Thursday, February 26, 2009
Here are my top five ‘getting started’ tips for writing non-fiction."
1. Start typing and write out your message as if you're explaining the topic to someone you care about.
2. Write down everything you KNOW about the subject. (It may be more than you think!)
3. Split up your ideas into topics. Separate these topics into chapters.
4. Ask your friends (real or on-line) their thoughts on the subject. It's great to open up conversation.
5. Read a non-fiction book you love ... read until you get the rhythm and then start YOUR story on the page.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
This great advice is from Barbara Warren's February newsletter! Very good advice!
WRITING TIP OF THE MONTH:The writing tip this month will actually be a list of tips. Things we may know but need to remember.
Fiction is not reality, but it should sound real. We are asking the reader to suspend belief to accept what we write. If we do a good job, readers will believe, at least until they finish reading the story, that there really is life on some far out planet and they will identify with it. The reader will accept that animals can talk, that elephants can fly, or dinosaurs can be created with DNA from a fossil. But what we write must seem to be realistic. You, as a writer, are asking the reader to believe in something impossible, and that's fine, but those talking animals must have a human quality the reader can recognize and identify with. There must be universal feelings we all know and perhaps have experienced. If your reader identifies with your character he will care about what happens to this fictional person, even if the "person" is a robot, or an animal, and keep on reading about him. That's what we all want.
Don't be afraid to let your characters talk, and know them well enough you have some idea of how they sound. Your book needs to be at least ½ dialogue. Listen to the way people talk. Write down distinctive phrases and words. Don't let your characters speak perfect English. Let them talk the way you and the people around you talk. Resist the urge to have a character make a speech. Most of us don't hold forth sentence after sentence, unless we're angry and lining someone out. (in that case, I can go on for thirty minutes without taking a breath) Break up long passages of dialogue with action or another character speaking. Dialogue reveals what your character is like. So turn them loose and let them talk.
Don't have your character walk into a room and then stop while you, the writer, describes every stick of furniture, every ornament, and even the pattern in the wallpaper. Your reader will probably skip this. Instead have the character sit down in the red leather chair and pick up a letter opener and start opening the stack of mail. Let the canary in the cage by the window overlooking the river start to sing. Let your character glance at the gold-framed mirror and brush back her honey gold hair. Don't do all of this in the same paragraph of course, but pick two or three details and show them through your reader's actions.
Try not to have a grocery list of every thing the character does. She opens the door, walks down the steps, turns right at the sidewalk, walks to the car, opens the door on the driver side and gets in, turn the key, starts the motor and drives away. Just have her walk out, get in her car and leave. Let the reader use her imagination to fill in the rest.
Write for the eye. Before writing is read, it is seen. Long paragraphs of description or introspection, or even dialogue signals to the reader that this is something he can skim. Do you read every word in a half page paragraph? I didn't think so. So give the reader some white space. Break up those long paragraphs. Don't give that reader the slightest reason to skim one word of your wonderful prose.
And above all, keep writing. Try to write something every day. Don't write one book, send it out, and then never write again until you sell that one. The only way to keep our writing muscles in shape is to exercise them. Put the seat of the pants in the seat of the chair and pound that keyboard. That's the way to grow and develop your writing talent.
And read, read, read. Read books on writing, read in your genre, and read nonfiction to enlarge your perception of the world. God gave us the talent. Our job is to develop it.
Monday, February 23, 2009
"If you could say one thing to aspiring novelists, what would you say?"
Today we hear from a beloved author, Francine Rivers. Her advice comes from an interview C.J. did for TitleTrakk.com. If you'd like to read the full piece it can be found here. In the mean time, here's her response:"If you could say one thing to aspiring novelists, what would you say?"Commit your work to the Lord. Stay in Scripture every day so you’re being formed by it. That formation will come through in your writing in a natural way. The redemption story is the greatest story to tell. That’s what I think everyone hungers for, whether they know it or not. I believe God puts something in us to crave a relationship with Him. People tend to look in every possible place for the answer, and they’re not going to find it until they meet Jesus. The way I felt when I became a Christian was, “Finally I found what I’m looking for! I feel at home here. This is what I’ve been seeking my whole life.”
--Francine Rivers, bestselling author of Redeeming Love, the Mark of the Lion series, and many others. Visit her website here.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Currently, I'm trying to work smarter, not harder by considering who I am and my vision/mission. Even though I write in many genres there are some heart-messages that come through no matter what I write.
Because I'm focusing on my heart-messages, I'm using that as a core for everything I do. In the future my marketing efforts will work together, each book building up my core message. I won't market to a genre, instead I'll use each genre to promote the vision I desire to share with an audience. (Key work here being "plan.")
All that to say this is still in-process, but one I'm very excited about!
What you can be sure of is that you'll be seeing some changes. Maybe in the look of things. Maybe in the number of blogs I do. Maybe in the newsletters I send out. But hopefully the streamlining will help me to share my heart-message better and clearer ... and you'll get the nuggets without all the chaff!
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Another Monday morning tip from Gail Gaymer Martin at www.gailmartin.com
Internet marketing is probably one of the greatest resources authors have besides the powerful word of mouth. Another article that caught my eye had some ideas that I expanded to fit author’s needs. Below are five marketing techniques that have been proven to work. Make sure your promotion and message are attractive, communicate with action, and point to customers' needs
1. Offer an irresistible free gift. Make sure the customer signs up for your newsletter to receive this gift. Though it can be digital or audio, occasionally a physical gift which gives you addresses -- and can help you organize a book tour in the areas where you have the most readers. Whatever you give them, make it worthwhile. Perhaps you could offer them a discount coupon if they order a book through you.
2. Craft e-mail messages that spark emotions and action. If you're not excited about your project or message neither will the visitor to your web page be. Make sure the subject line of your email is catchy and bring the message in the email to life with your own enthusiasm. Give them reasons to relate to your books or message.
3. Create an online sales page that moves people to action. Using links to your books at on-line book stores is an active way to help those interested in purchasing or reading more about your book, but don't forget that being an affiliate will also bring in some revenue for you. It's not that difficult to sign up for those programs and to use the links that will identify you as the source of the sale.
4. Use auto-responders to build relationships and extend offers. Many subscription and notification features provide an automatic response to the subscriber so they know they have been successful. If you can personalize with a thank your for subscribing, all the better. Making the reader or responder feel as if you care is a key to them being faithful to you as a customer. Keep the tone friendly and always provide a way for them to opt out.
5. Build your potential customer list with joint ventures, affiliates, and social media. Once again networking is important and places like FaceBook, LinkedIn, and Shoutlife offers the opportunity to form groups of fans and groups for genre-oriented readers and also they allow you to send bulletins, events and blogs that they will receive on their homepages that will allow you to advertise your books and your appearances.
If you'd like to read the original article by Christine Comaford, Click here: Five Proven Internet Marketing Techniques I have taken this information and geared it more for authors and I hope you find it helpful.
Hey, friends! Jennifer Devlin here again with encouragement as you continue your publicity trek. Today let’s decide we won’t live in fear of rejection. Fear. Now there’s a topic we think of often but don’t mention much. Let’s just go there for a minute, shall we?
As a self professed “chicken momma” I guess I’m sort of the armchair expert on the issue of fear. Learning to move past my own sense of shortcomings and resolving to step out in faith has been my daily mountain to climb for years. With each step, I find God to be incredibly merciful and completely faithful. My obedience partnered with His equipping results in a life greater than I ever imagined.
What about you? Are you conquering fear, or is it conquering you?
Not sure? Take a look at how you approach publicity and marketing. Press kits, book signings, blog tours, postcards, websites, social networking, and all the other avenues we discuss on this blog are great. But, if God is calling you to step out in a different direction from the crowd, and you don’t try it because you aren’t sure how it will end up, isn’t that hesitation the same thing as fear? Fear of the unknown result?
Sometimes the publicity we have become accustomed to is the comfort zone keeping us from where God would have us go. Our press kits can become a self-loving packet of kudos and creativity that does nothing more than stroke our own ego – if it lacks the message that will meet the need of the reader.
If we live by human accolades, running around in our comfort zone, afraid of stepping out into unfamiliar waters, are we living above fear, or simply denying its presence?
If we live a life where we simply thrive on “believing our own press” (or press kit quotes), we dwell in the land of the human. The temporal. The limited. Let’s you and me decide to live above the fray – in the flow of God’s Spirit – in the place where God is allowed to move on our behalf, because we’ve set fear aside and pressed on in spite of our insecurities.
Read the rest here!
Monday, February 16, 2009
"If you could say one thing to aspiring novelists, what would you say?"
I'm pleased to feature a publicist's perspective:Vicky Welch!
Remember that writing is just the beginning. When your book is accepted by a publisher and the manuscript is complete, your second job begins. It's time to market yourself! Many authors would love to leave it up to your publicist, and that may be possible, but many of the most successful authors I've worked with are masterminds at self promotion.
Read the rest here!
Friday, February 13, 2009
"If you could say one thing to aspiring novelists, what would you say?"
Lisa Samson enlightens us today with this response: My advice is really, really simple: Read well. Read at least five great books for every writing how-to book. Read the top quality writers in your genre. Don't waste time reading books you could have written with your present level of expertise.
--Lisa Samson, author of Embrace Me, the Hollywood Nobody series, and much more. Visit her online at her website here.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
"If you could say one thing to aspiring novelists, what would you say?"
Author Terri Kraus chimes in today: Remember that writing is an art, not a science. Don't obsess about "the rules". (That's what editor's are for!) Don't be paranoid about "getting it right." (There is no single right way.) Find your own voice. What you DON'T want is sounding like everyone else. Write with passion! Tell the story that's in your heart. Go out on a limb a little, and take some risks. That's how you get noticed.
--Terri Kraus, author of The Renovation, and many other novels. Visit her online at her website.
Monday, February 9, 2009
1) I share MY experiences and do not put down other peoples' actions. I don't want to slander anyone, just share my story.
2) I ask permission. I had my husband and my kids read my mothering memoir Blue Like Play Dough before the draft was sent into the publisher. I also specifically asked permission to share some "challenging" moments in my kids' lives before I even wrote them.
3) Most of the stuff God asks me to share is stuff I'd rather keep hidden. I don't like spilling my flaws, but when I feel His Spirit nudging I know I need to follow. I've written about my abortion, teen pregnancy, and marriage struggles as a young woman. I wrote about a boyfriend popping up in my life less than five years ago. And then I spoke about it on Focus on the Family. (Yikes!) These are things that my flesh wanted to hide, yet God knew that my experiences could offer hope and healing to others.
4) Also, during the writing of my mothering memoir my editor Liz Heaney was a great judge of "depth/truth" in my writing. For example, things I wanted to skim over she made me take another look at. My assistant does this to me too. I can hear them even now, "Dig deeper." So sometimes the best way to share with transparency is to have another set of eyes reading your words and questioning motives/desires. Digging deeper makes the writing real, not showy and fake.
I hope that helps!
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Tips For Using Twitter ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Bookgal.
If you've pondered using Twitter, but aren't sure how to use it effectively or if you've been on Twitter for a while and aren't sure if you're maximizing it as you should be, here are some quick tips to give you some great twittering-ideas:
· Teach stuff - teach a little mini-lesson on Twitter. Delve into your area of expertise or just talk about book publishing and how to get published. · Share sites or blogs that your followers would be interested in. Be their "filter" to new and exciting information.
· Use Tweetlater.com to post tweets to your account for later posting so you don't have to be sitting on top of Twitter every minute of the day.
· Use Twitter as a news source: you can easily announce news both from your world (as long as it relates to your topic) and from the world of your expertise. So for example I've done tweets on book industry stuff, breaking news, etc.
· Widen your network - follow other Twitter folk, this will not only give you some ideas for your own "tweets" but it's a great way to network with other writers or professionals.
· Offer advice: use Tweetdeck.com or Twitter Search ( search.twitter.com) to see who's asking for info on your area of expertise and then offer them some help/insight. This is a great way to build relationships.
· It's ok to market yourself but be careful about pimping your stuff too much.· Be Original, useful and helpful.
· If you're on tour with your book or doing an event, tweet on that and invite your local followers to attend.
· Tweet any good reviews your book gets, it's always fun to share the good stuff!· Every Tweet counts (don't tell people you're washing your cat) don't just tweet on useless stuff or you'll lose followers.
· It's not all about you (again, back to the cat) people want to know useful stuff, I know, it's getting repetitive but there's a reason: it's important.
· Promote your Twitter account in your email signature line and on your blog.
· Network: don't expect your followers to grow if you're not following other people. Network, search for others in your area and follow them.
· Personal is ok. Even though I said not to post useless information it's still not a bad idea to (from time to time) post a personal Tweet or two. Provide value and twitter-followers will beat a path to your door.
· Follow everyone who follows you. You can use sites like Socialtoo.com and Tweetlater.com to autofollow everyone who follows you. These services can also send a nice welcome message to your new followers.
· There is a lot of noise on Twitter, the sooner you get comfortable with that the better. It's like being at one massive cocktail party, you have to find ways to filter out the noise. Sites like Tweetlater can help you do that.
· Embed a link or some other sign up in your welcome message, this is another great way to capture emails for your newsletter (assuming you have one).
· Use sites like Tweetlater or Twitter Search to see who's talking about you and then follow them too or comment on their tweet.
· It's ok to repeat your tweets. With the volume of messages people get your followers will often miss some of your posts.
· Feed your blog through Twitter using Twitterfeed.com.
· Join Help a Reporter out @skydiver for tweets on media leads (it's a great service!).· Don't feel like you have to respond to every tweet, but I generally try to respond to all tweets that are replies to mine (you can find these under @replies on your Twitter home page).
· Want to stay on top of your market and find stuff to Tweet about? Then go to Alltop.com and search for your category. There are thousands of them up there. Here are a few to consider: socialmedia.alltop.com, twitter.alltop.com and publishing.alltop.com.
· Review a product or book on Twitter.
· Follow big names in your market on Twitter: this will often bring in their followers too and you want to see what the "big guys" are up to.
· Get a good picture: don't leave your avatar blank. Personalize your page if you can but a good Twitter picture is a must.
· Tweetbeep.com is a lot like Google alerts. You can plug in your keywords and you're pinged each time they are used.
· Are you ready to add pictures to your Tweets? Then head on over to Twitpic.com, this site will let you upload pictures and tweet to them.
· Videos can also be shared on Twitter and 12seconds.tv is a great way to record a video (12 seconds long, hence the name) and share it with your followers.
· Music on Twitter is also possible thanks to TwittyTunes: http://www.foxytunes.com/twittytunes/. This site is great for sharing music and it has a simple Firefox add-in that lets you Twitter on music you're currently listening to!· Keep Twittering, followers will come if you keep updating your Twitter account.
Not sure what to Twitter About? Check out these creative Twitter sites!http://twitter.com/celebritygossip
More on Twitter
Twitter, the little micro-blogging site that could, has seen an enormous growth lately. Traffic to the site has nearly doubled in the last two months, seeing 1.2 million unique visitors per month. Twittering or micro-blogging (as it's commonly referred to) is getting bigger each day as applications for this form of promotion continue to grow. Don't believe me? http://www.webpronews.com/topnews/2008/05/16/traffic-to-twitter-nearly-doubles-in-two-months.
Fun Twitter Stuff
If you're still confused about what Twitter is, check out this easy-to-understand YouTube video: Twitter in Plain English: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddO9idmax0o
Ready for more fun Twitter applications?
TwitterMail: http://twittermail.com/ - supplies you with a personal email address. If you send an email to that address it will be posted to Twitter.
Is Twitter a popularity contest? Yes, without a doubt. Find out how you rank in the grand scheme of Twitter fame: Twitter Quotient: http://web.forret.com/tools/twitter-tq.asp.
Find out if you're a Twitter hero or BIG zeroAddicted to Twitter? You're not the only one. Check out the most popular micro-blogs on Twitter: http://www.twitterholic.com/.
Ready to update Twitter from your phone? Check out Twitter Fone: http://www.twitterfone.com/.
Ready to follow some other Twitterers but not sure who you should be following? Head on over to Who Should I Follow, http://www.whoshouldifollow.com/, plug in your Twitter user name and it'll pop up results appropriate to your Tweets.
And if that's not enough, try following @mrtweet, when you do this service will send you back a list of people who are top in your category that you should follow. Tres cool!
Ready to make some quick cash? Twitter me this, http://www.twittermethis.com/, is a site that will ask a random question, if you're the first one to answer you win $5. Just enough for a latte. Not bad. I haven't won anything yet but I'm still hopeful.
If the Twitter-language has you confused check this out, it's every possible Twitter-term you'd ever want to know (and maybe a few you don't): http://www.sitemasher.com/smblog2/2008/10/my-twittonary-every-twitter-term-and.html.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Some people don't like fiction because it's "not real" and "a waste of time," but personally I think that well-written fiction can draw readers toward the gospel.
For example, in my first novel From Dust and Ashes I interviewed dozens of World War II veterans for research. Of course these men wanted to read the completed novel, so I sent each one a copy. Some of the men were Christian, some were Jewish, and some had no faith. Still, I didn't get one negative comment about the salvation message in the story. In fact, one Jewish man ordered many copies for all his friends!
In the book, I used the story of the Edelweiss to share the gospel. This flower is found in the high alps and young men would climb the mountains to bring back a flower for their true loves. Many a young lover died attempting to show his devotion. In my novel one character tells another, "Jesus is like that lover, yet he climbed that mountain knowing he was going to die to prove his love." In this book a Nazi officer's wife actually gets on her knees and accepts Christ.
One veteran wrote back listing 24 different "research" things I'd gotten right. Then he ended his letter by saying, "You did a great job writing this story, now can you tell me more about your faith in Jesus?" You can believe I wrote him back that day! Because I was diligent about getting the facts of his (the veteran's) story right the man was interested in HIS (Jesus') story. How exciting!
Also, years after it was published I also received an email from a Swiss girl who'd read the book in German. She said, "When Helene got on her knees and accepted Christ, I did too."
In writing historical fiction I've learned my reader will trust the author by the correct research ... and sometimes this trust can make an eternal difference.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
I have nine novels published and two more that will be out this year. Personally, I use very small traits to describe point-of-view characters. For example:
"She tucked a strand of her curly hair behind her ear."
That's a simple example, but there are other ways to give hints of what the character looks. I try to stay in my character's point-of-view as closely as possible, and I only show things through their eyes/thoughts.
One way to share description is to relate how other people react to my character. For example, this is a few paragraphs near the opening of my book, A Shadow of Treason. The point-of-view character is Deion.
"They pressed on to what Deion assumed was the door to the basement. Though it was still in its frame, it was twisted and crushed. Cautiously he pushed against it, gaining mere fractions of an inch with each groaning effort. When he could finally see past it, four faces peered up at him. Two women, a young girl, and a baby blinked at him, as if trying to focus. Deion didn’t know if their wrinkled brows were due to the sunlight or the color of his skin. They’d most likely never expected a colored man to rescue them, especially after hearing the horrible tales of the Moors from Africa who fought with the Nationalists.
The woman studied Deion’s face for a moment, then slowly blinked her eyes and handed him the baby. He snuggled the sleeping child to his chest, and a warmth surged through his frame. He’d never felt more alive."
This shows that Deion is a colored man, and someone the other character's aren't expecting.
Here is another example of how I described the priest, Father Manuel. (All these examples are from A Shadow of Treason.) You can see how I slid in a few descriptions in with the action:
"The man motioned toward the steps of the council building, and they walked toward it. He turned and sat easily, while Father Manuel slowly lowered himself, feeling twice as old as his thirty years. Then the man pulled out two apples from his jacket pocket and handed one to the priest.
Father Manuel took the offering as his stomach rumbled. Without hesitation he silently mouthed a prayer of thanks and took a large bite, the sweet moistness filling his mouth. He wiped away the juice that escaped down his chin."
And here is one more:
"Ramona clung to the wooden sideboard of the canvas-covered truck as it chugged along the hilly road toward Bilbao, transporting injured soldiers to safety. The vehicle lurched to avoid a pothole, and she clung tighter, noticing that even though her hands looked red and raw from constantly scrubbing up for surgeries, her gold wedding band still sparkled in the light shining through the open back canvas."
This tells that Ramona is a nurse and married, without stating it outright.
As you can see, bits of description can be adding in to the story without it feeling like an information dump. I'd love to see an example of your writing. Leave it in the comment field.
Monday, February 2, 2009
from Rita Gerlach at Stepping Stones Magazine for Writers. "This award is given to writers whose novels, websites, and blogs contribute to the promotion of the historical genre. I am also awarding it to you for your outstanding writing."
Wow. What an honor. Thanks so much Rita and Stepping Stones!