Posts Tagged With: publishing

What I Learned from Bestselling Author Mary Buckham

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My RWA chapter hosted its annual conference a couple of weeks ago in Columbus, Ohio. Putting my school studies on hold for that weekend, I decided to make the trip up. It turns out that the conference was actually a day-long workshop, featuring author Mary Buckham.

Before attending the workshop, I’d had never heard of Mary Buckham. Call it ignorance, or just call it I’m still learning about writing world and everyone within it. I quickly learned that she is a USA Today bestselling author. She mainly writes high-concept urban fantasy and romantic suspense stories, resulting from her years of travel and curiosity about different cultures. She also writes books on how to get published, as well as crafting great stories – which was the focus of her presentation.

Mary touched on three important things during her presentation, which any writer could benefit from:

  1. Body Language – a great way to convey emotion without words, and all characters in a story should use this; so should writers when they want to convey emotion to the readers. Mary discussed the origins of body language and the different ways it can be used show emotions in a scene.

“As writers you can lead a reader into a deeper understanding of a scene, or a character, if you understand how you can, and cannot, use body signals to say what you mean.” – Mary Buckham.

2. Writing Active Hooks  – every story needs to have hooks. Something to draw the reader in. A situation that raises questions, which will make the reader keep turning the pages. Mary showed the audience different scenarios in which hooks can be generated, such as humor and overpowering emotion. Each of the categories featured specific examples from bestselling authors. The most important piece I learned from this is a hook must be present within the first three pages of a story, or else it will be rejected by an editor.

3. Character Development – we went much deeper into this since character development is so subjective. Mary had everyone work in groups where we had to list four adjectives that describe our characters. We exchanged our lists with other groups, where we then listed the opposite of list of character descriptions. Pretty clever idea, Mary! She wrapped up this part stating that characters need to be fully developed in order for readers to care about them.

After the workshop, I had dinner with Mary, as well as several attendees. We talked about my stories, and she offered suggestions on how to approach potential publishers. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Mary Buckham, and benefited from her presentation. It was certainly worth the two-hour drive and sacrificing my weekend. I just only hope I will see her again at some point in the future. Click on the link above to visit her official website.

Categories: Writing & Inspiration | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Why I am Going to Hire an Editor

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Well, it’s been awhile since I posted anything. Then I thought of something, which I’d been thinking over the holidays. When my stories are finished and self-edited, I intend to hire a professional editor. When I first began writing, someone told me, “We fall in love with our words, and never know how our stories look until someone else reads them.” That person was right. No matter how many times we rewrite scenes, we get so attached to our choice of verbs, nouns and adjectives that we forget that other people will eventually read our stories.

Some authors choose not to consult editors; they’re expensive and some are not as credible as they claim to be. Traditionally published authors don’t have to worry about this, since their publishers have editors. Indie authors, however, don’t have this luxury. They should hire an editor, since they are on their own with getting their book out there. I happen to be going down the indie path.

I debated hiring an editor until recently. I’ve been reading a short story by an author friend whose name shall remain anonymous. This author has self-published two stories and is working on a third. The author also told me they did not go through an editor. As I’ve been reading the story it’s obvious that an editor was not used. There is more telling than showing, as well as grammatical errors, which could’ve been caught by an editor. Furthermore, I found some reviews that noted these weaknesses. I have concluded that I don’t want to end up in this situation. It’s worth the time and money to get your story professionally polished. Hence, I am going to use an editor.

But that’s not the only reason I will use an editor. Other reasons include the following:

  • I need a second opinion
  • I want my stories to be the best they can be
  • No matter how many times I self-edit, there will be errors that I just couldn’t find
  • I’m an indie writer; I need all the help I can get

I’ve read other stories that were not professionally edited. I found numerous errors that irked me, as well as other readers (I’m sure). I don’t want to make that same mistake. As indie authors, we are on our own. Our decision to choose a professional editor can make or break our stories. Sure, you have to do your research on editors and they’ll set you back a month’s rent or more. But in the end, they are worth it.

Categories: Writing & Inspiration | Tags: , , , ,

Being aware of your readers

Someone once said that good writers are constantly wondering if their writing is good enough for their readers; bad ones have absolutely no doubt about their writing nor do they care if their readers like their writing or not. I didn’t believe this until I one day, while I was working on my novel, I asked myself, “Will my readers like this?” When I put a pen to the paper, I wonder how other readers will perceive my story. Will they understand my characters and get into the story the way I want them to? Ultimately, I won’t know this until my novel is published and readers begin reading it.

We should be aware of our own writing and how readers will perceive it. They are our customers after all; without them to read our stories, what is the point of writing? While no two readers are alike, we should treat our readers equally. They are doing you a favor by buying your book and reading it. Here are a few things to keep in mind when being aware of your readers:

  • don’t assume they will understand everything in your story; explain things which they might not understand.
  • make sure your characters and stories are real to YOU, or they won’t be to your reader.
  • when editing, switch yourself to reader mode. Read your story as a reader and not as a writer. Is your story flowing as well as when you first wrote it?
  • what type of readers are you targeting? What is it they are looking for in stories? Can they relate to your characters?
  • be aware of the vocabulary you using in narrative and dialogue. Unless you’re writing literature, don’t use advanced vocabulary; you don’t want your readers having to consult the dictionary every two pages
  • not every reader will like your story. There’s always one person that just doesn’t find your book appealing – accept it and move on.
Categories: Writing & Inspiration | Tags: , , , , ,

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