Monday, August 31, 2015

Game Time

Today I'm posting at the A to Z Challenge Blog and talking about keeping your blogging momentum on track. Also, don't forget that this Wednesday is the IWSG day to share our woes and triumphs. There will also be a very special announcement for the group on that day. Don't miss it!

We're a football loving family. Both my oldest sons played, the elder in college and now he coaches, and my youngest son played until his heart condition took him out of that sport and made him a runner. I don't watch sports on TV often but the men in the family do. My husband and I will go to most of the games my son is coaching so we get in lots of gridiron time.

As my son the coach often laments, the game requires more than talent, strength and speed, thought those things surely help. It's a big mental game, much like writing, requiring personal strength on many fronts. You have to have your head in the game. Let's talk about that in depth.

Scout the competition and have a game plan. Read books in the genre you write in. What works in them and why are they successful? See the entire field and know all the sub-categories of your genre of choice.

Adjust your plan if it's not working. The team that makes the best adjustments will win. Are you trying to write dark fiction because it's popular but you're not comfortable? Adjust. And make sure your game plan fits the talent you're working with. Do you write amusing characters really well? Then do that and don't try to be what you're not.

You have to play hard. No pain, no gain is kind of true for writing. Who hasn't felt like crying or throwing something when an editor wants just one more rewrite.

Don't live on past glories. Just because your last book did really well, it doesn't mean the next one will be easy to write or promote. Each new project is hard work.

Play for the love of the game. Don't write because you hope to see your name on a banner at the bookstore. You have to enjoy it or there's no reason to do it.

When the momentum is on your side, keep it rolling. Don't ease off because things are going well. Keep the intensity and write on.

If you get thrown for a loss or have a turnover, don't let it get you down. Get back up and into that writing chair and try again.

How was my motivational pre-game speech? Do you write for the love of it? Does each new project seem as much work as the one before? Are you ready for IWSG? Are you ready for some football?

Monday, August 24, 2015

What Do You Really Want?

I'm indulging in reading for the past seven days. I've been writing but not as much as I should. During A to Z last year I highlighted books that have taught me something about writing. One of the writers I used as an example was Anthony Ryan and his Raven's Shadow series. Over the past week I've reread the first two novels and now I'm reading Queen of Fire, the third and last book in the series. Though I've fallen in love with the characters, I always like it when a writer keeps a series to 3 or 4 books. One of the things that has struck me as I read these books is how Ryan makes every scene count. Every chapter moves the story forward and makes it really hard to put the book down. At least 3 nights I've stayed up past 1:00 a.m. because I wanted to read one more chapter. Highly recommend this series if you love fantasy novels.

One with some market news. A recent survey by RWA and Nielsen points out that romance readers at least buy first based on authors. Secondly they make their choice based on the book being part of a series. After that, the third things influencing buying decisions was bookstore displays or e-store promotions.

Another news tidbit is the amazing numbers or people who read books on their phones. I know I do this with my Kindle app on my iPhone. Here's an article about it.

Some good news for brick and mortar stores as there is a slight uptick in retail sales of books this year, June being a particular good month, in stats gathered by ABA. I used to buy tons of books but I probably average only one or two physical books per month now though I usually buy at least twice that many on my Kindle. I also read lots of books from the library.

Don't forget the BIG announcement coming up from IWSG next week. Very, very exciting.

The end of summer is getting scary close as more and more people claim to have heard predictions of another brutal winter. Can that really be predicted?

But I'm going to enjoy these lingering days of warmth and sunshine before the leaves turn and catch up on my TBR pile. That's what I really want to be doing on the front porch with a cup of coffee.

Do you read books on your phone? Have you contributed to the uptick in book sales this year? Have you heard rumors of another bad winter? Do you look for books by author first?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Wednesday Roundup

Only two weeks left until a really, really BIG announcement from IWSG. This is a really exciting venture and you might want to be part of it. But you have to wait until the first Wednesday in September to find out what it is. If you aren't a member, hop over to the sign up page and become one.

Do you ever write something and wonder if it should be capitalized? When I write my resume, should I capitalize Master in Health Education or not? Not. Check out this quick lesson on capitalization by Annie Tucker and see if you're doing it right on She Writes.

It's never to early to think about Christmas gifts. Here's a post on BuzzFeed with some ideas for the book lovers you know. And my birthday is in November if you see something you would like to send my way. I'm liking the Harry Potter toy made by PinaFlora and sold on Etsy.

You know I like stats and one of the things I've mentioned before is what a big share of the book purchasing market romance owns. Romance consumers read a lot of books. Sometimes many per week. So when ideas like a subscription service for books were rolled out, the creators didn't consider the voracious appetite of those faithful romance readers. Check out this article on how Scribd and Amazon are scrambling to make the service work. One cut the number or romance titles it carries and the other fixed it by paying authors less. Ouch.

This coming weekend, I'll be enjoying my daughter's last weekend at home before she starts her senior year at Boston University. She's busy applying to grad schools, working on her thesis and looking forward to those last wonderful semesters with her friends. My husband is very excited as football season rolls closer. We go to the local high school games because my son coaches and it's fun to watch him in that role.

So do you always know when to use capital letters? Looking for Christmas lists yet? Have you tried a book subscription service? Plans for the upcoming weekend?

Monday, August 17, 2015

Ideas From Where?

Posting here twice per week and taking my turns at the A to Z Challenge Blog and on the IWSG blog, means I need to come up with ideas.  Like most writers, I don't have a ready answer for where the ideas for my novels come from. But when I comes to my blog, I don't mind sharing a little bit.

Sometimes I find interesting stats to share. Quite often they come from one of the writers' groups I belong to or from their publications. For instance, RWA recently share the stat that though Kindle is the most common platform for ebooks, iBooks is gaining ground at 37%. Readers under thirty are the most likely to use iBooks. Probably something to do with all those iPhones out there.

Most people are usually on Twitter or Facebook or both. There are all kind of links and discussions going on there. You can link to those and perhaps add you opinion when you share it on your blog. I try to stay away from anything really controversial. I don't want to draw that kind of attention to my blog.

Sharing news about other writers or bloggers makes great content though I don't believe most readers want to read a long excerpt from a book. Blurbs, covers and those one-liners make for a good post.

Perhaps a topic comes up in your professional life. When I was still teaching, I often shared some interesting, funny or irritating events connected to the day job. Of course, now that my profession is being a

Fill a spot on your post with a quote or two. Something inspiring, amusing or that will generate discussion.

"Well done is better than well said." Benjamin Franklin.

Post about what you've been up to. My sister from Mississippi stayed with us Friday and Saturday. We're two sides of the same coin so we always have fun together. Long walks on a woodland trail, a farmer's market shopping trip, three hours in the bookstore, lots of coffee, and generally talking about everything for hours on end. We also celebrated my husband's birthday by going out to dinner and having all the children at the house. Good times.

Post about your goals or plans. I'm too far behind on these to admit.

Talk about a particularly wonderful movie you're seen, book you're read or the TV show you're looking forward to. Perhaps an event you attended.

Blogging can be work or fun. For me it's a little bit of both. Usually the work parts comes about when I'm unsure of what to post about. Plan ahead. Jot down notes when you encounter something you'd like to share with your readers.

How do you decide on content for your blog? Where so your ideas come from? Do you vary content on your blog or stick with one theme?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Little Things

Writing is a tough business not just for the authors but also increasingly for publishers and all those who work for them. There are some small ways to help.

Despite Amazon's confusing policies on reviewing the books of people you know, leaving reviews for books you read really help authors. Don't just leave them on Amazon. Drop some lines on Goodreads, Smashwords, B&N or wherever you buy your books. It helps.

Retweet and share FB posts of writer friends who are making promotional announcements. Help them get the word out to a greater audience. It's a little thing that takes two seconds.

Another thing that is a bit bigger is to buy books directly from a publisher's website. Even some of the BIG boys are selling from their own site. When a publisher sells from their own site, they're not
sharing profits with a middle man like Amazon. The publisher can offer a book at a discount and still make more money on it than when it's with a retailer. AND the author makes more money also. My publisher, New Concepts Publishing, generally offers new releases exclusively on its site for a discount for thirty days before offering it to retailers. My reissue, Keepers of Sulbreth, is available there right now.

If you're going to an event, offer to hand out bling for other writers. I have a table at the massive York Book Expo in October. Like their new Facebook page here.  If you have bookmarkers, pens, stickers, or any other promotional material you'd like me to hand out to attendees, you can send them to me. I can't sell your books, but I'll had out your stuff that has links to you and your books. Drop me a line and we'll figure it out.

Support your local indie bookstores when you can. The only one near us sells only used books except during signing events. But I still visit when I can and have found some really great 'old' books that dress up my shelves. Even if you just go in and buy an expensive and high calorie drink at their cafe, that helps them stay open.

Do you have any ideas on little things to do to help fellow writers? I know the blogging community I belong to is great about sharing blog space but are there other things we can do? Any ideas? Does your publisher sell directly from their site? Have any bling you'd like to share?

Monday, August 10, 2015

New Things

I hope you'll stop over to the IWSG site today. Guest poster Heidi Hormel, multi-published author, is sharing a fill-in-the-blank press release. Every writer should have one ready or at least know what goes in one. Heidi makes it really easy. See her post today.

During last years A to Z Blogging Challenge, one of the blogs I came upon and fell in love with is Alex Hurst, Fantasy Author Living in Kyoto. She shared an amusing post about purple prose words. Read them and see how many you've used and how many you've never heard of.

During my post for IWSG last week, I mentioned the concerns about Kindle Unlimited and thedifficulty of small presses and indie authors competing against the Amazon monster. My publisher threw around some ideas and I know a number of your publishers are trying the same thing. My publisher has released my two recent series in boxed sets.  The Recon Marine series and The Warriors of Gaviron Series. The third Warriors book is part of the boxed set and for now, only on Amazon. The series set has a great ranking even in the paid department so I hope this newest strategy works out for me, my publisher and my readers.

Sometime before the year is out, I'll let you know how that is working out. I'd love it if some of you could share your experiences in the comments like so many of you did on my post last week.

Last Friday, I taped a short interview and reading with Demi Stevens, organizer of the upcoming York Book Expo that I'm part of. Demi is CEO of Year of the Book Press. She's great at making her guests relax for the recording. I'll share that sometime in the future and you can hear what I have to say about writing and being an author. I hope to rope Demi into a guest post here or on IWSG at some point.

Don't forget if you're awake tomorrow night after midnight, it's that time of year to see the Perseid meteor shower.

Do you need a press kit? Check out Heidi's post. What do you think about buying or selling books in boxed sets? Going out after dark to see the meteor shower?

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

IWSG: August Version

The Insecure Writer's Support Group, a monthly bloghop started by Alex J. Cavanaugh. On the first Wednesday of every month, members of the group share their current insecurity. If you don't have any worries this month, you can share what you've done to overcome them and to advance your writing career. Also visit the other members of IWSG and join our Facebook page.

There are two things on my writing mind this month. As I dive into a rewrite of the first book in my new series, I'm worried that it forms a cohesive story. I'm worried about the world-building. Have I made the futuristic society interesting enough? The usual questions I have about a first draft but I had hoped by this time that I would be able to create first drafts that didn't need soooo much work.

The second thing that is more a general concern about the industry is more difficult to put into exact words. Many or you know that two of my three publishers closed their doors about six months ago. I don't know the intimate details of why their businesses failed but one thing I have learned is that Amazon, that giant spreading oil slick, is squeezing those small presses the same as it is independently published authors. I've heard from a source that the big traditional publishers are suffering just as much from Amazon's control over the book market. Amazon sells more books than any other retailer. Writers and publishers have to work with them and Amazon knows that. KDP Select seems to be one of those, 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' kind of decisions writers and publishers have to make.

There are three truths: my truth, your truth, and the truth. Chinese Proverb

A blog post on SheWrites by Brooke Warner exposes a practice of some traditional publishers to not allow their authors to write those little endorsement blurbs for self-published authors. Ouch!

On lighter notes, I promised a picture of the wedding. I present Mr. and Mrs. David Gourley.

Other things I'm excited about in the upcoming week: My sister is visiting from Mississippi. I'm taping a promotional video for the October book event I'm participating in. The weather is supposed to be lovely.

Do you have an opinion or experience to share about KDP Select? Have your first drafts improved from book to book? Have you heard anything like that post on SheWrites? Any good things on tap for the rest of the week?

Monday, August 3, 2015

Question of the Month

I'm back from my vacation/son's wedding just in time for this month's Question  of the Month, invented by Michael G. D'Agostino, owner of the blog, A Life Examined. You can sign up for this once monthly blog hop here. The question this month is tough one.

“If your parent or child committed a major crime, would you turn them in?”

Now there's a tough one. For of all, I would try really, really hard to get my loved one to turn himself or herself in. One of the things that make this decision so difficult is expense of legal defense, the horrible things that happen in prisons, and my personal doubts about the justice in our justice system. Given all those things, I would like to say I would turn them in if they wouldn't do it themselves, but if the situation actually arose? This would be really difficult if it was one of my children. The need to protect and defend one's children runs deep.

If you think you would like to join in this interesting blog hop, stop over and visit Michael and sign up. 

Also don't forget that this Wednesday if the IWSG monthly blog hop. Share your insecurities with us or perhaps share how you overcame an insecurity.

An interesting blog I've been enjoying lately is Strong Women in History. The latest installment is about Elisabeth Bing who helped spread the idea of natural childbirth as recommended by Dr. Lamaze to the entire world. Her back story is inspiring.

The wedding was terrific! As mother of the groom, I managed to blink back all my joyful tears as I had promised my son I wouldn't cry. The family had fun together on the beach with only one possibly cracked rib and sprained finger from making diving football catches into the waves. Boys! They never stop playing. I promise a picture on Wednesday.

I'm still catching up on emails. There's lots going on and I feel like I've been off the planet for four days. Our resort had a very poor internet connection and it refused to load Gmail. Frustrating but there was barely time for it anyway.

Can you answer Michael's question? If you have children, did you go with the natural method of childbirth? (Had 4 C-sections myself.) Is it really August already?