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  • Schedule

    Mondays ~
    Tuesdays ~ Snarky
    Wednesdays ~ Dreamer
    Thursdays ~ Naughty
    Fridays ~ Dreary
    Saturdays ~
    Sundays ~

    Whenever ~ Smokey, Mighty, Eerie and Wicked

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Editing Tips- After You Think You’re Done

paper and pencil

You write something awesome, reread and edit it multiple times, maybe get an editor, and you think you’re done, right? Wrong. After being in a critique group for four years, I’ve learned some invaluable things that every writer should consider.

  1. The first time you introduce a character, use his or her name.
    1. Example: “She rolled and struck him in the chest. Hot blood oozed down her hand as his screams filled the air. Heather smiled.”
    2. Instead: “Heather rolled and struck him in the chest. Hot blood oozed down her hand as his screams filled the air. She smiled.”
  2. After that, you can mostly just use pronouns (he or she), unless there are other characters, and it’s getting confusing.
    1. Example: “Heather liked to watch people die. Heather waited until the life drained from their eyes, then went on with her day, feeling like she’d had a dozen cups of coffee.”
    2. Instead: “Heather liked to watch people die. She waited until the life drained from their eyes, then went on with her day, feeling like she’d had a dozen cups of coffee.”
  3. Put down your work for a minimum of a few weeks, so you can read it with fresh eyes.
    1. There have been COUNTLESS times I’ve received feedback and disagreed with it. Then, week or months later, I read my work again and realize I was wrong. When you are too “close” to your work, it’s hard to see the truth.
  4. Read through your work, look specifically at the adjectives and adverbs to see if you are over-using them or could remove them and use a better word.
    1. Example: “She spoke loudly.”
    2. Instead: “She shouted.”
  5. Don’t forget your character’s thoughts and emotions. Without them, you have more of an outline of a story rather than a story.

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Critique Groups

critique group

A critique group can be defined as a lot of things, but to me, it’s simply a group of people who get together to go over their writing. If you are a writer and you aren’t in one, I highly recommend either joining one or creating one. I spent years writing on my own, working my hardest to reach my goal of becoming a published author. Yet, it wasn’t until I joined a critique group that I not only grew a lot as a writer, but had the confidence and knowledge to become a published author.

But what makes a successful critique group?

  • The most important thing is that all the members have personalities that work well together. If everyone can’t get along, they can’t work together.
  • Trust is equally important. If you don’t trust the members of the group, it’s hard to accept and give critiques. The whole experience leaves you pretty vulnerable, which means you need people there you know want the best for you.
  • Depending on your groups goals, the members should always be thinking, “what can we do to improve their story so it can be published?” If the members are just trying to tear apart your work, the group isn’t helpful for anyone.
  • Keep the group small. More than ten members would make it very difficult to have time to read and review people’s work (well). I actually think five or so members is plenty.
  • Meet regularly. Every two weeks seems to work well for me, but each group will have different needs.
  • Submit each meeting. The only way you’ll see a lot of growth is if you have regular feedback. Each meeting you’ll try to apply the comments from the last meeting so that your problems change and minimize. This really helps your growth as an author.

I asked my fellow critique group member and friend Aeon Igni her thoughts about the benefits of a critique group, and I think her response was brilliant:

“If you’ve ever read Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich, you know that much of business success comes from individuals grouping together to accomplish greater tasks than any one person could accomplish alone. A good writing group gives an author this power. With several minds focusing on their process, product, and career rather than their single mind, it is almost assured that the end product will be exponentially greater than what the author could create without this feedback.

Critique groups share information, techniques, tips and tools of the trade, as well as powerful brainstorming sessions and constructive criticism. We can see the power of critique partners and critique groups among published authors today – many authors I follow reference each other on social media and post pictures of themselves dining out or taking cruises together. 

For me personally, it is comforting to know that I don’t have to go it alone – that there are others to turn to when I am struggling or need advice. Even a simple text with an article to read or asking how my writing is coming along can be powerful motivation to keep moving forward. I expect that I will always be part of a critique group, and I can’t imagine a writing life without one.”

So if you aren’t in a critique group yet, find one or created one. It may be the single most important thing you do as a writer.

Street Team

Street Team

A Street Team is one of the most valuable things an author can have, according to Kevin Kruse. Other writers have stressed this to me over and over again, and yet, I’ve never been given a clear plan on how to actually create one. A few days ago I got my hands on a plan from Kevin Kruse that makes sense, and I’ve been eagerly waiting to share the most important points from his video with all of you.

But first, some of you might be wondering what is a Street Team. It is a group of people who are willing to read the work of an author, often before it is released to the public, and give feedback to the author. Sometimes they catch typos or errors, if that’s how the author wants to use them. But more often than not, they’re people who are ready and willing to leave reviews and “hit the street” for the author, promoting their work as readers and fans.

So how do you create one?

Some ideas:

  • First, authors are always talking about how important a newsletter is. Well, it is important! You can hit up this list, and email everyone on it, looking for people who want to be a part of your Street Team.
  • But how can you get people to sign up for your newsletter? Offering a free gift of some kind, like a book, or goodies, is a great way of encouraging people to sign up.
  • You can also use social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) to simply ask for people who might be willing to join your team.

I’ve started working on my own Street Team, although I’m just starting out. I’ve placed links all over my website, encouraging people to sign up, and offering them a free gift (one of my short stories) for joining. Once I get a good list of people on my newsletter, I’ll reach out to them about joining my team. I’ll let you know how it goes!

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Want to see more of what Kevin Kruse suggests? Check out his video!

Like my post?  Check out my personal blog: Lisa Morrow

InstaFreebie and Bitly

There are so many incredibly useful resources out there for authors, just waiting to be explored. Just this week, I finally took the plunge and checked out InstaFreebie and Bitly. I’ll share general information about these great sites below, as well as, my experience using them.

InstaFreebie

This is a website that is mainly used by authors who want a simple and safe way to give away free copies of their books. A few fellow writers recommended it when I asked about giving away copies in exchange for honest reviews. So far, I’ve only sent this link to a couple of reviewers, but this is what I noticed right away:

  • It is extremely user-friendly. It takes just a few steps in order to get a book giveaway up and running.
  • You have to have an ePub file, while I’ve never used before. I was able to get a free trial of a program (ePub Converter) in order to convert a word document into an ePub file.
  • When I opened the book on their site, the formatting was off. I resubmitted it with my CreateSpace formatting (which is my stripped down copy of my work), and it still had a space between each paragraph. I’m not sure how to fix it, but I’ll play with it some more.
  • The other thing that I couldn’t seem to figure out was how to view a copy of my book without actually going in and requesting a copy through the giveaway. I’m sure there is a way, but I may need to explore the site more.

Bitly

This is a website that takes links and shortens them, but it is so much more than that. This site also tracks how many times someone clicks on your shortened link, so you can monitor how useful your different advertisements are and how many people you’ve reached with them.

For example, here are two links that go to the exact same page:

The second link is the one that took me less than a minute to shorten using Bitly. Having a shorter link is nice, but what’s even nicer is that after I run this blog, I can go to Bitly and see how many people clicked on it.

Like my post?  Check out my personal blog: Lisa Morrow

Kindle Countdown- A Promotional Tool

You never know if you don’t try. That’s definitely my philosophy when it comes to marketing my work. So this week, I’m trying something new, combined with something I’ve had moderate success with.

Promotions:

  • I’m doing a Kindle Countdown for To Kill a Wizard, which means I’m reducing the price from $2.99 to .99 for one week only.
  • I’m also making The Sea Goddess free tomorrow.
  • (Both of these tools are available for books placed in the KDP Select program.)
  • I’d love to run a promotion for Realm of Goddesses, but it is not currently in the KDP Select program.

In the past, I’ve seen the following results from the giveaways:

  • For every twenty copies I give away, readers buy about one copy of another work.
  • I wouldn’t be too impressed with this, but I always keep in mind that there’s a difference between people downloading my work and actually reading it. Chances are that a lot of the people who picked up free copies still have them sitting in their Kindles, unread, so this isn’t a strategy I think will make me an overnight success.

As for the Kindle Countdown promotional tool, I’ve never used it before. The idea is that Amazon should hopefully have it visible in a few of its lists, and I may get some readers willing to take a chance on my book for .99 versus $2.99.

But as always, I’ll let all of you know how the promotion goes. Have any of you tried it? And if so, did you consider it successful?

The Hard Questions

tree-rings

I was recently asked two questions. I wanted to address them here, because I often see these questions answered by authors, and it always interests me. All of us have come from such different places, and are inspired by such different things. It’s fascinating that so many of us became infatuated with writing.

  1. What made you decide to be a writer?

I don’t remember it ever being a conscious decision. My little sister and I used to share a room, and she’d have trouble going to sleep. I’d make up elaborate stories and tell them to her until she’d fall asleep. I loved creating stories, and she loved hearing them.

My next clear memory is of entering a Halloween writing contest at the library when I was in elementary school. I wrote a story, edited it, and practiced it over and over again. On the day it was due, I went to the library and presented it alongside some adults. I didn’t win, but I realized that I wanted to keep writing stories.

  1. What keeps you going?

I love writing. It isn’t just an escape for me. It’s an essential part of my happiness. When I don’t write, I feel strangely irritated. At first I don’t realize what’s wrong, and then I start writing, and the feeling goes away. I think everyone deserves to have something they are as passionate about as I am about writing.

And in the deepest part of my heart, I also hope that my words might give someone else an escape. That a reader might open up my book and be swept away by my world and characters.

If you haven’t asked yourself these same questions, maybe you should. It was kind of fun to stop and think about the answers.

Today Only “The Sea Goddess” Short Story FREE on Amazon

The Sea Goddess

For today only, I’m going to be giving away my short story “The Sea Goddess” on Amazon. As with all my experiences, I’ll write a blog about this later and let all of you know if it was successful or not. I’ve already had a giveaway for my novel, but I’m curious whether or not a short story will “sell” better or worse than a novel. And I wonder if, because it takes less time to read, I’ll have a better chance at getting more reviews.

Either way, feel free to check it out! Here’s the link: The Sea Goddess on Amazon

Kindle Select- One Day Giveaway (My Experience)

Kindle- Goddess of the Sea Photo

The most important thing to me right now, as a new writer, is to get readers. I want people to enjoy my writing, and I want to hear their feedback, so I know what I can do to continue improving as a writer. So far, I’ve given away a short story on Smashwords and had about 300 downloads over the course of a couple months. Then, recently, I gave my novel “To Kill a Wizard” away for one day on Amazon, and received about 100 downloads. Of all those downloads, I’ve only had a handful of reviews.

So, I’m torn a little (so far) about what I think about giving away my work. It is possible that 400 people have read and loved my work, read it and hated it, or that it is just sitting on their Kindle, waiting to be read. But what I do know, based on my experience, is that giving away my work didn’t have a significant positive impact right away. My hope, at this point, is that these attempts to get my work into readers’ hands will be like everything else in writing, more of a long-term battle.

Like my post?  Check out my personal blog: Lisa Morrow

Plotter verses Pantser

autumn-sky

Some writers plot out each detail of their books long before they’ve even started writing. Other writers don’t plot a thing. They just let their characters guide the story. Still others, like myself, are somewhere in the middle. I’ll share the way I typically write my stories:

  1. I come up with an idea and type up a brief summary.
  2. Immediately, I start writing the first chapter.
  3. Usually I get a few chapters in before I realize I need more guidance.
  4. I go and expand my summary and create sections about the “world” of my novel and the “people” in my novel.
  5. Next, I go and write down the names of each character, find a picture that suits them from the internet, describe their personalities and their physical aspects.
  6. Then, I continue writing.
  7. I usually get a few more chapters in before I realize I need to do a short summary of each chapter.
  8. And that’s it! I keep writing, expanding on the document about my book, so I have it for reference.

Important things I’ve realized:

  • If I plot things out too much, I don’t enjoy writing the story.
  • If I don’t plot out anything, I end up wasting a lot more time.
  • I HAVE to have a word document specifically dedicated to important information about the world I’ve built and the people in it.

So I think I’m somewhere in-between a plotter and a pantser. What kind of a writer are you?

Amazon- One Day Free

Amazon Image

Is anyone else’s stomach twisting like a porcupine’s trying to tear its way out? Oh then, it must just be me. My book, “To Kill a Wizard,” has been out since June 30th, and so far, I’ve only sold a handful of copies. Depressing, right? Well, as a new author, I didn’t expect to be carried on the shoulders of my waves of readers, but I’d hoped for more than this. But then, my initial plans for promoting my book kind of didn’t work out the way I planned. So today, I’m giving away my book for free on Amazon. Which brings me to the topic of today’s blog… I’ll let you know what I did wrong, and then, what I’m trying now when it comes to promoting my book.

Initial plan:

  • Give away a free copy of a short story, in my novel’s world, to generate some readers for the novel.
  • Release “To Kill a Wizard” a few weeks later.
  • Promote on Twitter, Amazon, and blogs.
  • Wait for the orders to roll in.

Okay, so at this point, I’ve had about 300 downloads of my short story from Smashwords and a handful from Amazon. I have no idea how many of those copies have actually been read, but the overall feedback has been excellent. However, not many copies of my book (as I’ve said) were actually purchased after that point. And the big issue, I’d hoped Amazon would “price match” (although they technically say they don’t do that) my short story and make it free on Amazon. Weeks later, they still haven’t, so there is no free story to entice Amazon readers to give my novel a shot.

New Plan:

  • I’m giving away a copy of my novel on Smashwords.
  • I enrolled my novel in KDP Select, at least for the first 90 days.
  • I’m doing a “free day,” where my novel will be free.

So that brings me to my “free day” on Amazon. It’s today! I have no idea how it will go over. Maybe I won’t get a single download. Maybe I’ll get a bunch of them. Either way, I’ll update all of you, so you know whether it was worth it. Wish me luck!

And if you’d like to download my book, check it out at: http://www.amazon.com/Kill-Wizard-Roses-Story-Protectors-ebook/dp/B00X4XR32I/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-1&qid=1436653857

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