November 30, 2015

TGIO: Another NaNo (Almost) Ends

So here we are in the final hours of another NaNoWriMo. Was your month a success?

I haven't yet reached 50,000 words (though there's still a little time). That's a big number, even at the end of this month—and usually, it's nowhere near a finished adult novel.

But I have made quite a bit of progress on novel #4, temporarily named L&S. This story is in a new world, unrelated to my previous stories, but it's been knocking around in my mind for years. Years, because the topics and characters are very complicated and truly intimidating to write. It will likely take many revisions to even start getting the deeper themes across, if I ever succeed at that.

Suffice it to say, it will likely be a long time before this draft becomes anything readable, but that isn't the focus of NaNo—the first step is. Drafting. And I have a good chunk of a first draft done.

So that's much of my November in a nutshell. How about you??

Friendly reminder: The final #PitMad of the year is happening December 4th, aka this Friday. There are new rules, so be sure to check them out here!

November 27, 2015

Flash! Friday: Prompt #3-51

As some of you may have seen, Rebekah announced last week that this year marks the end of Flash! Friday. This weekly flash contest was one of the very first things I did when I decided to refocus on my writing and join the rich virtual literary community. A little while later, I even became a judge! I've missed it every Friday when I didn't have the opportunity to write, and I'll miss it in the Fridays going forward, but I'm so grateful to Rebekah for cultivating the community she did, and for welcoming all of us to be a part of it.

Nothing could replace it, and I'm not sure what if anything will fill the flash void in terms of my own writing, though thanks to people like Rebekah, there are many flash contests happening throughout the week.

Of course, it's November, so I really should be working on my NaNo novel. But instead, here's a 150-word (+/-10) flash attempt based on this character: 
and this photo:
Stockholm cityscape. CC2.0 photo by Miguel Virkkunen Carvalho

And it's not too late for your story! Enter the contest here.

November 23, 2015

All About Perspective: Failure's Role in Success

Last week, Suzanne van Rooyen wrote a post about why not winning NaNoWriMo doesn't really count as failing, which just so happens to tie in perfectly with the post I had planned for today. Great minds?

Failure is such a dirty word for most of us. We're taught from childhood that success is binary: either you succeed (e.g., get an A) or you fail (e.g. get an F). But like many ideas to which we're exposed in basic form as children, the adult reality is much more complicated. And as we move beyond a child-like, simple view of the world, it is the people who start to see the bigger picture who have the greater chance of ultimately succeeding.

Let's be clear: it is absolutely possible to fail. If your goal is to write every day for thirty days, and you only write for twenty of them, you failed in that goal. The question is, does the road stop there? Was that goal the be-all and end-all, or were you actually aiming to do something more? For instance: making time for your writing. If you did that 20 out of 30 days (an arbitrary number, since we're in the midst of NaNo!), then have you really failed?

It's easy to be discouraged by the small failures when we're only considering the small picture, like on the left side of the image above. But as that graphic has simplified on the right side, keeping your eye on the real prize can help shift those failures into perspective. Consider someone training for a marathon. On any given day, maybe s/he runs a mile less than the day's training goal. The goal set for that day was not achieved, so therefore that is a "failure." But if the runner still completes the marathon a month later, do those occasional failures matter?

Any time we stretch ourselves, any time we aim for something and set a real, big-picture goal, small failures become inevitable. The trick is zooming out and evaluating each step in light of the real goal, rather than getting discouraged by the interim road blocks. Failing today does not have to mean Failing (with a capital F in case you missed that). Nor do the small failures make you a failure. More likely, they mean you're trying something difficult. Making a couple wrong turns along the way is simply inevitable.

And speaking of wrong turns, my first novel, Mending Heartstrings, took a meandering detour that could easily be considered disastrous. In the perspective of the industry as a whole, and of many professionals in that industry, currently that book is a failure. This is heartbreaking.

But what it really means is that it needs to find a different path. And the first step on that new path has led to a breathtaking sight—the gorgeous new cover! Christa over at Paper & Sage did a fantastic job transforming a wonderful photo by my friend Jillian into a cover I absolutely love. I can't put into words (yes, I see the irony) how excited I am for the reveal!

Want to be among the first to see the new cover? Use the form below to sign up for the reveal on January 11, 2016!

And please consider sharing the signup link: (Click here to tweet!)

Thank you for your continued support as I wind my way on this publishing journey!

November 16, 2015

Mending Heartstrings & Moving Forward

Edit: The post below was pre-scheduled, before the events of November 13th. My mind and my heart remain with the Parisians and all those others throughout the world affected by the terrorism of hateful organizations that incite, support, and celebrate violence. I don't have it in me to write a longer post about the attacks. I pray as I write this addendum (Friday night) that no new tragedy occurs between now and when this post goes up (though hopefully for much longer than that). 

Some of you have noticed that Mending Heartstrings is no longer available for sale (actually, it still is on B&N but should be down soon). Long story short, Swoon Romance and I have parted ways. For many reasons, including professional discretion, I will not go into details, but suffice it to say I am thrilled by this, despite the challenges it will bring.

The even better news is that I will be releasing a new & improved second edition in early 2016! This week, I'm working with a wonderful designer to create a cover I'm much more excited about, with absolutely beautiful photos that I can't wait for you all to see.

Releasing a second edition (with a new scene!) is a brand new fork on the publishing path that I never would have thought I'd be taking, especially not so soon. But I'm committed to not letting that story die because of one bad experience. I hope those of you who've already enjoyed it will come along for the adventure as I reintroduce it into the world! And those of you who haven't yet had a chance...get ready!

Select reviews of the original edition are available here.

November 9, 2015

Guest Post: 12 Techniques for Emotionally Connecting with Your Readers

A writer must have the ability to connect with readers at an emotional level. This requires a certain level of intuition. Establishing an emotional attachment between readers and characters goes slightly beyond the technical factors inherent to quality writing. You will need to think like your reader, or more importantly, like a human being. You are probably already aware of the necessity for a deep grasp on an innate sense of humanity when writing but you may not be sure how to best achieve this level of comprehension.

Throughout my own writing endeavors I have either learned or discovered twelve tactics to aid in the successful association between fictional emotional iteration and real life emotional experience. That experience being the kind we all share as human beings. In fact, for the duration of this article keep in mind that, with the exception of the occasional psychopath, everybody feels emotions in basically the same way.

  1. Setting: 
    • Creating an appropriate setting for a scene is a basic requirement for projecting emotional intensity. The reader will be able to relate as he has likely experienced the mood invoking power of a similar setting in life. An extreme example of this would be a haunted house. The point being that through correct use of color, sound and locale; setting becomes a powerful tool for emotionally connecting with the reader.
  2. Sense:
    • The five senses are our window on the world. Use this fact when you describe how your characters interact with the world you have created for them. How does the wind feel on their face? How does the infant that won't stop crying affect the character? We have all made associations with the world around us based on our senses and most of those associations are universal. Use that fact to relate to your readers.
  3. Time:
    • Time can be a great way to express an emotional state of being. When we are rushed the mood is tense. You've seen the movies where there is only 30 seconds left to disarm the bomb. Conversely, when we have plenty of time we may feel relaxed or bored.
  4. Vocabulary:
    • Vocabulary choice can be a clever way to project a feeling upon the reader without them even realizing. Use powerful words such as "triumph" instead of more plain sounding words such as "win." Also try noting the proper places to use soft or hard sounding words like "rub" vs "scrape." If it will not offend your target audience, then toss an occasional swear word into your character's dialogue. Be careful though, just as in real life, a strategic swear word will indicate emphasis but too many will come across as abrasive.
  5. Transitions:
    • Use scene transition to convey emotions. The safety of an airplane followed by a tense descent and subsequent crash landing. The relief when the reader learns no one was seriously hurt followed by the extreme fear when they realize they crashed on an island full of cannibals. This type of literary roller coaster ride will keep the reader in constant anticipation of the next scene while supplanting their own emotions based on a sequence of events in their own life that may have followed the same pattern.
  6. Realism:
    • All fantasy needs a basis in reality. For real people to connect with your characters at an emotional level your characters will need real flaws. People that seem perfect in real life are annoying and so too will your perfect characters appear annoying in your story. Analyze the personality traits of your characters closely so you can choose flaws and struggles that correspond to a similar personality type in the real world. The reader will recognize this personality type and make a mental connection to themselves or someone they know.
  7. Consequences:
    • The obvious advice in regards to consequences would be to make the actual consequences themselves realistic. At a basic level this means the good guys win and the bad guys lose. Even though this is not always the case in life, we as people can see definite patterns such as hard work paying off and thieves suffering karma.

      The less obvious piece of advice related to consequences would be a recommendation for the use of expressive language to make your reader feel the consequential emotions that affect your character as a result of some action or event in the story. For example, instead of writing: ìCarrie is excitedî, write: ìCarrieís heart began to beat intensely as the adrenaline surge through her body reached her brain when she read that last lotto number aloud. Just reading that example sentence got me thrilled as to what would happen if I won the lottery. Artfully describing a familiar emotional consequence will force your readers to reflect on similar feelings they may have had with an experience of their own.
  8. Milestones: 
    • When you write the interactions amongst your protagonist and the supporting characters, make sure these correlations lay out emotional bonds whether these bonds be good or bad. You want your reader to recognize these bonds from their own life when they are reading about the history of a milestone for a particular character. Those bonds will play an important role in allowing the reader to understand why that milestone is so emotionally impactful on your character.
  9. Allusion:
    • Place little clues throughout the book that give some indication as to what the reader can expect. This will keep them holding on for the next chapter. Occasionally shock the reader with something unexpected.
  10. Choices:
    • We can all relate to an indecisive struggle with choices we've had in our own lives. Give your character a couple of those. Another powerful concept involves forcing the character to choose between bad or worse. Does he or she rob a bank or let a loved one die.
  11. Conflict:
    • Keep conflict constant. Even if it's between and character and himself. Utilize conflict heavily throughout your story. This does not have to be conflict between two characters. It can mean a struggle the character is having in his or her mind.
  12. Familiarity:
    • This tip could also be referred to as history and is really the basis for this entire article. A familiarity between reader and character at multiple facets of being is a definite prerequisite for making emotional connections. The reader must be made aware of a character's history before he or she can truly feel empathy for a character's struggle.

There are many factors that go into writing a great story but perhaps none more important than the ability to emotionally connect with the reader. By incorporating these techniques you will be laying a foundation for building a complex emotional structure for your characters. And remember that establishing real world familiarity for this structure is the most vital element necessary for leaving a lasting impression on readers.

James A. Rose is a writer for, a full service self-publishing company that specializes in transforming author dreams into reality. We have been providing exceptional and affordable service to writers for the past 15 years. No matter what type of book you want to create, Instant Publisher will be with you every step of the way to ensure the process is efficient and painless. We're not happy until you're happy.

Friendly reminder: everything expressed in the post above is a reflection of the opinions of the author, James A. Rose, not necessarily those of Aria Glazki.
Are you interested in guest posting on this site? I'm always happy to feature great content! Check out the guidelines here then contact me.

November 2, 2015

Welcome to NaNoWriMo!

It is officially National Novel Writing Month! Have you started your story? How is your writing going?

I've had a few very different discussions about writing in general and during NaNoWriMo specifically lately—with writers who question their ability to write at all, to those scared of the stories inside them, to those who (at least for now) have it all under control. And every single one of them started a new story November 1st.

For a whole host of reasons, NaNoWriMo can be intimidating or terrifying. Sometimes, we're simply scared that our stories aren't worth the effort. Sometimes we must confront our guilt for the sacrifices we make in other areas to make our writing a priority, if only for  a month. If you're feeling that way, or you'd just like to listen to a great talk on the topic, please check out the video below. (Special shout out to Jennifer for showing me this video!)

And if you don't want to watch the whole video, just remember this:
"It's OK, it's great, it's important to make your creative self a priority."

It's not too late to join the challenge that is NaNoWriMo! Learn more and join in on the craziness at