Guest Post: Rebecca Howie on Overcoming Writer’s Block

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Today, I have the pleasure of welcoming the author of The Game Begins, Rebecca Howie, to Writerly Bookish Stuff.  Rebecca is here to talk about the dreaded writer’s block and how to overcome it.

Over to you, Rebecca…


Overcoming Writer’s Block

Let’s be honest: being a writer isn’t easy. From bad reviews, nit-picking beta readers who make you feel like a wanna-be sham, and spending hours formatting your shiny new novel for Createspace only to have it rejected because of the margin sizes, it’s easy to see why some people decide to pack it up and keep on at their day job.

But before you reach the final stage, before you hit PUBLISH and send your book baby out into the world to fend for itself, you’ve got to write that first draft. And while you’re at it, you’re probably going to come across writer’s block.

I was lucky enough when writing my first novel to avoid it, but that was only because I didn’t actually know I was writing a novel until I was halfway through and thought ‘Screw it, I’m going to publish it’. But on my second visit into Sam’s world, it hit me, and for almost half a year, I couldn’t get anything written.

I knew I wanted to write a second book; I knew I wanted it to be a sequel to The Game Begins. And I knew that I wanted it to touch on the previous book’s events instead of pretending like nothing bad had happened. But could I write it?

(That answer is obvious if you make a visit to my blog and see my lack of writing updates, and that up until October, had the release date for my second book as ‘Coming Soon’.)

So, how do you overcome writer’s block? What possible solution can there be when you haven’t written a single word in almost a year?

Here are some of the things I try, and sometimes find helpful.

Take a Break

Accepting that you’re stuck isn’t actually the be-all and end-all of your WIP. Taking a break, even for just a few hours, might be all you need to get focussed on your story and the scene that’s trying to derail you.

Consult Your Notes

Keeping a note of the ideas that come to you at three in the morning is a great idea for finding inspiration, and if you already have a few notebooks filled with your sleep-deprived ramblings, now might be a good time to take a look.

Who knows? Maybe the next NYT bestseller is in there somewhere.

Read/ Watch TV

This might be the only time procrastinating isn’t a bad idea, but reading someone else’s book is a great way of getting your creative juices flowing. It can help you with pacing your novel, character development, and even when to end a chapter (which I struggled with a bit at the start of this new book).

Watching TV, on the other hand, is another great way to get ideas for your story. And when I was writing a particularly tricky scene in A Woman Scorned, I turned to ABC’s Castle for help with portraying the symptoms of PTSD, because I knew that one of its characters had gone through something similar to my own.

Rewrite

I know the last thing you want to hear is ‘rewrite’, but taking a second run at the WIP that’s trying to psyche you out might just be the thing you need to work out the plot hole that’s been bugging you, or changing the tone or pace or point-of-view to turn the story into the one you’ve actually been wanting to write from the beginning.

Stop

If all else fails, stop. Don’t justify forcing yourself to write, or making yourself sick with the stress of it. I lost count of how many false starts I made while trying to write AWS, and although I have a folder filled with character notes and defunct plot points, I’m happier with the characters now than I was when I started all those earlier attempts, so moving on to a different plot or story might just be the thing which gets you back on track.


Rebecca Howie is a procrastinating writer from Scotland, who prefers spending her time in fictional worlds rather than the real one.

She self-published her first novel, The Game Begins, at 18, and it reached 2nd in the Teen and Young Adult Detective category on Amazon after its release in February 2016.

Where to find Rebecca Howie and her book:

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Goodreads


For use of the content in this post, permission must be sought from the author, Rebecca Howie.

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Guest Post: Brianna West on The Importance of a Book Cover

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Guess who’s back on Writerly Bookish Stuff? Brianna West. Brianna previously guest posted back in March on Character Development. She is back today to chat about the importance of a book cover.

Over to you, Brianna…


Love at First Cover

Someone once told you not to judge a book by its cover. Then again, someone also told you never to swim forty-five minutes after eating, and we’ve all broken that rule, am I right? Okay, so not the same thing, but my point is this—how much does a cover impact your readership?

Well, that depends. Like us authors who prioritize certain aspects of our writing, our readers also prioritize certain aspects to their reading. And, as much as we might maintain we’re ‘not all about that life’ when it comes to martyring ourselves (and our bank account) in order to appease the masses, in the end, we all want our work to be read.

So, does that start with a good cover? In my opinion, which is always right and never wrong (or so my husband maintains), yes. Especially if you write romance.

So, here’s why:

Like any blind date, you only have so many things to judge whether or not the person—aka, book—you’re about to spend the next few hours with is either going to humor you, bore you, confuse you, or murder you.

And like the judgmental person you are, you’re going to decide whether or not you’re going to bother sitting down (or come out from around the corner you’re hiding) based on what you see first.

  1. The 99c Store Cover—essentially, these covers either have no real intrigue at all or look cheap, cheap, cheap. In any case, these covers look basic, thoughtless, and forgettable. When I see these covers, like the judgmental person I am, I automatically believe that it’ll be poorly written and edited too, despite knowing this more often this is NOT the case.
  2. The Grade-School Art Project Cover—these covers are put together by someone who only just started to use Canva or Photoshop. Essentially, they look handmade. Which, depending on what you’re going for, could be either good or bad. Personally, these covers give me the same reaction as the one above, but not as strongly. I give points for effort because I am a benevolent queen.
  3. The Cliché Cover—these covers are sort of nostalgic for a lot of us romance readers and, even though I’d never admit this out loud, they’re sort of a drug to look at. You guessed it! I’m talking Fabio with his perfectly silky hair a-blowin’ in the wind with the cute, petite, half-fainted woman curled into his arms. These covers, even though totally outdated, still make me want to read. Of course, some readers aren’t so nostalgic and will click their tongues and pass right over them.
  4. The Clone Cover—these are the covers that, especially in the romance genre, are becoming the new Fabio and half-fainting princess. There are abs. There are pecs. There’s water—is it raining or is that just pure, sweet man-sweat? And, of course, everything is just short of being something you can’t put on public shelves. These I have opinions about. While these are the covers that sell and, let’s face it, we likey all that delicious man-meat, they don’t really tell a story. Or THE story. They are purely eye-candy. And sometimes, if an author chooses to show the models face, the reader might not enjoy that sort of aesthetic and pass it over. Plus, with so many covers that look like this, your book will hardly stand out against the masses. So, tread carefully with these covers. As much as they may appeal, they may also NOT appeal.
  5. The Super Symbolic Cover—these covers are the ones that are usually fairly basic in appearance, containing one symbolic element of the story and putting it on the cover. Authors who choose these covers don’t want their readers to have the characters ‘decided’ for them; instead, these covers are offering the reader to truly build their own images. These are popular as well, and I’ve heard it go both ways as to whether or not they are effective covers. Personally, I like me some eye-candy on my cover. It’s what I go after. However, I’ve spoken to readers that don’t like an ‘image’ of the character being put into their head when they see the cover, especially if the image doesn’t match the author’s description. So again, tread carefully with this one.
  6. The Storybook Cover—these covers are the ones that tell a story. Like a painting, they intrigue a reader with images that hint at the contents inside the cover. Personally, these are by far my favorites. I love looking at these covers, because often, it makes me wonder what they have to do with the story that’s been written. And therefore, I think these are very effective for grabbing readers, especially if they are of quality and run seamlessly with their back covers. From everything to font, color scheme, and blending choices, these covers make you stop and look. Which, in my personal opinion, is the entire purpose of a cover.

There are more versions of covers, but I feel like these are the main ones I see, at least in romance. Paired with an incredible blurb and perhaps a few choice teasers, you can ensnare a reader with very little effort. But, like with everything, not every author is made the same. Not every reader is going to weigh heavily on the cover alone. It requires many elements sometimes to intrigue a reader to taking a gander. But it’s my belief that the cover is one of the first impressions you have to ensnare them.


71zctz9teal-_ux250_Brianna West lives in beautiful Northern California with her wonderful husband and four adorable children. She writes funny, real stories that are accompanied by an overabundance of action and supernatural elements. First published in October 2015, Brianna has gone on to add several books to her main series and spin-off series since then.

Her stories feature sassy, strong heroines; hunky, supernatural heroes; a sordid amount of action; enough humor to leave you laughing all the way through; and a world that will fill you with an overwhelming desire to be a part of it.

Find Brianna and her books here:

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Permission to use content featured in this post must be sought from Brianna West.

Guest Post: Katie Masters on Creating Well Rounded Antagonists

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I am joined today by the talented author, Katie Masters. Katie is here to offer some tips on creating well rounded antagonists, because us writers and readers know there is nothing worse than a flat, two-dimensional antagonist to see a story fall on its face.

So, give yourself a five minute break and settle down with a mug of something hot. Over to you, Katie.


Creating the Perfect Bad Guy

(who doesn’t wear leather or own a death-ray)

Hello fellow writers! When K.J. asked if I wanted to write about creating a well-rounded antagonist (that’s a fancy-shmancy snoody writer term for a Bad Guy/Villain if you didn’t know. PROtagonist is the main character), I obviously said yes. Because if there’s one thing I love more than ignoring the sensible advice I get, it’s giving it! So strap yourselves in, set your phasers to snark and grab a drink, because today you’re all learning how to make GOOD bad guys!

When a writer—but let’s just say ‘you’, because we all know this’s about you—decides to create a story we’re given 3 options for an antagonist, that horrible thing that is stopping your hero/heroine from achieving glory, love, or an awesome dinner.

Inner demons (aka you’re your own worst enemy)
External forces (aka that damn mountain’s keep you from getting to your beloved cheeseburger)
Actual Person (aka your leather wearing, death ray carrying, changed his named to Butch or Xeno bad guy. Consequently, could also be that bitch Veronica in the office who just took the last donut)

Today we’re going to focus on an Actual Person, because honestly, trying to tell you about the challenge and intricacies of an evil mountain’s thought processes would take eons. And we don’t have the attention span for that right now.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but our readers have become more savvy. They want meat, they want blood, the want *gasp* depth. Gone is the mad scientist with a death ray who wants to take over the world for no reason other than ‘because’ who monologues about his master plan for ten minutes. Readers want to know the how and why of the bad guy. They want to understand. Which means you the writer have to know the reasons.

I know. That means more effort and the using of brain cells. I’m sorry. Keep drinking.

Creating a well-rounded antagonist requires, first and foremost, a background story. None of the backstory may come out in the book. Perhaps only a fraction of it will. But if your book becomes a best seller and you go to a Con to face your adoring fans who then want to know what your bad guy’s home life was like—you better know!

Your bad guy (whether a mild one or a truly evil one) needs motive, and for a motive, they need a past. His/Her family life, friendships, social status, and even hometown, all drastically shape the perceptions they have about the world, and themselves. And you need to know all of it.

What I consider a ‘well-rounded human antagonist’ is one in which we can understand why they came to be what they are, but still perceive them as ‘the bad guy.’ Said ‘bad guy’ doesn’t have to want to take over the world or murder someone or take a love interest away. An antagonist is ANYONE who stands in the way of, or thwarts, your main character’s goal.

FOR EXAMPLE: Meet Cindy.

(This is Cindy. Say hi!)

Cindy is in accounting with our protagonist, Betty-Lou (that’s right, I named her Betty-Lou. Deal with it). Betty-Lou and Cindy get along just fine. Until one day an announcement goes up that a new manager position has come up and both Betty-Lou and Cindy are both qualified to apply.

Cindy, who was once just a fellow co-worker is now doing underhanded things to get that job. Mean, antagonist things. Spreading horrible rumors, putting salt in Betty-Lou’s coffee cup, misplacing documents Betty-Lou has to turn in, taking unflattering pictures of Betty-Lou at the company party so Trisha doesn’t ask her on a date…you get the picture.

‘What a bitch!’ you think. Betty-Lou thinks so too. Except what you both don’t know is that Cindy needs the promotion so that she can pay for a medical treatment for her son. She will do ANYTHING to get that promotion and money. So is she really a bad guy? Sure. She’s going about this the wrong way and ruining your wonderful protagonist’s life and love chances! But you sympathize. You don’t like what she’s doing, but you at least understand why.

I think in this day and age of writing, understanding the bad guy is ultimately human (or Klingon, or whatever), and that there are infinite shades of gray in the definition of ‘bad guy’, is important. You don’t have to make them likable, but you have to make them and their reasons understandable. So here’s some tips on how to do that. And no, I didn’t put them in order of importance because I’m fair like that!

1. Write a summary of the Antagonist’s past. Where did they live? Do they have siblings? One parent or two? A suburb or the city? Vegetarian or om-nom-nomnivore?

2. Write their likes and dislikes. It doesn’t have to be an extensive list. But try and get in their head. Do they like movies or concerts? Do they watch YouTube? Do they like the color pink and wear the color on their person every day?

3. Write a scene in your antagonist’s point of view. It doesn’t have to make it into the book. It’s not as hard as you think. The thing that makes writers so unique is our ability to generally be sympathetic because we naturally (in general) tend to put ourselves in other people’s shoes and see their point of view. Do the same for your antagonist.

4. Use pictures and make them a profile. Now, this advice comes back from my time as a former artist, but I find I do this when I’m creating characters too. Find a picture on the internet that looks like how you imagine your antagonist then write below (or next to) it, their likes/dislikes, their height and weight, and then their ‘bio’. That’s where you put the summary I told you to writer up there in tip one. See how helpful I am!? Less work to do down here!

Well you’ve made it! Congratulations! I’m sure you’ve refilled your cups half a dozen times at this point, and you’re a real trooper for making it this far! At the end of the day, your antagonist is as important as your main character—sometimes more so, because they have a very important role: to make your character change. So make sure that your antagonist gets the same amount of treatment at your main characters.


KatieMastersKatie Masters’ books include Brenna Morgan and the Iron Key, and The Bone Dancer.

I’ve been making up stories since I could talk, writing them since I learned how to properly put words together, and when I’m not doing that, I’m reading obscene  amounts of books, manga, and comics. Sorta in that order. 

Where to find Katie and her books:

Brenna Morgan and the Iron Key: Book One

The Bone Dancer: Novella

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Permission to use the content featured in this post must be sought from the author, Katie Masters.

Guest Post: Faith Rivens on Beating Procrastination

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Good day to you all. I have the pleasure of hosting another wonderful author on Writerly Bookish Stuff today. Faith Rivens is here to discuss that annoying thing all us writers face from time to time: procrastination. Fancy some tips on getting out of the slump and beating procrastination? Get your notepad ready and stay tuned. Over to you, Faith.


Hi, everyone.

I’m excited to be able to share some thoughts with you on a problem that I’ve struggled with a lot in the past. I’m focusing on it from a writer’s perspective even though this challenge is a universal one.

Procrastination. That inclination to postpone the inevitable tasks that cause us undue stress. Is there anyone on this planet who hasn’t delayed action of some kind for any reason?

There was a time when I did pride myself on quick response and action. In the early years of my student days, I was glad to get my work done as quickly as possible. It was a work ethic that didn’t last. But it never affected my own writing life. My stories were what I used to procrastinate my school work.

And then came what I call the ‘Dark Period’ in my life, a time in my early twenties when I was struggling with what I wanted to make of myself, who I wanted to be, even my weight. It was a time when I wanted to devote myself to writing entirely and I would argue that I could make a living doing it. But when I was alone in my room, I didn’t work on stories. I just binge watched shows and read a lot and watched the time fly by.

Looking back now, I can honestly say that I wasted a good year and a half of my life going through the motions. And yes, that experience was extreme, toeing the line between procrastination and depression, but I learned quite a few lessons from that dark period about how to deal with the urge to delay, and I’ll share them with you now.

Breaking down the problem is always helpful. And I believe there are, at least, three major (pardon the scientific term) variables to take into consideration:

  1. One’s reason for procrastination;
  2. One’s preferred form of procrastination;
  3. & One’s exterior circumstances.

Let’s break those down!

ONE:

Identifying the reason behind the urge to procrastinate is essential. When I get the antsy feeling to prolong the plunge, it’s my second step after admitting to myself that I am procrastinating.

During my dark period, I hit a roadblock with my writing because I felt the pressure of wanting to prove that it could be a full time job for me. It removed the joy I felt when writing and made me more inclined to look for other things to do so I wouldn’t have to deal with that stress.

On a smaller scale, the reason for procrastination can be much simpler. Maybe the storyline isn’t clicking with you, you’re bored of the scene you’re writing, or you’re tired of staring at your screen.

TWO:

Knowing how you like to procrastinate seems especially paramount, considering that we live in a digital age. From streaming videos, to stalking twitter, to retail therapy, to browsing GoodReads to add one more book to your already mountainous TBR, to looking for the perfect pins for your novel aesthetic. I’m sure most of us rely on our computers or devices to distract us from the task at hand. And we should never underestimate the lure of a good book, either.

When I was going through my dark period, I was watching shows on the side and reading FanFiction.

THREE:

I feel the need to bring up external factors that influence us because I think too many times we neglect how the people and circumstances around us can affect our mindset. I have mentioned in the recent months that I’m struggling with a family issue at home and the challenge of that makes it difficult to focus on the work I have to do and inclines me to procrastinate my writing because my mental energy is drained.

So…

Once you understand why and how you procrastinate, finding a way to stay inspired becomes easier. Like most vices in our life, there’s no foolproof cure, but there are definitely steps that can be taken to make the challenge less daunting.

If you’re avoiding writing the next chapter or scene because you’re afraid of tackling the material, why not try drafting or outlining it first if you’re not ready to take the plunge, or write another scene to inspire you. If you’re tired of looking at your screen, try writing by hand, or schedule yourself day by day according to a manageable timetable that will make sure you don’t run into boredom.

If you know that you’re someone who procrastinates most online, find a way to switch off the internet so it can’t distract you from your task, or go somewhere different and write by hand. Or set yourself a reward system. If you write a certain amount of words give yourself a certain amount of time to connect online and then jump back into the writing.

When you’re struggling with life outside, it can be a bit more tricky to find the impulse to work and, in fact, you might find yourself slipping into a writing rut more than a cycle of delay. In those instances, when finding the will to write might be more difficult, look back and remember why writing brings you joy and look for times in the day when you might be more productive. Or set smaller goals for yourself every day. Don’t stop writing, just stop putting too much pressure on yourself to accomplish word counts that exceed your ability.

At the end of the day, friends, writing should be something you do because you love it. If it doesn’t excite you, find ways to rejuvenate and refresh, put the writing aside until you find that joy again. When you do, it’ll be easier to resist the urge to procrastinate.

May inspiration flow like ink upon your quill, dear friends!


Author PhotoFaith Rivens is the author of the novella, Eléonore. Her second novel is due to release later this year.
A reader since the age of three, publishing a novel has been a life long dream. When she’s not busy creating fantastic worlds for readers to delve into, she spends her time reading more fantastical worlds, playing the guitar, and geeking out on all things Harry Potter, Doctor Who and Sherlock!
Life is never boring with a bit of imagination!
Find Faith and her debut book here:

Permission for use of the content featured in this post must be sought from the author, Faith Rivens.

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Guest Post: Dana Fraedrich on World Building

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I am thrilled to welcome author Dana Fraedrich to Writerly Bookish Stuff to discuss a topic that is a crucial part of any writing process: world building. Grab yourself a coffee or tea and stick around for some handy advice and tips on creating an imaginative and believable world. Over to you, Dana.


Five Rules of World Building

World building, in my opinion, is one of the most fascinating things about fiction writing, but it’s also one of the trickiest.  Coming up with a basic concept is easy—a world where cybernetic enhancements are the newest fashion trend…until a major fashion designer ends up dead by her own creations.  Boom!  Done.  When you get into the nitty-gritty details, however, things can get…squiffy.

In my experience, a lot of world building falls down because the authors haven’t worked through some of the foundational details.  “But, Dana, I’m not trying to write a Tolkien-level world history here!  I just want to write a story!”  Yeah, I know, and that’s fine.  You don’t have to get that deep, but you do need a few basic elements hammered out before you introduce your world to ours.

Nail Down the Fundamentals

Whether it takes place in a fictional universe or an alternate version of ours, to create a convincing world, you have to understand the basic functions of your characters’ society:

  • How do people get food? Do they work their farms with basic tools, in cooperation with machines, or do mechanical drones do all the work?
  • What’s the currency like and how is it exchanged? Do people need to carry physical funds on them?  Or maybe there’s some kind of credit system, either electronic or paper.  Maybe money doesn’t exist and the characters barter instead.
  • How do people communicate over long distances? Wireless communication, whether via magic stones or smart phones, completely changes the game.  If your characters rely on a postal or courier system, you’ll need to take that extra delivery time into account.

Why do we care about this?  Two reasons.  First, every decision you make as god of this realm influences the possibilities within it.  Secondly, if you don’t know these things, it’ll show.  At best, the reader will feel a little lost.  At worst, you’ll write a huge inconsistency into your story.  Now, in most cases you won’t have to do more than mention these things in passing, if that.  However, if you do end up having to explain why a character refuses scan the barcode on her wrist whilst on the run from baddies, you’ll be prepared.

Crime and Punishment

What do readers want?  Stakes.  The higher the better.  And conflict comes from characters breaking the rules.  So what will happen if your main character gets caught during the big heist or meeting with that shady so-and-so?  That’s what you need to make crystal clear to your readers.  Otherwise, they won’t fret over the fate of your characters.  Maybe a school headmaster with a grudge has the power to expel students.  Maybe it’s a good high court with bad evidence before a public execution.  No matter the situation, you need to know who’s in power, how they wield it, and what your character stands to lose.

Use the Land

You can’t paint a picture without envisioning the world first.  However, some authors bog down their readers with florid depictions of rolling hills and planetary panoramas.  Descriptions of setting should create atmosphere and further the plot.  Grand vistas and poetic descriptions create calm.  Getting over a literal mountain creates a big challenge for your traveling band of actors.  Does your severely agoraphobic character have to navigate ten NYC blocks?  Okay, use pieces of that environment to show how it affects him.  The towering buildings on either side loom, the people waiting to cross the street press, the reek of garbage bags in the summer heat suffocates.  If the setting doesn’t serve one of these purposes, you can go pretty light with the details.  Do keep your readers informed, though.  At the very least, they need to know where the action is taking place.

Magic Requires Rules

Magic is like physics.  You can’t see it, but the world operates within its laws.  If you create a world with magic in it, you must know magic’s limits, its rules, and its impact on casters.  And you must be consistent!  I cannot stress this enough: magic is not a deus ex machina that comes in and fixes everything…magically.  This steals your hero’s accomplishment.  If you want to break an established rule, write in a precedent for it.

*Super advanced technology falls under this category too because, at a certain point, technology begins to resemble magic.

Don’t Take It Too Far

Like anything in life, moderation is key.  There’s a fine line between immersion and tedium.  As a busy author, you can’t spend all your time figuring out your world’s every minute detail.  If a process or element in your fictional universe matches reality, you probably don’t need to explain it (save for the really esoteric stuff).  For anything that doesn’t match, you’ll need to make a judgment call.  Your editor and beta readers can tell you what needs more or less explanation, but the choice is yours in the end.  Too many details can catch you out in an inconsistency later, so I tend to err on the side of fewer details.  After all, your audience has imaginations of their own.  And remember, seeing something work is always more interesting than being told.

A final note: don’t sweat the small stuff.  Every great story has holes in it.  Take the Harry Potter series.  It’s one of the most beloved universes of all time, but where were cell phones, guns, and the Internet?  Muggleborns must have known about those things.  Granted, magical elements were part of what made those books so enchanting, but it’s true.  And those issues didn’t stop J.K. Rowling from selling a bazillion copies.  Happy writing!


dana auhtor pic for blogAuthor Bio: Dana Fraedrich is an independent author, dog lover, and self-professed geek. Even from a young age, she enjoyed writing down the stories that she imagined in her mind. Born and raised in Virginia, she earned her BFA from Roanoke College and is now carving out her own happily ever after in Nashville, TN with her husband and two dogs. Dana is always writing; more books are on the way!

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Permission for use of the content featured in this post must be sought from the author, Dana Fraedrich.

Guest Post: Brianna West on Character Development

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Joining us today for a humour packed guest post on the importance of character develoment is the wonderfully talented author, Brianna West.


The Joys of Authorhood: Raising Fully Developed Characters

Hello all aspiring and current authors desperate to figure out how to fully raise your characters into complex, well-developed, functioning-in-plot characters! I’ve come here because I was once like you: scared, unsure, slightly crazier than normal people and talking to all the voices in my head. The characters whose names you need to figure out, whose personalities aren’t complex enough, aren’t realistic enough to be featured in your current or maybe not even your future work.

Don’t be discouraged! I’ve come to give you my experience with how to raise fully functioning, story-ready characters and how to develop them over the course of your work in progress.

First things first, whether you plot your story out, outlining every detail, or you just write where your characters lead you, guiding when need be, characters that aren’t fully developed can sometimes cause a story not to feel real or read as well as one that has characters fully realized.

  1. Aw, he’s got your morbid sense of humor—get to know what their personality is. This is something I tend to do when I’m “imagining” how I want interactions to go. Whether or not the two characters would fit together with certain aspects of their personality. It’s a good time to figure out what characteristics you might want from them. Are they quirky, broody, moody, playful, quiet, and so on so forth. It’s important to get to know them and figure out where their personality needs improvement or adjustment.
  2. Playdates are fun until someone’s kid gets killed—there’s been a time or two where I’ve been unable to fully grasp an interaction between two, mostly because I haven’t really written them before or it’s been a while. So, giving them a test run in a small written interaction might help tighten up some of the aspects you were hoping to achieve or where they could change when dealing with other characters.
  3. Scarred for life—backstory is something you can get away with not knowing much of to begin with, having it develop over the course of a story and getting to know their history as the story unfolds. But it’s a good idea to have some sort of idea where you want your character to have come from, even if just that their daddy was a drunk and their mommy a drug-dealer.
  4. Growing up sucks, but it’s great for plot—the most important is the growing and changing of a character over the course of a story or series. Seeing them change as it goes along, reacting and transforming due to encounters, other characters etc., it gives the reader a sense of knowing them and real-time movement that builds a relationship with the readers that all the above doesn’t build in such an intense way.

These are just a few things to think about when dealing with character development, but in the course of my authorhood, the most important. Hopefully these help you raise well-developed, happy characters and not angry, superficial serial killer characters that spend their life blaming their author (unless that’s what you were going for).

Happy Writing!

Brianna West.


71zctz9tEAL._UX250_.jpgBrianna West lives in beautiful Northern California with her wonderful husband and four adorable children. She writes funny, real stories that are accompanied by humor and supernatural elements. Recently published in October 2015, Brianna has gone on to add several books to her main series and spin-off series since then.

Why Are ARCs Important?

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Whether you’re traditionally published or self-published, advanced reader copies (ARCs) of your edited manuscript are important. Here is why…

What is an ARC:

ARC is the shortened term for ‘advanced reader copy’. An ARC is a copy of your work that you send out to a group of readers ahead of your publication date.

Note: an ARC copy is not the same as a beta copy. Beta Copies are usually sent out before the final edit to garner constructive feedback during the editing process. ARCs are edited, finished copies of your work that are ready for publication.

Why send an ARC:

  1. ARC reviewers can offer honest feedback before your book is even on the market. You can get a good idea on how well your work has been received
  2. Free promotion. ARC readers tend to be reviewers. Having reviews on blogs, Goodreads, and social media etc is brilliant promotion before publication.  Authors need reviews, plain and simple.

When to send an ARC:

Of course, it would not be an ARC if it wasn’t received in advance of the publication date, however, there are differing opinions as to how early to send an ARC. I have received ARCs up to seven months before publication, and some within two weeks of the release date. Ultimately, it is the choice of the author/publisher. I would not advise sending unedited ARCs, but again, that is personal preference, but please be fair in your time allowance. Give the reader enough time to read and review your work comfortably, unless they specifically agree to last minute reads. 4-8 weeks before publication is acceptable for sending ARCs (especially indie books/ eBooks).

How to find ARC readers:

ARC readers are everywhere, you just have to know where to look for them.

  1. Blog: If you have a blog, do a shout out for ARC readers and reviewers.
  2. Twitter: Write a tweet requesting ARC readers. OR search hashtags such as #bookbloggers #bookreviewer #bookblog etc. You can DM or find blog links to reviewers in your genre.
  3. Social media: Post requests for ARC readers and reviewers on all your platforms.
  4. Research: Use search engines to find book blogs etc. Most book bloggers have review policies for you to study.
  5. Netgalley: You can pay a fee to have your ARC signed up to Netgalley.com. Members can request copies of your work to review.
  6. Friends: Send out copies to honest friends. Make sure they will give you a review. The more reviews the merrier.

Keeping ARC readers for future use:

Once you have found ARC readers, you ideally want to keep them.

  1. Always thank them for reviews, even if it is not the 5* review you wanted!
  2. Reblog/ share their reviews and links. Not only does this help you, but it helps them get traffic to their platforms.
  3. Build a list of trusted reviewers. Ask all of your ARC readers if you can call on them in the future. Avid readers are a valuable assets to all authors.

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 Content belongs to KJ.Chapman

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Creating Antagonists

Here is my first reblog of the next few weeks. I posted this about a year ago and still stand by my methods for creating antagonists…

creating antagonists

I  have settled down to write this blog post with a large, steaming mug of tea, so I must be anticipating it to be either lengthy, time consuming, or both. Bear with me on this.

Yesterday, a reader of my eBook, EVO Nation, shared her enjoyment in my development and portrayal of the main antagonist. Hence, why this blog post idea sprang to mind.

In truth, my antagonist was as much a surprise to me when I was writing it as it must be to the reader experiencing it for the first time. In previous posts, I have explained my lack of planning and outlining when it comes to my first draft, and how this can lead to surprising revelations even for me as the author. When I came to the logical conclusion that a certain character had the motivation and means to be my perfect (surprise) antagonist, I felt sick with betrayal…

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Author Interview: Phil Price

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author interview. p. price- horror genreToday, I get to welcome author, Phil Price to my little ol’ blog. Phil self published his first book, Unknown, in 2015. Unknown is a tale of vampires, other worlds, and blood harvesting. I was lucky to get a copy of Unknown during a free promotion, and you can read my review  here.

I love a chance to interview indie authors and gain a little insight into their lives as writers, publishers, marketers, and all that goes with self publishing, so I jumped at the opportunity to interview Phil. Not only that, I’m a sucker for a good horror story and haven’t interviewed a single horror author to date. But right here, right now, that will be rectified.

Without further ado, let’s delve into the mind of Phil Price…

Your debut novel, Unknown, has been described as a new spin on the traditional vampire novel. Can you describe Unknown in ten words or less?

Man finds a doorway to another world, filled with vampires.

You write in many POVs and in many eras. Would you pick your favourite character and give us a little insight into their mindset?

I guess I’d go for the main protagonist, Jake. He’s a young man who has lost his wife and daughter in a hit and run. He quits the police force because the system has failed his family and he feels he can no longer protect the innocent. When he discovers unexplained abductions, he is suddenly swept along by a tide of events, almost glad that his mundane existence has taken a turn for the interesting. He is searching, although he’s not sure for what exactly.

I always offer authors a chance to showcase an excerpt from their work. Would you care to share a snippet from Unknown? Give the readers a taste of what they are missing.

My pleasure: Excerpt from Unknown by Phil Price

Have you always had a love for the horror genre, and what inspires you to write in that genre?

I wanted to draw people into the book, hopefully giving them a fright or raising the hairs on the backs of their necks. I love reading books of this genre, which started when I picked up my first copy of Salem’s Lot. People want to be scared. They want to think about what goes bump in the night. The thought of something evil and supernatural just gets my juices flowing. I was haunted for years by the vision of Mr.Barlow. Even now he gives me the willies. We live in a world full of gadgets, reality TV, and celebrity. It’s nice to read about things that lurk in the shadows, out of sight.

Are you interested in writing in other genres? Can we expect a release in the future?

I’ve got a sci-fi book currently on ice. I started it last year, but wanted to concentrate on finishing Unknown and starting the sequel. I hope to release it next year (fingers crossed). It is similar to Unknown whilst being different, if that makes sense. It will take readers to the far corners of the cosmos, with all kinds of cool stuff like wormholes, warp drives, and weird aliens. I just need to get my Star Wars/ Star Trek head on.

Why did you choose the self-publishing route? Any good or bad experiences you’d care to share?

Money. This is a guilty hobby and I couldn’t justify spending lots of money on getting published. So, I opted for the ‘indie’ route. Maybe I will choose a different way next time. I’ve had mainly good experiences so far. Nothing really negative. I had no expectations when I released Unknown. So, any experiences are good ones, which will help me next time perhaps. I’ve also met many great indie authors. Some great people who are truly talented. It’s great to read books by folk who give everything to their story. People like that inspire me to write. I’ve made some firm friends so far. Happy days!

Some writers find the idea of self-publishing a daunting one. Do you have any advice for writers who may be comtemplating self-publishing their work?

Get a friend to read it in draft form. Let them give you honest feedback. Also, get it proof read and formatted professionally. A big piece of advice for any aspiring indie, is to get themselves set up on social media well before the book comes out. I didn’t, and am now playing catch-up. Twitter, Facebook, author pages, Goodreads, blogs etc, are a great way to build a network of followers before the book comes out.

What is next for Phil Price?

Well, aside from my busy family and work life, I hoping to release the sequel to Unknown later this year. Then, maybe the sci-fi book (Zoo) next year. I have another book in the back storeroom of my brain. It will be neither horror nor sci-fi. It will be based loosely on a high profile news story of the last twenty years. It will be very dark. I can say no more than that at present. You will have to watch this space.

Thank you to Phil for joining me today!


Connect with Phil on:

Twitter

Goodreads

Instagram


For use of content in this post, please seek permission from the author, Phil Price.

Author Interview: Sarina Langer

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sarinaOn Monday, Sarina Langer released her debut novel, Rise of the Sparrows. I was lucky enough to be a beta reader for Sarina, and can honestly say that it was a gripping, well written, captivating read. You can check out my review here.

And guess what? Sarina has stopped by my little ol’ blog on her week long blog tour! I’m thrilled to welcome Sarina to my blog today, to throw some questions at her, and get an insight into the life of the newly published author.

Firstly, congratulations on the release of your first book! Is there a particular experience, good or bad, that has stuck out for you in the drafting or publication of your debut?

There are several things which I enjoyed, like writing the first draft, doing the research, and even editing! The writing community both here on WordPress and on Twitter (or more recently on Instagram) has been amazing and incredibly welcoming. The only thing that has stuck out negatively is formatting my novel for Createspace and Amazon KDP. There were no issues with either- Createspace have responded to everything very quickly and were much faster than I expected! – But formatting anything in Open Office has proven to be a huge pain. I’ve made notes, so hopefully it’ll be a little easier next time.

Would you share your writing routine with us? Are a scheduler or an ‘as and when’ type of writer?

My writing routine is relaxed and forgiving compared to my editing routine. I usually write for roughly one hour to ninety minutes every day (apart from weekends- I take those off), which tends to result in anything between 1k and 3k words, sometimes (rarely) even more than that! If you’re not a writer you might not realise how many other things are involved. We don’t just write- we do research, we have to name people, places, maybe different magics and towns and complicated systems, and we have entire worlds to create from nothing. So, while I’m not writing every free minute I get, I do these other things which also progress the novel. My mornings are quite varied because of it.

What has been the most rewarding part of publishing your novel?

I write for myself- and I think every writer should- but I do want to inspire other people with my writing. Whether my writing inspires them to write themselves, improve their writing, or to do something else entirely doesn’t matter. Every time someone tells me that my writing makes them want to write or do something, I know I’ve done well, and that’s a very rewarding feeling.

What were your reasons for choosing the self-publishing route?

I am a control freak to a personal extent, and didn’t want to give up control over important aspects of my book, such as the cover design. It’s my business, my baby, and I want to be the one who makes all the big decisions. To be honest, I did want to go the traditional way when I started writing Rise of the Sparrows, but I thought that if I published a trilogy by myself first and did it well, my chances of getting a great agent and publishing deal would improve! A year later, and I’m not so sure anymore that I want an agent or traditional publisher. I like being in charge. This is my book, and I will work my butt off to make it work.

Can you describe Rise of the Sparrows in ten words of less? A quick summary for anyone thinking of purchasing your novel.

Oh my! Let me think…

Misjudgements, swords and daggers, magic, prophecy, trust issues, demons, prejudices and death. (You weren’t hoping for one sentence, right?)

I’m going to name three characters and I would love for you to describe them in just three words.

Rachaelsurvivor, paranoid, and defensive.

Cephyyoung, naive, and pyromancer.

Cale- strong, fiercely loyal (we’ll treat that as one, shan’t we?), and protective.

Would you share an excerpt from Rise of the Sparrows, pretty please?

This is a moment from the first chapter, where we first meet Rachael. Two men have come to rape her, and I think it shows nicely that she can defend herself when necessary, despite being homeless and malnourished. She maybe tired, hungry, and weak, but she can kick as if her life depends on it!

Rise of the Sparrows Excerpt

What is next for Sarina Langer?

I’m working on two novels at the moment- the sequel to Rise fo the Sparrows and a scifi novel, which is a bit of an experiment for me. I’ve never written two books at once and I’ve never written scifi either, so it’s a learning curve for me. But it’s an interesting and fun learning curve, and I’m enjoying all the new research I get to do! ( The end of the world, anyone? Multiple universe theory, anyone?)

Do you have any parting advice for unpublished writers out there?

A lot of people will love your writing, but a lot of other people won’t. That’s fine. You can’t please everyone, and that’s perfectly alright. Whether your first book does well or fails, you write another. And maybe make a note of some of that awesome feedback you get along the way- it will cheer you up when you get a bad review!

Thank you, Sarina for stopping by today, and I wish you every success with the blog tour and your debut novel!


Buy Rise of the Sparrows: here.

Find Sarina on:

Twitter

WordPress: Cookie Break

Facebook

Goodreads


Permission to use excerpts, quotations, or content must be sought from the author, Sarina Langer.