Tag: novels (page 1 of 6)

Happy to Announce Novels on Sale for Valentine’s Day

Staci Troilo book promoI know. I think I’ve set a record for posting this week. But I have exciting news, and it’s a limited time offer.

From today through February 19, my publisher, Oghma Creative Media, is running a sale on several novels: A Bride for Gil by Dusty Richards, Just Like Gravity by Sorchia Dubois, Beyond the Moon and The Tell-Tale Stone by Velda Brotherton, Noisy Creek by Pamela Foster, Santorini Sunset by Claire Croxton, and Southern Seduction by Luna Zega. (I’ve included hyperlinks to their respective websites and to their Kindle eBooks on Amazon. You can also visit Oghma Creative Media’s website for more information on these authors, these novels, or on any of the other talented authors who write under the Oghma imprints.)

Oh, yeah—they’re running a sale on two of my novels, as well: Type and Cross and Bleeding Heart

Bleeding Heart is a paranormal romance (the supernatural element stemming from alchemy).

Type and Cross is a family drama, but at its heart, it’s a love story.

Both focus on the hero and heroine and whether they can reconcile their differences by the end.

And both are on sale. (Click on the link, and then select which book(s) you’d like to download. Amazon | iBooks | and we’re still waiting for Nook to price match.)

If you’ve already read one, some, or all of these, please help spread the word to your family and friends. And, if you haven’t already reviewed what you read, consider doing so. Reviews really help an author.

If you haven’t read these books, consider downloading one, some, or all of them before the price goes up. (And then, when you’re finished reading, please leave a review.) Thanks.

The Oghma Creative Media sale has something for everybody. There’s a western, a paranormal romance, a PTSD drama, a Poe-inspired mystery, a funny mainstream, a snarky romance, and for you adventurous readers, an erotic love story.

And, of course, there’s my supernatural romance and my family drama/love story.

Seriously, if you need a gift for Valentine’s Day, any of these would make a great one. And if you think of Valentine’s Day as a Hallmark holiday, well, reading these will give you something to do on the 14th!

Thanks for checking these out. Wishing you a wonderful weekend and an early Happy Valentine’s Day!

Book Review—Lock & Key by Gordon Bonnet

perf4.370x7.000.inddI recently took the time to read Lock & Key by Gordon Bonnet. While I don’t typically write science fiction (I’ve written a short story or two, but not a novel—well, not yet, anyway), I do enjoy reading it. I’m often leery about an unknown author in this genre, because if the storyworld isn’t properly developed, if the details of the fiction aren’t well-thought out, then the story won’t seem real and it’s a disappointing read.

Well, I don’t know if you’ve heard of Gordon Bonnet or not, but if you haven’t, pay attention.

Last year, I read a book of his called Kill Switch, and from the first page I knew I’d want to read all of his work. So when Lock & Key came out, I immediately added it to my to-be-read list.

It didn’t disappoint. In fact, it thoroughly impressed me.

Lock & Key takes place in the present. Sort of. Well, that’s where it starts. Protagonist Darren Ault is an unassuming bookstore owner who, after an ordinary day, meets his best friend, Lee McCaskill (a brilliant scientist) for an ordinary dinner. Then the extraordinary happens.

Lee shoots Darren in the head.

End of story, right? Wrong.

Lock & Key Teaser 1Darren doesn’t die. Instead, he’s whisked to the Library of Timelines, where the Head Librarian and his administrative assistant are more than a little upset that things have transpired the way they have.

Not only did Darren survive the shooting, the rest of the world has vanished.

The Head Librarian researches the problem and discovers there were three places in the past where timelines diverged, possible places where Darren can make things right and reset the balance of humanity.

With seemingly no other choice, Darren begins a journey through time and history to right the wrongs of temporal disorder and bring humanity back into existence.

So, like I mentioned earlier, if the intricate details of the science fiction world aren’t thoroughly considered, the story can fall apart. But Bonnet did a wonderful job of thinking through all the possible problems and pitfalls (and we all know time travel presents a lot of them) and providing the reader with a story that not only logically flows, it thrills.

Each era and locale visited evokes images of what those times were really like. Readers smell the odoriferous scents, hear the sounds of nature, taste the bland local cuisine. We’re transported there right along with Darren. And when he’s back at the Library, we’re treated to witty banter and technological wonders. All this while seamlessly advancing a wonderful plot that keeps the reader rapidly turning pages.

I read the whole novel in one sitting.

Here’s an example of the confusing situation Darren finds himself in:

“Man, this stuff makes my head hurt.”

“You should complain,” Fischer said, a little bitterly. “You only have to keep track of yourself. I have to keep track of everybody who ever existed, and also all the ones who don’t. You want my job?”

“No. But still… I mean, that doesn’t make sense.”

“What doesn’t?”

“If my grandma never existed, how can I be here?”

I thoroughly recommend Lock & Key by Gordon Bonnet. The characters are three-dimensional, the plot is well-developed, and the settings are rich and tangible. If you love sci-fi, you don’t want to miss this novel. And if you’re new to the genre, this is a great one to start with.

Do You Get What You Deserve from Political Fiction?

United States GovernmentI thought since Monday was Presidents’ Day in the US, I should tailor this post toward the political. And as I’m not one to discuss politics in a business setting (although my family and I have heated debates), this would be the perfect time to discuss the genre of political fiction.

Fiction, when done correctly, helps us make sense of the world around us. Therefore, politically-themed fiction should help us make sense of war, trade embargos, terrorist attacks, immigration, government coups, voting debacles, scandals, etc. Look at the Civil War novel Gone with the Wind, the WWI novel A Farewell to Arms, and the WWII novel The Diary of a Young Girl: Anne Frank, just to name a few stories with political themes. These stories give us a picture of their respective wars, but more importantly, context with which to understand them.

And just how do we achieve this context? I’ll give you a hint—it’s not by excessive description of battles and death.

political novelsGone with the Wind isn’t about Sherman’s March; it’s about a girl struggling to overcome the aftermath of that march.

A Farewell to Arms isn’t about the crushing defeat of the Italians in the Battle of Caporetto; it’s about a man searching for love amidst the horrors of war.

The Diary of a Young Girl: Anne Frank isn’t about the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands; it’s about the tragic life of a young girl in hiding during those years.

We get historical context through character development in fictional works. (Agree? Tweet it.)

So many of the novels dealing with today’s tragic events focus on the horrors of war. They become military thrillers. And I love a good thriller; don’t get me wrong. But except for the exhilarating and terrifying journey they take me on, I’m left with no message, no commentary. No understanding of the conflict, no comprehension of how it affects me or the world around me.

Political fiction, successful political fiction, has to help make sense of the conflict and the resolution. (Agree? Tweet it.)

How do Gone with the Wind, A Farewell to Arms, and The Diary of Anne Frank differ from today’s political thrillers? They focus on the characters, which ultimately gives us a context with which to process the historical significance of the wars.

Good fiction, regardless of the genre, is driven by characters.

  • Who they are before the inciting incident.
  • How they react to the changes in their lives.
  • How they behave in the climax.
  • Who they become in the resolution.

Plot-driven fiction is exciting, but still needs character development to work. Character-driven fiction is compelling, but still needs a viable plot to drive the action.

In fiction, character and plot are difficult to divorce, even when one takes precedent over the other. Both must be strong for a story to be a success.

But in political fiction, we’ll never understand the complexities of events, and the results on our lives, if we don’t delve deeply into the characters and let them relate their stories. One small slice of a person’s experience in a great conflict can tell us more about the situation than an overarching picture of the whole thing.

Writers:
Are you working on a political novel? Is it character- or plot-driven? Do you see the difference between the two? What are your goals—an action-filled ride or a psychological commentary on the event? You have to have solid answers (and reasons for them) in order for your novel to work. Spend some time thinking about that.

Everyone:
Do you enjoy reading (or watching) political fiction? Do you have a favorite book or film? How did it make your list? Let’s talk about it.

Is Your Writing Like Angel Food Cake?

angel food

Photograph via Lucy Baker

Honestly, you can’t make these things up. Today is National Angel Food Cake Day.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that I love to bake. Italians show love through their food, and the old saying, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,” was probably said by someone’s nonna after winning her man with homemade cannoli.

I’ve made countless desserts in my life. More cakes than you can fathom. I’ve even decorated dozens of them for birthday parties.

But I’ve never made an angel food cake. Never.

Don’t get me wrong, I love angel food cake. I’m especially fond of it soaked in raspberry Jell‑O and topped with whipped cream (maybe cut into cubes and mixed with fruit, too). But I’ve never baked one. I don’t have a pan, and every grocery store sells them ready made. Not quite as good as homemade angel food cake, but it’s hard to pass up the convenience.

Angel food cake originated in the United States and became popular in the late nineteenth century. It gets its name from its texture. It’s an incredibly airy cake (not at all like a dense pound cake) that is made by whipping egg whites and folding them into the rest of the ingredients. It’s then baked in an ungreased tube pan (the lack of greasing helps the cake cling to the sides of the pan and rise tall). Because of its white color and light texture, angel food cake was called the “food of the angels.”

I don’t know if angels eat, but if they do, I could see why they’d like this cake.

And why am I telling you all this?

Because it’s interesting, in a not-so-fascinating kind of way.

How did a cake get a whole day devoted to it? Why October 10? Who decided to make the first cake in an ungreased pan (madness!)? Why don’t people frost this cake?

No one seems to know.

But two things struck me about this day. One, angel food cake is a lot like writing. And two, angel food cake day is actually a life-lesson we can all benefit from. Don’t believe me? Read on.

For Writers:
Indulge me for a bit.

Angel food cake is difficult to make and is only successful if a specific formula is followed.

  • Egg whites have to be whipped into meringue.
  • Stabilizer has to be added for structure.
  • The proper pan must be used for lift.
  • The cake has to be cooled upside down so it doesn’t fall.

And isn’t a novel the same?

  • Plots have to be whipped into shape.
  • The three-act structure gives it stability.
  • Fully-developed characters carry the story.
  • It will all fall apart if the ending isn’t crafted properly.

Writers, take the time to make your novels a masterpiece instead of a hastily slapped-together work that might not rise to your readers’ expectations.

For Everyone:
The story of angel food cake and its achieving a national holiday is a lesson we can all learn from. Most of us won’t leave our history behind. We won’t be written about on Wikipedia and our biographies will be lost to the masses.

But like the cake, even though our histories are lost, our legacies will live on.

Through our family, our friends, our work.

Are we going to stand out from the crowd, elite and exceptional?

Or are we going to blend in to all the others, uninspiring and easily ignored?

I want my legacy to be the stuff angels crave. And that will only happen if I rise to the occasion and be the best I can be.

What about you? Are you an angel cake or a dry scone? Let’s discuss (but grab a cup of coffee and a piece of angel food cake first!).

Four Words of Wisdom for the Graduate, or the Writer

My daughter graduated middle school this past week. Just putting my age in perspective, when I was in school, you didn’t graduate middle school, you just moved on to the next grade. Kids today celebrate every milestone. In some ways, I kind of think that’s the problem with the younger generation. They get participation trophies instead of earning their awards, no child is left behind (even if the child should be), and then when they become adults, they wonder why no one is handing them things anymore. They’re completely unprepared for the realities of life.

graduationOn the other hand, I say why not celebrate every accomplishment you can? Before too long, people will be looking for reasons to knock you down and climb over you on their way up the ladder of success. Might as well enjoy the successes while you have them and people are willing to celebrate with you.

As a parent, I know I’ll always be a cheerleader for my kids, no matter how old they are, no matter what they accomplish. My kids are quite successful, but don’t worry—I’m not going to use this as a forum to brag. Instead, I’m going to take some words of wisdom I picked up from the guidance counselor at the awards assembly. He said some things that I think apply to everyday living, and to the writer’s career as well.

1)  Some people get older; some people grow up.

  • In life, that’s easy enough to explain. Some of the kids are getting older, but no more mature. His point is that it’s time to stop acting like a child and start being responsible. We all know that fifty year old who thinks it’s funny to burn rubber in the parking lot and is always causing trouble at work. That person didn’t grow up. Don’t be that person.
  • In a writer’s career, that’s also appropriate. Some writers never mature in their writing because they don’t put the time and effort in. You can say you’re a writer for years, working on that one manuscript that no one ever sees (and that honestly, you only dabble in once a month), but to become an expert, you must write often, and you must study the craft. Read books, attend conferences, work with critique partners, submit your work for publication. Only then can you, as a writer, mature.

2)  The better we handle the word “no,” the more often we hear the word “yes.”

  • That, too, is self-explanatory as a life-lesson. People who have temper tantrums and negative responses to a refused request will not be looked upon favorably, and that will result in another “no” when a second request is made. A responsible reaction to a rejection leaves a positive image, and therefore requests are more likely to be answered with a “yes” in the future.
  • In writing, rejection can come in the form of negative reviews, bad critiques, or actual rejections from agents, editors, or publishers. Written or verbal replies to these rejections that are negative (or even worse, sarcastic or scathing) show the writer to be difficult to work with and unprofessional. Why burn bridges? Sometimes the rejections come with nothing but good intentions, offering ways to make your writing better. Other times, a no is a no. But in any case, you always want to leave people with a positive impression. That “yes” could be one submission away. And don’t forget—people in the industry talk. You don’t want your name being circulated for the wrong reasons.

3)  When we forget life is short, we treat it like it’s not.

  • Don’t leave things for another time, only to find out that time was taken from you. People move on, sometimes permanently, and you may not have a chance to say or do something you mean to.
  • In writing, sometimes we get career-obsessed. I have to make word count today. I need to send more tweets. I’m seventeen likes away from one-thousand followers on Facebook. Yes, writing and platforming are crucial steps in becoming successful. But life is short. Take the time to actually live,too, or all of your hard work will have been for nothing.

4)  There’s never a right time to do the wrong thing, and never a wrong time to do the    right thing.

  • If you live your life by a set of high moral standards, you’ll feel better about yourself. You won’t ever get into trouble. And, in the grand scheme of things, you’ll come out ahead, even if you don’t get every small reward you think you deserve along the way.
  • In writing, the thing that keeps the plot moving is conflict. If a character isn’t faced with a choice or a dilemma, then there isn’t anything happening. The rule is for the heroes to always do right and the villains to always do wrong. Here’s the caveat: there are no rules in fiction that can’t be broken. Have your hero make a bad choice. Have your villain do something nice. It’s the choices that people make—and the reasons they make them—that make them rich, interesting characters to read about. It’s okay, even interesting,  to get your hero in trouble, as long as you make things right in the end.

So, those were just some of the words of wisdom we heard at the awards ceremony. I batted back a few tears, shared some smiles and laughter, and applauded with the rest of the crowd when the kids got their awards. I can’t believe both of my kids are now officially in high school. Where did the time go? I think I need to work on number three. Life is short, and I want to embrace every second of it.

What words of wisdom do you have to share, for both life and writing?

ABCs of Mystery Heir

ABCsSome writing friends recently participated in an alphabet blog challenge where every day for twenty-six days they wrote a post corresponding to a particular letter, each entry having to do with a work-in-progress or a recently released work. I didn’t participate; I figure one, maybe two posts a week is plenty. But I thought the premise was pretty cool. So here is my abridged take on the alphabetized postings. I have a mystery novel coming out soon. It’s a departure from my usual romance work, but it’s still heavy on family and relationships, so it’s not too big a stretch for me. In any event, I thought this might be a good way to introduce it to you. It’s called Mystery Heir.

  • Aaron Fields
    His presence humanizes the lead character and leads to a break in the case.
  • Baseball Cards
    A clue for both the police and the lead sleuth in the book.
  • Centerville
    The setting. The town seems to be haunted. Bad things keep happening there.
  • Daddy Issues
    The original title of the book and a recurring theme throughout the novel.
  • Everett Kerr
    Mayor of Centerville and someone who keeps popping up in Naomi’s life.
  • Food
    Healthy necessity or decadent indulgence, what girl doesn’t love to snack?
  • Grant Family
    One of the key families at the heart of the mystery.
  • Harbaugh Family
    Another family at the center of it all. The patriarch is the victim.
  • Incarcerate
    Who ends up in jail? Why? Is it justified?
  • Johnson Family
    How many families are tangled in this mess, anyway?
  • Kaolin
    Fancy little mineral. Wonder what it has to do with the murder of a councilman?
  • Lockwood Family
    Another family?
  • Myer Lake
    Centerville is a big town with a lot of regions. The lake area is just one part of the town.
  • Naomi Dotson
    The main character. She tends to stick her nose in where it doesn’t belong.
  • Oktoberfest
    Lovely start to a novel. Too bad the party couldn’t last.
  • Penelope Dotson
    Naomi’s twin. They aren’t that much alike.
  • Quest
    Naomi is on a quest to solve a mystery. Someone else is on a quest to stop her.
  • Rothschild Law Office
    Where all the fun begins. If you consider a robbery and a high strung lawyer fun.
  • Shoes
    Penelope has a thing for shoes. It’s kind of important.
  • Tae kwon do
    Both girls are talented martial artists. It’s a handy skill.
  • Undaunted
    Naomi won’t be deterred from getting answers. Sometimes at great cost.
  • Valuable
    A lot of people have a lot to lose in this book.
  • Will
    That’s probably why the will is so important. (Hint, hint.)
  • Xerox copies
    Naomi provides the police with important copies of evidence. They tend to ignore her.
  • Yoga
    Things get pretty stressful. Yoga can be relaxing in times of tension.
  • Zeal
    In the end, it’s Naomi’s zeal that puts the pieces together and solves the crime.

Okay, admittedly, some of the letters were difficult. But when you read the book, and I hope you do, you’ll understand that some of the letters could have had ten entries and others I had to reach for one. I’ll keep you updated as Mystery Heir comes closer to its release date. I don’t have any specifics yet; this is just something small to whet your appetites until the big day draws nearer.

Until then, think about your WIPs. Can you come up with ABCs for all of them? Let us know how easy it was for you.

Intriguing Series for YA Paranormal Romance Fans

Stacy authorYou know me, I love to help out my fellow writers. And today, I’m giving a shout-out to fellow writer Stacy Claflin, who has written two books in a series called The Transformed. Today I’m posting a review of Betrayal, the second in the series, but I highly recommend you check out Deception, the first of the series as well. And when Forgotten, book three in the series, comes out, I recommend you grab that one, too. I know I’ll be getting a copy. Now, without further ado, my review of Betrayal.

Betrayal Stacy ClaflinBetrayal by Stacy Claflin is a Contemporary Young Adult Paranormal Romance. While I both read and write paranormal romances, I don’t typically choose YA novels for my own reading pleasure. I have been known to read them on occasion because I still screen my daughter’s reading choices. I read Claflin’s first book, Deception, because I thought it was something my daughter would enjoy. Betrayal is book two in The Transformed series, and I read it of my own volition because the storyline is captivating and the characters are compelling. If you like teen romances and paranormal thrillers, you’ll love Betrayal.

Betrayal begins where Deception left off. The novel is a self-contained story, but it really would be beneficial if you read part one first. Alexis has been reunited with her family, she has come fully into her powers, and she has learned more about the world she was born into. She goes back to school knowing it won’t be long until she is reunited with her birth parents and can resume the life she was destined to lead as the Sonnast. But she learns that enemies of her parents (who happen to be her parents’ advisors and not coincidentally the parents of her fiancé) are conspiring to wage war against them, and a new teacher at school with an unnatural interest in her seems to be involved in the plot. Complicating matters, vying for her affections is an old boyfriend who is also eligible to marry her and rule at her side.

Before matters grow unmanageable, her parents call her away to be with them. They introduce a third party into the mix, turning her complicated love triangle into a convoluted square. She is both attracted to him and repulsed by his vile nature. Her emotions are a tangled mess, and her mind is trying to make a decision that will avoid a war. She ultimately takes action, thinking she will seal her fate, and that of her people. All these actions lead to a surprise ending, setting up an exciting beginning for book three.

Here is a truncated excerpt from Betrayal:

Cliff looked at me as though I had betrayed him. If he thought that was bad, I dreaded his reaction to the news that was yet to come…

I was afraid to look at Cliff, but knew that I had to. He looked furious. I’d never seen him so angry. Not even after I told him that I’d kissed Tanner. I thought he might hurt someone. He glared at me.

Did you know about the true meaning of the Sonnast? I gulped. I found out when I was in Europe. Like I said, I only want you…

In The Transformed Series, Claflin created a world in Deception that has expanded in Betrayal. The characters are growing and maturing, and in addition to that, we are being introduced to not only new characters but new species of characters. We are being taken out of the main character’s hometown and exploring other areas of the world, all of which are in this realm, but some of which are magical and extraordinary. The whole lexicon is expanding and shifting, creating a rich and diverse mythology that is setting up an epic battle in the third book. The plot of this book, like the first one, is self-contained, but there is a cliff-hanger ending leading into the next installment. I can’t wait to see what happens, and this isn’t even my preferred genre.

There were a few typos, but those are easily overlooked, because you’ll be absorbed in the action. Fans of YA Paranormal Romance will want to read this series.

What Inspires You?

FamilyI had planned on spending today’s post talking about contract terms. I recently signed a contract and thought it might be nice to go over some of the terminology that writers might find confusing. But earlier this week my parents-in-law were visiting, so I couldn’t write ahead of schedule, and the day I set actually set aside for blog-writing was spent visiting my niece. She stopped here on her way across the country. She just graduated from specialized training in the US Navy and has a three week leave before her next assignment begins, so she’s going home for a visit, and we were a pit stop along the way. I’m sorry, but visiting my niece/godchild takes precedent over defining contract terms, particularly when I haven’t seen her in a year and a half.

These visits got me thinking about the importance of family and its impact in my writing. The novels that I’m working on right now—the one under contract and the series I’m pitching to an agent—both have characters with strong family ties.

The contracted piece deals with two twins who have lost their parents and only have each other. Forget about the “twin bond,” these two have forged a relationship that’s thick and tight. If the adage is true that blood is thicker than water, remember—they’re the only blood each other has left.

For the series I’m working on, I relied more on my heritage. It deals with four
Italian-American sisters for whom family is everything even before tragedy strikes their lives. And when it all hits the fan, those bonds are there, not to be tested, but to bear each other up.

So it’s pretty clear to me that my own life relationships pretty clearly shape my fiction. That isn’t to say that if my sister makes me angry she’s going to end up being a shrew in my next book, or if my dad buys me a car he’s going to be written in as a handsome billionaire (hint, hint; wink, wink; nudge, nudge). But it does mean that things in my life that touch me are reflected in the things that I write.

What about the things that are important to you? What things touch you, and do they make it into your writing in some manner? Tell us about your writing in the comments.

How to Break into Indie Publishing… One Woman’s Journey

Janna HillIn my last post of 2012, “The Year in Review,” fellow author and blogger Janna Hill commented that 2012 was a journey for her because it was her first year as an indie author. You know me, I’m always interested in hearing about someone else’s path. I immediately asked her if she’d share her story with me (and you). Despite being sick with the flu, she took a few minutes to answer some questions about her road to independent publishing.

You’re blog’s main focus is photography. Can you talk about how you became a writer? 

Whew! I thought you were going to ask me to talk about photography. How I became a writer requires digging into the memory archives. Let’s see… like most writers I have always written although I was probably 22 years old before I wrote anything for the ‘public’ eye. My debut came as a spoof; an unsolicited parody I had written of (yes of not for) the hospital newsletter. My coworkers were amused and my supervisor told me I had missed my calling. That moment in time mingled with the encouragement of my aunt, my mother and a few others who encouraged me to venture into the world of writing. After winning a few minor contests and several honorable mentions in essays, short stories and poetry, I started submitting on-topic articles to various magazines and newspapers. Somewhere along the way I became a ghostwriter. Ghostwriting served me well for many years, mainly because I lacked self-confidence and courage. When I reached the age of 50, I had an epiphany and I called myself a writer. Getting older has its rewards.

Can you briefly explain what “indie publishing” is for my novice readers? 

Sure. Indie is short for independent. Being an indie author, an indie publisher, or both pretty much just means you are on your own. It’s your baby and you are a single parent.

I saw on your website that you have several titles published already. When did you decide to stop publishing the traditional way and go the indie route?

I wrestled with the notion throughout 2011; by January 2012 it was decided.

Why?

For a number of reasons. The support system in traditional publishing is not what it once was. Authors are expected to do more and receive less. Those reasons, coupled with the fact that most of my work was to someone else’s credit; I was tired of being a ghost and realized the break I was waiting for was going to break me. I was waiting for a bus that would never come.

How does the indie path differ from the traditional path? 

The traditional path offers you a sense of stability; editing and design come stamped with a recognized seal. Indie means you will have to hire out any service you can’t do for yourself and you’re an unknown brand. People are leery of unknown brands.

In what ways was your indie path better? 

It has given me the freedom to be me.

In what ways was it harder?

In every way imaginable. Finding (and keeping) a quality editor/proofreader/critique panel was a real challenge.

Is there anything that you’d do differently now that you have some experience under your belt? 

Yes. I think I would’ve transitioned a little slower and maybe (just maybe) held my tongue a little tighter.

Can you offer any advice to aspiring or established authors regarding indie publishing?

Be ready to hit the ground running and have all of your ducks in a row. Don’t be overanxious. To paraphrase my favorite editor: “A bad reputation is harder to recover from than no reputation at all.” And lastly, when you’re certain that your product is ready for market, have your marketing strategy ready before its release.

A giant, heartfelt thanks goes out to Janna, who took the time to answer these questions, without the promised refreshments. The next time you’re in my neck of the woods, Janna, dinner and drinks are on me.

Janna is a wife, mother and grandmother born and raised in Texas where she still happily resides. She’s a licensed nurse and now calls herself an independent author—she writes adult literary fiction and poetry. Her characters are usually from the south because that’s where her heart resides. Her photography and blog can be found at http://jannahill.wordpress.com/, and her website, http://www.jannahill.net/, has links to all her published works. I encourage you to check them out.

It’s NaNoEditMo—Five Ways to be Sure You’re Successful This Editcember

editingCongratulations to those of you who earned win badges from NaNoWriMo. Hitting the 50,000 word mark is an accomplishment for anyone; doing it in thirty days is a highlight few will ever be able to say they managed to hit. Now what? It’s easy to coast on a sugar cookie high (who wouldn’t want to do that?) and immerse yourself in holiday shopping and tree-trimming, but beware… before you know it January will have rolled around, new year resolutions will have begun (and possibly ended just as quickly), and the manuscript you toiled over before Thanksgiving will be a forgotten bunch of words—a sad little file taking up space on your laptop or flash drive.

Doesn’t your effort and time deserve better?

Doesn’t your story deserve a chance to be heard?

Unless you’re some kind of genius who managed to knock out such a brilliant rough draft in the first go round that it’s beyond the need for revision and polish, that NaNo treasure is just waiting for you to open it up and show it some love. If you were a pantser during November, you may have more work ahead of you than the plotters who went into the challenger with a roadmap, but with a little TLC and a lot of work, chances are you can shape your manuscript into a real gem.

1)      Reread the novel.
I know, it seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many people try to start editing on page one without having taken a pass at the document. Your fingers were typing at the speed of, well, not light, but they were typing really fast. And you haven’t looked at your draft in over a month. It’s likely that you’ve forgotten some things that are in there, especially if you were a pantser or if you veered far from your outline. Give the manuscript a quick once-over, just to re-familiarize yourself with its contents.

2)      Consider goals and conflicts for your main characters
Each character in your story has to have motivation for every action. Do you know what those motivations are? If you have scenes where you noticed your characters doing something you consider odd, or your story veers off in a strange direction, or the pace just lags, it’s probably because the motivation wasn’t logical, or the character wasn’t acting toward his or her goal, or there wasn’t any conflict in the scene (and we all know the only scenes that are interesting are the ones that build conflict). Make notes for yourself in the manuscript to revisit these passages and correct the problems accordingly.

3)      Check your scenes for content and structure
Make sure you have each scene written as tightly as possible. Did you stay in the correct tense and point of view? Did you really establish the character’s voice, in both dialogue and internalization? Is the scene building conflict and is there good pace in the scene (rising and falling action)? Do you start with a hook and end with a cliffhanger of some sort to keep the reader turning the pages? If the answer to any of these questions is no, go back and see how you can correct the problem. It might be as simple as rewriting a few passages of dialogue or as difficult as redoing whole sections of text, but the end result will be worth it.

4)      Look at individual passages for weak writing
Now that the big issues are dealt with, look for places to spice things up. Add details to make the novel more rich and realistic. Are there places where the dialogue can be tweaked to sound more authentic? Can the setting be described better, or have you neglected to describe it at all? Are there places where you did too much telling, where you can add a scene to show the characters interacting and reveal more about them or their motives? Perhaps there are places where some foreshadowing can be subtly added, or conversely there may be times when you’ve done too much of these things and you need to know when to cut back.

5)      Polish the manuscript
The final step in revising your novel is to dot the I’s and cross the T’s. Almost literally. Proofread the document. Look for any repetitive words, fragments or run-on sentences. Spell-check and grammar check the document. Find and correct any typos or passages with poor writing technique. This is your last chance to shine. Take advantage of it.

So you did it. You completed NaNoWriMo. Do you have what it takes to edit your novel? If you can write an entire book in thirty days, squeeze in a national holiday, and still manage to function in society, I have every confidence in you. Plus, writers are awesome. We support each other. If you don’t already have a critique group, find one, in person or online, to offer advice or just a hug while you go through the process. And I’m always here for you.

You wrote your draft. That was the easy part. Now you need to make it shine. That’s the hard part. But you can do it. And there are millions of readers out here who want to read it. Get busy editing. We’re waiting.

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