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!