CHRISTMAS IN JULY Free for a Limited Time!

July 15th, 2016

For my friends and readers… My #1 Best-Selling Christmas on Bellevue Lane is FREE for only a few days.

cobl-final (1)

Heartwarming, sweet, FUN summer reading from my award-winning Echoes of the Heart Series.

4.8 out of 5 STARs, Amazon Reviews!

Don’t miss out on this great chance to sample why fans LOVE the Dixon family and EVERYTHING Chandlerville, GA!!

How You Re-Write 3: Method over Madness

July 13th, 2016

The philosophy I share with all students and editing/coaching clients? Anyone–ANYONE–can deconstruct and rewrite a manuscript. Anyone can learn to rework a story one element and scene and character at a time. Last week I shared some of my basic techniques for  understanding the key characters in your completed story draft (at a high level). Click here and here for those posts, to catch up or refresh or try to niggle a bit more out of each one.

This week and next, we’re diving into the actual method of deconstructing. My method. The title of this series is HOW YOU RE-WRITE, and the overall blog category is HOW YOU WRITE. So, disclaimer time: this works for me and many of my clients and students, but the only way you’ll know if it works for you is IF YOU WORK ON REWRITING SOMETHING OF YOUR OWN. Eh-hem… Sorry, it’s a nit for me.

writing is rewriting

What’s the deal, you ask?

Just as a refresher: re-writing is hard; looking at what’s not working with your characters and plot points and themes and secondary everything can be a nerve-wracking, soul-sucking, insecurity-making exercise; and a lot of people listen but never try many of the basic, not-so-hard-to implement exercises I recommend. Which is too bad, because learning to rewrite (and we’re all ALWAYS learning, with every new project) is your job. It’s not an option. And I can’t tell you the number of clients who fade away or students whose enthusiasm wavers after a course ends or followers contact me years later to say they still haven’t finished that book they were working on back when, but they’ve started 5 new ones since…and not finished them, either.

Which is unfortunate, sad and avoidable. Just do the work (or in this case the re-work). Do it. We all have to. All of our pretty babies are drafted in the shadows of “ugly.”

writing pen

It’s madness to think yours won’t, and inexcusable as an artist to let your creative drive for approval (especially your own) block you from learning and applying the craft that will better enable you to bring your unique voice and vision and stories to readers who are languishing these days, in a sea of often poorly-written, poorly constructed, badly delivered free or so-close-to-free-it-doesn’t-matter digital content.

Rant almost over. Except to say this: make what you create matter as viscerally and beautifully and impactfully (not a word, but you get the gist) as it can, by understanding it, honing it, and ruthlessly re-working it to the best of your ability. Read the rest of this entry »

How You Re-Write 2: Actually, it’s Beginning-END-Middle…

July 7th, 2016

Re-Writing Lesson 2: Taking a closer look at my recommended method for using the B-M-E Chart!

Or, if it helps you more easily remember today’s discussion… My Beginning-End-Middle Chart.

BME Table

First, be sure if you haven’t to brush up on Rewriting Lesson 1, where I begin discussing my methods and philosophy for deconstructing and re-writing manuscript drafts.

Then grab all those notes you’ve made from your own Work-in-Progress, because you did your homework and have been looking at your current draft, right? Right?! And maybe you had a bit of a struggle encapsulating what’s happening with your characters at these key story turning points (Inciting Incident, Midpoint, and Black Moment). If so, welcome to the club. These aren’t high concepts most of us have nailed down when we first begin to draft.

So, let’s take another stab at it. Even if you’re happy so far with what you’ve learned about your story from using the chart, indulge me and lean into Lesson 2 and your draft with a fresh set of eyes.

The B-M-E Chart Process

Some quick definitions as we begin. Just summaries, for the sake of this exercises and post.

  • Inciting Incident: the first key turning point in a manuscript, when something happens that has never happened before, propelling the protagonist and antagonist together into the external flow of the story.
  • Midpoint: the center-most turning point in the manuscript, the tent post “propping up” the external and internal arcs of the story;the “ah-ha” moment when the protagonist realizes the “true” goal/conflict of her/his journey and pivots (through a shift in motivation) toward pursuing the objective that will drive her choices and actions for the second half of the novel.
  • Black Moment: the pinnacle moment where all that is at stake for the protagonist is revealed and all hope is lost if the the protagonist hasn’t learned enough throughout the story’s arc and/or isn’t ready to make the no-going-back, life-changing choice being asked of her.

Step 1: Can you isolate these turning points in your draft?

Not theoretically, not as you think back about what you meant to do with your story. Actually, physically, can you turn to these places in your printout (PLEASE, when you’re deconstructing a drafted work-in-progress, print it out and work with a hard copy. I swear, developmental/content editing is so much more effective at the analytical stage if you work with hard copy rather than scrolling through a digital copy)?

seriously

I have a method I’ll describe in a later re-write lesson for isolating specific scenes while deconstructing a novel, and how to learn the most you can from that exercise. But for now do the best you can and put your finger on when these three critical events happen to your protagonist. Not what you planned to do, or what you meant to do, but what you physically wrote as you drafted. Read the rest of this entry »

How You Re-Write 1: Revise with the B-M-E Chart

July 5th, 2016

Re-writing is your friend. No, seriously. Re-writing is your BEST creative friend of all… Revisions, if you will. But when I teach and keynote and author coach and content edit, I make a clear distinction between line and copy editing and proof reading and the creative work of developmental editing, also known as re-writing.

And since for most of us mere mortals, our first full draft of a project rarely tumbles out of our brains fully realized, just dying to be written, part of our job–arguable the most important part of your job–is re-crafting that draft until it’s its best self. And that ain’t easy. In fact, resistance to re-working and re-writing and re-imagining the whole that’s sprouted from that kernel of an idea that drew you to write a story is the Number One reason a lot of authors never publish traditionally, and why a great deal of independently-published novels will never find a home in a reader’s heart.

Rewriting isn’t an easy friend. It’s overwhelming work, and creative fatigue and doubt and frustration can win the ensuing battle if you let them. But you’re a professional writer. Say it with me, “I’M A PROFESSIONAL WRITER.”

And your job is to take control of your creative process every step of the way. And for the purposes of this How You Write post, your job is to rewrite your draft for however long it takes for the story and characters and journeys you’ve created to connect with the reader on every level possible. You’re the boss, not the draft. You’re ready to work through the exhausting process of diving back in over and over. Really, you are ;o)

The way to do that?

Simple.

No, the process isn’t simple. But you job is, so to speak. All you have to do is break your draft down into simple parts, so you can effectively execute the work left to be done in manageable chunks.

simple

When you’re drafting with a plan (and you have a plan, right?) or rewriting with plan (because you revamp your plan for your story before you rewrite, right?), you give yourself a chance to conquer the overwhelming, sinking feeling that you can’t succeed at something as complex as creating a novel. You allow yourself to focus on one piece of the story at a time, until the whole manuscript finally begins to take shape. But what is your re-writing plan???

I’ll get more specific about my re-writing approach in my twice-weekly July How You Write blog updates. But for now, accept for the sake of argument that writing is a process (while creativity and voice and the compulsion to share story with the world through the written word is a gift, bless you heart…). And as part of that process, re-writing can be learned and executed and mastered by anyone determined get better at her/his craft.

To help simplify things today as we dip our toe into re-writing…

I encourage every new student and client to do what I do with a freshly drafted first pass at a story–focus on the beginning, middle, and end of your characters’ journeys, as you deconstruct what you’ve achieved with your novel. Before you rewrite the first word, you first have to understand (to “conquer”) what you’ve already written.

First up! I teach students and clients to pinpoint the emotional focus of a character at the inciting incident of a story,  at the midpoint, and at the black moment.

beginning middle end

Make a chart (easily done in Word or Excel or freehand on a notepad). A simple one, with a row for your protagonist, your antagonist and perhaps one significant secondary character. Three columns: Beginning, Middle, End.

BME Table

Then read through those three key turning points in your story draft (inciting incident, midpoint and black moment) and see if you can define the state of each character’s internal journey. Jot down only a sentence or two for each turning point and each character. You should be able to summarize very specifically how a character is growing or wanting to change at each critical juncture. Once you’re done, take a look…

Is each character’s emotional state dynamic and arcing throughout the story? Read the rest of this entry »

5 STAR Amazon Ranking Celebration GIVEAWAY… WIN Summer Fun!

June 7th, 2016

“Very well written and an amazing cast of characters. I loved every minute of the book and hated to see it end…”

We’re celebrating WAITING FOR YOUR LOVE’s 5 STAR Amazon Ranking with another giveaway!

Who wants to WIN this Summer-Themed Coloring Set (isn’t it ADORABLE!) and a digital copy of  WAITING FOR YOUR LOVE?

coloring set

Even in my novellas, character is everything for me.

I sweat all the details, work my tail off with my editor to pick and choose just the right characteristics and actions and motivation and reactions will showcase the two leads and as many secondary characters as I can pack into the story ;o) Pacing and plot zoom you through what you’re reading. But in my books it’s always the characters you remember most, long after your done.

To be in the giveaway, comment about your favorite character(s) in the story you know will stay with you forever! You can also leave a comment on my Facebook Page Giveaway Post for a second chance to win!

Winner announced tomorrow, when I post the next release giveaway.

Keep checking back all week for more chances to win…

Oh, and snap up WAITING FOR YOU LOVE now for ONLY 99 CENTS! It’s already racking up 5 Star Reviews on Amazon

***

WAITING FOR YOUR LOVE

Sweet, sassy, ADORABLE summer fun!”

WFYL FINAL

Friends to lovers should be the sweetest romance of all…

So how did Clair Summerville get herself into such a mess—pretend dating Conrad Lancaster of all people at her family reunion?

Clair can’t lose their life-long friendship. She and Conrad have always been there for each other, no matter how complicated their separate worlds have gotten. Now they’re playing with fire. And one of her best girlfriends, Bethany Darling (from His Darling Bride), is fanning the flames.

Of course kissing and cuddling like lovers in front of Claire’s nosy, controlling family leads to suspiciously “real” couple behavior in private. But no way can she reveal her true feelings for Conrad. Not with her survival instincts clamoring at DEFCON 1.

Clair’s desperate to cut and run, the way she has with every other guy she’s come close to trusting with her heart.
Except this is Conrad. She’s been secretly in love with him and his little boy, Harper, for years. And this is Chandlerville, Georgia, where neighbors have a pesky habit of pitching in—whether you ask them to or not—to make dreams come true. Especially the dreams you want so badly, they shake you to your core.

Looks like these made-for-each-other loners have everything they need to win their long-overdue happily ever after… If only they’d risk their tender hearts one more time.

Or will Clair and Conrad lose their last chance to fight for each other’s love?

The Big, Bad UGLY We Don’t Talk About: EARLY WRITING

June 7th, 2016

How to explain how planning and prepping and early drafting for a new novel feels…?

It’s like finding out you’re pregnant, I guess, and wondering what your new baby will be like. Or graduating from college, hoping and dreaming about that first/new job. Or meeting the man/woman you think will be your soul mate, and wondering if your life together could really be that amazing.

Or, if you’re an angsty writer not liking not knowing if what you’re doing is going to suck EGGS, like this.

head in hands

Or this.

crazy writer

Or this.

panic

I’ve written 27 wildly successful novels, by many’s standards. I’ve often made a living creating something out of nothing. Which is decidedly more often, lucky me, than most who get a hankering to write a book and embark on the crazy journey I’m on.

How can I still be so nervous? Worried? Troubled to my very core, so much so that I can’t really write deeply yet, because all the reflections on the surface keep shimmering in and out and away from me, too quickly for me to see clearly.

You know you want to do what you’re doing. You’re dying to get see what the beautiful thing your creating will be, once it’s done. And you’re petrified. You’re feeling less than. You’re stumped as to how anyone could possibly think you could do this. Or is it just me?

fear what would you do if you weren't afraid

We sense the danger of being wrong, of failing, of not living up, I think. Read the rest of this entry »

RELEASE Celebration Giveaways: ADORABLE Mugs Up for Grabs!

June 6th, 2016

WAITING FOR YOUR LOVE is out and it’s time to PARTY ;)

Who wants to WIN this ADORABLE set of mugs?

mugs

As soon as I saw them, I could just picture Clair Summerville and Conrad Lancaster sharing their morning coffee and smiling over the brims ;o)

I hope WAITING FOR YOUR LOVE becomes your FAVORITE friends-to-Lovers romance. I know it is mine!

For your chance to win Clair and Conrad’s story, leave a comment in THIS POST, or on my FACEBOOK PAGE Giveaway Post, about a favorite friends-to-lovers story you experiences or watched blossom.

Winner announced tomorrow, when I post the next release giveaway!

Keep checking back all week for more chances to win…

Oh, and snap up WAITING FOR YOU LOVE now for ONLY 99 CENTS! It’s already racking up 5 Star Reviews on Amazon

***

WAITING FOR YOUR LOVE

Sweet, sassy, ADORABLE summer fun!”

WFYL FINAL

Friends to lovers should be the sweetest romance of all…

So how did Clair Summerville get herself into such a mess—pretend dating Conrad Lancaster of all people at her family reunion?

Clair can’t lose their life-long friendship. She and Conrad have always been there for each other, no matter how complicated their separate worlds have gotten. Now they’re playing with fire. And one of her best girlfriends, Bethany Darling (from His Darling Bride), is fanning the flames.

Of course kissing and cuddling like lovers in front of Claire’s nosy, controlling family leads to suspiciously “real” couple behavior in private. But no way can she reveal her true feelings for Conrad. Not with her survival instincts clamoring at DEFCON 1.

Clair’s desperate to cut and run, the way she has with every other guy she’s come close to trusting with her heart.
Except this is Conrad. She’s been secretly in love with him and his little boy, Harper, for years. And this is Chandlerville, Georgia, where neighbors have a pesky habit of pitching in—whether you ask them to or not—to make dreams come true. Especially the dreams you want so badly, they shake you to your core.

Looks like these made-for-each-other loners have everything they need to win their long-overdue happily ever after… If only they’d risk their tender hearts one more time.

Or will Clair and Conrad lose their last chance to fight for each other’s love?

WIN the Entire ECHOES OF THE HEART Series!

June 4th, 2016

We’re celebrating Monday’s WAITING FOR YOUR LOVE release early with a FOUR-BOOK GIVEAWAY ;) WIN the entire Echoes of the Heart Series to date!

BOOKS ONLY

To win DIGITAL copies of Here in My Heart, Let Me Love You Again, and Christmas on Bellevue Lane…and a PRINT copy of His Darling Bride–comment with the name of your FAVORITE novel series and let us know why it’s so special to you.

Winner announced on WAITING FOR YOUR LOVE’s release day: Monday, June 6th.

All you have to do is comment to be eligible!

Then visit my blog daily
and follow me on Facebook (at my Author Page )
all next week and beyond, for more fun chances to win… Read the rest of this entry »

WIN a $10 AMAZON GIFT CARD: Waiting for Your Love’s PRE-ORDER Giveaway@

June 3rd, 2016

Party and WIN great prizes at WAITING FOR YOUR LOVE’s Release Party–RIGHT HERE on the blog ;O)

So many of you have not only written saying how excited you are to get your hands (and readers) on WAITING FOR YOU LOVE, but that you’re DYING to have giveaways again on the blog site (instead of only social media). AND Facebook’s making reaching my readers and fans ridiculously hard with each passing release…

SO, bets of both worlds time!

EVERY GIVEAWAY for WAITING FOR YOUR LOVE’s release (my new Echoes of the Heart novella launches next Tuesday, June 6th!) will have a blog post here, where you can comment for your chance to WIN (and for a second chance, if you also participate on my Anna DeStefano: Author Facebook Page.

Up first: a $10 Amazon Gift Card giveaway for all who PRE-ORDER WAITING FOR YOUR LOVE between now and midnight, June 5th!

To be eligible in the blog, leave a comment IN THIS POST with her Amazon Order Confirmation Number on or before midnight June 5th. You can also comment on my DeStefano: Author Facebook Page post, for an extra chance to win. Winner randomly chosen on release day from all commenters on both sites!

WFYL FINAL

Then visit my blog daily
and follow me on Facebook (at my Author Page )
all next week and beyond, for more fun chances to win… Read the rest of this entry »

His Darling Bride Release Party is LIVE. WIN a $10 Amazon Gift Card!

March 28th, 2016

Party and WIN great prizes all Spring in His Darling Bride’s Facebook Release Party ;O)

First Giveawaya $10 Amazon Gift Card goes to one lucky guest when we reach 250 readers attending! Click the link. Join us today. You don’t want to miss your chance.

Echoes of the Heart Cover Collage

Then visit my blog daily and follow me on Facebook (at my Author Page or His Darling Bride’s Release Party page) to stay in the loop for our Spring Celebration and more fun chances to win…

***

His Darling Bride
Releasing April 26th, 20016
I love love love this series. It just gets better and better.”
~ 5 STAR GoodReads Review

Bethany Darling doesn’t kiss men at first sight…until she falls into the arms of a handsome cowboy bartender.

A mysterious stranger, Mike helps scare off Bethany’s obnoxious ex-boyfriend. Mike’s touch feels like coming home. But Bethany’s sonot interested. Between stalled-out dreams of becoming a painter, troubles reconnecting with her sprawling foster family, and the happy chaos of her sister’s upcoming wedding, Bethany’s already in over her head. But each time she and Mike stumble across each other in small-town Chandlerville…sparks fly.

A famous photographer hiding under a Stetson, Mike Taylor recognizes Bethany as a kindred artistic spirit. Together they rekindle her passion for painting—and she inspires him in unexpected, undeniable ways. Then when Mike’s own past threatens to tear apart his present, Bethany becomes his safe place to turn.

Can these two wandering souls finally trust their hearts? Or will they run from the forever love they never expected to find?

DeStefano-His Darling Bride-19100 - CV-FT

Pre-Order Today!