Crazy Month for a Crazy Writer

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Grammy and her littles

Sometimes when you pray so hard for the Lord to hit someone you love over the head with a “spiritual 2×4,” you never expect that board to whip back around and smack you upside the head. Which is what happened. Needless to say, I am now the guardian of an adorable almost 4 year old, whose biggest questions of the day are, “WHY?” and “WHAT?” I thought I was the one with the inquisitive mind and the hard of hearing problems. Perhaps it runs in the family.

This adorable little man has consumed my time and energy. I don’t begrudge it at all, but it sure has thrown my life into the crazy cycle.
I was supposed to have had my third book in to my editor on April 24. That didn’t happen. I hadn’t even finished it at that point. After I finally completed it about ten days ago, it was among the most horrible writing I’d ever done. Hemmingway was right. “The first draft of anything is $^&*.”

I put it aside and am letting it percolate for a bit. In the meantime, little man goes to preschool three days a week, and I get to write two of those days. Cub scouts takes up the other one. That means, of course, that I have to cram my writing time into those two days and during naps.

On a happy note, little man is almost potty-trained! I am half way through writing book 4 and ready to dive back into revisions of book 3 and book 5 is another Hemmingway first draft. Guess that just leaves book 6 in this series. I may just reach my goal by the end of the year yet.

I can do hard things! The easy ones, not so much. This is what happens when you leave them alone in front of the TV watching Moana with a baggie of goldfish crackers so Grammy can go to the bathroom. I thought I was safe.

Cover Reveal-Falling for a Fraud-StarBride Chronicles Book 2

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Here is Book 2 in my StarBride Chronicles series. This one was so much fun to write!


“Beauty is skin deep, but ugly is to the bone.”
That’s what Kat’s grandfather used to say. With the global games only a few months away, her jump team encounters serious financial troubles. Their only chance is for Kat to take the enticing, though questionable investment offer from Lorenzo Watt. One look at his handsome face reminds her of Granddah’s warning. She wonders if Lorenzo is worth the risk of a deeper look.
Lorenzo knows his looks are a commodity, an asset to charm and manipulate gorgeous women into marrying off-worlders. To him, it’s just a job that repays a debt.
Complications arise when he is assigned to lure Kat into being a starbride. He didn’t expect her to be quite so challenging, nor did he anticipate the lure of her beauty.

This futuristic tale reminiscent of the classic Beauty and the Beast will keep readers up way past their bedtime. Rich in amazing detail and compelling characters, the author has created a story readers will have a hard time forgetting. C. Michelle Jefferies Author of LATENT

Editing and Revising

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Editing and Revising is by far the hardest part of writing! This is the part that most authors dislike. It’s at this point that a writer takes a harsh look at what they’ve just created.

So let’s walk through the process–at least what works for me.

The first thing I like to do after I’ve written “The End” (metaphorically) is to do a fast read through. Because I am a slow reader, I utilize a program called “Natural Reader.” You can check it out here. This program reads what I have written back to me in a somewhat natural voice. What I like about this program is that I can follow along as it reads back to me and catch a lot of problems such as missing words and punctuation. While the voice is flat, it does give me a sense of the flow of the story.

I understand that newer versions of Word also have a text to speech function, but I haven’t figured it out yet.

During the process of listening to the story, I keep a notebook handy and jot down the following:

  • Fixes in sentence structure, plot, characterization (things that don’t hold true to my character) and any other glaring problems. I note the chapter or page so I can find it quickly. If it’s not a huge fix, I’ll take care of it while I’m reading
  • Any ideas that I might have to add or delete from the story
  • Any fleshing out of plot lines, or structure or characterization

After I’ve listened to my story and gotten a sense of how it flows, I go back and make the necessary fixes/changes to the story.

I let it sit for a few days and work on something else–another story, reading other authors, etc. This gives my brain a break from that particular story. After a few days, I listen to it again, repeating the process above.

When I’m satisfied I have worked on it enough, I like to send it out to at least two beta readers. Pick ones that either read widely, have read your work before, or that read specifically in your genre.

While my beta readers are slashing and bleeding all over my manuscript, I’m working on another story. Don’t let your writing lapse! This is detrimental to your career if you want to be an author.

After my beta reader returns it, I go through and address each of their suggestions. Most of the time they are spot on. Sometimes, I disagree, but will consider perhaps something I may have missed.

If time permits and my editor isn’t breathing down my neck to get the book in her hands, I will send it out to two more readers, preferably other authors who write in similar genres. When I send it to another author, I’ll generally ask for an endorsement to go on the back cover.

Then it’s off to my editor at Electric Scroll. Ann Marie is amazing! She’ll take my almost perfect book and make it truly fabulous! She has such a gift for catching all the stuff I missed when I was editing and revising.

I’m always looking for ways to improve. What would you add to the editing/revision process? I’d love to hear your ideas and suggestions!

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.