Creating a fantasy novel recap

As I begin working on my latest fantasy novel, Alexandria, I have had the inspiration for a few more fantasy novel related posts. But before I post them, I thought I would take a moment to recap what other posts I have written about creating your own fantasy world (the first step before you begin writing). If you missed these or just want to re-read them, click on the “read more” link to see the rest of original post.

Building your Fantasy World

One of the things I like best about writing fantasy is the ability to create my own world. I am in control of everything – names of cities, geography, culture, religion, systems of magic, history, creatures, everything. I believe one of the most important things is to develop your world BEFORE you begin writing. You need to be familiar with your world so that the details remain consistent and logical throughout your novel. Read more…

Creating the Mystic Dragon

DragonLast week, I wrote briefly about creating your own fantasy world. Since I love dragons, my fantasy world wouldn’t be complete without a dragon. Since we are working with an imaginary beast, you have the creativity to do whatever you want. They can be small, large, friendly, menacing, have magical powers – the possibilities are endless. You can portray them as a snake-like creature like a Chinese dragon or a lizard-like beast with huge bat-like wings. I prefer the latter.  Read more…

Creating believable magic

Magic use to be prevalent only in fantasy novels but more and more, magic shows up in other genres, including romance and suspense.  Magic can certainly enhance a story, but you need to make sure it is believable. You need to clearly define what can and cannot be done with magic. There must be limits on magic otherwise the person using magic would always win and there would be no conflict in your story. Magic cannot be the answer to everything. Or as Rumpelstiltskin in ABC’s Once Upon a Time said, “All magic comes with a price.” Read more…

Beyond the Ordinary – Creating your own Creatures

One of the great things about writing a fantasy novel is that you are not limited to the creatures of this world (such as cats which I wrote about last week) or mythical creatures (such as dragons which I wrote about three weeks ago). You have the freedom to create any type creature you want. And why stick to unicorns, dragons, fairies, elves, griffins or vampires when you can create your own unique creation. Read more…

Cats as characters in your novel

Recently, I wrote about dragons in my fantasy writing series. Today, I would like to address using cats as characters. Now, I chose cats because I am a cat-lover. But these same ideas could work just as well if you wanted to use dogs, horses or some other animal. And much of this can be used for other genres besides fantasy. Read more…

Creating Fight Scenes

fightSince I write fantasy, I guess it is expected that at some point there will be a sword fight or other battle taking place. With each additional book in my trilogy, there seem to be more battles.  One of my reviews for Summoned said that I wrote, “awesome fight scenes.” I don’t know if that is true or not, but I do have a few tricks that I use when developing a fight scene. These hold true whether it is someone using a knife, a sword or their fists.  Read more…

Magical Battles: Writing a duel between wizards

Last week, I wrote tips for writing battle scenes. This week I thought I would talk about magical battles because any good book about sorcerers or wizards needs at least one magical duel. Read more…

Naming places in a fantasy novel

Last week, I dedicated my post to tips on developing character names but the places in your novel need names too. If you are writing a novel that takes place on Earth – whether it is set in the present, past or future – all you need is an atlas (or I guess in the modern age – Google Maps) to give you the names of counties, cities, lakes, rivers and mountain ranges.  But when you have developed your own world, you have the task of naming all the places yourself. Read more…

Creating a fictional poison to add drama to your novel

poisonSlade screamed as his skin began to melt away. He clutched the blade, pulling it free. But the damage was already done. The poison spread fast. Slade cried out in agony as he fell to his knees. The dagger dropped from his hand as his other hand grasped at the ever expanding wound on this chest. And then, as the skin continued to dissolve, Slade fell to the ground and was silent.  – From Destiny: Book 3 of The Elemental Read more…

These nine post can help you create your fantasy world and begin writing your fantasy novel. In the next two weeks, I will write about Gods & Religion and Religion & Magic. And I am sure my latest work-in-progress will spur more fantasy-related posts in the future.

Dividing your time between marketing and writing

Open bookYour book has been published, and you are waiting for it to rise up the sales charts. Of course to do that, some marketing is involved. But how much marketing do you need to do and how much time do you spend working on your next masterpiece?

This is a difficult question for the self-published author to answer. Without some marketing, no one will know about your book, and hence no one will buy it. So some marketing is needed.

Some authors say the best thing you could do is write your next book. And that is true. When readers look at a new author, it is more reassuring to see someone has written more than one novel. It shows dedication. Each book you write adds credibility to your name.

I know one author that said it took until her eighth book before she had established enough of a following to really take off and need less marketing.

Notice that I said LESS marketing. I don’t think there is any author that gets away with NO marketing. Even the big names like John Grisham and Stephen King have some marketing done for them if only to announce their latest release.

Of course, many self-published authors do not have a team of marketing strategists behind them. If you can afford to hire someone, it will free up your time for writing but most new authors don’t have that option, and many have a very small advertising budget. Then the trick is to decide where to put your limited advertising dollars. Will a book tour or an ad help you more? It is hard to say.  It really is trial and error to figure out what marketing techniques will help you. And the methods that work for you might not work as well for someone else.

There are quite a few marketing techniques you can do yourself such as posting updates on Facebook and Twitter, writing or submitting press releases, participating in book tours or author interviews, soliciting book reviews or even posting on your own blog. But it is easy to spend a LOT of time doing these things that you neglect your writing.

It ends up being a personal decision on how much time you spend on marketing. But know that every minute you spend marketing isn’t just about increasing sales. It is about building brand awareness. That brand is you, the author. So unless you are independently wealthy and can spend all your time writing, you will need to schedule some marketing time to let the masses know about your book.  The key is not to spend too much time on marketing that you have no time for writing and reaching new audiences.

School performance: My shy child in front of all those parents

In January, my son came home and announced he wanted to try for a speaking part in the upcoming first-grade performance.

I nodded and then asked, “you know you will be performing in front of people?”

“Of course,” he replied, looking at me like that was the silliest question he had ever heard.

My mind instantly flashed back to last year’s kinder performance. All five kindergarten classes stood before their parents and sang songs of the rainbow. And there stood Jase looking like a deer caught in the headlights. He barely sang or did any of the accompanying hand/arm movements. He clearly had a case of stage fright and that was with everyone standing together on the stage.

This year’s performance will be a short program entitled “BUGZ.” I don’t know how many kids have speaking parts but Jase got the part of bug number 22 which is a firefly. Those who don’t have a speaking part will be part of the choir.

FireflyJase will be up there with three other fireflies and has two lines.

Rehearsals started three weeks ago, and the performance is next week. They will perform for the fifth graders in the morning and then for the parents in the evening.

I worry he will suffer stage fright again, or he will only speak in a whisper. He has never been a very loud kid, and he has always been shy around adults. He didn’t even speak to his preschool teacher until the last month of school. As he has gotten older, he has done better with talking to adults but often is shy in a group. And when he is nervous, he tends to stutter a little.

I know there will be other students who mess up or only whisper their lines, but I hope Jase doesn’t run into any of those problems. I hope he can deliver his lines with confidence and have a good experience because I know that these first experiences can make an impact on how he feels and how he does at future performances.

I am not comfortable speaking before a large group. I will not be the best one to give him advice, and I certainly don’t want to discourage him or transfer any of my fears onto him. In this case, I will probably have to let my husband do any pep talks on how to handle stage fright. As an attorney, he is used to speaking in front of judges and juries and often gives speeches at legal conferences.

So I will have to wait and see how Jase does next week. Right now, he is just excited about having a speaking part. No matter what happens, I will be proud of him.

Today’s Featured Author: Emerald Barnes

Today I have Emerald Barnes, author of Read Me Dead, with us to share some about herself and her novel which was released last year.

Interview

Where were you born and where do you call home?

I was born in a small town in Mississippi, and I still call that place home to this day.  I’ve only ever lived one other place, when I went away to college.  And that was only a few towns away.

What is the best thing about being a writer? The worst?

The best part about being a writer is meeting new people and getting to share my passion with those people.  I’ve made countless friends, good friends, and people I hope will be in my life a long time.  The worst part is probably marketing.  The truth is I’d rather write the books and let someone else do the work for me, but that isn’t how it works.  The upside to marketing is that this is how I’ve met my countless friends.

What fuels you as an author to continue to write?

What fuels me to keep writing is the fact that stopping writing scares me more than what my future may hold while continuing to write.  No matter how many times I’ve contemplated quitting, I’ve kept coming back to it.  There are too many stories in my mind for me to not write.  To have an untold story inside of me, well, it would be painful to not write it.  Not to mention, I love all of my fans and readers.  They definitely keep me wanting to write.

Please tell us about your current release.

Read Me Dead was published almost a year ago.  It follows a young woman of only 17 who had witnessed her parents’ murder at the age of ten.  For seven years, she lived with the painful secret until one day her best friends forced it out of her.  A journalist overhears their conversation and the secret now finds its way into the local newspaper.  Now, Alex must come face to face with the reality of the murderer keeping his promise – his promise to kill her if she ever breathed a word of it to anyone.  By the end, she will have dealt with lies, betrayals and murder.

Which of your characters is your favorite? 

 In Read Me Dead, my favorite character is probably Landon.  Granted, he’s not a major character, but there is something about him that I love.  He fights for those he cares about.  He’s a hunk, and he loves unconditionally.

Can you tell us a little about the black moment in your book?

Well, honestly, it’s hard to mention a black moment without giving away something huge.  But what I can say is there is a part of the book where I had to make a huge decision that I wasn’t happy about.  But, it had to happen to move the plot along.  I cried while writing it.

Did the story turn out the way you planned from the beginning? If not, what change happened that you didn’t expect?

No, it honestly didn’t.  This novel was kind of hard to write because there were some really tough decisions that I had to make in order to make it work.  As I mentioned previously, a huge decision had to be made in the way of what happened to one of my characters.  It was difficult to write, and I felt terrible for the decision I had to make in the end.

Do you have a specific snack that you have with you when you write?

Chocolate!!  I have a hard time writing with eating chocolate, although it’s definitely not good for my figure.

Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.

I’m a preacher’s daughter.

Book Description

Read Me Dead CoverAlexia Wheaton’s problems go far beyond picking a dress and a date for the homecoming dance.

For seven years, Alex has lived with a painful memory – the memory of her parents’ horrific murder. As the sole witness, she has kept quiet about the identity of the murderer to protect herself and her family and friends, but when a journalist over hears her secret and writes about it in the local newspaper, Alex is plagued with fear that her parents’ murderer will soon find her – and silence her forever.

Alex is catapulted into a race against time to save her own life and bring her parents’ murderer to justice.  She will face many secrets, lies, and betrayals before the truth about their murder is revealed.

Author Bio

EmeraldEmerald Barnes graduated with a B.A. in English with an emphasis on Creative Writing at Mississippi University for Women.  She resides in a small town in Mississippi and has the accent to prove it.

She’s the author of Read Me Dead and Piercing Through the Darkness.  She mainly writes suspense/thrillers in the YA genre, but she dabbles in other genres and her books are enjoyed by all ages!

She’s constantly working on new novels and has more ideas than she knows what to do with.  She blogs at emeraldbarnes.blogspot.com and ebarnes23.wordpress.com which takes up more of her time than she anticipates but loves it so very much!  She’s also a volunteer at the World Literary Cafe which is so amazing!

She’s an auntie to two beautiful nieces and two handsome nephews who take up the other half of her time, but she couldn’t imagine spending her time in any other way!

She’s a Whovian, a little bit of a nerd, a reader, a writer, and a family-oriented person.  God is number one in her life, and she thanks Him continuously for His love and favor.  

Find out more about Emerald on her website. You can also follow her on Twitter, check her out on Facebook, Goodreads, Google+ and Amazon. Click here to buy Read Me Dead and Piercing Through the Darkness.

Twitter tools to help authors

There are a vast array of programs designed for Twitter users. Just search Twitter tools and you can get list after list of people telling you about the different applications. As an author and blogger, I use Twitter to promote both. Here are four tools that I use consistently right now – and best of all they are free.

Triberr – This website is known as the blog multiplier. I wrote a blog about it previously. On this site, you join “tribes” of like minded bloggers who tweet about your blog posts and you tweet about theirs. I am the member of two tribes of writers which has increased my reach from my 2337 followers to a potential 321,808.

Friend or Follow This website lets you know who you follow that doesn’t follow you back. I use this to weed out people (mainly authors) that aren’t following me that I don’t care to read their tweets. Now of course, I do follow some people that I don’t expect to follow me back – famous authors, companies and the such.  Currently, it shows 53 people who haven’t followed me back. After I go through them (just put the mouse pointer over each picture to see their Twitter info), I am down to 44 people. I don’t use it too often and never after following a bunch of people as you need to allow them time to follow you back.

Bitly – You may know that this site shortens URLs and makes them easier to tweet but it also gives you the stats of how many people have clicked on your link and you can even customize your link.

hootsuiteHootsuite – This is the program I use the most. It allows you to schedule your tweets in advance. It has other features but really this is the only one I use. I spend about an hour each weekend writing tweets for the week to promote my blog, my books or my Independent Author’s page. I end up scheduling about 6-8 tweets a day enough to feel I am getting my message out without overwhelming or spamming people.

Hootsuite is very handy if you participate in World Literary Café’s Tweet Teams where you reciprocate promotional tweets with nine other people. Simply put them in Hootsuite and schedule to appear throughout the day.

Scheduling my tweets in advance allows me to better use my time for writing rather than trying to remember to get on Twitter and participate throughout the day. Of course, I still get on Twitter usually once or twice a day to retweet others and respond to anyone who has sent me a message.

A few other Twitter tools that look interesting…

1.) Paper.li – Collects your tweets and puts them into a newsletter type format.

2.) Tweetdeck – similar to Hootsuite, it allows you to manage your tweets and check who is clicking on your tweets.

3.) Manageflitter – With just a few clicks you can find out who is following you back, which inactive accounts you are following and who is cluttering your stream with too many tweets.

4.) Refollow – Checks your followers for who hasn’t tweeted in the past 90 days or never tweeted. It also allows you to check someone’s bio and stats before you decide to follow or unfollow them.

With so many options out there, it is hard to cover them all. What other Twitter tools do you find helpful?