HIGHLANDER Giveaway Hop Winner!

Highlander Giveaway Hop_2013_smCongratulations, Susan Poll! You’re my winner! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd thanks to everyone who commented. I hope you had a great time participating in the blog hop.

If you haven’t joined my mailing list, you’re missing out on contests I run just for my subscribers, plus exclusive news and excerpts from my books.  

Do you see that little blue box with the Newsletter envelope at the top right of the page? Click there to join the fun!

 

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

 

 

 

O is for Opportunity

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:

O is for Opportunity. As with any other profession, those who work hard prepare to take advantage of opportunities that come their way.  For authors, that means writing, writing, writing.  But it takes a lot more than writing to be a successful author these days.  For example:

Build a brand by having a website and being active on social media.

Practice your 20-second elevator speech (your bio, book description, whatever you need) until you can recite it in your sleep.

Rehearse your agent and editor pitch until you’re sure they’ll be so impressed, they’ll just have to buy your book.

Attend conferences and network with other authors.

Make sure your book is as close to perfectly edited and formatted as you can make it before it’s published.

Then, when the chance to pitch your book, meet an author you love to read, or collaborate with other authors on a promotion project comes along, you’ll be ready. 

Check out the other authors doing the A to Z Challenge this month!

N is for Newsletter

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:

newsletterN is for Newsletter.  Yes, I have one.  I’d love for you to join my newsletter mailing list.  You’ll get first crack at contests, exclusive content, and cool developments I haven’t shared anywhere else.  I only publish once a month, so your inbox won’t be inundated – at least not by me.  But you will be in the know, which is a great place to be.  If you haven’t already clicked one of the links above, click here!

Why do authors write newsletters?  For a variety of reasons, but here are a few:

A newsletter lets us share exclusive content with readers who really want to know about us and our books.

A newsletter lets us reward readers who really want to know about us and our books with exclusive contests, book excerpts, previews, and news before anyone else gets access to them.

A newsletter mailing list tells us who our most devoted fans are – the people who love our books and who help us get the word out when we have a new release or an exciting development to share.

If that sounds like fun to you, join my newsletter mailing list!

To see who else is Blogging from A to Z this month, click here.

M is for Making It Up

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:

M is for Making It Up.  We writers do a lot of that.  Some more, some less, depending on the genre we write in, and how historically or factually accurate we want a story to be.  Mystery, crime fiction, police procedural and courtroom drama writers spend hours on research because some readers love to catch an author in a mistake.   It’s part of the fun of reading those books.  I imagine the same is true for Regency historicals that are filled with period details of costume, customs and furnishings.  

Scottish historical writers have more freedom to incorporate fantasy elements, and to forego real locations in favor of places and events they create.  Irish historical romances go even further, as most of them incorporate some form of the Fae of Irish myth and legend.question-mark-112390_640

No matter what you write, you depend on your imagination.  But as Tom Clancy famously said, unlike real life, fiction has to make sense.  Your story has to have some logic to it, even if it’s only its own internal logic.  Worldbuilding is a science as well as an art.  What’s the geography?  Who are the people?  What are their customs?  Religion?  Politics?  You may not incorporate all of those elements in your story, but you’ll think about them as you make up the details of your world, if you want the story to make sense to you and your readers.

To find other authors participating in the AtoZ Blogging Challenge, click here!

L is for Love What You Do

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:

L is for Love What You Do. You know the old saying – A person who loves what they do never works a day in their life.  

Love to write but hate marketing?  Write more, market less.  

Love meeting readers?  Do more book signings and personal appearances.  

Love having a book release but hate social media?  Write!  Keep writing good books.  Recruit your friends and readers to spread the word for you.

Do what you love.  The rest will take care of itself.    red-rose-heart

J is for Judging

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:

J is for judging.  Whether you participate in a critique partnership or critique group, write reviews, or judge contests, you’re called upon to judge the work of other authors.  Yes, it’s tough enough deciding if your own writing is good, bad or indifferent.  But we writers depend on honest feedback from our peers to help us sort through plot problems, identify word repetition and grammar mistakes, and on the plus side, to gain attention from agents, editors and readers.  

The old adage “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything” doesn’t serve us well when we’re called upon to help another author improve their writing.  Nor is it fair to anyone in a contest to give only positive feedback. Judging implies recognizing both positive and negative aspects of a work. But there’s no need to be mean, either.  Honesty can be couched in kind words, helpful suggestions, and critical feedback that leaves room for the other person to grow as an author while protecting their ego.  images

Judging another’s work is fun when they’ve done a great job, you enjoy their story, and you can easily give them positive reinforcement.  Most of us don’t enjoy the flip side of that coin, when we could not finish the book, when there are so many errors that it looks like we bled all over the page with our red pen, or when we have to score a contest entry so low that we know the entry has no chance of advancing.  But if we’re determined to help our fellow authors ensure that manuscripts are truly ready to be published, then we have no choice.  

 

H is for Hero

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:

H is for Hero – Who is the hero of your story?  In Romance, the convention is to have a hero and a heroine (or a hero/hero or heroine/heroine, or hero/hero/heroine … you get the idea), both of whom get relatively equal time in the story.  Romance is written from the hero’s and heroine’s point of view.  The reader sees what they see, hears what they hear, knows what they know.  Often, those are the only two viewpoints in a story, but sometimes the antagonist (the bad guy) or an important secondary character gets a few scenes, too.

securedownloadRomance readers love an alpha hero – large and in charge describes this type of man.  But beta heroes have their followers, too, who prefer the more sensitive, cooperative male.  Heroines, thankfully, have gone from simpering, empty-headed missies the hero must save to kick-ass women who can not only take care of themselves, they often save the hero, or work side-by-side with the hero to resolve the conflicts in the book.  While the definition of hero, especially the alpha variety, hasn’t changed much in Romance novels, the definition of heroine certainly has.

G is for Genre

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:

G is for Genre – What is a genre?  The dictionary definition goes something like this: a category of literature or other forms of art or entertainment, whether written or spoken, audial or visual, based on some set of stylistic criteria. In other words, it’s the type of book you’re writing, whether it’s a mystery, a western, science fiction, or some sub-genre of romance (e.g., science fiction romance, historical romance, contemporary romance, etc.).

Traditionally, publishers liked nice clean divisions between genres.  Well-defined genres make books easier to shelve and to market.  But there are some authors (me included) whose books cross genres.  Mine are Scottish historical paranormal romance.  Say that six times, fast!

Red BooksCrossing genres makes marketing more of a challenge, though digital booksellers can get around that with well-chosen keywords, but it also provides opportunities to reach more readers.  My readers might like historical romance, or Scottish historical romance, or paranormal romance, psi-focused science fiction or even fantasy, but they find elements of their favorite style in my books.  So my readers come from all of those preference groups, not just one.

The secret is out.  As writers find their readership expanding, crossing genres is becoming more common.