Sunday, 19 November 2017

Words, Statistics and Time — the creative life's little problems

Linzé Brandon, Apple Watch on charging stand
Linzé's iWatch on its charging stand
I recently read an article where the blogger/author mentioned that if you wrote 1000 words in an hour, it shouldn't take you more than 50 hours to write a 50 000 word book.
It also means that a full-length fantasy or other novel, typically in the order of 100k+ words, can be done in 100 hours. Now we are talking first drafts here. Editing and all the other activities to get a book to publishable quality, are not included in those hours.
So that means NaNoWriMo should take me (at two hours per day) only 25 days to do. These two hours are what I have available on a weekday. If I double that to 4 hours per weekend day then my NaNoWriMo target should have been completed today - the 19th of November. Since I have not achieved the 50k yet, it means that I am not as efficient as I would like to believe. Based on current performance, and present word count (41010 words) I would then complete the requisite 50k words in two days, the 21st.
Crunching a few more numbers, it means that I have only been 90% efficient at using my time this November. Using 30 days out of a potential 365 days of writing is not a large enough sample to draw any conclusions.
So I went to my word count spreadsheet for the year to see how efficiently I have used my time this year, so far. To do the math correctly, I can therefor only count the days until today - 19 November. This means my calculations must be done for 323 days if I include today.
So here is what my numbers for the 323 days of 2017 look like:
Writing: 208130 words
Editing: 126.5 hours
Until now there were 45 full weekends (ie, 2 days) plus one weekend day (today). I counted Saturdays, but it makes no difference since 1 January fell this year on a Sunday.
So that gave me 323 days x 2 hours per day + 90 weekend days x 2 additional hours per weekend day + today's 4 hours = 830 available writing hours
At 1000 words per hour, I should have written 830 000 words this year!
Let's work with hours; the numbers are just smaller to use for the calculations. Based on the 1000 words per hour premise, I had been writing for 208.1 hours up to today. Add the editing (because I can only do one of the two at a time) my total hours spend on writing projects so far were 334.6 hours.
Now my efficiency does not look that good anymore, does it? Crunching the numbers one last time gives me 334.6 / 830 = 40%.
I have used only 40% of the time I have allocated for writing this year. If this does not bother you, you can rest assured, it bothers the freaking daylight out of me!
To be honest, I type about 1200 words in an hour, which is not helping my case at all.
So where did things go wrong? Alternatively, did they go wrong at all? Am I deluding myself into thinking that writing for two hours per day is what is happening?

Reassessing my writing time slash writing life:

1. I don't suffer from writer's block, never have. So if I don't write, there must be other reasons for not writing - exhaustion, illness, and other obligations. These things happen, I am only human.
2. I read a lot. Since I work full-time, I have to choose between writing or reading in my spare time. Reading does not make me feel guilty for not writing, so those hours (which I have not kept track of) probably account for a significant portion of my writing hours not used for writing. To date, I have read 45 books - not nearly as many as I have done in recent years.
3. Studying. In September and October, I did a management course (on my own time) which required 60 hours of studying and assignments. It inspired me to change direction in my professional life. That means that I am now studying towards my diploma in Life Coaching. Again, hours taken away from my writing time.
4. Art. I have made it a point to do more art this year, and I have. The exact hours recorded are lost in a file that I cannot recover, but I did not spend them writing when I used pencils or paint brushes.
As I sit reading what I wrote here, I realise that I haven't done that badly at all. I completed Camp NaNoWriMo both times on target, I am about to finish the 50k version in the next two days, and while my fourth novel is late, it will still be published this year.
However, I have to ask: was I only 40% efficient? Judging by the numbers, I would have to say yes. However, this is my life, and while numbers don't lie, they simply cannot tell the whole story with all its plotlines, intricacies, and surprises.
Time is the most precious resource we have, and maybe I shouldn't use the number of words I write as a measure of how I spend my time. At least, not as the only parameter. A qualitative element could be more useful. Was that hour, day or week's time happy, satisfactory or fulfilling instead. Something to consider as the approach of a new year lends itself to a new way of doing things.

Until next time!

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Eyes wide shut...a book review

The Unstoppable Creative by Todd Brison

I don't know about you, but I have been getting tired of the new 'writing books and courses' that are being advertised all over the internet. I mean what's wrong with the thousands (yes, thousands!) of books and courses already available? Are authors now telling the rest of us that writing is not the thing anymore, it is teaching? Then I guess we should go into teaching.
Personally, I own more than a handful of books about writing, writing better, writing for the internet, blah, blah, blah. Instead of reading more books about writing, I have been looking for books about being a writer. Yeah, there is a difference, and a big one too.
So it was with real anticipation that I volunteered to review Todd's latest book, The Unstoppable Creative. And it is not just for writers. Or artists. Most of us think that unless you do art, or are an author, you are not creative. You couldn't be more wrong because Creativity (with a capital c) comes in many forms.
What I particularly liked about the book is that the author doesn't tell you: Now THIS is the best way. There are many, many articles and books out there to tell you that to be successful or be the best writer or artist, you have to do the next five steps, and bam! Success rolls in the front door.
For those of us who have been in this game for a while, it is more a question of if it's not working for me, what can I learn for it to make my situation work for me.
There are no quick fixes, but there are ways for creative people to get more from the hours that they do have. And before you roll your eyes, no there is no ONE solution. As much as my life, my writing, and my art differ from yours, a strategy that works for me will probably make you break out in hives.
The Unstoppable Creative is a book for people to understand what creativity really is, and how you can develop a strategy (and plans) to make your own creativity work for you. How you can make your own creativity earn money for you.
As with any changes you start with yourself and your way of thinking about your life and your creativity. The author does mention people who have made things work for them, and not all of them in a way that you might think. It is a focus on learning and understanding and often outside your usual situation. Since I study a wide range of topics, it is this outside-the-box approach to learning that resonates with my own philosophy about my own creativity that I appreciate about the book.
Writers and other creatives need to understand what it is they truly need to do to grow in their art, in their own person, to achieve what it is they want out of their art. The author outlines the limitations we create for ourselves, the wrong stories we tell ourselves and believe, that destroys the opportunities we might have seen as a result.
But the book also helps us to understand how we can overcome these limitations. How we can set our own course and that we don't need much beyond our own belief in ourselves to live the life we want.
My creative life starts with me, and if you want to take that step too then this book is a must-read for you.

My rating: 

NOTE: The book launches today. If you are interested in where to find it, please pop over to Facebook or Twitter where I will share the link as soon as it is available. 

💜  LinzéB

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Why do we write? Let me count the ways by Richard Beynon

Why do throngs of people around the world feel the urge to record their thoughts and feelings and observations, but, more than that, to shape them into narratives that engage and enthrall others?
The internet age – with its promise of instant publication and worldwide distribution – has ushered in millions more writers who dream of firing the imagination of readers, and making a mint of money in the process.
But it’s not simply money that drives us, I don’t believe. Even the most commercial writers who crank out an annual thriller or detective story in time for the Christmas rush, are driven at least partly – and I suspect, mostly – by the thrill of creation.
Because it’s out of the threads and tangles of our imaginations, fed by our observation of the world and its players, that we weave our stories. And that act itself nurtures the powers of our imagination, and sharpens our observation of the world. There is instant reward and gratification for creating stories – and the more skillful we become at shaping these stories, the greater the reward.
Perhaps it’s because the act of writing calls on our whole selves in a way that few other – if any – activities do. Not only does it yoke the active and fluid imagination, it also calls on all our powers of critical reasoning.
Many of us have remarked on how totally lost to the world we become in creating our own universes. This is little wonder, given the complete commitment that writing demands and elicits.
Writing plays a subversive role amongst the snarls of our own prejudices. We might create a villain who embodies all the vileness we’ve encountered in others – and then find, when we stand in his shoes, that there are vulnerabilities and weakness present that, while they might not excuse him, make him human, and capable, therefore, of remorse and redemption.
One of the injunctions directed at writers of fiction is to give their antagonists the best arguments. Thinking your way into the logic of a bad character - or even a character very different from you - yields surprisingly good insights and will develop sympathies that could, not to put too fine a point on it, expand your moral horizons.
And then, of course, whenever a writer plugs in her laptop, or uncaps her pen, she embarks on a hero’s journey of her own that at once generates surprises, heart-stopping climaxes but above all direction. Every story you embark on constitutes a project with its own imperatives and goals.
Ursula le Guin, author of the magical Wizard of Earthsea, dwelt on what writing means to the writer. She wrote, “A writer is a person who cares what words mean, what they say, how they say it. Writers know words are their way towards truth and freedom, and so they use them with care, with thought, with fear, with delight. By using words well, they strengthen their souls.”
Perhaps we should encourage others to join the throng.
Happy writing,


For more writing tips and a little motivation click here to read Jo-Anne’s latest blog, Writing Secrets: Sentences aren’t strong men – don’t overburden them and click here to read last week's Monday Motivation: The bigger the story, the larger your lens


Note from me: The post was reblogged with permission from Richard at

Monday, 6 November 2017

Review: The Blue Unicorn's Journey to Osm by Sybrina Durant

illustrations by Dasguptarts
It is a story for young adults featuring a tribe of unicorns threatened by an evil overlord. It is mainly a story about finding friendship, love, and learning to fight together to defeat the evil that threatens them.
Buy the book: Amazon
The main characters set off on a journey to help fulfil the prophesied destiny of Blue, born without a metal horn. The story details their adventures and how they all learned that together they could find their way back home.
It has been a long time since I read a story intended for a much younger audience, and I did enjoy it. The illustrations (watercolour paintings) were bright and depicted various scenes throughout the story. The colouring book option, I am sure would appeal to the intended audience.
Given the nature of the story, I would say the book would appeal more to girls than to boys.
I reviewed the PDF version of the book, and here was the only thing that detracted from my enjoyment - the font of the text made it difficult to read, even on a computer screen. I don't know what the other formats look like, but a different font (such as Times New Roman) would have made it an easier read.
Overall a nice story, and worth reading.

My rating: 

(the review is part of a b00kr3vi3ws blog tour)

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Now is not the time to study writing...

My NaNoWriMo history
If you are a writer, your inbox has probably been inundated with emails about NaNoWriMo. Websites that sell all kinds of writing advice books that want you to buy their offerings before November. Others that offer online courses about writing just in time for November.
All of these are of course marked down by 50% or more to entice you to their websites to buy their products, to make you a better writer.
I have terrible news for you: at this late stage of the game (NaNoWriMo is three days away!) reading any writing advice books, or doing any online courses, are not going to help you. Any course or book requires time to study, time to practice what they teach you, and time for you to learn and get better at the craft of writing.
So should you just ignore these emails? Delete them without a glance? My answer is a bit different from what you might have anticipated. No, don't delete them, but don't do the work either. Huh?
Books about writing can be costly, so if you have been wondering whether or not you want to buy a book or two, I would say go for it. The prices are marked down, so now they are affordable.
If the online course allows you do buy the video course do it now as long as you can watch it later.
So why all the fuss, when I advise you not to do anything so close to the 1st of November? The answer is simple: time.
All skills take time to develop, and while it will be good for you to acquire the means to better your skills, now is not the time to do it. You simply cannot learn all there is to learn about writing in three days. Sure you can try, but what will you remember? How much will you be able to practice in time for November? The answer is not much if anything.
People place so much pressure on themselves in November to write that best-seller, because a few others have done that. The fact is, those books only became best-sellers months (or even years) after they were drafted in a NaNoWriMo challenge. That first draft is so far removed from the end product, that it might very well be unrecognisable to anyone who compares it to the published book.
So go out there and write that awful, misspelled, confused plot structured, wayward genre of fantastical characters in the medieval times, with characters cavorting with warriors dressed in kilts and wielding laser firing longbows and crystalline swords. Worry about the grammar, and the spelling and plot gaps later.
Because the one thing that November 2017 should always be in your memories nine years from now, is that it was fun. Whether the book is a national best-seller or an international movie blockbuster, at some point in your life writing has to be a pleasurable experience too, doesn't it?
Hard work it is, long hours of editing it will be, but if you don't enjoy writing the first draft, when will you have the chance to just love what you do? Write!
My writing buddy 😍
So join me on my seventh journey down the NaNoWriMo rabbit hole. Put away the books, and clear out your desks. Pour the coffee and gather your energising snacks. Dust off your writing buddies and let the words flow with glorious abandon and screaming pleasure. November is here!
You will have lots of time to study those books and watch those videos afterwards.
Let the fun begin!

💜 Linzé
PS: You can find me as Alexandra Beck on the NaNoWriMo website. 

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Preptober...NaNoWriMo is coming!

Linzé's Story Cubes 
October is preparation month. Preparation for the writing challenge of the year: NaNoWriMo. It doesn't really matter which type of writer you are, planner or pantser, or even a combination of the two, November is an exciting time for writers.
And it is not only about bleeding over the keyboard (to paraphrase Hemingway), but it is also about the togetherness and support from other writers struggling to get to that elusive 50k target.
Infographic Source
My October is already running at the height of busyness in preparation for November. So far I have completed the first two mind maps for my collection of five short stories. I am not a planner, exactly, but have learnt over time that some kind of planning (hence the mind maps) goes a long way towards easing the struggle of the words for NaNoWriMo. I have managed to write myself into corners before, and it is a mess trying to get out when the 1667 daily target is looming like the proverbial guillotine overhead.
The last three of the five short stories are brewing in the back of my mind. Right now they are still vague, foggy plots of characters and storylines. Maybe a phantom hid inside a box in a basement of the old Burlesque club. Or blood spilled by a jealous lover coming to haunt the granddaughter of the present owner. Hmmm...the brain cells are spinning already.
Teaser cover, Waiting for Adrian, Linzé Brandon, Nations of Peace series
October is also publication month for the fourth novel in my fantasy romance series, The Nations of Peace. The book is entitled, Waiting for Adrian, and in this case, poor Adrian had to wait 12 years for me to finish his story. No wonder he is glaring at me with those incredible eyes. Sorry Adrian, but I promise it will be available very soon!
If you have read Galen's Hope (one of the Journey anthology stories), you would have noticed that the story is not finished. Galen and Richard set off for the next part of their quest to the planets in the third solar system in Richard's Choice. The second story of the trilogy is off to the editor this week. It too might see the light of the published day before the end of this year. The last story, Galen's Destiny, is not too far behind. Keep an eye out for the entire trilogy in a collection coming your way in 2018.
On a more personal note: my studies to become a life coach is progressing right on schedule. We are also busy converting a part of our home to a training facility. The flooring is almost done, and the ceiling will be going in at the end of the week. Then the walls have to be painted, and the necessary signage added, as required by law.
The courses and seminars that I will be presenting will be advertised on my business' blog and will also be listed on the business' Facebook page @MusesandBroomsticks. Courses will include a course for self-published writers (or writers planning to self-publish) that I have already developed and presented. It had been on hold to get a better venue more suited for training. There are more courses on the menu that might be of interest to you. Follow on Facebook to get the latest details.
And that is my story for this week. I have to go do some normal person stuff (read ironing) and then I will see you again next week.
Have an awesome week!

💜  Linzé

Monday, 2 October 2017

Book Feature: Circumstances of Childhood by John Howell

Circumstances of Childhood by John W. Howell

Available from Amazon at $0.99 for the introduction.

This is a different story for John. It is in the Family Life genre and tells the story of brotherly love, riches to rags, redemption and a little paranormal thrown in. Normally John writes thrillers but this time he has stepped into a different place. This book was written with love for the story and the hope it will be an enjoyable read.

When a former pro football star and broadcaster, now a Wall Street maven is accused of insider trading, will he be able to prove his innocence and expose those who are guilty?

Greg and his boyhood pal dreamed of big success in professional football and then later in business. Greg was the only one to live the dream. Now the founder of an investment fund Greg is faced with a routine audit finding by the SEC. The audit points to irregularities and all the tracks lead to Greg. The justice department hits him with an indictment of 23 counts of fraud, money laundering, and insider trading. His firm goes bust, and Greg is on his own.

His best friend knows he is innocent but has been ordered under penalty of eternal damnation not to help.

If you enjoy stories of inspiration, riches to rags, redemption, brotherly love, and a little of the paranormal, Circumstance of Childhood will keep you riveted.

I look down at my drink and wonder what will happen tomorrow. My daughter Constance wants to come and visit. She lives in New York, and before all hell broke loose, we didn’t see each other often. I missed her so much, and it seemed as if I had to beg her even to talk on the phone. Now, it’s like she wants to be here every weekend. It’s only an hour’s flight by the shuttle or three by train, so she can come when she wants. I just can’t figure out why she got so clingy. I have my troubles, but it doesn’t have anything to do with her. No use in asking her husband either. Though a nice enough guy, I always wonder if he has someplace important to go when I visit. He never sits still and stays busy on the phone or at the computer. He makes a good living, but it seems a person could take an hour to sit and talk. I’d looked forward to some kind of relationship when he and Constance got married. It’ll never happen with him.

When I take another pull at my drink, I notice the burn feels less. It happens every time. First sip initiation, I call it. It’s like the first puff of a cigarette, hits hard then, after, nothing. I decide to let Constance pretty much have the agenda tomorrow. She and I have not had a chance to talk about anything deep for a while. It could just be that she blames me for her mother running off with that guy with the house on the Hudson. He has a title, and the old gal couldn’t resist, but I think the daughter always felt I should have done something. Her mother’s sleeping with another guy and what the hell can I do about that?

I’ll just go with the flow. If she wants to go out, we will. If she wants to stay in, we can do that too. I better think about getting some food in the house. Of course, we can always order take out. I need to move on to my drink and let this go. Tomorrow will be what it is. I remember the day she was born. I looked down at her in my arms and promised I would do anything for her. I love her more than life itself, and I hope we can somehow get to the root of whatever’s wrong. She sounded strange on the phone this morning, and I feel helpless to do anything about it. I hope she opens up when she gets here.

For some reason, I feel tired. Perhaps I’ll go ahead and finish my drink. Maybe I’ll just go home and forget the burger. First, though, I’ll just shut my eyes for a minute. My hands feel good when I put my head down.

“Hey, Greg,” Jerry says. I barely hear him. “What’s the matter? You taking a nap? Greg?” I can feel him shake me, but I have no interest in waking up. His voice gets further away, and I think he says, “Oh, my God, Sophie, call 911, quick.” Now the room goes silent.

About the Author

John's BioJohn began his writing as a full-time occupation after an extensive business career. His specialty is thriller fiction novels, but John also writes poetry and short stories.  His first book, My GRL, introduces the exciting adventures of the book's central character, John J. Cannon. The second Cannon novel, His Revenge, continues the adventure, while the final book in the trilogy, Our Justice, launched in September 2016.
The latest Circumstances of Childhood a family life story is available as of October 1st, 2017.
All books are available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

John lives in Port Aransas, Texas with his wife and their spoiled rescue pets.

John's other books.

My Girl front His Revenge Our Justice

Available on Amazon at

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

When the Muse strikes or the sh*t hits the fan

Kick the muse to the curb
Many creatives will tell you to kick the muse to the curb and just get on with it. And they would be right. Waiting for that spark, that bright light bulb to appear overhead before getting to work on the novel, or that painting only creates a whole new level of frustration. So no, don't wait for Madam Fickle and her gang of muses to show up before creating your next project.
When the Muse strikes or the shit hits the fan (depending on your point of view)
One day she will pitch up. Ask any writer, artist, musician or photographer. That bitch just likes to have a laugh at our expense. And often at the most inconvenient times or places. When you are buck naked in the shower. Driving on the highway, or having dinner with friends. Or, her absolute favourite, in the middle of the night when you had a long hard day and really need to sleep. Don't you just hate that?
Aside from her trying her best to catch you unaware, it does make sense if you think about it. You are relaxed, or your mind is occupied with other things and thus at its most susceptible to input - from the muse or wherever those creative ideas originate. Our problem is mostly that we go, aha! And then a few minutes later WTF? Where did that idea go? It was the most brilliant thing ever! But it's gone. A few minutes have passed, and whatever that thought was, it is no more. Like it never even existed.
It doesn't matter if you think you are going to remember that plot, or that harmony, or that incredible tint of rose gold that played over the buildings next to the road. You will not be the first creative to lose that awesome idea. Nor will it be the last idea you ever lose either.
Ever repeated it to yourself over and over, thinking that you will remember? Only to realise a few hours later that you have completely forgotten about it. No clue. Gone forever.
Our minds are so busy trying to deal with the information overload that we are exposed to every day - to say nothing of the distractions of social media and other interruptions - that our brains just let go of that idea because its attention was needed somewhere else. But it doesn't have to be that way.
So what to do when the Muse does pitch up with a bag full of ideas? Those inspirational moments do come, not often, but they do come. And they come big. And bold. And sometimes brilliantly. And the only way to deal with them is to be ready.
Ready? Grab the pen...
Here are some pointers for that inspirational moment:
1. If that awesome idea comes in the shower, it can be tough since pockets were not part of the original design of the human body. So make up a song and sing it aloud, over and over. Shower faster and then write it down. Not only did you think it, but you also heard it, you memorised it. But do yourself a favour, write it down before the towel distracts you.
2. Being troubled in the middle of the night when dreams come with that new idea for a novel? Keep a notebook and pen next to your bed. Don't wait. Don't think it will still be there come morning because it won't. Sit up. Switch on the light. Write it down straight away. You will sleep better when you do.
3. Getting struck by Madam Muse while driving can be a big problem. Don't write anything with a pen or on your mobile phone while driving. Ever! But if the muse has a hankering to pester you with ideas while you are operating a vehicle, get a voice recorder that records with the push of a button. I know your smartphone probably has an app for it, but it will require way too many taps and clicks before you can say, hello. Nope, get a one-push button, old-fashioned voice recorder. Push the button, say the words and its done. Safety first!
4. Eating out? Partying with friends? Use your smartphone to quickly type the words to remind you of the idea. It will only take a few seconds, and then it's done. If people notice, tell them the truth: you got an idea for a new book. Don't tell them the idea it is too early. You need to work on it first, to flesh it out to a full-blown plot. The most important thing is to get it down immediately! With people talking and laughing, the distractions are huge and the risk of you forgetting is unimaginably high.
Then I told her...
The weirdest place I got 'inspired'? In church of all places. It freaked me out, but fortunately, it only happened once. I think now I am voluntarily 'blocked' when attending a service.
The most inconvenient time? Just as I was making my way to bed. I was exhausted, when I got this tap on the shoulder...'want to have this idea?'
My first thought was, now? Seriously?
On second thought, I reached for a pen and scribbled a few words. Then I looked up (I am sure there was a smirk on my face) and told the bitch to fuck off so I could get some sleep.
What happens after the light goes out?
Personally, I am a pen and notebook kind of ideas writer, but I have used my phone when the pen and notebook were out of reach. Scribbles that have been thought through when I could sit down and think about them.
I have rehashed some ideas. I mostly went on to repackage most of those ideas. I even ditched a few of them in lieu of a secondary plot when working through the original idea.
Others just got trashed without another thought. For now. Who knows where those ideas could sneak their way into a future story?
Seventeen published books and more than 600 blog posts later, writing ideas down when inspiration does come definitely works for me.
Never wait for that moment of inspiration to come, you will wait for a long time, and then nothing gets done in the meantime. However, when Madam Fickle and the Muses do make an appearance, be ready for her offerings. Capture that moment, that idea, as soon as possible. Maybe it will be your big break, or maybe it won't. But unless you capture it, you may never have the opportunity to find out where it can go.

Originally posted on

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Yay! A book festival! But public speaking freaks you out. Now what?

Yes, public speaking isn't for everyone, but as an author, you cannot let an opportunity pass to market your books. So what do you do now?

Book Festivals are not only about speakers, but there also has to be listeners too. Here are 6 tips to help with marketing your books at a book festival:

Be an active participant. Attend a discussion session or workshop about a topic or two that interests you. Take an active role in the discussion. Be sure to introduce yourself (Hi, I'm Linzé, I am a fantasy romance author, and I have a question about...) when you engage the speaker or another attendee in a discussion.

Be nice, just because. It takes nothing from you to be courteous to people. You don't have to like everyone, but you are talking to your market. Readers and book lovers like to engage with authors. Personally, I dislike being photographed, but I have learned that it won't kill me to be in front of a camera. If a reader asks to be photographed with me, I offer a genuine smile because someone will only go to that trouble if they want to be seen with me.

Dress well; your image says a lot. My daily life is spent in mostly casual clothing and I have been known to write in my pajamas, but it won't do when facing my readers. There is no need to dress up in heels and hose (unless you really want to) but taking care of your appearance also shows respect for your readers. It conveys a message of professionalism. You cannot expect your market to take you seriously if you don't take yourself seriously.

What does your brand say about you? For the authorpreneur, branding is an all-encompassing approach to your business as a published author. You spend time and money on the image portrayed by your book covers to showcase your product to the world. When you engage your readers and fans, be aware of the image, and brand, you want to them to associate with you as a person. If people make you nervous, make a point to learn to engage with people one on one. They will appreciate the attention and leave with a good impression and maybe a few of your books.

What to say, what not to say. It is a book festival, so people want to talk about their passion: books. If someone wants to talk about your books, you smile and chat and answer questions and autograph books for them. You do find people who want to talk about other people's books. If you are a fan of the same author, you will have common ground, but be careful not to spend too much time chatting when you have people waiting who want to talk to you about your books.
You could also face the situation of genre bashers. This happens when erotica writers are confronted with people who want to rip them apart for daring to write sex scenes in a book. If erotica is your genre, keep a cool head and suggest that they support other authors at the festival instead. If they bad-mouth another author for whatever reason, don't get into an argument and never agree with them. Rather suggest that not every book is to everyone's taste and that there are many other authors whose books they could read.
Avoid bad mouthing other authors because it reflects poorly on you. You might have an audience of fans of the other author and making them angry will not help your case.

Offer something in return. People like free stuff. This is a marketing opportunity where you can also give things away to gain more sales.
Think about the ads on television. Buy two tires from us and we will give you a movie ticket. Buy four and get two tickets. Car tires are expensive, so you will only replace them when safety becomes a concern. So why not treat yourself and drive your now safer car to the movie theater for a night out?
Book people, love book related things. Coffee mugs, bookmarks, shopping bags, gift cards for other books, etc. Or offer something where they can enjoy reading (or writing) at the same time - a foot massage voucher, pedicure, or a voucher for free coffee at a local coffee shop.

This is a basic list to help you get started, and there are more ideas that you can explore to market your books at a book festival.

Want to learn more about marketing your books? Take a look here.

Monday, 28 August 2017

I paused, and took a breath

Source: Medium
The project I am working on (at work) will soon be ending, and I will technically speaking be out of a job. Other projects are starting and some more in the pipeline, but the company has many project managers, and not all of them have a technical background to fall back on. As an engineer I also some experience as a system engineer, so I have more options to consider.
But I decided to take a metaphorical breath. While the project is not yet at an end, it is now a good time for me to reflect on my own future. Do I go back to engineering? Find a position as a systems engineer? Project manager? Or am I ready to do something else?
In 2018 I will be celebrating my fiftieth birthday, and as frightening as that feels sometimes, I have decided that I am not too old for a career change. I have changed careers before, but I had been younger, and the change was not as drastic as the one I am contemplating right now.
Then everything just fell into place. Whether you believe in fate, karma, or God (I am a Christian) when so many things fall into place, you know that the universe is on your side.
It all began with the course I recently completed. If you are a leader or have aspirations to go into management in the future, I can recommend the Values Based Leadership (VBL) Course, presented by the Graduate Business School of the University of Cape Town. The course is available online, and I had classmates from all over the world which added to the perspectives one needs to be exposed to in this environment.
You might readily wonder what the course did to trigger this radical change in my life because I am already in a management position. It wasn't the content of the course, it was the eye-opening it gave me at the lack of leadership and guidance for the younger generation of the workforce. In South Africa, and my industry especially, the concept of a generation gap is very real. In fact, that gap is about twenty years wide and if that doesn't scare the executives of any company, nothing will.
Why is it that bad? Engineering is engineering, isn't it? Unfortunately, when it comes to the military industry is not that simple. The design of a weapon system is not taught at university. How a system needs to be designed around constraints outside of your control (the military environment) is another thing not taught at any academic institution. So the real world is the only learning platform. But with the skilled and knowledgeable labour force about to retire, who is going to fill that gap? How are the executives going to ensure that the company will survive until the next generation is ready to step into those strategic leadership shoes?
Succession planning, knowledge sharing and vocational mentoring are the answers for the technical skills. But the organisational environment is changing almost every year, and the old guard has little interest in the new styles of leadership to encourage and motivate the younger generation. And that was what the VBL course taught me, or rather opened my eyes to the future.
I have had mentorship training at a previous employer, but that is not what I am aiming for in my career change. I want to be a life coach.
I don't know more than other people, nor can I claim to be a better engineer or project manager. But I have been where they are heading to. In fact, I am standing there right now. A four, five, six-way crossing leading away from me into an unknown future. Cross-roads are nothing new in anyone's life: personal, professional, financial, etc. Decisions that affect the future of your life either scare most people into inaction until it is too late, or they make the wrong decisions for themselves and their futures.
Life coaching was a natural choice for me, given my interest in training and mentoring. But it is so much more than that. People know deep inside where they want to go with their lives and sometimes they just need someone to help them find their way.
So I spent weeks thinking, praying, scribbling deep (and often scared) thoughts in my journal only to find yet more signs that the choice is the right one for me. I swallowed my trepidation at the radical choice and enrolled into a life coaching course online.
While the qualification I plan to do is more expensive, I decided to do that as soon as I can. My goals for this year remain in place, but this year is almost over. My current project will soon end.
I needed to look at my future.
I paused and took a deep breath.
I have a new goal. And a plan for my professional future.

Monday, 14 August 2017

This is why my 2017 Goals are still on Track (mostly) – Part 1

A badge Linzé earned in a group
where writers hold themselves
accountable for daily writing
I wrote my first word of a first draft way back in 2001. While my odyssey to publication took another eleven years, I didn’t just write this one book. This first book was not my first published book, for that, I had to write some more before publication would be an option.
Why eleven years? There is no magic to this number, it was how long it took for me to figure out that I might actually be good enough.
What I did in those eleven years, established the foundation of why I now describe myself as a writer—I wrote.
In fact, I wrote another eight full-length novels: two are published, and the third is planned for October this year. The rest must wait their turn…it is a series after all.
In the years since that first attempt, writing became a habit. A daily habit that to date produced several more manuscripts, to the effect that this year my total creative word count now stands at over 2,200,000 words.
I started keeping a spreadsheet that I update at the end of every evening’s writing session. It was more curiosity in the beginning, but it has become more than that…it’s my daily ‘personal trainer’ if you like.

Source: Medium
Seeing the number of words I have written thus far is inspirational, but it is the words that have yet to come to life, that truly gets my writing brain into gear. So many stories that still need to be told!
Of course, I did not write as many words back then as I do now. In my own defense, it did take a while for my blonde brain cells to truly get the message: if you want to write, it is exactly what you should do. Write. Every day.
Some people set themselves a daily word target, others a daily time to write. I fall into the latter category. With a full-time job, my writing time is limited, and I want to squeeze every second that I can get out of it.
NaNoWriMo months change the goals a bit, but the words still count. They must. With an annual goal of one full-length novel, plus a few shorter stories to keep the creative juices flowing, I simply cannot help myself anymore—I have to write. When I don’t, I feel as if I am going to work without wearing a bra—something essential is missing.
Fortunately, that is one piece of clothing I have not yet forgotten!
I suppose it becomes a habit like brushing my teeth or putting on said bra. So that means when those words are not written, my creative mind will rot in a manner of speaking. Trust me, the zombie look will not look good on me.

Source: Medium
Whatever the target is you set for yourself, time or words, make it a habit. Habits become entrenched in the definition of who we are.
If you write, you will feel like a writer, you will think like a writer…you will be a writer.

Before you disappear back to reality, please take a moment to share this post with your friends. Thank you! 💜

Linzé Brandon is the author of several books and short stories. She is a project manager, closet artist, sometimes blogger and wife to an engineer who likes to play with a camera. The unicorns and fairies love playing with their German shepherds almost as much as their human pack members.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Book Feature: THE GHOST KING by Jeff Altabef

Welcome! Today I’m helping author Jeff Altabef launch his latest book, The Ghost King!

Excerpt: Chapter 5

Dermot’s face looked hard and resolute, as he appeared every bit the King his tribe needed. Done with Eamon, he turned toward Aaliss and softened his tone. “You and Wilky are welcome to join us on the field of battle. We could use your sword and Wilky’s... advice. You both have proven yourself worthy to be members of our tribe. It would honor me if you would join us.”
Join the tribe?
All eyes turned to her, and heat singed her face. She had no desire to commit to the Butcher Tribe. She desired a simple life, but she also needed to keep Eamon and Wilky safe. How could she do that and refuse? She needed time to think. “We will consider your generous offer and let you know our decision in the morning.”
Dermot looked disappointed, but he nodded. “So be it. May the herd be forever strong and the heavens guide us in all matters.” He rose and stalked off.
The War Council dispersed, leaving her, Wilky, and Eamon behind by the Naming Tree. Eamon rubbed his hand through his shaggy hair and walked in circles. “I can’t believe he’s doing this to me. Has he no faith in me?”
Aaliss stood in his path and forced him to stop. She pressed her hand against his chest. “Protecting the Stronghold is important. If the war goes badly, you’ll have to make sure the rest of the tribe is safe.”
“My place is at Dermot’s side. He should see that. I made an oath with P’mina to fight these invaders. I can’t stay behind now.”
Wilky stepped beside him. “You must come to the battle. We all must go. Otherwise, only darkness.”
Wilky might as well have swung a war hammer into Aaliss’s stomach. She seemed to have so little control over events. Surely, the Stronghold would be a safer place for Eamon than the battlefield, yet Wilky’s decree meant that she couldn’t keep him in the stone city behind the sturdy walls.
“We all have to go to the front to have a chance to win? Are you sure?” she asked, even though she knew the answer.
Wilky nodded. “Even then the result is hidden in shadows. I only see glimpses of light.”
Eamon whispered. “That settles it then. We’ll have to escape tonight.” He glanced over his shoulder.
Two armed members of the King’s Guard stood ten paces away, watching them.
Great. Another escape from the Stronghold, and this time we’ll be heading straight into the storm itself.
“There’s more,” said Wilky.
“More?” asked Eamon.
“A witch leads the Wolves. Darkness gathers behind her like a long shadow.” Eamon spit on the ground, his way of warding off evil spirits. Aaliss narrowed her eyes. “Witches can die like anyone else.” Her voice sounded sure, but her heart wasn’t. What did she know about witches?

Who are Aalis, Wilkey & why are they going to war? Will there be more magic & mayhem in this second book? One of the best parts of this release is you can get both books for only 99c right now!
What else is so great about this release? This exclusive excerpt! There are 5 featured excerpts on this tour. One on the Novel Publicity page, one on Jeff Altabef's Website, and 3 spread among the 20+ blogs that have helped Jeff with this release!

You can also enter this rafflecopter for a chance to win $50, signed paperbacks, or crown necklace!

Special note for reviewers! If you reviewed the Ghost King or Red Death, email your review links to & you’ll get entered for a $50 reviewer only prize!

About the Book

An Ancient Prophecy foretold.
An Evil haunts the land.
A battle looms against overwhelming odds.

Led by a powerful witch, a wild invading army threatens to tear the Soulless lands apart. To survive, the three tribes must join together, but old grievances and hatred divide them. Only Wilky can unite them, but when he glimpses the future, he sees only a glimmer of hope; too much of the future remains veiled in darkness.
As the battle approaches, King Dermot orders his brother, Eamon, to stay behind at the Stronghold and defend against a possible siege. Eamon, who took an oath to fight the invaders, defies his brother, risks everything, and plunges into a desperate race with Aaliss and Wilky to unite the tribes.
Enemies from all sides conspire against them. Only together can they hope to succeed against the witch who will stop at nothing to destroy them. Yet even united, they will need magic to defeat this enemy at their door.
As the battle looms, only one chance at survival remains--the Ghost King--but who is he, and what will be the price of their redemption?

About the Author
Jeff Altabef is an award-winning author who lives in New York with his wife, two daughters, and Charlie the dog. He spends time volunteering at the writing center in the local community college. After years of being accused of "telling stories," he thought he would make it official. He writes in both the thriller and young adult genres. Fourteenth Colony, a political thriller, was his debut novel. Evolved Publishing has published Jeff’s second thriller, Shatter Point, which won the Pinnacle Book Achievement Award for Fall 2014 in the category of Best Thriller.Jeff's first young adult novel, Wind Catcher: A Chosen Novel will be published in March by Evolved Publishing. He's extremely excited that his daughter, Erynn Altabef, is his co-author on the Chosen Series. As an avid Knicks fan, Jeff is prone to long periods of melancholy during hoops season. Jeff has a column on The Examiner focused on writing and a blog designed to encourage writing by those that like telling stories.

You can follow Jeff on Facebook, Twitter, or join his newsletter!

Art Journal 2020: Friendship

It has been a while since I did an art journal post, mostly because I couldn't decide on the topic. But once I did it was only a ma...