The Four Letter Word – Fun Fact or Not on Friday

There are a lot of four letter words.  remove your mind from going down the dark tunnel-or the gutter.  Seriously stop it!  Okay.  Back on track now.  I find it interesting that several very important words that shape our lives are 4 letters.  Love and fear are two that I think can shape people and how they handle life.

As a child I knew a lot of fear.  Fear of failure, fear of getting lost, fear of change, fear of being 10379858_883353919832_7604146096195761269_ounwanted, fear, fear, fear. I was afraid of everything.  I actually went to a teacher in the sixth grade and requested to have a separate role in the class so that I was never be put on the spot during class.  I was so afraid of ridicule.

Well as an adult those fears stayed and grew worse until my life could be boiled down to one problem-I wasn’t living, I was hiding.  Writing has become my outlet.  In away I still hide behind my words, but at the same time my fear gives me plots and imperfect heroines and heroes.

Why do I share a huge flaw in my character so openly in my blog and in my writing?  I hope it shows someone, anyone, that sometimes our worst bits of humanity are what make life interesting.  No one wants to read about a perfect person.

Good news for my readers. I haven’t outgrown all my fears.  Some are soul deep, so I guess that means more reading material for you 🙂

Words to live by though-learn to control your fear so that it never controls you.

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Throw Back Thursday – When I Started to Write

When I first started to write I simply knew I would be the next big one. The next Stephanie Meyer or <Insert famous author>.  This wasn’t because my vampires sparked, because well, they didn’t.  No.  It was because I had something to say that would bring joy to people. Little did I know that the average it takes a person to get published isn’t exactly a fact, but it is founded on facts.  The average I last heard was 8 years.  Is that true today? I would say no.  Why?  Well now there is self-publication and therefore one more statistic.

Okay – enough depressing words.  So for fun. 

If you are a writer – what is the first thing you tried to publish?

If you are a reader – what have you thought of some authors new releases vs. their later releases?

 

Here is my embarrassment.  Mind you I started to seriously write during the vampire craze about 7 bad ideasyears ago.

Seventeen year old girl who is human, falls for a vampire that is a friend of her vampire family.  Yes – a human raised by vampires.  There’s some crazy vengeance from a few hundred years of feuds, some trips to Ireland and Italy.  Shopping in France.  A crush from a human boy – so a small love triangle.  Love struck girl is kidnapped, but don’t panic.  There is an over indulgent HEA – because all my stories are happily ever after.  The end!

You can laugh now 🙂

Guilty – I Watch Terrible Movies

Anyone really embarrassed to admit they watch a movie or series?  I think a lot of people felt that way about Twilight – if you were over the age of 14 anyway. Well for me, my new guilty pleasuresteps are the terrible – and I MEAN TERRIBLE, Step Up Movies.  The plots are awful, well sub-par. The motives are weak and character development is far from well done.  So why do I watch them?  I love the music, the dancing, and the idea that it gets me off the couch to dance with my kids.  Plus, if you watch something mindless that has more music then dialogue you can actually multitask easily.

 Well, I did it.  I got that weight off my chest.  Phew. I feel so much better.

 So what is something you’ve watched recently that made you scratch your head and wonder, what the heck am I doing?

Story Vs. Writing Quality

I really wanted to like it. I really did.  Those are the words I find myself saying through a lot of books these days.

The word is out that publishers are becoming more picky.  They don’t want to take on new authors as often. Breaking into the writing world has become harder.  So…

I find myself stumped.  I found a book that was a freebee.  Oh the ploys of publishers and writers. Get me hooked to buy the rest in a series. I get it.  So I did.  The problem is that the story was a great idea, but it wasn’t well executed.  Can we say repeat?  I found myself skimming over entire pages of repeated information – or whining in this case.

How did this book get popular?  Well, it breaks down to the age old question. Story or quality of writing?  Twilight was a mainstream book that baffled many.  I truly have a hard time re-reading those books, but the first time through I was obsessed.  This book isn’t quite to the obsession level, but sucked me in all the same.

I am scratching my head.  The book in question is a small publisher that also dabbles in self-publication assistance.  People complained of editing, as in punctuation, but for me it was the story.  I can’t tell if she is self published or not.  Either way, she is a success and rightfully so – great story, but getting past the info that should have been cut can be daunting.

Lesson learned from this book – don’t repeat, repeat, repeat. We get it. We read it the first time. Reiteration can be useful as a reminder, but DO NOT REPEAT.  If I can skip pages and miss nothing there is a problem.

I know authors who have awesome editing skills and their stories don’t seem to be half as successful. Long story short.  What matters the most. Story or writing?

 

Related links:

Editing

Editor

Editor 2

Don’t Annoy the Reader

Thoughtful Tuesday – Anyone Can Cook

Anyone else like the movie Ratatouille?  I love the saying “Anyone can cook.”  That doesn’t mean I am taking up being a chef, although I did just get laid off and am looking into a career change.

What I like about it, is that it says that anyone can be anything and come from anywhere.  Not everyone is great at everything, but you can’t judge a book by its cover.  So for those that feel like you aren’t sure that you are cut out for something, ask your heart.  If you love it, then put the effort in and don’t listen to the doubters.  Learn from criticism and failure, improve and grow.

Just because a writer, or cook, or astronaut can come from anywhere doesn’t mean that we don’t have to listen to those around us in order to succeed.

On a lighter note – do you sometimes want to take your ideas and run with them? I mean literally run with them and throw them out the window?  Well here’s a little photo to make you smile.

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Thoughful Tuesday – The Cynic’s Opinion

Has anyone ever noticed that those with too many, mostly negative, opinions are the ones that feel that they have the right to tell you what you are doing wrong in your life? I would like to point out that they come across as cynics.

I went to my writers group Sunday and in case I forgot why I don’t go religiously anymore one of the regulars reminded me. How you ask? By pointing out the errors to blogging. The reasons to not get to know others, whether they be readers or writers. I got to hear plenty about his platform – which does not exist yet.

It’s okay he hates the idea of blogging. He is fine with not having a platform. But just because he believes something, due to reasons that I can’t wrap my head around, does not mean anyone else is wrong.

So thank you rude person for taking up an hour of my life I can’t get back. Thank you for criticizing something I enjoy doing regardless of who reads it. I hope that my readers do enjoy some of my posts and please tell me if you think that I post too often. I am going to curb my writing tips to once a month – unless there is a massive demand. Otherwise I plan to keep on doing what I do. Why? Because I love getting to know new people and hearing different opinions.

So to all the loud people out there with a negative opinion – unless you are being constructive and willing to listen to others point of views – shut it. Mister you know who you are. Oh and he also actually starting yelling at another group of people for their belief on another publishing industry change. <Sigh> You can’t win.banana

So how about all my loyal and new followers? Anything exciting to add? Or do you have any suggestions on how often you want to hear from a blog?

Fun Fact Friday – The Authors First Edit

The book you see is probably not the one that was originally written.  Close your mouth.  I get it.  The shock, the horror of it all. Try telling the author.  So the author sent out her/his book and it was accepted for publication.  One thing no one expects are the line-by-line edits that will be coming.

Like me for instance.  At first I stared at the computer screen for what seemed like forever in complete horror.  My mouth was gaping open – until a fly attempted to land there anyway.  After quickly and frantically scrolling through the edits I uttered the phrase “she killed my baby.”   So it was a little over dramatic.  It was none the less my initial reaction to my first manuscripts first line-by-line editing experience.

I have to say a huge thanks to the authors for sharing their stories as well.  Click on each name for contact information and past Fun Fact Friday Blog Posts.  If this doesn’t tell you how much every experience is different, I don’t know what will.Kelly Hashway  Feel free to secretly hate the authors that say their edits weren’t ‘that bad.” 🙂

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Kelly Hashway: My first ever editorial letter sent me into a full on panic. My lovely editor told me to stock up on chocolate before I started on my edits. Of course I thought that meant I was in for major rewrites and lots of hair pulling. But when I opened the document, it wasn’t as bad as I thought. Yes, there were comments galore, and most elicited thoughts of, “how am I supposed to do that?!” Okay, maybe I pulled out some hair after all. But in the end, it was worth it. My editor’s comments were spot on.

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Denise Moncrief:  My first real line edit was done by the wonderfully talented AJ Nuest. I expectedDenise Moncriefd a thorough edit, but I didn’t expect how it would make me feel. Like my writerly feelings had been thoroughly pummeled! For two days, I rambled around the house muttering things like… “Who does she thinks she is?” and “Why did she change that?” and “What does she mean by blah, blah, blah?” It’s never easy to take criticism, no matter how constructive it is. I sucked up my pride and worked through those edits. That first line edit was an intense experience but well worth it, because my story is stronger for the attention to detail she invested in it.

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Jennifer Eaton: “My first reaction?  “What the heck is this chic smoking?”  (After  cutting the middle of a scene completely out.)”jack-jill-volume-one-cover

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on with the showLinda Carroll-Bradd “My reaction may be different

than some because I’d spent years in critique groups and was used to seeing comments made on my writing projects.

But I do remember being surprised when point of view mistakes were pointed out because I’d thought I had that craft issue nailed (this was 7 years ago). I thought the editor had to be wrong. Of course, as I read the comments, I saw the words or phrase where I’d inadvertently shifted POV and vowed not to make that mistake again.”
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Jamie Ayers: “Don’t kill me . . . but my edits weren’t that bad. I was just really, really confused about how to do the track changes, lol. So I panicked about that!18 things

However, the first time I had someone seriously critique my work, I thought about punching them in the face the next time I saw them. Then, I thought, nope, I’ll get sued and I’m a teacher so that’s no good. I settled for taping their image to my dart board instead ;-)”

The Editor and the Author-and What Your Beta Readers Didn’t Say

So you’ve had a story accepted for publication now what? The editing process could seem a little scary or exciting depending on who you are and how crazy you might be.  Well I am happy to be learning from this process, so for me, I go with exciting for now.Hit the Nail Head

Your first step towards officially being published is to meet your editor! What do you expect an editor to do?  Do expect them to look at your work day one and think you are a literary genius?  Well, that would be nice, but not realistic.  Why do I think that?  Well most likely the beta readers you had missed something.  Or what if you didn’t have beta readers?  You will defiantly missed something.  Being too close to your own work you will miss some crazy detail, but having beta readers isn’t always the 100% surefire answer either.

My first official request was to rewrite a few pieces of my manuscript and I have beta readers. None of them caught something the Editor did.  When I got her initial response , the first thought in my head was “where have you been my whole life.”  Of course I really mean for the writing part of my life of course. None of my readers told me that I had a character that actually made the story emotionally unsatisfying.  Let me clarify.  In a Romance almost always, all relationships are resolved in the end.  A romance by definition needs to have a happily ever after ending, but that doesn’t stop at Mr. Right.

Here is what she meant.  I had a supporting character that was crazy.  Not crazy like she had a millions cats, although I could see that happening, but she was the reason why my main character couldn’t allow herself to be with the man she dreamed of.  I had to step back for a moment and look at this supporting character. It dawned on me, I write romance and romance readers expect resolution for all parties in a positive manner – except in paranormal YA.  That’s another issue.  Anyway, in the end my main character has to move past her issues with the crazy supporting character and just ignore the problem.  Well, since the ‘crazy girl’ is supposed to be the main characters BFF it is emotionally unsettling to have this relationship left hanging.  I 100% agree.

So what do you do when looking for beta readers?

  • Find readers who know the genre you write.  If someone reads Romantic Suspense and you write Romantic Comedy the odds are you will only get half helpful feedback.
  • Find readers who know a little about the craft if possible.  Do they understand the basic parts of a book in your genre?
  • Is the reader a member of the target audience?

If you can say yes to one of the above you have a reliable source to start with. Your editor will still find holes and gaps, it’s what they are good at.  The difference is that you will start with a quality story that might have fewer issues than it might have had if you didn’t have a few outside pairs of eyes.

Be aware that Beta reading isn’t for the faint of heart and in the end you still need to trust your gut.  Also realize that family, although trustworthy, may not always be brutally honest.  The best gift a writer can get is some really harsh CONSTRUCTIVE criticism.  You aren’t perfect and therefore neither is your story.

What is your experience with beta reading or are you still working up the courage to branch out?  We’ve all been there!

Related Posts:

Rachel Gardner

 

The Inciting Incident: Is Your Character Unlikable or What Are You Missing?

Don’t you hate criticism that leads you to a lot of head scratching, but little to no idea how to fix the issue?

I had a beta reader – yes just one, tell me my character was nearly unlikable.  I sort of wanted to cry.  That wasn’t going to get me anywhere though.  I had to stop and think.  Why did beta reader A think that. The character is cynical and she has every right to be that way.  She is throwing around  sarcastic comments like they are as common as air. She can’t see anything for what it is and men, well men just drive the nail into her emotional coffin of mad.Incite

So I asked myself: is her entire outlook unlike any other woman scorned?  No.  She is who she is and she isn’t happy.  What I had to do was make it more apparent as to why she was so sarcastic about everything around her that day.  I had to figure out why it is the reader couldn’t identify or at least see why it is that she was acting out in her emotional tornado.  That’s when it hit me.   I was missing the inciting incident!

It better be apparent to your reader sooner  rather than later what the catalyst is to your characters actions.  The middle of a story is too late to explain why Fred is up and leaving, or why Sally was running in the rain, or why Ted just robbed a liquor store.  You can have undesirable traits in characters – heck they are supposed to be someone real so they better not be perfect.  The issue is making the cause for the not so positive traits visible to the reader.

In the first 3 chapters your inciting incident better be apparent.

Have you had any experiences with this confusing the reader because you didn’t make it clear or put it in too late?

Who is Your Audience

How does one appeal to their indented audience? Reading the genre that you write could be a start, although I do hear from a lot of writers that they don’t like to read that particular genre. My question is, how then can you understand what your intended audience wants to read?
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Sure you know the mechanics. Sure you know the sequence of events, but what If you are missing some key elements that only stick out when you read. I understand reading other genres while in the midst of a story because subconsciously we sometimes copy ideas we’ve read. I don’t agree that you can write the best book possible if you are not familiar with what your audience wants to read. I am not telling you to read one genre exclusively either.

How do you relate to your audience? I for one love reading the genres I write. I am inspired by the good books and am motivated to outdo the bad ones. The key is I can identify what books are bad to understand how to make them good. I then incorporate that into my own writing. When I get tired of contemporary romances, I head over to paranormal.

Do you know who your audience is? Just because you have a story in your head does not mean it is marketable. Remember that when starting out. Try and see who you are writing for and this may curtail the elements of your story and appeal to a real type of person. If you can’t find a category for your story who is going to read it? I know we are writing for ourselves – but isn’t the end goal to hopefully find someone who wants to buy it too?

So I ask again, how do you appeal to your intended audience?