Posts Tagged ‘writers’

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These people at Daily Writing Tips  put out a lot of great articles for writers. This latest one is by Mark Nichol
 The negotiator is described as working behind the scenes. When that phrase appears in isolation, as an adverbial phrase rather than as a phrasal adjective modifying a noun that follows, no hyphenation is needed, but here, it serves the latter function: “Who was the behind-the-scenes negotiator who facilitated the deal?”When are hyphens required to string together a sequence of words, and when are the hyphens extraneous? The following sentences, each with a discussion and a revision, illustrate the syntactical situations in which they are necessary and when they are superfluous.

1. Who was the behind the scenes negotiator who facilitated the deal?

The negotiator is described as working behind the scenes. When that phrase appears in isolation, as an adverbial phrase rather than as a phrasal adjective modifying a noun that follows, no hyphenation is needed, but here, it serves the latter function: “Who was the behind-the-scenes negotiator who facilitated the deal?”

 

See the rest at Daily Writing Tips

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Another great post over at BadRedHeadMedia!

Blog

In my continuing series where I answer questions asked by YOU (in this case, this question comes from writer Camela Cami Thompson), staff writer Naomi Blackburn takes on ‘What is a blog strategy and is it important for authors to have one?’ Thanks Camela for a fab question! Here you go….

 

I am always shocked when authors ask me if they have to blog. My resounding YES always leads to, “But I don’t know what to write about!”

Why Blog?

Blogs are wonderful because they give authors an opportunity to take an active role in marketing their works to their readers while also providing a way to network with other authors. Let’s face it. Before an author has name recognition by the public, a chunk of the effort is focused on relationship building with a readership base. What better way than a blog to help to facilitate this?

Develop a Blog Strategy and Calendar

As with everything in the business world, the key to success is always in the planning. Developing a blog calendar and strategy allows for seamless posts and provides alternatives to marketing and social media opportunities besides shouting “BUY MY BOOK!”

First, decide what you want to blog about. Ask yourself:

  • Is it close to the subject matter of my works?
  • What do I want my “brand” to be?
  • Who do I want my target audience to be?

Maybe you want to be recognized as a dynamic professional, such as Molly Greene, who is an author of romantic mystery fiction, but writes a blog specifically focused on blogging for authors. Or do you want to focus on your readers and write on topics close to the genre of your books? For example, maybe you write romantic fiction and want to use your blogs to discuss suggestions for romantic interludes with that special someone.

The next step in your blogging strategy is to plan out a list of topics on a calendar. For example, I have a desktop calendar that has my topics listed for the next three months. Having a calendar with mapped out blog post topics allows me to write ahead. My calendar is based on the topics for my forthcoming book, The Author CEO: The Book. Preplanning also allows for emergency posts and/or guest posts, as needed. Have a new book in the works? Having a blog calendar allows for scheduling pre-release blog posts announcing the new release.

(On this note, I am of the opinion that everyone must have a professional blog, no matter who the target audience is. Since your blog is essentially your corporate image, I always recommend hiring a professional to develop the site that hosts the blog.)

Still Not Sure What to Write About?

One of my favorite posts by Molly Greene that I frequently recommend to clients is 101 Blog Topic Ideas. The post is divided into several categories and Molly, in her own pithy way, addresses numerous topics—from supporting other authors to showcasing one’s own work.

Networking with authors is critical in blogging. It can get very difficult to come up with fresh ideas. Always having that “spot on” blog post can become stressful. Furthermore, the lack of networking and only writing for your own blog can lead to isolation, which not only costs you in terms of visibility, but also in potential lost opportunities for cross-promotional blog posts. So, come up with ways to have guests on your blog, and offer posts to others who may also be looking for fresh or new content.

I know that I am not an “expert” in everything. Being able to host subject matter experts—such as an author attorney writing on Copyright, Fair Use, and Book Reviewers—on my blog allowed me to present my readers with information I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to provide them.

Editing Matters

Regardless of what topics you choose, I can’t stress enough the importance of using an editor or, at the very least, having someone else review your posts. It drives me crazy when I see mistakes in author’s blog posts. This is your business. This is your craft.

Think about your favorite company. What would you think if you were looking at their marketing material and it was laden with mistakes? Would you think less of them? I recently had the chance to review an author’s blog. She had done a wonderful job of coming up with topics. One of the headings was a recipe section that contained some fantastic-looking recipes. As I went through them, I saw that they were loaded with typos, and some even had a couple of ingredients missing from the directions area. What was I to think?

In The End

So, what are you waiting for? Blogging is a must-do marketing opportunity for authors, and is also another outlet for creativity, interaction, and fun. Because I consider blogging to be such an important aspect of every author’s business development plan, I think it is worthwhile to bring in a blogging coach to learn the ins and outs of successful blogging. After all, it’s your business at stake, why not invest in it?

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From the good people at AuthorCulture

WEDNESDAY, JULY 30, 2014

 

People have a variety of viewpoints when it comes to belonging to the writer’s group or workshop. Some authors like Dean Koontz abhor them. Some say they will cause you to quit writing or destroy your writing style. Others say they could not write without them.

I have experienced both points of view. Over the years, I have belonged to three writer’s groups. The first was the Frisco (Texas) Writer’s Group. It was a hybrid group. Some sessions focused on the learning the business of writing. Other sessions were for critique. Over time, I outgrew this group of mainly want to be writers. I attended the group from 2006 through 2009.

While attending the first group, I learned of the Dallas-Fort Worth Writer’s Workshop. It is a larger group with many full-time and published writers. They sponsor the DFW Writer’s Convention. In 2008, I attended convention.

I joined the DFW Writer’s Workshop in 2009. I was a paid member through 2012. For several years, I drove twenty-five miles each way through heavy Dallas – Fort Worth traffic and freeway construction to attend the group.

The meetings had a set agenda. They began with an introduction of guests and new members. Next was a time of sharing submissions, rejections, being asked to send a full manuscript, and getting an agent. You could also sign-up to read. You were assigned to critique groups for the evening. There you read. Then others commented on your work. You did not respond to their comments. The comments were extremely helpful and required a thick skin at times. The group has been around since 1977. Over the years, members have had over 300 traditionally published books. The group charges $100 per year to be a member. It meets 52 weeks a year.

I had published over two-dozen magazine articles before joining the group. I credit the group with keeping me motivated. It caused me to look at my writing at a level I did not know existed. It provided encouragement as I witnessed fellow members being published. The group was a first-amendment group where you could write anything. The critique group helped me write, as I needed something new to read each week. While in the group, I published over a dozen pieces. I also completed the 80,000 words book that I am currently shopping.

In 2011, I joined Wholehearted Writing Group. It is located less than two miles from my day job. The location was the reason for joining. The group is more about writing prompts than analyzing or working on your current project. It meets 26 times a year with the cost of $10 per meeting.

Whether you are joining the writers’ group to gain new friends, network, or to improve your craft and motivation, you need to make sure it meets your needs. Below are some points to consider when selecting, joining, and attending a writer’s group.

  1. Does the writer’s workshop have in writing defined goals?
  2. Does the group start on time and stay on mission? I will use the DFW Writer’s Workshop that I belonged to as an example.
  3. Does the group have an interest in your writing or is it just a niche group?
  4. Are there rules for people whose work is critiqued to follow?
  5. Does the organization allow you time to network and develop relationships with others in the group?
  6. Should I pay to attend a writer’s group?
  • Does the group know where it is going?
  • Does it regularly meet?
  • Are members submitting, progressing in the craft and publishing?
  • The group starts on time – 7 PM. It began with a large group session.
  • They recognize guests, ask them what they write, and how they found out about the workshop.
  • They ask for rejections followed by asking for submissions.
  • They ask is anyone has sold articles or gotten a contract for their manuscript.
  • After the large group session, they break into small critique groups.
  • Writer’s read for ten minutes followed by a critique of five minutes.
  • They have a monitor for a group who times and moderates the readings and critiques. The monitor keeps the group on track.
  • The group ends at 9:30 PM. Ending on time respects the participants.
  • Is it a first-amendment group allowing freedom of expression?
  • Does the group focus only on fiction or non-fiction?
  • Does it require you to filter your writing through the scope of the group? For example, you would not want to attend a Christian writer’s group if you write erotica.
  • Having guidelines is essential.
  • People get defensive when others are telling them what they did wrong.
  • The man or woman receiving the critique needs to have rules to follow.
  • We have him or her listen with no response or rebuttal.
  • You need to listen to what people have to say about your writing and learn from it.
  • Do the group members like each other?
  • Are they happy to see you and urge you to participate?
  • Does the group assimilate new members?
  • Does everyone get to read?
  • If the group members spend more time telling you how great they are or what they hope to do instead of staying on schedule and mission, find a different group.
  • Most writers’ groups in the USA are free and run by volunteers. Fee-based groups are also common.
  • One of the most expensive writer’s groups in the USA is the Original Los Angeles Writers Group™. The cost for new members is $475 a year while returning members get a break at $450. That is about $9.00 per week.
  • The Kansas City Writer’s Critique Group meets in ten-week sessions with each session costing $65.00 ($5.50 per week).
  • The DFW Writer’s Group in Texas is $100 per year (paid in advance). You must be a paid member to read.
  • The Burlington Vermont Writer’s Group cost $12.00 per month.
  • Wholehearted Writing in Dallas, Texas is $10 a session.
  • I have attended pay and free groups. Most pay groups are very polished, professional, stay on task honoring the attendee’s time by starting and stopping on time plus having a set break. Many are connected to educational institutions or are legal nonprofits with a constitution by-laws and elected leadership from the paid membership that manage / lead the group. They are not social in nature and have had an evaluation element. The leader in the pay group may receive your writing assignment in advance. They check your style, grammar, and transitions as a proofreader or outside editor. They may lead you in structured revisions.

While people have a variety of viewpoints when it comes to belonging to the writer’s workshop, a writer’s group is not for everyone, but it could be what you need to get to the next level.

 

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Terrific post on badredhead media

JULY 20, 2014 BY
HELPING AUTHORS WITH SOCIAL MEDIA, MARKETING, AND BRANDING TO SELL MORE BOOK

Taken from rant my today on Facebook because I just couldn’t listen to the whining anymore (warning: a few choice curse words ahead). grumpy

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: ONE thing will not sell your books. It’s a combo of:

– a spectacular book (professionally edited, formatted, designed, proofed)
– reviews (minimum 25) within the first few weeks
– beta or ARC readers before you release
– an optimized website (professional graphics, social media icons, keywording, HTML, CSS for faster loading, etc…all to increase your SEO). Look it up.
– an active blog (once weekly minimum).
– a book trailer (share on your own site and YouTube)
– participate in memes like ‪#‎MondayBlogs‬ or chats — meet cools peeps, learn, promote others
– interactive social media (not spammy) at minimum Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ (important for your Google ranking) following readers, book bloggers, book reviewers, book clubs
– groups (important to establish connections with peers)
– an eBook version (duh) Don’t care if you hate eBooks. What do your readers want?
– a virtual blog tour (won’t sell books. DOES increase visibility, SEO, reviews, connections with readers and bloggers, and Google Ranking)
– Google AdWords (get advice on how to do it correctly, study and research, or pay someone to do it for you), or FB or Goodreads or blogger ads. Something!
– Book clubs.
– Book signings.
– swag (bookmarks, pens, postcards, etc)
– guest blog guest blog guest blog (and not only about your book and how wonderful your toenails are).
– interviews
– give back, for fuck’s sake. stop talking about yourself all the damn time.

Bitch and moan that you’ve done EVERYTHING (bet you haven’t), and still haven’t sold any books. I don’t believe you. Sorry.

When you’ve done ALL of the above in great detail, and I mean everything with a concentrated effort and still haven’t sold any books, then guess what? Maybe you need to rewrite your book, or write another.

It typically takes FIVE books to start making a living on your work. FIVE. (Says who? Almost every writer who is making a living on their books –Steena HolmesBette Lee CrosbyRyne PearsonLiz SchulteHugh Howey, and on it goes).

Bottom line: focus on building relationships, people. It’s not all about you!

So stop with the whining over here about how Amazon sucks or blah blah doesn’t work (nothing is magical), pull up your big girl and big boy pants, and spend that effort writing your next blog post, book, or tweet. Or yell at me for bitching at you. I don’t care. I won’t be here.

I’ll be writing my next book TOUGH LOVE FOR WHINY WRITERS. ha.

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Another great post at Three Penny Review

by Javier Marías

 

I can think of seven reasons not to write novels:

First: There are too many novels and too many people writing them. Not only do those already written continue to exist and demand to be eternally read, but thousands more entirely new novels keep appearing in publishers’ catalogs and in bookshops around the world; then there are the many thousands rejected by publishers that never reach the bookshops, but which nonetheless exist. It is, then, a commonplace activity, one that is, in theory, within the grasp of anyone who learned to write at school, and for which no higher education or special training is required.

Second: And precisely because anyone, whatever his or her profession, can write a novel, it is an activity that lacks merit and mystery. Poets, philosophers, and dramatists do it; so do sociologists, linguists, publishers, and journalists; politicians, singers, TV presenters, and football coaches; engineers, school teachers, civil servants, and movie actors; critics, aristocrats, priests, and housewives; psychiatrists, university professors, soldiers, and goatherds. It would seem, though, that for all its lack of merit and mystery, there is still something strangely alluring about the novel—or is it simply a desirable ornament? But what is so desirable about something that lies within the reach of all professions, regardless of their previous training, prestige, or earning power? What is it about the novel?

Third: Writing a novel certainly won’t make you rich: indeed, only one in every hundred novels published—and that’s an optimistic percentage—earns a decent amount of money. The money earned is unlikely to change a writer’s life and it certainly won’t be enough to retire on. What’s more, it can take months or even years of work to write an average-length novel that some people then might want to read. Investing all that time in a task that has only a one percent chance of making any money is absurd, especially bearing in mind that these days no one—not even aristocrats and housewives—has that amount of time to spare. The Marquis de Sade and Jane Austen did, but their modern-day equivalents do not; and worse still, not even the aristocrats and housewives who don’t write but do read have time enough to read what their writing colleagues write.

Fourth: The novel is no guarantee of fame, or only a very minor fame, which could be acquired by far speedier and less laborious means. As everyone knows, the only real fame comes from television, where novelists are becoming an increasingly rare sight, unless the writer in question is there not because of the interest or excellence of his novels, but in his role as fool or clown, along with other clowns from various fields, whether artistic or not. The novels written by that truly famous novelist-turned-TV-celebrity will merely provide the tedious and soon-forgotten pretext for his popularity, which will depend less on the quality of his future works, which no one really cares about anyway, and far more on his ability to wield a walking stick, wear stylish scarves or Hawaiian shirts or hideous waistcoats, and explain how he communicates with his unorthodox God or how easily and authentically one can live among the Moors (this always goes down well in Spain). Besides, it would be nonsense to struggle to write a novel purely in order to become famous (for even if you write in the most pedestrian of styles, that, too, takes time) when nowadays one doesn’t need to do anything very much to become famous. Marriage to or an affair with a suitably prominent person and the subsequent slipstream of marital and extramarital goings-on are a far more efficient way of going about it. Or you could simply commit some indecent act or outrage, although nothing, of course, that involves a long prison sentence.

Fifth: The novel does not bring immortality, largely because immortality barely exists any more. Nor, of course, does posterity, if one understands by that the posterity of each individual: everyone is forgotten once he or she has been dead a couple of months. Any novelist who believes otherwise is living in the past and is either very conceited or very ingenuous. Given that novels last for, at most, a season, not just because readers and critics alike forget about them, but because only a few short months after a novel’s birth it will have vanished from the shelves of bookshops (always assuming there are still bookshops), it’s absurd, therefore, to imagine that our works will never perish. How can they possibly be imperishable if most of them have perished before they’re even born, or have come into the world with the life expectancy of an insect? One can no longer count on achieving enduring fame.

Sixth: Writing novels does not flatter the ego, even momentarily. Unlike movie directors or painters or musicians, who can actually see an audience’s reaction to their works and even hear their applause, the novelist never sees readers reading his book and is never there to witness their approval, excitement, or pleasure. If he’s lucky enough to sell a lot of copies, he might be able to console himself with a number, which, however large, remains just that, an impersonal, abstract number. He should also be aware that he would share those same consoling sales figures with the following: TV chefs and their recipe books, gossipy biographers of feather-brained megastars, futurologists wearing chains, beads, and even cloaks or jellabas, the poisonous daughters of actresses, fascist columnists who see fascism everywhere except in themselves, stuck-up fools giving lessons in manners, as well as other equally eminent scribes. As for receiving glowing reviews, that is highly unlikely: if a novel does get reviewed, the reviewer may let the writer off lightly the first time, but not the second; or the writer may feel that the critic likes his novel for the wrong reasons; and if none of these things happens, and the praise given is overt, generous, and intelligent, probably only about two people will read that particular review—a further source of upset and frustration to the writer.

Seventh: I will list here all the usual, boring reasons, such as the isolation in which the novelist works, his suffering as he wrestles with words and, above all, syntax, his fear of the blank page, his bruising relationship with major truths that have chosen to reveal themselves to him alone, his perpetual stand-off with the powers-that-be, his ambiguous relationship with reality, which can lead him to confuse truth with lies, his titanic struggle with his own characters, who sometimes take on a life of their own and may even run away from him (although the writer would have to be somewhat of a coward for that to happen), the vast amount of alcohol he consumes, the special and basically abnormal life you have to lead as an artist, and other such trifles that have seduced innocent or foolish souls for far too long, leading them to believe that there is a great deal of passion and torment and romanticism in the rather modest and pleasing art of inventing and telling stories.

This brings me to the one reason I can see for writing novels, which may not seem much in comparison with the preceding seven, and which doubtless contradicts one or another of them.

First and last: Writing novels allows the novelist to spend much of his time in a fictional world, which is really the only or at least the most bearable place to be. This means that he can live in the realm of what might have been and never was, and therefore in the land of what is still possible, of what will always be about to happen, what has not yet been dismissed as having happened already or because everyone knows it will never happen. The so-called realistic novelist, who, when he writes, remains firmly installed in the real world, has confused his role with that of the historian or journalist or documentary-maker. The real novelist does not reflect reality, but unreality, if we take that to mean not the unlikely or the fantastical, but simply what could have happened and did not, the very contrary of actual facts and events and incidents, the very contrary of “what is happening now.” What is “merely” possible continues to be possible, eternally possible in any age and any place, which is why we still read Don Quixote and Madame Bovary, whom one can live with for a while and believe in absolutely, rather than discounting them as impossible or passé or old hat. The only Spain of 1600 that we know and care about is the Spain of Cervantes: the Spain of an imaginary book about other imaginary books and out of which an anachronistic knight errant emerges, rather than out of what used to be or was actual reality. What we call the Spain of 1600 does not exist, although one has to assume that it did; just as the only France of 1900 that exists for us is the one Proust decided to include in his work of fiction. Earlier, I said that fiction is the most bearable of worlds, because it offers diversion and consolation to those who frequent it, as well as something else: in addition to providing us with a fictional present, it also offers us a possible future reality. And although this has nothing to do with personal immortality, it means that for every novelist there is the possibility— infinitesimal, but still a possibility— that what he is writing is both shaping and might even become the future he will never see.

(Translated from the Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa)

Javier Marías, Spain’s foremost contemporary novelist, has had his work translated into more than forty languages; his most recent novel is The Infatuations, published in America by Knopf. Margaret Jull Costa has been his translator since 1992; her most recent publication is Things Look Different in the Light, a collection of stories by Medardo Fraile.

 

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Serving Publishers & Independent Authors

Reposted from:

Beyond Paper Editing

Editors’ tips for writers

Thursday, 10 July 2014

by Corina Koch MacLeod
@CKmacleodwriter

I like lists—especially word lists. They help me to make sense of the world. Below is a round-up of useful word lists for writers. Use them to check for and address potential problems in your writing.

Needless Words

We all do it—use words that clutter up our writing. If you know what those words are, you can hunt them down and obliterate them.

10 Words to Cut From Your Writing at Entrepreneur

Needless Words at Tech Tools for Writers. This word list is nicely packaged in a macro that you run in Microsoft Word.* Talk about a timesaver.

*See this 30-second video for how to add a macro to Word.

Craft Words

There are parts of the writing craft that many writers struggle with at some point in their writing journey—telling too much instead of showing, for example. Some clever word wranglers have taken the time to create word lists that can help you to attend to common writer missteps:

TellingWords at Tech Tools for Writers—identifies words that may indicate instances of telling

-ly Words at Tech Tools for Writers—highlights adverbs often used in dialogue, which may indicate that you’re telling instead of showing. Often, he said and she said will suffice.

Historical Words

If you’re writing historical fiction, it makes sense to familiarize yourself with vocabulary from the time period in which you’re writing. These word lists will take you back in time.

100 Words that Define the First World War at the Oxford English Dictionary

Flapper Speak: Dictionary of Words from the 1920s and 1930s, by Margaret Chai Maloney

Glossary of 80s Terms at In the 80s

Genre Words

Some genres of writing have their own vocabularies. Learn the words genre readers will expect to read.

A Glossary of Science Fiction Jargon, by Eric S. Raymond

Sensual Words for Romance Writers, by Annette Blair

Gangster Glossary at Night of Mystery

Hard Boiled Slang Dictionary at Classic Crime Fiction

English Dialect Word Lists

For tips on writing with dialects, refer to How to Write Authentic Dialects, by Arlene Prunkl. These word lists will take you the rest of the way, eh!

A List of Quaint Southernisms at Alpha Dictionary

Glossary of English and British Words at Project Britain

Glossary of Canadian English at Wikipedia.org

Words from Other Languages

If you’re writing a book set in a another place, or if a character’s cultural background is of importance to the story, seasoning your story with the occasional foreign word or phrase is de rigeur.

French Phrases Used in English at the Phrase Finder German Loan Words in English at About.com

Russian Words Used in English at Daily Writing Tips

Spanish Words Become Our Own at About.com

The Yiddish Handbook: 40 Words You Should Know at Daily Writing Tips

Confusable Words

It’s easy to confuse words that look or sound similar, or that mean something other than what you think they mean. These lists will help you to sort out some of the more common confusables.

Misused Words by Daily Writing Tips

Commonly Confused Words by Oxford Dictionaries

10 Words that Don’t Mean What You Think They Do at Daily Writing Tips

Misspelled Words

Your word processor’s spell check can catch most of your misspellings, but not all of them. Here are some words that sneak through spell check or trip up writers.

Common Misspellings

Words Often Misspelled Because of Double Letters

There are many more lists that I can add to this round-up. If you have a favourite word list, tell us about it in the comments below.

 

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Another great guest post from Duolit! by Adrienne from Design Roast.

tumblrTumblr is a must for any author looking to build a following of readers. It is a platform to promote your writing within a tight-knit community, as well as a place to dynamically tell the world about you and your books through videos, quotes, photos, reblogging, links and just some straightforward text too. The most popular way to share on this site, however, is through the creative use of animated gifs.

What do all of these forms have in common? They’re short, easily digestible content.

Today, a variety of literary figures can be found on Tumblr, including book reviewers, publishers, booksellers and, of course, authors. Tumblr has many opportunities for authors, so keep reading to learn how to get started.

Sign Up for Tumblr and Set Up Your Profile

tumblr-johngreen

For starters, create an account. This means uploading a photo of yourself and creating a unique username. Since your username will be a part of your tumblr URL, choose wisely.

Some established authors, like John Green, have gotten creative with their username — his isfishingboatproceeds. If you’re looking to build a following, consider using a familiar title from your books, or simply your name/pseudonym.

The rest of the account settings are pretty straightforward. In the “About” section, share a bit of your background, as well as a few of your book titles. You can also set your preferences by allowing, or not allowing, replies from people – and since you’re building a community, it’s a good idea to allow these comments.

Another great feature is the “Ask” section. By turning this on, your readers can ask you questions; just be prepared for them to potentially ask about everything from your favorite place to write to further details about your characters and when your next book is coming out!

How to Customize the Appearance of Your Site

tumblr-themegardenThere’s a variety of functionality you can add to your site; one way to really stand out is to personalize the look of your site with a theme (found under Settings > Edit Theme).

If you have a header or background that you’ve designed, you can upload these here. Alternatively, you can simply change the color background to set a tone for your tumblr site. This area of the Tumblr settings even gives you the ability to change your site’s font.

Just keep in mind: Every setting you choose creates an impression about you and your books. Choose colors that will be pleasing to your audience, and fonts that aren’t too hard to read.

If you need assistance with your design, check out the “theme garden” by clicking on Settings > Find Themes. This “garden” is full of choices that can reflect what you and your writing are about. There’s a plethora of options – they even have a storybook theme perfect for children’s authors.

While some of these themes are free, others do cost a nominal fee, which is much less than what you’d spend hiring someone to do the design work for you.  Plus, you can do some customization after choosing a theme, such as change up the features – color, font, etc. – to really make the site yours. Just keep in mind the theme will only change how your readers see your page; it won’t change your home feed (where you’ll make updates and monitor other people’s pages).

How to Enable Comments

Many of the themes available through Tumblr include the ability to add comments through Disqus. If Disqus isn’t enabled, the only way people can interact with your content is by liking it and reblogging it. If you’re looking for more interaction on Tumblr, start by making a Disqus account and then adding your Tumblr site under “Your Sites” in Disqus.

Next, visit your Tumblr settings and choose Settings > Edit Theme > Customize. Once there, put your Disqus-supplied username in where it asks for your “Disqus Shortname.” Disqus also gives you the ability to check if it was installed correctly and allows you can set rules in order to moderate your comments.

How to Promote Your Books on Tumblr

authorstumblrNow comes the fun part: building up the content on your site! While you’re free to post about whatever you want on your Tumblr page, as an author there are some things you should focus on:

  • Quotes: Not only can you offer an excerpt from your books, but you can also quote reviews of your work or even just quotes by others who inspire you. Then, you can comment on the quotes you post.
  • Videos: Think book trailers for your work or just content you think has some relevance to your brand and the topics you love to write about.
  • Images: Have a new book coming out? Tease what it’s about through images that inspired you while writing, and then post the book cover to Tumblr.
  • Links: The world is your oyster when it comes to posting links. Share articles you’ve written around the web, press coverage, links back to your personal writing blog where longer text content resides and more. Like videos and quotes, you can provide some commentary on any link you post.
  • GIFs: Animated gifs are by far the most popular way to tell a story or share a thought on Tumblr. They can be about a TV show you’re inspired by or simply something fun to share with your readers. Find gifs to use on Giphy.

No matter what medium you use to blog on Tumblr, be sure to tag each and every post with keywords, so users other than your followers can easily find you.

How to Gain a Following on Tumblr

For starters, start following others. You find others by searching their email, URL, or username. Alternatively, search for topics and blogs that interest you. You can focus on publishing-related sites, but follow sites that simply interest and inspire you too. Some people might follow you back, some might not, but it’s a start within the community.

As for gaining followers and readers of your own, simply interact with the site. Like other people’s posts and reblog. Spread the love among Tumblr, and Tumblr will spread the love right back.

While the functionality of Tumblr is simpler than writing a lengthy blog post every day, its offerings are immense. Don’t be intimidated by the site; just get started with an account, explore hashtags and other people’s pages and have fun with it. You never know how it might help you in your next writing endeavor!

Adrienne is a freelance writer and social marketer who loves analyzing social media campaigns to see what works. To see more of her work, check out her blog about design.

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Posted: 11/20/2013 5:06 pm on Huffington Post

There are a lot of bad grammar posts in the world. These days, anyone with a blog and a bunch of pet peeves can crank out a click-bait listicle of supposed grammar errors. There’s just one problem — these articles are often full of mistakes of one sort or another themselves. Once you’ve read a few, you start noticing some patterns. Inspired by a recent post titled “Grammar Police: Twelve Mistakes Nearly Everyone Makes,” I decided to make a list of my own.

1. Confusing grammar with spelling, punctuation, and usage. Many people who write about grammar seem to think that grammar means “any sort of rule of language, especially writing.” But strictly speaking, grammar refers to the structural rules of language, namely morphology (basically the way words are formed from roots and affixes), phonology (the system of sounds in a language), and syntax (the way phrases and clauses are formed from words). Most complaints about grammar are really about punctuation, spelling (such as problems with you’re/your and other homophone confusion) or usage (which is often about semantics). This post, for instance, spends two of its twelve points on commas and a third on quotation marks.

2. Treating style choices as rules. This article says that you should always use an Oxford (or serial) comma (the comma before and or or in a list) and that quotation marks should always follow commas and periods, but the latter is true only in most American styles (linguists often put the commas and periods outside quotes, and so do many non-American styles), and the former is only true of some American styles. I may prefer serial commas, but I’m not going to insist that everyone who doesn’t use them is making a mistake. It’s simply a matter of style, and style varies from one publisher to the next.

3. Ignoring register. There’s a time and a place for following the rules, but the writers of these lists typically treat English as though it had only one register: formal writing. They ignore the fact that following the rules in the wrong setting often sounds stuffy and stilted. Formal written English is not the only legitimate form of the language, and the rules of formal written English don’t apply in all situations. Sure, it’s useful to know when to usewho and whom, but it’s probably more useful to know that saying To whom did you give the book? in casual conversation will make you sound like a pompous twit.

4. Saying that a disliked word isn’t a word. You may hate irregardless (I do), but that doesn’t mean it’s not a word. If it has its own meaning and you can use it in a sentence, guess what — it’s a word. Flirgle, on the other hand, is not a word — it’s just a bunch of sounds that I strung together in word-like fashion. Irregardless and its ilk may not be appropriate for use in formal registers, and you certainly don’t have to like them, but asStan Carey says, “‘Not a word’ is not an argument.”

5. Turning proposals into ironclad laws. This one happens more often than you think. A great many rules of grammar and usage started life as proposals that became codified as inviolable laws over the years. The popular that/which rule, which I’ve discussed at length before, began as a proposal — not “everyone gets this wrong” but “wouldn’t it be nice if we made a distinction here?” But nowadays people have forgotten that a century or so ago, this rule simply didn’t exist, and they say things like “This is one of the most common mistakes out there, and understandably so.” (Actually, no, you don’t understand why everyone gets this “wrong,” because you don’t realize that this rule is a relatively recent invention by usage commentators that some copy editors and others have decided to enforce.) It’s easy to criticize people for not following rules that you’ve made up.

6. Failing to discuss exceptions to rules. Invented usage rules often ignore the complexities of actual usage. Lists of rules such as these go a step further and often ignore the complexities of those rules. For example, even if you follow the that/which rule, you need to know that you can’t use that after a preposition or after the demonstrative pronounthat — you have to use a restrictive which. Likewise, the less/fewer rule is usually reduced to statements like “use fewer for things you can count,” which leads to ugly and unidiomatic constructions like “one fewer thing to worry about.” Affect and effect aren’t as simple as some people make them out to be, either; affect is usually a verb and effect a noun, but affect can also be a noun (with stress on the first syllable) referring to the outward manifestation of emotions, while effect can be a verb meaning to cause or to make happen. Sometimes dumbing down rules just makes them dumb.

7. Overestimating the frequency of errors. The writer of this list says that misuse ofnauseous is “Undoubtedly the most common mistake I encounter.” This claim seems worth doubting to me; I can’t remember the last time I heard someone say “nauseous.” Even if you consider it a misuse, it’s got to rate pretty far down the list in terms of frequency. This is why linguists like to rely on data for testable claims — because people tend to fall prey to all kinds of cognitive biases such as the frequency illusion.

8. Believing that etymology is destiny. Words change meaning all the time — it’s just a natural and inevitable part of language. But some people get fixated on the original meanings of some words and believe that those are the only correct meanings. For example, they’ll say that you can only use decimate to mean “to destroy one in ten.” This may seem like a reasonable argument, but it quickly becomes untenable when you realize that almost every single word in the language has changed meaning at some point, and that’s just in the few thousand years in which language has been written or can be reconstructed. And sometimes a new meaning is more useful anyway (which is precisely why it displaced an old meaning). As Jan Freeman said, “We don’t especially need a term that means ‘kill one in 10.'”

9. Simply bungling the rules. If you’re going to chastise people for not following the rules, you should know those rules yourself and be able to explain them clearly. You may dislike singular they, for instance, but you should know that it’s not a case of subject-predicate disagreement, as the author of this list claims — it’s an issue of pronoun-antecedent agreement, which is not the same thing. This list says that “‘less’ is reserved for hypothetical quantities,” but this isn’t true either; it’s reserved for noncount nouns, singular count nouns, and plural count nouns that aren’t generally thought of as discrete entities. Use of less has nothing to do with being hypothetical. And this one says that punctuation always goes inside quotation marks. In most American styles, it’s only commas and periods that always go inside. Colons, semicolons, and dashes always go outside, and question marks and exclamation marks only go inside sometimes.

10. Saying that good grammar leads to good communication. Contrary to popular belief, bad grammar (even using the broad definition that includes usage, spelling, and punctuation) is not usually an impediment to communication. A sentence like Ain’t nobody got time for that is quite intelligible, even though it violates several rules of Standard English. The grammar and usage of nonstandard varieties of English are often radically different from Standard English, but different does not mean worse or less able to communicate. The biggest differences between Standard English and all its nonstandard varieties are that the former has been codified and that it is used in all registers, from casual conversation to formal writing. Many of the rules that these lists propagate are really more about signaling to the grammatical elite that you’re one of them — not that this is a bad thing, of course, but let’s not mistake it for something it’s not. In fact, claims about improving communication are often just a cover for the real purpose of these lists, which is…

11. Using grammar to put people down. This post sympathizes with someone who worries about being crucified by the grammar police and then says a few paragraphs later, “All hail the grammar police!” In other words, we like being able to crucify those who make mistakes. Then there are the put-downs about people’s education (“You’d think everyone learned this rule in fourth grade”) and more outright insults (“5 Grammar Mistakes that Make You Sound Like a Chimp“). After all, what’s the point in signaling that you’re one of the grammatical elite if you can’t take a few potshots at the ignorant masses?

12. Forgetting that correct usage ultimately comes from users. The disdain for the usage of common people is symptomatic of a larger problem: forgetting that correct usage ultimately comes from the people, not from editors, English teachers, or usage commentators. You’re certainly entitled to have your opinion about usage, but at some point you have to recognize that trying to fight the masses on a particular point of usage (especially if it’s a made-up rule) is like trying to fight the rising tide. Those who have invested in learning the rules naturally feel defensive of them and of the language in general, but you have no more right to the language than anyone else. You can be restrictive if you want and say that Standard English is based on the formal usage of educated writers, but any standard that is based on a set of rules that are simply invented and passed down is ultimately untenable.

And a bonus mistake:

13. Making mistakes themselves. It happens to the best of us. The act of making grammar or spelling mistakes in the course of pointing out someone else’s mistakes even has a name, Muphry’s law. This post probably has its fair share of typos. (If you spot one, feel free to point it out — politely! — in the comments.)

Jonathon Owen is a copy editor and language writer with a master’s degree in linguistics from Brigham Young University. He blogs about usage, editing, and linguistics at Arrant Pedantry, where this post first appeared.
Follow Jonathon Owen on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ArrantPedantry

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Posted by  at Writing Forward!

iconic characters

Why are iconic characters so memorable?

Luke Skywalker is the obvious hero of Star Wars, so why do Han, Leia, and Darth Vader get all the attention? When I think about the characters from Star Wars, Luke is often the last one who comes to mind. It’s not that he’s utterly forgettable, but he doesn’t stand out from the crowd of characters who surround him, despite the fact that the story centers on him. The other characters easily overshadow him, even the characters whose roles are not as critical to the story.

All of the characters from Star Wars are iconic, but some are more memorable than others. What can we learn from iconic characters and how can we create unforgettable characters in our own stories?

Plot vs. Characters

Not all stories call for an iconic character. The Da Vinci Code has been criticized for its relatively uninteresting characters, but the story is not about the characters; it’s about an ancient conspiracy, a puzzle. The characters are supposed to take a backseat to the plot, and an iconic character might have distracted from the story.

We can compare The Da Vinci Code and its protagonist, Robert Langdon, to Indiana Jones, whose quests are fun but not nearly as deep or complex as Robert Langdon’s. We want to go on Indiana Jones’ adventure because we want to go with him. We take the Da Vinci Code adventure for the sake of the quest itself; any character could serve as a guide.

If you’re thinking about developing an iconic character, first ask whether it’s appropriate for your story. Great detectives, for example, may be interesting and likeable but they’re rarely iconic because in the mystery genre, we’re reading to solve the mystery more than we’re reading to spend time with a particular character. For example, I like Harry Boschjust fine but I didn’t read Michael Connelly’s books so I could spend time with Harry. I read to find out who did it.

That doesn’t mean big, riveting, plot-driven tales can’t include iconic characters. But it’s worth considering whether you want your character to overshadow your plot or vice versa. Sometimes, the best stories are a good balance of compelling characters and plot. They may not be what we’d consider iconic, but they’re riveting enough.

Studying Popular Characters

In film and literature, certain characters have captured people’s imaginations and won their hearts–characters like Scarlett O’Hara, Indiana Jones, and Katniss Everdeen became more famous than the authors who created them. So what is it that makes some characters unforgettable? Let’s do a brief study of a few iconic and popular characters from film and literature:

Scarlett O’Hara (Gone with the Wind): People keep telling me she’s an anti-hero, that she’s wicked and unlikeable, but I adore Scarlett O’Hara. Remember, she’s only sixteen years old when the story starts. Keeping her age in mind, her envious, arrogant nature is more understandable. She goes on to do whatever she must to survive, take care of her family, and keep her land. Surrounded by war and famine, Scarlett doesn’t have much of a chance to mature but eventually, she thrives. She becomes an aggressive, independent woman who takes charge of her own destiny in a time and place when women were generally submissive, passive, and dependent on men. What makes her iconic is that she goes against the grain, and in the film, she boasts a striking wardrobe and memorable catch-phrases (fiddle-dee-dee, I’ll think about it tomorrow).

Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird): I’m not sure Atticus Finch is iconic but he’s definitely one of the most popular characters in literature. He’s a man who stands up against racism in a time and place where racism is the acceptable and preferable norm. Yet he’s admired and respected in his community despite the fact that he opposes their outdated, bigoted ways, which is not an easy thing to pull off. Like Scarlett, he goes against the grain, which is a trait we’ll see in many iconic characters.

Indiana Jones (Raiders of the Lost Ark): I already mentioned Indie so let’s look at what makes him so iconic. Like the others, he goes against the grain. By day, he’s a handsome, refined professor in a tweed suit and spectacles. The rest of the time, he’s a daring adventurer who risks life and limb for ancient archeological artifacts. His iconic status gets a lot of help from his banged-up brown fedora and trusty whip as well his trademark wisecracks.

Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games Trilogy): Everyone else depends on a corrupt government system for sustenance but Katniss jumps the fence (figuratively and literally) to hunt and gather for her family’s survival. Her iconic status is boosted by the mockingjay symbol and her bow and arrow and her status as an icon is cemented when she plays the game in a way that fits her moral standards rather than playing it to pacify the government.

Iconic Characters Share Similarities

I once heard that the best stories are either about extraordinary characters in ordinary situations or ordinary characters in extraordinary situations. I’d say that most iconic characters break the mold; they are extraordinary and so are their situations.

We can observe similarities that make these iconic characters memorable. I would say they all deviate from social norms and expectations. Most of them have distinct clothing or accessories and memorable catch-phrases.

We can learn even more about iconic characters by asking questions and further studying them:

  • Why is Batman more iconic than, say, Aquaman? Why is Catwoman more iconic than Poison Ivy?
  • Who is your favorite character (iconic or not) in film or literature? What was it that made the character so compelling to you? Was it the character’s looks? Attitude? Backstory?
  • There are popular characters, like Atticus Finch, and then there are truly iconic characters like Batman, Indiana Jones, and Katniss Everdeen. What’s the difference between a popular character and an iconic character? What makes one character popular while another becomes iconic?

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from JOANNA PENN at The Creative Penn

Time seems to fly by and our writing goals can sometimes fall behind in the craziness of the day to day.

manage day to dayBalancing writing with ‘real life’ and business tasks as well as family and other commitments can become a strain.

But we need to step back now and then, assess the situation and reset our behaviors in order to achieve our goals.

I’m not a productivity geek, but I do have processes and systems and I love to learn about new ways to optimize my workflow. I recently read ‘Manage Your Day To Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus and Sharpen Your Creative Mind‘ from 99U, one of my favorite blogs.

It gave me plenty of pages of notes, but the significant changes for me are:

Do not check email or social before I have done my first creation block of the day

e.g. 1500 words on latest WIP. In order to achieve this, I have removed my email app from my mobile phone and am using Antisocial software to block access to those while still allowing me on the internet for research (which I often need as I write). I started doing this at the beginning of the year, but I fell off the wagon. Not firmly back on it.

Look strategically at personal and business goals and decide what I can get rid of and what I can streamline.

I’m still looking at this but I will be restructuring this site somehow, and making the process flow easier so I have more creation time. But don’t worry, it won’t be going anywhere!

have you made artI asked my email list about their tips for productivity

Here are some of the responses I received back (some paraphrasing). Perhaps they will help you, or you can add yours in the comment section below.

[By the way, you can join the email list by signing up and ownloading the Author 2.0 Blueprint here]

Benjamin Tiller: I get my writing done first thing in the morning before work – with no TV, no phone, no wifi on the laptop. Word count goals have been great. I utilize the full screen feature in Scrivener to limit other distractions.

Annemarie Slee: Try www.workflowy.com. Easy for list making, but also very useful for outlining your ToC. You can set times and dates easily too.

Attention management, not time management

Grace Marshall: It might help to think of it as attention management rather than time management – gets you noticing and tracking the thing that you can actually manage – your attention, rather than time itself. And here’s how to beat writer’s procrastination.
Jon Jefferson: I use three things as a crutch to help me stay focused: The times I write, doing pre-writingto get all the extraneous out of my mind, and timed writing for set blocks of time to focus in.

Word count chart

My daily word count chart

Jean Reinhardt: I found that when I was stuck on my YA book, I could write if I switched genres (to a short story, now a novella). This means I am writing two books at the same time, but switching genres works for me and keeps things flowing.

Find what works for you – even if it is in the bathroom!

Stacie Whitney: I’m a mother of a young child who gets up and wants attention as soon as she hears me come out of the bathroom in the morning.  So on that first morning to get my book written, I went into the bathroom with my computer, locked the door, and got to work.  I wrote the entire outline and two chapters before breakfast!
After a week of early morning bathroom writing sessions, I was somehow able to sneak into the living room, and the rest of the book was written (mainly) in early morning hours before the rest of my family was awake.Basically, my tip is to find whatever space and rhythm work best for you and DO that! And be willing to alter it if circumstances change.

Jason Lewis: the only way that I can write effectively is to completely lock myself away (metaphorically) from social media. The best way I’ve found so far is to take a long train journey; get the netbook out and just write like there’s no tomorrow. Racked up six thousand words the other day (my single most productive day by a long distance) on a five hour journey. The reason being I cannot get a signal on my phone and I refuse to pay to access the internet on the train.

Karlene Cameron: When I write, I keep the computer turned off. That does it for me.

Lyle Nicholson: Set a block of time, and then use it.  If it’s one hour or three hours, close your door, or your external senses and write.  Even if you don’t write, and you just doodle on a pad, or write silly things for the hour or three hours, use that as your creative process time. The mind is an amazing instrument, if you give it space and time, it will take you in marvelous directions.

Write by hand – away from the computer

writing coffeeCarlie Van Amerongan: I’ve just started doing my writing by hand. I used to do everything on the computer, and I would easily get distracted, by all the other things I could do on the computer… and no amount of willpower would help! Since I’ve started doing it this way, I’m much more productive, even if the rate of words to page is a little slower. I’m enjoying the process more, and I think in the end I get more words out. Far from a productivity tip, this is a brand new practice for me… but so far it seems to be working.

Kathleen Heady: I carry an old-fashioned legal pad with me, or a notebook would do, and when I have time throughout the day, I work on whatever my current writing project is — longhand. I substitute teach so I often have downtime to do this, but sometimes it is easier to pick up a pad of paper than go on the computer with all the distractions it offers. Then later I can type up my work when I am in a less creative mood.

Sally Chippendale: 1000 words per day and don’t start later than 10am. If you are blocked move straight on to the next scene. If you have children put their favorite tv show on and neglect them for an hour and a half. I make one decent coffee beforehand; that is my only set up requirement/custom that I allow myself. I printed out and pinned above my desk one long excel spreadsheet detailing each scene in one sentence, headings included  day, characters, action, reason. Then highlight each line when complete, for satisfaction value.

Tom Evans:
1. Breathe in through alternate nostrils five times (use a finger to close each nostril off in turn)
2. Doodle or mind map what you are about to write about
3. Then meditate or go for a walk before you start writing
4. Resist the temptation to edit while writing
5. Have a treat lined up for when you finish each session (e.g. a cup of tea and digestive biscuit)
Tom is an author, bookwright and creative catalyst. His latest book is called The Zone and is an exploration of how to get in and stay in it. More details here …  http://www.tomevans.co/books/the-zone/

Find a few good writing website/blogs and stick to them.

Don’t be distracted by a hundred updates inboxing you each day. This happened to me, for a few days I spent more time reading than writing.

Betty Halsey: disable the internet on my computer and leave my phone in a different room.

Francis Wade, author of Bill’s Im-Perfect Time Management Adventure: In our age, improving your time management skills continually is a must, and it’s best done by slowly adapting new habits, practices and rituals, rather than chasing down the latest gadget, shortcut or trick. Deliberate practice anyone?
There are clearly a lot of similarities, and yes, I know the irony of blogging about this topic and distracting you from writing at the same time!