Many of my author friends are indie publishers and have encouraged me to do the same. I do like the control authors have over their own books, but I wasn't certain Indie publishing was right for me. For the past several weeks, I've researched indie publishing and, because I'm not tech savvy, I decided it wasn't the way I should go. The cost is prohibitive to my budget. I was overwhelmed by book covers, formatting for ebooks and print books, copywriting, etc. After doing simple arithmetic, I realized I would need to sell an enormous number of books to break even. Since I'm not good at promoting myself and my books, I might not recover my costs. I'm impressed with indie publishers, but for now I'm grateful for small press publishers who do the work for me.
I have two books completed, a contemporary romance, and a Nazi Germany love story. They have been critiqued and edited by my critique group, sent to a beta reader, and self-edited several times. It's amazing how many times simple mistakes are missed. The time has come to decide what to do with the books - indie publish or send to small presses and hope some editor will accept the manuscripts. The cost of indie publishing is expensive. I would have to sell an enormous number of books to recover my initial investment. Trying to do it myself is overwhelming. The past three weeks have been spent on-line trying to understand every step I need to take to indie publish. I'm not tech savvy to say the least, but my friends who have gone the indie route say they are doing very well. I wish someone would write a step by step workbook telling me how to use Create Space, Ingram, Smash words, etc. I need another workbook on how to do book covers for ebooks and paperbacks. Believe it or not, I do know about the ISBN numbers, but there is so much more to learn. Decisions, decisions.
My contemporary romance, Footprints in the Sand, takes place in San Rafael, Utah. A young archeologist on a Freemont Dig discovers the man who delivers supplies dead and left in a cave. When the sheriff goes to investigate the body is missing. Her director and the head archeologist, the man she admires and has an interest in, and the sheriff think she is lying for attention To prove them wrong, she determines to locate the body. When the director can not dissuade her, he joins her. What they find, puts their lives in danger.
My historical, Forbidden Love, takes place in Berlin during the years 1938-1946. A Luftwaffe pilot and a nurse who is a Jew love one another but their love is Forbidden by the Nazis and their parents. The consequences of continuing their relationship could end in death for both, but they love one another and will not submit to the Nazis. Separated, they fight to survive and reunite. Can they?
Critique groups can be good or bad. If you do not belong to a critique writing group, I strongly recommend you find one., but I add some cautions. When searching for a group look for the following attributes.
First some don'ts.
Don't join a group that does not like the genre you write.
Don't join a group that changes every line you write.
Don't join a group that want to change the plot and theme of your story.
Don't join a group the wants to change your characters and your ending.
So much for the don'ts. Look for a group that does the following:
Mentions inconsistencies in your story. (I can't believe the number of times I've changed the color of hair of a character.)
Mentions motivation of character.
Mentions clearness of sentences and awkward sentences.
Mentions emotions, reflections and inner thoughts of characters. Are they consistent with the character? GMC
Mentions POV. Do you head hop within scenes?
Mentions too much telling and not enough showing.
Mentions too much passive voice.
Mentions strength or weakness of ending of story.
Reads or writes books in the genre you are writing.
A member in one group I belonged to was so severe in her criticisms I almost gave up writing. Thankfully, I did not since I've had four books published, and I'm in the process of final editing before sending out a proposal to an editor about my latest book. Thanks to the critique group I belong to now, I am a better writer.
Style and voice are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same. What are the differences?
1. Style is the way you use words in your writing and applies to the entire book. We recognize the difference between the style of Stephen King from Mark Twain. Stephen King sets up tension. Mark Twain uses humor. Some writers are flowery, others brief. Ernest Hemingway used short sentences. Jane Austen writes in long sentences that are more detailed and different from the way we speak today. Mystery writers set up a sequence of sentences that build suspense. The styles of adventure stories are different from romances.
2. Voice is the way you narrate your book through your characters -their behavior, mannerisms, thoughts, dialog, reactions, dreamy, embellished. Every writer is different. No one can teach voice. Voice comes out as your writing. Voice is from you and your subconscious. It does affect the tone of the story.
3. How you look at the world, your soul, your heart, your loves and likes, and how it comes through your characters may be optimistic, gloomy, depressing, defiant, willful, romantic, etc. and is voice.. Your style may be archaic, rich, experimental, minimalist, scary, etc.
4. Reading any book and we soon pick up on style and voice and how they differ.
What fun it is to be part of the blog relay started by Brenda Norris (firstname.lastname@example.org.) where I read about authors and the four question we are to answer.
1. What am I working on now?
I've just started a new book, a western historical romance about a young woman who has lost her father in a mining camp accident in Colorado Territory. She is forced to take in laundry to survive with the goal to save enough money to move to the new settlement, Denver, and open a boarding house. One of the men who hires her is different from the other miners and befriends her. He unexpectedly asks her to marry him to satisfy the wishes of his grandfather in order to inherit his extensive ranch in Dakota Territory - Wyoming. The heroine is forced to decide between her own goal and that of a loveless marriage and an uncertain future.
2. How does my work differ from others in the genre?
Most of my westerns are based on some actual incident I fictionalize in my stories. I'm from an early Wyoming ranching family, grew up on an historic Wyoming ranch, and believe my books are accurate historically. Of course, I can only imagine what life was like over a hundred years ago, but I do have journals that help. My sister reminds me she is well-versed in Wyoming history and is often turned-off by western writers who do not portray western history accurately. In fact, she refuses to read my books if I make mistakes. Oh boy! What I have to live up to in my writing.
3. Why do I write what I do?
Because of my background, I love western American history and read everything I can. I do have regrets. When I was growing up two of my great uncles who came to Wyoming in the l880's were still living. Unfortunately, I never bothered to question them about their lives as they established large ranches. One uncle was fourteen when he arrived in Wyoming with two dollars and a change of clothes. He went to work as a stable boy for one of the remission men who had a large cattle ranch. My uncle told me one time, "Do the best job you possibly can and you will succeed." He certainly did becoming one of the largest ranchers in the state. He helped start Cheyenne Frontier Days and is in the Wyoming Rodeo Hall of Fame along with members of my family. I could base a novel on him.
At one time, it was consider sacrilege to raise sheep. My father was a sheep rancher. We usually had some cattle to remain faithful to the culture. My book, SECRET TO HOLD, is a western historical romance located on a sheep ranch.
4. How does my writing process work?
I take ideas from interviews I did as a writer for a local newspaper, from newspapers, from comments someone might make about a person or event, and from people I've known. When I've decided on a topic, I pick a theme which leads to goals, motivation, and conflict for the characters. I write the first two or three chapters at my computer to introduce the characters and analyze the contents to decide if I have enough story to continue. Sometimes I discard the story and look for a different theme, location, time period, and characters. If I continue with the book, I do complete character sketches, a loose outline with highs and lows, and the ending.
My mornings are usually hectic, especially in the summer so my writing is from two or three in the afternoon until six. My dog reminds at six it's time for him to have supper. I do research months in advance of the actual writing. (My sister's comment stays with me, and I want to be as accurate as possible.)
In addition to writing western historical romance, I write contemporary romance also with a western location, and women adventure stories.
At my last critique meeting, we discussed theme and plot. None of us had a good definition. I came home, pulled out my numerous books on writing and looked up theme. Some of the books did not mention theme including my favorite writers. Christopher Vogler in his book, THE WRITER'S JOURNEY, explained theme as the single idea the book is about. Clear enough? It is the premise of the book about an aspect of life that affects the characters. Themes may be trust, fear, betrayal, greed, heartbreak, love, loss, pride, etc. Whatever the theme, the character must come to terms with it and overcome it to go on with life. The theme is usually made clear in the first chapter and not later than the third, in my opinion. Theme forces the character into taking action, beginning a journey as Vogler states. In the WIZARD OF OZ, Dorothy feels she does not belong. Greed may get in the way of happiness forcing a character to change or lose loved ones. Fear my prevent a character from finding love. Lack of trust may interfere with relationships. Gail Delaney, Editor, Desert Breeze Publishing, requires her authors to put into one sentence of not more than 25 words what the story is about. It boils down to theme. Theme relates to all parts of the story and must force characters to change.
So what is plot? Plot carries the theme. The character must take action to bring about change. Again I refer to Vogler who gives stages from the character being forced out of his ordinary world and called to adventure. refusing the call, meeting a mentor, crossing the threshold, etc. In other words, plotting the story to carry the theme to completion. Several books are available to writers but most follow a similar pattern. Karen Doctor, a member of Romance Writers of America presents a workshop on the WPlot. Some others I like are Ronald B. Tobias, MASTER PLOTS, Ansen Dibell, Plot,
Debra Dixon, GOAL, MOTIVATION, & CONFLICT, and Vogler, THE WRITER'S JOURNEY. Plot is the high and low points. the mountains and valleys, the goals, motivations, and conflict, black moment that carry the theme and character to resolution. Without theme there is no story which needs plotting.