7 Things to Do When You Want to Give Up (Instead of Giving Up)

 

 

 

 

 

By: Brian A. Klems | April 20, 2017

There are a lot of challenges and rewards to being an author, and one of the greatest (and sometimes brutal) challenges is getting published. I think we’ve all seen people magically picked up by publishers out of nowhere, but my experience is that they usually know someone in the business. For me, it was a slog that took more than ten years and hundreds of rejections from agents and editors.

Then, in the past two and a half years, I signed contracts for fourteen books with three different publishers. Eight of the books are out now, and the rest will be out shortly. When people think that because I started selling books in my twenties I must have somehow cheated to get ahead, I tell them my history: I started submitting to agents and editors when I was in middle school. I was already writing novels then, and despite having a growing readership and being highlighted by the Los Angeles Times at the age of 14, I was still up for years of constant rejection. That’s how hard of a business this is, and it shows that if you want to write, never give up.So, if you’ve been submitting and not getting anywhere, here are some suggestions of things you can do instead of giving up, and all these things can help you on your path to publication.

  1. Revise

One of the most important things I learned — and one of the things I used to resist most — is revising. If your book is being rejected, it might not be because it’s a “bad” book. It might just be it needs some revising, because all books do. For me, revising often means cutting back so that the prose moves smoothly. Don’t say something in a paragraph you can say in a sentence. It sometimes can also mean adding to a scene because its full meaning isn’t there yet. There are freelance editors out there (some of whom worked as professional editors for publishers beforehand) who will help you edit. This can be expensive, though, so there are also options of joining writers’ groups in person or online. You can also talk to people you know who are knowledgeable about your genre, as long as they’re also willing and able to give you good constructive criticism.

  1. Publish elsewhere

Even if you can’t get your book published (yet), that doesn’t mean you can’t publish elsewhere to build up your résumé. When I was in high school, I started writing for a local newspaper. I’d take these articles and send them to bigger places, showing them that I was a professional writer and could work for them, too. By doing this, I eventually worked my way up to writing for MTV, CNN, The Onion, Publishers Weekly and Booklist, among other places. Once agents and editors see that big-name places are willing to hire you, they pay more attention. (A lot of these places I got into initially by writing about manga for them — I have an interest in Japanese comics and they needed people to cover this. Your interests might be what you can sell, which is win-win.) But keep in mind I didn’t reach MTV overnight — I started out with that local paper and kept moving up. Blogging is also a way to potentially get your name out there. It doesn’t necessarily have the same oomph to publishers as a paying market, but if you get enough followers, publishers ought to take heed.

  1. Build a Platform

Publishers and agents often say they want to see a platform. In other words, they want to see you brand yourself and have followers. While working on your book and submitting, find good ways to get yourself known. Publishing elsewhere (see above) can be a useful move for this part, but it’s not limited to that. Some people also use social media to build their own platform by finding an audience there. Other people have gotten attention through important work that they do. This is quite limitless.

  1. Network

Book conventions are a great place to network, because there unfortunately is truth to “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” However, I couldn’t afford to travel and go to conventions, and I know many writers have this same issue. So almost all the networking I did was online, and LinkedIn was especially useful. I would ask someone to link with me, and if they did, I’d send a brief and polite message thanking them, telling them a little about myself (a sentence or two will due) and saying I’d be interested in networking. Don’t just make it about you — help them, too. A lot of times I would help publicize work of theirs I admired for one of the places I wrote for, so it’s mutually beneficial. The best business, I believe, comes from helping one another.

  1. Have More Than One Project

I was writing full-time for MTV, freelancing for other publications and submitting a YA novel through my agent . . . when I sold my first book, which wasn’t the YA one. It was actually a book on manga, based on my background reviewing, reporting, adapting and editing manga. Sometimes the things that get you in the door are not the things you expect. Have an open mind and have some fun!

  1. Remember You Are Not Alone

Sometimes after getting rejection letters, it helped to hear from other writers experiencing the same thing. I worked toward being an author every day for years, without break, and it was often exhausting and demoralizing. Believing in yourself doesn’t mean you think everything you write is perfect and you can do no wrong, but it means you know you can make this work. Rejection is not a sign that it will always be rejection. The writers who get published as the ones who don’t give up and who keep bettering themselves, not the ones who get rejection letters.

  1. Love Writing

Because being a professional author can be such a challenge, always remember the number one thing: you want to be a writer because you love writing. Now get out there and show them what you’ve got!

Brian Klems, is a contribution writer and author, to Writer’s Digest

 

A Review of Paul Handover’s, Learning from Dogs

 

 

 

 

 

Visit Paul Handover at https://learningfromdogs.com



If you have ever read a book that made you cried because the story was so beautiful and heartfelt, well, this is one of those memorable stories that touches your heart. The love between a dog and his/her human being is one that is unique in the animal kingdom. Paul Handover writes of the special connection humankind has had over thousands of years, how it came to be, what it means for us, and what dogs have taught us. The author explores the nature of dogs, their innate abilities that perhaps have made humans better because of our connection with dogs. The author’s story teaches and tells us the incredible ways that dogs have made Homo Sapiens more human, more civilized. This book is about learning from dogs and as the author writes, “There is a cycle of love and death that shapes the lives of those who choose to travel in the company of dogs”. It is a breath-taking journey and I highly recommend, Paul Handover’s, Learning from Dogs!

A few insights from Paul Handover’s about dogs,  https://learningfromdogs.com/dogs-and-integrity/


Dogs And Integrity

Anyone who has owned a dog or got to know a dog well will have realised something fundamental.  The relationship that a dog has with humans is very special.  Just visit this article published on the 6th January, 2011 to get a taste of this relationship.

Old Drum – 1870

Anyway, I was speaking of how special is the relationship between dogs and humans.  Special in the sense that no other animal that commonly lives close to man creates such an intimate bond, although I expect horses come a close second.  Special in the sense that this bond goes back for tens of thousands of years, well into the mysteries of time.

Dogs are part of the Canidae, a family including wolves, coyotes and foxes, thought to have evolved 60 million years ago.  There is no hard evidence about when dogs and man came together but dogs were certainly around when man developed speech and set out from Africa, about 50,000 years ago.  See an interesting article by Dr. George Johnson.

Because of this closeness between dogs and man, we (as in man!) have the ability to observe the way they live.  Now I’m sure that scientists would cringe with the idea that the way that a dog lives his life sets an example for us humans, well cringe in the scientific sense.  But man seems to be at one of those defining stages in mankind’s evolution where the forces bearing down on the species homo sapiens have the potential to cause very great harm.  If the example of dogs can provide a beacon of hope, an incentive to change at a deep cultural level, then the quicker we ‘get the message’, the better it will be.

 

How to Proofread your Posts (or Novel)

The White Corner Creative at  https://www.whitecornercreative.com/

Though proofreading is something that a lot of people don’t think a lot about, it is one of the most vital parts of publishing a blog post. Writing and content is important, but it doesn’t mean anything if your readers can’t make it through your post because of errors. A while back I wrote a post HOW TO PROOFREAD YOUR POSTS BEFORE PUBLISHING because it’s very important to have a system in place so that proofreading every post is easy, and having a list of things to edit for will help.

Having a list is a great way to stay organized and create a strategy. You should build from my list and make one that applies to you – because everyone struggles with different elements of writing. Though you may be excellent at spelling or grammar, you might struggle with certain tenses or verbs, and you should put those specific examples on your list to make sure you always catch the mistakes. So, start with this list, and use it to create your own! Here’s what I’ve got so far – I’ll be adding things as I think of them over time!

Clichés

Clichés are the worst. They are as stinky as old cheese. They are just a waste of time. They are just gut wrenching. You see where I’m going with this, right? I wrote a post a little while ago – PRO WRITING: CLICHES – HOW TO AVOID THEM & WHY YOU NEED TO. If you’re not careful, clichés can really drag down a good post. Make sure to edit every post for them!

Tense

Though tense isn’t something many people think about, it can ruin a post if you let it. Tense means switching back and forth between present, past, future, etc. in your writing. Of course, switching around is okay if you’re talking about things that happened versus things that are going to happen, but most people do it all in one post that should be written in the same time-period. For more information about tense and how to do it right you can read my post PRO WRITING: HOW TO MAINTAIN YOUR TENSE.

Grammar

There are so many different grammar rules that you need to keep an eye out for when you are proofreading your posts. In my opinion, the most important ones are commas and apostrophes. When they are placed right, they help your writing make sense and go unnoticed, but when they are wrong they can break the flow and really tear your writing apart. I don’t have a post on grammar just yet – mostly because I need to figure out how to properly use commas myself (they are my weakness) but proofreading will help you catch the most obvious grammar mistakes.

Headline Grammar

You may or may not know this, but your headlines have their own grammar. The rules apply mostly to how you should capitalize them. There are certain words that you never capitalize, certain words you always should, and certain words that depend on where they are placed. For some details, you can check out my post HEADLINE GRAMMAR – HOW TO CAPITALIZE AND WHY YOU SHOULD, because headlines are a vital part of every post, and a grammar error there might warn people off before they even start reading.

Verbs

Verbs are the most powerful parts of every sentence. Front and center is where you want them in every sentence, and they should have true meaning. When I started out in school for professional writing, one of the exercises, we repeated over again and again, was to go through a piece and highlight every single verb. Then we would go through it again and make sure every one of those was as strong as it could be. Verbs can be weak in a few different ways. The first is when you haven’t chosen the right one. For example, why say ‘running fast’ when you could say ‘sprinting’. It cuts out a necessary word and has such a more powerful meaning. The second is when the verb you intend to use isn’t really the verb at all. If you say ‘I am writing for my readers’, ‘am’ is the verb, though you probably meant it to be ‘writing’. Instead change the sentence to ‘I write for my readers’. You can already tell how the sentence feels so much more powerful, and the meaning is truly what you intended.

Similar words

This one is something that a lot of people struggle with, and it’s something that really bothers a lot of people. When you use the wrong form or spelling of a word. There are hundreds of different examples of this, and everyone struggles with different ones. Some of the most common are:

they’re, there, their

right, write

its, it’s

two, too, to

then, than

You should make a list of the ones that you struggle with the most, and then make sure to edit for those on every post. Once you do this enough, using the right forms will be something automatic for you.

Spelling

Spelling is the first thing that people think of when they imagine proofreading, but it is only one small element in a long list of things to edit for. Most programs like Microsoft Word check your spelling as you write, and now WordPress even does it right in the post editor window. These are the spelling errors that are easy to catch because they are pointed out to you. But, you also need to proofread the post and check for spelling errors yourself, you can’t just rely on the built-in editor. This is because the editors are just checking that the words you type are real words spelt correctly, they don’t check that they make sense in the sentence or are the correct word. Read over a post yourself to see that all the words you meant to type ended up there.

Once you’ve built a list of things to edit for that’s custom tailored to you and the things you struggle with, print it off and use it every time you write and edit a post. Eventually you’ll start to catch fewer errors, and eventually you might overcome some of your writing problems altogether!

15 Ways to Earn Your Audience as a Writer

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writer’s Digest,  guest post is by Chuck Wendig. Wendig is the New York Times bestselling author of Star Wars: Aftermath, as well as the Miriam Black thrillers, the Atlanta Burns books, and the Heartland YA series, alongside other works across comics, games, film, and more. A finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer and the cowriter of the Emmy-nominated digital narrative Collapsus, he is also known for his popular blog, terribleminds.com, and his books about writing (including The Kick-Ass Writer). He lives in Pennsylvania with his family. http://www.writersdigest.com

  1. Swift Cellular Division

The days of writing One Single Thing every year and standing on that single thing as if it were a mighty marble pedestal are long gone. (And, if you ask me, have been gone for a lot longer than everybody says—unless, of course, you’re a bestselling author.) Nowadays, it pays to write a lot. Spackle shut the gaps in your resume. Bridge any chasm in your schedule. This doesn’t mean write badly. It doesn’t mean “churn out endless strings of talent-less sputum.” It just means to be generative. Always be writing.

  1. Painting With Shotguns

The power of creative diversity will serve you well. The audience doesn’t come to you. You go to the audience. “One book is less likely to find an audience than three?” Correction: “One book is less likely to find an audience than two books, a comic, a blog, a short story collection, various napkin doodles, a celebrity chef trading card set, and hip anonymous graffiti.” Joss Whedon didn’t just write Buffy. He wrote films. And comics. And a web-series. The guy is all over the map. Diversity in nature helps a species survive. So too will it help the tribe of storytellers survive.

  1. Sharing Is Caring

Make your work easy to share. This is triply true for newer storytellers: Don’t hide your work behind a wall. Make sure your work is widely available. Don’t make it difficult to pass around. I have little doubt that there’s a strategy wherein making your story a truly rare bird can serve you—scarcity suggests value and mystery, after all—but the smart play for creative types just setting out is to get your work into as many hands as possible with as little trouble as you can offer. This is true for veteran storytellers, too. Comedian Louis C.K. made it very easy to get his new comedy special on the web. And that served him well both financially and in terms of earning him a new audience while rewarding the existing audience.

  1. Value at Multiple Tiers

Your nascent audience doesn’t want to have to take out a home equity loan to try your untested work. If you’re a new author and your first book comes out and the e-book is $12.99, well, good luck to you. Now, that might not be in your control, so here’s what you do: Have multiple expressions of your awesomeness available at a variety of tiers. Have something free. Have something out there for a buck or three. Make sure folks can sample your work and still support you, should they choose to do so.

  1. Be You

The best audience isn’t just an audience that exists around a single work, but rather, an ecosystem that connects to the creator. The audience that hangs with a creator will follow said creator from work to work. That means who you are as a storyteller matters—this is not to suggest that you need to be the center of a cult of personality. Just be humble creator of many things. You’re the hub of your creative life, with spokes leading to many creative expressions rather than just one. Put yourself out there. And be you. Be authentic. Don’t just be a “creator.” You’re not a marketing mouthpiece. You’re a human. For all the good and the bad.

  1. Engagement and Interaction

Very simply: Talk to people. Social media—though I’m starting to hate that phrase and think we should call it something like the “digital conversation matrix”—is a great place in which to be you and interact with folks and be more than just a mouthpiece for your work. The audience wants to feel connected to you. Like with those freaky tentacular hair braids in Avatar. Get out there. Hang out. Be you. Interact. Engage.

  1. Head’s Up: Social Media Is Not Your Priority

Special attention must be paid: Social media is a side dish; it is not your main burrito. See #1 on this list.

  1. Hell With the Numbers

Just as I exhort you to be a human being, I suggest you look at all those with whom you interact on social media as people, too. They’re not resources. They’re not a number. They’re not “followers”—yes, fine, they might be called that, but (excepting a few camouflaged spam-bots) they’re people. Sure, as you gaze out over an audience, the heads and faces start to blur together like the subjects of a pointillist painting, but remember that the audience is made up of people. And people are really cool.

  1. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

An earnest plea to your existing audience to help you find and earn a new audience would not be remiss.

  1. Share Knowledge

As you learn things about the process, share them with others. Free exchange of information is awesome. Be open and honest. Be useful.

  1. Embrace Feedback

Reviews, critiques, commentary, conversation—feedback is good even when it’s bad. When it’s bad, all you have to do is ignore it. Or politely say, “I’ll consider that!” and in the privacy of your own home, shred the feedback with wanton disregard. When it’s good, it’s stellar and connects you all the more deeply to the audience. The audience is now a part of your feedback loop, like it or not.

  1. Do Set Boundaries

That feedback loop is not absolute. I’m not a strong believer in creative integrity as an indestructible, indefatigable “thing”—but, I recognize that being a single-minded creator requires some ego. Further, the reality is that once something is “out there”, it is what it is and there ain’t anything you can do about it. So you have to know when to turn off comments, back away from social media, or just set personal and unspoken boundaries for yourself.

  1. Don’t Wrestle Gators If You’re Not a Good Gator Wrestler

What I mean is, don’t try to be something you’re not. If you’re not good in public, don’t go out in public. If writing guest blogs is not your thing … well, maybe don’t write a guest blog. Again, this isn’t a list where you need to check off every box. These are just options. Avoid those that plunge you into a churning pool of discomfort. You don’t want to lose more audience than you earn.

  1. Take Your Time

Earning your audience won’t happen overnight. You don’t plant a single seed and expect to see a lush garden grown up by morning. This takes time, work, patience, and, y’know, earning the attention of other fine humans one set of eyeballs at a time. It’s why you put yourself out there again and again.

  1. Have Fun

Relax. Enjoy yourself. This isn’t supposed to be torture. You should have fun for two reasons: First, because people can sense when you’re just phoning it in, or worse, when you’re just moping. Second, because fun is fun. You should enjoy writing; enjoy putting your work out there.

10 Ways First-Time Writers Can Get Noticed on Social Media

Writer’s Digest, Emily Sweet, Guest Column, March 8, 2017

The changing literary and book publishing landscape makes it difficult for new authors to breakout. A plethora of new distribution formats, especially focused on self-publishing, opens brand new avenues for writers to get noticed, but also makes it incredibly easy to get lost in the sea of content. Unless you have a pre-existing social platform or public profile that extends beyond the world of books, “discoverability” can be a very elusive thing and it can be nearly impossible to get noticed on social media.

The changing literary and book publishing landscape makes it difficult for new authors to breakout. A plethora of new distribution formats, especially focused on self-publishing, opens brand new avenues for writers to get noticed, but also makes it incredibly easy to get lost in the sea of content. Unless you have a pre-existing social platform or public profile that extends beyond the world of books, “discoverability” can be a very elusive thing and it can be nearly impossible to get noticed on social media. That said, there are many ways first-time authors can leverage social media to build their online presence and gain momentum in their careers. Here are my top 10 insights:

  1. Choose the platform that works for you 

Are you Twitter or Instagram? Are you Snapchat or Pinterest? When first starting out, it can be tempting to sign up for every platform under the sun. And while it’s a good idea to at least reserve your handle (preventing someone else from taking it), you probably shouldn’t start posting away everywhere. What platform do you like and feels most instinctual to you? Do you want to share pithy quotes? Then choose Twitter. Are you out of storage space because of all the photos you’ve taken on your phone? Then choose Instagram. Do you have pages and pages of inspiration for your characters? Then put it all on Pinterest and invite your readers to find extra content there.

  1. Make all your social media handles consistent

This may seem intuitive, but it’s important. You want followers to easily find you. And, unfortunately, this can be more difficult than it seems as well, because some handles may already be taken. So, chose one where you can be consistent.

  1. Don’t use the same content across all platforms

It can be tempting to link all of your accounts together and post one thing at one time, but try to resist that temptation. Each social media platform has its own community and set of rules. For one thing, if people follow you on multiple platforms, they’re going to know that you’re just being lazy. And that concern aside, often certain things won’t translate across platforms (tagging, for example, is hard to do when platforms are linked). But most importantly, each platform should have its own voice, which should be developed and honed.

  1. Develop a strong voice

Your content should reflect who you are as a writer. Share ideas and insights that distinguish you from other authors and public figures. Always remember who you’re talking to – your audience and who they consist of – and think about your “brand” (see number 6 for more on branding).

  1. Post consistently

Post consistently and often. At this point, most platforms reward you for activity, i.e., there are algorithms that will naturally boost more popular posts, but consistency helps as well. It will also encourage people to follow and engage with you.

  1. Focus on your brand, but don’t fall into the “ABS” (Always Be Selling) trap

Social media is a chance to get to know and really engage with your readers. If they like your writing, they’ll want to know when your book is coming out… but they want to engage in different ways too. No one likes being asked to buy something every time they see you.

  1. Interact with your followers to get noticed on social media

Don’t forget to go back and comment on comments. This is the whole benefit of social media! You can talk to your followers in real time and build a relationship with them.

  1. Interact with other authors

Authors can be a hugely supportive community. Just as you would reach out to other authors for blurbs, reach out and engage on social media as well.

  1. Make sure all your posts are tagged

Hashtags help drive engagement and help grow your fan base. Tagging helps lead people back to your page that may not have otherwise seen it.

  1. Be careful

It’ seasy to forget that you’re becoming a public figure if you’ve spent most of your life being private. But now simple posts are subject to scrutiny, so just watch your intention and tone. You don’t want something taken out of context, or to turn people off from your writing. All publicity is definitely NOT good publicity.

Emily Sweet is the Executive Director of Brand Development and Client Initiatives at Park Literary & Media. Among other things, she advises PLM clients on how to find their voice on social media, create an online presence, and develop a consistent brand strategy. She’s a former lawyer who now works with Nicholas Sparks, Emily Giffin, Debbie Macomber, Janice Y.K. Lee, Taylor Jenkins Reid, and many others.

For more information on Park Literary & Media, as well as the authors they represent, visit parkliterary.com or find them @parkliterarymedia on Instagram and @parkliterary on Twitter.

Deciphering Book Descriptions

Fresh Eggs

 

 

 

I am reblogging this post for good reason. I am reading books, lately, that don’t seem to have cogent descriptions and left me wondering: what’s it all about?

How interesting and telling are most book descriptions?  Most are not at all. Maybe there should be professional book description writers.  Reading a book description should not be a word puzzle to try and figure it out. It can be daunting to write your own book description, especially if one is so subjective, the premise can be lost entirely. It is  better to have a Beta Reader or a Reviewer with a successful blog write a book description, if the author is having problems pinning down a short description that actually describes.  On WordPress, there are many experienced and talented reviewers and beta readers.

Here is a book description that does not describe the content of said novel : Fresh Eggs – a novel by Rob Levandoski. 

“Calvin Cassowary is ready to do whatever it takes to keep Cassowary Farm in the family for one more generation. Hatching a scheme to specialize in chickens, soon he’s got a million hens laying eggs for Gallinipper Foods, b…ut he’s getting deeper and deeper into debt. To make matters worse, his chicken-loving daughter Rhea starts growing feathers. Filled with as many tears and chuckles, Rob Levandoski’s Fresh Eggs is a provocative father/daughter tale guaranteed to make you ponder the realities of modern farming and think twice the next time someone asks, “white or dark meat?”

What we know about this book:  All we know so far is that raising and selling chickens will get you into debt and chicken farm daughters tend to grow feathers.  So far, so what.  Who sheds tears and why is the owner chuckling? After all, I can’t think of anything worse things than to have a child grow feathers.  Pondering the realities of modern farming?

 

EVIL SPEAKS – An Interview With Author S. Woffington

evil-speaks-34403446INTERVIEW WITH SANDRA WOFFINGTON, author of Evil Speaks, book #1 in the Warriors and Watchers Saga, an epic mythological fantasy series released February 2017

Early reviews:

“Be prepared to be engrossed! Between the awesome fight scenes, in-depth characters, and all the creatures, your son or daughter won’t want to put this book down! . . .remarkable job entwining Greek Mythology, Greek History, and these modern-day teenage misfits. . .the author incorporates characters with different abilities. She helps break down stereotypes that often plague special children.”

Courtney Barnum, Kelly’s Thoughts on Things blog

“In my last years at Harcourt, I can’t remember reading one single fantasy MG or YA that was half as interesting as the world you have created…. So brilliant! Between the fight scenes and the stories and people and creatures…, it was truly a roller-coaster adventure.”

Editor, Evil Speaks

What is Evil Speaks about?

The lords of the underworld have joined forces to open the ancient gates of evil. Seven teens must stop the gates from opening: Kami is deaf, Amir is blind, Zuma is overweight, Layla is gorgeous but lazy, Chaz is in a wheelchair, Benny is a loner, and Raj is as angry as the purple dagger-shaped birthmark running down the side of her face. They are quirky teens who must become warriors. But they can barely save themselves.

What made you put special needs characters in this series?

It wasn’t intentional so much as these characters appeared to me from all of my interactions with special needs individuals over the years—they inspire me. My website has stories of RL Warriors (Real Life). I wrote these characters into a screenplay around 2002, but I set that aside to work on my novel Unveiling. When I went back to it, the story had evolved into an epic mythological fantasy. I always wanted these characters to be superheroes. Clark Kent has flaws; he’s a bit of a bumbler, but as Superman, he is confident, can fly and has superpowers. In Evil Speaks, Amir is blind and vain about his looks but in the underworld, he has super vision; Kami is deaf but she gains super hearing, and Chaz is in a wheelchair but he can walk in the underworld. If regular people like Clark Kent can become superheroes, so can children with challenges. As in life, each character must also grapple with his or her personal problems. Layla, for instance, is gorgeous but insecure. She has low self-esteem; she feels her beauty is her only asset and she didn’t work for that.

How long did it take you to write Evil Speaks?

I will answer that by saying my first novel Unveiling took years. It was historical and multicultural and required massive research. I also gutted it twice to change directions. In hindsight, this seemed like a waste of time. With Evil Speaks, I sat down and came up with a repeatable plan, using the 8-essential plot points and 3-act structure. I worked on character development before anything else. Then I filled in my plot-planner scene by scene. It was a lot like writing the bones of a screenplay. I like to write full days, not piecemeal. I set a goal to crank out the first draft over summer vacation. When I sat down to write, it flowed easily from scene to scene, changed at times, bust stayed on course. I knocked it out in ten weeks. The revisions took months longer, and I ultimately added a chapter. You can find a section titled “Writing Lessons” on my editor’s website at SWoffington.com, where I lay out the system point by point for others. Start with “Writing Lessons: Introduction” under Recent Posts or pick a topic from the list.

What do you like best about the fantasy genre?

You can go anywhere, do anything! You can create entire universes (or underworlds) full of crazy characters and locations. History (or mythology) always comes into play for me. It’s clearly just part of who I am as a writer, as are international settings. Evil Speaks is an international quest.

You work as a developmental editor as well. What mistakes do you see most often?

I love helping authors hone their fiction or improve their techniques. Every author I’ve worked with has strengths and weaknesses: maybe the dialogue is strong but the descriptions and details are weak; or the descriptions are amazing but the dialogue is stilted or it does not fit the character or all characters sound alike. Two basic concepts are critical to every manuscript: 1) avoid passive verbs (every page must have strong active verbs), and  2) “show” don’t tell, meaning write a scene and let me see the glistening sweat dripping down the side of someone’s face, plopping onto the contract and wicking the freshly penned signature into a  fuzzy black Rorschach image; don’t say “He was sweating as he signed the contract” (this is also passive).

You advocate inclusion on the WarriorsandWatchersSaga.com website—can you tell me about that?

Since writing Evil Speaks, I’ve learned that special needs children are bullied five times more often than other children. I’m shocked by this. I put tips for education, intervention and inclusion on my site for parents and educators. I’m using Deer Valley’s “Disability Awareness Activity Packet” in the classroom. Prevention starts with education. Along with that, every parent, educator or librarian should ensure our children read literature with special needs characters. Books create closeness to characters, and that creates empathy in the reader. Empathy can enable children and adults to leap past the page to make friends with special needs individuals and include them in society.

You’re working with a publicity company for the launch of Evil Speaks. What has been your experience with this?

I love it! I interviewed many companies. One company would have worked to increase my on-line presence alone for $500/month, but I wanted more. I chose Smith Publicity, because they have a long track record of working with authors. They helped me design a campaign to fit my budget. I decided to make the investment, because I’m writing a 7-novel series. It seemed prudent to get the word out on book one. The publicist sends review requests to book bloggers, sends out requests for author interviews for radio or television, sends out press releases, lines up book signings, and more. I wanted a team approach, and that’s what I received. I’m very happy with my publicist Katie. She works as hard for me as I do for myself. The Smith Publicity website is packed with media tips for authors, such as “101 Book Marketing Ideas to Promote Your Book.” In short, do your homework, have realistic expectations, and stick to your budget.

Brief Bio:

  1. Woffington is a California native, whose thirst for adventure began when reading1001 Arabian Nightstales as a child. In her twenties, she lived in Saudi Arabia and England, spent months in Italy, and traveled extensively. After completing UC Irvine’s Humanities Honors Program, she earned dual Master’s in English and Creative Writing from Chapman University. Her stay in Saudi Arabia inspired her debut novel Unveiling, which won Honorable Mention from Writer’s Digest SP e-book awards. Woffington teaches middle grade students at a Montessori school. During Summers, off, she writes fiction and works as a freelance developmental editor.