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Help an Author: Be a Beta Reader

My Manuscript Awaiting Beta Readers.

My Manuscript Awaiting Beta Readers.

How does that pile of pages become a treasured book?

Every author will tell you a different story, some sad, some happy, many somewhere in between. But all authors will tell you this: It takes a lot of hard work.

And not just the author’s work. Cover designers, interior designers, specialists in e-book format, and of course the marketing mavens–all of these are crucial.

But the ones I most appreciate are those who take a pile of loose pages and work their way through, making notes, thinking of options, and bravely crossing out unnecessary sections before handing the whole thing back to the author. Who is by now trying very hard not to shake in her sexy sandals.

These beta readers look at the book long before it’s had its final polishing. With The Loyalist’s Luck I did two rewrites and then handed the whole thing off to my beautiful beta readers. Long before it was ready, I might add.

And I shocked one of my new readers. He had only seen a book’s finished product before and definitely was not prepared for a book going through its birth canal. Gentle man that he is, though, we talked it all out and I got over my fractured feelings and he realized (I hope) how much he helped me make a better book out of those loose leaf pages.

I’m in the limbo stage just now. And I feel like I’m bending over backwards trying to get under the bar as I wait for my pages to come back so that I can edit them. I think this is the hardest stage. Waiting. And wondering. Will all of those people who loved the first book in the series appreciate this sequel? It’s a different kind of pressure, for sure, from the first book.

Meanwhile, for those who haven’t read The Loyalist’s Wife you still have a few weeks to get it done. And for those who are waiting for the continuation to John and Lucy’s story, The Loyalist’s Luck, I say, “Soon!” In the meantime, here’s a teaser.

John and Lucy escape the Revolutionary War to the unsettled British territory across the Niagara River with almost nothing. In the untamed wilderness they must fight to survive, he, off on a secret mission for Colonel Butler and she, left behind with their young son and pregnant once again. In the camp full of distrust, hunger, and poverty, word has seeped out that John has gone over to the American side and only two people will associate with Lucy–her friend, Nellie, who delights in telling her all the current gossip, and Sergeant Crawford, who refuses to set the record straight and clear John’s name. To make matters worse, the sergeant has made improper advances toward Lucy. With John’s reputation besmirched, she must walk a thin line depending as she does on the British army, and Sergeant Crawford, for her family’s very survival.

Come to the Book Launch!

The Loyalist’s Luck heads out into the world just in time for those early bird shoppers. It will be available in print and e-book formats on Amazon and other places (where the first book is) but the launch is right here in little old Woodstock, Ontario. If any of you are in the area or planning a trip, here are the details. We do throw a good party!

Date:         October 19, 2014

Time:         !:30-4:00 p.m.

Where:      Quality Hotel and Suites, Woodstock Ontario.

See You There!

 

 
7 Comments

Posted by on September 10, 2014 in Publishing, Readers

 

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7 Ways to Brighten a Writer’s Day

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A Big Job Well Done!

Today I feel like the spider who has finally completed this huge undertaking. You know what I mean.

We all have those large tasks which seem to take forever and which gnaw at our innards until we finish them. Writing a book is such a task. Oh, sure, it’s a rewarding job overall, especially when it’s finally published, but many days the hill seems just too high.

Last week I neared the summit of another book project, or at least one of several hills. And I felt like the industrious spider at left who toiled and spun until this fabulous web was done. What was my milestone?

I finished the rough draft of The Loyalist’s Luck!

Just like the spider and her web, though, I still have lots of holes to fill before the final draft gets sent. So I got to thinking about other ways to brighten a writer’s day because finishing a draft takes months and months and we need more high points along the way.

7 Ways to Brighten a Writer’s Day

  1. Finish a chapter on your work in progress.
  2. Find an amazing bit of research.
  3. Write a wonderful sentence.
  4. Read another great comment about your first book.
  5. Check your book sales and find they’ve doubled from last month.
  6. Speak at an event and sell lots of books.
  7. Finish writing your first draft of a new project. (This is so rewarding it bears repeating.)

Coming Soon!  Book Two in the Loyalist series:  The Loyalist’s Luck

John and Lucy escape the Revolutionary War to the unsettled British territory across the Niagara River with almost nothing. In the untamed wilderness they must fight to survive, he, off on a secret mission for Colonel Butler and she, left behind with their young son and pregnant once again. In the camp full of distrust, hunger, and poverty, word has seeped out that John has gone over to the American side and only two people will associate with Lucy–her friend, Nellie, who delights in telling her all the current gossip, and Sergeant Crawford, who refuses to set the record straight and clear John’s name. To make matters worse, the sergeant has made improper advances toward Lucy. With John’s reputation besmirched, she must walk a thin line depending as she does on the British army, and Sergeant Crawford, for her family’s very survival.

Watch for the cover reveal for The Loyalist’s Luck, coming very soon! And if you haven’t read the first in the series, here are links where you may purchase it.

Purchase The Loyalist’s Wife on Amazon here.

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Purchase The Loyalist’s Wife for your Kobo here

 
6 Comments

Posted by on March 26, 2014 in Authors, Writing Tips

 

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Three Things I’m Grateful For Today

In spite of the fact that I’ve had the worst cold ever since returning from our winter break time in Hilton Head, yesterday gave me lots to smile about. I should have been posting my blog post. I wasn’t. Instead my husband and I got in the car at about 11:00 a.m. and headed for Niagara Falls.

I was at a point in the rough draft of The Loyalist’s Luck (coming this fall!) where I just needed to see the battlefield for the Battle of Lundy’s Lane, a huge battle in the War of 1812-14. The sun was shining, I had already written three pages and my partner was willing, so off we went.

Three Things I’m Grateful for Today? They all have to do with yesterday:

1. The lovely, finally warming sunshine which shone on us almost the whole time. (We did drive through a rain storm on the way home–quickly over.) I got Ron to stop the car so I could get this shot about three miles from home. Our day was ending and the sun was setting.

Yesterday's Winter Sunset

Yesterday’s Winter Sunset

I was going to take out the snow piled by the side of the highway but then I thought some people might never see this. Left it in for them. :-)

2. We walked a tour of the Battle of Lundy’s Lane in Niagara Falls under sunny skies but over fast-melting snow-covered sidewalks. Both of us ended with damp feet! And we’ll have to go back to Drummond Hill Cemetery because the snow kept us from studying the names of the soldiers buried there, right where the battle took place. I had just been studying the maneuvers that morning so standing at the top of the hill and looking over the battlefield brought it all to life for me. And in a few minutes I’m going to write that part in The Loyalist’s Luck.

Imagine a foot of snow on the ground and you'll see what we saw.

Imagine a foot of snow on the ground and you’ll see what we saw.

3. As if getting my pages written in the morning and taking this tour in the afternoon wasn’t enough of a thrill, that night my husband found a surprise for me in our alma mater’s alumni magazine which had come in the mail that day. Listed on p. 36 under New Releases From Western Alumni was my novel, The Loyalist’s Wife, among books by seventeen other Western grads. And, of course, with Alice Munro winning the Nobel Prize for Literature and having attended Western as well, we Western people are just a little proud. Imagine being in the same issue as the article about Munro’s Nobel!

I Made It Into My Alumni Magazine!

The moral of the story, so to speak today is that celebratory days come and when they do–

CELEBRATE!

 
5 Comments

Posted by on February 20, 2014 in Historical Fiction, History, Just For Fun

 

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My Writing Process

Today is a bonus post, my writing and reading friends. The author Marta Merajver-Kurlat (http://www.martamerajver.com.ar/marta/index.php/blogroll), author of Just Toss the Ashes and Why Can’t I Make Money? among other works, invited me to participate in this blog hop tour and answer four questions about my writing process.

ALL ABOUT MY WRITING PROCESS

1) What am I working on?
The project nearest and dearest to me these days is The Loyalist’s Luck, the second in the Loyalist Trilogy. It carries on with the theme of seemingly ordinary people being forced to live in an extraordinary manner because of decisions made by those who govern them. Specifically John and Lucy Garner continue the story started in 1778 New York State when he decides to join Butler’s Rangers and fight for the King, leaving Lucy behind to try to hold on to the isolated farm in the wilds of New York State. This second book takes their story across the border and introduces several other characters who all start in a new land with nothing. The book leads up to and includes their family’s struggles in the next war, the War of 1812.
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Historical fiction takes fictional characters and tells their story against the backdrop of history, sometimes using actual historical figures who interact with those of the author’s imagination. That being said there are many, many books on the American Revolution but very few from the point of view of the Loyalists. This makes the Loyalist Trilogy unique.
3) Why do I write what I do?
First of all I love to read historical fiction. Then the fact that I am of Loyalist descent myself makes this topic thrilling for me to research and write about. Finally I love playing with words all the while learning more and more about my craft. And the days that a new idea pops into my head as my fingers fondle the keys, those days are the absolute best. The time flies and I delight in what has appeared on my screen as I let my brain go on a wild and wondrous rampage.
4) How does your writing process work?
I’ve tried to write an outline, a plan, sample paragraphs, etc., but my brain always takes off on its own. In my research I may find a unique thought or detail from the past and suddenly my characters grab it and run. I always thought that writers’ thing about wondering who will be on the other side of the door was just so much claptrap. But, guess what? It happens and it’s unbelievably cool when it does. So my first draft is a huge eye opener for me. Following that, I revise and look up details I’ve put in red on the first draft, and I just keep revising until I love to read what I’ve written and don’t get stopped by some bit which needs tweaking. Once I’m happy with it, I enlist my editor and my beta readers to see what they pick up. I look at their suggestions and decide to use or not until, finally, I have the book I’m proud of. This all takes forever but it’s worth it. I strive for perfect. :-)

Next step along the Blog Hop:

Sharon Clare is an author of paranormal romantic novels and lives in Ontario with her husband and three wonderful grown-up kids who come and go from the nest. She fell in love with writing at the University of Toronto where she graduated with a science degree in psychology and professional writing. She has also published short stories, art reviews, newsletter and magazine articles. Her favourite place to write is outside under the maple trees beside the trickling pond and blooming lilies. You can find her at the following links:

http://romancebeyond.com/author/sharonclare/      
sharonclare.com 

 
14 Comments

Posted by on February 10, 2014 in Authors, FAQ's, Historical Fiction

 

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The Importance of Going Back to the Beginning

One of the bits of personal philosophy which has stuck with me is the importance of remembering where I was as opposed to where I am now. This applies to all facets of life, I suppose, but today my writing life is foremost in my mine.

In March of 2007, my son asked me the now-familiar question when I mentioned I wished I had written a novel: “If not now, when?” Of course he was right and as my husband and I drove to Hilton Head Island (two days), I thought about his words. By the time we reached our destination I had decided. The very next day we hit the book store as we love to do and I bought a book called “How to Write a Novel”.

Last June The Loyalist’s Wife, the first in the Loyalist Trilogy, was published. For three weeks now, we’ve been back in Hilton Head avoiding the nasty winter storms back home and I’ve been working very hard on the second book, The Loyalist’s Luck. I took time out, however, to visit the store where it all started seven years ago—Barnes and Noble in lovely Hilton Head.

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What a thrill to walk inside, drink in the atmosphere, and get my picture taken with my first novel and one of the clerks at the store. (I’m the short one!)

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Of course I looked on the shelves for the book which had got me started those seven years before but I couldn’t find it, even though lots of other how-to volumes filled the space for books about writing. I was thrilled to use the Barnes and Noble computer to look up The Loyalist’s Wife. There it was! I had seen it from my computer at home and I knew it was all over the web, but still, to see it here, where my journey began, was pretty wonderful.

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A big thank you to Barnes and Noble for helping me out with this, both by being a book store still focusing on books and by listing my novel. By the way, I’ve written over 30,000 words in the three weeks we’ve been here so all around this is a pretty awesome visit to a favorite haunt of ours.

Next year when I come I’ll have the second book  in print and the third one in process. Writing can be a joyous pastime, that’s for sure.

Sign up here to receive my quarterly newsletter via email, the next issue of which will be in February!

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Purchase The Loyalist’s Wife on Amazon here.

Or on Barnes and Noble here.

 
11 Comments

Posted by on February 5, 2014 in Authors, Marketing Books, Publishing

 

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Move on Over Writers, the Next Generation is on the Way!

From time to time I meet writers. Not surprising because there are a lot of us around these days. That’s amazing in itself.

Because of the world I grew up in, where being inside the box was mandatory if we wanted to succeed, my creative side has mostly bloomed since three things happened:

  1. My children grew into their own lives and their own homes.
  2. I retired from teaching.
  3. Computers took over from telephones and televisions as the next lifestyle changing revolution.

That third one is the most interesting. Did you know writers used to actually write? On paper, with pens (or quills), and without ergonomically correct work spaces? And that meant hours of painstaking toil, especially in revising and rewriting the whole thing out over and over again. My brain hurts and my writing hand is locked in a permanent claw just thinking about it.

Certainly today many more people follow their need for self-expression and take the writing plunge. Just look at the number of blogs which stream by on Blogger or WordPress or any of the other user-friendly (there’s a word from the past!) blogging sites. Hundreds of thousands seek self-expression where two hundred years ago you would have seen a lot fewer zeroes in those numbers.

With the plethora of writers flexing their fingers and their brains it seems self-evident that a huge number of them would be young. I don’t just mean twenty or thirty somethings, I mean teenagers or even younger. In my volunteer job in an eight-hundred-strong group who gather to hear speakers and youth speakers every month, I had the pleasure of securing and introducing an eight-year-old author who was selling her book to help children in Ghana. Imagine! And she was already planning her next book and where its proceeds would go.

Nassem

Last week I had the distinct pleasure of reading a column written by a fourteen-year-old about my book, The Loyalist’s Wife. He loved it. Even though he does not fit my intended audience Nassem Al-Mehairi enjoyed my book enough to review it and, a few days later, to interview me on his blog. Take a look at his links for a taste of what a young teenager can do.

I started my formal writing career only a few years ago. I am awed by the thought of what Nassem will do by the time he is my age. Consider leaving a comment on my blog or on Nassem’s or even tweet, Facebook, or whatever other social media thing you want to let the world know about Nassem. He’s coming!

 
 

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What’s a Working Holiday for a Writer?

 

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My work area while on holiday

Are you the kind of person who longs to get away and have time to yourself? Do you muse about just how that would look? Last year my husband and I escaped for three weeks in January and the result was a giant step ahead with publishing The Loyalist’s Wife.

This year we had the opportunity to come back for 3 1/2 weeks and it’s working beautifully. I am set up on one side of the table and Ron is on the other. See the open laptops? And there’s my water, a necessity when I’m writing, a pillow on the chair to raise me up (apologies to Josh Groban)  to an ergonomically correct position and my pile of folders and notes I brought with me. You should see what I left behind!

Each day I get up, have breakfast, check my email, add to my list of things to do for the day, take my shower and get beautiful (we can only hope), and settle in to my cushion-covered chair to write my three pages for the day. That’s my goal. Often at home I just don’t make it, but here the pages are piling up and so is my excitement. I am a goal-oriented person so fulfilling those goals lets me soar for the rest of the day.

Those pages take about two hours as I’m working on the first draft. And that’s usually the start to my day. This morning, however, there is a book club meeting at 10:30 and, reading lover that I am, I thought I’d go. the fact that I might meet other readers who might like my work has not escaped me. Wish me luck.

Since we got here I’ve written 3 pages every day, which makes 21 pages. With a total of 24 days here, that makes 72 pages. And I’ve trained myself to push forward rather than hone each line to perfection. The goal is to finish the first draft and THEN revise. You see you can teach an old dog new tricks.

So you can share in my upbeat mood, here are two more pictures. The first is from our balcony in the morning; the beckoning blue of the ocean is a daily delight.

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This last one is from the same perspective at the end of the day. What’s not to like?

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I’m off to hear what others are reading and I wish you worlds of wonder in your own reading. Consider leaving a note in the comments below to tell us of your favorite writing or reading place.

 
13 Comments

Posted by on January 22, 2014 in Book Clubs, General, Readers' Wants

 

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