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The National Book Festival

This past Saturday, my husband and I went to the National Book Festival, and it was so cool! They are now hosting it in the convention center rather than on the National Mall. It’s a lot easier to move around and it’s air-conditioned. 🙂

We got there right when the doors opened, so we were able to visit all the exhibits before it got really crowded. I loved the Parade of States exhibit.  Each state had its own table and there was a state booklet you took around to get stamped by each state. The people there from Indiana actually knew of the little town I grew up in, and the people from Illinois knew the tiny town I was born in, so that was cool.

Also, PBS had booth for The Great American Read that was fun. They had a wheel you could spin to win a prize. I landed on the special space that allowed me to pick a prize from a box. I got a journal.

I had heard about The Great American Read, but didn’t know exactly what it was about, so I was glad I was able to find out more about it, because now I’m participating in the event. (More to come about The Great American Read in a later post, so if you’re interested, be on the lookout for that.)

There were three authors I was hoping to meet and get books signed by, and I was able to meet all three and get my books signed.

I got When Dimple Met Rishi signed by Sandhya Menon,  Wonder Woman and The Language of Thorns signed by Leigh Bardugo, and The Darkest Minds signed by Alexandra Bracken.

All in all, it was a great day, and if you ever have the chance to check out The National Book Festival, I’d highly recommend it!

What about you? Have you been to any book festivals?  What did you like best about it?

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#Authortoolboxbloghop – Tips for Editing Your Novel

editing your novel

If you follow me on Instagram (@charityrau), you know I have been working through revisions on my novel.  And in March, I shared the different stages of editing (check that post out here).  So, for today’s post I decided I’d share some specific tips for editing your novel. These are some things that have really helped me strengthen my writing, and I hope they’ll help you as well. 🙂

1. Watch out for filter words. Filter words are words like heard, looked, and felt. When you use these words, you filter your characters’ experiences through your words rather than letting the reader share the experience with the character. This goes along with the whole “show, don’t tell” principle.

For example:

Filter word sentences: “I pulled out the bag and looked through it. It had everything I needed.”

Better sentences: “I pulled out the bag and reached inside. A little vial of syrup, dried roots, and plenty of rags. It had everything I needed.”

2. Limit passive sentence use. Passive sentences can be used in some instances, but in most cases an active sentence is better. Active sentences help pull the reader into the action.

For example:

Passive sentence: “The quiet flip of her covers told me she was angry.”

Better active sentences: “She flipped her covers over her head and didn’t say a word. Great, she was angry at me.”

Another example (with a passive/active verb):

Passive sentence: “The team was cheered on by the girls.”

Active sentence: “The girls cheered on the team.”

3. Remove unnecessary adverbs. Adverbs are tricky. Sometimes they can help tell your reader something, but often they aren’t needed. In fact, many times all you need is a stronger verb.

For example:

With adverb: “She walked unsteadily down the stairs.”

With a stronger verb: “She stumbled down the stairs.”

or:

With adverb – “He bowed low and removed his hat, twisting it nervously in his hands.”

Without adverb – “He bowed low and removed his hat, twisting it in his hands.”

It still makes sense without the adverb, and you can infer from the twisting action that he is nervous.

4. Cut out obvious statements. Sometimes an action already tells the reader your character’s emotion or attitude, so there is no need to state that emotion or attitude.

For example:

Obvious statement: “I kicked at a rock in the driveway, angry at the spell and that idiotic woman who cast it.”

If she’s kicking a rock, we can figure out she’s angry.

Better sentences: “I kicked at a rock in the driveway. Just who did that woman think she was, casting a spell on us just to get herself out of a jam?”

5. Remove all the unnecessary thats. ‘That’ is another tricky word. We add it to sentences all the time, but it’s rarely ever needed.

For example:

With that “At least she was pleased that Stephan had invited me to the Spring Ball.”

Without that – “At least she was pleased Stephan had invited me to the Spring Ball.”

As you can see removing the ‘that’ doesn’t change the meaning of the sentence.

These are just a few things that can help strengthen your writing. Both the “that” and the “-ly” adverbs can be fixed with a Find search through your document. The others will take a bit more work to find and correct, but it is worth it in the end!

What about you? What tips do you have for editing novels? Let me know in the comments!

Nano Blog and Social Media Hop2

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.

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Save Money on Professional Edits—6 Easy Ways to Clean Up Your Own Manuscript

Some great tips for editing your work!

Kristen Lamb's Blog

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Over my career I have literally edited thousands of works, most of them written by emerging writers. My greatest frustration always was (and still is) when I couldn’t even GET to critiquing the deeper story elements because I was too distracted by these all too common oopses.

Good editors are NOT cheap. There are also many editors who charge by the hour. If they’re spending their time fixing oopses you could’ve easily repaired yourself? You’re burning cash and time. Yet, correct these problems, and editors can more easily get to the MEAT of your novel. This means you will spend less money and get far higher value.

#1 The Brutal Truth about Adverbs, Metaphors and Similes

I have never met an adverb, simile, or metaphor I didn’t LOVE. I totally dig description, but it can present problems.

First of all, adverbs are not ALL evil. Redundant adverbs are evil. If…

View original post 1,279 more words

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My Best Reads of 2016

I read a lot of good books this year(I read a total of 60). It was hard to narrow them down to a short list, but these are the ones that finally made it:

 

cinder

Cinder by Marissa Meyer. This retelling of Cinderella was set in a futuristic space age world, and I loved it! I’m not that into Star Wars and stuff like that, so I wasn’t sure if I would like this book, but it delivered.  The characters are relatable, the world-building is amazing, and I couldn’t put the book down.  I’ve already bought the rest of the books in this series, but haven’t read them yet. This was one of my top five reads for the year, and tied with another book for my top read.

 

theshallowgraves

These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly. This was a mystery set in the Victorian era. A young woman tries to discover what really happened to her father – she knows he didn’t kill himself like everyone is saying. An attractive reporter aids her in her search. I loved the heroine. She has the courage to face the truth even when it isn’t easy, and she doesn’t let the strict standards of the time prevent her from finding answers. This was one of my top five reads for the year.

 

glitteringcourt

The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead.  The Glittering Court offers servant girls the opportunity to change their lot in life. They are taken to a special place where they are trained to be ladies before they are sent to a newly discovered country where they will marry the noblemen who already live there. Though already a lady, Adelaide pretends to be a servant and sneaks into this group to escape marriage to an odious man. There was lots of glamour and adventure in this book.

 

thesiren

The Siren by Kiera Cass. This was a beautiful retelling of “The Little Mermaid”. Both main characters were willing to sacrifice everything for the one they loved. I even cried a little while reading this book.

 

thegreathunt

The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins. A giant beast attacks the kingdom, and the king calls all the hunters to help catch the beast.  The prize for killing the beast, the hand of his daughter in marriage.  The princess balks at marrying a stranger, but wants to save the kingdom, so she agrees.  Once the hunters arrive at the palace, she is surprised to find she connects with one in particular. The only thing I didn’t like was the cliffhanger this book ended on.  I can hardly wait to read the second book.

 

queenofhearts

Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes. This is a story about the future queen of hearts. Dinah is set to become queen, but not everyone is willing for that to happen. It seems she can’t really trust anyone. Her enemies aren’t just seeking the crown, they are also seeking to take her life. Another cliffhanger, but the next book comes out this month! This was one of my top five reads, and the other book tied for my favorite read of the year.

 

ruined

Ruined by Amy Tintera. Emelina’s family has all been killed.  She seeks revenge by posing as the prince’s intended.  She marries him, planning to infiltrate the kingdom and exact her revenge, but she starts to fall for the prince. I loved the way you see Emelina change through the book, she was relatable and I felt like I was right there with here.

 

theshadowqueen

The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine.  I loved this retelling of Snow White. A bit darker than the original, it was full of adventure and romance.  The heroine is brave and determined.  This was one of my top three reads for the year!

 

daughterofdeepsilence

Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan. Frances was one of three survivors on a cruise ship that sank. She knows the truth of what really happened, but the other two survivors have fabricated a story that everyone believes. Frances searches for a way to prove the truth. This fast-paced thriller kept me turning pages into the night.

 

worldsofinkandshadow

Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley.  Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne Bronte have created worlds that come to life. They love venturing inside those worlds to escape the mundaneness of their lives. But Branwell starts to loose his sanity and the girls begin to loose their grip on the real world. When they try to let go, the characters they have created turn against them, refusing to let them leave. A bit different from what I usually read, I really enjoyed this book.  It gave some insight to the Bronte siblings lives and the relationships they had with one another.  After reading this book, I was motivated to find out more about the Brontes.

 

theforbiddenwish

The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury. This is an unique take on Aladdin.  Zahra is the jinni in the lamp Aladdin finds. As she stays with Aladdin, waiting to grant him his three wishes, she starts to fall in love with him.  When she’s offered the chance to be free of the lamp forever, she must decide if her freedom is worth losing Aladdin. This was one of my top five reads for the year!

If you want to check out the rest of my reads for the year, you can see them on goodreads here.  What was your favorite read in 2016?  Let me know in the comments!

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Tis The Season To Give: So, A Special Giveaway!

I haven’t posted much lately, but I have been busy!  I participated in Nanowrimo, and I’ve been working on preparing  my first novel for publication. I’m going to be able to share details about that soon.  I’m very excited about that, but for the next couple of weeks, I will just be posting regularly here. I certainly didn’t want to neglect posting about my favorite holiday!

The holidays are such a special time of year. Lots of festivities, beautiful decorations, and people are generally  in a happier mood.  And giving gifts to one another is a symbol of the greatest gift God gave us. So for me, one of the best ways to celebrate the season is to give to others.

There are so many ways to give too! You can give gifts you’ve made or bought to loved ones.  You can give toys to underprivileged children. You can give food to those who need it. You can donate to a favorite charity. But not everything has to be monetary. You can also volunteer your time at a shelter or nursing home. And the end of the year is a great time to clean out your closet and donate unwanted clothes.

Regardless of what holiday you celebrate, this is a wonderful time to share with others.  Take time to reflect upon all the blessings you’ve received this year, and consider how you can spread some of that goodness to others.

And in that spirit of giving, I’m having a special giveaway for my followers!  I’m giving away a copy of Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes  (one of my best reads this year) along with a “Alice in Wonderland” coloring book and a set of colored pencils.

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It will run until the 22nd. I will choose a winner on the 23rd and notify them by email. Click on the link below to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway