Archive for December, 2022

If you’ve gotten a book published, then you’ve probably experienced the ins and outs, and ups and downs, of marketing your own work.

Book signings? I hate them. In another blog, I’ll tell you why.

Most writers hate all kinds of promotion and marketing because they take us away from valuable writing time; yet, they are a necessary evil to get our names out there in the public eye.

If you haven’t a big name that might pop up on a talk show or on syndicated radio programs, (which WILL sell thousands of books) then you have to devise a plan to promote your work and yourself.

I’m going to spend the next several blogs (maybe weeks of blogs because there’s SO much to know) on the topic of promotion. Even if you are just in the process of writing your book, you need to be promoting yourself, at least, online.

So, today’s writing tip is a short one: start a website and a blogsite. That’s one way to start getting the exposure you need to sell books.

“But my book isn’t even out yet,” you might say.

Nevertheless, you can start drawing a fan base by writing either short excerpts of your book or writing about topics of which your book is about. It takes years to build up that fan base, so devise a plan and get to it. Get your name floating out there in cyberspace.

However, I’m sure you know there are millions of blogs out there. You might never get a decent following on a blog that will affect your book sales. I’ve found that building up a fan base on sites like Facebook (Join groups interested in the things you write about!) and Pinterest is more beneficial because you can have frequent contact with folks, many of them interested in what you’re writing. :)

Don’t wait! Get started today!

Marsha Hubler
Best-selling Author of the Keystone Stables books
(Web) www.marshahublerauthor.com
(Horse Facts Blog)

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“Am, are, is, was, were, be, been!”

I don’t know how many times throughout my teaching career I had kids in my English classes recite those “BEING VERBS” so they would know NOT to use them in their writing assignments so often. I dare say thousands of times. So, the list has been ingrained in my thick brain as much as I hoped it was ingrained in my students’ mushy minds.

But, you know, after all the years I’ve taught English and all the years I’ve been writing for publication, I still catch myself overusing these words when I’m expounding. Using these words seems to come as natural as breathing, not only for beginning writers but for seasoned vets as well.

These nasty little three-and-four-letter words are like pesky little gnats in your eyes and the foundation to what we call the “passive voice,” a voice you should try to avoid 90% of the time. Why?

The passive voice makes your writing dull, lifeless, and uninteresting. These little nasties take the punch right out of any really good story you’re trying to write.

Let’s look at a few examples of passive vs. active voice:

Passive: Joe was walking his dog Barney last night. (Ho hum.)
Active: Joe walked his dog Barney last night.

Passive: Martha was listening to her brother’s phone conversation.
Active: Martha listened to her brother’s phone conversation.

Passive: Trigger the Palomino was ridden by Roy Rogers.
Active: Roy Rogers rode Trigger his Palomino.

Passive: Sally’s baby boy is loving his new toy.
Active: Sally’s baby boy loves his new toy.

Passive: The Jones’ kids have been going to camp every summer for years.
Active: The Jones’ kids have gone to camp every summer for years.

So, in a nutshell, there you have a quick survey of the passive versus active voice. Take the time to evaluate some of your latest writings. Use a highlighter and see how many times these little nasties pop up. You’ll probably be surprised.

Work on sentence structure. Throw out the little nasties and make stronger sentences with more of a punch. Your readers will be glad you did, and they’ll be eager to turn the page in your book to see what’s coming next.

Marsha Hubler
Best-selling Author of the Keystone Stables books
(Web) www.marshahubler.com
(Writing Blog)
(Horse Facts Blog)

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In my last blog, I focused on “showing,” not “telling” in narration, and I gave you an example of lousy narration versus that which will catch the eye of the beholder.

I’d like to continue with the premise that good narration can be “telling,” not “showing” if handled properly. If you do need to “expound” about details that you simply can’t include in dialogue, then I suggest following the next few steps to good “telling:”

1. “Paint” a picture with your words that includes as many of the senses as you can. (Remember my waterfall scene in the last blog?) Think of your reader as one of the characters so they experience the same thing your characters are experiencing.

2. If you are going to open your book (or each chapter, for that matter) with narration and not dialogue, hook your reader. That all important first paragraph of your novel will either inspire your reader to go on or cause him to yawn and put your book down. Check the opening paragraphs of best-selling authors and analyze how they grab your attention in that first paragraph.

3. Even though you are probably writing your novel in one predominant character’s voice, good narration usually establishes an omniscient voice, one that is authoritative and sets the general mood of the novel. The earlier you accomplish this, the better. (Again, study the beginning chapters of some great novels. What voice does the writer present in the narration?)

4. Do not expound for pages and pages of narration. That’s a sure-way to lose your reader. Condense and summarize if nothing exciting is happening to your character.

5. Dialogue is not always the way to go with backstory. If details are not that important in a character’s past life, you can work it in to the manuscript so that your character is reflecting into the past. Don’t bore your reader with unimportant details!

6. Shorten your narration to a few sentences if you’re describing secondary characters. You can’t always show every single action, dialogue, or mood of all your characters. It isn’t necessary. There are times when you will want to economize your method and just plain “tell” the reader what happened. But as a skillful storyTELLER, you can refine your writing style and keep your reader on the edge of his seat, even if you are “telling,” not “showing.”

Marsha Hubler
Best-selling Author of the Keystone Stables books
(Web) www.marshahubler.com
(Writing Blog)
(Horse Facts Blog)

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On Writing: Showing Vs. Telling

Anyone who’s ever studied the craft of writing for any length of time has heard this phrase until it’s engraved in your brain like a tumor or you’ve read it a zillion times in “how to write” magazines until your tell-tale heart is flipping: “Show, don’t tell.”

For the longest time, I never knew what the heck that meant until I started studying the writing style of best-selling authors. Then one day, like a light bulb going on, I understood what it meant.

Now, most of the time, the phrase “showing” refers to writing in which the author cleverly works details into the plot through dialogue and not pages of lengthy dull descriptive narration, “telling,” (like we see in many of the “classics” from the beginning and mid-20th C. writers).

But sometimes, “telling” in a short narration can actually be “showing” if the writing is handled correctly.

I’m going to give you two short excerpts of narration. The first excerpt is “telling” and it’s flat, boring, and uninteresting. The second excerpt, taken from my 4th Keystone Stables book, SUMMER CAMP ADVENTURE, is the same scene done in a “showing” style of narration. It’s an excerpt, in my opinion, that draws the reader into actually being a part of, “experiencing,” that beautiful scene.

So, please analyze and compare the two excerpts. Notice what doesn’t work in the first one compared to what does work in the second. Then watch for my post next Monday when I’ll discuss when it might be the right choice to “tell” and not “show:”

Excerpt One – “Telling:”
The riders lined up their horses and looked at the waterfall about 50 yards away. Above their heads was water over some rocks. It tumbled on more rocks that were even with the riders. The water made big white splashes and then was smooth. The waterfall droplets and sunlight made a rainbow, and off to one side a little stream flowed away from the waterfall and down the mountain. A breeze made the waterfall mist fly everywhere in the air, hitting the riders in the face. Skye was amazed.

Excerpt Two – “Showing:”

Lining up their horses, the riders sat gawking at nature’s water show half a football field away. Far above their heads, the falls flooded over a table of rocks arrayed on both sides by the greenest trees Skye had ever seen.

The water thundered as it crashed down over more layers of rocks, tumbling, tumbling, until it splashed onto large boulders level with the riders. There, billows of white foam faded into ripples that quickly smoothed into a serene pool as clear as glass.

A rainbow arched in a stream of sunlight. Off to one side the pool overflowed, forming the gushing stream that had found its way down the mountain to form LackawannaLake. Fed by the falls, a steady breeze and fine mist saturated the cool air around the riders, welcoming them to the secret and special place.


(Keystone Stables Series Book 4)


Ready to “show” and not “tell?” Go for it!

Marsha Hubler
(Website) www.marshahubler.com
(Blog) www.marshahubler.wordpress.com
Best-selling Author of the Keystone Stables books

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