As I have only a few chapters of re-editing to complete on my steam punk novel before it goes to my publisher, I thought I would let you vote on which book I delve into next. I have two manuscripts that I can choose from. So let’s see which is the most popular.
1. Willow Tree Tears. Western romance. Barrel racing champion, Madison Beauchamp has two suitors, one who knows her lifestyle and works on her father’s ranch with her but who has a hidden agenda, and the other, who lives in another country, a world away from her norm. Who should Madison choose? The one who knows her life all too well or the exotic wealthy Italian?
2. The Giving Thief. Suspense. He ran away from a horrific act, now living in the forest alone. How long can he stay hidden? Can he survive alone? A true hermit or a murderer? Which one appeals the most and let me know why.
TBR Pile Book News
I was happy to receive new books this month. One for my birthday:
If It Bleeds by Stephen King
And the first novel by an old school chum’s daughter
One Step Closer by Sophie Pollard
Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs – excited for the third instalment of this excellent series.
Now the problem is which do I read first? Which one would you pick?
And remember review every books you read on Goodreads or Amazon or Smashwords or anyway you can. Reviews are an authors lifeblood.
I enjoy the puzzle-like challenge that comes with writing a mystery. My stories are actually more character-driven than plot-driven, though, so as much as I enjoy the challenge of writing a mystery, I also have fun exploring character growth on the page.
Is it a genre you enjoy reading as well?
Actually, I don’t read mysteries as much as I do other genres, such as westerns, supernatural suspense, and romance. That’s probably why my books are actually more mixed genre than straight mysteries. I like to include humor, supernatural elements, romance, suspense, and adventure on the page along with the mystery plot.
What sparked your first book idea?
I was unhappy with the endings in several books I’d recently read and decided I wanted to try my hand at writing different endings that satisfied me more. This idea grew into me creating the story from start to end, which then blossomed into writing full-length novels. Novels soon changed into long-running series, and now I have five different series I juggle.
Do you prefer writing series or stand-a-lone novels?
I like writing series because I enjoy developing characters. It’s more fulfilling to develop these characters over a long-running series than trying to fit it all into one story. My character arcs span the whole series, allowing them to grow and change with every book.
Does your background and location help you capture a setting for your characters/settings? Or is it just imagination?
I believe my background and the places I’ve lived/visited play a role in capturing a setting, but my imagination takes ideas to the next level. I have a series set here in Arizona where I live (Jackrabbit Junction Mystery series), and I have spent many summers and holidays in the Deadwood, South Dakota area because my mom moved there when I was in seventh grade. While my Dig Site series takes place in the Yucatan (an area of Mexico which I have not visited yet), that series plays on my dream of being an archaeologist, allowing me to explore that field without actually living down there under the trees.
What benefit do you feel comes with the illustrations? Why did you choose that format?
My brother is my illustrator, so I enjoy including his art in my stories. I think illustrations help bring the story to life even more for readers. In addition, these illustrations add to my Ann Charles author brand and help set my stories apart from others. Not many adult fiction novels have illustrations in them these days.
Is Violet “Spooky” Parker based on someone real or a combination of characters?
Violet is a mixture of my imagination and my sense of humor. She isn’t based on anyone I know. Her character became clear to me after some time spent imagining her life and struggles as I worked on the setup for the first Deadwood novel, Nearly Departed in Deadwood.
Did you plan your mystery/ humor/ romance subplot plot lines, or did it evolve as your crafted the stories?
I knew from the start of the Deadwood and Jackrabbit Junction Mystery series that I was going to write mixed genre stories with mystery as the main plot. I’ve always enjoyed funny romance stories and had worked for years on strengthening that part of my storytelling, studying humor and romance in books and practicing my ability to mix them together on the page. My favorite movies are mixed genre with these elements, so it’s not a surprise that these are the stories that come out on the page for me.
Was it a conscious decision to become an author?
Not really. I’ve always enjoyed reading books, but writing was not on my radar until my senior year in high school. Even then, though, I really didn’t plan on becoming an author and spent years in college studying Spanish and daydreaming of other careers. In the end, I took so many English classes in college that I figured I might as well minor in creative writing and see where this urge to tell stories led me.
Do you feel self-publishing has benefited you more than other options?
Self-publishing has allowed me to explore story lines without an outside influence, as in a marketing department that might have forced me to write what was hot in the “market” at the time. Also, I have learned so much about marketing and promotion because I’ve been in charge of building my career. I did not set out to be an entrepreneur, but I enjoy most of the aspects of running my own business and plan to continue on this path for as long as I can.
Which character do you enjoy writing the most & why?
That’s a tough question—I don’t think I have a single favorite. I enjoy switching between my different series and exploring different characters and their adventures. Violet Parker is fun because I get to dabble in the supernatural with her and she makes me laugh often. The Morgan sisters from my Jackrabbit Junction series are a blast and are always getting into mix-ups with the law. They allow me to explore sisterhood and have fun in the Arizona desert. In my Dig Site series, I enjoy playing archaeologist, and in the Deadwood Undertaker series that I write with my husband, Sam Lucky, I get to write westerns, which is something I have wanted to do for years but was apprehensive about all of the research it would take to make sure the historical elements were accurate. In the end, I like switching between each series and exploring life with different characters.
Have any of your manuscripts gone in a vastly different direction to what you thought they would?
I often vary from my original plot line ideas that I come up with before starting. These initial plot lines I put together just let me know that I have a story possibility and give me the confidence to go forth and dive into a story. I’m not very good at detailed planning when it comes to books and tend to give my brain the room to come up with new ideas to explore along the way.
How can readers find you? What social media site links can you share?
Is there anything you would like to share with your readers?
My books are meant to give you a fun escape. I try to teach a little history along the way, but mainly I want to provide fictional places that will make you smile or laugh as well as wince now and then. Also, all but my AC Silly Circus series having crossover characters, which my readers tend to enjoy. It’s always fun to come across a Deadwood series character in my Jackrabbit Junction books, and vice versa. I have a list of my books in series reading order as well as an overall list of all of my books in timeline order on my website (under the Books section) so that you can choose in what order you’d like to read them.
Ann Charles Bio:
USA Today Bestselling author, Ann Charles, writes spicy mysteries full of comedy, adventure, suspense, romance, and paranormal mayhem. Ann has a B.A. in English with an emphasis on creative writing from the University of Washington and is a member of Sisters in Crime and Western Writers of America. When she’s not dabbling in fiction, she’s arm wrestling with her two kids, attempting to seduce her husband, and arguing with her sassy cats.
Is there anything that makes you discard a book? Bad writing, grammar mistakes, poor characterizations, bad punctuation, language use (whether swearing or discrimination), or something else?
I have read several novels that needed quite a lot of editing but persevered as the stories were interesting. I had to switch off my editor hat though. For example, one novel had two characters that interacted but three quarters of the way through the book one main character’s name changed! I think the author/editor changed the name, for whatever reason but didn’t get all the way through the book. (Now that’s just lazy). It was very confusing as I had to go back and determine that is what happened. Unfortunately, this kind of lack of editing reflects badly on the author and readers may not read anything else they write.
Would that make you discard the book?
Another novel had lots of punctuation and grammatical mistakes and the old fashioned ‘double space’ between sentences, which went out of fashion with the typewriter age! Although, it was frustrating to me, I did persevere with the book as the story and its characters were captivating.
A good editor is worth their weight in gold. They not only fix your grammar and find and correct major and minor errors , but also improve your book’s content and structure in a way that preserves your style. There are two main processes a manuscript has to go through prior to publication. Both require a systematic approach.
Use these as a guideline to edit and proofread your manuscript before sending it to an editor. Expect a red-lined manuscript back and learn from the experience.
This process concentrates on:
Paragraph structure and clear transitions between paragraphs.There is a flow of the story – whether character development or plot.
Highlighting any repetition of words, sentence structure, and the correct use of any technical, historical or factual elements.
Helps to condense and improve the efficiency of your writing.
Questions your flow of the narrative.
A more focused approach to find common errors and the ones missed during editing. Here are a couple of tips to help you:
Read the manuscript out loud or divide it into sections. TIP Read from last chapter to first.
Rewrite structure if required, such as plot, story line, consistency and continuity. TIP Create a general outline 1 – 3 pages maximum to track the story line.
Scene outline. Read each scene to determine if they require editing or deletion TIP Do they push the story forward? If not delete them. TIP Create a check list for each step of proofreading. Then concentrate on that particular one at a time.
Print out your manuscript – it may seem odd to do this in the computer age but we perceive information differently between screen and paper. TIP Read it out loud. On hearing the flow of the language you will understand your strong and weak points.
TIP from the King!
We can be too wordy in our writing, Stephen King learned: “2nd Draft = 1st draft – 10%”. An average manuscript requires at least three rounds of editing and at each round try to shorten your draft for 10% of its original length.
Linear Edit. This is the point you deal with the minor issues such as rewriting sentences, exchanging with words, and fix grammar, punctuation, proofread for misspellings and typos.
Do you have a particular system or tip you use while editing & proofreading?
I have read about one author who prints the manuscript on different coloured paper for each step but this seems a bit excessive!
Two weeks ago saw me return to the work office, it was rather anxiety giving but once I had moved my desk to increase distance, cleaned it with disinfectant and posted signs all over the place – I calmed down a little. It is symptomatic of how many people must feel returning to their workplace. We have been in a safe bubble remotely working from home. Then to be plunged back into an environment, which prior to COVID19 was normal and we didn’t give it a second thought about. Now there are people from other households with differing levels of ‘safety’ protocols. I am taking extra care and will continue to do so. The second wave will come…unfortunately.
It is an adjustment for everyone and we will need time to settle into routine again. In the meantime, I am continuing to read some great novels and edit other author’s work. For some reason my own steampunk manuscript has lacked attention. I need to get back to it. There is the new distraction, of course – Sammie the Schnoodle – and a sharp increase in my step count. Currently I am walking between 10K – 12K a day. So health benefits – yay!
Here she is after her first grooming appointment – a different dog entirely.
Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Read
Really enjoyed the parallel lives of Hannah. It is similar to Sliding Doors but not if you get my drift. Great alternatives lives and how one choice can change everything.
Loved the characters, particularly Henry!
If you could see the results of your choices – would you want to know?