Discovering a Story Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘authors’

Too Many Writing Groups Aren’t Worth My Time

mice-800875__180It’s smart to join writing groups, virtual and real life. The problem is that I’ve found many aren’t worth my time. What’s up with all that? I have more important things to focus on.

Why aren’t they worth my time? Most do not fulfill the function they were designed for. A group that was formed to help share marketing tips isn’t doing its job when all people are doing are post and run spamming. Why participate when there are no marketing tips shared?

One group I joined was supposed to be a book club. They never talked about a single book except their own they were trying to sell. I was looking for an actual book club. That was so disappointing.

Also, with most any group there needs to be some interactions. I like to test the waters with different groups. I post a question and watch for people to answer. If no one answers for several days, I leave the group. When there are thousands of members and hundreds of posts a day, there should have been a response.

Sadly, I have left more groups than I participate in. I find very few that have any substance. That means I’m not getting what I need from others. Are you finding the same thing? Oh, I’ve tried to start my own group to fill that need, but few people interact even there. Unless it involves something completely over the top controversial, people remain silent.

 

Learning my Target Audience

tiro-160574__180This is very hard for me to be precise with. My stories cross genres and audiences. I am driven my the story. It is not uncommon for me to have a story that is directed to young adults in the works while I am working on a mystery novel for adults. So I have to step back and reassess my writing.

I look at the genres I write: suspense, romance, mystery, historical, and a little bit of everything else. A common thread in all of them is a sense of mystery and suspense. Every story I write reveals a little bit of these. So it logically shows me that I tend to write more toward the suspense/mystery audiences. I will focus on them for this piece.

According to the Genre Characteristics chart, mysteries are “Imaginative stories dealing with the solution of a secret, problem, or crime, and involving suspense or intrigue” that involve “suspense…cliffhangers… foreshadowing…detective stories and spy novels”.

My target audience wants to sit on the edge of their seats. They don’t want the story to flow slowly and at a pace to easily put them to sleep. They want to have to turn the next page to find out what is going to happen next. They expect loose ends from chapter to chapter. They want questions to create bring about more questions. The target audience wants hints dropped that could lead them down a multitude of paths. The stories have to follow a certain pattern, but the pattern also opens a small window of flexibility to keep their imagination targeted.

It is a good thing that I love to write cliffhangers. In fact, I like to end books in a series with a cliffhanger. The result has been bad reviews from people who cannot stand to end a book without everything tied up in a nice little bow. That is okay because others love it. They are the target audience.

Too often, I have reached out to the wrong audience. I have focused more on avid readers who read a variety of genres instead of the ones who read that specific genre. I need to redirect my focus to those who like what I like to write.

 

Works Cited:

 

“Gene Characteristics”. Eastern Illinois University. Web. 12 February, 2016.

 

When Your Family Isn’t Behind Your Writing

monkeys-1187571__180Being a writer is not a bed of roses. You don’t have all day to write. You don’t have immediate success. You don’t have everyone you know supporting you. That includes the family that loves that you. Sadly, too many authors find that the ones who support them the least are their family members. They either might ignore your writing or they try to tear you apart. Yes, too often your family is your most toxic stumbling block.

One author has her family asking her when she’s going to find a more productive hobby other than her writing. She has several books published and brings in a couple of hundred dollars a month on book sales. Her own, grown children refuse to talk to her about her writing. They think it is a fad that will die out though it has been going on for several years. Her best supporters can be found online and most have never even been met.

Another writer has her closest family members telling her she is foolish to continue writing. While she has a full time job that is not writing, she is making headway in a successful writing career. But her family is not with her as she hasn’t won the New York Bestseller slot yet.

My family is a mix. Some family members read my writing, but they refuse to tell others about it. Some read it and want more but never say anything more until a new book comes out. And then there are those who turn their nose up at my work. They’ve quickly let me know that my writing doesn’t interest them. Funny how one of them think she has supported me more than anyone. Not! My own children have never read my work and my husband has only read one chapter. Now, they do support me in giving me time to write and letting me bounce ideas off them. But it is the ones who want nothing to do with my writing that hurts the most. Oh, well.

So, what do you do if you find yourself in any of these situations? You find a support team outside of your family and move on.

Most of best supporters can be found online and halfway around the world. They are people in the same position as me who cheer me on. I cheer them on. Our support really helps each other and produces more work. They have become my family. Remember that family doesn’t have to be blood related. They are those who come around you during the good times and the bad times and are always there for you.

Who is your family who supports you?

Market Your Book by Creating Character Connections

connect-20333__180A great way to market your book is to get people to connect to your readers. Ones that have read your work will be wanting more. Ones that haven’t will be highly curious. That’s what marketing is all about.

How

One very successful self-publishing writer found other people who had the name of her characters and connected with them on social media. These people found it cool that their names would be in books.

Another young author went shopping and tried on clothes her character would have worn. Pics were taken and then posted on social media.

One author had her character taking pictures and posting them online with comments that only the character would have said.

Likable Characters

When there is a likable character, people want to get to know them better. These are great ones to connect with your readers and expand your readership. But….

the other side of the coin can be even more fun.

Evil Characters

I tend to love to get closer to evil characters. They have such depth and aren’t nearly as totally evil as you might think. One author had a very interesting character who we pegged as bad. But a short novella about him had us seeing him in a different light. He was the one I wanted to get to know better.

Example of Using Dialect in Writing

(This is an assignment I had in my creative writing class. In it we discussed how dialogue can be used and the many different ways an author can use it to deliver their message. )

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Jesmyn Ward’s “Cattle Haul” is a creative short story that brings the dialect of the characters into the narrative. Many authors reserve the dialect to be heard in the dialogue as the characters speak. Ward takes a different approach and writes the entire story in the local dialect of the author. One example is this piece from “Cattle Haul”:

Before Grandmama died and left the trailer to me, the faucets in the house started spitting out sand because the well was too shallow. I ain’t have no money to get the well re-dug, so I moved back in with my daddy. I cleaned her trailer every Sunday and I got a job as a janitor at Love’s gas station but I couldn’t never make enough for that well. When I asked about a loan, the bank teller looked at me like I was a nutra-rat. I was still trying to talk the well digger into taking payments.

Most times when an author writes in the local dialect, I tend to have to read it out loud to fully get the meaning. When I read this section, I can hear in my voice the Southern dialect I grew up with. Traditionally, the narrative is written with correct grammar and sentence structure. Here, Ward steps out of the mold and lets the narrative become the dialogue with the point of view being in first person.

Many people with less education speaks with run on sentences. The character’s narrative does here as well as he states, “I cleaned her trailer every Sunday and I got a job as a janitor at Love’s gas station but I couldn’t never make enough for that well.” Saying it out loud, I can hear the character actually saying the words. The writing style helps to bring the character to life and allows me to feel as though the character is speaking right to me.

 

Works Cited:

 

Ward, Jesmyn. “Cattle Haul” A Public Space Issue No.4. Electric Literature. Web. 21 Jan. 2016.

Watching Your Words Carefully in Communication

slip-up-709045__180Too many people just react and speak without stopping to think about how their words can come across to the person they are addressing. Lately I’ve been getting messages from others in the book industry that obviously were sent without the writer thinking of how their words could be received. Their words come across as rude and presumptuous. My reaction? Not what the writer was looking for.

One writer approached me for a book review. When I accepted his book, he continued to inform me that the cover of one of my books was poorly done and would be glad to do another one for me. I’m sorry, but I don’t see how that could ever be perceived as polite. In fact, it was quite rude. What would he say if I told him that? The result? I’m not reviewing his book. He just lost a possibly positive review because he didn’t stop and think about what he said before he hit the send button. He should have kept his mouth shut.

Another author requested a book review. Then told me that my site was too beneath her book. From there, she began to trash me online and on Amazon. Not a good way to get readers. She just got on my do not work with list.

Now, I do want to say that this happens in all aspects of life. I got an email from an aunt just yesterday that was very condescending and rude. Discovered she didn’t mean it that way, but…wow! It came across that way to anyone who read it. Fights can start over such things.

The point here is to remind you to watch what you say in your communications. Don’t write something and just send it off. Let it set and come back to it. You’ll find mistakes and where you worded something wrong. Have someone else read it especially if it is a sensitive topic or extremely important. It is never a bad idea to have a second set of eyes. Always go with better safe than sorry. Remember that you can’t take it back. Damage done could be permanent and bite you in the rear later. Burning bridges is rarely a good thing especially when you are wanting to move forward in your career.

Getting Material at Work

partnership-526413__180If you are a writer, you’re probably discovering that inspiration can be found anywhere. Seriously, it can be found at any moment of the day in any situation no matter where you are. I’ve found inspiration at family gatherings and even riding the bus to work. Everywhere inspiration is found. One place you can find a ton of material is where you work. Don’t believe me? Let me tell about my typical work day.

During the day, I used to work as a barista at a coffee shop. At first, I looked at it as just a job to bring in extra income. I have to admit that I even looked at it resentfully as time away from my writing. This especially became true when I was given more responsibility there. But eventually I found a ton of material presenting itself at every moment while I was serving coffee. Stories were hitting me left and right.

Need character material? I found a ton at work. I found so many different character traits. There was the one customer who didn’t like anything made for her. From her, I learned how to describe her facial expressions and physical actions. I also learned how to word dissatisfaction. She gave me the material I needed to appropriately describe how someone like that in one of my books acts. Shoot, she had helped create a character or two.

Then there is the businessman who is all business and is rude with a cell phone on his ear Monday through Friday but on the weekend is an entirely different and relaxed man. He walks up and refuses to order his drink. He will put up his fingers showing a one or a two. That means he will either be just getting his drink which is customized or getting his wife’s as well which is also customized. During the week, he is not exactly a pleasant man. But I know how to describe a character now who is like him.

I’ve changed jobs since then and still finding so much in the way of material. I work in an office now managing inventory and arranging some transportation of goods. I interact with co-workers in the office and many remotely as well as with trucking companies, import brokers, and our suppliers both domestic and foreign. Talk about a plethora of material for my writing! I have the drama queen in the cubicle next to me who can take anything small and make a disaster out of it. I’ve learned to describe her antics quite well. Things happen that could becomes stories like the time something stunk up one of the trucks. They pulled a pallet of product aside and found the source, what looked like a dead snake. Later we found out that it was a piece of rotten bacon that had been wedged in a groove within the truck and pulled up when the pallets had been pushed in. So many story possibilities.

No matter what you do on your job, you can get material for your writing. Characters are there for the taking. Scenarios are there for you to pick up and run with. I had a great one come out of the blue when inanimate objects kept seeming to have a life of their own. A plate dropped after a cup did without anyone touching them. My boss picked up the plate and had it ‘talk’ to me is a sassy manner. It hit me like a bolt of lightning. What if the objects in the café came to life after dark and talked about the customers and employees? That would be so cool. Thus a short story was born.

Look around you at work. Take a scenario or a person and write a story about them. It doesn’t have to be a novel. Write a short story. It can be fun and very therapeutic.

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