Four Things I Never Thought Would Happen When I Self-Published My Book

It’s been almost nine months since I self-published my debut novel, QUEEN HENRY. The last few months have truly been a dream come true. Thus far, the whole experience has surpassed my expectations, which I purposely kept on the low side…just in case.

I had spent twenty years as a writer, both as a wannabe screenwriter and novelist. I’ve had close brushes with success and a whole lot of rejection. Just the idea of having my work FINALLY out there was absolutely thrilling. The notion that just ONE person, ONE reader would finally crack open my book and experience my story was an amazing thought. It’s never been about the money for me (good thing..) or fame or anything like that. I would honestly rather have people remember my characters’ names than mine.

The experience of self-publishing has been full of surprises, that’s for sure.

What I DID expect to happen, has. People have actually read the book. After years of bouncing around the traditional publishing world and all its disappointments, it’s still a strange and wonderful feeling to know that I actually have readers. Not a huge number thus far, but people who have actually read and experienced my characters, my story, my world that has been kept hidden for far too long.

Several things have happened that I never expected.

1. I Sold More Books Than I Expected – Again, I kept my expectations low. I figured I’d be happy if I sold 50 books in the first year, and that includes my friends and family members. After so many years of rejection, just having a handful of people I didn’t know read the book would have been rewarding enough. I’ve heard that the average self-published book sells about 100-150 books in all. Thus far, I’ve sold 153 books in nine months. Hardly a runaway bestseller, but far better than I’d hoped for!

2. I’ve Gotten Great Reviews – I fully expected to get some bad reviews. Again, I’m no stranger to rejection and I know bad reviews are part of the life of a writer. I haven’t really gotten any bad reviews (so far!) and I’m amazed at how many good ones I’ve gotten. My biggest fear was that my first review would be a bad one, thus souring a lot of the excitement of achieving my lifelong dream of publishing a book. I was stunned when the first review I got was a five-star one – from someone I did not know! I’ve gotten several great reviews from online book bloggers and got a front-page rave review from a Baltimore LGBT Newspaper.

3. I’ve Given a Talk About My Book – Since my book centered on LGBT equality (with all the proceeds being donated to the Harvey Milk Foundation), I was invited by a local PFLAG chapter (a group of LGBT Allies) to give a talk about my book. I spoke to a group of several dozen people, some of whom had already read my book, about the story and how it came to be self-published. I also got to read excerpts from the story. It was such an incredible feeling to be able to read parts of my story and some of the characters’ dialogue out loud. People laughed when they were supposed to, which was immensely gratifying. Someone asked me a specific question about the story, and I told her that in order to answer the question, I would have to reveal the ending. I asked the group if I should do that and the ones who had already read the book yelled out “No! No! Don’t give it away”. That means they cared. They cared about the characters and were engaged enough by the story that they didn’t want to ruin it for other people. After the talk, I spoke individually with some members of the audience, many of whom who bought the book and had me sign it. That was a surreal experience, to say the least.

4. My Book Is in the Library – I submitted my book to my local library, promising myself that I wouldn’t be too disappointed when they turned  it down. There are now two copies of the book on the shelf in the New Adult Fiction section. Seeing those books, complete with the official library barcode on the back, is an experience I never thought I would have and I’ll never forget.

QHLibraryQUEEN HENRY has always been my favorite story, and to see it be successful, even on a relatively small scale, has been an extraordinary experience. I’m getting ready to publish another book soon, and I’m excited to see what the future holds.

Whatever happens, it will be enough just to have people open my book and read my story.

Thanks for sharing my journey with me.

– Linda Fausnet

 

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Self-Publishing Short Stories

One of the biggest challenges for self-publishers is simply getting their name out there. Many new readers are hesitant to take a chance on a new writer – even if it only costs them $2.99. Many writers opt to give away their first novel for free, either for a limited time or they may even make it perma-free, meaning it’s always free. Many writers go the perma-free route when they’ve written a trilogy. Like a drug dealer, the first hit’s free. The next one’s gonna cost ya…

Another option is to test the waters with a short story. Again, it can either be a free giveaway or it can be priced at .99 or so. Readers may be more willing to part with a smaller amount of both their time and money – a short story and a measly dollar – to give a new writer a shot. If they like what they see, they just might get hooked.

Kendall Bailey is one such writer giving the 99 cent short story deal a try, and Wannabe Pride recommends you check out his story – SLED DOGS.

Alia’s summer fun turns to fear when her dad’s dog sled team escapes the kennel. Fear becomes terror when the dogs return. Sled Dogs is a gory romp through the wet, southern Alaskan wilderness.

Sled Dogs 2

Author Kendall Bailey:

I wrote Sled Dogs a few years ago. It was the first story I finished that didn’t end up being a disappointment. It sat on my computer, unpublished, until I realized something—but to tell you that story I need to tell you another one:

When I published my first novel, The Bad, I made more mistakes than I can possibly relate here (some of which I’m sure I haven’t discovered yet). I have another novel due to come out late this spring and I am changing my approach to publishing and promotion.

This time I am going to get it right. I’ve created my own Media company – a sole proprietorship containing my name so I don’t have to pay to file as a DBA. I am changing from Lulu.com to Createspace and KDP, the novel will be available exclusively through Amazon. There are many other things I’ve changed but those are the two biggest. Sled Dogs is the dry-run before I get down to serious business. That being said, it’s a solid story and I’m glad it has seen the light of day.

Sled Dogs is a campy horror story. It is an 80’s horror flick put into prose. I wrote it with the intent of creating a guilty pleasure for people, like me, who enjoy a little blood and guts sometimes.

I hope you enjoy it!

Sled Dogs on Amazon:

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Wannabe Pride’s DON’T DESPAIR Self-Publishing Advice for Actual Human Beings

 

Rich

Have you ever read a parenting book by a so-called expert and you think to yourself – there’s no way this person actually has kids? Sometimes the advice is so unrealistic you want to throw the book down in disgust.

I find myself feeling that way about certain advice for self-published writers.

Look. Self-published writers are real people. We are real people with real jobs, real families, and we often have really limited budgets. Every day when I turn on the news I’m reminded that I am far from alone in feeling this economic crunch, and even talking to non-writer friends I’m reminded that we all feel time pressure when it comes to taking care of our families.

Let’s do a little reality check on some of the conventional advice that’s offered to self-published writers.

THE BEST WAY TO SUCCEED IS TO WRITE AT LEAST 2-3 BOOKS A YEAR.

Reality check – Unless your last name is Gates, Kardashian, or you are otherwise anonymously yet fabulously wealthy, you’re likely working a 40-hour-workweek. Throw in a bad commute and your writing hands are tied up for most of your day – and most of your life. Maybe you don’t get a chance to write every day because you’re just plain exhausted from working so much and you really beat yourself up about it.

Wannabe Pride’s Don’t Despair Tip– You’re not a terrible person if you can’t write every day. Making enough money to put food on the table and a roof over your head is essential. Like it or not, that must come first. It’s only natural that, after working all day, it can be hard to squeeze in enough time to work on your dream. Keep in mind – that, too, is essential. It’s essential for your peace of mind to carve out any time, no matter how small, to keep your dream alive and to stave off the soul-suckingness of having to work so hard to make somebody else rich. Even if it’s 20 minutes, grab that time. You’ll feel so much better if you get something – ANYTHING – accomplished. It’s not a damn race. Focus on one book, one chapter, one sentence at a time. Eventually, there will be a book – YOUR book – where there were once blank pages.

PUBLISH AS MANY BOOKS AS QUICKLY AS YOU CAN

Reality check- Have you become independently wealthy since you read the first tip? I didn’t think so. It costs MONEY to publish books, even eBooks. You have to scrape together the money for an editor, a cover artist, a formatter, and so forth. Personally, I find it endlessly frustrating – heartbreaking, really – to toil for months to finally complete a book, only to have to wait many months more because I simply do not have the money to publish it. Times are very, very tough right now. The reality is, my work ethic is much more robust than my bank account.

Wannabe Pride’s Don’t Despair Tip– It is true that the faster you publish multiple books, the faster a success you may become. But life just doesn’t always work that way. You may not be able to publish a whole pile of books quickly, even if they’re already written. It’s hard to be patient, but do try. And however tempting it may be, DON’T cut corners. You really do need to pay an editor and make sure you have a good, quality book cover. Otherwise, you’ll look like an amateur. You’ve worked far too hard for far too long to let that happen. You’ll get there eventually, and it will mean so much more because you did it the right way.

PROMOTE YOUR BOOK AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE

Reality Check- Like so many things in the self-publishing world, this is easier said than done. It is extremely difficult for a self-published author to break through, particularly when they only have one book out there in circulation. Promotion can include book bloggers (free) and advertising (still not independently wealthy here). There can be a high rejection rate for submissions to book bloggers due to the volume of requests they receive. Even if your book is accepted and reviewed, it’s debatable about how much good it will do you. Thus far, I’ve had three book bloggers give my book pretty good reviews, but it’s really had very little, if any, impact on my book sales. You can even get rejected for paid advertising! BookBub can be a wonderful resource with their paid email blasts which are sent directly to readers, but they accept only 20% of books submitted to them. So far, mine are not among them….

Wannabe Pride’s Don’t Despair Tip – Nobody can ever really predict which books will really take off and which ones won’t sell well. That goes for highly-publicized, traditionally-published books, too, so don’t despair if you really can’t get any high-profile publicity for your book.  Free publicity, including smaller book bloggers, reader reviews, and social media posts (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+) all slowly but surely contribute to getting the word out about your work. Once again I say, it’s not a race. Just because it takes a long time to gather momentum and readers for your book doesn’t mean it won’t ever happen.

My best most heartfelt advice to other writers and to repeat to myself is DON’T GIVE UP. You can do it. I can do it. It’s hard to spend your days toiling for somebody else and it hurts when your bank account can’t keep up with all your hard work, heart, and perseverance. But you can and you will find a way to make it all work if being a writer is truly what you want.

Hang in there.

Find some way – ANY way – that works for you. As long as it results in you finishing that damn book and then sharing it with the world.

DO IT, and then be proud of the fact that it didn’t come easy, but you did it anyway.

–          Linda Fausnet

 

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Prose – An Innovative New Platform for Indie Writers

Wannabe Pride welcomes guest blogger Henry Augustine!

Henry oversees business operations for Prose. His dream of becoming a professional writer ignited in the fourth grade, and eventually led him to getting published by Integral World in August 2009 (Integral Philosophy) and by Integral Publishing House in January 2014 (The Coming Waves, “The Biggest Taboo”) – as well as to co-founding Myrtle Street Publishing and Prose as a means to transform the publishing industry.

“Prose” is an online reading and writing platform on a mission to inspire and empower writers globally and level the publishing industry playfield. The key to fulfilling this mission is technology. Prose’s technology aims to redefine the experience of literature for readers and writers spanning all skills, genres, and locations.

In particular, the technology emphasizes three primary elements:

1) Simplicity, 2) Community, and 3) Entertainment.

The platform is simple so that creating/discovering writing is intuitive and efficient. The platform is social in that the interaction experience feels like a small, real community. It’s entertaining in particular through its “Challenges” feature, enabling users to create writing challenges, invite fans and friends to participate, and interact in whole new ways.

While as a platform, Prose enables new forms of author-audience interaction, as a cause, it is in the process of joining forces with as many publishers, authors, and readers as possible. The vision is an ecosystem of literary distributors spanning all shapes and sizes from around the world – blogs, indie publishers, magazines, established publishers – connected with a diverse, abundant pool of fresh literary talent spanning all shapes and sizes from around the world.

Prose, as a technology platform, will integrate this ecosystem of distributors with its pool of talent as a means to minimize the global publishing industry gap between literary talent and demand on one end and literary distribution on the other.

The ultimate problem that Prose is attempting to solve is there being significantly more literary potential, literary talent, and literary demand than there currently is literary distribution. Prose will also connect readers with the writing and writers matching their unique literary taste, almost like a “Pandora for Writing.”

In short, the vision driving Prose is a win-win-win – a win for authors and literary talent, a win for readers and literary demand, and a win for publishers and literary distribution.

The Prose iTunes app launched September 2014 and the web app, for non-iPhone users and desktop use, launched in December.

You can experience Prose at https://theprose.com.

You can download the mobile app at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/prose./id911216930?mt=8

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On Doing Writerly Research : Ancient Greece

 Today Wannabe Pride welcomes author Kayla Jameth!

Kayla Jameth grew up on the family farm in Ohio. An unrepentant tomboy, she baled hay and raised cattle, and her father taught her to weld before she graduated from high school. She attended Cleveland’s Case Western Reserve University and later, Texas A&M University in her pursuit of veterinary medicine, taking her far away from her rural roots. But it wasn’t all hard work for her, her sojourn as the princess of the Celestial Kingdom left her with the title “Sir” and a costume closet the envy of many knights, lords, and ladies. After declaring for years that she was not an author, Kayla now finds herself writing m/m erotic romance outside of Houston, Texas. While you can take the girl out of the country, you can’t turn her into a city slicker. Kayla would still rather be outside getting down and dirty with the boys. She shares a full house with her favorite animals: a cat, two guinea pigs, a gerbil, three guppies, as well as her husband, son, and daughter.

Probably the single most common question I’m asked is: What made you write about ancient Greece? In college, I minored in Classical History, but my love of the ancient goes back even further than that. As a child, I enjoyed the sermons about the historical figures in the Bible and this translated into an interest in the civilizations of the past. The more mysterious the better.

I am probably one of the few people who have owned a copy of Bulfinch’s Mythology since their early teens. I read about Paris and the beauty contest between Hera, Athena and Aphrodite, and counted him a fool for his choice. Athena made the best offer to my way of thinking. 

Judgment of Paris

I didn’t limit myself to the Greco-Roman myths. Egyptian and Norse epics were fair game as well. And more recently, Babylonian tales have made their appearance. There was something magical in listening to my professor read the Iliad in the language it was written, his voice ringing with the power of the words.

I also still love fairy tales, which are more or less an extension of the tradition of mythic tales. Because of this, I have a pretty firm base on which to build my world. My Apollo’s Men series takes place in the world that the ancient Greeks believed they lived in. A world
not unlike the epic tales that Homer spoke of, filled with deities and daemons (any of the lesser beings,NOT demons).

Blackbird

In researching the details that bring my world to life, Google is my friend. I often start with Wikipedia for basic details and to find other terms to explore. Google books will give you a look inside many scholarly works. Plus excerpts or even the full text of scholarly journal articles can be accessed through several sites.

There are numerous ancient Greek and Spartan reenactment societies that are also great resources. Anything from how to make your own authentic gear to what to expect an ancient Greek to own. And more importantly, what he wouldn’t have. I also use an online etymology site to see if a word is suitably ancient or can trace its roots back to a Greek word before I use it in the document. There are days when I wish I could use any word I wanted, but I can’t use things like “piece de resistance”. And just try to come up with the equivalent to “shit” and “damn” etc. without using the same old tired “By Zeus!” It’s especially frustrating as the Greeks would have actually said the Greek word for some of it, but the readers act like cussing is a modern construct. There’s nothing new under the sun. Some of the contemporaneous comedies were especially vulgar: lots of potty humor and scandalous discussions of sex in the crassest words imaginable.

Unfortunately, I can’t always find a source for certain details. Some things were just too commonplace for any of the ancient authors to waste time on. Even archeology sometimes lets me down. If I can’t find proof of something, I either find a way around it or go with what was common in that time and general locale.

Sparta has been a particular challenge, as the city-state often refused to conform with the other Greek poleis. In addition, the Spartans were laconic by definition and only committed to writing the really important stuff, leaving everything else unsaid. This is further complicated by all the bad press Sparta received from the city-states that were in conflict with her, especially the Athenians who were very vocal.

So writing about that era has been a challenge, but one I have thoroughly enjoyed.

The Apollo’s Men series:

Body Language(free download on Smashwords)

Body Language

Alexios’ Fate

Alexos Fate

496 BC (in the Lust in Time anthology)

Lust

 

A Spartan Love

A Spartan Love

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Writer Seeks Beta Reader for a Long-Term Relationship

sandwichI’m looking for a compatible beta reader for a long-term and mutually beneficial relationship. My ideal beta reader, in addition to enjoying long walks on the beach, should be someone who is:

  1. Honest. I really do want the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth when it comes to your critique. Will you tell me what works? What doesn’t? Are my characters well-developed? Do they have unique voices or do they all sound the same? Does the plot make sense or is it too far-fetched? Grammatical corrections are welcomed, but not critical. At this beta stage, I’m more focused on the story as a whole.

  2. Respectful and Kind. Instead of saying “Oh my God, you’ve already said this so many times I wanted to put an ice pick through my forehead,” a simple “you’ve already mentioned this a few times” or just “repetitive” will do nicely.

  3. Serious about the craft. Ideally, you’ve already written a few novels or at least have a fairly regular writing schedule. There are a lot of people who want to be writers, but kind of crap out when the going gets tough.

  4. A fan of romance novels, as well as chick lit and other more light-hearted works. If you tend to write serious, hard-hitting literature, you probably won’t be a good fit to critique my writing. I also write lots of LGBT characters, so if you’re prejudiced in any way, you can hit the road.

  5. Able to stick to a reasonable turnaround time. I tend to seek critiques once I’ve finished the first full draft of a novel, rather than a few chapters at a time. I figure a month to read the full novel is fairly reasonable.

In return, I can offer, free to a good home, a critique partner who:

6.  Is all of the above things, and really wants to help other writers succeed.

If you’re interested, please contact me at lindafausnet@gmail.com. I look forward to hearing from you!

How to Create Your Social Marketing Strategy (for writers)

Chris Weber“Marketing is so haaaard.” is the collective whine of so many grown-ups that have chosen the unfortunate career of author.

Here’s the deal, people. You’re thinking about it all wrong. Marketing isn’t something you do to sell your book. It’s not a pain in the butt that takes away from your writing time. Marketing is writing, and you’re a writer.

It’s an opportunity to practice your craft, just in a different format. As Hemingway said, “There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” If you’re marketing is failing, chances are you’re not bleeding quite enough outside the pages of your book.

So here’s the deal. Stop “marketing your book” and start connecting with your readers. Write non-book content that people will enjoy reading. Do a podcast or video posts that invite new and old readers alike into your world. True fans are the ones who like you and your outlook on the world. It’s great to sell books in a blitz, but not at the expense of true audience building.

Case in point: John Green didn’t grow his fan base by posting on Twitter that his book was for sale. He did it by keeping a video blog with his brother for years. It was something he clearly loved doing, and a lot of other people loved it too. The videos weren’t promotional material, but he sold a whole lot of books because of them.

So let’s talk nuts and bolts on how to get that strategy in order. This is where a little bit of time being business-y goes a long way. So make a few decisions, make a list or two, and stick to them. The categories outlined below should get you started:

How often:

Decide how often you’re going to post and write it down. This is a schedule for every single day, all year, not just the day before your book comes out. Remember, don’t market your book, connect with your readers.

A good basic schedule is:

  • 5 short posts on social media every day
  • 1 blog post a week
  • 1 toss-up (this can be a video, a guest post, a short story, a piece of fan fiction…whatever your heart desires)

Social: give it 30-45 minutes a day. Post 1 or 2 things of your own, and use the other 3 posts to share things from your community.

Blog: One post a week can do wonders for your sales. It keeps you top-of-mind with your readers, and gives you something to talk about on your social networks.

A note on blogging: A blog to help your book sales needs to be focused on your readers, not other authors, so while it’s great to share tips and personal writing experiences, make sure that you’re also writing about the things that you personally love, and that you write about. At AuthorRise, we call this “complimentary content.” If you’re a romance novelist, this could look like writing about your views on modern romance, love, etc. If you’re a non-fiction writer, it’s even easier, just share your research and process. Simple!

Toss-up: Treat it like a blog post, do something once a week or once every other week. This is your chance to explore new mediums, help out fellow authors, and take risks with your writing that you wouldn’t take in a book.

What channels

Which channels you use will depend on your experience, your subject matter, and your personality. The important thing is to make a conscious decision and stick to it. So, what’s your combination?

Ideally, you’re working with a subset of:

  • social media
  • personal website
  • podcasting
  • video,
  • in-person work

If you’re just getting started, pick two: a few social media outlets, and your blog. Why do you need to pick your channels and stick to them? Because if you’re jumping from Facebook to Twitter to Pinterest every week, or giving up on something too quickly, chances are you didn’t give it enough time to learn the ropes, grow your audience, and evaluate your progress. Before you switch from podcasting to Youtube videos, give it at least six months of focused effort.

Picking your content categories

This is a big one, and a tough one. If you want to create great non-book writing, you need to pick a few things that you’re going to write about. These are 3-5 big topics that form the foundation of all of your marketing. It’s important enough that if you can, write them down really big on a piece of paper, and put it up by your desk.

So what’s a content category? It’s a deep well of content that resonates with you personally, is appealing to your readers, and is something you can keep coming back to rather than having to decide every day “what am I going to write about?”

An example will help here: Say you write historical adventure novels. Your categories might be:

  • Interesting tidbits and facts picked up in research
  • True stories of real-life adventurers
  • Profiles of modern-day adventurers

These three categories alone should provide enough material for at least a year of blogging, and most importantly, are just the kind of thing that readers love when they need something quick to read.

Tracking

Finally we come to tracking. This one’s the most business-y of them all, but it’s also one of the most important. Set a few simple goals for yourself, and then keep track of how well you’re meeting them. If you don’t honestly measure your performance, how can you hope to improve?

Three basic goals that we always encourage with our members at AuthorRise are “posts per day,” “audience growth per week,” and “reader engagement.” (reader engagement is a measure of how many of your posts your readers are re-sharing or commenting on)

These three basic stats are easy to track and help you stay committed to doing a little bit every day rather than a big push at the last moment. And if you’re looking for a place to track all of that in one place, I can’t help but shamelessly plug my company AuthorRise!

Rinse and Repeat

Phew! We covered a lot of ground in a little space here, but the overall message is a simple one. Putting together a strategy for how you’ll grow takes a little bit of work, but doing the work to meet those goals every day adds up, just like your back-catalog. So keep at it, think long-term, and get busy!

Chris Weber, CEO, AuthorRise

chris@authorrise.com

authorRise

When Words Fail a Writer

Today Wannabe Pride welcomes Guest Blogger Raven Oak, author of Amaskan’s Blood!

There aren’t words for why I write.

No, really. There aren’t. Staring at this blank page, with its 15…wait, now 17 words, I’m intimidated because I don’t believe in writer’s block.

If I’m staring at a blank page and can’t put one word after another, I use tricks to work my way around the mental hurdle.

Yesterday, I was asked a simple question, “Why do you write?”

There aren’t words to answer this. Actually, that’s wrong, too. It’s not that there aren’t words–I mean, these are words–it’s just that there aren’t words to describe it. Words that would give it justice.

My three-year-old self was shy and quiet—that is, until I met my extended family. Age five found words rushing from my mouth like a stampede of wildebeests with little regard for the developing brain behind them. I knew better than to prattle ad-nauseam around my over-worked father, but if you plopped me down in a room full of people, I wouldn’t shut up.

I couldn’t shut up.

Sometimes I think that by trying to silence me, my father only exacerbated the issue. Like a flash flood, words poured forth. People’s laughter encouraged me to grow bolder with my storytelling. If I climbed a tree and stubbed my toe, by the end of the day, I’d climbed Mt. Rainier, stood five feet from the top before an eagle dive-bombed me and sent me stumbling head-over-end down the glacier until I had landed in the thick forests below with a broken leg. These elaborate tall-tales were the beginnings of my storytelling.

When I was seven, a neighbor asked the ever burning question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

“A writer,” I answered.

As I passed through childhood, the answer gained and lost a few friends, but one element never changed. I wanted to write.

Through most of elementary school, I would answer, “A writer, a teacher, and a musician.”

“Which one?” they’d ask.

“All three.”

In my teenage years, it simplified into a writer and musician. Three years of intense collegiate music school morphed the answer yet again.

Music wasn’t lucrative, so I became a teacher to pay my student loans. I enjoyed it, but twelve years later, I was no closer to my dreams of being a published author than before. While teaching four subjects, finding the time to write was nigh impossible. But I’m not a quitter, so I drove myself to exhaustion. Sixty hour work weeks were the norm. I nearly drowned in a twenty-one graduate hour semester in a mad dash for my master’s degree in computers.

They might as well have been pumping in the caffeine intravenously. And if that wasn’t enough, I decided I had to write. If I was going to make my way into the realm of professional writing, I needed a catalyst.

So I made a deal. Not with the devil, but worse—with myself.

If I could write an entire novel, from start to finish, then I was ready. I’d been a storyteller my entire life, but never before had I been a writer. Not really.

I was a hobbyist at best and a flirt at worst. Amidst the overtime and grad school, I planted my rear in the chair and focused. Thirty days later, I held a 90,000 word first draft to Amaskan’s Blood.

If I could write 90,000 words in a month that crazy, I could do anything.

But could I write for a living? Did I have the bravery to make the leap? The discipline to write every day, every month, every year? Or was this just another dabbling attempt?

I kept my deal. I quit teaching and moved across the country to Seattle to find out. For thirty years, I’d wished for this. The want—the need—the necessity never wavered and never changed.

I was born to write. I was born to tell stories. People cross through the city and set one foot in front of the other. I stand still in a crowded mass and embellish, spin, and elaborate on the stories moving through us all. I think about the future, the what-if, and the why. And when there are no words, I invent them.

At age five, they told me I could be anything. Even a writer.

And I believed them.

Contact info:

Raven Oak

Webpage: **  Twitter:  ** Facebook Author Page: ** Goodreads:

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Revising and Rewriting Your Manuscript – the Last Checklist You’ll Ever Need (until you find a better one)

 

Yes, you have to revise your manuscript. Many, many, many times. You can either accept that fact of life now or you can:

A. Send out (or self-publish) your first badly written, error-filled, dreck of a first draft and watch the bad reviews/rejection letters pour in and/or listen to the sound of crickets when professionals in the industry won’t even bother to dignify your hack of a manuscript with a response.

B. Give up now, deciding that becoming a fry cook on Venus would probably be easier than this whole writing thing.

If you’re still reading, that means you’re willing to do what it takes to be a real writer.
REWRITING IS WHAT MAKES YOU A REAL WRITER.
Hear it, learn it, live it.
Though hashing out a first draft of a novel is hard work, rewriting is truly what makes you a REAL writer. It separates you from the hacks. Anybody can write down a story, slap on a title, and rush to try to sell it. You’re better than that. You’re serious about your craft.
First drafts are often awful. That goes for New York Times bestselling authors and people who are just starting out. Rewriting is what makes any piece of writing great. No exceptions.
On the plus side, if you love writing, rewriting really can be fun. Stop rolling your eyes and making snarky comments. I promise, it’s not like when your math teacher told you that math can be fun. I don’t care if she did bring a pizza into class that one day. Fractions still suck. This is different. It’s really very rewarding to see your work get better and better. If you love your characters, think of rewriting as getting a chance to spend more time with them. Though going over each sentence, each paragraph, and each word a bunch of times can be exhausting, it’s a great feeling when you finally get it right. Trimming paragraphs, carefully selecting the right word, and developing that perfect line of dialogue will tighten your work and turn a rough draft into a piece of really great writing.
Do the work. It’s worth the effort.
If this sounds like too much work, do it anyway. If you still hate it, you can always quit writing and do the fry cook thing. The one thing you CAN’T do is get out of rewriting and revising your manuscript numerous times if you want to make it as a writer. Lots of wannabe writers choose to stay in denial about this fact for years before they finally give in to the truth and realize that, no matter how carefully they outline their story and characters ahead of time, rewriting is crucial to success as a writer. Lots of writers waste years of their precious time denying the necessity of rewriting their work. You’ll be way ahead of the curve if you skip those years and get right to work.
I said GET TO WORK!!
Checklist for Revising
** Wait at least two weeks after you finish a draft before you start revising.
** Read the whole novel from start to finish and record your gut reaction. Don’t censor yourself and try to be as honest as possible. Were there parts that bored you? Did a character get on your nerves or not seem fully fleshed out? Note what you think needs to be fixed but don’t try to fix it yet. Just jot down notes and keep reading.
** The next step is macro edits. You need to fix the big things. This can include fixing things in the plot that don’t make sense or are just not believable, strengthening the characters, and cutting parts of the novel that are redundant or just unnecessary. It helps to have a specific goal in mind for each rewrite. For example, for this first rewrite the goal is to strengthen the main character’s motivation. The next draft might be to fortify a specific relationship between two friends or maybe the goal is to add more suspense. The final revisions should be the ones where you really focus in on specific details like grammar and punctuation.
Beginnings
** Did you jump into the story right away or did you begin with lengthy description or boring exposition?
** Does your opening scene begin with a problem for the protagonist? Does it open *with* the protagonist? The story should almost always begin with the main character.
** Do we know what your characters are after and why? Remember that the more a character wants something, the more compelling the story will be.
** If at all possible, provide at least a hint of what is to come in the opening even if you can’t reveal the whole problem just yet.
** Cut out anything that doesn’t move the story forward or reveal character.
** Be sure to clearly describe your characters so your reader can see what you see. A few concrete details are better than a lengthy description.
** Remember that action can usually reveal character better than a physical description. When the phone rings, does the character rush to answer it or does he roll his eyes and ignore it? Little actions can say a lot about a person.
** Did you set the scene so the reader knows where the action is taking place?
** Reveal setting through the character’s eyes and viewpoint (whoever’s POV you are writing in).
** Be sure that important events in the story are revealed in a scene. A scene means people in action. You don’t want to gloss over the good stuff by simply telling us about it. Conflict is the heart of a good story and scenes are the only way to elicit an emotional response from the reader.
** The characters should enter the scene with a goal, struggle for it, and then end up either achieving little or none of it. Otherwise, why should we keep reading?
** Save most of the backstory, exposition, and character thought for the “sequel”, which follows the scene.
** Are you going too easy on your characters? Make it difficult for them to get anything they want.
** Make sure each chapter ends with something to keep the reader turning the pages.
POV
** The POV you chose should be clear and consistent throughout.
** With first person, try to sneak in some kind of physical description, though it can be tricky.
** If you chose Third Person POV, where you pick one character’s viewpoint, be sure you only show what this character sees, hears, feels, and knows.
** Multiple POV allows you to reveal action that doesn’t always take place within sight of the main character and enables the reader to experience the emotions of more than just one character. Be sure to make it clear when you are switching to another character’s POV, either by adding multiple spaces or starting a new chapter.
** Omniscient POV is when the writer sees and knows all and therefore can show the thoughts and feelings of all the characters. Be sure to be clear about whose consciousness you are in at any given time. Be wary of too much “head-hopping” when the POV changes too rapidly, which can be annoying and difficult to follow for the reader.
** With the Objective POV, you can only show what can be observed from the outside. Instead of she felt angry and bitter when her Cheetos got stolen, it would be she looked angry or she grabbed her Cheetos back and slammed the door . Objective POV is extremely limiting, but can be useful for stories in which revealing a lot of thought and emotion would give away the plot.
Dialogue
** Read dialogue out loud to make sure it sounds authentic and true to the character. Omit boring pleasantries and unnecessary chatter. Get to the good stuff, the conflict.
** Use said as your dialogue tag about 95% of the time, preferably before the character’s name. People rarely say things like said she in real life and words like grunted, hollered, and muttered can be distracting and unnecessary. Also, people can’t laugh and talk at the same time. Instead of she laughed, write she said, laughing.
** Be sure to use dialogue tags frequently enough so the reader is clear on who is talking.
Style and Language
** Limit adjectives – one is usually stronger than two or three. Sometimes none is the right number.
** Watch for adverbs, especially those ending in “ly”. She angrily and forcefully grabbed the umpire is not as strong as she grabbed the umpireor she grabbed the umpire with great force. Use adverbs sparsely.
**Choose a strong, specific noun or verb instead of several weaker ones. Consider the difference between the word ran and the words sprinted,dashed, darted, and fled. Make each word count.
** Active voice is usually best.  Watch for passive voice words like was,were, here, there, and that. There were two drunk guys building a pillow fort vs. Two drunk guys built a pillow fort.
** Keep an eye out for words that you tend to overuse. Do a search to find them and weed them out.
** Omit redundancies like screamed out loud or quickly dashed.
**Watch for “weasel” words that are unnecessary. These include words like about, actually, almost, basically, just, here, there, really, practically, simply, suddenly, utterly. Consider the difference between:When they finally arrived there, it was already too late. She had already gotten a tattoo of a unicorn vomiting a rainbow is not as good as When they arrived, it was too late. She had gotten the tattoo of a unicorn vomiting a rainbow.
** Avoid “filter” words that seek only to distance your reader from your character’s experiences. These include words like: see, hear, think, wonder, realize, watch, seem, feel or feel like, decide, sound or sound like. He felt hot and looked down. He realized his underwear was on fire.  Heat burned his face and he looked down. His underwear was on fire.
** Seek and destroy long passages of boring description.
** Don’t overuse the past perfect verb tense, as in would  or had. When writing a paragraph in this tense, begin in the past perfect : Right before his father had become a drag queen in Vegas, Robert would have long talks with him  when they would go to the mall to buy high heels, then switch to past tense – They mainly talked about makeup and glitter instead of continuing in the past perfect: They had talked mainly about makeup and glitter…
** Make each sentence as strong as possible, keeping in mind that the end is the most powerful part. “I’m leaving you for my chemistry professor,” he said as he put down his rapidly melting lab beaker is not as powerful as He put down his rapidly melting lab beaker and said, “I’m leaving you for my chemistry professor.”
**  Avoid overwriting. Trust that the reader is at least as intelligent as you are.  They will be able to figure out what you are trying to say without hitting them over the head with it.
** Reading out loud is the best way to hear the rhythm of the sentences.“The Phelps family sounded like bigoted idiots” might look okay but try saying it out loud. “The Phelps family sounded like ignorant bigots”sounds much better. At any rate, both sentences are true…
Grammar and Punctuation
** Carefully proofreading for typos and grammatical errors should usually be one of the final steps in revision. There’s no sense in spending a long time perfecting a paragraph only to cut the whole thing out later.
** Use a Comma:
– To separate items in a series: She gathered her baseball,her glove, and her dose of steroids.
– With a small conjunction, such as and, but, for, nor, yet, so, to connect two independent clauses, as in She liked the guy, but she kicked him in the head with her cleats.
– For introductory elements, such as Before joining the circus, he worked as a stock broker.
– With parentheticals (a parenthetical could be removed without changing the meaning of the sentence) He put on his floppy shoes, which were completely unnecessary, for his prostate exam.
– When both the city and the state name are mentioned together, it is considered a parenthetical element. We saw the Orioles kick some major Yankee posterior in Baltimore, Maryland, last summer.
** Use a Semicolon:
– To separate two main clauses that are not joined by a coordinating conjunction.  Those in glass houses who throw stones don’t need windows; those in stone houses who throw glass do need shoes.
– To separate main clauses joined by a conjunctive adverb, such ashowever, consequently, otherwise, moreover, nevertheless. Many people think it is necessary to go to college; however, it’s not so if your dream is work at Chuck E. Cheese.
** Use a Colon:
– For a summary or a series after a complete main clause: They were a ragtag team of misfits: a circus clown, a stock broker, an angry female baseball player, and a guy from Chuck E. Cheese.
** Use a Dash (–)
– For a short summary after a complete main clause: At the bottom of the backpack was a surprise—used chewing gum.
– In place of a pair of commas to set off words, phrases, or clauses that interrupt a sentence with additional–but not vital–information: Of all the well-known Muppets—Miss Piggy, Scooter, Rowlf, Fozzie—great as they were, Kermit made the most money.
Fine, Have It Your Own Way
This revision list was compiled from a bunch of different books and websites and I find it helpful for my revisions. If you’ve got a better way that works for you – go for it! Just make sure you rewrite and revise as many times as it takes to make your writing as good as it can be. Otherwise, brush up on your short order cook skills.

-Linda Fausnet

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You MUST Write Every Day! Unless You Can’t….

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Most how-to books, blogs, and writer gurus tell you that you absolutely MUST write every single day or you’ll never amount to anything as a writer. After all, practice really does make perfect.

Yeah, well, there’s no such thing as perfect, no matter how much you practice. While I agree that the most efficient way to become a great writer is to write as much as possible and to get your work critiqued so you can figure out how to improve, sometimes a little thing called life gets in the way.

I do write every single workday and I write on as many nights and weekends as I can. I rarely have a problem getting motivated and I write even when I’m not motivated. I get up between 5am and 5:30 every day to ensure that I get, at the very least, one hour of writing in every single day.  One rule of mine is that I write for one hour Monday through Friday – pretty much no matter what. My other rule is that I never HAVE to write on evenings and weekends unless I want to. Well, the truth of the matter is, I almost ALWAYS want to, but stuff like homework and kids and dishes and laundry get in the way to the point where I will get overwhelmed quickly if I write every night instead of taking care of those other things.

I almost never have a problem writing. I have a problem STOPPING. The hour between 6:30am and 7:30am seems to be the fastest of the whole day. It’s almost painful for me when I have to stop doing what I love after only one hour so I can spend the next 8 hours doing someone else’s bidding at my day job.

However…

I understand that not all writers feel this way. Many, many writers – GOOD writers – have trouble getting started or feeling motivated to write. This is normal and completely understandable. For sure, you will have to force yourself to write on a very regular basis if you want to have a chance at truly making it as a successful writer, but is not writing daily going to spell the end of your career before it begins?

Not necessarily.

There are two important factors that may determine how often you write:

How serious are you really about pursuing writing as a career?

How much time do you actually have available to write?

The answers for me are – I’m EXTREMELY serious and driven when it comes to my writing career and I don’t have a ton of time available, but I carve it out wherever and whenever I possibly can and this includes a firm daily writing schedule.

There are really a number of factors to consider when it comes to the time and energy that you choose to devote to writing. Do you want to self-publish and/or submit to agents as many books as you possibly can?  Or are you trying to finish one book just to see what happens? Are you writing a memoir for personal reasons – to tell your own story – but you don’t plan on making writing a career?  Are you independently wealthy or do you work a 40-hour work week? Are you single or are you married with three kids? Are you caring for an elderly parent or do you suffer from a disability that makes it more difficult for you to find the time and energy to write? Do you fit in three hours of television watching a day? Are you in school and studying for finals?

Each writer’s career trajectory is different and to make blanket statements that you MUST write every day or you’re a terrible writer and just don’t care about writing seems unfair to me.

Figure out what you really want to do and make a plan to do it. Life can legitimately get in the way sometimes, and it’s okay to give writing a break when you feel totally overwhelmed. If you’ve decided that you really want to write a book, all you have to do is just one thing.

WRITE THE BOOK.

In two months or two years – even in two decades. It’s all up to you.

– Linda Fausnet

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