What do readers want anyway?  They want a spell-binding story that really draws them in and they devour each page—at the end they are left wanting to read more about your characters.  Sounds like a tall order but it is possible.  Think of some awesome books you’ve read that have kept your attention and you didn’t want the story to end.

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Let’s break down what are some key ingredients to a spell-binding novel.  First of all you need compelling, believable characters.  Your readers need to relate to these characters and if they don’t get to know them, they can’t relate.  How do readers get to know your characters well enough to relate to them?  You need to write well rounded characters.  Dive deep into their point of view as you write their story.  Never head hop in scenes and make sure that you allow your readers to fully embrace who these characters are. 

For example, stay away from passive voice and utilize active voice.  What sounds better to you?

She was running away from him.

Or

Her heart pounded rapidly and the hair on the nape of her neck stood up as she ran from the intruder.

When your characters are going through an emotional struggle, how do you portray that?  You’ve heard the saying, show don’t tell, well it is extremely important to let your readers in on what is going on in your character’s mind.  When writing a scene, you must only write from his or her perspective.  For example, what does your character see, hear, taste, smell or feel.  In one scene, you cannot jump from two different characters’ points of view.  It confuses readers and does not make for a complete picture of who your character really is. 

What sounds better to you?

Someone approached his desk but he focused on the file in his hands.  When he glanced up, he saw her standing in front of him. 

Or

Marc Abrams heard the clicking of heels approach his desk, but he ignored the intrusion and focused on the file in his hands—until he smelled the familiar scent of jasmine and roses.  Not wanting to get his hopes up, he glanced over and there she stood.  She looked like a tall drink of water in the desert, with her slender physique and shiny hair and piercing eyes.

The first section tells what happens but doesn’t let the reader experience what Marc experienced.  When you read the second section, you are right there with Marc as he heard someone approach and then smelled her perfume.  You feel his excitement, hoping it’s her. Then you get to see how much this person affects him. 

Telling a good story is also about writing compelling, believable dialogue.  You need to write how the character would actually speak.  Not everyone speaks in correct English.  Make your dialogue become a work of art. 

(This is an excerpt from, Bella Lucia.)

She smiled.  “You know, you always make me feel better.”

            He raised his eyebrows.  “Really, because that’s not the impression I’ve gotten from our last few encounters.  I thought you couldn’t stand me.”

            “You’ve grown on me.”

            That brought uproarious laughter from him and his nervousness eased up a little.  “Oh, like a fungus, easy to get and hard to get rid of—those words hurt, you know.”

            The way she scrunched up her nose, endeared her further to him.  “You remembered that, huh?”

            “It’s not every day that a woman calls me a fungus!”

            “You’re not like a fungus, just a little annoying at first.”

            They settled down on the rock wall in front of the police station.  “Ok, I can deal with that.  I know my partner thinks I’m annoying too, but he has his own issues.”

            “Don’t we all?”  The distracted look came over her face again and he took serious note of it.  Before he could ask what was on her mind, she shared her concerns.  “I think my boss is keeping something from me.”

Remember to also keep your facts straight.  Do your research.  Readers don’t like to read a book that is full of mistakes.  Don’t repeat the same word a lot in your paragraphs.  Just try to remember all of these rules to make your story come alive and have fun.  Write and write and write and then don’t put editing on the backburner.  Editing is essential to putting your best work out there. 

What is one of the best books you’ve read lately?


If you don’t jump at the chance some opportunities present—then you miss out on a world of possibilities. Gold Rush

 
 
Many people dream about becoming a published writer, but not everyone realizes those dreams because of lack of perseverance and the necessary discipline to find success. The writers, who succeed, are the ones who have a plan, cultivate discipline and keep persevering no matter what obstacles come into their pathway. Have you wondered how to make the transition from part-time freelance writer to full-time writer? 

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Your journey should begin with creating a plan and mapping out your strategy. The best solution to your problem of finding more work as a freelancer is to worker smarter, not harder. Don’t waste your valuable time by squandering it on useless, methods that don’t work. What’s working for you now? Have you gotten some freelance assignments already? If something is working, then stick with it. Never put your eggs all in one basket, though. You never know when one writing well will run dry, so be open to other options to bring you writing jobs.

As you are mapping out your strategy, research skills will come into play. Don’t just jump at the first “opportunity” which comes your way. In the long run, a few extra hours doing your research to ascertain the validity of an opportunity, will pay off. No one wants to be scammed, so thoroughly research the freelance writing opportunities you’ve found and be on the alert for scams.

Some of the online sites you can check into for freelance writing jobs include:  Zemandi, oDesk, Proficient Writers, Interact Media, Elance, Jobs at Constant Contact. Now, there are many copy writers looking for jobs online these days so things are much different than years before the Internet began. In the old days, a copywriter was more in demand because not as many writers were available for these types of copywriting jobs—hence, these copywriters were paid better than most copywriters today. Many of the jobs you will find online don’t pay much per article; however, if you start with some of those sites, and do your research, you’ll eventually find other sites which pay more.

For example, the Proficient Writers site works with writers who have a college degree and there is a more rigorous evaluation period of your work and credentials. Other sites, like Zemandi, review a sample of your work, but you don’t need a college degree to become one of their writers. The oDesk site also offers more than just freelance writing jobs. You can find marketing assignments, virtual office assistant projects and also IT projects. There are some sites which offer higher paying freelance writing assignments; however, some of those sites require a membership fee or bidding per project fee. Make sure to do your research before you proceed.

You can also find more jobs the old fashioned way by connecting with a business who is looking for copywriting help, but does not want to pay a full-time, in-house employee and all the benefits that employee would receive. You can begin sending your resume out to these businesses, but that is more of a cold-inquire approach and may not reap the benefits you’re looking for. Try to check out ads on Craigslist or other places where businesses or individuals are seeking freelance writers for projects. I have received several new clients for my business this way and am currently working on two book projects—one for public relations and one for editing / re-writing.

I did also try the cold-inquire approach and sent my resume into over ten different local businesses and actually did find my very first marketing client that way. I’ve been doing freelance writing and public relations for this client for about four years now. Working on that initial project has branched out into working on several different projects for this client and I eventually was able to work full-time from home and started my own marketing company, Mustard Seed Marketing Group, LLC.

To succeed in your freelance writing dreams, it takes a drive to beat all the odds and if you love writing, don’t give up even when the road gets tough. Make a plan, be disciplined and work hard at achieving success.  

  


 
 
The most important task for a writer is to keep writing books. Sounds simple but most often is not so cut and dry. Life gets in the way—you have to continually work on marketing your previous books and branding your name, among other daily tasks. How do you keep the creative juices flowing? Write every day. 

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“It is by sitting down to write every morning that one becomes a writer. Those who do not do this remain amateur.” (Gerald Brenan)

“I write when I’m inspired and I see to it that I’m inspired at 9 o’clock every morning.” (Peter DeVries)

Now, for the record, I slack off many days and don’t always keep up with my newest WIP. As I mentioned, daily tasks, the day job, family and other things continually vie for my attention. It takes discipline to flex the writing muscle each day so let’s talk about some ways to make that happen.

1. Set goals. There are three types of goals—immediate, short-term and long-term. Once you figure out exactly where you want to be, the journey towards getting there becomes a little bit easier.

2. Make a decision. Decide to write each day—even if you only write in your journal, you need to flex your writing muscle every day. It’s how you grow as a writer and you don’t allow your skills to get stale.

3. Be Flexible & prepared. Obviously, there will be days that you don’t accomplish each writing goal that you set out to finish. Be open to stretching those writing muscles so you don’t pull a muscle by too much rigidity in your mindset—not allowing for failure. Forgive yourself when you don’t reach your goals, but then get your but back in gear for a new start the next day.

4. Deflect distractions. True, we won’t be able to rid ourselves of all distractions—unless of course, we decide to get stranded on a deserted island and write all day long…and even then, I think we’d find a way to distract ourselves! Set a specific time during the day where you can write and not be interrupted. If you write better in the morning, pick that time or in the evening etc., whatever works well for you.

5. Welcome accountability. This is the one factor that we may not like—however, it will most likely help us the most in our quest to finish the next great novel. Find an accountability partner. Maybe it will be your spouse or best friend or fellow writing buddy. Whoever it is, you need to find someone that you trust to be patient with you, but also give you that push you may need to get back on track.

6. Re-evaluate the plan. Don’t be afraid to reassess the situation—think of it as a necessary evil. Not many people like to get tested on performance, but if you truly want to succeed, you need to always be open to evaluating your progress. This process is hard for me, but I’ve learned to take a step back and assess the situation.

7. Regroup & continue. Once you’ve assessed the situation and realized what’s working and what isn’t, take a breather and then get back to work. Just as with exercise, when you stop for a while, it’s more difficult to get into the routine again—but once you get back on track, you feel rejuvenating and energized with your progress. If you’re flexible and ready to work hard, you’ll figure out your own rhythm and what works best for you.

Currently, I’m enjoying the release of my newest book, Bella Lucia, and I’m busy making the rounds in my blog tour; however, I need to remember to take my own advice and continue to flex the writing muscle each day. I’d love to hear your thoughts and what steps you’ve found helpful in your own writing career.


 
 
I remember when I was a novice writer and I had no idea what I was doing.  My journey has taken me a long way from those days, but I wanted to offer some advice for beginning writers.  

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Get an Idea Journal

I still have one to this day.  Did you ever think of some great idea and then forget about it later on because you forgot to write it down?  I keep my journal handy and write down new book ideas and keep adding them to the list because I never know when I’m going to need a new book idea.

Write Every Day

You’re never going to accomplish anything in the writing world unless you put pen or pencil to paper or start typing away.  I know it’s hard and many times life gets in the way, but if becoming a published author is a dream of yours, then you need to write every day.  Now, this includes any type of writing, whether you are working on your WIP (work in progress) or writing a blog or writing articles for publication or just writing in your journal.  Keep the creative juices flowing and write every day.

Set Goals for Yourself

If you don’t set goals, you will have a more difficult time succeeding as an author.  There are immediate, short-term and long-term goals.  Immediate goals are those that will be done right now, like writing every day.  Creating a story outline and developing your characters, then starting the manuscript.  Short-term goals are those goals that will be accomplished in the next 6 months to a year.  Will you finish that manuscript?  Do you know how to edit it yourself and then find a professional editor?  Where are you going to go to look for a publisher?  Long-term goals will happen in the next year and following.  Once you’ve signed your first publishing contract, where do you see yourself?  Will you start work on your next WIP?

Write First, Edit Later

Not everyone is the same when it comes to their own editing process, but let me share what has worked well for me.  I do some story outlining (not always as strict a process for every manuscript) and then begin to write, always keeping in mind, my four main rules of writing and I don’t do a complete edit until I finish the entire manuscript.  If I start editing as I go, I will get discouraged and may never finish what I’ve started.  Now that I’ve gotten my four rules down, I feel more confident about my writing and have been doing an initial edit after each section I write so I won’t have to do a big overhaul at the end. 

So what are my four rules of writing ~ No. 1, Keep your POV (Point of View) straight and don’t head hop.  No. 2, Write in the active and not the passive voice.  No. 3, Make your dialogue action-packed and not stale.  No. 4, Watch for repeated words in your paragraphs, like too many sentences starting with “she” or “he” or other words.

Find a Critique Group or Accountability Partner

You need to join a writers group or have some sort of critique group that you can belong to.  You must have support as you learn the writing craft and go on your journey toward publication.  I am currently a member of the Christian Writers online group and I also have an accountability partner, who is my husband.  He helps me by always encouraging me and making sure that I am working on my WIPs and completing them and continuing on in my writing career. 

Create an Online Presence

Even unpublished writers need a website.  You may not have a lot of content to fill up ten pages, but that doesn’t matter; you need to start somewhere.  There must be a place online where potential readers and publishers and book reviewers can go to find you and your future work.  Once you sign a publishing contract that is not the time to create a website.  You need to create one before then and you will always be evolving and changing as an author and so will your website.  I am currently using www.weebly.com and it’s very user friendly and it’s free

You need to also utilize Facebook and Twitter and other social networking sites.  I would hold off on starting a Facebook Fan Page until you have your first book published (you can have unlimited followers there).  In the meantime, I would begin with a regular Facebook profile (I think the limit is 5,000 friends).  Also work on your Twitter profile.  If you have questions on utilizing social networking as a marketing tool, feel free to contact me and I’ll give you more tips.

Keep on Reading and Learning

Good writers are avid readers.  I have always enjoyed reading and I still do today.  The problem is ~ finding a balance between writing and reading.  Once I get in a good writing groove, I sometimes put reading on the backburner.  However, that is okay since if you’re inspired in your writing, you should go for it.  I just need to remember to take a break sometimes and get back into reading as well.  Always be open to constructive criticism from editors, publishers and book reviewers.  Take the good with the bad and don’t let it stop you from achieving your dreams.

Follow other Published Authors

I’m a published author and I still follow other published authors.  By follow I mean on social networking sites as well as their blogs.  Other authors can be a great resource to you.  As you watch what others in your field are doing, you can emulate some of their tactics, process what is good for your goals and what isn’t and then stimulate your own ideas as a catalyst from that interaction. 

Research your Publishing Options

At some point, you are going to need to decide how you want to get published.  Will you self-publish through a subsidy publisher and pay your own way?  Will you self-publish on your own?  Will you try to get published through a small press or mid-level publisher?  Are you shooting for the stars and will you try to get in with a larger, traditional publisher? 

Many smaller presses accept unsolicited manuscripts and you don’t need an agent to get you in the door.  Check the Writer’s Market; it is a great resource towards finding a publisher.  I remember the days of paying for postage and the SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope) and snail mailing manuscripts or chapters 1-3 plus a summary out to various publishers.  I’m glad those days are over and you can submit online now (of course there are still some exceptions).  If you want more details on this, just email me.

If you chose an agent, you will need to obviously pay this person.  Some of them get paid only if they get you a publishing contract and others want money upfront.  I signed with an agent once, but I was stuck for six months and could not simultaneous submit my manuscript to publishers while their agency had it; and they never got my manuscript sold anyway.  I like to work on my own, so I don’t have an agent right now.  Once I make the bestseller list, I’m sure I’ll get an agent for promotion, then.  Lol!!     

Never Ever Give Up

If becoming a published author is truly your dream, then don’t ever let anything pull you down.  I received many rejection letters before I signed my first contract.  If you want to become a published author, it will take hard work and discipline, but also determination.  Keep the hope alive!


 
 
The most important task for a writer is to keep writing books. Sounds simple but most often is not so cut and dry. Life gets in the way—you have to continually work on marketing your previous books and branding your name, among other daily tasks. How do you keep the creative juices flowing? Write every day. 

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“It is by sitting down to write every morning that one becomes a writer. Those who do not do this remain amateur.” (Gerald Brenan)

“I write when I’m inspired and I see to it that I’m inspired at 9 o’clock every morning.” (Peter DeVries)

Now, for the record, I slack off many days and don’t always keep up with my newest WIP. As I mentioned, daily tasks, the day job, family and other things continually vie for my attention. It takes discipline to flex the writing muscle each day so let’s talk about some ways to make that happen.

  1. Set goals. There are three types of goals—immediate, short-term and long-term. Once you figure out exactly where you want to be, the journey towards getting there becomes a little bit easier.
  2. Make a decision. Decide to write each day—even if you only write in your journal, you need to flex your writing muscle every day. It’s how you grow as a writer and you don’t allow your skills to get stale.
  3. Be Flexible & prepared. Obviously, there will be days that you don’t accomplish each writing goal that you set out to finish. Be open to stretching those writing muscles so you don’t pull a muscle by too much rigidity in your mindset—not allowing for failure. Forgive yourself when you don’t reach your goals, but then get your but back in gear for a new start the next day.
  4. Deflect distractions. True, we won’t be able to rid ourselves of all distractions—unless of course, we decide to get stranded on a deserted island and write all day long…and even then, I think we’d find a way to distract ourselves! Set a specific time during the day where you can write and not be interrupted. If you write better in the morning, pick that time or in the evening etc., whatever works well for you.
  5. Welcome accountability. This is the one factor that we may not like—however, it will most likely help us the most in our quest to finish the next great novel. Find an accountability partner. Maybe it will be your spouse or best friend or fellow writing buddy. Whoever it is, you need to find someone that you trust to be patient with you, but also give you that push you may need to get back on track.
  6. Re-evaluate the plan. Don’t be afraid to reassess the situation—think of it as a necessary evil. Not many people like to get tested on performance, but if you truly want to succeed, you need to always be open to evaluating your progress. This process is hard for me, but I’ve learned to take a step back and assess the situation.
  7. Regroup & continue. Once you’ve assessed the situation and realized what’s working and what isn’t, take a breather and then get back to work. Just as with exercise, when you stop for a while, it’s more difficult to get into the routine again—but once you get back on track, you feel rejuvenating and energized with your progress. If you’re flexible and ready to work hard, you’ll figure out your own rhythm and what works best for you.
Currently, I’m enjoying the release of my newest book, Bella Lucia, and I’m busy making the rounds in my blog tour; however, I need to remember to take my own advice and continue to flex the writing muscle each day. I’d love to hear your thoughts and what steps you’ve found helpful in your own writing career.


 
 
In my life, I’m a very detail oriented person. However, when I write, sometimes I forget about the details because I’m too excited to write the story. Details are very important—sharing too much information might bore the readers and not sharing enough could leave the readers dissatisfied, wanting to know more.  

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As with so many things in life I believe in finding balance in the usage of details in my books. I’m learning to meet in the middle and add more than what I did before because I was lacking in my presentation of the story. 

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Sophie absently listened to the girls’ conversation and sat down at the table.  Her love of architecture and design drew her eyes up to admire the big arched windows close by. She liked the secluded area where the host seated them. She took a quick survey of the surroundings and noticed the ceiling, at least thirty feet highMassive arched and square windows lined the parallel walls. The chandeliers sparkled beautifully and that light combined with the sunshine made a glorious sight.

Alexander came over and interrupted her thoughts. “This was the hot spot since the eighteenth century. I bet you didn’t know that.”

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Admiring the great architectural design of the room, Sophie sat down at the table and absently listened to the girls’ conversation. Alexander came over and interrupted her thoughts. “This was the hot spot since the eighteenth century. I bet you didn’t know that.”

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Which example do you think best utilizes detail? I’m sure we’d all agree the first one does.  Without going on forever, the first example gives just enough detail to pull you into the scene; whereas the second example leaves you wanting to know more detail about the “great architectural design of the room.” 

How can you utilize details to your advantage? You can be stingy with your details. What?  Wait a minute, you say. I know I just got done sharing that you shouldn’t skimp on details.  To clarify, you need to value each and every detail you include as if it were a gold coin. You don’t want to include details just to include them. Really, every word we write should have a good reason behind it for why it’s included in our novel. 

So, if you want to tell the reader that someone is wealthy, should you write?

Jasper Jenkins was a very wealthy man.

Or would you go with option two?


                                                                      ********

Jasper Jenkins drove his BMW (or whatever other luxury car you’d like to include) up to the iron gatehouse and punched in the security code. The gate opened and he drove down the long, tree-lined private driveway. He came to a stop near the Italian fountain and exited the car just as Nigel, his butler, came rushing down the front steps to assist with carrying the luggage inside the sprawling mansion

                                                                       ********

Remember that you are creating the movie or word picture in the reader’s mind. Of course, the reader will create his or her own picture while reading—but the point of being an author is to give the reader all the details he or she needs to see the picture you want him to see…in order to correctly portray every aspect of your story in the best possible way. 

Where do you stand on details? When you read, do you like to know as much information as possible or do you think less is more? For the authors, do you load on the details in your books or keep it simple? 


 
 
How do you create unique three-dimensional characters that will stay with your readers long after they finish reading your book?  You need to make you character just like a real person not some fictional flat character that no one will remember.  This technique begins with people watching.  You need to figure out why people act the way they do.  What do people want out of life?  How do people deal with struggles?  What makes humans real and not robotic?

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Of course, as you write your story, the plot line will move along but to make the characters extraordinary, you need to let your characters tell the story—and be memorable.  Readers need to get inside the characters’ heads and feel what they are feeling and know what they are thinking.  If you’re only telling a storyline, you’re not writing an unforgettable book. 

You first need the basics:  male or female, age (at least generally speaking like mid-twenties, middle-aged etc.), what’s the character’s job and basic physical appearance as well as personality.  Once you get the basics then the fun part begins.  Now you get to flesh out your characters.  Make sure you give your character a problem; whether it is an emotional, physical or spiritual one.  

What’s in a name…Naming your characters is very important as well.  One of the minor characters in my book, Mr. Shipley’s Governess is the butler and I thought about naming him James; however, that’s stereotypical of a butler.  I ended up calling him Nigel—British sounding but less like a butler.  The heroine, Sophie, her name did not have any meaning to me.  The hero, however, I called Sebastian Shipley.  I was going for a name fit for a dashing, yet modern gentleman.  It’s your decision on whether or not you utilize stereotypes for characters, but that won’t be very interesting to your readers and it’s especially not a good idea for your main characters.  You can use some stereotypes, but the point of writing memorable characters is for you to step outside of the box and create interesting, believable, three-dimensional people. 

What is your character’s personality like?  Is he a strong type A person?  Is she more laidback and impulsive?  Don’t just say Sophie is laidback; show that she is.  Show her actions that she is more relaxed and not easily bothered by change.  Set her up in scenes where you can show her impetuous side and that she might drag the more reserved, Sebastian, out on an impromptu date.  What are the mannerisms and habits your character will exhibit?  You need to show these to your readers. 
 


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People are not perfect.  If you thought that then maybe you’re living on another planet.  So why would you make your characters perfect?  That makes them unbelievable and that will defeat your ultimate purpose of creating the unforgettable novel.  So what problems does your character have?  Maybe he has anger issues or she has problems trusting men.  That will affect their relationships.  You need to get this out into your storyline and create scenes where such issues can be fleshed out, not just told to the readers.

Writing in deep POV is extremely helpful in achieving success in your writing.  Jump into the mind of your character and bring your reader with you.  As you write, it’s very effective to keep to one character’s POV per scene.  If you head hop to another character, just make sure that it doesn’t jar the readers out of the scene into a tailspin of confusion.  You want every aspect of your story to flow together seamlessly so that your readers are fully engaged and not confused, wanting to put the book down and not finish reading. 

Do you know what motivates your characters?  If you don’t know, you’ll never be able to get that across to your readers in a believable fashion.  Is your character motivated by greed or love or bitterness?  There are so many different aspects of character motivation that you can utilize.  If he or she is motivated by greed, what made this character live like that?  Share that catalyst and it will be another great factor to draw the readers in to the story. 

One of the best ways to know if your characters are believable is to ask yourself:  do you remember your characters?  Do you want to read more stories about them?  The likelihood that you care about your characters will mean that others will too.  Always be open to learn new techniques for character development and don’t shy away from editors.  Meticulous editing will assist you, if you’re willing to take constructive criticism, in writing the best novel.  For Mr. Shipley’s Governess, I had two awesome editors through a two year period of writing / editing, who helped me see critical aspects of proper writing techniques that I was missing.  Sure, I could have ignored their assistance, but I wanted my writing to be my best.

How do you flesh out believable three-dimensional characters?  Are there any memorable characters from books you’ve read that have stayed with you long after reading the story? 


 
 
Some people have the gift of editing and others have the gift of writing.  Some people have both gifts.  I find myself somewhere in the middle.  I love to write.  I feel that I am a better writer, than editor; however, I know that having my work edited by a professional will make me a better writer, if I learn from my mistakes.

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Since I started writing in High School, I have grown by leaps and bounds as a writer, but that’s only because I’ve been open to instruction through editing.  I went to college and have an English degree.  I did well in school and went on to the business of PR.  When I finally got around to taking my writing seriously and finished my first book, I searched for a publisher.  At the time, I did not have the funds to have my book professionally edited.  Of course, I did my own edits and had some other friends (who are pretty good at editing, but not professional), review it as well.  The publisher I worked with did not have a good editing system; they really had no system in place at all.  I know my book was not polished, but I use that as a stepping stone. 

My current book has been through many edits of my own.  I submitted it to one publishing company that gave me a contract and they had an awesome editor that opened my eyes to major issues I had.  I learned a great deal from that editor.  That publishing company went out of business before my book was published.  I’m with a great company now and I just finished reviewing the current edits that my publisher did on my book.  It was another eye-opening experience.  I learned so much more.

After these two major overhauls on my book, I feel that Mr. Shipley’s Governess is finally ready to take on the world! 

During the first major overhaul of my manuscript, I learned that I had an issue with POV.  I kept head hopping between characters.  Once that was shown to me, I worked hard and made the necessary changes and the book was one more layer towards completion.  During that review, I also learned that I was going about my plot line wrong.  My book is an inspirational romance and the manuscript was anything but romantic.  I was telling the story, but the characters were on two different continents for a good portion of the story.  Once I realized that they needed to be in more scenes together, the reader is able to feel their story more; another layer completed.  My third problem was that I used passive voice too much instead of active voice.  I fixed that problem and ended up with another one.

During the second major overhaul that I just completed, I realized that as I was revising the manuscript to use more active voice, I removed the passive voice, but that meant that I was now starting too many sentences with “he, he, he and she, she, she.”  I was so focused on the action verbs that I didn’t realize I was losing the flow of the paragraphs.  So, the problem is now solved and I thank my editors at the publishing company for showing me that writing flaw.  The other major flaw that I had in my writing was that I used too many “said’s” in the dialogue.  For example, Mr. Shipley said, “Wait, I’ll be right there.”  I learned that it’s better to rephrase that.  Mr. Shipley stood up from his desk.  “Wait, I’ll be right there.”  The latter definitely makes the dialogue sequences have more action and follows the mantra of show, don’t tell.  Once I rephrased my dialogue sequences, it was amazing to me what a difference it made.


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I am currently going through the first rounds of edits on my newest book, Bella Lucia. I did my edits and am now reviewing the edits from the editor at my publisher. I am continuing to learn more each day that I focus on my writing and learning from editing. 

If you are a beginning writer, it is so important for you to have a professional editor review your work.  If you can’t afford to hire an editor, do your own homework and make sure you have good POV and don’t head hop.  You need to use active, rather than passive voice.  Steer clear of repeating words and starting sentences with he/she all the time.  Make your dialogue into great action sequences.  Keep your plot lines strong with characters that change and grow with the story.  Don’t let the plot become convoluted.    

Always be open to instruction from editors.  If they see a problem, address it.  Once you’ve taken an open-minded look at their suggestions, if you don’t agree, fine, then walk away from their suggestions.  However, if you want to be successful, be open to constructive criticism.  That’s the only way to improve your writing and grow in your craft.  Your readers will thank you!     



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All this week, for anyone who comments on my blog posts, you’ll be entered to win an eBook copy of my book, Mr. Shipley’s Governess…my way of celebrating Christmas with you and thanking you for staying in contact with my blog. I’m truly grateful for each and every reader who stays in touch through my blog and other social media outlets. 

Authors write for readers—at least, I know for sure that this author does. I enjoy hearing from you and hope you will continue to connect with me online in this New Year. I’m looking forward to sharing with you…many new authors and other’s you’ve already met…as they guest on The Mustard Seed. We’ll be hosting many contests and book giveaways, so stay tuned for more details. May 2012 be filled with overflowing blessings in your lives!  ick here to edit.Add Comment

 
 
The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.
(Proverbs 18:21)

The way we speak to each other and the tone of our voices is powerful ~ life and death is in the tongue.  How does this apply to the words we, as authors, write?

I believe the same principle applies ~ there is power in our words.  

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As authors, we take great pains to make certain that the words we write and the stories that take shape are our best work.  We edit those words and reread them and then edit them again.  We want our finished product to exemplify the story that our imagination birthed.  Does this process apply to everything we write?

It should apply, at least to a lesser degree.  Even when we write emails or texts or post comments on facebook and twitter and when we write our blogs, we need to remember the principle that life and death is in our words.  When you send an email, you can’t take it back.  Are you sure you were happy with the email you sent?  It may not seem like a big deal, but everything we write will come around ~ do you want it to haunt you or bless you?

When you write a blog, try to keep it professional but find the balance with a sense of your personality ~ make your blog inviting to those who follow you.  Remember that you are not only writing to your readers and fellow authors, but also to those publishers and book reviewers who may happen to find your blog.  If you are writing with a negative attitude and bashing other authors or giving a tirade about your noisy neighbors, that won’t seem very professional to them and could turn them off.  Your words could lead to a lost awesome book deal or lost great book review. 

When you do an author interview, if you’re speaking on the radio, be professional, but share your own personality and give the sense that you are a friendly person.  When you are answering interview questions to be posted online on a blog or magazine, remember the same principle ~ there is power in our words.  Just remember that at any point in time, someone out there in the world is or could be soon looking at your interview.  Don’t be negative, but keep that positive tone. 

If you are at a book signing, keep to the same principle.  You don’t want to let a bad day negatively affect how you speak to your fans.  Always keep the filter on your mouth and think before you speak.  This is a lesson we all need to continually learn day by day.  Of course, I’m not telling you to act fake and not who you really are.  It’s just that as an author, you do have a higher responsibility to be careful with your words, if you’re looking to be a blessing to others and not a negative force in this world. 

There are so many instances where we, as authors, will need to write words and speak words.  When you are writing a letter or email to a prospective publisher or agent, keep the tone professional, yet friendly.  Always remain cognizant of the power of life and death in your words.


 
 
In my life, I’m a very detail oriented person.  However, when I write, sometimes I forget about the details because I’m too excited to write the story.  Details are very important—sharing too much information might bore the readers and not sharing enough could leave the readers dissatisfied, wanting to know more.  

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As with so many things in life I believe in finding balance in the usage of details in my books.  I’m learning to meet in the middle and add more than what I did before because I was lacking in my presentation of the story. 

Sophie absently listened to the girls’ conversation and sat down at the table.  Her love of architecture and design drew her eyes up to admire the big arched windows close by.  She liked the secluded area where the host seated them.  She took a quick survey of the surroundings and noticed the ceiling, at least thirty feet high.  Massive arched and square windows lined the parallel walls.  The chandeliers sparkled beautifully and that light combined with the sunshine made a glorious sight.

Alexander came over and interrupted her thoughts.  “This was the hot spot since the eighteenth century.  I bet you didn’t know that.”

                                                                       ****

Admiring the great architectural design of the room, Sophie sat down at the table and absently listened to the girls’ conversation.  Alexander came over and interrupted her thoughts. “This was the hot spot since the eighteenth century. I bet you didn’t know that.”

Which example do you think best utilizes detail?  I’m sure we’d all agree the first one does.  Without going on forever, the first example gives just enough detail to pull you into the scene; whereas the second example leaves you wanting to know more detail about the “great architectural design of the room.” 


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How can you utilize details to your advantage?  You can be stingy with your details.  What?  Wait a minute, you say.  I know I just got done sharing that you shouldn’t skimp on details.  To clarify, you need to value each and every detail you include as if it were a gold coin.  You don’t want to include details just to include them.  Really, every word we write should have a good reason behind it for why it’s included in our novel. 

So, if you want to tell the reader that someone is wealthy, should you write?

Jasper Jenkins was a very wealthy man.

Or would you go with option two?

Jasper Jenkins drove his BMW (or whatever other luxury car you’d like to include) up to the iron gatehouse and punched in the security code.  The gate opened and he drove down the long, tree-lined private driveway.  He came to a stop near the Italian fountain and exited the car just as Nigel, his butler, came rushing down the front steps to assist with carrying the luggage inside the sprawling mansion

Remember that you are creating the movie or word picture in the reader’s mind.  Of course, the reader will create his or her own picture while reading—but the point of being an author is to give the reader all the details he or she needs to see the picture you want him to see…in order to correctly portray every aspect of your story in the best possible way. 

Where do you stand on details?  When you read, do you like to know as much information as possible or do you think less is more?  For the authors, do you load on the details in your books or keep it simple?  


 
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