Vacation Writing: My Tips For Turning Your Vacation Into A Writers Paradise

new yearsWith the holidays just around the corner you may be thinking about getting some writing done. I thought it would be a good idea to put together my rules for holiday writing! It’s easy to start the holidays with every intention of writing—but to forget all about it as festivities set in! Follow my five rules and have a great writing vacation!

Be Realistic

When I’m out of my regular routine, it’s harder for me to achieve. I imagine I’m not alone in this. So when I’m visiting family over the holidays, I may not have the ability do my normal full hour of writing each day.

But ten minutes? Or one hundred words? That’s always doable. Setting a reasonable goal lets you take advantage of the moments that would normally be wasted. Furthermore, you will be able to enjoy your vacation without the guilt of not writing.

Start Early

Okay. I know vacation is really not the time when you want to set an alarm. If you’re a natural early riser like myself the morning hours can be very important. Why don’t you try rising early and getting down to work? You may even find that your days will be more relaxed.

Stay In Bed

On the opposite side of the coin to the above suggestion is to pretend to sleep in—but instead, work quietly in your guest room for a little while before making your morning appearance.

Be Invisible

If mornings just don’t cut it for you, why not simply slip away for a little bit in the afternoon? Figure out where the closest coffee shop is, close the door to your room, or hey, just find a good closet settle in.

Be A Night Owl

For you night owls and procrastinators! Once you snuggle into the bed for the night, take just a little time to cram in fifty words or so. Maybe those holiday nightcaps will unleash a little extra creativity.

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Blogging, Content Writing and You

writing 2This blog article is all about writing content for your blog, website or newsletters. I thought I would put together a few rules I work by for your use. Enjoy!

 

Prove Yourself With Proofing

Reread your article at least two times. You can sort out some stupid mistakes in first look. Second read ensures removal of any big mistake. If possible read out loud and proud. You can easily remove lots of mistakes from your post. When you read it second time you will be reading it from a reader’s perspective and this will help you a lot in sentence construction.

Don’t Just Click “Publish”

Don’t just hit the publish button while completing your post. Keep the post as a draft and try to edit it later when you can come back to it. This technique is helpful at helping you find general mistakes.

All You Need Is Friends

If you are working in a team, then ask others to edit your posts. It will help keep your posts error free. If you are working alone then you can ask your friends or family members to proofread your post. You can also hire someone to edit your posts and this will help a lot in long run.

Tense About Tenses

Many writers make this mistake by changing tense in between the post. They write in simple present tense and immediately switch to past tense or future tense. It is sometimes grammatically correct but it is sufficient to confuse readers.  Try to avoid changing tense and, when you have to, try to keep things clean by writing in simple language.

Straight To The Point

You are writing for those browsing your blog. You need to be simple and illustrative so that anyone could understand your voice. Don’t use advance words which make reader to use dictionary to understand the meaning of words. Keep your posts as simple as possible.

Six Of The Calmest Foods You Can Eat When You Are Stressed

black and whote chocolateOne of the most stressful jobs in the world can be thinking up stories, plots and ideas for your books. Many writers have burnt out doing just that—so this blog is all about relieving your stress. Take a trip to the calm side—and try some of these great stress relieving consumables.

Chocolate Does Help

Just a square of the stuff can calm your nerves. Dark chocolate regulates levels of the stress hormone cortisol and stabilizes metabolism.

Be Sweet With your Honey

Replace stress with sweetness and try a nice big spoonful of honey. Besides being a natural skin moisturizer and antibiotic, honey also provides compounds that reduce inflammation in the brain, meaning it fights depression and anxiety.

Take A Bite on the Wild Side

Take a tropical vacation without leaving the desk chair. Use a five-minute break to peel, slice, and bite into a juicy mango, which packs a compound called linalool that helps lower stress levels. Don’t worry about the juice dripping down your chin—the stress relief is worth the mess. Seriously.

Chew That Gum

Minty, fruity, or bubble-gum flavor, a stick of gum is a surprisingly quick and easy way to beat stress. Just a few minutes of chewing can actually reduce anxiety and lower cortisol levels.

The Munch Bunch

Sometimes there’s nothing more satisfying than munching away on a candy bar when we’re stressed—one study found stressed adults craved crunchy and salty snacks more than usual. But that salty crunch doesn’t have to be so sugary—a handful of trail mix or a bag of celery sticks will work just as well.

Herbal Makes the Mind Slow Down

Instead of giving into stress and anger– get green with a cup of herbal tea. Did you know that green tea is a source of L-Theanine a chemical that helps relieve anger? Boil the water, pour it out, and take a soothing sip.

5 Things Your Characters Want More Than Millions

bloggingAs writers, we sometimes forget the little things. I wanted to write a blog article that would cover some of the elements readers look for in books. Without these elements, you may find it hard to make your story enjoyable. Let’s take a look…

Secretly…

Some characters have questions, and some characters have answers. Often, characters have answers that they never want to share with anyone. Answers that would be secrets. Dark secrets, scary secrets, weird and odd secrets that they don’t want you, the reader, to find out… until it’s time for you to find out.

A Little Bit of Motivation

Just like living, breathing humans—characters want things. They are motivated by desires and requirements. In many cases, they spend an entire story trying to fulfill a dream or an ambition. This is one of the base requirements of a story. What does your character want? What are his or her motives? If you can’t explain this, then the story will fall apart.

Connections Are Everything

Characters need connections to other characters. These don’t need to be desired connections. They can be connections that the character is actively trying to deny. But they need to be there. They help make the character the character. Without connection to other characters, you will find the story falling pretty flat.

Strengths & Flaws

Characters who have absolutely no skills are dull. Readers really like to find characters who are really good at something. The best doctor? The best zombie hunter? The best detective? But at the same time, characters can’t be perfect. They have to be relatable. So, be sure to give your characters well-rounded skillsets, and make them as realistic and as relatable as possible.

Emotions

Everyone has emotion—even if we don’t like to show it. Characters have to have some kind of emotion to actually exist within the fabric of the book. Love? Desire? Hatred? They don’t have to be shouting these emotions out at the top of their lungs—but the reader has to know how the character feels. Do they feel hungry? Tired? Mentally wiped out? Is the guy in the corner so angry he could punch the wall? Essential.

What do you think?

Categories & Keywords: An Authors Overview

writing1111There are a few things to consider before pressing that “publish” button on your publishing platform of choice. That’s what we are going to talk about this week. The last minute problems that crop up, or get forgotten, as writers rush to get their book onto the market. For example, how often do you think about keywords? Categories? How about author name? These might seem like easy things now—but authors all around the world have forgotten to fill in the metadata before they hit the publish button—and those authors have been cramped by these problems throughout their book publishing run.

 

Keywords

These seem like gobbledygook, meaningless things when you first see a section to select keywords. What is a keyword? Well, take a major publishing platform like Kindle, and you will see that there is space for seven keywords. These keywords are how readers find your book. Many authors just overlook this spot on the page and don’t fill them in. That would be a mistake. Take some time, think about what search terms people will be using to search for your book. Is it a Western? A horror novel? A book about bamboo sticks? What is it? Fill in the space with words that will help you sell books.

Categories

This is a crucially overlooked part of the publication of a book. People tend to find the biggest category that applies to their book, and then just add it to the metadata. But normally, you get to pick two categories. Spend some time going around Amazon and looking at the different category opportunities out there. Look to see where similar books to yours have been placed. It’s a good idea to note that the smaller categories will give you more exposure. Why? Because it will take you less sales to get to number one in a small category, and then once you’ve hit number one, the momentum of being at number one will hopefully keep you there.

Are You Using #Hashtags? A Guide To Hashtags #1

typeIf you’re a social media novice, hashtags — those short links preceded by the pound sign (#) — may seem confusing and unnecessary. But they are integral to the way we communicate online, and it’s important to know how to use them (even though some people, like Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake, are not the biggest fans). Plus, they can be a lot of fun.

On Twitter, the pound sign (or hash) turns any word or group of words that directly follow it into a searchable link. This allows you to organize content and track discussion topics based on those keywords. So, if you wanted to post about the Breaking Bad finale, you would include #BreakingBad in your tweet to join the conversation. Click on a hashtag to see all the posts that mention the subject in real time.

The hashtag’s widespread use began with Twitter but has extended to other social media platforms. In 2007, developer Chris Messina proposed, in a tweet, that Twitter begin grouping topics using the hash symbol. Twitter initially rejected the idea. But in October 2007, citizen journalists began using the hashtag #SanDiegoFire, at Messina’s suggestion, to tweet updates on a series of forest fires in San Diego. The practice of hashtagging took off; now users and brands employ hashtags to cover serious political events (#Cairo) and entertainment topics (#MileyCyrus) alike.

In this first email we will take a look a look at #hashtags and learn what they do!

Which characters can you include in a #hashtag?

For starters, spaces are an absolute no-no. Even if your hashtag contains multiple words, group them all together. If you want to differentiate between words, use capitals instead (#BlueJasmine). Uppercase letters will not alter your search results, so searching for #BlueJasmine will yield the same results as #bluejasmine.

Numbers are supported, so tweet about #50ShadesOfGrey to your heart’s content. However, punctuation marks are not, so commas, periods, exclamation points, question marks and apostrophes are out. Forget about asterisks, ampersands or any other special characters.

Keep in mind that the @ symbol does something completely different. Using @ before a person’s Twitter handle will tweet at him directly, letting him know you have written to him via the @Connect tab. A hashtag will not. Sometimes users will hashtag a celebrity’s name instead of using her Twitter handle — it is acceptable to tweet #Lorde or @lordemusic. But if you are trying to reach someone directly, don’t use a hashtag.

There is no preset list of hashtags. Create a brand new hashtag simply by putting the hash before a series of words, and if it hasn’t been used before, voilà! You’ve invented a hashtag.

Most major social media platforms support hashtags. These include:

Twitter: Twitter is the birthplace of modern hashtag usage — as such, its hashtags are more versatile than other sites’ (see “Tone & Voice,” below). Twitter hashtags are mainly used to denote specific topics of conversation; the “Trends” sidebar of your Twitter feed curates a list of hashtags you might be interested in, based on your tweets.

When you search for a hashtag on Twitter, there are three ways to filter the results. The “Top” option displays the most relevant and popular posts, including those from users you don’t follow. “All” shows you every tweet that uses the specific hashtag in real time, and “People you follow” will only display results from users you are following.

How Are You Going To Publish? Four Platforms To Book Success!

typeAfter writing a book, many people want to know how one goes about publishing a book. A well-known author once said recently that “it’s no great feat to get one’s book published—it’s no great mountain to climb.” He is right, but his opinion is subjective. To you, reading this blog, it is a huge mountain to climb to get your book published. There are many paths you can take up that mountain, but it is still a huge feat.

There are several platforms that allow you to publish an eBook online. Knowing their strengths and weaknesses will help you decide which platform will help you achieve your writing goals. In this article, we will be taking a look at four of the major platforms.

Amazon

Hundreds of thousands of books are published and sold on Amazon each year. It is said that Amazon is the biggest player in the book business. As a writer, you may find it hard to achieve any success without the platform Amazon offers. Amazon is a company that rewards loyalty. By joining the Amazon KDP program, you will gain a 70% royalty share—but you will have to have your e-book exclusively on Amazon. There are many pros and cons to using Amazon… but, as many authors are discovering, success in the book world can be made much tougher if you don’t use them.

Barnes & Noble

A traditional bookseller with a large online platform that you may be tempted to use. Barnes & Noble are one of the easiest platforms to become part of. Their formatting process is one of the easiest to navigate. Just remember that because you have your book published online with Barnes & Noble, it doesn’t mean you will automatically be available inside stores.

iBooks

For some time, people thought that iBooks was going to overtake Amazon. That has been proven as folly. Many authors consider the iBooks platform to be a mess—without any real co-ordination or easy access. This platform is easy to get onto, but the chances are that you won’t have instant success here.

Smashwords

One of the more interesting platforms. Smashwords has been around for a long time now and has a proven track record. If you have a free book, Smashwords may be the one for you to go for. It’s easy to release and market a free book with them. If you are looking for paid sales—it may be tougher for you to get any traction on Smashwords. The formatting is easily navigated, though, so don’t worry about the technical side of things.