Tag Archives: synopsis

Publishing Questions I Ask Myself Before I Start Writing a Book

21 Mar

Publishing is hard. We all know that. What makes it harder is bad timing and unclear focus. It’s easy to get lost in the art of writing long before you consider the business of writing, but at the end of the day, publishing is a business. You should have your business plan in mind before you set off on your writing journey. By doing so, you’ll be a lot more prepared for pitching and revisions.

That said, I want to add a caveat before I start sharing the publishing questions I ask myself before I start writing a novel. I’m pursuing traditional publication. That requires different techniques than self-publishing. Putting the publishing method aside, though, if you want to write a book that brings you joy and that’s it, then go for it! I am not here to stop you. It’s important to write and be happy. I have learned that lesson the hard way before. However, I am here to discuss how to hone your skills and focus that joy into a project that stands a higher chance at success. 

By being purposeful in our writing decisions, I believe we increase our chances of success. That doesn’t mean it will absolutely work. But there is something to be said about timing (and a little bit of luck). If you can put the odds in your favor, why wouldn’t you? To do that, I’ve learned to ask myself some pretty hard questions before I start writing. 

Here’s that list:

What does this novel add to the market? 

Maybe it goes without saying, but I think this is probably the most important question you must ask yourself. How does your book stand out from what’s currently out there? How is it relevant but also fresh? Do you have a twist on an old trope that hasn’t been done before? Are you writing it from a perspective not often seen? My advice is always to lean into your most unique aspects as hard as you can without breaking the story. This will help it stand out. 

Are there unique elements that need to be pushed or scaled back?

Once I have a list of my unique elements, I have to take a hard look at the plot/characters. I don’t want to push my unique elements too hard. By doing so, you can break a story. It’s important to understand your limitations as a writer. If you are trying to push yourself to try something way outside your norm, make sure you’re enlisting help from experienced writers or beta readers who avidly read your genre. (You should also be reading avidly within the genre/age category that you’re writing.) Remember: unique is great, but readers also love an old trusted trope. Having some familiar expectations can be a fantastic selling point, too. 

Is the pitch succinct and commercial? 

You certainly have time to figure out your pitching materials, but personally, I start working on a pitch and query letter before I start writing the actual book. Why? Because it quickly shows me if I truly understand the novel I am about to write. Who wants to get 80k into a piece only to realize they aren’t positive about the main themes or twists? Have you attempted to write a query letter to get a better idea of the main theme/plot/character? I stand by attempting your query letter (and maybe even your synopsis) before you start writing. It will reveal the glaring flaws you already have, before going in and finding out the hard way. I will also add that it’s important to recognize that this query isn’t truly your query. I’ve literally never used my starter query as a draft query for when I start to query agents. It’s more like a tool to get me started on the best writing path possible. I often still discover many new (and fun) elements in my work once the writing begins, but having the bare bones of a strong plot keeps me on track and confident that the work won’t fizzle out due to confusion or roadblocks. 

Why would someone pick up this book compared to a comparative title? 

Pretend you’re at a bookstore and your novel is nestled between its comparative titles. Cover aside, why do you want to pick up this book the most? This might go back to the earlier question about what makes your book stand out, but it’s a worthwhile exercise to try out from a reader’s fresh perspective instead of a writer’s. 

Why would you choose to work on this book compared to your other WIPs?

If you’re anything like most of the writers I know, then you probably have a dozen or so ideas bouncing around your noggin that you are dying to write. So why this one? What makes this WIP better than the other ones you are currently playing around with? Not just better to you, but also better to the market? I will caution you not to pick out the idea you have the most fleshed out. Just because you’ve spent more time with it, does not mean it is the best one to pursue right now (or ever). I, myself, recently put my historical fantasy aside to pursue my middle grade novel-in-verse. Why? I’d already written three drafts of my historical fantasy. I had a great revision plan and betas lined up ready to read again. I even had an agent who already requested the full from a writing contest I won before I decided to revise. (They said they were happy to wait until I was done.) By all means, I should’ve concentrated on the historical, right? Wrong. The more I looked at where I stood with that project, the more I realized now was not the right time to pursue it. While I wasn’t confident I could revise the historical and secure representation with it (mostly due to where the market is at with this particular kind of story), I was ready for my middle grade book. Plus, novels-in-verse are finally picking up steam. I wanted to ride that wave before it became a hurricane and mine got lost in the flood. So, I took that leap of faith. I put everything aside to start a brand-new project that I was truly passionate about. I’m now querying and have more fulls than I did with my historical. Sometimes, it’s about reading the water and following your gut when you decide which river to take. (Okay, I’ll stop with the bad water metaphors.) 

Can you spend 3-5 years on this project and be happy? This includes revisions, rejections, more revisions, etc. 

Maybe you thought I was a kill-joy, but I promise, I’m not. I know how important your mental health is when pursuing publication. Writing can be a long, lonely adventure, and those feelings can only get worse if your current WIP is dragging you down. When folks tell me they’re writing a novel (and planning to pursue traditional publication), one of the first chats I have with them is how long it can take. Writing the first draft is typically the fastest part. Beyond that is beta readers, revisions, querying, rejections, more revisions, signing with an agent, going on sub, more rejections, hopefully a book deal! Yay! But 3-5 years between writing your first draft and the actual book release date is pretty common if not expected. Granted, that doesn’t mean you have to be happy every single day for 5 years. That’s unrealistic. But, realistically, will you enjoy working on this book for a long time? The reasons for saying yes, or no, will vary from writer to writer. Some writers can write purely from a business angle, no problem, but others require a little bit more excitement in order to pursue an idea for a long time. 

All of the answers to these questions will be unique to you. They may not even be the best questions to ask yourself. These are just the ones I ask myself before I start writing, and they help me make decisions every time. Maybe they’ll help you, too. 

If you have additional questions, I’d love to read about them in the comments below! 

~SAT

#MondayBlogs When NaNoWriMo is Over

28 Nov

NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, is a lot of fun for many writers, and it can be that stepping stone that forces you to sit down and finish that draft you’ve been trying to complete for years. Whether you hit that 50,000-word milestone or not, I want to congratulate you, because—guess what??—you sat down, you got to work, and you wrote something that mattered to you.

That is worth celebrating.

But many writers might be asking themselves what to do now. Edit? Query? Write more?

The answer will be different for everyone, but here are my three universal tips for NaNoWriMo writers. (And, again, congratulations! You. Are. Awesome. Never stop writing.)

1. Do Not—and I repeat—DO NOT immediately start querying

NaNoWriMo’s goal is to get 50,000 words down. And while 50,000 words is certainly an accomplishment, it’s definitely a first draft. Querying now will only hurt you. In fact, working on a query letter at this point might not even be necessary—because a lot changes from a first draft to the final product—but that’s different for everyone. Sometimes, I like to write query letters before I write a book, just to make sure I understand my concepts and direction. This, of course, never becomes my final query or synopsis, but it helps to have a first draft of everything all at once. That way, I can see how my story changes and shapes over time.

So what are you supposed to do with a first draft?

Extra Tip: Make a plan. Set more deadlines, like NaNoWriMo. Maybe December can be drafting a query letter, synopsis, and pitch month.

Extra Tip: Make a plan. Set more deadlines, like NaNoWriMo. Maybe December can be drafting a query letter, synopsis, and pitch month. 

2. EDIT

Well, first, I normally tell writers to walk away for a little bit. Three weeks might seem like a long time, but it’ll distance you from your work…and your blind love might clear up. This is when you can see your plot holes, flat characters, and other flaws that definitely need fixing. Take word count for example. NaNoWriMo only requires a 50,000-word document, and while this is ideal for MG books, 50,000 words isn’t a great word count for an adult novel or even a YA fantasy. While 50,000 is an AMAZING accomplishment (please do not get me wrong), you’re more than likely going to receive automatic rejections because your word count is off. I know. I know. Word count isn’t everything. In fact, I think pacing matters more. But what’s the brutal truth for debuts? When your word count is off, it tells agents and publishers that you don’t know your genre or market (even if you do). Figure out your ideal word count here—and try to get it there. Don’t bank your entire career on being an exception to the rule.

3. Work on that query, synopsis, and pitch

Your novel isn’t the only piece of work needing attention. Now that you have a complete and edited draft, writing that dreaded query comes into play…and more often than not, query letters and pitches take just as long as editing does. Thankfully, there are plenty of helpful places to learn about this process, like QueryShark and the Query Critique Calendar (where you can get one-on-one help during competitions).

In the end, NaNoWriMo is a fantastic starting point, and you should be proud of your work and accomplishments. But it’s only one part of this wonderful journey. Take your time. Publishing is never a race. And make friends along the way.

Writing should be fun, after all. Try to enjoy all that comes along with it, including everything after THE END.

~SAT

Death Before Daylight Cover Reveal

6 Nov

I first want to thank everyone who took my poll on November 1st! For those of you who asked for more YouTube videos, you watched a secret video on my YouTube channel – Coffee & Cats – and you got to see the cover one day early. Check it out below if you want. I plan on sharing more secret videos in the future as well!

Today is all about Death Before Daylight. Both the cover and the synopsis are finally available, and I hope you enjoy them! Get excited for the last installment of The Timely Death Trilogy. In future posts, you can expect excerpts, a cover explanation, the back cover, quotes, and more! But special thanks goes out to the cover artist – Viola Estella – today.

Seconds Before SunriseTwo eternities. One ending.

“Harmony would only come with destruction.”

The moment Eric and Jessica are reunited, they are torn apart. After the appearance of a new breed of shades and lights, the powers shift for the worse, and all three descendants find themselves face-to-face in the Light realm. When Darthon is in control, the last thing everyone expects to hear is the truth.

While Jessica learns the reason of her creation, Darthon’s identity is exposed to Eric – and only Eric – but Eric can no longer defend himself. With the eternities of the Light and the Dark resting on Jessica’s shoulders, she must chose who she will be – a light or a shade – and both have dire consequences.

In the end, someone must die, and the end is near.

We’re still on schedule for a late January release, and I’ll be sure to let everyone know when it’s available on Goodreads or Amazon for pre-order! Until then, keep up-to-date right here, and be sure to catch up on Minutes Before Sunset, book 1, and Seconds Before Sunrise, book 2, in the meantime.

~SAT

Click today!

Click today!

My Dream: Seconds Before Sunrise on Goodreads & Extras

15 Nov

Happy Friday!

Today is a REALLY exciting day for me because I’m sharing two new things regarding Seconds Before Sunrise. First, we’re on Goodreads. You’ll be able to see a shortened synopsis until December 1. Then you’ll see the cover as well as the full synopsis. Add it to your Goodreads bookshelf today! (Who knows? You might be chosen to be a beta reader. Hint. Hint.)

But onto the extra:

As many of you know, The Timely Death Trilogy is based on a series of dreams I had from the ages of 14 to 16. I was going through a very dark time in my life when I started having dreams of a young man visiting me. He’d simply talk about my life, ask me what I was going to do, and then disappear. But it felt very real. In fact, it felt so real that, at some point, I truly felt like I might have been going insane. However, I got through this point in my life, and that’s when the dreams stopped. I found myself missing the midnight visitations, and I decided to create a story based off of them.

This is where things get funny.

I wrote Seconds Before Sunrise first. This book will have dream sequences in it, showing many of the dreams that I had. This is why I wanted to share an actual excerpt from my journal during this time in my life. You are about to read a diary entry, written about these events on December 28, 2005:

“I dreamt of him last night.

The actual journal this entry can be found in

The actual journal this entry can be found in

He was sitting on the edge of my bed. His hands were folded in his lap, and he muttered everything he said. We barely touched. And his eyes—I couldn’t stand the look in them. It was like he’d made some sort of self-sacrifice, signed a deal with internal torture, and it was something he could barely stand, let alone speak about.

When he did speak to me, he only told me to be careful—that he didn’t want me to get hurt. And, for a moment, I knew it was because he’d already been hurt and he didn’t want the same for me.

It’s peculiar really…to obsess over his protection when it was only a dream. He’s only a dream. And I have to remind myself of that before he feels real, before he becomes real.

This dream is truly and utterly impossible—a mere fantasy of the cruelest, selfish, intentions.”

When I went back to read this entry, the irony made me laugh out loud. I guess he became real, and I’m the one who did it–by writing The Timely Death Trilogy.

It’s an exciting time! I cannot wait for the cover reveal on December 1, the release on March 22, and to get to know more readers. Thank you for supporting me.

Please take a moment to add Seconds Before Sunrise to your Goodreads bookshelf today. And, while you’re there, enter for a chance to win a signed copy of Minutes Before Sunset.

Have a great weekend,

~SAT

Publishing News: Synopsis & Cover Date Reveal

21 Mar

Website Update: 10 p.m.: The lovely Sam Dawon featured me on her blog, “Hot Tea and Dark Chocolate.” Please visit her page, and, if you’d like, read her piece on me here

Website Update: 4 p.m. I just joined ALL AUTHORS LIST, a free database for authors to connect. I’d love to see you all there.

I’m excited to give the synopsis–or the back cover–of Minutes Before Sunset today. My young-adult novel is planned to release this May, and, so far, everything is going the way it’s supposed to! But, without further ado, here’s the back description for the young-adult paranormal romance:

I really enjoyed all the submissions! Can't wait for the upcoming reveal :]

I really enjoyed all the submissions! Can’t wait for the upcoming reveal :]

Two destines. One death.

She was undoubtedly a shade, but I didn’t know her.

Eric Welborn isn’t completely human, but he isn’t the only shade in the small Midwest town of Hayworth. With one year left before his eighteenth birthday, Eric is destined to win a long-raging war for his kind. But then she happens. In the middle of the night, Eric meets a nameless shade, and she’s powerful—too powerful—and his beliefs are altered. The Dark has lied to him, and he’s determined to figure out exactly what lies were told, even if the secrets protect his survival.

He had gotten so close to me—and I couldn’t move—I couldn’t get away.

Jessica Taylor moves to Hayworth, and her only goal is to find more information on her deceased biological family. Her adoptive parents agree to help on one condition: perfect grades. And Jessica is distraught when she’s assigned as Eric’s class partner. He won’t help, let alone talk to her, but she’s determined to change him—even if it means revealing everything he’s strived to hide.

All of this was announced on my Facebook Author Page on March 15th. Click here for the latest updates.

All of this was announced on my Facebook Author Page on March 15th. Click here for the latest updates.

My Minutes Before Sunset page is updated and so is the Novels page. Be sure to check both of them for updated information. The future plans involve the cover reveal, the sneak peak, and a vote for whether or not it will be available as a Kindle or NOOK.

Can’t wait for the future 😀

~SAT

March 23: How I Handle Rejection

%d bloggers like this: