Tag Archive | Writing Tips

Indie-Pubbing? Be Ready to Answer these 15 Questions

If you’re Indie-pubbing, be ready to answer the 15 questions below. Recently, I Indie-pubbed a second short romance in the Promises Collection. To get your copy, click here. By doing my own promotion, I must have filled out twenty different questionnaires in addition to my blog-hop posts. Yes, there were repetitive questions and answers, but some unique that required thought. After all, I wanted to reach as many readers as I could during the 4-day Amazon Free period.

Over that period, 7,000 copies were downloaded. Downloads came from all Amazon countries offered. A Promise Worth Remembering hit #3 in Anthologies and #6 in New Adult Romance free Kindle. And the bestseller’s rank for free Kindle hit #47. The story continues to receive 5 star reviews. ;D

A Promise Worth Remembering

To help with my next release, I created a document that contains answers to each and every question. And thank goodness. I released on a Tuesday and was contacted by four promo sites that wanted to do a full-page feature (Freebooksy, Freebookdude, It’s Write Now, and Free Books Daily) that very day.

And Free Books Daily also asked for an author interview, my First!  But ten minutes before I needed to leave for my day job, read here. I went into a little panic mode. What would I say? I wasn’t quite prepared. Now I will be. With the information I need at my fingertips, next time I’ll be release-day ready and you can be prepared, too.

15 Questions:

  1. Amazon Book Page URL
  2. Cover URL
  3. Back Cover Blurb (250 words or less)
  4. Short Blurb (100 words or less)
  5. 5 Intriguing Twitter Blasts (3 less than 30 words so promo sites can insert their links) (Create more blasts as reviews come in)
  6. 2 Facebook Blasts
  7. Author Bio
  8. Author Photo URL
  9. Website URL
  10. Facebook URL
  11. Twitter URL
  12. Amazon Author Page URL
  13. What Inspired you to write this story?
  14. What is your book about? (Not Blurb)
  15. Why should the promo site post your story?

Indie-pubbing? Now you’re ready to answer those 15 questions. Copy the list above and paste into a document file. Then create and paste your answers, so the information is at your fingertips. That’s easy, right? If you have more to add to the list above, please share.

Happy Reading,

Cyndi Faria

Villain Names to Remember

A villain’s name should evoke fear, or at least some sort of visceral response. Think He Who Shall Not Be Named: Voldemort, Hannibal Lecter, and Darth Vader. There’s an eerie feeling that sweeps over the top of my shoulders and tingles down my spine when I think of those characters. These are villain names to remember. There are many other villains that linger in my mind as I walk to my car under the cloak of darkness with an ever watchful eye.

However, not all villains are creepy or serial killers. Some are villainous because they refuse to acknowledge their faults. They refuse to change, even at the expense of others (think Mayor Murray Hamilton in Jaws). His unwillingness to change led to disaster (the death of several vacationers), which ultimately led to his figurative death as the town leader.

Last week, I asked for help in naming one of my villains. Of course, you all are fantastic and inspirational. Besides your comments, I had Facebook and loop suggestions. And I’m pretty sure of the name I’m going to choose for my greedy banker.

This past week, I searched the internet and found some fantastic resources regarding naming the villain. My future go-to site is Names to Run Away from Really Fast. This is a humorous site with many suggestions and additional links.

Fritinancy has an awesome naming website for all kinds of characters. But her What to Name the Villain suggests naming a villain ending in the letter “R”. Think Hitler, Lecter,  Luthor. Also including the sound “Mor” since Mort is Latin for death (Voldemort).

To address your villain as simply evil using a first and last unspecific name, you might find Your Villain Name useful. This mix and match image gives first and last slang names like Dark Lord, Invisible Claw, or Poison Mutant. These names can be interchanged. For example: Dark Mutant, Invisible Lord, and Poison Claw.

To come up with an original name, you might try The Name Generator for Writer’s List. My character Brian became Cruil. All I did was plug in that my character was a villain, scribe, male and out popped Cruil.

And lastly, don’t forget to search First Name Meanings and Last Name Meanings, which both give the etymology and history of first and last names.

I’ve decided to rename Brian Banker to Clark Deofol–though I’m still toying with Cash Deofol… (Inspired by Catherine Chant’s surname of Cashmore). The surname Clark means clerk or scribe. Deofol means devil. So he’s a clerk devil. (Big thank you to Michael Mendershausen for his surname contribution). Clark’s character won’t have you glancing behind you when you walk to your car, however, but in the future you may spy your banker/property manager through narrowed eyes.

Next week, I’m going to ask you to help me name the heroine. I’ll tell you more about her backstory then. And I’ll bring you several additional sites to research you hero/heroine names.

Happy Reading,

Cyndi Faria

Dare To Ask Your Readers

Have you ever asked your readers why they follow your blog? Last week, I asked my followers to answer several questions found Here. Basically, I wanted to know why they follow this blog. I asked what they liked and what they wanted to see more of.

I wasn’t surprised to learn that most of my readers are also writers, since the majority of my posts discuss the craft of writing. But for future posts, I want to grow my readership. I want to connect to readers at a deeper level.

The survey offered the following results.

Top 4 Reasons To Read:

1. Companionship
2. Connecting with others
3. Intrigue that inspires you to interact
4. Window to the world

Top 4 Reasons To Follow This Blog:

1. Writing craft presented in a simplified manner
2. Enthusiasm about the topic of writing is guaranteed
3. Friendly nature of the presenter
4. Inspirational topics

But readers also want more, plus the same. My goal is to combine the above enthusiasm and intrigue so I can develop an affinity with my readers. Here’s what I plan to do:

Top 4 Future Post Promises:

1. Short stories from myself or others’ links.
2. Backyard adventures similar to Research: Acquiring More Than Facts.
3. Sea Power News (A fictional newsletter inspired by my upcoming series).
4. What I’m reading now.

As a blogger or writer, have you asked your readers what they want to read? What if you dared?

Shout Out to Poll Participants (And a $5 Amazon Gift Card!)
A big thank you goes out to the following who contributed to this post (send me your email address and I’ll forward you a gift card to spend as you’d like. More books!):

Author Jill James blogs on topics that affect all writers. On her site, you’ll also find her books and information on her upcoming releases. Find her at www.jilljames.wordpress.com . Her group blog specializes in topics relevant to indie authors www.authorsofmainstreet.wordpress.com

Author Paisley Kirkpatrick’s favorite book is her very own Night Angel, book 1 in her Paradise Pines Series. Find her at www.paisleykirkpatrick.com/books.html

Author Tara Sheets blogs about her writing life, travels, and other inspirational topics. Find her at www.tarasheets.com

Author Jansen Schmidt has a humorous blog about everything and anything. Find her at www.jansenschmidt.wordpress.com

Know Your Reader: Reaching Out and Forming Friendships

To know your readers, you must reach out and form friendships.

Recently, I read a fantastic blog on How to Find Readers on Twitter and I encourage you to pop on over to Jonathan Gunson’s Best Seller Lab’s Blog if you’re interested. But that’s not the story. What I came away with after reading his blog on authors connecting with potential readers was that I wanted to find out who my current followers are?

Reader Writer

From my stats, I have close to 2,000 followers and I find myself absolutely flattered and in awe by the interaction I receive, both in the form of replies, tweets, and in personally meeting other authors who read my blog. Especially, since I’m pre-published. One thing is for sure, I’ve always found successful authors, and others, who pay-it-forward to capture my heart.

And, so, it has been my goal since starting this blog a little over a year ago, to share my ever-growing writer’s toolbox with other writers in hopes that financial manacles wouldn’t hold captive a budding author. At my expense, I travel, attend conferences, speaking events…the list continues and I won’t bore you.

Getting back to YOU and the essence of this post: TELL ME ABOUT YOU!

I want to know about you, so I’d love if you participate by answering these five easy questions. Next Monday, I’ll recap and share the information. This is my way of paying-it-forward, directing traffic to your blog, book, or special interest, and thanking you for following me, as well as considering new blog directions for this site.


1. Are you a reader or writer or both, and what genre do you read or write?  Feel free to plug your favorite title.
2. Do you have a blog or cause or an inspiring story that you want to share? Shout it out!
3. What do you enjoy about this blog that keeps you following me?
4. What do you want to see more of?
5. What positive effect has reading had on your life?

I’ll go first:

1. Are you a reader or writer or both, and what genre do you read or write?
I’m both. Given my first book, Cinderella, I fell in love with far away fantasy romance that slowly evolved to encompass the paranormal romantic and urban fantasy genre. Although, I do love a good mixed genre: humorous, contemporary, mystery romance.

2. Do you have a blog or cause or an inspiring story that you want to share?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve kept my home and barn open to orphaned, unwanted, or injured animals that can live out their years knowing kindness, a full belly, and a clean, warm place to bed down, which includes my lap. I’ve worked with Feral Cat Rescue, Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), Sacramento Animal Control, Project Ride (Connecting special needs children with horses).

3. What do you enjoy about this blog that keeps you following me?
I enjoy bringing materials forefront that benefit other authors or inspire others to see the positive and purpose in everything.

4. What do you want to see more of?
This year, I look forward to blogging more about what inspires my creativity—the California Coast—in hopes that you too will venture out and explore your backyard.

5.What positive effect has reading had on your life?
Reading has opened my mind to learning about things that I wouldn’t have allowed myself to explore and learn without judgment.

That wasn’t too hard. Please don’t be shy. I really do want to know about you. Share and I’ll be sure to spotlight how important you are to me next week!

For further information on how to connect to readers check out Nick Thacker’s Blog and guest post from Matthew Turner How Well Do You Know Your Reader.

Happy Reading and Writing,

Cyndi Faria

Setting as Character

This past week, I had the privilege to guest blog for award-winning author Delilah Devlin about Small Towns, Big Personalities–Exploring Setting as Character. I’m talking about my upcoming debut novella Love in the Mist  (book 1) and how I used setting to reflect the town’s series arc.

Do you have this technique threaded through your writing?
Happy reading and writing!

Cyndi Faria

Winning Book Titles

A winning book title, in my opinion, is one of the greatest challenges of an author to create. Perhaps that’s because an author is tied so closely to plot, tone and moodtheme, and character arcs to step away from the novel and be able to sum up 350 pages in one to four words (on average). Or maybe that’s just me.

Many books

Like my previous blog Cover Wars where I discussed cover art, the title should also touch the reader at a primal level as well as touch on genre. According to Seven Terrific Tips for Creating Winning Book Titles, the title should make a promise to the reader that their needs will be met. Just like the cover art.

NYT Best-Selling Books 2012 (Top 35):

I pondered the New York Times Best Selling Books of 2012. Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks sits in the No. 1 spot. The title is endearing and speaks to my primal need to feel safe. Other titles are as intriguing, but some miss the mark. Perhaps certain covers and titles fail to fulfill my needs, specifically. What do you think about No. 1? Deserving? I say, Yes.

Goodreads Best Book Titles (Top 100):

Another site I studied was Goodreads Best Book Titles. These titles include both new and classics and are based on Listopia votes. Some of the titles I found to be ridiculous, but they did give me a good laugh. Sitting at No. 64 is Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Again, this title speaks to my primal need to feel safe and loved in a time of fear. It’s the only book I’ve ever purchased based on title alone.

How do you come up with your title?

In the case of my current WIP, I’ve changed the working title 8 times. In fact, I’m embarrassed to detail the process, but in descending order I’ve bravely listed the iterations:

1. Faith’s Story
2. Faith’s Keeper
3. Leap of Faith
4. The Seconds Keeper
5. Enchanted Hostage
6. Her Spirit’s Bodyguard
7. Ghost Guard
8. Love in the Mist (Final Choice)

If I were to submit this to a category romance line, I might submit using a trope: Surgeon’s Spirit Fiancé

Or maybe not.

Helpful resource:

To compare your title to over 700 successful novels from 1955 to 2004, you may want to play around with a site called Lulu Title Scorer. It’s really fun! My title Love in the Mist scored a 64.8% of becoming a best-seller. One can hope!

Okay. Your turn. Do you struggle with titles? Are you brave enough to list the iterations you’ve used? What’s your Lulu Title Score for you final title?

Happy reading and writing,

Cyndi Faria

Weaving Mystery Into Fiction

As a young adult, I read Alfred Hitchcock, specifically the book titled The Best of Mystery, filled with 63 short stories. The facts of each story are presented in such a way as to lead the reader in the opposite direction of the actual villain (red herrings), but in the end said villain is so obvious. I also watched TV shows such as the Twilight Zone and Outer Limit reruns, Sinbad, The Odyssey, and later fell in love with the X Files, CSI, and Criminal Minds, Cold Case, and True Crime. I’ve always loved twists and turns, red herrings, foreshadowing, and how the main character’s skills (think MacGyver) are used during the climax to solve the mystery or defeat evil.

Ways To Add Mystery:

  • Skill: the ability to do something well, usually gained through training or experience.
  • Foreshadowing: to indicate or suggest something, usually something unpleasant, that is going to happen.
  • Red Herrings: something introduced, e.g. into a crime or mystery story, in order to divert attention or mislead.

Definitions via Encarta Dictionary

As a writer, the trick is to make the red herrings stand out so that the character’s believe and chase after these false clues until the midpoint, while using foreshadowing and MC’s skill subtly enough to draw a surprise reaction from the audience at the climax.

I read and watch a lot of movies in my genre (paranormal, sci-fi, suspense, romance). One of my favorite movies to study is Predator (2010). The movie’s premise is: The mercenary Royce; the military Isabelle; the Russian soldier Nikolai; the San Quentin criminal Stans; the Serra Leoa militia Mombasa; the drug lord Cuchillo; the Yakuza Hanzo; and the Doctor Edwin awake in free fall but they succeed to open their parachutes landing in a jungle. Soon they discover that they are on another planet and they are prey of aliens in a deadly hunting game, and they need to join forces to destroy their predators and survive.

If you get a chance to watch this film, with paper and pen handy, jot down each character’s skill, some of the red herrings, and, after the movie is complete, re-watch and note the foreshadowing. By this method, noting the timing of when these details are added and revealed to the characters, you’ll be able to add those types of details to your writing. Below I’ve detailed skills of the main characters and foreshadowing (SPOILER ALERT):

1. Adrien Brody plays the hero (Royce). He’s always disappearing and reappearing and causing distrust among the other characters. He believes in himself and staying alive. He’s good with weapons, but more so, he’s always one step ahead of everyone else. He’s the leader. At the end, and in response to the villain Edwin’s comment. “You are a good man after all” (because Royce came back for him and Isabelle, heroine), Royce responds by saying, “No, I’m not”—Royce disarms Edwin of his poisoned blade and stabs Edwin in the chin—“but I’m fast.” Throughout the movie, Royce’s wit has proved to save the group, but it’s his physical speed (his skill) that saves him and the heroine at the end.

2. Unsuspected Villian: Topher Grace (Edwin) plays a doctor who specializes in psychotropic drugs and has knowledge of what plants secrete these types of poisons (foreshadowing). It’s what he uses to immobilize his victims on earth (he’s a serial killer) and the heroine at the end of the movie, believing she’s the last person standing in his way of joining the monsters.

3. Minor character, Louise Ozawa Changchien (Hanzo) skill is swordsmanship. He’s able to hold off and finally kill the second of three predators that chase the group, sacrificing his life, but leaving only one predator to contend with.

Other characters include: Walter Goggins (Stans), Oleg Taktarov (Nikoli), Danny Trejo (Cuchillo) Mahershala Ali (Mombasa).

1. Alice Braga (Isabelle) is the heroine. In an early conversation with Royce, she foreshadows her part during the climax as she explains what she was doing right before being abducted. She says: “I could have done something, but then I would have been slaughtered along with him (her partner on Earth). So, I hid. I watched him die. I wished I pulled that trigger.” Pulling the trigger and drawing attention to herself is exactly what she does to save the hero (Royce) in the end.

2. Captured Predator: When the group stumbles on the predator camp, they find a smaller predator, played by Carey Jones, strung up on a tree (foreshadow of an ally). They realize who is hunting them. Later, Royce comments to Isabelle “That thing strung up at the camp might know (how to get off the planet/fly the ship). My guess is, it’d do just about anything to get free. Enemy of my enemy.” Isabelle responds, “That doesn’t make it a friend.” She’s foreshadowing to Royce that Edwin is not a friend.  Royce does free the predator who joins him in fighting against the last remaining larger predator. This ally shows Royce where Earth is in regards to the planet they’re on and how to work the device to uncloak and engage the ship.  

For additional analysis visit, tvtropes

For additional quotes visit IMBD

The analytical challenge, and the fun part of writing, is weaving a character’s skills, red herrings, and foreshadowing  together to make for a surprising climax.

Do you have a favorite movie or book that can be used to study a character’s skills, foreshadowing, and red herrings? Please share…

Happy Writing,
Cyndi Faria

Research: Acquiring More Than Facts

The sea fog swirled around me and clouded my view of the waves rolling in off of the green-grey horizon and crashing in a thunderous climax against the sandy shoreline. But I knew the fog was not what it seemed. Fog spirits kissed my heat-baked skin, their touch delightful like the tender lips of a new lover. I tipped my face up and the bold dot of yellow attempted to burn away the mist surrounding me. The sun’s heat hugged me in warmth, intensifying my pleasure and trying to tear at it with the same salty breath. I suppose fog spirits might be in competition with the sun. As a human, I couldn’t know and perhaps because of the heat and mist war that stole my breath, I didn’t care. I lie back onto the heated sand, let the fog spirits dance across my skin, listened to a thousand lulling murmurs that drifted in off of the surf, and closed my eyes. My human lover who lay beside me would never allow them to steal me away.

Research: Acquiring More Than Facts.

Yesterday, I spent the day researching Fog Spirits with my husband. I drove along highway 1 toward Point Reyes, California, stopping at the local restaurants to sample some of the day’s freshest catch: oysters, clams, shrimp, crab, salmon, herring, chowder, and warm French bread. We could have included wine and local cheeses and many of the other tourists lured by the mad frenzy to the bountiful tables that lined the banks and overlooked Tamales Bay did enjoy these additions. But I resisted such temptations as this was a business trip.

Back in the car, I cruised along the shoreline toward the point, the salty yet heavily muddied scent of the bay should have been stifling, but wasn’t. The sea was close enough to taste. I accelerated toward the fog bank that hung in a thin sheet over the last cypress-filled bluff overlooking the pacific coastline.

Once on the beach I played in the frigid surf, letting the sand push between my toes, and explored tide pools that dotted the shoreline. My partner and I copped a spot in that heat-infused sand, tucking against the rocky bluff. I closed my eyes and listened to the rumbling waves that built and built before exploding against the surf, the cry of an occasional seagull, the mist tickling my skin, and the sun a mere thought.

And I reminded myself why I’d come to this place, why more than any other location in the world, the pacific—my backyard—pulled me like a current to this spot time and again since childhood. I asked myself what memories and information I could take with me from this day? What would I infuse into my nearly finished work in progress (WIP)?

One thing I’ve learned is to wait until I’m nearly finished with my stories before weaving fiction and fact together. I once spent months researching the fifteenth century, working that piece into my hero’s past and having my editor recommend that I remove the thread as it didn’t affect the plot. She was right. And although I increased my knowledge of the French Revolution, I’d also wasted time researching instead of writing that story.

Research List, Collecting More Than Shells:

  • Senses (sounds, smells, sights, tastes, touch)
  • Emotional Feeling
  • Traditions
  • Local Celebrations
  • Beliefs/Fears
  • Culture
  • Food
  • Climate
  • Time of Year
  • Founder(s)
  • Socioeconomic Status

Research Expenses, Keeping Track of More Than Sanddollars:

  • Mileage
  • Food
  • Tour Admission Costs
  • Books
  • Toll
  • Parking

Do Fog Spirits exist? In my mind they do.

Here’s hoping that your time spent researching is a pleasurable as mine.

Happy Researching,

Cyndi Faria

Motto vs Personality Type

Character motto is derived from your character’s backstory. It’s how your character views the world and is a wonderful tool to use to create conflict among your characters (see chart below).

If the Heroine’s motto is “Don’t Rock the Boat” while the hero’s motto is “Might Makes Right” there’s going to be conflict.

But by pitting these two personalities together, the “Don’t Rock the Boat” character can learn that sometimes you must employ the “Might Makes Right” motto to find inner peace.

Motto is the key to developing your character’s growth arc and defines what the character must learn during the black moment to change this view.  Author Susan Gable gives several great examples in her blog titled, “What’s the Motto with Your Character?

According to the Enneagram, there are nine personalities that exist. And each of those personalities has a different philosophy of the world and a unique motto, although mottos can be expressed in infinite ways.

Let’s take the Peacemaker (Personality Type 9) for example. According to her backstory, she’s learned that it’s not okay to assert herself. Her motto’s can be expressed as:

  • “Don’t Rock the Boat”
  • “Slow and Steady”
  • “Keep the Peace” and also
  • “Love Makes the World Go Around”

The Peacemaker avoids conflict at all costs by minimizing stressful situations, even if that conflict becomes damaging to herself and others. During her black moment, she’ll need to discover that the only way she’s going to find inner peace of mind is by confronting her fear of loss and separation. In other words, the only way out is through. Her motto might change to “Sometimes you have to grab the bull by the horns.”

This revised motto will give the Peacemaker strength to resolve the story after the black moment. My Big Fat Greek Wedding, specifically Fotoula Portokalos the main character, is an excellent example of the Peacemaker’s growth arc.

Use your character’s motto to control a scene. Remember that a person reacts to every situation by pulling from experience (backstory) and their world philosophy.

In the Motto vs Personality Type  (pdf) and the chart below, I’ve set up a situation where a resident of a small community loses his dog. Each neighbor helping to search for the dog goes about this task according to their motto. Healthy personalities will tend to respond in a more positive motto (see Strengths) while unhealthy personalities will tend to respond in a more negative motto (see Flaws).

I hope this chart helps you understand the connection between your character’s motto and their personality type.  If you want read more on character’s motto, see my previous blog on Character Motto.

Happy Writing, Cyndi Faria

Profession-Key to Backstory

After studying the Enneagram that details personality traits, I discovered a correlation between a person’s profession and their backstory. The Enneagram Institute lists many examples of real people throughout history, as well as fictional characters, with certain personalities and professions. Surprisingly enough their backstories are also similar.

For those of you that follow my blog, you know that I consider the Enneagram the magic tool in my Writing Trunk to creating fictional characters. 

But I also feel like I’m stealing—yep, I feel guilty about owning the key to my character’s backstory made readily available by using the Enneagram.

Below I’ve created a one page chart Profession-Backstory Relationship (pdf) for you to add to your arsenal of tricks in an effort to help you, as a writer, to more easily identify what backstory your character might have and how their backstory correlates to their profession.