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Monday, June 27, 2016

Self-Publishing: What it is, Who it's For, And How it Works

I've talked about a lot of different things on here, but ironically, one thing I haven't actually really talked about is publishing and publishing options and quite a few of my readers don't actually know much about how the publishing process works. I will admit, I am not an expert, so if you are a published author and have your own opinions and advice, please leave it in the comments for others.

For the next few weeks, I'll be blogging about the publishing process. I also have a few guests who will tell us about their experiences publishing. Today, I'm going to talk about some bare basics. So, if you already know all this stuff, feel free to browse around my older posts. Here are some you may not have seen: Playing with Foils, The Value of Shock, Your Writing Eye.

Publishing Options

If you've written a novel and want to pursue publication, you really have two main options. You can self-publish or you can publish traditionally. Self-publishing is where you publish the book instead of a publishing house. Traditional publishing is where a publishing house does it. I can't fit the basics of each in this post (heck, I can hardly fit one into one post), so I'm going to focus on self-publication first.

Monday, June 20, 2016

The "Twins as Clones" Writing Epidemic

Let's be honest, people are naturally interested in twins and multiples. When my sister had twins, she could never make it through the grocery store without people stopping and talking to her about twins in general and twins they know. Conversations became something like this (newsletter subscribers, sorry, but you have to see the video off my blog):

But while we may find twins and multiples fascinating, it's important to remember they are each distinct human beings. Why this is so hard to grasp, I don't know, but for some reason this reality rarely ever makes it into the storytelling world. Instead, most writers I know opt-in for the "Twins as Clones" approach, where they are essentially the same person in each body. You could pretty much merge the two characters into one and nothing would change. Nothing would really change in the character, and more often than not, nothing would change in the story. The twins are like one person in two bodies. Heck, even Lyra and her daemon Pantlaimon are more different from each other, and they are one person in two bodies.

I think one reason writers make twins into clones is because they've seen it done this way, and it's been done so many times that it's cliche, and of course, cliches are the first things that come into our minds when we brainstorm. I also think it happens because writers sit down and say, "I'm going to have twins in my story," and they create the characters "together" instead of as individual people. (More on that later.)

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Setting Thesaurus Books Are Here: Help Becca And Angela Celebrate!

Some of you may know from following my blog that I'm a big fan of the Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. I use it in my own writing on an almost weekly basis. In my opinion, it's a must-have for the writer's library. So when I heard that Becca and Angela had two new thesauri coming out this week, I volunteered to help publicize it on my blog. Their books really are amazing, so helpful, and thought-through.

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There's nothing better than becoming lost within the story world within minutes of starting a book. And as writers, this is what we're striving to do: pull the reader in, pull them down deep into the words, make them feel like they are experiencing the story right alongside the hero or heroine.

A big part of achieving this is showing the character's surroundings in a way that is textured and rich, delivering this description through a filter of emotion and mood. It means we have to be careful with each word we choose, and describe the setting in such a way that each sight, sound, taste, texture, and smell comes alive for readers. This is no easy task, especially since it is so easy to overdo it—killing the pace, slowing the action, and worst of all, boring the reader. So how can we create a true unique experience for readers and make them feel part of the action while avoiding descriptive missteps that will hurt the story?

Well, there's some good news on this front. Two new books have released this week that may change the description game for writers. The Urban Setting Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to City Spaces and The Rural Setting Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Personal and Natural Spaces look at the sights, smells, tastes, textures, and sounds that a character might experience within 225 different contemporary settings. And this is only the start of what these books offer writers. In fact, swing by and check out this hidden entry from the Urban Setting Thesaurus: Antiques Shop.

And there's one more thing you might want to know more about....

Rock_The_Vault_WHW1Becca and Angela, authors of The Emotion Thesaurus, are celebrating their double release with a fun event going on from June 13-20th called ROCK THE VAULT. At the heart of Writers Helping Writers is a tremendous vault, and these two ladies have been hoarding prizes of epic writerly proportions.

A safe full of prizes, ripe for the taking...if the writing community can work together to unlock it, of course.

Ready to do your part? Stop by Writers Helping Writers to find out more!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Please Don't Write this Sentence in Your Opening

I regularly read unpublished work. A lot of writers have a cool idea for their protagonist's backstory, one that is meant to create a sense of mystery for the reader. I love stories like that. I love backstories. I even love a good flashback. But I cannot tell you how many times I've read sentences similar to this one in an opening of a story:

Jasper pushed the memories away from his mind.

To the average person, there is nothing wrong with this sentence. But when you read a lot, and you read that sentence a lot, you start realizing the problems in it.

There are many variations to this sentence, or at least lead-ins to this sentence. Here are a few others: