Tough Love Talk About “The Writing Fantasy”

This isn’t a tough love talk about writing fantasy. No, I’m talking about The Writing Fantasy. The fantasy all new writers and creators have about the world of writing.

This is coming from someone who’s never been published outside of vanity sites, so take it as you will. That being said the more I interact with writers, the more I get sick of hearing about this mythical world we’re supposed to live in.

So here we go! Top five fantasies I’m going to completely crush into the ground!

 

1. Every bad review or person who doesn’t like my work is personally attacking me!
 

Well okay there, self absorbed Sandra, let’s tone it down a notch. When someone doesn’t like your work, it has nothing to do with you as a person. I know it hurts when you put months or years into a project only to get rejected by agents, your audience, or even past fans, but you can’t make everyone happy. Is it okay to get your feelings hurt? Yes, but if every bad review makes you fall apart and threaten to quit creating art, maybe it’s time to take a step back.

Now there is an exception to this rule. If you’re getting the same negative feedback every single time you put something out there, but you’re not fixing your mistakes, yes, some of the reviews might start to get personal. This is because you’re not fixing things that your audience doesn’t like. If your counter to this is “Well, I’m writing it for me, not to make everyone else happy! I’m not a sell out!” then why bother caring about reviews in the first place? Heck, why even put it up for anyone else to read if it’s just for your personal enjoyment and you don’t care what other people think?

2. I don’t have to read other people’s work anymore because I’m a writer now.
 
This isn’t “I don’t have time”, this is the “Nick Miller” defense.

Most, if not all professionals in any job, keep themselves sharp through practice, study and staying informed. Reading is part of the studying/staying informed portion of that for writers. You learn how other authors break writing rules, what works in their market (or in some cases what doesn’t work), and how to better your writing by studying the works of others.

And for those who think “I can’t read anyone else anymore because I’m just so fantastic as a writer, it’s insulting to read their drivel.”

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Welcome back, self absorbed Sandra. Get over yourself. There’s ALWAYS someone better than you out there.

 

3. Writing is romantic so I should try and copy some of my favorite classic literature.

Copying an author’s style as a warm up is eye opening, or doing it so that it makes sense in the story can be acceptable when done well. It’s when you’re forcing it on every aspect of your writing does it get old. Here’s a little secret. Readers are smart. They’re going to know you’re trying to be someone you’re not. It comes off as insincere and boring. It’s one thing to try and find your voice, it’s another to be so pretentious to think you’re the next Hemingway or Poe so you have to copy their style down to the last period.

4. I’ll just get an agent and they’ll do everything for me!

No. Wrong. Don’t expect this. Agents are very busy and the last thing they want is an author who can’t pull their own weight. Many new authors have to do a LOT of work in order to get their work noticed. You need to self promote, keep up your writer’s platform, network with other authors, talk to your agents about possible marketing opportunities, travel on book tours, start your next book, look for contests or magazines to submit short stories to, and those are just things off the top of my head! There could very well be a million other chores to do in order to get your book off the ground. Don’t expect your agent to be your fairy godmother, as magical and amazing as many of them are.

5. Editing is for writers who don’t know how to write.

Editing is CRUCIAL to writing your book. I can’t tell you how many self published authors I’ve spoken to who’ve excitedly told me about how they “wrote a book in three weeks” and then instantly put it out to the public without even doing a second read through. I’m not going to point out that there could be HUGE grammatical errors (because trust me, there will be), but you could have completely forgotten to finish a paragraph, or you might’ve accidentally cut out something without realizing it that one night when you were up till 2am working. There could be glaring inconsistencies that might’ve been fixed if you just took the time to edit your work.

I’m not saying you have to spend years on edits, or completely rewrite your novel, but not even looking at your work once you’re done could turn off readers if you have annoyingly obvious problems with your work. I’m even going to go back through and do a round of edits on this blog posts just to make sure things look good! Editing is important!

If you don’t like editing, save up and hire an editor. There are a lot of affordable options out there, and if you’re serious about getting published, it’s easy to put aside the money here or there to get your work in the hands of a professional. (I’m putting aside my coffee funds every month to get one and yeah, it takes time to save up, but it’s a worthwhile sacrifice)

And that’s it! Those are the writing fantasies I’m crushing for today. I’ll probably do another Tough Love Talk about this later, but I figure this’ll be good for now.

What are some writing fantasies you’d like to crush for other people? Comment below and let me know!

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Book Review #3 – Crimson Lake

When I read the work of a suspense author, I always have one worry. Is this story going to be the same type of tropes thrown into the same scenario? As much as I loved Hades, this question sat in the back of my mind. I should’ve known better, as Candice Fox did not disappoint.

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If you read my last review of her work, you’ll know I’m a big fan. So much so, in fact, shortly after I finished Hades, I ordered Eden, pre ordered Fall, and have my eye out for Never Never, a novel Fox wrote with James Patterson. When Fox contacted me with a chance to read Crimson Lake before it was released in the US, I have to admit, I might’ve fangirled just a little bit.

Crimson Lake is a small town in Cairns in Queensland, Australia, where Ted Conkaffey’s life is in ruins. Accused of kidnapping and torturing a young girl, he’s a retired cop with a tarnished name. He’s set on hiding from the world when he’s set up to met with Amanda Pharrell, a P.I. with murder in her past. The two begin their working relationship hunting for missing author, Jake Scully, under the eyes of a town that’s waiting for them to slip up.

If there’s one thing I enjoyed most of this novel, it was the protagonist, Ted. His fall from grace creates tension in a way that many authors are unable to capture. Not only is the reader able to feel his despair and emptiness, but there’s also rage and fury. He spirals into a depression and Fox makes his PTSD from his trial and experiences vividly realistic. Through all of it, I was rooting for him to succeed.

Amanda wasn’t a character to sneeze at either. She keeps Ted constantly pushed outside his comfort zone, and the two dynamics play well off one another.

I will say this though. Fox created two of the most unlikable police officers I’ve ever read. If anyone was going to get pushed into a bog full of crocodiles, I wanted it to be those two.  But here’s the thing. I LOVED to hate them. They made my skin crawl with how much they antagonized Ted, and made for a constant reminder that Ted’s life was always in danger because of what he was accused of.

You can purchase Crimson Lake on Amazon and if you’re a suspense fan, I say add it to your reading list!

Updating my Bookshelf – Call for Recommendations

Back in 2011, I made one of the biggest mistakes I could’ve made as a writer. I stopped reading. It wasn’t a conscious decision. I didn’t look at my bookshelf one day and go, “Who gives a crap about these things?”. But somewhere between moving, getting settled into the military life, and stressors that came up in 2012, I gradually fell out of the habit of reading.

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When I moved back to Texas in 2014, however, I slowly began to pick it back up again. I didn’t read nearly as much as I used to, but still more than I did in Virginia. I started with fun reads at first; Patricia Briggs has always been a favorite of mine and Neil Gaiman is more than entertaining, but I avoided nonfiction. When I couldn’t find a book, I went off recommendations of my friend, Alaska.

Now, in Washington, I make a point to pick up a book. I started updating my bookshelf in January, reading everything I can get my hands on, never wanting to fall back into the habit of not feeding the reader in me. I started with non-fiction, not only in subjects I want to know more about, but also to learn other people’s points of view and opinions. It’s like a reading revival over here, and I’m loving it!

What I finished reading in April

Hades by Candice Fox – Suspense/Murder Mystery
Crimson Lake
by Candice Fox* –  Suspense/Murder Mystery
Jonah Axe and The Weeping Bride by Claire L. Brown* – Time Travel/Fantasy
The Funhouse by Dean Koontz – Suspense/Fantasy

What’s currently on my nightstand/in my reading pile

Eden by Candice Fox – Suspense/Murder Mystery
The Last Wish by Andrzey Sapkowski – High Fantasy
Feast of Souls by C.S. Friedman – High Fantasy
The Stand  by Stephen King – Post Apocalyptic/Horror/Fantasy
Why I’m not a Feminist by Jessa Crispin – Nonfiction/Social Politics
Fire Touched by Patricia Briggs – Urban Fantasy
Fair Game by Patricia Briggs – Urban Fantasy
The Stolen Throne by David Gaider – High Fantasy

And what do I plan to buy next?

Lucifer Eve and Adam by Peter Wilkes & Catherine Dickey Wilson – Religious Fiction/Romance
Discovery of Witches by Debora Harkness – Historical Fantasy
The Devil of White City by Erik Larson – Nonfiction/True Crime

Any suggestions? List them below! I’m looking for suspense, urban fantasy, and dark fantasy, but welcome non-fiction as well.

* – Review coming soon

Binge Watch Weekend

Are you looking for a show to binge over the weekend? Here are a few of my favorites that you might not have considered.

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theredroad_s1The Red Road – Drama
Where can you watch it? – Netflix
Watch if you like:
– Jason Momoa
– Psychological Drama
– Shows that end too soon

The IT Crowd – Comedy
Where can you watch it? – Netflix
Watch if you like:
– British comedy
– Workplace humor
– Awkward situations

The Fall – Crime Drama
Where can you watch it? – Netflix
Watch if you like:
– Murder mystery and psychologically disturbing situations
– Gillian Anderson
– Dark imagery
Contains sensitive subject matter. Viewer discretion advised.

Into the Badlands – Action/Adventure
Where can you watch it? – Netflix
Watch if you like:
– The idea of Westerns meet Kung Fu
– Original dystopian America
– Diverse cast and good action sequences

Lucifer – Fantasy Dogma/Comedy
Where can you watch it? – Hulu
Watch if you like:
– Cheesy tv
– Supernatural/Constantine/Sleepy Hollow
– Buddy cop scenarios but with the devil

airbender-completebook3Avatar: The Last Airbender – Cartoon Adventure
Where can you watch it? – Amazon Video
Watch if you like:
– Great storytelling well beyond its time
– Complex world building
– Beautifully designed settings

Gravity Falls – Cartoon Adventure
Where can you watch it? – Hulu
Watch if you like:
– Well written kids’ shows

– Family Friendly television
– Cryptozoology

 

 

Have you seen any of these on my list? Were you able to grab a second to watch any of these? Tell me what you think below, or what you recommend for a binge watch weekend.

New Blogging Schedule

I’m still learning when it comes to blogging, but as someone who loves structure and time tables, I decided I’m going to start a schedule so y’all know what to expect from my blog.

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Timing

Because I’m still trying to build my writer’s platform, I’m going to be posting three times a week, with one occasional weekend post a month. I might change that later on, but for now, this is going to help me learn how to be consistent with my blog.

Monday – Book Talk Monday

  • Author Interviews
  • Book Reviews
  • Calls for book suggestions
  • What I’m readings

Wednesday – Writing Wednesday

  • Where I’m at in current projects
  • Advice on writing
  • Favorite writing resources
  • My writing process

Friday – Life Updates, Movies, and More

  • Movie reviews
  • Any hiatus announcements
  • Life as an introvert
  • Personal updates

Saturday/Sunday – Optional days posted once a month.

  • Reviews on events I go to
  • Personal updates
  • Art updates (pictures of my art, or art of a feature artist)
  • Feature bloggers

 

Here’s hoping I get this blogging thing down!

Author Interview #9 – Mercedes Prunty

When I put out a call to writers, I’m always excited to get responses from authors who also take part in other art forms. As someone who draws pictures inspired by my own writing, I took a lot of joy in looking through Mercedes Prunty’s, my next author to interview, website!

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Q. What’s life like for you outside out of your writing? How do you like to spend your time when not behind a computer?
A.My life when I’m not writing is spent with my two daughters, my eldest is at school but my youngest is with me most of the time as she only does nursery a couple of days a week. So I’m mostly out and about with her going to toddler groups or seeing family.
 
Q. Tell us a little bit about the book you’ve recently published. When did it come out, and how did the project surprise you?
A. The book I recently published is called Junia, it’s a Fantasy I’ve set in another world called ‘Junia’. The story see’s a young princess called Mira go on an epic journey learning about the world she will one day be Queen of. A great war divided Junia and with the help of others she wishes to repair the magical bond that was broken but there is danger afoot as a grand dark witch called Andromeda plans on taking the throne for herself to turn Junia to the dark side. Along this journey Mira must collect the element souls which are the gods for each country of Junia each representing a different element, with those she hopes to destroy Andromeda’s plan but only if Andromeda doesn’t get them first. It was released in March this year and I have entered it into the Kindle Storyteller 2017 competition, so fingers crossed 
😉.
This book surprised me because I actually started writing it when I went to Legoland with my family on holiday, I purchased a notebook from the Lego Elves section and instantly fell in love with the world map at the back and whilst my family slept I drew my own world map in the notebook and that is where Junia began.
 
Q. What tips do you have for other mommy writers to work with kiddies underfoot?
A. Just work as and when you can. Some weeks I go days without writing because the kids have been a handful or I’m too tired after having so much fun. But don’t beat yourself up if you have short breaks from writing to spend time with your family because in my eyes they come first, writing comes a close second. I am even known to stay up into the small hours writing if I have an idea because that’s the time when I truly get any peace.
 
Q. You look like you have a love of obscure movies. Which movie do you recommend that you think is underrated? 
A. I love all the Final Fantasy films which my little sister got me hooked on so I would recommend all of those but also The Girl with all the Gifts, a great take on a zombie horror book and I find the zombies represent what would be quite realistic to me.
 
collage-2017-03-20-19_23_38Q. You have so much artwork on your website. Do you do them yourselves, or do you have someone else in your life who draws for you?
A. I tend to draw a lot of my own artwork, mainly because it helps me imagine my stories better if I can see them my way on paper. I also like to design my own covers more to do with a non existent budget because I don’t want to take anything away from the kids, so if I practice drawing more I hope to make even better covers for my future works.
 
Q. I’m always interested in why authors choose the way they publish their novel. What made you decide to self publish instead of going the “traditional” route?
A. I mainly chose the self publishing route because I have so many idea’s for stories that to chase agents and traditional publishers would take so much of my writing time. I also like the control I have over my books, I set the price, chose the cover and do all my own self promotion, which I have heard from traditionally published authors that they have to market a lot of their own work too so I thought I might as well just do it all myself.
 
Q. When you work on a novel, what is your favourite part of your writing process?
A. The first draft. I love just power writing it all down so I know the whole initial idea. It’s exciting getting to know the new story and also the characters and how they grow as the first draft takes shape. My least favourite part is editing but I think that’s more because of how much time it takes.
 
 
92f9654826ee60226cb97cf8ab62204eQ. Which author influenced your writing the most?
Funnily enough when I was younger I was obsessed with the Resident Evil franchise, the games, the films and the books. The books were written by S.D.Perry and I loved them so much I read them to death and had to buy all new ones again so I could re-read them. I think I liked her initial style and the way the horror and gore was described it made it scary not just a gore fest, which I have hopefully done in my horror books the Alone series. But another author who really got me writing the way I do is Laurell K Hamilton who wrote the Anita Blake series, the main reason for this is because she writes in the first person and since writing I find myself writing in first person as well. When I try to write in third person I really struggle and always end up back at first person so I think her writing influenced me as well as S.D.Perry.
 
Q. In your novel, The Keeper of the Key, Selene is tossed into a world of shadows and monsters. What type of creatures does she find there, and how were you inspired by them?
A. The shadow’s are almost like an illuminati type cult that plans on destroying the world (I think I like the world being destroyed scenario too much) but even though most of them are people a lot of them are monsters with dark powers too. The creatures can be anything from black mists with tentacles to her best friend becoming a source of all evil controlled by the head Shadow Master. I was inspired by them through other films and television shows I had seen growing up but also video games. I love Tomb Raider when growing up and wanted a feel to it a little like that, in the tombs there were always shadows that monsters could hide in and I wanted to play on that feeling of what the shadows in my books could hide inside them.
 
Q. Which of your protagonists do you find is the most like you? Which one is the least?
A. I think Stacie from Alone is a bit like me in the sense I gave her blonde hair and mine is naturally blonde. I saw a lot of protagonists that were heroines with dark flowing brunette locks and wanted someone I could connect with. I would also like to think that in a situation where the world was overrun by zombie like creatures I would be a survivor like her. I think Selene would be the least like myself but in a way they are all extensions of me so I can’t completely rule her out as not being like me a little bit.
 
Q. What do you find is the most rewarding part about writing?
A. Holding the published paperback copy in your hands, the smell of the new book and the feeling of accomplishment but also the proudness of my husband. He supports me so much with my writing and that is really rewarding because although they might not get anywhere in the book world he is proud of me and that makes it worth it.
 
Q. Some authors spend years editing their work, others don’t have an editing process at all. How long do you usually spend on your novels, and what advice do you give to fellow writers when it comes to editing?
A. Each novel normally takes me around a year to write and edit. I tend to write one for a couple of months, leave it and start another one, then go back to the first one, finish it and edit it. My advice when it comes to editing is; mistakes happen!! I have to edit all my own work I cannot afford for a professional, I also know someone who had her work stolen by an editor who published the work as their own and she had to fight and spend money on Solicitors and Lawyers to get it back which scares me, so I find trusting people with my work hard due to her experience. But I would say we are only human, there is going to be the odd spelling or grammar mistake no matter how many times you read it. I love my mistakes because to me I know that I made that work by myself, it was all my hard work and dedication that gave birth to my book baby and no one else.
 
Q. Do you set writing goals for yourself, or do you prefer to have a more freeform style with your work?
A. My writing is more freeform, I just write and hope to finish by a certain time of year. I normally publish books around March and August time so I just aim for those months with my works that are nearly complete.
 
Q. Which villain from a book or movie do you love the most? Which hero do you love the least?
!!!SPOILERS FOR WALKING DEAD IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN UP TO SEASON 7!!!
I’m obsessed with The Walking Dead and the Villain I love the most on there is Negan. He’s a lovable rouge even if he did kill my Glenn (highlight for word) which I don’t think I can fully forgive him for. I like how funny and charming he can be but also the dark, evil side is a bit attractive haha. The Hero I’m not the most keen on is Bella in Twilight, I actually loved the books and I liked Bella in the book but in the film I found her irritating and not at all like I’d imagined her but I guess that’s the risk with book to film adaptations.
 
Q. Who do you find yourself relying on the most in your writing life?
A. My husband, he is quite knowledgeable about things and I’m always asking him questions. He also advises me on the storyline and the characters. He is also like my agent as he’s always telling people about my books and getting me a few more sales.
 
Q. What’s your guilty pleasure “cliche character trait” do you love, even when everyone else says it’s over done?
A. The teenager that is the ‘One’ the chosen one. I know people find it overdone and annoying but I love it and enjoy reading and writing it.
 
Q. Tell us a little bit about the world of “Junia”! What’s your favorite part about world building?
A. Junia is a world built on magic and shaped like a pentacle star, each section or country represents a different magical element and has different cultures and races living there. I love world building because I can make it how I see fit, I make it fit my book not the other way around.
 
Q. The release date for your fourth book, Junia was set for April 9th. How do you prepare yourself for book release dates and how’s the event planning going?
A. The release party was indeed the 9th April although it had been out since mid March. I prepare by using apps on my phone to create fun games, create pictures with snippets from the book and teasers, I always buy one of my books to use in a competition that someone can win. It takes a lot of planning it’s not something you can just throw together.  I also make my book free to download as obviously as an author you want as many people to read it as possible and leave a review or two 😉. Next up I want to do a signing day at my local library or supermarket but I have to wait till pay day to order some more books.
 
Q. What’s next on your agenda? What’s your next project and when do you plan on finishing it.
A. I’m currently writing the final book in my Alone series, the end to my own zombie apocalypse. I’ve written half of it but with getting Junia ready it did take a little bit of a back seat but now I can plan and write again for it. I plan for it to be released around August time if I get my butt in gear that is.
 
Thanks for having me. xxxx
bdrWant to learn more about Mercedes Prunty, her love of vampires, and the world of Junia? Check her out below!
Twitter: @MercedesPrunty
Instagram: MercedesPrunty
 (.Com link)
(.Co.uk link)

10 Things About Me

Since I’ve wound up with a few new followers recently, I decide to do a little introduction.

Here are ten things about me that you might not have known.

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10. I’ve barely been outside the United States. I’m from Texas originally, so going to Mexico wasn’t that far of a trip, but one day I’d like to actually travel outside North America.

9. My music bank is mostly full of what my husband calls “cheesy indie songs” by bands like Oh Wonder, Amber Run, and Bastille… and Ninja Sex Party. I love Ninja Sex Party more than I probably should.

8. I got engaged a week before my 19th birthday and got married when I was 21. My husband occasionally gives input to my blog posts, or I’ll include his opinions on certain subjects. Mostly we travel together in our camper van and talk about what life will be like outside of the military.

7. My best friend, who I refer to as “Alaska” in many blog posts, is one of the main reasons why I write. She’s been someone I can count on through thick and thin, and I don’t know what I’d do without her.

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6. I have two dogs, a mastiff named Zeus and a lab named Hank. Hank is usually my writing buddy and is almost always at my feet whenever I’m working on the computer. Zeus, on the other hand, doesn’t care about my writing time at all.

5. I prefer to write male characters, as I’ve never felt like I’ve connected to my female leads. There are a few exceptions to this, but I generally wind up liking my male characters better.

4. Dragon Age is my favorite video game franchise. I’ve even read books the original creator put out just to get to know the world better.

3. When not writing, I work at a museum to make extra cash in a minor managerial role. It’s a pretty big source of inspiration, especially when it comes to talking to artists, meeting people from all walks of life, and interacting with tourists.

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2. My top five celebrity crushes are Adrien Brody, Mads Mikkelsen, Jason Momoa, Mathias Lauridsen, and Idris Alba. There’s a wide array of faces between those guys, jeez…

1. I started out drawing before I considered writing as a serious profession. My artwork was in a few galleries in Texas, and was up in a 3 night showing as part of a exhibit in Detroit. I still paint and sketch on occasion, but I found writing to be what I’m more passionate about pursuing.

 

Hope you enjoyed this little peek into my life! Tell me a little bit about yourself. Do you have a thing for dragon rp games, or are you just a fan of Mads like I am?

Connect with me on….

Facebook: @aemcauleywriter
Twitter: @aemcauley
Instagram: @aemcauley
Website:  http://aemcauley.wixsite.com/author/

10 Things To Watch for When Self Editing

I’ve been reading quite a lot of self-published work lately. Some great, others not so great, and what I’ve realized is most problems that arise in self-published writing comes down to the editing. Misspelled words, incorrect grammar, page layout, and fixing minor style problems are all things that slow your story down and get in the way of what could be a great novel.

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Now I’m not an editor by any means, but here are some things I’ve learned in my own work and in reading others that will improve your writing.

  1. Watch out for the same word showing up multiple times in back to back sentences. “She went up the stairs, and woke her sister up. “You’re late, it’s time to get up.”” It’s repetitive.
  2. U.S. writers have different spellings and word usages than other English speaking countries, which is fine, but make sure you’re being consistent. No “towards” in one sentence then “toward” in the following paragraph, or no criticizing one minute and then criticising the next. If you’re going to call “pants” “trousers” and “underwear” “pants”, stick with it through the whole book.
  3. When a new character starts speaking, start a new line. It’s very confusing looking at a wall of text and slows down the reader when they have to figure out who’s saying what.
  4. “And then she went up and walked down stairs. Then she smiled at her mother. Then she….” You get it right? “And then” can ruin a good book. Not only because it’s repetitive. It makes the story bland.
  5. Cut out flabby words in general. Better writers than me have written articles on this, check them out here and here. It might not always apply, but there are a lot of excess words that make a great book fall from readers’ graces.
  6. Say your dialogue out loud to see how realistic it sounds. A modern thirteen year old saying things like “Where do you purpose I venture from here?” sounds strange, if it’s not in the context of the story.
  7. When you make point of view changes, give a heads up by either changing the chapter, or separating it somehow from the rest of the work. Jumping into one character’s head and then another can be jarring for the audience.
  8. Keep your characters consistent. If your character doesn’t know something, they can’t suddenly have all the answers just because they read one paragraph of a news article. Or my favorite character inconsistency, “I’m a virgin who doesn’t even know how sex works”, but two pages later, “OMG that cutie has me thinking up dirtier things than Fifty Shades of Grey mixed with German torture porn.” It cracks me up every time.
  9. Keep the tone and style consistent. A book that starts out like Shakespeare, but ends like Stephenie Meyer after the fifth chapter, then turns into Hemmingway by the tenth gets confusing. All authors have their merits, but if you’re trying to copy a style, make sure you keep it steady. Again, this is only if it doesn’t make sense in the narrative. I’m sure there’s someone who’s pulled off changing styles, when it was in the context of the story.
  10. Conveniences are my least favorite thing in ANY book, self published or otherwise. This is the “The door was locked, but luckily he knew how to pick it using nothing but a spoon. But when he opened the door there was someone with a gun. Lucky for him, he knew how to use kung fu! They pushed him out a window, but luckily, he had super powers and whole time and could fly!” No one, not even a leprechaun holding a horseshoe made of rabbit feet, while also wearing a suit of four leaf clovers is this lucky! If you notice your character somehow getting out of every single situation from unexplained help, it might be time to make some edits.

Agree with my list? How do you go about editing your novel? What advice can you give to people who are new to editing their work?

From The Roots of The Family Tree – A writing exercise

It’s always surprising to me when I talk to writers and they know next to nothing about their character’s family history. Not because it’s a bad thing, but because I can’t get through writing my novel if I don’t come up with a few family dynamics for my main characters.

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This sort of thing helps me come up with everything from the character’s name to how they respond in social situations. Here’s a quick checklist I use when creating my character’s family history.

Who were their parental figures?: Not every character has to have a living parent, but everyone, whether they realize it or not, puts someone in that parental role. Who shaped your character’s life as a parent?
Why did their parents name them what they did?: This is by far my favorite way to name characters, because let’s face it, we have no control over what our names are, unless we change them. Which brings me to my next point – Why did they change their birth name if they no longer go by what their parents called them?
What philosophy or religion were they raised under?: While their parents might not have said “We’re raising you to be a stoic!” they very well could’ve kept a “tight upper lip” policy in the house. If you’re uncertain, here’s a huge list of philosophies and religions to research.
What’s their relationship with their siblings?: Or cousins, depending on if they have siblings or not. If they don’t have siblings, why don’t they have siblings, and how do they feel about being an only child?
Is the family a matriachy or a patriarchy?: Who’s more respected and looked up to in the family? A grand/mother or grand/father figure?
Who was the comforter and who was the teacher in the family?: Who did the character go to when they needed support, and who did they go to when they needed to be taught a life lesson?
How important was education, money and politics in the house?: Usually, this will be a basis for how your character acts towards society and the political sciences. While it might have nothing to do with your book, it does help build how they react to the world around them.
Do they still keep in touch with family members today?: Again, if your character doesn’t have any blood relatives, do they keep in touch with people they assigned the “family role”?

How do you build your character? Do you start from the family tree and move on, or do you have a different method?

Let me know if this sheet helps, and feel free to share with others.

Things to Do While Waiting for Agent Responses

I started submitting my first novel, Flightless, to agents this month, and one thing’s been made clear to me. I am NOT a patient person. The people who really know me will be shaking their heads right now, because they know this already, but to everyone who’s learning about me through my blog will quickly find out waiting is not my strong suit.

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To fill the time, I’ve come up with little ways to keep my mind off of the waiting game that is, “Will this agent like my work or not?”. Hopefully this will help anyone else who’s waiting, or at the very least make you feel less alone.
Start my next novel.
With Flightless over with, and three more books planned in the series, I’ve decided to take a little brake from my world of winged people and step into something a little bit darker. Wake the Dead is my next big project, and damn I am doing a lot of research. I’m creating my own magical system that revolves around life and death, and I’m learning all about alchemy, European magical societies, and high magical practices. It’s a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to get the project under way.

Play video games.
I don’t claim to be a “gamer girl” by any means, and really, I could only tell you about a few games I enjoy playing. I pass the time with things like Portal, Dragon Age: Inquisition, and Fable, or when I’m feeling nostalgic, Super Mario World. Diving into someone else’s story, in a different medium other than writing, helps me take my mind off work and lets me focus on the important things in life, like killing darkspawn and smashing koopas.

Read a new book, outside my genre.
I’m a fantasy/sci-fi girl at heart, but what do I really love to read? Crime and suspense! Give me a murder scene over a ride through a magical kingdom, or a daring detective over a knight in shining armor any day. Right now, I’m reading Crimson Lake, by Candice Fox and let me tell you, this author doesn’t disappoint. I’ve already breezed through Hades, ordered Eden, and pre-ordered Fall, when she offered to send me Crimson Lake after a book review. Now, all things are on hold while I finish this intense crime novel and her work helps me keep my mind off the “will they, won’t they” of my agent/author relationship.

Get off social media.
I’ll admit it. I’ve followed every agent I’ve queried, or want to query, just to keep up with them. I look into what conferences they’re going to, what online chats they might be participating in, or just generally what they’re looking for in an author. While I’ve been told this is a good strategy, this also means I’m not exactly taking my mind off all those queries floating around. So I started spending time away from social media to keep my mind off things. This has been the most useful technique thus far.

Watch a movie/tv show you know is bad.
My best friend “Alaska” will tell you, I have the worse taste in movies and TV shows. I don’t know what it is about cheesy, over the top action flicks or predictable television, but I find it hilarious and enjoyable. That’s not to say I don’t like “critically acclaimed” works out there, I’m just more likely to watch “Chronicles of Riddick” over “Annie Hall” when I want to be distracted. These sort of things are brain cotton candy for me, and it’s a great way to stop thinking about something serious and just have a good time.

And lastly, clean the house.
This is when I get really desperate, and we’re not just talking about doing dishes, or other piddily chores. No, I’m talking a top to bottom, dust the corners of the ceiling, take things out of closets, and run all the junk to Goodwill that I’ve been meaning to get rid of for months. Cleaning was always my mother’s way of keeping her world organized, and I think I picked this up from her. It gives you that little bit of control when you feel like you don’t have any. It helps, even if it does leave me exhausted by the end of the day.

Looking for other things to do to get your mind off waiting for an agent yes or no?

  • Visit a place you’ve been meaning to go but have been putting off.
  • Join a writing group to hear how other writers wait for the yes or no.
  • Take up another artistic outlet, or learn a craft you’ve always wanted to try.
  • Invite some friends over for a game night.
  • Work out.
  • Play a mindless phone game.
  • Write a letter to a teacher or adult who inspired you to write. Even if you don’t send it, it’ll help remind you of people who encouraged you in your life.
  • Take yourself out on a date. Go to the movies, see a play, eat at a nice place just to try it.

What helps you keep your mind off the waiting game? Are any of these suggestions one you’ve tried or are wanting to try?