Monday, July 13, 2020

#IWSG - Talking to readers about converting to ebooks!


How often do you have to explain to readers that your book is an ebook and not available as a paper book or as an audio book, but still just as awesome?
 Turn your book into ebook and publish on amazon by Ellagogo


At one time, I told people that I didn't want to read any books that were on a device. I didn't want to read on my phone, or a Kindle, or my computer.

But, I feel like that was SOOOO many years ago, and I've been totally converted since then. I actually read on my phone, AND my Kindle, AND my computer!

I still enjoy the occasional paper book, but now I need cheaters (glasses that magnify) in order to read them!

Top 10 Advantages of eBooks over Printed Books - Kitaboo


Just the other day I was singing the praises of ebooks to a reader...

 
  • Did you know there are like a gazillion books that are only available as ebooks?
  • Did you know that some major publishers have lines that are only ebooks?
  • Did you know you can download ereaders for free on all kinds of different devices?
  • Did you know that you can change the size/color of the font on an ereader?
  • Did you know that most ebooks are cheaper than paper books? (Unless you're using your local library!) (Which you totally should be doing!) (And you can totally get ebooks from your library!)
  • Did you know you can download your favorite titles in just seconds for instant gratification?
These are just some of the many reasons to give ebooks a try!

Best ereader of 2020: Amazon Kindle Oasis - Business Insider

I hope I gave them some ideas to think about and perhaps make them a convert!

How about you?
Have you converted any readers? 
How do you feel about ebooks, paper books, and audio books?

***
Did you know that the IWSG has an anthology contest going on right now? Check out all the details HERE!!!

Monday, July 6, 2020

Keeping Readers Hooked Throughout a Series

Today we're so excited to welcome Mary Kole. I call her Editor Extrordinaire. Welcome, Mary!

Many writers celebrate when they’ve written one novel or book for young readers—it’s a huge achievement, after all, to complete a manuscript! However, there are those writers whose stories span two, three, five, ten, or more books. I spoke with a client a few weeks ago who had a story written at over a million words, spanning nine decades, and more than ten manuscripts! Series writers are a special breed, and that’s why I’m excited to talk about crafting plot and character arcs over the long haul, rather than “just” one project, here.

Character development and plot development take on a somewhat different meaning when we talk about a series. You have some big decisions to make when it comes to both of these crucial elements. Let’s tackle character first. Here are three tips for crafting a great series character arc:

  1. Give your hero enough substance. A hero who goes “from innocence to experience” is fine and good, and a great hook to “hang” a standalone story on. But series characters need compelling wounds and objectives, motivations and needs, and some deep-seated damage or flaw that makes them interesting in the long term. 
  2. Turning points capture readers. As your nuanced character navigates their story, they need to have realizations, make decisions (good or bad), and wade through some ethical and moral gray areas. Series characters should have changes of heart, make mistakes, and be presented with tough choices. You are tracking years or decades of a character’s life, and a lot happens over an extended period of time that tests a character, yes, but could also change a character—for better or for worse. Readers should see the highest highs and the lowest lows of your protagonist before the series is done. It’s okay to not like them for a while or to even fantasize about killing them off, like thriller writer Lee Child’s famously admitted to doing with his Jack Reacher protagonist (featuring in 25 installments as of fall 2020).
  3. Think outside the protagonist. Series often come alive in the supporting characters and antagonists. If Voldemort hadn’t been that compelling, would Harry Potter have sung quite as beautifully over seven (very long) books? A series gives readers an opportunity to really sink into a story, and often that means lending additional development work to supporting characters, foils, and villains in the world.

When it comes to plot, you have one big decision to make right away: Will you be continuing one story or saga in your series, or will each book cover an isolated (but related) event? Series have gone many ways. Most series, like the Hunger Games and Percy Jackson series, follow one POV character through a series of interrelated events set in the same world. But there are options for telling a series story. Interconnected thrillers One of Us Is Lying and One of Us Is Next by Karen M. McManus follow different characters and different events, as do Kristin Cashore’s Graceling-world books. Or you can do a little bit of both—a linear character and story treatment, and then a companion book, like Allie Condie’s Matched series, with the addition of The Final Voyage of Poe Blythe. Or take a different path entirely. For example, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, and Ender’s Shadow, tell the same story through different POVs. 

Once you have your overall story scope figured out, here are considerations to keep in mind for a great series plot arc:

  1. A world with enough substance to support the conflict. In order to keep your series plot fires burning hot, you will need enough conflict to make things worse and worse and worse for your characters. We shot down a dragon invasion in the first book. Now the selkies are acting up in the second book. Then the king’s subjects will revolt in the third. World-building is crucial in any story, but if you intend to support a series with yours, is the world broad enough with enough potential hot spots where conflict can arise? But be wary, too, of just tossing random conflict into the ring. They shouldn’t discover a random alien planet that’s about to boil over for the fourth book just because we ran out of conflict on the home plant. Ideally, the conflicts are going to escalate in severity but also importance and potential impact on your characters and the world readers will have come to know.
  2. High stakes—in believable doses. I’ve long maintained that high stakes are actually very tricky to write (link to: https://kidlit.com/2016/02/15/high-stakes-are-tricky/) because they have to be compelling and believable. A series needs enough stakes and plot tension to support more than one book. However, if there’s an asteroid hurtling for the planet in every installment, followed by a supervolcano, then a zombie invasion, readers may get stakes overload—or think that your story world is the unluckiest place in the galaxy. Ideally, the stakes grow from the primary conflict of your story, one that boils down to an ideological difference between your protagonist and antagonist. All of the events of the conflict should be interconnected, and build one on top of the other. The first Hunger Games book is a story of personal survival for Katniss. By Mockingjay, she’s leading an entire movement in the same story world, for the same main cause. The world is big enough, per the point above, to support many conflicts … but they are offshoots of a main theme, and the stakes grow believably with each book.
  3. A denouement that rewards characters and readers. “Landing” a series is tricky, because readers and characters alike have invested years of their lives, literally, into the story. As a writer, you have more choices to make. What do you resolve? How? Does everything come up roses for the character, or is the series experience the place to play  more in the gray areas—with more victories, yes, but also more defeats? Readers become invested in series, which is exactly the point, but that also means more passion and more expectations. It’s always possible to extend a series, for example, Divergent and Hunger Games, both originally published as trilogies, with a fourth sidecar book issued later. But ideally, you will say what you want to say in a way that captures the nuances of an extended character and world, and also satisfied the bigger investment readers have made. Figure out what your entire series is about, in terms of world-building and theme, and wrap it up in a way that’s loyal to your personal thesis of the work. Every great series has something big to say, at the end of the day.

There are as many series, series characters, and series events as there are series writers. This list is not meant to be comprehensive or all-inclusive, as there are always exceptions to every single rule. However, I hope to have given you food for thought. 

What are some of your favorite series that have hooked you as a reader? How do they play into these ideas, or disagree with them?

Visit the Good Story Company

Some things about Mary Kole:

Former literary agent Mary Kole founded Mary Kole Editorial in 2013 and provides consulting and developmental editing services to writers of all categories and genres, working on children’s book projects from picture book to young adult, and all kinds of trade market literature, including fantasy, sci-fi, romance and memoir. She founded Good Story Company in 2019 with the aim of providing valuable content—like the Good Story Podcast and Crit Collective writing forum—to writers of all categories and ability levels.

She holds an MFA in Creative Writing and has worked at Chronicle Books, the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, and Movable Type Management. She has been blogging at Kidlit.com since 2009. Her book, Writing Irresistible Kidlit, a writing reference guide for middle grade and young adult writers, is available from Writer's Digest Books.




Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Sizzling IWSG First Wednesday in July


Alex J. Cavanaugh, Founder

Is anyone new to this site? Anyone who doesn't know about IWSG? Just in case. Here's what we are and what we do.

This is a place for writers to express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

We post the first Wednesday of every month. This is our official Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. You can also choose to answer the question of the month if you'd like. 

Be sure to visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time - and return comments. This group is all about connecting! Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post. And please be sure your avatar links back to your blog! Otherwise, when you leave a comment, people can't find you to comment back.

Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.

July 1 question (answering is optional)- There have been many industry changes in the last decade, so what are some changes you would like to see happen in the next decade?


The awesome co-hosts for the July 1 posting of the IWSG are Jenni Enzor, Beth Camp, Liesbet, Tyrean Martinson, and Sandra Cox! 


As a hybrid author (one who's traditionally and self-published) I've already seen one change that I wanted. The Indie author has become much more professional and, therefore, much more respected. 

In the future, I'd like to see more combinations of media, and I believe this is already happening. Recently I purchased a picture book that came in print but that was also accompanied by a musical version of the story. This was perfect for the young reader, but I think it also appeals to some older readers. There has always been a fascination about what music suits a story--a lot like what happens in the film industry. 

I'd like to see more Podcasts used in conjunction with published books, too. I think that hearing the stories behind the story enhances the reader's experience and connects authors to their readers. 

How would you answer this month's question?


Check Out The Guidelines & Rules
Don't miss this next opportunity to be included in a IWSG Anthology. This contest is up and running. If you want to submit a story, find all the details about how you do it HERE.

Quick Overview

Word count: 4500-6000
Genre: Science Fiction
Theme: Dark Matter
Submissions accepted: May 6 - September 2, 2020

I'm rambling on about writing and reading over at my BLOG, so stop by if you have time. 



Monday, June 22, 2020

Making A Living At Writing

Hello! My name is Sean McLachlan and the IWSG has been kind enough to invite me to take over the blog today and talk about how to achieve a common dream—making a living from writing.

First, a bit about me. I started my adult life as an archaeologist and worked in the United States, Europe, and the Middle East for ten years before deciding to switch to writing. Of course, I couldn’t make the transition overnight. It was a slow process of building up my portfolio while keeping my day job. Then I got a degree in journalism and writing became my day job. I worked at various newspaper and editing positions before striking out as a full-time freelancer.

Now, twenty years later, I’ve written or ghostwritten more than 50 books, plus thousands of paid blog posts and articles. While making it as a writer is never easy, a few simple tips will help you on your way.

Start Small and Familiar

When I first got started, I pitched history and archaeology articles, using my professional credentials to get in the door. Many of these markets were on the small side. You won’t hit the big leagues with your first publication. Examine your expertise and background and figure out how to market them.

Write Every Day, And Write A Lot

Freelance writers are paid by the article or word. Thus it stands to reason that the more you write, the more you get paid. If you’re submitting articles and books on spec, the more prolific you are, the better your chances of getting hired.

The best writing advice I ever got came when I was still a complete novice. I went to a writing conference where a successful mystery author shared this gem: “If you write a page a day, by the end of the year you’ll have a book.” My first reaction was, “What if I write two pages a day?”

I got to work. Within a year I had my first two book contracts.

Most financially successful authors (as opposed to literary prizewinners who teach for a living) have one thing in common—they are hardworking and prolific. I studied the careers of a dozen of these writers in my book Writing Secrets of the World’s Most Prolific Authors.

It was an eye-opening project. All these writers had written more than 300 books. The great Isaac Asimov almost didn’t make the cut, being the least productive writer I covered. Besides having a strong work ethic and incredible focus while still making sure to take care of themselves mentally and physically, they also knew contract law and worked in a variety of genres often under a variety of pen names. Plus they wrote in a clear, accessible style that attracted readers.

They also recognized one important fact—writer’s block is a myth. As famous Western writer Chet Cunningham put it, “Ever heard of a carpenter not going to work because he has ‘carpenter’s block’? If a writer can’t write, it’s because he doesn’t really want to, he isn’t ready to get it on paper, or he’s just plain lazy.”

Avoid Amateurism

First off, don’t write for free. If a market offers “exposure” but can’t afford to pay its authors, how much are they going to put into marketing? Beginning writers often lack self-confidence and get taken advantage of. If your work is good enough to be published, it’s good enough to pay for.

Also, don’t spend too much time on writing groups filled with other beginners. While they can be fun and supportive, they can also be filled with petty squabbles and bad information. If you must chat online with a community of writers, seek out a community that is achieving more than you are. That will help you level up.

Go Where the Money Is

Be constantly on the lookout for better and more promising markets. For several years I worked as a travel blogger for Gadling.com. They paid me to travel and write. Heaven! I sensed, however, that it was too good to last, so I started doing side gigs on Elance (now Upwork). I began with my original strength—rewriting a client’s archaeology dissertation as a popular level book. Then I got into ghostwriting novels, using my indie published novels as a CV. When the bottom fell out of the blogging market and Gadling folded, I was able to leap into ghostwriting to replace that income. In fact, I ended up earning much more. Sadly, I have to pay for my own plane tickets these days!

The key here is to diversify. Never rely on only one source of income. While Upwork is my biggest moneymaker these days, I work hard to sell my indie titles, and also do magazine articles and history booklets for extra income.

Always Be On the Lookout

The world is full of opportunities, and they go to those bold enough to ask for them.

In her memoir No Lady with a Pen, Ursula Bloom, a bestselling author of the early 20th century, wrote about how one early collaborator gave her a tip that she took to heart. “‘For every editor you meet, you ought to get an introduction to another one. That’s important.’ I followed his advice faithfully. I’ve met too many people who ask for advice and then push it aside because it isn’t the kind they fancy for themselves.”

Be open to good advice, be ready to take on new things, and be willing to work hard. That’s all you need. Good luck!


Want to know more about me and my work? Feel free to check out these links:

Amazon Author Page, The Productive Writer YouTube Channel, Facebook Author Page, The Midlist Writer Blog, and Instagram

Monday, June 15, 2020

Foreshadowing, Symbolism, and The Payoff

Sunrises and sunsets are powerful and common symbols.
Photo by Tyrean Martinson, taken with her phone in Georgia 2019.

Foreshadowing and symbolism can connect stories with readers on an emotional level to create a fully satisfying payoff ending. 

For an example from a popular movie I hope everyone has seen (spoiler alert!), near the beginning of Disney’s The Lion King, King Mufasa says to Simba, “A king’s time as ruler rises and falls with the sun. One day, Simba, the sun will set on my time here and will rise with you as the new king.” This piece of dialogue, along with the scene setting on Pride Rock at sunrise, includes both foreshadowing and symbolism.

Although movie-goers were moved to tears by Mufasa’s death in this Disney movie when it first came out in theaters, we also knew in the back of our minds this was coming because of the important piece of foreshadowing dialogue with Mufasa and Simba. This is cemented by the setting of the sun as Simba finds his dead father. The sunset symbolizes an ending.

When Simba takes his place at Pride Rock, much later in the movie, the scene swiftly changes from a stormy atmosphere to a sunrise, symbolizing the beginning of his new reign. The music swells, and we finish the movie on a positive note.

For many viewers, this movie struck a deep chord, speaking directly to them through symbolism and foreshadowing, with a good follow-through in the payoff ending.

Foreshadowing can come in the form of dialogue as it does in Lion King, a dream or vision, or a small, but meaningful incident during the introduction of a story’s characters and their problems. It can help the reader or viewer see a little of the way ahead in the story, and hint at a bigger picture to come. Foreshadowing builds tension and excitement.

Symbols connect us to the story with a minimum of words. There are so many symbols, it would be hard to list them all, but try thinking of movies or stories with these: sunsets, sunrises, open doors, closed doors, keys, locks, shadows, lightning, storms, roots, caves, tunnels, mountains, valleys, and any of the four seasons (summer, winter, fall, and spring), just to name a few common symbols.

Seasons make for great symbols, even if they are commonly used.
Photo by Tyrean Martinson, with her phone camera.


When foreshadowing and symbols are tied closely to each other, they seem to magnify their connection to the reader. 

However, a writer must always be aware of need for a payoff ending.

If a writer sets up foreshadowing and uses symbolism, the reader is going to expect a big payoff on these investments. A writer can create red herrings or false trails to give readers more possibilities to wonder over in the story, but a path of foreshadowing and symbols needs to land the reader in the payoff section of the conclusion. This is the reader’s reward for reading the book. It doesn’t have to come in a happily ever after like The Lion King. Shakespeare’s Hamlet was one of the sources for The Lion King, but while it includes foreshadowing and symbolism, it definitely does not have an HEA.

Payoff in the conclusion of a story does not necessarily mean happiness for the characters, it only means the foreshadowing and symbols line up with the ending events. 

How do we create foreshadowing and symbols which lead to a big payoff?

Plot-bound writers can often plan these effectively in their writing.

Pantsters may need to read through their rough draft and find foreshadowing and symbolic elements they may have used without realizing it.

Plotters need to be aware of subconscious symbols as well, since these may show up randomly in our writing because the language of symbolism runs deep across many cultures.

Circle the specific nouns you’ve used the most in description throughout your novel. These may be the key to symbolism in your novel. If you need to, make a list of what these nouns could symbolize or look up a list of symbols on the internet.

Foreshadowing may take a little more work in revision, even for plotters. A writer may need to plant some foreshadowing dialogue in the first five pages of the novel. At first, this may feel awkward, but I suggest trying it, and then getting feedback from other writers.

For the payoff in the conclusion, a writer needs to use the most important symbol(s) again. Refer back to the foreshadowing with character dialogue, setting description, or another small-but-meaningful incident. Mufasa and Simba walk up Pride Rock at sunrise, Mufasa dies in a dark valley at sunset– opposite place and time of day, and Simba walks back up Pride Rock at sunrise when his reign begins. Foreshadowing and strong symbols find their bookend pairs in the payoff ending.

Foreshadowing and symbolism can work powerfully in individual books and across a series of books, but a writer must give the reader some kind of payoff in each book in a series. 

This is important. No matter how beautifully written the symbols are, some kind of payoff needs to take place in each book. In a series, layers of foreshadowing and symbols may be used to give readers more and more to look forward to as each book presents a mini payoff leading up to the final payoff in the last book.

For an example of this, think of the symbol of the Death Star in the Star Wars universe – this weapon, technology leading up to the weapon, or technology based on the weapon are in nearly every Star Wars story. Death looms over the characters and must be dealt with in every movie.

Have you used foreshadowing, symbols, and the payoff ending? Can you think of more examples? 

Monday, June 8, 2020

An Expansive Mini-Guide for Structuring Your Short Story




Structure and Character in the Short Story

Pixabay.com

Let’s talk about short story creation and structure. 

Word Limits: 

·         A short story typically has 1500 to a 7500-words. You need to always read and follow submission guidelines when submitting stories. 
·         Flash Fiction has around 500 to a 1000-words. 

Word count image created in Excel by the author using information from Wikipedia and the Author Learning Center

To Start:

·         You need a character with a deep need or desire. Something that they will fight or struggle to get or resist. They need an external need/desire and an internal need/desire. This need or want is intertwined with the character's core motivation for their actions and choices, consciously or subconsciously, good or bad. Maslow'sHierarchy of Needs.
·         Your character needs resistance, and by that, I mean something, someone, situation or event, that prevents them from fulfilling their deep need or desire. This resistance generates conflict for the forward story movement.


Clarify and simplify your character's personality with a one-word description tool to capture character essence while you write.  Describe them with one word to help you create a concept in your mind to use as a guide. ex: hopeless romantic, avenging mailman, nervous bank teller, guilty father, cranky bus driver. 


Decide on setting.  Setting can be snow at Christmas, or in the middle of Walmart, or a rainy day Monday, or waiting for a bus at the bus terminal.


Or a situation can also serve as both setting, location, and generate general conflict ideas: A bank robbery or shopping for toilet paper during the Corvid19 pandemic.

Start a short story as close to the end and in the action as possible.


The Hook

What is a story hook?  Why use it? A hook is something that is special about your story that grabs the reader’s attention keeps them reading.  A hook is story-based through ideas and concepts directly connect to the story world.  Suggested reading: Active Hooks.

In short stories, the hook works somewhat like the inciting incident in novel plotting. You want to grab them in the first couple of lines or by the first and second paragraphs.

Keep your word limits in mind.

Start your story in the middle of the action, or with active dialogue, or active setting as story character or reveal some aspect of your character.  Suggested reading: Active Setting

Get rid of thought verbsto be verbs and excess filler words such as just, really, very, even, then/than, suddenly, and phrases like at or in the moment, just now and so forth. Write with conciseness.  Limit your adjectives.

Use strong verbs such as batter, blab, growl, gush, shimmer.  

The purpose of a scene is to show a moment in the life of the character within the story world moving toward the story end goal. 



Story Movement--Rising Action

 

The rising action is a series of actionable scenes leading up to the climax of a story. 

The word limits of short stories do not leave a lot of room for characterization, setting, and conflict. That means you have to be selective in word choice and limit your conflict.

The rising action begins at the beginning of any story. Actions and choices, when presented with resistance, move your character toward the story's high point. (Novels structure refers to this as the climax — turning point.)

Short stories, unlike novels, will only have two or three of these moments until the turning point because of word limits.


Conflict In Story: Resistance


The purpose of all conflict in stories is to move the story forward toward the end story goal or scene story goal.

Conflict is NOT something random happening or daily routine.

Conflict is anything that stands in the way of your character reaching their greatest desire or need creating change within the character and/or outside the character or story world.

Conflict is generated and sustained through the choices and actions your character takes when blocked by the resistance, keeping them from the thing they desire or need most.

The High Point or Climax

 

The climax is somewhere in the middle of ANY story. Everything after that will be falling action moving the character toward the resolution or end story goal.

The climax is the highest pivotal moment or emotional point signifying a change in direction or heart in the story. It is the moment when your character realizes how much they have to lose.

It also clarifies and solidifies all rising action to this point leaving, no doubt why this is happening or happened.

The character is all in—no turning back win or lose.  

In short stories, this is often the dark night of the soul too or followed, in short, by the dark night of the soul because of limited word counts. The falling action then is the events that move the story toward the end goal or resolution.


Falling Action

 

Falling action occurs after the climax and sets a tone opposite of rising action cueing the reader the end approaches.   

In a short story, you may have two or just one falling action moment, conflict--resistance, before the resolution. The falling action is the journey to the wrap-up. You tie up loose ends giving the reader closure for the story.

A Summary of Short Story Structure


The beginning = Setup a character with a problem in setting
The rising resistance = A character faced with choices and prevented from reaching or achieving their deepest desire or need. (Obstacles to overcome internal and/or external.)
The climax = This is the highest point in the story. It is created by the rising action forcing the character to go all-in with no turning back.
The falling action = The journey and resistance to reach the end tying up all unfinished elements moving to the story resolution.
The resolution = The problem is solved through the characters, choices or actions, achieving their deepest desire or need or accepting the loss.

All loose ends are resolved. It may also show a brief glimpse of the character in this new world created by their journey and choices.



Here are some free tools to help you create characters and guide story structure. 
·         Bonus extended character creation cheat sheet using astrology for creating more 3-dimensional characters and in-depth worldbuilding.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

What's Happening with the IWSG?

The annual anthology contest is open!

Theme: Dark Matter

Submissions accepted: May 6 - September 2, 2020
Guidelines and rules:

Word count: 4500-6000

Genre: Science Fiction
How to enter: Send your polished, formatted (double-spaced, no footers or headers), previously unpublished story to admin @ insecurewriterssupportgroup.com before the deadline passes. Please include your full contact details, your social links, and if you are part of the Blogging, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter IWSG group.

Judging: The IWSG admins will create a shortlist of the best stories. The shortlist will then be sent to our official judges.

Our official awesome judges:


Dan Koboldt, author and #SFFpit founder
Dan Koboldt is the author of the Gateways to Alissia trilogy (Harper Voyager), the editor of Putting the Science in Fiction (Writers Digest, 2018), and the creator of the sci-fi adventure serial The Triangle (Serial Box, 2019). As a genetics researcher, he has co-authored more than 80 publications in Nature, Science, The New England Journal of Medicine, and other scientific journals. He is represented by Paul Stevens of Donald Maass Literary Agency.


Lynda R. Young, author
Lynda R. Young is an Aussie writing fantasy novels as Elle Cardy. Wielder’s Prize is her debut YA epic fantasy. She is also an editor, game developer, 3D artist, graphic designer, photographer, gamer and more.

Colleen Oefelein, agent, The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency
Colleen Oefelein is an author of YA, picture books, and author promotion guides, a devourer of books, and the owner of the book review site North of Normal. Formerly an associate agent and PR manager with Inklings Literary Agency, Colleen has hosted numerous “Pitch Perfect” and “Rejection Correction” workshops on Facebook and at conferences nationwide, and she’s mentored several authors one-on-one through online pitch contests such as Pitch Wars.
Damien Larkin, author
Damien Larkin is an Irish science fiction author and co-founder of the British and Irish Writing Community. His debut novel Big Red was published by Dancing Lemur Press and went on to be longlisted for the BSFA award for Best Novel. He currently lives in Dublin, Ireland and is working on his next novel Blood Red Sand.

is the editor and publisher of AntipodeanSF, Australia's longest running online speculative fiction magazine, regularly issued since January 1998. His qualifications and employment range from horticulture through electronics into literature and communications.


Julie Gwinn, agent, The Seymour Agency
Julie Gwinn most recently served as Marketing Manager for the Christian Living line at Abingdon Press and before that served as Trade Book Marketing Manager and then Fiction Publisher for the Pure Enjoyment line at B&H Publishing Group, a Division of LifeWay Christian Resources. Recently, she was awarded Editor of the Year from the American Christian Fiction Writers and won B&H’s first Christy award for Ginny Yttrup’s debut novel Words.
David Powers King, author
David's works include Woven, The Undead Road, and Full Dark: An Anthology. He currently resides in the Mountain West with his wife and 4 children.

Prizes: The winning stories will be edited and published by Dancing Lemur Press' imprint Freedom Fox Press next year in the IWSG anthology. Authors will receive royalties on books sold, both print and eBook. The top story will have the honor of giving the anthology its title. Please see their website for general guidelines on the types of stories they publish.

We’re excited to see the creativity and enthusiasm that’s such a part of this group put into action. So don your creative caps and start writing. And spread the word!


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Have news and want a shout out? Email us!
Each month, we send out the IWSG newsletter packed with information, updates, and tips. If you'd like to be included or add quick promo for your work, just let us know.
Email me: elizabethseckman(at)ymail(dot)com
*please add IWSG shout out to the subject line


                                                                    *****


Have a question about marketing or publishing?





Carolyn Howard Johnson has a series of books that are a great resource for writers who need to do their own editing and promoting. She's one smart lady and she's agreed to help our writers by answering any question from editing to promotion to publishing. If you have a question you'd like Carolyn to answer, add it to the comments or email me at elizabethseckman(at)ymail(dot)come. Add IWSG Question to the subject line.


This multi award-winner, now in its third edition, celebrates its 16th Anniversary as the flagship of Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s


HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers. For only a few cents a day the third edition of The Frugal Book Promoter assures your book the best possible start in life. The author was inspired to write this book full of nitty-gritty how-tos for getting nearly-free publicity for her UCLA Writers’ Program class. A former publicist, journalist, and retailer, Carolyn shares her professional experience as well as practical tips gleaned from the successes of her own book campaigns. She tells authors how to do what their publishers can’t or won’t and why authors can often do their own promotion better than a PR professional. Check out Carolyn's website and see all of her books.

Monday, May 25, 2020

You're Almost Half-Way There


You set out on January one with those applaudable, and you hoped, achievable writing goals for 2020. We’re now five months into the new year, so how has that worked for you? 

1___Great?  2____So-so?  3____Not at all?

If you checked number one, my hat’s off to you and you can go do something besides read on, but if you opted for two or three, maybe you’ll be interested in the rest of this article. 

If you’ve read any of my posts or comments around social media, you may have stumbled on my interest in Eastern philosophy. I have practiced meditation and yoga for many years, and somewhere along the way, I realized I needed to apply that philosophy to my writing. 

 That’s when instead of only setting goals, I began with setting intentions

“Okay, stop right there,” you say. “What’s this mumbo-jumbo anyway? There’s no difference between a goal and an intention.”

Well, yes there is. Think about what a goal looks like expressed in words. 
  • I’m going to write 1,000 words a day. 
  • I’m going read three books on writing craft this year. 
  • I’m going to post on four social media platforms daily.


Each of those goals while possible to achieve, are all about how you see the future. What that means is they quite possibly aren’t what will satisfy or fulfill you over time. Once you feel the let down, it becomes harder to slog ahead through the year.

But what if you: 
  • set that keen and very busily plotting mind aside and just take a seat for a moment?
  • stop all that brilliant thinking and go to where you are right now, to what you desire most? 
  • forget the future. It doesn’t exist anyway, right?   

Let’s start with the intention of being awake and aware and in the present moment as much as possible. Or maybe you’d like to bring joy into your writing. Having a few gallons of that on a regular basis, just might buoy those goals of 1,000 words a day, but what if those 1,000 words don’t come for a week, does that mean you have to give up on joy? No. Having joy is possible without your putting a single word on the page. And tomorrow when your joyful self plunks down in your writing space, who knows but that 2,000 words won’t flow from you onto that page? 

A quick recap: 
  • Goals are focused on the future. 
  • Intentions are your deepest desires at the present moment. 
  • Goals are a destination or specific achievement. 
  • Intentions are lived each day, independent of achieving any goal or destination.
  • Together they carry you to your destiny.
How's your year going so far? Do you still have those goals in mind? Maybe you've reached some, but are still hoping to achieve others. Does the difference between goals and intentions make sense to you as a creative person?