Writing Resources 26 October 2013

WR10262013 ADJHere you will find a selection of the best of the blogsphere from the past week. Starting this week you’ll find a NaNoPrep section about halfway down. Grab your coffee, straighten the glasses or spritz those contacts and above all – enjoy!

Inform & Inspire

K.D. Lovgren: The things I tell myself while I write a novel. “This is my wiser self, speaking to the one who flails about and doesn’t believe. This is what works for me. Want to eavesdrop? Get in the bubble. The bubble where you can get lost in another world. Go to a music service that lets you create a playlist. Think about the scene you want to write.

Writing

Kristen Lamb: The Heart of Great Stories—How to Create Clear, Interesting Character OBJECTIVES. “As storytellers, we must create a sympathetic, compelling lead if we want readers to engage. This is especially critical for longer works like novels or series. The longer the work, the more readers must love the protagonist, because they’ll be spending a lot of time together. Yet, an interesting protagonist is not enough. We have to have an actual story, which demands an interesting objective.

Shawn Coyne: Conventions and Obligatory Scenes. “If I hand you my novel and tell you it’s a murder mystery, what would you expect from the book before you even turned the title page?

Janice Hardy: Keeping Goals and Motivations Fresh. “There’s so much pressure on writers to find the fresh, original idea, that we often forget there are only so many plots to beginning with. Depending on which theory, that can be anywhere from two to thirty-six, though the classic number is seven. (Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, The Quest, Voyage and Return, Comedy, Tragedy, and Rebirth)

Chuck Wendig: 25 Reasons I Fucking Love Genre Fiction. “What follows below is the presentation speech I gave at this year’s GenreCon in Brisbane, Australia. I had originally thought to do a 25 list devoted to what I see as problems in genre fiction from the authorial perspective — but I was taken by the sheer love of All Things Genre at the conference and decided instead to be a fountain, not a drain, and talk about all the things that genre fiction does well.

JR Sheridan: Writing Tips: Real Life Violence With Author And Bouncer JR Sheridan. “Until literary success finds me ready, willing and able to accept the accolades and riches, I have to keep up a proper job. I am a Door Supervisor. Trained and licensed to the standards of the Security Industry Authority. The old term is Bouncer, which has been deemed by the powers that be to be politically incorrect.

Roz Morris: Dialogue special part 2: dialogue is more than talking. “Dialogue is action. Dialogue is a kind of action scene. Although the conversation is the main focus, the characters are more than just mouths. Make the characters respond to each other. There should be give and take. A good scene will give a sense that something in the story has changed; in a dialogue scene you can make the conversation cause this change.

Elizabeth S. Craig: What’s Important in a Story?I was going through my blog reader recently and came across an interesting post from writer Jeff Cohen: “Stuff Not to Do” on the Hey, There’s a Dead Guy in the Living Room blog.  The whole article was good, but the part that particularly caught my eye was this: “Don’t decide on the crime and then create a character to fit it. Character comes first. The crime is the bait; it’s what Alfred Hitchcock called “the MacGuffin,” something the people in your book are desperate about but the reader should find secondary. Your characters are first…

Writer Support

Michael Cahill: How Can Writers Take Advantage of the Affordable Care Act?The only worry freelance writers should have is finishing their pieces by deadline. Unfortunately, things aren’t so simple. One of the biggest causers of stress for the self-employed writer is getting health insurance. Unlike their less independent counterparts, freelance writers don’t get the benefit of a plan provided by their employer or access to an affordable group health insurance rate.

Susan Spann: Rejections and Partials and Fulls … Oh, My!Most writers agree that the query process isn’t the most fun you’ll have on the way to publication. Essentially, the query is a new car design … and the author, the crash-test dummy. If you’re like most of us who query, you’re going to hit a few walls before you reach THE CALL that leads to representation. However, the querying process is neither a license to gloat nor cause for despair, and there are several things you can do to ease the experience.

NaNoPrep

Lindsay Buroker: NaNoWriMo Prep: How Do You Write More in Less Time?If you’ve tried NaNoWriMo before and haven’t finished those pesky 50,000 words in the month allotted, perhaps you’d like some tips on how to get more written in less time. I always feel like a bit of hypocrite when it comes to productivity tips, since I a) don’t write 10,000 words a day like some authors and b) am the master at dinking around on Twitter, Facebook, and, ahem, “researching” on the internet during writing time. But, hey, I have published ten novels and however many short stories and novellas in the last three years, so that ought to count for something. So, without further waffling, here are my tips for finishing those 50,000 words in one month…

Nina Amir: How to Write a Good Book in 30 Days. “November hits and the writing world goes crazy. It seems like everyone hustles to produce a book in a month, but is it really possible to create a good manuscript in 30 days? Actually it is. Whether you choose to take part in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) or in  National Nonfiction Writing Month (NaNonFiWriMo), also known as the Write Nonfiction in November (WNFIN) Challenge, truth be told, you can produce a good book in a month. However, I contend that doing so takes a good bit of planning prior to the beginning of November as well as some tenacity.

Alexandra Sokoloff: Nanowrimo Prep: Expanded Story Elements Checklist. “What I am forever suggesting is that studying the movies and books that you love, and looking specifically for those story elements and how they are handled, is like playing scales on a piano or doing barre work in dance. Practicing this kind of analysis builds your chops as a writer and becomes a natural part of your writing process. It can also help you solve virtually any story problem you come up against.

Kristen Lamb: Conflict—Giving LIFE to Your Fiction. “Bad decisions make GREAT fiction. I know it’s tough to not write about fully evolved/self-actualized characters, but those guys are B-O-R-I-N-G. We like to watch people grow, probably so we might glean some hint of how to grow, ourselves. The more messed up a character is? The more INTERESTING they become. Come on! You know it.

Publishing

David Gaughran: Amazon Makes Life Easier For Authors of Historical & Literary Fiction. “There are lots of reasons why self-publishing success stories tend to concentrate around writers of “genre” fiction, but it’s a mistake to assume that success is impossible if you write literary fiction or historical fiction (which tends to get lumped in with literary fiction, even though it’s just another genre… like literary fiction!).

Jane Friedman: My Newest Project: Scratch Magazine Launches Today. “Very few people or publications speak openly about the economic realities of the publishing business. In our bare-it-all media culture, frank talk about money remains taboo. Writers often lack the context or insight to understand our own industry, even as that industry undergoes massive structural and economic changes. Scratch provides a home for open and sustained discussion of these experiences through high-quality content. Yes, we publish advice for writers—but we also go further, investigating the nuances of writers’ relationships to money, work, and publishing.

Marketing

Lindsay Buroker: Price Pulsing, Advertising, and Increasing Visibility on Amazon. “As authors, we’re always looking for ways to sell more books. We’re sure everyone (or at least %0.01384 of the population) would adore our stories… if only they knew about them. Obscurity is the enemy, so it’s no wonder that most of us spend hours browsing online forums, blogs, and the pages of Amazon itself in an attempt to figure out the magical formula for getting our books in front of more potential buyers. In the fast-changing digital marketplace (*cough* especially Amazon), fame (AKA visibility) is fleeting and it’s entirely possible to go from being solidly mid-list to having only handfuls of sales from one year to the next (or one month to the next).

Joanna Penn: 5 Ways To Share Your Book Research With Your Readers. “I’m obsessed with learning about new places, different ways of looking at the world and scouring sources for little tidbits that can bring my story alive. As well as enriching your writing, your research can also function as extra content that your readers will love. Plus, it can also be a great marketing tool, drawing people to check out the book. So here’s some of the ways you can share your research with your readers…

Chuck Wendig: Your Book Is Not Pepper Spray That You Must Fountain Into My Eyes. “Dear People Who Have Written Books: I don’t want to be advertised to. Or, put differently: I don’t want to be strapped down while you advertise all over me in some acrid, splashy golden shower version of “marketing.” I awake daily now to find that someone has posted a photo of their book to Facebook and tagged me in the photo. Not because I had anything to do with the book. Not because I even know this person, but just because they want me to see it.

Social Media

Johnny Base: What Is Google Plus And Why Should Writers Use It?Let’s start with what Google Plus is not. It is not a social media platform filled with teenagers and people with too much time on their hands. It’s not a vortex which only wastes time. It is not Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter. Google Plus is a business tool.

Resource Heaven

Cate Russell-Cole: Where to Find The Must-Have Extra Features for Your Blog. A great list of blog enhancers well worth the look.

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Writing Resources 20 October 2013

Writing Resources 10202313Here you will find a selection of the best of the blogsphere from the past week. Starting this week you’ll find a NaNoPrep section about halfway down. Grab your coffee, straighten the glasses or spritz those contacts and above all – enjoy!

Inform & Inspire

J.A. Konrath: Quitter Quitter. “I was on Kindleboards reading about the reaction to my last blog post where I shared my numbers. During the discussion, someone brought up all the writers who have given up. It reminded me of a blog I wrote back in 2005, called Quitting. It’s worth reading. Go do it. You might also want to check out the comments, because I drop a lot of my philosophy about what it takes to succeed. Keep in mind, when I wrote this, I was netting about $25k a year writing.

Christine Carter: How to Avoid Burnout—or a Breakdown. “Feeling maxed-out? Like you’d like to lie down so badly you are having “hospital fantasies”? (Not familiar with that term? Hopefully you aren’t as tired as this woman, who writes about her hospital fantasy: “I stumbled back to work when my son was 6 weeks old. He had colic and chronic ear infections, so I really didn’t sleep for a year. No exaggeration. I would fantasize about having a minor car accident on the way to work. Nothing serious—just enough to lay me up in the hospital for a few days so I could sleep!”)

Writing

Ali Luke: Four Ways to Cut Your Novel’s Draft (and Make Your Story Stronger)Is your novel looking a little bloated? Do you have a sneaking feeling you’ve repeated yourself a few times? Are some of your scenes really just unnecessary padding between episodes of action? Believe me, I’ve been there. I cut my novel Lycopolis from 135,000 words (Draft 5) to 85,000 words (Draft 6). It made for a much stronger novel, and I’m hugely grateful to my editor Lorna Fergusson for her invaluable help in deciding what to cut.

Ava Jae: How to Fast Draft. “NaNoWriMo is nearly here. And reaching 50k at the end of the month, my friends, requires fast drafting. So for those of you who are new to the mystical ways of writing faster than the Energizer bunny on speed, here are five quick tips to help you get through your first draft quickly.

Jami Gold: Does Fast Drafting Create Editing Nightmares?Last week, we discussed how we can plan our story and avoid writing a “hot mess.” With NaNoWriMo almost upon us, now is the time to think about basic planning for plot and character arcs so we end up with a coherent story. But what about the writing quality itself? NaNo writing—where we have the pressure to write 50K words in 30 days—is similar to fast drafting or word sprinting, like on Twitter’s #1k1hr hashtag.

Marcy Kennedy: How to Successfully Write Omniscient POV. “In case you’re not sure what I’m talking about, omniscient POV is when the story is told by an all-knowing narrator. That all-knowing narrator is the author, and the story is told in his or her voice rather than in any particular character’s voice. If you’re thinking about writing in omniscient POV, there are three criteria you need to meet to make it work.

Roz Morris: Dialogue special part 1: how do we get characters talking?Some manuscripts I see have no dialogue, or very little. There will be plenty of description, back story and even action, but the writer won’t have allowed the characters to step out of the narration and express themselves and interact with others. If there are conversations, they will mostly be reported instead of shown ‘live’…

Susan Spann: 25 Things You Need To Know About Writing Mysteries. “Mystery offers plenty of room for variation, too. Murder is universal—it can happen in any setting and any time. A sleuth can be a professional, an amateur, or a NINJA (though I’ve already done that last one), and your victim and method can vary just as widely. One warning, however: killing your imaginary friends is a lot like eating potato chips. Nobody I know can stop with one.

Writer Support

Kristine Kathryn Rusch: The Business Rusch: Carrots And Sticks. “Once upon a time, maybe five years ago, I used to wake up and figure in my head which deadlines I needed to tackle that day. The most critical, the hardest, or the ones with the most cache/money/interest always got put in line first, and then I would build everything else around those. I had several systems for this, including one on my paper calendar, a different one on my computer calendar, all with reminders and targets and completion dates.

Michael Cahill: How Independent and Self-Published Authors Can Get Health Insurance with the Affordable Care Act. “With all the fanfare going on with the US government this month, this guest post by Michael Cahill, a health insurance writer is particularly timely. In this post he spells out what the Affordable Care Act means for us indie writers living in the US, and what you need to do in order to benefit from it.

Elizabeth S. Craig: Traditional Publishing: One Reason Not to Choose It. “The Bookseller’s and FutureBook’s annual publishing survey.  Porter Anderson in his weekly Writing on the Ether column for industry expert Jane Friedman’s blog, quoted Sam Missingham: “Traditionally published authors say they need more marketing and publicity support. But self-publishing authors say they want to get contracts because they think a publisher will give them the very marketing and publicity support the traditionally published writers say they don’t get.” It’s time to put this marketing myth to bed.  Marketing support should not be your reason to go to traditional publishing, y’all.

Susan Spann: The Key to the Competent Query. “Many authors feel great angst about queries. There’s so much talk of perfection, and many authors fear the process because they worry that “the perfect query” lies beyond their grasp. Don’t fear – you do not have to be perfect. You simply have to write a query that does (and does not do) a few specific things – I call it a COMPETENT query.

NaNoPrep

Alexandra Sokoloff: Nanowrimo Prep: Story Elements Checklist. “As any of you who are brainstorming Index Cards right now have found, this is not an orderly process. You will be coming up with scenes in no order whatsoever, all over the structure grid. Some that you will have no idea where to put. And so while this week I will be working ahead through story structure in a relative order, I want to re-post the whole general Story Elements Checklist, so you have a whole overview of scenes and story elements you will be needing beyond whatever act we happen to be talking about at the time.

Kristen Lamb: With a trifecta of excellent prep posts

Creative people are a lot like tigers. We do a lot of what looks like laying around and warming our bellies in the sunshine. Yet, what we’re really doing is powering up because, once we go after that first draft, those words can be more elusive than a gazelle that’s doping. Regular folks who clock in and clock out of jobs in cubicles are grazers. They do the same routine day after day. *munch, munch, munch*. I feel this is often why creative people feel so stifled in these environments. We’re tigers stuffed in a non-tiger role. TIGER BLOOD!

Preparing for NaNoWriMo & Feeding the Muse to Go the Distance

Fueling the Muse for NaNoWriMo

How to Give Your NaNo Story a Beating Heart and a Skeleton

Publishing

Jane Friedman: Is Self-Publishing the Most Important Transformation in the Publishing Industry?Today I attended Frankfurt Book Fair’s CONTEC conference. The name CONTEC represents the marriage between “content” and “technology,” and featured more than sixty speakers from twenty countries. At the end of a very full day of keynotes and interactive sessions, an editor from Publishers Weekly shared his main takeaway in the conference ballroom: “The self-publishing discussion is the only conversation we need to be having today.

Hugh Howey: The Future of Books. “What you see above is Augmented Reality, or AR. Unlike Virtual Reality (VR), which replaces what we see with a new world, AR blends the real and the make-believe into one seamless whole. As young as this field is, it already achieves mind-blowing results. The first time I saw anything like this, it was in the Lego store in NYC. There, you can hold a Lego box set up to a monitor and watch the finished Lego set hover over the box. It’s freaky and cool. I think it’s the future of picture books.

Marketing

Darcy Pattison: Writing with Fans in Mind: What Will I Put on the Website?I quoted a study that said fans come looking for certain things on an author’s website. I am working on a draft of my new story this week and that study keeps haunting me. Am I providing any of these things on a regular basis? Is there any reason for a fan of my writing to keep coming back to my website? These thoughts are starting to change how I write. Now, I also have open a second file that is a list of things to put on the website to go with this book.

Anne R. Allen: Social Media Secrets for Authors, Part IV: How Not to Spam. “If you’ve ever wondered why unsolicited Internet advertising is named after a perfectly innocent meat product, blame Monty Python. In a famous 1970 sketch, the customers in a café are constantly drowned out by a chorus of Vikings singing “Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam… Lovely Spam! Wonderful Spam!” Conversation is impossible because of the “spammers.

Rae Hoffman: Yes Virginia, Google+ Can Directly Impact Your Search Rankings. “Every time I see an article about how Google +1s currently have no direct impact on search rankings, I cringe a little bit. Not because I believe Google +1′s DO currently have a direct impact on your search engine rankings. The reason I cringe is because so many people seem to read a quote like the below…

Technology

Derek Murphy: How To Make Your Own Free Book Cover In MS Word. “This will be a ‘crash course’ in the minimal skills you need to create a winning cover in MS Word. You’ll learn how to use Word to blend images, add layers and transparency, use font effects and space letters (kerning), strip background, and the general principles of cover design. These instructions are for MS Word 2010, so they won’t work for everyone, but if you have an older or newer version of Word, the process will be similar.

Phi Tran: These Augmented Reality Glasses Makes Star Trek’s Holodeck a Reality. “If you’re ever dreamt of experiencing a Holodeck, then you’ve been waiting for this day. More precisely, you’ve been waiting for these CastAR Augmented Reality Glasses that brings sci-fi holographic projections to life.

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Writing Resources 12 October 2013

10122013 Writing ResourcesHere you will find a selection of the best of the blogsphere from the past week. Starting this week you’ll find a NaNoPrep section about halfway down. Grab your coffee, straighten the glasses or spritz those contacts and above all – enjoy!

Inform & Inspire

James Clear: How Willpower Works: The Science of Decision Fatigue and How to Avoid Bad Decisions. “Why do we make unhealthy and unproductive choices — even when we know we should do better? If you ask most people, they will say that poor choices are a result of a “lack of willpower.” But research from Columbia University is beginning to reveal that willpower doesn’t quite work that way.”

Jami Gold: Being a Writer: Commitment vs. Self-Doubt. “Being committed to our writing career requires time. We spend thousands of hours learning the craft, understanding how the publishing industry works, and drafting and revising our words.

Gary Korisko: How to Find Clarity & Confidence as a Writer. “You’re sitting there staring at your latest piece on the computer monitor and find yourself asking, “Is this any good?” It’s gut wrenching to have to ask yourself a question like that, isn’t it? Even more painful is to realize you honestly don’t have a good answer.

Bob Mayer: The Author’s Marathon: 10 Things To Remember. “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.  It’s become a refrain of experienced authors to those rushing into the “gold mine” of self-publishing.

Writing

Janice Hardy: 4 Tips to Solve 99% of Your Writing Problems. “I’m a huge believer that mastering point of view (POV) will solve 99% of common writing problems. If a writer understands POV, then showing comes naturally, description is easier to write, character goals are clear, the stakes are personal, and thus stories feel more organic.

Roz Morris: How to switch point of view without confusing the reader. “One of the deadly sins of writing is the ‘head-hop’ – inconsistency with the narrative point of view. The writer will be following one character’s perspective, then forgets to keep to it, or switches to another in a way that creates a logic hiccup.

Marcy Kennedy: Are You Writing in the POV You Think You’re Writing In?Point of view problems are the most common problems I see as a freelance editor. And I’m not surprised. Point of view is a difficult concept to master, yet it’s also the most essential.

Darcy Pattison: Awful First Draft: It’s Hard to Trust the Process. “I am in the midst of a truly awful first draft. Really. I have NEVER written such a bad first draft.
This is a sequel and it must be written to roughly follow an outline, but the outline seems sorta dead.

Jodi Renner: Concrete Tips for Developing an Appealing Voice in Your Fiction. “In a nutshell, the ideal “voice” is that natural, open, charismatic tone and style that pull us in and make us feel like we know the characters well — and want to get to know them better! A strong, compelling voice will bring your characters and story to life on the page. Voice is personality on paper.

Two Fantastic Plotting Posts from Janice Hardy

How to Plot With the Three-Act Structure.

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Plotting With the Hero’s Journey.

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Shannon Donnelly: Scene Arcs. “Everyone knows there’s a story arc—story goes up in tension, reaches a peak, and falls down. And there are character arcs, too, since story is character and character is story. But what about your scene arcs? That’s right—every scene needs an arc.

Shawn Coyne: The Hierarchy of Needs. “Why is understanding the concept of “need” such an important part of Storytelling? It is because the most meaningful stories operate on two levels, the external and the internal, the conscious and the unconscious.  The external story is on the surface. External events are driven by outside forces. Personal outside forces (like a femme fatale) and extra-personal outside forces (like the LAPD).  Your lead protagonist’s external story moves backward or forward according to his moment to moment success pursuing his conscious object of desire, his “want.”

Writer Support

Anne R. Allen: The Laws of the (Amazon) Jungle—Eight Rules Authors Need to Know to Stay Safe. “Everybody tells authors we must use social media to have successful careers in the E-age, but nobody talks much about the dangers that lurk here. Here’s the thing: the Internet is still the wild frontier. And it’s so huge nobody’s quite sure how to police it.

Hugh Howey: Making a living as an author(s)?Remember Franklin W. Dixon? What about Carolyn Keene? Both had productive and profitable writing careers. And neither of them ever existed. What is the recipe for writing success? Steady and reliable releases. Look at the top authors across both indie and traditional methods and you’ll find a stream of books that keep themselves in the public consciousness while delivering what’s expected of them. One book a year is not enough to launch a career. I’ve seen indie authors hold back their books until they have enough stored up for monthly releases, just to give themselves a better chance.

Joe Konrath: Konrath Talks Numbers and Gives a Few Pointers. “One thing I’d like expound upon is that inspiration comes in many forms, and while I’m grateful to have inspired many writers, and humbled when they thank me, I encourage people to use this blog and my words as resource, but not as gospel. I’m just a writer trying to figure things out. Sometimes I do, and sometimes I’m a bit ahead of the curve, but my success still comes down to luck. I believe, if you work hard, you can also improve your chances at luck.

Susan Spann: Own Your Business As You Own Your Book. “You wouldn’t start a new job by saying, “hey, Mr. Boss, go ahead and pay me a pittance percentage from whatever you have left over after you take out all your other expenses, and while you’re at it, don’t bother telling me about my job expectations. I’ll gladly clean the toilets (with a toothbrush) and there’s really no need to let me know why you’ve paid me or not at the end of the month – I’ll totally trust your judgment.

NaNoWriMo Prep!

Kristen Lamb: NaNoWriMo—Training Lean, Mean, Writing Machines. “NaNo is a lot like a military bootcamp. Many who sign up for military service aren’t in the fittest condition. Sure, we might meet the weight requirements (or get a waiver), but most of us don’t start out being able to knock out a hundred pushups on the spot. We likely have little experience running ten miles with a heavy pack of gear on our backs.

Cate Russell-Cole: NaNoWriMo: Links, Resources, Articles and a Nonfiction Alternative. “Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It’s all about quantity, not quality. This approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

Also from Cate: NaNoWriMo: Planning and Tracking Tools. “I was involved in NaNoWriMo last year. These are some of the most useful tools people were looking for in the lead up to the big month. I hope you find them useful.

Jami Gold: NaNo Prep: Do You Know What to Plan in Advance?Posts abound this time of year about planning for NaNo so your story will end up as a decent first draft. But do you know what kind of planning will help you the most?

Chuck Wendig: Welcome To NaNoWriMo Prep School, Word-Nerds. “If you are partaking, I’ll be here all November, and I think I’ll keep the blog posts during that time shorter and sweeter — a month’s worth of motivational boots-in-your-boothole to keep you on track and slugging away at the word count.

Alexandra Sokoloff: Nanowrimo Prep: First, You Need an Idea. “The thing is, “Where do you get your ideas?” is not the real question these people are asking.   The real question is “How do you go from an idea to a coherent story line that holds up – and holds a reader’s interest – for 400 pages of a book?”

Also from Alexandra: Nanowrimo Prep: The Three-Act, Eight Sequence Structure. “The real secret of film writing and filmmaking, that we are going to steal for our novel writing, is that most movies are written in a Three-Act, Eight-Sequence structure. Yes, most movies can be broken up into 8 discrete 12-15-minute sequences, each of which has a beginning, middle and end.

And one more from Alexandra (can you tell she is one of my silent mentors *smile*): Nanowrimo Prep: The Index Card Method and Story Structure Grid. “Get yourself a pack of index cards. You can also use Post-Its, and the truly OCD among us use colored Post-Its to identify various subplots by color, but I find having to make those kinds of decisions just fritzes my brain. I like cards because they’re more durable and I can spread them out on the floor for me to crawl around and for the cats to walk over; it somehow feels less like work that way. Everyone has their own method – experiment and find what works best for you.

Publishing

Dean Wesley Smith: The next two parts of Dean’s Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing are out: #5… Book as Event. AND #6 Selling to a Big Publisher Insures Quality. Highly Recommended Reads!

Marketing

Dan Blank: How to Create Word of Mouth Marketing For Your Books? Be Awesome.Again and again, we hear evidence that “word of mouth” is the way that people hear about books. So let’s think this through: how do you create more word of mouth marketing around your books?

Joan Rylen: Make Your Mark with these Marketing Tips. “It doesn’t matter if you’re self-publishing or going traditional, one thing is for sure – marketing yourself is a must. Many cringe at the thought, but there are some ways to make it less painful and more productive.

Courtney Gordner: How to use Pinterest to Promote Your Book. “Pinterest takes the concept of a personal bulletin board and applies it to an online forum, allowing members to create multiple boards about various topics on which they can “pin” as many lists, pictures, videos, and links as they desire.

Technology

Ava Jae: How to Use Scrivener’s Cork Board. “The cork board is actually the feature that sold me as far as buying Scrivener goes, and what I love about it is that it allows me to combine my plotting with flashcards method that I’ve grown to adore over the years, with the simplicity and beautiful organization of the computer. (Plus the lack of cramping hands is a pretty nice bonus, too).

Dianna Dilworth: App Annie Adds eBook Intelligence. “App Annie, an analytics agency that provides insights into app data, has expanded its services and is now providing eBook statistics for publishers and authors.

Also from Dianna: Mobile Path to Purchase: INFOGRAPHIC. “Seventy-three percent of smartphone owners use their devices to shop for products this year, up from 34 percent last year, according to a new report by Local Corporation called  ”Mobile Momentum: Spotlight on the Mobile Local Shopper.

Resource Heaven

Gabriela Pereira: Announcing New Writing Resources at DIY MFA. “We’ve introduced the DIY MFA reading and community resources, but in the end, it all comes down to writing. Sooner or later writers need to get their backsides in the chair and do the work. To that end, we’ve created a go-to list of writing resources here at DIY MFA so that you to help you master the craft, boost your creativity and get motivated.

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Pimp & Promote Saturday

Hi everyone!

I’m in the final push to the end of half-semester college classes which means:

1) Insufficient time to put together a Resources list AND…

2) A final chance to Pimp your favorite site or post while Promoting your own.

My half-semester classes end on Wednesday the 9th, so this will be the final Resources hiatus before the end of the year. Take advantage of the chance and share what you have found useful.

Peace *smile*

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Writing Resources 28 September 2013

Writing Resources ADJ 09-28-2013Here 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.

Inform & Inspire

Hugh Howey: Listen to Yourself. “I just had a reader point out an ancient blog post of mine, and boy, does it make for an interesting read in light of the success of WOOL. A snippet: Here’s what I was thinking: First, the books come out in a serial format, instead of one giant chunk. Each section would be around 30 pages (10K words) and have a basic beginning and end with a little hook to keep the reader enticed. At the end of ten sections, you have a completed work (and it just so happens, my first two books have this precise format).

Kristen Lamb: Want to Be Successful? Beware of End-of-the-Rainbow Thinking. “Our culture has been infected with a disease of distortion, what I’m calling “End-of-the-Rainbow-Thinking.” We can all be guilty of this. We see the mega-best-selling-indie, the New York Times best-selling author, the successful small business, the guy with the big house or the family who lives debt-free and we scope-lock on the end result as if this “success” POOF! erupted from the ether.

Writing

Tiffany Lawson Inman: Emotional Barrier in Fiction: Why is it so important for you to learn how to cross it? (Part One). “Most people are afraid of the thoughts and situations that forced them to feel hate, shame, guilt, terror, deep sadness, and dread. Humans are blessed to have the ability to emote, but they also have within them an emotional barrier to protect them from feeling some of those nasty things. It also protects them from revisiting past emotions. Unfortunately this emotional barrier makes emotions one of the most difficult area of fiction to write.

Janice Hardy: Open Up! Writing the Opening Scene. “The primary goal of an opening scene is to make readers want to read the next scene. You’d be surprised how often this is forgotten, because the focus is on establishing the setting, introducing the protagonist, and telling readers all about the cool story waiting for them. These are all important things, but on their own they’re not going to do what an opening scene needs to do—grab readers and keep them reading.

Larry Brooks: How to “Write Like Rowling”. “Author names don’t come any bigger than J.K. Rowling.  And because of that, readers regularly request a deconstruction of the Harry Potter oeuvre.  Some, I suspect, want to see the theories disproved.  Others simply want to see it exposed, lifted from the pages to becomes an example we can learn from. So here you go.

Roz Morris: How to develop a writer’s instinct. “How do we develop a writer’s instinct? How do we get the confidence to strike out creatively? How might we become more original in our writing?

Ava Jae: World-building Tip: 15 Details to Remember. “While there are probably hundreds of details that go into building a world for your novel, I’ve narrowed down a list of fifteen particularly important ones (at least to me), to help you develop your world.

Writer Support

Joanna Penn: Lessons Learned From 2 Years As A Fulltime Author Entrepreneur. “Two years ago, I gave up a secure career as an IT business consultant for large corporates, earning a six-figure income, to become a full-time author-entrepreneur. Yes, I understand that writing is not just about the money, and yes, I do value creativity for its own sake. But this is also my life and pays the bills these days.

Cate Russell-Cole: Getting Real About Writer’s Burn Out and Social Media Demands. “Lack of response can come down to time availability, overload, required response numbers… and the need for a balanced life which includes family, recreation and rest. Those of us who have the sense to balance our time, or step away from “must-do to succeed” tasks, can pay a price in public criticism and the god called search engine rankings. It’s time for technology and all writers to stop cracking the whip and set better standards. Our online culture needs to allow people to lead balanced lives! We are creating our own hell… but we can create a way out of it, by changing our expectations and what we pressure other writers to do.

Ali Luke: Write More Easily: Understanding, Embracing and Moving Beyond Resistance. “In this month’s seminar for Writers’ Huddle, I talked about resistance – a powerful force that can stop us writing, if misunderstood and unchecked. Resistance is feeling you don’t want to do something – even when you know you’ll feel good afterwards. Here are just a few of the things I’ve felt resistance about in my life … do any of them sound familiar to you?

Marketing

Jane Friedman: Why Don’t Publishers Believe in Author Websites?It’s not unusual for authors to be told by their publishers that an author website isn’t necessary or effective. Publishers may advise authors that they’re better off creating and maintaining a Facebook page instead. It came up again, yesterday, at a Digital Book World marketing conference. I didn’t attend, but I followed the Twitter stream. Here’s the conversation that happened.

Darcy Pattison: Why Authors Should Believe in Their Websites. “When discussing book marketing, a useful concept from marketing people is the idea that there are three ways to reach people. Paid media, which is the traditional advertising. This type media will attract strangers who originally knew nothing about you and your book. Owned media…

Jami Gold: Branding 101: What Is Your Brand?. “Our author brand is just others’ impression of our stories, of our writing, or of us as a person or an author. Because of this, we can (and probably should) make conscious decisions about who we want to be, both in real life and in our brand.

Kristen Lamb: Our Author Brand—The Choice Between Meaningful and Empty, Sad Imitation. “There are marketing technophiles who will gladly (and often for a fee) set up our social media to act on its own. We spend an hour writing clever snippets, plug them in and POOF! A machine can tweet, post on Facebook, post about our blog and we can happily do whatever other more important thing we have to do without ever worrying our pretty little heads about social media. Yet, I would say that, whenever we consider our author brand, we need to also consider whether it is authentic, because in the Digital Age, authenticity is something people are desperately seeking. In the sea of 0s and 1s we long for that human touch and voice that gives information its meaning.

Jo Linsdell: Promoting a Virtual Book Tour. “Whether you want to launch your new release with a bang or put some life into an older publication, virtual book tours can be an effective marketing strategy. They can be done from the comfort of your own home and at little or no cost. The benefits of doing a virtual book tour are numerous. They do however need to be done correctly in order to see good results.

Anne R. Allen: The Ebook Market No Author Should Ignore: Think Globally!. “One of the biggest changes the e-reader has brought to the publishing industry doesn’t get much cyberink in the online book community. It’s the huge international market that’s opening up now that we don’t have to pay to ship physical books around the world.

Social Media

Marcia Richards: How To Power Up Your Pinning. “If Pinterest still seems like it might be “too addictive”, a “time-waster”, or too “hard to use as a marketing tool”, think of it as a new twist on the old practice of tearing out magazine pages of recipes, home decor, fashion or inspirational articles and filing them in a folder for future reference or sharing with your Mom or a friend.

Francis Caballo: 4 Time-Saving Social Media Tips for Authors. “What is time suck? It’s the hours of time you can unintentionally spend in front of your computer reviewing Facebook posts, retweeting your Tweeps, and uploading photos while your writing and maybe even your family await your undivided attention.

Publishing

Kristine Kathryn Rusch: Addendums, Rights Grabs & Agents (Yet Again). “Recently, I got e-mail from another career writer, talking about a rights grab from a traditional publisher. I saw the document in question; it’s egregious. I do not have permission to talk about this particular document nor would I, since it’s proprietary, but it’s the kind of document I’ve seen at least six times in the last two years. These documents are addendums to publishing contracts. Since the rise of e-books, publishers have issued the addendums frequently and often en masse.

Susan Spann: Do You Own Your Copyrighted Works?. “Many authors will view the title of this post with a skeptical eye. How could I not own my copyrighted works? I wrote them, I own them. Question answered. Or is it?

Phi Tran: Goodreads’ New Censorship Policy Causing a Stir Among the Frequently Reading. “If there’s one thing most readers find controversial – it’s censorship. If you mix a bunch of highly literate, well-informed readers on a social network like Goodreads and tell them they can no longer express their opinions on authors of said books – well, you’re just asking for trouble because that’s censorship. Right?

Dianna Dilworth: Pubsoft Lets Authors & Publishers Sell eBooks Direct. “Pubsoft is a new platform designed to help small publishers and authors sell their eBooks directly to readers.

Technology

Amit Agarwal: How to Migrate your Blog from Blogger to WordPress. “Your blog (abc.blogspot.com) is hosted on Blogger but you would now like to move your blog from Blogger to WordPress (self-hosted) with a personal domain name like abc.com. What is the easiest way to switch from Blogger to WordPress without losing search traffic and your existing subscribers?

Dianna Dilworth: ReadRover Helps Children’s Book Authors Create Apps. “Children’s book authors can use the platform to build children’s eBook apps, as well as to publish these titles in the App Store or in the ReadRover app.

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Writing Resources 21 September 2013

Writing Resources ADJ 09-21-2013Here 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.

Inform & Inspire

Jami Gold: WANACon: A Conference for All Writers. “Imagine a writers’ conference with high-quality speakers, matching those found at national conferences. Imagine being able to attend for a fraction of the cost of other national writers’ conferences and with no travel costs. Imagine being able to attend no matter your location, time zone, health or family issues, etc. Now imagine all that in a virtual conference center, complete with a “lobby” for chatting between sessions, social activities to get to know other attendees, live presentations with webcams and screen sharing, and real-time question and answer sessions. In short, imagine an online conference that felt like an in-person conference—other than the pajamas and fuzzy slippers.

Gabriela Pereira: What I Learned About Balancing Writing and Life From Elizabeth Craig. “For most writers a book a year is a great goal. It’s difficult, sure, but still manageable. After the release of  Quilt Trip in December, Elizabeth Craig will have released four books just this year. In addition to that she writes an award-winning blog, tweets links to some of the best writing info on the web, and manages the writer’s equivalent of Google. Oh, and did I mention she also has a family and a life, and even finds time to drive the carpool?

Jeff Goins: Rules, Discipline, and the Paradox of Creativity. “For an artist, rules are tricky. In creative work, they can be your best friend or worst enemy. They keep us safe from going off the “deep end” but can also restrict our passions. So how do we use these regulations for good?

Writing

Kristen Lamb: How Sick is Your Novel—Can It Be Saved?Many writers struggle. We hate our beginnings, revisions are a nightmare and endings can fizzle. We work, rework, cry, try again and still don’t nail it. The second act sags and we start wondering if maybe we should reconsider learning medical billing instead of writing.  Yet, I do have good news. I’ve never worked with a dying patient manuscript that couldn’t be saved.

Jami Gold: Are Beat Sheets Intimidating? Cut through the Clutter. “It’s no secret that I’m a fan of story structure. I’ve created several beat sheets and have oodles of posts about the topic. But I’m also not a math person, so the idea of working in Excel for all those worksheets gave me the heebie-jeebies at first. I’m probably not the only one.

Chuck Sambuchino: How to Start Your Novel. “One of the most common reasons why agents and editors stop reading sample pages is simply that the story starts too slow. Gone are the days when a book could “get good on page 12.” We also can no longer compare our writing to classic works or even books written 30 years ago that started slow and found marketplace success. Today’s novels — especially debut novels — must grab readers from the first page, the first paragraph, even the first sentence.

Ali Luke: Choosing the Right Viewpoint and Tense for Your Fiction [With Examples]. “Who’s telling your story? Perhaps the choice is easy and obvious: you’re writing from a particular character’s viewpoint in the first person (“I”) and the whole story is from their perspective. Or perhaps it’s trickier than that. You’ve got a story to tell involving multiple characters, and you need to make some choices.

Elizabeth S. Craig: Writing Setting and Other Description—Getting Past the “Who Cares?” Aspect. “I dislike writing setting and description, but I used to absolutely despise it.  I’ve got plenty of now-published manuscripts in my Word archives with helpful editorial direction on them: “Elizabeth, could you share with us what this car looks like?  I can’t really picture it.

Marcy Kennedy: How to Write a Tagline for Your Book (And Why You Need To). “As writers, we hear about loglines all the time—how to write them, why we need them, when to use them. And so, when we hear about this thing called a tag line, it’s easy to make the mistake of thinking tag line is just another name for a logline. It’s not and we need both because the tagline is what goes on your book cover.

Chuck Wendig: 25 Things You Should Know About Worldbuilding. “Worldbuilding is one of those topics that bakes my noodle every time my brain chooses to dwell on it. I have a whole bucket full of opinions, many of them in stark disagreement with one another. So, this list below should never at any time be taken as “25 Exhaustive Universal Truths About Worldbuilding,” but rather be regarded as, “25 Things Chuck Wendig Thinks About Worldbuilding At This Exact Moment In Time, Oh, Wait, Some Of Them Just Changed.

Writer Support

Cate Russell-Cole: Writing Toxins: Optimising A Fully Functioning Mind. “Like all writers, I have days where I just can’t get work done. I have goals, deadlines and a schedule I try and follow, but it can be easier to plan than to write. If I have failed to nurture my mental energy, I just want to fall asleep on my keyboard, achieving nothing. One of the biggest source of this problem comes from the mind – body connection we all have. Brains need fuel. The most critical components are oxygen and sleep.

Debra Eve: How to Create a Three-Phase Writing Ritual. “Literature abounds with the quirky things writers do to entice the muse. Victor Hugo wrote in the nude so he wouldn’t leave the house. Steven Pressfield recites the Invocation to the Muse from Homer’s Odyssey and writes on his computer until he starts making too many typos. Then copies his work to disk and stores it in his truck in case the house catches fire. Victor Hugo and Philip Pullman have writing habits, but Maya Angelou and Steven Pressfield engage in writing rituals. The difference is immense.

Bob Mayer: Redux: “I’m convinced fear is at the root of most bad writing.” Stephen King. “Actually, I believe fear is at the root of almost every problem a person has.  Fear can be paralyzing.  It’s an insidious force that destroys from within.

Publishing

Porter Anderson: Hybrid Author Hugh Howey on Self vs. Traditional Publishing. “If publishers price their ebooks low enough…readers will buy more than one version of the same book. Speaking earlier this month, a few days before Amazon announced its MatchBook plan to offer “bundling” of low-cost or free ebooks with print book purchases, self-publishing entrepreneur and hybrid author Hugh Howey was — as seems usual — a bit ahead of the game: ”Ebook-plus-audio or ebook-plus-print,” he told Publishing Perspectives in an interview.” Also from Porter: 10 Counterintuitive Tips for Self-Publishers.

Dean Wesley Smith: Killing the Top Ten Sacred Cows of Publishing: #4… You Need an Agent to Sell a Book.Some myths are very, very deep and based in old publishing and I’m afraid this agent myth is one of them. This one caused the most anger the first time I wrote it and now in this updated and redrafted version, I’m sure it will have its detractors. (I love that kind of understatement.) The key is to just step back and think it through, decide what path, what method, is right for you. Very easy for me to say, very hard for all of us to do.

Dianna Dilworth: Indie Author & Graphic Designer Launches New eBook Store Called Libiro. “Indie author Ben Galley and graphic designer Teague Fullick have introduced a new indie eBook store called Libiro. The site sells books in every genre including: fiction, non-fiction, sci-fi, romance, erotica, horror and children’s among others.

Susan Spann: Copyright Formalities Part 2: Copyright Registration. “Today, we’re continuing discussion of copyright formalities with a look at copyright registration, meaning registration of copyrighted works with the United States Copyright Office.* The U.S. Copyright Office allows authors and publishers to register copyrighted works. Registration can be completed online or by mail (though the Copyright Office prefers online registrations, and I suspect before long online registration may become mandatory).

Social Media

Cate Russell-Cole: Facebook Groups for Indie Authors. “There are many… here’s a starter list. Not all these groups are Indie specific. Try searching under Indie, Author and Writer on Facebook to find more. I am not involved with many of these groups, as I simply don’t have enough time: so please use at your own discretion. I have left the full web address here so this page can be printed.

Lisa Hall-Wilson: 5 Reasons to Use a Facebook Profile (Not a Page) to Build Platform. “My host here today, Jane, was among the first to announce she was only going to use her personal Profile on Facebook rather than starting an official Page. That trend is growing, and there are a number of reasons why that might be a good idea for you too. First, let’s make sure we’re all using the same terms. A Page and a Profile are distinct things in the Facebook environment, and there’s an easy way to tell the difference between them.

Jenny Hansen: 3 Tips On Cleaning Up Your Twitter Account. “I just did my yearly Twitter clean-up in Tweepi, which is something I recommend you try. Mind you, I don’t advocate doing this very often. It’s time consuming to go through all the people you follow 20 at a time. That’s all you can see at once on the free version of Tweepi, so this will yearly clean-up will take you an hour (or more, depending on how many people you follow).

Kristen Lamb: Top 5 Panel-Van-Creepy Social Media Tactics. “It is estimated that the average American is exposed to about 3,000 advertising messages a day. Everywhere we go there is yet another ad—billboards, commercials, radio, train tunnels, e-mail, cereal boxes, mail boxes, and even on the golf holes and bathroom stalls. The simple truth is that we are over-saturated with marketing, and it is making us sick. Those who continue to pour it on will not be regarded fondly. One tactic some “marketers” are using to get beyond our mental ad filters is to “make their approach personal,” but are they simply going too far?

Anne R. Allen: Blog Communities: Forming a Safe Place for New Writers in a Scary Online World. “Some pretty scary things have been happening in the online book world recently—stuff that’s been shocking to those of us who expect our fellow book-lovers to behave like civilized adults. I spend a lot of time telling new authors how to use social media to create a “platform,” but I probably don’t warn you enough about the dangers. I did write a post last spring on Gangs of New Media, talking about how the “hive mind” and rage addiction are adversely affecting our industry.

Marketing

Lindsay Buroker: Pricing for Launch: Book 1 in a New Series, Go High or Low?If you’ve been following my blog for a while (or since last Thursday), you know I’m releasing the first book in a new series next week. As an independent author, you get to choose your own price for your ebooks, and it’s no surprise that “how much is right?” is hotly debated.

Kristen McLean: Understanding the Five Phases of Book Marketing. “For a book to successfully find a reader, there are two big things missing from this “new publishing” equation: Marketing and Discovery. In other words, how do we (the content creators) tell people about our work, and how do they (the readers) find new things to read?

Jeff Goins: Why Building Your Own Platform Is Essential. “If you want to be heard by hundreds or even thousands, you really have no excuse. Nothing’s holding you back. But if building a platform is so accessible, why aren’t more people doing it? Why aren’t people sharing their art? Maybe it’s not for a lack of resources. Maybe it’s lack of understanding — how to use the tools they’ve been given. Maybe you can relate.

Tech

Dianna Dilworth: Smashwords Releases Book Discovery Tool. “Self-publishing platform Smashwords has released a new tool to help authors make their books more discoverable. It’s called Series Manager and it gives writers the ability to attach their books to series, as well as manage series metadata.

Amit Agarwal: Don’t Use Google+? You Can Still Use it for Editing Photos. “You want the vacation photographs to look awesome before you upload them to your Facebook or send them via email. Image editing tools like Photoshop can help but they seem a little overkill for simple enhancements and you would also need some understanding of Levels and Curves to fix the dull photos.

Dianna Dilworth: Essay Starter App Helps Writers Add Footnotes. “Sometimes it is easier to write when starting with research. Essay Starter is a new $.99 app from Ashton East that is designed to help writers start essays based on research and then wrap footnotes around these references.

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Pimp & Promote Resources Special

Hi everyone.

Work and college have conspired to overwhelm my time this week, which means I’ve not had the time to compile Writing Resources. In three weeks, the time drains will change when my two half semester classes end.

Feel free to engage in another “Pimp and Promote” day.

Pimp a great post or blogger.

Then, Promote one of your own.

If all goes well, Writing Resources will return next week. Have a fantastic weekend!

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