The vast majority of people want to write a book, but never get it done. Do you want to? If your answer is yes, what are you waiting for? Waiting for inspiration to strike? Don’t know what to write about? If that’s the case, sign up for my mailing list and you will get a copy of my Novel Idea Generator . . . PLUS, I will select three people from the list to get a hard copy of the workbook sometime in the next couple of weeks.
Writing a novel is HARD. That’s all there is to it. When you write the draft, it is exciting and fun (well, except for that mucky middle) and I always celebrate when I write those two magical words . . . the end.
After you let that manuscript rest for a bit (personally, I think you need to leave it for at least a few weeks). So, once you’re ready to edit, how do you actually do that?
I edit in a couple of rounds. Here’s my process:
ROUND ONE: Rough Edit. Go back to the beginning and read through your manuscript from start to finish, looking for echos, plot holes, passive voice, missing bits and pieces. This is what I consider the fleshing out of the novel I drafted very quickly (usually in 30 days or less), where I add layers and things like weather and setting. I also think about characters’ growth and plot arcs at this time. This is the version that I send to my critique group for feedback.
ROUND TWO: Read the full manuscript with a notebook beside you. Note any questions a reader would have as you go. Note any issues that you notice, again, looking for echos, plot holes, passive voice. Look for continuity issues. Make sure your timeline is correct. (Note: after I finish this round, I will send the manuscript to a handful of beta readers.)
ROUND THREE: Gather your notebook and your critique partners’ notes, along with any comments from your beta readers. Make all necessary revisions to your manuscript. (Note: after I finish this round, I send out the Advance Review Copies to reviewers.)
ROUND FOUR: Proofread and polish the entire manuscript, from start to finish. This is a word by word, line by line proof.
If you want to know in more detail how to edit a manuscript, make sure you sign up for my WriteScouts list below:
There’s something about finishing up the year that engenders review and reflection. I love the idea of a fresh start, whether it be a new journal, a new day planner or a new calendar.
The common consensus seems to be that 2016 sucked. I have to say, losing Prince, David Bowie, Glen Frey, George Michael and Carrie Fisher (among others), flat out sucks. But on a personal level, 2016 was pretty good for me. Fatal Impulse sold really well in the beginning of the year, and I released Diamond in the Rough and the Novel Idea Generator. One of the biggest events, though, was my husband’s heart attack. It happened in February, as I was getting ready to walk out the door on the way to a writers retreat with my critique group. My hubs called and said he didn’t feel good, thought he needed to go to the ER. He never wants to go to the doctor for anything, so I knew it was bad. He had a major heart attack while he was at the ER. He was rushed to the cath lab. Afterwards, the doc told me it was a miracle he’d survived. That blockage was 100%, but he had another bad one. Three days later, he had another cath. And now he’s on a handful of meds to try to clear up two more blockages. The point is, we feel like we have a second chance. We enjoy life.
And the other reason 2016 rocks is that we became grandparents. Our oldest (my stepdaughter) gave birth to a little girl in November. That adorable little bundle has wiggled her way into our hearts and brought a new level of happiness to our house. Being a grandma rocks!!
So, while 2016 sucked in so many ways, we each can find happy memories. And I have high hopes for 2017. Great things will happen in 2017. Fatal Obsession will be released in early 2017, and I am putting the finishing touches on my “school” for aspiring writers (think Girl Scouts for writers). Do you want in?
Sign up here – for my mailing list for fiction if you want info about books and/or for WriteScout classes if you want info about how to write, publish and promote your books.
You may have heard me talking about WriteScouts. What the heck is it anyway? Well, you’ve heard of the Girl Scouts and the Boy Scouts, where kids learn skills that make them better people, right?. As I began taking my writing seriously about 13 years ago, I started by stumbling along. I wrote and thought it was amazing (oh, the joy! I was going to be rich! Everyone would be blown away by my brilliance!), but a writer friend (Hi, DaLynne!) pointed out places where I could improve my writing and I was crushed. but determined to do better.
I read blogs, craft books, magazines. Essentially, I needed to know how to do everything. I started a novel and sent a few chapters to a writer I met online who agreed to give me feedback. Yeah, that feedback was kinda brutal. I worked and reworked and revised, but got stuck in perfection stasis. I couldn’t get past 25K words.
Then I found National Novel Writing Month and learned how to lock up my Internal Editor and get that first draft DONE. That was huge for me, because you can’t edit a blank page. The second year I did NaNoWriMo, I met a fantastic group of people and a few of us started a critique group. That was in . . . 2005, I think. We are STILL meeting and those women are some of my closest friends.
Together, we’ve learned all kinds of things about characterization, plotting, suspense, pacing, setting, etc. I discovered that there are a myriad of skills that need to be learned to make one a better writer, and then I thought, wouldn’t it be cool if there was a group that would teach you those skills, and help you keep track of the skills that you learn (and, I have to admit, I kinda like the idea of earning badges)?
WriteScout was born.
To celebrate the birth of this new program, I’m giving everyone who signs up a copy of my Novel Idea Generator. This is the exact method I use when I’m brainstorming ideas for a new book. The workbook contains step-by-step instructions, a series of exercises that will help you find the book that YOU are meant to write.
Do you want YOUR Novel Idea Generator?
Are you interested in learning the skills to make you a better writer?
What are you waiting for? Sign up today.
Subscribe to WriteScouts (no spam, I promise):
Have you ever wanted to write a book but never seem to find the time? Have you read writing craft books, but can’t seem to put it all together? Do you work full-time, so you barely have time to brush your teeth, much less write the book you want to write? Have you got notebooks filled with ideas and words that you just can’t string together into a complete book?
I’ve been where you are, and I want to help you fast-forward through the struggles that I went through. Now that I figured out how to get that novel finished, I want to help you do the same thing. I’m working to put together a class to help you write your novel in a matter of weeks (instead of the 10 years I spent on my first manuscript). I’ll be offering a freebie to give you a taste of what’s coming. If you want in on that freebie, and want writing tips and tricks, sign up below for updates. Pssst . . . if you sign up now, you’ll get an extra freebie!
(btw . . . comment below and let me know what you’d like to see covered in upcoming classes.)
I know I’m not the only one who needs help with that. There just aren’t enough hours in the day, right? Every morning, the alarm goes off and I start my day with a big list of to-dos. Thanks to my Happy Planner and my Your Best Year Planner, I do get a lot of things done, but there’s always more to do at the end of the day. I collapse into bed at 9:30 or so and my mind races with all the things I still want to get done.
Everyone has the same number of hours in the day.
Lisa Jacobs, Joanna Penn and Tawna Fenske have the same as me, yet I haven’t even come close to tapping their level of success. And don’t even get me started on Oprah and Ellen. Not to mention the President.
It’s what we do with those hours that counts.
It’s pretty clear that the problem isn’t the number of hours, but what we do with them. Here’s my list of things I want to try that I think might help me reach the level of success I want to reach:
Don’t hit the snooze. Self-explanatory.
Start with a plan. I’m going to compare my 2 planners and decide on a plan of action for the day, focusing on the must-do things. And I don’t mean the boring, mundane things I have to do to exist, I mean the things I need to do to meet MY goals.
Schedule. Just like this post. I work, so I write my posts ahead of time and schedule them to release at a certain day/time. I need to check into automating other social media like that, too.
Visualize. I’m going to put reminders everywhere. A chart on my closet door showing what I need to do & how far I’ve come & how far I’ve got to go.
Be selfish. My time is valuable. It’s time to put myself first.
Less TV. Yikes. Hands down, this will be the hardest for me. Good thing Lost isn’t on the air anymore. And Castle. And Desperate Housewives. And The Mentalist.
Be brave. I will try things. I may fail, but I will fail forward (hat tip to my bestie, Lynn).
OK, now it’s your turn. Tips? Suggestions? Hacks?
(BTW – if you haven’t signed up for my newsletter yet, do it now. It’s in the sidebar. Quick and easy, lemon squeezy.)
When my first book, Denim & Diamonds, was released, I thought about hosting a virtual launch party, but wasn’t quite sure how to pull it off. For my second book, Fatal Impulse, I decided to do a little research and host a Facebook event. It was Saturday, and now that it’s over, I’m declaring it a success. Over 60 people attended, and the ebook surged to 53rd place on the Amazon bestseller list (for women’s fiction / detective mysteries). It may not be the NYT bestseller list, but it was enough to make me proud. So, how did I do it? And what am I going to do again?
- Schedule. As soon as you have the release date for your book, schedule a Facebook event.
- Open House. Instead of hosting a “party,” host an “open house.” I ran mine from 9 am – 9 pm. This allows you to cover lots of time zones, and allows folks to come and go as their schedules allow.
- Public. You want the event to be public, so that anyone can attend. Check your settings in the event to be sure everyone is able to attend.
- Invitations. Invite everyone on your friend list that you think might be interested. Post links on groups that you belong to. Share with non-reading groups that might have an interest in your topic. For instance, I’m a papercrafter and belong to a scrapbook organizing group. I used my crafting supplies to make gifts for my party, so I shared pics of my giveaways with that group and issued an open invite to any of them who wanted to attend. Notify your local library and local bookstores. Tell friends and family about it.
- Countdown. Post links on your Facebook wall, your Twitter feed, and other social media outlets leading up to the event, reminding them of it.
- Prizes. Everyone loves giveaways. Plan to have several small gifts and a couple of larger ones, plus a “grand prize.” I chose to give away a proof copy of the paperback as the “grand prize,” plus a “first prize” of a $10 gift card to an independent book store of the winner’s choosing.
- Plan. Have a series of questions prepared ahead of time to keep things rolling the day of the party. Good questions include details about your book, but focus on your readers. For instance, something like, “In Fatal Impulse, Andi describes herself as round. What word would you use to describe yourself?”
- First Post. Outline how the party will work, what you are going to do, what prizes will be given and when. “Pin” this post so that it appears at the top of the page.
- Schedule. Post at least once an hour, something that will generate comments and interaction.
- Interact. Comment on your guests’ comments and respond to any questions they have. This is a chance for them to get to know you – and for you to get to know them.
- Links. Throughout the day, post links to your other social media profiles (Twitter, Goodreads, Amazon, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.) to encourage your readers to connect with you.
- Your last post. Thank your attendees. Let them know you appreciate them.
- Wrap up. Mail out all of your giveaways. Connect with your readers on social media. Evaluate your use of time: how many attendees, how many books were sold, sales ranking, etc.
- Celebrate. You pulled it off. Everyone had a great time. Give yourself some time off social media to reflect on your success!
If you want to look at the posts at my Fatal Impulse launch, click HERE. And if you’ve hosted a successful launch party, please share your tips!
One of the difficult things about being a writer is putting yourself “out there.” Shortly after I started going to writing conferences, I realized that I was hearing one word over and over. Branding. Agents. Editors. Publicists. Everyone talked about the importance of building your brand. I’ve struggled with that. I mean, what is my brand? What is it about my writing that appeals to people?
Then it occurred to me – I am my brand. My brand is me. If you’re struggling with capturing your brand, take a minute and write down who you are, what interests you, what you do. Here’s a partial list for me to get you started:
- Animal lover (especially dogs, cats, horses, turtles . . . )
- Drive a Jeep (lifted, big tires)
- Empty nester
- Shoot guns (I prefer my Browning semi-automatic pistol)
- Love watching old TV (especially Star Trek, Wonder Woman, Batman, and recently discovered Dean Martin movies)
The idea behind this is to recognize that you have lots of interests, and a lot of things in common with your readers. Chances are, your interests will come through in your writing. For example, I’ve always loved horses . . . and my first book, Denim & Diamonds, is set on a horse ranch. Your readers won’t connect with a single book you write – they will connect with you.
Share with us in the comments below – what are 5 words/phrases that describe you?
We’ve all heard the old adage to write what you know, but seriously, how boring would that be? I want to learn just as much from writing as I do from reading. Although my first book, Denim & Diamonds, is set in Missouri, my second book is set in Maine. I’ve never been to Maine. Now, before anyone writes to me and points out every error in any of my books, let me point out that I write fiction. Sometimes I take creative license with exactly where things are or how they look. That said, I want the feel of my settings to come across to my readers, and I do research to be as accurate as possible.
For instance, here’s an excerpt from Fatal Impulse:
They drove down Main Street, rounded a curve and the harbor appeared before them. Tall masts sprung up from the boats like a forest of toothpicks, and white sails billowed in the salty breeze. As they turned into the parking lot, Andi was blown away by the number of cars already there. Parking would be at a premium after the tourists arrived after Memorial Day, but early May was still quiet. She drove down three aisles before she found a parking space.
Not lots of detail, but I used the senses of sight and smell, and incorporated the mention of tourists to give the idea of it being a touristy-area.
If you are writing about an area that you have not personally visited, there are lots of resources to draw upon.
- People. Let folks know what you’re writing about and likely someone you know knows someone who is from there, or has visited there. Talk to them.
- Books. Tourism books are great, but also pick up fictional books set in that area.
- Google Earth. This is invaluable. You can actually “drive” the route you are talking about to see what the area is like.
- Reviews. To include authentic details, read reviews of restaurants and shops in the area. You’ll pick up on all sorts of little details, like local specialties.
Word of warning: do your research, don’t wing it.
(as an aside: I read a book years ago by a woman from New Hampshire. Her book was set in Missouri. Her character stepped out of her motel room and looked “south at the Ozark Mountains.” This was mentioned several times in the book, about looking south at the mountains. I was acquainted with the writer, so I emailed with what I hoped was a helpful note about not being able to see the Ozarks from Kansas City, in case she decided to write another book set in Missouri. She sent back a snippy email that she was entirely capable of looking at a map and that the mountains should be clearly visible from Kansas City. Um, okay. I haven’t emailed her again, nor have I bothered to see if she wrote another book.)
A frequent question I get is “Where do you get your ideas?”
My answer is simple. Everywhere. Look around you. Listen. Read. I’ve got several novels drafted – here’s how I’ve done it.
Denim & Diamonds is my first novel. The story began to germinate when I worked at a law firm. A client came in, needing an estate plan. She had several horses that she cared about deeply. They were her primary concern. She wanted to know how she could structure her estate so that her little farm would be taken care of. That got me to thinking . . . and the Diamond J was born.
Widow’s Web/Fatal Impulse (my next novel . . . hopefully to be released in 2015) was inspired by a story I heard when I was 10 years old. My family vacationed in Colorado, near Salida. At some point, Mom talked to a local about the mountain roads, the steep drop-offs, the dangers of driving. I remember a woman telling a story about a car that went off Highway 50, somewhere near Monarch Pass. The woman said the woman’s body wasn’t recovered until the next summer because the ravine was so steep and rugged that it was too dangerous for rescue crews to go down. The car was left there, a mangled mass of steel. The idea of someplace being so rugged that a body couldn’t be recovered stuck with me. I thought, what a great way to get rid of a body! (yes, even at 10, I thought that way – is it any wonder that I devoured Stephen King novels in my early teens?)
Alien Threat (still in draft form) was inspired by conspiracy websites that picked up a local news story several years ago when a local research scientist was killed. Apparently there have been a lot of scientists killed in unusual ways. Too much to be coincidence? Not in my novel.
If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas, there are several resources you can mine for inspiration:
- Read the news (especially a couple of pages back in a newspaper)
- Pick up a book and turn to the 3rd page and read a line, then turn to the 30th page and read a line
- Think of a book you like, then imagine that story line in a different genre (what if Harry Potter was written as a romance?)
- Think of two movies you like, and imagine them in a mashup (Harry Potter meets Rocky)
When you come across ideas like that, find a way to record them:
- Keep an idea journal.
- Jot ideas on scraps of paper and drop them in a jar.
- Write the idea on a sticky note and stick it to your wall.
- Write your idea on an index card and keep it in a card file box.
So . . . where do you get your ideas? When you get an idea, how do you remember it?