Thursday, January 31, 2013



“I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil.”—Truman Capote

My first novel came in at more than 100,000 words. After editing, it went down to 93k. After it’s final proofing, it lost another 300 words. Painful? You bet!
But what I’ve come to realize, is without exception, anything I’ve sliced and diced has become a much more polished work.
Tightening and trimming can be a difficult lesson, but after my second novel was edited, I actually had to add a few things.

Things I learned the hard way:
1.     If you’re writing fiction, there is only so much the reader wants to know about technical issues, and, in general, background information about geography, art, science, whatever. Unless it’s vital to the story line, ( and sometimes even then ) you should keep it brief. Avoid the self-indulgence of overloading the reader with your own knowledge of a topic.
2.     Backstory.  As a reader, I hate it. I don’t tolerate excess, and will skip over it and only check to make sure I’m not missing anything germane to the story. When adding backstory that is necessary, try to intersperse it where it’s relevant rather than dumping it on the reader all at one time. When fine-tuning your manuscript, remember when it comes to backstory, succinct wins over wordy.
3.     Check and double check for repetitions. Occasionally the reader does need to be reminded of something that happened a few chapters ago, but unnecessary repetition is annoying. Cut it.
4.     Run-on character descriptions. Like backstory, keep descriptions short, and break up details of the description with dialogue or action. Better yet, have your characters' actions describe something about his appearance.
5.     Dialogue – Leave out any that’s unnecessary. The reader doesn’t want to hear small talk! Break up any long speech with details about the speaker or the listener.

Dear readers,
I enjoy hearing all of your comments. Please share your own experiences with cutting your work. If you’re reading this in a climate like Wisconsin, stay warm! I advise curling up with a warm cat, a cozy throw, a glass of wine and a good book.
Thanks for visiting,

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Author Photo

The Author Photo – Silly or Significant?

         Do readers really care about an author’s photo? Everyone know it’s the cover, the description and content that sell a book, right? All true. But in today’s book-selling marketplace, unless your name is James Patterson, Jonathan Kellerman, or another NYT best selling author, you have to do your own marketing.
Where do you do this?
The Internet. You take advantage of popular social media sites, like Twitter, Facebook, Google plus, Pinterest, and Goodreads. You go begging for reviews and interviews that will appear on other people sites.
What do people see first on these sites? Not just your book. Your face!
            Yes, your mug makes the first impression. If you’re an author trying to market his/her books, I recommend getting a professional shot. My father used to tell me, “If you want to be successful, you have to look successful.” I always suspected that was how he justified the new cars he drove and the expensive clothes he wore, but it remains good advice.
Have your photo done, and look the part of an author who’s already achieved fame.
1.     Before you book a photographer, check out his/her work.
2.     Don’t be shy about having your face digitally improved! You want to look like you, but make sure your photo represents the very best you.
3.     If you can’t afford a professional, have a friend take some shots for you. Take a lot of them, in different poses, clothing and with different backgrounds. Then you’ll be sure to have one that works.
4.     Unless you’re writing erotica, I’d advise staying away from sexy clothing or poses. Once more, the aim is to look professional.
5.     If you’re trying to build an online platform, all the more reason for the professional photo. Pictures of your kids, your wedding, or that fun shot you took in a photo booth send a different message. Reserve those for Facebook or your website. You’re an author, look like one.

Dear readers,
I’m sorry my posts have been erratic, but I’ve been busy getting my second novel, Relative Malice, up and running. 
I was advised early in my writing career to get a professional photo done. When I saw the proofs, my first thought was, “Who is that old woman?” Luckily we’d taken enough shots that there were a few that flattered me!
Whether we like to admit it or not, we make judgments about people by our reaction to their faces. Everyone does it. Show people a face they'd like to get to know.
Thanks for stopping by, and have a great week!