Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Learning to Love Revisions

By Sherry Thomas, @sherrythomas

Part of the How They Do It Series

I've always been a big fan of the revision process, but not every writer enjoys the tinkering after a first draft is done. To help make that process easier, please welcome award-winning author Sherry Thomas to the lecture hall today, to share some insights on how to make revisions easier to bear (and maybe even a little but fun).

Sherry loves nothing more than the mix of explosive action and combustible romance. In her career so far, she has written more romance than action, but she is making up for it with a YA fantasy trilogy and a wuxia-inspired duology. Her books regularly receive starred reviews and best-of-the-year honors from trade publications, including such outlets as the New York Times and National Public Radio. She is also a two-time winner of Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA® Award.

And by the way, English is her second language.

You can find out more about Sherry’s books at SherryThomas.com

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indie Bound

Take it away Sherry...

Monday, September 15, 2014

Plot Your Novel With Mini Arcs

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

If you’re not the type of writer who likes to plot out an entire book before you start writing, but you’re also not the type of writer who can just wing it and have it turn out well, try breaking your novel into story arcs and plotting those one at a time.

This is a technique I use for revisions, but it’s just as useful a tool for those who fall in the middle of the outliner/pantser spectrum.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Real Life Diagnostics: Setting up A Speculative Fiction World

Critique By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Real Life Diagnostics is a weekly column that studies a snippet of a work in progress for specific issues. Readers are encouraged to send in work with questions, and I diagnose it on the blog. It’s part critique, part example, and designed to help the submitter as well as anyone else having a similar problem.

If you're interested in submitting to Real Life Diagnostics, please check out these guidelines.

Submissions currently in the queue: Five 

Please Note: As of today, RLD slots are booked through September 18. Any Sunday diagnostics will shorten that some if my schedule permits, but I wanted everyone to be aware of the submission to posting delay.

This week’s questions:

1. Despite the third person POV, do you still connect with the protagonist or does it come across as too distant?

2. Is the narrative voice engaging?

3. Is the undefined (for now) terminology too distracting or does it entice you to read more in order to find out what it means?

4. As an opening, does it effectively balance genre-setting, world-building and character introductions or should the focus be redistributed?

5. Does knowing the 'back-cover blurb' (the story's background), give me a 'get out of jail free' card to avoid direct/immediate conflict in this scene, in favor of hinting at the deeper conflict and tension of the overall book? 


Market/Genre: Speculative Fiction/Adult Dystopian

On to the diagnosis…

Friday, September 12, 2014

Moving Forward: Writing Smooth Transitions

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

This week's Refresher Friday takes another look at transitions. Enjoy!

I'm a bit of a stickler for transitions. When I'm reading, I like to go smoothly from one thought to the next and one scene to another. If the prose is too choppy, it jars me out of the story and I have difficulty getting back into it.

Transitions aren't just about scenes, however. How you go from paragraph to paragraph is just as important, and often more so, because the reader doesn't expect to be jarred in the middle of text. A scene break is a break, so they know things are changing. But change in the middle with no warning and you risk losing them.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

8 Marketing Don'ts: Get Real or Get Lost!

By S.R. Johannes, @srjohannes 

Part of the Indie Authors Series

Whether you are traditionally pubbed or indie pubbed. Marketing is a huge component of getting your books out there. Some of us are lucky to get tons of marketing from publishers. Most of us aren't. Most of you will do it alone with very little support. So you might as well except it and do it.

It's a matter of changing your mindset.

Here are some of the DONTs of Marketing - in my opinion. These are mindsets that I still see and they make me smack my forehead!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

What's Their Story? Discovering the Front Story of Your Non-Point of View Characters

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Dipping into the archives again today (last week of re-runs, back to normal next week). Here's another look on ways to deepen your secondary characters. Enjoy!

I've talked about how helpful it was to write the backstory for my characters. That exercise went so well, I decided to write the front story for them (totally my term here). Find out what they planned to do with all that history I had given them.

The front story is basically that character's role in the book and what they're doing when the protagonist isn't around. What they want, what they're worried about, how they feel about the events that are happening in the novel, etc. Picture Shaun from Shaun of the Dead. He might be the hero of his story, but it's clear there's a whole zombie apocalypse and major battle going on over on the next street he's not even aware of (where Buffy is no doubt saving the world). If we were reading that story, Shaun would be this plucky little colorful character who showed up from time to time and gave a bigger sense of the world and problem.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Anatomy of a Showdown

By Paul Anthony Shortt, @PAShortt

Part of the How They Do It Series


One of the most looked-forwarded-to moments in a novel has got to be the showdown between hero and villain. It's the payoff of the entire novel, and for many readers, it determines how much they like the book. Paul Anthony Shortt visits the lecture hall today to share some tips on what goes into a great showdown.

A child at heart who turned to writing and roleplaying games when there simply weren’t enough action figures to play out the stories he wanted, Paul Anthony Shortt has been writing all his life.

Growing up surrounded by music, film and theatre gave him a deep love of all forms of storytelling, each teaching him something new he could use. When not playing with the people in his head, he enjoys cooking and regular meet-ups with his gaming group.

He lives in Ireland with his wife Jen and their dogs, Pepper and Jasper. Their first child, Conor William Henry Shortt, was born on July 11th, 2011. He passed away three days later, but brought love and joy into their lives and those of their friends. The following year, Jen gave birth to twins, Amy and Erica. Their fourth child, Olivia, was born in January, 2014.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indie Bound

Take it away Paul...

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

On Tonight's Episode: Fixing Episodic Chapters

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

In the final throes of revisions, so it'll be a few more days of visits to the archives. Here's another look at episodic scenes and how we can avoid them. Enjoy!

Some chapters flow together, building off one another so the story feels like it's one seamless entity. Others feel disconnected. Every chapter might work on its own, but the book reads choppy, there's a lack of tension, and the reader doesn't feel like they're getting anywhere, even if the plot in advancing.

The story feels episodic.

An episodic structure often develops when you have a lot of location or goal changes and you lose the thread tying the chapters together. Things are happening, possibly even exciting "doing all the right stuff" things, but information is being put out there and it's not really going anywhere. There's no cause and effect between chapters, even if there is within scenes.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Stop That Fighting! Conflicts Aren’t all About the Punches

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

In honor of my current revision pass, this week's Refresher Friday takes another look at conflict and how you can make the most of it in your novel. Enjoy!

Conflict is at the heart of every story. More than that really, it’s at the heart of every scene. It’s not uncommon for folks to think “conflict” and immediately assume fighting, but it’s not always violent, nor should it be. Conflict is just two things in opposition.

“I can’t make that meeting, I have a conflict.”

Sure, it’s not life threatening, though it could be in the right circumstance. But what it does do is force the person with the conflict to make a choice between them. That’s what’s so great (and helpful) about conflicts.

Conflicts force characters to act.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Value of Indie Print: Necessity, Choices and Costs

By Dario Ciriello

Part of the Indie Authors Series


As I’ve said in prior articles, I believe it’s important for a self or indie publisher to have their titles available in print as well as digital editions. There are several reason for this.
  • Some people—and a number of reviewers—still prefer print to digital.
  • Anyone can publish digitally, but print adds a credibility factor to your enterprise.
  • Author-signed copies add substantial perceived value to a print book, making them far more attractive for giveaways, contests, and similar promotions.
  • The growth of ebooks has slowed substantially and there is evidence that print book sales are increasing again as the industry shifts from offset and toner to inkjet technologies.
  • eBook readers are commonplace only in the US and Great Britain. The rest of the world is still firmly locked into print.