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New Book Release: September 2019



FOREMOST, the second full length novel in my new medieval YA Lost Princesses series is hitting shelves!

For those of you worried about a second-book-slump—the point in a series where you hit the doldrums and have to force yourself to keep going—well, let me put your mind at ease. Reviews are rolling in and readers are declaring that the second book is exceeding expectations!

One reader said: "Okay so wow. I wasn't sure if I would like this one as much as the first. I mean how could I? I loved the first. I thought this would be the slow story of the series that I would have to suffer through. I readily admit it. I WAS WRONG. I loved this book a bajillion times more than the first."

Another reader said: "Wow! Jody Hedlund has outdone herself with this one! Each book in this series just keeps getting better and better."

Here’s one more review: "I didn't think you could top the first two books and yet you DID. I stayed up late to read the whole book in one sitting! I couldn't put it down and I was squealing with excitement by the end!"

When an author hears praise for a second book in a series, let me tell you, she releases a huge sigh of relief. That middle book is always the toughest because an author faces the danger of slowing down the momentum of the larger series’ plot, leaving too much dangling, or veering off on tangents.

The other thing that’s tough is being able to write a complete love story in and of itself while also moving the series forward to its conclusion. Yes, each book in the series is interconnected to a larger plot, but each is also an independent love story that finds resolution by the end of each book.

Finally, the second (and third) book are more challenging, because a writer has to continue to relay backstory (history, family genealogy, etc.) as a memory refresher and just in case a reader doesn’t start with the first book. For some readers, that information simply becomes repetitious.

Whatever the case, I’m relieved to know that readers are enjoying FOREMOST as much or more than the previous books! To find out more about FOREMOST head over to the website page here: http://jodyhedlund.com/books/foremost/

Another New Book Release: August 2019



Yes, it’s that time! Time for another release! EVERMORE, the first book in my Lost Princesses series, hits shelves.

You might be thinking, sheesh, didn’t Jody Hedlund just have a book release a couple of weeks ago? What’s up with all these books coming out so close together?

I’m glad you asked. That’s a really good question!

Most of my books release anywhere from six to nine months apart, which has worked really well in juggling the work involved in getting the books ready for publication. It also helps build reader anticipation (especially with the second and third books in a series).

However, with this young adult series, I decided to do something a little different and release the books in quicker succession.

First, since I already had all the books written, I didn’t have the pressure to write them quickly (and risk being sloppy). In addition, the books were professionally edited and proofed months ago, and my beta readers have also had plenty of time to provide feedback. That means I feel confident I’m not compromising quality for quantity.

Second, my release schedule for my adult books for the next couple of years is pretty full (including branching off into a new genre that I’m excited to tell you about hopefully soon!). So, I decided it would be better to try to keep the releases in the Lost Princesses series closer together instead of interspersing them with my other books (and having conflicting release schedules).

Finally, I wanted to see how readers prefer the rapid-release (versus the longer wait). So far, early readers seem to be eager to keep going and are expressing excitement that they don’t have to wait long for the next book’s release. While each book in the series is a complete and full love story, the plot is more intertwined than other series I’ve written, and so I expect that readers will be more anxious than normal to find out what happens next.

So there you have it! That’s why EVERMORE is now available! The second and third books will release in September and October respectively. If you like the rapid-fire release, make sure to shoot me a quick message on social media or via my contact form and let me know!

Find out more about EVERMORE on my website page here: http://jodyhedlund.com/books/evermore/

New Book Release: August 2019


I'm thrilled to announce the arrival of a brand new medieval YA series, The Lost Princesses!

To kick off the series, you won't want to miss ALWAYS, a prequel novella, that sets the stage for the three full length novels that follow (and are releasing this fall 2019).

I can already hear some of you saying that you don't like novellas, that they're too short and the stories always feel incomplete or rushed. Yes, it IS challenging for authors to fit a full and fulfilling story into a shorter novel. But I hope you won't miss out on this novella because it provides important backstory for the books to come.

As one reviewer said:  "This story may be short, but it packs an impressive punch! Jody Hedlund has woven a dynamic story with endearing characters that will have you holding your breath and rapidly turning pages for more!"
  
I can also hear some of you saying that you don't like YA (Young Adult) novels, that they're not deep enough or have immature characters. Yes, often YA characters are a bit younger, the action is a bit more intense, and the romance a bit sweeter. But I've had non-teen readers telling me that they've loved the series just as much as my adult books.

As another reviewer said: "I am a longtime fan of Author Jody Hedlund, and I can’t believe I had never read one of the books in her Young Adult genre. I realize after enjoying Always I have been missing some excellent reading."

Unlike my previous series (Noble Knights), the Lost Princesses leans more toward fairy-tale than historical. So if, like me, you love princess fairy-tales set in medieval times, then this series might be right for you! (See all of my medieval YA here on my website: http://jodyhedlund.com/young-adult/)
 
For more information, visit the ALWAYS page on my website:  http://jodyhedlund.com/books/always-prequel-novella/






Answering a Few Questions About Publication


By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund

Recently I returned from a national writers’ conference. One of my favorite things to do there was talk with aspiring writers and answer any questions they had about publication and being an author.

Even though I’m home now, I still love the opportunity to answer questions, most of which come via emails. While I don’t always have time to write back, sometimes I answer the questions here on my blog, especially when they’re the kind of questions other writers might have too.

Recently I got just such an email from Hannah, one full of lots of great questions.

Hannah said: I am currently an English major who would love to have a career in writing novels. I would love it if you could share how you got started in the writing world and became successful. How long did it take before you first got published? How long does it generally take for you to write a novel? Do you work for someone who gives certain deadlines or are you self-employed and work at your own pace?

1. How long did it take before you first got published?

It took me approximately 7 years (nonconsecutive) from when I first started writing seriously as an adult to when I got my first book contract. During those years, I read every writing how-to book I could find, and I wrote five practice novels that now collect dust in a closet and will never see the light of day. My sixth book became my debut novel.

The number of years and practice books it takes will vary from writer to writer. BUT what won’t vary is the NEED TO LEARN. Every writer has to take the time and do the hard work of learning the craft of writing by reading technique books, practicing, getting critiques, and honing their skills.

All too often nowadays with the ease of self-publishing, I see too many writers skip the hard work of learning and practicing. Whether going the traditional or self-publishing route, a writer won’t find success without taking the time and work necessary to become skilled.

Once a writer is consistently getting feedback (from critique partners or editors) that their work is starting to look ready for publication, my advice is to seek out agents and writing contests. I made my big break into traditional publication by finaling in a prestigious writing contest. After my final, I re-contacted the agent who already had my manuscript in her slush pile. She offered me representation a few days later. A few months after that I had a three book deal.

2. How long does it generally take for you to write a novel?

After writing close to 30 books and having about 25 of them published, my writing muscles are much stronger now than when I first started. I like to compare writing to running. When a person first decides to take up running, they lumber down the street and can hardly go a block without having to stop for a break. After years of practice and running consistently, they can often go many blocks without needing to stop. Maybe they’ve even worked up to running marathons.

Writing works the same way with lots of slow lumbering, often much fumbling, and eventually going longer with stronger output. I started by writing 500 words a day during my kids’ nap-times. It took me a year to complete one book. That was all I could manage as a busy (and exhausted!) mom. Now, after years of writing, I can complete the first draft of a novel in 8 to 10 weeks. My kids are teenagers and more independent, and I’m in a season where I can devote more time to my writing.

3. Do you work for someone who gives certain deadlines or are you self-employed and work at your own pace?

With my traditional publishers, I’m under contract to write a certain number of books in a specific time period. Generally for me, that means I turn in a book every 6 to 9 months. During contract negotiations, my publisher gives me deadlines for when I need to turn in the first draft and also with the various stages of editing.

For my indie books, I don’t have any deadlines, although I do try to work carefully around my traditionally published books so that releases don’t conflict with each other. Even without strict deadlines for my self-pubbed books, I’ve still found it very helpful for my productivity to establish my own goals and publication schedules. I try very hard to stay on track with the schedule, especially so I can remain timely for the editors, cover designer, beta readers, etc. who are a part of my self-publishing process.

All that to say, I approach my writing career in a business-like way. Not everyone does nor do they need to. It’s just what works for me and my personality. I like to establish yearly goals (sometimes even plotting out my writing and publishing schedule for a couple of years). Then I know what I can fit in and where.

Your turn! How long have YOU been writing? What is YOUR writing process like and how long does it take YOU to complete a novel? 

Should You Become a Writer?

 
By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund

I received an email from a young writer named Noor who asked: “I’m in middle school and will be in high school soon. I was wondering if I should become a writer. I love to write and it's one of my passions. But I know a career in the arts can be a tough thing, so I'm not sure if I could do it. Can you give me some advice?

Should you become a writer?

This is an excellent question and one that many budding writers struggle with no matter their age.

First, let’s define what it means to “become a writer.” Many people love to put words on paper in a variety of formats and do so for personal inspiration or pleasure. There are some writers who decide to pursue publication with their inspired words because they want to share their stories with others. Then there are those who want to make a career out of sharing their words and stories with others.

So my simple answer is, yes, if you love writing, be a writer. Bring life to the words bubbling inside you and find great pleasure in it.

Should you share your words with others? And should you pursue a career of sharing your words?

It depends.

Should you share your words with others? Just this week my husband told me about a facebook post from a high school student getting ready to self-publish her first book. As he read the post, I cringed. And then I said: No one should ever publish their first book. Ever.

My daughter is a freshman in college studying to become a nurse. If you went to the ER, would you want a freshman nursing student to treat your injury?

She has to study, learn, grow, and practice (A LOT) before people will want her to fix their problems.

You have to take the long hard road of a educating and practicing the craft of writing before people will want to read your words (that is anyone besides family and loyal friends). A first book is simply part of that process of becoming a writer.

(Sidenote: I’m guessing some blog readers will probably argue that a first book isn’t always un-publishable. Maybe there are writing geniuses who can pull off a first-book wonder. Some might be able to eventually overhaul their first book and make something of it. But most of us scrap that first book and chalk it up as a practice effort.)

In other words, don’t rush to share your words with the world. Take your time to become the best writer you can be first.

Should you pursue a career of sharing your words? Let me be honest. Being a full time author (where writing and publishing books is your main job) is extremely tough in today’s saturated book market.

Yes, you may hear stories of both traditional and self-published authors hitting it big. But the large majority of career authors struggle to make a living off their books. I’ve been writing full time for close to ten years. I’ve published over twenty novels, mostly with traditional publishers with a couple of indie books in the mix. I haven’t gotten rich off my writing.

And in rubbing shoulders with LOTS of authors, I’ve come to realize that most of us are in the same boat. We’re staying afloat, but our careers are more like steamboats chugging upstream, not luxury liners with smooth sailing.

All that to say, if you want to make a career out of writing, be prepared for the realities of a competitive publishing market and the possibility of having a supplemental job that can pay the bills.

Rather than end this post on a negative note, I’ll close by saying that if you have a love and passion for writing and want to make a career out of it, then definitely go for it. Chase after your dream. I can honestly say I LOVE my job. I can’t imagine any other career more fulfilling than sitting down every day and creating stories.

But as you chase after your dream, be prepared to work harder than you ever have for anything else. Give it all you have. And with enough hard work and determination, someday you may find yourself chugging upstream too.

What about YOU? What advice would YOU give if someone asked you if they should become a writer?

Advice to a Novice Writer


 By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund

In a recent email, Teri asked: “I'm a novice writer. What is the most important advice you can give to someone who is beginning to write a novel? And why?

As I pondered how to respond to Teri’s email, I realized that if Teri asked a dozen authors the same question, she’d likely get a dozen different answers. We all once struggled (or still struggle) with a variety of different things: crafting an opening that hooks a reader, creating lifelike characters, keeping the conflict and tension high, showing and not telling, and more.

So rather than focusing on writing mechanics, I’ll give a broader piece of advice to novice writers, especially to novice writers in today’s digital age: Don’t rush the process.

In other words, slow down; don’t be in a hurry.

What do I mean by that?

Let me flesh out my advice by applying it to two different levels of the writing process: micro and macro.

The micro-writing process:

The micro process is the art of writing itself. Capturing thoughts. Crafting sentences. Evoking the senses. Twisting plots. Breathing life into words.

Don’t rush the process doesn’t mean write slowly and meticulously and take years to write your first book. Sometimes writing fast and unhindered unleashes the creative process so that the internal editor is completely pushed aside and can’t interfere to erect roadblocks.

Rather don’t rush the process means to take the time to learn everything possible about the beautiful craft and skill of weaving words so eventually you can move from simple, tangled, and knotted beginner samplers into smooth yet colorful tapestries that convey complex stories.

Learn. Practice. Learn. Practice. The process of becoming skillful takes time.



The macro-writing process:

The macro process is the bigger picture of being a writer. Becoming an author. The thrill of seeing words in print. Dreaming of having readers.

Don’t rush the macro process means write with abandon, without the pressure to publish. Give your mind the freedom to simply create. Take the time to please yourself before worrying about pleasing potential readers.

The first book and maybe even the second (third, fourth, and fifth for me), are all part of the journey, experiencing both the joy and angst of the love affair with words.

All too often, novice writers channel their excitement for their stories into publication instead of practice. With the ease of self-publishing, the discipline of delayed-gratification is ignored for short-lived fulfillment, which often turns out not to be so fulfilling when the difficulties of selling and marketing become a reality.

Write several books. Get feedback. Tread into publication carefully.

So, that’s my advice to the novice writer! Don’t rush the process. If it’s worth doing, then it’s worth slowing down and doing it well.

How about YOU? What advice do you have for a novice writer?

3 Ways to Add Depth to a Novel


By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund

 I recently received an email from a young writer, Theresa, who asked this question:

“My books come out more like short stories (under a hundred pages) rather than full books. Are there any tips or tricks that you can share with me about further developing the story line and characters to make my books longer?”

Thanks for a great question, Theresa!

Most of my adult novels are approximately 100,000 words in length (over 300 pages). As I thought about what I do to reach that amount, I came up with three main things.

1. Give the external plot more than one type of literary conflict.

Most writers develop their plot around some kind of external conflict usually involving a “bad guy” (also known as an antagonist or Man vs. Man). That’s all well and good. But there are other ways to bring about additional conflict: Man vs. Society, Man vs. Nature, Man vs. Himself, Man vs. Technology. (Here’s a really great post that explains the “Big Five” types of literary conflict.)

I often try to have more than one of these types of conflict going throughout my physical plot. For example, my heroine in For Love & Honor is not only battling a creepy antagonist (Man vs. Man), but she’s also struggling against the community who thinks she’s a witch (Man vs. Society) as well as starvation and hardships from a castle siege (Man vs. Nature).

The more types of literary conflict we add to the physical plot, the more complex our story becomes.

2. Give your characters deep internal problems to work through.

Another way to add more layers to a story is by making our characters deeper, getting below their skin to the heart. We have to delve inside the real, raw, emotional issues and problems that our characters are going through.

A word of caution. This is more than just our characters expressing their reactions to the physical plot, which is important too. Of course they need to show and express appropriate feelings in regards to the antagonist.

However, an emotional plot is a bigger internal conflict that we weave throughout the entire story. This is usually a character flaw or problem like fear, pride, insecurity, etc. that is related to our character’s backstory.

For example, in For Love & Honor, the heroine is struggling with insecurity over a blemish that she’s been born with. This insecurity stems in part from her father’s rejection of her as a little girl for that blemish, which has made her feel bad about herself and believe that others will reject her too. Throughout the story, circumstances force the heroine to wrestle through this emotional issue. Her growth is part of her character arc—working through the insecurity and becoming a stronger person by the end of the story.

The more we intertwine this emotional plot with the physical, the fuller and richer our story will be and the better our readers connect with our characters.

3. Give the setting the respect it’s due.

Another way stories can lack depth is by overlooking setting and focusing too much on plot and characters.

Setting is hard to “get right.” Sometimes we err by not getting enough setting details, especially in our effort to develop a fast, page-turning plot. Sometimes we err by randomly tacking on setting details almost as an after-thought. And then sometimes, we even ramble on eloquently, but the purple prose usually only bores readers.

Instead, we want to give the setting the respect that it’s due and treat it as both part of the plot and as a character unto itself. To do so, we focus on descriptions and sensory details that relate to the moods and pace of the plot. When we do that, the setting comes alive, like another character that has needs and flaws and history that we can slowly and carefully develop.

When we view the setting as more than mere descriptions but as a living force within the story, then we’re usually able to add the appropriate details at the right times, keeping our readers grounded in the story but not overloading them.

My Summary: Obviously, there are lots of other ways to add substance to novels including varied subplots, additional character viewpoints, developing minor characters, creating more scenes, etc.

As we’re looking at increasing a novel’s length, we clearly don’t want to add more words just to reach an arbitrary word count goal. Rather we should make every word count for something.

What about YOU? How do you add depth to your stories? 

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