Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Pat's Convention Note #20 of 100 things I learned from attending SIX LITERARY CONFERENCES in 2014

Last weekend, I had an opportunity to teach an aspiring author workshop at a local library.
After compiling my notes from what I learned at this year's conferences, I created this handout for participates. Hopefully, this can help someone else.

The First Book workshop by Christian author Pat Simmons
Copyright 2014.

A great book has six vital parts: Narration, dialogue, memorable characters, plot and description.
How many characters are too many characters? Keep an alphabetical spreadsheet of all your characters.
Everybody in your book should have a purpose to advance the heroine/hero’s agenda. If not, delete them.
**How does the FIRST LINE of each chapter begin and the LAST PARAGRAPH end?

*Check out Scrivener, a program many authors are using to store research, organize their ideas and write their manuscripts. http://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener.php. Free 30 day trial
Writing A Romance for Dummies by Leslie Wainger
Words You Thought You Knew by Jenna Glatzer
What Not to Say by Linda J. Beam
The Most Common Mistakes in English Usage by Thomas Elliott Berry
**Scholastic Dictionary of Synonyms, Antonyms, and Homonyms: aunt or ant; grown or groan; wring or ring, etc.*** Invaluable reference handbook.

To create an outline: List 20 major scenes that will happen in 20 chapters.      

*You need to know long it takes you to write a book before you sign that contract.

Moody Publishers had three of my books released within one year. YIKES.
I have a book due to Whitaker House January 1, 2015. I haven’t started. Another YIKES.
Military bases—ask for the BX Base Exchange vendor manager. Dave Couture and Allen Maki at Scott AFB are very friendly. They charge a commission rate from 12% to 25%. Sign at bases that charge under 20%. If you sell nothing, you pay nothing. To make the most of your time and money, stay all day to catch the morning, lunch, afternoon and then after work crowd.
Social networking: There are all kinds of writing groups on FB. Beware, the moderators want you to be active and do more than promote your book. There is also LinkedIn where I found librarians; Twitter, Pinterest, Blogs, etc. St. Louis Black authors collective on FB
*Check out my blog: http://conventionnotes.blogspot.com/
*Literary conferences—always look at the workshops that are being offered.
There are conferences for every genre.

Social networks: Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn
Promotional items: postcards: I use Next Day Flyers, use promo code
Ink pens: http://www.amsterdamprinting.com/
Brochures/banners: http://www.uprinting.com/
Search for great deals by Googling “cheap”.
Two people known in the industry for promoting authors:
LaShaunda Hoffman. Shades of Romance Magazine, promotes more than romance in eblasts. She also does online conferences. Reach her at sormag@yahoo.com
Ella Curry, EDC Creations: blog tours online and promotions. She also hosts BAN (Black Author Network) blogtalk radio shows. Reach her at ellacurryprez@edc-creations.com.

DO NOT use your mother, cousin or friend to give you the final edit. Most writers, especially newbies, need a developmental editor, line editor, and proof reader.
Every editor and publisher is different. Always ask for a free sample. Lately, I’ve used *Fiveer.com, which will become your BEST friend on a budget. Most are professionals and freelances that offer great services on covers, formatting and promotions, starting at $5.
Beware before hiring any type of editors. Make sure they live within the US. Otherwise, you’ll get someone who will edit in the Queen’s English. Such examples are honor vs. honour; recognise vs. recognize.
My first freelance editor was REALLY big on using repetitious words (she smiled, he smiled, they smiled—use a thesaurus).This same editor wouldn’t give me a break on weak chapter endings. I groan.
·         When I was with Moody Publishers, I noticed the editor was big on transition from one paragraph to another. The flow was seamless. I watch for that today.
·         My editor at Whitaker Publisher is really big on timelines, no jumping back and forth, such as a party in June, then going back to an Easter church service in April.

Once, I tried a freelance editor and when she got through ripping up my story—mindful after I had already been published with eight plus books—my head was messed up, causing me to doubt myself on that story for almost year until I could clear my head.

Here’s a good article about editing: http://www.bookdaily.com/authorresource/blog/post/1576449

Getting published

·         Secure an agent, which isn’t an easy task. Use Writer’s Market Handbook, attend conferences, and check out blogs. My agency has a blog that gives readers tips. http://www.chipmacgregor.com/
·         Get noticed by publishing eBooks. One indie author success story is Bella Andre who earns $20,000 a month.
What is Writer’s Block? You can’t tell a story if you don’t know it yourself.
Wake up your characters in your head.  Most of the time they come alive when you’re about to go to sleep. Take the time and joint notes.
Ask them questions: Sara, your mother just died. How do you feel?
Dave, you just got a promotion. How are you going to celebrate?
Girl, your boyfriend cheated on you. What’s your game plan for revenge?
If you start asking your characters questions, you are forcing them to answer.

Happy writing!

Look for my Christmas novella: CHRISTMAS GREETINGS Thanksgiving Day.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Pat's Convention Note #19 of 100 things I learned from attending SIX LITERARY CONFERENCES in 2014

#19. We’re killing ourselves to meet those deadlines.
One common excuse I have when trying to meet deadlines is I can’t stop to eat, wash clothes or clean my house, and the big one is to exercise. Despite being a snack addict, I’ll be the first to admit that weigh gain isn’t an issue for me. When I listened to the workshop FIT TO BE TIED TO YOUR DESK from this past year’s RWA, I realized that it’s not the eating at our desk that kills us, it’s being at our desk. For some of us, we’re sitting 8-10 plus hours a day, tapping away.
The presenter, Angie, used to work with Weightwatchers. She says everyone needs a good cardio workout for 30 to 60 minutes a day. Sounds good, but I don’t feel I can spare that amount of time to walk the neighborhood with my husband or go to the gym.
However, sitting at our desks disrupts our blood flow and slows down our metabolism, which could cause a Writer’s Block. Okay, I’m a not a doctor, although I did pay medical claims decades ago, but this isn’t my diagnosis. I’m just highlighting some of my notes from the class. With our legs bent for long periods of time, the blood can’t flow to our brain, causing a lack of oxygen, which will result in headaches and exhaustion. Yep, I’ve been there!
So according to Angie, our problems can be solved by putting into place some easy tasks:
·         Take a 5 minute break to exercise for every one hour we write. Stand up and stretch to energize our creative juices. Angie says walk around the block, run up and down the stairs—do something. I started jumping rope in my basement (yes, I have high ceilings). When asked which she prefers, the treadmill or the elliptical machine, hands down Angie likes the elliptical machine for full body workout.
·         Every 2 days, add one minute to the 5 minute regimen to build up to that 60 minute workout.
·         Prepare your snacks in advance before you write. Angie says always add some protein with your veggies.
I have implemented the jump rope a couple times a day and running down my stairs for any excuse, but only after I finish a scene, which could take 60 to 90 minutes or longer. Hey, it’s a start.
What I really found informative was the pre-made snacks. Well, that’s it for now. I guess I better go jump rope before I start my writing marathon.
Happy writing!

I hope this has been a blessing to you until next time.


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Pat's Convention Note #18 of 100 things I learned from attending SIX LITERARY CONFERENCES in 2014

#18. Are you where you’re supposed to be?
We’ve all heard that Smashwords is the one-stop shop for eBook authors. Well…almost except they don’t have inroads with Amazon and Googlebooks.
But there is one more place that is gaining speed in the eBook industry. At Penned Con, Mark Coker (Smashwords) said—and other have agreed—that Scribd.com’s subscription service will be just as popular with eBook as Netflix has been with movies. Really?
Authors have two choices to have books listed on Scribd.com. Here’s the link about information on their subscription service for authors to upload their eBooks directly. Am I the only one coming to the table late on this?
Of course, if you’re not a do-it-yourselfer than besides Smashwords, you can also go through Scribd’s other publishing partners—as they call themselves—INscribed Digital, BookBaby, or Draft2Digital. I briefly checked out these sites to find out what was it going to cost me and how much they were going to pay me. I noticed they were not all the same except when it came time to release payment…still quarterly. I should mention another site that seems to becoming popular is Bublish.com Mind you, in the world of eBooks, you can’t leave any stone unturned. Our books have to be EVERYWHERE, but are you ready for the subscription concept? You have your homework assignment, now get to researching!
I hope this post have been a blessing.

Here’s a little inspiration today:

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Pat's Convention Note #17 of 100 things I learned from attending SIX LITERARY CONFERENCES in 2014

#17. The plot thickens. With all the conferences I’ve attended this year, I can’t remember where this latest tidbit came from, but the concept is worth exploring. One presenter suggested clashing two different story plots into one book. My first response was yeah, right. Once she explained the process, I thought, hmm—why not. If—a big if—I could make it work, the idea would enrich my story line and keep my readers guessing.
For example, you’re struggling to build a story line with a recently widowed mother of two children with no job. Now, I know this is not going to make sense, but why not introduce a whistle blower with a company allegedly responsible for toxic waste. One idea seems like the making of a romance story; the other sounds like a suspense in the making. So how would you piece those two completely different scenarios or genres into one story? The possibility is endless. What the presenter was trying to accomplish was to make us dig deeper to develop our story lines.
I hope this sparks ideas for the story you’re about to write.

Be blessed.