It’s Critical to Critique

Back before I published my first book, I exercised my writing muscles in a lot of different ways. I loaded my chapters onto a critique website and got feedback from a bunch of random strangers on the internet. In turn, I’d read their stuff and give them feedback. That format taught me how to better take criticism, whether that meant swallowing my pride and killing my darlings, or if it meant disregarding their comments because they were so far from my target audience that I had to filter some of their comments as irrelevant.

It also had the added benefit of teaching me how to give feedback. This is a learned skill. I’ve searched enough for useful beta readers to know that not everyone has that skill. It’s not just about reading it and giving a thumbs up or thumbs down. Good feedback only comes when the reader is able to identify that something in the writing isn’t sitting right with them, then identifying WHY that is, and then being able to come up with a possible solution. On top of all of that, they have to have the ability to articulate all of that information to the person whose work they are critiquing.

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Indie Author Hurdles

The past couple weeks I’ve been doing my best to write the blurb for my next book. If you’re familiar with my ramblings, you probably know that I have a hard time with that particular aspect of preparing to publish. How do I make my story sound amazing and enticing, while also being completely honest about what kind of book it is and what people should expect, but without sharing so much information that it lands in spoiler territory? I’m crossing my fingers that it looks something like this:

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The Genius in the Walls

Creativity.

That elusive, fickle, fiendish angel that all artists seek and grasp for and long to hold on to.

Sometimes we call it the muse. Or inspiration. Sometimes we see it as a benevolent wisp or magic, empowering us and sending the thing we create into a higher, more transcendent space. It is our saving grace, making us brighter and better.

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The Way We See Ourselves

My sister visited me last week. We got into a conversation about how we grew up, what our relationships were like with our siblings then, and what they are now. How much we know each other, how much we don’t.

That led to a discussion about how I view myself as an adult. I was an emotional and very sensitive kid, and I think that led me to believe that I would be an emotionally needy adult. But now, looking back on close to twenty years of adulting, it surprises me to realize how comfortable I am being emotionally independent. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I just really need a hug from my husband, but I don’t feel the need to reach out to people very often. I don’t know if that’s an introvert thing, or a social thing, or something else. Regardless, I’ve decided that it’s not a good thing or a bad thing, it’s just different from what I expected I would become.

I wonder how many times we do that to ourselves. How often do we pigeon hole ourselves into a space that we think we fit—or that we think others expect us to occupy—without ever realizing that that isn’t us, at least not anymore.

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I Write In Scrivener

I use a program called Scrivener to write my books.

Why? Why not Microsoft Word? Or Pages? Or Googledocs?

Well, I considered doing a bunch of screenshots and explanations, but then realized it would be a whole lot easier to just show you. So I made this:

This is just an intro on how to get started. Scrivener is also great for compiling your book into whatever format you need (epub, mobi, PDF) but there are a lot of ins and outs for compiling that I didn’t want to get into for this movie. Maybe another time. If I get brave…

FBI. Research. Oh my.

Just like all of my other books, If I Could Stay involved a lot of rewrites. I’ll write a scene as I imagine it and then I’ll realize that I don’t know enough about a subject to be sure that the scene is realistic. For Painting Rain, it was the painting scenes. I had to go out and research renaissance painting techniques and then go back and incorporate them. For Keeping Kinley, it was how to tend an orchard. What fruit should I use? How can you tell if a pear is ready? And then I went back and rewrote. Continue reading

Point of View

I write from one perspective. All of my novels are told from the point of view of one character only—the heroine. I do that on purpose, and I’ll tell you why.

  1. With a romance, I feel like dual perspective can slow down the story-telling. You end up rehashing portions of the same action from both points of view. That can turn into more words telling less of a story.
  2. If I were to do dual perspective, I would need to write half of the book from a male point of view, and I simply don’t think I’m good enough at that to commit to it.
  3. My biggest reason, though, is this: My books are—first and foremost—romances. The big question that is going to be answered at the end of the book is always:

HOW WILL THEY END UP TOGETHER? Continue reading

Riding the eBook Industry Roller Coaster

When Just Ella had been out for just a few weeks, Amazon took notice of the fact that I was selling a few copies a day, which meant I was quite a bit more successful than a lot of self-pubbed authors, so they picked it up and marketed it for me. That made all the difference. I had the power of the great Amazon marketing machine in my corner and my sales shot up. Continue reading