Friday, January 1, 2021

2021 - Thoughts On A Writer's New Year


Today is January 1st, 2021. We are just over two weeks away from inaugurating a new president, and a new way of life for the U.S. Or rather, a return to a more sensible, responsible way of life. The COVID-19 crisis is still going strong here in the U.S., but we do have two vaccines available, and the projections are that by the end of March everyone that wants a shot will have had their first shot. (Both vaccines that are out right now require two shots.) We are looking at opening up businesses again, creating jobs, and opening up our economy.

As writers, we have seen our professional lives impacted in different ways. Large and small scale in-person conferences were canceled, as were venues such as book signings. We were unable to connect with each other except digitally. Whatever each of us learned, we need to take into 2021 and make it part of our professional (and personal) foundation.

While 2021 will present its own challenges, I personally am going to treat it as a "regular" year. What do we do at the beginning of a "regular" writing year? Here are some of the things that I am going to be doing.

Personal Goals:

  • Continue my daily thankfulness blog, where I list at least five things each day that I am thankful for.
  • Block out the hours each day that I can write. (I am still working full time.)
  • Meditate daily (for me this is best done at the beginning of my day).
  • Exercise at least a few minutes each day.
  • Set aside time on a daily basis to read for pleasure.
  • Eat in a healthier manner.
Professional Goals:

  • Set out my writing projects for the year. I want to write 1-2 cozy mysteries, as well as a small Christmas book each year. I would also like to have a half-dozen journals out there, as well as 18-20 page pamphlets on differing topics.
  • Redo my bio.
  • Create a template for the back cover material on my books,
  • Join at least 1-2 professional organizations, keyed towards women, mysteries, and cozy mysteries.
  • Check out writer's software. I am currently learning to use Scrivener, so that will be my go-to software for now.
  • Continue using Grammarly, with an eye to eventually using the professional version. Grammarly and I do not always agree on the "state of the state"!
  • Since I am going to continue self-publishing, I will need to look deeper into having my books professionally edited.
  • Look into writing articles for magazines, and entering writing contests.
Your lists will be different because they will be tailored to your life and your lifestyle. I do feel that it behooves all of us to do a deep dive into what we would like to accomplish during the next year so that we can move on to the second step - how we are going to accomplish the goals we are setting.

Below are a few previous blogs that may be of some help in starting out your New Year:

  • https://www.blogger.com/blog/post/edit/1380693857976784266/4277007376417915275
  • https://www.blogger.com/blog/post/edit/1380693857976784266/2103853801358826129
  • https://www.blogger.com/blog/post/edit/1380693857976784266/2714324547621901620
  • https://www.blogger.com/blog/post/edit/1380693857976784266/8694947898499657310
January 2021 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written consent from the author,

 

Monday, December 7, 2020

An End To 2020 - What Do We Take With Us, What Do We Leave Behind

 


We are one week into December of 2020. It is time to think about how to properly say goodbye to this roller-coaster of a year. The politics, the health crisis, the truths, the lies ... they are all part of reality for every one of us. Cussing the year out is not going to do us any good. Whining is not going to do us any good. Here are some things that we might want to consider:

  • Going into 2020 we had no idea that we were going to face a health crisis of global, pandemic proportions.
  • We had no idea that the truth of the health crisis would be hidden from us.
  • We had no idea that we would be facing empty shelves in our supermarkets. That we would be out of TP, napkins, flour and so many other essential items.
  • We had no idea that hospitals would be innundated with desperately ill people. 
  • We had no idea that our mortuaries would be over-run, and that bodies would be stacked in refrigerator trucks.
  • We had no idea that we would be locked out of the nursing homes that our family members were in.
  • We had no idea of the concept of wearing masks, social distancing, of limited capacity in our stores, of limited capacity for socializing anywhere. 
  • We were not able to celebrate holidays with our families.
  • We could not visit family members that were seriously ill in the hospital, and that essentially died alone.
  • We could not celebrate weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, or other social events.
  • Traveling became questionalbe.
  • People began to work from home. 
  • Distant schooling became (somewhat) the norm.
  • We did more online ordering.
  •  Sporting events were cancelled, and when they began again, it was with a limitied (or no) spectator audience.
  •  Many people suddenly found themselves unemployed.


But we might also want to consider: 

  • Many businesses and sports groups adjusted their ability to produce, and they helped bring to the market necessary things like masks, hand sanitizer and breathing machines,
  • Working from home appears to be the way to go in the future.
  • The home delivery business is booming ... and appreciated.
  • Personal shoppers are becoming a way of life in supermarkets.
  • Vaccines are being developed to help deal with the COVID virus.
  • The US elections are over, and we look to be entering a new era of responsibility and attention to the needs of the people. 

Going into 2021, we want to remember to give thanks for the lessons of 2020, and that we survived the year. We saw the worst in people, now we want to see the best in people. 

What are you releasing from 2020? What are you taking into 2021 to set the foundation for the year? How is this affecting your writing? Are you self-published, or do you work with a publisher? If you work with a publisher, are they changing how they do business due to the current financial climate? 

Wishing you a strong end to 2020, and a strong beginning to 2021!


(c) December 2020 Bonnie Cehovet

Reproduction prohibited without written permission from the author. 




Sunday, November 22, 2020

How Has 2020 Been Treating You?


How has 2020 been treating you as a writer? With the pandemic in full force globally, and politics raging here in the U.S., it has been a bit difficult to focus on writing projects. At least it has been for me. I write two monthly professional newsletters, do the occasional blog, and the occasional review, and have two writing projects in mind - one of which I am actually working on, and should have up on Amazon by the end of the year. I had hoped to have a short, book-length cozy mystery out for Christmas, but that is;t going to happen. I will write one in December of this year, but it won't be published until November of 2021. I will do that each year - write a short Christmas-oriented mystery to be published in the coming year.  

For those of us that self-publish, that venue is still available. For those that had books being developed by publishing companies, that might be another story. The pressure around us can easily lead to writer's block, loss of productivity, frustration, and anxiety. We may be dealing with working from home (unless we already worked from home, as I do). We may be dealing with other family members being home, and their energy interrupting our focus on work. We may be dealing with family crisis due to COVID-19. We may simply be frustrated at not being able to get a haircut, to have dinner out, or go see a show. 

We cannot travel for research, so we have to depend on the Internet. Sometimes we cannot keep our daily routines. We are not able to meet people, to interact, to have the experiences that feed our creative nature. Do we want to write about the pandemic? Personally, I do not. I may reference it in stories and books years from now, but the shock is too fresh for me to want to write about the pandemic while it is happening.

Entering 2021 we will see multiple vaccines becoming available for COVID-19. We see a new administration in the White House here in the U.S., and we see ourselves adapting to a "new normal". Whatever that "new normal" is, we will experience it and write about it. The year 2020 hit everyone hard - we need to incorporate its lessons, reprioritize our lives, and move forward.

(c) November 2020 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission from the author.



 

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Sustaining Yourself As A Writer

 


What can we do to sustain ourselves as writers? This is a real question right now, as we deal with outside influences such as the current pandemic and a make or break election for our country. We need to sustain ourselves as individuals, to keep a balance with all things in life, and to be our own self-support. We need to have a passion for writing, and we need to write consistently. 

What can we do to keep ourselves motivated, and keep the words flowing?

  • Start writing - start the words flowing. We can go back and fine-tune them, but we need to have something to fine-tune.  
  • Use a writing prompt. This can be something that you make up yourself, or you can find them on the Internet. If you are in a writing group, you can share prompts with each other,
  • Keep a journal - any kind of journal. When you are not thinking about what words need to go next, amazing ideas pop out unannounced!
  • Free-write - set a time for a specific amount of time (you get to choose how much time you want to write), set a timer, and start writing. Keep writing until the timer goes off. It doesn' have to make sense - just write!
  • Don't even try to be perfect on your first (or even second) draft. You will end up with something that is perfectly spelled and punctuated - and boring as all get out!
  • Write every day. Be consistent.
  • Set aside time to read something that interests you.
  • Set up a space that is conducive to writing. The desk in my office is angled to face the door, which faces the living room. Looking up occasionally is a good way to ground and center myself. And to keep track of whatever my cats might be doing!
  • Interact with other writers - whether it is in person, or online.
  • Respect your writing - treat it as your job, because it is. Yes, it is also your passion, but that passion needs to support you!
  • Set small, achievable goals.
Wishing you all great success with your writing!

(c) November 2020 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission from the author.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Should You Change Your Kindle Keywords?

 


Let's look at what Kindle keywords are. They are the keywords that you enter into the seven boxes on your KDP dashboard when uploading your book. They can be found just under the Publishing Rights section. These seven words are of utmost importance - this is what Amazon uses to index your book in the Kindle Store. You want your book to be able to be found, then you want people to purchase it. In other words - you want your book to be relevant. Side note: the keywords in your book's sub-title also carry great weight.

Keywords that are specific to your book will help place it higher in ranking (and make it easier to see). How do you select those keywords? One thing that you can do is use a keyword generator. Or you can simply sit down and write out a list of phrases that apply to the content of your book. Then weed out the ones that you do not think people would use in a search.  

How can you check on how competitive (strong) your keywords are? Go to https://kindlepreneur.com/amazon-kdp-sales-rank-calculator/, and see how their sales ranking converts into sales per day. This is the site of Dave Chesson, a Kindlepreneur who has a ton of information at the ready to help you position yourself to make sales.

Did you know that there are certain keywords that you should avoid? You can find out all about them here

So now you have your keywords. If you are like me, you thought that once you had your book up on Amazon, and your keywords added, that you were good for life. Not so! Every few months you should go back into your keywords and change them up. What happens when you do this is that Amazon reindexes you, and you have the ability to draw in new sales.

Small changes bring in big results!

(c) September 2020 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission from the author.









Friday, July 17, 2020

New Works In Progress (WIP)


I have been focused for several months now on making changes within my home. I have to say, I am very pleased with how everything is coming together! Now I can get back into my writing, which has been on the back burner all these months. Me being me, I take a lot of "side trips". I like to think of it as seizing opportunities as they appear. Whatever it is, it works for me.

My latest side trip happened when I was looking for a graphic for this article. I came upon a book for writers that was focused on journaling. Well, of course, I had to take a moment or two and order it!

I have been looking at two basic areas for writing that will be out this year (2020) - creating one or two journals and getting them up on Amazon, and writing a Christmas book. I have a couple of really good thoughts for themes for the journals, and the Christmas story has already started writing itself inside my head.

I am going to seriously put Scrivener software to use, so I went over the introductory material, and am winding my way through the videos. I am really looking forward to using the "notes" function so that I don't shoot myself in the foot with the storyline and character arcs.  

My sister shared information on creating journals. The author is Alessandro Zamboni, and he has a product called Journals Empire 2 that walks us through the process of choosing a theme for a journal, creating it, and marketing it. You can find it at  Journals Empire 2  I also purchased some really great journaling templates from Mr. Zamboni, and hope to make best use of them. This is a totally new endeavor for me! 

I have been on a roll, so I followed another link that my sister sent me - a link to software entitled KDSPY (KDSPY. This is definitely a writer's best friend! It shows revenue metrics, keywords, and more! You can keep track of how well you are doing, as well as check out revenue and keywords for other authors in your genre. You can also see how many books you need to sell within a 24 hour period to rank in the top 20 of your genre. Hint: Keywords are useful when you place your book on Amazon, but they are also useful in writing ads!

I am looking forward to putting all of this information to good use!

(c) July 2020 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission of the author.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

The Post Pandemic Writer's World


As a writer, how are you planning on entering the post-pandemic era? You're just going to continue writing? Really?  I think that you will find that you have changed - that your perspectives on life have changed. As your perspectives change, so will your character's perspectives, their needs, and their challenges. The world that you live in has changed drastically, and so will the world your characters live in.

It doesn't matter whether your characters are living in our current time, or if your story is placed several years back. As writers, we allow the story to flow through us. But we still have a basic way of looking at things that the current pandemic has altered. We are living in a world of face masks, isolating at home, restaurants that, when they open, will be only 50% capacity, with wait-staff wearing face masks. Schools are closed, with learning done on a digital basis. We may have a postal service that we cannot recognize. More people may be working from home, many people will remain out of work. There will be a mandatory six-foot social distancing, no handshaking, and massive use of hand sanitizer.

Travel may or may not be restricted, airlines will have a whole new set of rules, and hotels/motels may not offer the amenities that they now offer. Many businesses, both small and large, will be closing, This is the background against which we are writing our stories. Can we step away from that background and feel comfortable writing stories based in the past - even in the recent past?    

What I am doing is journaling - a little bit each day - to see where I am in life, and how I am handling all of these changes. This is how I stay grounded and centered, and get a better perspective on what I need to work on personally. As I grow as a person, my hope is that I will grow as a writer. 

It is hard for any of us to be creative in difficult times. When our creative efforts are focused on finding toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and face masks, writing takes a bit of a back seat. But we need to keep our lives as normal as possible, and for writers that means that we need to continue to write. Continue to write, continue to edit, continue to publish, continue to promote. This is who we are!


(c) May 2020 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission from the author.

2021 - Thoughts On A Writer's New Year

Today is January 1st, 2021. We are just over two weeks away from inaugurating a new president, and a new way of life for the U.S. Or rather,...