#AprilPrompts Blogging Challenge

Having just completed Terri Giuliano Long’s challenge #BlogFlash2013, Donna L Sadd and I have decided we want to do another one and have decided to organise it ourselves.

The posts will be published every weekday throughout April and publicised using the hashtag #AprilPrompts. There will be a daily prompt posted on both our blogs (see list below), and each post has a maximum count of 200 words.

We would love it if you’d care to join us! This is a great way of getting the creative juices flowing and can be used as a writing exercise to warm up the muscles in the brain. It’s a lot of fun and a fab way of meeting new people.

It doesn’t matter if you can’t post every day, just do what you can. Post the links to your blog on this or Donna’s site for each prompt you write and we’ll publicise it.

If you’d like to take part, please reply to this post.

Donna and I look forward to blogging with you.

~ Carlie

Daily Prompt List:

1st – ARROW

2nd – MUSE

3rd – BIRTHDAY

4th – SIN

5th – INTIMACY

8th – GROWING

9th – TRUTH

10th – HEART

11th – THRILLER

12th – LOSS

15th – GAME

16th – INFINITY

17th – THRONE

18th – PROMISE

19th – STOLEN

22nd – HOSPITAL

23rd – SEARCHING

24th – BETRAYAL

25th – GUILT

26th – LOVE

Advertisements

My 5 Top Tips for New Authors

Getting back to the posts from the Heart Search Blog Tour, Elaine Hillson was my next fabulous host. She asked me for my 5 top tips for new authors. I could have written more than five to be honest, but I think these are the most pertinent and important.

Writing, like any skill, needs to be honed. You need to study the craft and never stop learning. I could spend ages giving you the benefit of my experiences, and it’s all useful stuff, but I’m going to pass that by and talk about things you need to ponder once you’ve finished your manuscript.

Editing and Beta Reading:

It’s incredibly difficult to see our own mistakes in our manuscripts. We see how we want it to read and not how it actually does. It takes a fresh pair of eyes to take our work and turn it into a polished gem. Editors don’t come cheap yet good ones are worth their weight in gold. There are two levels of editing; copy/line editing and full editing.

A copy/line editor will look at grammar, punctuation and sentence structure. They will also look at overused words and repeated sentences beginning with the same word which are too close together. In addition, they check for inconsistencies within your manuscript. They won’t make the changes for you, but will point out where the problems exist and leave you to correct the mistakes.

A full edit will encompass all the above plus a developmental and structural edit. This is where the editor will look at redundant phrases and paragraphs, timelines and the story as a whole. They will suggest changes based on experience and the way the story reads. Ultimately they want to make your manuscript the best it can be for you.

A good editor will gently guide you in bringing your work to ‘submission ready’ status. You may not agree with all the changes an editor suggests, and that’s okay because it’s your right as the author to take or discard their recommendations. But don’t dismiss them out of hand – never forget the editor has the experience you lack, so consider each comment carefully and be prepared to compromise on occasions.

After all the editing, I would always recommend getting a Beta Reader to go through the novel. Pick wisely. This should be someone you trust to give you good honest feedback and criticism, preferably not a family member as they will feel obliged to tell you how wonderful it is because of your relationship with them. It needs to be someone impartial. Take their critique on board. They are, in a way, representative of all the readers who could potentially buy your book. If they find something confusing, lacking in substance or explanation, you can bet other readers will too, so be prepared to rewrite in places and once again, get your editor to check the changes.

The important thing to remember here is by self-publishing a book (if you decide to take that route) which is full of typos, mistakes and bad grammar, you are setting yourself up for bad reviews and a tarnished reputation. Mud sticks!

ISBN’s:

If you plan to publish your novel as an e-book through Kindle only, you don’t need an ISBN. If you decide to go through one of the ‘print on demand’ companies like CreateSpace or Lulu you can get a cheap or free ISBN. However, you are quite limited by where you can make your book available for sale.

Let’s take CreateSpace as an example. You can obtain a free ISBN when you upload your book, but you are limited to their sales channels. Sure you can pay for ‘Extended Distribution’ which would open up further outlets in which your book can be bought, but you cannot go outside of their network and sell your book wherever you want.

By purchasing your own ISBN (please note: you need one for each medium your book is published so if you decide on e-book and paperback, you will need separate ISBN’s for each), you are in control. You own the legal rights to your book which gives you the freedom to select your own sales channels anywhere.

ISBN’s aren’t cheap, but well worth the investment in my humble opinion. I have bought a block of ten through my publishing group, which has worked out very cost effective.

If you are one of the lucky ones who get picked up by a traditional publisher, this is all done for you, but the publisher owns the ISBN not you!

Social Media Platforms:

If you’re not very social media savvy, you better start practicing before your book comes out. Don’t try and spread yourself too thin – just pick a couple which are manageable and start building a following/friends list. These people are the first ones who will be exposed to news of your book and if they like the sound of it, they’ll keep watching you closely. Feed snippets of news of your progress to keep them interested, make and cultivate new online friendships as you never know where it might lead. You can also pick up useful information from other authors recommending editors or beta readers, plus hints, tricks and tips which you can utilise to your advantage.

Blog:

Start your own blog. This is, by far, your most useful platform and what’s more, the vast majority are free! You can utilise this space to allow your potential readers to get to know you and your writing. The more you engage them, the more they will talk about it to their friends and the wider your reach and potential readership becomes.

You don’t have to blog every single day – I don’t. Some authors do, but that is their choice. Set yourself a goal of blogging, say once a fortnight, to begin with (and don’t forget to publicise each post on your social media platforms). If you begin to feel you can increase it to once a week, then do so. You’re the one in control – just make sure you leave enough time for writing outside of this and the previous activities mentioned for Social Media.

And finally . . .

Marketing:

Whichever route you take to publishing, you are still going to have to market yourself. And if you haven’t done it before, it’s quite a daunting task. Look on social media to see what other authors are doing, read blog posts devoted to the subject, research what is available, what is free and what you can afford.

I have an advantage. I’ve had quite a bit of experience in marketing in my ‘day jobs’, so already have the ethos entrenched in the old grey matter. I’ve followed the advice and tips given to you above and orchestrated a marketing plan leading up to and following on from the launch of my novel. I’m told I’ve created a bit of a ‘buzz’ about it on the internet/social media platforms which is what I set out to do. I know my plans aren’t going to generate humungous sales overnight (although it would be nice), but each person who buys my book and enjoys it is likely to recommend it to their friends. Each reader who posts a good review on Amazon or Goodreads is showing the world that they think my novel is a worthwhile buy. All this adds to my credibility as an author and little by little the network expands.

I hope you find these tips useful and I wish you all the very best of luck in your published career!

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award!

For me!

I’ve just been nominated for this awesome award by my fellow blogger and friend Laura Thomas, and I’m blown away by it – thank you so much, Laura!

If you don’t know Laura you can find her on her blog http://fuonlyknew.wordpress.com . Her blogs are always entertaining and fun!

I understand I’m supposed to nominate 7 bloggers and tell you 7 things about myself. this is going to be the hard part, but I’ll try and give you a chuckle or three.

1. I love watching Strictly Come Dancing (Dancing With The Stars in the US). Being a pro dance teacher, I love picking out faults and arguing with the judges, even though they can’t hear me.

2. When I was pregnant with my daughter I had three main cravings; white chocolate, lemon curd and hot cross buns. Guess what some of my daughter’s favourite things to eat are . . . yep, the three things I craved!

3. I read Tarot cards. I’ve had the ‘gift’ since I was a child, but didn’t realise what it was until my mum explained I come from a line of psychics (my grandmother was particularly strong). It’s only been the last year or so that I’ve properly started using my gift, having received training from my best friend who is a fabulous medium and teacher.

4. I hate ironing with a vengence and do as little as I can get away with. My mum used to iron everything, even underwear and it was a standing joke in our house that if you stood still too long, mum would either iron you, wash you or dust you!

5. I used to be in love with Patrick Swayze and it was my dream to dance with him (especially after I saw Dirty Dancing for the first time). When he died, I actually cried my eyes out. (I know it’s sad!)

6. I hate having grey hair and will go to any lengths to cover them up – not that I have very many but they’re right at the front in my fringe (I think you call them ‘bangs’ in the US) and stick out like the proverbial sore thumb! I don’t look my age and until recently I didn’t feel it so grey hair does NOT fit with the me I am and how I see myself. Usually I hide them subtly by having highlights of light blonde and bright red in my dark blonde hair but as my highlights had grown out and the grey was starting to show again, I decided to get one of these home colouring kits and have now gone a ruby red. This was quite a major step for me as I’ve never had an all-over colour change since I was about eighteen, &*?/^ years ago, but I’m happy to report it came out really well and I actually like it. It took a bit of getting used to though; I kept glancing in the mirror everytime I passed it to make sure it really was me! I’m past the narcissism now! Lol

7. I have quite a weird and wacky sense of humour. I use word-play in my humour, subtle remarks, and sometime sarcasm. I enjoy a good joke and love to laugh. It’s funny though, there are very few ‘comedians’ on the tv which really make me laugh.

Ok, now that I’ve revealed some of my inner self (some of it to my embarrassment) it’s now time for me to pass on the mantle.

My job now is to nominate 7 ladies who, in my opinion are worthy of this award. There are so many great bloggers out there so in some ways this is going to be a dificult choice. However, my first two nominees are easy to choose as their blogs are amazing, informative and entertaining. So without further ado,

My nominees are:

1. Alison DeLuca    http://alisondeluca.blogspot.com

2. Connie J Jasperson    http://conniejjasperson.wordpress.com

3. Christine Nolfi     http://www.christinenolfi.com/blog/

4. Brianna Lee McKenzie    http://briannaleemckenzie.blogspot.co.uk/

5. Rachel Tsoumbakos   http://racheltsoumbakos.blogspot.co.uk/

6. Kathleen Barker   http://kateinla51.blogspot.co.uk/

7. Danielle Raver     http://danielleraverauthor.blogspot.co.uk/

Good luck, Ladies, and congratulations!