Forget selling. Focus on #writing.

Tricia Drammeh:

“Forget about learning to flog books, instead concentrate on learning to write better and harder and with more soul.” Inspiration with a healthy dose of reality. This is a terrific post by M T McGuire!

Originally posted on M T McGuire Authorholic:

A while back, I read this post, on Chuck Wendig’s blog and it got me thinking.

The basic gist is that there are gatekeepers for every writer. While, with indie publishing, it’s fairly easy to get your book out there, it gets much harder after publication than it is for trad published authors because most of the gates indies must go through turn up after the book is published.  So you get things like review sites that won’t touch anything self published; different gate, different place in the process but it’s still there. He explains how completely saturated the market is and links to an article from a fellow who has 150 books each day sent to his review magazine from trad publishers alone – which is why it only accepts trad pubbed books.

The message of Chuck’s article is, basically: there are gatekeepers in any part of the…

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IWSG: Writing Through the Rough Times

It’s the first Wednesday of the month and time for Insecure Writer’s Support Group members to share their monthly posts. If you’d like to learn more (or join) IWSG, please visit the following link: http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-sign-up.html

Be sure to visit Alex J Cavanaugh (the fearless leader of the IWSG) and his IWSG cohosts, Donna Hole, Lisa Buie-Collard, S.L. Hennessy, and LG Keltner.

iwsg

Last month, I didn’t post because I was in the hospital. This month, I’m slowly recovering, and I’m back to blogging once more. Being ill put a kink in my blogging and writing schedules, but despite feeling under the weather for weeks, I’ve managed to complete a rewrite and an initial edit of Unbound (Book 3 in the Spellbringers series). I’ve edited by uploading my book to my Kindle and then letting the text-to-speech feature read the book out loud. So, yeah. I’ve edited while lying down. But at least I’m doing it!

Life will always get in the way of writing. We either learn to write through the rough times, or we give up. That’s basically what it comes down to. There are times we must take a break. There are times it’s impossible to find writing time. But there are other times we have to push through it and get things done.

Over the years, I’ve made dozens of excuses for failing to write. Some of these excuses were valid. Others were just excuses. I’m sure there will be times I’ll have to re-prioritize or push my writing to the back burner. It happens. But one thing I’ve learned over the past month is this: If you want something badly enough, you’ll find a way. It might not be easy, but you can do it.

What problems have interfered with your writing? How do you write through the rough times?

Editors: It Takes One to Know One

Editors. We all need one. Or do we? I know a few authors who successfully self-edit, but for the most part, authors rely on editors to perfect their books prior to publication. But how do authors find the right editor for their book? Some rely on references from friends, other carefully review samples of the prospective editor’s work. Some sift through the tons and tons of advertisements and websites of those who edit professionally. I’d say most authors use a combination of these three vetting methods.

If you’re an author who doesn’t know the basics of grammar, or if you’re an author who doesn’t do a lot of reading, how can you be certain the editor of your choice knows what they’re doing?

You can’t.

If you don’t know the basics of grammar, you can go ahead and write your book. I’m not here to tell you not to follow your dream. I’m not going to tell anyone to give up. But I am going to tell you this: If you don’t know the basics of grammar and sentence structure, you won’t have any clue as to whether or not your editor does good work. You won’t know if you’re getting a well-edited finished product. Until the bad reviews come rolling in, you won’t know you’ve been ripped off. Taken for a ride. Betrayed by a wannabe editor who pocketed your money in exchange for a substandard editing job.

Same with reading. If you don’t read (a lot!) you won’t know whether or not your book has a decent plot. Good characterization. If you don’t read, how will you know whether or not your book is readable?

I’m seeing this more and more often: Authors who list editors in their acknowledgments, but then publish a book that is clearly poorly-edited. Authors who pay good money and expect (and deserve) a well-edited book, but end up with a barely readable mess-terpiece instead of a masterpiece.

Do you know what all these authors have in common? They don’t know any better. They don’t know their book is a mess. They took the ‘editor’ at their word. Until their dream was crushed under a mountain of bad reviews, the author didn’t know anything was wrong.

Am I saying these authors deserved to be scammed? Absolutely not! No one deserves to be victimized by an incompetent editor. No one deserves to have their dream crushed or their money stolen. Because that’s what it is. Someone who claims to be an editor and then subsequently takes money without producing an acceptable finished product is nothing but a thief. These authors are victims and do NOT deserve to be treated in such a way.

How can we be certain we’re hiring a reliable, experienced editor? Clearly, relying on recommendations from friends is helpful, but not enough. Perusing advertisements on blogs and other writers’ sites is not enough. We have to do our own research. Authors must be able to rely on their own instincts. An author who doesn’t have basic editing and writing skills is at a distinct disadvantage. An author who lacks basic writing skills is not able to make an informed decision when hiring an editor.

A savvy author who knows some basic editing and writing skills can tell after one glance at an editor’s website if there’s a major problems. Errors on the editor’s website should raise a big, red flag. Authors who don’t know the basics will miss the glaring errors on the prospective editor’s website, whereas author’s who know some basic editing skills will give that bad editor a pass.

As authors, we have to know the basics. Some people will try to convince you the story is king and that readers these days don’t care about grammar. I’m sorry, but this simply isn’t true. If you want to be a writer, but don’t know the basics, go ahead and write. Get your story down on paper. Read as much as you possibly can because this will teach you more than any creative writing class ever could. If you can’t afford to take a basic grammar course at a community college or distance learning center, there are free courses you can take online. (ESL online lessons are particularly helpful. Even if English is your first language, these courses really break it down into bite-sized, easy-to-understand portions.)

Write your story. Don’t EVER let anyone tell you not to write. But before you hire an editor, make sure you know what you’re looking for. Make sure you know the difference between a real editor and a scammer. Know what a well-edited book looks like. Brush up on your editing skills and you’ll be better equipped to make a solid decision when it comes to hiring an editor. Take control of your writing career.

Book review: The Séance by Tricia Drammeh

Tricia Drammeh:

This review of The Seance gave me shivers of delight. Thank you, Jane Dougherty, for such a lovely review. The Seance is on sale this weekend for only $0.99, so if you haven’t read it, I hope you’ll give it a try.

Originally posted on Jane Dougherty Writes:

Looking for likely books to plug for Halloween I immediately thought of this one and realized I have never posted a review here. My youngest is reading it today. Haven’t heard a peep out of her for a while.

This is a book that is hard to put down for an adult. For teenagers it must be riveting.
Abby is an ‘original,’ and her best friend, if not the prettiest girl in the class, is up there with them. There are class bullies, and there is the gorgeous hunk floating just out of reach, the object of desire. But this is not the standard high school drama. Abby manages her problems—absent, uninterested parents, and loneliness—in an out of the ordinary way—by indulging her interest in the paranormal.
The séance goes horribly wrong and the unwelcome presence Abby summons grows from irritating to seriously, worryingly…

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Tricia Drammeh

Tricia Drammeh:

I’ve just been featured on Susan Toy’s wonderful blog, Reading Recommendations. Thank you, Susan, for the opportunity to be featured on your blog!

Originally posted on Reading Recommendations:

meTricia Drammeh

What is your latest release and what genre is it? My latest release is Firebound, book two in the Spellbringers Series. It falls under the young adult paranormal romance heading.

Quick description: The story follows two main characters—Rachel and Alisa. Alisa is an ordinary human, but her best friend and boyfriend are both Spellbringers (wielders of magic). She struggles with feelings of inferiority, and at the same time, fights to maintain a sense of independence as her relationship with her boyfriend progresses and becomes more serious. Rachel is new to the magical world and has to hide her true nature from her family. In order to protect her brother from dangers he isn’t aware of, she forges an alliance with evil. She’s afraid to confide in her friends, so she tries to handle her problems on her own, which only serves to put everyone around her…

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You Are Perfect

After a brief stay in the hospital, I revived a habit I thought I’d kicked nearly a year ago – watching television. I have nothing against television, but I have a tendency to get hooked on Law & Order SVU or Criminal Minds marathons. In fact, I wasted the entire weekend watching television.

I learned a lot from my weekend TV binge. For example, did you know that cheek sagging is a HUGE problem in America? Oh, yes. There’s nothing worse than sagging cheeks. Well, unless you count cellulite, wrinkles, gray hair, or any of the evils brought on by natural aging. Thank goodness there is now a pharmaceutical fix for sagging cheeks. Because, you know, looking your age is the worst thing that could possibly happen to you.

The number of beauty and weight loss ads on television is astronomical. Wrinkle removers, age spot erasers, cellulite busters, and breast enhancers.

I know these types of posts have been done again and again. I get that some people are probably sick of hearing about it. But I think we need to keep talking about it until something changes. Do we blame the cosmetic companies? Fashion? Media? Personally, I don’t want place blame on anyone. I just want to tell people this:

You. Are. Perfect.

You are perfect just the way you are. Shave your legs. Or don’t. Wear makeup. Or don’t. Do what makes you feel good, but do it for the right reasons. Lose weight for your health, not because someone else says you don’t look the way you’re supposed to. Celebrate your curves – or lack thereof. Celebrate you.

Everyone has value. Your value doesn’t increase or decrease according to your bra size or a number on the scale. “Real women” are fat, skinny, muscular, or any way they want to be. “Real men” shouldn’t be judged by how time they spend in the gym, or by their weight, height, or bulk.

It’s up to us to define our femininity or masculinity. No one has the right to do that for us. Regardless of our sex, gender-identity, or age, we are all in this crazy life together. Let’s support each other. Let’s stick together by refusing to share Facebook memes that say, “Real women have curves.” Refuse to share the pictures that shame people for their weight, wardrobe, or hairstyle.

Show our family, our friends, and the advertisers that we are more than our appearance. We are more than our bodies. We are already perfect.

If you haven’t seen this video by Colbie Caillat, I’d love to share it with you. I cried the first time I watched it. It touched my heart. I hope it will touch yours.

Do you ever feel invisible?

Tricia Drammeh:

Here’s one author’s take on the frustration of trying to market a book. I’ve read several articles lately by authors who are having the same trouble. Marketing can seem like a pointless task, so what’s the answer? Do we wait for readers to find us? Or do we participate in the mad scramble for visibility? I’ve decided to take a break from promotion while I focus on writing and editing. My approach might not sell any books, but I’m feeling more relaxed than I have in a long time.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Kate Jack’s work, I highly recommend both her blog and her books. Her blog is very informative. Her books are incredible works of urban fantasy which I believe most readers would enjoy. Please take a few moments to visit Kate’s blog. It’s time well spent.

Originally posted on KATE JACK'S BLOG:

invisible-man

Do you ever feel that no one can see or hear you? That no one can even sense your presence? That’s how I feel when I’m trying to market my books, and I’m not alone. There are millions, perhaps even billions of us, all clamouring for attention in a very crowded marketplace.

bazaar

Does that mean we should give up? No, of course not. We believe passionately in our work and should therefore try to give it the best chance we can to get it out there. That said, how? Of course there’s the usual social media outlets, such as Facebook, with its various groups, pages and timelines. But most of the groups consist of fellow writers, who on the whole are, naturally, only interested in promoting their own work. How many times have you seen a post about someones else’s book on their timeline, and just scrolled past it? Then…

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The Death of a Book Blog

Most of the readers who follow this blog are aware I have another blog – a promotional blog called Authors to Watch. For the past year, I have interviewed hundreds of authors, promoted hundreds of books, and posted dozens of reviews. What started out as a small blog that boasted the occasional post evolved into something quite substantial. Up until January, I posted on Authors to Watch several times a week. At one point, I posted every day.

In addition to the Authors to Watch blog, I also had a Facebook page and Facebook group. When the group grew to several thousand members, we took on extra admins for a total of six. Six admins might seem like a lot, but we couldn’t keep up with the spam, so we posted some rules essentially changing the group to a discussion-only forum (no promotion allowed). When the rules were repeatedly broken by spam-and-run authors, we changed the settings so that only admins could initiate a thread. Our core group of members loved the changes. We had some lively conversations (sometimes resulting in disputes that had to be settled by admins), but our discussion threads were often marred by authors who couldn’t seem to resist dropping a promotional post and then running. After a few months, I became tired of being bombarded by angry authors demanding that I kick so-and-so out of the group because they hurt their feelings on a discussion thread. I got tired of being messaged by authors who wanted to know why their “posting rights” were revoked just because they dropped a bit of semi-pornographic spam on a discussion thread that was meant to be about creating realistic dialogue. When I made the announcement that the group was being deleted, a few authors (who were complete strangers to me) got together demanding that I turn the group over to them. I ignored them, deleted the group, and have never lost a night’s sleep.

Now the time has come for the blog to take a bit of a break. Or for me to take a break from the blog. Like most book bloggers, I work outside the home, take care of a family, and try to scrape together a moment or two to write. Like most book bloggers and authors (and like most people in general), I’m busy. Book blogging is something I’ve done because I love it. I love helping authors. I love giving authors a platform to promote their books and talk about their writing process. Or, at least, I used to.

Don’t get me wrong. I still love helping authors. I just need to do it in a different way. I’m sure some of you will encourage me to stick it out. You’ll tell me to get back to Authors to Watch in a couple of months when I’ve recovered from my recent health crisis. And maybe I will. But right now, I really, really, really need a break.

I’ve thought about ending the blog for a long time, but then some starry-eyed, new author would come along asking me to promote their book, and their genuine kindness would sneak past my defenses, and I’d be back to interviewing once again. For every amazing, wonderful, genuine, kindhearted author I’ve encountered, there’s been at least one entitled, demanding, ungrateful author whose made me wonder why I spent my free time helping them.

I’ve stayed up late to format interviews when I’m so tired, all I want to do is pass out on the floor. I’ve promoted interviews in the morning before I’ve rushed off to work and promoted the moment I got home. I’ve read books I’ve agreed to review by a certain date even though it meant putting my own writing (or housecleaning or spending time with family) on the back burner.

I’m not special. Every book blogger is busy. They tirelessly promote because they love books and they want to help authors. Over the past three years, I’ve seen several book bloggers quit. Some are no longer accepting review requests outside of book tours. Some aren’t accepting self-published authors at all. The flood of requests (many from rude authors who don’t read their guidelines) have pushed these book bloggers to put strict limitations on who can approach them. Emails are deleted without reading them. Authors are ignored.

It’s tough for both authors and book bloggers. There’s such a huge need for reviewers, bloggers are being overwhelmed by requests, while authors are wondering how the hell to get the word out about their book.

As an author and a blogger, I’m on both sides of the fence. I know how hard it is to be inundated by a dozen review requests per day. I also know how exhausting it is to send out dozens of review requests and only hear back from two bloggers. As an author, I respond to each and every author who wants to be featured on Authors to Watch. I might not respond to publicists, but I would NEVER ignore an author who contacts me directly because I know how badly it sucks to be ignored.

Authors, before you contact a reviewer or book blogger, please be mindful of their time. Bloggers are doing everything they can to help you. The majority of authors are polite, but many are not. Some bloggers (like me because I’m a pushover) will try to accommodate every author, even the rude ones, but most bloggers aren’t going to give you a second chance.

Every book blogger has their own rules and pet peeves. Here’s what really pushed me over the edge:

  • Rude authors: These are authors who, for whatever reason, lack in social skills. Maybe their intentions are good, but from reading their terse emails, it’s hard to tell. “This needs to be changed.” Or, “You need to add this link.” One-line emails or comments that make demands are not a nice way to address the book blogger who was up half the night fighting with their internet service in order to get your post formatted. If you need the book blogger to make changes, that’s fine. But be nice.
  • Demanding authors: If you see something that needs to be changed or added in your promotional post, most book bloggers are more than happy to help. ASK nicely. Don’t demand. Don’t email the book blogger repeatedly throughout the day, wondering why the link (that you provided incorrectly the first time, by the way) hasn’t been fixed yet. Book bloggers don’t spend their lives glued to their computers waiting on correspondence from you. When someone is doing something for you for free, you have no rights to make demands. Ask.
  • Entitled authors: While demanding authors are often perfectionists who can’t relinquish control over a blog that isn’t theirs, entitled authors make demands because they feel like everyone owes them unlimited time. Entitled authors are the only authors out there. They wrote a book, so the rest of us should bow down to them. As for the other authors out there, we pale in comparison to the entitled author. Entitled authors interview the book blogger ahead of time to make sure they’re worthy. They ask the book blogger how many page views they get per day and what they’re going to do to promote the post. The entitled author checks in with the book blogger throughout the day to make damned sure the blogger has promoted. “I didn’t see anything on Twitter yet.” The entitled author leaves nothing to chance. “You might want to mention that I placed runner-up in the Obscure Book Cover Award,” or, “You might want to change your post so that it shows my promotional price in bold letters” or, “You might want to Tweet again in the afternoon so more people see the post.”
  • Too busy to read the guidelines Authors: These are the authors who skim through the Contact Me page and grab your email without reading any of the guidelines. Never mind that the book blogger isn’t accepting reviews at this time. They email the blogger a copy of their book anyway and expect them to review by a deadline they set. They follow up with constant demands, asking when they can expect the review to post. Hmmm. How about never?
  • Ungrateful Authors: These are the authors who don’t bother to thank the blogger for their time. I guess this goes back to a sense of entitlement. Or maybe the author just got so busy, they forgot to send the blogger a quick email to thank them. Book bloggers aren’t looking for much, but a simple “thank you” goes a long way. That’s all we want.

For those of you who have been interviewed or reviewed on Authors to Watch, don’t worry! I do plan to renew the domain, so links to your reviews and interviews will stay intact. For those who have already set up an interview or book feature for October or November, have no fear. I will definitely follow through on posting and promoting your feature. (Hey, I even fixed a link and Tweeted while in the hospital.)

Don’t be surprised if I’m back to Authors to Watch in the new year when things settle down, but don’t be surprised if I’m not. Who knows what the future might bring? Just know that I’m still fully supportive of the author community and will help indie authors when I can. Be kind to book bloggers and to each other. And, most importantly, be kind to yourself. Your time is important. Don’t give it away to anyone.

11 Fear-Based Writer Beliefs, and How to Quell Them

Tricia Drammeh:

Excellent advice from an excellent writer.

Originally posted on A Spark in the Dark:

fear

Let’s be honest. We all have fears. As humans, as writers . . . . I don’t care if you are Stephen Effing King . . . wait a minute, even he is scared of something. Supposedly, he sleeps with the light on because he is scared of the dark (wouldn’t you be if you were him??)

So, in this post, we’re going to get down and dirty on some of these fears as they pertain to writing, specifically. I know I’ve been through my share of turbulence, finding my own equilibrium in this giant spinning world of words, where it sometimes feels like it’s everyone for themselves…. It can be maddening. It can be discouraging and lonely. But just remember, you are not alone.

Following are eleven bogus beliefs that many writers share, and how you can look at them differently. Maybe this will help you to release their vice…

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Firebound (Spellbringers Book Two) by Tricia Drammeh— Book Review Thursday

Tricia Drammeh:

It’s impossible not to have a good day when you get a review like this! All I can say is, “Thank you, Maegan Provan.”

Originally posted on Maegan Provan, Author:

Click here for the buy link

Click here for the buy link

The Claim between Alisa and Bryce is as strong as ever. Their love and desire for each other is overwhelming. Of course, Bryce’s controlling and jealous behavior may put an end of all of that. Alisa tries to maintain her independence but with the bond of the Claiming Words, she’s finding it harder than she had anticipated.

Seemingly free from Re’Vel’s game, Rachel tries to return to normalcy. Her relationship with Jace seems better than ever. However, her pride and her fear for her brother’s safety leads Rachel down a dark path that will not only damage the bond she has with the Alexanders, but puts everyone-including Alisa- in real danger.

An evil blast from the past is trying to shake the Alexander family, and puts Rachel in his sights. When Alisa finds herself as the target of the demon’s game, Bryce will do…

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