donovanmneal

Posts Tagged ‘Writing’

I’ve written my novel: now what?

In Its resource Monday! on June 16, 2014 at 8:41 am

I've finished my novel now what

 

Happy Monday!  Today I want to introduce a resource that I’ve been wanting to provide for sometime.  A new non-fiction book entitled “I’ve finished writing my novel:  Now what?”

In the book readers will find a host of information.  Here’s a taste.

5 pros of traditional publishing
6 cons to traditional publishing
4 self-publishing myths
5 steps to publication
7 costs you must budget for
The 3 phases of editing
5 Self editing tips
Why its hard to self edit your own work
The 2 most important types of editing
The various types of editing
Where to find editors
Places to acquire great cover art based on your budget.
5 types of publication options
How to develop a marketing plan
What is a platform and why you need it.
How to create your author email list
How social media works in your marketing
7 inexpensive marketing options

All of the items are needed questions I wish I had known prior to launching my first novel, and answers to questions that I’ve learned over my experience now as a published indie author.

I figure people can learn from my mistakes and success, and go even further.  The actual hard back book is not complete yet but I’ve developed the seminar where I’ve distilled a lot of the information into a a nice PDF.  I’ve you would like a copy of that PDF for free…yes free! Just sign up here for my monthly newsletter, and I will send you a copy.  I guarantee you will be happy that you did.

In addition, I want to give a free autographed copy of my novel!  Yep an autographed copy in celebration of a couple things!

1. My getting my novel’s audio book version done.

2. The impending new release of this non-fiction book

3. The kindle countdown that starts tomorrow!  Yep my novel will be on sale starting tomorrow until Friday and you can get it for 99cents!

To get in on the raffle go on over to my website and enter!

Keep coming by my blog and I’ll be making more announcements shortly.  Until then sign up for the email list (no your email stays just with me..it’s not given to anyone.) so you can get your pdf!

 

Blessings!

 

Donovan

 

How to develop a novel character by answering 17 easy questions.

In Its resource Monday!, On writing on May 5, 2014 at 8:00 am

alignmentchartby4thehor

 

The power behind any novel is not just if it has an awesome plot.  But if it has characters that move the reader.  Character development is something that is learned.  It’s something that you can get better at.  But it starts with having a great template to work from.  Here is the template that I use in developing my characters.  I don’t profess that any of this is original.  Just that its pieced together from others who I’ve come to respect.  I figure perhaps this might work for other aspiring writers as well.

Now here’s the thing.  When you start a character you might not know all this.  If you are a pantzer who writes by the seat of their pants.  Then you might find these questions get answered organically as you write.  But whatever you do answer the questions at some point.

Answer these 17 questions and you will be on your way to have a great character for your work!

 

  1. What is the character’s name?
  2. A one-sentence summary of the character’s story line?
  3. The character’s motivation (what does he/she want abstractly?)
  4. The character’s goal (what does he/she want concretely?)
  5. What event launches the characters toward their first dilemma?
  6. The character’s conflict (what prevents him/her from reaching this goal?)
  7. What event strips the character of hope?
  8. What even pushes the characters to change?
  9. The character’s epiphany (what will he/she learn, how will he/she change?)
  10. What even shows the characters as their changed selves?
  11. A one-paragraph summary of the character’s story line?
  12. What is their role in story?
  13. What is their occupation?
  14. What is there physical description?
  15. What is their personality?
  16. What are their Habits/Mannerisms?
  17. What is their Background?

 

Donovan M. Neal

Hey if you enjoyed this article and are interested in more of my writing.  Please sign up for my email list here!

 

Inspiration Tuesday: Duel of the Fates

In It's Inspiration Tuesday!, On writing on February 4, 2014 at 3:22 pm

There are few things that would stand as an adversary to a writer as the enemy known as writer’s block.  The towering wall of inability to muster words to advance ones story.  The sheer frustration of being caught between two opinions, to find oneself standing in the proverbial desert looking across dunes of words that all look the same.  Directionless in your journey.  Observing nothing, but sand that silently echoes over more sand.  Nothing.

dunesBut then you move. Lumbering, walking forward looking for any sign of direction, any hope that might advance you in your prose.  It is then that you realize that war that rages within you.  A war to produce meaningful prose.  A war to combat fatigue, and procrastination.  To move ever forward in a relentless march towards your goal.

Never stopping, plodding along basking in swelter as your head pounds refusing to be quieted by all the Tylenol in existence.

You are dueling the fates.

Wrestling with the Darth Mauls that every writer who wields a pen or PC must contend.  Lost in the silent battle that is as ferocious as the sword saber slashing of any Jedi.

You — are dueling the fates.

Steadfastly you pound the keys swiping at any mirage that would serve as beacon towards your goal.

It is then that you discover and draw power and inspiration: you smash through the door and vault across the borders of silent muse.  To land steadfast ready to run towards the sanctuary of an oasis of prose.

You bask in the stream of consciousness that invigorates you and from which you draw strength. You savor every succulent syllabic strung sentence that smoothly rolls from off your pen.   Your muse has awakened.  Yet you are not fooled.  Although an oasis has found you but for a moment.  You look over the horizon of desert that you must still cross.  A desert that at whose end will yield to you a promised land of a first draft.

You are a writer–and you are dueling the fates.

D

Author Interview with Tony Ross

In Author Interviews, On writing on January 31, 2014 at 8:00 am

Tony Ross

Today’s interview is with writer Tony Ross.  Tony is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). His first novel, “Victor,” was released in 2011 and is currently out of print. “Victor: The Reloaded Edition” was released in January 2013 with a few details and minor changes made to the original story. The sequel “Orion” was released in October of 2013.

1.     So tell us about your book.  Why did you write it and who is it targeted towards?

I have two books on the market right now: “Victor: The Reloaded Edition” and its sequel “Orion.” Both are supernatural/sci-fi thrillers, aimed primarily at younger adults who read those genres. Readers have compared my style to Frank Peretti, Ted Dekker and Stephen King. I’ve also drawn comparisons, at least with “Victor,” to Robert Ludlum’s “Bourne” series. The action and suspense probably appeal more to men, but I’ve heard good things from female readers too.

Victor“Victor” won a silver medal in the Readers’ Favorite 2013 International Award Contest. The story is set in 2040 in fictional Sunlight City, where choice is the only law and all things are permissible. The decisions of three people will influence the future of the world: a gifted assassin trying to hold together his fraying sanity, a brilliant scientist with a world-changing secret who must unlock the assassin’s mind in order to survive him, and a streetwise, energetic detective with secrets of his own.  All three are bound by the darkest of secrets. Only the truth will set them free.

“Orion” features a young man, David, protecting a frightened woman from a killer. Faced with a deadly ultimatum, trapped by the weather in an overcrowded hotel slowly boiling over with fear and mistrust, David must protect the woman, find and stop the killer… and confront the darkest secrets of his heart.

I write these crazy stories, believe it or not, to minister. I don’t write Christian fiction strictly for Christians. We’ve heard the message already. Not everyone will read a book that’s clearly about Jesus, salvation, or Christian living. But if I can work those things into a fast-paced and entertaining novel, maybe a reader who doesn’t know God will decide, “Y’know, maybe I need to look into Christianity a little more.” And maybe I can encourage the Christian readers to take their walk with God a little deeper, beyond religion to relationship.

2.       What were some of the biggest challenges in writing the book?

Time to write is always a bit difficult to come by. Between family, work, ministry, etc., there are only so many hours in a day. I wrote most of “Orion” sitting at the kitchen table while my homeschooling kids did their homework. Beyond that, turning off my internal editor is always a trick. I need to tell myself that writing a truly “rough” draft is okay. I sometimes get hung up on plot points and stop writing for a few days while I kick things around in my head.

3.       What advice would you give new novelists?

Number one, write. It doesn’t have to be the next great American novel. Just write. I’ve done poetry, articles, short stories… You can’t hone your craft without using it. God’s given you the desire and the ability. Take every opportunity you can to perfect it.

Number two, read. A lot. Find out what good writing is. Why did this best-selling novel stand out? What didn’t you like in that other novel? What would you do differently? Don’t copy anyone, but learn from their styles and develop your own. Every good writer is a student too. Don’t be afraid or too proud to learn from those who have gone before. Learn from their experience.

Number three, pray every time you sit down with pen, pencil or keyboard. What does God want you to write? Really look for His will. You might have a plan, but God’s is going to be better and ultimately more fulfilling.

Other than that, research your publishing options. There are plenty out there and not all are good. I spent thousands to publish the original version of “Victor” and was less than satisfied with the results. I pulled “Victor” off the market, revised a few things, and released it as “Victor: The Reloaded Edition” through a different publisher. This time I saved thousands and am much happier with the end result. Save yourself the heartache and do your research before you publish.

4.       Tell us about your journey of faith.  How did you become a Christian?

This is a long story. Let’s see if I can provide a Cliff’s Notes version. I walked away from God in my teenage years. I had a lot of anger, bitterness and hurt to work through. By the time I turned twenty-two in 1994 I was a depressed, suicidal alcoholic who expected to be dead or in prison by twenty-five. God put a young lady into my life at that time who invited me to church. At the time she’d asked, I’d hit rock bottom and had nothing left to lose.

I went with that young lady to Calvary Apostolic Church in Clintonville, Wisconsin. I found a church that prayed and worshiped unashamedly, preached directly from the Word of God and welcomed me and all my issues with open arms. Over the next several months, I repented of my sins, was baptized by immersion in Jesus’ name and was filled with the Holy Ghost, just like we find in Acts chapter 2. God took a life that was completely hopeless, flipped it around and gave me a new and living hope.

Fast forward to the present day. I’ve been married to that lovely young lady since 1996. I have five beautiful kids, two boys and three girls. I’m part of the ministry team at Calvary Apostolic and have preached there since 2004. God has really done great things for me and I’m looking forward to the rest of the journey.

5.       Who are some of your favorite authors and or books to read?

My bookshelf is fairly diverse. Supernatural thrillers are my favorite, but I enjoy fantasy, mystery, westerns, a little bit of everything. I’m a big fan of Frank Peretti. I have a lot of Ted Dekker on my shelf. Robert Liparulo, Bryan Davis, and Mike Dellosso are also among the ranks.

6.       Now that you’ve written the book what other projects if any are you working on?

I’m just underway on “Brimstone,” the third book in my series. I’ve got a fourth in mind that should finish out the series, but I’m contemplating a series of short and very affordable ebooks, 20,000 words or so, featuring my characters at different points in their lives, telling new stories or letting readers see other sides of them.

7.       When did you start writing?

Oh, I don’t like math questions… (Laughs) Tenth grade. This would be… 1987-88. My English teacher had us write a journal. The first week we introduced a character, the next a second character. The third week was conflict, and so on. Most of my classmates wrote a sentence or two, a paragraph tops. I was writing pages. By the end of the year I had a 140-page handwritten epic, which really wasn’t very good, but I was hooked. At the end of the year my teacher told me, “Tony, you have one assignment for the summer. Get published.” I finally was in 2009. I hope she’s not mad that I’m late.

Tony Ross was born in Shawano, Wisconsin in 1972. In addition to full time factory work, Tony has been part of the ministry team at Calvary Apostolic Church in nearby Clintonville since 2004. He was married in 1996 and has five children.

Tony does somehow still find time to write what he calls “thrillers for thinkers,” novels that not only entertain but invite the reader to contemplate deeper spiritual points. While a Christian thriller may seem like an oxymoron, Tony believes it’s all a matter of perspective

I want to thank Tony for allowing me to get to know him and for spending time with my readers.  If you want to learn more about him and his books you can check out his website here.

Resource Monday: The 99 designs logo store

In Great Resources, Its resource Monday! on January 20, 2014 at 8:00 am

99 designs

Every Monday I try to bring to the audience helpful tips that will assist my fellows writers.

Today I would like to introduce a wonderful store that I have recently come into knowledge of.  For those of you have followed me you might know that I have used 99designs in the past to find the graphic artist for my current cover of my novel.  99 designs allows you to essentially find a freelance artist who will bid against other artists to design your work.  It’s a exceptional mechanism to obtain professional help at affordable prices.

What I have recently discovered is that 99desings has a store.  If you are like me you might have started to create a publishing business, if you plan to self publish.  So if that’s the case, have you thought what your logo will be?  Well let’s say that your budget doesn’t afford you the opportunity to have a logo created from scratch.  Well the 99 design stores allows you to browse their selection of logos, and purchase them for 99 dollars.  Per their website…

99designs1. Choose a logo you like

We have 40553 unique logos to choose from, all crafted by our experienced community of designers. All logos cost just $99, or if the logo has not been purchased before, you can buy it exclusively and own the full rights to the logo for an extra $199. More about the license agreements.

2. Our designers customize the logo for you

Once you’ve found a logo you like, let us know what customizations you’d like and we’ll get our experienced logo designers to do it for you. More on the customization process.

3. 24 hours later, it’s ready for review!

Within 24 hours, you’ll be emailed your customized logo.  You then accept the revision or request further changes if it’s not quite right. Logos are supplied in the standard industry formats of JPEG & EPS. More about what you get.

It’s a great service, and I plan shortly to utilize it myself to brand my publishing company.

Take a look-see!  I think you will be pleasantly surprised with what you find!

What it is like to be a writer.

In On writing, Personal on January 14, 2014 at 5:38 am
Revision doesn't have to be hard.

Revision doesn’t have to be hard.

I was once asked what it was like to be a writer.  And though I would never presume to speak for all writers.  I can definitely comment on my own experience.

Writing my novel was a labor of love.  Honestly, I don’t know if I should put more emphasis on the labor or the love part of that statement.

It meant being alone a lot.  Thinking about how subject matter should and could be tackled.  It meant discovering what the Bible had to say about the subject I was writing and what level of creative license I would take to explore things the Biblical text did not address.

It meant envisioning a world that I had never seen but only heard and read about.  Creating personalities, as opposed to automatons.  Characters that you might emphasize with, laugh with, champion, and learn to hate. It meant creating a world that was simple enough that people could engage in and view the movie that played in my head.  It meant asking what was this characters conflict?  What could prevent them from achieving their goals.  Figuring out plot lines. Learning more about grammar.  Realizing my limitations and seeking out more information.  It meant writers block, trying to figure out what ‘writers block’ was, and learning to overcome it.  It meant being disciplined sometimes, and not others.  It meant counting words, and seeing if I progressed today.  Figuring how to transition between scenes, how long chapters should be.  If the verbiage sounded right, or not write at all.  It meant, reading my work so much that I got tired of reading it.  To write 5, even 10 pages of text, then realize its drivel, and to delete a days or more work.

That’s some of the labor part.

Writing a novel is bringing something from nothing into reality.  It is just a concept, an idea, but to finally hold the completed work in your hand.  It’s an awesome feeling.  It’s an awesome feeling when you go to the copyright offices website and register your book.  It’s an awesome feeling when you see the cover of your novel for the first time.  It’s an harrowing endeavor to hand it over to an editor and then get it back knowing that you have to remove scenes or other bits of dialogue that don’t make sense.

It’s a nerve wracking experience to send out query letters to agents, and essentially trying to sell them to “pick me!” “pick me!”.  It’s painful when your work is rejected.  And then making the decision to do it again.  And again…and again….and again.  It’s a sense of wow, now how do I get this in the hands of readers?  It’s the soberness that comes when you realize that, your book is but one book out of the millions on Amazon.  When you realize, you need to start a business if you want to actually sell the book.  That you are more than a writer.  You are an authorpreneur, a marketer, graphic design specialist, editor, publisher, lay out artist, publicist.   The revelation that the author hat is only one of a hydra of hats.

It’s exciting to see your name and have others see your book and say,” wow, you’re an author?”  Or “Did you write that?”  “Where can I get a copy?”  “What’s your book about?”  There is an inevitable smile that occurs when the statement or question is raised.

That’s some of the love part.

You are elated when you get a one page registration letter from the copyright office indicating that they have your book on file and it’s officially registered.  There is no greater feeling than when someone reads your book, and they tell you how exciting it was to read, or what they learned, or how amazed they were.  It hits you in the gut though when someone tells you it stinks.  If your like me in those moments you look then to some of your favorite writers and see that they too have bad reviews.  And then you accept the reality that you are indeed an author.  You’re not just a writer anymore.  But a published author.

You lament when you find errors you thought you had corrected, embarrassed over a plot hole that you can see but others can’t.  Cringe when someone tells you it’s not a book Christians should read. Then confused when other Christians love it and get exactly what you were writing at.  It’s then that you realize that you have moved beyond your comfort zone of your own world, into the big world of…well the world.

You are excited over every blog post comment, interaction with readers, more and more you get it.  You are constantly reminded why you wrote the book.  You look at sales numbers.  You learn how to market.  You make connections that help strengthen you and your team that assists you.  You wonder where family and friends are or not in talking about your endeavors.  You make new friends and associates.

You learn how much to talk about your book without crossing the line of bragging or spamming or being inordinate in the accomplishment and promotion of your work.  You wonder if you’re me how to balance scriptural principles you’ve learned with the business of promotion.

You stretch, you live, you cry, you wait…you do a lot of waiting.

You learn a lot about people, yourself, and the business. And when no one else is looking.  When all eyes are not looking at you.  You sit silently behind your keyboard, hearing the clitty tap, sound of your keys while you quickly attempt to place on ‘paper’ the rapidly developing pictures and dialogue that is flooding your mind and which sometimes you can’t get out of your head fast enough.  You backspace, and try not to edit, and then sometimes you do, but the words, nouns, and verbs leap off the page screaming for you to allow them to live, to tell the next story.  To be part of the next piece of creative written prose given to you.  They scream with every stroke of deletion, lamenting in anguish that they have failed to be apart of the creative world you are imagining.  Yet others are arranged in such a way that they collectively sing in choral praise, excited to be brought forth into the world.

And that’s what its like to be a author.

And then you do it all over again.

 

D

It’s resource Monday: Story Cartel

In Great Resources, Its resource Monday! on December 2, 2013 at 11:04 am

Greetings fellow human being and authors.  Yes I make a distinction.  Today I bring you another resource to assist the fellow author in their quest to achieve the heights of best seller status, or at the very least assist you in your publishing goals.

Today’s resource is a gem that I have stumbled upon (no pun intended) called Storycartel 

In their own words Storycartel is a website that allows you to post your book on their website for free.  Yes I said free. Don’t panic.  In addition to posting your book for free you will be asked to provide a giveaway to readers who in exchange for getting your book for free acquire a chance to receive the giveaway, will give you an honest review.  Only those who actually post a review are eligible for the giveaway.

You have several options available to you to give away; again per the website, “We help every author on Story Cartel hold a drawing to give their reviewers one of the following prizes of the author’s choice: five print copies of their book, three $10 Amazon gift cards, or one Kindle eReader.”  The presumption here is that the eReader will draw more people to download your book, and subsequently to write a review.

In any event I chose the gift card route as it costed out to be the most economical choice in my case.

The authors book is posted for four weeks.   During this time Story Cartel will give you an estimate of the number of reviews you can expect to obtain based off of the numbers who are downloading your book.

Story Cartel keeps track of the number of downloads and gives authors access to a spreadsheet of the reviewers’ names and email addresses.  Remember, these individuals have wanted to read your book.  So used carefully these emails are a marketing gold mine.

After the conclusion of your campaign Story Cartel will email your reviewers reminding them to post their review and only those who submit a review are eligible to receive the final gift.

I found it to be a very rewarding experience, and if your an author in need of reviews I believe you will find it well worth your time as well.

D

Resource Monday: How to format your ebook for Smashwords to pass AutoVetter for $5

In Its resource Monday! on November 18, 2013 at 12:30 pm
Photo by tribehut

Photo by tribehut

Formatting you book for publishing is one of self publishing’s little known dirty secrets.  The reality is that no matter how good of a writer you are.  You will need to layout or rather format your work into one of several approved formats before it can be published.  It does not matter if it’s for kindle, epub or for some other format for you book.

When I tried to format my book to make it available for epub. I had a a difficult time doing it.  Barnes and Noble allows you to edit your book within their site if you are publishing.  But even then it was still unwieldy.  When I tried to upload my book to Smashwords, the “auto meat-grinder” gave me several errors, and it was a mess.  So much so that after hours I just called it quits.  Since then I’ve learned the best course of action is to simply have someone format the book for you so you can take the guess work and labor out of it.  To this end I have discovered a wonderful resource on http://fiverr.com/.

Ladies and gentlemen please meet my new friend Bookaholic.  Per his website…

“For only $5 I will format your Word document to pass Smashwords AutoVetter on the first run and be submitted to Premium Catalog (guaranteed!).

I follow Smashwords’ strict rules and my formatting always passes!

This offer is for documents under 50,000 words. For other options see my gig extras below, or order multiple gigs.

3 day duration is for longer queues, normally I format in a day or two.”

Now I don;t know about you, but to have someone take my document which in my case was $15 dollars for his services as I had over a 100k document was a wonderful thing.  He successfully converted my MS word document to a epub format that can get past the gatekeeper that is the meat grinder of Smashwords.  Because he converted it, it means it will work on ALL epub readers.  I can use the files he gave me to upload to any other publishing service (again think Barnes and Noble).  I have also used this file he gave me to update my kindle book on Amazon.  Needless to say.  Everything was perfect.

It was the best 15 dollars spent on my book.  And I have to highly recommend his services if you want your book laid out properly.

You can thank me later!  🙂

Donovan

Want Your Self-Published Book in Stores? Consider this…

In Great Resources, On Marketing on July 12, 2013 at 2:24 pm

thCASV650KEvery author dreams of having their books in brick and mortar stores.  This author is no different.  However, self-published authors have certain barriers to overcome that those going the traditional route don’t have to contend with.

In my efforts to promote not just my own works but also those of others I have come across an article that answers the above question.  Chocked full of great information you will find in this article a path to help determine how best to distribute and get your work to consumers.

The link can be found below

Enjoy!

http://www.pbs.org/mediashift/2010/06/want-your-self-published-book-in-stores-weigh-the-options161

12 Best in class software to write your novel!

In Great Resources, On writing on June 30, 2013 at 4:05 am

tools

12 Best in class software to write your novel!

Is the only writing tool you are familiar with with Microsoft Word?  Is it too clunky for you?  Doesn’t seem like its designed with the novelist in mind?  Well never fear.  In my search to bring you the best resources possible in completing your masterpiece.  I present to you this article in hopes that you will find that writing tool that works for you.

Enjoy