WRITERLY WISDOM: Donna L Martin

 

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GIVING YOUR REVISIONS THE 1-2-3 PUNCH OF SUCCESS!!

by Donna L Martin

 

In November 2015 I challenged myself to write a novel in one month and LUNADAR: HOMEWARD BOUND was born. In December 2018 I challenged myself to create an early reader chapter book series based on historical events and HISTORY’S MYSTERIES: Ship of Dreams was born. In May 2019 I challenged myself to write book two in the series and HISTORY’S MYSTERIES: The Chocolate Train Wreck was born. Now I’m researching my historical facts for book three, HISTORY’S MYSTERIES: Hunting Gris-Gris. As writers, some of us may think we can create the perfect masterpiece the first time we lay fingers to keyboard, but for the rest of us, we know where there’s writing there’s revisions.

You can either play it safe and do a quick once-over before you say revisions are done or you can give your manuscript the actual 1-2-3 punch it needs to give it the best chance to attract the attention of an agent or publisher.

 

PUNCH ONE…STANDING ON YOUR HEAD

 

One way to revise your story is by changing how you view things. You don’t really have to stand on your head to look at things in a new way. Change the setting. Pick an alternate point of view. Even write a new beginning. Lying on the floor will give you another view of the world so why not stand your manuscript on it’s head and see what you can see differently from down there?

 

PUNCH TWO…PLAYING WELL WITH OTHERS

 

Solitaire may be a game best played alone but when it comes to writing, it’s not as solitary an endeavor as one might think…or at least it shouldn’t be. If you have taken the time to become friends with other writerly types you have access to potential critique partners. Two sets of eyes can catch a lot of things going wrong with a story but twelve sets of eyes might even be better. Taking the time to cultivate CP relationships gives your manuscript its best chance of becoming polished perfection.

 

PUNCH THREE…BECOMING EDWARD SCISSORHANDS

 

Don’t you love it when Edward Scissorhands takes the time to create those beautiful ice sculptures? He’s not afraid someone might laugh at him. He’s not worried about the outcome because he’s confident the end result justifies what it takes to get there. Don’t be afraid to leave unnecessary words on the cutting room floor. Don’t hesitate to kill one of your darlings or even rewrite the entire first chapter of your manuscript if that’s what it takes to make that baby shine!

No one ever said writing would be easy. No one ever said the path to publication was lined with simple solutions to achieve that coveted book contract. But then, again, no one’s ever said we writers aren’t fabulous WORD WARRIORS capable of executing perfect prose if we put our minds to it, so grab your story and treat it to a 1-2-3 punch of success!

 

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books

They make great stocking stuffers!

HISTORY’S MYSTERIES: Ship of Dreams
HISTORY’S MYSTERIES: The Chocolate Train Wreck

 

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donna - Copy

 

Best selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest chapter book series is called HISTORY’S MYSTERIES. Book One, Ship of Dreams, is available in eBook and print form from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and other online retailers. Also, coming to the Titanic Museums in Branson, Missouri, and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Book Two, A Chocolate Train Wreck, was released in November.

 

WRITERLY WISDOM: Donna L Martin

***This is PART ONE of a five part series to uncover some myths about becoming a published author. Make sure to come back next week and find out more insider secrets about the writing industry!***

 

5 Common Myths About Getting Published, Part One

by: Donna L Martin

 

There are a lot of misconceptions floating around beginner writers about just what it takes to become a published author. If you are a new writer just starting out you might even think there is only one set formula guaranteeing your success at capturing the attention of a publisher.

You would be wrong.

Since 2010 I have dedicated my efforts to becoming a professional writer. It hasn’t been easy and I’ve made my fair share of mistakes. Below you’ll find the first common writing myth I uncovered along the way to publication.

 

MYTH #1…YOU HAVE TO HAVE A DEGREE IN WRITING TO GET PUBLISHED

 

When I first decided to become more serious about my writing I actually thought I would have to go back to school and get a degree in writing before I could call myself a writer. I began looking at different colleges offering courses in writing and quickly realized I didn’t have the money to pursue a degree. Then I checked out other workshops, seminars, conferences, and classes offered to help improve my writing skills…only to realize I couldn’t afford them either. Did that mean I had to give up my dream of becoming published?

No.

It just meant I had to become creative. The first thing I did was go the library and check out all the writing books they had. Then I went to local bookstores and added to my collection. Finally I trolled the Internet, researching different websites and blogs until I had a number of free or inexpensive resources at my fingertips. Finally I actually took the time to read and study what the experts were already showing me about what’s necessary to become a serious writer.

The more I read, the more I began to understand and the stronger my stories became. I learned every story needs an engaging hook to begin with, a strong middle foundation to pull the audience along, and an unexpected ending to surprise, delight, or connect with the reader so it will leave them wanting more. I also learned no matter how good you think you are as a writer, there is always someone better. There will always be opportunities to learn something new and always others generous enough to share their writerly wisdom with you. Your job is to get out there and find them.

Here are just some of the books I have collected over the years…

Author 101: Best Selling Nonfiction by Rick Fristman & Robyn reedman Spizman

On Writing by Stephen King

The Productive Writer by Sage Cohen

20 Master Plots and How To Build Them by Ronald B Tobias

The Writer’s Book of Wisdom: 101 rules For Mastering Your Craft by Steven Taylor Goldsberry

You Can Write Children’s Books by Tracey E Dils

Writing Down The Bones by Natalie Goldberg

Writing For Young Adults by Sherry Garland

What are some of the books or websites you have used in your writing career? Comment below and be sure to come back next week as I uncover another writing myth.

 

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donna

 

International best selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest book, LUNADAR: Homeward Bound (a YA fantasy), is now available in eBook and print form from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and other online retailers.

THOUGHTFUL THURSDAY: The Rules of Three

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There is the belief in fiction writing that a great storyline must include the main character attempting to overcome some enormous obstacle multiple times before they are finally allowed to succeed. It doesn’t even matter whether the trouble comes from outside sources or is one of their own making. Readers have a hard time relating to some perfect role model leading a perfectly normal life…there is something hinky or just not right about characters like that which makes even the most liberal of editors pass on a manuscript. But give that same main character a way to struggle within themselves or tackle the world around them where they have the chance to subtly learn a life lesson at the end of the day and readers will beg for more…and so will your editor.

With that idea in mind, when I made the decision to become a professional writer a few years ago, I created my own RULES OF THREE I follow when I’m working on a new manuscript or even revising an old one:

 

RULE NUMBER ONE

 

Make the challenges and solutions believable. Unless you are writing pure fantasy and have created a world where anything goes, your story needs to make sense to your intended reading audience. I started a picture book story once where my main character wanted to win a costume contest. A simple enough idea any child can relate to. But if I wrote the plot where his mother gives him a store bought suit guaranteed to take first prize where was the conflict? Where was the struggle to overcome the core problem of the story? So I made him watch others take the coveted prize in previous years while I had him weep for his failures. I had him try different ways to come out on top but each time he fell short until he wanted to give up the fight. Only then did I dangle the solution in front of his nose and allow for that AH-HA moment where main character and reader figure out together how to win the prize. Engage the emotions of your audience with real-life connections and they will hang on every word you write.

 

RULE NUMBER TWO

 

Writing isn’t for the faint of heart. Learn to take chances. Think outside the box. Ask yourself all those what-if and I-wonder-what-would-happen questions. Don’t be afraid to dig deep inside yourself and be vulnerable on the page. Remember rule number one? Your writing has to be believable and in order to do that you need to connect with your reader. Once you have polished your story as much as you can, don’t be afraid to let others critique it. I can verbally castrate myself all day long about how bad one of my stories may be or even worse, shower myself with false praise on becoming the next Mercer Mayer or J K Rowling. But until I am brave enough to let my words stand up to the critical eyes of my peers, I will never really know my strengths or weaknesses as a writer. At some point, I have to take that leap of faith and place my “baby” in the hands of people I trust to give me honest (if sometimes painful) feedback on how to make my story shine like a diamond. Only then can I think about rule number three.

 

RULE NUMBER THREE

 

It’s one step back and three steps forward. Everything I do concerning my writing is planned to constantly move me forward in this new career of mine. I’m now in my ninth year of writing professionally and I am constantly submitting my work in the hopes of gaining the attention of an agent who sees the same strengths in my writing as I do. The first year I researched and read as much as I could about the industry itself. I followed the advice of wise authors who came before me and worked hard to overcome my own weaknesses as a novice writer. Year two found me deep in the creative side of things where I wrote numerous stories, entered contests, created this blog, and widened my circle of friends within this writing community. While I work on building the foundation of my own career, I get to celebrate the successes of those ahead of me on this path to publication. I keep in mind it’s one step back and three steps forward every time I send one of my “babies” into the world. For every ONE rejection email or letter I receive, I send my story to THREE more agents. I carefully consider any encouraging comments they made but I don’t allow those rejections to stop my dream. I don’t take it personally and when they say it wasn’t a fit for them, I simply take that leap of faith again and send my story back out in the hopes one day an agent will take notice. Perseverance and patience go a long way in this business.

I’m not saying there aren’t days when I’m afraid I’ll never make a success out of this career. And I’m not saying I have the perfect solution to the challenge of becoming published. But I do know there are moments of greatness in all of us…moments when our fingers fly over the keyboard to create a little magic much needed in the world we live in today. So why not have a little fun along the way?

 

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Ruler by day, a reluctant pirate by night, 18-year-old Princess Ariana fights for her subjects in the waterfall city of LUNADAR. In a kingdom surrounded by fairies and mermaids, and ravaged by deadly Drundles, only a chosen few are trusted to guard her daughter, Candra, as the secret heir to the throne.

But it only takes one ill-fated meeting for Ariana to suddenly be plunged into an escalating web of secrets found in her father’s journal, a deadly kidnapping, and an ever-weakening resolve to turn her back on the call of the merman’s song.

With Ariana’s world falling apart and the future of LUNADAR at stake, how will she bring her father’s murderer to justice and fulfill a deathbed promise to protect Lunadar’s legacy?

 

donna

 

International best selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest book, LUNADAR: Homeward Bound (a YA fantasy), is now available in ebook and print form from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and other online retailers.

THOUGHTFUL THURSDAY: The Vikings Are Coming!

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Everyone comes from somewhere. My ancestors on my father’s side came from Cajun stock. My mother’s ancestors hailed from Scots-Irish and Cherokee blood. All my life I was made well aware of where I came from. The only problem…I spent many years not quite knowing where I was going…

I kinda like the history of the Vikings. Yeah, there is that whole bloody pillage thing, but when you get to know them a little bit better you find they were a vibrant people with a strong definition of both where they came from and even better, where they were going. And where they were going was into the great unknown where they had the chance to change the course of history.

Kinda sounds like the life and times of writers, doesn’t it? I mean, if we truly want to call ourselves writers, we must be willing to step out into the unknown. To step foot on that ship bound for publication and eagerly travel uncharted waters in search of a way to leave our mark on the world.

The Vikings encountered adversity and so will we. It just comes in a different form. Writer’s block, insecurity, rejection letters, deadlines, self-publishing…the list can be endless and yet, so can our faith in ourselves. Faith in our ability to charm the world with our words. Faith there is indeed someone out there who believes in us as well. Faith that one day we might do as the Vikings did when they conquered new lands and step into our own new worlds as published authors.

Let’s just not get too carried away…

 

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Week Four

 
***DON’T FORGET! It’s week four of THE TWELVE WEEKS OF LUNADAR giveaway and this week you get a chance to win the audiobook DARK CURSE by Christine Feehan shown above! Just click on the pile of presents to the right of this post and choose how you would like to enter the FREE giveaway. Winners will be announced every Monday in my INDIE AUTHOR’S JOURNEY post, so enter the FREE giveaway and check next Monday to see if you’ve won!***

 
***ALSO…it’s not too late to tell all your educator or school librarian friends about their chance to pick up a FREE copy of LUNADAR: Homeward Bound during my LUNADAR Pay It Forward FREE giveaway! I’m giving away THOUSANDS of ebook copies between now and Friday, November 2nd, in exchange for an honest review on Amazon. All they have to do is send me a Facebook message or email with their valid email address and I will send them their FREE copy, along with a copy of the LUNADAR map I sketched. Hurry and share the good news about this FREE ebook giveaway before time runs out!***

 

LUNADAR cover jpg

 

Ruler by day, a reluctant pirate by night, 18-year-old Princess Ariana fights for her subjects in the waterfall city of LUNADAR. In a kingdom surrounded by fairies and mermaids, and ravaged by deadly Drundles, only a chosen few are trusted to guard her daughter, Candra, as the secret heir to the throne.

But it only takes one ill-fated meeting for Ariana to suddenly be plunged into an escalating web of secrets found in her father’s journal, a deadly kidnapping, and an ever-weakening resolve to turn her back on the call of the merman’s song.

With Ariana’s world falling apart and the future of LUNADAR at stake, how will she bring her father’s murderer to justice and fulfill a deathbed promise to protect Lunadar’s legacy?

 

donna

 

International best selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest book, LUNADAR: Homeward Bound (a YA fantasy), is now available in ebook or print edition through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million and other online retailers.

THOUGHTFUL THURSDAY: I Want To Join The Circus!

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I think my writing career has given me the perfect opportunity to cross train for another career I’ve always wanted to try my hand at.

I wanna join the circus!

 

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I can sit as patiently as any elephant…believe me I know because I sit a lot. Waiting for an idea to come. Wondering if today is the day my muse will create a masterpiece. Watching the mailbox and hoping today there will be an acceptance letter in the mail for me.

 

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Maybe they would have a place for me as a balancing act? I’m pretty good at juggling a full time job, home life, a writing career, starting a publishing company, and maybe a little ME time, so I’m sure I could do the job!

 

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And if it’s jumping through hoops they need me to do…I’m there! I’m already jumping through them as I make sure everything is perfect for the debut novel being released from Story Catcher Publishing in October.

The circus can be an exciting career choice.

So can writing.

I figure it’s all what you put into it. I just don’t want to end up like him…

 

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lunadar

 

Ruler by day, a reluctant pirate by night, 18-year-old Princess Ariana fights for her subjects in the waterfall city of Lunadar. In a kingdom surrounded by fairies and mermaids, and ravaged by deadly Drundles, only a chosen few are trusted to guard her daughter, Candra, as the secret heir to the throne.

But it only takes one ill-fated meeting for Ariana to suddenly be plunged into an escalating web of secrets found in her father’s journal, a deadly kidnapping, and an ever-weakening resolve to turn her back on the call of the merman’s song.

With Ariana’s world falling apart and the future of Lunadar at stake, how will she bring her father’s murderer to justice and fulfill a deathbed promise to protect Lunadar’s legacy?

 

donna

 

International best selling, award winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest book, LUNADAR: Homeward Bound (a YA fantasy), ebook edition, is now available from Amazon, with the print edition coming October 15, 2018.

AN INDIE AUTHOR’S JOURNEY: The Cost of Painful Mistakes

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I’m delving into the world of indie publishing. Some authors go the quicker route and use a source like CreateSpace or Kindle Direct to immediately get their books out there.

There’s nothing wrong going that route, but I’ve decided to take a different path.

After hours…days and weeks even…of reading and editing, and editing and reading once more…I had LUNADAR formatted and files ready to convert to both Print on Demand and ebook file. Here is the path I took,

 

FORMATING…

 

I heard many horror stories about the challenges of formatting my own manuscript. Apparently Word has issues when manually trying to format it for ebooks or print on demand books if you are technologically challenged like I am. I decided to  go with Book Design Templates www.bookdesigntemplates.com, a formatting software program for everything from picture books to full length novels. The copy/paste feature made it super easy to format my Word manuscript to a PDF file I could then use for the next step in the publishing process.

 

EBOOK…

 

I chose to buy my own individual ISBN numbers and Bowker (www.bowker.com) is the ONLY approved ISBN source in the United States. They also provide other editing/publishing sources like Ebook Creator, which I used to convert my PDF file into an ebook file. I read…edited…edited again…reread again and thought everything was perfect when I pushed the send button.

I was wrong.

Shortly after hitting that button I realized I’d overlooked some grammar errors in my manuscript. I tried to retrieve the ebook file I’d sent to Bowker for processing, but to no avail. It will cost me $50 per hour per line edit if I use them to fix my dumb mistakes. A costly lesson in the finer points of self publishing, but far better for me to learn it now, rather than later when I have multiple books to convert. I needed an alternative to creating the ebook file as I couldn’t afford to go the Bowker Ebook Creator service again, and I have discovered Calibre (www.calibre-ebook.com) It was easy to install and we will see how easy it will be to convert..

 

PRINT…

 

IngramSpark is the number one distributor in the United States as well as most of the world. They will distribute all Print On Demand as well as Ebooks to over 30,000 online bookstores, brick and mortar stores, and libraries around the globe, as well as numerous ebook options. Once my formatting software program converted the Word document to a PDF format, it easily uploaded to IngramSpark’s request for print. I have offered a wholesale discount to retails interested in taking a chance on my book, and IngramSpark will take a portion of the profit for being my distributor. 

I don’t plan on becoming a millionaire writing books, but would like to establish STORY CATCHER PUBLISHING as a strong, small publishing house with a good foundation so in a year or two I can expand my publishing goals (more about THAT later…)

 

Author Profile Pic

International best selling, award winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest book, LUNADAR: Homeward Bound (a YA fantasy) is scheduled to be released in ebook edition by June 2018 from Story Catcher Publishing, with the print edition hopefully coming out late fall 2018.

 

 

An Indie Author’s Journal: The Roadmap

 

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Eight years ago I crossed the line from amateur writer to professional author with the publication of my first story. At the time, I thought the only viable route to publication was the traditional one. I spent the next eight years in search of traditional agents, editors, and publishers. Many lessons were learned and somewhere along the way my feelings about the indie world changed.

I’m a perfectionist at heart (what serious writer isn’t?) and I began to wonder if I could produce as good a product…if not better…than some of the books I’ve seen published over the years.

So I began to do some research.

And I took the time to really think about what I wanted from this experience.

Did I want to simply throw my name on some slapped together ebook so I could tell the world I added another published book to my writing resume?

No.

So, I decided I needed a roadmap to take me on my journey into the world of indie publishing. A checklist or step by step guide to take my young adult fantasy novel LUNADAR: HOMEWARD BOUND from completed manuscript to published ebook and paperback version via print on demand (POD).

STEP ONE:

Create a strong website to support my blog, any future book releases, and  my overall author platform. 

I’ve been a Blogger fan for many years under www.donnalmartin.com, but it didn’t offer me all the plugins and technology support I felt I needed going forward as an indie author. I’ve since switched to a WordPress format. I paid the $100 per year to have access to the upgraded site and really like how my new website looks. Check it out at www.storycatcherpublishing.com

Next week I’ll share the next step I took on the road to indie publishing, including giving you a sneak peak of the book trailer I will use for LUNADAR. My target release date is the Spring of next year and my goal is to prove to myself, more than anyone else, that my new company, Story Catcher Publishing, can produce a great quality book on a poor gal’s budget. I’ll list my costs along the way and you’ll be the judge of how well I did once you see the finished book.

With a little luck and a lot of hard work, my hope is to continue “catching” and sharing great stories…together!

 

Author Profile Pic

 

International best selling, award winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection.