Wednesday, February 24, 2010
I'll be back either the end of next week or the Monday of the week after. See you on the other side (and hopefully I won't be crazy).
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Of, pertaining to, or occurring in the state of drowsiness preceding sleep.
Some weeks I feel like I'm walking around in a constant hypnagogic state. *stumbling*
Monday, February 22, 2010
If you've been at writing fiction for very long, chances are you've heard about character arcs, plot arcs, subplot arcs, and just about any other arc you can think of. But, if you're like me, you may not have considered Emotion Arcs.
People read fiction for a lot of reasons--a good story, to be scared, for entertainment, to revisit the rush of romance, etc.--but ultimately they read a story for the emotion it makes them feel. And, conversely, they will quit reading a book for the same reason. I have tried to read some books that were so disturbing to me emotionally that I had to quit. I'm sure the writing was good, the characters well-done, and the plot put together in all the right ways, but I couldn't read it because of how it made me feel.
The emotion readers get from a book (and this absolutely goes for non-fiction as well) is what stays with them, and is the most important byproduct of your writing. It is what will keep them looking for your books. It's also what make them throw your book across the room and vow to never crack open anything with your name on it ever again. If they don't feel much of anything, that lack of emotion will make them forget you. Ultimately readers have to care. And if you make them care enough, then they just might become fans big enough to camp out all night and have release parties when your next book is unveiled and dress up as your characters or name proms after them.
So it's a good idea for writers to pay attention to the emotion they want the readers to feel. There's an overall emotional arc you want through the entire book. Maybe you want admiration for your heroine, followed by sympathy for her plight, then the tingly twitterpated feelings when it looks like she and the dashing hero might get together, and then horror when you find out he's the murderer your heroine has been investigating, and frantic anxiety when he has her hostage, and then vengeful satisfaction when she pretends to succumb to his seduction, only to push him off the edge of the Empire State Building.
The entire book has an emotional arc, but it's also important to make sure that each scene has one as well. Figure out what you want your reader to feel for each scene, then determine what elements will get you that emotion. There's a good chance that what plague scenes in your story that don't seem to work but you can't figure out why is either a lack of emotion, unfulfilled emotion, or the wrong emotion.
Something to think about.
Today's writing advice: Get Emotional--On Purpose.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Example: I hatitter when the twelementary school piles on #schoolprojects all at twonce. #Bangmytwheadonthewallitter
For those who may need to brush up on actual twitter terms, here are a few (not in any particular order):
twitterspeak = the language of Twitter
(Oh yes, there is a language.)
tweet = a post on Twitter
(Although a good friend of mine calls her posts "twits", just because we love that word.)
tweeple = people on Twitter
*or, if you want to be cooler*
tweeps = your Twitter peeps
tweetup = when Twitter users meet in person
twitterverse = the Twitter universe
RT = retweet
(Basically quoting another person's tweet.)
# = a topic hashtag, like #kidlitchat, #writerwednesday, #amwriting, #NaNo
@ = indicates a username
(I'm @Bookmom2000. I've thought about switching to my actual name, but I haven't gotten around to it.)
#FollowFriday or #FF = where Twitter users share people that they think are worth following.
(I personally don't mind the practice, but I've read several places where people hate it and say that they stay off Twitter on Fridays because of it.)
DM = abbreviation for Direct Message, or sending a tweet to only one person
@ reply = replying to a person on Twitter where anyone else can see. You tag their username onto your tweet so they know you're talking to them.
tweeterbox = someone who tweets too much
twitterati = the A-list people everyone wants to follow
(Like me! ;)
autofollow = following someone automatically if they follow you
(I don't autofollow.)
For a more complete list, here's a link to Mashable's Twitterspeak: 66 Twitter Terms. But to be honest I haven't seen most of those terms in my adventures on Twitter.
And yes, believe it or not, there is an actual Twittonary. *Warning: From the tiny bit of browsing I did it has some very snarky entries.
Oops. Sorry. I meant to say it has snarkyitter twentries. #amusingbutpotentiallyvulgar
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Shauna must be a little bit psychic, because I couldn't have chosen a better lead-in to the post I was thinking about writing for today. Yes, I have been working my tail end off with Holly Lisle's How To Revise Your Novel Course, which I have been paying for and, in my opinion, has been totally worth it. Each week comes with a lesson, worksheets, and specific examples with a demo novel, in this case a NaNo novel that a brave soul let Holly use in its full, rough draft, un-glory.
What I have loved about this course is that you spend a week focusing on a certain aspect of fiction, like world-building, characters, conflict, subplots, etc. So far we've gone through and found in great detail how and where our books have crashed and burned in each area--and why. I can guarantee my next rough draft will be better than the one I'm using, because I see things I wouldn't have before. And the great thing is that somewhere around the 5th or 6th read-through, I started getting all these ideas on how I could fix this book.
The process shows how to focus on the big problems, rather than wasting time tweaking sentences in a scene that really should be cut anyway. And once I learn these things, I'll be able to do it much faster. I will definitely be sharing more of my epiphanies in the future.
So now that I've answered Shauna's question and gushed a little bit, here's the opportunity I wanted to share with you. Not only do I like the way Holly Lisle approaches things, but this is really a fantastic deal for $5. Even if you only learn a couple things, it's worth the price of a trip to Starbucks, right?
The info, straight from Holly Lisle's email notification:
Crash Revisions: How To Revise A Novel In Seven Days
Here's the scenario: Well-Known-Writer Britta Brigga blows her deadline, and leaves the lead slot for her category in the month her book was to be published wide open. So your editor, who has your manuscript sitting on her desk, emails you, saying, "If you can get the revisions done for me in a week, I can get YOU into that slot---with the lead slot budget and advertising and promotion. IF you can turn the book around in a week."
This is not a hypothetical situation. It's happened to me once with a full-on NYT bestseller's slot and promo budget as the prize, (and in lesser situations, where the move up was simply to a better sales month, it's happened SEVERAL times)...and it happens to everyone from beginners with their first manuscript sitting on an editor's desk, to old-timers who've published a dozen or more novels in their careers. It's the equivalent of having a star pitcher in baseball blow a rotator cuff, and being the rookie who gets The Call up from the minors to pitch in the pros.
And it happens frequently, because there are a LOT of writers who can't or won't hit their deadlines. Bad for them. Great for you. It's a fantastic opportunity to move your book into a better position to be seen. If you can do it.
In Crash Revisions, you'll learn how to do an editor's revision in seven days. And how YOU become the pro who doesn't blow deadlines.
The FIRST Day: The Fast Target, and How You Build It
*What Your Editor Wants
*What You Want
*What You DON'T Have Time For
*Assumptions That Kill---Your Editor's AND Yours
*Putting It All In Order
The NEXT THREE Days: The Focused Cut, and How You Prep It
*What You MUST Fix
*What You WANT To Fix
*What You MUST Avoid
The LAST THREE Days: The Lightning Write-In, and How You Control It
*What You'll See
*What You Have To Ignore
*Using Target And Cut To Get What You Want
See why it's a great deal at $5.00? That's right, folks. Only $5! You can sign up here at Savvy Authors here.
I'm already signed up, and I'd love for some of you to join me. :)
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
1. Authentic; genuine.
2. Superior; first-class.
Nothing beats the pukka fish dishes you get at coastal seafood restaurants; when you live several hundred miles from the ocean, the fish often tastes like it.
Monday, February 15, 2010
The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.
Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company ... a church ... a home.
The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past. We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable.
The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude ... I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me, and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you ... we are in charge of our Attitudes.
Me: Take charge of the 90%!
Thursday, February 11, 2010
In parenting you often hear about taking advantage of the Teaching Moments. Wouldn't it be nice if life had a notification sound for when it is a Teaching Moment, like when you get a text? You know, you could be in the middle of juggling homework, dinner, and a phone conversation. Then from the air you hear Beep-Beep-Bedeep. And instantly you know this is a Teaching Moment.
I think the newest iPhone should have that feature--a Teaching Moment App. (Steve Jobs, contact me later and we'll chat.)
Even though I don't have a Teaching Moment notification, I did manage to catch a Teaching Moment a few weeks ago. It was a "Teach the Evils of Buying Things on Credit" Teaching Moment. It went over like a lead balloon, but Teaching Moments are often like that.
Kidlet 1 and Kidlet 2 love the video game system they got for Christmas, but they don't have many games to go with it. One day, Kidlet 1 wanted to go to the used game store and spend some of his saved allowance money. He approached Kidlet 2 with the idea of splitting the cost of the game, and then both could play it. This would have been a great idea except Kidlet 2 spends his allowance as quickly as his lungs convert oxygen into carbon dioxide.
So Kidlet 2 didn't have enough money to pay for half of the game, and in order for him to be able to play it, he had to pony up half the price, which he didn't have. Kidlet 2 approached the bank (i.e. mom) to see if he could borrow against his next allowance payment. Mom thought for a moment about the state of the world's economy because of rampant debt, and said, "No."
The weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth began.
And, as happens in Teaching Moments such as this, Kidlet 2 did not appreciate the comment that next time he wants to blow $6 on Dippin' Dots, maybe he should reconsider what else that $6 could buy.
Good thing Kidlet 2 doesn't actually have laser vision, or mom would have gone up in flames.
But I bet he thinks twice about those Dippin' Dots next time.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Number of days I religiously kept track until life intervened & I said "Forget it!": 3
In those 3 days, my time was spent doing:
Mommy/life stuff (like karate, dance class, cooking, cleaning, doing homework, supervising piano, paying bills, taking showers, eating, grocery shopping, etc.): 30 hours
Sleep: 22.5 hours
Exercise (including driving to and from the gym): 4.6 hours
Writing: 4.3 hours
Email (this was not emailing for fun, but mostly emailing for things that I am in charge of): 4.1 hours
On the phone (usually while doing other things like dishes): 1.9 hours
Down time (watching TV, reading, hanging out with the family): 1.25 hours
Blogging (writing my own or reading other blogs-which I know I've been horrible at lately): 1.2 hours
Twitter/Facebook: 1 hour
Non-email tasks related to the conference I am coordinating (the 2010 LDStorymakers Writers Conference - it's a good one!): .6 hours
That comes out to a total of 71.45 hours accounted for out of 72 hours in a 3 day period, and .55 hours unaccounted for. That roughly 30 minutes were most likely taken up by staring at the computer screen when I should have been doing something productive.
Even though I didn't make it a whole week, I did learn from recording what I did for three days. I learned that email takes up a lot of my time, that I spend more time on Twitter than I thought, that I need to dedicate more time each day to just writing, and being a mommy really is my full-time job (with the hours to prove it).
Have any of you tried recording what you do every day? It can be an eye opener.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
To move in a clumsy manner or with a heavy tread.
It never ceases to amaze me how my petite daughter can galumph down the stairs like an elephant.
Monday, February 8, 2010
So you want to write a book. Guess what? You’re not alone. According to some surveys, 80 percent of the
Well, if you’re one of those 80 percent, then how do you get from wanting to actually writing a book? Drum Roll… The first step is to have a good idea.
Stay with me here. I am betting that a good chunk of people wanting to write a book don’t actually know what they want to write a book about. You know, you just have this nebulous idea that writing a book about . . . well, something . . . would be really cool. You first need to figure out what that “something” is. So let’s delve a little into the realm of ideas.
How do authors get their ideas?
The answer to this is as varied as authors themselves. I get my ideas for non-fiction because of a need in my own life which I notice isn’t addressed very well. For example, I wrote Parenting the Ephraim’s Child because of what I couldn’t find in other parenting books. Think of a book that you would like to read but haven’t been able to find, then write it.
Believe it or not, I have way more fiction ideas than non-fiction ideas. I have a notebook full of story ideas, and these story ideas have come in many different ways.
It may be that I see a news article or hear about something, and think what if. For example, in today’s headlines is the story “Boy Once Confined to Bubble Emerges Seemingly Healed.” A 7 year-old boy who has a genetic mutation called NEMO (what endless title possibilities!) finally emerges from his bubble. This could be a great coming-of-age story. Or what about a fantasy where not only does the genetic mutation cause immune problems, but maybe superpowers too? Or this could be a story from the parents’ point of view. What would it be like to be the mother of this child? How would it impact siblings?
Sometimes I’ll just have an idea for a dilemma. What if you had to pretend insanity to keep from being killed for political reasons, for example. Jodi Piccoult writes excellent dilemma books. One of my favorites, My Sister’s Keeper, is based on the dilemma of one child that has leukemia and parents that have another child to be a matched donor for the first.
You can even take a story and think how you could twist it in a completely different way. Fractured fairy tales like Robin McKinley writes—Spindles End (Sleeping Beauty), Beauty (Beauty and the Beast), and Rose Daughter (another retelling of Beauty and the Beast)—are great examples of this.
The book I am currently working on originally stemmed from a story I told my son on a rainy day to keep him entertained. He asked to be told the story again and again. The idea then morphed when I heard of the title for another book and decided to do a little research. I have combined both ideas into my current project.
I get many ideas from music. Not the lyrics of music, but the feel of a song. The idea for the next book I’m going to write, in fact, popped almost complete into my head while listening to a song in the car one day. I can’t listen to that song when writing anything else, because it belongs to that one book. And when I start writing it, all I have to do to get in the right mood is play that song.
So, there you go. A few ideas on how to get ideas. I’m sure there are many other ways and I would love for anyone to share other ways they get ideas. The point is, ideas are everywhere, and if you’re a writer at heart, you will find them.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
I plan on doing more blog posts about Twitter, and I think this one will start us off nicely.
(This excludes the normal awful stuff like Marketing Bots, Porn Bots, etc.)
1. Over-abbreviation. I know it's only 140 characters. And I know it's sometimes challenging to fit it all, but shoving a paragraph in a single tweet by abbreviating everything is gouge-my-eyes-out annoying--and hard to decipher.
Example: Wnt 2 the mall & fnd ths delcs chclt appls. Cst a fortn but so wrth th prc cz chclt is hevn on erth.
2. Quotes, quotes, and more quotes. I love a good quote as much as anyone else, but that doesn't mean all your tweets should be quotes. Unless you're @iheartquotes. If not, then throw in some of your own thinking.
3. Everything you eat--in real time. I don't mind you mentioning what you eat, especially if it's entertaining, like "Had knock down drag out with my kids over the last of the macaroni & cheese." But I don't need to know what you have for every meal, as well as snacks in between. I might get tempted to reply with calorie counts.
4. Nothing but links. I love the links to good stuff, but if I don't have any sort of idea of who you are or why you're linking to something, I don't follow the links.
5. ALL CAPS ALL THE TIME. I feel like you're yelling at me. Besides, what do you do if you really want to emphasize something?
6. Twitter pics that mean nothing. Okay, so it's a fuzzy picture of your dog's nose. And that means...what?
7. Really vague tweets. I don't know if you're trying to sound mysterious, if you want us to think your life is awesome, or if you don't know how to cram it all in 140 characters, but I'd like at least *a little* detail.
Example: Just had the best experience ever!
What was the best experience? Writing the tweet? Bathing your dog? Mud wrestling?
8. Nothing but self-promotion. Twitter is a great platform for letting people know about events or news relating to your career, but please throw in some other things besides self-promotion. Just a few?
9. Follower Collecting. You know, the tweets like Follow me. Please?! *oozing desperation* or I'm trying to get 50 million followers by midnight or whatever. And if you follow 52,000 people, I'm going to lump you in this category, too. However, if you're gathering followers for a cause, like donating money to the Haiti earthquake victims, then I'll let you slide on this one.
10. TMI. Even though you tweet from the privacy of your own computer, phone, netbook, etc. remember that Twitter is a public venue. Please, please, please don't share information that we really don't want to know and wish we could burn from our brains.
Example: The doctor told me I would quit getting nose bleeds if I would just keep my finger out of there.
So there you have it, my 10 Things Not To Do When Tweeting. Don't worry if you've committed infractions, I'll still give you a second chance before I hit the Unfollow or Block button.
Are there any that you'd add to the list?
* Side note: Here's a really interesting article, "Are you Fun to Follow on Twitter?" by Tammy Erickson. She helps you know things To Do When Tweeting.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Besides, it's a lot of pressure to pick just one humiliating moment and give it the title of Most Embarrassing Moment. Is my most embarrassing moment when I jumped on the back of some strange guy who looked like my then-boyfriend from the back? Or is it when a swear word popped out of my mouth in front of everyone at my wedding brunch? (I plead extreme stress and sleep deprivation in that case.) Or perhaps the most embarrassing moment would be that time I forgot my shirt in high school and had to walk around all day with a coat in the sweltering heat... oh, wait. That one was just a dream. (Thank goodness.)
But today I'm actually going to share one of my top embarrassing moments. For it to make sense, you'll need a little bit of Jaime's Backstory. I was raised by my divorced, single mother in a small town. We were very poor, but I was able to overcome a lot of that through hard work. I love music and dancing, and in high school I was on the school dance team for three years.
Then came college. I spent the first year after high school working full time and taking night classes at a local school to save up enough money for a bigger college. I was accepted as a sophomore to a large university, which also happened to have a dance team. Great! I'd loved my dance team in high school, I'm a hard worker, and I learn quickly, so I decided to try out.
I drove four hours, got lost on campus, and finally found my way to a gym *packed* with skinny, flexible, girls and a horde of spectators. That's when I realized that small town me might be out of my depth. I didn't have the proper dance attire, and once tryouts started it was glaringly (and I mean, glaringly) apparent that I didn't have the proper skills, either. But I had determined to do my very best, and even though I couldn't do 20 pirouettes in row (or even 5), I gritted my teeth, stuck it out and stumbled, tripped, and blushed my way through the entire humiliating experience. Even though no one would have blamed me if I'd quit the try out when it was clear how horrible I was, I didn't.
I. Stayed. And. Did. It.
And I vowed that I would never go after something I wanted as unprepared as I was that day. That's why I put in the time, the work, the blood, sweat, and tears, and the effort into improving myself and my writing every day. That's why I tend to over-train for races. I took one of my Most Embarrassing Moments and turned it into a Learning Moment. So even though it was humiliating, I think I'm better for it.
I suggest you take some time this week to turn some of your own Embarrassing Moments into Learning Moments.
*Writing Tip: Can you incorporate this type of thing into character arcs? You betcha!
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
1. To talk incoherently; to speak in a rambling manner.
2. To wander aimlessly or confusedly.
Yesterday was spent in a hazy fog as I maundered through from one task to another.
Monday, February 1, 2010
A little about Abel: for nearly a decade he has worked as a professional copywriter and composed hundreds of print and online pieces marketing collateral for technology, real estate, health care, and education organizations—including several Fortune 500 companies. So he knows what he's talking about. Take it away, Abel...
As an author, one of the best things you can do is have several ways to communicate with your fans. While social media sites are a great way to do this, on often overlooked method is email.
Not everyone is going to follow you on Twitter or join your Facebook fan page. You could post a big announcement for an upcoming book on a social media site and there are going to be diehard fans that will miss it. However, the one thing most people do on a regular basis is check their email. And if you can capture your fans email addresses, you’ll have a great more personalized and direct way of communicating with them.
Sadly, I’ve discovered that lots of newly published authors as well as many writing veterans abuse, overuse, mismanage, or simply don’t know how to use email to connect with their fans. Here are three email marketing tips that can help authors use email as a way to market their books.
1. Know Your Audience.
It’s important to know who’s signing up for your newsletter. Are they fans of your book(s)? Are you a subject matter expert that they hope can give them some knowledge or insight? Whoever they are, remember that you’re writing the email for their benefit—not your own.
Before you start to write an email to your list, ask yourself if it’s something your fans would care about. There are few things I hate more than signing up for a newsletter only to have an author email me about their family vacation or a child’s birthday. If that’s what I find in my inbox, I immediately unsubscribe.
Good things to send your audience include upcoming book releases, excerpts, speaking engagements, contests, book tours/signings, positive press you’ve received, a short story, article, or essay you’ve written—anything the audience would find of value.
2. Use but Don’t Abuse
As a rule of thumb, you only want to send emails out when you have something of worth saying. If you have enough content for a monthly newsletter—great! If not, it’s not a big deal if you email them three or four times a year. (Last year I only sent out 5 emails. I’ll be sending out more this year with the release of my novel in May.) What you want to avoid is bombarding them with emails they find worthless. Your audience values their time. Don’t waste it with pointless emails or you’ll lose subscribers and fans.
3. Use an Email List Manager
An email list manger will save you time and headaches. It allows you to send out an email to your list with the click of a button and lets your fans to subscribe or unsubscribe to your list without you having to manage a spreadsheet or email group.
Another advantage of an email list manager is that you can schedule your email to go out at any time. Usually I’ll write mine over the weekend then schedule it to go out later in the week morning people are more likely to read it.
When you set up your email list manager, I highly recommend that you have subscribers double opt-in in order to join your list. This means after they enter in their email address, they’ll receive an auto-generated email from “you” asking them to confirm their subscription. This not only means you’ll have valid email addresses, but no one can ever accuse you of sending them spam. If they receive your email, it’s because they asked for it.
There are lots of email lists managers out there. I use Your Mailing List Provider, but there are others out there that work just as well or better depending on your needs. Do your homework and find out which one is the best for you.
Remember emails are one of many tools in your marketing quiver. If done right, they are a great way to make a more personal connection with your audience, create buzz, and boost sales. But like any tool, you have to know how to use it to get results.
Abel Keogh is the author of the novel “The Third” (coming May 2010) and the memoir “Room for Two.” You can read more about his books at http://abelkeogh.com. Sign up for his author newsletter here.