Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Keep On Blogging

Blogs are dead, so they tell me. The blog-o-sphere is no longer relevant. I suppose it depends on what your aim is. From a marketing stand point, blogs may not be the engine they used to be. (I'll come back to this). But for the aspiring writer, they still serve a purpose. And if your name has yet to appear on the NY Times list or the USA Today list and you don't consider yourself a hobbyist, you're still an aspiring writer.
How is a dead marketing engine helpful to a wanna be writer? It's fairly simple. Blogs must be written, usually in less than 500 words. If you write a 250 word blog post every day for a year, at the end of the year you have written 16,250 words. Like most things in life, the more you write the better you get. You will have written 365 first lines and 365 last lines. The only way to gain writing experience is to write. And your blog is a space to reflect on what you've read and your writing journey. This self reflection is so crucial to writers that it's a required part of most MFA programs. Sure, you could accomplish the same thing in a journal and if that is more comfortable for you go for it.
But you're missing out on one key benefit. Other writers. It's a supportive community full of people willing to teach you. From my blog, I've learned the three act structure, how to write a query, and grammar. I've built relationships. And this is where we come back to that dead marketing engine. The keyword is social marketing is social. The relationships you build from the blog-o-sphere can be paramount. You pick up readers but you also meet other people willing to promote you. So keep on blogging. Get those words down. Most of us have days where we cannot work on a novel and even a short story seems daunting. Open a blank post, and say "Working on a novel or even a short story seems daunting today." At least you wrote that sentence.
I've been blogging six years and it's still the best choice I made as an adult.
Do you blog? Leave me a link. I'll drop by.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Big Dreams Blogfest

It's update day for The Big Dreams Blogfest hosted by Misha Gericke and myself. Update Day is the day we all meet to share the progress we've made toward our goals.

My long term goals are to write a million words and sell 500 ebooks a month. To help me with this, I set smaller goals each month.

My Goals for March Were:
Get through a second round of edits on thesis novel (I put this aside).
Sub 2 stories to Woman's World (I wrote and subbed 2 stories but 1 subbed story was from last month & one story from this month remains unedited).
Make Hope Button for Blog
Hit 1000 Twitter followers (This didn't happen but I realized it's hard for me to engage on Twitter because my feed is a giant ad. I'm working on finding readers instead of writers to add to my feed).
Get Mailing List Going & Sign 50 Subscribers (This did not happen and sadly it's probably the most important).
Publish Before Hope Dawned (My cover artist is not responding to me but I did get edits made and sent it to my editor. It should be ready to go once I have a cover).
Write a free short for mailing list (Didn't happen)
Write submission package for So You Think You Can Write (I wrote an outline but I'm missing 2 plot points. I'm 20 pages in, but I won't sub until I have 50 solid pages).
Visit 25 blogs/week (This rarely happened)
Loose 10 lbs. (Actually, I gained weight)

Writing that helps me realize I accomplished a lot in March, although I didn't accomplish everything.

My Goals for April Are:
1. Do Pilates EVERY day.
2. Get off candy. (I've been off Coke-Cola 10 days)
3. Finish a draft of His First Lady (50 pages of this will be sub package for So You Think You Can Write).
4.Get Mailing List Going
5. Sub 2 woman's world stories
6. Get this client edit done
7. Visit 15 blogs/week.

What did you accomplish in March? What are your Goals for April?

Thursday, March 24, 2016

DIY MFA Review: A Civil Contract

Georgette Heyer introduced the Regency era into romance as a category. (Jane Austen and others wrote Regency romance, but they were writing it as contemporary romance while they lived.)  Heyer wrote Regency as historical romance and wrote 50 novels in her lifetime.

A Civil Contract was required reading for my romance classics class. And wow has romance changed since the 60's. Yeah. I did not love this book. It's an arranged marriage between Adam (a Viscount whose father died leaving him with no money and only a name) and Jenny (a rich girl with no title). Jenny gets a title. Adam gets money. Everyone is happy. Almost. Except Adam is in love with Julia. A middle class noble girl, if you will. Her family cannot afford for her to marry a broke guy, but she is not as broke as Adam. But Julia is willing to be broke for Adam. Or so she says. Julia is a drama queen. And Jenny is a sweetheart. Almost too sweet. It's like everything she does is for Adam to the point I felt like slapping her and saying get some pride. But whatever. It takes Adam the entire book to figure out that Jenny genuinely loves him and Julia is a dramaqueen. And when he does? The book ends. Ah. But that might be okay. No, no. This book has to end in the most throw-a-book-against-a-wall moment of all times. Jenny realizes that Adam is annoyed with Julia's behavior but his feelings for her will probably arise again, and while she is not the wife of his dreams, at least she's the wife he shares his life with.

WTF? That's my happy ending? Are you serious?

So what makes this book a classic then?

Well, it was published in 1961. It's been more than 50 years and it's still prompting *a strong emotional reaction*. Although, I'm not sure it's the reaction you want. I will never read this author again (unless I'm required to do so. Then again, I probably wouldn't have read this to begin with if I hadn't been required to).

*Note the words a strong emotional reaction are for me, not you! This is an aha moment for me!*

Monday, March 21, 2016

A-Z Theme Reveal

The #A to Z theme reveal is hosted by A-Z Challenge. And it's the day we all announce what we will be blogging about come April.
And I think you will like my theme. From articles to zeal, I'm going to be talking about how to make money writing. Ha. (I'm not even joking.)

Are you doing A-Z? What's your theme?

Friday, March 18, 2016

Matching Hearts: Writing for Woman's World #5

Okay, first of all, the story this week is super cute! I mean super cute! It was like syrupy sweet dripping off the page. If you haven't checked out Woman's World you may want to do that. In this series I'm breaking down WW stories into plot points in hopes of conquering the style and writing my way to a publication credit and an $800 paycheck! (I did this with novels in 2013 with novels and landed a book deal--it was a crap deal--but I did it).

B: Casey is grabbing her luggage at the airport, when she meets a man at the airport who says that he bag she's holding is his. He's surprised they have the same luggage tag. He bought a lime green one because no one else would have it. She figures out they purchased it at the same store in a small town. (1/6 pattern)

M: They talk about how unlikely it is they both live in the same small town and have never met until now. They are both in Boston visiting family. They part ways not knowing if they will see each other again. Then Casey spots him at the airport returning to Eastport(the small town). He says his flight came in earlier but his luggage didn't and he's hoping his luggage is with her. Both of their luggage come off the carousel together. (Slight more than 4/6)

E: They leave together to begin a tour of Casey showing him around Eastport as he is a newcomer. The tour will begin with a lunch date. (Less than 1/6 which I thought worked really well.)

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Update Day

I'm doing weekly updates of Big Dreams Blogfest to keep me accountable.

Get through a second round of edits on thesis novel (not happening)
Sub 2 stories to Woman's World (I've written two but subbed neither).
Make Hope Button for Blog (Done).
Hit 1000 Twitter followers (I've been bad about this).
Get Mailing List Going & Sign 50 Subscribers (This one too).
Publish Before Hope Dawned(I emailed the cover artist. Will be working on edits).
Write a free short for mailing list(Haven't started).
Write submission package for So You Think You Can Write (I have two concepts but have done nothing toward sub package).
Visit 25 blogs/week (I think I did about half of this).
Loose 10 lbs. (As of Saturday morning, my weigh in day, I was down 2 lbs. But I gained 3 lbs. last week so that is still up 1).

Monday, March 7, 2016


To keep me accountable and make sure I'm working, I've decided to start re-posting my Big Dream Goals on Mondays and document my progress toward each goal.

Goals for March
Get through a second round of edits on thesis novel
Sub 2 stories to Woman's World (I've written 1).
Make Hope Button for Blog
Hit 1000 Twitter followers (I think I've gained 2 new followers).
Get Mailing List Going & Sign 50 Subscribers
Publish Before Hope Dawned
Write a free short for mailing list
Write submission package for So You Think You Can Write (I have two concepts but have done nothing toward sub package).
Visit 25 blogs/week (I did this last week, and this week have visited 5, so 20 to go).
Loose 10 lbs. (I'm actually up 3 pounds, but I'm tracking everything I eat including water to make sure I get enough water and eat better).

And I'm glad I did this, because I didn't realize how lazy I've been with my goals. I will get at it  now.

What are your goals this month? How are you handling working toward them?

Thursday, March 3, 2016

"Where the Heart Is" Writing for Woman's World #4

Okay, so I've read a couple of these shorts that don't fit the pattern. But I ran out of time to blog them and a new episode is out now. I'll try to do an extra post next week where we talk about one of stories that don't follow the plot pattern I've identified.

This week story is a super cute reunion story, and it follows the pattern perfectly.

B: Woman returns to hometown looking for an to "where home really is" and meets a man she knew from high school. (1/6 of the story and in those first few paragraphs you get the MC's name, Cassie. She has an internal conflict, and she sees an old friend from high-school, so you know it's a reunion story).

M: They have coffee together, talk about old times, he admits he regrets losing touch, they reminisce about a shared kiss--her first kiss--and by all accounts flirt. Then he gets a phone call that ends with, "I love you too." (This is 4/6 of the story, and I think the writer did a really good job. She included enough back story to let you know why we care that these two characters have met again, but there is an obvious climax. Someone calls him. It's urgent he takes the call and it ends with "I love you, too." In my opinion, these stories don't always milk the emotional moment so much).

E: He tells Cassie he hopes she's sticking around. And she says it seems like someone needs him now, and he tells her the phone call was his mom. He's single, and they're having lunch. ;) (Again 1/6 and ties the story up nicely)

And remember all of this happens in 800 words or less!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

IWSG: Community

It's that time again. The insecure writer's support group. And the insecure writer is virtually any writer who ever lived. The support group gets one thing right. One thing that writers have really always had but have today in abundance. The keyword here is "group."

Rejection comes. It's part of life, or at least it's part of writing. Failure comes. It's part of life, or at least it's part of writing. But there isn't a stronger community than this one.
I posted some goals in January. I'm not close to meeting most of them. I struggle every day and do what I can. But since I've started blogging again, I'm more optimistic. I feel more connected. My words reach very few. I'm aware of that. But last week, I was reading blogs and commenting. And I came across this blog. The blogger wanted to write for woman's world, but it was new to her. She hadn't heard of it before. She linked to my writing for woman's world series as being especially helpful. And I realized that is what this is all about. She stumbled across my blog one day and found an opportunity she didn't know about. In time, I came across her blog and found that my words had inspired someone. And that is what this is all about, right? So I'll keep chugging away. I will write word after word. It took Leo twenty-five years to get his Oscar, and maybe in that amount of time I'll have my million dollar deal. But until then, I have this community to "lean in" to. We all have this community, and there isn't a stronger one out there. There is no other community in the world where your competitor offers to package your product for free, or you can email a total stranger asking for specific--and maybe time consuming--advice and fully expect and most likely get an answer. A bestseller once called me to discuss marketing strategies for my books. I offered to pay her since she offers coaching services. She told me I didn't need a coach. She said you just need to feel empowered, and I can't give you that. To put this in perspective, it would be like Mark Zuckerberg calling my engineer husband and offering him career advice.

If you're not where you want to be yet, you probably still have things to learn. That's okay. We all do. But you have a community of people who are usually willing to help you with that. Reach out. Lean in. Stay connected. What have you got to lose?