PROMOTING YOU: What’s Your Word Count?


PROMOTING YOU: What’s Your Word Count?

Natalie Bright

We had a great discussion at last week’s critique group meeting about word count. Nandy Ekle found this bit of information on Pinterest:

Short Story = 7 scenes

Novella = 27 scenes

Novel = 60 scenes

Our current group project in progress will feature six novellas around the common theme of the famous highway that goes through the Texas Panhandle: Route 66. We are striving for around 20,000 words each, but it can be a struggle. Sometimes you have to tell the story you want to tell, however long or short it turns out to be.

Here’s another word count guideline I found, which includes several options I’d never thought about:

Twitter fiction (really?)

Under 1000 words = flash fiction

Under 7500 words = short story

7500 – 17500 = novelette

Up to 40,000 = novella

Around 90,000 – 100,000 words = novel (360-400 page manuscript)

Series = 1 scene 1500 words (a change of setting or location is a scene change and usually signals a new chapter)

Let us know your thoughts and suggestions on word count. Thanks for the comments and thanks for following WordsmithSix!

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Promote You: Author Bio


Promote You: Author Bio

Natalie Bright

This week, think about updating your author bio across your many social media platforms. I removed a sentence about my education and added a sentence about a soon to be released book about rescue horses. Let people know that you write, blog and speak (or whatever your passions are).

Do you have a common theme that runs through most of your books? For example; “Fan of thrillers & exploring abandoned buildings.”

Also think about your followers on each the platforms and how they differ. You might want to have slightly different versions for each. I have saved different versions in a Word Folder titled “Nat’s Promo”. Labeled as short bio, 100 words, 500 words, or based on the need such as program speaker intro, freelance bio, or back matter bio for books.

Tweak your Author Bio this week on all platforms:

  • Facebook
  • Facebook Public Page
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Claim your BookBub author page
  • Amazon Author Page
  • Smashwords profile
  • Did I leave one out?

Below is the link to a helpful blog post from BookBub,

Writing Your Author Bio? Here are 10 Great Examples.

https://insights.bookbub.com/great-author-bio-examples/

Have a great week everybody and happy promoting!

A Scene Defined


A Scene Defined

Natalie Bright

The scene is the unit of story, and in a book usually starts with a character arriving and ends when something has changed. A scene propels the story forward.

  1. Scenes in a book are anchored in a certain place and certain time.
  2. A narrative summary can describe the specifics of your scene.
  3. Scenes usually contain some type of visible action, not just internal thinking from the character.
  4. Do not use italics for internal dialogue, or what your character is “thinking”. Once the standard norm, the point of digging deep is writing inside your character’s head.
  5. Keep the scene and action moving. No backstory in the first chapter (maybe two). Hook the reader, and save the backstory for later.
  6. Skillfully weave your backstory into the story, these can be tension filled scenes into itself.
  7. End scenes (chapters) with a hook—a punchy, pithy statement.

Does your scene play like a movie in your head?

Agents of Evil


Agents of Evil

Natalie Bright

Every great story has a villain. A character who drives your main character crazy and prevents him/her from reaching their goal.

A great novel has tension on every page, and the antagonists’ strengths are stronger than the protagonist. There’s no fun in reading a story with a stupid criminal. Ramp up the conflict, create tension in every scene.

Below is a thought-provoking list of the types of antagonists, based on my notes from a writing workshop I attended at the WTAMU Writers Academy several years ago:

Accidental Villian–fatal flaw, does not set out to be bad, bitterly regrets the act of villainy, the evil acts keep snowballing.

Examined Villian–intends to sin, plans crime carefully and meticulously, criminals always have a good reason, criminals rationalize their behavior because what they do makes perfect sense to them.

Surprise Villian– introduced sympathetically and later it is revealed that this person is evil.

Over the Top Villian — untextured bad guy, not realistic as found in the form of comic book characters, their sole purpose is to make things difficult for the good guys, quircky, different, extreme.

Mundane Criminal — not larger than life, but wrong for their own advantage.

Now go write a character profile about a very bad person for your next story.

What Is A Novel?


What Is A Novel?

Natalie Bright

NOVEL Defined:

A novel is a fictional exploration of a universal truth as viewed by the author consisting of narrative prose, a theme, a setting, and a plot.

A novel has a protagonist: readers must relate and care about someone in the story. One character that rises above the frey and accomplishes his or her goal against all odds.

The purpose of your novel: elicit EMOTION in the reader. Escape and entertain. Go for the reader’s heartstrings.

Readers remember images even when they are reading written words. Your job as a writer is to create vivid pictures, or images, in the readers’ mind.

Formatting Your eBook for Publication


Formatting Your eBook for Publication

Natalie Bright

I tried.

With open mind, I tried to learn everything about book formatting, because smart business owners should have an understanding about every component of their operation. Because I kept reading about issues with Microsoft Word conversions, I decided it might be best to make sure my book looks perfect in the format each distributor prefers.

The Scrivener online class was great [learnscrivenerfast.com] and I LOVE how organized my writing projects are, but the power of Scrivener is in the compile feature. I don’t like those 15 space paragraph indentions when my book comes up in the Kindle previewer and I cannot make them go away. Uhggg.

Another online class on Adobe InDesign for my picture books, researching conversion software with reviews out the whazoo (use this one vs. never use it, only use this one…), more instructional videos. And yes, I know there is exceptional software for MACs only. Don’t own one.

Appeals to our 20-something office manager who is supposed to be keeping our other stuff going while I do book stuff. Even she couldn’t help me, and she’s brilliant, so moving on. 1 month, 2 months, 3 months. What did I write during that time, you might wonder? A few blogs and the draft for an easy reader, and we did finish parent taught driver’s education which is HUGE and has nothing to do with my writing career.

Here is a rundown on the different formats to take our book “wide”. In a nutshell, set up an account and submit your properly formatted manuscript:

Amazon Kindle: MOBI

Kobo: refer to their conversion guidelines, but everything is converted to EPUB.

Smashwords: prefers DOC, DOCX which goes through a MeatGrinder, which turns it into an EPUB.

CreateSpace: PDF for print; fonts and pics must be embedded.

Ingram/Lightning Source: refer to the 37 page “File Creation Guide” (yikes! This made my stomach hurt.)

Draft2Digital: Their process creates an EPUB. Good news: you can skip the distributors above, as D2D will do the conversions for free and put it everywhere you want for 10% of your sales.

The Question

So, it boils down to this very important question: would you hire me to do your book formatting?

Absolutely NOT. Are you crazy? You are a savvy Indie Author and a smart business owner to boot. I wouldn’t hire me either, so I fired myself. There is this guy I know who is an absolute whiz and saved me another three months of learning software that I have no desire to understand.

Thank you, Phillip! www.GessertBooks.com

The Next Question

Accounts are set-up, submitted books are approved, tiny prayer for no typos, and then I am moving on to the next question. Who are my readers and where can I find them?

 

Formatting Your eBook for Publication


Formatting Your eBook for Publication

Natalie Bright

I tried.

With open mind, I tried to learn everything about book formatting, because smart business owners should have an understanding about every component of their operation. Because I kept reading about issues with Microsoft Word conversions, I decided it might be best to make sure my book looks perfect in the format each distributor prefers.

The Scrivener online class was great [learnscrivenerfast.com] and I LOVE how organized my writing projects are, but the power of Scrivener is in the compile feature. I don’t like those 15 space paragraph indentions when my book comes up in the Kindle previewer and I cannot make them go away. Uhggg.

Another online class on Adobe InDesign for my picture books, researching conversion software with reviews out the whazoo (use this one vs. never use it, only use this one…), more instructional videos. And yes, I know there is exceptional software for MACs only. Don’t own one.

Appeals to our 20-something office manager who is supposed to be keeping our other stuff going while I do book stuff. Even she couldn’t help me, and she’s brilliant, so moving on. 1 month, 2 months, 3 months. What did I write during that time, you might wonder? A few blogs and the draft for an easy reader, and we did finish parent taught driver’s education which is HUGE and has nothing to do with my writing career.

Here is a rundown on the different formats to take our book “wide”. In a nutshell, set up an account and submit your properly formatted manuscript:

Amazon Kindle: MOBI

Kobo: refer to their conversion guidelines, but everything is converted to EPUB.

Smashwords: prefers DOC, DOCX which goes through a MeatGrinder, which turns it into an EPUB.

CreateSpace: PDF for print; fonts and pics must be embedded.

Ingram/Lightning Source: refer to the 37 page “File Creation Guide” (yikes! This made my stomach hurt.)

Draft2Digital: Their process creates an EPUB. Good news: you can skip the distributors above, as D2D will do the conversions for free and put it everywhere you want for 10% of your sales.

The Question

So, it boils down to this very important question: would you hire me to do your book formatting?

Absolutely NOT. Are you crazy? You are a savvy Indie Author and a smart business owner to boot. I wouldn’t hire me either, so I fired myself. There is this guy I know who is an absolute whiz and saved me another three months of learning software that I have no desire to understand.

Thank you, Phillip! www.GessertBooks.com

The Next Question

Accounts are set-up, submitted books are approved, tiny prayer for no typos, and then I am moving on to the next question. Who are my readers and where can I find them?

 

Goals 2017 Happy New Year!


Goals 2017

Happy New Year!

In looking back over my writing goals from the past years, I am reminded how drastically career goals can change from one year to the next.

In a previous post, “FOUR YEARS FROM NOW”, the blog covers an idea from Joanna Penn, thecreativepenn.com, about modeling your writing career around the four year Olympic games. I love that idea because the publishing industry moves like molasses. By looking at things over a multiple year perspective you might be surprised at how much work you accomplished.

PRIORITIES

When I get up in the morning, there are two primary goals that I want to achieve every day, besides the usual day job and life happens stuff.

1) write

2) exercise

Writing feeds my soul, and exercise because I’m not getting any younger. It’s beyond my comprehension why I’m loading the dishwasher at eleven o’clock at night and I have yet to accomplish either of those two things. What did I do all day?

Pressing Onward

The muse of ideas in 2016 that materialized has shifted my priorities in a big way for 2017. Has that ever happened to you?

A rescue horse and his trainer fell into my life, and their story is finally a reality as an eBook. Because of a great team of extremely creative people, the RESCUE ANIMAL SERIES was born! We have four titles so far, with many more to come. This project has totally shifted my focus from two middle grade novel series currently in progress, to promoting this new picture book series. Who knew? Sometimes the story chooses the writer.

NEWSLETTERS

In 2017 I will be doing more newsletters and blogs. I love reading blogs, and for me, blogs are fun to write. They’re short, narrowly focused, informative, and include interaction with readers. Of course, we’ll continue our popular wordsmithsix.com blog site about story craft.

As the newly elected Newsletter Editor & Publicity Chair for Texas High Plains Writers (formerly known as Panhandle Professional Writers), I’ll be cranking out newsletters and announcements for that group over the next two years. The TPHM Window is FREE to anyone. Let me know if you’re interested, and I can add you to the distribution list. If you live anywhere near the Texas Panhandle, you can join the THPW writing organization for only $36 per year and you’ll be added to the eList automatically. We meet every other month in Amarillo. It’s a great time to network and talk writing. panhandleprowriters.org

PRAIRIE PURVIEW is the blog featured on the home page of my website. Posts are about the history of Texas and life in the Texas Panhandle, with particular focus on the western lifestyle. Please check that out each month. I’m also doing a NAT’s eNEWS which will be an extension of the rescue animals and their owners. Think of it like a behind the scenes as we create the books. You can sign up for my free eNewsletter via my website nataliebright.com

Also in 2017 are two projects near and dear to my heart. My uncle and I are working on a family genealogy book about the John G. Williams clan from of North Carolina and following their journey to Texas. Along those same lines is a book about the cattle industry in the Texas panhandle, that will be filled with original recipes and photos of working cowboys and cowgirls featuring our own cow/calf operation and the Sanford Ranch, located in the Texas Panhandle.

IT’S ALL IN YOUR HEAD

I’m wondering, do you have a story tugging at your heart and occupying head space? I have so many! How do you decide which one to write? Tell us about your work in progress.

I may have to dig into the ‘discard’ file drawer and revive a small-town tale about heartache, a new life, and a second chance for love. I don’t know why I’ve been obsessing over this story for the past few months, but perhaps it has some redeeming qualities. The characters are driving me crazy.

Wow! That’s a lot of writing to be done in 2017. I am so excited, and I am determined to stay on track with my story telling this year.

It’s not looking that great for yoga.

Hope your 2017 is filled with an abundance of

glorious words, sweet tea and sunshine!

What’s that Smell?


What’s that Smell?

Natalie Bright

Using the five senses to draw readers into your fictional world is probably something you’ve heard before.

THE SMELLS OF CHRISTMAS

What better time of year brings back more memories than the holidays? Last week the owner of our local Mexican food restaurant shared the memories of his grandmother’s kitchen. She lived in a small house, and kept plastic over the windows for added insulation against the cold winter wind. The smells from her tiny kitchen were overwhelming when he stepped inside. Flour tortillas, sizzling beef, cinnamon, sugar and hot chili peppers. As he described the scene it was almost like I was there. I really miss my grandmother’s kitchen too.

HIGH SCHOOL TIME WARP

About a month ago I was reminded how powerful the five senses can create emotion. I walked into my son’s high school band hall. BAM! It was as if I’d been transported through time.

The sensory overload swept me away. The dusty smell from feet taking countless steps on a carpeted floor. The scent of sweat, with 100+ bodies in one room. A few notes from a trumpet. The solid clank of a locker door. A scale of notes by a clarinet. The constant, unending chatter of young voices.

My heart beat a little faster and my throat closed. My eyes actually misted over. I froze. In my mind’s eye I was back there; the Dimmitt High School band hall. The faces of the Bobcat marching band floated through my mind. If we could only go back to those moments for one day. Would you? I certainly would. I would revisit every sight and sound and horrible smell, and I’d go armed with a notebook this time. I’d write it all down to keep that moment forever ingrained into my memory.

A band director snapped me out of my time warp. “Can I help you?” he asked.

I just stood there, gripping three cases of goldfish snacks. “They go around the corner. First door to the left,” he said.

My journey down memory lane was done. Reality crashed around me.

EMOTION IS A POWERFUL THING

There was one other time when a smell overwhelmed me with emotion. My father has been dead almost fifteen years. He owned a welding shop and I hung out there most every day. Several years ago, I toured a huge plant in New Mexico that made natural gas circulating systems as part of a work related field trip. The entire back portion of the plant was a welding room. I walked through the plastic stipes covering the door into a personal meltdown. The smell of heated metal was overwhelming. My eyes filled with tears and it was all I could do to not sob uncontrollably. My father had suffered a long, slow battle with cancer. He had died at home and the visual image of paramedics carrying his body out of the house will forever haunt me. I have no idea what our tour guide said. We took a slow walk through the space and I honestly did not know if I would be able to hold it together.

EMOTIONAL TRIGGERS

How powerful our emotions can be when something triggers those memories. Think about how this kind of sensory overload might be for your characters. Create a history for them and then bring them crashing back into reality. The memories can be good, or sometimes that smell might recall something horrific.

KICKING THINGS UP A NOTCH

A children’s author, in describing her process, explained that she makes one final pass of her manuscript to add sensory images. Wish I could remember who said that and give credit, but it was one of those invaluable tidbits I picked up at a writer’s conference. At the point her story is solid, she adds even more sight, sounds, and smells which bumps everything up a notch. The reader can’t help but be immersed even more into that fictional world.

May the sights, sounds and smells of the holiday inspire you!

Merry Christmas!

Nataliebright.com

The Power of Emotion through Words


The Power of Emotion through Words

Natalie Bright

A ‘spark’ for writers is the moment an idea is ignited in our mind. I have spark notes written on everything. Sticky notes, deposit slips, and torn bits of paper. I have numerous spiral notebooks and journals filled with spark notes. Some have morphed into written works, some are still waiting patiently. You just never know what those ‘sparks’ might become. In this case, one man’s sorrow becomes a beloved Christmas Carole of hope.

As I writer, I’m always fascinated with the history behind the words and how the environment at the time might influence the spark. Good or bad, joyous or devastating, a writer’s strong emotions can evolve into powerful words. The prefect example is a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Hopeful Words behind the Sorrow

In the case of Christmas Bells, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote the words to his poem on December 25, 1864. The music and words are up-lifting and it’s always been one of my favorites, recalling joyous holidays with my favorite grandmother.

The words came from a very distraught Longfellow during one of the worst times in his life.

Tragedy Strikes

Just three years earlier, his wife Fanny had tried to preserve her daughter’s hair clippings in wax. In a tragic turn of events, hot candle wax dripped onto Fanny’s dress, igniting it in flames. She ran into her husband’s study, where Henry tried to extinguish the blaze with a rug. He experienced severe burns to his face, arms, and hands. How they both must have suffered through that long night, only to have Fanny die the next morning. Henry was much too ill to even attend her funeral.

“A merry Christmas’ say the children, but that is no more for me.” reads Longfellow’s’ journal entry dated December 25, 1862.

Tragedy struck the family again in 1863 when his oldest son Charles, who was only 19 at the time, suffered a severe wound as a lieutenant in a battle. Charles had left without his father’s blessing, joining the Union cause in March of that same year.

The Christmas season of 1864 must have been a dreadful time for Longfellow, as he carried on to care for his motherless small children, Ernest, Alice, Edith and Allegra. The Civil War was raging, skirmishes had continued throughout the country as they were still months away from Lee’s surrender to Grant at Appomattox.

From the depths of his soul he wrote “Christmas Bells”, which some believe to be a pacifist poem roused by his grief upon hearing about his son. It was first published in 1865 in a juvenile magazine.

In 1872, five stanzas were rearranged by John Baptiste Calkin and put to the tune “Waltham”. Two stanzas referencing the war were omitted, and the poem became a beloved carol, sang and enjoyed by many generations.

As you read the words out loud, think about the emotions of a distraught husband and father, who is seeking peace and hope in a life that is filled with sorrow.

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

 

I heard the bells on Christmas day

Their old familiar carols play

And mild and sweet their songs repeat

Of peace on earth, good will to men

And the bells are ringing

Like a choir they’re singing

In my heart I hear them

Peace on earth, good will to men

And in despair I bowed my head

There is no peace on earth I said

For hate is strong and mocks the song

Of peace on earth, good will to men

But the bells are ringing

Like a choir singing

Does anybody hear them?

Peace on earth, good will to men

Then the bells rang more load and deep

God is not dead, nor does He sleep

The wrong shall fail, the right prevail

With peace on earth, good will to men

Then ringing singing on its way

The world revolved from night to day

A voice, a chime, a chant sublime

Of peace on earth, good will to men

And the bells they’re ringing

Like a choir they’re singing

And with our hearts we hear them

Peace on earth, good will to men

Do you hear the bells they’re ringing?

The life the angles singing

Open up your heart and hear them

Peace on earth, good will to men

Peace on earth, Peace on earth

Peace on earth, Good will to men

My all time favorite version of this song is performed by Casting Crowns. You can watch them signing Christmas Bells on YouTube.