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?

Monday, May 18, 2020

How to Set Up Online Webinars and Meetings

With so many events canceled and people conducting meetings online, now is the time to look into this option. This gives authors an opportunity to reach out to people, offer valuable information, and keep marketing.

There are a lot of companies that offer this feature:
Click Meeting
Flow App
Join Me
Click Meeting
Webinar Jam
Mega Meeting
And the list goes on and on…

When trying to decide which is the best for you, here are some things to consider:
  • Overall cost
  • Ease of use
  • Available chat room
  • Slide show capabilities
  • Recording for later viewing
  • Number of participants allowed
  • Is automatic linking available to PayPal for paid events

Once you have selected your platform and set up your account, it’s time to set up your webinar/event. Most have a simple dashboard where you can set the title, the date, the time, paid or free, and how participants will join.

Once that’s set, it’s time to send out invites or advertise. If it’s a paid webinar, create a banner with all of the information and links to register. (See the sample one I created for my own webinar below.)
Register here: JUNE 9 / JUNE 11

During this time, start putting together your webinar. (Note it’s best to have the meeting/event planned before you set it up!) Will there be slides that need to be created? Will you be using a virtual whiteboard? Will you be on live feed yourself? Will you have a chat room during the event? You want it to look as professional as possible, so pick a good background for yourself and/or create detailed slides.

Check your equipment. At the least, you will need a good microphone. You also might need a good camera on your computer or tablet. Run a test meeting/webinar with your spouse or a friend and make sure everything works.

Once you have everything set, do a full test run with one person in attendance. Make sure the visuals and your talk flow smoothly and your participant can access and see everything needed.

After that, continue to practice until you’re sure you are comfortable with the material. Speaking in front of others is one of the greatest fears, but you can alleviate a lot of that by knowing your material inside and out. You don’t want to just read from a script. It needs to sound natural and you need to know your stuff.

Event day! You can either set up an automatic reminder or email the participants yourself. Get to your meeting/webinar room early and make sure everything is set and ready. Be sure to keep your microphone off until you are ready to go live. Confirm materials are ready, you have something to drink, and you are in a private setting where no one can interrupt you.

Once you begin, just relax. Pay attention to what others are saying, either verbally or through the chat. This means you need to be open to questions but remain in control. Address issues without deviating too far from your plan.

Once the event is done and you’ve logged off, congratulate yourself! Even if you messed up in a few places. You’ll get better.

Be sure to send a thank you email to everyone who participated by the following day. They might have more questions for you.

Now, who is ready to take on their own webinar?

Don’t forget that the 2020 IWSG anthology contest is now open.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Finding the Right Freelancer To Work On Your Novel

In the NBC series The Good Place, Chidi Anagonye is a character who’s notoriously bad at making decisions, whether big or small. Based on this alone, Chidi would have a tough time writing a novel, as the whole process is packed with decision-making: what will happen next? Will this character end up happily ever after? Should the story end here or later? Should my novel start in media res? These kinds of questions would send Chidi spiraling. And that’s just the writing! Once the manuscript is finished, one of the biggest decisions authors face is who they’ll trust to help them polish it into the final product that will find its way to readers. Luckily, for any of you writers out there who might relate to Chidi, we’ve got a couple of tips to help you find the right freelancer for your novel.

Do your homework

The search for your dream collaborator starts with a few different types of homework.

Know what type of freelancer you’re looking for

If you’re looking for an editor, are you hoping for them to focus on big-picture items such as plot holes, inconsistent characterizations, or structural issues? If so, you’ll want to look for a developmental editor. Perhaps you’ve already taken your story through its paces and want a professional eye to sweep your manuscript clean of any copy issues. In that case, a copy editor or proofreader will be your book’s new best friend. (You can learn more about the different types of editing here!) These kinds of distinctions can be important for book design and book marketing, too. Do you have an intricately illustrated book cover in mind? Are you hoping to work with a marketer who can show you the ropes of Facebook ads? The more you can figure out what it is you’re looking for, the more you can tailor your search to ensure you’re looking in the right places. And while you should certainly do this due diligence before you start looking, freelancers are often happy to point you in the right direction if you ask for their feedback. (Such as this editor who encouraged her client to get a copy edit after being approached for an editorial assessment!)

Review freelancer portfolios for relevant-market experience

For authors who are hoping to turn their foray into self-publishing into a full-fledged writing career, knowing your market is not only an important part of the writing process. A firm understanding of your market will inform almost all of your publishing decisions, including the freelancers you hire to ready your book for proverbial bookshelves. Let’s say you’ve already determined you need a developmental editor to address the pacing of your romance novel. A quick search of “romance developmental editors” on Google will yield thousands of results — and on the Reedsy marketplace, you’ll find about 250 vetted editors using the same search terms. Now let’s say your romance novel falls into the regency category. Why not take your search one step further by looking for developmental editors who have specifically worked on regencies? On Reedsy, the first editor you’d come across is Rose Lerner, and a quick scroll through her portfolio will show you she’s worked with bestselling historical romance authors Courtney Milan and Tessa Dare, and that she’s edited a number of regencies. Or perhaps you’ve written an apocalyptic sci-fi novel and know you want a boldly illustrated cover. Again, the first result on Reedsy will take you to Ryan Schwarz’ portfolio, where samples of his past work will give you immediate confirmation he’s experienced in that particular niche.

Establish a budget, but be willing to adjust expectations

Establishing a budget can be tricky for new authors who aren’t yet familiar with the costs of different services. If you’re hoping to turn book-writing into a career, something to keep in mind is that you’re essentially starting a business — and all new businesses require investment. That being said, you don’t want to break the bank, so you should come up with a solid idea of the budget your self-publishing career can reasonably afford. To get a better understanding of the averages certain services cost, you can turn to resources like this pricing calculator, which takes into account the length and genre of your book to provide you with a price range. However, the cost of working with a freelancer varies according to a number of factors, including the scope and complexity of the work and the experience level of the professional. So your best bet is to reach out to freelancers you’re interested in working with and request quotes from them. At Reedsy, we allow users to request free quotes from up to five professionals at a time. Remember, these are people who make a living by working with authors; they want to find projects that spark their interest. So don’t be shy when it comes to asking questions! And on that note...

Ask questions

Achieving a harmonious and fruitful collaboration relies heavily on communication. You absolutely want to hire a freelancer with experience working on books similar to yours. But it's also important that you’re able to have productive conversations with them. You want to feel comfortable giving feedback. At the same time, you want to know the feedback you receive will be delivered constructively as well. Finally, you want to be able to enjoy the collaboration process as well! You don’t want a working relationship emulative of Edgar Allan Poe and his editor, Rufus Wilmot Griswold. (Trust us, it was strained.) Friendly chit-chat and cordial interactions might not seem like a vital part of successful collaboration, but the opposite can undoubtedly lead to an unsuccessful one. So how do you know if you will “click” with someone before you’ve hired them? Ask questions! Inquire about a previous project or ask about their work process. You don’t want to pepper them with queries — keep in mind that freelancers are usually busy juggling multiple projects at once. But engaging in brief conversation while you’re still in the hiring process can help you get a sense of what communication might look like down the road.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

#IWSG 2020 Anthology Contest Opens and IWSG Anthology Voyagers: The Third Ghost Available Now!

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

The awesome co-hosts today are Feather Stone, Beverly Stowe McClure, Mary Aalgaard, Kim Lajevardi, and Chemist Ken!

Today’s question - Do you have any rituals that you use when you need help getting into the ZONE? Care to share?

Today we announce the release of the next IWSG anthology!

Voyagers: The Third Ghost

Print 9781939844729 $13.95
EBook 9781939844736 $4.99
Juvenile Fiction - Historical / Action & Adventure / Fantasy & Magic
Dancing Lemur Press/Freedom Fox Press

Journey into the past…

Will the third ghost be found before fires take more lives? Can everyone be warned before Pompeii is buried again? What happens if a blizzard traps a family in East Germany? Will the Firebird help Soviet sisters outwit evil during WWII? And sneaking off to see the first aeroplane – what could go wrong?

Ten authors explore the past, sending their young protagonists on harrowing adventures. Featuring the talents of Yvonne Ventresca, Katharina Gerlach, Roland Clarke, Sherry Ellis, Rebecca M. Douglass, Bish Denham, Charles Kowalski, Louise MacBeath Barbour, Beth Anderson Schuck, and L.T. Ward.

Hand-picked by a panel of agents, authors, and editors, these ten tales will take readers on a voyage of wonder into history. Get ready for an exciting ride!

The Third Ghost – Yvonne Ventresca
Winter Days - Katharina Gerlach
Feathered Fire – Roland Clarke
The Ghosts of Pompeii – Sherry Ellis
Dare Double Dare – Louise MacBeath Barbour
The Blind Ship – Bish Denham
A World of Trouble – Rebecca M. Douglass
The Orchard - Beth Anderson Schuck
Return to Cahokia – L.T. Ward
Simon Grey and the Yamamba - Charles Kowalski


Elizabeth S. Craig, author and honorary judge
Elizabeth is the bestselling cozy mystery author of the Southern Quilting mysteries, the Myrtle Clover Cozy Mysteries, the Village Library Mysteries, and Memphis Barbeque mysteries for Penguin Random House, Midnight Ink, and independently. Follow her on Twitter where she shares writing links @elizabethscraig or at her blog where she offers tips for writers. She lives in Matthews, North Carolina with her husband and is the mother of two.

Dianne K. Salerni, author
Dianne K. Salerni is the author of the The Eighth Day fantasy series and historical novels, The Caged Graves and We Hear the Dead. The Roosevelt Ghosts, featuring young cousins Eleanor and Alice Roosevelt and a vengeful ghost, will be released in 2020 by Holiday House.

Lynda Dietz, editor
Lynda has been fascinated with the written word since her earliest years of reading the back of the cereal box at the breakfast table. She’s now a copyeditor who works with authors in a variety of genres, both in fiction and nonfiction. She’s had a blog for over six years, and shares writing tips from an editor’s point of view with a healthy dose of snark and silliness. She’s also an unapologetic—but always encouraging—grammar thug.

S.A. Larsen, author
S.A. Larsen is the international award-winning author of the middle grade fantasy-adventure MOTLEY EDUCATION and the young adult contemporary-fantasy romance MARKED BEAUTY. When she’s not chasing her characters around a graveyard or antagonizing them with young love, she can be found in Maine with her husband and four children. Visit her cyber home at S.A. Larsen Books.

Rachna Chhabria, author
Rachna Chhabria's imagination has taken her all over the world and introduced her to all kinds of creatures. She is the author of Festival Stories Through The Year, Lazy Worm Goes on a Journey, The Lion Who Wanted to Sing and Bunny in Search of a Name. A columnist with Deccan Chronicle and The Asian Age, her stories have appeared in Young World, Open Sesame, Tele Kids and Deccan Herald Student Edition newspaper, as well as in several school textbooks. She also taught creative writing in a college for many years. As a child she loved listening to stories, now she loves writing them.

Lindsay Davis Auld, agent - Writers House
Lindsay first started at Writers House in the West Coast office, where she apprenticed with Steven Malk and has had the opportunity to work with some of the very best authors and artists in the industry. She is actively building her list, and is seeking picture book, middle grade, and young adult manuscripts. She has always been passionate about children's and young adult literature, and, as an agent, she is eager to help bring fresh voices, characters and stories to a new generation of readers.

Tonja Drecker, author
Tonja Drecker is a writer, blogger, children’s book reviewer and freelance translator. After spending years in Germany exploring forgotten castles, she currently resides in the Ozarks with her family of six. When she’s not tending her chickens and cows, she’s discovering new adventures, nibbling chocolate and sipping a cup of tea.

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.

Our previous IWSG anthologies -
Masquerade: Oddly Suited
Tick Tock: A Stitch in Crime
Hero Lost: The Mysteries of Death and Life
Parallels: Felix Was Here

And now, the theme reveal and opening of the 2020 IWSG Anthology Contest!

Guidelines and rules:

Word count: 4500-6000

Genre: Science Fiction

Theme: Dark Matter

Submissions accepted: May 6 - September 2, 2020

How to enter: Send your polished, formatted (double-spaced, no footers or headers), previously unpublished story to admin @ 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.

Ion Newcombe, eidtor and publisher
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!

Will you be picking up Voyagers or entering this year's contest?