Yes, the Writing Matters

I read a blog post from an influencer in the indie industry today. He said the writing doesn’t matter. Well…not so much anyway. Really what’s important is to give the readers what they know. It’s content over form. (That pesky craft stuff is not really necessary, although watch the typos because that really irritates people.)

He then went on to explain that as long as you put in the expected tropes and clichés (with your own special twists of course) then that’s when people will want to read what you write.

(Which perhaps explains why there is so much bad fiction out there, I suppose.)

But here’s the question:

If the writing doesn’t matter then why call ourselves writers? Why don’t we call ourselves trope-ists or cliché’ists or trend-ists?

If we don’t need to care about word choice, or flow or character development or any of that bothersome ‘craft’ stuff. If the form doesn’t really matter.

If a book dashed off in a month is as good as a book written with care, then edited and revised and polished, then why are we putting in all that effort? Why are we torturing ourselves? Clearly it’s more important that we start selling our stuff. Clearly what’s important is us. And selling our crap.

Because if the writing doesn’t really matter then the reader doesn’t really matter either, right? Unless they buy our crap.

If anybody can be an author and anybody is good enough to be an author (as long as they stay on the trope train) then being a writer doesn’t mean much does it? If writing a book is no big deal, because everybody is doing it and can do it, then why should anyone care?

And if words and the craft of words (a.k.a. communication) don’t matter to writers then who will they matter to? If language and communication isn’t important to us as creators, where are we headed? Where is society headed?

It matters…yes, it does…

YES, the writing does matter.

Because the reader matters.

Because your writing isn’t all about you. It shouldn’t be anyway.

It’s all about the reader. It should be anyway.

Shouldn’t it?

I think so.

What do you think?

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Wednesday is a Good Day for a Freebie

Happy Wednesday to you and I hope your day is going great. We’ve got lots of blue sky and sunshine out here in California and my tomato plants are loving it.

Just wanted to write a quick post to announce that the Scotti Fitzgerald books are all now available in print. I know, it took a while but I finally made it happen. You’ve no idea how complex setting up a print book can be. At least, I had no idea. Lots of trial and error because you know…math…

Anyway…to celebrate Scotti’s premiere in print I am giving the eBook versions of all THREE books in the series away for FREE today and today and Thursday (May 9th & May 10th).

On Friday all the books will go to 99 cents each and remain at that price through the weekend.

Then Monday, we’re back to business as usual.

If you haven’t read the books, now is your chance to grab the whole series for free. Or if you’ve only read Coffee & Crime, you can pick up the next two books for free.

If you do and you like them – I’d be Thrilled if you’d write a review on Amazon or Good Reads. But no pressure. I know you’re busy.

To pick up your free copy of Coffee & Crime click here

To pick up your free copy of Murder Ready 2 Eat click here

To pick up your free copy of Death of the Family Recipe click here

If you live outside the U.S. you can go to my BOOK PAGE and find the appropriate link for your area.

Otay announcement over, you may now return to your day – hope it’s a great one!

Cheers,

Annie

PS: If you don’t own a Kindle but would still like eBook copies of the books, just CONTACT ME and I will send you the ePub versions personally.

 

 

Author Spotlight on Fantasy Author Kate Murdoch

Is the ability to read minds a blessing or a curse? 

When Antonius’s father dies, he must work to support his family. He finds employment as a servant in the Palazzo Ducal, home of Conte Valperga. Sixteenth-century Pesaro is a society governed by status, and Antonius has limited opportunities.When a competition is announced, Antonius seizes his chance. The winner will be apprenticed to the town seer. Antonius shares first place with his employer’s son.The two men compete for their mentor’s approval. As their knowledge of magic and alchemy grows, so does the rivalry and animosity between them. When the love of a beautiful woman is at stake, Antonius must find a way to follow his heart and navigate his future. The Stone Circle is available at Amazon

 

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Becoming a Published Author

  1. Your life changes in a multitude of ways. First of all, you have a ‘voice’, on social media, in interviews and posts. This is important, because whatever you say remains in the ether forever and tells the world about the kind of person you are.
  2. Unlimited hours just to write seem like a distant dream. From the aforementioned social media and other promotion, to trying to line up author events, your time is corralled, parcelled and divided.
  3. You make lots of new friends, both online and in real life. All of a sudden your world becomes full of unlimited possibility. It’s exciting and rewarding. To connect with other authors at a similar stage and further ahead is both enjoyable and necessary.
  4. You’re forced to abandon parts of your life that are superfluous or draining—there’s just not time and you’re stretched mentally and emotionally.
  5. Life feels full to the brim, which takes some adjustment, but is ultimately positive.
  6. You feel strangely exposed after having put so much on the line, professionally and personally. I recently had a dream that I did an acrobatic show on a suspended swing, naked in a body stocking. I think this says it all.
  7. You’re excited about the next phase—next book, current project, whatever life is going to throw at you. You feel at once vulnerable and strong.
  8. Post launch, your family may resent all the attention the book has taken from them and may not want to hear anything about your writing for a while.
  9. At some stage, someone will approach you in person and tell you how much they loved your book. Their face will glow with enthusiasm. In this moment, all the years of struggle and hard work will feel worth it. You’ll feel (almost) ready to go through it again with the next book.
  10. You’ll realise that achieving a long-held dream, whilst satisfying, isn’t something that makes your life perfect. The heavens don’t open, ethereal harp music doesn’t start playing, and you still have to make the school lunches and put on endless loads of washing. You need to attend to things that were neglected whilst you were trying to birth a novel and come back to reality. At the same time, there’s much to be relished in the new identity.

Kate Murdoch is the author of Stone Circle. She exhibited widely as a painter both in Australia and internationally before turning her hand to writing. In between writing historical fiction, she enjoys writing short stories and flash fiction.

Her short-form fiction has been published in various literary journals in Australia, UK, US and Canada.

Stone Circle is a historical fantasy novel set in Renaissance Italy. It was released by Fireship Press December 1st 2017.

Her novel, The Orange Grove, about the passions and intrigues of court mistresses in 18th century France, will be published by Regal House Publishing in 2019.

To learn more about Kate you can visit her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

Quick Book Tag

 

I saw this over at Loraine Ambers’ lovely blog and it looked like fun…

Quick Book Tag

E-Book or Physical Book?

I like both. It depends on what I’m reading and my mood. I have been reading a lot more on my Kindle lately but I may dig into that stack on my night stand soon.

Paperback or Hardback?

Hardbacks – I love the larger size and print and they smell more like books, if that makes sense?

Online or In-Store Book Shopping?

In-Store. I’m not much of a Barnes and Noble shopper but I love indie bookshops and used bookstores. My local library has one and I can spend hours in there, browsing. And it’s tiny!

Trilogies or Series?

Either one works if the story is enticing. Although, if I fall in love with the characters I will be sad if more books don’t follow.

Heroes or Villains?

Both – any fully formed character is a pleasure to love or hate. Though in either case, I really prefer a flawed hero or villian to the perfect ones who can jump from tall buildings in a single leap, fight off battalions of bad guys with one hand tied behind their back, and make the perfect martini. Good guy or bad guy, give me someone I can relate to and you’ll have me forever as a reader.

A book you want everyone to read?

Anything by Diane Dickson – her writing is a feast for the eyes.

Recommend an underrated book?

Scarpetta’s Winter Table, by Patricia Cornwell. It’s somewhat obscure and very short (relative to her other novels). But it gives you interesting insights into the characters of the Scarpetta series. If you’re a Scarpetta fan, see if you can find a copy and read it.

The last book you bought?

Twist of Truth by Diane Dickson. I’m addicted to her books.

Weirdest thing you’ve used as a bookmark?

Like most readers I usually use whatever is within reach but the weirdest thing was probably a sock.

Used Books: Yes or No?

Of course, otherwise what would used bookstores sell? Nothing like a brand new, hot off the press new book but there is something about a used book that appeals to me – the passing on from one reader to the next – it’s almost as though you can feel the love/excitement/fear/interest that each reader experienced while reading the book and it makes it seem alive. (Is that too weird a revelation? Even for a writer?)

Top three favorite genres?

Mysteries, Thrillers, and Suspense. Yes, I know Amazon considers them one genre but they are not. I also enjoy retro sci-fi (Asimov, Heinlein) and psychological horror (think Twilight Zone not the Chain Saw Massacre), and occasionally a good literary novel but anything with mystery or suspense intrigues me.

Borrow or Buy?

Both. When the budget is tight, I turn to BookBub or the library.

Characters or Plot?

Hands down, characters. I don’t think a book can be good if the characters don’t draw you in and make you care about them.

Long or Short Books?

As long as it’s good, length is not a consideration. Although books topping out at 500 pages is probably my max. I’ve read recently that readers are moving toward shorter books these days. Personally, I’m always sad when a good book ends.

Long or Short Chapters?

Short chapters. It makes me feel more connected to the action in the story.

Name the first three books you can think of

Bone Baby, Lightning, Frankenstein

Books that make you laugh or cry?

Either. But more to the point, books that make me feel, I need an emotional connection to books I read or I’ll end up not finishing them.

Our World or Fictional Worlds?

Fictional worlds always seem like more fun – lots of adventure and less risk.

Audio books: Yes or No?

Audio books are okay. I listened to a lot of them when I was commuting on a day job. Although, I don’t think you get the same satisfaction from them. Especially since you’re usually multi-tasking while listening. I think you also miss nuance in a story you listen to rather than read. The exception I suppose would be if you were listening one hundred percent and doing nothing else. Still, if the narrator doesn’t match the voice in your head it could ruin the experience for you.

Do you ever judge a book by its cover?

If the cover is really awful or really amazing, yes, probably. Generally though, covers don’t influence me as much as it seems they do others.

A Movie or TV-Show You Preferred to its Book?

Perhaps the Handmaid’s Tale. But not really. Generally, I find the book to be better than the film version. They are doing a decent job of the Bosch series from Michael Connelly’s books but I had to get used to the actor they selected for the lead because he was nothing at all like I’d imagined Bosch.

Series or Stand-alones?

Either. Though I LOVE to find a new series to get my hooks into. You always get so excited when a new book in the series comes out, like you get to visit with an old friend. Wow, this question makes me miss Sue Grafton.

How about you? What would you answer to these questions? Feel free to tell us in the comments or consider yourself tagged and do your own version of the post.

 

Cheers,

Annie

Nuts & Bolts Indie Author Tools – The Master Book File

https://writerchick.wordpress.com
image courtesy of pixabay

If you are an indie author or self-published author your life is filled with lots of moving parts. You don’t just write books or stories, you sell them, market them, promote them, give them away, publish ebook, print, and audio versions.

You are often a one-woman show that wears all the hats. Your life and walls are littered with post-it notes, notes scribbled on envelopes, desktops, in digital files, physical files. And you are probably constantly saying, “Where did I put (fill in the blank)?”

I know I do.

At some point I had enough. I could never find anything, but less did I have anything at the ready and at my fingertips.

Until…

I created a Master Book File.

Okay, this is not my original idea. I picked it up from one of the writing gurus as I skipped merrily along the path of self-publication. Sorry, can’t remember who. If you’re out there and reading this, feel free to pipe up.

Although, my master file is fashioned after my needs as opposed to whatever the original prescribed method was.

What’s in a Master Book File?

The short answer is: anything you like. However, I will tell you what I keep in mine:

  • A separate folder for each book (I have several). This includes the most recent ebook mss, print book mss and digital files (pdf, epub & mobi); book description, keywords, and categories
  • A separate folder for book promos (for social media, including images, blurbs and buy links)
  • A separate folder for interviews and media
  • A separate folder for author bios and pics
  • A separate master folder for keywords and categories for every book/story
  • A separate folder for current book covers
  • A separate folder for email campaigns
  • A separate folder for research
  • And then several documents on various things, such as notes, future ideas, links for possible promo or marketing opportunities, etc.

I also back up this file regularly to an external hard drive because, you know, redundancy..

From disorganized to having things when I need them, at my fingertips

I’ll admit my Master Book File is not sexy – it’s not even pretty. But it saves me time. It gives me one place to put everything book related and one place to look for things. It helps me to drop a quick promo on social media or elsewhere if the need arises, and gives my brain one less thing to worry about.

If you don’t have something like this, you may want to give it a try. It’s been a lifesaver for me. And even if you aren’t a writer the idea may still be handy for you – it’s certainly basic enough to adapt to other creative/business mediums.

How about you, do you have a system for all your stuff. What is it? Does it work? Want to share it in the comments? Feel free.

Annie

Indie Spotlight on Mystery Writer C. Hope Clark

Beneath an idyllic veneer of Southern country charm, the town of Newberry hides secrets that may have led to murder.

When a local landowner’s body, with pants down, is found near Tarleton’s Tea Table Rock—a notorious rendezvous spot, federal investigator Carolina Slade senses a chance to get back into the field again. Just as she discovers what might be a nasty pattern of fraud and blackmail, her petty boss reassigns her fledgling case to her close friend and least qualified person in their office.

Forced to coach an investigation from the sidelines, Slade struggles with the twin demons of professional jealousy and unplanned pregnancy. Something is rotten in Newberry. Her personal life is spiraling out of control. She can’t protect her co-worker. And Wayne Largo complicates everything when the feds step in after it becomes clear that Slade is right.

One wrong move, and Slade may lose everything. Yet it’s practically out of her hands . . . unless she finds a way to take this case back without getting killed. Available at Amazon and other book outlets.

Finding the Balance as a Writer

I once sat on a panel with two ridiculously well-known authors – one indie and the other traditional – and the subject of commitment came around from the audience.

“What does it take?” someone asked, in other words, meaning, “How can we be like y’all?”

The literary author never really answered it other than saying read a lot, write a lot, it happens if you work hard. He taught creative writing at a university.

The six-figure indie author said she breathed her work 24/7, and from what I know of her, she does. She was incessantly hungry for achievement.

However, I never heard from either of them what made them tick outside of writing.

I have family, raise chickens and garden, adore my dachshunds, and thoroughly love a husband whom I cherish spending time with. And I told that to the room. Yeah, there was applause.

I added that any writer has to find that balance and choose how they’d love to see themselves a few years from now, on their own terms. Reality is we juggle lots of balls.

Add to that these days we’re deluged by success stories, making us feel negligent that we aren’t achieving more. What is supposed to be motivational instead plants negativity until we sense we aren’t meant to be as successful as others.

The key is to clearly define what matters most and hold up a stop-sign palm to the rest.

Live life on your terms rather than on what celebrities and experts tell us worked for them. Yet we still feel compelled to ask others how they do it. I’m often asked how I do what I do as editor of FundsforWriters, freelancer, daily social media player, blogger, speaker, and novelist. My newest release is Newberry Sin, my eighth mystery, and yes, I’m busy, but I still know how to say no….and when to say yes. The key is to focus on priorities.

Respect deadlines.

I have weekly deadlines with FundsforWriters, a newsletter that reaches 35,000 readers each and every Friday. It’s a hard commitment. In 19 years, I’ve missed two Fridays. That’s over 900 newsletter deadlines. Since FFW is a major cog in my writing machine, that deadline is key, and I make sure family and friends appreciate that. My husband knows to ask if the newsletters are out on Fridays before he makes other plans for us. Of course, if he were in an accident, he’d take priority. Otherwise, the newsletters must go out.

I usually have one or two books under contract with my publisher. Those stepping-stone dates are clearly defined on my calendar. If those deadlines are looming, I refuse all else that isn’t an emergency.

Marry your priorities.

Warren Buffett states that you must marry your priorities, and he limits those to five. He actually suggests you list your top 20 goals, then narrow them down to five . . . and avoid the other fifteen at all costs. Those five top items comprise your devoted focus. It isn’t easy and it isn’t an either/or all the time.

For instance, my five items are: my husband, my health, my family, my writing, and my nature/outdoors. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t fulfill my obligations to all five. Anything else is in my way, or I tend to them once my other obligations are met.

For instance, my house is scrubbed only when someone comes over. I go on vacation if all else is in order. And my friends and family know that my love of writing and the other four items are what make me who I am.

How to keep up with those priorities.

For me, planning takes a weekly desk calendar, a plain notebook, and, a smart phone calendar (to keep the family informed). I’ve turned down speaking engagements, conferences, parties, and weddings if they conflicted with deadlines. After all, you are married to these goals.

At the beginning of each year, and revisited often, I note benchmarks for what I hope to accomplish or items that are non-negotiable. With family, it’s birthdays. With the nature, it’s planting and harvesting time. With hubby, it’s daily dinner, our anniversary, and the hour at the gym. With my writing, it’s the deadlines. I live for deadlines, and create one if someone doesn’t create it for me, because without a date attached to a goal, it’s a vague thought that may never come to fruition.

The writing notebook is a catch-all for thoughts, brainstorming, and daily goals in greater detail than on a calendar. My calendar is a week-at-a-glance, and at the end of the year, it becomes a part of my income taxes to include travel, purchases, and yes, the deadlines.

If you miss a deadline, note it on the calendar. It’s a motivator to not miss it.

You don’t have to become a hermit.

Know what direction you are going instead of waking each day without defined purpose. Of course you have days off. Of course you build in a day of rest. But having missions and goals give more substance to your dreams. And the more organized you are, the more you accomplish, and the more efficient you become at reaching more dreams. The planning makes you seem oh so shrewd and wise.

C. Hope Clark’s latest release is Newberry Sin, the fourth in the Carolina Slade Mysteries. Hope is author of eight mysteries and founder of Funds for Writers, a website chosen by Writer’s Digest for its 101 Best Websites for Writers for 17 years. To learn more about Hope you can visit her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Saying Yes…

saying yes
image courtesy of bossfight

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to say, no? Why is that?

Is it because once you’ve said no, the topic is closed. It’s over. No further discussion. Moving on to the next thing?

Or is it because no just feels like a safer option?

When you say no, there is no commitment. No obligation. No risk or gamble.

No chance at failure.

Probably. Definitely. At least for me.

I suppose it’s a combination of being an introvert, manifesting impostor syndrome, disappointment, and native gullibility that has led me down the path of no.

It’s just easier. Less chance of being hurt. Right?

There’s only one problem with saying no. You miss things. You let opportunities pass you by. You often get left behind. You don’t usually realize any of these things until it’s too late.

So…in the spirit of trying new things, I’ve decided to say yes. For one week. I will say yes to any opportunity, large or small. I will say yes, even when my mind is screaming, NO! RUN! DON’T! Even if it terrifies me. Even if I feel like I don’t have the proverbial snowball’s chance in hell. I WILL SAY YES.

I mean, what do I have to lose? No, hasn’t really gotten me anywhere. And frankly, I could use some new adventures and a few new friends too.

I will give it a week. If I like this new attitude of yes, I may say yes for another week.

Wish me luck. I will report back on my findings.

How about you? Is your go-to answer yes or no? Tell me what you think about yes and no in the comments.

Annie the yes-woman