Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, September 8-10, 2012

Whoo-ee, it’s been a busy weekend and Monday out there in writer/blogger-land. Lots to share with you, so let’s get right to it.

On the pure craft side there’s really only one post, Harvey Stanbrough’s (@h_stanbrough) To Capitalize or Not To Capitalize: That Is the Question. This is a good summary of a few of the rules regarding capitalization but then there are many more Harvey could cover, and I hope he will. If capitalization is one of your personal bugaboos, give this post a look.

There were a surprising number of posts on the writer’s life, the process of writing, writing tools, etc.

  • If you’re a Scrivener user (I’m just getting started, myself) and you intend to self-publish, then Nick Thacker’s (@nickthacker) Live Hacked post Scrivener: The Ultimate Guide to Exporting Ebooks (Kindle, ePub, etc.) may be just the thing you’re looking for. Thacker takes you step-by-step, with pictures, through the process of converting a Scrivener file into the ePub and .mobi file formats, using both Scrivener’s built-in tools and a separate program called Calibre. NOTE: this is fairly advanced stuff, so if you’re a new Scrivener user and/or aren’t sure you want to handle e-publishing on your own, just bookmark this article and save it for later. Thanks to Joel Friedlander (@JFBookman) for pointing this article out.
  • While we’re on the topic of technology, Whitney Adams lists five Mobile Apps for Writers on DIY MFA. Some, like we’ve probably all heard of; others, like Inspiro, maybe not. But if you’re a mobile-enabled writer, check these out.
  • James Scott Bell (@jamesscottbell) writes on The Kill Zone about A Writer’s Ego. Face it, we all have one: how else could be dare to write things for publication, to believe what we have to say is worth reading? But of course,our  ego can get us in trouble in all sorts of ways, too, and Bell writes about how to avoid some of those traps.
  • Kim Weiland (@KMWeiland) writes about 10 Excuses for Not Writing – and How to Smash Them on her WORDplay blog. Many of these are inverse-ego (that is, negative self-image) beliefs: “I have no talent,” “people will ridicule my work,” and so on. Kim’s practical yet realistic tips should help if you have problems believing in your own abilities.

Shifting all the way over to the business side now.

  • MAYBE the biggest news of the weekend was Amazon’s Jeff Bezos’ announcement that not only was Amazon about to release new versions of the Kindle and at new price points, but that Amazon was going to start offering e-books in serial form. That generated a whole spate of comments.
    • The Bookshelf Muse guest blogger Sue Quinn’s (@susankayequinn) take is all positive: It’s a Great Day to Be a Writer. While she’s not just stoked about this new take on an old concept (Charles Dickens, anyone?), she’s certainly right that we writers have more options and opportunities to reach our readers, whether 5 or 5 million, than we’ve ever had.
    • Joe Hartlaub’s take on The Kill Zone, Books on the Installment Plan is more cautious, looking at what he sees as some of the pros and cons of the concept.
    • Porter Anderson (@Porter_Anderson) takes that view into even more detail in his long, as usual “Extra Ether” post, Serial Iterations. This 4-part post discusses the basics of how serialization is going to work on the Kindle, British writer Roz Morris’ experiences with serialization (some positive, some negative), speculates on how reader reactions to a serial’s installments might influence future installments, and closes with some cautionary notes about what that might mean for writing. My take: interesting idea; some writers will embrace it, others won’t at all, still others will use it only in ways that suits their writing and preferred ways of working; but this is not the end of writing as we know it.
  • One more piece on independent publishing. Irish writer Nick Rooney writes about The Self-Publishing Honeypoton The Independent Publishing Magazine’s blog. Rooney notes how the Big 6 publishers are finally, slowly, getting into the electronic publishing world themselves as they realize its business (read money-making) potential. Two interesting and perhaps disturbing points:
    • Rooney identifies a number of publishers who are using services “powered by ASI” (that’s Author Solutions, Inc., the company with a questionable reputation recently purchased by Pearson Publishing). What, exactly, does “powered by” mean and what “services” are these “independent” (?) companies going to provide?
    • Rooney may not have been aware of it, but “honeypot” has a second meaning in American slang which comes from the days before indoor plumbing. “Thunder mug” is a synonym. Significance?
  • And finally (TOLD you it was a busy weekend!), Joel Friedlander is back with a discussion of Chris Brogan’s Hub and Outpost Method of Social Media Marketing. The concept, intended to be a time-saver, has a writer establishing a social media “hub”–their web site or blog, say–and then picking social media “outposts” from which they can reach the kinds of readers they’re looking for and bring them back to the hub via links. Joel’s going to be hosting a (NOT free) webinar on this topic next week.

Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, August 28 and 29, 2012

Welcome to post #201 on the Cochise Writers blog! Today we have everything from scenes to themes in our craft entries and several posts on what might be called the down sides of desperation for fame and fortune. Unfortunately, there’s nothing funny today to offset that bad news. Anyway, let’s get to work.

  • Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) brings us an excerpt from Martha Alderson’s (@plotwhisperer) The Plot Whisperer Workbook containing what she considers the 7 Essential Elements of Scene & Scene Structure. These include time and setting, conflict and tension, and theme, and much more in between.
  • Kim Weiland (@KMWeiland) offers one tip on How to Find Your Character’s Voice on her WORDplay video post. Her technique–write random scenes in which the character is prominent, without worrying about where they will eventually fit into the story–will work. I added two of my own in the comments: interview the characters or have them write something autobiographical. Then the author HAS to get out of the way.
  • Canadian author Suzannah Windsor Freeman (@Writeitsideways) draws 3 Fiction Tips from Stephanie Vaughn’s “Dog Heaven” on Writer Unboxed. These tips are broader in scope than the first two posts today, and include how to break rules with intention and create a memorable ending.
  • And in the last post on craft, Dr. John Yeoman (@Yeomanis) discusses The Power of THEME on The Bookshelf Muse. This might sound scary and super-literary, but it’s not. Every story has a theme–its meaning–and Dr. Yeoman addresses what to do when either you’ve written the story but aren’t sure what the theme is or have an idea for a theme but no story to go with it.

On the business side…

  • Porter Anderson’s (@Porter_Anderson) long Extra Ether piece on Jane Friedman’s blog on Buying Book Reviews is the first of several that have shown up in my blog reading in the last few days (one is definitely enough) about authors, including best-seller John Locke, buying positive but completely bogus reviews from a company (–now shut down) whose only business was to provide them. It’s yet another sad example authors being desperate for fame and sales and the people who are willing to take advantage of them for their own profit. Honest work? Who needs that? Integrity? C’mon, man, this is the 21st century. (In case you’re wondering, I’m being sarcastic. And very sad.)
  • Along similar but more positive lines, Rachelle Gardner (@RachelleGardner) warns Not So Fast: Ideas to Rethink, when it comes to beliefs like quality in writing doesn’t matter any more or that electronic publishing is easy. There are a couple more, including one that might be seen as self-serving–her riposte to the idea that agents are becoming irrelevant. Judge for yourself.
  • Finally, to end on the most positive note I can, Gabriela Pereira (@DIYMFA) lists 5 Lessons About Community that Writers MUST Learn (emphasis hers) on DIY MFA. The essence of her piece is that while writing is primarily a solo occupation, maybe even because it is, it’s important to be a part of a community of writers (not necessarily a critique group) that gives and receives help and support to and from its members. (Which, she notes, is a way to generate legitimate Amazon reviews, among many other benefits).

Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, August 7, 2012

I would call today a “light” day except three of the four posts deal with the darkness of rejection. And yet, each agent or author finds a spark of light at the end of the submission tunnel. And we’ll finish with something just for fun. OK, if you’re still with me, off we go to rejection-land.

  • We’ll begin with agent Kristin Nelson describing not only how she made it through 68 Queries in 60 Minutes on her Pub Rants blog, but what caused her to issue 58 rejections and 10 requests for more pages. In one hour. Much worth noting here.
  • Keith Cronin (@KeithCronin) picks up the story from there, discussing The Rejection Reaction(s) we have after getting one Kristin’s, or any other agent’s, “no.” Keith goes through our phases of reaction, with doses of humor at each step, and finishes with a terrific quote from Michael Jordan on how many times he’s failed and why/how those failures motivated him to be the superstar basketball player he was.
  • Porter Anderson’s (@Porter_Anderson) long EXTRA ETHER: Are You a Good Writer? on Jane Friedman’s (@JaneFriedman) blog addresses what being a “good writer” means, which of course includes failing and being rejected.
  • WHEW! That’s enough of that! Let’s close with something that’s funny now and may be funny later. Kathryn Lilley (@kathrynelilley) names her personal muse and those of a couple of famous writers (F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway), and starts to draw some lessons from what she observes on Finding the Right Muse. She closes by asking readers to send in pictures of their personal muses, to be published on The Kill Zone on Friday. That should be interesting. Might even be funny. Or it might be a lot of cat pictures. Stay tuned.


Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, June 23, 2012

Feeling a little Clint Eastwood-ish this morning. Not Harry Callahan-ish, but man-with-no-name-ish, as in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Not good/bad/ugly about me, personally, you understand but about what’s out there on the blogosphere today. Let’s start with the good:

  • Two very helpful posts for anyone who uses WordPress as their software backbone for their blog (from, not .com):
  • And now the bad, as in bad (poor, excessive, hyped, cliched) use of language. Porter Anderson (@Porter_Anderson) waxes lengthy on Writer Unboxed about ‘Social’: Over the Top language on Twitter, Facebook, etc. The. Best. Ever. (Not!) 🙂 (His assessment, not mine about his.)
  • And the really ugly: Victoria Strauss (@VictoriaStrauss) warns about yet More Money-Wasting “Opportunities” for Writers on Writer Beware (R) Blogs! It’s depressing how many companies there are out there whose business model is simply preying on the gullible, the greedy, and the desperate-for-success.

That’s all for today. Have a great, fab, best-ever 🙂 weekend.


Great Stuff on the Writers Blogs, May 17, 2012

Today’s great stuff:

  • We’ll start with one I missed yesterday. Victoria Strauss’s (@victoriastrauss) Editing Clauses in Publishing Contracts: How to Protect Yourself is a very long piece on Writer Beware (R) Blogs but well worth your time. There are some really nasty traps out there every writer needs to be aware of, and beware of.
  • OK OK OK, I get it! Porter Anderson’s (@Porter_Anderson) post on Rachelle Gardner’s (@RachelleGardner) blog tells me, Get a Grip on Twitter Handles, and by George, I’d better. Including breaking down and getting a personal one for myself at long last. Half a mo’…there: @Ross_B_Lampert. But seriously, there’s lots of practical advice for when and how to include Twitter handles in posts, and more.
  •  I’d never thought about Joel Friedlander’s (@JFbookman) question on The Book Designer, Are You Trying to Create an “Impossible” Book? before, mainly because I’m not focusing my efforts on self-publishing–not yet, anyway–but his warnings about ways to make a self-pubbed book impossible to produce or sell at a profit are worth learning about.
  • Today is Day 4 of Angela’s (@AngelaAckerman) and Becca’s (@beccapublisi)  Random Acts of Kindness for writers week, and today the give-aways are two copies of Scrivener (1 PC, 1 Mac) and a Professional Membership to the AutoCrit Editing Wizard. This sounds like a really cool tool (I’m going to sign up for the free version here as soon as I’m done with this post) and see if maybe today I can win one of these terrific prizes. How ’bout you?
  • Michael Hyatt’s (@MichaelHyatt) advice on The Fine Line Between Working Hard and Letting Go isn’t really new but every so often it’s just good to be reminded that sometimes, counter-intuitive as it seems, you need to just step back for a little while, especially when the pressure’s on or there’s more to do than there seems to be time to do it. Like, for me, right now. Thanks, Michael.
  • Danny Iny (@DannyIny) is, among other things, a power guest-blogger. On Write to Done he offers Three Keys to Spectacular Guest Posting Success, not to mention a free live training event next week. If you want to write guest posts and aren’t sure how to do it, or aren’t having any success at getting guest slots, check this post out.
  • For another take on guest blogging, including among other things whether SEO (search engine optimization) is important to guest posts, check out Bamidele Onibalusi’s article, How I Increased My Search Traffic by 200% in 6 Months on @ProBlogger. WARNING: this is a long and fairly technical article.