Thursday, November 28, 2013

My Writer List of 25 Reason to Be Thankful

As a writer what am I thankful for today? I figured  I would write a holidayish post. In my life I am thankful for many things, and it is usually easy to create a long list. Let's see how I do regarding my writing life.
These are the thing that I am thankful for:
  1. Having the "right stuffing" of imagination.
  2. Readers who enjoy my writing.
  3. People in my life who support my writing, even if they don't read my books.
  4. Anyone who reads my books (especially who buys them.)
  5. Beta Readers.
  6. My editor.
  7. Health and ability to write so long and often.
  8. Spell check.
  9. The time I am able to scrape together to write.
  10. My characters.
  11. Resources for new writers out there regarding marketing, cover design, etc.
  12. Other writers support and insight on writing.
  13. Well written books.
  14. The FIND & REPLACE option in word. (For when I change a characters name or decide to move the scene to another city.)
  15. Self-Publishing and ebooks phenomenon.
  16. Automatic Save on my laptop.
  17. FanFiction.
  18. The time I am writing uninterrupted.
  19. Writer websites and forums.
  20. Anyone who reads my blog.
  21. My drive to improve, learn more about writing and reach more readers.
  22. A room full of book ideas in my head.
  23. The excitement of seeing my book in print for the first time.
  24. Reaching a life-long goal of writing a book.
  25. My dog for cuddling on my feet while I sit in my Lazyboy typing away on my laptop.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Life is Good with Beta Readers

As I wrote in my previous post, I am now using Beta Readers. It is great. I got lucky and found several readers who read my book quickly, and gave me valuable feedback. It also helps that they liked my book.

I did a lot of research on how to find them. Go to my post on finding beta readers. Despite all this research and efforts, I had a hard time scraping up some readers. I was successful through the World Lit Cafe  and Ladies Who Critique. Even though I posted several posts on many sites, I only had a few people to be Beta Readers. Three of them were through swaps. (Although I love reading, I liked their writing. I would rather have spent that time writing.) It was nice to help them out, too.

I got connected to five Beta Readers. In two weeks, four of them gave me pages of feedback. One of them is a friend of mine, three were unsure and unfamiliar with the lesbian romance genre, and one was an avid reader of lesbian romance.

What was great about this process?
  • They were very pleasant to work with.
  • Three of them are writers, so they know some of the things to look for.
  • They were fast readers.
  • I gave them parameters of what to look for and concentrate on, and they gave me feedback on it.
  • They gave me very specific feedback.
  • They liked my book!
  • Many of them were excited about the book.
  • Two people read the book in less than 24 hours. (I like to chalk that up to them really liking the book, but they just might be fast readers.)
My goal going forward is to gather more Beta Readers, and maintain the readers I have.

Learning Through the Writing Process

My first book Trail Swap I did not use any Beta Readers = Rookie Mistake
For my First book Trail Swap I did not use an editor (initially) = Worse than Rookie Mistake

So, let's just say that I am learning and hopefully my writing is benefiting from this learning. My next full-book is called Love's Autograph. I took a different approach.

  • I wrote the book in approximately three months.  Trail Swap was a 10 year effort.
  • I used an outline.
  • I took a break from it before proof reading it.
  • I used a format of trying to create some tension and conflict to make it interesting.
  • I stepped out of my comfort zone and wrote a romance novel.
  • I am using an editor from the beginning. I am still not using a professional editor yet. Just a grammar/spelling freak.
  • I am using Beta Readers.
  • I am putting my sites on ebook publishing and print from the beginning.
  • I am thinking about marketing from the beginning.
These are all changes that I think will result in a better more polished, better selling book, overall better quality book.

What have you learned since your first published book?
What have you changed in your writing process?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Trail Swap is out in Print!

I am excited to report that Trail Swap is out in print. It is available from Create A Space estore first. I will get more royalties if you buy from this site.

In 5-7 days it will be available on Amazon. I am so excited to see how the sales go, and to have people buy it. It took me three proofs to get to this point. Most of the learning curve came from the cover. Steph was a trooper and stuck with it. It looks great.

I can't wait to sign my first autograph. This has been a dream of mine for a while, and I am excited to see this take off. I have worked very hard on this book. I had friends and authors give me feedback. I have had strangers say mean things in reviews (okay probably not as mean as my skin is thin to criticism).

I had several friends and family members say to me that they would buy it but they don't  read on eReaders. Well here you go! No more set-backs!

Interview with Author Lyn Gardner

IceI have been connecting with authors whose work I admire. One book that I recently read was Ice by Lyn Gardner. I was not sure I would like it because the characters are Detective Inspectors. I am not a huge fan of crime novels. (I know I am one of few.) The book was not about detective work but about rival detectives Alex and Maggie. They are thrown together on an assignment when a plane crashes in a blizzard. I really enjoyed the story and Lyn Gardner's writing. Now she has a new book called Give Me a Reason. Here is what she had to say in an interview.

Tell us about yourself. Perhaps something not a lot of people know about you.
Most of the things I want people/readers to know about me, they already know. I’m a transplant from the northeast who settled in Florida about nine years ago. I love the game of golf, although my writing has limited my time on the links. I can also add to that that I love all animals, but I’m partial to dogs, which explains the three Yorkshire terriers running around my house. I’m absolutely, positively afraid of heights, and if I never see another spider, it will be too soon! Wine is my drink of choice, and I prefer dark, dry reds, but I’ll partake in a crisp white every now and then if the mood strikes. And most of my friends know that I can twist almost anything they say into something sensual. What can I’s a gift. ;)

 Tell us a little bit on how you started writing. I read in your Bio and blog that you started in FanFiction? What show dragged you into doing that?
I started writing after becoming hooked on a BBC show called Bad Girls, and subsequently, I became captivated by the fan fiction surrounding it. I read hundreds of stories, some good and some not so good, but they all had a common thread besides the TV show. They were all written by normal people who just wanted to tell stories. I have always written in my head, imagining scenes and dialogue, but it wasn’t until joining a few sites to read the stories they contained, that I found the courage to start putting my own words on paper. Much to my surprise, my first story was very well I just kept writing.

Tell us about Give Me A Reason? Why is it a must read?
That’s a difficult question for me to answer without (1) sounding egotistical and (2) I hate spoilers, so giving away any is not an option. Plus, I’d never presume that any of my stories are a must read, but I think many readers are discovering what I hoped they would. Give Me A Reason is not just a novel about’s a novel about life.

Its pages contain the story of a woman’s methodical journey to find herself again, or more importantly, to accept who she has become. She’s lost the ability to trust and with it hope, faith and the meaning of friendship are also gone, and the story deals with how she re-discovers what comes naturally to 

I’d say to anyone who wants to read about faith and hope, then read GMAR. If you want to read about love and family, then read GMAR. If you want to read about the power of love, or better yet, the power of hope, faith and love, then read GMAR. And if you also like a little “heat” with your read, and perhaps some angst, well then, by all means, read GMAR.

How long did it take you to write Give Me a Reason?
Originally, GMAR was a fan fiction which took me almost a year to write. When I decided to publish it, there were a lot of changes that had to be made, and I wanted to put to use some things I had learned since the original. The rewrite took an additional ten months, so I guess you can say it took a couple of very long years, but it was so worth it.

What was your inspiration?
In this day and age, it seems to me that too many people continue to measure normality and beauty based on someone else’s standards, and I believe that to be terribly wrong. When a person has a disability or a quirk, people stare or worse yet makes jokes, and that’s not me. Just because a person isn’t as strong as you, or as beautiful or as smart or as extemporaneous, that doesn’t make them any less normal. It just makes them – them.

We are all individuals and we all have issues, so I decided to write a story about a woman with issues. A woman so damaged by her past, she closes herself off from everything and everyone, and in reality who hasn’t done that to some degree in their life? Who hasn’t been afraid to take a step never taken before? Who hasn’t been fearful of rejection so much that they never ask the question? Who hasn’t looked in the mirror and not liked what they’ve seen? So, to answer your was my inspiration. 

What do you think makes a successful romance book?Romantics crave the “happily ever after. They adore the chase, chuckle at the conflict and perhaps swoon at the consummation, and when they reach the end of the book, if the writer has done their job, the result should be a three-way love affair involving the two main characters and the reader.For those who have found their soul mate, romance novels reaffirm what they already know. To love and to be loved is the most wonderful feeling in the world. And for those who are still looking for that one person who will complete them, romance novels give them hope that true love may be just around the corner.In my opinion, for a romance book to be successful, it needs to offer the reader the promise of a smile, but not just one that appears on their face. It needs to reach their heart and remain there long after the last word is read.

 I read in your blog that you turned down a Publisher (for Ice?) and decided to self-publish? Was that move successful?Most definitely! I walked away from every writer’s dream, and let me make it clear...I have nothing against publishers, but the one who offered me a contract wanted too much. For me to be proud of what I create with my words, they must be my words. The story must be the story I want to tell, not what a publisher believes should be told. I don’t want to fit into someone else’s mold...I want to create my own. 

I see that you have over a hundred reviews of Ice. How successful was that book?It all depends on how you measure success. If you measure it by the amount of books I’ve sold, with regard to Ice, I can tell you that I published it almost twelve months ago, and it still remains on Amazon’s Best Seller’s list in the genre of lesbian fiction. If you measure it by the amount of reviews and/or comments left by readers on Amazon, I can tell you that Ice has received over one hundred twenty reviews and 88% of them are four or five star. But, if you measure success by producing a story that makes people want to turn the page, want to read it again, and want to send me emails telling me how much they thoroughly enjoyed my book, well then...Ice was beyond successful. 

What marketing advice would you give new self-published authors?Oh, you are definitely asking the wrong person that question! I love writing, but marketing and self-promotion are incredibly hard for me. I’m not a person who can stand atop a soapbox and shout “Look at me, I wrote a book,” or better yet post ads of FB messages or tweets encouraging readers to buy my books. Instead, I truly depend on the comments left by the readers, some bloggers who have reviewed my books, and a few, like yourself, who have asked for interviews to help promote what I write. I think the best advertising is word-of-mouth, so I ask the readers at the end of every book to post a comment or review if they feel the book worthy, and luckily many have. Their words sell my words...and I believe that’s the way it should be. My opinion means nothing. Their opinion means everything.
Are you a full-time writer or do you have another job?Writing is still a part-time gig for me. I have a full-time job, and I go to work Monday through Friday like most everyone else, so all my writing gets done on nights and weekends.  

 What do you like best about writing?It would be easier to give you the list of the things I don’t like about it because that would be an extremely short list. :)For me, writing is the ultimate form of escapism because instead of losing myself in someone else’s world, I’m creating my own. How cool is that?If I had to pick what best I liked about writing it would have to be the putting all the pieces together and making them fit. For me, that’s where the fun really begins. I’ve got the concept of the story in my head, but now I have to create characters, choose locations, plan conflicts and then make sure I close every loophole along the way. That’s the challenge, and that’s why I adored writing Give Me A Reason.Leaving the subject matter and the length of the book out of the equation, I had never tried to tackle a story that contained so many characters, but the deeper I got into the GMAR, the more fun I began to have. There’s a scene in in the book where I have eleven people all interacting, and I’ve got to tell you, that was unbelievably fun to write. A challenge, most definitely, but when it was all said and done, I could not have been happier with the result.So bottom line...from start to finish, there really isn’t anything I don’t like about the process that goes into writing a book. Okay, so I’ve been known to whine a bit while waiting for my betas to return final comments, but trust me, I whine quietly. The rest of the time, I’m having a blast.  

What does the future hold for you as a writer? Any books in the works?I hope the future holds many more years of writing, and yes I have another book in the works. It’s in the very early stages though, so it’ll be awhile before I’ll be ready to release any details about it. :)  

Anything else you would like to say?I’ve said it before, but it is so worth repeating! I want to thank the readers for allowing me to live my dream. Most have been kind in their remarks and receptive to my stories, and for an independent author with no formal training, no editing department to back her up, and practically no self-promotion, I truly owe my success to them.I’d also have to thank those who beta for me. They unselfishly spend hours reading my stories, looking for typos, suggesting edits, and being the punctuation police. I couldn’t ask for a better group of betas, but more importantly, I couldn’t ask for a better group of friends.  

Check out Lyn Gardner's Books & Blog:

Sunday, November 10, 2013

What to Ask of Beta Readers

So, you found someone special to read your book or writing. Now what? Once you find a Beta Reader who wants to read your type of writing. It is important to let them know what you want from them.

1. Ask them what kind of Beta Reading they like to do. Some people like to do spelling and grammar checks. Others like to just give their opinion of the story. Others want to do it all.

2. Let them know what you would like from them. It is best to do this in written form so that they have something to reference while reading the writing.

3. Talk about a time frame. Let them know when you would like it back by, and see if that works for them.

Here is a list of topics that you can ask Beta Readers to focus his/her attention. Pick areas where you would like feedback. Be careful not to overwhelm or not direct them at all.

  • Is the beginning attention grabbing?
  • How is the character development?
    • Did you form a connection with the characters?
    • Anything confusing about the characters?
  • Clarity & Consistency. Is there anything unclear or inconsistent in the book? (Did the characters hometown change mid-book? Eye color? etc)
  • Anything distracting about the book?
  • What emotions are evoked?
    • Is it entertaining?
    • Funny? Scary? Sad? Exciting?
  • Did you lose interest at any point? What point?
  • Satisfactory ending? Did you see the ending coming? Was it too out of the blue or unpredictable?
  • Any holes in the story?
  • Any part unbelievable or far-fetched?
  • Anything that you are wondering about still?
This are just some topics to start off your Beta Reading adventure. Make sure to thank your Beta Readers. You can do this by giving them a copy of the finished product, give them a shout-out on your blog, Beta Reading for them
or mentioning them in your book.

Matching a Beta Reader to Your Writing

How many Beta Readers do you have? How did you find them? Better yet, if they are working out for you, how did you pick him/her? Matching a Beta Reader to your writing and you is a big feat. It is not only about finding someone who is reliable, and competent.

Here are some things to take into consideration:
  • Do they like your genre? If they don't like your genre, that could taint any feedback you get. They might hate your vampire book because they don't like vampires. They might like your battle scenes because they never read one before and don't know a good scene from a bad scene.
  • Do they give you the type of feedback you want? You might be looking for everything from grammar, consistency to plot feedback, and they only spellcheck the document. The Beta Reader might only talk about what they thought of the ending.
  • How fast is the turn around? If you need feedback within a few weeks, make sure your Beta Readers is on board with that expectation.
  • Too nice or too tough. A lot of authors state, "Be honest. Tell me the truth." Every author has a limit to the thickness of their skin. Ask for specific feedback, and take it or leave it. If a Beta Reader is too critical without any specifics to back it up, he/she might not be for you.
  • Related or Conflict of Interest: Your parent, sister, partner, or work colleague might not be the best person to Beta Read. Anonymous Beta Readers don't have to share a bed with you or a conference room.
Overall, be specific of what you want from your Beta Readers. See my Post on "What to Ask of Beta Readers."

Friday, November 1, 2013

National Novel Writing Month

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)o was started in 1999 by Chris Baty. There were 21 participants that first year. In 2010 there were 200,500 participants. Article About NaNoWriMo

The goal is to write 50,000 words from November 1st to November 30th. The goal is to get people to write, and keep writing. The point is to get people to write unedited and to free themselves from worrying if it is any good.

There are several websites out there for NaNoWriMo one is
There is even a writing camp! Yes great for a Wilderness & Writer Gal. Writing Camp
 A link for Young People
Some authors are giving away prizes as incentives Lindsay Buroker's Blog

I have heard a little bit about NaNoWriMo, but it was half-way through November before I would realize that I once again forgot. I am excited about the Writing Camp, and about getting hooked up with some sites.

I have a decision to make. I am currently in the middle of a book. If I finished it by writing 50,000 words would that count? I really like writing and wish to spend more time on it. We shall see how it goes. Ready, Set, Go!!