8 Key Female Archetypes to Consider for Your Novel

WritersWednesday

I found two awesome articles about Archetypes on C.S. Lakin’s blog and with her permission am sharing them for all you lovely people to see! Thank you so much C.S. for your insight and great resource! Here is the second article!

8 Key Female Archetypes to Consider for Your Novel

Last week we took a look at a number of diverse male archetypes that might inspire the characters in your fiction. In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the female archetypes.

Archetypes can spark great ideas for characters because they are classic “types.” While one character might wear a particular archetypal “mask” throughout a story, sometimes characters will switch masks, depending on the situation and relationship involved.

You may think that fashioning a character to match all the qualities of a particular archetype might be like stereotyping, but that’s not necessarily so.  Within a “type,” there is room for much originality in personality and traits.

The idea here, when borrowing archetypal characteristics, is to look at the purpose as it relates to your premise, protagonist’s goal, and themes of your story.

We want to populate our novels with a diverse cast of characters, all of whom have a specific—purposeful—role to play. It may feel like generalization to turn an ally character into a Magi or Mentor archetype, but try to look at the markers of these types and see who might embody them and when and why and how.

I mentioned in a prior post that as I fleshed out my idea for my new novel that I just released, Colorado Dream, I’d already worked out who my hero and heroine already were—what personalities they’d have and what things were important to them.

After I’d done that important work (so that my characters would be just right for my premise), I researched archetypes to see just which ones might fit best. All in order to get deeper insights and spark plot and conflict ideas.

I found that my hero, Brett Hendricks was a perfect representation of The Protector (described in last week’s post). And it wasn’t hard to come up with the best archetype for my heroine, Angela, an aspiring musician.

Just knowing music was the center of her life made it easy to link her to the Mystic, who has a rich internal world, is extremely sensitive, and can feel the emotions of others.

The Mystic fears not having a place in the world, doesn’t want to depend on others, and covets her privacy and solitude. She needs to connect with something greater than herself.

Choosing this archetype for Angela promised much conflict, for Brett, as a Protector, would clash in many ways with his focus on his physicality, heedless to danger, and lack of creativity.

The challenge for me (as always, and one I love) was to find common ground between two seemingly unalike characters. When it comes to writing romance, to me, the trick is to make the hero and heroine as different as possible in many ways, but find common ground. Usually this is tied in with past trauma, and the big “fear” each has, as well as core need, is the same.

With my characters, both have abusive, domineering fathers. They both know what it’s like to yearn for parental love and instead get a slap instead of encouragement. They are both passionate about their gifts, and they see and respect the passion they see in the other.

So I hope you’re starting to whirl with ideas for your characters as you read these posts on archetypes. Let’s now take a look at the 8 key female archetypes.

8 Female Archetypes

1) The Seducer (Aphrodite): She cares about men, but loves being in control. This type rarely has true female friends. Women are competition. She is all about her body and appearance. She fears losing her beauty, being passed over. She is motivated by wanting to experience life sensually, to the full. She isn’t always “bad.” She can embody the powerful attractive woman who is seeking true love, but an extreme of this archetype can be a very vicious, backstabbing, manipulative woman.

2) The Amazon (Artemis): This type is the outdoors gal. She, in contrast to the Seducer, loves the company of her female friends. She is supportive of women and children, sometimes a feminist, one who stands up for causes, likes being self-sufficient. In extreme, this type can be headstrong, pushy, want instant gratification with no regard for others’ needs. She might be reckless, easily enraged, stubborn, or boastful.

3) The Father’s Daughter (Athena): This woman aligns herself with powerful men and supports them. She yearns for male approval and wants to be accepted into their circle. She values work, dresses professionally, is smart, but often can’t see or accept her female side (which she might consider weakness). She fears loss of control and might feel trapped in relationships. In extreme, she’s wholly self-centered, caring only about her needs and advancement, and because of that might lie, cheat, or destroy another to get to her goal.

4) The Nurturer (Demeter): As the name implies, she’s all about caring about others, often to her own detriment. She might work for children, charities, rarely considering her own needs. She’s a good listener and is generous. She fears losing those she cares for, and she just wants to be loved and have a sense of belonging. In extreme, this type might be passive-aggressive, angrily codependent, manipulative to appear unselfish and nurturing. The over-controlling mother.

5) The Matriarch (Hera): Being a wife is her life, and everything she does is to please her husband and family. Family is everything. She might be highly controlling of her “empire,” and enjoys entertaining to a fault. He biggest fear is losing her husband or children, or losing their love. She fears being alone in the world, being abandoned. In the extreme, this character type might become suicidal, threatening, paranoid, doing everything to save face—even destroy her family—in order to keep up appearances.

6) The Mystic (Hestia): The Mystic likes to be alone, and often doesn’t want to marry or have a family. She is very sensitive, creative, and fears constriction on her freedom and creativity. She longs to connect with something greater than herself. She is spiritual and fears not having time to be alone and pursue her creativity. She’s motivated by a need for balance and order in her life, and she’s sensitive to the plight of others, but she tends to live in a dream world. In the extreme, she is a loner or sociopath, is socially inept, afraid to take risks or make friends, feels so inadequate that she tries to please everyone around her.

7) The Female Messiah (Isis): This type of character is concerned about the plight of women and all living things. She wants to help others grow spiritually, find their path, be healed in body and soul. She fears being persecuted or misunderstood. She’s motivated by a sense of purpose, and in extreme, she’s dogmatic and unbendable, heartless at times, pushes others and punishes them.

8) The Maiden (Persephone): This type of woman cares about fun, not worrying about daily affairs. She feels carefree and invulnerable to trouble, and her self-confidence rubs off on others. She’s the party girl, regardless of her age, and hasn’t grown up. But she can have a big heart and helps others. She’s your BFF that stands by your side. She likes to meet new people and she takes care of her mother. She fears being trapped in a job or relationship, and she doesn’t want to appear naïve. She’s motivated by a need for safety and being different, and in the extreme, she might oppose authority (rebellious teen), get depressed, act out with bad behavior, and can’t seem to love anyone.

A Seducer might charm people to get her way. She might be a cool, calculating nemesis or a siren who entices.

The Amazon might be your boss, someone trying to climb the ladder, a confident and dynamic woman who seems to take charge and achieves big goals.

The Father’s Daughter might be a fun, loyal friend, team player, the one who sticks by your side and tells everyone else where they can go. She might be the girl next door or a coworker.

The Nurturer is ever the optimistic, telling you that you can do it. She might be the trend-setter, impulsive (let’s stop moping and go shopping!), and is often funny.

The Matriarch, controlled and clever, is analytical, detail-oriented, and often rigid in her manner and beliefs. She can be a know-it-all or a bookworm, a perfectionist that can drive you crazy.

The Mystic is sensitive and gentle. She might be that quiet, trusting, encouraging friend or someone who is just plain innocent and naïve.

The Female Messiah fights for your cause, meets her commitments. She is the stubborn sister or friend who is determined, quick-tempered, and says it like it is. She will tell you what you need to do in no uncertain terms.

The Maiden is the woman who brings peace and calm to a crazy situation. She is all about making peace, helping others get along. She inspires by her example of being capable, optimistic, and selfless. She might be a caregiver or a teacher.

Do any of these types sound like your characters? Can you find a place in your novel for a few of these female archetypes to make your story richer and push your conflict higher? Which type do you especially like?

A Look at 8 Key Male Archetypes for Your Novel

WritersWednesday

I found two awesome articles about Archetypes on C.S. Lakin’s blog and with her permission am sharing them for all you lovely people to see! Thank you so much C.S. for your insight and great resource! Here is the first article!

A Look at 8 Key Male Archetypes for Your Novel

While we don’t want to create cookie-cutter stereotyped characters, learning about archetypes can be tremendously helpful in character development. We’ve been talking about archetypes over the last week, so if you’ve missed some of these posts, start with this one.

The idea here is to find a type and go from there. Archetypes are all about personality and motivation, and by bringing in some of the traditional, established characteristics of specific archetypes, you can craft believable characters.

As I’ve mentioned in many posts, your novel or play or short story needs a cast of characters, unless your plot is about one person alone in the world (or some world).

These characters play various roles, and while the basic roles are ally, enemy(nemesis or antagonist), and lover, there is much more to consider than these general descriptions.

Some look at Greek gods as archetypes that can be utilized in character development, and if you modernize the qualities of these gods, you can see how you might transfer those over to your novel.

8 Basic Types for Male Characters

Let’s take a look at eight male character types, and as you read through them, think of how these types might possibly fit into your story. Don’t just pick a type because it’s interesting. Every character needs to serve the interests of your plot.

1) The Protector (Ares): He is all about being physical, spontaneous, impulsive. He will act first and think later. He wants to win, and he’s fiercely protective. He fears being constricted, bored, having to use his mind over body. He’s motivated by survival, and the extreme of this character can be violent, yearning to fight, with a poor self-image and bad temper.

2) The Businessman (Apollo): He is entrenched in his career, planning his life, competing, success. He fears failure in the workplace and getting too intimate. He keeps his emotional distance, afraid of rejection. He’s motivated by a need to succeed and a drive to compete. The extreme of this character tends to feel betrayed, wants revenge, is viciously competitive, and uses people.

3) The Recluse (Hades): The name tells all. He wants to be left alone, shuns others. He’s afraid of crowds, his emotions, of spinning out of control. His motivation springs from his need to understand himself and his world. In extreme, this type of man is antisocial, psychotic, terrified of rejection, intimidating, and shuns all affectionate relationships.

4) The Fool (Hermes): This character is a free spirit, seeking freedom, reckless adventures, often an eternal child (Puer Aeternas). He can also be very positive in his childlike, accepting ways. He fears losing his freedom, getting bored, being committed to relationships or deals. His motivation stems from the need to know and the desire to try everything. The extreme of this character is seen in the con man, one who hates authority, is self-absorbed, disregards law and propriety, lacks empathy.

5) The Lady’s Man (Dionysus): He’s all about sex, romance, flirting, pleasure. Physical satiation above all else. He fears losing appeal, losing his youth and virility, and avoids commitment or feeling trapped. He’s motivated by a deep need for love and acceptance, or a drive to win or seek fleeting pleasures to give him a sense of fulfillment. The extreme of this character can be possessive, abusive, disloyal, explosive.

6) The Messiah (Osiris): The male face of this archetype is all about being male, the power of the male personality, and the male psyche. He is concerned with healing the soul more than the body. He fears failure of his quest or purpose, being misunderstood or not taken seriously. He’s motivated by his desire to help others, sacrifice himself for the greater good. He’s driven by great purpose or vision and willing to battle whoever stands in his way. The extreme of this character is harshly critical of others who oppose his views, overly passionate so that he breaks others’ spirits and egos. He feels he is always right and all should believe the way he believes, and those who don’t, he punishes.

7) The Artist (Poseidon): He cares about his creativity, expressing his emotions. He worries what others think of him and wants to be treated fairly. He tries to appear he’s in control and is strong, though he often suffers self-doubt. He’s motivated by a drive to be admired, to be important, to stand out from the crowd. The extreme of this character is deceitful, manipulative, playing games with people’s hearts, reckless and angry, without boundaries and easily enraged. He’ll also hold a grudge forever.

8) The King (Zeus): He rules his kingdom—those in his life. He longs to be admired and in charge, respected, even worshipped. He wants to be the best of the best and pushes himself to get there. He fears competition—that someone will rise above him—someone younger, faster, stronger. He’s motivated by a strong need for approval and recognition and power. The extreme of this character is domineering, arrogant, oppressive, harsh, and often humiliates others.

Taking the Types a Step Further

What could you do with a Protector type? I mentioned last week how my hero in my new novel, Colorado Dream, is a perfect protector. He’s a kind of bad boy, walking on the wild side. This type might be very charismatic, volatile.

A Businessman type could be a leader of a bank, an Army platoon, a think tank. He might be a workaholic. He might be the guy who makes great decisions, motivates others, takes on responsibility.

The Recluse could be a troubled coworker. Or a serial killer. He might be the outcast in a classroom, tormented, brooding. A great “red herring” character who all tend to blame.

The Fool could also be a strong, quiet good friend who advises. Who’s faithful and supportive, doesn’t cause waves and is unassertive. He could be Mr. Nice Guy or the listening ear at work.

The Lady’s Man is a charmer, smooth talker. He might get so lost in his fantasies, his “real life” is falling apart. Some other possible characteristics are his flair for drama, his enthusiasm, ability to manipulate.

The Messiah might be a knowledgeable professor or scientist that has the answers. He might be a computer nerd who is neurotic about getting all the answers. He can be amazingly creative but stubborn and inflexible. He could be picky, hating change or anything that disrupts his life.

The Artist is the guy in the room who adds the spark. He’s adventurous, fun-loving, craving excitement, and can be wholly unreliable and foolhardy. You see in him the daredevil or the explorer. He can spur on your protagonist to make a scary choice, or he can be an antagonist that leads your hero into trouble.

The King might be your hero, idealistic, a champion, acting with honor. Or he might be your heroine’s love interest or a character who noble ideals and principles inspires your hero. He might be the avenger of wrongs or the knight in shining armor.

Supporting Friends

Other archetypal roles can be found in The Magi (the voice of wisdom, the one who helps empower your hero), the Mentor (who freely offers good advice and wants to come alongside your hero), and the Best Friend or Lover.

Think about all the male characters, major and minor, you have in your novel. See how these various traits might enrich them and create conflict. You might need to add a few more characters in there, to create a wider palette of character dynamics.

What archetype intrigues you the most? Which one best fits your primary male character in your story, and which particular characteristic do you like in him? (And can you sing the Underdog theme?)

Waiting out the Wall – Writers Wednesday

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Waiting Out the Wall

Many of you know that I am a prolific writer. I write daily, sometimes up to 10,000 words a day. I love writing and it loves me. Until, it doesn’t.

I’ve been writing for about six years. I wrote my first book Dead Awakenings at 150,000 words in 30 days. The next month I wrote another book, also at 150,000 words. The third month I wrote Reign of the Vampires at right around 120,000 words. It was amazing. Splendid. And I was on top of the world! I didn’t write any more books until two and a half years ago. In two and a half years I’ve written a dozen books and published ten of them so far. I was told volume was the name of the game. If I wanted to get my name out there I need to write and write and write some more. So I did.

Along the way I had a writer’s block. Nothing big, small ones. Cute little writer’s blocks that I want to name and put on my shelf. I’d take a week off and then be fine. I’d read a few tips here and there and bam! I was back in the game.

Until a month ago.

A month ago I had a major meltdown. A meltdown like none I’ve had in over eighteen years. It was bad. Really bad. And I finally asked myself. What the hell are you doing? Why are you doing all this? What is the goal? And that’s where it started. My first REAL Writer’s Block ever. A hairy ten foot spider of a writer’s block that I didn’t want to touch let alone put on a shelf and care for.

It was like being stranded in the middle of the ocean of words that wouldn’t come together and form beautiful prose anymore.

 

At first I remembered how comfortable I’d been just days before. Sailing on a cruise ship in this gigantic ocean of words. Partying with all my writer friends and chatting about my WIP, and characters, and putting beautiful words on pages. Only to wake up abandoned on a life raft with limited rations, not a soul in sight and words not only no longer in my mind, but no longer in the ocean that surrounded me either. Nothing. There was just… dark ominous water threatening to swallow me down.

So what did I do? I lay in the bottom of my boat till I hit shore and then I started reading articles about writer’s block and how to get rid of it. Try “What If” Questions. Try writing a character sheet. Move on to a different project. Write through it because the first draft will be crap anyway. But every single thing I read had a common theme: Keep Working.

Now I had friends. My wonderful writer friends whom I love and cherish and they said, “When I get blocked it’s because I deviate too much from my plot.” Well, that’s true, for them, but I’m not a heavy plotter. I can’t be. My characters freak out when I tell them what to do and then they throw a tantrum and stop talking to me. So, what’s a Plotzer type of girl to do when all the advice she’s being given makes her brain throb and the hamster on the wheel in her head pass out?

You stop. That’s right. You stop. Not an hour stop. Or a day stop. Or even a week stop. You take a full stop. A month. Two months. However long you and your body need. You don’t even try. Don’t open your word document and stare at it. Don’t read your Facebook feed full of what all your writer friends are working on. You don’t read books in your genre and analyze them. Don’t promote or market anything! You just stop. You pretend you aren’t an author. You do all those things that never get done because you write so much.

You do the laundry and cook real meals. You go to sleep early and sleep through the night. You go to the store or the mall and walk around and enjoy just being there. You take your kids to violin and parkour and fencing and dance and you don’t take your computer so you can write while you wait. You binge watch every show you haven’t seen in over a year. You talk to friends that aren’t writers and go to lunch with them to hear about normal people. You clean your house and organize the spare bedroom and take the time to be a regular person again.

Yes, it’s true that for the first few days your writer’s brain will fight this change. Tell you that you need to write. You have crap to get done. Ignore it. Drown it out with doing those other things that help you remember who you are. Within a week or so you’ll find that everything inside quiets down and you’ll start to breathe again. You might get an idea or two in this time. Jot them down but nothing more. Don’t write. Don’t plot. Just make a note so you have it for later.

Then, when you’re in those quiet moments, you think about what the heck started it all. Were you pressuring yourself to get it done? Were you pressuring yourself that it wasn’t good enough? Were you too focused on selling more than your friends? Were you upset that someone didn’t invite you to a party or that you got a 2 star review? Most likely you will find that what started it all was pressure. Stress will shut down your creativity faster than being run over by a truck. You can at least get some good sensory descriptions and plot ideas from being run over by a truck. But with stress, not so much.

Then when you’re ready, think about your characters a bit. Not a lot. Just a little. Think about where you left them and what they’re doing. Maybe pull out something you need to edit and edit it. Slow. No pressure to be amazing, just reliving it and making it better here and there. Pick up a book in genres you DO NOT write in. (That is key!!) For me it’s non-fiction. Read them. Learn from them. Have fun with them. Maybe write a blog post. Or an article for a newsletter. Try your had at a short story. Very short. Two thousand words or less. Again, the name of the game is No Pressure. Something light and fun just to see where it goes. Do a daily writing prompt and turn it into a thousand word flash fiction for your blog. No commitment. You are a free agent here!

And then when you think you’re ready to start writing again, to dive back into that monster of a novel you’re writing, Don’t. Don’t do it. You aren’t ready.

Take a few more days. Do more things. Go to a play or your son’s soccer game. Make cookies for your neighbors. And just take time to remember who you were before you started calling yourself an author. Let yourself be.

I know you’re asking, okay, so when do I start writing again? The answer is, when holding back will kill you. When that feeling that if you don’t get the screaming characters in your head to shut up that you might put an icepick through your temple. That’s when you write. When the need is so overwhelming that you can no longer hold back that sea of words that has finally come back to you and is ready to help you back onto your cruise ship. That’s when you begin again.

But what if you can’t wait it out? What if you’re on a deadline? Then what do you do? You take as much time as you can and then you start slowly. Do the small things above. Think of your characters in your book. Do character sheets and maybe go on Pinterest and look for inspiration. Make a board for your characters. Do a small writing prompt and pop your characters into it. It doesn’t have to be a scene you will use in your book, but it can be a scene you could use as promo or a freebie in your newsletter. Ultimately, if you are on a deadline you can’t wait forever and sometimes what you’ll need to do most after taking your break is forcing yourself to sit down and write again. After you’ve taken sufficient time out, you need to recommit and dedicate yourself to your writing again. Go back and read the last book in the series. Re-read the chapters you’ve already written. Remind yourself why you loved these characters so much.

But first, give yourself time to heal and to be. And when you are ready, go into it for the love of writing. The love of wanting to just write and create and have fun. For you. Not to get a contract or an agent. Not to fulfill a contract in place or to submit to an anthology. Not to make a million dollars.

Write because if you don’t, your characters will murder you in your sleep.

Rebekah R. Ganiere – Books with a Bite

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Is Research Necessary? – Writers Wednesday

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Is Research Necessary?

Welcome to Writers Wednesday!

When I think of doing research the first thing that springs to mind is a historical novel. But I have learn in writing a dystopian series as well as sci-fi that research can be necessary for just about anything you write.

You hear people say all the time, “write what you know.” But what if you want to write about a sword wielding vampire? Are you a sword wielding vampire? Maybe, but probably not. So how do you write about them?

Or how about the fact that you live in Massachusetts and you want to write about Montana, but you’ve never even been to Montana. How do you do that? Or what if you want to write about a Hollywood Starlet or BDSM or Norse Gods?

The answer is simple. Research.

You have to do research in just about every book you write, unless you are writing exactly what you know. I live in California and even I had to do a few minutes of research when I wanted my characters to meet in downtown Los Angeles. I drive to downtown on a weekly basis. But I don’t drive from the 10 to Hollywood Blvd in rush hour all the time. So I had to research how long that would take. Research is inherent to your writing unless you are making everything up yourself.

So if you are going to research where do you start? How far do you go? How much do you use? When do you stop?

Well, how do you know if you need to research? If you don’t know something, you need to research it. That is, if you want to be accurate. If you don’t know the name of the Chinese dynasty from the third century, find out. If you don’t know the proper street names of the business district in Chicago, research it. If you don’t know the difference between a parry and a thrust in a sword fight, find out.

Yes, there are times you can try to fudge it, but unless you are creating your own world then I don’t recommend it. And you can never fudge it in a historical. They will crucify you. Same with science in a hard core Sci-Fi novel. Don’t even try.

So, now we know we need to research, the question is: Where do we go for the info? Yes, the internet is certainly easy to access and there are thousands of websites to choose from, but you need to vet your sources to make sure they are correct. Just because you google it doesn’t mean it’s true.

When I wanted to incorporate Tesla into one of my stories I first read about him on the internet. Then I went to the library and checked out half a dozen books on him. A library is a great place to get information. Google professors who know about what you are looking up and ask them. Ask on your RWA boards for help. There are dozens of places you can go for help if you just look.

But you need to be careful. I know many authors who research for years and never get their novel finished because of it. Sometimes it is hard to remember that research is there to help you with your novel. Not to become your primary focus.

Lastly, how much do you use in your novel? That’s up to you but I would say for all of the research you do you probably won’t use a tenth of it. And that’s okay. It’s you as an author who needs to know it.

For me, I need to know how to swordplay for my Fairelle series. I have done extensive research on weapons and fencing and battles and injuries and armor. Now you won’t learn about the armor my hero puts on, or how he ties every tie or the buckles he can’t reach that his manservant has to help him with. But you will read my fight scenes and see how realistic they are. You’ll read about the swords they use and not think, “There’s no way she could lift that.” When my guys get injured, it’s realistic. All because of my research. You won’t know why it’s so real, you’ll just know that it isn’t fake.

And that’s what we are going for as a writer and why we do our research. To suspend disbelief in our readers. Anything less with pull them out of the story and possibly write a scathing review about how poorly it was written.

Personally, research is not my favorite thing to do, but I do it to be better. I do it to write better and I do it for my characters. Because in the end, they will kick my butt if I make them look bad.

So tell me some of the most fun things you’ve ever researched for a book? This last week I researched baby names meaning: Devil, Demon, Malevolent, Poisonous, Evil.

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly, It’s Contest Season – Writers Wednesday

WritersWednesday

Welcome back to Writers Wednesday! You know I started out not caring for blogging but over the last few months as I have started publishing the Writers Wednesday posts, I’ve really found that I enjoy talking about writing a bit. So I hope you are getting something out of my posts as much as I am enjoying writing them.

Well this week I want to talk about contests. As I worked on my last newsletter as the Editor of the Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal Chapter of RWA I went and looked up on RWA’s website for contests to list and found tons. Tons of contests being offered from cheap to expensive. Probably over thirty to forty contests being offered between now and the end of March. And those are just RWA contests.

Magic book

So when you’re looking at and thinking about contests, what should you look for and why should you do it and what should you be wary of? There are many factors that go into entering a contest and with so many choices there are some things to think about before you put money out there for them.

You enter because you want constructive feedback from industry professionals about your work. This is a good thing! If you make it to the final round agents and editors will most likely be the judge and even if you don’t win you could make some good connections or you could get some great feedback on how to make your book stronger.

  • You enter because you want someone to edit your book for you for free. This is not good. No one will edit your book. They may give you a few things to work on, but they won’t edit it. And most contests only read the first 10-30 pages anyway.
  • You enter so you can impress people with your win and get attention. Again, not a great reason. When agents and editors look at your wins they want to know what contest you won. If you win the Rita, or the Golden Heart, they will take a serious look at you. If you win the Idaho Sweet Potato Jingle award, not so much.
  • Maybe you have been dying to have an agent or editor look at your book and you can’t get their attention but they are one of the finalist judges. That’s a good way to go to get their input before you query.

When looking for a contest to enter there are also things you should look out for because there are a lot of companies out there just looking to make some money and they aren’t looking to help you as an author.

  • Did they solicit you? Run the other way. Companies that come to you and ask you to enter are looking to take your money, hands down.
  • Do they cost more than 50.00 to enter? Run away. Some contests cost 100.00 or more to enter. That’s just ridiculous. They are trying to make money off you. It’s a rip off. Also if they give you a bulk discount if you enter more than one book, also a scam.
  • How man categories do they have? If they are judging more genres than Amazon has, then it’s a scam. Good contests will have a limit to their genres and they will focus around a certain criteria. Maybe the first kissing scene. Maybe the opening of the book. Maybe the introduction to your hero. Or maybe the book as a whole. Good contests are focused.
  • If they won’t tell you who the judges are or their judges aren’t professionals in the industry, I wouldn’t recommend it. Anyone can call themselves a judge, but just like speakers at conferences, what makes them qualified? Make sure the company that is putting on the contest is disclosing all information. They should have the judges lines up for the final round and you should be able to look up those judges to make sure they are reputable.
  • How do you win the contest? Do you get as many of your friends and family to vote for you as possible or are you actually judged by people who read your work and do not know you. There are lots of popularity contests, and that’s fine, but just know what they are. They are different than actual judged contests.
  • What do you get if you win? A trophy? Money? A certificate? Nothing? Reputable contests will give you something if you win. If they don’t, again, beware.

So, should you enter contests? It depends. But one thing you need to keep in mind is, no matter how good or reputable the contest is, you are going to get varying opinions on your work. You will get initial round of 3 judges who will tell you what they think about your work. Sometimes they will say the same thing, sometimes they will say completely different things. Then you will get two or three final round judges who will do the same thing. One may love it, two may not. It just depends. And you have to decide, just like a writer’s group or critique partners, if you agree with what is said, or if you think it is just one person’s opinion and nothing more. Contests are a great way to get feedback. They are also a great way to confuse the heck out of you if you don’t know how to interpret what they are telling you.

But I caution you. 30.00 + 20.00 + 40.00 + 25.00 adds up fast! So be careful of how much you are spending and what you are getting for the money. Contests can also become addictive. If you start winning then you enter everything to try and collect as many wins as you can and you never actually do anything with the book that’s not a good thing. The object of writing a book is to get it out there. There are plenty of contests that can be entered with already published works. Plus all the time you spend searching out and applying for contests is time taken away from actual writing. And you want to limit that as much as possible.

Lastly, be aware of the rules of contests. Some are for published, some unpublished. Some you can publish your book but not until the end of the contest. Some you can publish but not before the final round starts. They all have formatting they require. They all have rules on when, how and who to send to. Make sure you follow those rules to the letter because a lot of contests will disqualify you and not refund you money if you do it wrong.

So, have you entered any contests? What did you think?

Rebekah R. Ganiere – Books with a Bite

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5 Things to do Before Your Book Publishes! – Writers Wednesday

WritersWednesday

5 Things to do Before Your Book Publishes!

Welcome to the Fourth part of my series on Self publishing.If you missed the first blog post in this series you can find it HERE,
The Second is HERE, The Third is HERE.

So we discussed a few things to look out for when self publishing. And five things you need to do for yourself as an author before publishing. Now I’m going to tell you Five Things your book needs before you publish it.

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1)A Newsletter – A newsletter list is your best friend. The people on it WANT to hear what you are saying and doing. Unlike paid ads where you never know what you are going to get, these people went through the trouble of signing up. There’s a reason and those contacts are invaluable! When you set up a newsletter give people something free. A short story or article or something to help them get to know you and your writing style and to get them hooked. Then send one out every month to two months. Any longer and people might forget they signed up.

2)A Media Kit – Media kits for you and your books are also a must have. They make life so much easier when it’s time to send things out for promo. In your media kit, if it’s about you have your bio, headshot and accomplishments as well as a possible writing sample as be sure to include all your social media links for people to contact you at. If it’s for a book have the cover, ISBN, length and genre of book, links, expert (both long and short), blurb, your bio and headshot. Also include teaser graphics for them to put up. Put it all in a word doc and pdf. You never know which people will want.

3)ARCs – Get them out there! You need people to review your book. In the first week of release you need 15-20 reviews. It will help push your book up through the ranks. Ask bloggers, friends, street team members, reviewers to read and review your book. You will need to have it in different formats for people who read on kindle or nook. Instafreebie is a great website to use for this because people have to add their information to get a free copy. This is great for avoiding pirating and to get contact information to add to your newsletter.

4)Street Team – You need one. A street team is a dedicated group of followers that love your work and want to help spread the word about it. Start gathering street team members early so you can have people help you with promoting your book. Provide them with ARCs and teasers and links and ask them to post them on Facebook groups and pages.

5)Ads and Marketing – You need to market. Why? Because if you don’t no one will. There are lots of free promo sites out there that will blast out your book if it’s free or .99 for the first week. Find them. Use them. If you are going to spend money on ads and marketing, do your research and make sure that you are using people and places that will actually help you grow your fan base and sell books. Do NOT spend 2 weeks straight blasting on your Facebook page that you are SELLING A BOOK! Or on Twitter. People will Not appreciate it. Yes, find Facebook groups to promo in. Yes, you can even buy Facebook ads. But be knowledgeable about who you are using. Some blog tour companies are amazing and will work hard for you, others will take your money. Be sure to get referrals and use them.

Marketing your book should start 3-6 months before release. Cover releases, excerpts, extra tidbits and information, deleted scenes and teasers. All of them can be used to help get the word out there about your book. But it must be done in advance. If you wait till it’s released, your’e already doomed.

So what do you think? What are some things that you have done before release that I didn’t mention?

Rebekah R. Ganiere – Book with a Bite

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5 Things I Learned about Self Publishing the Hard Way – Writers Wednesday

WritersWednesday

5 Things I Learned about Self Publishing the Hard Way!

This is the third in my series on Self Publishing. If you missed the first blog post in this series you can find it HERE! And the Second is HERE!

So this week I want to give you a few tips on things that I learned the hard way when I started self publishing.

I started out 2 years ago with a small indie publisher with my book Dead Awakenings and then moved on and sold my series The Society, to Kensington. But soon realized that the only way for me to release 3 or more books a year in a series was for me to publish them myself.

My series, Fairelle is slated to be 8 books and a handful of novellas with possibly a short story or two as well. If I went to a traditional publisher I’d be writing that series for ten years or more; and with over fifty book ideas in my brain, I couldn’t wait that long.

So, I started reading what I could find on self publishing and what I needed to know and I became a wealth of information. Even so, with all the information out there, there were a few things that no one talked about that I think need to be. Things that can kill you if you don’t do them, or can at least take you a lot of time.

overwhelmed man asking for help

1) Editing is going to take you ten times as long as writing.

If you are going to self publish you need a professional editor, at least two critique partners that are great and a handful of beta readers. It isn’t enough to edit yourself or have your mom edit for you, unless she is an amazing published author. You need a professional editor to look at your work with an objective eye and tell you what is wrong with it, even though you may not like it. But before you do that though, you need to edit the book at least a couple times yourself and then have two amazing critique partners look at it for you. People you trust who have been published. Then after they’ve edited it, you need to edit it at least one or two times more. I tend to edit my self published works a minimum of seven times. Then you need beta readers who will go through it with a fine toothed comb and find all the mistakes grammatically and typos. This can take anywhere from two to four months. Possibly more. Do not skimp out on this or you’ll pay for it in reviews. Don’t go into this thinking that you’ll be in and out in two months. There is a reason that publishing usually takes six months. So be sure to have many stories to work on so you are consistently rolling them out several times a year.

Freaked out business woman with a hammer ready to smash her laptop computer

2) Format only if you REALLY know how!

Do you have Scrivener? No? Then pay someone to format your book for you. Seriously. I mean it. I am not joking! Formatting your book can take a lot of time if you don’t know how. And I mean, REALLY know how. You are better to pay 25.00 to Marie Force’s Formatting Fairies (No I am no affiliated with them at all) to format the darn thing for you.

However, if you have Scrivener, it’s super easy. So, get Scrivener. And then go on youtube and watch a few videos and you’ll be set. I used to pay Marie Force. Then I got Scrivener and now I do it myself because Scrivener makes it so easy. But before I did, I spent two months trying to format my first book. And in the end, I paid Marie.

Business concept Red life buoy with hands in the water High resolution

3) Using Draft 2 Digital is a lifesaver in the beginning!

(Again, I’m not affiliated with them)

So again, you can upload your book yourself to Amazon, BN, Itunes, Kobo, ARE and every other outlet on the planet and it might take you a month to do it all. Why? Because each system is different and each system has different errors and each system wants you to upload something in a different format, size, style, but really? Why bother?

You can upload to D2D and they take a small percentage and then click all the outlets (except ARE) and Bam! You’re done! They take care of everything. You don’t have to worry about if payments came in for this outlet or that outlet. You don’t have to fill out a million tax forms. If you want to lower a price you do it in one place, not every one individually. Yes, you could use Smashwords instead of D2D, but Smashwords and I have a hate/hate relationship. I never once got my books to go through their system correctly even when paying a professional and I find their customer service to be non-existent!

So for the beginning, starting out, I suggest you use a service like D2D and save yourself a lot of time. I still make more with them taking out their percentages than I do on Amazon, by far.

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4) It’s all up to you!

That is the good and the bad of it. You can set your own price. When you release. How long the book is. What you put in it. How you market it. It’s all your choice. But ultimately, it’s all on your shoulders as well.

Do you know what to price it at? Have you studied to see what price point is selling best? Do you know which months are the worst for a release? The best? Do you know the typical word count for your genre or what people expect from certain genres? Do you know bloggers? Or Marketers? Where to market and spend your money? Do you know what keywords to use? All of that can be a big burden and you need to learn it before you release, not after.

5) A Million people are doing it. Do you stand out?

I wish someone had told me how hard it was to stand out in a marketplace where there are over a million books a year being self published. The good, the bad, the ugly, it doesn’t matter. When you are self publishing you are competing not only against the other self pubs but the traditionals as well that are getting a lot more marketing dollars than you are. You have to find your niche what makes you stand apart and use it. I’m teaching three classes at Savvy this next year about these very things.

Self publishing can be fun and tremendously rewarding. But you have to go into it with your eyes open, otherwise you will drown. Best of luck! Feel free to ask any questions you might have!

Rebekah R. Ganiere – Books with a Bite

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3 Things to Ask Yourself Before Self Publishing – Writers Wednesday

WritersWednesday

3 Things to Ask Yourself Before Self Publishing

Welcome to the first in a series of self publishing posts. Millions of people have flocked to the self publishing boom, which has led to both wonderful and tragic results. Thousands of people jumped on the band wagon of self publishing, followed the trends and flooded the market with stories both long and short in an effort to either jump start a career or make a few easy bucks. But then there are others who genuinely wanted to self publish for their own reasons. Whether it be the flexibility, total control or because of backlist sitting and collecting dust.

When I started writing my only desire was to jot down the stories in my head and maybe print a couple copies to sit on my shelf. Nothing more. However, after my critique group read my first book, Dead Awakenings, and told me that I needed to publish it I got the idea that maybe publishing with a big publisher might be nice. So I pursued a traditional publisher and sold.

After that I sold my series, The Society, to Kensington and I realized something. For all of the wonderful things that traditional publishers could offer me, one thing that couldn’t be offered was more than one, or max two, books being released in a year.

My fairytale retelling series, Fairelle, was due to have nine books and seven novellas and I knew I didn’t want to be writing that series for eight years. With over sixty book ideas in my head at present I needed to be putting out at least three books a year in that series for my own sanity. So I decided to self publish.

Self publishing is a personal decision and different for everyone, but there are several things you should ask yourself before you self publish.

1) Am I ready to do everything it takes? The marketing, formatting, writing, editing, uploading, taxes, ARCs, barcodes, ISBN’s, etc.

You have to be both author and publisher. It becomes a real business when you decide to self publish. Your business.

You wouldn’t open a retail business without expertise or having employees lined up with expertise. You wouldn’t open the doors to said store without having ever taken a business class or knowing your market. Becoming your own publisher is a business. It’s a full time job and needs to have all of its facets looked at before dive in. So do your research and get your ducks in a row first.

2) Am I only doing this because I keep being rejected or because it’s what I really want?

If you are being rejected over and over have you looked at why? Is it because you don’t fit into a genre or is it because your story, plot or characters need work? Any weaknesses your book has will not go away simply because you self publish.

Lots of people self publish for great reasons. Lack of being picked up because of story issues isn’t always a great one. It’s true that sometimes your story just doesn’t fit into the small box that traditional publishing is looking for. But you need to make sure that it isn’t because of other problems. Those problems will do nothing more than lead to bad reviews and poor sales.

3) Do I have the time and money involved in do it all myself and doing it right?

Editors cost money. Good cover art costs money. Ads and marketing all costs money. ISBN’s, proofreading, formatting, and and and… On average it costs me up to a thousand dollars to publish one of my books. You need to plan on at least half that to publish right.

And if you plan on doing it all yourself (see above comment about expertise) to save money, how much time will it take you to do all of that yourself? Hours, Days, Months. It takes a lot.

So before you decide to self publish, ask yourself why you want to and if you have what it takes to get it done. If so, it can be one of the best experiences you will ever have. If not it can leave you bitterly disappointed.

Rebekah R. Ganiere – Books with a Bite

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New Year New Goals – Writers Wednesday

WritersWednesdayNew Year New Goals

by Rebekah R. Ganiere

This last year was an interesting one for me. I published more, wrote more and crashed more than ever before.

For years I’ve told myself I would cut back on writing, spend more time with my kids, clean my house, organize my life, and be a more well rounded person. And every year I have not done it. But this year when I hit a writer’s block big enough to trap King Kong I knew I needed to do something different. Now, I’ve never really been a goal person myself, but I finally said it was time to get my crap together and try to organize my life. But where to start?

Goals are different from resolutions. Resolutions are things you tell your friends you are going to do and then you give up within the first month.

Goals are detailed, they are thought out and written down. And here are a few ways I found help with both goal setting and goal achieving.

 

  • Look Back – The first thing you want to do is look back at all you accomplished over the last year. See where you excelled, see where you might have fallen short, and find out where you didn’t even try at all. Now ask yourself, of the things you have to show for your last year, are you happy with them? Are they what you wanted to do? Is there something else that you could be doing that would make you happier? Once you’ve taken a look at where you were and what you got done, you can start to form a picture of where you want to go and where you want to be a year from now, five years, ten years, and work backwards. What are the things you need to work on daily to reach those goals?

 

  • Be Realistic – So you looked back at your last year and found that you wrote five books and this year you want to write thirty. You didn’t exercise the entire year and single handedly kept fast food chains in business. Now you want to exercise every day for an hour and only eat salads during the week. These goals, while admirable, are probably a bit far reaching right now. Be realistic with your goals. Realistic, smaller, simpler goals are ones you are going to reach. And once you achieve them you’ll be so proud of yourself you’ll set more and before you know it you’ve reached big goals.

 

You wrote five books last year? Great. Try for six this year. Or don’t try for books try for words per day. Didn’t exercise? Okay, make a goal to exercise and start small. Five minutes a day three days a week. Then every week add an additional two minutes per session until you’re satisfied. Being realistic goes a long way to achieving success.

 

  • Break it Down – Goals can sometimes be overwhelming and daunting when looking up the giant rocky mountain that you have to climb to reach them. So break them down into small manageable chunks. You want to write a book? Well, you have to start by writing. Set a goal to write a thousand words a day. Or thirty minutes a day. Then do it. Every day. If you write a thousand words a day and you only work on weekdays, in ten weeks you would have a 50,000 word novel. Not bad. If you want to get a bigger newsletter following, do something every day to put it out there and get more sign ups. It doesn’t have to take a ton of time, small things add up. Every step gets you closer to the peak of your goal mountain. If you want to build a bigger writing community, spend a few minutes a day reaching out to authors you want to get to know better and say hi. Ask a question. Introduce yourself. You can’t eat a whale in one sitting, but if you stay in your seat and chew a little bit every day, you’ll finish it eventually. Goals are for the long haul, not short term. Break it down and stick with it.

 

  • Make it a Priority – Make it a priority and make sure you do it everyday. For me when I commit to change something in my life I have to do it at the same time every day to make it a habit. After a month it’s a habit and then you won’t even have to think about it or force yourself to do it, it will be automatic and you can then see your goal getting closer and closer. You accomplish those things in your life that you value most. If you value social media most, that’s where you spend your time. If you value writing most, you write every day. If you value a clean house above all else, you make sure it’s clean. Figure out what means the most to you and then either follow that or adjust your thinking so you can accomplish what matters most to you in your life. Look at the people you want to be most like and think about what habits they’ve given themselves to help them get where they are.

 

  • Don’t Give Up! – A simple concept right? Not as much as you’d think. There will be days, weeks, maybe even a month or more where you do not do one single thing toward achieving your goals. You may forget to water your goals like a forgotten fern in the corner and by the time you get back to it it’s a pile of brown ash. But you know what? That’s okay. It happens to all of us. Remember the King Kong writer’s block I mentioned? I didn’t write for two months this last year. I almost died at the end of it. I looked back and berated myself for not writing. Told myself how dumb I’d been and how far behind I was now in my writing. For weeks I stressed myself out and made everything worse. Finally I realized it didn’t matter. So what? What was the big deal? I stopped for two months. I have over forty years left to write books, in the huge picture of my life two months was nothing. Once I stopped looking at it as me being behind I was able to move past the block and finish up three projects that had been waiting for me to finish, and you know what? I mapped out my writing goals for this year and found I was actually ahead of the game because I’d finish those projects before the first of the year!

 

You have to set goals if you want to get things accomplished in life. From a To Do list of day to day tasks to a bigger goals that are five and ten years away. Write your goals down. Talk about them with a spouse or friend. Check in with that person or with yourself. Be accountable. Post them somewhere in your house where you will see them daily. Bathroom mirror, fridge, night stand. Put them in planner and look at them every day. I use Franklin Covey online.

If you stumble and fall, or just take a long winter’s nap, get back up and start again. Everyone stumbles or falls asleep, it’s those who keep trying that end up winning.

I found this cool goal setting pdf online that might help you get started figuring out your goals for this year. http://www.thepassion.co/reflect2016#introducing-reflect

So, what are your goals this year?

Rebekah R. Ganiere – Books with a Bite

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Writing Love for the Holidays – Part Two – Writers Wednesday

Writing Love for the Holidays
Part Two

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Hello Everyone! Thank you for joining me again for writing Holiday Romances. This is part two. If you missed part one, you can find it HERE.

So in part one we talked about using the five senses to convey the holiday season. But there is more to Holiday stories than just being around the holidays and setting the mood. You need to have themes and characters in your book that are affected by the holiday season.

Your characters need to affected by the season. They love that time of year or they hate it. They’re lonely and missing their family because they are working, or maybe they’re on their way to see their family. Or maybe they don’t want to be anywhere near their family this year and they’re headed to Hawaii! No matter what you choose, the holidays have to have something to with the character. For good or for bad.

The holidays need to bring the hero and heroine together. Maybe they meet in the airport or they are both reaching for the last bottle of wine. Maybe they’ve both gotten snowed in a ski lodge and people are being murdered. Whatever the reason, again. The holidays need to play a part in why the hero and heroine find each other.

If you decide on a theme for your book, or a message you want to share, it too needs to focus around the holidays. The stories can start around November 1st when Christmas decorations start taking over all the stores. And they usually end by Christmas or New Years. (If you are going for a winter holiday story and not a Valentines or St. Patrick’s Day or something else.) There are so many themes for holiday romances.

Themes & Plots:
1) It’s all about commercialism. It doesn’t really mean anything to people anymore.
2) Girl doesn’t want to celebrate because something bad happened before around the holidays.
3) Boy goes home for the holidays and runs into the love of his life that he left and they never stopped loving each other.
4) Boy and girl get trapped in an airport, or bus station, or hotel with only one room left or only one rental car.
5) A woman is traveling and finds the love of her life.
6) A man loves his riches more than relations until a woman shows him the error of his ways.
7) A poor woman with very little is happy with what she has and meets a man with lots of money who is unhappy.
8) The son of Santa has to find a wife.
9) A girl is going home for Hanukkah and she said she was engaged and gets someone to pose as her fiance.
10) A little boy wishes for a mom for the New Year.

All of those have been done, but they can also be made fresh and new. They all revolve around the holidays and bring it further into the stories than just the setting.

There are all kinds of fun characters we can write into holiday stories too that help set up the season. The Yenta mom who wants her son to get married to a nice Orthodox girl more than anything. The child who only wants for her Mom to find happiness. The crazy great aunt who knits sweaters for everyone. The boss who doesn’t care about holidays and thinks they are a waste. The mysterious stranger who seems to show up with help when needed. The old man with the beard who thinks he really is Santa. Yes, some of those are cliche, I get it. But you get the point. There are people who can help add to your setting and plot as well.

Lastly, when you write a Holiday Romance you need to be aware that the calls for them come out sometimes a year in advance. In February or July they can be looking for stories to come out the following year. It’s sometimes difficult to get in the holiday spirit around that time of year. Especially if you are like me and you live in Sunny Southern California. So do what I do. Find some holiday scented candles. Pine, Cinnamon, Apple Pie and light them. Turn on some holiday music. Put up some decorations, especially lights. Watch holiday movies. Drink hot cocoa or hot apple cider and eat some pie while sitting in front of your fireplace. All of these warm cozy things will engage your senses and bring you back to that place where you feel your Holiday spirit the most.

I hope this has been a bit helpful for you and that you are already brimming with ideas for your next Holiday Romance. Drop me a line when you finish and let me know!

At christmas

Rebekah R. Ganiere – Books with a Bite

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