Story Mastery with Michael Hauge #michaelhauge #rwaus16 #amwriting

Love stories offer most powerful tool for creating character arc and taking reader on journey

What a thrill to attend Michael Hauge’s story writing workshop at the recent RWA conference. Apparently, we were the biggest audience he’s ever had for a presentation on writing – and we loved it!

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For those of you who don’t know much about Michael – he’s a screen-writer and writing/screen coach who works in Hollywood and has consulted on many of the major HW films in the past decades.

Michael covered a lot in our all-day session. Starting with some clips from some movies he used to illustrate his messages. So what were some of his messages?

Some of those that resonated with me were:

You need to create an emotional experience for your reader or watcher

You need to transport the reader/watcher into the world you’ve created

Your goal as a writer is to elicit emotion in the reader

So how do we do that?

Michael went into a lot of detail about main characters, their outer motivations and their inner journey. I will cover more about that in my next few blog posts as there’s a lot to take in. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with another of my favourite quotes from the workshop

Stories are a participatory experience. People read novels not because it is interesting to see what happens, but as an emotional journey to experience for themselves.

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Coming out – Empowered and inspired by my first @RWAus conference #RWAus16 #amwriting #writers #emerging

Look out world – here I come!

Ain’t Love Grand was the best conference I’ve ever been to.

“Why?” I hear you ask.

I’ve been to conferences before – quite a few of them – I’ve even presented at some. History, Heritage, Architecture, Sustainability, Management – even Fossils. And there have been many with outstanding speakers, good networking, lots to learn and lots to think about. But for me, the recent RWAus conference was far more than just enlightening. It was transformational.

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I felt I changed on so many levels. Of course I learnt plenty of new info about writing and publishing. I also met lots of great people – and I think that’s where the transformation really set in. Because I’ve been a ‘closet novelist’ for years – have sat at home writing away, crafting stories, finishing books, self-publishing a few of them, building networks online and learning about the writing craft and the fraught world of publishing and marketing books, finding readers, etc, etc…. And have felt overwhelmed and alone, at times. Started to lose momentum and wonder whether I could continue existing as a writer in a parallel world that wasn’t really a reality… And then – BAM! – I meet dozens of other writers who are just like me, and suddenly it all becomes real.

So, some of the key things I learnt from attending the conference: –

  1. I am not alone. (That’s very reassuring.)
  2. Other writers are generous and inspiring – I already knew that, mostly, but now I really believe it
  3. Anything is possible, and you won’t know if you don’t try
  4. Writing is hard work and you need to treat it like a job. Take yourself seriously and give yourself permission to write.
  5. Don’t be ashamed of writing love stories – Love makes the world go round.
  6. And so much more that I’m going to need a few more blog posts to express it.

So now I am officially ‘OUT’ as a romance writer. I will tell any of my colleagues at work who are interested, and any of my friends and family. I will set myself writing goals and work towards them with gusto. I have made myself an electronic Calendar dedicated to all the work I need to do as ‘Emily Arden’. I am making this real, and I will succeed.

Stay tuned for some more posts on what I learnt from the conference, and may you achieve your dreams, or at least, always feel empowered to chase them.

 

Imposter syndrome #imposter #confidence #amwriting

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I love this picture of the fox. Who does he think he’s kidding. Really? Then again, it seems to be working… (at least for the moment)

Ever wonder if you’re good enough? Wake up and think that you’re just pretending to know what you’re doing and wondering when people will start to notice… This is normal – I’m guessing it happens to all of us at some time or other. And it’s OK. But it’s also important to try to get some perspective.

So let’s try to get it out of our system – check out the charts in the link below and see which ones resonate with you. Allow yourself to have a laugh, but then remember that these feelings are only a part of who we are. Sometimes we know more than we realise, and people see things in us that we don’t recognise. It is vital that we believe in ourselves and that we let people tell us what they see in us. They can’t all be liars and lunatics.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/kristinchirico/13-charts-that-will-make-total-sense-to-people-with-impostor#.suK8XLJmkE

 

 

My first year as a self-published author: Blogging #amwriting #blogging #indie #author

blog-wordleThis is the second in a series of posts about my first year as an indie author publishing and marketing my books… I’ll be analysing different parts of the journey and will let you know the things that worked and the things that proved a waste of time.

This post is all about blogging.

Learning about blogging has been a steep learning curve for me. I started by designing a very pretty Blogger blog in February 2013 and enthusiastically posted some posts about my writing journey. And what happened? Zilch – nada – not a thing. Everything I did just seemed to get lost in the ether – no followers, no likes, no comments… That was very disheartening. It wasn’t until the middle of 2014 that I decided to start again.

It was my teenage daughter who put me onto WordPress, and within a few days of starting the blog I already had a few followers. So that felt much better.

Here is my first blogpost

I knew what I wanted to blog about – my writing journey and all that I was learning along the way. I wanted to take people with me on that journey, to learn with me as I explored the world of writing, self-publishing, staying motivated and productive. I wrote about the things that seemed interesting or important to me in that journey. I also sometimes wrote about my books. I guess I am fairly modest so I have found it hard to promote my own work, it’s something I hope to do more of in 2016.

blogging-is-goodFinding some of the great writing blogs and following them was a great way to learn more about blogging and about my writer’s journey. There are so many inspiring writers out there, and best of all, writers tend to be extremely generous with their advice and information. They’ve all been there – unknown and unpublished. They know how hard it is to get started. That is very reassuring for those of us starting out. I have learnt so much from authors such as Joanna Penn and motivators such as James Clear. So much. Generally I would have to say that blogs are the best source of information about becoming an indie author that I have found. Because there is such a range of perspectives and info out there now – more than you can get from reading a book on the subject.

I decided that I was more attracted to blogposts with a picture than not, so I started to add a picture to every one of my posts. It seemed to help. I also learnt about adding hashtags to the title – that way they’ll come up in twitter searches (given all my blogposts are automatically sent as tweets). My daughter helped me to add feeds to the margin, and I am now pretty happy with how my blog is working.

The stats are still pretty modest, still, at least they are slowly growing. I have over 100 followers now and over 1,000 views. Something to build up more in 2016.

So in summary – what has worked?

  • Changing my blog platform from Blogger to WordPress
  • Be clear on what your blog is about. Who is the audience? What do you want to cover? In my case – it’s all about writing and being an indie author. There is so much to learn, and I want to share the best of what I discover.
  • Finding other inspiring bloggers to follow and learn from
  • Posting more often (where possible)
  • Re-blogging other great blogs and sharing the joy plus creating links with other bloggers
  • Commenting and interacting with bloggers and readers
  • Making sure every blog has a picture
  • Learning what works and what doesn’t from the stats (such as best days and times to publish, and most popular content)
  • Make sure you link your blog to other social media sites such as facebook and twitter so that every post is shared through each platform. A quick way to ensure you are posting regularly to all three places and reaching a wider audience (plus reducing effort – always important for busy authors!)

What hasn’t worked?

  • Using the ‘Blogger’ platform – don’t bother.
  • Blogging less frequently (you tend to fall off the radar if you blog less than once or twice a week)
  • Blog posts without pictures
  • Blogging at the wrong time of day (generally, thinking about US time is more useful than Australian time)
  • Not sure how well the feeds on my blog work? I have added quite a few (facebook, twitter, goodreads, etc) but haven’t seen much traffic between. Something to look into more in 2016…

What will I be concentrating on in 2016?

  • Scheduling regular posts – I’m hoping to aim for two per week, plus re-blogging other posts I find inspiring or helpful.
  • Linking my blog into my website – watch this space
  • Providing more info about my actual books. What is happening in my story at the moment? What motivates the characters? What motivates me? I did a few posts on this in 2015 and they were generally well received. I need to do more of them and stop being so self-effacing about my books!
  • Finding new ways of interacting with followers, such as competitions, feedback loops or inviting guest bloggers onto my blog
  • Running a series of posts exploring an interesting theme.

That’s enough to be going on with! If you have any comments or questions, I’d love to hear from you.

Want to be a whiz on google plus? #googleplus #socialmedia #writing #tips

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I found some of these tips really useful – just need to take some more time to implement them.

Great tips for making an impact on google plus (quoted from Author Marketing Experts)

Follow Trends:

To the degree that it fits your topic, try to comment or follow trending topics. You can find this by clicking the “Home” button and then going to “what’s hot”. This will show you what’s hot within your circles but also what’s trending on G+. If you can tie your message into one of these topics, it could be a good way to get noticed.

Hashtags Rule:

Hashtags are no longer just for Twitter. They are a great tool to pull in relevant audiences. Even better: got a trending topic, use the hashtag!

Tagging People/Brands:

I always recommend that you tag relevant people in your post. When brands and people are tagged, they get a G+ notification and this can lead to additional engagement.

Images are Key:

Using images (preferably full-sized) can really help your posts stand out. Thumbnails and smaller images don’t have as much pull so whenever possible, use full-sized ones.

Communities Rock:

Finding relevant communities is so important and it can help you pull in a larger audience, more engagement and better traffic to your G+ page. Find some great communities and contribute your expertise!

Here are a few to get you started: http://www.thesocialmediahat.com/article/best-google-communities

Advice for writers from Martin Amis #writing #amwriting #MartinAmis #author #writers #advice

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I recently came across some advice from Martin Amis and thought I’d write about what it meant to me. Some resonated, some, well, not so much. But then not everyone sees everything the same way. And I certainly appreciate advice from such a seasoned and intelligent writer.

Martin Amis’s Rules for Writers

Write in long-hand: when you scratch out a word, it still exists there on the page. On the computer, when you delete a word it disappears forever. This is important because usually your first instinct is the right one.

Sorry – not going to happen. There is so much I love about being able to type into a word processor. It is so easy to move ideas around, adapt and expand. And deleting words on the computer is not always the end – keep drafts (very easy to do) and use the backspace key if its a recent change…

Use any anxiety you have about your writing — or your life — as fuel: “Ambition and anxiety: that’s the writer’s life.”

Probably depends on what I am writing about…

Never say “sci-fi.” You’ll enrage purists. Call it SF.

Who cares? Surely that’s pretentious crap… Having said that, I don’t read or write sci-fi (although I used to when I was a kid, and always called it sci-fi)

Don’t dumb down: always write for your top five percent of readers.

Fair point – I try not to dumb down. I use long words when they seem appropriate and try to treat my readers as though they have some intelligence. (Which sadly does not always happen with romance).

Never pun your title, simpler is usually better: Lolita turns out to be a great title; couldn’t be simpler.

Not sure what he means? Anyone got any insights into this one?

Watch out for words that repeat too often.

Great tip – something I check for carefully and my editor usually picks up. Adding ‘favourite’ words into ‘find’ and ‘replace’ in word will also help.

Don’t start a paragraph with the same word as previous one. That goes doubly for sentences.

Yes – another excellent tip. This one is fairly easy to scan for. I have picked it up a few times lately.

Stay in the tense.

Very important. Fortunately this is something I m pretty strong on.

Inspect your “hads” to see if you really need them.

Tricky if you are writing in past tense. Definitely a good one to check out!

Never use “amongst.” “Among.” Never use “whilst.” Anyone who uses “whilst” is subliterate.

Yep – I try to avoid these, although I do see them from time to time. Subliterate is pretty strong though – I wouldn’t say that. Some people just aren’t taught these things..

Try not to write sentences that absolutely anyone could write.

Fine line between avoiding ‘sentences anyone could write’ and being fussy and pretentious… Just saying.

You write the book you want to read. That’s my rule.

That’s definitely my rule too. I like reading my books, even though I have to read them quite a few times… (Although sometimes it can get a bit wearying when on the sixth read-through!)

You have to have a huge appetite for solitude.

Indeed you do. Fortunately I like being alone and quiet for a few hours a day.

Thanks for the advice Martin 🙂