Thursday, July 24, 2014

Words With Kate Wrath

Today I am talking with author Kate Wrath as she tells us about the world of writing. To learn more about her, check out her Website, or find her on Amazon, Goodreads, Google+Facebook or Twitter.
E (E, #1)
What have you been working on?
I have recently published E, the first book in a dystopian series. It's a dark, gritty story about a girl who has lost everything-- memory included. She's dropped into a harsh world where she has to scramble for her life, but she uses her head, does what she needs to do, and survives. Of course, the story is about so much more than that. The real story is about finding identity, friendship, and love. It's an emotional roller-coaster ride as well as an adventure and survival tale. Really, it's all about the characters. I tend to write character-focused stories.
I'm currently writing the second book in the series, and hope to have it out by late October/early November. This book will continue the journey and take it to a new place with new character additions. It's quite different than the first book, but I think my readers will enjoy it just as much. 

Are you self-published? 
Yes, I am a self-published author. It was a very difficult decision to make, but ultimately, what convinced me was the mass exodus of traditionally-published authors from traditional publishing. I have every confidence in my writing-- I've been writing for most of my life, and this is the first time I have decided I'm ready to put it out there and let people see it. So you won't find something half-done or by-the-seat-of-my-pants. For me, self-publishing was about retaining my rights and having full creative control. It's mine. Why I should pay most of my profit to some Big Brother company, when the new landscape of publishing says I don't need them? There is a good handful of successful Indie authors out there, and it's growing. I plan on joining them. 

Do you have any favorite resources you go to for help, inspiration or know-how?
Not so much for those... but as far as resources for Indie writers who are trying to do everything on their own, on a budget? Here are two great tools I wouldn't want to be without (both are free):

Inkscape:  This is a free, open source vector graphics program. Have any art skills? Run through some tutorials (it takes a while to learn), and never pay someone to make your book cover again! I use it for tons of stuff-- my website mostly, but anything I need visuals for.

Ywriter:  This awesome little free program lets you organize your book into chapters, keeps updated backups, and has a treasure trove of features to make your author-life easier. Love it.
Kate Wrath
What has been the most difficult aspect of writing?
The marketing and promo! I don't find writing difficult. Sometimes it can be heavy or draining, but I am in the zone usually, when I'm writing. It's the being-an-author part that's hard. All the social media takes up a lot of time that I could be writing. I enjoy it to some extent, but I find that my productivity has gone way down since I published my novel and started working on getting people to realize it exists!

Also, to actually focus on the writing aspect, I have so many stories in my head, and my thoughts are always swarming with all the details of my stories. Not just the book I'm writing now, but the next one, and the next one. It's hard to keep track of them all, and writing notes is just not the same as writing it down. So I have this perpetual need, shall we say, to write it all down. It's honestly enough to make a person crazy. So I sometimes exist in this state of frenzy where I just need, need, need to get it all on paper before it goes away. It makes it hard for me to focus on other things. And then, sometimes are worse than others. Now is particularly bad because my series is really fleshing out in my mind, and that's a lot to write. Plus I have another series on the back burner. I have trouble sleeping at night because I can't switch it off. I'm writing in my head. And then, I'm up at the crack of dawn, because the second some little noise wakes me, I'm at it again! I always feel that there's not enough time to write it all. I feel time ticking away, me getting older. I feel like I need to do it all right now.

What has been the best part about being an author?
Well, for me the reward has always been writing. I always knew I wanted to publish, but still, the writing was for me. I looooove writing, and if I won a bajillion dollars today, I'd probably still be clicking away on my laptop tomorrow morning at 5. That said, I really didn't realize how amazingly, heart-stoppingly awesome it would feel to get those comments from my readers. I guess everyone likes praise, but it's not that. You put so much into your writing-- deep things you probably don't even know. When someone else connects with that, it's kind of like making a good friend. It's people understanding each other on a meaningful level. So yeah, when my readers take the time to tell me they connected with my writing, it's like Christmas. I like to think as an author I'm giving them a gift, and when they tell me it meant something to them, they're giving me a gift back, too. Maybe this doesn't make sense to anyone else, but it makes sense to me. 

What advice can you share with us?
You have to be stubborn. Take hold of your dream by the throat, and shake, and don't let go for anything.

Monday, July 21, 2014

When To Give Your Story A Trim

Just like an outgrown hairstyle in need of a trim, your manuscript will benefit from routine cuts. Belive it or not, not every word you write will be golden. I know I was shocked to find some real stinkers in my writing too. But they exist and need to be pruned.  So here is a list of some things to trim from your manuscript.
1. Opening exposition. Opening a chapter or scene with a long stretch of exposition can slow down your work and bore your readers. Take a look and see if any or all of it can be cut or at least moved.

2. Info dumps. Characters taking the time to explain what is happening to them should be eliminated. Your characters should never recap. If the reader has already read it, don't make them read it again.

3. Extra explainations. Your characters shouldn't have to explain to one another what has already happened. 

4. Remove moralizing. Don't tell the reader what your story was all about. Remove anything that comes off too preachy. Trust the reader to draw their own conclusions.

5. Cut back on the adverbs. Do a search for ly and take a look at how many adverbs you have. A few go a long way and too many makes your work look amateurish.
These are just a few ideas on how to trim your manuscript into a leaner, meaner, reader pleasing work.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Words With Nicola S. Dorrington

Today I am talking with author Nicola S. Dorrington as she tells us about the world of writing. To learn more about her, check out her Website, like her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter as @NSDorrington.

What have you been working on?

My latest novel, Chasing Freedom, is released this month! Werewolves, vampires and witches, oh my!

Are you self-published? 
I am self-published. I made the decision for a number of reasons, but mostly because I like keeping creative control. Big publishing houses are great for marketing, but they also remove a little bit of that control. I like having the final say on everything I produce. 

Do you have any favorite resources you go to for help, inspiration or know-how?
Wiki! It's not always accurate, but it will always give me a general idea that I can then follow up with further research. As for inspiration, I find that everywhere, but funnily enough Facebook provides me with a lot of inspiration. Quotes people post, pictures etc, a lot of them inspire me, or spark ideas.
What has been the most difficult aspect of writing?
Nothing about writing is difficult (apart from editing!) but when it comes to publishing it's the self-promotion definitely. It takes a special kind of person to feel comfortable telling the world how amazing they are!

What has been the best part about being an author?
Hearing back from people who have read the book. Another author once told me I should never read reviews, but I still do. Even if they're bad ones I still love seeing people responding in some way to something I've created.

What advice can you share with us?
The only way to become a writer is to write.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Dialogue: Keeping It Real

I love writing dialogue. It is one of my favorite things to do as a writer. Over the years, I gathered some great advice on writing dialogue and want to share that advice with you. So here are some of the greatest bits of know-how I have come across.
Don't let your characters speak like they know what is going to happen.  They should discover things right along with the reader and their speech should reflect that.

Become the character. Get inside his or her head. Think like them and try to speak like them. It will come across in your dialogue.

Make every word count. Cut out the fluff and summary.

Add conflict and tension to conversations.  A little trouble goes a long way to making more exciting conversation.

Just get it down first. Don't over think it. Get it all written down before you start worrying about if it is any good.

Be careful about adverb tags.  Most of the time, he said and she said are good enough.  Sometimes, you can throw in an adverb, but a few of those go a long way.
Make your characters sound real and not like cliches. If you don't know any farmers from the deep south, you might want to be careful about how you portray their speech patterns or casting your novel full of them.

Read your dialogue out loud to make sure it sounds natural.  Better yet, have someone else read it out loud to you.

And finally, if it is good, leave it alone. Don't mess with what is already great.

Do you have any tips to share on dialogue? 
Please share and let us know!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Words With Monet Polny

Today I am talking with author Monet Polny as she tells us about the world of writing. To learn more about her, check out Goodreads or get some background about her novel here.
What have you been working on?
Last summer, I finally got a concrete idea that I could work with as a story idea and that soon became my first published novel: The Lincoln Spy. It's the first in a time traveling series of four books, based around the adventures of two teenagers: Amelia Raht and Otto Ray.

Are you self-published? 
I'm self-published because I've seen how frustrating it is to work so hard, for so long, on what a person can call their finest accomplishment; then have an editor reject it. I didn't want to go through that experience for months and years and I knew about self-publishing on I didn't want to hear "no" enough times from people older than me to discourage me from writing again.

Do you have any favorite resources you go to for help, inspiration or know-how?
I always take any writing classes I can in school, from persuasive to creative based, just to build up my skills each year. For inspiration, it depends on the situation. If I'm writing an action scene, I can't sit still to safe my life and will find myself dropping my pencil and wondering around the room. Consistent changes of scenery I find are the most helpful, unless a particular setting works best all-around for the writer. Comedies and reading, I love all genres, assist me best with instant creativity.
What has been the most difficult aspect of writing?
The most difficult part of writing anything, but especially something as lengthy as a novel, is finding perseverance when plot ideas seen a mess or the ideas aren't coming out at all. Inspiration doesn't pop up for authors whenever they want it, so loving your characters through and through is ideal. I found out with writing The Lincoln Spy on four hundred handwritten pages that knowing your own characters isn't always flawless either. The characters that were the complete opposite of who I usually knew how to create were not easy to perfect. Those characters I learned the most from and took up more of my time, but they rewarded me with a laugh on each page.

What has been the best part about being an author?
The feeling of tremendous, incomparable achievement is the best prize of finishing a novel. Having my friends and family congratulate me, ask me questions and ask advice is a bonus. I feel like I've become what I've always hoped to be.
What advice can you share with us?
Each writer is strange, but it’s not impossible that their story is a kind of perfect to an unknown reader out there.

Monday, July 7, 2014

What To Do When Your Novel Goes Wrong

It has happened to all of us.  We have a great idea, start writing like crazy, then it all just stalls.  Try as we might, we lose our mojo and can't get it done.  So what now? Whatever you do, don't give up! Instead, try a few of these ideas.
1. Take a short break with a good book. Read a favorite novel and do it with a pen in your hand. Take note of the parts you love and write down why you love them. Then think about how you could incorporate those ideas into your own novel.

2. Remember why you started writing the novel in the first place. Think about what inspired you. Think about what urged you to get that story on paper. Use that inspiration to get you going again.
3. Decide what has stalled you. Is it the characters? Try interviewing them to get inside their heads. Is it the ending? Write a few different endings just to get them out there. In other words, take what has stalled you and figure out a way to write about it, even if what you write never ends up in the finished novel.

4. Read your manuscript. Start from the very beginning and as you go, pay attention to what is good and why it is good. Take notes on what you might want to expand upon and clarify.
5. When in doubt, add some trouble. Think about the quote from Raymond Chandler. "When in doubt, have a man come through the door with a gun in his hand." Make a character's life messy. A mess is always inspiring.

Hopefully, these few tips will help you get your novel back on track. 
Do you have any tips? 
Please share! 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Words With Harry James Krebs

Today I am talking with author Harry James Krebs as he tells us about the world of writing.  To learn more about his work, check out on his Website, Blog, or follow him on Facebook or Twitter.
Vengeance is Mine (Benjamin Tucker, #1)
Are you self-published?
My novel Vengeance is Mine is published through an independent publisher. But my first novel, Fractured Persona, was self-published. I attempted to secure a literary agent who would sell my work to the large publishers. When this failed, I entered Fractured Persona into some writing competitions. The novel won silver finalist medals from the 2012 Next Generation Indie Book Awards for “First Novel Over 80,000 Words” and “Best Mystery”. I also won a bronze medal from the 2012 Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPY) for “Best Adult Fiction E-Book”. At this point, Peak City Publishers in Apex, North Carolina, picked up the rights to Fractured Persona plus the first three entries to my Benjamin Tucker mystery series including the first entry, Vengeance is Mine.
The positive with self-publishing is that the author has complete artistic control. Hence, the work is solely the creation of the author with no interference from publishers or editors. The drawback to self-publishing is that it is almost impossible to get a self-published book into what’s left of the large booksellers like Barnes and Noble or Books a Million.
If an author decides to go the route of self-publishing, he or she has to accept that sales of printed books will be almost non-existent. However, a decent profit is still possible through the selling of eBooks.
Do you have any favorite resources you go to for help, inspiration or know-how?
A support group always helps. For writing help and inspiration, there’s nothing like interacting with other writers. I am blessed that, during author events, I have made close friends with several other writers. We tend to feed off of each other sharing support, encouragement, and understanding. We participate in constructive feedback critique sessions, and sometimes serve as beta readers for each other.
My main resource for technical and legal research is the internet plus the Forensics and Criminal Justice text books available from CRC Press. Much of my law enforcement practice and procedure I’ve found from documentaries on TV.
Finally, I get my greatest initial editorial guidance from my wife. The woman is a genius who has a knack for examining the intricate details of both the plot and the character traits. Without her, I would be lost.
What has been the most difficult aspect of writing?
My most troublesome time in writing is when I need to develop a scene where two of the characters are engaging in sexual contact. I wrote a fairly explicit sex scene in my first book, Fractured Persona. By the time I was finished with it, I was a nervous wreck. I came away thinking, “Maybe we should avoid this in the future, and write around it.”
Then there’s marketing. I can be lazy here so I need my wife to push me in the right direction. She’s pretty clever when it comes to marketing. I, on the other hand, couldn’t sell free money. So she’s the genius that keeps this part of the ball rolling. We use a combination of social media including Facebook and Twitter, my author website, professional reviews, writing competitions, guest blogging, and book tours. I also attend as many live author events as will accept me.
The biggest challenge for me personally is keeping my morale up. This is a very tough business to break into. When I hit roadblocks in my pursuit of professional acceptance, I sometimes feel like I’m staring a dead hog in the butt. And sometimes it looks like a really big hog.
Fractured Persona
What has been the best part about being an author?
I get most of my enjoyment from creating interesting, believable characters and situations. When a reader tells me that he or she stayed up all night because they couldn’t put my book down, that makes all the effort and expense worthwhile. There is nothing more gratifying than knowing that a reader has truly enjoyed reading one of my stories.
What advice can you share with us?
First, make certain that you’re writing because you enjoy writing. Do not expect fame and fortune because, as I said earlier, this is a tough business to break into. Aspiring authors should realize that it’s going to be a difficult and complicated road to gain any form of acceptance in the industry. It is nearly impossible to make a decent living from being a novelist. I would bet that there are more large-jackpot lottery winners than there are highly successful authors of novels—businesswise. Make certain that, initially, you have a means of financial support. This will eliminate the stress of needing to be profitable within a specific time frame. Writing is difficult enough without that extra burden.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Why Characters Need Backstory

Backstory.  It is often what makes a character believable.  Without it, your characters can fall flat.  Backstoryfills in the gaps.  It should give a character history and, if done correctly, that history will make your reader care. A series that makes excellent use of backstory is Harry Potter.
The first Harry Potter book opens with a healthy dose of backstory. The first chapter is titled, The Boy Who Lived.  It gives the reader just enough backstory for the reader to care about what will happen to this remarkable boy.
The decisions and actions of a character should be a reflection of that backstory.  In Harry Potter, the reader gets just enough backstory about Harry as a young boy living in a Muggle house.  That life then explains and justifies how he looks at the wizard world with eyes of wonder.
Backstory needs to be balanced.  A little goes a long way.  For instance.  We don't have chapters and chapters of Harry's life on Privet Drive.  But we get enough to realize it sucked.  We also don't have endless detail about the night he arrives on Privet Drive.  Instead the mystery slowly unfolds throughout seven books.
Backstorkstory is especially essential in a series.  Even though the plot concludes with every novel, it is the backstory that is woven through and drives the rest of the series. 
So when crafting your characters, be sure to include some backstory.