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Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge

Each Wednesday from January 9 – December 18, 2019, Long and Short Reviews is hosting a weekly blog hop.

Blogging is a fun way to meet people and get to know them. We’re offering a weekly “prompt” for authors, non-authors, bookish folks and others to share something weekly and gain new friends and visitors to the blog. There’s no pressure to write something every week (though it should be fun and a challenge), but we do ask that if you do post something, you share your link on the weekly post we’ll put up at our site (it will be the top post on the home page each Wednesday morning) — the link list will be open for new links for 48 hours. Other bloggers will also share their links and you can hop over and see what they have to share.

February 20th – What To Read To Learn About X

I’ve missed a couple weeks of this, but I’m doing these weekly blog challenges kind of casually so it’s not a big deal. I’m back today to answer this week’s question, though!

Since I’m a writer it would be easy to list books that help you learn about writing, but most writers probably already have a list of those, or can easily find them anywhere on the internet. I tried to come up with something more unique. It does, however, pertain to writing–specifically, writing about places you’ve never visited.

To learn more about (most) any place in the world–especially places you’ve never actually seen–read Google Maps!

More precisely, use the ‘Street View’ mode on Google Maps wherever it’s available: and it’s available far more widely than you can imagine. Even some of the most remote, barely-traveled places on earth have been photographed and mapped by it. I’ve used it countless times to get a feel for, or details about, places that I haven’t actually seen in person. It’s one of my best-used tools when creating settings for my books. Even for places where I have been (like Chicago in multiple books I’ve written), it helps in areas that I haven’t visited, or that I don’t remember clearly. I tend to be a writer who likes to keep settings close to what they are in the real world, so it’s something I rely on a lot. It makes it so I don’t have to always write about places I know, or places I make up.

Have you ever used a tool like Google Maps to help you ‘see’ a place you’re writing about?

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As you might remember, I will be a guest author at the first ever East Coast Author’s Convention held October 4-6 2019. I’m really excited about it! If you’re going, or thinking you might like to attend a fun romance convention, tickets are on sale now. There’s lots of events to attend, some of which are free (but require a ticket to save your spot). I’ll be signing at the book fair in Evernight’s boardroom! Evernight will be hosting several other events that I’ll be a part of as well. You can check the schedule for more info.

Additionally, there’s a giveaway! You can win 4 free tickets to the book fair held on Saturday, October 5th. Just scroll down here for the Rafflecopter widget!

And last but not least, a reader’s choice awards is underway for the convention. Even if you’re not attending, you can vote. I’m up for three categories: Best Side Character (Luci Rossi from Boyfriend Material), Best Dark Romance (for Star-Crossed), and Author of the Year. Just an FYI *hinthint* 😉

Anyone planning on coming or think you might like to attend? It’s going to be a fun time for romance readers and authors alike!

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Today is the day! Tickets are now on sale for the East Coast Author Convention, where I’ll be one of the guest authors–taking place October 4-5 2019 in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

**Tickets are on sale HERE for the main events.**

**Visit this page for other activities, some of which are still TBA as far as time/prices/ticket sales.**

Hope to see you there!

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It’s time for the Author Toolbox Blog Hop! The hop takes place the third Wednesday of every month (minus November/December) and focuses on the sharing of resources and learning tools for authors.

Stop by the hop page and check out all the participants and their posts this month! Also check out #AuthorToolboxBlogHop on Twitter.

A Common Theme

Many times authors don’t just write one book with the same characters and world–series, sequels, trilogies, quadrilogies and more are pretty common in a variety of genres. They’re often found in sci-fi and fantasy, and in the genre I write, romance. It’s also common in the mystery world, with multi-volume series that focus on one sleuth or detective. It’s this last example that brings me to what I want to talk about today:

The shared world series.

A “shared world” is usually written one of two major ways: either the main character or several major characters appear in every book, but the books only interconnect insofar as they take place in the same universe; or, every book has different characters but takes place in the same world with the same premise. Personally, I’m writing about this subject right now because I’m currently writing a shared world series. Mine is in the second format: every book has different characters, but they all have similar experiences in the same universe, revolving around the same premise. The first book in this series will come out this spring–I can’t wait!–but I’ve also written several more books in this series already.

Shared worlds, no matter how they’re written, have a few key components:

  • The books can be read in any order and still make sense–they’re not dependent on each other the way sequels and trilogies are. It’s not a single story told across multiple books.
  • The same characters or same premise/subjects appear in each book.
  • The set-up of the universe generally has to be explained in every book, to make them stand-alone.

As I write this series, I’m finding the last point to be the most challenging. Even though by this time I know everything about the world I’m writing in, and it’s been presented in every book so far, I have to explain the key components over again in each book no matter how annoying it is for me. That’s because every book could be the first book the reader picks up. The hard part is that I have to do it without repeating myself to the point a reader reading EVERY book would feel like I’m just being repetitive, and do it in a creative way that makes it non-invasive and part of the story. I’m trying to do this by adding new details to the setup every time and varying things a little. Yes, it’s a challenge–but it’s fun!

I know a lot of readers enjoy a shared world series. It’s great to write too, because you get to explore new characters and stories but with an established background already in place. Do you read books like this? Do you write them? Let me know in the comments!

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It’s time for the Author Toolbox Blog Hop! The hop takes place the third Wednesday of every month (minus November/December) and focuses on the sharing of resources and learning tools for authors.

Stop by the hop page and check out all the participants and their posts this month! Also check out #AuthorToolboxBlogHop on Twitter.

Inside, Not Outside

If you’ve been writing for a while, you’ve probably heard the phrase “show, don’t tell” about a thousand times. This generally means instead of telling us that a character did something, you should show them completing the action. It provides more impact and makes for better reading. There’s different ways to “show,” however, that you might not have thought about before. One of the best things I ever learned from an editor is how to avoid filtering. Learning this lesson literally changed how I write.

What is filtering? Filtering is telling how a character feels, thinks, reacts, and perceives the world instead of showing it. Say you have a character named Joe. Filtering is telling us that “Joe thought,” “Joe wondered,” “Joe saw,” and “Joe heard.” If Joe is your POV character, we need to get deeper into his perspective. You should show us what’s going on in Joe’s head instead of explaining it. Here are some examples:

  • Instead of “Joe saw a dog on the street.”
  • Try “As Joe walked down the street, a brown and white dog loped past him.”

You don’t need to explain to us that Joe saw the dog. The fact that the dog is being described lets us know that Joe saw it–after all, we’re in his head.

  • Instead of “Joe heard music playing.”
  • Try “A soft melody came from the other room. Joe smiled. It was a familiar tune.”

Especially when it comes to things that involve the senses, it’s better to describe the thing that activates the sense rather than just saying the sense was activated. This puts us more in the moment, experiencing it along with the character.

This works with more abstract things like thinking and knowing as well.

  • Instead of “Joe knew something bad was about to happen.”
  • Try “A cold chill rushed down Joe’s spine. His skin prickled. Something wasn’t right here.”

We feel what Joe is feeling when the author describes what’s happening to him, instead of just telling us he senses that something is wrong. We all know what it’s like to be afraid, sick, happy, jealous, glad, and a million other emotions…and the storytelling is much stronger when the author evokes these emotions in the reader rather than telling us about them. It also helps us connect more with the character, not just because the character seems more real, but because how the character reacts tells us a lot about their personality.

A good way to eliminate this sort of filtering is to do a sweep of your manuscript and search for sensory words like felt, heard, saw, tasted, and smelled. Also look for words like knew, thought, and sensed. Of course, not every single use of these sorts of words will be wrong. No writing rule is without exceptions. There may be times where it’s very much appropriate to use filtering. But as a general rule, eliminating filtering makes a story more immediate and provoking. It’s very much a way of showing instead of telling.

Getting rid of filtering was one of the best things I ever learned to do. It made my writing a lot tighter and more like a “story.” What’s a good rule you learned that changed your writing?