Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Excuses, Excuses

It's tempting to focus on the product launch, on the interview, on the next thing. Tempting, but ultimately a waste.

Finishing a book is a lot more important than starting one. Why? Because lots of people start books but never see them through to completion. There are lots of reasons why, but here are the most common.

The Big Stall Out
You rewrite and you edit and you tweak and tweak and tweak the first few chapters, aiming for perfection. Not that perfection is wrong, mind you, but when it causes you to not make any forward progress, then it is wrong. Stab the inner editor in the heart and finish the dang thing.

It's Too Hard
Writing is work. Hard work. It's easier to say you're a writer, to dabble in a paragraph here and there, than to sit your butt in a chair and complete a manuscript.

Too Focused on the End Result
Dreaming of publication, hanging out with authors, scheming out your launch party, these are all fun to think about but if you don't actually write the book you won't attain them.

If you never finish your story then you won't have to show it to anyone. It's frightening to think about exposing your words to the world because the world is a scary place. Now's the time to buy a pair of big girl/boy pants and suck it up.

"No" Isn't Part of Your Vocabulary
In order to say yes to writing a book, you have to say no to a host of other "fun" activities. Writing takes time -- time away from other things you might want to do. Ultimately it's up to you to schedule your writing time and guard that time like a beast.

Do yourself a favor and finish your book. You'll feel like a champion even if it never makes it to publication.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

3 Ways to Manage Social Media Time

Today I saw for sale an off-the-grid, completely self-sufficient homestead in northern Idaho, and for a split second, I was intrigued. How cool would it be to go off grid and become invisible? To not have to listen to the blather about Donald Trump's hair or Hillary Clinton's hacking cough? To run around naked with a gun just because I felt like it? Oops. Sorry for the visual.

But the idea of the homestead did intrigue me -- until I remembered there'd be no wifi. How would I post on Facebook or Tweet or pin or instagram? As an author I have to be in the public eye but must authors or other artists souls be drained by social media?

Of course the answer is no, but that's easier said than done. So here are a few tips to properly handle social media without frazzling your brain and your schedule to smithereens. 

#1. Set a timer.
I'm guilty of frequently pulling out my phone at a moment's notice and checking email or Facebook or whatever. It becomes addicting. I propose we all set a timer, whatever amount of time is right or you, be it a half hour or 45 minutes or 10 minutes, then abide by that time each day. Sure, you can break it up to do some in the morning and evening if it freaks you out to think you might be missing something, but when that timer dings, you shut down.

#2. Limit the venues.
Newsflash: you don't have to be on every conceivable social media site that's out there. Choose 3 -- only 3 -- and spend your time and effort on those. Which 3? The ones you adore, silly rabbit. Life is too short to waste time on something you don't love. Except for laundry. There's no get out of jail free card to avoid that.

#3. Tighten your content.
No one has time to read lengthy posts, and frankly, they don't care that much about your life or what you think. Here's your chance to use your tight writing skills. Get to the point immediately, stay on point, and finish that point in the least amount of words as possible. Limiting how much you post is a great way to limit how much time you spend posting.

Social media is a valuable tool, but that's all it is -- a tool, not a monkey on your back. Use it wisely so it doesn't use you like a fool.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Creating a Mystery Book Launch

Here's how an author plans a book launch from start to finish . . .

First find an appropriate venue. My latest release I co-authored is Out of the Frying Pan, which is a snarky mystery with a dose of romance tossed in. Because the story is filled with quirky characters, I searched for a quirky place to hold the event. Once Upon a Crime is a small, local shop that only sells mysteries. Score!
Kelly Klepfer and Moi

After arranging a time and date, I started planning what we'd do besides simply signing a book. We also wanted to do something a little more original other than flip open our book and start reading. So, we wrote a newsletter as if it came from the community that's the setting for the story. We embedded an easy to solve mystery in the articles, then we read the articles aloud. Afterwards, guests got to guess who did it and enter a drawing for one of three gifts.

Of course you can't have a party without food. We created appetizers and drinks that tied in with one of the main characters.

Here's how the schedule went:

6:30-7:00  Arrival and milling about, partaking of the snackies and drinks. Also you could get your book signed during this time.

7:00-7:30  Authors read and prize giveaway.

7:30-8:30  Loads of visiting and more book signing.

It was a super fun launch. This could be tweaked to work for any genre of book release. The point is to make it fun for the readers and to give them a little something extra for their effort at coming.

Friday, September 23, 2016

5 Quirky Sites

In honor of the release of my quirky mystery, OUT OF THE FRYING PAN, here are some quirky sites for you to check out . . .

This sounds super easy, but it gets harder as the game goes on. All you do is click on the square that is a different color. Simple, right? Yeah, well the shades start looking all the same after awhile, Bucko.

Amaze your friends with upside down text. No, really. Check this out:
¡ʇxǝʇ uʍop ǝpısdn ɥʇıʍ spuǝıɹɟ ɹnoʎ ǝzɐɯɐ

Tired of stupid emails but you really want to sign up for that sweet deal at a store? Pop on over to 10 Minute Mail and you'll get an email address that's good for 10 minutes. Then it disappears. That should give you enough time to get your deal, without having a bajillion sales emails being sent to you afterwards.

Want to see how many airplanes are in the sky right above your little piece of paradise? You'll be surprised.

Do you have an inner naughty child dying to do something rebellious? Here's your chance. Break the fire alarm.

Okay, so those were pretty ridiculous, but here's something that's got some value. Click to enter the Goodreads giveaway of 2 signed copies of OUT OF THE FRYING PAN.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Out of the Frying Pan by Michelle Griep

Out of the Frying Pan

by Michelle Griep

Giveaway ends September 30, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Thursday, September 22, 2016

We Can All Do Better

Here's a fun fact: you will never arrive.

Okay, maybe that wasn't so fun. Sue me for false advertising. Really, go for it. You might be able to finagle out of my estate the forty-three cents underneath my couch cushions, if you don't mind diving through the dog hair to get it. And even that's kind of iffy. Might be only thirty-eight.

Anyway, my point is not to discourage you but to encourage you to always strive for more. You'll never be the writer you want to be because you can always grow in the craft.

Every new story is your opportunity to write better than your last one. How?
     - Try a new plot technique
     - Incorporate one quirky character
     - Toss in some powerful verbs
     - Edit like never before
     - Give every scene a cliffhanger
     - Make every first line memorable

The saddest thing I've ever seen is an author who stagnates, whose writing stays the same instead of continually becomes better, even just a little. Okay, I lied. The saddest thing I've ever seen is a kicked puppy, but this is a close second.

Don't give in to complacency. Take risks with your art. Grow, you little budding flower. Grow.

Oh yeah, and enter the Goodreads giveaway of one of two signed copies of OUT OF THE FRYING PAN.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Out of the Frying Pan by Michelle Griep

Out of the Frying Pan

by Michelle Griep

Giveaway ends September 30, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

How Long Does it Take to Write a Book?

I'm frequently asked how long it takes me to write a book. That depends, of course, on how long the book is, but for an average 90-95k novel, I can do it in about 9 months. That includes my excessive editing and some research, assuming I have a basic knowledge of the era. If I don't it takes longer. How does that match up with other authors?

Here are a some famous authors and their even more famous titles, along with the time it took them to write the dang thing.

GONE WITH THE WIND by Margaret Mitchell
10 years

12 years

16 years

A CHRISTMAS CAROL by Charles Dickens
6 weeks

9 months

TWILIGHT by Stephanie Meyere
3 months

THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgeral
2 1/2 years

6 years

So, as you can see, there is no standard time for writing a novel.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Winners and More Winners

**steps up to microphone**

**horrific ear-bleeding reverb and an instant jump back**

**shading eyes with one hand, squinting into the darkened auditorium, giving the sound man a pathetic whimper**

**timidly reaches out one toe, an inch, two, sets down foot and nears the microphone once again**


"Ladies and gentlemen and awesome Writer Off the Leash readers, I am proud to announce the winners of the OUT OF THE FRYING PAN signed-copy giveaway. And the winners are --"

**excessive drum banging and crashy-crashy cymbal slams**


WOO-HOO! A huge round of applause for our intrepid winners. 

And before your pouty lower lip drops to the ground because you didn't win, you get another chance to snatch up your free signed copy of OUT OF THE FRYING PAN. This time there's a giveaway over on Goodreads. Here's your chance . . .

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Out of the Frying Pan by Michelle Griep

Out of the Frying Pan

by Michelle Griep

Giveaway ends September 30, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway
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