Keep your eyes on the ball #FabulousFriday @AuthorMoira

Hello one and all, it’s that time again – FRIDAY! We’re going to get right to things today, and here we go…

While we have many posts on NQ about the content of stories, and do’s and don’t’s, one thing that needs to be said to all authors, but especially newbs, is to focus on the guts of the story. Everything you write should have one singular point that is the main focus for you. All that happens around that point is icing on the cake so to speak.

I’m talking about your core theme. Not that it has a murder mystery element, or that it’s supernatural, or sci-fi. What I’m talking about is the whole reason you’re writing it. For us, romance authors that is, it’s the romance element. While there is no singular way to write romance, or a right way to do it, you need to decide how the romance in your romance story progresses. And you must be consistent.

This does take a little forethought, and even some planning for some folks, while others can have it naturally unfold in a natural manner. Whatever works for you, but do keep your eye on the ball, or the end goal, or whatever turn of phrase works best for you.

For example, some good guidelines for your romance might be:

  • Boy meets girl, girl meets boy, boy meets boy (or whatever your combo might be)
  • The next logical step (depending on the story) would be getting to know one another however best fits your central theme
  • Along the same lines they would also spend time together perhaps doing things; walking, eating, sky diving, killing off mutant aliens determined to take over the planet and turn us all into mindless drones!!
  • There should also be some sex (d’uh!), or a lot of sex, or tonnes of sex, even copious amounts of sexual activity in all sorts of interesting positions and/or places – whatever floats your boat and works withing your central theme
  • and so forth, but you get the idea where this is going I’m sure…
  • Also, more sex
  • Did I mention sex?

Some things to avoid on the fringes of your romance might be:

  • Random surprises like killing off some character for pure shock value but for no real purpose
  • Jumping to a point too far ahead because you don’t know what to do to “fill in” the extra “time” before getting there – epilogues do not count, these are their own beasts of burden and can take place anywhere/anytime, as long as it works with your story line
  • Erratic behavior, unless that is who your character is – don’t put it in just because you can, again this all has to make sense from the first word to the last
  • Jolts are another one, this is often an unconscious thing an author does and one their editor should be catching. But a jolt (not really a writing term) is a break in the story line (whether a chapter break or a new chapter) that literally “jolts” the reader from the story – it’s disconcerting, and frankly often will ruin their read. A story should be one continuous, flowing read from start to end
  • Not having sex in a book that should have sex (ie: romance, erotic romance, erotica, etc.). If you are a “romance” writer, whether it be soft and gentle or hard and dirty, don’t fucking skimp on the sex

Basically the point I’m trying to make is find your center, your core theme, your be-all end-all for the story, and keep it front and center in your brain. And yes, like I said above, everything else that occurs is icing on the cake to make it a richer, deeper, more entertaining read – but it all still has to make sense. And most of all, it all actually has to work together. Don’t be random. Don’t do shock for shock’s sake. You’re an author, not a screenplay writer for Hollywood. Remember your craft, remember the artistry you have been gifted with, and treat it and your readers with the respect it/they deserve. In the end it can, and will benefit you.

So focus. Keep your eye on what truly matters to your story, and let the rest come as it may and how it might. Every story deserves to be told in the voice you have, but they will only be however long they need to be. No more, no less. You’ll know what needs to be said, what needs to be done, and when to type the words all authors both love and hate…

The End

Dear authors of the world #FabulousFriday @AuthorMoira

Happy Friday one and all – we made it through another one! Before I get any further first I want to shout out to all the fathers (in whatever form they take), and wish you all a very Happy Fathers Day. This weekend I’ll be off visiting with the familial sorts, including my own father, and do god only knows what. I keep getting texts of updated itemized itineraries – and this, right here in a nutshell, is why I only go home a couple times a year. They be cray-cray! But enough about the genetic insanity that flows through my ancestral lineage, onto today’s post.

Dear Authors of the world, you’d better buckle up, this one’s likely to sting! (to paraphrase a social media celebrity I quite enjoy following).

For the love of all that is shiny and bright in the universe – USE SPELL CHECK. No, I’m not merely talking about your books (although you should), and I’m not merely talking about your emails (although you really should), and I am not merely talking about your newsletters (although you really, really should). No, what I AM talking about is on social media – whether it be Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, wherever. THIS SHIT LIVES FOREVER. You may delete it from your feed, but you all should know by now there are people out there, evil and petty people, who live to make other folks lives miserable and they’ve already done a screen shot. They stalk you, plot against you, and yet have never met you face to face. You are their own personal Goliath, and they have devious, insidious, and plain dumb ass plans to “take you down”. Stop giving them the fucking ammo! Use spell check, or if you do make a mistake, FIX IT!

I cannot tell you how many posts I’ve read, from otherwise elegantly eloquent authors, which have me wondering if their accounts have been hacked by some brain eating, disease ridden alien. Because trying to equate someone who writes books which suck you in, and won’t let you go to the crap being spouted on social media – now that there be one hell of a noggin’ scratcher.

In no way am I saying you need to be perfect, no one is, but do try your best. And, for the love of all that’s fluffy and delightfully soft in the universe, stop with the text speak. 1) I really hate having to look up some of these acronyms, and 2) you look like an fool. We’ve all heard the saying to “use your words”. Well, if you are trying to keep your brand untainted, and create the right image for who you want to be seen as, you need to be consistent in all things. Don’t fucking fly off the handle on some random ass rant when you’ve never done it before. And use the English language as it was intended, to be concise and precise in getting across your point.

Now go slap some ice on that sting, and open a damn dictionary once in a while would you.

A Writer’s Responsibility #WickedWednesday (@KaceyHammell)

Wednesdays

Good morning everyone! Happy Hump Day. Sorry I have been MIA the last couple of weeks. Life for me has changed this past month and I’m learning my way through balancing everything. Thank you to the other Quillers for their patience and understanding. Balancing so much has reminded me how valuable writing time is. I’m not the only writer to work outside the home, and actually have three jobs – writer, mother, and a full time day job – and for the first time since I began writing, I think I value the moments of solitude even more. And time with my characters has become golden. In many ways, I took the hours I could be writing for granted a bit because I had so much time before. I’ve learned a lesson here, and I take advantage of every five minutes I can get words down.

But in all the chaos recently, I finished my latest book. It is now fully done and self-edits were brutal. I wasn’t completely happy with it when I was done it before. Thanks to critique partners, I forged my way through the figuring out what was wrong and thoroughly revised many aspects from the original. Which leads me to today’s topic – being a vicious editor. No one else can write your stories for you and we have all said how important edits are. There are still many writers out there cutting corners and releasing stories that are not up to snuff. To each their own, but it is our responsibility to produce stories that shine.

With my last few books, I have used “Pro Writing Aid” program. It’s a godsend for me. It checks over everything from repetition words/phrases to dictation, run-on sentences, grammar, checks transitions, dialogue tags, abstract words, and more. It heavily searches through a manuscript and notes everything that needs to go. There are few things that I don’t change. I don’t want to change the voice in my stories, but I make the decisions on what I change. Nothing is written in stone. But I’ve found it a very useful tool.

I’ve mentioned my “cheat sheet” of bad habits in the past, words I use often – then, it, damn – and it is so important to thoroughly edit out those terrible habits. Readers don’t want to be repeating words over in their heads either. We’d lose readers that way. I can’t stress enough how important going back through your MS is before sending it to a publisher or self-pubbing it yourself. Be your fiercest advocate. Even if it takes you a month to do edits, then let it. Don’t publish crap that isn’t worthy. It’s that simple. Why spend a month or two, or more, on a story that you end up doing an injustice to if it’s not edited properly.

Not all writers are editors. We aren’t. However, it’s a writer’s job to also know about how to edit a story. Common story structure, grammar, to see errors, etc., is part of our job. The edits begin with the writer before sending / hiring another editor if self-publishing, and other publishers demand clean manuscripts. It’s that simple. The writer has all the responsibilities outside of simply writing the story. Too many writers are not taking this part of their job seriously and it saddens me.

It is such a disservice to your characters and stories.

A quick checklist that I tend to use when editing, even without Pro Writing Aid, which I tend to look closely for…

  1. Omit unnecessary words – then, that, it, and, overuse of the characters’ names.
  2. Redundancies – avoiding the use of ‘shrugged his shoulders’ (there’s nothing else to shrug!). ‘She nodded her head’ (there’s nothing else on us that we nod!!)
  3. NO Head Hopping!! So important. Stay in one character POV for an entire scene. If you do switch to the 2nd POV (after a few pages of one character), then make the transition easy and smooth.
  4. Limit the number of ‘ly’ words.
  5. Don’t over explain. Example – ‘Doris was angry and pounded the counter.’ I would edit this sentence to – ‘Doris pounded the counter.’ Plain and simple. We read the anger in her actions.

These are a few items on my checklist that I am mindful of with every read through / edit. They’re simple but oh-so-crucial!!  The more stories a writer creates and the more editing they do – on their own and with a professional editor when the time comes – the more their voice will shine and the better writer they will be.

 

Until next week,

Happy Writing. Happy Editing!

Kacey xoxo

 


 

Book Signings: Making the Most of an Event by Jules Dixon of @JulesofTripleR

This weekend, along with two other authors from Nebraska, Wynter S.K. and Jacqueline Winters , I (on left) attended the Wild Deadwood Reads book signing in Deadwood, South Dakota. And I had a wonderful time all around.

Wild Deadwood Reads ((

Book signings are both a great way for readers to get to meet some of their favorite authors and for authors to meet new readers and maybe get a little time to recharge their “writing batteries”.

This past weekend’s event really had some wonderful opportunities for readers and author to mingle. Train rides into the Black Hills. Trips to see Mount Rushmore. A PBR Rodeo event with talented cowboys and a behind-the-chutes tour with entertaining clowns (ahem–entertainers as their now called) and information from a bull breeder. And ghost tours that landed some interesting pictures and contacts by possible spirits. And then there was the signing, a well-organized event that I enjoyed and appreciated how much work it is to actually organize a signing event. The organizers did a great job.

With that said, over the last two years, I’ve collected some tips and hints for authors and readers to help make the most of an event.

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Authors

  1. Don’t go to sell books. That is setting yourself up for failure. Go to meet other authors and to share your love of writing with people of like minds and readers who enjoy reading in your genre.
  2. Be flexible. Plans change, tables get moved, things don’t fit. You will forget something (me-my silver signing pen, so I went with bright colors). Be willing to adapt. Take the mistakes and issues in stride, it will make for a more enjoyable event.
  3. Introduce yourself to at least three new authors and get to know them a little better. I met a lot of lovely authors, Tina SusedikAmanda McIntyrePJ FialaLizbeth Selvig. And one of my favorites, Lorelei James. Authors know what other authors are going through. And when you forget something, they will come to the rescue for you. We are a family and care for each other.
  4. Take time to explore the city and eat the local fare. We had some wonderful ribeyes last night and took a lovely stroll around the downtown area. Take some time to people watch. Get some inspiration. I found inspiration at the rodeo, a new storyline was blaring me in the face and I’m ready to get started on it.
  5. Consider making your books easy to purchase at $10 each, and rewarded multiple purchases–buy three for $25. Yes, this might mean taking a loss, but it can lead to dedicated readers and future sales. And remember, a happy reader will tell other readers.

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Readers

  1. Take a chance on new-to-you authors. Yes, there are those favorites that you’ll want to get a signed book from, but please don’t dismiss the talent of authors who might be new to you.
  2. Ask questions. Authors love to answer questions about their writing, books, and characters. If you like a certain genre or storyline, let them know. Help them to help you. And I promise, if I don’t think my stories are great for you, I will suggest one of the other authors at the event. Not everyone loves LGBT romance, understandable, so if you like suspense, I’ll tell you who I like at the event.
  3. If you’ve read an author’s books prior to the event, tell them. You might get a discount on the paperback. If they’re new to you, tell them. You might find someone new to love.
  4. Bring an extra bag for books. Cash is good, but most authors will take cards. Think about gifts. Does your friend love reading? Books are great for birthdays, holidays, and just friendship.
  5. If you see an author in the town having a drink, pull up a chair and have a chat. We don’t talk about books all the time. We do have other interests, too. We’d love to get to know you, too.

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Okay, lastly, enjoy the event and if the organizers have other events scheduled, go to one or more. Mingle and just enjoy getting away for a day. 

Not every event will be successful from a earnings perspective, but as long as you keep a positive attitude and look for the silver linings it will be successful in other ways.

Happy Monday!

See you next week!

Hugs, Jules

MONDAY MESSAGES

This is important… #FabulousFriday @AuthorMoira

Happy Friday everyone. It’s been one hell of a crazy week, again. The insanity that’s hit the UK … I don’t even have words. Which for an author is something, we’re usually pretty good with the science of combining letters into something comprehensive and even occasionally compelling. But, it did give me my topic for today, so without further ado…

BREATHE…

In a world that seems to have lost any form of a rudder this is particularly important. Quite a simple word, and yet it has many connotations. To draw air into ones lungs thus providing the brain with a vital component so it can continue to operation at optimal levels and ensure the body keeps doing it’s thing. But it is also a method used in many practices from yoga to martial arts to gain focus and realign ones self.

BREATHE…

We could all use a little more focus. Not only in the here and now, but about life in general. We each have an important role in the grand cosmic scheme. Sure, none of us know what that plan might be, but it doesn’t mean we’re not here for a reason. It only means that we haven’t yet been given all the pieces to the puzzle to determine what our part may be.

BREATHE…

Those of us who are blessed, gifted, or have educated and fought to become authors already hold a pretty significant place in the world, big or small. We have the tools – the imagination, the drive, the insanity – to create fantastic tales of fiction in all sorts of genres and sub-genres. The end result is a gift to the world. A moment, or three, where a reader can submerge themselves into the world we’ve created for respite – however brief it might be.

BREATHE…

We all should take the opportunity for a little respite. The world is a scary place on the best day, on the worst…well…yeah. So my advice for the weekend, and every chance you have, is to enjoy every single minute of every single day. Kiss your loved ones, hug your enemies (it’ll confuse them), smile at a stranger (it could brighten their day), and don’t let other folks shit taint whatever you have going on in your life. Enjoy the little things, smell the roses, walk in the sunshine, pet a dog, spin in a field until you throw up, eat ice cream for dinner, just enjoy all the time you’ve been given however you see fit. No one has the right to judge you for what makes you happiest and at peace. Lastly, authors, never ever stop writing but do remember, from time to time, to lean back in your seat and remember to

BREATHE.

Not the ride I was looking for #FabulousFriday @AuthorMoira

Greetings one and all, and happy Friday. Hope everyone has had a great week. Mine was decidedly strange, and truly should have ended on Wednesday. But I shall continue to slog through, it’s only a few hours more after all.

Today’s post is one that we’ve touched on prior here on NQ, but it obviously needs repeating. I’ve been reading a book which is the source of much angst currently in my life. Normally I can whip through an ebook in no more than two days, a paperback roughly three. This bugger has me currently at day four and I’m only half way through. It’s not a super long book by any means, 168 pages (print length), which for me is usually nothing.

But I’m having trouble with it. For one, the heroine has seesaw emotions that quite frankly have me feeling nauseous. I’m a roller coaster, slingshot, etc. riding maniac. The more something makes you scream the better. Yet this up and down with her emotions, one minute she’s terrified, two paragraphs later she’s all lovey-dovey, and then she’s angry, and then and then and then…

To top it off, roughly around chapter two, the hero in the story (and her future man) refers to himself in conversation with the antagonist. And not in a third person sort of thing, but as a separate person entirely. It threw me, completely. But so far it’s the worst thing that’s happen where he’s involved. The heroine on the other hand – she might just benefit from seeking professional help with her rather severe, and whiplash like mood swings.

While the concept of this book is also quite intriguing, the totality is thus far leaving me with no more than a bad taste.

Let’s be clear here authors. If your heroine/hero/secondary character, whomever, is in a traumatizing event – yes they should be a little out of sorts, and even moody. But once they have pushed through that initial trauma, unless you are specifically putting in some PTSD, quit with the emotional seesaw! Readers don’t like that shit. Other authors who read your works REALLY don’t like that shit. STOP IT!

The emotion of your character(s) needs to fit the situation. If it’s upbeat, light, and fun keep it that way. If you’re throwing them into danger than make sure their emotional state fits. Having your characters acting out of tune with the scene you’ve set in detail only confuses your readers, and makes it feel like slogging through the bayou on the hottest day on record. No fun at all.

So unless your one character knows something that the others in the situation don’t, or has had a horrid day, or ended up run over by a tanker trailer, try to keep their emotions on an even keel. Readers everywhere will thank you, and we on NQ won’t have to keep writing about it.

Behind the mask #FabulousFriday @AuthorMoira

It’s that time again, Friday. It was a short week for some of us, but damn if it didn’t feel incredibly long. I’m not only talking about the extra scramble to cover the day off, but also all the happenings in the world. I won’t get into it, but I will say it’s getting bloody exhausting reading about the same events, while they might be in different places, continuing to occur. When are we going to say enough is enough already?

As this isn’t the purpose of my post today I’ll leave that question to hang for you, and those around you, to answer at your own speed. No, today I want to discuss masks. Particularly the masks we as humans all wear.

Yes, yes, I can hear some out there saying that they don’t ever, or wouldn’t ever. Whatever. We all do it. From professional to personal, we each have a bag of masks we carry with us at all times. They could be hiding some pain (physical or mental), some slight, some news (good or bad), whatever it might be – we all wear them.

I’m not here to say to ditch them all. That isn’t the point, and yet it is.

As writers we have to see behind masks others wear to discover their heart, soul, and purpose. We then use that information in our writing. Where we then create characters who have their own bags of masks to protect them from the world. It’s all part of making them life like and relatable to readers. For in our creation they might see something that mirrors their life, their situation, their pain and gain insight, or even comfort from knowing that there are others out there going through the same thing. Yes, it comes to them in the form of a fictional character, but as authors the golden rule of thumb is to always write what you know (and what you learn, and what you research carefully). One never knows when the band-aid you, as an author, have torn off and bared to the world via your story telling ability will help someone else halfway around the world.

We all want to be able to create reactions in our readers whether they laugh, cry, scream, rage or any other number of emotions. To touch on something within them that is profound and true is the height we all strive to reach. Now, let me be clear, I am NOT talking about sensationalism – we get enough of that shit in the news on a minute-by-minute basis. What I mean is a careful unfolding, development that maybe gives them an “ah-ha!” moment. Perhaps even clarity, or startling realization. For we can not only amuse, but we can also teach and lend aid through the words we put together.

Think about it.

I know this one’s short but it’s been one hell of a week and exhaustion is banging at the door, so I’m off to watch a movie before encapsulating myself in my bed for the night. Have a great day everyone, remember it’s started out fresh and new, no expectations (except that you be dressed while in public), and it will become whatever you make of it. So go forth and Carpe Diem one and all.

Say what now? #FabulousFriday @AuthorMoira

Happy Friday one and all, and for some the precursor to a long weekend. Here in Canada we get Victoria Day on Monday, A celebration for Queen Victoria’s birthday, who at the time of our (aka: Canada’s) Confederation and establishment of dominion in 1867, was the reigning Canadian monarch. Say that five times fast. Which was, if you’re doing the math, 150 years ago – that’s right, it’s Canada’s 150th birthday this year. Another name for the weekend, quite obviously, is the May Long Weekend. The official demarcation between winter and spring, or the point at which it is now *cough* “safe” *cough* to start dethatching the grass, planting the crops, etc., and for the truly die hard, dedicated lunatics out there – the first camping trip of the year. For those of us who are authors, and not lunatics of the camping variety, we’ll be writing. Which in an extremely roundabout way segues into my post for today.

WRITING IS NOT A REAL JOB

Yup, you read that right. And sadly there are people out there who actually believe this type of malarkey. What I’m hoping to do, if I should manage to avoid a full blown rant, is to dispel this rumor once and for all. But let’s start at the top and work our way down shall we?

JOB: 1. an assignment at which one regularly works for pay (Related Words: business, employ, employment, occupation, profession, career, livelihood, living, etc.); 2. a piece of work that needs to be done regularly (Related Words:  endeavor, enterprise, undertaking, responsibility, etc.); 3. a specific task with which a person or group are charged; 4. the action for which a person or thing is specially fitted or used or for which a thing exists (Related Words:  niche, calling, occupation, pursuit, vocation, duty, mission, etc.); etc… taken from Merriam-Webster online thesaurus and abbreviated as needed for this posting.

We as authors endeavor to undertake the profession of writing. Do we hope to make it a career? Abso-fucking-lutely. For the majority of us though this isn’t going to happen. But it’s a calling, a pursuit that we have to take part in, a vocation and a calling that speaks to our very souls. It is our duty, not only to ourselves but our very spirit, to take on the mission we were always destined to pursue. But I’m getting ahead of myself here, so let’s take it from the word go. Like anyone our day begins by getting out of bed.

From there it’s a variety of the following, but in the end we have as much (sometimes less, sometimes more) to do as the average non-writer type person to get done in a day. And then we still have to get in our time/word counts.

  1. Rise & Shine – or the variant of Groan & Grumble, Moan & Creak, Bitch & Bargain, etc.
  2. Freshen Up – otherwise known as beating down the bedhead, de-furring the tongue, and so forth
  3. Fuel For The Day – usually trying to slurp down a too hot coffee/tea too fast, burn the tongue/roof of mouth, and curse mornings; occasionally there might be a spare 2 seconds for something to eat
  4. Out The Door – this could involve kids, or just yourself and/or significant other, usually in a rush because despite all best laid plans you’re somehow behind schedule, not for the first time that year naturally
  5. Day Job – most authors have this beast of burden to contend with in one form or another unless they are lucky, or have sold extremely well to support themselves
  6. After Job/School Activities – folks with kids know there’s sometimes too many things to try to cram into one afternoon/evening, and yet somehow everything is always planned for the same night (sports games/finals, dance class/recitals, band practice/recitals, etc)
  7. Evening Relaxation – ensuring kids get watered and fed, usually a meal is crammed in there, homework (theirs or yours), etc
  8. Writing – now, unlike those who are lucky to have the daylight hours to write in while the house is partly or fully empty of small demanding beings, those of us with the Day Job get only a set number of minutes to hours to write in a night
  9. Inevitable Crash – bedtime, aka: when the muse really starts coming up with ideas but you’re too exhausted to care/write them down because you’ll remember in the morning, even though you won’t/don’t

Now, as mentioned there are variations on this, but the above is the gist of things of the “average” day for an author. Not only do we contend with everything non-writers do, we still have our actual career, our writing, to try and get time for in every single day. But it’s not JUST writing. For newbies and those who haven’t hit it “big”, we also have all the stuff some lucky authors have assistants for. Things like marketing, research, arranging for trips, conventions, etc. Which is 100% separate for the hundreds of daily tasks we still see to by ourselves, or at least oversee (grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning, bill paying, household fixes, etc, etc, etc.)

So, to those out there that say that writing isn’t a job or a career, that it’s a “cute hobby”, I say unto you – PFFT! I challenge you to step into the shoes of the average author and take our lives for a spin. Like anything out there until you’ve walked a mile in the shoes of the one you are belittling, zip it. You have no more right than anyone else to judge, just like we have no right to judge you in whatever you do. Mutual consideration, understanding, and compassion people. Get over yourself and realize that the first step to a better world is to stop judging that which you have never done and therefore do not know.

Recipe for success #FabulousFriday @AuthorMoira

Happy Friday everyone! It’s been a long week, but I’m happy to report that Mother Nature is apparently working on getting herself sorted out. We’ve been seeing blue skies with minimal clouds, and plenty of sun. I also saw a pair of robins out getting a snack, a sure fire sign that spring may have actually, and finally sprung. Fingers crossed! Now, onto the post – it’s a short one today. Too much sitting right after my chiropractor beats me up is exhausting.

Today’s post header is a lot misleading, but with a purpose. Too many people, ads, scammers, spammers, etc. all seem to have the “quick and easy, sure fire way, money making tips that THEY don’t want you to know about” formula that pulls in the unwary, or the lazy. Do. Not. Be. Lazy.

In this business of pouring out every emotion, thought, hope, dream, vindictive thought, guilty pleasure, and everything else onto paper – there is no quick way to shoot to the top. There are two types of authors who make it to the “big time”. Those who had plenty of luck on their side (right place, right time) and those who work hard. Those authors who fall into the first category still had to do a lot of the second. That’s right, hard work. But there is a trick to it, all you need to do is find out what works best for you, and put in the time and effort.

No, it’s not instantaneous, and no, it’s not easy. But to make it truly worthwhile you need to sweat it out, and have a couple sleepless nights. At the very least. In the end you’ll be all the more appreciative of the success, big or small, that you’ve gained. Because you earned it your way.

You need to think about writing, promo, and everything authoresque as that recipe you found online and are attempting for the first time. It may not work at all, or it may be just the ticket. But like any recipe you tackle sometimes it needs tweaking. Perhaps it had too much of this, and not enough of that. So you adjust and try again. Writing, like cooking or baking is always a work in progress. What may have worked a month ago may not be getting it done today. Don’t give up, just change how you’re looking at the problem.

Think outside the box you’re currently in. The air will do you good, and you never know what you might find out there. Can it be discouraging? Sure. But think of the euphoria you’ll feel when you find that right mix that gets you productive again. So get out there and find the recipe that works for you. Just don’t think it will always remain 100% the same.

Some pointers to help you on the long road:

  • Persistence is a virtue
  • Research is your friend
  • Watch and learn all you can
  • Ask questions when you hit a wall
  • Educate yourself, it’ll only help you get better
  • Set goals, from small to big to achieve each day for a sense of accomplishment
  • Learn when to step back and take a breath
  • and most of all, Don’t beat yourself up. This is a marathon not a sprint.

It’s a tough gig you’ve chosen, but knowing your limits and knowing when to push past them will get you far. Also, never be afraid to ask for help. The author community is vast and rather knowledgeable. Just make sure you know what you’re asking for to ensure no one feels their time is being wasted. We all get stumped from time to time, it’s okay if you do too. And, no matter what, keep on keeping on.

Rip the blinders off #FabulousFriday @AuthorMoira

Welcome to another Friday post folks. Gotta say, this week was better than last. My back, and hip are doing much better which makes me a much happier camper. The fact I can sit for more than ten minutes at a go makes everything easier – including writing. Today’s post is going to be some realities that, while covered before in various posts, need to be covered again. After all, no one considering becoming a published author should go into things blind. And many authors need a reminder. That being said, everything below is my personal view point, and/or opinion and no one else has had say in what I’ve posted.

Writing a book is easy. It damn well shouldn’t be. Yes, some stories come easier than others, but this is something that will be representing you for decades to come. Do you really want something out there you whipped up in an hour?

Every good idea’s already been done to death. Not by you it hasn’t. Every author in the world could write every fairy tale (for example) and not one of them would be the same as the others. Because not one author is the same as any other author. We all have our own views, our own thoughts, our own perceptions that make our fairy tale unique.

Being a full time author is the only way to go. If you can feasibly manage it, absolutely but most new authors (and even some long time authors) can’t. You need to be realistic, and do the math because you will NOT be making any money to live off of in the first year. Buy a cup of coffee, or get a decent meal – sure, live off, not even if you hit the NYT best sellers list. That first year sees more money going out than staying in your pocket. Which leads into a huge myth….

It’s an easy way to make tons of money. Stop right there. If you are in this only to make money then you need to reevaluate immediately. An author is an artist. Their art, the words they use to tell their vision, is a development that takes time, thought, and refinement. Pumping out works just to make money is what has caused a flooded market, and takes money away from those of us who are putting our hearts, and souls into every book we create.

There’s always ways to make it to the #1 spot. There are. Moral, and immoral ways. Moral ways are doing the work, putting out the best product possible, and advertising until your fingers fall off – all to gain the purchases that push you to the top. Immoral ways include “gaming the system”. This involves things like key word titles, specific tags that pull your book into nearly every genre on a site, and several other scummy tricks that take thousands of dollars away from hard working, honest authors. Don’t take the easy way out, in the end it hurts us all, but it will give you a black mark you’ll never get rid of.

Using pieces of other authors works. This is called, say it with me, PLAGIARISM. Or if that’s too tough for you to say, try THEFT or PIRACY. Yup, you got it. While you may “love” how an author wrote a particular section, use it for inspiration to make your own work better, don’t go and steal it in part or whole. For one thing, readers always can tell when they’ve read something previously even if it’s in an entirely different context. Particular words, turns of phrases are an entirely different beast – every author picks up something from their favorite reads and incorporates it into their write. But decent, law abiding authors do not EVER steal copyrighted material from another author. Can you say LAWSUIT? You will if you ever do this, and it could well cost you more than you have. Trust me, there have been several cases where a reader outed an author for their devious theft of materials. And they will never, ever write or earn a living again because of it.

Pseudonyms are good/bad. Many authors write under their own names. Authors, like myself for example, write under a pseudonym. I personally do it because of my day job work environment, and the requirement to keep my writing very separate from my real life existence. Other authors use a pseudonym because of family issues, privacy issues, or just because that’s what they’ve decided to do. The choice is entirely yours, and not something anyone else can decide for you. If you are comfortable with everyone you’ve ever known from diapers to today knowing you write whatever genre you’re going to be writing, use your own name. But whichever way you go, always keep your real life social media 100% separate from your author social media if you have young children. I say this only as a safety measure, and the fact authors can attract some weird (Misery by Stephen King anyone?) followers.

Publisher vs. going Indie. Again, this is something that only you can decide on. Each has their pros and their cons. See Jules Dixon’s post from Monday this week for some info on that, but do your own research. Some people, like myself, don’t have the time in the day to be an Indie author – you are literally responsible for everything. Others have the multi tasking gene to the extreme and thrive in such an environment. To each their own.

Social media options. There are many, and again this will be your personal preference what you do and do not get involved with. Facebook is a good start, and gives you the options of Pages. Twitter has it’s pros and cons, just like everything else out there. Do some research, talk to other authors in your position (publisher or Indie), and figure out works best for you. You can always get rid of, or take on more as you go along and discover what’s benefiting your career.

And last, but not least, one last myth that needs to be dispelled.

Making it to the New York Times (NYT) best seller list. For 99.5% of authors this is a fantasy. Do we all wish we could see our names on their list? Abso-fucking-lutely! It’s a huge coup for an author. But the reality is that in an over saturated market it is harder now than it was twenty years ago to get there. The other harsh reality you need to swallow is that you likely need to have an agent, be with a traditional (aka: paperback/hard cover print first) publisher, and have your editor on call at all hours to even get close. E-publishers aren’t in the same hemisphere as the traditional publishers. It’s much easier to get your book published through an e-publisher, like Evernight, but becoming a best seller is a lot harder. And being an Indie is even tougher. But nothing is impossible, and it’s always good to hold onto at least one dream no matter what it might be. It’s what keeps us motivated, writing, and creating new and fantastic stories each and every day.

Best piece of advise I have ever been given – never stop writing. Pretty simple, and yet some day’s it’s the most challenging thing ever.