Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Process Of Goal Setting In Writing

What I am going to talk about today is not my idea, and I cannot remember the link to the blog where I encountered it. If anyone reading this knows the link to the blog with the original idea, please let me know so I can credit them. The basic premise was that we can do a better job of setting goals – writing or otherwise – by asking ourselves something referred to as “small questions”.

Essentially, when we start asking ourselves questions we are setting up a “mindmap” for the article, book or project that we are working on. We are attempting to see clearly what is important from our personal point of view, and how that will progress in our project. For me, this method is much easier than just setting down goals, and trying to keep them in perspective, and in a “doable” order.

I see more success when doing this, I think, because I am not focused on each goal per se, but on the bigger picture – what I want to accomplish, and how I want to accomplish it. As I was reading the article that I mentioned above, I realized that this is something that I already do, but that it is in the background of setting up a plan for my projects. Now that I am conscious of this I will move it into the foreground – give it more importance.

What kind of questions do we want to ask ourselves? It depends on the project(s) we are working on. I am almost always working on multiple projects, of varying importance, with varying deadlines. Here I might ask myself the following questions:

1. What projects do I have on board at this moment?

2. Where am I on each project?

3. What are the deadlines for each project?

4. What is the next step for each project?

5. What does my total schedule look like? Where am I going to be able to fit writing time in?

6. Am I getting burned out on one or more projects? If so, what can I do to bring that project back into alignment with my total life, and put some fun back into it?

7. Is it time to ask for help on a project? Is it time to let a project go?

In asking questions about a specific writing project, I might ask myself the following questions:

1. How do I feel about what I have written to date?

2. Will what I have written so far stand on its own legs, or do I need to do some rewriting?

3. Is the storyline hanging together?

4. Are my characters portrayed in a manner that defines each of them clearly?

5. Are my characters interacting in a consistent manner?

6. Am I allowing my characters to evolve?

7. Where do I want the story to go?

8. Where do my characters want the story to go?

9. Is there enough tension in the storyline?

10. How can I best move the storyline forward?

These are small questions that will allow me to move my projects forward in a manner that is consistent, cohesive, and will draw and keep the attention of my readers. Your projects will differ, your questions will differ. Make use of the process, and the questions will begin to flow naturally, as will you projects!

© May 2011 Bonnie Cehovet

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Ever Evolving Bio!

I found out a long time ago that writing my bio was one of the hardest things that I have ever done. I am not one to toot my own horn, so that was problem number one. How do I make myself into a real entity, but remain in the background (which is my preference)? What do I include, what don't I include? Is including my fur people more than most people want to know (or need to know!)?

Then there is the little fact that each venue needs to have a bio that is tweaked for it. There is no such thing, in my world view, as an all purpose bio. As we wander through the social media sites, I think many of us find this to be true. What we put on our Twitter bio's needs to appeal to the audience we are gathering there. What we put on My Space (if we are brave enough to go there) is a whole other story. With Face Book, we have a little more leeway, but we still keep it "in hand". If we join Linked In, we are focusing on our professional qualifications, and professional network connections. This site, more than any other, needs to be kept up to date.

Many of us maintain Internet sites. The bio here will focus on one of two areas - personal, if the site is devoted to our personal interests, or professional, if the site is devoted to our professional projects and interests. Try not to share too much, and to keep a good balance on professional sites between personal and professional information.

Bio's are also an integral part of a blog. If your readers can connect to you visually, and through words, you have gone a long way towards developing a connection with them, and guaranteeing yourself a reader that will follow your blog. Your bio in many ways gives you credibility.

The photo's that go with each of the above venues may differ, also. Or we may choose to use an icon on sites like Twitter and My Space. Just as our bio allows people to get to know us better, and helps to develop a sense of connection between us and those who we connect with in these different venues, our photo/icon does the same thing.

I would advise writing both a short bio, and a more lengthy one. Different venues have different limitations, and require different content. Also, keep your bio "fresh" - make sure that it is up to date, with an up to date photo. I know - after fourteen years I just replaced my icon with a photo. I am already planning on updating that photo!

Bottom line - does your bio reflect who you are? Is it exciting? Is it boring? Is it relevent? You have total control here - present the very best person that you can present!

(c) May 2011 Bonnie Cehovet

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Where Do We Go From Here?

Where do we go from here? There is so much out there about traditional publishing companies versus self-publishing - it really gets confusing. I am still trying to absorb a blog that a friend of mine just posted. They had originally self-published their work - a divination deck. Then they had a very viable offer to take their deck to a traditional publisher, and they accepted the offer. I was thrilled for them, and thrilled that my book was going to be published by the same publisher.

My friend edited their images, at the publishers request, to appeal to a larger audience. The whole framework of the project changed, but my friend was good with that. When their deck and book came out, it was so very beautifully presented, and I just knew that they would be taking off quickly! This was all several months ago, and it has not taken off. It is not in the bookstores that it should be in, and is not getting the promotion from the publisher that it should be getting. My friend put a great deal of time and energy into this project - which has now practically bankrupted them!

To top things off, software (and hardware) was stolen from their office - material that they needed to do their "9-5" work. This has still not been resolved. They are talking about leaving the field that they published in, which I feel would be a shame. They have great insight into the field, and a wonderful product that acts as a tool for empowerment on all levels. My prayers go out to this person ... may there be some justice in life, and may they see the benefits of their work. They have done promotional videos, blog talk radio spots, and created a stunning blog site. This cannot possibly be for nought!

I look at myself, being published by this same publisher. Then I wonder if all publishers are the same. I have seen my galley's, and they look wonderful! But the process has not been an easy one, and I have always felt/known that the brunt of the marketing was on me. Because of this, I feel that self-publishing is going to be my best bet. My publisher has first right of refusal for my next two books. After that - I think that self-publishing is my best bet. (Including publishing through Kindle.)

Where do we go from here? We make the most informed decisions that we can, map out a plan, and follow the plan. Life is getting scary, but I would rather be scared than remain in my little safe place, going nowhere.

(c) May 2011 Bonnie Cehovet

Monday, May 9, 2011

Allowing The Flow

I had hoped to get my WIP finished and edited in April. We are ten days into May and that has not happened. Life interferes! However, I am at a point where I am comfortable allowing life ti interfere. If I see a side issue that I want to follow, I allow myself to do that. Quite often it leads me to new places, and a new understanding of what I am already working on.

I have found that the time I spend on my music connected work not only gives me great joy, but energises me. I like the contacts that I am making, and love listening to the new (to me) music. I often use it as a backdrop while I am working ... especially the instrumental work of jazz saxophonist Charley Langer. Wonderful person, soulful music!

I am actively developing my characters for my WIP ... some of whom are surprising me! One couple that will probably only appear in this book (I intend this book to be the start of a series) are turning out to be very strong people. Strong because of their background, and strong because of their connection with life.

Another character is showing a bit of who I am (all of my characters are amalgums of the people that I know in my life, and people that I have read about) ... a part that again surprises me. Not that the qualities are there, but that I am willing to talk about them.

My bible for this book is growing beyond what I thought that it would be. I have to smile when I think back to the mystery shows that I have watched, where the writer is murdered, and the bible for their work is stolen. I thought this would be maybe a few pages - important pages, but just a few pages. It is close to being a book in and of itself!

I am also in the process of setting up a web-based class, as a prelude to doing webinars and online seminars for my upcoming Tarot book. I want to use the first class, which will be on a topic only tangentially related to my book, to see what I need to practice, what tools I need to be able to use in a stronger fashion. I am lucky, in that I have picked out two individuals that host webinars and classes, and will be scheduling through them. Win/win - they have a seminar or class to present through their company, and I have someone to watch the chatroom and help me through the technical morass.

Next up - finding mystery writer's blogs to follow, and perhaps one or two more writers groups to join. Thank you Google Calendar for being there to keep me straight!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

I Am On Twitter - What Do I Do Now?

Okay, I am on Twitter. I have an account, my pic is up, I am following people, and they are following me. Actually, I used an icon for a long time, but the pic is up now. So ... what is my next move? I want to build my presence, as I have a book coming out this fall. (Yes, I really do. A book on Tarot Birth Cards. My mystery book is still in the "finish writing it, then edit it, then send it off for editing" stage. I do have a couple of leads on good editors, though.)

I see that I have done the number one thing that I needed to do - and that was place a pic on my page, as opposed to an icon. Easier for people to connect with, and a better choice for getting people to take me seriously (and buy my books!). I will replace the pic in a couple of months, but right now it will do. It was professionally done, and looks fairly business like.

My bio is up, and represents me fairly well. I will have to tweak it a bit to get a balance between my Tarot world and my world as an author, but that is an ongoing project.

I have a link to my website, and my website covers both of my worlds - Tarot and writing, so that base is covered. It will evolve as I evolve, and I'm fine with that. A basic site is all I want. Leave the exotic stuff to someone else.

Now, how do I balance my "following/followers" ration. And should there be a ratio? Why can't I let that take care of itself? My thought on this is that I follow people I am interested in. My follow numbers may be greater than the number of people following me - at least until my books come out. The rule of thumb here is to unfollow people who are not following you. For myself, I will continue to follow people who interest me, whether they want to follow me or not.

I need to look at my feed and make sure that I am actually saying something, that I am interacting. I do announce my own blogs as they are written, and I do a lot of retweeting of messages that I consider important. But I also wish people good morning, respond to what they are saying, and send out little updates on what I am doing (and yes, occasionally a diatribe or two!). I think I am good here.

I think that as long as I don't appear to be too closely related to a used care salesman, that I am good to go. I may not address Twitter in as uber-professional manner as some, but to date we get along fine (even when it is acting up and has to be told off).

How are you addressing your Twitter presence?

(c) May 2011 Bonnie Cehovet

How To Get Characters To Interact

You have your plot worked out, and you have defined your  characters . The next step is getting your characters to play nice and interact...