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!

***

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.

#####

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

About Me     Twitter     Facebook    Pinterest     Instagram  Google+      Goodreads     Linkedin     Email

A Fun Way to Learn How to Write From the Male and Female POV and Perspective- Part 2

Pad of Paper & PenDid you miss yesterday’s video share and breakdown on writing POV? If so, visit this link before you continue!

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

Now to pick up where we left of….

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

(Definitions via dictionary.com)

Now that you have determined what character’s POV is will be used and when, it’s time to determine how much information will be shared by that character and when.

As the definition above says, perspective is the story according to what a character sees, hears, feels, and experiences. Character A can have a totally different view of the same events than Character B, as seen in the Date Night video.

Let’s revisit Couple A:

THE BREAK DOWN:

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.

THE BREAKDOWN

The characters depicted in this portion of the video didn’t have a back story as Man B did, so there is no way to know how their previous experiences affected them. But what you do get is the perspectives of a man and woman who experience the same events.  She thought everything sucked, while he had the time of his life. All of this from the same scene.

How can you incorporate this type of storytelling in a scene in your novel?

This was a challenge I faced when writing my first novel, A Heart Not Easily Broken. My stories are told using First Person POV voice and feature the viewpoint of both the male and female protagonist. Each chapter is told from whomever’s POV tells the most important points throughout the story. There are a few times when a third persons POV is shared in order to present an outsiders perspective and introduce the back story of the heroine in the next novel, Jaded. There comes a point in the story when each of the characters previous experiences intersect into one scene. And in this scene what happens next comes from each person’s view point based on the information they have received and how they see things happening around them.

I hope this gives you a useful outlook on how you can incorporate Point of View and Perspective in your work!

Chapter 37

(Yasmine’s POV)

“Mmm, that feels good, don’t stop.”

Javan’s large hand moved slowly, massaging my back. Even though we’d made love twice, the feel of his hands on my body ignited me like the first time. “So what do you think about June?”

His fingers froze. “For what?”

I rolled over on my back. He looked delicious. His thick dreads hung loose and masked his face. My eyes tracked to parted lips that waited for action, his deep penetrating gaze heavy with desire. I bit my lip as my thigh brushed over his arousal.

I glided my fingers over a handful of locks as he leaned down and kissed me deeply. I loved the way our lips locked together. They felt like heaven and sin as his kiss moved down and worked my chin, my throat, and my breasts.

“Oh, no,” I giggled. “You’re not avoiding this conversation. What do you think about a June wedding?”

Javan regarded me with eyes so filled with desire he looked confused at the topic at hand. His head ­ both of them ­ were focused on one thing.

His eyebrows creased. “Yasmine, that soon?”

“Javan, that’s nine months away. There’s so much to do. I’ve got to find a place for the wedding and reception. We’ve got to come up with a guest list. I’ve got to find a dress for the girls and for me. And we’ve got to find someplace to live. Both of us have roommates so moving in together is not an option. And, oh, God, we haven’t met each other’s parents yet.”

The expression on his face was comical. “I didn’t think about that.”

“Yeah, baby, it’s work to get married. But once we are, the benefits are…” I grinned wickedly. “Let me show you.” I pushed him on his back and straddled him.

“I like this part.” His voice went deep as he grabbed hold of my hips.

Our tongues were fighting their private war when heavy banging on the door startled us.

“Didn’t you put the ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door?” His annoyance mirrored my own.

“Yes.” My employees knew not to disturb me unless it was an emergency. Such as the hotel being on fire. “This better not be about the computers,” I mumbled and climbed off Javan to grab the guest robe from the bathroom.

Javan lay in bed smiling. His thick biceps were pronounced as he shifted his arms behind his head.

The banging continued.

“Go get ‘em, baby.” He chuckled.

I reached the door, twisted the lock, and yanked it open. “What the hell do you…Brian?” He had a murderous expression on his face. “What’s wrong? Is Ebony okay?” I pulled the lapels of my robe tightly across my chest.

“No, she isn’t.” His lips were drawn tight, his brows dropped low. “Where is he?”

I was really confused. Brian should have been with Ebony, but she didn’t seem to be around.

“Why do you─”

“Move.”

I stood firm. “No, not until you─” Brian shoved past me and headed for the bed where Javan lay.

“Your ass is mine,” he growled.

*  *  *  *

(Ebony’s POV)

“Do you want me to call the cops?” Kaitlyn asked. She held her cell phone in one hand and gripped the door handle with the other.

I drove wildly, trying my best to catch Brian at the hotel before someone got hurt. I struggled to keep from running red lights.

“Come on, come on…” My palm ached from pounding the steering wheel.

“Never mind. The way you’re drivin’ the police will just follow us in.”

“Kaity, I don’t know what to do. This is all my fault. I should have said something as soon as it happened.”

“Why didn’t you?” I saw her turn to face me in my peripheral.

I glanced at her, then burned rubber the moment the light turned green.

“Honestly, I didn’t think she’d stay with him this long. You know how Yasmine is, always with a new guy every few months. Brian didn’t need the distraction while he was on the road. He would have dropped everything and come home; it would have ruined his career. Plus, I was scared he wouldn’t want me anymore.”

“That’s just plain stupid,” she said. “Why didn’t you tell me?” Another quick glance revealed hurt feelings on her face. “We’re friends, Ebony. I could have helped you. You shouldn’t have dealt with this by yourself.”

Another wave of guilt hit me. “Honestly, Kaity, I didn’t want you to keep it from Yasmine. It wouldn’t have been fair to you. I’m sorry.”

She reached over and gripped my hand. “And you were pregnant?”

I sighed. “I don’t know, I could have been. Before Brian left we had a moment…and well, both of us were willing to accept the consequences. The next night Javan raped me and didn’t use protection. It scared me. I thought about what would happen if I ended up pregnant and the baby was his instead of Brian’s. I couldn’t live with that, so I did what I had to do. And I hate myself for it.”

Her grip tightened. “God, Ebony, I am so sorry. Whatever you need, I’m here for you.”

“What I need is to stop Brian from doing something stupid and destroying his career. I’ve got to get to him. I need him.”

“I’m gonna call the police.” She placed the call with her free hand.

The lights of the hotel loomed in the distance. I released her hand to grip the wheel and pushed the pedal to the floor.

*  *  *  *

(Brian’s POV)

“What the fuck, man!” Javan scrambled naked from the bed and reached for his pants. He hopped around on one leg to get them on. Only the king-sized bed separated us.

My mind went all over the place taking everything in. The fact Yasmine gripped my arm and shouted at me was insignificant to the hum of anger that buzzed in my ear.

I took one look at the bed and felt sick to my stomach.

This was the same room where Ebony and I spent the weekend. The room she cried in the moment I opened the door.

And then it hit me, a full shot to the chest.

She’d made love to me after she was been raped.

How was that even possible? How could she want to be with me after that violent act? After having her will of what happened to her body stripped from her?

The hatred for the man I considered my friend for the past ten years blazed out of control. The logical part of my brain clicked off and went primal.

I scrambled across the bed, grabbed him, and threw him against the wall with force I prayed felt twenty times worse than what he’d done to Ebony. I held him in place and with my free arm, reached back as far as I could and pounded his face.

“Brian! Oh, my God! Stop, you’re hurting him!” Yasmine grabbed my fisted arm and put her full weight on it, slowing me down.

“You son of a bitch! How could you do that to her? Why?” I got a few more licks in and a kick to his groin before Yasmine managed to knock me off balance.

Javan slipped out of my grasp and slid down the wall, groaning and holding his sack. It wouldn’t be long before his jaw, eye, and lips were black and blue. The sight of blood pouring out of his nose and cut lip gave me a small amount of satisfaction, but it wasn’t even close to what I wanted to do.

“Oh, no, Javan, baby…” Yasmine pushed past me, ripping the sheet from the bed to blot the blood running down his face. “Brian, what the hell is wrong with you?”

“Whatever she said, the bitch is lying,” he spat out along with blood.

“Call her bitch one more time and you’ll be picking teeth off the floor,” I growled while I paced the room. I wanted to push Yasmine out of the way and get to him again, but there was no way I’d put my hands on her.

“What the hell is going on?” she shouted.

“Brian’s woman is a liar.” Javan struggled to get up.

Yasmine looked at both of us in confusion. “Ebony? What are you talking about?” When Javan didn’t supply an answer, she turned to me.

“He raped her.”  Saying the words again shot a pain to my stomach and chest. Anger like I never felt before flared before my eyes. I wanted to do nothing more than grab Javan’s throat and keep him from breathing.

Yasmine’s eyes flashed in disbelief.

Javan moved to get up again.

“Sit your ass back down before I put it down for good,” I warned.

Yasmine turned to him, an expression of confusion on her face.

“Your girl is a ‘ho. She wanted me to─”

I stepped over to give him another helping of personal justice, but Yasmine beat me to it by giving him something akin to a bitch slap. His head spun around, dreads swinging through the air as his head hit the wall. I wanted to punch his teeth in, but her slap sufficed for now. “Don’t talk about her like that. Why would Brian burst in here and say that? Did you rape her?” she asked.

I could not see her face, but her voice sounded pained.

“Because the bitch─”

Yasmine’s hand shot out again, but this time he caught it and twisted her wrist. She yelled in pain.

“Don’t ever hit me again, bitch,” Javan growled.

I got in his face in two strides. “Let her go,” I said through gritted teeth.

My hands fisted in a handful of his dreads as I snatched him up off the ground, thankful for the excuse to exact my revenge. He released her, shoving her away; she stumbled to the floor. Javan swung at me, his fist connected with my face and doubled back for my gut. Adrenaline pumped through my veins; I didn’t feel a thing.

His next swing missed as I dodged, leaned down, and rammed my head into his chest. I wrapped my hands around his waist and slammed him back into the wall. He pounded my back while I retaliated, throwing punch after punch into his gut.

“Brian!”

In the midst of the yelling, grunting, and crashing of hotel furniture as we fought, Ebony’s voice rang crystal clear in the room. I managed to turn my head enough to see her standing horrified in the doorway with Kaitlyn on her heels.

####

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

How Important is Branding to an Unpublished Author or Published Author?

Website Author Banner

Branding, we’ve all heard of it. Products such as Tide with the large orange bottle, McDonald’s and those unforgettable golden arches, and then there is Chili’s and the green jalapeno pepper, to name a few. These and many more can be found in nearly every town, on TV, and on the web. Each of them has one thing in common: the use of color, shape, or item represents the company and products they sell.

How does this relate to an author, published or unpublished?

When a publishing house prints a book, the covers are unique to each book, but have you noticed that no matter how many books an author publishes with that line, the font of their name is (usually) the same? If the book is part of a series, regardless of what number it is, the main title will be the same, for example, the Harry Potter series.  The colors change from cover to cover, but the font remains the same.  This allows fans to find it when scanning the shelves of libraries and book stores. Think about it, do you read each and every name on the cover when looking for your favorite author, or do you allow your eyes to find the size, shape, and ever familiar font of the authors name to know you’ve found what you were looking for?

Did you know you don’t have to be a published author to develop your brand? I established mine before I began querying.

Let me tell you how…

In 2010, upon the advice of those around me, I started a blog. The point of blogging was to help me improve my writing skills. The experience taught me how to engage an audience and receive feedback and participation through comments. And while I was nowhere near ready to publish anything I wrote, I did build a following. The more I shared my experiences, the more people followed my blog. I also established connections via popular social networking sites, such as Twitter and Facebook.  Visitors to my blog connected with me online, and online connections started visiting my blog. It was months before I upgraded my online presence ‘picture’ from a downloaded image of a heart and book to being brave enough to show my face.  And wouldn’t you know it, the moment I put my picture up, my following on all platforms increased!

Without realizing it, my face became a part of my brand. No matter what social networking site I am attached to, you’re going to find the same picture, same name…easy recognition.

Next came creating a brand, or theme, for the books. The Butterfly Memoirs series is a Contemporary Romance novel that features interracial couples dealing with real life issues. I knew from the moment I started writing my covers would not have the typical Man/Woman embarrassing or half naked. I like symbolism in my stories and I carry that theme in my covers. The series covers will always consist of two main elements, a butterfly to symbolize the female character as well as the image of something that represents the male character in the book.

As for the series itself, I have a logo of a butterfly imprinted into a wax seal that says ‘The Butterfly Memoirs’ and my name, thus branding the series. So anytime you see my picture, logo, or book cover, you’ll know it’s me.

Though you may not be writing a series, you still need to build a brand for yourself and for your audience. Here are a few simple tips, and the best part, they don’t cost a thing!

Branding your online image:

Here are a few tips on taking an author picture without spending a lot of money. Remember, your picture introduces you to your readers. As they say, a picture says a thousand words!

  • Photography equipment: If you can’t afford a professional headshot, take advantage of the features of your digital camera or cell phone camera.
  • Setting: Plain back grounds or simple settings work best. The key is to engage with the reader, not have them wonder where you were when the picture was taken.
  • Wardrobe: Keep it simple! Use solid colors that compliment you. Keep away from strips and patterns because they are distracting. Ladies, keep that jewelry simple, guys, don’t forget to shave or tighten up that hair cut! (Of course, if grungy or over the top is what you’re going for as your ‘persona’, have fun!) *TIP: If you study my picture, you’ll see I wear a butterfly ring that is facing the camera and not away. I am pulling my book/series brand into my image. It’s subliminal branding!
  • Posing: Be comfortable! Don’t try some awkward pose that will translate pain in your eyes though your lips are smiling. Be natural, focus on the camera, and imagine you’re looking directly at your reader. Keep your mind clear…negative thoughts will translate through your facial features no matter how hard you try! Sell yourself!
  • Editing: When done, upload your picture and crop it to take out any blank spaces, once again, the focus should be on you. Readers want to know who YOU are. Off centered images with dead spaces are distracting as well as poor lighting.
  • Sharing: Now that you have your picture, share it with the world! Post it on all of your networking sites so readers will recognize you, no matter where they are! Most people recognize and remember faces before names. If you have one picture on Facebook, and another on Twitter, and yet another on Google+, fans will be unsure if it’s you. Keep it uniform! If at any time you change or update your photo, be sure to change it on all of your sites. **Ignore the urge to change it up every few weeks! Even though your name may be sitting beside the image, people recognize faces before names. Again, it’s branding! After all, McDonald’s doesn’t change the color or shape of their golden arches!**

Branding your style as an author:

  • Your writing style and the way you give voice to your characters is a part of your brand. Read books from two of your favorite authors. Notice how the authors writing style/voice varies from one another, yet, when you read more than one of their books, each of their stories have a similar tone, speech pattern, or even use of particular phrases that distinguishes their writing style from someone else’s. So should yours.
  • Interactions with fans on social media can make or break you. How many times have you come across offensive, political, or highly opinionated posts or tweets that have offended you or left you with a sour taste in your mouth about the commenter? Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but beware of using your social presence as a showcase for your opinions. Readers now have access to you online and will pay close attention to what you have to say. Make your post count. There are times to joke; there are times to be professional. There are times when your fingers need to be still on the keyboard and you avoid addressing a comment, even if it stings. The last thing you want to do is turn off a fan due to your political views or personal feelings. Instead, use your online presence as a way to build your fan base, sharing information about you, your books, and upcoming projects. Fans these days love author/reader interaction. As Indie authors, we have a chance to do what many NYT Bestsellers can’t…talk to our fans on a regular bases. Readers love it!
  • Make your online presence known. Websites are the home base of your brand, the place where a reader can be directed and learn everything about you. This can be done one of two ways: 1.) pay for a professional website or 2.) Take advantage of free website tools and build your own. Sites such as WordPress.com, Blogger.com, and Wix.com, to name a few, offer free blog hosting. (I’ve used all three, and WordPress, which hosts this blog/website, is by far the best!) All you have to do is create an account. This takes time and patience, but can be an educational and rewarding experience. Keep your site professional with links to all of your social networking sites, products (remember, your book is a product), and any merchandise (free reads, etc.) The more work you put into it, the more people will be drawn back to it to see what’s new. Don’t publish content and step away. Website maintenance and fresh information is a must in order to keep your readers coming back. Your website represents you 24/7, even when you are not online. Content should include: a picture, a well-written bio, (remember, you’re an author. It should be free of grammatical errors. If you have a poorly written bio, readers will hesitate to purchase your books because they feel they will be written the same way), all sales links and links to social sites where they can find, follow, or contact you. Your site should also include information about your books (book blurbs), and a sample of your work for them to read.

I know it sounds daunting and like a lot of work, and believe me it is! The point of all of this is you’re a writer and it’s what you love. In order to be successful, you have to put in the work. Marketing and discovering your brand is all about knowing who you are and how you want your writing perceived. By the way, I’m not telling you something that I haven’t done. Everything you see on this site was done by me and it took weeks! But it was well worth it! J

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

Thursday Feature: Never Again No More by Untamed

Book cover

Contemporary Fiction/Teens

Born and raised in Atlanta, Lucinda, LaMeka, Charice, and Trinity are best friends with very similar backgrounds. They have all fallen victim to the perils of teen pregnancy. After each one becomes love struck to the bitter end; they realize that their dreams, ambitions, and planned future must be put on hold. While they struggle to find themselves, each one tries to survive in the game called life. Once they find out that their consequences are a little costlier then they imagined, it’s the decisions they’ve made that creates their troubles.

BUY your copy today! 

Amazon     B&N     Authorgraph

Untamed author pic

Abour the Author

Untamed is an urban fiction author working for One Karma Publishing Company. She lives in her home state of Georgia with her devoted husband of twelve glorious years, three beautiful and spirited children, and an insanely loveable dog named Rocky.

Untamed first found a love of writing as a young child through her love of reading. It was the novel entitled, Coming of Age by Lorri Hewitt that truly inspired Untamed and became the flame that ignited her introduction to the pen and pad.

Untamed’s writing journey began twenty years ago at thirteen years old with poetry, spoken word and short stories. Throughout her high school and college years, she received many accolades for her writing ability to include the Coca-Cola Young Writers Award and honorable mention in the Sandhills Writers’ Conference.

Later, she began to develop her writing talents as a novelist due to her own personal life experiences. Best known for her gritty yet flavorful language, she embraced urban literature to bring about knowledge and support through real life, every day stories with highly animated and lifelike characters. Her powerful words and straight up, no-chaser verbiage delivers punches that will leave you screaming for more.

Writing is a passion to Untamed, believing that everyone has a story to tell, she proudly writes stories that not only entertain but relates to the readers on a very personal level.

Connect with Untamed on the following social sites:

Twitter     Facebook

Look for my interview with Untamed next month!

MJ

Guest Post – Rejection- How Do I Loath Thee – Let Me Count the Ways! by author Carol Brill

M.J.’s recent blog on the query process got me thinking about my own query experience, and more specifically about rejection.

They say Gone with the Wind  was rejected 38 times, Stephen King’s Carrie, 30 times, Harry Potter, 12 times, The Help, 60 times, and what might be the all-time winner among breakout successes, Chicken Soup for the Soul, a whopping 140 times.

Now I haven’t actually counted my rejections, but I think it’s fair to say, I am ahead of Harry Potter, Carrie, and Gone with the Wind and closing in on The Help.

Over the years, I’ve been rejected in a myriad of ways:

  • The “Email query letter only lost in the black hole never to be heard from again”
  • The automatic “Thanks but my list if full, we’re not taking on new clients”
  • The “I read your query letter and it’s not for me”
  • The “I read your query and synopsis and have to pass”
  • The “Thanks for sending the partial I requested, but I just didn’t love it as much as I expected”
  • The “Thanks for sending the requested MS. You are a talented writer and/or you’ve written a compelling story—but alas I’m not sure I can sell this”
  • The “Your story and writing are compelling, but I am not as passionate as I must be to take on a debut novelist”
  • The “I’d like to move forward with your project” YEAH, WOW, WOOHOO!  (Only to decide a few months later to leave agenting as a career!)

There are more versions, but you get the idea. The main reason I can’t give you an accurate rejection tally is that with all the variation in rejections, I am not quite sure what to count.

When I first started querying every form of rejection had the same ability to reduce me to tears and crush my writing ego. Over time, as the rejections mounted and I toughened up, I decided that not all rejections are created equally. Today, it feels much different to have someone not respond to or pass after reading a one page query letter than declining representation after reading the entire novel.

Even if they are different levels of rejection, my gut says you probably count each of them when you tally up. Faced with the possibility of accumulating more loathsome rejections than Chicken Soup for the Soul, I decided to put an end to the traditional query process, and self-publish my novel, Peace by Piece, instead.

So, how about you? Have you figured out the formula for tallying rejections? And do you loath them, too?

Front Cover smallSix years after fleeing college and Thomas’s betrayal, Maggie has nearly given up on love. Enter Izzie, a motherless eight year old, and every maternal instinct kicks-in. There is not first love thrill with Izzie’s dad, but Maggie lets herself believe loving Izzie will be enough to finally lock Thomas out of her heart.

Dealing with unshakable first love, family, relationships, the difficulties of being a step-partent–all overshadowed by the curse of anorexia and bulimia–Peace by Piece is ultimately about hope and second chances.

Carol Fragale Brill’s first novel, Peace by Peace is available at:

  Amazon (Paperback and Kindle)          Facebook        Goodreads        Blog/Website         Email        Other

Carol-001 - 188 x 250 72 ppiCarol Fragale Brill, earned her MFA in Creative Writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Poets and Writers named her fiction the 2010 Maureen Egen Writer’s Exchange first runner-up, A novel excerpt turned short story was selected as a favorite for the Philadelphia Stories Anthology. She writes book reviews for New York Journal of Books. Her work has also been published in Wide Array, Philadelphia Stories, and The Press of Atlantic City. Find her blog at www.4broadminds.blogspot.com/

#WritingTips- Use Your Microsoft Word Doc Tools to Make Writing Easier!

When my Muse wakes me up in the middle of the night, or I have an epiphany of a new scene to add more life to my manuscript, the first thing I do is search for any means of recording my thoughts. Paper and pen, notes on my iPhone, voice recordings if I’m driving, or sometimes I just grab my laptop, open up a blank word doc, and let my fingers fly over the keys. Then I file it away until I’m ready to work on it again.

I am a plotter with a hint of panster. I take my time when I write, letting my stories marinate as I decide what trials to put my characters through. I spend even more time discovering who they are. When my research is complete, my outlines written, and I’m ready to add dialogue, the last thing I want to do after spending hours bringing my story to life, is have to go back and reformat the entire manuscript before editing it.

Let’s face it, authors, the mere thought of the words edits, editing, or editor are daunting, especially if you are new to writing!

I remember those days! But, have no fear! Since then, I have learned when you put in the work, the editing process can run so smooth, it’s nearly as fun as watching your story come to life from the blank page!

Okay, okay, stop laughing!  Let’s keep it positive people! 🙂 I’m about to share a tip that will have you grinning from ear to ear! (If you had no idea about it, that is!)

Did you know there are tools built into Microsoft Word that can cut down the amount of editing you or your editor need to do if used while you write?

I learned this while working on my first manuscript, (A Heart Not Easily Broken), and my dear friend and fellow author enlightened me to these amazing settings. I can’t lie; I am NOT a tech savvy person. What I’ve learned to do with my laptop, be it building my webpage, (the one you’re visiting now), or surfing the web, all of this has been because of being pointed in the right direction by people who discovered these shortcuts and shared them with me, or by taking the time to keep hitting buttons and trying over and over again until I figured it out. In other words, HOURS of frustration mixed with patience, coffee, and chocolate!

Now it’s my turn to reciprocate!  If any of this is new to you, I hope you find this information useful, and that it makes writing easier!

***NOTE: The following directions and screen shots are based on Microsoft Word 2010. Similar functions can be found for 2007, though they will not be as detailed. For more advice, I suggest searching Google or YouTube for instructional videos on how to use your editing/proofing features.***

Unknown tricks to Word 2007 and 2010 to avoid unnecessary editing issues (AKA – Quick Access Tool Bar). Let’s face it, we all didn’t sit down to read the manual…

IMG_0438[1]

Screen shot of the steps below. Daunting, but well worth the work!

Use of this function will allow you to set up Word to point out common editing issues as you type, allowing you to rethink your sentence before you continue, or make it easier to find some of the editing issues that make your writing passive. To customize this feature, follow these steps:

  • Open up a blank Word Document
  • Select the REVIEW tab at the top of your screen; Right Click and select CUSTOMIZE
  • Select PROOFING. (Here you can choose what kind of typing issues you want Word to ignore or point out to you).
  • Look lower in the box marked: WHEN CORRECTING SPELLING AND GRAMMAR IN WORD
  • Select WRITING STYLE, then click on the drop box, choose GRAMMAR & STYLE, then click SETTINGS. (From here you can have Word point out EVERYTHING!!! From punctuation issues, misused words, fragment and run-on sentences, to the use of cliches phrases, and so much more. Using this feature to help point out issues you need to correct before submitting your manuscript to an editor will make the editor quickly fall in love with you!)
  • Be sure to select OK before exiting to save your settings.

***By the way, once these settings are saved, they stay that way  for every document you create, until you go in and reset them.***

I touched on this a few posts ago when sharing tips for writing query letters, but again, putting this simple step into practice BEFORE you write one word will make the rest of  your writing experience pleasant.

The Universal Settings for your Manuscript (or Prepping you MS for Query Letters and you Editor)

IMG_0440[1]

Your screen should look like this when selecting your font type and size.

Set your Font:

  • Open a blank document.
  • Select the HOME tab.
  • Choose TIMES NEW ROMAN Font with a 12 Point  size.
  • Save and exit

***Check these settings for each new document created! They do not always stay the same!***

IMG_0441[1]

This is the easiest fix!

To Set Page Borders/Margins:

  • Select the PAGE LAYOUT tab.
  • Choose MARGINS.
  • Set to NORMAL. (1 inch border on both sides and top and bottom)

***This usually the normal setting, but it never hurts to make sure it’s set correctly. Technology is funny, and can revert back to the original settings  without warning!***

IMG_0439[1]

Set your page to automatic indent and line and paragraph spacing.

  • From the HOME tab, select PARAGRAPH.
  • In the INDENTION box, choose HANGING.
  • In the SPACING box, choose DOUBLE, and change the  AFTER PT to ZERO (O)
  • Check the box below to avoid  spaces between paragraphs
  • Select OK to save changes.

***Again, check this feature with the start of any new document. The default settings are not the same as what you need when writing. Any new document created will not have your new settings.***

 Other Advice:

Here are a few more things you can do to make your writing cleaner:

  • Make sure you have clean chapter breaks. In other words, when Chapter 1 ends halfway down the page, Chapter 2 should start on a fresh page. The final page of Chapter 1 should not have the first part of Chapter 2 .
  • Italicize words meant to stand out for emphasis, do not highlight or underline.
  •  When inserting a scene break in a chapter, use ### or *** to show the break in time, or the start of a new scene and/or location. Which ever one you use, stay consistent throughout the MS, do not flip-flop.
  • If you have already written you MS and have not used these settings, there’s no need to type it over again! Simply go to page one, hold down the CTRL + A buttons; it will highlight the entire manuscript, from page 1 to 1000+. Follow the steps to set PAGE MARGINS and FONT while highlighted, and it will fix all of your work. Be sure to scroll through in order to separate your chapter headings on fresh pages, or else, some of them may find their way into the previous chapter. Don’t forget to save and back it all up when you’re done!

I know, I know, if you are technically challenged, the whole idea of learning how to properly format your work is daunting. But believe me; editors appreciate working with authors who take the time to learn how to use their writing programs. It cuts down on the amount of tedious stuff they need to do to get your work up to par, and allows them more time to focus on the real work, the mind-numbing technical side. And who knows, less work may end up saving you money!

Happy Writing!

MJ

 

Interview with Christine Steendam!

I am excited to introduce you to fellow 5 Prince Publishing author, Christine Steendam! If you love Historical Romance, check out her debut novel, Heart Like an Ocean! I wish her much success! Take a moment to get to know her, then be sure to grab a copy of her book!

Christine Steendam

Welcome, Christine!

What inspired you to write?

I can’t really think of one thing that inspired me. I’ve always written, for as long as I can remember. However, Heart Like an Ocean was inspired while I was living at a ranch learning to train horses. I was sitting, listening to music, staring out at the horse pasture, and I envisioned a girl running across the field to her horse, looking for an escape. From there Heart Like an Ocean was born.

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

I write romance. Heart Like an Ocean, my debut novel, is a historical romance and the book I’m working on right now is a contemporary romance. I always thought that my genre would be science fiction or fantasy but it seems my inner muse had a different idea.

MJ: I can relate to that! I used to read Sci-Fi, but when I decided to write, Women’s Fiction is where my muse took me.

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

Work schedule? I used to have a schedule but with baby #2 on the way that all went out the window. Now it’s more like I find a moment between chasing after my son and exhaustion to get 500-1,000 words out daily. I’m working on getting back on schedule though.

MJ: Congratulations on your upcoming new addition to your family!

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

This isn’t really a writing quirk but once I reach the editing stage I actually print out the entire manuscript (I know, I’m not saving trees at all) and go through it with a red pen. I can’t edit on the computer or with any other color pen. It has to be red.

MJ: *raises had in air* I’m guilty of the same!

Are you a pantser or plotter?

A bit of both but probably leaning more towards pantser. My first drafts are almost always just bare bones idea of a beginning, middle and end that I rarely even write down. I basically just go with the flow and get it all out. Once I’m done the first draft though is when the real fun begins and I end up plotting it out in great detail so that I know what needs to be fixed up.

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?

One of my beta readers said that when she picked up Heart Like an Ocean she saw a lot of me in it. She tells other people we know that when they read it they’ll just know it came from me. I don’t agree completely, but definite aspects of my life and attitude while growing up are reflected. To say no aspect of my real life gets into my writing would be a lie because real life is what inspires me, but there are no characters or events based on anything in particular.

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

#1. The first step is to get it all out. Finish your first draft. You can never get better if you don’t first finish. #2. Hearing “you’re awesome, your writing is great, I loved the story” is great for your ego but not great for improving your writing. Search for honest and constructive criticism. It might sting a little but you’ll learn from it.

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

Indie pubbed by the fantastic 5 Prince Publishing. I love everyone there. It’s like a big family.

*Virtual High-Five to my 5P Sister!*

What are your current projects?

I am currently working on a contemporary romance set on an Alberta cattle ranch. It’s tentatively titled Unforgiving Plains. I’m currently in the editing stages right now but will hopefully be ready for submission soon.

HeartLikeAnOcean-Cover

Heart Like an Ocean– Released in eBook on Feb 2,2013 on Amazon and 5 Prince publishing.

In a society where she doesn’t belong, Senona Montez, a strong-willed and free-spirited woman refuses to follow the path expected of a Don’s only child.

On the eve of her marriage to a stranger, she saddles her horse and flees everything she knows, only to discover the petty concerns of society did not prepare her for the harsh life on the open sea. She finds an unlikely protector in a reckless privateer, Brant Foxton.

Straddling the worlds of independence and privilege in 1600’s Europe, this captivating man challenges her in ways she never thought possible, shows her what living to the fullest really means, and allows her to follow her heart wherever it leads.

 

Excerpt:

Prologue

Spain-1666

Senona looked around the room full of swirling dresses of so many shapes and colors. It was like a dream and left her overwhelmed and unable to tear her eyes away. Tonight she was a princess in her new dress with her hair curled, cascading in loose waves down her back. Tonight she was perfect.

Browsing the room, this time in search of familiar faces, Senona spotted Caton Amador, and Isidro Amato. The boys, although older, were her friends and a welcome relief to the overwhelming nature of her surroundings. She made her way around the perimeter of the room in their general direction.

Isidro was never very serious about anything and enjoyed teasing Senona, which annoyed her to no end. Caton was much more subdued and quiet, at least around her. Although they were not as close as they once had been, the families remained good friends, and the three of them spent many hours riding around the countryside or playing games in the garden. When they were younger, Isidro and Caton had been her constant companions, helping her sneak out of tea with their Madres or rescuing her from lessons with her tutor. Now they never voluntarily saw each other, but due to their families’ relationship, they found themselves together often enough.

“Senona, my Chica! You are a picture of beauty, as always,” boomed Isidro’s obnoxious and teasing voice.

Caton turned to look at the young girl. “Leave her alone, Isidro.”

“Come on, Caton. She’s glad to see us.”

Caton frowned but said nothing, turning his attention back to the pretty girl standing next to him. Isidro seemed to accept that as permission to continue, and he smirked mockingly at Senona, beckoning her. The small flock of girls that surrounded the two boys giggled, causing her to blush and become hesitant and uncomfortable. She had never seen the boys in this environment, and she quickly questioned her decision that she belonged with them.

“It’s okay, Isidro. I just wanted to say hello.”

“Well then, run along. There must be some of your friends around.”

Senona forced a smile and turned to Caton. “Hello, Caton.”

He barely acknowledged her with a brief glance and nod in her direction, and then returned to ignoring her. Unsure of how to deal with Caton’s rejection, she walked away, her eyes burning with angry tears that threatened to spill over. Why was he being so rude? Not even so much as a hello, as if he were embarrassed to be associated with her.

As she pushed her way through the crowd, she heard one of the girls laugh. “Caton, I do believe you hurt her feelings.”

Caton’s deep, unmistakable chuckle cut through the din and his voice was all she heard. “She’s a silly, strange girl. I would rather not encourage her.”

Senona expected this behavior from Isidro, but from Caton? She had always thought he was honest and simple, but his actions tonight had shown her otherwise. She had been a fool to think that these older boys were her friends.

Escaping into the shadows, she hid from the sneering glances and mocking laughter that seemed to follow her wherever she went. She had thought that tonight would be different, but nothing had changed. She was just a strange little girl.

The night was a blur, a blur of swirling skirts and obnoxious voices. To nearly everyone she was invisible. Even her Madre and Padre, who had never been overly affectionate towards their daughter, seemed to have completely forgotten her existence. But that wasn’t so different from normal. They weren’t very affectionate people ever, even towards each other.

At the end of the night, Senona lay in bed, her new dress hanging in her wardrobe, mocking her. She had realised tonight how far she fell from society’s standards, her own parents’ standards. Any illusion she had of being a princess, of being perfect for one night had been shattered. But that didn’t really bother her. The truly odd thing was that she felt a weight lifted from her shoulders. Perhaps she didn’t have to be that way. Perhaps now she had the freedom to do as she wanted. It wasn’t as if anyone cared about her anyway. She was just a strange little girl.

####

About the Author:

Christine has been writing stories since she could put pen to paper and form words. Now, many years later, her debut novel is scheduled to be released and her second book is in the works.

Christine has spent the better half of her life owning and working with horses, and these four legged companions often find their way into her stories. After all, no work of women’s fiction would be complete without a horse or two (in Christine’s opinion at least).

She currently makes her home in the center of the world—no, really. Look at an atlas.

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

Blog/Website

Purchase

Email

#8Sunday-A Heart Not Easily Broken- Healing

Sometimes you never know what you’ve been missing until it comes back to you…

Excerpt:

“God, Ebony… I love you.” He gripped me tighter and pushed up to give me everything he had.

When I came, there were tears in my eyes. He followed right behind me, his eyes focused on me.

This is what had been missing. My physical healing had been over long ago. Maybe now my emotional healing could begin.

####

BUY your copy of this Amazon Bestseller for $3.99 today! For REVIEWS, SAMPLE CHAPTERS, and LINKS of all formats…all with just ONE-CLICK! 

For more Sunday Samples, check out these other authors! Weekend Writing Warriors

#8Sunday- A Heart Not Easily Broken- Changes

Events in Ebony Campbell’s life have lead to drastic changes in her daily activities. No matter how much she tries to hide it, those close to her know something is up. Sometimes a  secret isn’t as hidden as you think…

Excerpt: 

Brian was right, Ebony had changed. Her hard work and dedication to her job were nothing new. But once he left, she started working harder than usual.

She ate, slept, worked, and talked to him when she could. But when it came to Kaitlin and me…

I could understand why she avoided us. After all, we were spending time with our boyfriends while she waited by the phone. And the three months without sex thing…damn.

####

BUY your copy of this Amazon Bestseller for $3.99 today! For REVIEWS, SAMPLE CHAPTERS, and LINKS of all formats…all with just ONE-CLICK! 

For more Sunday Samples, check out these other authors! Weekend Writing Warriors