As of September 13, 2020, this blog will no longer be updated.
No worries! I’ve simply moved to www.elizastopps.com
You can follow my blog, keep up to date with my books, and hear any news over at my new site.
As of September 13, 2020, this blog will no longer be updated.
No worries! I’ve simply moved to www.elizastopps.com
You can follow my blog, keep up to date with my books, and hear any news over at my new site.
I really struggled with the opening of this chapter. I kept sitting down to edit it, but I’d inevitably get bored and find myself doing something else. Today, I attempted to edit the opening three pages for the third time. Then it hit me: if I’m bored, won’t my readers be too?
At the end of chapter one, I tried to give the reader a sense of direction. They have their mission and now they must go interrogate the subject. For some reason, I decided to end the chapter with them walking to go interrogate her and when I picked up again, they were still walking there. There are a few problems with this. Firstly, it’s not interesting. Secondly, a new chapter is supposed to be a break from the previous scene. Why is it a new chapter if they are still doing the same thing?
My initial thought was to extend chapter one because the first three pages, while they are walking, are packed with some heady and insightful reminders about the first book in the serial and some commentary about where the main character is at emotionally. There’s a problem with that too, I used up three boring pages to tell the reader that the character wasn’t coping well instead of using those three pages to show them. If Leslie is heartbroken about losing his dad, he probably isn’t just thinking that it feels bad. He’s probably acting out, because that’s what people do. Hurting people hurt people.
Now, I can’t go extreme with this because he is still the protagonist, but it wouldn’t be far fetched to allow him space to lash out at his coworkers or start to stumble into a substance abuse issue. Like I said, he’s not doing a great job at coping to begin with.
Those three pages were cut and amazingly, I was able to fit the same amount of information into just a few lines of snippy dialogue. Instead of three pages of mind-numbing walking backstory, the readers are dropped right into the interrogation room where Leslie and Elena are attempting to question the subject. Leslie is upset about his father’s untimely demise and it’s only been a few weeks. He doesn’t have the patience to care about what minor crime this alien was picked up for. He wants to solve this case so he can hurry up and get back to Earth where he can seek revenge on his father’s killer.
I am sharing this because I have been stuck with these pages for over two years. The chapters are rough, and it’s been difficult to take time to sit down and revisit them. Mostly, I lost sight of what the real goal of this book was. The overarching story line with Leslie and his complicated relationship with his father and his lost heritage should overshadow the little, uninteresting moments that currently cloud the shadows.
Editing has been described as crafting a beautiful marble statue. It might be more accurate to describe my first drafts as a tipped over filing cabinet. There’s some important stuff in there, some interesting stuff, and a whole lot of garbage you need to sort through to find it.
Maybe these little corrections I’ve made to this chapter will help you find the motivation to sit down and edit one of your own. Now, I have the rest of the chapter to go through.
Update – 10/15: I did finish editing this chapter and the rest of the changes were overall minor. I look forward to chapter three!
Spoiler Alert: This series of blog posts will contain spoilers for the upcoming serial. If you don’t want to spoil yourself, then don’t read them!
November 24, 2017. This is the date that I completed the first draft for my second book in the Leslie Kim Serial. I’ve been sitting on this draft for almost two years. I have written in that time and I have edited that draft numerous times. However, I’ve never completed a full rewrite of the entire manuscript. It’s not because its length is overwhelming, these are short books. It’s because my life has been busy, and I stopped making it a priority. My life is not any less busy right now, but I think I need this. I need to finish something. My inner creator has been yelling at me and I’m done telling her, “ask me later.”
I’m not going to make myself any promises and I might not even set a deadline. But I do want to finish this rewrite. I want to move on from it because I haven’t allowed myself to work on anything else since. I wanted to finish this project before starting a new one and that has meant that I haven’t progressed in my writing at all. I could just walk away from it and start one of my new ideas. Or I could allow myself the satisfaction of finishing what I started almost two years ago.
I’m starting with chapter one. I printed it off and it is 10 pages, double spaced. Remember, these are short books. I’m going to try and go about editing in a little bit of a different way than I’ve tried with this book before.
Previously, I have done some developmental editing using SWOT charts and I have done some line-by-line editing of dialogue. I have cut out and rewritten many of these chapters. I have restructured this book twice. I have also rewritten the last half of the book more than once. I even sent the current draft off to 12 beta readers and didn’t receive any feedback of major issues with plot, dialogue, world building, or even character building. So, I’ve basically come in and hacked it up quite a few times. For this round of edits, I really want to start at the very basic, bottom level of the book. I want to build up each chapter and polish the final product. I want this to be the last time I edit this book before I send it to a professional editor for another look at things.
Leslie Kim #101 and #102 are written with a three-act structure. They follow a pretty basic outline. I have taken each outline bullet point and written it on a notecard. The cards for Leslie Kim #101 are taped to my office wall for reference. The others are loose so I can physically rearrange them. The notecards are even color coordinated per book.
So, I know which plot points need to be addressed in these 10 pages. I have a magnetic whiteboard that I’ve chosen to hang my note cards on. As I reach each plot point in my first read through, I can place a little check next to the note card or leave myself a note to say that I need to add details or make a major rewrite.
I’m also going to use the whiteboard space to make note of the location and any location changes within the chapter and keep a tally of the characters that are present.
According to this article on Now Novel, a chapter serves two purposes:
“1. They give the reader space to pause and digest the plot developments and complications of the preceding chapter or scene.
This is my first chapter, so my main character should be embarking on a new goal. I want that goal to be clear to the reader. I also want to provide space within the chapter to briefly recap some of the events in the previous book, as they are relevant to this new book.
Location: IDID Office
Characters: Gunny, Leslie
Here are a few issues I’m going to address in chapter 1:
Note: 9/22: I have begun editing chapter 1.
Update: 9/25 I’m done editing the first chapter! Hooray! After a year and 10 months of procrastination, it has taken me just three days to finish editing it. I did the edits on paper and then made the changes to Scrivener.
I haven’t posted in a while, but I thought it would be a nice change of pace to share what I’ve been reading lately. I’ve been taking some time off writing and exploring a variety of genres.
I found Wish Me Home by Kay Bratt on Amazon Prime Reading. I wasn’t sure if it was the book for me, the description didn’t immediately pull me in. However, there was a free audiobook version available and I decided to try it out simply because I was curious about using the audiobook feature on the Amazon Kindle app. The audio version of this book was very easy to listen to. I don’t have a lot of experience with audiobooks, but the narrator did a great job with the voices. Initially, I thought I would just use this book to fall asleep to at night. Then I got HOOKED on the plot! I was so curious how things would turn out for the main character, Cara, and even more curious about what happened to her twin sister. Contemporary women’s fiction can sometimes be a toss-up, but I am glad I “read” this book. It wasn’t the most groundbreaking book, but if I ever want a nice book to read while on vacation then I will probably read more from this author.
The next book I read was To Kill a Mockingbird. Yes, the classic but Harper Lee. I’m a little bit ashamed to admit it was the first time I finished this book. Back in High School, it was on the recommended reading for my English class. However, it was not on the required reading list. So, I read part way through, tossed it to the side, and didn’t touch it again until recently. I really loved this book. I actually laughed out loud a few times at the spunkiness of the main character, the story is obviously compelling, and I wish I could sit Freshman me down and tell myself to just finish the damn book. I can only imagine the types of discussions that have been spurred from this book. I look forward to reading Harper Lee’s recent release.
Lastly, I read The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. I won’t say this book changed my life, but I think it would be helpful for anyone looking for a fresh way to look at how much they can accomplish in one day. Many of the tips in this book are somewhat regimented versions of what everyone probably knows they should be doing in a day. You should exercise, collect your thoughts, take time to breathe, read more, and write often. If you can wake up at some early hour to accomplish all these things in a relatively short period of time, then I think it could make a difference in your productivity. Will it make you an overnight success? Probably not. But it will help you get closer and probably help you feel better about yourself. I did try the Miracle Morning myself for a few weeks, and I have tried to continue following the tips (even if it is at night). It isn’t realistic for me to accomplish everything, every morning. Your mileage may vary.
So, those are the three books I’ve read recently. All of them were worth the time to read, but To Kill a Mockingbird is the only book I would suggest you must read if you have not already done so.
My experience with Filles Vertes Publishing began with a submission. In early 2018, I finished a middle grade manuscript and began to send it off to editors and agents. One of the editors was working at FVP and sent in my submission. Then came my first request for a full (a huge highlight for me after a sea of rejections). Ultimately, that editor rejected my manuscript. However, I appreciated her feedback and continued to follow her on social media.
A month or so later, that editor put out a call for an editorial intern. I wanted to be a writer, not an editor, but I knew this was an amazing chance to learn about the publishing industry. I applied and was soon very proud to be an editorial intern at a real publishing company (!!).
As an editorial intern, I was able to read manuscripts from prospective authors. This gave me an invaluable view of the process because I was able to see what really worked and what didn’t. I was able to look objectively at these pieces of work and apply those lessons to my own work. Rejection was no longer a dirty word. As a writer, I often thought of the dreaded slush pile but I didn’t really know what that meant until I worked in publishing. There were times when I recommended a book be rejected even though I personally loved it. Sometimes a story isn’t right for the market. Or the plot is amazing, but the writing just isn’t there yet.
A rejection was rarely me saying that I didn’t enjoy reading it or that I hoped the book never saw the light of day (although I did get one or two of those). A rejection was usually because there were too many good books. Publishers don’t reject books that are only 40% ready to be published because they are trying to be callous or they aren’t willing to work with the authors. Publishers reject those books because there are so many books that are 70% or 80% or 100% ready to be published. Coming to terms with what rejection truly meant is one of the best lessons I learned as an editorial intern.
In May of 2018, I wrote up a marketing document and sent it to the owner of FVP. It was simple; an itemized list of suggestions for improvement on the publisher website and I pointed out a few broken links on the site that I thought could be fixed. I wasn’t really expecting much from sending the document, I just hoped to helpful. To my surprise, the owner (Myra Fiacco) got back to me and asked if I would be interested in joining the marketing team. It wasn’t long before I was learning about advertising campaigns, social media for business, and even data analytics. I never would have expected to be in marketing and I certainly didn’t expect to love it so much. I jumped with both feet in.
I had the opportunity to work with so many amazing bloggers, interview authors, and even write articles for the company. I put my PowerPoint skills to good use, I completed a course in data analytics (a topic that was previously a mystery to me), and I navigated the fires of social media. I’m really proud of how much I’ve developed over the past year.
But at some point, I started to miss writing. I miss working on my Sci-Fi serials and I’d like to take another look at that middle grade manuscript that started it all. There isn’t enough time in the day to work for multiple companies and myself. I am going to keep working as a freelancer, but I am going to shape it around my writing schedule.
So, as much as I have loved working there, I’ve decided to leave Filles Vertes Publishing. It’s been a year since I first began at FVP. Everyone within the company has treated me well and I’ve learned lessons that I will carry with me forever.
I’m so thankful for the time that I had and for the people that I’ve had the pleasure to meet.
If you want to have an experience like I did, I would encourage you to apply for the internship program at FVP. They take on new interns twice a year (click here to find out more!) and it’s certainly worth your time. I will say that, like most things in life, you get out of it what you put into it. Turn in your assignments on time, be hungry and take on as many projects as you can comfortably do well. Mostly, try not to be frustrated when you read a manuscript that isn’t quite there yet, because we were all that writer once.
Back in October, I posted that I was going to be participating in NaNoWriMo again this year. I had good intentions and absolutely thought I’d at least make it through a rough edit of my manuscript. I did not.
In fact, I think I worked on my manuscript a grand total of two or three times. I love the story and I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what will happen next. But when it comes to sitting down and writing it?
I just haven’t had time.
Yeah, I’m using it. The unforgivable excuse. But it’s true. I didn’t dedicate the time needed to complete the project and then the month literally slipped away.
It is also true that I could’ve made time for NaNo, if I wanted to. Instead, I focused on work and family and making the best damn apple bacon stuffing I’ve ever had.
I have written every single day. Some days I might even write 4,000 words. I write blog posts, copy for advertisements, marketing plans, and emails. I write all stinking day. It’s no secret that a career in publishing is the quickest way to stunt your personal writing career.
That might be a little dramatic but it does seem to have a ring of truth to it. Most people that work in publishing are also writers and readers. But it can be hard to still find time to read for fun or write your own books. That isn’t to say that working in publishing isn’t amazing, because it is, it just means I’m more likely to work on someone else’s manuscript than my own.
I didn’t finish NaNo (or even come close). As I write this, I am realizing that I should probably challenge myself with reading a book a month or something in 2019… If you’re doing a reading or writing challenge in the coming year, share it in the comments below. I might just join you.
Disclaimer: This post does not include affiliate links and I won’t directly make money if you purchase any of these gifts. However, I am an employee of Filles Vertes Publishing, the publisher that has released all of the books included in this list. The opinions featured are my own and do not reflect on the Etsy sellers or Filles Vertes Publishing. I am not being paid by the Etsy sellers and cannot guarantee the quality of the items. I did not include shipping or taxes in the total cost. Now that we have all that craziness out of the way, you can get on to the actual list!
You can never have too many books. This list includes 5 incredible novels that can be combined with handmade Christmas gifts from Etsy for under $30. Any book lover would love to get a book this holiday season, but these thoughtful items will add the personalized touch that will make your gift extra special.
These adorable fridge magnets (or charms!) are a wonderful addition to any kitchen. The Young Adult Romance novel, Meant to be Broken, has a reference to cherry pie. I love that this is a special inside joke that will make the reader think of the book and smile when they see the magnets.
You could give these adorable magnets, the novel, and print out the pie recipe featured in the picture above. This recipe was part of a contest that the author ran during the launch of the book. I’ve actually made this pie and I can guarantee that if you love cherry pie, you will looove this recipe.
I’m going to include a free download link to the recipe below. That means you could buy all of this for a fantastic themed gift for the Teen Romance reader in your life for just under $20.
Don’t forget to download Mama’s Cherry & Rosemary Pie!
In the historical thriller, Apricots and Wolfsbane, Lavinia Maud poisons her victims with a variety of concoctions. This mug might say arsenic on the label, but you could load it up with hot cocoa mix and marshmallows for a more wholesome take on a Christmas gift. Grab the mug and the novel for just over $26.
The SciFi reader in your life will be thrilled to receive this themed gift.
Abducted Hope is a space opera novel about a young woman who is abducted by aliens. This theme pairs the book perfectly with this stylish alien abduction shirt. You could give both for just under our goal of $30! New Adult Science Fiction readers will love this unique gift.
Pitcher Plant is a thriller suspense novel set on the scenic Oregon Coast. Transport the reader in your life to the beach with a Seaside scented candle! Every time they sit down to read the book, they can light this candle and be swept away with the waves.
There you have it! If you’re lost on what to get the book lover in your life, any of the above gifts are sure to please.
I’m taking a brief break for NaNo to share this awesome cover reveal with you guys. I work with the author, Jess Moore, at Filles Vertes Publishing (she’s one of our amazing editors) and I am thrilled to introduce her new book, The Evolution of Jeremy Warsh. Congratulations, Jess!!
From the back cover:
Jeremy Warsh has been in off-mode ever since his grandpa’s death a couple years ago. He set aside their shared passion, comic art, and hasn’t looked back. As an introvert from the other side of town, he fully expects to spend his boring life bagging groceries until, maybe one day, he’s promoted to store manager.
Yet, his two best friends, Kasey and Stuart, are different. They’re not afraid to demand more out of everyone. When Kasey comes out, Jeremy’s inspired. He picks up his colored pencils and starts drawing comics again, creating a no-nonsense, truth-talking character named Penny Kind. Who speaks to him. Literally.
The friend group sets in motion Stuart’s plans for a huge Homecoming prank, and if they can get Penny’s comic trending, they might be able to pull it off. Could this be a stepping-stone to a future Jeremy’s only dreamed of? And after he kisses a boy at a college party, will Jeremy finally face what he’s been hiding from?
The book doesn’t officially release until November 23rd, but you can pre-order it now! Let’s make this book launch amazing. You can help, even if you’re not ready to pre-order just yet, by sharing this blog post on social media. Let’s help some YA Readers find their new favorite novel.
Want to know a little more about Jess Moore?
Jess Moore makes books, homemade pizza, and is a so-so knitter. She lives in historic gold-mining California. But originally being from the Midwest, she still looks back east in the fall when the leaves are wild with color. She has worked as both a teacher and social worker for fostered youth. Currently, she writes novels in the early morning while her family sometimes sleeps.
Some fine folks at SunFire Imprint of NineStar Press have decided to publish her debut YA novel, The Evolution of Jeremy Warsh. It’s slated for release November 23rd, and Jess is over the moon and barely function because of it.
I did it. Today, I announced my project for NaNoWriMo 2018. I wasn’t sure if I should participate this year. My life seems to be busier than ever, but looking back at my blog post from last year, I realized that I said the same thing. Is there ever a good time to write a book? Maybe after retirement?
Even if I don’t meet my own writing goals, there’s no harm in trying!
I’m not trying to be very ambitious. I want to finish the second book in the Leslie Kim serials. This isn’t my first (or even my second) time writing this particular manuscript. Maybe that will make it easier, maybe not. Either way, I want to finish writing it so that I can continue with the series. I miss writing these characters!
If I finish the second book, which will have a word count goal of 25,000 words or so, then I will go on and try to finish the third book as well. If you want to follow my progress, you can add me on NaNo as ejstopps.
If you’re interested in some NaNoWriMo freebies, the small press that I work for is offering a few free downloadable tools for you to use this November. I helped create these freebies, so of course I’m going to use them too! You can find the posts with the downloadable links below:
This is a guest blog post by Linda Huber. She wanted to share her opinion on novellas vs novels and I was happy to have her featured on my blog! You can read the post below. Photos were provided courtesy of Linda Huber.
Last year, as a kind of holiday from my usual psychological suspense novels, I started writing feel-good novellas. My father was terminally ill at the time; I was having health issues too – a nice romantic novella where no one is hurt or worried or scared seemed like a good idea. In the beginning I’d only planned one, but A Lake in Switzerland has somehow turned into a series of four, possibly five short books.
Definitions vary; a novella can be anything from about twenty thousand up to fifty thousand words. Mine are all around the 35k mark. They’re set near my home in N.E. Switzerland, and tell the story of Stacy, who arrives for a holiday and ends up… well, the series isn’t finished yet so I’m not sure exactly where she’ll end up, but three books in she’s still here by lovely Lake Constance.
I didn’t expect much from my novellas; they were really just a way to keep writing when life was tough. To my surprise, they’re doing all right – I don’t sell millions, but enough to make it worthwhile continuing the series – and I want to see where Stacy ends up too! I guess everyone needs a little light relief now and then, or a fun beach read, something you can be sure will turn out well – all reasons I started writing them, in fact, though I haven’t managed the beach holiday bit yet.
Writing a novella is different to writing full-length fiction. To compare – for my novel The Cold Cold Sea, I needed the main plot – three-year-old Olivia goes missing on the beach – which was really two plots, as the story follows two families as each struggles to cope with what life flings at them. (No spoilers here!) This meant two sets of main characters, the parents in each family, all of whom should become as familiar to the reader as their own families (almost). And not only familiar, I want the reader to care about what happens to those people, as well as working out what happens to Olivia, and what’s going on with Hailey, the daughter in the second family. Then there’s Katie, Hailey’s teacher, who has a problem of her own as well as one with her pupil. The story rises and falls, alternating between the two families and Hailey’s school, until at end…
In A Lake in Switzerland, the plot is less complicated.
It has to be, to reach a satisfactory resolution in 35k words. I have a storyline – Stacy goes to Switzerland on holiday, returns to England, and then goes back to Switzerland for another break. The story centres round Stacy and Rico, the hotel owner’s son, with a few minor characters to help them along the way. Stacy has one big, life-changing decision to make, and by the end of the first novella she has made it. A different storyline and different challenges await her in novella two, A Spa in Switzerland, which is also a complete story in itself.
It seems there’s a definite demand for short fiction, whether it’s feel-good or crime. People nowadays have busy lives, and I think this is one reason that novellas are so popular. Another reason is the rise of ebooks. People are happy to pay a small amount for a novella and have it on their kindle, whereas they may not have bought it as a (more expensive) paperback. My novellas aren’t out in print yet. When the series ends, we’ll look at making a compilation paperback, but until then, I’m very happy having them as ebooks only – even though part of me just longs to see them on my bookshelf beside my psych. suspense novels!
Linda Huber grew up in Glasgow, Scotland, but went to work in Switzerland for a year aged twenty-two, and has lived there ever since. Her day jobs have included working as a physiotherapist in hospitals and schools for handicapped children, and teaching English in a medieval castle. Currently she teaches one day a week, and writes psychological suspense novels and feel-good novellas with (most of) the rest of her time.
Her writing career began in the nineties, when she had over fifty short stories publi
shed in women’s magazines. Several years later, she turned to psychological suspense fiction, and her seventh novel, Death Wish, was published by Bloodhound Books in August 2017.
Linda’s latest project is a series of feel-good novellas, set on the banks of Lake Constance and just minutes from her home in north-east Switzerland. She really appreciates having the views enjoyed by her characters right on her own doorstep!
Amazon Author Page: viewAuthor.at/LindaHuber
They stared at each other, and Maggie felt the tightness in her middle expand as it shifted, burning its way up… Painful sobs rose in her throat as Colin, his face expressionless now, reached for his mobile and tapped 999.
When three-year-old Olivia disappears from the beach, a happy family holiday comes to an abrupt end. Maggie is plunged into the darkest nightmare imaginable – what happened to her little girl?
Further along the coast, another mother is having problems too. Jennifer’s daughter Hailey is starting school, and it should be such a happy time, but the child is increasingly moody and silent. Family life has never seemed so awkward, and Jennifer struggles to maintain control.
The tide ebbs and flows, and summer dies, but there is no comfort for Maggie, alone now at the cottage, or for Jennifer, still swamped by doubts.
‘A psychologically astute, edge-of-the-seat story.’ Hilary Johnson
‘Unsettling and disturbing… I couldn’t put it down.’ Rebecca Muddiman
‘Breathtaking and utterly compelling.’ Debi Alper
Connect with Linda: