Indie Authors “Owning It” and Other Groovy Stuff this Week

harley davidson

Found a few real nuggets this week – read them, bookmark them and refer to them often.

For Indie Writers: You have the control. Own it. By Elizabeth Hunter. Ms. Hunter makes the very good point that indie authors are not just authors but also publishers and instead of complaining we should own it. I’m with her. It’s your party, you decide the menu, the party favors, the guest list and everything else. Own it. Enjoy it. Do it.

I miss the blogosphere by Nathan Bransford. A sweet post that made me long for the good old days of blogging too. Before it was a social media ‘tool’

The complete list of creative distractions and defenses against them by Dan Blank A humorous and accurate list of how we allow ourselves to get distracted from our work.

Indie Authors Should Think Twice About Kickstarter by Michael Kozlowski. A short but profound cautionary tale about Indie’s going the Kickstarter route.

And last but not least, for Raymond Chandler fans –The Long Goodbye audio book at Audible

Have a great week everybody. 😀

WC

Advertisements

Eight things a writer shouldn’t tell their friends or family

-WOMAN-SHUSH-

Writers are weird ducks – at least as far as ‘normal’ people are concerned. Our brains are a never-ending source of people, places, ideas, stories, worlds, languages, dialects and facts – many of which don’t actually exist. Except in our heads.

And we love to research. We collect strange, trivial facts like little boys collect bugs – can’t get enough of them. And given that we spend an extraordinary amount of time alone (in our heads) we’re not particularly good at social intercourse. Read – we lack filters.

But we’re creative. And creative is fun. And we want to share the fun. Especially since we spend so much time in our heads in our little rooms making stuff up.

So it might not occur to you that some things you just don’t want to share with your friends or significant others. Like:

1. The fact that you know at least 50 different ways to kill someone. Poisons, weapons, hand to hand combat, choke holds, garrotes, tools of torture, lethal herbs, how to mimic real life heart attacks – you know them all and find them fascinating. Sure, you need to know these things because you write murder mysteries. But do you think that cute guy or gal you just started dating wants to know that you could kill them 50 different ways?
2. That they are an inspiration for a character. Now you may think this will flatter them or make them feel special. However, given human nature, chances are they will search your stories for anything that even remotely sounds like them. Or they’ll criticize you for depicting them as a bitch or a jerk or stupid or somehow incorrect and unflattering. And God help you if you break up – a lawsuit could be in the offing.
3. That ten minutes into the movie you’re watching you know who did it or how the story will end. You’re a writer, you recognize plot points, inciting incidents, red herrings and every other writer device employed to create a story. And you’re okay with that because you enjoy seeing how other writers use those devices to craft a story. Your girlfriend/boyfriend, mom, sister, friend however, is not a writer. They don’t want to know the ending. They want to be surprised. So don’t ruin it for them.
4. That basically you think for a living. Let’s face it, we write and we write a lot but before we write, we think. While we’re writing, we think. We just think all the time – working out plots, character arcs, playing what if… Whatever. And the truth is a lot more thinking hours are logged in than anything else. This will surprise and likely disappoint your non-writer friends. Because they can think and nobody pays them for it. And let’s face it, we already have to deal with people who think that writing is the same as talking and since they can talk, writing really shouldn’t be a job, right? Imagine the response to the thinking angle. Although there’s boundless evidence that many people don’t or can’t think – everyone believes they are thinkers – and brilliant ones at that.
5. That you talk to your characters – regularly. Come on, admit it. We all do it. We all talk to our characters almost as much as we talk to the ‘real’ people in our lives. It’s part of the process. But strictly speaking, talking to imaginary people likely classifies as one type of mental illness or another. And those meds are expensive. And though  you get a lot of alone time in a little room, they usually won’t let you have writing implements.
6. That the character you created that they adore was once a clown with a gambling problem and a criminal record. It doesn’t matter that the character is currently a super hero who uses laughter to do good in the world. If you tell them about previous incarnations it’ll ruin it for them. They’ll never see the character the same way again. Ditto for first drafts.
7. Any idea you have for a book. Sure, there might be a few writer friends or beta readers you can run an idea by. But the average lay person will inevitably turn that conversation into an idea they always had for a book. They will then proceed to tell you all about their idea and offer it to you because they’ll never get around to writing it themselves. And heck fire, they’ll split the profits with you too. In the alternative, it may be such a good idea that your friend blabs it around and next thing you know, somebody else has written the book. Keep ideas to yourself.
8. How many books you sell/money you make. Unless you’re a NYT bestseller (in which case they’ll already assume you are a bagillionaire) keep your sales data and financial gain or loss to yourself. It only opens the door to criticism and suggestions of finding a real job or worse, advice on how you could do better.

If you keep these things to yourself you may pull off living up to the carefully crafted image of the mysterious, interesting writer that you’ve spent years creating. If you don’t ,you’ll just be Arnie’s and Mabel’s kid who lives in their basement and refuses to get a real job.

How about you? Have you told friends or family too much about your writerliness? Were they shocked, disappointed, sad? Did they point their finger at you and laugh? What do you keep to yourself as a writer? Speak your mind in the comments below.

Writer Chick

copyright 2015

Mixed Messages or Making Sense of Writing Advice

As a writer I am always on the hunt for good writing advice — just like the rest of you. And there is no shortage of it – you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting at least 25 experts in the area. (I, by the way, am not an expert – just an everyday jamoke who likes to make stuff up.) And I have to admit, I believed a lot of the advice out there until I noticed a funny thing – contradiction.

For example…

Do not send work to an editor that is unedited, nor should you expect an editor to edit your article. Be a professional and send a well-edited polished piece or you will be rejected. Versus. No author should ever publish a book that they have edited themselves. Because you will miss errors, lack objectivity on your own work, and it will suck.

So, which is it?

I’m a freelancer; I make my living that way. I don’t have an in-house editor. I am everyone in my little business. And as any freelancer knows you have to learn to edit your own work, cut the flab, proofread, do the research and write fast if you want to feed yourself, much less succeed. So if I can do all that as a freelance writer, why can’t I do that as a self-published author? Does writing fiction suddenly turn me into an inept dope who doesn’t know the difference between a verb and a noun or how to spot a typo – or God forbid, cut out the flab?

Get your work out there. Versus. Do not be in a hurry to publish. This is another one that gets me. Out of one side of the mouth the expert says you have to write a lot, submit a lot, and get your work out there. But out of the other side of their mouth they say don’t be in a hurry to publish. Write the book. Let it rest. Do something else. Read it again. Let it sit. Do something else.

Again, which is it?

Most writers I know don’t have the luxury of spending several years writing a book. Not if they want to eat. And too you can’t really judge a book by how long it took to write it. I’ve read a lot books that took years to produce that sorry, sucked. And others that were written in a few months that were great. I don’t think you can determine quality based on how long it takes to produce a book.

Take as much time as you need to produce the best book you can — then give it away for free, so readers will buy your other books. Sorry but this strategy has never made sense to me. And while this strat may have worked in some bizarre g-tortional way in the past, it is now so over-used that I believed it’s backfired by producing a sector of readers who don’t believe they should ever have to pay for any book.

The thing is, writers need to eat. And often spend months or longer producing that book. Not to mention publishing costs. So shouldn’t they get paid a few cents a copy?

These are just a few examples of the contradictions I’ve encountered and have stymied me. But recently, I’ve realized that in a way I’ve created my own monster by assigning expert status to others who strictly speaking aren’t experts. In fact, many so-called master classes or programs in writing are produced by writers with little or not success under their belts. Some aren’t even writers.

My advice – if it doesn’t make sense reject it

I realize that we are all insecure to some degree about our work and having the reassurance of someone who knows to help us, is well, reassuring. However, if the advice is bad or makes no sense, or requires you to completely change everything you’re doing then maybe you should re-think it. Instead of reading every article under the sun about how to succeed as writer, or how to write:

  • Forge your own path
  • Actively seek out the information you need
  • Reject what just doesn’t make sense
  • Take advice if it works for you, not somebody else
  • Never compromise your own common sense

Luckily, there are some very awesome, experienced, knowledgeable, and honest folks out there who do give great advice. Tops on my list is Anne R. Allen – you may have your own guy or gal whose advice you consider the bee’s knees. If so, fabulous. If not, check out Anne or find somebody who has a big dose of common sense and an even bigger dose of honesty. You can’t go wrong with that.

How about you? Do you see writing advice that makes you scratch your head, scream, or just want to crawl into a hole? Have you ever followed bad advice that made things worse? Feel free to talk it up in the comments.

Writer Chick

copyright 2015

The King of the Blues Plays His Final Set and Other Good Reads this Week

B.B._King_in_2009

The King of the Blues, BB King Dies at Age 89. Very nice retrospective on blues legend BB King, that offers more than just the facts and a superficial assessment of his many accomplishments.

Paid Reviews: Why Authors Should NEVER Buy Amazon Reader Reviews. More sage advice from Anne R. Allen on why paid reviews ain’t such a hot idea.

Can’t Everyone In The Publishing Industry Just Get Along? Makes a great case for just being grateful that books come in all types and from many sources. Hooray for books.

Publication Opportunities for New Writers at Endless Edits is a nice post with lots of tips and links to writing opportunities for new writers.

Agonizing Over Antagonists by Keith Cronin. Is a great straightforward post about giving your bad guys some dimension and making them more like real life. Basically, if real bullies have something good about them. I agree. Makes for a better villain in my mind.

Enjoy the reads and have a great week everybody. Let BB get you there:

 

WC

Soon, you too can write like a genius and other cool reads of the week

A new font based on Einstein’s handwriting will let you write like a genius – Always wanted people to see you as a genius? Well you’re in luck, a new font is being developed so that you can write like Einstein. Actually pretty fascinating article.

Change by Donald Maass. Discusses how change can stir emotions in your readers.

When Your Scene is Dragging: 6 Ways to Add Tension by Anna Elliot. Good, sound ways you can add tension to your story/scenes.

Self Published Books Are Crap? Jim Heskett rightly points out that broad sweeping statements are crap.

Kathryn Goldman provides quick notes on contractual matters for authors and other creatives. Not an article but very helpful.

Oooh, can’t wait to get my hands on that genius font. Have a great week everybody. 😀 WC

All your many hats as a writer – oh yeah, a lot of them … and other good stuff

hats

Some good stuff out there to read this week, enjoy.

The 3+ Hats Every Indie Author Must Wear by Nina Amir  You think as an indie author (or any kind of author) you only have to wear your writer hat? Think again. And I’m going to go hat shopping later.

Debunking the Discovery Problem by Joe Wikert discusses how content efficiency may solve the discovery problem for indie authors and publishers.

Book Design: How Changing Covers Can Transform Self-published Book Sales by Scarlett Rugers. Your book may be great but the cover may be tanking sales or preventing them. Very insightful article on the value of a great and appropriate book cover.

Character Cue – Whose Line is it anyway? by Katrina Kittle–  Shows us that keeping the voice of your protag strong (and not losing it )during narrative passages can and should be done.

The mystery of the literary litterbug is solved. Really? He couldn’t think of what to do with the books other than toss them out the window?

Rights Grabs and Other Informative Reads

copyright

 

How to Spot a Rights Grab. Helen Sedwick gives us the ABCs of rights grabs – an absolute must-read for writers.

‘Highly creative’ professionals won’t lose their jobs to robots, study finds   Will you be replaced by a robot? Not if you’re ‘highly creative’ according to study.

Publishing’s Digital Disruption Hasn’t Even Started  Gareth Cuddy observes that traditional publishers who think eBooks are over may be sadly surprised down the line.

Top Ten Most Common Short Story Names  Neil Clarke muses about the top ten most common short story titles. Who knew?

Giving books to kids before summer break can stem reading losses  Science Daily cites a study that shows giving kids books to read over summer school break can help keep reading skills going.

Happy Monday everybody.

 

WC

The Safety of the Bookternet for Women and other Compelling Reads This Week

walking_away

Been busy this week and didn’t have nearly enough time to read but the following were pretty damn compelling is you ask me.

 
Why I Quit GoodReads (or The Bookternet is Not Safe for Women). Is a compelling post by Brenna Clarke Grey dealing with the harassment and fallout of the ‘bookternet.’ Thought provoking read.

Online book shopping overtakes in-store for first time. Over at The BookSeller, they’ve got the 411 on online book sales versus offline book sales. Enlightening.

Controlling the Creatives. Kristine Kathryn Rusch writes a nice piece about ignoring in-fighting (what I call penis tossing), online battles and just writing what you write. I’m with her.

Goodreads has decided that there is no friendzone for authors and people. Nate Hoffelder writes about the now more confusing world of GoodReads, fans, followers and a weird gum-up that may send people away from GoodReads.

The New World of Writing: Pulp Speed. Dean Wesley Smith quite knowledgeable about pulp writers and writer, offers some awesome insight about writing fast. Warp speed fast. (H.T. Anne R. Allen)

Read, enjoy and have a great week. 🙂 WC

The Love and Hate of Writing a New Series – Guest Post by C. Hope Clark

Murder on Edisto

C. Hope Clark is guest-posting today and sharing some great advice about writing a book series. I certainly have an interest in the topic myself and I hope it will give you some insights into your own projects. And by the way, it’s Hope’s birthday today.  Happy birthday, Hope and take it away. WC

Starting a novel is a frustrating venture for an author. All that empty white space awaiting genius. So much room for brilliance . . . and failure. Writing down the bones of a new story, especially under the shadow of a deadline, is pressure. Creating a virgin series, however, can reap an anxiety attack.

After years of dreaming about a home for my Carolina Slade Mystery Series, and finding that home with Bell Bridge Books, I envisioned myself writing about Slade for the rest of my life. I would become the Sue Grafton of South Carolina, carrying a character through twenty years of crime solving and family feuds, with a slight smack of romance for good measure. I’d be old and gray and still leading Slade into danger, and making her scramble her way out.

Then my publisher asked for a different series.

In a knee-jerk balk, I argued the request. She calmly explained that I needed diversity. She saw more talent in me that wouldn’t come to pass unless I had to stretch my writing muscle in a different direction. The flattery in the message gave me pause. Then after much tossing and turning, I caved. Besides, when a publisher says write this way, you don’t turn diva and refuse. So, I asked with guarded concession, what are you looking for?

Southern in a locale of your choosing, she said. Make the protagonist real law enforcement, not an amateur sleuth. And of course throw in a heaping dose of family drama.

I won’t lie: the assignment scared me crazy. What would my Slade fans think? Would I lose readers, not that I had a Sue Grafton-level fan club? As hard as I’d worked for the past decade developing Slade, I felt I was abandoning her. Seriously, it hurt. I think I even cried.

Opening my notebook, I started with location, since I believe setting is as important as the protagonist. In my tales, anyway. To me, sense of place is like a fingerprint for a story, especially a mystery. And since this place had to carry an entire series, it had to be seductive.

Edisto Beach, South Carolina. Obscure, haunting, remote, with a sense of escape. I knew Edisto, having visited it since I was a teen. No motels or franchises. Laid back without the neon. For me, that decision served as the catalyst for the rest of the series structure.

So now I have two series under my belt, and a box full of lessons learned about series.

1) Plant your flag. My ideas center around setting. Yours might be a particular type of crime, a unique profession, or an especially eclectic character, but find that aspect that allows you to plant your flag, because from this choice will arise all else. The very nature of my setting told me to weave it into the other characters, choices they made, clues, crimes, reactions, obstacles, and of course, the climax and solution. It’s a unifying thread that brands the series, to establish a consistency through all the books.

2) Let your titles identify. My newest release is Murder on Edisto. The series is The Edisto Island Mysteries. If your anchor is character, then your series title might be named after your protagonist, like the Walt Longmire series written by Craig Johnson of Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid. With Star Wars, you know you’re getting an environment, a specially built world around which all the players, arcs, and stories revolve, much like Game of Thrones. The Dark Tower series from Stephen King. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. The item, place or character is the key.

3) Avoid backstory. One of the biggest temptations is to regurgitate scenes and history from previous books. In a series, each book usually needs to stand alone as well as hold the thread. Sure, the earlier books impact the current one in a reader’s hands, but backstory must be handled with a deft hand, sprinkled with a light touch. The reader does not need to know all those details, just hints, because the attention is on the now, not the before, in case a reader starts with book two or three.

4) Keep facts straight. There’s a reason you see guidebooks and “bibles” for famous series. Facts pile up and become hard to manage. Ages, car makes, streets, eye color, names, rank, employment and familial status all become fuzzy over time because the author edits and rewrites so many times. Most of these facts change between the first draft and the final edit. Spreadsheets help. I also keep a dry erase board on the wall.

5) Write several synopses for several books. You do not know if you have a series until you write a synopsis for several of the books. I once thought of a marvelous idea for a mystery and came home eager to flesh it out. The initial story held great potential with some curious players and a unique crime, but I could not find the common thread for a second or third book. Disappointing, but I would not have known without thinking ahead. I outlined three Edisto Island mysteries before writing the first chapter of Murder on Edisto.

There are many intricate rules of thumb for writing a series. Readers adore series, that’s for sure, and they stay hungry for those recurring characters and themed stories they can become intimate with as time goes on. It’s lovely to have such a structure in place each time you start writing a new story, but it’s also a challenge to remain consistent while still creating a fresh story that doesn’t fall into an easily recognized template. Love and hate. But the rewards are immensely satisfying, for both the author and the reader.

C. Hope ClarkMurder on Edisto is C. Hope Clark’s latest release, and represents the first in the Edisto Island Mysteries. Also known for her award-winning Carolina Slade series, Hope finds additional time to edit FundsforWriters, chosen by Writer’s Digest for its 101 Best Websites for Writers. Her newsletters reach over 40 thousand readers.