Making Your Novel B-E-A-U-Tiful!

If it scares you,it might be agood thing to try.

This is the step that I find myself with Purpose. Today, I’m going to cover the reason I’m using Beta Readers, questions I’m having them answer for the polished and ready to publish version of my novel, the Blurb for the back of your novel, and the cover. These are all necessary steps to take prior to getting your book published. 🙂

First of all, why have Beta Readers? What are they? Well, Beta Readers are a select, handful of people who you choose to read your final draft for gaping plot holes and content critique. Make sure you don’t have too many Beta Readers, though. Less than 5 people is more than enough.

I have 3 Beta Readers. I wanted people of various backgrounds so I could get different perspectives on the questions I pose to them. My father, my husband, and my aunt-in-law (if that’s a thing???). They are all honest with me and always have been. My father and husband have an obsession with fiction, specifically fantasy. My aunt-in-law loves to read and can pick out any large issues with little effort. One is more detail oriented, the other two see the big picture. Things like this are important if you want a well-rounded critique of your novel.

The following questions that I have listed below are pulled from various websites/blogs around the internet so please enjoy!

  1. Did the story hold your interest from the very beginning? If not, why not?
  2. Did you get oriented fairly quickly at the beginning as to whose story it is, and where and when it’s taking place? If not, why not?
  3. Could you relate to the main character? Did you feel her pain or excitement?
  4. Did the setting interest you, and did the descriptions seem vivid and real to you?
  5. Was there a point at which you felt the story started to lag or you became less than excited about finding out what was going to happen next? Where, exactly?
  6. Were there any parts that confused you? Or even frustrated or annoyed you? Which parts, and why?
  7. Did you notice any discrepancies or inconsistencies in time sequences, places, character details, or other details?
  8. Were the characters believable? Are there any characters you think could be made more interesting or more likeable?
  9. Did you get confused about who’s who in the characters? Were there too many characters to keep track of? Too few? Are any of the names or characters too similar?
  10. Did the dialogue keep your interest and sound natural to you? If not, whose dialogue did you think sounded artificial or not like that person would speak?
  11. Did you feel there was too much description or exposition? Not enough? Maybe too much dialogue in parts?
  12. Was there enough conflict, tension, and intrigue to keep your interest?
  13. Was the ending satisfying? Believable?
  14. Did you notice any obvious, repeating grammatical, spelling, punctuation or capitalization errors? Examples?
  15. Do you think the writing style suits the genre? If not, why not?
  16. Would you read the next two books in the trilogy based off this one? If no, why not?
  17. Which parts resonated with you and/or moved you emotionally?
  18. Are there parts where you wanted to skip ahead or put the book down?
  19.  Which parts should be condensed or even deleted?
  20. Which parts should be elaborated on or brought more to life?
  21. Which characters did you really connect to? (None is acceptable)

Other Questions/Comments:

Use as little or as many as you like! This will help make the finishing touches on your book (if you need any at all)! Value critiques, whether or not you decide to actually make the changes.

 

Next is the Blurb and Cover:

I have already posted my Blurb for Purpose but I’m posting it again for reference. Try to keep it under 200 words if you can. Mine is 138 and I had done about 5 revisions on it. I also had my Facebook group vote on which of 3 options that they liked best and this was the winner:

The only remnants of the Old Times are crumbling cities and desolate streets. Their tales, all but lost. Five hundred years have passed since the Old Time Wars, nearly causing the extinction of all humans.

Descendants of the few survivors have since rebuilt. Power, weaponry, and skill in battle now rule the region where Eva Calloway resides. She protects a colony of Rovers from the two largest Gangs in the region, desperate to atone for her own bloody past.

Everything changes when she rescues brothers, Jake and Tommy McAvoy, from a mysterious vault that has not been opened since the wars. With each step closer to finding the boys’ missing father, the ghosts of her past begin to reappear. Now, Eva will be forced to fight her way out of the darkness or else be consumed by it.

Remember: This is the SECOND MOST IMPORTANT part of your book. This is what grabs the reader to buy your book compared to the rest on the shelf. Aside from the cover, this is extremely important. Ask yourself a few questions when forming your Blurb:

How do I encompass the entire book in a few sentences?

What important information do I want to convey?

What parts of the book will grab the reader?

How much do I want to give away to the reader in the Blurb? (Is there a plot twist I want to keep secret?)

How can I write this concisely yet cover enough to describe my book properly?

Try writing a few paragraphs at first and then narrowing down and combining sentences. Give yourself a few options and have your fans/family/friends choose the best one. Which one would make them want to read your book? Good luck with this 🙂

 

And Finally… *Drum roll* Your Cover!

There are about a thousand different places that you can have your cover created. If you are talented in the visual arts (or Photoshop), you can design your own. Since I am neither, I have to find a different route.

If you outsource your cover to someone else, you have a few options. But first, make sure you have a good description of how you would like it to look (if you’re picky). At the very least, a description of your book so the artist can play around with images.

  1. 99 designs – This website is in the middle in terms of pricing. A book cover design will run you about $299 or more. Basically, you set a price over the minimum amount and receive dozens of designs from various artists. Then, you choose your favorite and they receive the money. They seem to be very high quality, but I do believe there you have to pay separately for an ebook cover.
  2. Canva – This website is helpful if you want to design your own cover. They have templates to work off of, but make sure the photos that you use are stock photos. Otherwise, you may have to pay in order to use them. Canva has a few that you only have to pay $1-5 per photo.
  3. Freelance Artists – you can find a few of these around the internet with their own websites. They tend to charge quite a bit, but have years of experience and produce high quality covers. It really just depends how much you are wanting to spend. If you know a few colleges in your area, you can snag a student working on a portfolio to design your cover for ~$50.
  4. Book Printing Companies – Online Book Printing companies sometimes offer Cover Design and Editing services as well as printing hard copies of your novel. These usually run a bit, but most websites have a fleet of artists and it is well worth the $$$ if you have a design stuck in your head. (#3 is a good option for this as well)
  5. Fiverr – This is the option I’m using. Why? Everything starts at $5! There are a few people who design quality book covers (ebook is $5, but hard copy may run you $50ish). The one downside is the wait time. Since there are a few artists on this website, they have other projects in queue and may take a little bit to get your design completed. If you don’t have a set deadline to release your book, or if your deadline is a few months away, this is a great option!

So there you have it! Hopefully, after these final steps, you have a beautiful polished document ready for print! Stay tuned for the benefits of Self-Publishing 🙂

 

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Saturday Writing Prompt

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Peter. My first love. The sweet and caring man. He was there for me when my mother died. Thick, golden locks like midday ocean waves basked in sunlight. Eyes, green leaves right after the morning dew. Milky, white skin. No blemishes, all perfection. His muscular figure hardened only by his daily routine of exercise. And yet, his hands were not hardened by labor. Only his mind worked tirelessly day by day. He was sharp, witty, and eloquent like Shakespeare but never boastful about it. When he spotted someone in need, there was no question in whether he aided them.

And Tyler. My bad boy. Loyal and brave to no end. His promises were always kept and he would never allow anything to happen to me. Mysterious, honey eyes hide a deeply troubled past. His hair was the same color as a calm twilight and just as breathtaking. Although his skin was hardened by the sun and his palms were worn by work, he was always gentle and loved me like no one else could.

I thought Peter had fallen for another and moved onto Tyler years later. It wasn’t until I came home that dreary night in October that I would see Peter. I remember how he stood in my kitchen. He was stiff, not relaxed. How he got into my apartment, I would never know. A glint in his eyes told me something was wrong. I wanted to start making dinner, but he told me not to speak or to move. Like I said, something was NOT right. As soon as Tyler arrived home from work, my fears were confirmed. 

“I am going to hand you both a chair,” he stated. “You will sit near the front door. Do not look in the kitchen. And please don’t ask any questions.”

We did as we were instructed. Peter’s tone made my heart skip a few beats. Tyler tried hiding his terror with anger but could not mask his fear when two men with guns appeared from the kitchen. One man pointed his gun at Peter. The other walked over to us and stuck his barrel at Tyler’s temple.

“What the f*** is going on?” I looked at my boyfriend who was on the verge of tears. “Peter. What is going on?”

“I never told you…” he trailed off. The man with the gun yelled in a foreign language and prodded with the barrel of his firearm. “I was a spy… and I -“

“Wait. What?” Tyler’s voice was shaking. Or maybe it was my breathing. I really did not know.

“They have already promised not to kill you.” Peter wore a faint smile. “I have secured your safety.”

I was shaking my head and that was when the tears came. “Please. I’m scared. What do you mean Peter?”

“I screwed up okay?!” He was surprisingly calm. Almost like he had been in this situation before. Did I know him as well as I thought I did?

“CHOOSE!” One of the men shouted at me.

“What are they talking about?” I was becoming hysterical. So was Tyler. I had never seen him so upset or Peter so emotionless.

“The only way they will let you live is if you choose who dies.”

“What? What do you mean?”

“You have to pick. Me or Tyler. Whoever lives, these people will wipe their memory. The other will die.”

“What the hell? Why?!”

“I made the mistake of killing someone that I shouldn’t have. But I did it to save you.”

I was speechless.

“Three days ago, there was someone who put a hit out on you. I killed the assassin… but now I have to pay the price to these people.”

“Who would want to kill me?”

“Don’t you dare Peter…” Tyler finally spoke up again. “You know nothing.”

“What the F*** is going on guys? Tyler? Peter?”

“Tyler wanted you dead.”

“Shut up Peter! You know nothing! It was not me.”

I didn’t know who to believe, but the armed man next to me started counting down from ten, slowly.

“You have to choose! Please. Or they’ll kill all of us.”

I wanted to vomit. I wanted to cry. I was confused and terrified, but I wanted to live.

“Three. Two. One…”

I opened my mouth. My response shocked the whole room…

 

OKAY! I’m leaving it on a cliffhanger. 🙂 Sorry I haven’t posted in a couple days! Enjoy this prompt!

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The DREADED First Draft

The First Draft

Okay. Let’s take a deep breath before we get into this. Everything is going to be alright. Don’t freak out. YOU CAN DO THIS! 🙂

Many aspiring authors don’t make it to this point and even if they do, they may not make it past a few pages. The crippling feelings of doubt and fear of failure pervade our minds every day. Because of this and the need for perfection, the First Draft is literally the hardest part of writing your novel. It seems like an insurmountable obstacle, but there are a few things you can do to psych yourself up and “Get ‘er done!”

1. Understand that the First Draft will be (excuse my French) shitty!

Probably the most important thing I learned in college (aside from getting my Psychology degree), was that “the first draft of any paper will be shit.” That is literally the exact words of my favorite professor. Whether it’s a term paper, a research paper, or a novel, the first draft will be THE WORST DRAFT. That’s why it’s called a draft. But it is allowed to be crappy. That’s the whole point of the First Draft.

Think of it like a human body. The First Draft is the bones – without bones, there would be no support and no structure for the novel to stand on. It is a necessity.

2. All it has to do is EXIST.

The greatest thing about the First Draft is that there are so many possibilities. You can literally vomit on a 100+ pages and it’s done. But you cannot build on something that doesn’t exist. Bam. There is the beauty of the First Draft, it simply has to exist.

 

Okay, so now that you understand the two things above, let’s get into a few more tips about getting it done! 🙂

3. Hold yourself accountable.

Whether that’s setting aside a certain time each day, or hitting a predetermined word count, make it a priority. For my novel Purpose, I made sure I wrote AT LEAST 500 words per day. When I went on vacation, I brought my laptop with me and wrote at least 1,000 words for each day I was out of town. Writing doesn’t take breaks because it’s supposed to be fun! But that doesn’t mean you can make excuses not to do it.

I cannot promise that it will be easy to write every day. But I can promise that writing for 1 hour or 500+ words per day will get you closer to your goal. And if that doesn’t inspire you, please see #1 and #2 🙂

4. NEVER EDIT until you are done.

If you have to have your friend/spouse/parent, etc. sit next to you and slap you, so be it. But, please, do not edit your First Draft until you are completely DONE with it. That means, done with the whole story. Not done with a chapter. Not done with your word count for the day. THE WHOLE STORY.

Why? Because it is a gigantic pitfall. If you spend time reading your work over and over, you will start to hate it or spend so much time fixing it, you will never move on. That is why countless writers quit before they finish even the First Draft. I promise, you can edit later, but do not do it until the draft is complete.

5. Make it fun!

Listen to music. Recite your dialogue out loud. Watch a short YouTube video after every 30 minutes of writing. Look up motivational quotes for 5 minutes before you start. Anything to get you to write and stay excited about it, do it! The whole reason that you’re writing this novel is because you are passionate about it. Right?

Don’t make writing a chore. If you start dreading the time spent with your novel, then you need to change things up. Not everyone can write a novel, but that’s what makes YOU special. You have a fire burning in your belly that needs to come out into text. Seeing your name on the cover of a book. Your first true fan writing a letter about how much they loved your story….

But it has to be fun. You have to make it enjoyable. Otherwise, you may never finish it.

 

So there you have it. It doesn’t take much to get the First Draft done… just commitment (and a lot of it)!

As for me, I called my first draft “vomit on 300 pages”. I mean, that’s literally what I felt like I was doing, regurgitating every paragraph that came into my head. Sure, I followed my outline, but since I keep that so vague, most of the story was new to me as I wrote it. But lo and behold, I got it done and I’m in the editing phase currently. (*Gasp* What a great lead in to the next topic of Let’s Write a Novel!)

Don’t ever feel like you’re alone in this! YOU CAN DO IT and every other author is right there with you!

Harry Potter Writing Prompt

*DISCLAIMER* I do not own anything affiliated with Harry Potter or Hogwarts.**

I created a Hogwarts Sorting Quiz (LINK BELOW). Then, scroll down to your House, choose a few inspiration pieces, and write a story!

Don’t forget to “Follow” my blog for more prompts and writing tips! 🙂

Writing Prompt

TAKE THE SORTING QUIZ HERE!

Slytherin:

Thunderstorms, swimming, curling up with a hot chocolate in winter, good company, a moonlit dinner, sushi, starlight reflecting off the ocean, the pitter patter of rain, winning an award, creative writing, leggings and an oversized sweater, smokey eye makeup, eating with chopsticks, early spring or late autumn nights, the feeling of finishing a huge project, smell of freshly fallen snow, the feeling of waves on your ankles, walking barefoot in a forest, living in the mountains, a gigantic and ancient castle, touch of a loved one on your cheek, listening to classical music, being alone in your own thoughts.

Gryffindor:

Summer, deep-sea diving, tanning on the beach, ice-cold lemonade or ice tea, clinking ice against a glass, dancing, being in a crowd, Christmas lights, wind-chimes in Spring, Pop Music, jean shorts and a tank top, flip flops, turkey club with crisp lettuce, bright green eyes, chopped salad with fresh veggies, late spring and early summer breeze on a clear night, warm sand, a medieval mansion, candlelight, bonfires, an open pasture, living in a beach home, open windows, changing leaves of autumn, a kiss.

Ravenclaw:

Autumn and early Winter, hiking, crunching branches underneath boots, skiing, apple cider, the feeling of fresh pages on a new book, the scent of a library, an A on your test, snow boots and a big coat, a crisp winter night, stargazing, Astrology, Thanksgiving, soup, playing an instrument, dark hair, a bear hug, a crackling fireplace, studying for a test, a snowball in your hand, evergreen trees, Christmas gifts, family, a tear running down your cheek.

Hufflepuff:

Late Winter and early Spring, the first blossoms of Spring, a Cherry Blossom tree, gardening, soil in your hands, the smell of freshly cut grass, sounds of sprinklers in the front yard, bicycling down the street, a long walk around the neighborhood, Barbecues, french fries and a burger, marathon running, horticulture, boho and hippie clothes, feathers in your hair, tribal tattoos, a welcoming smile, natural living, a small cottage in the woods, a few good friends, holding hands, board games, the first rain of the year, meditation, laying in an open field.

I hope these give you some good ideas for a short story! Choose one or try and use all of them. Pretend you’re in Hogwarts? Who knows! Go for it!

🙂 Enjoy 🙂

Weekend Writing 2

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“Great,” Quinn said crossing his arms. “Now what?”

Mark had a dumb grin on his face. “It isn’t all bad… We shrunk near food. This will last us a lifetime!”

“Um… no.” Quinn was pacing around what felt like a city but was only the counter top in his mother’s home. “We aren’t going to stay like this forever. How did we even get this way? If we figure that out, maybe we can get un-shrunk.”

“But look at how big everything is!” Mark was in awe. He threw his arms out in front of a giant cupcake. “I could swim in this icing Quinn! Well… not swim, but you know.”

“What about school? What about dating? What about our lives? If our parents find us like this…”

“Well did you brew a shrinking potion?”

“We haven’t covered that in class… Did you?”

“Maybe it was your sister, but she could have mixed it in something we drank. Or maybe someone cast a shrinking spell. Like I said, I’m not worried about it.”

Just then, Quinn’s sister walked into the room, smiling slyly. In her hand was a wand, her mother’s wand. She bent over the counter and laughed at the boys.

“Mom is going to be so mad that you used her wand,” yelled Quinn. “You know how powerful she is. I’m surprised the spell didn’t kill you, Pam.”

“Who said anything about me casting a spell?” Pam pretended to smash her brother. “Hey, I was trying out something I learned from my studies. But this is way more fun than shrinking a cup or a mouse.”

“So you had your fun Pam. Un-shrink us!”

“Or what?”

“Or I tell mom you were using her wand.”

“Not if I put you in a jar. I’ll just tell her that you went to Mark’s for the weekend.”

Mark had been eating the gigantic cupcake until he heard his name. He was covered in icing and almost slipped as he ran over to the edge of the table. Even though he was the size of a gummy bear and may be like that forever, he was laughing and jumping around. But it may have been a sugar high.

“Mom!”

And just like that, Pam grabbed her teeny brother and his friend and ran into her room. She had a glass tank waiting for them. Quinn thought it was weird that this tank had a small living space in it. Did his sister seriously believe their parents wouldn’t notice he was gone? And Mark was an only child. Both of his parents would be calling the authorities once it got dark. Was she going to lie and say that Mark was spending the weekend at their house?

She dropped the boys into the tank and closed the lid, but did not realize that a corner of the top was left wide open. Quinn did. When her shadow disappeared down the hall, he got to work.

“What are you doing?” Mark was sitting on the tiny couch and eating a shrunken pizza. “This is nice. We could stay here for at least the weekend.”

Quinn was already hard at work. He was pulling toothpicks from a wall his sister made in order to make a small ladder. “No way dude. Once I get my wand, I’m going to change us back and put her in here.”

“You don’t even know how to do that.”

“I can figure it out. Trust me… Now get over here and help.”

Mark sighed loudly and got up to hold the pieces of wood together so Mark could wrap them securely. “Why can’t you just chill out? It could be worse.”

“She can’t just do whatever she wants. When she learns new spells, she can’t practice them on me… or you… with our mother’s wand. It has so much power and she could seriously get hurt.”

“Why doesn’t she use her own wand?”

“No clue. Maybe my mom confiscated it.”

The ladder was complete. It had taken over two hours and half of the material that Pam used to make the living space. Mark and Quinn were panting from the work, but they were done. Time to make the climb.

“I’ll go first,” Quinn volunteered. “I can get to my room and get my wand. Pam will be lucky if I don’t see Mom on the way to my room.”

“Wait,” Mark reached in his pocket. “Why didn’t we just make the ladder with magic?”

“Because I don’t have my wand.” Quinn’s eyebrow raised. “Aren’t you listening to me? Have you been listening to me AT ALL in the past, like, four hours we have been the size of a gummy bear?”

His friend was put his hand in his other pocket. “No, I was. I listened to about thirty percent of what you said. But why do we have to use your wand? We can use mine if you want.”

“WHAT?!” Quinn nearly punched his friend. “Why the hell did you not mention this before?”

“I just thought about it…” Mark smiled again.

“I have been mentioning it since we got shrunk.” Quinn was yelling so loud that the glass walls of their temporary prison were ringing. “We could have avoided this whole situation if you just told me you had your wand on you this whole damn time.”

“Maybe I wanted to be tiny for a bit.”

Quinn was at a loss for words. He snatched his friend’s wand and climbed out of the ladder with Mark at his heels. They hopped out of the tank and climbed down to the floor. Quinn flicked the wand and grew back to normal size.

“Hey!” Mark squealed from the floor. “What about me?”

“I thought you said you wanted to be tiny for a while.” Quinn decided he would keep his friend the size of a gummy bear for a while. At least until the end of the day.

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