Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Holiday's And Making Time To Write

Well, I'ts that time of year again - the holiday's are upon us. And if it's for you anything like my crazy life, it's a hectic time. And one of the hardest times of the year to sit down and write.

Between the baking, cooking, holiday party planning and gift shopping, it's amazing we have any time to ourselves, let alone time to write. But you need to make time, if only to satisfy your own pallet. We must do for ourselves!

I know author's who write Christmas stories during this time of year, or have them already to publish for your holiday gift giving. And there are some who do wonderful sales on the books they already have out. As for me, I'm still plugging away at revisions.

But I'm writing!

You should continue your normal schedule as much as you can, and that includes your writing time. You need that for yourself otherwise you will feel guilty as you continue along through the holiday process. I know I always do. I can remember several times sitting at Christmas dinner feeling glad the holidays are about finished so I can sit down and write. But I'm also one of those writers who has "book brain".

I personally think one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself as a writer is writing. So 'write on people'! Don't let the naysayers and party planners stop you from doing what you love best, writing.

Just rearrange your schedule a bit, but save that extra time. You deserve the break from reality. You can escape into your own story! I mean, isn't that the best part of the whole process? The escape?!

Leave me a comment if you have a moment and let me know if this time of year leaves you lacking with time to write, or have you committed to stay at it.

Until after the holidays, I hope all of yours is a wonderful time! I won't be posting next week since Christmas falls on Friday, but I'll be back to ring in the new year! Wish me luck on gaining extra revisions through these next few weeks!

Happy Holiday's to all of you!

Love, Lisa

Friday, December 11, 2015

Do You Feel Like There's A Lot Of Confusing Advice Online

I don't know about you, but I tend to read writing advice online. Sometimes I agree with the advice and sometimes it can be a bit confusing when one site says to write a particular way, and another says the opposite. I think the key here is to listen to the one's who actually know true creative writing skills.

How do you know the difference? Research the particular skill that's the subject of their article. 

I was lucky enough to have a wonderful writing coach. She's British and the Brits tend to stick to the rules when it comes to writing - well most of the time. I have read a few books with British author's who like to head hop or use too much info dump, but most are a pretty good read.

In America we aren't taught strong skills when it comes to writing literature. At least not in high school or the lower grades. I'm not sure when it comes to colleges, but it seems as though the writers who have degrees in creative writing tend to put out nice, tight novels. 

Should you look up their credentials? Maybe, maybe not. That doesn't mean they're a great writer, only that they have a degree. 

I think going with your gut, and a few google searches about the topic, should satisfy the correct creative writing skills you are striving for. 

As with anything, take advise with a grain of salt - even mine. I am only telling you what I do in these situations. I think most writing skills sites are pretty good for the most part.

So do your research. You want your writing to shine. After all, isn't that your goal? 

Have a wonderful weekend and if you get a moment leave me a comment and tell me what you're struggling with, or maybe some great writing sites you've discovered!

Love, Lisa

Friday, December 4, 2015

Balancing Dialog and Detail

Hi All! I hope your Thanksgiving was fantastic. Mine was great, in fact we had two dinners. One at my daughters, which by the way was wonderful, and one at my house with my mom and granddaughter, Madison. Both we equally delicious and I enjoyed that extra time with family.

Now back to work - at least until Christmas. 

I've recently, as you know, been rewriting in Lore. One of the creative writing skills I've been trying to implement is more detail. I felt I had a little too much dialog in some scenes. Not to mention, a little too much "Blocking". 

What is blocking you ask? That's when you describe what the character is doing at the time, such as sitting down, standing, pacing, ect. As writers we always want to set the scene, it's just sometime you need to add a little more to the description and other times you want to just delete the minute details, such as blocking.

Your reader wants to know where the characters are and what they're doing. Things like where they are, what the room or area is like are important to visualize the scene. What the characters are wearing, or look like. What type of traits do they have? What's the environment, like the type of forest, or jungle are they in. 

True you don't have to do this with each scene, but when you are setting up a scene, like in the beginning of a chapter, you might want to let the reader know what's up. Also, don't forget the senses - taste, smell, see, touch and feel.  

There is a balance between dialog and detail. Some writers tend to go on and on with description, while other's do very little. When you're writing dialog, add a paragraph now and then to explain what the character is thinking or feeling. This builds the character up so that the reader gets a good sense of who he/she is. But there's no need to do this between every exchange. Just do it here and there so that the reader understands.

Plus by adding detail between dialog you can voice what the character thinks of the situation and the other characters involved. It's a good way to describe the characters that aren't the main character, while continuing to make your main character more life like. You can delve deeper into each character's traits. Just don't do it all at the same time. A little here and there should suffice in helping the reader get the feel of all of the characters in your story. 

So when trying to strike a balance, look at each dialog scene and see what you need to add or takeaway to make the scene easier to see and experience.

If you have a moment leave me a comment and let me know your struggles with this, or accomplishments. In the meantime, have a great weekend all. I know I didn't post last Friday, but I decided to focus on family time.

Love, Lisa

Friday, November 20, 2015

Quit Banging Your Head Against The Desk - It Will Be All Right

Since I began this major rewrite on my next book Lore, I've realized just how badly I'm struggling with it. It's hard to completely change scenes, delete large chunks, and add new chapters. Forcing myself to revise and amp up the action is much more difficult than I thought it would be, but it must be done.

It does cause some anxiety in me, and leaves me feeling like I'm not that great of writer - which is a normal reaction, but one I have to fight with every fiber in my being. There's nothing worse than having to cope when your low self-esteem kicks in.

I have to remind myself how much better the story will be and that I've had to do this in the past and it turned out to be for the better.

Those of you who are going through the same thing out there, don't panic. Although it's a painful time in your writing, it can end up being the most enlightening time. You and I will get through it and your readers will appreciate it in the long run.

I want to share a few thoughts and hopefully they will help both you and I get past the issues brought up inside us as story-tellers.

1. You are your worst critic: I'm sure you've heard that before and at times believe it, but something inside you tells you your just a horrible writer - not true. Whatever it is you like to write about it's from the heart. The dedication, love and time you've put into your book should tell you you are a writer. Those who just write a rough-draft and simply publish it without a care in the world are the ones who shouldn't be writing. In other words, if you didn't care then you shouldn't pursue life as a writer. 

Sure there will be work to better your craft, that's a given, but that doesn't mean you suck and your writing does too. It only means there's always a learning curve and you should listen to those you feel are great creative writers and their suggestions. I'm sure you've had a favorite author and have noticed with each book published their writing gets better. Well, it will be the same with you, so don't be so hard on yourself. Nobody's perfect.

2. You can't please them all: After publishing Fable I was so excited to see all the 4 and 5 star reviews I received on Amazon and Goodreads. It pumped up my pride and gratitude that the book was doing so well. Then I saw, for the first time, a 3 star, and then the dreaded 2 star. I was devastated. I really had to fight a battle within myself after that. What made it worse is the person who left me the 2 star didn't say why. My mind went into overdrive trying to figure out what went wrong.

But then I realized my story won't be for everyone. And you know what, that's okay. It can be very humbling and not to mention, scary, but I learned I can't please every reader out there. Not all will get my style of writing. Most YA or NA books move much faster and are much more violent than mine. For me, the mystery of Stevie discovering everything made the story - and obviously it did for a lot of readers too.

3. Writers face a lot of pressure in today's market: There are probably 5 million writers out there with published books - lots of competition. It can make you want to roll up into a ball and hide somewhere far, far away, and yet, we keep on writing. The key is getting yourself known and getting to know your readers. 

I've tried several different approaches with marketing, some of which have worked, and some I've decided to forgo. First, I tried giveaway's. No one seemed to sign up, even when it was a free Kindle Fire. But a few did and I managed to build a few more fans. From now on I know it doesn't really work. There has been some other things I tried - some expensive - but the only thing I've found that really works is interaction with your readers. I still have my blog, and have been on here for 4 years. True, my following is small, but it is a great way for me to write out my feelings and discover new skills. 

Whatever works for you is where you need to put forth your energy. The one other thing I feel has helped are sites like bittenbybooks who help to get your name and book out there. I believe those really are worth the time and money. Another good way is to be a guest on a popular author's blog, hopefully within your genre.

So whatever it is that keeps you pounding your head against the desk, remember becoming a known author takes time - even with traditional publishing. Becoming a discovered author is about the same as becoming a famous actor. Most have put in 20 years before they became famous. 

So just keep pluggin along and don't let the naysayers get under your skin - even if that naysayer is you. You work hard to mold your story into a published work and there will be plenty who will read it and enjoy it!

Until next week, have a wonderful weekend! If you get a moment please leave me a comment. I love to hear from you.

Love, Lisa

Friday, November 13, 2015

I'm Back!

Hi everyone! Yes, I haven't posted for a few weeks, but my life was so crazy, and half the time I couldn't get the internet to work on my computer while staying at my mother's, that I decided to wait until we were finally settled.

We are officially in the mountains now. And we had our first snowstorm, and we were definitely freezing. Rick has now covered the door that was letting in all the cold air and it helped a little bit. Hopefully when it's 20 below up here, I will be warm instead of a Popsicle. (Thank God I have an electric blanket!)

I'm sure it's no secret that I didn't want to move into this old cabin, but one thing's for sure, it get's my creative juices flowing. The hearth is what does it. I built a fire the other morning and sat here writing. It was really nice. (Actually, the only thing nice about this place).

Anyway, I have received the prologue and first ten chapters back from my editor and the marks were minimal. Plus I made the major change I had planned, and it is now with my critique partner. I do have some small changes that will happen throughout, but that was the biggest one and it's now behind me. I don't think it will take too long.

Lore will be published before you know it and I hope that the story keeps you wanting more. I have no idea how long this series will be, but the story will take me where it needs to go. 

I love writing and wish there weren't things in life that take me away from it, like errands, or the day to day stuff, but it can't be helped. I will do my best to get the book out ASAP, that's my promise to those of you patiently waiting for it. In the mean time, just know I want it out soon too! 

However, it did amaze me how the things in life can throw off your game. Between all the stress of now writing alone, and all the bad occurrences in the last year, it really affected my writing. I guess it's to be expected, but I had no idea I would be rewriting again.

I do care enough to make it the best I can and those of you who are writers out there, I hope you do the same. The last thing I want is to disappoint my readers and to lose them. Although it is true, your writing is what you want to write, but if you plan to put it out to the public, it has to be great for your readers.

I do hope the changes are enough to satisfy my fans and worth the extra time. Correction:

I'm sure it will be, I have faith.

In the mean time, I'm back and will be posting regularly from now on.

Have a great weekend all!

Love, Lisa

Friday, October 16, 2015

Discover Your Strengths And Weaknesses

With everything we do, including writing, we have our strengths and we have the areas where we need to concentrate a little harder on. But it's not always obvious and we need to be told, or suggested what our weaknesses are.

If you're like me it took you a while to complete your novel. For me, with the manuscript I'm working on now, it has taken 2 years. By the time you get to the end and think you're ready to publish your book, hopefully your writing has improved somewhat. But you don't always see what those improvements are and what still needs tweaking. 

I was fortunate enough to have a beta-reader who could spot where the book needed extra work and honest enough to tell me what I needed to fix. Since then I have begun to tiresome challenge of rewriting again.

To understand where your weaknesses lie, listen to what people say when they are critiquing your work. Sometimes they are subtle comments, others are right in your face. As I began the arduous journey of rewriting again, I have been lucky enough to have a mother who was an editor at one time in her life. Reading the book out loud to her has helped me to see the areas of creative writing I need to concentrate my efforts on.

Plus an added bonus, I have a critique partner who's a pretty good writer and is willing to go over the book with me again. 

When someone says to you, "Hey, loved your story, but I'm going to send the grammar police after you," you know you need to work on your grammar. Another good one is, "I don't see the scene very well, can you draw me a picture?" You need to work on your descriptions. Or how about, "I got lost at the part in your book where..." subplots. Or "What happened when..." subplots. 

There will be all kinds of hints if you stop and listen to what your beta-readers, critique partners, or even your family of friends say about your book. But another way to know what you need to add extra attention to is what does your own gut say to you while you're reading it?

No one is a perfect writer, and the more you write, the stronger your skills will become - especially if you take the time to learn where the problems are. I know it can be a bummer to have to rewrite again, but look at it this way - it's a learning curve and you're willing to do the extra time and get it to where you can be excited about your manuscript. Nothing wrong with that!

I would love to know your rewriting journeys and what you've learned along the way. Leave me a comment and be proud of yourself for taking the time to get it as right as you can make it!

Love, Lisa

Monday, October 12, 2015

If Your Told You Must Revise Your Manuscript, What Will You Decide?

Recently I have had to deal with an issue I never dreamed would happen - one of my beta reader's said part of my new manuscript was flat. At first I was devastated, but then soon realized I should chalk it up as a learning experience.

So, back to the drawing board, or writing board as it were.

I knew that the past year was filled with a lot of setbacks, and stresses, so obviously it came out in my writing. Once I got past the initial shock, I decided I would need to fix these areas even though it would prevent me from publishing anytime soon. I simply will not put my book out to the public without it meeting my expectations, and most certainly, my readers also.

I know there are authors out there who, instead of reworking their manuscript, decide it's too much work and publish it anyway. I, for one, realized that it would come back on me with bad reviews and the like. I don't want to lose my fans - they mean to much to me.

This can happen from time to time and the important thing is - to take the time to do it right.

Those writers out there who decide not to fix what your editors say to fix, or listen to your beta-readers when they make comments that are corrective criticism, well it will come back to haunt you at some point. Better to do right by your name and your work. I mean, after all, isn't that why you turned to them in the first place - to tell you what needs fixed?!

So, don't worry, Lore will be published, and it will be before you know it. Please have patience with me, I will get it done.

I'll keep you informed as to the latest progress! Have a nice week all!

Love, Lisa

Saturday, October 3, 2015

As you know I usually post on here on Friday's but since we have been in between homes and are staying with my mother we have had to borrow our internet signal off of her neighbor's. So when I tried to open this page yesterday I couldn't get in. I was fortunate enough to get in this morning. I guess no one is up this early on Saturday so I managed to get a good signal.

We do have an update though. We found a place outside Idaho Springs - Lawson - so hopefully we can get back on track soon. Even though it is rural, and we won't even have an official address, I guess we can have Comcast installed up there. (Thank God) I have to have a good internet signal.

There is an update on Lore also. After discussing the book with one of my beta-readers I have decided to do some more work on it before I send it to my editor. There were a few places that dragged and were flat so I have to fix those areas. I won't release it until I feel it is a great story, worthy of you purchasing it. 

I think with all that has happened over the last year it was reflected in my writing. Also I was trying to hurry to get it out there so my fans wouldn't have to continue waiting. I tried to force it and shouldn't have. But that's okay, I'll get it fixed and after it is, I believe you will love it.

Thanks for being patient with me. The last few months have been crazy for us and I am trying to get back on track. Won't be much longer.

Have a great weekend and don't worry, I'm working hard to get Lore to you ASAP!

Love, Lisa

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Don't Let Anything Get In Your Way Of Writing

As most of you know I've been moving, and it hasn't been an easy one. We were told by our landlord that he planned to renovate the house we rented and double the rent so we had to be out in 45 days. That was August 17th.

It was a tough move for us since we lived there for 5 and a half years and considered it our home. To top it off the rent in Denver metro has doubled in the last few months and we couldn't find anything that we could realistically afford. So we loaded everything we own into a storage unit and are bunking in with my mom until we lock down a new home.

In the mean time I was at the end of Lore and managed to get it to my beta-readers before I would go without a computer for I didn't know how long. As we moved into my mother's, my husband managed to get the computer up and running, (using her neighbor's internet signal) and it was just in time for me to get back two of my reports from the beta-readers.

One loved it, the other said it needed some work. 

So, I'm back at it, even in the midst of chaos in my life. Plus I have written 10 pages of Tale, the next book in the series. 

I guess the reason I am telling you all this is to say don't let life's stresses keep you from writing. My books are my babies and I need to be able to write. They are my release from the everyday stresses and even the catastrophic ones. 

So don't stop writing, even if it's on a notebook. It's a healthy way to get away from all your problems - at least it is for me!

Have a great weekend all, Lisa

Friday, September 18, 2015

Guest Artist - Karla Horst

I’m pleased to introduce you to my new cover artist, Karla Horst! I hope you give her a warm welcome and that you look forward to seeing her talent in action with my covers, and possibly other art pertaining to the series. I wanted to get her out front for all of you to get to know her and see some of her past art. Welcome to the world of the Djen, Karla! You are now part of my most excellent team. I am hoping this little article will help me and my fans get to know you better. You never know, some of them might hit you up to do a painting for them. 

For you readers, I hope you enjoy Karla's art work as you read the article!

First, tell me about yourself. Family? Work? –
I am a Colorado Native, lived here all my life except for 6 months in Kansas, staying with my sister and working two jobs, one was at Hallmark cards - should have stayed but got so homesick for Colorado and the mountains. I grew up in Arvada, with 3 brothers, a sister and always lots of pets. A bit of a tomboy, I enjoyed playing in the dirt, which is why I probably love gardening. I have worn many hats over the years one was being a florist for 15 years. Art has always been a part of my life and I decided to see about incorporated it into a career so I went back to school and received a degree in graphic design and Illustration. I then decided I preferred the fine art and followed my heart. I am now at a few galleries in Colorado as well as selling at Fineartamerica and from my website

I know that you do portraits of animals from pictures. I’m sure people love to have a painting of their beloved pet. Has that been pretty successful for you? –
I love animals. I am working on a series right now of wildlife in the Rocky Mountains. As far as the commissioned pieces, it started with one person asking if I would do a piece for them and it has grown from there. I hope to start some work with my own dogs for a book I am writing and illustrating. I love cats and dogs but will paint just about anything so if anyone wants a commission piece they may leave a message on my website.
Tell us about your work with Vitamin Cottage, one of my favorite stores. –
I worked with Vitamin Cottage, now Natural Grocers for over 13 years and managed the Health & Beauty department. I loved merchandising and creating fun endcap displays. They would also let me display my art in the store I worked at. So that was awesome. I then left to work as a sales representative in the health industry and to spend more time with my art. I started making my art into cards (also prints and journals) to sell at the galleries. Just recently I was able to get my cards and mini journals placed at Natural Grocers. I am in most of the Colorado stores.

What got you started in doing art for commission? –
People would ask and I liking the challenge said yes. It was the same when I was a florist. Finding a way to take their ideas, or just photos, and capture the energy, the essence of what they wanted brought me joy. I feel we are all here to share our talents.
If you could go anywhere on vacation tomorrow, where would it be? –
Well it is funny you should mention that but next week we are heading up to Breckenridge, but anywhere in the mountains feeds my soul. Then to the other extreme, I love the ocean and diving. Third would be going to explore Europe, Tuscany is coming up then we will put Ireland on the list. I have been to Scotland and England and it brought up some feelings of belonging there...

How’s the painting for Lore’s cover coming along? –
Finished! Now we just have to prepare it for when it is ready to go to press. It was a challenge getting the colors just right but it was fun to do! I usually work with mostly watercolor and this painting is done with acrylic. I was able to at least change it easier as we headed in the right direction of what needed to be accomplished.

Are you interested in doing all of my covers, and maybe some other writers’ covers? –
I am open to doing most everything. It allows me to grow as an artist when I challenge myself and sometimes others to achieve the desired goals.

Thanks for being a sport and answering all of my questions. I hope some of my readers leave you a comment. It’s always fun to get to know the people behind the scenes.

Love, Lisa

Friday, September 4, 2015

Sometimes You Need A Break - 5 Times To Step Back From Your Writing

Happy Labor day weekend everyone! I hope that most of you have the weekend off, but for those of you who don't, my thoughts are with you. When I worked in the costumer service industry I always had to work the holiday weekends. I understand your plight.

In fact, I still work the holiday weekends - I'm a writer, I'm always writing. 

But there are times when you need to allow yourself some time off. One of those times is when you've finished writing your rough draft. Another is when your book is completed and you've sent it off to your beta-readers, or editor. There are times you need to walk away from your book and regroup, or even celebrate your accomplishment.

1. You have finished your rough draft

Once you are done, you should walk away from your book for several weeks - some say a month. Why? Because when you come back to it you will have fresher eyes to begin your revisions. Revising your work can be daunting and you need to have focus and a clear head. It also helps with your patience with critique marks.

2. The next round

So you've gone through the book, and you've learned a lot - at least you believe you have. Now is the time to go through the book a second time. If it's your 3rd or 4th book, you probably won't need to go through it with a fine toothed comb, but you still need to read through and catch as many mistakes as you can. 

You still should give your brain and eyes a rest at this point. Even if it is only a week. It helps you, again, to see your work clearer. What I found with this round is my writing had improved tremendously by the time I came to the end of the first revision process. This is where you end up rewriting your first few chapters more times than you care to imagine. Of course, after doing that, it can change your story dramatically and you end up doing a full second round of critiques.

That's okay, it needs to be clean and tight for your readers.

3. Final run through

So you've gone through it twice. You definitely need a break! Set the manuscript down and go have some fun. Celebrate your accomplishment. Not everyone can write a book.

Your final run through should consist of reading it out loud. It is amazing how many mistakes you can find when you do this. If you read it to someone who knows a thing or two about books, like an avid reader, or someone who has worked in the editing industry, all the better. They will point out all kinds of thing you would never have thought of, like dress your characters more, dull spots, stronger, or more appropriate verbs. These are added bonuses to your read through.

4. You've sent it off to your beta-readers

I usually give my beta readers two weeks to read the book and list any mistakes or comments. During this time you need to catch up on other things in your life. Try to stay busy and relax. Once you get their thoughts/marks back, you will be back at it again, so you need a good break from book brain here.

5. Now it's on it's way to the editor

Depending on the size of your book, this can take a month to six weeks usually. Plenty of time to regroup. Sure, your mind will be anxious to get it out to your fans, but you need to remember when you get it back from the editor, you still have weeks of fixes. 

Self-publishing a book is a lot of work, but can be so rewarding. Be patient with yourself, and with the process. And remember, give yourself breaks - you deserve it!

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Love, Lisa

Monday, August 31, 2015

Lots Happening

I woke up this morning and realized with everything going on in my crazy life, I completely forgot to post on Friday. But there is good news!

I finally finished Lore and have sent of the last chapter for a final look through by my friend and fellow author, Michael McFadden. Michael will also be my editor this go around. He is trying to break into the editing world and I thought I would give him the opportunity to have Lore under his belt.

Susan is still a wonderful editor and I plan to use her again with the next book.

Anyhoo, Yes, Lore will be going to my beta readers by the end of the week. I'm very excited and hopeful that they will like Lore and I will be sure to announce their thoughts once I get them back. 

After that, the editing process begins. Won't be long now and Lore will be on Amazon!

I hope there are those of you still looking forward to reading Lore. I hope you enjoy it as much as you did Fable and Fated. I plan to have it available just in time for Christmas and all three books would make a wonderful gift for those readers in your life.

So, without further ado, I am posting the new cover for those of you who haven't had a chance to see it! Please let me know if you like it!

Thanks again for all your support and patience in waiting for Lore. I think you'll find it worth waiting for!

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Balancing Act

There's a true dilemma that writers face on an on-going basis - what's more important, writing a great novel, or mastering social media. Both of which, on some levels, can be equally important.

When I search through my list of articles for writers that I want to read, I find most are about social media than what I truly deem important - writing skills. You can be successful with social media, drawing people to your sites and enlisting those buyers, but unless your book is up to snuff those sales will drop in the long run. Not just from the fact that your book has outlived its shelf life, but because you've disappointed readers and they won't invest in your latest novel.

So, in other words, your book needs to grab readers and keep them turning the page. Without those skills necessary to write a great story, your readers will skim and maybe even set your book down, never to return.

Most of the time readers don't know why they've set down your book, only that it's hum-drum, inconsistent, or too many plot holes. So for me, creative writing skills is the place where you need to expend most of your energy.

Yes there is a "skill" to mastering social media and can be equally as tough, but unless you write a clean, tight novel you will lose fans in the long run.

Recently I've been reading a series from a New York Times best selling author that at one time was all the rage. I love the story, don't get me wrong, but the author's skills are, let's just say, lacking. The problem is these books were written a while ago, some as long as back in the 70's, but it sometimes amazes me that this author made it as far as he did.

I know back then creative writing skills weren't outlined like they are today, but the fact that he uses very little dialog and just tells the story, and hops from one character's head to the next, makes me wonder how the books became so popular. Yes, story is important, obviously, but most of you out there aren't a NYT best selling author and you need to grab your reader right away. 

With the overabundant competition out there, your book needs to shine in order to survive. Although it is true I am constantly working on my craft and have a long way to go to mastering great writing skills myself, at least I'm putting forth the effort. I would never dream of publishing my work without a lot of revisions and critiques. Nor would I publish work without an editor, but I do see a lot of writers doing just that.

So if you really want your hard work to be evident, take the time to do it right and leave the social media to 10% of your writing time, instead of 90%. You'll be glad you did in the long run.

What are some of the challenges you have with balancing social media and writing? Have you been sucked into the marketing circus? 

Have a great weekend everyone and I hope it's filled with lots of reading, or writing!

Love, Lisa

Saturday, August 15, 2015

What's Your Excuse

Write every day - that's one of the biggest and most frequent pieces of advice you will receive as a writer. But your life is too crazy and busy to do so - or so you say.

We all know the excuses for avoiding writing, but what about those of you who yearn to close yourself off and immerse into the fantasy world of your own creation? The feeling of joy as you pound away at the keyboard and see the fruits of your labor. I'm sure those of you who love to write go through this all the time. 

I know I do.

But the fact is, life does go on, and we tend to lead busy lives. This is where you need to have a long discussion with yourself about what are your priorities - finding time to write, or allowing those around you to prevent you from doing what you love.

It really is as simple as that.

I know, right now your mind is reeling from what I just said, but the fact remains if you really want to be a writer, you will find the time, and quite possibly, the energy.

Maybe you feel as though I'm putting pressure on you, but really, you're doing it to yourself. Although it is true that I have a wonderful husband who understands my need to write and supports me 100%, but even if you don't have enough support from your family, you need to decide if it's worth laying it all on the line. Express your desire to write and ask for support. 

I know it's easier said than done, and if your job or family is too demanding, well then, you'll have to sneak in the time as much as you can. It is your turn to be selfish with your time.

I'm willing to bet that your spouse loves you and wants you to be happy, and I'm willing to bet he/she have their own hobbies, or things they enjoy doing outside of work, or raising a family. Are you supportive of them to do the things they love to do? If your answer is yes, then the two of you need to come to an agreement.

If you don't have a spouse and are winging life on your own, then it really is up to you to make time for your writing. Every situation is different. I've even heard the excuse of "I'm too old to start a writing career". So not true. I can name several writers who started doing so after they retired.

Life's too short to let things get in the way of your love of writing. So tell me, leave me a comment about what your excuse is. 

Have a nice weekend all - and to all you writers - write!

Love, Lisa

Friday, August 7, 2015

The Never Ending End Of Your Manuscript

You are finally down to the last couple of chapters, Yay! But you realize this isn't over - not by a long shot. So, what do you do next?

Why, you go over your book again, and again. It truly can seem never ending. 

Depending on how long it took you to reach the end of your book with revisions and critiques, you should go back over the beginning at least. Your writing has probably advanced since you last touched on the first few chapters and they are as critical as the ending, even more so.

I have a system that works for me, and have used it on both Fable and Fated. I'll list it here, along with the new added step I will be doing from now on to get my book ready for the editor - a stylized sheet.

1. Make an outgoing outline: I print out and read each chapter to my husband, you can choose who works for you, and as I go, I mark mistakes I catch, or he catches. (It's also good to read the story out loud)

 Then I buy poster board and start with chapter 1 (or prologue) and list the important points in each chapter. This way when I'm finished, I have my whole entire book right in front of me. It helps to see if your story sags anywhere, and if you need to touch on something you brought up on chapter 5 and haven't touched on since. It helps with inconsistencies and plot holes. 

2. Make a list of changes you need to implement: I also have a white board in my office that I use to list things I need to go back and change. Also reminders to check voice of characters ect..

3. Start at the beginning: After I have done these things, I begin to go through each chapter, scene by scene, line by line. I fix as much as I can find and add or take away whats needed, all the while I'm marking off my list of "to do's" from the white board. 

4. Stylized sheet: This is a new addition to my self-editing. My editor, Susan, sent this to me. It will help you to save money with your professional editor too. Basically, you make a list of your characters, separately, and add their attributes, physical descriptions, quirks, ranks/titles, ect... You can also make a list of words you need to check for using too much, such as but, was, that, and so on and try to change them. 

Another good listing would be timelines, significant dates, relationships within the characters, if made up language like I have, make sure is consistent throughout. There's a lot you can check to make sure you are covering all aspects of consistencies and plotting.

After all that, you are ready to send it to your beta-readers. Once their marks have been fixed, it's onto the editor. 

As you can see, revisions can seem never ending, but you do need to decide it's ready once you've covered all these and fixed everything. At some point you need to make the leap. 

I hope this helps you to see how important it is to look for and fix any mistakes, inconsistencies or plot holes. Your book will never be perfect, but it will be pretty damn close.

What kind of schedule have you set up to ready your book for publication? Any shares are great and appreciated! Have a great weekend.

Love, Lisa

Friday, July 31, 2015

Back To The Basics

Yes, there was a time when reading the classics was required reading. Not for the writing skills, but for the wonderful stories the author's weaved. 

Books like Moby Dick and To Kill a Mocking Bird were all the rage a long time ago and became a part of our nation's curriculum in schools. The main reason - get your kids to enjoy reading.

Reading is fundamental. It helps a child become a thinker and hopefully well-educated. But there are some drawbacks to reading the classics - the writing skills are horrible. Which leads to people, unfortunately, believing that's what a book is supposed to read like. Since the dawn of these books, writing has come a long way. There have been changes implemented that help to create novels that are tight, clean and worthy of reading.

Learning creative writing skills are a bonus for the writer. Your books flow so much better and keep the attention of the reader. Now that's a benefit we can all reap. Isn't that what you want? To hear positive reviews from fans?

I know staying within the skill parameter can be difficult, but it's worth it in the long run. There is a lot to learn, but once it all sinks in, it becomes second nature. And readers aren't left feeling like you were too lazy to do revisions and just published your rough-draft.

I have tried to teach the basics the last couple of years to not only help my writer friends to write better, but for the reputation of those of us who self-publish. It will help your sales. Although I'm not the greatest at social marketing (which is another great way to sell books), I do try. In fact, I'm always open to those of you who are good at marketing to give me some hints.

But when it comes to the basic creative writing skills, I know them pretty well and love to share so that your book becomes the next great read!

I do believe we all need to go back to the basics and work our way to the professional writer we were born to be. Even the greats should have gone back to the basics, but that was a long time ago. 

Are there any writing skills you have trouble with? Do you have any great hints for social marketing? Leave me a comment and help me out and I will be sure to return the favor!

Love, Lisa

Friday, July 24, 2015

Whose Point Of View am I in - Mine Or My Character's

A subject I haven't posted about came to my attention while working with one of my student writers. And it's a good one to discuss - Author Intrusion.

I can understand where there would be confusion as to when you're in your character's POV or when you're in your own. But there is a difference.

Author intrusion is when you are in your own POV instead of your character's experience. There are a few ways to prevent this. I will share them here and hope they help you.

1. Author intrusion can be subtle or very noticable 

     When the character's know more than they should. For example, types of plants, flowers, the description of a place they've never seen. If your character grew up in New York City, what would they know about life in India if they've never been there? Or if they are suddenly in a strange place, how would they know the types of foliage an environment they've never experienced? Are they a botanist? Did they research this before going there? This is not only author intrusion, it doesn't ring true to your reader.

      Do all your character's have the same belief systems and politics as you? If so, you've intruded into the story.

2. Author word choices

     In other words, does your character fit the language you are using for them. What I mean is, if they always use big words, or fancy words, then by all means continue to use those in their dialog. But if they speak in common, normal and everyday speech and you decide to have them speak as though they are a diplomat or professor, then the author has intruded. This can throw the reader off and maybe even cause them to close the book.

3. Narration and Research

     When your character is coming into an area they've never been to, you need to describe the scene as they see it, not two paragraphs of description before the character even gets there.

      Example : The city of light brightened the eerie forest that surrounded its outskirts. It's diplomatically run government gave the people a sense of community and purpose. Life here was everyone lending a hand and taking care of the city's beauty as well as each other.

      Apprehensive, Trey entered and saw the white washed buildings with colorful flowers on the sills. People ran from one store to the next taking care of what needed to be done. He hoped he would be welcome and wondered whom he would speak to about setting up a place of his own.

How would Trey know about the government or their people? He's never been there. Describing a scene or place first without it being in the character's POV is author intrusion. 

You need to begin the scene with knowledge of which character's POV you're in and what they're experiencing along the way. Otherwise you have given information ahead of the character's experience. Yes, you as the writer may have researched the information, but unless you have the character research it, then you've given the info before it's time.

The best way to know whether or not you're intruding into your story, is to keep within the character's POV and remember to know your character's and make sure they each have their own personalities and voices. 

Study your character outlines and try to stay within their voice. Also how you portray a character and then suddenly they have all this knowledge is changing their personalities. 

This can be a tough skill to learn, but if you want your characters  and story to be rich and clean, it is a must to accomplish.

Have you been told your intruding into your story? Did you decide to fix it and learn from it, or figured the reader will never know?

Leave me a comment and let me know your experiences with author intrusion.

Have a great weekend all!

Love, Lisa

Friday, July 17, 2015

Quality Verses Quanity

Years ago when my job was on an assembly line building medical products there was a phrase that was implemented into our work - quality verses quantity. We had meetings discussing how important quality was and if the quality was there, the numbers would follow. Shortly after the entire plant had been taught the new vision, Deming, I was trained in statistics. I would keep track of scrap and product going out the door, and the reasons for the scrapped units. I would then deliver the reports to ten different departments throughout the company.

Since then I have always taken to heart the belief in quality. The same goes for my writing. With so many authors to compete against on a daily basis, you need to stand above the crowd.

Now we all know what sells books is when you've published many, but if the books aren't great reads, that will bite you in the end. Taking your time to do it right is the key, even if it takes you two years to get one book out. But believe me as time goes on, you'll get better at your writing and will be able to take a book from start to finish at a much faster pace.

I know you're saying, but I know authors who have 40 books under their belt, is that what I need to accomplish? The answer is no. It depends, first of all, the genre you write in, and second, the size of books you plan to write. 

There are plenty of authors who write novellas and can pump them out, but that's because the books are much shorter. If you write your stories with less than 40,000 words, then it is much easier to finish the book. You usually find this with romance. 

Then there are the commercial type books. Those are the ones with hardly any description, 2 page chapters, and and leave you feeling as though you just ran a race instead of reading a book. Personally I hate seeing the big name authors succumb to this type of writing. I think their publishers took it seriously when hearing people's attention span is limited now a days. I don't think that's what the studies really meant.

People still like long novels filled with emotional characters and great descriptions that bring them into the scene. Look at some of the most popular books out there, The Game of Thrones series, and Outlander. Those are long books. I believe what readers truly want is clean, tight novels, not a lot of info dump and drawn out stuff that doesn't pertain to the story. In other words, they're not looking for a "telling" story like the commercial books of today. They're still looking for a great read that takes them to knew worlds with characters they love.

So remember the next time you're tempted to add a lot of back story or info dump, ask yourself is this moving the story along? Am I boring the reader? Are my characters emotions shown on the page? Does my descriptions bring the reader into the scene?

As writers we tend to overwrite, so don't fall in love with a line, or a scene. Know when you have to cut and do it. Keep your reader engaged, and don't worry, eventually you will be able to publish more books and gain more sales in the long run.

One other thing is make sure your book is ready. Sometimes we have to do revisions more than we wanted to. Having strong critique partners is major, along with beta readers, but you also need to know your book. Using an outline is important, not only to make sure you have no plot holes, but to be able to see your entire book out in front of you will help you to check for flow, tightness and balance. 

You can never stop learning in this craft, that's one of the things that make it so great. As long as you realize you're not perfect and corrective criticism is part of the game, you'll do fine. 

What types of issues have held you back with sales? Leave me a comment and join in on the conversation. I would love to know your thoughts!

Love, Lisa