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Archive for the ‘2015 Author Blog Challenge’ Category

You can have results or excuses – not both!

THE. LAST. POST. Day 35 of the 5-Week Author Blog Challenge asks what I will do to keep up the momentum the Challenge has helped me create. All 35 posts for this Challenge were focused on writing, publishing, and book marketing. I hope you’ll go back and read some of the other 34 posts if you’re just happening on this one by happy accident.

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Day 35 writing prompt:

What are you going to do to keep the blogging momentum going? What plans do you have to continue your connection with other Author Blog Challenge participants and the new readers you’ve generated for your blog?

So, I’ll admit there are good things and bad things about a Challenge the forces you to write every day, like:

  • You’re writing every day.
  • Your writing improves when you write every day.
  • When you have prompts, it’s easier to write every day.

There are also frustrating things about a Challenge that forces you to write every day, like:

  • You have no excuse not to write, even if you don’t feel like it.results or excuses
  • It takes a lot of time, if you’re going to write thoughtful posts that other people will actually enjoy reading. They don’t have to be long, but they do have to be good. I’ve read some of the posts from my fellow Author Blog Challenge participants. As might be expected, they vary from outstanding to just-get-it-done in quality. But the good ones aren’t necessarily the longest ones.
  • In taking time to write thoughtful posts, I’m not spending as much time on my novel, which I am committed to finishing by the day before Thanksgiving. As the host, of course, my time commitment is greater than those who are simply participating.

But I liked being productive. I liked seeing my readership go up and getting feedback from readers. My blog’s not really about my novel, though, so I think it’s time to turn back to my primary focus: book marketing for self-publishing authors. I certainly tried to make most of my Blog Challenge posts about my own experience useful to the readers … but sometimes you have to read all the way to the end to get to the “useful part.”

To that end, I will issue myself a new personal challenge: To write 3 content posts per week, along with my regular Sunday Inspirations. And to finish my novel by November 25th. I will also post every blog post on the ABC Facebook page – and encourage all the other participants to do the same!

What are YOUR publishing goals? What are you doing to get them done? A friend of mine started a FB group 100 dayswhere a group of motivated people are getting together to cheer each other on for the last 100 days of the year. We’re posting our business goals, personal goals, and the steps we’re taking to get there. Today it’s 76 days until the end of the year. Are you speeding or coasting to the finish line?

So there it is: 35 days of blog posts in a row – with a few bonuses thrown in. Thank you for reading, whether you’re just reading this post or have been with me all the way through! Whatever else you do, keep writing!

We’ll do another Challenge, maybe six months or a year from now. Stick around. Details will arrive in your inbox if you’re a subscriber. Maybe next time you’ll join as a participant!

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.

To a YOUR writing and publishing success!

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________SM for authors COVER

If you’re new to social media, my book Social Media for Authors goes into much greater detail about when, how, and where to post for the greatest chances at succeeding with your specific goals. Get your copy today! It’s never too early to begin planning!

__________________

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A recommitment to finishing!

The penultimate post… Day 34 of the 5-Week Author Blog Challenge asks what I liked and would do differently with the Author Blog Challenge. 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 34 writing prompt:

What has been the best part of participating in the Author Blog Challenge? What are your suggestions for improving the next Author Blog Challenge?

Far and away, I have loved participating in this Challenge more than either of the previous two – even when I felt the cold sweat on my neck as one day wooshed into another without a post, so many in a row that I found myself 8 days behind! Given that I am the creator and host of this Challenge, it just wouldn’t do for me to cop out and bring in anything less than all 35 posts before the 11:59:59 p.m. PDT deadline on Saturday, October 17th. God willing, since this is my penultimate post, I will be able to do that.

Two of the biggest benefits for me were the impetus to write every day – or make up for it when I didn’t bradbury for ABC2and the ability to make the publication of my novel more real to me. Thank you, Ray Bradbury! That’s such important advice that every writer would do well to try to follow.

As you know by now – if you’ve been reading these posts with any regularity at all – I’ve been working on this novel for a Long. Damned. Time. And I suppose life really did get in the way in a couple instances. But mostly, it’s been me sabotaging my own efforts and success. I’ve got a great support team, excellent editor standing by at the ready, and marketing plans that will ROCK! So now that the Challenge is over and I will have time for my other writing, I can fulfill the promise I know “Stan” holds.

90 percent down the pathYep – it’s intimidating to walk into a bookstore and see all the bright, shiny competing titles. It’s intimidating to be in the company of such great authors as the other participants in this Challenge and the members of the Phoenix Publishing & Book Promotion Meetup. It’s intimidating to see a news report about a local historical author earning in the six figures. But I know I’m a decent writer. I’ve spent a long time on “Stan” thus far and will follow this project through the final 10 percent to completion. This Challenge helped me recommit, find an editor, and figure out how to pitch the book (part travelogue, part social commentary, part fiction).

Things I’d do differently next time? Monetize it so that I can get help to run it. Really – it’s a LOT of work and I didn’t do all I wanted to, simply because family time commitments continued to drag me away. Life, I believe they call that.

So … we’ll do another Challenge, maybe six months or a year from now. Stick around. Details will arrive in your inbox if you’re a subscriber. Maybe next time you’ll join as a participant!

Please make sure to check in again tomorrow for the final post of the Challenge, when I will tell you what I plan to do to keep the momentum going.

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.

To a very successful Author Blog Challenge!

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________SM for authors COVER

If you’re new to social media, my book Social Media for Authors goes into much greater detail about when, how, and where to post for the greatest chances at succeeding with your specific goals. Get your copy today! It’s never too early to begin planning!

__________________

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Don’t let lack thinking kill your creativity!

Just two more posts to go… Day 33 of the 5-Week Author Blog Challenge asks about my next book project. 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 33 writing prompt:

What is/will be the subject of your next book?

Ever get the feeling you have more ideas than you have time? That’s the way it is with me and story ideas. Now that I’ve just about completed my first novel, the fiction bug has bitten and I want to do more of it. There will be no sequel to “Stan” – it’s an entire story unto itself that requires no further editions. I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m not much of a series girl – never liked reading them, so I cannot even conceive of writing them.

That said, I do have plenty of new ideas constantly percolating. As I sit down to tell you what they are, a little gremlin warns me about sharing my ideas because someone might steal them. Oh, yeah? Let them! Steal away! You write your version, and I’ll write mine. They’ll be so different, they won’t even be recognizable as derived from the same plotline.

lack mentality

  • Having belonged to specific clubs and networking groups and seen the flirting that goes on between members at times, I cannot help but think it must, in some cases, lead to affairs. One group that helps individuals improve their public speaking comes specifically to mind, as the nature of the organization and its meetings invites a certain level of intimacy, weekly connections, extracurricular engagement at lunch (at least our club went to lunch together regularly), and bonding time that is unique, even to most office scenarios. So … what if … a woman found out her husband was leaving her for someone he met at this group? Devastated, she is commiserating to her hairdresser and learns that two other women who patronize the same salon are in the exact same situation!
  • A love story between a woman reporter who goes undercover to live with the homeless population finding shelter in the tunnels under a city like Las Vegas or Kansas City and the man who tries to help her. She becomes so invested in the story and reporting the plight of these people that she has a psychotic break and is unable to come back to “regular” life.
  • A modern-day, feminist version of Snow White and/or Cinderella.
  • A story about a boy who has a traumatic brain injury while surfing that allows him to communicate with animals. A little Dr. Doolittle and a little Bill & Ted, with the added element of the discovery of a sordid animal experimentation scheme.

It would seem that while each of these would require a certain amount of research, none would be as involved as my initial fiction project! With “Stan,” it was most certainly baptism by fire.

And I was sooooo tempted to jump into the 3-Day Novel contest again this year – but I forced myself to stay the course. Finish Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World before I start another novel. Any other novel. Of course, I’ve never done NaNoWriMo – and that’s just around the corner… so who knows?

That’s just the fiction side, though. In the coming weeks on the nonfiction side are:

  • 138 Tips to Help You Blog Like a Pro (eBook)
  • REVIEWS: Where and How to Get Your (Self-Published) Book Reviewed (ebook)
  • WRITERS: A Little Book of Inspiration (paperback)

Drop a note to reserve your copy of any of the three above-mentioned titles!

Please make sure to check in again tomorrow, when I will offer my thoughts about this blog challenge experience.

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.

What are YOU writing next?

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________SM for authors COVER

If you’re new to social media, my book Social Media for Authors goes into much greater detail about when, how, and where to post for the greatest chances at succeeding with your specific goals. Get your copy today! It’s never too early to begin planning!

__________________

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Thank you, to you and you and you

We’re winding down here… Day 32 of the 5-Week Author Blog Challenge suggests we give some shout-outs. 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 32 writing prompt:

Time for some shout-outs. This may mimic your acknowledgement page, but whom would you like to publicly thank for their help in creating your book or completing it to the point where it is presently?

thank-you

I’ve not yet written the Acknowledgments page for “Stan,” but it will probably look a lot like this:

Stan probably wouldn’t have come into existence if it weren’t for my wonderful friend, Tim, on whom the character is very loosely based. We’ve lost touch over the last decade, but I know he’s still out there, and he comes to mind every now and again. As I mentioned in the prior post about having coffee with my favorite character, I would initially think of Tim when I pictured Stan – but that soon shifted, and Stan became his own person. A real person, to me, which I would venture to say is true for any novelist worth his/her salt. So, to Tim I say, “Thank you. For your kindness and amazing friendship. And for sparking a journey that would not have happened without you.”

Next up, I must thank the small group of writers in my very short-lived writers’ group. The writers themselves didn’t do anything in particular, but “Early one morning…” was one of the prompts we used, and it led to the first four paragraphs of Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World.

Then, there’s the gang over at the 3-Day Novel Contest. It was over Labor Day weekend 2004 that Stan came to life. Yes, still working on it, but inching closer daily. Specifically, I thank whichever judge took the time to pen a handwritten note on the form rejection letter, which read: “‘Stan’ made it pretty far into the process. Good dialogue, good flow, good job!”

Of course, the shout-outs would be incomplete without thank you’s to all the people who gave me context, ideas, and insider info from which to write: Jane, Jacie, Nick F. and everyone else from my Lehman Brothers days, Samantha, Lisa, Sunil, Joey, Jeni, Arthur, and anyone else I might have inadvertently overlooked.

Next, I have to thank my sister and my friend Carol for their early strong encouragement. Right behind them are my great friends from a now defunct ABWA group. In particular, I thank Janet, the world traveler, who continues to cheer me on. She read an early copy of Stan and said, “It read like a mystery. Kept me interested to the end!” In fact, many of my world-traveler friends (Barbara, Ellyn, Helen, etc.) have given me hope that I’ve written well about places I’ve not yet visited.

Thank you to all the members of the Phoenix Publishing & Book Promotion Meetup who keep showing up and making progress on their own books. Your successes, small and large, continue to encourage me.

Thanks to my dad, who always believed in my language skills, and Sister Laurian for being one of my very first encouragers. Thanks to my mom for all the creative genius she sent my way. And thank you to my amazing husband, John, who continues to support and encourage whatever new crazy idea I come up with next. The ride wouldn’t be worth taking without you, babe!

Please make sure to check in again tomorrow, when I will offer be tossing out teasers on the ideas that might turn into my next novel.

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.

Who do YOU need to thank today?

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________SM for authors COVER

If you’re new to social media, my book Social Media for Authors goes into much greater detail about when, how, and where to post for the greatest chances at succeeding with your specific goals. Get your copy today! It’s never too early to begin planning!

__________________

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Get out of your own way and Do. It. Now.

Day 31 of the 5-Week Author Blog Challenge asks about advice, giving and receiving. 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 31 writing prompt:

What is the single best piece of advice you’ve ever received about the publishing process and/or what advice would you offer to a first-time author?

I’ve received so much advice over the years, it’s difficult to narrow it down to just one thing. I supposed Ray Bradbury’s constant mantra of “Writers write every day” is pretty important, even though I haven’t always lived up to that standard.

fail if stop writing

I think just about everything in Steven Pressfield’s amazing book, The War of Art, is impactful. Just get out of your own way. Perfectionism is the surest road to insanity and never finishing your book.

My advice to first-time authors is always the same: the physical making of the book is easy. Editing, book design, even marketing are not rocket science and are things for which you can generally hire, even on a meager budget. The Web – this blog ­– contains more marketing ideas than you could accomplish if you worked on it full-time. Sure, you’ve got to make a plan – a cohesive plan that you stick to and the steps of which you take toward your goal. The best-knit plan in the world won’t benefit you in the least if it doesn’t get used. But the one thing you cannot hire out – the one thing only YOU can bring to the table – is the story or message that you want to share with the world. No one else can give you a story or message. You, alone, have to figure out how to get it on paper.

There are many methods by which to do this:fear-has-a-job

  • Dictate your story and have the recordings transcribed.
  • Use mind-mapping to plot your story or chapters.
  • Write it on sticky notes and napkins and hand the whole bloody mess over to a ghost writer.
  • Write one looooonnnnnnggggg paragraph and hire an editor who can make it into a book.
  • Write bullet points and find someone to help you flesh them out.
  • Turn your blog posts into a book.
  • Turn the notes from your speeches and presentations into a book.
  • Record every meeting you have with clients and use the conversations as an idea-generator.

You get the idea!

Just get started. Write. Write every day. Write even if you don’t think it’s any good. Write without filtering, just to get your ideas down. Stop waiting; start writing. That’s it – best advice I could offer you. Do. It. Now.

Please make sure to check in again tomorrow, when I will be sending out some well-deserved “thank you’s”.

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 just getting started!

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________SM for authors COVER

If you’re new to social media, my book Social Media for Authors goes into much greater detail about when, how, and where to post for the greatest chances at succeeding with your specific goals. Get your copy today! It’s never too early to begin planning!

__________________

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Id have to go back in time to cast “Stan” as a film

Day 30 of the 5-Week Author Blog Challenge grants me the fantasy of making my book into a film. 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 29 writing prompt:

If a Hollywood agent were to come knocking on your door with an offer to turn your book into a movie and told you that you could call all the shots, who would you have direct and star in it? Write the first paragraph of a glowing Rotten Tomatoes review of your film.

OK – this feels a little like putting the cart before the horse, but since I’m all in for this Challenge (who came up with these prompts anyway?!), I’ll play along. Casting for the three main characters – Stan, Paula, and Gretchen – is easy. Again, since this is my fantasy, my rules. So I would just lift the cast of Definitely, Maybe, as they were when it was released in 2008, and insert them here for the film version of Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World (sans the Rachel Weisz and the precocious child character). Ryan Reynolds would be Stan, Isla Fisher his best friend/love interest, and Elizabeth Banks would play the vain, egocentric Gretchen. Throw in Justin Long as Jack – the friend from grad school days and Frances McDormand as Stan’s mom, and we have a pretty good cast. I’m really not sure who I’d want to cast as Stan’s younger, developmentally disabled sister, Kerrie. It’s a small but important role that would have to go to someone willing to be unglamorous for a role, so maybe Emma Watson?

Cast of characters

Because this isn’t a chick flick, I’d want a tight writer who could invigorate the plot with a bit of drama. I’m not sure it’s her style, but Shonda Rhimes definitely comes to mind. And since I’ve limitless budget and a time machine, I’d also consider the ghost of John Hughes as cowriter.

The director role is a bit tougher. People I’d consider: Gus Van Sant, of Good Will Hunting and Milk fame; Stephen Frears, who directed High Fidelity and The Queen; and Gurinder Chadha, director of Bend It Like Beckham. But my number one choice would be Ben Affleck, who – say what you will about his acting and his personal life – has done a remarkable job with the two major films he’s directed thus far (Argo and The Town).

What does this exercise accomplish? I think that in order to see your book acted out as a film, it has to be succinct, action oriented, and plot driven. If nothing happens in your book, not much is going to happen in the film version, right? The good news is that I can see Stan making his way around the world. Sure, the movie version would highlight a half-dozen countries, as opposed to the 23 he visits in the book. But the more important backflashes would be there – as well as the ancillary characters who offer Stan some of the many lessons he learns as he finds himself.

Yep – it’s a book I would read and a movie I would watch!

Please make sure to check in again tomorrow, when I will discuss the best advice I’ve ever received to advance my writing career.

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 seeing YOUR book become a film!

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________SM for authors COVER

If you’re new to social media, my book Social Media for Authors goes into much greater detail about when, how, and where to post for the greatest chances at succeeding with your specific goals. Get your copy today! It’s never too early to begin planning!

__________________

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Travel partners abound for “Stan”

Day 29 of the 5-Week Author Blog Challenge asks who the perfect partner would be to help me market my novel. 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 29 writing prompt:

Who would be the perfect person/company to partner with to sell your book? It might be another author, a performer, a shop owner, a seminar facilitator, a teacher, etc. Pretty much, the answer to this question is limited only by your imagination. How will you reach out to that person/company? What’s the hook for your pitch?

Such an interesting question – and so very many ideas that come up, as a result! I think the number one partner for me would be a travel website like TripAdvisor.com – especially because I mention the site by name in the text. If movies can do product placement, why can’t a novel? Right now, the site is only mentioned once, but I think I’d be willing to have Stan stumble his fingers across the site more often in exchange for some good quid pro quo!

tripadvisor

Travel agents would also be potentially great partners, as would the aforementioned travel clubs and Meetups.

travel shop

Kitschy shops that sell maps, globes, and travel accessories would be a perfect fit. Alas, one of the coolest, the ADC Map and Travel Center in Washington, D.C., has shuttered its doors permanently. Specialty shops from each of the countries – or ones like Yucatecan Imports in Tempe, Ariz., that sell goods from all corners of the globe – might also be worth a phone call or a visit.

Yucatecan Imports

While I suppose not every traveler is a reader, travel does provide ample opportunity for reading … so a novel about travel is a great fit and certainly one of my hooks.

It’s time to hit the LinkedIn and see who in my circle knows someone who might hook me up with the perfect connections…

What about you? Who are your perfect partners? Chances are plenty of them, if you just put on your SBM* hat and let the ideas percolate awhile…

Please make sure to check in again tomorrow, when I’ll be casting the Hollywood version of #StanTravels!

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 meeting all kinds of wonderful characters in your waking life!

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________SM for authors COVER

If you’re new to social media, my book Social Media for Authors goes into much greater detail about when, how, and where to post for the greatest chances at succeeding with your specific goals. Get your copy today! It’s never too early to begin planning!

__________________

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