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Showing posts from March, 2012

Your Way Is The Write Way

We are all so busy trying to figure out what the magic formula is to writing success. We scour the Internet looking for the writing tips that are going to propel us into the writing success stratosphere.

As soon as we hear about a new writer that scored that big deal, new agent, bestsellers list, indie break through, indie that signed a big publishing deal, we try to figure out everything that person did to get that success.

I teach a lot of writers workshops. While I'm getting ready for my big ole presentation that they are all there to hear, they chat among themselves. Of course I'm listening as I'm setting up. There seemed to be a pattern of what they are discussing. . .

"A real writer plots out the novel from beginning to end."
"A real writer doesn't plot. She lets her characters talk to her."
"A real writer creates a character worksheet for all of her characters."
"A real writer never creates a character worksheet. She knows her…

How bad do you want success?

**This originally posted in 2011 BUT I feel this is one that needs to be posted every six months!** HOW BAD DO YOU WANT SELF PUBLISHING SUCCESSThe most question I get asked on a daily basis, “When do you find the time?” I walk into my local writer’s group and the first thing they ask, “You amaze me with all you do. Where do you find the time?” My answer: HOW BAD DO YOU WANT IT?
I admit I’m not a normal writer. I have a day job, I have three teenage boys who play every single sport imaginable, I have a husband, I have two dogs….I’ve heard it all. But it all boils down to HOW BAD DO YOU WANT IT? I write at my son’s football game…tell me HOW BAD DO YOU WANT IT? I write at my son’s baseball game….HOW BAD DO YOU WANT IT? I write on vacation….HOW BAD DO YOU WANT IT? I write during my son’s lacrosse practice in my van….HOW BAD DO YOU WANT IT? Every afternoon, for three years, I would pick my kids up from school. I was in car line for over two hours. Those two hours were spent writing my novels. A you…

How Well Do You Know Your Characters?

Last week I had offered my character worksheet to anyone who wants one. But I have to say that the character worksheet is the first step of how I get to know my character.

My characters begin to talk to me way before I even type chapter one or the first word.
The more you know your characters, the more your story will flow. I finished three complete novels before I figured this out.

1) I fill out the character worksheet to be able to get eye color, height, more of the features. Every single person in the book, no matter if they are secondary or driving by, they get a character worksheet.

2)As I'm creating these worksheets, I use an address book (that I learned from Heather Webber) and list them by their name and print out a picture I find on google that resembles the character. By this time they have become pretty concrete in my head. Then I take it a step further. I keep that address book with me at all times in case the character tells me something or I think of something new. I…

Hands In the Air~You Are On The Writing Roller Coaster!

Take a good looooong look at this roller coaster!
There are some ups and downs not to mention a few turns. WOW! Doesn't that sound a lot like writing? The emotions of up and down, not to mention those unexpected turns. Everyone of us go through it.

Some of us hang on and smile and some of us hang on and cry. Either way, there isn't an option to get off. We are WRITERS! We love WRITING! But how we handle the ride can make all the difference in the world.

This was probably the hardest part of writing for me. I NEVER once wanted to quit or give up. But I do get stressed out and that is no fun to me or anyone around me.

Here are a few of my tips and tricks:

1) Take a break. Not a long break, but a fifteen minute break if you get stressed when writing. Lay down and try to concentrate on your breathing. This will help get oxygen to your brain and your stress should begin to lessen and help you refocus.

If your writing career is what is making you ride the roller coaster, take a coupl…

No! Don't Quit! Finish That Novel!

Recently, I've discovered Craig's List. Yes! I absolutely LOVE it. I sold my corner desk within fifteen minutes of posting it, and then found my new desk in less than that!

The week following, I sold a few more things. I told my family that they better watch out, I just might put them on there. (Of course I'd never do that! I have to have them around so I can cart them to sporting events and get more writing finished!)

Anyways, I thought it would be fun to check out any potential writing jobs....and what I found BROKE MY HEART!



There was an ad from a writer who was seeking another writer for help with her manuscript.

Immediately, I typed out an email that begged her to join my local writer's group, take more classes, give her all my contacts, but I continued to hit the delete button. None of those things were going to help unless she was ready for it.

When I started out, I did everything I could to better my craft. And in today's age, it's so much easier to do …

What's Up With The Cover?

You know the old saying, "don't judge a book by it's cover," well, I do.



For me, when I write a book, I have a very vivid picture of how I want my readers to see my novel. It's in the art of the written words that create the images. Of course, you begin to develop what you'd like your cover to look like.


I don’t know about you, but when I am browsing bookstore aisles or Amazon.com, and a cover catches my eye, I grab it. I read the book blurb on the back and then I check out the author bio. I admit the cover does sale me a book.
Humans are visual creatures.

Recently on NPR (National Public Radio), they were talking about the appearance of the author and how some author’s books sale because THEY are marketable, not the writing, but their author photo. I am not sure if I believe this to be true. -DON’T LET THIS BE TRUE- I WILL NEED A GOOD AIRBRUSH ARTIST!
I have to admit that when I was with my small publisher, I was worried sick about the cover art. Luckily, t…

NO! Don't Go It Alone!

One of the biggest questions I get about the craft is about editing. I have spent anywhere from $70 - $1400 on a manuscript to be edited and I know others have spent much more. There is no way your manuscript should see any reader's/agent's/editor's hand with out being fully edited by a professional. By professional, I do not mean your critique partner, critique group, beta reader, or your MOTHER!
I found out the hard way about editing and editing services. Here are some tips to help find the right editors.



1) KNOW YOUR GENRE! and know the genre of the editor.  I had an editor that was a man. . .don't roll your eyes! I really liked him! BUT he didn't read chick-lit...(do I hear laughter from all the men out there?) Right!?!
He would email me asking me about the women in the book and "do they really think this way?" NOT what I was looking for in my editor. He did a great job, but the process took much longer because I felt like I was Dr. Laura helping wit…

Panster's Guide to Writing

Hi, my name is Tonya Kappes. I'm a panster.


If there was a twelve step program for the pansters of the writing community, I would be the leader.
I've heard it all:
*post its? Those would be everywhere. No way.
*Note cards? No way.
*I let my MUSE do the walking and talking.
*Plotting stifles me.
*My characters carry me through.
*My characters drive my story.
. . .sound familiar?

Well. . .these are examples from my own procrastination station.

And here are a few things that have helped propel that manuscript forward. It's not really plotting, but it gives you a bare bones to where you will end up.

Start with your idea! Your story. You know the beginning and end. Write down the idea like you would see on a blurb or preview of a movie. As you write these down, you will get a few visuals in your head. Do they give you inspiration?
Don't lose that feeling. I grab a new notebook or journal and cut out pictures of the images in my head. The story is starting to mold, take shape…

Thick Skin With Every Word

Writing is so subjective.

We've all been through it! If you are anything like me, you've sent hundreds and hundreds of queries to agent and editors only to get the standard, "it didn't click with me," OR "it's not right for me, but someone else will like it."
Well. . .when you do decide what publishing route you want to take your career, indie or traditional, and when your novel is published, you still have to have thick skin!
1) First we decide to write the novel. Not only do we have to deal with telling people that we write, but we have to finish the novel and tell our families. Mostly our families are supportive but you know the eye rolls....the ones we get from friends or when someone asks what we do and we tell them, only for them to reply "are you published." When you say no, they scowl. THICK SKIN.
2) We enter contests, join critique groups/partner, send queries to agents/editors, AND we get our first (and definitely not only) eyes on o…

Voice. . .Voice. . .Voice. . .

How many times have you heard, "you need to find your voice," OR "I love your voice."
I've finally figured out what that means after writing close to ONE MILLION words over the past few years. And I don't just mean writing voice. We are going to explore your career voice.

No one writes alike. We all choose what we write and how we deliver it or speak to our colleagues. Your voice is you! It's the raw you that you put on the page or talking about your craft. Sure we can put on a happy face at a conference or try to make a great impression, but the words you put out there is your true voice coming out.

Sometimes it's hard to describe your voice or to even know how to find your voice. Here are some ways to help you figure out your true voice:

1) Be yourself! When you are writing your first line or your last line, you are writing what you love and in the genre you chose to write in. When you are yourself, you are bringing your reader along with you and…

YES, I'm a HYBRID!

Many, many times I have stated that I believe the publishing industry is so different from when I first started out.

Years ago, the only way to get your novel published was to get an agent, and then hope the agent sold your novel to a publishing house. My, my have times changed.
Over the past couple years the ebook revolution came barreling through like a tornado and has left the publishing industry in a mass destruction.

Many of us really saw this as an opportunity. I was ready to take the leap.
The leap was really like a big heave. I had already been promoting myself, creating my voicethrough blogging, going to writer's conferences, building a platform all without having my first novel, Carpe Bead 'em, out there.

Why did I decide to go the self-publishing route? I had written a couple of women's fiction novels and women's fiction was really hard to break into going the traditional route. Plus it had some chick-lit in it, which everyone told me that chick-lit was DEAD…

Top Three Things To Boost Your Career

Over the weekend I had the pleasure of speaking on a couple of panels at The Jeffersonville Crossing Writer's Conference. I was on the mystery panel, since I write mystery, and the "journey to publication" panel that discussed traditional vs self vs small publishing.
Over the past couple years of doing speaking events, most authors that I've come across at conferences always tend to ask the same thing, no matter what panels I'm on. This weekend was no different.
This is GREAT for me! This is exactly how I came up with the idea of my non-fiction craft book, THE TRICKED OUT TOOLBOX~PROMOTION AND MARKETING TOOLS EVERY WRITER NEEDS.
"What is your top three advice tips for social media?" is the number one question I'm asked.
Social media still takes author's breath away.  No matter what road of publication you've decided to take, all three of these will work.

1) AMAZON CENTRAL PAGE is a must. This is where you can list everything you can about yo…

At What Point Do Feel You've Succeeded?

I’ve recently sat back and took a good hard look to where I was two years ago and where I am now in my writing career. And if you’ve never done this on any goals in your life, I strongly suggest you take a look too. February 2010, I was part of a completely different blog. The Naked Hero. February 2010, I had just completed Splitsville.com, Carpe Bead ‘Em, and started The Ladybug Jinx. February 2011, Splitsville.com is still in the hand of two agents, Carpe Bead ‘Em and The Ladybug Jinx were well on their way to be self-published. I had the opportunity to participate in two of a small press holiday anthologies. Something Spooky This Way Comes Halloween Anthology, and Believe Christmas Anthology. These two allowed me to have my first two book signings (both sold out!!) and work with an editor on copy edits, galleys, AND hold my books in my hand! February 2012, I have self-published six novels and short stories, made Amazon's Movers and Shakers list THREE times, and countless bestseller…