Writer Wednesday – Find your tribe

Writing-GroupOn my writing journey, I know I would not be where I am today without the tribe of writers around me.

Having a supportive partner and family is important too, and I’m fortunate to have that as well.

But when I write myself into a corner, cuz I’m a pantser and we do that, DH is of no help.   But I can call my friend Arden Richards, whose not yet published but is the best plotter I know.

I belong to a number of tribes –

The F-M Word Weavers – This is my local critique group.  Arden is a member as well.  Also in my group are published Authors Maddy Barone and Mary Jean Adams.  The wealth of knowledge in this group is wonderful, and my writing has greatly improved over the years thanks to these ladies.   I found this group on Meet-up and It helps that most of the group is made up of Romance Authors.

Romance Writers of America – I highly recommend this group if you are looking to establish a career in the Romance Writing Industry.   I’ve been a member since 2004 and belong to an online chapter.   I met my first critique partner Holli Winters through RWA.    If you want to learn more about this particular tribe I recommend, if you have Netflix, that you watch “Love Between the Covers”.  First time DH watched it with me he said, “Sounds like your writer friends.”  Yes, yes it does.

Of course there is also Mystery Writers of America, Horror Writers Association and Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers or America.  As I do not write in these genres, I’m unfamiliar with their membership. 

Romance Divas – I’ve recently joined Divas, but I have friends who have been members for years and rave about the mentorship and learning there.   It seems too that Divas is on the leading edge of trends within the Romance Industry.    Also they are FREE, so that is helpful for those watching their budget.

Marketing for Romance Writers – Despite the name, more than Romance Writers belong to this community.   If you follow my AuThursday interviews, many of the writers are from this group.  This group is also FREE. 

Writer Zen Garden – I’ve been with Writer Zen Garden for about five years, brought in by my friend and founding member, A. Catherine Noon.   Writer Zen Garden has authors of different genres.   They are wonderful for writers just starting out and maybe not so Romance focused.   To me the focus is very creative and  wonderful  cheerleading group. And Guess what – also FREE.

I continue to join groups as I see what they have to offer and if it is a good fit for me.   I highly recommend that if you aren’t a member of a tribe that you join one.   There is something about the writing journey that shouldn’t be done in a bubble.   I mean you can, but there are so many options to connect with people and learn, why wouldn’t you. 

The groups above have helped me through Writer’s Block, Rejection, Plotting, Marketing, Networking, and supporting me through my writing journey.   I can’t imagine writing without my tribes. 

~Tina

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Writer Wednesday-Beta Readers

Beta Readers are becoming more popular as authors go Indie and want a reader to look over their work rather than an editor.

As I’m looking at a more traditional publishing model via an agent, I’ve considered looking at Beta Readers as well.

When I digitally published, this wasn’t as much of a concern as there was enough editing done in-house, I worried less about content as there were so many eyes looking at it, and I had really good editors. 🙂

I’ve asked my fellow authors who use beta readers how they go about finding them.   There seem to be a number of ways to do this:

  1.  Post to FB, Twitter, etc and ask for Beta Readers to read your latest book.  I think there are Beta Reader Groups out there.   I plan to post to a Local Steampunk group as I think they might be interested in reading my story. 
  2. Readers you meet randomly – I actually found a reader at a Con last year, and I think she will work out well.  I’d like more beta readers, but one will do for now.
  3. Friends and Family – I’ve heard reason’s not to use friends and family, but my argument would be that you are looking for continuity in your story.  That being said, make sure you pick a friend who is an avid reader.   Also,  if you write Mystery and your sister is a hard-core YA reader, you may want to take that into consideration when reviewing her feedback.  She can likely still provide great character insight, but may not enjoy the read as much as she might a YA read. 

I’ve heard Indie authors who use Beta Readers prior to Editing and some use them after.   Obviously I will use them before hiring an editor.  I’m looking for Beta readers to review for content, character likeability, plot holes to some extent and the like.   I’m looking for an overall critique, not editing.  I believe that should be done by the publisher, as I’ve experienced in the past.  Honestly, if an agent tells me to hire an editor – I will likely skip the agent process all together. 🙂 

Until next Writer Wednesday, be naughty. ~Tina 

P.S. If you are interested in being a Beta Reader for a Steampunk novel, go ahead and comment below. 🙂

AuThursday – Helen Henderson

henderson-headshot-portraitTell us a little about yourself and your background?

Thank you, Tina, for letting me stop by. To my readers of fantasy and romance, I’m Helen Henderson. To those of my historical westerns, they know me by the name of my ancestress, Jessie Treon. My Gemini sign matches my heritage and shows in my writing in multiple genres which are perfect for a tour guide to the stars, the Old West, and worlds of imagination.

What are you working on at the minute?

A companion book to the Dragshi Chronicles is readying for flight. First Change consists of a collection of short stories and novellas from history and legend of the dragshi–humans with a twinned dragon soul. Another tale of the Archmage, Lord Dal, and the sea captain, Lady Ellspeth, is drifting just offshore, awaiting the scribe to capture it. Besides working on the novels, I’ve decided to try something new in 2017. I will be participating in my first writing challenge, a post a week on a specified topic in 52 weeks.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just to see where an idea takes you?

Shorter works such as novellas are usually free written. I do like structure for full-length novels, but I don’t hold to the hard rule of outlining the entire work before starting to write. When I write, I storyboard or write the draft of a scene or chapter depending on how much the muse is visiting. A scene in the storyboard might have a line describing the setting, an annotation of whose point of view I expect it to be in, and maybe three to five bullet points. Or, if the muse is visiting that block in the storyboard will be completely fleshed out with dialog, transitional phrases and be a true first draft. As I get deeper and deeper into the story and the characters take over, there are less stubbed scenes and more completed ones. Usually by the time I get to the end of the storyboard I have a complete first draft ready for editing and peer review.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

That really is an unfair question. A number of items impact the time to complete a story. A book written in the early days of my career took longer than the most recent one. Generally, a full-length novel takes a year from initial draft to the publication-formatted manuscript. A novella can be completed in a month if the fates allow. As a caregiver sometimes emergencies and life gets in the way of writing which can impact the time to write. Although I have written while sitting in doctors offices, emergency rooms, and at 2 in the morning.

Do you ever get writer’s Block? Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?

My response in the past to a question regarding writer’s block was that I usually don’t get it. I have too many projects going on. However, never say never. Two novels, both set in the world of Windmaster, refuse to cooperate. There was too great an age difference between the male and female lead characters. That problem was solved by changing the point-of-view to different characters. However, the storyline had one of the “now-secondary” characters go on a journeyman walk and after a battle stay in a foreign land. To keep the series integrity, the original intent that it would be the tale of the next generation, the girl going walkabout would be no older than seventeen. Again the age felt inappropriate for the storyline. That is being re-evaluated.

henderson-windmasterlegacy-200x300The second novel in the Windmaster series awaiting a scribe faced the problem of expanding a paragraph-long legend to a full-length novel. The first two chapters came easily, then life interfered and a break occurred.

As to how to overcome the writer’s block, for the one book, time will be set aside to re-read the first two novels in the series and re-immerse myself in that world. A visit with the original characters will, hopefully, get the next generation talking to me.

I see you’ve written a series called THE DRAGSHI CHRONICLES.  Can you tell us a bit more about your series, and what draws you to writing it?

The Dragshi Chronicles are action-filled, romance-laden fantasies about a group of men and women who are more than just what you see, but are two beings—one human, the other a dragon. The pair share one body in space and time and are able to change forms with the other at will. But be warned, a dragon form comes with more than just the freedom of the sky.

Each book is a stand-alone tale. The first book is Dragon Destiny. For hundreds of years, Dragshi Lord Branin and his dragon soul twin Llewlyn searched for their intended mates. Lady Broch of Ky’Port, the firebrand leader of a band of raiders, vowed to marry the dragon lord, with or without his willing cooperation. Everything changed the day a wistful thought touched Branin’s.

Hatchlings Curse continues the story of Lord Branin and the trader girl Anastasia. Branin means to break the hatchling’s curse and end the childlessness of the dragshi. To save his kind he has to win the mating flight. And the cost? All he treasures. Throwing the competition is not an option.

The series continues with Hatchling’s Mate. Talann’s dilemma. No dragons sang a welcome at his birth, so how is he to save all dragon shifters. Or, save himself from the mind control wielded by the leader called – the Parant.

Hatchling’s Vengeance completed the series. Lady Glynnes Janaleigh had found her mate, but finding him is only half the battle. Keeping him alive is the other when duty has other demands and Fate holds all the cards. On one card is written: “Vengeance has two paths—death or love. And a long memory.”

As to what drew me to the world of the dragshi? My heritage is the child of a coal miner’s daughter and an aviation flight engineer. My world was grounded in the rural life and the skies. I grew up on a farm watching hawks soar overhead. The hawks became dragons and my desire to fly became real.

henderson-windmaster-200x300You have so many lovely book covers, can you tell us if you have a favorite and why?

While I love all the covers (even the ones I created), my favorite cover is Windmaster by Michelle Lee. The alluring model and ship hints at fantasy, magic, pirates and romance. Oh, wait a minute. Windmaster is all those things.

 

What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?

At this point in my career, I am now what is called a hybrid author–someone with one foot in the indie world and the other in the more traditional publishing arena. When I first embarked on publishing my own works, I was fortunate enough to have the contacts to overcome a disadvantage many independent authors encounter–the building of your own stable of technical experts from cover designer to copy editor to proofreader. An even bigger disadvantage is the social isolation. When you’re with a publisher, the authors support each other. You benefit from their social media reach and they yours. Fortunately, if you look for them, groups of independent authors have formed that provide a similar function.

Publishers, especially small press, can be a security blanket, a launching pad, or the perfect place for an author to call home. They have extended reach, resources, and enable authors, who don’t want to run their own company, to learn, grow, and become “published authors.”

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

WEBSITE: helenhenderson-author.webs.com/

BLOG: helenhenderson-author.blogspot.com

AMAZON: http://amzn.com/e/B001HPM2XK

GOODREADS: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/777491.Helen_Henderson

FACEBOOK – https://www.facebook.com/HelenHenderson.author

GOOGLE + –http://ow.ly/JEZug

Teaching at Writer Zen Garden

wzgI’m teaching my FEARS workshop this weekend at Writer Zen Garden if anyone is interested. Classes are free to members. Membership is free.

http://writerzengarden.com/forums/

Feel free to share with any writer friends.

AuThursday -A. Catherine Noon

Please welcome my fellow Writer Zen Gardener,  A. Catherine Noon.  Tell us Ms. Noon, what books have most influenced your life most?

That’s an interesting question.  It depends on the period in my life, really.  The first book I remember reading was about a cat who lived at a firehouse.  I fell in love with that cat and with books.  I had trouble figuring out how to find good books for myself at the library, until I stumbled on Phyllis A. Whitney.  I devoured everything she wrote for young adults.  After that, it was on to fantasy with Tolkien, Terry Brooks, David Eddings, and Lloyd Alexander.  I found Anne McCaffrey and Steven Brust and from there I was hooked.  It wasn’t until I read Piers Anthony, and the “Author’s Notes” he included in the Incarnations of Immortality series, that I started to really want to be an author.  I’ve always been a writer; but Anthony made it clear that I could be a “real” author.

Q: How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?

I don’t use formulae, because I like change.  What interests me is consequences: what happened?  Why did it happen?  Who did it affect?  I typically start with an image, of a person or a place or a feeling, and build from there.

Q: What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?

Quiet time, a keyboard and word processing software, and paper with an assortment of pens and pencils.

Q:  What do you think is the biggest misconception in erotic romance fiction, and the m/m sub-genre?

I loathe the term “mommy porn.”  It’s insulting and degrading, and belittles women’s fiction.  The other misconception is that, “Oh, romance is all formulaic.”  People that say that haven’t read in the genre, period.  The days of the formula story are long over.  Readers are sophisticated and even in the Harlequin “lines,” the quintessential “formula” books, the stories have to be engaging and nuanced.

Q: Are you working on any books/projects that you would like to share with us? (We’ d love to hear all about them!)

I’m working on the next Chicagoland Shifters book, which features TJ Butler.  What’s exciting to me about this project is that I decided to take the gloves off.  TJ’s father is a Texas Baptist minister who tried to “cure” TJ of being gay by using electroshock therapy.  TJ ran away and joined the Marines.  When he went overseas in the second Gulf War, he was attacked by a Siberian tiger shifter and left for dead.  All the men he’d led were killed by their attacker, except for TJ.  He’s a bundle of PTSD.

So many stories that have PTSD characters seem to gloss over the fact that it’s a life-changing disorder.  One doesn’t get over it, one simply learns to cope with it.  Some days are better than others.  There is no magic band-aid or drug that will “cure” it, any more than there is one for homosexuality.  But how do you make that character sexy and compelling?  It’s not my intention to write a dark story, just a dark character.  It’s a challenge.

Q:  You’ve finally delved into the world of self-publishing, tell us a bit about that?

We decided to self-publish our popular Chicagoland Shifters series because it gave us the creative freedom to explore the characters in our own way, to tell the story that we see.  There are real consequences for any actions, and we wanted to tell that story in a real way that we hope readers will connect with.

It’s hard to self-publish, because you’re launching your own product.  You’re in charge of all the pieces of the puzzle, not just the writing.  I see first-time authors doing it and wouldn’t suggest that for anyone right now, because you need to have a following in order to be successful with it.  There’s so much dilution in the market that it’s hard for new authors to get themselves heard.

Q:  Who designed the cover for “Cat’s Cradle”?

That would be Dayna Hart, who also designed my website and the Noon and Wilder site.  She’s amazing.

Q:  Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

The Chicagoland Shifters:

Book 1 BURNING BRIGHT

Book 2 TIGER TIGER

Book 3, CAT’S CRADLE

 

The Persis Chronicles:

Book 1 EMERALD FIRE

Book 2, EMERALD KEEP

 

The Emerald City Shifters:

Book 1 SEALED BY FIRE

Book 2 SEALED BY MAGIC

 

Other Fun Stuff:

Check out COOK LIKE A WRITER

My links: Blog | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon | LinkedIn | Pandora

Knoontime Knitting:  Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Ravelry
Noon and Wilder links: Blog | Taurus and Taurus (NSFW) | Website | Facebook | Twitter

The Writer Zen Garden:  The Writers Retreat Blog | Forum | Twitter | Meetup

National Novel Writing Month: NaNoWriMo | ChiWriMo | Blog | Facebook | Twitter

NGW Group:  Nice Girls Writing Naughty | NGW FB | NGW Twitter

Join me on Saturday, when we read an excerpt from on of A. Catherine Noon & Rachel Wilder’s books. ~Tina

 

AuThursday – Jan Scarborough

JanHorsePlease welcome my fellow Resplendence author Jan Scarborough.  Jan with so many books published, How do you make time to write?

It’s hard. I have a day job, so finding time to write is not easy. My New Year’s Resolution is to do a better job in 2016 in carving out that time.

Q: Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

My biggest problem is coming up with “things” to happen to my characters. Sometimes I get ideas from things that happen to me. Other times, I just make them up. The point is to make the hero and heroine suffer. I don’t feel as if I’m ruthless enough.

Q: How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?

Writing romance, I know I will have a happily-ever-after ending. Getting there is fun. Over the years, I have taken classes or attended presentations, and I’ve pulled together ideas from many other authors. I have created a form that I fill out with important things about the hero and heroine like goal, motivation, and conflict. I come up with a back story for both. Once that happens, you put the characters on stage and find out what happens to them.

Q: Why did you decide to write western romance?

My first contemporary Western was Kentucky Cowboy. I write about Kentucky, but I also wanted to use a cowboy character. That’s when I discovered the Professional Bull Riders. I’ve attended PBR events, watched specials on television, and read books about PBR stars. It’s not out of the question for a bull rider to come from the South. They all don’t come from the West. In fact, many famous riders come from Brazil or Australia. Well, once I’d come up with my cowboy, it was easy to create a story about his return to Kentucky so that it fit into my Bluegrass Reunion series.

I also have a Montana Ranchers series that I wrote with author Maddie James. It was her idea, and I’m flattered she asked me to join in. We both wrote the free Montana McKenna’s Prequel. Then I wrote two books: Brody and Mercer. Maddie wrote Callie and Parker. These are the children of James McKenna. Currently, I’m writing the story of James’ widow Liz.

And what fun! This summer my husband and I are vacationing in Montana at a dude ranch. I’m sure I’ll get more story ideas!

Q:  It looks like you’ve dipped your toe into the self-publishing waters. What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?

When you self-publish a book, you’re your own boss. You are responsible for doing everything to get that book in front of the public. You don’t just write. You must pay for editing and copyediting. You must pay for a professional-looking cover. If you can’t do it yourself, you must hire someone to format your book. All authors must market their books. It doesn’t matter if you are traditionally published or self-published.

Q: Why did you choose this route?

Frankly, I was tired of rejection letters. I spent many years chasing the dream of getting “the call” from a traditional publisher. Then Resplendence came along and thankfully published my books. Another small press also published my books, but it went out of business in October. I received the rights back for several novels. I am lucky my husband knows computers and is willing to format my books for me.

Q:  If you weren’t writing, what would you be doing?

You mean, besides the day job? LOL! I’d be taking horseback riding lessons. Every week I take a lesson on an American Saddlebred horse. It’s my way of getting a “horse fix” without owning one. Or I might be taking a Zumba class.

Q:  Can we get an idea of what you’ve got coming up for readers?

I’m writing Liz, book six of the Montana Ranchers series. After that, I’ll be working on a small contemporary series set in the Kentucky Bluegrass. Then I’ll plunge into the revision of my medieval romance My Lord Raven.

Q: Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Website: http://www.janscarbrough.com/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/janscarbrough

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/Jan_Scarbrough

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jan-Scarbrough-Reader-Page/204815941631

Follow me on Twitter @romancerider

 

Join me on Saturday to read a sexy excerpt from Jan’s latest book Mercer. ~Tina