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Posts Tagged ‘#StanTravels’

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

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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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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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A Dog by Any Other Name

In my last post, I mentioned the idea of reading one’s work out loud at an open-mic 3d coverstyle event. I recently read the first chapter of my novel – still in the works after nearly 11 years – aloud at a reading event hosted by the Arizona Authors Association. Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World is about a guy who packs up his dog, his car, and too many belongings to set off on a trip around the world. It depicts the life of a Wall Street investment banker and his female friend, a New York City artist, and also deals with social issues like homelessness and international poverty.

This was the first time I’d ever read it out loud, and boy was it a stumblefest! I highly recommend the process to every writer, whether you will ever actually schedule a formal reading of your book or not – because in the process of reading aloud, you catch things you just don’t see or hear when you’re reading to yourself.

One audience member at the reading asked a question I’d never even considered.

Stan and Isis in Bangor, Maine

Stan and Isis in Bangor, Maine

“Did you write this before all the stuff started up in the Middle East? Because I couldn’t really get past it as I was listening to you read.” Stan, the main character, has a Jack Russell terrier by the name of Isis. Yep – same name as the Egyptian goddess AND the jihadist/terror group. There’s a whole segment in the novel about how the little dog got her name – and even though I’ve done a considerable amount of work on the book in the last year, I never gave even one thought to the fact that the dog’s name is the same as a group of terrorist radicals. The book is set in the very recent past – beginning in the spring of 2011 and ending in the fall of 2012 – before ISIS had become a household word. So mentioning the shared name in the text of the book would be anachronistic.

As far as I understand it, the idea of giving a reading such as the one in which I participated is to elicit constructive feedback from the audience. While Toastmasters has a built-in mechanism for delivering and receiving such feedback, audience members at this reading event were much more forgiving – most of them heaping praise, even on (in my opinion) undeserving work. I was the only reader who received any negative feedback at all – and it wasn’t so much intended as negative as it was one woman simply raising an issue I had not considered. Another woman in the audience commented that she’d not thought about ISIS, the terror group, at all – she had gone immediately to picturing Isis, the Egyptian goddess.

Nevertheless, this one woman’s question and strong, visceral reaction have caused me to question whether I should change the dog’s name or leave it as it is. At present, I am leaning very much toward leaving Isis’ name as it is. If you have any sort of feedback on this issue, I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.

Controversy can sell … so maybe the question has already answered itself. In the meantime, the marketing ideas continue to percolate. Blog posts upcoming, contests unfurling, crowdfunding unfolding. And, of course, social media strategies applied to all.

 rose by any other name

Here’s to naming your characters well!

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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A variety of GORGEOUS handmade books

One of the most popular posts we ever wrote was about how to create a zine – an 8-page booklet created out of a single letter-size sheet of paper. They are certainly fun to make, and quite easy. And they are a simplistic version of a handmade book.500 Handmade Books volume 2

The images below come from a book by Lark Crafts that contains creative, sophisticated, intricate, and interesting handmade books of all shapes and sizes. The books, juried by Julie Chen, are among the 500 books in the aptly titled 500 Handmade Books, Volume 2.

This is the description of 500 Handmade Books, Volume 1, from the Lark website:

Interest in bookbinding and the related arts has exploded in the past decade, inspiring artists to explore the unlimited possibilities of the form – and delighting collectors, crafters, and gallery owners. [T]his collection is a provocative on-the-page-gallery of show-stopping artistry from finely tooled leather covers to books with mysterious accordion folds.

I’m thinking I want to try one or two of these – particularly the ones that lend themselves to the use of postcards – as collector book perks for my forthcoming PubSlush campaign for Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World.

I love the multimedia aspect of these books, the dimensionality, the texture, the colors. OK – I’m not a big fan of smoking, but the concept is clever. And the love interest in Stan is an artist, so I love the watercolor tray idea!

I hope you enjoy these as much as I did. And keep in  mind, this is just a taste of the 15 I really liked. there are 485 others in this book, and 500 more in the first book, so check them out!

p. 18

p. 18

500 Handmade Books volume 2

p. 79

500 Handmade Books volume 2

p. 88

500 Handmade Books volume 2

p. 137

500 Handmade Books volume 2

p. 156

500 Handmade Books volume 2

p. 173

500 Handmade Books volume 2

p. 219

500 Handmade Books, volume 2

p. 223

500 Handmade Books, volume 2

p. 237

500 Handmade Books, volume 2

p. 240

500 Handmade Books, volume 2

p. 245

500 Handmade Books, volume 2

p. 268

500 Handmade Books, volume 2

p. 373

500 Handmade Books, volume 2

p. 67

 

 

500 Handmade Books, volume 2

p. 55

 

If you have handmade books you’d like to share, please put the links in the comments below.

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below."Practical Philanthropy" book cover

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Check out Laura’s newest book, Practical Philanthropy: How ‘Giving Back’ Helps You, Your Business, and the World Around You. A percentage of all book sales is donated to Art4TheHomeless.org and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

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january tip of day

January 24 Book Marketing Tip: Togather.com can boost your book tour

What author hasn’t been in Andrew Kessler’s shoes? Author of a book called Martian Summer (Pegasus Books) about the 90 days he spent in NASA’s mission control center for a Mars exploration project, Kessler heard it all when it came to the value of book tours. “Publishing people told me, ‘yes, events are the best way to sell books’ and then ‘don’t do events because they’ll be a disaster,’” said Kessler in a post by Jeremy Greenfield for DigitalBookWorld.com.

In an effort to generate interest in his book, Kessler helped his publisher manufacture roughly 1,000 articles about his book launch. While those articles didn’t lead directly to sales, Kessler said they did lead to speaking events, which led to sales. So Kessler derived that a book tour would be his ticket to sales.

Publishing insiders warned him, however, that his book tour would be a disaster. “And it was,” he says in Greenberg’s post. “I would get there and there would be three people in the audience.”

togather

That’s when Kessler came up with the idea for Togather.com. It’s a platform designed to allow an author – or any interested party – to propose or create an author event, while giving authors and publicists the ability to guarantee the success of the event on their terms or cancel it altogether.

I haven’t used the platform – but it looks exciting!

From the Togather.com website:

We offer tools to make event marketing easy.
Our all-in-one platform makes it easy to create hundreds of events
and attract the right audience.

I guarantee I’ll be checking it out for the upcoming launch of Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World.

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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Want a professional book cover that doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg? Visit our website to Template 5peruse our selection of 25 book cover templates, and download our complimentary special report, “Book Elements:

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