Brighton Walsh, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author

Writing Tips & Tricks Catch-all

Now that this is my third year mentoring for #PitchWars, it’s getting a little difficult to gather up all past info I’ve shared. I figured it was a good idea to put it all in one place, as much for me as for any writers out there who are interested. While some posts are specific to Pitch Wars (and marked as such), most are relevant to all writers on their publishing journeys.

I’ll continue to keep this updated with any new tips and tricks I post, any blog posts that are relevant, etc, so feel free to check back regularly. And, as always, I’m available to answer questions on Twitter. (Please remember the underscore when tweeting me. The non-underscore WriteAsRain doesn’t like to be bothered, to put it mildly. LOL)

Garbage/Distancing words
Beat Sheets
Formatting your MS
First chapter do’s and don’ts
Showing vs Telling

Yes, You Need One (Pitch Wars specific)

Critique Straight Talk
Find a CP
It’s Okay to Say No
The Power of Perseverance
Are You Ready (Pitch Wars specific)

Miscellaneous Writerly Things:
Ten Things I Wish I Knew
Finding the Perfect Agent (for you)
The Road to Publication: Twitter Question Style
Do You Really Know Your Characters?
Every Step is Worth Celebrating
So You Feel Like a Fraud, Huh?



Friday Round-up

Friday Round-upHappy Friday, you lovely, gorgeous creatures! It’s time for another Friday Round-up over here, where I show you what I’ve saved from the Interwebs over the past week. I swear, every week I go into my Pocket account and think there’s not going to be anything there, and I’m always shocked that I have a dozen things saved.

First thing I saved was this craft book called Romancing the Beat: Story Structure for Romance Novels. I’ve seen lots and lots and lots of mentions of this one in my different feeds, and I’m pretty excited to dive in and check it out.

Next up is a Crossfit journal discussing blocks of food. I saw someone (Juli Bauer, maybe?) post about this resource and wanted to check it out. We switched to a 90/10 Paleo diet at the beginning of the year (though if I’m being honest, the last four weeks have been more like a 40/60 Paleo diet…), and it really is a whole new beast. Learning to eat again—the right way—when you’ve gone decades doing it totally differently is hard. I’m not sure that this will work for us, but it’s something I want to at least educate myself on. Side note: can we talk about who counts out 24 peanuts to eat them? Not this girl.

I am always looking for awesome bookish things, so when I saw this post on Fiction Fare, I knew I’d want to save it forever in my Pocket. I have an obsession with book related items, especially jewelry. *heart eyes*

And then not at all related to book things, but totally related to healthier eating: local, grassfed beef. I’ve been thinking about ordering this for a while because A) organic, grassfed beef is fucking expensive in the store and B) I like knowing exactly where the stuff I’m putting into my body is coming from. So my friend Ellis and I started chatting, and we just might share a cow. Just like the olden days.

Lastly, I saw this awesome post on time management and color coding. The approach of organizing tasks by the time increments they will each take really clicked with me, and I can’t wait to start implementing this in my planner.

And speaking of my planner…did you see the peek I posted of it on Instagram? That’s my Rhodia Webnotebook and we’re getting married. I hope you’ll all come to the wedding.

See you guys next week! Have a fabulous weekend!


Assignment #2: Find a New Critique Partner

If you completed the first assignment, you might have uncovered some issues in your MS. If you didn’t, one of two things have happened: A) you already have a good handle on pacing and know how to work it in your own stuff. Yay! Or B) what you think are your beats aren’t actually your beats, which means something isn’t going to add up for your readers.

So how do you find out if you’re A or B? Enlist new CPs (Critique Partners). The second assignment I gave my mentees was to swap work. Why? Several reasons. First and foremost, it builds relationships. My CP and beta readers are my rocks and people I absolutely could not do this journey without. Finding those people and nurturing the relationships are good for this career. Besides that, the more you read and the more you help others with their books, the easier you’ll be able to see those same errors in your own and fix accordingly.

How do you find CPs? Well, right now is a perfect time to throw it out on the Pitch Wars hashtag. I’d also like to propose you use #PWCPSeek. Hop over to the hashtag, post your category, genre, and hook, and see who would be a good fit. I suggest you swap with at least two people. Three is even better. Having multiple opinions help you see if it’s a subjective opinion (1 person comments), something to seriously consider (2 people comment) or something you really need to work on (3 or more comment).

Next up? Should you take that feedback or not? How to decide what to take and what to leave from the comments your new CPs give you. This will be up sometime next week to give you guys time to do your homework!


Your First Assignment: Beat Sheets

As I mentioned on Twitter, my lovely Pitch Wars mentees this year, Lisa and Suz, gave me the thumbs up to share with you some of their homework assignments. That way, those of you who didn’t get picked can whip your MS into shape as best as you can. (Please note, this doesn’t negate the necessity of CPs and/or beta readers!)

I’m going to post the homework assignments here on the blog, in separate posts, as well as tweet about them. Some will be super short, so don’t expect a novel every time you come here. These will be posted after my mentees have been given them, and will be done when I have a spare minute to do so.

Your first mission, should you choose to accept it: Beat Sheets.

I know not everyone likes them. I also know some people are plotters and some are pantsers, and those who are the latter get terrified at anything like this. And that’s totally okay. However, it means nothing to me in this stage.

You’ve already written the book in whatever fashion you preferred, whether you used a beat sheet or the snowflake method or a cocktail napkin. Regardless, now it’s time to see if that actually worked for you. Enter the beat sheet.

A very common problem in manuscripts is pacing. Every story needs to follow an arc. I am going to be only talking about romance novels, because that’s what I write and that’s what I mentor. If you write something else, google beat sheet. I’m sure you’ll have no problem finding one for your specific genre and category. For all you romance junkies, here’s the one I like to use from Jami Gold.

The reason I want my mentees to do this is so they can see in black and white where issues might be. Once you fill this out, adjusting it for your book specifications, you’ll be able to see if there’s an issue within your book. Your points (or beats) should fall within a 10-15 page range, I’d say. And if they don’t? There better be a damn good reason for it. I’m always a fan of breaking away from rules when warranted, but this is not one of those rules. 99% of romances follow these beats for a reason–it builds the right amount of tension for the characters and the readers. Of course, there are always exceptions to some of these beats (first kiss and first intimate encounter, specifically), but never on the conflict, black moment, and resolution. Or at least I have not read a successful example of it.

Another very simplified way to look at beats is: 25% for first kiss, 50% for first intimate encounter (I’m being so proper for you guys…), 75% for the beginning of the end, 90% for the black moment/all is lost, and then the resolution.

Once you’ve got those filled out based on your MS, you’ll be able to see what, if anything, needs changing and can adjust your MS accordingly. Let me know in the comments or on twitter if you accepted the challenge and what you learned!

Up tomorrow: I don’t know. Come back to find out.


All Things Caged in Winter

What a week, she says as she starfishes on the bed.

B1xwi7pIQAEeggMIn case you missed the news, you know, since I didn’t post about it here, CAGED IN WINTER dropped out of the publishing skies and floated down to bookstores all over the land on Tuesday. I may or may not have visited three stores since then (*cough* the WI Barnes & Noble stores in Racine and Brookfield, as well as the Deerfield, IL store all have signed copies *cough*). I’ve had friends sending me pictures of them spotting it in the wild, and it hasn’t gotten old yet. So if you see it out, snap a pic and send it to me on Twitter/FB/Instagram!

With release week comes a whole mess of social media brouhaha. There’s a blog tour going on right now, and there are excerpts and original posts and character interviews and giveaways going on all over the place! As such, I wanted to list them all here so you don’t miss out on them. And, I’ll be honest, it’s handy for me to have them all in one place.

Guest post on Heroes & Heartbreakers about sexual euphemisms
Character interview with Winter, Tessa, Haley (and a surprise appearance from Cade) on The Book Hookup
Character interview with Cade on The Irish Banana Review
Cade’s OKCupid dating profile on Fic Fare
Cade & Winter’s top dream dates on Adventures of a Book Junkie
Interview on HEA USA Today
Interview on No BS Book Reviews
Exclusive excerpt on The Rock Stars of Romance
Web show with yours truly on  Whiskey, Wine & Writing
Q&A on Harlequin Junkie
Q&A on Books Over Boys
Q&A on BCS Reviews
Q&A on Viviana Enchantress of Books
Exclusive giveaway on Bad Girlz Write

I’m pretty sure every single one of those has a giveaway attached to it, so if you’re into free stuff, go take a peek!

Besides running around like a chicken with my head cut off over release week, I’ve also just finished first pass pages for CAPTIVE (due out March 2015), completed drafting EXPOSED (the follow-up to CAPTIVE, due out summer 2015), and am now working on content edits for TESSA EVER AFTER (due out March 2015), the follow-up to CAGED IN WINTER. To say it’s been a busy couple of weeks is like saying Niagara Falls is a trickle.

tattooI am looking forward to taking a small break once these edits are done and doing the things I’ve been neglecting for the last five weeks. I never thought I’d be so excited to clean out my e-mail, but seeing those multiple pages in gmail has me all twitchy. I did take some time on Wednesday last week to go and get a tattoo to celebrate the release, and I’m in looooooove!

In between all the drafting/editing/release week craziness, I’ve also started up a reader group over on Facebook. So far, I’ve mostly just shared pictures of dudes who are the inspiration for upcoming heroes and posted excerpts. That’s where I will post all news first, so if you like to tease your friends that you know something before they do, well. This is the place for you.

I also sent out my first newsletter ever! (See, I told you I wouldn’t spam you.) One lucky reader won a signed copy of CAGED IN WINTER, so if you’re not signed up yet, I’ll just leave this right here.

Now I must dive back into TESSA EVER AFTER. Anyone waiting for that diddy? While I’m doing my read-through, I’ll be posting some snippets in my reader group. Js js js…