Fishing for Inspiration: Advice from Morgan Hawke

Morgan Hawke is a Mojocastle Press published author. She shares her advice to writers struggling to find inspiration. She says that your mind and imagination are like a pond. Your ideas and your experiences are like fish in that pond. If you’re lacking information, you just have to go fishing!

If you’ve got a case of Writer’s Block, Morgan recommends that you ask yourself a few questions. Ask yourself things like:

• What do you know?
• Who do you know?
• What have you done?
• What can you add to your imagination?

Use the answers to these questions to fuel your creativity. Maybe you know about retail jobs. Perhaps you know a real criminal. Maybe you have been in a sword fight. Use that knowledge and those experiences to create a narrative.

Morgan recommends that you give yourself little observation exercises. She says,

“Describe exactly how it feels when your hand is sliding down a banister…Can you describe the sound of your fingers on your keyboard? What does water taste like? Can you describe what eating a hamburger is like?”

She also says to observe your friends, and describe their facial expressions and moods. Beyond that, Morgan recommends that you write about things you have experienced first-hand and that you choose your best ideas. On choosing the best idea, Morgan says,

“Every good fisherman knows to throw back the ones that are too small, so they can grow up and be worth catching later. The same goes for Ideas – throw back the small ideas so they can grow up to become Big Ideas. Never ever Rush an idea! If it’s too small to use – toss it back. If you try to make a meal (a project) out of a half-grown idea, you will only end up with a half-serving of what could have been something much bigger, juicier, and tastier. “

For Morgan’s full article visit, http://ookamikasumi.deviantart.com/gallery/24356519. You can also check out more from Morgan on her personal website http://www.darkerotica.net/welcome.html

Do’s and Don’ts of Submitting a Manuscript to an Agent

You finally did it! You finished your masterpiece, and you’re ready to publish. Though not necessary to get your book published in today’s digital marketplace, many authors still find it useful to find an agent to conduct the legwork. In order to land an agent, you must submit your manuscript. So, how you do that? Here are some do’s and don’ts of submitting your manuscript to agents.

DO

DO use an easy-to-read, serif font.
DO find an agent that fits your genre and is looking for books like yours.
DO research. Know the agent you are submitting to, and know their preferences.
DO follow any and all guidelines for submission. If they just ask for the first chapter, just send the first chapter.
DO include a brief cover letter and a full, one-page synopsis
DO complete a thorough edit of your manuscript, and make sure the copy you send is clean.
DO add a header and footer to your manuscript that includes your name and page number.
DO make sure that your manuscript has a good sense of tone and punctuation.
DO convey your theme and tone in your cover letter and synopsis. Take that opportunity to impress.
DO take any feedback agent’s give you and apply it to your novel.

DON’T

DON’T choose a fancy font. That drives agents crazy.
DON’T submit your manuscript to every agent possible. Pick ones who would find your book interesting.
DON’T use colored paper.
DON’T use a lot of unnecessary formatting, like italics, bolds, all caps, etc.
DON’T submit a hand-written copy of your manuscript.
DON’T use single spacing (double-spaced, 1 inch margins, no space between paragraphs, and indented paragraphs is standard)
DON’T send your only copy of the manuscript.
DON’T include comments in your cover letter that make you sound unprofessional (“I’m the best writer you’ve ever seen.” or “I can correct any grammatical errors in the manuscript later,” etc.)
DON’T ask for the status of your submission. If an agent is interested, they will contact you.
DON’T submit straight to publishing companies, unless they directly ask for that.

These are some of the big Do’s and Don’ts. Did we leave some out? Tell us in the comment section!

Writing Software: Which Works Best?

There are tons of great programs out there for writers. It begs the question: Which works the best? As with most things, writing software is subjective. What may work for someone else may not work for you. Especially with creative writing, everyone has their own creative process, and needs their writing software to align with that. So, rather than telling you what’s best, we’ll just let you know about some of your best options!

Microsoft Word- When in doubt, go with what you know! Microsoft word is easy, because it’s familiar. You don’t have to learn anything new- just type away! There are a few features in word that are helpful when writing creatively. The review pane can be helpful for taking notes and making edits.

Page Four- Page Four allows you to organize, take notes, password protect documents, and is fully compatible with Microsoft Word. The makers of Page Four also created a program called Smart Edit, which helps you edit your completed manuscript.

Write Way – Write Way is a highly recommended writing software. It is designed by writers for writers. There are tools to help you from storyboarding all the way to completion. You can organize, outline, insert pictures, hear your book read back to you, store research, storyboard, and more.

yWriter- yWriter is a free software developed by a published author. It organizes your work by scenes. It allows you to move scenes around, tracks your progress, story board, drag and drop, and more. It’s great for keeping all of your late night ideas organized!

Q10- Q 10 is a light, portable, free software that’s great for people who don’t want a bulky program. You can maximize your work to full-screen to minimize distractions. You can take notes, format, and set timers. As a bonus, you can set your keyboard to make typewriter sound effects for an authentic feel.

Scrivener- Scrivener is probably the most comprehensive writing software available. You can take notes on the cork board, story board on the outliner, store research, view several screen layouts, set and view statistics and targets, and it even has a name generator. It has several other features. It’s super robust.

(For those of you that are Mac users, check out: Ulysses, Copy Write, Story Mill, Omni Outliner.)

There are several options for writing software. Don’t settle for one that doesn’t work for you! What writing software is your favorite? Tell us in the comments!

Erotica…Can’t Define It, but I Know It When I See It

Erotica is one of the most difficult genres to define. Those who are unfamiliar with the genre might say that it’s porn on paper, but that’s completely inaccurate. Others might call it explicit romance, but that isn’t quite right either! So what is erotica? The literary world struggles to define erotica which results in the genre being wildly misunderstood. Writers and publishers of erotica even disagree, sometimes.

The erotica genre can expand into several other literary genres: science fiction, romance, historical, thriller, horror, and more. To be defined as erotica, the novel must include sexual acts explained in explicit detail. Other than that qualification, the erotica genre is wide open.

The erotic romance genre is what most people think about when they think about erotica. Erotic romance deals with people falling in love. It’s a romance story complete with a happy ending. Throughout their love story they naturally have sex, which is explicitly explained on paper. However, not all erotica is erotic romance.

Erotica literature deals with the sexual exploration of the protagonist. There doesn’t have to be a romantic plotline, and there doesn’t have to be a happy ending. There are different levels of erotica, too. You can have subtly erotic undertones, or extremely explicit explanations (Say that five times, fast!).

Just like with all literary genres, erotica is really subjective. Just because you like one erotica novel, doesn’t mean you like them all. Just because you didn’t care for one erotica book doesn’t mean you won’t like the next. Erotica is one of the most varied genres out there! There’s a little something for everyone.

So what is erotica? Well, we can’t really define it, but you’ll know it when you see it!

Finding Motivation When You Just Don’t Have Any

Let’s be real. No matter how much you enjoy writing, there are going to be times when your motivation is non-existent. Whether you’ve got a case of writer’s block or flat out don’t feel like writing, you’re going to come to a point where you’re down and out and needing a little motivation. What do you do when you reach this point?

1. Do Something That Inspires You. Read a book, watch a movie, people watch, go to a writer’s group, play music, or do any other activity that sparks creativity.

2. Force Yourself to Write. Write about nothing or anything. Find writing prompts online, and just go with it. Sometimes all it takes is getting the gears going.

3. Move Around and Get Away. Sometimes you just can’t. Step away from your computer (or typewriter or notebook) and take a breather. Sometimes getting away is just what you need to wake up your mind and inspire motivation.

4. Take Care of Yourself. Sleep, stay hydrated, be active, and eat nutritiously. This keeps your brain and body working at 100%. You may just be depleted of energy and nutrients!

5. Get Excited. Remember why you’re writing in the first place! Talk to people who inspire you and talk about things that get you excited about writing. Maybe make a list of reasons why you want to write this novel, short story, poem, blog post, etc.

Losing motivation is totally normal. It happens to the best of us. As Zig Ziglar once said, “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing-that’s why we recommend it daily.” Staying motivated takes proactivity on your part! Actively try to stay motivated to write! What do you do when you’re lacking motivation? Tell us in the comment section!

Conventions: Business Savvy or an excuse to party- or both?

They have conventions for everything now- From writing and business conventions, to anime and comic con. How you act at one convention may not be how you should act at another. A frequent question from convention goers is: Should I go to a convention for business or to have a good time?

Our response: Why not both? Conventions can cost a lot of money. They’re a chance to meet and talk with people who have similar interests. There’s usually alcohol and oodles of fun things to do and see. There’s absolutely no reason not to have a great time!

On the other hand, as a writer, you should always be networking. Any chance you get to talk about what you do, you should do it. Conventions are a great place to meet people who could help you further your career. You should learn as much as you can about your industry from people who are experts. Take advantage of the wealth of knowledge available at conventions.

The key to doing both is knowing when to do which. If you’re intoxicated, don’t try to network or promote yourself. If you have a prime opportunity to meet with an industry expert, be as professional as possible. Use your best judgment and you can have a good time while simultaneously networking!

Here are a few tips for making the most of a convention:

1. Choose the Best Sessions for You
2. Take Lots of Notes
3. Interact with Speakers
4. Take Advantage of Social Events
5. Start Conversations with Everyone You Can
6. Try to Be On Your Phone As Little As Possible
7. Print Up Business Cards to Hand Out
8. Keep In Contact with People from The Convention

Are you attending any conventions soon? Are you going for business or party or both? Tell us in the comment section!

Editor Pet Peeves

You finally finished your novel. It took a lot of hours, a lot of planning, and a lot of banging your head against the wall. But, at last, you finished, and you’re convinced it’s genius. Before your novel can be published you have one final step. That step is editing.

No one wants to hear that they need to cut entire paragraphs, or change their beloved characters. However, that’s what the editor is there for. They are there to make your manuscript the best that it can possibly be. They’re good at what they do, and they are in that position for a reason.

While it’s likely that having your book edited is going to be painful, no matter what, there are a few ways you can lighten the blow. Avoiding basic errors and editor’s biggest pet peeves will make the editing process much easier on you and much easier on the editor. Here are some of the biggest editor pet peeves.

Self-Editing- Be sure to edit your own work. Sometimes we as writers get so caught up that we fall victim to silly mistakes. Editing your work can save the editor tons of headaches.

Grammar Rules- There’s nothing genius about not knowing basic grammar. Know how to use commas. Know the correct form of homonyms. Know tense and point of view. If you’re writing in first person, past-tense- keep it in first person, past tense.

Strange Formatting- Don’t indent paragraphs. Don’t put double spaces between paragraphs. Don’t write like you do on Facebook, “OMG!!! LOL. That is 2 funny!” Just don’t. Always ask for the publisher’s style guide. See what they’re looking for, and make sure that your manuscript is formatted that way.

Being Unaware of Styling – There’s a lot of subjective points when it comes to style. There are some universal things to watch for, though.

• Keep your writing fluid. If your sentences are heavy and hard to get through, you need to rewrite.

• Keep your sentences polished. If it’s unnecessary- cut it out. Get to the meat of your sentences. (The same goes for storylines).

• Write in a way that is easy to understand. If your language is unnatural, no one is going to want to read your book.

• Don’t be repetitive. If you find yourself using the same word over and over again, it’s time to pull out the thesaurus. The same goes for sentence structure. If you naturally fall into a certain sentence structure, it starts to become boring.

• Clichés are a “no no!” Avoid clichés both in phrasing and plot lines.

Predictable Plot Lines and Characters – Avoid creating carbon-copy characters. While you can play with stereotypes, you should never rely on them for your character development. When outlining your story, don’t rely on predictable plot devices. Make your story as unique as possible!

Telling Not Showing – Don’t just tell me that Julie is beautiful. Explain to me how she looks. Don’t tell me the streets are chaotic. Show me what’s going on. Don’t tell me Adam is nervous, show me that his hands are shaking and his hair is disheveled.

Unnatural Dialogue – People don’t speak in monologues. They use contractions and verbal garbage. Read your dialogue aloud to make sure it sounds like real conversation.

Underdeveloped Plot – Things don’t just happen without preemption or reason. Gaping plot holes are never good, and they cannot be explained away. Don’t get rushed towards the end of your novel. Everything should flow and add to the story.

Having your cherished novel edited is never easy. You can avoid a lot of frustration by avoiding the biggest editor pet peeves. You’ll be better off in the long run, and your story will be better for it, too.

Best-Selling Author Signs With Mojocastle Press

Mojocastle Press, LLC, a publisher of high quality romance, erotic romance and erotica books (i.e. smut books) is pleased to announce the signing of best-selling author Morgan Hawke to a two-book contract. Ryan Kelsey, President & CEO of Mojocastle Press, stated “This is a real coup for us, Morgan Hawke could have had her choice of publishers both large and small; that she chose to publish her books with Mojocastle Press speaks volumes both about Ms. Hawke’s commitment to small press and Mojocastle’s relevance in the publishing industry.” Kelsey goes on to state “Though it may have had something to do with us driving to Morgan Hawke’s home in North Carolina and refusing to leave until she had given us a manuscript. We shamelessly plied her with excellent Italian Food (Portifino’s Italian Restaurant in Charlotte, North Carolina) and top-rate coffee until she submitted to our desires. “The first book, tentatively titled “Splintered Mirror” is currently in production and is scheduled for a March 2014 release.

About the Author:

Morgan Hawke is a prolific writer of adult fiction including erotic romance and erotica. Her publishing credits include over thirty books and short stories. Morgan Hawke has lived in seven states, and spent two years in England. She has been an auto mechanic, a security guard, a waitress, a groom in a horse-stable, in the military, a magazine editor, a professional belly dancer, the copywriter and publicist for an internet porn corporation, a gypsy for a Renaissance festival, and a stripper. She proudly states “I write damned good smut. I like writing damned good smut.”

About the Company:

Mojocastle Press is a full service, royalty paying eBook Publisher, which includes editing, proofreading, cover art, ISBN and digital and print publishing. We hold ourselves to the highest possible standard of contract fairness and an agreement detailing the rights and responsibilities of both parties is signed for each accepted manuscript.

Finest in Romance, Erotic Romance and Erotica…Books for the Discriminating Adult

To view the full Press Release visit: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/01/prweb11522867.htm

The Importance of Cover Art

High quality, gripping cover art is an essential part of the publishing process. Untold effort goes into the publishing of a book. From the author writing, re-writing, submitting, to the publisher reading, accepting editing, formatting, etc., hundreds, if not thousands, of labor hours are invested into each book. Why then would you put a cover made by an unknown artist who says they are “good with Photoshop” or having your “artist” friend draw something on your masterpiece? The answer, unfortunately, seems to be lots of people. A cover is not just a pretty image; it is the single-most important factor in someone buying your book! Here’s why:

Memorable First Impression

A book’s cover is the first thing a potential reader is going to see, right? And as much as you’d love to believe that saying – Don’t judge a book by its cover! – that’s precisely what readers will do. Chances are that you’ve even done it yourself! It is essential then to have a visually striking cover done by a real professional that knows what they are doing. The colors should be vibrant in order to catch the eye without being garish. The imagery should be intriguing and convey to the potential reader an idea of the story at a glance. The cover needs to look great as both a thumbnail sized image on a website as well as a full cover flat on a print book.

Cross-Platform Compatibility

This is something that is absolutely crucial in the age of smartphones and tablets. Readers may choose to read a novel on any kind of device – a laptop, desktop, Kindle, iPad, or a phone – and it’s imperative that a book’s cover, as well as its formatting, looks great on every device. Astute publishers will also ensure that a cover is ready to be displayed in high-definition. Make sure that the cover art is not too intricate, as it will blend together in the smaller images shown on mobile devices. This kind of planning allows readers to seamlessly flow from one platform to the next.

Marketing and Promotion

Chances are that any marketing and promotion you or your publisher will engage in to support your book will be centered on the cover. Everything from autographed post cards to Google Product Ads focuses on this image. Therefore, in addition to making sure the quality of the art is outstanding, you must make sure to have a marketable theme. Remember, just because you or the artist like an image, it does not mean it is marketable. Attention must be paid to the book’s genre, its target audience, etc. before determining what images to use.

As you can see, there are a lot of things to consider when deciding on cover art. Readability, marketability, cross-platform compatibility, and of course, good old-fashioned attractiveness are all things to take into consideration. But when all is said and done, the book with the great cover will receive more attention and higher sales!

Editing 101 for Authors

So, you’ve finished your novel. That’s great! Whether it’s your first novel or you’re a seasoned author, you deserve some praise for conquering that monumental task.

Alright, after you’re done patting yourself on the back, it’s time to face the challenge that awaits you next: Editing. Let’s go over some key aspects that an author can use to effectively edit his or her own work.

1. Take a well-deserved break. You might be itching to get started on your first edit, but reign in your enthusiasm: it’s best to just sit back for a while. Occupy your mind for an extended period of time – depending on your deadline, you might only be able to enjoy a few days’ rest. But if you can afford it, take a few weeks to let your mind wander away from the world you’ve built. When you come back to the manuscript, you’ll be able to look at it with fresh eyes.

2. Print out the story. It’s painful to think of the trees, I know. But there’s something to be said about sitting down with that distinctive red pen and a fresh manuscript. The editor in you will come to life when you physically take hold of the reins, and you can quickly begin to dig your teeth into the process.

3. Be your own worst critic. It’s difficult. You worked so hard to squeeze every last ounce of your imagination and creative writing talent into that story. Now you have to read through it and scrap everything that’s unnecessary. When you become attached to your world and characters, you become blind to story or personality inconsistencies. Be prepared to let go of things, and stay strong through the brutal first-draft editing process.

4. Learn to love the sound of your own voice. If you like, make the necessary changes in your digital copy. If not, pick up your marked-up manuscript. Now read it out loud. When you read something out loud, your ear will pick up on clunky sentence structure, misused words, or irritating repetition; additionally, you can easily cull fluff from your story using this method. Your literary agent or publisher will have a lot less to work through if you do a good job on this – and they’ll love you for it.

5.Rewrite your story. You’ve made a ton of adjustments and really worked hard to get through everything twice. Now sit down and make the changes you’ve noted. This is a long and tedious task, so be aware that it will take a lot of time and effort. Once you’re done with this step, back away from your story for a while once more.

6. Enjoy a fresh view. It’s time to sit back down and read the manuscript yet again. People prefer to approach this step differently, however. Let’s look at a few of your options:

• You can choose to print it and let a friend read through it – one who will give you honest feedback.
• You can hire a freelance editor to go over it. They’ll probably cost a lot less than hiring a full-time editor; however, it still takes a lot of time and energy to read a manuscript and edit it, so be prepared to compensate him or her fairly.
• You may want to re-read the manuscript yourself, in the interest of time and money. If you choose to do this, I suggest starting from the end and working your way forward. You derail your linear thought process by doing this, and you’ll pay a lot more attention to each word. You’ll be able to more clearly see which words truly matter, and which need to be omitted.

7. Make final changes. Before you get your manuscript to a publisher, agent, or another editor, make the final changes that you noted in step 6. If you’ve culled too many words and are under your word count, go back and look for “barebones” chapters. See how you can add a bit of humor, drama, or insight to these chapters and fill in the space.

Congratulations! You’ve probably spent as much time editing as you did planning and writing your novel. But you’re vastly more prepared to approach your publisher or literary agent now. By presenting your cleanest, best work, you’ll make your publisher or agent very happy – what a great way to kick off the excitement of publishing your new novel!