Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, February 7 & 8, 2013

Today’s post has to be one of the most value-packed I’ve had in quite a while, and that’s saying something. And for those of you in parts of the US who are bracing for some really rough weather this weekend, maybe this stuff will be what you need to carry you through—so long as you have electricity and the internet, anyway. Enjoy!

CRAFT

Jordan Dane (@JordanDane) is about to bring out the first book in a YA fantasy trilogy that is driven by, among other things, a love triangle. Because the story focuses on relationships, her 5 Key Steps to Adding Depth to Your Fictional Relationships post on The Kill Zone is worth a look, even if you have to get through the biographies of the characters first. The steps can be summarized this way: give the characters both internal-internal conflicts and internal-external conflicts to deal with.

Now this is ironic (and a little creepy): a post on The Kill Zone (above) about a love triangle and relationships, and a guest post by retired homicide detective Garry Rodgers (@GarryRodgers1) on The Creative Penn on How To Get Away With Murder—or fail to get away! All in the service of writing stories, of course, but still…. So if you’re interested—for art’s sake!—take a look. If you dare.

Denise Jaden (@denisejaden) covers a subject that I’ve rarely seen discussed: Writing Effective Grief in Fiction. It’s so easy for writers, especially new ones, to take a character’s grief and turn it into melodrama, and in so doing, drive the reader away. Jaden’s five practical tips for how to make that character’s emotions real, compelling, and yet not overwhelming (for the reader) will be valuable for anyone who’s writing about characters in fiction or memoir who are dealing with loss.

Let’s finish up this section with a terrific post by C. S. Lakin (@cslakin) on KM Weiland’s WORDplay blog: The Secret to Show, Don’t Tell. Everyone wants to know that, right? Okay, so I’ll spill the beans right now: every scene needs a “high moment,” the instant where the point of the scene (which every scene must have) is made. It can be big or subtle, but everything else in the scene builds toward that point and that moment and the movie camera of your writing is what follows the characters and the action to them. Take the reader on that journey to that moment and you can’t help but “show.”

BUSINESS

When Kristine Kathryn Rusch (@kriswrites) titles a piece What Writers Need to Know, you can bet that, well, it’s time to get another cuppa before you start to read it. Let me see if I can catch the basics here.

  • Whether you’re traditionally published or indie, you need to know a lot about writing, publishing, managing a business, design… and a lot more.
  • You’ll never know everything there is to know and you may not ever know much of it really well.
  • If you’re not continually learning more, you’re falling farther and farther behind. That said, don’t try to learn something all at once. Work on each topic in bite-size chunks.
  • Writing well is still your first and foremost obligation but your chances of having a sustained successful writing career are minimal at best if that’s all you learn and know.

This long as usual post rambles a bit—you can safely skip down to the first list and skim after it—but if you want a career, this is advice worth reviewing.

Along these same lines, Joe Konrath (@jakonrath) calls his latest post How To Sell Ebooks. Can’t get much clearer than that. The thing is—and this should be no surprise—there’s no silver bullet or secret password but instead ten different areas we each need to address in order to have a shot at success. Why should we listen to Konrath? Because he’s now sold over a million copies of his books.

It’s certainly not every day that I point you to a piece from Science News magazine, but today’s online post by Rachel Ehrenberg (@REhrenberg) is appropriate. Even though In Hollywood, buzz beats star power when it comes to predicting box office take is about movies and popular music, it tells how scientists have demonstrated that the most successful ones earn their success not from who the performers are but how much the work is being talked about after, but especially before, it is released, and how widespread the buzz is. This is what the marketing experts I occasionally cite here say about books, too: build your platform before you publish.

Rachelle Gardner’s (@RachelleGardner) answer to the question Are Self-Pub Books the New Slush Pile? is a qualified no. Her five reasons have mostly to do with marketing considerations; in fact she doesn’t say a word about the slushy quality of many self-pubbed books. That’s refreshing. It’s refreshing, too, that she’s open to the possibility that self-pub books could become more important over time. (Well, they already are.)

FUN

Yeah, after all that heavy information, a little fun is what we need to close off the day and head for the weekend, and you’ll find it here, in Carol Barnier’s (@Carol_Barnier) Pet Peeves and Grace on WordServe Water Cooler. You can guess what the “pet peeves” part is all about, but will you be byoosgusted by it? Actually, I think you will. :)

What was your favorite article today? Or the one that helped you most?

Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, January 22 & 23, 2013

 

What do you know? A Great Stuff post without anything on craft! But that’s OK, there’s still Great Stuff out there: a convenient submission tracking form, yet another way to connect using social media and other ways to get support, acting like a writer, and a post like nothing you’ve ever seen—at least not recently.

BUSINESS

A couple weeks ago, Gabriela Pereira (@DIYMFA) published a post called Navigating the Guest Post Process on DIY MFA, which included a PDF guest post submission log form. Today she announced on Twitter a new and improved version that you can fill out using Adobe Reader. (Full disclosure: Gabriela designed the form, I suggested and created the capability to fill it in with Reader. Thanks for letting me contribute, Gabriela!) The form is good for other submissions besides guest posts, too: opinion pieces, even full-scale non-fiction articles for print or online publication. You can find the form by clicking on the link above or get it directly here.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Google+ continues to come up with its own takes on things other social media sites are already doing. Now Joel Friedlander (@JFBookman) introduces us to the latest with Google+ Communities Create New Networks for Authors and Publishers. I won’t make any snarky comments about this being another way to spend time we should be spending writing: we know that already. What jumped out at me was this: there are four general types of groups: public, public moderated, private, and private hidden. That’s fine. But once the community’s been created, you can’t change the type, from public moderated to private, say? Really? If Joel’s not wrong, Google certainly is. That’s poor design.

THE WRITING LIFE

No doubt Becca Puglisi (@beccapuglisi) chose the title Got Any Wise People in Your Village? Or Just Idiots? with the intention of getting our attention. And she succeeded. But the village she’s referring to is the group of writing-related people around us—the people who should be our support group. Are they wise or, um, not so helpful? Her key points are: (1) you need them; (2) you decide who to keep close and who not to.

Having that village around you will only help so much, however, if you’re not willing to help yourself. Carleen Brice (@carleenbrice) answers the question Can Acting As If You’re a Writer Make You a Writer? with a qualified yes. Yes if you use acting-as-if to get started or keep yourself motivated to keep going. There’s even scientific evidence now to show this works. But it’s the doing that matters in the end, not the pretending.

FUN

Oh, man, this is just too much fun to pass up. John Vorhaus’s (@TrueFactBarFact) Simile Fever Spreads Like Wildfire on Writer Unboxed is more fun than a barrel of monkeys. Good thing you’re done with this post. You can stop what you’re doing an go read it—now!—without guilt.

Then share the laughs with all your writer friends.

Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, December 11 & 12, 2012

Better than a Baker’s Dozen, today is triple-dozen day: 12-12-12! Like a triple-dip, only less fattening. And then there are those two, one-second periods at 12 seconds after 12 minutes after 12 o’clock (local time) when you get a half-dozen dozens: 12:12:12 on 12-12-12. But—gasp!—you’ve missed one already! Maybe both! Still, twice in one day means a dozen dozens! Is that cool, or what? (Okay, okay, maybe it’s “what.”) Anyway….

CRAFT

I haven’t put much up on this blog about blogging itself, but Joel Friedlander’s (@jfbookman) How to Create an Endless Stream of Blog Post Ideas is one worth sharing, not only because it is valuable to bloggers but also to folks writing non-fiction articles. I can see how it could be extended to a whole bunch of short stories or even poems. The post centers around the concept of mind-mapping, a way of generating connected sets of ideas or concepts: start with one, generate ideas/concepts related to it, then generate more related to each of those, and so on, kind of a four-dimensional onion. Okay, maybe that last phrase makes it sound scary and complex; it’s not. If you’re scuffling for ideas at the moment, give this post a look.

Okay, so there’s a market for stories like Dumb and Dumber, but it’s a small market, which is why KM Weiland (@KMWeiland) discusses Why Stupid Characters Make for Stupid Stories, and not the good kind. If you want your story to reach beyond that demographic that likes characters who do dumb things over and over, this is a quick post for you.

BUSINESS

BIG NEWS from Angela Ackerman (@AngelaAckerman) at The Bookshelf Muse. In February, a group of indie writers will be hosting the first-ever INDIE ReCon (INDEpendent publishing REvolution CONvention), a FREE, on-line, three-day event. According to the INDIE ReCon web site, this convention will feature eight hours’ worth of presentations each day, with new topics beginning every hour or even half hour. There’s an initial list of topics on the Con’s schedule page. The organizers have already lined up half a dozen partner organizations and a LONG list of presenters (41 as of yesterday!), including Muses Angela and Becca, Orna Ross, book designer Joel Friedlander, and Joanna (The Creative) Penn. The only down-sides I see to this event are that the dates are February 12-14, 2013, a Tuesday through Thursday, and yes, that last day is Valentine’s Day. No times have been posted yet, but this is an event to watch, I think—in more ways than one!

WHAT???? Social media is NOT necessary for self-publishing success??? Heresy! Blasphemy! Or is it? Ernie J. Zelinski makes a case for not using social media to market books in Creativity Trumps Following the Rules on Robert Lee Brewer’s My Name Is Not Bob blog, and he’s been successful at doing it his way. Zelinski’s tone and content have created some contention in the comments, as any strongly-held opinion will. My own take is that we should each do what works for us. Don’t like social media? Don’t use them. Willing to give them a shot? Go for it but don’t expect them to be panaceas. Any path you choose is going to be challenging and a lot of work. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer.

Speaking of different paths, Judy L. Mandel’s (@judymandel) guest post on Jane Friedman’s blog, about her success at Getting a Traditional Book Deal After Self-Publishing illustrates one—that took years to follow by the way.

Agent Rachelle Gardner (@RachelleGardner) covers one of the basics of the traditional publishing path when she addresses Why You Should Pitch a Single Book on her blog. Space doesn’t permit me to reprise her six reasons but the fact that she’s got six suggests it’s good to read and heed what she has to say.

OPINION

A new heading today. I don’t plan to use it often. Today’s question: are the days of the dedicated e-reader numbered?

I don’t own an e-reader, not because I’m some kind of Luddite (would I be writing a blog if I was?) but because I see technology trends heading in the direction of making dedicated e-readers obsolete. Soon.

Want proof? Head on over to any Amazon.com e-book page. Want to buy the book but you don’t own a Kindle? Check out the subtle little box titled “Try it free” over in the right-hand sidebar. Notice that little bit of boldfaced text, “Deliver to your Kindle or other device,” especially those last three words? And that hyperlink just below it: Available on your PC.

If you click on that link, you’ll be taken to a page from which you can download FREE Kindle emulator software for your PC, and there’s another page from which you can access other free Kindle reading apps for reading Kindle-format e-books from the cloud, smartphones, tablets, and Macs.

So why buy a Kindle? Or a Nook? Barnes & Noble has similar apps available here. Given what smartphones and tablet computers can do today—so much more than just present and edit text and pictures—to say nothing of what they’ll be capable of two years from now, it seems to me the dedicated e-reader is an electronic dodo bird walking. It just doesn’t know it’s extinct yet.

Is this a smart, dumb, or just natural move on the parts of Amazon and B&N? Natural, I think: just going where the technology’s going. The eventual death of the dedicated e-reader is an evolutionary process, nothing more, and the companies understand that. Your dedicated e-reader won’t become another piece of e-waste for a long time, but one day I’ll bet you’ll wonder why you still have it.

FUN

Kathryn Lilley (@kathrynelilley) of The Kill Zone has a writer-friend who’s afraid of animals, especially the wild kind. And yet, when the moment came, she had the presence of mind needed for Grabbing the Zebra, and Other Survival Tactics for Writers. What’s this all about? Go check out the post.

Keith Cronin’s (@KeithCronin) 10 New Year’s Resolutions for Writers is long and serious but also fun, as Keith’s wit peeks through repeatedly. And while I’m not a resolution-maker myself, his are all good ones for any time of the year, especially long after New Year’s week, when the pressure’s off.

Thanks for all the comments and tweets in response to Monday’s post. I appreciate all of them and will actually respond to them soon. Promise!

Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, October 25-27, 2012

Apologies for missing you yesterday: 3 hours on the road for a 2 hour meeting will chew up a big portion of a day. So we’ll catch up with a 3-day post today and Monday’s will cover just what’s left of today plus Sunday and early Monday.

Interestingly, the best posts of the last few days have either been about the business of writing, or just plain fun pieces. Nice contrast. Let’s get the work done first.

BUSINESS

We’ve all heard about (pun fully intended) audio books—they’ve been around a long time. Jordan Dane (@JordanDane) writes about her experiences in Self-Publishing in AUDIO on The Kill Zone. She worked with an organization called Audiobook Creation Exchange, so other sites and companies will be somewhat different. For Your Information.

James Watkins (@jameswatkinscom) provides seven reminders/warnings to follow to ensure you Don’t Sabotage Your Writing/Speaking Career on WordServe Water Cooler. Many of these cautions are against having “unprofessional” e-mail addresses, business cards, web presence, social media posts, and so on. Having a bad reputation is, of course, bad. And so is having taken advantage of “free” publishing opportunities in ways that brand you still an amateur. Remember: writing is, at the end of the day, a business.

Along that desperate-amateur line of thinking, Victoria Strauss (@VictoriaStrauss) has put up a couple posts on Writer Beware ® Blogs warning of Two More High-Entry Fee Book Awards and a dodgy America’s Next Author Contest. Strauss goes into detail on why each of these programs are ones you should stay away from. Far away. Desperation to be published is one of the worst reasons to give up your rights as an author. Don’t.

In that same vein, Kristine Kathryn Rusch (@kriswrites) discusses Rights Reversion in her weekly Business Rusch column. What is “rights reversion?” It’s getting back certain of the publication rights (part of your overall set of copyrights) from a publisher after a certain period of time has elapsed or certain conditions have been met. In this very long post, Kris discusses how publishers can play games with authors to keep rights from reverting, and how authors can unwisely sign away any chance of having the publication rights to a given work ever come back to them. This post IS long, but if you don’t read any other one, read this one.

Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) writes a long post discussing the question Do Publishers Need to Offer More Value to Authors? The key word here is “need” and the underlying question is who has the need. To summarize the piece, Jane says that while authors would like publishers, particularly the “Big 6” publishers, to provide more author-centered service, publishers do not yet see the need to do that, and until they do—and she believes they never will—they won’t. Depressing? Maybe. A case for more and more self- and e-publishing? Probably.

OK, enough depressing stuff. Let’s have some

FUN

Could you write your own memoir in just six words? That’s Rachelle Gardner’s (@RachelleGardner) challenge to her readers in Too Much Coffee? No Such Thing, which, by the way, is hers.

Bad reviews are depressing, right? But what about, in the scope of history, they also turn out to be wrong—really wrong? Enter Robert Bruce (@robertbruce76) of 101 Books, excerpting some such reviews from a longer list on Flavor Wire, in “Mr. Scott Fitzgerald deserves a good shaking.” It’s interesting to note how many of these reviews come from the New York “Literary” circles. Guaranteed to raise a smile.

And finally, John Vorhaus (@TrueFactBarFact) complains about (with tongue planted firmly in cheek—I think), then engages in Verbing the Nouns on Writer Unboxed. This is all about playing with words to create our unique writer’s voice, and while it’s laugh-out-loud funny, there’s also a serious point to it. (I know, I know: how disappointing. J)

What Great Stuff have you discovered? Let us know in the Comments.

Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, September 27 and 28, 2012

I have just a few pieces for you today, so let’s get right to them.

CRAFT

Ken Myers guest posts on KM Weiland’s (@KMWeiland) WORDplay blog about the 5 Characters Every Writer Needs to Master. The first couple are no surprise—the protagonist and antagonist—but the other three might be, depending on genre: the comic relief, the sage, and the love interest. A wise old sage in a thriller? Could be. Check out the post to see how.

BUSINESS

The title of Dan Blank’s (@DanBlank) Writer Unboxed post, Buy My Book! Buy My Book! Buy My Book! (the value or repetition), might seem to be a huge turn-off, but that’s exactly what he addresses: how to productively use repetition in marketing your book, especially on social media, without coming across as desperate or a total sleazeball. I picked up an idea I’m going to start using today.

On less happy news, Victoria Strauss (@victoriastrauss) announces on Writer Beware® Blogs: Class Action Lawsuit Against PublishAmerica Dismissed. While I have to agree with her that the suit was perhaps not well designed in the first place and that the plaintiffs and their law firm may have given up too soon in the second, the fundamental point is that the authors who joined the class action—let’s be honest here—should have known better than to sign with PA or should have been more business-savvy.

Ugh. Enough bad news. Let’s end with something

FUN

John Vorhaus’ (@TrueFactBarFact) Writer Unboxed post My Grandfather’s Syntax is pure fun. Malapropisms and mixed metaphors galore. If you’re not at least smiling, if not laughing out loud, by the end of this, well, what can make you smile?

Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, September 14-24 bonus edition

As they say on TV, we’re back, and time to finish getting caught up with the great stuff that came out during my 10 day hiatus. Let’s start to finish with a few more posts on

CRAFT

Adverbs. We’re told they’re almost entirely unnecessary, the nearly useless crutches of the totally hack writer who’s completely unable to come up with exactly the right word. And yet…KM Weiland (@KMWeiland) has a couple different takes on adverbs.

  • The first take, Why the Adverb Isn’t as Dead as Mark Twain Would Like discusses just that. But just for fun (and I’d like to think this was intentional on her part) see how many adverbs you can find in the transcript or catch in the video. Sometimes, indeed, a writer uses adverbs, um, purposefully.
  • And to make just that point, Neil Abbott (@NeilAbbott) writes a counterpoint post on WORDplay that tells you how to Use Adverbs to Create Music for Your Readers’ Ears. What??? Music? Sure, Abbott says. Pick an adverb for its sound or its symbolism. Either use adds something to the work. Then he offers this excellent test for whether an adverb is needed or not, taught him by his first creative writing professor: “How can (some antecedent [the verb]) be (its modifier [the adverb])?” If you can’t answer the question, delete the modifier.

Peter Salomon (@petersalomon) has an interesting post on The Bookshelf Muse in which he describes for the new author what to do after the first draft is done. His key: Attitude Is Everything. Attitude? About what? Well, lots of things but especially about the process of revision. A first draft is just that–the FIRST of many DRAFTS, not the final product. So, Salomon says, learning to love the revision process, after letting the draft sit for a while, is going to be the key to getting to a quality final.

Finally for this section is a thought-provoking piece by Lisa Cron (@LisaCron) on what she considers The Biggest Mistake Writers Make and How to Avoid It. The biggest mistake, eh? What might that be? According to Cron, it’s not know what a story is. Gee, you’d think that would be pretty obvious, and yet… Here’s Cron’s definition: “A story is how what happens (the plot) affects someone (the protagonist) in pursuit of a difficult goal (the story question) and how he or she changes as a result (which is what the story is actually about).” (Italics hers.) “In other words,” she goes on, “story is internal, not external.” Note that she doesn’t say “literary stories,” but “story.” Any story, no matter what genre.

Right, then. Let’s move on to

BUSINESS

New Kill Zone contributor Boyd Morrison (@BoydMorrison) writes about The Movie Deal, what it takes to actually come to fruition, and what it may mean–or not–to the author if it does. A nice little reality check.

Now we’ll jump to a set of posts on

web sites and social media tools:

  • Staying with Jane (@JaneFriedman), she lists resources to help you with Building Your First Website. Note: this is a very WordPress-centric post, so if for some reason you want to use other resources, you can skip this post. But if you like what WordPress offers, this post is a rich source of information.
  • While we’re on the topic of WordPress, Pamela Wilson (@pamelaiwilson) of Big Brand System offers A Comprehensive Guide to Formatting Your WordPress Posts and Pages on Copyblogger, which I found thanks to Joel Friedlander’s (@jfbookman) The Book Designer blog. Wilson provides seven specific techniques, several of which I’m using in this very post.
  • Flitting back to Twitter, Ingrid Schneider (@Gridlocked) tells you how Hashtags can help… you make better use of this important Twitter tool. #GreatStuff!
  • Finally, for this section, Joel Friedlander introduces us to 3 More Ways Google Supercharges Your Searches. If you haven’t heard of Google’s domain search (which works only on Google’s Chrome browser, unfortunately) predictive search, and knowledge graph functions, this will be a valuable post for you.

And as I like to do, we’ll finish for today with a bit of

FUN

Jan O’Hara (@jan-ohara) and her commenters make sure you’ll Never Go Naked to Scrabble: Authorial Words Containing “WIP” on Writer Unboxed. For example: unwipped, horse-wipped, pussy-wipped (now what are you thinking???; it doesn’t, unfortunately, have anything to do with that great Saturday Night Live “product” promotion, the dessert topping for cats), wipped cream, wippersnappers, wipsawed…the list goes on…and on…and, well, what did you expect from a group of writers?

See you tomorrow with our resumed regular schedule.

Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, August 25-27, 2012

Welcome to the first full-weekend edition of Great Stuff. Of course we’ve got stuff on craft and stuff on business but we’ve also got something new–stuff on writers’ conferences–and some just-for-fun stuff. We’re well and fully stuffed!

Nothing crafty about the fact that we’ll start with craft stuff.

  • Stories, of course, start with the opening line–hey, how about that for a revelation!–and that’s where we’ll start, too, with Clare Langley-Hawthorne’s Kill Zone piece on That all important first line. There’s some debate in the comments about how important it is that the first line be great, but it should be clear that a bad opening line (á la last Friday’s Bulwer-Lytton contest winners) can be the wrong kind of killer.
  • Next, Kim Weiland (@KMWeiland) warns of 5 Ways You’re Preventing Readers from Suspending Disbelief. Experienced writers know all about (or should) avoiding the things on Kim’s hit list–incorrect facts, clichés, plot holes big enough to drive a truck through (oh, sorry), and the wrong kinds of character behaviors, but this is a good review for new writers.
  • Writers’ conferences can be a terrific asset for writers, new or experienced, but only if the potential attendee picks wisely and well. Harvey Stanbrough (@h_stanbrough) offers A Crash Course on Writers’ Conferences on his Writing the World blog.

Moving on to the business stuff, we find:

  • Victoria Strauss (@VictoriaStrauss) adds another thoughtful, rational piece to the discussion on the publishing industry with her Writer Beware post Vanity, Vanity: Turning the Label Around. Strauss calls for an end to the “vanity” versus “legacy” name-calling and distorted story-telling advocates on both sides are engaging in and refocusing on producing quality work, irrespective of how it’s published. Hear hear!
  • Porter Anderson (@Porter_Anderson) addresses one of the possible reasons for all the name-calling in his somewhat long Writer Unboxed post ‘Social’ Media: Author Ignorance. Porter’s central point is that if you’re going to speak out on the issues surrounding what’s going on in the publishing world right now, it’s wise to have the real facts, not what your own beliefs and biases tell you are the “facts.”

Enough of that serious stuff, let’s have some fun.

  • For starters, Chuck Sambuchino (@ChuckSambuchino) follows up on the Bulwer-Lytton contest with one of his own on Writer Unboxed: the “Worst Storyline Ever” Contest: Seeking Awful Plot Ideas. Instead of an awful opening line, Chuck wants to see your ideas for horrible “loglines”–those one-sentence (60 words maximum) descriptions of a story’s plot. Want to play? You’ve got until 11:59 PM Pacific time on September 3rd to submit your (maximum of 2) loglines. See the post for the rest of the rules.
  • And finally, Nathan Bransford (@NathanBransford) must have had too much time on his hands over the weekend ;) because he came up with this: The Publishing Process in GIF Form. I’m not sure I want to know where he came up with all of these animated GIF clips but, well, just take a look.

Have a great week. I’m off to a radio interview on writing in a few hours. Should be fun. (No web link, unfortunately, or I’d invite you to listen in.)

Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, August 23 & 24, 2012

A 60/40 mix of craft and marketing posts today, with a final just-for-fun piece. As usual, we’ll start with craft.

  • Kim Weiland (@KMWeiland) offers suggestions for how to Strengthen Your Writing by Listening to Pet Peeves on her WORDplay blog. Every writer, reader, agent, or editor has things they just hate in writing. While you might not agree with all of them, you can improve your writing, Kim says, if you listen to those gripes, consider them with care, and adjust your writing wherever you see the value behind the complaint. James Scott Bell (@jamesscottbell) asks Kill Zone readers to list their faves (or maybe these are their anti-favorites) on Reader Friday: Stop It!
  • Martha Alderson (a.k.a. The Plot Whisperer; @plotwhisperer) means to describe what she considers to be the Benefits of Plotting in Scenes on The Bookshelf Muse. Frankly, I’m a little torn about including this post today because, while she succeeds to an extent, I felt this post and this concept could have been much more fully developed. Still, there is value here.
  • Finally for this section, John Vorhaus (@TrueFactBarFact) reminds us that The Practice of Writing requires just that–practice–and offers 9 ways to ensure you can and will do it.

These next two posts have to do with getting your work in front of readers’ eyes.

  • Dan Blank (@danblank) asks on Writer Unboxed, Do You Know Who  Your Audience Is? No, Really: Do You? It’s a many-times-asked question, which means lots of would-be published authors haven’t got this one figured out yet. While this longer than necessary article could have benefited from some editing, it does eventually get around to the steps to take to identify who your target audience/market is.
  • With your target market identified, Michael Hyatt (@MichaelHyatt) offers his steps for How to Launch a Bestselling Book. This post is focused more on non-fiction than fiction, and Hyatt notes that what worked for him won’t necessarily work for you, but the steps are practical and specific. That’s different from saying they’ll be easy, especially for those not comfortable with the whole idea of marketing.

And finally, and just for fun, the winners (?) of this year’s Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest have been announced in Publishers Weekly. In case you’re not familiar with this contest, it’s run by the English Department of San Jose State University in California in honor (?) of Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, the British novelist and playwright who began his novel Paul Clifford with, “It was a dark and stormy night;…” You can read the full list of winners (?) in all the various categories, if you can, if you dare, here. (To his credit, EGB-L is also the creator of the terms “the pen is mightier than the sword,” “the great unwashed,” and “the almighty dollar,” although given the prolix nature of Victorian prose, one shudders to think what verbiage these phrases might have been embedded in; or if you prefer, in what verbiage these phrases might have been embedded.) Thanks (?) to Nathan Bransford (@NathanBransford) for reporting this on his blog.

Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, August 5, 2012

Another light Sunday, so before I begin, I want to thank everyone who’s decided to follow the blog over the past few weeks. I’m glad you’re here and hope you’re enjoying what we’re putting up for you. Debrah will be posting more flash fiction and we have a couple other new or returning writers who should be posting material soon, too.

Today’s two posts both have to do with money–ironic, perhaps, on a Sunday, a day that used to be one on which commerce was forbidden. In any case, both pieces are also funny.

  • We’ll start in The Kill Zone, where James Scott Bell (@jamesscottbell) interviews himself–I MEAN, K. Bennett, author of the Mallory Caine, Zombie-at-Law series–who claims Writing for Money is a Good Thing. Sure can’t argue with that. Or the point that the ending of a book doesn’t sell that book, but the next one. Or it doesn’t. Hmmm.
  • The second post is from Irish writer Catherine Ryan Howard (@cathryanhoward), writing on Catherine, Caffeinated (via Joel Friedlander’s (@JFbookman) blog), about Low E-book Pricing: The Compensation Problem. The post has to do with what the right price for an e-book is and what authors should be thinking about as they set that price. I particularly like this statement: “But the point is that the money you earn from your writing is not a question of how much you make from individual sales of your work. It’s about how much that work makes in the long run, over time.” Long-term thinking. What a concept!

That’s all for tonight. A bit over two hours to go before NASA’s Curiosity rover lands–one way or another–on Mars. Fingers crossed for a successful landing!

Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, August 4, 2012

Must be Saturday–not a lot to include today. Good thing, as I blog between the raindrops–and lightning strikes. And everything is light-hearted today.

  • Yesterday I mentioned Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s (@kriswrites) and Dean Wesley Smith’s (@deanwesleysmith) video promoting their new Fiction River anthology series. If you didn’t want to go to the Kickstarter web site, Kris has posted the video on her own site–here.
  • Joe Hartlaub wonders Which Book to Read–or Write–Next? on The Kill Zone, and introduces us to a new web site called Whichbook, which uses an interesting set of mood-related questions to help suggest books you might be interested in.
  • And finally, Kathy Ridpath Ohi (@inkyelbows) shares a few of her comic strips, titled Will Write for Chocolate, on Writer Unboxed.

That’s it. Have a great weekend.