Social Media and writing

When I first started out in the writing world, I had no idea WHAT I was doing to be perfectly honest.  All I knew was that I wanted to write a book and be a published author.  I had NO IDEA that there were so many strings attached until I actually sat down and started writing.  I mean, first you have to WRITE the book, then they expect you to get an agent and/or a publisher (whichever comes first), and NOW they expect you to MARKET your own work?  So, what gives?  Isn’t your agent/publisher supposed to do the marketing for you?

Well, that answer my friend, is complicated.  Yes, to a degree your agent/publisher is supposed to HELP you with the marketing, but in retrospect, it’s primarily the AUTHOR’s responsibility to get their name out there themselves.

You mean, I won’t be an overnight success? Oh, honey, it’s time to get off your pandemonium, and come back to earth!  Getting your name out there takes TIME and DEDICATION.  It took me OVER 2 years to write and complete my first novel, and another several months to find my publisher (and not everyone gets that lucky by the way!).  I had SOME idea of what to do, because I went to a book signing by Richelle Mead (a NY Times Best Selling Author of the VA series), and she gave some sound advice…DO YOUR RESEARCH!  She also gave us the link to the Predators and Editors website, which soon there-after became my second best friend.  It’s a website that lists the majority of agents and publishers, and tells you who to look out for and those who will try and scam you.

So, I received an offer from an agent/publisher, what’s next?  The next step is to DO YOUR HOMEWORK.  Don’t rush to sign the contract right away.  Yes, it’s exciting to get that first offer, but make sure you have your parents (if you’re living at home), AND an attorney look over the contract (ESPECIALLY if you don’t have any experience in preparing contracts or law, which about 85% of us don’t).  Once you have had the contract thoroughly inspected, and you feel FULLY confident that said publisher/agent is right for you, then, and ONLY then should you sign. Because honey, once you sign that contract, THERE IS NO TURNING BACK!

So, what’s the big deal about social media?  Who needs it?  Who needs it you ask?  Well, all authors need social media to market their work.  Starting a blog, or podcast is a great idea to start making a name for yourself.  Making a website to show off your work is also another good idea.  At least 99% of authors have their own website; it helps boost traffic, and it helps get your name out there.  Social gatherings are also a great way to market your book.  Whenever I am with my boyfriends friends, he is always finding some way or another to get my work out there, and sometimes, they just bring it up randomly, asking me how my writing is going!  If you’re serious about your work, and you make it known, other people will take you seriously too!

Networking is key!  Make use of places like facebook and twitter!  I can’t tell you how many twitter accounts I have (more than I probably should), and they are all for some aspect of writing in one way or another.  As a writer, Twitter and Facebook will become your best friends.  Since August, I have acquired over 400 friends on facebook in the writing community alone (probably more).  I have over 700 friends on there, and the number keeps growing.  I have over 300 followers on my personal twitter page because I participate in literary discussions and communities that help boost traffic.

Another thing that will help, is if you join sites like shewrites.com or bookblogs.ning.com.  They are big writing communities that will help authors promote their work in safe and friendly and professional environments.

So, you mean I can’t be an insta-star? No, my friend, I am afraid that the answer is no.  Becoming a respected author in the writing community takes time.  You must ALWAYS network and market your work.  If you get stuck, join a writing community or find someone like me who is willing to walk you through the steps of the writing world.  I may have a publisher, but I am still learning the ways of the author myself. I am not claiming to know EVERYTHING, but these are some important tips that I have learned over the last several months, and that I feel are important for young and new writers to learn.

And remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day!  Good writing takes time and practice, and A LOT of research. I am constantly reading books, and browsing websites of the same genre I write in, and I am ALWAYS learning something new!  Just have patience, because if you are a serious writer like I am, then you are in for a long, and bumpy ride!

-Beth

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Blog Talk Radio

Hi my name is Ashlynn Monroe and as a writer I love to meet other authors and learn from them.  My favorite thing about being an author is how much I’ve learned about my craft and about myself.  I started a blog talk radio show every Sunday at 5:30 pm cst so I can talk to other authors and give them a venue to promote themselves.  The show is called mustlovebooks and it’s so fun to do.  I made the choice to give up this writing time to do the show purely for fun.  I also hope it will stimulate interest in my work as well as the authors I promote.

If you are thinking about starting a blog or a blog talk radio show here are some important things to keep in mind.  Unless you have a premium show and sell commercial space (I don’t) you aren’t making any money doing this.  Don’t invest a bunch of money in you blog or your show until you are making at least that amount writing.

Don’t start something and never finish it.  I was really terrible about my blog until I linked it to twitter and Facebook.  Now posting is a time saver and I want to do it.

Make sure your blog is easy to navigate and that people can find the information you want to present.

I actually took the blog off my website and went only with my WordPress blog because it was so much easier for me not to have duplicate information.

Don’t blog unless you have something of value to offer.  As a new writer it’s really hard to build a readership.  I feel that showcasing my fellow authors gives me something interesting to say while attracting readers who may not have heard of me to my blog/radio show. No reader wants to read about your fifteenth rejection for the month or what cereal you ate…leave that for Facebook!

**Hugs**End Rant!  🙂  I hope this is helpful to anyone thinking of starting up a blog or blog talk radio show.

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Starting a Novel

So you’re stuck staring at that blank word document, huh? I hear ya.

As Holly Lisle wrote “You’ve decided you want to write a book. Terrific.”

I’m going to be using her tutorials and advice a lot in the next several posts, and probably after that, too. Her website is full of really good advice and can be found at HollyLisle.com. I’ve done a lot of research on advice (mostly when I was stuck staring at a blank page or document lol) on how to move on, get out of writer’s block or even character development and I’ve found her information very useful. However, I’d like to add some advice of my own in this blog as well as perhaps leave out a thing or two. I still advise you to check out her site, and I’ll be providing extra exercises along with some of the ones she offers.

Alright, back to the purpose of this blog: starting your novel.

My first piece of advice is to write something, anything, even if it doesn’t mean anything to you at the moment. Get writing!

Even if you just copy and paste these following questions and answer one of them, it’s a start!

  1. Do you know your world?
    What kind of world is it? Are you using the modern, current world? Is it historical? Maybe you’re creating your very own world! Are you in some way changing or altering how our world works? Adding magic, vampires, shifters…how does that work? Are there rules?
  2. Do you know your characters? How well?
    Who is your main character?
    Who is the antagonist?
  3. What is your conflict? What is your theme?
  4. What is your plot?
    Refine the answers to the above two questions and solidify it in to a plot.
  5. Whose voice is the story told in, is it first or third POV? Does it switch between them? Does it switch between characters?
    -When asked if there was a preference, Agent Kathleen Ortiz said “Both. But if you write in first POV, then that character better be that much more likable since we’re in their head” in a recent #askagent on Twitter.
  6. What genre are you writing?
  7. How long is this going to be?
    Full novel? Short story or Novella? Is there a word or page goal?
  8. Do you have a deadline?
    Sometimes setting a deadline and some kind of self-imposed penalty (or maybe get someone else to impose one on you) will help you to finish if you struggle with that. You know, no chocolate or -insert favorite food or thing here- until you finish if you don’t finish on time.

This is just a note: Don’t expect anything…just write to enjoy it and don’t worry if it will sell or not. If you worry too much, you won’t enjoy yourself and probably won’t finish…and it probably won’t wind up a very good novel, either, in my opinion. Remember to give yourself wiggle room, allow yourself to make mistakes.
Also, don’t worry about format if you don’t know the proper MS (manuscript) format, just enjoy writing and edit it later. Especially since different agencies and publishers sometimes have different format preferences. If you don’t want to worry about it later, then I’ll be doing a post about format soon. Let me know if you’d like that to be sooner rather than later and if you’ve got anything you’d like me to quote you on, please feel free to email me at: exotericwriter@gmail.com

Happy writing!
EW

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Computer Problems and Not Losing Your Novel

So, my computer had this weird meltdown today. Hours ago, I was playing a game and all of a sudden it just turned itself off. I tried turning it back on, but it just turned back off before the first screen. Weird, huh? It’s happened before but it’s pretty rare. What if I’d been writing? Well, here are some ways to protect your work from total loss on the incident of a computer failure whether it be minor or the blue screen of death.

Back up your work. I know, you probably hear that a lot, but trust me…it’s really good advice. Save it to a CD (rewrite-able) or USB key. However, that’s not always 100% reliable. To guarantee that you don’t lose anything, you should save frequently and e-mail it to yourself. That way if the CD is faulty or gets scratched and the USB key winds up getting messed up from someone else’s computer, you still have a draft you can just download from your e-mail.

Okay, what if you’ve got a bigger problem? What if you don’t have access to a computer now that yours has crashed? Or what if there’s a power failure? Well, if you’ve got access to your e-mail from a phone or device like an iPod, that’s good news for you. There are Microsoft Office apps for those devices. And even if you don’t want to type on that small keyboard, then don’t! Just grab a pen and paper and hand-write if you have to. I know, as both a precaution and preference, some writers like to print out their novels as they go along so they always have a hard copy available to edit and in case the file is corrupted, etc.

No matter what, there are always things you can do if you can’t work on your novel. Again, take a pen and paper and start developing those characters you haven’t gotten to yet…or name some places that will be featured in your story. Of course, sometimes you need to do some more outlining or just re-route the outline you’re currently using.

Happy writing!
EW

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A little advice from writer to writer…

When I was asked to share my experience with writing and becoming published I jumped at the chance. Why? Because I remember scouring blog sites before I was published. I wanted to soak up any information that would help me in my journey to getting my book published. In fact, I still spend a lot of free time visiting sites and learning.

The learning part…never ends.

One of the best pieces of advice that I think really helped me was to start a blog before I even sold a book. That’s right! Get your name out there…make sure you have the title writer someone on the blog. Doesn’t matter if you are published or not, you are a writer. You write, right? Join Twitter, Facebook and start talking. Share about how many words you completed during the day, hint about a storyline you’re working on, or share a link to a blog post you found informative. Make friends.

Why?

Because when the day comes and you receive the phone call or email offering you your first contract it can be overwhelming. You’ll be thrust into author groups, yahoo reader groups, chats, and be receiving lovely red-marked packages from your editor, cover art forms, and all kinds of fun stuff. Publishers will expect you to promote your book, and if your blog or website is already done, that is one less thing on your plate.

There is another good reason to have your name out there for the world to see. Publishers will be checking you out before they offer you a contract. They want to know if you are going to take an active part in promoting your book. They will be very excited, and that much more willing to send you a contract, if they know you already have the skills to sell your book.

One little bit of information: The pool of writers, authors, publishers, editors, cover artists, ect. is huge. Take advantage of finding others, following them, friending them, and chatting. These are people that understand the need to write, to express yourself with words, and you’ll find them supporting you every step of the way.

To learn more about Abby Wood, you can visit her website at www.authorabbywood.com, follow her on Twitter www.twitter.com/AbbyWood_Author, or like her Fan Page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AbbyWoodFanPage

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Common Writing Errors

There are certain mistakes, or errors, that a lot of writer’s tend to make and I’m going to highlight a few for you. A lot have to do with grammar, but some are even simpler than that. I’m no Grammar Nazi, and am certainly guilty of a number of mistakes as well, and I’m learning some of this along with you! I’m sure I’m not covering everything here in this list, so if you’re not sure about something just ask me and I’ll do my best to find out, or go ahead and search for the answer on dictionary.com or Google! They don’t bite and those, along with thesaurus.com, will probably be some of your best friends (if they aren’t already).

  1. Affect vs. Effect.
    These two words are often mixed up. They are very similar and the mixup is understandable, but what’s important to keep in mind is placement and context. Affect pertains to action, something that acts upon something else to produce some kind of effect or change. So, something that affects someone can cause an effect. And effect, therefore, is the outcome of a situation or result of a cause.

    I’ll use them in sentences:
    Affect – The unusually cold weather affected the oranges in Florida in a severe way.
    Effect – The effect of the unusually cold weather was the death of the oranges in Florida due to freezing.

  2. Your vs. You’re, There Their and They’re, Its vs. It’s.
    Another very common mistake are the two above being misused. Often I’ll cringe when someone says ‘your welcome’ to me. My welcome? That doesn’t even make sense. Your signifies possession while you’re is short for ‘you are.’

    Your – I really love your shoes, where did you get them?
    You’re – You’re the kindest person I ever met.

    Okay, it’s time for the second one. See what I did there? So, its is like yours and is used possessively. It’s is short for ‘it is’ or ‘it has.’ Sometimes, this is one of the trickier to tell between.

    Its – The dog has lost its collar.
    It’s – It’s nice to see you, it’s been a long time since I saw you last.

    The three others aren’t so bad once you get the hang of it. There refers to a place, their is possessive and they’re is short for ‘they are.’ So the odd one out is ‘there,’ since the other two are similar to the ones we’ve already covered.

    They’re over there!
    Mike went over there.
    Mike and Janet are upset the snow ruined their plans.
    Janet went there before she came here.
    The plans that were ruined are theirs.

  3. The tenses.
    This is very important for writers because keeping to one tense is a must. For most, I would suggest sticking to the past tense because it is, in my opinion, the easiest to work with and read. Future tense is rarely used and is also a headache to a reader for the most part and present tense, while more common, is more frustrating to me personally. Watch your tenses when writing because suddenly switching mid-story is a bad idea and will usually be a nuisance to anyone who has to edit your work (including yourself!).

    Future tense – John will look at Evan and confess to his part in the murder. “I’m sorry” he will say.
    Present tense – John looks at Evan and says “I’m sorry.” He is telling the other man everything he did in the murder.
    (While you can use past tense verbs in future and present tense, it’s harder to do while using present tense verbs are allowed in past tense story-telling.)
    Past tense – John looked at Evan seriously, intending to give a full account of his actions regarding the murder. “I’m sorry,” he said softly.

  4. Narrative.
    Like tenses, it’s not advised to switch narratives mid-story unless you have a good reason. I’ve only ever read a book in which switching the point of view (POV) worked for the story and it was in The Novels of Tiger and Del. There are three possible POV’s for storytelling and they are 1st person, 2nd person and 3rd person. First tells the story in the eyes of the main character using the word ‘I’, third has a more worldly viewpoint using ‘he, she’ etc and second is the mostly ill-advised use of making the reader feel like they are in the story by using the word ‘you.’

    The second is mostly used in stories for children or specific stories which lead the reader through some action-filled story that lets the reader feel like s/he is in the story. These types of stories usually let the reader choose their action by saying ‘turn to page four if you choose this and page five if you choose that.’

    Third person is probably the most often used POV followed closely by first.

    Second person – You walk through the dimly lit corridor and smell something rotting to the left and stop to investigate.
    Third person – Gabe walked through the dimly lit corridor, a hand trailing along a wall so he couldn’t get lost. He recoiled at the stench of something rotting to the left and debated briefly whether to investigate or not.
    First person – I walked through the dimly lit corridor and trailed a hand along the wall so I wouldn’t get lost. It felt dirty, grimy, and a smell to the left stopped me in my tracks. Ugh, what a stench, like something rotting; it made my stomach churn unpleasantly. But I had to investigate.

  5. Numbers.
    When writing numbers in fiction it’s proper to spell them out rather than use the actual numbers unless it’s over three digits.
    One, Ten, One-hundred.
    After that, you can use numbers like ‘1,000.’
    Honestly, I tend to write all my numbers for the most part because a lot of the websites I checked on this subject give different instructions.
  6. Short-hand, Text/chat-speak, Accents and Slang.
    Often, abbreviating something is done incorrectly. I suggest writing the words out no matter how tedious it seems because short-hand can be jolting. Unless you’re writing a journal-type story, or entry in your novel, I suggest sticking to writing it out unless the use of short-hand is for a purpose like characterization.

    Political Science is often incorrectly abbreviated as Poly-Sci when the correct abbreviation is Poli-Sci. However, a lot of people believe it is a mark of immaturity to use short-hand in your novel.

    Text/chat-speak: don’t do it. Unless you absolutely need to in your story, don’t. It’s unprofessional and just hard to read. Same goes for slang and accents unless they’re in dialogue and necessary for the character.

    Bad – Terry looked @ the clock and h8ted how early it was.
    Acceptable – Terry checked his phone and noticed a new text message from Gloria. ‘Hey, how r u?’
    Bad – Terry ain’t no fool.
    Acceptable – Terry said “I ain’t no fool.”
    Other than certain well-known slang terms, most readers won’t understand local or modern slang.

    As for accents, using them throughout your novel, unless it’s in first person (and even then, I don’t recommend it) is a bad idea. However, using it like J.K. Rowling did in Harry Potter for the foreign witches and wizards is acceptable. Some readers might find that annoying and feel like they have to decipher what the character is saying, but others like it and believe it adds flavor and characterization.

  7. Word choice and research.
    Okay, this is important. Like I said before, Dictionary.com, Thesaurus.com and Google will probably wind up being your friends while writing. Google is very useful for research, while the other two help if you’re stuck.

    Word choice is important. I’d like to use Twilight as an example. Stephanie Meyers, in the first book (approximately 400 pages) used the word ‘beautiful’ 800 times. That’s a lot! This is what you want to avoid. The thesaurus is a great place to find alternate words for one that you’re having trouble with. Off the top of my head I can think of ‘incredible, breath-taking, stunning, spectacular, fantastical, awesome, awe-inspiring’ as alternates Ms. Meyers could have used. Dictionaries are helpful in finding out if the word you’re thinking of using is actually correct.

    I’m also going to suggest using Blackle.com as a search engine for those conscientious of saving energy. It’s a small step, but does help, and I’m a big supporter of going green. There are several other search engines, but I believe someone else is doing a post about that.

    Research is also important. If you’re writing a historical piece, or a supernatural piece, it’s important to do your research. Actually, for almost every novel some research is necessary, even when creating your own world you need to do a lot of work. But I’ll get into that another time.

    I know it’s the least exciting aspect of writing a novel, but it is important. You need to know who lived in a particular era and what music did or didn’t exist if you’re writing a historical piece or even a time-traveling one! And for supernatural novels, you have probably read a ton of them if you’re writing one. Knowing the existing myths and histories of the supernatural in literature is important to decision-making and figuring out how the rules of magic work in your world, or even simply if vampires are allergic to garlic or not. All in all, no matter what you’re writing, you’re probably going to have to do research. Tolkien didn’t come up with Middle Earth on a whim, it took a lot of planning and he even created his own languages!

Hope that helped! If not, let me know and I’ll try for some more/better examples.

Thanks for reading,
EW

ETA: Sorry, I wrote this right before going to bed and mixed up second and third person. I have edited it above, but if mistakes linger, please tell me. To re-iterate: third is ‘he/she,’ second is ‘you’ and first is ‘I.’

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Writer’s block driving you crazy?

We live to write, but what can we do when we don’t feel like writing or we stumble upon writer’s block? Instead of hitting your head against the desk there are some things you can try.

Magazines – RT magazine is filled with author’s books. Read through your genre, and see what others are writing about. Sometimes this will spark an interest in something you never thought about before. How would you change the story? Let your imagination wander, and sometimes the simplest thing can get you to writing.

Keep a notebook – Jot down all those ideas that pop into your head at the supermarket or as you’re reading an email. Pretty soon you have a full notebook of ideas ready to be turned into a story. All you have to do is open the notebook up.

Lists – This is my personal favorite thing to do. I make a list of things I love. Pillows, sunsets, laughing, kisses, Levi jeans, staying up late, white chocolate, surprises, and money. I just made up this list, and while I was typing it, I started thinking about a woman who is working in a pillow factory and the stuffing machine goes haywire. Feathers fill the air, and despite the chaos, the heroine finds it hilarious to be covered in feathers. The boss walks in. He is not pleased, but boy is he sexy. The heroine has had a crush on him forever, but he hasn’t noticed her until he hears her laughter. It’s music to the ears. After hours of cleaning up, getting to know each other, they slip off to a restaurant for a drink…and white chocolate cake. Over the table, they smile at each other as he picks a stray feather still stuck in her hair. Now you give it a try…

People watch – This is a fun one! Did you notice the elderly couple holding hands while walking across the street? Adorable, huh? Now imagine them young, in love. They were just like us at one time. Maybe he was serving in the army, she was a nurse where his buddy recuperated. He asked her out for coffee. Or, maybe he was a wild young man, flirting his way through girlfriends, until he came across a young lady…a librarian. She, of course, made him mind his manners and showed him how to love himself first, before falling in love with her. There are lots of people in the world, and they all have a story. It’s always fun to ask your coworkers, relatives, and neighbors how they met too. Sometimes they’ll shock you!

Polls – Put a poll up on your blog/website. Ask questions on Twitter or Facebook. Everyone loves to talk about how they fell in love.

Read – Authors should never stop reading. Ever. It’s a wonderful thing, and a tax write off when you become a published author. You need books for research, for ideas, to study the industry. The benefit is it will get you thinking of your own story to write.

Think outside the box – What happens when a cowboy goes into the future? What if there was a new type of animal…a cross between a gorilla and a dog, and you have the only one? What happens if you found the cure to all cancers? What impact on the world would curing the common cold have? What would you do if you met your fantasy partner? (If you have children, this is a fun one to involve them in. Kids are naturally imaginative. Have them ask you silly questions.)

Last one for the day is…

Write! – It doesn’t have to be a story. It can be a grocery list, a blog post, or an email to a friend. Still can’t come up with anything? Start writing a recap of how your day is going. If you get in the practice of setting an hour a day to writing, it becomes a habit. Once you have that hour down pat…try two!

 

 

Debra Kayn writes for Carina Press (Harlequin’s Digital 1st Imprint), Etopia Press, and Breathless Press

 

Visit Debra’s website www.debrakayn.com

Follow her on Twitter www.twitter.com/DebraKayn

Like her Fan Page www.facebook.com/DebraKaynFanPage

 

 

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