Wednesday, June 11, 2014

How to Write Your First Novel in Eight Weeks

If you’re like me, you have dozens—maybe hundreds—of novels you started squirreled away in various locations on your computer and around your house. But between work, work, more work, sporadic sleep, and making sure your family still recognizes you by making an occasional appearance at a function (dinner is TOTALLY a function), it’s hard to get more than a few spare moments to scratch out your thoughts on paper. It’s even harder to carve out any spare time if you’re in school or have little ones running around the house, or both.

However, writing a novel can take less time that you think. A few hours a day can get a rough draft in of your novel completed in less than four weeks. Yep, that’s right, FOUR WEEKS!

Ok, but who actually has a few hours a day? Possibly people with part time jobs, I imagine. Maybe people who are currently on summer break (teachers, you couldn’t pay me enough to do your job, but I get awful jealous about your summer!). Not people who have kids, I’m pretty sure. But, do you have an hour a day? Maybe that hour where you normal sack out in front of the television, or read before you go to bed? What if I told you that you could write for an hour a day and have a full novel in six weeks?

The nitty gritty:

1.       Have a goal

Young adult fiction (which is my favorite to read) averages 50,000-70,000 words. Adult fiction runs a little higher, middle grade, or kid’s novels, run a little less. What kind of book are you writing? That’ll make a difference.

According to author Dean Wesley Smith, “Most professional writers can average about one thousand words an hour, when going on a novel. Not in the struggle of the beginnings, but once the novel is underway. So, simple math says that to write a 90,000 word novel, you have about 90 hours of work.”

While I’m not a math whiz, that tells me you can write 50,000 word in 50 hours. At an hour a day, that’s 50 days. 50 days is LESS THAN 8 WEEKS!

2.       Have someone keep you accountable

You know that annoying friend that reminds you about your diet every time you reach for a cookie? You need them to help you with this. Have them call, heckle, encourage (or whatever they call it) as often as you need to make sure you’ve written your 1,000 words that day.

3.       Write like your life depends on it

I always wrote my most inspired papers for college under that 24 hour deadline. Adrenaline accesses something in the creative part of my brain, allowing words to flow like the otherwise don’t. Is that you? Schedule your hour right before your favorite television show, and don’t turn the TV on until you’re done.

Or, hey, are you extremely committed to writing this novel? Take some vacation days from work, mix up a few margaritas, and go to town! If you wrote 5,000 words a day, you could complete a 70,000 word manuscript in 14 days!

4.       Eliminate distractions

Shut off the wifi to your computer. I always wonder how much more I would accomplish in life without Facebook! So, cut off your access. In fact, I make a game of it: if you hit 1,000 words before your hour is up, you get 5 minutes of Facebook. If not, you write another 500 words.

The Meat and Potatoes
You can know all this, but it only makes a difference if you actually sit down and write. Don’t get discouraged, even if you think what you’ve written sucks. Ernest Hemmingway said, “All first drafts of anything are shit.” It can be refined, perfected, and edited later. Just get those words down on paper!

People like me can hardly wait to read what you write!

Any other tips for writers? What works best for you? Please share!

Friday, June 6, 2014

I Published My First Ever Book!

I PUBLISHED MY FIRST EVER BOOK! In fact, you can buy an e-copy or a hard copy, though the first proof is en route to me via USPS, so it may need a little tweaking.
For all of you authors, this is probably less than thrilling; you're old hats at this.

For me, this is a goal I've had my whole life and just now realized.

I'm walking on air right now.

Check out a preview at

What do you think? Should I do a giveaway? Would you be interested, if I did?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

5 Google+ hacks

 I keep learning more crazy things about Google+, and I feel like I've barely scratched the surface. These are a few of the things I thought other people should know too!

1. You can receive Google+ notifications on your iPhone.

Now, Google+ has an excellent Android app, but nothing for the iPhone yet. If you can't get the app right now, you can still get SMS notifications on your phone.

Here's how to set it up:

Click the "gear" icon at the top right of your screen in Google+ and select "Google+ Settings." Click the "Google+" tab and click "Add phone number" under delivery preferences. Enter your cell number here. Google will send a verification code to your phone. Enter that code in the box that appears on Google+.

Next, scroll down and check what events you want to receive notifications for. (Mentions, photo tags, etc.)

2. You can mute notifications on one of your posts (this is my favorite Facebook feature; glad to see it here!).

If you're getting a lot of activity on a post (read: you're one of the popular kids), it can be irritating to get constant notifications. To mute notifications on a single post, open Notifications, click the annoying notification, and click "mute this post.”

3.  You can use free SMS in lieu of texting with Google Voice (if you have a teenage daughter and don't have unlimited texting, this might be a lifesaver for you!). Download the google voice app and you can get your updates on your iphone without having to pay for an unlimited texting plan. To be perfectly honest, I haven't tried this yet. The hubs and I have unlimited texting, but my coworker Brian SWEARS this is true.

4.  You can add more information to your pop-up window.
If you hover over your avatar, you're simply a thumbnail with a few words of description, likely your company name, profession or location. Booooooring!
Why don't you show people how fantastic you really are? Go to edit your profile, select the employment section, and in the first "Employer name" box, write what you want people to see (your bio, a short poem, whatever) and check the "current" box. Whatever you have written should now appear when people hover over your avatar.

5. You can add special photo effects.

Click on one of your photos to bring up the dark background view. Click the "Enhance" menu at the top right of your photo, then click “Customize” in the dropdown menu. Not only are there options such as "Auto Enhance" and "Tune Image," “Retrolux” and “HDR scape” are also available. So, you know, turn your pictures black and white or all old-timey!
What's your favorite Google+ hack? 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Writing Process Blog Hop: My First Blog Hop Ever!

I was invited by the talented Krista Quintana (Check out her blog, Color Coordinated) to participate in a blog hop. Naturally, I first panicked, because while I’ve seen these words around before, I had no idea what they meant. It’s like “hookeybobbing”; it means something (though definitely not something as dirty as it sounds), but I finally bucked up and asked this year. Trivia question: do you know what that means?
These are the questions I was asked to complete for you all. Hope you enjoy!

1.       What am I working on? Currently, I’m experimenting whether or not it’s possible to successfully self-publish a quality children’s picture book on a budget. I hope to have The Clumsy Princess available in both print and electronic versions by the end of June! I’m also working on a detective novel, yet untitled, that I hope to self-publish next year sometime.

2.       How does my work differ from others of its genre? I’m tired of children’s stories where the princess simply waits to be rescued. Instead, my princesses are adventurous, exciting, and have a life outside of waiting for a prince to show up and sweep them away to something better. These are the stories I want to read to my girls one day.

3.       Why do I write what I do? The Clumsy Princess is intended to encourage, in a fun way, accepting who you are, without being preach-y. I’m hoping that the subtle influences of a fun and courageous character will help girls not aspire to be the Disney-perfect princess, but instead realize that they don’t have to be perfect to be a princess in their own way.

4.       How does my writing process work? I write in fits and spurts. I know some people carve time out to write daily, but my days are utterly unpredictable, due to being on call 24/7 for work. However, when I sit down and write, often 5-10 pages will pour out of me at once. Usually, a story bangs and rattles around inside my head for a while until I absolutely must get it down on paper. The Clumsy Princess had been on my mind ever since my friend’s 18 month old daughter ended up in the Emergency Room again, this time for taking a fearless flying leap off the top bunk while on a family vacation.

Now you know a little about me… I’m interested in you! Tell me something about yourself?

And don’t forget to check out Krista Quintana’s blog, Color Coordinated

Friday, May 2, 2014

Excellent Writing Advice from Ernest Hemingway

 The writer of "A Farewell to Arms" and "The Old Man and the Sea," was a foul-mouthed, charmingly genuine man, with a love of the written word and grain alcohol. Never short on opinions, he contributed some of the best advice on writing I've ever had the pleasure of reading. Without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, the incorrigible Ernest Hemingway.
“The first draft of everything is shit.”

“The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shockproof, shit detector. This is the writer's radar and all great writers have had it.

“Write drunk, edit sober.”

“There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it’s like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.”

“Prose is architecture, not interior decoration.”

“In order to write about life first you must live it.”

“Eschew the monumental. Shun the Epic. All the guys who can paint great big pictures can paint great small ones.”

“The most solid advice for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”

“It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.”

“I write one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of shit. I try to put the shit in the wastebasket.”

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Time to Throw in the Towel? Self-Publishing Success Stories

I bet you've heard of every single one of the following people! And I bet you had no idea that they started as self-published authors. 

Warning: Results not typical. Contact your doctor in you experience double vision, as this may be a sign of a more serious condition. Side effects may include obsessive writing, giddiness, frustration, and words not fit for print. 

John Grisham wrote his first novel, "A Time To Kill" in 1989. He received 28 rejection letter before self-publishing a mere 5,000 copies through a small private publisher. He was eventually picked up by Doubleday. After writing three more books ("The Firm," "The Pelican Brief" and "The Client"), Grisham sold Doubleday the rights to "A Time To Kill," and reissued it. Now his books are available in every grocery store, bookstore, and airport in the United States. According to Wikipedia, he has sold more than 275 million books worldwide! Not too shabby!

The innocent childhood favorite, "The Tales of Peter Rabbit," was rejected several times by publisher. But Beatrix Potter knew she had a great idea and wouldn’t give up. She self-published Peter Rabbit’s stories in 1901. Only a year later, one of the publishers who had initially rejected the manuscript published it (want to bet they were humble and apologetic?). They also published 22 more of her stories. Over two million Beatrix Potter books are sold every year. BAM! Pretty fantastic for bunnies and frogs dressed in waistcoats!

E.L. James (Erika Leonard) has sold more than 70 million copies of her "Fifty Shades" trilogy worldwide. She started out writing Twilight fan fiction (literally just felt you shudder. It’s ok. I understand) stories and posting them on her website. When she wrote "Fifty Shades of Grey," she self-published it through a small Australian publishing company. It was released it on eBook and print-on demand. After the world discovered that a bunch of middle aged women enjoy BDSM erotica, the rights were acquired by Vintage Books.

William P. Young’s self-published Christian fiction book, “The Shack,” became a USA Time Bestseller, selling over a million copies. Before it was successful however, it was rejected by both secular and Christian publishing companies. In fact, Young and his friends created their own publishing company for the sole purpose of publishing that book. Marketing, for the first year, was simply word of mouth and a $300 website they paid someone to put together for them. In 2008, the book’s popularity exploded, and spent 70+ weeks on the New York Times Paperback Best Seller’s List.

There are more out there. And, with social media being what it is, there are more success stories coming! Hang in there, friends! You could be next!

Did any of this surprise you? What other self-publishing success stories are out there?

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

7 Ways to Fail at Self-Publishing

Just follow these 7 rules of thumb and you’re sure not to succeed in your self-publishing endeavor!

1.       Don’t follow basic “rules” of writing. Misspellings are fine; people will get the gist of what you’re saying (who remembers whether it’s effect or affect anyway?). Grammar is for the birds. Oh, and don’t worry about things like storylines, plots, character arcs, themes, and conflicts. If you build it, they will come after all. It’s not like you’re writing drivel, you’ve written a masterpiece!

2.       Do your own editing, formatting, cover design, and proofreading. No one knows this book like you! It’s your baby, born of your sweat, blood and tears. No one should ever get close to it with a red pen. Ever. Maybe Mom can read it before you’ve published it. She thinks you’re awesome.  And you can do your own cover design, even if the only program you can use with any competency is MS Paint.

3.       Market to other authors EXCLUSIVELY. Because people who are trying to market their book surely want to read yours. In fact, CRAM IT DOWN THEIR THROATS! They should see your book cover in their dreams! What a better way to go about it?

4.       Write (or buy) a bunch of rave reviews of your book. Great idea! Let’s pay/guilt/force Mom’s bridge club (c’mon Mom, you know you love your child!) to log into Amazon and write a bunch of phony rave reviews about your book. I can write a few, I’ll trade you a good review for your book if you give me a good review for mine. That can’t get you banned from Amazon for life… Right?

5.       Don’t talk to other authors: they’re your competition! Ack! Stay away from those guys (and gals)! They probably don’t have any experiences or wisdom they can pass on. They’re probably mean and snobby and unfriendly. In fact, they’re probably going to recommend you have someone else proofread your book and attack it with red pen. Better just avoid them altogether, except for when you force feed them another reminder to BUY YOUR BOOK!

6.       Expect through-the-roof sales immediately. Your baby is luxurious, heartrending, pure gold in written form. Everyone will see that, especially when Mom’s bridge club (HURRY UP, GUYS!) posts all those fantastic reviews for people on Amazon. Readers will be crawling all over themselves to read the beautiful things that spill forth from your innermost soul. You’ll probably be a millionaire in weeks, if sales run slower than you expect. Realistically, probably a millionaire in a few days.  

7.       Publish your first novel before you have a second one read to go. This is your pièce de résistance, your Mona Lisa. Nothing you will ever write can compare to the profoundness, the absolute purity of art in this first book. It’s not like you would ever offer it free so people will read more of what you’ve written, and people would be ridiculous to find an author they like and read all of their books when yours is obviously the pinnacle of writing.

Obviously, there are exceptions to every rule, but these seem to be pretty hard and fast. What would you add to this list?