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Thursday, July 7, 2016

To Describe Or Not To Describe


In reading newsletters this week, I came across a couple that addressed the same topic...but each expressing the opposite point of view. So, I'll share it with you, my readers, as see if a consensus can be reached.

Do you think your reader needs a detailed description of your characters? Now, I'm not talking about an information dump...or the obvious self-description as a character views him/herself in a mirror kind-of-writing. I'm referring to telling the reader what color hair, the color of the eyes, the shape of the body, etc.

I found lots of great sites on the subject when I went googling. Here are a few quotes to tease and links to read for yourself.

"Description doesn’t have to be direct to be effective." Rachel Scheller
http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/there-are-no-rules/11-secrets-to-writing-effective-character-description

Writers Stack Exchange - "I think that you should define your main characters, and especially the love interest, only as much as absolutely necessary."
http://writers.stackexchange.com/questions/12717/is-it-better-to-describe-the-main-characters-physical-appearance-early-on-in-th

Jami Gold -  "As with many elements of writing, we need to decide what impression we want readers to have." http://jamigold.com/2014/10/ask-jami-how-do-we-describe-characters/

My personal choice? I grew up listening to radio, a great imagination stimulator. Rather than a description of physical attributes, I rely more on mannerisms and emotional reactions to define my characters. My motto? Let the reader envision their own concept of the character.

Now I'd like to hear your opinion.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

What's A One Sheet?

  How many of you have completed your one-sheet? A one-sheet is a quick way to introduce your novel (and yourself) to interested parties. It's a visual and concrete selling tool to give an agent or editor that contains the vital information about the novel you're wanting to get published. A one-sheet will make a lasting impression weeks after the meeting.

It can be two-sided, but keep all the information to one sheet of paper. Don't get fancy with the text, color or images and leave lots of white space. You want something that will allow the reader to capture the information in a glance.

Start with a catchy title. Add a brief (100-150 words) blurb about your story. Be sure to include genre, length, and degree of completion. If you're pitching a series, include a brief capsule of each book in the series.

A photo of yourself, name, and a bio will help the agent/publisher make the connection at a later date. Be sure to include all contact information, including any website they can go to that will share more about you and your body of work.

If you have a publishing history, include that information. Include anything that will help you and your work stand out  from the crowd. One final note - keep a .pdf of your one-sheet    handy on your computer. It's a great way to transmit asked-for information.      



Here are a couple sites to check out if you have unanswered questions:
http://communicateskills.com/2013/01/07/how-to-create-a-strong-one-sheet-for-yourself-or-your-business/
http://towriteastory.com/whats-in-a-one-sheet/

Friday, June 24, 2016

A Blog About Blogging

Thought I'd do a bit about blogs and blogging. Hope you find the posting helpful and thought-provoking.

BLOG:  a piece of software which allows you to write an online diary on a website. A blog is used to communicate with the billions of web users throughout the world. The modern blog evolved from the online diary, where people would keep a running account of their personal lives.  A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic.Readers can access the archives, previous posts, leave comments, and even message each other.

If you’re serious about blogging,  purchase a domain name and hosting account. A few places to check out are: WordPress.com

      Wix.Com
      Weebly.com
      Blogspot.com

The Blogger's Code of Conduct is a proposal by Tim O'Reilly (http://www.oreilly.com/tim/bio.html) for bloggers to enforce civility on their blogs .

  1. Take responsibility not just for your own words, but for the comments you allow on your blog.
  2. Label your tolerance level for abusive comments.
  3. Consider eliminating anonymous comments.
  4. Don't feed the trolls.
  5. Take the conversation offline, and talk directly, or find an intermediary who can do so.
  6. If you know someone who is behaving badly, tell them so.
  7. Don't say anything online that you wouldn't say in person.

Maintaining a blog has proved to be a profitable venture for some folks. Every published or soon-to-be-published is encouraged to create a blog and update it frequently. It's a great way to give your prospective readers teasers or background information about your book. 


Here are a couple blogs that have made it big time. Julie Powell's blog, Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen together with Julia Child's autobiography, My Life in France, eventually evolved into the hugely successful movie, Julia & Julie.
Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/), founded on May 9, 2005, has an active community, with over one million comments made on the site each month.


Sunday, June 19, 2016

Ever Heard of a CTA?

(Obeee53)

Call To Action

Seems this is the latest 'buzz word' connected to promoting your brand. I first heard it expressed at the NETWO conference I attended a couple months ago, One of the presenters, Ken Tumlinson (http://www.kevintumlinson.com), tossed it around frequently.

Basically, it's another tool you add to your promoting bag of tricks to create connection with future readers. When I went looking for more information about what this involved, I found a lot of help on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/business/help/1626883224209011.

Of course, Facebook's talking about adding it to your page but you can include a CTA in any situation where you are reaching out to your reading public.

At the conference, we were encouraged to include it in our published books,  include a link to our Amazon page, asking the satisfied readers to go there and post a review.

Since I had a new novel coming out in May, I contacted my publisher to ask that it be added to the book. Unfortunately, the proof copy had already gone to the printer and I was told there would be a charge for any changes I wanted done.

My solution? A quick visit to Vistaprints http://www.vistaprint.com/ where I designed some inexpensive stickers that I applied at the back of the pre-release copies I soon ordered.

Here's another website that explains the importance of a Call To Action: https://www.truconversion.com/blog/conversion-rate-optimization/want-to-increase-sales-10-powerful-tactics-to-write-a-hard-hitting-call-to-action/

Now to get busy and add a CTA to my social media accounts.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Love From a Book Club


It's a gratifying feeling to be loved by a book club.

Last weekend my friend Carole Crow invited me to come meet with her bookclub, the Summit View Lake Book Club. They had chosen my latest release, Not Bound By Blood,
as their recent book-of-the-month read.This was a new experience for me and I didn't know what to expect.

I walked into her living room and found myself surrounded by interested readers, eager to share their pleasurable experience and loaded with questions. From their comments and questions, I learned just how successfully I had accomplished my goal to write this particular story.

Questions about the fate of a couple minor characters told me I had failed to satisfy my readers adequately. But the comments about how they were able to step into my story's timeline and remarks about the details I included really helped them feel the authenticity of what they were reading.

They wanted to know how I came to be an author and some about the path my writing life has taken. I shared my experiences and gave them a glimpse into my world of writing and publishing. There was even an opportunity over Clay's (Carole's husband) delicious snacks to chat with on who kept referring to herself as a newbie. She shared the road her writing had taken her and I encouraged her to keep in touch, let me know her progress to publication.

It was so rewarding to hear complete strangers express the pleasure they'd gotten from reading my book. If any of my author friends ever receive an invitation to meet with a book club, I urge you to jump at the chance to sit down with some of your readers and become better acquainted.



Saturday, June 11, 2016

Sidelining a Stall


Every writer gets stuck from time to time. My latest release, Not Bound By Blood (http://amzn.to/1NpgmhH), had a long road of bumps, halts, and starts. I recently came across a journal posting from 2012. At the time, I had reached the middle of the story, knew where I wanted to get, but not how to get there.

I agonized for weeks -- distracted myself by fleshing out scenes for later in the story -- but was at a loss on how to fill in the gap. I was stuck.

My solution was to push myself away from the torture of a silent keyboard and turn to an entirely different creative activity. My particular choice of escape at that time was to take on a quilting project. There is something about choosing scraps of fabric and shuffle them about to see how they complement each other that soothes me.

All the while, my subconsciouscontinued working at sorting out that story's plot, without my even being aware. As I worked at the repetitious activity of feeding tiny pieces of material past the machine's needle, images and scenes would pop uninvited into my head. I allowed them to float past, knowing they would find a lodging spot in the recesses of my brain and await my future invitation to see the light of day on my computer screen.

When the words and pictures inside my head felt ready to coalesce into a solution to my dilemma, I returned to the writing, refreshed and ready to pound the keys and shape the rest of the novel into shape.

It took several vacations-on-the-shelf before I finally wrote 'the end' to Not Bound By Blood.  It was released in May 2016 and I'm now anticipating the excitement of reading several promised reviews from faithful readers.

Thank you to all who enjoy the tales I write.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Considering Indie Publishing?


Now that print-on-demand has simplified the publishing process, there are small independent publishing houses popping up like multiplying rabbits, While the advances are minimal and sometimes non-existent, there are other advantages to going with a POD publisher.

Working with a small independent publisher allows the author more creative control over his/her book. Small publishers tend to work more intimately with their authors, including them in many of the decisions. Also, a small publishing house may be more willing to take a risk on non-commercial work as long as the writing meets their standards.

I've had the satisfying experience of working with White Bird Publishing  http://whitebirdpublications.com/ since its beginning days. Over the years, I've developed a personal relationship with key people in the company. Their acceptance standards are high and every book accepted for publication goes through a rigid process.

I am kept informed of my manuscript's process every step of the way. Even though I am one of their multi-published authors, I still have to give final approval each step of the way, say in the formatting,  cover design, and proofing. Only when I give my approval does the process go forward. I really appreciate being closely involved in the publication process.

So. if you're considering using a small press, be sure to do your homework. Check out their website, look over what they publish, contact their published authors and ask questions. Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc.'s article on the subject  (http://www.sfwa.org/other-resources/for-authors/writer-beware/small/) will get you started.

Listed below are some other resources to get you started in the right direction.

Publishers Marketing Association (http://pma.com.pk/) is a trade association of independent publishers organized to advance the professional interest of independent publishers.

Small Press United (http://smallpressunited.com/) seeks to draw awareness to and provide information about small presses. It sponsors an annual book fair, holds regular workshops, and features readings by small press authors.

Small Press Association of North Amrica (www.spannet.org) forms a strategic alliance among small publishers and independent booksellers. It helps to create entrepreneurial opportunities for new small publishers.