Why you Should Establish a Writing Schedule

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This guest post originally appeared on Violette L. Meir’s blog. Also, shout out to Brande McCleese who just successfully revamped her writing schedule. Ya’ll stop by her blog and show her some love! Happy Monday, you guys!

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Cat Meme

Back in the day (way back. Before Facebook), I had a creative writing professor who asked the class: “How many of you have a writing schedule?” Very few of us raised our hands. A writing schedule? I mean, I watched The Young and the Restless and The Golden Girls regularly and spent a lot of time thinking about going to the gym. I knew I eventually wanted to write a novel, but actually writing? Who had time for that? But as time went on, I kept thinking about what he said and it dawned on me: how was I going to write the next New York Times best seller if I didn’t sit my behind down and write? So, I put my big girl panties on and made the decision: I was going to establish a writing schedule. But when? I had classes during the day and after 5 pm my brain turned to mush. That only left the mornings. And if I was going to make any real progress, I needed two whole hours. It was settled: my writing time would be from 5am until 7 am, when my house was completely quiet.

I was so proud of myself! I waited for my professor after our next class and told him about my new writing schedule. “I get up at 5 in the morning!” I gushed.

He looked at me and said, “Well, even if you’re writing crap at 5 am, at least you’re still writing.”

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His words went right over my head. All I knew at the time was that I was now a serious writer. A bonafied, eat it, live it, and breathe it writer. Not one of those people who walked around complaining of how they wanted to write a novel but couldn’t find the time. No, sir! I was dead serious about my craft. I would write the next Great American Novel and give litra-ture a whole new meaning. I told all of my friends and family and pretty much did everything to let the world know aside from hanging a shingle outside of my door that read, “Serious writer resides here. Inquire within.”

Fast-forward 10 years or so and here I am, still writing at 5 am. I’ve made it a priority. Even if it means going to bed early. Or waking up even when I’m tired (to combat this I usually preset my coffee pot so that if I have a hard time waking up, the smell of French Roast will lure me to the kitchen, and finally to the computer). But most of the time, I get up ready to confront whatever idea or manuscript I’m tackling at the time.

So what’s happened since I’ve established a writing schedule? Well, I’ve spent many a morning writing short stories that will never see the light of day, outlining novels that I’ll probably never write, wading through terrible ideas and even more terrible manuscripts, squinting at my computer screen (wondering how I could come up with an idea so hackneyed), frowning at my coffee cup (wishing I had just a tad more hazelnut creamer), and giving a good ole fashioned western style stare down to my computer screen before rolling up my sleeves to confront my WIP.

I’ve abandoned more novels than I’ve finished, thrown several novels out of the house, and divorced many well-meaning protagonists. But on the flip side of that, three not so bad novels, several well thought-out outlines, and many brainstorming sessions have come at 5 am. Had I not established a routine, I would probably still be twiddling my thumbs and saying, “You know, I want to write a novel. I just don’t have the time!”

So if you’re having trouble establishing a writing schedule (and finding that, every time you sit down to write, there are a host of distractions that come your way), consider this: what are your goals and how long will it take you to reach them? For instance, if you plan to write a full-length novel (80,000 words are so), decide on a deadline and stick to it. You want to give yourself 6 months? Then you’ll need to write just under 450 words a day. Doesn’t sound so bad when you break it down like that, huh? You could probably do that on your lunch break! And if you can’t devote 2 hours, try to commit to 30 minutes. You’ll be amazed at how fast your word count will add up!

Also, considering your work schedule and family obligations, when is the best time for you to write? Early mornings? Afternoon? Late at night? On your lunch break, perhaps? Pick a time and stick with it until it becomes second nature.

Can’t write every day? Commit to 3 days a week. And if you can’t do 3 days a week, be a weekend warrior. But if you’d like to write a novel, try to commit to something, even if it’s only one day a week.

What about others? Do you have a writing schedule? If not, how do you prioritize your writing? I’d love to hear your thoughts!


Claim it! Visualizing Your Goals And the Power of What we Speak

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Happy Wednesday, Everybody!  It’s the first Wednesday of the month and that means that it’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group Day!

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds. The co-hosts for May are Stephen Tremp, Fundy Blue, MJ Fifield, Loni Townsend, Bish Denham, Susan Gourley, and Stephanie Faris. If you can, stop by their blogs and see what their up to these days:)

So. I’ve been working on The Novel That Is Taking Longer To Finish Than Any Novel In The History of Novels. There are a myriad of reasons why it’s taking me so long to finish this book. Among them:

  1. Two pregnancies in two years = 18 months of pregnancy brain.
  2. A cell phone swiping toddler (who is also a well known flip flop thief) who zeroes in on my laptop’s “off” button every time she gets the chance. And then she shouts “Yaaay!” and claps with joy before stealing another flip flop and taking off running.
  3. A huge bout of what-to-write-next-itis.
  4. “Great” ideas that end up just being huge distractions when I realize that I should have just been writing in the first place.
  5. Doubt. Unspeakable doubt about…well, everything. 

Number 5 is a biggie. Lately I’ve been rather down on myself for not having the time to pursue my writing career the way I’d like to. That includes writing more books, maintaining this blog and my social media profiles, and supporting authors that I meet online by reading and leaving a review for their books. And since I don’t have the time, doubt (fear’s wicked, wicked stepsister) seeps in and causes me to question whether or not I should be pursuing this writing thing at all since I can’t devote my all to it. To boot, I feel guilty about many other things that I should be doing (like getting my butt on Instagram or marketing myself locally), and because I can’t do every single thing I’d like to do, I start feeling like maybe I should just give up.

But having that kind of defeatist attitude just leads to failure! It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy and if I believe that I won’t be successful, then guess what? I won’t be! So even when I’m feeling like my to-do list is insurmountable and there just aren’t enough hours in the day to pursue all my dreams, I have to stop that train of negativity by reminding myself that I can do anything I set my mind to as long as I don’t quit. I also have to ask myself, “What’s the rush?” So what if I don’t get every single thing done today. Who cares? Doing a little each day is better than doing nothing at all. And then I start thinking of all the things I thought I couldn’t do and did anyway, like finishing my first two novels, and I realize that I can achieve all of my dreams. Just not in one day–or one year.

There’s so much power in our thoughts and the things that we speak that we have to be vigilant about what we think and what we say. Despite what your situation looks like, keep pushing.

Are there going to be days of doubt? Yes. Are there going to be setbacks? Yes. Are there going to be days where you feel like you’re doing all of this in vain and you should just give up? Absolutely! But nothing worth having comes easy. And things don’t just happen: they must be planned. Yes, you have to think positively but you also have to map out a plan and get to work. Also, don’t sit around feeling sorry for yourself. Instead, surround yourself with people who have your solution, not your problem, and go out there and live your dreams.

Visualize your success. Speak it, write it, claim it. Wake up next day, repeat. Click To Tweet

Don’t believe me? Check out this inspirational letter that renowned science fiction author, Octavia Butler, wrote to herself. If you aren’t familiar with her work, she is one of the most lauded American writers and the first science fiction author to win a MacArthur genius grant. She also wrote one of my favorite books, Kindred, a novel about a modern black woman living in California who is transported back to slavery times.

 

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Now excuse me while I go and take my own advice, lol. What about others? Do you practice thinking/speaking positively and writing down your goals?

And for those of you who need an extra boost of motivation, check out one of my favorite songs, “Go Get It,” by gospel duo, Mary Mary. Go get it!

 


Beyonce’s ‘Lemonade’ and UFC 197 (No Sleep Saturdays, Volume 1)

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Happy Monday, Everybody! I hope that everyone is well and that you all got lots of writing done this weekend??? If not, sending good vibes your way for an uber successful week.

So. I’m taking a brief moment from the black hole commonly known by writers as revisions to tell you all about my weekend. I’m also veering off of my scheduled list of blog topics to tell you guys about No Sleep Saturday.

Some of you might be surprised to know this, but I’m a huge MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fan. Like, seriously. It started when my husband and I lived in San Jose. While channel surfing one night, I accidentally stumbled across what, at the time, appeared to be two men—wearing just their drawers, ya’ll—wrestling (or as we say back home, “wrassling”). But this was different from regular wrestling. Nobody came into the ring and slammed a chair over somebody’s head. There was blood on the mat. And lots of it. They were on that floor grappling like one of them had found the very last chocolate donut on the planet and the other guy wanted it for himself. And one of the guys had blood pouring from his eye. But they kept fighting! (But if I knew the last chocolate donut was at stake, I’d fight too, ya’ll). I know this might sound gory to some of you, but it was so exciting to watch because of the unpredictability of the match and the athleticism of the fighters. And when I found out that girls fought, too? They had me, honey.

So fast forward to this past Saturday and UFC 197. For those of you not familiar with the sport, this fight was a huge deal because Jon Bones Jones, who is considered by many to be the best fighter in the world, returned to fighting after 15 months. Side note: those people who consider Jones to be the best fighter in the world obviously do not know about my cousin, Keshia, A.K.A. Desert Storm, who, in high school, was voted most likely to knock a motherf*cker out. But I digress.

Anyhoo, Bones’ return was a huge freaking deal, but another fighter stole the show that night: Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson. He fought a wrestler named Henry Cejudo. I may not know much about the technicalities of the sport, but Demetrious whupped that boy like he stole something. It was such an exciting fight! And what do you think happened after the fight? I was up, on Twitter, looking at some of the comments from fans–and so hyped I couldn’t sleep. So my naive behind said, “Well, since I’m up, I might as well watch Lemonade,” Beyoncé’s visual album featured on  HBO. Now why I did that??? My can’tsleepness went from about 75% to 175%! Why, you ask? Because as the kids say, “This album is lit.”  Disclaimer: I’m a HUGE Beyoncé fan. Her family is from my hometown, New Iberia, so it’s very likely that we’re cousins. Just sayin’…

So since Beyoncé and I might be cousins, I’m probably biased, but I loved all the songs and visuals from the new album, so much so that I had to go to Twitter–again!–and see what other fans were saying. All the fans were just as captivated as I was, and No Sleep Saturday quickly morphed into No Sleep Sunday. And since both Beyoncé and Demetrious decided that they were going to be out here on these streets snatching people bald, it is very likely that I will have to spend the rest of the week applying Jamaican Black Castor Oil to my edges.

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Who said life was gone be easy???

What about you guys? Any other MMA or Beyoncé fans? What are some of your interests aside from writing? I’d love to hear your thoughts!


How to Get More Book Reviews

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Book Reviews

I’ve written quite a bit about book reviews on this blog:

Book Review Query Etiquette
How (Not) to Respond to a Negative Book Review
How (Not) to Respond to a Negative Book Review – Part Deux

And another post that sparked an interesting discussion: Would you Give a Fellow Author a Negative Book Review?

I’ve even talked about how I get quite a few book review requests despite the fact that I’m not an “official” book reviewer. At this point, you’d think I’d be all book reviewed out, right? Well, just about every day somebody Googles: “How to write a book review letter,” and that query leads them to one of my aforementioned posts. So I thought I’d do another post with more detailed information about how to approach reviewers.

Some of my more seasoned author pals will probably know this information already, but please feel free to give your thoughts in the comments section with advice and tidbits that I didn’t mention here.

So here we go!

  1. This might seem like a no-brainer, but the first thing you want to do is Google “[fill in your genre] book reviewers.” For instance: “Romantic comedy book reviewers.” Or, “Book reviewers for horror novels.” This might take a bit of research on your part, but it’s an important step so that you don’t send someone who only reads science fiction your erotica novel.
  2. Once you have the list of bloggers, please, please, please read their review policy! If they clearly state that they are “closed to submissions at this time,” please heed this! And don’t query them anyway because that’s probably the fastest way to get your email deleted. Or their policy might be that they are only accepting review requests from authors they’ve worked with before, or from traditionally published authors. So whatever their review policy is, please follow instructions!
  3. After you have Googled reviewers in your genre and have whittled your list down to reviewers who are open to submissions, it’s time to start getting your letter ready. This doesn’t have to be some grandiose thing. Keep it professional, polite, and to the point. For example, don’t do this:

Dear Blogger:

What happens when Die Hard meets Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead? You get Babysitting Ain’t for Chumps, where my kick ass main character, Swanky Johnson, battles mob bosses in New York City after getting stuck with her dead date’s daughter. Think you’ve seen it all? Well, prepared to be wowed by Swanky and her side kick, Peanut!

I see that you don’t accept adventure novels and that you are currently closed to book review requests, but I thought I’d send you a note anyway because I don’t want you to miss out on this (because once Hollywood buys the rights, you’ll be able to say that you were among the first book reviewers! (wink).

I have been in love with writing since I was seven years old, and I am so happy to share this journey with you!

Sincerely,

Literature’s Next Big Star.

Please don’t do this!

Instead, do this:

  1. Address the book reviewer by name. If you search the blog and can’t find the name, then I think it’s fine to say “Dear [insert name of blog].” You can open with how you found the blog or get right into why you’re writing. Totally up to you. Just remember to keep it polite and simple.
  2. State your business quickly and get out of there: the genre of your book, the blurb, word count, and the formats you have available.
  3. Thank the book reviewer for his/her time and go about your day. Seriously, that’s it. Don’t wax poetic about what writing means to you. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

So the letter might look like this:

Dear Cynthia,

I’m writing because I see that you are currently open to reviewing speculative fiction books. Would you be interested in reviewing my novel, Ripley’s Ghost? 

It’s ______________ words. Here’s a synopsis: [include the book blurb here].

If interested, I’d be happy to send you a copy of the book in the format of your choice: mobi, Epub, PDF, or hard copy.

Thank you so much for your time!

Sincerely,

Le Author. 

Sure, it’s not the sexiest letter on the planet, but it’ll get the job done! And if someone agrees to review your book and then suddenly dissapears into a dark hole, please don’t write them demanding to know why they haven’t reviewed your book. Just assume that they got busy, starting reading your book and it wasn’t their cup of tea, or was so engrossed in your book that they were reading while crossing the street and got hit by a bus (it could happen!).

And if you get a negative book review: do nothing. If it makes you feel better, put the reviewer on “the people you will snub when you’re rich list” and keep it moving. Don’t respond. Don’t write them telling them that they got your book all wrong and that they’re an idiot. Just pretend the review doesn’t exist and focus on getting more reviews–or writing your next masterpiece.

And if writing letters isn’t your thing, go social! You can post a query on some of the review groups on Goodreads (Goodreads even has some peer review groups that you can join–someone reviews your book and you agree to review theirs in return). If that’s your cup of tea, then go for it! I’ve even seen instances where reviewers will start a thread saying that they’re looking for new authors to review. I’ve also seen authors “@” book reviewers on Twitter with a link to their book. You can also join some of the Facebook author groups and post your info–it’s really up to you! Some other advice: be nice to people. People will probably be more willing to buy and review (good!) books by authors that they actually like.

What about others? What methods do you employ for getting reviews? And if you’re a book reviewer: what are some things that authors do that you wish they didn’t? I’d love to hear your thoughts!


On Writing and Unaccomplished Goals

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Happy Wednesday, Folks! It’s the first Wednesday of the month so you know what that means: it’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group Day! What’s the purpose, you ask? Well, writers from all over come together and discuss our fears and insecurities–all without feeling silly about it. And if you’re a writer reading this, why not join us if you haven’t already???

This month’s cohosts are Megan Morgan, Chris Votey, Viola Fury, Christine Rains, Madeline Mora-Summonte, L.G. Keltner, Rachna Chhabria, and Patricia Lynne! If you can, stop by their blogs, see what they’re up to, and leave some comment love.

Okay, guys. You might have noticed that I haven’t blogged in a couple of weeks (or maybe you haven’t, lol). And that’s because….

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A couple of Thursdays ago, something fantastic happened: my husband and I had our second baby girl!

She was about three weeks ahead of schedule and I have to tell you: I’ve been quite the busy bee. With a one and a half year old, late night feedings for the newborn, and trying to get adjusted to this new “normal,” team no sleep is definitely back in the building (#teamnosleep).

And that leads me to my insecurity for this month. I don’t have the time to write like I used to, and when I have the time, I don’t have the quiet. I know things won’t be like this forever. I mean, kids do grow up–right? (Right???) But in the meanwhile, I have to rest in the knowledge that yes, I may not be producing books at a super fast rate, but at least I haven’t given up and I’m still writing. And even though I haven’t been able to market myself like I’d like to, at least I’m still doing something. It’s easy to get so overwhelmed by all of our life goals that we end up doing nothing, so I’d like to challenge myself (and some of you) to not be so down on ourselves whenever it takes us a tad bit longer to reach our goals (and I’d also like to challenge myself to not get so caught up in goal making and pursuing that I forget to live and enjoy life).

I was listening to the incomparable Les Brown (motivational speaker) recently and he said this quote: “By the yard it’s hard, but inch by inch, it’s a cinch.”

Ain’t that the truth???

 Sure, I haven’t accomplished everything on my goal list, but what matters is that I’m getting there. And I’m pretty sure that same sentiment applies to all of you. Instead of bemoaning all the things we didn’t get to do, maybe we should celebrate the things that we’ve already done. Life is short, you guys. Drink wine. Eat waffles. Be happy. And if you get the chance, then by all means, write.

 Anybody else hard on themselves over unaccomplished goals? I’d love to hear your thoughts!


How Do You Deal With Pushy People Online?

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It’s Monday! Woo-hoo! And guess who still hasn’t been getting any sleep???? Well, at least I managed to make some progress on outlining one of several WIPs this morning—after lying on the couch for an hour trying to will myself back to sleep (and looking at strange music videos with the volume muted). Ah. The perks of waking up at 3 a.m. You should try it, folks:)

So what’s on my mind today? Well, in celebration of No Sleep Mondays (#NSM), I’d like to talk about pushy people online (because when you’re sleep deprived like yours truly, you’re eleven out of ten times more likely to tell a “pushy” person where to stick it).

Here’s the scenario:

I get quite a few book review requests. As I have stated numerous times on this blog, I am not an official book reviewer, per se. I repeat: Quanie is not an official book reviewer.

Don’t believe me? Here’s the proof:

Book Reviewer (from Quanie’s dictionary): noun. Someone who loves to read books, oftentimes with a critical eye. Often solicits authors to submit books for consideration because they have time to read books critically, post a review, and repeat the process as many times as necessary.

Quanie: noun (although can sometimes double as an adjective). Hasn’t been able to read anything since the arrival of Le Munchkin a year and a half ago. Tries to read books, especially by authors she meets online, but has come to the conclusion that she may not get to read another book all the way through until Le Munchkin is in kindergarten. But she’s not a quitter and will continue to try!

So anyway, I get a lot of book review requests, but one request in particular really took the cake. The exchange went something like this:

*Names have been changed to protect the pushy person’s identity*

Cleophis Wonderbutt: Hey, Quanie! Really love your blog! I was wondering: I have a book I’d like you to review. It’s about 150,000 words, mystery, suspense, women’s fiction with a tad bit of paranormal. Oh; and it’s a comedy, too!  I have attached the novel as a word document, but I’d be happy to send you a PDF file if you prefer. I’ve also attached a non disclosure agreement, as I am very weary about this copyright thing.

My apologies in advance for the typos in the manuscript, lol!

All Best,

Cleophis.

Quanie: Cleophis, congratulations on finishing your novel! I know how excited you must be, but I actually don’t review books. Have you tried some of the groups on Goodreads or Googling reviewers in your genre(s) and querying them directly?

Best of luck to you!

Quanie

Cleophis: Quanie, thank you for your response, dear! I understand that you are not reviewing books, but you will not regret this! Can you please please please review my book and post your review on Amazon and Goodreads within the week? I’m on a deadline. Thx. Oh; and I really loved The New Mrs. Collins! Can you please send a copy to my mother?

*Bangs head against keyboard*

You guys, I embellished a bit here, but the exchange above is not too far off from the actual correspondence between me and this author. No wonder I can’t get any sleep! As someone who sends out quite a few book review requests myself, I understand wanting exposure just as much as the next author, but what happened to the days when we took no for an answer, said to ourselves, “When one door closes a window opens somewhere else,” and kept it moving? When does persistence evolve into something else? Like annoyance? Or a nice, ice cold 24 ounce can of whup ass????

Of course, this author isn’t the only pushy person I’ve come across online (I’m looking at you, spammer who keeps sending me an invoice for web services despite the fact that I never hired you), but they had a certain je ne sais quois that really fried my grits. The nerve!

Okay, guys, sorry about the rant! What about others? Even if you haven’t had to deal with overly persistent authors who can’t take no for an answer, what types of pushy people have you dealt with, online or in person? Used car salesmen? Mattress salesmen?

Let’s talk about it!


Why You Shouldn’t Stress About Your Book Sales

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Hello, Everybody! I hope that everyone had a wonderful, relaxing weekend (and that you remembered to set your clocks forward!). I got almost zero sleep last night, but hey; #teamnosleep.

Anyhoo, today I’d like to talk about something that has been on my mind for quite some time. Every now and then, when I’m strolling along these online streets, I’ll run across a heartbreaking post by an author who is upset/confused/derailed by the fact that they’ve had zero or “low” book sales. The case may be that the author has either hired a marketing company to promote their book  and nothing has happened or has tried promoting the book online themselves to no avail. Oftentimes, I’ll look at the author’s profile and see what the “problem” might be:

  1. They don’t have a good book cover.
  2. The blurb might be too vague and/or doesn’t match the feeling evoked by the cover.
  3. They haven’t been able to connect with their target audience (or worse, there’s a very limited market for what they’re writing. Yikes!).

But fourth, and this is often the case, they only have one book! One book!  Most of the time I want to reach out to them with an author-to-author pep talk, letting them know that everything will be fine, but folks are crazy these days and you never know how they’ll respond, so I typically will just do spirit fingers in front of my computer.

Some of you might think I’m crazy (and you’d be right to some extent), but I am a firm believer in the idea that an author shouldn’t stress about his/her book sales.

Chill out people

Why not? 

Well, I’m glad you asked!

Building your platform takes time, and as I’m sure you all know, it can take years for someone to become an overnight success. I’ve spoken ad nauseam here about the Bella Andre/Christina C. Jones approach to building your writing career (write many quality books, and the peoples shall come). Sometimes, all you need to sell a book is…more books! But I know how heartbreaking it can be to put your heart and soul into a project, publish it, and then sit there feeling like nobody cares. It hurts!

Here are a couple of scenarios I’ve seen:

You hire Company A to do your book promotion. You have a blog tour where you might have some cover reveals and do some guest posts and by the end of the week, you expect at least one sale, but when you check your sales report, you’re shocked to discover that:

  1. No one, not even your grandmother (who you gave a Smashwords coupon to), has purchased your book.
  2. Your sales ranking is in the negative twenties.
  3. When you go to Amazon, the “people who also searched for” function is totally wrong! Your book is about ninja cats taking over Manhattan but somehow, your book got grouped with werewolf erotica. The horror!

Or, you opt out of hiring Company A and instead decide to do your marketing yourself. You organize your own blog tour, Tweet until the Twitterverse feels like your own personal heaven, and promote your book like crazy on Facebook. Still, no book sales!

What if I told you that none  of these scenarios are the kiss of death? What if, instead of book sales, with each blog tour or guest post, you’re gaining increased visibility? All this means is brand recognition. For example, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen those doggone Mucinex commercials without really paying attention to what the product was or what they were selling. But after I caught a cold and went to CVS, guess what I found myself looking for? Mucinex! My point is this: putting yourself out there might not lead to sales right away, but as long as you keep writing quality books (and keep your name out there through blogging, Twitter, Facebook, etc), that increased visibility can eventually lead to a reader saying, “Hey! I’ve heard this name before. And this book looks like something I might like. I think I shall give this author a try.” And booya; a match made in author/reader heaven. Doesn’t that just give you all the smileys???

Now, I know this might not be comforting to some of our author pals who want best seller status right away. And you know what? There’s nothing wrong with wanting to make a living as an author! But it might take Author A a tad bit longer than Author B to build their audience, and comparing our journey to success to someone else’s  will just lead to heartache, heartburn, and possible hair loss, and I don’t know about ya’ll but I needs my edges (#saveouredges). So instead of always quantifying your book marketing efforts in terms of book sales, how about considering it a success when more people have been exposed to you and your work–something that can potentially help the sales of subsequent releases???

What about others? Am I being too romantic here? Is increased visibility just as valuable as book sales? How do you quantify your marketing efforts? I’d love to hear your thoughts!


Overcoming That Murky Middle – Guest Post by Stephanie Faris

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Happy Monday, All! Today author and blogger Stephanie Faris is taking over here at Quanie Talks Writing and talking about something that we writers sometimes dread: that murky middle! Stephanie is sharing some awesome tips in case you find yourself in the murky middle without a paddle (or boat!). She’s also sharing the cover for the latest book in her Piper Morgan series, Piper Morgan To The Rescue. Isn’t that cover just too darn cute??? Feel free to add the book to your Goodreads shelf and connect with Stephanie online (links below).

Enjoy!

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“The Murky Middle.” Strange name for it, isn’t it? I remember first hearing the term back in the 90s, as part of a Romance Writers of America workshop. I was so excited to finally hear someone else say what I’d been thinking since the day I wrote my first novel: the middle is the hardest part.

Some of you may disagree. For you, the hardest part is the beginning, when you’re staring at a blank page with a blinking cursor that seems to be taunting you. Some find the ending the most difficult, when it’s time to tie up every loose end and bring everything to a satisfying conclusion. For me, though, I don’t truly begin to think about abandoning my novel until at least Chapter Six. If I can push through that and get to the big dark moment three-fourths of the way through, I’m usually home free.

If you’ve found yourself getting stuck midway through your novel, it could be because you fly by the seat of your pants like me. I’ve spoken to plotters who never quite experience the murky middle. Even if they do, they have a handy-dandy carefully-plotted outline to consult. For non-plotters like me, the midway point is tough because we have to make serious decisions while we’re writing.

Even though I’m not a planner, I’ve found it helps to stop and write a synopsis midway through. I give myself permission to change the direction of the story if necessary, but at least I get my overall plot on paper. This can often help me past that point of the book where I’m ready to abandon the entire project and start on something new. If a synopsis seems too formal, grab a piece of paper and draw the character arc. Where is your main character at the beginning of the book? What does she need to go through to be where she is at the end of the book?

Writing a book is a huge accomplishment. Sometimes we take that for granted. But if you’re like me, midway through you realize exactly how difficult it is. Hopefully these tips will help the next time you get stuck!

 

Piper Morgan to the Rescue JPEG

 

Blurb:
Piper helps some four-legged friends find the perfect home in the third book of the brand-new Piper Morgan series.

Piper is super excited to help out at Bark Street, a local animal shelter in town. Who wouldn’t want to be surrounded by adorable puppies and dogs all day? And when Piper sees Taffy, the cutest dog she has ever seen, Piper is determined to find a way to bring Taffy home. But it won’t be easy—especially when she finds out someone else wants to make Taffy a part of their family, too!

Stephanie Faris

Stephanie Faris knew she wanted to be an author from a very young age. In fact, her mother often told her to stop reading so much and go outside and play with the other kids. After graduating from Middle Tennessee State University with a Bachelor of Science in broadcast journalism, she somehow found herself working in information technology. But she never stopped writing.

Stephanie is the Simon & Schuster author of 30 Days of No Gossip and 25 Roses, as well as the upcoming Piper Morgan series. When she isn’t crafting fiction, she writes for a variety of online websites on the topics of business, technology, and her favorite subject of all—fashion. She lives in Nashville with her husband, a sales executive.

 

Links:
Website

Blog

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

 

 


How to Deal with What to Write Next-itis

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Hello, All! Today is the first Wednesday of the month so you know what that means: another installment of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Writers from all over unite to unfurl our fears and insecurities uponst the world. You should join us!

The IWSG cohosts for this month are Lauren Hennessy, Lisa Buie-Collard, Lidy Wilks, Christine Rains, and Mary Aalgaard!

And if you missed it yesterday,  IWSG cohost and poet Lidy Wilks kicked off her blog tour right here on Quanie Talks Writing. I hope you’ll check out her post on how she’s been building her platform as a poet and enter the giveaway for her poetry chapbook, Can You Catch My Flow?

So. Here I am on this lovely 2nd of March, pulling my hair out over what novel to write next. Last week I wrote about the horror novel in progress that probably needs a switch in POV (as awesome blogger Diedre Knight brilliantly suggested), but that novel isn’t necessarily next in the que, if you Netflixers get what I mean. Writing is a lot like dating; you go out for coffee a few times and realize that even though you kinda sorta like the manuscript, you’re not exactly ready to commit, and then you abandon it (or stop calling, whatever your process may be), only to wonder several months later, “I wonder what’s going on with that first person narrative paranormal story about the guy with the missing toe? I wonder how he’s doing? I should totally check in.”

Well, that’s how it’s been for me. Lots of hits and misses these days (and a dream the other night about a possible sequel to The New Mrs. Collins). And to make matters worse? All of these story ideas are…good! And that’s my problem. It’s like trying to choose your favorite child. They’re all my favorites!

I’ve been racking my brain about this and I’ve asked myself some questions to try to come to a solution:

  1. What makes sense in terms of a follow up to my upcoming release? Based on that particular book, what might readers want to see next?
  2. What book is the most “ready” of the bunch?
  3. Of all the ideas that I have, what’s the “best” one? (The hardest question to answer.)
  4. Of all the ideas that I have, what might be the easiest project to tackle (I ask myself this as my muse laughs like Darth Vader in the background).
  5. The worst question of them all: which book is the most “commercially viable”? This is something that no one knows the answer to. I could totally write the novel about the guy with the missing toe and if it skyrockets on the best seller’s list, publishers will be asking you all for stories about hunters with no big toe. Nobody can call it!

These questions are a good place to start (even though some of the answers conflict), but my biggest issue is something that I’ve touched on here before: the fact that I unintentionally write in multiple genres. This isn’t something I do because I get bored and like to switch it up; my muse has a wicked sense of humor and GNFs (gives no f*cks) about me building a loyal audience by writing and publishing books in the same genre. Nope. My muse is gangsta like that. In fact, after I’ve written a romantic comedy, southern paranormal, and mystery/suspense (upcoming), my muse is now trying to get me to write a dystopian novel, because as I’ve said,  GNFs.

So that’s where I am, you guys. Spinning my wheels and dealing with this huge bout of what to write next-itis. Any suggestions for me? How do you guys deal when you’re not certain which project to tackle next? What are some things that help you decide? I’d love to hear your thoughts!


How I’m Building My Poetry Platform – Guest Post by Lidy Wilks

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Happy Tuesday, Everybody! Today I am super excited because I have poet and blogger extraordinaire, Lidy Wilks, guest hosting today! She’s talking about how she’s building her platform as a poet. I find this fascinating because my poetry abilities are severely limited to “Roses are Red” type of rhymes (pray for me, ya’ll). So I definitely have to give Lidy her props because writing poetry ain’t easy! Lidy is also hosting a giveaway for her poetry chapbook, Can You Catch My Flow? Any poetry lovers in the house? Make sure you enter Lidy’s giveaway below and add the chapbook to your Goodreads shelf by clicking here.

Congrats, Lidy!

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So how have I been building my platform as a poet?

Simple. By writing and sharing my poetry. And engaging with other poets.

I’m on at least four poetry groups on Scribophile.com. There I’ve met a lot of talented and inspiring poets who are eager to help you write the best poem you possibly can.

I also share my poems on my blog, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. This has worked well in gaining followers. Especially on Instagram, because I like to pair images with my poetry. As well as using hashtags like #poetry, #instapoet and #poetsofinstagram. A few of my poems are even featured on Verse Wrights, an online poetry community. And I’ve begun to recite my own poems and upload it on SoundCloud too.

Another way I’m building my poetry platform is by sharing the poetry I’ve read and liked on social media. All thanks to Poets.org and their Poem-A-Day series, which sends me new poems every day. I also like sharing poetry readings featured by Button Poetry. Which helped me to discover new poets to follow, like Sarah Kay. You must listen to the poetry reading of her poem “The Type” that has snagged me as her latest fan.

Poetry is not your money generating genre. Or a genre big publishers like to publish for the same reason. All the same, it is also why I try to pay it forward and feature as many poets on my blog as I much as I can. And by liking and retweeting poetry tweets on Twitter. Pinning and sharing poems on Pinterest and Facebook.

Last April, I featured thirty poet interviews for National Poetry Month(NaPoMo) on my blog. This year, I plan to share thirty of my favorite poems. Some will be classics and some written by today’s poets. I’ll be participating in the 30 poems in 30 days challenge as well.

By the end of the day, my true goal is to have my poetry read and enjoyed. For readers to feel a connection with every word and every line. To write more poems, chapbooks and poetry collections. Submit them to literary magazines and journals. To one day be short listed and win a poetry book prize. Be one of the featured poets in the Poem-A-Day series. And in the short haul, stand on a stage in front of a mic and recite my poems to an audience. Hopefully without fainting first.

 

 

Can you catch my flow - book cover

 

Title: Can You Catch My Flow?

Publisher: CreateSpace

Genre: Poetry

Release Date: February 25, 2016

About The Book:

Debut poetry chapbook Can You Catch My Flow? captures the everyday ordinary events of the human condition in poetic snapshots. No matter the walks of life, the reader is sure to find themselves within the lines.

Blurb:

Lidy’s poetry reveals an understanding that deep meaning can be felt in the details. Her poetry portrays a range of topics from the pressures to conform to societal expectations, friendship, monarch butterflies, partying, insomnia, and the quest for peace…just to name a few. Enjoy!- Shelah L. Maul

Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon Canada | eCreate Store

Show some Tweet love!: We all grow up sometime… Can You Catch My Flow? #ebook now free on #smashwords w/ coupon code YP99N until March 7, 2016

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Lidy Wilks 

Ever since she was young, Lidy Wilks was often found completely submerged in the worlds of Dickens, Louisa May Alcott, Sweet Valley High and Nancy Drew. She later went on to earn a Bachelor degree in English with a concentration in Creative Writing, from Franklin Pierce University. Where she spent the next four years knee deep in fiction, poetry and creative non-fiction workshops.

Lidy is the author of Can You Catch My Flow? a poetry chapbook and is a member of Write by the Rails. She currently resides in Virginia with her husband and two children. And an anime, book and manga library, she’s looking to expand, one day adding an Asian drama DVD collection. Lidy continues her pursuit in writing more poetry collections and fantasy novels. All the while eating milk chocolate and sipping a glass of Cabernet. Or Riesling wine.

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