Week 3: Camp NaNoWriMo– Be The Villain

camp nano

I’m late for my update. Well, I won camp! Woo Hoo! (Since I didn’t technically win April’s camp.) I’m currently well ahead of my goal! 40K done of a goal of 31K and I still have 7 days left this month. (Which is good, because I still have 10 chapters of my 27 chapters to write.)

I’m approaching the climax now. The middle of the book is HARD! I was stuck earlier and took a day off from writing to plot the story out. I obsessed about it and couldn’t function in the real world as I tried to figure out how to get from point A to point B.

To get me out of this, I put myself in the mind of the villain, forgetting my protagonists. I wrote a few chapters of the middle of the story from the villain’s perspective. (I planned on putting then in the novel, but cut them when I realized it took away from the mystery/suspense.) This was an amazing technique to keep the story moving and add some depth.

My brother tells me he loves the villains. I never understood, but now have a new appreciation. They are flawed. They take action to make things go their way. They make the story happen.

How do you get through the endless middle section/act 2 of your stories?

Week 2: Camp NaNoWriMo – Critique Partner

CNW_Participant[1]

I just finished Week #2 of Camp NaNoWriMo and things are smooth sailing.  I’ve finished 28,100 words of my 31,000 words goal.

On GoodReads, I stumbled upon an ad for a critique partner. A fellow writer was looking for a partner to read each chapter of her novel as she finishes it (Work in Progress). What pulled me in was her characters were similar to mine for this Camp Nano. I jumped at the opportunity to have some feedback on the novel as I wrote it.

This is an entirely new concept for me. I’ve never shared a work in progress before. My first drafts… Or rather, draft zero, is typically terrible. A complete embarrassment that I won’t even show to my mother. Maybe this one is too, but I’m still sharing it and using the feedback to make it better. I believe that when I get to the end, I’ll have the best first draft I’ve ever written.

My palms sweat and my heart flutters before I share each chapter – both from fear and from excitement. I really like having feedback on the plot before I write a 50K+ novel and have to rework the whole thing.

Plus it keeps me going. I don’t think I’d be 28K into the novel already if I didn’t have someone eagerly waiting to read my next chapter. So even if it’s not perfect, I still click “share”.

We’ve been using Google Docs, and I’m really enjoying this program for critique partner/feedback. It handles comments really well and you can go in and see exactly what your partner changed in their story based on your feedback.

How is your project going, and what have you been doing to stay motivated?

Which Novel Cover?

A novel cover is so important because, despite the saying, we DO judge a book by the cover.

There are so many things to consider: Does it fit the genre, is it an accurate reflection of the story, does it promise the reader the premise, and will it make people at least read the book blurb.

I thought I finally came up with a novel cover I liked, but feedback from a beta readers made me question my choice. The beta reader said they didn’t like photos on the cover… It took away from using your imagination.

Is this true? So many novels have photos now…  But so many don’t.

So I played the cover again (which was a lot of fun). Which cover do you prefer? The novel is a light/soft sci-fi (speculative fiction) with a little bit of mystery/romance/action.

Please comment below and let me know your thoughts.

Cover A

Love, Lies, & Clones Cover

Cover B

love, lies & clones cover 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Blurb:

June’s biggest struggle isn’t that she’s a clone.  It’s that her father has disappeared and the police aren’t doing enough to help her find him.  True, they’re a little occupied with a serial killer who just killed again after two years of silence.  Maybe if June would just tell them her dad was involved in illegal human cloning they’d be more interested?  But that would only cause trouble for her dad when (or perhaps IF) they found him.

June can’t sit and wait for the police to find her father, so she sets out on her own investigation with the help of Elliot, a man currently AWOL from the military.  Can she trust this man with her secret?  With each clue they discover, they learn more about the twisted experiments June’s father headed and why she was created.  When June and Elliot finally get close to uncovering the truth, they find themselves dodging bullets.

Writing for Fun! (July’s Camp NaNoWriMo)

Only 7 days to go until July’s Camp NaNoWriMo.  (More info HERE, if you don’t know what that is.). I’ve been working nonstop on my novel, Love, Lies, & Clones since I started it in February.  It’s currently in my beta readers’ hands, so I need a distraction…  Something FUN.

CNW_Participant[1]

Ten years ago or so, I started a story….  It was shoved in a drawer when the whole Twilight vampire craze hit.  Who needs another vampire story, right?

Well, it turns out I do.  The unfinished story has been nagging on me.  I fell in love with the characters, and they are still insisting I tell the story.  So, in July, I’m going to finally finish it!  I could never get past the first act…  But now… drumroll….  I have the whole thing outlined out.  And not just one outline, but two!

I changed my outlining method and tried the 27 chapter approach.  (More on that HERE or HERE.)  This worked so well for me, I may have found a new way to prepare future projects!

Here is my quick outline overview:

WIN_20160623_184341

And here is a screenshot of the full 27 page beast!

Screenshot (14)

Now, I can’t wait until July 1st to start writing the story… Again.

Blood & Holy Water Blurb (Also updated my Current Projects page.)

Blood & Holy Water Cover

2nd order angel, Ava, is sick of helping elderly women cross the street and strategically placing spare change where the poor can find it. She wants to be promoted to 3rd order angel and finally earn her wings. An angel promotion takes more than Ava’s hard work and determination – it takes a miracle – literally. Ava’s miracle is saving a fallen angel, one turned vampire 25 years ago.

Fin, the vampire in question, has a different agenda, no miracle needed, no helping a naïve angel earn her wings. He is busy keeping the Blood Board off his back. Fin has spent his entire time as a vampire avoiding his own kind, and now they are forcing him to work with them.

Ava can’t get a break, she is certain this miracle, just like all her miracles before, is a flop when she discovers Fin is impossible — his first killing as a vampire was his wife.

Just when Fin finally scares Ava away, he now frantically needs her because one of his secrets has surfaced. The human daughter he’s been protecting for 25 years is missing. Ava’s ability to detect truth and lies is exactly what he needs when dealing with vampires.

Ava is now busy with her own problems; angels have been turning up dead, drained of blood. It appears a vampire caused the deaths – the problem is vampires cannot see or touch angels. All vampires except for Fin…

Are you ready for camp?

I Love Beta Readers!

I mean it so much, that I’m going to be redundant: I love beta readers!

Wow. My three beta readers have completely IMPRESSED me!

I write so people find enjoyment in what I’ve written. I write to share ideas and thoughts with others. I write because it’s fun. Well, it is fun, until I find myself in an endless sea of a single task. Here is how my novel has gone so far.

  • I’m so frustrated with my OUTLINE. I wish I could just figure out the climax.
  • I have so much more to do on my FIRST DRAFT, when will I be finished?
  • REVISING is so tedious. How did I write this piece of crap anyway?
  • Who truly knows how to EDIT? Grammar? I must have slept through that class.
  • But BETA READERS? I LOVE THEM! I LOVE THIS PROCESS!!!! I’M IN NO HURRY TO FINISH THIS STEP (for once). BETA READERS bring the fun back into writing! That is, if you are willing to listen and take their feedback as constructive.

So back to my three beta readers. They are amazing. Each one of them have been spending so much time helping me turn my strung together plot and half-baked characters into something with feeling and meaning.

What amazes me the most, is many beta readers do this for nothing in return. Purely out of the goodness of their heart. It really makes me all warm and fuzzy with hope for humanity.

I have beta read and it is fun! I’ve critiqued some great stories that I’d never have read otherwise. I’ve helped authors (I hope) identify plot holes and character flaws. PLUS, I’ve given encouraging feedback.

I urge you all to try beta reading. If you’re at all interested, you can find an author who is looking for help and answer their ad. Start here: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/group_folder/220415?group_id=50920

Happy reading and writing!

–Joy

 

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Love, Lies, & Clones – Off to Beta Readers!

Oh, what a feeling!

My first “readable” draft of Love, Lies, & Clones is off to three beta readers. I feel like I’m alive again! The sun is shining. The air is fresh. The birds are chirping.

Life is good.

I love writing though. I really do. I just am a little (okay, a lot) obsessive compulsive on getting things done that I can’t stop until I’m finished. Urgh. That’s hard when you work full time and have a 11 & 13 year-old at home. But I’m not making excuses. I’m pretty happy with my progress so far.

I’m done with a draft that I’m not completely embarrassed to show a few people.

Here’s what I’ve done:

  • Outline (1 week): Completed in the middle of February when there was 2 feet of snow on the ground and I didn’t want to go outside anyway. Why not write a book?
  • Draft Zero (45 days): My skeleton draft. This had about 50K of words. I set my alarm for 4AM every morning and committed to writing 1 scene. 45 days/scenes later and I completed it.
  • Revisions & Fleshing Out (40 days): April was Camp NaNoWriMo and I committed to adding 30K to my novel by fleshing it out and working on revisions. I read through it twice and made a ton of changes, but only managed to add about 20K to the document. This process continued until this week… When I can finally say…

Official First Draft Compete!!! Yay! Off to beta readers after 3 months of work!    Here’s a really exciting photo of a pile of paper — but it’s all there!  (With some changes already.)

WIN_20160520_172639

Still to do:

  • Revise again! With feedback from beta readers.
  • Beta Readers Round 2
  • Revise again!

Then I don’t know what to do. Query an agent or self-publish. I’m really leaning towards self-publishing…  But I’ll obsess over that (and post a blog entry) when the time is closer.

It’s early yet. My novel may flounder in the hands of the beta readers with no possibility of reviving.  (But I’m determined not to shove this one in a drawer.)

Next week: More on Beta Readers! Now that I have three looking at my manuscript, I’m in LOVE with the process.

 

New Image

Here is a quick blurb about the novel (in case you have no idea what its about yet):

June Taylor is a clone. She thought she was the only one until her estranged father showed up on her doorstep, insisting she get out of town. At that moment, her orderly life began to crumble.

Now, her father has disappeared and June is the only one that can find him, since she’s the only know that knows about the illegal human cloning he performed thirty years ago. How can the police help when they don’t know the truth?

June’s plan is derailed when a military man, currently AWOL, insists she help him search for his brother.

Can the two learn to trust each other for the sakes of their loved ones?

They’ll need to now that the bad guys are after them.

 

Who Would Read My Writing? (Part 2)

Last week, I posted: Who Would Read My Writing? (Part 1). As Part 2 of this post, I’m sharing my experiences in utilizing a few online resources for obtaining beta readers of my work. Most of my experience has been with short stories and I am just recently branching out to obtaining beta readers for a novel length work.

Of note, if you plan on traditionally publish a short story or novel, you need to be careful not to post your work in open domain – such as on blogs, Wattpad, or online forums. (I learned that the hard way with some short stories.) The below options only allow registered users to read your work, which protects it so the traditional publishers don’t freak out.

I’m using the terms critique and beta read interchangeably here.  There are differences between the two:  (Critique partner is a fellow writer and a beta reader can be a reader or a writer.  A critique is more thorough where a beta read is supposed to be a readers perspective on the story.)

WWW.CRITTERS.ORG

I’ve been using this free critique forum for a while now with good success. For short stories, I get a ton of critiques (my last story received over 20 critiques.) This is great… BUT there are two major problems I have:

  1. It’s REALLY hard to sift through these for the comments that matter. I’m guilty of taking everything written in these critiques and changing my story to make the critiquer happy. What happens then, I fear, is my story loses its meaning. I start with a 700 word piece of flash fiction and when I’m done it’s over 2000 words. (And sadly, this has happened to me THREE times this year already!).
  2. My biggest issue: when I make a stupid grammatical error and it is pointed out over and over again. I wish I could go back and revise it before others read it, but with this site, you can’t. (I believe you can do this with Scribophile)

So with Critters, you need to do about one critique per week, and in exchange, you get to put your work in the queue. It usually take about 3-4 weeks for your writing to make it to the top of the queue for review. Then, the members have a week to provide feedback before your writing leave the queue. Of note, Critters has multiple forums for many different genre’s – my experience has only been with the Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Horror forum. The other ones don’t have as many members.

Now for novels, Critters says you can post sections through the usual queue (as described above), or they will do a request for dedicated readers (beta readers).  I tried this ten years ago by posting my first novel (which by the way, was TERRIBLE and is in a drawer. I’m still working up the courage to revise it into something readable.) I didn’t obtain any beta readers this way (they probably read my first chapter and ran the other way). I’ve beta read one author’s work and he says he normally obtains about 4 readers of his novels through Critters.

WWW.SCRIBOPHILE.COM

Then, I recently discovered Scribophile. I just started dabbling in it and LOVE IT so far. You earn credits by doing critiques and once you have 5 credits, you can post a 3000 word or so piece of writing. You can post a short story or chapters of your novel. I like this because you don’t have to wait for your work to enter the queue and you don’t have to commit to a critique a week – you can just do as many critiques as you need to “pay” for your piece. The hidden gem with Scribiophile though, is a novel swap group I joined. You team up a few times per year and swap novels around (no critique credits needed). It appears you end up with 4 critique of your novels (in exchange for doing 4 critiques of others work.) If you can’t wait for the novel swap, you can request dedicated readers through this group as well.

Now that I have a novel that is nearly complete, I’m in need of beta readers. So what will I do?

First, I’d like one person to read it to point out the obvious plot holes and other issues before I hand it over to others.  I’d hate to have the same problem pointed out over and over again. I was lucky and found someone on the Goodreads Beta Reader Group

GOODREADS BETA READER GROUP

There are four options on this site.

  1. Ask for a beta reader: Post a quick summary of your work and wait for someone to reply. I’ve been stalking this site for a few weeks now and it appears to be hit or miss if you have any takers. There are a lot of people offering paid services, but there are definitely some legitimate volunteer beta readers as well. (I want to publically thank them right now for doing this. WOW! There are so many good people in this world!)
  2. Find someone to swap your novel with: Pretty self-explanatory.
  3. Pay someone to read your writing: There are plenty of ads for those that will read and provide you with detailed feedback for a fee. Some are real cheap… $20-30. Some are more expensive… $125. BUT still much less than an editor – but you’ll probably still need one of those someday.
  4. Answer a post for someone wanting to beta read for free. I just did this yesterday and hopefully it all works out.

I imagine there are plenty of other fantastic options out there. (Hey, I wrote almost 1000 words on just 3 of them!)

So, how do you all get feedback on your writing?

I’d love to hear.

–Joy

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