Category Archives: writing craft

Non Grammar Divas, Unite!

Moonday Mania

today a blog on writing, tomorrow a blog on who knows what

I’m starting this blog with full disclosure. I am a romance writer. I write hot, sexy, paranormal romance with edge. Frequently about New Adults. What I’m not, is a grammar diva. I have trouble even spelling grammar. I have to think about it. Are there two a‘s or is there an e at the end. I did graph sentences in seventh grade, so I’m pretty good with telling whom the subject of a sentence is. And I’ve learned over the years how to use “whom” vs “who”, although I have to tell you I never ever used whom until I became a full fledged writer about six years ago. Who uses whom? Who cares?

flowers lynn kelley author

These flowers have nothing to do with grammar, mistakes, or who/whom. I just wanted to throw in some pictures and I love what Lynn Kelley posts on Flickr!

Writers care. And once you start hanging around with people who care, and who tell you they are looking at all those tiny things when they read, you start to care too.,

I got through school with good grades in English because here is the trick they never tell you. If you can muddle through, if you write correctly for the most part, if you speak well and act as if you understand, they put you into the higher level classes where they don’t do grammar.

That’s right. At the higher levels of schooling it’s all about writing and reading and understanding, but they won’t let you go there until they think you can do the grammar stuff. You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to be right a higher percentage of the time. So I did my time in seventh grade and learned how to diagram and passed the tests and moved on to classes where no one really worried about it as long as your papers were readable. And mine were readable because I read higher level writers.

From Sci-Fi to classics I read everything, so I naturally learned how to write like the people I read. And I absorbed correct grammar. For the most part.

That’s why I have an editor, a copy editor, and a line editor. They are the magic behind my writing, the people who wave their wands and make sure that what I have to say comes out in a cohesive fashion.

DISCLAIMER: I have no editor for my website or my blog. That’s you, dear reader. I make mistakes. Thankfully, some kind reader will point them out to me and I’m able to fix them. Whew!

Back to the blog:

I appreciate my back up team in endless ways. If they were at my house I would bring them donuts. They aren’t, so they don’t get any, but I THINK about giving them donuts. And considering how unhealthy a donut is I am sure they are thanking me for NOT giving them any crullers, long johns, or honey dipped glazed.

But sometimes, even with all their help. And all their knowledge. I don’t like what they do. What happens when the person who knows grammar does something to your manuscript that you, the author, hates? Do you have the right to speak up? Do you take the risk of offending these people who have done nothing but help you with your writing. After all, they are the smart ones. They passed grammar 101, 202, and 505. Classes I didn’t even have to take to become a writer. All I had to do was sit down and type. They’re the ones that know what’s right. Right?

Not necessarily.

Cana Lillies

Some rules are more flexible than others. Some have more than one right way to do them and it may not be your “voice” to do them the way your copy editor or editor wants you to. That’s why they send you the corrected copy for you to look over. It’s because they are not only imperfect and human too, but there are discretionary powers in being an author.

You have the right and the responsibility to make changes, to ask your editor for a second opinion, to consult grammar books until your fingers get calluses and you actually understand what a dangling participle is. In fact it is not just a right, it’s your job.

I got so excited about this topic that I have written a mini-novel about it, so this blog will be continued. Tune in next time to find out when it is permissible to argue with your editor, the wrong way and the right way to do so, and when you should just roll over and accept the inevitable. 

Meanwhile, leave your comments in the box, sign up for my new release only email blasts, and make sure your writing is clear, concise and donut worthy.

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Filed under Moonday mania, Writer's Journey, writing craft

WARNING- Cliffhangers ahead!

Moonday Mania

a blog for readers and writers of all shapes and styles

Should your books come with a warning label? Should the publisher or author post it right on the front cover that you are heading for dangerous waters and need a puffy orange life jacket to navigate the rapids ahead? I think so. Definitely in the case of New York Times bestselling author Karen Marie Moning‘s urban fantasy Fever series.

I started off the series innocently enough. I’ve been putting off reading them as I am writing a fae fantasy romance series, Tales of the Black Court, and I haven’t wanted to mix up my world building. But my fae romance world is holding steady, I have The Dark Huntsman finished and Prince By Blood and Bone in a complete rough draft, so I decided to treat myself. Thank romance that I waited until her entire series was finished because even though I loved every page there are some major cliffhangers!

dark fever by karen marie moningBook one, Dark Fever, was complete in itself. I enjoyed it. Dark and with some nice twists on the fae that I appreciated it made me anxious to read the next book, but I didn’t feel like I was left suspended. Not so with book two, Blood Fever. Blood Fever left me hanging by my fingers, heading for a drop. But, once again, I could handle it. Luckily I had book three, Fae Fever ready to go, so I didn’t feel too cheated.

But then I read Fae Fever and was left not just heading towards the rapids, but swimming without a life vest in the dark waters with the sound of the rapids dead ahead.

Major cliffhanger!

I’m lucky. This series is complete and I’m able to read the books one after another, but I can imagine how upset readers were with having to wait for the next book, and the next one, because I am assured that Dream Fever also has an ending that makes you want to turn the page… but there is no page to turn.

I asked this question on an author’s loop that I am a member of: do you leave cliff hangers at the end of a book that is part of a series? Does this upset your readers?

The answer yes- readers get upset. Don’t to it. Unless…

Unless you have the next book ready to go and can get it to your readers hot, anxious, sweaty hands in record time. And don’t do it in romance. I have to agree. If your book is a romance, like my books, the relationship should not end on a cliffhanger. Once you do that you are out of the romance category and into something else. Urban fantasy, mystery series, maybe even serial women’s fiction…if there is such a thing. HEAs (Happily Ever Afters) are essential for romance. Or at least HFNs (Happy For Now).

But what about series threads? Can you have a cliffhanger in a romance series thread?

The consensus was not a cliffhanger, per se, but definitely leave some dangling threads.

In the Tales from the Black Court, that’s what I’ve done. I’ve kept some suspense throughout the series, but no romance cliffhangers.  All my couples get there HEA or at least an HFN. What about you?

shadow fever by karen marie moningDo you love cliffhangers? Karen Marie Moning has made it work for her. Her Fever series is very popular and fans raced out to buy Shadow Fever and find out what happens in the end of the series. And I have to admit, I loved her writing. I can’t wait to find out what happens and it woldn’t deter me from reading more of her books. But I might delay. Just in case.

Would you keep reading a series that left you scrabbling by your fingertips? Or would you get mad and give up? Have you ever been stuck waiting a year for a book that left you hanging?

Want information about the release of my new books?  Subscribe to my new release only mailing list where I promise to only send information on new releases and special sales- and not to clog your inbox.

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Filed under Fae, Moonday mania, writing craft

Writing Linkies for Monday

Moonday Mania

a blog for writers by (you guessed it!) a writer!

I’ve been all over the net lately sucking up valuable information and insight from other authors and bloggers, so today I thought I’d share some of my favorites. I’m taking a page from Jenny Hansen (Jenny calls this “pimping”) and asking you to share your own favorite links, either a post you love of your own crafting, or someone else’s that you love.

1. For a good kick in the keister check out Writer’s in the Storm guest author Jane Porter’s Ten Keys to Success and Survival in the Romance Industry.

http://writersinthestorm.wordpress.com/2013/05/15/ten-keys-to-success-survival-in-the-romance-industry/

she's gone country by jane porterJane’s been an author for a long time and she’s seen many of the changes that have rocked out publishing world. I first was introduced to her with her single title She’s Gone Country, the story of a divorced mom of two going back to her home on the range. Loved it!

There are so many lines in her blog post that I wanted to quote here that I realized I ran the risk of copyright infringement! So here is just one, and you’ll have to visit Writer’s in the Storm for the rest.

“I put Attitude near the top of the Survival list because attitude is everything.

Your attitude will make or break you.  Your attitude is what will set you apart from other authors.  Attitude is what will get you to the finish line—will define how successful you’ll be.  And attitude doesn’t just happen.  You make attitude happen.  You choose your outlook, the way you cope with rejection.  You choose your friends.  You choose when and if you’re going to keep writing.”

See! You want to read the rest of the article now, don’t you?

And there is a follow up blog Ten Keys to Success and Survival Part 2

 http://writersinthestorm.wordpress.com/2013/05/17/ten-keys-to-success-and-survival-part-2/

2. Another fascinating post is by one of my favorite bloggers, Dean Wesley Smith. Dean (Yes, I am assuming first name basis here. After all I visit his blog all the time.) If you want to know what is really going on with our crazy industry, you need to be reading his blog, and his wife, Kathryn Rusch’s blogs as well. They’ve done it all from script writing, to working with the Big Six, to owning their own publishing company and they spend a lot of time thinking and reading and writing about publishing. This blog is about how Indie Authors can sell in book stores and why it’s not just feasible to try, but it’s happening now. To them. This will change how print books sell. Actually, it already is.

http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/?p=9148

3. Her Story Calls is a fun writer run blog where some of my pals write about all sorts of topics from their day to day lives to OMG writing! But starting May 25th they are dedicating their blog to fighting cancer. If you are an author with a cancer story: survival, friends, family, whatever has affected you and yours, they want you as a guest blogger. Check out their site for this amazing opportunity to share your story and to raise money for The American Cancer Society. And if you are lucky enough to be someone who hasn’t been affected, hop on by May 25th-June 25th to support those who have.

http://herstorycalls.com/2013/05/10/blog-for-a-cause/

That’s all folks! So, what links do you love this week? You can pimp your own or someone else’s, or both!

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Filed under Moonday mania, writing craft

To Write Faster, And Beyond!

Moonday Mania

a speedy blog

I’ve dedicated the month of April to exploring how to write faster. You can check out the first post on The Speed of Writing HERE, the second post, Writing at the Speed of Rachel HERE, and last week’s post Writing Even Faster, Zoom! Zoom!, HERE.

We’ve covered why we might want to write faster, some simple steps I’ve borrowed from Rachel Aaron including managing writing time in a different way and managing your planning in a different way, but we’ve missed Rachel’s third step: enthusiasm. Rachel found that she wrote faster the scenes that she truly wanted to write. You know, those scenes we writers think of in the car, driving way too fast, and you’re so excited you can’t wait to jot down a few notes, but you have to wait. In fact Rachel had to wait until she’d covered obligatory parts of the book first.

But wait, what obligatory parts of the book?

You know, those introductory things, back story, important plot pieces that if she didn’t write them then the reader wouldn’t get the story or understand the exciting parts. But then Rachel had an epiphany. If she was bored by those obligatory scenes, wouldn’t the reader be bored too? So she stared not writing those boring scenes. She changed them until she was excited about them. And a funny thing happened. Her writing speed increased!

So, how do we do this? How do we decide if a scene is important or how do we even know it’s exciting before we are deep in the bog of writing a boring scene?

This is what I’m going to work on next. I’m going to try to look ahead to the next day’s scenes and see if I’m excited to write them. I’m going to try reading my notes just before bed and lie down and see if I can’t stop plotting and planning the possibilities. And see if I’m excited about the scene and maybe if I am my unconcious mind will work on those scenes during the night so when I sit down to write I’ll know if they’re exciting, and I’ll have imagined all kinds of amazing new fun ideas during my dreams.

Getting excited about her writing is what pushed Rachel Aaron the final push to 10k per day. So maybe it can be the push that gets me to 3k per day.

Writing fiction for dummies by randy ingermansonNow on to some of the tools that have helped me speed up. The first one is Scene and Sequel. We’ve all heard of it, some of you even use it. I first was introduced to it via Margie Lawson, but she pointed out that Randy Ingermanson has summed it up succinctly. Randy Ingermanson is the genius behind the snowflake method and he helps you write easily in his Writing Fiction for Dummies. I’ll leave it to Randy if you want a more detailed summary, but basically it’s deciding if the scene you are writing is a scene or a sequel.

Scene has the following three-part pattern:

  1. Goal
  2. Conflict
  3. Disaster

Sequel has the following three-part pattern:

  1. Reaction
  2. Dilemma
  3. Decision

So I break my scenes up into these sections and Ka-Chunk! They fall into place. Now this brings us to the next tool I use, Scrivener. Scrivener is basically a word processor, but unlike Word I can break my chapters up naturally into individual scenes. But another tool of Scrivener are these beautiful sections of the screen that hold a notecard right next to your writing. I write my Scene and Sequel notes there and while I’m writing I know, this is a scene. The Goal is to get the chalice, the Conflict is the Nazi’s want it too, the disaster is just when I think I’ve found it my father is about to die. Okay, this is the scene from an Indiana Jones movie, but you get the picture. My notes keep me on task, but my imagination has room to take flight.

That’s it, that’s how I’ve increased my writing speed and how I plan to increase it still further. I’ll keep you posted. Currently I’m not writing fresh words, I’m working on my rough draft of the second book in the Tales From the Black Court series. But in the fall I plan to be writing book three and I will be reviewing all my notes and diving into my goals of three thousand words per day.

And let me know how your writing speed is going. Are you writing faster? After reading how easy it is, do you want to?

Want to explore some more? Here are some links for you:

http://www.write-better-fiction.com/writing-systems.html

http://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/blog/2007/12/12/on-writing-faster/

http://www.amazon.com/Write-Faster-Better-Time-saving-Non-fiction/dp/1582972869

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Filed under Goal Setting, Moonday mania, Writer's Journey, writing craft, writing organization

The Speed of Writing

Moonday Mania

Blogging on the speed of writing

This is the first of four posts on how to improve writing speed I’ll be posting on four consecutive Moonday Manias during the month of April. But before I get to the blog post I have to brag, if you didn’t see my brand new cover for Goldi and the Bear on my Facebook page, then click HERE to see it on my Goldi and the Bear page. But come back for the post, because I can’t be the only one who wants to write faster.

I’m a super (crazy) goal setter. You know the type: the kind that laughs at SMART goals and just sets the bar WAY high.

One of my crazy-go-for-it! goals for the year is to write 3,ooo fresh words per day. (That’s working days, sorry folks I take weekends off.)Whoa! Three thousand words per day? I couldn’t even finish my spicy paranormal novella Goldi and the Bear during National Novel Writing Month and that requires a speed of 1,667 words every day for thirty days. And I didn’t come close. Why is that and how can I even consider trying to reach 3k per day?

And why would I want to?

Well, for starters, I’d like to write more than one full length romance novel per year. I know that the editing is the thing that takes me the longest, so if I’m taking a long time writing the first draft (and then I’m spending several months on editing) that means that I’m taking a very long time to finish a book. But I want to write fast and write well, so where can I speed up?

Writing faster comes down to three things, and that’s what the next three blogs will be about.

  1. Planning
  2. Organization
  3. Time Management

Now these may sound like three variations on a theme, but they’re not. Each one is a specific way I’m increasing my writing speed and if I can make each of these three effective than I think I will be hitting 3k per day without any trouble at all.

Amazed?

I am. But what I’m doing is working. I’m now up to an average writing day of 1,967 words per day that I sit down to write. If I’d done that during last November I would have finished Nanowrimo in twenty-five and one half days. WOOT! Just in time to cook Thanksgiving dinner and not worry about writing a thing.BBQ'd turkey

Imagine what happens if I hit 2,000 words per day, five days per week. That’s an 80,000 word novel in two months. (Not working weekends, remember?) Now of course this is a very rough draft and I still have to go into edits after this, but even at 2k for five days per week I actually stand the chance of finishing two full length novels in a year. But I want to do better than that.

I want to have flexibility. Time to work with my editor on my books that are already finished as far as submission is concerned, but need a final polish for publication. I want to take vacations. I want to not write every day during every week for the whole year. And still complete two novels per year.

Hence striving for 3k/day.

At 3k/day that 80,000 word novel gets finished in just over five weeks if I write Monday through Friday. But what if I don’t? What if I take a sick day, or my kids have a day off school, or my mom needs me? That’s the way my life has been going lately. If I hit five days of writing full time it’s getting to be unusual. So do I give up on my goals or do I just write faster?

Well, you already know the answer. WRITE FASTER, BABY!

My post next Monday will address time management, so tune in next week to see where I found my “write fast” inspiration and how I’m implementing that into my daily word count.

How fast do you write? Do you want to improve your writing speed? What about quality versus quantity? Are you a fast draft person like me, who spends tons of time on edits later. Or are you the kind of person who works that chapter until it’s perfect before you move on to the next one? Do you want to shift gears and work a different way? Or are you happy with the way you write? Are you willing to try something new? Or maybe two or three new strategies to improve your writing speed? What if I told you that the days that I really sit down and apply this I’m almost hitting the 3k mark, would that change your mind?

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Filed under Goal Setting, Moonday mania, Writer's Journey, writing craft, writing organization

I Write New Adult!

Moonday Mania

so what the heck is new adult and how do I know I write it?

This is not an April Fool’s Joke. I’ve made an amazing discovery. My Twisted Tales: Come Into the Woods series is New Adult. So what exactly is New Adult? Contrary to some of the spurious claims by the media it is not YA porn. No, in fact it is targeted at older readers, just not so old they want to read bout forty year old heroines and second marriages. According to NA Alley, a blog targeted specifically for New Adult books, this genre is:

beautiful disaster by jamie mcguire

Have you tried this New Adult book?

We view New Adult fiction (NA) as a category of literature—meaning, it gives readers content expectations, but it does not dictate genre-based criteria. Typically, a novel is considered NA if it encompasses the transition between adolescence—a life stage often depicted in Young Adult (YA) fiction—and true adulthood. 
Protagonists typically fall between the ages of eighteen and twenty-six, though exceptions may apply. NA characters are often portrayed experiencing: college, living away from home for the first time, military deployment, apprenticeships, a first steady job, a first serious relationship, etc. 
Other terms for NA include: Upper YA, Crossover Fiction, and Mature YA.  -http://naalley.blogspot.com/p/about.html

That says it all.

So, I looked at my books. My characters are all under twenty-six and over eighteen. Red (from Little Red Riding Wolf)  is dealing with trying to separate from her over protective family and balance her loyalty to her pack with her desire to go to college. Evan, her love interest, is recently graduated from college and trying to make a new career in the forest service.

Does that sound like the above definition? Yeah, it really does.

Okay, what about Snow and the Seventh Wolf? Snow isn’t as normal as Red. Snow has had to deal with her evil step-mother, but she’s almost twenty-one, about to inherit, and oh-so-ready to split! Seth is angry and dealing with his own issues. He feels differently from his family and he needs to figure out where his priorities lie.

And what about my newest book? Goldi and the Bear (out Fall 2013). Goldi discovers that her dad has lied to her and they are about to lose their ranch, the only home she’s every known and now the only person she can turn to  is her ex-boyfriend, Zeke. Goldi’s learning about facing adult reality: foreclosure, no job (she’s only ever worked on the ranch), and most of all, even your dad is only human. (Actually, he’s a werewolf, but they have human frailties). And Zeke is about to finally make it big, he’s been trying to prove himself to everyone, his dad, his brothers, but especially his ex-girlfriend, Goldi. Now he has to make some hard choices.

These do sound like NA plots. What about themes in NA plots. Well according to NA Alley they can be:

New adult touches on that space between adolescence and adulthood, so there is a wide range of themes and issues to tackle.
Common themes in NA are identity, sexuality, race, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, bullying, empowerment, familial struggles, loss of innocence, fear of failure, etc.
Combine those themes with common new adult issues: living away from home for the first time, military deployment, starting college, engagements and marriages, etc.

tiger's curse by colleen houck

While many NA are contemporaries, Tiger’s Curse is a paranormal.

I’ve got all that too! Red has to deal with sexuality and the rules of her pack as well as her identity and the issue of going to college or fulfilling family expectancies  All three books deal with racism. Okay, it’s species-ism, human versus werewolves. That counts! Snow loses her innocence and Seth finds his identity. Goldi learns empowerment through her familial struggles and Zeke faces his fear of failure.

Check, check, check.

Now we come to the big question. What about the heat level. Come on, let’s face it. My books are hot! They are so hot I blush when I talk about them to strangers, my parents, even my writer friends. 🙂

Can NA be hot? I’ve done extensive research on this and the answer is, YES! Come on, the readers are ADULTS. This is the time of life for experimentation, failure, new commitments. Sex is a huge part of adult life. Will you? Won’t you? Should you? So yes, spicy is just fine for New Adult.

Not all New Adult books have sex. Not all New Adult books are romance. They cover a wide range of genres, just like regular adult books and YA. But they do have all these things in common, the age of the main characters and the search for answers. So explore the world of New Adult. I’m trying some right now!

goodreads icon

Click the icon to be taken right to the New Adult page!

Have you ever read a New Adult book? Did you read it and not know what it was? Did you like it? Would you consider reading more or what about writing it?

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Filed under Jessica Aspen's Books, Moonday mania, New Adult, writing craft

Free Me Author Ann Brown

Moonday Mania

today featuring a debut author

Today I’m on a panel of shifter experts on Brinda Berry’s blog. Click HERE to check it out and enter to win prizes!

Ann Brown is a fellow Passion in Print author who I met at my local RWA chapter, Colorado Romance Writers. Ann has an award winning story with an unusually dark beginning that gave me chills. Makes me wonder what is under that sunny-side-up exterior that shines from Ann. Free Me is the first in a three book series about sisters who face the odds and come up winners.  Please welcome, debut historical author, Ann Brown to Jessica Aspen Writes. 

Free Me is an historical romance novel about Isabelle McAllister, the oldest sister in a trilogy of novels about the McAllister sisters.

free me by ann brown Isabelle McAllister is incarcerated for murdering her father, and later transferred to an insane asylum. Robert Easterman is accused of thievery by his lover, and temporarily contained at an institution for the criminally insane. The two convicts escape, race through the countryside, and sequester themselves in a secret glade. Isabelle and Rob assuage angst in each other’s arms. Twists of fate, deception, and family tragedy divide the lovers, but ultimately nothing deters the devotion of one man for an escaped murderess, and nothing deters the love of one small woman for the man who would dare to rescue her.

This novel is about fortitude in the face of adversity. Isabelle is as down as a person can be, without support, alone, imprisoned for a crime she did not commit, and must find the strength to believe in herself, to vindicate herself. She must let go of the belief that she is unlovable, and embrace the love Rob offers, embrace the strength through devotion this man in her life is willing to give to her and her alone. And she does.

In writing Free Me I employed craft skills I learned through Margie Lawsons learning packets on Deep Editing, Empowering Characters’ Emotions, and Writing Body Language Like a Psychologist. Class information helped me write fresher similes and metaphors, improved my dialogue tags, and empowered the delivery of my scenes through enriched non-verbal communication and body language nuances. I absolutely loved empowering characters’ emotions since I have a history of writing poetry, and poetry delivers rich, powerful, concise emotionally evocative pieces. I also learned more about stimulus-response couplets, and the need to keep them close together. A stimulus occurs. Visceral response. Body language/action. Dialogue. So natural. It makes so much sense. I’m not sure why I didn’t get it before, why I continue to make mistakes in this arena.

Free Me, a historical romance novel by Ann Brown, can be purchased in its print version through

Amazon or Barns & Noble. If you prefer e-books, you can find Free Me on Passion In Print’s website, Amazon, B&N, Allromanceebooks, Kobo, Bookstrand, and Fictionwise.

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Free+Me+by+Ann+Brown

http://www.passioninprint.com/

http://www.alibris.com/booksearch?S=R&wauth=Ann+Brown&cm_mmc=sem-_-Google-_-authors-_-na&gclid=COig9Ye0_LUCFQqnPAodYWUApA

romance author ann brownAnn Brown lives in Colorado with her husband, a musician, her two children, and their two crazy dogs Buster and Tehya. When not writing, Ann works as a small animal veterinarian in Broomfield, Colorado. Ann is a member of Romance Writers of America and Colorado Romance Writers. You can learn more about Ann at www.annbrownauthor.com.

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Filed under guest post, Moonday mania, writing craft

linkies you’ll love

Moonday Mania

practical links for authors

One of the best things about the internet is the amazing quantity of helpful posts available, but how do you find your posts? I personally have a few blogs I use Google Reader for, oh wait. Google is discontinuing it’s reader function, so I’m going to have to find some other way to list my favs all in one place. That’s kind of a relief because I feel like Google is taking over everything. Someday, when Amazon and Google merge, we’ll simply have everything run by “The Company”. Just like in the book Beauty Queens, by author Libba Bray. One of my must reads for anyone of any age over, hmmm, maybe thirteen? (Check out my blog George Orwell Meets Barbie HERE.) I did ask on FB and got a few suggestions, but I am open to any other suggestions of where I should move my RSS feed, so if you have any ideas feel free to let me know!

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. I have several blogs on writing that I regularly peruse to see what is going on in the writerly world and in particular the world as it relates to the changes in the publishing industry as it relates to ME! As that is the most important thing  in the world, right? Today I’m sharing a few articles that made the grade over the last few weeks.

The first one is entitled 10 Best Chrome Extensions on AuthorMedia.com, but it has some other favs of mine that are not actually things you need Chrome for. For instance, Dropbox. I love Dropbox. I use it daily. It is my ace in the hole as I try to save everything I write, share files, and worry about losing information on my laptop.  Check out this post to learn about a few other fun tricks to enhance your internet author experience.

Steve's Sundry and BooksThis past week there was a kerfuffle on writer boards everywhere as we debated the fairness of contracts.  As I’m signing my contract this week for my third Passion in Print release, Goldi and the Bear, this debate caught my attention. Luckily Passion in Print has a fellow author at the helm and her contracts are more than fair to authors, but I might someday sign with someone else and need to pay attention to some of these topics. One of the sites that I love to visit to get the skinny on self-publishing, the pitfalls of standard publishing, and some all around good advice is the website of author Dean Wesley Smith. This week he has a fantastic blog on revision clauses. Something we authors really need to pay attention to. It is shocking to me that in this day and age when authors have more choices than ever about publishing the publishers themselves are making a land grab for authors rights. These aren’t just issues for paranormal romance authors, or even just romance authors in general. Every reader and consumer of books should be interested when these things occur.Dean says it is no longer the gold rush for self-publishing, but we’re still living in the wild west when publishers try to keep your rights for downright forever.

And when you’re done being shocked at the changes in contracts and the nerve of some publishers you can hop on over to CJ Lyons website, No Rules, Just Write! I regularly check out CJ’s posts, why? Because she has made straddling the line between self-publishing and traditional publishing look easy. CJ does both, and is a fabulous success. And her advice on writing and the business of writing is always spot on. This post is about the difference between Tactics and Strategy and made me think, am I scrambling around trying to apply new tactics to my marketing, or am I using long term thoughtful strategy? You’ll have to read the post and think about your own career to decide where you are. I personally think it is a balance. You need both, but CJ is right, many authors just focus on the short term, how many sales can I get now, rather than the long term, where do I want to be in five years. What do you do?

Now you have a good idea of where my head has been over the last few weeks. Grappling with the loss of Google Reader, stunned at the short term tactics of the big publishers, and focused on re-vamping my own strategies. Where has your head been this month? Are you thinking short or long term? Are you checking out those contracts? And have you used any of those ten suggestions from Author Media? Once again, if you have an RSS solution to my Google Reader problem then leave a comment and let me know. I also would love to hear what you think about these thought provoking posts.funny face

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Filed under channeling success, Moonday mania, writing craft

IndieReCon Rocks

Moonday Mania

A Free Con for all!

Like almost every author I know I’m always thinking about self publishing. Should I or shouldn’t I. What are the benefits? What are the costs? This year I’ve decided to explore it in depth and figure out not only am I interested, but create some serious plans to evaluate how interested I am. So I’m up for almost anything that will help me make this decision, not just for this week, or next month, but moving forward into the rest of my career.

Last week I attended the first ever IndieReCon, an absolutely free online conference all about the ins and outs of indie publishing. There were blogs and chats from Joanna Penn and Bob Mayer and CJ Lyons, just to name a few and all for free! I had a great time darting in and out of posts and trying to keep up with the flying fingers of all the chatters. Okay, I pretty much lurked, but it was good quality lurking.

There was advice on marketing, what’s worked and what hasn’t and where do they think it will go from here. Articles on mistakes newbies make and articles on everything from YA to NA. What’s meta-tagging and why should you care? Mailing lists and reaching readers. Branding, audio books and international sales. If you want to know about something there were posts on everything.

In fact, there were so many posts that I didn’t check out all the information I wanted to. And that would be really sad, except they are leaving them up! Yes, you too can go hop from post to post and discover all you ever wanted to know about indie publishing and more. So hop on by and check it out! Although you did miss out on the drawings for prizes, those are over and I didn’t win anything! Too bad for me, but good for all the prize winner attendees out there. 🙂

If you visited the site which were your favorite posts? I have to say I really enjoyed the interview that Joanna Penn did with CJ Lyons. The video was entertaining and I learned a lot. Do you indie publish? Do you have questions about indie publishing? What would be the one question you would want information on if you could ask any of the presenters?

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Filed under Moonday mania, self publishing, writing craft, writing organization

Kara Lennox plot fixer-moonday mania

The summer before last I attended a Colorado Romance Writers mini-con put on by Kara Lennox. It was an incredibly invaluable day. So I was thrilled to find some of what she taught us at one of my favorite blogs, Writers in the Storm. Sometimes you know there is something wrong with your manuscript, but you aren’t sure what. Kara’s plot-fixers help you identify the ten main problems writers encounter.

Take for instance, lesson ten on Loss of Focus. This lesson not only covers when you are drifting away, but why. You need to figure out your theme.

A theme is a “universal truth,” though it doesn’t have to be “true” for everyone, and you don’t have to believe it. It just has to be true for this book.”

Themes are tough, I’m not sure I even know my theme when I start outlining a book, it’s only after I have figured out why both my characters get together that a theme starts to gel. But then to stay with it throughout the book? That’s a tough one. I try to focus on  a theme of growth through love of another person. To me true romance is finding that person who forces you to grow, even if you don’t want to!

Let’s say your heroine is afraid of heights. You could write about a hero who is kind and understanding, unlike her bullying parents who forced her to go rock climbing. That hero would be a nice guy, but he wouldn’t support my theme of growth. Now the hero who helps her confront her fear and have a successful rock climbing trip would be more my kind of hero. Of course since I write more suspenseful books it would likely be rock climbing in the rain to get away from the villain!

But you get the picture.

Theme can be book specific or you can always write the same theme. When you have the same theme running throughout your books that contributes to your voice and to forming a solid brand. That is the goal: to find your voice, identify your personal theme, and make sure that theme runs under each book. When you’ve done that, you’ll know you are well on your way. But it starts with just one book.

For example, in Little Red Riding Wolf, Red is searching for independence from her family and pack. So independence might be the book’s theme, but throughout the book Evan is supporting her in her attempts at independence, so that hits on my personal theme of growth through love. She wouldn’t separate from her family if she didn’t have his support.

What is the theme of the book you are currently reading or writing? Does the author have that theme throughout their writing? Do you as an author have an overall personal theme that runs through all of your books?

Want to start with Kara’s Lesson One? Click HERE  to learn about why your premise is not compelling.

I’m on a promotional blog tour this week, so don’t forget to drop by Romance and Beyond, where I blogged last week about love and icecream and then on Wednesday hop on over to Sherry Isaacs Sizzling site for a Wildflower blog.

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Filed under Moonday mania, writing craft