Tag Archives: novel

Ten Tips for Writing (and Finishing) Your Book

shutterstock_235976374Last week, I received a comment interested in getting some writing tips from me. I wrote a few posts like this in the past, but haven’t made one in a while, for whatever reason. I’ve thought about writing a book on writing, but yet there are already so many, and I don’t have many great successes to boast, so I haven’t moved forward with that. I’m completely self-taught (other than any English skills I may have learned) but as far as creative writing, that’s all me. I’ve just developed a feel for it and I’ve looked at what others have done and learned from that.

Since I find myself needing to reconnect with some of this myself, I started thinking about what works for me and how I finish my own books. This is what I came up with.

Ten Tips for Writing (and Finishing) Your Book

1.) Know where your story is going – Even if you are a spontaneous kind of writer in some respects, you should at least know some things about your book. What’s the main thing you want to accomplish by writing your book? What makes you excited about your story? Focus on that. Is the romance the main aspect even though it has a fantasy theme? Stick to the romance and let it carry you through. Is there a major conflict that needs to be resolved? Know what you’re writing toward. For me, I need to know that I’m writing toward something that needs to be resolved: a mystery that I need to reveal, a romance that needs to come to fruition, or a conflict that greatly needs a resolution. Find the point you’re working toward and go for it. I usually find that the rest will fill itself in.

2.) Love your idea. – If you don’t love your idea – and I mean LOVE it – then you probably aren’t going to finish it. Think about it for a few days before you decide to write it. Try to figure out if it’s really something that you’re excited about or that you’re going to finish. If not, save the idea for later. You may be able to use it again for something else! I do this all the time. I have ideas that I think are swell but I don’t know how to make it work as a stand-alone story. What do I do? I write it down , and I might find a way to use it along with another idea I have later. I truly believe that some ideas can bloom, but we’re just not ready to write them yet. Either we don’t have the skill to figure out how to make it work (happens to me often) or the idea is just not solid yet (happens to me alllll the time).

Example, late last year I was excited about writing a weird western, but when I sat down to write it, I wasn’t happy with how it was going. I think it just wasn’t the right time, and I’m okay with that. Eventually, the time will be right.The idea is still there.

If you find yourself in this position, just go back to the drawing board and search for something that gives you a true feeling of love.

3.) Keep inspiration close at hand – This can mean many things. Have a ritual if you need one. Wear a decorative pair of open-finger gloves. Always have a cup of coffee in a mug that says #1 Writer, or whatever. Do what you have to do. For example, when I was writing Nevermor, I had this cheap little plastic ball that was filled with water and glitter, and when I wasn’t busy typing, I would sit there and throw it up in the air, or just shake it up and watch the glitter inside it. It sounds like a waste of time, but you have to do what you have to do! I’ve done things like that in the past, but it usually varies from one book to the next. There are, however, a few things that I always do.

One thing I always do when I’m working on something is find some music that inspires me to think. I listen to it often and just zone out while listening. I’ll clean up, exercise, listen to it while I commute, and use it as the soundtrack for whatever I’m working on. While I’m listening, I’m watching my characters. I may not always hear what they’re saying, but I see what’s going on. I develop a vision and then I put that vision to words, like watching a music video. Sometimes the words of the songs come through to me and that gives me an idea as well. I usually choose my songs based on the sound of the music, and then the words come through. I even choose songs that I don’t really know as long as the sound seems right, and then I connect with something new. (Spotify is really good for building playlists.)

Another good thing to do is search for character/setting inspiration online. Spend some time looking at pictures. Choose an actor to represent your character. This usually works pretty well for me. Assigning a face helps me to visualize everything a bit better, and looking at art gives me some nice ideas for visualization while my characters are moving around in my head.

4.) Take time to think. This is the part that has been getting me down lately. It’s not that I don’t have time to write, it’s that I don’t take the time to think about what I want to write. What I mean by that is that I get so distracted by so many other things. It’s not just work or real world stuff; it’s even what I do for entertainment. If you are constantly letting other people entertain you (with their books, their movies, and their games) how are you supposed to have your own ideas? Not that you can’t do those things too – inspiration can come from anywhere and that’s very important – but take some time to meditate on your own ideas. It’s not about just taking time to write or making a schedule or trying to write everyday. Choosing to sit down at your computer for an hour does not equal writing time. Trust me. Even if I start out with a word document, sometimes I’ll just stop and pull up Facebook, or the game I’m currently playing, or I think I’m going to watch Youtube while I write. No. No, it just doesn’t work. Unplug if you have to – like I’ve begun to do. Find a connection with your project that makes you want to write, not just for an hour a day, but ALL day.

5.) Read something that inspires you – Do you remember the last book that you read and loved? Or do you have a favorite author whose words are phenomenal? You think: “I wish I could write like that or create something like that.” Read a paragraph from their book. Read the first page and REALLY read it. Look at how the words carry you away and then look at what words and sentences are actually being used. Think about what the author did in a technical way. Sometimes, when I can’t find inspiration, I’ll grab one of those books off my shelf – one that I know I loved and enjoyed – and I’ll open it up (sometimes to the first page and sometimes to a random spot in the middle) and I’ll read a few paragraphs. I’ll then think about what I just read and compare it to what I’m writing. If you’ll do this, you’ll probably find the same thing that I usually do – you’re doing fine and they’re just words after all. There is nothing magical about them, and they are probably just like yours. If you find that they’re not, think about why. What is different? Think about those things and learn from them.

6.) Edit as you need to, but remember that you can fix it later – Some tipsters might tell you to ‘save the editing for later’ and to ‘just get the words on the page’, but my advice is a little different. Here’s the thing: I read the beginning of my book more often than anything. If my first few paragraphs are crap, I get really annoyed. So, I’ll often spend a lot of time polishing the first bit of my book, just so that when I read it again later, it inspires me all over again. This assures me that the whole project is not garbage. If you need to do that for every chapter that you finish to make yourself feel good about going forward, do it. Do what feels right to you. Sometimes, I still like the manuscript to have a bit of polish before I go forward. It helps me to really get in touch with the words and to remember what I was doing and what still needs to be done.

Don’t drive yourself crazy though. As you’re working on this, don’t forget that you can fix it. And you will. If you’re like me, you’ll never ever stop fixing it, and it will never be perfect even after you publish it. I have to make myself stop. If I don’t, it would go on forever because nothing is ever good enough unless I’m working on something else. Once the work is complete, you’ll be able to look at it as a whole and see it for what it is. Then you can alter it so it all goes together.

So in that respect, yes, just get the words on the page.

That said, if when you’re reading over your book and you run across a section that absolutely bores you to tears, you can’t be bothered to read it let alone edit it, then it might be a good idea to think about cutting it – or rewriting it. If you’re bored reading it, someone else might be too.

7.) Don’t be afraid to skip ahead – When I first started writing, like so many others, I would write in a straight line from one chapter to the next, mostly because I was posting online and I couldn’t go on to the next part until I had finished the one before it. I don’t write like that anymore. If I’m having trouble writing a section but I know what happens directly after it, then I’ll jump ahead to write the next section. Then I’ll take some time to think about it and come back later to work on the part that I was having trouble with. I usually just fill those spaces in later. If I still can’t fill in that spot, then I need to go back to number 4 and take some time to think and visualize.

One reason this might not work is if you don’t know how to begin a story. That bothers me, personally. Like I mentioned above, when the beginning isn’t solid, it bugs me. It may not bother you that way. So, if you can deal with skipping the beginning, by all means, skip it and come back to it later.

8.) Change how/where you’re writing – In the past, I’ve had some of my best writing success by printing out what I had and sitting down with the printout and a notebook to add sections where needed and to edit. I would read over it and make it better as I went. Though that may be a waste of paper and computers are just so much faster for getting words on the page, sometimes it’s not as good, I feel. I think there’s a real difference when you put a lot of time and focus into something. So! If you sit down at the computer and you feel blank, grab a notebook. Type something up on your phone. Or maybe you need a change of scenery. Change the room you are writing in. Go outside. Go to a coffee shop (if that’s your thing). Figure out what works for you. Sometimes it really is as simple as that.

9.) Write a layout – Even if the layout is vague; even if you don’t have a full layout yet, make one. It will help you gather your ideas and remind you of what you know and what you don’t know yet. When you write one chapter, then you can look over and have a reminder of what you need to happen next in the story. It can change at any time, and when it does, alter the layout. This will help you keep it all together, and if there comes a time when you see the whole thing set out before you, Eureka!

Though I always have an idea of where my story is going, I like my story and characters to grow a bit as I progress. I don’t like the idea that everything has to be set in stone, because things change, and I enjoy it when that happens. Remember, your characters are not just words on paper – they are alive inside your mind. Get in touch with them.

Sometimes, your layout for a chapter might be one sentence. ‘Character A and Character B have a fight’. Oh…that isn’t very much detail. Well, if you can write yourself up to that chapter, chances are you’re going to have a better understanding of your characters and what is going on in the story in order to progress and get things done. By that, I mean set things up and reveal the information that your reader needs to know. ‘Character A finds out the big secret’. By this point, I hope you know what it is!

If all you know is the basic description of your story, write that down. Write character descriptions if you need to. Write about the world. Essentially, you’re writing about what you’re going to write, and that will help.

10.) Just write. Anyone who has ever written anything successfully is going to tell you this. But how?? How do you write when you can’t write?? I know, I know. I didn’t know how to take this one either until it actually happened to me, and then I finally understood. Here’s what you do. Don’t think about writing. Don’t think about what you’re going to build. Don’t think about who your characters are or what they’re doing. Just open up a fresh word doc, sit down and write the first sentence that comes to you. Look outside and write what you see, poetically or otherwise – whatever your style is. Write about what your cat is doing. Look up a writing prompt and try a short story. Write a piece of fanfiction if you need to. Just do something with it until you feel good about writing again. Then, when you’re ready, stop doing that and work on the real project that you have your heart set on. Sometimes these fake projects turn into real ones, or you can use pieces of it for something else. Find something that inspires you – anything! – and write about it.

Writing is just like any other skill. The more time you spend doing it and thinking about it, the better you will become. It grows with time, like how to know your sentences are good, that the flow is right, and that the characters have done what they needed to do. Get to know your own writing.

For example, I can now think of my current work and have an estimate on my word count and also when I will finish it. I know how many words it will take to get me through a plot point, and how many words I need per chapter – therefore, I know how many chapters the book will have. I’m pretty sure that I couldn’t do that for a long time, but I know what I’m capable of and I can know what a story needs to get it to the end.

The main things, I believe, are 1.) your mind needs to be clear and 2.) the STORY is LIFE. That means that when it’s right, it’s right, and you’re thinking about it 24-7 until it’s done. That’s the good kind of writing.

I hope you all liked this post! It felt pretty good to write it, so I hope it was helpful. Sitting down to think about these things helped me too! I’ve been doing a bit more writing lately and that has been really nice. Again, I’m not sure where I’m headed right now, but I’m enjoying this simplicity as far as not worrying about getting work out there just to make money. I definitely need to reconnect with writing for the love of it, and I think I may be on the right track.

Like I mentioned at the beginning, I do have a few older posts that give some writing advice, so here are the links to those.

Editing 101

Dialogue for Dummies

Character Building with Lani

Let me know if this post gave you some new ideas! Is there anything else you would like me to write about in the future? I’ll give it a shot!


A Writer’s Struggle

I often read articles about writing as a business: how to get sales, how to market, is it worth it? Some of these articles say the same thing, and though I would hope against the truth, much of what I find is the same.

No. Published or otherwise, a writer may not be able to support herself just by writing books. If you’re making money as a writer, it’s not because you’re writing fiction. You’re writing non-fiction How To books and freelance articles for blogs, dealing with subjects that don’t matter to you at all.

I’ll be honest: Lately, I’ve been thinking about giving up. In fact, I’ve been at that place many times in my life. It’s always just a phase, but the truth remains: I’m not able to support myself as a writer, and I may never be.

Writing has been a struggle for a while now. I’d say it has been for the past 2 years since I started my current job. It’s not always a question of what I should write – I do have a few ideas put back – but it’s finding the time and focus when there is so much else going on. At some point you realize that you’re an adult with an adult life, and no matter how you slice it, a part of having an adult life is always going to be bills.

The honest truth is that what you do with your life all comes down to money – the stress of needing money from somewhere and not making enough to pay those dreaded bills. And this applies to doing anything you love. Sometimes you just can’t manage to get paid for it.

In the midst of these thoughts, I was out one night after work, thinking that I just couldn’t do it anymore. I wondered if all my effort was worth it, and if I gave up writing, could I move forward? What else was out there? I looked at my phone and saw that someone had tagged me on Twitter. I checked it out and there was a link that led me to Instagram. There, I saw a picture of the books in my Nevermor trilogy. A book blogger was doing a post challenge, and when asked which author she would like to meet, she chose me.

I actually started tearing up. It just meant so much to me to see my books like that, in print and in someone’s possession. To have someone say that they love my work certainly makes me feel that I don’t regret what I’ve done and am doing.

It really does seem that every time I start feeling down, something like this comes along to lift me back up. What I am doing is not at all for naught, though it has been difficult to find time for it.

Things are harder now. My day job requires so much attention that I can’t even think about anything else, develop plots or ideas. I have approximately one serious writer friend, and now we have both become so wrapped up in having day jobs that we barely talk, let alone write together. Lately and for a while, the only thing my brain can think about is making money. How can I make money with my books, and do people really do that? From what I’ve read, even most published writers struggle.

The truth is, I don’t need too much to live right now. That may mean a downgrade from the life I’m currently living, but I believe I could do it. I think I could be perfectly happy without a job, but how to get there? What is enough for happiness?

I have 10 books for sale right now – 10 beautiful books – and a few more that I wrote in my twenties and haven’t released yet. I honestly want nothing more than to be able to support myself with writing.

The night after the Instagram pic, I dreamed an entire plot, and I was so excited about it! It felt so good to know that there was still something there, almost like a sign, that my own mind was telling me ‘we’ve still got it’.

I’ve started thinking: maybe writing can still be accomplished if I try to make time in my life for everything. A schedule. Everything has a time and place. Because of how inspiration strikes, this may not be completely possible, but there must be some way to organize this instead of me wasting so much time moping because I’m unhappy and worrying that the spark is gone. That happens when you overthink everything.

I’m happy to say that I’m writing again, and it feels good. Does it erase all the stresses that life in modern society brings? No. But maybe with more effort and learning, I can finally get to a place where everything balances out. I’m looking forward to finding that.

Shadow Sun Book Trailer and Preorder Info

First I have to say: Happy Anniversary to Project Nevermor! I missed it (again) but it has been 3 years (wow) and that deserves some recognition.

For those who haven’t seen it yet, the book trailer for Shadow Sun has been released! It’s simple, but it does the job. I’m pleased with it, and I think it sets the mood for the book very well. Feel free to share it if you’d like. That helps get the word around, you know. 🙂

Instead of simply promoting my book and leaving it at that, I thought I’d give a little info about how I made this trailer, for any who are interested in making trailers for their own books.

First, I’d just like to say that this trailer cost me absolutely nothing to produce. I used Windows Live Movie Maker, which is a program that was already on my computer. The images are my own, the music was free, I added my own voice, and I put it together myself. If you’ve also seen the trailer for Nevermor (I didn’t make one for Forsaken Dreamscape), you may not know this, but I probably spent about $100 on images to put the thing together. This time, I didn’t do that. I had my book cover, and I told myself I was going simple. That’s what I did.

I didn’t really have a plan when I started it.  I had already created a few images in a photo-editing program that I have, and so those images for the end of the trailer were already created. Of course I also had my book cover at the ready, which is all I really used to make this trailer. I like the way it looks like it’s animated, but actually it is only a few still images that I cropped from the book’s back cover image, and ran them together quickly with a slight animation effect. Ta-da! It’s snowing! Then it was just getting my vision together, finding the right music (which I had already downloaded a while ago, and was lucky enough to have on my PC already. Also, if you are using music, be sure to follow the rules of whoever created it. If they are giving it away for free use, they may ask you to mention them or link to their site.) I had to be sure that I placed all the proper information about the book in the trailer, so that it can stand on its own and let people know what it is, and then there it was! Finished!

I had to mess with it for a while to get it right, and it took me several hours, but I’m happy with the end result, so the time was worth it.

This video is linked in directly from my YouTube channel. Did you know I had one of those? Okay, so there isn’t too much there yet, but I’ll be adding a few video interviews and readings in the near future to give it a bit more life. Anyway, you can follow me there to see all the videos that I post. HERE

In addition, Shadow Sun is now available for preorder on Amazon! HERE Why is this a good thing? Because you can get the special preorder price, which is only available through this offer. Plus, all preorder sales are counted as first day sales, so it helps to push the book further up on the bestseller list. As for other online sellers, I haven’t arranged for that yet, but the print book and Kindle versions should be available on the day I announced: 11/3/15. It’s possible also that soon, the ebook will be available for preorder through B&N, Smashwords, and iTunes as well, but for now it can only be found on Amazon.

Once again, be sure to add the book to your reading list on GOODREADS: HERE

Lots of links to follow in this post…I have a lot more planned on the road to Shadow Sun’s release day. I’ve got more videos and ideas to share. Very soon, I’ll begin posting sample chapters of Shadow Sun on Wattpad, and I’ll begin posting those weekly until release day, so that should get you six chapters as a preview before release.

In the meantime, be sure to follow me on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Wattpad, Goodreads and this blog for more info on this and all my other projects.

Thanks again for your support, everyone!! I couldn’t do this without you!

THE NUTCRACKER BLEEDS Hardback Edition is here!

It’s been a while since I’ve written a post, and I apologize for that. I’ve been busy, and unfortunately only part of that has been with writing, but I’m hoping that I can do a little better in 2015. I know there are a few things I really need to address – mostly about the Nevermor trilogy – but I’m going to save that for another post and stick to the matter at hand.

I have not yet shown any pictures on the blog of The Nutcracker Bleeds hardback copy, so I’m going to do that now!

IMG_0478[1]IMG_0484[1]IMG_0480[1]IMG_0485[1]As you can see, the book looks great! It’s 6×9 black linen casewrap with gold foil lettering on the spine, with matte dust jacket on the outside.

The binding is sturdy, the printing looks nice, and I’m very happy with it overall. In fact, if I can find the time, I plan to sit down with it myself and have a read to get the full experience on Christmas.

This edition of the book is only available through Lulu.com, and can only be purchased by US buyers. but the ebook and paperback have both been set up for extended release, so those should be widely available by now. If you want to find it, (or my other works) just try doing a search for ‘Lani Lenore’ at your favorite online bookstore and see if I show up. (If you need links for different countries, let me know and I’ll see what I can come up with.)

A reminder: there is a coupon code for Lulu right now that will save you 25% now through Christmas! Enter KTP4 at checkout to get this deal (also may have to set up an account with Lulu).

Each time one of books is printed and sitting on the shelf in front of me, I feel so excited, and I just hope that others have that feeling as well. I know that some of you do. 🙂

Another year is winding down, and it has been another great one for me and my books. Thanks to all of you for your continued support, and I hope I can make next year just as great! I’ll be back with more Nevermor news as soon as I can get my affairs in order. (I’m moving soon, so my life is in a bit of disarray, but I hope to be back to normal after the holidays.)

If I don’t manage to post again before the end of the year, I hope you all have a great one, and you’ll hear for me again soon!

The Nutcracker Bleeds release date set for December 3rd

Hello all! Back with the exciting news that my lovely, horrific and wild spin on a classic, The Nutcracker Bleeds, is going to be released on December 3rd!

Yes, I do mean this year. And yes, I do mean in 4 days!

Some of you have read it, some have not, but it is – I think – one of my most intricate stories. If the amazing and dark world of rodents and toys is not enough, the characters are some of the best I’ve created, each one having his/her place in the plot, their lives woven together so well that this novel was not a burden to write in any respect. This is one of the longest, but possibly the easiest books I have written, at 165K. One thing I love most about this story is how surprising it is, and since that is the case, I won’t spoil it for you by giving more details. You’ll just have to see for yourself.

** I’d just like to say officially that while some of my work might borderline on YA, this story is definitely for mature readers. There are many adult themes, not to even mention the violence and gore, but actually, much less bad language than Nevermor. **

Here’s the lowdown on the different formats that will be available: (And I’m afraid I can only speak for US)

EBOOK: Currently, the ebook version is available for preorder on Kindle and Smashwords, which will branch out to other channels (Barnes and Noble, Kobo, so on) by the release date (hopefully). The price of the ebook version is $5.99.

PAPERBACK: The CreateSpace paperback is still in the works. but I hope to have it ready to be ordered by December 3rd, and will probably be listed for $14.99. The paperback will be listed on Amazon and will be enrolled in Kindle Matchbook, which means that if you purchase this paperback version from Amazon, you can get the Kindle version as well for only $.99.

HARDBACK: With this release, I’ve done something a bit special, and I mentioned it earlier, but I’ll say it again: I’m releasing a hardback version of The Nutcracker Bleeds. This is my first time for this, so I’m pretty excited. It’s ready, and will be for sale on the release date. I hope to have a special deal for this version, and I’m going to show it off as soon as I get my own copy, but for now, I can only speak of it and let you know that it’s going to happen. Due to limitations in my production of the hardback version, this version will only be available to purchase through Lulu.com, and also as of right now, it is for US only sales. I’ll let you know the price soon. I made mention of ordering copies and selling them myself, but I think that will be too much of a hassle for me right now.

You can read a sample of the newly revised beginning on Smashwords, and should be able to view it on Amazon at least by the 3rd. I’ll also be listing the book on Goodreads, so please look for it there and add it to your lists!

I’ll get back here soon with more info on the print versions. And by soon, I certainly mean in less than 4 days. :p