Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Editing your Manuscript: DIY Tips and Professional Resources

Photo by Ilya Pavlov on Unsplash
So you've written a book, and you're asking yourself, "Do I really need an editor? I'm pretty good at writing, after all. I caught a few mistakes as I went through, and I don't think there are any more. Maybe I should just save money and publish the book as is."


Sorry to burst your bubble, but, to put it bluntly, you're wrong. We ALL need editors! That is, certainly you can and should go through your own manuscript and search for errors. But as authors, we're just too close to our own stories to catch everything. Trust me! It doesn't matter if you've earned an "A" on every English assignment through elementary, middle school, high school, and college. It doesn't matter if you're a professional writer or an English professor. NOBODY gets it all right all of the time, and that's why professional proofreaders and editors are absolutely essential for authors.

First, some definitions. There's more than one type of editing, after all.

I recommend taking a look at the article at this link. Pavarti K. Tyler explains what each kind involves and why your manuscript needs them.

At the end of this post, I've compiled a list of professionals you can contact for your editing and proofreading needs. In the meantime, let's go over some tips for improving your own writing as much as you can. The more problems you find and fix, the less your editor will have to do, which will probably make the editing process cheaper, quicker, and simpler. 

The following posts and articles are ones that I've collected from all over the internet and can highly recommend for their useful content. I recommend checking them out, bookmarking them, and referring back often throughout your writing and editing process.

Corina Koch MacLeod and Carla Douglas have compiled a list of helpful books that would make great additions to your library. Best of all, they've organized them in categories according to the level of writing they are intended to help with: big picture, paragraph level, sentence level, word level, and some designed to provide inspiration for writers.

Duncan Koerber has a lot of useful ideas here, including some on how to even approach the whole process.

These are big-picture tips relating to story structure, conflict, character motivation, etc.

Do you have too many details in your descriptions? Not enough? Jill Williamson will help you see what to do about either problem.

David Stafford has a unique idea for how to keep track of seasons, location layout, character traits, etc. You don't want to be inconsistent in your story!

How to Strengthen the Theme of Your Book During Edits
Does your book have a theme? Should it? Did you mean to give it one but not start thinking about it until halfway through your first draft? Stephanie Morrill will help you fix that in the editing stage.

Self-Editing Tips
Susan Uhlig has some helpful suggestions, many of which deal with the big picture of your story as opposed to tiny details.

How to Write Well: 10 Essential Self-Editing Tips
C.S. Lakin has some great tips for punctuation, grammar, and a few other issues. Each one is quick to read and easy to understand, but you'll want to go back through your manuscript slowly and carefully to check that you're applying them as well as you can.

We all have words and phrases we tend to use too often without realizing it. Sporkforge will tell you what they are, along with a number of other nifty functions.

In this article, Jon Gingerich lists some common errors, especially between pairs of words that are commonly mixed up (like "continually" vs "continuously"). Better yet, he explains why the right one is the right one for each certain context. It would be a good idea to read through the list, and if anything there surprises you, search for that word in your manuscript and make sure you've used it correctly.

Another great list of types of mistakes to look for in your writing. You may even want to print this one out and keep it by your computer for reference.

So, what happens after you've done everything you can to edit your own manuscript? Time to turn to the professionals.

How do you know which editor will work best for you? ChatEBooks has some great suggestions. After you read them, scroll down and browse the list of editors, and check out some of their websites to see what services they offer and who might be right for you.

Once you've found a few editors who look like a good fit for your book, A. Denefield Jones has some good suggestions about things to ask them before you sign a contract.

And now for the list! Without further ado, here are way more editors than anyone would ever need. :-) Just click on their names to visit their websites.

Do you know any other editors you'd like to recommend? Can you think of some great self-editing tips not mentioned here? Feel free to tell us in the comments!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Realm Explorers Part XCIX: Visit Aslaria with Hope Ann

Welcome to Realm Explorers!  In this weekly series, we visit a variety of unique worlds created by talented science fiction and fantasy authors.  Enjoy your travels! And don't forget to read to the bottom of the post to find out more about each author and see how to purchase the featured book. 

Author’s name:
Hope Ann

Title of book and/or series:
Legends of Light:
Prequel: Rose of the Night
1.     Rose of the Oath
2.     Song of the Sword
3.     Shadows of the Hersweald

Brief summary of the story:
A war, founded in ancient legends, changes the lives of those it touches forever.

Elissa, a villager from the northern mountains, attempts to save her brother and ends up trapped in a hidden valley with a strange host and a treacherous enemy.

Evrard, the Wingmaster of the Prince’s army, races against his own weakening powers to discover the location of his twin and save her from deadly mistbenders.

Haydn, a pardoned rebel from Tauscher’s army, confronts shadows of myth and former comrades in his struggle to keep his sister safe and find the stolen Stormestone.

Each Legends of Light novella focuses on one of the nine aspects of the Fruit of the Spirit while also following the conflict between the Prince and Tauscher and retelling popular fairy tales in a clean, exciting, and inspiring manner.

Brief description of the world or location you created for this story:
Mountains and deserts, glittering cities and quiet villages, Aslaria has it all. From the Hersweald Forest stretching into the mountains in the north, to the Shadowfen in the south and the Silver Sea to the west, this is a world rift with unique objects such as stormestones, fen serpents, mirror dimensions, and dangerous draigynos.

If we were to visit Aslaria as tourists, what would you recommend that we see or do there?
Go to Zahava, definitely. It’s a great city, the largest in Aslaria, with a huge wall separating a peninsula from the mainland. The Aber River runs through its center and spills into the Sea. It’s this exit that is the coolest part of the city, mainly due to the the King’s palace rising over the river and sprawling on either side. Great arches and pillars and cool courtyards. Battlements cast the river in a deep shade and colored draperies and narrow walkways cross the river high above. Spending an afternoon traveling down the river, then making your way to the top of the castle for the view is well worth the effort and expenditure.

What dangers should we avoid in Aslaria?
Many things—it depends where you are. To the south, one of the most treacherous dangers is the fen serpent. A nocturnal hunter, it can grow to be twenty feet in length and has a very venomous bite. In the woods to the north, you have draigynos to deal with. About ten feet long, these lithe, wingless dragons live in the treetops. Once they catch a scent and start a hunt, few things besides death can sway them. Oh, and wolves. They aren’t as bad as they used to be, but packs still roam the wilds and can be very dangerous indeed.

What types of weaponry or fighting styles are common in Aslaria?
Swords and daggers are common weapons, along with the bow. The definition of a fair fight will shift depending on where you travel, however. City-folk tend to expect an announcement of hostility and a chance to prepare themselves. Out in the villages and mountains, the victor will win his cause by stealth, treachery, smoke powder, or all-out strength—whatever happens to be handy.

What types of vehicles, animals, technology, etc. are used to travel in or to Aslaria?
Horses or feet, normally. And small boats, of course, for those who dare brave the rivers. I have heard rumors of griffins to the east but have yet to discover if there really are any still alive or if they are only legend.

What types of plants, animals, or sentient races might we encounter in Aslarai that we don’t see on Earth?
I’ve already mentioned the fen serpents and draigynos. There are also the dragoss reeds to the south. A leathery, yellowish plant, the fibers can be shredded and woven into a sturdy rope.

What role, if any, does magic or the supernatural play in the lives of people in Aslaria?  If there is magic, please give some examples of what it involves or how it’s used.
Magic… ehhh. It depends how one uses the word. There are certainly things we can’t do or don’t have in this world. Take Stormestones. These glowing rocks are the heart of a select number of mountains. A Keeper can break off pieces of this stone, fill them with rain, and carry them elsewhere to provide rain where there is none. At least that is what they were made to do, but many men have turned them into weapons and now they have almost vanished.

There is also the Melody Realm. An alternate mirror dimension, the Wingmaster can view the undercurrent of light and darkness that most Aslarians can sense, but not see. Using his song, he can hold the darkness at bay, fighting invisible battles that can affect the whole land.

Is there any advanced or unusual technology in Aslaria?  If you haven’t described it already, please give some examples.
Some. Take smoke power. An unoriginal name, I grant you, but sprinkle and light a pile of this and soon you’ll have enough smoke to veil your movements. Some men have even claimed to be able to combine it with a flash powder, allowing one to throw a handful in the air and envelope themselves in a cloud of smoke.

Are the days of the week and months of the year the same in Aslaria as on Earth? What holidays or special events are celebrated regularly there?
The days are numbered from first to seventh, and the months are numbered according to their season. They run similar to earth’s months, however. Oath Day is celebrated each year near the beginning of spring—an event that recognizes the King’s Oath to save those of Aslaria from Tauscher’s hold.

Is there a particular religion practiced in Aslaria?  Please describe what it involves.
The religion isn’t very structured—it is more in the larger cities than in the villages. Those who follow the King meet to speak of His writings and to remember His promise in the King’s Oath. They trust that the Prince will come and defeat Tauscher, destroying the Stieg der, and they try to follow the King’s law as best they are able.

Are there any other unique cultural practices that we should be aware of if we visit?
Betrothal is done in the form of exchanging bracelets. Silver is most common, though the materials might be cheaper if one is poor or quite lavished if you are a nobleman. A young man wanting to court a lady will leave a ribbon in her hair or tucked in her glove, normally at some dance. If she accepts him, she’ll tie it around her wrist, at which point he’ll come and replace it with a bracelet. Otherwise she might return it or (as some girls are known to do) keep the ribbon in a collection of their own.

Has anything in your actual life inspired the locations, cultures, etc. in your book?
Mist. I love mist, so I used it quite a bit in Song of the Sword. I also like to take the names and a very slight tint of a culture for my books. Rose of the Oath has a German/Saxon slant. With Song of the Sword, I went with French and when I got to Shadows of the Hersweald, I delved into Welsh names and a rougher type of feel.

Author Autobiography:
Hope Ann is a speculative fiction writer who lives on a small farm in northern Indiana. She has self-published three Legend of Light novellas and writes regular articles for Kingdom Pen as the Writing Team Captain. Reading since the age of five, and introducing herself to writing at age eight, she never had a question that the author’s life was the life for her. Her goal is to write thrilling Christian fantasy and futuristic fiction — stories she longed for while growing up. After graduating from homeschool, Hope now teaches writing to several of her eight younger siblings. She loves climbing trees, archery, photography, Lord of the Rings, chocolate, and collecting shiny things she claims are useful for story inspiration.
Where, and in what formats, can we purchase your books?  Please include links.
All three of my books are in Kindle format. They will be available in one print book this fall. You can find the various formats below:

Where can readers connect with you online? 
Visit my website at authorhopeann.com, or follow me on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, or Twitter.

I hope you all enjoyed the trip to Aslaria.  Questions about the world or the book?  Ask them in the comments and the author will get back to you!  

Click here to read other posts in the Realm Explorers series.

Please join us again next Monday for a trip to another world in next week's edition of Realm Explorers!
-Annie Douglass Lima

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Renegade's Redemption: a Romance Novel with a Giveaway!

On Tour with Prism Book Tours.

Book Tour Grand Finale for
The Renegade's Redemption
By Stacy Henrie

We hope you enjoyed the tour! If you missed any of the stops

you can see snippets, as well as the link to each full post, below:

Launch - Note from the Author

Ever since sharing some of Tex’s story in my last Love Inspired Historical book about his twin brother Tate, I’ve eagerly anticipated the chance for readers to get to know Tex better—through his own story this time. A legendary, charismatic outlaw, Tex was a fun and complex character to write. So, too, was his reunion with the girl he left behind eight years ago Ravena Reid.

Hearts & Scribbles - Character Descriptions 

An identical twin, Tex looks just like his brother Tate with their matching blue eyes and brown hair, but their similarities end there. Tex is charming, fun-loving, and never in one place for long. But when he realizes Ravena needs help with her farm, he offers to stay and help, if only to atone for leaving her behind years ago. In the process, he comes to face-to-face with his past, his mistakes, and his long buried faith. Before long he’ll have to make the toughest decision of his life—to stop running or not from everyone, including himself. 

"This story was such an amazing journey for me. Filled with rich characters, precious children, a wounded past, and best of all…forgiveness and a second chance at love.

THE RENEGADE’S REDEMPTION was impossible to put down. I read the entire book in one sitting, it’s that good. "

Heidi Reads... - Review

"I loved the various personalities of the orphans that Ravena cares for and how it shows her compassionate nature. She struggles with her long-held feelings for Tex and forgiveness of others and self is a big theme in the story. There is some action as Tex's outlaw background catches up with him but I appreciated that he came to terms with it of his own volition before he was forced to by circumstances. Lovely romance between a stalwart young woman and a charming rogue!"

I Am A Reader - Excerpt

“Ravena,” Tex called as she reached the door.

She blew out a sigh and turned to face him. “Yes?”

“Thank you for this. But you said one night and I won’t stay longer than that.”

Gripping the edges of the tray until they dug into her palms, she willed the words she wanted to say to reach her lips. Yes, Tex, you have to leave. I have enough concerns right now, without worrying about you and the fragileness of my heart.

Sylv.net - An Old Flame

Can past hurts be overcome and forgiven in order to have a second chance at love? In my newest Love Inspired Historical book, that’s what Tex Beckett and Ravena Reid must decide.

Tex and Ravena grew up together on neighboring farms in Idaho. They were inseparable friends, though Tex’s twin brother Tate often tagged along with them. As they grew older, Tex and Ravena realized their friendship had developed into something more. Though different in temperament—Ravena is far more serious, and Tex is fun-loving and eager for adventure—they complemented each other and shared a deep love.

"This Historical fiction is full of action, suspense, drama and romance. The reader will be unsure of the ending until the last pages. The characters are defined well and the reader feels very endeared to them. The background scenes are portrayed well. The story steadily flows smoothly until the very end. The reader’s interest is held throughout the tale."

"Vivid characters with lots of personality join forces with swoony romance, adorable children, and a heartfelt message of redemption and restoration. Stacy Henrie is skilled at knowing the right combination of each of those elements to achieve a ‘just right’ balance and a smooth story. If you’re a fan of stories set in the late 1800s West then you need to definitely make time to read Stacy Henrie’s books as well!'"

"Stacy Henrie has done it again! Her novel Renegade’s Redemption is simply splendid!! This western romance is filled with plenty of adventure and romance that readers will not want to miss. In addition there are themes of inspiration, forgiveness, and redemption that will tug at the heartstrings of readers. . . . This sweet historical romance novel is a fantastic sequel to The Outlaw’s Secret that readers will adore."

"I enjoyed the gentle chemistry between these two and the way they each worked through trust issues. I love the descriptions of their every day lives and the way the past and present fit together. There are many things to be resolved and through journeys of self-discovery and responsibility, a satisfying conclusion resulted."

Mel's Shelves - Review

" I devoured it quickly and love the way it all came together! I love Stacy Henrie's writing style and she is quickly becoming a favorite author! If you enjoy clean historical romance, you will want to read both of these books!"

"Tex and Ravena were great characters. The book flowed gently and easily, weaving in daily life events with the rekindling of friendship and love. The children in this book were a fantastic addition and really gave the story a feeling of family and love."

Wishful Endings - Excerpt

For one moment, Tex knew the familiar thrill of a clean escape. Then the sheriff shot at him again. This time the bullet found purchase. It struck Tex in his right side, and his body jerked hard to the left in reflexive response. He clung to the horse with trembling arms to keep from falling as searing fire registered through his shock.

Paulette's Papers - Five Fun Facts about The Renegade’s Redemption

1. The final scenes of this book take place on Independence Day. And while I knew the release date for the book was in July 2017, I didn’t pay much attention to which day. So it was serendipitous and lots of fun when I realized it was releasing on Independence Day.

"The road for this unlikely pair seemed impossible, and I loved how everything was resolved. . . . I enjoyed The Renegade’s Redemption very much and look forward to much more from Stacy Henrie."

"The Renegade's Redemption is a sweet historical romance with strong themes of forgiveness and trusting in God. The story begins and pretty much ends with a bang, and the pages in between are sure to keep readers anxiously turning them to find out what happens with Tex, Ravena, and the orphans."

Cafinated Reads - Review

"This is a truly wonderful story of seeking one’s faith, relying on God, forgiveness and redemption. Ms. Hernie will steal you away with this book and leave you wanting more instantly! This 5 star book is the second in a series, and while I wasn’t confused and it could be easily read as a stand alone, I do plan to go back and read book 1 and see where it all began with Tex. Hats off to this talented author who is now on my favorites list!!"

Brooke Blogs - Review

"I really enjoyed this sweet story. I quickly found myself attached to the characters and immersed in the setting. I loved this story so much. The setting and time period was just perfect. The Renegade’s Redemption is well-written and a quick read. If you are looking for a sweet, clean romance, give this one a try. You won’t regret it."

And don't forget to enter the giveaway below, if you haven't already...

The Renegade's Redemption
by Stacy Henrie
Inspirational Historical Romance
Paperback & ebook, 288 pages
July 1st 2017 by Love Inspired Historical

Refuge for the Outlaw

When Tex Beckett arrives at Ravena Reid's farm, he's eight years too late for the elopement they'd once planned—and it's far too early to win her forgiveness. He's seriously wounded, though, and she can't turn him away, though she knows better than to trust him. Yes, it's wonderful having help with the farm, and with the orphans she fosters, but if she opens her heart, she'll get hurt again when he leaves. And Tex always leaves.

As a notorious bank robber, Tex is used to danger. Yet reuniting with the only woman he's ever loved is the riskiest thing he's ever done. All he wants is to stay with Ravena and the children. But can he build a new start before his past catches up with him?

Other Books in the Series

The Outlaw's Secret
by Stacy Henrie
Christian Historical RomancePaperback & ebook, 288 pages
February 7th 2017 by Love Inspired Historical

Lawman in Disguise 

Getting taken hostage by a gang of train robbers wasn't in dime novelist Essie Vanderfair's plans, but interviewing these men could make her career soar. Especially since the gang includes legendary outlaw Tex Beckett, better known as the Texas Titan. Tex is famed for his protection of women and children, so she'll be fine…right? 

Keeping the gang in line was hard enough before a stubborn, beautiful writer interfered. Now Tex is scrambling to keep Essie safe, to gather evidence against the gang and most of all to hide his dangerous secrets. First, that he's a detective working undercover. And second, that he's not the Texas Titan at all, but Tex's twin brother, Tate Beckett.

About the Author

USA Today bestselling author Stacy Henrie is the author of western romances and the Of Love and War series, which includes Hope at Dawn, a 2015 RITA Award finalist for excellence in romance. She was born and raised in the West, where she currently resides with her family. She enjoys reading, road trips, interior decorating, chocolate, and most of all, laughing with her husband and kids.


Tour Giveaway

- 1 winner will receive  copies of The Express Rider's Lady and The Outlaw's Secret, and a $10 Amazon e-gift card (US only)
- 1 winner will receive a $25 Amazon e-gift card (open internationally)
- Ends July 22nd

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Building an Online Presence: Websites, Blogs, and Social Media for Authors

An online platform is important for any author who wants to sell books to more than just their personal friends and family. Even if your book isn't ready for publication yet, it's never too early to start building your platform through your website/blog, on social media, etc. 
I've collected some links to articles on those topics that I hope will be helpful. Enjoy!

So You're an Author Without a Social Media Presence: Now What?
Jane Friedman talks about how to get started. She includes a number of links to other helpful articles on specific related topics.

14 Must-Do Social Media Tips for Authors
Laurence O'Bryan gives some quick and simple general tips, many of which are applicable to more than one type of social media.

Note that you certainly don't need to be active on every possible form of social media (and most authors don't have the time for that, anyway)! It's best to pick a few and focus your efforts on those. Here are some options to choose from, along with more articles you'll find useful when it comes to your online presence as an author. I think the titles speak for themselves. 

     a.) Website

How to Build the Ultimate Author Website (in 1 Hour)

Website Tips for Authors

     b.) Blog

Blogs: Elements and Design

140 Tools and Resources for Building Your Author Website and/or Blog

13 Blog Post Ideas for Novelists

10 Ways to Promote Your Book on Your Blog

How to Create a Social Media Marketing Plan for Your Blog

     c.) Facebook

How to Optimize Your Facebook Author Page to Sell Books

14 Ways to Promote your eBook on Facebook

     d.) Twitter

Twitter 101 for Authors: Hashtags, Dos and Don'ts

8 Twitter Resources for Authors

5 Things for Authors to Tweet About (That Aren't "Buy my Book!")

     e.) Pinterest

34 Strategic Ways You Can Use Pinterest to Market Your Book and Your Author Brand

From Fun to Serious: How I Use Pinterest Differently Now

     f.) Instagram

Simple Instagram Tips for Authors

Top 7 Ways Authors are Using Instagram

How to Use Instagram as an Author Plus 10 Ways to Grow Your Account Organically

     g.) Google+

How to Use Google+ as an Author Platform

Seven Ways Authors Can Build Online Authority with Google+

     h.) Tumblr

Tumblr for Authors: How to Get Started

Tumblr 101 for Authors

Tumblr Tips for Writers

     i.) YouTube

Video Marketing and YouTube Tips for Authors

Beyond Book Trailers: 4 YouTube Strategies for Authors

     j.) LinkedIn

The REAL Power of LinkedIn for Authors

12 Ways to Leverage LinkedIn for Book Promotion

6 Top Tips on How to Make LinkedIn Work for Authors

Authors, tell me what you think about these social media options. Do you have any tips of your own or links to other resources you'd like to share? Feel free to tell us in the comments!