author brand. I claim no expertise on the subject, I just know it is something you have to start early.

6.| Ideas will pop up at the worst times. I sort of knew this before. But before I got serious about writing, I could let go of these story ideas without much of a second thought. After all, I assumed I’d never use them. Oh, but now! now these precious gems of ideas crop up and I’m finely tuned into them. It doesn’t matter if I’m just drifting to sleep or in the middle of a conversation. Not getting to jot these ideas down is almost blasphemous.

7.| Doing bad things to my characters actually hurts. I revealed this tidbit to a non-writer friend, and they just couldn’t understand. “You do know they’re fictional, right?” Yes. But they’re my creations and I have just turned their world upside down and dumped a bucket of shit on top. Doesn’t mean I don’t fully understand that I have to do this, but sometimes after writing some particularly heavy scenes, a girl just needs to watch Doctor Who.

8.| Browsing Barnes and Noble becomes difficult different. Don’t get me wrong, I still do this on the regular, but once you are knee deep in publication decisions, you start to analyze books for things other than just their content. Oh my God! I LOVE that font! Where can I get *that* font?! Others in the vicinity will notice that you’ve adopted Gollum’s stance and are stroking a particularly pretty book and… well, you get the idea.

9.| I get insanely excited for my writer friends’ successes. There is nothing I like more than to see my writer friends achieving their goals. I’m not necessarily talking about publication, either. I like seeing them blow past a word count record, tackling and defeating a difficult chapter, getting the guts to query agents. It’s all worth celebrating. I love when someone sends me something to read. It makes me giddy! Which brings me to…

10.| Writers are without a doubt some of the brightest, loveliest, and bravest people on the planet Earth. You offer pieces of yourself up on the page for people to scrutinize. You want to change the world with your ideas. You give encouragement and hope with your words. You create your own worlds and realities and shine light on important subjects. You are amazing.

That’s ten things, of many, I have learned over the past year. Thank you all so much for being the awesome, crazy, amazing, badass people you are.


If you’re interested in getting your own signed copy of Sex, Love, and Technicalities, I am hosting a sweepstakes giveaway on Viral Sweep, and I am SUPER excited! There is no purchase necessaryWIN, but unfortunately it is only open to US residents. There are multiple ways to earn extra entries! I do hope you will enter to win—and share with your friends! (Actually, that’s one way of earning extra entries!) For entry and the full details please see either the ViralSweep site or my website. Thanks in advance!

 

Announcement, Uncategorized, Writer's Life, Writing

SL&T: It’s Getting Close

I’m taking a little reprieve from the A-Z Series. I’ll pick it up again in the first week of August, and I’ll post a few each week to get caught up. Let me say that I have really enjoyed writing that series so far. It has given me the chance to get to know some seriously cool authors and read some amazing work, but I have a few really good reasons for the break:

1.| I should launch a new website this week. It’s actually ready and awaiting publication, but I’ve changed hosting companies and I’m waiting for them to sort their crap out. (When this launches, I will be giving the novelette No More Running, prequel to SL&T, away to mailing list subscribers for free!) I am toying around with merging the blog straight into this website, but for now, I will still use Wordpress for all my blogging.

2.| I have my book completely laid out and ready for publication as well, both for an eBook format and for paperback. I, being the OCD person I am, am having one last go through the book, reading it on different media and aloud making the tiniest little adjustments, but I have to force myself to have a cutoff for this, and I’m looking at Wednesday. If I don’t give myself a cutoff, I will be stuck in this stage for the rest of my days.

3.| As per reason #2, I have been spending an exorbitant amount of time getting my cover, spine, and back cover designs the way I’d like them, which means I had to write a short Author Bio, and I am not exaggerating in the least when I say I would rather write a hundred novels than Cover Design.pnga single paragraph about myself.

The cover has evolved many times. Generally speaking, I create cover art for each of my books. I’m not sure why exactly, but it has become a part of my process. Each of the covers I have created have been designed in Canva, with a little tweaking in Photoshop afterward.

Whenever I work through a difficulty in a scene, I  just tinker around with the corresponding cover design until I have it figured out. If I had to guess, this would be version 483.7, or somewhere in that vicinity. 😉

In anticipation of the book’s release, I thought I would take an opportunity to tell you a little bit of the behind the scenes information about the book and give a quick introduction to my main character’s family… and reveal which actors or actresses most frequently played them in my mind. Yes. I said that. (I’m only admitting to what every single one most of us do!)



| By the numbers|

The first draft of SL&T was about 82k words and it took me a whopping eleven days to write. Interestingly, my most productive day was 11k words. Also, the original chapter eleven was slashed from the book first. There was just something about the number eleven. I was very fortunate to have the time off from work which allowed me to write so much in such a short amount of time. I was also lucky that my husband didn’t walk out with as much as I talked about it and with the sheer volume of ideas I bounced off of him. I was very motivated to write this book. Now the book sits at around 76k words, broken into 40 quick chapters.

I knew early on in this book that it was going to have a sequel, which I’ve already gotten through about 1/3 of the way. I had gotten through it about 1/2 way, but then I had an epiphany about the way SL&T ended, and I rewrote so much, the sequel had to change shape. Well worth it in the end. I’m much happier with SL&T’s ending now.

| Other Tidbits – Warning: Contains Spoilers, however minimal |
While this book is a far, far cry from autobiographical, there are a few parallels between myself and the main character, Briella Logan. Brie, as she’s called for short, is a chef. I’m a chef. She struggles with turning thirty. I unexpectedly fell apart over turning thirty. She struggles with whether or not she wants to continue being a chef. I had the same struggle. She’s very close with her father, who has precarious health problems. I’m very close with my dad, who has been in poor health since I can remember. (Brie’s dad calls her Pumpkin, my dad calls me Chickadee.)

The numbers in my book are [mostly] from something significant in my life. For example, the number 927 shows up in the book. That number is the date of my father’s very first heart attack.


| Introducing The Logans |

Briella LoganBrie is the head chef of a popular restaurant called Table Twelve, she’s a workaholic who has been avoiding any sort of social life for quite a while, save for her best friend John. She lives alone in an apartment with a view of the water and the city of Nashville. She enjoys wine and British television. On the occasion she does go out with friends after work, she drinks to excess—something she hides from her well-to-do mother, Deidra. [Among many, Rachel Bilson probably had this role most often.]

Deidra Logan: Is somewhat of a socialite in Nashville, especially amongst the ladies in her Bible study group. She has high standards for her family, and generally isn’t shy about letting her daughter know when she isn’t living up to them. She’s a bit of a worrywart when it comes to her husband, and is known for elaborating. [Geena Davis or Sela Ward]

Geoffrey Logan: The head of the Logan family, Geoffrey, usually finds himself trying to keep some sort of tranquility in his family, as he is usually put in the middle between his wife and daughter’s arguments. He is a very calm, rational man who loves the outdoors and taught Briella early on the pleasures of camping and fishing. He enjoys golf as his health allows. [Kevin Costner. I don’t know why.]


I am brimming with so much excitement as this whole process is coming to a close, I am having to restrain myself from dropping some major spoilers. If you have previously checked out the prologue, which can be found here, please check it out again. Things have changed a bit.

As ever, thank you for stopping in. Sex, Love, and Technicalities will be available this month, and you can bet there will be some giveaways centered around the launch, so check back!