April 17, 2013
Why did I decide to self publish?

So, you actually managed to write a book, and you don’t know what to do about it. That’s where I was.

I started my book, Cherry Wood, during NaNoWriMo of 2011. It was my second NaNo, and my first win. I’d written 50,000 words, but my story wasn’t finished. I still needed almost 13,000 more. I worked on it for the next year, and had the story finished around 11:00 pm on October 31, right before NaNo started again.

(I know you’re curious about the process I used, but I promise to write about that next week, OK?)

So, I’ve got my book, but I really don’t want to wait around for a publisher to decide that they want me. It’s expensive to get your book published. You have to send copies of your book (formatted just so) to each publisher you want to approach with cover letters and everything else that they want. That can get extremely expensive since you’ll probably have to send the book to a variety of publishers.

Fun fact: Madeleine L’Engle was rejected 26 times for her beloved book A Wrinkle in Time. She persisted and won a Newberry Medal for that book. You can learn two lessons from that story.

1. If you believe in your story, you need to persevere.

2. Why waste all that time with publishers that don’t know what they are doing?

I did some research and discovered that Amazon had some interesting looking programs available for self publishing.

  1. Kindle Direct Publishing-KDP is a program that let’s you publish your book on Kindle without having to go through a publisher. You will end up being responsible for everything though. You take care of making sure your book is edited and arranging your cover art. You need to do all of your promoting. So why am I using KDP? Because I get to keep 70% of the profits from my book. Sure I have to wait 3 months to get paid, but if you go to a publisher, you make much less, and you typically need to wait 2 years before the book is actually published.
  2. CreateSpace-Have you ever heard about Print-On-Demand? Basically, CreateSpace will only print your book if someone orders it. That saves you the trouble of having to order a huge pile of books to sell or trying to get a new batch on short notice. Book stores can also order this way, so that may work out for you too.
  3. ACX (Audible Books)-Have you seen an ad for Audible books in your travels around the internet? I see them all the time. Through ACX, you can hire someone to read your book, and then it will be available through Audible (including on iTunes.) You can even record the book yourself.

After seeing all of this, I decided to go with self publishing. You may not make that choice, but that is fine. The publishing journey is your own, and you need to choose the path for yourself.

(When you self publish, you need to take every chance to promote yourself, she here’s a couple of links you can look at if you want the latest information about my book.)

December 8, 2012
Look to the past for the future of your novel.

Whether you managed to pack 50,000 word into the month of November, chances are that you have a story that still needs some work before it has been told. If you’re like me, you still have a big chunk of words to cross the finish line. In that case, I have some advice for you:

Read your book!

I know you think you know your story since you’ve spend thirty days cramming it onto the page, but I assure you that that you’ve forgotten something.

How do I know? I ran into the same problem last month when I was working on reaching 50k. I had started my story later in the story. I’m not sure if it was in the middle or not, but I had reached the part of the story I had jumped from, but I had to go back to see what I had done at that part.

It turns out I didn’t remember what I had done as well as I’d thought, so it was good for me to review it. At this point, going back will help you because it will help you remember what you’ve done, but more importantly, it might give you some ideas about the future of your story.

Don’t think about what is wrong, or needs correction. Just get the story back into your head.

December 1, 2012
NaNoWriMo is done, but that doesn’tfor a year. mean that we’re shutting down Writrs

We will still be here, ready to help when you run into problems. Camille and I are cooking up some ideas (or we will be. Also, don’t be afraid to send us your questions.

I’m particularly thinking about some posts involving editing your NaNo projects and looking into publication issues. Also, I have a follow up review for yWriter5, the program I used for NaNo.

November 30, 2012
500 Followers and Our 1 Year Anniversary!

writrs:

A little over a year ago, Camille and I were talking about the upcoming NaNo. We lamented that there wasn’t a community on Tumblr (that we had seen at least) to support WriMos.

That was the start of Writrs (originally called NaNoWriMos) and we actually kicked things off on November 1st. (Nothing like waiting until the last minute.

As we approach 500 followers, we wanted to do something special for you.

So we decided to put together a GIVEAWAY! We discussed doing the typical reblog thing, but then Camille suggested that since we are a writing community, we really should make the contest more creative and center it around writing!

So here’s the plan:

  1. You must be following this blog (or facebook page).
  2. Go to our askbox: http://writrs.tumblr.com/ask
  3. Write a message explaining why you are a writer (with or without the e)!
  4. Wait for the deadline when we will look over all the entries carefully.
  5. We will choose and winner and announce on the blog as well as via private message so we may get addresses to send your prize.

We are planning to have two prizes:

Autographed Copy of The NaNoLand Chronicles

From the NaNo Storesix fables by NaNoWriMo founder Chris Baty, designed to “warm the heart [and] embolden the noveling soul”. Illustrated by Lindy Groening.

Plot Generating Device

This is a plot generator I got at the Kick-Off Party here in Denver. There are two dice, a nice little hand-made bag for the dice, and a plot device list. Pick a character. Roll the dice. Use the plot you get.

The contest will end November 30th at the close of National Novel Writing Month, so you have two weeks to enter! We will choose a first and second place winner, first place will get first pick of the prizes. Get thinking and send us your messages!

Good Luck,
-Billy and Camille

This is your last day to enter. We stop accepting submissions at midnight eastern time. Good luck with winning NaNa!

(via onespeakerforthedead-deactivate)

November 29, 2012
I was talking to a friend today

She’s at 37,000 words, but life has just gotten in the way of winning NaNo. She isn’t going to be able to finish since there are so many obstacles in her way. Do you know what I have to say about that?

So what? You were daring enough to take up the challenge, but it didn’t work out. That doesn’t mean that you aren’t working on a story that needs to be told. The first year that I tried NaNo, my sister had a beautiful baby girl right in the middle of the month. Everything that went with that birth kept me off track for the rest of the month.

Do I consider myself a failure for that year? No way! Even if you don’t make it to 50K words, you still accomplished a lot wherever you made it to. Don’t give up on the story or the characters. You can still finish that novel even if you don’t get it done during NaNo.

So, remember to take pride in whatever you managed to do, and come back next year stronger than ever.

Best of luck

Billy

PS. If you won or are going to win, then congratulations!

November 25, 2012
Add some What ifs? into your novel

The month is winding down and you might be getting stuck with your story. It happens, don’t panic. Let’s give you a little device that will jump start your story. Ask yourself “What if?”

At certain times in its history, Marvel Comics has published a series with this very concept. They took important points in the continuity and asked “Well, what if something different happened?”

This title included such strange stories as “What if Wolverine were Lord of the Vampires?” and “What if the Avengers had never formed?”

You don’t want to go to such lengths with your story at this point, but you can still look at where things are going and say “What if?”

For example: “What if your love interest got hit by a car?” or “What if someone was kidnapped?” maybe “What if I added or removed a character?”

These aren’t set in stone. They are just designed to get you thinking about your story from a different perspective. Try thinking of some of these “What ifs?” and it might jump start your story.

Best of luck,

Billy

November 25, 2012
Important links for Writrs!

Giveaway contest We have 6 entries for these two prizes. You have until NaNoWriMo ends to enter.

Facebook page Like us on Facebook!

November 22, 2012
Think about your characters this holiday.

It’s Thanksgiving, and we spend lots of time thinking about being thankful, but what about your characters? What are they thankful for? What are the downfalls in their lives? If you want to have well rounded characters, you need to be thinking about these things.

Characters should be like real people so they should have highs and lows. Just to clarify this point, I should let you know that I just threw one of my characters out into space without any protection. How’s that for a low?

You don’t have to go to those kinds of extremes, but there needs to be a mix of bad and good-reasons to be thankful and sad. I know it’s tempting to make your story a progression of bad things, but that isn’t realistic. The thankful moments don’t have to be big moments, but even a little moment can balance your story out enough to make it seem realistic.

November 22, 2012
I am thankful for all of you.

Today got me thinking about how thankful I am to have so many followers on this blog. A year ago we were just getting started and trying to figure out our blog while working frantically on our novels. Now we have so many great followers, and a community that we really enjoy.

I hope the last bit of NaNo works out well for you whether you finish the 50,000 words or not. Don’t forget that we are here for you.

Best of luck,

Billy

November 20, 2012
Break it down

Sometimes your word-count needs can feel a bit overwhelming, especially at this point in the game. Don’t let that number get you down.Break it down instead.

So let’s say that you want to write 2000 words, but you only have four hours until midnight. That is probably a bit intimidating, but let’s look at it a different way.

2000/4=500

Using a little simple math, you learn that you only need to write 500 words every hour.

500/60=a number just a little higher than eight.

So if you write nine words every minute for those four hours, you will have written 2160 words, 160 more than you hoped to write. Nine words a minute isn’t that bad.

Here’s an interesting thought for you as well. Let’s say you give yourself a full eight hours of sleep. That still leaves you with sixteen hours in your day. You only need 104 words an hour every day to reach your 50k goal with that in mind.

Don’t let the big word count get you down. Even now, you can still beat it. We believe in you.

Best of luck,

Billy

The Doctor believes in you too.

November 17, 2012
Enter our first-ever giveaway!

We’ve got two entries so far, but don’t miss out on your chance to play along.

9:05pm  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZIcQdwXV2J6l
  
Filed under: giveaway nanowrimo writrs 
November 16, 2012
500 Followers and Our 1 Year Anniversary!

A little over a year ago, Camille and I were talking about the upcoming NaNo. We lamented that there wasn’t a community on Tumblr (that we had seen at least) to support WriMos.

That was the start of Writrs (originally called NaNoWriMos) and we actually kicked things off on November 1st. (Nothing like waiting until the last minute.

As we approach 500 followers, we wanted to do something special for you.

So we decided to put together a GIVEAWAY! We discussed doing the typical reblog thing, but then Camille suggested that since we are a writing community, we really should make the contest more creative and center it around writing!

So here’s the plan:

  1. You must be following this blog (or facebook page).
  2. Go to our askbox: http://writrs.tumblr.com/ask
  3. Write a message explaining why you are a writer (with or without the e)!
  4. Wait for the deadline when we will look over all the entries carefully.
  5. We will choose and winner and announce on the blog as well as via private message so we may get addresses to send your prize.

We are planning to have two prizes:

Autographed Copy of The NaNoLand Chronicles

From the NaNo Storesix fables by NaNoWriMo founder Chris Baty, designed to “warm the heart [and] embolden the noveling soul”. Illustrated by Lindy Groening.

Plot Generating Device

This is a plot generator I got at the Kick-Off Party here in Denver. There are two dice, a nice little hand-made bag for the dice, and a plot device list. Pick a character. Roll the dice. Use the plot you get.

The contest will end November 30th at the close of National Novel Writing Month, so you have two weeks to enter! We will choose a first and second place winner, first place will get first pick of the prizes. Get thinking and send us your messages!

Good Luck,
-Billy and Camille

November 15, 2012
Welcome to the second full week of NaNoWriMo!

This is when things start to get a little tricky. You’re idea is in full swing, but you don’t know what’s going to happen next, or the time-crunch is starting to get to you, but we want you to know that we believe in you. You can definitely do this.!

November 12, 2012
Reaching 50,000 words

With a third of National Novel Writing Month behind us, we need to ask an important question, “Will my story actually reach 50,000 words?”

There isn’t a simple answer to this question. And the question deals with many problems. Let’s take a look at some of them.

Is my story big enough to make it to 50,000 words?

Some ideas are better suited to this length than others. Maybe your at or around the 16,000 word mark and you’re not sure what to do next. That could be a big problem for reaching your goal. I had the opposite problem last year. I needed almost 62,000 words to finish my story. Almost any story can grow though. Don’t panic about that just yet.

My story seems so limited

If you feel this way, then it is probably time to throw something in the story. How many minor characters do you have? Are you focused on just one storyline?

Think about your favorite book (fine, just think about a book that you love) How many side stories that have nothing to do with the main story does that book have? Think about Harry Potter. What does SPEW contribute to the main stories? Not much, but it adds to Hermione’s character and makes the reader think about the way house elves are treated.

My chapters seem so short

The length of a chapter is relative, but we can still talk about this topic. Are you being descriptive? I personally have trouble adding descriptions. I have an image in my mind, and I assume that the readers can see that. Guess what? They can’t. You need to paint that picture.

Some questions to answer

  • What are your characters wearing?
  • what is on that table/desk/wall?
  • What are your characters eating? How does it taste?
  • You’ve got five senses, so does your character. What are they sensing?

Keep writing and tell your readers more. It’s what they deserve.

Best of luck,

Billy

PS. We would love your questions, and be looking for our very first giveaway.

November 9, 2012
"Show, Don’t Tell"
This short phrase represents one of the very most core distinctions between being a writer and being a great writer.
The Big Idea:
Maybe not everyone here is as big of an English nerd as I am, but have you even read a passage in a book that was so well written that it just sent a tingle down your spine? One that you had to stop reading for a second to just admire how perfectly it was worded? Or even a scene in a movie that is so well written it makes you sort of jumpy and you get that “Yes! That makes perfect sense now!” feeling. The kind that makes you so excited that you want to turn to someone and say “Get it!? Because she said _____ in the beginning!?” but of course everyone already gets it because the scene was just so flawless.
Usually these are the passages where the author sums up a theme or where some major plot element ties together without the author directly telling you that it’s being wrapped up. It’s usually a passage that is heavy with symbolism and key words, one that links back to a previous moment of foreshadowing, or one that provides an important insight into a character. These moments wouldn’t be as intensely satisfying if the author just came out and told you exactly what they meant, the reason they are so satisfying is because the author guides you, as the reader, into figuring it out for yourself.
Obviously your story will not be all big reveal moments that need to be cleverly crafted but it will be important to sprinkle your novel with key words, clues, and the like that will help you better be able to show the reader later when your story eventually does come together.
BUT:
You should also be trying to incorporate this technique into your prose because overall, even for the mundane things, it is more fun to read when you have to deduce some of the elements for yourself. You don’t want you just be telling your reader about what happens to the characters, you want them to be able to experience what is happening to the characters. You don’t want to just tell them what is happening, you want to show them how it’s happening.
For example:
1. "Maya was broke and burdened with debt. She knew she deserved a raise, after all she was the best barista in the whole coffee house."

2. Maya expertly pressed espresso and steamed milk, pulling levers here and pouring streams of hot delicious beverages into ceramic mugs and paper cups there. The aroma of darkly roasted coffee swirling around her as she spun around the coffee counter like she was practicing a choreographed dance. She smiled as handed customers their beverages and wished them a good day, especially the sleepy or grumpy ones. It was a grey, gloomy day outside but she was sure her chipper attitude and the glorious caffeinated elixir they were about to partake in would be a much needed pick-me-up!When the morning rush died down and the regulars were all settled with their books and laptops sipping their chai lattes and cappuccinos, Maya untied her apron and leaned on the counter with her phone in her hands. She popped open her mobile banking app and scrolled through the recent transactions for a while then let out a tired sigh.An old man sitting on the couch furrowed his bushy brows and folded his newspaper, “What’s up buttercup? Student loan payments coming again?” Maya looked up from her phone “You know me Merv, always trying to make ends meet…” He frowned a bit and said with a hint of derision “Anthony still only paying you minimum wage, huh?” Maya let out a short chuckle but just nodded.Merv got up and put a five in the tip jar before heading out, Maya smiled appreciatively and said to have fun at physical therapy. She tied her apron back up and began to sweep the floors, pausing only to glance up at her picture on the wall under the words “Employee of the Month!”

In both options the next sentence or paragraph could still easily be an action that leads to your next plot point, but they are both very different approaches. The first example tells you that Maya is broke, that she needs a raise and that she is the best barista. Whereas the second example shows you how Maya is the best barista, it lets you discover for yourself that she is broke and then through dialogue leads you to the conclusion that she deserves a raise.
You can see this is also and important distinction to make for NaNoWriMo because you can turn a 25 word leading sentence into 275 word chapter introduction while simultaneously making your story more interesting to read.
Practice:
This was a previous writing prompt we posted, it was also an exercise from one of my fiction writing classes in college and probably one of my most favorite writing exercise ever: http://writrs.tumblr.com/post/18519594456/
If you find yourself stuck on this concept take a break from writing and try the prompt! make sure you pay very close attention and stick to the rules! You can even use your MC from your NaNo novel instead of one of the characters on the list and if you end up liking it, add it to your word count!
Good luck!-Camille 

"Show, Don’t Tell"

This short phrase represents one of the very most core distinctions between being a writer and being a great writer.

The Big Idea:

Maybe not everyone here is as big of an English nerd as I am, but have you even read a passage in a book that was so well written that it just sent a tingle down your spine? One that you had to stop reading for a second to just admire how perfectly it was worded? Or even a scene in a movie that is so well written it makes you sort of jumpy and you get that “Yes! That makes perfect sense now!” feeling. The kind that makes you so excited that you want to turn to someone and say “Get it!? Because she said _____ in the beginning!?” but of course everyone already gets it because the scene was just so flawless.

Usually these are the passages where the author sums up a theme or where some major plot element ties together without the author directly telling you that it’s being wrapped up. It’s usually a passage that is heavy with symbolism and key words, one that links back to a previous moment of foreshadowing, or one that provides an important insight into a character. These moments wouldn’t be as intensely satisfying if the author just came out and told you exactly what they meant, the reason they are so satisfying is because the author guides you, as the reader, into figuring it out for yourself.

Obviously your story will not be all big reveal moments that need to be cleverly crafted but it will be important to sprinkle your novel with key words, clues, and the like that will help you better be able to show the reader later when your story eventually does come together.

BUT:

You should also be trying to incorporate this technique into your prose because overall, even for the mundane things, it is more fun to read when you have to deduce some of the elements for yourself. You don’t want you just be telling your reader about what happens to the characters, you want them to be able to experience what is happening to the characters. You don’t want to just tell them what is happening, you want to show them how it’s happening.

For example:

1. "Maya was broke and burdened with debt. She knew she deserved a raise, after all she was the best barista in the whole coffee house."

2. Maya expertly pressed espresso and steamed milk, pulling levers here and pouring streams of hot delicious beverages into ceramic mugs and paper cups there. The aroma of darkly roasted coffee swirling around her as she spun around the coffee counter like she was practicing a choreographed dance. She smiled as handed customers their beverages and wished them a good day, especially the sleepy or grumpy ones. It was a grey, gloomy day outside but she was sure her chipper attitude and the glorious caffeinated elixir they were about to partake in would be a much needed pick-me-up!

When the morning rush died down and the regulars were all settled with their books and laptops sipping their chai lattes and cappuccinos, Maya untied her apron and leaned on the counter with her phone in her hands. She popped open her mobile banking app and scrolled through the recent transactions for a while then let out a tired sigh.

An old man sitting on the couch furrowed his bushy brows and folded his newspaper, “What’s up buttercup? Student loan payments coming again?” Maya looked up from her phone “You know me Merv, always trying to make ends meet…” He frowned a bit and said with a hint of derision “Anthony still only paying you minimum wage, huh?” Maya let out a short chuckle but just nodded.

Merv got up and put a five in the tip jar before heading out, Maya smiled appreciatively and said to have fun at physical therapy. She tied her apron back up and began to sweep the floors, pausing only to glance up at her picture on the wall under the words “Employee of the Month!”

In both options the next sentence or paragraph could still easily be an action that leads to your next plot point, but they are both very different approaches. The first example tells you that Maya is broke, that she needs a raise and that she is the best barista. Whereas the second example shows you how Maya is the best barista, it lets you discover for yourself that she is broke and then through dialogue leads you to the conclusion that she deserves a raise.

You can see this is also and important distinction to make for NaNoWriMo because you can turn a 25 word leading sentence into 275 word chapter introduction while simultaneously making your story more interesting to read.

Practice:

This was a previous writing prompt we posted, it was also an exercise from one of my fiction writing classes in college and probably one of my most favorite writing exercise ever: http://writrs.tumblr.com/post/18519594456/

If you find yourself stuck on this concept take a break from writing and try the prompt! make sure you pay very close attention and stick to the rules! You can even use your MC from your NaNo novel instead of one of the characters on the list and if you end up liking it, add it to your word count!

Good luck!
-Camille