Here you will find a selection of the best of the blogsphere from the past week. Grab your coffee, straighten the glasses or spritz those contacts and above all – enjoy.
Featured Post: Joanna Penn
Excerpt: “Fear of failure, fear of embarrassment, and for some even fear of success. But for me, it’s fear of judgment – fear of what people will think of my writing and me as a person when they read my books. Do you feel the same way? I’ve written dark things before but this is the first time I haven’t censored myself as I write. I’ve given the dark side of my mind permission to indulge but as I am about to start the rewrites, I find myself on the edge of crossing things out, not because they need editing, but because I don’t want people to read them and judge me for my thoughts. But then why do we write if not to tackle the fears that others look to us to conquer? So how do we tackle this fear of judgment?”
Inform & Inspire
The Passive Voice: What advice do you have for people who want to be writers? Here is a lovely ten-second reminder from R.L. Stine on writers and writing.
Elizabeth S. Craig: Focusing on the Writing First. Excerpt: “It seemed crazy to me at the time that the teachers would be working so long and so hard to open those half-painted-shut windows…during a tornado. I remember thinking, “So…if this were a real tornado, the kids will all be safe in the hall. And all the adults will be dead because they’re trying to open the windows. What will we do then?” The windows just weren’t the right things to be focusing on.”
Cate Russell-Cole: Sir Salman Rushdie On Storytelling. Cate shares a couple of inspirational video interviews with Mr. Rushdie that are packed full of information useful to all writers.
Christi Craig: You Are Here: The Road Map of Writing. Excerpt: “The road to publication is a winding, twisting path. Whether you aim to see your work in print or online, listed in the pages of the journal of your dreams, or mentioned in the New York Times, you’re likely to encounter detours and experience days when it seems this writing gig is all too much like a never-ending road trip.”
Martha Alderson: Goals for You and for Your Characters. Excerpt: “Successful writers establish long-term writing goals for themselves and long-term story goals for their protagonists and then set out to complete a series of short-term goals they believe will move them and their characters toward those final goals.”
Elizabeth S. Craig: Taking the Guesswork out of Writing a Traditional Mystery: 9 Common Problems (and Solutions!). Excerpt: “I hate to say it, but each book is a little different, just like each mystery is different. About every other book, I find that I run into a significant plot problem. The good news is that once you diagnose your issue, there are plenty of ways to troubleshoot it. What I thought I’d do today is to offer fixes for common problems you might encounter while writing your mystery.”
Roz Morris: Story structure: why plot milestones might not be equally spaced – and why that’s good. Excerpt: “I’ve had a question. “How exact do story milestones have to be? I did a lot of planning and put them in the ‘right’ points in the story (25% for the first turning point, half way for the midpoint, 75% for the second turning point). But they’re off by 1-2k words. Will the story feel unbalanced? Or should I keep trimming and adding?” The short answer: Stop! There is much to discuss.”
Diane Krause: Stressed-Out Characters – Just the Way We Want Them. Learn about four basic personality types and their stress reactions to ensure you’re getting the most of your characters conflicts.
Gabriela Pereira: Use a Mood Board to Boost Your Writing. Excerpt: “A mood board is exactly what it sounds like: a board where you post images that set the mood for your project. You use the mood board to capture the emotional core of your project and to figure out how your audience will connect to it.”
Carrie Mumford: The Budget-Friendly, Mostly-At-Home MFA. Excerpt: “I was recently chatting with a writing friend who is working away at her MFA. I was lamenting about how now is not a good time for me to complete an MFA, and she gave me a great idea: “Why not do your own mini, mostly-at-home MFA for a fraction of the price?”
Kristen Lamb: 5 Common Mistakes that Will KILL Your Novel. Excellent advice on ensuring that your conflict creation system, a.k.a. antagonist, is not only doing its job.
Chelsea Quinn Yarbro: Your Story Opening: Shock vs. Seduction. Excerpt: “A reader is drawn into a story in one of two ways: shocked or seduced. This is called the hook, and it must be in the first three paragraphs of the text, preferably in the first sentence. The hook also sets up the initial pace of the story, which is maintained through the beginning of the tale.”
Janice Hardy: Be Your Own Book Doctor. Recommended Read! Excerpt: “If you Google “book doctor” you’ll get pages of folks willing to analyze your book and tell you what’s wrong with it. While this might be a helpful option for some, not everyone can afford to pay for this type of advice. But never fear, because with a little objectivity (and a plan), you can give your novel a checkup all on your own.”
Kristen Lamb: 5 Red Flags Your Story Needs Revision. Excerpt: “Today I’m again donning my editor’s hat to give you a peek into what red flags agents (and even readers) see in those first five pages.”
Ava Jae: Revisions: Don’t Be Afraid to Make (Big) Changes. Revision can be a scary process – here are a couple tips and a bit of fortifying advice to help you through.
Dean Wesley Smith: The New World of Publishing: A New Slush Pile. Recommended Read! Excerpt: “Lots and lots of things have changed in publishing over the last five to ten years, and the slush pile for publishers certainly hasn’t missed that change. In fact, I would wager there are young editors in traditional publishing houses that have no idea what the term “slush pile” even means. And if ever explained to them, they would shriek in horror at the very idea.”
J.A. Konrath: Exclusivity. Konrath has been experimenting with KDP Select with some of his titles. Here are his insights and results, packed with information that anyone considering this route will find priceless.
Robert Bininotto: 10 Winning Marketing Strategies for Your Self-Published Book. Excerpt: “Becoming a successful “indie” author requires two basic things. First, you must craft a book that appeals to an identified target audience. Second, you must make your book “discoverable” to that target audience. Let me explain what that means, in ten steps.”
Nicolette Andrews: How to Connect with Readers Using Wattpad. Excerpt: “Wattpad, to me, is like the ultimate reader/writer social media outlet. And like any other media outlet it’s the ideal place to get to know your readers. I’m going to talk about a couple things that is unique to Wattpad and that I’ve utilized in keeping in touch with my readers.”
Kristine Kathryn Rusch: The Business Rusch: The Bad Book. Excerpt: “Every reader has a magic number in his head. That’s the number of bad books a favorite author has to publish before the reader gives up. The number varies from reader to reader. There are readers who give up after only one bad book. (Bad reader! No cookie!) But most readers give their favorite author two or three bad books in a row before giving up.”
Jane Friedman: 5 Industry Trends Requiring Every Writer’s Attention. Highly Recommended Read! Excerpt: “Most writers are aware that the publishing industry is undergoing a range of transformations, new beginnings, failures, and consolidations. But there’s so much change it can be difficult to weed out and understand the most relevant and important changes—especially when hundreds of opinions seem to surround the smallest change. Based on industry conversations I’ve had in the last six months, as well as reports I’ve read by people I trust, here are five trends that writers should keep a close eye on.”
Jason Boog: Could Supreme Court Ruling Help Create Used eBook Marketplace?. Excerpt: “The Supreme Court ruled that “first sale doctrine” protects book buyers reselling books that they purchased overseas. Would it also apply to websites like ReDigi that resell MP3 files? Capitol Records sued ReDigi to stop the resale of used MP3s, but the Supreme Court ruling could affect the case–possibly opening the door for digital book sales as well.” Original Story by the Associated Press, via The Washington Post can be found here: Supreme Court says copyright law does not protect publishers in discount re-sales.
Porter Anderson: Ether for Authors: Rumors of the ISBN’s Demise. In this issue you’ll find a deep look at ISBN’s and their future in the age of digital publishing, platform tips from Jane Friedman, an indie reality check from the experience of Patrick Wensick, info on the “used-ebook” debate, and more.
The Passive Voice: Choosing Colors for Your Covers. Excerpt: “Passive Guy admits sometimes he’s not so good with what colors go with what other colors. He has a shirt/tie/suit system worked out so everything goes together, but that’s because he seldom gets adventurous in this color realm Designing a cover is a different thing. Blue shirt/red tie/dark blue suit gets old very quickly in the world of book covers. Fortunately, PG has located some color crutches.”
Dianna Dilworth: Customize A Pre-made Book Cover For Your eBook. Here is an interesting site that, for a fee, allows for the simple creation of book covers for indie’s and self-pubbers. I’ve not used it, but do have it on my options list. Non-affiliate link.
Jami Gold: What Should an Author Website Include?. Excerpt: “Personally, I use the WordPress platform because it can handle the static pages of websites just as easily as the changing posts of blogs. We can choose the free (WordPress.com) or low-cost (WordPress.org) option that works for us and create a basic website with or without the hassle of a blog. Whichever way we choose, creating website pages is easier than we might assume. Next month, I’ll be teaching two workshops on WordPress for beginners to help writers build that online home. Now, let’s talk about what we should include on those website pages.”
August McLaughlin: Blogging Commandments: What Works for Me. Recommended for Bloggers. Here is an excellent collection of tips and wisdom gained from August’s experience.
Natalie C. Markey: Switching from Blogger to WordPress. Great comparison, tips and advice for those considering a shift.
Bess Weatherby: Why Writers Should be on Pinterest. Excerpt: “While many writers do use Pinterest for marketing and social media, I found it was most useful for the other two areas of my writing life: reading with purpose and writing with focus. In the process, however, I ended up building community. Inevitably, we all spend a significant amount of time on the web. With a “Pin-It” button on your browser, you can create an invaluable tool and resource for your writing life.”
Nick Ruffilo: Tips for Technologists #14: SEO and Discoverability. Excerpt: “SEO, or search engine optimization is a means of structuring your web page in a way that maximizes your search engine ranking…while SEO is critical for websites, book need something extra. Your book is not a website. If parts of your book are available online, then your book is also a website, but it is not just a website. For this exact reason, your book needs SEO and the right metadata (title, description, etc.) in order to be discoverable.”
Sandra Miller: 5 Questions to Ask When Writing Content. Excerpt: “It is true that Google’s algorithmic updates have caused many transformations in SEO copywriting. We all need to align the way we write with these constant changes. But, instead of us trying to stay one step ahead of the search engine equations, we can create our content with our human audience in mind, and meet them at the finish line.”
CNET: Google launches Keep to help you store your notes. If you are already using Evernote (of which Keep appears to be a mimic) or another cloud storage system – don’t bother with this. Given Google’s history, I’d not trust them with anything I couldn’t rapidly replace. However, I include this for those looking for other options and as a “stay informed” item.
Juli Monroe: Google Keep vs. Evernote. For those interested, this is an in-depth look at Keep and how it compares to Evernote.