#AuthorToolboxBlogHop: Using the internet to find beta readers & critique partners

One site where I've found critique partners in the past
One site where I’ve found critique partners in the past
Last month for the #AuthorToolboxBlogHop I talked about how to receive feedback on your work. In the past couple of weeks it’s come to my attention that many writers I know are still struggling with a completely different problem: how to get beta readers and critique partners so they can actually receive feedback. So today I’m going to share a few things that have worked for me, and a couple things other people have suggested.

Let’s talk about Amazon! (And other ways to support authors you love)

Amazon,Monopolies,and Diversification So, news came out this week that Amazon is screwing authors over (surprise!) by allowing third parties to compete for the Buy Box for “new copies”. There’s a long explanation of it on Huffington Post, but the gist of it is that retailers who have many copies in stock will be given priority. This is a problem for self publishers and small presses, who usually use Amazon’s Print on Demand technology and therefore don’t actually have copies in stock. Amazon’s new policy therefore allows third party retailers to completely undercut authors and publishers.

When I read this, I was angry for what I hope are obvious reasons. Authors and publishers put an incredible amount of work into every book. We deserve to be paid. So I went on a Twitter rant about why people should buy books from other sources, and I’ve Storified it–along with some clarifying conversations–in the hopes that we can start a longer conversation:

#Ownvoices Author Spotlight: Sophia Beaumont

spiderswebsmallMental illness is either underrepresented or poorly represented in all genres of fiction, so I’m especially pleased to introduce today’s author, Sophia Beaumont. Sophia’s novel, The Spider’s Web, is the first in a series of YA urban fantasy novels about Evie, a demisexual young woman struggling with anxiety and depression. The book also takes place in Montreal, Canada, and Canadian stories always earn bonus points in my heart.

So, please give Sophia Beaumont a warm welcome!

The power of paper

DSC_0313_editMillions of businesses around the world have paper free offices, and more are making the switch every day. And it makes a lot of sense, especially when you consider how deforestation contributes to climate change. Most of us also type a lot faster than we write by hand–I know I certainly do. So we write on our computers, we work on our computers, we socialize on our computers. We do virtually everything with our computers, and while they do have limitations, scientists are pushing against those limitations every day.

There is, of course, nothing wrong with this. Computers are a tool. They are one of the most useful tools humanity’s ever invented. We can do thousands of things with them. Most of those things can be done in a matter of minutes. And there are tools for almost every task you can imagine, especially creative tasks. Want to brainstorm? You can use Scrivener, or you can get a dedicated brainstorming app. Want to write a book? There are dozens of software options. Want to write a BETTER book? There are tools that will assess your manuscript for overused words, misspelled words, and poor grammar.

But there is also power in paper. It forces us to think differently, to take our time. Not only do most of us write slower by hand, but we also don’t want to cross things out and “ruin” our paper. Nor do we want to take up more space than absolutely necessary. Paper might be affordable, but most of us still don’t like wasting it.

I use a lot of paper for my own writing, and I use it for many different things. Today I’d like to share what those things are–and why I prefer paper for each one.

#InkRipples: 5 Tips for working with beta readers, critique partners & editors

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Today I’m joining the wonderful Mary Waibel, Kai Strand, and Katie L. Carroll for this month’s #InkRipples challenge, and we’re talking about revision. I’ve already shared 5 Lessons I learned revising Keeper of the Dawn, but I’ve realized I still have a lot more to say. So this week I’m going to tackle a big subject: dealing with feedback.

Shall we get started?

EXCLUSIVE Video Readings from Keeper of the Dawn!

KeeperoftheDawn_FrontCover Hi folks! My debut YA fantasy novella, Keeper of the Dawn, came out THIS TUESDAY! I’ve already done a bunch of Big Exciting Things, including a Facebook Live Q & A (which was WAY less intimidating than I thought it would be), and today I’d like to share one of the biggest, most exciting things I’ve ever done: video readings of three excerpts from Keeper of the Dawn!

The Readings

Did you enjoy these excerpts? Pick up your copy of Keeper of the Dawn TODAY!

#AuthorToolBoxBlogHop: Letters to explore character

Nano Blog and Social Media Hop2 This week I’m participating in a new monthly blog hop run by the wonderful Raimey Gallant, the #AuthorToolBoxBlogHop, a monthly event quite similar to the #Inkripples challenge I’ve been doing for the past few months. The big difference is that #InkRipples has a different theme every month, whereas this new blog hop’s theme is always the same, delightfully broad topic: resources for writers. And this month I’ve decided to share an exercise I’m using right now to develop the world and characters of my Big Insane Fantasy Series (which you’ll learn more about soon, I promise):

Letters Between Characters

When you think of character development the first thing that comes to mind is probably a massive character profile. There are thousands of templates for these profiles online, all asking for a dry list of facts. What is your character’s hair colour? What is their eye colour? How tall are they? How many siblings do they have? Where do they live? Where do they go to school or work?

These character sheets have a use, but for me they’re something to fill in after building a character, not before. I learn the most about a character by walking them through actual writing exercises. And one of the biggest things I do is let the character describe their daily life and most important memories to me.

Around the time I first started blogging I did a personal “Dear Diary” challenge, with the goal of intense character development. I wrote a diary entry from the viewpoint of a character–in this case the goddess of death, Astarael–every day for a month. I actually started each entry with the words “Dear Diary”, because it helped me conquer my fear of the blank page. So, essentially, I wrote a bunch of letters from one character to herself. I also posted a bunch of them on my blog, and if you look hard enough you may even still be able to find them.

This year I’ve decided to write a series of actual letters between multiple characters. If you’ve ever read some of the many published historical letters, you’ll know that letters can tell you an incredible amount about a person. Every word written speaks volumes about their personality, their relationship with the other person, their view of the world around them.

If your characters are really interesting and you know what you’re doing, letters between characters can also become saleable short stories. Hell, you can write an entire novel in letters. I’ve never liked books written entirely in letter format (I honestly can’t think of one I’ve ever finished), but I love novels that incorporate some letter writing. I love one-off shorts in letter format even more.

Long story short, letter writing as a character development exercise is a win win scenario. I’ve already started, and so far it’s proven itself as both a powerful writing exercise and a great way to trick my brain into writing short stories.

That said, I’ve got about a million more projects now than I did when I created the “Dear Diary” challenge for myself, so I’m definitely not committing to a letter every day. Or even every weekday. This time I’m not focusing on the quantity, I’m focusing on the quality. My goal is to write one letter from each main character in my current novel. This will help me quickly develop my semi-large cast, especially if I focus them all on major life events. And I already know it will be a lot of fun.

Have you ever written a letter between two of your characters? Do you think this would be an interesting exercise? Let me know in the comments section below!

#Ownvoices Author Spotlight: Diana Pinguicha

2017-04-13 18_22_54-anthology-of-european-sf.pdfToday I’m excited to continue my #Ownvoices spotlight series with an author who has a fantastic name (if I do say so myself), Diana Pinguicha. By day she works as a video game writer and developer, and by night she’s a speculative fiction author; her short fiction has appeared in multiple anthologies, including the International Speculative Fiction Anthology of European Speculative Fiction (which can be downloaded completely FREE). Today she’s here to discuss the challenges associated with different types of writing, representation in fiction, and more!

Please give Diana a warm welcome.

#InkRipples: 5 Things I learned revising Keeper of the Dawn

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Today I’m joining the wonderful Mary Waibel, Kai Strand, and Katie L. Carroll for this month’s #InkRipples challenge, and we’re talking all about revising our stories.  Since my debut YA fantasy novella, Keeper of the Dawn IS OUT NOW I thought I would share some of the things I learned during its many hundreds of revisions.