Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Not too Long. Not too Short.

Novellas are bigger than a short story, but shorter than a novel.
The length is between 17,500 and 40,000 words. Ideas to keep in mind when writing one...

You may not have enough room to invest in subplots. Make sure the plot is full and, the subplots dove-tail on it if they are included. They can be used to feed conflict into the main plot or as a way to bring your main characters together.

Scenes contain the main conflict and character development--there's no room for lengthy descriptions.

Novels can span a lifetime or centuries. They have hundreds of pages to fill. Novella's have a little more or less than a hundred pages so they typically have a compressed timeline. They answer the question: What's critical right now?

There isn't a lot of time for your readers to jump onto your character's side. Consider writing in first-person or using deep POV if in third-person.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Writing The End

After spending weeks and months and sometimes even years on a book, is there any feeling in the world more exhilarating than writing "The End" and then throwing up your hands in the time-honored cheer of victory that is recognized the world over? For an author, it's like chocolate and Christmas all in one.

In fact, I love writing the end so much that I often race toward it a whole lot faster than I should. I see the conclusion coming, I wrap everything up in a neat bow, I do the dance of the awesome . . . and then I realize that I did it again. I rushed the ending, and it's not going to be satisfying to the reader.

When you invite the reader into your world, you are creating an experience for them. You're asking them to invest emotionally in the story you're telling. You encourage them to fall in love with your characters. By the time they've been through every peak and valley and adventure with those characters, they very much want to know who succeeds and who fails, and they want that sigh of satisfaction at the end. Rushing the ending is like handing them a bowl of Jell-O when they've been anticipating chocolate cake all during the meal.

(Yeah, I'm using a lot of food metaphors ... chocolate metaphors ... but I'm on a diet and I've already lost two pounds since yesterday, so we'll just deal.)

As you reach the ending, check to make sure that you've answered all the story questions. Slow down the declaration of love or the discovery of the treasure or the solving of the crime just a little bit and let the reader savor the moment. Don't drag them out forever - that's annoying too - but give your reader enough to sink their teeth into. This is their payoff for having given you so much of their time.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have an ending to write. Of course, I can't really write an ending until the book is finished ... so if you'll excuse me, I have a book to write.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

SmartUrls? What?

You've heard of link shorteners like bitly.com, right? If you're using bitly, it's time to move onto bigger and better things with smarturl.it.

Once you finish this article you are going to want to give me a kiss! Guaranteed.

Never heard a link shortener? It's time to learn. It will take you from circling and circling success like these hawks to finding it.
Instead of giving someone this link to get to your books:


You would give them this:

The second one looks so much better-cleaner, and less scary to someone wanting to get your book or go to your website. It keeps the masses calm, like this picture. And it works great for sites like Instagram and Twitter where you are restricted to using only a few characters.

SmartUrl not only helps you shorten your links, but it will also revolutionize your marketing efforts.

Here is their motto:
Smarter, Not Shorter, URLs
smartURL is designed to help simplify the process of marketing online. Our goal is not just to make shorter URLs, but to create a platform that enables smarter marketing.

And it's true.
I'll highlight three features today- there might be a bonus at the end.

You can monitor your clicks and control your campaigns with ease.

Geo Aware links:  
SmartURLs can be set to drive traffic based on the click’s country of origin. Let's say your book is available on Amazon.com as well as every online store in the world available to you through Amazon like France, Germany, Australia, etc. You don't want to direct someone in France to your U.S. store. You want them to go to the store in the language they speak. Depending on where someone is when they click on your smartUrl (one link for all the various stores), it will take them to the right store. Seriously cool.

It also can direct traffic based on what type of device users click your links from. If someone clicks on your link on an android device, they will be directed to one online store and iPhone to another. 

You can redirect traffic in real time: Let's say I have a book coming out soon and I want to track interest or I'm releasing books every six weeks. With the latter, I can put a link in the back of a book that comes out before I release the next one. Maybe I send them to my books page on my blog until the book is released- or a page that gets them more excited for the release with an actual release date.

Once I'm ready to release that book, I simply go back into my smarturl account, find the link, click on it and put the new destination link in the place of the old one and click save. Everyone who clicks on the link after that will be taken to the new destination of the second link. I can change it a hundred times if I want and the link that people see never changes-only the destination does.

Here's a second example: I can first set up the link to take people to an information page on my blog (where I can collect their email to let them know when the book launches) until the book actually releases and then change it to the buy site as soon as it is actually released.

#4 Bonus! A kiss for you...
Smarturl keeps track of all of the above and creates awesome graphics and diagrams for you to use to track how your links are working. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Call for Submissions

Spots are available for new (never published before) novellas to be a part of our next Sweet & Sassy Anthology releasing April 2017. 

The theme is Europe
(meaning it must have part of the setting there and be a meaningful part of the story)
you must include a strong, clean romance element.
(No swearing. No sex. Nothing erotic please.) 
To submit, you'll need 
  • A full synopsis (tell all the plot points from beginning to end, including the ending)
  • The first chapter of your story.
  • Email to 2anthologies@gmail.com by October 30th.                       
The purpose of this anthology is to help provide more exposure for the authors included.

Those who are chosen for the anthology will need to pay $20.00 for cover and formatting and $25 for promotions, agree to adhere to the schedule and word counts, critique for all members of the group, and pay for their own story to be professionally line edited prior to final submission. All other deadlines will be emailed out to those who are chosen.

The accepted stories only have a 90-day exclusive to the anthology, then the authors may publish them on their own.

We are looking forward to reading your stories! 

Proposed Schedule

October 30: Submission of application (full synopsis and first chapter)
November 15 (on or before ): Notification to successful applicants 
January 31Draft (20,000-30,000 word count) sent to group for critiques
February 15 (on or before )Critiques back to all other authors
March 15 (on or before ): Professionally line edited final draft due
April 15Proposed publication date 

Royalties are paid twice per year in April and October.

Feel free to email, FB or comment any questions you may have. :)

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Character = Plot = Character

One of my favorite professional development sites is a blog by
K.M. Weiland
called Helping Writers Become Authors

A couple of years ago, she did a 15-session series of weekly blogpost about character arcs and story structure that is amazing!!!

If you don't like to read blogs, NO PROBLEM. She podcasts most of her blog posts and embeds them in the post so you can just click and listen. In this series it begins on Part 2--you'll have to read part 1.

Here's a link to the first post in this series:

Creating Stunning Character Arcs, Pt. 1: Can You Structure Characters?

The best part of the lessons are the questions she puts in each segment that you can add to your story bible (or use to create one) to deepen your characters and story.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Getting New Covers

When we first release a book, we design a cover we think will sell and we send the book out into the world. Over time, though, we might find that the cover isn't as eye-catching as we wanted, or we've found something we like better.

Are we stuck with the former cover? No!

There's absolutely nothing wrong with changing out covers that don't work. In fact, that's one of the first things to look at if a book isn't selling.

Let me tell you a little story.

Back when I first started Trifecta, we released a book called The Princess and the Prom Queen by Jaclyn Weist. The cover concept was pretty straightforward - it's about two girls in two different eras of time, so we did a split cover with one girl on one side and one on the other, as you can see here:

This is actually the second version - the first version had simpler font for the title.

This story is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty, and the author began getting fan mail asking for a sequel. She decided she wanted to use the evil sorceress more in the second book, and found a fantastic evil sorceress picture. This is how that cover came out:

Now, you can see how awesome this sorceress picture is - there's no way we could have passed that up - but now there was the problem that the two books don't match. Not a problem at all, actually! We'd been talking for a while about redoing the first cover to increase sales, and some study of the market had shown us that gorgeous dresses are selling really well right now, so with some bibbety-bobbity-boo (sorry - wrong fairy tale), we created this:

All I have to do in order to change the cover is upload it to Kindle and CreateSpace. I don't have to get a new ISBN or anything because it's the same book - just in a different package.

So if you'd like to give an older book cover a little boost, feel free to experiment and see what you come up with. You're not obligated to keep the same cover forever if you'd like a change.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Writers' Retreat in Hawaii 2018

iWriteNetwork is planning our first WOW retreat.

5 wonderful days of adventure that are sure to spike your creativity and drive your imagination wild.

Save the date now and start saving your pennies.  There is very limited availability and it is first come first served.

Plan on spending about $1500 buckeroos. We estimate that you will spend about $800 on the flight, but if you watch prices, you can get that cost down. (You will book your own flight.) We will secure accommodations. It looks like it will cost somewhere between $500 and $700 for the five nights. We will be providing breakfast, but you will be in charge of your own meals beyond that. Don't forget to budget for activities and souvenirs.

We can't wait to share this special WOW retreat with you. If this sounds like something you'd be interested in, give us a shout out.

I can almost feel that beautiful warm sand between my toes right now. What about you?