Sunday, January 30, 2011

Know Thy Genre

You would think this one would be a no-brainer, yet you would be surprised!

There seems to be a movement within the unpublished/self-pubbed author community that is rebelling against genre.

That some how being 'labeled' and 'branded' is the antithesis of art.

Um...we could debate a lot of finer points about this, but I am simply going to ask you one question that I know ask any pre-client that chaffs at the concept of identifying 1 major genre with 2 minor sub-genres...

Do you want to sell your book?

If no, then great. This isn't a very helpful blog for you and you might want to go read some of my story structure or dialogue blogs.

If the answer is yes, then you really need to not only embrace your genre, but research it as well.

Know the top 5-10 authors in your main genre. Know what they are doing. What stories they are writing, what elements they are hitting hard.

And no, I am not recommending that you write for the market, although in this new digital age it actually is becoming more and more of an option if that is your thing. I am advocating that you know WHAT the market is.

I love my colleague and fellow Blog Tour de Force author ("Irish Moon"), Amber Scott's take on this... If we were about to start a T-shirt company, any business consultant worth their salt would tell us to research, research, research our competition. Writing is no different.

Can you imagine if we put in all the time and effort to build a company, get vendors, hire employees only to find out that someone else (usually much larger) is already making "Team Edward" t-shirts?

Your time investment in your book is equally valuable. Don't squander it!

Also can you imagine if you were making "Team Edward" t-shirts and ardently refused to call your product a t-shirt and refused to use any reference to "Twilight" in your marketing campaign.

Plus, you are writing a book meant to be read (if, of course you answered 'yes' to the above question). And each genre has their own set of 'rules' and expectations from the reader.

For example, most high fantasy novels tend to be long since the reader expects a lush world building experience and lots of description. You could turn in a 500 page fantasy manuscript and no one would blink.

A 500 page urban fantasy manuscript? WHAT? Way too long for the most part.

That is why I advocate that you go and buy the top 5 books in your genre (plus more if able) and check page count. Read for similarities and differences.

Then, and only then, figure out a way to put your unique spin on it, because after all that is why someone would want to buy YOUR book!

I will be talking about this subject in depth on my radio show at 2pm PST on Saturday so tune in or better yet, call in with your questions!

Also today is the last day of the Blog Tour de Force so head on over to the IBC blog to join in on a scavenger hunt to end all scavenger hunts to get entries to win that Kindle!!!

And to anyone who commented on my last blog for a free eBook of "HeartsBlood" please have patience! I also hosted on @craftycmc blog and had over 128 comments so I am slowly working my way through those to give away. If you haven't gotten yours yet, please check your comment and be sure that I can easily contact you (either through your blog, an email or twitter handle).

Thank you so much and see you next week!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Work Shopping Your Writing

There are lots of techniques out there for improving your writing, but I have found none to be as helpful across the board than work shopping.

Actually I learned this from screenwriting where it is ESSENTIAL your dialogue crackles and your plot holds together (since you only get 100 pages to get it right).

I also went to a few prose writer's groups that did something very similar.

Trust me, hearing your words read aloud can either be the equivalent to angels singing in your ear, or finger nails on a chalk board.

Big gaps or slight imperfections are brought to light.

Now the only problem with work shopping is the caliber of the people you have in your group. Because let's face it, in most writing groups there are those people you just don't respect but they do great line edits so you let it pass.

Work shopping is a bit different. There needs to be a little bit higher level of trust. You have to really respect the other writers opinions to get the most value out of the experience.

Then it comes to who is going to read it.

Do YOU read it aloud? I usually don't recommend that since you know the work fairly well and many times, without you even knowing about it, you fix grammar, spelling, and word choice as you read along.

No, it is always better for someone else who is unfamiliar with the work to read it. But let's face it we are writers, seldom talkers. To get the best effect of a work shop, it truly is best to have a trained actor read your stuff.

Actors have great instinct about character and story and if you find them consistently 'not getting' your style, that is a good indication that you take a look at 'your style.' :-)

Again, this is one of those things where the caliber of actor you get is going to influence the how much benefit you get from the work shop.

Even outside the major metropolitan areas there are great actors. Look on-line for them. Post a Craigslist ad. A meetup group. Go to the local college or even high school.

Actors are always looking for new and different ways to perform and are usually eager to jump in. I can't tell you how much my own experience with actors (thank you Ben, @actingnodrama) has vastly improved my writing.

Work shopping (even more so than a writer's group) also has the side effect of being incredibly motivational (which of course you need if you are going to fulfill your "Absolutely No Excuse" campaign pledge to finish a book and publish it this year). There is a thrill like none other when you hear your words read and they work #trustme

Don't believe me? Tune into my BlogTalkRadio show every Saturday at 2pm PST where we talk craft, craft, and more craft! But this week we will be focusing on work shopping to improve your craft!

Tune in and listen LIVE or better yet call in and ask your questions live. If you aren't available on Saturdays at 2pm PST, no worries, you can subscribe via iTunes and listen to the archive! Listen right now!

If you would like to have your work read-on air, please email me at writingnodrama (at) aol (dot) com. Also if you would like to join on-line classes where we do a lot of work shopping, also just drop me a line or DM or @ me on the @writingnodrama stream!

Until next week! #keepwriting

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Blog Tour de Force!!!!

Stop #1 HeartsBlood!

That's right, people!

The Blog Tour de Force has officially begun and this little ole blog is where the fun begins!

For any of you who have been living in a cave, I am one of the founders of the @IndieBookIBC@amberscootbooks, @rachelintheoc and @LMStull we threw together the mother of all blog tours! plus I write a bunch of stuff. And I would love a bunch of people to read my bunch of stuff. So with

"Get Loaded...Your eBook reader that is"

That's right, 12 authors banded together to put together a Grand Prize package that includes... wait for it... a Kindle!

That's right, you can win a Kindle and not only that but have it loaded with all 12 authors books plus a gift basket filled with gifts from each author.

Even the 1st Prize is off the hook with all 12 authors giving your their eBook for free! And those are just the overall prizes.

Each stop on the way will have its own set of prizes from the author. Free eBooks. Free signed paperback copies. Individual gift baskets. You name it, it'll probably be given away!

But, let's get back to me #myfavoritetopic

Today we are celebrating my paranormal romance/urban fantasy "HeartsBlood"

How would I describe it? Um... how about I let a few reviewers do it for me?

Oh. Dear. God. I loved HeartsBlood!

When I was reading it, I couldn't put it down. When I wasn't reading it it was all I could think about. I loved that I couldn't figure out what was coming next. The plot was truly spellbinding.

Seriously, I laughed, I cried, I worried. And when I finished the book I wanted to pick it back up and start from the beginning again.”
Lori W. (@funkycakes)

HeartsBlood is a paranormal romance? I hate to argue with Carolyn, but this is a kick-but-and-take-names urban fantasy. No, it is a thriller. Wait. I think it might be an action packed story of love and magic that defies classification!

I fear only women will read HeartsBlood when it was one of the most exciting thrillers I have read in a long while!

Guys, take note HeartsBlood is for you too!”
Ben Hopkin (@actingnodrama)

Also please check out my review sponsors...

I really appreciate all their kind words! Please check each and every one of them out for their opinion of "HeartsBlood" (because Lord knows you shouldn't trust me!) plus find even more ways to enter the Grand Prize Drawing for that "Loaded Kindle!"

So Amber told me I needed to write something really pithy and fun for this blog. You know, something I hadn't told any other reviewer. That I really needed to hit it out of the park.

Obviously she has never read anything previous on this blog otherwise she would have known it was a lost cause (and thank gawd I am going first so you can't judge me against the others!).

But what I can say is... If Tyr (the uber-hot, stubbled, tall, dark and dangerous hero from HeartsBlood) came walking down the street...
a) I would swoon
b) He would step over my unconscious body
c) I would be okay with that!

The other really cool thing about the Blog Tour de Force is that I got meet a lot of really great other indie authors. The first I'd like to mention is Kris Tualla. Her "A Matter of Principle" is historical fiction at its best.

The third in her series, you are going to love the chemistry and romance of Nicholas and Sydney. Set in St. Louis during the 1800s, the plot unfolds like a delicious meal. Tempting tidbits of mystery to start, building to an incredibly satisfying conclusion, with, of course, a silky smooth dessert to finish it all off with.

You are going to want to immediately go out and buy books 1 & 2! I know I did!

"A Matter of Principle's" Blog Tour day is tomorrow 1/18 so hit her up here! #seriously #Iwillbewatching

Then there is Susan Schreyer's "Death by a Dark Horse." Being a veterinarian you can imagine how hooked I was by a book with one of the main characters being a horse suspected of murder! I mean, come on! I get to use my veterinary and my love of police procedure to solve a crime! How often does that happen #notnearlyenough

Even if you aren't a horsey-girl like myself, I think you will find the complicated relationships and exquisite mystery more than satisfying in and of itself.

Susan's blog day is January 29th. Mark your calendars so you can hit her up here (or better yet sign up for our newsletter so you don't have to 'remember' anything! Get a daily reminder along with author news and super secret BONUS ways to enter the Kindle give away!).

Also don't forget that the tour will conclude at the Indie Book Collective on January 31st with an incredible scavenger hunt for loads of different ways to enter the Grand Prize drawing for that free Kindle!

Plus you can go to and sign up for our newsletter - just that alone gets you 5 entries into the drawing for brand spanking new Kindle, plus you get fun content from the authors and EXCLUSIVE ways to rack up lots of entries! Sign up NOW!

But what about HeartsBlood you ask? What spectacular prizes are you giving away TODAY?

Why, I am so glad you asked!!!

First off, anyone who follows this blog and leaves a comment (even 'yo, Carolyn') gets a free eBook! #howawesomeisthat

Second my gift basket is in my opinion, kicks some serious booty!

Not only do you get a free eBook, but you also get a signed paperback copy of "HeartsBlood" along with a gift basket that includes some blood red nail polish (for obvious reasons), a cut crystal necklace just like the one in "Heartsblood," and a hand-stained and burned-in leather bookmark. A truly unique keepsake! And a "Hello Kitty" pen, just to keep it real. #Iamsuchagiver

How do you enter for the "HeartsBlood" gift basket? Simple!
Simply go to and download your free 100 pages. Then simply leave a comment with your favorite line from pages 24-30! #toldyouitwassimple!

Oh, and did I mention that I need your help to kick the other author's butts? Because for us authors there is a free book trailer at stake! And I know how much you want me to be the proud winner! So please remember to go the the Indie Book Collective blog on Jan 31st and vote for me!!! #youknowyouwanna :-)

Alright, I am going to wrap this puppy up with a great big THANK YOU to all my readers, hope you enjoy "HeartsBlood" and I can hardly wait to see who wins my gift basket!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

You have realized you are a writer... But no one else seems on-board???

Yes, I have heard you loud and clear on the stream.

Maybe you have even embraced my "Absolutely No Excuse" campaign and are determined to write and publish a book this year.


No one else in your world thinks that's a good idea. Maybe your parents think it is a total waste of time. Your kids see it as a real inconvenience to their taxi service, and let's face it even the dog wants to go on more walks.

So what do you do? Give up? Throw up your hands and let yet another year go by in which you dream of writing, but you know... don't write?

Or is this the year you figure it out? You figure out how to politely nod to those nay-sayers yet still apply some time management skills to your life and find the time to write... consistently?

It would be wonderful (and for those of you who do have support on the home front, I am a little jealous so just count your blessings and don't rub it in :-) for everyone in our lives to embrace our writing and help us in any way possible.

Ya, right! Most of us have family and friends that look at us like we are crazy and either exude a kind of apathy at helping you achieve your goals, or sometimes are downright determined to sabotage you.

Yes, that sucks. But hey, that's life.

Remember your story is YOURS. It was given to you by whatever muse you believe in. It was not a small gift, but an extraordinary one. No one else in the world has one exactly like it.

It isn't your family or friends decision to see that story through to the published end. It is yours.

So... you know... write it.

I am here to help you in any way possible :-) :-) :-)

How can I help you ask (ok, you didn't ask, but throw me a bone :-) ...

I have the BlogTalkRadio show every Saturday at 2pm PST where we talk craft, craft, and more craft! Tune in and listen LIVE or better yet call in and ask your questions live. If you aren't available on Saturdays at 2pm PST, no worries, you can subscribe via iTunes and listen to the archive! Listen right now!

I am also offering on-line writing classes for the new year. Actually more like coaching. No lectures per se but evaluating work and giving advice/critique/techniques to take your writing to the next level :-)

If you want more info on the classes just @ or DM me on Twitter @writingnodrama or email me at writingnodrama (at) aol (dot) com. I offer group/semi private/private classes!

And on a final note, next week I will be hosting my stop on the #BlogTourDeForce blog tour for my new paranormal romance HeartsBlood. Please stop by the blog will be fun and there are a ton of prizes up for grabs including a brand spanking new KINDLE!

For more info just hit up

Until next week!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Wriiting Workshops...The Writing Without The Drama Way!

So after putting out the "Absolutely No Excuse" challenge I got flooded with requests to help people not only embrace the challenge but to get their story into publishable shape.

After threatening to do this for months, I have finally been convinced to start workshops.

These are an intense 1 hour to1 & 1/2 hour group workshop where I look at each person's (if 5 people are in the session, it is an hour if we have more it will run 1 1/2- 2 hours depending on the number of people maximum of 10 people) writing and pin-point its strengths and weaknesses.

Each person's work will get about 10 minutes each, but I am telling you that you will want to stick around for the whole session because you actually learn more when it ISN'T your work being discussed. You aren't nervous, or tense and can take in way more information plus you learn things you didn't even realize you could use until 2am a month later when you go "Ah-ah! That's what Carolyn was talking about!"

Any level of writer can join the workshop. If your stuff is nearly ready for publication, I can help polish it until it shines. If you are just in your first edit stage or even still writing the manuscript I can give invaluable pointers to make your life easier and your writing more powerful.

We don't hold hands. We don't sing around the campfire, we just roll up our sleeves and analyze and enhance our writing!

The cost is $10.00 per session.

The sessions are on Saturdays and start at 3pm PST (right after my radio show on Blog Talk Radio at 2pm PST which has TONS of tips and tools for free). Please schedule at least 1 1/2 hours of time to dedicate to the workshop since part of the workshop is getting feedback from your peers as well and for you to give feedback to your peers :-)

If you are interested simply email me at craftycmc (at) aol (dot) com.

I will put your name on the list and give you instructions on how to pay (all payment must be made by Saturday at noon to make it for that day's session).

Once you have made your payment, you will be sent instructions on how to attend the webinar (you will need a computer and either call in or use your computer's headset to listen in). I will be sharing my desktop so everyone can see the words on the page and any notes I may write about them ;-)

I can't wait to workshop with you!!

***Additional information...
Okay, I have already gotten a bunch-o-questions so let me address them here...

Yes, this workshop is geared towards the serious writer looking to get their work in shape to be published. That includes anyone that has just written their first chapter ever to someone who is polishing their fourth novel. It isn't the stage of your career that tells you whether this workshop is for you, it is YOUR level of dedication to improving your writing.

Yes, this will be a loving, emotionally safe and supportive environment... and at the same time be very honest. Too many authors attend class or workshops or get told by family and friends that their writing is 'great' only to spend all the time and energy on publishing only to find it, you know... sucked... or worse wasn't commercial.

See below for the list of questions I ask all participants to answer for their fellow writers. I know I will be honest. Not brutal, but honest in my assessment of your work. If I feel it is not in publishable shape, I will tell you so. If I would not buy the book based on the pages submitted, I will tell you so. The beauty of The Writing Without The Drama way is that I will then give you very specific ideas on how to improve any weakness I detect :-)

*** More details on how this writing workshop will be conducted.
Before each session, everyone will submit 10 pages. If this is your first session that will be the first 10 pages of your book. And that is all you submit. Just the title of the book, your name and those 10 pages. Do NOT include genre, age group or other information. I want these reads to be COLD. This gives us all the best information back without any preconceived notions that muddy the waters.

Everyone signed up for the session will read all participants' 10 pages.

Everyone will answer the following 3 questions for each submission:
What genre did you feel these pages represented?
What age group do you feel these pages were geared for (ex. Everyone, Grade 12+, YA, etc) ?
Based on these pages would you buy this book?

Okay, hopefully that answered this round of questions, I am sure I will be back with more info and the questions roll in :-)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The "No Excuses" Campaign...

Ok, so not so much a campaign as me just telling you that there is no absolutely no excuse IN THE WORLD that you can't write, edit, and publish your own book this year.


If you want to go the traditional route, no worries, let me rephrase. "There is absolutely no excuse IN THE WORLD that you can't write and edit a book and submit it to every appropriate agent/editor and if you don't get picked up, publish your own book this year.

I don't care if you don' have a word written yet. I don't care if you haven't even outlined it. Doesn't matter, you can do it.

And for all those frustrated NanoWriMos out there.... yes you can either take that hot mess you created in November and edit a book out of it or simply use the skill set you developed in November to write a whole new book.

Got a manuscript you abandoned to your drawer 5 years ago? Cool, let's work on that.

The whole entire point of this "campaign" is simply to get us ALL in the head space that there is nothing scary, difficult, or daunting about writing a book and getting it out into the world. NOTHING.

Is there editing? Sure.
Is there crying into our hands that we can't write as well as Stephen King (I refer, of course, to the early years)? You betcha.
Is there staring down our inner critic and firing their ass? Um... definitely.

But the question simply becomes, do you want to write a book or not?

If the answer is yes, please leave the ennui at the door and come on in.

Now I can hear the outrage, the pounding of fists, and general clamor.

I'm too busy! My kids have soccer! My boss is a taskmaster!

Perfect. You have just described in one way or another just about all of us. We are ALL busy. We all have time constraints. We all wish we had a three month vacation with free beverages alongside a sandy beach to write at a leisurely pace.

Um... we don't. So now is a perfect time to figure out how you are going to work in writing (then editing, then marketing) into your schedule.

We find the time to brush our teeth (ok, most of us), we can find time for this.

I am probably going to write 2-4 books this year. I know I am going to. Because, you know, I have done it before.

But did I know that the first time I sat down to write a book? Nope. I had to take it on faith.

So here's to the "Absolutely No Excuse" Campaign!

Leave your commitment in the comments below!!!!

I will be checking in at least one a month to keep everyone on track!

Oh, and if you need more help than that I am getting together on-line writing classes. Actually more like coaching. No lectures per se but evaluating work and giving advice/critique/techniques to take your writing to the next level :-)

If you want more info on the classes just @ or DM me on Twitter @writingnodrama or email me at writingnodrama (at) aol (dot) com. I offer group/semi private/private classes!

Also don't forget that I have a BlogTalkRadio show every Saturday at 2pm PST where we talk craft, craft, and more craft! Tune in and listen LIVE or better yet call in and ask your questions live. If you aren't available on Saturdays at 2pm PST, no worries, you can subscribe via iTunes and listen to the archive! Listen right now!

Have a great (writing) week! :-)