Thursday, July 28, 2016

Need Some Inspiration?

Currently, I'm pumping out a novella, so all writing systems are go. That's not always the case, though. Sometimes I stall out. Come on, admit it. You do too. So for all those writers who are dead in the water for the moment, here are some breaths of air to puff out your little writerly sails . . .

#Inspire a Writer in 5 Words
This is a Twitter feed that, like the name says, is for the inspiration of writers in 5 words or less. Here are some examples: your book made me think, seuss rejected by thirty-four publishers, we want your submissions today.

Inspiration for Writers, Inc.
This blog has it all, from workshops to writing tips to testimonials.

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Writers
Here's a blurb for this book: With 101 stories from published writers who stuck with it and succeeded, you will be inspired and encouraged, whether you’re an aspiring author, a blogger, or a bestselling writer.

You'll find a plethora of motivation on this fantastic Pinterest board.
50 famous authors share their writing inspiration in this blog post.

If one of those sites isn't a writerly kick in the pants, you may want to have your doctor check for a pulse because you might be dead.

5 Reasons to Self-Publish

When I first started writing, landing a traditional publishing contract was the only way to go if you didn't want the big stink eye or your name blacklisted. Self pubbing was for losers who clearly couldn't write well enough to attract the attention of "real" publishers.

My, my, my . . . how times have changed.

Nowadays it's the trendy thing to do. It's not a guaranteed bajillion dollars, but I know a few authors who are making some serious bucks. Money aside, though, here's some motivation for you to self-publish your really-well-written-and-edited manuscript.

5 Reasons to Self-Publish

Control of Content
This is a two-sided coin. On one side, you have the absolute freedom to write whatever you want to, address whatever issues you feel like the world needs to hear. You choose all the content, whether inside the cover or out. The flip side is that the editorial buck stops with you. Grammar. Flow. Plot. You are responsible for any glitches.

The Cover
I've seen some butt-ugly covers in my day, lots of them on traditional books and on those self-published. The difference is that the self-pubbers are shooting themselves in the foot because they have absolute control over how their book is presented to the public. Traditional authors are allowed some input, but honestly, not a whole heaping lot.

It's on Your Timeframe
The only deadlines for self-publishers are the ones you set for yourself. That means your turnaround time from start to finish can be 48 hours if you like...though I do NOT recommend it. But you don't have to wait for a publisher to get back to you with a cover jpeg or even to answer your email. The hourglass is in your hand and you can turn it over when you want to.

Either way, self-pubbed or traditional, you Mr. Author are going to have to market your book. I know. It sucks. You're a writer, not a salesman. But the bonus about marketing a story you've published is that you choose where the marketing hours are spent. You make the connections. You sell the book. And it makes sense because you're the one who's most passionate about your story.

It Gets Your Book Out There
If you wait around for a traditional publisher to offer you a contract on a silver platter, you might be waiting a very long time, especially in this current market. And so will your potential readers. But if you self-pub you can get your story up on Amazon lickety split.

So far I've only self-pubbed one book but it certainly won't be my last. If you're hesitant about giving self-publishing a whirl, here's a little nudge for you. Jump on in. The writerly water is fine.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

What Motivates More Than Money?

Newsflash: Writers don't make a lot of money. Best piece of advice I heard when starting this gig was to not quit my day job. That was over ten years ago, but here I am, still pounding away on the keyboard, writing word after word after word. What makes me do it? What is the motivation that keeps anyone working at any job for any length of time?

It's not money, contrary to popular belief. Oh, not that anyone in their right mind would turn down a cool million -- or even a tepid one -- but there truly are other motivating factors that cause you to stay with a profession even without huge monetary incentive.

5 Motivating Factors Other Than Money

1. Seeing tangible results of your work.

I'm not gonna lie...holding a published book in your hand with your name on it is as satisfying as a triple chocolate brownie fresh out of the oven with vanilla bean ice cream and caramel sauce--or even more. When you've worked hard at a project, the finished result is uber motivating to make you want to do it again.

2. The more difficult a project, the more pride you'll feel when it's finished.

Pride is like crack. It's super addicting. All those endorphins and whatnot floating through your bloodstream. And there's no better way to pump up your ego than to finish a super challenging task.

3. Knowing that your work makes a difference in someone's life.

We are wired to help others. Mostly. Except for maybe narcissists and random terrorist organizations. The point is that when your work actually betters someone else's life in some way, you're going to want to continue doing that same thing so that you can effect someone else's life as well.

4. Positive reinforcement.

No one can take a continual brutal beating of criticism. It's the small bits of praise that put wind in our sails. Appreciation is a huge motivator.

5. Environment.

A study at Hiroshima University researched two control groups, each performing the same task, but one group was surrounded with photos of cute baby animals. The other had to look at adult animals. The group in the environment with the sweet little babies outperformed the other. Your surroundings matter.

Next time you want to motivate someone, either a team member at work or your kid at home, use some of these motivators to get them going.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Serial Reader

Just because a word has serial preceding it doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad thing. Yeah, sure, I'm not negating that serial killers are awful. So are serial warts. Serial drive-by opera singers give me the shivers. And let's not forget serial power outages that make your freezer thaw and all your meat goes bad and you have to spend the entire day cooking all the chicken you scored on sale last week at Winn Dixie.

Whew. Let's all take a breath and exhale out such negativity, shall we?

Now, on the inhale, here comes the positive . . . Serial Reader. This handy dandy app lets you read classics in bite-sized pieces. No more choking down huge passages of War and Peace or Great Expectations. Just pure, unadulterated, enjoyment of the classics in small bits that are entirely doable while you're waiting for a bus or standing in line at the grocery store.

Here's how it works:
Every day the app sends fragments of classic texts (which classic is up to you). You subscribe to a classic and voila, daily digestible chunks for you to swallow. It's a great way to finally plow through something you've always wanted to read but never had the time to sit down and study. Available for iPhones and Androids.

Spread the news to your readerly buddies. Who knows? Maybe my books will make it on there someday (cue evil laughter).

Monday, July 25, 2016

Cover Reveal: Out of the Frying Pan

Next up on the new release docket is OUT OF THE FRYING PAN, due to release on September 6th. It's been several years in the making. Okay, so maybe slightly more than that, but hey . . . you can't rush excellence, right?

Though it's not set to hit the shelves until the first part of September, I can let you in on a little sneak preview of the cover. Ready? Drum roll, please . . . (and don't forget an excessive cymbal crash) . . . (and fireworks) . . .

And here's a blurb for the story . . .

Murder in Paradise whips life into a froth for FERN and ZULA HOPKINS. When the retirement center’s chef is found dead, the two ladies get mixed in with the case. Their zany attempts to track down the killer land them in hot water with Detective JARED FLYNN. Should he be concerned about their safety—or the criminal’s?

But there are deadly ingredients none of them expect. Drugs. Extortion. International cartels. And worst of all…broken hearts, especially when the Hopkins sisters’ niece KC arrives on the scene.

Life at Sunset Paradise Retirement Village will never be the same.

So yeah, lots of romance, tons of intrigue, and a huge helping of humor and snark. Plus there will be a few giveaways and some special offers coming up as well. Stay tuned!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Worst Writing Advice Ever

As you may have noticed, this blog mainly dishes out writing and/or creative advice on a regular basis. I'm all about positivity and encouragement. That being said, today we're going to cover the "don'ts" because, like you, I've fallen prey to bad advice before (and yes, I do happen to have the ugly white polyester stirrup-pants still hanging in my closet, thank you very much).

Writing Advice You Can Ignore

Learn a new word every day.
Seriously? What the heck for? So that you can spew it out in your manuscript and look like a smarty pants? No, no, no. I mean, if you happen to pick up a new word that you'd like to take on a spin around the block, go for it, but don't waste your time trying to memorize a word a day. Multi-syllable obscure words do not make you a better writer.

Write what you know.
Dude, if you wait to write a novel until you know everything about a particular subject or era, you'll never start. Or if you only write about the things you know really well, like stamp collecting, you'll get way too detailed and bore the reader. Do your research then write, whether you're an expert or not.

Your career hinges on your debut novel.
Really? Says who? Sure, a fantastic debut novel can get you noticed and potentially nab you another contract like pronto, but even if your first book doesn't rocket off the ol' sales chart, that doesn't mean you won't ever sell another manuscript.

Write for the market.
If you don't write for yourself, you're going to get very frustrated. Write the book that you're passionate about, whether or not that's a current trend on bookshelves.

It's the synopsis that will sell the story.
Thank the sweet heavens that this one isn't necessarily true because dang if I can't write a synopsis to save my life. Yeah, you have to be able to jot down the major points of your story, but don't stress over the p's ad q's of your synopsis structure.

And if you'd like to keep up on what's trendy in really bad writing advice, check out The Worst Muse on Twitter.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

3 Key Ingredients to Becoming a Successful Writer

Recently I came across an interesting proposition. Pen Center USA is offering an Emerging Voices Fellowship. It's explained as:
"A literary mentorship that aims to provide new writers who are isolated from the literary establishment with the tools, skills, and knowledge they need to launch a professional writing career."

In layman's terms, that means a $1000 grant and an eight month professional mentorship. Pretty sweet deal, eh? But does a writer really need all that?

I think not.

Stop. Put away the pitchforks and rotten eggs. Give me a chance to explain my position . . .

While writerly bells and whistles are nice, and I certainly wouldn't turn down a thousand bucks if someone handed it to me, these things are not necessary to become a successful writer. What is?

3 Key Ingredients to Becoming a Successful Writer

Determination is a trait every successful author owns. The secret to becoming a writer is to write. Not talk about writing. Not dream about writing. Parking your butt in the chair and writing is what makes a writer. It's not always fun. It sure as heck ain't glamorous. And newsflash: you won't make a bajillion dollars. But if an author is what you really want to be way deep down in the marrow of your bones, you've got to have stamina to keep pounding out words even when the going gets tough.

Rejection sucks. Whew. Glad we got that one out in the open. It's seriously a slap in the face when you read a review or receive a rejection that attacks your writing. In order to become an author, you've got to have the guts to take stinging criticism without getting your hackles up.

A teachable spirit is what sets apart the winners from the wannabes. Learning and growing are part of the process so that you don't stagnate. There's no room for pride in the publishing biz.

So . . . do you have what it takes? And if not, are you willing to do what it takes?

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