Thoughts on Writing a Series

by Linore Rose Burkard, @LinoreRBurkard

When I wrote my first YA/Suspense PULSE, I didn’t expect to write a sequel. Today, having finished three volumes in The Pulse Effex Series, I’m grateful for many readers who wanted more and thus spurred me on.

I didn’t plan from the beginning to write a trilogy. But when I stayed in the world of the story, it developed.


A similar thing happened after I wrote my first novel, Before the Season Ends. In this case, it was the world of Regency England I was immersed in. Again, I had no idea of writing a trilogy but that’s what happened.

When Harvest House Publishers asked me if I could write a sequel, I did. When they offered a contract for a third book, suddenly I had ideas for it.

Takeaway: Our brains are capable of producing way more than we expect or give ourselves credit for.

If you’re starting a book and want to write a series, don’t feel that you need to know the end from the beginning. Even though you are the author, you’re not God. You’ll learn and grow on the way, just like the characters in your stories. And those characters, if you’ve developed them into real people, will lead you into the drama and conflict that is necessary to sustain a novel—or three, or however long your series may be.

The key is to keep writing. Explore the lives of your characters until you locate their hot spots and areas of conflict—and make the most of both.

I’m sure there’s much to be said for planning a series before you write book one, but my experience is that it’s not strictly necessary. (Are you a panster and not a plotter? This is good news!)

It may not be a viable option for some novels, but in many cases an author can take a stand-alone novel and expand it into a series. You can find, as I did, that when you keep writing and stay in the world of the story, the saga develops.

To Your Success and God’s Glory!

Linore

Article adapted from Linore’s monthly newsletter. For more writing tips, book news, giveaways and inspiration, join her list! Sign up at http://www.LinoreBurkard.com or http://www.LRBurkard.com.

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Thoughts on Writing a Series by Linore Rose Burkard (Click to Tweet)

Your brain is capable of producing more than you think.~ Linore Rose Burkard (Click to Tweet)

Often an author can take a stand-alone novel and expand it into a series. ~ Linore Rose Burkard (Click to Tweet)

Book Three in The Pulse Effex Series, DEFIANCE, now available in ebook and print!

“Ms. Burkard is to be commended for her amazing storytelling – and for portraying how God gives hope in the darkest hour. In Defiance, the riveting story continues with even greater urgency.” ANGELA L. WALSH, Publisher and Editor, Christian Library Journal

Foreign soldiers and fellow Americans gone rogue are just the beginning of what Andrea, Lexie and Sarah face in this third installment of The Pulse Effex Series. Beneath the threat of nuclear strikes and guerrilla armies, the girls long for a free country in which to live—and love. Survival means resistance must give way to defiance. But can ordinary teens and their families withstand powerful forces and keep hope alive?



Linore Rose Burkard
wrote a trilogy of regency romances for the Christian market before there were any regencies for the Christian market. Published with Harvest House, her books opened the genre for the CBA. She also writes YA Suspense/Apocalyptic fiction as L.R. Burkard. Married with five children, Linore home-schools her youngest daughter, teaches workshops for writers, and is a writing conference coordinator. Her latest PULSE EFFEX SERIES, takes readers into a “chilling possible future for America, while affirming the power of faith in the darkest of times.”

How Not to Do A Critique

By Linore Rose Burkard, @LinoreRBurkard

Seasoned writers know that having one’s work critiqued by fellow writers (or even savvy readers) can determine the difference between a finished piece that is merely “good” or one that sings. Critique partners can strengthen a manuscript, clean up errors, and make invaluable suggestions that the writer might not think of.
Done rightly, critiquing is a valuable part of the writing and publishing process.
But what if it isn’t done rightly? (What does that even mean?) 


More Harm than Good
Though we mean well, sometimes criticism can do more harm than good. Bashing a writer’s feelings, attacking the work rather than speaking into it, or offering comments that sting are ways to do more harm than good. Other harmful efforts are trying to squelch a writer’s unique voice or style.

The key to doing more good than harm is in respecting the writer, and by using the proper tone and approach. It’s like giving medicine with honey as opposed to vinegar.

But isn’t criticism always hurtful? Hard to swallow?
Not if given correctly. I’ll say more about that in a moment.

What NOT to Do

For my book that released just last week (DEFIANCE) I had the perfect mix of critique partners. I loved getting their feedback, even when it meant I had more work to do. After all, I wanted my book to be the best it could be!
But an early reader offered feedback that was enormously difficult to accept. Since it is unusual for me to have difficulty receiving feedback, I reflected upon why this was. Conclusion: The way the criticism was offered nearly guaranteed that I couldn’t receive it well. Luckily, the experience gave me concrete examples of what NOT to do when offering criticism.

  1. Don’t be disrespectful.It is disrespectful to a writer if you come across like you’ve got the stone tablets on what he or she must do with their piece. If you want to cry, “Thou Shalt Not!” to a writer, be very sure you are addressing objective mechanics, not matters of style or taste.

    Likewise, never forget the writer always has the last word about their work. Even if you think you are one-hundred-percent right about a suggestion you’ve made, the writer alone has the final say about whether to take it or not—especially in matters of style. [Publishers may have the final say for contracted work.] 

  2. Don’t Ignore the Good Stuff.
    I call this spewing vinegar instead of honey. If you find areas that need help in a manuscript, you’ve located a wound. Don’t pour vinegar into it. Instead, before offering criticism, always find something to praise about a piece. Ask yourself, “What is good about it?” A poor critique will completely ignore the strong points of a writer but scream treason! about a perceived weakness. (The weakness here is more in the critic, even if they have a valid issue.)

    To give a helpful critique, begin with praise. Give examples of how something can be strengthened in a piece. To give a wonderful critique, include suggestions for fixing the problem, as well as encouragement. Be a cheerleader. 

A Mere Know-it-All

Without praise and encouragement, a zealous critique partner comes across merely as a know-it-all. Know- it-alls may be right, but they are also vastly annoying. No one wants to work with them.

Take Away
: After you praise the writer on his or her strong points—giving him honey—only then can you tread into the waters of criticism in a way that the writer can accept.

TWEETABLES

How Not to Do A Critique by Linore Rose Burkard (Click to Tweet)

Linore Rose Burkard wrote a trilogy of delightful regency romances for the Christian market before there were any regencies for the Christian market. Published with Harvest House, her books opened up the genre for the CBA. She  writes YA Suspense/Apocalyptic fiction as L.R. Burkard. Linore grew up in NYC and graduated magna cum laude from CUNY with a bachelors in English Literature. A writing workshop instructor, Linore is married with five children, home-schools her youngest daughter, tolerates one dog and three cats, and drinks far too much coffee.   

New fiction! Available Now! 

DEFIANCE: Because sometimes resistance just isn’t enough.

In this third installment of the PULSE EFFEX SERIES, foreign soldiers and fellow Americans gone rogue are just the beginning of what Andrea, Lexie and Sarah must face. Beneath the threat of nuclear strikes and guerrilla armies, the girls long for a free country in which to live–and love. Survival means resistance must give way to defiance. But can ordinary teens and their families withstand powerful forces and keep hope alive?

  

Should I Give a Webinar? Part III

by Linore Rose Burkard

In Parts One and Two, I discussed fears about giving webinars, and how to put such hindrances to rest. But are there real drawbacks to the medium that offline events don’t have? Let’s take a look.

PROBLEM: YOU CAN’T SEE THE AUDIENCE

Is this a PRO or a CON?
For people who get nervous in front of an audience, this aspect of webinars may be helpful. All one need do is speak in front of a safe, little camera. 😉
For myself, I was still aware of an audience watching, but unlike at a live event, I couldn’t read their body language, and this was not a plus. I like to read an audience as I speak. (I’ve never been aware of losing an audience due to boredom, but it’s a good idea to watch for it!) Do they look bored? Is there a lot of fidgeting? (Bad signs.) Or are they furiously scribbling notes and looking as though I’ve sparked ideas? (Good signs.) Webinars can make it challenging to get this sort of live feedback.

SOLUTION: Be sure to leave a comment box open so audience members can chime in, and schedule a time when you ASK them for specific feedback. You might ask, “How am I doing? Are you finding this helpful?” Or, as I asked, “Am I moving too slow or too fast?” Also, have your audience post questions they’d like you to address. Often, the last fifteen minutes of a webinar might be for such Q & A time. The comment box is an important means of connecting with your audience–use it!

POOR SOLUTION: I’ve attended webinars where speakers ask DUH questions and want the audience to give the (only) obvious answer. This is NOT what I recommend doing. It’s an insult to one’s intelligence when people do this, and they are clearly leading their audience by the nose to get them to buy a product, instead of having their best interest at heart and leading them into a great presentation. Ask open-ended questions, or at least, sincere ones.

TIP: When questions come in, jot them down. Either you failed to cover the information, or it’s something you hadn’t considered including. Perhaps you failed to cover it in enough detail. By keeping note of what questions come in, you can improve your next webinar or workshop.

PROBLEM: YOU CAN’T ASK A GROUP QUESTION (RAISE YOUR HAND–PLEASE!)

Just as you can’t see whether your audience is squirming or not, you can’t ask for a raise of hands in response to a question during a webinar. (Well, you can, as you’ll see below; but it’s not a good idea.) I like to open events so people can respond this way–it makes them feel engaged, and that their opinion counts. More importantly, it helps me get to know them. During a webinar, it would be time-consuming to wait for audience responses to come in, so how do you survey your group?

SOLUTION: Create a pre-webinar survey. When attendees register for the event, you send them to the survey, or send the survey to their inbox. My pre-webinar survey gave me even more information than a quick question or two at the start of a live event would have. I was able to use that information to tailor my presentation far more than if I’d gotten it a minute before the workshop opened. This pre-survey tool is really a secret weapon for the presenter. By asking the right questions, you can zero in on the needs of your audience and pack your presentation with value. One free tool is Survey Monkey.

Tip: Don’t just ask questions. USE the information when you create your presentation.

POOR SOLUTION: I’ve attended webinars where the presenter does indeed ask for the virtual “raise of hands.” It never fails to make me fidget, as minutes tick by. Just get to the good stuff, please! (Q&A is different, as the questions and answers are usually pertinent to everyone on the webinar. So do have Q&A–but don’t tally silly votes on things that don’t matter, such as, “How many of you have never watched one of my webinars before? Who cares! I wouldn’t dream of wasting my time answering such a query–or yours, by asking it. Neither should you.)

TIP: I discovered many people don’t want to fill even a two-minute survey. It’s to be expected that not everyone will reply. Nevertheless, to get the best possible response, I found it helpful to reassure people that answers were confidential and anonymous; it also helped to point out that they could benefit most from the webinar by telling me ahead of time what they were most hoping to learn. When they understood that filling the survey was actually empowering for them, responses increased.

PROBLEM: NO “RUBBING ELBOWS”

After a live event, people often come up to me to chat, ask questions, or just share notes about the industry. I cherish this networking time. If I didn’t enjoy rubbing elbows with other writers, I wouldn’t do presentations. So–how do you keep the conversation going with webinar attendees? Once they shut the window to the webinar, the connection’s over, right?

Not Necessarily.

SOLUTION: Just as I would for a live event, I arranged a bonus download that attendees had to sign up to receive. That not only gave me a way to keep the relationship going, but helped grow my mailing list.

TIP: Prepare a bonus PDF (or something else pertinent to your subject) that is truly as helpful as you can make it. Give people a reason to join your list and WANT to stay in touch with you! You should, of course, already have a mailing list for readers–use it for workshop attendees, too. And every time you email your list, offer something of value.

This post is getting long and I don’t want to overstay my welcome! So here’s a few quick pluses that giving webinars can offer.

Income. I earned more from the webinar than I’ve ever earned at a single live event. If you’ve got valuable information, people who need it are willing to pay for it.

Convenience.
I did it from home! No traveling time or expenses, no need to schedule my whole day around the event. Sure, I dressed professionally (as one should for any professional event–don’t be fooled by the ease of the method into behaving anything less than professionally. I recently attended two webinars where a Florida-based Christian businesswoman was dressed more for a stroll on the beach than a business-related presentation. Cover the flesh, ladies!) With convenience comes responsibility.

Worldwide Audience. An online event opens the doors to anyone with computer access. You can draw people from anywhere in the world! Also, if you include a guaranteed replay option, more people can register even if they can’t attend the live presentation.

A Product If you’ve recorded your event, you now have a product that you can give away for free, keep as a perpetual offer on your website, use to attract guests to future webinars or workshops, etc. Done well, it’s a feather in your cap, a building block to your all-important author’s platform, and something to be proud of.

For more tips for writers, join my list!
To Your Success!
Linore


TWEETABLES

Linore
Rose Burkard
 wrote a trilogy of delightful regency romances for the Christian market
before there were any regencies for the Christian market. Published with
Harvest House, her books opened up the genre for the CBA. She  writes
YA Suspense/Apocalyptic fiction as L.R.
Burkard. Linore
grew up in NYC and graduated magna cum
laude
from CUNY with a bachelors in English Literature. A writing workshop instructor, Linore is married with five
children, home-schools her youngest daughter, tolerates one dog and three cats, and drinks far too much coffee.   

 

New fiction! Available Now! 


DEFIANCE: Because sometimes resistance just isn’t enough.

In this third installment of the PULSE
EFFEX SERIES, foreign soldiers and
fellow Americans gone rogue are just the beginning of what Andrea, Lexie and Sarah must face. Beneath the
threat of nuclear strikes and guerrilla armies, the girls long for a free country in which to live–and love. Survival means resistance must give way to defiance. But can ordinary teens and their families withstand powerful forces and keep hope alive?

  

What Sports Photography Taught Me about Point of View (POV)

by Beth K. Vogt @bethvogt


My teen daughter plays volleyball year-round, which means I spend a lot of time at volleyball tournaments. My husband and I are also the photographers for both her high school and club teams. This happened by accident – meaning, when no one else volunteered to take photos, we did. At first, we took lousy photos. Now, we’ve invested in a more expensive camera and lens and after lots of trial and error, we’re getting better and better at this whole unexpected sports photography gig.
When I’m photographing a volleyball game, I spend the entire time watching the action through my camera lens. Everything I see is limited by the very small viewfinder at the top of my camera. There are three front row and three back row players on the court at all time during a volleyball game – on both sides of the net. If I’m focused on my daughter, who is a middle blocker, I have no idea what’s happened anywhere else on the court. If I focus on the three back row players so their parents can download some photos of their daughters, I have no idea what the three front row players are doing.

I can’t tell you how many times during a game I finish photographing a specific player – the setter or the outside hitter, for example – and I turn to my husband and ask, “What happened?” I don’t know who scored the point, much less what the score is, or who’s serving next.

Which brings me to the topic of Point of View (POV).

So often we writers like to use the example of peering through a camera lens to help each other understand the concept of (POV). We hold an imaginary camera up to our eyes for just a moment and say, “Remember, you can only see and experience through the eyes of the POV character.”

Spend a day photographing a sporting event – volleyball, basketball, baseball, football, hockey – and you’ll discover just how limited your character’s POV is. It’s not just a matter of what your POV character can see. You also need to be just as aware of what they can’t see and experience.

STAY FOCUSED AND DON’T MOVE THE CAMERA

Perhaps some writers head-hop because they find one character’s POV too confining and so, after a few paragraphs, they hop over to another character to expand the experience and let their readers see what’s going on from another POV. The challenge? To stay grounded in your original character’s POV and bring the scene alive. How can you you write a strong scene from one POV?

  1. Be willing to rewrite. My husband and I take thousands of photographs during a single day of play – and then we delete, delete, delete. One recent day of competition, we took over 2000 photos. I posted just under 500 of them to the team’s photo site. 
  2. Go deep into your character’s emotion. When I’m photographing a game, sometimes I go wide for a team shot, but often I focus on a particular player. These kinds of pictures show emotion and intense action. You are writing from one POV – don’t waste it. Determine what is your POV character’s main emotion and then show it through their actions and their words. 
  3. Look for symbolism and metaphor. If nothing else, photography has taught me to always be looking – for the next amazing block, for the fun interaction between the girls, for the next unexpected volley. As you write, look for hidden symbols in your scene. A powerful question is “What is this like?” Compare the moment to something else. Doing so can pull up a metaphor or simile or a moment from your character’s past that you can weave into the scene. 

Is staying in one POV a struggle? Pick up your camera and spend some time taking photographs to help bring your writing into focus.


TWEETABLES

What Sports Photography Taught Me about Point of View (POV) by Beth Vogt (Click to Tweet)

Stay focused and don’t move the camera.~ Beth Vogt (Click to Tweet)

3 Tips to Write A Strong Scene from One POV by Beth Vogt (Click to Tweet)


Beth K. Vogt is a non-fiction author and editor who said she’d never write fiction. She’s the wife of an Air Force family physician (now in solo practice) who said she’d never marry a doctor—or anyone in the military. She’s a mom of four who said she’d never have kids. Now Beth believes God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” As a contemporary romance novelist, Beth is a 2016 Christy Award winner and 2016 Carol Award winner for her novel Crazy Little Thing Called Love. She was also a 2015 RITA® Finalist for her novel Somebody Like You, which was one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Best Books of 2014. In 2015, Beth introduced her destination wedding series with both an e-novella, Can’t Buy Me Love, and a novel, Crazy Little Thing Called Love. She continued the series in 2016 with the e-novella You Can’t Hurry Love (May) and the novel Almost Like Being in Love (June). Her novella A November Bride was part of the Year of Wedding Series by Zondervan. Beth enjoys writing contemporary romance because she believes there’s more to happily-ever-after than the fairy tales tell us. Find out more about her books at bethvogt.com. An established magazine writer and former editor of Connections, the leadership magazine for MOPS International, Beth is also part of the leadership team for My Book Therapy, the writing community founded by best-selling author Susan May Warren. She lives in Colorado with her husband Rob, who has adjusted to discussing the lives of imaginary people, and their youngest daughter, Christa, who loves to play volleyball and enjoys writing her own stories.