Hardcovers are Here (and I Have Coupon Codes!)

BIG NEWS! Hardcovers for The Magic Eaters Trilogy (plus the prequel, The Seer’s Sister) are available for the first time ever … and I have coupon codes for signed copies!

Aren’t they gorgeous? Thank you to my amazing cover designer, Mariah Sinclair, who did a gorgeous job with these!

Because I cut out the middle man when I sell these on my website, I can give you a discount. They’re already on sale, and I have coupon codes to make them even more affordable!

COUPON CODES (HARDCOVER):

  • FROSTHARDCOVER: $3 off The Frost Eater hardcover (total of $5 off with the existing sales price)
  • SERIESHARDCOVER: $8 off the entire series in hardcover (total of $18 off with the existing sales price!)

I also have paperbacks of The Seer’s Sister for those looking to complete their Magic Eaters series in paperback. And I got in a new shipment of paperbacks of the rest of the series too!

Once again, I have coupon codes for those kind enough to purchase my signed copies from this website.

COUPON CODES (PAPERBACK):

  • SEERPAPERBACK: $2 off The Seer’s Sister in paperback
  • SERIESPAPERBACK: $4 off all 4 books in paperback (total of $10 off with the existing sales price)

Click here to order your signed copies! (And yes, hard copies are available through Amazon and other websites throughout the world if you prefer to order that way.)

Enjoy these stories of magic, dragons, adventure, and love!

Author Resource: Atticus is a Formatting Software Alternative to Vellum (for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Chromebook)

I’m a huge fan of Vellum, software that formats ebooks and print books. It’s fantastic, user-friendly software and one of the investments I’ve been happiest that I made in my writing business.

However, Vellum is only available to Mac users. PC users often subscribe to the MacInCloud service to use Vellum, but for various reasons, many authors consider MacInCloud to be less than optimal.

Enter Atticus, a new formatting software that Dave Chesson from Kindlepreneur is putting out. It’s for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Chromebook. Here’s a screenshot:

I’m not planning to purchase Atticus, since I have a Mac and have already invested in Vellum. However, several days ago, I signed up to join their waitlist. I got an email today letting me know the first version of Atticus is available for a “special (secret) price” to early adopters. I don’t want to disclose the price here since it’s not public, but it costs far less than Vellum. It’s a one-time purchase that includes updates.

To sign up and get the chance to purchase Atticus, you can visit Atticus.pub.

Here are some observations I made as I looked into Atticus:

  • It’s pretty basic right now, but they have other features coming that will enable it to compete better with Vellum. These features will be free for all users. Check out their Roadmap to Launch for more info on the features.
  • It looks like Atticus will only generate ePub and print-ready PDF files. Those are perfect for uploading to Amazon and other platforms/distributors. However, If you want to share your manuscript directly with Kindle users (for instance, your alpha, beta, or ARC readers), you’ll need to convert the ePub to a mobi so they can “sideload” the file onto their Kindle. You can do this on BookFunnel (instructions here—they’re written for Vellum users, but this should work for Atticus users too) or using various free services like convert.io.

If you decide to try Atticus, I’d love to hear what you think. And may I just say … hooray for a Vellum alternative for non-Mac users!

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My Trilogy is Complete…and I’m Giving Away Books

I am over the moon. The Magic Eaters Trilogy is complete! It’s Launch Day for The Stone Eater.

To celebrate, I just finished drinking a massive Frappuccino. I’m also celebrating with you by putting the ebooks on sale for The Frost Eater (FREE, the best kind of sale) and The Vine Eater ($1.99). They’re only on sale for five days, through April 5. Check them out on Amazon.

Prefer paperbacks? When they’re this gorgeous (thank you, designer Mariah Sinclair!), I don’t blame you! For readers in the US, the entire series is on sale. Get all three books, signed, for $39.97 ($10 off the price if you purchased individually)! Snag the series here.

Raise a glass for me—it’s a day of celebration!

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0847F3XRV

Author Resources: Whose Head Are You In? Writing Multiple Points of View

On an ordinary day not too long ago, three characters gathered in a library.

Alpha drew in a deep breath. The scent of leather and paper filled her lungs. Intoxicating. Could there be a more perfect location than an old library?

“Excuse me,” someone said.

Alpha turned. “Hey, Beta! Isn’t this place great?”

Beta glared at her. He’d just been musing about whether he should climb a ladder to the higher shelves, but her thoughts had distracted him. “You’re obsessing over the scent of paper?” he said. “Really?”

“First, stay out of my head. Second, if you don’t understand the allure of old paper, you’re beyond help.”

“Could you both please shut up?” Gamma looked over her reading glasses at the other two. They were always like this, bickering constantly, when all she wanted—

“ ‘Bickering constantly?’ ” Alpha and Beta said in unison.

“How’d you hear my thoughts?” Gamma asked. “This scene is supposed to be in my point of view.”

“Apparently we’re all sharing the scene,” Alpha said. Sensing the silent groans of the two others, she looked at the ceiling, hoping the mythical Author of All Things was listening. “Hey, you! Word Lord! This is confusing!”

Photo by Olya Kobruseva from Pexels

Authors, any chance your characters—or readers—are as confused as these three, as you hop from one point of view to another?

Many of us, at one point or another, choose to write a novel with more than one point of view (or POV). I’ve written two trilogies in third person with multiple POV characters, and I’ve enjoyed the process thoroughly. It’s a blast exploring the thoughts of the hero and the villain or of both halves of a romantic partnership.

Multiple POVs can deepen and enrich narration, but they can also cause frustration for authors and readers. In this post, we’ll discuss how to use multiple POVs effectively. And while some talented authors write first person with multiple narrators, today we’ll focus on writing in third person.

There are two ways to write in third person with multiple POV characters: third person omniscient and third person limited.

When using third person omniscient, your narrator isn’t a character in the story, but they’re privy to the thoughts of every character in the story. Your narrator can give the reader a glimpse of the thoughts of multiple characters in one scene. Here’s an example:

Dan drove slowly, hoping the vase of flowers on the passenger’s seat didn’t topple over. He parked in his driveway and walked toward the front door.

Alma saw him coming from the kitchen window. Her pulse quickened when she saw the flowers. Unexpected gifts were her favorite sort. But she had to wonder if he was trying to make up for some transgression.

As the reader, we “hear” Dan’s thoughts (hoping the vase doesn’t fall) as well as Alma’s (who loves unexpected gifts but doesn’t quite trust her partner).

The second way to use multiple POVs in third-person writing is to use third person limited with multiple POVs. As with omniscient, the narrator isn’t a character. However, with this technique, the reader is only privy to one character’s thought per scene. Here’s the above scene, written in third person limited:

Dan drove slowly, hoping the vase of flowers on the passenger’s seat didn’t topple over. He parked in his driveway and walked toward the front door.

He saw the outline of Alma’s figure in the window. She’d told him a hundred times how much she loved unexpected gifts. He hoped she’d still love these roses when she heard the confession they came with.

In this case, we don’t have any idea what Alma is thinking. However, the next scene could be in her POV, which would allow us to get inside her head after her partner fesses up.

If you choose to write in third person with multiple POVs, you get to decide whether to write in omniscient or limited. I believe that in most cases with most modern books, limited is a better choice than omniscient.Here are several reasons why:

Embrace a Modern Style

  • Omniscient POV is a more classic style, so if you’re writing modern literature for modern audiences, it can easily feel dated. 
  • Limited (with multiple POV characters) is a more modern style. Many of today’s readers like to read one POV per scene, and if you plan to query agents and/or publishers, they may also prefer limited over omniscient.

Avoid Head Hopping

  • Omniscient POV can easily turn into head hopping.
  • What’s head hopping? It’s a when the narrator hops from one character’s head to the next within the same scene. Readers use the term head hopping when POV shifts feel jarring and/or happen too frequently. 
  • It’s possible to write in omniscient POV without head hopping. However, it can be difficult, and even if you think you’ve avoided head hopping, reviewers may disagree.

Immerse Your Readers in Your World

  • With limited POV, readers may more easily feel connected to your story and characters since they’re “spending time with” one character for an entire scene or chapter (or longer).
  • Limited POV is like going to a party and sitting with one person all night, really getting to know them, rather than hopping from one table to the next, having quick conversations.
  • You can give your readers the gift of depth and immersion by spending time in the head of one character per scene.

Go Deep

  • Limited POV allows you to easily shift into “deep” (also called “close”) POV, a subset of third-person POV.
  • In deep POV, you get so deep into your character’s head that the lines between narrator and POV character get blurred. 
  • Example: With a distant (not deep) POV, you might write, “Jarvis took the pickles off his burger. He couldn’t believe they’d gotten his order wrong again.” With deep POV, you could instead write, “Jarvis took the pickles off his burger. They’d gotten his order wrong…again. Unbelievable.” Note how the narration took on the tone of Jarvis’ thoughts. 
  • If you use deep POV within omniscient narration, there’s a good chance you’ll be accused of head hopping. Omniscient narrators need to stay distant so they can shift from one POV to the next without giving readers whiplash. Limited narrators can go deep.

If you decide to write in third-person limited POV with multiple POV characters, here are some tips to help you succeed:

Keep it Manageable

  • There are no hard-and-fast rules about how many POV characters you can use in third-person limited, but a smaller POV cast is often more effective than a bigger one. If you get inside too many characters’ heads, your readers may not connect with any of them. Sure, it would be fun to know exactly what the quirky candy-shop owner is thinking, but if she doesn’t play a major role in your book, she should stay in the background.
  • Some genres tend to have more POVs than others. For instance, if you write epic fantasy, your readers may accept several well-written POVs. If you write romance, your readers may expect only two.

One POV Per Scene or Chapter

  • Only shift POVs at scene changes or when you start a new chapter.
  • If shifting at a scene change, indicate the change with an ornamental break between the scenes. A common ornamental break is three asterisks (***). It should be on a line by itself, centered.

Identify Your POV Character Quickly

  • Some authors include the POV character’s name at the beginning of the scene or chapter, as a heading, like this:

Chapter 1

Mei

  • Regardless of whether you use the character’s name as a heading, indicate whose “head” you’re in quickly, so your readers can “center themselves.” For example, instead of starting a chapter or scene with, “Gold, pink, and orange clouds covered the eastern sky,” you could write, “Mei faced the gold-and-orange clouds in the east, letting the sunrise burn away her fear.”

Use Reaction Scenes

  • If you’re used to writing in omniscient POV, it can be hard to give up the freedom of hearing two characters’ thoughts within the same significant scene. You’ve spent an entire book building up to a big kiss, and now you’re supposed to only show it from one POV? Well, yes…but you can follow up with a scene showing the second character’s reaction to the big scene.
  • Example: In the book you’re writing, your two main characters, Ahmed and Rose, get kidnapped. First, show the kidnapping from Ahmed’s POV, focusing on his terror. By staying in his head, you’ll keep your readers on the edges of their seats, totally immersed in the intense scene. Once your poor characters are locked in a tiny cell together, follow up with a scene from Rose’s POV, showing how she’s hiding her own fear so she can comfort Ahmed. 

Let’s go back to the scene we started with. Imagine if we’d stayed in Alpha’s head the whole time. It might’ve gone something like this:

Alpha drew in a deep breath. The scent of leather and paper filled her lungs. Intoxicating. Could there be a more perfect location than an old library?

Her gaze fell on Beta. He was climbing a ladder that leaned against a bookshelf so tall, Alpha had to crane her neck to see the top. The rickety ladder squeaked as his foot moved to the next narrow rung. One of these days, Beta was gonna get himself killed. But if it happened in this place, Alpha supposed he’d die happy.

A gasp got her attention. She turned to see Gamma standing next to a stack of books almost as tall as she was—and Gamma was tall. Her eyes looked huge behind her reading glasses as she examined the pages of an old tome, her mouth gaping.

Beta and Gamma were both so immersed in their tasks, they seemed to have forgotten Alpha existed. It’s now or never

Alpha walked silently toward the southwest corner of the library. Her heart pounded and her mouth went dry as she approached the shelf of forbidden books.

Better, right? As the reader, you got to delve deep into Alpha’s mind, experiencing her time in the library right along with her and seeing her friends from her perspective. Maybe the next chapter will be in Beta’s or Gamma’s POV, but for now, you’re immersed in Alpha’s story.

There are no right or wrong points of view. However, if you’re a modern author planning to use multiple POVs in third-person writing, I encourage you to stay focused on one POV per scene or chapter. Your readers will thank you for bringing them along on a captivating, non-confusing ride…and maybe your characters will too.

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Author Resources: How to Download Booksprout Reviewer Email Addresses

I love Booksprout, a website that allows authors to connect with ARC reviewers. One of the reasons I continue to us them is because they provide me with reviewer email addresses so I can contact reviewers with reminders and information. (I discuss this in more detail in Early Readers Catch the Worms: How Alpha, Beta, & ARC Readers Can Help You Publish a Better Novel).

But one thing has always bugged me about Booksprout: they don’t give me a way to download those email addresses. I’ve always individually copied and pasted each one into an email, which feels like a waste of time.

Today, I figured out how to easily download the email addresses using a free Chrome extension! This 3 1/2-minute video will show you how.


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Author Resources on my website are 100% free. But if you’d like to buy me a coffee to thank me, click the “Tip Me” button at the bottom of the page!

Author Resources: Early Readers Catch the Worms

It’s here! Early Readers Catch the Worms: How Alpha, Beta, & ARC Readers Can Help You Publish a Better Novel is now on sale in ebook and paperback formats.

Authors, get the book that publishing expert Derek Murphy of Creativindie calls a “detailed guide” that “simplifies the process” of working with early readers.

•••

Empower yourself to build teams of alpha, beta, and ARC readers who follow through and help you write better novels!

Ever throw away an apple because you found a worm inside? Worms slither into novel manuscripts too … weaknesses and errors that make readers want to throw away a book (or trash it in reviews)! But effective early readers catch those worms.

This comprehensive guide will teach you to get results from your alpha and beta readers with these tools:



  • -Practical, step-by-step methods for building and optimizing early reader teams
  • -Simple strategies to improve reader follow-through
  • Access to over a dozen editable templates for communicating with alpha and beta readers

Jumpstart your book launch with early reviews! This book is packed with tips for building an ARC (Advance Review Copy) team, including:

  • -Where to find ARC readers
  • -How to encourage ARC readers to actually leave reviews
  • -A fun way to incentivize ARC readers to find your lingering typos

Whether you’re already published or about to write your first book, Early Readers Catch the Worms will help you crack the code on early reader systems so you can write a novel that readers want to buy.



Get the feedback you need … before you publish.

Organizing Alpha and Beta Reader Feedback

When I get lot of feedback from alpha or beta readers, I like to organize it in one document so it’s easier to do my revisions. This feedback document can get long though! Microsoft Word has a feature called the Navigation Pane, a clickable outline that makes it easier to navigate from one part of the document to another.

This short video (under five minutes) shows you how.

Want more step-by-step instructions and resources that will help you create successful alpha, beta, and ARC reader teams? My new book, Early Readers Catch the Worms, includes…

  • Access to a Resource Pack full of editable resources and templates to help you build early reader teams.
  • Suggestions for how to improve beta follow-through.

Buy your copy of Early Readers Catch the Worms: How Alpha, Beta, & ARC Readers Can Help You Publish a Better Novel by clicking here!

Cover of Early Readers Catch the Worms

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Author Resources on my website are 100% free. But if you’d like to buy me a coffee to thank me, click the “Tip Me” button at the bottom of the page!

A New Book…Written Just for Authors

I’m so excited to announce my newest book, a nonfiction manual written just for authors. It’s called Early Readers Catch the Worms: How Alpha, Beta, & ARC Readers Can Help You Publish a Better Novel.

It’s taken me years to build the effective early reader systems I use for my novels. I’m so excited to share those systems with you!


Empower yourself to build teams of alpha, beta, and ARC readers who follow through and help you write better novels!

Ever throw away an apple because you found a worm inside? Worms slither into novel manuscripts too … weaknesses and errors that make readers want to throw away a book (or trash it in reviews)! But effective early readers catch those worms.

This comprehensive guide will teach you to get results from your alpha and beta readers with these tools:

  • Practical, step-by-step methods for building and optimizing early reader teams
  • Simple strategies to improve reader follow-through
  • Access to over a dozen editable templates for communicating with alpha and beta readers

Jumpstart your book launch with early reviews! This book is packed with tips for building an ARC (Advance Review Copy) team, including:

  • Where to find ARC readers
  • How to encourage ARC readers to actually leave reviews
  • A fun way to incentivize ARC readers to find your lingering typos

Whether you’re self-published, traditionally published, or querying agents, Early Readers Catch the Worms will help you crack the code on early reader systems so you can write a novel that readers want to buy.

Get the feedback you need … before you publish.

Supercharge your alpha, beta, and ARC reader systems by buying Early Readers Catch the Worms!


Early Readers Catch the Worms book cover

Common Grammar Errors, Part 2: Italicized Internal Dialogue

This blog series addresses grammar and style errors many authors make.

Part 1 of this series is about how to properly punctuate dialogue tags and action tags. Click here to check out that post.

For Part 2, let’s talk about a related subject: italicized internal dialogue. (The errors here are more in style/tense/point of view than grammar, by the way.)

Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pexels

Introduction: Internal Dialogue

What is internal dialogue? Internal dialogue refers to the thoughts that occur in someone’s head. Examples: Wow, I look great in this shirt, or How dare my boss say that to me?

A couple of notes:

  • Not every author uses italics for their internal dialogue. It’s a style choice. I like writing in that style, so this blog post is written for others who like formatting their internal dialogue in the same way.
  • Internal dialogue isn’t the only way to share a character’s thoughts! Below, we’ll talk about properly sharing your character’s thoughts in two ways: through italicized internal dialogue and through narration.

Method 1 of Sharing a Character’s Thoughts: Italicized Internal Dialogue

Here’s the easiest way to think about italicized internal dialogue: it’s just like spoken dialogue; it just happens to be in a character’s head instead of spoken aloud!

That means italicized internal dialogue is…

  • …punctuated like spoken dialogue. The one difference is that the spoken part is italicized instead of being “in quotes.” To refresh your memory on how to punctuate dialogue, when to use capital letters, etc., go back to this post.
  • …written in the same point of view and tense as spoken dialogue. Internal dialogue is what your character is thinking at that moment.
    • If she’s thinking about herself, she’ll speak in first-person point of view, even if your novel is in third-person point of view. (She’ll refer to herself as I.)
    • If he’s thinking about what’s happening at that moment, he’ll be thinking in present tense, even if your novel is in past tense.

Here are several examples of italicized internal dialogue:

  • Julio, she thought, you are in a world of trouble! (This would work in a novel written in third person, past tense.)
  • Wow, that is one massive alligator. (Depending on context, this would work in a novel written in third person or first person and in past or present tense.)
  • I can’t believe it’s so expensive! they think. (This example uses singular they as a pronoun. This would work in a novel written in third person, present tense.)
  • Who drank the last of the milk? Min asks herself. (This would work in a novel written in third person, present tense.)
  • With effort, I swallowed. I’m gonna be sick. (This would work in a novel written in first person, past tense.)
  • Abby dragged herself out of bed. Who could be banging on my door at this hour? (This would work in a novel written in third person, past tense. Note that we didn’t need a dialogue tag; the action tag told us who was having the thought.)

Let’s talk briefly about first person, present tense.

  • You probably don’t need a lot of italicized internal dialogue if writing in first person, present tense. Most internal dialogue fits right in with the character’s narration. Example: I walk up to the house. I can’t believe my stepmother pulled out my mom’s roses. That second sentence might be internal dialogue, but you probably don’t need to set it apart with italics.
  • There are still valid reasons to use italicized internal dialogue with first person, present tense. Example: I glare at my boss. You are the worst person I’ve ever known. The truth of that thought sears my mind, but I manage to keep the words to myself.

Method 2 of Sharing a Character’s Thoughts: Narration

A character’s thoughts can be relayed by the narrator (if the narrator is privy to those thoughts, such as in first-person, third-person-limited, third-person-omniscient, or “deep/close” point of view).

When a narrator is relaying the character’s thoughts, they come through the filter of the narrator’s description. We aren’t reading the exact words going through the character’s brain. We’re reading the narrator’s description of those thoughts instead.

Even if the narrator is the character (first person), we can still hear the narrator’s description of their thoughts, rather than the thoughts themselves.

Here’s the biggest thing to remember about thoughts relayed by a narrator: they need to be treated the same as all other narration.

That means thoughts shared by a narrator are…

  • punctuated and formatted normally. No italics, no dialogue tags or action tags.
  • written from the same point of view and tense as the rest of the book. Whether you’re in first person or third person, present tense or past tense, stay there if the narrator is describing the character’s thoughts.

Here are several examples of a character’s thoughts, shared by a narrator.

  • She knew Julio was in a world of trouble. (This would work in a novel written in third person, past tense.)
  • He marvels at the massive alligator. (This would work in a novel written in third person, present tense.)
  • They can’t believe it’s so expensive. (This example uses singular they as a pronoun. This would work in a novel written in third person, present tense.)
  • Min considers who might have drunk the last of the milk. (This would work in a novel written in third person, present tense.)
  • With effort, I swallowed. I was about to get sick. (This would work in a novel written in first person, past tense.)

Let’s talk about close or deep point of view.

  • Close or deep third-person point of view is a popular point of view in modern novels.
  • In this point of view, the narrator is so close to the character’s thoughts that there’s some blurring of the lines between narrator and character.
  • Example: Abby dragged herself out of bed. Who would be banging on her door at this hour?
  • Note that the narrator doesn’t say, Abby wondered who would be banging on her door. Words such as “wondered,” “thought,” considered,” etc. tend to be used less in deep/close point of view. In deep point of view, the narrator will often describe what’s in the character’s head without reminding us that’s what they’re doing. We know from the context of the book or scene that the narrator is very close to this character’s thoughts.
  • Let’s go back to that example: Who would be banging on her door at this hour? Note the use of “this hour.” Wait a minute…that’s a present-tense phrase! Narrators in deep/close point of view sometimes use short phrases that the character would use. Basically, the narrator is close enough to the character to dabble in a tiny bit of present-tense or first-person language. Here are more examples:
    • Ivan watched her walk through the parking lot. Why was she here, at his office? (Note the use of “here” instead of “there.” It’s a one-word journey into the character’s perspective.)
    • Suma gazed at the lights strung across the back yard. This would be the best birthday party ever! (Note the use of “this.” Without deep point of view, it might’ve been written as, She knew the party would be the best ever.)
  • Unsure about these deep/close shifts in tense/point of view? You don’t have to use them. The more books you read in deep point of view (and many current novels are written this way), the more these little shifts are likely to become second nature to you.
  • Some authors go so deep in their writing that they use internal dialogue without italics (in third-person writing), and it flows perfectly. Brent Weeks does this really well in his Lightbringer series. It’s not currently my writing style, but maybe someday it will be!
  • One more note: It’s okay not to write a whole novel in close/deep point of view. You might write some parts that are more distant/less deep (such as when describing a new setting), before “zooming in” close to your character.

Typical Errors and How to Fix Them

Error 1 (the one I see most often by far)

  • Mistake: Jessika strolled through the garden. She’d never seen such vibrant roses. They were prettier than ever this year.
  • This is italicized as if it’s internal dialogue, but it’s written as past-tense, third-person narration.
  • Two valid corrections: Jessika strolled through the garden. She’d never seen such vibrant roses. They were prettier than ever this year. or Jessika strolled through the garden. I’ve never seen such vibrant roses. They’re prettier than ever this year.

Error 2

  • Mistake: I think I’ll have a salad, Lam thought.
  • The dialogue tag shouldn’t be italicized.
  • Correction: I think I’ll have a salad, Lam thought.

Beth nodded and smiled. I bet these authors are writing some amazing books.

(See what I did there?)

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