April 13th, 2018

Write Up a Storm Today!

Happy Friday the Thirteenth!

This has the possibility for being a very good day for you, for me, and for all of us.

Hop on over to our Writers in the Storm Facebook Event Page to read about and participate in today’s event: Write Up A Storm.

You can write for an extended stretch or hop on and off all day long from 3 a.m. PDT to 10 p.m. PDT. Share your word count to be part of the cumulative sum.

Here’s a link to a post to tell you how to prepare and what to expect.

Your Writers in the Storm write-a-long partners:

 

Laura, in her normal habitat.

Golden Heart Finalist Julie Glover at the FF&P costume party

Laura Drake from 3:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. PDT

Julie Glover from 9:00 a.m. to noon PDT

Jenny Hansen from noon to 3:00 p.m. PDT

Fae Rowen from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. PDT closing.

Just because one of us isn’t there to call for word counts at the top of the hour during the two breaks in the day, doesn’t mean you can’t write, if that’s the perfect time for you. Go to our FB event page and record your word count. We’ll add it in. Add all four of us will be checking in throughout the day.

Who knows what excitement we’ll bring with us?

Looking forward to writing with you!

Nothing but fun!

April 11th, 2018

How Facebook Saved my Work in Progress

Orly Konig

I’ve been working on a story that I adore. The characters are fun to hang out with, the setting makes me happy, the topics fascinate me. And I was rocking the first chapters. You know that feeling, right?

Then the brain chipmunks got out of their cage and took off with my brilliant story ideas. I typed and deleted more than I’d typed. The harder I pushed, the more convoluted the story became.

Pound. Head. On. Keyboard.

So, what’s a writer to do? Yup, I did what any self-respecting, on-deadline author does … I futzed away the rest of the day on Facebook.

But, spoiler alert (you read the title of the post, right?), it wasn’t a waste of a day. Au contraire mon ami!

And here’s why …

I wasn’t looking for anything.

A lot of times when we’re stuck on a plot point or have a character who isn’t cooperating, we knot and re-knot the loose threads of the story in a desperate attempt to keep everything from unraveling. We poke and prod, twist and bend. We play the what-if game. We force a square character down a round rabbit hole. And we end up more frustrated than when we started.

Now, I have a confession. I’m not on Facebook that much these days. I spend the time I need for promotion but I tend to get on for what I need and not linger. That wasn’t always the case but I realized that the more time I spent on social media, the harder it was to stay focused and positive. Oh wait, that’s not the point of this blog (what was that about focus?).

But that day, I hung out. I scrolled through my feed, clicked on story links (no, I didn’t take any of those quizzes, don’t panic), watched videos, chatted with friends, posted silly pictures of my cats. It was actually, rather fun.

Then I went on with my evening. My son had climbing team practice, dinner had to be prepared, laundry needed to be folded, cats insisted on being fed.

As I was futzing about, one video from early in the day, kept replaying in my head. It wasn’t a thread I’d entertained for this story but suddenly there it was, THE missing piece that tied the whole thing together. It totally flipped my idea about one of the characters and how the book would end, but this made sense. The story suddenly had a secondary plot line that made it so much stronger.

The following day, I cranked through the synopsis and had a blast writing it. Crazy, right?! And my SWIP (stalled work in progress) is now chugging along again.

This is not a hall-pass to go play on Facebook for the rest of the day. But next time you’re stuck or stressing over a story thread that isn’t working, let the brain chipmunks loose and follow where they take you … they may show you the awesome story nuts are stashed.

 

What’s your go-to for untangling plot knots?

 

ABOUT ORLY

Carousel Beach CoverAfter years in the corporate world (most of it in the space industry), Orly Konig took a leap into the creative world of fiction. She is the founding president of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, an active member of the Tall Poppy Writers, and a quarterly contributor to the Writers in the Storm and Thinking Through Our Fingers blogs.

Her debut women’s fiction, The Distance Home, released from Forge, May 2017. Carousel Beach will release May 8, 2018. Find her online at www.orlykonig.com.

April 9th, 2018

Advice for the Soon to be (Self)-Published

Ann Griffin

As I write this, it is T+ 6 weeks and counting, since my debut novel, Another Ocean to Cross, was released to the world. Since then, I have sold about 150 copies through all outlets, received 12 reviews (all positive,) held 4 launch events, and scheduled 3 more for April, and had the pleasant experience of depositing money in the bank, for a change.

I’d like to share with you some of the things I have done that are working well for me.

 

Talk to the Groups You Know Ahead of Time

Don’t be bashful. Most people are thrilled to know a real author.

I belong to a church choir, a golf league, a retirees group, and a dog lovers’ group in my home town of Mesa, Arizona. I spoke with them about my book, and to my surprise, they were all interested. As a result, I scheduled three events, and sold sixty books.

Create a Presentation

I created a twenty-minute Powerpoint presentation, with photos, about how I researched my book. The listeners positively ate it up. One of them told me afterwards, she had never before given any thought to how much work the writer had put into it a book.

Then, I let people ask questions. (A planned book reading disappeared into the black hole of my overstimulated brain, but my error did not dampen the excitement of the day, and I won’t leave it out next time.)

Refreshments, including a gorgeous cake and champagne, went over very well. However, I bought too much food and drink. People were far more interested in buying their book and talking with one another.

Enlist your Friends

I enlisted the help of several friends to answer the door, look after the food, drinks, and take photographs. Another accepted payments, while I signed the books, inserted a bookmark, and smiled beatifically. It made a tremendous difference, not having to worry about anything but my presentation.

You’re Starting a Business

(If you are traditionally publishing, skip to the next heading.)

I decided to form an LLC, which costs little, and adds professionalism to my work. The LLC and government EIN number allowed me to open a separate checking and credit card account for my business. This is not required, but makes life a lot easier in tax season.

I obtained a local business license, which obligates me to collect and remit sales tax. Check with your local or state government.

After looking in my garage for a decent substitute and finding none, I sprung for a cash box and keep a decent float in it. I purchased a “for deposit only” stamp for the backs of checks.

What about credit cards? I agonized over this a bit, since one doesn’t have to take them, but decided I did not want to lose potential sales. I opted for the Square device that plugs into your smartphone or tablet. It is easy to use, the service fee is reasonable, and hey, I got those sales!

I paid to have my books (the financial kind) professionally set up. I loathe this end of the business, but the $150 I spent on my bookkeeper has given me confidence that I won’t run afoul of the IRS next year.

The Marketing, oh, the Marketing

The biggest rule of marketing is, “make it easy for people to find and buy your book.”

Others, more experienced than me, have written plenty on this intimidating subject. I’m not going to do more than scrape the thinnest bit off the crust, but here’s what I have done so far:

  • I posted links to websites carrying my book, on my social media sites.
  • I opted to use com for my newsletter list. It wasn’t as hard as I had expected. I only have 185 names on it so far, but it is a start, and every time I sell a book in person, I ask the buyer if she wants to be on my list. The vast majority say, “yes.”
  • I advertised all my launch events anywhere I could, while not spending a fortune.
  • My readers are probably tired of me asking for reviews, but now I have twelve.
  • I created an author Amazon page.
  • My website has undergone a lot of updating, now that I have reviewer quotes to share.
  • A blog post forces me to think about what I have learned, so I can share with others who might want to know.
  • Keep alert for unusual places to get the word out. For example, I attended a local women’s networking meeting, and now I have contributed an article about my book to their magazine with a circulation of over 6000.
  • I visited my local library, and the helpful librarian quickly signed me up for a local author book fair, an individual presentation/signing, and local author of the month next October.
  • What about friends in Tuscaloosa who want a signed copy? I had unique bookplates designed and printed. I mail signed bookplates, as readers request them.
  • I’m currently in discussion with bookstores in Toronto and Waterloo, Ontario, and sent an optimistic letter to a bookstore in Yorkshire, England, asking for a book signing event.

My life has changed since I published my book. People look at me differently. They treat me as though I am an authority on writing. (If they only knew!) Even other writers give me a new level of respect. I feel different, too, having accomplished an enormous goal I set years ago. So for those of you not quite in the “published” world yet, don’t give up! The effort and time will be worth it.

Do you have additional tips for what to do when self- or traditional-publishing? Do you have questions for Ann?

*  *  *  *  *  *

About Ann:

Ann Griffin has lived in three countries (UK, Canada, and USA) and four states, so the hardest question anyone can ask her is, “Where are you from?” She loves historical fiction. Family stories and family secrets have provided her with much fodder for her writing, and she does not anticipate running out of ideas anytime soon.

Website: http://anngriffinwriter.com

Email: info@anngriffinwriter.com

Facebook:  facebook.com/anngriffinwriter/

April 6th, 2018

A Writer’s Lessons in Failure

Heather Webb

Failure. Hmmmm. Well, I recently entered two contests and wasn’t selected. I’ve had agents who didn’t want me, editors who didn’t want my book(s), and enough negative reviews to be christened an author. I’ve also had the illustrious pleasure of receiving a small handful of emails from Wikipedia Historians telling me why I’m wrong about some research. Failure indeed. I’ve had lots of it, and suspect plenty more lies on the horizon.

For writers, failure is a four-letter word. We fear it, we dread it, and we try to avoid it at all costs. But perhaps we give it too much power. Maybe it’s best to run straight at it, helmet on. Learning how to cope with “failure” comes through loads of practice (sadly), but it also comes through two important skills a writer needs to survive:

ACCEPTING WHEN YOUR CRAFT NEEDS WORK  This is really difficult sometimes because it involves listening to others who criticize your work, as well as learning to listen to your intuition. Our ego likes to make us feel that critical feedback is wrong, and that we just haven’t found the right audience yet. But in time, we learn to discern the difference between our ego and what our gut tells us. We learn to digest the feedback, and work on our problem areas one at a time. Finally, we learn to make good friends with humility.

Humility serves us well, not only making us kinder, more open-minded people, but it enables us to filter out the helpful advice embedded within the harsh feedback, negative reviews, or the ever-present “something to improve upon in our pages”.

DEVELOP YOUR OWN PHILOSOPHY OF FAILURE  In spite of my many disappointments, rejections, and instances of failure, I’ve achieved some successes and happily work toward a growing portfolio. This came with a pound of flesh, but I don’t regret a single failure. They have forced me to dig deeply to remain connected with what drove me to write in the first place: a love of story. I’ve been forced to evolve to make my dreams happen. I’ve been forced to accept failure as a matter of course, not as an evaluation of who I am as a person, or as a measure of what I deserve. I have survived, in short, because I have developed my own philosophy of failure.

I must admit, my philosophy of failure changes the longer I write and the longer I work with publishers. To begin, I believe every attempt to achieve a writing goal that didn’t produce measurable positive results still gave me something that is more precious than anything tangible—it gave me experience. These experiences evolved into knowledge, and we all know knowledge is power.

But let’s be more concrete about this. Let’s look at “failure” from a numbers stand point. Writers are full of story ideas—loads of them. It’s impossible for publishers to buy everything we write, or to get on board with everything we love. There simply isn’t enough time or resources, or consumers for that matter. Therefore, everything we create won’t sell. This is why it’s imperative to WRITE ON, try new concepts, work on a new style or format. Challenge yourself. Keep going. Some ideas will strike a chord and some won’t.

Regardless of what happens with our books when they leave our desk, it’s our job as writers to keep developing stories that mean something to us on a deep, intangible level. It’s our job to explore and to push boundaries. We must weave our despair and angst and hope and joy into stories so others can relate to the characters that carry these messages. These are the stories that will succeed—and those that don’t succeed on a public level, feed our creative souls.

Writers write. It’s what we do. Failure is like death and taxes—all are a certainty. Failure wounds us, but that shouldn’t diminish our need to make sense of the world through words. Those wounds, instead, should make our need to create more powerful and urgent. So move failure off your hit list, and instead, consider it a measurement of your strength and skill.

What is your philosophy of failure?

About Heather:

Heather Webb is the international bestselling author of historical novels Becoming Josephine, Rodin’s Lover, Last Christmas in Paris, and The Phantom’s Apprentice, which have been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Entertainment Weekly and more, as well as received national starred reviews. In 2015, Rodin’s Lover was selected as a Goodreads Top Pick, and in 2017, Last Christmas in Paris became a Globe and Mail bestseller. To date, Heather’s novels have sold in multiple countries worldwide. She is also a professional freelance editor, and teaches craft courses at a local college.

 

April 4th, 2018

It’s Back! Write Up a Storm Returns on Friday, April 13

 

Writers in the Storm is having its annual “Writing Event” on Friday, April 13. 

Write Up A Storm is a one-day sprint-writing bash on Facebook, designed to motivate and sustain your writing throughout the day. Even if that day job impinges on your time, you can participate before work, during lunch and after hours. We’ll be here. Writing. Piling up word count. Supporting each other, from 6 a.m. EDT to 1 a.m. EDT. This is your chance to push toward completing your WIP for summer contests, pitches, and submissions.

The four of us will be monitoring and encouraging—and writing—throughout the day, although there will be some “unsupervised” blocks. Laura Drake will begin the day, followed by a three-hour non-assigned stint, then Julie Glover takes over and hands the reins to Jenny Hansen. After a three-hour non-assigned break, Fae Rowen will lead the final challenge into the night.

Beware those non-assigned time slots. Any or all of us may be checking in to see who’s writing and comment or share what we’re working on.

We’ll be writing all day and keeping track of word count totals from you, our fabulous readers. You can post your word count in a comment on Facebook during the day, and we’ll add it to the tally. You can post every hour if you want to and encourage others–or challenge them. Hmm, is this a WITS Throwdown in the making? We’re hoping that the combined word count will add up to a novella. Actually I’m hoping for a full-length book, but I’m a notorious optimist!

Here’s a short list of simple things you can do to prepare for Write Up A Storm:

  1. If you’re a plotter, work on that outline for your new idea. You don’t have to finish the outline, but have enough to get you through three (or six) chapters.
  2. If you’re a pantser, work your process so you’ve got the beginning of your story solidly ready to put words on the page.
  3. Know your characters–their motivation, their character arcs, what they want more than anything else in the world.
  4. Know what keeps your characters from getting what they want, whether it’s another person, lack of something, like education, or maybe something from their past.
  5. Read. When writers stop reading, they stop writing. So read to fill your writer well. Read like a reader and enjoy yourself.
  6. Mark the date on your calendar. Set an alarm on your phone.
  7. Commit to a definite number of minutes–even if it’s only ten–of solid writing time. Or commit to a word count for the day.
  8. Complete any research necessary to write the section you plan to work on.
  9. Contact other writer friends to participate for support. They will thank you on Saturday, April 14, when they look at what they’ve accomplished.
  10. Finish routine chores like the laundry and grocery shopping during the week.
  11. Pre-cook meals for the day.

 

Are you willing to commit to writing on Friday, April 13? Are you willing to share your word count? How about sharing a tip to help all of us get ready?

 

ABOUT FAE

Fae Rowen discovered the romance genre after years as a science fiction freak. Writing futuristics and medieval paranormals, she jokes  that she can live anywhere but the present. As a mathematician, she knows life’s a lot more fun when you get to define your world and its rules.
 
P.R.I.S.M., Fae’s debut book, a young adult science fiction romance story of survival, betrayal, resolve, deceit, and love is now available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

When she’s not hanging out at Writers in the Storm, you can visit Fae at http://faerowen.com  or www.facebook.com/fae.rowen.