Tag Archives: writing practice

Why You Don’t Need To Put Everything In Your Book

One of the main reasons beginner writers don’t finish their books is because they try to put everything into the story.

If you want to write a novel, you need to follow some basic rules. You need to limit the number of your characters. You need to give them story goals. You need to limit the number of settings. You need to include necessary dialogue and leave out unimportant conversations.

If you don’t do this, you run the risk of overwhelming your readers. Readers who feel lost are likely to abandon your story and find another one where they feel more comfortable.

Too Many Characters

Readers read to live vicariously through a fictional character. You cannot expect them to fragment into 10 characters and empathise with everybody.

We follow the rule that you should concentrate on the four main characters, with special emphasis on your protagonist. Allow them to bond with this creation so that they can identify with them.

Suggested reading: The 4 Main Characters As Literary Devices

Too Many Settings

The same goes for settings. Readers like to feel that they know where the story takes place. They become comfortable with the world you’ve created. If you continuously add new settings, you will distract them and you will interrupt the flow of the story.

We follow the rule that you should introduce most of your settings within the first quarter of your book. You should also limit them to the worlds of the four main characters.

Suggested reading: 12 Crucial Things To Remember About Setting

Too Many Plots

Readers also don’t want to feel confused by too many story lines. Again, look at your protagonist’s story goal and use this to figure out your plot and sub-plot.

Readers are comfortable with one main plot and one or two sub-plots. Remember that this is not the only book you will write. Keep some of the plots you want to include for other novels – or maybe a sequel.

Suggested reading: 6 Sub-Plots That Add Style To Your Story

Keep It Simple

This does not mean that you are dumbing down your story, but you are following the rules of fiction writing. Choose your characters. Give them clear story goals. Write the book.

If you do this, you are more likely to be published. Editors are more likely to give you a chance. More importantly, readers are more likely to enjoy your book,

Good luck with your writing!

By Amanda Patterson

Source: writerswrite.co.za

Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing

Keeping the Writing Love Alive

You are not alone.

This week is Valentine’s Day and, all over America, hearts and flowers are on many people’s minds. Perhaps you are worrying about your secret (or not so secret) love: your writing love. Have you lost that loving feeling? Do you find excuses to avoid your manuscript?

Cosmopolitan magazine is known for their articles on keeping love alive, right? So I looked up what they have to say.

Crazy Cosmo offers advice like “Flash Him,” “Do the dishes together,” and “Outlaw Grunge Wear.”

This is not helpful, even if we’re talking about a human. However, this gem made me smile:

Share a Secret Code
Pick a word that’s likely to come up occasionally in conversation (heat, midnight, bedroom, whipped cream…) and agree that every time someone uses it, you have to touch—anything from a kiss to a lingering thigh stroke under the table.

The Real Advice

Cosmo love expert, Esther Perel, had some real advice that can work for writers:

Forever used to mean “till death do us part.” These days, though, it seems many people interpret it as “until love dies.” It just takes work, self-awareness, and communication.

Here’s what long-haul couples [like you and your glorious manuscript] know:

1. They’re practical about what matters.

In other words, see your schedule as it is. Don’t try to shoehorn writing in without a plan. If there is literally not a single hour in your schedule, then don’t write that day…and plan for that. Or wake up an hour early. Give up your lunch break at work. But making a plan is better than feeling guilty over missing a vague goal.

2. They check in with each other…often.

Even if you don’t have an hour to sit down at your computer, do SOMETHING related to your manuscript every day.

  • Look up photos of your main characters and bookmark them.
  • Write down a description for something in your scene.
  • Do some research.
  • Write a snippet of conversation.

3. They take responsibility.

This is your dream. It is your responsibility to achieve it. To take the time and do the work. It’s hard. Some days it is wonderful and some days it sucks. But a dream is still important, and it is up to you to achieve it.

You can do this.

Ms. Perel made a point in her article that hit home with me. She recomends you work toward self-awareness to ensure that your relationship (in this case with your book) is successful.

In her book Loving Bravely, Alexandra H. Solomon writes about “relational self-awareness,” or recognizing how you act within your relationship. You know your vulnerabilities, strengths, and fears. If you want a long-term bond with the person you’re with, you’ll want to see evidence that they have self-awareness too.

4. They’re direct communicators.

I took a class once by Susan Squires where she talked about how to successfully talk back to your own brain. That you must ask yourself and your characters short, direct questions.

Not “so why does the hero fall in love with the heroine over coffee at her mother’s soda fountain?” Rather, you’d ask, “What most attracted the hero to the heroine in the first place?”

You can ask yourself a simple question, and your brain will actually work on it. Let your brain do the work it can do, instead of demanding a bunch of details. That’s how you get your characters to talk to you. Complaints and complexity never made anyone want to communicate better.

Perel says, “To get their needs met, lasting duos ask for what they want. They make requests instead of complaints. ”

5. They try not to feel entitled.

Relationships are not always easy, and if you think yours will be, then you are setting yourself up to be disappointed and resentful of your partner. You don’t want to resent your writing. You love your writing.

The article says, “You need to deal with your insecurities and find ways to feel good.” (Duh.)

6. They reinvent their relationships.

Instead of thinking of forever as being rooted in the same partnership until death, think of it as having two or three relationships with the same person throughout your lives.

This one is awesome. What I hear them saying here is:

It’s okay to change a process that isn’t working for you. Don’t cling to your old ways that aren’t working and do the whole “break up and get back together” dance.

Take the time to find out what work for you, so you can enjoy your writing time.

No article on writing love is complete without quotes, right?

Keep your writing passion (quotes)

“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” — Louis L’Amour

“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” ― Sylvia Plath

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” ― Anton Chekhov

“When your story is ready for rewrite, cut it to the bone. Get rid of every ounce of excess fat. This is going to hurt; revising a story down to the bare essentials is always a little like murdering children, but it must be done.” — Stephen King

“Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any.” – Orson Scott Card

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ― Maya Angelou

“If the book is true, it will find an audience that is meant to read it.” — Wally Lamb

“I think all writing is a disease. You can’t stop it.” — William Carlos Williams

“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.” — Anne Frank

and last but not least…

“I believe myself that a good writer doesn’t really need to be told anything except to keep at it.” — Chinua Achebe

So, I’ll leave you with that Achebe quote. The best way to keep your writing love alive is to NOT QUIT. Keep going, learning, doing, striving. At the end of that, you will have a book that you love.

I promise.

How do you keep your writing love alive? Do you have rituals or practices? Times of day when you write the best? Share them with us down in the comments!

By Jenny Hansen

Source: writersinthestormblog.com

Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing

Occupation Thesaurus Entry: Barista

Jobs are as important for our characters as they are for real people. A character’s career might be their dream job or one they’ve chosen due to necessity. In your story, they might be trying to get that job or are already working in the field. Whatever the situation, as with any defining aspect for your character, you’ll need to do the proper research to be able to write that career knowledgeably.

Enter the Occupation Thesaurus. Here, you’ll find important background information on a variety of career options for your character. In addition to the basics, we’ll also be covering related info that relates to character arc and story planning, such as sources of conflict (internal and external) and how the job might impact basic human needs, thereby affecting the character’s goals. It’s our hope that this thesaurus will share some of your research burden while also giving you ideas about your character’s occupation that you might not have considered before.

Occupation: Barista

Overview: A barista is someone who makes coffee and espresso drinks (though some countries, the skill may also encompass knowledge of other beverages). In many commercial and chain shops, the job entails being able to work the necessary machinery and care for customers. A barista in a specialty or independent shop may be more knowledgeable about the different types of coffee, including where the beans come from, how the plants are cultivated, and the tastes and strengths of the different roasts. They may take ownership of more of the process, such as grinding the beans and making an extra effort in the presentation.

Wherever a barista works, they’ll need to also be able to interact with customers, keep items stocked, and maintain a clean environment for guests. Because this job is often seen as a stepping stone to other opportunities (rather than a permanent career), it can be a great choice for teenagers and people in transition.

Necessary Training: No formal education is required; most training will be received on the job.

Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: Charm, enhanced sense of smell, enhanced taste buds, good listening skills, hospitality, multitasking, promotion

Helpful Character Traits:

POSITIVE: Adaptable, calm, charming, cooperative, courteous, efficient, enthusiastic, honest, honorable, hospitable, kind, observant, passionate, responsible, sensible

Sources of Friction: Malfunctioning equipment, running out of supplies, employees calling in sick or not showing up with no warning, dishonest or lazy employees, micro-managing or absentee bosses, failing a health inspection, serving a customer with food allergies a drink containing an allergen, a customer slipping and falling, co-workers who don’t get along, having to work in a cramped space, demanding or difficult customers, bad PR, having a passion for coffee that the establishment doesn’t share or care about, developing an allergy or sensitivity that makes the coffeeshop a difficult place to work (e.g., becoming pregnant and not being able to stand the smell of coffee), discovering that something underhanded is going on (beans being gotten from unethical sources, etc.), pressure from one’s peers to give them free drinks

People They Might Interact With: other baristas and employees, a manager, a store owner, delivery people, customers, health inspectors

How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:

  • Self-Actualization: Someone with a passion for coffee may find their enthusiasm squashed if the management is only interested in doing the same old thing. This could lead a lack of fulfillment for the barista.
  • Esteem and Recognition: It’s likely that most people would view this opportunity as a short-term job. If someone is happy doing it and wants to make a career out of it, they may find their esteem lowering in the eyes of others.
  • Safety and Security: While most retail jobs are fairly safe, a barista’s security may be at stake in the event of a robbery or if the store is located in a high-crime area.

Common Work-Related Settings: Airport, bakery, big city street, bookstore, coffeehouse, cruise ship, grocery store, hospital (interior), shopping mall, ski resort, small town street

Twisting the Fictional Stereotype: 

  • This job is often a temporary one, but what might drive a character to pursue it as a long-term career?
  • To create some pizzazz for your barista, consider what you can change about the coffeeshop itself. Where would an interesting location be? What other businesses might be run out of or in conjunction with the shop (a bakery or stationary store)? What charity, like a pet rescue or mentoring program, might the owner be excited about that could be paired with the shop?

 

Source: /writershelpingwriters.net

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8 Great Writing Tips for Kids

I’m 33 now (which feels very old!) but I’ve loved writing since I was a kid myself. The very first story I remember writing was about a mouse, when I was five or six. I spent a lot of time writing stories throughout my childhood, and I had a go at my first novel when I was thirteen.

Writing has always been one of my favourite things to do … and for the last ten years, it’s been what I’ve done for a living.

When I was at school, a lot of the writing I did was as part of my school work. At school, your teachers are probably keen for you to know lots of things about writing – like where to put commas, and what nouns and verbs are, and so on.

There are lots of great tips out there about how to get things like that right, and I’ll link to some of those for you in this post. I wanted to focus on some tips, though, about enjoying writing and having fun with it … and about becoming a better writer overall (not just a better speller)!

Here are my best tips on how to keep growing and improving as a writer, however young you are:

#1: Have a go at some writing exercises – you can find lots of these online, or you could have a go at them in workbooks or school books. Lots of adults find writing exercises helpful, too, so that they can get better at writing. You can find some great ones to try here.

#2: Read a lot. Almost every writer I know is also a keen reader. Try to read a wide range of different things – like classic story books as well as modern ones, non-fiction (factual) books, magazine or newspaper articles, and so on. You’ll come across lots of different ways to write, and you might learn some new words.

#3: Keep a little book of new words you learn. Don’t be embarrassed if you don’t understand a word the first time you read it. Sometimes you can guess from the rest of the sentence what it means, but if not, you can just look it up in a dictionary. You might want to ask an adult how to say the new word, too – you could write down how it sounds. For instance, “matron” is pronounced “may-tron” (with a long “a” sound) not “mah-tron” (with a short “a” sound), which is how I thought it was said when I first read it in an Enid Blyton story.

#4: Try writing stories for children younger than you, or stories that involve children younger than you. This is a great thing to do when you’re still quite young yourself, because you can remember what it’s like to be six or seven. (Adult writers find it hard to remember, and often they create young children characters who are too babyish for their age.) If you have a little brother or sister, or a younger cousin, you could read your stories out to them.

#5: Remember that even adults don’t get things right first time. Sometimes I get a spelling wrong, or I write a sentence that’s confusing for my reader. And I’m a professional writer! It’s fine to make mistakes, so don’t worry about getting everything perfect in your first draft. Just make sure you leave a bit of time to go back and edit afterwards (just like adult writers do) so that you can fix any mistakes.

#6: Have a go at different types of writing. When I was young, I like to make pretend magazines or newspapers. That’s something that children have enjoyed doing for a very long time – in one of my favourite classic children’s books, The Story of the Treasure Seekers by E. Nesbit, the children in the story make their own newspaper filled with things they’ve written. Maybe you could have a go at making a newspaper to share with your family and friends – or maybe you’d like to write poetry or a play script, or something else entirely.

#7: Keep a journal about your day to day life. There are lots of ways to do this – you could write a sentence or two each day, for instance, or you could write a longer piece once a week. You could write about what you’re learning at school, who your friends are, the games you’ve been playing … even what you had for lunch! Details that might seem boring now could be really interesting when you read your journal when you’re 20 or 30 or even 80!

#8: Ask for help if you get stuck. If there’s something you don’t understand in what you’re reading, or if you can’t work out if something you’ve written is quite right, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Most adults will be very glad to give you a hand. You could try a teacher, or a librarian (either at your school library or your local library). If you get to meet any adult writers, perhaps through school or at an event, think up some good questions for them too!

I hope you have lots of fun with your writing. It can feel like there’s a lot to get right, but (outside of school time) the most important thing is that you enjoy writing. I hope the ideas above help you to get even more out of writing. If you’ve got any tips of your own, why not share them with us in the comments?

By Ali Hale

Source: dailywritingtips.com

Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing

Writing What You Don’t Know

New authors often hear the phrase, “Write what you know.” But what if you’re led to write a story you know nothing about? Oh, you know the characters, their goals and motivations, but what if there are elements within the story that you’re not only clueless about, they make you uncomfortable and you fear you won’t be able to do them justice?
Almost three years ago, I was sitting at my kitchen table finishing up a five-book proposal. All I lacked was a blurb for the final story in the series. I knew a good bit about this brother but had no idea what his story would be about. So, I just started writing. The next think I knew, I had one heck of a blurb. A wonderful story full of conflict. There was just one problem. It involved childhood cancer, a subject I knew zero about, nor did I know anyone who was familiar with it. But, since that last blurb was the only thing stopping me from sending off the proposal, I kept it in there and sent it anyway.

 

Now, I’m tasked with writing that book just the way I first proposed it. And while I’m still intimidated by it, an interesting thing happened along the way. God intervened.

Nearly two years ago, more than a year after I sent off that proposal, we moved from the suburbs of Dallas-Ft. Worth to a rural area west of Houston. We moved our membership from a church of about ten thousand members to one with around three hundred. And there, in our new Sunday school class, we became friends with a couple who had lost their son to childhood cancer. God was on the move.

Another element of my story I wasn’t familiar with was youth cancer camps. After casually mentioning that to another friend one day at lunch, I received a text from her a few days later telling me that a mutual friend of ours had a grandson who was working at a youth cancer camp and he’d be happy to put us in touch.
I was blown away. God was providing exactly what I needed to get this story written. Yes, I would still need to do some research online, but now I would also be able to add a personal touch to the story.
Why am I telling you all of this? Because I think there are things in here both readers and writers can glean.

If He calls us, He will equip us.

Have you ever noticed that God often likes to take us out of our comfort zones? Some would say God is testing us. However, I prefer to think of it as an opportunity to exercise faith.

I didn’t fret about that story after I sent off the proposal. No, I simply figured I would cross that bridge when I came to it. I’d hit the internet to see what I could learn and pray that God would give me the discernment I would need. But God was already at work, putting those people in my path that He knew I would need to help me write a better story.

Has God ever called you to a task you felt ill-equipped for?

 

Don’t put God in a box.

 

Sometimes I forget how big God is. He created the universe and everything in it. He parted the Red Sea so the Israelites could cross over on dry ground. If He’s big enough to do those things, isn’t He big enough to provide whatever we need at any given moment in any circumstance?

 

God is in the details.

 

The Bible tells us that God knows the number of hairs on our head. If that’s not detail oriented, I don’t know what is. Just look at God’s instruction for building the tabernacle and all of the items within it. He didn’t simply give the Israelites an overview, He gave them specifics. Everything from measurements to what types of wood, precious metals and stones were to be used. God is not into mass production. He’s molding each and every one of us into His perfect design. Our job is to remain moldable.

You can run, but you can’t hide.

 

In my book Falling for the Hometown Hero, there was something that God kept nudging me to write, but I repeatedly ignored it because I knew it was going to be difficult. It wasn’t until my third round of revisions I finally gave in and did what God wanted me to do. The result, a note from my editor saying she loved it and had no revisions. God may take us places we really don’t want to go, but in the end, His way is always better than ours.

 

Don’t shy away from a task God has given you just because you think you can’t do it. Instead, choose to believe that He is already at work preparing your way as you set out to tackle the challenge that He’s laid before you.

Source: seekerville.blogspot.com

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A Writer’s Manifesto

Imagine sitting down at your desk to write on a day when you’re just not feeling it.

You know you have to write this scene, or reach a certain word count, and it just feels like a grind. You light a candle, or sharpen your pencils, and begin to type, hoping to find that ‘flow’ eventually by dint of sheer will.

Now imagine sitting down at that same desk with those same goals.

You pick up a single sheet of paper and read it. Suddenly, you remember your purpose as a writer: why you wanted to do this, what you hope to achieve. You see the touchstones that shape and define your voice. You have a vision of your current project as one drop in the river that is your writing life, all of which is changing the world in a particular way. You remember what, at your best, you wanted that change to look like.

A little tingle of excitement begins to build. And you begin to type.

What was on that piece of paper?! And how can you get one?

Read on!

MANIFESTO OR GOALS?

A few months ago, I realized my writing journey had become like a clifftop walk where I was only looking at my own two feet and completely missing the amazing view all around me.

I lifted my head up and decided it was time to look beyond the next goal, the next deadline, and create a manifesto for my whole writing life.

That manifesto has helped motivate, target, and unify all my writing efforts, from the articles I pitch to the individual scenes I write. I helps me get excited about where I’m going, but also about where I am.

I’d like to help you create your manifesto, too.

WHAT IS A WRITER’S MANIFESTO?

A writer’s manifesto is a highly personal document that,

  • Is about your identity as a writer.
  • Gives you a unified sense of what you want to achieve in all your writing.
  • Transcends genres and projects.
  • Is more motivating than individual goals.

Here’s mine:

In my work and my life I will be

OPENHEARTED

OPTIMISTIC

Always looking for the HUMOR, even when it is dark.

SKEPTICAL, but not cynical.

FORGIVING of my work’s flaws.

PROLIFIC and POSITIVE and always producing the next thing.

Committed to the CRAFT (read lots, analyze and share, put into practice)

Committed to the COMMUNITY (past, present and future. Part of a lineage.)

UPLIFTING (this doesn’t mean Pollyanna-is. Remember my mentors.)

A BELIEVER that ART MATTERS.

I create worlds I want to live in, and inspire others to do the same (not just on the page).

Dated & Signed

Some of that won’t mean much to you, because it is so personal to me. In fact, it may make you cringe. Yours will likely look much different, and it should.

But looking that list, I remember the process of selecting each of those values and statements, and it takes me back to a moment when I was my best self. That’s what you should be aiming for, too.

HOW MY MANIFESTO HELPED ME WRITE A SINGLE SCENE

I had goals for my recent novel: I was to write a particular scene by the end of the week.

Only I couldn’t make myself do it.

My scene dealt with important issues and the mood of the piece kept skewing somber. I was depressing myself (and, I assume, my reader) and I kept stalling.

When I pulled out my manifesto the first three qualities were: ‘open-hearted’, ‘optimistic’, and ‘always looking for the humor’. My manifesto reminded me that, for me, art is a way to create the kind of world I want to live in. And that world is not somber.

No wonder I was stalling when I was trying to write a ‘serious’ scene. That realization gave me permission to write the scene in a much lighter way, which broke my block entirely.

For you, remembering your manifesto might give you permission to go deep, to make readers cry, or to scare the pants off them.

Or it might remind you that you have no patience for wasted time, so why are you trudging though this scene, trying to describe everything from the lighting to the drapes, instead of getting your character to the fight scene?

Likewise, when I pitch articles to magazines and blogs, or brainstorm podcast topics, my manifesto helps narrow down the topic areas and the tone each piece will take. It helps me focus on the work I love.

HOW TO CREATE YOUR MANIFESTO

  1. Make a list of your current favorite writers, artists, creative people , and note what you admire about them. (In my case I wrote: Amanda Palmer, for her commitment to making the art only she can make and finding ways to get paid for it, for her commitment to openness…Mary Robinette Kowal for her pursuit of the craft of writing and storytelling, for her willingness to share, and for her ability to keep turning out stories and books, building her audience; Nick Stephenson for his calculated open-heartedness; Kim Stanley Robinson for his unique style and optimism; Neil Gaiman for the same things, and for the literary family tree he grew out of; Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams for their quirky style, humor, big ideas, and the fact that what they offer I can only get from them).
  2. Make a list of the commonalities; the things your artistic godparents share. I quickly realized that ‘optimism’,’ humor’ and ‘open-heartedness’ belonged on my list, along with a commitment to the craft and to turning out work. I also saw a strong sense that art matters, that creative works can change the world, something I realized I believed too.
  3. Write: In My Work I Will Be…and then note down all the qualities that resonated most deeply with you. (I hand-wrote my manifesto, randomly capitalizing words that I wanted to stand out, and put it on my desk. You could be more or less artistic. Frame it, or simply jot it down on a post-it or in your phone. Whatever works to keep it on hand.
  4. Sign and Date Your Manifesto. This is your commitment to yourself that you are serious about creating a particular kind of writing life. The date is important too. You may find it useful to update your manifesto as you learn and grow and change. Some of the items will remain the same, but others may change.
  5. Use It. Whenever you sit down to write a new work, pitch a new idea, or continue a piece you’ve been working on, take a quick look at your manifesto. Remind yourself of what you’re trying to achieve, not just today, but in your writing life.

Since writing my manifesto, I have a feeling of comfort and confidence that I never had before. I may not know exactly what I’m going to write today, but I know how I’m going to write.

I’m no longer faced with the paralyzing tyranny of freedom: I am not free to write cynical, mean or perfect drafts. I’m no longer free to imagine I can be unique, but instead must acknowledge my literary lineage. Whatever I write today—from this blog post, to a scene in my novel, to the podcast I plan to record this afternoon—I have a roadmap for it. I know what I’m trying to achieve and the kind of mark I want my work to leave on the parts of the world it touches.

When you find yourself struggling, ask yourself how you want to be writing. Not what characters or stories or subjects you’ll tackle or how you’ll make this scene perfect, but what you want to achieve with your writing. Pick up your manifesto and ask how you can make today’s writing align with your values.

If you can do that, you’ll stay true to your own voice, and you’ll create a vibrant, coherent body of work that touches the world in a way unique to you.

By Julie Duffy

Source: writerunboxed.com

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The Daily Mindset Practice That Will Help You Achieve Your Writing Goals

JH: Sometimes the things standing in the way of our writing dreams is our own doubts and fears. Jennifer Blanchard visits the lecture hall today to share tips on how to get our of our heads and back into our writing.

Jennifer Blanchard is an author, screenwriter, Developmental Book Editor, and the founder of The Feel-Good Life Center. Grab her FREE Story Secrets audio series here and start writing better stories.

Website | Goodreads | Facebook |

Take it away Jennifer…

I’ve always been a person who believes anything is possible if you set your mind to it. I proved that to be true over and over again in my life with the things I’ve accomplished and achieved.

But even with my positive attitude and outlook, I used to have a negative side. And I had lots of negative, limiting beliefs that were stopping me from creating success in my writing life.

The thing about success most people get wrong is thinking that it’s all about taking action. Yes, you do have to take action, but it’s only a small part of the bigger picture. About 10 percent.

The other 90 percent is your mindset. It’s how you think, how you believe, how you feel and the action you take because of how you think, feel and believe.

I didn’t start seeing the success I wanted in my writing life until I took control of my thinking.

Here is the daily mindset practice that I used to hit #1 in my category on Amazon three times, sell thousands of books, write and publish nine new books in one year, and more.

1. Clear The Mental Clutter

Your mind receives around 50,000 to 60,000 thoughts every day. That’s a lot of noise going on in your head!

In order to hear the good thoughts and the good ideas, you need to clear the clutter that blocks them.

My favorite way to do this is freestyle journaling. I handwrite at least one page, stream-of-consciousness, immediately upon waking every morning.

Doing this allows me to leave the negative stuff on the page and not take it with me into my day.

Some other clearing options include:

  • Morning Pages--created by Julia Cameron, these are three handwritten, stream-of-consciousness pages that you write immediately upon waking (similar to what I do).
  • Meditation–this allows you to clear your mind and focus on feeling how you want to feel as you go into your day.

 

2. Set Your Writing Intentions

After I clear out the clutter, I do an intention-setting practice where I grab my journal and write at least one page of positive, present-tense statements about what I want in my writing life.

So, for example, when I was focusing on becoming a Best Seller in my category on Amazon, I wrote in my journal every day: I am a bestselling author. I sell thousands of books every month with ease. Selling books is easy and fun. My community loves to buy my books, read my books and leave me five-star reviews.

The power behind the intention-setting and the repetition of doing it daily is what allows you to penetrate your subconscious mind and program these new beliefs into it.

When you believe something is possible for you, then you’re a lot more likely to act on the nudges or inspired actions that come to you every day. And you’re a lot more likely to be consistent with your writing habit and getting your writing out into the world.

By setting intentions and then taking action when I felt inspired to, I was able to achieve the writing goals I desired.

3. Visualize Your Writing Goal As If It’s Already Done

The final part of my daily mindset practice is visualizing my writing goals as if they’re already done. I focus my visualization specifically on the intentions I set in the second part of my practice.

The important part with visualization is that you not only “see” yourself achieving the goal, but that you also feel the emotion of having achieved it. Emotion is a big part of visualizing.

When it comes down to it, if you want to achieve a goal, you have to fully believe, not only that it’s possible to achieve it, but also that it’s possible for you to achieve it.

This is a very important point. It can’t just feel believable. It has to feel believable for you. You have to believe you can do it.

This three-part daily mindset practice will help you start to believe in yourself and create more confidence in who you are as a writer and in the writing you’re doing in the world.

Share in the comments: Do you have a daily mindset practice? What does it involve?

By Jennifer Blanchard

Part of The Writer’s Life Series

Source: http://blog.janicehardy.com

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Author Up Close Series: Learning From Successful Authors

Though you may not know it by the prevalence of clickbait headlines sounding the death knell about author careers, successful authors are out there. Lots of them. And I’m not just talking about the ones who top the bestseller lists week after week. I’m talking about the authors whose names you may have never heard, who are quietly writing and earning income from their books.

And while there is no formula for becoming a successful author, or even a consensus about what defines “success,” there is much that can be learned from studying authors who are already where we hope to be one day. I’m fortunate to know several of these authors. I’ve had the benefit of their wisdom and expertise for years and wanted to share some of that wisdom with you. So this year, in my posts for Writer Unboxed, I’ll be sharing Q&A’s from authors I think we can all learn from.

My series, Author Up Close, will include Q&A’s with two of Writer Unboxed’s own: Anne O’ Brien Carelli, whose middle-grade novel was published by Little Bee in 2018; and Linda Seed, a contemporary romance author who had so much success self-publishing, she was able to leave her 9-5 to write full time. The series will also include interviews with Roger Johns, a traditionally published author who found himself in the enviable position of having to find an agent after being offered a publishing deal, and Vanessa Riley, a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering who writes multi-cultural Regency and historical romances in an industry that (falsely) believed there wouldn’t be a large enough audience for her work.

Author Up Close begins with a Q&A with Fiona Zedde. Fiona is the author of several novellas and novels including the Lambda Literary Award finalist Bliss. Her novel, Dangerous Pleasures, won the About.com Readers’ Choice Award for Best Lesbian Novel or Memoir of 2012. Fiona lives a location-independent lifestyle, traveling and sometimes living abroad for months at a time. As you’ll discover from our Q&A, her ability to adapt to changes in the industry has been key to her success as an author.

GW: You’re what the publishing industry considers a “hybrid author.” Was this an intentional strategy you adopted when you first launched your professional writing career or is this something that evolved?

FZ: This “fingers in different pies strategy” slowly took shape over the years. I started off working with a single New York publisher back in the mid-2000s and stayed that way for a good ten years while also working a corporate job. After a few changes and setbacks, which included leaving my 9–5 and being released by my NYC publisher, I realized I needed to do things a little differently if I wanted to continue writing and publishing.

Luckily, I soon received the opportunity to work with another NYC-based publisher (different genre and different name). I also eventually regained the rights to my backlist. At the suggestion of new author friends, I republished these novels myself. Once the backlist books became available again, readers began asking for sequels, and so I wrote and published a collection of short stories, some following the characters from the previously published books. That led to a full-length novel published last year.

These days, I work with a few different publishers as well as self-publish.

GW: In many respects, you’re living the dream as a writer who makes a living writing and who is location independent and travels the world. What are the key decisions/choices you’ve made in your career to make this lifestyle possible?

FZ: I think one thing I’ve done is remain open to different opportunities and open to change. The business of writing and publishing shifts quite a bit. Strategies that worked two years ago may be completely useless now, or vice versa. If I see that—despite marketing efforts and other factors—a writing name of mine is no longer doing well, I’m willing to scrap it and begin a new name, explore a new genre, and/or submit to different publishers. I also submit to short story anthologies every once in a while in hopes of finding a new audience or coaxing back readers who’ve lost touch with my work over the years.

GW: What are some of the challenges you’ve run across in within the publishing industry? 

FZ: One of the biggest challenges for me has been gaining readership outside of my black, female audience. Black readers dive into books of whatever genre they enjoy, despite the race of the author. Black writers aren’t afforded that same courtesy by a majority of non-black readers. At general, multi-author book signings, it’s interesting to see white readers move like water around a rock past the tables belonging to black writers, their gazes fixed on the next available white face.

My other challenge is marketing. I need to get so much better at that.

GW: Finally, what advice would you give a newbie writer who one day wants to be doing what you’re doing?

FZ: Network. Talk to the people already working the way you dream of working. Ask questions and listen carefully to the answers. At the beginning of this writing thing, I felt like I was doing everything on my own and didn’t think I had a community to turn to.  Now, I’m better at asking for help and advice as well as taking part in community, but it took me a while to get here.

You can learn more about Fiona and her writing, by visiting her at FionaZedde.com. Many thanks to Fiona for allowing me to interview her for this piece.

Over to you: what is some of the best advice you’ve received from your successful author friends? 

By

Source: writerunboxed.com

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Smitten Kitchen Shows You 100 Ways to Promote Recipes

lead image for post about Deb PerelmanOne of the things food writers struggle with most is how to promote recipes in a way that sounds authentic and not too braggy. You know your recipe is “the best,” but you can’t keep saying that for every one you write.

So what can you do to improve your blog posts, recipe headnotes, and social media blurbs? First, I went back to my most visited post: 100 Verbs for Recipes, from Julia Child. Who else could I research, I wondered, who would give me a similar list of fabulous terms?

I found inspiration on Smitten Kitchen’s Instagram feed. Deb Perelman is a master of promoting her recipes in a way that sounds effortless, fun, and full of personality.

Incredibly, there was no repetition of her phrases in the 100+ pitches I reviewed. I could probably give you 200 pitches. But I think you will get the point of how to pitch recipes with this list.

image of fried egg sandwich

Of course, writing a salesy pitch is not all there is to getting readers excited about your cooking and baking. Deb also describes her foods sensuously in every post. You need that combo. (See caption above for an example.)

How to promote recipes? Deb Perelman shows you 100 ways:

  1. Always a good idea
  2. Resistance is futile
  3. You definitely don’t want to miss it
  4. Draws a crowd
  5. Easily one of my desert island foods
  6. One of the best dinners I’ve made this year
  7. Designed to be eaten on laps, sitting outside. (Hooray.)
  8. What I want every big weekend meal to taste like, and has become a family staple around here
  9. If you can resist eating them all before you leave the apartment, you’re going to make so many friends with these
  10. Keeps perfectly for lunches all week
  11. I only wish I had them around more often
  12. It’s basically impossible not to like
  13. You can totally eat them for breakfast. Or dessert. Or just because.
  14. Even more wildly delicious than it looks
  15. Ridiculously good/easy
  16. Will make you ridiculously welcome wherever you potluck/picnic/barbecue next
  17. Welcome wherever you take it; this is a potluck favorite
  18. Keep the recipe in your back pocket for the next time life is busy but you don’t want to compromise on dinner
  19. I think you’re really going to like this
  20. Nothing short of a dream
  21. Clinically proven to righten the path of any weekend morning
  22. Maximum weekend dinner luxury
  23. I have made this every summer for a decade now
  24. Basically every summer dessert worth eating in one place
  25. Trust me, we’re going to be so happy about this
  26. You’re going to immediately wonder why you don’t make this more often
  27. Keeps in the fridge — as long as you keep us away from them
  28. Obviously, this is exactly what we have to cook next
  29. We make this all the time and think you should too
  30. Smells heavenly
  31. Be the Ina Garten/Martha Stewart of your party with this
  32. It causes a frenzy
  33. A surprising win in the Weeknight Dinners For Everyone category
  34. These deserve to be a rest-of-summer habit
  35. I want to eat it every day and every weekend all summer
  36. Make your home smell eloquently September-ish, even if you (ahem: me) are kicking and screaming about it
  37. Doesn’t get much better than this
  38. My go-to forever favorite
  39. Did they break into a happy dance? If they didn’t, well, more for you
  40. I cannot wait to have it for dinner tonight
  41. So popular around here, I have all but stopped asking my family what they want for dinner because they only ever request this
  42. Like no other
  43. They’re totally unforgettable
  44. Everybody needs this
  45. It’s the only thing I want to eat
  46. Extremely addicting forever favorite
  47. Always causes a commotion
  48. Dinner bliss
  49. 100% guaranteed to improve all the days that they last
  50. It’s unforgettable, and it only gets better as it rests — make it today!
  51. If you do not fall in love, I promise to come and rid you of your leftovers
  52. Gets better the longer it lasts
  53. Have a way of not making it out of the kitchen
  54. I have never regretted making two
  55. Impossible not to make over and over again
  56. The indisputable champion
  57. Something I hope I’m never too old, smart or refined to eat
  58. I don’t think you’ll find an easier or prettier…
  59. Should any survive until the next day
  60. The result definitely wants to come with you this weekend
  61. Put it in your weekly rotation
  62. Everyone will demand you make it again and again
  63. We always wonder why we don’t make it more often
  64. Delicious in a totally unforgettable way
  65. Exactly what I want
  66. This version is one of the best I know
  67. My favorite dessert on earth
  68. One of the most distractingly delicious things I’ve ever made
  69. You don’t have to go another day without experiencing…
  70. The leftovers are outstanding
  71. It also makes glorious leftovers for lunch tomorrow; future you thanks you
  72. I always wish I’d double the recipe so we’d have leftovers — don’t let it happen to you
  73. What I want to eat all weekend for breakfast, lunch, or dinner
  74. Almost instant gratification
  75. It makes everyone happy
  76. I can’t stop making this dish
  77. Has the best of everything
  78. Exactly what our Friday afternoons should taste like, don’t you think
  79. I think you’re going to obsess over it too
  80. I am obsessed with how good this is
  81. Your friends thank you, in advance
  82. it’s the FIRST THING TO GO every time
  83. Trust me, this is the … of champions
  84. This is the best I’ve ever had. What sets it apart? Butter. (I can’t believe you even had to ask.)
  85. Ridiculously easy
  86. Doesn’t require a special occasion to bake
  87. Astoundingly easy to make
  88. The ingredient list couldn’t be less complicated
  89. This preparation converts everyone
  90. Looks and tastes fancy and took about 12 minutes to make
  91. Have it in the oven 15 minutes later
  92. Who likes meals you can make in 15 minutes? Me me me!
  93. You could be eating this in 20 minutes
  94. Take all of 30 minutes to make
  95. A cinch to throw together
  96. Turns out to be comically quick and easy to make
  97. Welcoming of adaptations
  98. Leaving you more time for doing other things
  99. What to make when you’re short on time or long on things you’d rather do than cook
  100. Quick to make, even more quick to disappear.

Source: diannej.com

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How do they do it? The Literary Masters of Suspense and Their Secrets

How do they do it? The Literary Masters of Suspense

As a mid-career novelist, I am attempting to forge fiction that is a hybrid of the literary and mystery and suspense genres.  And I have my role models, novelists whose work while suspenseful, also showcase in-depth characterization as well as consistently elegant and thought-provoking sentences that rival anything published in the “literary genre.”

One preeminent writer of this sort of fiction is the late Iris Murdoch, a Booker Prize-winning novelist as well as a professor of philosophy at Oxford, whose deeply thoughtful novels are often characterized by gruesome acts of violence and torture (both physical and psychological) and delicately wound in a golden thread of suspense. Two of her books, each of which involves small-town life, were particularly inspirational. First and foremost is The Word Child whose protagonist, Hilary Burde, an abused orphan, finds that his gift for language (how it works and fits together in poetry as well as prose), wins him a place at Oxford. Burde graduates with high honors, lands a teaching job at his alma mater, and at the height of his career, enters a love affair with a married woman, which is found out and causes him to lose his hallowed place in academia and bottom out.  Hilary ends up in a boring, unchallenging office job and one day learns that his new boss is the husband of the woman with whom he has had the affair.  The way Murdoch maneuvers her characters and situations with deep insight into love and relationships is intense and suspenseful, and from research into her personal life, I conclude that she has drawn the portraits of her characters from the obsessive, arguably destructive love affairs that punctuated her life—until she became afflicted with dementia.

 

Adding to this suspenseful novel is another Murdoch in the same vein, A Fairly Honourable Defeat, which begins as an experiment by a sinister character named Julius who aims, through a series of false claims and lies, to undermine the loyalties of couples (both gay and straight) and wreaks havoc on the lives of people who presume him to be a friend.  The book is perfectly balanced between plot and characterization and is founded on a provocative idea: that evil is communicated throughout the world by people who suffer from it and who are willing to pass their suffering and this evil onto the next person.  And the only way evil is stopped is when the suffering person makes a conscious attempt not to pass it on.

From Murdoch I move on to an American novelist, William Kent Krueger, the author of the Cork O’Connor series of mysteries whose stand-alone novel, Ordinary Grace, paints an indelible portrait of a small Minnesota town in the early 1960s and whose first-person protagonist, the son of a preacher, recounts a summer of five deaths, some of them accidental, some of them murders, and one of them, tragically, of his older sister.  This potent coming-of-age novel rivals similar novels such as To Kill a Mockingbird and A Separate Peace, and takes its title from how the narrator’s father handles all sorts of difficult situations with ordinary grace.  This book won the Edgar Award for best novel for a work of fiction published in 2012 and in many ways is remarkably similar to Louise Erdrich’s The Round House, another first-person coming-of-age novel set in the same part of the world portrayed by the winner of the National Book Award in the same year.  Having read and admired both of these novels, I would be hard-pressed to choose which one is better, and I have no doubt that Erdrich and Krueger probably read one another’s novels and admired them as much as I did.

Source: strandmag.com

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