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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Submission Tip: Do your homework to pass the test

Though it is FINALLY looking like spring LOL, and we can finally get outside, the kids are still in school, which is a good reminder to authors in general, especially newer authors...don't let the fresh air make you forget to do your homework, too!

This is a good life lesson, especially in the publishing industry. Study your craft constantly. Learning never stops (even for editors 😁).

Most importantly, do your homework before you submit. Most publishing houses have their submission guidelines on their websites.

FIND THEM.

STUDY THEM.

ABIDE BY THEM.

In reality, this is your first test as an author. Are you able to follow simple guidelines? Can you do what is asked of you in the general form?

You may be quirking your brow and saying, "What? A test? Seriously?"

Yes. Maybe not a serious, sit down, use a #2 pencil type one, and maybe not in the terms any actual publishing house would use, but there are editors on the other end of that submission email who roll their eyes at someone who sent multiple attachments when it was specifically asked that no attachments be sent with a query, or when you use a really weird and fancy font when a simple Times New Roman 12 was asked for in their submission guidelines. No, you aren't physically graded, but not adhering to simple guidelines can start you off on the wrong foot with someone you really want to impress. The editor first looks to see if you can follow simple directions, which lets them know that when it's time for the more indepth directions of edits on your manuscript, you are someone who pays attention to details, someone who is willing to do the work.

Show them you are someone they want to work with; show them you are someone they CAN work with; show them you are serious and took the time to research their site, and they will know you are someone who is willing to learn and willing to work for their craft.

And I'll let you in on a secret, those are the answers to that first test....Submission Etiquette 101.

©bystacydawn 2018

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Keep a Flyswatter on your desk

Okay everyone, get out your flyswatters. Nope, it's not summer (OMG not even spring with all the snow we've had recently😆), but it is time you let your characters show their story.

One thing I see a lot of is narration coming from the point of view of something that sees all and knows all. Personally, I call this a Fly on the Wall POV—as if a fly is stationed merrily on the wall above everyone and telling the events. The problem is...the fly isn’t a character in the story.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of stories done in this type of third person narrative and some work well. The issue that I see too often, however, is a story being shown from the perspective of the main character and then the fly dropping in to have it’s say--essentially head-hopping to the Fly's POV and thus pulling the reader out of the head of the main character (and subsequently, the story).

One other main issue the FLY POV often produces is passive writing in the form of more Telling versus Showing.

Using deeper point of view, keeping in the “head” of your main character, describing things from their specific experience, perception, and viewpoint, gives the reader a chance to know them, to understand them, and most of all, to relate to them. You want a reader invested in your characters and the story so they leave the laundry, housecleaning, and any other chore behind for another time while they are riveted by your character’s journey.

Deeper POV describes the moments specifically through the main character of the scene, and therefore, anything that happens, any knowledge, anything described, can only be shown by what the main POV character actually knows, sees, hears, feels etc.

Let’s take an example:

Her cheeks flared an angry shade of red, and her hands fisted at her sides as she aimed her steamy blue gaze toward the bane of her existence.

This is Fly POV because, unless the character is looking in a mirror, she wouldn’t know the specific color her face had turned or be able to reference her own blue eyes is such a fashion. The above is a description from that of a fly on the wall looking at her, and because of this, it is Telling--telling the reader what it sees.   The other issue is that her hands are moving on their own as if without her knowledge, making that what can be called disjointed body parts.  A fly sees her hands fist, but the actual character is the one controlling the movement.  Therefore, this description also needs to be revised so as to keep it active to the main character.

Let’s revise showing the moment from the experience of the actual character--Deeper POV.

The burning in her cheeks scorched down her neck. Fisting sharp nails into her palms, she choked back a verbal slaying and narrowed her gaze toward the bane of her existence.

The above is now described through sensation and direct action of the character's perception/experience of the tense moment.  Also note that revising to Deeper POV doesn't mean adding gobs of description--the sentences are almost the same length.  Always remember, it is not about the amount of words, but the right choice of words.

Another fly example that happens often is referring to the POV character in a group:

They came to a small pathway and decided it was better for the other two to go first.

Who is the POV character in the above sentence? Exactly.  Unknown. Right there is a big red flag for passive writing and Fly Telling. The sentence also doesn’t show much about the path or tension of the scene—is it a happy, yellow brick road or a scary, dark corridor?  A rocky road of determination or a long, leisurely stroll in long grass?  If a reader can think up that many different descriptions for the scene, then you as the author have not painted the picture for them--painted the "path" you want them to follow.

A possible revision:

Jenny bit her lip as she stopped behind her friends near the dark, gravel pathway. The boys decided to go first, and she blew out a thankful breath, only to suck it back in when a cold breeze blew across her neck.

Now we know exactly whose experience we are sharing (Deeper POV), AND the picture is painted for the reader--there is something about the path making her nervous. That “something” is what makes the reader WANT to continue reading to see if she is going to be okay.

Remember, for a stronger read, swat that fly off the wall and let your characters show their story.

Up next is another Friday Special Edition of Love, Meg.  Find out where she is headed to next!

©bystacydawn.com 2018

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Exercise Cycle

Does this look familiar to you, too? 😁



Although, I do have to admit that I still use mine a good three times a week...so that is progress in my book!

©bystacydawn 2018

Friday, April 13, 2018

Friday Special Edition: Love, Meg

As I mentioned last Sunday, I will be occasionally posting special series on Fridays.  This inaugural Friday Special Edition is based on an Instagram doodle challenge hosted by @myartsybujo called April's Amazing Adventures.  She had listed some adventure such as hiking, skiing, camping etc. to doodle...and I had this idea to add my signature story twist and ended up with an adventure told through postcards.  I hope you enjoy...Love, Meg.



Pop back next Friday for the next installment of the story!

©bystacydawn 2018


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Spell Check is not a proof-reader

Spell Check is a wonderful device. The problem is, too many people trust it to be their proof-reader--if there are no red squiggly lines under the words, then the spelling must be correct, right?

Wrong.

the is the correct spelling....unless you meant them

accept is the correct spelling....unless you meant except

he is the correct spelling...unless you meant she

And as with the last example, mixing up simple genders might not make the best impression on an editor reading your manuscript LOL.

Perhaps this is your first submission, or perhaps you don’t know all the ins and outs of Point of View or Goal-Motivation-Conflict; that is all part of the learning curve and feedback an editor can give you. But one of the comments you don’t want from an editor is that your manuscript was sloppy with a lot of spelling errors that could have easily been avoided by a good proofing. You don’t want an editor thinking you’re lazy; you want them thinking you are a diamond in the rough that they can’t wait to help shine.

Proofing your manuscript is one of the simplest things you can do to ensure a good read by an editor. But don't leave it up to your program's spell checker. One of the best ways to proof is to simply read your story out loud--you will be AMAZED how many things you can discover when reading aloud, everything from spelling to sentence structure to paragraph beats (Paragraph beats? What's that? you say--don't worry *wink* I will be talking about that topic soon. )

Just to be fair, though, Spell Check can be a good friend to international writers submitting to American publishers for instance--IF you make sure the dictionary on your Word program is set to the proper dictionary (ie: US). It is a good catch for words that you have used your whole life according to the country you live in. Canada for instance: colour vs color, favour vs favor etc. Both are correct--depending which country is publishing the book.

So, I guess there is another good tip for you...remember to research the location and background of the publishing company you want to submit to along with their submission guidelines😉.

And come back Friday for my very first Friday Special Edition!

©bystacydawn 2018

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Challenging Fun

I have been participating in some doodle challenges on Instagram over the last few months...and this month I am co-hosting one! 

April Hybrid OffSpring Challenge wherein we give an animal couple and you get to create their little bundle of joy.

It is so much fun and the participants are soooo creative!    You can find them on Instagram at #aprilhybridoffspring .

Here's a sample of some of my baby hybrid bundles for this challenge.  I chose to make a Momma-type scrapbook look:


The last two are sneak peeks because I haven't even posted them on Instagram yet😉

Remember at the beginning of this new blog I mentioned combining all my creative outlets? Well, keep an eye out for my new blog segment coming up: Friday Special Editions.  This is where I will have a special series of posts every Friday over the course of a few weeks at a time.  First up will be another Instagram challenge I am currently doing to which I have added my own twist to involve both illustrations and a storyline.  It has been well received so far, and I want to post them here for you all to have a chance to follow and enjoy, too 😁. 

And don't miss this week's Writing Wednesday post where I will be talking about Proofing.

©bystacydawn 2018

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Love Floats

April showers bring May flowers, as they say, and boy are we getting the showers! Both rain and snow kinds.  So I thought I would brighten things up a bit by sharing some flowers with you in my garden romance, Love Floats...but it's not your typical garden😁

Contemporary Romance 
Novella 
Rating: Sweet/Sensual



Garden landscaper, Kelsey Ryan, is surprised to find her current client doesn't have any land. Yet the challenge isn't in creating a deck garden for his houseboat, but in keeping the hunky graphic artist from growing on her, especially when she thinks the garden is for his wedding day. Will a few marigolds and misunderstandings leave her matchless...or make her his first mate?

REVIEWS:

 5 Hearts from Night Owl Romance
"Stacy Dawn has done it again! She is truly a talented author that knows how to entertain her readers each and every single time. She had me laughing out loud with the crazy antics and thoughts of both Kelsey and Mitch. This was a fun romantic read that you shouldn't pass up. This is definitely a keeper in my library." ~Reviewed by Diana Coyle, Night Owl Romance

"Love Floats is an entertaining romance of miscommunication. Kelsey and Mitch are very attracted to each other, but with each step forward that Mitch attempts, Kelsey understandably throws up a barrier. This felt like a complete story with well developed characters. I truly enjoyed the romance between Kelsey and Mitch." ~Reviewed by Katherine of Joyfully Reviewed

"Stacy Dawn's Love Floats is a story of misunderstanding and laughter. Funny and light hearted it had me smiling and wishing to be part of the fun." ~Reviewed by Rachel C.--Fallen Angel Reviews 

EXCERPT:

There are those days that just don't make sense from the moment you pry your eyes open in the morning.

This is definitely one of them.

Kelsey Ryan gaped at the boat. A rather large boat. A rather large houseboat. Not the blocky kind you rent for a week to cruise down one of the many lakes and rivers in Southern Ontario, but an honest-to-God house on a boat.

Even though she'd never actually seen one before, she granted the concept wasn't an unusual phenomenon. No, the unusual part was the fact this was supposed to be her next design and landscaping job.

Kind of hard with no land.

She dug into her jeans pocket, a few sediments of dirt tumbling over the side as she withdrew the paper from the worn denim. Kelsey shook her head. Yep, this was the right address though she shouldn't be surprised. Where her mother was involved, there was always a twist to reality, even if it was taking a message and leaving out a little—or large—watery detail.

With a tolerant chuckle, she grabbed measuring tape and her ever-present sketchbook from the inside door of the truck then headed down the dock. As she closed in on her destination, she couldn't help a hardy, "Ahoy there!"

"Just a minute," a muffled voice called from within the russet-shingled home.

Shielding her eyes against the mid-afternoon sunshine, Kelsey contented herself with a glance out over Lake Ontario. Breeze-rippled waves reflected a kaleidoscope of shimmering lights on a couple larger boats while the small marina awaiting their return sang out a melody of clanking mast lines and seagull harmonies. She closed her eyes and let the wind's whimsical symphony fill her senses. Though she much preferred the feel of solid earth beneath her feet, this wouldn't be hard to get used to.

"Sorry about that. I was on the phone."

Talk about sensory overload. Even before turning, she heard the smile in the deep, rich voice. Viewing the actual amusement glittering out of sky blue eyes and the friendly grin broadening a firm jaw whooshed the air right out of her lungs. "Well blow me down."

"Pardon me?"

Crap. Did I say that out loud?


All my titles are available in multiple locations:

The Wild Rose Press
Amazon.com
Amazon.ca
Barnes & Noble
Kobo

©bystacydawn 2018