Monday, December 23, 2013

How to Stay in Writing Mode During the Holidays

During the next two weeks, most of us will be in holiday mode - parties, dinners, family gatherings, etc. We’ll either freely abandon writing thoughts or feel guilty we aren’t writing as much as we’d like during this time. But there are a few things we can do to keep us in writing mode so we don’t start out the new year with the momentum of a slug.

1 - People watch
Watch how others interact. Observe their body language. Note appearances and characteristics you’d like to use in your next book.

2 - Interact with people
Talk to people. (You’ll be talking to them anyway!) Ask them questions. Find out about their pasts, hobbies, and experiences. Use it as research for your next character or story.

3 - Notice settings
Take a good look at Christmas decorations. You may be traveling - an excellent time to observe new surroundings. What details could you use in your manuscript?

4 - Embrace the change of pace
The holidays always disrupt our routine. That’s okay. Let the differences refresh you. Let it be a vacation, even if only in your mind.

5 - Take photos
Most of us take photos over the holidays anyway. Like writing, it’s another form of creativity that can get us going. Take pictures of anything and everything that strikes your fancy - whatever inspires you.

6 - Schedule writing time
Take advantage of short breaks to jot down ideas. Reread part of your manuscript. Go over plot points in your head. But be aware of distractions and don’t get down if you don’t get to write.

The holidays don’t have to slow you down as a writer. Plan ahead and be sure to enjoy life, too.

Congrats to our IWSG Contest winners:

N. America prize package - Terri Rochenski

International prize package - Phil V. Ariel

Remember that the next posting for the IWSG will be on Wednesday, January 8th. We are skipping the first Wednesday since it falls on New Year’s Day.

Happy holidays!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Seven Lessons Learned from Blogging

Navigating the publishing landscape can be likened to exploring a major city without a tour guide. Landmarks abound, but not all of them carry the same weight in terms of history or importance. Whether you’re with a publisher, have self-published or you’re still mapping a path to publication, there are ways to make the journey less lonely and stressful.
Start Promotion Early each time you’re publishing a book. I’ve been caught flat footed time and again, so I know it’s important to keep potential readers and blogging buddies aware of what’s happening with an upcoming book. Lead up activity is important in that it creates awareness and gives people time to get on your bandwagon for blast off day.

Don’t be Afraid to Ask for help. Many of us in the blogging/writing community can relate to not wanting to be a bother when we have something to promote. Over the years, I’ve learned that writers do want to see others succeed and will help if given a chance to do so.

Be a Beacon to your fellow bloggers/writers. Even if you have a small following, you do have the power to help someone else. Ever come across a post with great information but little response by way of comments? Give it a tweet. You never can tell who might need the information or what connections you’ll make. I’ve picked up Twitter follows from influential writers simply by sharing a post.

Build Goodwill through your actions. I’m sure you can think of people who are kind and helpful, just because. I’m also sure that you find it easy to return favours when these persons call on you for help, because they freely give encouragement and support. A band of authors who share the same genre can help each other through cross-promotion of books, with good results.

Share the Love by following other people’s blogs and commenting. You might say ‘Duh!’ to this, but I had no clue what to do when I first started blogging. I wondered why I was the only one visiting me. When I did visit others, I didn’t follow. Instead, I’d lurk and not leave footprints. Over time, I learned that most bloggers would follow back if I left a trail to my blog, and they liked my content.  

Be Approachable. Each of us started with a single follower or perhaps a handful. I continue to be amazed by super-bloggers like Alex and Arlee, who take time to respond to comments, or if they don’t respond on their blogs, they make visits. A blogger who doesn’t respond to comments in any way is a turn off. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you is a good rule to live by.

Use Nifty Tools at your disposal. I feel like a hypocrite saying this as I don’t make enough time to pre-schedule my messages. Don’t be a random tweeter. Save yourself the hassle of tweeting manually by using one of the many auto tweeting services now available. I’ve tried several and have started using HooteSuite again recently. Triberr is a really cool site, basically it’s Twitter on steroids. Check it out and make use of it if you can. It gives bloggers a massive reach in combination with other people. 

Here’s something extra. ‘Brawta’ as we say in Jamaican Patois. Write things down. I can’t endorse this enough. As you become more serious about your writing, it’s important to be on top of all the obligations that you will take on in terms of promoting your work and that of other people. Apart from Google’s nifty calendar, I use one of those calendars from Microsoft where you can see a month’s activities at a glance. That way, I know where I’m supposed to be guest posting when, as well as the dates I’m supposed to be sending the post/interview over. I also know which blogger/writer I’m hosting and the date.

So, d’you feel any more informed and secure about some of the things you should be doing on your publication journey? Have any advice to add?

Don’t forget to enter the IWSG contest, which closes on December 18. Enter here to help us spread the word about the site. We have some fabulous prizes!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

IWSG Post Day and Announcing a Contest!

For those of you participating in the IWSG posting on your blogs, today is the day you throw your securities to the wind or offer words of encouragement. If you are a blogger, we encourage you to join us. Full description and sign up HERE.

IWSG Contest!

Open to everyone and anyone with a blog or a Twitter, Google+, or Facebook account.

Help us spread the word about our new site! The Facebook Page is already rocking. Let people know the two ways they can benefit from the IWSG website:

1 - It’s a database of information, focusing on major links, other databases, and resources for writers. Topics include writing tips; publishers, agents, and queries; self-publishing; marketing; contests; publications; and services. Each page is a wealth of information, leading to some of the top sites for authors, and we also post information to help writers every Monday.

2 - The IWSG itself – the first Wednesday of every month is the official posting day for those with blogs. Members post their insecurities, frustrations, and concerns, and others stop by to offer encouragement and advice. The kindness and words of wisdom have kept writers going when they were ready to quit. Many have discovered solutions to their problems. Friendships have been forged and critique partners established.

Help us spread the word –
Tweeting – one entry
Google+ post – two entries
Facebook post – five entries
Blog post – ten entries

We have two prize packages that will be awarded:

Package one - North America only-
Autographed copy of Dead Witness by Joylene Nowall Butler
Autographed copy of The Circle of Friends, Book V…Heather by L. Diane Wolfe
Autographed copy of Overcoming Obstacles with SPUNK by L. Diane Wolfe
Autographed copies of The Keepers of Sulbreth and The Greater Good by Susan Gourley, plus swag

Package two – International-
5 page critique of a manuscript and a blog badge/banner from Michelle Wallace
EBook of How to Publish and Promote Your Book Now by L. Diane Wolfe
First chapter critique from Lynda R. Young
All three eBooks of the Cassa series by Alex J. Cavanaugh
EBooks Christine's Odyssey & Saving Sam by J.L. Campbell

As you spread the word, come back and fill out the form below.

Contest is open until December 16 – winners will be announced December 18.

Thanks everyone for helping us reach even more writers!

And the winners are…

North America Package:

International Package:

Thanks to everyone who participated and helped spread the word!

Monday, December 2, 2013

4 Reasons to Celebrate Your Writing Milestones

Writing is a long journey. We can’t simply wake up one morning, say, “I’m going to write a book today,” and it’s done. It takes time to craft, develop an idea, research, plot, write the first draft, rewrite, revise and edit. The journey isn’t done once the book is complete. Those cover blurbs, queries, and synopses need to be written. And still the journey isn’t done once the book is out in the public. There’s the marketing, more marketing, and still more marketing … and then there is the next book.

Because of everything that needs to be done, the book can seem like a golden egg at the end of an arduous quest through rocky terrain, past fire-breathing dragons, across seas of flesh-melting lava. Okay, so perhaps not that bad, but you get the picture I’m painting here. The sheer magnitude of what we want to achieve can become daunting. We need to break the journey into manageable sections, the end of each with its own little treasure waiting for us. And that treasure is the celebrations. Here’s why:

Celebrations give writers:

1. A sense of achievement. By celebrating our milestones, no matter how small those achievements might be, we turn our focus from what we haven’t yet done, to what we have. We can look forward with a sense of satisfaction, which in turn builds our confidence to keep working toward that golden end goal of publication.

2. A reminder of the love of writing. Celebrations build the passion we have for not only the end product, but the little joys along the way. It’s easy to get caught up in the doubts and questions and hard work. As a consequence, we might begin to drag our feet. To regain our skip, and recall why we love writing so much, we need to step back and celebrate.

3. A ticket back to reality. Often when I write, I throw myself into my story world and get caught up with the characters. It’s good to step away and reconnect with the human race. Celebration is an easy way of doing this. It coaxes us from our self-made writing caves and invites others in.

4. A needed break. Celebrations provide a necessary break and enable us to dive into the next part of the process better equipped. If we keep working without taking a moment to step back, then we’ll lose that special something in the story.

So the next time you complete an outline, polish a chapter, or query an agent, celebrate. You’ve come a long way. You’ve taken an amazing step. You are a writer.

What are some ways you like to celebrate? What have you most recently celebrated?

Don’t forget this Wednesday is IWSG day where we all post about our writing insecurities. If you haven’t already joined our group and would like to take part in our encouraging community, then you can sign up HERE.

Lynda R. Young found success as a digital artist and an animator for many years, and now as a writer of speculative short stories. Her work is published in a number of anthologies and online. She is currently writing novels for young adults. In her spare time she also dabbles in photography and all things creative.
You can find her here: Blog, Twitter, Facebook