SERIES CONSIDERATIONS

PrairieDogs

Writing a series brought in a whole new set of questions as I began the second book and they continue with the third. The first thought that came to mind for me was how to provide back story for readers who started with the second book and not bore to death those who read in consecutive order. What’s too little and what’s too much? I knew the second book had to stand alone by itself, but there had to be balance between the two with regard to the back story. Finding ways to accomplish this through the words of characters rather than telling the reader this information is a challenge that had to be observed. Having my critique group read it helped, as their questions for clarity, not always remembering info from the first book, made me re-write sections in the second book.

In the third book — writing now — I find that I’m including characters from the first book, that I didn’t use in the second. My feelings are that it will pull all three books together even more. Then again, I was very tempted to leave the same characters out of the third that I left out in the second, but this was not something that would work for my story line. In my story the antagonist changes. He’s still in book 2, but incapacitated, so a new antagonist joins a weaker one established at the end of the first book. In book 3, well – we’ll see how that develops.

Checking facts: I couldn’t remember everything I researched and used especially cities or names from the other dimension. At times I thought I’d mentioned something previously and hadn’t or did and guessed I didn’t. So checking back to be sure is must. In my case, using a different language for the Norraenders caused me to memorize a number of the words and I found myself using them more in the second book requiring me to add translations indirectly. I added a glossary to both the first and second books which helped to save time when I was stumped on spelling or meaning in the second book.

Time frame: It’s difficult, I found, to manage the scale of time. How many days does it cover or is it hours? My books encompass a year. I had to make sure the seasons, holidays, weather worked as Skye moved between the dimensions. She had restraints to protect her health imposed on her as well. This meant watching the days and dates closely. Did the action Skye was experiencing match the time frame for the action with the other characters? This also actually added to my story as I was able to use holidays in the plot. But if instead of a trilogy, this became a longer series, I’d have to consider time even more. Maybe time would barely be alluded to. Because this series is a thriller, there is always a need to keep the pace going. Consequently each ending has to spur the reader on in a ticking clock mode to get into the next book. Time is a variable that one needs to keep a watch on. ;{)

Finally there is the promotional question of book covers once the trilogy is completed. One school of thought is to match them – have similar colors, slightly different design or even the same. I think this is the prevailing thought, however my covers are different from one another. About the only similarity is greenery. Maybe when packaged together I’ll opt for redoing the covers. I haven’t looked into branding yet. At some point I’ll likely need to consider a strategy for that, too.

I know there’s a lot more to consider and I’m learning as I go. I’m just getting started on promotion and advertising. As I continue with book 3 my focus on the above and more that I learn will be of paramount importance.

CREATING IDEAS

A question that someone asked me at my first book signing was, “Where do you get your ideas?” In other words, how do you write a whole book and fill it continuously with ideas?

That’s a great question because I’m sure every writer has different answers and not just one. Many of my ideas come from being awake early in the morning, but not having to get up right away, my mind throws out different ideas. Sometimes that happens in the middle of the night (which I don’t like much because it keeps me awake). A lot of times ideas come when I’m taking a shower—sometimes in a dream. I’m guessing my mind is less preoccupied with doing something else and there is a space, and being relaxed, the ideas flow.

Many writers will say ideas are character–driven. Meaning the character you create will think, speak and behave in certain ways consistent with how you imagine him or her. So you conceptualize what that person might say and it creates new pathways in your story. Then again, if you need to move away from predictability, you can imagine that character moving in a way contrary to their character. That gives you the leeway to really play with ideas.

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Researching is a constant source and place to get motivation for new ideas. Perhaps you’re looking for particular culture. A ritual or belief may spark a discovery that one of your characters can utilize for action in his own culture. For example, maybe you conjure up a trip that a character makes or include a new character from another country. One idea can lead to a combination of many others.

If you are sharing your story with someone else as you progress, ask them for an idea. You might not like it, or use it, but it could help you diverge to other new avenues or convince you that your own idea is better for what you’re trying to achieve.

Creativity is something we all have. And inner artist if you will. In fact – pick up a copy of The Artists Way and read it. You’ll be amazed at what’s locked up inside.

Here’s a link to some pretty outrageous ideas that might jar you, but might be just what you need for developing more creativity:

http://www.cracked.com/blog/5-writing-exercises-that-will-make-you-more-creative/

 

 

THE SEQUEL

When I started the second book (which is actually in editing right now) I had to really give it some thought. Did I research anything about trilogies or the second book after the first is done? No. Why not? Okay, cause I’m just thinking of that right now.

At the end of the first book there’s a hook to draw the reader into wanting to know where the story is headed. It made sense to do that, however the hook does not end with my hero, but rather on the villain.  I didn’t want to have Chapter 1 be about the bad guy and I knew that the first opening to any book needed to draw the reader into the story. I examined a chapter or two I had removed during the first re-write of book 1 to see if any of those would work. They didn’t fit right. I wanted to start with something jarring or at least alarming enough for the reader to want to find out what was taking place.

I returned to a small booklet, written by Aaron D. Gansky about first line hooks. In this book he talks about writing a perfect first line. This could also be a whole paragraph, but it sets the tone and often determines if someone is going to read your book.

Gansky  refers to five things from Professor Steve Heller, that an opening line should do:

1. Capture the Reader’s attention without sensationalizing the subject

2. Create a feeling of movement (establish conflict)

3. Establish tone, mood, and/or situation

4. Create an initial impression of a character

5. Establish the story’s voice

After reading this book, I returned to the first book and re-wrote the opening paragraph. It also helped me on beginning my second book which starts this way:

 Antonio growled. It was a low, cautionary growl that woke me—clear headed. Hyper-vigilant, I listened in the dark. My heartbeat quickened and I shuddered. Antonio Banderas, my large Scooby Doo type dog, had been sleeping on the end of my bed, facing the French doors. I could make out his head, his ears raised. Moonlight flowed through the curtains and I lifted the light blanket off as I sat up— ready to run if I had to.

Here’s a link to another site of first lines that further illustrates examples of memorable first lines that makes the reader take notice. http://thewritepractice.com/first-line

MARKETING: Mental Preparation

The marketing process has begun. A good number of writers, authors trying to let you know about their new book and wanting to share the information or story, dread having to market. But today, even following a traditional publishing route, as an author – you have to market your wares. It sounds like so much work! Here’s a drop in the bucket dive into it.

There are a large number of ways to do this. It starts with just letting your friends and family know- maybe through e-mails or Facebook. Some of us use Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram. Others use Goodreads.

Everyone wants to get popular on Amazon and just having your book in hardbound or paperback isn’t enough. Today you MUST have an e-book version. While Amazon is so large and has so many means to help you find fans, you can also use Barnes & Noble,  i-tunes, and Google books.

Someone is bound to suggest Oprah or Ellen. Marketing and Consulting Services like Social Suite and Hoot Suite offer to do all the work for you, bundle your posts so that they go not just on a blog or Facebook, but on every social media outlet you choose. You can even schedule days and which post you want to have deployed in advance. You can set it up on a provided calendar.

Doing a reading is popular, though recently we learned that Barnes & Noble is ending that offering. Book fairs and festivals provide an inside or open air experience for selling your book yourself and signing. Even a military venue might be possible.

You could go on a cruise, teach a class of some kind and sell your books there. Your local newspapers, even the throw-a-ways offer publicity and often an article about you, the author.

Enter a contest or more than one. A sticker or slogan touting your work can go far to sell your book.

More on this in depth coming up, meanwhile feel free to offer your ideas and suggestions and any hints, suggestions or even warnings. This is a great way to share.

Published!

There’s a wonderful feeling holding your own book in your hands for the first time. I immediately looked it over from cover to cover. Then I took a picture of it and e-mailed it to a few people I knew would be happy to see the  finished product. Then I sat down and read the whole book like I was a reader reading it for the first time. I looked for errors- there may be a misplaced comma, an extra space where there shouldn’t be-no matter how much editing has been done. I found nothing that disturbed the flow of the story. more importantly, I found myself involved with the whole story and the characters which was exciting for me because I really hope others are, too.

A word about costs. When you self-publish you have choices of publishers. I referred to this in an earlier post here. Other than Create Space you are going to spend a substantial amount of money to have a publisher take your e-mailed, attached manuscript. Dog Ear has five different plans ranging fro $1,100 to well over $3,000.depending on how many other benefits you want, like building you a website, adding e-book preparation, providing an audio book or a trailer for your website. You may pay more up front with this publisher, but reap more residuals after the sale. All the information you need is laid out in an easy to understand manner on the site. You know ahead of time your cost for each book ad what the profit will be ultimately. I learned that having a longer book, more pages, costs more. My first book was half the price of this novel.

Now the arduous task of digging into the marketing process in earnest begins.I did an initial marketing plan and set some things in motion, but the real work becomes more fine tuned now. I have not set up book signings yet or readings. I have met with key people in Advertising locally and am working on my over-all social media presence- a must today. Most articles mention that you don’t usually make much money on your book itself. It often is used as a tool for people who read the book  to buy more costly after-products. This is done with non-fiction books the most. I need to get Hollywood interested.

I notice that with a trilogy- it takes longer for people to get on board as the second and third book may not be written yet. Book number two in DIMENSION NORRAENA  is written and is being edited currently. It’s another 12 weeks before it will be published. I have begun writing the third book already as well. I want all three to be available as soon as possible.

It’s an interesting , exciting and occasionally tiresome process after the fun part (writing) is done.

Visualizing Actors as Characters

If you’ve read some of the earlier posts on here, you know that I like using images in my mind of actors who my characters might look like. I realize that we all conjure up ideas in our minds based on the written descriptions ourselves, but this is a technique that several authors I know have used or are using to keep them tuned into the vividness of physical and sometimes behavioral presentation as they create their characters.

So I’ve mentioned Skye, Zalehr, and Eddington, but not Jake. I tried Liam Hemsworth (wouldn’t it be wild to see he and Chris vying for the same woman)? But I think he’s too young looking. I considered several others, including some models, but no one seemed right. Then I started spotting this actor in commercials and I didn’t know his name. Every once in a while there would be a different commercial and there he was again. Suddenly he appeared in Game of Thrones, but I finally got his name from the website for Age of AdalineMichiel Huisman. Haven’t heard his name yet? He’s been acting for awhile, but it won’t be long before his fame spreads, I’m sure.

Anyway, he’s my choice.

DIMENSION NORRÆNA: Breakthrough, the first book of the series, is about to be printed. I anticipate that I should have a copy within a week or two and the e-book I believe will follow shortly after.
My efforts now will be divided between marketing and the re-write of the second book, which I’m very happy with, and teaching my classes. I hope to get it to publishing within another 30-45 days. I’d like it to be available to readers as soon as possible after the first book.

Wrapping up Book One of the Trilogy

Today I finished my first read through and re-write of Book 2 in this trilogy. I’m excited to be at this point because the 2nd pass of the cover happens tomorrow from the publisher of the first book, DIMENSION NORRAENA: Breakthrough. Next week I get the 2nd Pass of the interior pages. To me this means that if there are no further corrections to be made (and I truly hope that is the case) the book should go into printing right after that.

Getting to this point feels really good, but having the book in your hands and on your tablet is an entirely different and thrilling experience. There is a sense of accomplishment in seeing and feeling the fruits of your labor and I can’t wait. Well- I have to wait anyway, but I’m still excited.

Something I did with this first book and will also do now with the second is to make two different charts. One follows the methodology of Al Watt—dividing the writing of the book into three acts with sub categories in each of them. My chart will have laid out on the back of a large desk calendar or butcher paper, each of the acts and categories within them with space below. Then I’ll go to each chapter and see if I have written material that meets the aim of each category. After that I will take another piece of paper and draw a big circle and divide it up into 12 pie pieces. I will use Vogler’s 12 Essential Elements of a novel as headings for these sections and do the same thing, using what and where I have met the requirements.

I do this as a guide, a check list of sorts to make sure I have not missed some important aspect of making my novel not only complete, but stronger. It doesn’t guarantee that my book will be good, but it makes me feel more confident that what I am delivering to readers is coherent and keeps people interested in the story. More on this tomorrow!

WHEN LIFE INTERFERES…

During the last month and a half my wonderful mother began her decline and we lost her on March 14, just before the Ides of March, which she always worried about. Travelling back and forth between her state and mine, numerous phone calls with siblings and a primary focus on being with her and then celebrating her life eventually, took precedent over most of the rest of my thoughts.

Like you, dear reader (and I call you that because you are taking your time to read my blog) life experiences get in the way of our endeavors. They also add to our ability to savor life and all that we observe. If you are a writer or aspiring to become an author, tragedy, unexpected events, accidents, loss and negativity can be just as wonderful in shaping your writing as all the happy, positive times. I’m sure you know this, but for me, it takes a place in my story.

Even before my personal journey through this stage of life, I wrote about death in Dimension Norræna. And in the second book of this trilogy, Skye Winter, my lead character, must deal with the emotions involved with loss as well. Having your own encounters with a wide array of emotional circumstances will only enhance more fully the characters you write about.

That said, I am ready to climb back on my horse and begin to contribute ideas and knowledge that I have and am gaining daily about being a writer. I’m so glad that you are joining me and hope you will comment or ask questions on these posts, as I’d love to give back what I can.

I just received the First Pass Interior pages and the cover design, so it’s getting really exciting and I can’t wait to be able to show it to you.

The Nitty-Gritty of Getting the Book Out…

Another thing about self-publishing is that you need to do a certain amount (like all of it pretty much) yourself. Create Space, I think offers a lot if you have enough technological skill, which I don’t. I went to the Fine Print of Self-Publishing by Mark Levine and chose a company that was in the top group. He divided the companies into, Outstanding, Pretty Good, Okay and Avoid.

Like many of the publishers, Dog Ear offers a variety of packages. They range in how much Dog Ear does or offers, and they price the packages accordingly. I used the professional package when I published my non-fiction book. It included a whole bunch of stuff that was useful to me for a professional book. I bought the Basic package this time. I had to supply the synopsis that I wrote about last time here on the blog, for the back of the book, and a short bio and photo. I also submitted, the title page, disclaimers, dedication page, Acknowledment page and a glossary of Norraender terms (some of which I made up and some of which I borrowed from Iceland).

Dog Ear takes care of the Cover Design in conjunction with what you have in mind. ISBN number, the Library of Congress registration, and registation with all the major book dealers  (Ingram etc.). They provide you with an account manager and that is who you exchange e-mails with and talk to through the entire process. As you go up in price they offer a  webpage, marketing, editing services and the list goes on. I did that last time. I also am adding the conversion to e-books, which with this publisher includes Amazon, B & N and Google. Their website offers a lot of assistance to new authors as well.

I found that I didn’t remember all that is involved, from the last time, so using their website, and just going through the process again is a big help. Outside of writing a longer bio for the Dog Ear website itself, I balance my time between teaching my online courses for college classes, planning the marketing for Book 1 and writing Book 2. I try to research and read for pleasure and  I’m  working on my social media side more, as well.  Besides my personal life, it ends up being a pretty busy time. I’m enjoying it.

Progressing as a Writer…Writing a synopsis

Working on elements of the first book, now at the publishers, like the book decription, the acknowledgment page, glossary, dedication, etc., I stopped. This was not as easy as doing it for my non-fiction book. That was geared for readers seeking that information. This is a whole different ball of wax. Feeling like I needed to reseach more than I have so far, I found the following information on JaneFriedman.com when writing a synopis for a book.

General principles

  • Tell what happens in an energetic, compelling way
  • Use active voice, not passive
  • Use third person, present tense
  • Clarity, clarity, clarity
  • Less is more—a good thing for you!

4 things you must accomplish, no exceptions

  1. Give a clear idea of your book’s core conflict
  2. Show what characters we’ll care about, including the ones we’ll hate
  3. Demonstrate what’s at stake for the main character(s)
  4. Show how the conflict is resolved

Whoa! I dug out the description I had already written and began to work on it based on the above suggestions. I’m much happier with the results and will send that on. Also on her site are links to other aspects of writing, that I know I’ll take a look at.

I’m also working on Book 2. I like writing early in the morning-,after a light, but healty breakfast, and I have 50 chapters done. I’m not sure if I will use all of them or if I need to move some of them around.I was stalled with holidays, a class I’m teaching, an accident that injured someone in my family, all of which set me to analyzing life again and wondering why I write. I felt a little overwhelmed reading about a six-month program offered me that covers virtually every aspect of making writing your career and producing a best-seller every time. I’ve already had several careers. Sure who wouldn’t love to have a best-seller? But why do I really write? I have to give that some in depth thinking before I blog about that.