Tuesday, December 17, 2013

How to Find the Right Editor

One of the major steps of self-publishing is Editing. 
Let's banish all the secrets today.
It's no secret! You must use an editor before you publish.

It's a big no-no to publish a book without proper editing. What is proper editing? It is the processing of making your book as clean as it possibly can be and I'm not only talking about grammar and punctuation. It also includes making sure you have great story arcs, character arcs and other essentials.

The first step is to get into an effective critique group. These groups will catch a lot of the story problems you might have. This is a group that touches your story at the very basic of levels. It includes things like character likability, story flaws, writing that is easy to understand, showing versus telling and initial grammar and punctuation.

The next step is to have a few people (3-4) read through your critiqued manuscript. Give them specific instructions on what to look for, but don't give them such a long list that they can't see the whole picture. Make sure they jot down general impressions and if note if there are any lingering story flaws. Correct anything you feel has merit.

Find the right readers to look for story problems.
The third part of editing is getting your manuscript to an editor. Keep in mind that good editors are busy and you need to schedule in advance. For some, this means six months in advance. Think of it this way, it will keep you to a schedule. You should have a content edit and a copy edit done. You can use the same editor for both or switch to a second editor for the copy edit. The content edit is all about story. The copy edit is all about grammar and punctuation and is done after all content issues are resolved.

The question becomes, who do I hire? Most editors will allow you to send ten pages or a full chapter for a free critique. This does two things.
It's important to have a  good relationship with your editor

Number one, it lets the editor see what kind of work you do and how much time it would take them to
do a full edit. This helps them determine price. Crappy work takes longer to edit and therefore will cost you more to get the edit.

Number two, it lets you check the editor out and see if you like her style. Editing is not an exact science. There are different styles editors have. When you get the edit back, ask yourself how it makes you feel. Do you love what they've done/suggested? Do you want to go cry in your room because their words hit you wrong (now, I'm not saying that the editor should pretend there are no problems, but he should not make you feel terrible, either). You have to trust your editor is doing the right thing for you. Make sure the editor doesn't destroy your voice. That is not the editor's job. Finding the right editor has a lot to do with how you feel about him.

Make sure you can work with her without wanting to kill her. LOL.

Your editor needs 2-4 weeks for the content edit and another 1-2 weeks for the copy edit.  And, remember, you need to have time to fix the content errors before the copy edit. And, you need to fix the copy edits before you get your book formatted and published.

Happy editing! 

What questions do you have about editing? 
If you've worked with an editor, what did you like and what did you dislike?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Are You Afraid?

I talk all the time with authors who are afraid of what the future might hold for them as they branch out into this wonderful, crazy thing called writing. They're worried that no one will like their book, that they won't sell anything, that they'll get terrible reviews, that they'll look foolish on a large scale. Some are afraid of success and all the positives and negatives that can go along with that. There's a lot to fear when you're an author.

But did you ever get what you wanted without risk?

Did you ever accomplish something new by continuing to do the same things you've always done?

Have you ever been given a huge prize for staying home in bed?

I agree with you - writing is scary. Sending your stuff out there for all the world to see is scary. Hearing what others have to say about your book is scary. But it's a good kind of scary - the kind that tells you you're still alive and that your heart is still beating.

Don't let your fears hold you back. Your fears will keep you from finding out what it truly means to live. And it would be a shame to go for an entire lifetime without knowing what you were here to do.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Hooking Your Reader

by Donna K. Weaver

We hear all the time about how we should open our books with a hook, but what the heck is a hook anyway? Well, here is an interesting little tidbit from Wikipedia (the underlining is mine).
A narrative hook is a literary technique in the opening of a story that "hooks" the reader's attention so that he or she will keep on reading. The "opening" may consist of several paragraphs for a short story, or several pages for a novel, but ideally it is the opening sentence.
The key is to keep the readers reading. If they like the first sentence, they will also read the first paragraph, and if they like the first paragraph, they may read the whole page, and if they enjoy that they may read the first chapter and then finish the book.

I pulled some random books from my bookcase and posted the first sentence from each below. Now, bear in mind that hooks can vary according to genre. For example, if you're reading a suspense or thriller you would expect something to grip you right away.
Szeth-son-son-Vallano, Truthless of Shinovar, wore white on the day he was to kill a king.  --The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson (epic fantasy)
I plastered myself flat against the wall, straining to distinguish footsteps from heart palpitations.  --Strength by Carrie Butler (NA urban fantasy)
I don't do catsuits.  --I, Spy by Jordan McCollum  (romantic suspense)
Daddy said, "Let mom go first."  --Across the Universe by Beth Revis (YA SciFi)
Jori was getting really tired of people pointing guns at him.  --Torn Canvas by Donna K. Weaver (adventure romance)
Mrs. Anderson was dead.  --I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells  (horror)
The kidnapper looking down at Naomi held a book of poetry to his chest. --The Breakaway by Michelle Davidson Argyle (psychological thriller)
You would think I'd never jumped off a cliff before, based on how long I stood there. --Sky Jumpers by Peggy Eddleman (MG Dystopian)
There's an interesting blog post here with ten types of literary hooks.

So, what kinds of things hook you as a reader? How much time do you give them before you look at a different book?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Some Professional Writing Advice

I have been looking for some writing quotes to put up near my desk, to keep me writing when I hate my characters and think the plot is trash and I generally want to douse it all in gasoline and light it on fire. If you've been writing for any amount of time, you've been there too. :) So I searched the web and these are the ones I choose.

I often keep myself from starting the next chapter or scene because I want to go back and tweak and change what I've written before. I need to let it go and get the words out and finish the story then go back and tweak and change a little before beta readers. The editing can't happen if I don't finish the book!

 Sometimes I need to give myself an amount of time I have to sit and write, to not stop writing, until I am actually inspired. Even when the words are crap, I keep going, then I find I don't want to stop. I'm on a roll and have the inspiration I was just going to sit around waiting for. If I just get to work, I'll become inspired. Nothing comes easy, I've got to work for it!

I often think that if there were some solid rules or guidelines for writing it would be easier. But that's the brilliant thing, it's not easy. If it were everyone would do it and where would that glorious struggle be that we all enjoy? Part of the excitement of finishing a book is that gruesome climb to the top we've endured. We've scraped together our soul and put it on a page, deleted it and pulled another, shiny bit back together to perfect sentences over and over until finally we are at the end looking back over it with pride. Each writing journey is different, for each book we write even, and that's the beautiful part.

Which writing quotes do you like?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Fabulous First Lines

I love the promise of first lines in a book.
It isn't that I'll stop reading at the first line, but if it's amazing I find I'll put more effort into the reading. I love the questions they provoke and the tone they set. Here are a few that make me want to read on:

"A mountain range of rubble in which our narrator introduces: himself--the colors--and the book thief"
(Marcus Zusah)

"The air crackled like a gathering thunderstorm the moment the girl entered the chamber."
(Kimberly Derting)

"The Austrian horses glinted in the moonlight, their riders standing tall in the saddle, swords raised."
(Scott Westerfeld)

"I had arrived early for my own assassination."
(Jennifer A. Nielsen)

"There is one mirror in my house."
(Veronica Roth)

"The screw through Cinder's ankle had rusted, the engraved cross marks worn to a mangled circle."
(Marissa Meyer)

"A tree branch slapped John Craig across the face, scraping his skin, but he kept on running and ignored the stabbing pine needles on his bare feet."
(Heather Brewer)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

It's Retreat Time! iWriteNetwork's Spring 2014 Writer's Retreat

We are so excited to invite you to be a part of the iWriteNetwork writer's retreat this spring
March 27-29th 2014, in Heber, Utah.
3 days to write, write, write

How to sign up for this retreat: 
FYI: there are only 19 spots. All meals are included AND there will be mini-workshops on self-publishing during the retreat so that if you choose to go to all the workshops, you will have all the tools you need to self-publish your own books.  See pics of the awesome accommodations for the retreat here.

1. Pick which bed type/price you would like (see below)

2. Send an email to 
iWriteNetwork@gmail.com with your first and second (if you have one) preference.

3. We will send you a confirmation email and a link to pay-through Paypal- (you may choose to split your payment into three and send one third immediately, on third on Dec. 10th and the last third on Jan. 10th. You must pay in full by Jan. 10th.)  We must have your payment within one hour of receiving your confirmation email or your spot will be given to the next person in line.

NO REFUNDS-thank you. (you can, however transfer your bed to someone else if you discover you are unable to attend)

The bed options:  (if you are planning to choose a queen or a king bed, you might want to find someone to be your roomie if you care who is in the bed with you.)

**Anything highlighted in yellow is available
***Anything highlighted in red is reserved/paid for

Bedroom 7: 1 King with bathroom                    2 spots for $250 each

Bedroom 6: 3 bunk beds               3 lower bunks @ $175 each
                                                  One, Two, Three
                                                  3 upper bunks @ $150 each
                                                  One, Two, Three

Bedroom 5: Queen and a Bunk   2 spots in the queen @  $175
                                                       1 upper bunk @ $150
                                                       1 lower bunk @ $175

Bedroom 4: 2 Queens                   4 spots @ $175
                                                  OneTwoThree, Four

Bedroom 3: 1 Queen                    2 spots @ $200 each

Bedroom 2: 1 Queen                           2 spots at $200 each
                                                  One, Two,

Bedroom 1: 1 Queen                            2 spots at $200 each

We are So excited to have you join us. 
Have question? 

Email us-

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Knowing When to Stop

Maybe you've seen one of State Farm's recent commercials. Two guys are walking home from the grocery store, their arms impossibly full of bags. They cross a long bridge and you get the sense that they still have quite a ways to go before they can set down everything they're carrying.

One guy says to the other, "I just saved a ton of money on my car insurance."

The other guy replies, "Wait. You have a car?"

The first guy says, "Yeah. It's an SUV."

And the second guy looks all chagrined, like, Dude, so why are we carrying all these groceries?

It's a mildly funny commercial, but let me tell you what would have made it even more funny - if they had ended it before the last line. "Wait. You have a car?" is the punch line. We don't need anything after that.

By tacking, "Yeah. It's an SUV" on the end, the advertisers are waving in our faces. It's like they're saying, "Hey, did you get it? We made a funny. Isn't it a horrible piece of irony that not only does he have a car, but it's huge? Like, he's totally walking miles with his food and he doesn't have to. Get it? Get it? Ha ha ha ha!!" The audience isn't being allowed to feel the humor for themselves - they're being commanded to feel a certain way instead of choosing to feel it.

And I've seen this a lot in books.

If you're writing comedy, let the joke float into the air on its own and come to rest gently on the mind of the reader. Let them realize it's funny. If you make a big deal out of it, you're in essence acting just like Uncle Bob, who slaps you on the back every time he says something he thinks is funny. "Get it? Get it? It's a joke."

If you're writing an emotional scene and you want the reader to feel emotional too, don't layer it on so thick that the reader has to dig out of it with a shovel. Show them why they should feel sad and show honest reactions from the characters, and then step back and trust the reader's imagination to take them the rest of the way.

Know when you've done enough, and know when to stop.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


by Donna K. Weaver

If you don't already know what NaNoWriMo is (sometimes called NaNo or WriMo), I'm sure you've seen it being mentioned.

So what is it? The video explains.

The key to NaNo is turning off your internal editor. You're not worried about perfection here. You'll fix any plot holes or other problems later when you edit--but don't do that until you've written the dang book!

Check out the NaNoWriMo site--it's all run by donations. There's no cost to sign up, and there are great prizes if you win. Lots of  inspiration and encouragement will be coming your way during these 30 days of insanity. High schools are even getting involved. 

It's an amazing experience, even if you don't hit that 50,000 word mark. I didn't reach it the first year I tried, but I've written three books since. My last year's NaNo project, Torn Canvas, will be coming out in January 2014. 

Our chatroom (click the word chatroom on the light green bar across the top of the blog above) is already active with writing sprints. It will be a fun place to come beginning Friday, November 1st.

So, anyone interested in doing some write-ins? It doesn't just have to be here in Utah. Choose a place with WiFi and let us know. People who can't come in person can participate on the chatroom.

Who's doing NaNo this year?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Writing Prompts

by Deanna Henderson

Whenever I'm feeling stuck I like to look through writing prompts.There are a few websites that I like, I'll share my top three here.
 I go to Seventh Sanctum because they have a prompt generator and you can choose how many prompts you want, and how complex each should be. I don't always put each prompt into my writing, sometimes I reset it over and over, I find this helps me to think more creative, outside what I typically go for. I wanted 3 of random complexity:

  •  The story ends during a war. During the story, there is an assassination. The story must have a chimera at the beginning. The story must involve a door in it.
  • A character dyes their hair, and the action has far better results than expected. A character is optimistic throughout most of the story. During the story, a character drinks something that disagrees with them.
  • The story takes place a century in the past. During the story, some one's method of transportation breaks down. The story must involve a disk in the beginning. During the story, a character finds a long-lost friend.

For fantasy names, words, and phrases I like The Forge. I have spent a lot of time playing here. I think the random-ness of it is what keeps me so entertained. Here's the first four I got under Spell Forge:

  •  Thord's Untouchable Horde
  •  Unstable Catapult
  •  Unnatural Treaty 
  •  Kull's Sapphire Maiden. 

If it doesn't sound quite right yet, click the word you want to change and it will switch to another suggestion, continue until you like it.

For Plot and Characters among other things, Ran Gen is fun to play with. I looked up World-Law Generator and got:

  •  Arson is neither legal or illegal.

Have you tried random (plot, name, magic, etc...)  generators in your own writing?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Disappointing Middle

by Canda Mortensen

I visited my fave donut shop last week and ordered my usual: chocolate, cream filled donut. I took a bite on the end--no cream. Maybe it's a little further in--took another bite--no cream. Maybe it's on the other side--no cream.

What I found out is that there was less than a teaspoon of pastry cream piped into
my donut; I felt ripped off.

But it made me think about writing a novel. The middles are hard for me to keep the pacing and action high. During my revisions, I find myself working mostly on the middle while the beginning and end only need a little work.

In our current novel, Deanna and I had to remove the entire middle of the story. That was painful but necessary. Nothing really happened and we took 25,000 words to talk about it. Now during the rewrite we are paying more attention to the conflict between the characters that creates tension and increasing the stakes.

I wonder if we have to get to know our characters better by writing the first draft before we understand what will be in conflict between everyone to improve it in the second draft.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Formatting Books for Dummies

By Cindy M. Hogan
Formatting-a word that meant nothing to me until I published my first book. It was all an inky black process and it didn't have to be.

Reader's love a well formatted book

Formatting is the process of getting your book in the right form to be printed or turned into an eBook. Formatting is what makes your book look good to the reader. The right formatting creates reader-love and the great thing is, the reader doesn't even realize why they like it so much.

I'm giving you an overview of the process so that you'll know where to go to either do it yourself or pay someone to do it.

Formatting for a print book is different from formatting for an eBook-crazy, right?


Do it yourself:

You will either choose to go with a print-on-demand company that both prints and distributes your books as they are ordered, or you will choose a printer and a separate distributor. In either case, these companies tell you what format they want your book in so that they can print it.

Lightning Source is one print-on-demand company and Createspace is another. (There are others, but these are the two I'm most familiar with.)  Both tell you on their sites exactly what they want and need from you.

If you go with a printer that is separate from your distributor, they too tell you exactly what they need from you.

After you upload your file, they will either give you a hard copy or a soft copy to review. Hard copies come in the mail and soft copies are files on your computer. You have to approve each page. And I might add, that your book should be perfectly edited at this point. If you upload it to your printer and then it needs some things edited, you will pay out the nose to get it done.

Hire it out:

I formatted my first book by myself and it turned out all right after a lot of tweaking(not to be confused with twerking) and anguished bellows. If I can do it, you can, too.

I hire it out now. It costs me about $80 bucks, which is a steal. I use the time I save to write. But, if you like figuring stuff out (and there are a ton of how-to books on this now) then save your money and do it yourself.


You want your book to uploaded to all these sites: kdp.com, nookpress.com, Smashwords.com (they distribute to apple, diesel, kobo and other retailers as well as libraries-you can upload to each site if you choose. Right now, I'm doing it the easy way by uploading to Smashwords and having them distribute to all the retailers except Amazon and Barnes and Noble -if you like formatting, then do it yourself. You will make a touch more and have more control.)

When I started publishing two years ago, the only real resource for eBooks was Smashwords and conversion software like mobicreator and mobipocket. Now there is a ton of free software: Calibre and Sigil, for example, and mobicreator (owned by Amazon) is no more.

Do it yourself:
To get a clean document use the Styleguide by Smashwords. Then you can upload it to Calibre or Sigil to create a .mobi (for Kindle) or an .epub (for all other readers) Then you can send copies to whomever you please in the format they like.

In the beginning, it takes patience to format your books
Kdp.com (Amazon) helps you out, too. Here is their help page  (They now accept word documents)

Nookpress.com (Barnes and Noble) Help page (They now accept word documents)

Smashwords Style Guide here (They format your book into a ton of different formats and then distribute it to retailers for you for a small cut of the profits.)

Once you've uploaded your book, you should always preview it and download the file to your computer to see what, if anything you need to fix. All of the three main sites allow this and encourage it.

Hire it out:
If you don't like all the tedium of doing it yourself-it's only tedious the first few times, I hear, then hire someone.
Smashwords has a list of approved formatters- go here to request the list. It will cost you between 30-60 bucks. I pay $30 per book and she formats it for Smashwords, .ePub, and .mobi-totally worth it to me. She guarantees its acceptance, also. I have a good friend that also does formatting for me when I need it. Why do I have 2? They both have their pros and cons and good formatters are busy and sometimes their schedules don't fit our deadlines.

I love how eBook retailers are making it easier and easier for authors to get their work out there. Nook press even lets you edit on their site now.

Why do I hire it out? 
First off, I hated the tedium of formatting. I have friends who do it themselves and it only takes them about 30 minutes because they pushed through that tedium. If you're short on cash, it's definitely the way to go.
I'd rather be writing. :)

What do you think? 
Will you (or do you) hire your formatting out
or are you a do it yourselfer?

By Cindy M. Hogan
Bestselling author of the Watched TrilogyAdrenanline RushGravediggers, First KissStolen KissRebound Kiss and Rejected Kiss.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Costumes and Characters

by Tristi Pinkston

It's October, and that means Halloween, and that means chocolate!  Um, actually, that's not the focus of this blog, but hey, it's always fun to talk about chocolate. What I really want to talk about is costumes.

It's so much fun to put on a costume and pretend to be someone else. In that princess dress, you feel beautiful and feminine. In that pirate costume, you feel powerful, like you rule the seven seas. You can be anyone, conquer anything, and have any experiences you wish. You can change your whole personality - be anyone else in the world.

And that's also what makes writing so much fun.

When you write, pretend like you've just put on a costume. Pretend to be your character. What would she think? How would he act? What would she say? Put yourself in their shoes.

A lot of new writers struggle with putting emotions into their books. A great way to go about it is to pretend that the book is happening to you, and then write how you would feel. You don't have to figure out how your character would feel because you know how you would feel. Of course, you'd tweak it a little to match your character's personality and whatnot, but you are your own best testing ground for emotional writing.

So put on your writing "costume" and get to work. Become your characters. See what they see. Have the adventures they have. And above all else, have a great time!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

iWN Tour

by Donna K. Weaver

We have a special event planned for January. We're going to have a tour of a police station (South Salt Lake) to learn about police procedures.

What? You mean you can't learn how the police do things by watching movies and TV?

Slap yourself! No, you can't.

Because the officers will do better answering your questions if they know in advance what your questions are, please post your questions in the comment section below. The deadline is December 25th (so you'll remember the date).

Mark your calendar for January 11, 2014.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Building Stronger Vocabulary

by Deanna Henderson

Whether it's in your writing or your own personal reading, vocabulary is important. It gives you the ability to communicate your thoughts, ideas and emotions in a precise and effective way. Reduces repetitive word use and ability to make finer distinctions. You are able to understand other vocabulary better. i.e. My husband speaks Spanish fluently, one benefit, he tells me, is that he now understands English better because of his understanding of another language.

A vast vocabulary comes before success and not because of it, therefore, if we are hoping to become successful as authors (and I am), it stands to reason that we should have a boundless number of words at our disposal. So how can you increase your own vocabulary?

There are a lot of different ways. As children we learned our vocabulary from our parents. We spoke as they did, mimicking the words we heard and inferring meaning from the sentences our parents used. In my own family my husband is constantly asking me to "dumb it down" to which I refuse. My children will learn from me and I will not change my speech patterns for the sake of simpler words. Instead I try to structure my sentences to help them decipher the meaning of a word they may not already be familiar with. I will explain a word if asked, otherwise they eventually pick up the vocabulary and I hear it from their own mouth, used correctly. :)

You can study suffixes and prefixes, root words and buying a word of the day calender. You can even get an email with a word of the day and meaning sent to you, but my personal favorite is to read. It's hard to find books that have a higher vocabulary in them these days, but when you find them they're golden.

You can write down words you are unfamiliar with and look them up, or ask others for the meaning. This method is particularly helpful for my daughter who's is in the 3rd grade. And finally you can make vocab flash cards to learn the words and meanings--takes you back to your high school/college days right? :)

I love words, even if I read a book that didn't go the way I wanted or had characters I was in conflict with, if the writing is beautiful with well chosen words that ring in my ears long after the story ends, I will reread the book for the love of the words.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Importance of LCCNs

by Cindy M. Hogan

I always get LCCNs for my novels
I get asked all the time about LCCNs since all my self published novels have them.

It's time to put all the answers in one place.

What is an LCCN?

The Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN) is a unique identification number that the Library of Congress assigns to titles that it is likely to acquire.  It may not acquire your  book, but if you don't get an LCCN, they definitely won't.

Why do I want one?

LCCNs are used by librarians access the associated bibliographic record in the Library of Congress’ database or to obtain information on various book titles in other databases. This makes you more visible to libraries and people who frequent them-readers. Just who you want to find your books.

Where do I find the LCCN in books?

A book publisher (that's you if you are self published) typically prints the LCCN on the title page in the following manner: Library of Congress Control Number: 2001012345 (this number is just an example).

Can I get one as a self-published author?

Only U.S. book publishers are eligible to obtain an LCCN. That means you have to get a business license as a publisher. If you self publish, you should definitely get a business license. There are huge penalties if the government finds you without one. Just remember, you are the CEO of your publishing company. To receive an LCCN, publishers must list a U.S. place of publication on the title page or copyright page.

Does it cost money to get an LCCN?

There is no charge for registering, but you or your publisher must send a copy of the “best edition” of the book for which the LCCN was pre-assigned immediately upon publication to the Library of Congress. They give you the address where you are to send it. The “best edition” of a book is the retail paperback or hardcover version of the book.

When do I get my LCCN?

You apply for your LCCNs when you send your book for it's final copy edit. You can only get one for your book before it is published. 

Can I get one for my eBooks?

Books published in electronic form are ineligible for an LCCN. Said another way, eBooks are not eligible for LCCNs, only print books are.

How do I get one?

Should you wish to obtain an LCCN on your own, the first step is to complete the Application to Participate and obtain an account number and password, which takes one to two weeks. The application is found online. Complete information about the LCCN process can be found at http://www.loc.gov/publish/pcn/   From there, you are given a liaison that will work with you on all your other books and send you all your LCCNs from then on. During peak seasons, it may take another few weeks to get your number.

The nitty-gritty

You don't have to get an LCCN, but all traditional publishers do, so why not you? Don't you think your book should be in the Library of Congress? Pretty cool if you ask me. 

Get your business license as a publisher and go get your LCCNs. Why not?

Now that you know, are you going to go for it? 
Why or why not?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Marketing Yourself

by Tristi Pinkston

Many authors believe that when they start marketing, they're only marketing their books. This isn't the case - when you become published, you're marketing yourself just as much, if not more, than your book. People will buy things from a person they like. Then you wow them with a great product, and it's a total win.

I recall being at a bookstore and feeling completely annoyed by a particular author who was being super aggressive with his sales pitch. He was like a mastiff, practically demanding that everyone buy his book and insinuating that there was something wrong with them and amiss with their parentage if they did not buy his book. Truth be told, I was rather interested in it, but his behavior and attitude were so irritating that I wouldn't have picked up that book at gun point. I'm just rebellious that way.

Additionally, I am following an author on Twitter who does nothing morning, noon, and night but post "Get my book here." "Here's an excerpt." "You should come buy my book."  There's no personal interaction of any kind, and I can't get a sense of who she is. That means I have no idea if I'll identify with her world view and if I'll connect with her book.

Then I know another person on Facebook who just sighs and moans all the time. Nothing is ever right, this publisher or that publisher rejected her, on and on ... I eventually stopped getting her updates because they were so depressing.

These are all examples of ways in which our personalities, if we're not careful, (or lack of personalities) can turn a potential reader off.

Of course, there are times when we pick up the book before we meet the author. But what do we do when we find a book we like? We hunt down the author. We read their blog, we check out their site, we "like" their page on Facebook. And we get to know them a little better as people. You know what - there have been plenty of times when I've enjoyed someone's book but couldn't abide them, and so I didn't purchase more of their books because they just rubbed me the wrong way. It might not be entirely fair, but that's just human nature.

The point I'm making here is that as a professional in the writing industry, you should be building a positive online presence and preparing to show the world the very best of yourself. Of course you'll have bad days and there's nothing wrong with posting about them on Facebook. However, your bad day posts shouldn't overtake your entire wall, and you should try to balance them out with a touch of levity. That makes you approachable. Keep in mind that the minute you put yourself out there, you are out there, for good or for bad. People might not recognize you in grocery stores, but they are watching you and your career (that sounds rather stalkerish) and you have the chance to either make yourself a compelling person or a repelling person by the way you present yourself. Be genuine, be yourself, but be mindful of your potential readership and the impact your words and behavior will have on them.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Proofing Your Work

by Donna K. Weaver

Editing. Proofing. What's the difference?

Editing is when you correct, condense, or otherwise modify something. In the case of writers, written material.

Proofing is when you examine for flaws or errors.

Sometimes--too often for me--my eyes can play tricks on me. My mind wants me to see what I'm looking for. And I miss things.

Here's an example for you. How many Fs do you see in the sentence below?

Finished files are the result of years of scientific study
combined with the experience of years.

How many did you find? (I'll tell you how many you should have found at the end of the post.)

One way to get around this is to read your manuscript aloud. While that works to see how the sentences flow, it's not the best for proofing. That stupid brain again.

Newer versions of MS Word have something called Speak. Up at the top of your opened document, you should have a Quick Access Toolbar. Some people choose to have it at the top of the Ribbon and others (like me) have it at the bottom. Here you can add icons for all the features you use a lot.

Click on the drop-down thingy on the left in yellow to get the window you see to the left.

Select More Commands (second from the bottom)
It assumes you want to use Popular Commands. Click on the down arrow and choose All Commands.

Click into the list on the left under All Commands. Type in the letter S, and it will take you to the first option that begins with S.

You will still need to scroll down because there are a lot of Ss.

When you get to Speak, click the Add>> button to put it on your toolbar list in the right column. Then click OK at the bottom of the window.

You will now have this little box that resembles a cartoon dialogue box. If you scroll over it, the box will say Speak selected text.

Now you're ready for what I call my final proof. I highlight a paragraph of text and click this icon. Word reads it to me. I use it at work too. There, the voice is masculine (mechanical) but, at home, it's feminine (not quite so mechanical). 

Yes, it messes up some word pronunciations. It says "Braedon" without a problem but wants to make "pointed" sound French. O_o

As it reads, though, it catches those things my brain makes up because it thinks they should be there. There was a paragraph in the manuscript for A Change of Plans that used the word "martial". That particular paragraph had been unchanged for several edits. Probably a dozen people had read it (including three editors), and everyone had missed that I'd type it "marital". 

Big difference between martial and marital. What my eyes missed, my ears caught immediately.

So, back to that first test. The number of Fs is six.
How many did you find?
(hint: Finished files are the result of years of scientific study
combined with the experience of years.  
It's those tricksy "of" words that tripped me up the first time I read that sentence years ago.)

Do you have any proofing tricks?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Magic of Writing

by Canda Mortensen

This past week I've gone back to a project that I haven't work on for months (Okay, it's more months that there are in a year, but let's move on.) because I had a glimpse of some things that need to change to strengthen the conflict and improve the structure.
Sounds easy?
Of course not, thus procrastination!

When we (Deanna and I write together) first wrote the novel, it was fun and exciting to work on. Chick Lit is a favorite genre for both of us. We were excited when trouble swamped the main character, or when something snarky just worked in the dialogue, or when minor characters nudged their way into our hearts. Every scene was a new discovery. Magical.

That fun even held through a few rewrites. Now the fun is dead, cremated, drifting in the wind somewhere over the Arctic. All that is left is work, work, work.

I made it through nine chapters last week and there are definite improvements, but that's only 1/3 of the book and, if I'm being honest, there's a little dread about continuing with the edits. I started rationalizing: maybe it's okay the way it is, who would notice these small changes, (and the big one) it's not going to be published anyway.

But I read these thoughts by another author:

Maybe your muse hangs around for the whole project--mine doesn't. She hates work! She runs off to find someone to party with when the writing choices get hard. But I want to learn this writing thing so I keep writing and changing and fixing. This week's thought: Keep writing--make it magical!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

St. George Writing Retreat Announced

by Cindy M. Hogan
Are you ready for this?

You are not going to want to miss this one. It's time to take your writing to the next level.
Join us.
*Details coming soon

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Eating for Writers

As I type, I'm sitting here with a plate of scrambled eggs cooked in coconut oil on a bed of fresh spinach and a few marinated artichokes. Two years ago, I would have been sitting here with a sack of gummy peach rings and a Cherry Coke. A pretty big difference, huh?

This isn't to say that I'm a perfect angel all the time. I have my moments. Er, hours. But I've learned something pretty important. See, I used sugar and caffeine to keep me going when I had huge projects to finish up, but they were stripping my brain and actually making it harder for me to concentrate. Then I'd have a hard time sleeping because of all that sugar and caffeine. 

When you sit down to write, think about the parts of your body that are going to be taxed the most. Your brain, definitely. That's where the coconut oil comes in - it's a healthy fat, and because your brain is made of fat, it needs good fat to nourish it. The spinach is also a brain food. The eggs are protein for stamina. And the artichokes are just for deliciousness.

I'm not saying you have to eat this meal exactly. But what I'm suggesting is that you experiment with eating brain food and protein the next time you have a writing session. See if that helps you be more productive. I know it does me, and plus, what I'm eating right now won't lead to weight gain, which is another thing writers can struggle with.

Write healthy!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

iWriteNetwork Summer Workshop - Class Report

by Donna K. Weaver

On Saturday we got to hear from the awesome Nancy Campbell Allen. The class was about outlining, and I'm a pantser. Nancy talked about bringing elements of both approaches. It's something she called being a Hybrid. I love her ideas!

Following are my notes from the class.

Outlining Can Be Fun

Hybrid (features of outlining while leaving some discovery writing of the pantser)
  • organized
  • clear vision
  • Avoid paralysis
  • still maintain a sense of creativity
  • Make the process your own

Where to begin
  • binder or file (this can be digital, but Nancy uses a physical binder that she creates)

Outlining Your Novel

1. Brainstorming
  • character idea
  • setting
  • cool job
  • what if questions
  • this section is utilized to the very end of the writing
  • Think of 4 or 5 things that could happen in the books and 2 things that can complicate things
  • What settings will the complications demand?
  • Which character will be the protagonist for that complication?
  • Once you're done highlight the things you decide to use

2. ICA - Individual Character Analysis
  • physical stats
  • family and origin including birth order
  • personality traits
  • strengths and weaknesses
  • goals in life
  • most treasured possession
  • motivations
  • how would they react to any given situation

3. Outline - can be a first draft
  • What is your theme?
  • Make a list of things you need to happen
  • Think in specifics
  • Allow yourself to sink into the story
  • If the story strays...either the story will come back to your outline or you can adjust your outline. The theme should have stayed the same

4. Scene Maps
  • This keeps you from staring at the blinking cursor
  • Determine your scene goal
  • Lists scenes sequentially
  • These are your "Next Time Notes"

5. Running Edit

When you change something as you're writing, have of list of things you will need to change to the beginning.  Like if on page 50 you decide it's better to have a different profession, note the page and say XXX is a wedding planner from here to the end.

6. Research Questions

Make a list of questions as you go--things you need to find out and answer later. Don't get sidetracked! UNLESS you're stuck.

7. Sources

Maintaining a list -- Pinterest (suggested by Amber Argyle)

8. Tracking Sheet

List Chapter, pages x - x, word count for chapter, brief summary