Friday, April 21, 2017

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 165

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

I apologize for the lack of activity here the last couple of weeks. Life has been keeping me busy and the weeks seem to end before I realize I've forgotten to post. When I think about it, however, I couldn't have picked a better time to slack off. It's April, which means the A to Z challenge is in full swing, so all you busy bloggers out there probably haven't even noticed my absence. 

As far as my writing progress goes, I've finally reached that point of the story where my notes for the next few chapters consist of: "MC tracks down bad guys and almost gets caught." Not a lot to work with. I plan to flesh out those notes over the weekend, but as usual, only time will tell if I succeed. 

Enjoy the links and have a great weekend! 


Kindle Unlimited: Is It Worth It?

What an Editor at a Publishing House Looks For: 6 Myths & Truths

Giving Characters the Courage to Change

Writing YA? What You Need to Know About Adolescence

Quick Scene Structuring

WHow to Request A Reversion of Publishing Rights

Middles: Keep Your Novel Moving

Friday, April 7, 2017

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Insecure Writer and Writing Full-Time

Today is April's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

Why am I an Insecure Writer this month?

Because I’m contemplating what it might be like to be a full-time author. 

Before I go any further, however, I feel it necessary to post the following disclaimer, just in case any of my bosses at work happen to stop by. 

“I’m very happy with my current job and I have no plans to leave anytime in the near future.” 

Okay, now where were we? Oh, yes. Full time writer fantasies. Sitting at the computer all day, doing nothing but writing, drinking tea, and watching your sales numbers climb on Amazon. What’s not to like? 

Since I'm such a slow writer, I often wonder what it would be like if I had all day to write, instead of relying on the random thirty minute snippets I depend upon now. Because every great once in a while, when I’m lucky enough to find a three or four hour window in which to write, I often make more progress on my story than I normally do in two weeks. 

Now it would be easy to conclude that if I had eight hours every day in which to write, my weekly progress would skyrocket. But I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t work out that way in real life. For one thing, I’m almost always thinking about my story when I’m away from the computer (much to the consternation of my wife). If I sat in front of the computer all day, I’d lose a lot of that free association time so important to my productivity. 

But that’s not the main reason I doubt my productivity would scale with writing time. Some of my ideas take a long time to percolate through my head. I mean a looooooong time. It’s not at all unusual for me to dream up better ways to write a chapter several months, sometimes years, after I think it's finished.  

In fact, just yesterday I thought of a way to change one of the scenes in my current chapter so as to increase the emotional tension between two of the characters. I can’t tell you how many dozens of times I’ve gone over this chapter in the past two months, yet this idea just came out of the blue today. I fear that writing at a faster pace would rob me of many of my best ideas and my chapters would suffer. 

In the final analysis, I suppose I’m okay with not being a full time writer, if only because I’m pretty sure that if I were a full time writer, my family would starve. So I can confidently state that I have absolutely no intention of quitting my day job in order to write. 

Of course, should I win the lottery, all bets are off. 

How many of you are lucky enough to write full time? 


Friday, March 24, 2017

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 162

I traveled to Missouri last week to visit my mom and brother, which explains the recent inactivity around here. For me, the worst part of the trip isn't the flight to St. Louis (Hint: I'm NOT a good flyer),  it's the three hour drive down to Springfield. 

However, this time I was armed with an audio book, and the miles just flew by.  I listened to Dreadnought, the third book in the Starship Blackbeard series by Michael Wallace. Not only does this guy know his space opera, but the distinctive British feel gave this book a certain flare that sets it apart.  The voice actor was fantastic, and since all the Audible books in the series are priced at $2 apiece, this is an absolute steal.  If you're into space opera, I can't recommend this series highly enough. 

Have a great weekend and enjoy the links! 


10 Ways First-Time Writers Can Get Noticed on Social Media

Pronoun. Distribution Beyond Amazon

Writing a Murder Mystery: The Conflict Character

Tension vs. Conflict (Hint: They aren't the Same Thing)

Can Changing Your Book Covers Really Help You Sell More Books?

3 Unconventional Ways To Use Social Media To Effectively Find Your Readers

8 1/2 Tips for How to Write Opening and Closing Lines Readers Will Love to Quote

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Pitfalls of Writing To Market

I’ll admit to feeling rather bummed about writing today.

It’s not from of a lack of writing progress. I was pretty darn productive this weekend, making significantly more progress than I expected. And if that wasn’t enough reason to be happy, I’ve attended two critique groups and one SCBWI meeting during the last two weeks, all of which usually psych me up for writing.

No, I’m down because I came across the website of a book marketing guru, one of those people who make their money telling us how to market our books. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but this guy was explaining the concept of writing to market, which basically means picking a hot genre and writing stories in that genre as quickly as you can,.

So he set himself a challenge to write (and supposedly edit) a book in a ridiculously short amount of time—I won’t say how long, but it’s shorter than the time it takes me to finish a chapter for my critique group—and then launch it using his marketing techniques. Needless to say, his book is doing pretty well. I was shocked that anyone could write and edit a book so quickly, so I peeked at his first chapter on Amazon.

OMG! It read like fan fiction written by a high school student. (Not that there’s anything wrong with being a high school student) The sentences were overly simplistic, the dialogue was cringe-worthy, and the characters (supposedly trained military personnel) acted like a bunch of squabbling kindergartners. I don’t consider my prose to be particularly good, but even I would have been embarrassed to show these words to my critique group, let alone the public.

And yet the book seems to be doing quite well, which means either the readers of this genre are scarily desperate for anything they can get their hands on, or this guy’s book marketing tricks are capable of selling anything. Has the bar really been set that low? Makes me wonder if I’m wasting my time trying to create a well-crafted story. Maybe I should jump into a hot genre and write as fast as I can too. Heck I wouldn’t even have to attend critique group meetings any more.

The money’s tempting, but that’s not why I got into writing in the first place. I want to write words that make me proud to be a writer, not something I threw together during NaNo and uploaded the next day.

Oh well.  Perhaps I just need to read a few well written books and all will be well again with the world.


Friday, March 3, 2017

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 161

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Not as much writing this week as I would have liked. I'm currently beta-reading for another author and since my comments are due Monday, that took priority.  The good news is that tonight I have a crit group meeting, followed by tomorrow morning's SCBWI meeting.  Both of these events usually charge me up for writing, so we'll see what happens when I get a double dose of encouragement. 

The big question is: what plans do my family have for me this weekend?   

Have a great weekend and enjoy the links! 


Book Marketing: Using Amazon Ads to Grow a Newsletter List

Anti-Heroes: Why We Love Them & Keys Ways to Give Them Depth

Writer Struggles: Killing Nice Characters

English vs American Murder Mysteries

The 11 Most Common Questions Authors Ask BookBub

Revision Workshop: Day Three: Analyze the Scene Structure

Descriptions – the Angels are in the Details!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Insecure Writer and Writing Podcasts

Today is March's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

Why am I an Insecure Writer this month?

Because I’ve been watching too many darn podcasts on book marketing! 

For the last several months, I’ve gotten into the habit of listening to podcasts about indie publishing while driving to work. The two I enjoy best are The Creative Penn podcast and the Sci-Fi and Fantasy Marketing Podcast, but there’s a whole slew of them out there. Although they do cover the craft of writing to some extent, most of the interviews are concerned with how to sell more books, and include lots of marketing tips and tricks. And boy are there a ton of them.  Here's a small sampling of topics:

How to avoid the 30 day cliff on Amazon.
Staying exclusive or going wide. 
How to avoid the 90-day cliff on Amazon. 
Bookbub ads. 
Amazon ads. 
Facebook ads. 
E-mail lists. 
Kindle Unlimited. 

The list just goes on and on. 

But what really drives me crazy is that the number one thing you can do to drive more sales is to write as many books as you can, as fast as you can. It seems most of the writers who’ve been interviewed write a book every two months. What the hell? One author pumps them out so quickly she has to have her cover designer create her covers before she even knows what the stories are about. Seriously? I remember one successful author who lamented being a slow writer, which made me feel a little better—that is, until he mentioned it took him a full 3 to 4 months to finish a book. 

The swine. 

I certainly don’t expect to get rich from writing, but it sounds like the hurdles you have to overcome in order to convince more than 100 people to buy your book (not counting friends and other authors) are depressingly high. 

What marketing tactic works best for you? Please, I need to know!


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Spending Too Much Time On The First Draft

Photo courtesy of Pixabay and Voltamax
I’m always on the lookout for ways to increase my writing speed. Based on what other writers tell me, I spend a lot more time on first drafts than everyone else. There are various reasons for this, but one of the biggies is that I revise as I write. Not full revisions, mind you, but if I know that a sentence or paragraph doesn’t make complete sense, I have to fix them before I can go on. Or if my descriptions sound like bullet lists, my muse refuses to cooperate until I go back and dress them up a little. Or if a logic flaw rears its head…. Well, you get the drill.

I know writers are supposed to speed through the first draft, but leaving behind a big pile of problems that need to be fixed later just seems like procrastination. Better if I fix some of the more glaring problems right then and there while the scene is still fresh in my mind. Now these aren’t my final revisions. Oh no, far from it. But they’re enough to allow me to move on with a clear conscience.

But here’s my problem. After spending all that time thinking about these first draft revisions, I’ve discovered that the resulting sentences and paragraphs kind of get locked down in my head. So when I return later during the editing phase, I often can’t visualize writing the words in any other way, even when I know there’s a problem. I can tweak a word here or there with no problem, but if a paragraph needs to be blown up and rewritten from scratch, it can take days for me to recognize this. The number of hours I’ve wasted staring at a paragraph that isn’t working before I realized a simple reordering of words would solve the problem is embarrassingly high.

So now I’m trying a new approach. From now on, whenever I feel the need to revise during the first draft, I’ll make sure to keep my added sentences short and full of telling prose. That way I’ll have no choice but to rewrite them from scratch.

Will my muse allow this? Only time will tell.


Friday, February 17, 2017

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 159

Photo courtesy of José Manuel Botana (Pixabay)

Not much to report this week, writing or otherwise. As usual, I'm stuck on my latest chapter, but this time I can't complain too much since I hadn't spent much time thinking about the chapter beforehand. So tonight my plan is to sit down and work out the complete sequence of events, along with maps to show character movement. And I'm doing this all by hand instead of typing it out on the keyboard, because I think it'll put me into a more creative state of mind. 

I'll be interested to see how well the actual writing goes after this exercise. 

Do any of you find that writing by hand makes you more creative? 

Have a great weekend and enjoy the links! 


7 Tips for Writing a Book Blurb

Growing Your Audience by Growing a Mailing List

An Old World Concept Made New: How Patreon Works for WritersKit with “5 Fun Facts You Didn’t Know About Me”

Writing an Effective Book Description: 7 Ways to Turn Browsers Into Buyers

How to Start Your Own Publishing Company

9 Statistics Writers Should Know About Amazon

8 Ways to Troubleshoot a Scene–and 5 Ways Make It Fabulous

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Starting Your Story Too Late -- Plus It's Release Day For Abducted Life!

One rule of thumb for writers is to start your story at the last possible moment, right before the story takes off. Boring your reader with descriptions of scenery or having the main character doing regular everyday stuff (usually while thinking about how boring and/or terrible their life is) is a sure fire method for convincing the reader put down your book forever. What’s rarely mentioned, however, is that starting too late can be just as bad. 

The other day I was reading a story that suffered from this exact problem. The story began with the heroine willingly walking into what she knew was a trap. Now this can be a perfectly fine way to begin a story, but it turned out that in this case the author had jumped so far into the story that she had to spend an inordinate amount of time explaining everything that had happened prior to the scene in order for the scene to make any sense. 

Every single page had backstory. So much backstory that I kept checking the front cover to be sure I wasn't accidentally reading the second book in the series instead of the first. Besides being terribly confusing, all this explaining really killed the pacing. Needless to say, I didn’t get very far into the book before giving up. 

Why did the writer begin their story here? I don’t know. Perhaps she wanted to begin the story right before the big fight scene in order to capture the reader with action. The problem is, everything that led up to that scene—the mysterious message the main character received that morning telling her that someone would be killed if she didn’t come, the conversation where her paranormal friends told her that they would help her fight when she met up with the bad guys, the difficulties she had finding the designated rendezvous point as the clock was ticking down—were all exciting enough to have been the story’s starting point. There was no reason to begin the story right before the fight.  To be honest, I suspect the real problem was that the author wanted this scene to be a prologue, but if she’d stuck in all the necessary information as real time action instead of giving it to us via backstory, the prologue would have become much too long. 

Choosing your story’s starting point can be a tricky thing. You want to start the story close enough to the inciting incident that only a little backstory is needed to get us through the first chapter, but not so close you have bury us in backstory for the scene to make any sense.

One writer who does know when to start a story is fellow Michigander, Patricia Lynne.  And today she's celebrating the release of her new novel, Abducted Life.  So be sure to drop by her website and wish her congratulations.


Savannah Janowitz’s perfect life was destroyed the night she and her boyfriend vanished without a trace. When she reappears a year later––alone––she’s a shell of her former self. Robbed of her popularity and her boyfriend, she has no memory of what happened to her. Savannah struggles to move forward as strange, new abilities manifest.

Evan Sullivan never gave extra-terrestrials much thought until the night he and Savannah were abducted. While Savannah’s memory was wiped clean, he remembers every horrific detail. Constantly reminded of the experiments that made him less than human, Evan hides in the shadows and watches Savannah rebuild her life without him. But neither can let the other go.

When their paths cross, Savannah and Evan finally see a glimmer of their old lives return. As they face what happened to them, they soon discover they aren’t safe. There’s more to fear than what’s hiding in the stars.

Available for 99cents at Amazon.

About the Author

Patricia Josephine never set out to become a writer. In fact, she never considered it an option during high school and college. She was all about art. On a whim, she wrote down a story bouncing in her head. That was the start of it and she hasn't regretted a moment. She writes young adult under the name Patricia Lynne.

Patricia lives with her husband in Michigan, hopes one day to have what will resemble a small petting zoo, has a fondness for dying her hair the colors of the rainbow, and an obsession with Doctor Who.

You can find her lurking on Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and Wattpad. Find the latest news at her website or sign up for her newsletter. A link to all her books can be found here.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 158

Those of you who stopped by here earlier this week may have noticed that not only was my regular Wednesday post live by Wednesday morning (shock upon shock!), it was actually posted on Tuesday morning. No, Armegeddon is not right around the corner. But it has occurred to me that having my main post on Wednesday followed up by the Seven Writing Links post two days later doesn't give many people the chance to see the Wednesday post. So I'm contemplating a change in my posting schedule. 

Perhaps I'll move my Wednesday posts to Tuesday and see how that works. I suppose I could always try for Mondays, but that would require writing a post over the weekend and I'm pretty sure that's not happening. I'm not even sure I can make Tuesdays on a regular basis. Heck, I barely make Wednesdays sometimes. Or maybe I should just move the writing links posts to Sunday. I don't know yet. 

Do you guys have any suggestions? 

Have a great weekend and enjoy the links! 


Tips for Writing Companion Novellas

8 Ways A Thriller differs from a Mystery

Dress Up Your Author Media Kit with “5 Fun Facts You Didn’t Know About Me”

Pirates Beware: How to Prepare and Use a DMCA Takedown Notice

From Indie Author To Small Press. Print Books, ISBNs, Branding And More

Author Blogs: 5 Bad Reasons for Authors to Blog and 5 Good Ones

7 Red Flags of Telling

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Understanding the Amazon Algorithms

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

The other day I listened to a podcast interview of Chris Fox over at Sterling and Stone. Chris Fox is reputed to be an expert on how to sell books, and although I’ll never be as hardcore about marketing as he is, he did mention a few things I found interesting.

One of the topics he discussed involved the algorithms Amazon uses to decide which books to promote. Although we authors use a variety of techniques to promote our books, from what I understand, it’s really only when the Amazon algorithms take over and begin promoting our books that sales really take off. Most authors know this, so to get Amazon’s attention, they announce their book to everyone they know when it first comes out—friends, family, other writers they know, and of course any readers they have on their email list—and hope that the algorithms see all the initial sales and decide to promote the book.

According to Chris, however, that is the absolutely wrong thing to do.

The way the Amazon algorithms work (according to Chris) is that they not only keep track of who buys your book, but also what else those people also bought. And they use that information to target other potential buyers. So if you’re selling an urban fantasy and the people that buy your book are mostly big fans of urban fantasy, then those people will probably have purchased other urban fantasy books along with yours. The algorithms will quickly pick up on this and begin promoting your book to other fans of urban fantasy (the “Also Bought” list, for example).

Unfortunately, your friends and family, and possibly many of the writers you know, aren’t into urban fantasy. So when they buy your book, they may also be buying romance novels or DVDs or cat food, and the algorithms get confused. They can’t figure out your target audience, which means Amazon can’t promote your book correctly, which means your sales will tank, which means Amazon will stop promoting your book. According to Chris, it’s far better to have a smaller, more tightly focused email list (full of hardcore readers in your book’s genre), than it is to have a much larger, but less focused list.

Another way to keep Amazon promoting your book is by keeping your conversion rate high. Conversion rate is a measure of the number of people who actually buy your book once they land on your Amazon book page. If tons of people are stopping by your page, for example, because of some promotion you’re running, but very few people actually purchase your book, your conversion rate plummets and Amazon’s algorithms will eventually come to the conclusion that your book sucks and will stop promoting it. Basically, you only want people to stop by your book page if there’s a very good chance they’ll buy it.

One way of fixing this problem is by having your promotion send potential readers not to Amazon, but to your own landing page. This landing page would have your blurbs and the first couple of chapters, along with the Amazon link, of course. That way, if they click on the Amazon link, there’s a high probability they’ll actually buy the book, making your conversion rate much better and the algorithms happy. Of course, there’s always the concern that forcing the reader to click twice to get to the Amazon page might discourage some buyers, but that’s the risk you take.

Of course, writing a great book is still the best way to gain sales, but once that’s done, it pays to know what pleases Amazon and their algorithms. Because in the end, the Amazon promotional engine may well be the most powerful tool in your marketing toolkit.

Thoughts, anyone?


Friday, February 3, 2017

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 157

My cold is finally over; just in the nick of time. My submission to my critique group was due yesterday and I'm going to be working late tonight to get it ready. This is definitely one of those times I wished I were a faster writer! 

Have a great weekend and enjoy the links! 


A Touch of Romance

Top Time Savers for Social Media and Blogging

Do You Need to Be Lucky to Get Published?

Book Promotion: Do This, Not That

Unpacking the “Character- Driven” Story—How to Make Your Story Sizzle

Editing Tips: Top 3 Scene Issues

Creating Stunning Side Characters (and Why They Matter)

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Insecure Writer and Slogging Through The First Draft

Today is February's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

What makes me an Insecure Writer this month?

The realization I’m an inherently slow writer and that there’s nothing I’ll ever be able to do about it. 

I’ve whined before about being a slow writer and have posted on the tricks I use to increase my writing pace, but thanks to last month’s SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) meeting, I now realize there’s something fundamentally different between myself and other writers. 

One of our guest speakers was Kristen Bartley Lenz, a writer who discussed how she wrote her debut novel, The Art of Holding On and Letting Go. One of the exercises her editor gave her for getting deeper into her characters’ minds was to free-write a scene for each character, a scene that never appears in the book. So after Kristen showed us the before and after versions of her first chapter, she read one of her free-writing scenes out loud, explaining how she’d used it to improve the chapter. 

All well and good—that is, until I heard the words. The free-write scene centered on the main character’s uncle, who was holding the main character in his arms in the hospital room right after her birth. It was a simple scene, full of introspection by the uncle; emotional, but not melodramatic; quiet, yet powerful. The kind of scene I’d love to be able to write. 

But then it hit me. Kristen had free-written this scene. No notes, no outline. She just imagined a scene and wrote down her thoughts as they came to her. She hadn’t edited any of the sentences. She hadn’t added words later. She hadn’t rearranged the order in which the sentences came out. And yet the words were already of publishable quality. Basically, she’d been able to write the whole scene as if it were happening in front of her, knowing exactly what to say and when to say it. 

I was absolutely dumbfounded. If I hadn’t already known her, I might have suspected she’d lied about it being a first draft. That maybe she’d read us a heavily revised version, not something that spilled out of her brain in perfect order. And that realization staggered me, because I know that no matter how hard I try, no matter what tricks I use, I'll never, ever, EVER be able to write like that. It’s just not in my writing DNA. 

I’ve read of authors who write 3 or 4 books a year and always wondered what their secret was. Turns out their words just jump right out of their brains in pretty darn good shape right from the beginning. I’m not saying these words couldn’t use some tightening here and there, but those are almost cosmetic changes compared to what my drafts require. I have to slog through my scenes over and over again, adding stuff I left out the first time, throwing out stuff that’s unnecessary, rearranging the order that stuff is mentioned. And that’s just to get the words in good enough shape so that my crit partners understand what’s going on. 

Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy for writers who have this ability. Heck, if words came that easily for me, I’d probably have taken up writing years ago. But the concept that someone can write a first draft in which less than 80% of it isn't thrown out or changed in subsequent revisions seems like fantasy to me.  Fortunately, I’m passionate enough about my stories that I know I’ll keep working on them until they’re done, no matter how much time it takes. 

But it can be damn frustrating sometimes. 

This month’s IWSG question is: 
How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader? 

Not much really. Sometimes I pay attention to how an author does certain things in order to improve my writing, but usually I read the story without thinking too much about it. Movies, however, are another story. I find myself searching for the various plot points during a movie, almost to the exclusion of the story itself. And if you read my previous post, you’ll know some of this habit has rubbed off onto my family members. I guess it’s one of the dangers of being a writer.


Friday, January 27, 2017

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 156

I'm pleased to report my cold symptoms are pretty much gone--well, except for the "I feel like sleeping all the time" part. I've struggled to stay awake during work this last week, especially during those "after lunch" meetings, but what's REALLY been hard is finding the motivation to write. The only reason I've managed to write at all is because my crit group submission is due tomorrow. Needless to say, my blog reading has been severely impacted for the past couple of weeks, so I apologize to all of you whose blogs I haven't visited in a while. 

In other news, all the work I'm putting into writing is finally having a positive effect on my family. Last weekend, we saw the new animated movie, SING! I won't give away any spoilers, but an epic disaster occurs three quarters of the way into the movie (right when it's supposed to happen according to standard story structure). My daughter leaned over to me and asked, "This is the "all-is-lost moment, right?" I nodded, pleased that she'd spotted it. Then my wife, who was sitting on my other side, leaned over and whispered, "The all-is-lost moment, right?" 

I nodded again, then wiped the tear from my eye. I've never been prouder as a writer. 

Have a great weekend and enjoy the links! 


The Most Important Question in Storytelling: “Why?”

"Going Wide" Part 2 - Gaining Traction on Kobo

Selling Books Through Social Media Vs. Selling Books Through Ads

How to Write First-Person Internalization

How to Keep Readers Happy When Your Character’s Unlikeable

How to Liven Up Your Mentor Character

Story Genius on Backstory

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Writer Versus the Reader

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

It occurs to me that the writer and the reader are often at odds. This may seem surprising since both would appear to want the same thing—a great plot, colorful characters, fantastic settings, emotions that bleed through the page, etc. Where they disagree, however, is on how to get there. 

Consider the relationship between the reader and the main character. Writers expend a lot of energy getting the reader to bond with these characters, with the expectation the reader will want to cheer for them and root for a happy ending. But then what does the writer do? He/she has the character do something that makes the reader want to scream, “No, you idiot! That’s the wrong choice!” 

We’ve all read books/seen movies where the guy decides not to ask the girl out on a date because of his fear that she’ll say no, despite it being patently obvious to the rest of us she’s desperately in love with him. Or the characters whose story-worthy problem would be solved if only they had made the obvious choice in the first place. Or the superhero who could pulverize the bad guy in the first quarter of the book if only they’d get off their butt and act. Arg!!! 

Of course, the writer does this for a reason. Stories are about the hero’s journey, not just the final outcome. Otherwise books would end way too soon and the reader wouldn’t receive the appropriate dopamine rush. Of course, once they’ve finished the story, readers will tell themselves they’re happy the character took the wrong path, because it made the final victory sweeter, but who do they think they’re fooling? Those readers spent most of the book desperately wanting to reach into the book and wring the character’s neck. 

And what about when the writer keeps throwing challenge after challenger at the character. The main reason readers turn the page is because they want to see the character they’ve bonded with succeed in the end. But every time the writer throws in a new challenge, the reader has to wait that much longer for gratification. After a while, they just want the writer to stop tossing in obstacles and let the character win. “But the dopamine rush will be greater if I delay the end as long as possible,” the writer calmly explains. To which the reader screams, “I don’t care. I want my happily-ever-after now, even if I have to skip to the end of the book.” 

So it all comes down to a balancing act. As a writer, it’s your job to frustrate your reader as much as you can for as long as you can, without the book being hurled across the room in frustration. And the reader’s job is to appreciate the journey and keep reading to the end, no matter how much they want to scream at the character/author during the first three quarters of the story. 

What book has made you scream the most?


Friday, January 20, 2017

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 155

My cold is mostly gone. Yay!  Unfortunately, the wife and kids now have it. I won't even bother to predict how much writing occurs this weekend.

Check out the following Dilbert cartoon.  Writers will appreciate the humor.  Due to IP concerns, I'm only providing a link instead of embedding the cartoon into this post. 

Have a great weekend and enjoy the rest of the writing links!


Story Structure and The Hollywood Formula

The Ultimate Guide to Pitch Writing

Free Books: The Dilemma

The Craft of Characterizing on the Page

Why I Launched a Secret Pen Name

The Triangle of Likability: How to Make Your Characters Come Alive

4 Core Components of an Awesome Sidekick Character

Friday, January 13, 2017

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 154

Question:  When is the worst time to come down with a cold and chills?

Answer:  The day after your furnace breaks down.  

It's not quite as bad as it sounds.  The furnace is partially functioning, so the house is holding somewhere around the low 60's.  And we have a gas fireplace that helps keep the family room warm.  

Last night I attended my monthly critique group meeting and received some positive feedback on my story.  That's the kind of thing that fires up my creative writing juices and I usually attack my manuscript the next day with a vengeance.  Right now, however, all I feel like doing is crawling under an electric blanket and sleeping for a day or two.   Hope this cold goes away soon.  

Have a great weekend and enjoy the links! 


Creating a Print Book Box Set

The Perfect Back Cover Blurb

Crafting a Powerful Set-Up

How to Use Instagram As An Author Plus 10 Ways to Grow Your Account Organically

Planting the Clues and Hints in Your Story

Negotiating Options in Publishing Deals

How to begin a novel: 7 steps to captivating first chapters

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Silly Ways to Pull Me Out Of A Story - Example #1

The other day I came across the following advertisement for a book. 

 Earth Has Been Found 
by D F Jones 

From a world far beyond our own, the ultimate invasion is here. Earth has been found by a horde of creatures that not even the wildest imagination could invent – sinister parasitic creatures that took to their human hosts with deadly speed and bloodthirsty precision. 

Note the words I italicized: “a horde of creatures that not even the wildest imagination could invent.” Hmmm… If that's true, then how on earth did Mr. Jones invent them?  Is he from another planet, perhaps, one that has these creatures running around for him to see? 

Just to be clear, I’m not picking on Mr. Jones. This is only an advertisement and one expects a certain amount of hyperbole in sales copy, but it reminds me of a pet peeve of mine. 

How many times have you watched a television show (or read a book) where the main character is questioning a suspect about a crime they’re accused of committing, and after the suspect fervently/tearfully/dramatically protests his innocence, the main character turns to his partner and says, “This guy must be innocent. No one’s that good an actor.” Of course, that suspect is an actor, so not only does the statement strike me as ridiculous, it reminds me that I’m watching a television show instead of experiencing it as a spectator. 

Or how about when a character announces that he believes someone else’s crazy story because “no one could dream up a story like that.” Uh, you mean besides the person who wrote the show in the first place? Makes me wonder what a writer feels inside when he makes a character say “you have to be a genius to have come up with this idea.” 

Perhaps this doesn’t bother anyone else, and I’m happy for you if it doesn’t, but lines like this pull me right out of the story. It’s like the writer is kind of bumping up against the fourth wall without actually breaking it. 

Anyway, that’s my lame rant for today. 


PS, if these kind of lines didn’t bother you before, but they do now after reading this post, I'm sorry.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 153

It's cold up here in southeast Michigan. 

Now I'm sure people in the Upper Penisula might scoff at this, along with people living in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Canada, etc., but I don't care. January is just too early for the really cold weather to be upon us. 

You'd think this kind of weather would keep me indoors as much as possible (and you'd be right) and that my writing production would increase proportionally, but you'd be dead wrong. Between the cold temperature and the early onset of darkness, I find myself thinking about how nice it would be to crawl under the covers with my Kindle long before bedtime rolls around. Sitting in front of my computer and typing just doesn't give me the same warm fuzzy feeling. 

I'm sleeping late tomorrow, so it'll be interesting to see if I manage to stay up and write tonight, or if I cave and go to bed early. 

Have a great weekend and enjoy the links! 


Using Amazon KDP Ads to Sell Your Ebook on Amazon

Using a narrator character to create a mythic story

Backstory isn’t Character

Indie Publishing Paths: What’s Your Master Plan?

Surprise me

Tips for Weaving Romance into Your Novel

Selecting the Right Sentence Structure for the Right Emotion

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Insecure Writer and Being Positive

Today is January's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

What makes me an Insecure Writer this month?

Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

Perhaps this isn't an appropriate attitude for an IWSG co-host, but I don't care.  We're only four days into the new year, and my plan is to meet the new year with unbridled optimism.  No worrying about being a slow writer.  No worrying about whether my words are good enough.   Heck, I even found an inspirational quote for you.  

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

But wait! There's more!  The winners of the IWSG Anthology are being announced today. Woohoo! And if that's not enough to get your writing juices going, Tara Tyler has stopped by to talk about her love of dragons! How much more inspirational can you get? 

But before we get to Tara, let's tackle January's IWSG question.

What writing rule do you wish you'd never heard?

For me, it's the rule that says showing is always better than telling. Showing does have its place, and when applied correctly, has made my stories much, much better. However, the time I've spent stressing over whether a minor phrase is or is not telling has cost me too many sleepless nights and brought my productivity to a standstill.  Experience has since shown me that readers just don't care about details like that.

Now that that's out of the way, take it away, Tara.  

I <3 Dragons!

I've been enamored of dragons since I could read. Sorry, not the scary Chinese dragons, but the dashing, dangerous dragons that knights went out to fight. I enjoyed reading many dragon stories such as the Anne McAffrey series and Piers Anthony's  Xanth series had loads of diverse dragons. I also adored many dragon movies - Dragonheart, Dragon Slayer, Desolation of Smaug, HP and the Goblet of Fire, and my favorite favorite - How to Train Your Dragon!

image courtesy of Cartoon Bros
I was crazy about dragons - so of course I collected them... This is my room during my senior year of high school. I was a complete nerd!

It just makes sense that I would write about dragons! In Broken Branch Falls, the beasts befriend a dragon prince, become dragon friends, and ride dragons. In Cradle Rock, Flora is on the cover and she's an integral part of the story - innocent and shy, but strong-hearted, and she has allergies making her sneeze fire at the worst times...

I still dream dragon-size. I even dressed up as a dragon for a sci fi con this summer...

How about you? Do you like dragons? Have a fave? Remember any collections from when you were a kid?

Thanks so much for having me, Ken! I hope you all had a great holiday and are starting off the year on a good note! La!

Thanks again, Tara.  I don't know anyone who doesn't like dragons.  
By the way, the other co-hosts for this month are Eva @ Lillicasplace, Crystal Collier, Sheena-kay Graham, LG Keltner, and Heather Gardnerso be sure to stop by their blogs and thank them.


CRADLE ROCK, Beast World Book Two
by Tara Tyler

Gabe the goblin just saved his town Broken Branch Falls from splitting apart. He also revealed that humans--horrible creatures of myth and legend--may actually be part of their history! But seriously? Nah!

Now Ona, Gabe’s girlfriend, is headed thousands of miles away to Camp Cradle Rock for Spring Break seeking evidence of humans. Gabe knows better than to tell a stubborn ogress she’s crazy, so he’s letting her go and spending the break at the beach like a normal teenage beast. And he’s determined to have a good time without her, whether he likes it or not.

But when Gabe hears Ona went missing, he and his friends set out for the wilds of the west to find her, no matter what dangerous creatures get in his way. Not even humans.

Check out the Book Trailer!

Tara Tyler has had a hand in everything from waitressing to rocket engineering. After moving all over, she now writes and teaches math in Ohio with her three active boys and Coach Husband. Currently she has two series, Pop Travel (techno-thriller detective capers) and Beast World (fantasy adventures). To squeeze in writing, she economizes her time aka the Lazy Housewife. Make every day an adventure!

Talk to me!
Author Blog ~~ @taratylertalks ~~ Facebook ~~ Housewives Blog

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