Keli Gwyn
Book Covers Count!

One of the milestones for a debut author is the arrival of the book’s cover.

Last week I experienced that exciting event!

While a cover can undergo numerous changes before it’s considered final, there’s nothing quite like the first glimpse. More than any step in the process so far, seeing what my publisher has planned for my book’s front cover has made things seem “real.”

My publisher gave me a green light to share the cover comp they’d sent, so I posted a sneak peek for those who’ve “liked” my Facebook page: Keli Gwyn Readers Group.

I knew having a cover would make a difference, but I didn’t know just how big. No sooner had I shared the link than email notifications of comments left on the page poured in.

The following report from Facebook is proof that nothing generates as much interest as a cover, which is why publishers put so much effort into making them the best they can be.

I have a number of online friends. Sure, some of my 1,800+ Facebook “friends” could more accurately be called acquaintances, but we’ve formed a passing connection. Because of that I wasn’t too surprised when a smattering of my friends liked my page.

An interesting phenomenon took place when I posted the news about my cover, though. The number of likes jumped, as did the number of visits and comments. That didn’t surprise me. What did was the fact that some of the people who added my page to their list of likes aren’t my Facebook friends.

My reach is moving beyond my immediate circle of influence, which is amazing to me. After all, my book won’t hit the shelves for another seven months.

What has enlarged my reach?

I believe the best answer is that I have a cover. It’s attracting interest and drawing friends old and new who are eager to take a look, proving that covers count. 🙂

• • •

How much does a cover affect your book-buying decisions?

What do you think are the most important elements of a cover?

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Keli Gwyn
Two Notes on Names

In this segment of Copyediting with Keli I’m exploring two uses of character names in a work of fiction.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSmcPbwYKBA&w=420&h=315]

When we introduce a character in a story, especially a main character, it’s customary to give the person’s full name.

Why?

A character’s first appearance is our opportunity to present both names so the reader becomes familiar with them. After that we can use either the character’s first name or the title and surname, and the reader will picture the correct person.

For example, author Jody Hedlund introduced the heroine of her second historical novel, The Doctor’s Lady, using her first and last names. Here are the opening lines of the story.

“Indians!”

The sharp call from the back of the sanctuary jolted Priscilla White. She sucked in a breath and twisted in the pew.

From this point on the reader knows that either Priscilla or Miss White refer to the same person.

The second tip is to limit the use of proper names in dialogue.

Why is that?

When we speak with someone in real life, we rarely call one another by name. However, we writers can be guilty of having our characters overuse names, as is the case in the following example of a passage from The Doctor’s Lady that I’ve altered in order to illustrate this point.

“Eli Ernest, you’re exasperating me.”

“I’ve been told that’s one of my best qualities, Doctor Baldwin.”

“You mean worst, don’t you, Eli?”

“That too, Doctor.”

My alterations to the passage were obviously exaggerated, but they show how overuse of proper names in dialogue can become distracting—and downright annoying at times.

The general guideline is to have a character use another character’s name once per scene. This means we must come up with other ways of identifying the speakers or the people being addressed. Doing keeps our stories from sounding stilted.

In the actual passage from The Doctor’s Lady, Jody made use of action beats to avoid the overuse of proper names, as can be seen in the example.

Dr. Baldwin pushed himself out of his chair. “Eli Ernest, you’re exasperating me.”

He grinned. “I’ve been told that’s one of my best qualities.”

“You mean worst.”

“That too.”

Armed with this information, you’ll be able to introduce your characters so your readers are aware of their full names and to be on the lookout for unnecessary repetition of character names in dialogue.

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To view more segments of Copyediting with Keli, you can visit my YouTube channel.

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Keli Gwyn
Operation Motivation: How to Move Toward Our Goals

What gets you moving?

Deadlines work for me. I don’t like letting others down and will do my utmost to fulfill my obligations, shoulder my responsibilities, and get the job done on time.

But what happens when no one’s waiting for me to finish a project or task?

My motivation falters, and my productivity drops.

Five weeks ago I received my osteoporosis diagnosis. I knew I could no longer sit idly by as my bones became less dense. I needed to take action.

I did. I joined Curves and began working out three days a week and walking on the others.

It takes 21 days to form a habit, so I was motivated by the goal of not missing a single day of exercise for the first three weeks on my new regimen.

Day 22 arrived. I’d met my goal. Suddenly working out didn’t seem quite as exciting. I walked into the gym, got into position on the first machine, and thought about going through the circuit week after week for the rest of my life. Suddenly something I’d been enjoying threatened to become drudgery.

Why?

I had an intermediate goal of showing improvement on the bone scan scheduled for November 2012, a long-term goal of arresting or even reversing my osteoporosis, and a somewhat nebulous goal of getting stronger. But I lacked a short-term goal.

I needed something to serve as motivation, and I found my answer in the Curves Smart program. What it entails is the use of a computer to monitor a member’s progress on each of the machines on the circuit. Once a participant is programmed into the system, she gets ongoing feedback on each machine as she operates it, including range of motion and energy expended. Green lights appear when a goal is being met, and yellow when it’s not. At the end of the workout, a member gets a report.

Upon learning of the program, I knew I’d found what I needed to spur me on. I signed up, got my cute little avatar, and set about working out.

I’d love to tell you that everything was wonderful from the outset, but I don’t like to tell tales. Well, I do like to write stories, but you get my point.

The first workout after signing up for Curves Smart was brutal. I was tripping over my tongue after completing only half of the first of two trips around the circuit. In the past I’d been able to dance jigs on the recovery boards stationed between each machine. That day I struggled to walk in place.

But I had a goal. Each time I got into position on a new machine, I knew I’d see those green or yellow lights, and I wanted to see green. Actually I wanted to see blinking green lights, which is what appears when I’ve exceeded my goal.

Once again I have a short-term goal and am motivated.

My intermediate goals have become twofold. When I reach the step machine with its heart rate monitor I don’t want to see red, which tells me I’m exceeding my target rate. At the end of my workout, when I go to the computer, I want all the dots on my cute little avatar lady (who looks as young as I feel =) to glow green, telling me I’ve met my goals for each muscle group indicated.

One week into Curves Smart I reached that milestone, and the entire room knew it because I let out a rather impressive squeal for a person my size. Now I go for green each time I workout. Having goals serves as motivation.

• • •

What motivates you?

Do you find that having goals gets you moving?

Are you a fan of setting short-, intermediate-, and long-term goals?

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Keli Gwyn
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