How to write a book and plan a series – Frances Brody

Writer’s Digest original article

 Frances Brodyfacebook and twitter

 

Blood Memory originally started out with 2 characters that had absolutely nothing to do with the premise.  In fact, Blood Memory:Book 1 is about werewolves, not vampires, and the Pipers weren’t even a twinkle in my noodle yet.  In 2005 I started writing about Ellis Duban and Simon Huntington.  Twisted sociopath, but enigmatic leader of an unrecognized vampire clan and her right-hand, aka silent worshiping lover.  No werewolves at all.  None. The story evolved about a year later as we incorporated werewolves into the message board that Ellis and Simon started on – Sanguine Affliction.  Then the legend was born, yadda yadda yadda.  So I’m reading this article about planning a series and come across the following.

 

Recently I came across the advice that you should read around the genre you plan to write. Find out what’s on publishers’ lists; analyse the market.

 

The squeal of tires rips through my head (and you’d think literally if you saw my morning hair right now) and I stop at that sentence.  I write paranormal fiction about werewolves and vampires.  You don’t think I actually READ that genre, do you?  I get the same group of questions…a lot.

 

“Oh did you like True Blood?”

“What did you think of Twilight?”

“Did you like the Anita Blake series?”

 

No.  Movies sucked.  Not really, I got 1/4 of the way through the first one.

 

I don’t read vampire books.  They skeeve me out, sadly.  Weird, huh?  Why do I write about vampires and werewolves, but don’t read the genre?  Because there is some serious crap out there for one, and two, you tend to see the smutty side of vampires because, let’s face it, that shit sells.  Don’t get me wrong, I love me some smut, and have written a little (a lot) of it on SA and into my books.  I guess my problem here is – mainstream paranormal is flooded with sex and that’s not just what my stories are about…for the most part.

 

Twilight was extremely well written, I will give Stephanie Meyers’ that.  I enjoyed the entire series, although she could have ended it with WAY more bloodshed, but it didn’t transition near as well onto the silver screen.  That’s not her fault, she didn’t write the screenplays.  Actually, A LOT was lost in the translation, and I kept that in mind when I wrote my stories.  There is way more military action than paranormal hotness in Blood Memory, which might be my downfall, but I just don’t think my writing fits the pop-culture phenomenon that the vampires are so popular in right now.  Continuing on with the article…

 

 Sometimes, practical tips are best. Here are mine. When starting work on a novel, I buy two A4 spiral-bound notebooks, for research, characters and story. I take a camera when I visit locations. Reading for background research is useful, but it doesn’t beat meeting the experts, and they are usually willing to help. I am never happy with my first drafts but save them. To avoid the confusion of a bleary-eyed start on the wrong draft, I highlight abandoned versions and give them a colour. At the end of each day I email work to myself, so if the house burns down while we’re out, or a burglar strikes, my manuscript lives on in cyberspace. Not very high tech, but this works for me.

 

Ok yeah I don’t do this, but it does sound very practical and helpful for this particular author.  Maybe it’s a generational thing, as well.  My bff, and ebook cover designer, asked me the other day, “Do you write down your ideas and outline?”

 

“God no, I just wing it.”

 

I do tend to keep everything in my head before writing it down.  Book 1 was written almost exclusively on the fly during 2010’s Nanowrimo.  It started with a couple pages from SA and just grew from there.  It ended up being about 80k words, but I hit 60k during the first 30 days.  Book 3 took a year and book 2 is proving to be difficult.  Yes I wrote out of order, don’t judge!  They say J.K. Rowling did the same thing with Harry Potter – having the entire story in her head before even finishing the first book.  Ms. Brody’s tips are subjectively helpful, but I think everyone tends to have different writing styles.  I daydream.  A lot.  But it works for me.

Bestselling Ebooks of 2012 – Publisher’s Weekly

http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/bookselling/article/56408-the-e-book-explosion-facts-figures-2012.html

 

15 Million+ for All Three

*Fifty Shades of Grey: Book One. E.L. James. Vintage

*Fifty Shades Darker: Book Two. E.L. James. Vintage

*Fifty Shades Freed: Book Three. E.L. James. Vintage

 

Ugh.  The only thing I will say about this trilogy is that it inspired me to self-publish. If tripe like that can be successful, I should be able to take over the world.

 

50,000+

*Kiss the Dead. Laurell Hamilton. Berkley

*Dead Until Dark. Charlaine Harris. Ace

The Ugly Duchess. Eloisa James. Avon (59,333)

*The Signal and the Noise. Nate Silver. Penguin Press

Sizzling Seventeen. Janet Evanovich. St. Martin’s Press (59,156)

*The Lost Wife. Alyson Richman. Berkley

 

Jumping to the near end with 50k, I can say I’ve not read or really even heard of any of those authors.  But props to them.  Then of course we have the bottom of the bucket.

 

900+

Blood Memory:  Book 1 by Rosalind Hartmann

 

It’s a process, ladies and gentlemen.  A long, arduous process, but it’s been fun.

7 things I’ve learned so far by Douglas Brunt…ie cute guy

Writer’s Digest

Douglas Brunt

 

Douglas-Brunt-author-writer

 

1. Don’t write more than 3 hours at a time. I write three hours in the morning, 9am – 12pm.  Other people are best late at night.  I try to go to the same place when I write, but that doesn’t matter much.  I’ve done lots of writing on planes and in cars, hotels.  The important thing is to write when your brain is at its best.  Work edits or do outside reading with the rest of the day.

Don’t worry about a daily word quota.  Stephen King has said he likes to get 2000 words each day.  That’s a mistake for most people.  Good for discipline but bad for a well written novel.  Three hours of creating is taxing on any brain and you should stop there.  Some days you may stop without any words at all.  It’s much easier to write new stuff the next day than to go through painful deletions of a day’s worth of crap you already wrote.

2. Try it again — without the adverbs (and never used “padded” as a verb)

Adverbs lead to overwriting.  Try taking them out and reading your prose again to see how it sounds.  Simple and less words are more powerful.

Also, I can’t stand the word ‘padded’ used as a verb.  It shows up in almost every spy novel now to tell us how someone walks undetected.  It stops me from reading more.

3. Don’t imitate anyone else’s writing style (except for the “no adverb” thing).

Don’t copy another writer’s style because that is not authentic and that’s how it will sound.  You develop your style over your whole life and through countless influences.  Don’t impose something artificial.  Style matters, but the real force of writing is ideas, not style.  And a writing style isn’t something you can just change like clothes anyway.  We’d all sound like Hemingway if that were the case.  Only Hemingway sounds like Hemingway so don’t try it.  Sound authentic instead.

I love reading Milan Kundera.  I read in English.  He writes in French and Czech.  I can’t comment much about his writing style because I’m reading the translator.  It’s his ideas I love to read.  Don’t worry too much about style.  Focus on your ideas and let your style be natural.

4. Find trusted readers and discuss.

Your spouse, a sibling, a friend need to read your drafts.  They have to be people unafraid to tell you what sucks.  For early feedback, that’s more important than professional editorial skill.  Most people know what sucks.

(How to Deal With Writing Critiques.)

5. Research.

Spend more time working before you write page one.  Then the story, at least parts of it, will feel as though it is writing itself.  Offer to take people to lunch or dinner to interview them.  People in power don’t say ‘No’ to two types: students and fiction writers.  They want to help us.  You can write off the meals as a business expense.

(How to Research a Novel.)

6. Keep the Story Moving.

I mean this in the physical sense, too.  I sometimes fall into dialogue and observations that are inert, the characters never leave their chairs.  Along with advancing the story, readers want to go places and see things.  They want to feel varied pacing and some urgency now and then.  Think of Tom Cruise sprinting (as my agent once advised), which he has done in every movie he’s ever made.

This isn’t high-literary advice.  It’s something basic.  Don’t bore the reader.

(Tips on getting your novel edited.)

7. Get thick skin.
You get criticism from agents, publishers, family, friends and reviewers on Amazon.  Some is meant to help, some not.  Use what you can for good and ignore the rest, which is easier said than done.  I still read reviews on Amazon and get bothered by them.  I like all the fours and fives.  I’ve decided that after those, I prefer the ones.  I’m certain my book is not worth one star out of five, so I must have connected with those people in some way and that’s better than indifference.

 

It really helped this guy was cute, FYI.  Just putting that out there.

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter, yo!

Facebook – Rosalind Hartmann author page

Twitter – Rozbeans

Blood Memory Series – Facebook page

 

I’m almost to 100 likes on my author page.  Make a brown girl happy?

Finally…I’m a cool kid!

“So you published your book?”

“Yeah…sort of.  It’s self-published.”

 

I have this conversation a lot with people.  Maybe it’s my mindset, but when someone says, “Oh this is my friend Roz, she’s a published writer…”, I feel the need to correct them and add, “Well…self published.”  Is self publishing a bad thing?  Being all indie and shit?  No, granted I haven’t found my niche in the industry or a decent fan base, but I’m competing with half a million other books – legitimately published or self – so calling myself a ‘author’ doesn’t feel legit yet.

 

Self Publishers:  The New Generation of Cool Kids

 

 Self-publishing is the chance to make your own future,” says Carmack. The endless possibility inherent in this entrepreneurial enterprise makes self-publishing a robust choice. It is, after all, far more exciting—and impressive—to create your own success than to put your career in the hands of a corporation and hope for the best.

 

I applaud authors who have managed to find a fan base.  You can only share your facebook page or twitter so much until you get someone who posts ‘Get lost, spammer’.  I got that the other day – but at least they took the time to actually say it.  That’s me, silver lining kind of girl.