Sunday, August 24, 2014

Two marketing ideas for writers to consider . . .

As August winds down, here are two marketing ideas that have inspired me AND that may be useful for you!

Birthday Month Reader Appreciation Sale.  It's Frank Zafiro's birthday this month. Frank's celebrating his birthday by setting a very special price -- 99 cents for ALL his e-books, ALL month. 

I've only read one of Frank's crime genre books so far, but I enjoyed his gritty, sometimes noir style that pushes the reader to reconsider the moral issues that crime solvers sidestep or face, at considerable cost either way. 

Frank's offer extends just to the end of August, though. Here's the link to his blog, to his Amazon page that lists his books, AND the link to Thriller Thirteen, an anthology of 13 crime/thriller novels that features a story by Frank -- some 3,520 pages for 99 cents!

I think having a birthday month sale is a great idea -- as is being a part of a writing anthology. 

Writers can plan their blogs? 

This second idea comes from a newsletter from The Book Designer (hosted by marketing guru Joel Freidlander) which featured Nina Amir's article, "How To Create a Blog Plan for Any Type of Book." 

Nina lays out how to plan posts for your blog so that they are focused around a theme and follow a neatly specific week-by-week, month-by-month plan that you -- and your readers -- can rely on. She suggests using your blog to build an e-book . . . post by post. 

I know a writer who's doing just this! Building an e-book, blog post by blog post. Check out Ruth Nestvold's blog for her very helpful series on Starting out as an Indie Writer. Ruth writes fantasy/science fiction and is a prodigious writer, with 16 published books and 4 works in progress. She takes the craft of writing seriously as well as sharing what she's learned about publishing and marketing. And her e-book will be forthcoming!

May your writing and marketing go well. 

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Four ways to write a little more . . .

Resting Kitty (Kevin Kosbab, FeedDog)
Who's ready to write? 

We all have our writing rituals, those little behaviors, like a cat peering out from a pillow or a dog settling into a nest of blankets, that ensure we are truly ready to write. Most mornings, I leap to work, inspired by my mini-outline from the last session, ready to work on what's next -- but that's AFTER I check e-mail.

Sometimes, though, between one major project and the next, we experience a lull in our writing. So here are four tips that may prompt your writing.  

1. Set aside time for exploratory writing. Dig into your character's back stories. Go ahead and draft a page or two (or a paragraph) that describes this person's attitudes about the great generalities -- life, love, their greatest hopes. Move from generalities to specifics. Include what they detest and what they fear most. Natter on about their dreams, when they have experienced joy. What were their most memorable experiences as a child, as a young man or woman? What will they never forget and why? 

2. Do a little research. Finding articles online remains a great distraction. But with a few key words, one or two articles can lead to insight and scenes for drafting.

For example, I have a teen-aged character in my current project who's fairly important, but he's shadowy, almost a stereotype. So in desperation, I looked up "behavior + teenager" and found several useful articles on teens and their developing brains that help me dig beneath the surface. 

These theories suggest that teens don't develop rationality until they are in their 20s. Their need to separate themselves from authority figures to create their own identity (called individuation) means lots of conflict. We can see that in a teen's willingness to test boundaries -- and how quickly that teen might defend dangerous behaviors or a dangerous friend. Because of hormones changing, teens also feel deeply and intensely; life with a teen can be filled with drama. All of this leads me, even in mid-19th Century, to see lots of potential conflict for my sixteen-year-old in the wilderness of Canada. 

3. Draw a portrait of your character with an illustrated map showing key events of her or his journey. I resisted trying this one because I simply do not draw very much. This kind of drawing -- do not lift the pencil or pen from the paper -- is like a trail that takes you to new insights. Somehow the brain relaxes as you scribble out the path, stopping to illustrate a key character or scene, sometimes with stick figures! You may find yourself surprised by what you learn from the drawing.

4. Make a commitment with a concrete deadline. Your promise to write can be to a writing group (lucky you, if you have a good face-to-face group), to an online writing community like The Internet Writing Workshop, or A Round of Words in 80 Days, or even Weds WIPpet, publishing a short excerpt from your current work in progress. Or, your promise can simply be to yourself. Key: Set a deadline and stick to it!

What strategies do you use to motivate your writing?

For your enjoyment, here's a very short video trailer (under a minute) for my just published Years of Stone.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

About the surprise . . .

Long ago and far away, I met a wonderful man, a Viet Nam veteran who wrote a book, though that doesn't define him. He had an agent in New York and loved to travel. I was entranced by his stories and his dreams. For whatever reason, his book, Reaching, made the rounds, and he collected a healthy handful of rejection letters. He stopped writing when our daughter, Rachel, was born.

Our 40th anniversary was last week. Like many partners, he can usually guess what 'the present' will be. Not this time. Rachel typed his old manuscript; I copy-edited and formatted it to Amazon's CreateSpace style, and ordered a proof copy.

Imagine the moment. We are at a rare lunch out at Anthony's, overlooking the Spokane River. He says, "Ah, a book." Then he says, "Ah, my book." He was surprised and pleased (I'm sitting there, thinking thank all the gods of writers, for even after all these years, I wasn't sure he would be pleased.) 

Allen, 1967
What's next? He doesn't want us to pursue the traditional path of agent/publishing house. In fact, he doesn't really want anything to do with the book. If we want to self-publish, he's OK. This quiet, modest, unassuming, and talented man wrote a book based on his experiences in Viet Nam. It's still, even 47 years later, a powerful story. We believe this story should be out in the world.

So sometime over the next few weeks, expect an announcement here. I'll be working on a new cover, making the editing suggestions he's mentioned, reformatting, and developing some sort of marketing plan. I'm not really sure how to move the book out to readers, but that's the next step for Reaching.

Meanwhile, my own writing continues. All is well.

Friday, August 01, 2014

99cents for Years of Stone! Just today!

Happy August 1st.

Today begins my Amazon Countdown deal for Years of Stone, 99c just for today. Check out this amazing read set in Australia in the mid-19th Century, when Tasmania was the dreaded penal colony, Van Diemen's Land. Can true love find its way?

Today is my anniversary. I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate than a lunch out with my dear hubby and this celebration pricebreak for my readers!


Tune in later today for another surprise.