Thursday, December 15, 2016

Christmas Craic-er

This is the last roundup for the year. 2016 has been a bit of a rollercoaster with world events. Hopefully 2017 will be more settled.

Last week the folks at the Future Book conference were looking forward to publishing in the future. This is a gathering of publishing industry movers and shakers who try to do some crystal ball gazing for planning. Porter Anderson writes about what issues were discussed and the way that the ‘book’ is making a comeback. An interesting read.

Kris Rusch talks about unexpectedly getting her rights back on some books and what that means for rejuvenating a series. This is a hot topic for authors who are often abandoned by their publishers in mid series. (All the reports I’ve read is that series traction is on Book 5 and publishers are bailing by Book 3 just when it gets interesting.)

Two great posts on the Killzone blog this week.
Larry Brooks on the Bestseller code- he examines that new book about how to make a bestseller and James Scott Bell on the Three Stooges of writing. Yes it is the Three Stooges!

Have you gone on a writing retreat? I go to a friend’s house twice a week to write. No internet...  no housework... no phonecalls... no distractions... It has been the best thing for my writing. Melanie Bishop writes about going away for long writing retreats and what happens to your brain, your soul and your writing.

Kelly McClymer talks about how and why you should be protecting your writing time. Sometimes it’s really hard. (This is why I leave the house... I dream of a little office every time I do the laundry.)

In The Craft Section,

Planning Character arcs- Mythcreants. This is a fascinating look at how to strengthen your characters. Bookmark

Rival Archetypes for your novel –Who’s the best antagonist for your protagonist C S Lakin- Bookmark

Writing while traveling- best tips- If you are traveling this Christmas break- Do some writing on the side.

Developing themes in the inciting incident- Excellent discussion by Sara Letourneau- Bookmark

10 ways to write better plots- Now Novel- Bookmark. Also 50 Creative Writing prompts- Bookmark and Print out!

How to make readers deeply connect with your character –Jeff Gerke (Hijack their emotions!)

In The Marketing Section,

Bookmark the Subscriber Newsletters Report by Virginia King on Molly Greene’s site. Virginia studied author newsletters in depth and found out what works and what doesn’t.

Writers Win has a great roundup of Author Cross Promotion ideas – Get a group together and have fun! Bookmark

Tara Spaldings Book Title generator- for that Christmas writer game that just might generate plot ideas.

Joanna Penn talks to J Daniel Sawyer on audiobook rights. If you thought there was only one right to exploit... think again... and they talk about how overseas authors can get into ACX. (yay!!)

To Finish,
Janice Hardy and Jami Gold are two smart cookies and they have blogs with EXCELLENT writing advice. This week Janice posted a great blog about ways to fight the end of year writing fatigue.

Jami has an exhaustive list of great writer gifts. I’ve got some great inspirations from this list to give myself... and others. Check it out!

I wish you a Happy and Festive Christmas Break... with lashings of plot ideas and laughter and friendship.

I’ll be back halfway through January 2017.

This year's christmas video. Enjoy! 

Merry Christmas,


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Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Writers Enemy

This week I have been noticing the adult takeover of the children’s book world. First it was colouring in books – for adults and now book publisher Workman is following this up with sticker books and other childhood past times aimed at adults. Is this a blurring of the ages or a cynical ploy to keep publishers afloat? Children’s books have not taken the print hit that adult books have taken. Hodder must be rubbing its hands at the foresight to trademark Enid Blyton’s name as Joanna Penn mentions in this great article on intellectual property. How many adults will be receiving a new Enid Blyton book for Christmas this year?

Children’s writers have been discussing ways they can help children come to terms with the next four years in US politics. As other writers have pointed out now is the time to write inspirational stories to foster hope. 18 children’s writers look at writing girl characters.

Anne R Allen has written a cracker of a post on writer’s enemies. You know the ones who slyly put you down or criticize you. Sometimes they can be in your own head. Anne gives advice on how to recognise them and deal with them.

December is when your thoughts turn to the big edit of your NaNoWriMo novel. Roz Morris suggests putting it away until after Christmas... for very good reasons.

Dean Wesley Smith has a great article on writing for yourself- Artistic choice and making money.

Donald Maass is a contributor to Writer Unboxed as well as being a respected agent and writing coach. This week he wrote about aiming to answer the big questions in your writing. Putting your purpose on the page is one of those stand out posts that make you reframe your thinking around writing. A must read. (As are the comments.)

In The Craft Section,

How to punch up your action scenes- Janice Hardy- Bookmark

Your never ending writing improvement program- James Scott Bell- Bookmark ( I have this writing book and it is a little gem!)

In The Marketing Section,

Print pricing piracy- The Book Designer-Must Read

What is a hybrid publisher- Jane Friedman-Bookmark

To Finish,

It wouldn’t be December without a host of ideas for writerly gifts. I spent a long time in front of journal and pen displays today before finding a great writerly gift for my Christmas draw. So if you need some inspiration check out this list from Ava Jae and if the writer has everything... this list from Bookriot.
The last Writers Island podcast is up for the year. Click on the pic in the sidebar.
The last newsletter for the year will be going out this weekend. My To Do list is getting long. Ahh the joys of Christmas, the end of the school year and summer in the Southern Hemisphere.


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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Backwards and Forwards

This week I was sitting in a radio sound booth talking about what’s been happening in publishing over the year and it struck me that the same themes were being revisited.

Playing Nicely With Others.- That means...
No engaging with bad reviewers.
Treat ALL Social Media as searchable.
(this includes private messages and emails!)
Pay the writer/illustrator for their time. (Festivals and visits)

Research Everything.- That means...
Contracts- every clause!
Offers of publishing- (Know what you are getting into.)
Agents and competitions (The scams out there are amazing!)

Publishing is leveling out. That means...
Most publishers have either amalgamated or disappeared or are leaner.
Many authors are now hybrid. (mix of Trad and Indie publishing)

Kristine Rusch put together a nice post on writing what you want to write, this week -Following on from Thanksgiving.

Jane Friedman also asks Do you know what you are capable of? These are great food for thought posts going into the Christmas season.

Several writers I follow have Patreon accounts. An age old idea with a new twist. If you have ever wondered what they are about check out this article.

Book reviews – A new kid on the block is quietly changing children’s publishing in the UK and it is... a kid with a book review site.

Now that NaNoWriMo is finished.... December is NaNoEditMo and agents hate January because then those novels are sent out. Are you following all the right steps before you hit publish?

What is in every bestselling book? Sarah Juckes took a look and came up with 10 must haves.

Dan Blank asks What do Publishers and agents want from authors? and the first thing is... that they know who their audience is and where to find them. This is an interesting Writer Unboxed article. Rachelle Gardner backs this up with a very detailed article about publishing readiness

Jane Friedman has a great guest post from Paula Munier on the importance of the first scene and what you should put into it. Lots of food for thought.

In The Craft Sectioon,

How to write scene outlines- KM Weiland – Bookmark

Red flags in editing- Meg Latorre Snyder- Bookmark

Deconstructing a Romance Novel-Tina Radcliffe- Bookmark

Rhythm and Pacing-Jennie Nash- Bookmark

Agent Janet Reid on Plotting

The emotional pinch point- Ann Greenwood Brown -Bookmark

In The Marketing Section,

9 tips for your book launch- Frances Caballo- Bookmark

To Finish,

December has crept up and pounced. The annual complaint of why do we have Northern Hemisphere snow songs when it’s climbing past 25 degrees in the shade is being heard. (Ronan Keating finds this out)
Thoughts turn to Writer Christmas presents. (You can never have too many pens...)  and what the writer might like to receive.


I’m having a Christmas draw for my Newsletter subscribers soon. If you want to catch up on the best of my bookmarked links every month make sure you subscribe.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Planning For Chocolate

Last week my theme was contingency planning... and knowing where the chocolate is. This week planning is still a hot topic.

Jane Friedman has a great article on checklists for authors... it’s comprehensive and covers everything you can think of and a few things you may not have thought of. Jane also has a great article on editorial control. Who has it (at what stage) and How to keep it.

Kristen Lamb has also been thinking about planning but in a different way. Do you protect yourself as a writer? She has an excellent post on ways to protect your muse and it starts by getting rid of toxic time wasters...(sometimes known as relations.)

Porter Anderson exhorts writers to think of the pain readers are in and to commit to telling great stories for them. In times of great trouble and upheaval writers can touch others by their words and ideas.

Jan O’Hara talks about exploiting your own vulnerabilities to complete your book by viewing your strengths and weakness’ in a different way. It is a shift in perception that opens up a new way of working.  A very interesting article.

Joanna Penn has a fabulous interview with Gabriela Pereira of DIYMA. This is a MUST watch/ Listen/ Read on creating your own course of study to up-skill your writing. (Your own M.A. in writing.) Gabriela has a huge library of articles and ideas as well as a very involved community.

Continuing our education up-skilling, Lindsay Buroker and the chaps at SFF Marketing podcast were talking to Tom Corson-Knowles about Amazon Ad marketing, email campaigns and effective social media. This is a masters level course in targeted marketing. Absolutely riveting stuff and a Must Watch also.

The Alliance of Independent Authors has some great resources and recently they had two standout posts.  A Kiwi author talks about marketing using Instafreebie  and the other post is on the right combination of CreateSpace and Ingram for Print On Demand books.

About five years ago I talked about Book Espresso machines. This is a book printer machine that sits inside a bookshop. Publishers Weekly recently took a look at what bookshops are doing with them. From becoming publishers to vital links in the community.

Forming communities of like minded writing buddies and doing something wonderful has long been a hobbyhorse of mine. Whether it’s to exploit Instafreebie or growing your email list or group marketing your books or producing an Annual. There is  power in harnessing collective creative brains.

In The Craft Section,

30 Minutes 30 Days- The WriteLife- Bookmark

Middle of NANO pep talk from Maggie Stiefvater

Stupid Writing Rules- Anne R Allen- Bookmark

How to write Story Descriptions- Karen Woodward- Bookmark

How to write backstory- NowNovel- Bookmark

In The Marketing Section,

5 Bookbinding styles- The Book Designer

Do This Not That- Book Promotion (November Edition)- The Book Designer

Blogging got you down? Try this- Frances Caballo - Bookmark

To Finish,

Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Rusch are a powerhouse couple for clear eyed advice in publishing. There is nothing that they have not done in their publishing lives. This week Dean talks about writing what you want to write and how to look at the long game in publishing. Kris talks about running a writing business in a time of uncertainty and how to plan for this.

We are still getting after shocks from last weeks earthquake. Every day brings news of another building being evacuated. We sat down and did some planning and now our Go Bag is packed by the door. I know where I’ve stashed a supply of chocolate.... 


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Thursday, November 17, 2016

Contingency Planning

This week New Zealand was rocked by a 7.8 earthquake. As luck would have it, it struck two minutes after midnight on Monday morning. After we picked ourselves up we spent the night on a hill waiting for the Tsunami.
New Zealand is known as the shaky isles and we have had our fair share of big earthquakes recently. In the back of our mind we think we are prepared for just such an emergency. But when you are sitting on the side of a hill in the middle of the night waiting for the all clear it occurs to you that better planning would have meant you ate chocolate instead of the cough drops from the bottom of your coat pocket.

In publishing this week Roz Morris has been on a panel lately looking at the convergence of Self Publishing and Traditional Publishing. Roz wrote a great article looking at the spectrum of publishing.
(Read the comments.)

Publishers Weekly has an article on Horror Writers and the growing rise of Self Publishing in that genre.

This week Amazon allowed paid advertising on for ebooks. Previously you had to jump through several hoops and make sacrifices but now it seems straight forward.

Publishing Perspectives has an interesting article on the Danish Book Fair. They like to mix it up and this year had some interesting new things. They must be on to a good thing as they break records for attendence.

Lawyer and Author Susan Spann does a great Wednesday Pub Law tweet stream. This week she has been looking at spreadsheets and author finances. While we are on things legal take a look at copyright rules for settings

Keeping one eye on children’s publishing trends. Reedsy talked with an illustrator from Finland who had an idea... and went looking for a writer... and then Kickstarted a business.
If you are hankering to write your own children’s book, Writer Unboxed has a good article on the midgrade voice.

In The Craft Section,

What is the theme?- Writingforward

What is head hopping?- Bryn Donovan

10 keys to plot structure-Michael Hauge- Bookmark

Using multiple Points Of View- Jane Friedman- Bookmark

In The Marketing Section,

Fiction email lists- Joanna Penn- Bookmark

To Finish

Is your plan for success I just want to write my books? Judith Briles wrote a kick in the pants article for The Book Designer today. In this modern time of publishing it is not enough to just write your books. You need to plan before, during and after the book.
And this is true for Earthquakes and other natural disasters....
Always know where the chocolate is!


If you want a handy collection of the best of my bookmarked links and other interesting items click here to subscribe!

Pic from  Kaikoura Coast near the epicentre of the earthquake. - TVNZ

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Masks We Wear

This has been a topsy turvey old week. Chuck Wendig has written a very thoughtful post on what it means to be a writer and how writers can process the momentous event that happened this week.

Sarah Stonichava-Finch has an interesting article on embracing a pen name and an alter ego. If you ever wanted to live a different life, read this.

Reedsy looks at the rise of Literary Fiction Self Publishing. I often remind people that Literary Fiction is a genre. It has its stars just like Crime or Romance. It is building a niche in self publishing.

Jami Gold has written an excellent post on whether stories should be set in stone once they are published. If you have ever looked at a glaring error in a book and wished to fix it – should you?

Anne R Allen has an excellent post on things new writers can do right now if they want that dream writing career.

Nina Amir has a guest post on Jane Friedman’s blog on how to set achievable and meaningful goals. Yes, NaNoWriMo is still going on. The world is still turning.

Emily Harstone of Authors Publish has written an interesting article on the 8 trends she has seen in publishing this year. A couple of things surprised me.

In The Craft Section,

Red flags in Editing- Meg Latorre-Snyder

Two ways to use misdirection- Roz Morris-Bookmark

How to nail your inciting incident- Pamela Hodges-Bookmark

Mastering stylistic tension- September Fawkes-Bookmark

Creating powerful images- C S Lakin - Bookmark

In The Marketing Section,

When your book isn’t selling-Penny Sansevieri- Bookmark

50 ways to kickstart publicity- Molly Greene - Bookmark

To Finish,

The election this week highlighted archetypes and caricatures. Many believed that the voting public would see through the buffoonery to the straw man beneath and so they did not prepare for the unthinkable result. There are positive archetypes to identify with. Paul Minors has 8 productivity archetypes that might help you find a way to turn dross into gold.



It’s nearly time to send out my monthly newsletter. If you want a handy collection of the best of my bookmarked links and other interesting items click here to subscribe!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Writing Inspiration

It’s that month loved and feared by many writers around the world. The month where writers start writing with great intentions and at the end of the first week start gibbering.
If you are head down into NaNoWriMo I have some great craft and inspiration articles for you. 
If you are not doing NaNoWriMo I have some great inspiration and craft articles for you.
First up you need a pep talk from Mr Chuck Wendig. Then you will be ready to hit the creative sandbox (or possibly plant your face in the sandbox.)

Jami Gold has a stellar post on how to make NaNo work for you. This is a great post and works for every writer not just for November. What are the goals you set for yourself?

Meanwhile out beyond the NaNoSphere the publishing world was back to normal.
Publishing Perspectives reported on the Nielson kids summit- What are the challenges in Children’s publishing and what’s next on the horizon?

PubCrawl has an interesting article on the non compete clause in contracts. Oh the tricky wording and what it  all means.

Catherine Ryan Howard talks about being a hybrid author now and what’s best about both worlds.

Nathan Bransford talks about personalised queries. Sometimes too personal can be too much.

Ginger Moran talks about what to do when you have trouble getting your book written. Some self care may be required.

In The Craft Section,

NaNo Planning in 15 minutes – Jennifer Blanchard

Writing great blurbs- Ali Luke- Bookmark

Understanding inner conflict – Michael Huge- Bookmark

Making every word count- Jane Friedman

Bringing dialogue to life- Ruth Harris - Bookmark

In The Marketing Section,

Book Marketing checklist-Tim Grahl- Bookmark

A business mindset- Orna Ross- Bookmark

When to start marketing- Penny Sansevieri

To Finish,

Every year around this time writing craft books get promoted. There are always good sales. I have picked up some great writing craft books in NaNoWriMo StoryBundles. This year has a great selection. Kris Rusch’s contract book with all that contract info I’ve been sharing this year is in the bundle along with some other familiar names. And it’s a great price. There are even sites that have free writing craft books.
November is also NaNoReadMo - where you promote reading and sharing great books.
Give yourself a NaNoWri Present and grab a writing craft book or a bundle of them.


It’s nearly time to send out my monthly newsletter. If you want a handy collection of the best of my bookmarked links and other interesting items click here to subscribe! 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Who Do You Write For?

As I look over my Twitter feed this week I have the distinct impression that many writers will be hitting NaNoWriMo with relief to get away from the media storms over the US Presidential elections. Vote Early and switch off all media to write the novel.
Kris Rusch has a nice comment on the value of writing fiction when the world is in turmoil.

This week Amazon changed a few rules on publishing ebooks. The Digital Reader has a link with all the new hoops you have to jump through.

Joanna Penn has an interview with Chris Fox on using data science to sell books. This is a fascinating interview because once you identify your ideal reader, data science can help you market your book without you doing any work.

Looking after your international audience is the subject of Elizabeth S Craig’s blog post and it is full of ideas for marketing across all the different countries Amazon has presence. She also goes into great detail on Print distribution.

Chris Syme has a guest post on Jane Friedman’s blog about running short Social Media campaigns to market your book. This comprehensive article is an excerpt from Chris Syme’s new book.

Shannon Gibney has penned a thoughtful article - 7 things I have learned so far as a writer. This is a great roundup of advice... always say yes if you can... be prepared and deadlines are your friend. Shannon also explains why.

What happens when you get Book Apathy? How do you overcome it? Is something wrong with you or the book? Ginny Carter has an interesting article on remedies for this malaise that strikes every author.

The Three Pillars of The Author Platform and how to build them is the subject of The Verbs latest thought piece. Every writer should take time to read this and think about it.
Who are you? and Who are you writing for? are questions we all need to answer if we want a successful writing career.

In The Craft Section,

The best advice on plotting- Janice Hardy-Bookmark

3 tips to increase writing output- Jody Hedlund- Bookmark

Writing sad scenes- Ryan Casey

Finding plot holes – Angela Ackerman- Bookmark

Finding your way into the story – Becca Puglisi-Bookmark

In The Marketing Section,

9 tips for building your book cover- Jane Friedman- Bookmark

Visual marketing for authors- Frances Caballo- Bookmark

Making a living – Elizabeth S Craig- Bookmark!

To Finish

Orna Ross is the director of The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi )They have run three very successful online free one day conferences coinciding with the three major Book Fairs in the Northern Hemisphere. With the Frankfurt Book Fair just wrapping up the theme of their last conference was Writers and Business. 24 hours of amazing content for writers at all stages of the writing profession. Check out what’s on offer and enjoy a feast of quality content.
Orna also has an excellent vlog on setting good creative writing habits. Just in time for NaNoWriMo

Good Luck To Everyone attempting NaNoWriMo (It’s not too late to sign up.)


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Friday, October 21, 2016

Facing Your Fear

It’s ten days until November. For many writers around the world November is when they take a deep breath and plunge into NaNoWriMo. (National Novel Writing Month.) 
The aim is to write 50,000 words by the 30th.
50,000 words seems like a huge mountain to climb. Fear of the task can paralyse you so that you don’t get started at all. Rachel Thompson has 4 tips to overcome your fear of writing.

Joanna Penn has a great interview with Grant Faulkner where he talks about how NaNoWriMo got started and the origins of the 100 word story site.
You can sign up for NaNoWriMo and find your local group to support you or just beaver away at home.

Roz Morris has an excellent post on pace and structure to help with your NaNo planning and Bookworks has one on Time Management strategies for authors.

October is often called NaNoPrepMo. It is much easier to write 50,000 words if you know what you are going to write first. Jami Gold has her brilliant worksheets for authors available to download so you are all prepared for NaNoWriMo. 

Out in the world Mike Shatzkin has been taking a look at the latest Author Earnings data. He concludes that Bob Mayer was right with his post everything old is new again. Traditional publishers have now figured out how to use the new world of ebook publishing but there are differences in approach.

Kristine Rusch has an interesting post on  how writers can be overwhelmed. The solution is to define exactly what you want to be and or achieve.

Anne R Allen has a great post on the latest twists and turns of the Amazon review policy. This post is getting widely shared. Anne is a treasure trove of useful information and this post lays out what you can and can’t do regarding the new rules of reviews on Amazon.

Susan Spann writes about the intricacies of the advance in contracts. If you have ever wondered how it all works? What earning out means? How advances are calculated? This is the post for you.

In The Craft Section,

Fixing fatal flaws- Janice Hardy- Bookmark

Story and Structure love- James Scott Bell

3 ways to spot telling- K M Weiland- Bookmark

Synopsising your way to revision success-Writer Unboxed - Bookmark

Finding your character special hook and Pacing- Angela Ackerman- Bookmark

Act 2 The dark night of the soul -Sara Letourneau - Bookmark

Where does your drama come from- Lisa Cron - Bookmark

In The Marketing Section,

Launching A Series- Great podcast with Lindsay Buroker

Push marketing or Pull marketing- Jane Friedman- Bookmark

To Finish,

John Green has been acknowledged as a Y A writing superstar. While other writers may envy him his success has not come easy. In a very candid interview he discusses his battle with Writers Block and mental health. Sometimes all you can do is feel the fear and keep going.


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