Friday, July 3, 2015

What's Your Critique Group Experience? @kayelleallen #MFRWauthor #amwriting

Tarthian Empire Companion 
I live in a small town in Georgia, and honestly thought I'd never find a writer's group where I would fit. I write non-fiction, contemporary romance, scifi, scifi romance, gay romance, and I'm moving into mainstream with all my books simply to broaden my reader base. So instead of erotic content, I'm writing with a focus on character relationships and other story aspects.

When I found a group on MeetUp that brought together local writers, I intended to stay "in the closet" as far as my erotic writing went. I was focusing on other aspects anyway. They'd never see my spicy scenes. Members knew going in that I wrote gay romance, and that was never an issue with anyone. Considering it is such a small town, I was a little surprised when no one even blinked when I said what I write. About three months later, we got a new member from California who was writing a lesbian romance series. It's literary fiction with characters who happen to be lesbians. She's an incredible writer -- one of the most gifted I've ever read. She's become my friend.

When she asked if the group could meet an additional day of the week just for critiques, we took a vote. Everyone who was interested began meeting on the new day as well. Later, we gained another writer who writes romance, but who has a serious love for gay romance. I'm still amazed at how diverse this group is for such a tiny town. I never expected to find this. We have one writer in her 70s who's probably the most open-minded person I've ever met. She just isn't shocked at anything, unless it's us saying something nice about her work. We have a 20-something guy who's a new writer honing his love of pony fanfic. And we have a serious literary writer who uses multimillion dollar words and you would think is pretentious until you realize he's being himself. He speaks the way he writes. If I made these characters up for a book people would think I had an outrageous imagination. But they are real, and I get to hang out with them every week.

My point is that no matter where you live, there is probably someone like you, looking for a writer friend. Ask at the library if you can put out flyers to start a writers' group. Take out an ad in the local paper. Reach out on social media. Try MeetUp like I did, and see what happens. But get out there and meet writers. The fun and camaraderie of working together is too good to miss.

What is your experience? Have you belonged to a critique group in the past? Are you in one now? Please share in the comments.

Kayelle Allen, author of the Tarthian Empire Companion
A World-Building Bible and Guide to Writing a Science Fiction Series
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Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Writing Process: Self Publishing #mfrworg

So this month we’ll talk about self publishing...something I haven’t done so don’t know much about, but I’ll do my best.

There are a lot of places where you can publish your own work. I googled it and found a slew of places. A few I recognized were Lulu, Createspace, IUniverse, Xlibris and of course Amazon, but there are a ton more out there. I found out there is even a Readers Digest book on self publishing companies. Each has their good and bad points and you need to find the one that works best for you.

After you’ve done your research you should reach out to other authors who have self published. Find out why they went that route and what worked and didn’t work for them. Which publishers they have tried and which ones they ended up using.

You’ll also need to find a cover artist and editor. Most of these publishers will offer a package deal that cover most, if not all, of what you want. Others seem to do things ala cart. You can also find companies that make covers, have editors – they do everything but publish your book. I did search but couldn’t6 find what I was looking for so those of you who know companies like this please chime in...

I asked some of my self published friends out there what an author should do and Kayelle Allen gave me these five suggestions:

1. Create a company name for your publishing endeavor (she uses Romance Lives Forever Books).
2. Set up accounts well ahead of your first book. You'll want to be on Amazon KDP, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, etc.
3. Create a PayPal account you can use for your books, especially if you want to sell them yourself from your site or at conventions.
4. Find a good cover artist and a good editor. Don't skimp on either one.
5. Make a marketing plan for your books that goes from pre-release through to the next book.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Monique DeVere's Secret to a Polished Manuscript #Novel #MFRWauthor #MFRWorg #EditTip

Last month I shared my secret to writing great dialogue. This month, I'm going to share my secret to a polished manuscript. This is my prized resource for catching mistakes, plot holes, story flow/pacing, clarity, and the dozen other errors we as authors miss because we're so close to our work.

I'm sure it comes as no surprise when I tell you that every author would be prudent to find a way to HEAR her/his story read aloud. You've heard this advice a thousand times before, right? So have I, and I've heard other authors say they print out their MS and read it aloud so they can hear it. Or they read it aloud while recording their voice so they can replay it. I don't know about you, but that seems so last century to me.

I can't imagine sitting around reading my MS for hours on end hoping to hear mistakes. Surely, it's almost impossible to read and listen so carefully as to pick out errors at the same time. Personally, I don't believe we can effectively catch mistakes this way since we're still too close to what we've written. Then we encounter the problem of wasted hours of reading aloud that we'll never get back.

My solution? My biggest helper--outside of my CP--is my beautiful Kindle Keyboard. I love that baby. All I need to do is email my word doc to my Kindle, turn on Text-to-Speech and I can easily listen while I do the school run or clean the house. When I hear something I wish to change, I pause the Kindle, bookmark the page and make a note of what I need to change. If this happens while I'm driving, I'll make a mental note and write it down as soon as I reach my destination. On occasion, I've been known to pull over to the side of the road and make notes. But I'm sure you guys do that too. :)

I've found that using Kindle to read my story while I listen is the best option for me. I've tried using read aloud in PDF but the voice is far too tinny and computer generated for my taste. It distracts and irritate me, and I end up missing mistakes. Plus I lose the on-the-go editing option that I love so much.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying this is fool proof. I'm simply saying it's another wonderful editing resource to add to our creative arsenal. For instance, you won't notice homophones, but you'll certainly notice flow and pacing. You'll notice tone and characterization, plot problems or whether you spend too much time in your characters' heads, whether your dialogue sounds natural, and a host of other niggles you might've otherwise overlooked.

The Kindle Keyboard isn't the only Kindle that has the Text-to-Speech function. According to the Text-to-Speech: Enabled link in the Product details section of my books on Amazon, Text-to-Speech is available for Kindle Fire HDX, Kindle Fire HD, Kindle Touch, Kindle Keyboard, Kindle (2nd generation), and Kindle DX. That's a huge choice of read aloud choices I never knew existed until lately. I haven't researched it, so I can't say if the other devices also have a read aloud function. If you know of any other reader besides the ones I listed, please tell us about it in the comments section below.

What do you use to help you polish your MS? Do you listen to your WIP via your reading device? Have you any special, trusted and adored methods for polishing your MS? If so, please share, I'd love to hear your secrets. 

Do leave a comment in the comment section below. Even if you just want to say "Hi!", I'd be thrilled to know you stopped by.

Until next time, write with clarity and style!

Monique x 

Author/Screenwriter Monique DeVere currently resides in the UK with her amazing hero husband, four beautiful grown-up children, and three incredible granddaughters. 

Monique writes Romantic Comedy stories some call Smexy—Smart & Sexy—and others call fluff. Monique makes no apologies for writing fun, emotional feel-good romance! She also writes Christian Suspense with a more serious edge. 

Monique loves to hear from her readers. You can contact her by visiting her HERE to learn more about her and check out her other books.


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