Kelly Flowers


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How To Write A Book – 5 Tips For Using Beta Readers

Screen Shot 2018-01-08 at 8.36.58 PM

*Note: This blog is for those using FREE beta readers, as in.. favors from friends or friends of friends. If you are paying beta readers, many of these points will not apply. But you’re not paying for beta readers, are you???

  1. That Which Should Not Be Named

The first time I asked a couple of people to beta read my book, I sensed their hesitation. I wasn’t sure if this was because they thought I was a terrible writer (because as a writer, I ponder this question Every. Single. Day.) Maybe they didn’t want to devote time to what could be an awful read. I knew they liked to read, after all. That’s why I chose them.

Then one friend said, “I don’t think I’m qualified to beta read.”

To which I replied, “I just need you to read it and give me feedback on things like plot and character and such.

“Oh!” she said. “I can do that!”

And I realized the problem. The term “beta reader” implies some prowess of critical reading that only a professional would have. But the fact is, beta reading is giving an overall impression of the work. Maybe just scrap the term unless your beta reader is in the writing world.

I told my friend. “Just imagine you’re one of those reviewers on who leave detailed and scrutinizing criticism of the books they’ve read. (And your feedback might save me a few scathing reviews someday)” Now, if I could just get my hands on a few of those Amazon reviewers! They would tell it like it is! Which leads me to my next point…

  1. Don’t Ask Your Mother

Mothers Make Better Fans Than Critics


Mothers Make Better Critics Than Fans

mother dear

Either way, your mother (whether she be adoring or unpleasable) will never be your target audience because she changed your poopy diapers and listened to your lisp until you were 5. She is too close to you and your work. (Maybe she is even IN your work a little.)

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New Years – How To Find More Time

After drinking our champagne at dawn, my husband could not stop congratulating himself on his artsy photography skills.

It’s that time of year again! Time to careen into January full of gusto and resolve. So what if we sputter halfway into February. That’s a whole month (and one twelfth of a year) of progress. That has to be worth something!

It seems like just yesterday I was writing last years new years blog, “Resolutions” Don’t Work. I get really excited about this. My readers, all five of them, know that New Years is one of my favorite holidays.

Once, I saw something on HONY (for those of you that are not up on HONY, I’m obsessed with him. It stands for Humans of New York and this photojournalist, Brandon Stanton, walks the streets and takes people’s pictures, telling little bits of their conversation. I’ve followed him for years and its always poignant and powerful and I feel he miraculously reveals a bit of soul in two or three lines of conversation. Readers, all five of you, follow him! You’ll thank me.)

So back to my point… Years ago, there was a post of a woman. She said something like… (Excuse the lack of verbatim. This is how I remember it.)

“I have this theory. We are all given the same amount of time but time is a subjective concept. So if things in our lives are always changing, it feels like we get “more” time.” Continue reading


How NOT To Write A Novel – No Pressure, No Progress

Writing, for most, is not their day job. I do write for a living and therefore feel entitled to this sketchy analogy.

Writing for work (aka your day job) and writing for fun (aka your literary masterpiece) are like having a child or a puppy, respectively. With your child, you have a schedule. School, dentists, doctors and soccer games. If you don’t make your deadlines, you’ll have CPS or a truancy board after you.

But your novel is like a puppy. It was a choice that brings you great joy and anguish and tests your discipline and resolve. And you can be as diligent as you want (as long as you feed it) If you do a lazy job raising your puppy, you’ll just have a jerk of a dog.

After a long day of parenting, training a puppy doesn’t rank high on the joy list. Just as, after a long day of work, carving out a couple hours to work on our manuscript sounds exhausting (especially if you’re STILL editing 😞)

It’s easy to put it off. And then put it off again. Because there’s always tomorrow, right?

Welllllll, let me tell you the difference between work writing and hobby writing for me.



This is great if you are UBER disciplined. You have probably already put yourself on a schedule. You’re probably already adhering to your deadlines. (Good. For. You.) and (Whatever.)

But if you’re like me, Continue reading

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How NOT To Write A Novel – To Plan or Not To Plan, That is The Question

tmhnksI began writing a book the way you probably shouldn’t. I sat down and thought, “Hey let’s describe this cool place” and “let’s develop this random character. Yes, this is fun. Look at me! Writing a book!”

I didn’t have a plan. I didn’t even have a plot! There was a character I really liked so I started to write around him and brainstormed as I went. Geniuses write this way, I’m told. I, however, am not a genius so what this produced from me was lots of pretty dribble. I can say that now. And the problem is, it took me a long time to figure out that it was dribble. (I am comforted by the fact it was pretty dribble at least).

There are a thousand ways to go about writing a book. I’ve polled a small population of authors and come to this…

You can Plan. Plan. Plan. Engineers-turned-writers work this way. They chart their course and check their charts and set sail under a favorable moon. The danger in this is that some never set sail at all. Or that its not all that captivating.

Then there’s the creative types, writing freestyle, letting their inner genius keep them afloat in the open ocean. Everyone wants to be this type, I think. I know I did. Partially because I’d love to discover I happened to be a genius and just didn’t know. And also because, I realize now, I’m lazy.

Write an outline and a bunch of character profiles?

Bah. Just start writing and see where it takes you.

Scrawl a bunch of different story arcs? Character arcs?

Isn’t it more fun to just sit down and write? I mean, this is supposed to be fun, right?

As you can see, I had a lot to learn. I do have to say, having employed this method, it kept me going. If I reached a snag in my storyline, no problem. I’d just skip it. I’ll figure it out later, I’d say. Now, let’s describe this weather. (#FunnyNotFunny) But what I was left with was lots of meandering description and no pace. And it is ALL ABOUT PACE. And here I am, post humorously trying to write my story arc and plot points. And you know what, I’m going to be rewriting A LOT.

A friend of mine has an interesting writing technique. She writes half the book, then writes beats (the chapter by chapter synopsis of what is happening) and then she rewrites the whole thing, like new characters, new plot, everything!

“All that time wasted!” I said when she told me her method. “No,” she said. “This is my process. It’s how I write a better book.” So I started to think about that. There have been times I’ve wanted to start all over. Literally, scrap this book and start fresh. That, my friends, is also laziness. Because the real grief is in the editing.

And what constitutes wasted time anyway? What is a long time to write a book? Some people do it in a month. (#NaNoWriMo) Some prolific authors turn out a new book every few months and they’re best sellers. Some craft their masterpiece for years, boiling their ideas down to syrupy delicious prose. If you finish a book… and it is good, is any of your blood sweat and tears (and more tears) wasted?

If you’re like me, you’ve read about Stephen King’s method and Diana Gabaldon’s method and Elizabeth Gilbert’s method. Prolific, best selling authors to learn from. And there is still no right way. We just have to do it wrong a few times until we find the easiest way.


laziness meme


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“Resolutions” Never Work

(I started this blog a couple of days ago and then, well… you know, I put it aside. Procrastination, you old nemesis! 2017 is going to be on your a$$!)

Pre-New Year’s Eve Post

Now is a good time to eat pie. Because pretty soon, my New Year resolutions won’t allow it. After the cooking and serving and saran-wrapping, you can’t see the fridge light. And then, eating leftovers becomes a bit of a goal. Each Tupperware emptied, an accomplishment. You can see how this line of thinking gets out of hand. I am nothing if not goal-oriented, for some suuuper important things, like emptying the fridge.

Soon will NOT be the time to eat pie, it will be to deny thyself. Whether it be donuts, laziness or procrastination, the New Year is about doing what you don’t want to do (like an early morning run) and not doing what you want to do (like eat ice cream and watch Westworld until 2am). Ah, the constant battle that divides doers and, well, non-doers.

I’m ready (after I finish this piece of pie) to hit the ground running. I’ll spend the next couple of days writing what I call resolutions but are really goals. There’s an important difference. Resolutions say “do better”. Goals say “here is a step to do better”. So I don’t do resolutions. I DO goals. But I really like the word “resolution” so I still use it.

Now it’s time to flurry into action putting away my Clark Griswold Christmas because 2017 doesn’t have room for that kind of chaos! Continue reading

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8 Ways To Work The Writing Critique Group

Teenagers and Writing Critique Groups = Creativity Killersscared-face

Remember being a teenager? It seemed you had to hide any bit of individuality from the mob of your peers and their judgy-ness.

Maybe that was just me. It wasn’t weird that I quoted Shakepeare, danced to swing music and carried vocabulary flashcards in my purse. No. Not weird.

I have teenagers now and guess what? They’re still judgy! And I’m still weird. (I’m told this constantly.) But now, I like my weird. We’ve grown attached to each other. We clique off and snicker about our critics. In my head, we ARE the popular kids.

I’m all grown up now. But writing critique groups can kill creativity in much the same way as the high school mean girls can.

The first time I went to a writers critique group. I was young, not much older than a teenager, really. The group met in an adorable bohemian café that had ombre walls, sold forty different types of tea and had jam poetry sessions that packed the place. This is being a writer, I said to myself. How romantic! Continue reading

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How To Write Consistently – Location, Location, Location!

I once told a fellow writer that every time I sit down, I feel like a different person and my work reflects it. My multiple personalities bloat my writing with their twisted humor, inflated description, gushing prose or snarky syntax. Whoever shows up that day.

“It depends on how caffeinated I am or how quiet it is or whether my dishes are done,” I said wistfully. “How do I write an entire book if I can’t even keep my scattered brain in line?”

My friend replied, “What is your workspace like? Where do you normally write?” Errrr. I did that embarrassed side-pursed-lips thing that you do when someone asks what you do to workout, then replied, “Wherever I guess. Cafes, the library, bed, my kitchen table.” She nodded knowingly.

So, apparently we writers are supposed to keep our environment stable if we want the tone of our writing to be consistent. I hope not EVERYONE here is like “duh” because this had actually never occurred to me. It makes sense, I just thought it was one of those in your perfect world scenarios. Continue reading