WriteOnCon was awesome.

I got lucky enough to find out about a free online conference for writers in the Young Adult, New Adult, and Middle Grade genres. WriteOnCon was a two-day event where a whole bunch of really talented folks (seriously, the talent out there is scary good), they all got together with literary agents and other publishing industry pros to share work, perfect queries and pitches, and just have an all-around good time. I met lots of really nice people and made a few new friends. Good times! The forums are still up if you would like to visit and view the many threads of great writing and publishing tips. I’ll be keeping my eye out for more conferences like WriteOnCon because I came away feeling very good about sharing my work and learning from all of the passionate writers and readers out there.

4 Signs That You’re Not Writing Enough…

I snagged this article off of Chuck Palahniuk’s Twitter page. For those who don’t know, Chuck is the notorious author of FIGHT CLUB and occasionally tweets links to really good writing advice, like this: 4 Signs That You’re Not Writing Enough…and 4 Things You Can Do About It by Naturi Thomas-Millard.

From the article:

Ah, the tyranny of the blank page. That cursor at the top of an empty screen like a blinking middle finger. It can be tough going to write, and write often, when you know that when you finish, there won’t be any applause. There might not be acceptance. Heck, it might not even get read by anyone except for you and your roommate who’s just being nice because he owes you $20.

But at the end of the day, we write because we need to, because the characters in our heads want us to. Because we have a story to tell to a world that needs telling. And no one can tell it like you.

Writing Tip: Read your book out loud.

When you are writing and revising your book and finish a scene or chapter, it’s good to read it aloud to catch any grammar or spelling issues. Reading your manuscript aloud also helps to form natural dialogue by allowing you to catch jagging or halting turns of speech. You really shouldn’t skip this step of actually hearing your text because books are read aloud all of the time. It’s a must in the quality process.

But, reading your book aloud sucks, doesn’t it? I think it does. For awhile, it’s okay, but then it’s boring and tiresome if you are writing and revising for hours and hours. My secret weapon is to use a text-to-speech reader and let the computer read the book to me. I follow along and make edits accordingly.

The computer will never have the same inflection as the human voice, but it will help with the rhythm of words, syllables, and general mistakes. The best program for this, I have found, is IVONA MiniReader. Enjoy.

Book Bloggers: The New Literary Agents

I’ll make this short and sweet. If you want to get your book in front of readers, you must get it read by complete strangers, book reviewers who usually run a blog or other portal that readers visit to discover new books. To get reviewed, you must submit according to the reviewer’s submission guidelines, include a synopsis, a blurb, basically all the components of a decent query letter you would send to a lit agent. Some reviewers take self-published books, many don’t. Others prefer paperbacks to ebooks, some are okay with anything, and all reviewers have genre preferences, just like the guidelines you’d find in The Writer’s Market for querying a traditional literary agent.  Yes, the publishing model is moving, in flux, and book reviewers are fast becoming the new gateways through which authors pass to reach their readers.

How to Get Your Book into More Categories on Amazon with Keywords by Lindsay Buroker

The biggest problem a new indie author faces is getting their books in front of readers. I am discovering that it is so important to classify my book in as many possible areas so that it appears in multiple categories on Amazon. I found this article by Lindsay Buroker to be extremely helpful: How to Get Your Book into More Categories on Amazon with Keywords

7 Strategies and 110 Tools to Help Indie Authors Find Readers and Reviewers

Found this huge list of resources for all you indie authors out there. This fantastic information is courtesy of MusingsandMarvels.com! Enjoy!

Musings and Marvels

Self-publishing is growing, and with it come new resources. One of the biggest hurdles of being an indie author is finding readers and getting reviews (which helps find more readers). Some people may still consider self-publishing a stigma, and some writers may think that promotion takes away too much time from writing. But many sites, including Outramp, Your Writer Platform, and Indies Unlimited have written posts giving advice for marketing.

On Digital Book World, founder of McCarthy Digital Peter McCarthy said, “Whoever is the best at connecting authors’ works with the end consumers — they win.” It’s about being agile and seeing what works.

With that in mind, here are 7 strategiesand a list of 94 tools indie authors can use to help promote their books and find new readers and reviewers (although the first and most important thing is to write a good…

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To Market, or not to Market the Book

Marketing a book is a lot of work. I have discovered this firsthand, and I don’t like a lot of work. There is no quick fix to marketing a self-published book. The work must be done, and so the hours must be put in. But, is it all a waste of time? Is marketing your self-published book an exercise in futility? I ask myself this question a lot, because every hour I spend setting up my “author’s platform” is an hour I’m not writing. So, I took it to Google (my personal magic 8-ball) and typed in: “Is marketing my ebook a waste of time?” Google responded with this great Forbes article by Suw Charman-Anderson from back in 2012: Book Promotion For Self-Publishers: A Waste Of Time?

I liked what she had to say.

Flash Fiction: Off the Farm

After graduating high school, I worked three years on my Dad’s farm in Wexford, earning five dollars an hour to tend pigs, and plow, plant, and harvest the corn and soybean fields. Dad made me pay room and board, so it took a good while to save up the thousand dollars I needed to move to the city, where I planned to find a new job and place to live.

For a long time I toiled; three planting seasons, three harvest seasons, and the final year at the farm I worked double-time (except for the pay) plowing up a hundred fallow acres my father wanted to plant. I worked diligently, meticulously, but I despised the laborious work, and blunted Kuerner_Farm_Delcomy malcontent by thinking about the future, of a life in Evermore.

Every Sunday, in all types of weather, I walked down to the corner truck stop to buy the Sunday edition of The Evermore Press. The only section I cared about was Arts & Entertainment, the rest I left on the kitchen table before retreating to my small bedroom to devour the paper. Live music, theater, poetry jams, workshops, exhibits: all criticized and praised by beat reporters keen to the scene in Evermore. It might have been hype to get tourists or bumpkins like me to come and spend their money, but the Sunday paper was a window into a larger life than I’d ever known at the farm.

Sometimes on the radio when I was up early slinging pig shit, someone would go off on a news bit about how Evermore was fast becoming an urban center of the arts and that people from all over were arriving to study at the university, and important artists vied to show their work in museums and public spaces. It sounded like the place to be, in the big city, all the exciting culture, streetlights, and concrete, glass, and steel landscapes of strange beauty. Even while slopping my father’s swines in the dead of winter, my daydreams throbbed in a lush kaleidoscope of urban desire spun by those Sunday reads.

The day I left home, I packed my black JanSport backpack with three changes of clothes, and all the basic travel stuff: soap, toothpaste, and a volume of Literature: Reading Fiction, Poetry, and the Essay by Robert DiYanni, which I bought off a book salesman at the truck stop two summers back and carved out the pages to make a money stash. In the hollowed-out book, I stowed a picture of Mom and my thousand-dollar treasure. Zipped up, the pack weighed about thirty pounds, a towable weight. I strapped the backpack onto my shoulders, shut off the bedroom light, walked downstairs, through the house, and out the front door.

Dad was on the porch smoking a pipe. The wind blew over his bowl of sweet tobacco and a ribbon of smoke warmed my nostrils as I passed by him to descend the steps. On the sidewalk, I turned to face him. He stood like a stone at the top of the steps, king of his agrarian domain, looking out into the distance, down the front acreage and across the road, at the small family cemetery and the white spire of my mother’s grave. Perhaps he recalled a distant memory of her, the woman who died giving birth to me.

“Goodbye Dad,” I said.

“You’re not a son of mine,” he said, turned, went inside and shut the door.

I walked away, down the drive and out to the road, not stopping to say goodbye to Mom. She couldn’t hear me anyway.

Flash Fiction: Breakfast for Papa

She set the wooden tray on the table next to his bed, and then reached over to pull the curtains away from the window, letting in the noontime sun. His head stirred on the pillow as she leaned down and brushed her cheek against his.

“Papa, wake up,” she said. “It’s time to eat.”

His eyes fluttered open and he squinted in the light. “Blast, girl!” he bellowed. “Must the window be open?”

“It’s past lunchtime, Papa,” she said. “You’ve been sleeping all day. Here, I made you something to eat.” She helped him sit up to rest his back on two pillows laid against the headboard. With him situated, she set the tray on his lap; on it rested a bowl of strawberries in cream, a cup of coffee, and a glass of milk.

“Now, don’t fidget and spill,” she said.

He ignored her and feasted on the strawberries until pink cream dribbled from the corners of his mouth. He chewed, swallowed, washed the food down with coffee, and then leered suspiciously up at her.

He sternly asked, “Where did you get the money for these berries, Celeste?”

Her first thought was to lie about the berries, but he always knew when she was fibbing. “I won’t say, Papa,” she answered. “You’ll be angry with me.”

He dropped his spoon into the bowl, pushed the food away, and frowned. “I won’t eat,” he said, flustered. “Not until you tell me.”

Celeste lowered her eyes, walked to the foot of the bed, and gazed at her feet.

“You have such beautiful, delicate feet,” Lorenzo had said. She hadn’t believed his compliment. Her toes were red with dirt and dust from the market, where he’d first approached her with his proposal. She’d rebuffed him initially, but then he’d offered an amount equal to a whole month of peddling eggs to the merchants. How could she refuse such a sum? And how could Papa be angry with her? Tending the farm was especially tedious since he went ill and she had to do everything. Why shouldn’t she be industrious with her talent? Her “celestial elegance,” as Lorenzo had called it. She looked up from the floor.

“I posed for a painting,” she said. “A painter hired me for a…” What had he called it? “A study.” She defiantly raised her chin and stuck her hands on her hips. Her father scowled grimly from his sickbed, eyeing the tray, illuminated by the sunlight shining from the window. The food and drink glowed like treasure.

“Did he ask you to take off your clothes?” he grunted.

“Papa!” Celeste exclaimed. “Of course not! He only asked me to sit on a bench in the park with a basket of roses. He paid me for modeling. That’s all.”

“I’ve heard of these artists,” he sputtered. “They have strange ideas, immoral ways. Some say an artist’s creativity is a mask for something more sinister.”

“That’s ridiculous, Papa,” she said, stepping to his bedside. “He was a perfect gentleman.” She brushed his graying hair back from his forehead and kissed his furrowed brows, felt him soften as she reached over and slid the bowl back in front of him. “Eat Papa. You need good food to get well.”

He sighed and ate another spoonful of berries. She watched him lovingly, glad to see him using his appetite. He looked better today, happier, most likely from the unexpected bounty of food.

When he finished his meal, he peered up at her, his blue eyes twinkling, rosy color rising in his cheeks, and said, “Thank you, my darling.”

“You’re welcome, Papa.”

How to Craft Characters that Resonate with an Audience

I have just discovered one of my new writer resources, a film script writer and WordPress blogger, Craig Lumen, whose excellent writing advice – to me – sounds a lot like and as strong as the late, great Blake Snyder, author of the indispensable screenwriting book, Save the Cat!

In Craig’s latest post, he gives great insight into How to craft characters that resonate with an audience.

Enjoy! And write on!