Meeting Your Online Blogging Friend In Real Life – The Key Stages #MondayBlogs #BloggingGals

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You can build some great connections online with other bloggers. With some blogging connections it can feel like you have found your online Best Friend Forever (BFF), even though you’ve never actually met face to face.

Meeting your online BFF in real life can get a little crazy.

As I have met most of my online blogging friends at blogging events, I have used this scenario – the blogging event (conference or awards ceremony) to show you the key stages.

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Author Interviews @JackieMBaldwin1 #WritersLife #author #CrimeWriter

Author Interviews-2

Welcome to my weekly blog series – Author Interviews.

These interviews give me the chance to interview some inspirational authors and glean some useful writing tips.

I am super excited as author Jackie Baldwin, Scottish crime writer and former criminal lawyer is sat on my red interview chair!

This interview is going to be special – I can feel it!


Hey Jackie, tell my readers about yourself and the book / books you have written…

Well, for most of my working life I have been a solicitor, specialising in criminal and family law which was enormously stressful at times. I later retrained as a hypnotherapist.

My debut novel, ‘Dead Man’s Prayer,’ is a police procedural set in my home town of Dumfries and featuring DI Frank Farrell, a former practising RC priest. A local priest, who was responsible for forcing Farrell out of the priesthood, is murdered. Separately, twin boys are abducted from a local nursery. The pressure is on as Farrell must delve into his own past to catch the murderer and solve the mystery behind the abductions before anyone else winds up dead.

When did you write your first book?

I started it with a blurb back in 2005.

How long did it take to write your first book?

A good few years as I have completed various drafts.

What was your motivation to write your first book?

I wanted to be a published author from the age of 7 but hadn’t done any writing at all until around 20 years ago when I started writing monologues and plays because those were the opportunities that presented locally. As for the book, I reached the stage where I felt it was now or never and made a start.

What writing issues did you encounter along the way and how did you overcome them?

I would say I have struggled with self- belief. Being published and having an editor that gets my work has helped me considerably with that.

Did you go through any bad writing patches during writing your book – what kept you going?

Yes, as indicated below, I stopped writing for 3 years. The reason I persisted with the book was because I had become attached to my characters and felt like it would be a kind of death for them never to exist outside my own head and be introduced to other people.

Are you a plotter or do you just write / see what happens?

I would say I’m a plotter because winging it would make me feel too insecure. My plotting isn’t set in stone, however. It probably mirrors my attitude to life. I am not a madly impulsive go with the flow person. I have to plan to be spontaneous!

What is the best thing about being a writer?

Hopefully, having people connect with my characters and the problems they face so that they become as real to others as they are to me.

What is the worst thing about being a writer?

Self- promotion is very hard for me. It is something I struggle with as I am far more comfortable cheerleading for someone else. However, I feel I owe it to my editor, who has had such belief in me, to raise my head above the parapet and do my best. Before all this happened I would describe my profile as low to horizontal. I remember walking down the aisle on my wedding day and all eyes swivelled to look at me. I was horrified!

Have you ever considered quitting writing, and if so how have you worked through this?

Yes, a number of times. You suddenly catch yourself thinking that the time slogging away at the computer could be put to better use doing something else. What is the point of all this hard work when no one is ever going to read it anyway? At one point I stopped for about three years. Work was demanding. When I wasn’t working, my priority was doing things with my kids. But, for me, writing is like an itch and the desire to scratch it again became overwhelming. I sound like I had a bad attack of hives. I went along to the first year of Crime and Publishment, an annual weekend of crime writing master-classes and came home fired up to do one more massive rewrite, which I finished just before X-mas.

What does a typical writing day look like for you?

Up until recently, I haven’t really had a typical writing day but I have to be a lot more disciplined now that I am writing my second DI Farrell novel. If it is a day where I am not seeing clients I get up early and go through to my study which also doubles as a consulting room therefore has a nice relaxed vibe. I throw on something comfy that can withstand enthusiastic contact with my two Retrievers and mentally superglue my bottom to the chair at my desk. I would love to say that my fingers fly over the keys of my laptop but I tend to work in fits and starts, like a car bumping along the road in the wrong gear.

Do you suffer from procrastination and if so how do you handle it?

Yes I do. If I am stuck on a thorny problem I procrastinate by making coffee and eating biscuits. I have discovered writing is terrible for the waistline! If it is an extremely thorny problem I run off to the garage and buy a large bag of sweets.

I actually love having deadlines because I think that I am programmed to respect these because of my previous background. In court work if you didn’t lodge something at court on or before 11a.m, for example, the sky would fall in!

Which is more important – plot or characters and why?

I think they are both incredibly important but for me, a story always starts with the arrival of a character rather than a plot in my head. My characters become real and it is like I overhear snatches of their conversation in my head. I would be so scared to say that to a psychiatrist!

What have been your 3 biggest learnings during your writing career?

  • Submit to every opportunity that you hear about.
  • If life gets too busy write little and often. It all mounts up. Consistency is key.
  • Never give up!

How do you manage social media as a writer?

I am on a huge learning curve with that right now. Before I got my publishing contract in mid- March I had never been on Twitter. I didn’t even post on my Facebook Page. I only interacted in one or two small closed groups. I didn’t have a Smartphone either until recently. I have a complete horror of accidentally being rude by failing to do something I don’t know that I’m meant to do. It took me ages to learn to retweet with a quote and share with a post. Doing anything on social media for the first time terrifies me. Really, we are talking rabbit caught in the headlights. I still haven’t got the whole copy a link thing and have to get help with that. I am really low tech yet love science fiction which is a bit of a paradox. On publication day, I was sitting in my dressing gown with all 3 devices pinging at me and totally panicking but I got on top of it. I was really overwhelmed by how lovely and generous people have been. I didn’t think it was possible to make friends online but I am already feeling that connection with some people I have regular contact with. It has been a revelation. This old dog is learning new tricks.

Do you have any tips or advice for budding aspiring authors?

  1. Bash through that first draft. Don’t edit as you go along. It can be polished later. Once you get all the way through the first draft you know you can go the distance and the editing can then begin.
  2. Do not give up. Commit to being in this writing game for the long haul. If you work hard and persevere you will be published.
  3. Once your book and synopsis are as good as they can be, try and let them go. You need to detach from them and start another book while the first book is being submitted. This is a case of do as I say and not as I do. I was incredibly fortunate in having my first novel published but I could have written at least another 3 books in the time I took with this one.
  4. As I am no spring chicken, I do not intend to make that mistake again. I will bury them in the garden to get closure, if necessary!
  5. Join a supportive writing group. Writing novels can be a lonely business. Not only does it make a world of difference to have a gang of writing pals to go to events with but everyone shares information about publishing opportunities.
  6. Start building an online presence. You have probably all done that already but, if you haven’t, take the plunge.

Do you suffer from writer’s block and if so how do you overcome?

I have done in the past but not so much now. I think the best way over that is to try a bit of wild writing where you take a pad of A4 paper, set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes and just write really fast without thinking about it until the timer goes off. You mustn’t think about what you are writing while you are doing it. It doesn’t matter in the slightest if it is incoherent drivel. The aim is to do it in a stream of consciousness way so that your internal critic/editor is switched off. The first time I experienced this at a writing group I had had a really bad day at work and when the timer went off I was shocked to discover I had written a really violent short story where someone was stabbed through the eye. It was not something I would consciously write.

Do you ever think of the next book whilst writing?

I think when you are writing a series character, you have to look ahead. However, now that I can’t tinker with this one anymore, it is as though my mind is more receptive again. I have a few different books simmering away on the stove.

What do you wear to write?

Usually something unspeakably horrible that I’d be black affronted to answer the door in.

If readers want to get in touch how do they contact you?

I am on Twitter @JackieMBaldwin1

I also have an author Facebook page (currently wildly out of control and needing some posts but I’m going to be sorting that out in the next couple of days)  at Jackie Baldwin Author.

Thank you Jackie – fab interview. 

Here are some things I am taking from this interview:

  • I loved how you became attached to one of your characters and felt like it would be a death for them to never exist outside your own head. 
  • I can relate to self promotion being  struggle. Sigh!
  • There is this wonderful sense of grit and determination from you, which comes across in this interview – this ‘never give up’ motto. Love it!
  • I can also relate to the urge to write being like an itch – yes yes yes!
  • Your writing tips for aspiring authors are really fab and deserve to be in own their blog post!

Thank you for sharing these answers with me and the readers of BlondeWriteMore. 

Good luck with the book and the blog tour!

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photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/79577679@N00/5448848999″>the chair in the attic</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

The Writer’s Facebook Break #MondayBlogs #writerslife #writer

The Writer's Facebook Break

This Writer Break can be time-consuming as there is so much to take in. Not only do you have the photo albums and Facebook (FB) posts of friends, family and distant acquaintances to have a good nose around, but you also have Writer FB Groups and other Author FB pages too. Yes this particular Writer’s Break can go on for some time but it can be both pleasurable and useful.

Let me explain!

There are 5 stages to this special writer break:

  1. Loss of Concentration. The writer starts to lose concentration. This can occur anytime during the creative process. Some writers will find their concentration wavers after a couple of solid hours of writing whilst other writers will struggle to reach eight minutes.
  2. Pre-Facebook Break Cuppa. A tell-tale sign that the writer is about to take a Facebook break will be their desire for a hot drink. To make the most out of a Writer’s Facebook Break the writer will want a fresh cup of tea or coffee in their hand. They cannot trawl Facebook whilst sipping a cold Latte! So, they will be seen shuffling off into the kitchen muttering stuff that you’d expect from a writer; word count targets, plot ideas and adverb issues.
  3. Preparations. After sitting back down at their writing desk with a mug of something warm and sweet they will prepare themselves for their Writer’s Facebook Break. Preparations mainly consist of justifying their writer FB break: it will ONLY last five minutes, the literary competition on FB needs to be checked out and the old writer favourite – literary agents / publishers expect writers to be all over FB like a rash. With a nod and a grin they dive into their Writer’s Facebook Break.
  4. Writer’s Facebook Break. The writer hasn’t surfaced from Facebook for sometime. Their neighbour’s restaurant meal photos (including pics of food from all five courses) proved very interesting, especially the one showing the impressive cheese board. In their FB news feed a family update on a relation’s divorce caught their eye; the party is a week Saturday. The writer then got caught up in their school friend’s holiday snaps. To their surprise their school friend, who they have not seen in person for twenty years, has just lost a shed load of weight from a cabbage only diet, is wearing a skimpy swimsuit and is now frolicking in the sea with someone ten years younger. They met this new love interest whilst using a new dating app. Gasp! Once the writer has got over the shock from seeing their old school friend looking like some glamorous celeb on a beach, the writer will ask themselves whether there is some novel fodder in these holiday snaps. The writer will quickly make some notes about putting their main character on a diet based around one vegetable and transforming them into a beach goddess mid-book. Facebook can be a treasure chest of creative inspiration for a writer. After liking and sharing some motivational quotes the writer checks their watch and groans. It is late in the day and they still haven’t moved onto FB literary stuff. With a writer eye roll they dive straight back into one of their Writer Facebook Groups and immediately pick up on another writer’s post about the same pesky grammar issue that they suffer from. This issue is also making this other writer seek comfort in half a bottle of red after a heavy editing session. Ten FB comments later, a red wine recommendation and a multitude of post likes the writer wipes away a layer of sweat from their brow.
  5. Post Writer’s Facebook Break. The writer yawns, stretches and closes down their equipment. They will shuffle away from their writing desk after another long day at the literary coalface. Their Writer’s Facebook Break proved very useful as they came up with a new storyline for their book and gained some handy tips on how to resolve an irritating grammar issue. Those literary agents and publishers will be proud!

Enjoy your Writer’s Facebook Breaks today readers!

Photo: Stocksnap

Similarities Between Stars & Writer Friends #writers #author

Similarities Between Stars &amp; Writer and Blogging Friends

Writer friends are special.

Here are some similarities between stars and writer friends:

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Tina’s Writer Diary – The Assistant #writers #comedy #Writer

 

 

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Monday

10.56 a.m. It is hard being a successful author. The thing that people don’t understand about my profession is that it is not just about writing stuff.

On Friday I had an emotional breakdown. I was so busy and everything got a bit too much for me. There was so much to do; post quotes on Facebook, tweet motivational stuff on Twitter, pin inspirational affirmations on Pinterest, take photos of a shaft of sunlight from the window, which was shooting across my empty writing desk, for Instagram, browse through all my newsfeeds and make myself endless cups of tea. Writing didn’t even make it onto my ‘to do list’.

Luckily Keith, my partner, phoned home during his lunch break and calmed me down. I was a sobbing mess. There were not enough hours in the day to do everything. It took him a good half hour and the promise of a Chinese takeaway later to get me to come to my senses.

We both came to the conclusion quite quickly that I need an assistant. Sometimes in life you are forced to turn to others for help. I am not afraid to put my hand up and say “I need another pair of hands to help me on Twitter!”

After a bowl of Chicken Soup (Keith’s suggestion, he says it works wonders for troubled souls) and a nap (my suggestion), I sat down and wrote out some ideas on my requirements for an assistant:

  • Cannot afford to pay an assistant so I am looking for someone to do it for free / for the love of literature.
  • Ideally I need someone who is good at tweeting, pinning, posting, browsing, taking photos, writing and who makes an amazing cup of tea.

When I ask the universe for something it delivers most of the time (obviously book sales are an outstanding action for the universe).

During Keith’s mother’s Coffee & Cake Morning yesterday an assistant materialised.

Pamela, Keith’s mother, likes to recruit people for all sorts of things; coffee mornings, cake baking and charity sponsored events. Keith always says that if Pamela decided to join an international terrorist group we would all be in trouble!

So, I was busy consuming a large piece of carrot cake, when Keith informed Pamela that I was looking for a volunteer to help me with my busy literary career.

Pamela certainly has her finger on the volunteer pulse. Without a second thought she turned to Beryl, rumoured to be enjoying the dating scene, to say “Beryl you clearly have time on your hands with all those trips to the seaside with that nice, rich gentleman with the flash sports car. Why don’t you give Tina some help?”  

Beryl made a face, involving a roll of the eyes and a twisted mouth. Pamela took that as a green light. I was struggling to swallow the huge piece of cake in my mouth and could not quiz Beryl on her social media skills.

Pamela kindly made the decision for me. Beryl is my new assistant.

I am currently waiting for Beryl to arrive.

11.09 a.m. Beryl and I are sat on the sofa running through roles and responsibilities.

As Beryl knows next to nothing about social media and has just admitted she won a writing competition, when she was a child, we have agreed that she will work on my book draft. I will take on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and general online browsing.

12.34 p.m. Starting to think I have got the bigger job as Twitter has gone crazy with the #amwritingbestseller hashtag. I can’t stop tweeting about ‘Beautiful and Kidnapped’.

Beryl on the other hand is giving my draft a leisurely read through to get a feel for where she can add value. I have not seen her tap out a single word.

1.05 p.m. I wish Beryl would hurry up and write some of my book. Twitter is hungry for my work.

1.34 p.m. I have gone into social media meltdown. Someone on Instagram liked my photo of the sunlight hitting the writing desk. I am currently frantically snapping away at an old rusty typewriter found in the garage. If readers see that I have an eye for arty shots they will flock to my political thriller on Amazon.

Beryl is still reading my draft.

“I am desperate for a cup of tea!” I exclaim, before wiping my sweaty brow and adorning the typewriter with colourful flowers.

“White with two sugars please Tina love!” coos Beryl, with a smile.

1.56 p.m. My assistant has been gazing longingly at Mr Thompson over the road, attending to his flowers.

“Beryl how are you getting on with my draft?” I ask.

“Still reading through!” murmurs Beryl, with her eyes fixed on Mr Thompson.

“Which part of my book are you up to?” I ask.

“Still reading the first chapter Tina love!” says Beryl, clearly distracted by the man across the street.

I can feel myself getting agitated.

Here am I slaving away over social media whilst my new  assistant seems desperate to nip across the road to help Mr Thompson prune his bushes. I am an author not a matchmaking service.

I am not sure whether Beryl is right for me. She doesn’t make cups of tea or helps me write my book.

14.09 p.m. Beryl has clocked off for the day. She apparently had some urgent business to attend to, which probably involved Mr Thompson.

I am laid on my sofa exhausted and in need of a nap.

As I said earlier it is tough being a successful author.

 

photo credit: Stocksnap

How Technology Has Changed a Writer’s Life #writers #writerslife

How Technology Has Changed Being a Writer

  1. Thanks to technology writers are now able to write in a number of formats; blogs, tweets, posts, electronic books etc.
  2. Technology allows the writer to get instant feedback from readers on their work and….all the world gets to see it at the same time. Yay! Not like back in the day where you would have received a handwritten letter from an unhappy reader pointing out all your writing issues in the comfort of your own home.
  3. Technology allows readers and writers to connect. E-books and E Readers make it possible for readers to access writers from around the world.
  4. Technology has removed a writer’s reliance on correction fluid (Tippex). With a laptop there is no need to reach for that little white brush and coat your paper in a white crust. Sigh!  Now you just press delete and smile.
  5. Technology means that you don’t have to spend hours at the library, knee deep in reference books and black & white photocopies. Now you just open up Google and away you go.
  6. Technology can be a distraction for the modern writer. Back in the day it was just you, your typewriter, correction fluid, dictionary and snazzy pencil case. Now it is you, your laptop, phone, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, emails and texts.
  7. Technology means a writer can communicate with other writers in a matter of seconds. There is no need to whip out the posh paper, pen a lengthy letter on how much your latest story sucks, stick it in an envelope, lick, apply soggy stamp, race to the end of the road, post and then wait two to three weeks for a response. Now you just tweet a couple of words, add in a hashtag, an emoji or two and wait for your writer friend to react.
  8. Technology means anyone can write a book. Self publishing also gives those writers rejected by publishers the chance to pursue their literary dreams.
  9. Technology means readers can share a writer’s work with their friends, social media following or online community. A writer’s work is no longer just distributed via a bookshop.
  10. Technology can bring added pressures and stress to a writer’s life. Social media prowess is now becoming a ‘must have’ skill for any writer.
  11. Technology brings writers to life. They are no longer the face in the photo at the back of the book. Through social media they can be brought to life and readers can get a feel for their life, their personality, beliefs, eating habits, exercise routine and fashion sense – sigh!
  12. Back in the day we didn’t have to worry about laptop chargers or issues with low batteries. You just sat down and wrote. Thanks to technology writers can now spend a good half hour before they write looking for their laptop / tablet charger.

If anyone would like to offer anymore thoughts please leave them in the comments box 🙂

Have a great day!

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/36381187@N02/8645021979″>Oggettini vintage #2</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

Mermaid Talk #comedy #mermaids #flashfiction

 

Mermaid Talk

Three mermaids swam to their usual rock meeting place, to discuss the highs and lows of mermaid life.

Before they climbed onto their individual rocks they went through their usual greeting ritual which consisted of squealing, air kissing and hugging. 

Once this was over they set about getting themselves into position for their daily update.

“I can’t believe what some mermaids are putting on social media these days!” exclaimed Tracey, climbing onto her rock. “No names mentioned” she said, glancing at her blonde haired mermaid friend, sat on the rock behind her.

“Oh yea I agree!” said Sharon, the brown haired mermaid, hauling herself onto her rock and taking out a shell encrusted phone.

“All these wild claims about saving handsome sailors from drowning are doing my aquatic head in!” exlaimed Tracey. “I have yet to come across a handsome sailor struggling in the water!”

“That’s because handsome sailors don’t view you as a hot looking mermaid!” piped up Melody, the blonde mermaid, sat on the rock behind Tracey. She was busy checking out her reflection, in a shell encrusted mirror. “Sailors only chuck themselves overboard and act like they are drowning for hot looking mermaids” she explained.

Tracey sighed loudly. “I don’t believe you Melody!” she snapped, turning around to face the blonde haired mermaid. “I wasn’t going to say anything but I think I need to tell you now. Your Facebook posts and Tweets from yesterday were pure fantasy!”

“It was true!’ shouted Melody. “A really cute sailor was drowning so I saved his life, took him onto the shore, kissed him like crazy and then tweeted about the whole experience, plus I wrote a lengthy Facebook post on it too!”

“Absolute rubbish Melody!” yelled Tracey, shaking her head in disapproval. “Cute sailors like the one you described on Facebook don’t exist and if by some miracle they do exist they don’t  fall into the water and require life saving!”

“Hang on – I never saw you rescue anyone yesterday Melody!” stated Sharon, head bent over her shell encrusted phone.

“That’s because you were too busy staring at THAT phone Sharon!” hissed Melody.

“Oh yea – good point!” laughed Sharon, with her eyes still fixed on her phone.

“I still don’t believe you Melody!” cried Tracey.  “I did a couple of dives yesterday and I never saw any cute sailors looking like they were about to drown!”

Whatever Mer-Friend!” snapped Melody rolling her eyes and flicking away her long blonde hair.

“It is not all about mermaid looks Melody!” argued Tracey, feeling her Mermaid tail heat up with anger.

Melody glared at Tracey. “Those handsome sailors are not going to chuck themselves into shark infested waters for any old girl!” she snapped. “The only thing that makes their daring deed worthwhile is to be rescued by some young aquatic beauty!”

Tracey shook her head. “I disagree, I think sailors are looking for a mermaid who they can have intellectual conversation with, once they are settled on the beach” she gushed, whilst stretching out her tail. “I cover a range of both interesting and intellectual conversation topics from international fishing politics to fine fish cuisine!” she announced.

Melody threw her head back and squealed with laughter. “Tracey honey – when those sailors are on that beach they do not want to hear about your favourite fish platter dishes!”

“I could talk to them on the beach” said Sharon, scrolling through something on her phone.

Tracey sighed, looked back at Sharon and whispered “I said intellectual conversation  Sharon!”

“Oh yea – good point!” exclaimed Sharon, tapping something into her phone.

“Tracey – you might be not getting any sailor action because you are an older  mermaid!” said Melody, checking her aquatic blue nail varnish.

“Don’t bring age into this Melody!” snapped Tracey.

“Yay! Aquatic Wi-Fi has just come back on! I am now on Twitter!”  announced Sharon, excitedly tapping stuff into her phone.

“What have you been doing then if  Wi-Fi has been down and you have not been on Twitter?” asked Melody, glaring at Sharon.

“Thinking about Twitter” said Sharon, still gawping at her shell encrusted phone.

“Mermaid life is floating by Sharon and you are spending all your time on Twitter!” said Melody.

“Oh yea!” replied Sharon engrossed with her phone.

“Give us a Twitter update then!” demanded Tracey.

“Those pesky mermaids from the other side of the island are claiming that a large boat full of handsome sailors is sailing through right now!” exclaimed Sharon, bobbing up and down excitedly on her rock.

“Liars!” snapped Tracey, raising her head to catch some sun.

“No sailor is going to fling himself into the water for one of those rough looking mermaids?” said Melody shaking her head.

“The sailors won’t get much intellectual conversation from those lot!” laughed Tracey.

“Right I am off, catch you later ladies!” Melody said, getting ready to dive into the water.

“Lovely to catch up with you Melody!” gushed Tracey, giving her friend a big smile.

“Yea – same time tomorrow Melody!” shouted Sharon, still glued to her phone.

“Take care Melody!” said Tracey, giving her friend a wave.

“Love ya!” called Melody, before flicking her diamond encrusted Mermaid tail and disappearing.

A good hour later and the two remaining mermaids; Tracey and Sharon, were still sat on their rocks.

“Melody’s just tweeted about the sailors, from the boat, on the other side of the island!” announced Sharon staring at her phone. “Listen to her tweet Tracey”

‘#cutesailors are #fighting for the chance to be #saved by #Melody #hotmermaid’

Tracey sighed. “As I said earlier Sharon, some mermaids, no names mentioned, are filling social media with utter rubbish!”

“Oh yea!” said Sharon, going back to her phone.

Sharon stopped tapping something on her phone and looked at Tracey. “Can’t you just give me a clue on who it is?” she asked looking puzzled.

 

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/33364333@N04/4979465160″>Daydream Island</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

 

5 Stages of a Writer Starting a New Form of Social Media #SundayBlogShare #writers

Writer Starting New Social Media

  1. The Buzz. Everyone you know is talking about this form of social media – which you are currently not using. They are like ‘wow – its crazy on here!’ and ‘this is where the literary party is at – woo woo!’  You try to shake them off by saying ‘I have enough forms of social media to manage thank you very much,  I might try it later in the year!’  They don’t listen to you and keep telling you about how great life is on [enter social media of your choice]. As well as listening to this excited chatter, every blog post, tweet or Facebook writing related post that you read is talking about this particular form of social media. It is like the entire online community is pointing you towards it. There is no escape from the buzz. Then you read a game changing literary article online or in a writing magazine which says something along the lines of ‘you must be on this form of social media for a literary agent to consider you’ – gasp! Those pesky literary agents are making you jump through social media hoops again – sigh!
  2. Assess Existing Forms of Social Media. This is the stage where you assess whether you can physically and mentally take on another form of social media. You will already be feeling that managing social media is becoming a juggling act what with posting, tweeting, pinning, tagging and hash tagging everything you write. During this stage you will find yourself doing the obligatory writer’s groan at the prospect of another form of social media to fiddle with. The trouble will be that you can’t get that article out of your head even though adding another form of social media to your literary plate makes you yawn and feel exhausted. In the end the literary agent threat wins and you decide that you might as well join this social media party. You tell yourself that your free writing time was eaten up a long time ago…by social media. Sigh!
  3. Profile Dilemma. As with any form of social media you go through the initial profile dilemma – how should I look in my photo? What should my bio say about me? If I go for this photo do I look like a serious writer or do I look like some crazy amateur? If I wear my hair like this – do you think it screams ‘creative person’ or ‘she is desperate for a book deal’?  In my bio – do I just say I like reading, writing and social media?  This is such a frustrating stage of that process. After getting sick and tired of photo editing yourself and not recognising the person staring back at you it goes live. Cue the obligatory ‘oh what the hell!’
  4. Initial sprint. You hit the ground running; following everyone under the sun, liking stuff and commenting on anything and everything. This is a period of intense activity and the coffee machine will not have seen so much coffee action from you in a long time. You start to attract some followers and some likes. It doesn’t feel like the party zone your writer friends made out it to be but maybe that’s down to your frazzled writer state. Sigh!
  5. Normality. This is the stage where things return to normality. For some writers this can happen quite quickly.  The excitement for this new form of social media wears off in a matter of days and you revert back to your writing. You will have noticed some advantages of being on this form of social media. There are some readers and book reviewers on there and maybe it won’t be so hard to maintain. It goes into your social media management system and is added to your list. Anything at the top of your social media list gets regular attention and the rest….when you are in the mood to play with or looking for an excuse not to write – sigh!

Have a fantastic day writers!

Photo: Shutterstock

Author Interviews Week 1 Helen Treharne @Tea_Talks #authors #writers

Author Interviews

As you will know from my post last week I am running a weekly feature on my blog, every Saturday, where i interview authors and find out a little bit more about the person behind the book.

So, Helen Treharne, welcome to my red chair! 

You are the first author to sit in it so just relax and enjoy this special moment in your literary career – sigh! 

Ok, if you are sitting comfortably I will begin. 

1. Tell me about yourself and the book / books you have written?

First of all, I was raised to be polite, so thank you for having me over today. I love following your blog so being asked to pop over for an interview is a real treat! 

For the benefit of those who don’t know me, I’m the creator of the “Sophie Morgan Vampire Series”, an urban fantasy series set primarily in Cardiff and the fictional town of Bethel. 

There are two books in the series, Relative Strangers being the first, and the sequel, Death in the Family. I’ve also self published a collection of short stories and flash fiction, as well as a collection of urban poetry intended as spoken word. I live in South Wales with my husband, new baby and two cats.

2. When did you write your first book?

I started writing Relative Strangers four years ago, having had a couple of false starts with other books. I initially self published it to see if anyone would actually buy it, although it wasn’t in the best of shape, but it got me noticed by US publisher Booktrope who signed the series in 2015. It has since been republished alongside the second book in February.

3. How long did it take to write your first book?

It took around two years which is shameful really! I dipped in and out and had long periods when I didn’t write at all and others when I took a break to freshen my perspective and to work on other projects. The end product looks very different to how it first started and that’s a good thing. Taking some time apart from your manuscript is important.

4. What was your motivation to write your first book?

Honestly? I just wanted to see if I could get 80,000 words down on paper. That sounds terribly self indulgent doesn’t it? I always wanted to be a writer as a child but like many adults, the grown up world of responsibilities soon came knocking and it never felt like it could be more than a folly.

The idea came at a time when I was beginning to reevaluate my career and what I wanted to do with my life. I was reading a book that said that you should try and do what you enjoyed doing as a child before the world “got at you.” I started writing a few bits here and there – a short story, a blog post, a few false starts or ideas for novels. Nothing really happened and then the concept for Relative Strangers hit me. Once I’d written a few pages, it just snowballed and I wouldn’t be defeated. I had to finish it. I can be a little obsessive in that respect. It certainly awakened something in me.

5. What writing issues did you encounter along the way and how did you overcome them?

Time. Time. Time. Like many emerging authors, juggling a “day job” and knuckling down to write can also be tough. With Relative Strangers I found that planning to write every day just wasn’t feasible so I would often spend a couple of days at a time on a writing binge, then nothing for days. Travelling with work was surprisingly helpful – I spent many evenings in a hotel room over my laptop because the TV didn’t work.

Another issue as an independent author was getting balanced critique. I self published Relative Strangers after several author friends looked at it and substantively it was in good shape but lots of errors and things I wasn’t happy with (in retrospect) slipped through. As a result, early reviews were mixed but it was a useful testing ground. Sites like Wattpad or your own blog can be a good way of getting feedback, plus beta-readers of course but that won’t deal with the detail.

When I wrote the sequel I employed a freelance editor and she was worth every single penny. I’m positive that if it wasn’t for her work on the second book, the series wouldn’t have been picked up by a publisher. I have been lucky enough to work with a fabulous editor with Booktrope who has made my work even better.

6. Did you go through any bad writing patches during writing your book – what kept you going?

I definitely did on Relative Strangers. Writing a novel was a whole new discipline and it’s unlike writing for competitions, blogs or short stories. Learning any new skill is tough and sometimes you want to quit. The biggest hurdle for me came after a bereavement in my close family and another major personal loss. I barely functioned most days so being creative in such a disciplined way was something I couldn’t commit to. I took some time out from my manuscript and starting penning flash fiction and short stories whenever I felt the mood. The result, Off the Bench: Fiction to Feed the Soul, is now available exclusively at Amazon for Kindle. It’s deeply personal but it helped me work through my emotions as well as continue to write.

7. Are you a plotter or do you just write / see what happens?

I’m not much of a plotter at the beginning. I generally have an idea of how a story will unfold and then I’ll write a detailed outlined – it’s a bit of a stream of consciousness but it works for me. I’ll then take some time out and go back, carve it up and drill down into it. That can be anything from adding more copious notes or writing the individual scenes on post it notes, sticking them on a wall and looking for anomalies, gaps and improvements. I’m currently working on the third book in the Sophie Morgan Series which has elements of a traditional mystery so I’m trying to be more disciplined with that.

8. What is the best thing about being a writer?

Sharing my characters. I’m very lucky that they already come quite well developed when they pop into my head but it can get very busy in there, so getting them down on paper and working to make them fully formed is wonderful. Seeing them brought to life on paper is so rewarding. It’s lovely when readers come back and tell you which is their favourite or how they’ve imagined them and they reflect your own thinking. Occasionally, I’m surprised though and that’s fun too. I always imagine Charles Ferrers, one of Sophie’s main adversaries, played by actor Mark Gatiss, although a close friend imagines Vigo Mortensen. It just goes to show you powerful the imagination is!

9. What is the worst thing about being a writer?

Return on your investment. Writers work phenomenally hard, but the market is flooded by books and it’s incredibly competitive. The majority of writers will only ever make a modest income from their writing and many will have to juggle writing with other jobs to make ends meet. It’s also very difficult to get noticed. Producing a wonderful piece of prose doesn’t guarantee anything and lots of talent remains unnoticed. Yes, success is down in most cases to good writing but timing, luck and what the market is interested in at any one time plays a huge part.

10. Have you ever considered quitting writing and if so how have you worked through this?

Only momentarily when I’ve fallen out of love with a project or life seems to get in the way. Then, I just take time out to work on a different project or allow myself a holiday. I did very little writing when I was pregnant as the logistics of sitting at a desk for prolonged periods and generally feeling “ick” didn’t make for a conducive environment. You just have to find other relevant things to keep you interested though – read lots, scribble ideas for future projects down, note down interesting dialogue you overhear or interesting places – it’s all fodder for writing down the line.

11. What does a typical writing day look like for you?

With a new baby, there is no typical day at the moment. Writing time is snatched here and there. I usually find some time in the morning or late at night when the baby is sleeping. Then there’s some furious typing for half and hour or so. In between that, I tend to be on my tablet or phone, noting ideas as they happen or fitting in some marketing activities or social media stuff.

12. Do you suffer from procrastination and if so how do you handle it?

Not really. Once I’ve got an idea or notion to do something I like to get it “out there.”

13. Which is more important – plot or characters and why?

Characters. Plot is just what happens to people or how people respond to things. Without characters you have nothing. No actin. No story. You need well crafted characters for the story to be believable.

14. What have been your 3 biggest learnings during your writing career?

For me, I can’t just sit down and write on demand. This surprised me as all “the books” will tell you to sit down and write something – anything – at a particular time every day or some such. For me, that doesn’t work. If I haven’t got something relevant to say, I’ll just end up on my Facebook author page or Twitter feed.

Writers aren’t that competitive with each other. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve come across some fairly unpleasant people on social media – one writer for example who hurled abuse at me for not following them – but that’s true in all walks of life. On the whole though, authors are incredibly supportive of each other. I’ve made some wonderful friends over the last few years. We’ve recommended each other to readers, worked together on marketing initiatives, checked in with each other to see how we are doing, provided advice, feedback…. you name it. Its’ a wonderful community. I suspect it’s because on the whole we all appreciate how much work it takes to be successful. If you can extend a hand to help someone up the ladder, why wouldn’t you?

Finally, the amount of marketing you have to do as an author. My professional background is primarily sales, business, marketing, communications but nothing can prepared me for the effort and nuance of marketing a book. Even when you have a publishing deal you must be prepared to do a large amount of the leg work yourself – from organizing PR events to running multiple social media platforms.

15. How do you manage social media as a writer?

I primarily use Facebook, Twitter and my website blog, although I’m also on most other platforms. I use Hootsuite for scheduling posts in advance where appropriate and for managing who I follow – I tend to have diverse interests so it’s useful to be able to go to one list or stream easily and see what’s going on with a particular group of people. I generally pop on for half an hour in the morning and half an hour in the evening to check messages, tweet and generally see what’s going on in the world. One piece of advice I would give if I may is that authors shouldn’t just follow other authors. While they are very often readers too, you need to engage with your target audience so make sure you’re in conversations or groups with your potential readers. You also need to be authentic – don’t just bang on about “buy my book” all the time – use social media as an actual person with genuine interests.

16. Do you have any tips or advice for budding aspiring authors?

Write for you. Stick at it. Listen to advice but write to a schedule a that suits you. Read a lot.

17. Do you suffer from writer’s block and if so how do you overcome?

Don’t hate me but no. I’ve been stuck on a project from time to time, and even bored (this can happen once you’re on the third round of editing), but I’m rarely stuck for an idea. If you’re stuck on a project, put it in a drawer and start something else – if after a break you’re still not “feeling it” then it may be a bad idea, an idea that needs a lot more work, or just not the right time. It sounds harsh but I honestly think it’s true.

18. Do you ever think of the next book whilst writing?

I’m always about two books ahead. I’m currently writing the third in the Sophie Morgan Vampire Series and I’ve an idea for a fourth, plus a paranormal mystery.

19. What do you wear to write?

Currently, pajamas covered in baby spit.

Thanks Helen – a great interview.

I have got some useful stuff from this interview:

  • Engaging with your book target audience on social media. Great tip. 
  • You come across as a ‘can do’ person and I admire your ‘get it out there’ approach with new ideas. I need to adopt this.
  • I love how you are already two books ahead. 
  • I am loving the writer look – pjs covered in baby spit. 

Many thanks Helen x  

Helen’s blog can be found here.

Helen is on Twitter here

Helen’s books are available here:

RS ecover

ditf ecover

Buy Relative Strangers here:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
iBooks
Waterstones

Buy the sequel, Death in the Family, here
Amazon
Barnes and Noble 
iBooks

Next week Kelsey Horton will be sitting in my red chair. 

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/79577679@N00/5448848999″>the chair in the attic</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

15 Reasons Why I Am Launching New Weekly Author Interview Blog Slot #writers #authors

  

Exciting times on my blog. Every Saturday going forward I am offering authors the chance to be interviewed by me (sigh!) and appear on my blog. 

The interview will be published on my blog as well as being tweeted, pinned and posted on social media.

I am also going to create a page on my blog and provide links to all the interviews that I do over time. 

This blog series will hopefully be of interest to others, share some best practices  and my ultimate goal is that a snippet of advice / insight shared in one of the interviews makes a difference to someone out there. 

Here are the reasons why I am doing this:

  1. I am an aspiring author and I want to learn from others. 
  2. I struggle with motivation and procrastination so I am interested to see how other writers handle these issues. 
  3. I am always looking to widen my reading list. 
  4. I suffer from doom and gloom writing days and I am curious to know how other writers work through these. 
  5. I want to know what motivates authors to write their book. Is it a childhood dream? Is it an idea that has not gone away? Is it the prospect of future fame and glory? Sigh!
  6. I am really interested in what typical writing days look like for other authors. 
  7. I have done a couple of posts on looking like a writer and what writers wear so I am looking to gain some author fashion insight from it.
  8. I am hoping doing a feature like this will help others.
  9. I am hoping this feature inspires me. I am currently languishing in the Writer’s Block part of town. Words are not my friends at the moment.
  10. I am hoping this blog gives some authors and their work some more exposure. It all helps! 
  11. Saturday mornings are great for coffee and blog post reading. 
  12. I am hoping it will grow my network of writers. 
  13. I have always wanted to interview people.
  14. I saw the photo of the red chair and old wall on Photopin and knew I had to come up with a regular feature with it included.
  15. I want my blog to help others as so many people have helped me. 

Next Saturday – I am hoping to go live with my first author interview. Eeeek! Fingers crossed some poor soul agrees to sit in my virtual red chair before then – sigh! 

If any of you authors want to be interviewed please get in touch. 

Have a fantastic day! 

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/79577679@N00/5448848999″>the chair in the attic</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;