WWC 2014, Day 3: Marketing your book with Jodi McIsaac

Jodi MacIsaacJodi McIsaac grew up in New Brunswick, Canada. After stints as a short-track speed skater, a speechwriter, and fundraising and marketing executive in the nonprofit sector, she started a boutique copywriting agency and began writing novels in the wee hours of the morning. She currently lives with her husband and two feisty daughters in Calgary, Alberta.


 

There’s a lot of competition out there, so you have to distinguish yourself.

In 2012:

  • 1.5 million print books were published
  • 347,000 traditional books deals were made
  • 391,000 ISBNs were assigned

There are currently 30 million books on the market. Only 500 of those will sell 100,000 or more copies.

There’s not much difference between the Big 5, small publishers, micro publishers, and self-publishers with respect to how much work the author will have to devote to marketing.

Ten authors per year might get marketing support.

Word of mouth is still the best way to sell anything.

  1. Write another book. Nothing sells backlist like a new book.
  2. Be professional. This is your livelihood. Treat it as such.
  3. Understand your audience. You’re a match-maker between your book and its readers.
  4. You need a web site. Also set up shop on Amazon, Goodreads, Shelfari, Library Thing, etc.
  5. Mobilize your existing network. Never underestimate the value of family and friends.
  6. Build an email list. Mailchimp is great for this and easy to learn.
    6.5 (inserted for this presentation): Create a “street team” or “launch team.” These are people in your existing network who can be depended upon to help you make creative decisions like your title and cover and who will promote your book across their networks. As a perk, they get a copy of your advanced reader copy (ARC) so they can post reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, etc.
    Obtain reviews outside your street team.
  7. Contact book bloggers. My personal opinion is that blog tours are a waste of time. You have to produce so much content, it’s rarely worth the effort. There’s no dependable way to measure the marketing value (i.e. how many sales resulted from the tour). If you feel you would like to do one, however, I won’t discourage you. You may get different results.
  8. Giveaways. Always budget for this, especially if you are self-publishing. You need to have enough copies set aside so you can give them away on Goodreads, or on Facebook using Rafflecopter, or during your in person events.
  9. Goodreads. Not only can you participate in giveaways, but you can also have book chats, groups, and other online events to support your launch.
  10. Paid advertising. This has not been proven to sell books. Usually not cost-effective. BookBub may be the exception.
  11. Social media. Focus on one and try not to get spammy. Asking your followers to buy your book continually can come off as desperate. You might actually lose followers this way.
  12. Traditional media and promotion. Have a press release and a media package ready to go. If you’re not sure what should be in your media package, Google it. There are a lot of great resources out there.

So when do you do all of this? You have to make the time. It’s not so much work/life balance as it is work/life blend. You have to find what works for you.

We then went through a brief example with the time we had remaining.


 

This is the last of the formal posts I will have on the When Words Collide sessions I attended. Do to my entry into the In Places Between contest, I attended the reading and judging sessions on Sunday morning and it limited the sessions I could get to.

Next week: I’ll post about Brandon Sanderson. I attended three of his sessions altogether and I didn’t take notes at one. I just soaked up the wisdom 😀 So this will be a kind of summary post with links to resources.

That will leave the wrap post for the first weekend in December.

See you again on Tipsday!

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Review of Scott Overton’s Dead Air

This review is considerably overdue.  My apologies, Scott.

The Amazon blurb:

dead airWhen radio morning host Lee Garrett finds a death threat on his control console, he shrugs it off as a prank—until a series of minor harassments turns into a set of undeniable attempts on his life. The suspects are many—he’s made enemies—and the police are strangely uncooperative. The radio career he loved has turned sour, leaving behind a dwindling audience and the wreckage of his marriage. Then the friendship of a newly blind boy and the boy’s attentive (and attractive) teacher offer unexpected hope. Maybe he can make a fresh start. Maybe he can admit that he’s the source of a lot of his own problems. But when the deadliest assault yet claims an innocent victim, Garrett knows he has no choice—he has to find his persecutors and force a confrontation. The extraordinary outcome will test the limits of an ordinary man. In Dead Air career broadcaster Scott Overton creates the disturbing scenario of an ordinary man whose life is threatened by an unknown enemy.

My thoughts:

I wasn’t in love with the character of Lee Garrett. In fact, I didn’t like him much at all, but that’s exactly the way it had to be for Dead Air to be a successful thriller.

Lee Garrett has made enemies over the years, enough to fill a room with the usual suspects, and his wife left him, taking their two children.  She’s making a new life for herself while Garrett’s disillusioned and jaded and not a bit depressed.  He’s a bit of a schmuck, steeped in a good dose of self-sorrow.  Not an attractive package.

Garrett has his redeeming qualities, though.  The reasons he’s made all those enemies is because he generally tried to do the right thing and exposed their varied douchebaggery in the process.  He’s still in love with his wife, and the friends he has are the dependable kind that come through when the going gets tough.

Then he makes friends with Paul, a boy who recently lost his sight, and Candace, his CNIB counsellor.  As the relationship develops, Garrett learns a lot about himself, and how he is the author of his own misery.

He also makes a staunch ally by virtue of an act of kindness.  He even wins over the detective assigned to his case despite having been black-listed for ruining another officer’s career.

By the time Garrett exposes that act that haunts his life and underpins many of his poor decisions, I realized I liked Garrett, despite his not inconsiderable flaws.  I could even think of him as Lee 🙂

Dead Air is a novel about hard-won redemption and a fascinating character study as well as being a thriller with enough twists and turns to keep the reader guessing until the end.

My rating:

4.5 stars out of 5

About the Author:Scott Overton colour high res

Scott Overton hosts a radio morning show on Rewind 103.9 in Sudbury, Ontario. As a broadcaster for more than thirty years (twenty-four of them as a morning man), he knows the world he writes about in Dead Air.

To most readers, morning radio is as much a part of their breakfast routine as a hot cup of coffee. On the air, Scott has become a friend to thousands as he entertains and informs. He brings those same instincts to his writing, with clear prose and honest feelings.

His short fiction has been published in On Spec, Neo-opsis, and anthologies such as Tesseracts Sixteen, Canadian Tales of the Fantastic, and In Poe’s Shadow. He’s also a regular contributor of theatre reviews for a local newspaper.

His other passions include scuba diving and a couple of classic cars.

CanWrite! 2013: Day 1 publicity and marketing sessions

As promised yesterday, I’m going to talk about the good, bad, and downright ugly.

To start with …

The Good

I’ll start with Vikki Vansickle’s Mapping your Market presentation.

Vikki was enthusiastic, energetic, and clearly loves what she does, on both sides of the board.  Vikki is an author and a marketer, recently moving to Penguin Books (congratulations!).

Vikki has published four middle-grade (MG) novels since 2010.

  • So what do you do when you get published?
  • Celebrate!  Tell EVERYONE.  You never know who your champion will be.  Word of mouth is still king.
  • Do some research (yes, it’s important in marketing too).  How do you find the books you like?  Work outward: How does someone like you in Houston, Whitehorse, or Harrison Hot Springs find the books she likes to read?  That’s where you want to go, to get in front of the wave.
  • Who wants to read your book?  Who needs to read your book?
  • Comparative novels (comps) are critical.  It doesn’t even need to be a novel, as long as it’s in popular culture.  “If you like X, you’ll love XXX!”  “It’s Dirty Dancing without the dirty :)”  “It’s Looking at the Moon meets The Summer I Turned Pretty.”
  • Who is your ideal reader?  Define her in every detail.  Who are your potential readers (again work outward)?
  • Your elevator pitch should be about the length of a Tweet.  You have to tell people what your novel is about in pithy, taut, engaging sentences.
  • Be prepared to wear different hats.
  • Instagram is big with kids.  Facebook’s where their parents are (ew!).
  • Goodreads is great for more mature readers.
  • Writers Cafe (dot) org can help you with critique, beta readers, contests, conferences, etc.
  • Find your niche and identify specialized groups that will help you reach your readers.
  • The Ontario Blog Squad will set up blog tours.  6 blogs.  You create the content.
  • Twitter giveaways.  People love free stuff!  Specify Canada only.  Make sure they enter using a Retweet (RT) and including a hashtag specific to you, your book, or blog.  This helps to spread the word to all of your participant’s followers (and so on, and so on).

The Bad

I won’t tell you the guy’s name, or who he works for, but he’s a publicist.  I thought a publicist would be better spoken, honestly.

His session had some good information, but he was almost too relaxed, too casual.  At times I thought he was bored with the topic.  At times he went off on tangents or mumbled.  He decided to wing it.  He didn’t have a plan.

  • Print ads are not an effective use of funds.
  • Look for web magazines that have “up fronts” (= previews) especially if they have a print tie in.
  • A platform is not essential for fiction writers, but is absolutely key for non-fiction.
  • In fiction, the publisher may work with the writer to build the platform.
  • Build your relationship with your publisher.
  • A P/L or profit /loss sheet may determine what will be expected.  Analysis determines what the most appropriate action or angle may be.
  • Do you have a business or profession related to your book?
  • Books = cultural entertainment product.
  • You have to engage your readership on social media (SoMe).
  • Some publishers spend more $$ on authors than others.  This will be different in the States.
  • If a publicist is assigned, it’s usually for 3 months.  On-shelf promotion (during the initial sales period of the book).
  • Marketing is different for every book.
  • Book trailers are too expensive to be effective.
  • Applications (apps) are even more inefficient and more expensive.

The Downright Ugly

One thing that emerged early on in the session and coloured the remainder of it was that this publicist works for a small imprint of a larger publisher and in non-fiction (politics, sports, world events).  His clients are men and of the imprints authors only a third were women.

He made an off-hand remark about the ladies liking their beach reads.  Fatal mistake when speaking to an audience of 90% women.

To be fair, I have to say that I don’t think the young man realized that he’d just insulted his audience unforgivably.  Even after several women from the audience spoke up and made some very salient points, I’m not sure our publicist got it, or if he did, he was so scared, he didn’t know how to save himself with any grace.

I think it has to do with the publishing environment he works in every day, his mentors, his colleagues.  I think the sexism is so ingrained, so rampant in his sector of the industry, that he wasn’t fully conscious of the prejudices he promoted.

For the remainder of the conference, our publicist was the topic of conversation, and not in a good way.

It immediately brought to mind Chuck Wendig’s posts on sexism and misogyny in publishing.

It’s not a problem that has an easy answer.

Tomorrow: I’ll be moving onto the Day 2 panel and session.

A year (and a bit) in the life of Writerly Goodness

This post is one in a series of Anniversary posts for Wordsmith Studio (WSS).

What is WSS, you ask?

It’s a group of people who originally bonded through Robert Lee Brewer’s April Platform Challenge last year and who have gone on to create a community online, not only through our blogs, but also through social media (Facebook, Twitter (#WSchat), LinkedIn, G+, Goodreads, Pinterest (sorry, not a pinner, so no link for the group there), and probably a few other places that I don’t know about yet).

Originally the MNINB Challengers, or Not-Bobbers, we slowly evolved into our own collective.

Part way through the year, a group of fabulous people got together to create the Wordsmith Studio site on WordPress.org.  Since December of last year, a number of members have been blogging regularly on the site as well as on their own blogs.

Others have been attracted to WSS who had nothing to do with the original challenge, and others who participated in the challenge have moved on to other projects.

So now you know, and knowing is half the battle Go Joes! 🙂

Prelude to a kiss challenge

One thing that amazed me was the diversity of people who participated in the challenge.  Some of them had been blogging for years already, or had several blogs.  Others, like myself, were new bloggers.  Others still didn’t start blogging and platform building until Robert’s challenge prompted them to.

I actually started my platform building in September of 2011.  I tried Joomla! first, but found it to be less intuitive than I wanted.  Plus, I was posting a blog more than anything else, and couldn’t figure out the proper way to set a blog up on a Joomla! site.  I wasn’t interested in bothering my techie husband, or in paying someone to sort this out for me, so I looked at other options.

In short order, I found WordPress, and gleefully uploaded the software to my self-hosted domain, labbydog.ca, converting all of my content into proper posts for my blog.

I learned as I went, relying heavily on experts such as Robert, Jane Friedman, and Michael Hyatt and the resources to which they referred me.

Then in February of 2012, disaster struck.  My blog was hacked, and our hosting company insisted in a complete wipe.  RIP labbydog.ca.

After playing around further, I decided, gun-shy and tender creative person that I was, to move to WordPress.com.  On Robert’s advice, I’d purchased my domain name, mapped it to WordPress.com and www.melaniemarttila.ca, A.K.A. Writerly Goodness was born.

At first I was merely attempting to recreate my content and was posting 5-6 days a week.

Enter the dragon challenge

I was already following Robert at the time, and when he announced his April Platform Challenge, I jumped onboard.

For a month, I eagerly awaited my daily dose of platform.  I’d been on Facebook since 2007, and had, as part of my amateur platform building program, already joined Twitter, LinkedIn, and G+, so the days in which the challenge task was to set up accounts on these services I had things a little easier.

It’s a good thing too; otherwise, I’d have fallen waaaay behind.

I learned about having a mission statement for my blog, about using a blogging schedule (doesn’t blogging in this sense sound like a colourful euphemism?  What the blog?  Blogging work!), about calls to action, guest blogs (hosting them and proposing them), interviews, tools like Tweetdeck and Hootsuite, hashtags and Twitter chats, mailing list, business cards, newsletters, Goodreads and other kinds of social media.

By the end of the month, I verged on the overwhelmed.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

I cut down on the frequency of my posts.  A new position at work meant that I had even less time and energy to spare for my blog if I wanted to keep up with my novel and other creative writing.

Something I’ve learned is that, as a writer, the writing comes first.  Blogging is a part of that, but if I don’t get my stories, poems, and novels written, submitted, and published, the blog is tantamount to an online journal and practically useless for the purpose of promotion or true platform building.

Now I blog on weekends only, and it’s been working for me, which is the most important thing.  I’ve been getting the writing done and have achieved a greater balance between my professional, creative, and personal lives.

I have several new pages, with links to those of my books that are still available for purchase from the publisher, my blogging schedule (such as it is), an invitation for guest bloggers, awards, and so forth.

I’ve started doing interviews with a number of friends, online and in real life, and was surprised but ultimately pleased when a fantasy writer right here in town contacted me out of the blue on my blog to be interviewed.  It speaks to the unexpected impact that blogging has had on my creative life and the community that I am, however back-asswardly, building 🙂

This post will be my 190th, I have 118 followers through WordPress, and publish my posts to 243 friends on Facebook, 412 followers on Twitter, 112 connections on LinkedIn, and 90 people have included me in their G+ circles.

I’ve participated in a few challenges (October submit-o-rama, I ❤ my blog, and the Just write 2013 short story challenge) and a couple of the Goodreads group craft book discussions.

I’ve posted a grand total of once on the WSS site and am currently waiting to hear from Robert regarding a guest blog on My Name is Not Bob.  **Hint: Look in your spam folder, Robert 🙂

It’s a humble beginning, but I remind myself that platforms take years to build and that until I have something more than a couple of old poetry anthologies to shill, that I’m not likely to have a massive following.  Even then, unless I turn out to be the next big thing for real, I’ll probably only see modest growth.

Next

I’ve been threatening to move to WordPress.org for a while now.  I still haven’t found the time to parse my archives and clean up some of my old posts.  I have to rework some of my images too, since in the early days of my blog, I just did a Google search for my images.  I have to find creative commons equivalents, use my own, or remove them entirely.

Nor have I settled on a new hosting company.  The fear of hack still lives in me and I’m admittedly dragging my feet on this one.

I’m also considering a greater involvement in WSS.  The site is still in evolution and I’m not sure what I can commit to.  Want and need are two entirely different things.  Keeping that distinction in mind will help me stay sane.

What I will do is encourage all of you to visit the Wordsmith Studio site, peruse the wonderful diversity of our members’ sites and blogs (photo bloggers, pet bloggers, health bloggers, poets, fiction writers of all genres, non-fiction writers, publishers, and so much more).  A weekly round up of our anniversary blogs will be posted on the Veranda, so please read on.

Also visit My Name is Not Bob to see some of the lessons learned posts from several of the original challengers.

Many of my online friends have had amazing years, some good, some bad, some demoralizing, and some downright inspiring.  Most of them are far more eloquent than I am.

Consider liking, commenting, sharing or subscribing.  They are teh awesome, with a little awesomesauce on the side 🙂

Happy anniversary WSSers!  Love you all, even if I don’t show it often enough.

Six questions with Lara Schiffbauer

Lara SchiffbauerLara Schiffbauer is a writer, licensed clinical social worker, mother of two, wife of one, and a stubborn optimist. She loves Star Wars, Lego people, science, everyday magic, and to laugh.  You can connect with Lara through Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, or on her website. Her debut novel, Finding Meara, will be available in March, 2013.

_______________________________________________________________________________

Welcome to Writerly Goodness, Lara!  Thank you for taking the time to answer these few questions for my readers.  I have to say that since we met through Robert Lee Brewer’s April Platform Challenge last year that I’ve been following your progress with Finding Meara with rapt attention 🙂  As I approach the end of revisions on my own work in progress, the decisions you’ve made are informing my process and plans moving forward.

Without further ado:

WG: When did you begin to write and what was the moment you knew that writing was the path you wanted/needed to pursue?

LAS: I’d like to first say think you so much for having me over today! The Platform Challenge was a wonderful opportunity to get to meet so many lovely writer-types—like you! I’m honored you find my path to publication informative and inspiring!

I enjoyed writing my whole life, but I didn’t think about writing for other people’s enjoyment until five years ago. I hadn’t been creative in any way for about ten years, and wanted to regain the spark. My children were toddlers, and I work full-time, so a return to writing fit the best. Since I’m a goal-oriented kind of person, I decided to not just write, but write with the goal of getting it read by people other than my family.

WG: What was the idea that became Finding Meara and how long have you been working on the novel?

LAS: I’ve worked with children in a social worker/therapist role for over ten years. The seed for Finding Meara rose out of the need to have some justice for abused and mistreated children. The story evolved into an urban fantasy about a young woman who, in a case of mistaken identity, ends up in a magical world where she must rescue her newfound half-sister before their sadistic father can sacrifice either in his quest for immortality and unrestrained power. As her world is turned inside out, she is forced to put other’s needs before her own, and discovers herself in the process. I’ve been working on it for about two years.

WG: I’m a process geek and I love to hear about how other writers approach their craft.  Can you give us some insight in to how you do that thing you do 🙂 ?

LAS: Lots of trial and error! I have learned that if I want to write with any speed, I have to know where the characters are going. With Finding Meara, I’d plot out a few chapters at a time, which allowed flexibility as well. I started another book, Age of Stars, which I plotted out completely. By doing that, I realized that I didn’t like the story and will be re-plotting it, once I get the first draft of the next book in the Adven Realm adventures done.  So, no pantsing for me, but any hybrid of outlining seems to work all right.

WG: I remember that you tried the traditional publishing route. What was your experience with querying and why did you choose to self-publish?

LAS: It didn’t take me long to change my mind. I pitched Finding Meara to Lou Anders of Pyr Books at the Pikes Peak Writer’s Conference in April 2012 and sent out eight-ish query letters over the summer, before deciding (around August 2012) that Finding Meara is a unique enough animal that traditional publishing probably wouldn’t want it. I love the story and want other people to have access to it, in case they might love it too, and so decided to self-publish.

WG: What platform(s) did you choose and why?

LAS: Interesting question! My platforms fall into two categories: those I have had and used for a while and those I’ve created due to releasing Finding Meara.

I’ve been blogging for a little over two years, and use Facebook to connect to writer friends. I enjoy Pinterest personally, but do have some boards for the three books I’ve got going on it. I like Twitter, but lately I’m lucky to get on a couple of times a week.

In January I created a Facebook Author Page, a Goodreads Author Page and my website, which has links to all my social media spots. I just recently opened a Wattpad account because I am releasing two chapters of Finding Meara a week there until its release.

I’m not one of those people who have created a social media empire, with hundreds of followers on any given platform. I do sincerely appreciate every person who has ever decided to follow along with my journey, and have been absolutely blessed by getting to meet and become friends with some amazing, supportive people. I’ll take those types of relationships over numbers any day!

I chose to create a Facebook Author page because it provides an opportunity to interact with the international community. E-reader use in other countries is on the rise and I’m hoping through Facebook I’ll have a way to develop the writer/reader relationship. I opened a Goodreads page and a Wattpad page because they offer a way to interact with readers. So much social media seems to be directed toward other writers, and while writers read, there are tons of readers in the world who don’t go hang around the writer water-cooler.

WG: Is there anything else that you’d like to share with regard to Finding Meara?Finding Meara Cover

LAS: As I mentioned above, I have a Finding Meara Sneak Peek going on at Wattpad leading up to the release. I wish I could give a firm date of release, but I’m still tweaking for an exact date. It will be in March, though, and if anyone wants up to date information regarding the release, I would encourage them to follow me on Facebook or my blog, as I will post the date as soon as I know. On release weekend, Finding Meara will cost a full $0.00, so if you like the story on Wattpad you will be able to finish it for free. There will also be a giveaway on Goodreads post-release.

Thank you so much, Melanie, for offering me this opportunity to share my story!

________________________________________________________________________________

Lara, thank you for being so generous with your time and experience.

If you have any questions for Lara, please write them in the comments, and as always, I encourage you to like, share, comment, and follow (the blog equivalent of the writer’s think, do, create, be!).

Have a good one, my writerly peeps!  Until next time! *waves*

The Right to Write

As part of the Wordsmith Studio Goodreads group, I have been reading Julia Cameron’s The Right to Write.  I think I’ve fallen in love 🙂

Cover of "The Right to Write: An Invitati...

Cover via Amazon

Julia’s philosophy of writing is something that I’ve aspired to for years and I think that I’ll be referring to her book for some time.  The book has an organic quality to it that I admire.

What follows are the gems I mined from Cameron’s book, and all the credit for them must, of course, go to the author.

Gems:

Introduction
“Writing has for thirty plus years been my constant companion, my lover, my friend, my job, my passion, and what I do with myself and the world I live in.  Writing is how, and it sometimes seems why, I do my life.”
“Our ‘writing life’ … cannot be separated from our life as a whole.”
“… writing is a powerful form of prayer and meditation, connecting us both to our own insights and to a higher and deeper level of inner guidance …”

Begin

“It’s a luxury to be in the mood to write.”
“… writing is like a good pair of pyjamas …”

Let yourself write

“We have an incredible amount of mystery, mystique, and pure bunk around exactly what [becoming a writer] means.”
“When we just let ourselves write, we get it ‘right.’”

Let yourself listen

“Writing is about getting something down, not about thinking something up.”

The time lie

“The myth that we must have ‘time’—more time—in order to create is a myth that keeps us from using the time we do have.”

Laying track

“For the first time, I gave myself emotional permission to do rough drafts and for those drafts to be, well, rough.”
“Writing—and this is the big secret—wants to be written.”

Bad writing

“Bad writing—when it’s good—is like New York street pizza.  Sometimes it’s a little too crusty.  Sometimes it’s a little soggy, but the tang is undeniable.  It has flavor.  Spice.  Juice.”

This writing life

“I have crawled out of lovers’ beds to sneak off and write.”

“There is a great happiness in letting myself write.  I don’t always do it well, or need to, but I do need to do it.”
“Writing is alchemy.”

Mood

“All of us have a sex drive.  All of us have a drive to write.”
“Writing may be an art, but it is certainly a craft.  It is a simple and workable thing that can be as steady and reliable as a chore—does that ruin the romance?”

Drama

“Keep the drama on the page.”
“Keeping the drama on the page is ruthless, enlightened self-interest.”

The wall of infamy

“… I advocate writing for revenge.  I advocate writing ‘to show them.’  You turn the dross of your disappointments into the gold of accomplishment.”

Valuing our experience

“Seeking to value ourselves, we look to others for assurance.  If what we are doing threatens them, they cannot give it.  If what we envision is larger than they can see, they cannot give support for what it is we are doing.”
“Valuing our experience is not narcissism.  It is not endless self-involvement.  It is, rather, the act of paying active witness to ourselves and to our world.”

Specificity

“One thing at a time, one thought, one word at a time.  That is how a writing life is built.”
“Detail allows us to communicate precisely what we mean.”

Body of experience

“Because we think of writing as something disembodied and cerebral, because we ‘think’ of writing rather than notice that what we do with it is meet or encounter it, we seldom realize that writing, like all art, is embodied experience.”
“True knowledge, authentic knowledge, is something deeper than the mind entertains.”

The well

“Writing is what we make from the broth of our experience.  If we lead a rich and varied life, we will have a rich and varied stock of ingredients from which to draw …”
“Sanity in writing means acknowledging that we are an creative ecosystem and that without fresh inflow and steady outflow the pond of our inner resources can grow stagnant and stale.”

Sketching

“If I see or hear the impulse to put in a tree, I put it in the landscape of what I am writing … the writing itself knows when and how and where it will use it.”
“‘It’s a sort of lucid dreaming where I carry the idea of the story and the Universe delivers to me bits and pieces as I need them.’”

Loneliness

“Not writing is the lonely thing.  Not writing creates self-obsession.  Self-obsession blocks connection with others … with the self.  Writing is like an inner compass.  We check in and we get our bearings.”

Witness

“What writing brings to life is clarity and tenderness.  Writing, we witness ourselves.”

“Why don’t we do it in the road?”

“People who write from discipline … take the risk of trying to write from the least open and imaginative part of themselves, the part of them that punches a time clock instead of taking flights of fancy.”

Connection

“Writing is a way not only to metabolize life but to alchemize it as well.  It is a way to transform what happens to us into our own life experience.  It is a way to move from passive to active.  We may still be the victims of circumstance, but by our understanding of those circumstances we place events within the ongoing context of our own life, that is, the life we ‘own.’”

Being an open channel

“When writing dominates a life, relationships suffer—and not coincidentally, so does the writing.”
“Although we seldom talk about it in these terms, writing is a means of prayer.  It connects us to the invisible world.”

Integrating

“The root of the word ‘integration’ is the smaller word ‘integer,’ which means ‘whole.’  Too often, racing through life, we become the ‘hole,’ not ‘whole.’”

Credibility

“Based on the idea that writing is product, not process, the credibility attack wants to know just what credits you’ve amassed lately.  The mere act of writing, the fact of which makes you a writer, counts for nothing with this monster.”

Place

“The accumulation of details, the willingness to be specific and precise, the willingness to ‘place’ a piece of writing accurately in context—all of these things make for writing that a reader can connect to.”

Happiness

“It is my belief that writing is a way to bless and to multiply out blessings.”
“Writing is a form of cherishing.”

Making it

“The universe is not, to my eye, a cruel and capricious place.  I believe that our desire to write is a deep-seated human need to communicate and that it is answered by an equally powerful human drive to be communicated to.  In other words, for every writer there is a reader—or many readers.”

Honesty

“Writing is about honesty.  It is amost impossible to be hinest and boring at the same time.”

Vulnerability

“Vulnerability in writing is the enemy of grandiosity … of pomposity.  It is the enemy of posturing; the enemy of denial … Vulnerability is writing health, and health—as I can assure you—can be a scary-feeling experience for some of us.”
“Vulnerability, which is honesty’s shy younger sister, is the part of ourselves that renders un capable of great art, art that enters and explores the heart.”

Dailiness

“Writing is the act of motion.  Writing is the commitment to move forward, not to stew in our own juices, to become whatever it is that we are becoming.”
“Reality happens in daily doses.  Life lived a day at a time is life made much of.”

Voice

“Writing from the body—dropping down into the well of your experience and sounding out how you feel—ultimately yields a body of work.  We say that a voice is full-bodied without realizing that this is a literal phrase: when we write from our gut rather than from our head we acquire the same resonance that a singer does when the breath comes from the diaphragm rather than high up in the chest.”

Form versus formula

“… joie de vivre, … kick-in-the-pants power comes when we allow form to triumph over formula.  In other words, when we trust that writing ‘live’ has a real and valid life to it.”

Footwork

“It is a spiritual maxim that God never closes one door without opening another.  It is a spiritual joke that while this may be true, the hallway in between is murder.  When we are ‘stuck’ in our writing lives, it is usually because we are clinging to a situation that has outlived its usefulness to us or we are unwilling to explore a new risk that we sense we really must take.”

Practice

“Practice means what it says: writing is something to be done over and over, something that improves through the repetitive doing but that needs not be done perfectly. … Consistency is the key to mastering the instrument that is you.”

Containment

“Showing our writing to hostile or undiscerning readers is like lending money to people with terrible fiscal pasts.  We will not be repaid as we wish.”
“We must write from love and we must choose those to read us who read from love: the love of words.”

Sound

“We talk about the writing voice but seldom about the importance of literal sounds in the sound it makes.”
We talk about music in writing but we seldom focus on the music all around us.”

I would live to write, but …

“We want official validation that we are ‘really’ writers.  The truth is, we need to give that permission, that validation, ourselves.”

Driving

“I have a drive to write and I do drive to write. … the art of writing devours images and … if I am going to write deeply, frequently, and well, I must keep my inner pond of images very well stocked.  When I want to restock my images, I get behind the wheel of my car.”

Roots

“… writing benefits from other commitments.  Writing responds well to some gentle scheduling.  A day job not only promotes solvency, it promotes creativity as well.”

ESP

“It is my belief that all of us are naturally intuitive and that writing opens an inner spiritual doorway that gives us access to information both personally and professionally that serves us well.  I call this information ‘guidance’ …”

Cheap tricks

“… the part of me that writes in young, vulnerable, and easily swayed. … I use a lot of cheap tricks to bribe my writer into production.”

Stakes

“In writing, stakes are a question of clarity and empathy.  As writers, we must make it very clear what our characters stand to lose or gain so that our readers, encountering these stakes, can feel empathy and care about the outcome.”

Procrastination

“Writers procrastinate so that when they finally get to writing, they can get past the censor.”

Into the water

Julia’s prescription of morning pages, a narrative time line, and cups.  You’ll have to read the book to find out what these are.

The right to write

“To be truly human, we all have the right to make art.  We all have the right to write.”

These are only a few of the gems I could have plucked out for you, and all of them are of a similar nature.  If you are inspired or intrigued in any way by these, go grab the book.  Go on now!  Give yourself a lovely gift for Christmas.  Or suggest it to a loved one.

Cameron includes exercises at the end of each chapter and it forms a kind of writer’s rehab.  The Right to Write is, if nothing else, Cameron’s attempt to heal the injured and encourage the aspiring writer.

On virtual homework and the reading of books

Dan Blank of We Grow Media

So here we are in week two of We Grow Media’s Build Your Author Platform course.

Week one was about developing focus, and I think I did pretty well.  As I mentioned a few weeks ago in my post about Michael Hyatt’s Life Plan document, I’ve done a lot of thinking about my life and what I want out of it.  It wasn’t difficult for me to put into words my plans for my creative life.

This week, it’s going to be a little more challenging.  I have to figure out my writerly identity and brand.  I know what I’ve said about myself on this blog and elsewhere, but this week’s assignment will have me digging deeper.

I have this morbid image floating about in my head …  See, a garden spade is pretty sharp, and I can imagine that digging into my tender heart and mind being a bit painful.

One benefit is that my name is pretty unique, and since I’ve bought my domain and all my SoMe is in my name, my blog, Twitter, Facebook account, LinkedIn account, etc. appear at the top of the results in most search engines.  And if my blog isn’t up there, then one of my poetry books, NEOVerse is.  So that’s a win.

I’ll have to let you know how the branding exercises go.  I’m not a tooter of my own horn.  It makes me squirm, actually.  Hence the painfully-sharp-spade-phobia.

On introversion

I’m an introvert, though I work in an industry that has me putting myself “out there” as a trainer.  My friend, Brainy (pseudonym) had this to say about introversion on her blog this week:

Other people in my work environment likely see me as fairly extroverted because I am very outspoken and I address individuals and groups quite confidently when sharing the expertise that I have accumulated in recent years.  I do a lot of online coaching and desktop sharing with collaborative technology but it’s usually one-on-one now.  I can only sustain the energy required for the group stuff once in awhile and with considerable advance preparation.

I can relate.

She also recommends Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking.  It’s on my reading list.

What else I’ve been reading lately

Last month, I finished Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games.  I’d had the trilogy since last year when I saw the movie with a couple of friends who had both read the whole series and loved it.  More recently, I was urged to take the plunge for two more reasons: 1) my mom had just read the series and also loved it, and 2) Larry Brooks’s eleven-part analysis of the first book on his Storyfix blog (more on that in a moment).

I too, loved the book.  Having seen the movie, read Brooks’s analysis, and a few other reviews/articles on the novel, I was well aware of the plot and events of the novel.  But spoilers never spoil a book for me.  When I know the major plot points, I only enjoy the book more.  I read to improve my craft.

Collins’s prose is clean, her POV engaging, and her craft extraordinary.  Damned.  Good.  Book.

Mind you, I think I might be the last person on the face of the earth to read The Hunger Games 🙂

Brooks’s analysis of the book also lead me to read his: Story Engineering.  I did get a lot out of his book, but it was despite the author’s ethos.  Brooks comes on a little strong for my liking, and I truly resent having anyone shake a virtual finger at me.

For more of my thoughts on this writing craft book, please check out my review on Goodreads.

Ethos, for those who may not know, is the author’s personality as it comes through in print.

My undergrad was in rhetoric, so I’m pretty adept at reading past ethos.  It’s a good thing too, because Brooks does have some great information to share and I have already implemented some of his lessons.  I do get it.  I’m just not fond of how Brooks got his message out.

Currently, I’m reading Diana Gabaldon’s The Scottish Prisoner, which I’m enjoying quite a bit (though not as much as the main novels in the Outlander series), and A Medieval Miscellany.

Will let you know how all of that goes.

Right now, Writerly Goodness needs a wee bit of rest.  A new work-day awaits!  Egad …