Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Five Steps to Writing a Romance Novella #OurAuthorGang


Five Steps to Writing a Romance Novella in Two Weeks
by
N.N. Light

Can you write a romance novella (20,000 words) in two weeks? You bet! Here are my five steps to writing a romance novella in only two weeks:

1- Create a writing plan
Before becoming a published author, I was very disorganized. Being the creative-type, I just went with the flow and wrote when I felt like writing. This doesn't work when you have a goal of writing 20,000 words in ten days. So, I enlisted the help of my husband (totally organized) and together we created a writing schedule. Since I don't write on the weekends, I only had ten days to work with. Each day, I had to write a minimum of 2,000 words.

Confession: There were some days when I only got 1,500 words done. The next day, I made up the missing words by writing 2,500 words. I didn't stress when I came up short on a day. Stress breeds writer's block and no one wants that.

2- Block out time and turn off all distractions
I know this is hard to do nowadays but it helped me immensely. I wrote from 1:00 - 5:00 pm every day. I made sure the phone was turned off and that I had all of my other to-do's done before lunchtime. I shut down social media and email so I wasn't distracted. I made sure I had my water bottle nearby and had music on to get me in the mood. I even put on a hat that I called my "writing" hat to get me ready to write. When I had on my hat, I was in writer-mode.

3- Keep a notebook of notes you can jot down character names, story-arcs and ideas
I found this crucial when I was writing. I was able to flip through my notes and keep writing. My notes allowed the ideas to flow out of me quicker onto the page while staying focused on the plot.

4- Have a few accountability partners
This is one of the most important steps. Time is limited and you have a goal to reach. You need your own cheering section. Halfway-through, I started to lose momentum. My brain was tired and I started to doubt my ability to reach my goal of 20,000 words. I reached out to my three accountability partners and they boosted my spirits. My husband is amazing and so supportive. Every night, he asked me about what I wrote and how I did. He listened as I brainstormed and offered feedback.

5- Celebrate when you achieve your goal
Before I started writing my romance novella, I told myself when I finished I was going to celebrate. If I was going to work my fingers (and muse) to the bone, the least I could do is get something in return. My husband decided to cook me a gourmet meal with my favorites (lobster, steak, garlic mashed potatoes and creamed corn) when I finished. The image of that meal kept me going, even through the rough patches.

It took me two weeks (intense writing boot camp) but I did it! I wrote a romance novella in that stretch of time and it's one I'm extremely proud of. In fact, that same novella is featured below.



Title: Planting the Seeds of Love: A Novella

Author: N. N. Light

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Blurb:
Torn between two men, Sally must follow her heart and decide if love will lead her to the city or the countryside.
Twenty-Two-year-old Sally Rayton returns to the family farm she deserted four years ago to bury her grandfather. Her plan: to settle her grandfather's estate and return to her life in the city with her boyfriend, Trevor Mattson.
Her childhood friend, Jack Smith, has other ideas.
Jack convinces Sally to transform the farm into a brewery and fulfill her grandfather's dream while keeping the Rayton Farm in the family. Sally works side-by-side with Jack while Trevor is hundreds of miles away in the city. The more time she spends with Jack, the stronger her feelings are for him.
When Trevor shows up to propose to Sally right before Christmas and finds her in Jack's embrace, she must make the biggest choice of her life: true love.

Excerpt:
"Jack, thank you so much for the lift into town," a woman replied behind Sally. "Let's grab some lunch before we shop."

Sally froze. She stared at Linda who shook her head. What was Jack doing with a woman in town?

"Here, let me take your coat, Emma," Jack said.

Emma? mouthed Sally to Linda.

"She's the daughter of Lonnie and Mary Beth." Linda gave Emma the look-over and scoffed, "She can't be a day over sixteen."

"What do I do?" Sally panicked. Normally she didn't care what Jack did or who he went off with. Curiosity got the better of her and she turned around.

Emma stood five foot three with curly blonde hair and innocent green eyes. Her figure was slim with curves in all the right places. Sally narrowed her eyes as Emma stood on tiptoe to kiss Jack on the cheek.

Fuming, Sally turned around. Linda chuckled.

"What?"

"You better tone down your jealousy, darlin'. You're shooting darts everywhere."

Sally gritted her teeth.

"I'm not jealous. If Jack wants school girls kissing him, what do I care?" She took a deep drink of her coffee, draining the cup. She slammed it down.

"Simmer down, here they come," whispered Linda. She waved to Jack while Sally swore under her breath.

"Well, fancy meeting you two here," Jack drawled.

Without looking up Sally retorted, "I told you I was coming into town today."

Linda kicked Sally's leg under the table. Sally plastered a smile across her face, greeting Jack and Emma.

"Yes, what a coincidence." Sally noticed Emma looping her arm in Jack's and snuggling closer.

"I was on my way into town to pick up those parts we ordered for the tractor when I ran into Emma walking by herself in the snow." Jack smiled. Emma squeezed his arm.

"He pulled over and offered me a lift into town. Isn't he a gentleman?" cooed Emma. Jack patted her hand.

Sally's chest constricted at the sight of the two of them acting all couple-y. She stared into his twinkling eyes. Oh God, is he laughing at me? Emma can't have him. He's mine. Wait what?

"So," Linda broke the strained silence. "I have to go powder my nose. Emma, would you care to join me?"

"What's that?" Emma looked confused.

Linda laughed. "It's the bathroom, dear sweet child." She stood up, untangled Emma from Jack and guided Emma away from the table.

Jack sat down.

"What's with you today?" he asked.

"Nothing." Sally cleared her throat.

He raised an eyebrow.

"Really!" A few diners turned to stare. Sally flushed with embarrassment. She didn't mean to talk so loud. She looked everywhere except in Jack's direction.

Jack observed Sally as she fidgeted, first with her coffee cup then with the silverware. His gaze unnerved her and she practically jumped out of her chair when he placed a hand over hers. Electricity flew up her arm while warmth filled her core. Butterflies raced around her stomach, only she didn't feel sick; she pulsed with life, like never before.

"Sally...look at me."

Sally shook her head.

"You'll only laugh at me."

Jack's thumb caressed her hand gently, causing her breath to hitch.

"You know I'd never laugh at you. Laugh with you, definitely, but never at you."

Sally lifted her gaze to meet Jack's loving eyes. He slid his fingers between hers, never breaking eye contact. Sparks flew between them. He moistened his lips with a flick of his tongue. Her gaze dropped to his lips.

"Please tell me. I'm begging you," he whispered.

Unable to think clearly through the fog of desire, Sally tilted her head to one side. Her skin vibrated with heat while her nerve-endings jumped at the slightest caress.

"Tell you what?" she whispered. Her throat dry, her breathing shallow, she wet her lips with her tongue. She was under a spell and everything fell away except for Jack's passionate eyes.

"Tell me what my wasted heart needs to hear." His eyes flashed. "Tell me Emma made you jealous."

Sally started to nod but Emma interrupted.

"What are you guys talking about in hushed tones? Crops and stuff?"

Jack groaned. He dropped Sally's hand as if it burned him, causing the water glasses to jostle.

Reviews:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26134330-planting-the-seeds-of-love

Buy Links:
FREE on Kindle Unlimited!

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01581XM50

Amazon CA: http://www.amazon.ca/dp/B01581XM50

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01581XM50

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26134330-planting-the-seeds-of-love

Monday, August 28, 2017

Pets and Daily Life @OurAuthorGang

by Author Grace Augustine

August 6, 2014, a friend and I had plans for lunch. She came by my place and, as we made our way to her vehicle, we heard a relentless meow coming from under my mobile home. My friend assured me if it was still there when we returned, we were investigating.

Well, the meow was still there...faint, raspy, but still there. 

My friend unlatched the skirting of my mobile home and got down on her knees with a flashlight. What she found was this tiny kitten in awful shape--dehydrated, hungry, infested with ear mites, and infection in both eyes.

The only thing I had in the house to feed it was deli turkey lunchmeat. I finely chopped it up and took it outside to give to the kitten, who, by this time, was nuzzling up to my friend's neck.

She set the kitten down and it chowed down the food. When it was picked up, it began purring and nestled right up against my friend's neck again. There was no way I could allow this little thing to be outside all night. 

We brought her inside, put a towel in the bottom of a laundry basket and duct taped the handles of another basket on top. The kitten was silent. I was worried it may not make it through the night.

The afternoon we found the kitten

First thing the next morning, my son and I took it to the vet. She weighed 1.3 lbs. She'd also won my heart! We weren't going to keep her, but the more she was in our home, the more she felt a part of our home.

Two Weeks after finding Miss Bou

I'm happy to say, Ms. Babou weighs in at a little under 11 lbs, is a happy 3 yr old who rules this domain...and her people. She also has been known to do newsletter and blog takeovers on my website!

Ms. Bou's author photo

In Ethereal Authority, Book 2 of The Diva to the Guides Trilogy, you meet Simon. Simon is no ordinary feline. Simon has special powers and puts them to work saving his owner. Here is an excerpt:  http://a.co/iybrGaD


       "Charisse tried to shift her body. A sharp object under her left hip prevented her from moving.
        “Don’t panic, Miss.”
        Charisse felt a warm blanket of comfort wash over her at that point. She knew Simon understood where she was and what was going on.  Not only had she had to deal with these gifts she didn’t understand, she’d been adopted by a cat who seemed to now own her. Simon The Cat had special abilities, too.

        In a world that seemed so simple, nothing was: the gifts Charisse didn’t understand, the jobs she held that used those gifts, Simon The Cat, who was now her familiar and best friend. All of this she had to figure out by herself. If only her mom could be here to teach her how to develop and use these gifts."

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Practical Steps Before You Start to Write

Many authors plot and plan their books, build character profiles, draw maps, and yet they don't consider the actual formatting of the document.

I was a book designer for 10 years back in the day, when we were still transitioning from layouts on paper to designing on the computer screen. (Oh, the joy of no more cuts on every fingertip!) Computers made my job easier, but when the author insisted on following his/her own rules, it made more work for me. While back then I worked in QuarkXPress, today I just use Word and Publisher to produce books.

While there's nothing inherently wrong with just sitting down and writing your story, you can make your formatter's or designer's job easier by setting up a paragraph format before you begin. I say formatter, but the person who's fixing up the document could also be the book designer. I'm just going to say formatter.

There's a few simple rules to follow even if you don't set up a paragraph format in advance.

First, one space after periods. Two spaces leave a large, visually jarring empty chunk of page before the next sentence starts. Your formatter is going to take out that extra space anyway, so why waste time by putting it in?

Second, no tabs. Do not use a tab to indent your paragraphs. Again, your formatter will take them all out, probably swearing under his/her breath.

Third, no five space indents for paragraphs. Again, the formatter will take them out and will charge you extra for the time it takes.

Fourth, do not use "justified" text. Just let it flow as a ragged right. If you justify the text (make it stretch from margin to margin), and then publish the book as an ebook, the words will s-t-r-e-t-c-h to fit the space. Instead, let the words just flow onto the page.

Fifth, do not insert page numbers, footers or headers. They don't play well with ebook formatting.

Last, but not least, unless you're deliberately using a block paragraph format, do not put a space between paragraphs. That's just one more thing for your formatter to fix.

To set up a paragraph format in Word, simply open your paragraph dialogue box. Set the Alignment at "Left" and the Outline level at "Body Text." Leave the Indentation at "0." Under Special, set the First line at "0.5." Spacing is also set at "0" and line spacing at "Single." You can increase the line spacing slightly if the page feels crowded, for example, if the text size is 12, you might set the Line spacing at "Exactly" and "14." In general, "Single" will suffice. The screen shot below shows the settings.



There may be times that you want to use a block format. You can see the settings on the screen shot below.



By setting up your paragraph format from the beginning of your document, your paragraphs will automatically indent when you hit "Enter." In addition, once you've set up the basic paragraph format, type a few lines. Then look at the top of the page for Styles. Right click on "Normal" and click on "Update Normal to Match Selection." Now if your document gets off track, just highlight the section/paragraph and click on Normal. That will restore your paragraph formatting.

Hopefully, these simple formatting instructions will help you, especially if you are going to self-publish your ebook. I highly recommend using the Smashwords Style Guide (FREE!) to format your book. https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/52.

Once you've done the initial formatting, just do a "save as" and save your book as [working title] – smashwords, or [working title] – kindle, etc, then make the small changes needed for each edition. That would usually be the front matter and Table of Contents.

As for me, I studied fine and commercial art in the days before they started calling it Visual Communications. Today, I'm a working writer and occasionally design a book cover, fliers, directories and other items. I write articles for online publications and have four books published under my own name and one under a pen name. My latest book is 50 Fabulous Tomatoes for Your Garden. https://www.amazon.com/50-Fabulous-Tomatoes-Your-Garden-ebook/dp/B01CRYKR86/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1502896494&sr=1-1&keywords=50+fabulous+tomatoes+for+your+garden 

I'm working on my fifth novel, which will be the first one I actually finish, LOL! You can get a sneak peek at what I'm working on at www.ruthdj.weebly.com.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

My Book Promo Tricks #1 with #OurAuthorGang

What I learned from trying different book promo methods
by



When authors are promoting books and trying to find readers, shouting about the book and pushing it seems as futile as trying to convince a stubborn teenager to do something. The more you push, the more people will ignore you.
The first step of promo for authors is to find the best ways to get readers' attention and then show them why they should read the book.
There is a fine line between being pushy and a successful book promotion.

Let me tell you about a few tricks I learned that makes promotion easier and more successful.

Posting links on social sites, websites, and blogs

Amazon links
Most authors post their Amazon links when promoting their books, but they're not always doing it the right way. When sharing your Amazon sales page link, always use the short version of your book link.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00XM68LRS

But, never use this long link that you get by typing your book title in search: https://www.amazon.com/Ancestors-Secrets-2-Book/dp/B00XM68LRS/ref=sr_1_5?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1503525871&sr=1-5&keywords=the+ancestors%27+secrets+series.

I'm not sure why, but book reviews, when readers linked in from the long version to post their review, are more likely to have their reviews deleted.

You can link directly to your book’s "Look Inside" free preview pages. Readers more likely will read the free pages if you post the direct link than sending the potential readers to your sales page, hoping they will click “Look inside.”

This is how you can get the link:
Click on your short book link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00LNBSKIY

On the right next to the social site share buttons click "Embed"
Copy the URL link: https://read.amazon.com/kp/embed?asin=B00LNBSKIY&preview=newtab&linkCode=kpe&ref_=cm_sw_r_kb_dp_VYFNzbS8SWR04

But don't post this long link.
Shorten the link and post like this: https://read.amazon.com/kp/embed?asin=B00LNBSKIY&preview

Readers like to read a few pages before they buy the books

I found my flip-book style Author Magazine and book preview magazines very useful. I post the short link, usually with pictures I made for promo posts. Readers can read the preview pages and chapters, click on buying links, listen to audio book samples or watch videos.





If you'd like your own author magazine and need help making it, click on this link:




Have a great week and Happy Reading!

Next time I'll tell you other tricks that I learned about book promotion.

Erika M Szabo shared this via Google+

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Erika M Szabo via Google+

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Book promo tips
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Erika M Szabo via Google+

1 year ago  -  Shared publicly
 
My Book Promo Tricks #1 with #OurAuthorGang
What I learned from trying different book promo methods by Erika M Szabo Promoting books is like trying to convince a stubborn teenager to do something.  The first step for authors is to find the best ways to get readers' attention and then show them why th...
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Cindy Tomamichel via Google+

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Some great book promotion tips.
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I'm glad you found it useful Cindy :)

Mary Anne Yarde

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Some great tips here, Erika!
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Thanks :)

Mackenzie Flohr

1 year ago  -  Shared publicly
 
Great article. The reason you want to use short codes is because the long code actually has a direct reference to your author account on Amazon, so Amazon looks at anyone who clicks on the long link as you have a relationship with them, therefore it is biased or you paid into it.

Here's a very informative article about this very topic located here: https://indieadventurz.com/2017/08/20/one-simple-mistake-that-hurts-new-and-established-authors/
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Actually, as far as I know, the long link contains codes that leads to your IP address that you use in search and sign into your social site accounts with. Then when you post the long link on your profile and people write reviews by using the link who are on your friend list or follow you, their review will be considered suspicious and maybe biased and might be removed.

Joe Bonadonna

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Nice, Erika! I've learned a lot from you -- which is why I'm here -- and I know I'll learn more.
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We all learn if we all share our experiences :)
 
That's exactly what it's all about. No one is an island, and if they think they are, we'll . . . we all know what happened to Atlantis. ;)

Angelina Kalahari

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Fantastic post. Thank you so much, Erika. I learned things I never knew!
 
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Awesome advice! Thanks for sharing. "-)
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I'm glad you found it useful and thank you for sharing it Catherine :)

Rick Haynes

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A great insight into the world of a professional author. Thanks Erika, I've learnt a great deal from today's lesson.
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Ruth de Jauregui

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Wow, that's great! I didn't know how to shorten the links like that. And great idea, to take them straight to the preview! I'm much more likely to read something if it pops right up. Thank you!!
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That's what I figured Ruth because I don't like to click on 2-3 links to see what I want, so the direct link works very well.

Grace Au

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Wonderful wisdom, Erika!
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Thanks Grace, just sharing what I learn :)

Rich Feitelberg

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Great info here. Will put most of it to use I'm sure.
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Glad you find it useful Rich :)

GREG JOLLEY

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Thank you, this is a great insight into the business side all successful authors can engage in.
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Writing a book is a whole lot easier than promoting it Greg ;)

Bette Stevens via Google+

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Erika M Szabo originally shared this
 
My Book Promo Tricks #1 with #OurAuthorGang
What I learned from trying different book promo methods by Erika M Szabo Promoting books is like trying to convince a stubborn teenager to do something.  The first step for authors is to find the best ways to get readers' attention and then show them why th...
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Thanks for sharing my post Bette :)

Sojourner McConnell

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The reason the reviews might be deleted is because your personal referral is on that extended link. It tells Amazon you are the author or a friend. They do not appreciate author reviews or friend reviews on your books. It is a great tip. I too passed that along last week after a lot of research on the deleted reviews. Love this post. It is a keeper!
 
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Joe Bonadonna via Google+

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Today on A Small Gang of Authors, Erika M Szabo shares with us some of her cool tips on marketing and promoting our books.
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Mackenzie Flohr shared this via Google+

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Joe Bonadonna via Google+

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Today on A Small Gang of Authors, Erika M Szabo shares with us some of her cool tips on marketing and promoting our books.
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Ruth de Jauregui shared this via Google+

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