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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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…

Top 5 TV dramatizations based on a book for 2015

This year I watched some wonderful dramatizations of excellent books – some I’ve seen before, some that were new to me. Here are my 5 faves for 2015.

//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=emilyardencom-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B00G6HO368&asins=B00G6HO368&linkId=NH2TAIHXJU2TTMDV&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true“>Pride and Prejudice – 4 words: Colin Firth wet shirt!

//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=emilyardencom-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B000AYEL6U&asins=B000AYEL6U&linkId=QCESCBIMRL23FF2W&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true“>North and South – two words: Richard Armitage!

//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=emilyardencom-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B00RGQ4674&asins=B00RGQ4674&linkId=OS2DZLSFA6ZROQAA&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true“>Outlander – the most powerful new series of the year

//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=emilyardencom-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B01554YSAS&asins=B01554YSAS&linkId=3BDDD5CKZE2WDDQG&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true“>Call the midwife – Loved it!

//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=emilyardencom-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B00E1LT41K&asins=B00E1LT41K&linkId=E6HL7R2TAKZ5MNXP&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true“>The White Queen – beautiful production

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

Creating and marketing your box set #writing #book #boxset #marketing

box set 19337210

I definitely need to tap into the following advice when I set up my first box set. There are many articles out there that explain why box sets are a good idea and how to maximize their marketing potential. Here is one of the best:

Bookbub article

Do you have a box set currently available? Has that worked well for you? What are your best tips?

Which publishers sell most books for Indies? #writing #self-publishing #Indies #Amazon #publishing #books

Where-Should-You-Publish-1

This infographic says it all – Amazon are still the market leaders BY FAR when it comes to selling self-published books. So a great place to start. However, it is also worth getting your books out to the other publishers as well.

More info at this site:

http://publishingpush.com/blog/where-should-you-sell-your-books/?utm_source=Publishing+Push&utm_campaign=e02ba4fddb-2nd_April_Newsletter4_15_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_5b28791183-e02ba4fddb-91020689

Finding reviewers for newbie authors #books #writing #reviews #findingreviewers #bookreview #freebooks

write-a-review

I’m a newbie author. It’s not easy finding people to review your books when you’re just starting out, so I was delighted to discover Rosie Amber’s review website. No trick or gimmicks, Rosie has a panel of people who enjoy reading and are happy to share their reviews. One of her readers has written a review of my first book ‘Lover by Moonlight’ and it’s now published on Rosie’s site.

https://rosieamber.wordpress.com/2015/10/15/rosies-book-review-team-rbrt-lover-by-moonlight-by-emilyarden9-romance/

There are many other review sites as well – but watch out – some are more ‘ethical’ than others. Some people charge for writing a review and promise to give your book 5 stars. But surely the point of a review is to get an objective viewpoint?

The ideal is to find readers who enjoy your books so much that they are moved to leave a review, but that is not necessarily easy. The majority of readers do not write reviews. It’s going to be harder to get reviews when you are just starting out, but it should be come easier as you build up a following of loyal readers.

Goodreads should be a good site to find people who will not only read your books but also write a review. I know that I need to spend more time on Goodreads finding some more readers to read and review my books.

Given that I am just starting out, I will provide a free copy of my eBooks to anyone who would like to write a review. But that also poses it’s own problems, because I need to find a way to make that free copy available to them. There are technical aspects that need to be sorted – where can I place books for my reviewers to download but which will not be found by everyone else? What formats do people want?

I’m slowly working through these issues, which is why early reviews such as the one above are so precious to me. It shows that I am getting the hang of this self-publishing game.

And if you would be interested in a free review copy of any of my first series of sexy contemporary romances, (Lover by Moonlight, Lie to me, The Gemini Effect, or The Priest’s Seduction ) or indeed a pre-published review copy of the first in my new historical romance series Isabel’s Choice, please let me know. Reviews will help me to learn more about the reader’s perspective (and hone my writing style), as well as to let my readers know what to expect. And of course it’s a vital way to build credibility when trying to become established.