Deep Point-of-View/Active Verbiage Writing Example

From Ann Videan’s “Fathoming Deep Point of View” workshop for the Society of Southwestern Authors. Sept. 26, 2021. Full workshop slide set available at https://www.slideshare.net/avidean/edit_my_uploads

Everything you ALWAYS wanted to know about book cover creation

At the March 11, 2021, Zoom gathering of the Alliance for Literary Writers, Authors & Yabbering Scribes (ALWAYS), our established authors shared a roundtable discussion about creating compelling book covers. I want to share with you some highlights from our discussion.

Thank you Humayun Ahmed. “A photo collage of book covers.” en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humayun_Ahmed

Absolutes:

  • Use large, readable type, especially for the title and author name. The words must be visible and stand out in thumbnail size, which is how most readers will first see your book.
  • Make sure the cover art/photo fits your genre. Just a visit to a section of a bookstore or Amazon page with your genre will give you the idea of what to strive for.
  • One strong image attracts the eye more than several small ones.
  • Use colors that mimic the mood of your book contents.
  • If you use a photo of your characters on the cover, they must match the characters descriptions in the book.
  • Here is a blog I found from “Creative Indie” Derek Murphy describing eight traditional publishers’ cover design tips.

Ideas:

  • Use author/creative writing professor Deborah Chester’s “Story Question” as starting point for your back-cover book blurb. These two sentences cover all the main points in your story: 
    WHEN SOMETHING HAPPENS*, *YOUR PROTAGONIST* *PURSUES A GOAL*. But will he succeed when *ANTAGONIST PROVIDES OPPOSITION*?
  • End your blurb with one word having to do with death, enlightenment, or love.
  • You can update your covers any time you want. You might even try testing a “split” cover, giving readers two options, to see which image sells the book better.

Logistics and resources:

If you have ideas or resources to share, please include them in the comments below.

………..

Write on!
Ann Narcisian Videan, Book Shepherd
Write • Edit • Publish

P.S. Learn more about my novels on my Amazon Author Central page.

Find me elsewhere online.

A secret tool to create a catchy book blurb

First, a few points about book blurbs:

  • You have only a few seconds to intrigue a reader when they look at the back of your book. If you give them a lengthy synopsis (a plot-point by plot-point description), you can easily lose them in the detail. Synopses are for agents, editors, and publishers who want to know each step of the storyline, including the ending. A synopsis is an informative piece.
  • Blurbs need to be relatively short—just a couple of paragraphs, if possible—hitting the compelling highlights of the characters’ and the story’s arcs, but not giving away the ending. It serves as a teaser to interest readers enough to open the book to learn more, or to buy it. A book blurb is a marketing piece.
  • “Real estate” on the back of a book is valuable. It needs to include compelling words to entice readers to look inside and buy. That includes the blurb, testimonials, perhaps a tagline, maybe some author info/photo; not to mention the business and purchasing items like the publishing info and barcode. A long blurb takes up too much space to allow easy readability of the other detail on the back cover.
  • Authors almost always use the book blurb on their Amazon book page listing, too. Readers don’t spend a lot of time checking out a book online. Here’s how it goes…
    • If a reader likes the thumbnail, they click to see the details.
    • If they like the cover, up-close, they scroll down to the description.
    • If the description is too long, or doesn’t have an immediate hook, they leave your page and start searching for something else and you’ve lost them.
    • If the description grabs them quickly, they scroll back up to the “Look Inside” feature to learn more.
    • If they like what they see inside, they buy.
    • Readers holding a physical book follow the same process (obviously, without all the clicking and scrolling). 🙂

So, with all of that said, a short and punchy blurb works best. Hook the reader with compelling highlights without telling them everything that happens in the story. What you need instead of a short synopsis with too much detail, is a quick hook to entice a reader to want to know more about the story… an enticing marketing blurb.

And now my secret for writing the best blurbs ever…
Deborah Chester’s/Jim Butcher’s STORY QUESTION

WHEN SOMETHING HAPPENS*, *YOUR PROTAGONIST* *PURSUES A GOAL*. But will he succeed when *ANTAGONIST PROVIDES OPPOSITION*?

This is a two-sentence description which can serve as the perfect foundation for your book blurb. Of course, you’ll probably want to embellish with some details within and around the story question, but it will start you off in fine shape.

When I read the first book in Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series, it hit me as so powerful I had to go figure out his process for great storytelling. The Story Question is one of the tools I discovered he uses, taught to him by his mentor, Deborah Chester.

Maybe using color coding for some of the phrases, below, will help you see how this works?

When something happensyour protagonist pursues a goal. But, will they succeed when the antagonist provides opposition?

The story question gives you the main points in your book:

  • Inciting incident
  • Main good character
  • The story’s overall goal
  • Villain/opposing character
  • The conflict

Example: Harry Potter, book 1

When he finds out he’s a wizardHarry Potter moves to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to learn about magic and his mysterious past. But, will he succeed when the dark Lord Voldemort, who killed Harry’s parents, returns to retrieve an immortality stone so he can destroy the young student?

An imaginary nonfiction inspirational book example:

Growing up in a cloud of fear and self-doubtSusan goes on a spiritual quest to find herselfFloundering to develop self-worth while unemployed and in the midst of a divorce with her unfaithful husband, will she be able to use her mind and will to overcome the hardships and forge a path to joy and fulfillment? Or will spirit intervene?

………..

Write on!
Ann Narcisian Videan, Book Shepherd
Write • Edit • Publish • Word-of-mouth strategy

P.S. Learn more about my novels on my Amazon Author Central page.

Find me elsewhere online.

Three top writing tips to captivate a reader

While reviewing a blog I ran across at the Self-Publishing School site, I realized their points covered some of the main techniques I teach in my writing workshops to overcome these issues. Study the few tips below, and you’ll be amazed at how your words jump off the page!

  • Avoid passive voice, use active voice instead
    • Passive voice often uses inactive verbs followed by words ending in “-ed”
      or “-ing”
      • Passive voice = is cheering, are praying, have binged
      • Active voice = cheer, prays, binged
    • In active voice, you start your sentences with the subject and use an active verb to describe what the subject does. 
  • Don’t use weak verbs, use active verbs instead
    • Inactive/”to be” verbs = is, was, has, have, be, been
    • Active verbs create a mental picture: cheers, pray, binged, stumble, stared
  • Why use emotion explaining, when you can simply show physical reactions? 
    • Climb into a character’s skin and experience what they taste, feel, hear, smell, and do.
    • Beauty is in the details… describe how someone’s hands shake and lips quiver when they tremble in “fear.”

Write on!
Ann Narcisian Videan, Book Shepherd
Write • Edit • Publish • Word-of-mouth strategy

P.S. Learn more about my novels on my Amazon Author Central page.

Ann Videan’s Phoenix-area writing events this spring:

Ann with her books at the Tempe Public Library

You may benefit from these writing events…

Alliance for Literary Writers, Authors, and Yabbering Scribes (ALWAYS)

Meet in-person with the ALWAYS writers’ tribe of established authors to discuss writing and support one another. In March, we’re talking about the structure of the ALWAYS group and how to better interact with and support one another. I hope you can join us! (We meet the second Thursday of each month in Gilbert, except for the first Thursday of each quarter when we meet in Phoenix.)
Romeo’s Euro Cafe, downtown Gilbert, AZ
11:30 a.m., Thurs., March 14, 2019

My Words Jump Off The Page!
[A presentation at the Society of Southwestern Authors—Valley of the Sun Chapter.]

Authors, learn a handful of writing and editing techniques to help you discover ways to build visual imagery and emotion, and subconsciously compel readers into your story. I’ll share my thirty years of marketing experience to show you how to make your story “jump off the page” for readers and publishers. In this two-hour hands-on session, explore:

  • The edits I make most often as an editor
  •  What to look for when hiring an editor
  • Leveraging the scene question to develop a compelling plot line
  • Writing with active voice, and deep point-of-view
  • More effective editing tips using MS Word

Tempe Public Library
2:30–4:40 p.m., Sunday, April 28, 2019


Write on!
Ann Narcisian Videan, Book Shepherd
Write • Edit • Publish • Word-of-mouth strategy

P.S. Learn more about my novels on my Amazon Author Central page.

 

Sticker Mule: “Merch” Made Easy

 

bronze finals - 01

Okay, it has no sticker, but it is a mule!  You’ll find Sticker Mule and much more info at the link provided.

Authors—or anyone marketing—are you looking for an awesome place to buy affordable printed “merch” for your books or products? You know… marketing merchandise, like stickers, buttons, labels, magnets, packaging, and such? Maybe something imprinted with the cover of your book?

Sticker Mule is your answer.

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Haley’s upcoming book release.

One of my author friends, Haley Rose, uses them with relish to raise awareness for her darling, educational children’s picture books.

Direct from Sticker Mule’s website, here’s what they’re about: “We relentlessly focus on making it fast and easy to order custom products. Order in seconds and get your products in days. Free proofs, free artwork help, free shipping, and fast turnaround are why people love us.”


Write on! Ann Narcisian Videan, Book Shepherd
Write • Edit • Publish • Word-of-mouth

New book debuts at conference for savvy women business owners

Book 3 in the Living Brave series debuts later this month at the “Voices of Success” conference.

You know how hearing just one comment, or reading a certain book can alter your life journey? Well, there’s such a moment coming up for you…

I had the honor to edit and produce the latest book in the Living Brave series by Dr. Hilda Villaverde and Mary Beth Stern: Living Brave… Women in Business: Compelling Stories of How ONE Can Make a Difference. It is filled with life-altering input from nearly fifty Arizona women thriving in business.

The book will be released in just a couple of weeks, but if you want to hear some of these women’s stories first-hand, you really should consider attending the authors’ “Voices of Success” conference, offering a day of inspiration. I highly recommend you invest in your future with this day-long session where you’ll learn how women just like you succeeded in business by using their skills, backgrounds, and sheer will to overcome whatever stood in their way.

Please join Hilda and Mary Beth for the  “Voices of Success” conference:
Sat. Oct. 27, 2018
8 a.m.– 5p.m.

Scottsdale Hilton Resort
6333 N. Scottsdale Road
Scottsdale, AZ 85250

You will find all the details here, including how to register.


Write on! Ann Narcisian Videan, Book Shepherd
Write • Edit • Publish • Word-of-mouth strategy

 

Rugby intimidation and New Zealand magic

Magical New Zealand forms the backdrop for my Delfaerune Rhapsody series. The land of the Maori. Are you thinking, “Maori? Wha—?” They are the native people of those majestic and diverse islands in the southwest Pacific Ocean.

One way the Maori have become better known in our current culture is through the All Blacks’s “Ka Mate,” which they perform as a group before each rugby match. This “haka“—traditional Maori war cry, war dance, or challenge—incorporates bulging eyes, long tongues, threatening stances, and shouts. Intimidating, right?

That’s why I pull elements from the haka to liven up my battle scenes, especially by my burned-out-rock-star-esque Dark Fae.

All_Blacks_Haka

haka

Rotorua, New Zealand “Hangi” village 3/2008 ©ANVidean

Also, many of the words I use in the stories come from the native people’s language. To represent “bad magic,” I use the Maori term “mākutu.” Another is “karakia.” It doesn’t translate exactly to “good magic,” but you can see how my use of it captures the spirit when you visit the official online Maori Dictionary.

Yes, that is a thing, and, if you click on the links I provide, you can read the Maori definitions and hear the pronunciations, too.

If you want a real trip, look at all the words that come up under “spell.” Don’t be surprised if you find a few more of these terms in my future writings.

What other words/translations do you know for “spell or “magic?” Please share!

…………………..

Write on!
Ann Narcisian Videan
ann@annvidean.com

Author, Song of the Ocarina
Author/illustrator, Enchanted Faerie Portals Coloring & Creative Writing Pages
Co-founder, Absolutely Wild! Enchanted Faerie Portals & Other Whimsy

Write. Edit. Publish. Word-of-mouth strategy.
Check out my Book Shepherding consultations.

 

 

Book or movie? Choose your poison – ALWAYS.

Videan's Party Tree hug

The party tree—where Bilbo celebrated his eleventieth birthday—on the Alexander Farm film set in New Zealand. Is the tree described better by Tolkien, or more poignant in the screenplay/on screen in the Lord of the Rings movies? Come share your opinion. And, bring your own favorite adaptions to discuss. Hobbiton photo: ©2008 ANVidean.

Lord of the Rings: Tolkein vs. Jackson, which do you prefer?
Twilight saga: Book series or film adaptations?
Bridges of Madison County: Read or watch?

For something a bit different to discuss at our June meeting, let’s compare the writing and stories in book(s) versus movie(s).
Should there even be a debate? Join us for the roundtable discussion in our June 2018 gathering in Gilbert, AZ.

Here’s the usual agenda:
11:30 introductions with writing tips
11:50 order lunch
11:55 writing discussion/sharing
1 p.m. pay individual bills and adjourn (to go write!)

Next gathering:
Thursday, June 14, 2018
11:30 a.m.–1 p.m.
(ALWAYS typically meets on the second Thursday of the month.)

Where:
Romeo’s Euro Cafe
207 N Gilbert Rd.
Gilbert, AZ 85234
(480) 962-4224

Cost:
A writing tip, and your own lunch.

RSVP:
PLEASE show the consideration of reserving your spot at the table by:
• RSVPing through the “Going” link on our Facebook Event page
or
• Contacting Ann Videan, ann@annvidean.com

If you’ve RSVP’d, please SHOW UP. If you run into a conflict, please let me know BEFORE the event so I can make the necessary adjustments for the group meeting. Cheers!
…………………………………………………………….

ABOUT ALWAYS

Are you an established writer who:
• Needs contacts to help your writing?
• Wants advice about your writing?
• Likes to hang with other cool writers?

If so, our tribe – the Alliance for Literary Writers, Authors & Yabbering Scribes (ALWAYS) – is the place for you. We’re an informal group of established writers looking for camaraderie, ideas, enlightenment and connection with writers, especially in the Phoenix metro area, to talk about our craft and businesses.

Any established writer can connect with us online through our ALWAYS Facebook page, get listed in our directory of writers on our ALWAYS LinkedIn page, or you can meet with us in person at a lunch meeting. We’d love to have any experienced writer join us at our next meeting … anyone who spends a significant part of his/her week writing, and wants to rub elbows with other writers.

Novel excerpt reveals fearsome Fae leader, plus blue suede shoes

shoes-2106637_640In this excerpt from my upcoming book, Beat of the Pakiri, my protagonist Lark has just returned home from a near disaster, while out practicing her new unauthorized spell. As she faces the wrath of the realm’s leadership, you’ll find out why even the powerful teenaged protagonist fears this intimidating Fae leader.

You’ll also meet one of the little winged faeries… who has earned a king of a name.

The Acting Magistra of Karakia—among the most powerful spell casters in the realm—wasn’t someone Lark ever wanted to cross, let alone annoy. Summer Windish stalked forward, her elegant frame stiff, hazel eyes blazing, with energy wafting off of her like a sirocco wind. With her brunette hair lifting in billowy waves around her head, she engendered the dark queen Galadriel’s visage as she rejected the offer of The One Ring.

The human movie image playing through Lark’s mind cut off abruptly when the acting magistra stopped inside her comfort zone and leaned in.

“Lady Lark, what in the realm do you think you are doing? Throwing new spells around without appropriate clearance or support. As if we don’t have enough elemental upheaval already! And, doing it in the lap of our enemies and kidnappers of your parents, our leaders. What were you thinking?”

Lark drew back, grasping for the confidence to deal with her situation. She remembered how her father handled conflict, even among the most powerful Fae in the realm, when he was the Magistrate of Karakia. The mental image of his fierce frown and piercing brown eyes buoyed her inner strength. Feigning a calm demeanor, she turned her father’s adopted stare on the acting magistra.

No matter what Summer Windish said, trying the unauthorized elemental spell was the right thing to do. And, it had almost worked. If the blasted Stones family hadn’t shown up to interrupt her, she and The Earth Mother might have actually helped to partially reverse Delfaerune’s elemental devastation.

She tightened her lips and continued to stare levelly at the acting magistra, who clearly waited for a response. Allowing the silence to stretch, Lark took the moment to compose the emotion vibrating through her body. How better to diffuse a heated accusation than to change the topic?

“How do you even know what happened? I’ve just returned.”

“You can’t possibly know of the machinations the Division has in place to keep the realm, not to mention you, safe, M’Lady. Do you think we’d just allow you to go running around the realm alone and unguarded?”

Lark’s gaze moved to her bodyguards, who stood among the security contingent in formation around River. She thought she’d been so smart to escape her Bulky Boys before dawn this morning. Guess not. When her gaze caught Leif Derrick’s, he hung his head. Next to him, Sonny Wattyr turned an alarming shade of red as a little winged faerie, sporting a bedazzled white cape, flew over their heads. The creature landed his little blue suede shoes on the guard’s broad shoulder and stared at Lark, his wide grin spreading between long sideburns.

What in the realm is the notorious “Elvish” doing here?

Let me know what you think, will you? 🙂

…………………..

Write on!
Ann Narcisian Videan
Write. Edit. Publish. Word-of-mouth strategy.
Check out my books on Amazon and Kindle.
ann@annvidean.com