Tuesday, January 28, 2014

My writing tools (or lack thereof...)

This is the 2nd post in the Writer's Blog Hop. Today were supposed to talk about the writing tools we use. I have to admit, I'm a little stumped on this one. I'm thinking...does my laptop count? What about coffee? Oh, and of course, I'll need the television to distract the kids.

 +  + 
= Writing (maybe)

When I'm actually writing, I don't use many specific tools. I don't know if I'd call myself a pantser, because I do plan out my plots beforehand, but I don't write out detailed outlines or anything like that. If anything, I just list ideas for scenes. Right now, this is the entirely of my notes for my current WIP:

Scenes (not necessarily in this order)
·      Emmy asks David, Patrick, and Xavier about the necklace.
·      "Let's dance." "There is no music." "There will be."
·      Thea's flashbacks? maybe

Yep, it's all very scientific. However, I am more likely to use tools during editing. Here are some of my favorites:

  • CTRL-F - Where would I be without you CTRL-F (although since I use a Mac, technically it's Command-F)? I use this during editing to sniff out to-be verbs, hesitation phrases, filler words, and more. I only wish I could use it to find accidental tense shifts, haven't found a quick fix for that.
  • My publisher's style guide - I hate this thing. It's this immense bible of writing rules. Tedious, annoying, details. But, hey, it's super helpful. It's a great place to start my edits and get rid of most common problems.
  • Beta readers & my editor - There really is no replacement for an experienced set of eyes on your MS. Sometimes I don't like hearing what they have to say, sometimes I think they're wrong, but more often than not, they catch important things that I would never have seen on my own.
  • Google - Sort of obvious I guess, but usually during my final editing pass (or earlier, depending on what it is), I go through my MS and Google anything and everything from the streets in a town look like, to how to take apart a gun, to what high school my characters would probably attend, just to make sure it all makes sense. I also use Google Maps (when working in the real world) to pinpoint where my scenes are taking place and how far it takes to get from one place to another.
  • A Timeline - My first book was an alternate history, so writing out an extensive timeline was important. However, I've realized how important it is for all books. It's so easy to make silly mistakes. I've found days that are way too long, and all sorts of other time passage problems. So now, I create a specific timeline for every chapter. For example, Chapter Five - March 2, 2014 (morning).
So, that's it! If you want to take part in this bloghop, put your link here.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Two Truths and a Lie: The 18 Truths Blogfest

It's time to play! Check out the Can You Handle The Truth blogfest from Jamie Ayres, to celebrate the upcoming release of 18 Truths, the sequel to 18 Things.

So, you know the game! I'll give you three statements about myself. You tell me which one is true. Then go post your own on your blog or on Facebook!

1) Both George Bush Sr. and George W. Bush attended my high school graduation.

2) On the day I graduated from college, I stabbed a knife all the way through my hand.

3) I once totaled my car by driving into waist deep water covering the road.

Comment and tell me which one you think is the lie!

Thanks for the fun blogfest Jamie!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

What Works - Online Marketing Symposium

Hello all! I'm a day late, but I'm excited to participate in the Online Marketing Symposium hosted by Arlee Bird, Yolanda Renee, Jeremy Hawkins, and Alex J. Cavanaugh. It's such a great idea. I look forward to reading the posts.

“On event day you tell us about a marketing idea that you've used and what worked or didn't work. Your post could describe a campaign that succeeded in a big or small way or one that failed drastically. Tell us about a business campaign, an organizational event, a fundraiser – anything where a bit of promotion was necessary!”

I'm an author, so my marketing attempts have been related to selling books. I've tried a variety of things, and although in aggregate, my attempts at marketing have probably increased sales, on the whole, I've felt like I've been putting in a lot of work for limited reward. So, I'm still looking for good ideas and am not flush with them myself.

As for traditional marketing, as in paid ads, I have bought ads through Facebook, Goodreads, and Google. None of them seemed to have a dramatic result, but I am happy with Facebook ads and will continue to use them. They're cheap, and it's an easy way to get more people to see your posts.

However, if you want lots of likes, my best bet has been joining large group giveaways where authors pool money to giveaway a Kindle or the like, and then use a Rafflecopter form where entrants like your page to get entries. I've gotten hundreds of likes that way. Laura Howard's recent giveaway was one of the most successful.

I think that marketing is often about doing a lot of little things that add up in the end, but if I had to choose ONE thing that worked well, the choice is easy.

The most effective sales tool I've found was attending the 2013 YAB Fest, a local author festival. This was awesome for the following reasons:

1) Sales. That's the whole point of marketing right? And, this worked. The festival bought several boxes of my paperbacks to sell at the festival and at their bookstore. I actually made some $$.

2) Connections with authors. I got to sit on a panel with some amazing authors, and met even more in the private author room. I ate lunch across from David Levithan, and sat next to Ernest Cline on the panel! And, although meeting famous people is cool, it's even better that I met other authors more like me--local authors that I became friends with like Krissi Dallas, Rachel Harris, Cory Putnam Oakes, P.J. Hoover, and Mari Mancusi. 

3) Connections with readers. It was so wonderful meeting local readers. I gathered a few new fans that I know will probably keep buying and reading my books, and that's obviously awesome. I have an awesome online network, but it has it's limits. I got to tap into a totally new group of potential readers, and was able to give my book to some new reviewers.

4) Connection with a book store. Because of the YAB fest, I made friends with Danny and Julie Woodfill of The Book Spot. They are likely to buy my future books and have shown interest in hosting a signing for me.

5) Free cupcakes. Okay, I'm joking on this one. But, the free cupcakes in the author room of the festival were really awesome. Thank you Cupprimo!

So, how did I manage to get such an incredible opportunity? I asked! I found the local festival online, and sent the organizers an e-mail, which I set up somewhat like a query letter. And, they said yes! So, it never hurts to ask.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Personal Writing Goals for 2014 #JFW

I found a blog hop that looked like a good way to energize my blogging for the new year.

From the hop:

“If you are a writer, you are invited to participate in a blog hop from January 13 – March 24, 2014. Please post on Mondays, every second week, on the themes given below. Once you’ve posted on your own blog, you will come back here and link in so other people can be introduced to your blog.”

January 13 – Personal Writing Goals for 2014

January 27 – Writing Tools I Use

February 10 – Character Sketch of My Hero

February 24 – Advice I’d Give a Newbie Writer

March 10 – My Favourite Genre

March 24 – My Current Work-in-Progress

Copyright Rogue Running

So, lets get started! For my first post I'll be writing about my writing goals for 2014. Now, I do have goals for 2014, namely I want to publish the first TWO books in The December People Series. However, in 2014, it's more important to me to embrace a new writing attitude.

My husband's running club, Rogue Running, has a new slogan. JFR. It means, "Just F***ing Run." Although very simple, and rather rude, I think it's great advice. It basically means, don't make it complicated, don't make excuses, just do it. And, it works great for writing too.

So, that's my goal for 2014. JFW.

Don't have time? JFW
Should really clean the house? JFW
Tired? JFW
What if I suck? JFW
What if no one buys my books? JFW
What should I do for marketing? JFW
Have I made the right choices? JFW
Infinite other issues. JFW

So, there you have it. Now, it's time for me to J...F...W!!!!