Saturday, April 23, 2011

10 More Tips

I promised to have 10 more tips and although they are a little late . . . here they are.

1. Write - You should write at least 30 minutes a day. Do whatever it takes to accomplish this goal. If you don't write everyday, you will never finish. Writing a novel is a great accomplishment even if you only sell a few books. Only someone who's written a book realizes the time and effort put in to the project.

2. Don't Edit - Now, before you go crazy - I mean - don't edit until you finish. I can't say it enough - finish your book. Many writers will write a few pages then go back every time they write and change and change and change things. Don't do that. Finish the book. Believe me, the editing process is long and extensive.

3. Read - Many great authors are avid readers. When I finished my first book, I started to read and view books in a different light. I noticed scenes, dialogue, plot, and chapter structure. Read books from authors you want to be like. Think about their writing styles, word usage, and word choice. Why do you like their books? What makes them different or stand out?

4. Save Your Files  - a few months back when I finished my book, I saved my copy on a USB memory stick. Unfortunately, my file became corrupted and I lost the file. Luckily for me, I continually saved my files in different places so I was able to go back and find the most current file but I lost about a months worth of work.

5. Write What You Know - I'm a teacher, a mom, a wife, and a writer. My array of subjects should be based on my experiences. I should not (nor would I ever) write about decorating or gardening. My skills on those subjects are atrocious and I have NO business writing about a subject in which I have no interest or skill.

6. Start Promoting - I know you think it's crazy to start promoting before you finish the book but you really do have to get your name out there and some kind of following. I'm still working on that and I've already written some books. Start a blog, promote yourself, get your name out there.

7. Write Where You're Comfortable - I have to write when my kids and husband are asleep. I find comfort with a warm cup of coffee, my laptop, and my characters. I've read that some people rent a hotel room, or go to their beach house, or close themselves off in a room in their house. I don't have the luxury of a beach house so I have to settle for my living room. Luckily, I'm a night owl.

8. Website - Get a website and get your name and your book out there. Offer advice or something else. If you're writing a book on gardening, offer seasonal tips or the best places to get plants. Anything you can do to get people to your site the better.

9. Brainstorm - My editor and I have had a few dinners in which we hash out all the details and ideas. It's great to have someone who knows the story line and where you're going with the book. It's a way to get a second opinion and get some great ideas that you'd never think about without going over it.

10. Join Writer's Groups - Get to know other authors. Networking and asking questions will help you in the long run. I've had several authors call me to pick my brain and I've gladly picked right back. Shelfari, Goodreads, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter are all great tools to start your networking.

Let me know if you have any more tips. I'm sure the readers would find them interesting and insightful.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Tarrant Smith

Tarrant Smith Interview - The Darkly Series 

Cover for 'Bound Darkly'Throughout the chaotic realm of publishing black holes, I have frequently found myself relying on Tarrant Smith for her insights in marketing and technical issues. She has a strong and varied following as well as an abundant wealth of knowledge. Tarrant has also agreed to giveaway one signed copy of Bound Darkly (Book 2 of the Darkly Series) to the winner of my choice (which I will take from my followers).

I was excited when she agreed to be interviewed. This is what she had to say . . .

Where do you get your ideas?

Let me first say, my preferred genre is romance. And although all good stories must have well-rounded characters, in a romance the entire plot of a story hinges on the interaction between the hero and heroine. So my writing process begins with creating a hero and heroine that I can get excited about, characters I want to live with for the next year. For me the old rule of “you write what you know” is true. My character ideas begin with the real people who have moved through my life. Once I have established the emotional inner-workings of my characters, both fey and human, I then rely on my knowledge of folklore, the laws of magick, and relationship dynamics to weave a compelling story line.

When did you realize that you wanted to be a writer?

I realized I wanted to be a writer while in college. I have to give my English literature professor credit for opening that creative door. She saw a glimmer of skill in my papers and encouraged it.  Sometimes you don’t see the talent in yourself until someone points it out.

What’s the most critical step when you go from an idea to a book?

I know a lot of authors who outline their ideas in order to judge whether or not it has enough substance to be a full-length book. I don’t outline or plot chapters. Instead I have a compelling beginning scene which establishes a conflict. This, for me, is critical. If I’m lucky, I also have a twist in mind that will complicate the relationship between the hero and heroine. Then I simply write. The process of writing is definitely critical to the idea developing into a book. Like the reader, I don’t know how the story will end until the characters tell me.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Seek out other aspiring authors who are serious about their writing. Creativity and growth is infectious. The only other advice I would give is… discover your vision, your unique voice and then stick to it.

Did you go through self-publishing or a traditional publisher? What is better?

I first tried traditional publishing. I sent queries, submitted chapters and synopsis. But after receiving many, many positively worded rejections, I investigated Ebooks and print on demand (POD). After embarking into the world of self-publishing, I unexpectedly received the coveted publisher’s contract that I had been seeking earlier. It came from a small publisher, but it was very gratifying—a kind of validation from the traditional publishing world. After doing some soul-searching and the nuts and bolts math, I declined it. Keeping creative control of my vision for the Darkly Series was more important than the validation, and in the long run, more profitable than handing my rights over to a publisher.

What is the biggest misconception about being a writer?

The biggest misconception is that writing is romantic and that advances and royalties support us. Most writers have a job and write, rewrite, and edit in their spare time. Its hard work filled with doubt and soul-mining.

Cover for 'Enchanted Darkly'What did you do before you became a writer?

What haven’t I done! I’ve been a retail manager, dog trainer, checkout clerk, horse trainer and breeder, bookstore clerk, sous chef, waitress, baker, photo lab owner, photographer, website designer, magazine publisher and staff writer, graphic designer, pet-sitter, and yoga instructor. I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few.

Do you plot out your novel or do you just go with the flow?

It’s a combination of both. I went with the flow for the first book, which provided me with a jumping off point for the second book. A friend suggested using political intrigue as a backdrop for Bound Darkly. By the time I finished book two, I realized that my subconscious had been working on a larger story line for this series. Suddenly I had plot points that I had to accomplish within the next three books. Not wanting to forget a single detail, I loosely outlined the bigger story.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

I hear from reader quite often. I write about the small town I live in, so someone usually comes up to me in the local coffee shop to ask a question, or say something about the book they just finished. The most asked question I get is whether or not I’m empathic like Jennifer Mackell in Enchanted Darkly. My answer depends on whether an honest answer would make them uncomfortable.

What do you think makes a good story?

If a reader is still thinking about a story long after the last page of the book has been read, then it is a good story and one worth telling. Several ingredients contribute to a story having this kind of power; archetypal characters that resonate with the reader, surprising twists that capture a reader’s imagination, and conflicting truths that might challenge a reader’s preconceived ideas. Any number of stories contain one or more of these elements, but a really good story contain all three.

What’s next?

Well, right now I’m finishing the draft on Kept Darkly, book three in the Darkly Series. Its release date is set for the spring of this year. I’ve already started the beginning scenes in Surrendered Darkly, book four, which I am very excited about. For the present, this steamy paranormal romance series has my full attention. But, like any busy author, I do have other project ideas in the wings just waiting to be developed.

For More Information on Tarrant Smith and The Darkly Series - Visit her site