Writing Articles

Articles by a writer for fellow writers

Beta Reading Process Part 2: Writers vs. Readers

Diving further into the beta reading process, this time around we’re going to explore the readers themselves. Who makes the better beta reader, fellow writers or straight-up readers? Well, I’m afraid there will be no concrete answer to this question; however, I will share my own observations, because these two groups did bring different input to the table during the beta process.

For starters, I had three fellow writers (two who finished) and four readers — a good mix all said and done, and I highly recommend a good mix between the lot.  In particular, I noticed that the straight-up readers tended to finish the manuscript faster; two were scary fast and have already been sniffing around for the sequel (I need to get on that). Readers brought up some great points up, some of which were shared by the writers, but for the most part were very light on their comments and not as critical. I like to say they rolled with the punches. They were patient and waited until the end to draw conclusions, much like one would do with a published novel — to a point. Continue reading

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Beta Readers, A Method

Beta readers provide feedback prior to querying or before self-publishing. They often provide invaluable pointers regarding a manuscript, though some might also be slackers. It happens.

Currently, I’m wrapping up additional revisions to my sci-fi novel, Heritage Lost. This has been a long ongoing project that undoubtedly, if you routinely follow my blog, you’ve read about and might be wondering “How long is she going to ticker with it?” Well, after continuing to hit a brick wall in querying process, I dialed back and decided to complete a portion of the writing process that most writers complete: aka the beta reader process.

I skipped over this not because I hadn’t seen any value to the process, but due to some personal hang-ups (I’d been burned once) and my alpha readers had all been extremely positive. However, when I received a string of basic form letter rejections, I decided I needed more eyes on it — specifically reader eyes. My alternative motive was I’m deeply considering self-publishing. It is still my goal to query more agents and a couple of publishers that accept unsolicited manuscripts, but I’m also viewing self-publishing as more viable, and I wanted an idea of how my book might be received by a variety of readers.

So I embarked on the beta reading process and gleaned quite a bit from the experience, with some readers confirming some of the concerns I harbored on a few points after my last read-through. I also learned a lot about the beta reading process, and what I’d do differently next time. Continue reading

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Protecting Yourself

Free can come with a huge price. Are you willing to pay in the five figures?

Copyright is a challenging topic if you don’t have a law degree and haven’t studied up on it. Lord knows I am no expert myself, so I try to use as many of my own photos/graphics and public domain photos as possible on this blog — with a few exceptions that I feel fall under fair use (I could be wrong). I have also used “free” stock photos from MorgueFile.com. But how free are these  stock photos?

Well, you might notice that several photos have disappeared from this blog. It is a precautionary measure after reading Allison Puryear’s post, “I Got Sued (For Something You’ve Done!)” … It chilled me to the core. While MorgueFile is a legit website, a photographer could upload a photo after its been copyright and then collect huge bucks from an unsuspecting blogger, etc. — and it is completely legal.

Read Puryear’s article and stay safe on the internet! If you are in doubt when it comes to something being copyrighted, it might be best to pass that image/graphic by in favor of your own creation. One other protection to take when downloading free stock photos, or even purchasing them, is to screenshot the screen as you are doing so and keep all receipts.

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Gen Con Recap #1: Structuring Life for Creativity

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One of the best seminars I had attended during Gen Con 2016 was Structuring Life for Creativity, which was presented by Sandra Tayler. It is a subject that I think a lot of writers struggle with; after all, we are all busy. Sometimes, our creative selves and our writing take second fiddle to life’s craziness. I have struggled between work (where I write and edit all daylong), freelance editing, my own personal writing and editing, social life, and leisure. I had good practices in place throughout high school, college, and even working in retail. But recently in my adult life, I’ve been struggling to create, so Tayler’s presentation really struck a chord.

Since attending her session, I have been writing regularly again, except recently … but it is a secret project that taps into another creative side of myself. I walked away completely refreshed and want to share some of my key takeaways from Tayler’s seminar:

Continue reading

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Post-Gen Con 2016: Reexamining Writing Goals

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My Gen Con 2016 badge and Writer’s Symposium program.

The Gen Con Writer’s Symposium was amazing. I walked away completely refreshed and with a bumper crop of information and ideas. I cannot recommend enough finding and attending similar events to get the latest information about what is going on in the publishing industry or just to get inspired to take your craft to the next level. The Gen Con Writer’s Symposium stretched from Thursday through Sunday (Aug. 4-7) and offered more than 200 hours of programming and events. There was also a Writer’s Avenue in the main vendor hall; however, since my day was packed with seminars, I missed the opportunity to visit and mingle with fellow writers in addition to agents and editors from some of the main publishing house. Next year I will be better prepared and make sure I leave plenty of time to visit that avenue because valuable connections can be made doing that as was pointed out during one of the seminars I attended.

Writers wait to begin their next seminars at the Westin in Indy during Gen Con 2016.

Writers wait to begin their next seminars at the Westin in Indy during Gen Con 2016.

In all I attended eight and a half hours worth of seminars on Saturday, Aug. 6. I say half because I was allowed into Eric Flint’s “Business of Writing: Understanding the Publishing Industry” half way through its start. The bulk of the seminars I attended were Business of Writing related since that is where I currently am in my own creative writing career. I did– for which I’m extremely grateful for–work in a couple Writer’s Craft sessions and one Writer’s Life seminar, which was invaluable.

Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing some of the highlights from the Gen Con seminars I attended. The first, which I hope to have up this Friday, will be from “Writer’s Life: Structuring Life to Support Creativity.” I have been struggling with balancing life, energy, and my need to be creative, so this one was a session I truly needed. I know many other writers also struggle with carving out time to write, so hopefully, they too will be able to glean something from the session’s highlights.

Since attending “Structuring Life,” I have been steadily been making progress on Heritage Lost‘s sequel, and I feel in a better place in my creative life, even if I still need to continue training my brain, but all in good time!

Perhaps my greatest take away is I’m halting my agent hunt, except for one particular agent that I have in mind. Instead, I will do yet another read-through of Heritage Lost before directly querying publishing houses that allow unsolicited manuscripts. All of the panelists (and they included writers, editors from publishing houses, and an agent) over several seminars agreed new writers were more likely to be published through the slush pile than through an agent. It is important to note they all stressed there is no one way to publishing; however, directly approaching publishing houses had been my original path. I diverted from it when I kept getting advice that I needed to get an agent first, so I caved.

Additionally, in a month or two, I will probably have exciting news about another venture that I’m hoping to see launch in October, but I want to make sure all of my ducks are in a row before I share anymore on that. Until then, I’m excited to share some of what I learned at Gen Con!

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Staying Uplifted While Querying

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The querying process is one of the hardest steps for a writer to face — even more so than the daunting editing process. A finished manuscript, after all, is our baby, and it’s hard to kick your baby out into the cold cruel world. And trust me, it can be a cruel world.

I’ve been in the midst of querying since February, with a few breaks in between when I’ve been overly busy. And I have been met with rejection after rejection, in some cases where my name couldn’t even be copied and pasted — I have a new appreciation of “Dear John” letters, ha!

However, I keep plodding along in hopes that my book will eventually find the right agent who will click with it and be as passionate about the project as I am (which is extremely important in your agent). Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard to keep going, especially when you continue to receive form letters without any feedback — no idea if your pitch is failing; if it’s something to do with your book or your writing; or if the market is just over-saturated in the genre.

Still, no matter how disheartening, a writer must press on if they are to have any hope of finding an agent or publisher. Here are some of the things that have kept me going during the process. Continue reading

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#WriterConfessionals No. 1

Writer Confessionals

Trying out a new series where I share moments when I was a horrible writer to my characters. Feel free to join in the fun with your own #WriterConfessionals, and don’t forget to share your darkest deeds!

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Finding the right beginning

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Some beginnings come easy; others, well, they bite, claw, and resist like no tomorrow, leaving behind frazzled writers. Take for instance my novel Heritage Lost: It’s beginning stuck from the very beginning, back when I conceptualized the novel in college. It’s sequel, which I’m am beginning, is already on its fourth (I think) beginning. None of them wanted to work; however, this one feels good. And funny enough, each “chapter one” has been moving forward chronological as I tried to nail down where the readers should be reintroduced into the world at. Continue reading

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Adama & Roslin — The ultimate couple

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[If you have not watched the revisioned Battlestar Galactic yet, but would like to without spoilers, do not read any further.]

As promised in yesterday’s post about writing romance, here is my ultimate couple: Commander (later Admiral) William Adama and President Laura Roslin. They pretty much nail every single bullet point in what I like to see when it comes to romance, and I can hands down say they are my favorite couple–and there are tons of fantastic couples in fantasy and science fiction.

So why this couple as my ultimate couple? First and foremost, Adama and Roslin are strong characters in their own right, each with their own goals and position in the overall story. But really what makes them my ultimate couple is this: They are a mature couple whose relationship evolves over the course of four seasons–even after years, I still reflect fondly on this couple. (And yes, I usually have a few tears in my eyes while doing so.) Not only does it also have big moments, but it also has plenty of small ones, making their relationship nature and more real: They are a couple you root for and applaud. Continue reading

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Don’t forget the ordinary moments

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I don’t have much of a romantic bone in my body. I will admit to being a bit more the hopeless romantic at one time, and it showed in my writing: the idea of eternal love, the “one.” In many ways, I shared many qualities with Anna from Frozen as she contemplates finding her “one” as her world opens. However, as Anna discovered, life is seldom so neat . . . though she probably still found her “one” before the movie wrapped up (It’s Disney. They love their pairing).

This realization, as a young adult, that in life we are, well, human–it soured me on romance by killing its idealism. I even reworked my fantasy novel to remove a wedding and throw in some romantic roadblocks. Even despite that, I still couldn’t completely kick romance to the curb and kept two really good couples in that book. And now as I get older, my views on romance have morphed to embrace the humanity involved in it, that it is our human flaws and shortcomings that create memorable, enjoyable romances. Continue reading

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