Month: August 2016

I Won a 2016 Genesis Award!

Yes, I know this week was meant to be my book recommendations for August, but I’ve got exciting news to share and I couldn’t wait a whole week.

I won a 2016 Genesis Award!

Play On, Jordan won the 2016 Genesis Award for unpublished authors from American Christian Fiction Writers in the Novella category!

The results were announced on Saturday night at the ACFW Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. I couldn’t be there, so Wellington author Kara Isaac kindly agreed to collect the award on my behalf (which you can see on YouTube at 29:45).

Novella Finalists

My win was unexpected—I only prepared an acceptance speech because Kara asked me to. I didn’t think she’d need to actually read it!

Jebraun Clifford, who currently lives in Rotorua (about an hour from me) won the Young Adult category. Here she is with her plaque:

Jebraun Clifford

You can find the official list of 2016 Genesis Award winners at the ACFW website.

2016 Carol Award Winners

ACFW also announced the winners of the 2016 Carol Awards, for the best in published fiction across a range of genres. The winners were:

Contemporary:

The Art of Losing Yourself by Katie Ganshert, Waterbrook/Multnomah (Random House)

Historical:

Secrets She Kept by Cathy Gohlke

Historical Romance:

A Worthy Pursuit by Karen Witemeyer

Mystery/Suspense/Thriller:

The Aleppo Code by Terry Brennan

Novella:

A Bride for Bear from The Convenient Bride Collection by Erica Vetsch

Romance:

Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Beth K. Vogt

Romantic Suspense:

No Place to Hide by Lynette Eason

Short Novel:

Covert Justice by Lynn Huggins Blackburn

Speculative:

The Five Times I Met Myself by James L. Rubart

Young Adult:

Dauntless by Dina L. Sleiman, Bethany House

Debut:

The Calling of Ella McFarland by Linda Brooks Davis

 

More books to add to my to-read pile!

2016 CALEB Prize Finalists

Closer to home, Omega Writers have announced the finalists in the 2016 CALEB Prize. Omega Writers are a group of Australian and New Zealand Christian writers, and I’m a member.

Children’s Picture Books

Same – Katrina Roe
The Word War – Mark Hadley
Fearlessly Madison – Penny Reeve
Hey! Is That How God Made Animals? – Penny Morrison
Jesus Walks on Water – Shan Joseph

Published Adult

Zenna Dare – Rosanne Hawke
The Pounamu Prophecy – Cindy Williams
Too Pretty – Andrea Grigg
Invincible – Cecily Paterson
Empires Children – Patricia Weerakoon

Unpublished Manuscripts

The Peacock Stone – Nick Hawkes
The Boy in the Blue Hoodie – Cate McKeowan
Jurisdiction – Joye Alit
The Fraught Ambitions of Man – Rebecca Hayman
10 Things I Hate About God – Susan Barnes

The winners will be announced at the 2016 Omega Writers Conference to be held in Sydney in October 2016. I’m looking forward to attending and cheering for the winners.

Book Review: Shattered by Dani Pettrey

Shattered by Dani Pettrey

I recently purchased Dani Pettrey’s first book, Submerged, from Amazon. I really enjoyed it, so I was very pleased to find a review copy of Shattered, the second in the Alaskan Courage series. I really enjoy Christian Romantic Suspense, and think the Alaskan Courage series is as good as anything else available today.

The books deal with the McKenna siblings from the (fictional) small town of Yancey, Alaska. Submerged was the story of Cole, the oldest McKenna brother, and Bailey Craig, an expert in Russian history and antiques who returns to the island after her aunt is murdered. Shattered follows Piper McKenna as she works to prove that Reef, the youngest brother, is innocent of murder.

Things aren’t looking good for Reef.

There are two witnesses who saw him holding the knife over the victim, and the District Attorney has a particular grudge against the McKenna family. Piper is determined Reef is innocent. So she drags Deputy Sheriff and long-time family friend, Landon Grainger, into her investigation. Landon isn’t so sure about Reef’s innocence … and is struggling to come to terms with his changing feelings for Piper.

I really liked the way the Shattered followed on so well from Submerged in terms of taking the Landon/Piper subplot and turning it into the main plot. I can also see how Shattered has set up future books in the series, which I will certainly want to read. The novel was well-written, with a fast-paced and exciting murder plot, a sweet romance subplot, and a cast of interesting characters.

I was particularly impressed (especially in Submerged, but also in Shattered) with the way the Christian elements were integrated into the plot. These characters face the same questions and temptations as we face in real life, and they respond in realistic (if sometimes flawed) ways.

Shattered can be read as a standalone novel, but readers will enjoy it more if they read Submerged first. Recommended for fans of Dee Henderson, Irene Hannon, Diann Mills, Susan Page Davis and Susan May Warren.

Thanks to Bethany House and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Dani Pettrey at her website, and you can read the introduction to Shattered below:

 

Identity and Essence and Writing. And God.

I’ve recently returned from a three-day Romance Writers of New Zealand conference. Although it wasn’t a Christian conference, it was excellent, both for the content and for connecting with other local writers.

Identity and Essence and Writing. And God.

One thing which surprised me (but perhaps shouldn’t have) was the number of Christian attendees. The thing which surprised me more was that many of them had never read or even heard of Christian fiction and Christian romance. It didn’t surprise me that the non-Christians didn’t know, but the Christians? Yes, that surprised me. It seems I’m not alone in this: Ginger Solomon has recently made similar observations.

It was great to connect with other Christian writers, including the lovely Rebekah Orr—who won the 2016 Pacific Hearts Award (for unpublished manuscripts).

Rebekah Orr

But the highlight for me were the sessions with Hollywood scriptwriting consultant Michael Hauge. I thought he was going to be talking about the technical side of plot and structure. But his main message was actually more about characterisation, because our number one goal as writers (especially romance writers) is about our characters:

Your #1 goal is to elicit emotion.

We must take our character on a personal journey, a journey that will create an emotional response in the reader.

Hauge’s basic premise of character development is that the character starts with an identity: believing something about themselves or the world around them that isn’t actually true. The character believes this lie because of some kind of internal wound. (Authors Angela Ackerman and Becky Puglasi have spent months examining various character wounds on their blog, Writers Helping Writers.)

There is also the essence: who the character really is. The novel therefore shows the character moving from identity to essence as the story moves forward. In a novel, we expect the hero or heroine to achieve this essence by the end of the story. The romance novels of today typically take place over a relatively short timeframe: months, if not weeks. Yet we know from personal experience this isn’t how life works. Our lives are more like the epic novels of the past, which often covered decades.

It struck me that this is basically how our lives run as Christians:

  • We start in our identity, the person we think we are, a view that has been formed by all our life experience.
  • There comes a time when we, as characters in our own stories, experience what Hauge calls the turning point: that moment of change, when we become a Christian.
  • From then on we are working through our fears to move wholly into our essence: our identity in Christ. And as we know, this is a continual process.

It is easier said than done. Hauge took us each through a series of questions designed to examine our long-term and short-term personal goals (which wasn’t too difficult). But we then had to move into the harder questions: what is stopping us reaching those goals? What false beliefs or fears have we embraced that stop us moving forward? Are those beliefs real … or just logical? And—most importantly—are we prepared to move beyond that fear into our essence? It was a challenging session as we were all forced to confront some long-held beliefs and see them for the lies they are.

As Christians, we know our Christian walk, our journey to become more like Jesus, to become the person He created us to be is a lifelong journey. During that journey we will experience victories and setbacks (just like in a novel or movie). We will fight self (identity) in our struggle to reach our essence (identity in Christ). And that is how we become the hero (or heroine) in our own story.

I’m trying to do that. To be the star of my own story. To discover and pursue my essence, to become the person God meant me to be.

Will you?

Book Review: A Plain Death by Amanda Flower

From USA Today Bestselling Author Amanda Flower aka Isabella Allan

Chloe Humphrey is a twenty-four-year old Masters graduate, a computer geek with a pet cat called Gigabyte. She counts two suitcases full of obsolete computer parts among her most precious possessions. She is moving from Cleveland to Appleseed Creek, Ohio, to take a two-year job as Director of Computer Services. As she is driving to her new home , she picks up an Amish woman who is being harassed by two men.

Nineteen-year-old Becky has recently left home, following an argument over her artistic desires. Chloe finds herself with an unexpected boarder who places her in the middle of a family argument.

Things get even more untidy when Becky borrows Chloe’s car without permission, and has an accident which kills the Amish Bishop. But what appears be a simple car accident turns into a murder investigation. Chloe works with Becky’s handsome older brother, Timothy, to determine the likely victim and investigate the accident.

I really enjoyed A Plain Death. It is a cozy mystery set in an area with significant Amish and Mennonite populations, and involves both Plain and Englisher characters. I find this more interesting than a story centred solely around the Amish. There was a good level of suspense, and a little romance as well.

All that was missing was … um, no. That would be a spoiler. I look forward to reading more about Chloe, Timothy and Appleseed Creek in future books.

Thanks to B&H Books and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Amanda Flower at her website, and you can read the introduction to A Plain Death below:

On Truth and Lies and Fiction and Life

I’m sure many of you can quote John 10:10:

John 10:10 (NIV)

Our preacher spoke about this at church a couple of weeks ago, but he focused on the first half of the scripture. The preacher asked:

What is satan* trying to steal?

Our identity. The devil is trying to steal our identity in Christ, that internal spirit that produces our external ability to do God’s work.

As an author, that concept struck home with me. Writing instructors will talk about how our characters need to have a GMC:

Goal:

The character has to want something

Motivation:

They have to want that something for a reason

Conflict:

But something is stopping them getting what they want

GMC will be both external and internal, with the external being outside circumstances and events, and the internal being the beliefs and misbeliefs of the main character. If you think about the best novels you’ve read, you’ll notice the best books have characters with both an internal and an external GMC, and there will be a relationship between them. Often a character won’t be able to beat the external conflict until they’ve beaten the internal conflict.

This holds true in real life.

If we believe we’re no good and that God can’t use us … then He can’t. Because we’re not making ourselves available to be used, and He won’t force us (it’s that whole concept of free will).

Instead, we’ve got to remember we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us, we can complete the race set before us, we can fulfil God’s plan for our lives. We can’t let satan steal our hopes or kill our dreams or destroy our God-given destiny. Instead, we to reach out to Jesus and claim the life He promises us, this full and abundant life.

Some people don’t read fiction, claiming it’s a lie and they only want to read books that are true. Yet Jesus told stories—parables—using stories as a lie that demonstrates the Truth. In the same way, good fiction can be a lie that shows the way to the truth.

And the Truth.

And that’s what I want to write.

 

*satan is lowercased because his name is not worthy of being capitalised. At least, that’s the approach taken by the evangelist I worked with before he was promoted to Glory. I’ve adopted it because I like it, even though I know it breaks all the ‘rules’.

 

 

 

Review: Ring of Secrets by Roseanna M White

Have you signed up for my Newsletter? If so, you’ll already have received my entirely biased list of 50 novels from my favourite Christian authors. If not, sign up on the right! Today I’m reviewing Ring of Secrets by Roseanna M White, one of my favourite historical romance novelists.

Introducing The Culper Ring …

Book CoverWinter Reeves’ pretty smile and vacant expression belie her intelligence. She’s a spy for the Culper Ring, collecting information in 1779 New York, a British stronghold. She must hide her true allegiance from everyone except Robbie Townsend, her childhood friend, and Freeman, a loyal family servant who is treated no better than a slave by her Loyalist grandparents.

Bennet Lane is a Yale professor sent to New York to try and find the source of the intelligence leaks. He meets Winter and is attracted to her—he believes that she is more than she appears. He also recognises that a courtship with the beauty will give him a reason for being in the company of New York’s elite, which should aid his quest.

Ring of Secrets is told in the third person from the viewpoints of Winter and Bennet, with occasional scenes from more minor characters (actually, I thought these were probably unnecessary). Winter and Bennet are both well-rounded and likeable characters. It is said that any character with an interesting secret has a good chance of coming alive, and this can certainly be said of both Winter and Robbie (her contact in the spy ring). There is also the added complication of Colonel Fairchild. Winter has cultivated a relationship with Fairchild in order to gain intelligence, but he wants a more permanent relationship.

Overall, I thought the romance was well-developed and the story excellent. I did find some of Winter’s prayers a bit long-winded (even for Christian fiction), and there were a couple of too-convenient coincidences towards the end.

I really enjoy historical fiction that is based on history, as Ring of Secrets is.

Even I, as a non-American, recognised some of the historical figures. A note at the end of the book enlightened me more about the founders of The Culper Ring, an organisation which may still exist—a rumour the CIA will neither confirm nor deny. Recommended.

Thanks to Harvest House and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can read the introduction to Ring of Secrets below:

My Two Top Travel Tips

It’s the time of year when a lot of writers think of going to writer’s conferences (and those of you in the northern hemisphere are planning your summer holidays). I’ve done a lot of travelling over the years, both alone (for writer’s conferences or business) or with my family.

Travel Tips

Here are a few travel tips I’ve picked up along the way:

1. Plan Ahead

You don’t want to get to the airport for the trip of a lifetime and discover your passport has expired (yes, I’ve seen that). Planning ahead can help avoid these little “issues”. I use lists.

Travel List

All travel documents and sundries, including:

  • Tickets
  • Passports (if required)
  • Booking confirmations (e.g transport, rental car, hotel/s, conference)
  • Travel Insurance information

Packing List

I have two lists: a family list, and individual lists for each child. I have these saved, so I just need to update the clothing items for the season and the number of nights we’re away.

Family List

The family list includes:

  • A family toilet bag
  • A basic first aid/medicine kit (because someone always catches something)
  • Kindle and phone, and their chargers (wall and car adaptor)
  • Any non-clothing items I need to remember (like books!)

I try and focus on the things that I either won’t be able to buy at my destination, or things that will be overpriced. Forget shampoo? No problem. Most hotels have shampoo in the room and you’ll always be able to buy something, even if it’s not your preferred brand. But if your children forget the charger to their favourite electronic device … that’s challenging.

The Individual Lists

I use packing lists for myself and for the children, and have since my son was about ten. He enjoys packing his own suitcase, and I enjoy not having to do it for him. But he’s a boy, and boys … let’s just say they have different priorities. So I give him a list, which includes minor items like hairbrush and toothbrush. I’ve found these are the items he “forgets” if he doesn’t get a list (even for an overnight stay).

Travel Light

This is the advice “everyone” always gives, but they don’t necessarily tell you how to achieve it (I have a couple of suggestions that work for me below). There are two reasons to pack light:

  • It’s easier to carry (or drag)
  • It gives you room to buy souvenirs

Packing light is especially important if you’re travelling with small children, who might not be entitled to their own luggage allowance but who require a lot of paraphernalia …

A lot of travel advice says not to check luggage if you don’t have to. Well, if you have small children, you have to check the luggage. There is no way you can navigate through an airport with one stroller, two sleeping children, and three dragalong cases, no matter how small. So check the cases and use a backpack or shoulder bag as your cabin baggage.

I packed light even before we had children. My husband and I once did a six-week trip through the Greek Islands, Egypt, Israel and Jordan. When we got on the plane at Heathrow, my backpack weighed 11 kgs (around 25 pounds). Yes, it did weigh a little (lot) more on the return trip, but at I could still carry it easily, and didn’t have to worry about it being overweight.

My top tips for travelling light are:

Save the sample sizes

You know how when you buy makeup or skincare there is sometimes a gift-with-purchase? I save those product samples and put them in my holiday toilet bag. Then I don’t need to carry full-sized bottles.

Watch the Shoes

Shoes are bulky. More to the point, they take a lot of space in your luggage. Sure, you can stuff things inside them, but better to take fewer pairs (and definitely don’t take the boxes).

When I go on holiday, I take as few pairs of shoes as possible, all in the same colour, or coordinating colours. For example, I took three pairs of shoes on that six-week holiday—good walking shoes (because I knew we were going to be doing a lot of walking), jandals (aka thongs or flip-flops), and a pair of nice sandals suitable for shopping or meals out. I then coordinate my entire travel wardrobe around those three or four pairs of shoes. Yes, it gets boring. But I can wear all my other nice things when I get home.

Plan Coordinating Outfits

This goes along with the shoes. I have two basic colour “themes” in my wardrobe: black and navy. When I go on holiday, I take one theme, and I make sure that I have at least two tops to go with every bottom (skirt, shorts or trousers), and at least two bottoms I can wear with every top. It adds variety, and helps me not get too bored with limited wardrobe choices on a long holiday.

Okay, those are my tips. What tips do you have to share? And do you have any exciting travel plans?

Book Recommendation: The Heir by Lynne Stringer

Have you signed up for my Newsletter? If so, you’ll already have received my entirely biased list of 50 novels from my favourite Christian authors. If not, sign up on the right!

Today I’m reviewing The Heir, the debut novel from Australian author Lynne Stringer. The Heir is the first in her Verindon science fiction trilogy for young adults (and older adults). The must-read sequels are The Crown and The Regin.

The Heir by Lynne Stringer

Sarah is a normal American teenager.

Well, mostly normal.

She goes to a fancy private school where all the other kids are rich, her dad is an inventor who never quite seems to get it right, she’s being stalked at school by a creepy boy, and her English teacher is always picking her for class debates even though she hates them. Apart from that, she’s just a normal kid. She loves art, tries to survive high school and has a secret crush on Dan, her best friend’s kind-of boyfriend.

But things are not what they seem. When tragedy strikes and Sarah’s life changes overnight, things start to get even stranger. Melting tables, windows that don’t open, eyes in the bushes …

The story started slowly but there was a growing sense of foreboding and rising suspense. I soon realised this wasn’t the predictable Young Adult coming-of-age kind of story it started out as (but I’m not going to spoil the surprise by saying too much). Strange things started to happen and there were a few left-field comments from Sarah’s friends that made me think I was missing something. I was. So was Sarah. And when we got the big reveal it was both a huge surprise and not, because it answered all those niggles.

The Heir is told entirely in the first person, from Sarah’s point of view (which I know some readers don’t like). But she’s a strong character who can carry the story without being so perfect as to be annoying. She’s a realistic teen, with strong likes and dislikes, hopes and fears, a secret crush, and a secret history even she doesn’t know about…

I really enjoyed The Heir.

The Heir was well-plotted with good foreshadowing (but without making it obvious) and good characters. The ending was satisfying in the way it completed the current story, but left me wanting more.

An excellent debut novel. Recommended for those who like authors such as Kathy Tyers, or those who enjoy YA dystopian or science fiction.

Thanks to Wombat Books for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Lynne Stringer at her website, or in this interview, and you can read the introduction to The Heir below:

9 Top Tips for Aspiring Authors

Last week I had a comment on a book review post asking for advice for new writers. Well, it might have been asking for advice for new writers, but it also had a link to a website advertising writing aids which seemed a little spammy so I didn’t approve the comment. (Well, it was on a book review post, so seemed more than a little off-topic).
9 Top Tips for Aspiring Writers
I’ve been writing fiction for a little over a year–not long, in the scheme of things. But that first novella manuscript won one small writing contest (Almost an Author), and is currently a finalist in the American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis contest, the flagship contest for unpublished Christian fiction writers. So my writing must have some merit.

But there is more to writing than just writing. At least, according to Stephen King:
Stephen King quote
CES FB Quotes (2)

I’ve been reading Christian fiction for over twenty years.

I’ve seen trends come and trends go, which means I’ve got a good feel for the genre and have learned what publishers buy.

And I’ve been working as a freelance editor specialising in Christian fiction for the last five years, which means I’ve seen a lot of manuscripts, good and bad, and have learned something about the craft of writing from each one. I’ve attended conferences, undertaken online training, and completed a hands-on immersion course with international speaker and writing coach Margie Lawson.

I’ve also read dozens of books on writing craft and dozens more books on book marketing. Each has contributed to my understanding of how to write, edit, publish and market books in this new world. A world where aspiring authors don’t need an agent and a big-name publisher. A world where authors can self-publish without the stigma of ‘vanity’ publishing.

I’ve learned a thing or two.

So I’m going to give my answer to the question my commenter initially asked. I hope it helps him or her and anyone else who is thinking of writing a novel, who is in the middle of writing their first novel, or who has one or three or ten completed manuscripts buried in some virtual drawer.

So here are my top tips of what an aspiring fiction author needs to know and do:

1. Understand Genre

Publishers publish by genre, booksellers organise their stores by genre, and readers read by genre. Your book has a better chance of succeeding if you understand what genre it is, and meet the expectations of readers of that genre. For example, a romance novel has to have a happy ending in which the hero and heroine are together. If he dies at the end, it’s not a romance novel.

Yes, authors do can do genre mashups (Amish Zombies in Space springs to mind), but even that adheres to the expectations of each of the constituent genres (I think. I don’t read zombie novels, so don’t know how it stacks up against them).

Understand your genre, and write to the norms of that genre.

2. Write What You Love

If you love trashy romance, write romance novels. Don’t write highbrow literary fiction with beautiful language but where nothing much happens. Don’t write gung-ho action adventure novels in which the hero fights his way through innumerable blockages in order to reach his goal and get the girl. Conversely, if you read literary fiction, don’t write Amish romance because someone tells you that’s what sells.

Write what you love for two reasons. If you’re writing in a genre you love to read, you’ll know the conventions of the genre and what the reader is looking for. And your writing will flow better because it’s something you want to write (unlike so many of those creative writing assignments in school).

3. Read what you write

Read in your genre. Read outside your genre. Read old books. Read new books. Read novels which have won awards, and try to work out why they won. Read award-winning novels as judged by industry professionals (e.g. the Christy Awards), by writers (e.g. the Carol Awards) and by readers (e.g. the INSPY Awards). Read the Christian novels I recommend each month on this blog.

4. Study the Big Picture

The big picture element of writing is the relationship between plot and story and structure and characterisation. Most craft books focus on one or two of these aspects, but the more I read, the more I come to believe that you can’t look at any one of these in isolation. They all need to be considered together.

Here are some books I recommend which examine these big picture elements:

– Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell
– Plot versus Character by Jeff Gherke
– Characters and Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card
– Story Genius by Lisa Cron
– Structuring Your Novel by KM Weiland
– GMC: Goal, Motivation, Conflict by Debra Dixon

(See what I mean about the relationships?)

5. Study the Technical Craft of Fiction

You also need to understand the basics of modern fiction. Yes, Jane Austen and Charles Dickens were great writers, and you can look to them for insight into the big picture elements. But don’t try and emulate the way they wrote. Novel writing has changed a lot in the two hundred years since Austen was first published, and writing like Jane Austen won’t win you any fans today. Even novels from the 1990’s might be too old-fashioned in terms of style to be of benefit in terms of their technical writing craft. (Although they will still be of benefit in terms of the big picture elements.)

The modern writer needs to understand:

– Point of View
– Showing not telling
– Scene and sequel

For advice on these issues, try:

– Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View by Jill Elizabeth Nelson
– The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglasi
– Scene and Structure by Jack M Bickham

6. Understand the Mechanics of English

There is no point in knowing how to craft a great novel if you don’t have the technical writing skills to get it on the page so people can read and understand it. Christian editor (and founder of the Christian Proofreaders and Editors Network) calls this the PUGS: Punctuation, (word) Usage, Grammar and Spelling. There is nothing worse than picking up a novel which is hard to read because the author doesn’t understand how to order words in a sentence for maximum reader impact.

For advice on actual writing, I recommend:

– Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss
– The Elements of Style by Strunk and White

7. Join a Community

You’ll learn as much from your fellow writers as you will from books, so join a community of writers. This could be online (e.g. Facebook groups such as Australasian Christian Writers). It could be a formal organisation (e.g. Romance Writers of America or Australia or New Zealand, American Christian Fiction Writers or Omega Writers or New Zealand Christian Writers). It could be a Christian group or a general market group. It could be for fiction writers or all writers.

8. Write

You can study too much. It was true when Ecclesiastes was written and it is true today. Study, but ensure you get words down on paper as well. Or get pixels on a computer screen.

9. Learn to Self-Edit

Yes, I’m a freelance editor so you’d think I’d have a vested interest in people not editing their own work, to give me more to do. But correcting simple mistakes the author could have corrected for themselves isn’t much fun, and means I might get too focussed on correcting commas and hyphens at the expense of more fundamental questions of plot and style. And anyway, the cleaner the manuscript in terms of writing mechanics, the cheaper the edit.

Tools like Grammarly and ProWritingAid can help with the most technical side of this self-editing, identifying things like passive voice and overused words and commonly misused words.

But you need a human to pick up that your heroine’s hair colour changes three times without her ever visiting a hairdresser, or that there is headhopping in Chapter Four or that you have a nasty habit of structuring every sentence the same or that your mute minor character actually had a couple of lines before she miraculously started talking again.

For advice on how to self-edit your novel, I recommend:

– The Word Loss Diet by Rayne Hall
– Revision and Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by James Scott Bell
– Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King

In Conclusion …

Everyone agrees I came into fiction writing the ‘wrong’ way. Most people write a manuscript first, then start looking for writing groups or publishers or advice on craft. I did it backwards: I spent several years learning the craft before I started writing. I don’t believe you have to spend years, but my relative success with that first fiction manuscript proves (to me, at least) that time spent studying craft isn’t wasted. And you’d do far worse than starting with the books I’ve recommended above.

Do you have any questions about writing? Ask in the comments.