Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, July 18, 2012

Whoa! My little corner has been busy the last 24 hours, with lots of terrific stuff posted. Heavy stuff, light stuff, funny stuff, serious stuff; it’s all there. So, how to organize it all? Oh, let’s see…let’s start with business stuff.

  • What to do with those old paper and electronic files we’ve all been storing for years and years and years and… is something we tell ourselves we’ll get around to “one day.” Yeah, right. Well, Nancy J. Cohen (@nancyjcohen) offers 6 Tips for File Management on The Kill Zone that will not only help you tame the monster, but also give you the reason you need to finally get started.
  • Gabriella Pereira (@DIYMFA) discusses Branding for Authors. Not only does she define what “branding” means for writers, even unpublished ones (hint: it does NOT have to do with being poked in the side with a hot piece of iron, nor does it have to feel that way), she even offers a radical-to-some suggestion regarding social media: you don’t have to be everywhere all the time.
  • Rachelle Gardner (@RachelleGardner) answers the question many of her clients ask: What’s Happening With My Publisher Contract? She then goes on to explain what she’s thinking about as she’s reviewing and negotiating a contract, and why. Good stuff to know.
  • Matt Setter (@maltblue) discusses on @ProBlogger How Privacy Breach Notification Laws Affect Your Blog. If you have a blog or web site and do e-commerce on it, this is information you should know. This topic might seem scary–and it does deal with something that might be a problem–so all the more reason to get smart about it.

Now for a couple pieces on craft:

  • Rebecca L Boschee’s (@becca_leone) What Writing Fiction Taught Me About Human Nature on WordServe Water Cooler at first didn’t seem to offer anything new on heroes and villain, but then she got to the “backstory wound,” that personal failure that keeps both heroes and villains from achieving their goals, at least until they change and overcome/heal the wound. That’s a useful take on that deep character flaw.
  • On a less serious note, Kim Weiland (@KMWeiland) describes Why Your Hero Needs a Yappy Sidekick on her WORDplay blog. “Yappy” doesn’t need to be annoying-little-dog yappy, but the sidekick, Kim says, gives us both an opportunity to gather insights into the hero we might not otherwise have and at the same time introduce a new source of tension and conflict. Clever! And I’m glad to see that I did this in my WIP. Yay!

Finally, a couple pieces on literature and culture:

  • Kevin Kelly’s (@kevin2kelly) Robot, Child of God on The Technium ponders the future and our expanding definitions of intelligence and what that might mean…and puts all that into his new graphic novel The Silver Cord, which is available as a free download here for just another day or two.

Wow! A banner day, eh?

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 inĀ 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!) šŸ™‚ (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 šŸ™‚ weekend.


Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, June 22, 2012

Happy Friday, everyone, and thanks to all of you who are tweeting, retweeting, Facebooking, or otherwise sharing this Great Stuff with others. That, too, is Great Stuff.

And there’s lots of Great Stuff out there today. To wit:

  • Gabriela Pereira (@DIYMFA) ponders, in a guest post on Adventures in YA & Children’s Publishing, whether To MFA or Not To MFA. It’s a good question and one which her post and my comment both demonstrate that it’s not an easy one to answer.
  • Sharon A Lavy (@SharonALavy) asks on WordServe Water Cooler Does ReadingĀ Fiction Affect Your Brain? In the past the answer has tended to be couched in religious (it’s sinful, unless you’re reading what we approve of), social (it’s corrupting, unless you’re reading what we approve of), or political (it’sĀ evil, unless you’re reading what we approve of)Ā terms. Sharon’s piece, fortunately, is none of that. Instead, she reports on studies that show how our brains react–physically–to what we read. But I’ll bet you won’t be surprised by that at all.
  • Two more entries today in the self-/indie- versus traditional-publishing “discussion” actually have some convergence while still taking somewhat divergent paths. Both John Gilstrap (@JohnGilstrap) and Harvey Stanbrough (@hstanbrough) agree that writers shouldn’t avoid the self-/indie-publishing route. Beyond that, though,
    • Harvey argues in On Self-Imposed Limits that a writer’s “unreadiness” to self-publish is needlessly self-limiting and denies the author the opportunity for those higher-percentage royalties that self-pub venues offer.
    • John, on the other hand, argues in My Unsettling View on Self-Publishing on The Kill Zone that there are so many dangers and half-truths floating around out there about self-pubbing that far too many writers are deluded into going that route when they’re not skilled enough, not business-savvy enough, or too focused on the wrong things (e.g. money), and as a result (a) get burned, (b) produce something that (to be kind) shouldn’t have seen e-print.
    • James Scott Bell (@jamesscottbell) chimes in in a comment to Gilstrap’s piece to warn about the excessive emotions on both sides of this argument and to agree that there are both dangers and opportunities.
    • FWIW, my own view hews most closely to JSB’s. For my own WIP, I plan to seek traditional publishing, with e-pubbing as part of the package. If that doesn’t work, I know I’ve got the e-pub option, which is Great Stuff.
  • Let’s move to happier but related material, like making good use of social media.
    • Douglas Lim (@duggiel) offers practical ways to Set UpĀ SocialĀ Media to Give You GreatĀ PostĀ Ideas on @ProBlogger. Sure, that looks like it’s focused on blogging, but with just a little turn, Lim’s ideas can be helpful for both publicizing your own work and generating ideas for more work (as if you really need the help, huh?).
    • Meanwhile, over at The Book Designer, Joel Friedlander (@jfbookman) provides Keyword Basics, tools which can help not only increase blog traffic but also, again, generate ideas.
  • And if discussions of self-publishing and social media aren’t proof enough that times are changing, today there were two announcements of changes on the blogosphere. In the same post discussed above, John Gilstrap announced he’s about to leave The Kill Zone (one more post to go), and Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) announced on Writer Unboxed, I Have No More Advice Left to Give. Whatever their reasons for moving on (Jane’s are new-job related, John’s haven’t been announced), I wish them the best. They’ll be missed.

Have a great weekend!

Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, June 21, 2012

It’s Thursday, so that must mean there’s really useful stuff out on the blogosphere today…doesn’t it? YES!

  • Let’s start with a case of synchronicity and look at two blogs that both address where to publish e-books. While there’s a fair amount of overlap between them, there are also differences, so it’s worth your time to read through both (and bookmark/favorite-ize them [is that a word?]).
  • Janice Hardy (@Janice_Hardy) “takes over” The Bookshelf Muse to write about narrative prose that accidentally consists of lists, and what you can do to spot and fix that when it happens. This is a topic I haven’t seen covered before.
  • And finally, 17 year old (yes, really) Anthony Wijaya (@AnthonyNotStark) offers his Top 5 Google Chrome Extensions for BloggersĀ on @ProBlogger. (In case you’re wondering, they’re SEO for Chrome, Evernote Web Clipper, Google Dictionary, Ruul screen ruler, and G.lux.) I’m writing this post using Chrome, so this caught my eye. But I also use Mozilla Firefox, so I wonder if these “top 5” have counterparts over there. Have to go look. Does anyone out there know?

Happy Thursday, everyone.

Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, June 14, 2012

Happy Bastille Day (in France) and Flag Day (in the US). And since the Bastille and the American flag are symbols for something larger, that gives me my entry into today’s posts:

  • We’ll begin with Katherine Grace Bond’s (@KatherineGBond) guest post on DIY MFA, Find Your Talisman. The talisman she’s referring to is some object that serves as a metaphor or symbol for the theme of your current work. Now, I’m not exactly a fan of carrying said talisman around (most guys–this one in particular–don’t carry purses, after all), but the idea of having some particular thing around which to build a story’s theme is interesting.
  • Subtext, that expression of meaning that isn’t directly expressed in the text, is another way to convey theme. Ollin Morales (@OllinMorales) offers 5 Techniques for Adding Subtext to your Story in a guest post on The Bookshelf Muse. While some of his suggestions aren’t new (give you character a secret), I thought this one–make your characters talk in gibberish and see if the subtext is still evident–was very clever. It forces you to look at how the characters areĀ acting as a way of communicating with each other.
  • Yet another way of communicating the story behind the story is by Using Setting as a Character. MaryLu Tyndall’s (@MaryLuTyndall) guest post on Rachelle Gardner’s (@RachelleGardner) blog suggests six ways to do this, although a note of caution is appropriate here, too: beware of falling into cliche if you do this. Just as with any other technique, you don’t want to beat your readers over the head with setting-as-character.
  • Finally, John Preston (@familymoneyblog) lists Six People Who Can Ease the Blogger’s Burden on @ProBlogger. I mention this post because you can substitute “Writer’s” for “Bloggers” and the post still works. Like bloggers, writers can benefit from having both people “ahead” of them in the business (Preston’s coaches, collaborators, and heroes) and “behind” them (disciples, confidants, and fans) to pull or push them along.

That’s today’s “greatness,” at least from this end. What do you think? Did you find something special out in your slice of the blogosphere?

Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, June 10, 2012

For a few minutes I was concerned this was going to be the day–it WILL come eventually–when nothing on my Google Reader list made me even say to myself, “hmmm, pretty good.” But not to worry, today isn’t that day. Off we go, then…

  • Let’s start with Anne Greenwood Brown’s (@AnneGBrown) post on Writer Unboxed about Hard Work and Getting Lucky. (No, notĀ that kind of “getting lucky.” What are you thinking? The publishing kind.) Anyway, Anne’s point is that hard work creates its own luck, and perhaps neither by itself is sufficient.
  • Harvey Stanbrough’s (@hstanbrough)Ā The Myth of the Short Attention Span might not seem to carry the theme at first, but his point is that the hard (or smart, or both) work done to write well makes the idea of readers having a short attention span, well, a myth.
  • Finally, and back in a way to the hard work side of the equation, Tor Constantino (@TorCon) offers 3 Quick Tips to Get Your Next Post Out on Time on @ProBlogger. Sure, this is a post about blogging, but we all have faced or will face the need to get something done by a certain date. Tor’s suggestions won’t work for everyone (like improving your ability to focus by making yourself work surrounded by noise), but give them a look. You never know: it might be your luck that one of these ideas was just the thing you were looking for.

Did you find anything great, or even good, out there today? If so, please share it.


Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, June 8 & 9, 2012

Coming to you today from beautiful Prescott (pronounced “press-kit,” NOT “pres-scot”), Arizona, two (click) two (click) two days in one! (How many of you remember where THAT came from?) Yeah? You’re showing your age! šŸ™‚

  • All the way from South Africa comes Elizabeth Joss’s (@elizabethjoss)Ā How to Use Metaphors to Engage and Encourage Readers on ProBlogger. While the post is targeted to (this will be a shock, I’m sure) bloggers, it’s a great piece of “Metaphor 101” for all writers.
  • Robin LaFever’s (RLLaFevers)Ā A Call to Arms on Writer Unboxed could well be retitled “A Recall to Sanity.” Her point is simply that, when it comes to all the new ways we have to publish and communicate with our current and potential readers, the “right” way for each of us is the way that makes sens to each of us, no matter what the shouters and pulpit-thumpers for this, that, or the other way of doing things, no not doing things, might be. What a radical idea!
  • I’m sure I’ve seen the title Rhino Skin before, but James Scott Bell’s (@jamesscottbell) post of the same name on The Kill Zone, about dealing with rejection provides necessary tonic (without the gin, sadly) for pressing on no matter what those ignorant bastards have to say about your work. Ā And this post provides a nice segue into…
  • The final post for today, the quote from T. E. Lawrence which comprises all of Michael Hyatt”s (@michaelhyatt) blog post Dreams and Dangerous Men. Methinks Lawrence was thinking of writers, no matter the gender.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

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

“Great thing of us [not quite yet] forgot!” –Duke of Albany,Ā King Lear.

Let’s hope today’s posts on the blogosphere not forgettable. To begin:

  • Rachelle Gardner’s (@RachelleGardner) post on [Her] Love/Hate Relationship with Social Media is unintentionally ironic: on the one hand she appreciates all she gets from all her social media feeds, on the other she bemoans the time suck SM can become. So far, so good. The irony how much time it would take to read all 98 (as I type this) comments the post has attracted!
  • While we’re on the topic of blog posts, Trevor Ginn (@trevorginn) tells us on ProBloggerĀ What George Orwell Taught Me About Blogging, advice which can also apply to other forms of writing, even so-called “literary” work (see below).
  • Michelle Griep offers a clever way to deal with writer’s block on WordServeWater Cooler. She calls it Four P’s in a Pod. OK, so there are really 5 or 6 Ps. Doesn’t matter. It’s good stuff. I’ve used a process like this one myself and it works!
  • Speaking of keeping one’s sanity as a writer (We were? Oh, yes, we were.) Jael McHenry (@jaelmchenry) continues her occasional Ā “Flip the Script” series on Writer Unboxed with this advice: Write Some Days. Good advice for balancing the pressure to produce and the need to produce quality.
  • We’ve all heard the advice, “read like a writer.” Great. How do you do that? Dayna Lorentz (@DaynaLorentz) offers some practical advice on the how and why in 4 Reasons for Making Time to Read on the Guide to Literary Agents.
  • Becca Puglisi (@beccapuglisi) of The Bookshelf Muse writes today on Just Jemi about knowing your character’s emotional temperament. The difference between temperament and personality is something I hadn’t considered before. Good insight.
  • Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) points us to three essays from theĀ Glimmer TrainĀ bulletin. Time being limited, I only read the first one on her list, by Silas Dent Zobal, is a very literary piece that works its way from deaths (of others) he has experienced to trying and failing to write about things that are difficult: “Fiction is not about what we can say, it’s about what we can’t.” This won’t be for everyone–it’s very much the kind of thing that an academic would write andĀ Glimmer Train would publish–but it’s underlying point is to urge each of us to try to get down to the core, difficult, heart of each story.

That’s all from this end. What have you found that’s great?

Great Stuff on the Writers Blogs, May 18, 2012

Here’s today’s great stuff:

  • Gabriela Pereira (@DIYMFA) continues her week of outlining techniques with some untraditional ones. There’s no need to feel trapped in the rigid technique we were all taught in school (I.A.i.a.mybrainhurtsalready). Check out these alternatives.
  • Sometimes I wonder whether same-day or consecutive-day posts on nearly the same topic are mere coincidence, signs of the interconnectedness of the web, or something larger. Case in point: yesterday, Michael Hyatt (@MichaelHyatt) wrote about slowing down when things get crazy. Today, Robert Lee Brewer (@robertleebrewer) takes a related look at figuring out what’s important in Near Death Experiences: Why I’mĀ Thankful My Near Death Experience Kept a Little Distance, and what that experience has taught him on My Name Is Not Bob.
  • And then–wouldn’t you know it?–Timo Kiander (@ProductiveSd) touches on the same topic, but with a focus on blogging, in Blog Better by Slowing Down on @ProBlogger. See? There must be something in the air–or the ether.
  • Rachelle Gardner (@RachelleGardner) asks her once-a-year question, which would you rather have, Great Reviews or Great Money?Ā I know what my answer is: YES! šŸ™‚
  • Speaking of making money, Jane Friedman (@janefriedman) provides 4 Way to Immediately Improve Your Book Marketing Efforts. We always hear that marketing takes work and effort, but what specifically does that mean. This post is identifies some of the tasks marketing involves. For those of us new to this game, this is tremendously valuable. Thanks, Jane!
  • This is the last day of Angela’s (@AngelaAckerman) and Becca’s (@beccapuglisi–MISSPELLED YESTERDAY! Sorry, Becca!) Ā Random Acts of Kindness week on The Bookshelf Muse. Today’s giveaways are two more copies of Scrivener and access to aĀ Writer’s Digest webinar by agent Irene Goodman on how agents pick clients.
  • When I saw the title to Anna Elliott’s (@anna_elliott) post on Writer Unboxed, Contracts, I naturally thought it was going to be about those confusing paper nightmares with agents and publishers. Not so–it’s about the contracts we writers make with our readers, our obligations to keep them, and the consequences if we don’t.

Tomorrow’s post may be very brief, or even invisible, due to a busy schedule. Back on Sunday, for sure.

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)Ā 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 toĀ include Twitter handles in posts, and more.
  • Ā 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) Ā 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,Ā counter-intuitiveĀ 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.