NaNoWriMo = National Novel Writing Month. By the time you see this post, I will have committed to writing a novel in the month of November. While I didn’t fully commit on their site, or to finishing my draft completely, I did decide to challenge myself and make some changes in my writing habits. NaNoWriMo is a grueling process and is not for the faint of heart. Here is what I learned about myself during the process, and I have to say, a couple of them surprised me.
Writing a 50,000 word novel in a month isn’t for everyone, and for the last few years, I fought against participating in NaNoWriMo because I felt the stress would be too high. I am happy to admit I was wrong, and that challenging myself to stick to a regular schedule, started me on a path of a wonderful new habit. I look forward to producing more books and continuing to keep my Muse happy in the future!
NaNoWriMo 2019…here I come! - DH (original post on www.saraybooksllc.com)
Author: Dorothy Reese, Linda Grischy and Cheryl Rogers
First Published: October 29, 2013
Fun and entertaining, this little cookbook offers over 60 recipes. You'll find ways for using your leftover turkey as appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches, casseroles and dinners. Learn tips on how to prepare, cook and store your leftover turkey. But wait! There's so much more! For example, what do they do with all those feathers??? Yes, the anecdotes alone will entertain the entire family! A perfect gift for a Thanksgiving hostess or for your own library---
For more about the author, click here!
I sometimes wonder what makes a story good? Why do I stay up all night reading one book, while another I find so dull? As a writer, I want to know how to keep readers turning the pages. So, I decided to scan some reader reviews, searching for the answers.
Many of the responses suggested the pace was sluggish. In fact it seemed to be the number one complaint. Here are some of those review excerpts:
So the pace of the story is very important. What slows the tempo? What causes the story to lag? Here are some more detailed reviews.
Ok, so too many details, or too much description can cause a story to lag, become boring. Then what makes the story good?
By studying what reviewers say about books they like, or don't like, I found what to watch for in my own writing. - LG
Photo credit: Pixabay.com
I always thought that if you wanted to help readers see what you are thinking and feeling, adjectives are what you need, the more the better. But in a recent New York Times Sunday magazine, Sam Anderson, in his column “New Sentences,” shows us how verbs can be even more descriptive.
“The past sleds behind him,” is a sentence Anderson uses as an example. It is taken from Christine Schutt’s “Pore Hollywood: and Other stories.” (Grove Press, 2018, Page 96). Schutt is the author of two previous collections and three novels, including the National Book Award finalist “Florida.” Here is what Anderson says about this sentence:
“What an excellent verb: “sleds.” What a weirdly specific way to visualize time. In just five quick words, this sentence converts the entire history of everything – the whole past – from its usual state of formless abstraction (an energy field, a tidal wave, a void) into something fabulously active and small: a kid on a toboggan, scraping and sliding behind you, bumping over little hills, cheeks red from the cold, pompom bouncing yarnily on top of a winter hat The past becomes perky and alive and attentive, always on your heels, even as you trek perpetually forward.
“As a livelong mope, I tend to imagine the past very differently – as fundamentally huge and sad. It is a kind of ocean, always running backward toward low tide, receding, draining away from me, and I stand stuck on the edge of its shore, knowing that it contains everything I have ever known – my father and mother, the old maple tree, a black dog and an orange cat, my grandmother’s terrifying clock – but all of that is under the surface now, suspended in the water that rushes away from me, and I will never be able to enter it, will never recover what has sunk, and it causes me real pain. All of the water that happens to be inside of me, the cellular plasma, keens for all of that other water leaving, because it knows there will be no high tide.
“But language is a powerful thing. Change an image, and so much changes with it. The past can be a broom closet stuffed with receipts. The past can be a heron hunting the frog of the now. The past can be Bigfoot – a legendary thing, blurry, possibly real and possibly not, swinging its arms through precisely the forest you are not currently in. Or the past can be a sled. Just turn around and look.”
Makes me want to play more in the verb playground! JB
Author: D.A. Henneman
Genre: Fantasy/Paranormal Romance - 18+
Available in Print & Ebook:
Barnes & Noble
So excited to announce the day is finally here! Book 3, in the Power of Four series, Playing with Fire is available for your reading pleasure! Anyone who is interested in reading the first chapter can follow the link to D.A. Henneman's website. Here's an excerpt!
A frightening chain reaction begins during a four-alarm for firefighter Sera Cardoso. The tattoo decorating her chest warns her away from danger, but this time is different. Visions in the flames of a handsome stranger with whiskey-colored eyes haunt her. Later, when her punching bag smolders and the water in her shower turns to steam, Sera unwittingly breaches a divide between her world and a magical land called Wisteria.
Logan Blackwood is edgy and dangerously close to the end of his mating cycle. If he is unable to find his soul mate before three cycles of the moon, his life will be altered—forever. When the fiery Sera enters his life, he can hardly believe his luck. He’s waited a lifetime for her, but there’s a slight problem—she doesn’t seem to feel the same connection.
Sera is the element of Fire and is as hot and unpredictable as the flames she represents. Her decision to accept Logan into her life is the first of many she will need to face. With the help of the other elements, she is exposed to a world of magick and mystery. It will be up to Sera and her new friends to correct the imbalance in the elemental powers, before evil rules not only Wisteria, but earth itself.
Would love to hear what you think, so be sure to leave a review wherever you purchase it or on Goodreads! Appreciate the shares, likes and retweets! Enjoy! - DH
Recently, I finished the last of my edits and shipped the manuscript for book #3 off to my editor. What started as a few ideas scribbled in my notebook over a year ago, has turned into 95,880 words and a key piece of the Power of Four story. I thought that it might be interesting for others to see what my books go through from idea to print, especially since I am fascinated with how other authors approach their writing process. In no way am I saying this is the only way to do things, it is merely the process that works best for me.
The sequence I go through can be narrowed down into five categories: Outline Draft, Rough Draft, Critiqued Draft, Read-through Draft, Final Draft. Of course, this is just getting it into the editor's hands, and once it comes back to me I will have to rinse and repeat until I am happy with the end result and it passes through the beta readers without any major snags.
Step #1 - Outline Draft - So,this draft can be completed any number of ways for me. Scribbles in my notebook, a few sentences for each chapter in a Word doc, even scrawls on a napkin. I've even used my phone (notes) to dictate ideas and then email it to myself later so the thoughts can be easily cut and paste. Bottom line, this step is me getting it out of my head and onto paper, so it doesn't need to be pretty. Trust me, it usually isn't! For my first book, I had an overall plot and the idea that each element would be a separate romance, but beyond that didn't outline much. What I found out when writing book 2, was that it was much easier for me to have a general idea of what would be happening written down. While the story can always go in a different direction (I am a pantser after all), I at least have an idea of which way to travel to support the overall story. This process generally takes a few weeks to a month since a lot of the outlining actually occurs in my head long before I mold my thoughts into the bones of an idea.
Step #2 - Rough Draft - After piecing the bones together and finishing my skeleton, I start to add some muscle a chapter at a time. Typically, I finish a chapter one day, then go back through it and tweak things the next, preparing it for my Critique Partners. I send the tweaked chapter to the ladies I meet with every 2 weeks, who provide comments on what they liked, what they didn't, and whether or not they like the direction the story is going in. The Muse Crew ladies are amazing and gifted writers, and their focus is from that aspect. They all write in different genres so tend to focus on different parts of the story, which I believe helps me complete a well-rounded manuscript. This process takes anywhere from a few months to a year to get through the entire book.
Step #3 - Critiqued Draft - After I receive comments back, I add them to my muscled draft. This is where I finalize the shape of the characters and settings, using the Muse Crew edits as a roadmap to the problem areas. Sometimes the fix is easy, sometimes it requires an entire reworking of the chapter. In the case of the opening chapter of Playing with Fire, I drafted and submitted no less than three versions. The ladies wanted to start in the action, they wanted to keep up the tension, and I ended up with a chapter that gave them what they were looking for, and that provided me with a tone for the entire book. I know it would have been an entirely different book had they allowed the first few drafts to go through. Thank you Muse Crew! You were so right, and Playing with Fire is all the better for it! This process runs anywhere from a few weeks to a month.
Step #4 - Read-Through Draft - So, if we continue with my body analogy, this is the step where I add skin (creepy I know, but have I mentioned I've always loved Stephen King)? At this point, I have already tweaked each of the chapters as I went along, and included input from Critique Partners. In essence, I have what I think of as a solid second draft. At this stage I have formatted it with chapter headings, table of contents and some of the back matter. I have the entire manuscript printed and bound, then pull out my red pen! I find that a paper copy is easier for me to find errors on, and it also gives my eyes and fingers a break from the computer (which I am literally on 16 hours a day). It also allows me to take my manuscript with me to appointments, libraries, etc. without having to drag my laptop around. This generally takes me a month, but only because I don't take a single look at my project for at least a week or two.
Step #5 - Final Draft - So, remember that body we built? Well, it has been pretty slashed up at this point and I have made my final tweaks. At this point, I am pretty damn tired of reading the story, so when I edit I only focus on the areas that I have marked in red. I figure if there is anything that doesn't flow right after I make changes, either my editor or beta readers will catch it on their read through. I make the changes (this last time took me a total of 12 hours), and then save it as a new file and submit it to my editor. At this stage, I have done all I can do to get my story in the best shape for her critique, and now I will wait for comments from a fresh set of eyes.
After it comes back from my editor, I do steps 3-5 again, although the process is generally quicker since I only focus on the areas of concern. I always have my editor look at it a second time after the tweaks, which helps me know if I have taken care of her concerns in a way that makes sense. Once she signs off and I have a final, final version, it is ready for the Beta Readers! I ship it out to two or three readers at this stage, and they let me know what they like or don't like about the story. If they were entertained and they want to read the next book, I know my work is done.
For anyone interested in the difference between Critique Partners and Beta Readers, you can check out my article: Getting the most out of working with a Critique Partner. For more on my editing process check out: Rewrites...a necessary evil.
This process is something that I would do, whether I chose to self-publish or query an agent/publishing house. Either way you decide to go, I feel you want to put your best foot forward and send out the cleanest manuscript possible for their review. It can be costly, but any investment you make in yourself is money well spent!
Happy writing! - DH
So you decide to write a book and the main character is going to be a Firefighter because you've always thought it was an exciting occupation. Before you let your fingers do the walking through your search engine, you will want to consider contacting someone who knows something about fighting fires. What you need is a Subject Matter Expert.
It's fiction, you say, what the heck do I need one of those for when I can just make stuff up? Well, do what you want, it's your funeral - I mean book. But in my opinion even fiction writers need to weave believable elements throughout their plot. Here's why:
If you are looking for information on various occupations, start local and go from there. Chances are most of your questions can be answered by your local Emergency Responders, Public Officials or Business Owners. You can also reach out to the personnel in charge of responding to media requests, or go onto blogs through writing groups and ask other authors who have used that occupation for characters they have written. I have found that most writers are more than happy to share their knowledge or at least get you heading in the right direction.
Give yourself enough time to use Subject Matter Experts when writing your book, as waiting for responses can delay you from completing your edits or even making your publishing deadline. If possible, contact more than one source for answers to your questions.
Speaking to a Subject Matter Expert can provide you with small details that can make a huge impact on your story. When incorporated correctly the scene should be not only seamless, but the information contained in it should ring true. A well crafted scene with realistic details is where the real magic lies. Now if you will excuse me, I need to find some experts in the medical field...I have some healing that needs to happen in Book #4! - DH
Other articles on Subject Matter Experts/Research:
Thank you so much to all Emergency Responders for your hard work and dedication. Your efforts are truly appreciated! Safe journeys to you all...
I've been having a rough time concentrating at home lately. There always seems to be things that take priority over my writing - AKA laundry, cleaning, you know real life stuff. Thing is, I can't just let the house stuff go, and if I do, it eats at me. But it also eats at me if I'm not able to write. As a matter of fact, I pretty much turn into a snarling grizzly. AKA it gets scary ugly. So, my writing friends and I came up with an idea...
The Muse Crew is hosting a write-in every week at our local community center in Hamburg, MI. We provide a quiet place to work on projects and the writers bring the rest! We are there every Sunday, from 11:30 to 4:30 and take a short break in the middle of the session to allow for open discussion/feedback on the projects being worked on. It is our hope that some satellite writing groups will form from the interaction, but at the very least it will be a supportive place to work on our projects and bring some consistency into our writing lives.
Our plan is to have an educational element once a month as well, and invite speakers to discuss writing, publishing, marketing or any other topic the group finds interesting. We are only a few weeks in so I don't have much to report, but will provide regular updates on the Muse Crew blog as well as on Facebook and Twitter. At this time, there is no cost to participate.
For anyone interested in participating, or speaking at this type of event (free of charge), please feel free to email the crew at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow them at the following social media links:
Please be sure to sign up for email updates on the Muse Crew Facebook page!
The post will be pinned to the top of our feed. Happy writing! - DH
Author: Jewel E. Leonard
Genre: Romance, Steampunk
Review by: D.A. Henneman
A delightful story, filled with colorful characters! Maeve is marvelously feisty and her love/hate relationship with the mysterious Shadow Wolf adds a delightful fuel to the fire. There is plenty of sassy innuendo, with touches of steampunk in a Wild West setting that is refreshing and fun.
I loved the inclusion of Maeve’s connection to earth magic and the way the author showed her abilities, especially when she is desperate to keep them secret. I also appreciate the nods to the heritage of each of the characters through things that they say… especially when they argue!
There was no shortage of twists to the plot and I am anxious to see where Maeve’s story goes in future books. - DH
Recently, the Muse Crew attended a writer's conference during which four of the members pitched to attending agents. This was a first time experience for each of us, and even though we each write in different genres, the feedback I received from each member had common threads. I thought others might be interested in our experiences, so I summarized my questions and the responses below:
For more information on developing your pitch, check out D.A.'s recent post here.
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