The Three Rs: Reading, wRiting, and Roaming

May 25, 2017

I’m so pleased that middle-grade author K.W. Penndorf has stopped to talk about her writing adventure with us. I've read the first book in her Freya series, Freya and the Dragon Egg and give it an enthusiastic five-star review! This Saturday is the realease date for the second book in the series, Freya and the Battle at the Aal Thing. If you're in the Appleton, Wisconsin area you can take part in the release celebration at 1 pm at the Barnes & Noble at 4705 W. Grande Market Drive, Grand Chute. 

ABOUT BOOK ONE: Freya's family is wonderful. Just not to her. After all, her older sister loves to talk about "pulling a Freya" - a term for any mistake she makes, her younger sister publicly reads from Freya's diary without ever getting reprimanded, and her parents hardly take notice of her. But that is all about to change when her father, Denmark's renowned Viking archaeologist, asks her to hide a precious artifact where no one will find it. Freya jumps at the chance to prove her worth and suddenly discovers herself transported to a magical forest where she comes face to face with not only real Vikings, but a clan of sprites and a Berserk as well. In search of a way home, Freya unearths a realm of adventure and a path to greatness she is sure her family will revere.

ABOUT BOOK TWO: No Vikings, breathing fire or closing realms. That means this weekend’s birthday party can truly be full of ‘non-adventuresome’ fun and excitement. All Freya has to do is keep her father’s national homecoming celebrations from overshadowing her one little day of the year to shine. Easier said than done when even her class partner for a research paper can’t stop asking about the latest dig and excavation.

But when a field trip to Yggdrasil, the Tree of Life, reveals her focus has been on the wrong thing, she finds herself back in the era she so desperately wants to be keep away from.

With a need to locate Chieftain Harald, Freya discovers a sprite’s secret, putting her on the path to battling Ragnar once again. Yet when that battle includes a round of the game kubb, some meddlesome weather, and her second transformation, will it prove to be too much?

 

First, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to publish your first novel?

Sure! I think to sum it up in one word, I would say "persistence."  First, I believed in my story. I think every author does and should.  But it wasn't until agents gave me positive feedback that I told myself others believed in it too. I queried many agents, but it was attending conferences and pitch sessions where I landed my publisher.

I am so excited for the second book in your Viking-themed Freya series. I loved Freya and the Dragon Egg! (And can’t wait to read Freya and the Battle at the Aal Thing.  Where did you get your idea for this series?

Thank you so much! I got the idea 13 years after having visited Denmark for my sister's wedding. While in Europe, I toured Viking museums and a Viking graveyard. Apparently, the graveyard stuck out to me because all those years later, I got a vision of a young girl holding an oval object while at the graveyard. I don't know where that idea came from, but there it was. So, I decided to develop it by figuring out who the girl was, what the object was, why she had it, and so forth on.

Did you have to do a lot of research into Viking lore and Norse mythology or did you already have a lot of these great details tucked away?

I've had to do a TON of research for the series because I never grew up knowing much Norse mythology. The only thing in my series which I had a bit of prior knowledge about were Berserks. In fact, it was that tiny bit of Norse Mythology, that one simple thing, which spurred my path to unearthing other gems about Viking beliefs which I've woven into my series. I love doing research because it's almost as if I'm discovering my own book!

I know that this will be a nine-book series when you are all done. That seems a bit daunting. Can you explain why there’ll be that number of books to tell Freya’s story?

I love reading series. There's something about falling in love with characters and worlds that I don't want to let go of after one book. So, I knew my story just had to be a series. I also knew I wanted something nontraditional like 5 or 6 in the series. But, when in doing research I soon discovered the Vikings believed in 9 mythological realms, I knew immediately my series would need to take me to all 9 of them via a series of 9 books.

I love that there are so many mythology-inspired stories for the middle-grade reader right now. Do you have some favorites in the genre that you also like to read? (Or maybe you have some thoughts about the popularity of mythology in books for this age group.)

I think it's very befitting that middle-grade readers gravitate towards mythological stories or that writers gravitate to setting their mythological series for the middle grade reader because these are the years mythology is introduced to students. I always liked learning about things in school that were tangible in real life, like this example. Kids are able to learn about myths in school then delve deeper into those worlds by heading to bookstores and libraries.

I do feel the need to point out that while your books are written for children, I know adults can enjoy them as well. (I definitely did!) Are you finding that parents are reading these books along with their children? (I think that these books would be a great summer reading adventure for parents and kids together!)

Hahaha, I'm finding that parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles are reading the book before gifting it to the intended because they couldn't wait for the child to read it first!

Freya is a modern girl thrust into a totally different world (I don’t want to give too much away.) I love how she handles these twists and turns. She seems very real to me and I am rooting for her from the beginning. Do you have a vivid memory of your childhood years that helped you to create such a believable character?

I had a second-grade teacher who during story time would read from her childhood diary and I absolutely loved listening to her stories. It was fascinating, for one, to think my teacher could have ever been a young girl, and two, to hear about her vivid adventures with a cast of family members who all jumped off the pages of her diary reenacting the scenes as if on a movie screen before my eyes. I wanted that sort of vibe for my characters, the sort that makes them come to life.

I have to ask about your delightful chapter art and book covers. Can you tell us a little bit about the artist and how those additions happen? Were you consulted on these artistic decisions or were they a complete surprise?

Oh my goodness, I can't say enough about the artist! Her name is Lisa and she gets my vision perfectly. I'm lucky to be able to give her my ideas, and she somehow works her magic based off of my brief descriptions or a montage of sketches I send her way.

I know you have seven books to go for Freya, but what other projects can you see yourself pursuing in the future?

I have another series I'd like to write, something along the lines of Agatha Christie for kids, and I also have a stand alone for the young adult genre. Sometimes it's hard to decide what to plot next: one of these books, or the continuation of the FREYA series!

How can readers discover more about you and you work?

Website: www.kwpenndorf.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kwpenndorfauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kwpenndorf       @KWPenndorf

Amazon Author Page: http://amazon.com/author/kwpenndorf

Goodreads: KW Penndorf

Instagram: KW Penndorf

 

Thanks so much for visiting us! It was a pleasure to get to know you better!!

Thank you so much Valerie for inviting me to do your blog! I appreciate you allowing me the opportunity to speak to your followers about Freya!

 

May 16, 2017

 

 

 

 

The strength of patience, gentleness, and intuitiveness.

She’s a badass. The phrase has become shorthand for describing female protagonists in books and on screen. The term has its purpose. It implies strength, power, and an ability to punch out opposing pressure, whatever form it may take. For me, however, the word “badass” and its masculine overtone has become overused; it’s jumped the shark. It made the leap when a fashion blog I read began describing every shopper-mom contributor as such. My question is this: What else is she? Further, what about her feminine traits? Why aren’t they highlighted? Does their invisibility in modern vernacular make them unappealing or weak?

My assertion is that the term “badass” is not only overused, it does female protagonists a disservice. It fails readers in that it dismisses, or worse discredits, the power of feminine characteristics. While being a badass isn’t bad, I argue that there’s beyond badass strength in patience, gentleness, and intuitiveness. It takes far more mental toughness to respond to an antagonist with wisdom than brutishness. (It takes incredibly strong writing, too!) Who doesn’t relish a female character with impeccable timing, a sharp wit, and a discerning eye?

(I’m not suggesting that protagonists with in-your-face assertiveness and physical strength be eliminated in modern narratives. I’m saying that editors should seek and readers be offered a balance. Just as a powerful badass character is embraced or aspired to, so should a gentle or wise-beyond-her-years character. Such diversity in female protagonists is fair and serves arguments for inclusiveness.)

The strength of patience

Which takes more strength: Shouting an obscenity or holding one’s tongue? In my mind, it takes more strength to be silent rather than lash out. Offering a character who utters a wise reply in the face of adversity rather than respond in brutish ways makes the character more interesting and intelligent. It’s not that a female character can’t be physically strong. It’s that she evaluates her options and chooses to wait until she is in control before responding. Therefore, she has a greater, more advantageous impact on the outcome of events. Now, that’s a female protagonist I want to know more about!

Embedded in the characteristic of patience is wisdom. A character who is wise enough to know how to respond is compelling. I want to read about a woman who knows when a sharp retort is justified and when it isn’t. While she shows force on occasion, she also chooses to withdraw and respond later when it suits her purpose. That’s a wise woman. Again, that’s a female lead I want to read about.

 Strong enough to be gentle

A female lead who is compassionate to those who do and don’t deserve it isn’t just strong, she’s a saint.  She’s compelling, she’s unusual. How did she get that way? Who instilled that in her? What tragedy in her backstory—compassion and gentleness often are inspired by calamitous events—created this character? I want to know why and how she can respond to conflicts in such an admirable way when others can’t or won’t. Further, could her gentleness be a reverse Achilles heel that impacts the plot? Or, could compassion be something she gains during the ascension of the story? Intriguing!

Intuitiveness is sexy

By sexy, I don’t mean physically attractive; I mean trending. Reading about a female lead who possesses a street-smart, macro-outlook on the world and human nature is modern; it’s beyond badass. The character is keen. She relishes her female intuition and she doesn’t apologize for it or deny it. For better and worse, she embraces it as part of her being and she uses it to overcome obstacles. I want to know a champion of feminine sensibilities. I want to read about a character who is wise enough to be patient and strong enough to react with compassion in difficult circumstances—and who reads people and their behaviors with the instinct of a Shakespearean scholar.

That’s sexy. She’s a strong character with feminine traits. That’s a woman I appreciate and want to know. She makes me think; she makes me want to read more about her. Is it easy to create and write about such a character? No, but then writing never is easy. (Note: I’m not advocating perfection in a female lead, nor am I saying describe her with a laundry list of feminine traits. As always, show don’t tell.)

If all females are badass, there’s nothing new about them

Using feminine traits in a modern, interesting way is new; it’s beyond badass. It isn’t easy, and it could veer into perfection territory, which is the kiss of death for a character. Conflict, both internal and external, is necessary for a successful story. A character mustn’t be perfect in her femininity; rather, she should embrace it to solve problems. Do gentleness, patience, and intuitiveness cause complications for her? Sure, but that’s part of the fun. As writers, it’s up to us to show readers new ways to embrace characteristics that are outside-the-box strong in their own way.

How can you go beyond badass to celebrate feminine characteristics? My advice is to write a list of what you think they are, then incorporate two or three to give your characters depth and appeal. The exercise may impact your story in ways you wouldn’t imagine.

Happy writing! Tracey Kathryn

Blog Shout Out: Flogging the Quill

Getting feedback, raw feedback, isn’t easy. It’s putting your work “out there” for everyone to evaluate. Unnerving, but into the breach writers must go! The blog, “Flogging the Quill” offers writers a chance to get their first page evaluated for free by an experienced writer-editor and readers at-large. It’s a chance to find out if your first page works. Brutal, but necessary. Wouldn’t you rather know about your first page’s effectiveness before submitting to an agent? Give it a try. Ray Rhamey blogs about writing and he’s a fantastic source for all things related to writing and books.

May 9, 2017

My April reads were mainly done on my trip to Spain . . . and mostly during our airplane adventures. (You can read more about that in last week’s post if you missed it.) I can give an enthusiastic thumbs up to three of the four.  So why mention the fourth book at all?

If you’re like me, you buy a lot of books and that can add up. I appreciate very much some of the daily deal type newsletters I subscribe to that give me a list of low priced or free titles each day. My favorites are BookBub, The Fussy Librarian, and Book Gorilla. So, the book that’s about to get a so-so review from me was a freebie on BookBub . . . a historical romance entitled Nellie by Cynthia Woolf. The title character suffers the loss of her husband in the Civil War and then becomes a mail-order bride to a wealthy saloon owner in San Francisco. It’s a very formulaic romance and the male main character annoyed the heck out of me with how he patronized his new wife. The climactic moment of peril for the Nellie was so transparently broadcast that it just didn’t work for me. There are some redeeming moments in this book and it has a solid 3.6 rating (out of 5) on Goodreads with more than 2000 reviews. Clearly, this author is well-known and well-received.

And that’s how her title obviously made it onto the BookBub site. BookBub won’t accept just any book . . . you must pitch them and hope that they’ll take you on for a deal of the day. While this is a paid service, it is an incredibly lucrative place to present your title if you’re an author. The book will be downloaded thousands and thousands of times with the resulting bump in reviews. This is valuable even when the book is offered for free because (like with this title) if it is the beginning of a series and the hope is, of course, that satisfied readers will purchase the rest of the books in the series. 

I often don’t review books at all if I find them rather ‘meh’. So why do I mention this title at all? I think it’s important to understand that these daily deal lists are a great place to pick up new titles without breaking the bank, but they are far from infallible for a recommended reading list. I will however continue to use them, because after all . . . I did get a few hours of entertainment for free.

Moving on to the stars of my April reading . . .

On My Honor: Real Life Lessons from America’s First Girl Scout by Shannon Henry Kleiber was a wonderful biography of Juliette Gordon Lowe, the founder of the Girl Scouts of America. Kleiber intersperses stories of Lowe’s life with her own experiences as Girl Scout troop leader and how the goals and life lessons of the scouting remain timeless even more than 100 years later.

I can’t say enough good things about Doctor Kinney’s Housekeeper by Sara Dahmen. This is a wonderful western romance novel that is in no way formulaic. The unexpected twists and turns as well as the rich description of a western frontier town and the people who inhabit it made this a page turner. I am excited to read more from this author and have downloaded her other titles. (I’m not surprised this book has won the Grand Prize Laramie Award for Western Historical Fiction!) This author has also taken her research into vintage cooking implements to a new level by starting her own cookware company called Housekeeper Crockery

Finally, I picked up a copy of St. Mary’s Private Dancer, the first book in the Shepherd Murdoch Mystery Series that features a semi-retired female pastor as the main character. This book was written by Wisconsin author Blair Hull who happens to know a lot about being a reverend as she is one herself, but that doesn’t stop her from taking on gritty topics with her fiction. The no-nonsense main character is going to be fun to hang around with in this series. Strong dialogue, well-developed characters, intricate plotting, and fast-paced action have made me a huge fan.

Again, in April I read some unpublished manuscripts. I wish I could say more about them but ‘mums the word.’ I will heartily promote these books when they become available and am always grateful for a sneak peek! If you’re an author looking for feedback or editing assistance, check out my author services over at Lost Lake Press

Let me know what you’ve been reading lately. I’m also curious to know if you subscribe to one of the daily deal book lists I mentioned or any others you find interesting.

 

 

May 3, 2017

It’s been twelve months since I’ve typed those words and shared an interesting travel experience with you. This little adventure to Spain also fulfills April’s “Never done THIS Before” Challenge. Initially, I expected my new experience to include viewing the Semana Santa (Holy Week) processions and relying on my Spanish to navigate. (I was attempting to use English as little as possible.)  But, boy-oh-boy-oh-boy, we got a little more “experience” than we expected.

Here’s the short story: 

STORMS > DELAYED FLIGHTS > FULL GROUND STOP IN ATLANTA > MISSED FLIGHTS > NICE AIR FRANCE PEOPLE > LOST BAGS > MISSED TRAIN > MEAN TRAIN PEOPLE > NICE HOTEL PEOPLE > CLOTHES SHOPPING > TEARS > INTERESTING HOTEL > BEAUTIFUL ARCHITECTURE AND SCENERY > GREAT HOTEL > FOUND BAGS > GREAT FOOD > MORE GREAT FOOD > SPECTACULAR HOLY WEEK PROCESSION > EFFICIENT BUS TRAVEL > ANOTHER GREAT HOTEL > MORE DELICIOUS FOOD > FABULOUS GARDENS > MORE HOLY WEEK PROCESSIONS > MAKING NEW FRIENDS > DAMAGED PLANE > DELAYED FLIGHT > DELAYED BAGS > HOME

Is that enough for you? Or do you want the long story? LOL

Here goes . . . My husband and I travel quite a bit and let me just say in the grand scheme of airplane travel karma, we were probably due for some issues, and when it all begins with bad weather, there’s really no one to blame. You just need to make the best of it.

The day we were to depart a serious band of thunderstorms hit the Atlanta area—as a hub for Delta this was bad news for many Delta flights. A full stop on traffic in and out of Atlanta had a ripple effect that lasted for days and included at least 3000 canceled flights.  Luckily, the smart gate agent in Madison (WI), realized it’d be unlikely we’d make our connection to our Madrid flight and rebooked us on a later flight to Madrid via Paris. And thank goodness she did, because when we finally landing in Atlanta we couldn’t pull into a gate . . . all the gates were full with other airplanes. When we did pull in, we dashed to the gate for the Paris flight and found it still there. We got our boarding passes and a voucher for the boarding passes we’d need to pick up in Paris. We should have been suspicious of this little carbon copy piece of paper, but we didn’t ask any questions as we were so glad to be on a flight that was at least going to the right continent. We ended up siting on the tarmac for two hours while the next band of thunderstorms rolled through. When we landed in Paris eight hours later, our flight to Madrid was long gone, but my trusty iPad told me there were more flights to be had, so we went to the AirFrance rebooking desk with high hopes.

“Can I have your boarding passes for zee flight you missed?” the agent asked.

“We don’t have boarding passes. They couldn’t print them out in Atlanta, but they gave us this instead and said this would get us our boarding passes,” we said, handing over the weird carbon form.

“I don’t know what zees is,” said the agent. “I need zee other part. Zee part with your ticket number.”

“Um, ah, that’s all they gave us,” we said.

“Zat is a problem,” the agent says. “I don’t know how to find you in zee system without zis number.”

“Uh-oh,” we said.

I’ll spare you the continued play by play, but suffice it to say that after keying in all of our information from the printed KLM/Delta receipt and a call to the Delta folks, it appeared we had two seats on a flight to Madrid that afternoon after a Delta lady came over to the AirFrance desk with her handy stamper which made our crazy carbon form official in some way. PHEW!

In Madrid, our bags weren’t there. (Neustro equipaje no esta aqui.) We filled out the lost baggage claim and headed to the train station, hoping to exchange our 11 am tickets to Sevilla for 11 pm tickets—the last train of the night.  The basic gist of the conversation was . . . that’s not possible and the train is full. (No es possible. El tren es lleno.) There went one night’s hotel cost down the drain, and it appeared we’d need to buy new tickets even though I had purposely bought first-class tickets that were changeable in the event there was a problem with our airplane travel. Shoulders squared and carry-on luggage in tow, we approached the ticket kiosks. We could handle this, right???  Um, not so much. Apparently, the RENFE Train ticket system in Spain HATES non-EU credit cards. A LOT! We decide to go to the customer service area. We knew we need to take a number but the machine had no more numbers. (La machina no tiene mas numeros.) Near tears, (me, not my husband) I realized we were done for the night. After 30 hours of travel, we needed sleep and went to the hotel where we already had reservations for later in the trip. The desk clerk was delightful and explained that RENFE is mean to everyone, and she could certainly book our tickets for the morning and print them out for us. “Muchas Gracias!!” Problem solved.  

A little sink laundry and two magherita pizzas later, we felt much more human. The next morning, we were ready to tackle the world—especially after a cappuccino, croissant, and freshly squeezed oj.

SEVILLA

(Now the real vacation begins!) Sevilla is home to the third largest cathedral in Europe (St. Peter’s in Rome and St. Paul’s in London are bigger). It is, however, the largest Gothic church in the world. It sits on the site of a mosque which was torn down in 1401.  You can see for yourself in these amazing pictures.

 

The Court of the Orange Trees is a remnant from the earlier mosque’s Patio de los Naranjos, as seen here from the Giralda bell tower—which was also part of the earlier mosque structure. (Today- by law- no building in the center of Sevilla may be higher than the statue on top of this tower.) In these views of Sevilla from the bell tower you can see part of the Alcazar and the bull fighting arena in the distance. And here you can see we are much happier travelers than we were the previous evening!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Alcazar was originally a 10th-century palace built for the leaders of the local Moorish state and what’s neat is that it still functions as a royal palace—the oldest in use in Europe. The Islamic-style or Mudejar architecture is beautifully detailed and the gardens seem to go on forever. (There are orange trees everywhere.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I SHOULD HAVE JUST BOUGHT A DRESS!

We checked back at the hotel and there was no bag delivery from the airline. (big sigh) I looked down at the bagged-out knees of my travel leggings and knew shopping was next on the list. El Corte Ingles is a big department store that was recommended to us by our hotel. I explained that the airline lost our luggage. (La linea aerea perdio el equipaje.) This elicited sympathetic nods and assistance from helpful sales people. However, let me tell you, ladies, if you don’t appreciate clothes shopping in the U.S., you will not be happy doing this in a foreign country where you have to convert size charts and then guess. UGH! I just wanted a pair of jeans and a shirt. In the end, yes, I must admit, there were a few dressing-room tears but ultimately -- success!

GRANADA

The next day we took an early train to Granada. We stayed at the absolutely stunningly gorgeous Alhambra Palace Hotel with views of the city.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Touring the Alhambra was rather magical. It was the last Moorish stronghold in Europe where the Nazarids (an ethnically diverse group of Spanish Muslims) ruled until 1492. Their grand palace (Palacio Nazaries) had stunning architecture. The gardens here are massive and, again, beautiful. We were lucky to be here in the spring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Palm Sunday morning, our luggage arrived! Yippee!!

Our primary reason for timing our trip this way, was to see the elaborate Semana Santa processions in Granada in particular. The processions have two floats, one that depicts Jesus, typically in a holy week setting and the other that reveres the Virgin Mary. These processions include many, many people . . . just to carry one of these incredibly heavy (2000+ lb) floats you need a team of 24 to 48 men. Is this part of Spain, you can’t see them as the floats are skirted. The cloaked and hooded figures are a common feature as well. The robe is called a nazareno the hood is called a capirote and are used to conceal the face of the wearer or penitent so the person can demonstrate their penance while still masking their identity. They carry processional candles or crosses and some may walk the streets barefoot or with shackles on their feet as a further demonstration of their penance.  

CORDOBA

Cordoba’s winding alleyways are kind of tricky to navigate, but rather charming in their own way. The main reason to visit Cordoba is the Mezquita . . . a mosque which dates from 784 AD and has at its center a full-sized 16th century church. Two things are remarkable here: 1. That the Christians didn’t tear down the mosque as they had in so many other Moorish cities. 2. And that the placement of an elaborate church in the center of the mosque creates the most intriguing architectural pairing I have ever seen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MADRID

In Madrid, we returned to our (now favorite) hotel (The Hotel Urban), savored the city’s restaurants, enjoyed countless paintings in the Prado, and wandered the paths of both Madrid’s botanical garden and its seemingly-endless Parque del Buen Retiro. (the park of the good retreat).

However, the best part of our Madrid experience was waiting for the Holy Thursday procession in the Plaza Mayor where we made friends with a mom and son from Venezuela who now live in Madrid. Our conversation was incredibly informative as we discussed the rapidly deteriorating situation in Venezuela and the details of the procession we were about to see. The floats in Andalusia to the south all have skirts that hide the “carriers” from view. However, here in Madrid, the floats have three long beams that emerge from both ends of the float. It’s from these extended section of the beams that we see the carriers shuffling with immense effort belly to back in a slow rhythmic sway for up to three or four hours, depending on the length of the route. The effort expended is clearly visible on their faces.

While the week started a little rough, our trip ended up being an incredible experience. We learned a lot and had so much fun getting a taste of Spain. And my Spanish is “mucho mejor”.

However, there was some weird travel symmetry with our trip ending a little bit like it had started with a delayed plane and delayed luggage, but at least this time we were on our way home and it didn’t matter so much. The luggage did show up the next day. “So all’s well that ends well.”

 

 

 

April 25, 2017

In my journey through the steps of independent publishing, refining my writing skills, and most recently completing a successful agent search, I’ve come across some excellent information, tips, tools, and shortcuts that I think would be beneficial to any writer. Once a month, I’ll share the “best of” information and news from the publishing industry as well as feature other authors and writing instructors with tips to share. I am incredibly thankful for the assistance and advice given to me from writing and publishing professionals and am happy pay that forward.

Book News & Events

Indie Bookstore Day is Saturday, April 29! Plan to support your local indie bookstore this Saturday!!

Why is this important? Even though I buy a lot of books via Barnes and Noble and Amazon (like many readers and writers), I am indebted to the indie bookstores in southern Wisconsin. They are supportive of local authors (like myself) by carrying our books and being accessible for events. They are true partners with authors who publish independently or through smaller presses.

Here’s my honor roll of indie bookstores in Wisconsin that you should check out (not just this weekend, but whenever you can.) I know there are many more . . . feel free to add your favorites in the comment section below.

Mystery to Me Bookstore: 1863 Monroe Street, Madison (across from Trader Joe’s)

A Room of Ones Own Bookstore: 315 W. Gorham Street, Madison

Books & Company: 1039 Summit Avenue, Oconomowoc

Tribeca Gallery Café & Books: 401 E. Main Street, Watertown

Boswell Books: 2559 Downer Avenue, Milwaukee

The Little Read Book: 7602 W. State Street, Wauwatosa

 

Literary Festivals & Writing Conferences

April 28-30, 2017:  Green Bay “UntitledTown” Book and Author Festival. This will be Green Bay’s first-ever Book Festival, with readings, panels, craft lectures, and live storytelling. The majority of the conference is free. Ticketed events for special guest speakers: best-selling authors Margaret Atwood and Sherman Alexie.

May 12-13 -- The Lakefly Writers Conference, Oshkosh, WI. Learn more.  

 

May 20 – Book Not Published Party on Facebook 10 am – 6 pm

A variety of authors will be offering their advice in a Facebook event on May 20 from 10 am – 6 pm. Each half-hour segment offers a new topic that will be helpful to all authors – published and unpublished! Best of all . . . it’s free. Pop in and out as your schedule allows.

Featured Article

Goodreads: What is it and why you should use it (as both a reader and author.)

Goodreads Mission Statement: “To help people find and share the books they love . . . [and] to improve the process of reading and learning throughout the world.”

Goodreads is a free book website that allows readers to catalog what they’ve read, rate/review books, search for new books, and interact with authors. Authors have pages that feature their books, biography, links to their blog, website, social media, and ways to interact with readers via forums and questions. The site was founded in December of 2006 and has grown to more than 50 million members. Amazon acquired the site in March of 2013.

Long before I became a published author, I was using the Goodreads site to catalog the books I read and search for new stories that were similar to my interests. I think the platform is straightforward and easy to use.

As an author, setting up my goodreads author page was also relatively straightforward. Trust me, it’s worth the time to have access to this large audience. Take the time to read, social media expert Barb Drozdowich’s “6 Ways for Indie Authors to Use Goodreads to Network”. She explains shelves, friends/followers, groups, event announcements and touches on giveaways. For a more thorough explanation of Goodreads’ book giveaways, Catherine Ryan Howard’s article is also a must read. She delves into the how-to and what to expect. The comments from other authors (including frustrations) add (I hope) a layer of helpfulness as you navigate your first giveaway.

And if you’ve gotten this far, you might enjoy the article from Writer Unboxed by Sonja Yoerg: Repeat After Me: “Goodreads is My Friend”. She acknowledges that many authors have a love-hate relationship with Goodreads but goes on to explain that as authors we can’t afford to ignore this important site. Her main criticism that reviews are much harsher on Goodreads than on Amazon, is true. I’ve experienced this personally. (More on reviews later in the Forum.) Check out her tips for making Goodreads a ‘good’ experience for you.

Pre-Publication Information

Editing Your Work

The main reason I actually like to edit my work isn’t about editing at all. It’s the fact that I’m happy I have a completed rough (probably very rough) draft and that is a victory worth celebrating. So, I typically begin the editing process with less trepidation that most authors I know. (Although, if you are one of those folks who feels the same way, I’d love to hear from you below in the comment section.)

Through the years, I have pieced together editing advice from different sources and created a check-list that helps guide me through the editing process. (You can view it here.)

Recently, I found some excellent editing steps from Lisa Tener/Book Writing Coach. Her article “Editing Tips: 7 Smart Ways to Tighten Your Writing” is just that – SMART! At the end of the article, she asks readers for suggestions on how she could have tightened her own post. The edits are incorporated into the text of her blog in red with a strikeout. What a fun way to demonstrate what she’s teaching. 

Writers' Resources

Staying in the know is important. The Social Media Just for Writers website has a list of recommended blogs and podcasts you can access here

Post-Publication

Why Authors Shouldn’t Obsess Over One-Star Reviews

I had to laugh when I read that blog title on the Build Book Buzz website, because while that is good advice, it is easier said than done. I readily admit how I obsessed over one review in particular in my article “How to Respond to Negative Book Reviews” on the Indie B.R.A.G. website. 

But I think that it is a good reminder to authors to take a deep breath and embrace the three reasons to embrace one-star reviews as described in this article:

1. Readers aren’t stupid. (Meaning, the can usually see beyond the absurd and mean reviews.)

2. One-star reviews make four- and five-star reviews believable.

3. They can provide feedback that helps you improve the book or its description.

Take the time to read the whole article here.

The Audiobook Boom

I have never, ever listened to an audio book. (GASP!) I probably should have given the number of hours I’ve spent in the car, but for some reason I’ve never gravitated to this form of book consumption. I have noticed, however, the obvious uptick in the enjoyment of audiobooks. Do you like listening to books? I’d love to hear why or why not in the comments section below.

Digital Book World examines this growing trend and cites the latest stats from 2015 of $1.77 billion in sales was a 20% increase from the previous year and that The Wall Street Journal called audiobooks. “The fastest growing format in publishing.” 

The entire article is interesting, but what I found most applicable to my work as an author is the section which examines the options for authors to produce audiobooks. Previously, this was an expensive endeavor for the independent author, but that has changed considerably in recent years with new companies offering reasonably priced services to produce audiobooks.

Happy Reading & Writing, Valerie  

April 25, 2017

Are you the kind of writer who says, “Yay, editing!” or are you slightly less enthusiastic about the process? I think my main reason for enthusiasm, at least at first, is that I’m celebrating the completion of a rough draft.

I remember finishing the first draft of my first book. I was slightly in shock that I had actually written something that was book length. In fact, it was kind of long . . . at least 25,000 words too long, and I knew it was time for some editing. But I didn’t know where to begin. I knew I need to read through to search for typos and identify the sections that didn’t move my story forward, but I didn’t have a step-by-step approach.

Over the years and through five book-length manuscripts and multiple shorter pieces, I’ve created this checklist for attacking my rough drafts.

I write on a laptop and find that some editing must be done on the computer screen. Search, find, replace are invaluable, but finer editing for me is best done by reading from the printed page—I catch more language or grammar errors away from the computer screen.

Computer Editing – First Round:

1. Don’t forget the obvious—Run spell check. Did you know that you can set up ‘passive voice check’ in Word (plus a whole lot more.) You might like the other options to check for cliché’s, double negatives, oxford comma, slang, wordiness etc… Instructions for enabling these options can be found here.

2. Two spaces after a sentence. This is an old habit for those of us who learned to type on a typewriter. You can search and replace for “period space space” and replace it with “period space” (If you are concerned that you might be doing this in places where you shouldn’t be, you can do this one at a time.) You’ll be using the find/replace function in the tool bar at the top of a Word document.

3. Search for your frequently over-used words . . . mine are "really", "just", "had", and "that". Eliminate those that are unnecessary and substitute a different word where appropriate.

4. Search for dialogue that doesn’t need attribution . . . drop those “saids”.  

5. Lazy verbs . . . where possible you’ll want to eliminate “protagonist” + “sense verb”.  This list includes:

Watch

Look (at)

See

Hear

Listen

Feel

(and the past tense version of these as well)

Example:  Brigit heard a low moaning come from the darkness. She looked in every direction and saw a shadow crawling toward her. As it got closer she realized it was Bodie and jumped forward to help him.

A low moaning came from the darkness. Brigit searched in every direction. A low shadow crawled toward her. It was Bodie! She jumped forward to help him.

Now this isn’t a perfect example, but you can see how this eliminates some wordiness and makes the scene a little more active.

You can do this with verbs that also take place in the protagonist’s brain:

Remember

Think

Wonder

Imagine

Realize

Understand

Know

(and the past tense of these verbs as well.)

Example: Brigit thinks about her visit to Tyler’s barn and the horrible things she remembered happening to her there. She knows there is no way she can forgive his grandmother for any of it. In fact, she can’t imagine forgiving Tyler for any of it either. 

Brigit replays the horrible things that happened to her in Tyler’s barn. She can’t forgive his grandmother for any of it. In fact, she can’t forgive Tyler for any of it either.

Caveat: Obviously, you will be using some of these words. This is a sentence-by-sentence judgement call. By taking out the word imagine in the second version of the paragraph above, I change the meaning in a way that I might not intend. If I put imagine back, there’s a little ambiguity for possibly forgiving Tyler.  Keep in mind that there’s no way to write a story without these words, but you don’t want to overuse them. This helps tighten your paragraphs/scenes/chapters as well.

6. Lazy verbs #2

Search for “there was”, “there were”, “was being”, and “were being”.   I am certain you can find a more active way to say something than by relying on these crutches.

7. Sentences beginning with “it”.  It is a bland word and likely replaceable by something much more specific.

Round Two: First Print Edit

After these initial edits are fixed, I print out the manuscript. In the first printed read through, I look for:

Boring parts that don’t move the story forward. (Anywhere I begin skimming to get to the good stuff, I know I need to do some serious cutting.)

Confusing parts that I haven’t connected well to the plot.

Any dropped subplots.

General grammar fixes, typos, punctuation mistakes.

Round Three: Read-Aloud Edit

I go back to the computer and make the round two changes, printing the manuscript out again for a Read-Aloud Revision.

Yes, I recommend reading your entire manuscript out loud. You might have to drink a lot of water to get through this, but trust me this step is a smart move. I know some writers use their computer’s read aloud function. This will catch the same type of errors. Hearing the story helps you find missing words and strange punctuation mistakes. For example, I have a very intelligent friend who misspelled dinghy as dingy in her novel and the read-aloud function caught this error for her. 

Round Four: Second Print Edit

After making the round three edits, print the manuscript out again and re-read it again (NOT out loud.) I reserve this round for paying particular attention to descriptions and ask whether I’m using all the senses fully to draw the reader into the story/setting. I also use this round to dissect the most pivotal scenes to make sure I’m achieving the pace that I’m aiming for, asking whether I have the right balance of narration with action. (Some writers may prefer to make this part of the Second Round of editing.)

Depending on how many changes/scene writes have been made, you may want to go back to some of First Round steps, particularly spell check.

Round Five: Third Print Edit/Beta Reader Edits/Professional Edits

Now at this point, your manuscript should be ready for sharing with beta readers and/or a professional editor. At the same time as the beta readers/editor are making their notes, go back and read it again yourself. (I always find more to change, but I hold these changes until all the beta reader/editor notes are returned to me so I can compare the notes.)

Carefully consider the notes from my beta readers/editors and your own third read through, making the changes you feel are necessary. Now, you should be ready for formatting if you are moving forward with indie publishing.

Round Six: Advance Reader Copy/Proof Edit

Once in book format, I always order the printed copy to proof, and I always find another round of errors, typos, changes that need to be made. Depending on the extent of these changes, I may order another proof or I may rely on the online pdf proofer to confirm that the changes have been made.

If you’re not independently publishing, you could do a Round Six read through on your own before you query agents or publishing houses.

Don't Rush!

And my best advice is not to rush the editing process. I sometimes let a few months pass, especially with a book-length work, between finishing the manuscript rough draft and beginning round one of the editing process. It helps to have fresh eyes on the story.

Just like in the telling of a story, there are many ways to approach the editing process! I’d love to hear how your process differs from mine.

April 18, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

The rainy days of April are here, bringing time and reason to write. Sprinkles outside mean I’m at my keyboard inside. Who doesn’t find satisfaction in writing while listening to rumbles of thunder? Rainy days are great for working on writing problems, and I’ve developed two specific prompts for cloudy afternoons. The first prompt is, An Oldie but a Goodie: Avoiding Clichés. The second is, To Boldly Go: New Verb Frontiers.

An oldie but a goodie: Avoiding clichés

There’s no time like the present to learn to avoid clichés. If you’re an unrepresented writer and querying agents, it’s better to be safe than sorry! Do not send a cliché-filled email to an agent who is looking for fresh ideas. Clichés are as plain as the nose on your face. Use free-writing exercises to avoid them.

As obvious in the above paragraph, it’s easy to fall into the trap (I did it again, didn’t I?) of using well-known phrases. It happens all the time. To eliminate the problem of using clichés, write down ten of the most overused, then find new ways to express the idea behind them.

Example: All that glitters is not gold.

While I love this adage and find it true, it’s overused and it has lost its impact for me as a reader. I would rephrase it. In a prompting exercise, I would improve upon the cliché by changing it to reflect the nature of a character. How would my antagonist use this phrase? Likely, he would twist it to sound cynical or angry. If he’s a thief, he might say something such as “all that glitters is gold,” or “all that glitters is mine.”

It takes brain power to look at clichés with new eyes. Rarely do writers have the time to improve upon their use of common phrases. Most of the time, we’re told to avoid clichés without being given methods to achieve such a directive. That’s why I like this rainy day prompt. Not only does it raise awareness of clichés, it helps improve them to enhance our work.

To Boldly Go: New Verb Frontiers

I was at a writing conference several years ago and the event offered one major takeaway for me. (Of course, there were more, but one idea stood out.) I was chatting with the keynote speaker, a successful writer. She said, “What distinguishes good writing from great writing is the use of verbs. Brilliant writers find new ways to reveal action. That’s what makes the difference.”

I’ve never forgotten her advice. I use it every time I write. Yes, every time. I examine every one of my paragraphs to see if I can improve upon its action. Is there an opportunity to offer a verb that is unusual? For example, instead of “dance,” I could use “pirouette”. Or “garaged” instead of “put into”. (Those examples are from one of my favorite writers. When those verbs are read in context in a paragraph, they work beautifully to convey their author’s style.)

Other examples include:

To drive = taxi

To cry out = yodel

To fall = collapse

To move = lumber

Write down verbs that appear often in your work. Are there different words you could use instead? Keep a list. That way, fresh verbs will be at hand when they’re needed.

It may be argued that unusual verbs are distracting. I agree, so use them with care. Let the verb tell. Let it convey to the reader what is happening in the story without taking away from the action on the page.

"Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the reason that drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.” ~ William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White

 

Next month: Beyond Bad Ass: Discussing the Modern Female Protagonist

Blog Shout Out: Wise Ink Blog

Are you familiar with Wise Ink? It’s a company that assists writers with all things publishing and its website offers a fantastic blog. To complement this month’s writing prompt post, I’m linking to one of Wise Ink’s own posts about getting started on a book. Suggestions include forgiveness, note-taking, and finding a writing community — great stuff! Check it out to see if the blog offers ideas for your work.

Enjoy!

~Tracey Kathryn

April 3, 2017

Ah, March! I had a lot of book-ish things going on in March that prevented me from reading as much as I would have liked to. I know we can all relate to that. I was happy to attend the Wisconsin Educational Media and Technology Association Conference and the University of Wisconsin Writers’ Institute as well as visit St. Mary's School in Portage, but that means my review list is much smaller for March. 

The stand out read for the month was a middle grade novel I had downloaded quite some time ago. Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere by Julie T. Lamana follows Armani Curtis who is turning ten the weekend Hurricane Katrina hits New Orleans. All that Armani cares about is the party she’s been looking forward to for weeks, but things turn sinister when Hurricane Katrina changes course and heads straight for New Orleans. Armani and her family stay put in their Ninth Ward home, hoping things won’t get as bad as predicted. Of course, we know the area becomes flooded when a levee collapses. The rest of the book is a terrifying set of tragedies that kept me turning pages well after midnight. These events set us in a time and place with such a poignant story that I highly recommend this book for any age.

BACK COVER BLURB:

Armani Curtis can think about only one thing: her tenth birthday. All her friends are coming to her party, her mama is making a big cake, and she has a good feeling about a certain wrapped box. Turning ten is a big deal to Armani. It means she's older, wiser, more responsible. But when Hurricane Katrina hits the Lower Nines of New Orleans, Armani realizes that being ten means being brave, watching loved ones die, and mustering all her strength to help her family weather the storm. A powerful story of courage and survival, Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere celebrates the miraculous power of hope and love in the face of the unthinkable.

 

My second recommended read is Syncopation: A Memoir of Adele Hugo by Wisconsin author Elizabeth Caulfield Felt. This was our Columbus Books & Beer book club pick, and it was a delight to talk with Felt about this novel. Adele Hugo was the daughter of French novelist Victor Hugo who wrote Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The novel is written in memoir form from the perspective of Adele but in third person, which gives it a unique format that enhances the intriguing content. Felt stays true to the major historical facts about Adele Hugo’s life—portraying her inability to fit within the expectations of women in 19th Century France. This is a fast-paced, surprising, and sometimes shocking look at a historical figure we don’t know much about. Highly recommended.

BACK COVER BLURB:

Writer. Composer. Seductress. Liar. In nineteenth-century France, a woman's role was explicitly defined: she was a daughter, then a wife, then a mother. This view was held by novelist and poet Victor Hugo, but not by his daughter, pianist and poet Adèle Hugo. Under such constraints, what's a woman of passion to do? Syncopation breathes life into the unconventional thoughts of this controversial female figure. An elderly Adèle recounts her desperate attempts to gain personal freedom. Her memoir blurs the fine line between truth and madness, in a narrative that is off-kilter, skewed, ...syncopated.

 

What have you been reading lately. I love getting recommendations!

"Never Did THIS Before" Challenge Update

The other thing that kept me away from reading in March was the Museum as Muse class I took at the Chazen Museum of Art on the UW-Madison campus through the Continuing Studies program. If you remember back to my “Never Did THIS Before” challenge, you might recall that the first of my challenges was taking this class to stretch my creativity. I had a blast using art as inspiration for the writing exercises we were assigned. My favorite one was not so much writing about the art I was viewing, but instead had me describing the experience of viewing a work of art as I took in the people and sounds around me. Great observational writing. I realize that I don't stop and really "see" things as much as I should. I hope this class is offered again. It truly had me thinking in a different creative way and sparked some new story ideas. So . . . "check" . . . March challenge complete!

For my April “Never Did THIS Before” challenge, I am taking a trip to a part of Spain that I’ve never been to before – Andalusia. I can’t wait to see some of the Holy Week processions as my husband and I tour Seville, Granada, and Cordoba. I promise to share what I am seeing and learning here on the blog next month. If you want to follow me throughout the week, I’ll be posting regularly on Instagram. Click here to go to my Instagram page. 

Are you up for this challenge? Let me know what new things you’ve been doing.

 

 

March 28, 2017

In my journey through the steps of independent publishing, refining my writing skills, and most recently completing a successful agent search, I’ve come across some excellent information, tips, tools, and shortcuts that I think would be beneficial to any writer. Once a month, I’ll share the “best of” information and news from the publishing industry as well as feature other authors and writing instructors with tips to share. I am incredibly thankful for the assistance and advice given to me from writing and publishing professionals and am happy pay that forward.

Book News

If you are one of the many adults who has never read a book from the young adult or YA genre, you are missing out on some very fine stories. (I’m not just saying this to be self-serving as a YA novelist.) There’s an energy in this market that is presenting us with some of the best new books of the year. If you think that all you’ll read is angsty teen drama, let me assure you that you have choices across the board from science fiction and fantasy to adventure and (yes) romance . . . and sometimes quite nifty combinations of all of these! To get you started, check out this list of the Best 16 Young Adult Books in March or the Top Ten Most Anticipated Young Adult Books of March.

Featured Article: Embrace Your Boundaries by Dan Blank

I know that I have talked about Dan Blank before but possibly not here on the forum. He helps writers and other creative types share their stories and connect with their audiences. I appreciate his weekly newsletter and find that he is spot on with his advice, which often translates for any career or endeavors and not just those related to writing. (You can subscribe to his weekly newsletter here.)

Most recently, he talked about how embracing boundaries can help you achieve your goals. Great advice!! I remember when I first started working from home that I had a hard time setting boundaries to protect my worktime. I wish I would have had this advice then. So if you are trying to carve out the time in your day to meet any personal or professional goal the article at this link is worth a read. Embrace Your Boundaries by Dan Blank 

Pre-Publication Information

The Grammar Police

A pet peeve of mine is how numbers are handled in writing, often finding within the same story or manuscript an inconsistent treatment of numerals. The quick rule I had always learned was that numbers up to nine should be spelled out, according to the AP Style Manual that was my bible throughout journalism school. There are some exceptions and consistent treatment throughout the same article or manuscript is key. An article from Pop Editing helps you sort this all out. 

Making the Most of Beta Readers

If you’ve never heard this phrase, let me explain. A Beta reader is an early reader of your manuscript who gives you honest feedback. Key words here: Honest Feedback. You need to make sure you have a broad enough group of readers so you don’t make the mistake of only receiving gushing praise from friends and family. Ideally, this would be others in your writing and reading community and depending on your subject, professionals who are familiar with your topic. Make sure these are folks who will not be afraid to tell you the truth about your writing. If organizing a group of readers seems insurmountable in your never-ending list on your path to publication, Publishers Weekly has some great advice on how to make the most of this important resource.  

Don’t Neglect Your Biography or Book Description!

Your book is edited and ready to go. Your front cover image is gorgeous and eye catching. Now it’s time to write the book blurb for your back cover. Simple, right? I thought it would be but ended up spending a couple of weeks agonizing over subtle differences. I am not even sure how many different variations I had of my first book blurb, but it certainly was a lot. If you are at this point, here are some great tips on mistakes not to make from Book Baby and a really detailed list to walk you through the process from Bookworks. If you’re stuck, I’m happy to help edit book blurbs . . . send me an email!

At the same time as you’re writing your book blurb, you’ll probably be getting your biography ready. Whether it is going to be on the back cover or in the end matter of your book (the pages after the story) or on your website and author pages, you must make sure it is engaging. Anne Allen offers great tips to help you write an engaging biography. Trust me . . . there are some things she talks about that you might not have thought of.

Post-Publication Information

Teens and Social Media Use

Whether you write for teens or are a parent to teens or pre-teens, you know that it is hard to keep up in the world of social media. I find this article helpful from a marketing perspective that tells me where I can find my potential readers on social media. These statistics on which social media teens are using most might surprise you. Check it out here. (Reaching your book buying audience through social media is a very broad topic and one I will delve into in greater detail in a future Writers' Forum.) 

Reviews

While all authors certainly would like to have a lot of reviews, we don't often have an organized effort to seek these out. Most of us encourage our readers to be kind enough to leave a review, but we've never actively requested reviews from bloggers or professional reviewers in our genre. If you do plan to ask professional reviewers to take a look at your latest title, following these tips from TLC Graphics might make all the difference in catching the attention of these sought-after, busy readers. 

Happy Writing, Valerie  

Upcoming Events

April 1 – Author Fair New Berlin Library 10 am - 1 pm   Featuring authors Sandy Brehl, Barbara M. Britton, Kerry Crowley, Pat Hall, and Jane Kelley.

April 6 - Margaret George visits Mystery to Me Bookstore in Madison at 7 pm to discuss her latest book "The Confessions of a Young Nero"

April 11 - 7 pm Mystery to Me Bookstore in Madison welcomes authors Lori Rader-Day, Susanna Calkins, and Patricia Skalka to discuss their books. 

Mystery to Me has many more events scheduled for April. If you live in the Madison area or are visiting, check out the complete schedule here

April 15 – Madtown Author Daze 11 am – 4 pm at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (in the Overture Center) Madison, Wi. Learn more

April 28-30, 2017:  Green Bay “UntitledTown” Book and Author Festival. This will be Green Bay’s first-ever Book Festival, with readings, panels, craft lectures, and live storytelling. 

May 12-13 -- The Lakefly Writers Conference, Oshkosh, WI. Learn more. 

 

March 20, 2017

Writing a book can be very intimidating not just for veteran writers but more so for rookie ones. Why? Simply because everyone wants to read a good book. We all like to encounter stories that will make us think about our own lives or to take us to a trip down to memory lane. Today, writing a great book can be done faster than it would normally take to draft your very first sentence.

How? By utilizing the snowflake method! Now, we are sure that not everyone has heard about this method of writing a book so let us give you a brief background. Randy Ingermanson according to http://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/, is the one who pioneered this approach. As an experienced novelist and teacher, he mastered the art of writing fast and easy. Join the ranks!

How does the method work?

The snowflake method can be divided into various steps which we will enumerate for easy reading.

One sentence summary

Before you start writing your book, think of a sentence that will provide the gist of your story. Yes, just one sentence! Think of it this way; it will be the hook that will capture your reader, line, and sinker. I know that you might want to add more, but, let us just stick to one sentence for now.

In writing your summary, there are certain things that you should not do. For example, do not add the name of your character. Why? You always want to just give a clear description of your character while keeping the mystery. So instead of writing, Charlie discovered time travel and went back in time to avoid World War II from happening, you should just write, a school boy discovered time travel and went back in time to avoid World War II from happening. See the difference?

One paragraph plot only

In writing the plot of your book, make sure to focus on three main points:

1. Background - give simple background information about your book. Provide the setting of your book, the main character, and what is it going to be about. You have to make sure that your paragraph will give the readers an idea of the theme and nature of the book.

2. Issue - this primarily talks about the main disasters in your book. What are the conflicts? Who are the people involved?

3. Ending - what is going to happen in the end? Did the schoolboy able to prevent World War II?

If you are able to create one paragraph successfully, you are on your way to finishing the main structure of your book.

Develop your characters

Who will be your protagonists? How about the antagonists? These are the questions that you should think about when writing your book. You have to create characters and develop them. You have to know who will be involved, as in this way, you can easily connect them with one another. If you do not know how to create a character, check out the Creative Penn from http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2012/10/01/characters/ for some useful and powerful tips. A good writer always has the passion to learn from other authors.

Plot Summary

Remember that you already wrote a paragraph of your plot. Now, take that information and expand each sentence into their own paragraph. However, make sure to connect the ending of each paragraph to the next sentence.

Create character charts

This is the time when you would expand your characters. In this step, you will make a very detailed description of the characters you just created. A good sample of a character chart can be found in this link: http://www.epiguide.com/ep101/writing/charchart.html.

Keep expanding

Lastly, develop your plot. If you have created a 1-page plot summary, expand that summary into 2 or 4 pages adding the characters you created, description of your scenes, and organize your pages.

Overall, the snowflake method will help you develop sequencing as well as observation and creative thinking abilities. Keep jotting down information and characters as they come to you and organize them afterward to make sense of what you have written. But more importantly, enjoy the process of writing. It is good for the soul. Be excited to share it for the world to read!

 

Lucy Adams is a blogger and one of the perfect writers from BuzzEssay, a service that writes essays, term papers, research papers, etc. for students. She’s always open to intriguing ideas so that you have every chance to get a high-quality article exclusively for your blog! 

 

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