CARVING OUT TIME TO WRITE, TO DRAW

I’ve always been a big proponent of making time, especially where my writing is concerned. I mean, if I were to sit around waiting for the perfect time to write–a time completely free from distractions–I’d maybe write three or four days a year. Any adult life is just fraught with responsibilities and obligations. And those responsibilities are not necessarily burdensome! We have responsibilities to friends and families and pets and side-jobs we love. We want to do right by the people in our lives…

aaand we also have lawns to mow and laundry to do and dinner to cook.

Okay, so some of those daily obligations are burdensome.

Regardless, I’ve learned to write in early mornings and late at night. I’ve brainstormed in back seats. I’ve thumbed new chapters into my phone while waiting in line at the DMV. I’ve dictated while driving. I keep little mini spiral notebooks in my purse. I have an old Alphasmart NEO that can keep me going during power outages (it’s Missouri–there are plenty of power outages, let me tell you).

I write every day, no matter what’s going on–doctor’s appointments or author visits or traveling or even mundane daily chores like grocery shopping. No matter what else has to be done, I get some writing done too. Some days, it’s eight hours of writing. Some days, it’s twenty minutes. But some sort of progress gets made.

I learned a long time ago that it’s the only way a book gets written. You just write. Even in the most imperfect of situations.

But what about ART???

This one’s far harder for me. I’ve been determined to carve out more time for it, but I fail at this one more often than not. I get started writing a new project, and suddenly, I realize days have gone by and between life, marketing, and writing, I haven’t even thought about plugging in my Wacom.

It’s no excuse, though. It can’t be. I know plenty of writers who are also artists.

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This is part of my Skyping corner. That blue picture of fairies? That’s a Carrie Jones. Proof that a writer can incorporate time for artwork in her day…

One thing I know for sure is that it does not work to wait until the end of the day and try to squeeze in some artwork. I’m tired. My brain doesn’t work anymore. All I want to do by the time I’m officially done with all writing-related work is read or (if I’m really fried) watch an hour of TV (I’ve just recently discovered Homeland).

But I’m going to take a page from my writing life. I’m going to put a sketchbook (or my drawing tablet) off to the side. During longer writing days, when I need to take a breather, I’m going to do a bit of sketching. There are so many things I want to work on: my line work, improving texture and use of shadow, etc., etc., etc. But those things will never improve if I don’t work on them. Ten or twenty minutes a day doesn’t sound like a lot, but it can really add up. My writing life is proof of that.

To try to keep myself honest, I also plan to post some of my work on IG. You can follow along here: instagram.com/hollyschindler

QUICK BOOK DESIGN TIP #2: INCORPORATING COVER FONTS

It truly is one of the easiest ways to give your print paperback a professional look: incorporate your cover fonts in the interior pages. If you’ve designed your own cover, you already have those fonts installed on your computer. If you’ve hired an outside designer, simply ask where you can purchase the fonts yourself. (The designer most likely purchased a single seat for the font, or the rights for only one user.)

Great places to include your cover fonts:

Title Page (it’s always nice mimic the actual layout of the title on the cover)

Chapter Titles

Drop Letters

First Lines of Chapters

Dedication Pages

Page Headers (especially if you’re including the title of the book in the header)

When cover fonts are incorporated in a book’s interior, they can offer a really nice feeling of continuity,  break up the sea of text in a novel, and create an overall polished piece.

 

 

HOW MUCH DESCRIPTION IS TOO MUCH?

I never thought I’d say this, but almost all of it.

I used to be huge on description. Writing it and reading it. I was one of the weirdos who loved long juicy paragraphs filled with artistic depictions and metaphors and…

Well. You get the picture.

Lately, though, I’ve been questioning how much is enjoyable for readers. For the most part, I’d say readers want to know what the story is. “Tell me a good yarn,” a reader will say. “Don’t bog down the story.”

It seems to me, then, that description should further the story. That’s it. That’s really description’s job. It’s not to pretty up the pages. It’s to help drive and shape the plot.

Internal / Emotional Description

Oh, man, this is where I could just spend days as a writer. The internal world of the characters. How they feel at any given moment. What they’re thinking. Again, though, if description’s job is to further the story, the internal world should really be focused on lines of thought that show a character’s motivation. Explain why a character is behaving a certain way. Or about to behave in a certain way. Then those descriptions will inevitably lead to action.

Physical Description

New writers often get lost in this one: describing every character’s outfit. The shape of noses. The way their hair is cut. And really, it’s the type of description you need the least of. You really don’t need much in the way of physical description to bring a character to life. Ask yourself: What kinds of characteristics help paint a picture of who a character is?

For example, a character with a repeatedly-broken nose might be a hothead who winds up ruffling feathers throughout, in ways that create tension and, of course, lead to moments of intense action in the book.

Setting

Nothing sets the tone of a piece quite like setting. But settings also shape what kinds of events can take place. Certainly, small towns offer different types of gatherings and chances for characters to meet up (I just recently discovered the Gilmore Girls, so of course I’m thinking here of Stars Hollow). Sometimes, though, characters can be confined–locked into buildings, or quarantined. They can be in jury duty. Or jail. They might be on a long airplane flight. How is action different in these settings as compared to characters who are in bigger cities, or have freedom to move about?

Where you set your book can have a real impact on the action that can logically take place. When you describe your setting, especially at the opening of a book, think about the plot points you have planned or outlined. And think about what details the reader needs to know in order to be prepared for those events.

Tying description to the action will help keep you from providing too much information, too many long paragraphs that seem (to the reader) to amount to nothing of substance. In this way, instead of bogging your book down, description can actually add propulsion, giving your work a new page-turning element.

 

CALLING ALL BLOGGERS

I discovered the book blogosphere in ’09. I had sold my first book, A BLUE SO DARK, and I was taking my very first steps into developing an online life. Seems strange to say now, but back then, I had no online presence at all—no social media accounts, no digital subscriptions, nothing.

It all felt so strange to me.

And then…

The blogosphere.

I met bloggers coast-to-coast…and in Puerto Rico…England…Readers utterly devoted to their genre of choice. To helping authors spread word of their work. In ten years, bloggers have hosted interviews and vlogs and giveaways. They’ve reviewed my work. They’ve participated in cover reveals…

And more.

The “more” being that over the years, we’ve continued to be in contact. I’ve been in touch with YA reviewers who went on to college, then graduated college, then became teachers or writers themselves. We’ve shared triumphs and heartaches.

It’s been a powerful community. Emphasis on “community.” I’m eternally grateful to be part of it.

I’m sending out the call to adult bloggers—like contemporary fiction? A slight dash of magic? Maybe even some reinvented fairy tales? Non-traditional characters? Not-you-typical love stories?

Please do get in touch: hollyschindlerbooks (at) gmail (dot) com. I’d love to add you to the review team.

The best part of any “community” is that it can (and should!) be constantly growing.

COVER REVEAL: THE ART OF THE KISS

The Art of the Kiss

A young photographer, an old camera, and a bit of magic disturb the dust, setting in motion events that will reawaken a love story fifty years in the making.

Art of the Kiss final

This is not your typical love story.

It’s about the guts of a long-term relationship. It’s about dreams and the loss of youth and fame. It’s something of a reinvented fairy tale. It’s a little bit magical.

So sure, it’s about love. But it’s also about much, much more.

I’ve been working on The Art of the Kiss off and on now for over a year. Told in snapshots, in a non-linear format, with multiple POVs. This novel demanded it be written in a somewhat non-conventional way.


From the back cover:

Can you have more than one happily ever after?

Taken in a flash at the beginning of their life together, Sharon Minyard’s portrait of herself and her husband, Michael, hangs on her studio wall as a testament to the possibility of love.

Once drawing crowds to gaze in wonder, it has since become all but forgotten—until a young photographer, an old camera, and a bit of magic disturb the dust, setting in motion events that will revive its meaning…

Showing—in black and white—that in a town named Fairyland, the dream of forever is but a snapshot away.


Okay, that was more than just a cover reveal. But you don’t work on a book for more than a year and not get excited it about actually seeing it in the world!

To celebrate, the book is discounted during its pre-order period. You can snag a copy here.

DELUXE SUPERHERO WRITING JOURNAL

 

I’m delighted to announce a deluxe edition to my writing guide, INVENT YOUR OWN SUPERHERO, is now available on Amazon as an e-book and paperback.

What makes it deluxe?
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A new cover! This one’s brighter, and features a wider array of kids’ faces. I wanted to make sure all kids had a better chance to see themselves represented on the cover.

The deluxe edition still uses the superhero story structure to hook kids on writing. I’ve included all the same story prompts to introduce young writers to concepts like protagonists and antagonists, conflict, backstory, etc.

In this edition, I’ve also included the full text of my own original superhero story:

THE ADVENTURES OF SUPER SUSAN

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I invented (and illustrated) this character when I was a young author: a hero with superhuman kindness!

 

I dusted off the Super Susan character and wrote a new story featuring her last year. (I felt that nothing was quite as timely as a hero whose superpower was kindness!)

The deluxe edition includes reading questions that illustrate how the concepts introduced in the superhero journal come into play in Susan’s tale. It proves all those prompts and concepts really do gel into a single cohesive story.

Susan’s story and the reading questions will help young authors who have worked their way through journal prompts but still aren’t quite sure what to do with all the ideas they’ve brainstormed.

The deluxe edition truly is two books in one! Part fiction, part how-to…and the supplemental reading questions help tie the whole thing together.

Great for classrooms or individual use, the book will be available in wide-release. If you’re a wholesaler, it will also be available via Ingram. You can snag an e-book or paperback at Amazon now.

NEWS, NEWS, NEWS – REVIEWERS NEEDED!

I feel like I’ve been posting incessantly about copyediting and polishing…now, I’m finally ready to start talking about publishing!

I’ve got a couple different projects–for two different age groups–about to release.

ADULT

The first is an adult general fiction novel. I’ve been working on this one in fits and spurts for more than a year. I know, I know–on blogs and on social media, us writers (yep, myself included) have always had a tendency to slobber over pending releases like proud parents. How many times have you heard all of us proclaim, “This is the book of my heart!”?? I’ll soooo be guilty of this if I spend too much time describing the work. (In fact, that sentence popped into my head as I started to write this post.) I’ll just say here I’m really excited about this one. I’ve experimented slightly with overall structure, and my main characters are again somewhat non-traditional.

I’m also looking to expand my pool of reviewers. I’ll be distributing my initial review copies through my newsletter. I hope you sign up for my adult newsletter–which will also provide early cover reveals, etc.–here.

MG

The second soon-to-release book is a new MG work. It’s a blend of fiction and how-to; if you’re a teacher or tutor or a parent who knows you’ll soon be looking for something to keep your kids’ minds engaged over the summer months, I hope you’ll sign up for my MG-specific newsletter. Again, I’m looking to expand my pool of reviewers, and I’ll be offering opportunities for newsletter subscribers to get their hands on a copy for review. Sign up for the MG newsletter here.