Z is for (in the) Zone

A2Z-BADGE-0002014-small_zps8300775cThis month, as I did last year, I’m participating in the AtoZ Blogging Challenge. The first post is A, the next is B and so on every day this month, except Sundays. Last year, my theme was Scotland. This year, my theme is The Writing Life. Check back here every day this month to follow along and find out what I’ve learned in the last year. For instance:

keep-calm-and-get-in-the-zone-10Z is for (in the) Zone.  As writers, the Zone is the place we long to be.  When the words are flowing freely and fast, there’s no better time for a writer.  Neil Gaiman said, “Tomorrow may be hell, but today was a good writing day, and on the the good writing days nothing else matters.”  How right he is!

This is the second year I’ve done the AtoZ Blogging Challenge.  I was lucky enough to be in the zone for some of this month, but even if I wasn’t, doing these posts was a lot of fun.  I hope you enjoyed them and learned a thing or two along the way.  

Here’s wishing you lots of good writing days with time spent in the zone, finishing your books and enjoying the process!  

Y is for (be) Yourself!

A2Z-BADGE-0002014-small_zps8300775cThis month, as I did last year, I’m participating in the AtoZ Blogging Challenge. The first post is A, the next is B and so on every day this month, except Sundays. Last year, my theme was Scotland. This year, my theme is The Writing Life. Check back here every day this month to follow along and find out what I’ve learned in the last year. For instance:

We’ve all heard the expression “a writer’s voice.”  But what is that “voice?”  Simply put, it’s the way each writer uses language.  It’s unique to them, even as they portray different characters in their writing who speak, think and act differently.

tokenz-nahprd538When we write, we can’t help but be ourselves.  We use all of our education, experience, and emotion in creating our stories. It really doesn’t matter whether we’re writing an autobiography or a paranormal fantasy – what shows up on the page is going to be a reflection of who we are, not someone else.   

So don’t try to force your writing to look and sound like any other author.  Write and enjoy it.  Be yourself!

 

X is for (e)Xperiment!

A2Z-BADGE-0002014-small_zps8300775cThis month, as I did last year, I’m participating in the AtoZ Blogging Challenge. The first post is A, the next is B and so on every day this month, except Sundays. Last year, my theme was Scotland. This year, my theme is The Writing Life. Check back here every day this month to follow along and find out what I’ve learned in the last year. For instance:

 X is for (e)Xperiment.  When is the last time you took a chance?  Tried something new?  Read a different kind of book than your usual fare?  Wrote a story instead of a full-length book?  

Being a writer means keeping your nose to the grindstone many hours a day for, possibly, the rest of your life.  If you don’t mix it up, try new things, read and write in a different genre now and again, you may get stale.  You’re a writer because you love writing, right?  You’re creative.  Imaginitive.  Sameness is comfortable, but it’s also stifling.  

W is for Write!

A2Z-BADGE-0002014-small_zps8300775cThis month, as I did last year, I’m participating in the AtoZ Blogging Challenge. The first post is A, the next is B and so on every day this month, except Sundays. Last year, my theme was Scotland. This year, my theme is The Writing Life. Check back here every day this month to follow along and find out what I’ve learned in the last year. For instance:

W is for Write. Just write.  If you can, write every day.  Don’t worry about whether it’s any good.  If you don’t write, you’ve got nothing to edit later.  So today’s lesson is simple: WRITE!

V is for Virtual Assistant

A2Z-BADGE-0002014-small_zps8300775cThis month, as I did last year, I’m participating in the AtoZ Blogging Challenge. The first post is A, the next is B and so on every day this month, except Sundays. Last year, my theme was Scotland. This year, my theme is The Writing Life. Check back here every day this month to follow along and find out what I’ve learned in the last year. For instance:

V is for Virtual Assistant.  As your writing career progresses, you’re going to get busy.  You think you’re busy now?  Ha! Just wait.  You can’t write fast enough for the slowest of your readers.  And even if you could, you couldn’t do that and do all the promoting and social networking required in our profession nowadays.  

adminThe answer?  Hire a virtual assistant.  There’s nothing virtual about them, of course.  They’re a real person.  They just happen to live in another town, or state, or country.  Or they might live across the street.  But they take care of things you don’t enjoy doing or just don’t have the time to do.  They might start out as a college student majoring in writing who can do an internship for credit.  They might be someone who works part-time for several writers, and that can include you.  Some authors have worked with the same virtual assistant for so long that they are now the VA’s only client.  

Whatever you need — a few hours a month or full-time support — you can find help.  Believe me, a good virtual assistant is worth every penny.

T is for Tools

A2Z-BADGE-0002014-small_zps8300775cThis month, as I did last year, I’m participating in the AtoZ Blogging Challenge. The first post is A, the next is B and so on every day this month, except Sundays. Last year, my theme was Scotland. This year, my theme is The Writing Life. Check back here every day this month to follow along and find out what I’ve learned in the last year. For instance:

T is for Tools.  Whether your tools are real or virtual, they will make your writing life easier and more productive.  Here are some you will want to add if you don’t have them by now:

Red BooksReference books such as dictionaries, a thesaurus, baby name books, grammar and punctuation texts

Craft books on writing, world building,

Useful websites (check my Links page), including your favorite search engines

Excellent word processing or manuscript composition software such as Word, Pages, Scrivener

Social media force multipliers such as Hootsuite for Twitter and Facebook

Foreign language dictionaries

550px-NZL_orthographic_NaturalEarth.svgMaps, atlases, or Google Earth and map software such as Mapquest, Google maps, or even Apple maps

Pictures of the locations in your book, or that look like the fictional places you’ve made up

If you write historical novels, histories, biographies, books for children on how things were back then (trust me – the explanations are usually clearer and provide more of the kind of information you need than wading scholarly tomes — unless you just enjoy wading through scholarly tomes)

Broadband internet (how can you do online research without it?)

ID-100131568Post-it notes, multicolored post-it flags, paperclips, a good supply of red pens – or bright blue pens – ink that will show up on the page so you can find your edits

To-do list notepads

And last, but not least, chocolate!Chocolate-Bar

 

 

 

S is for Street Team

A2Z-BADGE-0002014-small_zps8300775cThis month, as I did last year, I’m participating in the AtoZ Blogging Challenge. The first post is A, the next is B and so on every day this month, except Sundays. Last year, my theme was Scotland. This year, my theme is The Writing Life. Check back here every day this month to follow along and find out what I’ve learned in the last year. For instance:

Big-Army-Street-Team-ClickS is for Street Team.  A street team can be many things, but most simply, it’s a group of readers – fans and friends – who love your books so much that they want to help you get the word out.  

On the plus side, they network, tell their friends, leave bookmarks at libraries and bookstores, flood Twitter with hashtags related to your writing, help publicize book launches, etc., etc., etc.  You give them challenges and reward them with incentives such as books, t-shirts, or deleted scenes that no one else gets to see.  

A street team, like any group of special friends, can take a lot of time to set up and run. If you’re very lucky, one or two members will be so enthusiastic, they’ll wind up running the team for you.  Planning ahead and creating incentives and swag are critical to having rewards in place for your team.  And you need rules – what is acceptable and what is not for interaction with you, among team members, and with the public.  

Some authors disband their street team and then rebuild it in time for each new book release.  Others keep the same team for as long as any member wants to belong and be active.  How you run yours is up to you.  But you must weigh the pros and cons before you set up a street team and decide if one is right for you.