Buy ProWritingAid On Sale And Get My 3 Bonuses! #writingcommunity #writing

Buy ProWritingAid On Sale And Get My 3 Bonuses! #writingcommunity #writing

ProWritingAid Black Friday

I know a lot of you have been hoping ProWritingAid would hold their annual Black Friday sale this year and have been waiting to buy, just in case. I’ve got good news. It’s here, and they’re going big! And there’s more. If you’re a brand new user and purchase by clicking my affiliate link, and then forward me your receipt, I’ve got three bonuses for you.

Here are the details:

The sale is on now through Monday, Nov 30 at 11:59 PM PST. For any purchases made today or tomorrow, (Nov. 23 or 24) ProWritingAid will donate $5 per purchase to the Children’s Literacy Charity. So, if you know you want to take advantage of the sale, buy now and you can give to charity at the same time.

  • Lifetime licenses are 50% off.
  • Annual licenses are 25% off.

My bonuses for new ProWritingAid users who buy through my link and send me the receipt are:

1. My two-page Overused Words Cheat Sheet, a valuable tool otherwise only available to students in my online course Book Editing Blueprint. This resource will help you to find the overused words in your writing as well as the “padding words” that can be easily cut.

2. I’ll also send you a 42-minute tutorial video that teaches you how to use the Overused Words Cheat Sheet and unleash the power of ProWritingAid and Google Docs/Microsoft Word.

3. My ProWritingAid Cheat Sheet – To help you get up and running quickly, I compiled a cheat sheet of helpful links from the ProWritingAid website guiding you through the set-up and how to use my favorite features.

Okay, so those of you who have been waiting for this sale are probably clicking the link right now. If you’ve never heard of ProWritingAid before, or it sounds familiar but you’re not quite sure what it is, here are some FAQs below.

 

What is ProWritingAid and why is this sale a big deal?

It’s my favorite editing software, and is a grammar checker, style editor, and writing mentor in one package. I’ve used the premium version for years and have corresponded with their support team as a customer and as an affiliate.

I am promoting this tool as ProWritingAid is an excellent supplement to my signature online course Book Editing Blueprint: A Step-By-Step Plan to Making Your Novels Publishable, and it’s a resource that I recommend to my editing clients. It’s also great for college students and businesses. 

The sale is a big deal as they only drop their prices once, maybe twice, a year. As an affiliate, I can normally get you 20 percent off, but that’s obviously not as good as the Black Friday sale deal. 

Will it catch every mistake you make? No. It’s impossible for a software program to catch every error. Some manuscripts will still need a copyeditor and/or proofreader. Sometimes, ProWritingAid will even give you bad advice. It’s important to have basic grammar knowledge so you can make an educated decision whether to follow a recommendation or ignore it.

Despite these drawbacks, I still highly recommend ProWritingAid. It will catch many typos, misspellings, and grammatical errors, identify flabby and overused words, and do so much more. If you’re an author, it will help clean up the manuscript so your editors can do their jobs more efficiently, and it may cut down on your editing expenses.

Which plan should I get, annual or lifetime?

Think about how often you’ll use it. Are you a prolific author who churns out a couple books per year? Do you run a business? Are you a college student? Then maybe the lifetime ProWritingAid license would be a worthwhile investment. I found that paying a one-time fee for a lifetime license was a much cheaper alternative than renewing a subscription on an ongoing basis. Getting it now, for 50 percent off, is a fantastic deal!

I might be interested. What do I do next?

 It’s simple. Order through my link: https://prowritingaid.com/en/App/Purchase?afid=7663 Then forward your receipt to stacy@stacyjuba.com and I will send you my three bonuses.

Affiliate Disclaimer: If you purchase through my affiliate link, I will earn a commission on sales.

Behind The Rewrite With @JudyPenzSheluk: Varied Words Aren’t Always a Given

Behind The Rewrite With @JudyPenzSheluk: Varied Words Aren’t Always a Given

 

varied words

When I read Judy Penz Sheluk’s Behind the Rewrite post, I chuckled as boy, does it ring true! We all have crutch words and phrases that we rely on when we’re talking to others. It drives me crazy when I listen to myself in a podcast interview and hear myself say “you know.” Writers also have to worry about using crutch words in their books. One of my favorite, (okay, overused) words in my own fiction is “as.”  As a developmental editor, I’ve discovered that EVERY writer has their favorite overused words. Judy’s post is a great lesson for beginner writers and a terrific reminder for seasoned authors.

It was while golfing this past summer that I first noticed it. Every time one of my foursome hit an errant shot—and there were many—she’d say, “Are you kidding me?” At first, I found it amusing. After a while, I started counting the number of times she’d say it. I stopped at seventeen.

I remember thinking, at the time, that I could never get away with that in a novel. True, characters have quirks, and dialogue needs to be authentic, but too many “Are you kidding me’s” and the reader is going to find it distracting at best, and annoying at worst. 

That thought was firmly in my mind when I was rereading Where There’s A Will, the third and final book in my Glass Dolphin cozy mystery series, before sending out ARCs and getting the manuscript ready for my proofreader. 

Because I’d already read the book more times than I cared to remember, and because it had gone through four beta readers, I didn’t expect to find any instances of “Are you kidding me?” and I didn’t. What I did find was an inordinate number of “given this or that…” And when I say inordinate I mean twenty-nine. How had I missed those? How had everyone else?

Since the “givens” were scattered throughout the book, I’m going to share six examples, before and after. 

Example #1

Before: The break-up with Hudson had caused a few minor ripples in Emily’s life, given that she had recently become engaged to his best friend, Luke Surmanski, but it was nothing they couldn’t work around.

After: The break-up with Hudson had caused a few minor ripples in Emily’s life. She had recently become engaged to his best friend, Luke Surmanski, but it was nothing they couldn’t work around.

Example #2

Before: Emily had hesitated at first, given what she knew about the property’s history. How many people wanted to buy a house where the owner had been murdered, especially since the case had never been solved?

After: Didn’t change a word. Some “givens” are okay, and I thought it worked well in this instance.

Example #3

Before: Emily didn’t believe him, given that he was the CEO of Pemberton Productions and his TV show had been a ratings winner for the past five seasons.

After: Emily didn’t believe him. He was the CEO of Pemberton Productions and his TV show had been a ratings winner for the past five seasons.

Example #4

Before: Arabella wanted to laugh out loud. Trust Poppy to refer to a murder as a “circumstance.” Then again, maybe she was being a hypocrite, given that she’d just signed a contract with Faye Everett.

After: Arabella wanted to laugh out loud. Trust Poppy to refer to a murder as a “circumstance.” Then again, maybe she was being a hypocrite, since she’d just signed a contract with Faye Everett.

Example #5

Before: In Arabella’s experience, all secrets tended to weigh heavily, given enough time and perspective.

After: In Arabella’s experience, all secrets tended to weigh heavily, with enough time and perspective.

Example #6

Before: They agreed to split up, Levon staying at the Hadley house to finish the appraisal, time being of the essence given this latest set of circumstances, and Arabella charged with finding a lawyer.

After: They agreed to split up, Levon staying at the Hadley house to finish the appraisal, time being of the essence with this latest set of circumstances, and Arabella charged with finding a lawyer.

overused words

Want To Read The Book?

Emily Garland is getting married and looking for the perfect forever home. When the old, and some say haunted, Hadley house comes up for sale, she’s convinced it’s “the one.” The house is also perfect for reality TV star Miles Pemberton and his new series, House Haunters. Emily will fight for her dream home, but Pemberton’s pockets are deeper than Emily’s, and he’ll stretch the rules to get what he wants.

While Pemberton racks up enemies all around Lount’s Landing, Arabella Carpenter, Emily’s partner at the Glass Dolphin antiques shop, has been hired to appraise the contents of the estate, along with her ex-husband, Levon. Could the feuding beneficiaries decide there’s a conflict of interest? Could Pemberton?

Things get even more complicated when Arabella and Levon discover another will hidden inside the house, and with it, a decades-old secret. Can the property stay on the market? And if so, who will make the winning offer: Emily or Miles Pemberton?

Buy it on:

Amazon

More About Judy

A former journalist and magazine editor, Judy Penz Sheluk is the author of two mystery series: the Glass Dolphin Mysteries and the Marketville Mysteries. Her short crime fiction appears in several collections, including The Best Laid Plans and Heartbreaks & Half-truths, which she also edited. Judy is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and Crime Writers of Canada, where she serves as Chair on the Board of Directors. 

Visit her around the web:

Website/Blog

Facebook 

Twitter 

Instagram

Opportunities For Writers

Are you an author interested in writing a Behind the Rewrite guest blog post? Get the guidelines here.

Are you a writer who could use some editing tips? Check out Stacy’s free resources:

Line Editing Made Simple–5 Days to More Polished Pages  – Free e-mail class packed with line editing tips

Shortcuts for Writers: Editing Made Simple Facebook group – Download the guide, 7 Simple Steps to Nailing Your Book Blurb in Unit 1.

How To Name Your Characters: Tips Every Fiction Writer Should Know – Check out this extensive post on naming your characters, an informative video tour of 7 character-naming sites, and a free PDF guide that summarizes all the information.

Book Editing Blueprint: A Step-By-Step Plan to Making Your Novels Publishable – Learn how to streamline the editing process in this affordable, self-paced online course that will empower beginner and intermediate writers to think like an editor so they can save time and money. A steppingstone to hiring an editor.

Celebrate Indie Author Day With The Author Encounter (And Me!)

Celebrate Indie Author Day With The Author Encounter (And Me!)

Indie Author Day

I’m excited to be leading a workshop on Nov. 7, 2020 as part of The Author Encounter’s Indie Author Day celebration. If you’re an indie author or industry professional, The Author Encounter has tailored this day to you. Free and open to the public, this event will offer pre-recorded webinars, live panels, and workshops on topics such as the costs of self-publishing, ISBNs for self-publishing, how to get your book in libraries, audiobook production, marketing tips, and Pinterest for authors.

My session is titled Self-Editing Secrets: How to Simplify the Editing Process and Not Break the Bank. Registration is required. You can sign up here.

This event will be part of the fifth annual Indie Author Day event. In the past years, nearly 300 libraries hosted thousands of authors across the United States and Canada. This year, high participation is expected again. This is an opportunity for the indie community to come together to help self-published and independent authors learn and get discovered.

“Publishing your own work is more viable today than ever before and the Independent Book Publishers Association is honored to support those who choose this entrepreneurial path,” said Angela Bole, IBPA CEO. “Indie Author Day will provide a chance to discuss publishing options, learn best practices and celebrate successes with a tribe of forward thinking writers, publishers and librarians.”

In addition to the activities that will be happening nationally, The Author Encounter will enrich its programming with selected workshop videos produced by Indie Author Day sponsors from around the world. A panel will include Shay Baby of the Brown Book Series and DC Gomez of Inside the Minds of Authors. There will also be bonus content from the founders, Bethany Averie, YA author, and Nan Jenkins, virtual assistant.

Beyond this annual event, the Indie Author Day community offers programming on both the indieauthorday.com and the indieauthorproject.com to help libraries and authors stay connected throughout the year.

The main focus of The Author Encounter is increasing visibility for authors and creating super fans through unique theme events. It’s free for published authors to join. For more information about the event, click here.

To learn more about the national Indie Author Day, visit indieauthorday.com.

 

Behind The Rewrite With Nancy Lynn Jarvis: Weaving In Authentic Details In Fiction

Behind The Rewrite With Nancy Lynn Jarvis: Weaving In Authentic Details In Fiction

Mystery author Nancy Lynn Jarvis gives us a peek into her editing process in today’s Behind the Rewrite. Nancy shares five of her biggest changes, which include inserting and fact-checking small details. Adding these authentic details in fiction can flesh out your book and make your story world come alive, but it’s important that they’re well-researched. Below, read about the changes Nancy made in her novel The Funeral Murder.

Change #1: Trimming Overused Words

Most of us have favorite words we overuse which are difficult for us to recognize. In The Funeral Murder, I discovered my word was “so.” Occasionally it was a deliberate use of the word as a particular character’s speech pattern, but most of the time, I simply used the word where it wasn’t necessary. During the editing process, I deleted over half the times I used the word to make the book read better.

Change #2: Maximizing Tension

I tend to like details and research which works well with my protagonist, Pat Pirard, because she started the series as a law librarian, but when it comes to writing a dramatic confrontation-with-the-killer scene, I needed help. Fortunately, I have an accomplished tension-writer as a friend. She read the scene and made suggestions. Reworking the confrontation made it faster paced and more threatening.

Change #3: Adding Descriptive Details

My protagonist sometimes enlists the help of her best friend for capers when questioning suspects. Syda Gonzales, Pat’s BFF, is an artist in search of her medium and is game for anything Pat suggests. I get to make Syda dress the part. Figuring out how Syda looks at any given time is fun and enriches her character. I often change details about her during rewrites.

Change #4: Researching Authentic Details

I want what I’m saying to be accurate so I research, research, research. When I think I have details down, I pick up the phone and call an expert and then edit to include their precise expertise. It’s always fun to do. For The Funeral Murder, I was able to find out how and where my villain could procure batrachotoxin. It turns out it’s not easy to come by which was great for the book.

Change #5: Taming The Cat!

The final edits I made were centered around Pat’s cat, Lord Peter Wimsey. He’s a bit of a hero in the book and because what he does stretches reality for what a cat might do, I needed to make sure his movements were reasonable and feline-like. Wimsey is based on a long dead cat of mine who definitely would do what Wimsey wound up doing for another animal.

Want To Read The Book?

In The Glass House, the first book in the PIP Inc. Mysteries series, Pat Pirard, recently downsized Santa Cruz Law Librarian, needed to find a new job in a hurry. She printed business cards announcing she was Private Investigator Pat and crossed her fingers, hoping she could earn enough money working for attorneys as a PI to survive.

Pat’s first investigation went well, so she’s excited when she gets a call from an estate attorney who offers her a second job. The attorney tells Pat his client died at a funeral and he needs help sorting out who is entitled to inherit her estate. 

Pat quickly discovers the dead woman’s past is as complicated as her estate. And when an autopsy indicates she had two deadly toxins in her body when she died, Pat’s new case becomes not only complicated, but dangerous.

Buy it on:

Amazon

More About Nancy

Nancy Lynn Jarvis left the real estate profession after she started having so much fun writing the Regan McHenry Real Estate Mysteries series that she let her license lapse. After earning a BA in behavioral science from San Jose State University, Nancy worked in the advertising department of the San Jose Mercury News. A move to Santa Cruz meant a new job as a librarian and later a stint as the business manager for Shakespeare/Santa Cruz at UCSC. Currently she’s enjoying being a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and Santa Cruz Women of Mystery.

Visit her website and follow her on Facebook.

Opportunities For Writers

Are you an author interested in writing a Behind the Rewrite guest blog post? Get the guidelines here.

Are you a writer who could use some editing tips? Check out Stacy’s free resources:

Line Editing Made Simple–5 Days to More Polished Pages  – Free e-mail class packed with line editing tips

Shortcuts for Writers: Editing Made Simple Facebook group – Download the guide, 7 Simple Steps to Nailing Your Book Blurb in Unit 1.

How To Name Your Characters: Tips Every Fiction Writer Should Know – Check out this extensive post on naming your characters, an informative video tour of 7 character-naming sites, and a free PDF guide that summarizes all the information.

Book Editing Blueprint: A Step-By-Step Plan to Making Your Novels Publishable – Learn how to streamline the editing process in this affordable, self-paced online course that will empower beginner and intermediate writers to think like an editor so they can save time and money. A steppingstone to hiring an editor.

How To Write An Effective Query Letter And Synopsis For Your Book

How To Write An Effective Query Letter And Synopsis For Your Book

how to write an effective query letter and synopsis

My editing clients often ask me how to write an effective query letter and synopsis. Thank you to the team at QueryLetter.com for offering to write this guest post which outlines the difference between a query letter and a synopsis and shares some tips for how to write each of them. I’m sure you’ll find it informative. Remember, there is a free blurb unit inside the Shortcuts for Writers Facebook Group. Once you’re a member, you can download the toolkit, 7 Simple Steps to Nailing Your Book Blurb. Your blurb will become an important part of your query letter.

What’s The Difference Between A Query Letter And A Synopsis?

The publishing world is difficult. Your work isn’t over once you finish your manuscript. In fact, finishing your book is just the first step to populating bookshelves with your masterpiece! You’ll need to decide between traditional publishing and self-publishing, but if you want to see book stores stocked with physical copies of your book, traditional publishing is your best option.

In most cases, to pursue traditional publishing, you need to work with a literary agent, who will represent your manuscript and pitch it to publishers. Landing a literary agent can be a challenge, however. When doing research on pitching your manuscript to agents, you’ll come across terms such as “query letter” and “synopsis,” which may be unfamiliar to those new to publishing.

In this post, we’ll take you through the key differences between query letters and synopses and offer some tips on writing both.

What Is A Query Letter?

When you pitch your manuscript to a prospective literary agent, the most important element is your query letter. Your query letter is your chance to introduce yourself and your manuscript to the literary agent and explain why she should be interested in representing your book. The key purpose of a query letter is to intrigue the literary agent into requesting more info about your manuscript, and your query letter thus represents your first step in the publishing process.

Query letters are short, no longer than one page, and provide only a brief overview of your manuscript and your author bio. Since your space is extremely limited, you’ll need to make every word count. Essentially, you have only a few sentences to sell your book to a prospective literary agent.

What Is A Synopsis?

Whereas the query letter focuses on the whole picture, meaning you, the agent, and your manuscript, the synopsis is concerned with your manuscript alone. In essence, a synopsis is a one-to two-page description of the entire plot of your book, including the ending. It gives a prospective literary agent an in-depth glimpse into your plot and helps her determine whether your manuscript may be worth a full read.

Sometimes, literary agents ask prospective clients to submit a synopsis along with a query letter, but in most cases, the synopsis is the second step in the publishing process. In general, if you manage to pique a literary agent’s interest with your query letter, she’ll follow up by requesting a synopsis, and if she likes your synopsis, she’ll request your full manuscript.

How To Write A Query Letter

Typically, a query letter consists of two main parts: the hook and the pitch. In the hook, your job is to draw the agent’s attention with an interesting opening sentence that captures the essence of your manuscript. The pitch elaborates on the hook, providing an overview of your manuscript in two to three paragraphs that may include mentions of comparable books on the market. Finally, your query letter may include a brief author bio describing your experience and reputation—for example, if you have previous publications.

The main purpose of your query letter is to succinctly sell your manuscript. Condensing your 80,000-word manuscript into a few sentences can be difficult, so it’s better to start small and build up. Start by summarizing your plot in one or two sentences and build off that, adding only the most relevant and intriguing information. Take some time to consider the main themes and questions your manuscript deals with to help you best summarize your work.

Use others’ query letters to inspire you, as well. With a quick Google search, you can find thousands of query letter examples, so do some research into what kinds of query letters have successfully landed literary agents for other authors in your genre. This will give you a better idea of how best to structure your query letter for success.

Finally, always personalize your query letter. You can find out more about the agent you’re pitching to by browsing her social media or website, which will likely reveal her interests and the books she has represented previously. If it’s relevant, include this information in your query letter while explaining why you think this particular agent is a good fit for your manuscript.

How To Write A Synopsis

As with a query letter, your primary goal with your synopsis is to succinctly summarize your manuscript in a way that intrigues literary agents. A synopsis gives you more room than a query letter: Typically, a synopsis should be 500 words, or around two pages, unless the literary agent specifies another length. This affords you enough words to explain the main points of your plot and give the agent a solid overview of your story.

Think of a synopsis as an abridged version of your manuscript. It tells the same story, but all the details are cut out. It simply moves through all the key plot points. It has a clear beginning, middle, and end, just like your manuscript. A good way to build a solid synopsis is to start by condensing each chapter into one or two sentences. From that, build a comprehensive synopsis with a clear narrative arc that explains the major plot points.

Your writing style matters in your synopsis, too. Keep things clear and concise—no flowery prose or wordiness. At the same time, don’t just mechanically explain each event. Use your personal style and make the literary agent feel something. Your synopsis should be a mini version of your manuscript, not an emotionless description.

The Importance Of Feedback

Aside from helping to proofread your query letter and synopsis to eliminate typos, a trusted writing colleague, beta reader, or friend can be instrumental in providing feedback that helps you detect issues with clarity or style. A polished query letter and synopsis will maximize your chances of success, so seek out and incorporate as much feedback as you can, finding ways to improve your query letter and increase the intrigue.

If you don’t know where to start in terms of writing your query letter or synopsis, reach out to the team at QueryLetter.com. As experienced industry professionals, the QueryLetter.com team knows publishing inside and out, and they work with authors to help them navigate the challenges of the publishing world and get their books out on bookshelves.

Alina Adams’ Behind The Rewrite: Back And Forth With HarperCollins @IamAlinaAdams

Alina Adams’ Behind The Rewrite: Back And Forth With HarperCollins @IamAlinaAdams

 

HarperCollins new releases

I remember hearing New York Times bestselling author Alina Adams speak at a conference about her figure skating mystery series many years ago. Over the years, I’ve gotten to know Alina through social media, and when I heard about her new release, The Nesting Dolls, I knew that if she wrote a Behind the Rewrite post, it would be packed with information. Alina touched on five important areas to consider during the editing process: structure, narrative voice, title, prologues, and the importance of sympathetic characters. I think readers will be fascinated to learn how she struggled with choosing a title for her book. It also struck me that she included a prologue in her novel. I usually advise clients to be careful with prologues as many don’t work, however, Alina’s prologue is an example of one that was successfully executed. Below, you can learn more about the editing stages of The Nesting Dolls and how she went back and forth with her editor at HarperCollins, a big 5 publisher. 

My historical fiction novel, The Nesting Dolls came out on July 14, 2020 from HarperCollins. It tells the stories of five generations of Russian Jewish women, taking place in Odessa, USSR during the 1930s and Stalin’s Great Terror, Odessa, USSR in the 1970s during The Great Stagnation and the Free Soviet Jewry movement, and present day Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. 

My editor bought the book in June of 2018, but it took over a year of back and forth edits for the manuscript to be finalized. Here are the top 5 changes that were made:

Change #1: Structure

The Nesting Dolls is told in three different sections, the 1930s, the 1970s, and 2019. In the original manuscript that I submitted, the story flowed in intertwined chapters. I.e. Chapter One: Daria 1934, Chapter Two: Natasha 1973, Chapter Three: Zoe 2019. The first change my editor made was for me to restructure so that we got all of Daria’s story, then all of Natasha’s, then all of Zoe’s. (Even though, for one rewrite, I convinced her to let me try it backwards, first Zoe, then Natasha, then Daria. I thought it might make it more intriguing, but, in the end, we went back to the chronological version.) My father is happy that we did. He says he gets too confused reading stories told out of sequence. (And speaking of my father, watch him explain how to make vodka from potatoes – a key part of The Nesting Dolls plot – here!)

Change #2: Narrative Voice

In the original draft, Daria and Natasha’s sections were in the third person, past tense, while Zoe’s was in first person, present tense. Since she was the modern character, I thought it would give more immediacy to her story. My editor felt it didn’t allow us to get to know Zoe as well as we did Natasha and Daria, since she was not the best judge of what she was actually thinking and feeling and, more importantly, what effect her behavior was having on others. In this case, she felt we could understand Zoe better if we observed her, rather than letting her tell us about herself.

Change #3: Title

The book went through multiple titles. I’d initially called it, Love Is Not a Potato. Because that’s the first line of the book and refers to the Russian expression, “Love is not a potato. If it goes bad, you can’t throw it out the window.’ (It rhymes in Russian and, as we learned from The Lego Movie, everything is true because it rhymes.) My agent thought it sounded like a children’s book. So I changed it to Mother Tongue, because a big theme in every woman’s story is communication, both the political – in the USSR, saying the wrong thing or even speaking the wrong language could get you deported to Siberia – and the personal, parents and children not saying what they mean, or misunderstanding what is said. My editor thought Mother Tongue sounded like a nonfiction title. We wanted a title that suggested Russia, as well as love, family, and relationships. Unable to think of anything, I turned to Facebook, where one of my friends offered The Nesting Dolls. Nesting dolls are dolls where one is inside the other, inside the other, inside the other. It was perfect, since, inside everyone, are all the family members who came before, and what they lived through. They’re what make you, you!

Change #4: Prologue

The Nesting Dolls always had a prologue. (Don’t listen to those who say a book must never have a prologue. I love to read them, so I write them – when it fits the story.) But, in the original draft, the prologue merely set the scene and introduced some of the characters we’ll get to know later, in the present day. My agent suggested making the prologue more compelling by incorporating the story’s climactic dramatic event – the potential exposure of a deeply held family secret – as a tease, to whet the appetite for the drama to come!

Change #5: Likeability Factor

Some of my characters are more likable than others. One, I was told, came off as particularly abrasive and unsympathetic. She mostly complained about her life, blamed other people for it not working out the way she would have liked, and dismissed those who wanted to help her. My editor’s notes were very specific about making her more of a character to root for. I did it by making her more proactive, more heroic in the actions she took, and more aware of other people around her. I added more difficult challenges for her to overcome to show that she was a good person at heart… she just had a tougher time being vulnerable than most. She’s still not the most loveable person in the world, but trust me – she’s much improved!

how to title a book

Want To Read The Book?

The Nesting Dolls is a historical family saga set in the USSR is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold. A Book Club Reading Guide is also available

Spanning nearly a century, from 1930s Siberia to contemporary Brighton Beach, a page turning, epic family saga centering on three generations of women in one Russian Jewish family―each striving to break free of fate and history, each yearning for love and personal fulfillment―and how the consequences of their choices ripple through time.

Odessa, 1931. Marrying the handsome, wealthy Edward Gordon, Daria―born Dvora Kaganovitch―has fulfilled her mother’s dreams. But a woman’s plans are no match for the crushing power of Stalin’s repressive Soviet state. To survive, Daria is forced to rely on the kindness of a man who takes pride in his own coarseness.

Odessa, 1970. Brilliant young Natasha Crystal is determined to study mathematics. But the Soviets do not allow Jewish students―even those as brilliant as Natasha―to attend an institute as prestigious as Odessa University. With her hopes for the future dashed, Natasha must find a new purpose―one that leads her into the path of a dangerous young man.

Brighton Beach, 2019. Zoe Venakovsky, known to her family as Zoya, has worked hard to leave the suffocating streets and small minds of Brighton Beach behind her―only to find that what she’s tried to outrun might just hold her true happiness.

Moving from a Siberian gulag to the underground world of Soviet refuseniks to oceanside Brooklyn, The Nesting Dolls is a heartbreaking yet ultimately redemptive story of circumstance, choice, and consequence―and three dynamic unforgettable women, all who will face hardships that force them to compromise their dreams as they fight to fulfill their destinies.

Buy it on:

Amazon

More About Alina

Alina Adams is the NYT best-selling author of soap-opera tie-ins, romance novels, and figure skating mysteries. She was born in Odessa, USSR and immigrated with her family to the US in the 1970s. Visit her website at: www.AlinaAdams.com, on Facebook at: AlinaAdamsMedia, on Twitter at: @IamAlinaAdams, and on Instagram at: IamAlinaAdams.

Opportunities For Writers

Are you an author interested in writing a Behind the Rewrite guest blog post? Get the guidelines here.

Are you a writer who could use some editing tips? Check out Stacy’s free resources:

Line Editing Made Simple–5 Days to More Polished Pages  – Free e-mail class packed with line editing tips

Shortcuts for Writers: Editing Made Simple Facebook group – Download the guide, 7 Simple Steps to Nailing Your Book Blurb in Unit 1.

How To Name Your Characters: Tips Every Fiction Writer Should Know – Check out this extensive post on naming your characters, an informative video tour of 7 character-naming sites, and a free PDF guide that summarizes all the information.

Book Editing Blueprint: A Step-By-Step Plan to Making Your Novels Publishable – Learn how to streamline the editing process in this affordable, self-paced online course that will empower beginner and intermediate writers to think like an editor so they can save time and money. A steppingstone to hiring an editor.

Selling Online Courses: 100+ Creators Share Their Sales Secrets  #SalesMasterySummit

Selling Online Courses: 100+ Creators Share Their Sales Secrets #SalesMasterySummit

sell online courses

Just wanted to share that I am one of the speakers at The Sales Mastery Summit – All About Selling Online Courses, Memberships or Masterminds. I’m delighted to extend limited free passes to you to attend this summit at absolutely no cost. Here is the link to get a free pass. (Please note that this is an affiliate link, so if you purchase any upgrades, I will receive a small commission.) The summit, for women by women, goes live from Sept. 17-19, 2020. I’ll be a panelist on Day 3, Session 50, talking about launching my self-paced editing course for fiction and creative nonfiction writers, Book Editing Blueprint: A Step-By-Step Plan to Making Your Novels Publishable.

My courses are hosted on the Thinkific platform, and branching out from writing and editing books to creating and selling online courses has been quite a journey! During this event, 100+ course creators from all over the world are sharing their sales secrets which allow them to offer courses, masterminds, and memberships to the world, and charge the price for their offers that they deserve.

In the last few months, there are more online courses which have come up than ever. The knowledge industry is aiming to become a billion dollar a day industry. You can increase the sales of your online course, membership, or mastermind up learning the sales secrets from 100+ speakers.

The world needs your wisdom, and I am excited to share my secret sales strategies as a course creator with you during this summit. Purvi Tantia, the host of the summit, helps women of wisdom to create legacy. She is a globally renowned business coach to women in coaching and consulting. She is the founder of “Women of Wisdom Movement” or “WoW Movement” which is a global movement aimed to empower women in coaching and consulting businesses to build purposeful tribes and monetize them using the power of stories.

Named as one of the most sought after story coaches and business coaches in the world, Purvi has travelled to over 30 countries, served clients globally, and given keynote speeches on prestigious stages in five countries. Having been featured on TED, she wrote her secret talk strategies in a book called, STORY: The Hidden Secret of Successful TED talks. Grab a Free Pass for the summit at this link: https://www.purvitantia.com/a/34773/TUjqZLzo and you will find the sales secrets to skyrocket your online course/mastermind/membership.

online course creators
Cost-Effective Book Editing Livestream – Get Some Tips!

Cost-Effective Book Editing Livestream – Get Some Tips!


This is an interview I did for Emma Dhesi’s podcast for new writers, Turning Readers Into Writers. It was also livestreamed in her Facebook group, Turning Readers Into Writers With Emma Dhesi.

The topic was cost-effective editing and self-editing tips. Thank you to Emma for generously giving me the video to share. We discussed my writing background, delved into common mistakes that writers make, and I shared about how my self-paced online course Book Editing Blueprint: A Step-By-Step Plan to Making Your Novels Publishable saves writers time and money.

During the interview, I also responded to questions from Facebook listeners about working with an editor.

Emma is an extremely inspiring writer and coach who helps beginner writers find the time and confidence to write their first novel.

ENROLL IN MY COURSE, BOOK EDITING BLUEPRINT, USING EMMA’S AFFILIATE LINK

You can find Emma here:
Turning Readers Into Writers Facebook group:

Website

Podcast

Read her interview on the Shortcuts for Writers Blog

Top 5 Tips For Writing Legal Scenes In Fiction

Top 5 Tips For Writing Legal Scenes In Fiction

legal scenes in fiction

Have you ever watched legal scenes in a movie or read them in a book and wondered how accurate they were? I’m thrilled to welcome Yvette Cano, a freelance writer who has law as one of her specialties. Yvette, who received her law degree from South Texas College of Law, has shared her top five tips for writing legal scenes in fiction. She notes several common mistakes, and I’m sure you’ve seen examples of these in books and on screen. Now I’ll let Yvette present her case!

I’m watching a movie with my husband, and it’s a scene in the courtroom. “That would never happen. That’s ridiculous.” My poor husband has to sit through this with any legal situation. I can’t help it. I love those movies and books, but are they realistic? Absolutely not. As a writer, how can you create realistic legal scenes? Here are some tips for writing them.

The Emotional Outburst

“Order in the court!” Lawyers, judges, witnesses, defendants, and even jurors have jumped over the barrier, screaming and yelling. The courtroom is in an uproar and the judge is banging his gavel. It makes for a great, emotional setting. I’m yelling from my couch.

Let’s break it down:

Defendants or jurors would be immediately removed, locked up or fined. The judge is in control and there is always a bailiff. So as soon as someone jumps over the barrier or stands up to scream, the judge will order the bailiff to remove the person.

We all want our witnesses to scream, cry and confess on the witness stand. It’s exciting. Hardly ever happens. They are prepared thoroughly before, and told to remain professional. If a person does get emotional, which might happen, it is immediately shut down by the judge. The judge will intervene, tell the person to manage their temper or emotions, and then strike the outburst from the record. If it’s not on the record, it didn’t happen.

When I finally had my first court appearance, I spent so much time on my theatrical points of view. I was prepared to walk around the courtroom emotionally charged. I was going to win over the jury and judge. My client would rejoice. Applause in the court. Nope, that didn’t happen. It is not professional for any lawyer to have an emotional outburst. The courtroom is typically the judge’s domain, not the lawyers. The ethical sanctions in place would be tremendous. All lawyers have a code of honor that they have to abide by.

Forget moving around the courtroom as well. I remember one of my first times in a courtroom, and everyone was so polite. In order to approach the witness stand or judge, you have to ask permission and have a good reason. Well, there goes my theatrical walk around the courtroom. And there are audiences in a court, but nobody applauds anymore.

As for the judge, I’ve actually never really seen one bang the gavel. Some courts don’t even have gavels.

It makes for great emotional scenes, but it is not very realistic. If you are going to put in the emotional outburst, prepare for the consequences. Have the person be thrown out by the bailiff. Or the lawyer sanctioned. If you want to write the theatrical points of view, leave it for the lawyer’s summation. Add in the “May I approach the bench?” language.

legal fictionSurprise Witnesses And Evidence

“The defense calls the plaintiff’s secret lover to the stand.” Gasps from the courtroom. The plaintiff’s attorney starts screaming. How many times did I think this was going to happen, and I’d save the day again? Surprise witnesses and evidence hardly ever find their way into the courtroom, and if they do, the other side will be given plenty of time out of the courtroom to research.

There’s this little thing called discovery. A long, not dramatic nor sexy process. It is actually quite boring and that’s why it never finds itself into many legal scenes. It’s pages of questions that are asked by one side, and have to be answered by the other side. Lawyers really know each argument that will be brought up in court so there are no surprises. Every piece of evidence in court goes through discovery first. No shocking movie type moment.

If there happens to be an unusually last-minute epiphany, then the side who didn’t know about the witness or evidence will ask for time to cross-examine. The judge will always allow time so there is no trial by ambush or will simply not allow the witness/evidence.

Be ready to write in the long nights of coffee and research. Reading pages of discovery or answering hundreds of questions.

Unfounded Objections

I had dreams that when I got into a courtroom that I’d scream “Objection!”, defending my client’s best interest. Just like I had seen in the movies, and also hardly ever happens. Yet, this is what makes a good dramatic story. The yelling of objections, badgering the witness, and talking over the other lawyer.

In reality, once “objection” has been said, that lawyer needs to have a reason. The lawyer can’t just scream objection without any substantial claim. Some of the more common objections are relevance and hearsay. Once the objection is out there, nothing else can be said until the judge rules on it. There isn’t a yelling match between lawyers, talking over each other. Again, the judge must rule on it by saying overruled or sustained before anything proceeds.

If anyone continues to talk after the objection, it will be struck from the record and they could face ethical sanctions or be in contempt of court. If your character is a good lawyer, they need to remain professional and know what to say and when to say it is important.

Venue And Jurisdiction

Not very glamorous, is it? Yet, it’s little details like this that will make a great writer. If your character is in a civil suit, are they liable or guilty? Can a criminal lawsuit be dropped by the victim? Which court are they in? All these circumstances make a difference in setting the scene.

So first, is it a criminal or civil case? There are differences between the two. The biggest difference is that a civil lawsuit can take up to a year to be ready for trial. Whereas, a criminal case needs to be speedy and fair trial per the 6th Amendment.

Venue is finding out what is the proper place in which to file the lawsuit. Is it a county or city? Think of venue as the geographical location of the court.

Jurisdiction is when the court has authority over the subject matter of the case. Is it a state or federal subject matter? Then, there are specific courts for the situation. Taxes in tax court. Divorce in family court. A criminal is not tried in the same place that someone is defending their parking tickets unless it is a very small town with only one judge. In that situation, a lawyer would shop around to do what is best for their client.

It’s complicated and not very alluring to find the correct descriptions, but makes a huge difference if you know what you are talking about.

Courtroom Inspiration

You are writing a great courtroom scene when your characters then settle the disagreement out of court. No emotional outbursts or cheers for the good guy winning the case. Not what you pictured?

The reality is that many civil lawsuits settle out of court before trial, and most criminal cases end with a plea bargain. I know I was expecting that lucrative and intriguing court life. I bought the dress suits and heels to go with it, but they hardly ever saw the inside of the courtroom. Many states require an alternative form of resolution before even setting a date for trial. It saves a lot of money with court costs and lawyer fees.

So if you skip the court scene, know that your writing will be realistic and lawyers everywhere will be silently clapping for you.

Conclusion

Some advice if you are going to write a legal scene and have no clue, consult with an attorney, especially one in the state or country where your book takes place. Laws vary depending on where you are.

Do the research as well. Learn about the rules of evidence, hearsay, witnesses, etc. You don’t have to read the huge law books and become a law guru, but getting the language correct helps. Taking this level of attention will carry into your writing and make your legal scene more believable.

I rest my case.

Have you ever written a legal scene in your fiction project? How did you research it? What types of law mistakes have you seen in books and on screen? Let us know in the comments.

More About Yvette

Yvette Cano is a freelance writer for hire, specializing in law, human resources, and hospitality. She believes words matter so choose yours wisely. She works closely with clients to provide engaging content that converts viewers into customers. When she isn’t writing, she is talking to her dogs, Gigi and Tex, since they really are the best listeners. Learn more about her services at YvetteCanoWrites.com.

The Writing Cooperative: A Helpful Website For Writers @WritingCoop

The Writing Cooperative: A Helpful Website For Writers @WritingCoop

How Do You Start Writing? Think Like A Writer! #10minnovelists #setthetimer

How Do You Start Writing? Think Like A Writer! #10minnovelists #setthetimer

how do you start writing

Katharine Grubb of 10 Minute Novelists has a brand new book out and it delves into questions such as how do you start writing, how do you visualize yourself as a writer, and how do you get your writing done. Below, Katharine tells you a little about her book Think Like A Writer In 10 Minutes A Day and shares an excerpt. If you’re a new writer, or if you’re having trouble fitting writing into a busy schedule, then it’s time for you to meet Katharine! 

Are you a writer? Or are you not one? Do you see yourself as a writer? 

Have you fallen in love with the written word? Have you ever savored a story, wondered how words came together, longed to see your name on a cover? 

Have you ever thought you’d like to create something, anything, with words, but you don’t know how? 

The first step? See yourself as one. Then, as you get used to this new “identity”, you can take steps to physically and emotionally set yourself up to be productive. This will mean creating a writing space, organizing your time, seeking inspiration, and writing regularly without fear. 

Katharine grubb

I made this jump from non-writer to writer back in 2006. I had five children, all eight years old and younger, and decided that it was time to restart my lifelong dream to be a writer. Once I saw myself as a writer, grew in organization and discipline, and conquered my fears, I finished projects and published them. Since 2006, I’ve written ten books. 

My newest book Think Like A Writer In 10 Minutes A Day is for the hesitant writer who hasn’t made that jump yet from non-writer to beginner. This book is for that critical first step: to think like one.  

Here is an excerpt of the book’s introduction.

think like a writer

Introduction

Back in the early days of my writing life I was asked one question more than any other: “Are you a pantser or a plotter?”  I don’t remember how I answered because I don’t remember understanding what they were talking about. I found out later, that this ubiquitous, reductionist, and rather uninteresting question was really asking, “How do you think?” 

If I answered, “I’m a plotter,” then it would be assumed that I had studied story structure, logically worked out plot points, and analytically planned my story before I began the drafting process. If I answered, “I’m a ‘pantser’,” then that I would imply that I “wrote by the seat of my pants,” pursuing emotional tangents rather than a strict plan, and preferring creative spontaneity instead of structure. If I did have a preference, and it was the opposite choice of the person who asked the question, then I may have received a condescending rebuttal on why my choice was “incorrect.” Sometimes it might even be implied that once I claimed a “side” I had to be loyal to that “side” for the rest of my career. 

All of that is hogwash. In reality all writers, whether they want to admit it or not, need both approaches in the way that they think not just of their stories, but also of their writing goals. 

What does it mean to think like a writer? There are as many ways to think about and approach writing as there are books on a public library’s shelf. Writers, especially new ones, don’t need a false dichotomy to dictate how they should approach their writing. Both “pantsers” and “plotters” think like writers, and if they are comfortable with their methods, then they are successful at it. How much more interesting it would be if writers were asked instead, “Oh, you’re a writer too? How do you process your ideas?” Or, “What’s going through your mind when you create?”

All successful authors, back in the beginning of their careers, to a mental leap and first saw themselves as writers. They set up their lives, physically and emotionally to achieve their writing goals. They all, for lack of a better term, had a writer mode in their settings, either analytical or emotional (or a combination of both) and tuned into it as they worked on their projects. 

If they were in “writer mode” then they organized at their time and resources in such a way that they were able to get their writing done. In “writer mode” they were conscientious of their environment, looking constantly for inspiration, and came up with ideas from a myriad of places. But also, because “writer mode” is solitary, they may have faced self-doubt and fear, and perhaps slipped into despair. (Sadly, thinking like a writer has a sordid history.) All writers, new and experienced, have to set their minds intentionally, and decisively, on what they want to accomplish or they will never see their dreams come true. 

I had to make that decision too. Back in 2006, I had five small children, all 8 years old and younger, and I thought it was the perfect time to start my writing career. Even though I didn’t know how to begin, I decided to commit at least ten minutes a day to my writing dream. I had to think differently in order to become something different.  I had to change the way that I viewed my time, energy, and environment, to meet this simple goal.  I knew I needed to think like a writer in order to be one. But I didn’t know to do that, so I guessed

I read library books on writing, scoured writing blogs for fresh insight (whose advice was often contradictory), and slapped together my first website.  I “pantsed” well over 200,000 words on my first novel before I formulated some sort of plot. I probably could have saved a lot of time had I a plan of action, or a community, or even another writer to tell me what to do next. I wanted to think and act like a writer, but I had no idea what that was, so I just followed every whim. For better or worse, I “pantsed” my way into thinking like a writer. 

Had I “plotted” my way into thinking like I writer, I might have created a regular writing schedule, and equip myself better in organization and discipline.  I would have educated myself on storytelling basics. I would have read more books that were similar to what I wanted to write. I would have worked more deliberately to expose myself to culture and beauty so I would be inspired. I would have understood that all writers struggle to find their voice and purpose. I would have come to terms with my emotional resistance, who kept telling me “what makes you think you can pull this off?” I probably  could have thought like a writer from the beginning, but I couldn’t get out of my own head to do it. 

What I needed to learn came 10 years after I started: I finally realized that writerly brilliance was not ever easy. 

Seth Godin’s book Linchpin, had the truth I needed. “A brilliant author or businesswoman or senator or software engineer is brilliant only in tiny bursts. The rest of the time, they’re doing work that most any trained person could do. It might take a lot of tinkering or low-level work or domain knowledge for that brilliance to be evoked, but from the outside, it appears that the art is created in the moment, not in tiny increments.” (P. 51.)

I did get the tiny increment part right. It was in 2006, in between childcare, household management, and homeschooling that I began to set my timer for 10 minutes. I put the time in, but how much more efficient that time would have been had I been thinking like a writer in the first place. 

This book is for the new writer who is facing the ocean of possibility as a fiction writer and doesn’t know what to do. This is a hand-holding, coaxing book of instruction to new writers who don’t have the skills or courage to put their toes in the water, much less sail. This book is meant to save the struggle of figuring things out for the first time fiction writer. To change metaphors, my previous book, Write A Novel in Ten Minutes A Day, is the Couch25K for fiction writers, but Think Like A Writer in 10 Minutes A Day, is picking out the first pair of sneakers. After each section, this book provides exercises that can be done in a series of 10 minute increments. They are meant to be personal, journal type responses with no real deadline, and certainly no right answers. To do the exercises, you’ll need a notebook, or a new document on your laptop, or some way to keep everything together. You can do these exercises as you see fit, perhaps one a day. Some can be accomplished in 10 minutes, some will require several 10 minute increments. All are completed when you say they are. 

This book is divided in three sections. The first section will address the more analytical, logical parts of writing. In this part, I’ll be leading you through exercises to help you clarify your personal definition of success, challenge you to use your time and space better, and review you on the basic understanding of writing skills. These are important concepts, but they’re not that sexy, so we’re addressing them first to get them out of the way.  If you are really into Seth Godin or Getting Things Done, you’re going to love this part. Each of the exercises, in this, the logistical thinking section, will help you think more objectively about your writing journey. 

Then, the second part will address the more touchy-feely, artsy-fartsy ways in which you can think like a writer. In this section, I will be encouraging you to get in touch with your feelings, identify yourself as a creative person and speak to yourself about your desires to write. Then, we’ll wrap it up on the importance of authenticity in your writing and how to tap into your reality as a creative person. If you are really into Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, or Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic, then you are going to love this part of the book. Go ahead, write in the margins. Stain the pages with your tears. That’s what the emotional thinking part of the book is there for.

But there’s a third part too, resistant thinking. This part is arguably the most important, because if you can’t manage it, you certainly can’t succeed in the writing world. Like it or not, there is a part of your brain that is quite happy if you stay on your couch, flip back and forth between Netflix and Hulu, and eat your weight in Hot Pockets. This part of your brain does not want think like a writer. This part of your brain knows that writing is hard, so it will do everything to stop you. It will throw you lies, doubts, fears, and the reminder of what that teacher said to you about that poem you wrote all those years ago. If you have read Austin Kleon, or know what lizard brain means, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. I have a section here to help you combat resistant thinking and hopefully prepare you for the constant battle resistant thinking will fight as long as you decide to pursue this dream. 

Brenda Ueland said this in her book If You Want To Write (p. 4) “Everybody is talented because everybody who is human has something to express.” I believe that because you chose to read this book that you have something to express too. Perhaps like me, you need to get yourself out of your own head, think like a writer is supposed to think, and begin your journey. 

Exercises

1.1 Find a way to journal; either create a new document on your computer, a note on your phone, or pick up a cheap notebook somewhere, set a timer for ten minutes and write the answer to this question: Based on the Brenda Ueland quote you read above, what would you like to express? 

1.2  Would you most likely be a “plotter” or a “pantser”? Why? 

1.3 Which of the ways of thinking: logical, emotional, or resistant, do you think is the easiest to understand and practice? Which do you think will be most challenging to learn about? 

Buy it on Amazon 

More About Katharine

Katharine Grubb is an almost-done-homeschooling mother, poet, hybrid author, camping enthusiast and confident home cook who thinks that she is the funniest person in her family. She is the founder and CEO of 10 Minute Novelists and lives in Central Massachusetts, USA, with her husband and a ever-varying number of her five mostly-grown children. She is the author of Write A Novel In Ten Minutes A Day (Hodder & Stoughton, 2015.) 

Can you relate to any of the above struggles? Share your thoughts in the comments!

 

Pin It on Pinterest