Part 2: Ten points to consider before signing a book contract

 

Last week I shared the first half. Click here if you missed it.

Today we will finish the second half. A brief recap. Before signing a book contract there are ten things I like to do before I sign. The first five points which you can review from the previous post are : What is the royalty percentage,  the number of titles in  the publishing house,  how attractive are the book covers,  are there best-selling authors on board, what are the sales rankings of books in your genre.

Now on to the final five.

reading-books

  1. Reviews What is the average number of reviews for the same books you investigated for sales rankings? I’ve read some wonderful book that had less than ten reviews. Their ranking wasn’t where I felt it deserved to be. (side note: write a review for books you enjoy it helps the author.) Some publishers have a network of bloggers and authors who do reviews. If you have your own network of followers who are waiting for your book and  willing to review it ,this may not be an issue.

 

  1. Marketing Another important thing to understand is the publisher’s marketing strategy. All authors must market their books—no exceptions. Whether a large or small publishing company you must invest in your marketing. The question you need to ask is what part does the publisher take on and are you good with it.

digital-marketing-1792474_640

I’d ask seasoned authors about their marketing and knew going it I would need to invest money. Writing is a business not an employer/employee relationship. It’ss helpful to figure out what your marketing budget  might be out the gate. Yes, you can market for free. But free cost time. So, consider all your marketing investments. This way you have a realistic view before you sign.

secret-charades-front-cover

 

  1. Rights- What rights are you surrendering to the publisher? This is where you need a contract lawyer or an agent to read the contract. Publishers may keep rights you are not aware of. For example: audio books, international rights or movie rights. Professionals can check the wording and advise you on what you are giving up or might consider negotiating. If you are afraid the publisher will take back the contract if you don’t sign it as is, don’t be. They are in the business of negotiating. Be sure to ask questions. Know whether you will regain the rights to your book if the company folds. Consult your agent, a lawyer or at least contact other established authors for what questions to ask. Again, this is a business, treat it as such. Before I had an agent, I ask lots of questions before signing. After I got an agent, he asked questions I never even considered.

 

  1. Ethics of the company. Research the company. Have there been lawsuits filed for breach of contract? This often comes up when you confuse a vanity press with a small publisher. A vanity press wants money up front for cover design, editing and marketing. Best practice is for publishers to pay for cover design, printing and editing and give you a clear vision of their part in marketing. As you check this out trust authors you know who have worked with the publisher to be honest. Some things you find on the internet are disgruntled authors complaining. Fro example: the mission statement of the company doesn’t match your own this could be red flag for you. If you write Christian fiction and the publisher has an erotica line because they market to the general public you may be conflicted.  This  association makes you uncomfortable, it might be best to  decline the contract.

 

This last one is an after I sign the contract tip. It helps  you build relationships and networking possibilities as you become a part of that publisher’s family.

10. Familiarize yourself with the authors. Friend them on Facebook and other social media. Join the publisher’s author pages on FB or through their website.(if neither exists I’d declare it a red flag.) Keep yourself informed and engaged. It takes months after the initial contract to get your book released. This interaction helps you plan your strategy for your debut and gives you an opportunity to reach out to other authors.

Final thought

This list is merely my own method. Others may see things differently. The bottom line: don’t put your name on a contract blindly. Be comfortable and understand what the agreement you are entering entails. It can make or break your career.

This is my method. You may have other ideas. I’d love to hear them. I love learning new things from my readers.

If you find my post valuable you can subscribe to receive them in the mail.

Advertisements

Ten points to consider before signing a book contract Part 1

Meme for contract blog

You’ve worked hard and now a contract offer looms before you. The first book contract is the most exciting. So much so you might even sign it for free. But please, don’t.

I’ve signed two so far and I did my research first. Both contracts were with reputable small publishing houses. That helped me feel more comfortable. Before the first contract was offered I got to know the editors from the house through conferences and became a fan of authors they published. I was confident when I signed with them and pleased with their author care. The second one I got through my agent and he negotiated the contract. But I still did some homework myself.

Below are ten things I feel are important before you sign not only the first but any contract. Especially with small publishing companies because they come and go. But traditional house should still get the same scrutiny. Small publishers are a great way to start your author career. They are usually more open to debut authors. And new authors can get so excited and in a hurry to see their name on a cover. Here are some things to consider before signing on the dotted line.

  1. What percentage do you receive as the author for each sale? (royalties) Those percentages can range from 10% to 50%. Most small publishers don’t give advances and often the first royalty check doesn’t come for 90 days. Any paperbacks you wish to sell you purchase for an author’s discount.  If your goal is to get your first book out there, the royalty amount may not matter. The smaller the company the smaller the royalty. (There may be exceptions.)
  2. Number of titles the publisher has? Go to their website and check out their volume. A brand- new publisher may have ten. A more established will have hundreds.

While you’re on the website check out a few other things.

  1. Cover designs Are the covers appealing. Are you drawn to the covers? The first thing a potential reader notices is the cover.secret-charades-front-cover

 

  1. Do they have any best-selling or award-winning authors under contract? This is not a red flag, merely a hopeful consideration. They look for quality and if they are offering you a contract, you can feel comfortable they consider your work quality.
  2. Sales ranking Choose a book in your genre and search for them on Amazon. What do the sales rankings look like? Do this with a few or all the books in your genre. There are millions of books on Amazon so if their numbers are over 500 in specific categories or over 50,000 in the whole pool of books that is a good thing. These numbers give you a good idea of sales. However, some some authors refuse to market and their numbers reflect that.

Next week I’ll share the second half of my list. If you have any questions I’ll do my best to answer them. These tips are things I find helpful. You may have some other ideas.

 

 

A Visit With YA Author Tamar Sloan

This is a longer than normal post for me. But it’s well-worth the time to read. Today is the release date for Australian author Tamar Sloan’s YA novel Make it Count. YA readers are going to want to add this novel to their must-read list.

Welcome to Jubilee Writer, Tamar. Congratulations on your new release.  Let me introduce you to my readers before we get started on my questions.

A school psychologist by day, Tamar channels her passion for books into creating young adult stories about discovering life and love beyond our comfort zones. She is the award-winning author of the Prime Prophecy and Touched by Love Series. Tamar is also the author of PsychWriter: where psychology meets writing, a blog that supports and extends writers.

When not reading, writing or working with teens, Tamar can be found with her ever-patient husband and two beautiful sons enjoying country life on their small acreage in the Australian bush.

Tamar finds it deeply rewarding to share her stories and she loves to hear from her readers and fellow lovers of all things book related.

Headshot

Tamar, you’re the first Australian author to appear on my blog. And you share my heart for helping other writers. I don’t write YA but I enjoy reading it. Tell my readers a little about your writing journey.

Interestingly, I never considered I’d be a writer. As a child I loved to read (I devoured romance novels from the moment I discovered them), but it NEVER occurred to me that I could write one myself. My first book came to me in a dream (so cliché, right?). But it was an idea that wouldn’t go away, which meant I had to go learn how to write… Several months later, with a healthy dose of muttered curse words, my first book of the Prime Prophecy series, was born.

I get the dream revelation. I think a lot of writers can relate. Now, tell us about your latest published project Make it Count.

Make it Count is a young adult contemporary romance, admittedly fueled by a touch of the impossible. It tells the story of impulsive, fun-loving Casey and the ability she was born with – if she touches another person she sees the number of days they have left to live. Casey fakes a phobia to avoid touch, and she convinces herself she’s happy in her isolated, safe little bubble. Until irresistible, motorcycle riding PJ comes along. The chemistry is hot, the sparks fly. And Casey is about to learn how to live a life that counts.

I love the premise. What kind of research was involved in making this story come to life?

Google and I became besties. I had to learn some motocross lingo, explore the theme of ‘you only live once’ and nail the most appropriate group therapy strategies for Make it Count. Google allowed me to do most of that. Apart from that, being a psychologist really helps. I work with young adults every day and get to walk alongside their struggles and triumphs. Those moments weave their way into my books all the time.

A writing what you know experience as a psychologist but so much more. Wonderful. What other inspiration came to you as you formulated this story in your mind.

Make it Count is one of those books that comes to you at 4am and you just know it’s going to be a special story. It started with the seed – what if with one touch, a girl could see how many days a person has to live? Apart from all the heart-wrenching considerations like touching your loved ones, I knew she’s avoid touch at whatever cost. But then PJ arrived, and he was hot, and irresistible. I had to capture their chemistry, and their story.

Now, let’s talk a little about you.

When did you realize your calling to create words on paper to share with the world?

This question has made me pause the most. I’m not sure I ever considered my decision to write as a calling. But I suppose the moment you commit the amount of time writers do to their passion it would have to be considered a calling. I think my realization evolved slowly. It was only once I’d published my first book and readers wrote to me of how the story had touched them that I realized I had a talent that was worth sharing with the world.

Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?

I have a framed timbre board in my writing room with Gandhi’s famous quote – ‘be the change you wish to see in the world.’ My dad made it for me, and I aspire to that sentiment every day.

If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice for your younger self about writing what would that be?

Be prepared for a fabulous roller coaster ride. There will be lows, there will be twists you thought you knew were coming but you really didn’t, and there will be exhilarating highs. How do you prepare for something like that? In some ways you can’t, in other ways you pack your fortitude and resilience, and open yourself up to the joy of the ride.

 MakeItCount_453

Here’s the back-cover copy. Oh so compelling

He’s irresistible…but she’s the one person who knows his days are numbered.

Casey’s touch can reveal the one thing a person would never want to know — the number of days they have left to live.

By the time Casey turns seventeen she’s learnt to withdraw. But the phobia she fakes in order to avoid human contact is sorely tested by hot, persistent, motorcycle riding PJ. For a girl who craves contact, maple eyed PJ is impossible to resist. When the inevitable happens, when hands, bodies and lips collide, Casey sees PJ’s number, one that can only be seen as a cruel twist of fate.

Now she must decide. Will she continue counting the days of her life, or start living a life that counts?

With the memorable writing and humor of writers such as Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun blended with the attitude, chemistry and unexpected plot twists of Katie McGarry’s best sellers, Make it Count is a romance that will leave you swooning and smiling.

Make it Count (ISBN: 978-1-62135-708-7, Clean Reads Publishing) is now available at www.tamarsloan.com and on Amazon,  Barnes & Noble and iBooks.

Because this is the release date for Make it Count let’s share an excerpt for my readers to enjoy.

A few steps down the path I slip the brownie from my sleeve. There’s no way I can wait to get out of the front yard before I taste this square of temptation. I should be sainted right alongside Ari’s grandson for not wolfing down the whole platter.

There’s a mega-sized tree in the front yard, so I head around it, lean back against its bark watching the brownie’s slow approach to my mouth, savouring the moment. I smell the chocolate, the sugar, the awesomeness. I bite down and my eyes flutter closed. Oh. My. Heaven-loving-tastebuds. Galaxies of spun sugar dissolve in my mouth, symphonies drowned out by the roaring in my ears. My body mirrors what’s happening in my mouth; I’m slowly, deliciously melting into a gooey, thick puddle.

The roaring stops.

“If you like my cooking, you’d love how I make breakfast.”

Everything stops. Every cell goes from puddly and quivery to upright and alert. I know that chocolately voice. I’ll never forget that warm, rich timbre.

I open one eye, then two.

PJ is sitting on his motorbike, helmet on his lap, that grin glinting in the sun. He hangs the helmet on a handlebar, swings a long denim leg over and swaggers towards me. And I mean a hip swaying, shoulder swinging swagger that evokes images of yellow-striped, denim-clad butts.

The moment he’s close enough for me to focus on his eyes the brownie turns to bread in my mouth. It could never compete with the symphonies and stars in those molten maple pools.

“They’re a family recipe.”

My brain clicks out of brownie-PJ heaven and into gear. Hang on a sec. I look over my shoulder at the door, the door that was just closed by a woman the colour of brown sugar. I look back to the very white, hot guy in front of me.

“Family?”

The moment PJ stops I take a step back, out of arm’s length, and out of smell’s reach. His eyes narrow ever so slightly as he notes my movement. He crosses his arm. “Yeah, family.”

I wait, but it seems someone else in this town took the course on stubborn silence. Instead he grins again. Man, I wish he’d stop doing that. Here, in the sun, it’s blinding. “I’m flattered.”

I raise a brow.

PJ shrugs, and somehow the movement seems to bring him a millimetre closer. Moving again would be rude and weirdo-whacky so I stay put, choosing to breathe through my mouth.

“It takes some effort to find out where a guy lives.”

My jaw slackens. Ego much?

“Hmmm.” I step to the side and head to his motorbike. “I’m glad you brought a second helmet.”

PJ turns and follows me, I step around the bike, using it as a barrier.

He places a hand on the leather seat. “You wanted to come for a ride?”

Eyes wide with mock shock connect with molten maple. “Don’t you need it for your ego?”

Instead of looking insulted, PJ grins. A wide, teeth-glinting, eye-wrinkling grin. “I think I might; it just got one heck of a hit.”

I cross my arms, glad I can do it safely this time thanks to my Personal Protective Equipment.

PJ brings one hand up to stroke his chin. “So you’re not here to see me.”

“Difficult to imagine, isn’t it?”

“What else would bring you here?”

Those delicious lips twitch. He knows exactly why I’m here. I’m not much of a blusher, but being here, for a therapy group for a phobia I don’t have, wearing the freaky lengths I have to go to avoid touch seems like a pretty good time to blush.

But I didn’t wear a balaclava, so instead, I own it. “I have ablutophobia.”

PJ’s eyes stray to my lips. “Well, it’s not a fear of brownies.”

I resist the urge to lick their suddenly dry surface. “Or the repeated use of pick-up lines.”

PJ chuckles, and it’s a sound that reminds me of crème brûlée, smooth and moreish. “Maybe it’s a phobia of stepping up to a challenge.”

That has me straightening. Everything in my impulsive but necessarily inhibited personality loves a challenge. PJ quirks a brow, and leans forward, placing both hands on the seat. The position pushes his shoulders forward, focuses my attention on those biceps. Mr. Sexy-Comes-Naturally is waiting for me to pick up the gauntlet.

Sensations and sights sharpen. Those molten maple pools watching me. The heat pressing against my body. Those Adonis lips parting on an inhale. The bead of sweat raking down my spine.

I lean forward, and my eyes widen the moment my next sense registers something. A scent, the kind of scent that has your head tilting reflexively, your mouth opening just a touch to see if it will land on your tongue.

I don’t know what amber smells like, but I think this could be it. Woodsy, spicy…tempting…moreish. It’s the kind of smell that makes you wish you could spend more time breathing in than out. One hand reaches out to the red plastic fender rising from the back of the bike. The moment woven cotton presses into my fingertips, rather than smooth plastic warmed by the sun, I stop. It’s all I need to return me to reality.

I take a step back, having to mentally force my nose to follow. PJ was never meant get close enough to smell, because exactly what I thought would happen just happened.

He smells as good as he looks, and I don’t need any more temptation to fight.

I take another step back. “You’ve got the wrong girl, PJ.”

PJ exhales, possibly because of the pent-up tension, but probably out of frustration. “It seems we have one thing in common, Casey.”

With another step back I decide it’s safe to ask. “What’s that?”

PJ straightens, his eyes twinkling. “We both love a challenge.”

I start to walk backwards, shaking my head. “The difference is I can pick a lost cause.”

I turn and start creating even more distance between us. I walk away from hot, sexy, available maple, knowing this is what I need to do. Telling PJ, with everything I can, he’s wasting his time.

“See you at mini motos.”

I keep walking. The tenacity is admirable and flattering, but wasted. “I’m not going.” I call over my shoulder.

“Don’t forget to bring your little brother.”

I shake my head, glad PJ can see that and not my smile. Sure, I love to look, I like the flirting, and I’d love to be someone that could go there.

But PJ is the last person I plan on touching.

 

Alright readers now that you’re hooked here are some links.

Purchase links: https://books2read.com/MakeitCount

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Make-Count-Touched-Love-Book-ebook/dp/B07647LY9W/

Want to visit Tamar and get to know her better?

You can find her at www.tamarsloan.com or on Facebook www.facebook.com.au/tamarsloanwriter or Twitter www.twitter.com/sloantamar. Good reads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36284190-make-it-count

 Thanks so much for stopping by today, Tamar. Hope your release date is everything you hoped it would be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time Saver: Make A Proposal Template

Proposal cloudI’m done. I finished my proposal for the sequel to my Historical Romance Secrets & Charades. This is the fourth book I’ve written a proposal for, but probably the twentieth proposal I’ve completed.  Every publisher has specific things they want to see in a proposal. So, when I submitted S & C I had to rewrite my proposal a few different ways. Now that I have an agent, I need to write a longer proposal. He can then cut and paste the components for each publisher he pitches to on my behalf, meeting their requirements.

I saved a lot of time by creating a generic proposal template. Back in the day when we made paper submissions, compiling a proposal required more time to put the information in the correct sequential order. Now I can open my template and cut and paste my personal info and other unchanging portions, It still takes time and may require some reformatting. But that is minutes rather than hours.

The basic components of every proposal are the cover sheet, author bio, back cover copy, comparables, marketing strategy, endorsements, synopsis and writing sample.

First two sections are easy to adjust without recreating

The cover sheet has information the publisher needs. My contact information is in the upper left. It includes my address, phone, email, genre and word count. The lower right has all my agents contact information and the center is where the words Book Proposal, the title and my byline go. Some publishers want a tagline just under the byline. Others want it before the synopsis in the body of your proposal. The cover sheet has a particular format for spacing. Once I created one all I need to do is change a few things for the next book proposal. I don’t have to go back and double check what the format should be for each new proposal.

The table of content is the next page it lists all the components by page number. Some publishers don’t want a table of content. I adjust the page numbers accordingly with each new book. And if they want less information, I delete those items from the table of content.

The body of the proposal

Next you would have the tagline, synopsis and back cover copy. (These would be new with each new book but once you’ve written them they stay the same for every submission for that book.) Synopsis is a summary of your story. I’ll explain more later.

A tagline is a sentence that grabs the reader. For my contemporary romance New Duet coming out May 1st with Clean Reads (Shameless promotion. LOL) I wrote: “Love is never needing to be someone you’re not.” It took several tries to come up with one that grabbed the theme. The tagline often appears on your book’s cover.

Your biography comes next. Submission guidelines may have a word count for that. Now that I have a novel in print and another coming out I needed to tweak my bio. Additional awards or speaking platforms might need to be added in the future. Keep your bio current. The one in the proposal may be different from what goes on your book cover or any other published work.

Next comes writing credentials. Post your most recent at the top and descend to older things. List any awards, degrees and writing classes completed. Be sure to mention organization memberships. This is especially important if you are an unpublished writer. By organizations I mean writer groups or something that relates to the topic of your novel or non-fiction book. Being part of a writing organization shows you are serious about the craft. And if you are, for example, a lawyer proposing a legal thriller that information would be important.

The next portion is endorsements. You may already have individuals and authors willing to endorse your book. These endorsers need to have credentials. Your mother or friend (unless they are an author or an expert in their field relating to your novel) are not the endorsers you want. You can list all those who are willing to endorse or you are willing to ask for an endorse. Because I know a lot of authors I listed all of them as potential endorsers in my first two novel proposals. It was a long list. This showed the editor that I had people willing to support me I got seven endorsements for my first book. I didn’t actually ask everyone on my list because some authors don’t write in my genre. A recommendation from a Sci-fi author for a historical romance isn’t that impressive. Those who endorse you often promote you on their social media. So be sure the people you ask fit the genre you write. Endorsers don’t have to be fiction writers. A friend is writing a novel that addresses human trafficking; she plans on getting endorsements from organization that rescues these people. Once you have your list of endorsers, you can pick those that relate to the novel you’re proposing and don’t have to recreate the list every time. If you have a written endorsement from someone who read your draft, add it here. This shows you’re a go-getter. List all the social media you actively use.

Marketing Strategy is a tough one whether you are published or not. My first proposal listed things I was willing to do. Be honest in what you know others have done that you feel comfortable doing. Authors must help market. Even traditionally published authors market. Now I merely tweak my list adding what worked for me and deleting things that didn’t.

Parts that are new

Your target market may change if you change genres. This is the readers you are focusing on. Do not say everyone. Those words show you have not done your research. Be more specific. Teens are not the target market for my historical romance. Teen girls might read it because their mom bought the book. And some men read romance. Statistically women over 30 read historical romance. While millennials often read fantasy, dystopic and sci-fi. Know your market. Don’t assume because family and friends of all ages read your draft and loved it that this is your market.  You are not a marketing expert. Trust the experts.

The back-cover copy, and synopsis will be fresh copy. The back copy is a short couple of paragraphs describing the story. A marketing tool to get the readers’ interest. Don’t explain it all. Leave the reader hungry.

The synopsis is retelling the entire story with all the twists in 6 pages or less. Focus on the main character’s story. The editor must know the surprise bits and who-done it.

Some publishers want character descriptions. The two main characters are usually enough. But if you have created a fantasy world, then introducing each character is expected. Some authors include drawings of characters and maps of their world.

Unless a full manuscript is requested, you send the first three chapters and only the first three chapters. Make those first three chapters your very best work. Even if your think chapter five is the most exciting, send the first three. Only non-fiction submissions allow you to send chapters out of order. A few publishers may not require a writing sample if they know your work. Again, follow guidelines.

Proposals can be as short as ten pages or up to 50. (excluding full manuscript). Each of the basics I mentioned previously can be broken down into sub categories. Be sure to read the submission guidelines.

The proposal is how you sell your story idea. For me it is a painful process. I’d rather be crafting a story. Having a template of the basic information saves me time and reduces the pain to the synopsis and back cover copy. So, take extra time to make each section shine. If your proposal doesn’t grab the editors they will relegate your submission to the circular file.

What tips do you have for making proposal creation less painful?

Don’t forget if you enjoy my blog please subscribe.

 

 

Watch Your Tone or Writers on Social Media

broken computerRecently, I told a fellow-writer after reading his Facebook posts, “So, is your goal to sell books?” Every post he hoped would create discussion turned toward an undesirable direction. He is learning what all authors struggle with on social media. What can they post that gets many responses without setting off hate bombs?

My husband, who is a writer, loves a good debate on FB. He enjoys discussing history and current events.  Lately, however his “friends” have reverted to name calling because he stood on the opposite side of an issue. The last draw was when a gentleman with a PHD in History refused to read a book my hubby suggested that explained a statement he’d made regarding American History. (I’m being vague to protect all parties.) Based on my husband’s post the “friend” stated my hubby wasn’t smart enough to teach him anything, referring to my college graduate hubby as dumb. (And no, my sweetie, did not defend himself.) Instead, with a heavy heart, he stopped posting. He plans to remove hate speech posts in the future.angry-woman

 

Another relatively innocent post ended with the “friend” getting on her discrimination soap box and insulting my husband unjustly. My daughter got offended with the way this individual demeaned her father. She made some strong points only to receive the same wretched hate speech in return. Broke my husband’s heart to see his daughter so upset and placing herself in the line of fire for her dad’s sake.

My point

Be careful what you post on social media. If you write non-fiction and a little controversy related to your book subject may up your readership, be careful. If you write fiction, I’d tread very lightly. This past presidential election found a few fiction authors being told by readers they’d never read another of their books. I heard of one reader who threw all the author’s books away because their political views were different.

abstract fire on black background in orange and yellow colors

Why I avoid posting hot topics like the plague

Not only do I not want to lose readers, I find people pick up unintended tone. This same daughter reacted to a text message I sent her because she thought I was mad. I’d asked a question—no tone—just a question. I had to reassure her I wasn’t mad. I’ve read hastily written emails at work that captured an unintended attitude.

When I write my novels, I want my readers to sense a tone. The characters mood needs to be clear on the page. Readers need to experience the heroine’s angst toward a situation or the hero. It makes for great fiction.  However, that doesn’t always translate well in the world of social media. I don’t take hours and days to write and rewrite my blogs before I post.

Watch your words

An innocent statement about something on the news can explode into hundreds of angry posts from people who aren’t even friends on your page.  Because a friend of a friend saw the post and made a comment. This has happened to my husband a few times. He’d posted a comment on something in current events and after a few scathing commenters, he left the conversation. Two days later the debate continued on his page between his friends on opposite sides of the political arena and many people he wasn’t friends with on Facebook. He removed the post because the thread of words increased in tone and went to a dark place.

 Yes, I express my opinions

I have opinions on many things outside the writing world. Things I prefer to discuss or debate in person. Face to face, I can see their expressions and ask questions for clarification. I have lovely friends who disagree with me on various issues, not to mention family members. That’s fine. We share our thoughts on a given subject without resorting to vile name calling. I find I gain a deeper understanding of their position. Interesting food for thought.

But on social media the darts fly. They not only wound the heart but can destroy your book sales. How many celebrities, politician and even teachers have post inflammatory things online in the heat of the moment that ended their careers.

I’ve made a few errors in judgement in my wording on posts and had to eat crow. Not something I ever want to do again. To avoid the backlash, I don’t respond to posts that irritate me.  The more I respond to a friend’s posts the more posts I receive from that friend. Which is how the Facebook algorithm works. Negative attitudes and hurtful words don’t look very professional or welcoming to people checking out my page.  I want people to find my posts interesting and encouraging.

My goals for social media

  • Keep in touch with the people I care about: family. former classmates, friends far away, other writers.
  • Engage my readers with posts that are fun, informative and welcoming.
  • Pass on useful links.
  • Oh, and sell books. 😊

How do you engage with your followers on social media in a positive way? What subjects have your learned to avoid?

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Does A Wedding Mirror Story Arc

This past Sunday was my daughter’s wedding. And as I mentioned in my last post, I would be laying my pen aside, but my mind would still be doing writerly things. Reflecting on the wedding, I found the day was a great analogy for story arc. Each part of the wedding and reception reflected how a story line grows in a novel.  As I smile thinking about the wonderful event on Sunday, I’ll share how I see the analogy and a few pictures not only to illustrate my point but also to share my joy.21314833_10214203649511292_4022649231922811820_n

Wedding theme

Today couples create a theme for their wedding that goes beyond colors. My daughter and her fiancé chose favorite things. Every part of the day a reflection of that choice.

(Photo of Cake Topper, table decorations and favors.)

Favorite superheroes cake topper. A CD of music representing their journey to marriage (Note the label looks like the one from Guardian of the Galaxy.) Favorite games in the table decorations.

Novels need a theme

Each novel we write must have a theme. Secrets and Charades’ theme: Your past does not have to determine your future.  New Duet has a similar message: leave the past behind. Writer’s weave the idea through the story from opening line to the end.

Novels can have settings that help carry the theme. My novels speak of new beginnings so the settings are opposite of the protagonist’s former lives.secret-charades-front-cover click here to order.

Wedding surprises and novel structure

My daughter and her husband wanted their guests to enjoy some of their favorite things. While the venue for their wedding and reception were typical, the whole day was uniquely their own.

The Bride and Groom represented the hero and heroine in the structure of a romance novel. Both have distinctive character qualities with their individual goals and desires. The wedding like a story arc has basic bones. The Bride and Groom enter a church or other setting where guests watch them say their vows. Everything beyond that is up for grabs.

Pam and Jon chose to have my niece perform the ceremony keeping it more of a family affair. The flower girl passed out flowers rather than sprinkling petals on the floor. And the ringbearer had a Chicago Bears Teddy Bear ring pillow to carry. There was a string trio, but the bride (to the surprise of her groom) entered to a recording of Somebody to Love, by Queen. The couple exited to Star Wars music after reciting traditional vows. Bubbles were showered on the couple who drove away in a classic 60s convertible.

Disasters a must

A microphone malfunction and the flower girl standing frozen in the aisle reminded me that stories must have a few disasters. Not necessarily an explosion but something to create tension. Perhaps the heroine can’t cook or the hero really isn’t very good at fixing things.

Unique elements

Our novels need to have unique bits that keep the reader engaged. A female doctor in the 1800s is unique but becoming a mail order bride is over the top. A wounded warrior after returning from a tour of duty in Afghanistan loses his leg in a motorcycle accident stateside which adds to his angst.

Unique elements for the decor : favorite superhero cake topper, party favors and a CD for every family of all the music representing their romance and each table had a different game for guest to play.

The wedding had a traditional photographer and a videographer but there was also a photo booth with props. A few added twists that spoke to the favorite things theme greeted guests at the reception. The table center pieces were games the guests were encouraged to play. Prizes were given to the first person at each table who won a game. The games were available to play all evening.

DSC_1192(1)

Grandchildren engaged in a fun game.

Children’s games helped keep my grandchildren engaged, and many adults were loving the opportunity to play games rather than dance. All the games were ones Jon and Pam have enjoyed.  But the game curve intensified just like a plot twist. There were several pictures mixed into the decorations that represented favorite movies. There was a prize for the person who deciphered all the clues.

Plot Twists are a must to engage the reader

Twists are what make your story sing. Characters that aren’t who they seem, unexpected solutions and buried secrets. The protagonist doing what no one thought they could.

That brings me to my favorite part of the reception. My husband is not a dancer with a capital N. Pam wanted to do something unique for the father/daughter dance. So, for months they worked out the steps for Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious from the musical Mary Poppins complete with straw hat, cane and umbrella. The guests were surprised and delighted.

21272489_10214203803195134_6462070281967107425_n

The Father/Daughter Dance gets a 10. I have no photos to share of the dance right now. But this unexpected twist is priceless.

As in a well-written novel there was a challenge to the plan. In this case on the dance floor. Jon had no idea what Pam and her father had planned, but he wanted to do something extra special as well. (Sound like a familiar plot twist.) His mother made him a coat like the one from Beauty and the Beast that he put on after the initial traditional first dance. Jon insisted this dance would be the best yet. (the challenge.)  He changed into the coat bowed and took her hand as they danced to Beauty and the Beast. After the lovely dance, Pam threw down the gauntlet (in a joking manner of course), and she and her father to quote Jon, “Smoked him.” Yet he had another surprise up his sleeve. As the applause died down the Bridal Party held up paddles with the number 10. Another awesome surprise. Laughter and more applause resonated around the room. The DJ in his 30 years had never seen both the bride and groom keep a surprise from each other. Again, unique things sprinkled in a story arc.

During the toasts Pam’s brother David, who is serving in the Army gave a toast via Facebook Live on his brother Nathan’s phone that was broadcast to the whole room. So cool. David also viewed the wedding ceremony from his brother’s cellphone. Again, a sweet surprise thanks to technology that intensified the emotion.

A great The End

The reception wound down and the couple headed out for their honeymoon.

In a romance novel, the couple struggles with and overcomes all the disasters and unexpected twists in the plot. They enjoy or work through all the surprises to reach their happily-ever-after whether that is a wedding, a honeymoon or a declaration of love. In my novels, the theme of putting your past behind has been resolved and a promising future loom. The reader like the wedding guests will talk about what they experienced for a long after The End.

Thanks for indulging my afterglow thoughts. Happy writing.

What events in your life were fuel for your story arc?

 

 

 

 

A Time to Lay Aside My Pen

This Sunday, my daughter Pam is marrying her soulmate, Jon. All the final pieces of the planning are falling into place.  This is a time when I will lay aside all my writing responsibilities and enjoy the weekend.white-2072295_640

I am always encouraging readers of this blog to write every day. To quote Ecclesiastes “There is a time for everything under the sun.” A time to write and a time to lay aside your pen. Every writer needs a vacation from penning words to enjoy their surroundings. Whether it’s a wedding or a walk on the beach or around the block. Enjoy the moments. Your writer brain will be cataloguing each activity. The joy, the smells, sights and sounds will come flooding back insisting on a place in your WIP.

I’ll share the joy of my daughter’s wedding then relax a day from all the hubbub. I’ll be refresh and ready to create words on my keyboard once again.

Please share the activities you love that have interrupt your writing time and how they inspire your words later.