Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Blogging learning curve’

Cheri’s Note: This was an uplifting and inspirational way to end another great WD conference!

The Drive to Write–Chris Baty, Founder of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo); author of No Plot, No Novel and Ready, Set, Novel

NaNoWriMo: Writers sign up to write a 50K word novel, from scratch, during the month of November each year. Baty and a few friends first experimented with the idea in 1999 (a total of 6 people). By 2000, 130 writers participated. In 2011, there were 300,000 participants in 33 countries. Six years ago, NaNoWriMo became a non-profit in Berkeley, CA, with a staff of seven. On Friday, January 20, Chris left the organization. On Monday the 22nd, he began his new job as a full time writer.  He explained his decision to make this change with this quote: “A ship in harbor is safe–but that is not what ships are built for.” –John A. Shedd, Salt from My Attic, 1928.

Baty said that a common trait in others who’ve left the shore is the drive to write. Something else they share in common–they’ve all packed the same four things:

  1. An established deadline.  Set a deadline and then share that date with someone (even a newly met stranger). Ask that person to hold you accountable for that deadline commitment. And don’t ask just one person. Invite several people to hold you accountable.
  2. Momentum. “A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” –Thomas Mann, German writer. “Objects in motion tend to stay in motion. Objects at rest tend to stay at rest.” –Isaac Newton. Even if you don’t start out writing every day, commit to opening the document every day. That single motion of opening the document will automatically begin to expand and lead to writing.
  3. An appreciation for messes. Writers need to make as many messes as possible in both the writing and the business levels of this endeavor. Fumbling in the dark, on and off the page, is part of the process. The only way we can better ourselves is to make mistakes–trying and failing first.
  4. Faith. Faith that “our books don’t suck.” That we’re getting better as writers. That our work will eventually mean something. The world holds a lot of surprises–and success is often closer than we know.

If we give ourselves permission to take this crazy path, we have the power to accomplish unimaginable things. Baty says he’s watched hundreds of thousands of people write a book in one month that they didn’t even know they had in them when they started. That’s quite impressive and unimaginable. And we each have the power to do such things.

He offered to have faith for us, on our behalf, believing in our possibilities, because he’s seen them firsthand.

Cheri’s Note: As I said earlier, this was quite a moving and inspirational presentation, and the perfect closing for this conference!

And this concludes my series of summaries on the sessions I attended. But this exercise in sharing has accomplished something unexpected. One of my goals for 2012, as I complete and rebound from the chemo, is to get back to a more frequent and predictable blogging rhythm. Very much in tune with Chris Baty’s “objects in motion tend to stay in motion” point, my need to get these summaries out to you has put me on a daily blogging cycle that I’m hoping to sustain–unexpectedly meeting one goal by accomplishing another. And that, after all, seems to be the story of a writer’s life.

Wishing you all a happy, productive day!

Read Full Post »

My 2011 stat report for this blog are posted unedited below. They are interesting and point out for me lots of room for improvement, which will get underway shortly. Meanwhile, my heartfelt thanks and a hearty Happy New Year go out to each of you who are represented in the stat report because of your continuing support, interest, and encouragement. I am deeply grateful for your presence and comments, and I wish you the greatest of success with your own dreams in 2012!
———————————————————————————–

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,700 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 45 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Read Full Post »

Hi! Well, Saturday I had my big surgery at Sloan-Kettering for endometrial cancer–my third primary cancer in sixteen months. (Nope. No idea why this phenomenon is happening yet, but you can be sure this is going to turn into another book!)

At any rate, the surgery (a modified radical hysterectomy) was performed laproscopically using robots, and I was literally upside down for the entire six hours. My face, needless to say, was sort of swollen afterward, but I’m pretty much back to normal now. The technology and skill they used defies description!

Late this afternoon I’ll be going home already, and then I’ll start preparing for the chemotherapy portion of this journey. Much of my energy will be focused on my writing during that time, so there shouldn’t be any excuses for my not finishing a couple of books by spring.

Just wanted to keep you updated, as promised. More when I’m back in my home base.

All the best to each of you.

Cheri

Read Full Post »

Hi! Well, I’ve had one heck of a time getting onto this blog today as I promised I would. First, the wireless connection specifically set up for the conference had some “technical difficulties,” and won’t be live until tomorrow morning (Saturday) at 6 a.m. Then, the room where all the opening sessions were held this afternoon did not get 3G reception–and, of course, I have my new iPad with me, which operates on either 3G or wireless. Finally, there was a “tweet-up” at a club about a block away from the hotel from 7:30-10:00 were I was able to finally get a wireless connection, but for some unknown and highly irritating reason, the iPad wasn’t letting me key in anything except the post’s title (which I ended up publishing just to let you know that I was trying to get to you …)

Otherwise, this has been a great day! For those of you who are long-time followers, you know how significant the first Writer’s Digest Conference was for me in September 2009 (see my blog launch posting on November 4,2009). Consequently, I have been anxiously awaiting this second conference for the last year and a half–and I don’t think I’m going to be disappointed.

Since I couldn’t get online for the first three sessions, I took notes in the iPad Notes sections and will summarize those for you tomorrow. And hopefully I’ll be able to capture the rest of the sessions as they happen, as promised. Meanwhile, the big deal tomorrow afternoon will be the Pitch Slam where 55 agents will be arranged for us to each have three minutes with as many of them as we can squeeze in to pitch our books/manuscripts/ideas. I’m going to pitch Separation of Faith and will report on my immediate reactions and feedback.

Lots of eye-opening stuff has already been presented and discussed, with plenty of time allowed for our questions. (There are about 450 of us in attendance here.) The publishing industry is changing daily and is now ready to entertain just about any version of the Dream we want to pursue. And quality self-published books are now viewed as far more of a valuable commodity than even two years ago. POD (print on demand) is a business tool now being utilized by the remaining twelve major mainstream publishing houses for traditionally published books. And ebooks are the monster eating everything up at the moment. According to Richard Curtis–longtime literary agent and book publisher (he has his own ebook publishing company)–ebook piracy is poisoning the entire ebook business. He looks for government regulation and stiff penalties to start showing up in the near future. That little bit of information was sort of scary.

Logistically, the Sheraton where we’re staying is on the corner of 7th Avenue and 53rd Street in the heart of midtown Manhattan. Unfortunately, the temperature is hovering around 10 degrees without the wind chill factored. Otherwise, I’d be out walking around this amazing city that I love so much.

Well, I’m going to sign off for the night and will keep my fingers crossed that the conference’s wireless connection is up and runnning by morning. I want to make sure you don’t miss anything.

If you’re a Twitter person, you can follow a lot of the dialogue through #wdc11. Talk to you soon.

Read Full Post »

Since posting stats to track progress (or the lack thereof) has always been an important part of this blog, I thought I’d share this new report that just arrived from WordPress regarding the first full year of “the Journey.” Sort of interesting, to say the least … and not too bad, although there’s much I hope to improve upon in 2011!

—————————————————————————- 

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

We think you did great!

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 3,500 times in 2010. That’s about 8 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 78 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 87 posts. There were 71 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 93mb. That’s about 1 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was April 22nd with 97 views. The most popular post that day was About.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were WordPress Dashboard, facebook.com, ewritersrus.com, en.wordpress.com, and mail.live.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for cheri laser, cheri laser blog, laser blog, a journey obscurity to somewhere else, and ‘cheri laser”.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

About November 2009
31 comments

2

About Separation of Faith August 2010

3

Journey from Publishing Obscurity November 2009
38 comments

4

#65–Separation of Faith Officially Launched (for Real This Time)! September 2010
2 comments

5

78–Writer’s Digest Conference Open for Registration! October 2010
6 comments

Some of your most popular posts were written before 2010. Your writing has staying power! Consider writing about those topics again.

Read Full Post »

First, I’m Late …

Hi! My apologies for not being around very much over the past few weeks. This blog’s first anniversary was on November 4, and I had planned to publish this post on that day. However, another unexpected medical situation arose in late September and then accelerated through October. Long story short, I was in surgery again on November 3 and wasn’t able to work for the next several days. During that time, things piled up … and, well, here we are. This new medical “thing” is unrelated to the breast cancer, which is going to be fine. But there will be some sort of further “something” required to totally flatten this new one, and I’m supposed to know what that “something” is by the 19th.

Meanwhile, I’m celebrating the first anniversary of this blog in a number of ways. Right off the top, I’ve added a blog roll to the site where I’ve listed the blog/Web site addresses for all of the wonderful acquaintances I’ve made over the last year. Everyone on that list is going after the same dream in one way or another, and re-reading the comments from everyone has been fascinating and heartwarming at the same time. I can’t believe how many lives have intersected with mine over twelve months through this medium, and I’m unbelievably grateful for each one!

Another way that I’m celebrating the blog’s first anniversary is by reflecting on the original mission (established in the November 4, 2009 Blog Launch Posting). There were several goals:

  1. Complete and publish my second novel, Separation of Faith, and that objective was gloriously met in mid September (a little behind the original schedule, but met nonetheless).
  2. Completely re-edit my first novel, The Truth About Cinnamon, and then publish the shiny new Second Edition. We’re about two weeks away from the fulfillment of that objective. All of the edits and reviews are complete, so we’re just waiting for the book to go live everywhere. I’ll let you know the moment that happens.
  3. Share through the blog all of the steps involved to accomplish the first two objectives, including the things that went wrong as well as the things that went smoothly. (And some of those steps where things went wrong turned into full-blown stories themselves, if you have time to check out the posts sequentially.) Throughout the process, the subject of editing and the critical importance of that element emerged as a fourth goal.
  4. Ensure the highest quality possible in terms of both editing and writing, especially for Separation of Faith. After a huge amount of effort and about five additional months that I hadn’t calculated in the plan, that second novel earned the Editor’s Choice designation from my publisher (iUniverse), a level achieved by fewer than 10% of books they publish. The Second Edition of The Truth About Cinnamon wasn’t submitted to as much rigor, but I cut out 20,000 words and tightened things up substantially without changing any of the original story.
  5. Share tips, articles, other bloggers’ posts, and any relevant/interesting information I might come acoss to help fellow writers on the same path. Toward the end of this anniversary post, there will be another list of things to share that I’ve been collecting.

Highlights

As I was reviewing the November 4, 2009 post, several points and passages stood out as being major reasons behind my starting this whole thing in the first place:

  1. I was close to finishing my second novel, but I had no idea which publishing direction I wanted to pursue. Then I attended the first annual Writer’s Digest Conference in September 2009 where the realities of the publishing world today were painted very graphically for us. (All of that is covered in detail in the November 4, 2009 lauch posting.)
  2. In the opening address of the conference, the speaker (Mike Shatzkin) told us that, in today’s publishing environment, our books, no matter how fabulous, are completely irrelevant if we don’t already have a clearly defined platform and a foundational readership/following in place before we ever submit a query letter. In the same address, Shatzkin also let us in on a little secret: The first thing that happens now in the agent’s/editor’s office is that someone (a staffer, most likely) Googles the name of the writer sending the query letter. If nothing shows up that demonstrates some sort of following or platform already in place–one that’s relevant to the author and the book being queried–a rejection letter/postcard is generally sent out immediately, with no further exploration of the writer’s actual writing. WELL … since I was one of those writers who’d been resisting the all-time-consuming entry in the land of social media, the fact that I had a problem was rather obvious–thus the launch of this blog and everything else that’s happened over the last year, all chronicled herein for the perusal of interested parties.

As an aside–and as I mentioned in a posting a couple of weeks ago–the second Writer’s Digest convention is happening in January (21st-23rd). If you’re only going to attend one conference in your life (or if you haven’t been to one in awhile), this is the one. Check out the details at: http://www.writersdigest.com/conferences-events/. If you decide to attend, let me know. I’d love to connect with you while we’re there!

How’s Separation of Faith Doing?

Great, I think (especially since I’ve had two major surgeries in the seven weeks since the novel was released). Amazon rankings go up and down. (I can follow them hourly on my Amazon author site, but that can really drive a person nuts, so I don’t do that anymore.) I won’t know the exact number of books sold for awhile, since all I get at the moment are rankings, and I won’t receive my first royalty statement until the end of this quarter. But the reviews coming in, from both individuals and review sites, are all wonderful. If you haven’t been there yet, I invite you to check those reviews out at http://www.amazon.com/Separation-Faith-Novel-Cheri-Laser/dp/1450232183/ref=tmm_hrd_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1289665738&sr=1-1.

At first, the hard cover was outselling the paperback, and then that reversed. So far, the best ranking has been 60,963 for the paperback at 2:00 pm on October 31. And to show you how fast the numbers can change, the hard cover had crept up to 1,707,759 on the morning of November 9. But at 3:30 that afternoon when I checked again, the hard cover was at 152,959. I don’t know yet how many books that represented, but the change was stunning (and very exciting).

One of the things I’ve learned in the last seven weeks of promotion is that if I don’t prime the pump every single day through some combination of activities–blogging, tweeting, Facebooking, tag surfing, etc.–absolutely nothing–zip, zero, nada–happens. And since we’re all responsible these days for the promotion of our books, regardless of whether we publish traditionally or otherwise, building that sales record is a huge challenge.

There is supposedly a point–if we’re putting a great story out there that’s meticulously edited, and if we’re promoting that book in some fashion seven days a week–where the momentum will become somewhat self-propelling, at least for awhile. But everything I’ve read and heard from the experts says that a minimum of six to eight months of concerted effort (and probably longer) is required before any sort of buzz can become self-sustaining for any period of time.

So, we march forward! Things like this posting by Glenda Bixler (a reviewer) on Facebook today can be incredibly uplifting when you start thinking that you’re never going to get “there”: http://gabixlerreviews-bookreadersheaven.blogspot.com/2010/11/cheri-lases-latest-is-separation-of.html.

When I look back through all the postings on this blog over the last year, though, I realize that an enormous amount has been accomplished, and I’m very grateful to be where I am (which is a millenium further than I was when I walked into that 2009 Writer’s Digest conference).

Some Information to Share with You

I’ve been accumulating these links for a few months now. Because, in addition to promoting Separation of Faith, bringing out a new edition of The Truth About Cinnamon, and being stuck in a surgical revolving door, I’m also trying to get started on my third novel, I’m drawn more to articles about writing now than I am to those about publishing and promoting, for the moment anyway. And I realized that I’d unknowingly been collecting lists, which I’m putting in numerical order for you, just for fun. Hopefully, one, some, or all of these links will prove useful to you as well:

  1. Five questions to ask yourself before you start revising: http://elanajohnson.blogspot.com/2010/08/questions-to-ask-yourself-before-you.html.
  2. Six personality types who will succeed as writers: http://victoriamixon.com/2010/07/13/6-personality-types-who-will-succeed-as-writers/.
  3. The ten commandments of fiction writing: http://www.writersdigest.com/article/The_10_Commandments_of_Fiction_Writing/.
  4. Janet Fitch’s 10 rules for writers: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/jacketcopy/2010/07/janet-fitchs-10-rules-for-writers.html.
  5. 11 plot pitfalls and how to rescue your story from them: http://www.writersdigest.com/article/rescue-your-story-from-plot-pitfalls/.
  6. 12 dos and don’ts for making the first page of your novel more compelling: http://bloodredpencil.blogspot.com/2010/08/act-first-explain-later.html.
  7. Secret emotional triggers for your writing: http://blog.writersdigest.com/norules/2010/07/18/SecretEmotionalTriggersForYourWritingCapitolCityWritersRecap.aspx.
  8. You can learn as much from writing friends as writing experts: http://blog.writersdigest.com/norules/2010/08/24/YouCanLearnAsMuchFromWritingFriendsAsWritingExperts.aspx.
  9. How to write the ending of your novel: http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2010/08/09/how-to-write-the-ending/.

Then, because the editing of our books is so unbelievably important (poor or inadequate editing will eliminate a book from contests and consideration by agents/editors, and will cause readers to put the book down, just to name a few things that will happen), I’m including a couple of links to articles about editing:

  1. The myth of the evil editor: http://accrispin.blogspot.com/2010/07/myth-of-evil-editor.html.
  2. A 4th of July lesson in the value of editors: http://writingfordigital.com/2010/07/04/a-fourth-of-july-lesson-in-the-value-of-editors/.

And lastly, for those of us intent on pursuing the traditional publishing path through agents and editors, here are two enlightening links:

  1. What writers wish they’d known before pitching: http://blog.writersdigest.com/norules/2010/07/29/WhatWritersWishTheydKnownBeforePitching.aspx.
  2. How to ensure 75% of agents will request your material:  http://blog.writersdigest.com/norules/2010/08/16/HowToEnsure75OfAgentsWillRequestYourMaterial.aspx.

Hopefully, you’ll find these tips as interesting and useful as I did/do/will.

In Closing

As I wrap up this first anniversary blog posting, I want to thank everyone I’ve encountered over the last year for the wealth of information and the generosity of spirit I’ve come to know in the writing community. As significant as this year has been, I have great hope that the next year will be even better for each of us. And I’d like to close with the last passage from my November 4, 2009 blog launch posting:

“I believe very strongly that there’s enough room in this dream for all of us, but we need to get our arms around the realities of the publishing world and then take control of our own destinies. Here’s to the journey!”

Have a great weekend. I’ll look forward to talking with you soon.

Read Full Post »

URGENT: Update on Separation of Faith/Newly Designed Blog/Etc.

Hi, everybody! Sorry I’ve been a little awol, but I had an unexpected stay in the hospital last week for three days preceded by the infection and fever that had me out of commission for five days prior to being admitted. I’m fine now–just a little bump in the reconstruction process.

Meanwhile, lots of things started happening ahead of schedule and have sort of launched Separation of Faith a smidge prematurely. (But at least you’re all getting to see the cover now … 🙂 …) The social media group at the publisher developed the new blog site, which is supposed to be secondary to my standard “Journey from Publishing Obscurity” site. I’ll be straightening that out on Monday.

Also, since we had to pull the book back briefly (see blog post #57), Separation of Faith is not actually available yet–and consequently, this new blog site should have been held back as well. I’ll also be straightening that out on Monday.

In short, we’re almost there–and I’m deeply grateful for the excitement I saw from several of you once this new site hit the air waves. I do apologize, however, for your need to put the horse back in the gate for just a little while longer. The updated galley for Separation of Faith should be in my hands this coming week, I hope, and assuming all is well, the title should go live again shortly thereafter. I’ll post at least a sentence or two daily to keep you current.

Last November I promised to share everything that happens on this Journey–the good, bad, and the ugly–and this little situation is sort of a real-time issue that I will be unwinding before your very eyes. 🙂

Meanwhile, since there’s lots of information available on this new site now about Separation of Faith, I welcome any comments and input regarding your first impressions, the cover, etc.

Hurray! The Truth About Cinnamon Reduction Edit Is Complete–At Last!

Those of you who’ve been following this Journey will know how monumental these words are: Last night at 10:30 I emailed the edited Cinnamon manuscript along with cover updates to the publisher! Honestly, I was beginning to think that this part of the Plan was never going to be finished. Last week while I was in the hospital, I worked many hours on the edit, simply because there wasn’t much else I could do there while lying there on IV antibiotics. All I can say now is, “Thank God that part is over!” (The edit as well as the antibiotics.)

Once the new version of Cinnamon goes into production, the original version will become a First Edition and will no longer be available on Amazon, etc. Hopefully the Second Edition will become available by the official (the way it’s supposed to happen) launch of Separation of Faith in September.

I will keep you posted. Meanwhile, if you’d like to secure a First Edition copy, you can still do so through Amazon, etc., or directly through the bookstore on my Web site (www.cherilaser.com) where you can also request a customized autograph.

Sorry Again for Any Mixups/Confusion about Separation of Faith

This was one moment in time when dealing with breast cancer and trying to bring out a new book didn’t gel very smoothly. Hopefully, order will be re-established early this coming week.

Thanks so much again for hanging in there and for being excited. You’re going to love the video book trailer, which will be ready very shortly and then linked into everything as soon as the title becomes live again (I will post when that happens).

Here Are a Couple of Interesting Links I Found While in the Hospital. Hope There’s Something of Value/Inspiration for You!

Take Care & Have a Terrific Weekend!

Read Full Post »

Checking In

Hi! Although I’ve been commenting on other blogs and doing a little tag surfing, I haven’t published a new post since a week ago yesterday. But I have been doing a huge amount of reading, and there are a number of things I want to share with you today. First, though …

Copyedit Update–Separation of Faith

On Monday (the 12th), I received the copyedited manuscript (returned to me electronically, with the edit done using Word’s edit tracking) and a letter from the editor. This edit is a lot easier to manage since the issues highlighted are no longer addressing structural issues in the novel, or point of view, or any other storytelling elements. Instead, the editor went line by line to ensure the manuscript’s adherence to publishing standards printed in key references such as The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS), the primary source of correctness for publishing professionals.

My own (and seemingly endless) editing of the manuscript had produced a fairly clean copy. But my specialty is developmental editing rather than copyediting. I wouldn’t even pretend to have anywhere near the level of knowledge and recall as this copyeditor with respect to what’s inside the nearly 1000 pages of the CMS. So I’m finding the review of her edit to be extremely valuable in terms of this novel’s quality. My future writing will also benefit from the new information I’m picking up.

In addition to CMS issues, the copyeditor rearranged my words in a few places to either meet a standard or provide clarity. And in her letter to me, she pointed out a small but important plot “hole” that can easily be filled by my adding a few sentences.

She’s the first one who’s noticed that little plot blip, and I’m very grateful that she did. Some voracious fiction reader (or perhaps a lot of them) would certainly have noticed the issue as well, but that would have been after the book was printed, and nothing could have been done at that point to fix the problem. Just one more reason why we need to submit our work to an experienced, professional editor before we start sending things out through queries or moving into the final production stage of a self-publishing process.

Here are several examples of the comments she made in the manuscript margins using Word’s edit-tracking:

  • CMS 8.21: Civil, military, religious, and professional titles are capitalized when they immediately precede a personal name and are thus used as part of the name (usually replacing the title holder’s first name). Titles are normally lowercased when following a name or used in place of a name.
  • Switched [these words] around to avoid passive construction.
  • A word, abbreviation, phrase, or clause that is in apposition to a noun is set off by commas if it is nonrestrictive—that is, omittable, containing supplementary rather than essential information. If it is restrictive—essential to the noun it belongs to—no commas should appear. CMS 6.43 My older sister, Betty, taught me the alphabet. but My sister Enid lets me hold her doll. (I have two sisters.)
  • CMS 7.63: Individual letters and combinations of letters of the Latin alphabet are usually italicized. I need a word with two e’s and three s’s. He signed the document with an X.

Traditional publishers (who will be taking a look at this book if this Journey is successful) put every single one of their titles through this sort of meticulous copyediting. Consequently, they not only understand the importance, but they recognize the quality level of the editing the moment they see it.  So we need to do everything in our power to make sure that our manuscripts (if we’re trying to pursue the traditional route) or our printed books (if we’re taking an alternate path) measure up to the standards expected in the traditional publishing arena.

Once Separation of Faith is in the final stage of production, I realize now that I will also need to use a professional proofreader prior to signing off on the end product. Traditional publishers put their titles through several rounds of proofreading before the book is printed–and as we all know through our own reading, there are still typos and other mistakes that manage to show up in books by even the most prolific and highly paid authors.

As I’ve been saying since I began blogging about the steps of this Journey last November 4, the first priority for all of us is to create the highest quality book possible, regardless of what that takes.

Writing Competition

Entering our work in competitions is a great way to collect feedback, grow in our writing craft, get noticed, and add to our following. And there are boatloads of competitions out there. But Writer’s Digest sponsors several that have a high level of legitimacy. They have one that includes a wide variety of writing categories, and the deadline for that competition is May 14. Here’s the link that will also show you WD‘s other contest:  http://www.writersdigest.com/competitions. Hope you find something that inspires you. (See later in this post for more on Inspiration.)

Building a Following/Web Presence before You Have a Book

There is so much more being written on this subject every day that keeping up with everything is tough. But here are a couple of links to articles/blogs that I found of particular interest while reading the past week:

  • http://robinmizell.wordpress.com/2010/04/10/awp-panel-discussions-and-lesprit-descalier/ I found this comment by Ms. Mizell to be especially interesting: “In considering whether to work with authors, I prefer to see they’re already capable of handling themselves in what can be contentious online conversations. Without an existing Web presence to examine, I can’t rapidly assess how a writer will behave publicly, online, or in an interview, particularly in the heat of the moment. My clients need to be better at it than I am!”
  • http://www.calebjross.com/awpblog/2010/04/08/320/ At the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Annual Convention earlier this week, a panel of agents and editors answered questions about the importance of an author platform. This link takes you to a summary of that panel.

A Few Other Highlights

These are links to articles that touch on other issues we’ve discussed through this blog:

Journey Update

Separation of Faith: As soon as I go through the copyedit and accept/reject each of the changes/notations, the manuscript will finally enter the production phase. I’ll let you know when that long-awaited moment arrives. (You’ll probably be able to hear the cork pop!)

The Truth About Cinnamon: News flash! I’m still working on the reduction edit. Target for completion now: late May. 

Stats: This blog–1947 (last posting 1796)

Diagnosis Update

My surgery will be on May 4, and I’ll be in the hospital overnight. I sense a new use for my mini coming on … 🙂

Seriously, this has been found very early, and even though the next couple of months will be a bit bumpy, the prognosis is extremely positive, taking me way out into my 80’s. Hopefully, I will have found my way out of publishing obscurity by then …

Have a great weekend! I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

Read Full Post »

Reading Update

Last night I did a lot of catch-up reading on all sorts of writing information I’ve come across over the last week. Not only did I find a bunch of stuff that I think will be of use or interest to you, but my to-do list has expanded considerably. So, thank you very much to me for all the extra work I’ve added to myself … 🙂 Hopefully those new tasks will help you as well as I chronicle them in this blog, learning as I go.

Giving Stuff Away for Free

Because I spent ten weeks posting a free chapter per week from my first novel, The Truth About Cinnamon (http://www.filedby.com/author/cheri_laser/2721580/documents/24081497/), an article titled “Giving it away for free: Obscurity vs. Making Money as a Writer” caught my attention immediately.

Pros and cons are listed in both the post and the comments. Let me know what you think: http://www.bradsreader.com/2010/03/giving-it-away-for-free-obscurity-vs-making-money-as-a-writer/.

If You Love a Little Controversy … 🙂

Since the whole experiment of this blog is to see if a high quality, meticulously edited, self-published novel can get the attention of traditional publishers, the article “Self-Publishing Pro and Con(temptuous)” jumped right off the page into my lap. And since I’ve already had a number of conversations with some of you on the subject, here’s another perspective. And the blog by Alan Rinzler (referenced in my post #30 on March 19) is also addressed again in the article.

If you check this one out, please read all of the comments as well to get the full picture being presented: http://www.thebookdesigner.com/2010/03/self-publishing-pro-and-contemptuous/.

Using Video as Part of the Book’s Promo

I’ve been thinking a lot about this subject because I will soon need some sort of trailer for Separation of Faithand I have absolutely no clue how to do one. I also have a video of a television interview done with me at a small, regional Connecticut TV station after The Truth About Cinnamon was released. There’s undoubtedly a way to fit that interview video into my plan as well, to help people find out who I am.

So the article titled “7 Reasons Why Writers Need To Start Using Video For Book Promotion” could not have been more timely. Not only did I pick up some great ideas, but I began considering which of my tech guru friends I can tap for assistance (in return for a case of beer or something … 🙂 …)

I might start experimenting soon with the interview video that I already have, maybe posting it here in my blog or on my FiledBy site (where I have the free chapters of Cinnamon). I also have a slick webcam on my mini, and the article said that YouTube has a recording site where you can create your own videos using your webcam.

This is where some of that extra work I mentioned at the beginning of my post is coming from. But I’m getting sort of excited about this video thing–especially if I can find yet another use for my mini.

Take a look at the article if you have a minute:  http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2010/03/08/7-reasons-why-writers-need-to-start-using-video-for-book-promotion/. And I’d love to hear about any of your own rookie experiences with the video element of this dream journey.

Your Own Writing Retreat

Here’s one I almost forgot to include. Several of you have commented on the difficulty of finding time for our writing as we juggle families, jobs, and life in general. So this article, “Create Your Own Mini-Writing Retreat,” might inspire some ideas: http://writersdigest.com/article/Do-It-Yourself-Writing-Retreats/?print=1.

I also discovered several other links on the subject by Googling “Create Your Own Writing Retreat.” I guess lots of us are in search of solutions to this dilemma.

Editing Update

Separation of Faith is still undergoing the copyedit at the publisher. I probably won’t see those results for another two or three weeks, so I’ll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, I have a client who’s asked me to edit two more books for him. Actually, one of the books is by his daughter, who is twelve and has already written a novel! I know! How can that be possible? I did a development edit on her book last August, and she is so tenacious that she’s now coming back for more. I’m so impressed with her! Not only impressed with her writing skill, which is quite amazing for one so young, but also with her drive, her courage about seeking input, and her willingness to write beyond her own personal experiences. When I was twelve, I was writing short stories but never even considered writing a whole book! The idea of doing research to fill in the blanks for things I hadn’t yet experienced hadn’t crossed my mind at that point.

I’ll let you know when this young lady becomes famous.

After I finish the edit for her, I need to get busy again with the reduction edit on The Truth About Cinnamon. Every time I turn around, something else seems to be getting in the way of that. So the moment has come to get firm and stay focused. (Of course, I also have to do my taxes and my dad’s before the 15th. Oh brother.)

Health Update

My appointment with the surgeon is on the 14th in Manhattan. I will, of course, be taking my mini. Not sure if I’ll be working on my book, my client’s book, or my taxes–but with the mini on hand at that sort of appointment, I’m surely going to be working on something.

Meanwhile, I’m too busy to worry about the details of the diagnosis. After receiving a copy of the pathology report, I took a half day to do research on the various facts and options. But I won’t really know the whole story until I see that surgeon. So I’m not allowing myself to fret too much until then.

Stats

Hits on this blog: 1796 (1625 at last report). Definitely moving in the right direction!

Take care. Hope to see you while I’m tag surfing over the next few days.

Cheri

Read Full Post »

Cinnamon Serialization Update

Sorry I didn’t post yesterday. Here’s one of the reasons for the delay:

Now that I’ve published 10 free chapters of The Truth About Cinnamon (when the original plan was to only publish 7), I’m going to take a break from that process for a little while. The 1-2 hours of time required to prepare each chapter every week is time I want to start devoting to my blog instead, at least for the moment. This is especially true since I’m not sure how many readers are actually reading the free serialized issues.

If anyone is out there, however, who’s been getting into the story, has finished all 10 chapters, and is clamoring for more, please do let me know. At that point, I’ll publish #11.

Paid Speaking Gig

My first paid speaking engagement was very well-received last Friday, and I had a fabulous time while meeting another room full of terrific people. The experience would have been fulfilling enough if that was the end of the story, but I also sold five copies of The Truth About Cinnamon while I was there. In addition, the majority of people in the audience said that they want to receive the press release for Separation of Faith when the time comes later this spring.

The day was a good one!

Making “a Living” from Our Writing

A few of you have been commenting this week on the difficult prospects for making even a marginal living from our writing. And I’ve been saying that there’s some truth to that concern for most of us who aren’t yet prolific celebrity authors.

But when you expand your thinking about “making a living” to include things like speaking engagements, advertisements on our websites and blogs, interviews for which we might be paid, and other avenues that are limited only by our imaginations, the money starts to add up.

The key, of course, as I’ve said so many times in this blog, is to first make sure we’re creating something of the highest quality possible. We need to be well-educated in all the basics and nuances of our craft, and we need to seek a lot of input, turning our work over to beta readers and professional editors for their critiques. Then we have to be open to the issues presented in those critiques, open and willing to invest the necessary time to make changes.

Once we have a product of the highest quality, a world of possibilities for making a living–with that product as a base–will open up to us. And making a living from our writing only begins with the royalties, if we’re inventive and creative enough to take some chances.

I’ll be on the lookout for articles that I can share with you on this subject.

Conquering “It”

Speaking of producing a quality product and mastering the elements of our craft, I’d like to spend a moment on an issue that surfaces with great frequency when I’m wearing my editor’s hat. That issue is the word “it.” If I had a dollar for every “it” I’ve seen in manuscripts, I wouldn’t need to worry about making a living.

Here are the two main problems with “it”:

  1. “It” doesn’t actually say anything or paint any pictures for the reader.
  2. A whole bunch of us, through sheer habit and an absence of awareness, overuse the word “it” to the point where what we’re trying to say/explain, or the imagery we’re trying to create, becomes completely diluted.

As an experiment, go to the beginning of whatever project you’re currently writing and do a Find function on the word “it” (making sure you specify that you’re looking for the whole word). Each time you click on Find Next, highlight the word “it” that pops up, excluding any “it” that shows up in a direct quote or in dialogue. Direct quotes can’t be changed, of course, and “it” in dialogue is okay because that’s the way people actually talk. The target should be “it” in any narrative.

You can do this experiement for as many pages/chapters as you like, and I promise you that you will be absolutely astonished at what you discover. You’ll have highlights all over the place!

The next task is to go back to the beginning and challenge yourself to rewrite every sentence containing “it” so that the sentence no longer contains “it.” What you will experience is the transformation of your writing from something that’s flat and uni-dimensional into something that’s three-dimensional and that creates vivid, living imagery.

For example (and I’m just making these up as I go):

  • He was riding the horse, and it was extremely uncomfortable.

What was uncomfortable? The horse? The saddle? The bumpy leather on the saddle? The fact that there wasn’t any saddle but just the horse’s back? Can you see how “it” doesn’t say anything at all to the reader?

  • It was a winter night.

Where’s the picture? The imagery? How about something like: By eight o’clock that night, the temperature had dropped into the teens, and the icy white streets had become treacherous. You don’t even need to say the word “winter,” because the words used paint the picture for the reader.

And that’s what our words are supposed to do. As the paint and brush are to the artist’s canvas, so are a writer’s words to the page. “It” is empty and colorless. Leave the word (and I use that term loosely here) out of your narrative writing. 

Again, I just made up these examples, but you’ll find plenty of your own if you do the Find exercise. Believe me, I did many years ago–and the shock from what I discovered in my writing led to this issue being one of my biggest hot buttons as an editor.

If you have a minute, let me know what your experiments produce.

A Few Other Relevant Links

In my reading of late, I’ve run across a number of topics that are relevant to comments you’ve made, or to topics in my posts. Here are a couple of those that I thought might be helpful to you:

I’ll include references for you more in my next post.

Plan Update and Stats

The post-editorial review revised manuscript for Separation of Faith is currently with the publisher, undergoing the second editorial review. Stay tuned for the news on those results …

As soon as I finish this posting, I’m going to work on the reduction edit for The Truth About Cinnamon. Finally reaching the point where I can focus on that part of the plan is a great relief!

Regarding the Stats, this last week has been very interesting, particularly with respect to this blog:

  • Hits on this blog: 1405 (1255 on March 2). This is a jump of 150, fueled by the 80 hits on Thursday, March 4. I’m trying to figure out what I did on that day so I can do the same thing again … 🙂 … Let me know if you have any ideas on that front.
  • Hits on my website: 35,922 (35,795 on March 2). The jump of 127 is good but not as good as the 137 the previous week. Of course, until I get my next royalty statement, I won’t know how the increase in website traffic correlates to any increase increase in Cinnamon sales. You’ll be the first to know.
  • As I mentioned last week, I’m not going to stress myself out with the Amazon ranking until the 2nd Edition of Cinnamon comes out (although I might take a peek periodically …)

Moving Forward–And I’m Beginning to Actually Feel the Movement

This blog was launched four months ago last Thursday. (Oh! Maybe that was one of the reasons behind the 80 hits …?)

Since then, my goals have become further clarified as I give voice to them through this medium. And tangible progress has been made now that Separation of Faith is with the publisher and will (hopefully) be moving into the production process soon with the Editor’s Choice designation. Plus, I’m now in dialogue with so many of you, who never cease to amaze me with your drive and creativity.

I’m thoroughly enjoying the Journey thus far, and I hope you are too.

Cheri

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: