THE JOURNEY


THE JOURNEY

By Natalie Bright

This month we’re blogging about genre: what do you write and why? Some days it’s all uphill, chasing this writing fever.

My youngest son graduated high school this year and as we complete the paperwork process for college, I realized he may take his life in a whole new direction than what I had planned. He is a talented artist, since a very early age with a gift for color and design. I made him go to summer art camp as a pre-teen and he says I ruined the joy of drawing for him. He is a gamer, so I tried to steer him towards graphic design,  and he could build a resume by redesigning my website and helping me with social media memes and promo videos. That’s not happening.

Our oldest is also very smart with a talent for business and math. He loves to read, particularly history, and has asked me several times about book premise ideas; “Have you ever read a book where this happens? …” I told him to write it, and that he would find tons of fans with that idea. I had visions of him going to writing conferences with me, and maybe I’d be standing in line at his book signing event one day. But his passion lies in an entirely different area than anything I’d ever considered. It’s not going to be the family business or writing, and that makes me sad.

I remember hurrying home to tell my father about the English and poetry classes I had taken in college, and about my poetry journal. I wrote a book when I was in high school. His reply, “You should take some business classes.” I followed his advice and didn’t get back to writing until twenty years later. Dad had a different idea for my journey, just like I had envisioned our kids’ path.

Light bulb moment: we each have our own path to find. My journey in writing and publishing is MY journey, and MINE alone. No one is going to make me sit down at the computer and hold my hand. I have so many ideas and projects in my head. So many opportunities. The only problem I have is time.

This week has been particularly difficult with day job deadlines, the stories tug at me every minute, but that’s okay. I can do this. I can make everybody happy. I took my laptop with me while we were out of town last weekend, only to realize that I can’t write with someone in the same room. I read over what I had worked on in critique this week and it was horrible. The struggle is real.

Time. I wish I would exercise more and plan healthier meals for my family. I wish the day job would go away, but since my husband is the boss that’s not likely.  I wish I could join the five o’clock morning writers’ group, but my brain doesn’t come alive until seven. I wish I could stay awake all night and finish something. Time.

What I can do is give in to the journey and the stories in my head. What I must do is shut the door and write. Wish me luck. But first, I told my husband, “Yes, I’ll watch Season 3 of Stranger Things with you.”  One-half a step forward and three steps back is my journey.

How do you stay true to your writing? How do you carve out time to get things done?

Thanks for following WordsmithSix!

Active Story Narration


Active Story Narration

Natalie Bright

Defined:story or account of events, experiences, or the like, whether true or fictitious. The art, technique, or process of narrating, or of telling a story.

Verbs can be a valuable tool in telling a story.

The right verb can evoke emotion, create strong imagery, and set the scene in the mind of your reader. Active verbs can be powerful and put your story in motion. In grade school when my sons worked on their homework using “spicey” words. I love that!

The “B” verbs have got to go: be, being, been, was, were, is. Hands up: who else is a “was” fan. I use it all the time. During my second pass of edits I find and replace as many of them as I possibly can. You probably have some common or overused verbs in your work. They only dull your sentences.

Here are a few examples:

Is fighting TO: attacked.

Was mad TO: flipped out.

Was walking TO: shuffled.

Was running TO: darted.

Don’t be afraid to let your verbs do the heavy lifting in your story narration.

 

The Perfect Story


The Perfect Story

Natalie Bright

Generations of parents passed down bits of wisdom to their offspring in the form of stories before he could write those stories down. “Tell Me a Story” gave way to “Read Me A Story”; a long-held family tradition.

The story holds our attention because of conflict. At the core of every story are three basic plots for conflict.

Man against Man

Man against Nature

Man against Himself

The story that holds our attention whether it’s a blockbuster movie or bestselling book, contains a form of all three.

 

 

Dialogue Tags


Dialogue Tags

Natalie Bright

Dialogue is spoken communication between characters. The purpose of a tag line is to let your reader know which character is speaking.

Most commonly used dialogue tags:

Said

Asked

Yelled

Hollered

Whispered

As a reader, we hardly notice the tag lines. “He/she said” is boring, and our eyes are used to reading said. We want to know what’s between the quotation marks.

Seriously, can a person “screech” or “Sigh” or “acknowledge” words? Can you “laugh” a sentence? Instead use descriptive words to create motion or response in your characters. Over use of anything besides “said” can be annoying. Think of how you can use narrative in place of tag lines.

One of the best resources for an explanation of dialogue is the book WRITING REALISTIC DIALOGUE AND FLASH FICTION by Harvey Stanbrough. I highly recommend this book as an addition to your writing reference library.

Here’s an example from Mr. Stanbrough’s book:

She approached him cautiously. “Come on now, Baby,” she cooed. “You don’t want that knife. What are you going to do with that?”

He swung the knife in a wild arc. “I just can’t stand it anymore!” he exclaimed. “I’ve had it?”

If you read the same passage above out loud omitting the tag lines, it reads the same. In fact, we might even say that the tag lines of cooed and exclaimed are somewhat annoying. You could add a he said or she said if you want, but the action and narrative helps us know who is talking. The imagery is still the same no matter what tag lines you use.

Happy writing and thanks for following WordsmithSix!

natalie

Cardboard Characters


 

Cardboard Characters

Natalie Bright

One of the most difficult tasks for a writer is to create fictional characters that seem real and believable to the reader. I love books in which characters seem to jump off the page and ones that remain in my head long after the book is closed.

Much Like Cardboard

Are your characters more like cardboard; stiff, emotionless, without personality? They have names and faces, but they are just on the surface of your story and nothing more. The solution: dig deeper into your character’s motivation.

As an author, you must torture your characters. It is impossible to reveal deep character feelings and personalities without applying deep, intense pressure. The ways in which they react to that pressure reveals their temperament and psyche.

Using Character Profiles

Complete character profiles on both your protagonist and your antagonist. There are many great example forms available online.

Don’t stop at the name. Create a birthdate, a history of where they were born, family description, dominant characteristics, weaknesses, and physical limitations. Create historical events for your character that might have happened in their life such as school’s name, college, children’s names, etc.

Write A Letter

Many of my author friends write a letter in first person POV from their character. Don’t think; just free write. Let them reveal their secrets, desires, fears, self-image.

This trick worked great for me on the story I am working on now. My main characters are a young mule-skinner and a Comanche brave. I am alternating chapters between their points of view. I want to show the contrast between how very different their worlds are, yet they are both sixteen-year-old boys. They each wrote me a letter about their different worlds. One holds a great hatred for his father, and the other resents the physical limitations he has to live with. Now I have something to build upon and add the conflict. At this point, writing is more fun than work.

Keep moving forward and thanks for following WordsmithSix!

THESAURUS


THESAURUS

Natalie Bright

One well-known author is quoted saying that if you have to look up words in a thesaurus, then it’s the wrong word. As a writer juggling a day-job and family, as many of you are, I think having word lists handy are a life-saver. Sometimes I know the word, but it’s late at night and the right word just doesn’t come. The only option is to reach for help.

Here are two of my favorite that I’ve found extremely helpful.

THE EMOTION THESAURUS by Angela Ackerman & Becca Pugllisi.

“A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression” is an alphabetical list by emotion. The term is defined by physical signals, internal sensations, mental responses, and signs of acute cases. I kept writing that my character feels nervous, but I wanted to show her nervousness. The list of physical signals is lengthy and can be used throughout the scene. This is a comprehensive tool that writers of every genre would find useful.

CHILDREN’S WRITER’S WORD BOOK by Alijandra Magilner & Tayopa Mogilner

If you write for children, a grade-leveled word thesaurus is particularly handy. This one has word list groups by grade and reading levels for synonyms.

Happy writing!

Book Review


Book Review

Natalie Bright
HOW TO MARKET A BOOK, Third Edition by Joanna Penn, is a comprehensive step-by-step guide to launching your book.
Every author has to devote some effort into marketing. We have to tell people about our book and hopefully make it appealing enough that they will want to read it. Finding people to read your book sounds simple enough, but as we all know this is a marathon and can take as much time as our writing.
As Ms. Penn suggests in her book, “If you re-frame marketing as creative and fun, you will find yourself enjoying it more.” Her book definitely provides you with a place to start as she covers many options.

Traditional vs. Indie: What Should You Do?


Traditional vs. Indie: What Should You Do?

Natalie Bright

The topic always comes up at our meetings. Reach for the stars and snag a literary agent who will negotiate a deal with a Big House publishing company? Or go it alone and join the throng of independent authors who self-publish? What should you do? I know, it’s a lot of information to absorb. Here are a few main points to consider as you move closer to publication in 2018.

Option 1:

If you have a high concept book theme or genre, the urgency of publication is not an issue, and you are willing to relinquish the rights to said work, then Traditional Publishing is your best option. This will require you to sign with a literary agent who will “shop” your manuscript to the five publishing houses which are closed to un-agented submissions. This process takes years. Dollars are well spent in attending conferences to network with agents and editors. Practice your pitch.

Option 2:

If you have a polished manuscript ready to go, a clear idea of your genre and target market, and a Type A personality that likes the control, then becoming an Indie Author and self-publishing your work is the perfect fit. In this option, you can do as much or as little of the process that you want. Dollars are well spent in hiring the professionals to do the work that you don’t want to learn. Become proficient on social media.

Choices

The point is, don’t get discouraged and don’t stress. Take one step at a time. Honestly, both options will sometimes move at a snail’s pace.

My body of work languished with a NYC literary agent who I met at a conference in Oklahoma City. The hardest part was not knowing the status. I got a report as to which houses had my book, but had any editor like it? How could I make it better? Maybe I should revamp my website? I should send an email to my agent, or maybe just call him? My husband finally told me, “Leave the man alone and let him do his job.”

The entire process stretched over six years and then I decided to make a change and become an Indie Author. I like knowing the exact status of my manuscripts. Although it is hard work and long hours, I am able to juggle writing and marketing around the day job. Prioritizing is key. Formatting for wide distribution in Mobi, ePub and PDF blows my mind, so a reasonably priced professional does that job. I also pay for a professional editor who checks grammar, but not plot or structure which costs more.

The point is that writers have so many choices and options for running their business these days. Either option requires a lot of patience and perseverance. It is a great time to be a creator of new and original content.

Below are links to two podcasts that have provided a wealth of information for me in my understanding of the publishing environment of today. There are several years of back logs covering a variety of topics.

The Creative Penn https://www.thecreativepenn.com/podcasts/ with Joanna Penn

Self-Publishing Formula https://selfpublishingformula.com/category/podcast/

Mark Dawson has done it all himself and is now negotiating a movie deal.

Save the Date: July 21 in Amarillo

Wordsmith Six blogger Rory C. Keel and I will be on a panel with other Indies in July to talk about Indie Authors, small presses, and self-publishing. Hosted by the Texas High Plains Writers group, we’ll be meeting in downtown Amarillo at the Amarillo Tower on the 9th Floor.

I’ll be asking the panel questions which will cover the entire process from spark to book-in-hand. We’ll find out why they went Indie, what’s so great about having control, and what they hate about their decision.

No RSVP required, nonmembers are welcome. Our meetings are open to the public and guests may attend for a small $10 fee. It all starts at 10:00 AM and you’re invited! Hope to see you in July in Amarillo.  www.texashighplainswriters.com

Writing Life Struggles Part 2


Writing Life Struggles Part 2

Natalie Bright

 

I adjusted my flight schedules.

In a previous blog, link below, I talked about me needing to be at one place, but I’d decided to choose my writing instead. I mentioned that the whole universe seemingly joins forces to prevent writers from writing. This only happens once you’ve acknowledged the stories in your head and more than once, told someone “I am a writer”. The cosmos goes nuts at this point and so does your family.

This time I took a stand. I chose a writer’s conference over needing to be somewhere else, but then I gave in  and compromised. I changed my flight schedules and will only be missing one day of meetings. If the weather holds and the good Lord willing, I will make the other event too. Unfortunately, three different airlines are needed to get me where I need to be, but I’m giving it my best shot during that week.

Everybody’s happy, right?

I’ve been busy writing blogs, but have done nothing on the work in progress.  Actually, more than one project has been put on hold and it’s waking me up nights. So why don’t I just get up and work?

What do you do when life gets in the way and you are itching to get back to your fictional world.

Do you get up an hour early?

Should I stay up past midnight to get those words in and drag through the day job?

Let us know how you push back at life and make time for your writing.  Thanks for following WordsmithSix!

https://wordsmithsix.com/2018/05/28/writing-life-struggles/

 

Opportunities to Promote Your eBook


Opportunities to Promote Your eBook

Natalie Bright

There are a variety of opportunities to advertise and promote your eBooks for minimal amount of money. Here a few links to several great articles about promotion sites for your eBook.

Best Promotion Sites for 2018

https://www.lincolncole.net/tools/best-paid-book-promotion-sites-for-indie-authors

https://blog.reedsy.com/book-promotion-services/

https://the-digital-reader.com/2018/01/21/nates-big-list-free-paid-book-promotion-websites/

There might be one slight road block you have to overcome though; many of the promo deals require a minimum number of reviews.  Sometimes it’s not necessary that you have all 5 Stars, because it’s the numbers of reviews that can boost you in the algorithms, not the star ratings.

Here’s my problem:  I get the nicest comments on Facebook or through emails from people who enjoy reading my books, but they don’t leave a review online. Some people are just not comfortable with the process, I think.

We’re all writers here, so let’s spread the love. Leave a review for your favorite author. Share a new release by someone in your writing community and remind your friends to leave a online reviews for their favorite authors.