Writing Business Tidbytes – August

Funny-gator

SORRY, I MISSPOKE!

We often write the things that we say ourselves and hear in everyday life. That’s the way to be authentic, right? Well, yes – if we’ve got the words right, that is! Neither my hearing nor my memory are what they once were, so I’m double checking my writing and my speaking!

Some often-misused words:

  • All the sudden – should be – All of a sudden
  • Calvary vs cavalry. If military on horseback are what you are looking for, you want to use the word cavalry. If you are writing or speaking about the location where people were executed on a cross, you want Calvary, also known as Golgotha.
  • Chomping at the bit – should be – Champing at the bit
  • For all intensive purposes – should be – For all intents and purposes

EMOTIONS & MARKETING

We know that when reader’s hearts are touched, we’ve done our job, right? This is true in fiction of course, but it is also true in non-fiction work including ad and web copy! The link below to Hubspot will take you to a great article that discusses which emotions evoke what response. Worth a few minutes to read!  HubSpot Article

WHAT IN THE WORLD IS A LANDING PAGE?

The thing I liked about this fun offer is that when you learn what makes up a good landing page, you have also learned what makes for ideal marketing points for your press releases, ads, emails, etc. They have a free book offer in exchange for signing onto their newsletter. Don’t want the newsletter? When you get the first one, just opt out – but I suggest you don’t. Lots of good information coming your way for free! Up to you, but if you want to check it out, take a look here. How to Design & Optimize Landing Pages

AUTHOR CHRISTIE STRATOS VIDEO ABOUT AUTHOR HYBRID MARKETING

In March of this year, I presented two workshops at the Liberty States Fiction Writers Conference in New Jersey. One of those was a workshop entitles, HYBRID MARKETING for AUTHORS. Christie came in a bit late because of her appointment with a literary agent, but she was with us for most of the session and had some great questions and input. Here, she used her You Tube channel to share what she learned with her friends and followers. If you’ve got a half hour, she does a pretty good job of recapping the points I tried to drive home. Author Hybrid Marketing

Until next week, I wish you lots of quality writing time, a good book to read, and people who love you. Keep reading, keep writing, keep submitting!

Nancy Q.

 

 

 

 

 

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EXPOSED: Win a Prize Pack!

Diana Hunter and Peter Hopkinson have been temporarily assigned to Task Force Indigo, a counter-terrorism group.

Following the failed assassination attempt on a Canadian Senator, their mission is to interrogate a known associate of a new terrorist organization, ILIF.

What they uncover isn’t just a simple case of an angry young man, but a plot to claim the lives of thousands of people and change the political direction of two countries.

Can Diana and Peter intercept the terrorists to prevent the planned attack or will their pasts destroy their ability to trust each other and undermine their attempts?

Find out in the latest installment of this edge-of-your-seat series!

Available on Amazon and in Kindle Unlimited!

Alison Golden was born and raised in Bedfordshire, England. She writes cozy mysteries and suspense novels, along with the occasional witty blog post, all of which are designed to entertain, amuse, and calm. Her approach is to combine creative ideas with excellent writing and edit, edit, edit.

Alison is the creator of the Reverend Annabelle Dixon cozy mysteries, a charming, fun series featuring a female vicar ministering in the beautiful county of Cornwall, England. She also produces a Jersey-based detective series featuring Inspector David Graham and the Diana Hunter series, set in Vancouver.

Her books’ themes range from the humorous and sweet to harder hitting suspense. They are recommended for readers who like to relax and unwind with their books, who enjoy getting to know the characters, and who prefer the tougher side of life implied.

Alison is based in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and twin sons. She splits her time traveling between London and San Francisco.

To receive three free books, updates about new releases, exclusive promotions, and other insider information, sign up for the Cozy Mysteries Insider mailing list at: http://www.cozymysteries.com.

Enter to win a A Diana Hunter Mystery Prize pack. Hunted, Snatched, and Stolen Paperbacks along with a $10 Amazon GC. Ends 8/26/18 @ 11:59PM EST

 

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Taking Stock

Healthy Lifestyle Graphic

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Our guest blogger for today ran into a scheduling conflict, so we’ll meet him at a later date. You see? Life happens to us all – ready or not.

While I’ve blogged before on the importance of balance in our lives as writers, parents, spouses, children, employees – I was recently reminded of another aspect of our lives that needs our attention and is often an afterthought at best. (I am including myself, here!)

There is little “instant” gratification in this business. To be at peace and to see a profitable career develop, remember you are in a marathon, not a sprint. Athletes invest great amounts of time, energy, and money in training and getting fit for their event(s). So do entrepreneurs. Many of us are authorpreneurs.

I’ve nudged you all before about sitting down and preparing a real-time, time/energy and financial budget for your book publishing and marketing. If we aren’t writing as a hobby, then our writing is a business and any business that is going to grow into a profitable operation, takes a time and financial investment. It also requires monitoring of the income and expenses on a regular basis, be it monthly, quarterly or semi-annually. While it isn’t a business where you can always point to an expense and see a direct result, it’s still important to track all the activity.

What part does our writing play in our financial planning? Are we including it at all? We have to be careful not to reinvest every dime back into the business. A powerful muscle to build for ourselves is to save some of everything we bring in. A recommended number is 10% – but if you hate that number, choose another one. The amount isn’t as important as the habit of putting aside some of your income, every time you bring in income. Use an envelope tucked in your sock drawer, a can or jar on the shelf, or open a savings account just to these funds.

For some of us, that savings might be our “emergency fund”, for others, it might the “vacation fund”, or the “Christmas fund” – it doesn’t matter what label it has as long as it’s important enough to you to do it! And when you get to where there’s a significant amount saved up, seek a good financial planner to help you invest wisely so you can earn while you sleep! Financial stability is a very good thing for us all. And it is what successful, happy business people do.

I’ve got a good friend who was inspirational to me in the business of writing. She and her husband had recently moved into a new home where her husband could build his shop on the property and not have to commute anymore. She laughed when she told me that she’d saved her royalties over the years in her “someday” account – and that’s what they bought the house with. WOW! She treated those checks as paychecks and she and her husband had agreed early on that they’d live on one check and bank the others, so they lived on his and banked hers. A marvelous argument for not spending every penny we bring in. There are many times I’m reminded of that conversation and it still makes me smile. It didn’t happen overnight – it was probably close to eight years of saving.

So, keep writing, keep reading, keep saving! Be patient and be diligent. I wish you peace and prosperity, always.

Nancy Q.

 

 

 

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Faith Trumps Fear

Merciful Blessings Award

Once upon a time, twenty-five years ago, I could not conceive of putting anything I wrote into a contest. My gosh, I’d never survive knowing someone else read it and thought it was horrible stuff! That my “baby” was the ugliest they’d ever seen?

But, as we grow in our writing by learning and applying, by listening to others and reading a lot, we gain a bit of confidence – a little “faith” in ourselves as writers and as evolving human beings.

Back in 1997, I can remember being over the moon when I won (a door prize at a special meeting) a critique by a NY-published author that I knew and respected. This was the significant event in my life that taught me the power of words.

I quit writing for years after I read her notes. She felt that honesty was more important than tact. I still disagree with that theory, today. Thankfully, my own group of critique partners had faith that I’d be a better writer if I carried on. So, after a lot more learning and listening and reading, I went back to it. I gained lifelong friends and mentors like Anne Waldradt, for one – a woman who permanently shaped my writing for the good.

One of the lessons I learned was to never, ever, share my comments or opinions with anyone unless I was sure they’d be helpful and not hurtful. All suggestions can be offered so they don’t crush the life out of someone.  My writing partner, DK Ludas, or Daria in our circles, is wired the same way. One year she and I even chaired a large writing contest for pre-published authors. We spent hundreds of hours making sure the comments were constructive and not destructive before they went off to the authors. We wanted to encourage faith – not fear.

In time, contests became an opportunity to learn and grow for me, not something to be feared or dreaded. My “babies” can be unique-looking, but they are nurtured through editing, feedback, and rewriting from trusted partners in the business – and I’ve got faith that I can be proud of the results, even when those babies don’t win or even final. Judging a work, be it words, paint, or some other art form, is a subjective process.

I’ve often written in the newsletter about the value of entering contests. Sure, when you win, you feel GREAT!! And every time you glance over at that sticker, trophy, or award certificate, you feel great, again. Sometimes you can win money or a prestigious review, publishing opportunity, or something else that is important to you. And sometimes, we don’t.

But most importantly, we get to exercise and strengthen that faith muscle. And, the made-that-deadline muscles And muscles that are not exercised, do not get and stay strong.

Daria and I pray over just about everything. And even though sometimes we have to encourage each other to let it go and leave it with our Lord to do with as He sees fit, we know the result will benefit us. With our kids, our husbands, our communities and with our writing.

The results do not define us: our participation does. That’s how to let faith beat out fear, every single day. Go for it – and do it with a smile!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dianne Neral Ell: Meet the Author

NQ: Welcome, Dianne Neral Ell! I appreciate you taking the time from writing your current novel to spend a little time with us here at Words Count!

Dianne: Thank you for making space and time for me to talk about my writing.

NQ: You’re welcome. You and I are both short story readers and writers as well as novelists. You had great short stories published in the Snowbird Christmas collections. What is it that you love about writing short stories? What do you dislike about writing them?

Dianne: I have many ideas for novels, but each one can take a year or even much longer than that to write. I can convert those ideas into a short story, and even with all its complexities, it will not take as long to complete. So time is an important factor. The other thing I like is the variety. One story can be a mystery. The next, sci-fi, fantasy, or have a historical setting. You can sell to whoever you want. With novels, you are pretty much held to the type of book your contract is based on.

For short stories, however, the biggest challenge is the word count. Know that in the beginning. Some publishers are very exact in their requirements.

NQ: They sure are. Following the instructions is a big part of submitting for publication. This year you started out with a home run, right? Your short story, “Incident at Puerto Angel” was just published in the 24th issue of Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine. I bought my magazine through Amazon and enjoyed your story very much. Loved the twist at the end. Can you share with readers a little about the process of getting from writing a story to publication with a major international magazine? How long did that whole process take?

Dianne: This story took longer than usual because I didn’t have the ending to start with. In fact, I didn’t have much at all, just a premise. Someone steals twenty million dollars.  Who?  And why?  With nothing more than that, I’m not sure why I pursued it except that it intrigued me. I came up with several avenues to follow, none of which led to a conclusion but at least I had the bones of a story, (a Wall Street investment banker discovers twenty million has been taken from one of his accounts). Without an ending, I went with it anyway, playing the part of the investigator who follows the money in an attempt to understand why the theft took place. The story unfolded as I wrote it. And the conclusion surprised me when I got there – so it wasn’t just you that was surprised. It’s not something I would have thought of when creating the storyline, but it came as a logical conclusion in the series of events.

NQ: Your novel, The Exhibit, is a very interesting tale of intrigue and irony. I enjoyed it. Made me think of Hitchcock’s tales, actually. Where did the plot for that story come from and how did you develop it into the twists and turns that make that book such a good read?

Dianne: I’ve always enjoyed tales of ancient Egypt, its history, and the remarkable treasures created by the early craftsman. The Exhibit is about an exhibition of ancient Egyptian art and artifacts that comes to a New York museum and a collector’s need to steal one of the pieces. Our protagonist, who also works for the museum, comes up with a unique, foolproof plan to commit the theft, however, it takes the help of three people who are working with her to publicize the exhibit, to pull it off. Anytime you have more than one person committing a crime, there’s a chance that something will go wrong, and it does. Our protagonist doesn’t live up to her end of the pact, leaving the three ‘helpers’ to seek retribution. The story as it unfolds plays to the weaknesses of each of the characters, and the issues in their lives that lead to the unavoidable outcome.

NQ: Who are a couple of your favorite authors and why?

Dianne: My favorite is Daniel Silva. I love his plotting and most of all his writing. I’m also a fan of C.J. Box. And I follow his adventures as game warden with great interest. In his latest, I didn’t see where the conclusion was going to be anything other than ordinary, but he pulled it off so that it wasn’t. I’ve also followed Mary Higgins Clark over her many years as an author. I’m also a fan of Eric Ambler and Graham Greene.

Probably one of my favorite books is Thomas Cook’s Red Leaves. When I think back on what books linger, that’s one in which the story, the writing, the choice of words, resonate over time

NQ: What kind of research do you do and do you finish all your research before you write or research as you go along?

Dianne: I research up front to get everything in place and know what’s feasible and what isn’t. But there’s always research that goes in along the way. The plot changes. New characters and places appear that I hadn’t thought of originally.

NQ: I’m sure readers can get your books wherever books are sold, right? Can they find them in any of the local stores? If so, which ones? And where can readers find out more about you – maybe sign up for a newsletter or blog?

Dianne: I know The Exhibit is available in print online from all of the major bookstores, and it’s on Kindle, too. Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine is sold at Barnes and Noble, Books A Million, and at their website. As well as mine.  And, you mentioned you bought it on Amazon. For more info on me and what I’ve written, go to dianneneralell.com.

NQ: Thanks so much again, for being here with us today. And best wishes on your next project! Looking forward to reading it whether it’s long or short!

Dianne: Nancy, thanks so much for giving me this time. I hope I’ve been able to give some insight into my work, and writing in general.  It’s been a pleasure to talk to you about writing which is near and dear to both of our hearts.

Readers – see you next week!

Nancy Q.

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Writing Business Tidbytes

TouringHope you’ve all had a terrific week. Been a busy one around here, for sure. I was part of some amazing meetings and community-support events that leave me in awe because of the caliber of people I get to work beside. Sometimes, I have to pinch myself – this is my life, really? LOL. It did wreak havoc with my writing and working schedule, however, so, this blog is going to be a bit brief, though beneficial, I hope! As always, take what fits for you and leave the rest behind. Found a few things of interest –

PUBLISHER LOOKING FOR SUBMISSIONS:

Black Opal Books – until December 31. Check out the submission guidelines before submitting, as always, right? They have an online submission form. BLACK OPAL

POETRY COLLECTIONS SOUGHT: (TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE ON THIS ONE!)

TUPELO PRESS
Throughout the month of July, Tupelo Press will hold open submissions for book-length poetry collections (48-90 pages) and chapbook-length poetry collections (28-47 pages). The July Open Reading Period is open to anyone writing in the English language, whether living in the United States or abroad, and regardless of prior publication history.

AGENTS LOOKING FOR SUBMISSIONS:

Check out this awesome link – BOOKFOX! 

Keep writing, keep reading, keep submitting! See you next Sunday with a fun interview with EXHIBIT author, Dianne Neral Ell. Don’t miss it!

Nancy Q.

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SKYE TAYLOR: Meet the author

Skye Taylor 300DPI

Skye Taylor, St Augustine Author

Skye Taylor, mother, grandmother and returned Peace Corps volunteer lives St Augustine Florida, soaking up the history, taking daily walks along one of the prettiest beaches and writing novels. She posts a weekly blog and a monthly newsletter, volunteers with the USO and is currently working on a new murder mystery series. She’s a member of Romance Writers of America, Women’s Fiction Writers Association, Florida Writers Association, and Sisters in Crime. Her list of published novels include: The Candidate, Falling for Zoe, Loving Meg, Trusting Will, Healing a Hero, Keeping His Promise and Iain’s Plaid. Visit her at www.Skye-writer.com

 

 

NQ: Welcome SKYE TAYLOR. And thank you for taking the time from writing your current novel to spend a little time with us here at Words Count!

SKYE: Thank you for having me, Nancy.  It’s a pleasure to be here.

NQ: Let’s talk a bit about your books before we get to KEEPING HIS PROMISE. I enjoyed The Candidate as well as all of the books in your Camerons of Tide’s Way series and I think that’s because they are so relevant. Sort of “Ripped from the Headlines” if you’ll pardon the cliché. They are also uplifting and engaging, but I they have a depth to them as well. What role do “headlines” play in plotting your books?

SKYE: In a romance, the main conflict is always between the hero and heroine, what draws them to each other and what gets in the way of their happy ever after, but these two people are “living” in a wider world than just their own and for the story to feel real and relevant for my readers I need to include that wider world. In the action/adventure genre, the story is all about “ripped from the headlines” themes like espionage, terrorism, politics, and war, and the personal lives turn out to be the secondary plots.

Sometimes when I’m faced with a hole in my plot or a sagging middle, looking beyond the story I’m writing to what’s going on around me in the news gives me great ideas for how to fix it. An example of such a problem I had in Healing A Hero was that I needed to figure out how my hero and heroine could have realistically lost touch with each other after a whirlwind romance that both felt was the beginning of a lifetime love affair. My hero was a Marine, injured and currently out of action so I subscribed to the Marine Times while I was writing this book to understand what the Marines were doing right now, where in the world and what my hero might be wanting to get back to once he got his medical clearance. Quite by chance, I read about a ship that was being decommissioned. Two men who’d been stationed aboard her were interviewed: one of them a Marine who was stationed on this ship in 2001 when it docked in Darwin, Australia. Most of the Marines and half of the Sailors were given immediate shore leave, but before this guy who was being interviewed could eat his steak at a local pub, MPs were running up and down the street ordering all the Americans back to the ship. When the bartender turned on the TV they all watched in horror as the towers in New York crumbled into the ground. The USS Peleliu was ordered out of port immediately and sailed for the Middle East. The Sailors and Marines on board were under orders not to call or email their families. That was my “Ah ha” moment. For four months these men were cut off from all communication from home. It was a real headline about the ship and the events of 9/11, and it was just what I needed to explain how Philip and Elena lost touch. While the military would have reassured the military families of their loved-ones’ safety, there would have been no way for my heroine who was not yet family to know what happened and she would have felt completely abandoned.

In KEEPING HIS PROMISE, relevant headlines play a different role. Every day we read in the paper or hear on the Evening News about immigration issues, another school shooting, homelessness, drug addiction, poverty and neighborhood violence. Everyone wants solutions to these problems, but the sad fact is most don’t want that solution to be in their backyard. Kate and Jon find themselves on opposites sides of such an issue – recidivism and youths in trouble with the law, and before they can find their own happy ever after, they need to come to a compromise on a project to help these young men turn their lives around. I feel like this kind of “ripped from the headlines” secondary plot adds to the depth of the main story by placing it in a world we are all familiar with and by showing the character and integrity or lack thereof in the people who populate this fictional world.

NQ:  I get it.  And I agree! Now, tell us about KEEPING HIS PROMISE – is that the last book in the series or will we get to meet more Camerons either in the series or elsewhere? I heard something about a mystery in the works. Is that true?

SKYE: When I was writing KEEPING HIS PROMISE, I thought it was the last not counting one already written about Cam and Sandy Cameron – the parents of Jake, Ben, Will, Philip and Kate which will eventually get published, but while I was in the midst of writing Kate’s story, a totally unexpected character appeared. He was so intriguing that it was clear his story would be fun to write, too. So while he’s not a Cameron, Lucas Trevlyn lives in Tide’s Way and one day I’m sure I’ll be telling his story, but at the moment the whispers you heard were true. I do have a new project going on. This time it’s going to be a mystery, hopefully, a series, starring Jesse Quinn a female, Deputy Sheriff assigned to investigating violent crimes in northeast Florida.

NQ:  Well, I for one will keep a sharp eye out for the next Skye Taylor novel, I promise! Let’s chat a bit about you as a writer. Do your personal life experiences enter into your books or characters or is it all totally fabricated with no relationship to you and your life?

SKYE: My characters are mostly figments of my overactive imagination, but let’s face it, our life experiences can’t help but filter into the creation of our fictional characters. To start with, a new writer is often told, Write what you know.” Even in a historical, in a time and place the author can’t even visit, individual traits and humanity don’t change all that much. We still have family relationships, siblings we either get along with or fight with, co-workers, neighbors, parents, and kids, and a lot of that will color how we create our historical characters. I’ve had a more diverse career path than most but even I have to eventually start researching other jobs, and other lifestyles to keep my books from becoming the same old, same old. People watching is another way for an author to get ideas to make their characters different and fresh. Keeping_front Cover_5.22.18People watching while waiting for a flight at the airport or in line at a grocery store is a great way to get ideas about how different people behave under different circumstances. Just watch the reactions when a flight is seriously delayed or canceled! So, while I might not be outraged and blame the agent at the desk others do and the way they treat the agent says a lot about what kind of person they are. Maybe an author has never been a parent, but seeing a distraught mother trying to cope with an overtired or spoiled toddler that was told no in a grocery store can give that non-parent author an education they personally haven’t had. An author can use this kind of secondary experience to add color and variety to the people in their books.

NQ: Do you have any unpublished or half-finished books? Do you think that you’ll revisit them and see them in print someday or are they totally off the board for you? I have two that I really should burn so that NO ONE ever sees them because they are so bad, but I’m not sure every writer feels that way. How about you?

SKYE: The very first book that I wrote, back when I was devouring Georgette Heyer, was a Regency Romance. It was written on yellow lined paper in pencil (long before we all had computers on our desks) and those old pages still reside in a file at the very back of my drawer, but will likely never see the light of day again. I have a feeling I would be appalled at how back it really was if I ever got it out. But I do have a couple other books that deserve to at least be read and considered for revision and publishing. I know a lot more about what makes a good novel now than when I began and some of the ideas/plots I had were good and just need to be brought up to speed.

NQ: On average, how long does it take you to write a book? Do you write every day and if so, how do you write? For a certain amount of time or words or pages?

SKYE: That’s an interesting question. I am always working on a book at some level, nearly every day. Even when I’m technically on vacation, a book idea might be rattling around in my head and I’m mulling over how to pull it together. My MacBook goes everywhere with me, even when those trips are only a week long to visit kids for the holidays. Sometimes I actually don’t work on the book on the computer, but the project is always on my mind. When I’m home I work on my writing every day. Researching a new book, background for one underway or actually writing, revising or editing. Once the fire is lit and I start a new book, I can finish the rough draft in anywhere between 30 and 60 days, but then the revising and editing begins. When I first started writing I wrote an entire 100,000-word book in 30 days that I thought was “done.” Now I know better. I might still get the rough draft done in 30 days, but there are always a ton of holes to fix, impossible stuff to get rid of, sagging middles to shore up and often whole new chapters to write.

NQ: I’m sure readers can get your books wherever books are sold, right? Can they find them in any of the local stores? If so, which ones? And where can readers find out more about you – maybe sign up for a newsletter or blog so they can keep up with you?

SKYE: I’ve had books in local bookstores, occasionally even in Barnes & Noble, but mostly they need to be ordered online or have a local bookstore order print versions for you. I donate copies of my books to my local library so they should be available there as well.

I have a website:  www.Skye-writer.com where you can check out all my published novels as well as a series of non-fiction essays I wrote about my experience in the Peace Corps (2002-2004) that were originally published in my local newspaper while I was serving. You can also contact me via email on my website or sign up for my newsletter. I have a blog on my website where I write about writing and other things in my life – and I have a page where I review books I’ve enjoyed by other authors.

NQ: Thanks so much again, for being here with us today. And thanks for great books, too!

SKYE: It’s been a pleasure – and a lot of fun. Thank you for inviting me.

 

 

 

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