Writing

When That Marketing Hat Doesn’t Come Off As Easily As You Think…

I just realized that it’s been days since I last opened my Ulysses app, where I do most of my writing.  Ever since I clicked The End on my novel and the brand new cover was released to the world a week ago, no writing has happened.  Well, there were 580 or so  words the last two days but that’s nothing compared to my usual 1K a day minimum, with some days hitting 5 – 7K words.

So where did all my writing time go?

Book promotion.  Book promotion. Book promotion. (I know, it’s sad.)

This morning, while drinking my coffee (it’s #NationalCoffeeDay apparently, too), I thought about the many hats we self-published writers need to wear to get our books out there in the world.  Writing is really the easiest part.  And when you realize that you have no budget for the book release, it’s nerve-wracking.

screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-1-12-09-pmSo how do you promote a future release with NO budget other than agonizing over every decision down to, “did I choose the right font for my title?  Isn’t Times New Roman just way too boring?”

There’s always social media like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.  There’s also blogging, and then there’s the trusty ol’ mailing list.  There’s also Thunderclap, a campaign that blasts out the book’s release to your followers.  I’m short 20 more supporters and it’s driving me crazy, so if you’re on social media and would like to help me get word of my book out to your followers on release day, here’s the link to the Thunderclap campaign.

And then there’s writing.  I need to get back to writing again, whether it’s working on that prequel to Everything She Ever Wanted or the bonus story, or editing Loving Riley, the sequel to Loving Ashe (finally!).  Maybe it will calm my nerves because I sure as heck am not calm, not when there are only 19 days left before release day.

So my plan for today is simple: get back to writing.  Find that joy again (because heaven knows, marketing and book promotions suck it right out of ya!) and write.  Write the next book and keep on going.

What about you? How’s your day going?

 

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self-publishing · Writing

“What Causes Us to Pass On Your Book?”

screen-shot-2016-09-12-at-5-10-35-pmI found this on my Facebook timeline from Jack’s House, which is bestselling author Marie Force’s publishing company and short of giving you major eyestrain, I decided to paste the text below.

For Writers: What Causes Us to Pass on Your Book?

We’ve been evaluating a lot of manuscripts at Jack’s House over the last few months, and I thought it would help to make a list of some (certainly not all) of the things that make us stop reading. The good news is most of these things can be fixed, so if your manuscript isn’t getting the attention you’d hoped for, take another look with these thoughts in mind….

  1. Slow or boring start. Something has to HAPPEN in the opening pages. Start with a BANG. Grab me by the throat and take me on a wild ride.
  2. Too many details, characters, backstory introduced all at once. On the flip side of too slow is too much. If my head is swimming with details that I can’t process all at once while I wait for something to happen, I tend to stop reading.
  3. Implausible action, things that couldn’t possibly happen the way they are portrayed on the page. While all romance fiction has an element of fantasy to it (do those guys actually exist in real life!?), you can take the suspension of disbelief too far by pulling me out of the story to ask “how is that possible?” You want me IN the story, not out of it asking questions.
  4. The romance takes too long to get started. We ask for three sample chapters at Jack’s House. If I can’t tell fairly early on in the story who our couple is going to be, I tend to lose interest. That’s not to say the romance has to unfold on page 1, but it should be developing from the opening pages.
  5. Writing mechanics. This is a tougher one to quantify, but choppy writing, awkward phrasing or poor grammar is another stopper for us. You can smooth out some of this with the help of critique partners or beta readers who can suggest edits. If you are really struggling with mechanics, consider hiring an editor before you submit your manuscript so it’s as clean as it can possibly be to better your chances of standing out in the crowd. Remember, to succeed at fiction writing you have to do two things really well at the same time—write and tell a story. Those two skills don’t necessarily develop at the same pace, and it takes time to be able to do both well at the same time.

It’s interesting to see how our style of writing ends up changing to fit the demands of the genre and the readers.  If I want to write romance and be successful at it, I need to pay attention to the five things detailed above.  I also need to account for the 10% sample that Amazon gives prospective readers to get into your book and make that decision in addition to keywords and metadata and categories (whew! And that’s just for starters!)

Come to think of it, even if we don’t write romance, the points above  are definitely something to think about when we write, isn’t it?

 

Writing

When The End Is Just The Beginning

So on August 30th, I typed The End on my novel.  It felt good, that’s for sure; it even made me cry.  But the words The End actually took awhile because I forgot that an epilogue isn’t necessarily a requirement for a novel. Nope, it’s not.

Not when you’re going to be writing Book 2.

Getting to The End in Everything She Ever Wanted (formerly titled In Love With A Young Man) presented more questions – like what happens next and what about the legal case?  An epilogue would have answered all those questions, but why rush it?  Why tie it all in one tiny rushed package when the characters deserve better?

So, so much better.

And so The End in the case of Dax and Harlow means a new beginning because it is a new beginning.  And it’s also a new beginning for me, too – a HUGE one because Everything She Ever Wanted marks the first book I’m publishing for 2016.  It’s my fourth overall, but the first for this year that had started out with such grand plans as publishing a book every three months.  But I can’t dwell on all the missed opportunities, on all the should-have’s and could-have’s anymore.  It could have been worse – I could have just dwelled on all the negatives of this year and quit.  I was close to that point so many times.

Instead, my characters – the muse – fought back against all that negativity and in 72 days I wrote a novel, all 80K edited words of it (96K if you count the deleted scenes).  And Dax and Harlow are just amazing.  They’re just amazing, that’s all I can say.  A part of me is afraid of the reviews, but I’ve seen how living in fear the first six months of this year has done to my creativity (almost killed it) and I just can’t do that anymore.

I’m so fucking proud of this book I can cry… happy tears, every single one of them.  That’s because Everything She Ever Wanted is a book written from JOY. Plain and simple.  It’s the book I wrote for me, cheesy ending and all.

It’s also the reason why I write: to find my joy.  And I’m going to keep writing… I’m going to keep finding my joy.


If you’d like to follow Everything She Ever Wanted, here’s the current schedule to get the story of Dax and Harlow going.  There’s also a Thunderclap campaign, and if you’ve got a book blog, I hope you sign up for the cover reveal, book tour, or the release day blitz:

September 7: Cover Reveal

October 18: Release Day

October 24 – 28: Blog Tour

 

 

A Writer Musing · Writing

This Writer Thing…

With the Rio Olympics going on, there’s no silence in our tiny house until after the father and son finish their Olympics viewing ritual.  It’s enough to drive a writer crazy because that means from morning till night, there is no quiet time for this mom with a kid still on summer vacation.  I’m literally counting the days.

So if you’re wondering why I have been quiet the last few days, it’s because every free moment I can steal from being a mom is spent writing the ending of my current novel.  It kinda makes me wonder if this is why most successful authors don’t blog regularly (unless you’re Chuck Wendig who has an amazing post about 25 Reasons Why I Stopped Reading Your Book).  They’re too busy writing their books!  Then I wonder if they’ve got Personal Assistants (PA) or Virtual Assistants (VA) who help them do everything.

Sure, I’ve got days when I wonder why I’m doing this writing thing when I could be working.  And whenever I see a Help Wanted sign in my neighborhood, I often find myself wondering what if I took that job.  It could pay a few bills, that’s for sure.  But I’ll revisit that when the kid’s school year starts in two weeks and I find out how it feels to have a kid in first grade from 9am to 3:30 pm.  To be honest, I probably would be in shock that first week and not know what to do with myself.  Motherhood is honestly still jarring to me sometimes.

Then I receive something like this and I’m reminded why I’m sticking to this writing thing.

File Aug 17, 9 21 24 PM

Because it makes me happy.  It helps me understand my world, and lets me speak my truth.  And I’ll keep doing this writing thing until the cows come home and that fat lady sings…

Why do you keep doing “this writer thing?”

 

 

 

Featured Author · Writers · Writing

So #Reid2Write Featured A Romance Writer… Me!

So I just got featured over on Aidan J. Reid’s blog and I’m afraid I was a bit wacky in my answers!  I even managed to spill the beans about where to find my latest novel, In Love With A Young Man!

I had the pleasure this week to interview someone I’ve admired from afar since discovering her blog earlier in the year.

Author of romance and ‘chick-lit’ novels, the next guest of my #Reid2Write series is very open about her own writing process and the lovely task that us indie authors struggle with – carving out […]

via Episode 8 of #Reid2Write – Romance Author Liz Durano — Aidan J. Reid

A Writer Musing · Quotes · Writing

The Way You Make Me Feel

This week, my friend texted me with the words, “I just read Ashe.  We need to talk!”

Of course, the first thing that popped into my head was, oh no! Was it that bad?  before the other part of me ordered the negative part of me to shut up.  After all, just a week earlier, one of my readers, a retired English professor, told me what she thought about the hero, Ashe Hunter: “He reminded me of Jamie Fraser.”

Who? What? Wha…?!  Jamie Fraser… as in Jamie of Claire and Jamie… Outlander?!  Needless to say, I swooned, so really, the words “We need to talk,” could go both ways.  Thank goodness, before I would have freaked out even more, my friend then followed up with another message that said, “you made me feel like I was 30 again.”

Whew!

I love reading (and writing) stories that make me feel.  I love it when they make me feel good.  Heck, I love stories that make me feel sad, too, even horrified, or scared or doing the whole ugly-cry thing.  Sometimes, the rational part of me tries to be technical, reminding myself that maybe in the hero’s journey, this part is when he ventures into the innermost cave and whatever else I can distract myself with.  But the words still make it through.  It’s like being awoken from a deep sleep, and every book that has stayed with me has done so because they woke me up.  They made me feel.

I may not remember their titles or the characters’ names, but I remember how they made me feel.  It’s all about eliciting emotion through the words you put down on paper, and digging deeper into what’s happening on the page by going beyond it.  One of those books is Harold Robbins’ A Stone for Danny Fisher. Another one is Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander.  And yet another one is Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt.  Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden) and She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb).  Heavy choices, I know, so I’ll throw in Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward’s Stuck Up Suit.  I’m not all serious after all.

These are the stories – and so many more – that have stayed with me.  There are others, too, like Colleen McCullough’s Thornbirds and James Clavell’s Shogun.  It’s more than just the physical journey the characters go through but the emotional journeys we as readers go through as we travel with them.  It’s the emotion we remember more than anything, for good or bad, and in my stories, that’s my goal – to get to the “feels.”

What about you?  What books gave you all the “feels?”

 

 

 

 

A Writer Musing · Quotes · Writing

Writing With The Door Closed… Kinda

“Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder.”
-Barbara Kingsolver

One of the drawbacks of writing on Wattpad “live” – my term for writing a novel and posting the latest chapter online as I go (although I’m always two chapters ahead in my drafts) – is that you’re not writing with the door closed. That door’s slightly ajar because you get to hear what your readers are saying. This could run from reactions, opinions, and critiques. As a result, you run the risk of having your work, at least the events that happen in the future of your work, influenced by comments from readers. I’m sure there are other writers out there who complete a novel first before posting the chapters weekly when they’re finished, but for the most part, a lot of Wattpad writers post their chapters as they go.

I do this for two reasons. I like to see how people react to the events unfolding before them. I especially like readers who comment as they go, talking to the character and not the writer as they post their reactions. I also like the answers to questions I pose after every chapter. I never used to pose questions that go, “so what did you think?” It makes me seem clueless as to what’s about to happen next in my story, but I actually, genuinely want to know what readers think. It helps me draft my story and move it forward. Did I get the reaction I wanted? Did I not? Do I need to look at the events and see if I need to tweak a thing or two, or maybe just leave it alone?

Actually, there’s a third reason, and that’s accountability. My readers help me be accountable to finishing that draft although sometimes, I have to admit defeat when I see something really wrong and take it down (sorry, Luca and Landry!) so I can fix it in private.

Sometimes, readers’ reactions may make me reconsider the current arc I’m now on two chapters ahead. I weigh the arguments (inside my head) between one path and the other. Sometimes I write both paths out just to see if it makes it to the same outcome I’d envisioned. Where does it fit in the Hero’s Journey model? If it doesn’t, what purpose does that scene serve? Is it fluff? Is it there to please the reader only, like a fluff piece? While I would like to please my readers, I also want to follow my vision and my characters. And so I go with the characters, knowing that there is still a path that they need to take and by hook or by crook, we’re all gonna get there.

So I write with the door closed when I start a story, listening only to my characters as I go. And then when they’ve hit their stride (my characters), I unlock the door and leave it ajar for awhile, allowing the story to breathe and get used to being poked and prodded by readers who may or may not like it. Some of my stories take a while for readers to like, and I don’t necessarily give them very likable characters. Heck, it takes me awhile to like some of my characters, too.

How do you write? Do you welcome critique while writing or prefer critique to come after the story is completed?