Monday, August 25, 2014

Summarize to Soothe that Dreaded F-Word: FEEDBACK

Will the day ever come that I don't need more than one set of eyes on my work? I don't think so. I dare say that best-selling authors have had at least one editor's pair of eyes to scour over their work. Novice's like me need much more than that. Writers need feedback before publishing. Both the dreaded and loved kind. Dreaded because they take your precious baby and tell you things that are wrong with it. Loved because they praise the choices that work and are beautiful. Feedback should include both.

This past week my new critique group gave my first submission--the sequel to my Book of Mormon fiction--the once over via ooVoo. Three faces on my screen told me lots of specifics that needed fixing. While I trusted that they new better, especially where all three agreed, I couldn't help feeling a small stab wound on my baby. It was a lot to take in. It's been a while since I've taken live feedback, but I'm certain my skin will quickly toughen up like it has in the past. Then I did something that made sense and made a difference to how I felt. I summarized.

When my time was about up, I said, "So this is what I'm hearing: My beginning is confusing, I need to start with the second scene, and my character needs more personality. Right?" Okay. I could handle that. I summarized the multiple markings down to three main issues. I'm not sure if I've ever handled it this way before, but I like it.

In reading my partners' second submissions, I read through, marking little things I noticed--good and bad. Then I wrote a short summary of the main issue(s). I plan to use this summary in opposite order with my partners when we meet. They can take the specific markings at their own pace later. If the discussion leads away from the summary, no problem. It's a great place to start when giving or receiving feedback. 

In other words:
To critique: mark passages first, summarize second. To give feedback: summarize first, review marked passages second. 
If you try "The Summary Method", please let me know how it worked for you. Happy critiquing!

Monday, August 18, 2014

A Writer's Summertime Musings & Book Releases

For a few more days, I'm leaving up a quick survey from the previous post (scroll below) in case you didn't get a chance to VOTE for my book title. My thanks to those of you who did (or will).

So...how did your summer go? Hopefully you enjoyed a few seasonal activities or a vacation. I enjoyed relaxing reunions o both sides of the family, seeing all my siblings at once. Fun stuff.
I'm wondering how many writers or readers out there keep up on their goals during the summer or if the kids being out of school make you put off those plans. Also, do you venture more into the pool-side light reads during summer and something more academic or substantial during autumn? How did summertime affect your habits and goals?

I took some vacation time, but apparently my muse did not. Writing went well for me this summer, jump-started with the fabulous LDStorymaker conference. I've been working on the sequel to my Book of Mormon fiction--the one where you can vote for the title--and gathering/completing stories for my narrative non-fiction, Missionary Stories. Having my adult son home for the summer made for a few adjustments--especially because I like silence when I write. Sometimes I reordered my priorities, sometimes I shut the office door. It all worked out.

Okay Jane Austen and romance fans, look for Rebecca Jamison's latest book out now! Click for her blog tour schedule.
From the back blurb: As if it wasn't bad enough to be getting food from Church welfare, I had to meet one of the Ferreros--a good-looking Ferrero, at that.
   Elly Goodwin, a brilliant programmer, is so desperate for a job that she takes one from her ex-boyfriend--the same man who put her family out of business. Then she meets Ethan Ferrero, who seems too good to be true--especially for her ex's brother-in-law. At the same time, she must help her sister Maren recover from a severe case of depression. Elly is far too busy for love, especially not with Ethan Ferrero.
   Meanwhile, Elly’s dramatic sister, Maren, has recovered enough to fall in love, and when she falls, she falls hard. Elly must intercede before Maren's passion clouds her common sense. Together, Elly and Maren must learn that a mixture of sense and sensibility is the perfect recipe for love.
Fans of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility will love this modern retelling of the classic romance novel.


Another great romance is coming our way. Lisa Swinton's Ring On Her Finger will release September 3rd. Here is the cover reveal and tagline: What happened in Vegas should stay there,not follow Amanda home wedded to the man who broke her heart.
The Blurb: After celebrating college graduation with her friends in Las Vegas, Amanda St. Claire wakes up with a terrible hangover and a ring on her finger. Her day gets worse when she finds out she's married to rich playboy Blake Worthington--the guy she loathed the past four years. Amanda convinces Blake to legally termintate the marriage and they both return home like nothing ever happened. That is, until Blake shows up on her doorstep and Amanda has to come clean with her family.
Together for better or worse while the legalities are cleared, Amanda reluctantly plays along, but then the unthinkable happens--she finds herself falling in love with Blake.
Can they overcome the past? Or will it end their future before it even starts?

The new-to-me website of the week is www.writershelpingwriters.net. You can easily lose yourself in looking through their tools and resources for writers. Wonderful stuff from the authors of several good thesaurus books. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Book Title Info and Vote

Let's say I'm deciding on a title for my book and YOU get to help me choose. I'm excited for your help because a book title is that all important first impression! Right now you are simply thumbing through titles. Which one grabs you? This is a snap decision - just go with your gut.
Please use the following choices in your selection:
Title A - Secrets of the King's Daughter: A Book of Mormon Romance
Title B - The Seventh City: A Book of Mormon Romance
Title C - The Seventh City of Believers
Title D - The Seventh City of Believers: A Book of Mormon Romance
Note: Click on a choice to drag and drop it into order.


Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Now become an informed consumer, not voting totally blind.
Genre: YA Historical Romance for the LDS audience
The Pitch: After a Lamanite prince’s murder, his young widow returns home to find anything but the pampered-princess life she desires. A Nephite missionary shakes her world, and only the worst candidate for marriage wants this unbeliever who fears that conversion will expose her crime.
Please Consider:
  • Likability - What emotional response does the title send to you? Does it strike a positive chord? 
  • Memorable - Is it easily remembered? Will it linger in your mind?
  • Identifiable - Do you know from the title what kind of book it is? Does it promise you something?
  • Metatags - Does it contain searchable keywords built into the title to give greater exposure?
  • Flow - Does it roll nicely off your tongue? Too long or short?
  • Marketability - Consumer appeal to the widest audience
Now on with the INFORMED VOTE! Your opinion may or may not change. (This will be quick, too.)
Please use the same following choices in your selection:
Title A - Secrets of the King's Daughter: A Book of Mormon Romance
Title B - The Seventh City: A Book of Mormon Romance
Title C - The Seventh City of Believers
Title D - The Seventh City of Believers: A Book of Mormon Romance


Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.
Thank you for your vote!

Monday, August 4, 2014

What Genre Is My Novel?

I've been vacillating since I began writing this book. I knew I wanted a love interest, but did it turn into more? Is my Historical Fiction a Romance or not?
Why it matters: Books need to be categorized in order to be found--whether it's put on a shelf by a librarian or bookstore staff, or searched online. A second but more personal reason concerns my title.
Backstory: I first called my novel The Seventh City. While I love that for a title, it doesn't clue us in to what it's about. Two of my suggestions to a marketing team were The Seventh City of Believers and The Seventh City: A Book of Mormon Novel. When the team came back with Secrets of the King's Daughter: A Book of Mormon Romance, I liked the descriptive first part quite well. Then I thought, "Oh, I guess it is a romance."
What is Romance? This description from findmeanauthor.com summed it up well: "The genre of Romantic Fiction has two strict criteria: The first is that the story must focus on the relationship and romantic love between two people. Secondly, the end of the story must be positive, leaving the reader believing that the protagonists' love relationship will endure for the rest of their lives."
Criteria 1 -- This only fits for the second half of the book. My MC, Karlinah, is required to marry. In the first part of the story, she has little or no say in whom she marries. That changes, but new complications prevent a suitable match. It isn't until later in the story that she finds one worthy enough to build a relationship. The first half of the story focuses more on Karlinah's self-discovery journey and why she puts off religious conversion.
Criteria 2 -- Definitely a happy ending!
Okay, so maybe that's close enough. 
Why I Care: I don't want to narrow the audience. I want male readers as well as female. My young adult son loved the manuscript but said he never would have picked it out on his own. The book contains kidnapping scenes, Ammon chopping off arms of the enemy, and a wonderful villain. On the other hand, the Romance genre is huge and females are the largest group of readers.
End Result: What it boils down to is that my book needs to be a great book, regardless of the title or genre. That is what I aim to do. Word-of-mouth stories are what people want to read. 
Did you have a favorite title? Please let me know. OR wait until next Monday and you can vote!

The new-to-me blog of the week is an author/editor with a new pen name and a revitalized blog to match. Visit Jenn Adams at http://www.authorjennadams.blogspot.com/ and give her some bloggy love.  

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Flat Character Arc

Here's my dilemma: How do I take a strong main character who already fulfilled a transforming growth arc in the first book and repeat it in the sequel? Karlinah can only learn so many lessons now that she is part of "a highly favored people of the Lord" who "never did fall away". I found my answer in Jordan McCollum's Character Arcs. Not all characters have growth arcs. Some have a negative arc (where the good turn bad) and some are flat. The book explores these along with the traditional growth arc. 

Character Arcs: founding, forming & finishing your character's internal journey (Writing Craft, #1) On page 61 Jordan says,"Sometimes the story is not a journey to improvement, but a proving ground of something the character has already learned." Think of the many fairy-tale characters like Snow White and Cinderella, where the good keep choosing to be good despite the hardships thrown at them. This is the Flat Character Arc. It can end happily ever after or in tragedy (though the character does not waver).

In the sequel I am writing, Karlinah's starting point defines her as already good. Her struggle will be that she is continually tempted to stay good. Think of the character pressing on against a headwind rather than climbing a mountain. It's simply a different kind of movement or growth. The temptations should grow worse and the consequences of those choices become greater. The character may not see rewards for making the right choice, making it more difficult to choose the right. There may be one final temptation to face in the climax, where giving in appears to have little consequence (but the opposite is true).

I am happy to learn that character arcs are not required to make a good story great. In this sequel, a flat character arc is what is right for my plot and character. There must still be conflict, but now my character has the freedom she needed to go in the proper direction.