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Archive for September, 2015

Eclectic cast of characters at this Dangerous Tea Party

Day 8 of the 5-Week Author Blog Challenge asks about favorite literary characters. All 35 posts for this Challenge will be focused on writing, publishing, and book marketing. As you will soon learn, I would invite a variety of characters for tea. I hope you’ll stick around through all 35 posts. And if you want to take part, come on in – the water is great! You can register here.

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Day 8 writing prompt:

Who is your favorite literary character? With which literary character do you most relate? Which literary character would you most like to invite for tea/coffee? What would you ask him/her? What do you think you could teach him/her?

I can’t find it now, but I remember reading an article on HuffPost about a year ago describing how women prefer angry, bitchy, hard, difficult, emasculating – frankly, awful – female characters. According to this article, modern women (I don’t recall the specific demographics) despise likeable characters. Now, it’s just common sense that even the strongest protagonist must have a flaw or a foible – perhaps a big one, if the story arc allows for such a character trait. But I, personally, also want characters to whom I can relate.

Though not a smoker, I could relate to schleppy Bridget Jones. Though neither a witch, a resident of Oz, nor a woman with a green patina, I could relate to Elphaba’s good intentions and unintended ostracization in Wicked. I’m not sure how likeable either was – but to me, at least, they were relatable.

I’m not much for favorite characters, or rereading a book again and again. I don’t care for series – never having made it past the third book in any series, going all the way back to my junior high days and the Joan Lingard “Kevin and Sadie” series about a Catholic boy and a Protestant girl growing up in Ireland. I suppose it’s that I prefer to learn something new, see a new place, and/or meet new characters, rather than reading volume after volume of a continuing saga.

LP & Harold

Childhood favorites include The Little Prince and Harold and the Purple Crayon. My sister asked me yesterday, “Why Harold? He doesn’t really do anything, and nothing happens to him.”

“He can draw anything and go anywhere he imagines!” came my strident response.

“Oh, right. If he can picture it, he can bring it to life with that purple crayon,” she nodded in agreement, after a few thoughtful moments.

Tigger, Horton, MP, Franie Nolan, and Dread Pirate Roberts

Tigger, Horton, MP, Franie Nolan, and Dread Pirate Roberts

As for whom I’d invitee to dinner or tea, the question came to me years ago, in a daily email from the inspirational author Sark. The suggestion at the time was, “Invite someone dangerous to tea.” I liked the concept so much that I even started a blog called The Dangerous Tea Party. I wrote a few posts for it, but never to the extent that I anticipated. Then, an actual dangerous Tea Party became a thing … and I let the whole idea fade mostly away. Until recently, when I was trying to come up with an icebreaker for a networking-only meeting of the Phoenix Publishing & Book Promotion Meetup. I resurrected this tea party question, and voila: today’s prompt.

So whom would I invite? Tigger, Horton (he heard a Who), Mary Poppins, Francie Nolan (from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn) and Dread Pirate Roberts (from The Princess Bride), come to mind. Lord – can you imagine a single dinner with all of them? That’s enough to get one’s imagination spinning in a hundred different directions.

I suppose if I could meet any character at all, though, it would be my own main character, Stanford Crowley. Though loosely based on a good friend, Stan has developed his own personality, over time. While I don’t think I’d much like him at first, I would love to sit with him and have him regale me with tales of his travels once he’s come back to the states. And where would this mythical meeting take place? A pub in Ireland’s County Cork, maybe. A café overlooking the Bosphorus River in Istanbul, perhaps. Or a nondescript bar in Athens – all places he visits on his trek around the world.

Please be sure to check out my next post, about how the idea for Stan came to me.

And for the record, I’d love your feedback on my Author Blog Challenge posts! And, of course, would really love to have you support all of the bloggers in the Challenge. Find their links here.

Here’s to hosting your very own Dangerous Tea Party!

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________Anatomy of a Book Launch

If you’re getting ready to launch your book and would like help to put together a successful event, download my free special report: Anatomy of a Book Launch. Then CALL me at 602.518.5376 to schedule your complimentary 15-minute consultation. It’s never too early to begin planning!

__________________

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Writers block cure? Keep writing!

Day 7 of the 5-Week Author Blog Challenge brings to light a condition all writers likely face at one time or another: writers’ block. All 35 posts for this Challenge will be focused on writing, publishing, and book marketing. I hope you’ll stick around through all 35 posts. And if you want to take part, come on in – the water is great! You can register here.

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Day 7 writing prompt:

Do you ever experience writer’s block? What do you recommend to help overcome writer’s block? Any foolproof tricks that always work for you?

From the time I was in maybe sixth grade all the way through high school, I hated on-the-spot writing assignments. The teacher would give us a topic and tell us we had the rest of the period to write; the paper would be collected at the end of the class. In a 50-minute class, I would spend the first 20 to 30 minutes doodling, going to the bathroom, cleaning out my book bag – anything but writing! I’m not sure why, but I was never able to just put pen to paper and scribble out an essay. I’d watch the clock, baiting it to keep ticking. Then, at the last possible minute, I’d start writing and pour out an essay, dotting the final I’s and crossing the final T’s just as the teacher said, “OK, pens down. Pass your papers forward.”

beautiful journalist looks typewriter

I think there’s a distinction to be made between writers’ block, where the words simply will not flow, regardless of the genre, subject, or deadline looming, and procrastination, where you could write if you tried, but you’re just plain putting it off. My episodes in junior high and high school were obstinate procrastination, but I don’t think they could have rightly been called writers’ block.

For many years since high school, neither writers’ block nor that kind of intense procrastination about writing were a problem for me. Of course, as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, nonfiction is easy! Fiction is another animal entirely. Presently, I find that I’ve created a scene in my novel-in-progress that is very difficult to write through. I’ve considered eliminating the scene, erasing it entirely from the story – but I don’t want to do that for a couple reasons. For one thing, it adds to the travelogue/personal discovery aspect for the main character, Stan. Secondly, I’m bigger than this small episode of writers’ momentary challenge. I will vanquish the writers’ block and be done with it for good!

NOTE: I paused writing this blog post to go and actually write the scene that was giving me so much trouble. Really! In writing about my writers’ block, I realized how easy it would be to just finish, so I opened the file, went straight to the last unfinished paragraph of the scene in question, and added the 169 words it took to finish it. Whew!

So, do I have any suggestions for overcoming writers’ block? Well, I just shared what worked eternal strugglefor me: describing it in detail. Maybe you can try it, too? Other ideas include free writing (write anything for 5 or 10 minutes, without picking up your pen(cil), even “I wish I knew what to write. I wish I knew what to write. I wish I knew what to write.”); writing in a different place than usual; writing in a different way (e.g., longhand if you typically type on a computer, or vice versa); taking a walk; playing music; having sex

I think the only answer, really, is just to write.

Check back tomorrow when I’ll be dishing on my favorite literary characters.

And for the record, I’d love your feedback on my Author Blog Challenge posts! And, of course, would really love to have you support all of the bloggers in the Challenge. Find their links here.

Here’s to whatever it takes to let the words flow!

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________Anatomy of a Book Launch

If you’re getting ready to launch your book and would like help to put together a successful event, download my free special report: Anatomy of a Book Launch. Then CALL me at 602.518.5376 to schedule your complimentary 15-minute consultation. It’s never too early to begin planning!

__________________

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Music-lovin’ night owl writes when the mood strikes

Day 6 of the 5-Week Author Blog Challenge focuses on the writing process. All 35 posts for this Challenge will be focused on writing, publishing, and book marketing. My writing process for my novel is a bit scattered. Nonfiction is a different story entirely! I hope you’ll stick around through all 35 posts. And if you want to take part, come on in – the water is great! You can register here.

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Day 6 writing prompt:

Take us through your writing process. Do you keep a regular writing schedule? Do you write on your laptop or longhand? Do you have a favorite place to write? Are you most inspired in the morning, afternoon, evening, or middle of the night?

Oh, how I’d love to tell you I am an organized, orderly writer. We have prompts coming up about the outlining process and about where the idea for our book originated – in hindsight, those probably should have come first, as there’s overlap, to be sure. I was amazingly organized in my outlining and will share those details on Day 10.

writing at night

When it comes to writing, however, I’m more of a “when I have a few minutes” … “when I look at the calendar and feel the time ebbing away since the last time I sat down to add a couple of paragraphs to Stan’s travels” … “when I have a new idea” … “when I want to re-read a section to see if I got a detail correct” kind of gal.

About 10 months ago, I went up to a friend’s home in New River – a town about an hour north of my home in Metro Phoenix – to stay in her guest house, isolated from TV, laundry, and other distractions. I got a lot of writing done in those two days, and probably need to make another similar mini writing sabbatical soon.

That’s the fiction side of things. When it comes to nonfiction, I’m in my zone! I’m organized and write straight through until a blog post, paper, or book (OK, increments here) is finished. This makes sense, if you think about it. Nonfiction has a specific message that must be conveyed in a particular order. If you know your material (and/or work from a well-developed outline), you know what comes next. Fiction, on the other hand, is always a work in progress. It develops little by little, one character or scene at a time. Unless they’ve got an amazing imagination and a photographic memory, no fiction author knows every detail that’s going to unfold until they sit down to write.

I most definitely write on my laptop – a machine without which I cannot fathom getting any work done. How did we do it when we were strapped to a desk? When our phones had to plug into one wall and stay there? Without research of the world available at our fingertips via the Internet? Without the unobtrusive communication mechanism of email?

My hours are, without question, nocturnal. I’m not one of those who complains that a 7 a.m.

Night Owl Society

Night Owl Society

meeting is too early, but you won’t find me scheduling meetings at that hour. I’m usually sitting down, ready to work no earlier than 11 a.m. – but then, again, I’m awake and often working into the wee hours. There’s a fascinating piece on HuffPost about night owls – one characteristic of which tends to be creativity. It also mentions a guy who created a group called the Night Owl Society, which is dedicated to creative freelancers who are regularly up late.

I tend to prefer working to music. If it’s Pandora, it’s usually the U2 station or Celtic Radio. (Just an aside, I also have Chicago Radio on my playlist – but every time I listen to it, they play three Eagles songs for every song by Chicago. WTF?!) I have a graphic design colleague who says he can’t work with any music or noise at all because it’s too distracting. For intense editing or really focused writing, I would agree. Any work of graphical nature is only enhanced by music, in my opinion.

What about you? Do you have a special writing space, hour of the day, or ambiance enhancer that brings your muse to life? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Check back tomorrow when I’ll be discussing writers’ block.

And for the record, I’d love your feedback on my Author Blog Challenge posts! And, of course, would really love to have you support all of the bloggers in the Challenge. Find their links here.

Here’s to whatever it takes to let the words flow!

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________Anatomy of a Book Launch

If you’re getting ready to launch your book and would like help to put together a successful event, download my free special report: Anatomy of a Book Launch. Then CALL me at 602.518.5376 to schedule your complimentary 15-minute consultation. It’s never too early to begin planning!

__________________

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Does your writing influence your reading, or vice versa?

Today is Day 5 of the 5-Week Author Blog Challenge, for which all of my posts will be focused on writing, publishing, and book marketing. It’s interesting how my new book has influenced my reading, though I’m sure my reading has influenced the book, too! I hope you’ll stick around through all 35 posts. And if you want to take part, come on in – the water is great! You can register here.

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Day 5 writing prompt:

There’s a Stephen King quote that says: “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” How do the things you read impact your writing? What do you love to read? What do you avoid reading at all costs? How would your writing change if you read more of the things you typically avoid?

toilet reading

This picture used to be me, all the time. Now that reading is so readily available at every turn (Want to know when Nineteen Eighty-Four was released while on a cross-country driving trip? Check the Google!), I’m one of the few people I know who can walk out of the house without my smartphone and not drive 10 miles back to get it. I think all the social media and blogging distractions are doing a disservice to my reading actual books. I like ebooks well enough (I have a Kindle), but I generally skim them, as opposed to sitting down to read them. Which you would correctly deduce to mean that I don’t read a lot of fiction ebooks.

I enjoy fiction quite a bit (see yesterday’s post about some favorites), but over the years have been drawn more to nonfiction of all types. If it’s interesting and well written, I may give it a chance, even if I don’t finish the whole book. Like Bill Soroka (another ABC participant), I usually tend to have many books going at one time. But one always wins, and I wind up reading more of it and finishing it first. I keep books in the bathroom, on my night stand, in the car, in my handbag, near the couch, on my desk … almost anyplace I spend a concerted amount of time.

Right now, I’m reading How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes, The Sufi Book of Life, The Red Tent, and Broody New Englander, by fellow Phoenix author Ken Weene, among others.

I’m not much of a sci-fi or paranormal fan, and I steer well away from horror – same with the movies. I enjoy my tranquil existence and have no need to inject that kind of ick into it, even if it’s fictional ick. Guess I get enough of that following politics. That’s not to say I never read sci-fi or paranormal, on occasion. Sometimes a change from my own status quo is refreshing.

Stan and Isis in Liverpool

Stan and Isis in Liverpool

I’ve never been a big fan of travel writing, but now that I’m writing about a guy who travels around the world, I’m reading a lot of travel books and blogs. As with every genre, some are better (and more useful) than others. I would describe Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World as part travelogue, part social commentary, and part fiction.

I tend to avoid overly religious books and highly technical or scientific works. I think I’m getting better at reading outside my comfort zone, though. You never know where the next idea or tidbit to enhance a blog post, story, novel, or screenplay will come from. Not to mention that you cannot help but become a better writer by reading good writing across all genres. As I listen to a rap song (not my favorite genre) on a contemporary alternative radio station I happen to like quite a bit, I’m reminded that this must also be true of musicians, visual artists, chefs, and other artists of all stripes. Studying outside our niche arenas is important if we want to grow as artists, and doing so makes all of our work stronger.

Tune in tomorrow when I’ll be describing my writing process. Maybe I should come up with one by then! Kidding… I promise to impress you, even if it’s with smoke and mirrors.

And for the record, I’d love your feedback on my Author Blog Challenge posts! And, of course, would really love to have you support all of the bloggers in the Challenge. Find their links here.

Here’s to reading everything you can get your hands on!

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________Anatomy of a Book Launch

If you’re getting ready to launch your book and would like help to put together a successful event, download my free special report: Anatomy of a Book Launch. Then CALL me at 602.518.5376 to schedule your complimentary 15-minute consultation. It’s never too early to begin planning!

__________________

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Admiration for attention to detail: From Elvis to Sting

This is my fourth of 35 posts in the 5-Week Author Blog Challenge, all of them on the topic of writing, publishing, and book marketing. I went back and skimmed what I wrote in answer to a similar prompt for the 2012 Author Blog Challenge. As I imagined, my thoughts are in a different place today. I hope you’ll stick around through all 35 posts. And if you want to take part, come on in – the water is great! You can register here.

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Day 4 writing prompt:

Who are your writing role models? Whose writing has most influenced you? Who are your writing mentors?

One of my earliest assignments for a fiction class in college involved writing description. A fraternity guy named Hunter received a low grade for handing in his third paper about surfing. Blonde, tan, and good-looking in that frat guy/surfer way, all he could do was shake his head because he just couldn’t understand why the TA wanted him to stretch and write about something – anything – else. Another guy wrote in detail about a one-night stand. I still recall his depiction of noticing the girl’s underarm stubble as she slept the next morning. Interestingly, I don’t remember what I wrote about.

travelin' elvis

The paper I remember most, however, was by another coed, about my age. She wrote the most glorious description I had read to that point by anyone other than a seasoned author of classics about … the traveling Elvis museum. She detailed the steps up into the RV-cum-museum. She wove word pictures about the glass cases and the trinkets and memorabilia they contained. She described the kitschy gift shop with its gaudy gadgets and t-shirts and velvet paintings. And most memorable of all, she captured snapshots of the visitors – people of every age, ethnicity, and economic background. It seemed no one was immune to the draw of all things The King. I don’t have a clue what this gal’s name was, or what’s happened to her since. Only that she was 19 or 20, and I was 19 or 20, and in a million years, I don’t think I could ever master her gift for description.

Perhaps because my strength has always lain in nonfiction writing, the writers I admire most are those who write wonderful fiction. Sue Miller’s first book, The Good Mother, is still a favorite, as is Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth. Both of these authors are masters of details that bring fictional characters to life. Miller describes a harried woman cutting her leg shaving one rushed morning, while Follett notes how the townfolk crane their necks until they hurt, looking up at the stone masons at work on a grand cathedral. In Gold Coast, Nelson DeMille captures perfectly the slow shifts in his main character, John Sutter, a Wall Street attorney who finds himself defending a mafia don. And one image from the classics I will never forget is the turtle on its back, legs waving wildly in the air in Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath.

Fantastic writing is not solely the domain of fiction authors, however. Besides being an amazing lyricist, it turns out that Sting can also write quite beautiful prose. His memoir, Broken bubblesMusic, is one of the most gorgeously inspired books I’ve ever encountered. Another nonfiction book I’ve recommended often is From Beginning to End: The Rituals of Our Lives, by Robert Fulghum. This one challenges you to question conformity on all levels and may – at least subconsciously – have played a role in why I chose to wear a green gown for my St. Patrick’s Day wedding. Of course, there’s also the grab-you-by-the-throat-and-throw-you-against-a-wall motivation to be found in Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art. If procrastination, or its first cousin perfectionism, is hounding you, this book will help you turn the corner and leave it in the dust.

Lastly, in terms of inspiring authors, is a fellow I “met” during the 2012 Author Blog Challenge, Robert “Chazz” Chute. This guy is a writer! And an author! He’s prolific, talented, and so willing to share his knowledge. If you like mysteries and thrillers, read his books. If you want to learn how to write, design, market, and create a fan base, read his blog.

Well, this post kind of overlaps with tomorrow’s prompt … about what we both love and hate to read … but it also conveys my heartfelt gratitude and colossal admiration for the really great descriptive writers who can also challenge the hell out of me. Tune in tomorrow. I promise it will be at least mildly interesting…

And for the record, I’d love your feedback on my Author Blog Challenge posts! And, of course, would really love to have you support all of the bloggers in the Challenge. Find their links here.

Here’s to continuing to hone and improve your writing skills!

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________Anatomy of a Book Launch

If you’re getting ready to launch your book and would like help to put together a successful event, download my free special report: Anatomy of a Book Launch. Then CALL me at 602.518.5376 to schedule your complimentary 15-minute consultation. It’s never too early to begin planning!

__________________

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Best writing instruction? Write every day!

So we’re at Day 3 of the 5-Week Author Blog Challenge. Since I’m committed to writing every day, the least you can do is commit to reading every day, doncha think? OK, OK. No pressure. Read if it interests you; “like” it if you really like it; and “share” this post if you think other people will like it, too. This is the third of 35 consecutive days’ posts, all on the topic of writing, publishing, and book marketing. I hope you’ll stick around through all 35 posts. And if you want to take part, come on in – the water is great! You can register here.

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Day 3 writing prompt:

What kinds of classes, programs, or workshops have you taken to hone your skill as a writer? What sorts of exercises did/do you use to improve? Have you ever taught a writing class or workshop?

One might infer a certain arrogance from the fact that I’ve taken very few writing classes since majoring in Nonfiction Creative Writing in college. It’s less the fact that I think that I know it all than it is that I believe the best way to hone one’s skill as a writer is to write. Regularly. And I do a lot of writing.

bradbury for ABC

I was fortunate to hear Ray Bradbury speak to a packed auditorium at the University of Arizona, back in the late 80s. The one thing I still remember him saying – and something he repeated again and again throughout his life – is that a writer must write EVERY day.

Yes, there is definitely something to be said for getting technical training. I highly advise it. And I seek it, in small doses, through blogs and YouTubes created by other authors of varying skill and experience. That’s one place where I differ from many: I believe I can learn something from just about anyone, whether they’re a first-time novelist or a veteran, published author. It’s also why I love running the Phoenix Publishing & Book Promotion Meetup. I facilitate two meetings a month where I teach seminars on – well duh, right? – many aspects of publishing and book marketing. I teach the things I know and feel confident teaching, from book production to creating an author one sheet. But I bring in local experts to cover the things I don’t know as well: legal issues for writers, designing a website, video book trailers, ebook production, etc. Of most fun, though, is the spontaneous conversation that erupts wherein the authors share their various experiences.

What I don’t teach is writing. I’m not sure why, but I find teaching writing boring, so I don’t think I’m the person for the job. Not to mention that there are myriad other places an aspiring writer can go – from online courses to Meetups to critique groups to community colleges to writers’ conferences and workshops. Opportunities abound for writing instruction. One reason I think our Meetup does so well, however, is that there don’t seem to be too many people teaching self-publishing authors how to put together high-quality books and how to market those books to their ideal readers. That’s what we focus on, as well as networking and author opportunities.

Over the years, I have learned a few things from various teachers that have stuck with me:

  • One of my college professors abhorred the word lifestyle. “There’s no such thing as a ‘lifestyle,’” he used to rant. “It’s just LIFE!” You’ll probably never see the word lifestyle in my writing, other than this paragraph.
  • An early editor of my book, 1001 Real Life Questions for Women, insisted that on be used only for an object laying atop another object and, similarly, that over/under be used only with regard to spatial placement. So she corrected any instances of “over age 10” to “older than age 10.” Although our language has evolved to allow for these less precise uses of prepositions (how could it not, if nu-kyuh-ler is now an accepted pronunciation for nuclear?!), I nearly always correct these uses when I see them.

oxford comma

  • And the bedrock of grammar battles around the world: to use or omit the Oxford comma. At a business writing class I took in NYC, the instructor cured me of ever desiring to leave out the comma before and or but.

EXAMPLE: Chris, Dana, and Kelly can be either men’s or women’s names.

The instructor cited an example where Chris, Dana, and Kelly were siblings who inherited a large sum of money from a wealthy relative. However, the Oxford comma was omitted in the will, so they went to COURT over it, and the judge determined that Chris would inherit half of the money, while Dana and Kelly would split the other half. All because of one missing comma.

  • Most recently, I’ve learned – and am now trying to master – the concept of single-perspective narration. My novel, Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World, is told in alternating present and past-tense third person. One section is told from Stan’s present-tense perspective; the next is from Paula’s. The flashbacks work similarly. For consistency’s sake, however, when the story is told from Stan’s perspective, we can know what Stan’s thinking, but we cannot know what Paula is thinking. She must speak anything she thinks, or otherwise convey it through body language or some external means that Stan can infer and comment on or describe to us. Just as Stan can’t be in Paula’s head, neither can the reader who is reading a third-person description told from Stan’s perspective. I’m now in the process of re-reading the manuscript to make sure I observe this common-sense writing rule.

Interestingly, the more I write anything, the more I can see improvement in my fiction writing. One of the benefits of this Challenge is the chance to practice for 35 days in a row. If I keep writing, as planned, I hope you’ll keep reading! Tune in tomorrow when I’ll be discussing my writing mentors.

And for the record, I’d love your feedback on my Author Blog Challenge posts! And, of course, would really love to have you support all of the bloggers in the Challenge. Find their links here.

Here’s to continuing to hone and improve your writing skills!

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________Anatomy of a Book Launch

If you’re getting ready to launch your book and would like help to put together a successful event, download my free special report: Anatomy of a Book Launch. Then CALL me at 602.518.5376 to schedule your complimentary 15-minute consultation. It’s never too early to begin planning!

__________________

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Getting a late start at your writing career? Take heart!

Well, if you’ve been reading along for the last week or so, you’re aware that I’m hosting a new Author Blog Challenge. This is the second of 35 consecutive days’ posts, all on the topic of writing, publishing, and book marketing. I hope you’ll stick around through all 35 posts. And if you want to take part, come on in – the water is great! You can register here.

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Day 2 writing prompt:

When did you begin writing? Describe your earliest memory of writing. Are you formally trained, or did your writing begin as a hobby? How did your writing habit/process/career develop?

As one of the few people I know who is using my degree (BA in Creative Writing – Nonfiction from the University of Arizona), I am fortunate to have been making my living with words since 2002. My editing experience extends back quite some time before that, when I was the go-to wordsmith at a corporate job in NYC. Prior to that, I learned a lot by watching the pros at work in my part-time position as a researcher and v-e-r-y part-time features writer at the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson.

For many years, I hung on to the encouragement from Nancy Mairs, one of my college professors and a very accomplished author in her own right, who reassured me that some people just get a late start (her late start came at 27). Now that I’m nearing 50 and find myself still working on the novel I began 11 years ago, I’m more encouraged by this post I recently came across (and reposted) on Facebook:

going to be ok

Of course, I’m very grateful for the early start I got, writing my first report on the great white shark at the tender age of 7. That was back in the OLDEN days when I first had to learn to navigate a card catalogue at the public library. Thanks, Dad, for your patience and encouragement! Then, I co-wrote my first short story with my across-the-street neighbor, Steve. Something about a witch and a forest. I plagiarized that for a contest in third grade, for which I won a little set of note cards.

Writing – it’s always been easy for me. And mostly enjoyable. I’ve never related to quotes like the one from Hemingway: “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” This fiction stuff, though? It has not been my bailiwick – yet. I took some fiction classes for my degree, coaxing the wordsand at 19, my writing was clunky and utterly without lyricism. Thank goodness that I’ve managed to learn something over the last 25+ years, so that I can at least write believable dialogue and set a scene. As I believe is the case for many a writer, I’ve got more ideas than I have time. But I won’t let myself start a new story until I finish. The. One. I’m. Working. On.

Did I mention that it’s about a guy who travels around the world, learning to embrace life? He’s in Singapore right now. I know where he goes from there … just need to get him to the next place.

So tune in tomorrow when I’ll be discussing writing classes and the like…

And for the record, I’d love your feedback on my Author Blog Challenge posts! And, of course, would really love to have you support all of the bloggers in the Challenge. Find their links here.

Here’s to 40 more years of writing!

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________Anatomy of a Book Launch

If you’re getting ready to launch your book and would like help to put together a successful event, download my free special report: Anatomy of a Book Launch. Then CALL me at 602.518.5376 to schedule your complimentary 15-minute consultation. It’s never too early to begin planning!

__________________

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35 days … Will I finish my book or finish the Author Blog Challenge first?

Well, if you’ve been reading along for the last week or so, you’re aware that I’m launching a new Author Blog Challenge today. That makes this the first of 35 consecutive days’ posts, all on the topic of writing, publishing, and book marketing. I hope you’ll stick around through all 35 posts. And if you want to take part, come on in – the water is great! You can register here.

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Day 1 writing prompt:

What are your goals for the Author Blog Challenge? Do you want to introduce new readers to your writing? Increase traffic to your blog? Get in some extra writing practice? Share your very important message with the world? Use your first post to talk about why you joined the ABC, what your goals are, and what you hope to learn from the experience. In short, let your readers know that you’re participating in the ABC and why.

As the ringleader of this little adventure known as the 5-Week Author Blog Challenge, I find myself in the position of REALLY needing to meet the Challenge by 3d coverwriting posts to address all of the prompts that I created. Sometimes, this is an easy task. Other times, like when life or my business or my husband demand call for immediate attention, it’s not as easy to just bang out the posts.

I could have cheated – ahem, planned – and written ahead (everyone can see 5 days’ advance posts), but to me, that doesn’t seem to serve the spirit of the Challenge. It may yet happen, but not today!

This is the longest of the three Author Blog Challenges, beating the inaugural one in 2012 by seven days. I went back and borrowed a bunch of prompts from that challenge, and reviewed my posts in the process. Interesting how I’m pretty sure I’ll answer virtually none of the posts in the same way, which is good for Marcie’s SEO, and for her long-time readers.

These days, I’m pushing to finish my first novel, Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World, so all of my posts that are related to a specific book will be geared at that one. I’ve admittedly been working on it for a very long time, and it’s limping its way to completion. The good news is that I like the story – and my characters – more and more and more as I spend more and more and more time with them. Now, it’s time to finish things up so I can send them out into the world for the rest of you to meet!

So I hope you’ll stay with me for the next 34 days of this excursion into my personal thoughts about writing, publishing, and book marketing, as applied to my own books (rather than my clients’ books).

Would love any feedback! And, of course, would really love to have you support all of the bloggers in the Challenge. Find their links here. If you have time to read only one other post today, please check out Josh Hoyt’s blog!

Saddle up, ’cause here we go!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________Anatomy of a Book Launch

If you’re getting ready to launch your book and would like help to put together a successful event, download my free special report: Anatomy of a Book Launch. Then CALL me at 602.518.5376 to schedule your complimentary 15-minute consultation. It’s never too early to begin planning!

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SUNDAY INSPIRATIONS: I love the swirl and swing of words…

Sunday Inspirations. Send us your favorite quote, image, poem, idea … anything that has been helpful or inspirational to your writing process. If we love it, we may use it as is, or take the inspiration and modify it in some way. Give us a link to your website or blog and we’ll be sure to give you credit! Email inspiration@writemarketdesign.com or post your suggestion in the comment section below!

Here’s today’s inspiration: “I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.”

michener - swirl of words

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________Anatomy of a Book Launch

If you’re getting ready to launch your book and would like help to put together a successful event, download my free special report: Anatomy of a Book Launch. Then CALL me at 602.518.5376 to schedule your complimentary 15-minute consultation. It’s never too early to begin planning!

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Stumped for blog post topics? Author Blog Challenge to the rescue!

A little stumped for subjects for your blog posts? The Author Blog Challenge will help! We’re daily-writing-promptgetting ready to launch the third Author Blog Challenge tomorrow, Sept. 13. This one gets back to basics, with a focus on writing and publishing. Every day of this 5-week challenge (35 days), we’ll offer a writing prompt you can use for the day’s post – or you can write on the topic of your choice. The biggest caveat is that you must have your own blog on which to post!

Just to whet your appetite, here are the first four days’ prompts:

DAY 1
What are your goals for the Author Blog Challenge? Do you want to introduce new readers to your writing? Increase traffic to your blog? Get in some extra writing practice? Share your very important message with the world? Use your first post to talk about why you joined the ABC, what your goals are, and what you hope to learn from the experience. In short, let your readers know that you’re participating in the ABC and why.

DAY 2
When did you begin writing? Describe your earliest memory of writing. Are you formally trained, or did your writing begin as a hobby? How did your writing habit/process/career develop?

DAY 3
What kinds of classes, programs, or workshops have you taken to hone your skill as a writer? What sorts of exercises did/do you use to improve? Have you ever taught a writing class or workshop?

DAY 4
Who are your writing role models? Whose writing has most influenced you? Who are your writing mentors?

A blog challenge is a great chance to improve your writing, draw new readers (and subscribers) to your blog, expose your book/writing to potential new fans, demonstrate your expert status, and connect with other talented authors. Will it take some commitment? Of course! But anything worth doing takes commitment.

Everything is spelled out on the Author Blog Challenge site. Peruse the Guidelines­, Prompts­, Giveaways­, and posts­. Then REGISTER­ to take part!

Here’s to your BLOGGING success!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________COVER

Want to learn lots more about launching a successful media campaign to help you build your author platform? Book your complimentary 20-minute consultation (phone or Skype). Or get my comprehensive book, The Author’s Media Tool Kit today!

602.518.5376 or phxazlaura on Skype

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Smart marketing for a book about suicide prevention

No matter the topic of your book, you are probably looking to increase sales and readership. An email came across my desk 13 hours ago (making it late in the day on Wednesday, Sept. 10 for me in Phoenix) promoting a seriously themed book with a great marketing tie-in: A Different Kind of Same, published in June, is a memoir about a person who lost a loved one to suicide, and Sept. 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day.

different same

Here is the blurb from the SheWrites.com promotional email:

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. When you purchase a copy of A Different Kind of Same today, 30% of ALL proceeds will go directly to Alliance of Hope for Suicide Survivors, a non-profit organization that provides healing support for people coping with the shock, grief and complex emotions that accompany the loss of a loved one to suicide.

Please join us in supporting this important cause by purchasing A Different Kind of Same today!

Now, I am seeing this email too late to support this specific cause, but if I had an interest in the topic, I would still have bought the book. What’s more – I’m sharing it with you, because maybe you or someone you know do have an interest and can benefit from it.
Not to mention that the author made a few very smart marketing moves with it:
  • She is a perfect example of using a day/week/month theme as a jumping off point for a promotion.
  • She partnered with an organization to make a difference with her book.
  • She partnered with another organization with broad reach to help promote the special. She may have had to pay for that promotional email I read, but was it worth it? You bet it was!

It is not my intention to make light of this very serious topic. But even serious books need well-executed marketing plans. Best of luck to Kelley Clink, and to all who need her very important book.

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________COVER

Want to learn lots more about launching a successful media campaign to help you build your author platform? Book your complimentary 20-minute consultation (phone or Skype). Or get my comprehensive book, The Author’s Media Tool Kit today!

602.518.5376 or phxazlaura on Skype

__________________

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SUNDAY INSPIRATIONS: Books break the shackles of time…

Sunday Inspirations. Send us your favorite quote, image, poem, idea … anything that has been helpful or inspirational to your writing process. If we love it, we may use it as is, or take the inspiration and modify it in some way. Give us a link to your website or blog and we’ll be sure to give you credit! Email inspiration@writemarketdesign.com or post your suggestion in the comment section below!

Here’s today’s inspiration: “Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together
people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time ― proof that humans can work magic.”

Carl Sagan

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________Anatomy of a Book Launch

If you’re getting ready to launch your book and would like help to put together a successful event, download my free special report: Anatomy of a Book Launch. Then CALL me at 602.518.5376 to schedule your complimentary 15-minute consultation. It’s never too early to begin planning!

__________________

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