Finishing

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Do you have a few unfinished projects lying around? I don’t mean an unfinished sweater you started knitting years ago or clothes to wash. I mean writing projects. For a writer, life is complex. Traveling and going off on a hike with friends are important. Experience is the basis of good writing, but writers must take the time to write. Prioritizing is part of getting things done.

Last year, I set a goal to finish four novels I had written over the past two decades. While writing the novels, I felt compelled to complete three nonfiction books first and published them on Amazon. I edited the novels numerous times and received helpful edits from my critique partners. Then, hired a professional editor. Once she returned them, it meant more editing. So, for the past year I focused on finalizing the novels.

Writing The End of a first draft was a great achievement but then the real work began. If you consider a novel in the 80,000-word range, writing 350 words a day for 228 days would bring you to The End of the first draft. If you are aiming for 100,000 for your genre, you’d finish in a year. That is less than one page of single-spaced manuscript per day.

Some days are more productive than others. I am often up before dawn writing because mornings are my most productive time of day. Find your best time. Most writers can’t write every day, but on days they don’t put words on paper, the stories evolve and solidify in their thoughts.

Rewriting and editing are tedious but must be done to perfection before you query an agent or indie-publish on Amazon or one of many other platforms. After all your personal focus and hours, you may be blinded to serious problems in the storyline or unclear word choices. It is still essential to enlist beta-readers who are voracious readers in the genre and not family members. The hope is to identify problem areas you have not recognized before you proceed to publication.

Whether you are writing fiction or nonfiction, your job is to never bore the reader. Information in a nonfiction work or the story in your novel must be engaging and keep the reader reading. Attending writer conferences, taking classes and participating in online writing skills webinars can be valuable. Many are free, but usually, in the end, will try to sell you something.

Each year, November is National Novel Writing Month; NaNoWriMo for short. If you need a push to finish a project or start a new one, this may be for you. Locally, at Flathead Valley Community College, Kathy Dunnehoff is presenting Novel Challenge. Beginning October 30 for five sessions. She will discuss the craft of writing and how to keep words flowing for the month of November. With concentrated effort you can finish a first draft during the class.

Dennis Foley is teaching Writing the First Novel during fall semester. Check out the online brochure at FVCC, Creative Writing. Authors

The annual Flathead River Writers Conference is September 22 and 23 at FVCC where you can learn from both Kathy and Dennis along with other publishing industry professionals. The brochure and online registration are available: https://www.authorsoftheflathead.org.

Happy writing and reading. Hope to see you at the conference.

Betty Kuffel

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September Book News

 

books 9 2018

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Join Author Susan Purvis Tuesday October 2nd

for her official book launch of Go Find.

It’s going to be a festive affair with book signing, music, snacks.

 Reading and Discussion.

A free drink to book purchasers.

Where: Casey’s Whitefish 101 Central Ave. Whitefish, Montana

Time:  6 pm doors open-Book signing, music. 

 7:15 pm Discussion with Susan and Whitefish Review editor Brain Schott and Keith Liggett about her memoir, the writing process and life and love. Q &A for audience.

8:30 pm Book signing and music.

 

NEWS! ANNOUNCING: Go Find will be released early for Flathead River Writers Conference Sept 22nd.  Ten days before general public. On sale at the conference.

Betty Kuffel, Author

Betty’s Book News for September5-6-2018-deadly-pyre-new-front-cover.jpg

Deadly Pyre is book one of the Kelly McKay  medical thriller series. It will be available as a free Kindle on Amazon September 28, 29 and 30th. Please take advantage of the free book and share the information with your friends.

Amazon link

In this book, Dr. Kelly McKay struggles to complete her ER residency at Seattle’s Harbor Medical Center. Ferocious competition, burnout and an unpredictable lover complicate her life. Besides unexplained deaths of patients under her care jeopardizing her career, a sudden increase in stabbing victims points to a serial killer stalking women near the hospital. Will Kelly be next?

 

 

Rewriting at Sunrise

The End

Completing the first draft of a novel and writing The End is really the beginning. Most writers feel relief when they write those final words. It’s a joyous time, so open that bottle of champagne. Savor the moment but compare the achievement to graduating from high school on your way to a doctorate.

Fiction and nonfiction both require the framework of storytelling, a beginning, middle and end. You might conceptualize an ending before you ever formulate a story line to reach that unique end. Once you sprout an idea, the next step is to decide the premise for the book.  What is the big picture? Why are you telling this story?

The plot is a construct of details and creation of characters to effectively tell your story. They will take the reader through twists and turns in a cohesive framework to reach the ending you’ve designed. Whether it be a short story, novel, memoir or a technical manual, your goal is to grab the reader and compel them to read on.

Along the way, your process includes reassessment of the plot and subplots to tell the story without extraneous words. Avoid excessive descriptors and adverbs. Make every word count; concise, clear, and compelling.

Best-selling authors use four plotting steps:

  • Identify the protagonist. Who will tell your story?
  • Show the incident that drives the protagonist to act.
  • Reveal the overarching story goal and universal stakes that appeal to reader emotions. What are the rewards for the protagonist’s success and the cost of failure?
  • Build a complex antagonist who isn’t all bad, whose motivation to oppose the protagonist’s efforts is clear and believable. What is the antagonist’s reward for success and the cost of failure?

I attended a recent online thriller workshop that included a lecture by Gary Provost, a master storyteller.  The above four points are compressed by Gary into two sentences: Once upon a time, something happened to someone and he decided he would pursue a goal. So he devised a plan of action and even though there were forces trying to stop him, he moved forward because there was a lot at stake. It sounds funny but includes the basics.

Story Engineering by Larry Brooks provides the architecture of beats, plot points and pivot points that drive a story forward. His award-winning blog www.storyfix.com contains many writing tips. He also deconstructs best sellers and movies by analyzing their story lines to identify how they all follow the plot format.

As writers, our focus is putting words on a page. We all have quirks, different processes and variable efficiency depending on the time of day. I have friends who write best in the bustling atmosphere of a coffee shop. Others write late at night. When the day is done for most people, they are wide awake and creative. For me, early morning is perfect, before sunrise when the world is quiet but for chirping birds. By noon, I’ve put in a full day’s work. But that doesn’t mean I stop writing. When life doesn’t get in the way, writers write.

When I began writing a medical thriller about two decades ago, I had a good ending and began writing without a developed story line. I just wrote. After completing that book and many rewrites, I went on to different projects, all of them using an outline. In 2013, I finally published a book, the true crime, Eyes of a Pedophile, followed by two more nonfiction books. Then, I returned to the early novel. It was awful.

I divided the original manuscript into two books and then wrote a romance. This year, I set out to finish all three. After excruciating months of editing, I accomplished my goal and published them on Amazon. I have two more in the final editing stages, so I’m ahead of schedule.

Learning new skills sped up my progress. We live in a world of technological advances that make writing easier and more efficient. Scrivener is a software writing and organizational product writers around the world are using. This powerful tool has a free trial available for both Mac and Windows from www.literatureandlatte.com. Tools in the program include a research library, name generator, easy portability of product out of the program along with formatting processes for fiction, nonfiction and script writing. There is a high learning curve, but those who have learned the process use it for all their writing. Classes are available at Flathead Valley Community College.

Many writing classes are available at the community college and online. If you are stumbling toward completion because you lack computer skills, consider checking out local classes, and those from www.Lynda.com where you will find tutorials and training. The first month on Lynda is free.

YouTube can be helpful for trouble-shooting computer issues. I love YouTube for home repairs, too. Skilled repair and construction guys helped me repair my dishwasher and tile my laundry room last year. But, beware of watching TED talk writer presentations, it will sidetrack you from writing for hours.

Dennis Foley, local writing guru and former television series writer, provides creative writing lectures the first Thursday of each month for Authors of the Flathead at FVCC. Check out www.authorsoftheflathead.org for times and room locations. Consider attending their annual Flathead River Writers Conference September 22 and 23. You can register and pay online at the link.

If you are a serious writer, Dennis tells us, read a lot, write a lot, and hang out with writers. I add, take classes and join a critique group.

Here is a very helpful editing blog posted on TKZ by local writer Deb Burke. https://killzoneblog.com/2015/10/whats-your-self-editing-score.html

Thanks for stopping by

Montana Sunrise Books

Author Betty Kuffel

 

 

BOOK REVIEWS

Apple blossom.1Today marked the first day of Spring. The winter doldrums are behind us. If you haven’t accomplished some of your New Year’s goals in writing, maybe now is the time to start. Let the warm sun energize you and your writing. Finish reading some of those books and set a goal to help fellow writers by providing them with a book review on their Amazon purchase page. Writing book reviews is an important part of your writing career.

Indie publishers on e-book platforms like Kindle meet with many surmountable obstacles they may not have envisioned when they started writing a book. Finishing the first draft is exhilarating but is only the first step. Completing multiple rewrites and generating a polished manuscript is a great achievement, but then there’s more.

Formatting, developing front matter, acknowledgments, and a short author bio are all important for a professional finished product. Before launching a book to cyberspace, if you aren’t already on Facebook with an Author Page and have an author website designed, those are important actions to finalize. Once your labor of love is perfected, online with a perfect cover image and title that nail the story and is readable at 25% size, the real work begins – marketing.

Obtaining quality book reviews is part of good marketing that can begin before the book is published. Finding reviewers may sound easy, for those who already have a fan base built from readers of your previous books, it is. If you have “launched your book” with an organized campaign of advertising, writing guest blogs, press releases and giveaways, you may see an immediate boost in reviews for your efforts.

Reviews by loyal fans who know you because of your platform in writing, such as those who have read previous books, including family and friends, are valuable. But, Amazon will reject reviews by known family members and associates, or as some found out, by illicit paid reviewers.

Amazon has prosecuted individuals who earned a lot of money and the company ire for producing rigged reviews. To stop them from appearing on sales pages, Amazon developed an algorithm that removes some reviews. The algorithm crosschecks authors and reviewers from the same source/email. Montana Women Writers members in the same critique group were identified as unacceptable reviewers through the algorithm. After a review was posted appropriately, the author received a notice from Amazon stating it had been removed. It’s worth a try to review a friend’s book, but if you are an author-friend and it is recognized your author-friend also reviewed your book, it may be removed.

Recently, Marie Martin told me of a way to have reviews from associates appear on your Amazon Author Central site. An editorial review can be provided to the author whose book you want to review but are not allowed to do it directly on the Amazon purchase site. Send the author an email with the review and she can then type your words into a post on her Author Central page.

Marketing takes knowledge and time, but the time is worthwhile. Ask some of our group members who have crossed many barriers, learned the marketing process, and made more than enough to meet mortgage payments. One goal to get more traffic and more sales is to have more than one book for sale on your author sales page. So get started on another book!

Reviews are important, almost as important as your book cover. As an author, you must first catch the perusing reader’s eye, then snatch her attention long enough for her to take a look inside and read a couple reviews on your book. The goal for a review is to accurately describe the book and generate interest to trigger a purchase.

Writing a brief book review on Amazon may be daunting even for an author, because in just a few words you can generate a sale or lose one. Reviews are easiest to write when you have just finished reading the book. It is helpful to set the time period and location, noting how these drive the plot. Include the theme or message of the book. A brief summary of plot could be included but do not give away key details, called spoilers. Then, include your opinion, like, dislike. Would read other books by the author? Would you encourage others to read the book? Your words are important.

There are hundreds of indie book reviewers online, many are free, others are costly. Check out the link to Publishers Weekly for an overview of numerous options. REVIEW IDEAS

If you are now thinking you’d rather get an agent and have the publisher do all the marketing, you must embark on the journey of finding an agent. Unless you are already a star, traditional publishing with representation is daunting and the publisher seldom supports a marketing program with book tours. Once on contract, it takes about two years before a book is finalized and published.

After failed tries to find an agent, many authors are going straight to self-publishing online. There, the product is sound, readily available and for an e-book on Kindle, the royalty is 70% of the cover price, much higher than traditionally published books and it can be completed in less than a week.

Choosing a paperback or hardback self-publisher is often fraught with high expense and a garage full of unsold books. The print-on-demand platform on CreateSpace through Amazon is an efficient and free. For personal sales and signings, you can order a few at a time that can be shipped to you or drop-shipped to another address.

Today we have many options as writers. Authors of the Flathead is a group of dedicated writers helping writers where four Thursdays each month you can find camaraderie and assistance in your writing, publication and readership goals. If you are looking for a critique group, improved creative writing skills and coaching over some hurdles, check out the group at: authorsoftheflathead.org.

Montana Women Writers is a small group of women who formed a coalition to help each other with product completion and marketing. We meet monthly. Leslie Budewitz is presenting this week on Thursday from 1-3 p.m.: “Going Public – Getting the most out of conferences and other writer’s gatherings.” Coming in April: Jesse Owen will share an overview of Kickstarter and her favorite social media applications. In May: Catherine Browning: Grammar Primer

Thanks for stopping by.

Betty Kuffel

Amazon Author Page

 

THE END

Are You A Writer?

Writers are compelled to write. If you are one of those people, even when not sitting in a favorite nook with a keyboard or notebook, characters are wandering through your thoughts asking you to write their story. From conceptualizing a book to completing a first draft can be a long journey, usually years, but some hardy souls dive into writing a novel in just four weeks.

In November each year during NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, many writers take the challenge. If you look at https://nanowritmo.org, you’ll see how it works. The website is interactive and supportive, so if you need a boost to finally finish the first draft of that special book, this might work.

The concept is to write 50,000 words in thirty days. Not everyone can take a month off and just write. If your busy life demands attention, but you are driven to write anyway, you are a writer. You will finish your manuscript without the push of time and camaraderie found with NaNoWriMo. However, critique groups are extremely valuable and a necessary party of producing a professional manuscript.

People in my critique groups over years have said, if they are in the middle of a book and must take a break because life gets in the way, they miss their characters as if they are living, breathing people who are part of their lives. There are very few times writers don’t write. One key is to always be ready to record a note, no matter where you are. I found working twelve hours a day didn’t stop me. Our guru, Dennis Foley, has some of us carrying markers in our cars so if a thought comes at an awkward time, we can write a reminder on the side-window without running off the road.

Finishing a first draft is just the beginning. Multiple edits are required to make it publishable. A running outline of your story line, including twists and turns, is a start, but some writers use no format, they just write. Others develop extensive character descriptions and pages of scenes before ever beginning to write the book. I began writing years ago without an outline of any kind and completed two books that have since been rewritten many times and finally to completion after discovering two creative writing books.

  • Larry Brooks’ Story Engineering: Mastering The Six Core Competencies of Successful Writing,
  • Jack Bickham’s Scene & Structure

I have read many excellent books on writing with varied useful concepts, but using skills I learned from Brooks and Bickham pulled me into a different realm. In the past year, I have rewritten and extensively edited three novels. They are breathing life, and after professional copy editing, are finally ready for publication. I finished a fourth one yesterday and will submit it to my copy editor today.

Another tool I’ve found helpful over the past year is to use a text to speech product to review a final manuscript draft. This sounds tedious, but is valuable for identifying word repetitions, missing words, missing periods and sentences that need reconstruction. There are many options including Natural Reader, a free online product. (https://www.naturalreaders.com); Microsoft word following the menu for Review>A Read Aloud Speech; and Kindle, where you can easily save your entire manuscript and listen to it.

Writing The End provides mixed feelings. It is a huge achievement and a relief to finally have the whole story written. If you find you’ve reached the end, yet are not satisfied with the action, intrigue, rising tension or final scene, consider reading a few of Larry Brooks’ analyses and deconstruction of best sellers at (https://www.storyfix.com).

If you are looking for a critique group or help with writing, check out the active local writers group at https://authorsoftheflathead.org

Betty Kuffel