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Monthly Archives: September 2013

You Are Getting Older, Deal with it


act your ageThings change with age…that is a fact of life. We all age and as we age, we change. Recently, I have become more aware of this than normal and I have especially become more aware of it in terms of my writing. Age….has changed that too.

When I was younger I wrote with reckless abandon. I didn’t worry about leaping into a safety net; I didn’t need no stinkin net. I was a writer….and a fearless one at that. I didn’t worry about failing or even if anyone was actually going to read my stuff…I simply assumed that they would. But now I am older…and, dare I say, wiser. I have now made all of the mistakes 20 + years of writing allows and I am at least hoping that I have some of it right.

Aging as a writer should make you and your writing more mature and that is a good thing. As we get older and presumably wiser, we need to embrace the experiences of life while trying not to lose a little of that dare devil from our youth. I have become a better writer as I have aged because experience has colored my outlook on things. While I may have looked at issues such as death and life one way when I was young, my life experience has helped me to develop a different outlook as I have gotten older and that is good for me as a writer.

Have you ever been at the mall people watching when a woman who is, let’s say a little further in years, walks by dressed in the clothes of a teenager? Your first thought is wow and your second is one of pity. “Isn’t it a shame that she hasn’t grown up” might be your thought…readers will say the same of your writing if you are not careful. So age gracefully fellow writers and wear the words of an experienced writer…readers will notice if you don’t act your age.

© The Writer’s Advice, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2013 in Healthy Writers, Writing

 

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Promoting Your E-book Might Cost Your Less Than You Think


Free-Marketing-Ideas

Recently I came across several websites and blog sites that were touting the joys of free promotion. It never actually occurred to me personally that there were other sites besides Facebook and Twitter through which to do this without having to give up an arm, leg or that bothersome first born. I personally am grateful for all the help I can get promoting my work. Assuming that you too would enjoy having this information I ran down 5 such sites that I feel comfortable recommending.

  • Author Marketing Club: Tired of looking up links to find the best places to submit your books? Here they are all together in one spot. Writers can just click on the logos to load each site’s form, fill in your details, and you are on your way to promoting your work.
  • Free Kindle Books & Tips: No better words can be uttered to a writer than “for free”. On this site just fill out the form and you are good to go. Books have to be free in the Amazon Kindle Store and must have an average user rating of at least 4 out of 5 stars for consideration though. It’s a great tool for writers wanting to try a book out on its own before charging.
  • GalleyCat Facebook Page: Writers can post their book in the “New Books” section. This is an easy way to share your book with readers. Remember that whenever you offer your book through a third party site, read the small print.
  • Goodkindles: Often times self-promotion is the name of the game for authors. This site offers writers a place where they can post an article about their title. It is a platform to shout out to readers about what you think is most interesting about your book. Who better to market your book than you?
  • Meet Our Authors Forum: Amazon offers e-book authors a lot of opportunities and one is their “Meet Our Authors Forum”. I think this is cool because how often do you as a reader get the chance to ask authors questions? This is a place designed to allow writers to talk about their work.

These are just a few of the places I discovered, there are tons more. I know that many of you hate the concept of self-promotion (I do too) but it is a necessary evil so we might as well take advantage of all that we can.

© The Writer’s Advice, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

 

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Have Book – Will Make Mistakes…What to Avoid


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We writers are not perfect. What?! Not Perfect…please…you may be saying, but it’s true…perfection is not a trait we carry as writers. We make some whoppers sometimes and as beginning writers we makes some pretty lame ones too. There are some basic mistakes that I can help you avoid though. They may sound like lame mistakes at first but put some thought into them because many, many writers make them all the time.

Mistake #1: Telling folks you’re writing a book –

This is a doozy. Almost every writer wants to brag, it’s in our nature. The problem with bragging however is that you then have to follow that up with action and therein lies the rub. If you are walking around talking about writing a book, you aren’t actually writing the book. Stop telling folks you are writing and instead write!

Mistake #2: You have your manuscript done and it’s the bomb –

Manuscripts are like newborn babies. When your kid first comes out it’s all “awwww, how adorable” but then you take it home and that first night the little bag of bones keeps you up all night crying because it was much more comfortable inside that womb. Your manuscript is the bomb when you first print it out because it is technically, done but alas, the work is just beginning. There’s editing, cutting and polishing…and trust me, just like that baby was more comfortable inside the womb, your novel was better inside your head too.

Mistake #3: Asking everyone you meet for their opinion –

Unless you live on a street with professional editors or come from a family of experts in your genre, stop asking everyone for their opinion. Opinions come a dime a dozen and if you insist on sharing your work with every Tom, Dick and Eduardo along the way your book will never be finished. Seek out constructive opinions but only from those who understand the work….your mom, she doesn’t understand the work. (Unless she is Anne Rice, then ask away)

Mistake #4: You don’t research your publishing options –

Major New York publishing house or self-publishing service or POD solution, decisions, decisions….the publishing options these days come in many flavors and require research. There are costs involved in some, requirements that the large publishing house demand and even self-publishing has its quirks. Today more than ever a writer has to do the research on which option is best for them. Make an educated decision on where to send that book…trust me…it’s worth the time.

Mistake #5: No after-the-book-is-done plan-

Advertising, promotion, ads, actually selling the book….haven’t given any thought to any of this? Shame on you! There is really no point in writing a book, if you have no intention of helping it get its wings. Long gone are the days when the publishing house took care of all that book promotion. Now authors have to set up book signings, do the advertising, and beat the pavement for readers…it’s all on us. If you have no plan as to how you are going to promote your work there will be a lot of sad afternoons looking at the sell stats and then hitting the couch to watch Castle reruns while you cry into your afternoon smoothie. Have a plan on how to get that little guy into the hands of willing readers.

These are just a few mistakes that writers make on a regular basis and, trust me, there are many, many more. There has to be some common sense inserted into the process and you have to think both like a writer and a reader if you are to be successful at all.

© The Writer’s Advice, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

 

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What American Writers Can Learn from Writers Abroad


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I have been doing a lot of world exploring lately and I have been doing it from my desk. I ran across an app for the Samsung Galaxy called Flipbook and decided to give it a whirl. As it turns out, this is one of the best apps ever but not for what I originally downloaded it for. It was supposed to keep me informed but instead it’s allowed me to explore and that, my fellow writers, is wonderful.

Flipbook is a handy little app that pulls together resources from all over the planet for news, fashion and culture tidbits. The articles within each section aren’t huge but there is a bevy of them. As a news junkie I thought the app was cool because I could pull news from all over the world. But then I began to explore other sections and discovered that there are several writers’ sections as well. Because Flipbook is set up like a magazine rack you can download whatever content you’d like to the homepage thus allowing you to keep up on your favs. I was exploring this aspect when I tripped over the writer’s sections.

There are sections on blogs, books in every category and even personal sections from specific writers. But the one section that stood out for me was by a writer named Michael Haridy. Haridy pulls info for writers from all over the world and has an enormous number of submissions from overseas. It was here that I discovered that we writers in America have a whole lot to learn about being writers.

In England for instance their writers are respected more than their celebrities. The writer is a special member of their society but it isn’t just because the regular folk are in awe. It’s mostly because the writers themselves demand the respect. Writing takes center stage in England because people are still encouraged to read. (Imagine that) I think that in America we need to take a note from their book and live our lives as writers instead of hiding in the closet and pretending that what we do is embarrassing unless we are Stephen King famous.

In India the writers take chances. Chances…can you imagine? India seeks out writers who know that there really “is no box” and so they don’t try and write inside one. Sure a few of the writers from India have had their lives threatened for what they have written but at least they are following their passion. We are so worried about being politically correct in American society that we no longer take the chance to really break out and write the truth. In India writers are considered radical thinkers…how cool is that?

In the Middle East writers have a different side mission…they are the only ones telling the truth in times of strife. Our writers here in America for the most part sit behind our comfortable desks and see the world through the internet. In the Middle East (pick a country) the writers are out in the world writing about real life, experiencing their world along with the regular folks. Writers in Iraq for instance are telling the stories of the people who lived through invasion, death and rebirth but not in the way one might think. These folks have lived the truth and are now stepping forward to tell it. There are stories about how people looked for writers during the war in order to get the story out. Being a writer was important and useful.

These are just a few examples of how writers from around the world are taking charge of who they are and not making any excuses to what they do. Many of my writer friends here in the United States say that they are a writer in a voice that sounds apologetic. I know… I’ve done it too.

So take a page from the writers of the world and step up. I challenge you to not only write but to “be the writer”…live the life proudly and make no excuses for who you are and what you do. You are a writer and that is something pretty damn special.

© The Writer’s Advice, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2013 in Inspiration, Writing

 

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Writers and Self Abuse-Setting Healthy Boundaries


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We are going to tackle a serious subject for a second…self-abuse. This is one of those subjects that don’t get all that much attention because, well, frankly, first off, no one really wants to admit that it is a problem and second, many writers don’t know how to stop it.

What are we referring to when we say “self-abuse”? The answer is many fold…let’s take a look at some of the ways we hurt ourselves…

  • Self-talk – Some writers delve into negative self-talk. You know what I mean, telling yourself you are a hack, degrading your work and generally putting your writing, and yourself, down. I have had this problem myself. I tend to let other people get to me, convincing me that what I do is not worth the effort and then I start telling myself that. As a writer you have to stay positive when taking to yourself.
  • Allowing others to belittle what you do – When my writing is making money, I am the hero of the household….but have some down time when economics shoots one over the bow and suddenly I am “just a writer”. We have one of very few jobs where what we make ends up defining who we are at times. Don’t let people make you feel bad just because the money isn’t rolling in.
  • Running with Rejection – This is a biggie for me. I hate rejection in any form but I especially had it in the form of a written response. So many editors and publishers forget that they are speaking to human beings when they send those stupid form letters out. In my mind I took the time to send you my work, the least you could do is write me back a small encouraging note.
  • Allowing others to take up your writing time – Again, this is a big one for me. With four kids, three grand kids, a multitude of extras in the form of the kids’ ex’s and current partners, there always seems to be a crisis to deal with. A few weeks ago I sent out a blanket text to all of them that I was off limits between 9-4 every day and within minutes three of them called anyways. Set your boundaries…it’s important, and then, enforce them.

There are many, many ways to sabotage your own work and many of us do so every day. This self-abuse is not helpful in creating good work. You have to control your environment, all of the outside influences and, of course, yourself in order to accomplish anything at all. So set those boundaries people and then enforce them…trust me, your readers will thank you later.

© The Writer’s Advice, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

 
 

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Creating a Moment of Writing Peace


peaceful-writing

There are so many of us writers who would kill for a moment of writing peace. Around my house between the dogs, the kids, the spouse and the everyday workings of life, I often feel like I need a place to run and hide. And then there are the deadlines for my freelance clients…it’s enough to make me scream most days. Rare are the moments when I can just sit at my desk and let it flow…you know…like in the old days, before I was published and everyone wanted a piece of me.

You might be asking what is it that I do now in order to keep my sanity. The answer is many things depending on the day. There are some things however, that I do on a regular basis in order to set the tone for some of that peaceful writing we spoke of earlier. They are small things but over the years I have found that they help.

  • ·         A morning ritual – Rush, rush, rush, that is the name of the game for most folks these days. My spouse, who works outside the house rushes around like a crazy person and runs out the front door. I don’t think they breathe until they actually get to work. Me? I have discovered that a calming ritual helps me begin the day on the right foot. I’m up at 6 a.m., meditate for a bit, make coffee, and then get the youngest kid out the door for school. After the house has settled from everyone else’s chaos, I just sit. I don’t work, check e-mails, read, nothing…I just sit and let the sunrise sink in.
  • ·         Learn to control your responses to chaos – Reaction. Human beings seem to have a built in reaction button that gets pushed whenever even slightly stressed. Learn to control that. In the face of stress if we control our reaction to it we will not continue to have to control our reaction to our reaction and so on. If you want off the roller coaster, control how you react.
  • ·         Don’t take things personally-  So many of us react to everyone else as if what they have said or done is a personal affront….stop that. Believe it or not you are not the most important person in the world for everyone else. If someone comes at you all irritated and red faced and you know you haven’t done anything assume that they are having an issue that has nothing to do with you.
  • ·         Be grateful – I keep a gratitude journal. I do so because it is so easy to forget the good things life gives you. I believe that by starting my day off listing 5 things I am grateful for I start it on a good not….even if I am just grateful the kids haven’t eaten the last of the pop tarts.

There are many, many other things you can do to start your day off on the right foot. My mom reads, my dad walks; others enjoy a cup of tea,  exercise, yoga, meditation, drinking some water or even sitting with someone you care about and having a cup of coffee. (My grandparents used to do this every morning.) My point is that if you start your day off peacefully, it stands to reason that, mostly, peace will follow. I truly believe that you set the tone every day. Now set the tone for yours so that you too may enjoy a moment of writing peace.

© The Writer’s Advice, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2013 in Healthy Writers, Writing, Writing Tools

 

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The Stressed Out Writer – Take it One Thing at a Time


one-thing-at-a-time

Are you stressed out? Does the very thought of writing make you break out in a sweat and feel like you are so overwhelmed that you should go back to school and learn to be one of those guys who is responsible for making sure that the Charmin is squeezable? I’ve been there…lots of times. It is very easy as a writer who has so many people living inside them to become overwhelmed and want to scream…”the Charmin is good, the Charmin is good!”

There are many things a writer can do to help combat stress but perhaps the most important one is such an easy fix that many of us run right by it when looking for answers. The answer….taking it one single task at a time. I know, I know, we talk all the time about multitasking and how we can all be sooooo much more productive if we can just multitask but that isn’t necessarily true.  Sometimes multitasking can get downright dangerous, case in point? Some women I know text, have coffee and put makeup on while driving. (You all know who you are…stop that) This is just one example; to be honest, often times the art of multitasking ends up stressing us out so much that it is anti-productive, like when it stops us from doing anything at all.

So what does it mean to do one thing at a time? I like to subscribe to the Zen wisdom of “Where ever you are, be there”. In other words, if you are writing…write, if you are editing…edit, do the thing you are doing and don’t bounce all over the place. AND don’t get distracted into doing too many things. My spouse will say to me, “I’m going to clean the kitchen”, while cleaning I’m told that there is something in the bedroom they need so they go to get it, while in the bedroom they realize that the bed hasn’t been made so they start cleaning the bedroom, half way through the bedroom there is something they need in the bathroom so they walk in there and suddenly they are cleaning the bathroom….by the end of the day we have a half cleaned house! If instead, they stuck to one thing at a time….at least something would get done, right?

So don’t get distracted and where ever you are, be there! You owe it to your writing to take it one thing at a time. If you don’t, you might find yourself like me with a drawer full of half written and edited novels.

© The Writer’s Advice, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

 
 

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