Saturday, 31 October 2015

Cover Reveal: MICHAEL'S MYSTERY by Linzé Brandon

This is a SPECIAL AUTOGRAPHED EDITION - only the first 100 books bought will have the autograph inside. Enjoy the third book of the Nations of Peace!




Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Book Feature: START TO WRITE by Christine Royse Niles

About the Book
Start to Write began a few years ago as a talk for new interns in a storytelling development program called “Eight Things I Wish I Knew When I Started As A Writer.” After sharing the talk a couple times, one of the organization’s staff writers suggested the book. Author Christine Royse Niles had worked on books for a many other authors, but had never finished or published one of her own, and the first edition was born.

Synopsis
In Start to Write, Niles shares eight lessons she learned in her first years of being a writer, and offers eight steps to help overcome the most common fears and barriers facing growing writers. She addresses questions every writer asks, including “Will anyone will ever read what I’m writing?” “What if this has already been said?” and “How can I find a mentor to guide me?”
Start to Write will help the reader recognize—maybe even articulate for the first time—something that’s been holding them back from growing as a writer. Maybe it’s the myth that writers need a formal education or the fear that each word must be perfect before it’s set down on paper or through the keyboard. Whatever it is, by seeing it, naming it, and facing it down, each writer can start to write.


Christine Royse Niles
Christine Royse Niles
About the Author
Christine Royse Niles is a corporate refugee from Fort Wayne, Indiana where she and her husband are raising two teenage girls adopted from Ukraine. She likes to make up stories before the crack of dawn, and she works with growing writers to publish and launch books by the light of day. She has coached apprentice and staff writers for a non-profit, managed book launch and online course development for a bestselling author, and she moderates the My 500 Words Facebook group.
She is the author of The Step-by-Step Guides for Growing Writers and the forthcoming Jennifer Hughes thriller series under the pen name CM Niles. Her fiction isn't for everyone. If you are offended by bad words and want the world to be populated with unicorns, she wishes you well. But if you don't mind slipping down into the dark parts of humanity for a few hours at a time, her stories might just be perfect for you.
When she's not writing, she loves to travel around the world, always finding great hiding places for bodies whether she's in the city or the wilderness.

Follow Christine online:
Tools, tips, and tricks for growing writers: riverofthoughts.com
Edgy fiction: nileswriter.com

Saturday, 17 October 2015

35 Day Blog Challenge - Day 35: A Writer's Journey

While writing a post for this challenge, a few days ago, I reached a total word count of 1.8 million words. I was quite surprised when I updated my word count spreadsheet to see that it had actually happened. One moment I was a few thousand words short, the next moment...there it was.
It is something I started about two years ago after a Facebook friend mentioned her lifetime word count. Since I still had every manuscript I had written on my backup drive (I changed computers a few times over the years) it was purely a matter of opening each file and recording the word count on the spreadsheet.
While I include the word count of blog posts (it is creative writing after all), it accounts for less than ten percent of the total number of words.
In the overall scheme of things, this number of 1.8 million doesn't mean anything. What keeping track does show me, is how many words I write per day, on average. Right at the beginning I was still feeling my way around at creative writing and have only been a serious writer for the past four years. This is evident in my daily average number of words that have more than doubled from where I had started fifteen years ago.
I personally believe that it is not only the number of words that I have written over the years, that has helped me improve as a writer. What stands out to me is that it has become a daily necessity to me, to write. A habit has been established, and it is the habit that grows my word count.
Of course, doing 50,000 words in one month makes a significant contribution, but if it is only 50k in one year, there is no real habit, no real growth. At least not for me.
Anyone can write 1667 words per day for 30 days. The true test comes if you can write 500 words per day for 365 days. It is not the 500 words that is the issue but establishing the discipline of writing each day.
My daily average this year is 740 words per day. During NaNoWriMo months, the average goes higher, but that is temporary and I don't worry about it.
At 740 words per day, I can write 270,000 in a year. This translates to 30,000 words for blog posts (+/- 300 words twice per week) and two full-length novels of 120k words each.
Just looking at these numbers is enough to make my pants shake, and yet that is what I do.
I don't see a huge mountain of words rising before me, I read the numbers as they fall behind me. Because, like any other goal, I take it one step - or rather one sentence at a time.

This has been 35 days of sharing some of the things that I have learned on my journey as a writer. Thank you for being on this blog challenge journey with me. Until next time!

Friday, 16 October 2015

35 Day Blog Challenge - Day 34: The Last Word - Back Matter

About the Author
This may be the last paragraph in your book, but do not disregard its importance. The About the Author paragraph (or two) provides your reader a personal view into the person whose book they have just finished reading.
What should this paragraph entail? It is entirely up to you, but here are a few pointers to help you decide how to word your Author Bio:
  1. Don't lie about yourself. This does not mean that you have tell all, but don't say things that are not true to make yourself sound more important or more educated.
  2. Don't brag. It is all good and well that you have a PhD, but you can word it in such a way that people won't feel inferior to you when they read it. You want to come across as someone that your readers can relate to, PhD notwithstanding.
  3. Share something that you are interested in. A hobby or two, or something that you like to do with your family.
  4. Keep the bedroom door closed. While the sex lives of celebrities might be fascinating to the tabloids, you do not want to air your bed sheets in public. It is bad enough that the perception exists that any and all sex scenes in books are based on the writer's own experiences. It is not true for the majority of writers, but even if it is the truth in your case, refrain from mentioning that.
  5. Since you are a writer, don't forget to mention something about how you got started, or what made you write your first story.
  6. Keep it short. This is not the time for colourful prose and literary thoughts. Keep it under 200 words as far as possible.
  7. Social media contact details. Add you four (maximum) best social media profile links of which one should be your blog or website. 

For print books a photograph can be added, but check the ebook requirements as some platforms may not allow another graphic aside from the cover to be part of the published files.

Cover Reveal: SEEKING REDEMPTION by Madhu Vajpayee




Book Blurb:  Story of a girl Meera, who is unwittingly drawn into a conflict from where she finds it difficult to emerge unscathed. It's her journey from being a simple, medical graduate belonging to a middle class family to the uncharted territories of corruption and caste based politics. Her path is crossed by the two men, both compelling yet completely contrasting characters, who are forever going to change her life. If it is Aman who can challenge her ideals and defy her resolves, and makes her the person she finally becomes, it is Abhay's sublime love which enables her to go through the vicissitudes of life. It's also the story of her loss as well as triumph against her own demons to find her true self.

Pre-order from Amazon

About the Author:
Dr.Madhu Vajpayee- the writer was born somewhere in those hospital corridors where she has spent the last two decades of her life. Witnessing life at such close quarters pushed her to capture its enigma in her words and slowly it became her passion. After writing several scientific papers and chapters in books, this book is her first step in literary world.  
Having done her graduation, MBBS from King Georges Medical University (KGMU), Lucknow she went ahead to pursue her post-graduation, MD from AIIMS, New Delhi. She was a consultant at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi having been associated with management of patients living with HIV/AIDS. She is now settled in Melbourne, Australia with her family, where she is devoting most of her time to writing, the passion that she couldn’t pursue earlier because of the demands of medical profession and commitment it requires.
When not creating stories, Madhu enjoys reading and travelling.

Contact the Author:


Thursday, 15 October 2015

35 Day Blog Challenge – Day 33: Does the Front Matter?

Photograph by Linzé
The front matter in a book is everything listed before the book starts at Chapter 1, excluding the cover. We will look at print books and ebooks separately since the front matter of these are not exactly the same.
Let’s start with the ever popular ebook. The first virtual page after the cover deals with copyright, publication info and details about the book itself: the title and the name of the author.
There is usually also a space to mention other books or a link to other books by the same author. This link is useful for your reader to see that there are more books on offer if he or she likes your book. If you added a link, make sure it is working correctly and the link takes the reader directly to a place where the books are. People don’t have the time or patience to go around clicking to find something they thought would be there at the first click.
Then follows the Table of Contents (ToC) with links to each chapter and the all important About the Author details. Your reader can skip things like a Dedication page, or Note from the Author at the start, and click the link to get reading immediately.
Make sure the links are all there, in case your reader are interested and would like to read your dedications or notes too. If you are using these pages, make sure they are spell and grammar checked. Just because they are not part of the story, doesn’t mean that they are not also a showcase for your writing.
In a printed book, there is an extra page in the front that usually only contains the title, the author’s name and the publisher’s name at the bottom of the page. This is the page where you as the author will autograph the book for a reader.
Printed fiction books do not have a ToC for a single story. Multiple stories published in a single book could have a ToC, but that is not a rule with all publishers.
Of course, printed books cannot have active links to other books by the same author, but it could be listed if it is not too long. Usually, a printed list of other books by the same author is included as part of the front matter, for information.
Often this list is accompanied by short reviews of each book to inform the reader on what other people thought about the stories, and tickle their interest in purchasing those books as well.
You can do the same for an ebook, but add a link in the ToC to Reviews so that the reader has a choice to skip them.


Tomorrow we will have a look at the Back Matter.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

35 Day Blog Challenge - Day 32: To Submit or Not to Try?

For some unknown reason, people are scared to enter writing competitions. I say why not? If you win you get all kinds of exposure, if not a publishing contract. And, it saves you the pain and sleepless nights of having to write a query letter, which seems to be worse than writing an actual novel. There is no pitching an agent or editor, or any of those worries about what they will think of you.
The competitions are judged anonymously, and you don't have to do anything except submit a story, long or short.
The downside is that most of the time they don't talk to you either, i.e. there is no feedback. Although there are competitions where feedback is provided, so even that one is no longer an excuse.
The only problem I have with submitting to writing competitions is timing. They always come at the worst times. Either because my next novel is not yet ready for a submission (not finished writing that is) or I don't have a short story on hand that fit the scope of the competition, or there isn't time to write a story, at least a decent one that is.
However, when the opportunity arises, there I go, boots and all! You never know what will happen. And if you don't submit, your chance of winning are zero. Yip, nothing. So grab that story, give it another edit, and submit it. You might be the next winner!

Pop around tomorrow for more mad mutterings on my Broomstick!

If you want to see what the other participants are blogging about, you can find their blogs here. Why not pop on over and leave a comment?


Tuesday, 13 October 2015

35 Day Blog Challenge - Day 31: Blogging a Book

In a chat group someone asked the other day how does one blog a book, or do you just write posts about the book for marketing purposes? Personally I think you can go either way, but as a writer, trying to establish yourself? Write a book.
It can be fiction or non-fiction, both can work wonderfully as a series of blog posts. Just one thing to remember: once posted it is considered published because it will be in the public domain. So no entering competitions where it explicitly states 'not published before'. Competitions can be funny that way, but the rules are the rules.
On the other hand, if people like your blog posts, ie your book very much, they will tell you. 

To give an example: Yip I have one of those on hand - my friend, Vanessa Wright, wrote a series of posts about her Muse. And they were not only very funny, people like them so much that they had been pestering her to publish them in a book.
And to keep things interesting, she added a few stories, not on her blog - now, that's the part that will sell the book. People have seen and loved her posts, and the book will give them more of that.
Well, the good news is she is busy with the final edits, the cover looks amazing, and hopefully soon I will be able to twist her arm to let me introduce her muse to you right here on the Broomstick.

My attempt to complete a non-fiction book has been done the same way. Using the 35 Day Author Blog Challenge I have written several posts to be included in the book. Some of the posts were edited before inclusion, simply because of the style, but others were used as is.
One or two posts were expanded because I don't like long-winded blog posts, but the topic required more detail before it would have worked for the book.

Whichever way you decide to use your blog to write a book, enjoy the process and may your readers enjoy the journey with you!

Monday, 12 October 2015

35 Day Blog Challenge - Day 30: Blogging to share

As I have taken part in this Author Blog Challenge, I have noticed that some of the blog sites cannot be shared. If I found a post interesting, I had to copy the link and then go to Google+ (where I prefer to share blog posts) to share the link there.
This posed two problems:
I had to this manually. I don't mind, but it could have saved time if I had the opportunity to just click, and the post would be shared automatically.
This brings me to the second problem: the blogger didn't know that I shared his or her post. Without the link on the blog, I would have to tag the blogger in the share to let them know what I did. Since some bloggers don't have their names visible on their blogs, or they don't have a profile on Google+, it was not possible for me to to that.
I have been fortunate that people shared my posts on social media sites, including Google+, but four days ago, a visitor made the comment that she couldn't reblog my post. This was a surprise, since I didn't know how to allow that by means of a app or widget to be clicked.
After a little research (and a very helpful blog) I learned that it was a little more complicated than activating an app to share my posts.

You have to understand that while I trained as an electronics engineer, programming and software code was never my strong point. So when the blog said, go HTML and edit that code, I went ice cold. Fiddling around with software code could create all kinds of havoc, which I simply do not have the patience or knowledge to fix.
But, I have to mention in my defence, I can read a mean instruction manual. Which I did. As holding my breath, thumbs, toes and a few unmentionables, I click save after adding the extra code.
There were no fireworks, or alarm bells screaming at me. Neither was there any smoke pouring out of the keyboard or flashing screens with all kinds of errors in my face.
So far so good. And then I tested it, again too anxious to rush into the process. Too weird! It worked!

It doesn't matter which platform your blog is hosted on, add those social media and reblog buttons, you never know who might want to share your words with the world.

This week is the last of days of the 35 Day Author Blog Challenge and I want to personally thank everyone taking part in the challenge for all the terrific posts you had written. I trust you will enjoy my last five posts too.

If you want to see what the other participants are blogging about, you can find their blogs here. Why not pop on over and leave a comment?


Sunday, 11 October 2015

35 Day Blog Challenge - Day 29: Review Reality - do you dare to?

This is my third post on writing reviews, and this time we will have a look at reviewing non-fiction. Of all the genres, this has to be the most difficult simply because non-fiction is not the same as fiction. Non-fiction deals with real life, real situations and real problems. Before I start on the subject, let me clarify: for the sake of this post, academic and other educational books are excluded. The aim is to look as books available to the general public, you and me, via the normal book distribution channels.

To my mind there are three categories of non-fiction:
  • Self-help books: yoga, weight-loss, books on religion and its topics, psychological issues, etc.
  • Books to learn a skill: crafts, writing, art, cooking, meditation, etc.
  • Books that inform or entertain you: wildlife, travel books, history books, biographies, etc.

There are probably more than what I can think of right now, and some of these books can be categorised in more than one way, depending on the contents and your intention of reading it. And that is the essence of reading non-fiction: do you intend to read it for information? Do you want to better yourself? Or are you a writer or subject guru who is doing research for your next book?
When writing a review about a non-fiction book, I am of the opinion that you should state the reason you read the book in the first place. It will explain to the reader of the review, be it the author or a potential buyer, where you are coming from.
If you are a subject expert, and you give the book a less than exalted review, but you didn't state your reason, people might get the wrong impression. If you are a novice, this book might just be the best thing that has happened to you.
The same applies to someone who is reading the book for information's sake. Was the topic covered sufficiently for you to get what you needed? Did you find it easy to read the text? If you used one of the references, was it useful in aiding your understanding of the subject?
While many people, writers included, use the Internet for research, I have found that some subjects should not be researched on our source-of-all-information. I am referring to sex. Before you block my blog and report me to the police, let me clarify.
I needed to understand more about tantra. I searched for books that explained the philosophy behind it, rather than the practical application which was not what I required for my book, We, the One. I needed something different, a new point of view if you like, to tackle this story where intimacy is the key problem between my main characters. Intimacy is more than physical, it has some emotional and spiritual connections too, and I wanted a fresh approach for my story, thus the research and the books.
I found three of them: the first was as dull as dishwater, the second was leaning more towards the physical, and the third explained the approach I was looking for.
Now all three books had merit, but not all of it was useful to me. The first would be a textbook for students of tantra, but it was way too philosophical and vague for what I needed. The second was too physical, as mentioned. The third had more of the information I was looking for, although I was not happy with some of the religious statements the author made in the text. So if I had to review any or all three of these books, I would need to tell you why I read them, otherwise you would have no idea why I would review them the way I did.
I am not going to review these three books, because it would serve no purpose to people who would buy these books. They are all being marketed as books to improve your sex life, and the characters in my book had a completely different need that I had to figure out.

So here is what I suggest for reviewing non-fiction books:
  1. Tell your audience why your read the book - to improve yourself, learn something new or for information only.
  2. If the first two of these reasons apply to you, then study the book, do the exercises and take the next step towards that which you want: to be a better person, or to learn how to crochet. Only then write the review so your audience can appreciate the reasons you gave it three stars, for example.
  3. If you read the book for information only, then tell your audience if the information was useful and did the author fulfil your expectations for buying the book in the first place.

I bought my books online and had limited information available, therefor the two out of three booboo.
If you feel this post wasn't helpful, I won't blame you, since non-fiction reviews are not as easy and straight forward as reviews for fictional books. It is not just about liking or disliking the contents, it could be a life changing event to someone who reads your review.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

35 Day Blog Challenge - Day 28: When a cold shower is not enough

Their+1
Erotica and erotic romance are two of the genres where people often overlook the essence of good writing. Sex sells, right? The more the better, right? Wrong!
I am going to tell you two stories - the first was relayed to me, the second I have experienced first hand.
A very good friend told me recently that she knows someone who buys erotic romance novels, and then reads everything except the sex scenes. My friend and I both went, what? Seriously? Either this person was lying, or she bought bad books. Because no book, erotic or not, should have any scenes in there that do not 1) move the plot forward or, 2) says or does something to help the reader understand the characters better, or 3) contributes to or resolves a conflict between the characters. Yes, this includes scenes where two or more people are having sex.
If you can read an erotic romance novel, still follow the plot and empathise with the characters' issues, without reading the sex scenes, then those scenes were superfluous to start off with.
My second story. I have recently read several erotic and erotic romance stories (and I am not going to mention any titles) where my first thought was: no, please just no! No characterisation, no plot (or almost a plot), and conflict? Non-existent. In my opinion the author should have been honest and upfront and called it porn. Stop trying to disguise it as erotica or worse, erotic romance. These have been some of the worst stories I have attempted to read in recent times.
The female characters especially, were weak minded, and never even think to say no, or slow down. The male characters were one dimensional, or was it one track minded? The plot had no substance and there were no scenes that didn't involve wanting sex, getting sex or more sex. Sound like porn? Well, it sure wasn't romantic in my opinion.

To review such stories can be difficult. The instances I mention above are the two extremes, and fairly easy to spot, but what about the 60-70% in-between the porn and the superfluous?
If you are a regular reader of the genre, you will probably have read the New York Times and USA Today Bestsellers too. Those authors make those bestseller lists because they are good writers. They understand the essentials of a good story, with or without burning up the bedsheets.
To be honest, the level of heat in the story is simply a choice the author makes when she or he wrote the book. The characters still need to be three dimensional, the plot still needs to be believable and draw the reader in, and the conflict driving the plot must still be the reason you keep reading until the end. And those bed sheet scenes need to be such a part of the story that if you skip over it, you have to frown and wonder: what had changed, or what did I miss?

Don't stare yourself blind against the sex scenes, but make sure to look at all the other aspects of the book too. If you are a not a writer, review the story around the characters. Was the hero more than tall, dark and sexy? Did you like him or her? Did you lose sleep because you couldn't wait to find out what happened at the end? And were you disappointed that the story ended, because you wanted more?

The advertising industry might have convinced the world that sex sells, but don't let bad writing fool you into buying a book just because there is steam coming out of the pages.

See you tomorrow with the third post on reviews: reviewing non-fiction.

Friday, 9 October 2015

35 Day Blog Challenge - Day 27: Blowing my own blog horn...sort of

Today I am going to do something, that I don't do very often: blow my own horn...sort of. The days of the traditional publisher spending loads of money on marketing campaigns are long gone. In the same vein, self-published authors only have their own resources available and in many cases that resources are limited to non-existent.
That is where the network of other self-published authors and blogging enthusiasts pull their combined resources together to help out. I belong to both categories: self-published author and blogger. So if we don't have money, how do we pull our resources together?
Networking. Bloggers build up a following and a network over time. That network will include anyone and everyone who has anything to do with books - from writers, editors, bloggers, reviewers to readers and fans.
While I as a blogger don't charge anything for an author to have their book featured on my blog, I also get the benefit of new visitors and perhaps a new follower or two, which helps to expand my network to the benefit of all.
The featured author will be introduced to my followers who may be looking for some interesting new material for their reading lists. As a blog host, I have found more than one new author whose books are now on my to-read list as soon as they are published.
A second benefit for me is a post on my blog. While I plan to have at least two posts per week, it seldom works out that way. When I have an author's book to feature, it helps me with a post even as the author gets some added exposure for his or her book.
This is not a tap on my own shoulder, but a big thank you to all the bloggers out there who help to spread the word (and book) of the self-published author such as myself.


If you want to see what the other participants in the challenge are blogging about, you can find their blogs here. Why not pop on over and say hi?



Thursday, 8 October 2015

35 Day Blog Challenge - Day 26: Keeping track of detail in series writing

Style sheet, Keeper of the Dragon Sword
Style sheet: Keeper of the Dragon Sword
There is a handy little tool used by editors and copy editors that I found to be useful for series writing: it is called a style sheet. While editors will use it to keep track of unique words, facts they have to check, spelling of characters' names (especially the weird ones I sometimes use) and so on. The editor does not know your story the way you do, so by making notes they keep track of things they have to check to make the editing of your story the best it can be.
As a fantasy and science fiction author, I sometimes have to invent words. I often come up with unusual names for my characters, for instance Alu''Adr'Erinia is the Guardian of the Future, whom you will meet in Michael's Mystery. Not only do I need to keep track of multiple characters as the series evolves, I have to keep track of the spelling of their names too. Those apostrophes - what was I thinking?
It is not only the names that I need to keep track off, but also the setting. The stories of the Nations of Peace take place on several planets, but my characters also travel from one to another. The means of travel depends on the reason for their journey. In Géra's Gift, T'ara, Ta'an and Géra were on space ships involved in a war with the planet Simi.
In book 4, Waiting for Adrian (coming in 2016) there is another war, so keeping track of the technology of the war machine is important.
Also important is knowing (and keeping it straight) which characters have what abilities. Who can space jump for instance. And who can dimension jump. There is a difference between the two modes of travel, and remembering who can do what can become a nightmare without using some kind of tool to help out.
Whether your series is simpler or more complicated as this one of mine, keeping a record of things and people featuring in multiple stories, is essential.
I found using style sheets to be an easy and quick way to do it, but whatever means you choose, keeping your facts straight across several books can be challenge if you are not prepared for it from the start.

Pop around tomorrow for a special post about blogging and author promotions on the Broomstick.

If you want to see what the other participants are blogging about, you can find their blogs here. Why not pop on over and leave a comment?


Book Feature: Frontier Preacher: Ill Repute by David A Millican III

Synopsis
Hollis feared the loneliness would swallow him whole. He had arrived in Wyoming to fulfill his uncle’s dying wish – that he save the people of Gillette – but his education and faith had not prepared him for the bitter cold and hardened hearts of the west. A dark secret in his new home threatens to destroy his very soul. Will Hollis be strong enough to stand against the tide of evil? Can he overcome where stronger men failed, before the west claims another victim?

Vote for Frontier Preacher @
and get a free copy after publication!

Watch the trailer @
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8v8yVLnleA

Excerpt
Cold bit his hand when he gripped the rail as he exited the train. James had been right; this was a wholly different cold than Tennessee. The snow had seemed the same out the window during the trip, though the land was flat and featureless. The cabin was cold during the trip, cold enough to see his breath, but not cold enough to reach his bones. He had wrongly assumed it would be the same outside. The clear sky had only a few traces of clouds and a bright sun, which had lent its warmth to the window in the cabin.
As he stepped down onto the crunching frozen snow of Cheyenne, the sun might as well have been a ball of bright ice. The wind ripped at his face with cold that burned and it tore through his clothes like they were tattered curtains. James had said to be prepared, and Hollis had thought he was but now he knew it was impossible to prepare for this. The lining of his nostrils froze and his scalp felt like it was being pierced with a thousand little needles. The air in his lungs was so cold that he began to cough like a backroom painted woman after too many years in the sheets.

About the Author
A storyteller from a young age David was born and raised in Wyoming. His twenties were spent traveling and experiencing the world. He now spends his time in McKeesport Pennsylvania with his wife Emily. He has been writing since he was a child, enjoying success in the young authors program, local literary magazines, and blogging.

Follow David online:

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

35 Day Blog Challenge - Day 25: Infographics for Authors

Infographic, Obsession by Linzé Brandon
Obsession by Linzé Brandon
You have probably seen these cute and compact graphic images all over the internet and social media websites. They contain useful information, but it is not represented as dry facts and figures. Instead the information is relayed in graphical format: compact and colourful; informational as well as entertaining. Not so long I was looking of these infographics (I cannot recall the subject matter) but it gave me an idea: use it for my books.
So far I have made three: the first was for Obsession, published in June this year and the second was for Michael's Mystery. The first I shared with all and sundry, but the second will live on my computer until the book is ready. I made a third infographic, and it is displayed on my office wall at home. This last infographic is a visual plan that I have to achieve my own goals.
Despite on how complex the graphics might appear, they are not that difficult to construct. You can get professional graphic designer, or use an online app (I use Piktochart) or even use software for making slideshows (such as Keynote for Apple) to create your own infographics.
To design the infographic for Obsession, I used the book cover as the primary image. Since it is black and white to fit in with the rest of the series, I added red accents to liven up the colour scheme. The book title, its relation to the other books in the series, and some cryptic info on the main character was added.
You can add as much or as little detail as you want, and use any colour scheme that compliments the colours of your book cover.
It is one image with details about your book that you can share in one place. Add the link to where the book can be purchased then you have supplied a picture worth a thousand words to a reader - all in one go.
Very handy book marketing tools, these infographics. Try them for yourself, they are super easy to make.

Pop around tomorrow to see how I keep track of details when writing a series.

If you want to see what the other participants are blogging about, you can find their blogs here. Why not pop on over and leave a comment?

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

35 Day Blog Challenge - Day 24: How Pinterest helped me with my Third Novel

I have always said that Pinterest is more useful than just a website filled with pretty pictures. When I start a new book, I create a new board with the name of the story as a work in progress (WIP). Then I spent some time - hours most of the time - searching for images that embodies the story as I visualise it.
I also find photographs of people. Often because of their physical characteristics that are the same as my characters'. But it doesn't end there. While I was searching for images about the desert and desert people I noticed something that I hadn't thought about: their clothing. People living in a desert do not dress the same way as people living in an urban or even a rural environment. Their environment is plagued by intense heat, blindingly bright sunshine and dust. Their clothing reflects their environment, and as such I had to rethink the way my characters would live and dress.
In Michael's Mystery, Michael learned that desert people have one major concern: conservation of their water resources. He also learned how people looked out for each other when confronted with dehydration and being caught in a sandstorm. These are the realities of desert living and I became more aware of this as I found images on Pinterest to add to my board for Michael's Mystery.
Even the desert itself presented a few challenges while I was writing. Would people still be travelling by camel train? Why not? The skill to navigate a desert is not one learned overnight and Michael experienced that firsthand when he went with Andesine to see the first people that he had to interview. He also had to travel by camel when they visited a remote village.
Images and photographs I found on Pinterest made the ideas I had about Michael's Mystery, its characters and setting come alive in my mind. It had been one of the most exciting storyboards I had put together and I hope that when you read the story (it is planned for release on 31 October 2015) you will see the elements in the story as I selected them for the storyboard for Michael's Mystery.

Pop around tomorrow for my view on the use of infographics for books.

If you want to see what the other participants are blogging about, you can find their blogs here. Why not pop on over and leave a comment?

Monday, 5 October 2015

35 Day Blog Challenge - Day 23: Internal vs External Conflict - a report on the #ROSACon2015 presentation by Romy Sommer

fighting, karate
Romy dealt with the one subject that differentiates a narrative from a story, the dull from the exciting - conflict. Without conflict in a story, there is no motivation for the reader to finish the story. The reader will not be rooting for the hero (and heroine) and will soon be bored since there will be nothing that drives the story to its conclusion. Does the hero overcome his biggest obstacle? Do the hero and heroine finally overcome their past prejudices, fears, histories, problems and let their hearts embrace the love waiting for them?
Even in romance fiction external conflict needs to assist in the internal conflict that drives the story forward. The main plot is the development of the relationship, and the focus must remain on the romance even in romantic sub-genres.
Romy addressed both the aspects of internal conflict and external conflict in category romance fiction with clear examples and focus on the genre's expectations.
Romance stories are primarily stories about relationships, and the motivation (or lack thereof) that the main characters experience to get to their happily ever after.
All other story structures need to support this concept and Romy addressed this with clarity in her talk. She also went on to explain want conflict is not, as these situations are often confused with what does constitute the conflict in the scene.
Overall a talk well worth listening to, even for published authors as we sometimes need a reminder of the essential elements of the stories that we write.

~Romy Sommer is the President and one of the founding members of ROSA.
~Linzé Brandon is a member of ROSA and the administrator of the official Twitter account @SARomance

Pop around tomorrow for my view on the usefulness of Pinterest.

If you want to see what the other participants are blogging about, you can find their blogs here. Why not pop on over and leave a comment?


Sunday, 4 October 2015

35 Day Blog Challenge - Day 22: Time for Some Strategic Planning

It doesn't matter if you are published or not, traditionally published or self- published, there is one thing that stands above every other thing in a writer's life: marketing. You have to get your name out there and establish your unique brand. You have to get people excited about your writing, your books and you.

It is also the one thing that both planners and pantsers have in common: a marketing strategy. Even if you are the world's best writer, if people don't know about you, they won't buy your books. Period.
You need a strategy and a plan to make this happen, and it doesn't have to wait until your first book is published. In fact it is better to start the process long before your book is published.
The strategy is what you want to achieve, and the plan is how you are going to do it, with dates, details and budgets - the works.
Start by setting yourself a goal. State the date by when you want to achieve it, and what you have to do to get it done. Get three hundred more followers on Facebook? Do ten guest posts on other people's blogs?
Everything should be measurable. Three hundred more followers than you have right now. You can measure that. Ten guest posts? You can measure that. A plan needs specifics so that you can see if it is working.

See you tomorrow!

If you want to see what the other participants are blogging about, you can find their blogs here. Why not pop on over and leave a comment?


Saturday, 3 October 2015

35 Day Blog Challenge - Day 21: Wattpad

Wattpad is the one platform where authors can find their feet. It allows you to post stories, or chapters of stories for readers to enjoy. All uploads are free and will remain that way. Many authors post their chapters here to get a feel for what their readers do and don't like.


This is not a bad approach as long as you remember a few things:

  • Wattpad is a showcase of your writing, not a scratchpad for ideas still to go somewhere. Make sure your story or chapter is finished, edited and edited again before uploading or make visible for your readers. Bad spelling or grammar or stupid plot mistakes are not the way to convince your readers, your followers, that you are a writer.
  • With every new story you upload, you have to add a cover image. Since this website is not a website for publication or distribution of books, the cover image does not have to be very big. But beware of low resolution or pixelated images. Do the design as if for a real book and your readers will feel the respect you are putting towards them with a professional product.
  • Your profile needs to be professional and creative. Just because it is not a publication website, doesn't mean you can treat it with disdain. Take yourself seriously as a writer, and your readers will do the same.
From a personal perspective: I use Wattpad to upload flash fiction or short stories that I have usually written for competitions. Flash fiction is an ideal way to showcase your writing. For competitions, you are restricted in word count and often you have to tell a whole story with a beginning, middle and ending in less than 1000 words. This style has to be tight and does not allow for wasted words, and yet a story cannot exist without the elements of characterization, conflict and some kind of resolution. Challenging writing at its best. And a great way to show your skills and storytelling abilities.

I don't like the idea of posting one or chapters of a book and then my readers have to go somewhere else to buy the rest of the book if they like it. Some people do, but that is a personal choice.
As an author platform, Wattpad is under utilised in many aspects. If blogging about 'topics' does not appeal to you, or you prefer to write stories for your blog instead, why not also use Wattpad as well? Start a new series of flash fiction stories. They take mere minutes to read, which will appeal to a wide professional audience constantly pressed for time, and build your fan base from there.
If people like your stories, they will find your books at the booksellers' websites.


See you tomorrow!

If you want to see what the other participants are blogging about, you can find their blogs here. Why not pop on over and share their posts on your favourite platform?