Prizes for Preordering A TOUCH OF GOLD!

Prizes for preordering! Ways to get signed/personalized copies! Giveaways! And more!

A TOUCH OF GOLD, a young adult fantasy novel about the cursed daughter of King Midas who faces pirates, betrayers, and thieves on her quest to retrieve her father’s stolen gold, releases in just over a month! Have you preordered your copy yet?

Preorder at any of these sites or at your favorite independent bookstore!

 

Why should you preorder?

Preordering helps my publisher know that you’re excited about the book and helps convince them to buy more books from me. Also, preorders all get counted during the book’s first week on sale, meaning authors have a better chance of making things like The New York Times bestseller list if they get a lot of presales.

The two single most important things you can do to help an author are to preorder the book and to spread the word on Facebook and social media sites.

 

Want to preorder a SIGNED copy of A Touch of Gold?

Are you interested in getting a signed/personalized copy of A Touch of Gold but can’t make it to my launch party? I’ve partnered with Kids Ink bookstore so you can get signed copies of my book. All you have to do is call them at 317-255-2598 to place your order, and they’ll ship it to you!

 

Prizes for preordering A Touch of Gold

In the coming days, I’m going to be publicizing my preorder incentive—that means anyone who preorders will get some really cool prizes when they send in their proof of purchase. Make sure you’re following me on the below social media sites to find out how to claim these amazing prizes! These prizes will only be for people who preorder, so don’t wait!

 

Near Indianapolis?

If you want to come to book event of the year (in my opinion), then come to Barnes & Noble River Crossing on August 17th at 7pm for my book launch party. There will be prizes, fun activities, and a book themed cake that you won’t want to miss!

Details here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/touch-of-gold-release-party-tickets-46200875061?ref=enivtefor001&invite=MTQ0Mjk3NjkvYW5uaWVzdWxsaXZhbjE2NjFAZ21haWwuY29tLzA%3D&utm_source=eb_email&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=inviteformalv2&utm_term=attend

 

Touch of Gold Final Cover Image

 

YA Book A TOUCH OF GOLD is available for preorder!!!

I can’t believe this day is here, but my YA debut novel about the daughter of King Midas is available for preorder.

You can find it at:

Amazon link:
Barnes & Noble link:

Why should you preorder A Touch of Gold

1.) Publishers often make decisions about an author getting a second book deal based on preorder numbers.

2.) The more preorders, the more copies of the book they’ll typically print, which means they’ll then usually increase marketing budgets to sell all those books.

3.) All preorder sales hit on the same day, meaning an author could potentially make lists like the New York Times bestseller list because all those sales count for the same week.

4.) You’ll usually get a cheaper price. Preorders are usually discounted the earlier you order.

5.) You’ll make an author’s day! I can’t tell you how happy I was when a friend told me she’d preordered 10 copies of my book!

 

Also, feel free to add the book on Goodreads!

I will keep you all updated on book signings and appearances. Thank you all for your support. I couldn’t have done all this without you!

7 Tips to Get the Most Out of Any Writing Conference

I attended my first writing conference (the Midwest Writers Workshop) back in 2013, and I went in with one goal: to get a literary agent. Every decision I made was calculated on how best to accomplish that goal. Did I leave that conference with a literary agent? No. But I did leave with the knowledge and connections that helped me land one within the next four months. So here are my secrets to how you can get the most out of a writing conference.

1.) Treat it like a job

If you want to actually make money writing, then you have to treat it like a business. Invest in business cards. Start author pages on Facebook and/or create a blog or Twitter account. Make sure people can find/contact you after they leave the conference.

2.) Define your brand

Since you need to treat writing like a job, you need to figure out what your brand is and make sure you’re consistent. This means, if you’re writing picture books and an agent goes to your Twitter and sees nothing but tweets full of profanity, they may be turned off (unless that’s what your picture book is about, of course.) You need to encompass what you’re trying to sell. This means dressing the part, too. If you’re pitching an agent face-to-face, look presentable. However, if your brand is all about goth vampires, don’t be afraid to let that show in your clothing and makeup choices. You have to be the best representative of what you’re pitching them. This also stands true with alcohol consumption. While some people may need some liquid courage before facing agents during a conference’s cocktail hour, you can leave a bad impression if you consume too much. Keep in mind your brand encompasses all that you do and say.

3.) Strategically plan your agent interactions

Many conferences offer a chance to pitch agents. Take advantage of this. Of course, do through research ahead of time to see which agent is the best fit. At some conferences, they also offer everything from query critiques to first 10 pages critiques, often by editors and agents. If that’s the case, it could be worth the money to do both, especially if there were two or three agents who might be a good fit for your story. By doing a pitch with one agent, a query critique with another, and a 10 page critique with a third, you can successfully get feedback from all three and see if they’re interested. If nothing else, when you do query them, you can include that you met them at that specific conference, which always helps.

**Bonus Tip** Sign up for the conference early for the best chance of getting to pitch/have a query critique with the agent or editor you want. Slots often fill up fast!

4.) Find your people

Conferences are one of the best places to meet critique partners. Talk with as many people as you can to find other writers who write in your genre or age group. Take advantage of activities like “Find Your Tribe” to meet people who write what you do. Even if you leave without making any headway with agents, you might just leave with a new critique partner who can help you polish your next work in progress so it catches an agent’s eye. Or, a new writer friend might have an agent already and be willing to put in a good word for you.

5.) Don’t be a wallflower

If you’re shy or introverted, it can be hard to put yourself out there. But if there are opportunities to read your work aloud or have your first sentence critiqued during a session, speak up. You never know what agent has snuck into a session and is listening. The more you put yourself out there, the more you’ll get in return.

6.) Make the most of every opportunity

Having lunch and there’s an empty seat next to that literary agent you know would love your book? Take it! Did an author give a great session on world building? Stop them in the hallway and let them know. You never know what interaction could open a door for you. Be kind and sincere, and don’t be afraid to take chances. (Note: DO NOT approach literary professionals in the bathroom, and do not blind pitch them when you’re standing in the lunch line. Only tell them about your story if they ask, and generally, they will ask because they’re just as eager to find good stories as you are to get published.)

7.) Don’t be afraid to attend different sessions

Are you a fantasy writer? Don’t be afraid to attend a session on writing mysteries. You never know what tips you might pick up about adding suspense and writing about villains. The biggest thing is to go in with an open mind so that you can absorb all the information being thrown at you, and then, when you get back in front of your manuscript, you can sort out how to implement it.

 

Above all, have fun and make friends. Being a writer can be tough and isolating, but going to conferences is one of the best ways to break out of those ruts. Take chances, and maybe in a year or two, you could be that author giving a session on voice or point of view. Good luck, and I hope to see you at Midwest Writers Workshop this year!

 

 

How to Deal with Writer’s Block (featuring a T-Rex)

How do you deal with writer’s block? That’s a question many authors ask. Learn how to overcome writer’s block with these simple tips…presented by a T-rex!

 

Having any other methods you swear by for getting over writer’s block? Share them in the comments!

Twitter Hashtags Every Writer Should Know

Twitter is a writer’s hub. It’s a place where you can interact with agents on a social level, find critique partners, and enter contests that can give you a leg up in your agent search. It’s also a great way to improve your platform so potential publishers will see you have a built-in audience.

But how can you be sure you’re getting the most out of Twitter? Start by being active using writing related hashtags. These will help you find and connect with others in the writing community.

Here are some popular ones to follow:

  • #amwriting
  • #amreading
  • #amrevising
  • #Writerstip
  • #books
  • #writerslife
  • #writingtip
  • #pubtip

 

There are also some writing exercises where you share a line or two based on a posted theme on certain days of the week:

  • #MuseMon (Monday)
  • #2bittues (Tuesday)
  • #1linewed (Wednesday)
  • #Thurds  (Thursday)
  • #FictFri (Friday)
  • #SlapDashSat (Saturday – no theme)

The theme for many of the above hashtags changes weekly, so be on the lookout for what the upcoming one is. There are additional ones that drill down into things like Science Fiction (#SciFiFri), so be on the lookout for those if that’s what you write.

Finally, one other valuable hashtag that deserves it’s own section is the #MSWL hashtag. It stands for Manuscript Wish List, and agents and editors use it to tweet about what specific projects or ideas they’d like to see land on their desk. This is a great way to find an agent who might be interested in seeing that super unique book you just wrote.

Twitter is also an excellent way to enter contests, so be on the lookout for events, like #PitMad, where you can tweet about your book and get it front of agents scrolling through the feed.

So get out there and start interacting and tweeting! Have any other favorite writing related hashtags? Share them in the comments.

 

 

 

What to Look for in a Critique Partner

My last post focused on where to find critique partners, and this week’s post is all about making sure you’ve got the right ones.

Here are some things you should look for in a critique partner to have the best chance at being compatible.

  • Can you be candid with one another

The point of having a critique partner is so that they can help you make your work better through constructive criticism. If your critique only tells you how good something is or how much they like it, they really aren’t helping you revise and grow as a writer. They need to be able to approach your work with a critical eye in order to help you gain deeper insights into your work and what issues might need addressing.

  • Write for the same age group

This may not seem important, writing is writing, right? Well, to a degree. However, someone who writes for the same age group is going to understand that reader and the pacing of the story. Plots and timing are going to be very different for an adult novel versus a middle grade novel.

  • Write the same genre

Like #1 above, writing the same genre can be helpful because someone who writes science fiction or fantasy might understand world building and what needs to go into it better than someone writing a contemporary novel. However, this is not a hard and fast rule. As long as a critique partner gets your work, that’s what’s more important.

  • Make sure they have time for you

People are busy these days. If they’re not doing their own writing, they’re off doing any number of other tasks. And there’s nothing more frustrating than sending out your work and never getting it back. On the flip side, make sure you have time to help them with their writing in return.

  • Try trading sample chapters to make sure you like their writing

Before you officially agree to partner, try trading sample chapters. Maybe you’ll hate their writing. Maybe you’ll love it, but it’s better to know before you commit yourself to a whole book.

  • Different perspectives

It can be good to get different perspectives. Is your main character a female? Have a male critique partner read it and see what he catches. Or, if you’re a female writing a male character, see what a male critique partner points out as unnatural. (Side note: for certain works you may also want sensitivity readers if you’re writing outside your own experience.)

Other aspects that might signal you’ll be good partners include having the same sense of humor, liking the same authors/books, and being able to articulate feedback in a way that makes sense to each other. Keep these in mind when you meet potential critique partners, and you’ll be off to a good start.

What do you look for in a critique partner? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

 

The 5 Critique Partners Every Writer Needs

Have you ever finished a draft and thought, “Wow! That’s perfect!” If you have, congratulations. Please share your secret with the rest of us.

While I’ve certainly been excited about what I’ve written, I always recognize that it’s going to need to go through revisions. And the first revision always comes from my critique partners, also called beta readers by some. These are people I trust to look at my work with a critical eye and tell me where the story isn’t flowing or where something doesn’t make sense.

I highly encourage you to have more than one reader. I have a handful of readers, and I bring them in at different points in the process. My first reader is always my sister. (I know, I know, there’s a whole group out there who screams that you shouldn’t have family members read your work.) But my sister is one of my best readers and sharing it with her is an easy transition to sharing it with the world. Plus, she catches all my stupid spelling mistakes. But you’ll need a variety of readers with different skill sets in order to make your novel truly shine:

1.) Find the critique partner(s) you trust explicitly

Sure, you’re not going to agree with 100% of their comments, but this is the person you trust to be honest about your work. Use them first as that buffer between those tricky emotions of wanting to share your work and not wanting to share your work. This person should be encouraging but able to tell it to you straight.

2.) Find the critique partner who **gets your work**

After I edit based on my sister’s feedback, I have a writer friend I send to. Since she’s a writer, I can trust her to know how plots should flow and how characters should be developed. This is usually when I have to do a major revision because things need to be clarified or expanded upon. (Side note: all critique partners should **get your work,** and you may want to alternate who you send to first based on their workload, the type of story you’ve written, etc.)

3.) Find your “reserve” critique partners

Usually after my revisions from my second reader, I send my book off to my agent. But, why, you ask would I do that when I have so many other **AMAZING** critique partners available who also get my work? Here’s why, I like to use them strategically. Once my agent sends me her edits and I revise, I like to send the book to a new critique partner each time. Are they still pointing out the same lingering issues I’d thought I’d fixed for my agent? Have I inadvertently deleted a really important scene or bit of backstory while I was revising? These new readers will catch things like that.

4.) If you’re querying agents, save a critique partner for that step, too

I know you want everyone in the world to read your work before you send it off to agents, but save one or two critique partner’s for this step. Having someone who hasn’t read your book read your query letter can really help. They can point out what doesn’t make sense or where you’ve mentioned a character but not how they’re integral to the plot. They will come to your query letter with the same knowledge an agent would, so listen to them if something isn’t making sense. This can also apply to writing your synopsis, too.

5.) The “Good Grammar” critique partner

Sometimes it can help to have one critique partner who’s really good at grammar read through before you send off to agents/editors/etc. My mom is really good at this, and while most of my critique partners will point out errors, it doesn’t hurt to have someone you know you can count on to do a final read through. Alternatively, you could also hire an editor, but as long as you’re manuscript isn’t riddled with errors, one or two misplaced commas shouldn’t be a deal breaker for agents (just make sure those errors aren’t on your sample/opening pages because that could be a deal breaker!)

 

Some of these critique partners may be one and the same. The critique partner who gets your work may also be your Good Grammar critique partner. Or maybe you don’t need that buffer of a critique partner who can ease your book’s transition out to the world. It just comes down to knowing what you need and that you’ve got all your bases covered.

If you’re looking for critique partners, feel free to comment on this post with what you write (include if it’s Adult, YA, MG, etc) to see if you can find someone else who might be interested in partnering with you and trading work! Or, check out my blog next week when I list ways to find critique partners!

Word Count vs. Timed Writing: Which is Right For You?

If you ask almost any writer what they wish they had more of (besides money, of course!), the answer is usually more time to write. In this day and age, everything from kids to social media can be barriers to that illusive time every writer seeks to sink back into the world of their story.

Once you’ve managed to carve out that time, you’ve got to discover the best method to keep you motivated and writing so you can feel like you’re making true progress.

During my grad school career, I had a teacher who swore by the method that you should set a timer for about 42 minutes. He said if you wrote for 42 minutes, then you’d probably end up writing for far longer because you’d get engrossed in the story.

I tried that method, and it didn’t work for me. I kept watching the clock tick down in time with the blinking cursor on my blank page. The ticking clock didn’t inspire me; it froze me in place, making me worry about all the time I’d already wasted. And suddenly, I felt like I didn’t have enough time left to come up with anything productive.

Luckily, I had another friend who told me she had a word count she wanted to hit each day. And that worked for me. I set my limit rather low at just 500 words a day. Some days those 500 words were a struggle, but many days (most, in fact), I found myself far surpassing that milestone. It was just 500 words. That’s like one single-spaced Word document page. I could do that. I didn’t feel overwhelmed by it. And unlike the clock ticking down, my word count was ticking up, making me feel like I was accomplishing something.

Writing is all about balancing the time you have with a method that allows you to write and still feel like you’re moving the story forward.

Are you a timed writer or word counter? Do you use another method? Share your responses in the comments.

 

 

3 Tips for How to Write a Great Opening Line

It may be true that covers and jacket copy sell books, but you’re going to need a great opening line to even get to the point where someone’s going to pick up your book. Why’s that? Because you’ll need to wow both agents and editors with your opening line so they’ll keep reading.

What makes for a good opening line? It’s should have a good hook. You need something so compelling that the reader wants, no needs, to go on to the next sentence.

Here are 3 tips, with examples, so you can take your first lines to the next level.

1.) Use contrast

Compare:

Timothy took the school bus to Park Elementary, and today was like any other.

Vs.

Normally, Timothy took the school bus to Park Elementary, but today was no ordinary day because there was no bus in sight.

Don’t have your character start out with what they always do. Draw your reader in right from the start by having something new, something different going on. Plus, it can be a good way to show character by throwing them out of their comfort zone.

Famous example:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

(A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens)

 

2.) Leave your reader with questions

Compare:

Nina woke up and rolled over, pounding the alarm clock with her fist.

Vs.

Nina woke up and rolled over, only to discover she wasn’t in her bed anymore.

Did the first sentence really interest you? Maybe you’d read on, but there’s nothing dynamic there. There’s nothing unexpected there. The second one makes you stop and wonder where she is, how’d she get there, and what’s going to happen next.

(Note: Many agents and editors don’t always like it when a book starts with characters waking up, so keep that in mind.)

Famous example:

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

(1984 by George Orwell)

 

3.) Be unexpected

Compare:

Cinderella grew up with two evil stepsisters.

Vs.

Cinderella had never worn high heels.

The first line is expected, ordinary, common knowledge. The second one takes a little more thought. It catches you a little more off guard.

Famous example:

Marley was dead, to begin with.

(A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens)

 

Using these tips, you can take your opening lines from boring to extraordinary and increase the chances that agents and editors will want to read your work. What are your favorite opening lines from literature? Share them in the comments.

Need Help With Characterization? Look No Further Than Tonight’s Costumes.

Happy Halloween!

I hope you’ll all find some time to dress up in your favorite costume today. And whether you’re out trick or treating or staying home handing out candy, I hope you’ll pay particular attention to the costumes that are out and about.

People often choose costumes based on their favorite characters, right? So make a game of trying to figure out why someone picked that costume. What about that character makes them stand out to someone of that age group? This also applies to villains. What about that villain makes them appealing? What quirks, what powers, and what weapons make them an ideal choice?

Once you figure out the answers to those questions, apply them to storytelling. Do people like Maleficent because of her cool, commanding costume? Is Loki a favorite because of his mischievous nature – or is it because he was played by Tom Hiddleston? What about the little girl dressed as Cinderella? Maybe she just loves the dress. But maybe she also loves that her costume allows her to believe that her dreams can come true with a little luck and some hard work.

Whatever the reasons, they can help you figure out what makes these beloved characters tick and what makes them memorable. And you can borrow these reasons for your own characters.

So while you’re out and about this evening, pay attention to these details to really take your characterization to the next level:

1.) Outfit
One of the easiest ways to make a character stand out is to give them something memorable to wear. (See the Maleficent example above.) Moreover, make sure you have a good reason for them to wear it. Or, play with what readers would expect your character to wear and change it up. Why does your character always stay covered from head to toe, even in the heat? Is it because they have scars they don’t want people to see? Everything they put on needs to say something about them.
2.) Accessories
Everything from the locket that holds the last picture of your character’s parents to the mismatching socks your protagonist threw on in the rush out of the house tell us something about your character. What would Cinderella be without her glass slippers? Also, what they don’t carry with them can also tell the reader something about your character. Do they refuse to carry a sword because they don’t believe in fighting? Do they always forget to grab their house keys?
3.) Weapons
Not only do kids like weapons (for good or bad), but a unique weapon can make a character stand out. What would Darth Maul be without his double-sided Lightsaber? Just another villain.

So whatever character you’re trying to write, make them stand out using key details that will make them feel real to your readers. These small details will go a long way in making your character unique, believable, and relatable.

Are you dressing up tonight? What are you going to be be, and why did you pick it? Share in the comments below!