REVISING: THE CRIPPLING PART


REVISING: THE CRIPPILING PART

Natalie Bright

Writing is the hardest work you’ll ever do.

Many people start their great American novel with good intentions, and for many different reasons, and then it’s time to edit.

My kids have this notion that writing an assignment paper is going to be a breeze, so they wait until the last minute. My son talked about his research paper for several weeks before the due date. The theme was something he knew a lot about, and he verbally explained the outline of his paper very thoroughly. I was impressed (and surprised at how he seemed to be interested in an English assignment). The grade was barely passing, due to sloppy sentences, misspelled words, “the writing is not good” wrote his teacher. Why didn’t he read over his work? He had put a lot of thought into the research topic, but almost no effort into the writing itself.

Time after time, I talk to wanna-be authors who have given up and given in to the utter frustration of editing their draft. They are daunted and shocked at how much work they have yet to do, because the story seemed so alive in their head. More often than not, the story has been in their head for many years. The idea that was so clear and brilliant in their mind reads like crap on the page.

Do not be intimated. This is how the process works – seriously! You have to edit your work.

The real magic happens, I believe, during the editing process. This is when your story takes shape and rises above the others. This is when you find your writer’s voice, and realize the load of crap has possibilities. This is where you’ll leave the physical world of your daily existence and disappear into the world you’ve created.

Writing is harder than most people think. There is always a better word, description, sentence order, scene; it’s never really finished and it won’t emerge on the page perfect, but you have to stay with it. Please don’t give up that easy. If you have a story in your head, YOU and only you, can be the one to write it. If you’ve always wanted to be a published author, you can!

 

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PLEASE STOP, MR. MUSE


PLEASE STOP, MR. MUSE

By Natalie Bright

 

Sparks on sticky notes, piles of articles, spirals full of handwritten chapters, lists of historical topics to research – all potential stories. I’ve got to get this mess organized.

My mind is in overload mode, because I love writing so much that I am now attuned to every idea that pops into my head, and ideas are coming from everywhere. I used to worry that I’d never have enough ideas to stay busy. I gave up television, scrapbooking, and cross-stitch for this?

I’m not sure when the voices inside my head got so loud, but it happened. I can’t shut them up, and I don’t want to. My problem now; no self-discipline. I like every minute of the process from first draft, research, to final edits, and then planning book events. It’s all fun. I even like co-writing, with four projects in the works. Two more rescue animal stories coming in November, plus two more new projects next year.

Wait a minute. Let’s take a more professional view of my process. Let’s take the heart out of the creativity. The truth is I would have fired me years ago.

My middle grade historical, HANGIN’ DAY, was six years in the making through the traditional route. It was agented but never sold. Six. Years. No other industry has that kind of turnaround time. I’m taking serious disciplinary action against myself, and the key to success is to Stay. On. Task.

Here’s My New Plan:

  1. New ideas get a page in the idea journal. Nothing more. Jot a few notes, but always return to the WIP.
  2. Working titles and self-imposed deadlines are posted on a whiteboard. Stick with the schedule.
  3. Which idea burns the brightest fire in my gut, and does it have potential? List those sparks on the whiteboard, with a designated start date and possible pub date.  What needs my attention NOW? And then, what’s next?
  4. Apply myself to learning more tools of the trade. Scrivener has really made a difference for me this past year. Next up: formatting.

How do you stay on task?

In the meantime, our group project is progressing. You’re going to really enjoy these Route 66 stories.

Finish your book! The world needs your story.

 

Historical Fiction


Historical Fiction
Natalie Bright
 
Historical details haunt me. Am I getting this right? Accuracy in the stories I’m writing cause me much concern and angst; I never feel I’ve done enough homework or that I have a full grasp of the time period. Take for example a letter to the editor of the Western Writers of America’s magazine. He wrote to complain about the use of the word “sheriff” in western novels. City councils hired a “marshall”, not a sheriff. For my middle-grade series set in the Wild West, I did research Marshall, who was appointed by the U.S. President at the time. I got that right. The thought to question and research the term ‘Sheriff’ never once crossed my mind. Will the incorrect information aggravate some readers, and since it’s a children’s book, should writers have an even bigger obligation to make certain the historical information is accurate?
 
I’m experiencing the same doubts when working on the WordsmithSix’s Route 66 anthology. The history is fascinating, and it’s difficult to stop the research and just write. My story is set in the 1930s, and when I read first-hand accounts of the time period, I want to include all of the details that I find enthralling, but the readers may find cumbersome. I guess the best thing to do, is just let the characters decide.
 

Here’s the blurb for our upcoming anthology, which will be a collection of stories from different time periods but with one common Route 66 location. I think readers will love this collection of stories, and the research has been fun. My story is actually based on the true circumstances of my husband’s great-grandmother and is set in 1930’s Texas.

It started as a dirt path connecting neighbors, communities, states and finally a nation. Route 66 was an overland route traveled by pioneers, migrant farmers, and anyone going west looking for the American dream. From wagon ruts to an asphalt highway, it has connected generations of people.

Join us as we travel through time from the early days and well into the future on the Mother Road.

OUR TIME ON ROUTE 66 is a collection of stories that tell of good times and bad, love and heartache, from the past to beyond tomorrow, and all of them are connected by one stop, the Tower Station, and U-Drop Inn. 

 

PROMOTE YOU: Write More!


PROMOTE YOU:  Write More!

 

“As you produce more books (or more stories or content of any kind), you are likely to grow your audience or reach more readers. And this in turn naturally leads to more followers on social media.”     — JANE FRIEDMAN

No question about it, it’s up to you, the writer, to produce more of your content. Why advertise a store with nothing in it? That’s why I’m always seeking new ways to work my life around writing time. What an uphill battle!

This past week, I read: “The 8-Minute Writing Habit: Create a Consistent Writing Habit That Works With Your Busy Lifestyle (Growth Hacking For Storytellers #3)” by Monica Leonelle  

Book Review:

For an indepth look at why you’re not producing more words like you think you should, add this book to your writer’s reference library and beware—Leonelle doesn’t care about stepping on toes. She tells it like it is and bluntly explains how to change your mindset. This book will give you several great soul-searching moments.

Here are two passages that really hit home with me:

1)            “butt-in-chair” … “this is officially the worst advice ever unleashed on poor, unsuspecting hoping-to-be writers.” Monica Leonelle

2)            “Right now, you are probably pitting your writing goals against all the other important things in your life, and writing is losing every time. The trick is to stop pitting them against each other.” Monica Leonelle

Trying to push myself to make time for “butt-in-chair” has definitely caused me to resent the reasons I can’t spend more time writing. How about you?

From two teenagers who are always hungry to day-job obligations that run into early evenings spent at the office, I’m grouchy and frustrated, wondering why bother to finish a novel that’s buzzing my head. I’m not telling you anything you don’t know, but what a great new thought process: can I make writing the most important part of my day instead of the feeling like everything else is keeping me from my writing? As Leonelle says, “…you have to integrate writing into your life.”

She definitely gave me some food for thought. I have so many ideas for stories and there is only 24 hours in a day, but I’m not dead yet! Maybe it’s time for a mindset change. My writing is just as important as day-job deadlines and cooking dinner. Moving onward…

REF: Leonelle, Monica. The 8-Minute Writing Habit: Create a Consistent Writing Habit That Works With Your Busy Lifestyle (Growth Hacking For Storytellers #3) (p. 2). Spaulding House. Kindle Edition.

 

Publishing Possibilities


Wordsmith Six members have been writing and critiquing together for many years now, and we are continually exploring opportunities for our work. It’s very exciting to move into new creative venues, and with that I’m happy to announce that two of our members have started their own publishing companies!

Yesterday’s Dream – Today’s Reality!

Rory C. Keel is now accepting clients for Carpe Diem Publishers, offering complete services for authors. Rory will take your book wide, in print and eBook, and offers a variety of services to help you realize your dream of holding that book in your hand.

Carpe Diem Publishers will be publishing our Route 66 collection of novellas soon. Stay tuned. We will let you know as work progresses.

Website: http://carpediempublishers.com

Always Keep Moving Forward

If you read this blog on a regular basis, you know my books did not find a home through traditional publishing route, and that’s why I started NKB BOOKS, LLC. I write stories set in the West about the days of horse drawn wagons, cowboys, and the wild Texas frontier. Definitely not something that would appeal to a mainstream audience, but hopefully there is are readers out there who appreciate a good western story as much as I do.  I’m working to release my body of work, and that means hiring cover designers, finding formatters, and planning promotional events.  I am also working with several people on a few co-authoring projects that I will be publishing through my new LLC. I like the control so far, but it is a lot of work. I am not taking on any new clients at this time.

Website: http://nataliebright.com

Keep writing and always be on the lookout for new opportunities. You never know where this crazy journey will take you!

How Do You Define Success as a Writer?


How Do You Define Success as a Writer?
 
by N. Bright
 

The Texas High Plains Writers program this past Saturday featured a Q&A panel of authors. Two traditionally published and two Indie Authors answered questions about their writing process and the publishing industry. Jodi Thomas, New York Times Bestselling author of 48 books, moderated. It was a fun morning, and I was honored to be a part of the panel along with Linda Broday who writes a successful series for SourceBooks, and Ryan McSwain who is an Indie Author.

 
“Secrets of Success” was the title of the program, and Jodi pointed out that each writer can define success in totally different ways. For very successful, tradtionally published authors, success might be the number one spot on a national best seller list, or seeing their book on a movie screen. As I juggle two teenagers, a busy day job, and all of the ideas in my head, success for me is holding one of my stories in hand. As an Indie Author, that is the immediate pay off for me personally, and then the book promotion is another faucett of the business that will continue through the long term.
 
The morning discussion included some great tips.
 
Jodi says, “Pick a lane,” which in some cases mean genre. Do you want to write kid lit or mainstream romance? In today’s publishing environment, I take it to mean considering the best publishing option for your work in progress as well. Every project may be different and writers have so many choices today. 

Jodi told us, “Everyone in this room has talent. Are you willing to do what it takes? Pick a lane. Develop your career.”

 
Linda says to include lots of conflict in your stories and use true events and personal stories to add depth to your writing.
 
Ryan keeps a character file, where he puts specifics about his characters as they develop. His ‘supplemental file’ is a list of changes that need to be made in previous chapters as he writes the new chapters. Instead of stopping to make changes, he references the supplemental file and makes the changes to his completed manuscript all at one time.
 
Traditional or Indie involves time and money, but as I told the group, it’s a completely different mindset. If you have a high concept book and you think readers all over the world will read it, then you have to go where the agents and editors are. You need to summarize your book into a one sentence pitch, and you have to practice that pitch. Attend conferences and sign up for appointments with the traditional publishing house professionals who will want your book. Your book must be exceptional in order to rise above the other 500 writers pitching during that same weekend.

As an Indie Author you have to write an exceptional book too, and then you have some aditional decisions to make. Pick a genre. Pick your target market. Pick a writing organization. Pick a cover designer. Pick a professional editor. The work is endless, but the rewards are extremly satisfying.

The secret to success takes hard work, but can be defined according to your terms. Jodi reminded us of one of our favorite local authors who, sadly, is no longer with us. DeWanna Pace always said that her writing goals never involved big dollar signs.
“It’s not the money,” she’d say. “I want people to love my work.”
Do you live in or near the Amarillo area? Texas High Plains Writers meets on the 3rd Saturday of every other month.

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!

Promote You:THIS FOR THE LONG HAUL, BABY


Promote You:

THIS IS FOR THE LONG HAUL, BABY

By Natalie Bright

If you think about that statistical report which estimates a new title is published every five minutes on Amazon, you might start to hyperventilate and then throw up your hands in frustration. How can we ever get noticed in such a swirling frenzy of titles? That’s a lot of options for readers and your book will probably not be an instant success. Most likely your launch will not result in a flurry of sales.

The good news is there are more ways to publish your work now, more than ever before. Your digital eBook may very well live longer than you.

Case in point, this week I received an order from a public library for a book I self-published in 2010. The ISBN cataloging system did its job, because I took the advice of several Indie Authors and purchased a block of ISBNs myself from Bowker. My book is now on it’s way from Texas to Missouri. That book project and promotion is long since done, but the title and contents are new to the librarian who just discovered it in 2017. It was all very official. I received a purchase order and she will receive a copy of OIL PEOPLE for her collection.

My book went to Missouri!

So the question to ask yourself is this:

How important is it that you find readers, and are you in it for the long haul?

Are you prepared to tweet, create memes, talk to groups, write blog posts, and plan ad campaigns around your books? Are you prepared to do all you can to promote your titles forever?

Your eBooks do not have a limited shelf life.

In reality, the chance of future readers discovering your books depends solely on you, whether you are traditionally or Indie published. And I just realized this week, there is no deadline to that discover-ability.

Remember that seven year old book I mentioned at the beginning of this post? Guess I better start thinking about new ways to revive the blurb.

Carry on, writers–we’ve got some promoting to do, and in your spare time, keep writing!

TAGs:

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!

PROMOTING YOU: Amazon Author Central


PROMOTING YOU: Amazon Author Central

Natalie Bright

Frontiers in Writing conference, hosted by an Amarillo writer’s group,
featured Debbie Macomber as the keynote speaker many years ago. If this name
is unfamiliar to you, Macomber is one of today’s most popular women’s
fiction and romance author, with more than 200 million copies of her books
in print worldwide. As a newbie writer, I was definitely star struck.

One of the best pieces advice I’ve ever heard, and something that stuck with
me, came from Macomber. She said, “Do one thing every day that will promote
you or your writing, no matter how big or small. At the end of the year
you’ll have a list of 365 things done.”

Over the next several months, I’ll be blogging about “Promoting You” with
topics ranging from big things that might take you several hours, to not so
big things taking you several minutes. In the end, it’s all good and it’s
all important to your career as an author.

AMAZON AUTHOR PAGES

If you have books listed for sell on amazon.com, right under the book title
is your name. If you hover over the name, a window should pop up with a link
to your Amazon Author Page. Every author can access this feature,
traditional or Indie.

Join at https://authorcentral.amazon.com and sign in using the Amazon
account where you publish your books. Be aware that Amazon has rules regarding multiple accounts for sellers.

Once you have set up your account, “Add a book” which can be searched by
ISBN or title. It will appear on your Author Central site within 24 hours,
usually less, has been my experience. Approval from your publisher may take
several days, if you are not self-published.

You can post or edit original content at any time, such as a picture, add
your bio, pictures of author events, videos, and link your blog with RSS
feed. Your blog posts will automatically appear within 24 hours. There is
even an events calendar.

To Do this Week:

1. Set-up your Amazon Author page at Author Central.
2.  Create an Amazon Author Page URL link and let everyone know by tweeting
the link.
3. Tell us about it, too – post the link in the comment section below.