Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, February 12 & 13, 2013

Hope you’re not a triskaidekaphobe! Today’s double-13 day, and tells you it is: 2-13-13, or 13-2-13, if you prefer. Thirteen what to thirteen? Which reminds me of Albert the Alligator, a character from the old Pogo comic strip, for whom the 13th day of the month was always Friday the Thirteenth, even if it was a Wednesday.

What does that have to do with today’s post? Not a darn thing, as far as I can tell. In fact, you’re double-lucky to be finding out about today’s Great Stuff. Read on!

CRAFT

Here’s some really practical advice that we can all use: Writing Gender-Specific Dialogue from the Writer’s Digest There Are No Rules blog. Excerpted from a book by romance writer Leigh Michaels (@leighmichaels), the piece gives advice to women on how men think and act, and hence speak, and vice versa for men writing female characters. For example, women know and notice which colors go together and which don’t, while men generally don’t notice or care. That reminded me of a woman in my writer’s group who had a (straight) male character noticing that a woman’s eyes matched the color of her uniform. Um, sorry, no. We ad-dress-ed that. 😉 Have you run into this kind of thing? How did you address it?

Some writers like to have music playing in the background when they’re writing. Not me, it’s too distracting. But if you’re like Ann Aguirre (@MsAnnAguirre) and Let Music Set the Mood when you’re writing, you’ll definitely get her piece on Writer Unboxed today. But even if you’re not a writer/listener, there’s something for you here: a song may not set your mood, but it can set the story’s mood or reveal something about a character. In my first novel, one of my characters is a fan of rock music from the ‘60s to ‘80s and snippets from those songs will pop into her head from time to time, usually at high-stress moments. It tells you something about her and adds a new dimension to the scene. Do you do anything like this?

You might not expect to find advice on story-telling on ProBlogger, but that’s what Gregory Ciotti (@HelpScout) offers in The Science of Storytelling: 6 Ways to Write More Persuasive Stories. The piece is based on research by Dr. Philip Mazzocco and Melanie Green having to do with court arguments, but their six keys apply in fiction too. They are: audience, realism, delivery, imagery, structure, and context. Space doesn’t permit me to discuss them here, but slide on over and check out the article.

BUSINESS

So, we’ve all heard that the job’s not over when the writing’s done when it comes to books, right? Sure, but what exactly does that mean? Enter Boyd Morrison’s (@boydmorrison) What to Expect When You’re Expecting…to be Published,  a list of 31—that’s right, 31—things that you’ll do after you get that magical phone call saying your book has been accepted for traditional publication. Indie publishers: think the list doesn’t apply to you? Wrong-o, Kindle breath! Of course, some steps won’t, at least as written. But many will in one form or another, and often they’re entirely on you to do, rather than in response to a request from the publisher. A real reality check here.

Joel Friedlander (@JFBookman) has published many articles on e- and print book design, so Book Design Quick Tips for Self-Publishers doesn’t have anything really new, except for a hint at the end about something he’s going to be launching soon—a book layout service, maybe? But this pretty long but useful post lays out the basics in simple terms. This stuff isn’t cosmic or über-technical and you shouldn’t fear it. Take the time to study and absorb it and you’ll be ahead of the game.

Nancy J. Cohen (@nancyjcohen) is releasing a new novel and using the free option on KDP Select for a few days. More important for other writers planning to self-publish is the other information on where and how to get publicity and reviews she offers in the FREE on Kindle post. If this is something to do, check out the post.

Looking into what the future might hold for Nancy, J A Konrath (@JAKonrath) discusses his recent experiences with having some of his books sold via KDP Select in his post Amazon Numbers. Three lessons to learn: (1) despite what he says, being a “name” in the business helps. It’s not required but your sales numbers will be better when you’re known than when you’re still an unknown. (2) Giving the book away for free boosts for-cash sales. I’m reading Cory Doctorow’s The Problem Is Obscurity right now, and he makes the same point. (Beats you over the head with it, actually.) (3) The more titles you have for sale, the better. Konrath closes this long post with two other discussions. He doesn’t like Amazon’s demand for exclusive sales fights for 90 days if you sign up for KDP Select (no one but Amazon seems to), and self-publishing gives you control over your work, which is a good thing.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Writing advice from @NathanBransford in <141 characters. It’s better than you might expect. (27 characters left.)

THE WRITING LIFE

I could have put Keith Cronin’s (@KeithCronin) Write Like You Mean It up in the Craft section, but since it’s really about attitude—making the effort to make anything you write a piece of quality writing—it fits better here. Keith’s piece is pretty long but he uses that length to approach the basic thesis—if you want to be considered a professional writer, write like one whenever you write, even on Twitter or Facebook—from a variety of different angles with the intent that if one doesn’t resonate with you, another one will. What do you think? Is this your approach?

Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, October 13-15, 2012

YIKES! Where has the day gone? Well, that’s what happens when you drive 45 minutes one way for a 30 minute radio interview—and lunch with writer friends first, of course. Oh, and there were errands to run, too. Of course.

But that’s not getting this post written! It’s been a value-packed weekend and Monday, so let’s get to the Great Stuff, shall we?

CRAFT

Harvey Stanbrough (@h_stanbrough) reprises a July piece containing his Top 10 Steps to Proofreading Your Own Work. Ones I hadn’t heard before: check long words for omitted vowels; check words for omitted suffixes like –ed and –s; know which words have double vowels and which don’t. And my #1 all-time this is really important one: read your work out loud.

NaNoWriMo

Didn’t I tell you there’d be lots of articles leading up to the National Novel Writing Month, a.k.a. NaNoWriMo? Here are two more:

James Scott Bell (@jamesscottbell) offers his suggestions for How to Write a Novel in a Month on The Kill Zone. He (of course) suggests starting with a week of planning using his LOCK method: Lead (who is it?), Objective (what is it?), Confrontation (the antagonist), Knock-Out Ending (you want one). The ending may change—probably will—but having one to work toward is vital to getting started, even if you’re a “pantser.”

Meanwhile, over at Writer Unboxed, Martha Alderson (@plotwhisperer) advises you to Pre-Plot for NaNoWriMo. With a Twitter handle like hers and books like The Plot Whisperer already published, this is no surprise, but her take is to lay out the plot week by week: character introduction and story start in week 1 (or The End of the Beginning), character explores the exotic world of the middle of the book in week 2 (the Recommitment), character faces major challenges in week 3(the Crisis), big finish in week 4 (the Climax).

SOCIAL MEDIA

We’ll head off to the business side of the business with another stop at Writer Unboxed, where Nina Badzin (@NinaBadzin) begins a monthly series on simplifying Twitter. Episode 1: Be a Person, Not a Brand. Her 3 quick tips: have a picture of your face as your avatar; write an inviting, writer-oriented but still human, bio; NO automatic messages! Pop on over to get the details.

BUSINESS

Today’s business posts all have to do with attitude and expectations.

Rachelle Gardner (@RachelleGardner) leads off with Big Dreams vs. Realistic Expectations. She notes the contradictory advice writers get: on the one hand to dream big, on the other to keep their expectations realistic. Her take on this is to be persistent about pursuing those dreams but to manage and control your negative emotions when things don’t go well—which they will at times. Managing your emotions, Rachelle suggests, is the way to keeping your train on its tracks and headed toward your dream destination.

So, how do you deal with that negative emotion of self-doubt? Jon Bard (@CBIClubhouse) offers 5 Ways for Writers to Blast Through Self-Doubt. There’s #3: The Pimple Rule—don’t worry about what other people think of yours; everyone else is worried about theirs. And #2: Ignore the Haters. Check out all 5.

OK, so the book’s done, it’s about to be published. It’s time for you big book launch. Are you ready? Are you planning to do things that sound great—but aren’t? Publicist MJ Rose lists on Buzz, Balls & Hype 11 Things Not to Do Before Your Book Launch. Like: don’t assume people are going to just rush out and buy a book they’ve never heard of, or don’t spend more than 10% of your marketing/PR budget on a trailer. How does she know not to do these things? Because she’s done them all. If you’re getting close to launch time, be sure to check out this post.

This week we welcome Dean Wesley Smith (@DeanWesleySmith), best-selling author and husband of Kristine Kathryn Rusch to the Great Stuff fold with his post The New World of Publishing: Maybe You Wrote a Good Book. Really! Maybe you did. But if you did, you probably got there with an attitude of being hungry to learn the craft and become a better storyteller. But the only way to know for sure is to put your work out there, learn, if possible, from the rejections, and KEEP WRITING.

But what if your book isn’t selling. Joanna Penn (@thecreativepenn) lists 10 Questions You Need to Answer Honestly if You Want to Sell More Books. A lot of the questions and answers in this long post seem like they should be obvious—has you book been professionally edited, has it been submitted to the right e-book store categories—but others, and the answers to all, are worth the time and study.

Whew! That’s a lot of Great Stuff. What Great Stuff have you found? Share it in the comments.