Following Through with a Plan

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Good morning! Yes, I’m back. It’s been a crazy couple of months. Between writing and tax season, I’ve been so busy. But I’m getting back on track and ready to get this blog back up and running. So, here’s to the rest of the year!

How many times have you made a plan and then didn’t go through with it? Maybe you set a book release and you couldn’t finish the book in time. It’s always good to make sure you write down your plan and try to keep to it. This keeps you from procrastinating. But what happens when everything is against you such as time, life, and all the things in between? Here’s a couple of tips for making things happen when you need them to…

I’ve been trying to finish my latest WIP and somehow I let my busy schedule take over. This is the first time in a long time that I didn’t meet my deadline. And yes, I procrastinated to the point that the book went to the back burner. As a writer, that hurts. 

Let’s talk planning. When you have a book idea, excitement bubbles up and you’re pumped. But there’s more to it than just the idea. You’ve got to focus on the idea and make sure that it can be fleshed out into a book. This step needs a plan. 

Look at it like framing a house. Without the frame, you wouldn’t have the house. A book plan is the same thing. Here are the steps to getting that book into the hands of your readers…

  1. The Idea – Yes, this is the exciting stage where you get the spark. You know what I’m talking about. It’s the moment you’re sitting there and all of a sudden you have the best idea for a new book or series. But not every book idea comes to life. I’ve got so many ideas written down that didn’t meet the muster. 
  2. The Outline – Ok, I know some of you are more of a seat of the pants writer, but let me tell you, an outline can be the make or break for some ideas. When I have an idea, I sit down and figure out how it can go. Even if it’s just a simple, beat by beat outline, it helps you to know if you can make it work. 
  3. Flesh it out – Now that you have the idea and the simple outline, you can go back and give it some flesh. Fill it out and see if you have enough to make it a book. This is the point of no return or return to the pile of idea. Here is where you make sure that the idea can go the full gauntlet or get chopped off before it’s even finished.
  4. Scheduling – Here’s where you need to be honest with yourself. If you think your idea can go 25,000 words, don’t schedule a release in 25 days. Maybe you can get it written in 15 days, but there’s so much more that goes into it than writing it. Make sure that you schedule every step of the writing process. I had to learn this the hard way. Here’s a couple of items to think about when scheduling: A. Cover design B. First Draft C. Revisions D. Read Through E. Editing F. Prerelease Marketing G. Final Draft, and this is just a few steps.
  5. Writing – Now, here is the fun part. You finally get to put words on the page. The first draft isn’t perfect, so don’t expect it to be. Get the bones on paper, then go back and fill it in. 
  6. First Draft Read Through – This stage is fun. The bones of your book are there. You’ve finished the first part of the process which to me, can be the hardest part. This is the stage where you’ll know it the idea will actually make it. If the outline didn’t catch it, the first draft will.
  7. Edit, Edit, Edit – Now, read it out loud as you edit. This is important before it goes to your editor. My editor has asked me before if I even read it before I sent it to her. LOL! 
  8. Cover Design – This process for me comes first, but a lot of writers don’t design theirs until this stage. Sometimes the cover comes to me with the idea. Make sure the cover represents your work. Don’t do something to deceive your readers. And simple still works… 
  9. Marketing – Plan your marketing early in the process. Set a budget and schedule some prerelease ads. You don’t have to spend a bundle to get results. Just make sure to stagger your ads. Don’t overwhelm yourself. 
  10. Release Day – Make this a party. Setup a blog post. Send out Tweets, Facebook posts, Pinterest, TikTok blurbs, and any other social media you use. Make it fun and relaxed. 

I know this was a little crazy, but putting a book out to readers needs a plan. And my way may not work for everyone, but it does for me. Hope it helps in some way.

 

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

 

 

Writer’s Block… It happens!

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Good morning! Yes, I said it. If you plan on being a writer, at some time or the other you will have writer’s block. And the worst part is, it normally comes when you are on a deadline or a wordcount needs to be met. It’s never during a convenient time.

But, what can you do when it threatens to sideline your work? Well, I tend to sit back, take a breath and focus on something else. If I’m stuck at a particular place in my manuscript, then I skip ahead. Sometimes that works to get the creative juices flowing.

Other times I go back and read over what I’ve written. It can make the story come alive again. Or even I will go to the next story I’ll be working on and at least work on the outline.

To me, Writer’s block is like when your mind freezes up. So, you have to jolt it back to reality. That’s why I keep doing something with my writing. Whether it’s a step ahead, a step back or a step in a different direction, I make it count.

That’s why I love having a detailed outline to go by. When I get stuck, I have it as a reminder of where the story is headed. And if I need to go ahead to another chapter or place in the book, I can without getting lost in the details. Then once the block has passed, I can get back to where I left off.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

Edit until it hurts…

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Why does editing hurt so bad? For one thing, you’ve put your blood, sweat, and tears into the work, so yes, it will hurt. The other thing is, it’s hard to cut out what you think needs to be there.

But I have some advice, and I had to take this advice myself. In order to make the work the best it can be, then you’ve got to trim the fat. And believe me, it hurts, but once you’ve done it, you’ll see the better product. Sometimes I look at my editor and shake my head. But, once I see it in another light, then I’m better with it.

So, here is what you need to tell yourself, it only makes it better. Yes, you will have to do this multiple times.

Repeat after me… It only makes it better!

Now, let me tell you the worst thing that can happen, and this happened to me. One of my previous editors told me to get rid half a chapter and I had a meltdown, but once I took the plunge, I saw it worked and flowed better. And in the end, that’s our goal, to make our work flow. If it doesn’t, then the reader won’t enjoy the read.

So, edit without mercy and keep the tissues close as you do.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

Wednesday giggles…

Have you ever been writing and went back to read over what you’d written? Sometimes you have to sit back and go, what the heck was I thinking…

I had one of those moments just now. It was a LOL moment. I have no clue what I was trying to say, but I had to delete almost a whole paragraph.

That’s why we edit, edit, and edit some more. Then we send to an editor, then edit some more. Sometimes I really think I’m drunk when I write some of my words. But, as I’ve said a thousand times, it’s a rough draft people.

So, happy Wednesday people…

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

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Covers…Edits…Excitement

It’s Friday! Plain and simple, I’m ready for the weekend. It’s been a busy week in the accounting office, along with the fact that I’ve had a summer cold which has made put me in slow motion, so my writing has suffered, but hopefully this weekend I’ll make it up.

As for my book Tuscany, which is in the hands of Solstice Publishing, is moving forward. I turned in the last of the heavy edits this week. I’ve learned a lot during these edits. My editor from Solstice has been wonderful. She actually made it a learning process. Her comments were inspiring and some were even comical, which made it a fun time, which is unusual for editing.

Yes, I’ve seen the cover that has been designed for Tuscany, but I can’t share it yet. As soon as I’m given the go ahead, I’ll be sharing it. Let’s just say, I’m excited. The book is beyond the first editing process and now will go on to the run through to make sure that everything was addressed before it goes to publication. So, hope to have some publishing news soon!

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

 

Start to Publish…

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Good Tuesday morning! I hope all is well with you. As for here in Georgia, it may be Spring, but someone forgot to tell the weather. It’s chilly again…

As for my writing, things are going well. I have several manuscripts in various stages of production. You might ask, what stages are you talking about? Well, here’s a simple guideline that I follow as I bring a manuscript full circle into publication.

1: Of course, first things first, the idea. Sometimes the idea for a book can happen months before I even start the first page of the manuscript, but when the idea comes, I put it down on paper, if not I’ll lose the excitement of that moment. I have a small notebook that holds my story ideas, some have come to be and others have incorporated themselves into other stories.

2. As you know from previous posts, I do an outline. It’s basic, but it leads me through the story, the bones, so to speak. I’ve told you before, most stories come to me in whole, or large lumps of information. The quicker I get that outlined, the quicker the story can come alive.

3. Now it’s time to schedule it into my calendar. Right now, I’m scheduled through the end of the year with stories flowing over into 2017. This way I know in the back of my head what I need to finish on this manuscript in the future, like blurbs, covers and such.

4. Once it’s time to start the manuscript, I sit down with my outline and notes from thoughts I’ve had along the line. Even as I work on other books, things pop up in my mind that would work with other works. That’s when I pull out the outline from my portfolio and jot down the thought for future reference. That way I don’t lose the moment.

5. It’s time to write. This is when I get in the structure and bones of the story, fleshing out the outline points and filling in the characters as I go. This is also when Scrivener is my best friend. All of the characters are lined up down the left of my screen, reminding me of names and people involved. This part of the writing is fast and unedited, very unedited. It’s the write by the seat of my pants, knowing I’ll go back later to correct.

6. Ok, so I have my rough, rough, rough draft ready, now it’s time to go back and fix the many errors, misspelled words, horrible grammar and left off punctuation that leads my editor to want to plot my murder. Now it’s ready to go to her for the red pen, this is the scary part!

7. As I wait for the edited manuscript to come back, I’ll work on covers, blurbs, advertising and setting up the pre-order for the book that’s being worked over.

8. Now the manuscript is back, needing some work and ready to be corrected. I input the changes, make additions and get it formatted. I add the front and back matter, then scan back through to make sure I’ve checked everything. Oh, and just for giggles, I go back through, doing a spellcheck. I’m human, I forget stuff.

9. Wow, it’s now ready for publication! This is the moment an author sweats profusely, hoping you haven’t left off anything major, forgotten to correct something and hope upon hope that your readers love the book you’ve poured your heart into.

This is why most people that say, ‘I could write a book and publish it, it’s too easy’, they don’t ever publish a book. A book doesn’t just appear when you have the thought, it’s a process, one that needs to be taken seriously. So many authors don’t take it seriously and when they hit send, it’s missing something or hasn’t been thought through. Take it seriously, it’s your reputation as a writer.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

P. S. Don’t forget Lily comes out the 27th. Get your preorder now…

Lily Release ad!

Picking the tree…

My son took me to the local Christmas tree farm Thursday. It was cold, but we had a long walk to the tall trees. We actually had an amazing time, laughing as we went from tree to tree, trying to find the perfect Hurt family tree.

As we walked among the trees, looking at aspects of the trees, it reminded me of editing a book. When we look at our manuscript, it’s with anxious eyes. We search for the holes in the story, like the holes in the tree that ornaments and lights can’t hide.

Then, of course, we look for the best branches to hold our ornaments. Same way with editing our story. We have to make sure that it’s a strong story and doesn’t fall off the edge of interesting. That’s a hard one, because we’re close to the story and love it. My editor assistant always finds these easily.

Oh, and don’t forget the straight stump! If you get home with a curved stump, well, it’s a disaster. If your manuscript doesn’t get the story straight, if it curves away from the story line, you’ll lose the reader.

So, today I’ll finish decorating my tree and yes, I’ll post many pictures. This is my favorite time of year, so my house looks like it threw up Christmas (my son’s words, not mine). I love my Santas, Snowmen, Angels, and Christmas village. So, I deck the halls!

As always, Great writing and May God Bless You…

Happy Saturday!

 

Learning from others…

Good Monday morning! It’s drizzling rain here in Georgia, but that’s alright, we need it. Also since it’s Monday it kind of meets with my mood.

Today I want to talk about how you train as a writer. Some people say, ‘it’s easy to write, anyone can do it’, but that’s not the case. Writing takes more than you think to get from start to finish. You can sit down and write an idea for what you want, but it takes more than just an idea to get the full story. I’ve had ideas before and thought they’d be good, but they didn’t have enough filler to actually make a book.

I like to study what my favorite authors do. You may be asking what I mean, well it’s quite simple. I read lots of books in the genre I write. As I read, I’m looking at the sentence structure, paragraph lengths, the setup of the characterizations and the way the book is brought to the end. It’s amazing what you can learn from doing something you love, reading.

Then of course I read posts from other authors, writing magazines and even study courses. So, do you still think it’s all that easy? I’ve learned more English in the last three years that I’ve been publishing, not just writing. English skills are very important when you’re writing. Hey, I was thinking backwards for a while, but once you get into the business you realize, it’s more than just words on paper.

Several authors I follow have businesses that help other authors. All authors should want to help each other. It’s amazing the things you can learn from other authors about their own mistakes and how to correct them. I also join many Facebook writing groups, which just by reading them daily I can learn so much. Try it, you won’t regret it.

So, do you learn from other authors? If you’re struggling with something in your writing, there’s always someone out there or an article that can help you out.

As always, good writing and May God Bless you….

Editing, it’s very important!

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Good Tuesday morning! It’s nice to be back in a regular schedule. Vacations are really nice and relaxing, but then I start losing track of my days and that makes my brain turn to jelly. Not good when I’m on two book deadlines, and have accounting to catch up on.

While on vacation I downloaded three books to my Kindle to read while at the beach. I was so excited about one of the books, but as I started the first page things didn’t sound right. I struggled through a couple more pages and put it down, thinking I was sleepy. I picked it up the next day and more of the same. The story line was really great, but the writing or rather the editing was bad.

I’ve heard authors say they found books that were hard to read because of the poor reading, but usually I can muddle through. This one wasn’t like that and the sad thing is the book is by an author that I really like and have read before. It has me thinking really hard about my editing process. I’m constantly reading articles about editing and writing which helps keep me educated on the craft. This book would have been covered in red marks and comments. But I really wanted to find out what happened to the two characters. Eventually I’ll pick it back up and try again.

Some may ask if I plan on putting a bad review on this book. The answer is no! I don’t believe in downgrading an author, especially one that’s written some great books. It’s very possible that this book was downloaded from the wrong file. I did that with a reviewer one time. Now that was embarrassing. I might send her a email and inquire if she’s checked the finished and published product. I just don’t like to be negative to my fellow authors. We’re all in this craft together and should support one another, not tear one another down.

So, do you make sure that your editing process is what it needs to be? Also, make sure if you’re paying an editor, double check their work too. Everyone can miss something, even the experts.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

Just like editing a book, only a lot messier!

Saturday we started pulling up the carpet in our home and replacing it with hardwood. Let’s just say it’s been interesting. You don’t know how dirty carpet it until you pull it up. I was astounded to say the least. Twenty one years of living life were ground into the floor and no matter how much you’ve vacuumed and cleaned, it’s never clean enough.

Here’s some pictures of the finished den, still have kitchen, dining room and three bedrooms, yikes!

fireplace floor 2 floor

As I was ripping up the carpet and cleaning up, I realized that it’s similar to editing a book. How you might ask? Well, think about it this way, you make a draft. That’s the starting point, the place you’ve poured your heart into with sloppy abandon. You know the first draft is always riddled with holes, bad grammar, spelling issues and much more, like the dirt I found.

Then of course you dig in and start the editing process, much like the moment the broom and shop vac start clearing out the ground in dirt. Once you’ve got that first draft cleaned up, it’s time to lay in the shiny, squeaky clean new floor, uh I mean manuscript.

Now the work is done and it’s ready for publication or is it. Have you done everything you need to do? Even with the newly laid floors, we had to run a dust mop over the top and put down a little finishing molding. The same is needed for your new manuscript. It’s important to make sure you’ve read, reread and read out loud. This is your showplace and it’s got to be as close to perfect as you can get it.

So, what have you been up to lately?

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

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