Presented by: Jen Bokal
Date: March 12, 2022 9AM PT
Pricing: A2P Member fee: No Charge
Non-A2P Member fee: $10
To many writers, a novel plan is akin to a soul-killing outline learned in grammar school, complete with Roman Numerals and indentations. Yet, to sit down at a computer and begin working without any intention—other than to write a novel—often ends up with an unfinished manuscript and a frustrated author. This workshop with help to develop characters and their goals, along with exploring how they can reach those goals in a dramatic and engaging fashion.
Jennifer D. Bokal penned her first book at age eight. An early lover of the written word, she decided to follow her passion and become a full-time writer. From then on, she didn’t look back. She earned a master of arts in creative writing from Wilkes University and became a member of the Romance Writers of America and International Thriller Writers. She has authored several short stories, novellas and poems. Winner of the Sexy Scribbler in 2015, Jennifer is the author of 16 novels/novellas. Included in her titles are the Ancient World Historical series the Champions of Rome and the Harlequin Romantic Suspense series, Rocky Mountain Justice and the connected series, Rocky Mountain Justice: Wyoming Nights. She is also the author of Coltons Secret History, Book 3 in the Coltons of Kansas series and Coltons Internal Affair, Book 9 in the Coltons of Grave Gulch series—also from Harlequin Romantic Suspense. Happily married to her own Alpha Male for more than 25 years, she enjoys writing stories that explore the wonders of love. Jen and her manly husband live in upstate New York with their three beautiful daughters, two very spoiled dogs, and a kitten that aspires to one day become a Chihuahua.
Presented by: Savannah J. Frierson
Date: March 1 – 31, 2022 (one month)
Pricing: A2P Member fee: $15
Non-A2P Member fee: $30
This publishing primer course will introduce processes of writing, paths to market, and prices (and costs) of publishing. Though this workshop is geared toward beginners, this can also be a great refresher course for seasoned authors, or for authors who are interested in hybrid publishing and what that can entail. The course will guide participants along the paths of publishing—from the beginning with a single idea to the end when the idea has become a book gone to market. We will discuss topics such as: how to get started with writing the book project; pre-market preparations and plans (i.e., editing, researching, publishing); and the investments involved with the publishing path chosen.
Savannah J. Frierson is a USA TODAY best-selling author, editor, proofreader, and publishing consultant with nearly 20 years of experience in the publishing industry. As an author, Savannah crafts full, happily-ever-afters for readers who believe transcendent romances are worth the wait. As a book publishing professional, Savannah has worked with Big Five publishers, independent publishers, and individual clients. She aims to make the publishing experience a little less overwhelming for clients regardless of where they are in their publishing journeys.
My husband, Will Zeilinger, and I co-write the thrillers of INTERNATIONAL MYSTERY SERIES, as E. J. Williams. Our tales transport the reader from 1962 Southern California to various international locales. In the first new book of the series, STONE PUB, we find ourselves in County Cork, Ireland.
Planning the series, then planning the individual novel in the series takes a great deal of time. It is so easy to get stuck on one idea and not move ahead. The two of us had MANY ideas we threw around.
So, we implemented deadlines—not just for writing (which needs to happen) but at the planning stage … making decisions.
For example, “By the next meeting follow, we will decide on:”
1) Romantic scene, when, where, and with who.
2) Car chase: where will it take place and who is chasing whom, etc. Once we agree on these details, one of us writes the scene, and the other adds to it.
Beware of analysis/paralysis. We knew of a co-writing team who couldn’t agree on the names of the characters, not just one but all. Their writing ground to a halt for months!
Remember that your mutual goal is to write a good story.
The takeaway: When writing together, plan your approach.
Remember… the crucial thing is to write a good story. So, stay tuned … there is more to come.
STONE PUB is the first in the series, and yes … we are still married!
This character, Tall T Reynolds, is growing in my mind. I can see him tanned and raw and a bit dusty. I know his world is the 1940’s rural west and I know he’s going to briefly meet Lottie, a beautiful girl in a gleaming open topped coupe. Their brief exchange will never leave his mind. Soon after, Tall T will go off to war in Europe. He and Lottie will meet again in a most unexpected way.
I want these two MCs to be drawn as very different in all ways but the heart. I want to show those differences subtly and naturally. I want to tell the story mostly in dialog, no long narratives, no narrative tells. I know that means voice and tone will have to be pitch perfect so it’s language that shows their differences, that makes each wholly human and credible. I thought about using dialect but rejected the idea. I don’t trust my skills to pull that off successfully. Besides, they are both smart and fairly well educated. This is not a rustic pauper gets the princess story. Still, they are from very different worlds – until they’re not.
After rummaging about a bit in the writer’s toolbox, I’m thinking slang as a way to initially set them apart and ultimately bring them together. Slang is an interesting critter. It’s a very flexible tool. It’s hard to pin down what is slang and what isn’t. Slang changes so fast. Yesterday’s ‘far out’ is today’s ‘snatched’, but it’s pretty clear what slang does for us. The casual use of slang terms show we’re in the know, we belong to that group who understands what it is to ‘I oop’. More to my purposes, slang is a shared affinity of age and disposition and attitude.
Slang can be subversive, playful, derisive, affectionate, even endearing – all such very human qualities – and human is what I want to show in circumstances that aren’t all that humane. Ever changing, almost updating itself to fit shifting circumstances slang morphs from common terms to become familiar to a community who is living and sharing shifting circumstances. How else explain today’s use of ‘ghost’? Slang can turn meaning topsy turvy, assigning an opposite meaning to words – an effective response to a world that feels turned upside down. To say you ‘destroyed’ something today certainly doesn’t mean to me what it means to a teen.
Because slang is a hallmark of a shared, exclusive world it’s the perfect devise to reinforce the journey of Tall T and Lottie through the chaos of a world war to a shared reality. They will be tested in ways they’ve never imagined in a world where familiar conventions don’t always apply and time can be frightfully short. At their first meeting, Lottie’s language will baffle Tall T; he will know from that brief exchange that they are from very different worlds. By the end, they will share an unspoken understanding of how fubar life can be. They’ll both know the world is cockeyed and with one exchange of peepers they’ll know where to meet because they have all the dope on the good places. They are people with plenty of moxie who become each other’s killer diller.
I will be careful though. I don’t want them to sound like they’re trying too hard to be cool, or are too stupid to express themselves in any other way. I want to salt the slang effectively, add just that kick of heat a touch of chili adds to a good stew. Like seasoning, I’m going to need a deft hand. I can imagine how clumsy a slang word could feel, or how tiresome the overuse could become. There’s a lot of revision ahead for me if I’m going to Keep it 100. Forewarned is forearmed. I’ll stop beating my gums now and immerse myself in the slang of The Greatest Generation. Roger. Wilco.
Happy New Year. I hope you had a wonderful holiday.
This morning I woke up to a daunting historical fact. Five years ago, I made a rather strange decision or idea to publish a title a month for a year. I’ve spoken about this project several times over the past years. When I set out to do it, I had one main reason, to sell more books.
I heard the best way to gain readers and sell more books was to write more books. I also heard it was easier to do advertising with more than one book.
When 2016 started I had one full-length novel, a novella and a novelette. What I didn’t have was a completed series, or at least a duet. I now know that was a big mistake. If I were to ever do another challenge like that, it would center around one series.
I have learned a lot about writing and publishing books. I think I finally have a handle on my writing style and what my readers expect from me. I write books that aren’t necessarily written to market. In my books someone is always wrestling with their feelings, raging hormones and how they mix with their faith. I like to hook my reader with something a little sweet and sassy so they can get to know the characters. The heat levels grow as the series progresses. In my writing world, the characters need to read like real people. It should feel like you’re reading about someone the reader would actually know.
I have three series and two duets I need to tie up. I’m not saying I’m going to tie up all of these collections this year, but I’m going to try.
I’m also guilty of using cliffhangers…another thing I tried to sell books. I think it would have been successful if I’d immediately released the next book in the series.
Last year I didn’t release a book and my sales suffered as a result. What did I learn from this…no new book and a lack of marketing my backlist leads to no money. I did however, participate in some incredible free promotions which gave me awesome results. My book Unexpected Love was #1 in one of my categories on Amazon US and UK for three days. I was on the roof. Both of my other books peaked in the top ten of their categories.
These promotions yielded several thousand downloads and sales which I loved.
I take responsibility for my low sales, because I failed to do adequate marketing and advertising. I refuse to kick myself for not sticking to my production schedule. I was distracted by a little thing called COVID-19.
So what is my plan for this year? I’m not quite sure. I know I’ll be releasing a book in February. My goal is to release the next in that series approximately three months later. I’ll also be releasing new covers for my Alex series as well as another book.
The other thing on my list is the follow up to Unexpected Love. I have the cover, title and eleven thousand words. Seeing several free copies have been downloaded and it ends in a cliffhanger, I need to release the follow up asap.
Before I start any writing plan for 2021, I’m going to take a few days, clear my head and make a reachable and achievable plan.
So what’s your author plan for 2021?
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