Friday, September 30, 2016

It's Not About Luck (Part 1)

by Kimberly Loth @kimberlyloth
Indie Author Hub Member

With several new novels out in the world, I feel like I’ve finally arrived as an author. I have a good start on three series and people in my circle are starting to take notice. A phrase I hear all the time is—“Wow, you’re so lucky that you get to follow your dreams.” That phrase is almost always followed with—“How do you do it?”

Most people ask that question because in addition to writing and publishing books, I’m also a full time middle school math teacher. I can attribute this to three things. Hard work, support, and faith. I’m going to write about them in three separate posts.

Here’s what my day typically looks like:
  •   4:30 am: Alarm goes off and I hit snooze.
  •   4:45 am: I get up, check my email and facebook notifications (most of which are book related). I take care of anything urgent and grab a cup of hot chocolate.
  •   5:00 am: Head back to my room where I don’t have any Internet reception and write for two hours.
  •   7:00 am: Get ready for work
  •   7:45 am: Eat breakfast with my husband at this cute French cafĂ© close to my work. It’s a rare time for us to sit and talk without any other distractions.
  •   8:15 am: Arrive at work, answer other emails and things that I couldn’t do in the wee hours of the morning.
  •   8:30 am: School starts. I teach math. And answer a lot of questions.
  •   Morning break/Lunch: Deal with more emails. If I have time, I work on marketing.
  •   4:00: Schools out—Time to start my marketing work. (This is complex and there’s a lot of it.)
  •   6:00: Arrive home. Make dinner and hang with my family.
  •   7:00: Watch crime dramas with my husband and teenagers. It’s my favorite part of the day because really it’s the only time I’m not working.
  •   8:30: Head to bed and read until I can’t keep my eyes open anymore, usually around 9:30
  •   And it starts all over again the next day.
I will often work on book stuff all day on Saturdays as well. About once a month my husband will force me to go do something fun on a Saturday. And I love him for it.

Sundays are my no work day. I’ll still check my emails and facebook, but that’s my day to go to church and spend time with my family. It’s my favorite day of the week.

I know some people might wonder why I bother if it’s so much work. But I wouldn’t trade this work for anything. I love every second of it. I’m passionate about my books and publishing. I do it because I love sharing my stories with the world. For so many years they were stuck only in my head and now they are out there and people are reading them and to my great surprise, people like them.  I’m curious, what is something you are willing to work your tail off for? What’s your passion?

This is Part 1 of a three-part series first posted at

Kimberly Loth can’t decide where she wants to settle down. She’s lived in Michigan, Illinois, Missouri, Utah, California, Oregon, and South Carolina.She finally decided to make the leap and leave the U.S. behind for a few years. After living in Cairo, Egypt for 2 years, she’s decided to go to the Far East and currently calls Shenzhen, China home. She loves romantic movies, chocolate, roses, and crazy adventures.

You can find Kimberly on her website, her Author Page on Facebook, and on Twitter at @kimberlyloth

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Writing Fiction: Story Goal

by Rebecca Talley  @rebeccatalley
Indie Author Hub Executive Committee Chair

The main character in a novel must have a goal. He must have something he works toward, something he desperately wants, and if he does not obtain that something his life will not be the same.

Every novel should have a story goal and that goal should be clearly stated for the reader. In my novel, Heaven Scent, Liza is the main character. Her father has become obsessed with his career and has seemingly abandoned his family. Liza desperately wants her father back in her life. She wants her family to be as it once was. Throughout the book, she works toward the goal of trying to restore her family to its once happy state. In the first chapter, Liza clearly states this goal and she continues to restate it throughout the book.

Readers need to know what the goal is and what’s at stake if the goal is not obtained. Without a clear story goal, the reader gets lost and never fully engages with the story.

To determine the story goal you need to know what it is that your character wants. A new job? A husband? A child? A new house? Fame? Riches?

Once you know what your character wants, you need to know why. Why is this goal so important? What’s the underlying reason the character wants this goal? In Recovering Charles by Jason Wright, the main character, Luke Millward, wants to reconcile with his father. His search to do so leads him to New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina. Throughout the book, the reader wonders if Luke will be able to move beyond the past and repair his relationship with his father.

The story goal, or the desire to achieve it, propels the story forward. Without one, the story will flounder and finally fizzle. As a writer, you must be aware of the story goal and design smaller, scene goals that work toward the overall story goal.

Make sure your story has a clearly defined goal and you’ll not only have an easier time writing toward it, you’ll have readers anxious to read to the end to see if the character accomplished his goal.

Rebecca grew up next to the ocean in Santa Barbara, California. She spent her youth at the beach collecting sea shells and building sandcastles. She graduated from high school and left for college, where she met and married her sweetheart, Del.

Del and Rebecca are the sometimes frazzled, but always grateful, parents of ten wildly-creative and multi-talented children and the grandparents of the most adorable little girls in the universe.

After spending nineteen years in rural Colorado with horses, cows, sheep, goats, rabbits, and donkeys, Rebecca and her family moved to a suburb of Houston, Texas, where she spends most of her time in the pool trying to avoid the heat and humidity. When she isn't in the pool, she loves to date her husband, play with her kids, swim in the ocean, redecorate her house, and dance to disco music while she cleans the house.

Rebecca has always loved to write and has authored novels, stories for print and online magazines, and children's books. She now focuses on writing romance because she believes everyone deserves their happily-ever-after.

You can find Rebecca on her website, her author page on FaceBook, and on Twitter at @rebeccatalley.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Keeping Track of Word Counts

by Marsha Ward @MarshaWard
[Most of this post was previously published on The Ink Ladies Blog on August 21, 2010. It has been mildly edited for updates.]

I've been busy, believe it or not. As I drown in slip-sliding paper falling toward me and my fingers on the keyboard (most of which I could shred, once I extract the odd computer disk, wedding announcement, and hardback book from the pile), it occurs to me that I could share how I keep track of my word count as I write.

Now understand, this can be as complex or as simple as I want to make it. I can use the Excel chart my friend J. Scott Savage sent me several years ago that nags me incessantly, or I can add and subtract words as I write and edit, or I can keep a simple running tally at the beginning and the end of my writing day. I kind of like the simple style nowadays, so I'll tell you how that last thing works.

I love the 9.5 inch by 6 inch one-subject notebooks for this task. They're not so big as to be in the way, and not so small as to disappear amidst the rubble on my desk. I open it up and draw three equally-spaced lines down the page. This gives me two sections of columns to fill up.

In the left-most column, at the top, I put the date. I can put anything else in the nature of notes in that column, like the times I start and end, the scene or chapter I'm working on, and how many hours I work. I see I have a notation saying slippery elm bark and chamomile tea. Ha! I know what scene that one was!

The second column is where I put the beginning word count opposite the date. If I'm starting fresh, this is zero. If I want to, I can add the word count when I do a save, when I get up for lunch, or what-not (I usually only put down the last three digits, or hundreds). The last figure I put in that column is the final word count of the day, unless I want to do a total of words written underneath it. I finish the day with a horizontal line drawn under all the notes for the day, in both columns.

The other section of two columns is for when I get to the bottom of the page. You knew that, right?

How do you find your word count at the beginning and end of the writing period?

If you're writing your novel or other kind of piece in Word, click on the menu item called Review, then highlight all your text (Ctrl+A). In the far left section, look for Word Count. Click it, and you'll have a rough estimate of your words. I say "rough," because it will count every asterisk (*) and Chapter Heading, but it's good enough for starters. Do this again when you quit for the day, and you have the second count.

Actually, if you want an even simpler method, just look at the bottom of your Word document, on the left. If you have Word 2010 or newer, the word count is already there for you.

Or, you can use the software program I use. I bet some of you chimed in with "Scrivener," but no, what I use is similar but FREE! It's called yWriter5. It, too, gives me the total word count of the project at the bottom of the main window (as well as words written that day when I'm finished), so I check the word count when I begin and when I end, and put those numbers in my notebook at start and end of day. Actually, since I belong to a couple of accountability groups, I also note the total words written that day in my notebook so I can report.

yWriter5 and its antecedents were written by novelist and computer programmer Simon Haynes of Australia. He couldn't find a writing software that suited his needs, so he wrote it. He updates it quite often, sometimes to meet suggestions of users, but it's a lean program written to use few resources of your machine. It even runs off a flash drive, so it's highly portable.

You can find yWriter5 at (Hal Spacejock is the hero of Simon's futuristic sci-fi series). There are several other useful programs to be found there, as well as a link to the  how-to wiki created by the folks in the next paragraph.

This software is free, not only no-cost, but free of nasty surprises like virii, Trojan horses, and other malware. There's an active community of users in a Google group who support each other. The old hands answer the questions of the newbies, and Simon occasionally pops in, too.

I really like yWriter5, not only to keep track of my word count, but for ease of writing a scene at a time (which is about all my brain can fathom at one time).

How do you keep track of your word counts?