On Writing: Keeping the Faith

What to Expect When You’re Reading Christian Fiction

Guest post by TC Slonaker

writing christian fiction

freedigitalphotos.net/anankkml

I am a Christian. What does that mean to me?

Here’s the main point of what I believe - I have sinned. Even though I couldn’t help it, I still deserve to be punished for my wrong. Why? Because when I die, there are only two possible outcomes: being with God forever (in heaven) or not being with God forever (eventually in hell). There was only one way to erase all sin. God had to cast away His perfect Son, Jesus, as the  sacrifice for sins.

Christianity is not my religion; it is my way of life. From the time I first discovered Jesus, God, the Bible, and church – when I was seven years old – until now, there has been one thought always in the corner of my mind:

“Is God pleased with the life I am living for Him?”

My theology in a nutshell. I believe a lot of other details, but that’s the crux of it.

Back to the original question: What does that have to do with my life?

God has put more in my life than just worshipping Him in church. While my regular job is in my church, I also have kids and talk to their friends’ parents. I play softball. I dawdle on Facebook and Goodreads. I have an extended family. All the while, trying to make sure I am giving the best Christian example I can.

I am also a writer. How do I incorporate the above into my writing?

Well, the Bible has already been written. And we are encouraged in the good book not to add one iota to it for dire consequences. So what’s left to write?

Writing about people.

Here’s the problem. Remember how I said that all people have sinned? That actually works pretty well to make for interesting books. But wouldn’t God frown on reveling that sin?

As a Christian, shouldn’t I be writing about how to do it right? What being a Christian looks like?

The truth would be more honest, wouldn’t it?

For example, there is a situation in my first novel, Amity of the Angelmen, where a young priest (Father Mackenzie Abel) falls in love – and perhaps takes it a step too far – with a 17-year-old girl. Especially in light of all the bad press the Catholic church has received recently about abuse among priests, I was extremely nervous about putting this in.

Here’s the deal. Mackenzie is not perfect, even though he is a priest. He makes mistakes. When you read the book, you will probably like the character. (The most frequent question I receive about the book is, “What happens to Mackenzie?”) So, if I have done my job as an author correctly, you will feel his pain in knowing he did what he shouldn’t have done. Some of you will think, “Good for him!” Others of you will think, “What are you doing?” But you will all know that he knows he has sinned.

I’m not condoning it. I’m simply saying it happens.

A book I have slated to come out possibly next year gets even darker with the life of the suicidal child of an alcoholic. I really struggled writing it, because I have no experience with a life like that. But I know it’s out there. And this is a story of how God can use even someone with no self-worth to become the commander of His army.

My books aren’t about perfect people. (Amity is afraid to do as she’s told. Asher is prideful and uses his popularity in using girls to fill his loneliness, Malachi is an angry delinquent with plenty of blood on his hands, and Caedmon could be responsible for the death of his parents.) None of that is new to God. There is hope for these four. When the Israelites needed to get through Jericho, they used the help of a prostitute. That prostitute wound up being in the bloodline of Jesus Christ.

Maybe you don’t necessarily write Christian fiction, but you are struggling because a book you are writing is going to a place that scares you. What do you do when you have to write something you don’t believe?

Take a deep breath. Remember you are writing fiction, not a Guide Book to Life. No one should be reading your book for advice on how to live their lives. If they do – just blame your character. (And be sure to escape your character’s mind after he does the dirty deed.  You don’t want to get any ideas of your own!)

So, I am a Christian writer. What does that mean?

I tell it like it is, and God gets the glory for any good that comes of it. So read on, and be comforted that you are not alone.


On Writing: Thinking Outside the Box

Do We Choose Genres, or Do They Choose Us?

Guest post by Angel Lawson

writing process choosing genres

© Photoeuphoria | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

I’ve never been one to settle inside a particular box. This holds true in most areas of my life but definitely in the creative ones. The more pressure I feel to fit inside a particular mold the more likely I am to kick and push and flex to get outside.

I’ve spent years as a visual artist and teacher. There’s nothing I enjoy more than finding materials and figuring out how to make them into something new. Bottle caps, scrap paper, paint, wood and anything else reusable can be reconfigured into a million different original pieces.  I think this is what held such appeal with writing, taking words and ideas and situations and then forming them into an entirely original creation.

My favorite part about being a writer is the endless possibilities and directions I can venture into. This is especially true as a self-published author. Once upon a time I queried agents and publishers. Going the traditional route seemed the best way to go, right? What did I know about publishing? Nothing. But the more and more I learned about self-publishing the more it appealed to me. One reason was the fact I don’t “fit” in any one box very well, I never have. Playing in a variety of sandboxes makes me happy. Because of this I started playing “What if?”

What if I get an agent and they only want YA paranormal?

What if they want a series and I get writers block? (I don’t do well when people tell me what to do).

What if I decide I don’t want to write anymore and I want to do something different creatively?

I slowly started to realize that the traditional route wasn’t really the best direction for me.

The first book I published fell in the Paranormal YA genre. Before that was published I’d finished another book, a Contemporary, Coming-of-Age YA. Next up was a New Adult novella. Followed by an Adult Urban Fantasy. Because I’m bound to no one but myself (and my readers) I write what I want to write and how I want to write it. Sometimes I like to write things that test the waters. Other times I write what comes from my heart and brain at the moment. It’s all done at my own pace in my own way. Some books come very quickly while others require a lot of plotting and planning.  Like most things in life, I think the books we love and work on the most probably receive the least attention. The others that we write in a manic flurry in the middle of the night receive the most.

What’s it like to write so many genres? Pretty fun, actually. I do think it confuses readers some. They don’t know exactly what they are getting from book to book.  I have to hope that if they enjoy one book they’ll pick up the next one and give it a shot. I never get bored and I never think, “Oh I don’t write X genre so I can’t go there,” or “you can’t use footnotes or illustrations.”

Why not? The best way to me to be successful and happy is to ride the wave of my creativity, which over the years I’ve learned, holds no bounds.

About the Author

Angel Lawson lives in Atlanta with 2 mini-superheroes, one big-superhero wannabe and a growing herd of pets. She spend her days creating art out of words, glue and glitter while chasing away zombies, serial killers and ghosts at night. She is the author of FanGirl, The Wraith Series and an adult romance, Serial Summer. The third book in the Wraith series will be released in December 2013.

Follow Angel Lawson

Website

Twitter

Facebook


On Writing: Thinking Outside the Box

Do We Choose Genres, or Do They Choose Us?

Guest post by Angel Lawson

writing process choosing genres

© Photoeuphoria | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

I’ve never been one to settle inside a particular box. This holds true in most areas of my life but definitely in the creative ones. The more pressure I feel to fit inside a particular mold the more likely I am to kick and push and flex to get outside.

I’ve spent years as a visual artist and teacher. There’s nothing I enjoy more than finding materials and figuring out how to make them into something new. Bottle caps, scrap paper, paint, wood and anything else reusable can be reconfigured into a million different original pieces.  I think this is what held such appeal with writing, taking words and ideas and situations and then forming them into an entirely original creation.

My favorite part about being a writer is the endless possibilities and directions I can venture into. This is especially true as a self-published author. Once upon a time I queried agents and publishers. Going the traditional route seemed the best way to go, right? What did I know about publishing? Nothing. But the more and more I learned about self-publishing the more it appealed to me. One reason was the fact I don’t “fit” in any one box very well, I never have. Playing in a variety of sandboxes makes me happy. Because of this I started playing “What if?”

What if I get an agent and they only want YA paranormal?

What if they want a series and I get writers block? (I don’t do well when people tell me what to do).

What if I decide I don’t want to write anymore and I want to do something different creatively?

I slowly started to realize that the traditional route wasn’t really the best direction for me.

The first book I published fell in the Paranormal YA genre. Before that was published I’d finished another book, a Contemporary, Coming-of-Age YA. Next up was a New Adult novella. Followed by an Adult Urban Fantasy. Because I’m bound to no one but myself (and my readers) I write what I want to write and how I want to write it. Sometimes I like to write things that test the waters. Other times I write what comes from my heart and brain at the moment. It’s all done at my own pace in my own way. Some books come very quickly while others require a lot of plotting and planning.  Like most things in life, I think the books we love and work on the most probably receive the least attention. The others that we write in a manic flurry in the middle of the night receive the most.

What’s it like to write so many genres? Pretty fun, actually. I do think it confuses readers some. They don’t know exactly what they are getting from book to book.  I have to hope that if they enjoy one book they’ll pick up the next one and give it a shot. I never get bored and I never think, “Oh I don’t write X genre so I can’t go there,” or “you can’t use footnotes or illustrations.”

Why not? The best way to me to be successful and happy is to ride the wave of my creativity, which over the years I’ve learned, holds no bounds.

About the Author

Angel Lawson lives in Atlanta with 2 mini-superheroes, one big-superhero wannabe and a growing herd of pets. She spend her days creating art out of words, glue and glitter while chasing away zombies, serial killers and ghosts at night. She is the author of FanGirl, The Wraith Series and an adult romance, Serial Summer. The third book in the Wraith series will be released in December 2013.

Follow Angel Lawson

Website

Twitter

Facebook


On Writing: The Importance of Critique Partners

Bad Girlz Write: Part Two

writing with critique partnersWeek before last (May 15), the talented ladies over at the Bad Girlz Write blog hosted a J to tha M chat about critique partners. You can read the final version here, but, as you may have noticed, we can be wordy bitches–or, at least, M can. We had so much fun with the subject and subsequent chat, we decided to share all the crap we cut on the FFYW blog. Lucky you guys, right?

Outtakes and Deleted Scenes

J: Jesus. how long has it been?

sometimes it doesn’t feel like long at all

and sometimes I feel like I’ve known you forever

when was that contest I asked you to judge?

M: Early 2010?

J: I read one of your stories and stalked you

I mean, asked you to judge a contest

I don’t even remember the contest

but I do remember getting all heart-clenchy when I read your stuff and wishing I could do that

make people get all heart-clenchy, I mean

and when I put that call out on twitter for a WC and you popped up, I kind of fangirled. a little. I mean, a tiny bit

M: I love to hear heart-clenchy

and, man, that was a long time ago

J: we’ve been pretty together on a lot of things

M: except that fluffcloud thing

J: you love my fluffcloud

M: the whole licorice and cotton candy

J: I keep you smiling through your gross licorice

you also love knocking me off of my cotton candy fluffcloud on occasion

I oblige you

that’s what friends do

M: keep it balanced

J: How did we get to the point where we wouldn’t write anything without the other seeing it?

M: I think it was during the WC chats where we both were kind of eyeing each other

J: and we gradually moved to private chats

from pasting bits and pieces to sending the whole chapter

we were sponges, ready to grab whatever we could from each other

soak up

M: and we were not only open to learning, but wanted it desperately

J: I loved that you were willing to make changes

instead of thinking you had it down because you had so many readers

and also that you were willing to give me a shot in spite of the few readers I had

M: honestly, I didn’t write to get readers. I wrote to get it out of my head and share. Part of that has always been wanting to make it better

J: that was so easy for me to see, too

M: make it better to satisfy myself and hopefully anyone who happens to read it along with it

J: we did go through a pretty short “getting to know you” period

if someone were to ask me why I trust you so much–well, we’ve covered a lot of it. Definitely your willingness to keep learning. I know if you don’t know, you’ll look it up. I never worry that you’ll tell me something without knowing for sure

then there’s your ability, which I saw firsthand. I already respected your writing before we met

M: it’s the being able to admit and understand that we might be wrong and willing to learn if we are or not

honestly, attitude is the most important thing

J: it’s hard to have a partnership when one believes she/he is better than the other

M: and it’s being able to question, too

not take everything the other says for granted

being able to argue a point

being able to accept when we’re wrong – and when we’re right

and know there are no hard feelings, that we can have a healthy debate

be honest but kind, not hurt each other’s feelings

J: some of your “no effing way” choices make me giggle sometimes, too

You with cooing. Me with flesh.

I just made myself shudder with that one

M: only babies and old ladies coo

not hunky heroes

just no

J: I never had a hunky hero coo

for the record

M: thank baby jesus

J: who would definitely coo

M: Only as as a baby

J: We just kind of fell in each other’s laps (or not. still working on that one.)

M: you’re going to be working a long time

J: I’m determined. Another thing you love about me

M: As far as finding a good CP, get to know people, who you fit with

J: it really is hit or miss. it’s just a matter of sticking it out

M: like meeting friends

J: and actually don’t be quick to trust

M: some people you like and click with, some you don’t

J: however our story might contradict that

M: everyone has different strength and weaknesses, and it’s great when you find someone who complements, balances

but the most important thing is comfort and attitude, I think

J: I can’t even begin to say how grateful I am for your patience when I’m going through your stuff

when I feel like someone’s tapping their watch, I make mistakes. I miss things.

M: yes, it’s a lot of understanding and being considerate on all kinds of levels, while being honest, too

honest about the editing issues, as well as time, and knowledge

when you have that level of trust, you both feel comfortable in asking and doing

M: writing is a lot of stress

and emotion

J: I just realized (again) how special you are

M: we have a pretty special relationship

J: what’s really telling of the comfort and trust in our partnership is our decision to write a whole book together

and then, because we’re either geniuses or fucking idiots, a whole series

M: and those two things together can be a fuck-all mess

J: I usually sway toward geniuses

M: oh, absolutely :)

J: I also think it’s going to be obvious to anyone reading this chat that I’m definitely the cotton candy

heh

M: good critique partners are all about support – all different kinds

I’m the whippy licorice, for sure.

J: but man, I love you

M: aw, I love you, too

we need that balance

otherwise, we’d be flaily messes

J: and I can’t thank you enough every day for the support you’ve given and still give. The knowledge, the patience, the learning, the understanding, the firm line in the sand once in a while…

M: it goes both ways, it really does.

I couldn’t do this without you

J: and I feel the same

M: if you weren’t there to talk me down from my ledge…

J: it’s also important to mention that we weren’t the only person there for each other. What lonely lives that would be

we’ve always been smart enough to know someone outside needs to see it first, too

M: absolutely

J: I had Tiff; you had Sarah

and sometimes even more eyes beyond that

M: oh, yes

M: no manuscript is ever perfect. someone will always find something

fresh eyes

that understanding there makes us even stronger

J: and you and I have never had a problem with sharing

M: if we did, we wouldn’t have the relationship we do

J: because we’re lucky bitches.


J to tha M Review The Elemental Mysteries Series

Four Book Reviews in One!

elemental mysteriesSince our scheduled reviewer was unable to make the deadline, we decided to post a J to tha M chat about a series we both read and really enjoyed. Hope you do, too!

M: So, that rec you gave me last week.

The Elemental Mysteries series by Elizabeth Hunter

That Kindle is doing the job and making you read more – yay!

J: Heh, yes. Did you like?

M: I really did. Ate them up.

J:  the most impressive thing about these books is that they’re self-published

I know she works with an editor or several

M: I think the most impressive thing is the world building, to be honest

Vampire clans coming from each of the four elements and being able to manipulate them

the self-publish adds to the interesting, though

her books are a great example of self-pub done right

elemental mysteriesJ:  I really think so, too. What was amazing was that I didn’t THINK I was super attached to the characters in the first one, but I still couldn’t wait to read the next one. So apparently I was connected.

M:  yes, exactly. I felt there were some minor issues with the first one – pacing, some editing, small stuff like that – but I was so happy to find she fixed those little irritations in the subsequent books

I think in fixing those issues, it allowed me to make that strong connection I wanted but just didn’t quite get in the first one

J:  Another surprising thing was how much I actually rooted for the heroine. I mean, she managed to get herself kidnapped every time she turned around, but she wasn’t whiny or weak

M:  yes, she did a great job on that balance

making the heroine strong and self-sufficient while still having human weakness in a vampire world

and then toward the end – yeehaw. B was an awesome badass

J:  Oh, and real vampire fights. Hallelujah! I don’t usually seek out vampire books, and it actually surprised me when this one was

but I was excited to see real action

not lots of worry for nothing

elemental mysteriesM: and well-written real action

J: ohhhhh

and the love scenes

the way the vampires mated and drew strength

M: mm, yes

it’s similar to BDB in that they get strength in feeding from their mates

which is a huge sexy trigger, I think

and she managed to do it very well and very uniquely in the world and mythology she built

J:  hmmm. I still haven’t read that

it’s kind of funny to see the different vampire mythologies

how they cross and mirror and then take off in another direction

elemental mysteriesM:  lots of fun things to work with when writing about vampires

but speaking of all the sexy triggers…

Giovanni

J:  oh hey

the name is enough

M:  I mean, she hit just about all those triggers and made him believable and not over the top

Gorgeous Italian renaissance man. Ruthless and unbeatable fighter. Deadly killer. Protective, faithful, loving.

and a fire vampire

I mean, come on. That was awesome.

A vampire who can control fire

J:  without killing himself

also important

so he’s specialer

M:  just the mental image she painted of him walking toward his enemies with blue flames licking all over his upper body, ready to blast them out of existence

Yep. Sexy.

elemental worldJ:  and then there’s Carwyn

adorable

and set up beautifully for his own book

M:  yes

and I love how the characters are not all purely good or purely bad (except Lorenzo – he’s a great villain)

she manages that balance very well, too

shows the real flaws like we all have and makes you cheer for them

J:  he seemed a little….dimwitted for a villain at times

but then that was a great device, too

because dumb people are often more dangerous than the smart ones

M:  I didn’t exactly see it as dimwitted, more like he let his personal vengeance get in the way of world domination

that was his flaw

I went through all four Gio and Beatrice books this past week, and am halfway through Carwyn’s story

J: Yay! Glad you liked.

M: Oh, yes. I really did. So glad I continued on to the second. I feel it’s much stronger, as is the rest of the series. Isn’t A Hidden Fire still free on Amazon right now? I need to go buy the next in the spin-off series.

brb

Book Review Elemental Mysteries

About the Author

Elizabeth Hunter is a contemporary fantasy and romance author. She is a graduate of the University of Houston Honors College in the Department of English (Linguistics) and a former English teacher.

She currently lives in Central California with a seven-year-old ninja who claims to be her child. She enjoys reading, writing, travel, and bowling (despite the fact that she’s not very good at it.) Someday, she plans to learn how to scuba dive. And maybe hang glide. But that looks like a lot of running.

She is the author of the Elemental Mysteries and Elemental World series, the Cambio Springs series, and other works of fiction.


J to tha M Review The Elemental Mysteries Series

Four Book Reviews in One!

elemental mysteriesSince our scheduled reviewer was unable to make the deadline, we decided to post a J to tha M chat about a series we both read and really enjoyed. Hope you do, too!

M: So, that rec you gave me last week.

The Elemental Mysteries series by Elizabeth Hunter

That Kindle is doing the job and making you read more – yay!

J: Heh, yes. Did you like?

M: I really did. Ate them up.

J:  the most impressive thing about these books is that they’re self-published

I know she works with an editor or several

M: I think the most impressive thing is the world building, to be honest

Vampire clans coming from each of the four elements and being able to manipulate them

the self-publish adds to the interesting, though

her books are a great example of self-pub done right

elemental mysteriesJ:  I really think so, too. What was amazing was that I didn’t THINK I was super attached to the characters in the first one, but I still couldn’t wait to read the next one. So apparently I was connected.

M:  yes, exactly. I felt there were some minor issues with the first one – pacing, some editing, small stuff like that – but I was so happy to find she fixed those little irritations in the subsequent books

I think in fixing those issues, it allowed me to make that strong connection I wanted but just didn’t quite get in the first one

J:  Another surprising thing was how much I actually rooted for the heroine. I mean, she managed to get herself kidnapped every time she turned around, but she wasn’t whiny or weak

M:  yes, she did a great job on that balance

making the heroine strong and self-sufficient while still having human weakness in a vampire world

and then toward the end – yeehaw. B was an awesome badass

J:  Oh, and real vampire fights. Hallelujah! I don’t usually seek out vampire books, and it actually surprised me when this one was

but I was excited to see real action

not lots of worry for nothing

elemental mysteriesM: and well-written real action

J: ohhhhh

and the love scenes

the way the vampires mated and drew strength

M: mm, yes

it’s similar to BDB in that they get strength in feeding from their mates

which is a huge sexy trigger, I think

and she managed to do it very well and very uniquely in the world and mythology she built

J:  hmmm. I still haven’t read that

it’s kind of funny to see the different vampire mythologies

how they cross and mirror and then take off in another direction

elemental mysteriesM:  lots of fun things to work with when writing about vampires

but speaking of all the sexy triggers…

Giovanni

J:  oh hey

the name is enough

M:  I mean, she hit just about all those triggers and made him believable and not over the top

Gorgeous Italian renaissance man. Ruthless and unbeatable fighter. Deadly killer. Protective, faithful, loving.

and a fire vampire

I mean, come on. That was awesome.

A vampire who can control fire

J:  without killing himself

also important

so he’s specialer

M:  just the mental image she painted of him walking toward his enemies with blue flames licking all over his upper body, ready to blast them out of existence

Yep. Sexy.

elemental worldJ:  and then there’s Carwyn

adorable

and set up beautifully for his own book

M:  yes

and I love how the characters are not all purely good or purely bad (except Lorenzo – he’s a great villain)

she manages that balance very well, too

shows the real flaws like we all have and makes you cheer for them

J:  he seemed a little….dimwitted for a villain at times

but then that was a great device, too

because dumb people are often more dangerous than the smart ones

M:  I didn’t exactly see it as dimwitted, more like he let his personal vengeance get in the way of world domination

that was his flaw

I went through all four Gio and Beatrice books this past week, and am halfway through Carwyn’s story

J: Yay! Glad you liked.

M: Oh, yes. I really did. So glad I continued on to the second. I feel it’s much stronger, as is the rest of the series. Isn’t A Hidden Fire still free on Amazon right now? I need to go buy the next in the spin-off series.

brb

Book Review Elemental Mysteries

About the Author

Elizabeth Hunter is a contemporary fantasy and romance author. She is a graduate of the University of Houston Honors College in the Department of English (Linguistics) and a former English teacher.

She currently lives in Central California with a seven-year-old ninja who claims to be her child. She enjoys reading, writing, travel, and bowling (despite the fact that she’s not very good at it.) Someday, she plans to learn how to scuba dive. And maybe hang glide. But that looks like a lot of running.

She is the author of the Elemental Mysteries and Elemental World series, the Cambio Springs series, and other works of fiction.


On Editing: Prepping Your Manuscript for Editing

Don’t Make Your Editor’s Job Harder

Guest post by Tiff Nichols

preparing your manuscript for editing

© Igorabond | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

As a freelancer, I edit all types of writing, but my work consists mainly of editing novels. It’s a lengthy process. In fact, I wish all authors understood just how much work goes into editing their manuscripts.

I will admit that one of my pet peeves is receiving a manuscript that has obviously not seen any part of the editing process.

“But the editing part is YOUR job,” you might say.

Yes, that’s true. Editing is my job. But quality is important to me, and if you want the highest quality from me, you need to do your part as well.

My husband asked me yesterday, “Why don’t you just run a spellcheck? Wouldn’t that be faster?” He’s an engineer. Of course he looks for the quickest, most efficient way to do something. Alas, that’s not how the editing process works.

I don’t just run a spellcheck and then scan the manuscript for errors. I do a thorough reading of the novel, keeping an eye out for technical errors as well as issues with content. If I just did a quick read-through, I might not process the fact that Sally was wearing a blue shirt in paragraph two and a red shirt in paragraph five. It’s important to pick up on minor errors like this. Readers do, and they are extremely quick to point them out.

So what can you do to ensure that your manuscript is ready to be placed in your editor’s capable hands?

First, be absolutely sure that your book is finished. Please don’t send it to your editor mere minutes after typing the final sentence of your first draft. Let it sit for a while. Let it stew. Then go back to it and read it from page one. You’re going to want to make changes. Do it now. Your editor doesn’t want to see a slew of emails that say things like, “Oh, I forgot I wanted to add this paragraph on page nine!”  The pages you send out for editing should be your final draft. That said, no editor is going to say you’re not allowed to add something in if you’re hit by a stroke of genius later on down the road.

Once you’re satisfied with what you have, please—please—USE SPELLCHECK. That will take care of the simple typos and misspelled words that build up and take away from the time I spend with your novel.

Before you send your manuscript, make sure to format it correctly. This means that the font should be something simple like Times New Roman, usually around 12 point. It seems to be easiest on the eyes. Flashy fonts are a pain. Double-spacing your draft can help as well. Editing may be done electronically these days, but it can still make it easier to see what errors have been marked and corrected without things getting too crowded. Save your word as a .doc in Word to make things easy. If you don’t have Word, other writing programs (such as Pages for Mac) have the ability to export your document into a Word document.

Lastly, you should provide some basic information for your editor. Include a short summary and a word count. It’s also important to notify the editor of any special information. For instance, maybe Billy explains string theory on page thirty-four, but he gets it wrong on purpose.

All in all, a freelance editor like me is happy to see new clients. I’m not going to turn you away because you didn’t double-space your manuscript or didn’t give me a summary. If I have questions, I’ll ask; however, prepping your manuscript before sending it really helps move the process along faster.

About the Author

Tiffany is a freelance editor and writer in Charleston, South Carolina. Her vices include coffee, wine, Turner Classic Movies, and being lazy. Sometimes she brings home stray dogs. Her husband humors her whims, bless his soul. Check out her website, Write Edit Repeat, for information on her editing and writing services.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


On Writing: World Building Through Research, History, and Just Good Ol’ Imagination

Vikings and Chatting and Travis Fimmel, Oh My!

Guest Post by Sandi Layne

Finding Inspiration for writingFirst, I want to thank J and M for letting me hang out on their blog. I’ve been here since Day One (on the blog. . .) and I love to watch them “chat” and so on. So much fun!

The only place I’ve really posted in a “chat” format was on my blog in conjunction with author Lissa Bryan. She and I discussed the History Channel’s original series VIKINGS every Monday for nine weeks.

It was fantastic. You see, I write about Vikings myself. Just not the same breed of Vikings as were on the show, so I enjoyed very much seeing the variations in the culture of those in Scandinavia and those in Nordweg—today’s Norway. The latter are what I’ve spent years growing a bit close to, in one way or another.

Compare and Contrast

In my book Éire’s Captive Moon (book one of my Éire’s Viking Trilogy), I researched and wrote of the Northmen from Nordweg, who had a different social system from the people who lived in what are now Sweden and Denmark. Though I use the word “viking” in the title, the men themselves did not use that word so it isn’t actually used in the stories. They called themselves Ostmen,while others in Europe used the term “vikingr.” This could refer to a man who lives near a vik – or one who sails or roams on the sea. It is an Old Norse word, and I use Old Norse dictionaries as I write these stories.

I did not use the old sagas as a basis for my writing, in general. Instead, I used what history I could glean from accounts from Éire—Ireland—and what has been found in archeological digs in Norway and Ireland. When Lissa indicated that the series has used some of the legends that came from the warrior Ragnar Lothbrok (there are alternate spellings, of course), I knew I’d have little knowledge of the plot that the series would take, though I did recognize much of the clothing and housing and crafts used in the series.

And, of course, the fighting styles. The Northmen fought with battle axes and spears, mostly. Very few had swords as they were costly and hard to make.

I did compare many things that I saw in the series to what I had found in my research, and many of the cultural references are the same. The leadership was different, involving a different political structure. Norway was not yet bound together as a cohesive body under one ruler at the time of my writing.

Timing

I am really kind of relieved that I had the first book in the trilogy written many years ago, initially. Self-published as Captive Irish Moon, the book was finished in the summer of 2004. My research didn’t end there, though! I’ve kept at it and new finds have been discovered, which made my original timeline off and it was very frustrating.

Getting the opportunity to adjust some of the details was great when ECM was accepted by my publisher. The original book is still the original story, but I’ve allowed myself to expand it through my notion of getting to the leadership of the only Viking who ever claimed the High Kingship of Ireland: Tuirgeis (also known by other names). Each of the three books in my series deal with the Norse culture of the early ninth century, including their clothing, beliefs, social structure and marriage customs.

I also explore how the Ostmen invade Éire and settle there.

I am relieved, as I said, because my story is told, in my head, for the most part. Book two was in editing by the time VIKINGS was broadcast on television, so I knew that there would be no subconscious borrowing of legends or materials or anything. For my personal mental health, this is a good thing. The second book of my trilogy is called Éire’s Viking and it should be out early in 2014.

The third book is being written now and I’m calling it Éire’s Devil King as a working title. I know that History Channel is planning a second season of their show in 2014, but by the time it airs, my trilogy will be complete on my end, so I will enjoy the show as it is presented.

Reverb Effect?

I think that I was fortunate to have a book out on Vikings from the same era (more or less) as those in the History Channel show. I confess to shamelessly tweeting to my followers that if they just couldn’t wait for Sunday night and the next episode of VIKINGS, then they could buy my book for their Kindle and get more Vikings immediately.

Did it work? I have no idea. Maybe?

By the time the next season rolls around, Éire’s Viking will likely be out and I would like to hope that the contrast between what is likely to happen in the life of Ragnar Lothbrok and the what is happening in the life of Agnarr Halvardson, who chooses to settle in Éire, will be appealing.

[For any of my readers who were Team Agnarr after reading Éire’s Captive Moon, I think book two will make them happy. And the Team Cowan people? You’ll be happy, too.]

About the Author

Wife of one and mom of two, Sandi currently resides in Maryland. Besides historical fiction, she writes contemporary inspirational romances – one of which will be released this summer.  Her interests involve researching anything, autism, and learning how to spin by hand. Coffee and the written word are her addictions, and she loves the world before the sun lights the sky.

Find Sandi Anywhere…

Website

Éire’s Captive Moon on Amazon

Sandi Layne on Goodreads

Twitter

Facebook page


On Writing: World Building Through Research, History, and Just Good Ol’ Imagination

Vikings and Chatting and Travis Fimmel, Oh My!

Guest Post by Sandi Layne

Finding Inspiration for writingFirst, I want to thank J and M for letting me hang out on their blog. I’ve been here since Day One (on the blog. . .) and I love to watch them “chat” and so on. So much fun!

The only place I’ve really posted in a “chat” format was on my blog in conjunction with author Lissa Bryan. She and I discussed the History Channel’s original series VIKINGS every Monday for nine weeks.

It was fantastic. You see, I write about Vikings myself. Just not the same breed of Vikings as were on the show, so I enjoyed very much seeing the variations in the culture of those in Scandinavia and those in Nordweg—today’s Norway. The latter are what I’ve spent years growing a bit close to, in one way or another.

Compare and Contrast

In my book Éire’s Captive Moon (book one of my Éire’s Viking Trilogy), I researched and wrote of the Northmen from Nordweg, who had a different social system from the people who lived in what are now Sweden and Denmark. Though I use the word “viking” in the title, the men themselves did not use that word so it isn’t actually used in the stories. They called themselves Ostmen,while others in Europe used the term “vikingr.” This could refer to a man who lives near a vik – or one who sails or roams on the sea. It is an Old Norse word, and I use Old Norse dictionaries as I write these stories.

I did not use the old sagas as a basis for my writing, in general. Instead, I used what history I could glean from accounts from Éire—Ireland—and what has been found in archeological digs in Norway and Ireland. When Lissa indicated that the series has used some of the legends that came from the warrior Ragnar Lothbrok (there are alternate spellings, of course), I knew I’d have little knowledge of the plot that the series would take, though I did recognize much of the clothing and housing and crafts used in the series.

And, of course, the fighting styles. The Northmen fought with battle axes and spears, mostly. Very few had swords as they were costly and hard to make.

I did compare many things that I saw in the series to what I had found in my research, and many of the cultural references are the same. The leadership was different, involving a different political structure. Norway was not yet bound together as a cohesive body under one ruler at the time of my writing.

Timing

I am really kind of relieved that I had the first book in the trilogy written many years ago, initially. Self-published as Captive Irish Moon, the book was finished in the summer of 2004. My research didn’t end there, though! I’ve kept at it and new finds have been discovered, which made my original timeline off and it was very frustrating.

Getting the opportunity to adjust some of the details was great when ECM was accepted by my publisher. The original book is still the original story, but I’ve allowed myself to expand it through my notion of getting to the leadership of the only Viking who ever claimed the High Kingship of Ireland: Tuirgeis (also known by other names). Each of the three books in my series deal with the Norse culture of the early ninth century, including their clothing, beliefs, social structure and marriage customs.

I also explore how the Ostmen invade Éire and settle there.

I am relieved, as I said, because my story is told, in my head, for the most part. Book two was in editing by the time VIKINGS was broadcast on television, so I knew that there would be no subconscious borrowing of legends or materials or anything. For my personal mental health, this is a good thing. The second book of my trilogy is called Éire’s Viking and it should be out early in 2014.

The third book is being written now and I’m calling it Éire’s Devil King as a working title. I know that History Channel is planning a second season of their show in 2014, but by the time it airs, my trilogy will be complete on my end, so I will enjoy the show as it is presented.

Reverb Effect?

I think that I was fortunate to have a book out on Vikings from the same era (more or less) as those in the History Channel show. I confess to shamelessly tweeting to my followers that if they just couldn’t wait for Sunday night and the next episode of VIKINGS, then they could buy my book for their Kindle and get more Vikings immediately.

Did it work? I have no idea. Maybe?

By the time the next season rolls around, Éire’s Viking will likely be out and I would like to hope that the contrast between what is likely to happen in the life of Ragnar Lothbrok and the what is happening in the life of Agnarr Halvardson, who chooses to settle in Éire, will be appealing.

[For any of my readers who were Team Agnarr after reading Éire’s Captive Moon, I think book two will make them happy. And the Team Cowan people? You’ll be happy, too.]

About the Author

Wife of one and mom of two, Sandi currently resides in Maryland. Besides historical fiction, she writes contemporary inspirational romances – one of which will be released this summer.  Her interests involve researching anything, autism, and learning how to spin by hand. Coffee and the written word are her addictions, and she loves the world before the sun lights the sky.

Find Sandi Anywhere…

Website

Éire’s Captive Moon on Amazon

Sandi Layne on Goodreads

Twitter

Facebook page


J to tha M: On Reviews

How Important Are They, Really?

buying book reviews

© Gryphonphoto | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

M: I was thinking about reviews

You know, how important are they versus how important we think they are.

J: Obviously, we like to know what people think

and if we don’t have a lot of reviews, we feel that either people aren’t buying or don’t care enough to review

M: But reviews have gone the way of so many things, it seems. All about the numbers

how many

how many 5 star

and I think they’re losing their effectiveness or purpose

the whole pay for reviews thing, or ask all your friends and relatives to give you five stars

promise something in return for reviews – money, prizes, whatever

that kind of defeats the purpose

so how do you get more reviews without diluting or invalidating them?

J: well, if you’re not promising cool stuff in return for the reviews, you gotta hope you’ve got something great that people want to talk about

M: yep

J: It’s really just a matter of abuse

taking a good system and exploiting it, twisting it to fit your needs

it’s kind of amazing that people go so far as to promise cool stuff in exchange for reviews. I don’t know if I could make myself do it. I mean, part of me doesn’t begrudge them the reviews. It’s hard enough as it is

but then I look at my small number of reviews and think “what could I do?”

and the answer is: write something better or promise cash and prizes

M: Some people probably really did feel the book deserved a high star rating and review, but how many felt pressured or thought it was expected, they either didn’t read the book at all or just wanted the reward or left an inflated review?

versus how many just needed the simple reminder or encouragement

J: well, you know my stance on offering prizes as opposed to flat out paying for reviews

offering a prize doesn’t guarantee a good review or even a review at all

while paying someone to write a bunch of different five-star reviews to post on amazon or goodreads is completely false

so I don’t exactly consider them the same level

even if, yes, people are more likely to review falsely or in an exaggerated manner to get a chance at the prize

it’s still not the same as having a bunch pre-prepared by a ghostwriter

M: I agree they’re not the same level, but anytime you offer something in exchange for a review, that’s where things start getting skeevy for me.

I know offering an incentive doesn’t guarantee a good review, but I think it influences one. Consciously or not

but my feeling is, to get thousands of reviews, people have to love your book. LOVE IT. talk about it all the time to everyone. And offering a contest or asking your friends for reviews isn’t going to get you to that level. Writing a book that appeals to a large number of people will.

J: as an author, the numbers would be great, but I’d just KNOW that they weren’t the real deal. How could I believe anything anyone said about my book?

it’s such a fluffy ego boost.

M: All these shenanigans have really undermined readers’ confidence and belief in reviews

J: the general consensus about anything anymore is “whatever it takes” and “laugh all the way to the bank”

M: there is that

I think there’s a lot of concentration on “how do I get more reviews for my book” and not “how do I get more readers.”

and while there is certainly a relationship, there is a difference

J: I think a lot of people look for shortcuts, whatever they may be

M: Absolutely.

J: I wonder sometimes if I’m just not cut out for the business side of it

and think if I’m going to keep writing, I need to just write, edit, publish

leave the rest out so I don’t get discouraged or angry

M: it’s a balancing act, for sure. Do what you can, what keeps you going, but know if you put something aside, you might have to change your goals

J: I’m starting to wonder if it’s possible to meet your goals without breaking some rules

M: It depends on your goals, doesn’t it?

J: It really does

What do you think about responding to reviews, even if it’s just to say thank you?

I’m kind of against it, even though I know the Internet changes rules all over the place

I think if people want a response, they should send a private message

do you think that’s ungrateful?

M: I don’t think it’s ungrateful.

The internet has changed so much. Some people want a separation between the author and the work, some don’t.

I’ve heard arguments on both sides, and I still don’t know

J: I’ve seen some people say in the same breath that it’s creepy the author can see their review but they don’t know why the author didn’t acknowledge it.

M: I like to be able to comment or review or whatever without that perceived pressure

but I also love hearing from people, whether they’re readers or writers, so…

I don’t know

J: well, I do make a point of answering personal messages

we put our contact info out there

I think if people want a response, they should contact me privately

M: oh, yes, absolutely. I always answer messages or notes

Even the “like” thing I’m kind of debating – I mean, what are the rules for that? Should we like every review, good and bad, because the person did take the time to read and comment, even if, as the author, we might not “like” the content

which brings up the subject of bad reviews. Not everyone is going to like what you write, and you have to accept that

J: and if you haven’t paid them to say they like it, you can better trust them, too

M: not everyone who leaves a bad review is an idiot, jealous ex-lover/writer/reader/birdwatcher who doesn’t know anything about anything ever and should just keep their opinions to themselves and not say anything if they can’t say anything nice.

Some, maybe, but really. Not all.

J: Word. I’m going to go do some birdwatching, I think.

brb