Spotlight on Author Laura Bingham ...

Today, we're putting a spotlight on author Laura Bingham, who was one of the first to join our Trifecta family with her young adult contemporary novel, Dancing with Black She lives in Idaho with her very supportive husband and five kids, and she has taught dance for twenty years. This experience really shines through in Dancing with Black. Click here to read her reviews - she's got a lot of really happy fans out there.

Laura also writes fantasy, as evidenced with her successful Älvor series. You can learn more about her by clicking here

I asked Laura a little bit about the inspiration behind Dancing with Black and what 's coming next. Here's what she had to say:

"Dancing with Black was a way for me to express the miracle that dancing was for me in my life.  Sometimes people compartmentalize things and pretend there is no correlation between experiences and who you end up being, but for me, dancing was something that pulled me through a dark time in my life.  

"I had a version of Adam Black in my life - not a love story version, but the version where he saw my potential and pulled me into a world where anything seemed possible.  I went from not having any formal dance lessons to being on the dance team at my high school, taking ballet lessons, being on the championship clogging team, performing at pageants and performing with city musicals as a dancer.  All because he saw something in me that he knew could help me become more.

"That experience led me to college scholarships and eventually to the life I have now.  

"As for what I'm working on now...this Saturday I will have completed my master's degree.  That's what I am really working on right now.  I just finished the final installment of the Alvor series and am excited to start editing a manuscript, well, two manuscripts that I have finished.  I have another idea for a contemporary young adult romantic novel that I am super excited to start writing.  I told myself I couldn't start on that book until I finished my master's.  I'm almost there!  I can't wait to write a ton again.  I miss it!"
You can pick up Dancing with Black on Kindle here and in print here
Welcome to Trifecta Books, publisher of middle-grade and clean young adult contemporary novels. We're also proud to announce the launch of the Sweet and Clean Romance Collection. We are a full-service publishing company that offers a multi-step editing process, great covers, distribution for both print and e-book, and competitive royalty rates. 

We invite you to browse and learn more about us. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us at info.trifectabooks@gmail.com. 

We are now accepting submissions for e-book only publication. Please visit the submissions tab above for more information.  

We also invite you to scroll down and view our blog posts, designed to guide you on your publishing journey wherever the road might take you.

Don't Take This the Wrong Way ...

I've been thinking about the importance of honest criticism. Not the kind offered with an upturned nose and a jealous sniff (given by said upturned nose) but instead the kind that is given when someone genuinely wants to help you succeed. So often, we take offense when someone criticizes our work. It's understandable - for a writer, to truly write is to open up a portion of our guts and expose them to the world, making us all that more vulnerable to criticism when we get it.

But it's so important to listen to feedback from others. I have been saved from silly mistakes countless times by friends who had the courage to point them out to me. It doesn't matter how good you are - there's no such thing as writing a book without flaw. You must ask others to help you hone and perfect it. After spending so many hours/days/months and even years staring at the same words, you get blind to them.

Think about the poor critic, how they are essentially taking their lives in their hands by virtue of the fact that they have chosen to share their honest opinion. Often they are the recipient of harsh words. They're told that "they just don't understand." And yet, how often is their advice exactly what the writer needs to hear?

Three examples from the movies come to mind immediately, and while they are all fictionalized, they are familiar enough to all of us that I feel they make my point easily.

1. Little Women (1994) - Jo has gone to New York to put some space between herself and Laurie after turning down his proposal. She has been writing sensational stories to sell to the newspapers, and has brought in enough money to supplement her family's dwindling income. She's proud of her work, but when she shows it to Fredric Baher, the German professor who lives in her apartment building, he expresses his sorrow that she's not writing about herself and from the heart. She lambasts him, telling him that her family needs her income and that the newspapers want the kinds of things she writes. His words cut her deeply, because he touched on a truth she already knew - she needed to write something serious. Not too long after that, she begins the manuscript for "Little Women."


2. Anne of Avonlea (1987) - Anne Shirley has always wanted to be a famous novelist, and she has been working for a long time on a romantic novel. Her good friend Gilbert Blythe teases her, telling her that she should stop writing all this high-falutin' mumbo jumbo, stories where the men pitch and moon and never really say what they're trying to say. Anne is furious and refuses to speak to him, but by the end of the movie, she has written a book about Avonlea, realizing how right Gilbert was.


3. Becoming Jane (2007) - Jane Austen writes long-winded poetry that, while beautifully crafted, puts Tom Lefroy to sleep. He tells her that she needs to experience more of life before she can truly write, and tries to corrupt her (in a very charming way). He gives her a copy of Tom Jones to read, and while it shocks her (as it should) she realizes that she can't pretend knowledge of things she knows nothing about. Later in life, as she becomes famous for her work, there's a moment of recognition that Tom had indeed helped her learn those lessons she was sadly missing, even if it was to add poignancy to her stories through loss.

Never discount the importance of someone's honest opinion. You may choose to reject it, and it's your right to do so. But weigh it. Decide why you're rejecting it. Is it out of pride, or do you truly not think it will work for your book? Good criticism, given with the intent to help and not hurt, is a writer's best tool to smooth out the rough patches and create a fabulous work of art.

Before You Send Your Manuscript Out to Readers ...

Before your manuscript is ready to be sent to an editor, it should be read by several readers. These readers can be made up of your friends, family, other aspiring authors, or published authors. 

You're excited because you know how close you are to being ready for submission . . . you'll get feedback, you'll make the suggested changes, and you're finished, right? Well, pretty close. But don't think this step is going to be a piece of cake. That's a mistake a lot of writers make - they hurry and get the manuscript out to readers before it's really ready.

Here are some tips to help you get that manuscript as ready for readers as you possibly can - keeping in mind that if you take out the glaring problems now, your readers will have an easier time spotting the more complex problems.

1. Go through and do a search for "was." Most of the time, when the word "was" is used, you can change it to more of an active voice. Instead of saying, "She was sitting on the porch," say "She sat on the porch." This brings your reader into closer contact with the story, and it eliminates the repetitive use of "was." Unless, of course, you need to indicate a time sequence. "She was sitting on the porch when the car pulled up" indicates that the two things happened at the same time. If you say, "She sat on the porch when the car pulled up," that indicates that she saw the car while she was standing up and then sat as it parked. So don't eliminate "was" if it's indicating an important time sequence, but get rid of it as often as you can.

2. Go through and do a search for "that." Most of the time, "that" is used when it's not needed. "She thought that he'd be there to pick her up at three." Take it out and see what you've got ... "She thought he'd be there to pick her up at three." It's the same thing, but "that" gets repetitive and makes your sentences wordy. However, don't take them out when they're needed, because in some sentences, they do play an important role.

3. Go through and make sure all your punctuation is still there. I've noticed when I edit for people that as they take out words they've been told to take out, sometimes the punctuation gets taken along with it, erased accidentally by the cursor being in the wrong place.

4. Go through and take out fully 3/4 of your adverbs. Keep only the ones that are absolutely needed - most are indicated by the context, anyway, and aren't necessary.

There you have it - four steps to help make your manuscript ready for readers. These aren't the only things to watch out for - there are many - but these are the most common mistakes and the most common detractors from the story. With these things out of the way, your readers will be able to concentrate on the things that remain and help you polish the story until it shines.

What Are Narrative and Exposition?

These two terms are somewhat confusing in the industry because they're rarely defined when they are used. Here's a quick definition, in case you've always wondered. 

Narrative -- narrative links the dialogue together. For instance: Tom crossed the floor and picked up the antique vase, wondering where it had come from.

Exposition -- exposition tells us what happened in the past and catches us up-to-date. For instance: When he'd been working as an excavator in Mexico, he'd seen some artwork that reminded him of the designs on this vase. But in Mexico, his mind had been on anything but art. Instead, his days and nights had been consumed by thoughts of a certain dark-eyed girl and the way she flicked her hair over her shoulder as she walked away from him. Always walking away from him.

Essentially, narrative tells us what's going on now and exposition tells us what did go on, a little while ago. It's a past and present thing.