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Writing A Christmas Novella - Easy?


guest Leslie Ann Sartor

It’s funny that I pin my hope for the world on the short season of Christmas, but I do. While I try to always offer a smile to anyone who passes by, at this time of year I make it brighter to the harried store clerk, or frazzled family. And I also fervently send up prayers for peace, for mankind to believe that the goodness in each of us should be shared and that war and hate and discrimination are never solutions. Light and love seems more powerful during this season. Let us each light up the world and become the miracle we so believe in. 

It's one of the reasons I wrote a series of novels featuring the holiday season. To give hope to readers and coax a little "magic" into the holiday season. 

And then, I thought writing a Christmas novella would be easy. Short and sweet, piece of cake, walk in the park…you get it. 

Well, not for me.  Dream Of Me This Christmas Eve was turning into a nightmare.
I was sooo keen to start writing Caroline Young’s story because—get this—readers were asking me to write her story. They learned about her in Forever Yours This New Year’s Night, book two of the Star Light ~ Star Bright series, and they wanted more.
Sure, no problem I thought. 
Writing A Christmas Novella - Easy?


Except that I needed to make the conflict in this 24,000+ word story not as deep as I usually did in my 60,000+ word tomes. And I needed to build the romance and develop the character.

Caro was a wild child growing up in Kansas, now she’s an engineer who designs and builds floats, and she lives and has her company in Pasadena. My hero, Maximillian Henderson III, lives in Boulder and is a second-generation lawyer.

Easy conflict right? Who is going to move where? 

Well, neither can. 

Writing A Christmas Novella - Easy?So, as I was pulling out tufts of hair, my buddy Audra came to my rescue. Happily Ever After I asked? How about Happily For Now she responded.  And she suggested that I stop making food their crutch and start making them need each other. Not that yummy sushi I had four paragraphs about them eating. (But I love sushi, I whined.) She just gave me that Audra look.  Okay one paragraph.


I needed to find ways to add in the romance immediately, make the story work and make my readers fall in love with Caro and Max. LET ALONE give cameos to the other characters in the series. 

But you know, with the help of some trusted friends who pointed out a few or many issues, I was able to pull it together by make each scene a bit more intense, choosing my words carefully, putting myself in the character and consciously think about what they’d do and want. 

Word choice was key, along with reminding myself as I wrote (then edited each scene) that this was a short book that still must deliver an emotional pull of the heart-strings. As well as entice the reader to read the other three books in the series. Each scene had to pack in all the above … in less than half the words.

Phew!!



Writing A Christmas Novella - Easy?


So, it wasn’t an easy learning curve. And you know, I can’t wait to write another one.
Dream of Me This Christmas Eve is the fourth book in the bestselling Star Light ~ Star Bright series.  Book one, Believe In Me This Christmas Night won the prestigious International Digital Award for Contemporary Short. The series has garnered the coveted #1 seller on Amazon, both achievements are dreams come true.

I’ve been asked why the star in the books.  We do have a star on Flagstaff Mountain in Boulder and I recalled a story mom told me about it. She was at a party and one of the neighbors was grousing about the star being too Christian. Mom said she completely disagreed.  That no matter your faith, the star represented the feeling of hope, the promise of the new day, the talisman of looking forward. 


Writing A Christmas Novella - Easy?
Amazon



Merry Christmas to you all.

PS. One commenter will receive Dream Of Me This Christmas Eve as an e-book.


Writing A Christmas Novella - Easy?



I started writing as a child, really. A few things happened on the way to becoming a published author … specifically, a junior high school teacher who told me I couldn’t write because I didn’t want to study … urk … grammar…

That English teacher stopped my writing for years.  But the muse couldn’t be denied, and eventually I wrote, a lot, some of it award winning. However, I wasn’t really making a career from any of this.

Writing A Christmas Novella - Easy?My husband told me repeatedly that independent publishing was becoming a valid way to publish a novel. I didn’t believe him even after he showed me several Wall Street Journal articles. I thought indie meant vanity press. 

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I started pursuing this direction seriously, hit the keyboard, learned a litany of new things and published my first novel. My second book became a bestseller, and I’m absolutely on the right course in my life.


Please come visit me at www.lasartor.com, see my books, find my social media links, and sign up for my mailing list. I have a gift I’ve specifically created for my new email subscribers. And remember, you can email me at Leslie@LeslieSartor.com  

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Book Covers - They can make or break a book

by Leslie Ann Sartor

When I decided that the indie publishing route was the path for me, I realized immediately that I would need to find a cover designer. Lucky for me, one of my writing buddies was designing covers for other authors and offered to do my first cover at no charge. 

I was filled with ideas and had the image of what I wanted firmly planted in my mind. Then I tried to describe it to her, I even had artwork for her to use. And bless her heart, she did a great job. A few months later, I realized my first cover wasn’t saying anything about the story and we needed to change it.  She again got my vision and we created the new cover. 

Book Covers - They can make or break a book

But there were many moments that frustrated me, and I know she was on edge a bit too, because my vision was hard to translate to words and colors were different on her computer than mine...endless little adjustments of all sorts were needed. After cover number 3, I realized that if I wanted the book cover to completely encompass my vision, I had to do it myself.

Two weeks ago, I launched my 7th book Prince Of Granola and my 5thcover (I redid one of the earlier ones if you’re doing the math 😊)

Book Covers - They can make or break a book

I love this cover. In fact, I believe it’s one of my best. Why? Because it tells the reader so much with a single glance.

·      While I don’t like to see the complete faces of my characters, I prefer my readers to imagine the characters from my description, I’m finding fewer stock images to draw from that I like. So here I give you profiles.

·         The cover shows you the setting immediately

·        It gives you a visual clue to a scene, and when you read it, hopefully you’re immediately seeing the cover in your mind and feel you’ve uncovered a little secret.

·        And it tells you what the genre is.

How do I know where to start when creating a cover? I usually have the sense of my character’s physicality. I look through several image companies; AdobeStock, RF123, and DepositPhotos are some of my favorites, and I book mark or lightbox tons of images from them. BTW, you can download watermarked photos to try and do I a lot of this.

Once I’ve narrowed my characters down, I find a background that will work for that image andthe story. More photos to try, but that’s the only way to see what will work before you buy.

Then I spend a huge amount of time adding to the original images. For instance, I added the waterfall to the left because the title got lost in the rocks. I blend and subtract and add.  There wasn’t any water around my stock couple so I added it to make it look like they were in the water, not on top.

Book Covers - They can make or break a book
I find the font that I want to use and keep it for the entire series.  My name is always in a specific font, not related to the book but to me. Not necessary, but I like that consistency. 

Lastly, at least for this post, remember that you must own the images and the font. There are a variety of commercial licenses, so you need to read the licensing carefully. No pulling random images off the internet-ever!!

On my website (http://lesliesartor.com/writers-tools) I have two pdf’s that you can download that show you how to create a cover using Photoshop Elements.  I use Photoshop CC, but the steps are very similar.

If you want to try it and have questions, you can email me at Leslie@Lesliesartor.com and I’ll do my best to help.

I’m happy to give away an ecopy of Prince Of Granola to someone randomly chosen from the comments.

Hugs to all, L.A.


Book Covers - They can make or break a book
I started writing as a child, really. A few things happened on the way to becoming a published author … a junior high school teacher who told me I couldn’t write because I didn’t want to study … urk … grammar. I went to college, moved a few times, came home and found the love of my life (that is another novel worthy story, but for later), and got married.

I have always been a voracious reader and one night after throwing a particularly bad book at the wall (even putting a small ding in said wall), I realized that I could do better.  I told my husband, and he said go for it. I called Mom and she revealed the junior high teacher story and she told I’d been writing all the time up to that point.

That blew me away. I didn’t remember any of it.  But I started writing again, nearly the next day, pen and paper, learning, making mistakes, winning contests, then moving away from novel writing to screenwriting, getting a contract for a script and doing really well in screenwriting contests. But I wasn’t really making a career from any of this.

My husband told me repeatedly that independent publishing was becoming a valid way to publish a novel and people were making big dollars.  I didn’t believe him even after he showed me several Wall Street Journal articles. I thought indie meant vanity press.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I started pursuing this direction seriously, hit the keyboard, learned a litany of new things and published my first novel. My second book became a bestseller, and while I’m not rolling in dough, I’m absolutely on the right course in my life. Prince Of Granola is my 7th book.

Please come visit me at www.lasartor.com, see my books, find my social media links, some screenplays and sign up for my mailing list. I have a gift I’ve specifically created for my new email subscribers. And remember, you can email me at Leslie@LeslieSartor.com


Buy Links:

Amazon    
iBooks     
Nook      
Kobo   


Website         http://www.lasartor.com
Blog                http://www.anindieadventure.blogspot.com
Twitter            http://www.twitter.com/@lesannsartor
Amazon Author Page           http://amzn.to/1e10fkd
Bookbub        http://bit.ly/2kdhjkM

Writing A Christmas Novella - Easy?Book Covers - They can make or break a book

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