Wednesday, December 19, 2018

So You Wrote a Novel…Now What?

Whether you won NaNoWriMo 2018 or finished your first draft of another work, what’s the next step toward publication?
Renee Frey, COO Authors 4 Authors Publishing
First of all, if you have written an entire novel, CONGRATULATIONS! You should be proud of your accomplishment. I want to offer a special shout-out to my NaNoWriMo winners—50,000 words in 30 days is no mean feat! But now that the first draft is done, you might be wondering, what comes next? Let’s explore that in today’s blog post!

Writing is Just the Beginning

I’m sure it’s the last thing you want to hear, but writing this first draft—this long and tedious labor you just finished? It’s step one. That’s right: step ONE.
You may think you don’t need editing, that this work is perfect, and you don’t want to change a thing.
You’re wrong.
I don’t mean to upset or insult you, but as a publisher, I’ve seen unedited manuscripts. They usually have a great premise (just as I’m sure your story is great!) and some good points, but overall they feel unpolished, unprofessional, have continuity and spelling and grammar errors, and just aren’t ready for publishing.
As a personal confession, I was one of those people. The ones you hated in college, who would start the term paper the day before it was due, type it up, not even run spell check, and ace it. Yup. That was me as an undergrad. Twenty pages, no grammar or spelling errors.
And then I wrote a 50,000 word piece. Which was about three to four times as long as those papers. And let me tell you, there were issues all over the place. I’m still editing that piece.
So needing edits doesn’t mean your story isn’t good, and it doesn’t mean you aren’t a good writer—it means that your piece is a first draft and needs work to become the best it can be. And if you want the time you’ve already invested into writing to mean something, you should commit to making those edits.
But I Want to Publish Now!
If anyone reading this submits a first draft of a manuscript to a new agent or publisher, and it gets accepted, please let me know. Until then, believe me, it’s better to wait.
When I reach out to authors who obviously sent in a first draft and suggest edits, to a T, they almost all tell me they don’t want to change a thing. The impression that leaves me? Even if they were Hemingway, I would not want to work with them.
As an author, you write the story inside you, which you NEED to do. Great. As a publisher, I want to publish the story that sells, that appeals to the largest audience possible. That means there will be a few changes. A good editor will work with you, so that the spirit and meat of your story stay the same, while overhauling the method in how that story is expressed to improve it.
Just as you would (hopefully) not go to a job interview without preparing yourself, such as choosing proper attire and printing extra copies of resumes, don’t send your book in for its job interview without doing the same. Why?
Trust me, you don’t want any agent or publisher’s first impression of you to be that you are uncooperative, unprofessional, lazy, unpolished, or poor at your craft. We can tell if someone has edited their story or not.
What is the MINIMUM Needed to Submit?
Please, if you only take away one thing from this blog post, proofread your work. Running spell check isn’t enough. Find and correct typos and verb tenses. Have others read your work, or read it yourself aloud, or read it backward. Find all those issues and fix them.
Ideally, you should work with a critique group to identify weak spots in the manuscript, from individual sentences to character arcs, make note of them, and with editing, correct them.
THEN for the love of everything, PROOFREAD YOUR WORK.

What Are the Next Steps?

Lucky for you, as part of wrapping up NaNoWriMo 2018, we’re hosting a series of blogs describing how to move your manuscript from first draft to published. Here are a couple of the topics we’re going to explore:
Editing is going through a manuscript and fixing issues. An edit can be in-depth, such as line edits, or can be a large, overarching view of the whole. You may need multiple rounds of edits, and before finalizing anything, you should always proofread it.
Critique Groups
As Velma Kelly said, you can’t do it alone. A good critique group helps you pinpoint those areas that need work in your manuscript. As with editing, a critique group can look at a chapter closely, or alpha/beta read the work as a whole and offer a big picture feedback.
Once your manuscript is ready, you have to make decisions about how you want to go about publishing it. Options vary from doing everything yourself (self-publishing) to small press publishers (that’s us!) to the “Big 5” publishing houses that, until recently, handled just about all publishing business in the US.

Seem Like a Lot?

It is! So my first suggestion: take a break from your manuscript. Walk away, breathe, catch up on holiday shopping, and make the commitment to yourself to get back to it next week. That way, you can clear your brain and come back to the piece with a clear head. You can also read the post next week about editing, so you can have some idea of where to start.

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Thursday, December 13, 2018

Character Types: Secondary, Tertiary, and Background

How is the supporting cast important?
B. C. Marine, CAO Authors 4 Authors Publishing
A few weeks ago, we looked at deuteragonists and tritagonists. Now let’s look at our final character types at the bottom of the hierarchy. This will be a bit shorter than the other articles, but the support cast is still important enough to discuss.

What are they?

These are the most essential of the supporting characters. They aren’t main characters and don’t have their own plotlines, but they are at least frequently recurring, if not present throughout the story.
Mentors, comic relief, and brothers-in-arms are all common secondary characters. In romance, the best friends whom the lovers discuss their relationship with are almost staple secondary characters.
If someone needs to die and leave a lasting impression, it’s most often a secondary character. That’s because their recurrance makes them matter more to the reader and the protagonist, but they don’t have thier own plot or character arc to derail with their departure from the story.
These are one-scene wonders. In longer works they might show up twice or maybe three times, but in general, you won’t see them again. They are important to the scene they’re in and can even be named.
In an adventure, these might be the friends and family who are left behind by the protagonist. They’re important to establishing who the protagonist is, but part of their importance is that they don’t get to stay in the story.
Other characters may step into the story later but leave soon after. In mystery, a tertiary character may appear for one scene as a suspect, only to point the investigation to someone else.
These are basically props. If they’re named, it’s usually because they’re referenced by another character in passing without being shown. When they’re in a scene, they may get a line or two without drawing focus, or they may not speak at all.
Soldiers in a war or battle are usually background characters because nobody has time or interest in reading details about dozens or hundreds of people.
Background characters can also show up one-by-one if they serve a needed function that isn’t relevant to the plot. For example, if two main characters are catching a taxi together, there obviously needs to be a driver, but most of the details about them probably don’t matter.

All Together

Although supporting characters are short on page time and often details as well, they fill a valuable role in storytelling. Without support characters, the main characters act in a vacuum. With them, the setting is richer and livelier.

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Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Interview with Diane Anthony

We are so excited about your book release! Let's get to know your novel a little better.

So tell me, what inspired you to write The Rare?
My love for hiking had a lot to do with it. I love to be out in the woods. It makes me feel relaxed and at peace when I’m hiking a trail. My husband actually came up with the idea when we were talking about what I could write next. He knows I love the woods, so he asked, “What if you wrote a story about a sickly girl who lives in the city but goes out into the woods and finds healing?” And that’s how The Rare got started!

Interesting! I know I’ve gotten a lot of inspiration for my work from what my husband says, as well. I’m glad to see I’m not the only one! Are there any themes, symbols, or motifs in your story?
A couple. I truly believe that living in a big city can be tough on your health: physically and psychologically. I think it’s important for people to get out of the city once in a while and find a natural place they enjoy. If you don’t like the woods or hiking, then find a beach, a field, a river; somewhere where there is fresh air and sunshine.
I also have a darker theme that I feel needs to be discussed. My main character, Olivia, struggles with depression and attempts suicide (three times, actually). She has a hard life and feels she would be better off dead.  Depression and suicidal thoughts are very real and very painful. It’s not something you can just “snap out of” or “think positively, and it’ll go away”.
I struggled with it a few years back. My depression had me believing that there was no hope, and everyone would be better off without me. Now that I’m on this side of things, I feel it is a topic that needs to be talked about. People who struggle with it need to understand that there is hope. People do care.
Not very many people like to talk about things that make them feel uncomfortable and depression and suicide is one of them. If you’ve tried to talk to loved ones, and they seem to be shutting you out, it’s probably just because they don’t know how to respond. They still love you. They just don’t know how to help. If that’s the case, call: Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255 and talk to someone. You have a purpose on this Earth. Your life matters.

I agree, mental illness should be as thoroughly talked about as the common cold. I’m really glad to see you advocating for others! Who is your favorite character?
My favorite character is a side character named Joselyn/Cindy. Joselyn is a girl who has DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder). She has multiple personalities, and one of them was a lot of fun to write, Cindy. She is a crazy, mischievous woman who acts more childish than Joselyn.

She was definitely a fun character to read when I went through it. How did you craft your world?
The world is mostly the same except for the United States. I took inspiration from The Divergent Series and Hunger Games for how I wanted the U.S. to be like after a major war tore the country apart.

Those are some really great dystopians to follow after. How did you decide on a setting? Is it based off of anywhere you’ve been in real life?
The city is based off New York. I’ve never been to New York, but I needed to have some of the amenities New York offers for my story, so it seemed like the right choice.

You should go sometime! It can be a little overwhelming at times, but it’s a city that should be on everyone’s bucket list. Who are some of your favorite authors?
I don’t have any favorite authors, per se. I have some favorite books: The Harry Potter series; Hunger Games; The Inheritance Cycle; and a book Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker co-wrote called House. That’s my favorite book to read around Halloween!

Thanks so much for chatting with me today, Diane! Before I let you go, what can we expect next from you?
I plan on continuing, The Rare, into a three-book series.
I have another story I’m itching to write, but I’m making myself finish what I started before moving on.

Look out for The Rare by Diane Anthony, coming out on December 9th, and join us for the Facebook launch party on December 8th!

Olivia Sloane doesn’t want to live anymore. Her whole life is a struggle. Her health, her school, her social life, and even her relationship with her mother are all a mess. The world itself is a mess. With lethal acid rain and stifling, ever-present fog, nothing thrives in her home city, and it’s even worse outside—or so she’s been taught.
Her best friend, David, also has a hard life, but he has hope. He’s convinced that there’s something better hidden beyond the fence surrounding their city and has always suggested escaping together. Olivia has never taken it seriously. But after a failed suicide attempt, her stay in the mental ward leads to a series of suspicious encounters with her mother and a fight at school. Feeling like there is nothing left to lose, she decides to give David’s idea a shot.

Despite their poor health and reports of killer beasts, Olivia and David brave the wilderness. The truth they discover there—not just about their society but about themselves—is more astonishing than anything they ever imagined.

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