Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, February 2-4, 2013

Wow! Busy weekend out there on the blogosphere, and Monday morning, too: rules and tools, emotions and responses, Star Wars attacks and attacks on Amazon. It’s all here, and more. No time to lose! Let’s get started.

CRAFT

CORRECTION! Gabriela Pereira’s (@DIYMFA) workshop is on Tuesday, February FIFTH,  (that’s tomorrow) at 1 PM Eastern. Sorry for the confusion!

Anyone who’s been at this business a while knows that there are almost no rules to writing, beyond maybe, “Get your butt in the chair! Now!” So when a post is titled The Rules of Writing, naturally that’s going to raise some concerns. Fortunately, French super-bestseller Marc Levy’s (@marc_levy) “rules” on Writer Unboxed aren’t rules so much as guidelines, and wise and practical ones at that. A couple examples to whet your appetite: “Stop trying so hard to find a subject” and “Don’t show too much, don’t tell too much.”

Along these same lines, Joanna Penn’s (@thecreativepenn) guest post on Write to Done on 5 Ways To Take Your Writing Further includes some techniques I’ve heard before but haven’t seen mentioned much recently, namely free-writing and physically copying the work of published authors you enjoy and respect. Not only are these effective techniques for expanding your writing, they’re terrific for overcoming writer’s block. (See the Brandon Yawa post below too.)

I think it was one of the great Russian writers who said, “If there is no emotion in the writer, there will be no emotion in the reader.” Anyone know who that was? In any case, James Scott Bell (@jamesscottbell) picks up on that theme with his post How To Get Emotional About Your Novel on The Kill Zone. “Emotion in the author,” he writes, “is literary electricity. It’s the X Factor, the game changer… Readers sense it.” Then he describes a couple of methods for finding it and bringing it out in your work. The last part of the post is a plug for his latest book but also serves as an example of how he was able to create genuine emotion in the story.

Speaking of emotion, KM Weiland (@KMWeiland) continues her excellent series on scenes and sequels with Pt. 9: Options for Dilemmas in a Sequel. What does this have to do with emotion? After the emotion of the reaction to the previous scene’s disaster, now the protagonist should face a dilemma in which he or she has to figure out what to do next. This can be an emotional reaction, too, or a rational one, but it needs to start with a review of what’s happened, an analysis of options, and a plan for moving forward, which will lead to a decision, the next scene and, of course, the next disaster… but that’s getting ahead of ourselves.

Lessons Learned from the Original Star Wars Trilogy to Up Your Writing Game? Seriously? Yup. Lydia Sharp (@lydia_sharp) comes up with them on Writer Unboxed. Specifically, Episode IV (start in the middle), Episode V (destroy everything), Episode VI (expect the unexpected).  Hmmm. Y’know, that gives me an idea…. Thanks, Lydia!

BUSINESS

Joanna Penn’s piece on her own blog, How EBook Readers Shop And The Importance Of Sampling, is a terrific insight into both. Yes, if you own an e-reader, your shopping habits may be different, but if you’re looking to e-publish, even how just one reader shops can be revealing. So are Joanna’s and her commenters’ views on samples: how long they should be, how much time a reader will spend with them, how often they decide not to buy based on the sample, etc. Valuable info here!

Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has started a monthly feature called Best Business Advice for Writers, and the January edition is full to overflowing with links to other posts and articles that are full to overflowing with information. The ol’ veritable plethora, right on your screen: GoodReads, cover design, self-publishing lessons-learned, WordPress plug-ins, Kickstarter, and more. Goodness. It’s a week’s worth of reading all by itself! Pick what most interests you.

Whoa, this is a tough one. Clare Langley-Hawthorne reports on The Kill Zone on a series of Concerted Amazon Attacks meant to discredit and kill the sales of a book. The book, an apparently non-sycophantic biography of Michael Jackson received so many 1-star reviews on Amazon (over 100), many of which were factually inaccurate, that despite Amazon’s selecting it as one of their best books of the year, sales were a small fraction of the number of books printed. So, whose free-speech rights prevail in a case like this: the authors’ or the reviewers’? Or is this an either/or decision at all? What do you think?

THE WRITING LIFE

It might be a bit of a surprise to see a post from ProBlogger here in the Writing Life section, but Brandon Yawa’s (@BrandonYawa) How Compassion Cures Writer’s Block fits. Interestingly, his idea is NOT compassion by the author for someone else, but compassion by the author for him- or herself. Self-forgiveness, in other words, when the words won’t come, plus a few non-writing techniques for getting that mental break that releases the block. Marc Levy (above) says not to fear writer’s block because it’s a natural thing. Without the fear, then, the forgiveness should come more easily. Hope so, anyway!

If you’ve ever been in a writers’/critique group, you’ve probably encountered people like those described in Donna Cooner’s (@donnacooner) Top 10 Worst Types of Critique Partners. If you haven’t, yes, you might well encounter people like these. But don’t assume as some writers and bloggers (NOT Donna) insist that all groups are like this. They’re not, and a good group is worth its weight in ink cartridges.

So, can you name that Russian writer? Have you run into any of those awful critique partners? How about great ones? Tell! Tell! (This is one time you don’t have to “show.”)

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Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, December 15-17, 2012

Last Friday I wrote about the snow we were getting and how it would look once the storm cleared. Here’s how it looked this morning just after sunrise.

 Snow on mountain at sunrise

That’s the way I like my snow: pretty to look at but no shoveling required!

As for writing, we’ve got quite the variety today, including a new section on technology, plus posts on covers, selling books on consignment and KDP Select, and much more.

CRAFT

Part 2 of KM Weiland’s (@KMWeiland) series on scenes is about their Three Building Blocks. It’s correct but incomplete to note that each scene has its own arc—beginning, middle, end. The building blocks fill out those pieces by providing a goal (much smaller than the characters’ overall story goals, but goals nonetheless), a conflict that grows naturally from the events of the scene and those preceding it, and a disaster of some sort at the end. As Katie notes, “disaster” seems like a strong word but the point is that in most scenes, the main character’s situation needs to be worse than it was when the scene began. To read Katie’s development of each idea, click on the link above. You’ll be glad you did.

It’s time for Joel Friedlander’s (@jfbookman) monthly e-Book Cover Design Awards column. These posts are always very long because lots of folks submit their covers for his review (111 this time: 95 fiction, 16 non-fiction). The ones Joel likes best get award icons and an explanation of why he picked them, others get comments (not always positive!), and the rest are just displayed with any comments the submitter included. These posts are always worth spending time with because, even if you’re not a cover designer (heck, I have trouble drawing a straight line with a ruler!), they’re a great opportunity to not only see what works and what doesn’t and learn why, they’re also a great source of ideas and the names of designers.

BUSINESS

Rachelle Gardner (@RachelleGardner) addresses one of those questions that’s always getting asked, especially by new writers: Should You Re-Query an Agency? This is a nice summary of the ways agents generally think but one point she mentions doesn’t get anywhere near enough emphasis: read AND FOLLOW the agency’s guidelines!!!! I don’t understand why this is such a problem for so many writers.

Did you know bookstores can sell your (hardcopy) books on consignment? I didn’t either but it shouldn’t be a surprise. Stephanie Chandler (@bizauthor) not only shows how on her post on the Authority Publishing blog, she even offers a free, Word-format example consignment agreement you can download and modify as appropriate. Joel Friedlander pointed this article out.

Kill Zone author Boyd Morrison (@boydmorrison) provides us with a Giveaway Report from his 5-day experiment with giving away his latest novel for free via the Kindle Digital Publishing (KDP) Select program. Long story short, he’s happy with the results, but keep in mind, he’s an established author. One knock against KDP Select (I heard it again this weekend) is that Amazon demands 90 days of exclusive sales if you want to sign up, meaning you can’t sell your ebook through any other channel—Nook, Kobo, Sony, even your own web site—until that 90 day period is up. Morrison’s experience is that he made enough during that time to cover what he thought he would have made via those other channels but as he notes, “one anecdote doesn’t equal data.” In other words, your experience will almost certainly be different.

THE WRITING LIFE

I suppose this piece could go up in the “craft” section, but James Scott Bell’s (@jamesscottbell) Honor Thy Fiction is about more than craft. It’s about who we are as people, and as writers, and how that comes through in our writing. The post starts out seeming to have nothing to do with writing, but stick with it. You’ll be rewarded.

Seth Godin is the latest in a long line of self-help gurus and his new book The Icarus Deception is getting a lot of attention. Mary Jaksch (@Mary_Jaksch) has the first of a two part interview with him on Write to Done (Why We Are All Artists) and Joanna Penn (@thecreativepenn) a much shorter review in Art Isn’t A Result. It’s A Journey. I’m not all that impressed by what I’ve seen so far but maybe you’ll respond differently.

TECHNOLOGY

Another new category today. Had to create this one for Julie Hedlund’s (@JulieFHedlund) Create Your Own Storybook App on Writer Unboxed. I’m sure there’ll be more pieces to fit here in the future. So what’s a storybook app? Well first, for those of you who don’t know, an “app,” specifically a “book app” is a software application (a program) for a smartphone, e-reader, or computer that requires the reader to interact with the story in order to move forward. A storybook app, then, is a book app for young children. These kinds of apps have been getting more and more attention, not all of it positive, over the past year or so although other than the technology to implement them, they’re not really new. Certain things remain unchanged from other storytelling forms: story matters, first and foremost. If you’re curious about this kind of “mixed media” for writers, irrespective of genre, check this post out.

Back on the self-help theme, Jan O’Hara (@janohara) offers a series of tools for maintaining focus and momentum in Tormented by Toothless Writing Goals? Try These Tools on Writer Unboxed. Some are long-established and low-tech, like the SMART format; some are new and web-based. I’ve you’ve been looking for this kind of help, check out Jan’s post.

FUN

Finally, it’s almost time to HELP THE ELF! This is Bookshelf Muses Angela Ackerman’s (@AngelaAckerman) and Becca Puglisi’s (@beccapuglisi) fun plan to have as many of us as possible reward some special writer or writing pal on the 19th. Here’s their message to you:  How about you, Readers? Is there someone you’d like to say Happy Holidays to, or tell them how much they mean to you? JOIN US! There’s plenty of days left until Christmas, and sometimes a kind word can lift people up in a way that they really need. It’s as easy as sending a free e-card or email note, posting on a Facebook wall or sending out a tweet. So go ahead and spread some kindness and cheer! Check out their original Help the Elf! post.

Like what you see here? Was something especially useful or informative? Feel free to share this post with your friends.

Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, November 29 & 30, 2012

Today marks the end of this year’s NaNoWriMo. If you were NaNo-ing, I hope you made your target. Now the fun begins: editing that (bleep)y first draft. 😉 Maybe the posts below will help you do that and get the final result published.

CRAFT

When Jeanne Kisacky writes about deep and shallow plots, she isn’t necessarily referring to graves, although for someone writing a murder mystery, that certainly could apply. Instead, what she’s referring to in Building a Plot of Variable Depth on Writer Unboxed is how plot relates to pace and character. When the plot is shallow, the story’s pace is quick. When the plot is deep, that’s a time of exploring character and change. A well-written story moves back and forth between the two.

Two posts on characters to check out. How Do You Create Characters? on The Kill Zone asks TKZ readers for their techniques. Mine’s there and you can check out other writers’ as well. Jennifer R. Hubbard (@JenRHubbard) has a concise discussion of The supporting cast on her blog, writerjenn, with good examples of how writers have used them badly and well. Thanks to Nathan Bransford for pointing out this piece.

There are also two posts on tension/suspense. Ollin Morales’ (@OllinMorales) How to Create Suspense on Write to Done uses an example of a Hitchcock movie to make the point of telling the reader just enough—and no more—to keep them wondering what will happen next. Victoria Mixon’s (@VictoriaMixon) longer Making Tension Tense on Writer Unboxed says much the same thing, but with three examples.

BUSINESS

Victoria Strauss (@VictoriaStrauss) of Writer Beware joins the chorus of negative reviews today in Archway Publishing: Simon & Schuster Adds a Self-Publishing Division. In case you hadn’t heard, Archway is S&S’s link to Author Solutions, Inc. (ASI), which I mentioned last time. Unlike Dean Wesley Smith’s previous post on the topic, however, Strauss goes into much more detail on why sensible writers should stay far far away from anything having to do with ASI. Read and heed.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s latest Business Rusch (@kriswrites; again, as always, very long) column, Getting Rid of the Middle Man, is really about Kickstarter, one of the “crowdsourcing” web sites (along with FaithFunder and IndieGoGo), writers and others can use to fund projects. Unfortunately, getting to the real meat of the piece—what to do and not do in order to have a reasonable chance at getting your Kickstarter project funded—requires skipping screen after screen of other material. If you’re thinking of using Kickstarter or one of the others, the piece is probably worth a look, but plan on hitting the Page Down key several times before you get to the good stuff.

Joel Friedlander (@jfbookman) introduces something I think is very cool: A New (Free) Way to Sell Books from Your Sidebar. Agent Claire Ryan (@rayntweets) has created a WordPress plugin called Buy This Book (available through the WordPress Plugin Directory) that lets blog visitors to click on an image of the book’s cover and get a slide-out menu of links to websites where the book can be purchased. While the plugin is available only for blogs/web sites using WordPress.org software, Ryan also provides the HTML code that can be copied into a WordPress.com blog and modified as necessary—plus the instructions on how to install it properly as a widget.

THE WRITER’S LIFE

Gabriela Pereira’s (@DIYMFA) Write It! Wednesday piece, Your Writing Superheroes talks about hers, which may or may not be interesting. But one of her four stood out to me: the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co. (a.k.a 826NYC). These folks are part of an organization called 826 National, a nonprofit that supports eight writing and tutoring centers around the country for kids 6-18—in New York, DC, Ann Arbor, Boston, Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago, and San Francisco. (Darn shame it’s just eight.) Anyway, if you live in one of these cities, have a thing for kids and writing, and want to do some volunteer work, you might want to check them out.

JUST FOR FUN

Did you know that F. Scott Fitzgerald’s epigraph to The Great Gatsby is a fake—that he quoted a character from one of his previous books? Check out Robert Bruce’s (@robertbruce76) latest 101 Books post, The “High Bouncing Lover”?

And one more thing, from Dan Blank’s (@DanBlank) e-newsletter today. You may have seen images like the ones in this video by @kottke as chalk drawings on city streets… but you probably haven’t seen anything quite like them, either. What’s the relation to writing? They’re both illusions: some are optical, some are mental. Enjoy.

Come across something great? Don’t delay: share it in the Comments below!

Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, November 27 & 28, 2012

WOWSERS, is the season of giving ever upon us—and I’m not talking about shopping, unless you mean shopping for great information on writing and publishing out there on the blogosphere. Check out today’s jam-packed line-up of articles, starting right now with

CRAFT

Today’s three pieces form an interesting contrast between themselves and between the cultures and to some extent between the demands of “literary” and “genre” fiction. We’ll start with Barbara O’Neal’s (@barbaraoneal) Cornerstones of Excellence: the Art of Detail on Writer Unboxed. While I certainly don’t disagree with her point that the right details in the right places can create depth and insight that a story without them would lack, I guess it’s my bias that there’s such a thing as too much, too. I’m just not a fan of spending so much time querying a character, for example—especially within the piece—that the story ends up getting lost. The “right” amount of detail for a particular story depends in part on the genre it’s a part of.

So it’s no surprise, then, that freelance thriller editor Jodie Renner (@JodieRennerEd) would have a different take on details in Writing Tense Action Scenes on The Kill Zone. Her dozen techniques for writing these scenes, plus before-and-after-editing examples, are excellent for any writer whose work includes action scenes, irrespective of genre. Even “literary!”

And then we get Writing Advice from Somerset Maugham on Michael Swanwick’s Flogging Babel blog. The advice is a couple of quotes from his introduction to a collection of his own work. Swanwick sums it up thusly: “Gonnabe writers should keep this in mind:  Advice from writers on how to write the sort of thing they themselves write is usually very good.  Their advice on what not to write, however, is always suspect.” Bloggers (and their readers) beware! J

SOCIAL MEDIA

Lori Lynn Smith (@lorilynnsmith) provides a very long but very thorough resource in The First 7 Steps to a Successful Social Media Plan for Writers on Write to Done. Not just bullet points but hows and whys for each step. This post happens to be particularly timely for me and my writers’ group as it’s something we’re starting to pay more attention to. I’ll be spending more time with this post, that’s for sure.

Jane Friedman’s (@JaneFriedman) 10 Ways to Build Long-Lasting Traffic to Your Author Website or Blog is a terrific complement to Smith’s piece. Also long but full of links to other resources, this one is definitely another one to linger with.

And then there’s Porter Anderson’s (@Porter_Anderson) ‘Social’ Media: ‘Sharing’ Our Narcissism, also on Writer Unboxed, which isn’t really a counterpoint as much as a sanity check: does everything we “share” on our social media platforms really have value to all our followers, friends, connections, circles, etc., or some of them, or, if we’re not a foodie writing for foodies, does anyone really care what we had for lunch? Not just a rant, Anderson provides three tips for better SM posts.

BUSINESS

Jordyn Redwood’s (@JordynRedwood) One Hundred Thirty-Eight Points and Bestseller Lists on WordServe Water Cooler ponders numbers and what they mean, whether in a college basketball game or on somebody’s bestseller list. You probably won’t be surprised to learn her take is that it depends on whether and how the points were earned. Kinda hearkens back to the kerfuffle of a month or so ago about the purchased and ghost-written reviews, doesn’t it? The desperation to get ahead can be a sad thing.

Speaking of which, maybe you haven’t heard that Simon & Schuster is the latest publishing house to sign on with Author Solutions, Inc., a company that’s made it (bad) reputation by selling packages of “services,” that could be done for little or no cost, to naïve authors for substantial amounts of money—in some cases in the tens of thousands of dollars. I’m not kidding. Dean Wesley Smith (@deanwesleysmith) basically says, “didn’t I tell you this was coming?” in his New Way For Uninformed Writers to Spend Money. Check out the Publisher’s Weekly article Smith links to.

THE WRITER’S LIFE

Rachelle Gardner (@RachelleGardner) asks Do You Have Impostor Syndrome? What in the world is that? It’s that feeling that you really don’t know what you’re doing, that you’re just an impostor writer (or agent, in her case), or whatever. We’ve all had that, haven’t we—those days when the words won’t come, when our characters go on strike, when our plot drifts off into the wrong morass—definitely NOT the one we wanted the characters to get into! Oh, yeah. When that happens, Gardner writes, that’s the time to remember those days when things DO go right, when the words sing, when the plot flows, when you’re confident in saying, “This is what I do.”

KM Weiland (@KMWeiland) says much the same thing in Tempted to Give Up on Your Story? Don’t! In her last in the series on what she learned from writing her latest book, she talks about how she had those give-up days but didn’t give in to them, and as a result, she’s now able to promote that book.

WHEW! Told you there was a lot of Great Stuff out there today! But surely that wasn’t everything. What did you find?

Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, November 3-5, 2012

It’s interesting how the best posts over the weekend had to do with the writing life. We’ll do a couple of others first.

CRAFT

There’s a genre that lives on the boundary between mainstream fiction and fantasy and incorporates elements of both. In Defining Magic Realism Harvey Stanbrough (@h_stanbrough) discusses the genre and its key characteristics. If this is a genre you’re interested in or just curious about, check out this post.

SOCIAL MEDIA

I’m not a Google+ user myself but Maria Peagler’s (@SM_OnlineClass) How to Use Google+ as an Author Platform on Write to Done is one of the most thorough yet practical and approachable articles of its kind I’ve seen. If you’re already a Google+ user or considering signing up, this is a must-read article.

BUSINESS

Nathan Bransford (@NathanBransford) posts a long-for-him piece on why The Publishing Industry Is Not Deserving of Special Protection. This, of course, goes back to the various lawsuits floating around regarding Amazon and the Big-6 publishers, and his point is that while there’s some reason to be concerned about a potential Amazon.com monopoly over book distribution, that’s no reason for protectionist legal rulings simply because an industry is going through changes. Books will still get to readers. The prices may be lower and the distribution methods different, but readers will still read. Will the publishing houses embrace change and help shape it, or will they fight it to their own deaths?

THE WRITING LIFE

I’m tempted to write that it’s sad we need etiquette reminders and what a reflection that is of this day and age and yada yada yada but I’m not so sure this time and generation is all that much different from those who’ve gone before. In any case, Rachelle Gardner’s (@RachelleGardner) Manners Matter: 13 Etiquette Tips deserves a look. My absolute favorite, and one we need to stand up for when we’re on the losing end of it, is #11: “Pay attention to the person with whom you’re interacting.” In other words, when you’re talking with someone in person and your cell phone rings, LET IT RING. That’s what voice mail is for! It’s rude and disrespectful to blow someone off to answer your phone, check the latest instant message or tweet, or whatever. Why we don’t understand that is beyond me. GRRRRR.

On the topic of personal interactions, James Scott Bell’s (@jamesscottbell) post Making Readers One at a Time is not only an great example of treating someone—in this case, a perfect stranger—with kindness and respect, he shows how he was able to turn that stranger into a new reader of his books.

Continuing with that theme, Becky Johnson (@beckyajohnson) writes about Stranglers or Wranglers? The Super Power of Encouragement on WordServe Water Cooler. Her story is about two critique groups at the University of Wisconsin. One called themselves “The Stranglers,” the other “The Wranglers.” Over the years, the members of the Stranglers, who had focused on criticism, never achieved any literary success, while the Wranglers produced a Pulitzer Prize winner. Johnson’s point: be sure to include encouragement in your critiques. Always good advice.

Finally, Mark Alpert issues a warning: Be Careful What You Read!!! It started when he noticed that after reading a log of Tom Wolfe’s writing, he began to write like Wolfe! Especially when it came to using exclamation points! To excess! Everywhere! What about you? Do you tend to pick up certain tendencies if you read a lot of one author’s work in quick succession?

Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, November 1 and 2, 2012

Yesterday and today have been much less depressing out there in blog-land than earlier parts of the week were, plus there’s some terrific content out there, so let’s get right to it:

CRAFT

Angela Ackerman (@AngelaAckerman) guest posts on Write to Done about something she knows a lot about: Character Emotion: Is It Written All Over Their Face? Her point is simple but important: faces aren’t the only places where characters show emotion. Body language, writ large (pun intended J, but don’t overdo it), not only can communicate emotion very effectively, it can also be easier to describe than a fleeting facial expression. And of course, although Angela was careful not to mention them, don’t forget the various thesauri, including the ones for emotions and body parts, on her own blog, The Bookshelf Muse.

Every so often Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) points her readers to articles from the Glimmer Train Bulletin, and today is one of those days, particularly a quick piece on Consequence and Agency in Fiction by Joshua Henkin (@JoshuaHenkin). If that sounds complicated or esoteric, it’s really not. It means simply this: for a piece of fiction to be successful, someone (the agent) has to do something, and that action has to have consequences, all of which have to be apparent in some way to the reader. Seems obvious, right? Apparently not, especially in some kinds of fiction (I wouldn’t be referring to “literary” fiction, now would I?).

THE WRITING LIFE

Gabriela Pereira (@DIYMFA) addresses on DIY MFA a topic that many writers worry about (unnecessarily, I think): Idea-Stealing: How Not to Let Your Fear Stifle Your Creativity. Gabriela actually spends more time on the worry some writers have that they will steal someone else’s idea than on a writer’s idea being stolen. All of her suggestions are excellent but it’s worth keeping in mind that the chances someone will reproduce your exact story or you doing the same to them, are very small after you discount blatant plagiarism, and she lists ways for dealing with that.

Mike Duran (@CerebralGrump) guest posts on Rachelle Gardner’s blog with a thought-provoking question: Are Writers Too Insulated from Their Readers? He picks up on a point Joe Konrath made earlier, that “Readers are my customers, not writers,” to suggest that many of the things we discuss among ourselves, including blogs like this one, are the kind of “inside baseball” topics that our readers don’t care about. All readers want to do, Duran argues, is enjoy the stories we write. While he’s got a point, it’s worth noting that there are some genres (literary not being one of them) that have a way to de-insulate their writers: conventions (not writers’ conferences), where fans and writers meet.

BUSINESS

That post serves as a nice transition into these posts on business. Let’s start with a very long Business Rusch post from Kristine Kathryn Rusch (@kriswrites) called No Reader Left Behind. Her most important point, among many thousands of words, is this: “Make your books as widely available as possible. Don’t rank one reader above another. Don’t leave any readers behind.” (Italics hers.)

Michelle Gagnon (@Michelle_Gagnon) makes a plea on The Kill Zone to quit the sniping and insults between advocates of traditional publishing and e-/indie-/self-publishing. “Enough already,” she says, and she’s right. There are plenty of ways for writers to get their stories in front of readers (see above) and the “right” way or ways is or are the one(s) that work for each of us. Thanks for the sanity, Michelle.

And finally, speaking of e-/self-publishing, Tracy R. Atkins (@TracyRAtkins) provides a long and detailed but informative Guide to Book Launch and Advance Sales Strategies with CreateSpace and Lulu on The Book Designer. If you’re considering publishing through either of these venues, be sure to check this post out.

So what do you think? Any thoughts on these posts? Anything else you’ve found that’s worth sharing? Let us know in the Comments.

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.