Sunday, May 15, 2016

Humor & Inspiration in Writing: Beating the Blaaaaahs

Not Mary Poppins...
Practically Perfect anyway!
Hello, faithful readers! Welcome to the final installment of the Humor &Inspiration Features. Over the course of several months, we’ve laughed, we’ve cried (ish), and we’ve learned together. I have loved sharing the stage with writers, bloggers, and authors and discovering what inspires, uplifts, and keeps them going.

But today I’m taking back the reins! That’s right, it’s my turn to talk about what keeps me from calling it quits, chucking my laptop off the balcony, and heading out bar hopping dressed like a nun. (I don’t have a nun costume. Will my trusty Mary Poppins get up do?)

In case you didn’t know, I’m an educator by trade and a writer just for the fun of it. I’m equally passionate about both careers. (Also chocolate and Chris Evans. But that’s another post...) I’ve spent 13 years in the classroom and have been a writer forever. Fairytales are a special weakness of mine. I read them, watch them, write them, and freak out when they’re done well. But enough backstory, on with the show!
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My life is a beautiful mess. I won’t be brave and wax on about how I LOVE everything about my life and I NEVER have meltdowns. Because I don’t. And I do. (Imagine the big, messy, snot-faced meltdowns that make your eyes feel like sandpaper. Yep, that happens.)

And guess what? It happens to all of us!
Even Britney...
Life isn’t easy for anyone. And certainly not for writers.

Because who likes rejection? Especially rejection piled on top of rejection? It’s definitely not the group of folks who claim to be more introverted than any other group on the planet. (Except maybe hermits.) Incidentally, it’s the same introverted group (not hermits) that’s expected to peddle their wares in person. Like at book launches, signings, books sales, and other author events. Where other people will be.
Anyone else see the flaw here?

I rectify the situation (and save my sanity) by Finding the Funny in life. Like a pearl in an oyster or a rainbow after a spring shower, it's always there. Like a kindergartner in an enormous mess he created himself.

Finding the Funny in Life, Love, & Whatnot

Look for the funny in your career. My job is hysterical, annoying, and uplifting all in the same five-minute period. My students are BRILLIANT at making me bust a gut. And yes, I can’t think about my pathetic life or problematic manuscript when children are being funny in my world. It just ain’t possible, my friends. (P.S. If your working life is completely tragic and regularly makes you feel like pitching yourself off the balcony, it’s time to choose another path. Be brave. You deserve the best.)
Actual shoes. Actual kindergartner. Good times.
 Look for the funny in your love life. I never date. (Seriously, I’m THIS awesome and still on the market.) It’s probably because I find men completely baffling. But man, I have some good stories because of my itty bitty love life (or lack thereof). I choose to laugh at the crazy things that have happened rather than blubbering over what hasn't happened. (And yes, those crazy things will find a home in my novels someday. Also, Oreos are a balm to my soul.)
Boys are weird. We like them anyway.
Look for the funny in your writing life. There are always funny things about being a writer. People treat you like a weirdo, or worse, once they hear you’re a writer, they give you the “oh, I should have known” look or the “I always knew there was something off about you” look. We can be offended or choose to turn our less than savory experiences into really good books and blog posts. 

And whether it’s intentional or not, every writer has penned something completely ludicrous while trying to be lyrical. Those gems, like “her eyes rolled to the ceiling” can really lighten up a bit o’ bland writing session. Laugh and then fix it, my friends. (Please, in the name of all that is holy, fix it before I'm forced to mock you!)
My sense of humor continues to save me in the writing world. 
Don't be afraid to laugh at yourself, my friends. (Also, don't be afraid to laugh at other people and the ridiculous situations they put themselves into. Just don't do it in front of them.) And yes, keep those laptop and mobile devices from becoming airborne. You'll need them to document all the funny you find.
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Sarah E. Boucher is obsessed with fiction, romance, and all things fairytale. Her first novel, Becoming Beauty is available at AmazonBarnes & NobleiTunes, or books & things. (And these days it's only $4.99 on Kindle!) 

Sarah's second novel, a twist on The Twelve Dancing Princesses, will be released later this year. 

Sarah can be found practically anywhere if you look hard enough!
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Thanks for reading my friends! It's been a pleasure to share the stage with so many gifted writers. And I plan to do it again soon. For the time being, my time will be sucked up with end-of-the-schoolyear doings and editing my second novel. Stay tuned for behind-the-scenes coverage of the self-publishing process (snippets of the photo shoot for my cover, editing gems, etc.).

If you missed any of the Humor & Inspiration Features, feel free to check them out:
And a hearty thank you to all my amazing participants! You're amazing, ladies! 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Humor & Inspiration: The Magic of Humor

Tamara Copley:
Writer, Educator, Blogger
Welcome to the last stretch of the Humor & Inspiration Features! We've had laughter, wisdom, plenty of inspiration, and a fair amount of snark. (You're welcome, my darlings.)

I'm pleased to introduce today's guest, Tamara Copley. Not only is Tamara an accomplished writer, educator, and blogger, but she has been my friend since the Dawn of Time. (I remember an illustrated version of Superhero Cats in Funkalicious Space Suits she created in the early 90's.) Tamara possesses a rare blend of highbrow humor (think puns, lots of puns), amazing writing talent, and a sweet nature. Basically, there's no one better to tackle the topic of bringing the funny to your manuscript.
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A good story requires great characterization with clear motivation, and a meaningful plot. A stellar story requires all that plus humor. I compared good books I’ve loved over the years to the Percy Jackson and Harry Potter series. These series have a sparkle many others lack because of humor.
Ting! Pearly whites aren't enough though...
Unfunny vs Funny
Let’s look at the Star Wars series. Movies 1-3 flop in part because all humor is focused in Jar Jar Binks, a buffoonish character who frustrates because he is a cheap shot for the kids and because he’s not funny to many adults. Meanwhile, dialogue and banter are often absent throughout the rest of the trilogy. Therefore, the only humor distracts from rather than enhances the storyline. Lacking their comedy relief, the other two movies don’t try to be funny. The lack of humor makes them fall flat and feel untrue to the original trilogy.  As with many movies, we watch them once and walk away.  
Somebody order a moody broody hero?
Entertainment should be fun. It should not feel like work to read a novel or watch a movie. 

What works in the Star Wars series? Movies 4-7 work because of humor. The Ewoks and the comedy duo straight man and chubby funny man, C3PO and R2D2, provide comic relief, but others provide humor as well. Even the simple, ubiquitous line, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this” becomes humorous when handled right. Han Solo and Leia are both serious throughout the series, but they exchange banter and zingers on a regular basis that carry the movies with their humor and charm. Audiences still chuckle over, “You stuck up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herder!” and Han’s winning response, “Who’s scruffy-looking?” These lines are funny because they’re a combination of familiar and unexpected. 
Beep bo beeeeeeep! (So adorable, right?)
Dialogue with humor provides magic for the original trilogy, and Force Awakens recaptures that, both with BB8, the quirky droid, and others.  [Spoiler alert]. Audiences see an entire village massacred then we get Poe Dameron’s line, “You speak first or I speak first?” to relieve the tension. One of the funnier scenes is the one in which Rey rescues herself using the force for the first time on a storm trooper played by James Bond’s Daniel Craig. Two serious characters make a funny scene while being serious because what happens there is so unexpected and straight-faced. Humor arises from fresh dialogue between intriguing characters with no “comedy relief” characters required. 

Your Turn
In most writing, humor is critical to the enjoyment of the reader. Humor doesn’t have to be constant or laugh-out-loud, but it should be present. It adds sparkle and fun. 
Boom, baby! Go forth and make it sparkle!
Entertainment is why most writers write and most readers read. Adding humor to a situation can make an otherwise somber story more enjoyable. Humor makes a reader care and helps carry the message into the reader’s mind and heart. 

Everyone’s brand of humor is different. Find yours, and your story will take on more magic and charm. 
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Tamara Copley has been writing since grade school. She has several published works in the academic realm and has garnered awards for short stories, children's books, and poetry. Currently, Tamara teaches English for Brigham Young University Idaho and is preparing her first novel After the Dream for publication. She lives in northern Utah with her husband, children, and too many pets to count.

Connect with Tamara Copley online:
Author Tamara Copley Facebook Page
Author Tamara Copley on Twitter
A Writer's Reflections: Author Blog
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Thanks for sticking with me friends! The finish line is in sight. If you'd like to revisit the other Humor & Inspiration posts, please do so!
Happy reading!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Humor & Inspiration in Writing: Writers With Personality

Colleen M. Story:
Author, editor, ghost writer
It's been a pleasure to host authors, writers, and bloggers this year. I'm never sure what they'll share in the Humor & Inspiration Features, but I've been impressed with the depth, insight, and relatablity of their posts. 

Colleen M. Story fits right in with the high-quality artists who have graced the Humor & Inspiration stage in the past few months. Colleen is a full-time writer and editor with a passion for health and wellness, animals of all shapes and sizes, and the country life. She mentors, shares, uplifts, and encourages other writers. (FYI last year, I was honored to be featured on her Writing and Wellness website.) 

Today Colleen poses an interesting question about authors and their colorful personalities (or lack thereof). Be ready for some deep thoughts (and a conscience twinge or two) as she explores this topic. 
* * *
Are Writers with Personality an Endangered Species?

I’ve admired authors for a long time. When meeting some of my heroes at conferences and writing events, I’ve felt the awe that a groupie likely feels for a rock band.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I heard that to a common, everyday person (i.e., not a writer), authors aren’t really all that exciting. In fact, according to her, they don’t have much personality at all.

What the Common Person Thinks of Writers
As a full-time freelance writer, I spend most of my days slaving away over a computer in my home office, so one of my favorite things to do in my off hours is to get out, often to a café for lunch or dinner and some nice hot coffee. I have a couple favorite locations I frequent, and the staff starts to recognize me after awhile.

So when I walked into one of these locations several months ago, it wasn’t a surprise to be greeted by a waitress like I was an old pal. We’ll call her “Grace” for fun, because she is very graceful. A tiny person not only in stature but figure, she wears her long hair in a perfectly wound braid, has small, defined, features, and looks like someone who does yoga every morning to perfect her already elegant posture.

Grace moves from one table to the next like she’s floating, and always has the best of manners. She says things like, “And what looks good today?” when asking for your order, and “great choice” whatever you choose. When she checks up on you later, she doesn’t ask how the meal is, but says, “And are we loving dinner tonight?” or “Is that just tasting wonderful today?” If you need anything more she’ll rush to get it, and tell you things like, “Oh absolutely, happy to do it.”

I’ve grown fond of Grace and have exchanged short conversations with her. I’ve learned that one of the young male waiters is her son, and that she actually doesn’t do yoga, but that she probably should, in her opinion, to enjoy the health benefits. I usually don’t get in too many questions, though, before she’s off and rushing to be sure all her tables are well taken care of.

So it was a rare treat one day when she stopped long enough to ask me what it was I was working on. She mentioned that others came into the café with computers, but that rarely did they seem to focus as much as I usually did. If I didn’t mind, sharing, of course.

I told her I was a writer.

Now, understand—usually when I say that people raise their eyebrows and act impressed or at least intrigued, and follow up with the usual question of, “What do you write?” So I was ready for that.

Not Grace.

She said, “Oh really? That’s surprising. I never thought writers had all that much personality.”

We’ve All Known “Those” Kind of Writers
I have to admit, I was taken aback by her statement. My first reaction was to be glad that the way she said it, it seemed she believed I did have a personality, so obviously I was the exception to most writers, which I supposed was a good thing.

My second reaction was to laugh out loud. Admit it. We’ve all been around those authors who are so wrapped up in themselves that even other writers don’t enjoy being around them.

I’ll never forget the first writer’s conference I ever attended. In one class the instructor was trying to teach us all something—I can’t remember now what—but this one writer/attendee kept getting up to ask questions throughout, questions that were all about him and had nothing to do with the class. In the end he was still talking about how horrible publishers were and how he couldn’t get anyone to look at his manuscript and what was the matter with all of them and on and on until finally the class ended.

Of course, after that, he had to go up front and continue to badger the instructor about his problems with “publishers.”

I met some great people at that conference, too, and I’ve continued to meet some very nice authors over the years. But I have to say I’ve met just as many that weren’t so great.

Let Me Tell You All About ME
I’ve started conversations with writers only to be roped into listening about every wonderful thing they ever wrote, including all their awards and publications and oh, but wait, there’s more!, until I had to physically walk away to stop the madness.

I’ve talked with authors who were so painfully wrapped up in their own heads that they came off as wanting nothing to do with any sort of conversation with anyone. Others have failed to take any interest whatsoever until I started asking them about themselves, after which they were happy to monopolize my time for the rest of the night.

Above it all are those huge authors I’ve met at signings. These are beacons of wonderfulness, warm and caring people that genuinely love to connect with those who read their books.  They’re the ones that by taking a genuine interest in their fans for only a few spare minutes manage to leave them feeling as if they’ve just been sprinkled with magic author dust, a rare element known to induce spontaneous smiling.

But then there are other well-known individuals who have failed to even look me in the eye while signing, or those who busied themselves in conversations with buddies at the table while scratching up my book and then handing it back as if I should be grateful they took the 10 seconds.

Was Grace right? Do most authors simply lack personality? Are they so wrapped up in themselves that they fail to see the effect they have on others, especially on—gasp—their fans?

I’m Looking for Writers with Personality
Grace is still serving at the local café. We chat now and then, though the subject of writers and their personalities never came up again. She doesn’t ask. I don’t tell. I work away, and she lets me work, and we occupy our own worlds except for the few spare moments when she’s taking my order.

But I’ll never forget her comment. Whenever I’m at a writing event, I tell myself to leave my ego at the door, and remember what my father always said—that we have two ears and one mouth for a reason. I do my best to keep my writing ambitions on the back burner (even though I know we’re supposed to NETWORK!), and to value my interactions as more about being human and less about furthering my career.

I continue to meet other writers that fit Grace’s description. More than I’d like to admit, actually. But that makes those few gems even more special, the ones that are writers but are still people, too.

Writers with personalities. Maybe they really are rare in today’s world.

Are you one of them?
* * *
Colleen M. Story writes imaginative fiction, and has been a full-time writer, editor, and ghostwriter for nearly 20 years. Her literary novel, Loreena’s Gift, was released in April 2016 by Dzanc Books. Her recent fantasy novel, Rise of the Sidenah, was a North American Book Awards winner, and was named Official Selection, young adult, in the 2015 New Apple Books Awards.

She maintains a robust inspirational blog for writers and other creatives at Writing and Wellness, with her own personal website at Follow her on Twitter @colleen_m_story.

Loreena’s Gift: A blind girl’s terrifying “gift” allows her to regain her eyesight—but only as she ferries the recently deceased into the afterlife.
Available now from Dzanc Books, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and online Indie bookstores.

Rise of the Sidenah is a magical fantasy about a young sculptress forbidden from practicing her art, until a powerful man offers her an opportunity she can’t refuse. Available at Amazon.
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Colleen's a prime example of a writer with personality! And totally worth stalking online (seriously, I just saw the cutest baby goats on the planet!). Just for the record, I have issues with writers who use their occupation as a reason to be antisocial. My experience? Because of who I am--more in teacher mode than writer mode most days--no one has ever greeted my writer status with scorn. Indifference, yes. Curiosity, naturally. And excitement?Absolutely. But never scorn. Colleen and I would love to hear about your experience with writers. Leave a comment below!
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Learn more about the other writers, authors, and bloggers from the Humor & Inspiration Features

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Shift: Traditional to Indie

The Waiting Game is loads of fun.
Because learning that your story isn't an agent's or publisher's cup of tea builds character, right?

And who doesn't appreciate waiting and waiting and waiting to hear if your story is good enough or if it fits into the Holy Publishing Schedule?

The truth is no matter which path you take, indie or traditional, the lion's share of the work will fall to you. Whether you ask for it or not, advice on plot, character arc, blocking, and a myriad of other topics will come your way. And baby, the marketing alone can knock you flat.

Because of the labor intensive nature of publishing, I thought I'd pose the question to my followers:

Do you have a preference between traditional or indie books?

The response was overwhelming: NO ONE CARED. As long as the story was worth reading, it would be read, they claimed. My confession? I lean toward traditionally published books, but only those with high-quality storytelling and great cover art. Send an indie book with the same characteristics my way and I'll snatch it up too!

Why bring this up now? Because my waiting game has reached an end. And I'm on my way to becoming an indie author. The big pieces are in place. A professional editor and a cover artist have been secured, and I'm in the middle of editing my twist on The Twelve Dancing Princesses.

As I jump into uncharted waters and try not to sink, I'll need all your support, kindness, and patience. And I'll be pleased to answer when you ask:

Because it hits shelves later this year, my dears! And that in itself is exciting. I still have so much to learn about self-publishing and I welcome your tips and warnings. Leave me a comment below!

And keep your eyes open for a new version of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, penned by yours truly!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Humor & Inspiration in Writing: Four Steps Away From the Cliff

Allison Maruska:
Author, Blogger, Mama, Coffee Enthusiast
Dealing with drama is something we in the Writing World refer to as part of the business. I've faced my share of annoyances, disappointments, and overwhelming urges to chuck the laptop off the balcony. (Especially the demon laptop of yesteryear...)

Allison Maruska, today's Humor & Inspiration guest, will tackle the topic of dealing with writer drama head on. But first, a bit of background on Allison. The author of several books, Allison is also a teacher, wife, mama, and humor blogger. She's an adorable human being and always up for a chat and a bit of writer mentoring. Without any further ado, here she is!
* * *
First, I want to thank Sarah for allowing me to use her space to espouse my mostly nonsensical banter. When she messaged me a list of suggestions for a topic, one (or a combination of two, rather) stood out to me: what do I do on those days I want to throw my laptop off a balcony and/or jump off a cliff?

And this is where the post ends, because neither of those things has happened to me.

*sobs into tin of chocolate I’m currently binge eating*
Of course I have those days. Everyone who has created anything in the history of ever has those days. 

I call them quit days.

Quit days are the magical combination of non-productivity and irrationality. They somehow blur any kind of accomplishment you’ve had and rub your face in the mess of criticism, poor sales, or general lack of “the groove.” Quit days make taking a janitorial night shift position at Costco appealing.  I bet it’s easy to see and measure success there.
My most recent quit day lasted three days, when usually they are closer to a literal day.  Those other days could be the result of a bad night’s sleep or bad nutrition or…you know, hormones. On those days, everything I write sucks and my social media presence sucks and no one cares what I do and…somebody call the whambulance!
I make light of these days because they aren’t rational and may not be connected to any concrete event. I’m not talking about those days when you get a tough critique or an editing letter or yet another agent rejection. These are real things that happen and you legit feel crappy about them. But more often than not (at least for me), after a brief period of self-deprecating malaise, I launch back into the task at hand with a renewed sense of purpose.

But what if there are more to quit days than single events or a bad mood?

Back to my three-day quit day marathon. It was spawned by a combination of factors that on their own wouldn’t have bothered me for long. But by the end of the first day I felt pelted in the face by rocks. Big rocks. With points and jags that pelted me with their pointy jags. By the end of day three, I finally did the things I’m about to tell you, the things I knew help me cope with quit days.

Step 1: Step away
You gotta gain some perspective, and that’s tough to do when you’re swimming in the problem. Go for a walk. Take the significant other or your bestie out to dinner. Netflix binge. Anything that’s not a writerly thing, at least for an evening.

Step 2: Indulge a little
There’s a reason I said “tin of chocolate” at the beginning of the post. Find a guilty pleasure and tap into it. Quit days aren’t forever, so you need not feel guilty. Get a few endorphins moving.

Step 3: Do something active
Exercise is also great at getting endorphins moving, and if you hate it you’ll be distracted from your quit day. You’ll be looking for the cliff to launch yourself from, but it will be for a different reason.

Step 4: Talk to a trusted friend
I started here on my three-day experience, and I should have done it on day 1. We both have labeled these days “quit days,” so he speaks my language and told me to do steps 1-3 after he let me vent for a while. Your friend won’t judge you for your quit day because everyone has them.

So I hope when quit days come knocking, you’ll see them as annoying yet temporary elements of your creative life. 
* * *
Allison Maruska's debut novel, The Fourth Descendant, was released on February 4, 2015 and has figured on Amazon best seller lists. Her YA urban fantasy called Drake and the Fliers was released in November, 2015, and is proving to be a fan favorite.
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Thanks for taking over the blog, Allison! We all have awful days when carrying on seems pointless. And though your brain knows it doesn't make sense to give up, it seems the most rational course of action. Here's to holding it together, reaching out for support, and carrying on like champs! So friends, if you ever need anyone to chat with, drop me a message, because I've been there

Also, you can always connect with Allison Maruska:
Author Website & Blog
Facebook Author Page
Allison Maruska on Twitter

Need more inspiration or humor? Read our other amazing writers, authors, and bloggers from the Humor & Inspiration Features

Thanks for dropping by, lovely readers!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Punchy, Fun, Engaging Posts

Awesome blog posts don't just happen.

There are plenty of things to consider if you want to create posts people will read without excessive eye-rolling and/or growling aloud. (Note: if eye-rolling and excessive growling is your goal, you have my permission to hit the road, Jack. Bye-bye!)

Choose cool topics
You may be the Grand Expert of Nothing, but you can still share what you know and the resources that have helped you. Go ahead and respond to readers, issues presented by other authors, and explore cool trends in the literature world. (Note: don't act like a know-it-all...unless you've done some mega research and you actually know it all. #SmartA)

Keep 'em brief & positive
Step one is Get the Words Out! So what if they're bitter or rambling? I'm often Miss Bitter and Rambling. But before embracing my righteous indignation and pounding the publish button, I don my editor hat. (Yes, it's super cute and covered with bling!) Humor is added to soften angry/bitter words. And repetitive redundancies can meet Mr. Delete. (Note: soliloquizing and crazy rants already have a place in Shakespeare. And he does it better than you. #SorryNotSorry)

Format, highlight, & leave some freaking blank space
If you don't have an inner artist, this is a good time to develop one. Think of ADD children, and visually peruse the post for large chunks of text that readers (like me) will find overwhelming. Chunk it into more readable bites. Use those schmancy little editing buttons to bold, italicize, and highlight subtopics, important nuggets, or tweetable gems. And please for the love of Pete, leave a decent amount of white space! (If you think this is just the ramblings of a crazy kindergarten teacher, go ahead and write four pages without paragraph breaks or dialogue to interrupt. I'm bored just thinking about it...and you?)

Eye-catching images
We like to pretend that Words are All Powerful. Nothing undermines that theory like the share-ability of a post with cool images. You're all professional photographers and artistic geniuses, right? No? No worries, there are plenty of resources that make even the dumbest of bunnies look good:
  • Unsplash is my favorite source for free, high-quality photos. Jazz 'em up, have a bit of fun, and voila, a custom image for your post. (If Unsplash isn't your style, peruse this Verve article for other sites with royalty-free images.) 
  • Photoshop makes my inner child shudder. RhonnaDesigns is the Instagram app I use for editing and embellishing photos. It's simple and includes various fonts, stickers, frames, etc. #SoCute
  • I've heard good things about PicMonkey, which includes many of the same features and it's free.
Double duty! I create cool images for my website and later use them for Social Media promotion. (And hey, if you haven't been paying attention, Pinterest and Instagram are all about the images, baby!)

Link it up
Again, utilize those schmancy buttons at the top to embed links to related blog posts on the same topic, others' posts that inspired yours, and outside resources (book links, more information on the same topic, etc.). Think carefully about how to reference them to encourage the reader to follow the links. (Note: never use HERE to reference links. Mr. Lazy Bones. HERE tells you nothing about where the link leads. It's only useful on that map at the mall when you have no idea where you are. #YouAreHERE)

Choose an awesome title
Some readers won't get past boring, off-putting titles. When crafting a title, think in terms of promotion. What do you want readers to attend to most? Title your post accordingly. Also, be sure to deliver on any promises made to the reader. Annoyed readers don't stick around. Shocker!

Interact with readers
The internet closes the gap between celebs and Joe Shmoe. We may as well encourage audience participation and close that gap a little more, right? We can invite readers to comment, share their expertise, and give their opinions or preferences on the issues we present. Did you think about the fact that you're someone's favorite writer? If you've ever seen the sparkle in someone's eye after they read your book, that's what it means!

Recheck before posting
Resist the righteous indignation of pounding the publish key for one more second! Preview and recheck it again. Peruse, play with different formatting, add your labels, and test your links. I can't tell you how many times I've been so proud of a post only to read it through and find a glaring error. #SoooooEmbarrassing 

The moral of the story is: 
You can never look too brilliant!
(So take your time and make it awesome.)

We've reached the end end of my soliloquy on creating Punchy, Fun, Engaging Posts. (Note: this was the least punchy, fun, engaging post EVER. So I jazzed it up a bit. How did I do?) 

By the way, if you'd love to see some masters at work, here are a few of my favorites:
Any other tips you'd mention to the blogosphere, my dears? I'd love more input on the subject. Leave me a comment below!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Humor & Inspiration in Writing: So, You've Published a Book...

Carol Hedges:
Author, Blogger, Super Gran
When writers take on the publishing world, they jump in with two feet. I had NO idea what was coming in the form of marketing, sales, and random comments from strangers and not-so-strangers. I've already unveiled a few secrets of marketing and authorship. Today's Humor & Inspiration guest, Carol Hedgeswill address a few more of the...uh, annoying aspects of authorship (i.e. random comments strangers and not-so-strangers make when they discover you're a writer/published author.) 

Let me just say this about Carol Hedges, she is hysterical. Whether she's discussing her granny duties or introducing her latest book, she's professional, warm, inviting, and YES, hilarious. Introducing her to you is an immense pleasure. Take it away, Carol!
* * *    
Advice to Newly Published Writers
So you have finally published your first book! Congratulations, fellow writer, welcome to the best club on earth! And here you are now, head held high, feet a million miles off the ground, waiting for your sales to take off, 5 star reviews to pile in, and Hollywood to make that all-important call.

As you share your wonderful achievement with family, friends and complete strangers (because you won’t be able to resist), expect to encounter the following:

1. You don’t look like a writer: this has been said to me so many times I have lost count. I have tried to get the person to define exactly WHAT a writer looks like (pallid, vacant stare, two heads, ink-stains on their jumper). All I ever get is ‘not like you.’
Apparently. they expect us to look weirder.
2. I’ve often thought I could write a book. Everybody has a novel inside them, it seems. And it is so easy to write it, apparently. Don’t bother to share the agonising hours staring at a blank screen, the sleepless nights trying to work out the plot, the constant feeling that you are wasting your time. They won’t believe you. It must be easy...after all, YOU did it.
Because that's just so easy-peasy.
3. I don’t have time for reading. Subtext: ‘I am far too busy doing important things for such idle frivolity; you clearly aren’t.’ Smile and wave, smile and wave. Put them in the next book and kill them. Slowly and painfully.
Boneheads, beware!
4. So what’s it about, your book? OK, trick question. You will be tempted to launch into your carefully written blurb, or that brilliantly crafted synopsis that took you three days to produce. Waste of time. They will inevitably reply by asking you whether your book has got any dogs in it because they like reading books about dogs.
This one's ALL about dogs. (And an easy reader!)
5. I’ve got this really good idea for a book - do you want to hear it? No, you don’t. Because this is your moment, your achievement, your book. But they will tell you regardless. In detail. They will probably then offer to let you use their idea in your next book. Resist the temptation.
The correct response to an unsolicited book pitch.
6. That (insert name of over-hyped writer) earns a fortune. Aha! Now’s your chance. Lead them carefully through the meagre royalty rates, the bookshop discounting, the amount of unpaid promotion you have to do. They won’t believe you, but it will remind you why you wanted to be a writer in the first place...for love of the craft, not for money.
I'll just leave this here...            
........and then pat yourself on the back, tell yourself that you have achieved what thousands of others can only dream of, and start writing your next book.
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Carol Hedges is the successful UK author of 15 novels. 12 for teenagers and young adults, and three adult historical novels. Her books have been shortlisted for various prizes. Her YA novel Jigsaw was long-listed for the Carnegie Medal and her first Victorian Crime novel Diamonds & Dust was listed for the 2013 CWA Historical Dagger. She is currently writing the fifth book in her Victorian Detectives series. The fourth, Murder & Mayhem, will be published later this year.
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Gorgeous cover art, Carol. Also, I'm totally in love with the pink car of joy.
See? She's a delight! I think I'll keep her (but mostly for my own amusement). Feel free to find her online, she's easy to chat with and is an amazing writer and mentor. 

Twitter: @carolJhedges
Her award winning blog: Carol Hedges 
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