I’ll be hosting a series of single session focused workshops with my long-time writing/publishing friends and colleagues Jennifer McCord and Scott Driscoll. For more information, or to register, contact me via email at email@example.com –
Seattle Area Writer Friends!
Are you a fiction writer envisioning publication and struggling to make sense of editorial notes or reader feedback? Hearing that your story lacks a sense of urgency, a call to action, or that it falls a bit flat? That your main characters are unlikable or uninteresting? Not sure how to turn things around? We can help.
It’s all about story. Publishing and readers expect more from writers than ever before. Every writer must carefully consider how they are inviting the reader into their novel, and then deliver an experience that hooks them and doesn’t let go. There are no secret keys to success, but there are some skill sets you can hone to get your book on track.
Sometimes it’s the little things that make the biggest differences. Feedback is essential, but it can also be difficult to know how or where to start. Rewrites and revisions don’t necessarily mean a major overhaul of your book. Often all that’s needed is a closer look at one or two critical story elements, such as impact, pacing, or character motivation.
Knowing what those areas are is one thing – figuring out how to work around them is another. Ready to tackle the tough job of addressing agent/editor notes or early reader response? We are now offering a series of single focus workshops that address some of the most common trouble spots in any manuscript:
The Inciting Incident: A successful novel opens with a “hook” – a call to action or specific event that launches the protagonist into the central conflict that propels the plot. In this session, you will learn how to identify, assess and refine the inciting incident in your story to create a stronger sense of urgency and ramp up the tension from the very first scene.
Next Session: January 29, 2017 / 7-9:30 pm
The Desire Quest: Once an inciting event throws the protagonist’s everyday world into chaos, how he or she responds becomes the foundation of the plot. But what is it that drives the protagonist to accept the challenge? In this session, we’ll delve into the complex traits that define a multi-dimensional protagonist who is not only capable of carrying weight of the story, but also of fulfilling your reader’s expectations.
Next Session: February 12, 2017 / 7-9:30 pm
The Point of No Return: Plot is essentially a sequence of events that confront a protagonist with obstacles they must overcome in order for the story to move toward its climax. How these obstacles are presented determines a novel’s pace and should naturally create the escalating tension that keeps readers captivated. This workshop will help you analyze and assess your book’s major plot points and the protagonist’s progression toward the story’s proverbial point of no return.
Next Session: March 19, 2017 / 7-9:30 pm
Reserve your space today!
- Affordable Customized Instruction & Support – Attend only the workshop/workshops you need – sign up for individual sessions or all three at a special discounted rate.*
- Small Groups Sessions: Class size is limited to 7 student to allow for more in-depth presentation of the course material
- Proven Techniques & Tools: Developed specifically to meet the expectations of today’s publishing world
- Professional Teaching Team: Work closely with three respected publishing industry professionals, experienced instructors and published writers.
The fee for each individual workshop session is $125.00. Space is limited and offered on a first come/first served basis. Workshops will be hosted at a private North Seattle area residence (address provided upon registration).
Register now and receive an early-bird enrollment discount or purchase all three sessions at a special package price of $300.00.
About the Instructors:
Scott Driscoll is an award-winning instructor with an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington, has taught creative writing for the University of Washington Extension for twenty years and makes his living as a freelance writer and teacher. Scott’s debut novel, BETTER YOU GO HOME (Coffeetown Press 2013) was selected as the Foreword Reviews First Book Contest winner, March 2014. Scott has also been awarded nine Society of Professional Journalists awards, most recently First Place in the Western U.S. in 2014 for arts and entertainment reporting. For more about Scott, visit www.scottdriscollwriting.com
Jennifer McCord is a 30 year veteran of the publishing trade. Throughout her career, Jennifer has worked in nearly every aspect of the industry—as a writer, editor, instructor, and consultant. Jennifer lends her expertise in the book business to writers and publishers through her consulting and coaching business, Jennifer McCord Associates. Currently, she is also an Associate Publisher for Camel Press and Coffeetown Press. Jennifer can be contacted at www.jennifermccord.com
Roberta Trahan is the best-selling author of THE WELL OF TEARS and THE KEYS TO THE REALMS, the first two books in her quasi-historical epic fantasy series from 47North. Her post-apocalyptic science fiction novella AFTERSHOCK is also available through Amazon Publishing’s digital-first short fiction imprint, StoryFront. She is also a frequent guest at SFF fan conventions and writing events. For more about Roberta, visit www.robertatrahan.com.
I look forward to the Fall season every year. For me, this is the time of year when I feel most inspired to invest in new ideas or make a new start. A sort of anxious, anticipatory energy bubbles up and spurs me to take big risks. The momentum usually carries over into the new year, and then, often fizzles out.
Sometimes there are just too many obstacles and I don’t have the resources – emotional, physical, spiritual, creative, or financial – to keep running over or around them. Sometimes life events create a fork in the road and the bypass takes me so far off the original path I never find my way back.
And yet, every year, I start again. That’s the definition of crazy, right – doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results? Yeah, well, we creative types be crazy.
They say that writers fall into on of two categories when it comes to goal setting – those who are results oriented, and those who are process oriented. Results oriented folks derive their sense of satisfaction from completion.
They are focused on outcome, and can produce a sizable body of work. But, while they always finish a project, they sometimes do so at the expense of the process. Sometimes, the work they produce lacks quality or isn’t as rich in detail as it could be.
Process oriented folks are focused on the task and glean great joy from the act of creation itself. They tend to produce less, but their results are generally richer in content. Although the work tends to be layered with nuance and is often highly polished, process oriented writers struggle with bringing a project full circle. They tend to get caught up relishing the scene and have a hard time finishing the story.
It has taken me years to own it, but I am a process oriented writer. I get so excited by the prospect of a new idea that I have a hard time keeping my head in the project that is already on the table. I get lost in the rituals of writing. I love research and plotting, and imagining the possibilities. Basically, I get in my own way.
So, this fall season, I am going to throw myself into the process like I always do, but this time see all my new endeavors through to the end – whatever the outcome may be. I’m feeding all my muses this year and I’ve got a lot of projects on the board – a new side business at Lit Chicks Editorial, a new online venture called Idyll Curiosities that resells vintage jewelry, and at least 3 new books to complete. I’m really stretching my limits here.
One of the things I need to do is figure out how to get more words out of my head and onto the page. So this year, for the first time ever, I’m going to take the 2016 NaNoWriMo challenge. Anyone with me? Have you done it before? I’d be interested in hearing how it worked out for you.
So, how many of you are results oriented writers? How many of you are process oriented? Have you figured out how to strike a balance between the two? I’d love to know.
Twice each year I co-present a six-week intensive workshop (hosted in my home) with fellow industry professionals Jennifer McCord and Scott Driscoll. The workshop focuses on story structure and uses a unique outlining approach designed to help writers with a full length novel in progress assess the plot and character development in their story. It’s a great class and it fills up quickly every time we teach it.
It’s a small group, with enrollment limited to 9 students per session. We don’t usually promote the course publicly, but as luck would have it, our Winter 2015 session still has some openings!
If you’re in the Seattle area and are looking for some support with your current work, this might be just what you need. Here’s the link to the workshop home page – where you’ll find a detailed description of the course, dates, fees, and enrollment deadlines.
Check it out:
Today I am guest blogging and hanging out with the gang at Murder She Writes – a co-op blog by a group of supremely talented mystery & suspense authors. Special thanks to author pal Kendra Elliot for hosting me!
What makes setting come alive for you? What’s your favorite fictional world?
Come on over an join the conversation!
47North, Amazon Publishing, Arthurian Fantasy, Author Branding, celtic traditions, Denise Grover Swank, epic fantasy, Fantasy, historical fiction, Jeff Wheeler, Muirwood, Novel Writing, Roberta Trahan, The Curse Keepers, The Dream Stewards, The Keys to the Realms, The Naked Truth About Self-Publishing, The Well of Tears
I’m about to sit down with a glass of wine and a bit of stinky cheese, to celebrate an awesome week. Care to join me? I’m pouring a lovely Washington State Shiraz…
And now for the news!
First up is something I’ve been waiting weeks to reveal – the publication date for the long awaited sequel to THE WELL OF TEARS (The Dream Stewards #1) is officially set in stone!
THE KEYS TO THE REALMS (The Dream Stewards #2) will be released via 47North on May 6, 2014. More info coming soon – including a cover reveal blog party and all sorts of good stuff.
If you haven’t already read the first book in the series, now’s the time to catch up. Get your copy of THE WELL OF TEARS here or here or here. As a little added incentive, I’m offering a little giveaway.
FREE GIFTS WITH PURCHASE (yes, there is a string attached)
If you buy the book, read the book, post an honest review (good or not so good) on Amazon.com , BarnesandNoble.com, or GoodReads.com and then let me know by posting a comment in this thread, I will send you a limited edition bookmark, signed custom book plate, and a 47North temporary tattoo sticker.
Already read the book? All you have to do is post your review and claim your reward! Quantities are limited, so don’t delay!
RECENT HAPPENINGS & SPECIAL GUESTS
Next, I’m thrilled to announce a series of guest author posts starting next month. A group of my fellow 47North authors will be hosting and posting news and features for each other. My first special guest will be the brilliant Jeff Wheeler. His Muirwood series is one my favorites. More details when I have them.
Just today I had the great pleasure of meeting in person another of my 47North cohorts. Author Denise Grover Swank was in Seattle today taking part in a panel presentation given by the best-selling authors of THE NAKED TRUTH ABOUT SELF-PUBLISHING, an event sponsored by Writer.ly to benefit Seattle Free Lances, a long-standing writers organization of which I have been a member (and board officer) for many years. Denise’s urban fantasy The Curse Keepers will be released in November. Check it out!
With that, I raise my glass and bid you all a wonderful weekend!
Awen á bendithion…
(inspiration and blessings)…
47North, Author Branding, author marketing, Best-selling Author, Erotic Romance, Flappers, historical fiction, Marketing Monday, Novel Writing, Prohibiton, Roberta Trahan, Romance, Stephanie Draven, The Roaring Twenties
Chances are that when you think of the 1920’s you think of wild liquor-soaked parties in speakeasies, incendiary Jazz music, and flappers wearing feather headbands dancing the Charleston. Consumers embraced new gadgets and inventions, the stock market was soaring and a Renaissance broke out in Harlem. All of these things are a true reflection of the time, but they’re only part of the picture. Underneath the glitz and glam, a turbulent culture war took place in the country–one we’re still fighting, in many ways, today.
The Roaring Twenties were a time of sexual liberation, experimentation and exploration. Having just won the vote, women were at the forefront of social causes and societal change. In spite of—or perhaps because of—Prohibition, the Twenties were boom times. Young women attended college, flocked to major cities to find work and lived on their own in numbers never before seen in the history of the nation. Homosexuality was more public and more tolerated. Rules for dating changed. Non-marital sex became common and women began to demand and use birth control.
Flappers changed the world of business, fashion, politics and popular entertainment. The Hays Code wouldn’t be adopted and enforced until 1930, which meant major Hollywood films pushed the boundaries of propriety and gave the country some of its sexiest stars, including Clara Bow.
In short, the Twenties were a period of social transition—one of those pivotal times in history when women took one step forward, before being shoved two steps back. People from all walks of life came together to agitate for progressive change in the Twenties and, in many instances, African Americans led the way.
At the same time, the era was marked by the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan, inspired by D. W. Griffith’s race-baiting incendiary film of 1915, The Birth of a Nation. Immigration was suppressed and racial tensions rose. Even the nascent birth control movement was caught up in it, with Margaret Sanger arguing on behalf of eugenics. The suspicion of foreigners helped lead to the execution of two Italian immigrants, Sacco and Vanzetti, under suspicious circumstances. And the general fervor led to a red scare against suspected communists.
Much of the liberation of women in the twenties came about as a rebellion and reaction against the mores of previous generations. Whereas the women of the 1910s fought for the right to vote, the women in the 1920s had it–and didn’t do terribly much with it. The Equal Rights Amendment was introduced in 1923, but was never passed. And while women entered the workforce in great numbers, most of them left it upon marriage.
Another thing that harshed the buzz of the 1920s was the mob. Mob violence rose dramatically with Prohibition and organized crime used the ban on liquor sales to create criminal empires.
Of course, all this social turmoil makes the era not entirely unlike our own–and a perfect backdrop for fiction!
ON SALE NOW!
They vibrated with incendiary Jazz. They teemed with sexual abandon. The Twenties were roaring and the women–young, open, rebellious, and willing–set the pace and pushed the limits with every man they met…
In the aftermath of a wild, liquor-soaked party, three women from very different social classes are about to live out their forbidden desires.
Society girl, Nora Richardson’s passionate nature has always been a challenge to her ever-patient husband. Now he wants out of the marriage and she has just this one night to win him back. The catch? He wants to punish her for her bad behavior. Nora is offended by her husband’s increasingly depraved demands, but as the night unfolds, she discovers her own true nature and that the line between pain and pleasure is very thin indeed.
Meanwhile, Clara Cartwright, sultry siren of the silent screen, is introduced to a mysterious WWI Flying Ace. If Clara, darling of the scandal sheets, knows anything, it’s men. And she’s known plenty. But none of them push her boundaries like the aviator, who lures her into a ménage with a stranger in a darkened cinema then steals her jaded heart.
Working class girl Sophie O’Brien has more important things on her mind than pleasures of the flesh. But when her playboy boss, the wealthy heir to the Aster family fortune, confronts her with her diary of secret sex fantasies, she could die of shame. To her surprise, he doesn’t fire her; instead, he dares her to re-enact her boldest fantasies and Sophie is utterly seduced.
One party serves as a catalyst of sexual awakening. And in an age when anything goes, three women discover that anything is possible…
About the Author: Stephanie Draven
is a national bestselling and award-winning author of historical, paranormal, and contemporary romance. Her newest project, IT STINGS SO SWEET is a collection of 1920s historical erotic romances that celebrate sex, women, and the Jazz Age. Stephanie is currently a denizen of Baltimore, that city of ravens and purple night skies. She lives there with her favorite nocturnal creatures–three scheming cats and a deliciously wicked husband. And when she is not busy with dark domestic rituals, she writes her books.
I have been annoyed with GoodReads for a while now. Oh sure, it’s a great community for readers. For authors, not so much. At least not for me. It all started a couple of months ago when I accepted a seemingly harmless friend request from a new author.
Now, let me preface the rest of this post by saying that I did in fact make a conscious decision from the beginning to make my GoodReads profile an interactive free for all – meaning that I would accept any and all friend requests. I made this decision based on my loosely researched (and as I later discovered, erroneous) understanding of this very intriguing community. The risk to my privacy seemed to be minimal, and the audience is vast. And though I knew all about the bullies and the trolls, I was fairly certain that I had the savvy to steer clear of that kind of trouble. Besides, it makes good sense to go where the readers are. Right?
What I didn’t see lurking in the shadow was yet another kind of trouble – predatory purveyors looking for the opportunity to pfish the friend lists of other authors in order to market their own books. In some cases, including mine, these predatory purveyors are pushing even more poorly written low rent derivatives of 50 Shades of Gray by anonymous persons with generic and sometimes false identities, slapped into a downloadable format and sold on the cheap through blog sites or Amazon Kindle Direct. Cuz, you know, anyone can publish a book now and call themselves an author.
Let the reader beware and all that, I guess. And the author, too, for that matter. By the time I figured out what these predatory purveyors were up to, the damage was done and could not be undone. My many correspondences with the GR customer service folks resulted in little more than a few episodes of dangerously high blood pressure, but they also helped me better understand the beast I was wrestling.
GoodReads, for all their attempts to give appearances to the contrary, has no real gatekeepers. No one is minding the store, and what’s worse, that’s the way they want it. GoodReads is literally nothing more than a giant crowd sourced database curated by random members who are granted the status of “librarian” merely for the asking. Folks with little or no knowledge of legitimate publishing practices or consumer protection policies hold all the power, and claim that imposing even the most minimal standards is an act of censorship.
Everyone can do, say or promote pretty much anything they want without regard to their audience, and it is considered free speech. This sounds like fun to a lot of people. Anarchy usually does. But when we throw out all of the rules, people tend to get hurt. NO BOOK OR AUTHOR on GR is vetted before it is added to the database. Really. Let me say that again. NOTHING IS VETTED.
Like I said, reader and author beware. I could go on (and on) about my feelings on crowd sourced information and open access projects, but I’ll stick to the relevant point for this post: taking steps to protect your public identity is every bit as important as it is to protect your personal privacy.
Gates and boundaries are both prudent and necessary. If you haven’t already done so, dear author, it’s time to start putting some degrees of separation between you and the rest of the world.
Everyone is not your friend – not all people play nice in Cyberspace. Consider the potential consequences of unrestricted interaction before you engage, and then do so cautiously. Blindly accepting every friend request is a bad idea (and this goes for Face Book too). If you decide to do so, understand that there are risks. Big ones.
Fans are Better Than Friends – when it comes to your public life. With social media sharing sites like Facebook and GoodReads the lines between virtual reality and real reality are a bit too easily blurred. For your own sake, and the sake of your true friends and family, build two worlds for yourself – one in which you can safely engage with the people in your real life (i.e. family and other people you actually know), and one in which you can safely engage with the general public. Encourage readers and other interested folks to follow you (become your fan on GR or your FB fan site) rather than friend you.
Social Interaction Is Not (Necessarily) the Same as Social Media Marketing & Neither Guarantees Real Results – one of the big draws to social networking is that it appears to be free advertising. But is it, really? In today’s social media world an investment of time and energy is generally considered equivalent to an investment of capital. There are people out there touting some very attractive metrics supporting this idea, but the concept of risk vs reward still applies. Just remember that while social media marketing may not cost you any money, there is still a price. You may be saving some cash, but you are still paying – with your valuable time, your precious credibility, and your priceless personal privacy. And you could risk it all and never sell a single book. It all comes down to making informed choices.
Just for fun, let’s do a little crowd sourcing right here. What’s your favorite social media platform, and why? Least favorite? Help another author out by sharing your success stories, and/or your spectacular failures!!
47North, @speechwriterguy, Amazon Publishing, Author Branding, author marketing, Guy Bergstrom, Novel Writing, publishing, Roberta Trahan, Social Media, Social Media Marketing, Social Networking, The Red Pen of Doom, Writing
If you follow this blog or have read my bio, you undoubtedly know that in my former life I was somewhat of a marketing maven. For over twenty years I made it my business, literally, to study information delivery systems and consumer behavior. What I have discovered, somewhat to my surprise, is that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
The technological big bang gave birth to what we now call Social Media – Facebook pages, blogs, Pinterest and dozens of other virtual groups and communities, and of course, Twitter. Never before have there been so many ways to interact. But as interchangeable as it all appears, it’s really not.
Not all Social Media Mechanisms Work the Same Way
While it is true that the modes of communication have evolved, the psychology behind communication has not. The reasons we interact are essentially unchanged – to feed our basic human desire for companionship, to expand our minds through the pursuit of knowledge, and to exchange our goods and services in order to meet our lifestyle needs. Social Media is said to be the Global Equalizer, opening a myriad of marketing pathways that all appear to lead to the same place – the consumer. This is true in a general sense, the same way that it is true that all people on Earth live under the same sky.
In order to use Social Media Marketing to its best benefit, it is important to understand who travels which paths, and why. Websites are like billboards or storefronts – static portals which recreate a sense of permanence in the Virtual World, and can act as sources of information and as retail hubs. Blogs have taken the place of topic driven channels and publications in that they disseminate specialized information and provide an opportunity for discourse (aka feedback). Online groups and communities (which include GoodReads, Pinterest, Facebook Friend Pages and more) create “places” for like-minded individuals to connect and engage in an exchange of ideas. Facebook Fan & Event Pages have essentially replaced what we old school marketers used to call “brochures” and “flyers”. These are all useful marketing tools when targeted toward your unique audience. The bottom line, dear author? Figure out which of these “places” are where people go to learn about BOOKS, specifically the kind of books YOU write, and focus your efforts there.
But What about Twitter?
I’m just going to straight up say what we all already suspect but don’t want to admit. Twitter isn’t really good for anything except creating a giant echo chamber for the sound of your own voice. Twitter is, at its essence, a soapbox. It is a platform that anybody can use but isn’t really effective unless you are a Very Important Person (like a politician or celebrity, or maybe a Best Selling Author) who ALREADY has gazillions of fans just dying to know what you had for lunch. Twitter MIGHT be a conversational hub, if you have the attention span of a gnat. What it definitely is NOT is a results-oriented marketing venue. At its best, Twitter is a real-time information stream that just may, if you are paying attention to the right person at the right moment, tell you something interesting or useful. Kinda like radio advertising.
Having lots of followers on Twitter does not mean lots of people are paying attention to you.
Really. I can’t stress this enough. In fact, odds are that most of your followers are only following you so that you will follow them. This is the very definition of a cluster f**k, dear author. Even more likely, most of your followers are probably other authors who write in the SAME GENRE AS YOU. Tell me, dear author, how many of these like-minded souls are likely to promote YOUR work to THEIR audience? I dare you – take a look at your list of followers and try to determine how many of them are actually purchasers and readers of your work, or people who can or will further your writing career or recommend your books. It’s good to know these things.
In the book world, there are two possible exceptions to the Twitter Doesn’t Sell Books rule. One would be authors of non-fiction writing business or writing craft books, and book marketing or publishing feeds by industry professionals and reviewers. Twitter just MIGHT be a meaningful way for these folks to announce news or posts on their blogs, which will in turn potentially lead to a sale of a recommended book. The second exception is when authors or industry professionals (including reviewers) consciously and intentionally connect to support each other using Twitter as a promotional vehicle. This can be very effective, but it requires mutual agreement and cooperation. This is strategic maneuvering that takes a bit more dialogue than the implied “I followed you, so now will you please follow me back?”.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t hate Twitter – I spend hours upon hours reading my feed. But I don’t do so in a stupor of self-delusion that I am actually spending my time successfully marketing my work. I follow other authors and publishing professionals I personally know or whose careers I strive to emulate, and those who offer me useful information or entertainment. I occasionally do a search on my own name to catch those few and far in-between tweets by people who are reading my book and updating their progress on GoodReads, or the rare book reviewer who has posted their opinion of my work. I like to thank those people publicly for taking the time to read my book, even if they didn’t like it. In this way, Twitter is a much better incoming resource than an outgoing one. When I do tweet my own stuff, I do so without the slightest expectation that anyone is paying attention to what I have to say. In order to make even a tiny ripple in the Twitterverse, I will first need to do a lot more work elsewhere building sales and visibility.
That said, I do find lots of interesting folks tweeting in the Twitterverse – many of them members of exception #1 noted above. One of my favorites is Guy Bergstrom (@speechwriterguy) who has a nifty blog called The Red Pen of Doom . He has lots of hip, helpful advice on book marketing and PR in general. I like his ideas a lot, and you should read what he has to say. He knows what he’s talking about.
Here is one of my favorite posts: Guy Bergstrom says “You need a TEAM and a PLAN“, and I couldn’t agree more :).