Writing Tips: The No-Pause Placeholder

Getting in the¬†writing flow is like the Holy Grail for writers. When you’re in that flow, words and ideas are just coming easily, and you don’t want to stop for anything or anyone.

You’ve probably been there. You’re writing, everything’s clicking, it’s amazing, and then … bam! You’re dumped out of the flow as you realize you don’t have a name for your main character’s elderly aunt or magical doohickey. Or maybe you can’t remember (or never knew) what ranks above a captain in the Army. Whatever it is, stopping to name it or research it interrupts your flow. You know that if you get it back at all during that writing session, it will take a while.

To keep this from happening to you, I’m going to introduce you to one of my favorite writing tips: Continue reading “Writing Tips: The No-Pause Placeholder”

Book Promotion Ideas #1: Amazon Giveaway

When you’re trying to build an audience, you sometimes have to get creative with your book promotion ideas. From time to time, I’ll be posting a new, interesting, and/or effective book promotion idea that I’ve come across (or tried myself, in some cases).

This first book promotion idea intrigued me because I didn’t even know it was an option. Did you know Amazon gives you the option of setting up giveaways as promotional tools?

Neither did I, but it’s an interesting concept, isn’t it? In terms of books, there is a catch – you have to give away physical products. Ebooks don’t qualify. There’s also a cost – you have to pay for however many prizes you’re giving away and the associated shipping.

That said, having a physical copy of your book is a good idea for several reasons, not the least of which is that it improves the perceived value of your ebook. You can use Amazon’s CreateSpace¬†to create the physical copy of your book. And being able to give away copies of your book as an incentive to get on your mailing list? That could prove invaluable.

Have you tried giveaways of your book yet (Amazon or otherwise)? How did it work out for you?

Building an Audience for Your Book on Tablo

If you’re a new author who is publishing your first book, you’ve probably noticed that you’re at a distinct disadvantage. Authors who have published more books, even just one more, are much more likely to have an audience eager for their next release. If you’re on your first book, odds are you still have to build up that audience.

It’s kind of like that old conundrum when trying to find a job. All the jobs available are labeled “experience required,” but how do you get experience if you can’t get a job in the first place? How do you build an audience of readers if you don’t have anyone buying your book to find out if they like it?

One solution to this issue for authors is a relatively new site called Tablo. Continue reading “Building an Audience for Your Book on Tablo”

4 Possibly Strange Sources of Character Inspiration

character inspiration is as important as plot inspirationI’m convinced that there are two kinds of readers.

Okay, there are many kinds of readers. But for the sake of this post, let’s divide them into two categories: those who read for the plot, and those who read for the characters. Yes, you probably like both, but there’s a good chance you’re drawn to one more than the other.

Authors can be divided the same way: those whose strength is in keeping you interested about what’s happening next (plot), and those whose strength is in keeping you caring about who it’s happening to (characters).

Best case scenario for writers: you’re strong in both areas. And today, because I feel like it, I’m going to arbitrarily pick “characters” and talk about some ways I’ve found to make mine more fully developed and interesting. Continue reading “4 Possibly Strange Sources of Character Inspiration”

Fiction Ideas: How to Conquer the Blank Slate

You know those writers who have so many fiction ideas that they’ll never have time to write them all? The ones who sit down to write and, well, have something to say? Every single time?

Yeah, that can get annoying.

No offense if you’re that kind of writer. In fact, bottle some of that inspiration and start selling it. I’d love to have some on demand.

For some of us, it’s not that easy. Fiction ideas trickle in when they want to, it seems. hooverdam_DSC1797And sometimes the stream seems to have been diverted somewhere upriver, leaving us high and dry.

I think my longest dry spell was about two years, although in my defense I was a sleep-deprived new mama at the time. It was almost enough to make me give up on writing fiction. I was doing a fair amount of ghostwriting non-fiction articles during that time. Just no fiction.

But the desire to write stories, to create characters and have things happen, didn’t go away. If only I knew who the characters were and what they were going to do.

I tried many different techniques to get my creative stream unstopped. Several things I tried didn’t result in fiction ideas at all – just frustration. I finally identified a part of the problem that was holding me back. Continue reading “Fiction Ideas: How to Conquer the Blank Slate”

Non-Fiction Ideas: Finding and Corralling the Elusive Beast

Image courtesy of iosphere/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of iosphere/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Please tell me I’m not the only one: I’m ready to write, the blank page is there, and …. yeah. Nothing.

Frustrating isn’t even the word for it. It seems like the longer you sit staring at the page, the less the ideas jump into your head.

After years of dealing with this problem, I decided to start looking for ideas on getting ideas. (If nothing else, it would fill the time while I wasn’t getting any writing done.) I found some great ideas, some that worked for me and some that didn’t. And of course I tweaked things, as you do… The end result? I rarely, if ever, have trouble knowing what ideas I want to write about.

Coming up with ideas for writing, at least for me, is a different process depending on whether I’m writing fiction or non-fiction. I find non-fiction ideas a bit easier, so that’s where we’ll start. Continue reading “Non-Fiction Ideas: Finding and Corralling the Elusive Beast”

Publishing: DIY or Traditional?

Image courtesy of Stuart Woods at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

The drawer full of notebooks. You whippersnappers won’t remember it, but that drawer was the equivalent of the folder on your hard drive that has all your writing in it. All the bits and pieces that haven’t seen the light of day – possibly for good reason.

If you’re not content with your writing living in that drawer (or folder, as the case may be), you have a decision to make. How are you going to get your work out into the world? How are you going to get it published?

Not that long ago, you basically had one option: try to find a publisher who wanted your book. Often that meant trying to find an agent who would submit your work to various publishers. Oh, there were vanity presses where you could pay a substantial chunk of money to get hard copies of your book which you would lovingly place in a box in your garage. If you wanted to get actual strangers to read your book, however, you had to get past the gatekeepers of traditional publishing: the agents and the publishers themselves.

In recent years, things have changed in the publishing world. Continue reading “Publishing: DIY or Traditional?”