9.15.2014

So over the weekend, I attended my first ever public signing.

Well, that's not entirely true. Once upon a time, I traveled down South and did a signing. But it was nothing like this one.

The first one was a couple hour event. Penned Con was two full days of signing from 8am to 4pm.

Say what????

Oh, yes. It was long.

But awesome.

(More on that word later.)

And I had so much fun!! I saw some of my most favorite people in the world, signed A TON of books! And met all kinds of new friends.

Also. We ate amazing food and enjoyed the city that is St. Louis.

All in all, I'm giving this trip an A+.

If I was my high school science teacher, I would give it an A++. But that's another story for a different day.

Basically, I had an epic time in a fantastic city and hung out with super cool people for days.

And today, I thought I would be exhausted. Not just exhausted, but EXHAUSTED.

I thought I would be bone-tired and so over everything I could cry.

I'm not any of those things! I'm somehow majorly energized and can't wait to get back to work!!! Which is good news because I have a crap-ton of it.

Ha!

Not to mention laundry to catch up on.

No, seriously. Nobody mention laundry because it makes me want to die STRESSES me out.

I think I'm getting hives.

Ahem.

Whilst this weekend was incredible and spectacular and all things fabulous, there was also this huge learning curve for me.

And by that, I mean, basically not a curve at all. It was more like a 90 degree angle that shot up to skyscraper-tall proportions before taking a sharp right and leveling out.

Translation: I learned a lot.

A lot-a lot.

And in true Top Ten form, I'm going to share all that beautiful knowledge with you in a Penned Con Wrap-Up!!!

1. I have the GREATEST Street Team in the entire world. NOBODY can beat my Street Team. They are seriously the sweetest, funniest, funnest, most gorgeous girls I've ever met. And they are awesome. We had dinner Thursday night and laughed so hard my stomach hurt at the end of the night. They are hilarious!!! And just so generous.

I want to live near them so we can hang out all the time.

Which, theoretically, I know is probably not possible. But I'm playing around with the idea of buying an island and then just moving all my favorite people that live around the globe to that island, which I will dub The Republic of Higginson.

Don't worry. It's going to be amazing.

No taxes.

And no last call.

(Obviously, I have my priorities straight.)

2. Hotels SUCK.

All hotels. Everywhere.

Has anyone ever stayed in a hotel and thought: Wow. That bed was amazing. I never want to leave here.

????

No.

Those beds are the WORST.

And it's just uncomfortable to be in a space that isn't yours with your crap everywhere.

Maybe that was just me?

But this was actually a nice hotel. It's not like I can really complain about the facilities.

Except for. The sink leaked. And it totally destroyed my makeup case!!!!!

So boo for that. But mainly I hated the bed. And the sleeping. And it was amazing to be home in my own bed last night.

But honestly, I feel like that whenever I stay in a hotel. I can't even make the room service and housekeeping worth it. I prefer my own place and my own space.

Also, on the second morning, I ordered a pot of coffee for the room. Because honestly... I cannot function without coffee.

It was $15.

For a pot of coffee.

WHAT????? Who does that?? Who would make coffee so expensive??? Do they have no heart? No soul? Don't they know I NEED it? I can't function without it??

It's like they hate me.

And they trick you by pricing the coffee at $8.50. Still a lot of money. But a more acceptable price. Then they stab you in the back with all their service charges and delivery fees.

Plus, after we tipped, it was probably like an $18 pot of black coffee.

Oy.

3. I have the LONGEST name in the world!!!!!!!!!

And it seemed to get longer and longer and longer as the days wore on.

Rachel Higginson.

You  try writing that over and over and over.

Even my table mate, Felicia Tatum, couldn't get over how long my name was!

So. I've decided to change it. I will now be writing under the name R.H.

No, just kidding.

I won't really. What will actually happen, is that I'll just keep complaining about it forever and blaming my husband, since it's really HIS name.

(Higginson)

To be fair, on my wedding day, his grandmother warned me about the last name. She said, it never gets shorter. Ever.

I thought it was cute at the time.

Not so much now.

:)

4. I need to get better at my on-the-spot signing. For. Real.

I watch all kinds of authors just whip that stuff out.

They glance at the name tag, scrawl something witty and then get their name on it. Boom. Done.

It's honestly impressive.

I stall with meaningless small talk as I internally panic and try to figure out something cutesy to say!!!

And let me tell you about this internal panic. It's a VERY real thing!!! I'm lucky I didn't break out into sweats or hives!

These people are standing over you, waiting for your signature and all you can think about is the fact that you've just completely forgotten any kind of spelling-ability you've accumulated over the years and you're not even sure if you can remember how to spell your own name!!! Plus, add in the extra pressure of having to spell THEIR name and things go downhill quickly.

I clearly need more practice in signing books.

5. Sitting across from Amy Bartol is the best thing that can ever happen to you.

I love that lady.

She is hilarious. And awesome. And so fun. And if you haven't read her books before. YOU NEED TO. Like, right now.

Her Under Different Stars is cleaning up at these award ceremonies. She won several at Utopia. And now at Penned Con, she won THREE.

I just got my own signed copy of the book this weekend. And I cannot wait to dive in.

If you're looking for a phenomenal YA paranormal book. Go check this one out!!! I promise you won't be disappointed.

Under Different Stars by Amy Bartol

6. Everything is Awesome.

Everything IS awesome.

Or at least now it is.

So, at these things, you do a lot of small talk. Or introduction talk. I mean, I met so many people it was kind of crazy.

And a lot of them like your books so they talk about that, but then a lot more of them don't even know who you are, so you have to sell them your books.

I felt a little bit like I was at a craft fair pedaling my wares.

Anyway. I realized yesterday that "awesome" had not only infiltrated my vocabulary, but set up a permanent dictatorial regime.

I am apparently a walking-talking version of the Lego Movie because I keep using awesome as my go-to descriptor.

Did you have an awesome time? This book is so awesome. That sounds awesome! I hope the kids were just awesome for my mom. Could this weekend be any more awesome? Oh, my gosh, those shoes are AWESOME!!

It's so obnoxious.

And every time I say it, I get this stupid high school cheer-leading chant stuck in my head.

I wasn't even a cheerleader!!!!

A-W-E   S-O-M-E. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome are we!!

Hooray!

Bleh.

So, I apologize if you've heard me use awesome in the last five days. Ignore it. Ignore it forever.

I'm going on a strict detox starting right now. I'm going to eradicate the over-usage of that dumb word ONCE AND FOR ALL!!!!!

7. No work gets done at these things.

Not an ounce of it.

First, there is no time. You have to be there in the morning at 8. And you have to look good somehow.

Don't they know, I can't put my face on until noon??? I'm just not that coordinated so early in the morning! My fingers and appendages seriously don't even work.

And then you're there until 4. Then there are dinner plans to make and amazing people to hang out with and booze to drink.

There is no time to write words or think of other stories.

No. Time.

And if, per chance, you do find a few solitary moments of down time, trust me when I say, there is NO writing happening.

In fact, you can't write. Your brain has been pushed to its limits for hours upon hours. You have a talking/thinking/comprehending threshold and you've managed to push beyond it into unknown territory where you'll probably be devoured by wild, rabid wolves.

No, when you have downtime you find yourself sitting still and just staring. Staring at nothing. Thinking of nothing. Saying nothing.

There is just nothing left of you.

You need to plug in to something and recharge.

And that is a fact. Because in 20 minutes you're going to meet up for dinner and you're going to need to able to speak again. And speak loudly. And laugh until your eyes water and your cheeks hurts.

8. If you tip a bartender $20 at the beginning of a meal... she will be your best friend forever.

Okay, we learned this one on accident.... but it's so true! That bartender had NEVER given better service. And by that, I mean, she gave us whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted it.

She was awesome.

And if you happen to be in St. Louis, you REALLY need to eat at a place called The Shaved Duck.

It was an amazing meal with delicious drinks. Actually, probably the best meal we ate all trip.

So yum.

And you don't really need to accidentally tip $20. I think they will be awesome no matter what.

9. This next one is huge.

I mean... epic.

Life-changing.

Are you ready for it???

I'm not sure if you are...

I'm not sure if I'm ready for it.

Ok. Here we go.

Ahem.

I'm getting better with hugging strangers.

Ah!!!

You know, I've had this massive fear of it for years. I don't mind hugging family by any means. And my children are showered with affection. But honestly, the idea of hugging complete strangers makes me break out in hives stresses me out!!!!!

For real.

I've never been a very touchy-feely person. At least not until I got married and had kids. And even then, I've really restricted myself to those five people.

But that doesn't mean I never get hugged.

Oh. No.

People. As in other people. As in all kinds of other people. Yeah. They'll hug you no matter how you feel about it.

In fact, I think huggers are really rather aggressive about it! They just attack you. They wrap their arms around you. They shove your face in their hair. They hold you to them. And they Do. Not. Let. Go.

What is up with that???

What if I haven't showered??? What if my breath is rank? What if I have some weird skin disease that is highly contagious??? And you didn't even ask! You just grabbed me and forced your hug on me!!!

And worse.

What if those things are true about YOU????

I had a bartender hug me once.

He just walked right up to me and hugged me without warning.

I'll never be the same .

In my real life, this isn't a problem. Everyone knows I have an issue with it. And either they don't care- which I usually know they don't care and can expect it. Or, they do care and don't hug me.

None of these authors know that about me.

And let's be honest, I feel douchey enough so that I'm never like, Um, yeah, I don't hug.

Well... it's breaking me down converting me apparently. I didn't panic once all weekend. I sat through all the hugs. And I didn't hate them.

So boom!

Even the awkward ones. The ones that I wanted to stop for THEIR benefit. Not just mine.

I'm calling this, Hug Immersion Therapy.

You hug someone enough and they become desensitized accepting of it.

It's working, authors of the world. It's working.

Just don't expect me to initiate a hug in the near future. Or ever.

10. I need to go to more of these.

Like ASAP.

Well, not ASAP exactly.

But soon. And often. And everywhere.

I just LOVED it. And I loved getting to meet so many great people face-to-face. People I talk to all the time on the internet and just haven't run into in real life before. And new readers that I had no idea read my books!

Also, convincing other people to read my books!!

That was fantastic.

And other authors. And Mark Coker. <---- biggest="" celebrity="" e="" fan="" founded="" he="" major="" me.="" moment.="" my="" p="" smashwords.="" that="" the="" there="" to="" was="">
I loved it. And Amy and Rick Miles (of Redcoat PR) were so awesome! The entire event just flowed smoothly and I was so very impressed.

Great job Amy and Rick!!

I will definitely be making myself more available at signings. I'm a signing convert. You've converted me.

And now maybe I can convert you!!!

Next time, we'll go together!




9.10.2014

I did that on purpose. With the title.

I think I'm clever.

I'm not always.

But mainly, I don't want you to think I'm a complete idiot.

:)

So, I'm in this incredible study right now. It's called Restless by Jennie Allen. And it is one of those books that you can feel revolutionizing your entire existence page by page.

I mean, it's THAT good.

You will read that book and never be the same.

I promise.

So, the book is all about finding out what you were made for. Made to do.

And even though I feel like I have this pretty clear picture about my role in life- to be a writer- I have still picked up incredible thoughts with every single page.

So. Go read it!!!

But, moving on to the point of this particular blog.

I feel like, if you're trying to be a writer. If you have opened a word doc and you feel a story brewing inside you. If you've seen this story through to the end and feel compelled to publish it in one way or another, then you also feel like your purpose in life is to write.

Writing. Being a writer. Struggling as a writer. And dealing with everything in the writer-world is not an easy task.

Instead, it's probably the hardest thing you'll ever do.

I messaged an old friend of mine this week. I think she needs to write a book. She has a beautiful voice and such a unique way of telling stories that every time she writes something, even as simple as a facebook post, I am drawn in. We haven't been friends for years and years, but thanks to social media, we can still follow each other's lives.

Anyway, I messaged her after I started a different book (One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp) and encouraged her to write.

She mentioned that she was already writing one- which made me so excited. We talked for a while and then she said something about this whole thing sounding like the perfect career.

It took me back to before I had this job. Before I could call it a job. Back to when all I had were words on a page and dreams and hopes and a drive to make other people read those words.

It did sound perfect then.

But now that I'm living it, I can firmly tell you, it is not.

In fact, it is so imperfect that sometimes I now dream about any. other. job.

Just kidding.

Well... Just half-kidding.

Seriously. This is hard work. From start to finish. From dawn until well after midnight. Every single day of your life.

And then, after all that... you get to read bad reviews and listen to all the feedback telling you YOU SUCK.

So no. It's far, far, far from perfect.

And that's why I've come to the conclusion that either all writers are insane. Or. We feel this innate call that won't let us do anything else. We feel such an irresistible drive to write and publish that we put up with everything else because there is no other way for us.

We can't help it.

We can't ignore it.

And we certainly can't survive without it.

If you're not a writer, right now you're thinking.. You really are all bananas. You people are crazy.

If you're a writer, no matter what kind, fiction, non-fiction, blogger, journal-er, poet, right now you're thinking AMEN! Preach it. Praise, Jesus, hallelujah. (That last one was an Iggy Azaela reference. Just in case you didn't catch it.)

So, here you are with all these thoughts and this insistent need to put words on a page, but that's it. You're in the Now What stage of life.

What do you write? And how do you make what you write good? Worth reading? Worth publishing?

There are entire worlds in your head. Characters that shout at you and whisper to you and that have all these different personalities and voices and you just don't know where to start.

Well, besides the obvious which is to just PICK ONE. I'm going to give you the best piece of advice I can give you.

Write what you know.

Ok, I might be stealing this from Anne of Avonlea. But the truth is there.

And it's about the purest truth I can give you.

Write. What. You. Know.

This could mean lots of different things. It could mean that you write about the town you grew up in or base a fictional place on the town you grew up in. Or places that you go. Experiences you have experienced.

Or, on a more useful level, I mean, on the things you know inside of you.

Make your characters come alive by putting pieces of you into them. Make your fictional relationships ring true to your readers by giving them problems you've faced in your own relationships.

Not exactly what happened between you and such and such person, but the concept.

The hardest thing to write is emotions. I think anyway. To put real emotions into your story and make those characters feel.

It's uncomfortable. It often feels silly. And it maybe seems over the top.

But emotions are our biggest weapon as writers. This is how we slay stories and give them immortality.

You have to be honest. And authentic. And you have to sweat, cry and bleed right along with your characters.

I'll give you an example.

I write horror.

It took me a little while to admit this to myself. But it's true.

I write Zombie Horror.

Here's the thing. I don't watch horror movies.

I don't even watch horror movie previews. I turn the station or leave the room or cover my eyes and hum camp songs.

I am a big ol' chicken.

I'm trying to watch Supernatural right now and I literally can't watch it by myself. My husband has to be in the room and then I have to go to bed before he does and make sure I'm tucked in tight and spooning a pillow.

I'm scared of everything!!

So if I don't watch horror or Zombie shows or anything remotely scary... how do I write something that terrifies readers?

I don't have to watch horror to feel afraid.

I know what it's like to experience fear. I have been scared to the point my heart pounds in my chest, my blood rushes through my ears and my fingers tremble.

I have raced up the stairs at the end of the night when the main house is dark because I can imagine monsters chasing me.

I have felt fear acutely and therefore I know it. I can write about it.

That applies to all avenues of writing. Adrenaline. I might not have ever been in a physical fight before but I've been so full of adrenaline that I could imagine what feels like to have to struggle for life, for breath.

The whole love-triangle thing. Of which I seem to write a lot of.

I personally have never loved two boys at the same time.

In fact, I've only ever loved one boy my entire life.

But that love is strong enough that imagining loving two people with that kind of intensity seems pretty shattering to me.

Do you get the idea?

Inauthentic writing does not draw a reader in. It does not motivate the reader to stay. And it does not encourage the reader to come back.

You want readers to turn into fans that turn into loyal fans? Then you have to give them something real.

Something so raw and true that they are moved by it.

Write what you know.

And write it so that others know you know it.

Write it so that they know it too.  

9.08.2014

I need to get into yoga.

Asap.

And that is for real!!! My writer's hump is out of control and I have terrible posture. It's messing up my already messed up back in major ways.

Le sigh.

Oh, wait. This isn't a therapy session???

Sorry.

But it's all true!

And it's just one of my excuses, because I feel like I've been really absent from the Interents of late. And it's because I've been working so much.

Also. I've been trying this thing where my personal life is balanced with my work life... and... it's time consuming. :)

I mean, not time-consuming. But, it means I ignore the Internet most of the time because when I do have computer time, I'm trying to get words on a page.

The good news is, my house is clean!!! My laundry is semi-caught up (But when is laundry ever fully caught up??? Never.). Dinner has been happening on a nightly basis. Major improvement from the last two years. And my kids are doing well in school.

So whew.

And I'm mostly on target to get all these books out to you this month!!!!!

That is...

That is amazing.

I can't even tell you how amazing. I haven't been on time with a deadline (Other than L&D which doesn't really count) in... um... Since Fearless Magic??

Um. Yeah...

I'm awesome.

Anyway, I'm tentatively thinking The Redeemable Prince will be released around the 28th or 29th.

Hey!! It's still September. :)

And Brazing, the second book in The Forged in Fire series that I write with Lila Felix, will be out the 20th!!!

What?? Two full length books from me this month!!!

Hopefully. Keep your fingers crossed. Super crossed. Maybe your toes too.

But that is the plan!!

Also, there's been a little bit of confusion? The Redeemable Prince is the LAST book in the Star-Crossed Series. The very last one!!!

I think.

:)

Also, the Mash-Up is coming next month!!! This small book has nothing to do with any of my series. Not really. I'm basically taking some of my couples and throwing them into the Love and Decay world for a while.

Yep, Eden and Kiran fighting Zombies!! Get ready.

That will come out the week of Halloween.

The Heart, the final book in the Siren Series comes out in November!!!

And the Five Stages of Falling in Love, my next contemporary, comes out in December. Along with the release of Love and Decay, Season Three.

Oh, my goodness. So. Much. To. Look. For.

That's a lot when I list it out like that!!!

Just to warn you, my 2015 is going to slow way way way way down.

But I'm excited to wrap up a few of these series. And I'm really, really excited to give you The Five Stages of Falling in Love.

This book is holding my heart captive right now. Like, we're in serious hostage negotiations.

I'm very anxious to hear what you guys think of it.

Final announcement!

I'm leaving this Thursday for Penned Con in St. Louis!!!!! There are still tickets available! So if you haven't picked yours up yet, go get them now!!! And then come see me!! I'll have books for sale and be signing for two full days.

It's going to be a great time. I know you want to come! :)

I'll see you back here on Writer Wednesday!! Be on the look out for some teasers tomorrow!!!!

9.03.2014

Does the title of this blog make it sound like I'm throwing around gang names??? Insert Tupac music in the background.

California love...

Ha! Just kidding!!

Those are actually super important people you need to complete the process of writing your book. And bonus, they're the topic of my Writer Wednesday today!!!

Crit Partners and Beta Readers.

Writing can be a very lonely process. Not only are you the only one involved in the actual writing process, but most of the time you're the only one that believes in what you're writing. You're the only one that can see the project all the way through to the end. You're the only one that knows it has potential to be great, that you're going to work your arse off to make it great and that once you finish this book, nobody can stop you.

You might have the loving support of your family. The encouragement of your friends. And the drive of a bestsellers list calling your name.

Still, when you sit down to the computer, when your fingers clickity-clack away and when it's 3am and you're on your seventh cup of coffee, you're going to look around and realize... You're alone.

You're alone with a bunch of imaginary voices in your head and one foot in reality and one foot in a world you COMPLETELY made up and does not actually exist.

Oh, sorry. I didn't mean to make you feel crazy.

That's an entirely separate post.

Ahem.

Anyway. Part of being a writer is being alone. And being okay with being alone. You can't sit up in your head most of your days and have imaginary conversations between people that don't really exist and always be surrounded by people.

It just doesn't happen.

So you're alone. But that doesn't mean you have to be lonely.

Professionally speaking.

There are two kinds of people that come alongside you from the get go.

And it's important to note that these people exist before your Street Team and sometimes even before your Editor.

Such as the Crit Partner and all your wonderful, generous Beta Readers.

So who are these people? What roles do they play in your life?

First, let's start with the Crit Partner.

As in Critique Partner.

As in the person that reads your work as you go along and judges the crap out of it.

This person is invaluable. She/he will help your characters stay consistent. Will alert you when the plot line starts to go astray. And most importantly, encourage you to finish.

They see what you see, but wait patiently for you to create the rest of it.

Sometimes they even see what you DON'T see.

This person needs to be someone you can not only trust implicitly, but that you also don't mind taking criticism from.

It is very hard to take negative critique. No matter who you are or what stage of writing you're in.

But just because it's hard and you don't like it, doesn't mean you shouldn't consider it anyway.

Now, I say that. But I also want to be clear. Every person has an opinion unique to them and their personal taste.

So while you should listen to your Crit Partner, only you can envision the completed vision of your project. It is up to you to sort through the criticism and decide what to do with it. You have to be mature, objective and know that you're appealing to a reader in your Crit Partner and that they probably have better perspective than you.

Be smart about it. Don't be emotional.

Emotions ruin everything. :)

This is also why it's a good idea to only have one Crit Partner. Find someone you can trust of course, but also that enjoys reading that particular genre.

I have more than one Crits. I have three that I go to regularly. But depending on the book and genre. One of my reading partners doesn't like Paranormal. So I only give her the contemporary stuff. One of mine reads everything but my novella series. And the other cannot wait to get her hands on Love and Decay.

They read almost everything of mine before it's edited. Which basically puts them up for sainthood consideration. But they are lovely enough to look beyond my mistakes and to the meat of the story.

They also hold my hand through the writing process and promise me that it's not crap. Or if it is, they remind me to fix it in the read-through.

Now, finding a Crit Partner can be difficult. Especially someone who is willing to give you their time on your schedule. Plus, learning to trust their opinion is never easy.

Like I said, it's  painful agonizing terrible torturous HARD to hear critique. Even if it's not necessarily negative. Even if it will improve your story a thousand times.

It's still hard.

That doesn't mean we don't do it. Nope. We swallow the bitter pill and listen.

And listen carefully.

Do you hate listening??? I do! Truthfully, I am one of the WORST listeners I know. I don't listen to advice. Or instructions. Or other people talking. I just do my own thing and worry about mowing people over later.

But this is a skill I have worked and worked and worked on over the years. It's not easy. And it will never get easy.

Don't expect it to.

And really... don't want it to.

So what if you have to wrestle between your Crit Partners assessment and the hopes and dreams you have for those same characters? Your Crit Partner isn't going to know everything but her opinion is still valuable. And guess what! You don't know everything either!

It's in that wrestling, that battle for direction that you find the truth. Maybe you were wrong. Massively wrong. Or maybe she was. Or maybe the real answer lies somewhere in between the two of you.

It's your job to find out. And her job to show you that you need to find out.

This leads us to the next question: How do I find a Crit Partner?

It's actually easier than you might think.

All of mine are dear friends. And they always have been. But I don't trust easily and so for me to find opinions that I can listen to, I need someone whose opinion I trust in everything. I need to know them on a bigger platform than just writing.

I say that, but you should know, mine have changed over the years. I started with one Partner that was perfect for me at the time. She read everything I wrote chapter by chapter and gave great feedback. Well, since then, her life has gotten incredibly busy and can't do that for me anymore. The three partners I have now, came about naturally and organically.

But I doubt they will be able to critique forever. Eventually, they will move on to other things and I will search out new Crits.

Before I published Reckless, I gave it to two of the most critical readers I could think of. They didn't even necessarily read the same genre, but I wanted an honest opinion if it was complete crap or if it had a chance.

They were very honest with me.

I published anyway.

:)

You could do this. Go to friends that you trust or respect. Or people you know just read a bunch and have a good overview of the book world.

Or you can meet people online.

I've heard of plenty of authors doing this. People you meet in forums or KDP boards or street teams you're on together.

There are enough people interested in doing this that you shouldn't have many problems.

I would be careful though!

Obviously plagiarism is a huge issue these days. And the last thing you want is to fall into a toxic relationship with someone, only to have them steal all your ideas. If you're going to use someone online that you don't know in real life, I suggest coming up with a contract between the two of you. Something like a Google doc that you can both sign and that makes you both comfortable.

Something you can show a lawyer if you need to. :)

They should be as wary of you as you are of them.

Make sure they can't steal your work, or share your work before you're ready and you've given them the go ahead. Make sure the partnership is mutually beneficial. I wouldn't make it lengthy or put anything in there about time constraints and what not. People are busy and if your partner is too busy to read your work, find a new partner. Don't throw a contract at them and make them read something they don't want to.

How will that help you? It won't.

But protect yourself. That is numero uno. Always protect yourself and your work.

My general rule is one or two Crit Partners per manuscript. And no more than that.

If you want more people to read your manuscript than you need to find Beta Readers.

This is the next stage.

Your Beta Reader group can be a handful of people or just one person. It's really up to what you feel comfortable with.

However, you need to be careful with the number of opinions you're bringing in. Too many opinions and you'll never figure out what to do. They will all be shouting at you to go a different way and you'll lose sight of your original vision.

However, having one Beta Reader that just loves anything you write and can't think of a single thing wrong with your manuscript, is also a terrible idea.

Your Betas need to be tough and critical and sometimes downright mean. :)

I should say this too. My Betas are different than my Street Team. My Betas always get my manuscripts before I hand it out to my Street Team.

And here is why.

I have four or five Betas, depending on the project. I have 95 people in my Street Team.

I have to make decisions to change the plot or reword things or whatever BEFORE I give it to my Street Team, or could you imagine what would happen???

Mass Chaos.

95 different opinions equal me not knowing up from down or right from left.

I would be so confused. And if I gave that power to my Street Team, it would only be a matter of time before I hurt feelings.

With that kind of influx of opinions, naturally, I'm going to float toward the opinions that agree completely with me I "like" the best. And ignore those that hurt my feelings or my character's feelings that don't line up exactly the way I want them to.

My Betas are honest, insightful and excited about the story line. They have conversations with me about where my plots are going. They are invested in my characters. And they cannot wait to read what I give them.

Those are invaluable character traits.

Betas also don't get anything I write until after I am finished with edits.

That way if I missed anything, they can point it out to me. Although, I rely on my Street Team to do this too- as far as grammatical errors and what not.

As far as not using my Street Team to Beta, there are more reasons than just the sheer number of opinions.

I also rely on my Street Team for honest and fair reviews. I don't expect them to slap five stars on everything I write. And I don't want them to. Getting five stars on everything I publish will never further my career. It will never make me a better writer.

And I want to be a better writer. Always.

Beta reading while critical, is meant to be critical. I would never ask my Betas to review because they would rip me apart even though they probably still loved the story.

Plus, I want to take their thoughts and criticism and work with it. Then I hand it over to my Street Team and ask them to read it as entertainment.

I don't want them to read each word and weigh it's importance. My Street Team is a representation of my readership as a whole. And I want their natural, relaxed reactions.

And then I want their honest reviews.

I hope it makes sense why I keep them separate.

They are both incredibly important to me. They just play different roles in my publishing process.

You can find Betas the same way you find Crit Partners. Only, I find it easier to find Betas. I have lots of people messaging me with offers. And I have other authors I can and do go to.

The Betas I trust the most though are usually my real-life friends. And my mom.

My mom lets me hear it when she has an opinion.

Truth.

And I love her for it.

So, you're writing your first manuscript and you don't really want to show anyone yet??? Tough luck.

You need both these groups of people. And you need them now.

Be willing to accept criticism and be willing to change your thinking. You possibly, maybe... probably do not write gold. And your work is going to need HELP!!!!

That's what these people are here for. They are your team. They are on your side. And they should want you to succeed and do well.

Be kind to them and listen to them.

But make sure there is a "them" to go to.

PS. I am taking most of these Writer Wednesdays from questions I get over the week or comments I see. If you ever have a topic you want me to discuss specifically, don't hesitate to ask! I'd be more than happy to cover it.
   




8.29.2014

I have a lot going on today!!!!

In the book world that is.

Well... in real life too I suppose.

Tonight, I'm going on a triple date to see a hypnotist! I've never seen one in real life before. I'm very intrigued. It's supposed to be a comedy act, so that makes it even better!!!

Plus, the couple's we're going with are some of my most favorite people in the world. I love them. And we usually laugh until it hurts. I love it when that happens!

Anyway. I'm not sure you care about any of that. :)

So.. .book related stuff. And. Go.

Fateful Magic came out today!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yippee!!!!!

I've been telling my betas that this story is pretty fluffy. I mean... there's definitely substance, but it's just all gushing love and mushiness. And the kind of love so great your heart hurts. And it's about Talbott and Lilly.

It's the story I've wanted to write for them for a long time.

Here it is...

Fateful Magic for Amazon

Fateful Magic for B&N

Okay... Then on top of that... The paperback for Love and Decay, Volume One came out today!!!!!!!!!

So now you can own your very own physical copy. You can hold it in your hands. And rock it to sleep. And spoon with it on the long, cold nights. And kiss it good morning. And... Okay. That's probably enough.

You get the idea.

It can be yours. In your hands. And all that greatness!!!

Eventually it will be available on most online retailers, even Barnes and Noble. But for today, it's just on Amazon.

Still. It's Prime!!! Hello, free two-day shipping!!!!!!

:)

Love and Decay, Volume One in Paperback

And the last thing you can get of mine today... although this one is FREE... is Striking!!!!

Striking is the contemporary NA I wrote with Lila Felix. We are working on the second book right now. Actually, right-right now. I'm taking a break from it as we speak.

Striking is free through the weekend!!!!!! And even though it's in a series, each book is a separate stand-alone. So don't hesitate to download this one and grab your next great weekend read!!

Striking for FREE!!!!!!!