AMA - You Ask, Bethany Answers!



Hey, loves!

So, it is the AMA portion of the week which means everything you're wondering about, I try to answer. I am a little late getting this up today - had a lot of things to do.

I thought this week I would focus on one kind of question or a general topic - mostly writing, process, and publishing.

Because I know a few of you are wondering.

You can drop your Q's for me HERE.

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1. I would have to definitely say you are a "super mom." How do you get so much writing done daily and hit your deadlines that you set for yourself? I'm sure 3 growing boys and a hubby plus keeping the household intact is insanely tiring.  Being a stay at home mom of 3 girls, hubby and fur baby  constantly keeps me busy and I don't even write...just read. Lol. 

Hi there!

I actually have four growing boys - Rohan (8), Lexan (6), Carson (3) and Devon (9 months). And three dogs, and one cat. Plus a husband, but he might as well be put into the kid category anyway. Shouldn't most men? Haha.

I actually get asked this question a lot more than people might think - but I usually get it from other writers, like, "How do I find time to write? I have no time (something along this line, and add reason why here)."

And this my answer - you find time, and you do it. If this is what you want, then you made a real, conscious effort to sit down every single day and write, or improve your craft. Maybe it's when you drop the one hour bath you take every other night as a relaxing time and use it to write. Or the hour before bed that you used to use to read. Or you swap out the television show you love so much every Thursday. Maybe you get up an extra hour earlier than the kids every day. Maybe you chose to write instead of go out to the movies, with your friends, or to dinner three times a week. There is time in the day, and you have to find it.

If you want it bad enough, you find the time. You make the time.

Anything less, and it's excuses.

And so, that's how I am. I don't make excuses for myself. I get up before the kids and write. I break for an hour to get them off to school, feed the baby, and get the two youngest set up for the morning, and then I get back to work. I am typically done before noon. And then at night when my kids go back to bed, I write for a couple of hours then, too. Usually on something different from what I worked on in the morning.

I work seven days straight, and then take one day off.

I don't make excuses.

I just write.

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2. Obviously, the stories are fictional... BUT how did you prepare/research writing about the mafia and bratva? Since picking up your books and a few other mafia series I love...I was curious so I googled the mafia (Disclaimer: I swear I’m not a violent person) lol. Nothing interesting came up though so I was curious as to where you drew your inspo from! 

I have used everything from documentaries to internet to wikipedia (not always accurate) to even released interviews and court transcripts from real court cases with mobsters, or FBI interviews. You also have to know what you're searching for on the internet to actually have something come up, and just typing in a certain kind of mafia isn't going to help.

I focus on specific names in the mafia world. I look into real histories of real families, real bosses, real wives, kids, and more. I take details from those real people and real events, and weave them into my fictional world - sometimes as a nod to a mobster or family I respect, and sometimes because it seems so unreal, I just want to have it in a book - like Gian's grandfather being killed by a sniper shot through a bedroom window. Real event - happened to the Canadian Cosa Nostra boss. And then a war broke out because of it, just like it did in Guzzi Duet.

I also draw inspiration from my life, and the people I have met along the way. I draw inspiration from a picture, from a song, or from a bird in the sky. It comes from everywhere.

And sometimes, research isn't meant to be interesting.

It's meant to be correct.

And you know, more authors would benefit from making the effort.

But you didn't ask that.

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3. I’m a budding writer and I was curious about how you flesh out the storyline. In many ways, I find myself struggling with the details and build-up to a climax. How do you work that out?  

Writers usually fall into one of two categories - either they fly by the seat of their pants when they write and work as stuff comes to them with no real outline, or they outline every little last detail they can.

I used to be the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type. I am now an outlining writer because it allows me to write faster when I never have to wonder about what comes next -- it's already right there for me to know and do.

I am also different in this way - I don't really have to flesh out my books. They come to me in my head as like mini movies, and I go from that. I just jot down the mini movies to get them out of my head and make room for something else.

So, I don't think I am good to answer this question that would personally help you just because my process is so different that this isn't something I do/struggle with.

I do, however, use what I call beats when I plot out a chapter. And that means - consider every chapter to be like a minature story within your book. Each chapter should have a beginning, middle, and end. There should be conflict or something that happens which moves one scene in a chapter into the next scene of that chapter. And at the end of the chapter? It should end in such a way that makes the reader unable to close the book because they need to know what is going to come next.

And then you take that formula, and you apply it to the book as a whole.

Your book needs a beginning, middle, and end.

The beginning needs to introduce, and have an inciting event. And then when you're nearing the end of the beginning, you need to have what is usually referred to as a plot twist, or a dramatic point.

Enter the middle. This is basically where tension ramps up. More stuff starts to happen. Another plot twist, something that makes it seem even more difficult for your couple to get together - something that pushes them apart again, or whatever the case may be. Typically there's two of these in the middle.

And then you have the end section. One last hard plot twist/bad moment that then moves the characters into the black moment which is when we think all is lost. BUT something great happens in which they win, or figure a way back together, and then you get to write your HEA.

So, try this formula when you're plotting, and keep it in mind. It might help for you to flesh out what you feel like you're missing.

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4. Hey BK! Would just like to ask for some tips for newbie writers who want to try and self-publish their work. Thanks so much and I hope I get a response. :) 

Hi there!

I don't necesarily have a list of things you should do or a go-to formula for self-publishing. But here are a few things that came to mind:

Do write the best book you can.
And then write a better one.
Never stop writing.
Write every day.
Have a great cover - hire someone, spend the money. People have bought my books having never known my name or what the book was even about simply because of the cover. I know you may think you can do a decent cover - please just save two dollars a day until you finish writing your book and then go hire a cover artist. I'm not even kidding.
Get a decent editor.
Never engage bad reviews.
Hell, don't read reviews. Seriously, don't. You'll be all high from the great ones and find one bad one and it will suck for days. Weeks, even. I'm not kidding - stay away.
Do research - I can tell when you don't, and I am the type who literally won't look twice at an author again when they do a piss poor job about research. Not even ashamed about it.
Don't ever give up.
Don't expect shit - not to be successful right away, not to hit a list, not to have a huge fan base from book 1. BUT MOST ESPECIALLY  - do not expect for the authors you loved/pimped/whatever while you were a reader to be the first people to shout your books to the rooftops. That's not how this business worked, and absolutely nobody did that for us. We worked our asses off to get here - and so will you. If we like your book, we will probably review it, and share it for our fans to see. Hope for the best, it's really all you can do.
Treat this like a hobby, it will be one.
Treat it like a job, it'll be one.
Care less about what people think, and worry more about what you want.
Writing is only partially about knowing how to write, and technical garbage - it's a hell of a lot of talent, too, and do not let anyone tell you different.
Protect your writing time.
Find a great PR company, and make relationships with bloggers.
Stay away from Goodreads (at least on your own book's pages).
Don't rank-watch your new release. A watched pot never boils.
Keep going.
Always keep going.

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5. How important is for an author to have reviews for his/her book?Does that really help when it comes to selling the product? 

Well ... yes and no.

And also it depends on who you ask.

And also it depends on the vendor.

I sell books on iTunes, Kobo, and Barnes and Noble without barely any reviews over there. I also tend to find on Amazon my books sell better when I have 30+ reviews. There's also this algorithm thing with Amazon where the more reviews and the higher rating you have, the more visibility they afford your title.

You know what else?

A book page with fifty reviews is far prettier than a book page with zero reviews.

Because there's more to look at. Because it makes a reader stay a little longer on a page, and give things a second look. Because some people won't buy a book unless there's at least one 3-star review for them to read because they don't trust all four and five stars.

And if you think I am kidding, I am not.

So, are reviews important?
Do they sell books?
Do you need them?

For me, that's a yes. Invest in building an ARC team.

For other authors, they will tell you know.

So, what can you do.


Okay, loves, that's all for this week!

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