Novel #7 Finished!

Yesterday, I wrote “The End” on novel #7, a horror mystery set here in my hometown in western New York State.

I began from a #StoryStarter that I originally tweeted on January 21.

I started outlining February 15, did a little research, began writing March 21 and ended April 18 (29 days actual writing).

In a little less than two months, I spent 7% of my time researching, 53% outlining, and 39% writing.

The first draft came out at 40,553 words, my shortest book yet—101% of my preliminary 40K-word goal.

I averaged 1398.4 words per day, although that number is skewed by the higher amounts I wrote on Saturdays and Sundays. I averaged 526.66 words per scene. (I like short scenes and chapters. Do you?)

Today I took a much-needed day off from writing to (of course) write this and catch up on some reading.

Tomorrow I’ll think about what’s next!

The End

Using WordKeeper to Track Fiction Writing Progress

In keeping with my 2021 writing goals and my ramped up writing process, I’ve been using an iPhone app—WordKeeper—to measure my daily fiction writing progress.

You can enter different projects, such as short stories or novels. I’m in the early stages of working on novel number seven: plotting and outlining. My project page is below. WordKeeper displays my daily target word count based on the completion date I set. It shows daily progress as well as total progress toward my projected word count. It also provides stats about time, sessions, words, writing phases, and locations (which I don’t use). (Scroll down past the image for the rest of this post.)

WordKeeper Project

When I sit down at my laptop to write, the first thing I do is open WordKeeper and start the timer. Then I write for an hour or two, stopping the timer when I’m done. Last evening, I got home late from dinner and only got 50 minutes in.

WordKeeper Timer

WordKeeper then displays the Session page, showing my stats for that session: start and end times, any pauses I made, and the duration of the session. If I were writing, I would enter a word count. But right now, I’m still outlining.

WordKeeper Session

WordKeeper is helping me track my fiction writing progress so that I can be more productive.

When I get to the writing phase, hopefully in a week or two, I will start racking up the word count. WordKeeper will keep me on track to meet my deadline.

I like WordKeeper. It’s easy to use and has more features than I have time to explore. It’s $2.99 a month—the cost of a cup of coffee.

If you’re looking to track your fiction writing progress and productivity, you can learn more at https://wordkeeper.app/.

Ramping Up My Writing Process

Productivity ChainA few weeks ago, I posted my 2021 writing goals. Toward that end, I’m ramping up my writing process. Here’s the well-greased chain I’m shooting for to increase my fiction-writing productivity:

Ideation > Brainstorming > Plotting > Outlining > Drafting > Editing > Marketing

Ideation: This is generating a story idea. I do this purposely several times a week on Twitter. For example:

You open the front door to get the mail. In the mailbox is a severed hand. Who put it there and why. How do you find out?

Brainstorming: Great idea. (I’ll write it someday.) But it needs a little—okay, a lot—of work. Here’s where I go through a process of answering questions about my character and his or her goals. I do a lot of work before I tackle structure. After all, I need events and motivation to plot.

Plotting: I develop character arcs for all my major characters and conform the brainstormed material into classic story structure. More at How to Write Stories that Sell.

Outlining: Here, I sort the information into a sequential scene-by-scene list from which I’ll write. I like my ducks in a row so that when I plant my butt in the chair, I can write without interruption.

Drafting: Using my outline, I write from beginning to end, incorporating all the information from my brainstorming, plotting, and outlining. I use Scrivener to build my manuscripts.

Editing: After one or more days, I’ll print the draft and edit it, making sure all the necessary information is in place and that I’m using the best language to tell a story. I go through at least five drafts before I consider the story ready for the reading public.

Marketing: I now have everything beta read. (If you’re a published writer and are willing to beta-read my fiction, contact me.) After final changes, I submit it to markets. If I don’t place a work after a while, I publish it myself.

This is my process, and I hope to perfect it this year so that I’m regularly churning out story after story, novel after novel. Expect to see more published this year. If learning about my process has been helpful to you, please leave a comment. I’d like to know your process, too.

New Logo for Lee Allen Howard

In preparation for my website relaunch, I had a logo designed.

It’s based on how I sign my books for readers. (A decade ago I chose to market myself as “Lee Allen Howard” because I had discovered other “Lee Howards” were out there writing books too. But that long name took too much time, so I began to scratch my initials instead, with the L crossing the A and the H.)

Here’s the logo. What do you think?

Lee Allen Howard Logo

My 2021 Writing Goals

Writing CalendarI hope it’s not too late to set some goals for the new year. It took me the month of January to get clear on some of them, but here’s what I’m shooting for in 2021.

  • I will master the art of storytelling. I will continue to study and apply what I learn to my writing process until I’m able to plan, plot, and write captivating stories with ease.
  • I will generate ideas and turn them into stories, writing prolifically. I will write story after story, mining my idea folder and #StoryStarter ideas I’ve posted on Twitter.
  • I will write faster. Having planned and plotted stories beforehand, I will be able to write them at least 2500 words per hour.
  • I will write to market each chance I get. Having mastered the art of storytelling and writing much and more quickly, I will write stories for open calls to increase my chances of getting published (instead of writing only my ideas and trying to place them offhand in markets).
  • I will write flash fiction. I will turn poems I’ve written into flash pieces or short stories.
  • I will develop and write a self-editing text, reading and compiling source notes, outlining, and writing chapters until I’m finished. I will submit a proposal to a publishing company.
  • I will revamp my backlist so that I win steady sales. This will include creating new covers for my one-off short stories and shorter collections.
  • I will learn how to market books on Amazon, including placing ads.
  • I will read a book on writing craft monthly. I will continue my writing studies, reading at least one craft text each month.
  • I will redesign my website and launch it. Leeallenhoward.com needs a facelift! Stay tuned.

I plan to make progress on all these goals in 2021. Have you set goals for the new year? What would you like to accomplish? Perhaps more reading? 🙂

Dark Fiction by Lee Allen Howard

Follow Lee’s Links_
Subscribe


_

DEATH PERCEPTION by Lee Allen HowardNovel The Bedwetter CoverNovel the-adamson-familyNovel ______
The Sixth SeedNovel Perpetual NightmaresCollection MAMA SAIDShort Story ______
DESPERATE SPIRITS by Lee Allen HowardTwo-story Collection NIGHT MONSTERS by Lee Allen HowardFour-story Collection Severed RelationsTwo-story Collection   ______
THOU SHALT NOT... edited by Lee Allen HowardAnthology Tales Of Blood and Squalor plus text UPDATEDAnthology STRAY by Lee Allen HowardShort Story ______
The Night CreaturesShort Story The ElixirShort Story Like Lee Allen Howard, author
on Facebook
   

Follow @LeeAllenHoward
on Twitter

______

Read the rest of this entry »

Simple and Easy Way to Write a Book Review

writing a book reviewLike any other writer, I live or die by reviews of my books. However, while many people say they love my books or admire my writing, very few write book reviews—even if I ask them.

Perhaps it’s because readers aren’t sure how to write a review. Let’s solve that problem.

Here’s a simple and easy way to write a one-paragraph fiction book review.

1. Take notes as you read

The best way to remember what you liked (or didn’t like) about a book is to jot down your observations as you read, as well as any great quotes you’d like to mention.

I keep an index card handy as I’m reading a book. You can too. Make notes about:

  • Characters—Who were the main characters? Were they credible? Properly motivated? Did you sympathize with them? Who was your favorite character, and why?
  • Dialogue—Was it realistic? Revealing? Humorous? Engaging?
  • Genre—Did this book fit a particular genre, such as horror? Or was it a mash-up of several genres? Do you think the author did a good job of conforming to or breaking out of genre categories?
  • Plot—What was the story about? Did the series of events make sense? Any great twists?
  • Writing style—Does the writer write like another author you like?

2. Summarize your opinions

Jot some notes about your views (yes, it’s okay to express your opinions about the book):

  • Did you like the book?
  • What was your favorite part?
  • What did you like least about the book?
  • If you wish something were different in the book, what is it?

3. Make your recommendation

Would you recommend this book to other readers? If so, what type of readers would like the book? People who dig H.P. Lovecraft? Lovers of ghost stories?

Remember that a writer has spent a lot of time and effort in producing his or her labor of love. Although you may criticize, don’t forget to be constructive and kind. If you mention the author’s name, use his or her last name.

Writing the Review

A book review is not a long summary of the book, rather your brief commentary on it. Here’s the how-to of writing your paragraph review.

  1. Start with an interesting sentence that grabs the reader’s attention. You could make it a question: “Have you ever wondered…,” “Ever wish you could….”
  2. Introduce the subject of the book. What’s the genre? (horror, crime, sci-fi, fantasy, etc.) “Book Title is a horror novel about…” Then write a one- or two-sentence summary. Be careful not to give away the ending!
  3. Do you think the book measures up to the goals the author set out to achieve? Be honest yet tactful. Include some examples supporting your opinion.
  4. Who will enjoy this book? “If you like early Stephen King, you’ll love this book.”

Book review paragraph template

If you’re having trouble getting started, use this paragraph as a template:

Have you ever wondered _______________ (hook). Book Title is a ____________ (genre) novel about ______________ (subject matter). In it, _____________ (main character) tries to _____________ (main story goal) but encounters trouble when _______________ (some complications or opposition). The characters were realistic, and I especially related to ___________ (character name). My favorite part of the book was ________________. [Optional: But the author could have done a better job at _________________ (something that needs improvement). For example…] The dialogue was excellent and moved the story forward. It was fast-paced (or something else you liked). I really liked this book because ______________ (your opinion about it). If you like reading early Stephen King (a comparison), this one’s for you.

Example review

Here’s an example book review of Samantha Lienhard’s novella THE BOOK AT DERNIER.

The Book at Dernier is about a young man’s obsessive quest to learn about the dark and mysterious Marcus Phineas and his arcane rituals that led to past deaths in the superstitious town of Dernier.

Protagonist Paul finds a book by the late Phineas full of symbols and secret writing. Determined to crack the code, Paul succumbs to the thrall of bloody rituals. I feared for him and dreaded the results his search would lead to. As he descends into madness and the death toll mounts, can Paul solve the mystery? Will he escape a devastating fate?

Lienhard’s skillful writing drew me in and led me quickly to the chilling conclusion. Recommended for appreciators of Lovecraftian fiction.

Conclusion

That’s all there is to it.

Proof your review and post it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or wherever you bought the book, Goodreads, Facebook, and on your blog.

Be generous with the stars: starred reviews encourage other readers to buy and read.

And why not let the author know you’ve written a review? It will probably make their day. I know it would make mine.