Writing Tips

The Roller Coaster of Writing

I find that sometimes writing is a real roller coaster. There are times writers may have a “love/hate” relationship with writing. It can be so exciting and rewarding. You create something and just watching the magic come together is an emotional high like no other. But then there are other days. Days where writing can seem terrifying. You might feel your work is awful. “What’s the point?” “You’ll never be as good as…”

It’s a strange phenomenon. I haven’t had too many of those scary days lately – but they do creep up when you least expect it. So how do you get through those times? Do you give up? Throw in the towel? Hang up your pen?

Or

Do you take a step back? Take a deep breath? Take a break? These are certainly great options, especially if you are feeling overwhelmed. Sometimes just going for a walk to refresh your mind will help. Sometimes just writing through it helps. Look to a journal or a blog about your writing progress to sort out those complicated feelings.

But, when you’re done, that story you were working on? It’s still there. Your muse will return because chances are, if you have a story idea in your head – that Muse will not leave you alone. So do what you need to recover from the writing lows when you have them. There will be many more writing highs to look forward to.

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Author Updates, Writing Tips

Author Updates

UPDATE #1 – Souled is FREE for Kindle Unlimited Customers
If you are a member of Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited, you can now read Souled for free! Kindle has been working with authors and readers to help get books in the hands (well – devices) of readers. When you read it, be sure to leave a review – even a sentence or two will help the book get seen by other readers.  Thank you again for your continued support!
Free Kindle Version of Souled   

Free e-book below ⬇️

UPDATE #2 – MY NEW COLLABORATION
I’m excited to share that I have collaborated with THE Dave D’Aoust in helping his clients fight digital distraction. When he heard about how Souled was inspired by the way digital media consumes our kids, he asked me to teach a few classes in his Primed For Life Series. I now have three writing courses with him and depending on need, there could be more in the future. We shall see what happens. 

UPDATE #3 – NEW FACEBOOK GROUP FOR WRITING HELP



I created a new Facebook Group to help with the writing process. I created it to go along with the writing courses I have with Dave D’Aoust, but really anyone who is interested in the writing process can join. Check it out here: Get Writing – Writing, Editing, and Publishing Help

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Writing Tips

Learning By Doing

I’ve always been one who learned best through doing an activity. There’s nothing more educating than going through the actual experience. I have recently applied this thought to my writing career.

See, I want to know as much as possible about the industry. Learning about the writing process is just one step of the whole picture.

After having four picture books traditionally published, I once again stepped out of my comfort zone and wrote a tween novel. I finished the first draft in January. Just comprising the novel was a whole other process. Then I started paying attention to some indie publishing groups on Facebook. I’ve studied them for a few years- watching what they do, the questions they ask, the tips they suggest and I knew one thing: independently publishing was hard, back breaking work. Yet I wanted to try it.

Why? For one,the route allows you more creative control. You also earn out better royalties.

As my novel is finishing up the final editing stages, I decided to prepare for the next hurdle: the print run. Ideally, it is best to have enough funds for a decent first run – at least 1,000 books.

How do you come up with the money to fund such a project? This is when I learned another new thing about publishing independently. If you don’t have the funds to do this, you need to look into crowdfunding. Much like I stated before, I have been following authors who have been working on these crowdfunding campaigns and I have seen how much work they are.

But, I decided to go ahead and try it. I could still publish by way of Print on Demand if I didn’t raise enough for the print run. Before I committed to that, I did what I often do: educate, educate, educate myself.

I found a course that helped me strategically plan out my campaign. A friend of mine suggested I contact Lisa Ferland and check out her course. I am glad I did because even my small successes are due to her tips. (If you’re considering a Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaign, see if she can help you.)

As I am halfway through this campaign, I am learning so many lessons at once. I’ve learned that I love every bit of the creative process from creating the book to hiring my own hand selected artist.

I’ve learned the rest of it is hard work, but it is an interesting side to publishing that I haven’t experienced closely before. What I am finding tough is that it is taking away from my writing time. This is a huge drawback for a writer. Is independently publishing something I might do again in the future? It’s possible- I am still mid process right now, but I just don’t like how much time I haven’t been writing. So, we’ll see what my final thoughts on this are in a few weeks.

As for now, if this is something you are considering, definitely do your research. Join several writing communities on Facebook. Build your audience. I’ll say that again as this was a weaknesses for me. BUILD YOUR AUDIENCE. And if publishing independently is an option for you, definitely get a head start on your crowdfunding by checking out sites like Lisa’s.

Writing Tips

Using Dialogue and Taglines

Basic Tagline Rules

When we write, especially with fiction, there will be taglines. Taglines clear up who is speaking in your manuscript, but if used poorly they can be a distraction to your reader. With this in mind, I’ve compiled several rules when using tags.

First, choose the tag “said” first above any other tags. It is the most common one and is generally invisible to the reader. When using fancier tags such as “exclaimed” or “mocked”, it becomes distracting. The less distracted your reader is, the more focused on the story they will be.

This rule can be extended to using adverbs as a tag. Adverbs tend to “tell” rather than “show”. An alternative to this might be to use an action before or after the quote. For example, instead of writing:

“Don’t cry,” Jane exclaimed sadly.

Try:

Jane frowned and held out a tissue. “Don’t cry.”

Finally, use a good balance with tags. Don’t use to little, which will confuse the reader and cause them to stop reading to look back and see who is talking. Don’t use it too much because it no longer is invisible. Instead, it becomes distracting.

An alternative could include an action from a character, as shown above. An action points out who the speaker is with out the tag. Another option is to have the speaker name the other character. For example: “Sarah, why did you do that?”

With the dialogue written this way it makes it clear who is doing the talking.

Punctuating Quotes

  1. Place your comma before the last qotation mark in that quote before the tag.
  2. If there is no tag, a period or other required punctuation goes inside the quote.
  3. New speakers get a new paragraphs.

Writing Tips

Using Your Senses in Writing

“Describe a moment in time. Make me feel like I am there.” This was an English assignment I had in college.

How do you do that? In a sense, we do it when we are “showing” in our writing verses “telling” the reader what to see. The key words in that English assignment was “Make me feel like I am there.”

In order to make the reader feel what our characters are experiencing, we have to make them become the character they are reading about. We can do this by using our 5 senses in our writing.

Sight

Pretend you are a camera following this person around. What does your character see? Do they see a “scary figure” or do they see “a seven-foot man holding a sharp object in his clenched fist”? Show your reader what your character sees.

Some sensory words for sight include:

Appearance:

  • Blinding
  • Tall
  • Hypnotizing

Colors:

  • Red
  • Aqua
  • Purple

Shapes:

  • Round
  • Octagon
  • Rectanlge

Hear

Sight shouldn’t be the only sense we adhere to. Hearing plays an important part in what the character percieves is going on. They might hear a “loud noise” or they might hear “a thunderous BOOM. When we tell that the character heard a noise, we don’t get what they are feeling. However, if there is a thunderous BOOM, we understand that there is a more threatening situation.

Some sensory words for hearing:

  • Boom
  • Screeching
  • Thump
  • Roaring

Smell

I used an example in A Star in the Night of showing what my character experienced. Instead of saying, David liked the smell of the bakery, I wrote, “Sweet smells of sugary cakes and icing swirled through the air. David’s stomach growled.”

Taste

The sense of taste instantly gives us a positive or negative experience. If our character tastes something they don’t like, we want our reader to understand the extent of what our character feels. Instead of saying that the character didn’t like lemons, we might say that he pursed his lips in response to the sour taste.

Since smell and taste go together we often can use the same or similar sensory words. Some examples of these sensory words are:

  • Sweet
  • Sour
  • Bland

Touch

Much of what our brain percieves is percieved through touch. Let’s look at a character holding a brush. If this is important in the scene or the story, we want this to stick out in the reader’s mind. So, instead of saying that the brush was too rough for the dog, we might say, that the brush’s bristles scratched the back of her hand.

Some sensory words for touch include:

  • Bristly
  • Sticky
  • Fluffy

In my research for this post I came across a senseory word list from the 34 Kiwis blog. This is a great start to help brainstorm some of these sensory words. Using sensory detail in writing amplifies your character’s experience and goes a long way in “showing” instead of “telling.”

For more tips, first look at interviews, free coloring pages and a free lesson plan, click here.