What Do You Mean I Have To Revise?!

writing-the-revision-processRevise. It feels like a four letter word. Especially when you’re riding the high of finishing a first draft. Now I know some authors love to revise, and some even look forward to it. Only for me it can be extremely difficult. I understand it’s all part of the writing process, and I adore how revisions can transform a story, but ugh. In order to fix a manuscript you have to break it first. That stings. A lot.

So how do you destroy your baby and the characters you’ve most likely fallen in love with? Where in the world do you start?

First, you need a plan. But not every plan works for every author, therefore I’ll share what works best for me.

  • After completing a first draft, I like to take a step back. Some authors only need a day, but I need much longer. Weeks, if not a couple of months of separation. It’s good to have that time away so I can come back with fresh eyes.
  • Next I do a read through. As I’m doing this, I’m taking notes on any discrepancies I find, scenes I’d like to change, pacing problems and details I plan to add. I’m also paying attention to the Three Act structure. Do events fall near where they should? Do I even want them to? I’ve been told it’s a good thing to learn the writing “rules” but it’s also okay to break them.
  • I’m on alert for info dumping. Am I including too much back story? Is it possible to weave it in any better? And most importantly – do I even need it at all? Do the details I’ve included pertain to the present story I’m telling? Remember: readers want a book to move forward, not backward. It’s best to cut when you can.
  • Are all of my subplots resolved? Does everything tie together the way it should? Are there holes that need filled? Often times, beta readers can help point out these issues. Authors, I think, tend to be too close to their stories to see things as clearly as someone who is reading it for the first time.
  • If I didn’t make an outline in the beginning now is a good time to create one. Just so I have a quick overview of the entire tale. It’s hard to keep 80,000 words straight in my head. Most days I feel lucky I can remember my own name!
  • Finally, it’s time to dive in chapter by chapter. Using my notes and outline, I fix what needs to be fixed. I work on sentence structure and replace boring words and generic descriptions to give them more oomph.

Revision can be a long and sometimes challenging road, but in the end, I’m always happy I did it. So this is my process, but what works best for you?

#PitDark is almost here! Are you ready?

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It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of dark literature. Authors like Edgar Allan Poe, Shirley Jackson and Stephen King have had a profound affect on me, and at times have kept me up late into the night. Their books will always have a place on my shelf. I don’t seek out disturbing stories to read, but those are the ones that seem to catch my attention at the book store. Call me morbid, I guess! And when I decided to attempt writing stories of my own, suspense and sinister is what I found myself typing.

How ironic my debut novel is a romance!

So when I heard about #PitDark I was instantly intrigued. #PitDark is the first and only Twitter pitch event that is specifically designed for authors of darker literature. According to its description, #PitDark is not limited to works of horror, but the pitched stories must contain elements of darker writing.

Following in the footsteps of #PitMad, a writer can tweet a 140 character pitch for their completed, polished and unpublished manuscripts, while agents and publishers search for stories that sound appealing. Middle grade, young adult, new adult and adult age categories are all welcome. And mark your calendars because the next #PitDark happens October 20th, 2016!

The rules:

  • This event takes place from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern. Please do not pitch before or after this twelve-hour period.
  • Participants get one pitch per hour, per manuscript. 
  • This contest is for completed, unpublished manuscripts. Complete means that your manuscript is proofread, polished, and ready for submission.
  • Do not, and I repeat, DO NOT favorite another author’s post. Agents and publishers will will make requests for authors to contact them by marking pitches as a favorite on Twitter. If your tweet is favorited, please follow the agent or publisher’s submission guidelines. Please be sure to research any agent or publisher that likes your pitch. There is no obligation to submit your work to anyone you don’t want to.

How to pitch:

  1. First and foremost, you must include the #PitDark hashtag to enter the contest. This is mandatory. It’s how industry professionals will find you.
  2. An indication of the book’s age category.
  3. An indication of the book’s genre. See below for hashtags. A genre hashtag is also mandatory.
  4. A pitch for your book. Ideally, it should tell us the character, desire, obstacle(s), and stakes. I know, I know — you don’t have many characters left to work with. Be creative!

Hashtags for age categories:

Please use these hashtags to indicate the target age group for your book:

  • #MG – Middle Grade
  • #YA – Young adult
  • #NA – New adult
  • #A – Adult

Hashtags for genres:

Please use a hashtag to indicate the genre of your book. The following are example hashtags that may be relevant to your manuscript:

  • #H – horror
  • #PH – psychological horror
  • #GH – gothic horror
  • #CSH – cosmic horror
  • #BH – body horror
  • #CH – comedy horror
  • #DC – dark comedy
  • #DR – dark romance
  • #SFH – science fiction horror
  • #PNH – paranormal horror
  • #ZH – zombie horror
  • #MH – monster horror
  • #GRH – graphic horror
  • #MM – murder mystery
  • #FA – fantasy
  • #DF – dark fantasy
  • #T – thriller
  • #EF – epic or high fantasy
  • #HF – historical fantasy
  • #LF – literary fantasy
  • #AH – alternate history
  • #PN – paranormal
  • #PR – paranormal romance
  • #UF – urban fantasy
  • #MR – magical realism
  • #SF – science fiction
  • #AF – apocalypse fiction
  • #ML – military science fiction
  • #PA – post-apocalyptic SF
  • #CP – cyberpunk
  • #SFT – sci-fi thriller
  • #SH – superhero / superhuman
  • #SO – space opera
  • #DS – dystopian
  • #SP – steampunk
  • #TT – time travel
  • #WW – weird west
  • #SPEC – speculative fiction
  • #NF – non-fiction

For more details on this event and to find out which agents and publishers are planning to participate, please visit author and #PitDark host Jason Huebinger’s website to learn more!

Do you plan to pitch? Leave a comment below if you do. Best of luck and I hope to see you there!

How To Get Your Story Featured On Wattpad

wattpad2

So you’ve written a story and you’ve posted it in full to Wattpad but you’re just not getting the reads you expected. You’ve done everything within your power to generate interest: you’ve written a story you’re proud of, you’ve mingled in the clubs, you’ve read and commented consistently on other authors’ stories, you’ve joined a gazillion book discussions and still … nothing! What’s a writer got to do to find some readers?!

I’m going to tell you. You can put in a request to have your story added to the Featured List.

What’s the Featured List, you might be asking yourself? According to Wattpad, every story that is featured is carefully hand-picked by Wattpad’s own Community Engagement team to be placed in a special, more visible spot that makes it easier for readers to find (because sifting through millions upon millions of stories to find what you’re looking for can be very overwhelming!).

That being said, not every submission is going to be granted. Serious thought goes into selecting each story. Why? Because being on the Featured List is both a privilege AND a responsibility. The Featured List will potentially put you and your story in front of millions of eager readers ready to vote and comment on each one of your chapters and expect you to comment back. Wattpad is an extremely interactive experience, one that encourages communication between an author and a reader. So if you’re not up for the challenge, don’t even think about submitting that story. Wattpad is more than just a reading and writing website. It’s a positive and supportive community all coming together to engage in something they love.

Still interested? Then let’s move on to the rules. Yes … the rules!

What Wattpad is looking for:

  • Stories that have good grammar, spelling, plot development, characterization, a distinct tone of voice, etc. So give that story one more edit before you apply!
  • Stories that are full-length and complete (or nearing completion).
  • Stories with a clear and compelling cover (sized 512×800), story description, and relevant tags.
  • Stories that will appeal to the diverse readership of the Wattpad community.
  • Stories that are distinctive and unique in plot and style.

What they’re not looking for:

  • Excerpts, teasers, sample chapters, or works intending to remain incomplete. Sorry, but it’s gotta be completed or near completion.
  • Stories that cannot standalone (i.e., sequels).
  • Emailing us PDFs, ePubs, or Word documents containing your story. Stories must be posted on Wattpad.
  • Unedited works. First drafts are absolutely fine, but stories should have a level of polish to them.

Who Wattpad is looking for:

  • Wattpadders like you! (Don’t have an account? Don’t worry, it’s easy to get started. Just sign up HERE for FREE and get posting!)
  • Engaged Wattpadders (This means writers who are also readers, commenters and voters. Writers who support other writers are the best writers, because they help each other succeed. Writers who want to be an active part of the community. No one likes a writer who posts a story and then never comes back to thank their readers.)
  • Kind and considerate Wattpadders (Trolls may stay under the bridge where they belong.)

What to expect if your story is featured:

If you’ve been selected for featuring, Wattpad will contact you to let you know the official day your story will be added to the List. Your story will then be placed at the top of the list for around one week or so, and afterward will be mixed in at random among the other stories to give everyone an equal chance at getting the limelight. You can expect an increase in reads, votes and comments, although Wattpad makes no guarantees about the number of reads your story will get.

After your week at the top of the list, your story will begin to randomize among the other stories in your genre and will change position daily. You could go from the top to the bottom and then back to the top again!

Wattpad receives several feature requests, so submissions could take up to four weeks or more to be reviewed. Just be patient, they’ll get to you!

So are you ready to take the next step in your writing career? Then apply to be featured today! Click HERE to fill out a request, and best of luck to you all!

200 Word Descriptive Hair List

I need to reblog these descriptions so I never lose this list! Hope you find it helpful!

Writing and Illustrating

Last year I put together a list of descriptive words for food. This year I thought a descriptive list for hair might help you when starting to describe your characters. I included colors, and words of items that adorn the hair. There must be more words, so let’s work together on this.  Please leave new words to add in the comment’s section.  Thanks!

Afro
Angled
Ash
Asymetrical
Auburn
Balding
Bandore
Bangs
Bevel
Bias
Bleached
Blended
Blunt
Bouncy
Brindle
Brown
Bump
Barrett
Barrett’s
Bed head
Beehive
Big hair
Black
Bleached
Blonde
Blow dry
Blow dryer
Bob
Bobby pins
Bonnet
Bouffant
Bouncy
Bowl cut
Braids
Bright
Brunette
Brushed
Bun
Busby
Bushy
Buzz-cut
Cap
Carmel
Carrot top
Chestnut
Chignon
Chocolate
Choppy
Clasps
Clipper-cut
Clips
Coarse
Coiffure
Colored
Combs
Comb over
Conditioner
Copper
Corkscrews
Cornrows
Coronet
Cowlick
Cream rinse
Crew cut
Crimped
Crimper
Cropped
Crown
Curlers
Curling iron
Curly
Damaged
Dandruff
Dark
Devilock
Diffuser
Dimension
Dingy
Dish-water blonde

View original post 240 more words

How to Write a Book Blurb: Reblog of The Blurb Queen

The Blurbqueen3.jpg

Need help writing a book blurb that will make readers stop and take notice?

“A good blurb is NOT a mini-synopsis. A blurb is AD COPY. 

In other words, you don’t want to tell the reader about your book, you want to make the reader buy your book. The point is to show the reader in as few words as possible, ‘Hey! Look at this–if you read this book, you are guaranteed a certain experience.’

Read more here: Seekerville Welcomes The Blurb Queen

Welcome to Camp NaNoWriMo!

CNW_Participant

April is right around the corner and you know what that means: it’s Camp NaNoWriMo time!

What is Camp NaNoWriMo?

Well if you’re familiar with NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), where you commit to writing 50,000 words during the month of November, you’ll find that Camp NaNoWriMo is somewhat similar, only a little more laid back. At camp, YOU get to set your own writing goal! Whether you want to write a novel, edit a first draft, tackle a script or maybe some short stories, Camp NaNoWriMo will be there to encourage and support you along the way.

How does it work?

During the month of April (and then again in July), you will challenge yourself to write every single day. That’s the first step to establishing a habit that will last throughout the entire year (and with any luck result in a completed manuscript).

Camp NaNoWriMo offers several online writing groups, which they cleverly call cabins (to give you that whole camping vibe). You’ll meet other “campers” by being sorted into a cabin based on your age, genre, or writing goals.

Already have a group of writers you’d like to bunk with?  You can create a private cabin for you and your friends to share! How cool is that?

According to the Camp NaNoWriMo website:

To join a public cabin, you must first make sure you’ve:

  1. Created a writing project for the current session of Camp
  2. Filled out your profile.
  3. Set your preferences on the Cabin Settings page:

If you want to be sorted into a cabin randomly, select the “Surprise me with random cabin mates!” option and click “Submit.”

If you’d prefer being in a cabin with writers that share similar interests, select “I’m looking for campers that match specific criteria.” Then, you’ll be able request cabin mates within your age group, writing in your genre, and/or with similar word-count goals in mind. Once you’ve selected all the preferences you’d like, click “Submit.”

Cabin assignments will begin shortly before the start of the event and will continue throughout the month on a rolling basis.

Joining a private cabin is a little different:

  1. If you’re acting as the cabin administrator, go to the Cabin Settings page and select “I want to create a private cabin.”
  2. Once in your cabin, you can invite your friends by typing their usernames into the invitation field. You can invite up to 11 Campers. A Camper must have created a profile, a novel, and deselected “I don’t want cabin invitations this session” to be eligible.
  3.  First, make sure you have defined a project for the upcoming event.
  4. On your Cabin Settings page, make sure you have: 
    • Selected “I don’t want to be included in a cabin” so you are not sorted into a random cabin. 
    • Deselected the “I don’t want cabin invitations this session” option.
  • When you’re invited to a private cabin, the invitation will pop up the next time you log in to the website or refresh the Camp NaNoWriMo page. “Join Now” will take you to your new cabin home and “No Thanks” will delete the invitation.

You’ll find all sorts of inspiration and conversation on the Camp NaNoWriMo website and there’s even a camp store where they sell a variety of merchandise, from t-shirts and hoodies to pencils and books.

Not enough? Visit Camp NaNoWriMo on Facebook and Twitter and start networking!

One of the great things about the NaNoWriMo community is that you’re never alone. Whether you’ve been writing for years or just getting started, you’ll have the opportunity to meet other authors and forge friendships with people who share the same interests as you.

So, what are you waiting for? Pack your bags, grab your bug spray and head on over to camp!

Self-Editing for Dummies

coffee-and-laptop

Self-Editing for Dummies:

Hey now, don’t be offended! I’m a dummy, too. But I’m continuously striving to improve.

Some lucky people are born storytellers. They have a good sense for story structure and the ability to create seemingly flawless sentences. They make it look as if they came out of the womb with a pencil and notebook in their tiny little fists weaving tales together like nobody’s business!

But what about the rest of us?

What I’ve found most beneficial is to writewrite, write. Write every day if you can. Write and then edit. Take those precious words you slaved over and look ’em right in the eye.

This can be very difficult. No, it can be downright painful. But there are some tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way that actually help take the edge off.

That being said, not all of my work is edited.

Wait, what? True story. But there’s a reason for that. I mean, I always try to make certain there are no spelling or grammar errors…and no matter how many times I go over a piece I still tend to miss a few. But the reason I do not dive right into a hardcore edit is because after I write something I need to step back for a moment. I need to take a break from that story, those characters, that plot so I can go back and look at it with fresh eyes. It’s amazing the mistakes and weaknesses that pop out after you take a mini vaca from the manuscript you spent X-amount of time working on.

First of all, let me be the first to congratulate you! Do you know how many people dream of completing a manuscript? I read somewhere it is more than eighty percent of the population. Eighty percent! Wrap your brain around that for a moment. And you did it. YOU. DID. IT. Go on; get that extra scoop of ice cream—you deserve it!

Okay, now it’s time to edit. Here is my disclaimer: I am in no way perfect or anywhere close to. I’m just as flawed as the next guy…if not more so. But I have discovered a handful of gems on my quest to improve and I would like to share them with you.

1.)  Like I said before, take a break. After you’ve completed a project, put some distance between yourself and the words you wrote. When you come back from your vacation, be it a day, week, month (you get the picture) you’ll be more likely to spot the mistakes.

2.)  Read your story out loud. Go ahead; no one is listening (unless you’re reading it at Starbucks). It will be much easier to catch the awkward words and phrases when you hear them out loud with your own ears. You can do this yourself, enlist the help of a friend, or use an app that will read your manuscript back to you. Yes, apparently there is such a thing!

3.)  Pay attention to dialogue. Does it sound natural? Would you speak the way your characters are speaking? If it sounds choppy, repetitive or just plain weird chances are it’s not right.

4.)  Watch out for adverbs and adjectives. It can mean the difference between telling the reader a story and showing them. And you want to show them. It’s not as easy as it sounds; I struggle with it myself. But it’s getting easier to pick up on the more I write.

Here’s an example of telling: Jake’s fingers moved slowly down Addy’s back.

Here’s an example of showing: Addy’s heart raced as Jake’s fingers slid down her back.

See the difference? Which sentence do you prefer?

5.)  Almost always use the word “said” as a tag after dialogue. Stay away from words like laughed, spit, giggled, etc.

Example: “I don’t know what you mean,” she laughed.

Your character can’t really laugh something. Nor can they spit or giggle, etc.

Try this instead: “I don’t know what you mean,” she said, batting her eyes at him.

The “said” becomes silent, that is, the reader doesn’t even notice it. Occasionally it is acceptable to throw in something else like “asked” or “answered”, but use those sparingly.

6.)  Did you know there are lists upon lists of words to avoid when writing? Seriously, it’s true! And I’ll be first to admit I am guilty of most of them (I’m sure I’ve even used some in this post). I’m only going to touch on a handful of them, the ones I find to be the most overused.

My biggest pet peeve is the word that. Sure, sometimes it’s necessary, but most of the time it’s not. If you pay close attention you’ll find you can exclude it without any loss of meaning.

Other filler words include just, really and very. If you eliminate these words often times the sentence becomes stronger.

Try to avoid using words ending in “ly”. These are adverbs which are typically a big no-no (this is the telling not showing I mentioned in #4). It’s the lazy way to write.

Stop using the word got—it’s ugly. Just don’t do it. Please.

And was…don’t even get me started on was. Was is a passive voice, which you want to stay away from. Rewrite the sentence to make it active. Brittanie Charmintine, an insanely talented author friend of mine, once said, “Good writing is all about the verbs. If you feel the urge to use the word was try to come up with another way to write the sentence to get the same thought across.” Please note there are times when it’s okay to use a passive voice. I’ll save that for a different post.

There are many more words which could easily be cut with various reasons as to why, but I’ll let you do the research.

7.)  For goodness sake, do not be afraid to hit Spell Check. It’s there for a reason and I promise—it is your friend. Make sure you use it.

Sounds like a lot of work, right? Yes, it is. But it’s all part of the craft. After the blood, sweat and tears you’ve already put it, you owe this to yourself and your manuscript. Happy writing!