March 9th, 2018

Are You Sick and Tired of Editing Your Book?

Frustrated woman at desk with pile of papers beside her

I’m currently working on yet another edit of my young adult book that managed to eke out an RWA Golden Heart final in 2015. You’d think this baby would be in pretty good shape.

When I entered my novel into that contest, it was hardly a first draft. More like Draft #72.

I think I’m up to about Draft #105.

Or maybe that’s just how many whine sessions I’ve had about having to revise the manuscript in some way, shape, or form.

Didn’t I hear how Stephen King only goes through three times? How about Ray Bradbury who wrote the short story from which Fahrenheit 451 came in a single draft? Am I simply destined to be a pen-wielding Sisyphus pushing the bolder of my book up the hill again and again, never quite reaching the final destination before it falls down on me yet again?

Hang in here, because I promise this isn’t just my personal bitch session. I do have a point. Three points, in fact.

Editing is necessary to turn out your best book.

As much as I’d love to write a fabulous first draft, send it to a publisher, and have them yank out their big, fat checkbook and write me an advance big enough to send my kid to college, that’s really not how this gig works.

It can be shocking to discover how much time you’ll spend editing versus writing. But those who dig deep and revise their manuscripts with chainsaws, Ginsu knives, and scalpels — as needed — find the result is well worth the effort.

Collection of knives in various sizes

Writer’s Actual Editing Tools

Every time I make changes and read it again, I get really excited about the result. While I haven’t actually counted how many revisions my book has been through, I can confidently state that the first draft was knee-deep cow-patty compared to how it reads now. Frustrating as the process can be a times, I’m convinced that deep-dive editing is a necessary process for turning out the best story I can write.

Editing improves your writing.

This particular book had a lot of issues in early drafts, with me choosing the wrong point of view, starting in the wrong place, and misfiring with the climax.

But after having to edit the book to deal with each of these issues, I’m far less likely to make the same mistakes again. Indeed, the next book in the series — written, edited, but not quite polished — is in way better shape at this point than this one was at a similar point in time.

Having to edit your mistakes or amp up your emotion or strengthen your story structure — or deal with whatever other weakness you have — forces you to improve your writing chops. Then when you write the next book, you have those shiny skills in your toolbox. You’ll write to the know-how you’ve gained, because the process of editing that other book taught you what to do…as well as what not to do.

Editing happens to the best of us.

Whenever I’m frustrated with some aspect of writing, I go check with the experts to see what wisdom they have. Actually, they say that rewriting, revising, editing, and more editing are par for the course.

Take Ernest Hemingway, for example, who rewrote the last page of Farewell to Arms 39 times. When asked what had stumped him, he answered, “Getting the words right.” Vladimir Nabokov, author of Lolita (a genuinely chilling novel), said, “I have rewritten — often several times — every word I have ever published. My pencils outlast their erasers.” Truman Capote once remarked, “I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil.”

And more recently, John Green, bestselling author of The Fault in Our Stars, said, “Books are made in revision. For all three of my novels, I have deleted more than 90% of the first draft. And everything that people like about my books emerges in later drafts.” You can hear it for yourself here:

I don’t know about you, but this makes me feel a little better. Like maybe it’s okay for your best writing to come out in Draft #5 or #12 or #67.

And by the time your book goes out to readers, they only know the amazing, kick-butt story you put into their hands.

That’s what drives me to keep editing my book until it’s the best story I can put out — because I want my novel in the hands of readers. I want them to love my characters, my story, my “baby” as much as I do.

Yep, I’m a bit sick and tired of editing. But when it’s all over, I’ll beam with pride.

When you’re done editing, I’ll beam with pride for you. Because your baby’s pretty awesome too.

Source: The Atlantic – ‘My Pencils Outlast Their Erasers’: Great Writers on the Art of Revision


Julie Glover writes cozy mysteries and young adult fiction. Her YA contemporary novel, SHARING HUNTER, finaled in the 2015 RWA® Golden Heart®. When not writing, she collects boots, practices rampant sarcasm, and advocates for good grammar and the addition of the interrobang as a much-needed punctuation mark.

Julie is represented by Louise Fury of The Bent Agency. You can visit her website here and also follow her on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

March 7th, 2018

It’s a New Year: Writing Challenges and Rewards in 2018

Before I begin this post, I have to share that my book cover for P.R.I.S.M. took second place in the Young Adult category of the JABBIC Contest, sponsored by our own Julie Glover’s RWA Houston Bay Area chapter!

At the beginning of every year, as the resident science and science fiction geek here at WITS, I share what my friends in the know, in particular Jeanine Just, have to say. I was going to skip this post this year, but there was just too much good news not to share it with you. Here are links to some of my previous posts: 2017, 2016, 2014.

Happy Chinese New Year! It’s now officially the Year of the Dog, which brings energy for loyalty, justice, and self-sacrifice. Hard work, competent decision-making, and devotion are the watch words for your writing career in this special year of the Earth Dog. This is good news if you tend to have anxieties and phobias surrounding your writing, because this “double earth” year balances out those problems. This year is a chance for us all to be realistic, practical, methodical and detailed as we build our successful careers. Staying alert, watchful and perceptive, you can pick the right time to make your mark.

Do you know anyone who was sorry to see 2017 end? Me, neither. Thanks goodness 2018 is already shaping up to be a different kind of year. It’s important to remember not to personalize what happens to you this year. Instead, honor your own rhythms to promote right brain/left brain alignment. This connection between your analyzing, patterning brain and your creative brain will enhance your writing. There are possibilities for great projects for all of us this year.

This is not a year to be a hermit, locking yourself in your writing space, looking for word count. Conscious connections with like-minded writers and people are important to grow your craft—and your humanity—for amazing adventure and opportunities in 2018.

Last year was a year to begin new projects, new cycles, new thoughts, which necessitated giving up old ways. The change that was forced upon many people was very difficult. This year, reaching out to others to develop interdependence will make changes easier. That’s why family, biological or by choice, will be important to support choices of union and synergy over being alienated, lonely and depressed as we move forward with those changes. Understanding the lives of those around you and the “lives” of your characters will be easier through integration of information. Take a class, read a book, attend writer group meetings. Attend events that restore your faith in the good things going on in the world. It will show in your writing.

Support someone else. This could be another writer or a non-writer in your community. You might be pleasantly surprised at how helping someone can help actualize your potential. Ask the right questions. If your plans take an unexpected path, it may be time to move into a different future. Maybe it’s time to try dance, yoga, Tai Chi, visualization or meditation. Maybe it’s time to fall in love with yourself.

As for the physical:

  • Eat life-enhancing foods that nourish your brain and nervous system.
  • Get more sleep to promote valuable insights and clarity.
  • Lessen mental conflict, racing thoughts, and muscular tension, all of which negatively impact the immune and lymphatic systems.
  • Spend more time in nature to renew your spirit.
  • Experiment with different rhythms and timing. Perhaps you’ll find a change that encourages better health.

TO DO’s for 2018:

  • Be mindful of your need to “give back.”
  • Be authentic. Say what you mean and mean what you say.
  • Don’t rob anyone of their responsibilities. It’s important to hold others accountable.
  • Welcome everything! Without judgment.
  • Don’t put energy into anything your don’t want to experience.
  • Graciously allow others to give to you.
  • Commit to making all interactions kind, compassionate and memorable.

This year you can expect to make new friends and relationships that support your writing. Have a great 2018!


Have you already noticed a change this year? What are you looking forward to in 2018?

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Fae Rowen discovered the romance genre after years as a science fiction freak. Writing futuristics and medieval paranormals, she jokes  that she can live anywhere but the present. As a mathematician, she knows life’s a lot more fun when you get to define your world and its rules.

Punished, oh-no, that’s published as a co-author of a math textbook, she yearns to hear personal stories about finding love from those who read her books, rather than the horrors of calculus lessons gone wrong.  She is grateful for good friends who remind her to do the practical things in life like grocery shop, show up at the airport for a flight and pay bills.

A “hard” scientist who avoided writing classes like the plague, she now shares her brain with characters who demand that their stories be told.  Amazing, gifted critique partners keep her on the straight and narrow. Feedback from readers keeps her fingers on the keyboard.

P.R.I.S.M., a young adult science fiction romance story of survival, betrayal, resolve, deceit, lies, and love is available in trade paperback and e-book form at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

When she’s not hanging out at Writers in the Storm, you can visit Fae at  or

March 5th, 2018

4 Ways to Create Your Author Persona

Donna Galanti

When it comes to creating your author persona, some refer to this as your “author brand.” Understand that you aren’t branding your book – you’re branding YOU. Simply put, your author brand is about connecting with your readers on a person-to-person level.

Everyone’s persona (or brand) is unique (just like you) and it’s your own personal story that you choose to convey that will draw your readers to you. As Dr. Seuss said, “There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” After all, it’s so much easier to be you than someone else!

4 Ways to Figure Out Your Author Persona
Ask yourself these questions to create your unique story and message that will create a strong emotional connection with your target readers and, in turn, increase their loyalty and trust.

  1. Do soul searching. Ask yourself … Who Am I? What do I have to say? What matters to me? Why do I write what I do? Where am I going? Look to … your passions and purpose for this. You are a storyteller and want to create an appealing author story (the story behind the story). We need stories to make sense of the world around us and to feel a sense of belonging. This is why people read! 😊
  2. What are your unique strengths and qualities – and what are your flaws? Base this on … where your confidence shines (for me: sharing what I learn to inspire others), what is important to you (for me: self-improvement), most passionate about (for me: my son), and fumble with (for me: patience).
  3. Who is your target readership? Base this on … Your book’s genre and the age range of your readers. For example, I write fantasy for middle grade (8- to 12-year-olds).
  4. What keywords and phrases do you want people to associate with you? Base this on … your standout traits.

Go-Deeper Exercises:

  • Conduct a survey of family and friends: Ask them to describe you in 3-5 words. What are the positive things about you that draw them to you? What are your quirks? Circle what resonates with you.
  • Look to your long-term goals: Where do you see yourself in 3-5 years as an author? Having written more books in the same genre, conducting school visits, doing book clubs, etc.
  • Set boundaries: List all the things that make you uncomfortable about the life of an author. What are you willing to do – and not willing to do?
  • What authors do you admire?: Why are you drawn to them? Why are others? What traits do they possess? Can you draw similar connections toward yourself?

From all this research and soul-searching, create your public persona that is an extension of your writing and who you are. Your persona will then be the words and images that people associate with you.

After gathering your research, write a one-page story from the heart about yourself. Read it aloud. Share it with your family, friends, and writing peers. Does it feel natural to you – to them? Are you passionate about what you’re saying?

Polish your genuine story. Once you’re comfortable with it, share it. This is “who you are”! Now you can start building a community of writers and readers by sharing your persona online and in person.

Rookie Mistakes:

  • Using multiple headshots across social media platforms. Make sure people can recognize you.
  • Thinking you should create different personas for different audiences if you write across genres or age-ranges. Find themes that cross over to all the stories you write and create one persona.
  • Posting on social media or blogging outside the scope of “who you are”. For example, if your persona is to share travel stories and books you love, then you won’t suddenly be talking about parenting tips as your growing audience won’t expect this from you. Be genuine and consistent.

Go the Extra Mile!
Find similar authors. Connect, follow, and engage with them. Do some friendly stalking and see where they hang out. Discover how they brand themselves, connect with readers, and promote their books. Some of their personas may resonate with you that you can model yours on.

Your author persona is a promise to your audience. Promise them your unique self, consistently deliver on it, and they will come to expect it.  Now use your creativity and imagination (just like your writing!) to create that author persona that best fits you.

Are you struggling with your author persona? What techniques have you tried to create one? Have you found what works for you in branding yourself as an author? If so, share your success with this!

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About Donna: Donna Galanti is the author of the bestselling paranormal suspense Element Trilogy and the children’s fantasy adventure Joshua and The Lightning Road series. Donna is a contributing editor for International Thriller Writers the Big Thrill magazine and blogs with other middle grade authors at Project Middle Grade Mayhem. She’s lived from England as a child, to Hawaii as a U.S. Navy photographer. Donna enjoys teaching at writing conferences and presenting as a guest author at elementary and middle schools. Visit her at and She also loves building writer community. See how at

Connect with Donna:

March 2nd, 2018

The Advantages of Hybrid Publishing

Debbie Herbert

There’s always plenty of debate (sometimes heated) about whether to indie or traditionally publish. Growing numbers of authors are going hybrid, which is using both platforms to build their readership. When originally broached on writing about this subject I was a bit hesitant. So many authors are firmly entrenched in one of the two camps. What I’ve written here is only MY experiences and opinions. You are perfectly welcome to feel differently. Of course!

I’m going to admit straight up that my Indie sales are nowhere near bestsellers (at this time anyway . . . hope springs eternal). I have four paranormal romance indies that have earned me about $10,000 since I first began publishing them in April 2013. And half of that total came as a result of multi-author box set profits—back in the day when these sets were newer and more profitable. By contrast, I’ve earned far more on my traditional books published by both Harlequin Intrigue and Harlequin Nocturne.

Earnings aside, publishing these indie books has been fun. And the even bigger benefit is that independently publishing has provided me with a crash course education on the book publishing industry. I started out traditionally publishing and had only the barest notion on book categories, keywords and marketing. I have a long way to go, but I’m learning.

I do have writer friends earning an annual six-figure income from their indie books and I am in awe of them. I’ve been able to closely observe the secret of their success which has entailed a thorough study of their targeted sub-genre and then prolifically writing and publishing books using identified tropes that meet reader expectations. It goes without saying, they are also very gifted writers.

In spite of all that, my own preference is traditionally publishing. So far, it’s where I’ve gained the most readers. I still have to market these books, but not nearly as much as I must to try to gain visibility for my indie books. I like having an agent and editors and artists work on the technical end of publishing which frees up more of my time to do what I truly love—putting words on paper.

There’s a growing acceptance with editors and agents for indie publishing as they see how indie sales boost reader interest in traditionally published books. Writing indie books has never been an issue with my agent.

Below, I’ve outlined some of the advantages of each type of publishing.

Traditional Benefits:

  • Validation. Maybe it’s only me, but contracts from traditional publishers means that the “experts” think my writing is “good enough.” For someone with my insecurity, this is huge!
  • Distribution. I love that my mass market paperbacks are readily available in bookstores and places like Walmart and in global markets. I realize successful (VERY successful) Indie authors are increasingly able to distribute their print books to brick and mortar stores. But I’m certainly not there yet.
  • Built-in audience. In the case of my publisher (Harlequin/HarperCollins) they have their own, very popular in-house Book Club where readers can earn rewards for book purchases.
  • A team of professionals, with no upfront cost to me, that handle all aspects of publishing to include editing, book covers, proofreading, etc.
  • Deadlines. For me, there’s just something about a firm deadline, established by an outside company, that motivates me to churn out the words in a timely manner.

Indie Benefits:

  • A monthly paycheck from indie books to supplement traditional publisher advances.
  • Artistic freedom in content and word count. If I want to write a mermaid/space alien/ erotica book, that’s cool. I might not find many readers, but that’s another story . . .
  • Testing a new genre. It’s possible to write another genre you’ve been dying to get a toehold in to test the market waters. You can use your current pen name to see if readers follow you into a new genre, or create a new pen name and start over.
  • Flexibility. Set your own deadlines and jump on hot trends to quickly produce a book or novella. Reverse harem, anyone?
  • Collaboration with other authors. It’s so much fun to work with other authors and form box sets or anthologies or co-author.
  • Higher profits per each book sold.

Hybrid publishing will give you the best of both worlds AND provide a means to keep your name in front of readers as you indie-publish to fill out releases around the often-slow schedule of traditional publishers.

Are you a hybrid author? Are you drawn more to one publishing platform than the other? I’d love to hear your comments!

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In the true spirit of hybrid publishing, Debbie had TWO book releases this week, both an Indie book and a traditional book. She also had to turn in a new book on Wednesday of same work. Yeah, crazy week!

Indie book: The Lost Dragon

When a dragon shifter’s daughter goes missing, he must seek help from the last woman on earth he wants to see again, the witch who spurned him years ago.

Drake Evers, a widower who lives in a remote mountain mansion, is content with life. He spends all his time on various business ventures, acquiring a massive fortune. But once he unexpectedly gains custody of twin sixteen-year-old daughters, his well-ordered world crumbles. When one of the twins goes missing, he’ll risk anything to find her—even if it means turning to the witch who spurned him years ago.

Traditional book: Appalachian Abduction

A small-town cop must protect
a beautiful rogue undercover detective.

Trespassing, fleeing a peace officer…hell, she’d aimed a gun at his chest! Officer James Tedder can’t help but admire her fight. And undercover detective Charlotte Helms will never quit. She’s on a personal mission: rescue her best friend’s daughter…and bust the child-trafficking ring that lured her away. When they’re forced to become partners, James must trust Charlotte to have his back. But can he trust her with his heart?


Debbie Herbert, A USA Today and Publisher’s Weekly best-selling author and 2017 RITA finalist, writes paranormal romance novels and suspense books, reflecting her belief that love, like magic, casts its own spell of enchantment. She is traditionally published through Harlequin, as well as Indie published. Married and living in Alabama, she roots for the Crimson Tide football team (Roll Tide!). Debbie enjoys recumbent bicycling and jet skiing with her husband. She has two grown sons and the oldest has autism. Characters with autism frequently land in her works, even when she doesn’t plan on it! 

February 28th, 2018

5 Quick Ways To Shift Description and Setting Into Deep POV

Lisa Hall-Wilson

One aspect of writing in Deep POV that’s often overlooked or downplayed is the importance of filtering setting and description through your point of view character (POVC). Remember, in Deep POV you want to avoid drawing conclusions for readers. Don’t tell readers what to think, give them your POVCs raw data and let readers come to their own verdict about how the POVC feels, what they’re observing, and the world they live in. This puts the reader IN the story and keeps them out of the theater seats.

To that end, filtering the story setting and description through your POVC is critical. Here are five tips to writing setting and description in Deep POV that will take your writing to the next level:

Observe Don’t Report

When you imagine your setting, avoid the temptation to have your POVC label what they see. It’s a rectangular room with a bay window and upscale furniture in artful arrangement. A Persian rug I’m afraid to walk on covers the floor. Sure, there’s no POV violation here, but the reader’s learned little about the setting or the POVCs feelings about it.

Instead, let your POVC share their impression of the room in a way that reveals character. I stepped where Caroline stepped and gathered close all the loose bits and flaps of my clothing. If ‘you break it you bought it’ applies here, I’ll be broke before we get to the dining room.

Avoid The Obvious Or Assumed

Avoid having your POVC notice the obvious. Everyone knows the sky is blue and clouds are white. Don’t tell me the woman your POVC just met has a mouth, two eyes, a nose or two ears – what’s unusual? And how does what she notice give the reader insight into her and this new character?

Ender looked at Peter only to detect anger or boredom, the dangerous moods that almost always led to pain.Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card.

BOOM! This description not only tells us about the boy being observed, but the character doing the observing.

Felora leaned against a corner post with her back to the street, cleaning her fingernails with a small blade. He repressed a smile. Even as a child, she’d hated getting her hands dirty but never had enough sense to stay out of the mud.” From my novel The Last Seers.

In this example, I’ve aimed to give readers insight not only into Felora’s character but filtered through POVC readers also have an idea of priorities and perceived inconsistencies.

How Does The Setting Feel?

Your setting should either heighten, change, or reflect back how your character is feeling in Deep POV. This is where some art comes into play using literary devices like personification, pathetic fallacy, metaphors, similies, and others.

Let how your POVC feels show the reader what they’re seeing. One of the absolute best examples of this is from the opening paragraphs of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Sitting at Prim’s knees, guarding her, is the world’s ugliest cat. Mashed-in nose, half of one ear missing, eyes the color of rotting squash. Prim named him Buttercup, insisting his muddy yellow coat matched the bright flower. He hated me.”

Katniss shows us what the cat looks like by sharing how she feels about it. Not only do we get a picture of the cat, but we also get an idea both of how she and her sister choose to see the world.

Sometimes even the setting becomes a character. Consider a work like Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Scotland is almost a separate character in the first two novels in the perspective of the highlanders: …but make no mistake, lass, I love Scotland more, and I would give everything … everything I have or ever will have, including my life, to see a Stuart back on the throne.”

Interact With Setting

In Deep POV, it’s best to have your character interact with the setting instead of cataloguing what’s around them. Remember, present evidence not conclusions. If there’s a smell outside the window, have them open the window instead of reporting the smell. If there’s a coffee table in the room, have them knock their shin on it instead of reporting the material it’s made of.

A Few Well-Chosen Details

Readers do most of the work with description and prefer to be put to work. Readers want to engage, to crawl into the story, and if you describe a setting down to the last cobweb, you’ve left the reader nothing to imagine for themselves. If I tell you my POVC has invited a guest upstairs, is wearing lingerie, and then shuts the bedroom door – do you need me to describe the bed, say whether there’s a window or if the floor is hardwood or carpeted to create a mental image of the room?

Remember, the more time you spend describing an item or piece of the setting, the more importance the reader assumes it has. “The gun on the mantle in act one must go off by act three” is the old adage. Is that item important to the story or is there a reason for the POVC to notice it?

Make sure you check out my free 5 day e-course Writing Emotions In Layers designed to help you write emotions better in Deep POV.

What do you struggle with in writing in Deep POV? Conversely, what part of writing ‘point of view’ do you do well?

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About Lisa

Lisa Hall-WilsonLisa Hall-Wilson was a national award-winning freelance journalist who loves mentoring writers. Fascinated by monsters in the dark and the supernatural, she blends those elements into her historical and fantasy  stories, as well as her passion for history, fantasy, romance, and faith.

Find Lisa’s blog for intermediate writers at