Monday, December 17, 2012

Surviving the Holidays


It has been a relatively short journey for me to get "Surviving t he Holidays - Taking Charge of Your Life" out there. For those that have been following this blog, you will know that my initial choice was to publish on Smashwords. I wanted to have my book out there, in multiple formats, with maximum availability. I still feel that Smashwords is a viable option, that they are well set up, and not that difficult a maze to make it through. My problem was that I am not good at formatting. Note: Mark Coker's instructions are excellent ... it was me that could not implement them. That, and I never was ab le to get a copy of "Mark's List", the list of Smashwords author's that will format for a reasonable fee. I did have a friend offer to format for me, but I had to look at the fact that she is incredibly busy with her own work, and I want this book to be the beginning of a series.

So ... I made the decision to take my work off of Smashwords, and put it up on Kindle, through their KDP program (a program that I swore never to use!). Largely because I already had a well formatted file, I was able to get my work up within twelve hours. Now I can make use of the KDP info that my sister headed me over to, and start promoting! For me,  this is a wonderful way to end the old year, and start out the new year. Hopefully in early January I will have my next book up - one on body/mind/spirit balance, and following one's life path with authority.

I do have two blogs that I would like to share this week - Spunk One A Stick's "People Skills For Writer's" (a heads up on her next book), and Monica Crowe's "Four Marketing Tips For The New Year".

Find out more about "Surviving the Holidays - Taking Charge of Your Life". If you like what you see, please "like" my book!

(c) December 2012 Bonnie Cehovet


Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Writer's Life

 

Writing is certainly an interesting occupation! My first two books were compilations - one was for my Tarot deck and book reviews, another was for my Tarot interviews. Then I did an e-book on women in Tarot. These were all independent endeavors, through Lulu and Create Space. Then I approached Schiffer Publishing with an idea for a book ... and it was accepted! That was an amazing process ... one that I would have never made it through without the extreme patience of my editor, Dinah Roseberry! Then I decided to present a second idea to Schiffer Publishing, and that was accepted! I was totally elated both times ... I never expected either book to get off the ground with a brick and mortar publisher. Having gone through the process once,  this second time is a lot easier.

This am I got an e-mail from the marketing department at Schiffer, detailing the marketing process (my next book will be out in spring/summer of 2013). I am still in awe of the fact that  this is my work out there! This e-mail really made my day!

Then there is the ongoing process with my e-book on Smashwords. Still having formatting issues, although now we are down to the files that are related tot he table of contents. Also, I have still not been able to get hold of "Mark's List" - the Smashword's author's that offer formatting for a fee. Giving up on this one! I will be giving this one more go this coming Saturday ... if that fails, I have a friend who has offered to format for me, for a fee. I am amazed at the offer, as she is very busy both creating and promoting her own work. One way or another, my book is getting out on Smashwords! LOL Very determined Cappie here. It is a holiday based e-book (on surviving the holidays), so it is really too late for this year, but it is part of a series, so I will find some way to get a few sales.

I still have a mystery WIP, which seems to be taking a back seat right now. It will find its proper time! Then a friend and I are in the visioning stage of getting a self-empowerment book out there. We don't know how it will be published yet, but we are excited about it! And no, I am not going to talk about the focus just yet! 

Sometime in January or early February I should have an e-book up on Kindle. Maybe even through the KDP program, although I am not too sure about that yet! This one is also a self-help book - a kick starter for the new year!

I ran across an article this am that I would like to share. It presents a three step process for doing keyword research (a huge part of getting our work to the attention of targeted readers). You can read it here - A 3-Step Process For Painless Keyword Research

Off to do one of my favorite things - write my music blog for the week!

(c) December 2012 Bonnie Cehovet

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Regrouping!


After several semi-successful tries, I have decided in the name of sanity to have my e-book for Smashwords formatted for me. It will cost a bit, yes (not too much), but it will free up my time. The "Smashwords Style Guide", by Mark Coker, is an excellent book. Very well written, and easy to follow ... but I am not a techie! So it will take me a bit longer to get my book out there - but it will be formatted as it should be, for all of the Smashwords venues. Well worth the wait.

Interesting little jabs going on between Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com - something to keep abreast of for Indie authors! Barnes & Noble vrs Amazon.com

Then there is the Indie revolution - Indie Revolution 


Still working on my site - creating a landing page that will give site visitors  the option of jumping to my Tarot work or my writing, and creating a sales page for my e-book series. I also need to revamp my bio away from Tarot and towards writing. That will be a work in progress until I have a few non-Tarot books out there. 

Next week I will be looking at holiday gifts for the writer in your world ... or for you! In January I will be looking at setting goals for the new year, and at writing seminars and workshops, as well as the pros and cons of joining a writer's organization. 

Small steps take us continually forward to where we want to go!

(c) December 2012 Bonnie Cehovet




Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Almost There!

I am almost there with my first self-help eBook. It is written, and edited. The first in a series of self-help books, this one is on maintaining ones sanity during the holidays. Once I had the format down on how I wanted to present the information, the writing went quickly.

Many thanks to Canadian artist Pamela Steele, who created the cover for me. A task way beyond my abilities, she did a fantastic job! The imagery accurately reflects the intention of this small (17,040 word) book – that we maintain control of our lives during the craziest time of the year, when demands far exceed our time and other resources.

I have the short blurb (a description for the back of the book) and the long blurb (for the sales page) ready to go. Tomorrow I will be formatting the book and the blurbs, and getting them up on Smashwords. Then I will need to create a separate page on my site to promote it. At the same time, I think I will separate my Tarot work from my other writing, so that you can move to different sections right from the home page.

I am also looking at which categories are best to publish and promote this series in, and at keywords. Then I need to look at what kind of posts I want to make on the social networking sites, so that people aren't seeing and hearing the same thing day after day.

I am also looking at where I want to see this series go, and in what sequence. One book a quarter, for as long as I can come up with fresh ideas. As long as people want to improve themselves, I think there will be fresh ideas!

I love the process of writing, and am beginning to tune in more to the process of publishing, and e-publishing. Whatever your passion is … follow it!

© November 2012 Bonnie Cehovet

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

So Much Info ... So Little Time!

I cannot believe the amount of very cool information that has come my way this week! Let's start out with a link that my sister, Becky Lundin, sent me, from marketer Tiffany Dow: Google Author Tags. This is a really great concept, basically creating a two way link between an author's blog and their Google + page. It is not too difficult to impliment, and creates a sense of "authority" when the author shows up in a Google search by placing their photo tot he left hand side of their link. Here are a couple of other links that may help you to understand this process: Adding the Rel=Author To Wordpress, and How To Impliment rel=author For Enhanced Search Results.

This is a serious article, written with a sense of humor. I came close to falling out of my chair laughing at mistake number ten! 15 Word Press User Errors That Make You Look SIlly (Infographic).

This next link is from Rodney Holt, founder of Concept Visual Inc.. Rod was the presenter of the first (and only, so far!) Google Hangout that I have ever attended. He is bright, asks the right questions, has a great sense of humor ... and ... of importance to us authors ... his company does an incredible job of creating promotion packages for books. His packages include a video book trailer, book cover,exclusive author interviews, enhanced SEO, and increased visibility of Twitter, Facebook, and Linked In, and exposure on his author interview show. His latest package can be seen here: Concept Visual Special. Check Rod out!

Last, but not least, a few words on a really incredible e-book by Shelley Hitz - Marketing Your Book On Amazon - 21 Things You Can Easily Do For Free To Get More Exposure and Sales. Well written, with step by step instructions on what to do, when, and where. The sections on the Amazon sales page, and the Author Profile page were areas that I needed to "up". Wonderful reference material here!

November 2012 Bonnie Cehovet

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Marketing Your Book On Amazon
Author: Shelley Hitz
Independently Published
Kindle Edition
2012

This is an amazing book that is targeted specifically at promoting books on Amazon.com. Writing a book is the first step, getting your book published is the second step. Then comes the marketing … at which point many authors throw up their hands, or drop back ten and punt. Neither strategy will get your book out to the intended audience. Hitz takes the reader through a step by step process, making best use of the marketing strategies available on Amazon.com.

The book is written in a manner that anyone can follow, yet you never feel the material has been “dumbed down”. Written for authors that have previously been published, as well as authors new to the publishing game, Hitz lists the key areas to focus on, and goes through a step by step process to get the most out of them. She addresses making best use of your Amazon sales page, choosing the correct categories for your book, working with Author Central, adding your books to Author Central, changing your book categories for print books, changing your book categories for Kindle e-books, linking print and e-books, adding search keywords, adding tags, keeping an updated Author Profile, posting reviews on your sales page, updating your Amazon public profile (I would have never thought of this!), adding extras through Shelfari, working with the Amazon Associate program, digitally autographing your Kindle e-books (This was news to me!), promoting your book via social media, promoting your book with KDP select, and a nifty post publication checklist that I printed out and am going to have laminated!

I am very excited about the information presented here, and intend to keep it close by my side!

Bonus material is also included: free downloadable templates, and the report “200+ Free Book Marketing and Author Tools”, and a video tutorial.

© November 2012 Bonnie Cehovet

Bonnie Cehovet – Google +

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Promoting e-Books

I am over half-way through a short (approximate 20,000 word) book on surviving the holidays. It is going up through Smashwords as an e-book. Now I have to think about howto promote this book, taking into consideration that this is the first in a series of self-help books that I plan to put out there. Simple thought process here - if people like one thing that I write, it is in my best interest to offer them other things to read too!

That much I am sure of. The marketing itself - that I am not sure of. I am working (at least with my first book) with an almost non-existent promotional budget. But more than budget, I am thinking about where to market to reach my target audience - women of all ages that are interested in being the best that they can be. This is often a hard things to do, as by nature women tend to put others first. Setting that aside for a moment, what do I need to know about marketing an e-book?

I have defined my target audience, now I am trying to develop a written marketing plan. I could choose to go with Kindle's KDP program, but I am not going to, for a variety of reasons - the main one being that it limits me to promoting through that program for a specific period of time. Multiple streams of income sounds better to me. Things that I will do include creating a page for my book on Facebook, creating a page for my book on my personal site, and chatting it up on Facebook, Twitter, and Google +. I will also either have a book trailer done, or create a short animated video to put upon my site, and on you tube. I will be contacting other authors in the same self-help genre, and ask if they would review my book, if I were to send it to them. And I will have a give-away, as the book should be up by the end of November (I can push it for the holidays). I may also put out a free sample chapter from the book.

What else do I "not" intend to do? I do not intend to do any "blog a thon" activity, nor do I intend to do guest posts. These are time consuming activities, if done correctly, and they would not make me happy!

One more thing that I am considering is having a book launch party - or, rather, a book launch cyber party! I have friends with confetti and glitter that will join in ... that would be fun!

Off to do some more thinking!

(c) November 2012 Bonnie Cehovet

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Face Book Interest Lists

My sister shared an article with me today, which focused on something new (or perhaps just new to me) that Face Book has going on – Interest Lists. Don’t roll your eyes at me! This is not just another way to waste spend more time on Face Book. What prompted me to check it out was that creating an Interest List could help me, as a self-published author, bring attention to my author page! No, I didn’t have an author page up either! I now have an author page, and an Interest List. By the way … I also have a book page … and have had since my book came out! Go me!

Here is the link to a great article on Face Book author pages - http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2011/02/facebook-for-authors-how-to-get-started.html , and here is the link to creating one yourself - https://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php .

I found it interesting when I read in this article that only 10-16% of the followers of any Face Book page are seeing the posts. With Interest Lists we can sort similar people and brands into separate feeds, making their posts easier to access. We can subscribe to other peoples lists, and they can subscribe to ours. End result – we drive traffic to our page.

Just in case you might want to like my Author page, here it is: https://www.facebook.com/BonnieCehovetAuthor . And my book page: https://www.facebook.com/TarotBirthCardsandYou. Send me yours, and I will return the favor!

© October 2012 Bonnie Cehovet

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

e-Book Series

My sister and I have been looking at writing e-books – specifically, at writing a series of short e-books on specific topics. (For me, this would be in addition to any WIP I have going on, which would involve the cozy mystery genre.) To bring in a steady income, it is advised to have more than one book out there, so that someone who purchases one of your books, and likes it, has an option to purchase another one. Realistically, this will happen over time.

I also found it interesting that the “gurus” are presenting three basic ways in which the content of such e-books can be obtained: (1) write it yourself, (2) hire it out (give someone a topic and a rough outline, and let them write it), or (3) use content that is in the public domain. I am a writer – I write my own material! Period! I am not putting someone else’s material up under my name (nor would I write the material for someone else – I would be paid a one-time fee, and they would be continuing to make money), and I am not going near public domain and possible copyright infringement issues. I do not see how anyone can seriously suggest anything other than writing your own material. Okay – rant over!

What I have decided to do is put up a short e-book (approximately 20,000 to 30,000 words) every quarter. These will be self-help books by nature, and will co-ordinate with each other. Someone who buys one book will be interested in the topic of future books. Once I get a backlog up, someone who buys a current e-book will be able to purchase past e-books and look forward to purchasing future e-books. All of my e-books will list both previous books, and the topic of the next book.

I am not going to promote heavily, but my sister has come across some really great material along this line. One thought was to purchase your own e-book, and at the same time purchase one of the best-selling e-books that are along the same topic. In that way, you will be listed in the section “People who purchased this book also purchased …”. Incredible promo for very little money!

Another thing that my sister came across was contacting the authors of the best-selling e-books on your topic, and asking them if they would be willing to review your book. At the same time, you offer to send them your e-book for free. Combine this with getting friends and contacts of your own to do reviews, and I think you have a plan!

I am really happy that I expanded my business plan to include short e-books on specific topics. It gives me a break from working on my WIP, allows me to research a new topic, and to see results in a very short time. By results, I am referring to my book being up for purchase, not that I think I will have a ton of people immediately purchasing it!

Lots to think about here!

© October 2012 Bonnie Cehovet

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

e-Book Topics

Welcome to the world of e-books! Like myself, many of my friends are working on a shorter e-book project, while at the same time working on a (usually) longer major book project. Why do we do this? For me, is gives me short breaks from working on my WIP, allows me to research new material (which for me is fun!), and will hopefully bring in a bit of extra money.>p> Sooooooo … how do we go about picking a topic for this e-book that is going to bring us money? There is all kinds of advice out there on this. One piece of advice is never to focus your book on a specific holiday, or even on the holiday season, as this was limiting. It is limiting, yes, but it will sell during the time period that it is focused on, and will more than likely stay in your readers mind (MHO – no facts to back this on e up!).

The advice that I did feel worked was to focus on genres that sell well – romance, fiction, mysteries, and, to some extent, the paranormal. Go see what people are buying, then decide what in those categories you would like to write about. Writing should be fun – picking a topic and writing about it just because you think it will sell could very well turn out to be not so much fun. So pick a genre that sells, and find a topic that you resonate with.

How do we find topics to choose from? Like most things, e-book topics tend to trend. You need to know what people are talking about, and focus on that. Remember, though … pick a topic that you yourself can relate to! That will make you and your reader happy! An easy place to find ideas, and see how they are trending, is Clickbank (http://www.clickbank.com/index.html ). You can also use CB Engine (http://cbengine.com/ ).

Cheat a little … check out the Amazon.com Kindle bookstore (http://tinyurl.com/btjrodq ) and see what is there. Cheat some more … do a keyword search! Jot down a few topics off the top of your head that you think might sell. Using a keyword search tool, such as https://freekeywords.wordtracker.com/ , put your topics in one at a time. You will be able to find out how many people are searching for that keyword each month.

The sky is the limit on topics for e-books. Winnow your topics down to ones that are relevant, that people want to know about, and that you can connect with as a writer. Your passion for writing, combined with knowledge of what people want to read, will open up a whole new world for you!

© October 2012 Bonnie Cehovet

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Recreational Reading

Writers are encouraged to read as much as they can, in a wide a variety as they can, so that they have something to put into their own writing. I am going to use today’s blog to chat about a few cozy mysteries that I have read. I chose them for the pure joy of reading, and no other reason. These are just my thoughts, and are not intended to be taken as reviews of any kind.

“Dying To Read”, Lorena McCourtney, Revell (Baker Publishing Group

I loved this book for so many reasons! The main character is indeed a character – an unemployed twenty-something who goes to work for her uncle as a PI. (He even prints her up an Assistant PI license!) She falls in love, has all kinds of trust issues. Finds a dead body while trying to confirm the location of a young woman who looks just like her, and adopts the dead woman’s deaf cat (who then proceeds to take over her house and her life!). Aside from a great storyline and well defined characters that work, McCourtney adds the spice of religion. Real life religion – the main character prays, and truly believes in a Higher Being. Her belief is woven into the story, and never overshadows it.

“The Big Cat Nap”, Rita Mae Brown & Sneaky Pie Brown, Bantom Books.

This is Rita Mae Brown at her finest! (Athough, I must say, I have never seen her not at her finest!) We are in Crozet, Virginia, seeing life through the eyes of Mary Minor “Harry” Harristeen, and her crew of talking animals – her Corgi, Tee Tucker, her cats, Pewter and Mrs. Murphy, the opossum Simon, the large blacksnake Matilda, and the Owl Flatface. They are investigating the deaths of mechanics working for the ReNu auto shop, and how they might or might not be connected to the robbery of expensive tires from a local tire dealership, and an up and coming local racetrack. Plenty of local color, with interesting information on life itself woven in. Great reading, and enough reality to make the reader stop and think.

“The Body In The Boudoir”, Katherine Hall Page, William Morrow (Harper Collins).

This is the type of book that I really like – a series with an established character (Faith Fairchild) that takes a trip back in time. In this case, a trip back to the time of her wedding. Based in New York City, Faith owns and runs her own catering business, and leads quite the glamorous life. She meets her future husband at one of the events that she is catering. Then come the issues of his family (not all of whom seem to like her), her great-uncle Sky, who offers the use of his mansion on Long Island for the wedding, her assistant, who seems to be harboring a few family secrets of her own, and Faith’s sister Hope’s up and coming financial career … a career that someone may be trying to derail. Well written, and quite sophisticated for what I would place as a cozy mystery. (I love cozy mysteries!)

“Murder By Mocha”, Cleo Coyle, The Berkley Publishing Group (The Penguin Group).

I love a murder mystery, and I love mocha, so this book was a no brainer! The primary character, Clare Cosi, is manager and head barista, at the Village Blend coffeehouse. In a very avant garde storyline, Clare’s Village Blend beans are being used to create a new java love potion being promoted as an aphrodisiac. (Whatever floats your boat – I just love my coffee!)

Expected to make millions of dollars, the potion will be sold exclusively through Aphrodite’s Village, a popular online destination for women. Slight pause in the process … one of the web site’s editors is found dead at the launch party! Unfortunately, more deaths are to come to the Sister’s of Aphrodite.

Logical conclusion – Clare thinks someone is trying to steal the recipe! I loved this book, and its up to date, realistic nature. It didn’t hurt that Coyle included coffee making tips and recipes too!(Amongst the recipes is one for European style hot chocolate!)

“No Way To Kill A Lady”, Nancy Martin, Onsidian (New American Library, Penguin Group).

We get not one, but three main characters – the Blackbird sisters. Nora, a former debutante that is now a well known society columnist, Emma, very pregnant with an unknown gentleman’s love child, and Libby, divorced and on the make. Then there is Nora’s best friend, Lexie, who is serving time for pushing a man out of a window, and Nora’s mobbed up boyfriend, Mick.

Then there is her great Aunt Madcap Maddie, who may have recently died in a volcano eruption in Indonesia … or she may be the body that was found in the elevator of Madeline “Maddy” Blackbird’s neglected house, Quintain … located on an estate that is supposedly worth millions, and has been left to the three sisters.

Of course, MadcapMaddie’s stepson, the society rogue Sutherland Blackbird, is threatening to put in a claim for the estate. And Maddy’s little black book – something her questionable lawyer searched for, but never found. However, Nora did find it, with her sister’s help.

Who was Madeline Blackbird, exactly what is her little black book all about. And where have all of her famous jewels, paintings and other artwork gone to?

This book is part comedy, part mystery. Not something that would generally draw me in, but it is v ery well written, and I love the east coast society background!

This is my destress book list … what is yours?

© October 2012 Bonnie Cehovet

Friday, October 5, 2012

Planning Your Writing Time

Let’s talk about time … and how writers can get a handle on their time! I get sidetracked very easily, but I don’t like to have to follow a strict schedule either (although that sometimes does happen when I procrastinate!). The first thing that I do is to write my schedule down for a full week – I mean, I write down what I actually do, not what I “should” be doing! (Sometimes) there is a difference. ;-) This gives me a heads up on where I might be (ahem) wasting time, but also on what I might be avoiding doing. If I recognize that I am avoiding doing something, I know that I need to look at that and find out why. Perhaps it is something that I just need to let go of, or perhaps it is something that I need to face down. Shadows show up in all kinds of guises!

Some people do well with a set schedule – they block out a certain amount of time each day, and sit down and write/edit/market during that time. I need to be a little more flexible – if I want to have a cup of coffee and watch my fur kids play for a while, that is what I will do. If I want to write for t here or four hours straight, then that is what I will do. And for those of you that are screaming “life balance” … I can assure you that my life does have a balance. LOL

One of the things that helps me reach my goals for each day/week/month, is to use a written planner. I like e-files too, and make use of them, but I love my written planner. And I love marking each task off as I do it. On Sunday of each week I write out what I want to do each day of the coming week. I combine any personal appointments and errands with calls that need to be made, people that need to be contacted, and writing that I need to get done. Currently I have a short self-help book going as a WIP, along with four blogs that I do once a week each, and an astrology blog that I do each new and full moon. No, I am not an astrologer, butI do like to take the basic info and show people how it can be made to work in their own life. Any day planner or diary can be used for this purpose. I use Karyn Easton’s “Tarot Lover’s Diary”. It can be found at http://paranormality.com. I hope that she is coming out with one for 2013!

Here are a few links to how other writer’s organize their time:

http://unclutterer.com/2010/10/12/organize-your-writing-j-k-rowling-style/

http://dailyroutines.typepad.com/

http://mywebwriters.wordpress.com/2012/01/02/writers-organize-yourselves-tools-and-tips-for-productivity/

http://www.squidoo.com/writersnotebook

http://tumblemoose.com/the-organized-writer/

http://thedabblingmum.com/writing/general/organize.htm

© October 2012 Bonnie Cehovet

Friday, September 28, 2012

Are We Shooting Ourselves In The Foot With Our Blogs?

As authors, are we prone to shooting ourselves in the foot? I would say yes, in some ways we are. Creating and keeping up a Internet presence is one thing that we can tend to put up because we are told that we need to, so we do, but we may not know exactly what to do with it.

That Internet presence, in my way of thinking, consists of our web sites, our blogs, and our presence on social media sites, such as Twitter, Face Book, and Google +. This is all time intensive, and, quite frankly, somewhat confusing. Several of my friends are backing out of one or more social media sites, so that they can focus on one or two sites that they feel comfortable navigating, and that they feel they have a foothold in. I think this is a good idea – they can always recreate their presence on whatever sites they have chosen to leave.

We are told that to develop an Internet presence, and a following, we need to blog. And we need to blog on a consistent basis, creating content that is relevant to what our work is, and to the audience/clientele that we wish to attract. It is not hard to get a blog up – there are several free blog Content can be created in several ways – by talking about what we are working on, by talking about the process we are going through to get our work out there, and by adding small tid bits of personal information that make us seem more real, more approachable.

Blogging helps us to build our platform, to firm up our “voice”, and the brand image that we wish to project to the public. Blog under the name that you want to be known by, not some cutsie, made up front that you look like you are hiding behind. Include a bio, with a pic that people can relate to. Include information on where people can contact you, and include it in a place where it is easily accessible. If people cannot find what they want right away, they will move on to someone else’s blog!

Make best use of your blog page, and include information about the work that you already have out there, as well as what you are currently working on. Back this up by placing links to wherever site visitors can go to purchase your work. Remember to place a link to your professional site – you want your site, blog, and any published work, to be connected to each other for easy access to site visitors.

Allow your visitors to comment on your blog. Moderate the comments if you want to, but a better idea, IMHO, is to allow people to post, and to remember to check your comments frequently. You do this so you can respond to whatever comments are left, and to delete the infrequent comment that just does not belong there.

Last, but not least, make your blog clean and easy to read. I hate the word “monetize”, and I will not stay to read a site or a blog that has been “monetized” with ads. I am getting older by the day, and do not want to waste my time on that!

Have fun creating your online presence. Make sure it represent who you are, the work that you do, and that it will appeal to the audiences you are trying to reach. Life is too short to have to keep redoing things!

© September 2012 Bonnie Cehovet

Friday, September 21, 2012

Conferences - Yes Or No?

I love conferences! I really do! I like the travel involved, I like meeting new people, and I like learning new information. I have been reading recently about what effect the Internet might have on conferences. At first I was irritated at this thought, and didn’t see why one would not want to attend a conference, and meet people face to face that they have known on the Internet. Then I read more, and thought more.

The pro’s as I see it are:

• You get to meet people in person that you only know online. • You sometimes get the chance to pitch your work to an agent. • You get a more personal feel for the writing industry through conversations with other writers, editors, and publishers. • A short time away from the people and issues in my life.

The con’s as I see it are:

• The cost – of travel, lodging, food, and the conference itself. • Time away from family, and perhaps from a 9-5. • The pitch sessions to an agent can be an added fee.

Each writer as an individual has to determine for themselves whether a brick and mortar conference is for them. Some things to consider are:

• The cost – can you afford it. • What do you hope to gain from the conference? • Is the conference relevant to the work you are doing? • Is the agent pitch session worth it? • Is going to a conference in any way going to help you get published? • If you are going Indie (self-publishing your own work, or going with a small press), how relevant are conferences? • How do you learn best? Can you learn from a book, a video, or a webinar? What is the best use of your time and money?

Where do you find conferences? Through national writing organizations (usually by genre), through strategic locations in big cities, regional conferences, and specialty marketing conferences.

I plan to do a combination of the above – attend webinars, local conferences, as well as big city and national conferences – if they are relevant to the work that I am doing. I will plan where I want to go at the beginning of each year (actually, I will probably do t his the year before, as soon as the information about a conference is out to the public)., and make sure that it fits into my budget. I will have to prioritize the conferences, but that is what life is all about!

Continuing education … meet and greet … networking … however you look at it, while we write in solitude, we do need to get out there and mix to hone our craft!

© September 2012 Bonnie Cehovet

Friday, September 14, 2012

Author Bio

Words that I hate to hear – “We need a short bio with that.” Now, I have bios written – long and short. Different bios reflect different parts of my life. It doesn’t matter – I hate to write about myself! So … where do we begin with these lovely bios? We do need them to be done well, reflective of who we are, and interesting to the reader. We need to come across as knowledgeable and accomplished, because we want our readers to have trust in us, and in our work.

Even if you don’t have work ready to go to an editor at the moment, take the time to write a bio - actually two or three. A long version (for editors), and short version (for bylines), and a version (long or short) for your Internet site (yes, you should have an Internet site!). You can fine tune them as you go along, until it reads as well as your written work. It is also a good idea to have a professional photo taken to go with your bio’s.

The first thing to consider when writing your bio is the correct tense. To avoid the appearance of talking about yourself, write in the third person, using your name, rather than saying “I”.

Keep the short version to under 300 words. You want the style to read like that of a book jacket, something that will peak people’s interest. List where you live, perhaps any organizations you are associated with, any previous work that you have published, and something that sets you apart, something that makes you unique. You have one paragraph here to create a vibrant you!

If you are creating a bio to be included in a query letter, the rules change a bit. Write in the first person, stick to the facts (leave out the personal history that makes you unique), and list only significant professional credits.

Things that you might want to consider adding into a longer bio include work history, schooling, life experiences, hobbies, writing credentials, contests or prizes that you have won, and your online presence.

Still at a stalemate? Look at other author’s bios. What do you like about them? What don’t you like about them. What makes you relate to specific author’s? How do they inject humor into their bio’s so that they seem more human and approachable? What is their “voice”? (Above all, you want your bio to carry the same “voice” as your work. You need to essentially “brand” yourself so that your readers have something to follow.)

Remember, your bio is your chance to let people get to know you. State the facts, but remain humble. Choose you best, most relevant publications/achievements to list in your bio. For me, writing my bio’s is an ongoing process. They evolve as I evolve. You may find that this holds true for you as well.

© September 2012 Bonnie Cehovet

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Cozy Mystery Defined

I thought that today I would muse about what a cozy mystery is, since this is the genre that am writing in, and hope to make a living from! The mystery part is a given – mystery stories are made up of puzzles that need to be solved. So … what sets a cozy mystery apart from other mysteries? No blood and guts. No violent scenes. No explicit sexual scenes. No cursing. The character solving the crime is an amateur sleuth, not a professional. They often stumble across the crime, or become involved for personal reasons – to help a friend, family member, or even a mentor.

The main character is almost always a likeable person, someone the reader can identify with in some way. They are often part of a community, with secondary characters coming in as friends or professional acquaintances. It is easy to build tension, or refer to issues or events from a long time ago, because generally the characters have known each other “forever”.

The victim in a cozy mystery can be anybody – from someone who is highly respected to someone that has a list of enemies a yard long. The reason behind the death (or incident, if there is no death) can be quite simple, or quite complicated, and often involves the surrounding community.

The setting can be anywhere – from a small town to the biggest city. Remember – big cities are made up of individual sections that often act like “small towns” on their own. The murder (or incident) can be placed before the story starts, or a couple of chapters into the story. What matters is that the murder (or incident) is meaningful to the characters. If not, then why write the story!

The plot can be anything, but it usually revolves around the human condition – the issues that we face, and the frailties and insecurities we reveal when dealing with them.

My favorite part of a cozy is that in the end, justice is done. Peace is restored, and while not everyone lives happily ever after, there is generally speaking no big cliff hanger, and the community returns to its normal state.

© September 2012 Bonnie Cehovet

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Writer's Templates

Working with writing templates is really becoming a whole new world for me! I created a Bible for my mystery in it's first incarnation (as a NaNoWriMo effort), and fine tuned it for this incarnation. Starting with my characters, I combined what I was already doing with a free downloadable template that I found on the Internet. One thing that I learned from working with someone else's template is that each of us works differently! I kept what I had of my own, expanded on it, and learned to look at my characters in new ways. Part of this included asking them questions, and then allowing them to answer in their own voice. I changed tghe questions from the Internet template, and dropped those which didn't relate to how I think.

Next in order, I am developing a template for describing buildings - professional (offices, restaurants, bars, churches, etc.) and personal (homes, vacation homes, and properties). I had fun with this one! Some of the categories that I used were:

* Physical location. * Neighboring buildings. * Ease of access. * Quality of atmosphere surrounding building. * Quality of atmosphere within the building. * How the building is decorated. * People associated with the building. * How the building fits into a story. * The dates the building appeared a story. * The people that were associated with the building each time it appeared in a story.

I am sure more categories will be entered into this template, as my intention is to turn the first book into a series. Timeline will be all important, or the author (namely me!), will be in a load of trouble!

(c) August 2012 Bonnie Cehovet

Friday, August 24, 2012

e-Book Cover Design

No, my mystery book is not finished yet. However, I was reminded that it will need a cover design when I was contacted by my editor re my upcoming "brick and mortar" book. She wanted to know if I had any ideas for the cover design. I tore my hair out trying to find one copyright image for the inside of the book - what the heck was I going to do about the cover! Luckily, an Internet friend contacted me, and if my editor agrees, we will use my friends image on the cover.

So, now I am simultaneously writing my mystery, formatting a plan for promoting it, and designing a book cover! I do want a cover that is attractive,and that represents my book well. So I did some research on what some of the elements need to be. I did get a few ideas from this site - damonza.com. The first thing this site talks about is the tone of the book - that the cover sets the tone. This I would agree with. Tone here is defined at the feeling that the reader gets from looking at the cover. I have seen books that go both ways - ones with terrible covers that are actually good books, and ones with great covers that just wasted my time!

The next thing discussed is relevance - the cover needs to be relevant to the content of the book. I write cozy mysteries - no gore, or explicit ANYTHING on my covers! There are many keys to relevance, such as placing focus on characters, locations, or objects featured int he story. Note to self - Make it real!

Then there is the element of attraction - something needs to make the reader want to pick up the book, open the book, and read it! Well done graphics can accomplish this nicely! Put some time, attention, and a few bucks into creating a cover design that represents your work well, and sells it!

Legibility is something that I think that I took for granted. I mean, the title and my name are in type, not in my handwriting, so what's the deal! Evidently there is a deal. The deal is that the information must be legible in thumbnail size. OKay - I get it!

Here is a really great blog that I came across on my search - usable information on creating e--book covers - e-Book Cover Design. Emphasis here is placed on the fact that an e-book cover is a digital cover, which presents differently than a hard cover book. Another factor is that it needs to be aimed at online sales, and that it needs to be kept simple.

Another blog from the above site presents e-book resources, for those that do not want to do their own covers.Resources - e-Book Cover Design

Lots to think about here!

(c) August 2012 Bonnie Cehovet

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Process of Writing

This has been quite a month for me. My editor is in the process of editing my second Tarot book, and has asked that I resubmit the graphic that I am using in a larger size and higher resolution. The good thing here is that she did suggest a site for stock photo’s, which I will have to visit tomorrow, and I told her that I would have this to her by Monday. I may also look for images to use with each chapter, although that was never my intention. I am really very happy that my e-books will be done through Smashwords, and that the genre is cozy mystery, so I don’t have to worry about images throughout the book. I can hire someone to do the cover, which to this non-techie, non-artist sounds like a plan!

The other thing that I am working on this month is fine tuning the outline for my first mystery, and finishing the character profiles. I was very pleased that another writer shared on her site a template for doing character profiles that includes all of the things that I had included when I attempted to write this book for NaNoWriMo two years ago. I created a bible then, and will do the same this time.

I am also looking at the locations where my story will unfold. Basically, it will be in a major city. I plan to use the name of that city, but the locations within the city will be, for the most part, places that I have been, with their names changed. I need to make sure if using a created name for a restaurant or bar within a major hotel/casino, while using the real name of the hotel/casino, is the thing to do, or if I need to change the name of the casino too.

As I am writing this book, I am looking at ways to promote it. I am going to have a video trailer made to go on my site, and on You Tube. I will have a Face Book page for it, and will promote it through my Google + business page, personal page, and Twitter page. Beyond that, I am still thinking. Zero plans for a blog marathon (visiting other writers blogs), as to me that is too time intensive.

Then there is the thought – how do I create characters and a storyline that will form the foundation of a series, and not just a stand alone book? More research!

© August 2012 Bonnie Cehovet

Friday, August 10, 2012

Face Book Group Page Etiquitte

I have been looking for a way for a few weeks now to put a minor rant out there without naming names. Last night, I decided that one way that I could do this would be to blog about it. The situation is one that we may all find ourselves in, from time to time, and it is one that we all need to learn to handle with grace. That situation would be Face Book group pages. They do have a definite benefit, and that is why we join them. They also have some major challenges.

The primary benefit, IMHO, is that like minded people are drawn together to share information. By sharing our thoughts on any given topic, and then listening to the thoughts of others on the same topic, we grow our visions, and we move ourselves in directions that we may have previously thought impossible.

The challenges start with the manner in which Face Book allows groups to be formed. The individual forming a group has the option to place anyone on their friends list int he group, without asking them. On any given day, you could wake up and find yourself in a group that you were not even aware of. Hold the temper - you can get out of this easily (or stay, if it looks interesting to you). You can just leave the group, without saying anything to anybody. You can leave the group, and send a private message to the group owner, thanking them for inviting you, but letting them know that you don't have the time (or whatever else your reason is) to be a part of their group. Or, you can post to the group, thanking them for being added to the group, stating the reason that you don't wish to participate, letting them know that you are leaving the group, and then leave the group.

Another issue pops up when people are allowed into the group that continually place posts that have nothing to do with the stated purpose of the group. My personal way of handling this is to send a private message to the group owner, stating my dissatisfaction. If this doesn't work, then I seriously consider leaving the group.

The problem that I am currently having with one of the groups that I belong to that are important to me (in a profession context)is that individuals are posting things that are relevant only to themselves. I am sure that part of the reason this is so prevalent is that people are seeing other people doing this, and nothing is being said, so they feel that this is an okay thing to do. The ideal way that this should have been handled is that the group owner speaks privately with the offending individuals, asks them to take their posts down (or takes them down themselves), and posts the group rules so that everyone is reminded of how the group is run.

This is not what happened in the group I am referring to. Two individuals chose to act as if they were the group owner, and left comments on individual posts that what was posted was not acceptable for that group. IMHO, this was way out of line.

I would have left this group already, but some of the information posted there is very pertinent to what I am currently doing. I will have to do what I should have done in the first place if this continues, and that is to send a private message to the group owner.

It didn't stop there, either. One individual posted a service (which in and of itself is questionable in this group), and the manner that they were providing that service made use of a highly recognizable, very well placed brand that they have no connection with! I posted a comment that this seemed a bit unethical to me ... several days later someone else posted a comment somewhat along the line of min e, but very toned down.

It is up to each of us to use our brains in Face Book, or any other groups. When something doesn't seem right, or just doesn't fit, speak up! Use the leave button as a last choice. Perhaps you can make the group better by your actions.

Having said all of this, I also belong to another group where everything is done well, everyone is polite (outspoken, but polite!), everyone has a good time, and serious support is still there. Why does this group work, where the other one is floundering? Both group owners are highly respected individuals in their own field. The difference is that one is hands on with their group, and the other one isn't.

Food for thought!

(c) August 2012 Bbonnie Cehovet

Friday, August 3, 2012

Setting Writing Goals

We can set goals for ourselves, and then we can set GOALS for ourselves. By this, I mean setting goals that are effective is what we want to focus on. Randomly setting goals is going to give us ... random results! What kind of a house of cards would we be building our stories on if we did that! Realistic goals are three things: measurable, meaningful, and attainable.

As writers, we are our own bosses. We set the pace, we define the story. In setting a measurable goal for our writing, we want to be able to see tangible results. An easy way to do this is to focus on finishing a number of pages per session/day/week, to have a certain amount of chapters done within a certain amount of time, or to edit a certain amount of pages within a certain amount of time. Or, we could focus on sending out a certain number of queries, or posting on social media sites on a predetermined schedule. We need something that shows us that we are making headway.

Attainable goals are literally that - goals that we can reasonably attain. We don't want to set the bar too low, but we also don't want to set the bar so high that it is overwhelming. Take a major goal, and break it down into smaller goals. The feeling of having accomplished a goal, no matter how small, is tremendous! It gives us the needed spark to keep on going.In making sure that our goals are attainable, we need to look at the big picture - what skills do we have, what skills do we need, what else are we going to be doing within the same time period? A little realism doesn't hurt!

To be meaningful, our goals have to take us int he direction we want to go. I have been sidetracked myself by goals that seemed meaningful, but, in hindsight, had nothing to do with where I was at the time, or where I was going. I call that shooting myself in the foot! I have learned a few lessons this way! Recognize that you may have goals in more than one area - you may want to earn a living from your writing, while at the same time you have to pay the mortgage! Make time for the less immediate goal (making a living from your writing, in this case), while still devoting time to your major goal (in this case, paying the mortgage).

Be sure to set both short term goals and long term goals. Make sure that your short term goals support your long term goals, so t hat your house of cards doesn't go boom! Review your goals periodically, to see where you are, and where you are going.

Happy writing!

(c) August 2012 Bonnie Cehovet

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Planning Stage

I keep saying that I am a "pantser" - that I write by the seat of my pants. And that is very true. But it is also true that I like to have at least a bare bones outline, so that I have a clue where my story is going, and how my characters relate to each other. Without that, they could get into all kinds of trouble! Knowing where I am going (and yes, this can change as I write) creates boundaries for me to work within. They don't stifle me, but they do give me a grid to work within.

If I try and stay within the confines of this grid (which can get very complex!), I have to do less rewriting. It is not at all fun when you realize that your chapters don't hold together ... and that they aren't holding together in a very glaring fashion! Definitely a "How could I have done that!" moment. Hopefully, I have learned from my experiences.

I work with a bare bones outline - but it is an outline. It not only keeps me organized (very important for us Cappies!), but it allows me to revise in a timely manner, without having to look things up, or sit there wondering how I got to where I am in my story. I actually love to do the outlines for my stories - it is a wonderful way for me to get into the creative process. I put down whatever comes to mind, then go back and edit it to bring the elements together, and take out elements that obviously are not going to work. Saves me time, saves me headaches, and my fur kids have a happier mommie!

What can your outline do for you? For a mystery writer like me, it can help establish clear motives. (Readers tend to wander off without finishing a book when things like motives are not clear.) The primary plot and the sub-plots are able to sort themselves out. (The sub plots make the story, IMHO. I just finished reading "Stranger In The Room", by Amanda Kyle Williams, and the sub plots are so finely woven in that the story just flows - one never questions what is going on, or why.)And ... your story stays on track ... no wandering off into its own little world!

One last word on outlines - you can do them however you please! Write them in a file, in traditional outline format. Get out the junior high index cards and work with them. Go high-tech with a spreadsheet (very cool, but not for a non-techie like me!), or use writing software of some type (there are plenty of options out there!).

It doesn't matter how you plan your story ... it just matters THAT you plan it!

(c) July 2012 Bonnie Cehovet

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Write First, Plan Later - Plan First, Write Later

Do you write first, then plan later, or plan first, and write later? I am a pantser - I write first, by the seat of my pants, then go back and pull things together. Oh - I have my Bible - a written out guideline for each of my characters that paints the picture of what they look like, what they have accomplished, where they went to school,where they live, where they work, what makes them tick. Without that, it would be all too easy to get off track, or worse, to get them confused! And I do have a general direction that I want my story to go in. I just allow my characters to write it.

I write whatever my characters want to write. And I let it flow, even when I know that I am going to have to research a detail to make sure that my character was right. I tend to do a lot of research on designer cloths, as some of my characters have the larger view of life. I write until I stop. I don't edit as I go along, I don;t check spelling or punctuation - I write! Then I go back and read my story back to myself. Does it sound believable? Does it move well? If it doesn't sound right, or doesn't move well, I may change a word or two. I eventually want this story to sell, after all!

Sometimes I note that I am using a word or phrase with too great a frequency. I try to change what I can, but if I cannot come up with something, I will check a Thesaurus. I try not to get too clever, though. I want the words that I choose to fit into the story, and not take on an unintended life of their own! At times I will take a phrase, or even a sentence or two out. Sometimes even a whole paragraph, if it just isn't working. If it is truly bad, I will just delete it. No harm, no foul. If it sounds good, but just doesn't work with this story, I may save it in a file. I never know when I might need it!

Make sure that you are using the right words for your story. They have to match the story, and they have to move it forward. If they are weighing it down, they need to go. To know in your heart what good writing is, go read some good authors. Look at how their words flow, at the choices they made, and at how those choices affect you the reader.

Here's to the awesome art of storytelling!

(c) July 2012 Bonnie Cehovet

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Backstory & Flashbacks

I am in the process of completely reinventing a story that I began several years ago. I started out by fleshing it out, then recognized that tossing the majority of the material out, and beginning anew was the way to go. One of the things that I kept, aside from the major character, was the theme that the basis for the current issues was lodged deeply in a very murky past. Now the issue is - how do I bring the past into the present in a way that it doesn't overwhelm it?

At this point I am researching flashbacks, and how they can be woven into the story. One of the first pieces of information that I read was that they need to be used wisely. The article noted that beginning writers (I still qualify here) tend to bring the backstory in too early, to give too much away too soon. Point taken! When the story is in the past, it can be difficult to move it forward. I need to be careful here for another reason - I intend for this particular mystery to be the first in a series, so I want to leave it very open to movement and characters.

The next piece of information that screamed out at me was that the backstory must be shown, not told. Had I not seen this, I would have jumped in, head first, talking about the past, rather than showing it. Again ... point taken! If we show the past, we take t he reader their and involve them emotionally. They want to read more, which is what we want them to do!

There are many ways in which backstory can be shown. The primary method that I have chosen is recollection - my characters will remember bits and pieces of the story, until it finally becomes a whole, clear picture. I haven't decided if I am going to write full scenes into the recollection. Perhaps once or twice, but not more than that. I may also include letters, journals, diaries, or pictures. Whatever will make the most impact on the story at any given point int he story.

(c) July 2012 Bonnie Cehovet

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Google + Companion

Google + Companion Author: Mark Hattersley John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 2012 ISBN #978-1-118-18646-6

As writers, it behooves us to know a tad bit about social media sites, and what they have to offer. Google + is making huge inroads in the social media venue,and what better person than Hattersley (Editor in Chief of Macworld UK)to help us navigate this new and rich territory. I am someone who is not exactly tech savvy - and not exactly too worried about that. I look for articles, books, and videos that will help me make best use of the sites that I work with (as well as best use of my time). I love Hattersly's mindset - that technology helps people to unlock their creativity. Well said!

This 279 page book is organized into sixteen highly usable chapters, with an appendix of resources that includes links to the Microsoft Safety and Security Center, a strong password generator, articles like 5 Steps To Branding Your Social Media Profile, and much more. The chapters address issues like what is Google +, why it should be sued, how to set up a profile, how to navigate Google +, what circles are, and howto use them, how to hang out with your friends on Google +, how to upload and manage photo's, what is 1+, and how to use it in conjunction with Google +, how to manage Google + settings, using Google + on a mobile device, managing privacy and personal information, and much more! There is an index at the end of the book, and each chapter is broken down in the Table of Contents so that even someone like me can pick up this book and immediately go tot he section that will answer my questions (and I do have a lot of them!).

Each chapter takes you step by step through the information, including screen shots where appropriate. In this case a picture is worth 1,000 words, and then some! This book literally is a companion - you sit down in front of your computer, book at your side, and easily accomplish your goal - whether it is setting up a Google + profile, adding friends, creating a circle, creating a business page (yes, there are person and business pages!), uploading photo's ... whatever you want to do, this book will walk you through doing it!

Things that are very important - that we don't even think about - are addressed. One such thing that slowed me down was working with the Google + bar. Had this book been available when I first joined Google +, I could have saved a ton of time!

This is one book that is staying right by my computer!

(c) July 2012 Bonnie Cehovet

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Female Mystery Authors

Today I decided to share the links to blogs that I enjoy reading. Each of these individuals has something to say, an presents itin a very interesting manner. Enjoy!

G.M. Malliet

Kathleen Kaska

Marian Allen

Cecelia Peartree

Kill Zone Authors

As an added extra - Murder, Mystery and Mayhem

Last, but not least, I had to include this blog! It is not about authors, not is it about writing. It is about something that is high up on my bucket list - how to set up a mystery dinner! Dinner and a Murder Mystery

A few author sites to round things out!

Mary Higgens Clark

Janet Evanovich

Sue Grafton

J. A. Jance

Laurie R. King

Anne Rice

Lisa Scottoline

(c) June 2012 Bonnie Cehovet

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Writing A Mystery

I am so pleased that after this week I will be able to place my focus on my WIP - my lovely little mystery! I am stopping to think about how I want this process to go - I want to define the process, even though I know it will get fine tuned along the way. I took the first step already - I started the writing. Actually, I started the writing in 2010 for NANOWRIMO. I made several attempts to fine tune what I had written, which lead nowhere. I finally decided to keep (most) of the characters, change the setting, and tweak the plot line.

I am going to write my bible first - thoroughly detailing my characters, their backgrounds, the environment they move in, and how they are inter-connected in the web of their world. Then I am going to outline my plot, and allow the writing to flow!

One thing that I do know - I tend to edit to a small extent as I write. This is not something that holds me back, it is something that allows me to have a nice, clean manuscript in front of my face. Spelling errors checked, punctuation checked - life looking good!

Another important thing to decide before beginning to write is what voice do you want your book in? Who is going to be telling the story, and how are they going to tell it? First person? Third person? Do whatever you are comfortable with. Go back and reread your favorite authors. What voice do they write in? You are not trying to be a mini-me, you just want to sound real, and consistent.

My characters are already part of me - they are pushing my current project so they can get their chops out there! I know they will interact in a manner that is unique to them. I have often found that my writing takes on its own edge - it writes itself. I will have to reign in my characters, rather than trying to flesh them out! They will be the best of the best of all of the people that have moved through my life, or that I have observed along the way. My characters will "have" character, and they will "be" characters!

Some stories never get written because the writers who imagine them never move them from the imaginal world into the real world. Spend time working at your craft, people! Sit down and write! Every day!

Have fun with this! I know that I am going to!

June 2012 Bonnie Cehovet

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Read, Read, Read!

One of the predominate pieces of advice given to authors is to "read, read, read!" I can understand that - we need to read anything and everything, so that we have a storehouse of ideas to fall back on for writing. I found out this week that there is another reason for reading ... to understand a genre. I decided to finally read a couple of cozy mysteries that I had in my Kindle library. What an eye opener!

Kindle is fine - I had no problem reading the books. They were gentle mysteries, which is what I had expected. They were both set in small towns, with that small town feel to them.That was fine too. Both of them had coherent story lines, which was good. But they were so alike that I actually went back to look at the pictures of the authors - both women - to see if perhaps they were the same woman! There seems to be a formula out there - single female, returns home after the big city did not work out, meets up with old boyfriend (who is now married), meets new boyfriend, has a crisis that comes into her life that she must solve (this would be the mystery part of the novel). The stories were good, but not that good. Something to keep in mind when writing my own!

So why else do we want to keep reading new material? One reason might be to see how others write. To see what is good about their writing, and what doesn't quite make the grade. As authors, we want our readers to enjoy our work, to talk about our work (who knows, perhaps Oprah would hear about us!), to recommend our books, and to keep purchasing our books. Longevity, that's a good goal for all writers!

By reading as much as we can, we really get to know the different styles of writing, the different voices that are out there. We have a broader choice in finding and developing our own unique voice if we not only have something to say, but have a consistent way of saying it. We need to see how words are presented, the pictures that they can paint. We need to see how to develop connections between thoughts that are both viable and exciting. We need to retain the interest of our readers, after all!

We need to challenge ourselves - to take material and make something new and different out of it. I certainly do not want my readers going back like I did this past week, to see if I was writing under different names! I don't want my style of writing so close to someone else that my readers cannot distinguish who I am.

I don't mean to imply that reading books should be a personal improvement project. Enjoy what you are reading. If you don't, put it down, and pick up something else. You don't have to make notes ont he writing style, just allow it to seep into your subconscious. It will be there when you need it. You will be surprised at the number of times you will be writing something, only to recognize immediately that there is either a better way of saying what you are saying, a better way to leave a clue, or a better way to connect characters. You will not know why you see this,but you can bet that it is because you have been reading, and the information is stored in your brain, where you can easily access it.

To get you started - 10 Books Every Writer Should Read

(c) June 2012 Bonnie Cehovet

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Cozy Mysteries Defined

My chosen genre for writing is the cozy mystery. It just feels right to me. So, how do I describe this to other people? What kind of writing am I doing, exactly? I know what kind of story I want to convey - one that is a good mystery, gentle in nature, and with the kind of story-line that keeps my readers coming back. My main character is not a policeman, or a detective, or anything close to that. She is an everyday person who falls into these adventures ... adventures that sometimes boggle the mind, and sometimes tug at the heart strings. They involve the present, the past ... and sometimes the future. They are real adventures, focusing on real people. My characters are not airheads ... quite the opposite. They are intelligent people who know how and where to go to get the help that they need to solve a crime. And they can recognize a crime when they see on, even if no one else does! Pets ... especially cats ... will show up in my stories. So will the Internet. So will political issues, when appropriate. Whatever affects my characters lives is fair game for my stories! What can you expect NOT to see in my writing? Violence, gore, cursing, explicit scenes of any kind. My readers will need to have a fair amount of imagination themselves, and be willing to become part of the game. it is a game, you know. The solving of puzzles, the solving of crimes. Maybe I need to aim to be a present day, female version of Nero Wolf's character Archie Goodwin. That would be fun! Miss Marple is a bit stodgy, even for me. I would like to have a bit of an edge, like the Snoop sisters. Now, they have class! Then there is the sidekick issue. I am thinking more of a group of women ... women that know each other well. One woman will be the main character, the rest will be sidekicks. Each woman will be allowed to let her light shine when needed, and each woman will have her flaws. Think Fern Michaels' "Sisterhood" series here. I am looking forward to digging in and doing some real work to kick-start this series. Wishing each of you much happiness and success with your writing!
(c) June 2012 Bonnie Cehovet

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Writing Believable Characters

This is really a continuation on last weeks blog about creating characters. One thing that we need to see in characters, as well as in the story line, is believability. If a character does not seem believable, even in a fiction story, then you are not going to retain the reader's interest, and you are not going to be able to build your story. if you try to do so, your characters themselves will simply refuse to fit together the way that you want them to.

Start with their name. Names are everything! They reflect our cultural background, our family background, and the times that we were born into. Our name, in a sense, IS who we are. So give your characters names that reflect who they are, and where they came from. If you like their name, but they don't ... change the name! Characters are powerful people! Your characters names need to have a rhythm, a cadence of their own. And it probably is not a good idea to have different characters int he same book with the same name. This ends up somewhere between boring and confusing for the reader. Remember ... both the reader and your character have to be able to accept and relate to the character's name! As I revise my first attempt at a mystery, I decided to start over again on both location and character names. The story line will remain basically the same, but tweaked to remain in the area of possible/plausible.

One thing that I had to remember is that some of the characters from my first book will be carried forward, as I want this to be a series. As the series grows, my characters will grow. To do that, they need a firm foundation, and viable connections to each other. They have to be able to function through varying story lines, which is making me stop and think about what I want them to say and do. My main character I have firmly in mind. I know who she is, how she thinks, how she acts/reacts. The protagonist is another thing. The protagonist in my first story may be my main character ... that seems to work for me. The role of the hero (the person who saves the day) is not relegated to one person in my book. it is a group of friends that function well together. My antagonist - the ultimate "bad guy", is a combination of a single person and the group behind him. The obstacle is not a character, but a belief. it is something that affects all of the characters in some manner. Logic and emotion find their balance in my character's world. The archetype of sidekick for the series I am writing doesn't seem relevant, as the main character works to solve the issues of the story with other people.

Taking all of this into consideration - as well as the story bible that I discussed last week, I feel that I am well on my way to creating a viable story line!

(c) June 2012 Bonnie Cehovet

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Building Characters In Writing

I certainly hope that my characters are as strong as those of one of my favorite authors, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. What I do know so far about the main character for my proposed cozy mystery series is that she will be in her 50's, well educated, with a partner whose job takes him away from home a lot. (I am not sure whether they are going to be living together or not ... more than likely not, at least in the beginning of the series.) She will have an interest in the metaphysical world, and will have studied it extensively. She will live in a large city (more than likely Las Vegas), and will have several close women friends that become involved in some way in her escapades.

A bible is in order, so that she and my other characters grow in the series in a comprehensive manner. IOW, elements of their past have created their present, and their thoughts/actions/reactions in the present will build their future. What else can I do to build my characters into realistic, believable entities?

Charlotte Dillon offers a free, downloadable character chart on her site - CharlotteDillon.com. This is an incredible chart that is comprehensive, makes a great deal of sense, and is highly usable. Note: Please give Ms Dillon credit if you are using this chart in a public manner. This is very much like what I did to create the bible for my characters when I made my first attempt at writing a mystery. Her's is quite a bit more extensive, and I intend to use it! Thank you, Charlotte Dillon!

Why am I not surprised - there is also a wikihow on this! How To Create A Fictional Character. There is a ten step process to follow here that makes absolute sense. As with all things, tweak it until it works for you. It provides a good foundation for building your characters, so you aren't spending a lot of time dead int he water about who they are, what motivates them, and how they fir into the story.

Here is another excellent site, from author/editor Lillie Amman - Creating Fictional Characters.

Last, but not least, from fictionfactory.com -Creating Characters.

(c) May 2012 Bonnie Cehovet

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Waylaid!

This started out to be a blog on creating a bible for your WIP (Work In Progress) but I go waylaid by a couple of interesting blogs (and a theme connected site!). The first blog is from Writers Write (http://www.writerswrite.com/#writersblog). There is a very interesting conference that was held at St. Andrews University, Scotland. Quite a unique two day conference, entitled “A Brand of Fictional Magic: Reading Harry Potter as Literature”. I am a huge fan of Harry Potter – of the magic, and the underlying cultural references. Sixty scholars attended, and addressed such subjects as Dumbledore and the Socratic method, paganism, food as it denotes British identity, and more. Worth a read!

The site that is thematically connected with this blog is one that has just recently gone live – “Pottermore”, from J.K. Rowling (http://www.pottermore.com/?utm_source=Badger-En&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=03052012-notify&utm_term=+&utm_content=). I have been waiting for this one, and it did not disappoint! There is a “sneak peak” video, and a video message from J.K. Rowling on the landing page. You do need to sign up for entrance into the site – they give you a username to go by – very “Harry Potterish”!

What can you do in Pottermore? Lots of things! Explore the Harry Potter stories in a whole new way! Discover new and exclusive writing from J.K. Rowling (worth the bother of registering!). Experience Diagon Ally, the Sorting Hat, and more! Share comments, and help your House win the House Cup! Enter the magical gateway now! I have just been playing on the site – you have to experience it to appreciate it! What fun!

On to the second blog that waylaid me – Anne R. Allen’s recent blog (http://annerallen.blogspot.com/2012/05/who-are-big-six-what-does-indie-really.html) on the “Big Six”, “Indies”, and “Small Presses” in publishing. Quite a well done b log, no matter what she is talking about! As a newcomer to publishing, and much more conversant with the publishing companies in the niche genre that I currently write in (Tarot), I found this whole article fascinating! The “Big Six” are readily recognizable publishing companies. However, the countries they are based in may surprise you (it did me!). She also goes on to mention their imprints, which are interesting.

Allen then moves on to mid-sized publishers – one of which I have actually worked with! For each publisher, there is a sound bite about what genre(s) they publish in.

Also included are sections on Retailer/Publishers, Independent e-Book Publishers, Small Presses, Micro Presses, Vanity Presses, Indie Publishing, and POD Publishing Service Providers.

Great blog, with a tremendous amount of usable information in it!

© May 2012 Bonnie Cehovet

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Writing Sites

I wanted to do today’s post on writing sites … places where writer’s can communicate with other writer’s, and find writing resources. Right up at the top on Google was writing.com (www.writing.com). It looked good to me, so I went about setting up a free account with them. Unbeknownst to me, I already have an account there! At some distant point in time I must have had the thought that I wanted to delve further into the world of writing. Good thought, Bonnie. I may actually follow through with it this time, as I am in a different place … cutting ties with on world, and moving into the next one.

I went into my account and set up a sig line … this will show up on all of my site messages and forum posts. For now, just my name and my web site info. I also deleted the 38 messages that had built up since I was last on this site. ;-) Now I am checking out what this site has to offer. I don’t have a portfolio up, but that will come in time. Looking at what resources are offered, I find that this site carries writing submissions in many diverse categories. I can choose to read them, and I can also choose to review them. I can also put my own work up here to be read and reviewed. To me, that is a bonus!

There is also a listing of authors by ranked in the following categories: Most Community Recognition, Most Referrals, Most Credited Reviewers, Most Active Reviewers, and Most Active Raters.

As far as placing my own writing, I find that I can do so as a static item (a single poem, essay, or article), a document, book, or web page, or a product review. There are also many ways to interact, such as message forums, community notes, Madlibs, user polls, interactive stories, survey forms, word searches, and more. There is a classified section, with contests, listings for editors and more. There is a section on copyrights, sections on editing, marketing, literary agents, newsletters, publishing, self-publishing, web hosting, writing classes, and writing prompts.

This is just the tip of the iceberg! I am going to make the time to interact with this site, and see where it takes me!

© May 2012 Bonnie Cehovet

The Legend of Justice and Diamonds - Second Printing

"The Legend of Justice and Diamonds" was originally published through Xulon Press in 2010. It is now available through Crea...