Back to the grindstone #amediting

I’m having issues with wordpress, which is making my blogs difficult. I have my tech guy (husband bless him) on to it so hopefully will be fixed.
Back to editing, so your amazing story has returned from someone else… They liked it, but there are some areas to improve. Well I would certainly hope so. Its not like you want it to be perfect. There’s always room for improvement. That doesn’t mean you have to take all their suggestions, but read and note because it will make you think about your writing. The whole process is to have the best story possible, but also to make you the best writer you can be.

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Learn from every step, especially if you have a writing buddy. They are there to mentor you, use them. Once you have taken those suggestions it is time to put tgem into action. Get back in there and either add, delete or even rewrite your story. Oh and as always have fun!

Author Interview: Melissa Gijsbers #ChaBooCha

Today we get to chat with another Chapter Book Challenge Author – Melissa Gijsbers. Another Aussie too, let’s hear what she has to say about writing…
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When did you decide to become an author and what impact has this had on your life?

When I was in high school, I found that writing was something I loved to do, and I was good at it. At the time, I was told that wasn’t a career option and went another way for a while. A few years ago, I rediscovered writing fiction and my dream was rekindled. The biggest impact has been trying to fit writing in around work, kids, and life. I now carry a notebook with me to write down ideas as they come and spend as much of my spare time as possible writing.

It certainly is difficult to fit it all in….

Tell us about your latest work and what motivated you to write it:
I’m currently working on a chapter book that was written during the 2013 Chapter Book Challenge. It’s a story about a girl who just wants to fit in at a new school and is bullied. This is what she does about it. It’s a mix of my experiences and those of my now 10 year old son. The idea came to me when my son had an incident where he was being bullied and fought back by hitting the bully. He was punished and the bully wasn’t. He thought it was unfair. I used this as inspiration for the story and I’m sure it will resonate with kids.

We’ve all been there, I can’t wait to see you get this book published.

What are your future aspirations as an author?
To write books that will be enjoyed by readers – both children and adults. So far, I’ve had eight stories published in three anthologies, and I’m hoping these are the first of many published works.

I’m sure it will be the start of something big.
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Where do your ideas come from? What experiences or aspects of your life influence your writing?
My ideas come from all sorts of places. Some are based on my experiences as a child, some on my kids and the things they do. Others come from writing prompts or things that I’m interested in. Still others seem to come from nowhere! I’ve learned to never ignore an idea, no matter how weird it may be, and I have notebooks full of ideas for future stories.

Gotta love those notebooks.

What do you do to improve yourself and a writer?

I write as often as I can. I take part in challenges and writing exercises to help improve my writing and develop some of the stories that are in my ideas books. I am also collecting and reading a number of craft books as I would love to attend writing conferences, however it’s not practical right now.

There is only so much time in a day and too many other things that need to get done.

What inspires you to write?
With my kids books, a lot of my inspiration come from my kids and the sorts of stories I wish were around for them to read, or that I wish had been around when I was a kid.

Kids are the best inspiration (oh and dogs – sorry Stitch and Chewie!)

Where can people contact you?
My blog is www.melissawrites.com.au and my Facebook page is www.facebook.com/MelissaWrites.com.au

Wonderful blog – you should all check it out!

What works best for you when writing? Meaning do you outline or write freely when you feel inspired to do so?
I find that having a firm outline doesn’t work for me as I stress over it too much and then get worried if or when the story goes off course. I prefer having a rough outline, knowing how the story starts and where I want the story to end up, and write so the story will get there.

Excellent to have some flexibility when planning a story.

Thanks for joining us Melissa, we look forward to hearing more from you in the future. Remember everyone keep reading, keep writing!

Book Review: Charles and Hero – Isle of Mist #chapterbook

Now it’s time for the second of Douglas Quinn’s books:

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Charles and Hero – Isle of Mists
This is a great chapter books for boys (girls will also enjoy it). Charles and Hero the dragon fly into a rescue mission with a difference. They need to save a whole village. This story is engaging, has plenty of action and great characters. Everything you need in a good chapter book.
Stitch Says gives it 5 woofs!
To check it your for yourself go to: http://www.amazon.com/Charles-Hero-Isle-Mists-Douglas-Quinn/dp/1493542885

In the mean time keep reading, keep writing!

Book Review: Gracie the Undecover Beagle and her Sidekick Boston Blackie #amreading

The Undercover Beagle and her sidekick Boston Blackie – The Egg Thief by Douglas Quinn
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I grew up with beagles, so my labs have always played with them. I was really excited to read this book and my 6-year-old love reading it too. Here is the Stitch Says Review:

I love dog books, as do my kids. However they need to have more than just a dog. Like any children’s book they need a good, but simple story line. The Undercover Beagle has exactly that. It is simple, easy to read and lots of fun. The characters are cute and the farm setting can lead to many more adventures. This is great because I know my kids want to read more stories. The Egg Thief is perfect for dog lovers who are beginning to read chapter books.
Stitch Says gives it 5 woofs!

To check out Gracie for yourself go to: http://www.amazon.com/Gracie-Undercover-Beagle-Sidekick-Blackie–The/dp/1492942405/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1392768416&sr=8-1&keywords=gracie+the+undercover+beagle

More great interviews and reviews to come – keep reading, keep writing!

Writer’s Reveal: Advertising #amwriting

Taking a break from Editing to do our Writer’s Reveal post!
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We’re back into it and amazingly it’s February already!!! So this month’s writer’s reveal topic is advertising…
Generally when I see that word I run. I hate ads, particularly on TV. They rarely inspire me to buy anything and are a general waste of time. The only good thing is they give you time to do something else without missing your favourite show. This is usually important to me because I never only do one thing at a time.
However I am an author now and whether I like it or not Advertising is something I need to focus on. So I try. I use social media for the most part. I have posters, pictures and of course this blog to advertise my books. I try to do it without being annoying. This means not just posting about my books. Of course the only reason I am on social media is because I am an author. So everything I do is really about my books. It’s just not always in your face “READ MY BOOKS, BUY MY BOOKS” Although if you do that would be wonderful!!!
So if I hate ads so much what makes me think other people will buy my books from an ad??? Well I don’t actually think it works very well. However the only way to get your stuff out there is to advertise in some format. After all if no one reads your book as there any point in writing it? In my case probably because my kids will read them, but I much prefer other kids to enjoy my books too. So I advertise.
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I’m not very good at it. This is my plan to improve my advertising in 2014:
• Keep blogging (have been focusing on my writing processes so far this year – really enjoy this)
• Keep helping others advertise their books – my Stitch Says Blog is for author interviews and reviews, happy to help others because I know how hard advertising is!
• Improve my webpage – yep it’s a slow working process, but I am determined to get it right!
• Keep using social media – Face book, twitter, blogs and pinterest are my favourites.
• Hand out stickers, postcards, etc whenever I can
• Do another Author event (had a book launch last year and that was awesome)

Most importantly I intend to keep learning! The only way to be more successful is to keep trying. Happy for any advice in this area…
To see what the other members of the Writer’s reveal group think on this topic visit:
http://jaycwolfe.com.
www.aparentinglife.com
www.melissawrites.com.au
http://imaginecreatewrite.blogspot.com
http://emhawker.blogspot.com
http://havealaughonme.com/

As always – have fun!

The next step #amediting

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No we’re not even close to this step… Miles to go. So you’ve read it aloud to some kids who have picked holes in your plot. Go back and fix them. Then read again (aloud or to yourself). Once this is done it’s time to get some professional help. Now that doesn’t mean paying a fortune. I just think getting someone to assess or edit your story can be of great assistance. You can join a writing group (online or in person) or pay someone. Certainly at some stage I will pay for a professional edit. This is essential because there is nothing worse than finding some glaring error like a he instead of a she when reading a really great book. Your book is going to be great, so give it the best chance.

When you get other people to read your book remember their opinion is exactly that… Listen, take heed and change what you need to change to make your book perfect. If you don’t agree don’t change it. I like to have a conversation with myself (yes I’m nuts), but put yourself in the reader’s position. Me critical and reflect on how your story can be perfect.

Some advice when choosing someone to edit or assess your stories:
1. Best not to choose family members. They are either too polite or unnecessarily harsh – either way there are arguments. Leave them until the book is published. They buy it and will love it because you wrote it!
2. Find someone who you trust to be honest. I have had my books assessed and edited by Sally Odgers. This is great because I read her books all the time. My kids love them, so I know her writing style. She’s also affordable and is an excellent editor. So find someone you can trust.
3. If all else fails and you can’t send your book off that’s fine, maybe you’re not ready. Do a writing course, join a group, get to know other authors.
4. Most importantly believe in yourself!

You are one step closer to submitting that book – awesome, have fun!

Author Interview: Douglas Quinn #childrensauthor

Amazing how time flies… this interview was meant to be posted last week, but things (life) just got in the way. So here it is. Stitch would like you to meet children’s author Douglas Quinn:
Douglas Quinn with Gracie -- Editing The Midnigh Skulker

When did you decide to become an author and what impact has this had on your life?
I really didn’t just decide to become an author. It evolved out of a family history/genealogy project my dad and I worked on. We had so much interesting information and family stories to share, my dad and I decided to organize it all into something we could publish and share with others who were researching the same family. I love family stories. Once finished with the first two family history books, I began thinking about writing fiction. Naturally, my first novel idea came from another family story, an “almost” happening involving my children and a trip to Spain.
As for an impact on my life, it has become all consuming. I live to write.

Awesome reason to live.

Where do your ideas come from? What experiences or aspects of your life influence your writing?
As I mentioned, the idea for my first novel, a suspense/thriller titled The Catalan Gambit, came from an “almost” happening. Students, my boy and girl twins included, from the school system had signed up for a chaperoned trip to Spain. At that time, airplane hijackings had become a popular sport for terrorists. Because of this, the trip was cancelled. I began to think, what would happen if they’d gone on the trip and their plane was hijacked. As a father, what would I, what could I do to save them? My “tag” line was “How far would a father go to save his children.” I followed up with two more books in what I called The Ellis Family Saga.
I enjoy mysteries, so for my Webb Sawyer Mysteries, I set these stories in the Outer Banks and Albemarle Sound areas of northeast North Carolina (USA) where I live. As they say, “write what you know,” and I love and know this area and its people quite well.
For my Ancestry Series, I went back to the research done on my ancestors and, using the facts and stories my dad and I had collected to create a historical fiction/adventure-based novel of the original emigrant ancestor’s life. I just completed book two of the series based on his son. Books three and four are in the queue.
When my two youngest grandsons asked me, why don’t you write children’s books (with them as the heroes, of course), I indulged them. It was easy to write in “their voice” as I used to have lunch in the school cafeteria with them and their friends once a week, where I opened discussions, listened and observed.. Now I have three different series going.
My newest series, Little Books for Little Readers (written, illustrated and marketed for ages 4-6), are based on experience with our four-legged kids, our cats and dogs.

Dogs make the best characters. As an interesting note Beagles and Labradors seem to make great friends!

Tell us about your latest work and what motivated you to write it.
Boy! Not sure where to start, because I work on several book projects at a time, one for each of my genres. I’ll give a brief answer for each one of them.
I am currently writing my fourth Webb Sawyer Mystery. Each of the titles for this series have birds in the titles: Blue Heron Marsh, Pelican Point, Swan’s Landing and the latest, Egret’s Cove. In Egret’s Cove, my protagonist, Webb Sawyer, drives from his home at Blue Heron Marsh in Nags Head on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, to go fishing with his long-time grade-school friend who lives on Ocracoke Island. When he arrives she is nowhere to be found. Evidence indicates she’s been kidnapped. But how? And why? And where is she? And is she all right? There is no ransom note and Webb is frantic to find his friend before it’s too late.
I just finished the second book of my Ancestry Series, Samuel The Pioneer. Samuel is the son of Cornelius The Orphan. As I mentioned before, these historical fiction/adventure novels are based on my own ancestors.
I have two more Children’s Chapter Book Series (for ages 8-12) that are completed and are in the editing process. One, The Adventures of Quinn Higgins: Boy Detective—The Case of the Gray Ghost’s Belt Buckle is the sixth Quinn Higgins book. The other one, The Adventures of Summer McPhee of Ocracoke Island—The Pink Lady is the third Summer McPhee book. I am also am over halfway finished (it will probably be completed when this interview runs) the third book in my Purple Dragon Fantasy Series, Charles and Hero—The Dreadmen. As I mentioned, I wrote these at the request of grandchildren, but now my readers motivate me to continue on with them.
And, finally, I’ve completed my second Little Book for Little Readers titled Solstice the Determined Beagle—Long Way Home. This book is now with my illustrator, who is doing pen-and-ink drawings for the text chapters. This story comes from the time Solstice (now deceased) got lost in a storm ten miles from home and, over ten days, found her way back home.

Wonderful a to do list that looks like mine… too many things to do!

What are your future aspirations as an author?<
When people ask me what I do for fun, I tell them I write. “Writing seems like hard work,” they say. The hard work is the editing process. The writing, for me, is not only fun, but fulfilling. It gives me a sense of accomplishment to tell stories and share them with others. This, and a dedication to my characters, will keep me writing until, one day, I keel over, my fingers still on the keyboard. If I have the premonition, maybe I will quickly type in (to be continued by the next person).

Ha that’s a good idea. You are right editing is the hard part – see my other blog for some tips:http://ghostnapped.wordpress.com/

What do you do to improve yourself as a writer?
I read, I research, I do crossword puzzles, I listen, I observe, I talk to people, ask questions, discuss ideas, but most of all I write, write, write, write . . . .

Where can people contact you?
My website is www.obxwriter.webs.com, where you can find a listing of all of my books, novels and children’s book, included. Please feel free to join up and/or contact me through the site with your questions, comments, what you thought about my books, etc. I answer all queries.

Tell us a little about your next work/s in progress.
I always have several projects in progress. Readers, even other writers, ask me how is that possible. How can I concentrate on more than one book at a time. My answer is, I really don’t know. I think I’ve been gifted with the ability to compartmentalize information, work on it, store it, bring up something else, moving from one project to another without confusion. Holy-moley, I sound like a computer.
Right now I’m only writing two books, Egret’s Cove: a Webb Sawyer Mystery and Charles and Hero–The Dreadmen. I’m also reading and researching for four other books. So many stories to tell, never enough time.

We wish the best of luck with all your projects.

Do you read the reviews of your work and how do they affect your writing?
I always read the reviews of my work. Fortunately, the vase majority of them have been very positive. Reviewers bring their own likes, dislikes and prejudices to their assessment. One reviewer loves the detail and the descriptions of the settings and characters, another one says there is too much detail. Another reviewer feels the need to point out a misplaced a comma on page 212. Another one may claim there were inconsistencies with the capitalization of the word “mother,” even though they were incorrect and didn’t understand the rules. In the end, it doesn’t matter. Readers don’t really care about niggling and nitpicking. They want to know if the reviewer believes that story, the setting and the characters will grab them. Here’s my thought: If you get an unfavorable review, or the review has aspects that you dislike or don’t agree with, let it go. I’d rather have a review that I wasn’t pleased with than be ignored.

I always figure if they took the time to review your work there is something worth while!

Stitch Says has had the privilege of reading four of Douglas’ books and will be posting reviews over the coming week or two (that thing called life may get in the way!). So watch out for them. Thanks for joining us Douglas and remember keep reading, keep writing!

Author Interview: Becky Fyfe #chaboocha

Today we get to chat with author Becky Fyfe. Becky does an amazing amount of writing, editing and everything else in her life. She’s a superstar and the founder of the Chapter Book Challenge: http://chapterbookchallenge.blogspot.com.au/
Here’s what Becky had to say:

Becky

When did you decide to become an author and what impact has this had on your life?
I have wanted to be a writer ever since I was a child, but somewhere along the way, I lost the confidence to continue along that path. I managed to get my BA degree in English Literature and an AA degree in Child Development, but I stopped writing creatively for many years. Instead I concentrated on raising my children (all seven of them).

Slowly over time, I gained a lot of weight. I was clinically described as morbidly obese. That may not seem to have anything to do with my writing, but when I started actively trying to lose the excess weight and become healthier, I decided to begin blogging about the journey on a blog called Skinny Dreaming. I was very successful with my weight loss, losing more than half my body weight and reaching a healthy BMI. This also increased my confidence in myself by showing me that I could achieve what some considered impossible if I was just willing to put in the hard work towards it.

Through Skinny Dreaming, I was contacted by a start-up parenting magazine out in California that wanted me to be a regular writer for their monthly magazine on the topic of raising healthy children. I continued to write for the magazine for over a year. This added another cog in my self-confidence, especially in regards to my writing. Between the blog and writing for the magazine, I came to the realization that I still very much wanted to be an author.

What an amazing journey – not to mention you did all that while raising seven children… The mind boggles!

Tell us about your latest work and what motivated you to write it:

I have several projects on the go right now. I originally planned on writing the Skinny Dreaming book on health and fitness, but I have only managed to write the first few chapters and an outline for it. My true love is writing fiction, and I currently have one urban fantasy novel, one YA novelette (also urban fantasy), six picture books, a middle grade book and a chapter book in the editing stages.
The current works I am writing at the moment are one chapter book titled “The Day My Shadow Tried to Kill Me” and one non-fiction book called “The 28-Day Fitness Challenge” based on a challenge I am running on the Skinny Dreaming blog.
“The Day My Shadow Tried to Kill Me” came to me while I was busy writing an adult novel for National Novel Writing Month last November. It took my attention away from my NaNoWriMo novel, but I loved the idea so much that I couldn’t stop myself from sitting down to write it. It’s actually the first in a series. Here’s the brief synopsis (which is still a work-in-progress):

Gabby is just an ordinary girl living an ordinary life until one day, she isn’t. Magical things start happening around her, beginning with her shadow taking on a life of its own. Gabby would think this was cool, if it weren’t for the fact that her shadow was trying to kill her. Can Gabby stay alive long enough to figure out why these strange things are happening and how to stop her shadow?

Wow that list is actually longer than mine, can’t wait to see them all completed!

What are your future aspirations as an author?
I plan on publishing my novels someday, when they are ready. I haven’t decided yet whether I will self-publish them or go the traditional route, although I will have to go the traditional route for my picture books as I am not an illustrator.

I run my own Indie publishing company, Melusine Muse Press, that I have published some anthologies through, and I am hoping to expand the business model to begin bringing more authors’ works into the limelight, and I eventually hope to employ some illustrators.

Having some illustrators would be fantastic, they are hard to find.

Where do your ideas come from? What experiences or aspects of your life influence your writing?

Everything influences my writing and can bring me fresh ideas. My children are my biggest inspiration though. Aside from the ideas that come to me when I am with my children, ideas tend to come to me whenever it’s quiet. When I’m outside walking the dog or taking a relaxing bath, these are the moments when I have time to reflect and ideas will often light up in my mind. I also find that art and music have the tendency to inspire fresh ideas.

Quiet moments are the best – just where to collect them. I think we should bottle them up and send them around when required!

What do you do to improve yourself as a writer?
I read many books on the craft of writing. I read many books just for fun and enjoyment. I read blogs on the craft of writing. I write; I find that the more frequently I sit down to do some actual writing, the more my writing improves.

My biggest downfall is my tendency to procrastinate. To that end, I started hosting the Chapter Book Challenge (ChaBooCha) in March of 2012, with the goal of helping myself and others learn more about writing chapter books for children and to give us all that extra push to write the stories. The challenge is to write a complete first draft of a chapter book, middle grade book or YA novel from March 1st through March 31st. This March will be its third year running and the group has continued to grow.

I’m also hosting a new writing challenge in April this year, Blog Your Book in 30 Days. This challenge is mostly to get me working on my non-fiction book idea, but it will work for fiction books too. The challenge will give me the drive I need to write a chapter a day during April.
I am a member of the 12×12 picture book writing challenge, hosted by Julie Hedlund. The challenge keeps me writing a new picture book every month.

I find challenges very helpful in motivating me to stop procrastinating and to sit and write.

Yep that’s why I joined the Chapter Book Challenge – love to actually get something done.

What are the names of your books?

The anthologies that I have stories in, published by Melusine Muse Press, are “Teapot Tales: A Collection of Unique Fairy Tales,” “Jingle Bells: Tales of Holiday Spirit from Around the World” and “SuperHERo Tales: A Collection of Female Superhero Stories.” I also have a couple of doodle colouring books out called “Doodle Your Heart Out” and “Little Book of Doodles.” There are other anthologies with my stories in them as well: “Once Upon a Time: A Collection of Unexpected Fairy Tales,” “The Dark Fairy Queen’s Writerly Bridal Shower,” “Tales By the Tree: An Anthology of Holiday Flash Fiction” and “Charms: Volume 2.” The anthology “Keepsakes” will be out sometime later this year.

My girls love the Doodle Your Heart Out Book!

Where can people contact you?

I have several on-line blogs, but the main ones are Skinny Dreaming, Imagine! Create! Write!, Chapter Book Challenge, Rebecca Fyfe Writes, Fairy Magic Gifts and, now, Blog Your Book in 30 Days.

I also have a Facebook profile and several Facebook pages. (This is just a handful of them.)
Becky Fyfe
Skinny Dreaming
Imagine! Create! Write!
Chapter Book Challenge
Rebecca Fyfe, author
Fairy Magic Gifts
Blog Your Book in 30 Days

Do you read the reviews of your work and how do they affect your writing?

I try not to read reviews, but I would really like to get some more reviews posted for the anthologies.

What works best for you when writing? Meaning do you outline or write freely when you feel inspired to do so?

I write freely. I keep planning to outline, but, other than a general directional idea in my head, I usually write without one. The exception to this rule is for my non-fiction books. For non-fiction, I tend to write in my chapter headings ahead of time, which is a form of an outline.

Writing freely is great, just can be hard to come back to it later. If only I had the time to finish something in one hit.


For other authors who may be struggling what advice can you give on handling rejection?

My best advice is to never give up. Stop listening to that critical inner voice that we all have and continue to write. Every author has fears and doubts about their writing, even the ones who have already written best-sellers. If we all let our fears or doubts keep us from writing, then there would be no books and no new worlds of our creation for readers to lose themselves in.

Excellent advice. Thanks for joining us Becky. It was wonderful to get to know you more. So many more great interviews, reviews and news coming up here on Stitch Says. Keep reading, keep writing!

Loud and Proud #amediting

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This is Stitch and Chewie’s favourite part of the whole writing process (next to making the material of course!). Yep it’s time to read that story out loud. Now my dogs love to come down for story time and they are wonderful, but they don’t fix holes in the plot. Stitch groans – not sure if that’s because it’s bad or because Chewie is usually lying on him… So I have two other willing recruits for this part of the editing process. My girls. No one can pick a hole in you plot like six and five year olds. I read them the story and they tell me what they think. This works two ways.

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The first is when you read a loud you tend to read what is actually written. Well more closely that when you read in your head. Often reading to yourself is a case of what your brain tells you it says, not what it actually says. So reading out loud is important. Plus if you write children’s books you want parents or teachers to read your stories out loud. The need to flow nicely.

Second: I write for kids, so if my kids don’t get it then I’m not on the right track. It helps that my girls are book worms and have always had a love for story time. They are never backward at telling me when something doesn’t work.

The down side… well it’s not really a downside, just an interesting note. Since I have been reading my manuscripts out loud to the girls I have generated many more writing ideas. How so… well they come up with great suggestions. They even use my characters in their own creative play. At the moment they are sharing an imaginary friend. A fairy named Fidget…. Who I created… Needless to say Fidget now has a whole host of stories I need to write.

The only other issue is my girls don’t quite understand how long it takes to publish a book. So after I read it to them they want to take the finished product to school to share… I’m not that quick, sorry girls!

I recommend reading out loud. Either to yourself or someone else.. give it a try oh and as always have fun!