Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, February 21 & 22, 2013

Quite a variety of Great Stuff today, from IndieReCon and elsewhere. Practical, thought-provoking, and even fun. All just a little bit down your screen. Enjoy!

ANNOUNCEMENT

One week to go before big changes—I mean, BIG changes—come to Great Stuff. The biggest changes will be a new location and a new look. For those of you who are following the blog by RSS subscription, I’m afraid that’s also going to mean a change for you, as you’ll have to resubscribe. Sorry! I don’t know how to transfer your subscriptions! (If you know how, please let me know. I’d love to make this a totally seamless process for you.) What won’t change is the frequency and the quality of the content. I truly appreciate every one of you who reads this blog and hope you’ll stay along for the ride on the new horse. Watch for more details in Monday’s and Wednesday’s posts.

FROM IndieReCon

IndieReCon finished yesterday and to be honest, my brain is more than full—it’s trying to explode. Fortunately, all the posts that were such a big part of the Con have been archived and will be available for at least a while, so one of the best things you can do is stop by the web site and browse. I have NOT mentioned every post that the contributing authors put up, so I may well have skipped the one that you were looking for.

Ali Cross’s (@ali_cross) Building an Author Brand is a long post but full of practical advice and examples.

Joel Friedlander (@JFBookman) lists 12 Steps to Blog Tour Success. Simple to list but they’ll take effort and focus to do well. Nothing new there, right? Kind of like writing.

There’s a whole ‘nother day of IndieReCon to cover but it’ll have to wait. I need to get this post out! So I’ll finish for now with Bookshelf Muses Angela Ackerman (@AngelaAckerman) and Becca Puglisi (@beccapuglisi) on Creative Book Launches That Command Attention. “Creative” and “Command” might not seem to go together, but they do if you think of command as “excite.”

CRAFT

In addition to being a contributor to Writer Unboxed, Ray Rhamey “flogs” (critiques) writers’ submissions on his blog—at their request! So for Flog a Pro: Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks, Ray decided to take a look at the opening page of a successful, multi-published author’s latest book, with this question in mind: “does the first page compel me to turn the page?” [boldface and italics his] Take a look. You can even answer the question yourself in an in-post poll. (I had my answer before the end of the second sentence. What was yours?)

BUSINESS

Nathan Bransford (@NathanBransford) reports that Amazon has applied for a patent on a technology that would let people sell “used” ebooks (through them, of course). This has some authors up in arms, others wondering whether this is really going to happen (seriously? they’re wondering?), and Bransford himself (a former literary agent) wondering if there is such a thing as  “used” ebook (hearkening back to the model of physical book that can show signs of wear). Then there are people like Cory Doctorow and Joe Konrath who would wonder what the fuss is about because, they claim, free and/or DRM-free (not-copy-protected) books generate sales of the same work and others by the same author. The full story is in Should Consumers Be Able to Buy and Sell Used E-books? What do you think?

Scammers seem to be everywhere. The latest from Victoria Strauss (@victoriastrauss) on Writer Beware® Blogs is Close-up TV News/Close-up Talk Radio. For a mere $5,000 contribution, you—yes, you!—can be part of a “huge” radio promotion! Uh, yeah, right.

As mentioned last time, Joel Friedlander (@JFBookman) has developed templates for MS Word that you can use to properly format your ebook or print book. Now that the effort has launched, he’s doing his promotion tour, which includes a summary and video interview with Joanna Penn and on his own site, plus at a new, purpose-built web site, BookDesignTemplates.com. DISCLAIMER: I am NOT endorsing (or anti-endorsing) what Joel has done, merely telling you about it. I’m actually a little surprised it’s taken so long for somebody to do this. Whether any of these templates strike your fancy, whether you think the prices are acceptable, even whether you want to try to learn how to use one of these templates is entirely up to you.

THE WRITING LIFE

British poet (and recovering lawyer) Musa Okwonga (@Okwonga) says, “When you’re terrified in making a creative choice, that’s when [you’re] closest to getting it absolutely right.” Check out his short video on Kelly Russell Agodon’s Book of Kells blog.

FUN

You’d think a writing advice piece would go up in the Craft section, but when the title is What My Cat Has Taught Me About Writing, you just know it has to come down here. And I don’t even own a cat, claim to own a cat, admit to being owned by one, or even share the house with one (or more). No matter, for a smile and an understanding nod or two (or ten), check out Jordan Dane’s (@JordanDane) Kill Zone post.

Only we word geeks would consider Why the Plural of “Die” Is “Dice,” not “Douse” by Neal Whitman (@LiteralMinded) by way of Mignon Fogarty’s (@GrammarGirl) Grammar Girl blog to be fun. Whitman also explains why “wicked” (as in bad) is pronounced “wikid” and not “wict,” why “buck naked” is transforming into “butt naked,” and why these quirks of the language tell us about how it came to be what it is today.

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Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, November 20 & 21, 2012

Something happened yesterday (Tuesday) that has never happened since I started doing this blog back in May: nothing jumped out at me and made me say, “Wow!” Or, “That’s great!” Or even, “That’s good enough to share.” Well, it had to happen eventually.

BUT! Today we’re back on track, and there’s some pretty terrific stuff to share, for which, on the eve of Thanksgiving Day here in the U.S., I’m thankful. Off we go, then.

CRAFT

Let’s start once again with KM Weiland (@KMWeiland) the value of preparation. And that would be: Preparation is Worth a Pound of Proofreading. This is a lesson I’ve learned for sure, having removed, oh, probably 500 pages from a 380 page manuscript. Yikes! And it’s why I’m doing LOTS of prep work as I start on WIP #2. Anyway, Katie makes the case for outlining, even though (gasp!) she admits didn’t for her about-to-release novel.

So, you’ve done your preparation work and now the writing’s underway. Or maybe it’s done. And you or one of your readers says, “It’s slow here.” What’s happened? Editor Laura Carlson says it’s lost momentum. So what can you do to go about Increasing Your Book’s Momentum? Carlson suggests the following on The Bookshelf Muse: especially at the beginning, limit the long-winded interior or exterior monologues, trim the descriptions, and can the boring scenes. Replace them with exciting scenes and snappy dialogue. Easier said than done, maybe, but read on.

John Vorhaus (@TrueFactBarFact) reveals one of his secrets (well, several, actually) to successful writing on Writer Unboxed: Procrastinate Later! That’s right, put off putting things off! You can do that later. That’s a great twist on an old problem. John’s other secrets—don’t worry about writing the best story, give your characters a clear call to action then never have things go as planned, see what happens next, and, outside of the story itself, share what you’ve learned with others—are all excellent, too. (By the way, I haven’t listed all of them. Even if I had, you’d want to read the post for yourself, anyway.)

BUSINESS

Just one business post: Janalyn Voigt’s (@JanalynVoigt) What Is Branding Anyway? (7 Reasons Why You Care) on WordServe Water Cooler. “Branding” isn’t something nasty—or doesn’t have to be. It’s about connecting with your readers. Janalyn’s 7 reasons should make the whole idea less painful, if not painless.

FUN

And finally, Robert Bruce (@robertbruce76) is Giving Literary Thanks on 101 Books. Some of his thanks actually are serious, some are fun, and there’s one I’ll echo here: thanks for all of you who read this blog, whether you comment or Like it or not. I know you’re out there, I know you’re reading, and I’m grateful.

If you’re in the U.S., have a great Thanksgiving. If you’re not, feel free to give thanks for the good things and great people in your life anyway. There doesn’t have to be a dedicated day for that. I’ll “see” you again on Friday.