Writing to Word Count – Yes, You Can

The question I hear most often from new authors: “How long should my book be?”

My answer: “Long enough to tell the story.”

That may not seem like a great answer, but it’s my personal belief that it’s the most honest one. As writers we tell the stories of our hearts, the tales that live inside our minds, birthed by our soul and shaped by our life experience. We each have a story to tell, and each one is as unique as leaves on a tree. Nope, I can’t bring myself to use snowflakes. I just can’t.

Writing doesn’t come easy as most of us know. It forces us to grow in ways we never imagined. And one of the ways we grow as writers is to learn to shape our work into a particular format. Book bundles are big right now. A group of authors write short stories as a sampling of their work to invite readers to try them.

I love these. I’ve found many a new favorite author this way. In these collections the story usually has a recommended word count, say five or ten thousand words. As an author how do you make your work fit this word count?

The answer is simple. Editing. As writers one of the biggest and best things we can do for our work is also one of the most difficult. We must look at our work objectively. If you’ve written a story for inclusion into a bundle with an 8k word count and your story comes in at 12k, you need to cut some words.

“But my story will suffer!”

No, it won’t. Step back, think on it overnight or a week later if you’ve got the time. Look at the details. Character, setting, and dialogue. Does each item move the story along? Are they necessary or are they just taking up space? If they are space invaders, cut them.

The same goes for writing short. I struggle with this. If there’s an 8k word count, my story will be 6k more often than not. So I need to look at where I can add details and fill out areas that are sparse.

Read over your story to make sure the conflict is strong enough and the plot flows coherently from beginning to end. Then read it to make sure everything your characters are doing makes sense for the story line. Are their motivations believable? Review it for details, and lastly read through for those pesky adverbs, filler word, echoes and general grammar.

Part of being a professional is meeting a goal. Not making excuses for why you didn’t meet it.  As writers, we are not weak. We are strong. We tackle the hard stuff.

It takes work, but don’t shy away from the challenge, rise to it. With polish, your words will shine.

About Sutton Fox

Sutton Fox has been published by Lyrical Press, Gypsy Shadow Publishing and wrote a bi-monthly column for an auto racing magazine for several years. She traded life in Bluegrass Country for life in the Windy City in a home she shares with The Man, a lonely cat, and her beloved dog, Lucy. When she’s not working the edj, you can find her writing or spending time with her extended family.

Highly Unlikely

February is the Red Hearts Blank Smallmonth for romance. At least from the view of retailers, and all those guys who are not so with it the rest of the year. Whether you’ve found the man of your dreams in real life or not, for us romance fans, there’s a hero just waiting for us in the next story we choose to read. Although he may be digital or between the pages of an actual book, one thing is fairly certain. To the heroine, he’ll be irresistible. And sometimes her polar opposite.

Opposites attract is one of my favorite tropes. For me when the sparks fly and the personal growth happens to a couple who are so different, and yet they manage to find a way to reach a middle ground really works for me. There are so many that have become my favorites over the years. Too many to list here. But my favorite of all time, and one I never get tired of reading is Nora’s Eve Dallas and Roarke.

The straight-laced, uptight cop, who mistrusts people so much she’s almost backward with it, and the charming devil-may-care, Irish con-man, who made the bulk of his fortune illegally. A perfect match!

Ms. Roberts has done a masterful job of weaving personal and relationship growth into every book, keeping their love fresh and entertaining to the reader. Although some of the story lines are serious, there’s plenty of humor to go around. As a reader, it’s pure entertainment.

Do you have a favorite unlikely couple that you enjoy reading about?

About Sutton Fox

Sutton Fox has been published by Lyrical Press, Gypsy Shadow Publishing and wrote a bi-monthly column for an auto racing magazine for several years. She traded life in Bluegrass Country for life in the Windy City in a home she shares with The Man, a lonely cat, and her beloved dog, Lucy. When she’s not working the edj, you can find her writing or spending time with her extended family.

City Girl Meets Country Christmas

Are you ready for the holidays? If you’re answer is a resounding, “Not even close!” Welcome to the club. This year I find myself well and truly behind. Let me explain. If you’re a long time reader of this blog you know we do our Christmas celebration any day but Christmas. For the sake of meshing schedules, it’s later this year than it’s ever been.

So, I’m planning no decorations, no shopping, no guests, and no big meals. Whew! We’re the only home with no outdoor lights in our neighborhood. (Yes, the Grinch is my favorite holiday character in case you were wondering.) Just a quiet holiday with my guy. And then last night…

My son calls and is bringing his girl whom we’ve never met home because he wants to be ‘home’ before Christmas. And some friends are coming in from out of town. These are two fabulous surprises, but they aren’t bad. No way. I couldn’t be happier. However, you know what I have to pull off in seven days, before they get here.

http://www.suttonfox.com

Most of the time, I love living in the country. I wouldn’t trade it. Except at times like this. To find some things I’d like to get, have, or do, requires at least a fifty mile round trip to town, so I’m making adjustments to avoid spending the time on travel. Because even after a couple years, I still have the urge to just run over to the mall (which we don’t have one of) or where ever and just pick something up.

And this morning the dog got sprayed by a skunk. Which is now hanging around our house, maybe in hopes of more entertainment from the dog? When it came toddling out of the woods at me, I confess to standing there like an idiot. It just kept coming. I’m thinking it’s going to be scared any minute. Well, no. I ran away from it, the dog ran at it, and then it was on. It’s been downhill from there.

I admit to being curious about how others handle unexpected surprises during the holidays. Stress is stress, whether it’s good or bad. Yes, I’m thrilled but I can see the exhaustion bearing down like a freight train. The only weapon I have is my sense of humor, which I use liberally this time of year.

Do you have a trick you use to reduce stress during the holidays?

About Sutton Fox

Sutton Fox has been published by Lyrical Press, Gypsy Shadow Publishing and wrote a bi-monthly column for an auto racing magazine for several years. She traded life in Bluegrass Country for life in the Windy City in a home she shares with The Man, a lonely cat, and her beloved dog, Lucy. When she’s not working the edj, you can find her writing or spending time with her extended family.

Write That Book Newbie!

One of the great things about all the changes in the publishing environment is that anyone can publish a book. If you can read, and follow instructions for the most part, you can be a published author. How cool is that? You don’t need all those stuck up publishing companies and all their hateful gate-keepers who’ve got it in for you and your story. Don’t get me wrong, some of the reputations are well deserved, but not all of them.

Bluebirdjpg

Alas, one of the saddest things about all the changes in the publishing industry is that anyone can publish a book. Sometimes it works out great. The author will make use of all the industry professionals available today. Editors, proofreaders, cover designers, and formatting gurus. They’ll publish a killer story and have fabulous success. And sometimes is doesn’t work out well at all.

If you’ve never written a book before but you have a great idea for one that just won’t leave you alone, at least give yourself the benefit of trying to find out the things you don’t know. Most new writers don’t even know what they don’t know. If this sounds like the voice of experience, it is. I’ve been there. And years later I’m still learning new things about my craft.

This isn’t about me; it’s about your prospective readers. Readers read certain genres over and over again because they enjoy them. These genres have rules. Readers have expectations and they rely on those rules to be entertained.

If you’re a rule-breaker, good for you. But at least do your reader and yourself the service of learning the rules first so you can break them properly. Then the exception will be clear and make sense to your audience.

Where do you learn these rules? Writers groups, writer’s conferences, friends that are writers, writers who’ve written books about how to write in certain genres. One of the concerns I hear most is that if I join a group someone will steal my story idea. Yes, we’ve all heard the horror stories of plagiarism. However, by and large, most writers have so many of their own ideas, they aren’t interested in yours. Do your research. Learn your craft to the best of your ability. Then write your heart out. Write, edit, publish. Repeat. Then repeat again. Here’s wishing you a lifetime of success.

Do you belong to a writer’s group you’d feel comfortable recommending to others? If so, tell us in the comments. Thanks!

 

About Sutton Fox

Sutton Fox has been published by Lyrical Press, Gypsy Shadow Publishing and wrote a bi-monthly column for an auto racing magazine for several years. She traded life in Bluegrass Country for life in the Windy City in a home she shares with The Man, a lonely cat, and her beloved dog, Lucy. When she’s not working the edj, you can find her writing or spending time with her extended family.

Fall Food Favorites

October is one of my favorite months of the year. The changing of the leaves is at the top of the list, but another reason I like it so much is that by this time of the year I’ve had all the salad I can stand. And I’m dying for some comfort food. Food that simmers for hours, makes the house smell like home, and fills your stomach and your heart. Okay, and sometimes your arteries, but we do try to update the recipes.

SONY DSC

Summer heat doesn’t really lend itself to heavy food, even though using the oven isn’t the big deal it used to be. At this time of year breakfast muffins and savory dinners compete for time and attention in our house. Beef stew and fresh biscuits, or homemade chicken pot pie. Roast turkey isn’t just for Thanksgiving anymore. I’ve got one in the fridge right now for dinner on Friday. We’ll have it along with some fresh mashed potatoes.

Next week our grandson is coming to visit, so we’ll be making cookies for sure. And a trip to the orchard is in order so we can pick some apples for applesauce and apple pie. I’m guessing we might also snag a pumpkin or two while we’re there. Maybe some acorn squash for roasting. But I digress. Can you tell I’m excited about his visit? Now back to the subject at hand…

I think mashed potatoes are my favorite fall food. We only have them a couple times during the year. I would forgo dessert for serving of a good mashed potato casserole.

Do you have a favorite food you look forward to having in the fall?

About Sutton Fox

Sutton Fox has been published by Lyrical Press, Gypsy Shadow Publishing and wrote a bi-monthly column for an auto racing magazine for several years. She traded life in Bluegrass Country for life in the Windy City in a home she shares with The Man, a lonely cat, and her beloved dog, Lucy. When she’s not working the edj, you can find her writing or spending time with her extended family.

Editor Spotlight — Sutton Fox

LoneStarTroubleWelcome Sutton Fox from Hearts Desire Press. A fairly new publishing house, they are making ground in the romance industry, acquiring and publishing romance with heat levels ranging from erotic to sweet.

Heart-Shaped Glasses is always interested in what editors are up to, so we’ve created a little spot, just to get the nitty-gritty down and out there. Send us your questions! Send us your curiosities…

And when you see something you like, don’t be afraid to submit! That’s what we’re here for…

We sent over a few probing questions for Sutton and this was what she had to say.

How would you define success as an editor?

Before we get started, let me just say a big ‘Thank You’ to the fabulous ladies of Heart-Shaped Glasses for having me today. I’m honored to be here.

And we’re glad to have you!…

SONY DSCSuccess for me is enhancing an author’s authentic voice and helping it shine throughout the story. Editing is all about collaboration. When the author and I have given our all to a story, and produced a product that we are excited to bring to market, it’s incredibly gratifying.

What kinds of editing (or what part of editing) do you most (and least) enjoy? Why?

Delving into a new story is the most enjoyable thing for me. It’s like opening a Christmas present. Even though I’ve read the synopsis, it’s thrilling to peel it back layer by layer and see how the author plays things out.

What I enjoy least is writing rejection letters. As an author, I’ve had my share of rejections and they all sting. Although it’s a necessary part of the job, it’s the one I don’t like at all.

When someone gives you something to edit, what do you do?

Right out of the box, I simply read. As a reader. I don’t look at what needs work. That comes later. First and foremost, the story needs to reach out and grab my interest. The good ones do. The others, not so much. Once it’s captured my attention and kept it, then I move on to the practical side, because at that point it becomes about the nuts and bolts of writing.

What made you choose editing?

I’ve been an avid reader for more than thirty years, a writer for more years than I can count, and a published author for more than eight years. Perhaps it was a natural progression. One day I realized I enjoyed helping others to refine their stories just as much as I like writing my own. After so many years, and so many classes I realized that maybe in this way I could give back to the craft that’s given so much to me. I’m lucky the publishing industry of today allows me to do both.

What really gets your engine revving in a book? [in other words] What do you like to see in the submissions you get at HEARTS DESIRE PRESS?

Our interests are broad at HDP. We love a good story, period. Contemporary romance and New Adult romance are hot right now, but we also enjoy time travel, erotic romance or a historical tale. It doesn’t matter the time period or the actual setting. If an author writes their best story, it shows up on the page.

What is one of your writing pet peeves?

They change with the seasons I think. Every story brings something unique to the table, but there are two issues that come immediately to mind. The first is being aware of the difference between telling vs. showing, and when to use each. The other is the importance of understanding the difference between passive voice and active voice.

Do you have a favorite author? If so, who is it and how have they influenced your career?

I have many favorites in many genres and all for different reasons. The one that stands out most in romance and romantic suspense is Nora Roberts. She’s prolific, consistent, funny, and professional.
Over the years she’s written stories that have provided an entertaining escape, a breather if you will, from some difficult situations for just a little while. It seems a small thing, but sometimes when life applies the pressure; it helps make things more bearable to just think about something else for a bit. If I could provide someone else that pleasurable relief through editing or writing, all the years of study and work would be worth it.

Dont_Say_NoAbout Hearts Desire Press

Hearts Desire Press is a small, romance only, independent publisher, specializing in adult fiction.

From sweet romance to erotic romance, we publish in digital and print formats. Please see our submissions page for
details. We are a royalty paying publisher, NOT a vanity press, and we do not offer an advance.

Our titles are from established authors and new undiscovered talent. For everyone here, it is our hearts’ desire to
bring you the very best in romance!

It’s time. At HDP we believe it’s time for a publisher who sees an author as a valuable partner in the world of publishing, and treats them like one. You can call us a hybrid publisher, you can call us a small press, in fact, there will be some who’ll call us plain crazy.

HDP is made up of publishing industry professionals who believe an author should have a choice other than traditional and self-publishing. We believe all successful writers work hard to hone their craft. Let us help you continue to shape your career and take it in the direction YOU want to go.

HDPFILBanner

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

  • OUR LATEST BUZZ!

    The first two books in the Cupid's Cafe series release in June by Lori Sizemore and Landra Graf *** Lori Sizemore's Infamous released on December 14. *** Julie Jarnagin's Cowgirl in the Kitchen is available now. *** Bethanne Strasser LETTERS FROM HOME from Entangled Publishing is available now! *** Nina Croft's latest books, Her Fantasy Husband, a hot contemporary romance from Entangled's Brazen line, and The Order Boxed Set, a compilation of the three full length novels, plus a new novella, exclusive to the boxed set, both released in April 2016 *** Debora Dennis's holiday novella, CUPCAKES & CUPID is available.