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.

 

My first year as a self-published author: Website #amwriting #website #problems #lessonslearned #authorwebsite

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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…

Writing a great blurb! #writing #amwriting #writers #blurb #description

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Check out this excellent advice from bryan cohen. All writers need to know how to shorten their work into a few succinct lines that will attract readers. Sometimes the shorter the harder – often takes a surprising amount of effort.

http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2015/09/14/book-sales-description-bryan-cohen/

Have you finished your book? Really? Here’s a checklist… #writing #novel #book #finishing

FinishLine

One of the hardest questions to answer when you are just starting out as an author and you have been struggling with your book for months/years is: “But how do I know when my book is ready?”

The answer is complicated. Firstly, it depends what you mean by ready. If you want something that is absolutely perfect and as good as it could be, then it will probably never be ready. Because I don’t think there is any such thing as ‘perfect’ when it comes to art. There are just different levels of quality, and some of it is in the eye of the beholder, and some of it comes down to the basics… Is it free of grammatical errors? Is it properly laid out? Does the story make sense? Does it engage the audience it is aiming for? Etc, etc.

I thought this checklist by Chris Robley was worth reading. Some important points to remember. I have been using this for my books, at least trying to! http://blog.bookbaby.com/2015/01/how-to-know-when-youre-done-writing-your-novel/

One of the ways I know that my book is finished is when I finally stop thinking about it and trying to add bits to the story. Sometimes you just know…

The editing and beta reading is also crucial. You need more than one set of eyes to look at it to get some perspective.

Good luck with finishing your books!

Tips for running a great author newsletter #writing #author #newsletter #mailinglist #JaneFriedman #email

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Once I have released my new website (mid July), I will be building my mailing list and planning the best way to connect with my readers through some sort of regular update (a ‘newsletter’).

I want to make it count – we are all too busy to waste time reading (and writing) material that is not really of interest, so I want to target the topics and types of information that will interest my readers. Which means being clear about what the newsletter will be providing from the time that people sign up. It is all interlinked.

So how can I plan the best content for my newsletter?

I found this Jane Friedman article both informative and inspiring. http://janefriedman.com/2015/06/09/email-newsletters-for-authors/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+JaneFriedman+%28Jane+Friedman%29

There is lots to think about.My favorite tips:

  • keep it short and punchy
  • be honest about what you are providing from word go
  • clear headings to make it easy to scan (if it is a longer newsletter)
  • keep your material personal and interesting. Bring in perspectives from your readers.
  • Consider whether you could provide some material in installments (perhaps a free story)

And as for using email to share information – I liked this quote:

“It’s easy to pigeonhole email as a very practical (even boring) communication, but it can be used as a creative publishing medium that’s easy to read, share, save, and later repurpose into something else.” (Jane Friedman)

I am looking forward to doing more of this!