Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Secret of the Ghost Author

Growing up, my favorite stories were the Nancy Drew mysteries.

I devoured each mystery and I, like many other girls, thought they had a special knack for solving mysteries like Nancy.
I even went so far as to leave written clues about some made-up mystery on small pieces of paper that I slipped into the ceiling moldings of my bedroom in the house were I grew up before we moved to a new house.
And why am I telling you this? Because perhaps my fascination with the Nancy Drew mysteries laid the foundation for the writing career I have today. But one thing always bothered me. How could Carolyn Keene have written the first book, The Mystery in the Old Clock in 1930 and still be alive to write Werewolf in a Winter Wonderland in 2003?

GET A CLUE!!!!

She didn’t. Carolyn Keene wasn’t one person. She was a pseudonym used by many hired authors over the years. These work for hire authors were ghostwriters.
A ghostwriter is a writer who writes books credited to another person.
Celebrities, politicians, and sports often hire ghostwriters to draft or edit written material, which will bear the celebrities name.
Ghostwriters are also hired to write fiction in the style of an existing author, often as a way of increasing the number of books that can be published by a popular author. Hence, Carolyn Keene.

Known popular authors who used ghostwriters:
Tom Clancy
V.C. Andrews
Robert Ludlum
James Patterson



Next up in the Author's ABC's…………. HOOK and HERO's JOURNEY

Monday, April 7, 2014

Before you self-publish…………FORMAT!

So this past month I attended a writer’s conference where the main gist of the panels and discussions was self-publishing. Self-published authors passed around their books, both picture books and novels and had the audience excited about skipping the traditional route and self-publishing their works.

These authors left thinking it was as easy as uploading their manuscript in a Word document file to Kindle Direct, Nook Press, Kobo, CreateSpace and Smashwords. And sure you can do that if you want your e-book to look like this:

arring crash rocks Knottingwood Manor, from the slate roof tiles to the stone cellars.
ted out of a deep sleep, I jump from bed, wide-eyed. My heart beats like stampeding ses in my chest.
her’s antique mirror had tilted to one side of the mantel, knocking two of my paper ns into the hearth and the sheer drape on my harp, in the corner of the room, thered to the floor.

WHERE IS THE LEFT HAND MARGIN?

Or this:

There were once a man and a woman who had long, in vain, wished for a child. At length it appeared that God was about to grant their desire. These people had a little window at the back of their house from which a splendid garden could be seen, which was full of the most beautiful flowers and herbs. It was, however, surrounded by a high wall, and no one dared to go into it because it belonged to an enchantress, who had great power and was dreaded by all the world.

EVERYTHING IS RUN TOGETHER. NO INDENTATIONS. NO NEW PARAGRAPHS.
Or this:

Today’s the first day of eighth grade and I should be happy.
 This year, my best friend, Annie, and I get to rule the school. Annie
and Frannie—Double Trouble. But I’m not ready for school. I want
summer to last so I can daydream about the Beatle’s concert I went
to last week. Paul’s dreamy. John’s sexy. George is cute and Ringo’s
funny. I’ll never forget the night of August 28, 1964.

EXTRA WIDE MARGINS, LEADING TO A LONGER BOOK.

Or this:
… end of chapter 1…
“I’m not insane, but I know what I saw,” she said to herself as she jolted down Finnerty’s rickety garage steps and burst through the hedges into her own back yard. Her high heels hindered her movement, but she reached the tree, as the door was about to disappear. Sticking her hand in the opening, the door opened once more. Not thinking twice, she followed her son and Alex into the unknown.

Chapter 2
Snowbird

    This trip to the parallel world was nothing like the last. Al heard Alex gasp for air in between screams of exhilaration, as the velocity with which she fell was remarkable. Looking down he barely made out her pink-capped head in the darkness of the root tunnel, as that is what it seemed to be. Gigantic tree roots reached out from the earthen tunnel, sometimes stopping his descent, and holding him stationary as he watched Alex plummet full-speed below.

ALL ON THE SAME PAGE. NO CHAPTER BREAKS.

So what is the correct answer? I would suggest that anyone who is considering self-publishing a novel or picture book to research FORMATTERS on the web and hire one before you upload your story to one of the online venues. There is a specific way to do it correctly and you should leave it to the experts.

I strongly recommend------


They are professional formatters, very helpful and experts at what they do. You can’t go 
wrong working with them. So remember before you self-publish…………..
FORMAT
Next up on the Author’s ABC’s… Ghostwriter









Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Ending Your Story


I remember one of my first critiques with an editor. I spent the ten of the fifteen minutes telling him my wonderful, fantastic, post-apocalyptic story (this was before everyone else was writing them). Of course he told me it wouldn’t sell and I thought it was the storyline, but when I told him the ending, he lost it. 
I mean he actually yelled at me. And I’ll never forget what he said, “No one wants to invest time in reading a 300-page book only to find out it was all a dream. Change the ending. Make it real.”
And so I did, but at the time I was a teacher with tests to create and correct, lesson plans to design, parent conferences, mandated meetings etc…… and so by the time I did rewrite the book, you guessed it……everybody was writing post-apocalyptic.
And so my story still remains in my computer file, but the experience did serve to teach me a valuable lesson……….
ENDINGS ARE EVERYTHING!!!! At least when you are writing stories.
The ending is in your head all the time you are crafting words and ultimately driving toward the finish. You make sure your characters are in place for the fantastic ending. Or it may be a surprise ending with unexpected twists, but the thing to keep in mind is that the ending is what you’ve been selling the whole time you wrote.
And the editor was right. The ending is why the reader invests their valuable time to read your story and if it isn't good they feel like they wasted their time and may not read another thing you write.
So what is a good ending?
In a nutshell… SATISFACTION
It should resolve the conflict.
Tie up the main storyline and secondary storylines.
It should grow organically out of the plot and actions.

How do you know if your ending is a good one?
The answer is CHANGE!
Obvious, right? When you finish your novel, or even your picture book, you should go back to reread and even sometimes rewrite your beginning because the ending MUST reflect the beginning only a definite CHANGE must take place. And it doesn’t just change at the end. Your ending reflects all the changes that took place in your story, the growth of your character and the decisions he/she made. The conflicts they overcame.
One of the worst mistakes a writer can make is to just end the story without any real change taking place. When you write, you make promises to the reader, from the very first paragraph, even the very first sentence (but that’s another topic). You had better deliver those promises at the end.
Here is an example of the first paragraph of my novel, RATGIRL: Song of the Viper and the last. Do they connect? Each one of these lines makes a promise to the reader that by the end, circumstances will have changed.
Whoever said the teen years were the best of a girl's life didn't come from
Metro City. Hell, they can't imagine what it's like to be me, living in a sewer
tunnel by day, and foraging the forest for food or scavenging through
abandoned mansions at night. Anything I find that I can't use to survive
 this hellhole I trade for money.

And here is the last paragraph.

I continue. "Tomorrow is July 22, 2511. It's the first day of our new lives."
Andy and Nyla get to know Colt and I contemplate what tomorrow
may bring. As our new lives start, I can't help but think Culpepper will also
 be starting a new life, one he never envisioned for himself—stinking and
dowsed in darkness, scratching through the alleys to sniff out morsels of
 food—the life of a rat!

Look at your beginning and then check your ending. Make sure they match and most importantly, that you delivered the change you promised.

Next topic in the Author'a A,B, C's is FORMATTING.