Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Writers Have Problems

Writers have problems.

Big surprise, right?

Well, the life of the self-employed and self-motivated can be very much different from going to an office at given hours. Freeing in many senses, but then there are the other problems.

For example when a writer is confronting emotional issues ranging from simply not being in the mood to depression or just reacting to distractions like a dog fixated on squirrels, it can signal lots of problems or merely a bump in the road.

If you find you’re hardly ever ‘in the mood’ to write whatever you have before you maybe you need to rethink this whole writer thing. Perhaps it isn’t for you after all. No harm, no foul, just think about it.

If you’re incredibly easily distracted it’s another problem to think about. If there are problems going on in your life maybe it would help to deal with those first or even to go see a counselor of some species.  If there are ALWAYS problems going on in your life that prevent you from writing, then really, seek some kind of help.

Though personally I have to say I find writing can help with mental blips. Going into another world of your creation, using focus, putting words down in neat rows can help to get you moving forward. It may not be easy to just start writing and it might be crap what you throw on the blank page, but it would well be of great help in getting past those blips and bumps.

Another problem writers have are impediments to our writing. I mean things happen, right? Your kid broke his leg and you have to run him to the emergency room. No writing today. The way things are going with climate change maybe a forest fire is heading your way. Maybe no writing for a couple of weeks. Maybe your computer crashed big time. God knows how long it will take to get it fixed. Maybe YOU broke your arm and are having a helluva time typing. Six to eight weeks to heal. The dog got bitten by God knows what – run for the vet! Hmmm.

Okay, okay, things like that are hard to dodge and they can get you off track for a while, but think about it, are you letting other, smaller things intrude on your writing time, all the time? Like the neighbor dropping over, or the phone ringing, or paying too much time to texting? If you want to continue writing you’re going to have to get the upper hand and take steps to ensure your writing time is protected.

But you’ve been told this before I’m sure, in many ways, on many blogs so I won’t go into detail on that subject.

Writers. We have problems. We are problems. If there’s a writer in your life be patient, supportive and maybe occasionally lock us in a little room where we can do nothing else but write. Your efforts will be greatly appreciated!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Good Books-Great Books: Readers and Writers Together

“Good books don’t give up all their secrets at once.”
― Stephen King

Good man, Stephen, and any reader or writer worth his or her salt will agree with him whole-heartedly. 

Readers don’t want a dump of info all at one time. They don’t want to be given every little inside tidbit that would ruin the ending of the story for them. They want to be teased and tricked, drawn into the story, to become a part of it.

Writers want to provide them with just that. A tease, a hook and some great entertainment. 

So where does that leave everyone? 

In a very good place. How many times do the giver and receiver actually agree on what they’re looking for and trying to do? 

Consider the great books you’ve read.  Even the not so great ones. There are hints and suggestions as you go along and part of the enjoyment of reading is guessing what’s coming next. 

From the writer’s side part of that same enjoyment is hooking the reader, giving that reader just enough to make him or her want to keep reading; need to know how it’s all going to turn out. So how do writers do that? That’s not so easy to explain. You could say they create fascinating, engaging characters against an engrossing setting with an intriguing problem to be overcome. 

I could say that and probably very few people would know what the heck I was talking about really. No, it’s much more complicated than that. Each writer is different in his or her approach. Some create detailed outlines, other fly by the seat of their pants. Some write with words flowing, others have a movie running inside their heads. “Just open a vein” some writers say. Others quip, “stare at the blank screen until blood beads on your forehead.” 

Readers just have to enjoy and maybe leave a favorable or not so favorable review. You guys have it easy. And, when Writers are in reader mode they have it easy to. 

Then there’s writer mode and things change. If you’re a reader aiming at writer status there are a few things you should remember. For starters learn the language you’re writing in. No, it doesn’t have to be perfect, but it can’t be sloppy. Read other writers you enjoy. Get hints and tips on style and story crafting, but don’t go the plagiarism route. You’re creative. You don’t even have to consider taking someone else’s work. But reading the work of the others can give you a very good feel for story structure, dialog flow and what genre you feel most comfortable in writing. Get to know your prospective audience. Lots of readers read in many genres, but each genre is a world onto itself. Learn all about that world. 

Readers – well I’d like to urge you to support the writers generally and specifically the ones you really enjoy reading. Think about posting a review somewhere when you really enjoy a book. Talk about what you liked and maybe didn’t like. 

Writers and readers are a team. So come on, tell us what you love about reading, writing and what authors you enjoy reading – and if you have the time, why. The more we share the better we become.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Writers and Readers Websites Wednesday - Cat Herder Extroidinaire

Hey folks, like romance reads -- and a bit of randomness? 

Then go visit Herding Cats & Burning Soup.

In her own words: "I'm a herder of cats (and a pup) and burner of soup ;) Blogging books, pets, food and a bit of randomness."

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Writers and Readers Meet at Goodreads

 I really like Goodreads. As a writer it offers lots of opportunities for exposure and interaction with readers, present and future and fans. And as a reader it offers lots of great new possibilities.

So if you haven’t visited before as a writer or a reader my might well say what’s all the excitement about?

Well, it’s a busy site with lots of page views and new pages going up all the time. There are lots of books, giveaways and links to authors’ pages where you’ll find even more links to giveaways, videos, author’s blogs and more.  There’s a heckuva lot to explore on GoodReads.

As a writer you’ll no doubt want (or maybe already have) a Goodreads Author Profile page with the author program. If you don’t, you probably will want to head on over there now and create your page with links to your books, etc. The process, as with most of these things, is easy. Poke around the site and you’ll see the links pretty quickly. Besides, it really is a good idea for you to learn your way around. I’ll admit, there are times when I kind of get lost myself with all those little buttons and sections of the dashboard and site in general. Mostly though it’s a fun lost wherein I usually discover a new writer or spot a question from a reader I missed. Once you find the way to announce yourself they’ll want a bit of info from you such as letting them know you’re an author. After you confirm it can take a couple of days to confirm you actually ARE and author so be patient.

Once it’s established it’s really you you’ll want to set up your profile page. Really, set it up. Give a little info about you, maybe a personal nugget or two that your readers would love to know about. Don’t forget to upload a photo since your readers love to get a look at you and the photo makes your page more engaging. Add your twitter name if you’re on it, a book trailer if you have one, link to a blog sit you run or your webpage; all the little things that make up you. In fact, while you’re poking around consider setting "Ask the Author" to on. It’ll provide a few basic questions you can answer or skip and gives a great opportunity for writers and readers to connect. In fact, if you like, head over to my Goodreads page scroll down just a little and ask away.

My advice to other writers is think about an answer before you just dash it off. Your fans will appreciate it more and share a good answer that actually contains insightful or useful information. Oh, and you don’t have to answer every single one. A little secret is the questions are visible only to the writer until said writer answers them. Email will go out to the person who asked the question once you answer and of course then it’s visible on your feed as well.

And readers – hey what’s the hold up? This is one great site for books. You can see new releases, discover new writers, put out your own reviews, join groups to share reading experiences, see what others are reading and share what you have next on your list.

A great reader’s community to join. And there’s the opportunity to dive into the “giveaways” under the “explore” button and see what book you have the chance to win. There are always pages and pages and pages of giveaways you can enter. Fiction and Non-fiction. Debut books, books by established authors, books in a series and how-to books to name a few. And at the same time you enter you can add it to your “to-read” shelf in case you aren’t a lucky winner and want to read it after the giveaway anyway. And bounce around in the many pages to find ones that interest you - if you simply start from the beginning you'll never reach the end. 

It’s a great way to have a never-ending list of books you hope to read. As if we readers need even more! Still, I like it a lot. And you help the writer as well since putting his or her book on your ‘to-read’ list gives it more exposure.

So if you haven’t investigated Goodreads – do, and join. Then get your reading and writing friends to join. You can find friends from Facebook and more there as well. Join groups that interest you and connect there with other readers and writers you enjoy. As a reader be sure to talk about the books you love and the ones you don’t. Be thoughtful and give reasons and don’t just slam a book because you’re in a bad mood. Writers be good to your fans. Don’t spam them and continually push your book. If you write a blog be sure to link it in so readers and fans can find out even more about you and your work.

Goodreads – a fun place to share the enjoyment of reading.Visit, check it out, if you're already a member let me know and send a friend request or a question. Let others know what you think of Goodreads in the comments below and have a great week.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Writers And Readers Websites Wednesday - Reference Site

Doesn't matter if you're a reader, a writers, a researcher, a student or just love facts. Go on over and Check out InfoPlease. 

It's a great reference tool that combines an encyclopedia, almanac, dictionary, thesaurus, atlas, and biography reference. Rummage around and you're sure to find the information you need. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

8 Ways to Carve out Writing Time

If you’re a writer (notice I’m not saying ‘aspiring’ writer - a writer writes, if you write you’re a writer) it’s more than possible you’re at a time in your writing career where you have all kinds of obligations and responsibilities like putting food on the table, paying rent, maintaining a car or maybe going to school or a whole lot of other things.

It may be a novel you’re writing or a screenplay or articles for magazines or non-fiction instructional books to help others. Whatever it is it could be you’re juggling like mad and trying to figure out how to write a novel or script or whatever while you’re holding down a full time job or going to school full time. 

Every writer no doubt has his or her own method of coping. I’m a full time writer now, but I’ll pass along a few things I did along the way. Some you probably won’t like to hear (there can be sacrifice involved in being a writer), others will seem more workable. Still others might just jump-start an idea that will work for you while you’re madly juggling. 

First and foremost, think this through. Do you really want to be a professional writer or is it just a whim or a hobby? I’m not kidding. This has a strong bearing on how much time you carve out and how much time you need to carve out. Those possibilities equal very different goals and needs.

Okay, let’s say you’re aiming at carving out a writing career. Then here are 8 suggestions for finding the time to do just that. Remember you don’t necessarily have to have a LOT of time just regular time. 

  • You can get up a hour earlier – of course this may well mean hitting the hay an hour earlier as well so you actually get some sleep. But the very quiet wee hours of the morning can be a great time for writing.

  • Writing on a bus or a train while commuting to work can be a great time adder for your work. Just make sure you don’t sit next to a ‘chatty Cathy’ who won’t let you work. 

  • There was a time when I arranged with my employer to come in to work an hour earlier so I could take a two hour lunch – during which time I ate while I worked on my latest novel.

  • Weekends can be precious, but if you’re serious and you can get spouse and family to understand you can carve out a few hours each weekend to get serious and put words to computer screen and write.

  • Holidays are a great time to write and I spent many of them doing just that. It works very well when you’re single. I did it a lot when I was in school. You’ll have to be the judge for when you’ve got a family. Anyway, there are many of them throughout the year for the worker who has some benefits. Among them are the usual, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, but there’s also Veteran’s day, Labor Day, Memorial Day, Columbus Day, President’s Day, Martin Luther King Day as well as some local holidays.

  • Write in the evenings. It can be every week night that you write or it might just be some. Perhaps you have to work out a deal with your spouse for a number of nights when you come home from work, eat dinner early and have the evening to write uninterrupted. It means less TV and you might have to sacrifice “Thursday night Football” but that’s the way of it. Which is more important?

  • Those 15 minute breaks at work can be a great time to jot thoughts and ideas and just let them evolve further if you think of writing instead of hanging out in the coffee room or at the water cooler every day.

  • See if you can do compacted work days (i.e. 10 hour days at work) with one day off from regular work where you can use the time writing all day.

Be creative, give it some thought. There are lots of ways to carve out writing time here and there without giving in to panic and despair. If you really work at it you’ll make it, just don’t let the time you carve out for writing get frittered away on social media and you’ll do great.

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