Bird Face Wendy

Things relevant to reading, writing, publishing or marketing teen fiction.

I have missed you, little blog!

Sorry that it has been almost two months since I have given you any attention. A relocation to another state has taken up most of my time. But we are only ten days away from release of the fourth and final book of the Bird Face series, 3 Things to Forget. And this special promotion should cheer everyone up!

This special is for ONE DAY ONLY, October 16th. The new book in Kindle version will be only 99 cents, and the first book of the series will be free. So mark your calendars to take advantage!

Candle on cake

And don’t worry. This is not the end of the Bird Face Wendy blog. I have a lot more to share with you about writing, publishing, and marketing books.

Coming soon … everything I learned about entering literary contests!

 

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How can I get my book published? 10 Points of Advice

person woman desk laptop

Photo by Breakingpic on Pexels.com

Perhaps every author who has one or more published books hears that question on occasion. Or the plaintive statement, “I need help getting my book published.”

My heart always hurts for the unpublished author in need because I remember being desperate for help and for answers myself.

The good news today, as opposed to when I was writing my first novel, is the Internet holds much of the information writers seek. The bad news is that a lot of time is still required to apply that information and get results.

My publisher is small and not associated with any of the big-name publishers or their imprints. And I know nothing about self-publishing or about writing and publishing non-fiction books. But I’ll share what I feel might be helpful in getting a first novel published.

  1. Read blogs by experienced people in the publishing industry. One I recommend is Jane Friedman. She shares her knowledge about getting published in fiction and non-fiction, traditionally (large or small) and through self-publishing. She even delves into fiction genres and sub-genres.
  2. Join one or more writers groups in your city or state. All the better if they are chapters of larger organizations like Romance Writers of America, Historical Fiction Society, American Christian Fiction Writers, or the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. If dues are not easy for you to pay, select only one group with a local chapter that has published authors as members. Don’t be afraid to ask if they do. You will learn from many of the members, but the published author will have even more to offer.
  3. Take advantage of critique groups available through the organizations you join. They may work in person or online only. The goal is to learn from one another and to share information from outside sources during critiques. In other words, why did something in a particular manuscript not work well? What would work? Critiques should not only tell you what is wrong with your writing or story but how to fix it. Leave the group if it doesn’t supply what you need, and find another one.
  4. Learn to write a good query letter and a short synopsis of your book. Look for information online (such as Jane Friedman’s blog) on how to do both. Practice. Ask for help from your critique group(s).
  5. Seek Facebook groups of writers and authors in your genre—and also groups labeled “indie” if you think you might want to self-publish. You’ll get the inside scoop on many aspects of writing and publishing your genre, and it won’t cost you a dime. (Note: Be sure you know which genre you are writing.)
  6. Read novels similar to yours. Know how to compare your story to those. What is it about your book that is similar to another one? What is different? Often, an agent or acquisitions editor asks for such comparables. If not in the initial query, in a full proposal if it is requested. (Proposals contain a lot more than can fit in a query letter. Research what to include in a proposal in case you must provide one.)
  7. Research the publishers of books similar to yours or those you enjoy reading in your work’s genre. (Check the books by authors in your favorite Facebook groups, too.) Visit the publishers’ websites, and look for their submission guidelines. Do those publishers accept queries directly from an author, or do they only work with agents? Sometimes you can learn an author’s agent by reading the acknowledgments in his or her book. Whom does the author thank? Sometimes you’ll see a whole name you can look up to see if that’s the agent.
  8. Before you query anyone, be sure your manuscript is finished. You must have a whole story—beginning, exciting middle, and ending. And not just the first rough draft. The whole manuscript might be in the second round of critiques and doesn’t need to be completely polished yet, but be sure the first few chapters are! What if you query a publisher or agent and receive a fast response requesting sample chapters? They’d better be as good as you can make them, or you won’t be asked for the whole manuscript.
  9. While in the query process, keep submitting chapters of your manuscript to your critique group(s). There’s always room for improvement. But don’t discard old versions of your manuscript. Rename new versions in case you want to return to an earlier one because you prefer the way a particular sentence or scene was originally written. (That happened to me.)
  10. If you receive any feedback from an agent or editor you’ve queried, seriously consider it. Take the advice and learn from it. The fact that they took the time to give you a personalized reply means your work might have potential. Then improve your work and query some more.

AND, especially if you are a young writer in your teens or twenties . . .

Keep reading advice on writing by your favorite author/agent/editor bloggers. Read books on the writing craft. Most libraries carry some on self-editing, story structure, dialogue, characterization, setting, description.  Purchase used books online that you can refer to again and again. One of my favorite authors of self-help books for writers is James Scott Bell. If you can afford a magazine subscription, you can’t go wrong with Writer’s Digest. If not, be sure to visit the website for helpful articles.

Many authors advise attending live writers’ conferences, which can be costly but often pay off when an author connects in person with an agent or publisher. I’ve attended only one conference, after I was published. I’d wanted to attend a number of them, but it just didn’t work out for me. Online conferences are available, too, at which you can pitch your project. Bottom line: It is possible to acquire a publisher or agent—or learn how to successfully self-publish—even if you cannot attend conferences.

 

 

 

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Sorry for the long break—7 months! So…

May I make it up to you with a SALE? May 20-26, the Amazon ebook version of 6 Dates to Disaster is only 99 cents.

6 Dates to Disaster FC 5x8

Maybe my timing isn’t all that bad, because you can catch up with Wendy and her friends at a reduced price while waiting for book four of the Bird Face series, 3 Things to Forget. Watch for it in September!

And for the first time, I have *completed* a short story! (Never thought I’d do it.) “Recreation” will be part of an anthology, Secrets. Sign up for the newsletter at the website featured in the meme below to receive updates. While you’re there, check out all the middle-grade and young adult novels from its members.

Meme 1

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7 Ways to Make a Blog Host Happy

If an author or other creative has the opportunity to be featured on someone else’s blog, here are some tips to make the blog host’s experience as pleasant as possible—and get the guest invited back!

Whether for a book review, interview, guest post, showcase of a creation, or any other feature that recognizes a creative person or his work, there are ways to submit items to the blog owner that make his or her preparation of the post easier.

1. Create Word documents that are clearly labeled as bio, summary or description, excerpt, interview Q&A, etc. Email them and any requested images as attachments to your host. The email message should state what you are attaching, or simply say that you have attached the requested materials.

When I receive such materials for an upcoming feature, I set up a folder on my desktop labeled with the author or artist’s name. I place all necessary documents and images there within easy reach. The desktop folder serves as a constant reminder that the host must prepare the blog post for publication.

Don’t copy and paste any of your information into the body of an email because …

a. Emails get lost in the muck and mire of hundreds or thousands of other emails and require the host to search later on.

b. A host like me will copy and paste information into Word documents anyway to organize and save it in a folder. That means extra work for your host, which is not a good thing.

2. If a guest thinks of an additional small piece of information after sending the original email containing attachments, I don’t mind copying a sentence or two (if clearly marked as new copy) from an email and adding it to an existing, appropriate Word document. But, for example, if a guest must revise a lengthy article or summary, please send a new Word document of the same name as the original one. That way, the host only has to replace the document by the same name in the folder.

3. When emailing images, don’t send high-resolution files large enough for printing a poster! They take longer to load and use unnecessary storage space. A book cover image file around 300 KB is plenty big enough for digital use, although around 700 is still manageable. I often open larger image files in Photoshop and save them to a smaller size, but it would be better for the guest to do that before sending to the host.

4. Provide all materials to the blog host at least one week in advance of publication date or by the date requested by the host. In your email, ask the host to let you know when he or she receives the email. A response benefits both of you as a reminder that everything is received and okay for publication.

5. Remember to sign up for email notifications of the blog’s posts. That way, you’ll receive an email when your feature has been published, and the host won’t have to notify you personally or email you a link. Either the host or the guest might forget the date when it draws near. The guest can unfollow the blog later.

6. Forward the post email to friends and share the post on all your social media.

7. Encourage friends to comment on the post. Check a few times over the first week for comments and respond to them.

Of course, if a blog host requires you do something different from what I advise, do what he or she prefers. Just as when you submit to an agent, editor, or publisher, it never hurts to ask in advance for guidelines if they are not provided initially.

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What to Do When Your Motivation Takes a Vacation

(Motivation—everyone needs it, no matter what kind of work you do or dreams you have. Enjoy this guest post about motivation by editor and author Debra L. Butterfield.)

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Sometimes it takes all the willpower I can muster to put my butt in the chair and write.

By day I’m a freelance editor/writer and by night an editor for CrossRiver Media. I’m single and my children are grown, but I still have all the household chores to do.

Work, eat, sleep. Work, eat, sleep. My motivation wants to hop a train to Denver, and leave me behind to the comfort of the couch and a mind-numbing DVD.

Because I’m self-employed, I can give in to this lack of motivation for a day. I justify it by telling myself I deserve a day off. But then a day becomes two and sometimes three.

Do you ever have days like that? Weeks maybe where you lack the motivation to work toward your dreams? I’ve come to realize that “me time” keeps my motivation at home where it belongs.

What Causes Lack of Motivation? 

The day job and family responsibilities can sabotage our motivation faster than a rattlesnake can strike. Here are several other possibilities:

  • Work-life imbalance
  • Physical illness/hormone imbalance
  • Depression
  • Clutter
  • Overwhelm
  • Discouragement
  • Trying to accomplish too many goals at once or perhaps one goal with an unrealistic time frame?

The list could go on and on.

It’s easy for me to work all the time. But that imbalance is one of the first things to trigger a slump.

If you’re feeling unmotivated, take your lunch hour or some time before bed to think about the cause/s. Knowing why will help you take action to fix it.

Sunshine, fresh air, and music motivate me. For that reason, summer is my favorite season, and I take my work outside when I can. I have a quiet time with God every morning as well. Focusing on His goodness and the many blessings He brings lifts my spirit and keeps my motivation intact.

Our culture lauds workaholism, but God didn’t design us for all work and no play. We need to feed our soul with things we enjoy. Take a moment right now and write down 5-10 things that motivate or inspire you. Incorporate those things into your life to spark your creativity and motivation.

How to Move Forward 

Too often we don’t create until we feel inspired or motivated. Consequently, nothing gets created. Instead, develop a habit of regular writing (creating your art), be it daily or weekly. The act of creating will ignite your excitement and motivation.

  • Create a 90-day goal—just one goal.
  • Devise a plan to accomplish it.
  • Review your plan daily/weekly.
  • Work the plan.

Seeing progress toward that goal will inspire and motivate you to keep moving forward. When you’ve accomplished that goal, set another and establish a plan to reach it.

(I like it! Baby steps—that’s how I work best toward a goal. Be sure to check out Debra’s website and published works. She’s an editor I recommend.)

Debra Butterfield 1-Thm (533x800)

About Debra L. Butterfield

Debra is the author of 7 Cheat Sheets to Cut Editing Costs, Abba’s Promise, Carried by Grace: a Guide for Mothers of Victims of Sexual Abuse, and Mystery on Maple Hill (a short story e-book). She has contributed to numerous anthologies. She is a freelance editor and editor for CrossRiver Media Group and blogs about writing at DebraLButterfield.com.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DebraLButterfieldAuthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DebrasBlog

Books are available on Amazon.

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What would you advise your teenage self?

DrawingTeenCouple

A happy couple, drawn in high school.

Here is a pep talk I would give my 15-1/2-year-0ld self if I could. I borrowed the post from the group blog I also write for, The Scriblerians.

With the wisdom you’ve acquired, what would you say to your younger self?  (Even if you’re still in high school.) https://thescriblerians.wordpress.com/2016/06/14/pep-talk-to-my-15-%C2%BD-year-old-self/

 

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The Other Good Stuff Inside Your Book—My Fave 5

readabook

Image courtesy of Morguefile free photos

A short discussion in a writers group I belong to prompted me to write this post. The question presented: What should an author say in the Dedication for a book?

First, I’m not sure an author needs to dedicate a book at all. I have a novel near my desk right now that doesn’t include one. But I gave my two cents worth in the discussion as to the individuals an author might mention.

That led me to think about all the other stuff, in addition to the manuscript, that an author writes or provides the publisher before the book is sent to press. Constructing or selecting them takes careful thought and precious time, so why not prepare them in advance?

Dedication:

This is usually short and poignant. I’ve seen a single name as well as one or two sentences, and sometimes they bring me to tears. The dedication mentions someone or something that inspired or supported you, your writing, or this particular book, but not necessarily took an active part in the writing or production. The dedication doesn’t have to mean anything to the reader. It indicates a close personal relationship with the author, and only the dedicatee needs to understand it. Yes, “dedicatee” is a real word.

Acknowledgments:

Now we get to the thanking, sort of like an acceptance speech at the Oscars. The big-name authors tend to keep it down to a single paragraph or page, if they provide one, and it usually appears near the back of the book. Most of the authors I read include one to three pages of acknowledgments, three being rather long. But I actually read them. Mostly to see if any of the individuals mentioned are also  in my acknowledgments. (I belong to a large network of writers that support one another.) Usually the acknowledgments start with thanking a spiritual influence, work through the publishing professionals that made the book possible, then the writing/critique partners, and end with family members or a spouse. Some authors give entire names, others only first names.

Select Quotations:

These sometimes appear right before the body of the work. I haven’t selected or included any in my books so far, but I often enjoy reading them in others. Sometimes authors choose biblical or other spiritual verses, or quotations from favorite authors or other notables. The quotations usually hint at themes or the author’s personal feelings.

List of Resources:

If a novel for middle grades or young adults addresses issues like mine do, such as coping with Alzheimer’s or adjusting to a blended family in 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status, the author or publisher may wish to include a list of resources in the back of the book. I appreciate such lists when I read fiction, as young readers, parents, and educators probably do.

Discussion Questions:

Discussion questions come in handy for book clubs, librarians, parents, and educators. I include these. When writing them, I find myself digging deeper into the themes of my stories, and that benefits me when I speak about them.

There are additional pages that an author or publisher may include in novels or anthologies, fiction or nonfiction, prose or poetry.

The five I’ve mentioned are the ones I encounter most often and enjoy.

What is the most memorable dedication, acknowledgment, or quotation you’ve seen in a book—or perhaps written? How do you feel about resource lists and discussion questions?

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Have You Heard? Bird Face is back, Bay-baaaay!

sw_Listening_sa209430-2  The first two books of the new Bird Face series have been released by Write Integrity Press! Look for 8 Notes to a Nobody and 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status in paperback and Kindle versions on Amazon. Please consider asking your school, public library, and local bookstore to carry them too. You are an important voice to spread the messages that Wendy’s stories have for young people: they are wonderful, valuable, powerful, and worthy of love.

8 Notes to a Nobody Cover Final Front10 Steps to Girlfriend Status FRONT COVER

I’m so grateful to you for sticking with me on this blog throughout the long process of finding a good home for Wendy and her friends. I will continue to share with you the joys and struggles of writing and getting published. I hope you’ll also share yours with me.

See you again soon!

Cynthia T. Toney

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Decorating the Real and Fictional Worlds

Maybe it’s because I spent a number of years working as a decorator, but description of settings in a novel is important to me. I like to read enough detail about the location for any scene to get a clear mental image.

I would rather see too much description and skim over some details than receive too little information. When I can’t picture the setting from the author’s description or from my personal experience (as in contemporary realism), I feel like a blindfolded captive.

Where am I???

Image courtesy of Morguefile free photos

If a reader is more into action than ambiance, he may not appreciate the way I use home furnishing descriptions in my scenes. That’s okay. But I use them to help the reader understand not only the physical setting but also the scene’s tone and the characters’ personalities or emotional state. My decorating experience taught me to understand a client’s needs, desires, and fears when it came to creating an interior environment for him or her. That understanding is reflected in my writing, I hope.

If a character sits in a chair, he interacts with it. How does it look and feel to him? Does the color remind him of something pleasant or unpleasant? A writer can go overboard, but some outward detail can offer the reader inward details about the character.

Whether the fictional environment is a home, a public building, or the wild outdoors, the setting description is an opportunity for the writer to reveal more.

So why not decorate the space and make the most of it.

Do you enjoy reading many setting details or can you do without them? Does it make a difference whether the setting is historical, contemporary, and/or fantasy or science fiction?

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