Building An Author Platform: Instagram

Welcome back to the Building An Author Platform series! I’m happy to be back with more tips of how to expand your audience and presence online, and today, we’re going to be talking about Instagram.

To be completely honest with you, I started Fluff About Fantasy’s Instagram page on a whim. I had my own personal profile, but I didn’t use it very much. It was mainly for big announcements or holiday photos and such. I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to use good pictures that would draw people to the site. But I also knew that Instagram was a really solid platform that could draw a lot of traffic if used properly. So I set out to learn as much as possible as I was building my page. Here are my best tips about creating your Instagram page.

Tip #1: Use A Professional Account

As an author (who will one day go on to sell a bunch of books!), it is going to be important to separate your personal profile from your professional profile. Go ahead and make that distinction now by creating a Instagram Professional Account. You’ll be able to access features like Instagram Insights, which can show you the stats and audience reach on individual posts that you make. You can also connect your Instagram account to your Facebook Page!

Tip #2: Add All Of Your Blog Posts

My first goal in making my Instagram profile was to add all of my past blog posts. That’s what the page was for, so let’s make it happen! I used all of the pictures that I used at the top of each post on the website and added a paragraph or two excerpt underneath. It was slow going, but it was definitely worth it. You can either do this all at once, or you can add a few on a regular basis until you catch up with your current posting schedule. The most important part of this process is using hashtags! USE YOUR HASHTAGS. I use the same base hashtags for each post: #writingcommunity, #writingcommunityofinstagram, #amwriting, #amwritingfantasy, #yawriters, etc. Then, depending on the post, I may add a couple other hashtags that fit the theme of the post. For my querying tips, I add #amquerying; for my worldbuilding posts, I use #worldbuilding and #worldbuilders. Hashtags are going to ensure you are reaching the right people. So don’t skimp on them!

Tip #3: Utilize LinkTree

I discovered LinkTree when I realized that I couldn’t add more than one link into my profile and any of my posts. This site essentially allows you to create a landing page filled with an unlimited number of links that your users can click and be sent to any URL on your site. You can get an unlimited amount of links COMPLETELY FREE. There is a Pro plan that allows you to see more analytics, but I think that the free plan gives you everything that you need. Now, you can have every link to your posts and your site filed under a singular link that you can add to your Instagram profile. I would highly suggest taking a look at this resource. Make sure you mention in your posts that followers can find their links in the link in your bio!

Tip #4: Share regularly.

Regular can mean whatever you want it to mean. I update my Instagram page once a week with every new Fluff About Fantasy post and occasionally update with new announcements or writing process information as it comes up. You can update every week or every other day or every day if you want to! Whatever you feel most comfortable with. Let your followers into your writing life and let them see various stages of your writing process. And remember: social media is all about making connections. Reply to other people’s comments and questions. Follow other writers that follow you. When you give a little, you get a little back. Make friends. That’s what we’re here for.

Happy writing everybody!

How To Write A Novel Synopsis

Today, we are going to tackle what I would argue is the most difficult part of your entire submission package: the synopsis.

When I realized I was going to need to write a synopsis for some of the literary agents I was going to submit to, I was absolutely terrified. Every single English teacher I have ever had has commented on my inability to stay within page/word limits. It’s just impossible! If my point needs four pages instead of three to be argued beautifully, how can they expect me to cut myself off? But of course, when you’re submitting your manuscript, you want to nail the guidelines. You don’t want your submission to be thrown out without a chance just because you couldn’t follow an agent’s directions.

The consensus among the writers I’ve spoken to is that the synopsis takes the most time to create and is the most complicated to figure out. So when I was approaching the synopsis for the first time, I took to Google to do some research. I read lots of articles about the subject, and to be honest with you, most of them were no help whatsoever. There isn’t a good consensus about how to write a great synopsis except to just…. well… write one?

But I did find one article that took a different approach to writing a novel synopsis. Instead of trying to deal with a lot of moving parts at once and writing straight through from beginning to end, the author offered a suggestion to break down your book into parts. Analyzing what is important from different elements of your story makes it a lot easier to write your synopsis. I’m going to break down this technique for you right now, so get ready, get a pen, and take some notes.

Basics of A Synopsis

Most literary agents are looking for a one to two page synopsis in size 12 font and single spaced. Single spacing is a lifesaver, trust me; use it well. There’s a few points you’re going to want to make sure to cover: the narrative arc, your characters and their motivations and emotions, and the ending, to name a few. Do NOT forget to reveal your ending. In your synopsis, an agent is looking for the full main story and as many nuances as you can include within your word limit. You need to be concise, yet detailed at the same time.

Breaking It Down

Step One: Get a piece of paper or open up a document, whichever you prefer. And get ready to make multiple lists. We’re going to start with the plot basics. Use a number list or bullet points to detail the main plot events in order. Emphasis on MAIN. Do not worry about your subplots at this point; we are solely focusing on the clear steps that move your protagonist from inciting incident to the climax and resolution. Include the turning points that set your protagonist on a clear path for either success or failure.

Step Two: Now, we’re going to make a separate list for the main character’s character arc. Introduce your main character and list the points where we see the protagonist thrown into situations where they are forced to make decisions. List the events throughout the novel where the reader sees the character change and grow as well as places where the character maybe takes a step back and reverts back their old ways.

Step Three: Next, let’s bring the secondary characters into the mix. These characters influence the main character in various ways and push them towards or draw them away from their goal. Showcase the ones who play a major role in your novel, and track their progress. Do those characters stay fixed? Do they change as the protagonist changes?

Step Four: Following the introduction and journey of these secondary characters, pick out the major relationships in your novel. This can be a romantic relationship between main and secondary character, or it can be the hero/villain relationship. Or both, depending on the story! Track the main events of each relationship like a mini plot, from beginning through the climax to the end.

Step Five: Take a look at what you have so far. Can you identify any key themes that are addressed throughout your book? Are there any messages that you are trying to convey, blatant or subtle? If these are crucial to the book, write these down and find ways to weave this into your synopsis.

Step Six: Organize your numbers or bullet points into plot order. Now you have a list of everything you should include in your synopsis. Now it’s time to write! One other note, especially for fantasy: make sure you introduce the world that the story is operating in. Include a few important details about the world that are important to your story.

There you have it! By the end of this, you should have a synopsis in your hands! But don’t stop after a first draft. Make sure you edit, edit, edit this document. Have someone look it over, whether it’s another writing friend or a professional. Polish until you are happy with the state that it is in. Spend some time on this! A synopsis can be what gets you that manuscript request!

Touchy Subjects: When and Where To Use Them

One of the hardest parts of writing is that there will always be someone who has a problem with your work.

When I was on the Write Track Podcast back in July, one of the topics that was brought up on my episode was a growing “cancel culture” in YA literature. For those of you who don’t know what “cancel culture” is, don’t worry. Before that podcast, I had no idea either. I did a bit of research, and what I found honestly startled me. Books with controversial subjects or controversial tropes are being removed from the market often before they even have a chance to get started. While in some cases this can be due to actual bigotry in the writing or in the author’s actions themselves, I found that a decent number of books were being canceled by publishers because people were becoming offended by their subject matter.

One Chinese-American author, Amélie Zhao, had to withdraw her upcoming fantasy novel because she received backlash for the way it approached slavery. In her apology, she stated that her ideas were based on the Asian experience, not the American one. I had a problem with this. I don’t know how the book was written, and honestly, I would need to know that before making a final judgement. But using my historian voice for a second, why do we need to pull something that confronts a different element based in history? If it was well-researched and was adequately told, why should that offend others?

History is messy. We as a country did a lot of horrible things in our past; the world has done a lot of horrible things over the course of human history. Talking about our messy past does more to illuminate it and its horrors; brushing it aside has no inherent value. Absolutely, subjects such as these have to be handled with grace and care, but if we can confront them in writing historical fiction, why not confront it in fantasy as well?

Historically charged issues are not the only subjects that we have to be careful of. Writing about mental health issues, questions of sexuality, or creating a world with seriously skewed politics can spark controversy among readers. But I think as writers, we need to be willing to welcome controversy. We have to be willing to talk about these subjects in order to better understand each other’s points of view on it and grow closer to compromise. We need to be respectful in handling delicate issues, but we don’t need to pre-censor our own writing.

Here are my personal tips for writing about touchy subjects:

#1: Do your research. Writing from experience is always a great place to start. But if you don’t necessarily have applicable personal experience, do your research. Do thorough research. Talk to people. Spend some time browsing the Internet for personal stories, historical summaries, and news articles. I think you can create a main character who has OCD even if you don’t have OCD (using this as an example because I, in fact, do suffer from OCD). But do some research on what people go through with that disorder. Don’t subject your characters to offensive stereotypes. Create nuance. Is it going to take a lot of work? Yes. But you’re a writer. That’s what you’re here for.

#2: Get feedback. Share your work with people in your life who are not afraid to be completely honest and critical about your writing. Preferably people who you know have strong opinions. Opinionated people may be frustrating at times (myself included in that list), but ultimately, you’re going to get honest criticism and feedback. Listen intently to what they have to say. Listen for red flags that you hear from multiple people. Then make a decision on whether you need to adjust your book.

#3: Don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid to explore new ideas and outlets. Even the most honest and kindest of people have their nemeses who want to see them fail. Your honest mistakes do not define you as a person and as a writer. You’ve got supporters in what you do, and you’ve got a supporter in me! Find your people, and write good things.

Happy writing, my friends.

Entering The Querying Process

Hey everybody! Let me tell you, I have been struggling for the past week. I had what I thought was a virus, but around day 4, it took a drastic turn. Now I have acute bronchitis with exacerbated asthma issues! Yay!!! I’m on a ton of meds right now, and my lungs ache. Hopefully, I can put out a good coherent post. Today, I want to talk about entering the querying process and things to know when approaching said process. These tips are based off of my current experience and hopefully will be a useful framework.

Step One: Do Your Research

When I was preparing to query, I knew I wanted to get my hands on whatever resources were available for finding agents in the my subgenre, YA fantasy. I bought myself the Guide to Literary Agents 2019: The Most Trusted Guide to Getting Published from the Writers’ Market. This book is essentially a large index of reputable literary agents and agencies across the country. I went through every single page of this book and looked up the web addresses for any agency that mentioned representing young adult fiction. From there, I drew up a spreadsheet with all of the agents that I found with columns for the agency, any notes about what the agency had represented, specific agents, contact information, and most importantly, submission guidelines. Which brings me to my next point:

Step Two: Pay Attention To Submission Guidelines!

Some ridiculous percentage like 80% of submissions can be rejected due to a sheer lack of adhesion to the submission guidelines, including proofreading for proper grammar! Don’t get caught up in this! The best way to do this is by using the spreadsheet I mentioned above; there should be a submission guidelines tab or page for each agency, and you can transfer that information into your table. From my research, many of the submission packages for the literary agents I sent to consists of a query letter and the first ten pages of your manuscript. But note: THIS IS BY NO MEANS THE AVERAGE. There is no usual submission package. There is pretty much no consistency, which is why you need to be vigilant. An agent can want anything from just a query letter, to a query letter and five pages, or a query letter, the first ten pages, a synopsis, your platform numbers, your website link, and a list of books similar to yours.

If that freaks you out, it’s okay! Take each piece one at a time, and trust me, it becomes a lot easier with practice.

Step Three: Choose Which Agents And How Many Agents To Submit To

I have read that the average number of queries one should submit at a time is between six and eight. You are by no means bound to that, but I find that it’s a good number to have a decent amount out there in the world, but not too many in case your query letter or manuscript isn’t getting good feedback or any requests. Whatever agents you choose are up to you. Every author is going to have their own criteria for how to select an agent, so I’m not going to touch on that particular part of the process.

Step Four: Polish Your Submission

Some notes for submitting to literary agents:

Your manuscript has to be completely finished before you start to query. Completely. Fully revised. Fully edited. No grammar mistakes. DO NOT QUERY WITHOUT THE MANUSCRIPT BEING DONE.

Have a professional look at your query letter. It is worth the small monetary investment to hire an editor to look over your query letter. I had two different professionals look at mine in order to make it the best it could possibly be. Your query letter gets you in the door before your first few pages are even read. Make your first impression as a writer your very best. Personalize each query to the specific agent you’re querying to. Their name should be correctly spelled in your greeting, and you should note the reason you’re submitting to them specifically.

Make sure all your manuscript pages are formatted the way you want them before submission. Sometimes pasting the text into the body of an email can make the formatting wonky, including changing any italics or bolding. Read it through thoroughly.

Synopses are tricky. They take a lot of time to write and require one to learn how to summarize an entire book succinctly and with enough detail to convey your story effectively. promise to write an article on writing them later.

Double check all your submissions before you send them! Make sure you have the right email address and the right materials. Make sure your query letter has the correct agent’s name. Double check your grammar, spelling, and syntax. Reading everything over a couple times will never hurt. Remember, best foot forward!

Step Five: Be Patient

Be patient. Literary agents can take a long time to get back to you. I would suggest going to each agency’s website and seeing if they have a submission timeline of when you should be hearing back from a given agent. I put this information in my spreadsheet and in my calendar so I have a general idea of who I should be hearing from when. It makes me less frantic and antsy. Then just sit back and wait. Work on another project. Write something new. Work on building your platform as a writer. Keeping busy is a good way to keep from thinking too much about your outstanding queries.

I hope everyone enjoyed today’s guide to the querying process. Comment below about your querying journey!

Should You Try Out NaNoWriMo?

Happy NaNoWriMo, my friends!

Yes, it is that time of year again where writers of all ages are buckling down and knocking out 50,000 words of a novel draft. It’s a fantastic month full of creativity, feverish writing, and passion for a new project. I love interacting with other writers and updating my status with my friends as the month goes on. There’s truly nothing better.

This year, I wasn’t sure if I had the availability to take on NaNoWriMo again this year (click here for an account of last year’s experience). I’ve been working on research and interviews for my Book Creator project, academics have ben a whirlwind, and I just started having some free time to myself for the first time all semester. But at the same time, I was itching to get back to the world of the Three Realms and start my second book of the Chasing Fae trilogy, Chasing War. Eventually, I decided to take November 1st as a trial run day, a test to see if I had enough inspiration to write this story from my outline. Friday was incredible; I wrote over 2000 words of fantasy, the most that I had written in the genre since I finished up my final edits of Chasing Fae in July. I couldn’t wait to write more. That’s how I knew I needed to do NaNoWriMo and make it another real time commitment in my life.

I want to encourage all young writers to undertake this challenge this month. Don’t be discouraged that NaNoWriMo has already started; there are plenty of days left to create something amazing.

Is NaNoWriMo Right For You?

Do you have a novel idea that you are burning to write?: If you’ve got an idea that is so perfect that you are just itching to get it down on paper, NaNoWriMo is the place to start.

Have you struggled with following through on an idea in your writing?: If you’re not great with being motivated enough to finish a novel, trust me, NaNoWriMo may be your savior. I wrote story after story throughout my middle and high school years, but the majority of my novels never got finished. I’d write six to eight chapters and then move on to the next new idea. Last year was the first time that I had completed an entire first draft since my first book written when I was 10 (still won’t see the light of day). This challenge really works as motivation. Use it!

Do you need to add another 50k to the project you’re already working on?: Guess what? NaNoWriMo is for you too! Some people choose not to start an entirely new draft in November; they pick one they’ve been meaning to work on and grind steadily along with that idea until it’s complete. There are no limits to what you can achieve.

Don’t let fear of what you can’t do stand in the way of what you could do. Even if you don’t reach your 50,000 word goal, you’ve still taken that first step towards getting your novel finished. Whether it’s 1000 words, 5000 words, or 50,000 words, there’s nothing more important than just starting.

Happy writing, everyone.

A Brief Classification Of Dragons

Hello everybody! Welcome back to Fluff About Fantasy. Today, I’m going to try something new. We’re going to talk about dragons.

Dragons!!! Get excited.

Thursday night, my boyfriend and I were throwing around some ideas for fantastical short stories. I’m trying to get back on the fantasy writing horse after a very busy half a semester. We were swapping various ideas, and at one point, we settled on the discussion of dragons. I have always been fascinated by dragons. They’re a very protective mythological creature, and I’ve always seen their strength as something to be celebrated. Their physical form captivates me; I own five different dragon statues ranging from small, singular dragons to entire families in which the father’s wings surrounds his mate and his child.

I am also highly interested in the concept of dragon shapeshifters in which very sexy mortal men can turn into dragons in romance novels, but that is a story for another day.

Anyway, Daniel and I were swapping some awesome images of different kinds of dragons, and he mentioned that one of them was called a Leviathan. I had never heard of one before, and he gave me a basic explanation of the creature (see below!). But when he mentioned drakes later and I still didn’t know what he was talking about….

He pulled out a figurative blackboard (literally, in asterics. *pulls out a blackboard*) and said, “Cady. It’s time for a comprehensive training on dragons and classifications.”

I was so ready for this. It’s so much fun to see my boyfriend nerd out over things we can be fascinated by together. And I’m excited to share that information with you for your fantasy writing endeavors. This article will be a short list of the types that we discussed and some basic information. I’m hoping to expand it as I explore the topic more. But its current form will be a good list to start with and hopefully inspire you to write new stories or go do some research of your own.

Dragon Classifications: A Partial List

Chinese Dragons: In Chinese culture, dragons traditionally symbolize power and strength throughout Chinese mythology, folklore, and East Asian Culture. A variety of dragons can represent balance, intense power over the elements, and luck. Chinese dragons usually have long serpentine bodies and are often brightly colored. Although they are without wings, many have the ability of magical flight.

Leviathans: An oceanic behemoth, much like the kraken, in the form of a sea monster. Originates from Jewish belief and is referenced in the Hebrew Bible. Often depicted as an aquatic dragon. 

European Dragons: Usually consist of the modern conception of dragons. Large bodies, flaming breath, and reptilian wings characterize this form. In traditional folklore, these dragons’ blood contains magical properties that can poison or heal depending on the dragon or the story. Generally found in an underground lair.

Drakes: Smaller lizard-like creatures usually portrayed as wingless. An example of these would be the Komodo dragon, a minotaur lizard originating in Indonesia. Tend to keep low to the ground.

Wyverns: No forelegs or arms traditionally with a tail often ending in a diamond- or arrow-shaped tip. Faster, more aggressive than territorial as opposed to drakes and European dragons.

Nāga: Originates from India and is common to all cultures influenced by Hinduism. May have several heads depending on their rank. Traditionally have no arms or legs and more resemble large snakes, but the ones that do have limbs look similar to Chinese dragons.

Slavic Dragons: Resemble the European dragons, but are multi-headed. Represent evil.

Fluff About Fantasy: Official Announcements

Hey everybody! I am aware that my presence on this site has been someone lax lately. I promise I’ve got a lot of reasons big and small of why my life has been so busy, and today’s post is about making all of those announcements as well as some new changes to the site!

Announcement #1: Scaling Back

I am so passionate about Fluff About Fantasy that it has been absolutely killing me not to be able to write two posts a week as I did last semester. But to give you an idea of how this semester is going, I’m taking essentially three history classes and two languages, including starting an entire new language (German). Now while I love all of these classes, the reading load and the work load is nearly double what it was last year. I feel like I’m moving forward towards my academic goals with fantastic speed, but it means my time has dramatically shifted.

Because of this, I’m going to officially cut down to one post a week on Saturdays. This way, I can put out a clear and interesting post of decent length out to my readers without placing too much stress on myself. I want to put out information that you all are going to want to read and want to use in your writing endeavors.

I hope I won’t lose any of my readership by scaling back! I’m still looking to expand and grow; it’s just going to take a little more time than I thought.

Announcement #2: My Departure From The Pantheon

Today, I officially left the writing project, All in The Pantheon. I have loved writing for Aphrodite for the last six months, and the people at the Pantheon are some of the most wonderful people I have ever met in my life. But my time has become too short, and I have had little to no time for my own writing pursuits like Chasing Fae or Fluff About Fantasy or my new upcoming book (see Announcement #3). I had to make some tough choices about what activities to cut out of my overcommitted life, and unfortunately, this was one of the things that had to go.

It was so tough having to leave. My last couple days with them were fantastic; I got so many well wishes from everyone. My friend, Nikki (who writes for Nike) did not want to let me leave at all. I love her so much; she’s always been one of my favorite people at the Pantheon. But she also made me super emotional! My friend, Ashley, (who writes for Nyx) adopted me through their #AdoptAMortal initiative on Twitter before I had even announced my official departure! It was super exciting and made me feel a lot better about whether I would still hear from these fantastic writers. I got added to a new group chat with some of the writers so I could keep in touch, and I’m still on the unofficial Discord chat.

If you haven’t started reading the amazing stories at All in the Pantheon, you should head over there now! My stories will still remain up for a while, so catch them while you can!

Announcement #3: Book Creator News

The Book Creator program that I’ve enrolled myself in is going fantastic so far! I’ve loved learning from Professor Koester and the other young writers taking part in the program. I’m still in the researching and interviewing phase for now, but I’m starting to get really excited about the writing process. I’m looking right now at a potential July 2020 release through this program. Stay tuned for more news!

Announcement #4: Other Social Media Accounts

I’m working on expanding my social media presence across multiple platforms to gain more traffic. I would appreciate it if you would all help spread the word!

Facebook

Instagram

Pinterest

That’s all for now, my friends! Look forward to a new post about writing next Saturday!

Why Are Themes Important In A Story, And How Do I Find Them?

Despite being a writer, I couldn’t stand English classes. We rarely did any creative writing, mainly academic. We read endless books, which for me, wasn’t horrible except when they just weren’t interesting. (Don’t even get me started on Catcher in the Rye. How is this a classic?) I would get in trouble all the time for reading something else from the library during class.

My hugest pet peeve about English classes, however, was ever present: English teachers’ burning desire to always find the themes of a work of literature. I could never understand what the necessity was. Why did it matter so much that I, a 14 year old child, understand the intricacies of what an author intended to drive forward? How did the teachers know if they were even right about the author’s intentions? What if a writer writes just because they want to tell a good story? I just wanted to enjoy a book, not get into endless discussions about imagery or central themes. (Also as an introvert, round table discussions were my nemesis.)

As I began to write, however, I realized that it was possible for both my English teachers and I to be right about themes in writing. As a writer, my initial goal wasn’t to push forward some central idea let alone several themes that would ring true throughout my novel. But as I wrote the story, I realized that certain ideas naturally began to come to the surface and show examples throughout the book. So perhaps themes are important after all because they drive the story in the undercurrent where enjoyment blends into the importance of reading.

Why Are Themes Important?

I am beginning to recognize that themes are important because they capture the heart of your story. They present a moral or a lesson or teach the reader something about themselves or their fellow man. They represent pieces of advice from the author about what’s the best way to live. Themes also allow readers to connect to the story better. Without some truth and something of real world importance and connection to make your readers want to see your characters grow and change, your book will never get picked up off the shelf.

In Chasing Fae, I’m starting to formulate what my themes look like. PSA For future readers of my book, here’s the real answers to what my story stands for.

First and foremost is a lesson about the people who may not look like much, but at the end of the day are much more powerful than one would believe them to be. Don’t underestimate the dark horse. Don’t underestimate the quiet people around you because they just might be doing the most in their lives. I also want to communicate how family is what you make of it: if your family is chaotic and messy, then you can always create your own. Blood only means so much; it’s trust, loyalty, and love that builds the strongest family. I also want to talk about what it means to build up trust in someone and learning to trust.

These themes are still evolving, and I suspect they’ll transform into more clear thoughts as I move through the publishing process.

How Do I Find The Themes in My Story?

Let them come to you.

In my opinion, it doesn’t often work to have three or four ideas for themes right off the bat before you start writing. Perhaps you’ve got a basic idea of what you want your readers to draw from the story, and that’s okay. That’s fantastic, actually; go ahead and run with that. But you don’t have to know right away exactly what kind of messages you want to send to people. Enjoy writing your novel first. That’s the most important thing.

Then, while you’re revising and editing, let yourself start looking beyond the plot and into the heart of the story itself. Trust me, even if you’re not sure you’ll find answers there, somewhere in the revision process you will. They will find you, and most times you’ll realize that’s what you wanted to say all along.

And if it’s not.… change it! It’s your book.

Happy writing!

A New Project: The Book Creators Program

Over the next year, I’m going to be embarking on a new writing journey that I am so excited to share with you all. Last month, I joined the Book Creators Program, an open source program created by Professor Koester of Georgetown University to guide student and young professionals to write and publish a nonfiction book. I ran into this opportunity on a flyer in the cafeteria, and being the writer soul that I am, I couldn’t resist signing up.

Over the course of the next 5 months, I’ll be working on researching, interviewing, and creating content for an approximately 25,000 word first draft of a nonfiction book that parallels something that’s either important to me in my life or to what I want my future career to be. I will have the opportunity to work with a developmental editor as I begin writing and focusing my book. Around February, I’ll have the opportunity to work with New Degree Press, a hybrid publishing option that helps authors set up a presale campaign to pay for the production of the book. I’ll work with an editing team, a marketing team, and learn all sorts of valuable publication information. And if all goes well, I’ll have a published book in my hand by July 2020 and for sale on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble.

Reading the information packet is an absolute whirlwind. I can’t even fathom how all of these pieces come together in such a specific period of time, though I imagine it takes longer for some writers. I’ve had my first two class sessions with the professor and a large group of writers, and I think he’s absolutely brilliant. To come with a project to motivate young writers to create and actually publish something early in their professional career with minimal cost to the author is really special. I’m excited to get started.

The idea I’m working on right now is tentatively titled Bringing History Home. It is going to explore this concept of personalizing history.

Historians are always searching for ways to bring history to the people, ways to make people care about the past and its impact on the future. But in my experience, it always appears that they are trying to accommodate some denominator that will hit the largest amount of people the same way. I want to take a look at what it means to bring history down to the individual and touch each person in a way that fascinates them. So far, I want to investigate interactive and living museums, such as Colonial Williamsburg; history through the arts, like the smash success that is Hamilton; and discovering history through genealogy. I’ve got a lot of ideas that are simmering, and it’s exciting.

Writing Book #2 of my fantasy series, querying for book #1 (and hopefully participating in Pitch Wars!), and writing this at the same time definitely seems like I’m staring up at a massive hill with no real knowledge of how to get to the top. But I’m up for the challenge. I love all of these projects, and I know that with hard work, I am absolutely ready.

I’m an author. That’s just what we do.

Questions To Ask Your Beta Readers

Hey everybody! Sorry for my brief disappearance; it has been a crazy week and a half. I was back in my hometown over the weekend to do a performance with alumni from my high school, and then I ended up back at school for a hellish three test week. I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to balance five classes. I want to dedicate enough attention to each one, but I definitely feel a little behind. But now I’m back to blog posts! Today, I want to cover some questions that you may want to ask your beta readers when you give them your book.

Beta readers are a crucial component of the writing process because they offer insights into what is working and what isn’t from an outsider’s perspective. You can only read your own book so many times before you become blind to its faults. But in order to figure those out, you need to know what questions are best to ask! So, I’m going to lay out a list of good questions below for you to pick and choose what you really want to know about your story. Feel free to take all of them or select the ones that fit your concerns about your story the best!

Story

  1. Did my story hold your interest throughout the book?
  2. How long did it take you to get hooked into the story?
  3. Was there any point where you felt like the story stalled?
  4. Did you notice any plot inconsistencies that need to be addressed?
  5. Did the dialogue sound natural to you?
  6. Was there enough conflict and intrigue to hold your interest? Are there places would you have liked to see more?
  7. What were your favorite scenes or chapters? Did any section jump at you specifically?
  8. Are the plot twists both believable and unexpected?
  9. How did you feel about the ending?
  10. Do you think the writing style fits the genre?
  11. How was the novel’s pacing?
  12. Was there any point that you put the manuscript down?

Characters

  1. Can you relate to the main character? Do they seem believable? Are you able to see both strengths and weaknesses that make them a well rounded person?
  2. Were there characters that needed to be fleshed out more?
  3. What was your opinion on the villain?
  4. Are the relationships between characters believable?
  5. How do you feel about the main character’s goals? Are they working towards those goals in clear ways throughout the book?

Worldbuilding

  1. Does the world interest you? Does it excite you?
  2. How were my descriptions? Would you like to see more or less of them? Do they need to be more detailed?
  3. Which setting was most memorable to you?

I hope these questions will be useful to all of you tackling this stage in the writing process. Enjoy! Happy writing!