You can make anything by writing -C.S. Lewis (part 2 of my series on writing and publishing)

So you have an idea, now what?  Well, you have two options: create an outline and plot out your book OR sit down and start writing and see where it takes you (we call this being a “pantser”).  Personally, I like to outline.  I think it creates fewer problems.  For example, you start a story and don’t know exactly where you’re going so you write one thing early in the book and then something that contradicts that later.  Then you have to go back and reconcile them so the book fits together as a whole.  I know a lot of successful people are pantsers.  I just prefer to have an outline.

Now, when I say outline, I don’t necessarily mean a document that contains roman numeral headings and subheadings, etc.  I don’t do a formal outline.  It’s more that I know where my story is going.  I know what the key, pivotal scenes are going to be.  And I always know how it will end.  I also realize that in all of that, things will still change.  I will get ideas as I go that change the details of how I get to the end.  As I get to know my characters, they will make decisions that weren’t in my general outline view of the book.  The outline just gives me a sense of direction and I feel it helps me to write a faster draft.

Yes, a draft.  It’s not a finished product.  It’s not even necessarily very polished.  It’s exactly what it says it is:  a draft.  I don’t worry too much about beautiful writing.  I don’t pay tons of attention to great dialogue tags.  I’m getting the story onto paper (or into a document on my computer…).  That doesn’t mean I’m totally sloppy.  I try to write a solid draft, but still, there will be so much to change.  For example, I think I have 11 drafts of Borrowed Magic on my computer.  And those are 11 drafts with significant changes!

It sounds easy, right?  A rough, messy draft shouldn’t be all that hard!  Wrong!  It might be the hardest draft for some writers (although I LOVE plotting, so I really like writing the initial draft) because you have to actually sit down and do it.  You can’t mean to do it.  You can’t say you’ll work on it tomorrow.  You have to have the discipline to actually get it done.  One thing I hear from a lot of my writer friends is that they have tons of unfinished manuscripts.  They either lost interest or didn’t know where it was going (another reason I outline…).  My biggest advice:  just write and write everyday.  If you get stuck on a particular scene, skip it and come back later.  You just have to get that first draft onto paper.

And then comes the even harder part — revising.  More on that in my next post!

Ideas are the root of creation. –Ernest Dimnel (part 1 in my series on writing and publishing)

They say everything starts with a good idea, and since Borrowed Magic came out, I’ve been asked one question possibly more than any other: Where did you get the idea?

I’ve been wanting to do a series of posts on the process of publishing and thought this concept of idea would be a good place to start.  After all, no matter how much you study about setting, plot, and characters, it leads you nowhere unless you have a great idea.

In my experience, the initial idea for a book falls into EITHER setting or plot or character.  The first book I ever wrote (which I still hope to do a TON of revisions on and publish one day) came from an image in my mind, a scene, a setting.  It was the tone of that scene that I wanted to capture.  Interestingly enough, that exact scene isn’t even in the book anymore, but the ideas that evolved from it are.  The book I’m currently writing came from an idea about a character — a young woman who’s grown up in an isolated religious community.  That evolved into this character being naive about so many things and yet so capable and strong at the same time.

Borrowed Magic evolved from a plot idea.  I started writing it during the whole dystopian craze.  Knowing I was going to start something new, I asked myself what the themes of dystopian were that I might be able to apply to fantasy.  The one I came up with was the idea that the world isn’t quite what it seems.  In so much dystopian, there’s a clean, shiny version of the world that is presented by whoever is in charge, and then there’s the real world, the dirty one, the one people are actually living in.  Once I had a theme, I thought of ideas of how I could apply that to a magical, fantasy world.  And that’s where Borrowed Magic came from.  The characters all evolved later.  As did the setting.  It was that one plot point that drove everything — at least at the beginning.

Other people may find ideas in other ways, but for me, the easiest way is to focus on one of the three elements of fiction:  plot, setting, or character.  Choose one of those that fascinates you and develop it.  You’d be surprised at how much can come from one great idea!  (more on developing an idea in the next post…)

Book Recommendation: The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

I had seen Cinder on people’s Goodreads shelves and had heard a little bit about it, but every time I read the summary/blurb, I kind of felt meh about the whole thing.  Then I had a friend whose opinion I trust say how much she loved it and I thought I’d give it a try.  What could it hurt?

NOTHING!!!  It turned out to be amazing.  I loved the story of Cinder and Kai.  And Wolf and Scarlet.  And Cress.  And Winter.  And basically everyone.

Here’s the Amazon summary for Cinder:

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

So here’s a basic rundown:  Cinder follows the basic storyline of Cinderella with a lot of literary license taken.  Scarlet continues the story of Cinder but introduces Scarlet.  Her story is based on Little Red Riding Hood.  Then comes Cress, who plays the part of Rapunzel.  And finally Winter, the story of Snow White.  All these characters are interwoven throughout the stories, so although Cinder’s main introduction is in Cinder, her character is important all the way through to the end.

In between Cress and Winter, Meyer wrote Fairest, which is the story of the evil queen, Levana.  It gives a lot of good background information and maybe a bit of a redemptive aspect to the character.

Within the past week, Meyer released an additional book in the collection, Stars Above, which is a collection of short stories about some of the characters.

I truly did enjoy this series and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys fantasy and fairy tales.  It was very clean and would even be appropriate for younger audiences.  The love stories are great and believable and the characters are complicated and yet sympathetic.

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RELEASE DAY!!!!

Borrowed Magic is now available to buy!

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For links to where you can purchase it, go here.

And if you want a chance to win a signed copy, go to my Facebook Page for information on how you can enter!

Thanks!

Shari

Borrowed Magic Giveaway!

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So, Siege has been out fora week now, and I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who helped make it a success. It’s still in the top 20 on two of Amazon’s free lists and in the top 100 on three others!  If you still haven’t downloaded it, click on the “Where to Buy” tab at the top of the page and it will link you to all the places it’s available.  And it’s FREE (except for Amazon international, which still hasn’t price matched it yet.  But it’s only $.99 or the international equivalent)! And remember Borrowed Magic comes out a week from today!!!!

Also, I wanted to announced two things.

First, as soon as Siege gets 20 honest (yes, be honest) reviews on Amazon, I’ll post the entire first chapter of Borrowed Magic on my website (right now it’s just the first 3 pages). Because I know you all want to see Philip! (If you cross post the review on Goodreads, then I will love you!)

Second, I’m doing a Goodreads giveaway of 3 paperback copies of Borrowed Magic! It’s open for entries until January 31, 2016. Here’s a link to my website where the Goodreads widget right at the top of the page will take you right where you need to go to enter: http://www.sharilamertbooks.com.

Thanks again!!!

Siege is available to download TODAY for FREE!

Have you ever wanted to know what happened before?  The story before the story?

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Siege, the prequel novella to Borrowed Magic, is available for FREE download today from your favorite online retailer!

Here’s a link to all the places you can order it!

Borrowed Magic comes out two weeks from today and reading Siege is a great way to pass the time.

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As an Indie Author, I need your help to spread the word about my books!  Here are just a few ways you can help…Thanks in advance!

  • Tell your friends!  Even if they might not be interested, they might know someone who is!
  • Add Siege and Borrowed Magic to your Goodreads shelf!  Your friends see when you add a book.  And then after you read it, rate it!  Your friends see that too!
  • Post a rating on Amazon or other online retailer (you can post a review on Amazon even if you didn’t purchase the book through them).  Then the public sees it.
  • If you’re a Facebook user, don’t just like my posts, but share them.  That way all your friends (who aren’t the same as my friends) also see it.  Even better, add a comment about why you’re sharing.  i.e.  “If you like a good romantic fantasy…” or “If you’re looking for a clean fantasy for your kids…”
  • Encourage others to spread the news!

Borrowed Magic Cover Reveal! (and giveaway)

It’s Finally Here!!!

I can’t believe it’s actually time to show you my beautiful cover for Borrowed Magic, but it is.

And here it is!

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To enter to win a print or digital copy of the book, click here.

It is available for preorder on some sites.

You can also add it to your Goodreads shelf.

And remember, the best publicity a book can get is word of mouth.  Please feel free to use the buttons below to share with your friends!

Pre-orders!!! (oh, and the cover of Siege)

Siege and Borrowed Magic are now available for pre-order on a few sites.  Unfortunately, Amazon is not one of them (because of how they count their pre-orders towards sales, it’s better not to have pre-orders on Amazon).

On Amazon, Siege will be available for FREE download on January 18, 2016. Borrowed Magic will go on sale February 1, 2016.

Other sites will have pre-orders soon, but for now you can go to Kobobooks.com to pre-order both the novella and the novel, or Smashwords.com and add it to your library.  You can even download a sample to read!  And don’t worry if it says Siege cost $0.99.  It will be free the day it releases!  (If you’re worried about price and want to wait until January 18, that’s ok too!)

Both books are also on Goodreads if you want to add them to your shelf.

And since the cover for  Siege isn’t part of a cover reveal, I made it the featured image for this post!

I’m going to be published!!

So, I’ve been posting stuff about this as “campaigns” on the home page of my website, but I realized that when I post there, it doesn’t send emails to everyone who has subscribed.

Anyway, I’ve decided to publish my book, Borrowed Magic, accompanied with a prequel novella, Siege.  They should be coming out early February and there will be a cover release early January (and it’s awesome!).  For now, you can add them both on Goodreads.

I’m really trying to build my newsletter and will release the first chapter of Siege on the website once I get 50 subscribers.  I’m really, really close!  So if you’re interested, go to the main page and click on “Sign Me Up.”

Also, check out the three boxes below that, which are the “campaigns,” for more information on everything!

Thanks!!