Where have we been?

It’s been a while since we updated here at PageCurl HQ, and we wanted to take a quick moment to let you know what’s going on.

PageCurl is pausing operations for the next six to twelve months. What does that mean? Well, basically it means we aren’t taking any new submissions or publishing any new books. We’re not closing. In fact, we do hope to be back. But we’re a very small operation and those who make the magic happen for PageCurl need a break. While we’re away, we’ll be tweeting occasionally, but we won’t be blogging, accepting submissions, or publishing any new books. All existing published books will continue to be available and supported. Our home page won’t reflect this pause for a few more days, but by June 1st, we should have a notification posted.

While we’re gone, we hope you’ll keep reading, keep supporting your favorite authors, and keep writing.

Pop the champagne! We’re expanding!

Announcing PageCurl PublishingWhen Samantha and I started PageCurl Publishing and Promotion, we thought two talented (and a little crazy) authors could change the world. Turns out, we were right. We’ve helped dozens of authors with covers, editing, marketing, and publishing. The past 18 months have been a whirlwind, and the future promises to be even brighter.

You see, our marketing arm has exceeded our wildest expectations. With Samantha at the helm, we’ve worked with New York Times and USA Today Best-selling authors, taken emerging indie authors from obscurity to wild popularity, and created covers that our authors swear skyrocketed them to success.

Despite this success, or perhaps because of it, we kept feeling like something was missing. Something needed to shift. Not dramatically, but slightly, for everything we’ve ever dreamed for PageCurl to fall into place. A few months ago, we figured out what that was.

Today, PageCurl Publishing and Promotion is being transformed from one killer business into three!

Aurora Publicity is our new marketing division. With Samantha at the helm, and an entire team of publicists ready to send your career into orbit, Aurora offers a full range of marketing services, custom and pre-made covers, and the support you need at every stage of your journey. If you’re looking for your next PA/VA, head to Aurora. Aurora also offers many free author promotions and free ebooks and opportunities for readers.

The Novel Fixer is our editing and formatting division. Our editors are booking clients for the middle to end of April and beyond, and we’re your source for beautiful formatting for ebooks and paperbacks.

PageCurl Publishing and Promotion is now PageCurl Publishing. We’re still the same great company, but now we’re focusing solely on publishing. Send us your query now and we promise a two week response time on any submission. With generous royalty splits and our editing and marketing divisions ready to offer support, we’re the publisher that cares (and won’t leave you floundering for support after you publish).

I hope you’ll celebrate with us as we finalize this changeover. The PageCurl Publishing and Promotion facebook page will become Aurora Publicity soon and you can go like The Novel Fixer now (though the website is still very much under construction). A new Facebook page for PageCurl Publishing should be up and running by the end of the week.

We couldn’t have done this without all of our wonderful clients, and we can’t wait to see what the future brings.

Patricia and Samantha, ready for world domination (or, at least publishing domination)

Improving your craft: Writing a smart opening

Today in our ongoing series, Improving your craft, we’re going to talk a little bit about your novel’s opening.

How many times have you gone to Amazon to check out an advertised book, launched the Look Inside feature, and then walked away without buying?

Probably more often than you’d like. But why?

Lack of tension.

Let’s illustrate this with an example.

Our romance between Jack and Jill starts with two chapters of Jill’s backstory. We learn that she just got out of a bad relationship. Her friends think she’s been hiding in her apartment too long. They look at her yoga pants and sweatshirt and march her into her bedroom, where they pick out a sexy outfit, then spend a page or two helping her with her makeup, and finally, they drag her to a bar.

Two bars later, after we’ve learned how many drinks she’s had, and how many guys she’s turned down, and we’ve passed page forty-two in the manuscript, she finally meets Jack.

Now, backstory can be important. If your characters spring to life on the first page, they have no depth. And without depth, readers won’t truly care what happens to them. But, though YOU as the author must know your characters’ backstories, the reader does not need the entire story before the inciting incident. (More on that in just a bit.)

If you’re writing a straight romance (as opposed to suspense, thriller, or paranormal), and you wait until the fourth or fifth chapter to have your hero and heroine meet, you’d better have a very good reason for the delay. Just setting up the meeting isn’t a good enough reason. Your inciting incident, which is the point at which the reader knows the story has begun, should be within your first ten pages. If you can work the manuscript so the inciting incident is in the first five pages, even better.

Make your reader care from the very first page, and you’ll see your one-click rate skyrocket.

In our example, the fact that Jill’s friends spent so much time and effort getting her to the third bar is actually important. But, we don’t need all of the details. Why not start the story at the third bar? Have Jill order a drink and tell her friends, “I’m so happy you dragged me out tonight. I don’t even care that I haven’t met anyone. I haven’t changed out of yoga pants in weeks. I needed this.” And then have Jack bump into her. Sparks fly, and your readers will want more.

Next time in our series, we’ll talk more about tension, including how to know when you have it and when you don’t.

Improving your craft: how to get started

So let’s say that you want to publish a book. How can you ensure that your readers won’t want to put your book down? Well, today, we’d like to talk a little bit about stakes.

Good books raise the stakes. Whether romance, historical fiction, thriller, or even YA, every book, every character needs something they want, something they’ll do anything (or at least a lot) to get. Maybe it’s that happily ever after. Or perhaps it’s an ancient text that will save the world. Or even a home with running water and heat. Stakes are important.

But stakes are also important to the writer. If you don’t care about your manuscript, if you don’t feel a burning desire to write this story, take a step back and think before you hit that publish button.

One of our clients told me a few months ago: “I just don’t care about this story.” This particular client had struggled to finish this book, had struggled in the self-edit phase, and couldn’t figure out why. Her previous statement? That’s why. If you don’t care about your story, why should anyone else?

Now, don’t fret. If you don’t care about your story right now, that doesn’t mean the story is terrible. It doesn’t mean you should abandon the story completely. But it may mean that you should take a step back. Put the story aside for a few weeks. Work on something else. Read a few books that you enjoy. Go back to your plotting tool and replot the story. But if you don’t care, don’t try to make progress on the writing. Your readers will be able to tell.

Note: Every author, at some point in the writing or editing process feels this way. Don’t take this apathy as a sign that you shouldn’t write. You may just need to not write right now.

If you want to raise the stakes and don’t know how, ask yourself why.

Why do I write?

Back when I started publishing, my answer was very different than it is now. I wanted to write because I loved writing. I loved creating stories. Writing was an escape. Something I did to decompress at the end of a long day. Something that brought me joy.
Those are perfectly valid reasons to write. But are they valid reasons to publish? Maybe yes, maybe no. Only YOU can decide that. But, if you write only because you enjoy it, what’s to keep you writing when it someday becomes less fun? When you’re up at 3:00 a.m. because you just can’t make a chapter work and you want to cry, what will keep you going? When you realize that not only do you have to publish, but you have to market yourself as well. When you get that first bad review (everyone gets at least a few in their publishing career).

Asking yourself why you write can open up so many new possibilities. Perhaps you want to write to introduce people to diverse viewpoints. Maybe you put words down on paper because you want to bring light into the world. Or because you think your words can help people. These reasons, these sometimes difficult questions, can propel you from a passable story to one that leaps off the page.

Why this book?

If you didn’t finish your next WIP, what would happen? This isn’t meant to be a flippant question. What would happen? I’ll give you an example from my own writing. Last year, I wrote a book that dealt with emotional abuse. I’ve been in an emotionally abusive relationship, but I didn’t plan on ever writing about it. But as this book took shape, I realized that I had to keep going. I had to publish so that other women who might be in the same situation could see that there’s a way out. I wanted to detail the abuse that I didn’t recognize at the time, in the hopes that if another woman was in the same boat, she might see the abuse for what it is, and get help. That book changed my life. For the first time, my stakes went through the roof, and that translated to the page.

Check back next week when we’ll talk a bit about creating tension in a story. Happy writing.

valentinesdayhop

Improving your craft

Happy New Year! PageCurl has big plans this year. We’re going to be revamping our website a bit to speed it up, take on more clients, and hopefully publish at least four or five new authors! Do you want to be one of them? That’s right, we’re taking submissions now!

That’s a great segue into today’s post. Craft.

Being an author is more than simply putting words down on paper (or screen) and then hitting the publish button. Being an author carries responsibilities. One of those responsibilities? Improving your craft.

But what does that mean? Well, we’re going to spend a few weeks talking about craft here on the blog, but we’ve got a top five list for you today.

  1. Read. Yes, really. Read everything. Read books in your genre. Read books that aren’t in your genre. Read books by authors you admire and authors who are new to you. But once you finish a book, think back. What about the book spoke to you? What didn’t? Did you love the characters? Hate them? Why? We’re not suggesting you analyze every single book. That can get tedious and take some of the pleasure out of reading. But try to ask these questions after at least one out of every three or four books you read.
  2. Find a qualified editor. This one can be a little challenging. Anyone can spend $10 on a website (or maybe a little more) and call themselves an editor. While this might be an unpopular piece of advice, don’t go for the cheapest editor. Qualified editors rarely charge $200 for a manuscript. Ask for references. Check out the other books the potential editor has worked on. Read the reviews. And get a sample edit to make sure your styles mesh.
  3. Take care. We see a lot of careless mistakes in manuscripts. Run spell check before you submit your manuscript to your editor and then again before you publish. Learn how to properly format dialog tags. Don’t change point of view within a paragraph.
  4. Outline. Yes, even you pantsers can benefit from some very light outlining. We’re not talking about the super detailed outines we all learned in school. But even mapping out a few key tension points before you start your story can help you produce a work that readers can’t put down.
  5. Never stop learning. We’re going to cover some of our favorite writing books in more detail over the next few weeks, but Stephen King’s On Writing and Donald Maass’s Writing the Breakout Novel are two of our favorites.

Anyone can be a writer. But authors are passionate about their characters, their stories, and their craft. Want to take your writing to the next level? Want to publish a book readers can’t imagine putting down? Then stop by here every week in January (and maybe February, too) for our Improving Your Craft series and watch your writing soar.

Jingle Book Blog Hop

12 Days Holiday HopIt’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Here at PageCurl, we’re all about the Christmas spirit. We’ve got our lights up and our tree decorated and cookies ready for Santa.

To help you get into the holiday spirit, check out our giveaway for an ebook of In His Silks, the steamy holiday romance from Patricia D. Eddy. And don’t forget to join our Holiday Book Hop on Facebook (just click on the graphic above).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Black Friday Book Bonanza

BonanzaWe hope your Thanksgiving was full of all of your favorite things (or for you non-US folks, that you had a very relaxing Thursday). After all of the shopping on Black Friday, maybe you’d like to relax with a good book? Perhaps a sweet-and-steamy holiday romance novella?

You can enter to win a signed copy of Mistletoe and Mochas by clicking here. Share the giveaway, and if your friends enter using your special share link, you’ll receive three bonus entries!

One winner will be chosen for the signed paperback. Now put your feet up, relax with a steamy cup of hot chocolate or mulled wine, and let the holiday season begin!

12 Days Holiday HopOh, and if you’re a fan of holiday book-related events, love free books, and want to have the chance to win free e-books from one author for life, then head on over to our Holiday Book Hop on Facebook. We’re bringing you 180 different authors over 12 days, with free ebooks, contests, swag, and more. Oh, and one lucky party attendee will win a huge stash of signed paperbacks and the chance to win free ebooks FOR LIFE from one of our fabulous authors.

NaNoWriMo along with PageCurl

NaNo2015Ah, November. The best and worst month of the year. Why? Because it’s NaNoWriMo time. Time for writers all over the world to hunker down with brand new manuscripts, outlines, and dreams of completed novels filling their heads. We’ve written a bit about NaNoWriMo over the past few weeks, and we hope that you’ve rocketed into November with a plan. We wanted to take a little bit different approach with our post for this week. We’re going to share our NaNoWriMo plans with you.

Patricia’s Plan

I haven’t actually participated in NaNoWriMo officially in a couple of years. I’m naturally very competitive, and the last year that I did NaNo, I kept writing terrible words in an effort to fill out my word count. So I quit. I stopped checking the NaNoWriMo website and started a brand new story about ten days in. And that story is now a best-selling novel. This year, I’m doing my own personal little National-Novella-Rewriting-Month. You see, I just got my edits back on Moonlight and Macchiatos, and they are…rather extensive. After a detailed chat with my editor, I’ve decided to overhaul the characters completely and make some massive changes to the interplay between them. While the basic meat of the story will remain the same, so  much will change that I’m effectively starting from scratch. I’ll be cutting huge swaths of some chapters and making slight tweaks to others.

I also have a holiday short story to write in the next two weeks. That’s the more pressing task, as I have a firm deadline for that one. Moonlight and Macchiatos is about 34,000 words and the holiday short story needs to be approximately 20,000 words. If I can do both this month, I’ll have effectively completed a full NaNoWriMo. I love interacting with fellow authors on Twitter, so hit me up if you need encouragement.

Samantha’s Plan

Two years ago I wrote my debut novel during NaNo. Well, okay, I finished it during NaNo as it had been sitting to the side for a few months before November kicked my behind into gear to get it done. Sadly, I’m not doing NaNo this year. Not in the traditional sense. I’m going to use NaNoWrimo to edit, and I’ll explain how in a moment. I wish I could fit in more time for writing, but the truth is, business is booming for PageCurl and my priority is to keep up on all the great things PageCurl is launching (like our new Book Club!), as well as working with my author clients on their marketing.

A publicist’s job is never done, you see, and while I wouldn’t change a darn thing, my spare time is limited or nonexistent these days. The sequel to that debut novel needs to get edited (I loathe editing, don’t you? A necessary evil, but man, haha), and I plan to try to edit the 2,000 words a day to get this book self-edited and sent off to my amazing editor. If there’s time, I’d love to work on my baseball romance or even the first book in my new Mackinaw Island series (title TBD).

So while I may not be flooding my social steams with virtual fist pumps and word counts, I will still be posting about my progress and looking to encourage all my friends participating in NaNo the “right” way or the “fake” way as I am. Feel free to connect with me so we can encourage each other! You’ll find me mostly on Facebook and Twitter. Happy NaNoWriMo month! May the writing muse visit you should you need her.

Countdown to NaNoWriMo – Preparation and Survival Guide

The end of October brings all sorts of spooky images. Black cats, ghosts, ghouls, and witches surround us, trying to drive us back into our homes, where the candy bowl beckons and adorable children will come ringing our doorbells dressed as superheroes, pirates, and minions.

But for writers, the end of October drives us inside for another reason. National Novel Writing Month is just around the corner…six days around the corner, in fact, and now’s the time to prepare. We’ve put together a survival guide for NaNo to keep you sane and help you bang out those 50,000 words like a pro.

Step 1: Warn your family and friends.

While some writers can bang out 50,000 words without batting an eye, for many of us, 1,667 words every day beats our usual output. You don’t ramp up like that without some trade-offs. Movies might have to wait until December 1st. Coffee dates might turn into a quick cup chugged down in front of a laptop rather than sipped slowly while hanging with friends. And parties? Don’t even ask. If you have support around you in the form of a spouse or children of cooking age, plan out some easy meals they can help you cook to save you time (or perhaps your husband or wife or partner is just awesome and does all of the cooking anyway).

Step 2: Outline.

We can’t stress this enough. Outline, outline, outline. Now, we’re not a huge fan of the old-school outlines we all learned when we were twelve and writing our first social studies report. No, we’re in favor of a more light, and possibly visual method. Our favorite outlining tool was developed by a friend of ours, Ally at Upgrade Your Story. Head over to her site, sign up for her newsletter, and you’ll get her Visual Outlining Method for free. But that’s definitely not the only way to outline. Notecards, whiteboards, sticky notes…whatever your method, start working on your outline this week so once November 1st rolls around (or comes crashing through your front door), you’re ready to go to town on those words.

Step 3: Start strong.

NaNoWriMo starts on a Sunday this year. Assuming you don’t have littles around who need you all day on a weekend, we recommend trying to get a little bit ahead of the game on the first day. Motivation is high, distractions (we hope) are low, and you’re at that exciting part of the story where anything is possible. If you can manage 3000 words the first day, you’ll give yourself a bit of breathing room for the rest of the first week.

Step 4: Take breaks.

Yes, really. Sure, you want to get all of those 50,000 words down RIGHT NOW. We know you do. But burnout is real, and we want you to avoid it at all costs. Plan some downtime. Have a book you’ve been dying to read? Use it for motivation. “If I get 2,000 words in this writing session, I get to read two chapters.” We’re big fans of rewards. And don’t forget that there’s a whole world outside your door. Stuck on a tricky scene? Go walk around the block. Can’t get your dialog to come out right? Stand up and stretch. Try some lunges or some crunches. Get the blood moving. Or just pick up your laptop and move into another room. Open a window. Try some new music and dance around the living room for a bit. You’ll come back stronger.

Step 5: Be realistic.

At the end of November, whether you’ve managed 20,000 words, 50,000 words, or 100,000 words, you’re not ready to publish. Nope. You’ve still got the self-editing phase, the editing phase, and the formatting phase to get through. And you should probably take at least a week off between writing and self-editing. If not more. You’re going to need to recuperate from thirty days of insanity. No one should publish their NaNoWriMo novel in December. Nope. Put the book away for a little bit, refresh your body and mind, and then go back to it and polish that manuscript until it shines. And then let a professional editor take their turn. (Hint: If you need one, we can help. Use the Contact form at the bottom of this page for information on how we can help with your editing neds.)

This advice also goes for setting goals during the month. NaNoWriMo official goals are 1,667 words a day. But maybe the right number for you is 500 words. While you won’t “win” NaNo officially, if you produce 500 really awesome words a day, and you’ve been stuck of late at 500 words a week, that’s still winning in our book. Be smart about  your own goal setting. Push yourself, sure. but don’t totally exhaust yourself in the process.

Step 6: Find support.

Whether you like twitter chats, Facebook parties, or public write-ins, NaNoWriMo is a fantastic time to discover other writers in your community (physical and virtual) who’ll support you. Be there for them as much as they’re there for you. You might end up with some fantastic friends out of the process, and maybe even some inspiration for your novel. PageCurl will be hosting writing sprints every couple of days on Twitter. Just look for the hashtag: #pagecurlwrites and join in. We also love #WriteClub from @FriNightWrites, and of course, follow the official NaNoWriMo twitter account @NaNoWriMo.

Step 7: When it’s all over, celebrate.

Whether you managed 50,000 words or 10,000, you still did something awesome. Reward yourself. We suggest a gourmet chocolate bar, a nice glass of wine, or maybe a new book. Or all three. Or perhaps all you want is to sleep for twelve hours. Whatever tickles your fancy, we suggest trying to make it happen on December 1st. Oh, and maybe say hi to your family as well. They’ve probably missed you.

Need support for NaNoWriMo? Have a tip to share here? Leave us a comment!

Should you join NaNoWriMo?

NaNoWriMo? Is that some new dance move? No. National Novel Writing Month is the annual event that brings writers together to attempt to write a novel (or at least 50,000 words of one) in the month of November.

Both of the PageCurl founders have done NaNo multiple times. We’ve won (which just means we completed our 50,000 words). We’re huge fans of NaNoWriMo. But, we also realize that NaNo isn’t for everyone. If you’re trying to decide whether or not to participate in NaNo, here’s a handy little guide to help you make your decision.

You should do NaNo if…

  • You don’t have a lot of support around your writing and you think a community would help you
  • You need something to jump start your writing again after a break
  • You AREN’T planning on publishing your NaNo project the week after NaNo ends (more on that in a later post)
  • You’re a brand new writer and want to see what you’re capable of (but remember the bullet point right above)

You shouldn’t do NaNo if…

  • The idea of writing 50,000 words in a month fills you with so much terror, you can’t see straight
  • You’ll have to abandon a project with good momentum in favor of a NaNo project
  • You get sloppy if you write quickly
  • You’re only doing NaNo because it’s your “duty” as a writer

These are pretty general statements, but let us try to explain a bit. NaNoWriMo is a fantastic program. It brings together writers all over the world, gives them tremendous support, and creates a community. NaNo helped both of the PageCurl founders complete several manuscripts. We needed NaNo for support and motivation.

But not every writer should participate in NaNo. There’s a lot of pressure involved…especially if you’re a competitive person and can’t stand the idea of not winning. After all, which would you prefer? To complete a thoughtful, well-written, and beautiful novel? Or to write 50,000 words that you might have to completely scrap?

Now, we’re not saying that every NaNo participant is going to have to scrap their 50,000 words at the end of the month. Many won’t. But there’s a finesse that can come from taking your time with your words that is often lost when you try to write quickly–or at least a lot quicker than your norm.

You aren’t required to do NaNo simply because you’re an author. You’re also not required to FINISH NaNo if you start. What a lot of people don’t understand is that NaNoWriMo is a journey. You don’t have to finish all 50,000 words. You can participate in the forums, the twitter chats, and the live events in  your community without finishing NaNo. All the benefits, none of the (potential) downsides.

So should you participate in NaNoWriMo? Only you can answer that question. But whether you’re planning to win or planning to sit at the sidelines and cheer your fellow writers on, PageCurl is going to be right there with you. We’ve got a great lineup of NaNo content coming up, and we can’t wait to share it with you.

Let’s end with a question. How best can PageCurl support YOU in your NaNoWriMo decision making?