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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: writer wednesday, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Writer Wednesday: What 2016 Taught Me


Maybe I should have titled this post, "What I Learned in 2016." It was a tough year, but I did learn a few very important things. Here they are in no particular order:
  • Cover design  ~  I've been designing covers (in secret) for years, but this year I learned a lot about cover design and even did my own cover for Fading Into the Shadows, which I love.
  • ebook formatting  ~  I've been doing paperback formatting for a while, but this year, I learned fancy ebook formatting thanks to some awesome programs.
  • Self-Publishing is the way to go for me  ~  I've been traditionally published, but I'm not interested in that route anymore. I've worked on both sides of publishing for years now, and I'm ready to take my future in my own hands and self-publish from here on out. (I'm very excited about this!)
  • I love writing adult mysteries  ~  For years I swore I wouldn't write adult books, but look at me now. I don't know why I didn't think I'd like it, but I find the 25-30 age group really fun to write about.
  • Balance  ~  I'm particularly proud of this one because I've had the goal of finding balance between editing for clients and working on my own books for the longest time. I just couldn't figure out how to pull it off until I participated in NaNoWriMo this year. Now, I know I can balance the two and get all my work done on time.
Those are my top five writing lessons learned in 2016. What did you learn this year?


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2. Writer Wednesday: Author Websites


Today's topic comes from Sheena-Kay, who asked:

What is the best way to create an author's website? How can you do it yourself or affordably without it looking cheap and do expensive looking sites really sell books?

Great question, Sheena-Kay. My answer may seem confusing at first, but I promise I'll explain. First, I don't think websites sell books. However, you need to have one. ;)

Okay, here's what I mean. A reader comes across your book title or name in conversation or on Amazon. You want to make sure that if that reader googles you, they find something. So you need a website that has all the information they might need about you: 
  • your social media links
  • your newsletter
  • information about your books
  • buy links for your books
  • a press kit with your author bio
  • contact information
The danger with having that information on sites that sell your book, like Amazon, is that some retailers (AMAZON!!!!) will check to see who follows you on social media and will not allow that reader to review your book because you're "friends." Don't even get me started on this. Don't link your social media to your Amazon account! Just don't! But do put those links on your website. Also, you don't really want to give out your email to the world, right? Maybe if you have a separate email for fans, but otherwise, I wouldn't. Websites offer contact forms for readers to get in touch with you without giving out your email address. I love this feature. Many will also offer an email address attached to your website to keep it separate from your personal email.

So, how do you set up a website now that you know you need one. (You know that now, right?) I'm a huge proponent for doing it yourself. Yes, this takes more time, but it also takes less money, so it evens out. You should know how to operate your own website though because you don't want to have to run to your website designer every time you need to update the site. Find a website host that seems relatively easy to use. Some people love Wordpress. I hate it! Truly hate it. You have to go with what works for you. So look around and take tours of the sites to see what will work for you. Then take the time to get your site looking professional (with all those things I mentioned above) before you publish it. You want the site you create to be something you're proud of, not something that you're still fiddling with and that looks amateurish. 

Sheena-Kay, I hope that answers your question. If anyone has tips for creating a website or website hosts you can recommend, please feel free to share!

*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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3. Writer Wednesday: Following Ideas Regardless of Age Level or Genre


Lately, I've noticed more than a few writers switching genres and/or age groups. I've written across both for years, but I've noticed a definite trend in the books I've been drafting over the past year. They're all adult.

My first love was middle grade because I taught middle school. Then I had my daughter and was reading picture books, so I turned to writing those. I never set out to write young adult, but I got an idea one day that suited a young adult novel better than middle grade, so I ran with it. The one thing I swore I'd never write was adult. ;) We all know how that went.

I guess part of growing (both as a person and a writer) is recognizing the stories that you need to tell. I know changing genres and age groups affects readership, but I firmly believe you can't force a story. If I were to continue writing MG because readers wanted it, the writing wouldn't be as good because it's not where my heart is at the moment. That's not to say I'll never write another MG. All of this has proven we can't predict what ideas will come and when.

So, to those of you who are scared of following that new idea because it's out of your comfort genre or age level, I say go for it. Why not try it and see what happens? At the very worst, you can chalk it up to writing for experience, which is never a bad thing.

*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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4. Writer Wednesday: Life Goes On And So Does Publishing


I've had a rough fall season. If you've been following my blog or any of my social media outlets, you're aware of that. But here's what I've learned. No matter what is happening in your personal life, the world continues to spin. Time keeps flying by. I took some time to myself to regroup and care for my dog, but what I didn't do was allow myself to stop living.

In November, I committed to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), but more than that, I promised myself that I'd not only write book one in my adult psychic mystery but that I'd take my Ashelyn Drake adult romance novella and turn it into a full-length novel. When my grandfather passed away, I almost let that second promise go out the window. I didn't write for days and told myself I was allowed to not finish that goal in the month of November. 

But something happened. 

I realized I'm not the type to let a goal go without doing everything in my power to see it through. Yes, between my grandfather passing and my dog getting seriously injured, I had every right to step away from my writing. But I couldn't. I found that stepping away was worse for me. I needed to keep doing the things I love because that's how we get through tough times. Writing became therapeutic. My pace slowed drastically since I couldn't focus for long periods of time and I had to keep constant watch on my dog so she didn't rip out her stitches. But I finished both books.

Why am I sharing this with you today? Because I see writers who get stuck with a bad publisher or bad agent (I've lived through both!) or who experience hard times in their personal lives and feel like giving up all together. To those writers I want to say, live goes on. Even though you might feel like things couldn't get worse, I can assure you they will get better. You can pick yourself up and carry on.

I also want to thank all of you. Thanksgiving was tough for me because I always spent it with my grandfather. This year, I just wanted it to be over. But now that I've had some time, I want to thank those of you who reached out when I needed it. There was one day when I got a comment from a total stranger who found me on another person's blog and made a point to seek me out and offer condolences. That made my day. Seriously. And it reminded me how a small act of kindness can make such a difference in a person's life. So thank you. Writing might feel lonely at times, but this community of authors is nothing short of amazing. I'm thankful to have each and every one of you in my life.


*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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5. Writer Wednesday: Mixing Exercise with Creativity

When I posted that I've been walking while editing, I had no idea it would get such a reaction from people. To clarify, yes, I'm walking on the treadmill WHILE editing on my laptop. My laptop sits all nice and cozy in the magazine holder on my treadmill. I set my speed at 3.2, which is a nice pace for a walk. Not slow, but not power walking.

Now, I know some of you are wondering how I'm doing this since I fully admit to being accident-prone. To be honest, it's not difficult. Typing keeps me in the perfect position on the treadmill so I can't accidentally trip myself and fall, scraping up both knees so bad I have scars. Not that I've ever done that or that my knees are now covered in purple scars. ;)

But seriously, walking while working (either editing or writing) keeps me focused and feeling creative. You know how when writer's block hits and you feel compelled to step away and take a nice long walk to clear your head? Well, I'm essentially clearing my head while continuing to work! And you know how exercise gets your brain working, which makes you feel more creative? See where I'm going with this? It's amazing. I feel so refreshed and focused when I walk while editing or writing.

So I encourage you to try it if you have a treadmill handy. But please do be careful.

*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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6. Writer Wednesday: Coauthor Projects


Today's topic comes from Sheena-Kay. Thanks, Sheena-Kay!

"What do you think of coauthor projects and have you ever or will you ever do one?"

I fully admit that I'm crazy when I draft a book. Honestly, I'd feel sorry for whoever was brave enough to coauthor a book with me. Part of me really thinks it would be fun. I see authors who team up repeatedly to write together, and they appear to be having a blast. But then that other part of me thinks it would drive me crazy to relinquish control of the story and also to have to wait for someone else to get chapters back to me before I could continue.

There are definite benefits though. You have two audiences you are essentially merging. That's double one author's readership. So the marketing possibilities and the reach are greater than an author writing on his/her own. That part has always appealed to me, and I'm sure it always will. You also have someone to travel with to events to promote the book. I like the idea of having another author with me at book signings and speaking events. Furthermore, writing can be lonely at times, but coauthoring certainly isn't. So yeah, there are definite benefits to coauthoring.

Will I ever coauthor a book? Who knows? For now, I'll say I admire those who do.

*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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7. Writer Wednesday: Writing For Adults


Today's topic comes from Mirka, who said, "...tell us some more about your adult suspense book, and how writing for grown-ups is different than MG or YA, beyond the MC's age."

Great topic, Mirka! Thanks!

Okay, well my adult books are very different from my YA or MG novels. It almost seems like there are different rules for writing for adult. Let me start with what I've noticed from reading adult books. First, things are described in much more detail. Second, backstory is common and often told upfront. Third, there are more dialogue tags. 

I could go on, but these three blew my mind. For years, I listened to everyone say, "No info dumping!" and "Try not to use dialogue tags!" Yet every adult book I've read does both. Now I don't mean pages of backstory. Not at all. But a brief paragraph of who the MC is and how they go where they are is totally common. I've even see the dreaded "My name is..." format. Again, this blew my mind. And no, I'm not doing that. I've been conditioned not to.

So writing for adults is tough for me. I have to remind myself to step back, observe the scene, and give more details than I would to a teenager whose attention span isn't very long. I also need to make sure my characters are all introduced in ways that the reader will remember them from one book to the next, which means reintroducing them in books two, three, four, etc. Again, this is so different for me. But my adult beta readers are telling me this is normal, and from the books I've been reading, they are correct.

The easy things for me are writing characters who are closer to my age. Mine tend to be in the mid/late twenties to early thirties. I know how people this age speak, act, think, etc. Teens can be challenging because they change so much! Adults, not so much. I also think it's fun to write about adults in different professions. I'm exploring some that I've considered but never followed through on for various reasons, and that's kind of amazing. 

In many ways, writing for adults is freeing. I feel like a rebel, breaking rules I've always been told to follow. ;) Who doesn't like to break a few rules, right? And the dialogue and actions come more naturally for me. So yeah, I'm enjoying it, and I think I'll keep writing for adults.

*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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8. Writer Wednesday: How Do You NaNo?


We are officially two days into NaNoWriMo, so I thought I'd share how it's going and why I decided to finally participate. I wanted to try NaNo as a way to convince myself that I don't have to fast draft like a crazy person in between client edits and do nothing but edit when I have editing jobs on my schedule. I guess I take things to extremes, doing one or the other like a mad woman. I need to stop this. I know it, and I keep saying I'm going to, but it hasn't happened yet. So NaNo is about forcing myself to split my days between editing in the morning and writing in the afternoons. So far, I'm doing it.

The odd thing is that most people do NaNo to get a book drafted quicker than they normally would. For me, it's the opposite. When I draft, I usually hit anywhere between 10,000 and 18,000 words a day. (Yes, you read that correctly!) But splitting my days and committing to NaNo while I have edits on my plate, means I have to aim much lower, like 3,000 to 5,000 words a day. So I feel like NaNo is very different for me than most people. It's forcing me to slow down. Will I like this? It's too soon to tell.

How about you? Are you NaNoing? How do you approach it? (And feel free to buddy me. I'm khashway.)

*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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9. Writer Wednesday: Working With Freelancers


Today's topic comes curtesy of Sheena-Kay. Thanks, Sheena-Kay! She wants to know:

What do you do when a freelancer (cover artist, editor, etc) suddenly up and cancels on you or what advice would you give to someone else in that position?

Okay, this is something you hope never happens to you, but I've seen it a lot. Most freelancers are good because this is how they make their money. They need repeat clients, and so they do their best to meet deadlines and make their clients happy. But...

There are times when freelancers go MIA or cancel on you. The first thing I recommend is trying to figure out why. Life happens. A death in the family can cause a freelancer to go offline. Let's face it. When a loved one passes, the last thing we think about is checking our email, and that's understandable. So if this is a freelancer you really like, try to find out if something like this happened. If you don't know the freelancer and you can't wait for them to respond, do what you have to do. Deadlines are deadlines.

Now if a freelancer cancels on you with no explanation, I wouldn't advise working with them again in the future. And to be honest, I'm in several groups where people share info on freelancers—ones who don't meet deadlines, ones who take payment and then don't follow through on the work, etc. They do get blacklisted, so they don't want to be talked about this way.

I think the best way to get involved with a freelancer is by word of mouth. See who others recommend after having used that freelancer. Like anything else, do some research and protect yourself.

*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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10. Writer Wednesday: Why NaNo Isn't Really For Me


My participation in NaNoWriMo this month has taught me something. NaNo isn't designed for people like me. I fast draft—sometimes writing crazy amounts of words in a single day. I finished my 50,000 words on November 7th, but NaNo won't let me verify my word count and ultimately win because I achieved that word count too soon. What?!?!?!? I can't wrap my head around that.

So now, I can't earn all my badges, like writing every day this month. I almost feel like I'm being penalized for writing too quickly. And that's crazy! I wrote the entire book in seven days! Of course I won! But yet, I didn't according to NaNo. So I've decided to cheat. Yup. I'm cheating and working on another novel and adding that to my word count. This book is one I started last year and had to put aside. I'm editing for clients right now and so far I've only been writing about 1,500-2,500 words a day on this book. But still, even if I continue to write until November 30 (though I highly doubt the book will take that long to finish) I won't get my badge for writing every day this month. I guess I should have read up on NaNo before I decided to join in on the fun, because I'm going to have two completed novels by the end of the month and I still don't feel good about it.

I most likely won't participate in NaNo again. It's just not designed for me. It's making me feel like a failure even though I've already won, and let's face it. This industry is hard enough on our egos. I don't need this on top of it.

Anyone else find that NaNo makes you feel bad instead of encouraging you to write more? 

*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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11. Writer Wednesday: Description in First Person POV


Today's topic comes curtesy of Fiona Phillips, who asked:

"In your opinion, does writing from first person perspective limit the amount of description you can use (of surroundings, characters, etc.)?"

First, that's a great question, so thank you for posing it, Fi. If you're comparing first person to third person, then the answer is yes. Unless you have a main character who is extremely perceptive, you're not going to get the same level of description in first person as you would in third person. However, that doesn't mean you can't have a good level of description in first person POV. It just means you have to tackle it in a different way. 

In third person POV, you can easily set the scene, describing as much as you want. But with first person POV, you have to make sure the description is coming across in a more natural way. If the character is entering a scene that's unfamiliar to him/her, it's natural to take in the scene, thus describing it for the reader. However, a character wouldn't naturally walk into the house they've lived in for the past ten years and comment on all the details of the layout. What you would need to do is describe that layout in terms of where the MC is and what the MC is doing. The MC might toss his/her keys on the mahogany table against the wall as he/she walks in the front door. He/she might trip over the runner in the hallway on his/her way to the living room, where he/she flops down on the brown, leather couch and puts his/her feet up on the glass coffee table. See what I did there? I'm giving details to describe the scene as it pertains to the MC.

So, yes, you can have that description, but you need to tie it to the MC and present it as it makes sense. It's different from third person POV, but it can be done. I hope that answers your question, Fi!

*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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12. Writer Wednesday: A Tip For Tenses


Today's topic comes from Lidy, who asked:

"The trouble comes with which tense to use. Simple past or past progressive? But then I end up mixing and switching tenses. Is there a trick or tip to keep your tenses straight/consistent?"

First, for anyone not familiar with the term past progressive, let me explain it. Past progressive can indicate a continuing action or an action that was interrupted or happening when something else occurred. You write this tense by using a form of "to be" and a verb ending in -ing. Here are some examples with the past progressive in italics:

Continuing action:
Tom was being a bad friend.
I was writing all afternoon.

Interrupted/happening when something else occurred:
I was sleeping when my dog suddenly started to bark.
I was leaving the house when the phone rang.

Okay, so here's my advice. Avoid "to be" (helping verbs) at all costs. This is something I learned when I took writing courses. "To be" (in all its forms: is, am, was, were, are) is a sign of weak writing. Let me rewrite the examples above to remove the use of "to be" verbs.

Tom's actions made him a bad friend.
I drafted my book all afternoon.
As I walked out the front door, the phone rang.
My dog's loud bark woke me from a deep sleep.

Now I could've constructed better sentences, but this is just to give you an idea of how to do this so I kept my examples simple. Basically, avoiding "to be" will result in stronger sentences. However, if you are mixing past and past progressive, don't assume you're incorrect in doing so. There is a time and place for past progressive. The real question is, do you want to use past progressive when "to be" verbs are stereotyped as weak writing and can be avoided?

*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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13. Writer Wednesday: Broadening Your Reach


As authors, one thing we are constantly trying to do is broaden our reach. You need people to know you and your books exist. So how do you do that? Here are a few ways you should take advantage of:

  • Interviews ~ Never say no to someone who wants to interview you for their blog, newspaper, podcast, etc. I recently did an interview on Super Teacher Worksheets, and it was great. This gets your name out there to readers you may not have otherwise met. (If you're interested, you can read my interview here.)
  • Guest Blog ~ Again, this gets you a new set of readers if the blog you are appearing on has a different following than your own. So reach out to some blogs that you love and see if you can do a guest post for them.
  • Multi-author Giveaways ~ These are fantastic because readers love giveaways. When authors join forces, they join readerships too. That's a very good thing.
  • Blog Hops ~ There are some big blog hops out there. I mean BIG. Getting involved with those will get your book and your name in front of tons of people.
  • Follow Other People's Followers ~ That was a mouthful! What I mean is check out authors you admire and see who they are following and who is following them. Then start following those people too. This is a great way to meet new readers. (This works for Twitter, Instagram, etc.)
  • Use Different Blog Tour Companies ~ We all have those tour companies we love to work with, but they have a base of bloggers they work with. That means using them repeatedly only gets you in front of the same pool of readers. Try other companies as well to find new readers.
These are just a few ways to broaden your reach. Do you know of others? Please share in the comments so we can learn from each other.


*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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14. Writer Wednesday: Encouragement

REMINDER: I'll be on a one-week blogging break beginning Friday, July 8th. I'll see you back here on Friday, July 15th.

Lately, I've seen a lot of writers who are just down in the dumps. They're either discouraged because they are experiencing writer's block or they are in the process of separating from a publisher who isn't right for them or they've been on submission for months with no bites from editors. :(

As you probably know, my daughter has been writing her first book. She was so excited when she first began and the idea just flowed. She wrote every day with no shortage of ideas. Well, she's hit the late-middle slump. She knows the ending of her book, but is stuck at the point leading to the climax. She needs some encouragement, and I'm sure some of us could use some too.

So, today I'm asking you to share your words of wisdom in the comments for how you push through when you're going through the many downs that we experience on this roller coaster we call writing. To start you off, here's my advice:

Freewrite anything and everything that comes to mind. Sometimes the act of writing (no matter what about) will inspire creativity and get you over the hump.

*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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15. Writer Wednesday: A Little Perspective


Since I became a part of this crazy world that is book publishing, my goals and perspective have shifted several times. At first, I dreamed of book deals and best-seller lists. Then I learned that this industry is can be harsh. I'm not talking about bad reviews from readers. I'm talking about the industry itself. It's slow. Publishers go under or don't honor contracts, which leads to rights reversions. Agents can come and go as well.

I've been through a lot, and it's made me change my perspective. I no longer stalk my spreadsheet when my agent has one of my books on submission. It's not that I don't care. I definitely do. But I've come to the conclusion that not every book needs to be published traditionally. So if a good publisher wants my book, that's fantastic. If a book doesn't get picked up, I know it's not the end of the world. I'll hire a great editor and self-publish. If I have too much time between releases, I look at the books I have written, decide which would be better suited for self-publishing, and get that in the works so readers are continuing to get new books from me.

Being a hybrid author is freeing. I don't feel the stress I once did in this industry, and I'm much happier for it. Has your perspective changed after being in this industry for a while?

*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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16. Writer Wednesday: Where Writers Ever Just Writers?


Lately I've been wondering if writers were ever just writers. Sure, I guess we could just write books, send them to our agent, who submits to publishers, and let the chips fall where they may while we write the next book. But would we really find success if we ignored all the other jobs writers have?

Today more than ever, writers have to be great at marketing. I'm talking getting your books out there by identifying who your fans are and making sure your book is seen by those fans. Everything from interacting on social media, joining Goodreads and FB groups, setting up book signings, creating teaser images, maintaining a website, blogging, offering free content... The list goes on and on. 

Sometimes I'm left wondering when I'm supposed to write. I'm getting one book ready for production and another ready for my editor, and what I noticed is that some parts of these books are foreign to me. I'm so far removed from when I drafted them that I don't remember writing certain parts. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Distance gives you perspective and can really help during the revision process. But I actually have to schedule writing time. Part of me finds that crazy. I used to just write. Nothing else. Now I'm writing, editing, marketing, and self-publishing. I feel like I wear a thousand hats each day.

So I'm wondering, was it always this way? Or has it gotten worse with time? What do you think?

*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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17. Writer Wednesday: Cover Clones


Today's topic comes from Sheena-Kay, who posed the question:

How do you avoid ending up with duplicate covers to other authors? Especially with use of stock photo images? Is digital manipulation enough and is going custom always viable with meager pockets?

Duplicate or similar covers happen more than we'd like. There's even a list on Goodreads called cover clones. And I have books on that list. It happens because of stock images. Those images are bought countless times. In fact, my cover for Touch of Death even appears on a slot machine! So how do you avoid this?

The only way to be absolutely sure your cover image won't appear anywhere else is to have it custom made, either by means of a photo shoot or illustrator (who promises not to sell that image to anyone else). That can be costly though. So if you have to use stock images, you want to make sure that the image is manipulated enough to make it unique. 

Filters, layers, zoom, and rotation can all be used to help. Filters will create a different effect on the photo, playing with lighting and contrast. Layers are wonderful because it means you are using other images and layering them together to create a new image. Zooming in on a photo will remove background and can sometimes make the original image hard to recognize if it's an extreme close-up. Rotation is good, but it doesn't change the image much. Using a combination of all of these would yield the most results.

So if you want a unique cover, you can accomplish that with stock photos as long as you do enough manipulation. But keep in mind that your cover model WILL appear on other covers. It's going to happen if you use stock photos. But you can change that model's hair color, eye color, clothing color, etc to make her slightly different.

Do any of you have books with cover clones?

*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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18. Writer Wednesday: Self-doubt


Right now I'm revising a book that might be my favorite book I've written to date. I haven't revised it in a while, and that distance made me fall in love with the story and characters all over again. Great, right?

Yes and no. If you're like me, when you read a manuscript you truly love, you get that "Oh no! What if I never write another book as good as this one?" feeling. Self-doubt is awful, but we all experience it. After I got my first book deal, I felt unable to write another book. I thought that was it. One book and my career is finished. Of course it wasn't, but that fear can be crippling.

As I revise, I keep trying to tell myself that it's a good thing that I love this book so much and that I should ride this writer's high and work on the next one immediately. Still, doubt keeps creeping in. It's sort of like being on a roller coaster—feeling great one minute and like a failure the next.

How do you deal with self-doubt? Do you push through and hope the next manuscript surprises you?

*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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19. Writer Wednesday: Setbacks


I feel like this industry has been quite grim lately. Writers are experiencing setbacks all over the place. I'm sure this has always been the case, but it's being publicized more now than ever, and maybe that's a good thing because it shows others that a writer's life isn't all fun and games. It's tough!

But here's the thing. Setbacks are just that. They set you back a bit, but they aren't the end. I firmly believe that when things come too easily, we take them for granted. But when we have to work hard, we are more likely to appreciate the success we find. 

So to you writers out there who are feeling down because of setbacks, I challenge you to do this. Push forward and show the industry and the world that you're meant to do this. You are a writer and you WILL write. And remember that you have others like you to lean on. Let's all lift each other up and do what we're meant to do: write books!

*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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20. Writer Wednesday: Where It All Begins


It's my daughter's last week of summer break, and we've been busy formatting her first book and reading. She read three books in two days! I can't tell you how happy it makes me to see her love of the written word. She's even writing news articles--okay, so they're about Monster High dolls, but she's nine. ;) I'm amazed at how well she puts her thoughts to paper and/or screen.

She reminds me of someone--a little girl who always had a book in her face (hence my awful eyesight). A little girl who wrote poems and short stories and thought they made the best gifts for her family members.

For some of us, writing is something we've done since we could hold a pencil. But I know that's not the case for everyone, so today I want to hear how you came to be a lover of the written word (as a reader and/or writer).

How did it begin for you?

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21. Writer Wednesday: Going Indie

I recently made a big decision for my writing career. I've decided to go indie. Why now after I've had many books traditionally published? To be honest, I've been burned too many times in this industry. I know as writers we aren't supposed to talk about this, but I'm going to anyway. I've been burned by both publishers. And it hurts. Really hurts. As writers we put our dreams in the hands of others and sometimes that works out great. I've had some really great experiences. Fantastic support and more than I've ever dreamed possible.

But that isn't always the case. Sometimes your dreams are shattered by the people you thought were going to help you succeed. I will not be naming names because that isn't the point of this post and I choose to focus on those who have helped me succeed and for whom I'm forever grateful. The point of the post is that I finally realized I have to do what's best for me, and right now, that's going indie. I want control over my career. Yes, it's a lot of work. A LOT! But I've worked in this industry long enough that I've been involved in each aspect of publishing, and I believe I'm ready to take on this challenge. And it will be a challenge. I have no doubt about that.

Does this mean I'll never seek a traditional deal again? Of course not. I've learned not to say "never" because it's like tempting the devil. ;) But for now, I'm going indie and I'm really excited about it.

What decision have you made lately that was tough but for the betterment of your career?


*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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22. Writer Wednesday: When You Have to Put A Draft On Hold


I used to think there was nothing worse than having to put an unfinished manuscript aside, but I've come to change my mind about this. With my editing schedule, I often have to write in sprints and then put a manuscript away until my next small break between edits. At first I hated this and I'd give up sleep to finish a draft before the next edit landed in my inbox. Not anymore.

I've found that I love returning to an unfinished story. I get fresh ideas about the plot and characters, and knowing I only have half or a quarter of the book left to write is exciting and totally doable on a time restraint. So I'm not stressing anymore. If I have to put a book aside,  I know I'll come back to it.

Do you ever have to put an unfinished draft aside? How do you feel about it?

*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post. 

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23. Writer Wednesday: Self-Publishing Costs


With the number of authors moving in the direction of self-publishing, I've decided to share some things you should know before you dive into self-publishing as an option.

First, understand that the costs are all on you. You are the publisher, so you are responsible for editing, cover design, formatting, and promotion. The good news is that you get to make all the decisions and hire the people you want to help you with your book. Let's break down the big costs involved.

Editing:  There are a lot of great editors out there and their rates differ. You have to do your research and find one that's affordable and offering the type of edits you're looking for. Don't skimp on editing though. I'm not just saying that because I'm an editor. I'm saying it because every author (I don't care if you're famous or not) needs an editor.

Cover Design:  Again, there are a ton of designers out there and they all have different prices. Premade covers are also an option, and they are less expensive. The difficult part is finding one that works for your book. Join some Facebook groups for cover design. Designers post covers, sales, and even ask for suggestions for future premades. They're also happy to work with you on custom made covers.

Formatting:  I know a lot of authors who do their own formatting. Print is a pain, but it's not that difficult. You can teach yourself to do it. There are tons of programs to download and convert your file to all the different ebook files, too. Or you can hire a formatter. I hire a formatter for my ebooks and I format my print books myself.

Promotion:  This is the one that makes all our eyes twitch. I have a social media manager, and she's worth way more than her weight in gold. You can hire a publicist or blog tour companies, or you can choose to do the promotional efforts on your own. Just keep in mind they take a lot of time, so plan accordingly. Advertising is available on Facebook, newsletter subscriptions, and book sites. Teaming up with other authors to offer a big giveaway is also great for exposure and it's inexpensive.

Now this is just touching the surface, but I hope it gives you and idea of what to expect when you go into self-publishing. Yes, you will have to put out money, but the good news is that whatever money comes in from sales is all yours. See which efforts work well for you and where you need to focus that money. It took me years, but I taught myself cover design. I'm lucky enough to have a graphic artist for a sister and she bails me out when I can't do something, but you can learn different aspects of this business and lessen costs that way. I've been on both sides of publishing, and I've made it a point to learn every step along the way. The experience has been so valuable.


*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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24. Writer Wednesday: A New Release Every Two Months?


Now that I'm officially going indie, I can do exciting things like set my own production schedule. Why is this so exciting? Because over the years, I've had to either months between releases or releases stacked so close together it was tough to market my books. No more.

I have 2017 and 2018 mapped out and my release schedule looks like this:
January 
April 
July 
October

That's two months between releases. Will it be tough? Yes! But I think the schedule is going to keep readers happy, and I work better on a schedule so I think I'll be happy too.

Right now, my January 2017 release is so close to being completely finished (and it's only September!). My April release is with my editor, and I'll be polishing up my July release to get that ready for my editor as well. Things are looking good so far. :)

Do you like when authors release books a few months apart?

*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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25. Writer Wednesday: How to Write Faster

When I announced my release schedule for 2017, it prompted the question "How do you write so fast?" (Thanks for asking Kristin Smith.) I seem to get this question a lot, and I realized that I usually answer it by saying I fast draft. But since the question keeps being posed, I realized my answer up until now hasn't been good enough.

So let me try to explain. My editing schedule tends to fill up very quickly, which means I don't have a lot of time to draft books. I'll get a week or two here and there. Writing "quickly" becomes a necessity. I don't have any other choice. Sometimes I have a log of ideas I haven't yet written and I'll pull one of those out to work on. From there I type as much as possible whenever I can find a few minutes. When I have an editing break, I get the entire school day to write, and I write for the ENTIRE school day. I eat (when I remember) at my laptop, which means I need to eat food that only requires one hand so I can keep typing. I kid you not when I say I'm crazy when drafting. With a capital C. 

Basically, what I've learned is we can train ourselves to adapt. If your schedule requires you to write at ten o'clock at night each night, then do it. You will train your brain to be creative at that time every day. Or if your schedule means a few minutes here and there throughout the day, do it! You will train yourself to be creative on a whim. It does take training though, so when you are struggling, push through. You have to get your brain to that point where it gives in and says, "Fine, let's do this!" So often I tell myself I have to type faster because I have an edit coming in two days and I need to finish the draft first. I'm tough on myself, but that's because I need to be.

So no matter what your schedule is, if you train your brain to be creative when you need it to be, you will be able to write faster.

*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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