Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Feeling Blurb-y

Describing your 300 page novel in ten sentences is not for the weak. Picking and choosing what is important, what will make a reader want to pick up your book, and what needs to be left out of the blurb (or as the traditionals call it the jacket copy) is on the very best days daunting—and on the very worst impossible.
However, it is also necessary.

A good blurb the difference between getting new readers and, frankly, getting no readers. The cover is your novel’s first impression. Its job is to make them stop and look at your book. The blurb’s job is to sell the book. It should be easy to read, enticing, and representative of your writing.

Today just helped two of my friends with blurbs for their upcoming releases, so I thought why not write a blog post about it to help any other authors out there who are also working on their book blurbs. To make this easy and because I love a good list, I am doing this in list form (this is my blog. I do what I want!)

1.      1.  Forget about the entire book and focus on who is your character at the beginning of the novel.  What is he or she like before their whole world goes to hell.

2.       2What is your inciting incident? What happens at the beginning of the book to drive your character into action?

3.      3.  Show the rising action. Put in your mind what your character’s ultimate goal is in the book (ignore the side stories) and then think about the challenges they had to overcome to reach that goal. Those challenges are your rising action.

4.      4.  What is at stake for the character? If they fail to make their goal what happens? If nothing happens then you might want to take another look at your book. There should always be something that drives the character forward and makes them want that outcome more than anything else.

The above is really all you need to write a good blurb. These things cover the story and help build interest and tension. However, there’s more to keep in mind.

1   Details. They are like the Goldilocks of blurb writing. On one hand you can have too much detail and it will bog down the blurb and make it hard to read. On the other hand you can have too few details and the reader will come away knowing nothing about your story. Neither of which make enticing blurbs. The simplest way to state this is: you should share the specific events and details in the book that drive the main plot, but not the names or the subplots.

Example of a blurb without enough detail:
“Emily is driven by one thing: her determination to make up for a pivotal, crushing mistake. But no matter how hard she tries, she can’t let go of the past, much less let herself be happy.

Mike’s picture-perfect world has been shattered. Now he’s struggling to pick up the pieces. Nothing makes sense and around every corner a landmine from his past destroys any hope of starting over.
When these two broken souls reach out to each other for comfort, neither intends for it to go so far, or so deep. Can they learn to live and love again, even if it’s for just one night?”

It isn’t a bad blurb. The writing is good and it pretty much covers the things I listed above, but at the end of reading this blurb my only real thought for what the story is about was, it’s a romance. That isn’t enough to sell it. Let the reader in. Show them the heart of the book. 

Revised blurb:
Emily is driven by one thing: her determination to make up for a youthful, pivotal mistake. An unplanned pregnancy before she graduated high school changed the course of her life forever. No matter how hard she works or how much time she devotes to her son, it will never be enough. Her own happiness is the furthest thing from her mind.

Mike never planned on being a single father, but when cancer claimed his beloved wife his picture-perfect life shattered. A year later he still struggles to pick up the pieces and raise their daughter though his heart breaks every day. And around each corner inescapable memories of the love of his life haunt him.
When these two broken souls reach out to each other for comfort, neither intends for it to go so far, or so deep. Can they learn to live and love again, even if it’s for just one night?

The difference between these two blurbs is that the first you walk away know something happened in Emily’s life, but you have no idea what. That makes Emily nothing more than a name on a page. In the second example, you are starting to get to know Emily. You understand her a little better and maybe you can relate to her. Lo and behold you actually want to know if these two people can love again.

2.       Cliches. If you read it once, you’ve read is a thousand times (totally did that on purpose), avoid clichés. I know it’s hard and I don’t always succeed either, but damn it, you have to try. The thing is when you write a blurb the length is so restricted that is honestly makes very little sense to include something that is basically a throw away. These are words that in no way will resonate with a reader and will not set apart your book. Yes, they are easy and so readily available, but they aren’t helping you.

3.       Ending with questions. I can honestly say I am not a fan. Occasionally a blurb will pull it off, but mostly, I recommend avoiding the use. The ending question has been done so many times it has become a cliché blurb writing technique. Instead of leaving a reader like that, take the extra time and think of a great last line that will stick with them. Just like your novels, the first and the last line are the most important.

4.       Make it easy. The more complicated your blurb is the less likely people will read it to the end. If you start throwing out super long sentences, big words, tons of details, people are going to lose track of what you are saying and give up. A blurb should be short and simple. Something a person can read at a glance and know if this is the book for them.

5.       Demonstrate what your book is by the writing in your blurb. You shouldn’t have to tell someone your book is a mystery or a comedy or a romance. You should be showing it in what you are writing. If you have written a comedy then your blurb should be funny (good luck with that).

6.       Ask for help.  This is my final piece of advice. Blurb writing is hard—really really hard. You will never write as good of a blurb alone as you will with the help of others. You see the problem is you already know intimately every detail of your story, therefore your opinion is shit. You can’t see the places that the reader will be like “Whaaaatttt?” So get help. Ask your author friends to read it and tell you what they think. No, you don't have to take everyone’s advice, but if several people are bothered by the same thing, then you should seriously think about it.

If you have one friend who is really good at writing blurbs then I would suggest asking them what time would be good for them to help you, then set aside like thirty minutes with that person to go over it. That way you can be there to answer questions and go back and forth with them. Do not just send them your blurb and expect they can work on it immediately. Be respectful of their time because they are doing you a favor.

Personally when I work on a blurb for someone it can take me anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple hours depending about how responsive the other person is.

Anyway, that’s what I know. I hope this helps.  I have spent so much time writing this post I am not going to proofread it, so you will have to deal the typos. :-D

-Liz

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Walking, Inferno, and Random Musings

Last week with some of my Romantic Edge Books colleagues I entered a challenge to walk 50,000 steps in a day. Yeah, I know that isn't the 70,000 steps a week I should be doing, but I am a writer and we sit a lot. The losers of the challenge has to make a video of herself singing "I'm a Little Teapot" and post it on Facebook. Thank goodness I didn't lose, but each week our challenge number of steps increases so if you want to hear me sing...you should seek help...or follow me on Facebook because you never know when I am going to lose. For the second week the losers will have to sing "Hanging Tough" by NKOTB complete with hand gestures. So yeah....not planning on losing this week either. 

If you are interested in becoming more active or if you just want to laugh at me and you have a Fitbit you are welcome to friend me there too. This week our challenge is 55,000 steps from Monday 21st and ending on Sunday the 27th at midnight. After one week I had to go buy myself very cool, very pink pair of Asics. 



I even managed to get a bit of a tan. A very small one. (Yes this is tan for me)


Any way for those of you who don't know, I just moved. The new house is great. I am in and settled, but I am also behind on writing. I did yoga twice this week. Next week I will shoot for three times though I have no fucking clue how to make my internal organs soft with breath. I can’t feel my internal organs. Can other people? It seems pretty weird to feel your organs.

“Hey, Billybob, how are you?”
“Well I’m okay, but my spleen, man, it’s stressed.”

I don’t get it. But I don’t need to understand to do it. And I will do. I will make my exercising and writing goals. 

Speaking of writing goals. Inferno. Still working on it, but this is definitely going to be a wild ride. Inferno is coming. I promise. I just need to finish it. Like now. Like immediately. Like I am jumping right back to it once I finish this blog post and coincidentally I am done. I am just going to post a lovely UNEDITED teaser for Inferno then I am off to write, quick like a bunny. 


Olivia walked out of a smoldering building glowing bright. Wisps of smoke trailed behind her, a train of destruction.
“Clear,” she said in a voice that was hardly recognizable. Her eyes flickered in my direction where I held a low level demon, waiting to for her to question him. “Did he tell you anything?”
“I got another location.”
“Kill him,” she said, walking past us without slowing.
I nodded and slid the blade of an angelic knife across its throat. Blood gurgled through the cut and arterial spray went up like a geyser before black smoke poured from every opening in the body. The demon was dead and so was the human it inhabited. Wiping the blade on a dark rag, I slipped the knife back into its holder beneath my shirt and fell into step with her. She moved fast her eyes always focused ahead of her, always focused on our next move. The angel was a warrior through and through. She never stopped, she never rested, and she never relaxed. We were at war.
She stepped over a homeless person—not seeing him or not caring, hard to say. The man didn’t see her at all. No humans did. She hadn’t retracted her natural light since Marge died, not once. Olivia wore the angel like a blanket, reveling in its power and hiding any softer feelings deep beneath the angel’s strength and experience.
Be careful what you wish for was the phrase that most often went through my head. On one hand, I didn’t have to worry about Olivia anymore. The angel would take care of her, if her human soul had survived at all. We no longer had to run from Hell or demons. These days we took the fight to them, leaving nothing but smoke and ashes in our wake—no survivors human or otherwise. The angel had produced a small, plain dagger and gave it to me with the instructions to only use it on Heavenly creatures or abominations—aka demons and jinn. Where she kept these weapons, or how many she had, was anyone’s guess, but their existence certainly had changed our position from a flea on a dog’s back to the dog catcher. Hell was on the run, but I couldn’t help thinking it was temporary. Eventually they would find something she couldn’t defeat. She had no such concerns.
On the other hand, though, I barely caught glimpses of the woman I loved and even those felt more like 
figments of my imagination grasping at the smallest threads of hope that she was still in there. The love and warmth for everyone she exuded before had vanished. Our connection had been silent. It was definitely still there, but where she used to glow in my mind it was darkness now, a gaping hole completely shut off to me, but silently monitoring every thought I had. If I stepped out of line, would she kill me? 

-Liz

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Piracy: It Happens

Today I am going to piss a lot of authors off. So in advance, before you are angry with me, sorry that we don’t agree, but I am not sorry for what I think.

Okay, now that the apology is out of the way, let’s get down to the topic at hand. Piracy. Every day I see authors of all shapes and sizes, new and established, successful and looking for their niche, go on rampages about one or all of their books being pirated. Let’s be honest, it’s annoying—both the piracy and the complaining.

So today I am going to try to give some perspective to the issue.

  •             Every single entertainment art form is pirated. Movies, TV, Music, and Books. Movies with power house studios behind them and millions upon millions of dollars still end up on pirating sites. Bands like Metallica fought Napster for what seemed like years over their music being on the site.
  •             Every minute you spend fighting, petitioning, complaining, is a minute away from what you should be doing: WRITING YOUR NEXT BOOK. Yep. You see if you are a writer then there is a catch. You actually have to write. You don’t have time to scour the internet and send threatening letters that you actually don’t intend to follow up on (let’s face it, how many of us are really going to hire an attorney? On that note, how many of us really think that whatever number you believe in your mind you are losing in sales could even pay for one hour of an attorney's time?) to every single pirating site.
  •            Complaining about the site on social networks does one of two things. First, it alerts everyone to the fact they can get your book for free somewhere else. You might be thinking “No. These are my friends they would never do that,” then you are naive. Do you think any of these sites would have gotten so large if people didn’t use them? Second, it makes you negative. Your job as an author is to entertain. You want people to want to visit your page. If they go to your page and only see whining then why would they come back?
  •             Look at the bright side of things. You are like, “But Liz, there is no bright side to having my work stolen. I spend year writing this and pouring my heart into it and it is being stolen. Thieves! Stop, thieves!”. Oh ye of little faith, there is a bright side. You are gaining exposure. Your book, even though it is free without your consent, is in front of *gasp* readers. Isn’t that what we want? Isn’t that why we PAY for advertising so potential readers might pick up our book. Who’s to say someone might not pirate one book, read it, then buy all of your other books? I remember a while back I was reading Matt Nathanson’s blog (a singer I like). He wrote a post about how he was reading fan mail and he opened one letter and a $20 bill fell out of it. With it there was a note that said “I pirated a copy of your album, but it was so good and I listen to it so much I feel like I should pay for it.” Bam! You never know what can happen so quit worrying about things you can’t control.


Now, I have said what I wanted to say. I will end with this.

*note to readers* please don’t pirate books. Visit the library instead. They give books to you for free and at most libraries you can request any book you want to read and they will order it. So be cool, sodapop.
 

Liz

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Creating Characters

Today I posted a link to a blog post I recently did about how my real life influences my writing. http://abookagirlandablog.wordpress.com/2014/06/24/guest-post-from-liz-schulte/

I was asked on Twitter (shout to @celticora !) what I actually do to build my characters. So I am going to try to put that process in words. I mean I’m a writer I should be able to do this. I’m a professional dammit!

So when I start a new book or introduce a new character the very first thing I need to know is what does this character want in relation to the story. Next I ask what function does this character play in the story.
For example, when I introduced Femi as a character in Choices (Book 2 of the Guardian Trilogy) my very first thought about her was she wanted adventure. At the very core of her character, all of her decisions, and all of her actions she is about finding adventure and thrills in life. That is who she is. Next she needed a function in my story. Well, Olivia needed a friend so there was an opening. The trick is though I can’t make my characters like the people I introduce to them.

I have tried in the past to plan a character solely designed to be the friend of my main character, but it doesn’t always work. In Dark Passing I decided Ella needed a friend. It took me three separate attempts to get her to connect with another character before I finally found the right one. Like real life chemistry is necessary and all characters do not have chemistry together.

So back to Femi, I introduced her to Olivia. (excerpt of their meeting below)
                "Not a friendly lot." I mumbled to myself as a strange horned creature gave me the stink eye. Maybe making friends wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought. Being social had never been my strength.
"You'll have to excuse them. They aren't used to humans watching them so openly," said a voice behind me.
I turned to see a pretty girl, with long amber colored hair and skin so bronzed it nearly shimmered, leaning against a nearby building, arms crossed over her chest. She wasn't human, I was sure of that, but I couldn't quite place what she was. Her face was too smooth, her eyes too cat-like, and her voice too purring to ever be human.
"I'm not human," I said, looking directly into her feline eyes.
She approached with a graceful gait and circled me like I might be lunch. She sniffed the air on either side of my shoulder. "You look human, smell human, if you aren't human, what are you?"
"Bored," I said giving her one of Holden's patented expressions. "What are you?"
"Hungry," she said with a wide grin. "Do you want to get lunch?"
I had no idea what to make of this person. I couldn’t tell if she was a threat or just curious. "Do you invite strangers to lunch often?"
Her shrug was the most graceful movement I had ever seen. She made me feel like a frumpy troll next to her smooth liquid motions. "I can already tell I'm going to like you. Human, or whatever are, not many people would have the balls to stare down the whole of Chicago's Abyss. You're fearless. I like that in a person."    
"Olivia," I said, holding out my hand to her.
"Femi." She took my hand in a surprisingly firm grasp. "You aren't human, are you? I can feel it in your skin." A pleased smile spread across her face.
"I told you I wasn't."
"People lie.” She released my hand. "You really do look like a human. Out with it already."
I smiled at her impatience. "I’m a guardian."
"Bullshit." She laughed. "I can recognize a pain in the ass, holier than thou guardian a mile away. I’m not fooled, try again."

From the start they just clicked. Femi is adventurous and always looking for trouble she can sink her teeth into. Olivia is more reserved but trouble finds her pretty easily. They both have big hearts and endless amounts of curiosity. Now I didn’t really know that going in so back to my process of creating her character.
After I answered those two questions about her then I start building her. Since I write fantasy I needed to decide what sort of creature/person she would be. Would she be supernatural or human? Would she be good or evil leaning? What did she do for a living? 

Referring back to my first two answers I could narrow this down. I needed her to be supernatural because that would make her a better friend to Olivia and ease her transformation into the Abyss. Also on that note, she needed not to completely toe the line on the good side. You see Olivia was up to her eyeballs in good, but her heart still loved someone who had a fair amount of evil in him. Femi needed to be the voice of reason. She needed to see both sides more clearly than either side saw themselves so she could provide Olivia with perspective. The last question of what she did for a living was answered by the fact that this was a supernatural creature who craved adventure. Making her a bounty hunter was a nature fit. Her job could be one adventure after another which suited her.

After I knew this about her I could start on the smaller details like what did her race say about her? What were her strengths and limitations? What did she look like? How did she rebel? How did she distinguish herself from everyone else?

Since I created her race after the goddess Sekhmet I was able (had to) create everything about these people. I researched the goddess and what she was known for. I took bits and pieces of that and made character traits for the race. After I felt like I knew her people, I focused on Femi and how she was different from everyone else.

Now the most important part of all of this was that I didn’t know everything about her when I started writing her. I knew enough about her that I had a voice for her in my head, but with every scene I write about her or any of my characters I learn something about them and why they are who they are. Sometimes it surprises me. Sometimes it makes me laugh. Sometimes they make me sad, but the important part of this is that they keep growing on the page and in my and the reader’s mind.

I am a firm believer that for my own writing process and I can plan things too much. So I try to plan just enough that I have direction, but not so much that I kill spontaneity.

So that’s it. That’s how I do it. I am suspicious that this is a long rambling post that told you literally nothing. Hopefully not though. Hopefully this made some sort of sense and helps someone out there.


Liz

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Gearing up for the Femi Series and Release Schedule

Hello all! Liz here. I haven't posted in ages, but I wanted to drop you all a line to let you know what is happening. First, I am getting ready to move so my life is hectic and my house is messy. Second, Inferno will be coming out a bit later than expected (more on that later). And third, did you know I released a short story about Femi that will come to play a bit in Inferno and is part of getting ready to start her very own series after I finish off the Jinn and Easy Bake Coven. :-D


The day Femi caught her first bounty she knew this was it; she found her place in the Abyss. However, one mistake, one act of kindness, one beautifully whispered lie could cost her everything--even her life.


Next on the agenda is my release schedule. Due to the move and various other stressful factors everything has shifted a bit from where I thought it would be this year. But alas the books will come out!

1. Inferno. I am finishing this up now and let me tell you it is wild. :-) Lots and lots happening and building. I am very excited about where this series is going. I am aiming for the end of July but realistically, it will probably release in August.

2. Vestige. I hope to have this book finished and in editing by the time Inferno releases so we are looking at September for the release. 

3. Ollie, Ollie Hex 'n Free. I am aiming for November for this release. 

4. Dark Obsessions. That's right the third book in the Ella Reynolds series is coming mystery lovers. I can't wait to dive back into Ella. She makes me laugh. 

Then with the start of the new year will come a new series. It will be the Sekhmet series starting the one and only Femi. :-) I also have lots of other plans for next year, but I will share them a little closer to the time. 

As always I would love hear from you. 

Friday, June 6, 2014

LimeLight by Melissa Lummis

Buy LimeLight at:



Coming soon to

Barnes and Noble

iBooks

Kobo


Description:
The 4th installment to the Little Flame Series


The Big Apple is the next stop on the Maximillian Dubstep tour, and I’m about to bite off more than I can chew. A new friend is asking for the kind of help I’m not sure I can give.  Saving his dying son is going to cost me, but I’d do it in a heartbeat if my life were the only price.  But, I’m about to learn that there are worse things than dying. Falling in love, for one.

I've faced blood, pain, and even excruciating loneliness, but nothing has prepared me for the choices I’m about to make. Death? Pfft. Child’s play.


Love is a far scarier thing.

Get caught up on the series:
#1 Nine30
#5 Echo - available soon for pre-order

About the Author
Melissa Lummis considers herself a truth seeker, a peaceful warrior, a paranormal and fantasy writer, an avid reader, a thru-hiker GAàME ’98, a Penn Stater, a wife, a mother, and a free thinker.  She believes the universe conspires to help an adventurer.   And if we live our lives as if it is a daring adventure (and it is!), then everything we need will find its way to us.

Her books have been described as new age suspense in a fantasy setting, but they are also straight up, steamy Paranormal Romance.  The Love and Light Series is currently available at most ebook retailers, as well as the Little Flame Series, a spin off focusing on the character Fiamette from the Love and Light world.

She lives in rural Virginia with her husband, two children, an Alaskan Malamute, and a myriad of forest creatures.  The nature of her mind dictates that she write to stay sane.  Otherwise, her fertile imagination takes off on tangents of its own accord, creating scenarios and worlds that confuse the space-time continuum. Namaste, dear friends.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Dawn Pendleton Cover Reveal


Title: Crazy Dreams (Dreams #1)
Author: Dawn Pendleton
Release: June 30, 2014

  Stone Tucker has big dreams. Someday, he wants to be on a country radio station. Flash forward to reality, and Stone isn’t any closer to his dream than he was months ago when he left his high school sweetheart and hometown in Pennsylvania to move to Nashville. Every one back home thinks he’s going to fail, and unfortunately, Stone has started to believe it, too.
  Enter Ember Daniels.
  Ember lost her dad years ago in a car accident, and more recently, her older sister to leukemia. She’s had her fair share and then some of heartbreak and needs to get away from the modeling life her mother has been pushing on her. A summer trip to Nashville is just what she needs to find herself. She isn’t prepared for Stone, with his hot body and overall indifferent attitude toward her.
  One night can change everything, and with seemingly endless summer nights, Ember and Stone both discover exactly what they’re looking for.





About Dawn Pendleton...



Dawn Pendleton spends her time between Maine and somewhere warm for the winter, dragging her husband and pup wherever she goes. A lover of travel, an avid reader, and a softie at heart, Dawn writes romance novels that face the dark reality of life, which is that not everyone gets a happily ever after right away.

Want to meet Dawn? Check out the list of Events she will be attending!


 
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