Friday, February 28, 2014

Where To Start Your Book

One of the biggest challenges in deciding to write a book is where is the right place to start it. I'm not talking about the first time you sit down to the blank computer screen, I'm talking about after you have written the rough draft and are now onto your revisions.

As I said in the previous post, a lot of writers want to tell the life story of the character in the first chapter and they have a hard time hooking the reader and keeping them wanting to turn the page. I'm not writing this from any great research on the subject, but from my own experience as a writer.

One thing that might help you in the "hook" department is to go through the books in your house and open them to the first page. Look at the different first sentences and paragraphs. Choose the newer books, since the older ones didn't emphasize hooks back then.

I'm sure you will see that a majority start right in the middle of what's happening. Not just in action, but even in contemporary literature. 

The introduction of the character, the dilemma, and setting the scene. These are the fundamentals of the first chapter. So, the place to start is where your story begins. 

Not years in your characters past. Not back story, but where they are right now, right this very minute. If there is back story to explain what is happening, you weave it through the chapters a little at a time and usually with tid-bits of internal thought and dialog. 

What's important to the reader is what is happening to move the story along. One of the easiest ones to explain where to start are YA books. They're usually action packed and begin with what the character is facing. Another like this, is Fantasy or Sci-Fi. Those, too, are usually action packed. I will give you one hint though, do not start your story with a dream.

The harder ones to decide where to begin are the slower moving stories, such as romance and contemporary. 

So if your character has a run of bad luck, you start it with maybe the character is getting fired, or the spouse is asking for a divorce, or whatever the main story plot is leading toward. 

A big suggestion I have before you decide where to begin is to have your ducks in a row.

1. Know your story and plot.

2. Have an outline prepared.

3. Have a character outline so you know and can keep to their personalities.

4. Look at your entire book and see what actions keep everything moving and where they should be placed.

5. And finally, it's okay to cut if it doesn't move the story along. Try to stick to the important scenes and leave out what drags. 

If you have these things together, revisions will be much easier to do. And you will know where the story should begin.

Have you come across the frustration of where to start your first chapter? What did you do to help you decide where the story should begin?

Well, I hope all of you have a fantastic weekend. Don't forget to drop me a line and let me know your thoughts!

Love, Lisa

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Your First Chapter

Recently I have ran across an issue with few different writers who have sent me their first chapters for critique. I know the first chapter is the hardest one and I thought I would post some important points for someone writing a book.

After I wrote the rough draft for Fable, I began my revisions and ended up rewriting the first chapter about 6 times before Toni and I became co-authors. Then she and I rewrote it at least another 4 until we got it where we thought it would grab the reader and pull them along for the ride. So I fully understand your grief! 

And this doesn't just go for the first chapter, but if you have a prologue as well. The number one thing, right off the bat, is the hook in the first sentence. I have seen some wonderful hooks in my years of reading and I try to remember how important hooks are to hold onto the reader.

Not just the first sentence, but the first paragraph, the end of the first page and the end of the first chapter. Hooks don't have to be action packed. They can be a simple sentence that intrigues. But it is top priority to get it right. Such as: Today is the day I died.

Now, that should grab someone. 

The next thing is I see writers use a lot of back story and info dump trying to explain the life story of their character(s), and all in the first chapter. I know it's harsh to hear this, but the reader doesn't care.

If it's not important to the story, first of all, then leave it out. But if it is something that pertains then weave in with dialog, and not all in the first chapter. You will bore the reader to death and you should leave some unanswered questions for the reader to wonder about.

If you want the reader to care about the character then leave them wanting to find out about certain things. Try to take them for a ride into the character's mind and the issues the character faces, not whether or not they had a bad childhood or ran with a biker gang and did drugs. 

So rethink the way you are writing your first chapter and try to cut out what's not necessary. That also includes too much description also. I have read books that the first few pages is describing a scene. Don't do this. The reader will put it down, just like I did. In fact that book was the Shack.

So, you see, the first chapter is the most important one so make sure to have it critiqued and listen to what the person is telling you. It will make all the difference in the world. Have you had issues getting that first chapter just right? Leave me a comment and let me know what problems and/or critiques you've had to endure. 

I wanted to announce the winner of Sharon Ledwith's book: Darlene! Enjoy and she is getting it to you ASAP! 

Until Friday, have a great week all! 

Love, Lisa

Friday, February 21, 2014

An Excerpt From Lore

Happy Friday all! We had a great turnout for the blog the last few days. Thank you so much, Sharon Ledwith, for being a guest on my blog and thanks to all of you who participated with comments and even just coming by and reading Sharon's article. I will announce the winner of Sharon's book on my next post on Tuesday. 

Today I decided to post a little from Lore. This part is the first introduction of Detective Wood and Jack Snow when they arrive back in Golden from Washington State. Wood decided to stay in a hotel on the outskirts of town to not raise awareness of being back. I hope you enjoy!

All that evening and the next day’s drive Wood and Jack worked on the story the detective would relay to the FBI. The tale must hold enough truth to be told without hesitation or it would not be believable. They decided not to address the issue of the Warrior and the anomalies in the samples. The best defense here—as Jack to aptly put it—was to play dumb.
And then there was the question of Stevie. Neither Wood nor Jack had an answer. Unfortunately, this one fell hard on Jan’s shoulders. Wood wanted badly to contact Stevie’s mother and be a sounding board for the story she had concocted, but it was too risky right now.
“I said when are we going to call Jan?”
Jack’s voice startled Wood. He had not noticed the radio was off. “That’s a call you’ll need to make. Until I can speak with Drake, I have no idea how far the FBI have dug themselves in. I’m worried her landline could be tapped.”
“Hello? Twenty-first century calling Detective Wood…she has a cell phone.”
“You think?” Wood responded, curtly. “They have ways of tapping those, too. Regardless, you calling won’t raise any suspicion if someone is listening in.” After two weeks, the last one spent without Stevie as a buffer, Jack’s sense of humor began to wear thin. He’s a lot funnier when I don’t have to be with him 24/7.
“Sounds like I need to drop by rather than calling her, huh?” The interstate curved southwest as it passed Highway 58. Jack turned around in his seat. “You missed the turnoff to Golden.”
“Not exactly,” Wood pointed to the La Quinta Inn sign on his right. “When I said I was going to stay at a hotel, that’s the one I meant. Close enough to Golden, but hopefully far enough away not to be noticed.”
It took little time to get checked in. Wood paid cash, but thanks to the lovely Homeland Security, he had to provide the front desk with a copy of his Driver’s License. No matter. The Feds wouldn’t know or care if Wood stayed at a hotel rather than heading straight home—assuming they even bother to check on the date and time he returned to Golden. I’ve gotta remember to mention wanting another day of “vacation”, when I get called in. Better I bring it up than the Feds.
While Jack waited in Wood’s room for his taxi to arrive, Wood laid out his plan to contact Detective Drake. “It’s not that complicated. Just call Sarah and tell her to meet you tonight in the alley between First and Second off Washington Street. You’ll bring her to the La Quinta Inn.”
“But you said her cell phone could be tapped,” Jack looked out the window. “Taxi’s here.”
Wood tore off a piece of paper from the complimentary pad next to the phone. He scribbled an address. “Here is Detective Drake’s address. You can slip a note under her door.”
“What if they’re watching her house?” Jack asked, hovering near the door. He had a mischievous gleam in his eyes that made Wood a bit edgy.
“This isn’t some sort of covert operation. Just stop by and give Sarah the message.”
“Wait, I know,” Jack opened the door and stood in the frame. “I’ll get a bouquet of flowers from King Soopers and pretend to be a delivery boy. On the card, I’ll write out the instructions about meeting me and stuff.”

“Jeez, Jack,” Wood shook his head pushed Jack over the thresh hold. “Whatever works for you. As long as you bring her to the hotel by nine.” He shut the door before Jack could respond. Ahead of him was the promise of a hot shower and maybe even a nap—if his nerves would let him sleep.

I hope you enjoyed the sneak peek. Have a great weekend everyone! See you on Tuesday!
Love, Lisa

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Guest Blog - Sharon Ledwith

Please welcome Sharon Ledwith to the blog! She writes middle grade fantasy and I've read her first book, Last Timekeepers and believe it should be a big hit with the kids, if not some adults too! 

She has a giveaway drawing for those who leave comments or questions so please join in and enjoy Sharon's fun discussion about Atlantis!

Atlantis: Lost and Found…
No lost continent has a more powerful hold on our imagination than Atlantis. In fact, each generation has felt the need to search for the truth of its roots. Presumably, Atlantis was a flourishing island empire located in the present-day Azores. Or do the remains of this mystical place lurk deep under Antarctica’s ice cap? There’s also the possibility that remnants of this advanced civilization are buried under the marshes of Spain. Whatever the truth is, theories abound, and stories about Atlantis still flourish to this day. So much has been written about this legendary country that it was hard to lock down the information I needed to create my middle-grade/young adult time travel series. It was a challenge for sure, but I managed to find a handful of resources that allowed me to craft a master plan for the book series.

First Resource: Plato
The oldest and fullest surviving account of the great island’s rise and fall was provided by the Greek philosopher Plato, who lived from about 428 to 348 BCE. In his seventies, Plato composed two dialogues (the way he wrote out his philosophy) called Timaeus and Critias based on information passed down by word of mouth through his relatives, and a Greek statesman named Solon, about the lost continent. It was gleaning through Plato’s numerous descriptions about Atlantis that I knew I had collected enough information to form a blueprint of what this mysterious place would look like for me and my readers.

Second Resource: Shirley Andrews, Author and World Traveler
In her book, Atlantis: Insights from a Lost Civilization, Shirley Andrews uncovers a compelling new look at a legendary country she believes was once situated on the Atlantic Ridge. She traveled extensively to conduct her own comprehensive research to bring her idea of what Atlantis might have appeared like which included what the inhabitants wore and consumed, what they did for a living, their temples and homes, psychic abilities, and belief systems. This research richly added to what Plato had described.

Third Resource: Edgar Cayce, the Sleeping Prophet
Imagine the ability to channel past lives. This was one of Edgar Cayce’s gifts, and many of the past life readings he did were connected to Atlantis. Cayce even goes so far to name names, and yes, I used many of the names mentioned. He also shed an absolutely unique light on the inhabitants—frequently the movers and shakers of society—all who shared a great and terrible destiny. What a treasure trove of information I discovered through Cayce’s readings, which added to the authenticity of my series.
Through Plato’s story of Atlantis, Shirley Andrew’s research, and Edgar Cayce’s psychic insights I gained an incredible amount of data on the people, their appearances and lifestyles, what was important to them, the architecture, their influences, the way they used and manipulated energy, and even about the final destruction. Too much information filled my head until I sorted out what I could use to form the basis of my first story, The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis and the prequel of the series, Legend of the Timekeepers.
I’ve always had an insatiable interest in this mysterious country. In fact I, like Plato, Andrews, and Cayce believe that Atlantis did exist. How about you? Do you believe Atlantis was once a part of this world? Comment and don’t forget to leave your email address for a chance to win an ecopy of Legend of the Timekeepers!

Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/YA time travel series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, available through Musa Publishing, and is represented by Walden House (Books & Stuff) for her teen psychic series, MYSTERIOUS TALES FROM FAIRY FALLS. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, yoga, anything arcane, and an occasional dram of scotch. Sharon lives a serene, yet busy life in a tourist region of Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, one spoiled yellow Labrador and a moody calico cat.

 Tagline & blurb for The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis:
Children are the keys to our future. And now, children are the only hope for our past.
When 13-year-old Amanda Sault and her annoying classmates are caught in a food fight at school, they're given a choice: suspension or yard duty. The decision is a no-brainer. Their two-week crash course in landscaping leads to the discovery of a weathered stone arch in the overgrown back yard. The arch isn't a forgotten lawn ornament but an ancient time portal from the lost continent of Atlantis.
Chosen by an Atlantean Magus to be Timekeepers--legendary time travelers sworn to keep history safe from the evil Belial--Amanda and her classmates are sent on an adventure of a lifetime. Can they find the young Robin Hood and his merry band of teens? If they don't, then history itself may be turned upside down.

Tagline & blurb for Legend of the Timekeepers:
There is no moving forward without first going back.
Lilith was a young girl with dreams and a family before the final destruction of Atlantis shattered those dreams and tore her family apart. Now refugees, Lilith and her father make their home in the Black Land. This strange, new country has no place in Lilith’s heart until a beloved high priestess introduces Lilith to her life purpose—to be a Timekeeper and keep time safe.
Summoned through the seventh arch of Atlantis by the Children of the Law of One, Lilith and her newfound friends are sent into Atlantis’s past, and given a task that will ultimately test their courage and try their faith in each other. Can the Timekeepers stop the dark magus Belial before he changes the seers’ prophecy? If they fail, then their future and the earth’s fate will be altered forever.

The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis Buy Links:
Legend of the Timekeepers Buy Links:MUSA PUBLISHING
Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her WEBSITE and BLOG. Stay connected on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, and GOODREADS . Check out THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS TIME TRAVEL SERIES Facebook page.

BONUS: Download the free PDF short story The Terrible, Mighty Crystal HERE.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day

I know today is Valentine's day and some celebrate it and some want to forget it, but I tend to think that it's not just about a couple who are in love, but all people you love.

I have invited my daughter and her (almost) husband and my grandkids to dinner tonight. I haven't spent much time with them in months and would enjoy nothing more than some good steaks and good conversation. Not to mention, spending some time with my munchkins!

My husband and I love having the family around. I've always been one to throw the birthday parties or have holiday celebrations. Who are the people that are the closest to you? Your family and friends. 

But I do have a real life love story. My husband and I were married, the first time, in 1992. We had lived together for 6 yrs before we tied the knot. We ended up, because of family issues from where he was from, divorcing only after 4 yrs. 

15 yrs later he sent me a message on Facebook that was very romantic. Rick always was romantic, and after that we fell in love all over again. Between love letters through emails and phone calls, he moved back out to Colorado in 6 short weeks from the first message.

We remarried 5 months later, and on the same date as before, and have not looked back! This year will make 4 yrs of marriage again and I am so happy that we decided to rekindle our relationship.

I won't bore you with all the details, but he was worth the second look into my heart. So everyday with him is special to me and I cherish the love, support, and respect we have for each other.

He truly is the love of my life, in all ways!

Happy Valentines, to my husband Rick, and to all my friends and family. I hope you have loved ones to spend the day with. Or at least, a special someone with a romantic meal and candle light.

Love, Lisa

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

What Grounds You?

These last few months have been crazy busy for me and even though the weather has been crappy out, I still would have been stuck inside getting things caught up. I am really looking forward to spring and getting out of the house more, but what I am looking forward to the most is spending more time with my grandkids. I miss them terribly.

I know I have priorities, we all do, but I love the way my grandkids always make me feel like I'm number one and important to them. Sometimes they are my saving grace. 

Their smiles light up my life and I cherish their love and acceptance. Nothing is better than curling up with one of them in my arms and the other lying on my lap watching some silly cartoon or kids movie. 

Kids are the greatest at taking you away from the stresses in life. I know they can be a pain once in a while, too, but they are still taking you out of the mundane of your own issues. 

I am so proud of them and their accomplishments in so many things. Maddy, with piano and basketball. Plus she is a gifted student. Carson, with basketball and his love of babies. He will be a great father some day. His love is overwhelming and pure. 

They are so precious and each carry a piece of my soul with them. They are my heart and I hope to spend some time with them soon. I need my grandkid fix!

I realize in our busy and stressful lives we can forget what's important, but sometimes being away from those who are the loves of your life brings you back to what really is your number one priority, family.

Anyway, I am making plans to have them over soon and my husband and I are hoping to take them camping a few times this year, too. I can't wait!

What grounds you and brings you back to your purpose? 

I hope everyone has a great week and this time next week I have a new guest on here. Her name is Sharon Ledwith and she writes a middle grade fantasy series. Stay tuned, I think you will enjoy checking out her article and her books!

Until Friday, I hope the weather changes for the better in your neck of the woods! 

Stay warm, Lisa

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Muse is a Powerful Thing

I've been having a great time checking out different people's stories lately. The Muse is a powerful thing.

From stories about futuristic doctors and their healing discoveries, to sisters fighting the good fight against organized crime, to furry creatures defending their homeland, and I've enjoyed each one.

There are vampires you'll love, and a love story during the revolution. How about a fantasy filled with dark lords and dragons and a bumbling hero that saves the day.

I love stories, and I love to see what goes through the mind of my fellow writers. 

I believe what people write says a lot about them, and as I beta read, or critique, I think about the person who wrote the story and gives me more of a sense of who they are and why this certain topic. 

It also makes me look at myself and why I write what I write. I see the imagination in them and in myself. I see the bravery, or kindness. I see the activist, or escape artist. I see the romantic, or the conqueror. 

What's in our hearts and in our minds comes out on the page, and to make up a story and put it to paper says a lot about the creative self. Although there is a basic story line with all fictional books, it's what the writer chooses to fill in the details with that gets me thinking, that gets me wondering.

Stories have been a part of our history as long as, well, as long as there have been people. I love the hero/heroine quest seeking and destroying the bad guy. I love magic and mystery and I love going on the journey with the characters and finding out what's going to happen in the end.  

I love being taken into other world and witnessing great feats of courage. To me, there is nothing like a great book to take you away from all of your stresses from life.

Keep up the wonderful stories, my friends. I love them all, and I love getting a chance to peek into your minds and your hearts.

Have a great week everyone and if there's a great book you think I should check out, let me know in the comment box. I'm always looking for a good read!

Love, Lisa

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

You Wear Two Hats

Per several conversations in the last few days with different writer friends, I've decided to post about the two hats you wear as an author. One, the writer, two, the business owner.

When Toni and I were finishing up Fable and ready to publish, we opened a business account and started an LLC through the state. We became a business - Djen Works.

As with all businesses, you want to offer quality products to your customers. So we have, several times, fixed any mistakes we have found in Fable to try and make sure that the reader enjoys the book, instead of getting stopped in the middle of reading.

Also, we hired a professional editor and cover artist. Yes, this does cost money, but if you want your book to be as close to the best as you can make it, you have to take the proper steps. Otherwise, you are not ready to be a business.

Now I know there are those who say they can't afford to take these steps, but really, you can't afford not to. My suggestion is while you are writing your manuscript to start putting away a savings for your publishing. 

If you can save 1000.00 you should have enough. I know that sounds like a lot, but even with someone doing the clip art for your book it can be 300.00 alone. This step is crucial because the first thing a person will be attracted to is your cover.

There are affordable editors out there, mine (Susan) is very reasonable and if you ever would like her name and information just let me know. I'll be glad to forward it to you.  

If you are going the traditional route in publishing, you still have to become a business. You do have more time since it can take up to two years before an agent or publisher will decide to bring you on. True, you don't need to worry about paying for an editor or cover artist, so this doesn't apply to you financially, but once you start getting those royalty checks, you have to keep track. 

Back to self-publishing. There will also be hidden charges that will creep up, such as, business cards, book markers, copy-right with the Library of Congress, and so on. Actually, it never ends.

If you have a book launch party, you have to order books. Or maybe you're going to have a book signing or take your books to a conference, like we are. It all costs money up front. Then you have little things like party favors. We did the personal M&M's for this last one.

You have to make flyers sometimes, and even giveaway some of your books for marketing.

If you truly want to be in the business and succeed as a self-published author, it will cost money. Start putting away 20.00 a week. That should get you started on the road of becoming a successful entrepreneur.  

With all the hard work you have invested, don't you think you deserve to be prepared and do it right? After all, the one who will suffer will be you.

Until Friday, I hope everyone has a great week!

Love, Lisa