Monday, March 28, 2016

How to Write with a Baby

This past February, an adorable 7lb, 6oz life-changer was born and has been in my arms about 99.9999999999% of the time since. I’m loving mommyhood just as much as I always imagined I would (a lot).
My son!

But writing has fallen way to the side and under the couch, out of sight. That’s to be expected because it takes a while to recover from birth and navigate how handsomely different life is with a newborn. Different as in, you don't get to fulfill all your basic needs anymore; you have to pick a few for the day. But it's cool (most of the time) because this little one needs you. And no one else can do what Momma does quite like Momma, so that makes you pretty special. 

After six weeks of baby baby baby, last week, I got the itch to write. I even managed to squeeze in a little writing time. A miracle, I know. Now that I got a taste of writing again, I want more. How can writing with a baby possibly be done, though? I'm glad you asked! Disclaimer: I haven’t mastered writing with a newborn. The following ideas are for my help just as much as anyone else’s. Let’s try these together and see how we do.

Start Small, Go Easy

Caring for a little human who can do nothing for himself, only wants Mommy, and cries to communicate is no easy feat. It’s just a fact that you’re not going to be able to do everything like you used to. The amount of free time you have won’t be the same as another new mom’s free time because every mother, baby, and lifestyle is different. Do what YOU can do. And go super easy on yourself. Can you manage to stay up during your newborn’s first sleep of the night to write a whole chapter? Awesome. Can you only squeeze in one sentence before you jump in your only shower of the week? Wonderful. Quantity doesn’t matter anymore, if it ever really did. What matters is that you write something. Small victories are still victories.

And if you can’t even get one word down? There’s always tomorrow when your baby’s a little less small. 

Buy Paper Plates

J.K. Rowling, in all her grace and wisdom said, “People very often say to me, ‘How did you do it? How did you raise a baby and write a book?’ and the answer is, I didn’t do housework for four years!” I don’t know about you, but if I literally didn’t do housework for four years or even four weeks, things would grow, rodents would move in, and smells would get smelly. I have to at least try to keep up on housework. But let’s make it easier on ourselves and buy paper plates and the like so there aren’t as many dishes piling up. Make as many adjustments as you can. The less time you have to spend cleaning means more time to write.

Order Takeout or Delivery 

Just like buying paper plates, ordering food saves a heck of a lot of time. You could also beg your husband, mom, best friend, or stranger to cook dinner for you. If all that fails, a bowl of cereal totally counts as a meal.

Baby Carriers and Boppy

Baby carriers are awesome for a billion reasons, but the ability to type with both hands while your baby is strapped to your chest is enough. Sometimes, Baby just wants and needs to be close to Momma. If your shoulders hurt from your carrier, place the Boppy on your lap and rest your happy baby on the Boppy. Boom, I’m doing it right now, and my little baby cakes is resting peacefully while I type. A win for both of us.

Write What You Want to Write 

As we know, writing with a baby can be done, but it aint easy. When you’re sleep deprived and hungry and the pile of diapers that didn’t quite make it to the trash is starting to smell, if writing feels more like a chore than fun, why on earth would you pick writing over literally anything else you need/want to do? Unless you have an amount of self-control I can’t even dream of, you won't. So write what’s fun. On Monday, maybe that means your WIP. On Tuesday, it could be your blog. If, by Wednesday, all you can write is the what kind of sandwich you want in the online order form for Jimmy John’s, it’s all good. 

One day, your little bundle of wonder won’t be so little. He won’t want to rest in your arms. He won’t need you as much. (Stop crying.) And you’ll have more time to write. The day will come. Today, don’t stress about the amount of words. Enjoy your cuddles and new role as a writing mommy.


Thursday, March 24, 2016

Published Authors: Your Basic Author Media Kit

My day job is to plan events, mainly author events.

I have emailed my manager the words "I just can't." twice today.

Because I have spent the entire day dealing with authors who don't have the most basic materials they should have in order to promote their book, I thought I'd develop a short list of the things you should have readily available once you have a book published. Some of these may seem obvious -- and I thought so too, until today.

So please, make it easy on anyone who wants to help you promote your book and have these things at the ready the day your book is published (or earlier if you want day-of-release publicity). I like to have them saved in my google drive and dropbox so that I can access them anywhere with an internet connection.

1) A high-resolution jpg of your book cover.

At the very least, it should be 500 pixels wide and more long. I routinely get 250px wide book covers. I can't put those up on a big screen. I can't print those in an event program booklet.

Do not copy this into the body of the email. Do not put it into a word document and send it that way. Both of these reduce the quality of the image automatically. Attach it to email as a jpg attachment.

2) A high-resolution professional headshot.

If you don't have the money to get a professional photographer to shoot one, check out my post here on faking it.

No bathroom selfies, please. Unless it is a distinct and obvious part of your author brand, no purses or bra straps. Please.

Same quality and delivery guidelines as discussed in #1.

3) Your book blurb.

Well-edited. Typo-free. Not in first person from the author's perspective, unless it's a memoir.

4) Direct, clean links where your book is available for purchase. Include Goodreads even though it is not a retailer.

5) Your bio.

To be on the safe side, have the following versions prepared: 1-2 sentences, 1-2 paragraphs, a page long. Only send the page-long one if specifically requested. Most people want the 1-2 paragraphs version.

6) Your web links. Website, Twitter, Facebook, and anywhere else you maintain an author presence.

Don't make me google you. Especially if, for instance, there are violent criminals with your name who rank higher in search results than you do. For example. Hypothetically. *cough*

7) Book review quotes.

1-4 sentence quotes with source, linked if possible.

Bonus: Include numbers 3 through 7, in that order, in a single simply-formatted word document that can be sent off at a moment's notice. This is sometimes called a "one-sheet." It can include embedded images of your cover and photo, but these should not be the only way you send these files. Do not get fancy with formatting. This should be informative first.

Help yourself by helping those who are trying to give you free publicity have all the information they'll need. Please. I'm begging you.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Readers just won't be told!

Right, so don't get all huffy and storm off in a strop, have a paddy or throw your dummy out the pram. This rule was made eons ago and has recently gained crazy momentum for a reason. And no, it's not to ruin  your writing, or make it sound like everyone else's, or suck out all the fun, or hinder your natural voice. Goodness no. This rule does the opposite when used to its maximum. Exploit the 'show, don't tell' rule and your characters will come alive, your talent will explode on the page, your action will be vivid and your voice addictive. It's true.

I am sure you are SICK of hearing it, but I'm sorry, guys, it's still one of the biggest issues I see in manuscripts I'm given to edit. It's a freaking epidemic. I know, I know. You're telling a story, but 'telling' in this sentence doesn't need to be taken literally. Think of your writing as entertaining your audience, creating a movie reel in their heads, creating images and evoking emotions through your cleverly constructed sentences and precise wording. Not simply relaying what happened one word at a time. Oh no, you want more. Much more. You want to pick up your reader and plonk them in this story: hurt them in fight scenes, reduce them to tears in sad scenes, scare the heebie-jeebies out of them in frightening ones. Let them be the characters. Let them feel, hear, smell, touch. Clench their fists, grit their teeth, suppress tears, and eyeball the shadowed corners of the room.

I'll admit, it is very possible the writing world has gone a little 'show, don't tell' mental, but in this case, we're actually talking about a picnic that seriously needs this sandwich. (Stick with me...) Good books do more than tell stories, as good sandwiches do more than satisfy hunger. But it's OK sometimes to tell, it truly is. But sometimes means rarely, as little as you possibly can. Perhaps in those scenes that are fast and furious dabbling with elaborate phrasing isn't needed because you've just got to get that action across before it's too late. Fine. No one is going to tell you off. Absolutely not. But if you do this on every page, in every sentence and every scene, then your reader's likely to switch off, or literally do this...  

So, are you telling me, or are you showing me? T = Telling and S = Showing


T: Home was a big town called Tonbridge and the roads were red and the sky was purple.

S: Billy stood staring out at the vastness of Tonbridge. His birth place. Home. Red bricked roads twisted amongst metallic skyscrapers, the swirling purple clouds reflected in the tops.


T: Billy was excited because he'd arrived and was going to meet his parents for the first time.

S: Billy sucked in a long, calming breath. He was here. At last. He smiled, unable to fight his emotions any longer. Somewhere, amongst the skyscrapers, were his parents. Mum and Dad. And he was finally going to meet them.

With Filter Verbs

T: Billy could hear water, which appeared to be coming from around the corner. He decided to investigate.

S: Billy paused, listening. A gentle trickling of water. But where? He focused, homing in on the sound. To his right, just through the trees. But it couldn't be, could it? Real water? He jumped down from the mound and crept closer.


T: Billy was an angry guy who found it hard to forgive.

S: Billy gritted his teeth and snarled at all the smiling faces ahead of him. Stupid happy families. He didn't need parents, not like these fools. And besides, istwasn't him who'd walked out all those year ago.

With Adverbs

T: Billy quickly ran to his parents, and excitedly hugged them.

S: Billy sprinted across the park and, unable to hold back his emotions any longer, threw his arms around his parents and squeezed.

There are other ways I often see writers telling instead of showing – info-dumping and conveniently passing on info through dialogue, for example – but these five examples are the most common. And if you work on these techniques, practise, research, read, learn, then your writing will immediately take a more professional turn. Just try it before you refuse to follow the 'show, don't tell' crowd –because I hear and see your reluctance – and if you still think your writing was better before, then I wish you all the best.

Romantic Times Las Vegas: Pitch Wars Road Show

I'm Vegas bound baby! And I'll be part of the Pitch Wars Road Show. Pitch Wars host, Brenda Drake, has a great post that covers off on what exactly the road show is. 

But who is Pitch Wars Road Show for:

  • Anyone who is participating in Pitch-A-Palooza: This is part of the Romantic Times Conference where writers can pitch to editors and agents. Get in before your session and tweak your pitch. 
  • Anyone who is planning to submit to Pitch Wars: Pitch Wars is only just around the corner. Get in early and pick the brains of the mentors. 
  • Anyone who likes participating in Pitch Contests: Get your 35 word pitch polished. 
  • Anyone who likes participating in Twitter pitches: Get your 140 character pitch ready. 
  • Anyone who is currently querying: If you are currently querying agents/submitting to editors then you can bring along story-related part of your query (your query minus your bio, etc). 
  • Anyone who is planning to query soon: Maybe you're waiting on feedback from readers before you query? Or working out who you want to query? If a query is around the corner for your then this could be for you.
  • Anyone who is writing a story that they want to query at some point: I have heard some writers find it useful to have their query written before they write their story as it helps them with the writing process. 
Basically, if you're a writer, and you're in Vegas for Romantic Times, you should come and check out the Pitch Wars Road Show. And if you haven't booked in, what are you waiting for! It's going to be a fun week where you get to meet authors and industry professionals, score cool swag, buy books and participate in some great events. 

See you there!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

2016 at the Pictures

In keeping with the book to movie theme from a couple of days ago, I wanted to check in and see how many of the YA movies of 2016 everyone has seen so far or which ones are on their to-watch list.

Here are the ones on my list:

Based on the Rick Yancey novel, The 5th Wave came out in January already. Sadly, I have yet to see this film, but I loved the book and am really looking forward to seeing the live action version. Reviews so far have been mixed with IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes ratings not looking too good. I don't pay too much to those kinds of ratings though, preferring to make up my own mind.

I'm actually not a Harry Potter fan, but this film looks spectacular! I'll definitely be watching if for nothing else than the lush cinematography. Sadly, it only releases in November so we'll have to wait patiently for this one.

A December release, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children looks terrifying and chilling and OMG that's Eva Green! If I knew nothing else about this film, knowing Eva was in it would be enough for me to want to see it. I haven't read the book yet - although I probably will before I see the film - but I know the recent promo shots from the film are causing a bit of a furor among fans who are questioning the numerous and dramatic changes from the text that appear to have been made in the film. Here's to hoping the film doesn't disappoint readers.

I am the most excited about this book to film adaptation! Very few books have ever made me cry, but this one did. When I found out it was being made into a film I was thrilled and also made sure to take out stocks in Kleenex, because I am definitely going to need them come October 14. In fact, due to the likeliness of ugly crying, I might have to wait for this one to come out on DVD so I can watch and sob at home.

And last but not least, Allegiant! The third film in the Divergent franchise releases this Friday. Oddly, I haven't seen much hype about this film in the blogosphere. I only watched Divergent and while I liked it well enough, I didn't love it, so I've been saving Insurgent for a rainy day. Will you be seeing Allegiant at the theatre this weekend?

If there are any 2016 YA film adaptations I missed, please let me know in the comments!

Monday, March 14, 2016


Having an offer for your book to be made into a movie--every author's big dream, right?
I guess not. Plenty of authors hated the movie versions of their books.
Here are a few examples:

1) Cornelia Funke - INKHEART

When her GoodReads fans inquired if she liked the film, she responded:

"Books are flying carpets, movies mostly shrink them into napkins. The shrinking for this one was done with passion and many brilliant artists, but sadly it's still a napkin."

My thoughts:
I adored this movie. My apologies to the author, but I'd never heard of the book before the flick came up as a suggestion on Netflix. Since then, I've purchased both the movie and book. After reading Inkheart, I still love both. I feel sad the author doesn't.

2) Colleen McCullough - THORN BIRDS

In a PEOPLE interview, Colleen blasted the 1983 ABC miniseries starring Richard Chamberlain, Rachel Ward, and Barbara Stanwyck."I hated it. It was instant vomit. It was agony. It was awful."

My thoughts:
I love, love, love both. I own both. It floors me that she hated the miniseries so much. If she (as an author) didn't like this wonderful depiction of her story, then how is it possible for anyone to ever like any movie version of their tale?

3) Stephen King - THE SHINING

This movie scared me to pieces. I was shocked to learn that Stephen King called it a "a big, beautiful Cadillac with no engine inside it."

He didn't like Jack Nicholson's performance because he didn't want the character crazy from the start. He wanted the Overlook Hotel to change him. Stephen was disappointed in the director as well. “I was deeply disappointed in the end result. … Kubrick just couldn't grasp the sheer inhuman evil of The Overlook Hotel. So he looked, instead, for evil in the characters and made the film into a domestic tragedy with only vaguely supernatural overtones. That was the basic flaw: because he couldn't believe, he couldn't make the film believable to others.” 

My thoughts:
This movie is scary as hell (especially those two little girls). Stephen King is scary as hell. I thought the two were a perfect match for each other. I was wrong.

4) Bret Easton Ellis - AMERICAN PSYCHO

Ellis believes American Psycho never should have happened: “American Psycho was a book I didn’t think needed to be turned into a movie" (due to the unreliable narrator aspect of the novel which he didn't think translated well onto screen).

Who the hell wants to see this? Not me! EEEEEEEEKKKK!

I absolutely agree, for selfish reasons. The mere ten minutes of this movie that I saw years ago has haunted me ever since.
I did not need to see Christian Bale running around naked with a chain saw. It really put a damper on my I-adore-you-and-want-to-believe-that-you-are-always-and-truly-Laurie-from-Little-Women thing I had going on for that actor.  

Aaaaahhh... this is much better. 
Dear Christian Bale/Laurie from Little Women,
Quit scaring me. I don't like it.
Thank you,

About the Author - Ann M. Noser

Growing up an only child, I learned to entertain myself. During summer vacations, my greatest form of exercise consisted of turning the pages of a book. Now I'm all grown up and full of stories half-written in my head. I have to write them down so I can find out what happens next.

Contact info/how to find me:

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Traversing the Trilogy - Where it all began

Over the next few months, I'm going to talk about what led up to my decision to self-publish The Domino Project trilogy. With the whole thing out there now, I'm going to reflect back on its road, and the things I learned.

The road to my decision

Way back in June 2011 I realized pantsing books wasn't working for me. I'm a very organized person, and really, should have known all along that I needed to be a plotter. After some research and adapting questions I found online, I ended up plotting out The Domino Project. Very loosely. After a couple of days, I had a long and detailed plot outline for Chameleon. Then I proceeded to draft out books two and three.

 That was my first mistake, but I'll come back to that a bit later.

At the end of 2011, with a complete trilogy under my belt, I began editing Chameleon (during NaNo I believe). By February 2012 I was mostly done with edits, and a few friends convinced me to enter Operation Awesome, and the very first PitchMadness.

I did - and had a ninja agent request from Operation Awesome, and two agents who wanted my full in PitchMadness... which evolved into an offer from one of them. Chameleon hooked my first agent for me.

Needless to say, I love this book. But it was only ever subbed out to five editors, and when my first agent left the business, my second agent wouldn't read it. I just don't think it was high on her priority list - after all, she didn't sign me with it. A lot of things happened that led me to the decision to put Chameleon out there myself.

In total I went through: 

  • Two agents 
  • Four submitted books 
  • Approximately 55 failed editor submissions 
  • With about 20 no responses 
  • But two of the responses got REALLY close 
  • One R&R that due to circumstances never got to me 
  • And about 20 of those 35 responses said my genre was bad market timing. 

Bad market timing has been my nemesis for years now. I do not write to market, and I don't know how to. I write the stories I would like to read, and hope they coincide, but my luck just isn't there and that's okay. I get it.

Chameleon is a labor of love. It changed a lot from its inception to the final draft. Of which there were about twelve. Which - and now I'll come back to it - means that books two and three sort of had to be mostly rewritten, and entirely reworked. Probably better to have done a round or two of edits before you draft that second book... Avoids a lot of labor later on.

Fun Fact: The Domino Project is not my baby. I adore it and the characters like a mom, but it's not my baby. That's a different book, one I hope to share with people in a year or so.

To summarize:
I wrote the books, I put in the effort. I've edited, been in the query trenches, been in submission hell and wracked up rejections.

I didn't want to wait another 5-10 years and hope that Chameleon's genre came back into the light, and then hope that an agent and an editor loved it. So, I bit the bullet, went over the manuscript with a fine tooth comb again, had all the books content and copy edited, professional covers and layouting done, and decided to put it out there myself.

And I'm damn proud of the books.

I'll go over the following things in the coming months:

  • Drafting & Editing
  • The Announcement and your todo list
  • Choosing editors (content and copy)
  • Finding a Cover artist and interior formatter
  • The pros and cons of Kindle Unlimited
  • The indie-stigma that permeates everything you do
  • And different angles to take on marketing
  • Perks and happy things!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

I love when my blog day falls on a holiday! So for Dr. Seuss's birthday, I've made green eggs and ham:

And I've written a poem to express my feelings about this great author and his works:

Please forgive me Dr. Seuss lovers!
I cannot love what's between the covers.
I will not read them loud or proud,
I will not read them to a crowd.
I do not like stories in verse,
Rhyming makes me want to curse.

A love for books wanted seed,
And Dr. Seuss my kids all read.
So as I've aged through the years,
Happiness has filled my ears.
If cats in hats and eggs of green
Lead to kids who read as teens,
Then I will listen with a smile,
(Filled with screams all the while!)

But I honestly do admire
An author who has lit a fire
In millions of readers everywhere
And writers with their stories to share.
So for this reason I celebrate.
An author, both beloved and great.