My One Takeaway From NaNoWriMo #MondayBlog


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Another NaNoWriMo is behind me.

Did I learn anything? Were there any takeaways?

Oh, sure. Planning is good. Plotting can be a friend… even to a pantser like me.

Maybe only character-driven writers will understand this, but all the planning and prepping in the world still guarantees you nothing.

I was plodding right along, words flowing like a cool stream, when all of a sudden, my beloved protagonist looks around with the malevolent grin of a serial killer and dumps a plot twist in my lap. (We’re still not speaking.)

Okaaaay. Now what?

I went with it.

The scene I was writing looked nothing like the one I sketched out six weeks ago. But, hey. Words were flowing… from somewhere, so I kept writing—and making notes.

I gave a cursory glance to my journal every morning, wondering if the completed scene would resemble what I’d planned in any way.

It didn’t.

But, I stayed with it, because that is the point of NaNoWriMo. Get the words out of your head and on paper…fifty-thousand of them at least.

I reached the halfway mark and wondered if Hemingway ever struggled like this. Then I realized he drank… and a glass of wine doesn’t sound bad. But should I drink it or give it to my protagonist?

Nah. I’m still not happy with her… the wine is mine.

After one glass of Sweet Red, I understand why Hemingway drank!

It gets you out of your own way. The wall of doubt and fountain of inhibitions fall and you write like you’re on fire.

Or maybe that was just me.

No, I’m not advocating drinking while writing. Our liver is our friend and unlike plots, we can’t get a new one with every manuscript.

But, a writer writes because they have to. It is a deep-seeded need that can only be fulfilled by putting words on paper. Anything else is unacceptable.

If you get hit with a dose of writer’s block, get out of your way. The characters didn’t change and the words remain the same. The problem is you.

Remember why you write.

Remember the freedom you feel.

Remember the sense of accomplishment you feel regardless of if it’s five, five hundred, or five-thousand words you leave on the paper.

It took me a couple of years to “get it” but the NaNoWriMo rule of no editing makes perfect sense. It makes me get out of my own way to just write. Of course, by doing so, I’m also giving my characters free reign, but that’s a completely different blog post.

I’ve spent the first three days of December making notes and moving things around in my MS, however, I’m putting it away until after the holidays. But sometime in January, I’ll have to decipher all those red squiggly lines and double blue lines, and wonder if I was typing in alien code.

And there may or may not be wine involved, because… Hemingway.

 

What is Successful Blogging? #MondayBlog


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Blogging.

We live it.

We breathe it.

We write blogs about blogging.  Ahem!

We write blogs about not blogging.

We blog the how-to and the why.

We blog the if and the then.

We blog the funny, the ironic and the sarcastic.

We blog the sad, the tragic, and the devastating.

We blog the journeys, the pathways, and the epiphanies.

We blog for money, attention, and fame.

We blog to connect and know we’re not alone.

We rant, vent, posit, and postulate.

We ponder, wonder, and extoll.

We link, sync, and hotspot … so we’re always able to blog.

We announce when we’re unplugging and going off-the-grid

Because we want it known we’ll be back … to blog.

We have blog parties, blog hops, and blog meet-n-greets

So, we can meet more people to blog to.

On those rare occasions when we have conversations with real people not behind a blog we ask, “Do you blog?” and offer up our blog address.

Experts/consultants are adamant that you’re not a serious *Insert your profession of choice here* if you don’t have a blog.

We put hours into planning ‘the right’ blog posts with attention-getting headlines and appealing graphics … because we take blogging seriously.

And after we blog …

We become the man behind-the-curtain checking Likes, views, and comments.

Search engine referrals are up and links are being clicked.

Blogging is a success!

But… is blogging its own reward?

What is the payoff?

Product moved?

New subscribers to the mailing list?

Increase in page views/daily blog visitors?

New friendships and collaborations?

More Likes?

More Follows?

 

What is blogging to you and how do you know if/when you’re successful at it?

 

 

5 Things Bloggers Should Remember When Hosting Book Tours #MondayBlog


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In my last two #MondayBlog posts, I posted five things book promotion services and authors should remember when planning/running book tours. The week – it’s bloggers’ turn.

Regardless of where you post—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or an Internet blog—you’re a blogger. When you join book tours… you’re a tour host. Authors can write books and services can plan tours, but without motivated tour hosts to help get the word out… nothing happens… it doesn’t work!

Bloggers host tour events for a variety of reasons, including the love of books and reading, supporting authors, and blog content.

Five things bloggers should remember are:

  1. Know what you’re signing up for. What type of tour is it? Is it DIY or will HTML be provided? Is it just a promo post? Is reviewing an option or mandatory? Is sharing the post expected?  If you are not sure- ASK QUESTIONS before signing up.
  2. If you sign up – be proactive! Add the event to your calendar. Set a reminder alert. Start a draft copy with the date of the tour. Do not just sign up and forget about the event. Problems arise with authors and services… and the blogger is the last to know. Be prepared.
  3. Publicize! Authors and services blog about upcoming tours and include the info in newsletters – bloggers should too! Promotional posts only work when they are seen. Some bloggers do post calendars, but publicizing could be as simple as a post at the beginning of the week on upcoming events for that week. You’re not just promoting the tour, author, or service, you’re promoting YOU!
  4. If reviewing, only review books you are interested in! Reviews are only beneficial when reviews are posted, but some of the worst reviews have been written by tour hosts who had no interest in the promoted book… and said so in their review! Reading diverse books and/or stepping outside of one’s comfort zone are two things everyone should try, but a review tour is not the time to start. Do not be badgered by services or lured by contests, giveaways, or simply a free book.
  5. Tag your posts and Moderate your comments. When hosting a tour, bloggers should strongly consider tagging the author or the service… or both! It’s the quickest, easiest way to guide them to your post, and hopefully, they will leave comments. Acknowledge commenters on your blog post! Even when they leave questions for the author, like their comment and thank them for stopping by. You are a tour host… so be open, amiable, and approachable. This will encourage visitors to return and enjoy your site content even when you’re not hosting a tour.

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to book tours. There is experience… and some have more than others, but no two tours are the same—even if they’re for the same author.

However, even experience is worthless if there isn’t real communication among all team members, and yes, it is a team. All team members are equally important and should be treated as such. Forget the ‘form letter’ emails and plastic posts in Facebook groups.

Authors + promotion services + bloggers collaborating and working together will always lead to a successful book promotion. If communication fails… so will the event.

 

 

 

5 Things Authors Should Remember When Planning a Book Tour #MondayBlog


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Book promotion services provide a wide range of services to authors including promotional tours for cover reveals, new releases, and blog tours. Many also offer publishing support features for indie authors like manuscript editing, book formatting, cover design, and book reviews. These are invaluable services to any author which may not necessarily sell books, but go a long way in garnering name recognition for an author and help build the author platform.

When it works.

Recently, a group of authors shared their most recent experiences with promotion services. The emails went from humorous to frustrated to angry quick, fast, and in a hurry.

Not all their complaints were the fault of promotions services. Authors have to be held accountable also.

I’ve been on all sides of promotions—as a blogger, a service provider, and an author and last week, I posted five things for promotion services to remember—this week, it’s the author’s turn.

Authors, when planning a book tour of any type;

Do your homework! Most services have FAQs—read them! Granted, some are more detailed than others, but this simply means you need to ask questions.

Does the service have a wide reach? Many services boast blogger listings of 200, 400, even 800 or more. This is usually followed by a disclaimer stating there is no guarantee on how many bloggers will sign up for the tour. Pay attention.

Where are these bloggers? Facebook? Blogspot? Tumblr? WordPress? Will HTML be provided to tour hosts? Is everything DIY? Does the author receive the tour post too? Does the author receive a copy of all participating blogs?

Are Rafflecopters/giveaways included? Can the author create and include a giveaway?

Make no assumptions and have no expectations of items not discussed. This means you need to…

Get a clear understanding! What exactly are you getting? Most services include tour banners, but do they also have original icons, buttons and/or section dividers? Can you include your logo? Does your tour allow for a synopsis/blurb AND an excerpt? A playlist? Are URLs simply typed out or linked to object or titles?

These things may seem minor weeks before a tour begins, but getting the details agreed upon and confirmed will strengthen business relationships and lead to successful promotions.

Be prepared! Ideally, you have a media kit complete with book covers, buy links, blurbs, excerpts, author bio/photo, and social media links, right?

If only.

With the time involved for services to build tours, you may have to book a date even before you’ve finished the book.

But this thing begins and ends with you… and now the clock is ticking. Promo services need as much info as possible from authors to build an event which is appealing to bloggers/readers, so before you book a tour date, make sure you have a timeline for items not yet completed and share it with the service in advance so all parties know what to expect.

Regardless of the items still waiting to be received from editors, cover designers, etc., send the promo service everything you already have.

Follow up! The most repeated comment I’ve heard from authors regarding their upcoming tours was “I haven’t heard from them” when speaking about the service. What are you waiting for – contact them!

Best practices! Whether you’re elated or less than thrilled after a tour, document it and share it with the service.

Was the excerpt too long? Blurb not detailed enough? Did the tour run over a weekend? Should it have? Were you tagged in blogger posts? Did you confirm you would be? Were links broken and never fixed? Were reviews posted in a timely manner? Did YOU stop by blogs and comment? Respond to comments?

Promo tours may not always sell books, but they’re great for getting an author and their work in front of new readers. Authors should remember regardless of whom they hire, it’s the author who’s ultimately responsible for how they’re promoted to the public.

 

Next week: 5 Things Bloggers Should Do When Hosting Book Tours

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The First Writing App? #MondayBlog

Writing Helmet

 

The Isolator is a bizarre helmet invented in 1925 which was used to help increase focus and concentration by rendering the wearer deaf, piping them full of oxygen, and limiting their vision to a tiny horizontal slit. The Isolator was invented by Hugo Gernsback, editor of Science and Invention magazine, member of “The American Physical Society,” and one of the pioneers of science fiction

The Isolator

Science and Invention Mag

 

So! Who wants one?

 

Images from Pinterest.

Lost in Translation! #MondayBlog

Diversity

Image from Penn State.

One of the best things about the blogosphere is its ability to shrink the planet.

With a simple click, you can discuss writing with someone in London, exchange recipes with someone in India, or brainstorm with someone in Denmark.

The world which used to be of unfathomable size…now fits in your pocket.

One obstacle yet to be overcome, however, is language.

Blog hosts like Blogspot, Tumblr, and our own WordPress, have made it simple for users to create blogs in their native language.

Reading it… not so much.

I have a few bloggers who follow me here on my author blog and several who follow Nesie’s Place, whose blogs I am unable to read. I can stumble through Spanish and French, after that…I’m a deer caught in the headlights!

On a good day…if I’m on my cell, ye olde translator kicks in and automatically translates the page. Unfortunately, that does not always happen. I used my cell earlier today to visit a blog I think was Lithuanian. The translator kicks in, and I’m waiting…and waiting, when suddenly the translator posts the error message, “Unable to translate; no translation found.” It then not only closes itself – something it’s never done before – it also closes the browser!

 

Attempting to translate another blog from Urdu to English, I cut and pasted a paragraph into a window on freetranslation.com and was given a translation of the “blogger had taken his foot for a walk in the park and thrown his dog around.”

Can’t be sure…but I don’t think that’s correct.

It would be nice to be able to do more than visit these blogs and simply leave a like. That’s the lazy way. Better to be able to translate the page and comment accordingly. What if the blogger is advocating for the burning of all coffee plantations or the banning of books, and I casually pop in and leave a like?

That would not be good.

It would be great if blogs could auto-translate…and maybe they can. I’m just not aware of how to access the feature.

If you know of a one-size-fits-most app or add-in that will allow successful language translation, please share it in the comments below. I’m sure I’m not the only one with this issue.

Not this time anyway.

Breathe – and Write Your Book #MondayBlog

Writing Paper

All you wanted to do was write a book.

You had a great start–six-thousand five hundred and seventeen words. But now you’re stuck. You haven’t written a word… in three years.

You venture online for a bit of help and inspiration and in no time at all you’re sorry you ever heard of the Internet.

Sifting through a thin layer of the gazillion returns on ‘how to write a book’, you become confused.

Tropes? Outlines? MS? Taglines?

What?

All you want to do is write a book. That story has been stuck in your head since the week before high school graduation decades ago, and it won’t go away.

You just want to get it down on paper.

But all the search returns–where do you start?

You find THE link that says, “Join a group” and things are starting to make sense. You can join a group. You’re a born joiner!

Discouragement sets in a few days later when you still haven’t found a group to join, and it’s not that you didn’t look.

The first group was for published authors only. LA-DE-DA!

The second group didn’t require members to be published, but a completed manuscript WAS required.

How are these groups even in the “how to write a book” search returns if you must already have written something to join???

The next group wasn’t so bad… they were just weird.

They kept calling themselves plotters and pantsers, and talking about conflict resolution, and a satisfactory HEA to satisfy Betas.

What’s a beta?

The last group… wow. That was some next-level-new-age-bullshit!

Moments after joining the group chat, introducing yourself, and sharing your dream of writing a book the interrogation begins.

How big is your mailing list? What’s the link to your author website? Have you installed Google Analytics? How often do you blog? What’s your target audience? Do you have a professional editor lined up? What program are you typing your book in? What’s your plan for marketing and promotion? Have you written proposal letters for publishers and agents? How do you expect to get noticed and sell books?

You break out in a cold sweat! What the hell is SEO and ROI??? And there’s that ‘Beta’ word again!

How are you supposed to HAVE these things when you JUST DECIDED TO WRITE THE FREAKIN’ BOOK???

The Group has been throwing out links which you’ve clicked on and you now have thirteen browsers open. You’ve also kept a running total of costs in your head – $4500.

And you haven’t even hit ten-thousand words in your story.

The group moves on to new topics and you sit quietly… even though you want to scream and vent like you invented the term “going postal”.

The meeting ends… thankfully… and you toss your thanks and goodbyes into the chorus. You leave the chat, unjoin the group, and close the browser.

In hindsight, you should have followed your spouse to Art and Wine Night, or surprised your parents by showing up at St. Paul’s for bingo night.

Sighing heavily, you head for the coffeemaker, suddenly veering off towards the wine… minus the art.

Returning to your desk, your mind is crammed full of things you know nothing about, but just about everyone is the free world is willing to teach you… for a price.

All you wanted to do was write a book. When did writing become so complicated? The Internet did not invent books. Millions were written before ‘https://www.’ became a thing.

Collecting your thoughts… with a nod to the wine… you make a short list of the things you saw and heard repeatedly. Website, mailing list, social networks. Those will do to start… eventually.

You push the list aside, close the remaining thirteen browsers… and work on your book.

And breathe.

52-Week Writing Challenge #MondayBlog

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Becoming a published author in 2016 was a big deal for me. Not just in the fact I had a real book ‘out there’ in the literary world, but after writing for over thirty years, I wrote something I allowed someone else to read. Except for school papers and a few years of penning FanFic, that just didn’t happen.

Since the earth didn’t tilt on its axis, nor did I internally combust, I decided to go all in and take it to the next level for 2017.

In addition to four planned book releases, three online reads, and a still-untitled novel for Wattpad, I joined the Writing Cooperative…AND committed to the 52-Week Writing Challenge!

Yes, I am slightly off-center.

I’ve chosen character sketches, plots, and BLURBS as my one year project. I may or may not use them in future WIPs, but it’s good practice and the Literary Gods cringe with displeasure at some of the blurbs found on books.

Sorry. It had to be said. Many have poured unlimited amounts of blood, sweat, and tears into their writings…and seven and a half minutes into the blurbs. Purchasing books based on covers seems to be a ‘thing’ lately, but the blurb is EVERYTHING. Having an amazing book cover that grabs readers’ attention is pointless if the book synopsis leaves them mentally writing their shopping list.

Do NOT send the town villagers after me with their torches and pitchforks…I’m just sayin’.

You can find my first writing challenge submission here. Read it, recommend it, or leave me a comment. Do you love it? Hate it? Think I should instead consider a profession in long haul trucking, or perhaps, fish husbandry? Tell me. I won’t break…promise.

Have a great week, and remember, it’s Girl Scout cookie season! Don’t even try to fight it – just have your money ready!