Home » KM Weiland

Tag: KM Weiland

Best of the Blogs

Christian Editing Services | Best of the Blogs | 21 October 2017

The best of the blogs: must-read posts on writing, editing, publishing, and marketing your books.

Writing

Genre

What is women’s fiction? (Yes, it is a recognised genre.) Orly Konig visits Seekerville and attempts to explain The Mystery of Women’s Fiction.

Prologues

Many publishing professionals warn writers against using prologues. Why? And when can a prologue be a good idea? Meg LaToree-Snyder gives her tips in The Great Debate: To Prologue or Not To Prologue.

It may also depend on the genre you’re writing. I’ve read that Young Adult books shouldn’t have prologues, because young adult readers don’t read them. I asked my teenage daughter, and she says she only reads the prologue if it’s less than a page … and sometimes not even then.

Plot

To plot or pants? And how? Jenny Hansen shares a range of plotting methods at Writers in the Storm. Me? I’m working through Story Genius by Lisa Cron, supplemented by feedback from Michael Hauge (which I’ll talk about in my post next Wednesday).

Productivity

Tamara Alexander visits Inspired by Life and Fiction to share 10 Tips for Staying Focused. I’m going to work on #1 and #4 over the next week. What are you going to focus on?

Writing Skills

What are you good at in terms of writing? What are you not so good at? Are you ever tempted to do more of what you’re good at to avoid improving your weaker areas? In this post, Julianna Baggott challenges us to take her writerly skills test, and work on our weak areas.

Karen Hertzberg from Grammarly uses cooking as an analogy for writing as she shares 9 Easy Tips That Will Improve Bland Writing.

Motivation

KM Weiland from Helping Writers Become Authors has a great post: The Only Good Reason to Write, in which she outlines five not-so-good reasons to write, and (surprise!) the only good reason. Do you agree with her conclusion?

I won’t be posting Best of the Blogs next week (28 October 2017), because I’ll be in Australia at the Omega Writers Conference. But I have a book review for you instead, so stay tuned. Subscribed. Feedly-d. Or however you read blogs.

Best of the Blogs

Best of the Blogs: 14 October 2017

The best of the blogs: must-read posts on writing, editing, publishing, and marketing your books.

Writing

Modern fiction is written in scenes … and that’s something a lot of modern writers don’t fully understand. In this excellent (and detailed) post, KM Weiland takes us through the basics of scene structure, gives reasons why we often get confused between scene and sequel, gives an alternative way of looking at theme, scene, and sequel, and provides an example from her own work. This is a great reference post.

Editing

Great writing is more than an interesting plot and wonderful characters. It’s also hooking the reader with every single sentence. Sacha Black explains in Getting Jiggy with the Nitty Gritty, or, Improving Your Sentences in a guest post at Writers Helping Writers.

Note: don’t get bogged down remembering these nitty gritty details as you write your first draft. But do consider these tips as you write and edit. That’s the time to cut the dross and power up your sentences.

Publishing

Ebook Piracy

Tim Grahl discusses whether ebook piracy is a bad thing or a good thing in Ebook Piracy = Sell More Books. He argues that for most authors, the enemy is obscurity, not piracy. If no one knows you exist, they can’t buy your books. He also shares a video clip of author Neil Gamain sharing his view on piracy—that his own sales went up in the countries in which his books were most often pirated. Gamain also says:

Because the biggest thing the web was doing is allowing people to hear things, allowing people to read things, allowing people to see things they might never have otherwise seen. And I think, basically, that’s an incredibly good thing.

Tim Grahl also shares some tips for trying to turn pirate readers into paying customers. If Neil Gamain’s publisher can’t stop ebook piracy, nor can you. But you can at least try and turn piracy to your advantage (e.g. if you upload your book to the main pirate sites, you control the content and can make sure it includes your email signup links).

 

You’re writing because you want to share your ideas, right? If you’re a Christian author, you may also want to share the Good News. People who might never pick up a Bible or a Christian book might find your pirated novel. And read it. Is that a bad thing?

Marketing

What Works?

New York Times bestselling author Brenda Novak shared 9 Book Advertising Tactics I’ve Tried … And Which Ones Worked at the BookBub blog (yes, she recommends BookBub). She found print advertising didn’t result in sales (it may have increased awareness, but that’s impossible to quantify).

She also hosted a reader event for 150 people. Even though she charged $40 for tickets, the event still cost her $7,500. A better option might have been to join in with other authors, or speak at a reader-organised event. If you write Christian fiction, check out the Christian Fiction Readers Retreat as an option. Plans are in the works for a 2018 event.

Author Interview: Bethany Turner

I’m sharing this interview because Bethany Turner is an example of how you can break a lot of the writing and publishing industry “rules” if your writing is strong enough. Examples:

  • It’s written in first person
  • She talks directly to the reader
  • The first 10% of the book is backstory
  • It uses the (unrealistic, IMO) Love at First Sight trope.
  • And the (hated, IMO) Other Woman trope
  • It includes swearing
  • The hero and heroine are sexually attracted. In Christian fiction.

Despite all that, it’s the first book I’ve read this year where I immediately wanted to sit down and read it again.

She also broke several publishing industry rules

  • Turner admits she didn’t read the genre (Christian romance)
  • She never read books on writing craft or attended a conference
    She didn’t have an agent
  • She got a contract from a major publisher by submitting to Writer’s Edge (the first fiction example I’ve seen in years)

I don’t recommend following Bethany’s example—she is the exception, not the rule. But I do recommend reading the interview (and her book, The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck, which I featured yesterday on #FirstLineFriday).

Social Media Fun

Finally, for laughs: 30 of the Funniest Tweets About Social Media

My favourite is #18, with #19 running a close second. What’s yours?

 

Best of the Blogs

Best of the Blogs: 30 September 2017

Best of the blogs: the best posts I’ve read this week on writing, editing, publishing, and marketing. Okay, mostly on writing.

Writing

Writing Addictive Fiction

What is addictive fiction? It’s fiction that keeps the reader turning the page. In this guest post at Write to Done, Victoria Mixon shares The 3 Secrets to Addictive Fiction.

Writing Conflict

Is your conflict true conflict that’s necessary for the story, or is it just a temporary obstacle, an unimportant delaying tactic you’ve included because you know you need conflict in fiction? Janice Hardy visits Romance University to answer this question in 3 Ways to Tell if Your Conflict is Just a Delay Tactic.

Writing Scenes

Orly Konig visits Fiction University to share tips on Using Seasons (not seasoning) to Deepen a Scene. I love the idea of considering the season as part of the setting. Seasons tell us something about location – is Christmas in summer or winter? Seasons can also be used to reflect characterisation—does the character call it fall or autumn?

Writing Subtext

KM Weiland offers 4 Ways to Mine Your Characters’ Subtext. Great subtext, to me, is the mark of a great novel. It’s when I can read a scene and feel I know something about the characters before they acknowledge it for themselves. Yet the author didn’t tell me. The author showed me, through great subtext.

I’d add one thing to KM Weiland’s advice: don’t worry about adding subtext on your first draft (although you might find it comes out naturally). Use your first draft to nail down your plot and characters, then consider where you could add subtext (or remove telling) in your second and subsequent drafts.

Writer Productivity

I don’t know about you, but I see a lot of “productivity hacks” online (although none of them have yet told me how to get more hours in the day). In particular, many writers find it difficult to carve out time for writing, especially those who have other roles: wife, mother, employee, homeschooler, church volunteer … (ringing any bells?).

Joanna Davidson Politano visited the American Christian Fiction Writers blog to offer Help for the Time-Starved Writer. She says:

The truth is, you don’t need more time to write—you need a deeper reserve of creativity and strength and ideas that can only be found in intimate relationship with the Father.

Not the productivity hack you were expecting, right?

Marketing

Finally, Nate Hoffelder at The Digital Reader give his tips on writing a regular link post (like this best of the blogs post). Author Blogging 102: A Practical Guide to Developing Your Weekly or Monthly Link Post covers both non-fiction and fiction link posts.

That’s a great idea: I hear a lot of fiction authors saying they don’t know what to blog about, so a weekly or monthly link post is a great idea. Fiction authors can link to book reviews or author interviews in their genre, or to posts that might interest their readers.

His best tip? Read all the posts first. It’s something I do, even with the posts I share on Twitter. You don’t want to unknowingly share something you fundamentally disagree with without some kind of comment.

What do you like in my weekly link post? What would you like to see more of … or less of?

Best of the Blogs

Best of the Blogs: 23 September 2017

Best of the Blogs: it’s all about writing this week!

This week was the monthly Author ToolBox Blog Hop, courtesy of Raimey Gallant. While all the posts were good (and you can click here to find the links to each post), there were two I thought were outstanding.

Characterisation

The first was from Erika Timar, who applies her experience in creating characters as an online RPG gamer to writing fiction in Character Creation—Building From Cliches. She points out that readers like familiar characters because they are relatable … and relatable is the key to being marketable.

Author Intrusion

The second was from editor ML Keller, on Correctly Using Author Intrusion. It’s a form of telling, but as I discussed in my own post this week, telling isn’t always bad. I would point out that her examples were older novels. Do you know of any contemporary novels that use author intrusion well?

Other excellent writing posts …

Story Secrets

Award-winning author Rachel Hauck visited Novel Rocket to share The Secret To Powerful Stories. How does your novel rate against Rachel’s criteria?

Subplots

In Five Tips for Organising Subplots, KM Weiland gives three types of plot, four types of subplot, and her five top tips. Her main point: there are no subplots, just plots.

Flashbacks

Finally, Kristen Lamb visits Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi at Writers Helping Writers to share about Flashbacks: when is a flashback not a flashback, and the difference between a flashback and a parallel timeline.

What great blog posts have you read this week? Share in the comments.

Best of the Blogs

Best of the Blogs | 9 September 2017

Best of the Blogs: the best posts of the week on writing, editing, publishing, and marketing.

Writing

Point of View

One of my personal bugbears when reading (and editing) is novels which headhop. In this excellent post, Most Common Writing Mistakes: Head-Hopping POV KM Weiland explains why headhopping is a bad idea … and how it’s often a symptom of a bigger problem:

it’s also a sign the entire narrative—all the way down to the structural foundation of the plot—lacks focus.

Publishing

Kristine Kathryn Rusch discusses Rip Van Winkle Syndrome among writers—a summary of how the business of publishing has changed in the last decade. Anyone who hasn’t kept up might feel like Rip Van Winkle did after waking from his twenty-year sleep.

Marketing

Cover Design

Emilie Hendryx visits Novel Rocket to share 3 Ways Your Cover Sells Your Novel. I have to agree: people do judge books by their cover. There is a new release I keep seeing promoted on blogs and social media. I know from the title and blurb it’s supposed to be historical fiction with a romantic element. Maybe I’m the only one, but the cover image reminds me of Cruella de Vil … not my idea of a romantic heroine. No, I’m not going to share the name or author.

Amazon Ads

David Gaughran shares 9 Ways to Improve AMS – Amazon Ads for Authors. It’s a combination of instruction on how to use Amazon ads, and how Amazon could make their advertising more user-friendly i.e. encourage advertisers to spend more money by providing clearer information on how to get a positive ROI.

I don’t have any books for sale on Amazon, so my experience of Amazon ads is solely as a potential Kindle book buyer. Almost all the books I check out are Christian fiction, so I’d expect the advertised books to be Christian fiction—or at the most edgy, fiction written by Christian authors for the general market. But that’s not the case, and I guess we can thank EL James and Christian Grey for that. I wonder if these authors realise they are wasting their time and money?

Sharing to Social Media

Buffer have an excellent post on What to Post to Each Social Media Platform (Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Twitter). You can post to five of these six using a free Buffer account, or to all six using a basic paid Awesome account (my choice). Anyway, check out the post. Or click here to find out more about how I use Buffer.

Website Maintenance

If you have a WordPress website (and you should), you need to keep it maintained (voice of experience here). Shannon Mattern explains how in How to Maintain Your Website.

If you want to set up your own WordPress website and don’t know where to start, I recommend Shannon’s free Five Day Website Challenge. It’s how I developed this site, and www.iolagoulton.com. Click here to find out more.

What’s the best blog post you’ve read this week?

Best of the Blogs

Best of the Blogs: 17 June 2017

Best of the Blogs

The best posts I’ve read this week on writing, editing, publishing, and marketing.

The focus this week is on writing craft. That’s not deliberate—it just happened that way. Some weeks it’s a mix, some weeks it isn’t.

Story Genius

First up, Myra Johnson visits Seekerville to discuss Story Genius by Lisa Cron. It’s a brilliant book, and I highly recommend it. Myra talks about the “third rail,” the emotional power that keeps our story moving forward.

Using the MBTI for Characterisation

I don’t know about you, but I find getting to know “my” characters (the characters I’m writing) one of the most difficult aspects of writing a first draft. And characterisation is also what makes or breaks a book for me—that’s how important characterisation is.

In fact, Lisa Cron says:

Ultimately, all stories are character driven—yes, all stories.

That’s because great stories aren’t about what happens as much as they are about how the characters react to and make sense of what happened.

In 5 Ways to Use Myers-Briggs for Characters, KM Weiland recants on her previous aversion to using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to profile her characters, and gives five great tips. And do read the comments. One commenter has written a virtual essay, which is informative (and technical).

Inspirational Romance

Jamie Lynn Booth visits Kristen Lamb’s website to discuss Why the World Needs More Inspirational Romance.

This is another post where the comments are as enlightening as the post. Many of the commenters describe themselves as Christians, but say they aren’t writing with the major CBA publishers would recognise as Christian fiction. As one commenter says:

I firmly believe that God has called us to be truth-tellers in a broken world.

I take the point. A lot of Christian fiction is telling the Truth (God’s Truth), sure. But it’s failing to tell it in an authentic way that will resonate with non-Christians. While I love Christian fiction that’s written for Christians by Christians, there is also a need for fiction written by Christians for the general market, but that will still lead people to God.

Part of this is about having flawed characters non-Christian readers will recognise.

Authentic characters.

And that’s what Lanette Kauten is talking about in Writing Authentic Characters (also at Kristen Lamb’s website). Lanette is a Christian, but isn’t writing “Christian fiction”. She says:

My characters are a part of the world they live in and act accordingly.

And her world is messy. Her heroine is described as a confused atheist in a lesbian relationship escaping from her upbringing in a weird Charismatic church. That’s part of the story, but it’s not the whole story. Her message is that our writing must be authentic.

Now for something lighter …

I enjoy humour. Who doesn’t? But I often come across novels where the humour either falls flat, or crosses the line from humour into a cringefest of slapstick.

In this excellent post at the BookBaby blog, Scott McCormick explains why: because Your Story Needs a Good Straight Man. If I think about it, a lot of the humour that didn’t work for me as a reader was because both characters were trying to be funny. And that doesn’t work. As Scott explains, good humour needs a straight man.

The best humour isn’t when one character says something funny and the other character laughs. It’s when one character says something funny, and the other character ignores the humour and carries on with the conversation. Terry Pratchett was a master at this.

McCormick also says:

Interestingly, a straight man doesn’t have to be limited to comedies. A good straight man can make your heroes more heroic, and your tragic figures more tragic.

Worth thinking about …

Do you use humour in your writing? (Or humor?)

I’m currently running a giveaway of Then There Was You, the new novel from RITA finalist (and Christian Editing Services client) Kara Isaac. Click here to enter.

Best of the Blogs: 30 September 2016

The best posts I’ve read in this week on writing and social media, a fun video … and two giveaways.

Writing

KM Weiland at Helping Writers Become Authors has an excellent post on the differences between scenes and chapters: 7 Questions You Have About Scenes vs. Chapters

And Joanna Penn, on 7 Steps to Writing Your First Novel

(Hmm. There must be something significant about the number seven.)

Social Media

Two articles on social media this week, both from Social Media Examiner.

First, Twitter has introduced something called Twitter Cards. Here’s how to use them: Using Twitter Cards for Business

Second, a detailed guide to using Medium–which I don’t use, but now I’m wondering if I should! What do you think? Here’s the guide: Medium for Business

Thought

Yes, many of us feel we’re becoming overwhelmed by social media … and that’s not always a good thing. In I Used to Be A Human Being, Andrew Sullivan muses on his social media journey, from non-user to addict to recovery. This is a long article. Very long. So long I gave up halfway through, which I suspect partly defeats the purpose of the article. Or perhaps it reinforces the fact we’ve become a planet of skimmers rather than readers.

Fun

And for a bit of fun … 17 British accents in just five minutes:

Giveaways

I’m also currently running two giveaways, partly to test out the KingSumo WordPress plugin I’ve recently purchased. It comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, so I want to see if it’s worth it! Check out the giveaways, then come back and tell me what you think in the comments.

One Kindle copy of My Hope Next Door by Tammy L Gray.

Click here to enter the giveaway (ends 5 October)

Click here to read my review of My Hope Next Door

One Kindle copy of An Aussie Summer Christmas novella collection

Click here to enter the giveaway (ends 10 October)

Click here to read my review of An Aussie Summer Christmas

Relz Reviews

And if you’re really in the mood to score some free Christian fiction, head over to Relz Reviewz, where uber-blogger Rel is celebrating her ten-year anniversary of blogging with a heap of giveaways.

 

What’s the best blog post you’ve read this week? Share in the comments.