New Service: 1 Hour Book Chat!

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I don’t have to tell you that a great writing buddy or critique partner is an invaluable relationship for every author.

Kate and I have a great writing relationship, but I realize that finding someone who will read your work and apply genre-specific knowledge to their critique is hard to find.

That’s why I came up with the 1 Hour Book Chat!

1-HOUR BOOK CHAT|$50

This is designed for those times when you just need to talk through difficult plot points. In the mini-coaching you will get a 1-hour video chat or phone call that will cover:

• overall readability, including tropes and genre expectations

• In-depth character dissection using archetypes and GMC (goal, motivation, conflict), dialogue, and if requested, cultural sensitivity

• Three-act plot structure to make sure your story begins at the right point in your timeline, doesn’t sag in the middle, or fail to reach a satisfying ending

• Scheduled copyedit for your completed manuscript at a 30% discounted price!

Think of this service as a book chat with your new favorite writing buddy.

Batching, Productivity & Processes: a #NaNoWriMo2018 wrap-up post

If you’ve been following me any amount of time, you probably already know that I treat #NaNoWriMo as a time to create and test new processes. This year was no different.

This year instead of writing a new novel, I decided to plot.

And fellow word-makers, it was the smartest thing I’ve ever done. What made me decide to do this? Well, I finally started implementing all of that good advice I read and listened to about getting my shit done. Completely wild, right? Imagine buying and read 20 odd books on being an entrepreneur and downloading fifty-eleven podcasts on entrepreneurship and never implementing a thing? Don’t say you heard it from me, but I’m pretty sure that someone we know is guilty of that shit.

I’m the someone we know, you guys. That someone is me.

What is batching?

Batching is a productivity and time management hack that is designed to maximize concentration and decrease distraction. As a result, it increases your productivity, creativity, and mental sharpness, while decreasing the fatigue, procrastination, and stress that comes with creating content. For this particular post, let’s call that content BOOKS.

There are lots of ways to batch, but the one that I use exclusively is the Pomodoro Technique. The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. There are lots of free tools to get you started. I use an app called Focus Keeper but this free desktop version is good, too. It’s free on iTunes. After spending some time deciding what I want to work on and choosing one of my meditation apps, I get to work!

How batching helped me plot like a bawse.

Okay, now that I’ve explained batching and how I use it for productivity and time management, here’s how I applied it to my process to make plotting and planning more efficient, and dare I say, fun!

Back in October, I published a The Basic Character Creation Workbook. This is a stripped down version of my character creation process, which because I was simply laying the groundwork for novels that I want to write in the future, is a great baseline. I’m the sort of writer who’s plotting and planning process lives in character development. If I get hung up somewhere in my book, I can almost guarantee that it’s because of something I don’t know about my characters. Shit gets real sketch if I skip or skimp on this part of the process. It hurts when I do that so I don’t do that.

Also in the month of October (aka Preptober) I did a blog series called 11 Days & 11 Ways to Plot Your Novel. I’ve always known there were different ways to plot a novel, but researching all of the different ways was very eye-opening and informative. It also encouraged me to fully incorporate Romancing The Beat, a plotting process that I’ve been implementing in small doses but never making a full commitment.

Using these tools I chose four books that I wanted to plot and plan and then I created a schedule to make actionable. There was a bit of a SNAFU at the beginning because NaNoPlotMo didn’t start on a Monday. Not gonna lie…that stressed me the fuck out. I didn’t want to start in the middle of the week but I didn’t want to lose four days of work on these projects either. As luck would have it, I picked up a small editing job that filled those four days so it all worked out.

Please excuse my neuroses. Here is the schedule:

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What did I accomplish?

I plotted and planned four short novels:

  • A Secret Baby/My Best Friend’s Sister romance which is the first in a series spinoff from The Truth Duet
  • A Submissive Male/Friends to Lovers Romance, which is a standalone novel from The Lust Diaries world)
  • My VIRGIN HERO book. You guys, this is basically competence porn with handy-woman and an eager inexperienced guy and I lived for every word of this plotting because these two…PHEW! They’re gonna be hot and adorable, you guys.
  • My NOLA LOVE NOVEL which will be modern gothic romance that I can’t wait to dive into.

What did I learn?

Like always, focusing on writing during #NaNoWriMo gives me a huge boost of motivation. I work with authors all the time, and while that is fun, it doesn’t allow me to focus on my own writing in the way I would like. Batching my novel planning process was clutch and it allowed me to take care of my ideas so that I don’t get Big Magic’d.

I also gained more faith and belief in my current process. Probably need to find some wood to knock on before I type this, but I think I’m getting close to perfection with this thing. *Fingers crossed*

How about you? Did you win #NaNoWriMo? Did you discover something new about your process? Let me know in the comments!

3 Ways to Make Your Unlikable Character More Likable

The dreaded unlikable character.

When Yves Santiago, my main character from The Lust Diaries, first came to me, I knew she would be what folks like to call “an unlikable character.” I crafted her that way intentionally. Why would I want my main character to come across as unlikable in a book written completely from her point of view? Well, after reading god knows how many books and equally as many reviews, I noticed that readers were willing to accept pretty much anything from the hero as long as he was able to redeemed in the end. He can be promiscuous, gruff, mean, and sometimes, a downright asshole and readers would still titter about how they wanted him to be their book boyfriend on Twitter. I 100% admit to enjoying romance novels with a gruff, brooding, borderline asshole hero, but I also wondered what would happen if I gave those same characteristics to a heroine?

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What exactly is an unlikeable character?

An unlikable character is a character that has little or no pleasant or appealing qualities. Yves Santiago was promiscuous, emotionally unavailable, bad with money, impulsive, caustic and rude when challenged, and on top of that, she’s a shit friend and isn’t the greatest sister, daughter, or Auntie.

Yves just messy AF. If she were a real person, I would only deal with her in small doses because while her drama is entertaining, I would not want to be pulled into that vortex on a daily basis.

Now you’re probably wondering how I wrote this completely undesirable character and managed to escape a shitstorm of 1 star reviews.

That’s easy.

I realized pretty early on that a character doesn’t necessarily need to be likable in order to be relatable. Now when it comes to crafting characters, relatable doesn’t always mean the same thing that it does in real life. Relatable just means that her life experiences, her feelings, moods, and actions all make sense, which is where good character development comes in.

This is how you make sure your unlikable character is still relatable:

1. Make sure your character’s motivations inform their thoughts and actions.

Yves Santiago is the queen of bad decisions and most of those decisions were about the men she chose to lie down with. But people make bad decisions in real life and we don’t completely write them off, right? Right. And one of the reasons we don’t write them off is because, more often than not, we realize that they have some sort of underlying issue—a reason for their assholish behavior. The why at the center of their bullshit bullseye. This thing never seems like it’s too big of a deal unless it affects you. It should be the same for your character.

During your character development, you should discover your character’s central problem that will explain and inform their terrible, awful decisions and seemingly random actions. Once you’ve found that central problem, share it with the reader—I suggest that you make part or all of it known to the reader in the first act.

Why the first act?

The first act is where you introduce your character and foreshadow/hint at the conflict. It’s also the place where you want to get your reader invested in what happens to your character. That doesn’t mean you have to show your whole hand, you just want to foreshadow the central problem and put them through trials that will reveal how the central problem keeps them from living their best life.

2. Make them worth saving.

It’s very rare that someone is all good or all bad. We all live in the gray which makes a character who falls under either extreme unrelatable. And let’s face it, some of the best villains and anti-heroes have a tragic central problem that makes their dastardly acts understandable. The same goes for cookie-cutter, Mary Sues. They are more memorable if they have some huge flaw that knocks them down a peg. A hot mess like Yves is redeemable because even though she constantly makes bad and selfish choices, she’s always striving to be a better person. The same goes for your unlikable character. The first and easiest way to do this is to have them acknowledge that they are a horrible person because of some significant event that happened in their past. Your backstory can go a long way toward helping you find your character’s central problem and knowing it will help you foreshadow the conflict and the resolution. 

3. Give your unlikable character likable friends and/or family.

This can pretty much be summed up with “who is in your character’s crew?” Who do they roll with every day? Who seems to be able to not only endure their bullshit but actually seek them out and enjoy their company? Everyone has that someone and your character should too even if they don’t acknowledge them. 

The likable friend can also be a mirror for your character. A good, likable friend can help you explain or illuminate your character’s issues in a way that doesn’t feel they are making excuses for being an insufferable asshat. 

For Yves, that character is Ava Marie. She calls Yves on her bullshit constantly and loves on her when she needs it. Yves serves that same purpose for Ava in The Truth of Things. These two are alternate between being at each other’s throats and weeping because they haven’t spent enough time together, but their friendship feels genuine. Giving Yves that sort of relationship makes her flaws seem less intolerable.

Note how I said less. Yves still had to do the work on her own to overcome her central problem and find her happily ever after.

But that’s it friends! Keep these three tips in mind while you’re crafting your unlikable character and they will be well-rounded, relatable and most importantly, memorable.

Happy Writing!

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Do you need a little help crafting your unlikable hero or heroine? Grab a copy of The Basic Character Creation workbook!

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