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!

michael-hague-keynotes-workshops-promo

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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Imposter syndrome #imposter #confidence #amwriting

FOX-1

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: Website #amwriting #website #problems #lessonslearned #authorwebsite

website download

This is the 3rd 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 MY WEBSITE.

Aargh! This is one of the hard bits. I know that it’s vital for authors to have a good website. The list of ‘must haves’ probably goes something like:

  1. write good books (including using good editors, cover designers and developing a great blurb)
  2. have a decent author website!
  3. find and engage with readers (a mailing list is the most important way to do this, also judicious social media)
  4. distribute your books in the right stores, formats, etc…

Why is a website so important? I hear you ask… Essentially, it’s a one-stop-shop of information about you, the author, and your books. If people such as readers, publishers and reviewers want to find out about you, that is the place they will probably look. It groundtruths your work, and the best bit is, you can control everything that’s on it.

So how did I go developing my website in 2015? Not all that well…

On the plus side, I have moderate technical skills, so I was able to set up my own basic website in weebly while I looked around for the right designer and design to take my site to the next level. When I said on facebook and twitter that I was looking for a website designer, I got approached by a few people, but none of them showed me examples of author websites, so I wasn’t convinced.

Then I bought a website review from fiverr, and I was so impressed with the analysis and insight provided by the reviewer that I decided to ask them for a proposal to build my new website. I liked their proposal a lot, and so I commissioned them to build the website. All went well at first and there were lots of promises, but the website was never finished and delivered. I waited for months, and now they – Quanta Webdesign (don’t use them!) – have neither refunded my deposit nor finished the job. Needless to say I’m very disappointed – not only have I been scammed, but I’ve lost a lot of time. Six months! I will chase up the scam, but in the meantime, I still need a website.

Another problem I’ve encountered is with my domain name. I bought ‘emilyarden.com’ a few years ago from CrazyDomains, and I also paid for DNS forwarding, which means it is supposed to forward to my weebly site or wherever I tell it to go. (Emails to emily@emilyarden.com are supposed to forward too). Unfortunately this often hasn’t been working properly and it usually just goes to a dead page. When I have rung CrazyDomains to get them to help sort it out, they make it sound as though it is fine at their end and must be my problem. But I know it doesn’t work from lots of different computers. So that’s another battle I need to sort out.

What have I learnt in 2015?

  • Be careful with web designers. Don’t pay up front unless you are SURE they can be trusted.
  • Be careful where you get your domain from – some don’t work very well. Probably best to buy a domain from your website buider/host rather than a random provider.
  • Weebly is a good free site for a basic Webdesign, although some aspects of design are a little clunky.
  • Find websites you like and that work well, and use that to inform what you want.
  • My new website will have great information about my books, links and feeds to my social media, latest news and deals, photos of some of the locations for my stories, and ‘call to action’ buttons for buying my books and joining my mailing list. (I may even set up a shopping cart – not sure about that yet)
  • Having a blog linked in to a website looks good and keeps current info flowing through the site. I will explore setting up my new website in wordpress so it can link seamlessly to my blog.

What am I looking forward to in 2016

  • 2016 will be the year that Emily Arden’s great new website will be published! Stay tuned…

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

how-to-use-google-plus-for-business

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

Can a romantic heroine be too old? #helenmirren #sexy #olderwomen #age #romance #amwriting #writing #book #inspiration #breakthemold

November 21, 2005: The press room at the 33rd Annual International Emmy Awards Gala held at the Hilton Hotel in New York City. Among those attending, Dame Helen Mirren. Credit: Dara Kushner/INFGoff.com     Ref: infusny-05

I say ‘no’! I don’t think a woman is ever too old to be attractive or worthy of love – it just depends on who’s looking and what they’re looking for. Couples who’ve been married for 40 plus years love the whole person, not some superficial picture of an ideal physical appearance. They love the way their beloved grows and changes, because they are changing with them. They can feel comfortable in their skin, fulfilled.

I want to help debunk the myth that only young women are sexy and worthy of romance. It is rubbish! A lot of this crap is peddled by the beauty industry, but the reality is that many women and men become more attractive as they get older (eg, Sean Connery – he might be a lot older than me, but the older Sean makes my toes curl in a way the younger actor never did).

Sean Connery media

And of course being interested in people is about so much more than just outward appearance, and what often attracts us goes well beyond smooth skin, a full head of hair and nubile bodies.

What do you find attractive? I like wisdom, humour, strength and kindness. I love to see people who feel sure of who they are and are interested in more than just themselves. Which means I often gravitate towards older people and find them interesting and attractive.

Cerebral matters aside, then there are the people who are just hot, no matter what their age. Take Helen Mirren – WOW! Nearly seventy in the picture below, and just gorgeous.

Helen Mirren has inspired my latest book ‘The Tangled Web’, which is about a 59 year old woman (yes, 59!) who is a romantic heroine with a difference. She’s not young and naive, youthful and nubile. But she is attractive, especially to Marcus Webster. So why shouldn’t she star in her own romance?

I have never read a romance before with a heroine older than 45, so I’ll be putting ‘The Tangled Web’ out there soon (probably for free). Hope you enjoy it! I’ll be fascinated to see the reaction. (And yes, older women can also enjoy sex – sometimes more than when they’re younger. Why the hell not?)

November 21, 2005: The press room at the 33rd Annual International Emmy Awards Gala held at the Hilton Hotel in New York City. Among those attending, Dame Helen Mirren. Credit: Dara Kushner/INFGoff.com     Ref: infusny-05

November 21, 2005: The press room at the 33rd Annual International Emmy Awards Gala held at the Hilton Hotel in New York City. Among those attending, Dame Helen Mirren.
Credit: Dara Kushner/INFGoff.com Ref: infusny-05

50145483 02-25-07 Hollywood, CA Helen Mirren at the 79th Annual Academy Awards Red Carpet, Kodak Theatre, Hollywood, CA... Non-Exclusive Pix by Flynet Pictures ©2007 818-307-4813  Nicolas 323-833-7042  Nicolas 323-974-6007  Jay 310-466-8617  Scott FameFlynet, Inc - Beverly Hills, CA, USA - +1 (818) 307-4813

50145483 02-25-07 Hollywood, CA
Helen Mirren at the 79th Annual Academy Awards Red Carpet, Kodak Theatre, Hollywood, CA…
Non-Exclusive Pix by Flynet Pictures ©2007
818-307-4813 Nicolas
323-833-7042 Nicolas
323-974-6007 Jay
310-466-8617 Scott FameFlynet, Inc – Beverly Hills, CA, USA – +1 (818) 307-4813