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Travel Recap – La Fortuna, Costa Rica

Happy Monday! I am back to reality after an amazing extended weekend in Costa Rica! My best friend from college and I take a trip every year together and this year we decided to be adventurous and head to Central America. I don’t think I’ve ever been anywhere more green. May is part of Costa Rica’s rainy season so it rained all day for 2 of the 3 days we were there, but luckily being in the rain forest and surrounded by waterfalls, we barely noticed. We stayed in La Fortuna, about 2.5-3 hours from the San Jose airport. Below is a recap of our adventure!

Getting to La Fortuna

We had private transportation arranged for us and once we passed through customs, we found someone holding a sign with our name on it to point us in the right direction. I would do private transfer again. It was totally worth it and with there being SO MANY people waiting for you outside the airport to take you places, it was great to know we had that secured and just looked for the sign.

The drive to La Fortuna is not for the faint of heart, or those with weak stomachs. The roads are windy and speed bumps come out of nowhere so it’s a lot of stop and go. If I had known that I may have brought some Dramamine! I kept my eyes closed for most of the ride. I did open them around San Ramon to see the town, but other than that I tried to sleep.

Staying in La Fortuna

We stayed at Hotel Lavas del Arenal. It was part of our adventure package and although nothing glamorous it had everything we needed. There was an outdoor restaurant open for breakfast and dinner. Breakfast was great, dinner not a huge amount of options if you don’t eat me. The pool was a bit chilly, but it was clean and we swam anyway and played Foosball. It was very quiet which we loved and it even had a mascot that greeted us as we arrived! Her name was Mia and she was the sweetest dog!

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Eating in La Fortuna

I’m so glad that we were able to eat out while we were there because the food in Costa Rica was SO good! We met an amazing group of people while on our trip and had a group dinner at a new restaurant called The Boathouse. I ordered fish in a mango sauce with coconut rice and it was mouthwatering.

Jessica and I went to downtown La Fortuna go dinner one night at Nene’s. I got the traditional shrimp and rice for dinner and we split Ceviche for an appetizer. I highly recommend the Ceviche. It was super tasty!

My favorite meal was at Organico Fortuna. We had lunch there on our last day. I loved the outdoor seating and everything on the menu was organic from my avocado sandwich to my energy boost coffee with a bamboo straw and Jessica’s banana bread for dessert. I wish I could pick this cute place up and bring it back to the U.S. with me!

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Adventure in La Fortuna

We did so much in 3 days thanks to Groupon!! Yup, we planned our vacation through Groupon. We found an awesome deal with a company called Adrenaline. Our tour guide Chris was amazing and made our trip 10 times better than we ever thought possible! He was so passionate about Costa Rica and genuinely wanted us to get everything out of our trip that we could.

Rio Celeste 

This was about an hour or so drive from La Fortuna. The hike is a workout, but totally worth it. We played roulette with this tour because with it being Costa Rica’s rainy season, the rain can turn the turquoise water brown, but we went early enough in the day that it was thankfully still blue! You definitely need hiking shoes and I wore long yoga pants and lots of bug spray. Jessica brought a waterproof phone case which was a life safer!  We wouldn’t have gotten such cool photos without it since it did rain pretty consistently the whole time.

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Chocolate and Coffee Tour

We did this tour on our last day in Costa Rica. With 2 full adventure packed days behind us, I am so glad we chose something less strenuous.The plantation was covered so we didn’t have to worry about rain, but there was still mosquitoes, so bug spray is a must.

It was really neat to hear the history of Costa Rican chocolate and learn how their coffee is made. We even had the opportunity to make our own chocolate bar. It tasted awful, but we tried. We ended up bringing home authentic chocolate bars made from professionals.

Hot Springs

I loved this!! It was so relaxing after 3 days of adventure. It was only a 20 or 30 minute drive with such great scenery along the way, including a volcano. When we got to the hot springs, we slid in and enjoyed an hour of relaxation.

Arenal Munda Adventure

Arenal Munda Aventura was day 2 of our trip, but was the day that was more action packed than them all. We did SO much here. It was terrifying and exhilarating all at the same time. We started with a hike to the La Fortuna waterfall. There are a lot of stairs and a couple hanging bridges along the way. Thank goodness I wore my bathing suit and water shoes because to see the waterfall you do have to wade across a river.

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After the waterfall we did our first of 7 zip lines. Some of them are the longest, the highest and the fastest. I learned that no matter what always keep your head to the side, your legs up and your strong hand far from the pully! This way if you can’t break, which I sucked at, the guides can help.

In between the zip lines, we learned how to rappel. The experience ended up not being as scary as I thought, but the first step off the platform was petrifying. Thank goodness for the amazing guides at the park. They explained everything to us and took their time. They didn’t force anyone to hurry up.

Once you were officially hanging, you realize that you control it all. You move only as fast as you pull the rope. The first 100 ft. or so you are lowering and finally get to the wall that you push off of. Always keep your feet wide so they stay in front of you and you won’t twist. Poor Jessica took a hit with her back.

Rapelling

The absolute hardest part of rappelling for me was the climb back up. You have to climb multiple ladders, some of them completely vertical and it’s exhausting. My arms were so tired about half way up, but it’s the only way so really you have no choice. Don’t look down, just keep climbing and eventually you’ll get there! The stairs after the ladders are super slippery so hold on tight. I let go for a second and scraped up my shin a little.

After zip lining and rappelling, we ended the day on horseback. It was a short ride, but by then I was soaked and covered in dirt so I didn’t mind. I was ready to go back to the hotel for a long hot shower.

Jessica and I still can’t believe we did all that! It was such a rush!

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Travel Tips

  • Rainy season is not a term of endearment. Bring your rain coat and fast drying clothes. You WILL need them!
  • Bring lots of bug spray!
  • Bring more clothes than you think you’ll need. With the humidity, our clothes didn’t dry as fast as we expected and at the end we were running out. I recommend a change of clothes each day.
  • Bring a pair of hiking boots, maybe two. Bring walking shoes separate from those and a pair of flip fl0ps.
  • Don’t forget water shoes and a bathing suit. They came in handy for the hot springs and waterfalls.
  • If you’re doing an adventure vacation, bring band aids and antibacterial ointment. Battle scars are part of the charm.
  • You can drink the water in Costa Rica, but for the most part we drank filtered and bottled.
  • Transportation isn’t cheap. Gas in Costa Rica is about $7 a gallon, so expect to pay for it.
  • Bring cash! It was much easier for taxis and tips to have cash. La Fortuna did have a few banks in town and I did have to use the ATM once. The transaction fee is about $5.
  • US Dollars are widely accepted and easily converted
  • Getting Back into the States – Download Mobile Passport!! This is the second time I’ve used it coming through customs and it saved me so much time. You have to complete your mobile passport within 4 hours of arriving at your port of entry. I did it on the plane as soon as I landed in Atlanta. You answer questions, take your photo and complete the customs questionnaire all on the app. Then once you’re off the plane you follow signs to the Mobile Passport line which is MUCH short than the regular line. I was actually the only person in that line, so I didn’t have to wait at all.

If you are planning a trip to Costa Rica and have any questions, feel free to shoot me an email at authorcgiardina at gmail dot com and I will do my best to answer them for you!

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So, You Want to Write a Book: Part V -Formatting & Publishing Resources

When new to the writing process or with technology forever changing, it’s always hard to keep up with where to go to find the best info. Luckily, since I use Amazon as my main publishing stream, I go straight to the source. They have step by step guides and even videos to walk you through it all. Below is a breakdown of formatting for both ebooks and print on demand books and links to the best resources I’ve found from Amazon.

Ebook Page Formatting

  1. Set your margins BEFORE your start writing
    1. First line indent to 0.2
    2. Spacing – set before and after to 0 pt, and line spacing to single
  2. Add Page Breaks
    1. When you are done with one chapter and before you start the other, you’ll want to add in a page break so that the last page of your chapter ends on a different than your next one begins
  3. Choose Your Font
    1. Fonts should be legible and easy to read. They should be large enough where there is no need to squint. Steer clear of cursive.
    2. Standard fonts are Times New Roman, Arial or Courier. I like Georgia, but I’ve always been a bit of a rebel.
    3. Stick to the same font throughout the entire story
    4. Only change it for the chapter headings if you choose

Click here for full guide

Ebook Cover Formatting

If you choose someone very familiar with creating book covers, you may not need this resource, but I as I talked about last week, I sucked my brother into helping me create my book covers, so we had to make sure before he started designing, we had the right size photos in the right format and that everything was inside the lines so it wasn’t cut off.

Here are the details are creating your book cover


Print Book Formatting

Not everyone does print copies of there novel anymore, but I always love the idea of physically holding my work in my hands, so I do. CreateSpace and KDP have merged since I last published my book so I had to do a little digging.

Paper and Word Color

There are a few options for your printed book.

  • Black ink on cream paper
  • Black ink on white paper
  • Color ink on white paper

For Tear Stained Beaches I used a cream color paper because I thought it went better with the warm tones of my book cover. Holding on Georgia and Behind the Strings I used black ink on white paper.

Choose Your Book Size

All my novels are 6×9. I think it makes for great cover quality and great book length and layout. There are many options to choose from though. Once you do decide, you will need to download the template zip file and open the template with your book size. Copy and paste your formatted ebook manuscript in. Don’t be afraid, parts of it may look funny once you do that, but you’ll just need to go through and fix pieces here and there. For the most part it should copy over quite well.

Be sure to go through this slowly as sometimes you may need to format as there is a blank page or the last line of a chapter may be all by itself on a new page. You’ll be able to receive a proof copy in the mail before ever setting up your print publishing, so you’ll be able to make changes before you go live!

Templates and Formatting Guide

Amazon Can Help

There is a lot of reading and trial and error when it comes to formatting. I’ve always done it myself, but Amazon does offer services to assist all parts of the formatting and publishing process. So, if you are struggling, Amazon makes it pretty easy for you!


 

Publishing Your Book

Once the formatting is set, you are almost home free! Now it’s time to get through the final steps for the publishing. You’ll login to your KDP account, enter all of your book details like ISBN numbers (I purchase mine here), keywords, pricing etc. Then you’ll upload and be able to preview before you publish!

Steps for Publishing Your Book

I hope this series was inspiring and helps you start that book you’ve always wanted to write!! Any other topics you want me to cover on the blog, send over an email to authorcgiardina at gmail dot com!

HAPPY WRITING!!!

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3 Infused Water Recipes to Keep You Hydrated and Your Skin Glowing!

Summer has arrived in Nashville with 90 degree heat and humidity. The only way to stay sane is to stay hydrated. I will be honest, I hate water. I can’t drink it plain, but I know how important it is, so I have been experimenting with natural ways to flavor it to help me drink more of it. Below are 3 tasty examples of my fruit infused water concoctions. They’re all very light tasting and refreshing and give just enough flavor to keep me drinking all I need.

I also did a little research and found out some great information about the benefits of the ingredients I used. Scroll down to see all the infused water fun I had this past week.

Cucumber – Lemon – Mint

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  • Lemon aids in digestion
  • Cucumber aids in a healthy skin complexion
  • Mint helps improve allergy symptoms (if you live in Nashville, you know what I mean)!

Watermelon – Rosemary

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  • Watermelon can help with muscle soreness. Good for me to know as I’m always super sore after a killer barre or pilates workout!
  • Watermelon provides a good source of Vitamin A and C
  • Rosemary can actually help improve concentration and memory (raise your hand if when you walk into a room you can’t remember what you went in there for).

Blueberry Acai Water

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  • Just one teaspoon of YourSuper Forever Beautiful antioxidant mix and you have a drink that rejuvenates skin is high in antioxidants and micronutrients and is a great plant-based source for essential fatty acids and protein.
  • Made with all organic ingredients, this is a great option if you aren’t up for cutting up fruit. Just scoop, mix and go!
  • If you’d like to try it out, save 15% off your order by clicking here and entering SUPER-COURTNEYG at checkout.

Got any infused water concoctions of your own? Share them with me! I’d love to try more flavors!

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So, You Want to Write a Book: Part IV – Book Cover Essentials

The book cover design is such an integral part of the book writing process. It’s the first thing readers see while they’re scrolling their computer screens or browsing book aisles. You want to create something eye catching, but at the same time you want the cover to express everything your book stands for.

The title and design should encompass your story line and grab the reader making them say, “I need to read this!” But, how do you take thousands of words, hours of typing and months of hard work and put it into one cover, a small blurb and title? Welcome to part iv of the blog series!

So, You Want to Write a Book: Part IV

This blog is going to be a bit different than the last few. In today’s write up I’m talking through my own experience with how I came up with all of the above in each of my novels in hopes it will provide you with some guidelines and inspiration.


 Tear Stained Beaches

The Title

This was my debut novel. I wanted it to make a grand entrance. Tear Stained Beaches is an emotional roller coaster. It tugs at the heart strings. There are moments where you want to scream and then cry and launch the book across the room. I wanted the title to reflect that. I went through a list of many, but the one scene that stuck out most was where Haylie finally succumbed to everything going on in this story. The moment where she falls to her knees on the sand as her world crumbles around her and I knew the title had to be Tear Stained Beaches.

I had the title, so it was time to hire a book cover designer to digitally draw out the scene I had in my head. The finished product was a girl sitting on the beach with the waves soaking the ends of a white dress.  It was exactly what I had asked for, but as I sat staring at it, my heart knew that the allure of what this book was all about wasn’t there. The photo was too happy, too colorful and I didn’t feel as if the right emotions were flowing from it. That is when I turned to my brother, a talented artist and designer who saved it all.

The Book Cover

I was back at square one wondering what I was looking for. Him and I discussed much of what the book was about, and he started pulling photos – heavy waves crashing against rocks on the shoreline, a never-ending horizon and an empty beach where happiness was amiss.

They were simple, yet powerful. They said everything I wanted the cover to say. 6 years later I and that cover is still as powerful as the day I hit publish with heavy waves crashing down on Haylie’s future. The never-ending horizon symbolizing her heartache and an empty beach that shows the solitude and emptiness one woman feels throughout the novel.

This was where I learned that simple truth was all I needed and it reflects in everything I’ve done going forward.


 Holding on to Georgia

The Title

I’ve obsessed over this title since the day I settled on it and I fall in love with it more every day. Below are some of my original title picks:

·        Then you came around

·        Letting Go of Yesterday

·        Open Up Your Heart to Me

·        Yesterday’s Gone

I don’t hate them, but compared to Holding on to Georgia none of these give me chills and I owe it all to my book blurb for helping me come up with the title.

There I was, sometime after midnight alone in my office trying to recap 50,000 words into a 100-word book blurb. As I began writing, I saw the struggle. The struggle from Rylan who had finally let her walls down for a man who wasn’t ready. Should she fight for him and make him see what was standing in front of him or should she let him go?

Then there was Kade, born and raised in Georgia, so desperately wanting to let go of a past he never thought he’d have to leave behind. His heart was constantly playing tug-a-war between the feelings that he had for Rylan and his vows to a life that would never be.

You see, both of them, whether they knew or not, were holding on to something – one thing. They were holding on to Georgia. Rylan in the man who mysteriously appeared in her Carolina apartment building and Kade in the life he thought he left behind once he crossed over that state line.

The Cover

My brother nailed the cover design on this one too! Photographs are a large part of the struggles in this novel. Rylan carries one in her purse as a reminder of her heartache as does Kade so he won’t forget what he no longer has.

That swing, once you grab your copy of HOTG, you’ll see is also a huge part of Kade’s memories throughout the story.

I LOVE the fact that my brother pulled the photo of the swing and turned it into a Polaroid picture floating on the cover. It truly captures every essence of this story!


Behind the Strings

The Title

Behind the Strings was so close to being Six Strings and Sunday Mornings. Once again, it was writing out the book blurb that changed my mind.

“In the heart of Music City, Celia and Logan will be forced to relive the remnants of a relationship they thought would never be. And just when they think they have what it takes to put all the pieces back together, one night could tear it all apart. Secrets will be revealed, loyalties will be tested and both will be left to decide if what they really want, is worth what they’ll lose in the process.”

This is a story about the music scene in Nashville, inspired by real life experiences. It’s a fabricated look at what goes on behind the scenes. It wasn’t about the guitars or waking up the morning after, it was about everything in between. Everything that gets you up on that stage and everything that happens once you step off. It truly is a story of life behind the strings.

The cover

I took a risk with this cover. I wanted to try something different and original. So, I hired a photographer, borrowed a guitar and spent the day doing a photo shoot. This photo wasn’t the original thought I had going into the shoot, but at this point I bet you’re not surprised.

This photo was taken about an hour in after everything I said I wanted had been shot. It was impromptu. My photographer said, “let’s try something else,” and so we did.

This novel is about music, the bright lights of fame, relationships and love and how they all intertwine in the life of a girl in the middle of it all.

And can we talk about how my brother created the title on the bottom replicating sheet music. I think it tied it all in perfectly. Seriously, he’s the best!


There you have it, making all of my book covers come to life. I hope it was helpful as you begin your writing journey! This blog series has been so much fun. I can’t believe that next week is the final chapter. Next week we will be putting it all together as we talk formatting and publishing!

 Read more from Courtney here

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Creative Ways to Grow Your Audience

Over the past few months I have changed my focus on the marketing of my books. I have been changing up my posts and their focus from my travels and adventures and leaning more towards delivering knowledgeable content and valuable information to those who come across my platforms.

With this change I have seen a much larger increase in book sales so I wanted to do a blog post that shared a bit about what I’ve been doing in the book marketing realm in hopes it may help some of you!

Pinterest Boards

Pinterest is a great way to get your blog, your book and your name in front of people. I just reorganized my Pinterest boards. Before, it was a bunch of everything mixed in boards with no relevant names. Now I have boards that will catch people’s eye. From vegetarian dishes to home redesign and inspirational quotes to vacation tips, they are much more organized.

The reason for this is so others see a reason to follow the board. If one board has a mixture of things they do and don’t care about, they aren’t likely to want to pay attention, but if they know what to expect each time they go there, they are more likely to stick around. Sprinkle pieces of your novel across boards and introduce it to a new audience. Here are some ideas how!

  • Does your character have a favorite dish they love to make? Create a blog about it and put it in your recipes.
  • How about a secret hangout in a popular city or a real destination that inspired your book’s setting. Share tips, hotels, travel information of that area.
  • Pull quotes from the novel that will inspire others and create a graphic to share
  • Love fashion? Share look books for every season that your characters would love and share tidbit in the pins description
  • Are your characters getting married? Create a wedding inspiration board

Don’t forget to link your posts to your blog or book’s purchasing site.

Get Behind the Mic

Share your knowledge on a Podcast. There are many podcasts out there nowadays you are bound to find one that covers topics you can provide value to. Talk about the writing process, lend your editing skills, email marketing expertise or what it’s like to manage writing while raising a family. I joined in on the Hustle Babes podcast to talk about what inspired me to write a book and how I find the time in between a full-time job, fitness, travel and home life.

Here’s another idea… start your own podcast! Have hobbies? Share them! Maybe you’re an expert in home organization, event planning, meal prepping, the list goes on. My amazingly talented friend Kelsey loves whiskey, sports and music. So, while she’s working on new music she decided to start a podcast about, you got it, sports and whiskey.

Take a Road Trip

Last summer I did a Holding on to Georgia road trip. I wrote a letter in the front of each one of my books and then mailed 5 copies to friends around the country. Once they were done reading it, they were instructed to leave it somewhere local for the next person to find. That person would then read the letter, finish the book and do the same.

Every now and then I get tagged in an Instagram post of someone who found, read my book and passed it on. It’s exciting seeing people from another state, someone I’ve never met, hold my book in there hand.

 Write for a Larger Audience

Freelance writing is a great way to expand your readership. I have written articles for I Am That Girl, Wide Open Country and Mavenly & Co. to name a few. Their platforms allow me not only to continue to write and share my words, but it gives me the opportunity to reach a much larger audience than I currently have.

Most blogs have a place for writers to submit a topic. So, whether it’s the Huffington Post, a food blog, music blog or entertainment blog, find something that you enjoy researching and writing about and pitch stories to blogs in that genre. Heck, some even pay when published and who would argue about a little extra money in your pocket!

Share Your Experience

Like this post here, share what you’ve done! Tell those in your niche what is working for you. Share your failures and your triumphs. Give them the information you wish you had before jumping into this whole blogging, novel writing, brand building world. It’s a crazy ride, but feels a lot better when people know they have someone riding along with them.

 Now it’s your turn. Get creative! See what you can come up with on creative ways to grow your audience. Don’t forget to come back, leave a comment and share! And, if you want to stay up to date with all the tips, tricks and failures of being a writer, don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE to my blog!

Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash

So, You Want to Write a Book Part III: Editing

Welcome back! Last week we went over the importance of beta readers in the writing journey. This week we are going to start talking about editing. You have received the needed feedback from your beta readers and input any necessary changes and are now ready for the next step — finding an editor.

So, You Want to Write a Book – Part III

Where to look?

Over the past few years, I have scrounged up a few favorite places to look for an editor. I am a firm believer in these because it helps me narrow down editors to those familiar with the style of writing I’m going for and the genre I write in.

  • Freelance Websites - Sites such as Upwork allow you to search certain parameters. You can filter based on search words, hourly rate, job success and more. It’s also nice to do all the work through a website to keep everyone accountable. This is where I found my last editor and he was great!
  • Join a Group – I am a part of a few different author groups on Facebook. I love them all for different reasons. One of them provides files with lists of recommended bloggers, book cover designers and you guessed it, editors! The file provides a website link for the editor that makes it easy to learn more about them and contact them.
  • Read Any Good Books Lately? – This is one of the best places to find an editor that does the kind of work you’re looking for. If you’re reading a book and you love everything about it, reach out to the author and ask them who their editor was. Most are willing to share!

Narrowing Down Your List of Editors

Choosing the right editor for your work of art can be overwhelming, but the above techniques are a great place to start. Your goal is to narrow your list down to about 3-5 editors and, with these tips, doing so is easier than you think. Once you start looking at editors, you can really get to know them by their website and their social media. Here you’ll be able to see the types of novels they’ve worked on and who they are as a person.

You are going to be spending the next few months working very closely with your editor, so one thing to remember is that the connection between the two of you must be there. You have to jive. If you just aren’t feeling their persona, you can check them off the list. Trust me! Your novel wouldn’t benefit from the best editor in the world if you can’t stand them. You’re most likely to reject their feedback or disagree with where they want you to go with your edits.

Another way to narrow down your list is by asking them questions. Here’s a few examples below:

  • What type of editing style are you most familiar with (Chicago Style, AP Style, etc.)
  • How long will the turnaround time be on a novel like mine?
  • Do you charge by hour or by project? What is your going rate?
  • Could you provide me with references?
  • How many novels in my genre have you edited?
  • What type of editing do you do? — We’ll get to that later!

 How to Choose “The One?”

After all of your research, you now have a list of 3-5 editors that you love. The next step would be to have them edit a small sample of your manuscript. Some will offer to edit a chapter or two while others will offer to edit a certain number of words. The turn around time should be quick, no more than a week’s time.

Once you have your sample edits back, grab a glass of wine and reserve a night to read them over. This is the part I wish I could pinpoint for you, but the truth is, when you’re reading through the sample edits, you’ll just know who the right one is. Their editing will be on par, their vision for your story will be cohesive with yours and by the time you’re done, you’ll feel as if your book is better already. When that happens, you’ve found the one.

Types of Edits

The type of editing you need will be up to you and your editor. There is no right or wrong here, just what you prefer and think your manuscript truly needs. I have always had my editors do a substantive edit to start. It has made a world of difference in the final product.

Substantive Edit – This type of editing looks at your story as a whole and identifies any characters or parts of the story line that lack development. The feedback I received during this round of edits on all of my novels have truly changed them for the better. For example, Holding on to Georgia didn’t even have a tree swing when I sent the manuscript off to my editor the first time. It was something I created after the fact and now it’s a huge part of Kade’s story in the book!

Line Editing – This is a great technique for those who struggle with showing not telling. Is the sun setting or is the fiery reflection from the water glistening in his eyes as the day disappears.

Copy Editing – This is where you’ll clear out all the cobwebs. From grammar errors and run on sentences to repetition and fact checking. This is where they make sure our main character’s eyes are always blue and that you haven’t messed up your their, there and they’re.

Phew! We got through the editing portion of the series. I know it’s a lot, but it is such an important piece of the book writing puzzle. I hope you feel much better about the path to finding your person.

Next week in Part IV of this series, I am going to be talking book covers and book blurbs. Stay tuned as I reveal the mastermind behind all my book covers, how in the world to sum up your book in one paragraph and the inspiration behind the ideas of all three of my book covers. Subscribe now so you don’t miss it!

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

So, You Want to Write a Book Part II: Beta Readers

Congratulations! You did it! You finished what you think is the first official copy of your new novel! Your first draft is complete, you went back a second time and probably destroyed it and turned it into a second or maybe even third draft and you think it’s sounding pretty good. What do you do now? Good question! Part II of my series is all about the answer.

So, You Want to Write a Book – Part II

Call for Beta Readers

First and foremost, let’s address what a beta reader is. A beta reader is the first official group of readers for your novel. They are book lovers, maybe even writers themselves, but they don’t have to be. They can be family, friends, co-workers or teachers. The only two things your beta readers need to be are: passionate about books and 100% honest.

Beta readers will critique your story as a whole. They are going to dig into the plot, the flow, the character development and the story line. They will be your best assets. The one thing I will stress as mentioned above is that when choosing your beta readers, make sure they are not afraid to give their unbiased opinion. The more honest your beta readers are the better your novel will become.

It is through them that you will find out if you need to develop your characters more. You will understand if anything in your story needs to be elaborated on or removed completely. The best way I found to gain this feedback is to create a list of questions and send it to them with the manuscript (Find an example of mine here). They will read the list and have the questions in the back of their mind while they are reading.

How to Find Beta Readers

Your list of questions are created and it’s time to gather your group. My recommendation is to set up a Google Form submission and post a call in your blog and on your socials. Write a quick blurb summing up what your story is about so those interested can participate.

Keep your beta group small. I usually choose a maximum of 10 in a first come, first serve order. Any more than that and you’ll be overwhelmed.

Once you have your tribe selected, email them over your manuscript and list of questions. Give them a deadline. Two weeks should be plenty, but 3 weeks tops (unless it’s a massive 700 page novel).

Beta Reader Feedback

Once all of the feedback is received, look for consistencies in each person’s notes. You do not have to take everyone’s advice or input or take out everything they say, but if you see the same comments more than once, go back and take a look. Stand back from the author chair for a moment and sit in the reader’s while you mull everything over. It will help you better understand where they’re coming from and see if from the right prospective.

Then, guess what time it is? Yup, it’s editing time! Time to go through again and make any changes to your story you feel are necessary based on your beta group feedback.

In case you were wondering, this is only the beginning because next week we are going to dive even more into the editing piece. Part III is so eloquently titled finding the right editor. I’ll be talking about what to look for in your editor. What to make sure they do right off the bat and what types of edits I recommend. 

If you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss out on this important topic!

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Today is Your Day

I saw a picture of a little girl the other day. So innocent and carefree. In her hand she held something so minuscule and simple, but by the look on her face you would have thought it to be the greatest gift she’d ever received. She had not a care in the world and everything was as it should be.

Why she was so excited, I’m not sure I’ll ever know, but that picture, it got me thinking. Why do we take life so seriously? Why do we always have to have a destination? It seems when we get there, it’s always time to pick up and go somewhere else anyway. Like where we are is never enough, it’s always about where we are going. Do we ever really get there?

Sure, it’s exciting to think about the unknown. The mystery and uncertainty is part of the intrigue that pulls us toward it, but how many times has the future really ended up the way we envisioned it? The truth is, we do not have a crystal ball, we cannot close our eyes and have the end all be all flash before us. We really are just a passenger on this ride we call life. There are times when we crash, hit bumps in the road, go around a sharp curb that throws us off our game, but those are the moments where we discover ourselves. When we learn what we are capable of. We are who we are today because of what happened to us, because of what we’ve been through, not because of where we haven’t ended up yet.

That little girl in the picture…she is all grown up now and sometimes she forgets how amazing life is. How lucky she is to be where she is. Sometimes she lets what happened to her effect what she’s become and sometimes she worries so much about where she is going and how she will get there that she forgets about how right now she has the whole world at her fingertips.

So today, I’m reminding her (and all of you) to forget about yesterday, we can’t change it. Stop worrying about tomorrow, we can’t control it. Just live in today. Appreciate the here and now, the simple things, the little things that we can’t get back.

Smile, look around, take it all in. Then wake up tomorrow and do it all over again.

P.s….. feel free to keep scrolling to see that little girl ;)

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Thanks little girl for the reminder today :)