Monday, March 28, 2011

News and Tips

I haven't updated my latest news here for a while so I'm going to do that before I post a few writing tips.

It is exciting to see that "Married While Intoxicated" (romantic comedy) is the # 1 BESTSELLER in short humor at, and it is the # 4 Bestseller in short romance there.

Blurb: Ever do anything ill advised while under the influence? Melinda and Matthew did.

See the video for "Married While Intoxicated" at:

"Married While Intoxicated" is available at major Internet E-Book Stores.

"Male Fraud," a romantic comedy novella is in the release stage. It is currently available at Amazon Kindle and is coming soon to B&N, Sony Books, I-Books, Kobo Books and more.

Blurb: Terry Fiscus disguises herself as a man in order to get a job as trainer for the pro football Chicago Cyclones. When Coach Dan Barringer meets Terry outside of work and gets to know her as the lovely "Teresa" he falls in love, and so does she. As Terry tries to manage her double life things get complicated and very funny.

See the video at:

"Male Fraud" has just started its own page at Facebook. I'd appreciate readers stopping by to "Like" it.

Here's the link:

This week's writing tips:

1. When rejection or unfair criticism rear their ugly heads, writers should take a moment to get out a piece of work which they believe they've written really well. They should read it and know their only defeat comes when they allow rejection or unfair criticism to stop them from writing. There isn't a writer alive, no matter how successful they are in every sense of the word, who hasn't been rejected, given a bad review or had their work otherwise disparaged.

2. It's a good idea for writers to make time everyday to write even if it's only a few minutes.

3. Writers need to take a little time to celebrate accomplishments before getting back to work, no matter how many deadlines are looming.

I hope everyone has a wonderful week, full of spring sunshine.


Fran Shaff, Award-Winning Author

Monday, March 21, 2011

Rewrites and Edits Step by Step

Completing a first draft to a novel is a huge relief. By the time an author has reached this milestone, she's spent quite a bit of effort on research, character and plot development and tons of little things which go into completing a novel. She may have spent weeks, months or even years on her first draft.

Unfortunately, the relief of first draft completion is often short lived because the savvy author knows rewrites and edits to a manuscript can take as long as it took to put together the first draft.

In order to minimize the time necessary to make a manuscript just right, it sometimes helps to follow a few organizational steps which can make rewrites and edits a bit less overwhelming.

1. Let the manuscript set for at least a month. Two months would be even better. Putting time between the completion of the first draft and the beginning of first rewrites can give an author better perspective toward his project.

2. When picking up the manuscript to give it a good read through, it can be helpful for the author to look at it as though it were the work of someone else. The more objective and critical he is of the book, the better he'll do in finding flaws and areas which need further work.

3. To keep things as simple as possible it helps to examine scenes one at a time. Does each scene have a goal? Does each scene drive the plot forward? Does each scene end in a way which compels the reader to want to read more?

4. It is important to notice the way characters behave in each and every scene. Are they being true to whom they are?

5. Do turning points, the dark moment and the climax come at appropriate points in the plot?

These are a few suggestions which may help in the initial read through and rewrites.

Later, after the rewrites of plot/character are finished, come the edits. Here the writer notices such things as:

1. Character inconsistencies (Joe's blue eyes on p. 25 and green ones on p. 152).

2. Poorly written sentences or paragraphs.

3. Redundancies--overusing a word.

4. Repetition of circumstances, words, phrases.

5. Any overlooked English errors (their for they're, two for too, etc)

It's a good idea to let time lapse between rewrites and edits so the author can maintain a high level of objectivity each time she reviews her project.

Completing a first draft does have its moment of bliss, but it is soon followed by the reality of the hard work it takes to get a novel into first-rate condition.

And nothing short of our best book is owed to our readers.

Happy spring!


Fran Shaff, Award-Winning Author

Sunday, March 13, 2011

New Ideas and Inspiration

Sometimes we need to relax a little in order to get our creative juices going.

For a couple of weeks I've been looking for something new and different, something very creative, maybe even unique. I want a writing project which is totally outside of my typical writing projects, a task which is fun and humorous.

Though I knew what I wanted, I didn't know EXACTLY what I wanted. So I let the essence of what I sought simmer in the back of my mind.

All of a sudden, upon awaking recently, the idea I'd been seeking came to me. I grabbed a pen and paper and began to flesh it out.

It's funny how many times inspiration comes upon awaking, while relaxing in the sunshine or while sitting quietly for a moment or two. It seems when we clear our minds of responsibilities and "to do" lists inspiration likes to sneak in and get us thinking about something exciting and new.

I guess I'd recommend doing a little sleeping or relaxing if a person is blocked while looking for inspiration. At times we just need some recharging to get the creative juices flowing again.

Have a great week, and a happy St. Patrick's Day.


Fran Shaff, Award-Winning Author

Monday, March 7, 2011

6 Steps to Creating an Internet Video

Making a book trailer or any video for You Tube, your website, etc doesn't have to be a daunting task. If we break down the steps needed to complete a video, it makes the job much easier. I'll use the making of my book trailer "Married While Intoxicated" as an example while going through these steps to help illustrate each point.

NOTE: If you have Windows Vista or Windows 7 your system probably came with Windows Movie Maker, so you already have the software you need to make videos on your computer.

1. Know what the video is about.

In my example, I basically wanted to deliver information about my Short Romantic Comedy "Married While Intoxicated" in a video format.

2. Write your script. Use words efficiently to keep your video as short as our attention spans are.

Here's my script for MWI: "Ever do something ill advised while under the influence?
Melinda and Matthew did. 1 snowstorm, 2 stranded people who have 2 much 2 drink get 'Married While Intoxicated.' Funny...Fun...Familiar? Get Married While Intoxicated. You'll be glad you did."

3. Choose the photos you want to use in a way which helps to create the mood you want to convey or in a way which helps to illustrate your script. Use photos and videos you own or have the rights to use.

4. Apply special effects and transitions which appeal to your viewer. Remember, this is a moving picture so things should move. Effects and transitions help to give motion to still shots.

5. When you've completed your video story, add music which plays well with your graphics and which conveys the mood of your story or video. Again, only use music for which you have the rights.

6. Upload your video to the Internet when you've completed it.

Take a look at "Married While Intoxicated" and see the end result to following these 6 simple steps.

Did you notice the humor and light tone in the video? Since "Married While Intoxicated" is a romantic comedy I wanted the video to be light and fun.

Notice I used lots of pleasant snow/frost photos to keep the "stranded in a snowstorm" aspect part of the story but in a pleasant, light way.

Near the end of the video I included information important to readers who may want to purchase the story--its cost, the format in which it's available and where interested readers may buy it.

Finally, the music, effects and transitions pleasantly blend with the humorous, light photos and text of the video.

And there we have it--one video trailer which informs and entertains.

Follow these six steps to make your next video composition a little easier.



Fran Shaff, Award-Winning Author