Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Switch Points

I was informed when I began seriously seeking publication a few years ago; becoming an author is a journey.
No one just sits down at their computer or typewriter and spends a week, or a, month, or even a year, pounding out a novel. Oh, you'll spend the time, but It will not be the first, or the last thing you write before you find out what a journey the process of being a committed writer really is.
It was compared to a cross country train trip, beginning in Washington State and ending somewhere on the east coast.
The point where you begin is very clear and defined. Most of us hope were on a bullet train, racing over the landscape in a blur and arriving on The New York Times best seller list. We sleep through, or hope to find, the trek was a blur as we arrive at our destination.
For some authors this is true. For most; it is not. For those who took the journey too quickly, you may discover your luggage ended up in New Orleans instead of New York on this fast forward journey. If you missed critical switch points along the way, who knows where you'll end up..
A switch point on a railway is about three inches of steel. A switch is flipped during the journey and the train in which you're traveling will switch from the path its on to another track. If this is done with care and a committed watch, you will arrive, bags and all, at your destination.
If a switch man is sleeping on the job, or carelessly flipping switches...who knows where you and your luggage will end up. Perhaps in a better place than you planned?
Its possible, but the switch points are important and worth noting.
These include-
-developing a thick skin
-finding your voice
-creating a solid habit of writing
-learning patience
-knowing who you can count on in critique partners
and many others.
Easing your way through these points in your journey will slow it down. Perhaps your instincts are so well honed that you can skip some of the points. Don't do it.
Give yourself and your writing the chance to enjoy the scenery, gawk at weird or unfamiliar sites, step off the train and indulge in time away.
Your journey isn't set when you climb aboard. It will travel in paths and rails that your friends have left or skipped over. It will include heartache and disappointment. You will see and hear things you never expected. The destination may seem a million miles away.
The point is to ride, watch your switch points and take advantage of what you're learning. If conferences, or books, or on-line helps take you off track, find another switch point and keep going. You may forget where you were headed in the first place when you find where you've arrived.
In the meantime...keep reading and writing!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

As: During, While, When, After, or Before

In my work as a free-lance editor, often I run across a common, small word used in a big, wrong way. It is grammatically correct. The spelling isn't at issue. The context is even appropriate. However, this small word sticks out to me like a dragon in a flock of hummingbirds. The word is... as
While as is appropriate in most of its uses, its also redundant, over-used and awkward when it shows up more than twice in a single page of text. Its counter parts are often more accurate, more appealing to the reader and more specific to the context of the paragraph or page.
Let's take a look at a 4 sentence paragraph with only a few uses of this word and then replace them with one of the following: during, when, while, after, before
"As the sun played across the heated desert sand, my feet burned as if I walked on hot coals. My throat, as dry as the sand drifts crowding me, burned a raw scorch as I walked. As the night drew its cloak over the rolling hills as a mother covers her sleeping babe, my knees collapsed. The image of blue water danced in front of my dry eyes."
Now that I've pointed them out to you, the use of the word is probably jumping out at you. Its a skill easily learned and recognizable once someone shows you.
Here's the better way.-
"When the sun played across the heated desert sand,My feet burned like I was walking on hot coals.My throat, dry as the sand drifts crowding me, burned a raw scorch while I walked. After the night drew its  cloak  over the sand, like a mother covers her sleeping babe, my knees collapsed. The image of blue water danced in front of my dry eyes."
This is an excerpt from a yet-to-be-nameless author who gave me permission to show on the blog what I taught her in an editing session. By using the alternate wording, the paragraph gains movement and tells a progressive story. It gains depth, timing and motion as compared to a flat telling of the facts. Even though the adjectives, adverbs, nouns and verbs remained the same. This adds a third dimension to your writing and brings pace and flow .
Its a little thing, easily caught and changed, but what a difference it makes. Check out your manuscript, poem, short story or article and play with the alternate words...and in the meantime, Keep writing!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Paper Gems with Jude Devereaux

As most writers know, the most time consuming activity we engage in to become better writers is...reading. It just so happens this is my favorite part too. If I could read for a living I'd be a millionaire! Sometimes this means I read work that makes my head hurt and sometimes I stumble on a writer I never knew about. Such is the case with Jude Devereaux. While researching Romantic Suspense, I discovered her work with a particular family, the Montgomerys. Her work ranges from Heroic, to dispicable as far as these men are concerned. They all belong to a far reaching and well-off group of men who are just human enough to infuriate and just hero enough to tantilize. Her plots at times seemed rushed to begin and then slow to develop, but overall are good stories. Her heroine's are strong, opinionated and a little on the edgey side. Some have great senses of humor, others are more reserved but they all stand up for themselves in the face of great wealth and insurrmountable odds.
Devereaux includes a single  sex scene and lots of tension leading up to it, but her books are fairly clean. I found her books listed in Romance/Suspense, Paranormal Romance,Historical Romance  and Contemporary. Her ability to write in more than one genre while sticking with her romantic tendancies makes her work worth looking into.She is the author of more than 40 NY times best sellers and is represented by Simon and Schuester publishers.
You can find her on BARD, for blind readers, The Library, Amazon and on her social media sites. Devereaux, Devereaux, and simonand
Go look her up and in the meantime...Keep reading and writing!!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Part II: Marketing With The Seven Plot Archetypes

In Part II of Marketing with The Seven Basic Plot Archetypes, the second plot line we will look at in today’s blog covers Rags to Riches
Once again there are a number of ways to use this plot line to market your product or service. If you are a personal trainer, a diet guru, an investment genius or a spiritual leader, you will have no trouble using “Rags to Riches” as a marketing technique.
Let’s take a look at what blogger Tim Perry wrote about this.
“In the stories, this is where a modest and moral but downtrodden character achieves a happy ending when their natural talents are displayed to the world
At large. In the real world this applies to anyone with an undeniably incredible talent who wants to break through and be successful. This could apply
To photographers, musicians, artists, and yes even bloggers. 

If your product or service falls into this category, you should look to play the role of the "Fairy Godmother" that gives the hero just enough to get to
The right place and the right time. (This is where many coaches fail by trying to overdo it. A good coach is meant to pull the best out of their pupil,
Not do it for them) 
So…How does this work to market your book?
First and foremost, you must recognize who might be experiencing a “Rags to Riches” type of life experience. For Romance you want the ‘rags’ people who’ll be inspired by your story. Women’s blogs and sites. Moms, Divorcees, Singles on dating sites? All are possibilities to advertise.
Mystery? You can look at everything from Military support groups, Emergency Services, teachers, just about anything, again offering the “Fairy Godmother mentality.
For example…
We’ll take a common story and write advertisements for the different sites.
Story- Five friends discover they have paranormal powers. As corrupt governments gather to manipulate the group to either support or destroy the conflicting politics. Our heroes discover their powers unite them in passion but divide their loyalties when the two most powerful of the gifted turn against each other in a desperate grasp for power and loyalty.
Romance- Cursed or blessed with immortality and the power to heal, an orphaned boy wanders for centuries until his twisted road leads him into the arms of the woman who will either save or destroy him. Unsure who to trust or where to turn, he leaves his shattered heart on her doorstep and searches for the truth and an eternal love unlike he’s ever known.
Mystery-When Shards of bone become claws, an orphaned boy discovers his immortality. Centuries of fighting every evil from the Nazi’s to modern governments, He finds the other powerful outcasts like him, searching for purpose, power and the truth of their origins. 
Paranormal- Immortality, power over the weather, a woman who appears as any person she wishes, the ability to bend metal and mind control, all gifts possessed by a genetically altered group of heroes. Their search for the truth, the ‘right’ side and acceptance from the world they must save brings them together in the fight against their enemies, their abilities and one another.
As authors, marketing is up to us and finding the audience and the marketing tool to draw attention to our work is a difficult part of writing. Look for part 3 of the Seven Archetypes next month and in the meantime…Keep writing!