Tag Archives: guest post

7 Gift Ideas for Writers


by Joanna Maciejewska

Do you struggle with gift ideas for writers in your life?

Years ago, shortly after I met my significant other, we talked about gifts and how hard it was sometimes to pick a perfect gift for a friend or a family member. He said then, “Getting one for you would be easy. You like reading, so I could just walk into a bookstore and get you some book.” I froze in horror. Of course, I liked reading, but I was also very picky about my reads. “Any book” just wouldn’t do it.

It’s similar when it comes to gifts for writers. Writing software? What if they already have it or prefer another one? A book on writing craft? They probably have a dozen or so of them. The safest bet seems to be a gift card to a bookstore or a stationery store where they can pick their own tools and crafts books.

7 Gift Ideas for Writers

What if you want to be more personal? What if you want to show your writer friend that you care about them? And what if you’re like me and you want to get a gift for yourself? (Because no one knows you better than you do, right?)

Here are some personalized gift ideas for writers.

Mugs

Writers drink a lot. Whether it’s tea, coffee, or water, they need to drink it from somewhere, and having a mug that no one else at home is allowed to touch might make their passion for writing a little bit more special.

Romance mug, Mystery Writers mug, and Guilt Trip mug.

Phone cases and skins

Many writers create their stories in coffee shops, so they don’t really need a mug. Gifting them a phone case or skin will make them feel like a writer even when they aren’t sitting at their desk, surrounded by their books and motivational posters. It would also be a reason for them to keep their phone’s screen down, so you’d be saving them from the social media distractions!

Writer’s creative process, Love Writing (sometimes), and Write/Edit/Repeat phone cases and skins.

Stickers and Buttons

What if your writer friend already has their favorite mug or doesn’t use a smartphone? A collection of dedicated stickers and buttons can be a solution: it would help them to customize their favorite items (Notebooks? Pencil case? Laptop bag?) and add just a little bit of the writerly edge without being too obvious.

Buttons: Writing makes everything better!, We find a way or we find excuses, Book Wyrm.

Stickers: I’m a Writer for Life, Warning! Ideas are brewing, 10 Minute Novelists.

T-shirts

Nothing says “writer” like a special t-shirt that can be both worn proudly in public or be the sit-at-the-desk-writing uniform.

Be Quiet! t-shirt, Write/Edit/Repeat v-neck, I’m a Writer for Life tank top.

Notebooks

Even if they do most of their writing on their laptops or iPads, writers still use a ton of notebooks and will likely welcome any number of new ones. Because a new notebook means new ideas, new projects, and a lot more words written down.

Notebooks: Writer’s creative process, Warning! Ideas are brewing, Write/Edit/Repeat.

A conference!

Conferences are one of the ways the writers grow. They get to listen to great speakers talking about writing craft and publishing industry. They also get to meet like-minded people who share their passion, and they find encouragement to keep working.

There are many conferences available throughout the year, but the one I’m going to mention is special. It’s the 10 Minute Novelists’ very own conference, prepared “by writers for writers”. It has three great speakers, and – what’s most important – it’s the first one ever which makes it extra special.

If you think that it would be a good gift for a writer you know or even for yourself, you can learn all the details here.

Any other gift ideas for writers?

These are just a few gifts ideas for writers, and there’s so much more to explore. If your writer friend likes bullet journals or planners, stickers could accompany a plain planner in a DYI customization. A tote bag could be perfect for all those book fairs when one has to carry away the newly acquired books (all were “the must-buy” cases!).

What would be your ideas? And if you’re a writer yourself, what would you like to receive?

All the items were taken from 10 Minute Outfitters and JMM Designs online shops. You can browse them for more items and designs, and take advantage of Black Friday offers.


Joanna MaciejewskaJoanna Maciejewska is a fantasy and science-fiction writer who was born in Poland, spent a little under a decade in Ireland, and now resides in Arizona. She had stories published in Polish magazines (“Nowa Fantastyka”, “Science-Fiction Fantasy i Horror”) and anthologies (Fabryka Słów, Replika, Solaris), and she also writes in English (“Fiction Vortex”, “Phantaxis”). You can find out more about her and her stories at melfka.com or follow her on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram.

Plan Your Conferences The Right Way

by Jane Steen

It’s Conference Season!

What now?

Ever finished a conference season feeling you didn’t get much value for your money? Or are you still waiting to go to your first writers’ conference, paralyzed by the choices out there or worried about the cost? Here are some practical tips to help you approach next year’s conferences in great shape.

 

Decide on your needs

It’s best to approach conference season in light of your unique needs. Do you need to soak up advice about the writing craft? Do you want to learn about self-publishing? Do you want to pitch a story to agents? Do you want to make connections within your genre? Take a few minutes and write down your goals for next year. Then write down the one thing you’d like to achieve to make that year shine for you.

Make a shortlist

Don’t just focus on that conference your friend always goes to and which sounds cool. Search on “writers conference” and research what’s out there, then make a shortlist of conferences that might fit your needs and research some more. Make a spreadsheet to record the vital stats of each conference on your list—where it’s to be held, how much it costs, and what kind of sessions, workshops, classes or opportunities it offered this year (because next year’s offerings won’t be publicized until quite near the conference date).

Plan your time

When making your shortlist, note the dates of those conferences and compare them with your work and home calendars. Think about graduations, house moves, milestone events for family members, and work commitments for you and anyone else who’s going to be needed at home while you’re away. You might even need to plan around medical needs—if you know you’re heading for a knee replacement, get it done well before the conference.

Calculate the cost

There’s nothing worse than drawing near to the date of a conference and then realizing it’s going to make a much bigger hole in your bank account than you’d thought. Especially since conference fees are often non-refundable past a certain date, as the conference organizers have to make financial commitments based on the fees they’ve received. So be smart—once you’ve figured out one to three hot contenders for your time and money, calculate just how much money that’s going to be. You’ll be paying for the conference fee, a hotel stay, possibly meals (check this), travel to and from the conference, a new outfit or two and about $200 in incidental expenses. Think of the conference as a working vacation in an expensive resort, and you’ll get the picture.

If you’re not going to be able to afford the total cost of the conference, don’t sign up.

Don’t just assume the money will be there when you need it. Strategize alternatives—could you forgo a vacation to pay for the conference (negotiate this with your spouse if you have one)? Could you go to the cheaper local conference instead? Could you stay with a friend instead of at the hotel, or share a hotel room? Does the conference award scholarships, and how do you apply?

Be careful if you’re asked to be on a panel or help present a workshop at a conference, as many conferences expect presenters to work for nothing or next to nothing, to pay for their hotel room and travel, etc. If finances are an issue, make sure you know what the deal is before you say yes. Dropping out later because you’ve realized you can’t afford the trip will be awkward all round.

Support 10 Minute Novelists

Register early

If you’ve ascertained you can afford your target conference, sign up as early as you can. The early bird usually gets lower fees, the most favorable hotel rate, and guaranteed participation in events that fill up fast. Make a note of the date past which there’s no refund for cancellations, and set a reminder to review your schedule before the no-refund date to make sure nothing new has cropped up at work or at home.

Want to pitch? Research your agents

If you’re signing up for a conference because you have a manuscript to pitch to an agent or publisher, or think you’ll have one ready by the conference date, research those industry professionals meticulously before you sign up. You might only get one or two pitch sessions, so make sure you’re pitching to the very best fit you can find. And if you draw near the conference date and realize your manuscript won’t be ready after all, contact the organizers and release your spots to someone else. Don’t pitch an incomplete manuscript.

If you find these suggestions helpful, let us know in the comments. I have a few more for you—and perhaps Katharine will let me come back again!


Historical Romance Author Jane Steen

Jane Steen was born in England and, despite having spent more years out of the British Isles than in, still has a British accent according to just about every American she meets.
Around the edges of her professional occupations and raising children, she stuck her nose in a book at every available opportunity and at one time seemed on course to become the proverbial eternal student. Common sense prevailed, though, and eventually she had the bright idea of putting her passion for books together with her love of business and writing to become a self-published author.
Jane has lived in three countries and is currently to be found in the Chicago suburbs with her long-suffering husband and two adult daughters. Her book, House of Closed Doors can be found here. 

Five Signs To Keep Writers From Going Wrong

By TLC Nielsen

Are you a Writer Gone Wrong?

10 minute novelists are an upbeat, happy group of writers striving to be all they can word-ly be.

But unbeknownst to many is another, small group of writers who hoard their words, shudder from social interaction with other (competing) authors, and cannot restrain themselves from talking/chatting/emailing about their books, blogs and other writings far more than necessary. This group of writers took dangerous forks on the writerly road, ending up down a path they never intended to take.

Here are 5 road signs to keep you, and me, from joining Writers Gone Wrong!

5 Road Signs To Keep Writers From Going Wrong by TLC Nielsen

Road Sign #1 Writing Conferences- To go or Not to go

Beware the path that leads you away from attending writing conferences. I’m thankful my writing path started 6 years ago when a persistent writing friend invited me to a local, annual writing conference. Yes, it was expensive, but so is any 4-day conference with room and board attached. It took two years of writing for a scholarship before I won a full-ride award. By attending this conference, I moved from being an amateur writer to becoming a serious wordsmith. I proved to myself, my family and other writers that I was “in it to win it.” I have gone to a yearly writing conference ever since and I wouldn’t have finished my novel without the support I found there. Attending a conference also gave me a deadline, making me work harder and smarter to have my one-sheet, short biography, and manuscripts ready to go.

Road Sign #2 Word Hoarding versus Sharing

Finding an amazing critique group requires some hunting and some sacrifice of time but the alternative is scary. Left to themselves, writers gone wrong will think everything they’ve written is amazing or, more like me, that it all stinks and should be destroyed before anyone can smell, I mean read it. Writers need to be actively involved with a peer group of fellow wordsmiths they can trust to help them edit and improve. The first draft isn’t called the “vomit” draft1 for no reason.

It took me three years of attending that local writing conference before I found a handful of writers who lived close enough to me to start a critique group. I trust these writers because of their keen insight and the amazing works they share with the group. I had been involved with a library writers’ group previously, which left me scarred and scared; there were a few alpha writers who positioned themselves to be in control. That was my first experience with writers gone wrong and it took me ten years before I would try again. So, as a self-confessed word hoarder, I implore all writers to become word sharers, even if it means starting your own critique group and having to be its president for a few years. The benefits far outweigh the sacrifice.

“Writers need to be actively involved with a peer group of fellow wordsmiths they can trust to help them edit and improve.” — TLC Nielsen

It’s truly an honor and privilege for me to be involved with the serious writers in the On the Border chapter. When this group first started, we looked at a variety of organizations before choosing to join Word Weavers, International. These organizations are a great way to get support and find writing groups in your area. I joined the 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook about the same time my critique group started and my fellow writers, both online and in-person, are responsible for my success as a word sharer on this word-strewn journey…together.

I joined the 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook about the same time my critique group started and my fellow writers, both online and in-person, are responsible for my success as a word sharer on this word-strewn journey…together.

Road Sign #3 Lone Ranger or Accountability Partner – that is the question

Writers who’ve gone wrong may sometimes attend a writing conference and occasionally pop into a critique group. They may be too much of the lone ranger type to seek out a mentor or accountability partner. When I attended my first conference five years ago, the presenters hammered out the trifecta of writer success: conferences, critique groups and one-on-one relationships. Eugene H. Peterson in a 2017 publication summed it up well: “I am not myself by myself.”2 He may have been referring to the church, but I think his statement stands for writers – I am not my writerly self by myself. If no one reads my words, I am simply a journal writer, not an author. To be an authentic author takes accountability, sometimes the uncomfortable kind.

Road Sign #4 Using Your Writerly Powers for Good or…

Do you give or take in your writing? Literary agent Leslie Stobbe said if you want to be a writer, then write! 3 Find an organization to use your skills to help, for the need of volunteer writers is vast. There are numerous ways to use your word powers for good. Here are two basic mainstays: always a) quote your sources and b) ask for permission to use other folks’ words whenever possible.

However, there can be a dark side to having writerly powers, when it’s too easy for authors to stray into taking more than they give.  Oh, they may pretend to offer something for free but there’s a catch – you owe them. A true gift comes with no strings attached. It takes dedicated effort to use words to help others, whether offering to write guest blogs for writer friends, volunteering free writing services to a worthy organization, or sending thoughtful letters to others – just give back full-heartedly. And remember the advice from Leslie, if you’re a writer – then write.

“Being a participating member of 10 Minute Novelists is a great start!”

— TLC Nielsen

Road Sign #5 Decimal Point Growth or Decline

In chatting with my mother, a published botanist, she encouraged me to mention becoming Decimal Point writers, “people who are incrementally increasing their skills.”4 She clarified that even though 1.4 writers are still considered at “1” a small increase to 1.6 catapults them towards “2.”

Writers who have gone wrong, however, tend to think in extremes – I’m a “10+” or I’m a “0”. I’m learning to celebrate the small incremental steps of my writing journey in order to dodge the doubt that plagues me. My small successes include reading books for pleasure while on the stationary bike, writing a monthly blog and bringing something, anything, to the critique group to which I belong. I’m also entrusting my novel to beta readers, a step of trust in my word-ly journey. 

While my book has not been published yet, I hold on to the 10 minutes a day commitment that gets me ever closer to my goal. 

The choices writers make EACH DAY will either expand or contract their growth: in conference attendance, word sharing commitment, community mindfulness and accountability and, most importantly, in giving back.


1 Bob Hostetler, WTP 2016 conference, Wheaton, Illinois. “Vomit draft” quote, source unknown.

2 Eugene H. Peterson, CT Pastors: “The State of Church Ministry in America”, 2017 (p. 30)

3 Leslie Stobbe, WTP 2012 conference, Wheaton, Illinois

4 Botanist Linda W. Curtis, self-published author of three books on plants:

Aquatic Plants of Northeastern Illinois, Bog-Fen Carex of the Upper Midwest and Woodland Carex of the Upper Midwest.  Permission granted


TLC Nielsen fights her writer-gone-wrong tendencies by being the current VP of the Word Weavers On the Border writing chapter, mentoring new attendees at a local writing conference, and belonging to the 10 MN group. She’s editing her first novel, By Land or Sea, and will be attending only one conference this year, at her spouse’s request. She uses her writerly powers for the better by occasionally judging book contests. Her decimal point increases include playing trombone on Rich Rubietta’s CD Resting Places, contributing a story on p. 68 of I Believe in Healing by Cecil Murphey and Twila Belk, belonging to the 365 Writing Club here at 10 MN as well as interviewing ordinary folks with extraordinary stories at this monthly blog: https://lookandbe.blogspot.com.  You can find her occasionally on Twitter as Read2Mii2.

7 Ways To Keep Your Buzz & Write Drunk — By Elaine Bayless

 

“Write drunk. Edit sober.”

Easy enough, right? It means to write without boundaries, loose and wild and out of control. Thoughtful word selection and complex grammatical decisions belong in the world of editing. And yet, how often do you “lose your buzz” and start editing right in the middle of writing? How do you write drunk?

During Nanowrimo each year I see dozens of people falling into the editing trap when they should be writing. I get it: I’ve been trapped by those some concerns too. But nothing kills the possibility of finishing your work faster than accidentally falling into editing mode.

7 Ways To Keep Your Buzz and Write Drunk by Elaine Bayless

Here’s 7 ways to keep your buzz and write drunk.

7. DON’T worry about legal issues.

When was the last time a drunk person considered the legal ramifications of her actions? Not recently enough.

Every year at Nanowrimo I see people asking about the legal ramifications of using a real place, or referencing a real person, or quoting song lyrics. Go ahead, use the real place, the real company, the real person. Maybe your book will turn into speculative fiction, or historical fiction. Maybe you’ll just change the name and identifying details when publication time comes. Allow your muse to reference the real people & places for the rough draft and worry about copyright law later.

You will never finish a book if you spend your writing time researching copyright laws.

6. DON’T get stuck on names.

I don’t have to be drunk or even tipsy to mess up someone’s name. But alcohol can certainly kill our ability to learn someone’s name.

In my last Nanowrimo book, one of my characters was a high priestess. I couldn’t think of a name for her, so I labeled her “HP” in my character list. I called her HP throughout the entire 50,000 word draft. In another place, I needed a place name and couldn’t think of one, so I called it “Camp Nanowrimo.”

Now, of course names are important, especially if you are doing world-building for your work. But crafting the perfect name is not a good use of writing time: it’s a good use of planning and editing time. Writing drunk means using placeholders for names so you can keep the flow of words going.

5. DON’T do any research.

When a group of friends drinking together decide to do something, do they let a little lack of knowledge stand in their way? Heck no! They dive right in.

As writers, we often tumble into situations when we need to do a little research. Maybe you’re writing a typical day in your main character’s life, when suddenly your character decides to bake a soufflé. But you don’t know how to bake a soufflé: you just know it involves eggs and ovens and not stomping around the house.

You can spend the next 2 hours watching YouTube videos on how to bake soufflés, or you can write what you know and then insert a note that says “Research soufflé baking” in the text itself. You’ll see the note while editing and then you can plan two hours of soufflé research. Nothing kills a writing buzz faster than educational YouTube viewing, after all.

4. DO relish your inconsistent verb tenses and incorrect grammar.

Have you ever listened to a tipsy person tell a story, and get the sequence all messed up? It’s hard to keep events in the proper order when you’re intoxicated, and the same thing is true of rough draft writing.

I have the bad habit of starting a scene in the present tense, and later slipping into past tense. It drives me nuts, and makes editing a real pain. But stopping the flow of words because you need to correct verb tenses or look up the proper grammatical construction is exactly what sober editing is for. Write in whatever tense you need to use.

3. DO use personal references as shortcuts

Sometimes instead of a cliché, you have an inside joke or personal experience that works in your writing. For example, my husband and I have this inside joke: “Sad Superman flies in half circles.” Isn’t that hilarious? No? You don’t get it? That’s OK. Drunk people will tell you the entire story of the sad Superman half circles, and you won’t think it’s funny before or after the explanation! If I’m writing, and my muse tells me to write: “She knew Dogalog was sad by the way he flew in Superman half circles,” I’m going to write that. I know exactly what that means, and when I edit it, I will be able to sit down and leisurely craft a dozen accessible metaphors for my readers.  Write drunk. The humor comes later in sober editing. [NOTE TO Katharine – might be a good place to link to your post about how to write humor?]

2. DO use clichés.

Do drunk people take the time to choose pretty words? Nope, and neither should you. This is a rough draft. And if it’s Nanowrimo, it’s a rough draft that needs to be written quickly. So you’ve just written “He was as dead as a doornail” in your draft, and you are cringing (deservedly). You can either use writing time to create a different simile, or you can add those seven words to your count and keep going.

Write the cliché and move on.

1. DO write terribly.

Have you ever seen something created by a drunk person? It’s usually terrible.  Alcohol gives us confidence in our worst ideas. That’s bad for actions, but great for writing. (Remember, we’re not ACTUALLY drunk, just WRITING drunk.)

I find this works best when I’m approaching a scene I really just don’t want to write. For example: Your main character is about to get married in a big floofy wedding that is the exact opposite of anything you would choose. As you start writing, you realized that you know nothing about this kind of wedding. You can throw your hands up in despair, or just go with it. Write: “She walked down the aisle, an aisle filled with flowers and those thingys on the ends of the pews, on a burlap runner, with a long train and big Princess Diana wedding dress, watching the men lined up at the front place.” Now that’s awful. But it’s 42 words more than you would’ve written while browsing Pinterest for wedding ideas and terminology. And now you have a kernel of writing that can be edited into paragraphs of lyrical text.

To write drunk, you don’t have to consume copious amounts of alcohol. You just have to loosen up and let the words flow from your mind, not worrying about the end result. Have fun!

 


Elaine Bayless Elaine Bayless is a life coach, pastoral counselor, and Reiki Master in Raleigh, NC. She works with overwhelmed moms and over achieving perfectionists to help them create a delicious life of ease and joy. Elaine is a prolific writer, maintaining two blogs and publishing articles on elephant journal, Mind Body Green, and LinkedIn. In her spare time she bakes bread, reads, and gardens. She graduated from Regent University in 2009, with a Master’s degree in Divinity and Pastoral Counseling, as well as a peer coach certification. In 2016 she completed training as a Reiki Master. Check out her website at [http://www.soulcourse.com] or schedule a one hour stress relieving chat at [http://www.talkwithelaine.com]

Follow Elaine at [http://www.twitter.com/elainefbayless]

Listen to Elaine at [https://www.youtube.com/user/inspirecoachelaine]

And Friend Elaine at [http://www.facebook.com/inspirationcoaches]

LOOK IN EMAIL FOR PHOTO

Why I Write — By Paula Kelly Ince (A Series By The Writers of 10 Minute Novelists)

Why I Write by Paula Kelly Ince

When I read this quote from Philip Pullman everything inside me shouted; yes!

Fiction is my first love – I fell in love with fiction long before I fell in love with any boys or girls. I come from a large, chaotic family and whilst we all love one another, there is always some sort of drama going on, always has been. I was the eldest of five, on top of which my parents were emergency foster carers, so we regularly had neglected and abused children arriving on our doorstep at various times of the day and night and staying for anything between a few days and several months.

Story books were my refuge, my inner sanctum, they were the place I went to when the chaos outside got too much. My love of reading soon translated into a love of writing and despite being a painfully slow writer, (which I still am) I began writing about life through stories in primary school. I don’t just write fiction; I also write poetry and I have a blog in which I write about family, life and my experience of battling depression. However, as with reading, fiction is my first love.

Why do I write?
Why I Write: A Series from the authors of 10 Minute Novelists

Writing fiction is not only instinctive for me, it is also essential. Through writing stories I make sense of the world. Through the creation of characters and situations I convey meaning in a way that is totally, and sometimes brutally, honest.

Last year I undertook a Masters by research. My main subject was the eighteenth-century Romanic poet, Mary Robinson. In it I considered how Robinson’s image has been manipulated and misrepresented in order to discredit her feminist writings. Integrated within the critical writing were four stories. Whilst it is extremely rare to have fiction interpolated within a critical piece, for me it was an essential part of the process.

Understanding the complex interplay of identity, perception and representation involves exploring personal prejudice, both historical and current. However, asking someone to consider how their prejudices interfere with their perception of others is like giving them a nut without any means of breaking into it.

Writing a story about the particular aspect of prejudice you are trying to explore is like giving them a nut and a nutcracker; there’s now a way in. Like Virginia Wolf, I believe that often fiction ‘is likely to contain more truth than fact.’ This is in large part why a considerable portion of the gospels are told through the medium of parables.

Stories are essential to our understanding of the world and how it functions. We tell our children stories to help them understand how to function in society. The social and individual importance of storytelling, demonstrated through myths and fables is fascinating. Storytelling helps us to explore issues which are unpleasant, uncomfortable or are socially taboo. We only have to look at traditional folk tales to see the importance that a variety of societies place on storytelling. Fairy stories contain gems of information regarding social roles and values which parents impart to their children as they tuck them into bed.

On a deep level we have always understood that stories are more instructive than, say, a set of instructions. It seems counter-intuitive, however, it’s easy to argue with or dismiss a set of instructions but a good story leaves you ruminating and asking questions about it long after you have finished reading it. Stories have the capacity to hold up a mirror and turn on the light; through them we get to see ourselves and one another more clearly and more honestly.

By nature I’m a bit of a people pleaser; I don’t like to hurt or offend, I like to keep the peace. Consequently, I’m often quite measured about what I say; I consider the way what I say or write could be interpreted or misinterpreted. It’s considerate, it’s polite, it’s kind, but it’s not completely honest. This desire not to offend extends to how I write my blog and to a lesser degree how I write my poetry. It is only in my fiction that I feel I have the freedom not to censure myself. Because fiction is made up it enables me to be totally honest. I can paint pictures that reflect society as it is and people as they are; no editing, and that is so liberating.

It gives me a freedom that I don’t experience anywhere else and is the reason why, after all this time, my first love has not faded.


Why I Write By Paula Kelly IncePaula Kelly-Ince is a mum, nana, and writer – pretty much in that order. Along with an expanding waist line, creaky knees and the suspicion that she really would benefit from taking up yoga, middle age is offering her lots of new perspectives. The most shocking of these is the realization that her youthful dreams of being a well-rounded, fully-functioning human being, like her adolescent dreams of being the next Madonna / Mother Theresa / Enid Blyton (dreams alternated, depending on mood and current level of altruism), were indeed just that; dreams. Consequently, dreams have been adjusted and re-named goals (goals sound much more achievable). She now aspires to be dysfunctionally happy, and her blog, A Guide to Getting Life Wrong, is a documentation of the triumphs and failures in the achievement of her newly lowered goals.

Plan Next Year’s Conference(s) The Right Way — A Guest Post by Jane Steen

Ever finished a conference season feeling you didn’t get much value for your money? Or are you still waiting to go to your first writers’ conference, paralyzed by the choices out there or worried about the cost? Here are some practical tips to help you approach next year’s conferences in great shape.

-- A GUEST POST BY JANE STEEN

Decide on your needs

It’s best to approach conference season in light of your unique needs. Do you need to soak up advice about the writing craft? Do you want to learn about self-publishing? Do you want to pitch a story to agents? Do you want to make connections within your genre? Take a few minutes and write down your goals for next year. Then write down the one thing you’d like to achieve to make that year shine for you.

Make a shortlist

Don’t just focus on that conference your friend always goes to and which sounds cool. Search on “writers conference” and research what’s out there, then make a shortlist of conferences that might fit your needs and research some more. Make a spreadsheet to record the vital stats of each conference on your list—where it’s to be held, how much it costs, and what kind of sessions, workshops, classes or opportunities it offered this year (because next year’s offerings won’t be publicized until quite near the conference date).

Plan your time

When making your shortlist, note the dates of those conferences and compare them with your work and home calendars. Think about graduations, house moves, milestone events for family members, and work commitments for you and anyone else who’s going to be needed at home while you’re away. You might even need to plan around medical needs—if you know you’re heading for a knee replacement, get it done well before the conference.

Calculate the cost

There’s nothing worse than drawing near to the date of a conference and then realizing it’s going to make a much bigger hole in your bank account than you’d thought. Especially since conference fees are often non-refundable past a certain date, as the conference organizers have to make financial commitments based on the fees they’ve received. So be smart—once you’ve figured out one to three hot contenders for your time and money, calculate just how much money that’s going to be. You’ll be paying for the conference fee, a hotel stay, possibly meals (check this), travel to and from the conference, a new outfit or two and about $200 in incidental expenses. Think of the conference as a working vacation in an expensive resort, and you’ll get the picture.

If you’re not going to be able to afford the total cost of the conference, don’t sign up. Don’t just assume the money will be there when you need it. Strategize alternatives—could you forgo a vacation to pay for the conference (negotiate this with your spouse if you have one)? Could you go to the cheaper local conference instead? Could you stay with a friend instead of at the hotel, or share a hotel room? Does the conference award scholarships, and how do you apply?

Be careful if you’re asked to be on a panel or help present a workshop at a conference, as many conferences expect presenters to work for nothing or next to nothing, to pay for their hotel room and travel, etc. If finances are an issue, make sure you know what the deal is before you say yes. Dropping out later because you’ve realized you can’t afford the trip will be awkward all round.

Register early

If you’ve ascertained you can afford your target conference, sign up as early as you can. The early bird usually gets lower fees, the most favorable hotel rate, and guaranteed participation in events that fill up fast. Make a note of the date past which there’s no refund for cancellations, and set a reminder to review your schedule before the no-refund date to make sure nothing new has cropped up at work or at home.

Want to pitch? Research your agents

If you’re signing up for a conference because you have a manuscript to pitch to an agent or publisher, or think you’ll have one ready by the conference date, research those industry professionals meticulously before you sign up. You might only get one or two pitch sessions, so make sure you’re pitching to the very best fit you can find. And if you draw near the conference date and realize your manuscript won’t be ready after all, contact the organizers and release your spots to someone else. Don’t pitch an incomplete manuscript.

If you find these suggestions helpful, let us know in the comments. I have a few more for you—and perhaps Katharine will let me come back again!


Historical Romance Author Jane Steen

Jane Steen was born in England and, despite having spent more years out of the British Isles than in, still has a British accent according to just about every American she meets.
Around the edges of her professional occupations and raising children, she stuck her nose in a book at every available opportunity and at one time seemed on course to become the proverbial eternal student. Common sense prevailed, though, and eventually she had the bright idea of putting her passion for books together with her love of business and writing to become a self-published author.
Jane has lived in three countries and is currently to be found in the Chicago suburbs with her long-suffering husband and two adult daughters. Her book, House of Closed Doors can be found here. 

Learning From The Independent Publishing Experience: A Guest Post By Jude Knight

What have you learned from this experience?

The headline is a quote from the man I adore: “What have you learned from this experience?” (Not, incidentally, what you want to hear when you’ve just bumped your toe or broken your heart. But I love you, darling.)

Six months ago last month, I published my first historical romance, a novella. I’ve since published a novel, am about to publish another one, and will have another novel and a novella out by my 1st anniversary as an independent publisher.

I still have a great deal to learn, but here are my top five lessons from this first venture into the wild and wonderful world of Indie.

Independent Publishing From the Writers of 10 MInute Novelists

Lesson 1: We do better together than apart

Since joining various Facebook groups for historical romantic fiction, I’ve ‘met’ many wonderful authors. My to-read list has expanded at an alarming rate, but I’ve also been privileged to share their insights, tidbits from their research, and their encouragement as I’ve dipped my toes into the indie publishing water.  I’ve also joined a collaborative of regency romance writers, the Bluestocking Belles.

Without the retweeting and sharing of my friends, far fewer people would have heard of my books. And I am keen to return the service whenever I can. Readers are not a scarce resource to be hoarded; an enthusiastic reader will devour the books of many authors. When we share, when we support one another, we grow a larger market to benefit us all.

Lesson 2: 20 December is a terrible date to launch a new book

The 1st; maybe the 10th; maybe the 30th. But I launched my first book on the 20th.

The 20th was a really, really, bad idea, and very nearly did me in. So many competing demands. We have a habit of giving the grandchildren a craft day, and this year we did two (one full Saturday for the older children, and one for the younger). I work full-time in commercial publishing, and 30 years of experience should have taught me that clients pile on the deadlines in the three weeks leading up to Christmas and the New Zealand summer holidays. And that doesn’t even begin to touch on Christmas shopping and baking.

I did all my own editing, cover design, proofreading, formatting, marketing, and so on. The week leading up to 20 December was insane, and the next week, as I publicised the book, even crazier. And that week included Christmas Day.

Let’s not do that again, okay?

Lesson 3: Don’t leave the cover till the last week

I’ve done a lot of research on covers, and looked at hundreds trying to work out what I like and what I don’t. I downloaded Pixelmator for the Mac, and my PRH transferred across a heap of fonts from the ancient version of InDesign on our old publishing company’s computer. We experimented with fonts till we found some we liked. But – with final tweaks on the image — the cover I actually used wasn’t completely ready until 12 December, just a couple of days before I uploaded to Smashwords and Amazon.

More pressure than I needed. In future, my covers will be done before the book goes on preorder

Lesson 4: Distribution takes time – preorder is the way to go

I uploaded the first book on 16 December my time. The book began to be downloaded from Smashwords straight away. Somehow, I’d managed not to take that into my calculations, but hey — a download is a download, right? It took several days to filter through to the resellers from Smashwords. Apple finally started showing the book on 27 December, and didn’t really pick up speed for several days.

Amazon started selling immediately, too, but didn’t really begin to move until they made it free (see Ask for what you want, next).

Putting Farewell to Kindness up for preorder five weeks before release definitely lightened my stress load. And Baron for Becky went up nearly three months in advance.

Lesson 5: Ask for what you want; it’s less stressful than waiting

Ask for reviews. Ask for ratings. People can say ‘no’. But you lose nothing by asking. One thing I asked for was a free listing on Amazon. I was giving the novella away to give people a taste of my writing style, but Amazon insisted on a price of 99c.

I’d been told that Amazon would price match, and that I should ask people to request price matching. So I did. And nothing happened. I read discussions on forums where authors talked about how hard it was to get price matching. But then I thought ‘why not ask’?

So I emailed Amazon, told them that the novella was free at Apple and Barnes & Noble, that my strategy was to give it away free to publicise the next few books, and that — if they price matched — we’d both benefit in the long term. Within 24 hours, it was free on Amazon to US purchasers, and that slowly spread to their other stores.

So ask. People just might say ‘yes’.


Jude KnightJude Knight writes strong determined heroines, heroes who can appreciate a clever capable woman, villains you’ll love to loathe, and all with a leavening of humour.

 Jude Knight is the pen name of Judy Knighton. After a career in commercial writing, editing, and publishing, Jude is returning to her first love, fiction. Her novella, Candle’s Christmas Chair, was released in December 2014, and is in the top ten on several Amazon bestseller lists in the US and UK. Her first novel Farewell to Kindness, was released on 1 April, and is also sitting on a couple of bestseller lists. It is number one in a series: The Golden Redepennings.

  Follow our plain English blog

http://writeclearlyblog.com

 Join us on Twitter and Facebook

twitter.com/WriteLimited | facebook.com/WriteLimited

 

#Top10Tuesday Writing On The Go! A Guest Post by Jessica White

Writing On The Go

As we head into summer, many of us are going to get outdoors more, take vacations, and spend more time away from our desks and thus our computers.

But as writers this often proves problematic since we still have deadlines and our brains rarely shut off just because it isn’t convenient to write.

But have no fear, here are ten ways you can keep writing even when you are away from home.

1. These days, almost everyone has a cellphone.  We keep them within hands reach almost every waking hour. When writing on the go they are a great tool.  Standing in line with three carts in front of you at the grocery store?  Avoid those last minute impulse buys and pull out your cellphone and text yourself a few lines.  If you’re good at texting and have an idea you can write quite a bit in those few minutes.

2. If you have a smartphone then look for a great writing app. Some will turn your handwriting into text and others are actual text programs. Either way, they are good options for those moments when you are taking a 10 minute break or are waiting to pick your kids up and want to write.  Some you can even email back to yourself or will connect with programs like GoogleDocs so you can quickly put them back into your WIP.

3. Not great at texting, but still want to utilize your phone? Leave yourself a voicemail. Do you have a Bluetooth headset? Even better. Now you can think out loud while you take a hike, run errands, or just about any activity that isn’t in a loud atmosphere.  Yes you’ll have to listen to it later, but you’ll never forget the way you eloquently defined the theme or that tone you used in that bit of dialogue that made the character come to life.

4. Sometimes you just don’t have the time to write, but in the age of Instagram, you probably have the time to snap a picture.  Often we see something that inspires us while we are away from home.  Take a picture and if you have an extra moment send it to your email or FB or Instagram with a few words reminding you what you felt or thought when you first saw it. Maybe it is a way a woman sweeps her porch each morning or the way a waiter sets a cafe table you want to remember, if it is an action use the video feature.

5. Another option is to call a friend who can jot down ideas for you. I have a writing partner I call once a week. We bounce ideas off each other for about thirty minutes each.  While one of us talks the other one types the great ideas into an email and then we hit send.  This is a great option if you’re brainstorming as a second brain often helps you problem-solve on the fly.

No matter where you are or what you're doing, with a little creativity there is always a way to write on the go. Jessica White

6. If you are going on a trip or somewhere you can sit a while a tablet may be a better option. The onboard keyboard is bigger so you can have less finger fumbles.  There are also more app options for Ipad and other tablets.  You can even use the Kindle Fire and go back and forth between reading on your vacation and writing.

7. If you want to have a quiet vacation with no technology, or you just don’t want the temptation of being able to do other things, get a digital recorder. They’re cheap, and you can play it back as many times as you want without tying up your phone line.

8. Nothing beats having a pen handy and a good writing notebook.  They’re cheap, you never have to worry about running out of battery and they are unobtrusive to those around you.  A notebook is the best option if you’re going to be out in full sun where a screen is impossible to see or if you are going off-grid hiking, camping, etc.  There are down points too, they can get ruined by water and it is easy to sit them down and forget them, but for $2 you can replace them.

9. You know the best ideas come when absolutely nothing is available. This is why I always keep a pen in my pocket.  You can write those ideas on any scrap of paper or even the palm of your hand (I’ve been that desperate).  Don’t believe me?  Look around you right now.  Can you find something to write on? A napkin? The back of a receipt? A lunch bag?  Make sure to invest in a good pen though.  One that will write even on a vertical surface and also one that doesn’t bleed if it gets wet.  A good pack of 5 pens is still not more than $10 so for under $2 you’ll have the assurance of being able to get any idea down somewhere.

10. Okay so there is one place this idea might not work-the shower. Don’t worry, even there you can jot your ideas down. If you’re a mom, then it might be the best place to have 2-3 minutes to get your great ideas out of your head uninterrupted.  Invest in a shower notepad.  Aquanotes has one that is similar to parchment paper.  You can scribble down your ideas and take them with you.

No matter where you are or what you’re doing, with a little creativity there is always a way to write on the go.


Jessica White
Jessica White

Jessica White is an admin for the 10 Minute Novelists Facebook group. Her book Surviving the Stillness came out last year. She blogs at https://authorjessicawhite.wordpress.com She lives with her family in the Dallas, Texas metro area.

Editing. Is It More Important Than The Writing? Hell, Yes! A Guest Post by Jennifer Senhaji

Writers, like all artists, are a creative bunch.

There are some that are meticulous about structure and form. There are some that fly by the seat of their pants on the winds of inspiration. Both make good writers. Editing, proper and professional editing, make great writers.

Editing: Is it more important than the writing? Hell, yes!   by Jennifer Senhaji

You may be thinking you’ve heard this before. You know you have to edit. You know not to rush to publish. You’ve read enough poorly or unedited books by now to know the value of editing. But I’m here to tell you that’s just the tip of the publishing iceberg. You can have the most fantastic, most original, next Pulitzer Prize winning novel sitting right now on your hard drive, but unless it’s edited, and edited properly, no one will ever know it.

Before I go into details about my editing process, which grows and changes with each book I write, I’d like to share some of the benefits of the editing process that you may not be aware of. 

  • Working with a professional editor makes you a better writer. (Not all editors are the same or have the same qualifications. Make sure to do your research, ask for a sample edit, and read other books edited by the person you are thinking of hiring.)
    • Editors will not only point out specific errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation, but will also tell you which ones you seem to repeat over and over again, thereby curing you of those bad habits.
    • Your editor will advise if your language needs varying or is too repetitive. 
    • Weak plot points or filler chapters in a soggy center—your editor will find and point those out as well. 
    • Need examples of show don’t tell or how to use body language to express emotions? Your editor can and will give you many.
    • Have a tendency to use passive words instead of active words? Guess who will show you how to convert those lazy sentences into engaging prose.
    • Editors who have your best interests at heart will push you to new heights. The best editors will push you past your comfort zones and give you the confidence you need to make it to the next level.
  • there’s still a ton of work to be done. by Jennifer Senhaji
  • Editing gives you time between writing and publishing to let your eyes and mind adjust. Everyone is in such a rush to publish. When we write, we are so excited to finally type “The End” that we don’t realize in that moment, there’s still a ton of work to be done.
    • Lack of tension in your novel that is impossible to see today, will be glaringly obvious a few weeks from now. Breaks are needed between writing and editing in order to avoid the holes in the story road. Without them, you’ll fall right in.
    • You’ve probably learned a lot since finishing your first draft, which is sometimes evidenced by a weak beginning, but stronger finish. A few months from now, your writing could be leaps and bounds from where it was. Give yourself the opportunity to put out the best book when you publish, incorporating everything you’ve learned recently into your edits. 

I’m in the middle of final edits on my next novel, Choosing to Dream. I don’t remember when I finished the first draft. I think it was at the beginning of the year. In between the first draft and final draft I took time to write Sea Breeze, a romantic standalone novella that released May 27th. Doing that gave me the opportunity to edit and publish another work while taking a break from my novel to let it rest. Also gave me the added benefit of going through another edit to add to my experience before tackling this one. My process below has evolved from my experience, and I’m sure will continue to evolve as I continue to grow.

  • Final Draft Completed- Set aside for a month.
  • First Self Edit Pass- Use a comprehensive list of all my notes from previously edited works to cut out all my crutch words, frequently used phrases, spell check, etc.
  • Beta Readers- Three or four betas to read and provide comments on plot, flow, character development, and storyline. Also creates another month of book rest.
  • Incorporate Suggested and Accepted Comments- Read through of story from beginning to end, incorporating suggestions I agree with from beta readers.
  • Send to Editor- It’s now in your editor’s hands. Take another month-long break. Read. Work on another project. 
  • Review Editor’s comments- When I first receive back my work, I review all the comments in her editing letter and the actual comment bubbles in the doc first before I start making any changes. That gives me an idea of exactly where I need to focus. I also ask questions and get clarification on comments if I’m not sure how to proceed.
  • Make Overall Edits- I go through my word doc and accept the basic typo and grammar corrections.
  • Chapter by Chapter Line Edits- This is where I go deeper. Are there ways I can strengthen this chapter, this scene? My editor shows me where I have a good chapter, but adding a bit more tension or feeling will make it great. She also shows me where scenes are unnecessary and can be completely cut out and not change a thing.
  • Send Back to Editor for Second Pass- Your WIP should be almost ready at this point, but you want your editor to review again, to make sure your edits didn’t foul up the original work. Or at least, I do.
  • Review Second Pass Edits- Review and approve any final edits
  • Send to Proofreader- Even the most skilled eyes can miss errors. Get it proofed and proof read it yourself. The best way, which takes longer, is to read out loud. Every line, out loud.
  • Send out ARCs-Send out to your trusted readers first, asking them to notify you if they find any typos in the document. Then send out to the rest of your ARC readers. 

There you have it.

There’s still formatting to be done, marketing to prepare, pre-orders to set up and blogs and reviewers to submit to, but the above should get you where you need to be to either self-publish or submit to a big publisher. For submitting to a big publisher, you can probably skip the ARC process, but that would be it. Many of you will disagree and say that none of the above is necessary if submitting to a publisher. You’re wrong.

Why in the name of all that is holy would you not want the absolute best version of your book to be the one you submit?

Yes, they have editors on staff. Yes, if you are lucky enough to be accepted, you will still need to go through their editing process. But you need to be accepted first.

I love self-publishing, but if I ever do decide to submit to one of the big five, you can be damned sure it will be the very best version of that book I can possibly provide. 


 

Jennifer SenhajiJennifer Senhaji was born and raised in San Francisco, CA, and has a husband and two children. Music is her addiction. She can often be found in the car, singing along at the top of her lungs to whatever is playing. She works full time, and she splits her spare time between family, reading, blogging, and writing. She’s a habitual quoter. Lines from films and TV shows constantly pop into her head—her kids are the only ones that really get it.  She’s an only child, and so of course she married a man who is one of ten children. Other than English, she speaks Spanish, Moroccan, and a little French. She loves to travel, but don’t do enough of it. Reading has been a passion for most of her life and she now loves writing. She’s a klutz, and in her own mind, she’s hilarious.Find her at www.jennifersenhajiauthor.com. Find her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/jsenhaji13. Find her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/jsenhaji13 Her Blog: http://jennifersenhaji.blogspot.comGoodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/jennifersenhaji Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/JsenhajiAmazon https://www.amazon.com/author/jennifersenhajiWordPress https://jsenhaji13.wordpress.com/

 

Beginnings Are Not Just Background: Creating Good Characters A Guest Post By Sophia Ryan

 

Character development should start from scene one of your novel and end when the novel does. But how do you write characters we all want to read about?

Coloring your dialog with details such as gesture, appearance, tone, thoughts, and reaction helps readers get a better sense of your characters. And, if readers have a better sense of who your characters are, says author Nancy Kress in her book, Beginnings, Middles, and Ends, they might be more willing to read more of your story.

Beginnings Are Not Just Background: Creating Good Characters  A Guest Post By Sophia Ryan

There are times when you want quick, back-and-forth dialog with limited narrative, but that works best when the reader already knows your characters. In the beginning scenes, readers need more than background and dialog in order to get to know – and care about – your characters. Dialog can’t carry that load on its own.

I’ll illustrate this point by walking you through a brief passage from a novel.

First up is a stripped-down scene of dialog only. As you read, ask yourself three questions: what do you know about the characters, do you like the characters, and what you think the story is about.

“Why don’t you have a boyfriend taking care of your needs?” he asked.

“That’s none of your business.” She turned back and continued walking.

“Girls like you usually have loads of boyfriends to pick from.”

“Girls like me? What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Ones with eyes that could stop a man’s heart and lips that could bring him back to life.”

“I’m not incapable of getting a boyfriend, if that’s what you’re suggesting.”

“I didn’t say that.”

“I’d have one if I wanted one.”

“Do you?”

“Do I what?”

“Want someone?”

“What I want is…” Oh, God…you! “…to focus on finishing my degree.”

Meh. Feels a bit like eating plain oatmeal, right?

What could you tell about the characters from this exchange? Probably not much. Now, see what happens when you support the dialog with the characters’ thoughts, gestures, actions, and reactions. Using our oatmeal analogy, add butter, milk, cinnamon, nuts, sugar, and dried fruit to the pale mush and see if it isn’t a tad tastier to the eyes and the tongue.

“Why don’t you have a boyfriend taking care of your needs?” His gaze narrowed and zeroed in on hers.

“That’s none of your business.” She stared him down, her eyes hot, her body trembling with anger at the typical male assumption that no woman could ever be happy with and satisfied by another woman. Bastard!

“Girls like you usually have loads of boyfriends to pick from.”

“Girls like me? What’s that supposed to mean?” Before she could stop herself, her hand jabbed out, connecting with his shoulder, and bumped him hard.

He barely budged, and his lips pulled into a snide grin, showing his teeth, and his eyes burned red. Grabbing the back of her neck with one hand, he pulled her close, his mouth almost touching hers.

“Ones with eyes that could stop a man’s heart and lips that could bring him back to life.”

Chills skated up and down her body as her skin absorbed his steamed words. For the first time since he joined her, her heart pounded. In fear? Or lust? Both. She could no longer pretend to be unaffected by his…maleness.

“I’m not incapable of getting a boyfriend, if that’s what you’re suggesting.” The words snapped from her mouth, extra sharp to puncture his ego.

“I didn’t say that.” His eyes stared deeply into hers. She felt a burning in her head, felt a wiggling heat crawling through her mind. At that moment, she was sure he could read the real reason she didn’t have a boyfriend.

“I’d have one if I wanted one,” she said, almost in a defensive whimper, and lost her mind completely when he reached out and brushed a thick strand of hair from her face with his fingertips.

“Do you?” He breathed the words more than spoke them. His mouth went to her exposed neck.

Her skin heated under his touch. Her body turned to pudding. So did her brain. She’d forgotten the question.

“Do I what?” she murmured, and with a low moan, tipped her head closer to his mouth.

“Want someone?” His voice was inside her. Hot. Fast. Paralyzing.

“What I want is…” Then his teeth sank into her flesh, and he sucked her essence into his mouth. Swallowed her. Oh, my God. “You!” The word slipped from her lips on her last breath.

The dialog is the same, but after reading this section you know these characters a little better. You can make assumptions about who they are and what they’re doing. You can decide whether you want to continue reading about them and their situation and whether you like where the story seems to be going. The difference comes from the details in how they react to each other, their thoughts, the way they look, what they’re doing, and so on.

As you’re writing, be sure to ask yourself whether you’re giving the readers everything you want them to know about your characters from the very beginning. Every paragraph has to advance your story, and those that don’t advance it need to go. Every paragraph also has to develop your characters in some way.

Every paragraph has to advance your story, and those that don’t advance it need to go. Every paragraph also has to develop your characters in some way.

Look at a few scenes in your novel.

What are they saying about your characters? What impression are they giving? Are the characters interesting? Or bland? Are they the people who can carry your novel forward? Are they up to the challenge? Or will readers take one look at them and see unadorned oatmeal? If you’re not impressed, your readers won’t be either.

Give this exercise a try and you, too, can fill your beginnings with character, situation, and pleasing prose that will hook – and hold – your readers’ attention.


Author Sophia RyanSophia Ryan writes the kind of books she likes to read: stories where sexual heat sizzles off the page and the characters fall hard into lust and soft into love. Before she transitioned to novels, she wrote short stories for the Trues family of confession magazines and Woman’s World to pay for grad school. When she’s not writing about passion, she’s indulging in it–yoga, hiking, laughing with friends over hot chile and cold beer, and being lazy and crazy with the family. She works full time as an editor for an international professional association and she has a master’s degree in professional writing. Her books can be found here, She Likes It Irish, Dirty Little Secret6 Days of You, Sin City Alibi – coming summer 2015,Only Forever – coming fall 2015

Why I Write: A Series By Members of 10 Minute Novelists — By Tyler Omichimski

I have a cheap and easy cop-out for this one: I write because I don’t know how not to.

I started writing when I was five or something, writing terrible things that were filled with deus ex machina and what would have me castigated for flagrant copyright violations. Fortunately, none of that got published.

I also read. Reading is like a religion to me. It’s a challenge.

Friends and family have joked, in the past, that I don’t read so much as eat books. I read fast. That’s thanks to my dad reading the entirety of The Hobbit, and then the entirety of the Lord of the Rings trilogy to me prior to me actually finishing kindergarten, then encouraging me to read it myself shortly after. Its why I have a tattoo of a Tolkien quote on my ribcage, my way of appreciating and reminding myself that without that, I wouldn’t be where I am.

I tell stories. That’s all I can do. I don’t really know how to do anything else. I make things up, I obsess over words, and I repeat interesting phrases over and over in my head to dissect them.

None of this really explains why I write though. It’s all kind of tangential reasons.

Except, its not. I’m going to write because there’s just some little spark or something deep down inside me that informs me that this is just “what I do”. I’ll work a day job, have a career, and even be happy with it, but I won’t be able to stop writing. I’ve tried. There were periods where I did stop writing because school or work or other things that just sort of happen on the road of life got in the way. And I would stop, for a while.

Why do I write?
Why I Write: A Series from the authors of 10 Minute Novelists

Then later, whether weeks or months or whatever, I’d start again. There’d be an idea, or a phrase, that would just niggle at me and wear at me until it was typed up. Then another would follow. And another. Then I’d have a short story or some chapters or whatever sitting in front of me. At that point, something has to be done with it.

Why do I write? I can’t not. It’s a compulsion. There’s not really a choice in it for me.

I may end up toiling in obscurity for the rest of my life, though I sincerely hope not. I’m going to keep at it. My parents sowed seeds, though I expect not on purpose, that gave me a love of stories.

Words, I’ve learned, are important.

You see it everyday, even if you don’t realize it. They’re these crazy little combinations of noises and symbols that unlock feeling and emotion and thought in our brains. You can use them as weapons, lashing out and hurting others. Or you can use them to heal, to provide a balm for those that are suffering. They can force us to think. We use them every day and it blows my mind the amount of power they have.

This is why I write. It is important. I have to.  And I like to think I have stories to tell. I’ve had some success thus far, and I’m going to keep going. You should too.

 

Tyler OmichinskiTyler Omichinski is a writer, game designer and freelance writer from the Great White North of Canada. He writes for a number of review websites, has a number of short story publications, and is about to self-publish a novella. He has an inexplicable fascination with survivalism, fitness, travel, and painting. His work has been published in the science fiction magazine “Grey Matter” and in the upcoming anthology “Den of Thieves”.  

Help: I Have To Market My Book! : A Guest Post By Robin Patchen

When somebody asks me what my book is about, I start talking like a Valley Girl who’s inhaled too much hairspray. Robin Patchen

My third book released a couple of weeks ago, ushering me into the most dreaded activity of this writer’s life: marketing.

I hate it, and for good reason. When somebody asks me what my book is about, I start talking like a Valley Girl who’s inhaled too much hairspray. “So like there’s this girl…like lady, right? And she’s like scared of this guy she knew from before…’cause see, when she was a teenager…”

Shocking I don’t sell more copies by hand.

I don’t do much better in print.

But mostly, I hate marketing because I have to ask for help.

Writers have to ask for endorsements, influencers, reviews, and shares. We have to humbly request to be guest on others’ blogs and suggest ourselves as brilliant interviewees. Heck, writers even have to ask for sales. That’s what marketing is, asking people to gamble on you. “Please fork over your hard-earned money on the chance that my book doesn’t completely stink.”

Most people are willing to spend more money on a Supersized McDonald’s meal than they are on a book.

Ten minutes to consume your hamburger, ten hours to consume my life’s work. Seems the latter would be worth at least as much as the former.

Help: I have to Market my Book by Robin Patchen

But there’s only one Big Mac, while there are thousands…millions of books out there. It’s supply and demand, and honey, nobody’s demanding what I’m supplying. Not yet, anyway.

Thus, I have to ask.

In order to make this task easier, I’ve hired a manager to help with my marketing. She’s approaching endorsers for me, and she’s asking for influencers. She’s giving me great ideas for marketing, too, many of which involve…asking for help. You know what I’ve learned so far? Every author has to do this, or at least had to at one point in his career. And every author hates it. But if we all help each other, it’s not so bad.

This Friday, my first critique partner and I are attending a craft fair together, so we visit while people walk by pretending not to see us. I’m really looking forward to it.

Finding Amanda by Robin Patchen

Chef and popular blogger Amanda Johnson hopes publishing her memoir will provide healing and justice. Her estranged husband, contractor and veteran soldier Mark Johnson, tries to talk her out of it, fearing the psychiatrist who seduced her when she was a teen might return to silence her. But Amanda doesn’t need advice, certainly not from her judgmental soon-to-be ex-husband. Her overconfidence makes her vulnerable when she travels out of town and runs into the abuser from her past. A kind stranger comes to her rescue and offers her protection. Now Mark must safeguard his wife both from the fiend who threatens her life and from the stranger who threatens their marriage.

Next month, a good friend and I are teaming up to have a launch party together.

We each have things we’re good at, so we’re splitting the work. And we’ve figured out the best way to sell our books at the event: I’m going to sell hers, and she’s going to sell mine. Instead of babbling like a fool about my own book, I can gush about hers (and it’ll be genuine, because her book is fantastic).

So what advice do I have for you?

Perhaps you can find somebody to team up with in your marketing efforts, either a manager like mine (and no, she’s not available), or a good friend who also has a book to market—or will in the near future. It’s so much easier to ask for help for somebody else than it is to ask for yourself.

When you’re at book launch and signing time, could you share the joy with another author? If nothing else, at least that’ll give you someone to talk to during those inevitable lulls in visitors.

And be the person who offers help when your friends come out with new books. Buy them, read them, and review them. If you love their books, tell your friends about them. Because eventually it’ll be you quaking in your flip-flops and doing your best Valley Girl impression.

Most of all, don’t be afraid to ask for help. You’re a writer, so you already know how to handle rejection, right? So what if they say no. Let it roll off your back like that one-star review and move on to the next guy.

By the way, does anybody want to review my book?


 

Author Robin Patchen
Author Robin Patchen

Robin Patchen lives in Edmond, Oklahoma, with her husband and three teenagers. Her third book, Finding Amanda, is available now. When Robin isn’t writing or caring for her family, she works as a freelance editor at Robin’s Red Pen, where she specializes in Christian fiction. Read excerpts and find out more at her website, robinpatchen.com


 

Finding Amanda links

My website: http://robinpatchen.com/

Robin’s Red Pen: https://robinsredpen.wordpress.com/

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Finding-Amanda-inspirational-Robin-Patchen-ebook/dp/B00VN0STLI/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1428171089&sr=8-3&keywords=robin+patchen

Itunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/finding-amanda/id982982402?mt=11

Kobo:  https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/finding-amanda

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/finding-amanda-robin-patchen/1121693795?ean=2940151640039

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25311792-finding-amanda


 

Selling Books Through Non-Marketing: A Guest Post By Jude Knight

How to non-market

I’ve spent a large part of my career as a commercial writer in my own small business. Small business owners are responsible for everything. I was writer, peer reviewer, company book-keeper, chief executive, project manager, strategic planner, store manager, cleaner of toilets, sales person and, of course, the big ‘M’ word. The one I feared. Marketing. So I learnt how to promote my business by non-marketing: marketing that doesn’t feel like marketing. Marketing that an introvert like me could do just by being myself.

It was good preparation for being a self-published writer. Again, I am running my own business. And again, I’m out in the world vigorously non-marketing.

Magical Marketing: Marketing Is Life
Magical Marketing: Marketing Is Life

Non-marketing is about being present

The first rule of non-marketing is to spend time with people who might want to read your book. Get to know them. Talk to them about the things that interest you. Find out what interests them. Be present.

In traditional non-marketing, writers joined Toastmasters, and Rotary, and the local bowling club. They went to book fairs and gardening clubs; talked at schools and writers’ workshops; went to dinner with agents and editors and book clubs. And we can still do all of those things.

Today, we can also spend time with people all over the world, using the Internet. You don’t have to be everywhere; choose two or more from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest and blogging. Then go and meet people. Be present.

Non-marketing is about being genuine

If you want a friend, the old saying goes, you have to be a friend. The second rule of non-marketing is to offer others a helping hand. One of the things I really love about the romance writing community, and about 10 Minute Novelists,  is the open-hearted, open-handed and genuine approach to helping others.

This isn’t about reciprocal arrangements: Like my page and I’ll Like yours, review my book and I’ll review yours. It isn’t about sucking up, either. Being genuine means giving because I can, because I know the answer to your question, or have the contact you need, or have a blog and would love you to be my guest.

The flashy insincere marketers might also be helpful, but always with an agenda. Sponsorships are often this kind of marketing. The support comes with strings attached, in the form of opportunities to sell their service or product. Sponsored by [insert name of famous soda drink here].

As non-marketers, you’ll be helpful because you are genuinely interested. You want to know about the birth of a friend’s grandchild. You celebrate your friend’s acceptance letter from a publisher because you’re genuinely happy for them. You hunt your research database for an obscure fact someone has asked for. You send you a condolence message because someone’s troubles touch your heart.

Selling Through Non-Marketing by Jude Knight
If this is what you think of when you think of marketing, then no wonder you don’t like doing it!

Non-marketing is about offering a unique experience

If you’re present in a community that loves the kind of books you write, one way you can be genuinely helpful is to offer them your book. Not in a ‘buy, buy, buy; me, me, me’ used-car salesman way, but gently, as part of the conversation.

Let’s say people are talking about the kinds of protagonist they prefer. You may, if it fits in the conversation, use a description of your own protagonist to illustrate your point. Keep it short. Make it interesting.

It helps to be very clear about what you do that is different, and to have a few lines you can use. If someone asks what I write, I say ‘historical fiction with strong heroines, heroes who can appreciate them, and complex plots full of mystery and suspense’. It’s a tagline I’m working on, and constantly changing, but it’s getting there. My hero Rede is “a man driven by revenge who needs to move beyond his past before he can have a future”.

And there you have it. I’ve used my work to give two illustrations of my point. And I don’t need to belabour it until you’re bored, or sell you something today. Today, we have more important things to talk about, such as how you can turn a friend into a long-term reader.

Non-marketing is about being good at what you do

Insincere marketers rely on lots of noise to keep driving new customers to their product. Non-marketers know that the best customers of all are the ones who love your product so much that they will sell it for you, by telling all their friends.

So write a good book. No. Cancel that. Write the best book you can. And when you’ve finished, write a better one. Never stop learning; never stop improving. Your best marketing tool is your library of successful publications.

Non-marketers know that the best customers of all are the ones who love your product so much that they will sell it for you, by telling all their friends.

Non-marketing is about building long-term relationships

I don’t want readers. Or, at least, I don’t want just readers. I want to make friends who will stay with me for the journey.

Readers, yes. People who find I offer them a reading experience they can’t get from anyone else, so they wait for my next book and pounce on it as soon as it goes on preorder. People who will contact me and tell me what they like, discuss my characters, adopt my heroes as book boyfriends and my heroines as BFFs, argue about the motivations of my villains, pick up some of my subtle jokes and codes.

And fellow writers. People who will laugh at the things I laugh at, tell stories about their craft that inspire, amuse, or dismay, help me out and accept my help, understand the journey — its costs and its rewards.

Above all, I want friends who care about books and about story telling, and who are happy to talk about them. The heart of non-marketing is making friends.

Jude KnightJude Knight  has been a commercial writer for most of her life, but has always dreamt of publishing fiction. She is currently writing her second regency historical novella and her second regency novel. Her first novella, Candle’s Christmas Chair, was published last December, and her first novel, Farewell to Kindness, in March this year. Find Jude and her books on judeknightauthor.com

We’ve Been Here Before! Self-Publishing and Webcomics! A Guest Post By Tyler Omichinski

It sounds like a terrible piece of advice, but you have to try things and figure out what works for you. This means taking responsibility of your style and skills, making appropriate decisions about what you can and can’t do.

I want you to take your mind back for a moment to the heady days of the early to mid, and heck even the later, aughts. It was before the recession that seems to go on forever, or is already done, depending who you talk to.  There was also a shift going on in the world of comics.

During this time the people at Half Pixel (Scott Kurtz, Dave Kellet, Kristopher Straub, and Brad Guigar) were hosting a podcast where they talked about webcomics and this “fancy new thing” of publishing direct to the web. They talked about not being recognized at the major awards, publishers and others being unable to understand their business model, and how you could publish things on the web that you’d never get past any of the traditional gatekeepers. Sound familiar?

We can learn from the fact that this has all happened before. They had to figure out new business models, build platforms from the ground up, and they fought their way to relevance and recognition. There are articles, podcasts, books, and more all about creating things on the web and releasing them. There’s the freemium model, the discount model, and so many other things that we’re standing around debating like it hasn’t already happened.

We’ve Been Here Before! Self-Publishing and Webcomics!

Giving it away (for cheap or free)

This was this big one for webcomics; you gave away what you did for free, and people would eventually pay you for it in other ways. This could be related swag in the form of t-shirts and posters, it could be buying the collected books when they come out, or it could be any number of other things. With Patreon and Kickstarter out there, it is entirely possible that with the right group of fans, you don’t even need to handle that. We’ve already seen writers have success with this whether it be Chuck Wendig running his mammoth of a blog that he gives away free advice and occasionally short stories on, or a number of other authors that I’ve met who give away short stories and novellas for free, then are able to sell them in a package.

Don’t Trust Them if you Don’t Understand

Just like right now, there were a number of odd services that popped up that claimed to give you exposure or something that you didn’t understand in exchange for your money. This includes the “marketing” services that charge you a listing fee without ever actually giving you numbers about what you get from it, or doing anything other than adding you to yet another list. It happened then and it’s happening again. If you can’t understand what people are trying to sell you, you have to make the decision to just walk away.

The Flood and Afterwards

When webcomics became “a thing” with a few big successes, sort of like the recent madness with a couple of ebooks/self-published bits becoming big hits, thousands of people tried to jump in on the game. There was a flood of content out there, all fighting for your attention. We’re seeing the same thing right now; Amazon is practically busting at the seams from the sheer volume of ebooks that are being published now. After this major flood, however, lots of people lost interest. Many of the comics that were created in this period didn’t last for one reason or another. After the flood, people who were able to attract a following started to switch things up: some went back to print, realizing that their audience and profits were better there. Everyone who did well was forced to build a business that fit their talents and their style of creativity.

It sounds like a terrible piece of advice, but you have to try things and figure out what works for you. This means taking responsibility of your style and skills, making appropriate decisions about what you can and can’t do.

Going back to the webcomics example, Kristopher Straub realized that he had a specific style of being funny and built a system around that. Then he realized that he could simultaneously do a horror strip. Sometimes, owning a small market is better than fighting for a tiny share of a gigantic market. Look realistically at your marketing, and make sure you aren’t just throwing money away.

Special Interest

This is another major lesson from webcomics: don’t be afraid to be a special interest thing. Many webcomic people learned pretty quickly that getting $10 a year from each of your 10,000 fans makes you the same amount of money as $1 a year from 100,000 fans. It is also easier to make a smaller group of fans with specialized interests the kind of people that will share your work and try to shove it down their friend’s throats.

It’s also easier for you to work on two projects that you’re excited and passionate about, rather than one that you hate. So there’s that.

Learn!

Remember, a lot of these things have happened before. You can learn from what has already happened, and knowing history is a way to ensure that you don’t repeat it. Everything from the shake-up in how awards are handled, the changing of the guard with professional societies learning to let in new members, and even how different business models are rising up is almost a direct parallel to what has come before. The advent of the internet and disintermediation (the process of making fewer people between you and your readers) has been going on for awhile and writing is just the latest industry to be hit by it.

Tyler Omichinski

Tyler Omichinski is a writer, game designer and freelance writer from the Great White North of Canada. He writes for a number of review websites, has a number of short story publications, and is about to self-publish a novella. He has an inexplicable fascination with survivalism, fitness, travel, and painting. His work has been published in the science fiction magazine “Grey Matter” and in the upcoming anthology “Den of Thieves”.  

Want more information about Tyler and his writing? Check out these links!
WebsiteAmazon Page.