16 Good habits for writers to model

16 Good habits for writers to model

Sent by Angie Noll

My partner has this annoying habit of saying, “What the fuck!” when he doesn’t understand things, like people driving at 40km/h or having to pay a lot more for something than he thinks it’s worth.

One day, when my youngest daughter, Gabbi, was around three years old, we were at the playground when another mom politely turned to her and asked if she wanted a turn on the swing. My sweet little Gabbi, with her innocent dark eyes and long, black hair, flowing down her back, looked up at this nice lady and said, “What the fuck?”

Clearly, Gabbi misunderstood the use of the term WTF.

During my Psychology studies, we learnt a lot about how people learn, and one of the most primitive learning strategies that all humans share, is simply modelling the behaviour of others. That’s how babies and young children learn, after all, and it’s how Gabbi learnt that phrase – by modelling my partner. (She has since unlearnt it, and my partner is being re-trained to say, “What on earth?” instead of WTF.)

I came across this concept of modelling again while I was doing a Neuro-Linguistic Programming course, but this time it was discussed in the context of what highly successful people do all the time. People at the top of their game in any given field regularly model the behaviour of those who are even higher up the ladder than they are in order to improve their skills.

The reason why modelling is such an effective learning strategy is simple – why re-invent the wheel? If someone else already knows how to do what it is that you are learning to do, then modelling his or her strategy makes good sense. (Note, modelling is not the same as copying. Copying is cheating and it implies taking short cuts to avoid having to do the work. Modelling is observing what works, and then adapting that strategy into your own life by doing the work that is required of you.)

As writers, we can model other writers who are good at any aspect of the writing life that we’re struggling with, be it writing or publishing strategy, coping with stress and anxiety, overcoming limiting beliefs …. Whatever it is you need, there’s a writer out there to learn from. All you have to do is find him or her.

(And remember to be discerning with which behaviours you choose to model – a lesson my little Gabbi is still learning!)

I’ve compiled a list of habits that some famous authors developed in their own writing lives to help them along. See which ones you can model to improve your writing or the areas of your life affected by it. (If an author is well known for his/her strategy, then I’ve placed his or her name next to it. If many authors use this technique, then I didn’t attribute it to anyone in particular.)

  1. Always stop writing when you know what’s going to happen next. (Ernest Hemmingway.)
  1. Creating a daily routine so that the repetition of the routine becomes your way of settling in to write. The routine itself becomes mesmerizing. (Haruki Murakami.)
  1. Learn to work amongst distractions and noise. (E.B. White.)
  1. Henry Miller has a lot of good ideas to model in his book, “Henry Miller On Writing.”
  • Work on one thing at a time until finished.
  • Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.
  • Work according to Program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time!
  • Cement a little every day, rather than add new fertilizers.
  • Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it.
  • Discard the Program when you feel like it—but go back to it next day.  Narrow down. Exclude.
  • Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are
  • Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards.
  1. Be willing to write badly. (Julia Cameron)
  1. Similar to number 5 above – You can’t edit a blank page. (Jody Picoult.)
  1. Find a way to procrastinate and fidget that works for you but doesn’t interfere with your writing. Maya Angelo talks about having playing cards and crossword puzzles to keep her Little Mind occupied while her Big Mind thinks about the things she wants to think about. In fact, many writers talk about the ritualistic things they do before writing, just to get settled, whether it’s having a cup of tea or checking emails and social media.
  1. Become comfortable with throwing lots of writing away. “I have to write hundreds of pages before I get to page one.” (Barbara Kingsolver.)
  1. “Turn off your cell phone.” (Nathan Englander.) I would add to close the email and social media tabs on your laptop as well.
  1. Learn to write in a variety of settings, such as coffee shops, in the car, on the train, amongst their children and in the silence of an empty house. A.J. Jacobs, for instance, wrote while walking on the treadmill. He says it took him 1,200 miles to write his book!
  1. Learn to write whether you feel like it or not.
  1. Good writers get into a writing habit, and they actively create inspiration and good ideas when their creativity seems to have dried up.
  1. Cultivate a good physical exercise routine. Writing is a sedentary activity that is not only unhealthy for your body but also for your creative spirit. Writers are famous for being good walkers, for instance, but any physical activity will do. (Julia Cameron, Henry David Thoreau, Charles Dickens, J.K. Rowling…)
  1. Discipline yourself. Writing might seem like something that writers do when the inspiration strikes, but most good writers are disciplined about it. It doesn’t matter whether you write for twenty minutes every day or five hours. Be disciplined about it.
  1. Be prepared to practice – even after you’ve been published. Just like fine artists practice the basics of brush strokes and shading techniques every day, pianists practice their scales, singers do voice exercises before every singing session and even soccer players practice ball skills and sprinting, so must writers be prepared to practice writing. Do a paragraph of descriptive writing, write some dialogue, enroll in a writing course, listen to an interview with an established writer, copy out pages from a novel by your favorite writer or Google writing prompts and do one every now and again.
  1. Read good books. I always thought this was an obvious pre-requisite for a writer, but apparently it isn’t. If I had a dollar for every person that I meet that “wants to be a writer” but who doesn’t read anything, I’d be rich. And yet, this is one of the most fundamental tools in your writing kit. Read, read and read — but make sure what you’re reading is good writing!

I’m an Intuitive Life coach originally from Johannesburg, South Africa. I combine life coaching with guidance that I receive from the Angels and my Guides. I work with people from all over the world via Skype, and am passionate about helping people move forward with their creative dreams. Other than my work, I’m passionate about writing and teaching people how to use their intuition. I’m also a regular Ashtanga yoga practitioner and meditator. I live with my two daughters and my partner, our dog, cat and guinea pigs in a happy but noisy (and rickety) little house at the edge of a cliff in Auckland, New Zealand.

 

 

Find Angie, her inspirational writing and her courses for creatives in these places:

AngieNoll.com — SkillsharePost Haste on Medium.com — Facebook — TUT.com

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Tips for writing good story endings

Tips for writing good story endings

Sent by Suzanne Lieurance

Many writers have trouble coming up with the perfect ending for a story.

And the perfect ending is really important because it is often the ending of a story that people remember most.

That’s because a good ending ties everything together and leaves the reader feeling satisfied.

To write good story endings, keep these tips in mind:

1.  A good ending is made possible by having a good beginning and a good middle. 

If you’re having trouble with the ending of your story, go back and look at your beginning and middle. What is the BIG thing your main character is trying to do or solve at the start of the story? Is it clear throughout the story that your character is trying to solve this problem?

Everything in the beginning and middle of your story needs to relate to this problem. When it does, it will be much easier to come up with the perfect ending. If it doesn’t, you won’t be able to create the perfect ending to your story.

Try this: Write down, in one or two sentences, what the main conflict is in your story. If you have trouble doing this, you probably need to get clearer about the main story problem.

2. Your ending should come about because of the actions and events we see in the beginning and the middle of your story.

For example, don’t have some character we’ve never seen before suddenly appear at the end of the story to help the main character solve the problem or solve it for him. This won’t make for a satisfying ending.

If you want to have another character help the main character at the end, we need to see this character in the middle of the story, not just the ending. Also remember that the ending needs to come about because of action or actions the main character did or did not take. Things can’t simply happen to the main character by chance. And someone else can’t simply step in and save the day for your main character. Things need to happen because of actions and decisions the main character makes throughout the story.

3. Make sure you have plenty of conflict (rising action) that leads to the climax and ending of the story.

Endings tend to fall flat if there isn’t plenty of conflict in the middle of the story, with all sorts of decisions and actions the main character faces before he’s able to solve or resolve the overall problem.

4. Good endings evoke some sort of emotion in the reader.

To write endings that do this, start by reading other published stories in the genre you wish to write. See how they ended and how you felt at the ending. Make a few notes about how the authors evoked these emotions. You’ll have to practice writing endings that cause readers to feel emotions, so take your time.

When you have a clear problem that is evident throughout the story, and plenty of conflict throughout the story as the main character tries to solve this problem, it is much easier to create the perfect ending to your story –an ending that evokes emotion from your reader and leaves him feeling satisfied.

So follow these tips until you come up with an ending for your story that is just right!

Try it!

And to get more writing tips and helpful resources every weekday morning, get your free subscription to The Morning Nudge.

 

Suzanne Lieurance is an author, freelance writer, writing coach, speaker and workshop presenter. She is a former classroom teacher and was an instructor for the Institute of Children’s Literature for over 8 years.

Lieurance has written over 30 published books and her articles and stories have appeared in various magazines, newsletters, and newspapers. She offers a variety of coaching programs via private phone calls, teleclasses, listserv, and private email for writers who want to turn their love of writing into a part-time or full-time career at www.workingwriterscoach.com. She is also president and founder of The Working Writer’s Club at www.workingwritersclub.com.

Find Suzanne and her writing in these places:

Working Writers’ Coach — Amazon.comAmazon.ca — Goodreads — Facebook — Twitter

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Who’s afraid of the Big, Blank Page?

Who’s afraid of the Big, Blank Page?

Sent by Angie Noll

Little Red Riding Hood might have been afraid of the Big Bad Wolf, but writers are often terrified of something far more innocuous… a simple piece of white paper (or blank screen).

There have been times in my writing life when crossing paths with Little Red’s wolf would have been preferable to the task of committing words and ideas to the page. I know I’m not the only one.

As new writers, the first thing we often do is make a pit stop at our local stationary store to indulge our inner writer with a basket of lovely writing goodies. Armed with our new, sparkly notebook and special, easy-flow writing pen in hand, we proceed to write up a storm.

Then, one day, we notice how much we’ve written, and we realise, ‘I am a writer!’ And with these four little words, everything changes. The next time we open our notebook, we find ourselves staring at the blank page, unable to write a thing. What happened?

Why is it so often easy, right at the beginning, to fill page after page, but once we become aware that we’re actually writing, that creativity freezes up and the words stop flowing? The same phenomenon happens when we start off writing casually, but once we decide to take it to the next level, we lose the delicious abandon we had before.

The answer lies in our innocence. When we’re still new to the process of writing, we don’t know yet that writing is one of those tasks that we purposefully engage in while simultaneously letting go of any form of control over the process; that it’s a balancing act between control and surrender.

It’s when we try to control the writing process that the blank page turns from a friendly wolf into a snarling beast and, unlike Little Red, (who seemed to lack all common sense), we run away from it, screaming, “I can’t write!”

Before we self-identify as a writer, we’re naturally able to control and surrender in the right proportions – because we have no expectations of ourselves. But once we label ourselves as writers, that natural ability seems to fly out the window as all attention is now myopically focused on controlling the writing process.

So it’s not really the blank page that sends us fleeing from our writing desk. It’s the unspoken series of expectations that we place upon ourselves, as writers, which we now have to live up to. And, we believe, we can only live up to them by painstakingly trying to control the writing process.

Now, suddenly, we are expected to produce something of worth, something that will satisfy everybody who reads it.

Now, suddenly, we expect our story, our article, our blog post, to be flawless from beginning to end.

Now, suddenly, we expect ourselves to churn out new, excellent and perfect writing at every single writing session, because if we don’t, we tell ourselves that we’re not real writers anymore.

With such an impossible list of expectations that we imagine real writers live up to, it’s no wonder that our creative spirit goes into hiding every time we pick up our pen (no matter how glitzy and cute it is.) If we could surrender to the process of writing, like we did before we labelled ourselves as writers, we would see the folly of our expectations.

We would remember that no piece of writing ever has to satisfy anyone except ourselves.

We would remember that no piece of writing is ever flawless.

We would remember that no piece of writing is ever perfect after the first draft. Or the second. Or the third. Possibly not even after the fourth, fifth or sixth drafts.

The next time you find yourself staring at the blank page too petrified to pen a word, remember the following:

  • Don’t compare yourself to anyone else – novice or professional. Ever.
  • Writing is a journey that the writer goes on. Every time you sit down to write something, it’s like going on a treasure hunt deep into your Self, excavating what’s there and pouring it out into some form of writing. Sometimes you’ll dig up rubbish, sometimes gold.
  • If you’re serious about writing, then be willing to write badly. Bad writing is your training wheels.
  • There is no right way to write. Only your way.

Speaking of the right way to write… If Little Red had used a bit of creativity and found her own path to her granny’s house, instead of using the one that everyone else used, the Big Bad Wolf probably wouldn’t have found her at all. He was just hanging around, knowing there would always be travellers that choose to stay on the straight and narrow path because they’re too afraid to explore what else is out there. Easy pickings for him.

So skip along on your writing journey in your own, unique way. Find a path with scenery that you can enjoy, pick some flowers along the way, and take your time. Don’t allow generalised expectations of what writer’s are supposed to be, or the excessive control that this inspires, distract you from your journey.

Happy Writing!

I’m an Intuitive Life coach originally from Johannesburg, South Africa. I combine life coaching with guidance that I receive from the Angels and my Guides. I work with people from all over the world via Skype, and am passionate about helping people move forward with their creative dreams. Other than my work, I’m passionate about writing and teaching people how to use their intuition. I’m also a regular Ashtanga yoga practitioner and meditator. I live with my two daughters and my partner, our dog, cat and guinea pigs in a happy but noisy (and rickety) little house at the edge of a cliff in Auckland, New Zealand.

 

 

Find Angie and her writing in these places:

AngieNoll.com —  Facebook — TUT.com

The best time to write your fiction book blurb isn’t when you think

The best time to write your fiction book blurb isn’t when you think

Sent by Glenna Mageau

Writing the fiction book blurb is something that many authors don’t think about… until they are finished writing their novels. What if I told you that that might why it’s so difficult to write?

I don’t know about you, but I was taught that when you write a story, you start at the beginning and you write until it’s finished. In other words, you write linearly, from start to end. And I used to do this with all my stories and everything I did with them – I’d do one thing, finish it and then move on to the next.

So, I’d write my novel, do the rewrites, edit, rewrite and then send it out to my beta team. And that’s when I’d start thinking about writing my fiction book blurb. By this time, though, I was so immersed in the novel and all that happened, I didn’t know what to include and what not to. Little did I know I was truly making the whole process more difficult.

Now to be honest, when I do something I do make sure that I am focused on it so that I am doing a good job with it. However, as soon as I stop doing it, whether finished or not, I move on to doing something else.

My old method of waiting until I was finished writing the book, was a big mistake. What it did was give me a lot of extra work to do. I’d have to read back through 95,000 words and try to figure out what to pull from that. What was interesting? What would give a good idea of what my story was about? How was I supposed to put it all together?

Aaaaahhhhh. It used to drive me crazy. I would spend hours, days, weeks working on this thing. It was painful.

Until I finally figured out there was a much simpler way of doing it. When I published my second novel and I discovered I still found writing the fiction book blurb so daunting, I realized I had to figure out why it was so hard. Writing 200 words for an author or writer is really, relatively easy. Writing 200 words that encapsulates 90,000? A whole different story.

After a lengthy journey of studying what makes fiction book blurbs compelling and then figuring out how to do that, I discovered that when I write the fiction book blurb made all the difference.

If I start writing my book description at the same time as I write my novel, here’s what happens:

  1. I am done writing it by the time I’m done writing my novel
  2. My fiction book blurb is so much more compelling and interesting
  3. I can really grab the essence of the story
  4. It is so much easier to know what to pull from the story
  5. I wasn’t overwhelmed by the story – what to include and what not to include.

Having now published four novels, I can honestly say that when I write the fiction book blurb, truly makes all the difference. It is so much easier to write it at the same time as I write my novel. Doing that along with knowing what to pull from my stories has made the process really quite simple. When I’m done writing my novel, I’m done writing my fiction book blurb. In fact, I often have the book description written before I’m 3/4’s finished writing my novel. I love it.

If I can give you a piece of advice — the moment you start writing your novel, ensure that you’re starting to write your fiction book blurb. It will save you time, stress and frustration. And you’ll find it just sounds so much better. So not only will you feel better about what you’ve written but your novel will thank you as well.

How about you? What process do you follow?

Want more tips on writing a fiction book blurb? Sign-up for my free ebook – 3 Keys to Creating a Compelling and Interesting Fiction Book Blurb.

Glenna Mageau an award-winning suspense/thriller author, who works with Indie/Self Published authors to create attention grabbing fiction book blurbs. Her first attempts at writing fiction book blurbs were dismal, time consuming and very stressful. Finally figuring out how to write interesting, compelling and attention grabbing ones, she created a course – Mastering the Art of Writing the Catchy Fiction Book Blurb – to help all Indie/Self-published authors do the same.

 

 

 

Find Glenna and her writing in these places:

GlennaMageau.com — Amazon.comAmazon.ca — GoodreadsFacebookTwitter — Pinterest

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Training your ‘Procrastination Puppy’

Training your ‘Procrastination Puppy’

Sent by Angie Noll

Before we immigrated to New Zealand, we had two little lapdogs of no distinguishable breed – “mutts” would be the best way to describe them. They were super cute, but completely untrainable. We even took them to puppy training classes and the instructor kindly advised us that we were wasting our money (“Just enjoy them, but don’t expect too much from them.”) That’s how untrainable they were. What followed was nearly two decades of trouble with these two fluff balls.

Upon arriving in New Zealand, we had to buy a new puppy to soothe our daughter’s broken heart about leaving the two little mutts, who were ancient by this time, back in South Africa (in the pet cemetery.) We’re still partial to pavement specials, but couldn’t find any over here, so we settled for an adorable black and white Lhasa Apso crossed with a Spoodle – who turned out to be super quick on the uptake and easy to train. What a pleasure!

Being an intuitive, I often receive pictures or hear words in my head from my divine writing coaches when I know I have to write on a particular topic, and when I sat down to think about this article on procrastination, these dogs of mine came to mind.

I shook my head a few times to clear the view and try again (because clearly dogs have nothing to do with writer’s procrastination) but the vision of the dogs was still there.

After giving it some thought, though, I got it. Obviously, dogs have everything to do with procrastination, because when you think about procrastinating as a useful tool, then it’s a lot like puppy training. Hence the idea of a Procrastination Puppy was born.

Keep in mind that puppies themselves aren’t bad – as long as you teach them and stay in control. Otherwise you’re in for a hard time (trust me on this.) But if you spend some time training them, you get to enjoy the benefits of the puppy and you can make it work for you, such as guarding your house, chasing the cat away, and taking you for a lovely walk every day.

A procrastination puppy is no different – train it and reap the benefits.

So, now that you understand that procrastination just needs to be placed on a short leash with you firmly in control of the process, here’s how you go about creating an obedient procrastination puppy instead of a noisy, annoying ankle-biter that chews the furniture and barks at (or bonks) anything that moves.

The Procrastination Ritual (a.k.a Your Procrastination Puppy)

If you suffer from untrained procrastination, you will have noticed that there is a pattern to the process. You can use this pattern to identify your breed of procrastination puppy.

  • Perhaps you feel an uncontrollable urge to wash the dishes or mop the floor when it’s time to sit down and write. But before you do that you realise that the carpets need to be vacuumed and the trash taken out. On your way there, you pass the bathroom and get side-tracked by the toilet that just has to be cleaned right now. If this sounds like you, then your puppy is the one that gets distracted by every squirrel and leaf blowing in the wind at puppy school. In the distance you can hear someone commanding you to “Write!” but you barely registered the word before you’re off again on some other desperately important task. Good luck.
  • Maybe your specific breed is one of those friendly types that likes to socialise and jump on everyone, in which case we can find you chatting in coffee shops, drinking tea at friends’ houses and meeting up with your scrapbooking group instead of putting pen to paper.
  • Some less sociable breeds prefer to escape the confines of the writing room and go on a solitary walkabout the neighbourhood. If this is you, then your writing time is taken up gallivanting around on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and probably Pinterest and email, too.
  • Let’s not forget those sleepy puppies that barely flick a tail when you call them. If this is you, we’ll see you curled up on your couch, watching the telly or, more likely, your limbs twitching as you dream about chasing a story and pinning it down on paper, only to wake up and find yourself with a still empty page in front of you.

Now that you’ve identified your procrastination puppy breed, you know what you like to do when you’re trying to avoid writing. Select a few of those things that won’t take longer than 5-10 minutes. These activities will form your procrastination ritual from now on. Every time you get ready to write, plan to purposefully procrastinate for 5-10 minutes, doing the same few activities every single time.

For example, my procrastination ritual consists of making a cup of tea first, then checking emails and Facebook. This takes about 10 minutes, and after that I’m ready to write.

The procrastination ritual is unbelievably effective – as long as you remain in charge! No chasing squirrels or jumping up and barking at every social opportunity that comes your way. Your selected activities, done in 5-10 minutes, is the only freedom you give your Procrastination Puppy. After that, the puppy is tired and will go to sleep, and you will sit down and write.

The Benefits of a well-trained Procrastination Puppy

  • Rituals are very soothing to the anxiety that creeps up when writing time approaches. Knowing that you can sit down and procrastinate before you are expected to write that killer first paragraph is immensely comforting.
  • If you know beforehand what you want to write about, you’ll find ideas sneaking into the backdoor of your consciousness – words that sound just right, a first sentence to get you going, an analogy or a thought that takes you deeper into your writing topic. That’s the real beauty of the procrastination ritual – it soothes your conscious mind and your inner critic, tricking it into submission, giving your subconscious and creative mind a chance to get a few words in edgeways before you hit the page.
  • You get more out of your writing time, which is often precious little, so while it might seem like you’re wasting time, you’re actually doing the opposite.
  • You will be more grounded as you write, since the ritual gives you a chance to get centred and focused before you face your page.

Unlike my two little untrainable mutts, your Procrastination Puppy is highly intelligent and very trainable. Keep it under your firm control, and enjoy many happy writing days with your new friend.

I’m an Intuitive Life coach originally from Johannesburg, South Africa. I combine life coaching with guidance that I receive from the Angels and my Guides. I work with people from all over the world via Skype, and am passionate about helping people move forward with their creative dreams. Other than my work, I’m passionate about writing and teaching people how to use their intuition. I’m also a regular Ashtanga yoga practitioner and meditator. I live with my two daughters and my partner, our dog, cat and guinea pigs in a happy but noisy (and rickety) little house at the edge of a cliff in Auckland, New Zealand.

 

Find Angie and her writing in these places:

AngieNoll.com — TUT.com — Facebook

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Resources for Self-Published & Hybrid Authors (2 of 3)

Resources for Self-Published & Hybrid Authors (2 of 3)

Sent by Nicole Evelina

Books, Websites and Social Media

Hello and welcome back to this three-part series on resources for self-published/hybrid authors. Last time, we talked about associations and groups working to give great books a “seal of approval.” This time, we’ll look at sources of information that will help you navigate this wacky and ever-changing world of self-publishing.

Books

I advise that anyone thinking of self-publishing do a lot of reading on the subject because it is very different from anything else you’ll ever do. These are books I found to be essential resources:

There are literally thousands of others and I have at least 15 others on my shelf I haven’t read yet. These are a few I’ve heard good things about but can’t personally vouch for:

Websites/Blogs/Mailing lists

Of course, learning never ends in an industry as rapidly-changing as publishing. I recommend subscribing to as many blogs, newsletters and mailing lists as you can. They are free and it’s easy to unsubscribe if you find you don’t like/need one. You’ll be able to tell pretty quickly which ones work for you, and which don’t. These are my top 5:

  1. Author Marketing Experts – Penny Sansevieri’s business site. The blog is great information on book marketing.
  2. Joanna Penn– Her blog is well-known to be a top resource for all things indie publishing.
  3. Indies Unlimited – A blog for indies.
  4. Fiction University – Fiction University has a weekly column called The Indie Author series on Thursdays.
  5. Marketing for Romance Writers (MFRW) – This is a Yahoo Group for all romance writers, regardless of whether you’re traditional, self, or indie published. No self-promotion is allowed. It’s a great place to find bloggers who have open guest spots.

Social Media

You may have heard that social media doesn’t sell books. To an extent, I think that’s true. You certainly don’t want to be on it all the time only posting “buy my book, buy my book” because you will drive your followers away faster than you can say “sale.” But, social media is a great way to build name recognition, interact with fans, and share news.

    • Twitter – I recommend checking out Indie Author News and World Lit Café, both of which are great for promotion. You’ll have to contact them through their web sites to see exactly what they offer and how much it costs. I have used both for promotion and have found them to be worth investing in.
    • Facebook groups – There are a lot of promo-only Facebook groups and I’ve learned that those don’t actually translate into sales. I recommend Self Publishing Cahoots, ALLI, and Alliance of Self Published Authors for what you can learn from other members and as a place to ask questions. If you write in a specific genre, it would be a good idea to search groups that appeal to those readers.
    • Goodreads – Their smaller ads for those of us on a budget allow you to set the amount you want to spend and they send you daily reports on the number people who viewed your ad and/or added your book to their lists. This is one of the few sites I find where advertising directly leads to sales. Plus, don’t forget that you can do giveaways. They only cost you the price of shipping, so if you do media mail, you’re looking at around $3.00/book domestically. Anyone who has added your book to their shelf (which is an advantage of advertising with them) is automatically notified when you have a giveaway.
    • Pinterest – This is the other site where it pays to advertise. On Pinterest, this is called “promoting a pin.” All you have to do is pin your book from Amazon (or another retailer) to one of your Pinterest boards and then click that you want to promote that pin. Pinterest walks you through setting your price, targeting your audience and setting the type and duration of your campaign. Plus, they send you detailed daily reports of who saw your pin, interacted with it, re-pinned it and clicked on your link. You’d be surprised how many readers (especially women ages 30-45) you can reach with a single promoted pin.
  • Instagram – I haven’t found a way to advertise on Instagram yet that I can measure, but it’s a fun place to share your book covers, quotes from your books, and fun things from daily life. Be on the lookout for monthly challenges that suggest different themes for your pictures each day and be sure to use the hashtag that goes along with it, plus any others that fit what your picture is. Instagram is a great community-building tool.

In the next installment of this series, we’ll conclude by talking about how to get reviews and contests you may wish to enter. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at nicole.evelina@att.net.

Nicole Evelina is a multi-award-winning historical fiction and romantic comedy writer. Her most recent novel, Madame Presidentess, a historical novel about Victoria Woodhull, America’s first female Presidential candidate, was the first place winner in the Women’s US History category of the 2015 Chaucer Awards for Historical Fiction.

Her debut novel, Daughter of Destiny, the first book of an Arthurian legend trilogy that tells Guinevere’s life story from her point of view, was named Book of the Year by Chanticleer Reviews, took the Grand Prize in the 2015 Chatelaine Awards for Women’s Fiction/Romance, won a Gold Medal in the fantasy category in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards and was short-listed for the Chaucer Award for Historical Fiction. Been Searching for You, her contemporary romantic comedy, won the 2015 Romance Writers of America (RWA) Great Expectations and Golden Rose contests.

Nicole’s writing has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Independent Journal, Curve Magazine and numerous historical publications. As an armchair historian, Nicole researches her books extensively, consulting with biographers, historical societies and traveling to locations when possible. Nicole is a member of and book reviewer for The Historical Novel Society as well as a member of the Historical Writers of America, Women’s Fiction Writers Association, Romance Writers of America, the St. Louis Writer’s Guild, Women Writing the West, Alliance of Independent Authors, the Independent Book Publishers Association and the Midwest Publisher’s Association.

Find Nicole and her writing in these places:

NicoleEvelina.com — Amazon.comAmazon.ca — Goodreads — Facebook — Twitter

The Writer as Dreamer and Realist

The Writer as Dreamer and Realist

Sent by Susan Fox

Do you dream of being a writer? Well, put your fingers to the keyboard and type a few words. Presto, you’re a writer!

But that’s not really what you dream of, is it? What would “being a writer” look like for you? When could you say that your dream had become a reality?

Dreams are a wonderful thing. They provide happiness, hope, and motivation. Yes, send all those positive thoughts and energy out into the universe. But, in my humble opinion, you need to be more than just a dreamer. You need to be practical, realistic, maybe even business-oriented. You need goals.

Good goals are SMARTT-F

  • Specific: Who is involved, what do you want to accomplish, where (if relevant), when, and why? Example: In order to finish the first draft of my novel by December 31, I will write in my home office, with no internet or other interruptions, for at least an hour a day, six days a week, and produce at least 10 pages a week.
  • Measurable: “I’ll write more” isn’t measurable. The goal above is.
  • Attainable: Is this a goal you can attain on your own? The goal above is. Being published by a traditional publisher isn’t; you need an editor’s cooperation.
  • Realistic: What is realistically achievable for you to accomplish? Don’t set your goal too low or you won’t feel motivated, challenged, and gratified. Don’t set it too high or you may get discouraged and quit.
  • Timely: Set a time frame so you’ll stay focused.
  • Tangible: Can you experience your goal with one of your senses? Example: the word and page count at the bottom of the screen.
  • Flexible: You must be able to adapt to circumstances and take advantage of opportunities. Goals should be reviewed regularly and revised when appropriate.

The elephant and the bites

We’ve all heard the saying: How do you eat an elephant? A bite at a time. The elephant is your long-term goal, be it to write your family history or to support yourself with your writing.

Break that elephant down into bites. What are your goals for this year (making sure they’re SMARTT-F, of course)? Now you have, what, maybe a haunch? Break that haunch down into quarterly goals, then monthly goals, then weekly goals, and finally daily goals (nibbles!). Maybe even set up a schedule for the work hours of each day.

For example, if your goal is to write the first draft of a 100,000 word novel in 10 months, and there are 5 days each week available for writing, you will need to write approximately 500 words on each of those days. That’s less than 2 pages in double-spaced Times New Roman 12.

If all you need to do today or perhaps this week is to spend half an hour doing research and to write 500 words, that’s not so hard to tackle, is it? (I bet you’d spend at least that amount of time surfing the Internet, and write that many words in chatty texts and emails.)

There will be obstacles

It’s a rule of life. You will face challenges and obstacles. As much as possible, try to identify actual and potential ones in advance and figure out how you will handle them.

Motivation

How, day after day, will you keep defeating the obstacles and working toward your goals? That’s where motivation comes in – and we’re back to dreams. Your dreams are the biggest motivating factor.

Your toolkit

As well as motivation, you need practical strategies. Some of the following will work for you; others may not.

  • Make your goal list and “to do” list visible so you can’t ignore them.
  • Review your goals regularly. If you’re behind, why and what are you going to do about it?
  • Set priorities and respect them by exercising self-discipline. Is a coffee break, a TV show, a game on your smartphone, or social media more important than your writing goals? When a new task comes along, evaluate where it fits on your priority list.
  • Respect yourself as a writer and respect your writing time, and ask others to do the same. Set boundaries and enforce them. Look for alternatives (e.g., car pool rather than drive your kids every time). Say “no” when you need to. Feel proud rather than guilty when you do these things.
  • Use all your time effectively – e.g., in the dentist’s waiting room or picking up kids at school.
  • Make writing a habit. If possible, write at a regular time each day, when you’re at your creative peak. Each day, write a specified number of words or for a specified amount of time.
  • When you end one writing session, note down what you’re going to do next time so you’ll be ready to go.
  • Turn off the internet.
  • Make yourself accountable. Have a goals partner and report your progress. Keep a record of your writing achievements and a log of your writing time
  • Have a writing space of your own and organize it effectively.
  • Look for courses that may help you.
  • Research how to avoid writer’s block and apply those techniques as needed.
  • Don’t be a perfectionist and don’t submit to the internal critic, or you may be crippled. Learn to live with self-doubt.
  • Learn how to cope with fear, whether it’s of success or of failure.
  • Try visualization. Use affirmations and positive self-talk.
  • When you get frustrated about the things you can’t control, focus on something positive that you can control.
  • Reward yourself when you accomplish your goals.
  • Have a support group. Avoid people who aren’t supportive about your writing.

Successful writers develop both the dreamer side and the practical side of their personalities. I wish you the best of luck in achieving your goals and realizing your dreams!

Award-winning, international bestselling author Susan Fox (who also writes as Susan Lyons and Savanna Fox) writes “emotionally compelling, sexy contemporary romance” (Publishers Weekly). She is just winding up the Caribou Crossing Romance series for Kensington Zebra, and will launch the Blue Moon Harbor series in 2017 – and both series are set in her home province, British Columbia. Though Susan has degrees in law and psychology, she’s much happier in her chosen career as a romance writer.

Find Susan and her writing in these places:

SusanLyons.com — Amazon.comAmazon.ca — Goodreads — Facebook

 

 

Resources for Self-Published & Hybrid Authors (1 of 3)

Resources for Self-Published & Hybrid Authors (1 of 3)

Sent by Nicole Evelina

Part 1: Associations and “Seal of Approval” Groups

Many prospective self-published or hybrid authors may be afraid to take the leap for fear they will be doing everything alone. As a self-published author, I can tell you that is far from how it has to be. It only takes a little effort on your part to become part of the community, and the rewards are great.

Every self-published/hybrid author should have a strong creative team helping them with things that most writers cannot and should not do themselves: cover art, editing, proofreading, and layout. If you choose to produce your book in audio format, you’ll likely want a professional narrator as well. But this team is only part of the community that can help you succeed.

In this series, I’ll introduce you to resources that I have personally found useful. (No, I’m not getting paid for mentioning any of these companies.) As with everything in life, your mileage may vary, so take this only as my opinion. I advise you to do your own research and do what feels right for you.

This first article will introduce you to associations for indie authors and groups that are trying to showcase the best of the best of self-published writing.

Associations

There are several associations out there that self-published, indie and hybrid authors can join to be in community, ask questions and learn from one another. Two of the most reputable are the Independent Book Publishers Association and Alliance of Independent Authors.

Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA)

IBPA is a not-for-profit membership organization serving and leading the independent publishing community through advocacy, education, and tools for success. They are also the largest publishing trade association in the US. IBPA welcomes independent publishers, self-published authors, small presses and mid-sized publishers, with rates based on employee size. (Individual members pay $129/year.)

What are you getting for that fee?

  • Significant discounts with dozens of major companies such as Netgalley and Ingramspark
  • Online education/webinars (discounts for members) – two recent topics were working with libraries and how to get your books into Costco/Walmart/Target. They will email you a recording if you can’t attend at the time of the webinar.
  • Access to catalogues seen by readers, librarians, bookstore owners, universities and schools
  • Discounts to trade show/book fairs such as BEA, the Frankfort Book Fair, and the American Library Association Annual Conference. (You can purchase shelf space for your books even if you won’t be there.)
  • Their annual conference: Publishing University
  • Discounted entry fee to the Benjamin Franklin Book Awards, which are sponsored by IBPA
  • A monthly e-newsletter and print magazine

Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLI)

ALLI is a global nonprofit association for writers who self-publish. They have three membership levels: Associate: $75 (unpublished/student), Author: $99 (self-published), and Professional: $139 (must earn your living as an author-publisher).

Included in your membership are:

  • Daily emails with self publishing advice
  • Frequent guest columns by successful indie authors
  • Weekly online roundup of self-publishing news
  • Every member gets their own author page
  • Access to the member’s showcase where you can share your news (releases, awards, appearances, etc.) with other members
  • Frequent, low-cost workshops
  • A free private Facebook group
  • Free guidebooks for authors on how to sell foreign rights, how to choose a self-pub service and how bookstores can work with indie authors (additional subjects to come)

Where Writers Win, Winner’s Circle

I also want to mention the site Where Writer’s Win which has all kinds of writing/publishing advice. If you join the Winner’s Circle ($65/year, but they offer frequent discounts through IBPA and ALLI), you get access to:

  • Vetted and rated book review sites by genre
  • An interactive map of live book club contacts
  • Linked indie bookstores in every state
  • Calendar of conferences, festivals and contests
  • Free online author marketing tools
  • Discounts on services and conferences
  • Templates and tutorials
  • Section for indie and hybrid publishers
  • Blog directories
  • Media section

Get involved in the writing community

It’s a great idea to become involved in whatever group fits what you write. For example: The Historical Novel Society, Romance Writers of America, The Women’s Fiction Writers Association, Mystery Writers of America, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Horror Writer’s Association, etc.

These groups not only help you find your tribe and are great for networking; most hold conferences and have newsletters. Some sponsor contests and offer reviews. There may still be a few that don’t allow self-published authors to join, but that is rapidly fading away. Sometimes indies have their own “section,” while some groups no longer make a distinction.

Stamp of Approval

One of the biggest complaints about self-published books is that they inferior to traditionally published works, primarily due to poor editing and bad covers. While that is getting better, there are a handful of groups working to try to develop a way of distinguishing the best of the best, those books that are on par with traditionally published works.

Self-E

This division of Library Journal helps connect indie/small press authors with libraries. Authors around the world can submit their books and libraries across the United States participate by stocking their books. It’s fee to submit your book for consideration. If you’re chosen for Self-E Select, your book is designated as one of the very best indie e-books. You get a badge for your web site, an online Library Journal review and possibly a print review as well. You’ll also be invited to join their ambassador program, which gives you opportunities to speak and spread the word about Self-E.

They also sponsor the annual Library Journal Indie Ebook Awards for romance, sci-fi/fantasy, mystery/thriller, general fiction, and YA books.

Indie B.R.A.G. Medallion

B.R.A.G. is an acronym for Book Readers Appreciation Group. It’s a private group that evaluates books based on a “report card” that is available on their web site. Take it from someone who has been through it, their review process is VERY stringent. (Despite all the awards my first book has won, it didn’t get the Medallion, not even close.) They will only consider one book from an author at time and each submission is $50. There is no guarantee if you submit your book that you will get the B.R.A.G. Medallion, but every author gets a copy of their report card from the reviewers.

In the next installment of this series, I’ll give you some books, websites/blogs, and social media groups that I think are helpful. Then we’ll conclude with the third installment on how to get reviews and contests you may wish to enter.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at nicole.evelina@att.net.

Want more?! Find Part 2 – Books, Website and Social Media here. And Part 3 – Reviews and Contests here!

SPECIAL ADDITION:

Writing Careers: The Business Behind Becoming an Author.

Nothing brings me more joy than receiving an email from a librarian and educator who’s guiding young people toward a life as a writer. Thank you, Barbara Lincoln, for your service and Amelia (and your mom!) for sharing this new resources with us.

Nicole Evelina is a multi-award-winning historical fiction and romantic comedy writer. Her most recent novel, Madame Presidentess, a historical novel about Victoria Woodhull, America’s first female Presidential candidate, was the first place winner in the Women’s US History category of the 2015 Chaucer Awards for Historical Fiction.

Her debut novel, Daughter of Destiny, the first book of an Arthurian legend trilogy that tells Guinevere’s life story from her point of view, was named Book of the Year by Chanticleer Reviews, took the Grand Prize in the 2015 Chatelaine Awards for Women’s Fiction/Romance, won a Gold Medal in the fantasy category in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards and was short-listed for the Chaucer Award for Historical Fiction. Been Searching for You, her contemporary romantic comedy, won the 2015 Romance Writers of America (RWA) Great Expectations and Golden Rose contests.

Nicole’s writing has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Independent Journal, Curve Magazine and numerous historical publications. As an armchair historian, Nicole researches her books extensively, consulting with biographers, historical societies and traveling to locations when possible. Nicole is a member of and book reviewer for The Historical Novel Society as well as a member of the Historical Writers of America, Women’s Fiction Writers Association, Romance Writers of America, the St. Louis Writer’s Guild, Women Writing the West, Alliance of Independent Authors, the Independent Book Publishers Association and the Midwest Publisher’s Association.

Find Nicole and her writing in these places:

NicoleEvelina.com — Amazon.comAmazon.ca — Goodreads — Facebook — Twitter

Glenna Mageau

Glenna Mageau

HOW SHE WROTE IT …

Author: Glenna Mageau — writing as Maggie Thom

Genres: Suspense / thrillers

From: Canada

Started writing … at age nine but threw it out when I was about 21. I was too embarrassed that someone might find it and read it.

Published my first book at age: 49

Titles to date: 4 (self-published)

Learn more: about author Maggie Thom … about writing coach Glenna Mageau

Amazon.com:  Author Glenna Mageau

What do you do to overcome the fear of being published?

I have loved words and writing for most of my life. I really think that joining a writing group and a critique group and taking writing lessons made all the difference. I got good feedback about what I did well and I worked on those areas I needed to work on. As I got better and better, the stories just kept coming. I wrote many novels and stories before I ever made the leap to being published. Before I made the decision to publish, I had several people read my novel and give me honest feedback. Well, what I got was many saying they really liked my writing… so I made the leap. With fear darn near choking me and panic cloaking me in its cape, I hit the publish button. The best part… I survived. And am thrilled that I took that chance.

Describe your path to publication. What roadblocks did you encounter?

When I finally decided that I wanted to be published, I sent a query off to a traditional publisher. They asked for the manuscript. Yay. But then I waited… and waited… and waited… So I emailed them. Yes, they were still interested and would get to it soon. So I waited… and waited… and waited… By this point I had heard about many authors choosing to be self-published. And, I discovered that even if the traditional publisher did decide to publish me I was looking at two years before my book would be out. They weren’t ready to publish me but I was ready to be published. So I pulled my story and the rest they say is… published. 🙂

How much planning do you do before you start a new book?

I don’t. I know, gasp. I kind of do a panster–plotter thing. Really when I get an idea, if it excites me, I tend to sit down and start writing. I see what comes to me. Then I’ll go away from it and play ‘what if’ with it in my mind for a while. And then I’ll sit down and write.

I tend to jump in and start writing and then back away and do some thinking and looking at what’s possible and plausible. Then I write, letting it go where it needs to. Then I back away for a bit and play with it some more to see what really grabs me. Then I write again. Then when I’m finished writing the novel, I go back through it twenty or so times and make sure it all flows and makes sense.

How do you feel about the first book you finished? Is it published or is it still living ‘under the bed?’

Well, I actually have about ten living under my bed. I think it’s actually more than that but ten is enough to talk about. Every book I have written has been with a desire to share the stories of the characters in my mind. I love creating stories. Each one that I have written holds a special place. Each one was like a stepping stone to learning and creating. Each got better and better over time.

My very first book, which would have to be the one I wrote when I was nine, is very precious because I wrote it at a time when I had no one supporting me or telling me I could be a writer.

What’s the nicest thing a fan has ever said to you?

“I can’t sleep. I’m staying up half the night just so I can finish your book. I’ve tried to put it down but it won’t let me.”

Tell us about a review of your book that made you shake your head. How do you deal with negative reviews?

That there wasn’t enough romance in my novel.

Which is why I list my books as suspense/thrillers. Sometimes I mention that there is a hint of romance. I guess the hint got missed in this case.

There are a few reviews that have annoyed me but I look at them and remind myself that it is one person’s opinion and they are entitled to it. I do look to see if there is any constructive criticism that I could learn from. Then I decide, I can keep giving it power – because we often take the negative ones to heart and let them beat us up – or I can look at all the positive reviews I get and let it go. I have learned to let them go. They aren’t worth the energy and they keep me from doing what I love – writing and creating stories.

If anyone tells you, you’re not a really a writer

Tell them to kiss the pen you write with. Seriously, everyone is a writer and could do well at writing but most won’t pursue it. And that’s okay. Depending on who is telling you, you’re not a writer I’d ask them what a writer is to them. And I’d take the information and look at it as interesting but do NOT take it personally. Do NOT let someone else define who and what you are. Writing is a beautiful and positive thing. You are a writer.

A daring, creative adventure

A daring, creative adventure

Sent by Wendy Dewar Hughes

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”

This quote by Helen Keller essentially sums up life in the creative lane, which is not the same as life in the fast lane. Life in the creative lane is about stepping out of the normal lane of everyday life and making creative changes by doing things you would not ordinarily think of doing—or that present a creative challenge for you.

Depending on where you live or the life you have already lived, the word “adventure” will roll out different images in your mind.

For some, adventure is an Indiana Jones or Pirates of the Caribbean type of life—cheating death while seeking a treasure and buckling one’s swash. For others, it could be deciding to wear blue nail polish, or taking a different route to work.

Try taking a quick inventory of your life, a snapshot of where you were last year and where you are today. Any changes?

Most of us tend to stay in our comfort zones. We hang out with the same people. We shop at the same stores, do the same things for entertainment, watch the same TV programs, and eat the same foods as always.

So, why change?

Why should you come out of your comfort zone and stretch a little? Because it is good for you and for those around you. And it helps you think more creatively.

If you were to start exercising after a long sabbatical you are likely to experience aches and pains at first. Before long though, after a regular regimen of healthy movement, your threshold becomes greater and your body becomes fit and healthy.

The same can be said when you stretch out of your daily mundane habits. You become capable of more creative ideas, and your confidence and courage grow. You might find yourself developing goals and dreaming dreams that you never before thought possible. When you begin to let yourself go and think more creatively, the lifestyle you’ve always wanted may suddenly seem within reach.

Now, things won’t always go as planned. No surprise there. But face it; we’re adults. You can handle a setback and still get on your feet again, wiser and more creative.

So, how can you turn your life into a daring creative adventure?

First, leave the Indian Jones and Pirates of the Caribbean stuff to the moviemakers—unless that’s your idea of fun, then off you go!

But for now, let’s concentrate daily life. Here are some suggestions:

  1. If you can, leave the car at home and walk to where you want to go or ride a bicycle.
  2. How about trying a new meal every time you go to a restaurant?
  3. Say hello to that new person at work.
  4. Start a conversation instead of waiting to join in. Think of a list of topics you could use to start that conversation.
  5. Buy the bright-colored, stand-out-from-the-crowd shirt or scarf, instead of the low-key, blend-in type that says, “Don’t notice me”.
  6. Get up twenty minutes early and read a book, get some writing in, or write in your journal.
  7. Go see a movie you wouldn’t ordinarily choose.
  8. Get involved in a sport or a new hobby.
  9. Join Toastmasters and learn to speak in public.
  10. Learn to belly dance. (It is the one place in life where it is good to have a belly!)
  11. Do something you fear, especially if others believe in you and are already encouraging you. If they aren’t, do it anyway.
  12. Learn karate or tai chi.
  13. Fly in a small airplane if you never have before. Or sky-dive out of one.
  14. Go to a park and fly a kite.
  15. Paint a picture. Draw badly on purpose.
  16. Travel somewhere you’ve always wanted to go. Make a plan.
  17. Meet one new person a week—that’s fifty-two new connections in a year. You’re bound to become friends with at least a few of them.
  18. Go to church. It might surprise you how interesting it is.

Take a look at your week and decide where you can be more creative and adventurous. Over time, creative adventures will become a way of life. Maybe you’ll even become a creative new you.

Wendy Dewar Hughes is a multi-published author, professional artist, and book designer. She helps right-brain creatives make wishes come true through her coaching intensives and unique programs at Just Imagine School. Subscribe to receive Creative inspirations Daily and get your free copy of Freeing your Creativity E-book at www.wendydewarhughes.com.

 

Find Wendy and her writing in these places:

WendyDewarHughes.com — Amazon.com — Amazon.ca — Goodreads -—Facebook — Twitter

Click the image below to hear even more tips from Wendy in our conversation, posted on YouTube.

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