#authortoolboxbloghop, For Writers

#authortoolboxbloghop – Connecting With Readers Through Your Blog

Connecting With Your Readers#authortoolboxbloghop

Connecting with your readers is not only important, it’s also a lot of fun. So, I’ve decided to do a little mini-series about connecting with readers for the next couple of #authortoolboxbloghop posts. Hope you enjoy! Also, I apologize for getting my post up late today, it’s been a busy week.

As a writer, connecting with your readers is essential. I’ve seen a lot of writers make a concentrated effort to connect with other writers (which is also important), but neglect making connections with readers.  With all the technology we have now, it’s easier than ever to connect with readers all around the world. Today, I’ll be focusing on making connections through blogging.

Here a few tips that have helped me:

Determine who you readers are. Before anything else, you have to know who you’re readers are. It might be tempting to say “everyone”, but while we all want “everyone” to read our books, your outreach will not be effective if your target readership is too broad.  I write YA, and specifically fantasy with a fairy-tale twist, so I know I want to connect with others who enjoy reading fantasy and fairy-tale retellings.

See what kind of blogs your readers follow. Once you’ve determined your ideal readers, then you need to find the kind of blogs they like to follow. A google search can help with this.  Type in your genre followed by  “book blog”.  I’ve discovered the YA community is great, and many of the readers are also avid bloggers. They enjoy book blogs with book reviews, reading challenges, and awesome giveaways.

Format your blog accordingly. After you’ve seen the kind of blogs your readers like, you can format yours similarly. Since I know my readers like book reviews, challenges and giveaways, I make sure to incorporate those things into my blog.

Interact with similar blogs. Not only do you want to research blogs to give you ideas what your readers like, but you also want to interact with these blogs. Comments and likes are key in making connections with others. I keep a list of my favorite YA blogs and set aside time each week to visit and comment on those blogs.

Participate in blog hops or challenges. This is taking it a step further than just commenting or liking. Many communities have a blog hop (similar to this one) or some kind of other challenge where participants search for said challenge (often by a hashtag on social media) to comment and like posts that are part of the challenge. I participate in “Top Ten Tuesday”, a challenge where the host gives a topic for each week and the participants list their top ten books on that topic. It’s a lot of fun to see who else might have listed the same books you did. You can check out my last Top Ten Tuesday post here.

These are just some of the things that have helped me make some great friends and find my readers via blogging. What are some ways you make connections with readers through your blog? Let me know in the comments!

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This post is part of the #authortoolboxbloghop. It’s hosted by Raimey Gallant. For more details and to join in the fun, go here.

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#authortoolboxbloghop, For Writers

#AuthorToolboxBlogHop – Making Time for Writing

Making Time For Writing

I know sometimes making time for writing can be a struggle. Recently, it’s been a bit of a struggle for me. In the last couple of months, illness, my day job, and family responsibilities have crowded in, and I’ve hard to work harder to make time for my writing. So I thought for this bloghop, I’d share some of the techniques I use to fit my writing time in.

1. Schedule your writing time on your calendar. This is especially important if, like me, you can’t keep the same schedule for each day. Some days my writing time is early in the day, and sometimes it’s in the evening.

2. Set realistic time goals. Sometimes we have a habit of overloading our schedules, and this is true for our writing as well. Some days, writing time might have to be a bit shorter due to all the other responsibilities you have to fulfill that day. For instance, if you have doctor appointments during the day, your daughter’s ballet recital in the evening, and  all your normal responsibilities, you may have to make your writing time shorter. On other days, where you have extra free time, you can make your writing time longer. I find it usually balances out in the end.

3. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize. Ask yourself, “What things must get done today?” This helps you identify how much time you can set aside for writing. This also applies to your writing. What projects are the most important and need your attention now?

4. Be prepared for the unexpected. Sometimes unexpected things happen: illness, accidents, death in the family. While you can’t really plan for such an event, you can be prepared. First, in your mindset – when something like this happens, realize you might have to take a step back from your writing. This doesn’t mean you’re quitting, it just means there are some other things you have to deal with first.

Second, don’t lock yourself into a tight deadline. In other words, plan more than enough time to complete your projects. For instance, if you know a certain project typically takes you three weeks to complete, give yourself four. This way if something happens to knock off your regular writing time, you have a little time to take off.

5. Take time for yourself. Sometimes you might need to take some time to recharge yourself. I know some people hold to the “write every day” principle, but I find that after a grueling project it helps to take a little time off. This gives you time to reflect on what you want to do next, helps you prepare for the next project (i.e. brainstorming), and lets you focus on self care which allows you to be at your best for the next project. Journaling is a good way to still get some writing in during this time.

These techniques help keep me on track, and I hope you’ll find them helpful too. Also, keep in mind that everyone has bad days, and everyone fails at times. The important thing is to keep at it.

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This post is part of the #authortoolboxbloghop. It’s hosted by Raimey Gallant. For more details and to join in the fun, go here.

How about you? What techniques do you find most helpful in making time for your writing? Let me know in the comments!

#authortoolboxbloghop, For Writers

Editing, Editing, and More Editing – #authortoolboxbloghop

 

pink typewriter

In honor of March being National Novel Editing Month, I wanted to share some things I’ve learned about editing.  Editing is hard! But it can also be fun – seeing your novel turn into a polished manuscript that’s ready to be published.

When I first started editing, I didn’t know what I was doing, and that made it difficult for me. Rather than just jumping into the editing process, you need to have a plan. And to make a good plan, you need to understand the different kinds of editing.

There are four basic types of editing. (Sometimes people lump the first two together, going with three types, but I find it easier to work with four.)

1. Developmental Editing – This editing looks at your novel as a whole. Does everything make sense? Have you shared all the information the readers needs? Have you shared unnecessary things? Are things happening in the right order? Are there any plot holes? At this stage you’re not worrying about spelling and grammar – you’re just trying to be sure your story makes sense.

2. Content Editing – This is a more in depth version of the developmental edit. You’re looking at overall style and pacing, checking to be sure that you’ve sufficiently corrected any plot holes or any other content issues. Are you using the same tense throughout? Does the point of view stay the same, or only change when you intend it to? Is the story a cohesive manuscript?

3. Copy Editing – This stage of editing is when you start looking at grammar and spelling errors. Are there any awkward sentences that need to fixed? Is everything spelled correctly? Are you using the right words for what you want to say? Have you left out any words? Have you used a certain word too many times? Have you used too many adverbs? Have you used the passive voice too often?

4. Proofreading – In theory, this is the final edit – checking line by line to be sure there are no more errors. Sometimes this needs to be done a few times by a few different eyes.

Once you understand the types of edits, you can make your plan. Depending of whether you intend to self-publish, or publish through a traditional publishing house, your plan may vary slightly. Also, you have to understand how you work so you can determine how many rounds of edits you might need.

Stephen King suggests going through three rounds of edits before you ever show your manuscript to anyone, and I agree with him. You certainly want to do a developmental and a content edit before anyone looks at your manuscript, so you can be sure your novel is conveying what you want it to convey.

My editing plan goes as follows (I am still in the middle of this process, and am planning to self-publish my novels):

I typically do three or four rounds of development/content edits (usually two on the computer and two on paper), then send my manuscript to my beta readers. After they have finished with it, I take in all their notes, go through a final content round and a round or two of copy edits, and send it off to my editor.

After my editor has finished, I take in her notes and do two rounds of copy edits. Then I give the manuscript to some friends and family (who have an extensive knowledge of grammar/spelling rules ect.) for a proof. I take in their notes and make corrections, and then do another final proof on paper. So before my manuscript is finished, it typically goes through 10-15 edits, and sometimes more.

What about you? Do you have an editing plan you always follow? What’s your favorite part of the editing process? Let me know in the comments!

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This post is part of the #authortoolboxbloghop hosted by Raimey Gallant. To check out all the participating blogs, or to join in the fun go here.

#authortoolboxbloghop, For Writers

“What’s In A Name?” – Naming Your Characters

name book

Great characters deserve great names, but how do you determine what that name should be? Some writers just write whatever name comes to them. They like the way it sounds, so it should work, right? Not necessarily. There are a few things to consider when naming your characters.

First off, you don’t want to have characters with names that sound the same or begin with the same letter. Your readers will inevitably mix them up. I’ve had it happen  to me. I’m reading along when I suddenly realize, “Wait- this isn’t that character, this is that other character. How long have I been mixed up?” I furiously flip back through pages I’ve already read, trying to determine where exactly I got confused. It’s not a good feeling, and you don’t want your readers to experience it.

Second, you want your characters’ names to match up with their personalities. For instance, if you are naming a scaredy-cat character who never faces his fear, you wouldn’t want to name him Eric, which means “powerful”.  A baby naming book is a great tool for finding names for your character.  In fact, sometimes it’s fun to peruse a naming book and write down names you like for use in a future story. I like The Name Book by Dorothy Astoria.

Third, you want your names to be consistent. (This pertains especially to fantasy and sci-fi.) By this, I mean you don’t want to have a lot of characters with exotic sounding names like Thordan, Boriel, and Cantor, and then have one character named Tom. When a reader comes to that name, they’ll be drawn out of the story just trying to figure out why his name is Tom. The exception to this rule would be if there actually is a specific reason for his name being Tom – like maybe he is from a different place than all your other characters.

Fourth, make sure names are believable and not too hard to pronounce. You want to be creative, but you don’t want to turn off readers. Try saying your chosen name out loud. Show the name to some friends and have them read it back to you. If it seems a little too made-up or hard to pronounce, it probably is. Also, if you can’t find the name in a baby book or a online name generator, you should probably nix it.

Fifth, minor characters might only be known by characteristic/appearance. Sometimes we have characters so minor they don’t need an actual name, but they do need something shorter than a full description for each time you refer to them. For instance, perhaps there is a mean boy tormenting your MC. He could simply be referred to as Meanie once you’ve introduced him as such.  Maybe there is an extremely pale girl who rides the same bus as your MC, but never actually talks to the MC. She could go by Ghost.

I recently read a book where the MC’s name was Seredipity.  Kind of a cool name, right? At least it was until the author gave the MC the nickname Pity. Yes, Pity!  Every time I read the name I couldn’t help but think, “What a horrible name! Are we suppose to pity her? Does she pity herself? Who would want to be called Pity?” I struggled to get through that book.

So you get the idea. You want to use creativity in naming characters, but you also want to be sure your characters’ names make sense, and that they don’t turn the reader off.

How do you choose your characters’ names? What tips do you use to help you choose names? Let me know in the comments!

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This post is part of the #AuthorToolboxBlogHop hosted by the lovely Raimey Gallant. To find out more about the blog hop and check out the other participants’ post go here.

diyMFA book club, For Writers

A Writer’s Reading List – diyMFA book club

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Today I’m doing my final post for the diyMFA book club. (If this is the first time you’ve heard about diyMFA, you can find out all about it here.) One of the prompts was to share your reading list.  I enjoyed the reading section of the book, and I loved the way Gabriela broke the writer’s reading list down into three categories. The great thing about it – you tailor it to your genre. The three categories are:

Craft Books: These are the books that deal with the craft of writing –  books that help you improve your writing.  Currently, these are the craft books I have on my TBR list (some of them I’ve read parts of, but I haven’t read any of them in their entirety):

    1.  diyMFA by Gabriela Pereira

    2.  Steering the Craft by Ursula K. Le Guin

    3.  Story Genius by Lisa Cron

    4.  Self-Editing For Writers by Renni Brown and Dave King

    5.  Social Media for Writers by Tee Morris and Pip Ballantine 

(You can add me as a friend on Goodreads, where I have a bookshelf full of these books 🙂 )

 

The Classics: These are the books that are classics in your genre. I write YA – which doesn’t have as many classics as some other genres. Widely considered the first YA book, The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, was published in 1967. I’ve already read this classic and loved it! Here are some more YA classics on my TBR list:

1. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume

2. A Wrinkle in Time by Ursula Le Guin

3. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

4. Seventeenth Summer by Maureen Daly (Written in 1942, some people considered this to be the first YA book, as opposed to The Outsiders, so I’ll have to give it a look)

5. The Grey King by Susan Cooper

Comp. Titles: These are books that are comparable to the book you are writing. I write YA fantasy with a fairytale twist (some are retellings, some are just stylized like fairytales), so I read a lot of fantasy, especially retellings. I don’t have a specific list for this group, because I am always on the lookout for these books and am continually adding to my TBR list. This month I have selected several books to read for the #fantasticfeb reading challenge, and several of them fall into this category. You can see my #fantasticfeb list here.

Another diyMFA book club prompt was to share a picture of your writing space.

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I write a lot of different places, but I do have a desk where I do a fair amount of that writing. There’s a window on the left side which lets in lots of natural light. I find this energizing and motivating.  Also, I’ve hung a lot of inspirational pictures above it. 🙂

writing space

I love this desk! I’ve had since I graduated from college. One day, my grandpa (the same grandpa who helped inspire me to become a writer by telling me his stories) and my dad helped me comb through garage sales to find a sturdy desk. We found this one for a dollar.  It needed some cleaning, a little sanding, and a new coat of stain, and then it was ready to go. Pretty awesome, right?

 

So how about you -What’s on your reading list? Do you have a favorite craft book? Where do you write? Let me know in the comments.

diyMFA book club, For Writers

diyMFA Book Club – Characters and Story Type

Today I’m responding to a couple more diyMFA book club prompts. Both of these two prompts were particularly interesting to me, because I feel like they given me some insight into my current WIP.

First, is which supporting character type is your favorite to write?

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There are five supporting character archtypes discussed in the diyMFA book:

The fool – This is the character who tells the MC the things he or she needs to hear/face, but won’t face on his or her own. Often this character seems shallow in the beginning of the story,  but as the story progresses you see that is not the case.

The love interest – This one is pretty self-explanatory. This is the MC’s love interest. Sometimes there can be more than one, creating more conflict in the story.

The mentor – This is the character who takes the MC under his/her wing and often tells the MC things he/she wouldn’t otherwise know.

The BFF – Again, pretty self-explantory. This is the best friend of the MC. This is another case where having more than one can help create more interest in the story.

The villain – This is the person who is out to destroy the MC, and this is my favorite supporting character to write. I love seeing how the villain came to be, and writing at least little of his/her origin story. I also like comparing the MC to the villain – hi-lighting the choices the MC makes that keeps him/her from going down the same path as the villain.

When talking about villain stories, I have to mention Heartless by Marissa Meyer. This is an excellent origin story about how the Queen of Hearts came to be. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.

The next prompt moves from characters to story. Just like with character types, there are several story types.

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There are three basic story types:

1. The protagonist faces a more powerful antagonist. 

2. The protagonist faces an antagonist of equal power.

3. The protagonist faces himself.

 

My favorite story type is the first one – the underdog story. I love writing about characters that triumph even when it seems unlikely that they will. Even in real life, I always root for the underdog.

Just like with many of things, your story can be a mix of these types. Often the protagonist is going to have to confront him/her self. These scenes are fun to write. I like discovering why characters make certain choices and seeing how those choices are going to change their journey.

What is your favorite character archetype? What about your favorite story type? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

I’ve really enjoyed participating in the diyMFA book club, and I will be posting about it once more later this week. Though the book club is pretty much over, there are a lot of great resources available on the diyMFA website.

And if you’re on Instagram, check out the giveaway I’m hosting @charityrau.

 

diyMFA book club, For Writers

Creativity and Storytelling Superpower

BookClub-Badge-Teal

 

This is my second post for the diyMFA book club, and I’m responding to two different prompts. 🙂

The first prompt: What is your storytelling superpower?

storytelling superpower

I got disruptor.

Disruptor – You’re drawn to larger-than-life characters who rebel against the status quo. Your stories champion people who will do whatever it takes to change their societies, overcome all odds, and defeat tyranny. Whether your character makes a small but significant personal choice or starts an all-out revolution, at the core your stories are about sharing your ideals with the world.

I do love to write about characters who overthrow evil tyrants 🙂 , so I think this fits. This quiz is pretty fun, and gives you some insight on why you might be drawn to certain characters.

If you want to take the storytelling superpower quiz, you can do so here.

The second prompt: What feeds your creativity?

creativity

So many things!

I find inspiration in art, nature, family and friends, people watching, books, and movies, to name a few. One thing that I found really helpful in Gabriela’s book is the idea of having an ORACLE (outrageous ridiculously awesome creative literary exercises). An oracle is a box or container filled with things that inspire you. Whenever you’re having an uncreative moment, you go to your ORACLE and look through it.

Up until this point, I had just been keeping a notebook with ideas, but I realized how helpful an ORACLE could be. So many times I forget things that have given me a moment of inpiration. So I have decided to start my own ORACLE.

oracle box

I found this box which I think is perfect. I love the color and sparkly mermaids! They fit fit right in with my genre (fairytale/fantasy).

Some things I’m including: inspiring pictures (a folder for character images, and a folder for setting images), story cubes, and a jar of writing prompts. I’m also including the my Writer’s Digest magazines, because they always provide inspiration. 🙂

oracle contents

The thing I really like about the ORACLE is that it can grow with me. As I find more inspiring things, I can add them into the ORACLE. This is going to be great for my creativity!

What’s your storytelling superpower? Do you have an ORACLE? What kind of things do you keep in it? Let me know in the comments.