J to tha M Give Two Thumbs UP

What We’re Reading (J Got a Kindle. It’s On.)

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J: To honor Ebert, we should give a J to tha M spin on the thumbs up, thumbs down on the books we’ve read lately

M:  You want my list?

J: Hit me.

M: That might exceed our bandwidth. Maybe we should limit it to what we’ve both read. There’s got to be a couple, at least.

J: M, you know my recent history with books. Give it your best shot.

M: We both read Jeanette Grey’s Take What You Want this week.

J: I bought that one because you told me to. Thanks for that, by the way.

M: Really well written, great characters I fell in love with and could relate to

no big suspension of disbelief and that’s pretty rare lately. Especially after reading JR Ward. Heh.

J: I flew through it. Loved every second. Then I read the ending again.

M: I had an eyebrow quirk at the fact she didn’t recognize a cute guy in her class, glasses or not, but okay

but she made it all work.

Ellen was a great female MC and so well written to show her development and where she was at that stage of her life, trying to figure out who she was, what she wanted, and brave enough to go after it.

And Josh. So sweet and sexy. He was pretty confident and experienced for a somewhat nerdy college kid who lives at home

but it was super hot and really well-done, so again, it was only a fleeting “hmm”

J: i have actually been wondering about his confidence

I thought she might explain it

but I guess not

M: yeah. I mean, he’s too shy to even approach her for the past 3 or four years, but he has all that sexual confidence

There’s no mention of his past experience. A little about never bringing a girl home to meet his parents, like for dinner or anything, but that’s about it

but again, it didn’t bother me. I loved it. I loved Josh. Any book that sucks me right in, makes me feel for the characters, that I can’t put down until I’m done, I seriously love.

Big thumbs up for me. Read this. Go now.

J: I second the thumbs up. What’s next?

M: What else did you read?

J: Ummmm… I did end up reading a To Kill a Mockingbird again two weeks ago

it was an accident

I was looking for a quote for something I was writing and read the whole thing instead

M: Heh. I think we need to limit it to books written in the past decade or so.

J: Oh! I did read the Bride Series by Nora Roberts. I know you did, too. As a whole, thumbs up, but I’m not all the way convinced all the time.

M: Well, it’s been a while since I read that series – when it first came out – but yeah. I agree a thumbs up as a whole. I liked the Carter and Mal books. The one with Delaney was eh, and I don’t even remember who the other one was about. Guess that sums it up right there.

J: I thought Mal was kind of a caricature. I wanted him to be sexy, but I kept picturing Joey Buttafuoco. Not sexy. Also, it’s never more apparent that she writes the same story over and over than when you read four in a row. But still. She makes me feel. Even if it’s the same feelings every time.

M: That’s a good point. The Bride series was far from my favorite of hers. I haven’t had the same intensity of feeling from her books lately. I haven’t even read the new one – the Inn series. I’m telling you, though, try her JD Robb series. Still amazing. I haven’t gotten that same-story feeling from those at all, and she’s, what, 30-some in now? Besides, you’ll love Roarke. Irish boy.

J: I haven’t enjoyed anything by her as much as I did the Irish trilogies. Go figure. I do have a paper copy of the first Inn book. This will change.

as I had suspected, I have gone nuts on the kindle

M:  easy to do

J:  free! free books on kindle

it’s crazy

i mean, I know this is a thing, but I never made use of it

it’s all so exciting

M:  haha – yes. That’s how I was. Free books! And then, even when they’re not, you just press a button and it appears

J:  that’s super dangerous

M:  best magic ever

J:  I have to really restrain myself with music, and now books, too?

I don’t have enough self control for that

M:  it’s really made me think about my reading habits as a reader and apply that to my writing

I mean, with all that’s available, if I’m not caught up in the first few pages of a book, I move on to the next.

too many to try, you know?

and it really brings home how important that first line, paragraph, page, chapter is

J:  that makes a lot of sense

if you go through the trouble of going to the bookstore, picking among thousands there, standing in line to pay, driving it home…

you might give it more of a go than the first few pages, simply because you did go through the trouble

M:  and you likely did a lot more research into it to go to that effort

or at least put more thought into it. with the ebooks, it’s just so easy to skim the blurb and pile them all on. so you do your thought afterward instead of before, kind of

J: Well, next week we can talk about Ben Monopoli again, because I’m now reading Cranberry Hush. KC Beaumont is my hero for introducing me to him.

M: Me, too. We can talk about that next week – I read all his. Cranberry Hush and Porcupine City.

J: Maybe he’ll hear us talking about him and come guest blog for us… We could stalk him until he agrees. You should get on that.

M: It worked with Jeanette Grey. We’re excellent stalkers.




On Editing: What Exactly Does a Developmental Editor DO?

What Happens the Morning After?

Guest post by Stacy Teitel

Developmental Editing

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Revision. That word is not music to every writer’s ears.

But I love it. LOVE. IT.

I revise extensively in my own writing, and as a developmental editor I help writers strengthen their manuscripts.

You, the writer, fell in lust with your story, although you can’t remember why as you look at the tangled, messy draft before you. It’s like the morning after a hot one-night stand, and the person snoring next to you isn’t as good looking as your vodka-induced brain had thought.

Well, now you have to shower, brush your teeth, and put on your big girl (or boy) pants. Then you call your developmental editor.

I answer my phone; don’t worry.

Because let’s face it—revising can be overwhelming. The word count goal is suddenly replaced with The Goal. And sometimes, the thought of revision is enough to make you crawl back to what’s-his-name from last night and convince yourself you could overlook all those bothersome things and fall in lust all over again.

As they say, write drunk but edit sober. It’s time to put away the vodka.

A developmental editor assists writers in revision, comes up with fresh ideas, and offers specific solutions. In addition to editing, my goal is to help writers get focused and organized, to a level where they can feel good about sitting down to revise so it’s not so daunting.

These are some of the tasks I do to a writer’s manuscript (and ones writers can use too):

  • Organize content to make sure plot points line up and are timed well within the structure (acts, moments of no turning back, final battles, etc.), identify gaps and loose ends, condense info dumps and look for ways to apply information in more useful contexts.
  • Ensure the conflict (opposing forces) is strong, and that the hero and antagonist have motivations.
  • Analyze characters for consistency and find opportunities to further develop traits, habits, reasoning, thoughts, and actions.
  • Check the pace and correct areas that may bore or confuse readers. This can be anywhere from heightening tension in a conversation to adjusting the timing of action moments and scenes for plausibility.
  • Look for areas to layer more setting detail and description to help ground readers, or to condense backstory and info dumps. This includes expanding on descriptions, helping descriptions work harder to reveal more information than what’s on the surface.

Additionally, make sure every scene has a purpose and that the end of chapters keep readers turning the page.

I’ve seen many a first draft, and when I work with writers, I want to get the best out of them, no matter what purpose they’re writing for.

Revision is only part of a writer’s journey, (or a necessary evil, if you prefer). But don’t you just love falling in lust love again? A final draft is something to hum about.

I’m always interested in how writers revise, how they tackle levels of revision, and who they rely on in their process.

So, how do you feel about revision? I love hearing from writers!

Also, I’m collecting feedback to keep myself informed about what writers struggle with the most in their work. If you would like to answer a few questions about writing and editing, you can fill out this form anonymously.

Stacy Teitel is an editor at Apoidea Editorial, a developmental editing service to help fiction writers strengthen their manuscripts. When she’s not working with authors, you can find her copyediting and managing content for eMarketingVS. Some of her favorite things to do are watching political and crime shows, drinking good-quality coffee, and snuggling up with her Kindle. Follow her on Twitter @ApoideaEdits or visit her website.

Writing Process: Developing Great Characters

Writing Characters Readers Will Care About

Guest post by KJ Wolf

Writing characters

Original image found here

My youngest teenager recently told me that I’m her favorite cartoon character.  This is on the heels of her also informing me that I’m like living with a Saturday Night Live skit.  Apparently, in her eyes I’m quite a character.

I had no idea.

Characters are my favorite part of fiction.  Write great characters and you’ve got me.  Sure, if the rest of the book isn’t all that great and could use some serious editing or rewriting, I’ll skim and skip to the dialogue.  But I can’t put it down otherwise.

Why?  Because I’m already emotionally invested in the characters.

My daughter sees me as a lovable character.  I make her happy.  She laughs at and with me.  We love each other dearly.  There’s an attachment that will always keep us bonded.  She’ll never want to stop “reading” me.  We’re entangled in through our feelings.

I come from a long line of characters.  My grandmother, a favorite of mine on my blog, is a great example.  She’s got that tiny, white-haired woman with a gentle nature about her that draws people in.  What you don’t expect is her quick wit.

One of my favorite stories about her is when we were playing cards with a bunch of family and the discussion settled on health care.  The conversation got a bit tense until my grandmother, who was 87 at the time, said, “I don’t care what they do as long as they cover my birth control.”

No one could talk because we were laughing so hard.  She’s the kind of woman people are drawn to because of her lovely disposition but the more you get to know about her, you realize she’s sharp, dynamic and quite funny.

Characters come in all shapes, sizes and forms.  Remember Wilson from Cast Away?  Tom Hanks’s stranded character became so dependent on that volleyball, I doubt there was a dry eye in any movie theater across the country when it floated away.

The interaction, companionship and dependency between the main character and that volleyball are all basic human experiences we can relate to in any form.  Tom Hanks was desperate on that island.  Wilson became a crucial character through tangible need.  We were goners for Wilson before we even knew what was happening.

As writers, we need to do the same things with our characters to connect with readers.  Create a relatable situation or emotion with your hero or heroine.

The world provides more than enough situations that writers can use to connect with readers.  Think about how you feel when you’re having a hard time making ends meet.  Are you stressed?  Worried?  Angry?  Desperate?

Maybe you’re in love with someone but you don’t know if they feel the same way about you.  Are you terrified?  Curious?  Resigned to live in the shadows even if they are with someone else?

Every single human being can relate to these emotions.  Tapping into a reader’s feelings makes all the difference when you create your characters and bring them to life.

So what’s my point?  When you write, be a character.  Look inside your leading lady and/or man to find the likable, relatable qualities that would make a reader care.  Then bring them to life.

If you have trouble with your characters, look no further than the people around you.  You see them completely different than they see themselves.  Compile a list of what you love about them as well as their challenges.  Once you’re done, you’ve got a number of recipes for any character you want.

I’m a character.  You’re a character.  We’re all characters.  We spend our lives trying to be characters at least a few people will like.

As a writer, you get to orchestrate this entire process.  Become an observer.  Listen.  Watch.  Learn.  Pull those puppet strings and create the character that will connect with many hearts.

K.J. Wolf lives in upstate N.Y. with her husband, two children and too many pets to count.  When she’s not playing matchmaker in her romance and erotica stories, she loves spending time with loved ones, reading, hiking and cooking.  Eating is just a given.

She’d love to have you stop by her blog, visit her on Facebook, and check out her novella, Change of the Heart, available on Amazon