April 27, 2017

April #InkRipples Workshop - Revision

Welcome to the last week of the #InkRipples revision workshop. I hope you’ve found the revision tips and exercises fun and enlightening. If you missed the last three week’s tips and exercises, be sure to hop on over when you’re done here. 

Revision Tip #7

Double check the end of each chapter to make sure it lures the reader to continue. Then double check the beginning of each chapter to make sure it stands on it’s own.

As often as possible, you want the end of each chapter to be a mini cliff hanger. There are times where the actions slows to a logical end and a cliff hanger would feel wrong, but in order to keep your reader turning pages you want them to think, “Crud! What happens next?” Or, “Oh my gosh, what is he going to do when he finds out she did that?” Keep them turning pages until the wee hours of the morning. ;)

However the beginning of the chapter shouldn't start in the middle of action and should establish who is in the scene. Even if the chapter before ended with her pulling a gun on her boyfriend, the beginning of the chapter has to state, Leslie’s hand didn’t even shake as she pointed the gun at Trevor’s heart. Because what if your reader did finally close the book and go to sleep at the end of the previous chapter and then the next day they had to take their cat to the vet after it got a reed stuck up its nose and their left rear blinker went out on the way to school, so they had to stop at the auto parts store after work, and then their mom made them go to the fundraiser dinner, so they didn’t get back to the book for two days. You don’t want them to pick up the book and read Her hand didn't even shake as she pointed the gun at his heart and think, “Wait. What? Is this Leslie or Courtney? Trevor or Kyle?” And then have to page back to catch up again. Instead, they pick it up and see that Leslie is holding a gun on Trevor. They smile and think, Oh yeah. Awesome.

Revision Tip #8

Have fun. Seriously. You will experience a myriad of feelings about yourself and your writing as you go through revisions. You’ll alternate between, “I suck – why do I do this?” and “This paragraph is the most brilliant arrangement of words – ever!” But don’t lose sight of the reason you write. Because you love it. If you feel like the manuscript is a crap ton of trash, then stop revising and just read. You’ll find the story you’re trying to tell again and you’ll be positively inspired to dive back in to revisions and chip away at the caked on mud.

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Now let's get to work. But instead of an exercise, share with us your favorite revision tip. Which tip do you feel helps you bring the best out of your work?

Thanks for joining me this month!

Join us for #InkRipples in May when we talk about fairy tales!


#Inkripples is a themed meme hosted by Mary Waibel, Katie L. Carroll, and Kai Strand posting on the first Monday of every month. To participate compose your own post regarding the theme of the month, and link back to the three host blogs. Feel free to post whenever you want during the month, but be sure to include #inkripples when you promote so readers can find you. The idea is that we toss a word or idea into the inkwell and each post is a new ripple. There is no wrong interpretation. Themes and images and more information can be found here.

April 17, 2017

April #InkRipples - Workshop on Revision

Welcome back for another week of #InkRipples revision workshop. I thought it would be fun to not only offer revision tips throughout the month, but to also stage some revision exercises. If you missed the last two week’s tips and exercises, be sure to hop on over when you’re done here.


Revision Tip #5

Read backward. Start at the last chapter, revise it. Go to second last, revise it…etc. Don’t actually start at the last word and work your way to the first. Too hard. However, by reading backward you will avoid getting caught up in the story making it easier to spot mistakes.


Revision Tip #6

During one of your revision passes: make a timeline. It is so distracting for a reader when your calendar doesn’t add up. If you mention that two weeks has passed and then the character refers to an event as having just happened yesterday, you lose your reader. If you have a pregnant character who is sporting a full belly after only a few months – problem. Timeline inconsistencies are easy for the author to lose track of, but really easy for the reader to spot. We get distracted by things like character consistency, not missing an ‘and’ or a ‘the,’ and trying to remember what season it is. But a reader doesn’t get buried in our story the sane way we do. The story unfolds for them as they go through. Of course they will spot inconsistencies easier – they didn’t see the previous six versions of the manuscript. They’ve only seen the one version and if you have a person training for the Olympics and they are in top form in six months – readers are gonna cry foul.

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Okay let’s get to work.

I’m currently revising the blurb for my time travel romance, Again for Love, which is set to publish under my other pseudonym, LA Dragoni, later this year. I know my weakness is writing a tight blurb. So, how would you tighten this bad boy up?
 ***
A life must be lost. Who will make the ultimate sacrifice?

Lawson lives a simple life; a job at a brewery, basketball and hockey leagues, and an eccentric lifelong friend and roommate intent on discovering time travel.

Then life becomes complicated when Jory enters it. Lawson feels an immediate attraction to her from the first day she starts work at the brewery. Yet their first couple attempts at dating end with him thinking it just isn’t meant to be. Jory however, has a different opinion and continues to pursue him.

When one date ends tragically Lawson turns to his best friend to use the experimental time travel program he’s invented. Except when Lawson relives that fateful night it ends just as horrifically. Each time he resets time, it ends with a loss.

It’s clear a life must be lost and Lawson is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. But he isn’t the only one playing with time. Will he save Jory by giving his own life or will someone beat him to it?
 ***


#Inkripples is a themed meme hosted by Mary Waibel, Katie L. Carroll, and Kai Strand posting on the first Monday of every month. To participate compose your own post regarding the theme of the month, and link back to the three host blogs. Feel free to post whenever you want during the month, but be sure to include #inkripples when you promote so readers can find you. The idea is that we toss a word or idea into the inkwell and each post is a new ripple. There is no wrong interpretation. Themes and images and more information can be found here.

Cover Reveal - Pirate Island by Katie L. Carroll

I'm super excited to share my good writing buddies new book cover for her upcoming middle grade novel, Pirate Island. I met Katie through MuseItUp Publishing. She edited my middle grade, Beware of the White. I LOVED working with her. Then her book, Elixir Bound came out and I loved it too. I've had the privilege of critiquing a version of another young adult novel she currently has out on submission - that I STILL think about more than a year later. She's that good. In other words, put Pirate Island high up on your to-read list. I am!


PIRATE ISLAND
by Katie L. Carroll (katielcarroll.com)
Cover Illustration by Susan Tait Porcaro (susantaitporcaro.com)
Coming October 2017!

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PIRATE ISLAND blurb:
A thrice cursed island, a legendary pirate treasure, and one not-so-brave boy. What could possibly go wrong?

For centuries, the whereabouts of Captain William Kidd’s lost pirate treasure has remained a mystery. When Billy’s best friend, Andy, proposes they look for it on nearby Pirate Island, Billy thinks it’s just another one of their crazy adventures. It’s usually Billy who ends up in trouble as a result, but he goes along for the ride…like always. The more he delves into the life and death of Kidd, the more he thinks the treasure is real and that it might be buried on the small island in Long Island Sound. Billy—nope, call him William—becomes obsessed with the captain of the same first name. He even believes he’s possessed by Kidd’s restless soul. Now he and the spirit of a long-dead pirate are leading the crazy adventure on Pirate Island. And what they find is far bigger than the treasure they imagined.



About the Author:
Katie L. Carroll always says she began writing at a very sad time her life after her sister Kylene unexpectedly passed away. The truth is Katie has been writing her whole life, and it was only after Kylene’s death that she realized she wanted to pursue writing for kids and teens as a career. Since then writing has taken her to many wonderful places, real and imagined. She has had many jobs in her lifetime, including newspaper deliverer, hardware store cashier, physical therapy assistant, and puzzle magazine editor. She works from her home in Connecticut that is filled with the love and laughter of her sons and husband.

In addition to PIRATE ISLAND, Katie is the author of the YA fantasy ELIXIR BOUND. Find Katie on her websiteTwitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.

April 10, 2017

April #InkRipples Workshop - Murder and Mayhem

This month’s #InkRipples topic is revision. I thought it would be fun to not only offer revision tips throughout the month, but to also stage some revision exercises. So, I’m hosting the first ever #InkRipples Workshop! If you missed last week’s tips and exercise, be sure to hop on over when you’re done here.

I promised murder and mayhem, didn’t I?

Revision Tip #3 (Murder)

Kill your darlings. I don’t mean Dumbledore. Somewhere along the way this saying became misinterpreted as killing off characters. What it really means is to cut the excess. Authors tend to love their words. Too much. Part of a good revision is to know when you have too many words in a section.

The first novel I wrote was my middle grade novel Beware of the White (currently unpublished, but stay tuned for a re-release and series expansion – finally!) This novel was all passive voice all the time and required a heck of a lot of revision. My first draft was over 85,000 words. The published version was just over 70k, I believe. I killed a LOT of my darlings. For example:


The [K1] you see at the end is a note from a kind person who critiqued an early version of the book. She said she worried that the scene was moving along too slowly. I agreed and cut all of these words from the scene (as well as others) to pick up the pace. This information was important for me, the author, to know, but not as important for the reader to know. By cutting this segment I took out 72 unnecessary words. 

Revision Tip #4 (Mayhem)

Read aloud. This is an essential way to learn how your dialogue plays out. Is it natural? Does your character tend to say the same thing two different ways or repeat what you say in the text? Are your transitions choppy? Is there any awkward phrasing? Are you missing words? Do you use too many pronouns or the character’s name too often? All of this becomes more obvious in a read aloud.

I record myself reading so I can go back and read along as part of the editing process. If any of my kids are around – and have the time – I read to them at the same time so I can gauge their reactions. Do they laugh when I want them too? Are they begging me to continue when my voice gives out? I also pause to ask questions along the way. I try not to ask leading questions. I.e.; What do you expect the character to do next? How do you feel about the decisions he/she has made up to now?
***
Okay let’s get to work. I’ve plucked a segment from my short story, Lake Effect, a prequel to a super fun YA fantasy series I’m working on. I’ve intentionally screwed up these paragraphs (It was hard to do, btw) with run-on or choppy sentences, pronoun abuse or neglect, missing words, etc. Your assignment is to pick one or more or all of the following tasks. Post your work in comments if you want. There are no wrong answers!
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They were so wrapped up in each other, their passion alive with smacking lips and breathy moans of pleasure that at first Kira didn’t realize they weren’t alone any longer on the dark lakeside beach. The lap of waves on sand was replaced by the sound of rain dripping from a rooftop.  Reluctantly, Kira pulled her lips from Jayden’s and glanced toward the sound. Was Kira sleeping? But heated trail Jayden’s lips burned along Kira’s neck was too real to be a dream.

“What the hell?” she whispered. She was confused by what she saw. She leaned forward to get a better look. Her action drew Jayden’s attention away from her.

Water burbled and flowed upward out of the surface of the lake like a fountain you might find in front of a fancy hotel. But instead of falling back into the lake, it drew together into a humanoid form. The sight was unrealistic. Kira expected it to be accompanied by a horror movie soundtrack. Roars and growls, not the pleasant patter of water droplets of a waning summer storm. She stared with dread as the liquid man emerged from the lake. Too long of arms and eerily elongated fingers, already reaching forward even as they formed, curling and grabbing at the air. Oversized feet took shape at the bottom of thick legs as the creature rolled across the sand like a tidal wave.

The ceiling of stars reflected on the creature’s domed head and wide shoulders and Kira screamed, but fright stole the force behind her voice and only a squeak escaped from her lips. Jayden clutched her arms and stared shocked awe at the reformed water that stalked toward them. Within seconds the creature was upon them. Slipping between them. Pushing them apart until Jayden’s hands slipped away as the creature forced him backward, toward the lake.
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1)      Pick one paragraph and edit it.
2)      Rewrite paragraph 3 to say roughly the same thing in only 75 words or less (currently 123 words)
3)      Draw the creature and share the drawing on your FB and/or Twitter along with a link to this post. Share a link to the drawing in comments so we can visit you and tell you how amazing you are!

Come back next week for more clever tips and another assignment.

#Inkripples is a themed meme hosted by Mary Waibel, Katie L. Carroll, and Kai Strand posting on the first Monday of every month. To participate compose your own post regarding the theme of the month, and link back to the three host blogs. Feel free to post whenever you want during the month, but be sure to include #inkripples when you promote so readers can find you. The idea is that we toss a word or idea into the inkwell and each post is a new ripple. There is no wrong interpretation. Themes and images and more information can be found here.

April 3, 2017

April #InkRipples - Workshop on Revision

This month’s topic of revision comes at a perfect time for me because I am getting ready to start revisions myself. I thought it would be fun to not only offer revision tips throughout the month, but also stage some revision exercises. So loosen up those revision fingers ladies and gents, because you are participating in the first ever #InkRipples Workshop. Free of charge no less. You lucky little devils!

Revision Tip #1

The first thing you need before you start your revisions is a completed first draft. That might sound obvious, but there are people who revise while drafting. Don’t. It’s a waste of time. For your revisions to be good and useful you need to know the full story arc and how each character contributes to it. My advice is to put that time to better use by continuing that draft!

Revision Tip #2

Second tip to productive revisions: Time away. Rapacious readers demand faster publications from their favorite authors, so it’s easy to get swept up in their fury and draft, revise, edit, publish. But do your readers a favor and take time away from your manuscript before you revise. If you aren’t a voracious writer, then go out and live life. Do your spring cleaning, see the school play, have coffee with friends. If you are a productive writer, write something else. NOT the next book in the series. Get away from that plot, that setting, those characters. However you do it, get them out of your head completely. Your fresh eyes combined with your intimate knowledge of the plot, characters, pacing, etc, do more to take your story to the next level than any other writing trick.
***
Okay, let’s do some work. I’m about to start revisions on Guardian’s Touch, the second book in the Touched by Afterlife series I’m writing under my other pen name, LA Dragoni. (I publish books for the grown ups among us under that name.) I’ve got a bad guy in the story named Churl. Here is a sound bite from one of his appearances.

(1st example)

The problem here is you can’t tell that he’s a bad guy. The reader doesn’t get a feel for his uneducated, street tough, bullying character in the example above. Plus his speech should be more distinct so that even without a dialogue tag a reader would know who is speaking. So I might revise like so:


Now it’s your turn. Take the first example and decide what kind of character Churl is in YOUR story. Is he southern? The professor type? Female? Post your rewrite of the passage in comments letting us know what character type you’re shooting for. If you have any questions about revision, ask. I'll try to answer them as April continues. Come back next Monday for murder and mayhem.

#InkRipples is a themed meme hosted by Mary Waibel, Katie L. Carroll, and Kai Strand posting on the first Monday of every month. To participate compose your own post regarding the theme of the month, and link back to the three host blogs. Feel free to post whenever you want during the month, but be sure to include #inkripples when you promote so readers can find you. The idea is that we toss a word or idea into the inkwell and each post is a new ripple. There is no wrong interpretation. Themes and images and more information can be found here.