Summer is coming to an end. The nights are drawing in. Here’s a load of great things to read while the leaves start to turn.
The long breath (the two writing business models)
Aleksandr Voinov on playing the long game in writing and publishing.
There’s an expression in German that’s best translated as “the long breath” (der lange Atem). It means having stamina and patience and a great many other things that are useful on the “long distance running” part of our lives. For me, it encompasses mental, emotional and physical qualities. “Breath” is more evocative anyway than the abstract qualities of patience or stamina. One seems too etherial, the other too visceral. Breath is both – it’s spirit and movement and muscle. The way we control breath, we can control thought (just ask anybody practicing meditation).
Six Steps to Stronger Character Arcs in Romances
Jordan McCollum on the Romance University about improving characterisation in romance through better character arcs.
Relationship stories—romances, family dramas, “bromances,” buddy flicks, even sports movies—are all about building a relationship based on love (platonic, familial, romantic). There are lots and lots of ways to do this well, but this outline helps to not only make sure the internal journeys match up, but that they’re integral to the plot (no matter what the external plot is). Plus, it also helps to show that these people in this relationship are “right” for each other—possibly even “perfect.”
11 Things You Need to Immediately Stop Doing on Facebook
Daniel Zeevi compiles a list of 11 things you might be doing on Facebook to promo your writing and why they are misguided.
Are you getting tired of Facebook or some of the behavior of your friends on the site? Facebook is the most popular social network with over 1 billion active users. And with great popularity comes some shameful characters looking to tap into Facebook’s viral market to sell you their crappy products or scheme your money through affiliate links or worse.
So if you happen to find yourself doing any of the 11 following things, you should look to stop doing so immediately before all of your friends look to jump ship!
7 Reasons Why Social Media Isn’t Growing Your Fiction Readership (And What to Do About Them)
Jason Kong on The Book Designer asks are you really getting all the results you want from you social media efforts?
A waste of time.
That’s your conclusion after endless hours of updating and linking and sharing. Everyone says how great social media is, but for you, it’s fallen well short of expectations.
What NOT to Post When Marketing Your Book – 8 Common Mistakes to Avoid
Shelley Hitz helps you avoid missteps when marketing.
Here is another actual post I saw in a Facebook group… “I hope you’ll read mine book.”
Is anyone else cringing right now?
Stationery Love with Yasmin Selena Butt
Yasmin talks on Jera’s Jamboree blog about the wonders of notebooks and pens and suchlike.
God, I love stationery! You are reading a post by a woman who has kept a page-a-day diary for twenty odd years. I have a high shelf exclusively devoted to housing them. Many a happy hour has been spent in Paperchases across the land, perusing notebooks, hand-made paper, fancy pens and all manner of accoutrements. I’ve even framed wrapping paper on my wall if I’ve loved it enough. Great stationery is like art to me, to be celebrated and revered. TK Maxx with its one-off notebooks, and artisan boutiques for lovers of all things paper, are positively dangerous to this here’s starving artist bank balance.
Writing When You’re Under The Gun
Handsome Hansel on the Romance University blog about how to write when the deadline is Terrifyingly Close.
It’s not easy being a writer. You have to make stuff up, make people up, and sit on your rump for just-enough-tipsy hours on end attempting to translate the scenes in your head to words on paper.
7 Reasons Every Writer Needs to Be on Twitter
Marcy Kennedy on Kristen Lamb’s Warrior Writers blog about what writers can get out of being on Twitter.
Twitter often gets a bad rap by people who don’t understand it, misunderstand it as full of spam and celebrity stalkers, or don’t know how to use it to its full potential to build an author platform. When used correctly, though, Twitter can be one of the best tools for meeting new readers and increasing traffic to your blog. Not to mention it’s fun!
M/m romance vs well, it’s just a part of who they are
Anna Butler about the labelling of m/m romance and the expectations the label gives people.
The mistake I made with FlashWired, I think, was to classify it as a m/m romance. And really, it isn’t. It isn’t at all. The m/m romance label means there are certain things the reader expects. They want to see two (preferably hot and sexy) men having an instant attraction to each other, overcoming some obstacle to being together, having sizzling, steamy sex as often as possible, never being unfaithful from the instant they meet. And there absolutely must, must, must be a happy-after-ever ending where the heroes stand hand-in-hand and declare their everlasting passion. Bonus points if one of them has adopted his dead sibling’s child and they can create an instant family.
Sex Does NOT Sell…Not Really
Tina Donahue with an unusual argument for a writer of erotic romance.
As an author of erotic romance, the title of my piece might come as a surprise to the uninitiated. They’ll argue, ‘of course sex sells’. Sex has been an important and much-used marketing tool throughout the decades. Put a voluptuous model next to a new car at a trade show and an audience will gather. Use provocative photos—like Abercrombie & Fitch is prone to do—in advertisements, and a product will get noticed. Even the most naïve among us knows that.
However, will the underlying product satisfy?
What if m/m Romance Goes Mainstream?
Treva Harte on what might happen should M/M move out of its niche and go mainstream.
Things have changed enough in nine years that now m/m seems poised to go mainstream. I admit that even last year I had my doubts but mainstream publishing is looking for new material, just like e-publishing was when they took on m/m, and mainstream seems to be ready to gamble on m/m. We’ve seen big name authors write stories with two men as the protagonists and the trickle of m/m stories has begun into the mainstream market.
To Sequel or Not to Sequel?
K Z Snow on writing a series or a sequel.
So what do you do when the readers who really like it express an interest in seeing more of the characters and their world, even if you’d intended the story to be a stand-alone? Do you give those dear readers what they — and maybe you, as well — want, or do you adopt a more hard-nosed, objective approach?
How To Keep Up and Set Up A Blog
Alyssa Hubbard with some straightforward advice on blogging.
My last blog post was on why an author should have a blog, and now that we have a blog, it’s time to talk about how to keep up with it. I’m no expert, but I do know that when you have a blog it becomes your home base. It’s a constant representation of who you are both as a person and as a writer. Some would argue a blog’s importance, but in the end, if you have one, you might as well make it as representative of you as possible.
How to tell if something is true.
Sometimes just checking Snopes isn’t enough to figure out if something you read online is true or not. Grammar Girl goes through a case study of a grammar based scientific story she wasn’t sure was true or not.
If Only It Were True…
What a delicious story that would have been if it were true, and if you only read the headline, the first paragraph or two, and glanced at the rest, you could be forgiven for believing it was true. I first became aware of the article when it was forwarded to me by someone on Twitter who, indeed, thought it was real.
What to do when people hate your book.
Becca J Campbell on how writers can cope when some people don’t like their book.
Don’t take it personally. When readers criticize your book, realize that it’s not you they’re criticizing. Your story may feel like a part of you, since all stories are an extension of the author, but it’s vital to separate yourself from your work. A bad review of your book is not a bad review of you as a person. (Some really hateful reviewers may criticize you personally, but you must realize that that kind of lashing out is not only inappropriate in a book review, but also probably stems from their own personal issues.)
Things you’ll discover when you get published.
Hazel Osmond spills the beans about things you will learn after you become a published author.
1. You will become your own mad stalker. You start to watch the sales figures, hunt out review sites, google your book title, sift through feedback. You cannot enter a book shop without re-arranging your book so that it is somehow more prominent. This may involve shifting other writer’s work to one side. If Sharon Osbourne ever finds out she will kill me. Or send me something unspeakable in a box.
I hate strong female characters
Sophia McDougall in the New Statesman with a provocatively titled piece about how dropping in a token “strong female character” isn’t enough to fix the imbalance of interesting male and female characters in media.
Sherlock Holmes gets to be brilliant, solitary, abrasive, Bohemian, whimsical, brave, sad, manipulative, neurotic, vain, untidy, fastidious, artistic, courteous, rude, a polymath genius. Female characters get to be Strong.
Real girls, fake girls, everyone hates girls
Zoe Marriott on the impossible standards female characters are judged by, then hates for not living up to.
Now, leaving aside questions of who exactly decided that perfect characters with an element of wish-fulfilment are a deadly sin when they’re female, but A-OK when they’re James Bond, Jason Bourne, Captain America, Batman, Superman etc. etc. the use of the term Mary-Sue comes with an obvious assumption attached: if characters like this are simply unacceptable by definition, then there must be other types of characters out there that are OK. After all, not every single female character ever written can possibly be a Mary-Sue. Even the people who cling to the term Mary-Sue as if it was their long-lost twin would not dispute that.
Make Unbreakable Buy Links for Your Books
Kayelle Allen on how to use link shortening to keep your buy links short and snappy. Super useful!
Ever emailed someone a link for a book, and had them email back and tell you the link doesn’t work? Or maybe you posted it on a Yahoo group, and it ended up wrapping around the end of a line and breaking. Long links to websites can do the same thing.
Your Voice Is Your Passport: Deconstructing the Mysterious Thing Called Voice
Kat Cantrell at Romance University blog about Voice in writing.
But I do know a few truths about voice. Readers will forgive a multitude of writing sins if your voice is strong. Voice is the chocolate of your craft arsenal—readers will come back for more because it’s really, really good. And it’s your passport into the world of concepts like “auto-buy” and “bestseller.”
Trusting Our Instincts
Adrienne Giordano at Romance University blog on trusting that inner voice about what to do with a story and where it will fit best.
As writers, we constantly have to tap into our creative side. Let’s face it, the books don’t get written without us being creative. There’s nothing easy about writing a book, we all know that. And then when we type THE END there’s a moment of deep satisfaction that only a writer who has completed a book knows.
Five Ways to Describe Emotions Without Making Your Character Feel Too Self Aware
Janice Hardy at Romance University blog about how to make your characters emotions more vivid.
Emotions are critical to making a character feel real, but describing them from afar can sometimes leave a reader feeling a little disconnected from that character. The descriptions don’t feel like a character feeling but like the author telling the reader how the character feels.
In a distant third person or omniscient perspective it’s not as noticeable (we expect those POVs to be detached), but if the point of view is a tight third or first person? We risk losing that emotional connection with our reader.
Are You a “Real” Writer? Is This Even the Correct Question?
Kristen Lamb on what and who decides you are or are not a “real” writer and when to call BS on other people’s definitions.
Now, of course, there is the difference between a “professional writer” and a “published professional writer” and then even a “successful professional writer.” Yet, I assure you if you learn to view yourself first as a professional writer then making your way to the next two levels will come far faster. It’s why I loathe the term “aspiring writer” and encourage titles like “pre-published writer.” Aspiring Writer is fruity-tooty and gives permission for us to be hobbyists and dabblers.
Musings on being plagiarised: a 24 hour drama
Josephine Myles on being a victim of plagiarism.
They say pride comes before a fall, and on Tuesday I was blithely proclaiming to a friend that I thought my work was probably immune from online plagiarism as it was so distinctively quirky and British. Oh, how wrong I was.
Goodreads should come with a warning label. NOT FOR AUTHORS
JoAnne Kenrick on why she thinks Goodreads is not a place for authors.
Goodreads is not author friendly. Think of Goodreads as the sounding board for readers. It’s a READER site. Be there as a reader and be the good author and upload your books to stock the database, but don’t be chatting with your author hat on unless in an author-aimed group. You may not like what you hear.
Stop Criticizing Me!
R A Stephenson about coping with criticism, even when it’s apparently totally nuts…
I even received a one star review that was so over-the-top rude and obscene that I’m pretty sure the reviewer would have spat in my face if I was sitting in front of him while he typed the review. A little digging made it clear that 90% of his reviews were one-star indie hate. If I didn’t have thick skin, I might have cried.
The 7 Most Common Misconceptions About Science Fiction Publishing
io9 blog about common myths about science fiction publishing,several of which apply to publishing generally.
Gill says she sometimes gets annoyed at how many people believe that “editors and publishers are actively, malicious trying to keep people out or destroy their careers, when our careers depend on authors and titles be successful.”
Five Reasons to Love Science Fiction Romance
Why science fiction fans need to embrace the love.
Mainstream science fiction has no time for love, Doctor Jones. We’ll get 30 pages of almost fetishistic description of a spaceship but when it comes to relationships we get a terse, “They coupled.” That’s hot. In the hardest of hard science fiction, personal relationships are persona non grata. What if you could have a great science fiction story and a great love story at the same time?
And to finish with the funny…
How bad book covers happen: the sordid truth
Fun, but telling, post by editor and writer KJ Charles about the process that goes into making a book cover – and how it goes horribly wrong.
Needless to say, publishers, editors and cover designers want each cover to be a thing of beauty that will delight the author and sell enough copies to rebuild the Great Wall of China. A lot of work and passion goes into these. People really do try to get it right, and much of the time, they do. Nevertheless…