Monday, July 25, 2016

Multiple POV Disorder

View of sea and palm trees through lens

In my previous post, I spoke about the difficulty in choosing the tense in your manuscript. Are you writing in First Person Present Tense or do you prefer Third Person Past Tense? 

At the end of the day, I choose First Person Past Tense for my current project. I gave myself a little fist pump when I made that decision - ONE DOWN!

So I wrote a few chapters in FP-PT for my main protagonist. Things were going well. My critique group seemed to enjoy it. But then I thought, to make this project more robust, I wanted to include FP-PT not only for my main protagonist but also one other main character and the antagonist. Should be easy right? Well, not so much. 

The following aren't a list of items that should be done just because you plan to write from multiple POVs, but these things become even more important if you decide to move in that direction. The reason mainly is that each character has to be as robust as your protagonist. So think about:

Comic Strip With a Guy on an Island and a Guy on a Boat
1) Why are you writing in different POVs?

2) What does it add to the story?

3) Does the character's POV move the story along?

4) What does the character want?

5) Is the character only there to support to main protagonist's storyline? (Answer: they should not.)

The fifth item on the list is an important one. When moving the story along through the eyes of another character, that character needs to have their own motivations and driving force. They can't be a wood pillar simply to add colour to the main character's story. If so, then these chapters will lack conflict and tension and there will be no need for you to have written from another POV in the first place. 

So how many POVs do you have in your manuscript? 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Author Claire Luana talks path to pub + small press vs. traditional publishing + a chance to win a copy of MOONBURNER and a $50 Amazon gift card!

Hi Everyone!  I'm excited to bring you another successful author chat, this time with MOONBURNER author Claire Luana who's hear to tell us about her publishing journey and her thoughts on Small Presses vs. Self Publishing vs. Traditional publishing routes. Make sure to scroll to the bottom of this post for a chance to win your own copy of Moonburner AND a $50 Amazon gift card.

Guest Post by Author Claire Luana

Two years ago, when my husband and I were on our honeymoon, we talked about what we would do for a living if we could pick any job in the world. I realized that I would choose to be a fiction writer. And you don’t get there without trying! So I started writing.

I worked for several months outlining a trilogy of novels. But every time I started writing, I got stuck. I had another idea hanging around in the back of my mind and I decided to give into it. Within about 10 minutes I had a one-page outline of the plot and the title for Moonburner. I was off and running. I think it’s really true what they say about the muse striking you!

My inspiration for Moonburner was loosely based on China's One Child policy, which led to generations of Chinese families choosing to have boys over girls. It made me think: what would happen in a world where families didn't want girls because those girls had some magical ability that was forbidden? This led to the premise of Moonburner, where Kai, the main character, is born into a land where magic is forbidden to women, and she is forced to masquerade as a boy to hide her powers. This inspiration is also why I set Moonburner in a world with more of a medieval Asian influence, rather than the typical European fantasy world readers are used to.

I wrote Moonburner in about three months, and took another six months to edit it. There were a lot of challenges along the way. I did a lot of googling. What is a story arc? Ok, I figured that out. Now, how to write a good character? And so on. I especially found editing to be challenging. I had never tackled writing something of this scope before (Moonburner is 95,000 words), and I had a hard time figuring out how to keep all those plot threads straight in my head. There was a lot of trial and error, but ultimately, I settled into a groove.

After I completed editing and went through the beta reading process, I thought a lot about how to publish. I chose to go the indie/small press route for a couple of reasons. The main reason I didn’t try to get traditionally published is because I am impatient. I didn't want to wait years to get an agent, then more years to find a publisher, with no actual promise of either. The main reason I didn’t self publish is because I don’t have a lot of time (I also work full time as a lawyer). I didn’t want to learn how to do all the technical stuff that goes along with self publishing (formatting, getting set up on various platforms, finding your cover designer, etc). So, I felt that trying to find a small press that didn’t require submissions from an agent would be the way to go. I queried about 10 publishers over the course of two months, and got a bite from Christopher Matthews Publishing. (If you’re interested in the pros/cons of the various publishing routes, check out a blog post I wrote on the subject when I was in the thick of my decision-making process!

Moonburner was published through Soul Fire Press, a division of Christopher Matthews Publishing. CMP and Soul Fire are hybrid publishers. Hybrid publishers differ from a traditional or indie publisher in that the author makes an up-front monetary investment in the book. But, hybrid publishers also differ from vanity presses or self-publishing companies in that they do not accept every book submitted to them. They curate their material and only publish what they think is worthwhile.

This model was exactly what I was looking for. I got the nice ego-stroking of someone saying "this is good," (hey, you totally need that as a first-time author!) and I didn't have to spend the time to hire all my own freelancers and figure out the self-publishing process.

I have enjoyed every step of this journey to becoming a published author. But it is a LOT OF WORK. I definitely have two jobs. It’s not all sitting in stylish coffee shops with sleek Moleskine notebooks penning effortless prose. A lot of the time it’s dragging yourself to the laptop after a long day of work while you’re longingly looking at your husband cuddling with the dogs on the couch. It IS worth it, but I have to constantly remind myself to take a long-term outlook. If I had any advice for aspiring authors, it would be to remember the great line from He’s Just Not that Into You: “We’re not the exception. We’re the rule.”

I’ll explain. Every aspiring author wants to be JK Rowling, going from penniless writer in an Edinburgh coffee house to worldwide billion dollar success. I know I certainly do! But she’s the exception, not the rule. For every JK Rowling, there are thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of authors publishing great books slowly growing a fan base over a span of years. Those authors are the rule. I am the rule, not the exception. This mantra has helped me take a long-term viewpoint and approach to my writing. We are an instant gratification society, and it's easy to get discouraged when you don't see instant results or success. But if you truly want to be a writer, you can’t get discouraged. You have keep at it. Learn how to do it better. There is no special sauce, only hard work. So do the work, and little by little, you'll get there.

About Moonburner

When 17-year old Kai is exposed as a female sorceress—a moonburner, she knows the punishment is death. Despite the odds against her, Kai escapes her fate and undertakes a harrowing journey to a land where moonburners are revered and trained as warriors.

But the moonburner citadel is not the place of refuge and learning that Kai imagined. The ongoing war against the male sorcerers, or sunburners, has led the citadel leadership down a dark path that could spell the end of all magic. Armed with a secret from her past and a handsome but dangerous ally in the sunburner prince, Kai may be the only one able to prevent the destruction of her people.

About Claire Luana

 Claire Luana grew up in Edmonds, Washington, reading everything she could get her hands on and writing every chance she could get. Eventually, adulthood won out and she turned her writing talents to more scholarly pursuits, graduating from University of Washington School of Law and going to work as a commercial litigation attorney at a mid-sized law firm.

While continuing to practice law, Claire decided to return to her roots and try her hand once again at creative writing. Her first novel, Moonburner, will be published in 2016 with Soul Fire Press, an imprint of Christopher Matthews Publishing. She is currently working on the sequel, Sunburner. In her (little) remaining spare time, she loves to hike, travel, run, play with her two dogs, and of course, fall into a good book.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Book Blitz! Enter to win a copy of BECAUSE I LOVE YOU and an Amazon gift card!

Hello all!  We are excited to host another book launch and giveaway, this time for BECAUSE I LOVE YOU, by Tori Rigby.  Make sure to scroll to the bottom of the post for a chance to win a copy of your own!

Eight weeks after sixteen-year-old Andie Hamilton gives her virginity to her best friend, “the stick” says she’s pregnant. Her friends treat her like she’s carrying the plague, her classmates torture and ridicule her, and the boy she thought loved her doesn’t even care. 
Afraid to experience the next seven months alone, she turns to her ex-boyfriend, Neil Donaghue, a dark-haired, blue-eyed player. With him, she finds comfort and the support she desperately needs to make the hardest decision of her life: whether or not to keep the baby. Then a tragic accident leads Andie to discover Neil’s keeping a secret that could dramatically alter their lives, and she's forced to make a choice. But after hearing her son’s heartbeat for the first time, she doesn’t know how she’ll ever be able to let go.
Because I Love You by Tori Rigby Release Date: May 17, 2016 Publisher: Blaze Publishing
What Readers Are Saying:
emotional and heartfelt read” – Laura H (The Voluptuous Book Diva)
one of the most amazing books I have ever read and a great contemporary read” – KittyKat (Goodreads Reviewer)
It's one of those books where everything worked really well together. The story. The characters. The relationships. And the writing. It was just so beautiful.” – Nicole (Bookish Thoughts)


Jodi squeezed my hand. “Do whatever you think is right. Your gut won’t lie. Mine sure didn’t, and look how you turned out.”

I smiled.

After a few more questions, like did I have any siblings—no—and where did my cousins live—just over the border into New Mexico—the guard announced our fifteen minutes were up. I fought the urge to cling to Jodi’s hand as she stood. I hadn’t spent nearly enough time with her.

“You write me. Let me know how you’re doing, ‘kay?”

I nodded, my mouth drying, and she backed out of the room with a wave. When the door from the visitation area to the cellblock closed, I covered my mouth, my chest hitching. Mom put her arm around my shoulders, and I leaned into her. I’d been so afraid that Jodi would have considered me a burden, that she would’ve hate me for ruining her life, like I originally loathed my baby for messing up mine. But that was so far from the reason she’d placed me for adoption.

“She had loved me, Mom,” I said, my voice shaking.

About the Author

Adopted at three-days-old by a construction worker and a stay at home mom, Tori Rigby grew up with her nose in a book and her fingers on piano keys, always awaiting the day she’d take her own adventure. Now, she goes on multiple journeys through her contemporary and historical romances. She longs to live in the Scottish Highlands, and her favorite place in history is Medieval England—she’d even give up her Internet and running water to go back in time! Tori also writes high-concept genre fiction as Vicki Leigh, and when she isn’t writing, she’s kicking butt in krav maga or attending classes to learn how to catch bad guys.


Complete the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win!


Monday, July 18, 2016

How to Do Your Research Before a Conference

One of my favorite events of the year is coming up this week—the Midwest Writer's Workshop! I've written about the things I love about this conference before, but I thought I'd talk about something different this year: what you should research beforehand.

Research, you might be saying? Why do I need to do research? The reason I'm going is to learn things, after all. But here's the truth: you will get so much more out of attending a writing conference or workshop if you take the time to get yourself properly oriented beforehand.

Here are some of the main areas that should be your focus:

1. Your Novel
This might sound strange, but one of the first things you should do is take a good, hard look at your own writing. Figure out what category (YA, MG, Children's, Adult, NA?) it fits into as well as what genre (sci-fi, memoir, romance, contemporary, etc.). 

I've been to nearly a dozen conferences now, and I've seen so many people wasting their time and the publishing professionals' time because they have no idea what they're writing. Usually this can be figured out with an hour's worth of Google searching.

If you're planning to go for the traditional publishing route and query your novel to agents soon, it's also a good idea to take the time to research query letters and take a stab at writing one of your own before the conference. Not only will you have something to give to anyone who asks the dreaded, "So what are you writing?" question, but you'll also have a starting point if you're attending any sessions or workshops on query writing.

2. The Publishing Professionals Attending
This is a big one. Take the time to find out everything you can about the agents, editors, and other publishing professionals who will be at the conference. This will enable you to pick the right ones to pitch to if that opportunity is offered—don't waste their time and yours by pitching your adult memoir to an agent who only does YA!

I always start with the person's official website, if they have one. Then you can move on to their Publisher's Marketplace page, social media accounts, and interviews around the web. Try searching for things like "agent name interview" to find these.

3. Conference Etiquette
Finally, make sure you know what kinds of things are and aren't acceptable at writer's conferences so you don't make the wrong impression. I did a whole separate post about this a few years ago that covers the basics.

If you do your research beforehand, I guarantee that your conference experience will go more smoothly. And now, if you'll excuse me, I have some agent interviews to read....

Monday, July 11, 2016

Tales from the Trails - Keeping It Real - Setting

Okay, by now you probably know that too much or too little setting detail can frustrate readers.  So how can you make the biggest punch by using the fewest words?

Come on, you know what I'm going to say . . . . Keep it real, man!  If possible, go to the locations of your various settings and just observe.  Jot down notes about what you see, hear, smell, taste, and touch.  Remember to use as many of those five glorious senses as possible.  I promise it'll help bring your writing alive!

Bonus points if the location is a really fun place to be - like in the mountains!

Now for me, after this trip, I  will have all kinds of great ideas about sounds, smells, and sight. One my three days into the woods with the hikers, I was rained on, saw a fox, and camped by a waterfall. So yeah, I got some good ideas about sight, smell, and sounds.   Touch and especially taste are going to be harder to come by.  You try eating trail food for several days.  It's fun for a day hike, but you get bored of it quick.  Thank goodness for trail angels (like me) who make deliveries!

And in case you are wondering, I got my trail name - One Match.  Why One Match?  I can start fires with only one match.  So yes, I was the official fire maker and tender of the group.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Keeping It Real - Tales From the Trails - Fears

Everyone has fears, right?!  Of course they do.  And sometimes those fears can get in the way of things we like. Then again sometimes we can work around our fears and still do things we like.  Take me for example.  I'm not a fan of snakes or heights, but I will still pet a python or hike a trail with a steep slope or even drop off.  Some might say that's not a real fear then.  Okay, whatever.

What about our characters?  Should they have fears?  Of course.  Well, then how much?  Good question.  I guess that depends on your character and your story.  What do I then?   I like talking with my friends to get ideas of fears to use for my characters that way I can really experience the fear, but the internet also has good ideas.

I will even use my own experiences because that helps me to keep it real.  The other day while hiking I had to take the lead.  Not my favorite spot.  I don't like snakes.  Well, Murphy's Law happened (anything that can go wrong, will go wrong) and I saw a snake, but not just any snake, a snake that had been chopped up by another hiker.  YUCK!  Now I have that image in my mind and if I ever need to write about something like that I can. Not sure I want to, but I can.

Still, personal experiences or second-hand experiences from friends are good jumping off places, but for additional layers of the driving factor behind fear check out these sites: