Saturday, July 16, 2016

Books That Helped Me Start Writing Again #amwriting

I'm finally writing again after a long hiatus, thanks to the wonderful Speed Writing class I took this year, taught by M.M. Pollard. Here are three of the books that helped me to get back on track.

The 8-Minute Writing Habit: Create a Consistent Writing Habit That Works With Your Busy Lifestyle
(Growth Hacking For Storytellers)
by Monica Leonelle
Spaulding House, 2015

This book was recommended in the fabulous online Speed Writing class taught by M. M. Pollard for OCCRWA, and it's the method that helped me break a long-standing writers block. I tried the 8 by 8 Challenge, which required me to write at least 8 minutes every day for 8 days. After the first couple of days, I was writing for more than 8 minutes. And now I have a first draft of my novel. Color me happy.

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind
(The 99U Book Series)
by Jocelyn K. Glei
Amazon Publishing 2013
I've been listening to the audiobook in the car, and I am really loving this book/ I expect I will read/listen to it more than once. Glei includes lots of ideas from other people, to wit:

Featuring contributions from: Dan Ariely, Leo Babauta, Scott Belsky, Lori Deschene, Aaron Dignan, Erin Rooney Doland, Seth Godin,Todd Henry, Christian Jarrett, Scott McDowell, Mark McGuinness, Cal Newport, Steven Pressfield, Gretchen Rubin, Stefan Sagmeister, Elizabeth G. Saunders, Tony Schwartz, Tiffany Shlain, Linda Stone, and James Victore. Plus, a foreword from Behance founder & CEO Scott Belsky.

I'm not familiar with most of these people, but their ideas are thought-provoking and useful. For instance, setting time aside in your weekly schedule for those big projects, and if someone wants to do something else at that time, just tell them, "Sorry, I have an appointment." It's okay to make an appointment with yourself. Another compared time to a jar of rocks. If you put the big rocks in first, the little ones will squeeze in around them. If you fill the jar with little rocks, sand and water, there may not be any room for the big rocks.

A similar idea to that last one is...

Eat that Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time
by Brian Tracy
Berrett-Koehler Publishers 2007

I've only read about 20% of the book, but am finding it quite interesting. The frog quote comes from Mark Twain, who said that if you have to eat a frog, do it first. If you have to eat two frogs, eat the ugliest one first. In other words, tackle the big, important tasks first while you have the energy to deal with them. Good advice. Too bad I don't take it more often. Guess I better finish reading the book!

But first it's time to tackle those revisions!

I'm re-working a sensual Western historical romance called Lily and the Gambler. An abbreviated version of the story was published by Amber Quill Press as a mildly erotic romance. I've lengthened the book considerably, revised the plot, and plan to self-publish it some time this year. It really does feel good to be writing again.

Linda McLaughlin
aka Lyndi Lamont
website: http://lindalyndi.com


 


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

You Can Edit Your Own Work by Connie Vines

‘Do I really need to hire a professional editor?’


When you are busy writing your first draft, you can definitely edit your own work.  An editor is usually brought in only when you have a complete manuscript. Whether you’re at an early stage of writing your novel or you can’t afford to hire an editor at present, you can learn to edit your own work. Begin these 6 easy steps:

1. Take a break
This break in between the time that you finish your novel and the time that you return to it for editing is essential for several reasons.
During the time that you are apart from your novel, your subconscious will still be working on it. You will be surprised at the types of connections that you’ll make on returning to the work. If you are a writer who edits as you go, taking small breaks between finishing sections like this can also help. Thus resulting in the growth of fresh story ideas.
Distance from the work allows you re-read with a fresh perspective. On returning to your novel, you will be surprised to find passages that you don’t remember writing; passages that affect you emotionally as though someone else were the author. I call this the ‘goosebumps’ factor (remember the scene in Romancing the Stone?  If not, rent the movie).
With this re-read you will find weaknesses, plot holes, sentence structure that simply doesn’t flow, etc.   Assessing your book realistically is easier after a break as well. While in the process of writing it, you probably experienced times when you thought you were writing an extraordinary novel as well as times of great self-doubt. Now your judgement will not be clouded.
Try not to think about your novel very much during your break (work on one of my other WsIP). If something does occur to you, make a note to come back to when you start your revision. Do not dwell on your new ideas. Calendar your re-read a week or two after completion of your novel. 
2.    Get organized
  • When you sit down to do your revision, you must first get organized both physically and mentally.

Prepare your work-space. Have your writing reference resources within reach.    
Make a schedule for your revision just as you did for writing your novel. Set a goal and stick to it. Do you need a tracking system? Sticky notes? Spreadsheets, a notebook with sections and multicolored pens/highlighters, or a filing drawer?

Whatever planning you did prior to writing your novel, when you revise you will need to track things such as structure, characters, scenes and plot points to ensure that they all fit together. During your revision, you’ll need to do things like examine each scene to ensure that it moves your novel forward and does what it sets out to do. Your system can be as formal or informal as you like. The most important thing is that any editing system you use is intuitive for you and helps rather than hinders you.
3.    Develop a plan
You should make yourself a checklist for dealing with all the large and small issues you want to examine over the course of your novel. A romance novel, will have one thread showing the progression of the love story.  A crime novel, will require clues are appropriately placed and reveal just enough to the reader. While science fiction or fantasy, will require world-building that is very solid.
4.    Questions to ask yourself
·         Does the book work structurally? If you followed some version of the three-act structure, did you maintain that structure and does it create a satisfying form?
·         Does your plot make sense? What about the subplots? Are there any logical errors? Do the subplots work with the plot, or do they distract from it or make the book seem like too much is happening?

·         Are your characters well-developed? Do they seem like they could exist as flesh and blood? Do they behave in ways that are plausible for them?
·         How is your setting? Is it fully realized? Does it need more or less detail? Is it integral to the story?

·         Are there places in the book where the narrative seems to drag?
·         Do you deliver information to your readers in a way that is engaging?
·         How is your prose? Are your sentences grammatically correct?

This is just a start; you will have your own questions you’ll want to consider. Once you’ve made your plan, it’s time to start the actual revision:

5.    Make multiple passes

Editing is seldom a one-step process. First do a read through. Make notes, about problems, new ideas, structure, language problems. Don’t stop reading and begin revising.  Just make notes.
Next, go through the book more carefully and address the major elements. (# 3) Use your checklists to look at plot, structure, character, setting and the other major parts of your novel. If you find that you are going to be doing major rewrites, you should work on those rewrites before you do any line editing.
After addressing any major issues and completed your line editing, take a look at your prose. It’s now time to read your book out loud. This may seem time-consuming, but nothing compares to reading a piece of fiction out loud for finding clunky phrasings, repetitions and other things that just don’t work (if I’m not careful, my characters spend too much time drinking coffee).
6.     Get feedback

The final step in your revision is having others read your work. You may already have writing friends or belong to a writing group. Some writers(I) find it useful to ask my reader(s) to focus on certain aspects of the book. Remember readers who are not writers notice things, both views are valuable.  

The value of having others look over your work is that they will spot mistakes or inconsistencies you might miss because you are so immersed in the craft of writing.
Editing and revising are not separate from the process of writing. They are just as important as writing drafts. Editing and revising will sharpen and strengthen your novel.  After all, we want our novel to be ‘exactly’ a publisher has been waiting to acquire.
Happy Writing,
Connie Vines




Monday, July 11, 2016

Royal Magic and The Road to Monterra: Part 2 by Jina Bacarr

Is magic what we see or what we think we see?

Find out in ROYAL MAGIC, my next The Royals of Monterra Kindle Worlds story.

I had a time of it getting all the magic tricks down, making sure I walked the characters through the steps without giving it away to the reader. The real magic was creating a girl from South Philly with an ache in her heart to make something right in her family that caused so much pain years ago...and not give the surprise away! 

I loved creating this world within Sariah Wilson's world -- I was inspired by what was magic to me when I attended La Biennale...here's what happened:


I love it when art imitates life. When something so unexpected happens to you that you know someday it will become a story. The inspiration for Royal Magic, showed up in an email from the cultural arts committee in Venice, Italy.

Italy! Carnevale, gondolas, and pizza. 

And to think I almost deleted it. What fools we authors be. They were asking me to speak and then perform at La Biennale, a celebration of art, music, dance, film, and architecture begun in 1895.  

I had written a nonfiction book and a novel about Japanese culture and they wanted me to be on the panel with a performance artist and dancers from Japan.

Before I could say, Mama mia, I was on my way to Venice. The festival committee treated me like a princess, arranging my airfare on Air France and setting up my accommodations in a century-old hotel near Piazza San Marco with all the trappings of a grand palazzo. They even assigned me a bodyguard to make sure I got to my hotel okay. 

I’ll never forget wandering the cobblestone streets of Venice, checking out the gondolas, the exquisite shops, and so many bookstores I lost count! It soothed my romantic soul, while the people of Venice warmed my heart.

And I had the best pizza ever.

My trip to La Biennale inspired me to create my own festival in Monterra. Magic, music, and Monterran cuisine seemed a natural fit for a kingdom located so close to Italy. And so my series within The Royals of Monterra Kindle Worlds, “Fairy Tales & Magic,” was born.

In the first book, Royal Magic, you’ll meet Afton, who performs on the aerial silks, and her sister Emma. Sparks fly when Afton meets a handsome magician who isn’t what he seems. We also meet four other American girls who come to Monterra to perform at the festival . . . each hoping to find her prince and live her own fairy tale!

I hope you enjoy Royal Magic. Ciao!


PS -- here's a video I made about my trip to La Biennale in Venice, Italy!


Royal Magic inspired by La Biennale, Venice, Italy from Jina Bacarr on Vimeo.


Website: www.jinabacarr.com
Blog: www.jinabacarr.wordpress.com
  ================
 

Love_Me_Forever_500x798
LOVE ME FOREVER

She wore gray.
He wore blue.
But their love defied the boundaries of war.
And time.
 
I'd love to hear from you. You can find me on social media:

www.facebook.com/JinaBacarr.author
https://twitter.com/JinaBacarr
www.pinterest.com/jbacarr
https://instagram.com/jinabacarr/ 
https://vimeo.com/user216350

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Cool Apps For Writers by Kitty Bucholtz

Some of my favorite apps and SaaS (software as a service) software for writers are well-known to many, but just in case you haven't heard of some of them, I thought I'd share.

Evernote - great for organizing and storing information. I have separate "notebooks" for self-publishing, teaching, business, and more. Within each notebook, I also have dozens of tags that I can use in lieu of filing information in multiple locations. You can use it on your computer as well as your smart phone. Add "Evernote Clipper" to your browser and you can save anything on the Internet with a single click (websites, PDFs, whatever).

BookFunnel - great for giving away your ebook(s) to beta readers, reviewers, giveaway winners, and more. What I love most about this service is that the user answers a couple of short questions about how they want to get their free ebook, and then they get a short video explaining how to get the book onto the appropriate device. No more emails from readers asking how to put the file I emailed them onto their Kindle or Nook.

BookPlanner - great for giving you a step-by-step timeline of all the steps to bring your book to publication. There are several timelines to choose from depending on your needs.

Vellum - amazing for quickly and easily creating all ebook formats. It automatically creates Nook links in the back of the Nook file for all your other books on B&N, Amazon links for all the books you have on Amazon in your Amazon file, etc. Several choices for fonts, flourishes to separate scenes, and much more. Only downside - Mac only.

MyFitnessPal - strange addition to the list? This app is directly responsible for helping me lose 24 pounds in 24 weeks. It will tell you what your daily calorie limit should be based on your age, height, and weight, and the amount of weight you want to lose per week. Hundreds of thousands of foods are in the database so you know not only how many calories you're ingesting, but fat, protein, carbohydrates, sodium, and sugar as well. Even if you don't need to lose weight, it's good to know what you're really eating. Want to track your exercise as well? Use MapMyRun for your walks, runs, bike rides, and more. Both are available for smart phones and computers, and free to use at the standard level.

Kitty Bucholtz decided to combine her undergraduate degree in business, her years of experience in accounting and finance, and her graduate degree in creative writing to become a writer-turned-independent-publisher. Her novels, Little Miss LovesickA Very Merry Superhero Wedding, and Unexpected Superhero are currently available on Amazon. The free short story "Superhero in Disguise" is available wherever ebooks are sold. You can find out about her courses on self-publishing, marketing, and time management for writers at her website Writer Entrepreneur Guides.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Building A Mailing List

Happy Summer to everyone. I hope you had an amazing Fourth of July.

Before I get into my post, I want to give a brief update on my 12 TITLE IN 12 MONTHS Project. Last week I soft launched my June title, THE FLING.
Here's the summary:
Selena Crawford and Reuben Porche [por-shay] are lonely work-a-holics in need of a vacation. When both are forced into taking a vacation, they get a little more than the luxury Anguilla resort offered on the website.

This is a story that came about while I was trying to figure out what to write. When I started my project, I had a few of the titles written…the two Alex books, Love Notes, and The Good Girl Part Deux. There are two books I am probably going to use for the fourth quarter that were previously written. Otherwise, the rest of the titles are new. I’m excited. Praise God, because I am on track to completing my project. Once the project is complete, I’ll do a project summary post

Onto my post. There’s another project I've been working on this year...increasing my mailing list.

Like quite a few new authors, I didn't have a mailing list when I started. Let me backtrack. I have another business with a mailing list. However, I didn’t want to use that for my writing career. It was important to me to keep both entities separate. That decision meant I had to build my mailing list from scratch.

When it comes to building a mailing list, I'm sure I'm not alone in how I got my first subscribers…my family and friends. I'm very grateful for those early subscribers, however, I needed and wanted more subscribers. I set a goal of getting my list to 1000 subscribers by the end of this year. [As of this post, I’m at 780…YAY!]

One very important fact I keep in mind is that I have only been writing a few years and only published 18 months. It’s very easy to get caught up in the numbers. I’ve heard writers spouting out the size of their mailing lists and finding myself a little embarrassed at my small list. But I can’t let those numbers intimidate me because I’m still growing my base. Another reason for my 12 Titles project.

I came up with that project because I wanted to add to my inventory. I also thought the additional inventory would insight people to subscribe to my mailing list. If I had known earlier that I wanted to self-publish and how important a mailing list is, I would have concentrated on building my mailing list in conjunction with writing my first book. No use in crying over non-subscribers.

Now that I realize I need subscribers, I'm on a mission to hit my goal by the end of the year, if not sooner. So what's my plan? Or what have I done so far to get subscribers?

FREE BOOKS. That’s not a typo. We’ve all heard this before. You need to give something away to lure readers in and turn them into subscribers. I have to admit; I didn’t think this would work until I tried it. I’ve heard several writers say they have a title that's Perma Free. The thought of giving away something I worked hard to create, didn't appeal to me. Especially when I only had one published book. I looked at it as cutting off a possible revenue stream. But that couldn’t have been farther from the truth.

I may have mentioned this before. When I began editing THE ALEX CHRONICLES: WHAT MY FRIENDS DON’T KNOW, I deleted the first six chapters. I felt it was too much tell, not enough show. However, I thought there was some good stuff there. I was talking to Kitty Bucholtz about wanting to get something else out there before my next book, and she asked me if I had any discarded chapters I could turn into a novella. I instantly remembered those deleted chapters.

I tweaked them, got a cover and voila! I had a Perma-free book. I was ready to try this Freebie thing. I fondly refer to my freebie as "The Prequel". I have to be honest, I wasn’t too sure how this was going to work, but I was willing to give it a shot. I sent the freebie to my mailing list as well as posted it on my blog, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Twitter. I also made it available wide…on Amazon, B&N, iBooks, and Draft2Digital.

As of writing this post, I have given away over 5000 copies of my prequel since it came out in October 2015. When I made peace with the idea of giving this title away, I never thought I’d give that many copies away. To be honest, I really haven’t given the book much thought. The reason for the laissez-faire attitude is because it’s a loss leader so to speak. I did discover that in some countries, it’s not possible to get the book for free on Amazon, so I’ve had a couple of paid downloads.

I’d like to say that all five thousand downloads became subscribers, but that’s not so.

SUBSCRIBER CAMPAIGNS. Since I put the Prequel out in October 2015, I’ve added 739 subscribers. Of course, you have to take the good with the bad. Since I began cultivating this list, I’ve had 52 unsubscribe. I tell myself not to freak out when someone unsubscribes, and then I ask God to replace those with people who really want to read my stories.

So far this year, I’ve participated in a few Subscriber Campaigns that have paid off very well. The Romance Readers Spring Fling and a couple of Instafreebie giveaways. These events are responsible for almost 700 subscribers. Again, I wasn’t a huge fan of the freebie, but it’s paid off. I should have kept better records as to how these free downloads affected my other books, but I didn’t. I do know there was sales activity around the same time as the free downloads. I recommend the freebie as a great way to add subscribers. So much so, that I am working on another freebie for later in the year. I have to admit; I got the idea from Beth Yarnell. It’s a sampler. I’m excited to see how this will affect my subscriber list.

FACEBOOK ADS. This is an area I am really excited about. Kitty told me about Mark Dawson’s Facebook Ads course. If you haven’t downloaded his free videos, do so immediately. And if you can take his course, jump on it. I used the three videos to set up my first Facebook Ad. I’ll preface this by saying, it ran it the same time I participated in an Instafreebie campaign.

I ran the ad for five days, at $5.00 per day. It was clicked on by 709 people and 46 subscribed to my mailing list. YAY! Not bad for a first timer. This got me to thinking. I’ve done blog tours in the past, and I have nothing but love for the blog tour companies. However, I never got any subscribers and saw very little sales action. I resolved myself that the blog tour was just to get my name out there. But after I watched Mark Dawson’s videos and did a five-day test run, I think I’ll channel the blog tour money into Facebook ads.

I spent approximately $150 on each blog tour, and that included two raffle gifts. One to a blogger host and the other to a reader following the tour. The tours lasted about four weeks each, not including weekends, and it doesn’t reach nearly as many people as the Facebook ad. When I set up my Facebook ad, it had a pool of over 300,000. I hope I read the report correctly. Either way, that’s a better response than I got from the blog tour. And that was just over a five day period. Imagine what it would have been had I did it for a month. [I’ve only done blog tours with my full-size novels.]

This month I’ll be trying the Facebook Ad again, but a little differently. I’ll let you know what I did and what the results are.

So what have I learned about building a mailing list? It’s not as difficult as I thought. I’m so excited about the things I’ve learned and the results so far in building my writer mailing list, that I’m going to try it with my lingerie business. I’ve created a little how-to guide as a freebie. I hear you now saying, “What do I need to know about lingerie that would fill a book?” You’d be surprised at what you don’t know. I know I was. Anyway, I’m very curious to see the results of my experiment.

Have a great Summer.



Tracy
Tracy Reed
www.readtracyreed.com

Fiction for Women Who Love God, Couture and Cute Guys

Friday, July 01, 2016

President's Message

Hello Fabulous OCC Writers,

I hope everyone is having a fabulous start to their summer. It’s July and we will not be having a meeting as most of us will be down in San Diego at Nationals.

Last month we had Christine Ashworth in the morning session speaking on “Your Story Begins at Home” and the afternoon sessions was filled with various tables to prep for the RWA National preparation. I hope you all are as excited as I am for this meeting as well as for the conference in July. It is close to home and will be July 13-16, 2016. I hope to see you all there, representing Orange County Chapter of Romance Writers of America.

I would encourage you all to take advantage of the many opportunities for taking classes with OCC and other venues. OCC strives to have classes that are informative, educational and beneficial to our membership. We will not be having a class in the month of July. But in August we will have 7 Ways to Market and Promote Your Books without Breaking the Bank with Kitty Bucholtz from August 15-September 11, 2016. The cost for classes are reasonable at $20 for OCC members and $30 for non-members. For more information please go to http://occrwa.org/classes/.

I’d also like to ask that if you have knowledge in a field that will help your fellow OCC members please share your knowledge. With that in mind I’d encourage you, if you have knowledge in an area that would benefit OCCRWA please think about teaching an online course through OCCRWA or speaking at an OCCRWA meeting. To teach an online class please send the proposal: http://occrwa.org/wpcontent/uploads/2015/08/OnlineClassProposalForm.pdf to the online class coordinator at: onlineclass@occrwa.org. If you wish to be a speaker at a meeting please send an email to Liz Scott at: Programs@occrwa.org.

As always fellow authors, thank you for all that you have done and continue to do. Your commitment to excellence is what keeps OCCRWA one of the best chapters in the nation. Our sincerest thanks for being a part of this great chapter where our motto is: “One hand reaching forward, one hand reaching back, in a continuing chain.”

Best,

Nichelle Scott-Williams aka Nikki Prince



Friday, June 24, 2016

Self-brainwashing...

from my favorite paper: Funny Times
I know, most of America drives around in their own cars, but those city dwellers who find themselves in the back seat of a taxi or other hired conveyance may sympathize with the situation. 

Many people that drive for a living have the radio on: talk radio, music, endless news, NPR.  

I have to confess, I am a big advocate for silence, and feel there should be a bi-partisan movement for the right to not have to listen to stuff (on airplanes, in elevators, in malls, etc.).  

Sure, I could get (and indeed have) earphones.  But I don't want to block out the world, I want to hear itjust not endless marketing jabber or musak or whatever.

But I am particularly unhappy with having to listen to endless news or much of talk radio.  

There are a few talk radio stations whose goal is to be entertaining or informative.  But most lure their listeners in with conflict, outrage, fear, danger, scary information, etc. like a fish with a dangler lure....



These kinds of shows—TV, radio, whatever—wind listener's clocks, pull their chain, and give them some frisson of energy—hate, fear, anger—which seems to be far more addictive and universal (clearly part of one's "lizard brain") than a feeling of peace, happiness, learning or engagement.

It exhausts me to listen to the streams of exhaust!  And I don't have adequate shields to effectively block out noise.  Yes, I freely confess, I can't pack with the TV on.  It's just too distracting.

Propaganda works—if you hear information over and over again, it wears away at your critical faculty (if you have one).  It's convincing, even it it's patently untrue and utterly ridiculous.  If you see it, hear it, read it, talk about it it gets truthified through endless repetition.  So I now not only ask the drivers to turn off the radio, but tell them to stop listening to this endless, depressing stream of fairly useless information. It isn't good for their outlook on life.

It's all a creepy, voluntary self-brainwashing.  

I now feel much more charitable towards endless sports!  But really, they should be reading romances....

Isabel Swift