Friday, April 24, 2015

There Will Be Disappointment

Usually when you have accomplished publishing your baby, you experience a high like you never have before. Or will again. The euphoric feeling is amazing on so many levels! And each time after that, you will be excited and look toward the prospect of new fans, and more writing.

But every once in a while something will happen. Whether it's not meeting your goals, not enough sales, can't find your fans, or a whole host of other issues, you will experience a let-down.

I guess that's par for the course. Life had it's ups and downs, even in the writing world. The trick is, learning to get past it.  

This last weekend was Starfest. I was so excited to go and even more excited to spend the weekend with my friend, Lizzie. Right off the bat, the Valet Supervisor was so helpful. He didn't charge us to park in valet and kept the car close for me so that I can retrieve books whenever we needed. Then one of his staff took our stuff to our table for us and if we needed anything from them, all we had to do was ask. It was really nice!

We had breakfast at their restaurant and then set up the table. Once we were all set, two ladies came running to the table asking for Lore. I was instantly sent down the rabbit hole. To make matters worse, the next two ladies was the same story. I was mortified, to say the least.

See, last year when my sister and I were selling books, we told the buyers that Lore would be out the following year. But because of what happened, I was unable to reach that goal. I felt horrible.

It took all that I had inside me to get through the rest of the day. At least I was good and tired by the time I got home and didn't have enough energy left in me to dwell. The next day was much better. We did sell books, and met a whole host of wonderful people. Lizzie and I even met a lady who works a lot of conferences in Denver, and we managed to gain a few leads, and a new friend.

On Monday, I was completely exhausted and ended up watching my grandson who was sick. Still not a whole lot of time spent on whining. But today, I learned something new. A way to help calm myself and get past the let-down. I was told of a little meditative exercise that helped me to get back to normal.

I have learned that you can't please everyone, just give it your best shot. I wish Lore would have been ready for the conference, but there was nothing I could do to change the circumstances. Lore will be out soon, and the important thing is, it's not rushed. It should be the best that I can make it.

I certainly don't want to publish a book that doesn't meet my expectations, or yours. It will happen and I hope it will be worth your wait.

Have a great weekend everyone! I will be home writing Lore!

Love, Lisa

Friday, April 17, 2015

Writers Cornferences

This weekend is a big deal for me. It's Starfest, and last year we sold a good amount of books - at least for me anyway. 

But it's not all about making money, it's about getting my books out there and hopefully gaining some more fans. And it's about meeting new people and having some great conversations.

The writer's life doesn't end when you type 'The End'. It continues on with conferences, book signings, classes, launch parties, and building relationships with others in your field. In fact, I wish I could afford to do more conferences throughout the year, but you do have to pay for your table space.

I've tried two years in a row to go to ComicCon, but they haven't sent me the notices when they're accepting new applicants. Maybe next year, and hopefully by then I can have two new books to add to the mix, Lore and Tale.

One thing to note: my author friend Lizzie T. Leaf will be sharing a table with me this year. This is her first time experiencing Starfest and I hope she has as much fun as I do!

If writing is something you are striving for, get ready to be busy. That is, as long as you put forth the effort and plan to share your books with the public. It can be stressful, and not to mention, tiring at times, but it's well worth it.

It can also be fun and exciting. I have met some wonderful people and have gained several great friends who have become my support system, like Lizzie, Robin and Janet. Yes, there are plenty more, but it would be a long list. 

To me there is nothing better than to see my books on Amazon (and on a few secondhand book store shelves throughout Denver) and to hand my novels to new readers. I can't wait to hear if they enjoyed the books and I'm hopeful they can't wait to read the next one that comes out. (I've even seen Fable in a couple of libraries, too!)

Sharing my story is not only amazing, but, in a way, comforting. To know people like it, maybe even love it, gives me the courage to continue doing what I love best - writing!

I hope some of you will be at Starfest this weekend and drop by our table. There's lots to see and do and a fun time for the whole family! 

See you there!

Love, Lisa

Friday, April 10, 2015

Research - A Necessary Evil

I took a look through all my blog posts over the last 3 years and realized I've never discussed the research aspect of fiction writing. This is one topic that is not only extremely important for the writer to do, but a necessary one. 

Research is not one of my favorites. I want to keep writing, not stop to make sure I've made sure it rang true. I've learned, however, if you don't want to lose your reader, you must take the time.

When writing fiction, there's not only research to accurately describe a city, or a common job, or even subjects from the past, such as painters, kings and queens, actual terms used, you can also use it to come up with names, or a made-up language, or even behavior of a certain character.

There are some writers that are so detailed in their research they actually take you there. For example, the Outlander series, or I Mona Lisa. Both great books by the way. But if you aren't writing historical fiction, do you still need to do research? The answer is, of course.

When I decided to create a made-up language in my books, I researched certain ancient languages. Mostly Native American and Nepalese, but I did use a few others, such as Arabic, and even Egyptian. I wanted the language to roll off the tongue. To be a softer version of the ancient ones. When I would look up words from those times, I would drop letters, or add if it sounded better to me, but I kept the language as close to sounding like it all fit together as possible.

The same goes for the names of the Djen. There are a few that I borrowed from other books because I liked them, or maybe even on a television show, but for the most part, I researched them.

The toughest research I've done was the FBI stuff. I finally had to make the decision whether or not I wanted to have FBI agents because they typically don't work on these types of cases. Instead, I went for the imagination on this subject. A made-up department from the past - Project Blue Book. Of course, they were with the Air Force, but mine are a secretive department for cases of UFO activity, and strange phenomena. Yes, another X-Files.

But, I wanted some intrigue. After speaking with a retired FBI agent and learning none of those shows on TV are accurate, like NCIS, or most of the other shows that deal with the FBI, I figured I was pretty safe as long as I followed some sort of a protocol.

To some writers, research is fun. Yes, it's true, you learn all kinds of stuff you probably would have never taken the time to check out, but it can be a time gobbler. You can find yourself going through so many sites that you forget what it was you needed to find out in the first place. I've even found I was posting pins to my pinterest boards because I liked the pictures.

It happens to the best of us. But try to keep your thoughts on track. Another thing I've found from doing 5 years of research, is my bookmark lists are so long that even if I wanted to find something I marked in the past, I never will.

So my best advice, write the rough draft first. When you come back to do your revisions you will no doubt be reminded that you need to research certain scenes or even characters. Don't get so caught up in the moment that it takes you much longer to write your book. 

Second, if you can afford to go to some of the places in your book, then by all means, go. But if you're like me, you have to use Goggle - a lot. That's okay, just make sure you are thorough in your reading and take notes.

And last, but not least, don't be a show-off with your research. Nobody likes a show-off. Just add what needs to be added to bring the scene or character to life.

Well, I hope these 3 little hints help and good luck in your research. But remember, there's no way out of it, you will have to research something along the way.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Love, Lisa

Friday, April 3, 2015

Avoiding Redundancy in your Writing

New topic for today:Redundancy in writing. This is one mistake I see a lot in self-published books and one that needs addressed. I am hoping that touching on these topics will help people who plan to self-publish to look at their manuscripts in a new light. 

We as writers tend to write like we talk. I don't know about you, but I tend to have to tell the 'entire' story verbally instead of in clips. I do the same when I write. We all are guilty of it, but we need to learn to recognize it and 'fix' it before we launch our books.

There are several types of redundancy, not only saying the same thing twice. Although, that is one, there is also using the same verb to close together and using names too much within a scene. I will give you some examples.

1. The yellow lab ran up to Linda and jumped up on her, soiling her new coat. The mud and paw prints left dirt spots on her pink coat. Linda shooed the lab away and ran in the house for a towel to clean her coat. 

As you can see, these sentences can be cut and still say the same thing. 

The yellow lab jumped on Linda, leaving muddy paw prints on her new pink coat. She shooed the dog away and ran to the house for a towel to clean off the dirt and leaves. 

Yes, this is obvious, but I think you see there is no need to say the same thing twice. We already know it's Linda, and the paw prints would be muddy, by just saying the word 'mud'. Also, using lab twice and the word coat three times is redundant too.

Another use of redundancy is repeating the same point. 

Example: John loved Kathy more than words could say. He had lived his life looking for the one woman who he could spend the rest of his days with. The one he could tell his deepest secrets too, the one who would understand him and love him for who he is. 

Now, after all these years, he finally found the woman of his dreams. She is everything to him. Finally, his soul mate, the one who will love him as much as he loved her. Someone who will know his heart and be there with him forever. He knew she would accept him and he would be free to be himself.

Okay, that's all I could think of in short notice. 

As you can see we know John found the woman of his dreams. I think that you get that she will love him and understand him, I don't think you need it beaten over your head. You only need one of these paragraphs. They both say the same thing. 

The next one drives me crazy. Using the same words too close together. 

Example: Edward climbed onto his horse, Midnight, and led the horse into the forest. His horse reared up from the arrow that passed by Edward's nose and lodged into the tree next to them.

Again, I think you can see the flaws in this sentence. First, horse was said three times. By giving a name to the horse, you can avoid using 'horse' for one, and think of other words to replace horse, such as steed. Second, that paragraph needs rewritten. 

And last but not least, when there is more than one person in a scene and every other sentence has one of their names. I know that you want to make sure that the reader knows who is in the scene, but in this case instead of describing, use dialog. 

Example: Jake, Kerry, and Marilyn ran to their car to get out of the rain. Jake and Kerry jumped in the front seats and Marilyn in the back. Marilyn wanted Jake to turn up the heat, but Jake said he would get too hot and Kerry turned up the music to drown out the argument.

Okay, a lot of names. You can do this in one of two ways, one would be with dialog, the other rewrite the paragraph. I prefer dialog.

Jake, Kerry and Marilyn ran to their car to get out of the rain. The guys jumped in the front seats. 

"Why do I get stuck in the back?" she asked. "Turn up the heat, it's cold in here."

Jake shook his head. "'ll get to hot."

"But I'm freezing. At least turn it on for a few minutes."

"I'm tired of hearing you two argue. It's time to crank on some tunes. I'd rather listen to music than you guys fighting."

Did you know who was talking? Since there was only one female, I could use 'she' and since Marilyn was the one cold, I didn't have to use her name as a tag. Also, you knew it was Jake that was arguing with her so I didn't need a tag for Kerry.

There are times though, that you need to make sure you have tags so that people know who is talking. 

I hope these little examples helped to explain the different ways redundancy effects your writing. In the series I recently finished reading, all of these examples of redundancy were throughout the books. My suggestion would be to hire a professional editor or proofreader. A good critique partner is a welcome addition also. You want to strive for tight, clean writing and flow.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Please leave me a comment and add to my lesson of the day. Are you good at catching redundancies in your writing? What are the creative writing skills you need to work on?

Leave me a comment and any questions you might have. I love you hear from you. Have a nice holiday weekend!

Love, Lisa