Publishing Credits – Flipping the coin

Do publishing credits actual help or do they hurt you?  I had the opportunity to talk with an agent at a small conference recently. She didn’t represent what I wrote, but I was able to ask some great basic questions on the industry.coin  Some days I say, flip a coin to decide what to do next.

Do you want an agent someday?  If you answered yes, read on.  If you answered no, good luck on your mission.

From the agent’s mouth:

The agent I had the opportunity to “chat up” was very polite.  She asked me questions about my writing, to be nice I assume.  In the end she told me that if I want to be agented someday, and I do more then short stories at a small publisher, the number of books sold will be scrutinized.  They will want to know how big the publisher is.  They will want to know the avenues of sale used.  Although agents will understand that most small publishers will not be at physical stores, your sales better be good online.

All that being said, she still seemed to be interested to know that I was trying.  That I had found someone who appreciates my work.  She liked the idea that I was learning the business and building a platform.  Did any of those facts change her statement that she would require any sale info on books that I write independently?  No.  But she had nothing negative to say about getting my feet wet.

That’s from the agents mouth.

From the writers mouth though, I say that going with a small publisher has been nothing short of awesome!  I have changed the way I write.  I have fewer “issues”.  Am I perfect?  No.  Never will be.  The lessons learned though, have been invaluable! I would tell anyone to start small.  A few other authors I know have and are now agented or still independent, but doing well.

Long story short.  Do you love to write?  Then don’t give up and always attempt a few avenues.  Just be aware of the risks that come along with each choice. I’ll post on that later.

 

Here it goes – flipping a coin on what to write next!

 

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Thoughful Tuesday – Advice or Opinion?

When is it advice based on fact vs. an opinion from your own little mind?  There are a zillion books on writing, editing, and selling. Don’t stop there. Look at all the parenting books and books on finding your soul mate.  So out of all these books which ones are really helpful and which are simply a string of opinions that worked for one person. We are not cookie cutter. Just because Author A got published without editing a single word doesn’t mean Author B can do the same. Just because your child responds to time outs doesn’t mean that another child will. Now the book/movie, He’s Just Not that into You, might actually have some legs to stand on.

He's Just notWhat self-help or instructional books do you rely on? Writing, parenting, dating or otherwise. I personally like Dr. Sears books for child rearing and my own personal gut of course. I have yet to find a query letter book that is perfect, but The Guide to Query Letter’s isn’t bad. The Element of Style for basic grammar isn’t all that bad either – are there better?  I guess it depends on who you ask.

Fun Fact Friday – How Do You Like Your Hero

I’ve been on a old movie kick.  When I say old, I am talking 50’s,60’s, 70’s.  I guess old means pre-now to clear up offending anyone.  Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Gidget, Bikini Beach, etc. Along side my hunger for these old romances, a new hero is emerging in BDSM erotic romances that brings me to wonder.  How do we like our heroes?gidget

I like my heroes to be strong, but have a soft side.  I like them to be just a little possessive and territorial, but not violent or a male chauvinistic.  He has to have morals, he has to be devoted  and he also has to have a sense of humor. You can get through a lot with laughs.  He’ll always be damaged by something, but it’s always something my heroines can fix or help him over come.  It’s the gooey center of my otherwise rock-solid man.  He’s usually the sound mind and down to earth person; bringing sanity into my heroines lives.seven brides for seven brothers

I asked a fellow author, Joanne Stewart, this same question and here is her response.

I like my heroes to be…soft, yet strong. I like them to be a mix between Alpha and Beta. He knows what he wants and what he likes. He’s strong in his principles, and he’s not afraid to stand up for them. He’s the type of guy who won’t hesitate to step to the heroine’s defense, whether she likes it or not. 😉 But he’s also soft around the edges. He’s got a heart of gold, makes a good friend and sibling. The kind of guy who’s good with kids and dogs. He’s flawed, got some quirk that absolutely drives the heroine crazy, but all in all, he’s a nice guy.

A related post from Joanne on hero’s can be found here.

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Her Knight
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So how about you?  Do you like the men in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers?  They start out as womanizing pigs and end up loving their wives very much.  Do you like your men like Frankie in Bikini Beach – DENSE and running from commitment just to turn back to the woman you love in the end because something else didn’t work out?  Or how about the men in the new erotic romances? Damaged and on a quest for ultimate control.  It sort of seems like men have been portrayed as messed up for years.  I wonder why? hmmm
Other related posts:

Less is More

I thought I wouldblah break my once a month posting rule on writing.  This just might help someone.

Just because people say they want every detail doesn’t mean that they really do.  What I have learned through the editing process – with an editor, is that less is actually more.  Cut words.  Cut phrases.  Get to the point.  So what if you can write a beautiful paragraph on the snow and it’s movement.  Did it do anything to help move the story along?

So it hurts to cut paragraphs.  Lick your wound and get over it.  The editor I had the pleasure of working with at Still Moments Publishing helped me cut out 5000 words.  Yes you heard that right.  5000 words.  That was for a short story.  Why 5000 words?  Well.  Lets see.  I had a few paragraphs that although fun or cute, didn’t move the plot.  No one cares that she was wearing a hat and she was fighting with it and static electricity.  Did it help give you an image of her?  Well yes.  The difference was that I had established her personality already in the two paragraphs before.

I’m not sure how many people have heard rules about establishing what a character looks like off the bat.  Well that rule apparently isn’t really a rule.  After I cut out the paragraph on her hair issues there is no mention of my characters looks for several chapters. No one found this disconcerting.

Next, cutting her actions from five sentences to two helps tighten things up a little.  Everyone got she was cold in sentence one.  Commenting on how she handled said cold in sentence two and three is efficient. No need to add some flowery sentences or elaborating.

What i learned – I am wordy.  I love to talk, or write. Some of the pre-edit additions were because of critiques and others were because I liked the visual they gave.  If there is anything i am learning, its that editing is subjective.  The one rule that all editors seem to agree on is that less is more.  Getting there might be a little different, but you will hear it from all credible editors out there.

As a reader what do you do if there are too many details?  As a writer, how do you notice you are being too wordy? I don’t know that I will ever be able to really edit myself in full.  Thank goodness for Editors.

 

Related articles:

http://kellyhashway.blogspot.com/2012/04/how-much-is-enough-or-too-much.html

http://ajbooks.blogspot.com/2010/12/ajs-3-rules-for-successful-writing.html

http://calisarhose.wordpress.com/2013/02/13/wednesday-wrap-up-with-editor-stacy-holmes/

 

Fun Fact Friday – Author Linda Carroll-Bradd

Life’s little moments – the ones that make you turn ruby red and you wish the earth would swallow you whole, aren’t always the disasters we see them as.  Sometimes those little gems are the ones that inspire a story.  Linda’s embarrassing moments certainly have.  Even if she isn’t using her embarrassing moments, Linda still takes a unique approach to get to know her characters.

Don’t forget to leave a comment at the end of this post for Linda to win a chance at a free copy of her book On With the Show.  You can also earn a chance to win by liking Linda on Facebook and leaving your email.

I want to thank Linda for sharing how she writes her characters. The post is all yours; take it away Linda!

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casualWhen I create characters, I always try to imagine either their funniest incident or most embarrassing moment. From there, I imagine how he or she dealt with that event and then I have the kernel for that character. Often, the character’s reaction to the event proves to be the reason he or she makes a transformative change. I have had this fact confirmed by various writing craft books I read over the years. But I learned this truth the hard way.

I majored in Business Administration in college at a time (1970s) when the number of females enrolled in my degree program was only a small minority. Maybe I should take a step back and state that I was a shy and quiet child (middle between an older and younger sister). So quiet that some of my parents’ acquaintances were surprised when I appeared at a Little League game my dad coached or at the neighborhood swimming pool. See, they knew about my more outgoing sisters, just not me because I spent most of my time reading.

Fast forward to college and the requirement to give an oral presentation on a company of our choice—I think it was a financial analysis. I was the sole female student in the class. Of course, I chose the last possible day on the schedule. I remember my grip on the edges of the podium was so tight, my knuckles ached. My face flushed, my stomach knotted, my mouth dried, and I stumbled over the last few lines of the report. I remember looking up, seeing big black dots, and asking “Any questions?” And then I fainted dead away, taking down the podium on top of me.

To this day, I remember the embarrassment of lying on the classroom floor and having the instructor hover over me until a nurse arrived with a wheelchair. The humiliation of being wheeled through the campus and waiting in the Student Health Center until I was checked out and my boyfriend came to get me. Needless to say, I turned in my final paper under the instructor’s office door and skipped the last class session.  A decade later, I used this story when I was next required to speak in a public setting—my first meeting as president of a volunteer group. You know what they say about starting a speech with a joke. Now, I’m using the story as a fun fact.

I used that incident—at least, the embarrassment part—when I created the first meeting in ten years of characters who used to be a couple in high school. This is from On With The Show, released by The Wild Rose Press in November 2012.

giveaway

I will be giving away a copy of this story to one chosen from those who leave a comment on this blog or who friend my Facebook page and leave an email address.

 

 

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Blurb

on with the showEvery Thanksgiving, Franzi Mueller returns to her hometown, Freedom Valley, to help with a musical show put on at the veteran’s hospital. After a decade of living in Houston, Franzi starts feeling nostalgic for the sense of community of her small Texas town. Too bad Mama has decided to play matchmaker and keeps pushing together Franzi and her ex-high school beau, Dietz Reinhardt. Local hardware store owner Dietz can see that her big city clothing designer job has worn Franzi down and he’s doing what he can to ease her load. Circumstances throw them together at every turn, and every glance and each touch ignites the old sparks. Can Franzi find what her creative spirit needs in Freedom Valley? Is time running out on this second chance for Dietz to win over her heart?

Excerpt

“Closing in five minutes.”

That deep voice she remembered so well. A quick glance told her not much had changed in the store’s decor. A little bit of everything and not much of anything. She forced a smile and strode to the wooden counter on the platform that stood half a foot higher than the floor. The man who’d spoken had his back to the door, a broad back that stretched the black t-shirt imprinted with Reinhardt’s Hardware, family owned since 1854. A fact the Reinhardt family was immensely proud of, but the crux of the reason she and Dietz had gone their separate ways. “Hello, Dietz.”

“Franziska Mueller…to what do I owe this pleasure?”

The smile on his lips didn’t reach his blue eyes. A fact she knew was totally her fault. “I just came in on the westbound train for my Thanksgiving visit and nobody was there to meet me. Erich Bruno happened by and he was driving me out to the ranch when he had to respond to a call.” Again, she sounded pathetic. Inside her coat pockets, both hands drew into fists. God, facing him one-on-one was harder than she’d thought it would be. “Can I use your phone?”

“Pay phone’s outside the door.”

Her body tightened. “What is with this town and pay phones?” She paced a couple steps and back. “Normally, I’d use my cell but the battery needs charging. I don’t have coins for a call.” Could she sound any more unprepared for life?

“So, you’re askin’ for a favor?” A black eyebrow arched over crystal blue eyes and he leaned an elbow on the counter. “Is that what I’m hearing?”

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Also available:

Amazon

All Romance

Barnes & Noble  

You can keep up with Linda’s latest news at:

website www.lindacarroll-bradd.com

blog       http://blog.lindacarroll-bradd.com

Facebook   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Linda-Carroll-Bradd-author/440814942635289

Twitter @lcarrollbradd

Inciting Incident Part 2 – Examples

For those that still aren’t sure about what the inciting incident is, answers.com gave the best summary:
* The conflict that begins the action of the story and causes the protagonist to act
*Without this event, there would be no story. Also, it is better described as the State of Imperfection made explicit.Maybe This Time

I tried to find some big name books to give you inciting incident examples; it’s a little harder than I thought. Mostly because I have been sticking my nose into romances for a while and sadly those are not always the big, big names out there.  But I will try anyway.

So here are some books that I think everyone has heard and/or read:

The Hunger Games (YA) is a great example, thank you to my commenter- Jamie  .  To see her response click here.

Marked (YA) – PC. Cast and Kristin CastDarkest Power - Kelley Armstrong

Inciting Incident occurs in the first chapter where Zoey is marked by a vampire to be destined to be a vampire.  Her mother’s reaction to the marking changes the course of her life and her actions.

The Summoning (YA)– by Kelley Armstrong

The inciting Incident again appears in the first chapter when the main character is encountered by a ghost in school.  She reacts as any normal person would – badly – and is sent away to a special school.  Her father’s lack of interest in her situation and his decision to send her away changes her life.

Twilight (YA) – Stephanie Meyer

The inciting incident is in the first chapter after the prologue.  She moves because of her mother.  Not exactly exciting, but the move to live with her father and changing school is what allows her to meet Sense and SensibilityEdward.

Sense and Sensibility (Romance) – Jane Austen

Their father dies in the first chapters and because women in that time period don’t get to keep anything their lives are altered forever.  Without the father passing and the greed of the half brother their lives would never have changed course.

Anne of Green Gables (YA) – L.M. Montgomery

Again – in the first chapter Anne is sent in mistake of a boy for adoption.  Matthew is too sweet to turn her away and takes her home anyway.  Because of Matthew’s actions Marella is forced to get to know Anne and allows her to stay.

Maybe This Time (Romance) – Jennifer Cruise

In the first chapter– Andy goes to try and get closure from her ex husband, but lucky for him his distant relative just died and named him guardian of two children.   If it weren’t for this morbid start, North would never have had a good reason to get Andy back into his life.

Cell (Horror) – Stephen King

In the first chapter a tone is sent out over cell phones that causes anyone who was talking on their cell to become a Zombie like creature. Creepy right? The main character doesn’t even own a cell.  Because the tone was sent over cell phones and he doesn’t own one he is now immersed in an apocalypse like world trying to get to his son.

It’s hard to think of any big books where the incident that gets the story going isn’t named in the first chapter or two.  I had stated that you need to cover it in the first three and still stand by this, although it is best to get it done quickly.  Some background may need to occur before the inciting incident is given.   That isn’t to say that all the details of how the incident occurred are reveled in the first chapters, but it is very clear as to why the story is moving forward.

Do you have any great examples of inciting incidents or any examples breaking the rules that actually work?  Even better – where is your inciting incident in your story?

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?

Fun Fact Friday -2013 Trends

Welcome to the new year.  What does a new year mean?  New beginnings, new resolutions, and new stories of course.  I don’t really believe in resolutions any more – that’s coming out of the mouth of someone who generally forgets I made a resolution and therefore I suppose I fail.  What I do believe in though, is escaping into stories.Prey

So what trends will continue from 2012 or start up?  Hard to say. But here are some trends that will probably continue.

  1. Established authors using 3,4, and even 5 POV’s.  Why is this?  Maybe to write the longer story?  I can’t really decide.  I am questioning whether the books would read better  if they stayed with the traditional 2 or 3 heads.  The push to continue cranking out books for less money might have something to do with branching out and trying to create filler with additional character POV.
  2. Billionaires – Thank you Fifty Shades of Grey and the numerous other billionaires seeking love in  50books.  This is most defiantly going to get worse.  Any why now.  Who wants to be poor.
  3. Apparently Bikers are up and coming due to the TV drama of Sons of Anarchy. I don’t watch this but it’s predicted that more and more romances will be set in bike shops and in the works of bikers.
  4. Thanks to bikers, apparently ink will become a new subset trend? The erotic book publisher, Ellora’s Cave, apparently has a line that caters to this already.
  5. New Adult – translation – younger main characters.  YA age with more sex or sexual energy.  What isn’t to love about this? I think this has been long and coming.
  6. Short Stories and Novella’s?  A few more independent publishers are popping up.  Even large publishers are using Novella’s to promote new and up-and-coming authors.

A few trends we can do without might be the Fifty Shades of Gray Halloween costumes come October and the naysayers who don’t like New Adult.  Some people just can’t be happy.

What trends do you see or have you read about coming up?

References and related articles:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeremygreenfield/2012/12/21/three-predictions-for-book-publishing-in-2013/

http://www.arecafe.com/cafe-news/romance-novel-trends-for-2013-and-beyond/

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?