About Betsy Love, Author

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Plotting for Pantsers in 6 easy steps

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If you’re like me, then plotting is as frustrating as doing the back-stroke in the middle of a mud puddle.
Everybody keeps telling me to plot my novels before I even sit down to write. I even read one book that claimed that she could convince me to plot, even though I’m a pantser. I got excited. I could be converted. But by the time I got to the middle of her book, I got so overwhelmed that I almost froze trying to wrap my head around her system.
In my quest to become a better writer, I sat myself down and gave myself a good talking to! And in the process, I came up with these six steps for “plotting”–pantser style!

1. First of all you must decide on a story to tell. This goes without saying.

2. Write down everything you know about the story–loosely plotting. You can change it as you go if you need to. Most importantly, you need to know how it’s going to end. If you know the ending of the story, it will drive everything thing that you write to that point.

3. Decide on a theme. Come up with that theme in one sentence. For Soulfire I had two-”Stand for Truth and Righteousness at all times,” and “How would the Lord prepare the wife of a prophet?” In The Penny Project, the theme is “You love whom you serve.

4. Write down your cast of characters, starting with your protagonist. Describe him/her including important details. Give your MC a huge character flaw which he/she will have to overcome by the end of the story. In my current WIP, my female character, Havala runs when confronted with difficult situations. Her love interest, Mehlo, is highly superstitious. In the end, she will have to stand up and fight, and he will have to face his cultural values.
5. Next create your setting. Write down as much as you know about the environment, the political, spiritual, societal situation. Put your characters in situations where they will have to confront their flaws within the setting. This is called “world-building.” Even if you are writing real-world, contemporary fiction, you will still need to decide on where to place your characters and what the world looks like to them.
6. Last, sit down and start writing. Enjoy the discovery, while understanding your characters’s flaws, the theme, and the setting, and what the end will be.

Not every story has to follow a formula.

So, get OUT of the mud, silly writer, and enjoy the showers of inspiration.

Book Release-The Captain and the Healer

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I am always amazed after a new book comes out, that I actually did this! I completed a project! I am so amazed at the whole process. From the initial idea, to the hard work of writing, and then being brave enough to let beta readers see it in its almost raw form to critique it. THANK YOU to my amazing beta readers who didn’t let me get away with lazy writing!
Here she is: Book Baby #4 and Book number 1 in my new series, StarBride Chronicles

Back cover blurb:

With an impending murder charge, Giada must escape Earth before the Amahrian enforcers find her. Desperate, she accepts an offer to be a StarBride to a wealthy governor on another planet. What she didn’t account for was the handsome and irksome pilot whose only thoughts are about profits.

Captain Skyler Rohn can’t go back to Earth; he’s a wanted man, and needs money to prove his innocence. When a job offer comes in that pays handsomely to transport a StarBride, Skyler can’t resist. His ship damaged, Skyler’s only choice is to land on a habitable moon before their oxygen runs out.

If only Giada and Skyler had met before she had agreed to be another man’s wife.

“A sweet romantic tale with adorable characters for people who enjoy reading light space opera.” Katie Teller, author of the Amazon best-selling Kiya Trilogy

Need to know where to get a copy?
Click here.

I hope after you’ve read and liked/loved it, you’ll write a review and say nice things.

One more thing before you run out to get your copy–follow me on Amazon, twitter, and my Facebook page. I’m also on Goodreads.

Cover Reveal-The Captain and The Healer’s Heart

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Ladies (because there’s a girl on the cover) and Gentlemen (because there’s a hot girl AND a space ship on the cover), may I present, my newest book, The Captain and the Healer’s Heart.

Back cover blurb

With an impending murder charge, Giada must escape Earth before the Amahrian enforcers find her. Desperate, she accepts an offer to be a StarBride to a wealthy governor on another planet. What she didn’t account for was the handsome and irksome pilot whose only thoughts are about profits.

Captain Skyler Rohn can’t go back to Earth; he’s a wanted man, and needs money to prove his innocence. When a job offer comes in that pays handsomely to transport a StarBride, Skyler can’t resist. His ship damaged, Skyler’s only choice is to land on a habitable moon before their oxygen runs out.

If only Giada and Skyler had met before she had agreed to be another man’s wife.

“A sweet romantic tale with adorable characters for people who enjoy reading light space opera.” Katie Teller, author of the Amazon best-selling Kiya Trilogy

Writing is way too much fun! But you know what’s even more fun? Publishing! This is my first Romance and my first Sci-Fi, though technically this is more space opera. I hope you’ll love reading it as much I did writing it!

Book Release-Feb. 24

So be sure and look for it on Amazon, CreateSpace, Barnes and Noble–you know, anywhere you might find awesome things to read!
I’ll keep you posted with links in future blogs.

Thanks, Electric Scroll! You ladies rock.

Oh, and don’t forget to subscribe. I’m still working on a free gift for those who do.

What I Never Expected

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Last year I had every intention of publishing my entire series. I meant to write a book every two months. That meant six books in my series. Then life happened.

This is what I never expected of last year:

We moved

I threw my back out (who wouldn’t after moving)

I got sick

I got sick again

I flew to Oklahoma

While in OK, my brother was killed in a fatal motorcycle accident (How do you write after that?)

I spent many weekends working on our property

I traveled

I traveled some more (You have to when your son graduates with honors from the AF)

I became involved in my dad’s failing health

I lost my dad due to his failing health

I planned his funeral (I admit I did have sibling help) How do you write after that?

I helped my siblings fix his house (it’s still not finished) so we can sell it

We traveled some more

But the thing that mostly keep me from publishing was actually not the time spent not writing, it was:

FEAR

Yes, terror at the thought of self publishing. What if readers hate my work? What if nobody will even buy a copy. I could what if myself forever.
January 1 rolled around-as it does every year–imagine that. I was determined this year to publish. But I could not do it alone, because I was still “SKEERED.
So I called my amazing friend at Electric Scroll.

HELP!!!

She helped me indie publish The Penny Project. I couldn’t ask for that much help again. So I asked if her company would be interested in publishing my series.

Ann Jenner dropped everything, hand delivered a contract for book one, The Captain and the Healer’s Heart
That’s insane, who does that? Sight unseen?
I signed the contract.
I have now signed three more contracts for the next books.
I told her I have two more book ideas. She sent the contracts for those last week!

That’s insane, who does that? **This is author angst speaking here**
She read, edited, and loved book one!
I don’t have a publish date as of yet. But I do have a book cover, it just needs a little tweaking.
Next blog post, I promise, you’ll get the reveal!

In the meantime let me tell you, that I have finished Book Two and am working on the revisions. They should be done by the beginning of next week.

I expect this year to be amazing!

To blog or not to blog-or just plain randomness

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Help! I feel like I’ve been sucked into the bloggers’ black hole. I’ve fallen and I can’t get up. What’s a blogger to do when she can’t think of anything to blog about?
Do you have any ideas? Things you’d like to see here?
How about a cover reveal? That’s coming soon! Soon!! SOON!!!
Mark your calendars! Jan. 5th is the big day for Book One in The StarBride Chronicles. It’s been fun writing.
And now I’m just being random here. But seriously–A book! I shall have a new book!

Beta Readers

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Beta readers are the life-line of an author.

As an author, we get so close to our work that we often can’t see what isn’t working in our story. Or we get tied to what we think is brilliant, but leaves the reader scratching his head. This is why Beta readers are amazing and why authors need to gather some really good ones. They become our tribe! They are invested in the story because they have had a hand in making it become the best story it can be.

So what is a beta reader? It’s a reader (can be another writer and probably should be) who will read your work, look for plot holes, look for content problems, catch things that in the passion of the writing moment, the author may have missed.

You may be asking yourself, “How do I get to be a beta reader, and why should I expect to do?”

READ.

Well, okay, that’s not fair to say, because it’s more than just reading. It’s making notes as you read, and preferably in the document.
If you take a look at this picture, you see that the screen is in review mode. Here you can add your comments by highlighting the text then clicking on the button above that says “New comment.”

As a reader, if you see something that doesn’t fit, or a problem, you can add your comment, which will show up on the outside bar. This is hugely helpful to an author when going back through a story to make changes. The next thing you can do as a beta reader is click on the button that says, “Track Changes.” That way, if you see a comma that needs to be inserted, or a misspelled word, you can make the change in the document. Then the author will go through and find those quite easily and make any necessary changes.
This is an example of how to do this.

If you’re a visual learning, like me, then you can go to this Youtube video and EPC Group will show you exactly how to suggest changes and make comments within the document.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ByISQeGDAHo

If you’ve already asked to be a beta reader, I hope these helpful hints will help you.

I can hardly wait to get started.

The Power of Our Words

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Walk back with me about 21 years ago. A few weeks before Christmas, our women’s church group, called Relief Society, had a Christmas party. When we got there, we were each asked to write a service that we would be willing to perform for another sister and then hang it on a Christmas tree. I have a few things I can do. I’m a good cook, I can make cookies, or bake bread. I’ve done day care, I could take care of another mom’s children so she could get a break. I’m a fairly decent seamstress, I can sew something fun. But what I really love doing is writing. Not that I’m great at it, but it’s my passion. While the other ladies scribbled away on their cards, I wrote, “You provide the facts, I’ll provide the fiction.” Under that I wrote, I will write a story for you about something in your life.” I hung it on the tree and waited anxiously for someone to pick my service. We played White Elephant with the different services and I watched as the ladies fought over baked bread, childcare, sewing, and other homemaking type gifts. I started to doubt my choice of service.

A sweet Hispanic woman named Irma chose mine. As she read it out loud, there was not the usual twitter about what an awesome service mine was. In fact, my card sat with Irma the entire night. Now I really felt bad about what I had offered. Not one other person wanted mine. I even wondered if she knew what I meant by mine since her English wasn’t very good.

Christmas came and went and I almost forgot about my service until Irma called me in March. “Will you write the story of my courtship,” she asked.

After interviewing her, writing drafts, correcting and revising it, until it was the way she liked it, I took it to the printers and had two copies printed and bound into cheesy looking books. She wanted to wait and give it to him in November for their anniversary. But that was so far away, she she gave it to him for father’s day.

Flash forward 21 years. Irma called me. Her husband is upset because he cannot find the book. They’d moved a couple of times and it got packed somewhere and for some reason, he desperately wanted that book. Irma wanted to come make a copy of mine. I decided to do one better. I spent the week revising it, after all I feel like I’ve grown as a writer. I asked my daughter who was 3 at the time I wrote the book, if she would design a beautiful cover for me. I sent Irma the draft and she loved it. So it is now sitting at the printers waiting for two copies to arrive.

Irma took me out to lunch as a thank you for my hard word. Then she tells me what happened when her husband first received the book.
Tom read the book and wept.Irma did not know he was thinking of leaving her, that he wanted to end their marriage. Had she waited to give him the book on their anniversary in November, he would have already been gone. After reading my cheesy little story, he realized why he fell in love with her. Because of my service, they are still married. This book will never sell a million copies. In fact only four copies exist today (and one of those is buried in a box somewhere.) I’ve written a lot since then, and her timing was terrible as I was in the middle of a project. I’m so glad I did.

Of all that I’ve written, I have to say I am most proud of this book. Not for its well crafted plot lines, or its flowing style, but because I touched one person in such a way that forever changed his life. The best part of this whole experience is that I get to know just how much my words had power to touch a heart.

The Happiness Factor-Money

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Well, that got your attention, didn’t it? What is she talking about? Money buying happiness? Stay with me here for a moment

Over the course of the last year and a half, I have been on a learning journey. It started with money. Yes, the almighty dollar. It’s not that I LOVE money, or that I worship it, or that it is the center of my universe. But let’s face it, money is important to our well-being. So many people think that to want money is a bad thing. What I’ve learned is that money will only change you, if your heart is not in the right place. I’ve learned that money can be used to do A LOT of good. It can be a source of great joy in people’s lives. By that I mean, once you have your basic needs met, you have the freedom to bring others joy.

Money isn’t the source of happiness, it’s what you do with it. Finding your purpose in life is what brings you joy. If you are so worried about money all the time, it brings stress into your life. The times that I have found to be the least stressful, are when my bills are paid and my family’s tummies are full. The times I find the greatest joy is when I have enough and to spare. It’s in the spare, that money that I give away, that brings me joy. And happiness.

About a year ago, I had to travel frequently along the highway to get to my theater rehearsals. And daily, there were beggars standing at the exit where I would get off. So once a month, I took a 4 $5 bills. When I’d see one, I’d hand it out. It didn’t break my bank, but let me tell you, the happiness I felt was incredible.

I have since thought of that and what my true purpose is on earth. If I had unlimited resources, what would I do? I believe I know what that is, but I’m keeping it to myself, for just a while longer. But it brings me happiness when I think about it.

My son started working with a great company that is all about leadership and being a positive influence in the lives of others. He came home from one of his training sessions and said, “Mom, you gotta watch this video.” So he played it for me. I LOVED it!! So I have to share it with you!

Watch it here

Okay, now that you’ve watched it, did you get what he said about happiness bringing about your truest potential? I had to watch it a couple of times. I love that! When we focus on the positive, it comes back to us. When we focus on the negative, that’s we get. So if you want things in your life to change, you must change you first!

If you missed the 5 things you need to do every day, here they are:
1. 3 gratitudes
2. Journal about something that made you happy that day
3. Exercise
4. Meditation
5. Random acts of kindness

I’m on my way to creating more happiness in my life. I am excited to see the changes around me, because it will really be me that’s changing!

Plot Walk

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Image result for two people walking feet

I seem to get stuck–a lot. I’m writing along, and all of a sudden my story takes an odd turn, a character turns up that I have no idea what her purpose is. Or sometimes I have a scene that goes nowhere, or takes a twist that just convolutes the whole story. I’ve set my novels aside for a bit because I can’t figure out why that character showed up, or why my scene decided to take it’s own path.

That’s where the plot walk comes in handy. That happened in Soulfire . I’m writing along and hello there ma’am, what are you doing here and how do fit in my story. I only wanted to take Zephenia for a stroll through the market place when, Rachael showed up. I left her in the story, mainly because I was intrigued by her back story and her association with my main character. It wasn’t until I was near the end of the story that she was a key element for the twist that happens toward the end of the book. Discovered that on a plot walk. I’m not going to tell you, you’ll just have to read the book. By the way, you can purchase the book in soft bound or Kindle on Amazon here.

Another story that took a weird turn was Identity. I wrote a scene intended to have a character murdered. As I fleshed him out a little more on a plot walk, I just grew too fond of–rather, I fell in love with Brent. If you’ve read this story, you know why I just couldn’t kill off such an amazing, loyal man. So I killed his wife instead and pinned the blame on him. That made for an interesting twist in the story, for sure. You can order a copy here.

Currently, I’m working on a fantasy series called Mystic’s Tale. I only meant for it to be three books, but somehow I’ve ended up wanting to write more. And again, I just couldn’t figure out who the real bad guy was. That’s when I took my hubby and future daughter-in-law with me on a plot walk.

Now you really want me to tell you what a plot walk is. That’s where I take a stroll and use whoever is with me as a sounding board. It’s usually just my hubby. He always offers such great ideas. This time, there was total synergy as the three of us hashed things out. Both offered great twists to the plot.

So if you get stuck, take someone with you on a walk and bounce ideas around. It just might help unstick your writing. Now I can hardly wait to get back to my story.

What do you do when you’re stuck writing?

Dialogue Tags

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If you get good at writing dialogue, you’ll build depth in your characters and move your story forward. Write bad dialogue and your reader will close the book. I’ve often put down what might have been a great story except for how poorly the dialogue was written.

One of my pet peeves in writing is for writers to tag dialogue with actions that are impossible to do while speaking. Let me give a few examples:

  • “I don’t think so,” Martha huffed.
  • “Don’t put that there,” Henry snorted

You do know what a snort or huff sound like, right? I’d be straining my ears to hear what Martha said. And can you picture Henry actually snorting his words? An easy fix for this would be:

  • Martha huffed. “I don’t think so.”
  • Henry snorted. “Don’t put that there.”

This is the same for words like: growled, giggled, howled, laughed. These are action words and not ways to actually say something. Let the character do the action followed by dialogue.

Another pet peeve is when writers use -ly words with dialogue tags, such as:

  • “Come here,” she said sweetly.

While this is acceptable, I’d rather be shown what “sweetly” looks like. A better to write this might be:

  • She tilted her head to one side and made her voice sound like honey. “Come here.”

While it’s longer than “said sweetly” we not only get a better sense of how the dialogue was said, we also get more into the character’s head and discover what she is like.

Another way of writing dialogue that gets used a lot is with the “as” word:

  • “Hand me the salt,” Harriet said as she stirred the bowl of cookie batter.

Not bad, but the dialogue could be tightened and the “said” eliminated altogether:

  •  Harriet continued to stir the bowl of cookie batter. “Hand me the salt.” 

One last dialogue fix. Often times writers will using “said” with an -ing word. For example:

  • “Go sit in the corner right now,” Meg said pointing to the chair under the window.

This is another easy fix. Take out the word “said” and turn the -ing word into a strong verb. It also helps to move the action to the front of the dialogue, but can be written both ways.

  • “Go sit in the corner right now.” Meg pointed to the chair under the window.

or

  • Meg pointed to the chair under the window. “Go sit in the corner right now.”

With this type of dialogue, it’s a matter of preference as to the action or spoken word first. Sometimes when the action and the dialogue happen at the same time, it works either way.

I hope these examples help. What have you tried in writing dialogue that works well for you?