Are you a Part-Time Writer Looking for Inspiration for 2014? You’ve Come to the ‘Write’ Place!

I’m starting of the year with a guest post from Nikolas Baron, from Grammarly.com. Have you heard of them? It’s a great site for writer’s who need help proofreading their work. From blog posts to essays, they’ve got the tools you need! But first, get inspired to start 2014 off the ‘write’ way!

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The Part-Time Writer

part_time_writerBeing a writer is, for many, a lifelong dream. Writing for payment is a thrilling accomplishment, but it’s usually soon followed by the realization that most writers do not make a living from writing alone. In fact, many writers pursue a separate, unrelated career while writing part-time, whether as a hobby or as a secondary source of income. For the part-time writer facing deadlines, a quality online spelling, grammar, and plagiarism checker can be a valuable tool. Saving time is just one aspect of creating success as a writer, however. Writing takes dedication, patience, and a willingness to learn the craft.

Being a writer is an admirable goal, but it’s not a realistic one. How does one become “a writer”? There is no pill, no bottled potion to be ingested, that will magically bring about the transformation. Becoming a writer begins with picking up a pen; but, having taken that first crucial step, the aspiring writer will discover that the journey has just begun. First, the writer must decide what type of writing he or she wants to do. Fiction or nonfiction? Short stories?

Articles? Novels? Each type of writing requires a unique skill set, and there is a distinct path to follow to the individual definition of success for every writer. It’s important to study the craft and read within and outside the genre to become a well-rounded reader and a better writer. Wanting to be a writer isn’t enough. It’s important to decide upon a genre and a style that best suits the writer’s individual dream. Becoming a writer is a dream. Transforming an abstract desire into a concrete success takes deeper thought.

Once the budding writer has decided upon writing mystery novels, for example, the next step is to set some goals. Novices may want to keep the goals reasonable, setting themselves to the task of writing for a set amount of time per day or obtaining a certain word count, depending on the time that can be found in between other obligations. Some professionals suggest that writing every day is critical to success, while others claim that a certain amount of time must be invested. The truth is somewhere in the middle. Time and discipline are important, but the definition of success is an individual one that only the writers themselves can create. Goals create personal milestones, giving the writer a measuring stick against which to check progress. Setting the goals is entirely up to the writers themselves.

Time can be a precious commodity in our fast-paced world. Between work, family obligations, hobbies, volunteer work, and other commitments, the idea of finding time to write might seem out of reach. However, it can be done. It may be necessary to write out a simple schedule, noting work, family obligations, and other time constraints, and then consider the blocks of time that are not already committed to other pursuits. Television viewing might have to be sacrificed. Getting up a little earlier in the morning, for a morning person, or staying up a little later in the evening, for a night owl, might be an option as well. Moreover, a shorter lunch break might provide some time to indulge the muse.

Time, however, is not always the only consideration. Many writers need to “warm up” to the page, to shift gears from their day jobs into the mental work of writing. It is necessary not only to find time to scribble a few words on a page but also to find long enough blocks of uninterrupted time suitable for writing. Indeed, protecting the quality of one’s writing time is as important as finding time to write in the first place. If writing is not a priority and if the commitment is not as firm as the Saturday-morning golf game or the monthly martini lunch with the girls, it will never get off the ground.Marjorie Facklam, author of numerous children’s books, began writing while raising her five children, with several still in diapers. If a harried mother of five can find time to research and write rhyming science picture books like Bugs for Lunch while chasing toddlers and maintaining a household, any writer can find time in their schedule. Often, the question isn’t one of time, but of commitment.

Connect with  Nikolas Baron on Google+      Plagiarism Checker

nick-Grammerly Guest posterAbout the Author:

Nikolas discovered his love for the written word in Elementary School, where he started spending his afternoons sprawled across the living room floor devouring one Marc Brown childrens’ novel after the other and writing short stories about daring pirate adventures. After acquiring some experience in various marketing, business development, and hiring roles at internet startups in a few different countries, he decided to re-unite his professional life with his childhood passions by joining Grammarly’s marketing team in San Francisco. He has the pleasure of being tasked with talking to writers, bloggers, teachers, and others about how they use Grammarly’s online proofreading application to improve their writing. His free time is spent biking, travelling, and reading.

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!  If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter and follow this blog!

MJ

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A Fun Way to Learn How to Write From the Male and Female POV and Perspective- Part 1

Before reading any further, take the next three minutes to watch this video. Get your laugh on, then watch it again and get your learn on. Not only will you be entertained, you’re going to learn something new because afterwards, I’m going to break it down!

DATE NIGHT! -THE VIDEO

(Video via Facebook share)

Hilarious, right? It’s the typical men see things differently than women story of a date through the eyes of two very different couples. The difference? The back story. Knowing what each character is going through before, during, and after a scene helps you, the author, know what experiences should be included in a scene and how to present them.

Remember those pesky and time consuming character outlines I’m always referring to? Well, here is how they work for the characters in this short video.

THE BREAK DOWN:

COUPLE A:

HER POV: The Date SUCKED!

Woman A was looking forward to a romantic interlude. She did her hair and make-up, took the time to prepare a meal, and set the table. She expected her date to arrive looking nice, probably bearing a vase of flowers, and taking the time to appreciate her appearance and the meal. Next would have come some small talk, flirting, and no doubt, some personal fun time.

What did she get?

A quick hug, no compliments on her appearance or the meal. Instead he made a beeline for the food, woofed it down without any conversation besides grunts that seemed to ruin her appetite. And when it came to fun time…well, let’s just say Mr. Happy was there and back again in less than 3 seconds, or as she said, before she could unhook the back her dress. And to top it all off, he finds his way to her bed and passes out from what has to be over eating and rapid blood loss to the brain.

His POV: IT was AMAZING!

Man A wanted exactly what he got: A good looking woman who cooked for him (free food), had nothing to say, and stood there long enough for him to get his rocks off. Oh yeah, let’s not forget the comfy bed. In his eyes, major score!! And he got to leave with his needs satisfied in time to watch the big game at home without interruption.

 

COUPLE B:

HER POV: Most ROMANTIC DATE EVER!

Everything about the evening was different than being with any other man. First, he paid for a cab. Dinner was an amazing experience. After, instead of hailing a cab, they took the scenic route, walking along, holding hands, and experiencing the night life from another point of view. At his place, the romance continued with lit candles to set the mood, a very intense love making session that lasted longer than anything she’d ever experienced. And the best part, he didn’t pass out when they were done. They lay there wrapped in each other’s arms and talked all night.

In a nutshell, everything was magical and perfect, just what a girl could ever want.

 His POV: EPIC FAIL!!!!

It’s been a long day full of one frustrating event after another. Failure to pay his light bill lead to to spend money taking her out instead of having her come over. After paying for a cab, dinner was so expensive he could no longer afford a taxi cab home. He plays off the whole broke thing by suggesting they ‘sight see’ and walk to his place, (is this chick gullible or what???). No electricity leaves him improvising again with candles. Frustrated by the series of mind numbing fails, he has too much pride to say let’s call it an evening and tires to play it off by ‘making love’ when what he’s really doing is stalling for time to work himself up for that magic moment. By the end of it all, he doesn’t feel like finishing the act, but he’s literally ‘in the game’ and has to figure out how to play it off, because hey, Ms. Gullible is having the time of her life. Again, frustrated, pissed off, and ready for it all to be over, he can’t sleep which means he has no choice but to be subjected to Ms. Chatty Cathy.

This date sucked so much he probably would refuse to see her ever again.

Pad of Paper & Pen

 

 

 

Now, how does all of this tie into writing?

First, let’s review the definitions of Point of View and Perspective:

 

 

 

 

 

POINT OF VIEW: The position of the narrator in relation to the story, as indicated by the narrator’s outlook from which the events are depicted and by the attitude toward the characters

PERSPECTIVE: the state of one’s ideas, the facts known to one, etc., in having a meaningful interrelationship

(Definitions via dictionary.com)

DETERMINING USE OF POINT OF VIEW:

When telling a story, you must know which character’s voice you want the readers to experience. If the entire story is being written from one character’s POV, then it’s simple. Everything that happens comes from them. If your story is being told from more than one character’s POV, then you must decide how much of is being told and from who’s POV. This can be done in several ways:

  • An entire scene or chapter is told in one character’s POV
  • A scene or chapter is told in split POV’s
  • A section, or portion (meaning more than a few chapters in a row or Part 1, Part 2, etc. of the manuscript) are told from various characters’ POV

Knowing the story your telling (story line) and what your characters experience and how those experiences will affect their decision making (back story) determines who’s POV is shared at certain points. The character’s reactions to their environment and scenarios they face will be based on that back story.

Of the four characters portrayed in the video, the best example would be Man B from the second couple. An unfortunate event (failure to pay his light bill) led to changing his date night plans (paying for cab, expensive dinner, walking home, candle light sex, aggravation to the point of failure to perform for an extended point of time, and sleeplessness). Lack of electricity set off a catalyst of events that when told from his point of view, led to the date from hell. His POV was much more entertaining than Woman B who saw things from a fairytale perspective.

Now, how does perspective come into play?

Come back tomorrow where I’ll break down that portion of the video, as well as share a scene from my bestselling novel, A Heart Not Easily Broken, where I demonstrate the use of perspective from three characters POV in one scene. Until then, Happy Writing!!!

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!  If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter by following this blog!

MJ

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This Writer’s Life…Update!!!

As an author, I must say, the past few weeks have been amazing and unbelievably busy! I remember a month ago looking at my calendar and stressing trying to figure out how to manage it all without running around like a chicken with my head cut off. Did I succeed?

Well….it all got done, and successfully I might add, but I couldn’t avoid the headless chicken! 🙂

So, what happened? Oh where to begin….

IMG_0695[1]The month of July was spent doing another world wind blog hop promotions tour for my first novel, A Heart Not Easily Broken, which is nearing its first publishing birthday next month! Can you believe it? It’s almost been a year since words that I wrote were published and shared with the world! And to this day, it is still on and off of the Amazon Bestsellers list after staying there and holding it’s own for six months straight!  I am happy to have written a story that not only entertains, it captures readers emotions and leaves them wanting more! Believe me, it was not an easy feat!

I also had the privilege of hosting a Writer’s Workshop at my local library where I shared my experiences and tips on how to handle the query process without losing your mind. I got great feedback from that workshop. I also wrote a blog about it to share with those of you who were unable to attend. You’ll find it here: A Guide to Landing a Publishing Contract the ‘Write’ Way.  Be sure to read the entire post and take advantage of the downloadable handouts attached to the blog.

I also had a lot of fun with several groups I am affiliated with on Facebook! This is the part that makes writing worth the hard work! First, there was the W.R.S.R.G. (Writer’s Review and Support Resource Group) book chat which gave readers and fellow authors a chance to get to know more about me, the author. I was able to share my experiences and go into depth about why I write and what inspired The Butterfly Memoirs series, as well as offer some of my favorite writing tips.

Next came hanging out with my friends on the B.R.A.B. (Building Relationships around Books). This is a fabulous group or readers and authors. I got ‘called out’ to participate in an Author DJ Book Battle. Crazy right? But a ton of fun! I went head to head with author Loretta R. Wells as we shared songs that either inspired our book or best represented the story or characters. The twist? We didn’t get to decide which book was used and the songs had to be at least ten years old. Talk about a mental work out! I’m happy to report I won! 🙂

***And here’s something that made my year: I have been selected as a finalist in the B.R.A.B. Book Awards in the categories of Best New Author and Breakout Author! I am honored to have been nominated with the other talented people in the categories. I’d love to have your support! To cast your vote, visit this link to see the nomination form, then email it in! I’ll report back once the winners have been announced!***

The biggest event of my writing career happened last week when I was featured by the lovely organization, The Virtuous Women. LLC, as they hosted their first annual Author Workshop that was co-hosted by Barnes & Noble. It was a wonderful experience, and I had the opportunity to meet such talented and record setting authors within the community. People such as Coach William “Buck” Godfrey, who not only has an outstanding career as a football coach with an amazing championship record, he’s also assisted many of his players to see their dream of attending college and playing for the NFL. He also has a a Masters in English and has published three books. To learn more about him, visit this link where you can find more information about his career. 

I also meet Mr. Coleman R. Seward. Mr. Seward is a Chemist who worked for the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and has received the highest award that position can achieve: the FDA Award of Merit. He has published over thirty scientific papers in leading national and international journals. His book, The Chemistry of Change and Growth is his memoir.

So, what is next for M.J. Kane?

A LOT!

I’m currently working on the third novel in The Butterfly Memoirs, Lonely Heart,  and will be announcing the publishing date in the next few months, so, stay tuned! I also have a few projects I’m holding close to the chest, but the moment I’m ready to share, believe me, your going to love it!

If your not already, be sure to follow my blog so you can get on my monthly newsletter email list. If you want updates on what’s happening with me or to be in line for private contest only to be offered to my newsletter followers, SIGN UP TODAY!!!  Also, if your a lover of all things social networking, I am now on Pinterest and Instagram!

Pinterest: There are four boards to chose from. There are quick links to current blog post as well as seeing what books I like or am reading. My favorite board of course is the one dedicated to The Butterfly Memoirs. Ever wondered how I ‘see’ Brian and Ebony, Yasmine and Zach, and Kaitlyn? Stop by and check it out!

Instagram: While I write the memoirs of my characters, I figured it would be fun to share my own pictorial memoir. Get instant updates of what is going on in M.J.’s World when I’m not writing, or when I am. Here’s your chance to get inside of MY head! Have fun!

Well, that’s it for now! I’ve got WORK TO DO!!!! Time is of the essence because the kids are back in school and my schedule is now written around drop offs and pick ups, making sure homework is done, and getting dinner cooked on time. So much for the days of lazy summer!

Now, if would only stop raining I would be so darn sleepy! 🙂

Happy Writing and Reading!

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!  If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter by following this blog!

MJ

About Me     Twitter     Facebook    Pinterest     Instagram  Google+      Goodreads     Linkedin     Email

Book Reviews: The Good, the Bad, and the WTH???

Attractive Woman with Her Books

Book reviews. Every author wants them. Every author fears them. They can be the shining star used to promote your work, or the one thing holding readers back from deciding to one-click and add to their growing collection. Over the last week, both of my books have received reviews: a 3, a 4 and a 5 Star review, and each has seen the dreaded 1 and 2 Star reviews. Each reviewer has had something different to say and it made me think…

What good can a review do for the author? How can you read through the lines? And when do you ignore them?

The first rule to any book review is: everyone is entitled to their opinion.

Easier said than done sometimes, right?

The fact of the matter is, no matter how well your book is written, no matter how clean you edits are, or how many people sing your books praises, somebody out there is going to hate it.

What’s that old saying, “You can’t please everybody?” No truer words have been spoken.

Above all things you must remember readers have different taste, like different types of storytelling, or crave a certain type of drama, fantasy, or escape from reality. If your book doesn’t hit the mark for them, chances are they will not like it. A good example of this is the romance genre. There are many ‘heat’ levels out there. Everything from Hard core BDSM, to the tame ‘bedroom door shuts in your face’, and where I fall, somewhere in between…not erotica, but definitely erotic. (I recently had a reader tell me my scenes made her blush, lol, and they are in no way close to what makes me blush!)

The flip side to this is if your book is intentionally written to draw on a readers emotions – depending on their personality type – they may dislike your characters because they cannot or do not sympathize with your characters decisions. They get so upset they are personally offended or pissed off and no longer read the full story.  They base their opinions on the characters actions and what they feel should have happened, thus the bad review.

As an author, what can you take from this?

For starters, learn to read between the lines. Once the emotional sting is gone and the tears have dried, or you stop using the ‘f’ word, whichever comes first, try to decipher what the reader is trying to say. Did they dislike the character, the plot, or the writing? Was the character unrealistic or did the decisions they make just piss them off? As the author, only you know what motivates your characters and what emotions you want to draw from the reader. So the questions you must ask yourself are:

  • Did I do too much or too little?
  • Was enough back ground information given?
  • Was the scene or reason behind the decisions made explained clearly?
  • Were questions/goals asked, defined, and reached?
  • Were there enough unanswered questions to keep the reader interested without boring them?
  • How well thought out was the plot?
  • Are there gaps in the story that leave the plot line open?
  • Was a resolution found and satisfying?
  • What about the pacing? Too fast, too slow, or just plain boring? (you’ll know the answer to this if a majority of your reviews say the same thing)
  • What can I take from this review to make my next project better?

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Some characters are meant to piss people off, but you want your main characters to pull the reader in, keep their attention and have them rooting for them to reach their goal. One of the most important things to remember, no matter what genre you write, pleasing the masses (lovers of your genre) is the key, not the people who don’t or won’t agree.  In other words, if you write Sci-Fi Erotica, don’t expect a Historical Romance lover to go crazy about your book. That’s not to say readers won’t cross over to different genres, but some are more comfortable with what they know.
  • If your book is getting an influx of negative reviews, pay attention to the market your promoting to. If book lovers of your genre continue to say the same thing, you may need to step back, re-evaluate your style of writing, learn more about storyline structure, and find honest beta readers or a writing group to help you find out what went wrong. Revamp, rewrite, try again!
  • Like TV shows and movies, there are various book genres that have a different style of pacing. Some readers want the satisfaction of a full ride that has them hanging on from the beginning to the end with no breaks. (Think roller coaster ride, 0-60 in 2 seconds). They want if fast, hard, and with a sudden stop. Other readers like the slow walk on the beach, long conversations, the romance, staring off at the sunset, and a satisfactory ending. And then there’s the in-between reader who likes the road trip. They want to leave the house doing the city speed limit, but when they hit the highway, they cruise with the traffic, enjoying the twists and turns and the fast pace. They like to visit the rest stop and stretch their legs before merging with the flow of traffic again. A well written story has the mixed pace of fast, slow, and cruise control to keep the ride interesting.

What does all of this mean?

As writers, we know what our comfort zone is when it comes to telling our stories. We know what our intentions are and what we want our character to see, think, and feel. We view our work as our babies and it’s often hard to put down the laptop and share it with the world. Will we ever be able to win over the masses? No, because there are too many genres which means readers what different things. If your book doesn’t deliver for them, chances are it’s not your story, but your style of writing or vice versa. Either way, don’t let a bad review get you down. See it as a learning tool. If you can find room for improvement, make it! If it’s more of a personal issue for the reviewer, ignore it and move on! In the end, YOU, the writer, know how much time, effort, and work you put in to make your ideas hit paper. Don’t let the negative stop you! As a good friend and fellow author says, ‘you have to put on your big girl panties and get over it!’ – Carmen DeSousa

Guest Post: A Quick Trip into Chaos: My Writing Experience

 Aspiring Authors: at times you may feel down, unsure of what your supposed to do with your writing. Fear not! We’ve all been there! Today, author Catherine Stovall stops by to share her journey to publication! Thanks, Catherine! 

I am not one of those authors who have been writing novels ten or twenty years. In fact, I started just about two and a half years ago. About two weeks after my 30th birthday, I decided that I wanted to write a novel. Inspired by the onslaught of cuddly paranormal creatures, I wanted to supply teens and young adults, much like my own, with novels that embraced the darker side of things.

The writing went quickly and before I knew it, Stolen was born. I worked hard to proofread, edit, and perfect my manuscript. Before I knew it, I was down to the BIG question. I had to choose what to do with my book. I was unsure whether I wanted to self-publish, try for an agent, attempt the traditional route, or choose a small press.

Self-publishing wasn’t for me. I admire those brave souls who put on their entrepreneur hats and storm into the world of publishing and I have since published a short story on my own, but at the time, I knew I wasn’t ready for that. I needed more guidance, more direction, and the help of someone who positively knew how to do what I didn’t.

The guidelines for the well-known print publishers, terrified me. Most print publishers do not accept unsolicited manuscripts from writers, only those with agents. Agents do not generally accept authors who have not previously been professionally published. Not to mention, most publishers and agents accept very few projects a year. I found myself in a conundrum. To proceed or not to proceed, that was my question.

That’s when I tripped my way around the internet and discovered small presses. I knew this was the path for me as a new author. Everything I was looking for was there. Here were companies who welcomed unsolicited manuscripts without an agent, provided professional editing, and offered very competitive royalty rates. When I learned that I could have a bigger say in the entire process by using signing with a small publisher than I would with the larger publishers, I dove in.

Sixteen letters went out. In a matter of weeks, I received several polite no thank you letters, one letter that not so politely told me not to give up my day job, and two letters saying yes. Stolen: Requiem of Humanity Series: Book One was released just twelve days before my thirty-first birthday. In less than a year, I had become a real author.

Through 2012, I continued to work hard, prepping my next releases. I self-published a short story, Fearful Day, in June of 2012. In addition to Fearful Day, Reborn: Requiem of Humanity: Book Two released in December of 2012 through the same small publisher as Stolen. I also started working on many new novels and shorts, one of which is my brand new release, Faire Eve. I was very happy with how things were going, and though I wasn’t wildly successful, I received letters and post from fans who were cheering me on.

Here, we come to the part of the story that is the here and now. So far, 2013 has been a fabulous year. I have been blessed enough to meet, and be signed with, the fabulous Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing. Faire Eve is my first release of the year but far from my last. I have also signed a short story to CHBB’s sister company, Vamptisy. You will be able to grab a copy of my short story, Bloody Freedom in the Broken Mirrors, Fractured Minds anthology in August. In addition to these, I have a few full lengths and shorts that are currently in negotiations. Hopefully, 2013 will be the best year yet for me and my fans.

All in all, my experience has been amazing. There have been ups and downs. Rejections hurt, reviews are nerve wracking, and the hurrying up to wait part of the business is intolerable. Yet, I love what I do. I have had a gentle ride into the chaos that is an author’s world. The trip has been fun and I am looking forward to the rest of the journey.

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Faire Eve Cover

Under the watchful eye of her over protective mother, Eve grew up in a world without magic and fancy. She never cared about riding a unicorn, dancing at balls or being a princess. Now, all the things she never desired are hers and every other girl’s dream is her nightmare”

The Sidhe ruled over fairy magic from the twilight city, Trig Na nOg, until a beast cast a dark spell to send them into a death-like sleep. In an attempt to reap revenge on the fairy people, Tiritchiq hunts Eve and her entourage as they campaign to place the halfling princess on the throne.

In order to save the world of Evalon and a family she has never known, Eve travels through dimensions, crosses dangerous landscapes, and learns to accept the Sidhe blood within. With the moody and handsome Daione Warrior Eldon by her side, she must embrace the darkness inside of her and face down a powerful foe.

 Amazon     Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing

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About the Author:

Catherine Stovall is the author of Faire Eve, The Requiem of Humanity Series, Fearful Day, Sweet Sally Slasher, and Bloody Freedom. Stovall is a member of the International Thriller Writers and the creator of International Bug Your Library Day, an operation to spread awareness for Indie and Small Press Authors.

Catherine is a fearless creature who surrounds herself with the joys of life both in and out of her fictional worlds. She lives in Southeast Missouri with her husband, three children, and pets. When not writing, she spends her time riding motorcycles, wearing elaborate hats, and genuinely enjoying the oddities in life.

Facebook      Website      Twitter

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!

MJ

About Me     Twitter     Facebook     Google+      Goodreads     Linkedin     Email

MJ on Writing: Viewpoint Tips and Tricks

WritingOne of the first things I learned about writing was the correct way to write a scene. After years of reading I had become accustom to what is known as ‘head hopping’. For those who may not be aware of what that is, ‘head hopping’ is where two characters point of views are shared in the same scene. This is not to be confused with conversation. I am referring to the scene starting with the heroine’s POV and then in mid scene, it switches to the hero’s POV, and back again or to another character without a change in the scene or start of a new chapter. Sound confusing? Imagine how it feels to a reader!

That style of writing is no longer accepted in manuscripts today, unless of course your one of the old school authors who were allowed to do it years ago. Chances are they haven’t been forced to change. In fact, I know they haven’t. One of my favorite romance authors who have been around for years still does it in every new book. But for the new author, agents and publishers are looking for a more polished style of writing, starting with characters whose POV’s are the only one featured in a chapter. Even if you plan to self-publish, taking these extra steps to polish your writing will make your work stand apart from the rest!

So how do you make this happen? Here are a few tips and tricks to make sure you stay in one viewpoint from the beginning to end or your scene! (I write in 1st Person POV, so I will write these examples in both 1st and 3rd POV when needed.)

Make sure your reader knows who is speaking.

The easiest way to have this done is by having them addressed by name by another character in the scene. Doing this in the first few lines of the chapter will let your reader know who’s speaking:

Example:

(1st Person)

“Hey, Sara, how are you doing today?” my brother asked.

“Things could be better.” I grimaced while holding my stomach.

Or

(3rd Person)

“Hey, Sara, how are you doing today?” John asked.

“Things could be better,” she said while holding her stomach.

As mentioned above, NO HEAD HOPPING!

Doing so destroys the tension your building by staying in one character head. You know the saying, ‘the right hand can’t know what the left is doing?’ When sticking in one POV, it’s the same way. If Phil has a secret that he is trying to hide from Bob, his actions and what he says should say that to the reader, but the reader can’t know that Bob already knows that Phil is guilty.

Example:

Correct:

Phil’s eyes darted from side to side in an effort to keep from looking Bob in the eye. There was no way he would admit to eating the last slice of grandma’s apple pie. He tried his best to ignore Bob when he asked another question, and continued to stare out the kitchen window.

Incorrect:

Phil’s eyes darted from side to side in an effort to keep from looking Bob in the eye. There was no way he would admit to eating the last slice of grandma’s apple pie.

Bob knew Phil was guilty, because he refused to look at him. It didn’t matter if he answered his question or not. He was going to tell grandma.

Phil knows he’s guilty, but tries his best to hide it. If we are only in his POV, he can’t know what Bob is thinking, only assume, or in this case ignore Bob all together. What he thinks Bob knows or doesn’t know is not important. You only want to share Bob’s thoughts if/when his POV is addressed in another chapter.

Describing your character from their POV.

Every now and then it’s necessary for a character to tell the reader what they look like, what they are wearing, or describe their expressions. You have to be careful their voice does not slip into the voice of another character that may be looking at them. Try some of these tricks:

  • Have your character stand in front of a mirror and talk about what they see, but don’t be technical (and it should be relevant to the scene!)
  • Use feelings and descriptions to guide your reader into visualizing what the character is trying to say about themselves.
  • Quote another character’s thoughts about their appearance.

Example: Here’s how my character, Ebony Campbell, describe herself in the opening chapter of A Heart Not Easily Broken: (1st Person)

I smirked (facial expression) before sipping my margarita. Yasmine’s light-skinned complexion, slender ballet dancer body, long legs, and B-cup breasts suited her personality. There were times I wished my body was more like hers, though. It would make shopping for clothes a lot easier. As it was, I had been blessed with the shapely figure my Nana called ‘bootylicious’. According to her, and her photo albums, I looked just like her when she was my age, with caramel-colored skin, perfectly proportioned hips, a butt that drew major attention, and D-cup breasts, making it hard for a man to look me straight in the eye. (Opinion of others)

And last but not least, select ONE character to focus on in a scene!

In other words, don’t split up your chapter into two different points of view. Extend the scene, or shorten it, with chapter breaks instead of scene breaks. Doing so will keep the reader from missing the POV switch at the break point, because sometimes inserting *** just doesn’t do it. Doing so generally means there is a change in the scene itself, not POV.

I hope this helps! For more tips on writing, check out my page with links to previous articles on writing. Until next time, Happy Writing!

MJ

Interview with Melynda Price!

Today I welcome another  5 Prince Publishing author,  Melynda Price. Melinda writes  Paranormal Romance. Take a moment to get to know her, then check out her book, Until Darkness Comes!

Welcome, Melynda!

What inspired you to write?

A few key things contributed to my becoming an author. I edited a book for a friend of mine, and I absolutely loved it! But as fantastic as her story was, I found myself wanting to write over it. What if this happened? Or what if they said that? At the time, I was also reading the Book of Enoch, which inspired me to write a fallen angel series.

 What genre do you write? Did you choose it, or did it choose you?

I write paranormal romance. I think the choosing was mutual, LOL. I only read paranormal, it’s what intrigues me, and I write what I’m passionate about. I love creating a world that’s larger than life, an escape from reality and the confines of our world where my only challenge is to make the unbelievable believable.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

I’m the most productive in the morning. I’ve found that’s when my creativity is the best. I like to grab a cup of coffee, settle into my chair with my Chihuahua and spend the day writing. 🙂

 What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

It’s not a quirk as much as a challenge, but I have the hardest time ending a book. I hate to say good-bye to my characters, and I find it very difficult to wrap up a story that will give the reader closure. It’s important to me that they don’t feel like the ending is rushed. I’ve read so many great stories but then was disappointed with the ending. I think cliffhangers are great too, as long as everyone gets their Happily Ever After when it’s all finished. 🙂

 Are you a pantser or plotter?

I’m a total pantser. In fact, half the time, I don’t even know what’s going to happen until sit down to write it. I think this style of writing can make for an exciting, unpredictable read. When I wrote Shades of Darkness, I had my first draft written and when I was polishing it for my editor, I got pulled back into the story and I completely rewrote the ending. 🙂

Are your stories based on experiences based on someone you know, or are events in your own life reflected in the characters/stories you write? Can you share and example?

My stories are complete and total fabrications. However, I have been told by people who know me, that they can see a little of by daughter in Olivia. I find it funny how even without trying my creative side intersects with reality.

Do you have any suggestions to help new authors become a better writer? If so, what are they?

Learn to write deep POV from the beginning. It’s a craft of writing that takes time to develop but well worth it. It will enrich your story and make your writing stronger.

 Are you self-pubbed, indie pubbed, or traditionally pubbed?

I’m traditionally published through 5Prince Publishing. My first book, Until Darkness Comes released 3/21/12. Shades of Darkness, the second book in this series, will release 2/28/13.

 What are your current projects?

I’m currently writing the third book in my Redemption Series, Courting Darkness.

Connect  with Melynda on these sites:

Website      FB Author Page      FB      Twitter      Email 

Autumn landscapeA guardian angel… A forbidden love… Eternal consequences…
Olivia Norton was born with a gift—a gift heaven has sworn to protect, and hell is bound to destroy. Her perfect world is turned upside-down when two handsome strangers, Max and Liam, step into her life. Olivia soon discovers that her ‘Mr. Perfect’ is actually a perfect nightmare.

 The rules of engagement have changed and Liam, Olivia’s guardian angel, is forced to cross dimensional borders or risk losing the woman he’s sworn to protect. Suddenly, thrust into a world unlike anything he’s ever known, Liam isn’t prepared to come face to face with the young woman whose life he holds in his hands.

 But nothing is as it seems, and secrets abound that will ultimately force him to choose between two impossibilities. Max will stop at nothing to finish what he’s started, and Olivia is soon plunged into a battle between good and evil. Her very life hangs in the balance as two forces fight to win her heart.

BUY your copy today!!!

Autumn landscape

 Coming  2/28/13!!!

Free will comes at a cost…

Three years after losing the love of her life, Olivia Norton refuses to continue living in the shadows of what will never be. But how can she marry another when her guardian angel still holds her heart?

Bound by Universal Law, Liam is forced to choose between his honor and his heart. Returning for Olivia nearly cost him his salvation once, but twice may prove to be his final undoing. Some sacrifices are worth the risk, while others could bring consequences that would last an immortal lifetime.

The game has changed—new players bring new threats and challenges. The evil that nearly took Olivia’s life three years ago has returned with a vengeance. A legion has been sent, and the Dark Court will not rest until the last sighted female has been killed.

An old enemy returns… Evil has a new face, a new name, and Haden will stop at nothing to possess the key Olivia holds, unlocking the power he needs to claim his revenge against Heaven and Hell.

 

1st Person, 3rd Person, Omnipotent…Which One Are You?- Part 2

A few weeks ago, I shared information and examples of the three popular forms of point of view writing. If you missed it, follow this link.  
How do you know which one is best for you?
Over a year ago, when my writing journey began, my writing was all over the place as I tried to decide what POV to use. Nearly every author I read wrote in 3rd person. Some broke down each characters actions and thoughts by separating their voices with the use of chapter breaks. Others used scene breaks. Some did neither and head hopped.
 As a reader, none of the differences in their writing styles bothered me. As long as the story was good, and I was able to decipher the differences in character, I was pleased.
As a writer, I see things differently. 
Most writers, when starting out, strive to emulate the writing style of our favorite authors. Nora Roberts was my first introduction into reading romance, so I wrote the way she wrote.  What came out was what I thought of as a seamless flow of character(s), all thoughts and emotion in a scene. In other words, telling the story from the POV of all characters involved in the scene. There were no chapter breaks. There was no defining moment of a character POV changed. The scene progressed with the POV of all major characters involved.
The first book I read that used the 1st person POV was, don’t laugh, Twilight. I enjoyed getting deeper into the characters mind and seeing the story told from the way Bella saw it. Yes, it was biased and no one else’s personal opinions were understood beyond what she felt or imagined them to be, but after years of head hopping, it was refreshing. My favorite book in the series is Breaking Dawn where we were introduced to Jacob’s POV when Bella was unable to speak. Talk about exciting! ‘Hearing’ his crazy thoughts and not just being told by Bella what his actions were, we got to got to know his goals, motivations, and inner conflicts. Too bad we never got to see the same happen with Edward!
(I have no examples to offer when it comes to Omnipotent works because I can’t think of one, though I am sure over the years I have read a few. If I’m not mistaken, this form of writing is typically found in English literature. My understanding is that it is not a popular style chosen by authors today. I could be wrong, so forgive me if I am. )
It wasn’t until I attended a writer’s workshop that I truly learned how do decide what POV works for me. The instructor said this: take a scene, write it in 3rd person, then write it in 1st person. Read it aloud. How does it sound? Does if flow smoothly, does it sound rushed? Can you, the writer, identify with the character, does the voice sound natural?Which one do you feel the most comfortable writing? 
For me, it was 1st person.
Writing in 1st person allows me to experience my characters emotions and thoughts as if they were my own. With 3rd person, I feel as if I’m on the outside looking in, as if there’s a glass door allowing me to peer into my characters without knowing how they truly feel. My writing style allows me to step into the character’s skin, their clothes, and their lives. I feel their emotions as if they were my own. I taste, hear, see, smell what they experience. I become them to the point that when the scene I’m writing is a happy one, I am happy. If they are in pain or sad, I cry, literally, right along with them. At times I am so wrapped up in my writing voice that my family will walk by and as if everything is okay. It is then that I know I’ve truly channeled my characters voice. I never connected with my characters that way when using 3rd person. (can anyone say straight jacket? lol) 
I have heard many say 1st person writing should be for YA novels, not adult fiction, and definitely not romance. Why? Because 1st person stories are told from just one characters POV. If the plot is not entertaining and the supporting characters strong enough to interact with the leading character, readers can get bored, quick. My hat goes off to Janet Evanovich who seems to have mastered the single 1stperson narrative. Her Stephanie Plumb novels are highly entertaining, and her characters easy to fall in love with. The entire series is told by Stephanie Plumb alone. Her witty remarks, quick wit, mixed with the colorful cast make reading her latest exploits something to look forward too.
I found my writing style by taking the best of all my favorite authors and developing my own style of writing 1st person.
The goal of my stories is to show the depth of the heroine and the hero’s evolution as they progress through the novel. There’s no head hopping. There’s no confusion as to who’s speaking, or what they really feel. I use chapter breaks, not scene breaks to separate the two. And occasionally, when story calls for it, I introduce a third person’s viewpoint to break it up a little, but not just for the fun of it. Each character is planned and serves a purpose. My goal is that the reader is well aware of everything each of the characters have experienced throughout, good, bad, and the oh so fun in-between.
How does the publishing industry feel about the use of the various POV’s? Each genre is different, but since I write romance, I can tell you this: it’s frowned upon. During my querying process, I had an agent, who loved the story, tell me there were a few things she wanted me to change, but the biggest was switching from 1st person, to 3rdperson. Her reason, the Big Six wouldn’t take an IR/Contemporary Romance/Women’s Fiction story unless it was written in 3rd Person.
Wasn’t. About. To. Happen. 
The Butterfly Memoirs are about the character’s personal experiences as told by them, like a memoir. The definition of a memoir is: an account of one’s personal life and experiences; autobiography. It would not be the same written as 3rdPerson.
 Thin about it, do you write your diary in 3rd person?
I didn’t let that stop me. (By the way, a year later, as I prepared to query my manuscript, I sent it to the instructor whose writing class I took. She’s an author as well as an agent. After reviewing it, her comments were about technical issues. Never once did she say it should be changed to 3rd person).
The best advice I can give when deciding which POV to use when telling tell your story is this: learn the rules and use them. Discover which ones you can bend and bend them. Experience writing the scene from each point of view and decide which one sounds the best. Which one allowed you to channel your character the most? Then, tell the story the way you want it to be told. If it’s a little outside the box because you don’t want it to be the norm, go for it. Believe me, there are readers out there who feel the same way and will be happy to see support you.
My novel, A Heart Not Easily Broken, will be available September 20th. If you haven’t yet, read the first chapter. After that, grab a copy and see how the use of 1st person has worked for me!
Until the next time, Happy Writing!
MJ

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1st Person, 3rd Person, Omnipotent…Which One Are You?- Part 1

Deciding on the correct Point of View (POV) for your manuscript can be tricky.
One of the best analogies I’ve heard refereed to POV as the ‘camera’ in motion that shows the reader what is going on.

Who’s camera will you use?    

Do you stick with the traditional one person  POV and use the hero or heroine’s eyes? Do you allow more than one character to tell the story and see it from multiple angles? Or do you take on the role of narrator and tell the story from a distance allowing the reader to be privy to events the characters are unaware off?

And when you decide which character(s) have the spotlight, is their voice in 1st person, 3rd person, or omnipotent?
What are the definitions of each POV?

To learn more about each POV, visit the links to read more on About.com, Fiction Writing.

This point of view is from one character which serves as the narrator. Use of the words “I” or “we” distinguish this voice. It allows the readers to “see” and “feel” what this character sees and feels because you’re in that character’s head. 
This point of view allows for more than one character to tell the story. This is the most common form used in writing. Use of the words “he” or “she” distinguish this voice.
This point of view has a god-like quality because the narrator has knowledge of the thoughts and feelings of all the characters in a story.  It can become confusing since at anytime the reader can find themselves in the  POV of any character in the scene. If used, each individual voice should have separate scenes to avoid confusion.  Use of the words “he” or “she” are still used. 
Choosing which POV you use will change the voice of your characters and determine your writing style. My personal preference is to write in 1st person. I chose that POV for the voice of my characters for two reasons. First, my series is titled, The Butterfly Memoirs, which symbolizes the evolution of the characters as the book progresses. Since it is their story, or memoir, I wanted their voice to be clearly heard during the course of the events. My original manuscript was written in 3rd, but I found it impossible to portray thoughts and emotions to the depth I wanted without using the words “I” and “me”.
As an example of the differences in the POV voices, I will demonstrate with the opening lines of A Heart Not Easily Broken:  

In 3rd person: 

“This is the last time I wear this dress.” Ebony Campbell stated, a hint of irritation in her voice.
“Oh, please,” Yasmine, her best friend and roommate, leaned over and yelled.
The music pounding out of the nightclub’s speakers made it nearly impossible to hear her.
“Stop fidgeting. You look uncomfortable,” Yasmine added, winking at the bartender who handed them their drinks.
No matter how many times Ebony adjusted the hem of her dress, it was impossible to ignore the warm air tickling the backs of her thighs as people pushed past her in the crowded bar. It would take more fabric to keep her shapely derriere from involuntary exposure.

That was a simple change of pronouns: “I” to “Ebony”, and “me” to “her”, with a few additional action tags. I am so used to writing from ‘inside’ of the characters head that I had to change my mindset to make it work!

Now, here’s the same scene in Omnipotent:

“This is the last time I wear this dress.” Ebony Campbell said. Her irritation was evident in her voice.
“Oh, please, Ebony,” Yasmine, who was her best friend and roommate, had to lean over and yell.
The music pounding out of the nightclub’s speakers made it nearly impossible for them to hear each another.
“Stop fidgeting. You look uncomfortable,” Yasmine winked at the bartender who handed them their drinks. She really wished her friend would shut up and get with the program. 
No matter how many times Ebony adjusted the hem of her dress, knowing she would never be able to ignore the warm air tickling the backs of her thighs as people pushed past her in the crowded bar. She knew it would take more fabric to keep her shapely derriere from involuntary exposure.
I’ll be the first to admit that this point of view can be confusing! What was the difference? The use of pronouns was the same, “she”, “they”, except now the ‘voice’ is not just from Ebony’s POV. Yasmine’s thoughts/action would only be mentioned as an observation by Ebony if it was written in 1st or 3rd person. The POV character of the scene (Ebony) would have no clue that Yasmine was irritated by her comments…unless this was paranormal then she could be psychic and read her mind…..see what I mean? Confusing! 

Now here is the exact same scene in 1st person:

“This is the last time I wear this dress.” (No action tag needed. Her voice automatically tells you her mood)
“Oh, please, Ebony,” Yasmine, my best friend and roommate, yelled in my ear.
The music pounding out of the nightclub’s speakers made it nearly impossible to hear her.
“Stop fidgeting. You look uncomfortable,” she added, winking at the bartender who handed us our drinks.
No matter how many times adjusted the hem of my dress, it was impossible to ignore the warm air tickling the backs of my thighs as people pushed past me in the crowded bar. It would take more fabric to keep my shapely derriere from involuntary exposure.



Can you see the difference? None of the POV’s were better than the other, it’s all in how you want to tell the story and what voice you give your characters. 

How do you know which one is best for you? How does the publishing industry view writing in those POV’s?

Be on the look out for part two of the series where I will share a few more facts about the difference in point of view!

MJ

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