Friday, January 12, 2018

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 179

It's less than two weeks into the new year, and I'm already happy with my writing progress. I finally worked out how to extricate my character from the dire situation I put her in last year, and based on the positive comments I received from my critique group last night, they approved of my solution too. 

I've had good writing weeks before, but they were usually followed by a week or two of minimal progress, mostly because I allowed myself to ease off on the writing. But not this time! One of my resolutions this year is to keep pushing forward, no matter what. 

Wish me luck! 

Enjoy the links and have a great weekend! 


11 Creative Ways to Boost Reader Engagement

So What? Making Readers Care About Your Story

Understanding Your Print Book Formatting Options

Author Platform Cheat Sheet

Publishing Wide: Selling Ebooks And Print Books Direct From Your Author Website

Writing five minutes a day for a year equals a book

How to Stand Out in the Slush Pile 101

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Being Where the Readers Are

Photo on Visualhunt
Last week I posted that I had no plans to schedule anything as far as my writing was concerned. However, I’m already rethinking that position. Let me preface this by saying my number one goal for 2018 is to (finally) finish a story. To be honest, I had that same goal last year, but was so far off the mark I knew I was in trouble by June. Fortunately, I made enough progress in 2017 I think it’s a realistic goal for 2018. Crosses fingers! 

In any case, it’s time to start thinking about marketing, and this is where the scheduling aspect enters the picture. One of my secondary goals for 2018 is to visit blogs with a fantasy/sci-fi focus. Up until now, most of the blogs I visit either discuss the craft of writing or belong to IWSG members. Not that the support from my fellow IWSG members hasn’t been great, but if I expect to be a successful seller of fantasy books, I need to expand my horizons a little. 

One of the things I’ve learned about book marketing is that you need to be where your readers are. The IWSG is full of great and supportive people, but the writers cover a wide range of genres. Thrillers, romance, fantasy, science fiction, mystery. This diversity in genres gives me a great perspective on the industry, but it's not where most of my readers are.   

One of the most important items that show up on your Amazon book page is the “Customers who bought this item also bought…” list. Amazon’s algorithms track the buying habits of the people who buy your book and use that information to decide who else they should show your book to. It’s one of Amazon’s primary techniques for promoting our books. Unfortunately, these algorithms can be pretty touchy. 

For example, if I sent out a general broadcast about my new book to everyone in the IWSG, and everyone bought the book, Amazon’s algorithms wouldn’t know what to do with the data. Instead of finding that fantasy readers are buying my book, Amazon would see an eclectic mix of genres and reader buying preferences. And if there's one thing I’ve learned about book marketing, it's that you definitely do not want to confuse the Amazon algorithms. 

So my plan is to visit and interact with at least one new fantasy or scifi blog every week. This doesn’t strike me as overly ambitious, but I kind of slacked off on my blog visitations during the final months of 2017, so this new habit may require more diligence on my part. We’ll see. 

What new thing are you trying this year in regards to your writing or book marketing endeavors?


Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Insecure Writer and Starting Out In 2018

Today is January's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

Why am I an Insecure Writer this month?

The answer is: I'm not.

It's not that I don't have writing insecurities lurking in the back of my mind, but who cares, it's January.  And along with the new year comes the completely unjustified euphoria that promises all my writing dreams will come true.  There's nothing quite like naive optimism to banish those nasty insecurities.  At least for a month.  I'll probably be moaning in February, but I'll worry about that later.

Isn't being a writer great?

Seriously, part of my good cheer stems from the fact that I made lots of progress on the writing front over the holidays.  We'll see if I can keep the momentum going throughout 2018.

Let's move on to this month's IWSG question:

What steps have you taken or plan to take to put a schedule in place for your writing and publishing?

I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I don’t have any sort of plan to schedule my writing activities and I don’t expect to have one for the rest of 2018.

It's not that I don’t want to succeed, but scheduling has never been my strong point, whether we're talking writing related projects or not. Back in college I learned how to juggle classes freestyle, working on whichever class my intuition told me focus on.  A rather chaotic technique to be sure, but it served me well and it's a habit I still follow to this day.  And even if I was the scheduling type, there's way too many things going on in my life for me to plan when I'm going to write.  I write whenever I can find a few minutes to spare.

Marketing is probably one of those areas where scheduling is important, but as I don't have a book out yet, the point is moot.

With that said, I admit that social media is one area where I should be scheduling. My social media forays are chaotic at best, and as a writer, that's something I need to fix.  Hopefully I'll get the hang of social media before my first book is published.

I hope you all have a great new year! 


Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Insecure Writer and the End of the Year

Today is December's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

Why am I an Insecure Writer this month?

Because we're nearing the end of the year, and as usual, I haven't met my writing goals.   

Hey, at least I did better than last year, and that should count for something, right?  The important thing is that I tried.
I tried

So let's tackle this month’s IWSG question:

As you look back on 2017, with all its successes and failures, if you could backtrack, what would you do differently? 

The answer is probably not too much. I pushed myself to submit something to both my monthly critique groups, no matter how much it hurt, and as a result, I wrote more words this year than ever before. Still not as much as I might wish for, but life insists on getting in the way, so unless I quit my day job, there's a limit to how productive I can be. 

I guess one bad habit is my tendency to take it easy after a really productive writing session. I’ll feel so good about what I accomplished that day, I’ll often take a break the next day, even if I have time available for writing. A couple more days will pass, and before I know it, my slothfulness will have cancelled out my one productive day. I need to follow up a good day of writing with another one, and another one... 

Another big problem was the lack of posts on my blog during the last several months.  Some of that can be blamed on spending extra time working on my story, but part of it was laziness, and that's something a writer like me can't afford. 

Still, I look forward to the beginning of the year.  That's when we all get together and announce our resolutions and writing goals.  It'll be a heady time!


Friday, December 1, 2017

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 178

Writing hasn't gone as well as I might have hoped these last couple of weeks. Part of it has to do with being extra busy both at work and at home, but mostly it has to do with the current chapter.

(That's the ticket! It's not my fault, it's the chapter's)

You see, I've trapped my protagonist inside a building surrounded by the bad guys. She has some special abilities that will help her escape, but it won't be easy.  I haven't yet decided how she's going to accomplish this little trick, especially when I consider the restrictions I put on her powers earlier in the story.  I usually have these kind of details worked out long before I begin writing a chapter, but this time I thought I'd just paint my character into a corner and see how she gets out of it.  

I'm sure I'll figure it out, it's just going to take a while. Unfortunately, this chapter is due for submission to my critique group in about a week. Doh!

Enjoy the links and have a great week! 


Why You Need an Author Tagline

Producing Your Books in Audio Part Seven: Marketing

What makes a great climax?

The Close-Up Connection

3 Tips To Creating A Time Bomb Plot Device

Inconceivable! Dealing with Problems of Unbelievability

The Writer’s Guide to Social Media Organization

Friday, November 17, 2017

Do You Write For Profit, Fame, Fun, Or Something Else?

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

I was interviewed this week over at The Insecure Writers Support Group, so if you want to know what makes me tick, hop on over for a quick read. As you might guess, the topic had to do with writer insecurity, and in keeping with that topic, this post is focused on what keeps me motivated as a writer.

I suspect most of us write because we need a creative outlet for all those crazy ideas floating around inside our heads. At least I do. But that doesn’t explain why we spend so much time polishing our work and fighting to get our words published.

Some writers write for the money. Nothing wrong with that, but that’s not what motivates me. Not that making money from writing wouldn’t be great, but unless I write a blockbuster that pretty much sells itself, I’d have to do a ton of marketing to make any real money and I’m not interested in doing that.

Some writers crave the fame that comes from being a successful writer. Hey, I wouldn’t mind legions of fans knowing my name, but I don’t think I’d be happy with too much fame. Sounds as if that can be more hassle than it’s worth. Just ask J.K. Rowling. But I wouldn’t mind if, while attending a convention, someone I’ve never met before walked up to me and said something nice about one of my books. Heck, who am I kidding? It would be pretty damn awesome.

But probably not for the reason you think.

You see, my motivation to write the best book I possibly can has little to do with money or fame. For me, it’s all about maximizing the number of people who read (and enjoy) my stories. Why? Because the more people who read about my characters, the more real my characters feel to me. That simple fact is what drives me to write everyday.

I’m not saying my characters don’t feel real to me now, but they’ll feel infinitely more real when I know other people are experiencing their stories too. I can’t explain why I feel this way; I just do. I guess it’s kind of like the tree falling in the forest. If no one reads a book, are the characters real? 

So that’s write I keep writing and learning the craft. To maximize the number of people who fall in love with my characters. Because my characters deserve to be real.

Do any of you feel the same way?


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Why I'll Never Write Epic Fantasy

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

I write fantasy. Someday I might try writing science fiction, too. But the one genre I know I’ll never try writing is epic fantasy. I enjoy reading it, but as a writer, keeping track of multiple storylines just isn’t my idea of fun. Not to mention the fact that epic fantasies tend to run on the long side, and being the glacially slow writer that I am, my kids would probably be ready for retirement before I’d finish even one of them. 

But the biggest reason comes down to pacing. I’m very much a “just give me the facts, ma’am” kind of writer, unwilling to spend any more time than necessary describing what happens in a scene. I have to force myself to go back through my chapters (usually at the suggestion of my critique partners) and add descriptions or other details that I should have added the first time around. 

But epic fantasies typically move along at a much slower pace, with plenty of time devoted toward descriptions, or world-building details, or allowing the characters to take their own sweet time making what I often consider no-brainer decisions. In fact, I’ll admit to skimming over some of the slower sections, waiting for the story to pick up again. 

Why do I bring this up now? Turns out I’ve recently begun reading Michael Wallace’s Red Sword epic fantasy series. My first introduction to Michael’s books were through his Starship Blackbeard space opera series. Those stories were fun, fast, and full of action, with just enough detail to keep me grounded in his worlds. Just the way I like it. But when he switched to writing his epic fantasy, the pacing slowed so dramatically, I almost didn’t believe it was the same author. 

Now I’m not complaining. His books are well written, but up until now, I always assumed epic fantasies were slow paced because the writers who wrote epic fantasies naturally wrote slow paced stories. Now I realize the slow pacing is a deliberate choice, made because fans of that genre have come to expect it. 

And that’s the biggest reason I’ll never write epic fantasy. I’d never be able to write with that kind of pacing, at least not without putting my readers to sleep. 

How about you? Do any of you read epic fantasy? What's your opinion on their pacing?


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