1 Step Forward, 2 Steps Back…

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Anyone who has been following my journey probably knows that I recently finished my first draft of Book #3 in the Power of Four Series. I’m extremely excited not only about where the story ended, but also about my continued growth as a writer. I’ve dedicated the last year and a half to building my author platform and learning all I can about improving my craft. I believe my focus has everything to do with where I am today, versus the place I started back in 2014. I’ve been thinking a lot about the plot in the story I’m telling and have reviewed the first three books in the series to find all the questions that need to be answered in book four. What this process has made me realize is that before I take another step forward, I should really consider taking two steps back.

Sea of Dreams was my debut novel, and while there is a laundry list of reasons why I wouldn’t suggest taking on a series as a new writer, I am glad I went that route for my particular journey, especially at my age. Writing about the same characters and an overall plot that spans the length of 4 books, allows me to concentrate more on my technique and less on the story, since the characters have already been developed, been given personalities and their settings have been mapped out. I am able to pull familiar characters on like a favorite sweater and practice things like accents in conversation, concise description and overall tone. For every comment I received from critique partners, beta readers and my editor, I have made adjustments in my style, which has allowed me to find my true author voice, while creating a world I find pretty darn interesting! And since I only release one book a year, so far, they really show a timeline of my progress.

So what does this mean for my followers? It means that my series has gone from 4 books…to 5! I have decided to draft a prequel to make sense of the backstory for the sisters who teeter between helping and hindering the ladies who harness the elements. As I wrote Playing with Fire, I realized that the story of how Erebos became the Shadowman, and the part the three sisters had to play in that happening, was a story that needed to be told. In telling it, I will make better sense in my own mind of everyone’s motivation and will be able to complete the series tying up every loose end I have left in previous books. At least that’s the plan. I am also considering going back to Sea of Dreams and applying what I have learned over the last 2 years to tighten up the language, but that won’t be until I get the series out of my system. As much as I would like to see this series completed in 2018, I’m not sure I will have the oomph to get a 40,000 word prequel and a 90,000 word first draft completed by December. However, I’ve decided I need to keep pushing myself to see what I am capable of, so am going to give it the old college try!

So the one step forward? I’ll participate more with groups that specifically write Romance and continue to make writing my priority. I am excited to go to the National Romance Writers of America Conference this year for the first time! (More posts to follow on that!) And the two steps back? Because time is limited and I want to write a prequel before the final book in my series, I’ve decided to back off of doing book festivals, spend a little less time on social media and prioritize my projects. Scheduling chunks of time to complete specific tasks will help me manage my time better and allow me to fit in things like spending more time with my family or working in my personal fitness goals.

There is no shame in taking 2 steps back as it allows me to take a breather and look at my overall writing journey objectively.  I am in this for the long haul, so I need to be sure that I am always “adjusting fire” as Aleck would say, and making time for the things that will support the life I envision for myself 5 or even 10 years up the road. There is always stuff that can be cut, like so many of the lines I start with in a rough draft. The process will make room for the beautifully edited version of my life, supported by the things I choose to focus on throughout my journey.

What kinds of things are you trying to squeeze into your life? And what things are you hanging on to that could be reduced or given up? Definitely something to think about, don’t you think?

 

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Subject Matter Experts…and why you need one!

Firefighters

So you decide to write a book and the main character is going to be a Firefighter because you’ve always thought it was an exciting occupation. Before you let your fingers do the walking through your search engine, you will want to consider contacting someone who knows something about fighting fires. What you need is a Subject Matter Expert.

It’s fiction, you say, what the heck do I need one of those for when I can just make stuff up? Well, do what you want, it’s your funeral – I mean book. But in my opinion even fiction writers need to weave believable elements throughout their plot. Here’s why:

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  • Realistic elements connect the reader to the story – If I am reading the story, and I can buy into what the characters are doing and why they are doing it, I am much more likely to stay engaged. Even if I am not familiar with a particular subject or occupation, I can still sense when something is a stretch as far as the realism goes. There is nothing wrong with putting a twist on things, just be sure that you have the answers in place to explain the differences between what is commonly known, and the reality you write. This is the absolute best quote to sum up this idea: “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” ~ Pablo Picasso
  • Unless you’ve done it, you need someone else’s input – I haven’t fought fires and I have no idea what it involves or how someone would react if put in that situation. In order to make the scenes as realistic as possible, input from someone who has actually done whatever it is you are writing about is imperative. At the very least, an email to someone who is in the field might suit your need. I wouldn’t have known unless I had asked, that firefighters went in by twos, that they were in constant contact via their radio, or what it feels like to be in 100 pounds of gear when entering a burning building. Get into the research, it’s fun learning about careers you might not otherwise have considered.
  • Someone who does what you are writing about is bound to read your book – And then watch out! They won’t have anything kind to say if you don’t get it right. They might overlook a slight error here and there, but they will definitely be able to tell if you didn’t ask any questions. There are some jobs that have security limitations, but even those organizations have staff members in place to respond to media inquiries. A simple email with your questions, especially if you explain that you are a writer and provide links to your work, can go a long way. While I couldn’t get specific answers regarding the duties of an Air Marshal, the gentleman in charge was nice enough to answer what he could, which gave me enough direction to make the scene credible.
  • It shows you take pride in your work – A well researched book shows that the writer is taking his job seriously. That it is important to him (or her) that the story be told in the best way possible. I appreciate that as a reader, so want to be sure as writer I am doing as much as I can to make that happen. I realize that magic isn’t real, that the elements can’t be controlled, but I want to write in such a way that by the time the reader finishes my story, they embrace the impossible. The most fun you can have with a book is imagining the “what if,” and I believe understanding the “hows” will help you explain the “whys” in a beautiful and realistic way.

If you are looking for information on various occupations, start local and go from there. Chances are most of your questions can be answered by your local Emergency Responders, Public Officials or Business Owners. You can also reach out to the personnel in charge of responding to media requests, or go onto blogs through writing groups and ask other authors who have used that occupation for characters they have written. I have found that most writers are more than happy to share their knowledge or at least get you heading in the right direction.

Give yourself enough time to use Subject Matter Experts when writing your book, as waiting for responses can delay you from completing your edits or even making your publishing deadline. If possible, contact more than one source for answers to your questions.

Speaking to a Subject Matter Expert can provide you with small details that can make a huge impact on your story. When incorporated correctly the scene should be not only seamless, but the information contained in it should ring true. A well crafted scene with realistic details is where the real magic lies. Now if you will excuse me, I need to find some experts in the medical field…I have some healing that needs to happen in Book #4!

Other articles on Subject Matter Experts/Research:

https://www.editing-writing.com/making-fiction-feel-real/

https://writersedit.com/fiction-writing/top-7-tips-researching-novel/

https://www.freelancewriting.com/feature-articles/subject-matter-experts/

Thank you so much to all Emergency Responders for your hard work and dedication. Your efforts are truly appreciated!  Safe journeys to you all…

 

 

 

Post Share: Why has the sweetest goddess in the world been forgotten? — Mimi Jean Pamfiloff

The answer is simple: It’s her job! But after seventy thousand years, The Goddess of Forgetfulness has come to terms with an existence that’s practically invisible. Yes, she secretly wishes she’d find someone special, but she’s not getting her hopes up. Cue immortal plague. For reasons unbeknownst to the gods, unmated immortals are changing one…

via Why has the sweetest goddess in the world been forgotten? — Mimi Jean Pamfiloff

Amazing writing podcasts to check out!

When I started my writing journey, I had no idea what would be involved. For any of you who have been doing this a while, you know exactly what I mean. For those of you who are just starting out, it is my hope that my posts can help give you insight, direction or at the very least a laugh or two.

Early on in the process, and just after I purchased my very first smart phone, I stumbled across some writing podcasts that I have found extremely helpful. I tend to listen to them during the non-writing times in my life: driving in the car, folding laundry, even while I am getting ready in the morning. I would like to share the ones I have received the most value from and highly recommend you check them out!

Sell More Books ShowSell more books show logo – Bryan and Jim give great insight on the current trends and high-lights from other shows, articles and posts in the industry. Their show is typically about an hour, but is set up in a way that squeezes a lot of information in a very short time. I have gotten a lot out of listening to this podcast as pertains to marketing, publishing, other authors/podcasts/websites to check out, and the ever-changing Amazon environment.

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#Twitter Smarter – Madalyn Sklar packs a ton of great tips on optimizing your use of Twitter in her 10 minute segments! She has her finger on the pulse of everything Twitter, and explains things in simple terms so even a newbie can gain a better understanding of the tools available. I have gotten some great direction from this show, and have found some tools that I would have never known existed without listening to her podcast.

Creative Penn LogoThe Creative Penn – I can’t say enough about Joanna Penn’s podcast! I am so glad I found it, I have learned so much from her and her amazing guests! She has an uplifting personality, has been in the business long enough to talk about the changes in the industry and make educated predictions for the future of Indie Publishing. She has published both Fiction and Non-Fiction, which makes her a well-rounded host and her guests have been truly inspirational. Her podcasts do run closer to an hour, but they are filled with a wealth of information you won’t want to miss! She lives in the UK, so for authors planning on selling in overseas markets, you will definitely want to check her out!

Buffer logoThe Science of Social Media – Buffer really squeezes a lot of information on marketing tips and things to check out in less than 15 minutes. They have suggested multiple books, websites and tools which helped me understand how marketing works, and have directed me to the best social media tools to consider in my overall marketing plan. This podcast covers everything marketing, but the concepts are easily converted to my needs as an author. They also have an amazing scheduling tool that is well worth checking out!

If you are looking to level up your author business, I highly recommend checking these podcasts out. And, if you have a podcast that you listen to (or host) that you feel is particularly helpful for writing, publishing, marketing for Indie or Traditional authors, please leave it in the comments below. I would love to check out what you are listening to!

Happy writing!

 

 

 

Post Share: A Day in Provence with Carol Drinkwater — Books in my Handbag Blog

Carol at home, at the olive farm, in the gardenHaving parked the car, in Tourrettes sur Loup, I grabbed my multi-coloured handbag and huge sunglasses. Carol Drinkwater had spotted the frantic tourist trying to manoeuvre the oversized BMW, and waved at me from the other side of the road. She was dressed in jeans and…

via A Day in Provence with Carol Drinkwater — Books in my Handbag Blog