Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Great Writing...Hurts

You want to put your best work out there, but you want it to "sort of happen" to you "without much effort" and in the time that you have "available." Maybe you want to be a writer but you don't want to write "every day." You don't want to take classes on the subject, you don't want to attend conferences or spend hours editing your work.

You just want to write.

I know some folks like that, and they're great people. But they will probably never get published.

Photo by: Mscaprikell, courtesy of Flickr
And that's okay. They write for pleasure, for the "sheer enjoyment" or the plain fact that writings makes them "feel better."

But what if you want more. What if you're a writer through and through? What if you can hardly think about anything else but writing? And what if writing sometimes gives you a terrible crick in the neck?

Welcome to the publishing club, where the feat is joyous beyond measure, but continually keeps you hopping up to the next step.

Photo by Clairity, courtesy of Flickr
I LOVE WRITING! It's one of those things that keeps me going, keeps me happy, and most of the time, keeps me sane! But sometimes writing also hurts. I don't want to write that sad part that reminds me of the death of my grandmother; I want to avoid the pain that child is soon to experience because it reminds me so much of my own--that I'm still trying to work through!

But here's something I know. The best writing that I have ever penned on paper or typed from keys onto my computer screen has come from the depths. Great writing hurts. Great writing makes you cry. Great writing takes you out of yourself. It's scary. But great writing can also heal.

When you feel hurt or pain the next time you write, consider this.

What you write, if you write it from your heart, from your soul; if you allow your entire being to experience it, you will heal, but not only you, but that reader who is reading your book.

And I can't think about anything more rewarding than that.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Do Book Signings Work?

Do book signings work?

That depends. Are you a great marketer like Richard Paul Evans? Are you a movie star?

One of my first book signing some ten years ago was well, a flop. No one really knew about my book except for family and friends. And after a couple of weeks all the books I was going to sell to them had already been sold. Here's a few things I have learned since:

Photo by Silicon Prairie News, courtesy of Flickr
1. A book signing draws in more readers if you make it an event. Have a book talk previous to your signing, offer some free treats and a drawing for your book. A book signing doesn't have to be at a book store. Some creative signings are held elsewhere. Just look at your book and see where the story fits into a niche place. For example, my new book, "Conquering your Goliaths" would be great in a garden store. It also might fare well at a bakery. Or have your book signing at home. Invite your family, friends, work
There are not only sunflowers in this story,
but some great  bakery treats!
associates and local community.

2. Look at other avenues of getting your book known. Reviewers are prolific these days. Many readers blog about books and reviewers will usually take your book in a PDF format. What that means for you is that you're not spending extra money on the book itself, as well as the postage to mail it to the reviewer. The time it takes you to attach a PDF is quick too!

3. Take your book with you!  Wherever you go, make sure you have at least one copy of your book with you. Keep some extra copies in the trunk of your car. You never know when someone will be excited to buy your book.

4. Make up some postcards with your book on the cover. (I get mine at Vista Print). When you're out  tell people about your book and hand them a postcard with the information about your book on it. They may not want a book today, but they may be willing to check out your book online.

When I went to Richard Paul Evans' book signing some years ago, there was one long line. He was promoting his book, "The Christmas Box," signing each book that came his way, and giving everyone who wanted a hug, a hug. I will never forget that book signing.

I've never been to a movie star's signing, but I know that if the person is well known, more interest is usually given, even if the book itself isn't very good. And I've seen some of those.

Yes, a book signing will get you some readers, but you may feel as if the readers trickle in almost like the dripping tap in your kitchen. Get your book noticed by trying the ideas above.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

What you Write is Usually What you Read

Good news!

What you write is usually what you read.

Why is that good news?

Think about it. If you enjoy writing fantasy, then you're usually reading fantasy. You learn about plot, setting, characterization and more by reading fantasy. You see the style of the writer, you learn what he/she does to  make a fantasy chapter work.

You also see what doesn't work.

Photo by Sarah Sphar, courtesy of Flickr
I have an awful time when I read a book with too many characters. And I guess this can happen in any book, but fantasy novels seem to grasp the concept of multiple characters fairly easily. Think of Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, and you'll see multiple characters. Though the authors handle the concept well, not every writer can, or should. But it's a good idea to read such authors because they give us a good example of how to make each character unique, how to scatter the characters throughout the novel so that the reader doesn't forget who a character is, even giving us a map or two so we can see the world in which all of  the character's live.

If you prefer books by C.S. Lewis in the non-fiction category, like I do, you may find yourself writing books like, "Conquering your Goliaths--A Parable of the Five Stones," like me; especially if you like C.S. Lewis' fiction too.
Conquering Your Goliaths: A Parable of the Five Stones
My new book, released Jan. 23, 2012

If you're not reading what you like to write, get on it! There really is a purpose in reading what you want to write; not all of it is necessarily--fun. Sometimes, when I'm reading an especially good book, I go back over paragraphing, vivid imagery used, and so on. I look for what the author does that I can incorporate into my own writing, using my own voice, of course.

Great lessons can be learned from the authors we love, and we need to take their words into consideration, not only for the pure enjoyment of the read, but for our own benefit--as an author.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Getting "Real" with your Story--the Importance of Voice

When I first began writing I figured I'd have to sound like a great writer to be one. What I didn't realize is that I just needed to sound like myself.

But what was that?

Photo by: Daehyun Park, courtesy of Flickr
At first I didn't know what my voice was. I didn't know what it sounded like. Sure, I used it every day to talk with people, but I didn't have a clue how to use my voice in writing. I didn't know where to start. 

Voice is an interesting thing. It's something that comes from inside you and it's something that someone else cannot teach. Yes, they can give you writing exercises to bring it out, you can read all about "voice" in books and you can take writer's classes with some pretty heavy discussion about what "voice" is, but until you experience it yourself, your writing will never take on the glow you have imagined for it.

Voice is especially important when you consider your characters. But it is equally important as you describe setting. What does your reader hear when they read your words? Are they re-reading them or are they taking them in? And if they're re-reading, is it because your words are full of depth and meaning, or because the reader is confused?