Sharing the Toys…er…Tools

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Toys, toys, toys, oh the shiny toys.
Oops, I really mean tools! Because as writers we don’t have time to play, do we?

Summertime is my time for writing. The other times of the year I’m busy with my landscape business. So this is when I get to explore what’s up-and-coming in the industry, all those wonderful things I put aside during my busy season. Now I can finally read books on my list about the industry as well as for entertainment.
And speaking of entertainment, even though these tools  seem self-indulgent, they are meant to grow my writing experience and business, but I have to it admit they are fun. Maybe it’s learning a new skill, exploring the possibilities of what your book can do, or making fun graphics for your promotions, it feels more like play and work. This summer I’ve indulged in a few new toys

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Kindle Rocket this is a great tool for helping you understand the keywords you need to promote your book and find out what books you’re competing against in your own category.
KD Spy. Another new tool to help you with promotions. Picking the right categories and niches and positioning yourselves and your book where it needs to be.
Natural Reader. Oh my gosh, the mistakes this thing finds for me! I use this tool to read back my work in progress letting me catch mistakes of my eyes don’t see. (The only thing to keep in mind; if you want to make corrections as you read, you’ll need to get the software, not the online app.)
Covers Sell Books. I will freely admit that this is the most fun I’ve had in a long time. This program will let you take your book cover to create a 3-D picture you can use for making ads and post for all the major sites. But beware, hours can be lost using this program.

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These are just four of the many programs out there. Most of these programs will have a free trial. And I encourage you to use it. As indie authors everything about putting our books out for sale falls on our shoulders. Why not find it used the tools will help you achieve your goals?

Victoria LK Williams

*I have not received any benefits from any of the above companies-I simply wanted to share what I have used to help me in my writing. 

Writing is Hard Work, not a Hobby!

 

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I love to listen to U-tube as I drive. There is some great information out there that not only educates you, but can also amuse and stimulate your thoughts. Most of what I listen to is about the writing craft; from the words on the page to selling those words. Yesterday I ran across not one, but two hilarious videos  about what not to say/ask a writer. I was laughing so hard, the other drivers around me had to think I was nuts.

I agreed with 90% of what the authors said, but 100% on the question “how’s your hobby doing”. It got me thinking…

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Anyone who has sat down and wrote a book will agree that this is not a hobby. It’s darn hard work. Time consuming, energy draining, mind shattering work! So, I thought I’d share with the potential writer (or the helpful person who just doesn’t get it) my process. There are things I’m sure I’ve missed, and this is a broad over-view. Each item on this list has multiply levels and tons of details that need to be taken care of. Every author has their own process, the things that are important to producing their books.

For the new writers-I hope this helps guides you through the process. For the friends and family looking in from the sidelines, I hope this opens your eyes to the reason we spend so much time on each book. And I thank those of you on the sidelines for all your support-we need it to keep going.writing process for me

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Victoria LK Williams

Pssst…some deals!

Just a quick note to let you know that I have submitted a few books and sample chapters to INSTAFREEBIE. It’s a great site for readers to find new authors, or sample new books from favorite authors.

What’s even better is I am going to provide with direct links to a few of the many “giveaways”. These are where a group of authors, with similar genres participate as a group to give readers the chance to find their books. It’s so much easier that wading through hundreds of books that may not interest you!

I am participating in each of these giveaways I’m listing. I hope you find ton’s of new reading material and give a new author the opportunity to entertain you. Simply click on title above the banner to be taken directly to the giveaway. If you’re not an Instafreebie member, its easy and free to sign up for!

Summer Cozy Mysteries

insfre summer cosy

Christmas in July

insfre christmas in july

Mysteries of the Heart

insfre mysteries of the heart

Sweet Poison

insfre sweet poison

Sweet Clean Romance

insfre sweet clean romance

Paranormal Romance Mystery

insfree paranormal romance mystery

I hope you find lots of reading material. Let me know if this was helpful!

Happy Reading.

VictoriaLKWilliams

Author- know your Characters!

How well do you know your characters?

Are they close, like a best friend, or are they a vague notion on a piece of paper?

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The characters will determine the intimacy of how much you get to know them. Minor characters are like ships passing in the night, and there may not be a reason to go in depth about what makes them tick. But, for your protagonist and the sidekick it’s essential. Even for the antagonist is essential – almost as much as the protagonist.
Although you can’t put everything  about your characters down on paper, you should know them. Be familiar with them as you are with your family-even better. After all, they are your creation and you need to understand how and why your character reacts to something you are plotting.
Now granted, just like human beings, your characters will change in time as you go from book 1 to book 10. They must, or they will become flat and boring. A perfect example of this is Harry Potter. If the young wizard had stayed the same frighten boy living under the stairs, you would have never read the rest of the series to learn of all the wonderful adventures (and dangers) that he faced while fighting the evil Lord Voldemort.
Expect that your characters will grow, just as you grow as a writer. Knowing your characters inside and out isn’t just knowing they have blond hair and blue eyes, or they have a southern accent.

Knowing your character involves understanding how they react to situations we, the writer, put them into. How will your hero react to criticism or complement? How will your heroine react when faced with danger or romance?
As a writer, I think we have to know ourselves in order to answer these questions about our characters. Be honest; isn’t a part of us in each one of our characters?

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There are always different character profiles and different ways to come up with them.   Some great computer programs are available to  help you  keep track of all the details. Or perhaps a good old-fashioned piece of paper in a notebook. There you can jot down the traits of your character, both physical and physiological.
I’ve found character casting is a lot of fun. This is where you find pictures of people you think would be like your character, not only in looks but in actions. I love to use pictures of actors from old shows I loved. I remember what the actor’s charter was like, and that’s the picture I borrow for my casting.

I’ve seen or used all of these methods. I feel the ones which work best ask questions about your characters, causing you think beyond the obvious. These methods don’t simply have you filling in the blanks about how tall is your character or their eye color. Instead, they asked the questions about what is your characters favorite childhood memory, what is your character afraid of.
See the difference between the two types of questions? Even if you don’t write everything down, I think a good writer needs this information back of her head.   Putting it down on paper just keeps a clear.
So, let me be noisy and ask you this; is your relationship with your character like a first date, where you’re just trying to find out things about them to decide if there will be a second date? Or does it feel as if you’re in a 50-year-old marriage and you can finish each other’s sentences?

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If you’re still in the dating stage, I suggest you ask more questions. You need to know your characters; you might need to reign them in one day when they take your story in a different direction. If you don’t know how they will react, your story will get away from you. When it gets out of your control, then how will you be able to keep the reader interested?
How do you get to know your character? Share your methods with us.

www.VictoriaLKWilliams.com

Hi-ho, hi-ho, its off to camp we go!

My bags are packed and I’m running away for the month of April!

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Of course this is only in a virtual world. April is the first of the Camp NaNo months and I’m exciting to take part.

The camps are a bit more laid back than NaNoWriMo, with less emphasis on 50,000 words and more on your cabin and new writing friends. This is the time to finish up goals which may not have been completed (guilty!) in November and re-connect with other writers.

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I think this is what I love about the camps-the connection! No one understands your misery more than someone also going through the same process. This is the 4th year I’ve opened a cabin up, and I’m thrilled to see old friends return. This year there are  new writers joining us and I’m looking forward to getting to know them as well.

There is a special bond that forms here, one that will never fade. Encouragement is freely given, helpful ideas are tossed around and constructive criticism is offered if asked for and venting is allowed at any hour of the day or night.

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So, we authors set our goals and aim for our targeted number of words as we juggle or daily tasks, jobs and family. To those around us; have patience it’s only for a month.

At least until July rolls around!

http://www.VictoriaLKWilliams.com

This Year, Next Year…

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Like most people, the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve can be a time of reflection and relaxation before the year-end. All the craziness of the holidays is pretty much in the past and it’s time to look forward to what the new year can bring. Whether you’ve decided to break a bad habit, lose weight, or chase a longed-for goal, the new year always seems to be the time to start.

 

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Remembering 2017

During this week between Christmas and New Year’s, I’ve been doing a lot of reflection on what happened over the last year. And I must admit, it’s been an exciting year!

 

Before I go any further, I’d like to thank all of those who follow my blogs, read my books, and supported me in my writing journey. The notes I get from readers asking when the next book will come out, or pointing out something that caught them at the heartstrings makes it all worthwhile. It makes me want to write the next book.

So, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

 

Over the past year I’ve continued the Citrus Beach Mystery series, and I admit I like where it’s going. There will be a new book coming out in February. I also started a new series in a slightly different category of cozy mysteries. Storm Voices, is a paranormal romantic cozy mystery. (Did you get all that?) I’ve also continued with the Sister Station series. I’m working outlines for new books and series I want to tackle in 2018.

 

The most exciting things that this happened for me personally? My husband has decided that my writing is something to be taken seriously and promised to give his full support. What more could you ask for!

 

Now, as I look forward to the new year, one of the biggest steps I’ll be taking is to leave the comfort zone of the Amazon Kindle Select program and put my books out to be distributed widely amongst other distributors. Now you can buy my books on Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Ibooks, Inktera, Playster, Scribed, Tolino, 24Symbols, and Overdrive.

 

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This is a big step, but I think it will benefit my goals. I’ve also incorporated my writing under the company name of Sun, Sand & Stories Publishing. My hobby has grown into a legitimate business, and in 2018, I will expand on it.

 

I plan on taking part in the NaNo projects and other challenges amongst other writers.

 

I’m pleased to be the creator of a new Facebook group called Writers of the South (I encourage any writers out there from the South join). I will also take some online courses in writing I downloaded – it’s exciting to continue learning new things about the writing craft.

 

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Okay, I must admit, looking at this list I’m feeling exhausted and overwhelmed and it’s not even January 1st. But baby steps; one page at a time, one paragraph, one sentence, one word at a time! That’s the only way my goals will be achieved.

 

I wish you and your family the best for the New Year’s, and hope that all your dreams and wishes will come true. Stay happy and safe in 2018!

 

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Our Writing Community

 

I’ve owned my own business for 18 years and been in sales for well over 30 years. I can honestly say the competition can get fierce. Most businesses protect their products and services like they were protecting Fort Knox.
But, as you know, over the last few years I began writing books. I learned very quickly that other writers are not my competition. They’re mentors, cheerleaders, councilors and friends. I’ve never been in an industry where others are so willing to give advice, help, and encouragement.

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A perfect example is when I went to release my last book. I had created a huge snafu that could have resulted in major problems. But writers on forums where I am active on quickly and helpfully pointed out my mistake. They offered advice on how to correct my snafu, and ended up guiding me through the process. To say they save my behind is an understatement.
Oh, don’t get me wrong, like every industry there are those who are out for the Golden Buck. Yet, I’ve found these authors rarely stick around the different online chat rooms and forums because they are out for themselves.

I have learned so much from other authors and developed some great friendships. Yes, the Internet can be a wonderful place. You can exchange ideas and thoughts with other writers and not fearing riddicule. Wouldn’t it be nice if more industries and businesses took this point of view and attitude of caring?
I learned early in my business career to give back to my community. I hope that I’ve been able to get back to my writing community in small ways that will encourage other writers to sit down at the keyboard and put your thoughts to words.

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Think it’s a waste of time just sit and exchange ideas with others? Why?

You’re sharing a part of yourself and getting a the other authors view point. Between the two of you, something interesting might be created. I had one idea for a future book that came from a random statement from another writer.  Together we bounced off ideas until an outline was formed. How fun is that?
So, if you’re reading this and have questions about writing, feel free to email me. If I don’t know the answer, I can at least point you in the direction somebody that might. There are two forums online that I am an avid member of. One is Kboards, and the other is One Stop Fiction. I belong to many others, but these are the two that have guided me the most. They’re both open to new members, and I encourage you to join.

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Everyone loves a Gift

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Surprise!

We all love to receive a gift, especially a thoughtful gift that was picked up just for us. The more thought put into the gift the more it affects us and the more we treasure it. Unusual gifts tend to target the heartstrings little bit more.
For example, I’ve a customer who ever year his wife goes out-of-town to visit relatives. As soon as she leaves, he has me design a different section of her garden. One year was a butterfly garden, another year  the front flower garden, another year a herb garden. each year she comes back delighted and surprised with his gift that will last for years.

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This got me thinking about our characters in our books.
Do you give your characters a special or unusual gift during your story? Does this gift play an important part of the story’s progression? Did your character receive their gift either by some magical way or possibly by a loved one or maybe even a mysterious gift left by the doorstop?

I hadn’t thought about it, but my characters have all received gifts. For example, in book number five of the Citrus Beach Series (A Tank Full of Trouble) Aiden surprised Megan as he keeps sending making mysterious while he was out-of-town. Each gift leads up to a grand conclusion.

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In my upcoming series Storm Voices, my main character, McKenzie, is given a beautiful little gray kitten help her as she recovers from… well you’ll just have to read it and find out. These are gifts that are beyond the normal birthday, Christmas, or anniversary gift, they’re something special that our characters are not expecting and play a major role in the plot line of story.
What books have you read where the characters have been given special gift? Was it a gift of love, magic or surprise? As a writer, you have the ability to give your character something unusual that can be used in ongoing story lines.

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And authors, remember as much as we enjoyed getting gifts ourselves, our characters enjoy it to.

Use this to push your story forward and draw the reader into the life of your characters.

 

Keep the Confusion to a Minimum!

Do you ever get a feeling of Déjà vu when you’re talking to somebody?

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You know you’ve said those exact words, but somehow it doesn’t seem like you said it to the person you’re currently speaking to. Or you call somebody you know by another name and not even realize it.

In real life this can embarrass you, but as a writer it can also be very confusing to your reader. This has happened to me a few times, but I’ve caught my mistake before it went any further than the pages of my story. Keeping your character’s activities and personalities consistent is essential for a well-crafted manuscript.

Now image you must keep track of more than one project.

I find when I write multiple series at one time my imagination flows, but my work demands I stay focused. That conversation I thought I had? I did; but with other characters. And the character I so easily called by the wrong name is a character from a different series. These are common mistakes I’ve made, and I know there are more. They can quickly get out of hand when I’m writing multiple series. However, for me, the benefits of writing more than one serious far outweighs these little mistakes that can be caught and fixed.

When I write in multiples, it keeps my word count consistent. If I find I’m stumped on a scene or I can’t quite get to the research I need to finish, I can easily push one to the side and work on another. I use scrivener and this helps me tremendously because you can write by scenes and chapters. Scrivener allows me to move from one project to another as the ideas come, filling in where I need to.

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Another lesson I’ve learned to help me jump from project to project is having a ‘Series Bible’ for each of your series. This is essential, especially as you get deeper into each series you write. Most writers are thinking of scenarios constantly, and if one doesn’t fit in this book, it might fit in another. So why not write out your thoughts and insert them while they are fresh on your mind? Rather than waiting until you finish this book and increasing the chances of losing that thought or passage forever. In a society geared on multitasking, this is an excellent practice to begin. But only start a Series Bible if this method feels comfortable. If you’re the type of writer that needs to write the entire story out at one time tweaking as you go, then this method might not be good for you.

In your series bible, (using a notebook, program on the computer, or storyboard) you to keep track of your characters; their likes and dislikes, physical appearance, their mental capacities and anything else you consider important. Also keep track of the settings; where each scene is taking place, characters new to the series as they appear, personal interactions between characters. The list goes on and should be specific to your books. For instance, I write a cozy murder mysteries and I like to keep track of each method of kill; how does my main character solve the puzzle uniquely so none of my books have the same ending.

Use your Series Bible to write ideas as they come to you, outlining each new book in the series ahead of time. You may find the ideas you come up with are better suited for another series. Either way it’s important to get the ideas down in some form. After you’ve gotten the words written, then it’s easy enough to put your thoughts into a different Series Bible.

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Some people do better with a huge storyboard, outlining the same information where it’s visible to them always. There are also many programs for computers to carry out these goals. Even an Excel spread sheet will help your writing process. Whichever method you use, be sure to keep your Series Bible updated as you go along and refer to back to the information. There’s nothing worse than calling your main character a blue-eyed beauty, only to find out in an earlier book you gave her green eyes.

By having this information at your fingertips you’ll find it easy to check your facts. No matter what method you use, if you’re comfortable about putting your important information in one easy to use location, then it will be worth the time you spent.

Until next time, keep writing, Sam…er…Susan…

 

 

 

 

It’s all about the prep.

Don’t prepare and you might be preparing to fail.
No matter what you’re doing, the job is always easier when you prepare for it ahead of time. Whether you’re cooking a new recipe, planting a garden, building a bookshelf, or writing a book —preparation is the key to success.

There are those that say they are Pantsers and there are those say they are Plotters…

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But, I think, all in all, each of us does a bit of preparation before we sit down to write that first word. We have a general idea of what our book it’s going to be about. Who are main characters will be and the central setting we will create. A Pantser might stop right there and start writing. On the other hand, a plotter (like me) will sit down and do an outline. We want to get as much preparation done before we start making, making the writing process flow.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, there will be changes. Something comes up that makes your story go in a different direction, but if the outline is done and your notes are organized, then it’s easy enough to adjust and move on.
And so tomorrow begins the month of July. This is one of three months that I participate in NaNoWriMo. To me the preparation for this month (as well as April and November) are critical to my success. Writing 50,000 words in 30 days is more than a challenge it’s a conquest!

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Today is June 30th, and I wait with bated breath for midnight. Why? Because I’m ready to go. My outline is complete, I’ve got my first scene is written in my head and I’m just counting the hours to start. Yet, I can also look back and remember when there were times that I wasn’t so prepared. Because of this, I wasted precious time and word counts trying to figure out where I was going.
To all of you who have no preparations set out–there is less than 24 hours to be prepared. Turn off that TV and get ready!
And to all of you who are prepared and are waiting for that stroke of midnight-—good luck. I hope Camp NaNo is a rousing success and at the end of the 30 days you are pleased. Then you will hold a rough draft of your book in your hands, ready to edit and publish.

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Happy Writing!