Writers@Work: Interview with Author Jessica Hagy by Rochelle Melander

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19 May 2015

Note From Rochelle

Dear Writers,

As summer approaches, I’m planning writing projects and reading lists. To help you write better and read more, I’m welcoming many guest writers to share their best writing tips and favorite summer reads. In addition, I’m hoping to have frequent book giveaways. If you have recently published a book and would like to participate, send me an email.

Author Jessica Hagy at Boswell Book Company

Author Jessica Hagy at Boswell Book Company

Today’s tip is a Writers@Work interview with Jessica Hagy, whose most recent book is The Art of War Visualized. I’ve been reading and recommending Jessica Hagy’s work for a long time, and was delighted to meet her at Boswell Book Company this past April.

Happy Writing! Rochelle, the Write Now! Coach

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I’ve been a fan of your work for a long time.

Thank you! It’s always surprising that people know my work, even after all this time (I’ve been at this since 2006). In some moldy crevice of my brain, I’m still a little kid hiding notebooks full of drawings from teachers who would toss them out.

I’m curious how you moved from business to reflecting on life through charts. How did you start sketching and writing? 

I’ve always been someone who draws in margins, but I was working as a copywriter when I started my blog of charts and graphs (www.thisisindexed.com). The grammar of charts and graphs is as readable as the grammar of a sentence, so turning verbal ideas into visual formats felt right to me. Sentence diagrams come in many forms.

Your blog has an incredible launch story—can you share what happened?

In the summer of 2006, I uploaded maybe a dozen images to my free blogspot site, and within a month the site was everywhere. I had a literary agent (who is still helping and guiding and encouraging me) and I was drawing for the BBC. I think the first “big” link was on Metafilter, and from that point the site was just pinging around the internet.

I didn’t tell anyone in real life that I had the blog for months, and so that was a very strange time for me. The internet was embracing all these little thoughts I had, but in the real world, I was keeping my head down and getting work done and I was 90% invisible. I’d never gotten such a positive response to anything I’d composed or said before, and it was honestly overwhelming.

•• Art of War Visualized-2Your new book is a visualized reflection on The Art of War by Sun Tzu. What inspired you about that book?

When I read The Art of War, I was expecting a brutal book (how to arrange heads on spikes and so on). But the content was actually very measured, very thoughtful, very pragmatic. I liked that, and I liked the idea of using the text as captions for my cartoons—so I could both honor and put a new spin on the original text.

What’s your daily writing and sketching practice?

I draw mostly in the mornings, but I don’t start work until I have left the house, gotten some coffee, and walked at least a mile or two. Clearing my head and mentally sorting through my day in advance is crucial. Once I sit down to sketch, I riff on ideas and vocabulary words that I have latched onto, and then scan the images I want to share.

My office is the front bedroom of my house, and it’s full of piles of paper and jars of paint, books in towers on the floor, markers all over the place and sticky notes on the walls. I work best while inside my nest of art supplies.

photo-3Where do you find inspiration for your work?

I am always latching onto to little hooks of information, and I find those by eavesdropping on the world. A funny word, an odd turn of phrase, a pattern of events, a mannerism I see strangers echoing in each other, how paint peels and the paths snails take on the sidewalk—it’s the little, subtle things that I gravitate toward.

Little details can be spun into bigger things. Everything can be a metaphor for something else. That it’s my job to play with all those little hooks, well, that’s a fact I’m grateful for multiple times a day.

What are you reading and reflecting on right now?

I’m actually reading a lot of business books right now. The Lean Startup, the old Carnegie book about influencing people, and lots of Wall Street Journal type articles. Something tells me that it’s time to point my art at the world of business, and to see where that goes.

b&wjessJessica Hagy is an artist and writer best known for her Webby award-winning blog, Indexed (www.thisisindexed.com). Her style of visual storytelling allows readers to draw their own conclusions and to actively participate in each narrative. She mixes data (both quantitative and qualitative) with humor, insight, and simple visuals to make even the most complex concepts immediately accessible and relevant. Her commissioned work frequently appears in various web formats, galleries, books, magazines, newspapers, television outlets, and advertising campaigns. She lives and works in Seattle, Washington.

 

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Writers@Work: An Interview with Author Dasha Kelly

12 May 2015

Note From Rochelle

Dear Writers,

I’m celebrating my birthday this week! In honor of it, I’m offering a special discounted price for my Jumpstart Your Writing coaching package. This package has helped clients start books, finish books, overcome writer’s block and set up a social media profile that works. If you need to move forward fast, contact me for a phone consultation.

Today’s tip is a Writers@Work interview with Milwaukee-area author Dasha Kelly, who launches her new novel tonight at 7:00 at Boswell Book Company.

Happy Writing! Rochelle, the Write Now! Coach

 

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23129776Tell us about your new novel.

Almost Crimson is about a young woman named CeCe who grows up with a severely depressed mother and how her adult life has been shaped by her mother’s “present void.”  When CeCe is presented with an opportunity to alter her experience, she realizes the heavy anchors of co-dependency.

Can you talk a bit about your MFA and how it helped prepare you for writing professionally? 

A number of my peers had started pursuing MFA degrees, but most of them are poets.  I wasn’t convinced the path was me until I missed an opportunity to teach creative writing at a local community college.  While my initial interest was to earn the pedigree I needed to teach on a collegiate level, I am astounded at how much the program refined my writing.  I did the low-res program at Antioch University in Los Angeles and resonated with the culture, the faculty and the program’s approach to workshops. I’m glad that I waited to find the right program. I have a pedagogical appreciation for edits and stylistic choices that I’d been making on sheer gut, and now have the rigor and context to stop most of the bad editing and stylistic habits for which I just didn’t know any better.

 

What’s your writing process like? 

For fiction, a story will start with an exchange or a glimpse of a scenario.  After writing that, I’ll start to unfold why my character was there, who they are and what they want.  A plot will eventually emerge from there.  In a practical sense, I prefer starting on paper, then transcribing my draft into a digital file.  With poems and essays, I definitely start long hand.  With fiction, I try to move to the computer sooner than later.  Transcribing in volumes is tedious and my scribbling is rather epic.  I relish the editing process, so I tend to make a mess of several printed drafts before I’m comfortable editing on screen.

It seems like you wear a lot of professional hats. How do you juggle work and writing? (And stay sane!)

I don’t write nearly as consistently as I’d like, largely because of all those hats. It’s difficult to lose myself in a story when there’s another meeting in an hour, a workshop to invoice for, event notices to send out or dishes stacked in the sink.  Difficult but essential,is what I remind myself.  I’ve started carrying around multiple notebooks to capture different projects. I used to have one notebook, but it became a catch-all for poems, dialogue ideas, email addresses, meeting notes, supply lists, sleepover reminders for my daughters, everything.  Having with me a notebook for work and a notebook for writing was a tiny change with enormous results.  Not only are my notes clean but, inexplicably, the systems has helped me write more.  Another helpful move has been to give myself writing projects of varying intensity.  My blog, for instance, is enjoyable but intimidating.  I approach it like a column, which means I want to present writing that is thoughtful, well-crafted, accessible and poignant.  I might not have such an inspiration every week. Recently, I started crafting micro blogs as well, giving myself a target of exactly 100 words.  I send these out nearly every day. Poems happen anywhere and everywhere, and new fiction is taking shape in the writing notebook. Right now, though, there are dishes in the sink! So, I’m still working on the writing+work formula, but I’m glad to finally be writing more often than not.

What advice do you give to young writers?

Read what you like and write what you love. My poetry is most inspired by prose. My prose is inspired by essays. My essays are inspired by magazines. When reading becomes strictly a comparative study of styles you like and authors you don’t, we wrinkle the joy that got us all here in the first place. Write stories and poems that make you wonder what’s going on and what might happen next.  Worrying about agents and publishers and six-book deals in the middle of your second draft will show up in the work; by that, I mean the work might not be as strong. Figure out what excites you about the act of writing and lose yourself in those places.  The other pieces –the business of it all– will happen when and as they should.  Until then, writers should nurture a relationship with their words.

What are you reading right now?

Caitlin Moran’s How to be a Woman

 

10550075_10152296518320108_3655338528085023362_o-236x365Dasha Kelly is a nationally-respected writer, artist, and social entrepreneur. As a spoken word artist, Dasha has performed throughout the U.S., in Canada, and appeared on the final season of HBO presents Russell Simmons’ Def Poetry Jam. Dasha holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University. She is an alum of the iconic Squaw Valley Writers Community, the former writer-in-residence for the historic Pfister Hotel, and founder of Still Waters Collective, an arts education and community-building initiative. In 2014, Dasha was selected as a U.S. Embassy Arts Envoy to teach and perform in Botswana, Africa. She is the author of one chapbook, Hither, and three books: All Fall Down, Hershey Eats Peanuts, and Call It Forth. She lives in Milwaukee, WI.

Write Now! Coach Rochelle Melander is an author, a certified professional coach, and a popular speaker. Melander has written ten books including Write-A-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (And Live to Tell About It). As the Write Now! Coach, she teaches professionals how to write books fast, get published, and connect with readers through social media. Get your free subscription to her Write Now! Tips Ezine at http://www.writenowcoach.com.

 

 

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The Keys to Writing Success: Write, Submit, Repeat by Rochelle Melander

birthday-girl5 May 2015

Note From Rochelle

Dear Writers,

Happy May! I’m celebrating my birthday this month. For me, that means more walks and events with family and friends. For you, that means a special discounted price for my Jumpstart Your Writing coaching package. Let me know if you’d like to set up a phone consultation to see if the package is right for you.

Happy Writing! Rochelle, the Write Now! Coach

 

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What does it mean to be a successful writer? I’ve gathered ideas from some of the most successful authors in the business. Here’s what they say:

Writers write. When we go to networking events, and someone asks: “So what have you written?” —they want to hear about the award-winning, best-selling books you’ve published. But, being a writer is about what we are doing today and not what we’ve done. Listen to John Irving: The way you define yourself as a writer is that you write every time you have a free minute. If you didn’t behave that way you would never do anything. Got that? Go write.

Writers submit. John Campbell said: The reason 99% of all stories written are not bought by editors is very simple. Editors never buy manuscripts that are left on the closet shelf at home. Writing for yourself is fine, but if you want to make a career out of writing, you’ll need to submit your work at some point. Make a long list of potential agents, editors, or publishers, take a deep breath, and submit to a few of them. When a rejection comes (and it will), go to the next person on the list and submit again. Keep trying until you get accepted!

Rejection happens. If you submit your work, you’re going to get rejected. The more you submit, the more times someone will tell you no. Here’s what Barbara Kingsolver said about rejection: This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don’t consider it rejected. Consider that you’ve addressed it ‘to the editor who can appreciate my work’ and it has simply come back stamped ‘Not at this address’. Just keep looking for the right address.

And if you need a bit of encouragement to keep going, look to this bit of wisdom from Calvin Coolidge:

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

 

IMG_0091About the author. Write Now! Coach Rochelle Melander is an author, a certified professional coach, and a popular speaker. Melander has written ten books including Write-A-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (And Live to Tell About It). As the Write Now! Coach, she teaches professionals how to write books fast, get published, and connect with readers through social media. Get your free subscription to her Write Now! Tips Ezine at http://www.writenowcoach.com.

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Writers@Work: An Interview with Author Dana Cameron

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28 April 2015

Note From Rochelle

Dear Writers,

IMG_2924Greetings! I spent Saturday at the Wisconsin Romance Writers of America conference, soaking up tips on writing romance for young adults. The conference was held in conjunction with the annual Barbara Vey Reader Appreciation Luncheon, which brought together 60 authors with more than 500 readers. I didn’t attend the luncheon, but had a chance to meet some of the authors, including Tess Gerritsen. And I got a whole bunch of books and swag!

Today I have a special treat for you, an interview with award-winning author Dana Cameron. I met Dana at Murder and Mayhem in Milwaukee and fell in love with her books. Read the interview then enter to win a copy of her newest book, Hellbender.

Happy Writing! Rochelle, the Write Now! Coach

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You’re an archaeologist by training. Do you still work as an archaeologist? How did you make the transition from archaeologist to author?

Hi Rochelle—thanks for having me!

I no longer work as an archaeologist and there are days when I miss being in the field (usually around deadlines or when the weather is gorgeous). As for that transition…it was unexpected. A guy came onto a site where I was working and pulled out a gun. He was trying to steal artifacts, and luckily, he left before something bad happened, but it was…scary. Shortly after that field season, I found myself writing a series of six mystery novels featuring amateur sleuth, archaeologist Emma Fielding, starting with Site Unseen.

Then a few years later, my friends Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner invited me to write a short story for one of their urban fantasy anthologies. Writing that story was amazing fun and led to a lot more Fangborn short stories. Eventually, those in turn led me to write the Fangborn series, which features a young archaeologist (and werewolf) named Zoe Miller. They are: Seven Kinds of Hell, Pack of Strays, and most recently, Hellbender, all published by 47North.

I’ve loved both of your series featuring strong women who work in archeology—the mystery series with Emma Fielding and the urban fantasy series with Zoe Miller. What kinds of decisions and plans did you need to make at the beginning of a series?

Thank you! With the first series, I didn’t really make plans because I had no idea I’d be published. I started to write after telling a friend about the incident above, and she said, “You need to write this down!” And boom, instantly, I had to try. I wrote, took a writing class, then joined a critique group. I went to the Bread Loaf Writers Conference where I found my first agent. But with the Emma books, I did want to show what it was like to be an archaeologist, to give readers a look behind the scenes of what really goes on during a dig.

When I got to the Fangborn books, I had much more experience writing. I wanted to keep the archaeology, because I love it and it would give Zoe a way to explore the history of the Fangborn and make sense of her world. I wanted her to start off as someone who was on the margins in every way, but who grew into the power she discovered she had. And I wanted to show characters with different kinds of strengths working together. It was a way to look at a lot of big life questions for me.

Hellbender front coverFor the Fangborn series, you’ve changed our world and its history by adding the Fangborn and their history. What are some of the steps you took to build this unique and believable world?

The first thing was that I did was to invert many of the traditional tropes about werewolves, vampires, and oracles. My characters are superheroes working in secret to protect humanity from evil; my vampires need sun to charge up and my shifters can change form whenever they want. Shapeshifting stories appear in most cultures run the gamut from godlike, to good, to evil. I decided that all of these traditions were connected, just places where the Fangborn failed to cover their tracks and got incorporated into local folklore. What lends an air of believability, I hope, to my world is that I describe real artifacts and places the reader might know.

What does your writing life look like?

I have an office at home and work with music, making a playlist for every story or novel. It’s really helpful with focus, and if I am writing a series, I can listen to earlier playlists and get right back into that mindset. I usually warm up after breakfast with email and social media, then figure out what has to get done that day. I try always to have two or three things going, to have something to work on when one project is stuck. The cats can come in and hang out, as long as they behave. I work until lunch, eat, and then go back until about five or so. I aim for about four to eight pages a day, less for short stories, and I don’t outline. Most of my ideas come from my travel and museum visits. I have beta readers whom I really trust when I’m done with a first draft.

What are some of the best books you’ve read lately?

I was in awe of Mike Carey’s The Girl with All the Gifts. The Martian was so compelling and so inspiring—it was great to see how the main character used logic and science to survive. And I’ve been reading a lot of comics lately: Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel, Bitch Planet, and Afterlife with Archie are all amazing.

Thanks so much, Dana! Readers, don’t forget to enter to win a copy of Hellbender!

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DanaCameronAbout the author: Dana Cameron writes fiction inspired by her career as an archaeologist. In addition to the six Emma Fielding mystery novels (starting with Site Unseen), Dana’s short fiction evokes the darker side of life, ranging from the Anna Hoyt colonial noir stories (the first was “Femme Sole”) to thrillers and the “Fangborn” urban fantasy world. The latest novel in the Fangborn series, Hellbender, combines archaeology with werewolves, vampires, and oracles and was published in March by 47North. Her work has won multiple Anthony, Agatha, and Macavity Awards, and has been nominated for the Edgar Award. Dana lives in Beverly, Massachusetts. Visit her online at: www.danacameron.com

 

 

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Overcome Procrastination in Five Minutes or Less by Rochelle Melander

2015_101BestSites21 April 2015

Note From Rochelle

Dear Writers,

Great news! Writer’s Digest magazine has named Write Now! Coach one of the 101 Best Websites for Writers. This is my first time on the list, and I’m honored to be there with so many amazing sites.

If you’d like to see the entire list of Best Websites for Writers, it’s in the May/June issue of Writer’s Digest Magazine, on S0382_1stands now.

This week, I’m planning to work on some projects I’ve been putting off all winter. As I do, I’ll be putting into practice the procrastination solution I explain below. Read on. It might help you, too!

Happy Writing! Rochelle, the Write Now! Coach

 

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My daughter and I have fallen in love with Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, the new sitcom on Netflix. The story opens with Kimmy being rescued from the underground bunker of a doomsday cult in Indiana. After spending 15 years underground, Kimmy embarks on a new life in New York City. Along the way she offers bits of wisdom from her days in the bunker, including this one from episode two: “You can stand anything for 10 seconds. Then you just start on a new 10 seconds.” Kimmy flashes back to the bunker, where she turned a crank—to no purposeful end—for 10 seconds at a time.

I immediately thought of writing—and all of us who fight to overcome our procrastination habit. I don’t know about you, but I procrastinate at very specific times. I put off writing when I think that the work will be too hard, confront a problem I don’t know how to solve, or worry that I don’t have the skills to complete the task. When that happens, I can’t imagine spending a day or even an hour on the project. I’d rather do almost anything else. But I could manage ten seconds or even five minutes.

In the book Mind Gym by Sebastian Bailey and Octavius Black, the authors recommend that readers overcome procrastination by taking a five-minute start. Tackle a project for five minutes. When your timer beeps, think about how you feel. If you’re up to it, try writing for another five minutes. By taking absurdly small steps, you’ll be able to overcome procrastination and finish your projects.

Write Now! Coach Rochelle Melander is an author, a certified professional coach, and a popular speaker. Melander has written ten books including Write-A-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (And Live to Tell About It). As the Write Now! Coach, she teaches professionals how to write books fast, get published, and connect with readers through social media. Get your free subscription to her Write Now! Tips Ezine at http://www.writenowcoach.com.

 

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Writers@Work: Content–What It Is, What It Does, and Why You Need It by Sarah Schwab

14 April 2015

Note From Rochelle

Dear Writers,

I’m delighted to welcome Sarah Schwab, the content creation coach, to the blog to explain what content is and why you need it. As a writer, you’ve no doubt been hearing a lot about content marketing. Whether you’re hoping to be hired to write content for a corporation or you just want to understand how you can use content to market your book, today’s article will help you. And if you want to learn more, you can join Sarah for a teleseminar tomorrow or in person in Milwaukee on Thursday for a class on why content is still king!

Happy Writing! Rochelle, the Write Now! Coach

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Whether you are a writer, service provider, or entrepreneur, we all have the same goal – attract more readers, clients, or customers. We don’t live in a “build it and they will come” (or “write it and they will buy”) society. We must get the word out and attract people to us.

How do we do that?

The way I see it, there are only 4 functions for any marketing activity that support our goal:

1. Drive traffic

2. Capture leads

3. Nurture leads

4. Convert leads into customers

That’s it. That is the process. For every marketing activity you do, you should be able to identify which of those steps you are contributing toward. If you aren’t sure, it’s time to revisit your strategy.

Content Is 3 Out Of 4

Content plays a critical role in the first three steps in this process. Content marketing is such an incredible tool, and it is the cornerstone of effective online marketing. But it can seem very broad and unclear. It overlaps with many other forms of online marketing, which adds to the confusion. So what exactly qualifies as content marketing?

Well, it’s not as complicated as you might think. First of all, it requires the creation of content that aims to share value and build relationships with your prospective clients. Once you understand what content is and what forms it can take, content marketing is simply the umbrella for all the things you can do with that content.

There are many specific ways that you can use content, and that is where the overlapping and confusion comes in. It’s a little bit like when I was learning about shapes in elementary geometry. I was told that a square is a rectangle, but a rectangle isn’t necessarily a square. The rectangle has a broader definition, while the square is more specific.

In the same way, e-mail marketing can be a form of content marketing, but not all content marketing involves e-mail. Blogging is a form of content marketing, but not all content marketing is about writing a blog. SEO is significantly affected by content marketing, but not all content marketing is about SEO.

Because there are so many faces to content marketing, it can be difficult to know where to start. So, perhaps it is better to think about, not the specific uses for content, but the broader marketing purposes it can serve. 

The ultimate purpose of content is to build relationships with the people who see it. But how you use the content determines what role it will play in your overall marketing plan.

In this sense, there are really only three purposes for content marketing: Drive traffic, capture leads, and nurture leads.

Drive Traffic

The first role that content plays is in increasing traffic to your website and your message.  There are several ways you can use content to serve this purpose. First of all, having a significant amount of content on your site improves your rankings on the search engines. If you are using keywords in your content that people are searching for, your site and articles will show up in their results, driving them to your site.

Another way content can drive traffic is when you post it in other places where there is already a lot of traffic. Posting links to your content pieces on social media sites, popular blog sites, or other networks increases your reach and encourages people to visit your website. This could also happen in the form of partnerships during a launch or marketing campaign, when others encourage their followers to visit your site.

Capture Leads

The second thing that content can do is allow you to capture leads. This happens when you require people to opt-in in order to view your content. While this is a simple idea at its core, there are innumerable ways that you can execute it.

There are many different types of content that can be used for this purpose: e-books or white papers, videos, webinars, teleseminars and more. The opt-in can be something that lives on your website for a long period of time, or it can be part of a launch or shorter term marketing effort, using landing pages and other tools.

This is a critical component of content marketing. Capturing information from your leads is the only way to be able to communicate with your prospective customers and clients who find you online. If you don’t capture their e-mail address, they will disappear and you have no way of building a relationship with them.

These days, you must have a compelling piece of content for which people are willing to exchange their contact information. Not everyone will opt-in for the first thing you create either, so new opt-in campaigns should be built occasionally based on your overall marketing plan. This is where content marketing begins to overlap with e-mail marketing.

Nurture Leads

The final purpose of content marketing is to nurture leads. This is critically important as most people will not be ready to buy from you or hire you when they first encounter you. You need to establish trust and deepen your relationship with them, always moving them closer to the ultimate goal of becoming a paying customer.

This is typically done in the form of e-mail marketing. Sending your prospective customers, whose information you have captured, content pieces that they find helpful, interesting, and valuable. You can nurture leads in other ways as well, but using e-mail marketing in an authentic way is the most efficient and effective way to maintain a relationship with many people.

Hopefully this helps you to think more clearly about what content marketing is and how it can help you grow a business or market a book.

If you’d like to find out more, I’m doing a presentation called “Content Is STILL King.” You can attend the teleseminar, or if you happen to be near Milwaukee, Wisconsin, you can come and see it live. I’d love to have you there!

 

Sarah Portrait smallAbout the author: Sarah Schwab is the Founder and President of Content Creation Coach. She helps small businesses and entrepreneurs to create consistent, compelling content they need to market their business online. She believes in the power of self-expression and creativity to transform her clients’ businesses and lives. Find out more about her approach to online marketing and content creation in her F.R.E.E. report: “Create Content That Connects: Three Mistakes That Are Making Your Content Fall Flat.” Get your report today and find more blog articles like this one at www.contentcreationcoach.com

 

Resources:

To learn more about content marketing writing, check out this post.

To learn more about writing to market your book, read this blog post.

 

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Juggling Timelines in Your Novel by Hallie Ephron

Note From Rochelle

Dear Writers,

Last fall, I had the privilege of attending Mystery Writers of America MWA University. While there, I heard Hallie Ephron speak about Dramatic Structure and Plotting—which changed the way I think about writing fiction. I’ve invited her to the blog to talk about one small aspect of plotting—how to juggle timelines. She demonstrates that skill brilliantly in her brand new suspense novel, Night Night, Sleep Tight.

Happy Writing!

Rochelle, the Write Now! Coach

 

NNSTFinalCoverJuggling Timelines

By Hallie Ephron, New York Times best selling author of Night Night, Sleep Tight

 

I had no idea I was making trouble for myself when I started writing a novel that began by reuniting two characters who haven’t seen each other in twenty years.

In Night Night, Sleep Tight Deirdre Unger and Joelen were fifteen years old the last time they were together on the night when Joelen’s movie star mother’s boyfriend Antonio “Tito” Acevedo was stabbed to death.  They’re reunited twenty years later, soon after Deirdre finds her father floating face down in his swimming pool.

So there’s the story of what happened back in 1963 and the story of what’s happening in the “present” (1985). With two timelines, the storytelling can’t be straightforward. It has to zigzag as events in the present trigger memories from the past.

Writing the back and forths, I got hopelessly mixed up until I hit on a way creating a timeline for both characters, past and present, and lining them up so I could figure out see what each was up to in each one’s parallel universe.

Here’s part of the timeline I created for my novel. The highlighting shows when the characters are together, same time and same place.

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I went on, laying in parallel timelines for 6 other characters, stretching it back to their births and forward to the end of the novel’s timeline.

This was enormously helpful because if I started to write “It had been four years ago that…” I could go to my timeline and see if that was correct. It also helped me dressing and coiffing my characters (torn-neck T shirts and long curly hair ’63-65 after the movie “Flashdance”` came out) and getting my “current” events and cultural references right.

Much of what I wrote down—what was going on in the characters’ timelines—never found its way into the novel. But building a “real” life for each helped me to understand why my characters behaved the way they did on the page.

 

HallieRedCoatRtched4by6About the author. HALLIE EPHRON is the New York Times bestselling author of Night Night, Sleep Tight. She also wrote the Edgar-nominated Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel and is a regular crime fiction book reviewer for the Boston Globe. Night Night, Sleep Tight, is inspired by an infamous murder that took place Beverly Hills when she was growing up there in the ‘60s, surrounded by but never part of Hollywood glamour. The book received a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly (“a captivating thriller”) and the Richmond Times-Dispatch raves, “So hooray for Hollywood, hooray for homicide, and hooray for Hallie Ephron, who begins with a seed of truth and grows it into a bumper crop of crime and cynicism.” Her earlier novels—Never Tell a Lie, Come and Find Me, and There Was an Old Woman—were all finalists for the Mary Higgins Clark Award. Visit her online at: http://HallieEphron.com

 

 

 

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Guest Post: Write Your Bestselling, Client-Attracting Book in a Weekend and Make a Fortune! by Rich van Smarmington

Writers,

I’m delighted to welcome my colleague Rich van Smarmington to the blog. He read Write-A-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (and Live to Tell About It) and told me he could teach you how to write even faster (and make a fortune). So, I’m giving him a shot even though I don’t believe you can write a book in just a weekend. Also, I’ve never made THAT kind of money from my books. But whatever. I hope his program works for you. It hasn’t worked for me. Yet.

Rochelle, the Write Now! Coach

 

file7411252893790Write Your Bestselling, Client-Attracting Book in a Weekend and Make a Fortune!

(No Training, No Work and No Expertise needed!)

by Rich van Smarmington, bestselling author and social media guru

Teaching You How to Do Less and Earn More since 2014

 

Do you dream of quitting your day job? Is writing a book on your bucket list? Do you long to make money by teaching seminars from the comfort of your million-dollar beach house? Now you can. I’ve perfected a process that’s fast, easy, and, best of all, takes no preparation. Here’s how:

1. Get real. Do you really want to drink the horrible office coffee for the rest of your working life? How long are you planning to let your brother-in-law look down his large snout at you just because his luxury car cost more than that piece of crap car you drive to work? And can you face one more high school reunion as the loser you are? Get real about life. You can fix this. And I can show you how.

2. Find your desperados. You’re desperate to make money and be famous, right? Capitalize on that feeling. Find a large group of frantic people and resolve to fix their problem, even if you don’t know how. Take a look at #3 and learn how to find an answer to their dilemma fast.

3. Get expertise. Have you always thought you needed a pesky PhD or years of experience to become an expert? Think again. All you need to do is read one book and you will know more about your topic than 97% of the population. So find a book that will fix your desperados’ problem and read it. And since you only have a weekend, read fast.

4. Write. Now that you’ve read the book, all you have to do is write one of your own. Just make it simpler than the one you read. You only have a weekend, and there’s only so much you can write in a few days, so don’t yammer on. Get to the point. Here’s the outline we use at the Write Your Bestselling, Client-Attracting Book in a Weekend and Make a Fortune Program (WYBCABIAWAMAFP):

Chapter One: Describe your desperados’ problem with a great story. Reel them in with details of how bad it can be. (Use the senses! What does their problem smell like?) Let them know that you can help them. Just don’t tell them how. Yet.

Chapter Two: Talk more about the problem. Make lists of the symptoms of their problem. Tell the stories of how real people who experience these problems feel. List the effects of having this horrible problem.

Chapter Three: Talk about how a solution might be able to relive the stress of experiencing the problem.

Epilogue: Give your readers a taste of the solution. Let them experience just a little of how you can help them solve their horrible problem. Just don’t give them more details. Do let them know that you’ll share all of your secrets at the thousand-dollar seminar and your $10,000 private coaching package.

5. Package it! Slap a shiny cover on that little beauty and get it online. Make sure you list it in a tiny little category that speaks directly to your desperados so that you can own that category and claim the title, “bestselling author.” And put up a squeeze-page site to sell your seminar and coaching package.

Bonus: Now add “bestselling author” to your email signature and every single one of your social media profiles. Talk about yourself incessantly online and offline, and push that coaching program on your desperados. Before the week’s over, you’ll be rich!

 

 

 

 

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Three Surprising Reasons to Write Poetry by Rochelle Melander

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Creativity is intelligence having fun. —Albert Einstein

 

Most of my clients write serious stuff, novels about tough subjects and nonfiction

books with big ideas. Come to think of it, I’m usually writing about the darker parts

of life. That’s why every so often, I like to forget about my big projects and write

poetry, preferably silly poetry.

 

Tomorrow night, in honor of April Fool’s Day and National Poetry Month, I’ll be

teaching a class on Foolish Poetry at the library. We’ll dust off our rhyming

dictionaries and pen limericks. We’ll puzzle out some riddle poems. And we’ll

put together our irrational thoughts in an absurdity poem.

 

I don’t believe anyone should have to justify the time they spend writing

poetry—even silly poetry. But if you worry that writing poetry is a WASTE of

time, here are three reasons to try it:

 

1. You’ll be in good company! Lots of smart people with important day

jobs wrote poetry. Like who?

+Wallace Stevens, a lawyer and vice president of Hartford Accident and

Indemnity Company, wrote several books of poetry including Ideas of Order.

+T.S. Eliot worked in as a clerk in a bank for several years before going on to

work as an editor and professor. He’s the author of many beloved poems, plays

and prose, including, The Waste Land and Journey of the Magi. And of course,

we have him to thank for the hilarious, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats 

(which became the musical Cats).

+William Carlos Williams, author of the wonderful poems The Red Wheelbarrow and

This is Just to Say (and many others), worked as a physician in Rutherford, New Jersey

for forty years.

(For more day jobs of poets, see this awesome comic.)

 

2. Your brain will get a workout. Poetry forces you to communicate complex ideas

with just a few words. I think it was Blaise Pascal who first said, “I would have written

a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.” With poems, writers don’t have the

luxury of multiple chapters to unpack the meaning of love, death, and life. They have

to do it in a few lines or stanzas. On top of that, poetry writers have to fit all of their

ideas into a specific format. The best poets choose words with attention to rhythm,

rhyme and so much more. All of this word play stretches your brain.

 

3. You can work through your emotional baggage. Psychologists have studied

the healing benefits of reading and writing poetry. In fact, there’s even a

National Association for Poetry Therapy. Poetry gives you the opportunity to take

your worst experiences and make sense of them through language. (If you need a

book on this, try Poetic Medicine: The Healing Art of Poem Making by John Fox.)

 

Are you convinced yet? If so, grab a notebook and a pen and play with words.

If you need a little support, try one of the prompts I’m giving to my class

tomorrow night:

 

1. Writing a poem about a made-up illness. Take a look at this wonderful list of

medical prefixes and suffixes online and use it to make up a few diseases like:

Praiseorrhea—what first-time parents do when their children do ANYTHING.

Blabiosis—what my children say I do with my friends.

Scoliology—the study of twisted things

 

2. Write a riddle poem

Here’s one from The Guess Book (c. 1820)

Riddle: The beginning of eternity,

The end of time and space,

The beginning of every end,

And the end of every place.

Answer: The letter e

 

3. Write a limerick.

It doesn’t have to be about a naked lady. Try one about someone who annoys

you or something that puzzles you, like time travel. Here’s a fun one:

There once was a young lady named bright

Whose speed was much faster than light

She set out one day

In a relative way

And returned on the previous night.

- Anonymous

 

Happy Poetry Writing!

 

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How to Find the Perfect Agent by Rochelle Melander

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There was a time in the not-so-distant past when agents were an essential part of achieving success as a writer. That’s no longer true. Today, writers can succeed without an agent by publishing with small presses, connecting with editors directly, or publishing their own books. But for some writing genres (children’s, popular fiction, some nonfiction), it’s still helpful to have an agent to connect with the big publishers and broker a great deal. Here’s my quick guide for finding the right agent.

 

Who is YOUR perfect agent? Look for someone who

+represents books like yours. Most agents have niches or types of books that they represent. If you send your book proposal on the life cycle of seals to an agent who only represents mystery novels, you will get rejected.

+supports you, your career, and your book in a way that works for you. Some agents are interested in supporting clients in developing a writing career. Others deal with one book at a time. As you seek out an agent, it is important to know what kind of support you need from your agent.

+is connected to people in publishing who will buy your book. An agent cannot do anything for you unless he or she is connected to editors in your field. The best agents have developed good relationships with several editors in their niche.

+is willing to negotiate the best contract. Agents get to do what writers cannot do for themselves—fight for more money, both as advance and in royalties.

 

How to find YOUR perfect agent!

1. Make a list of potential agents. It takes time to find an agent who is right for you. Most writers I know feel so desperate to move forward that they will take any agent that says yes. Don’t. It is important to research agents in order to find one that works to you.

+Search online. Both AgentQuery.com (no cost) and WritersMarket.com (yearly fee) offer online search tools for agents. Writers can search for agents according to the types of books they represent.

+Check acknowledgments. Most writers thank their agents in the acknowledgments. Look at books that are in your niche or writers who are similar to you and find out who agented their books.

+Ask. Talk to your critique group colleagues and other writing friends about their agents. Most writers are willing to share the name of their agents. Some will even introduce you to them.

 

2. Get to know the agents on your list. Before you query, learn as much as you can about the agents you’re interested in. You can figure out a lot about who an agent is, how they work, and what they’re looking for without ever talking to one.

+Visit their website or blog (or both).

+Follow them on Twitter.

+Search for information about them online.

+Attend conferences where they speak.

 

3. Connect and submit!

Once you’ve learned what agents you want to connect with, write the best query letter and synopsis or book proposal you can. Then, submit! Of course, the best way to query is to send letters to agents who are ready to welcome your queries. Usually, these are agents you’ve met through:

+A writing conference

+PitMad (A pitch party on twitter. http://www.brenda-drake.com/pitmad/)

+A mentor, colleague, or friend

Happy hunting, friends!

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