A Mom Blog Social Network
From Blogging to Published Author
Hi, Stephanie. Thank you so much for inviting me to talk with your friends at Bloggy Moms. Since this is a writing forum, let’s get down to it!
All of you are bloggers, that’s why you’re here. It looks like some of you might be interested in taking things a step farther. Have you thought of starting that novel? Scared? Wondering if you can do it? Of course you can! And here’s my advice to you.
Write what you know. You most likely already do this on your blog. Perhaps you talk about being a working mom, parenting a child with special needs, or life as the wife of a soldier deployed overseas. Why not take some of those experiences and turn them into a fictional story? Create characters and situations a few steps away from you—similar, but not exactly you.
Let’s say you care for an elderly parent in a nursing home. Let’s also say you’ve experienced difficulty becoming pregnant. Pair up the two and create a woman who is simultaneously trying to let go of a loved one and to bring a new life into the world. The character says goodbye to one person and meets another. Then add your own complex angles. That’s a touching book I’d like to read. Your personal experience will bring depth and emotion to the story that other writers cannot. YOU are the subject-matter expert of your own life.
Start small. There’s no need to plot a 300-page novel and scheme your world book tour before one word is even on the page. Write a short story or a novella, which is a tale of about six to ten chapters in length. Create something short that is rich with detail. The popularity of e-readers is helping these types of stories to enjoy success right now.
How about nonfiction? Have you become a master of cooking and feeding a picky eater? What about tips on training for marathons? Share your knowledge with others by publishing a book. Do you enjoy crafting, gardening, or art? Full-color tablet devices are helping bring pictorial e-books to life. Turn your knowledge into a photo-filled e-book.
Find support, but don’t get distracted by the sideshows. It’s great to lean on fellow writers and ask for help. There are many great how-to books out there on publishing and self-publishing. You’ll also find an abundance of forums and blogs on the subject. One word of caution though: don’t get distracted by all the hoopla. It’s easy to become caught up in all the extraneous noise. For every question you may have about writing, there will be thirty-five people waiting to tell you the best way to do it. This is your journey. There is no perfect method. Just write.
That being said, here are two key tasks you need to complete once your story is finished:
First, find a skilled, impartial (no friends or family members), experienced beta reader. What’s a beta reader? This is a person who takes your story, reads it, and provides feedback. Usually this feedback is focused on the high-level story. Kind of like a teacher commenting on a poem. Expect lots of red-pencil marks. Examples include:
See what I mean? Some of the discoveries are small, and others huge. You will learn a lot from beta readers. I’ve been lucky to find a few online friends who are skilled in this area, and I haven’t had to pay for this service.
Second, find a skilled, professional editor. This is very important. You may think your story is free of errors, but you will be surprised by what a skilled editor knows and will find. I’m flabbergasted at the knowledge my editor possesses. It goes far beyond the placement of a comma or who versus whom. I feel it’s important for new authors to produce a top-notch product. Whether you’re going to self-publish or send your work out to agents, always strive to look your best.
Sadly, there are too many writers who skip these last two steps. Their wonderful stories are never understood by readers because people are too distracted by plot issues and poor editing. Don’t make that mistake.
You can do this! Take your life and change it a little, dream, then put it all down on paper. The result will be a wonderful story, uniquely yours.
Stephanie, thanks again for having me today. I look forward to chatting with your readers. If any of you have questions, please ask away.
I’m a full-time mom, wife, sister, and friend. Throw in a little housework, an irritating lapdog, and the need to watch every episode of Forensic Files, and I guess you could call me a busy woman—there just are not enough hours in the day. My escape is writing. I hope you enjoy reading my stories as much as I enjoy writing them.
To learn more about Jenna, her works in progress, and where to find her online, please visit her website.
My friend's s-i-l self-published a few years ago and I finally had the opportunity to talk to her last night. I read her book and loved it, so it was quite the honor to talk to her. She's writing a sequel but is stuck and asked me to look at what she has written so far. Your advice came at a good time; I have a better idea of what to look for as I read it.
I know I'll need an editor. Lol. I've managed to change some bad habits but I know I have other ones I'm not aware of.
Thanks again for having me, Stephanie. I'm looking forward to chatting with everyone.
Chelle - reading the work of others is another great idea. As you give advice, you will learn so much about the writing process. That's why a lot of people join writing clubs. It's a group sport!! :-) Ha ha
Jenna, when you've finished your work, and you send out to your beta readers, how many times to you send it to them for "editing" before calling it finished and sending it off to a professional editor?
Wikipedia: Having been carried out or accomplished; finished: a done deed. →
It really depends on the complexity of the story and the changes needed. I am lucky and have a few skilled beta readers. Healing Touch and Off Leash are also fairly simple stories so I only sent them through my betas once. I waited for all of their feedback, decided what I wanted to change and how, made the updates, and then sent the final draft off to my editor.
One of my works in progress is giving me trouble. I’ve sent it off to a beta already and I was only 50% done with it. The story is such a mess I can see doing a couple rounds with betas.
Hope that helps!
Thank you so much for sharing your advice with us, Jenna!! Good luck in your future endeavors and feel free to join in any of our discussions anytime!