Monday, February 19, 2018

Scheduling Blog Topics

Blogging has always been a chore for me - even when I enjoy doing it. I make a committment - as I have with this blog, and my flash fiction blog - and then find it difficult to follow through. My flash fiction blog is very spur of the moment, and I like that. It is what it needs to be. Looking back over the topics that I have covered here on my author's blog - they are all over the board! I am not happy with myself over that.

So I have decided to plan ahead - to pick topics that fit together, that make some kind of sense, and schedule them together. I am going to try and take a different theme each month, and develop content around that.

I started this blog to develop a following for my books, and I have to say that I have not done a good job at all. I am going to focus on my mystery writing, and target two audiences - other mystery writers, and readers of cozy mysteries. 

I am looking at defining a social media presence as a mystery writer, increasing my newsletter subscribers, and engaging my target audience. Publishing my blog consistently will increase traffic for each post. Adding links to my newsletter sign-up and to my personal/professional site will allow my target audience toget to know me a bit better.

Keeping to a set schedule for publishing my blogs will also allow me to see when and where I can use teasers for my upcoming work - whether it is a mystery novel, or a shorter book/pamphlet on a topic of general interest.   

Now I have an idea of where I want to go with this, and how to get there. I plan on using a calender to list blog topics, as well as teasers for upcoming work. I will also be able to look at holidays, and see how I can tie them into my work. 

Onward and upward!

You can sign up for my newsletter here: newsletter.

You can view the author's section of my site here: author's site.

(c) February 2018 Bonnie Cehovet

Monday, February 12, 2018

Blogging For Writer's

Blogging is a push button for me. I like to blog, because I like to get information out there, I like to keep my name known, and I like to promote my work. What I don't like is connecting to other writer's blogs, doing promotions with other writers, and the whole "blogathon" concept. For other people that may work - for me it does not.

So why do I encourage  blogging for writers? Because it is a way to help with promoting and marketing for our work - starting with our WIP's. What will make writers successful bloggers? Taking the content on their blog seriously - paying as much atention to it as they do to their WIP's. Chosing meaningful topics, and addressing them in a meaningful manner. 

Be creative! The content from your blog can also be used in other places. It can be used as a starting point for an article on another social media site, such as LinkedIn. You can write a series of blogs on the same topic, and publish them as a book (or booklet), or use them as a freebie for a sign-up for your newsletter. (Yes, we need to have newsletters too!)

Know the audience that you are writing for, and make it interesting for them. Make them want to follow your blog! Speaking for myself, my audience is those of all ages interested in cozy mysteries, recipies, and cats. Having said that, I do follow a few other authors blogs, authors that I respect and can learn something from. My hope is that as I get better at blogging, other authors will decide to follow me too.

Some of the things that need to be taken into consideration when blogging are consistency (how frequently you decide to blog), blog content that is related (with strong headlines that show what the content is all about), your bio (which needs to reflect both you and your writing), and whether or not you are going to allow comments (and if you do, how you are going to moderate them).

The length of the content on your blog is up to you. IMHO, longer blogs are better. Also, use images. They draw attention, and can be usd to set the mood for a particular blog. 

Have fun with this! You will be blogging as long as you are writing!

(c) February 2018 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission of the author. 

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Please Pass The Guilt

I am currently rereading a book that I dearly love - "Please Pass The Guilt", a Nero Wolfe novel by Rex Stout. Due to lack of space where I was living, it had been in storage for eighteen years. It has a musty smell to it, and I had to scotch tape the cover where it was ripped. It has a permanent place on my bookshelves, along with books by authors such as Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Dorothy L. Sayers, Laurie R. King, Sue Grafton, Mary Higgens Clark,  and Erle Stanley Gardner.

Each of these authors has gifted us with not only unforgettable stories, but with unforgettable characters. I didn't have to read past page one to be back in the time of Archie Goodwin, Nero Wolfe, and the unforgettable Fritz. I could tell you how the house was laid out, where the orchids were, how the office was arranged, and that Nero Wolfe rarely, if ever, left the house. And that, for the most part, their finances needed to be augmented by a client or two.  

These are more than just pleasant memories for me, and this is more than a trip down memory lane. In reading these stories,  in remembering these stories, I find the bar that I need to set for myself for my stories. I need to create settings that are believable and memorable. I need to create characters that stand on their own, that interact well with other characters, and that lend themselves to a series. I want my stories to be stories that are read over and over again, for pure pleasure.

In the meantime, I will be going through boxes of books that are packed in my guest bedroom, set aside the ones that I am, keeping, and box up the ones that I will either not read again, or that no longer hold my interest. Yes, I did this before I moved here a little over two years ago. I did this again after I had been here for almost a year. And this may not be my last time, but I am fine tuning what I have around me book wise, so that what I surround myself with supports me. 

My questions to you would be: "What are you reading? What books are you surrounding yourself with? Do these book support who you are now, and what your current goals are?"

(c) February 2018 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Editing - First Impressions Count!

Why do we edit? Is it simply to check spelling and grammar, or are we thinking ahead to how our work will look to others? As writers, we need to present our work in the best possible fashion, whether we are trying to get past the gatekeepers at publishing companies, or self-publish. 

We can make the decision to edit our own work (which I do), or we can choose to hire out the editing. (If we are working with a publisher, we will probably do a quick edit before sending our manuscript, but the final editing will be done by the publishing company.) Editing does check for spelling and grammar errors,  but it also checks for continuity of thought in your work. 

Tools that we need to do a good editing job include the spell check build into whatever word processing program we are using, a copy of The Chicago Manuel of Style, a copy of the Associated Press Stylebook, a dictionary and a thesaurus.

Your initial editing will be done digitally. Then it pays to print out your work, preferrably single spaced, and edit line by line manually. By doing this you will pick up errors that flew by you in the digital copy. You might want to edit and print at least twice. To save paper, take the copy from the first print editing and use the backside to print the second print editing.  

Watch for the small things, like not italicising internal dialogue in a book. Look for words that are showing up repetitively. Look for words that are redundant. How much of your writing is in the passive tense? Your readers will soon be bored if there is no action going on!

Remember that you are the author - in the editing process you can change your mind about a whole lot of things in your story. Just be sure to make a list of these changes,  that you can make sure that your story stays consistent. 

From time to time, I am at a loss for a word, or phrase. (I call these senior moments!) I will put in a "placer" word or phrase, knowing that eventually I will remember the word (or phrase) that I wanted to say. In editing, make sure that these places words/phrases are actually replaced with the correct word/phrase! That would be one huge, embarrassing mistake! 

It is also a good idea to check for overuse of things like exclamation points (I am guilty of this), and ellipses (I a guilty of this too!). 

These are all things that I do when editing my work. Other people may do things differently. We are all working towards a common goal - writing that looks professional, and reads smoothly!

(c) January 2018 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission from the author.    

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Writing A Better Newsletter

I have done newsletters on and off over the years. Right now I am developing a newsletter that will, hopefully, help me promote my writing. I send it out on a monthly basis, and tweak it as I get feedback. (Many thanks to my friend Jamie Morris for her wonderful suggestions!)

I am always looking for ways to ramp up my newsetter. I do have the target audience - people who read my work, and other authors. I try to vary the content enough to hold the attention of my newsletter audience. (I was aghast to find out that having 10% of those that received my newsletter actually opening it was a good percentage! Note to self - write better subject lines!)

I include links to writing related articles, blogs, and tools that have crossed my path. From time to time I will include links to other authors whose work I admire. I also include links to books that I already have out there, and snippets from my WIP (thank you Jamie for this suggestion!).
Things that we can all do to make our newsletters better are:
  1. Keep our intended audience in mind when pulling the newsletter together.
  2. Create an editorial calender. For me, since my newsletter goes out monthly, that would be creating a list of twelve topics that I would like to address. the months that have major holidays I cheat, and use the holiday to base my newsletter around.
  3. Format the newsletter to look professional.
  4. Use an professional e-mail sender, such as Mail Chimp.
  5. Make you newsletter easy to scan, with bold headlines. People won't read your newsletter unless they see something that interests them.
  6.  Give your readers information (or links to information) they can actually use!
  7. Include links to your previous work - I have links to four of my books at the end of my newsletter.
  8. Include a pic of yourself, so that your readers can relate to you on a personal level.
  9. Be consistent - don't ramble!
  10. Make sure your readers can opt out easily if they want to.
  11. Ad images to create interest.
  12. Use a logo and tagline that will brand you for your readers.
  13. Include links to your professional site, as well as your social media sites.
  14. Check your newsletter before you send it, checking for spelling, grammar, and consistent photo size. 
(c) January 2018 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission from the author.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Character Driven vrs Plot Driven - Yikes!

Good question - does it really matter if a story is character driven or plot driven? For me, the answer is easy - I want to write a series of cozy mysteries based around the same characters, so my stories will be character driven. But ... they also have to have an interesting plot to drive the story line and hold the readers interest. Each writer needs to determine for themselves where the balance is between character and plot in their stories. 

Every writer will have a natural preference - a way in which they prefer to tell their stories. How can a writer tell what their preference is if they really are not sure?  Some things to think about are:

Character Driven Stories:

1. The story is based around one or more characters.
2. The author creates the world of the story, but the characters control their own actions within that world.
3. The focus is on the internal changes that the characters experience.
4. The reader becomes very involved with the characters, what makes them tick, their attitudes, and what is behind their actions. The layers of each characters persona becomes evident as the story evolves.
5. The ending of the story is unpredictable.

Plot Driven Stories:

1. The story is based around events.
2. The focus is on ideas, rather than people.
3. There is a clear end goal.
4. Characters are making quick decisions that move the plot forward - there is not a lot of focus on developing the characters themselves.
5. The development of the characters is a backdrop to the plot itself.

Have fun with this!

(c) January 2018 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission of the author.

Monday, January 8, 2018

The Art Of Writing Prompts

I love writing prompts! They do so much to expand our horizons as writers. Really? Yes, really! Why is this?

1. They act as a kick start to creativity.
2. It is a great way to learn to barnstorm ideas.
3. You can use many things as prompts - images, single words, phrases, themes ... whatever works as a focus mechanism.
4. The material that comes from writing prompts can take on a life of its own!
5. Writing prompts, and sharing what we write, helps us connect with our writing community.

Here are some sites to play with:

I am going to be including a writing prompt in my monthly newsletter from now on. Here are a few to get started with:

1. Use the word "Mother" as a focal point.
2. Use the word "Fury" as a focal point.
3. Picture a door, and write about what you might find on the other side.
4. Focus on "Death", nad how it has affected you personally.
5. What does stress feel like to you?

Don't stop and think ... just write! If you want, set a timer for five or ten minutes, or for however long you want to write. Whatever you do ... just write!

(c) January 2018 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without writen permission of the author. 

Scheduling Blog Topics

Blogging has always been a chore for me - even when I enjoy doing it. I make a committment - as I have with this blog, and my flash fic...