Thursday, June 27, 2013

Time Traveler

As a writer, on any given day I feel like I am traveling through time. Sometimes into the future, sometimes into the past, with brief stays in the present. Why is that? This is what a writer's life looks like:

1. Your day begins. Coffee cup in hand, you check your daily calendar to see what needs to be done. If you are like me, your personal and professional "to do" list goes on the same page.

2. You check your e-mail, and respond to whatever needs a response.

3. You get a few small tasks done.

4. You get out any promotion that you need to get done.

5. You get your blogs out there. I have several blogs ... I schedule one a day to be written, and I keep them short.

6. You start on any research that you need to do. 

7. There is almost always a review to get out, or an "emergency/unexpected project" to be hammered out.

8. Time for more coffee ... and probably lunch.

9. Put some quality time into my WIP.

10. Go do my "day job" (which for me is an evening/night job).   

Somehow, this never gets old. Right now, along with most people, I am looking at options for replacing my RSS feed, as Google Reader is non-existent as of July 1st. I do have it switched to another reader, but I am seriously considering doing e-mail notifications only. G-mail recently gifted me with "categories" (determined by them!), which is probably something that I should have done anyway. So I can put the blogs that I follow into a specific category. 

I also need to put more time into learning Dragon Speak. Once I have that figured out, it will save me some time. i wonder if they have audio for that that I can run while I am sleeping? There are only 24 hours to a day (last time I looked, anyway).

I need to move my reviews to a thumb drive, to make space on my laptop.I also need to move downloads that I haven't had the time to read, some music, and who knows what else. I need to go through my downloads and delete items no longer needed, and through my docs to delete items relating to a business program that I recently decided to leave. 

Then there is the mystery that I am currently reading for relaxation ... I always have one of those going. This is how I am able to leave the day behind and get some sleep.

What can I say ... it's all good!

(c) 2013 Bonnie Cehovet

Reproduction in any venue prohibited without the written permission of the author. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Where Did the Time Go?

Where does the time go? As authors, we like to think that we are in charge of our own time. That is seldom true, unless we publish independently. Even then we have deadlines ... self imposed deadlines that help us to stay professional, and not wander into the twilight zone of writing.

There are so many things that can claim the time of a writer. It is up to us to decide what is important, what is not, and where we want our time and focus to go. Social media is a very gray area ... how much  is going to bring us in readers/followers, and how much is overkill (or underkill, if we don't do it right)? How many pages do we need on Facebook? How many Twitter accounts do we need? How often should we tweet, and what should be say? Do we schedule our tweets to go out, or do we just send them out spontaneously? Do we play the #FF game? (I did, at first, and then dropped it.) 

Do we send out newsletters? Do our newsletters actually say anything? Are the newsletters converting into sales? How often do we publish a newsletter? How are we getting e-mail addresses for our newsletter? We need to do this in a manner that we reach people who are interested in our work, and will open the darn newsletter and read it! How often do we publish a book? Do we really need to publish more than one book a year? We are generally writing one book, promoting another book, and outlining a third book anyway. How thin can we stretch ourselves? 

Do we really need to go on blog tours? I mean, really! We write a guest post to fit into someone else's site. We keep track of the post, and respond to any comments made. Our face is put into focus for new readers, but how many are really going to convert into fans? Are we going to sell more books? Is this a good use of our time? For me, I have decided that no, it is not.

We don't need a ton of Twitter, Google + or Facebook followers. What we need are a few good followers that interact with us, like our material, and buy our books. It doesn't matter how many people "like" you  Facebook page. Look at how many of them are commenting on your posts, at how many of them are engaging with you. 

Blogging and blog hopping. I have several blogs on different topics. I send out one blog a week ... unless there is something that I really feel that I need to write about. 

What does this all boil down to? Whatever you do, do it with intent and purpose. If it doesn't look like it is working, and you have tried tweaking it ... let it go!

Take charge of your time!

(c) 2000 - 2013 Bonnie Cehovet

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

First Chapters

I have spent a fair amount of time lately thinking about entering a writing contest ... a specific writing contest. In the end, I decided not to. This lead me to thinking about taking my mystery novel out, sharpening my pencils (or learning to work with Dragon Speak!)  and getting a first draft written. For me, the first chapter can be a difficult one. What do I need it to do? Introduce my main character, for one thing. Establish my "voice" for another. My voice for my fiction writing will be a bit different than my voice for other writing that I do. Or perhaps not ... perhaps I am always me.

In my mind, I need to make the main character a strong one ... one that readers will identify with, and that I feel comfortable with. Rather like the person that I would want to be. I want my readers to be drawn into this person's world, to want to walk with her, to want to finish the story! I want to show my character's strengths, and perhaps hint at what her weaknesses might be.

The first chapter is also where I set the tone for the story,where my readers decide if they want to read the rest of the book. Am I going to be uber serious? Am I going to inject a bit (but not too much!) humor? Is there a lot of blood and gore to follow? And by the way ... what is the theme? Perhaps I should sneak that into the first chapter too! Is it romance? Is it theft? Is it family secrets? Is it cyberspace? Is it addictions? Fess up ... let the reader know!

I know exactly where my mystery is going to take place ... in Las Vegas, Nevada. It is important to me as a reader to know what country, and what part of that country, a story that I am reading is taking place in. I will give my readers that same courtesy ... to know where the story is taking place. And the places will change, as I have great hopes on making this a mystery series.

The bad guy (antagonist) will need to show up in my first chapter too ... or at least a hint of who they are, why they are in that position (perhaps a bit of back story), and what the tension is between my main character and the antagonist. Hint ... the antagonist does not need to be all bad (none of us are all good or all bad).

Lots of stuff that I am finding out needs to be in my first chapter! That's okay - I am ready. I have my outline, and I have my characters sketched out in profiles. Who they are, where they live, what they do for a living, where they went to school, what their preferences and dislikes are. It's all written out! To be honest, I did that for reference for myself, so that I can keep my characters straight!

One least thought,  that doesn't belong in this article, but is too good to keep quiet about! When you take out a phrase, or even a whole section, or chapter (this is called editing), don't throw it away. Keep it ... you may be able to use some of it in later chapters, or even in other books or articles. Waste not, want not!   

(c) 2000-2013 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited in all  venues without written permission from the author.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

My Own Little World

I recently wrote about finding out that had discounted the price on the book that I co-authored with Brad Tesh. Neither of us were happy about that, but we were assured by Create Space that we would be paid royalties according to the price that we had set for the book. That calmed us down a bit. A few days later I saw that a newly released book that I have out from a traditional publishing company (Schiffer Publishing) had been discounted, Deja vu all over again! Prices on any and all products can change from minute to minute ... and this is not just an Amazon quirk. What is this world coming to!

Now I am in a quandary about where I want to publish (and retain maximum control over my work). I am seriously thinking doing print books with a local printer, and selling both the print books and the e-book version from my site. I don't know if an e-book version from my site is possible ... I will have to look into that. n the end, I may stay with Kindle and Create Space. But I don't feel that I have total control over my work, not do I feel that I am adequately compensated. This my world ... I am a writer. There has to be a way to make this work.

Here's a fun link on marketing testing - AB Testing. If you site is an e-commerce site, you might want to read this.

From SmashingMagazine - 50 free resources to help improve your writing - 50 Free Resources.   

(c) 2000 - 2013 Bonnie Cehovet

Use of this material in any venue prohibited without the written permission of the author.

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...