Thursday, July 30, 2015

Taking the Writers Hat off

We all wear different hats--you've heard this whole deal before, I'm sure. You have your Spouse/Child/Parent/Worker(day job) hats and your Writer hat. We LOVE/HATE the writer hat. But what I want to talk about isn't the writer hat, it's the CHARACTER hat.

Canda and I were sending out a novella to beta readers and one comment came back that suggests we really throw ourselves into the characters point of view. What would they really be doing in this scene or that one? How would it look? What would they think or say? 

While this sounds SUPER obvious, we clearly didn't do it enough because the beta reader was spot on when we went back and reread the scene. Our main character was heartbroken and it read more like she was slightly inconvenienced. OOPS! Once we rewrote it, there was solid emotion and you could anguish along with her. Sad readers because of sad characters? Perfect. 

Once we stepped out of author mode and looked at the situation as the character we could better connect the reader to the story. Which, after all, is kinda the point.

How do you remember to write with your Character's Hat on?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Gotcha Covered

Q: What makes a great cover? 
A: I don't know, but I'll know it when I see it!

This pic has some of the books that came across my Goodreads feed this week. I usually get 500+ recommendations from friends reading lists every week. There is no way I can look at all of them, so I do what most readers do--check out the cover. These covers did their job and made me go to Amazon and look them up to see if I wanted to buy them!

Here are some of the thoughts I've been kicking around about what makes a great cover:

Draws attention and generates excitement, holds the eye

Represents the genre

Blends all elements to create the right tone and balance

Portrays life and/or movement

Is  uncluttered—Less is more (blank space is good)

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

So, Uh, What's a Beta Reader?

Beta is the second letter of the Greek alphabet. (It's the "bet" part of "alphabet," if you're interested in stuff like that.) Because of its position in the alphabet, it's used to describe things that are second.

In the world of software development, when something has gone into beta, that means that it's been released to a few people to try it out so they can work out the bugs before it's launched on a broader scale.

In the world of book writing, a beta reader is the second person to read the manuscript as it's in development. Meaning, you write it, so you're the alpha reader (and being the alpha is cool, as we learn from psychology), and then you send it to a beta reader. It's important to make this distinction so we understand the critique process and we're using each step most effectively. The beta reader's job is to take a look at your story while it's still in development. This is the stage where you can change characterization and plot and motive and pretty much rip everything to shreds and start from scratch, and it's the beta's job to tell you if that's needed.

You can get a beta-type evaluation from a couple of different sources. Your critique group, for instance, could fill that role for you, as can a one-on-one critique partner. I've used all of the above. But the most important thing to understand is that now is not the time for a paid editor. You need to send the book through a couple of other readers first or you'll just be wasting money. If your editor is having to point out a ton of things that should have been caught by beta readers, you'll just have to go back and have it edited again after the simple mistakes are caught, and that gets expensive. Hiring an editor should be your second-to-last step before submission or publication, the last step being a proofreader.

Anyway, back to betas. They're the ones who will tell you if your hero is a dweeb or your heroine is a ninny or if the plot just doesn't work. This is the stuff you need to hear early in development so you aren't spending zillions of hours on a plot line that will never actually work, but should be scrapped and redone. Then your zillions of hours will be well spent instead of thrown away.

I encourage you to get yourself some good betas. They will save you lots of heartache in the end. Listen to their thoughtful advice and weigh out their suggestions. Sometimes you'll need to disregard a suggestion because it doesn't work, and that's okay as long as you're not ignoring a major problem that needs to be resolved.

Have fun, and happy writing!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Publish Your Book

Want to publish a book?

There are three stages of publishing.

#1 Get your book written and set up for success (set up publishing business, get all edits done, and get branded)

#2 Make your book pretty (covers, formatting, set up release, front and back matter)

#3 Get your book out there (eBook distribution, print distribution, marketing -social network, advertising, newsletter)
**For more in depth discussion on these items, go here.

Each is as difficult as the next, but all can be truly rewarding once you master them.  Self- Publishing is a journey that can be rich with fascinating experiences if you prepare. If you choose to slap a book up before it's ready, it can be stressful and hectic. Do it right the first time and sit back and relax as you see your little creation run wild.

You can be like this guy when you publish

 Instead of this one

By the way, what do you think of my latest cover? It's so different from all my others, but I think I'm in love. You can get Kate Unmasked and 7 other clean adventure books in one boxed set, Daring Hearts. It's only .99 cents for all 8 books. Snag it up. It will leave you wanting more.

What's your favorite genre?

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Overused Words

by Donna K. Weaver

What's an overused word? It's a word that is used so often, it loses its meaning. It's becomes a filler word, like ... like. But how do you know what words are considered overused and which ones are you overusing?

Remember, using a word a few times isn't an issue. It's using that same over many times.

A long time ago, I discovered a website called autocrit. It used to be that you could submit 500 words for evaluation. Now you have to sign up and pay a small fee.

I think it's pretty cool because you can learn a lot about your writing based upon the evaluation. Following is the report I got on an early project of mine.

After seeing this report, I became aware of areas where I tended to use the same type of phrasing or word usage over and over again. Note that it's not suggesting you never use some of these words, merely that you use them with discretion.

Are there any overused words that you use a lot?

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

10 Steps to Better Writing

I learn something new at every writing event I go to. I have been to a lot of conferences and workshops, retreats and follow many writing blogs, but here's what I've learned boiled down to one sentence: To be a better writer, WRITE.

Yes, there are notebooks full of very useful notes on structure, characters, pacing and even marketing, editing and networking. I look through those notes often especially while I'm in a rut. But, you can't properly structure a unwritten story, there is no arch for a character undeveloped, and no pacing, marketing or editing prose for content unwritten.
To utilize the information in those notebooks I have to sit and write. Push through the terrible bits, even leave notes like "put cool stuff here" and "they should kiss now" then I can go back through, reworking, and polishing making it into a publishable, marketable product.

But first I must WRITE.10 Steps to Becoming a Better Writer
Like this infographic? Get more content marketing tips from Copyblogger.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Earning that Kiss

I read romance and write romance. One of my pet-peeves is when the characters kiss way (!) before they deserve to. It makes everything about the relationship seem cheap, and more like lust than love. I'm not likely to read on. I know it's a personal bias. There has however a lot of info about building satisfying relationships between characters that explains why some readers will react this way when the physical relationship zooms ahead.

At first it's all about ATTRACTION
Step 1: Eye to Body you like what you see

Step 2: Eye to Eye eye contact

Then it's about BECOMING FRIENDS
Step 3: Voice to Voice getting to know each other, flirting

Step 4: Hand to Hand first touch

Step 5: Arm to shoulder getting closer

Step 6: Arm to Waist more intimate and personal

Step 7: Face to Face - Kissing!

Step 8: Hand to Head Love

Step 9: Hand to Body Desire

Wait--aren't there supposed to be "12 Steps to Intimacy"? 
Yes, but I write clean romance, so the PG rating stops here. 

There's a lot of info about developing romantic relationships naturally. One of the blogposts I like relates the steps of intimacy to character conflict. It's on COWBELL at

This goes past the PG rating so read with care.