Month: September 2017

Living As An Aspiring Author: Writer Self-Care

Living As An Aspiring Author: Writer Self-Care

The countdown has begun. I officially have twenty-two weeks and a day until my novel “The Pariah Child & the Ever-Giving Stone” releases. To sum it up, that’s five months and fifteen days. Needless to say, I am feeling the pressure and I am completely exhausted. All I really want to do is crawl into my bed and sleep through all the madness that is to come. Sadly, I do not have that luxury nor is my sleeping skill at that level (I’m still training).

Still, this got me thinking. Being a writer is a stressful job. Whether you write full-time, part-time or whenever you can manage to find the time, this is not a road for the faint of heart. However, like anyone, we writers sometimes need to take a break. We need to refuel our creative chi and show ourselves a little bit of that TLC. If you don’t, you’re likely to have a complete shutdown, hit writer’s block, have a general freak out or maybe all three.

With this in mind, I’ve come up with a short list detailing some of the ways I relax when the writer’s life just becomes too much.

First, sometimes you’re going to have to take a break from your writing. I know that sounds like terrible advice. You want to finish your novel. You want to publish it, so, the world can see your genius and you can finally kick your feet up and let the royalties pour in, right?

Well, not to be a downer but the publishing process is so much more than writing. Honestly, writing is just the first step among many. So, even though you think taking a short break from your work-in-progress is going to set you back by a lot, it won’t. After the writing, there’s the querying (if you’re taking the traditional route), the editing, the betas, the marketing, and etc. Therefore, it’s not as big a loss as you think.

Not to mention, that taking a break can make your writing better. Have you ever read anything you wrote when your mind was a cloudy mess? It’s not pretty, is it? So, this means step away from the keyboard and breathe. It makes your writing better when you can approach then manuscript with a clear head and it’s just good for your health. Stress attacks are not fun.

Another way to show your writing-self some TLC, is by watching inspirational movies. Specifically, inspirational movies related to writing or literature are really helpful. The reasoning behind this is pretty simple. It’s the same logic that makes us seek out inspirational quotes to read on all our social media. We need a reminder that there are those who came before us, struggled, and succeeded.

Personally, I am inclined toward the movies “Magic Beyond Words: The  J.K. Rowling Story” (it’s no longer available on Netflix sadly)  and “The Dead Poet’s Society.” If you know anything about J.K. Rowling, you’ll be familiar with her backstory and how she went from rags to riches. Seriously. The movie depicts her struggles with writing, as well as some of her more personal challenges in life. Every time I watch this movie, I get geared up to take on the world. Honestly, by the end of the movie, I feel so unstoppable and so moved. Highly recommended.

Now, “The Dead Poets Society” may be a bit of a shocker. I’m not sure if many will consider it inspirational and it does get pretty dark at several points. However, the movie is about comradery, love of writing and reading, it’s about the classics, and leaving an impression on the people you meet. Basically, I am a total fangirl for this movie and it’s one of the reasons I decided to pursue my dreams of writing. I want to inspire people the same way Mr. Keating (played by Robin Williams) inspired his students.

My third tip is to hang out with other writers. Of course, this one can be a bit challenging because when you hang out with other writers, you want to talk about writing. There’s nothing wrong with talking a bit of shop but here are some suggestions on what you could do instead.

  • Take a short writing trip to reconnect with your muses: Nothing inspires like travel my friends.
  • Book Conference: At his/her core, every writer is a lover of books.
  • Movie Night: Suggestions above.

Okay, here are my last two pieces of advice. They’re very simple. For some writer TLC, you need to go outside. Writing can sometimes be a very lonely job and you’re often cooped up indoors all day. As lame as it may sound, fresh air really will do you some good. And if you’re an introvert, you don’t necessarily have to go outside with people. Lone hikes are a great way to clear your mind.

Lastly, reading! Sometimes you write so much, you forget why you started writing in the first place: Because you love to read. ‘Nough said.

 

Now, it’s your turn. Tell me how you lovelies relax after a long day of writing? What writing/literary movies inspire you?

Author Highlight: Rebecca Rivard-Build a World That Readers Don’t Want to Leave

Author Highlight: Rebecca Rivard-Build a World That Readers Don’t Want to Leave

Paranormal and Fantasy Romance: Build a World That Readers Don’t Want to Leave

Hello, I’m Rebecca Rivard. First, I want to thank Natasha Lane for inviting me on her blog today! As a paranormal romance author, I create worlds with magical creatures like shifters, fae and vampires. I have books in two series—my own Fada Shapeshifter series and Michelle Fox’s Vampire Blood Courtesans series. When I started my Fada Shapeshifter series, I wanted my books to stand out in the crowded world of paranormal/fantasy romance. So, I set out to create a world that’s a little different—but that seems alive, real. To my delight, I succeeded, since readers often say they don’t want to leave my world. How do you build a fantasy world/paranormal world that readers want to visit again and again? Here are some tips.

1) Study your favorite fantasy/paranormal world(s).

Setting: Is the series set in the real world with magical elements such as Harry Potter (paranormal) or an imaginary world such as Faerie or Middle Earth (fantasy)? What is the geography and the socio-political system?

Magic: Note the rules for magic—and yes, your magic must have its own, consistent rules.

Origin story: A good fantasy world has its own origin story, one that affects the characters’ beliefs and actions. For example, the origin story may be celebrated with its own holiday.

I could go on, but for a thorough list of world building questions, check out this post by Patricia C. Wrede on the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America website: http://www.sfwa.org/2009/08/fantasy-worldbuilding-questions/

2)Give it a twist. Is everyone else writing fantasy worlds based on medieval times? Then create a fantasy world set in a different time; for example, 1920s steampunk, as my friend L. Penelope did in her Earthsinger Chronicles (coming in 2018 from St. Martin’s Press).

Are all the paranormal romance authors writing about wolf and cat shifters? Then write about dolphin and shark shifters, as I do in the first few novels of my Fada series.

Do most authors draw on Celtic mythology? Then draw on the rich mythological traditions of Greece, China or West Africa.

3)Don’t drown the reader in details. Details make your magical world come alive—but too many, and the story gets lost in the descriptions of how the world works. Strike a balance. Not sure how? Again, note how your favorite authors handle it.

4)Above all, the reader must believe in your world. You can make up your own rules—the sky’s the limit for fantasy—but within the world, the rules must be consistent. For example, if your werewolves only shift during the full moon, you can’t have them suddenly being able to shift at another time of the month.

Bonus tip: Keep a bible for your world. If you don’t have a series bible, start one. Now. You won’t be sorry. Mine lists characters’ names, descriptions, magical Gifts, relationships, etc. I also include photos of the character if available.

My series bible also includes powers and other information specific to that particular type of being. For example, my sun fae are glittery, fun-loving fae who take energy from the sun, while my night fae are vampire-like creatures who feed on dark emotions like anger or jealousy.

Some authors use a spreadsheet. Some authors assign colors to each book or type of character. I use tables in MS Word. Just choose a system that makes sense to you and that you can easily update.

My series bible is broken into different files for shifter clans, fae clans and humans. Add it all together and it’s approaching 80K words. That may sound like a lot, but most of it is descriptions or notes copied from the novels themselves. Having it organized into a series bible makes it much easier to search for the information.

Author Bio:

USA TODAY bestselling author Rebecca Rivard read way too many romances as a teenager, little realizing she was actually preparing for a career. She now spends her days with dark shifters, sexy fae and alpha vampires—which has to be the best job ever.

Rebecca’s books have twice been awarded the prestigious Crowned Review from InD’Tale Magazine, and her novel Tempting the Dryad (#3, Fada Shapeshifters) is a 2017 RONE Finalist. Her Vampire Blood Courtesans Romance, Ensnared, was a Night Owl Reviews Top Pick (5 stars). Her latest release is Saving Jace (#4, Fada Shapeshifters) which will be out on Sept. 25.

Contacts:

Newsletter: http://www.subscribepage.com/i6x3j1
Website: http://www.rebeccarivard.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RebeccaRivardRomance
GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13746124.Rebecca_Rivard
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rebecca.rivard/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/@rivardromance
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/rebecca-rivard 
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Rebecca-Rivard/e/B00VEVIHWC

 

Living As An Aspiring Author: Time Management Is Key

Living As An Aspiring Author: Time Management Is Key

Time management is probably a skill listed on every college graduates resume in the last three decades. It’s something we all have to do but we’re all not necessarily good at. For writers (aspiring, traditionally published, self-published, etc), being mediocre at managing your time isn’t really an option. I think this skill is even more crucial when you’re self-publishing but I’m going to try to speak generally here.

Currently, I’m planning for my novel “The Pariah Child & the Ever-Giving Stone” to come out in the next five to six months. This deadline essentially means that I’m in crunch time! And what I’ve realized since entering crunch time is that I’m already so far behind where I need to be. I seriously had no clue how many steps behind I was and now I’m racing to catch up.

My social media interaction isn’t where it needs to be, so, I’ve been really pushing it. I’ve outlined optimal posting times for my different accounts and have started planning specific content that needs to be posted. Additionally, I plan on hosting a blog tour and Facebook release party as part of my publication process. Oh, how lovely it would be if these things could magically plan themselves but sadly I still haven’t received my Hogwarts letter, so, I’m stuck handling things the muggle way.

Now, like any aspiring author I have to eat! So, that means I need to work. A few weeks ago, I did a video on my YouTube channel about the different ways aspiring authors can earn money. Since returning from visiting friends across the pond, I’ve been putting these resources to work. Sometimes I’ve applied to eight or more jobs on the freelance website I use, several on Wyzant and I’m hoping to get another request on Rover soon, too.

The good news is that my work’s paying off. I’ve found two steady freelance jobs that don’t take up too much of my writing time. However, when you’re in crunch time, you don’t really have any extra time to give. Each day is another step in my marketing strategy. I’ve set up monthly goals for myself that I check on regularly to complete. I’m still working with betas and am prepping myself to make the necessary edits. I’m also working on my second work-in-progress “The Woman in the Tree” which I’m planning to complete with the Chance Challenge writing challenge. Oh, and did I mention the outline for “The Pariah Child & the Ever-Giving Stone” sequel needs to get done?

Yeah, it’s pretty much a crap show right now. A pretty, bookish crap show but still a crap show. 🙂

Through all of this, two things have been keeping me together: (1) Self-care. Gotta know when enough is enough and when it’s time to take a breather. (2) Time management –hence the title–because my type A personality needs order to get things done. I have found the beauty in Google calendar; I have been re-energized by my new white board. I can’t even remember what life was like before my smart phone was synced to all my calendars and “to-do” lists.

And thought I’d like to think I’ll be able to let time management fall to the wayside once “The Pariah Child & the Ever-Giving Stone” (#PCEGS) is published, I now realize this is a never-ending journey. Sure, I’ll have more time to relax between novels but as an author who wants to one day live off her writing, my mind, your mind, always has to be on the next steps. Readers need to stay excited about your work and that’s done through social media meaning we need to be active on said social media. We need to constantly build connections with bloggers, reviewers, and booktubers. We need to always be writing, planning, and marketing.

So, this crazy train never stops and it’s usually bumpy but damn isn’t it fun. 🙂

If you want to follow me as I take up the writing challenge #ChanceChallenge, make sure to follow me on Twitter and Instagram. 50,000 words in one month? Can I do it?

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Essentials for Author Websites

Essentials for Author Websites

Essentials for Newbie Author Sites:

The saying  is “Don’t judge a book by its cover” yet we do. In that same sentiment, it would be great if readers didn’t judge authors by their websites (or lack thereof) but they do. Not to sound all preachy but an author’s site is the impression they give to the world. Like all social media, an author’s site is representative of the author. Unlike other social media, a website is more stagnant. It’s like the home base to all your branding. But why am I harping on about author’s websites?

Recently, after a lot of trial and error, as well as a lot of hair pulling, I’ve got my author website up and running properly. I’d like to say I feel happy at this moment but, honestly, I feel relief more than anything else.

While getting my site together I did a little research into what makes a “good author site.” I also looked at the sites of several successful authors I know and even reached out to one author because her site was so beautiful. Long story short, I’ve got some second-hand information, firsthand information and some lessons I’ve learned from my own mistakes.

After all that here are a few things I think all authors (aspiring, newbie or otherwise) should include on their website.

1. Books Page

The Books Page or tab on an author’s site lists all the books (stand alone or series) they’ve written and usually offers a short description with the cover. This page is essential because it lists everything you’ve ever written, including your old work that you aren’t currently promoting. If a reader falls in love with your fifth book and they check out your site, they’ll know you have other work available and may decide to purchase those books, as well.

Also, I think this page is a necessity even for aspiring authors. Why? Because you can list your works-in-progress here. Basically, it’s another form of promotion. If you’re marketing yourself like a boss on twitter and someone decides to check out your site, they’ll see all your WIPs (works in progress) and the name recognition will continue from there.

2. About Me

 Has anything ever been harder to write? The About Me section is equivalent to the “Tell me about yourself” question in a job interview. Initially, your mind goes totally blank and you probably stumble or stutter for a moment. Well, I did, at least.

Here are a few tips about this section. First, don’t put too much personal information in your response. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with saying you’re from (insert city name) but going into which neighborhood you live in or giving away too many landmarks can be dangerous. I mean, no one likes stalkers, right?

Okay, next. The About Me section should let visitors know what genres you write. Of course, your site as a whole should give insight into that but this section should make it very clear. You don’t have to list the genres but somewhere in your description it should be made apparent if you write Christian romance or horror.

Lastly, try to keep this section short while still telling you story (how you became interested in writing, why you write in your genres, etc) and make sure to intertwine some interesting facts about yourself in here, too or you can list additional facts at the bottom of the page. What’s your favorite ice cream flavor and why? What a silly habit did you have as a kid? I want to know.

You can check out my About Me here. As you’ll see, I kept the section pretty short and left any additional “fun facts” for the bottom

3. Contact Me Page

Initially, I didn’t understand why I needed a Contact Me page when I could just post my social media links. Then, I set up one and I realized how convenient these pages can be. First, they should be connected to your professional author email which makes messages easier to manage. Instead of getting a Facebook message, a Tweet, a message on Instagram and etc, all of the communications are coming via one channel.

Also, even though social media is supposed to be social, introverts use it, too (Yay, introverts!). So, some people may feel tweeting at you or tagging you in a Facebook post is too public. In these situations, Contact Me pages are problem solvers.

4. Banner

 A banner or cover image is going to be the first thing visitors see when they stop by your website. Whatever this image is it should be representative of you, your brand, your work, etc. Check out Terry Maggert’s website. He has a changing image but what matters here is that Terry writes fantasy and he’s known for having strong female characters. Every image in his slide, especially the first one is representative of these aspects of his writing.

My banner (which isn’t as nice as Terry’s) combines my two favorite colors that are also present throughout the site. Both the colors are dark and the font is a sort of Gothic-like script that speaks to the fact I write dark fantasy. Finally, the “Write your way through life” is a sort of tag I use on all my social media.

What’s great about banners is they don’t have to be fancy (just professional) and they can be done before you publish your first book. I’d check out Kim Chance’s site for a great example of a banner.

5. Photos

 Even if you don’t have cover images yet, you need photos on your site. Photos not only help break down the longer portions of text on your site but they let your visitors actually see you. What I mean is that photos make you more of a real person to readers, despite the computer or phone screen separating you. Does that make sense?

If you’re also an artist, you can include cover sketches on your Books Page. Just a thought.

With photos, the important thing to remember is that they’re clear, not too cluttered, have a good background and are symbolic of you. 🙂

 

What other questions do you peeps have about author sites? Better yet, what do you all think about my website? I’m always looking for feedback.

 

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