Weekend Grab Bag – From Writing Tips to Star Wars parody of Gotye’s ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’

Song playing right now on my playlist: “Me and Bobby McGee,” Janice Joplin

Writing and the Writing Life:

Browncoats:

In Geekdom:

  • And I’ll leave you with this, a parody of Gotye’s music video, “Somebody That I Used To Know” (h/t Stubby the Rocket):

Yes, You Should Blog and Tweet Before You’re Published

funny pictures of cats with captions

Are you an unpublished writer without a blog? Not tweeting? Well, you should! And here’s why.

Today’s post was inspired by the guest post by Heather Kopp last week at agent Rachelle Gardner’s blog, 7 Reasons to Quit Balking & Start Blogging. She makes some very good points and I’d like to add some more to them from my own experience.

I’d meant to do this post months ago when I ran across a blog post from a writer who posted that tweeting and blogging, she discovered, was not beneficial. The problem was her reasons for doing it and her methodology. See, she’d just published her first book and wanted to get the word out and heard that blogging and tweeting helped. So she set up a blog and a twitter account and went at it, and got no results. The problem was not only her timing, but the way she went about it. We all know those tweeters, who only send out auto-tweets promoting their book and you’ve never heard of them and they don’t engage you on twitter. I think at her stage, her audience was readers, and only readers who’ve found her book through other means would seek her out and follow her. But would a reader only be interested in Buy My Book tweets? No. Anyway, let’s move from that example, as I think enough has been blogged about the perils of this type of approach by others more articulate than me.

Let’s just use the above example as Reason #8 (picking up from Gardner’s post)…

8. You need to build your audience BEFORE you’re published. True, at this stage you’re not targeting readers because they have nothing to buy and read, but there are plenty of examples of folks who did this who benefited when her book came out. I think Jody Hedlund is one, am I remembering right? She’d built up a tribe of supporters who then wanted to help promote her when she published.

9. You are missing out on a whole passel of contacts that can help you. I started blogging and tweeting in September and felt really, really self-conscious, since I hadn’t published anything. It felt very strange and I really thought I wouldn’t last past two months, because who would want to visit my blog?? And for what reason?? I forged ahead anyway, and boy, I can’t tell you how much I don’t regret it. I’ve made SCORES of friends who have helped me learn so much more about my craft, who have given me encouragement, you name it. I’ve also found my Beta readers this way. I can’t honestly imagine where I’d be right now if I hadn’t started in September, but I can tell you, I’d be a whole lot further behind on my learning curve.

One of them, Jami Gold, I connected with back around Thanksgiving when she needed some quick Betas. I stepped up and we struck up an email correspondence, helping each other with pitches and queries. I then Beta’d her full and she recently Beta’d mine and really truly helped me see just what I needed to do to make my piece stronger. She’s been so helpful and supportive she even let me call her to hash out some writerly stuff and we’re going to be roommates for RWA.

I also wouldn’t have met Stephanie Lawton (via Twitter) and learned about the Mobile Writer’s Guild, which I’m now Vice President of and have met other wonderful writers in my local area. I also can’t always attend my local RWA chapter meetings because of my day-job work schedule, but tweeting helps me keep up with my fellow members.

And where would I be without my Six Sentence Sunday buddies? I’ve made wonderful friends through it, and discovered some new fave authors whose books I’ve bought.

None of this, none of the knowledge I’ve gained, none of the friends I’ve made, would have happened if I hadn’t started. Plus, I’d be a month away from going to my first national writers conference (RWA) and not know a soul. I can just picture myself (cuz I’ve been there) wandering around, watching others greet people they know. But now I’m a month away from not only learning a bunch of stuff, but a month away from meeting all the people I only know by name and their profile pic!

10. It CAN help in your actual writing output. I know it can be a time sucker, constantly checking Twitter, but once you get over that need to stay on top of EVERYTHING (because you finally realize you can’t), it’s wonderful for not only making new friends and learning about writing, but it can also help you with your output. Just hop onto the #1k1hr thread and you’ll see. You’ll meet other writers who are wanting to sit down for an hour and just write. You agree on a start time and you don’t come up for air until the end of the hour, when you report your output. This has helped me tremendously in meeting my daily goals and to stop me from obsessively checking all my online stuff.

11. Potential agents can find you. I personally haven’t had agents find me this way, but I have heard of it happening. I have had an agent who requested a full who commented in her email that she loved my Monday Hunk Who Reads. They ended up passing, but still, that was cool :) By having a blog, you are showing your brand, what you are like as a writer and person, and it can help them decide.

12. You’ll be stronger when you do publish. This is rehashing #8 somewhat, but I think it’s important enough to circle back to after showing all the other benefits. Now, when you do publish a year, two years, three years later, you’ll not be one of THOSE on Twitter who is only me, me, me and no one’s ever heard of you. No, instead you’ll have writer friends who support you and want to see you succeed. THEY’LL promote you. I know, because I help promote those that I’ve met since September whose work I’ve read and liked. Writers read, and they have family and friends who ask for recommendations all the time.

What do you think? Are you a writer worried about jumping in before you’ve published? Are you already blogging and tweeting like me? Do you have any other reasons why it’s a good idea? Please share!

Six Sentence Sunday – 6/24/12 – Meet the Hero

Today is #sixsunday where writers share six sentences from their work. Today I’m sharing sentences of my new novel, STEAM ME UP, RAWLEY. I finished the rough draft only last month ago, so this is pretty rough. It’ll probably get revised a ton, but this will give you a rough idea.

This is a steampunk romance set in 1890 Mobile, Alabama, and a loose sequel to MUST LOVE BREECHES. Last week we saw her fantasize about the destruction of her boss’ office by her monkey Loki. Afterwards, she is in her backyard reliving and embellishing on that day dream, when a hot air balloon invades her dream, piloted by a black-haired, blue-eyed man. (See this post that wasn’t part of SixSunday for an excerpt) The balloon is real, and she chastises herself for using such a description for his eyes as “blue blue” and tries to come up with the right description while she watches him try to land. One of the options she comes up with is ‘beetle blue’ and the dialogue is from the man:

“Help! Confounded thing.”

Beetle blue? Not very romantic. But there were those little beetles that had that iridescent underbelly…

“Are you of any use, woman?”

As always I welcome constructive feedback. Thank you!

To see snippets from others who are participating or to sign up yourself, visit here.

Thank you to everyone who comes by and comments each week! 

Weekend Grab Bag – From Writing Tips to Harry Potter theme played on wineglasses

Song playing right now on my playlist: “Anywhere Out of the World” by Dead Can Dance

Writing and the Writing Life:


Browncoats:

In Geekdom:

  • And I’ll leave you with this, it’s the Harry Potter theme played on wine glasses:

Ack! I’m One of THOSE Now–How I Trained Myself to be a Morning Person…

funny pictures - mornings

Today I’m going to share a little personal journey and how it affected my writing in case it might inspire you to become… GASP… a morning person!

I’m in my mid-40s now, and I only share that so that you understand how long I’ve NOT been a morning person. In fact, I was one of those that stared at those chipper morning people with a curl of the lip and total incomprehension (you mean you choose to wake up earlier than you have to??). I was notorious for missing morning classes in college and I usually tried to escape that fate by never even scheduling one before noon, if I could manage it. In fact, at one point, in order to make sure I stopped hitting snooze until it gave up, I had to place the alarm clock clear across the room. I was the Snooze Queen all the way up until a year ago. It wasn’t unknown for me to set it for one hour earlier than need be just so I could have time to hit the snooze button. I know, that doesn’t make any sense, but there it is.

I can’t stress enough how much I hated mornings and wanted to squeeze out just ten more minutes of blissful sleep. But it used to annoy me when morning people would get pissed at me as if I were lazy. I mean, I was up far later than them doing stuff and I’m not talking about the occasional hangover type I-hate-mornings because I was up too late partying, I mean like reading, creating, brainstorming, what have you. I was more productive in the evenings, it seemed, and I just wanted my eight hours of sleep, dangit, just like they got because they went to bed early. Jeez.

Anyway, that all changed a year ago today when this happened, courtesy of a visiting cousin who found them abandoned:

The irony is, I started waking up early and became a morning person precisely because I wanted to avoid this:

advice animals memes  - Animal Memes: The Most Interesting Cat in the World: Maybe He's Got Something Important to Say

I absolutely did NOT want to have Alarm Clock Kittehs, because, you know, I valued my sleep so highly. So I trained them not to be and the result: WIN for my writing! Basically I figured that if they learned that I awoke only when my alarm rang and not because of paws in faces, meows or anything else, they’d eventually get it. I also didn’t feed them when I first got up. And remember when I said I already had my clock set an hour early to give me time to hit snooze for an hour? Well, I didn’t change it from 8 a.m. for some reason that I don’t rightly remember. So I pretended to sleep from about 6 (or whatever ungodly time the kittehs had to play roller derby on my person) until the alarm rang and I’d bound up like nobody’s business, trying to give off vibes that THIS is what gets me up, that noise you just heard, evil kittehs. And believe it or not, it worked. They might still accidentally wake me up on occasion because they decided to play, but they don’t do it with intention like I’ve heard of other cats doing so they can be fed and petted. Yay!

Anyway, I started using that extra time to do things and it was a revelation for me that I could enjoy a leisurely cup of tea and get things done before I had to go to work. Weird. Also that scratchy/fuzzy-eye feeling which made me think I had to hit snooze to appease it? It goes away! Who knew. One thing you need to know is that I don’t drink coffee, so I have to wake up naturally.

Later in the summer, I got really involved in critiquecircle.com and started using that extra time critting on that site. I then decided to set my alarm for GASP 7:30 to give me more time to crit. This came in handy when I started to blog and tweet in September. I devoted that free time to my writing career and haven’t looked back.

Recently, I took Candace Havens Fast Draft class and used that time to knock out a chunk of my daily quota. I blogged about the FastDraft experience a couple of weeks ago. On day 2 I realized that 7:30 wasn’t enough time, so I set my clock for 7:00 and that extra half hour really helped. I also discovered something shocking–I came up with more creative stuff in the morning than I did at night! And I always had believed I was at my most creative in the evenings!

Class has been over since the end of May, and I’m still waking up at 7 and devoting that time to my writing career, be it writing, querying, reading blogs, revising, critting, what have you.

Not too long ago, I was on the receiving end of the lip curl/stare of incomprehension when I told someone about this new behavior of mine. They looked at me and cut me off to impart that, No, they really liked their sleep, they couldn’t possibly do this. They then went on to explain how much and I’m nodding, thinking, yes yes, I used to be that way too, but the person didn’t believe me. She really thinks she somehow likes her sleep more than I do. I never did get a chance to explain. Oh well.

I’ve also discovered some other side effects. Twice my alarm hasn’t gone off, and now when I wake up in a panic it’s not 10 minutes before I have to be at work. I still have TIME. It also came in handy at my first writer’s conference when I was assigned 9 am slots for pitching. I didn’t bat an eye. For RWA, I actually CHOSE morning slots! Whoah.

What about you? Have you converted? Do you have a set time you devote to writing?

Monday Hunk Who Reads – Marlon Brando

Photo by Edward Clark © Time Inc., Courtesy of LIFE.com

Marlon Brando

Monday Hunk Who Reads is back! I took longer off than I’d planned, but it was a very productive break. Thought I’d kick off by going retro this morning!

Couldn’t find much, but here’s what I did find… In his autobiography, Brando: Songs My Mother Taught Me, he said:

I had to read Wuthering Heights for English and I never enjoyed a book in all my life as much as that one.

According to this article, he loved to read philosophy and could sit around discussing it for hours

Apparently a lot has been said about Brando showing up corpulent for his role in Apocalypse Now and many wonder if he read Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (book the movie was based on) at all. This book writer at The Guardian, has a different take on it.

According to imdb.com, his assistant Marchak pestered him to read Puzo’s bestseller The Godfather, wanting him to make a bid for the role. At one point he threw the book at her, saying, “For the last time, I won’t glorify the Mafia!” But then he kept coming to her with different moustaches, asking her how they looked. Obviously, he changed his mind :)

Here’s another pic of him reading

(h/t to Carrie Cox for the idea and one of the photos!)

So that’s this week’s Hunk Who Reads. If you like these articles, please comment. They’re fun to write, but are time-consuming :) – on that note, if you run across any photos of hunks reading, please let me know. If you know of an intellectual hunk you’d like to see profiled, let me know that too.

For further opportunities to idolize men and books:

Reading is sexy people!

Do you have any photos of male celebrities reading?

Come back next Monday to see the next Hunk Who Reads…

*previous Ovaries Exploding Award winner

Six Sentence Sunday – 6/17/12

Today is #sixsunday where writers share six sentences from their work. Today I’m sharing sentences of my new novel, STEAM ME UP, RAWLEY. I finished the rough draft only last month ago, so this is pretty rough. It’ll probably get revised a ton, but this will give you a rough idea.

I apologize for being largely absent last Sunday visiting y’all! Our power went out from the storm at 9 a.m. and we didn’t get it back on until that evening, combined with family visiting it proved too much… I WILL visit today!

This is a steampunk romance set in 1890 Mobile, Alabama, and a loose sequel to MUST LOVE BREECHES. The female protagonist is a reporter and she’s marched into the office of her boss to demand to write more challenging pieces. He’s being a jerk and she starts to day dream about her pet monkey, Loki, wreaking havoc on Mr. Tonti’s desk. Then, as he continued being a jerk and ignoring her, it progressed to this. When I wrote this, I had not idea the heroine had such a violent streak.

Now Loki was pulling out his left eyeball in her imagination. A nice satisfying pop as it came free. Now the other one. Yes, and with other items plucked off his person, Loki juggling them on his desk. And still Mr. Tonti worked on, unfazed.

His face turned up and glared at her with his healthy and decidedly whole eyes.

As always I welcome constructive feedback. Thank you!

To see snippets from others who are participating or to sign up yourself, visit here.

Thank you to everyone who comes by and comments each week! 

The Lucky Seven: Steam Me Up, Rawley

This week I was tagged by fellow #SixSunday writers Mae Clair and Goran Zidar in The Lucky Seven meme. Love these things, and since it’s been a while since the last time this meme went around, I thought I’d do it again. Thanks guys!

Here’s how the challenge works:

Post seven lines from an unpublished work of fiction by following these rules:

Go to page 7 or 77 in your current manuscript (fiction or non-fiction)
Go to line 7
Post the next 7 lines or sentences on your blog as they are (no cheating, please!)
Tag 7 other authors to do the same

I’m going to pull from page 7 of my first draft (so it’s still rough) of my new steampunk romance WIP called STEAM ME UP, RAWLEY. A little setup is needed. She’s just had a confrontation with her boss (Mr. Tonti), where she imagined her armored pet monkey, Loki, wreaking havoc on the guy’s desk and face. Now she’s back home and Loki is playing in the backyard and she’s daydreaming, embellishing on her fantasy of Loki making mischief in her boss’ office. However, into her vision floats something real. Is it the hero? :)

Could user more detail. More imagery. Loki living up to his namesake and swinging from the curtains, a satisfying rip as they shredded. Banging on the typewriter keys and smearing bananas on Tonti’s readout screen, the red and blue of a hot air balloon floating into view behind Loki. Oh, yes. Colorful, indeed. At the helm, a devilishly handsome man with windswept black hair and blue, blue eyes.

And now here’s the seven authors I’m tagging!

  1. Kate Warren
  2. Erin Brady Pike (Writerlious)
  3. Owllady
  4. JM Blackman
  5. Donna Cummings
  6. Jamie Ayres
  7. Sadie Hart

Six Sentence Sunday – 6/10/12

Today is #sixsunday where writers share six sentences from their work. I know some of you wanted to see what happened next in BEER AND GROPING IN LAS VEGAS, but I’ve had to take a step back from that this past week, so instead, I’m sharing the first 6 sentences of my new novel, STEAM ME UP, RAWLEY. I finished the rough draft only 2 weeks ago, so this is pretty rough. It’ll probably get revised a ton, but this will give you a rough idea.

This is a steampunk romance set in 1890 Mobile, Alabama, and a loose sequel to MUST LOVE BREECHES. The female protagonist is a reporter.

Adele de la Pointe screeched to a stop on her Davenport Horizon Electric Cell Tricycle, or Miss Smarty Pants for short. She grabbed Loki, her armored pet monkey, and pulled him up to her shoulders; better to navigate the bowels of The Mobile Register.

“Nchht niiik chtniii.”

“I know, Loki, I know.”

She reached up and ruffled the fur under his chin. Loki nuzzled her cheek, the chinstrap securing his oyster-shell helmet chaffing her ear.

As always I welcome constructive feedback. Thank you!

To see snippets from others who are participating or to sign up yourself, visit here.

Thank you to everyone who comes by and comments each week! UPDATE: Our power has been out since this morning from the Gulf Coast Deluge so I may be late getting to visit y’all!

Six Sentence Sunday – 6/3/12

Today is #sixsunday where writers share six sentences from their work. I’m eager to share lines from my new short story BEER AND GROPING IN LAS VEGAS.

The working blurb: Riley McGregor is a geek trapped in a Good Ole Boy body and as owner of a microbrewery, he’s just not meeting his type. Smart chicks never look at him twice. He’d like to find someone who appreciates him for who he truly is. Rejected by a geek who wanted to “trade up,” Mirjam Linna has lost herself in her work as a computer programmer. Her sister sets her up on this blind date as an intervention, but Mirjam wants nothing to do with it. She’ll say thanks, but no thanks, and see what’s on late night on the SyFy channel. But when they meet, they are surprised to find they had a shared connection in their past. Sparks fly as these two learn to be in the moment, be themselves and find love.

Riley met his blind date for the night. Fast forward past dinner, and things have gotten serious, fast. They are now up in their room out on the balcony. He’s gone inside to get another round of beers (in her POV):

She took in the multicolored lights of the city, let the crisp night air wash over her, and reveled in being in this moment and feeling it. Lord, how numb she’d let herself become. Like a ghost limb that had fallen asleep and suddenly tingled with awareness.

The sound of the French doors closing and his footsteps signaled the next part of this moment. She smiled. Anticipating his body beside hers again, a thrill went up her spine when his hard, masculine presence hovered behind her instead.

As always I welcome constructive feedback. Thank you!

To see snippets from others who are participating or to sign up yourself, visit here.

Thank you to everyone who comes by and comments each week!