30 Days to Publishing

30 Days to Publishing (8)


A participle is a form of verb that is used in a sentence to modify a noun and/or verb. You may or may not have given much thought to participles. In every day speech, participles let our listeners know the time frame in what we say.

“I went to the store.”
“She goes to the store.”
“They are going to the store.”

Just by the verb tense, you can assume what has been done, what is being done, and what will be done. This is what humans categorize, covet, and cope with–time.

I am not about to give you a lecture on English grammar, but the verb tense is very important to the structure of your story. Participles will determine what is transpiring and give a time frame for your readers.

Past Tense:  Past tense is just what it sounds like–everything in the story has happened in the past. It is history. Most stories, books, magazine columns, newspaper articles, and biographies are written in past tense for very good reason. The events being recorded have already happened and are finished.

E.g. John Doe was a curator at the Museum of Natural Art. He was in charge of bookkeeping and purchasing items for the collection. Often he traveled far distances to acquire items that could not be shipped by air mail. John Doe enjoyed the challenge of digging up old artifacts.

Present Tense: Present tense is a verb form of current action. For example, the critically acclaimed book series Hunger Games was written in first person, present tense.  Often times books in first person are written in present tense to give a feel for events happening now,  as in right now. First person can be written either in present tense or past tense, but do not feel restricted to present tense just because you want to write in first person.

E.g. 1. I am a curator at the Museum of Natural Art. I am in charge of bookkeeping and purchasing items for the collection. Often I travel far distances to acquire items that cannot be shipped by air mail. I enjoy the challenge of digging up old artifacts.

E.g. 2. I was a curator at the Museum of Natural Art. I was in charge of bookkeeping and purchasing items for the collection. Often I travelled far distances to acquire items that could not be shipped by air mail. I enjoyed the challenge of digging up old artifacts.

As you can see, both are acceptable forms of writing. Admittedly, present tense can be more difficult to write, because you might be more accustomed to thinking, speaking, and writing in past tense. If you choose to use present tense, keep in mind the verb changes, but don’t get frustrated with your writing if it proves difficult. You can always go back and edit those verbs later.

Future Tense:  Future tense is rarely used, except in rare instances of narration. It describes an event about to transpire that has not happened yet, and is looked forward to–in the future.

E.g. John Doe will be a curator at the Museum of Natural Art. He will be in charge of bookkeeping and purchasing items for the collection. He will travel far distances to acquire items that cannot be shipped by air mail. He will enjoy (we hope) the challenge of digging up old artifacts.

Future tense can be used when characters are planning a battle strategy or other event to be held in the near future. You can write your whole book in future tense, it is possible…If you like that sort of challenge. But you may find it too wordy with all the extra verbs, and confusing to boot. Your editor might not appreciate it, but then again, this is your story. And who knows, you might be the new JK Rowling. So push the boundaries and be who you want to be.

That’s all for today, friends. Have a pleasant Easter and Passover week.


30 Days to Publishing

30 Days to Publishing (3)


Each project is dependant on some amount of research–even fiction, conceived from the bowels of your own imagination, requires research.

How are you doing? Are you groaning in frustration? Cursing the heavens–maybe even me? Good. Take that energy and direct it toward your task. Turn negativity into positive creativity.

From here on, I will be focusing on the fictional elements of writing, since that is what I know best. It would not be prudent to question me about the metaphysics of space flight, the gastrial anomalies of deep space, or even the gravitational pull of moons versus planets. I know not of such things. What I do know, I will share with you throughout this study. Which brings us back to the topic on hand:  research.

When it comes to fictional writing, I caution you to use caution. Cautiously. Because you can fly by the seat of your pants only so long. Trust me. I know. I have many a novel penned with inspiration and ambition which I am now gutting and rebuilding. That’s all part of the process, of course, and you will be drafting and redrafting and proofreading to boot. But if this tool can aid in the process, take it and run with it.

When you sit down with your story, what do you start with? World-building? Let’s work with that.

World-Building: Set the tone of your book with a world. I’ve always found it helpful to scratch out a map, because it’s depressing to send your heroes north to the mountains of doom…when the mountains of doom are actually south of the border. It’s not a matter of changing “left” to “right” and “north” to “south”–think of all the terrain you just covered three chapters in, with bogs and monsters that aren’t digenous of the south.

Animal Life: If dragons are relevant to your story, make sure to incorporate them into the culture and habitat. Change that frozen, bulky northern dragon into a slender, serpent-like character more suited to the south.

Culture: Build up the cities and villages to reflect the story of world your heroes will be traveling. Are there nomadic tribes wandering the midwest, and are they peaceful or war like? Keep these in mind. It might be helpful to have a notebook or Doc file just for these notes.

Who are your heroes, by the way? What thought have you given to the main characters trudging through deserts and across swampy landscapes?

What is the Point of View (PoV) of your story? Will it be told from the main character’s view, or will it be a narrative, or maybe you will be writing to the audience in second person?

Do you have a plot for the story? Where is everyone going and where will they end up in the end?

What do you want the ultimate take away to be or is this simply an exciting adventure and you’d rather your readers not think too hard about life?

These are a few of the things we’ll be discussing in the coming month which I hope will give you the tools to creating beautiful and exciting fiction.

If you’re looking for something to do now, today, start giving thought to your own research. Then start writing out those thoughts. The best way to solidify an idea is to put it to concrete on paper (or a computer file. Just as good).

Feel free to write in the comments your noble plan and share some fears or trepidation you might have about all this spooky research.

Also, I encourage you to apprise me of errors in these lessons, as my 500 words a day for 31 days restricts the editing process to complete, unaltered writing. As we’ll talk about later, proofreading is not “editing” and thus there will be errors occasionally.

30 Days to Publishing

30 Days to Publishing (1)


The road of a writer is fraught with peril–writing blocks, plot bunnies, deadlines, caffeine addiction, insomnia, antisocialism, the list goes on. There are many stages–or shall we say mile markers–along this road, and you have the choice to turn back at every stop. This is true, but this also goes against what Jeff Goins claims in his new book The Art of Work which is now on sale at Amazon.

This is the second blog post in my 500 in 31 writing challenge. To kick it off, I decide to write through the journey of writing, to editing, to publishing and beyond. Each day I will walk through chronological steps, as comprehensive as I can, going back to my roots and the books that aided me. Imaginary sidekick, to the library!

Today, I am going to delve into my past and open the pages of my own adventure. Writing did not become cool until my older brother started writing science fiction stories for school projects. I always loved reading, but never considered writing. But I always go back to my brother’s quote,

I write because I’ve exhausted the books that interest me.

He’s a little high and might, but nevertheless! The point remains. I started writing because too often young adult books were not to my standards, or simply not within my preferred genre. So there I was, dabbling with genres trying to find The One. I wrote Star Wars fan fiction, I wrote sci fi, I wrote fantasy–ah ha! It was a silly fairy book, but it was the only book I was able to finish. I had discovered something, something big. I let our six acres of childhood fuel this fantasy element and began a hobby that would become the essence of who I am.

I never considered publishing my stories (I hadn’t considered myself a writer, back then. I was just “scribbling”). Oh, sure, I dreamed of being the next JKRowling, but I told myself I only wrote for fun, for my siblings. Well, one day, I allowed a client at the salon read one of my books. If ever there was a proverbial genie-in-a-bottle, it was she. In between appointments, she ate up that silly story and came back to give me the inspiration of a life time. This was the moment of awareness; it wouldn’t be until two years later that I published my first book. After the genie, came the Guardian. Because in every adventure story, there is a guardian who comes and goes during pivotal moments in the hero’s journey (e.g. Gandalf, Brom, Ben Kenobi, Albus Dumbledore, etc). My Guardian gave me the boost of confidence, the speech of positivety, and the vision I would carry with me forever.

“Who knows, you could be the next JKRowling, but you’ll never know unless you try.”

I spent that year researching. I tried querying traditional publishing houses. I tried querying agents. I read blogs, and websites, and emailed people I didn’t know and who intimidated this home schooled country bumpkin. But I never even received a rejection letter. I got absolutely nothing. Well, I may have a slight stubborn streak. After all this work, and telling my supportive fans that I wasn’t getting anywhere, I finally put my foot down. “I’ll do this on my own. Who says I need a publisher? Who says I need an agent? I’ll do it all myself!”

–Now, I’m not condoning this type of mindset. There is something rich and desirable about having a community of support and a team to come alongside you. “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” Philippians 4:8–

Needless to say, though, I Lone Rangered it. I turned my sights to self-publishing. At this time, it was 2013 and I had just finished NaNoWriMo for the first time. I was on fire. Here I had this inspired story and a drive to be published. So I went to work. I drafted and re-drafted that story, setting my previous book aside. If I was going to flop, I was going to flop with a smaller story that wasn’t as near and dear to my heart. But time flew! Winter turned into summer, summer came with stress and deadline drama. And when November came…and the first print arrived…I breathed in the wonderful aroma of my book. My first book. That, my friends, that moment, is why I write. I didn’t make any money on that first book, it was just an author copy. I didn’t receive fan mail from that book, it hadn’t yet hit the market. I was alone in my car sitting outside the FedEx store breathing in the fresh paper and ink of my book.

As we delve into this journey together, there are key questions you should ask yourself:

Why do you write?
What do you write?
For whom do you write?
Have you a vision, a goal for writing?
What is your plan?

I’m very excited to walk alongside you, friend. Your story, my story, it’s still growing. If you can take away one thing from this study that helps you, then that alone makes it worthwhile. See you tomorrow.