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602 Posts tagged with the self_publishing tag
3

 

This morning I woke up and knew I'd come up with an idea for the book I'm currently writing, but I had no idea what it was. Absolutely none. Instead of fretting about the lost inspiration, however, I reached for the notebook in the drawer of my nightstand and read the following, which I had jotted down in sleepy chicken scratch sometime during the night:


  • At BK Flea: "So nothing for Derek then?" "No. Argh, **** it. I forgot to call him." "Has he called you?" "No."
  • Mention Daphne toast to Skylar


The above notes may look insignificant, but they are anything but. They resulted in additional scenes/conversations that added considerably to a side plot and the emotional growth of the main character. Both areas had been giving me trouble, but I'd been unable to figure out what to do about them. If I hadn't written down those ideas that came to me in the middle of the night, I would have come up with a solution eventually, but it sure was nice to have it right there in front of me. In my opinion the writing is often the easy part; it's coming up with what to write that is hard.


I've learned my lesson about the notebook thing. More than a few times I've woken up at 2 or 3 a.m. with an idea but no notebook nearby and thought, I'll remember it in the morning, then promptly fallen back asleep. How many times have I remembered those ideas? Zero. Now, no matter how tired I am, I force myself to reach for my pen and make a note when an idea strikes. Often that paper ends up in the recycling bin and I ask myself, what in God's name was I thinking, but just as often those flashes of creativity end up in the pages of a book. Better safe than sorry!


-Maria


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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.


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Writing Tip: Save Deleted Scenes and Language

Writing Tip: Keep a Synopsis as You Go

614 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, writing_ideas, writing_tip
4

I'm not going to lie. A lot of people make me angry, and the older I get, the easier it is to set me off. Science tells me it's because of my shrinking frontal lobe, but I think that's just overthinking what's really going on, which is that some people just do stuff that ticks me off, so I get perturbed.


I won't say who these people are or what they've done, not here and not hidden in a storyline in one of my books--not intentionally anyway. My books are no place to exact revenge on people I feel have done me wrong.


One of my favorite coffee cups actually says, "I am a writer. Don't make me angry, or I'll put you in my next book." It's funny in the abstract, but actually carrying out such a threat is a bad idea. It misinforms your writing and causes you to wedge in themes and plot points that ruin the organic feel of a story. It takes away from your main priority as a writer, and that is to serve the characters in the story, not the author. You are but a vessel to bring fiction to life. Once you start purposely inserting your beliefs in order to settle a score, you're likely going to take the reader out of the story by doing so.


The best way to get someone back for their mistreatment of you is to succeed. Become a better writer and attract more readers. Whatever you do, don't carry your grievances onto the pages of your book.


-Richard


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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The Purpose of Fiction

Fiction Writing vs. Nonfiction Writing

675 Views 4 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, writing_fiction, revenge_writing
2

No one wants their authors to be all business. If you take to your virtual space and constantly post about your books or about the world of publishing as a whole, you are going to chase potential readers away.


Your author brand has to be multidimensional. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but you can&'t focus all your energy on your role as an author when branding yourself as an author. You are a commodity. It sounds simplistic, but it&'s true. There are millions of books available to buy. What sets your book immediately apart is you, the author. Yes, the issue of style and the quality of your writing and storytelling are crucial, but there is no denying that the author is often the draw.


So, as you build your platform, plan on devoting a good chunk of your online time to discussing and participating in topics outside of your books. Reviewing books in your genre, discussing hobbies, sharing stories about your passion projects outside of writing, these are all things you can focus on. You can even go totally astray and publish fluff pieces about your pets, family, friends, etc. Your options are unlimited.


The point is that you are more than an author. You are a human being who dabbles in real life as much as any respectable human being. The more adventurous you are, the greater the material you'll have at your disposal. So, get out there and jump at the opportunity to do something interesting, if for no other reason than it will beef up your author brand.


-Richard

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

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Building an Author Brand: You are What You Share

An Active Author Brand



775 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, selling, writing, social_media, brand_identity, author_platform
0

 

When I got my latest novel back from my longtime developmental editor, as usual, she offered helpful suggestions for how to improve plot, pacing, character development, etc. This time, however, she also mentioned that my main character smiled--"a lot."


Curious as to what my editor meant by "a lot," I used the search function in Word to count just how many times the words "she smiled" or "Daphne smiled" appeared in my first draft. Let's just say it was way too many. I smiled (no pun intended) at my oversight and immediately got rid of a bunch of them. Thank you, Christina!


It seems like no matter how hard I try, my first drafts are always overloaded with crutch words or phrases such as "she smiled." Other favorites I've found myself overusing include "she nodded," "she raised her eyebrows," and "she walked home slowly/she slowly walked home." Usually I catch them myself when I read over the manuscript, but not always, as this recent experience demonstrated. (If you're not familiar with the search function in Microsoft Word, it's usually a box at the top right corner of any open document that says, "Search in Document" or "Find." Type in the word(s) of interest and hit the Enter key, and viola!)


Do you also suffer from this affliction? I think most writers probably do, but the key is to identify them before your book goes to print. Otherwise you risk irritating your readers, who might wind up focusing on the repetition and not the story. This is especially true if your crutch words or phrases are unusual or dramatic. Imagine seeing "He was flabbergasted" or "She screamed at the top of her lungs" more than once in the same book. I think I would immediately notice and might be a little annoyed. Would you?


-Maria


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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.


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Avoid Word Repetition

Watch Out for Repetition in Your Writing

962 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, crutch_words, dialogue_tags
2

What do you smell?

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Feb 6, 2017

 

When we write, we use various methods to try and get the reader to connect with a passage. Visuals play a huge role in making that connection. For example, the color of someone's eyes is a common visual trigger, or the physical build of a character is often used to help readers make a visual connection. Not to mention there's the illustrative writing used to describe setting.


We use sound too. The sound of a character's voice for example. There are the constant, steady beats used to heighten suspense in thrillers--a heartbeat, the sound of footsteps, etc. It's not as common as using a visual descriptive, but it is still fairly prominent in storytelling.


Perhaps the most underutilized descriptive tool is the sense of smell, and in my opinion that's a shame because I believe odors to be the most powerful of the senses when it comes to making a connection with a reader. If you describe it correctly, the thought of a smell can elicit a subconscious link between the story and a hidden memory in a reader. That will make it likely that the reader will have an emotional bond with the book that he or she wouldn't have otherwise had.


How about you? Do you use odors in your descriptive passages? Can you think of an example in any of your favorite books, and could that explain why they are indeed your favorites?


Remember, writing a descriptive story isn't always about what you see or hear. It's also about what you smell.


-Richard


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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WordPlay: Wine Tasting

Beyond the visuals

658 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, sense_of_smell
0

 

If you're not familiar with the "show vs. tell" rule, the gist of it is that you want to show your readers events or feelings instead of telling them.


I frequently see this rule broken in dialogue by authors who choose overly descriptive verbs that force-feed us the character's sentiment. When I encounter too much of this I find myself pulled out of the story--and kind of irritated because I feel the author is treating me like a child instead of allowing me to use my brain.


For example, here are some sentences that tell instead of show:


  • "Get ready for a bumpy ride," she warned.
  • "Sounds like you're really climbing that corporate ladder," she noted.
  • "I can't believe how huge this airport is," he remarked.
  • "You wish I would join your team," she retorted.


I think sentences like the above happen because some authors believe they should use any word other than "said" in their dialogue, when in reality "said" is exactly what they should be using, if anything at all.


The solution


To improve your writing, get rid of (most of) the substitutions for "said" and sprinkle in some beats. Beats are physical movements that show us what the characters are doing as they speak.

 

 

For example:

  • "Get ready for a bumpy ride," she said as she fastened her seatbelt.
  • She arched an eyebrow. "Sounds like you're really climbing that corporate ladder."
  • He swiveled his head in all directions. "I can't believe how huge this airport is."
  • She scoffed. "You wish I would join your team."


Do you see the difference? The first sentences tell us, while the second ones show us. Readers will enjoy your story more if they can visualize what is happening, so work on allowing that to happen! Don't go overboard with beats, though. As with most things, moderation is best.


-Maria


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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.


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Show vs tell: do you know the difference?

Just say it!


838 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, writing_dialogue, show_vs._tell
1

I've created some pretty morally reprehensible people as a writer. Killers, swindlers, drug dealers, you name it, I've given some of my bad guys the worst traits. If they were real, I'd never want to have a thing to do with them. I'd do all I could to avoid even hearing their names.


But, here's my weird, totally illogical confession: I like the bad guys I create. I enjoy spending time with them during the process of writing a book. I love hammering out their character and exploring their pasts, trying to figure out why they are the way they are. When or if they die in one of my books, I feel genuinely sad. He or she wasn't just a good foil for my protagonist, we connected on an ethereal, totally fictional level.


I may be trying to justify my feelings, but I think my affinity for the bad guys I create is healthy. I think it's natural. As a writer, it's not my job to judge the actions of my characters. It's my job to observe and report. If I put myself in the position of making judgments of my characters' behavior, I will most likely start censoring myself and instinctively try to fix them. A fictional life isn't in service to anyone or anything but the story. The bad they do, they do for the good of the narrative.


If you haven't already, I encourage you to find a way to connect with your villains. Love them. Don't judge them.


-Richard


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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Defend your antagonist

Write an obituary for your characters

1,148 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writers, writing, villain, characterization, antagonist
1

 

There was a time when getting T-shirts printed was a costly and time-consuming endeavor, but thanks to the Internet, that's no longer the case. So why not make some T-shirts to promote your book? I did this for my Waverly Bryson series, creating shirts in blue and pink with the following quotes from my protagonist:


"Is it worse to be fake or bitchy?" --Waverly Bryson


"I know nothing, but at least I know that." --Waverly Bryson


"Beer goggles are the lonely girl's Cupid." --Waverly Bryson


"Do not post what you ate for breakfast on Facebook." --Waverly Bryson


Almost every time I wear one of the shirts, someone stops me and asks where I got it. I explain that it's a quote from one of my novels, then smile and hand them a business card with a link to my website. Boom--a potential reader! I even wore one of the T-shirts to a Northwestern University alumni networking event in New York City, and I got a lot of attention not just for the books, but for my marketing ingenuity.


I've given away countless T-shirts at book signings and events, and I've even sold some on my website. I've also included them as a bonus gift when fans contact me to order signed copies of my books. People love free stuff, so it's a win-win. And the more people who laugh at what Waverly Bryson has to say, the better chance I have of selling more books.


If you're scratching your head right now wondering what you could put on your own T-shirts, that depends on the subject matter of your work, but I'm sure you can come up with something. It's a matter of creativity, and if you wrote a book, you are creative. Remember that.


-Maria


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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.


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Marketing Idea: Set Up a Card Table on the Sidewalk

Marketing Idea: Encourage Your Fans to Spread the Word

1,521 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, promotions, t-shirts, marketing_ideas
2

I read my novels out loud as I write them. I am normally a very reserved person, but when I'm reading dialogue or particularly emotional prose, I let loose and zero in on the moment. It's actually quite liberating. It's kind of like a mental massage. Beyond that, here are three reasons you should be reading your work out loud:

 

  1. Consistent tone: Reading your book out loud as you write can help you establish a consistent tone throughout the book. Unintentionally switching tones can take a reader out of the story and cause them to eventually give up on your book. Hearing yourself give voice to the story keeps you on track.
  2. Connection to characters: Alone, in the privacy of our writing space, we are all actors at heart. We hear the voices of our characters clearly in our heads. When we are far from the shackles of inhibition, we read their dialogue out loud, and we feel the emotions our characters are feeling on a much deeper level. We connect with the story like never before. In a sense, we are living the story out loud. I find it very powerful.
  3. Effective editing: Reading your book out loud is a great self-editing tool. Editing your own work is hard because you know the story. There is a tendency to unintentionally gloss over mistakes because, in your mind, you've been there before. You know how the story goes. You just zone out. That’s okay. It's human nature. Reading a story out loud helps you zone in on those mistakes because they will very likely trip you up.


-Richard


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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Keeping a Consistent Tone

Reading Out Loud

960 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, editing, writing, tone, characterization
0

Every day?

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Jan 16, 2017

 

I'm about to give you advice that will blow your mind. I guarantee I will make some writing gurus and experts mad with what I'm about to suggest. This is about as controversial as you can get when handing out advice on writing. When this blog is posted, I'll make a concerted effort to stay off Twitter to avoid the barbs and figurative arrows.

 

Are you ready for this? OK, here we go. Don't write every day. What? Am I crazy? Have I sold my soul to the bad-writing cabal? How can I say such a thing?

 

I should add, "if you don't want to." Let me be clear, I don't think writing every day is a bad thing. I think it's great for those writers who flourish under that kind of strategy. I simply want to point out that it's not the only strategy. Some authors take breaks between writing sessions. Some of those breaks can last for weeks or longer.

 

My point is if writing every day isn't your style, don't force yourself to do it. There' nothing less productive than trying to write when you're just not feeling it. It has the potential to do more harm than good. It can ding your confidence each time you sit at a computer unable to find the inspiration to write. It's okay to wait for the inspiration to hit you before you write.

 

We are individuals. We have different approaches to writing. Don't feel obligated to adapt to anyone else's writing schedule. Find what works for you, and leave the guilt behind.

 

-Richard

 

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

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Should You Write Daily to Write Well?

 

My Writing Rules, Which You are Free to Ignore

395 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, writing_strategies
0

Have you ever wondered about the best time of day to write? Can something like that even be determined? After all, everyone is different. Some of us are more productive in the morning. While some of us are more productive in the evening. Still, can a scientific study reveal the best time to write? The answer is, sort of.


According to researchers Mareike B. Wieth and Rose T. Zacks, there are times of day when an individual is better at problem solving. Problem solving requires creativity. Creativity is the engine behind storytelling. Here's what they found:


Morning people are better at solving problems in the evening and night owls are better at solving problems in the morning. Yes, that does sound counterintuitive. What gives? It turns out, we come up with our best creative solutions when we are tired and unable to focus on any one aspect of a problem. In essence, we are freed up to see a problem from a broader perspective, and we are able to find solutions we would have overlooked had we been in our most focused state.


So, while your focus will help you commit to the task of writing, it can interfere with your creativity. The answer to what time of the day is the best time to write may be that there are two times of day. There is a time to allow distractions and tiredness to guide your creativity, and there is a time to craft a story based on the ideas you acquired during these periods of creativity.


-Richard


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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Write o'clock

Is the early bird more creative?

1,091 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, best_time_to_write
2

 

I have advocated for indie authors supporting indie authors many times before on this blog. The general idea is to reserve a day of the week to promote the work of a fellow indie author. The question is what day of the week works best for this type of activity.


The vehicle to promote an indie author is clear. You will be using social media. Which social media outlet is up to you. There are a lot to choose from, and many of you probably use several social media sites to make connections with readers.


There is data out there that lets you know when the most active times are for all the social media sites. Because there are so many of them and because some of them service very specific demographics, it's hard to find a consistent day of the week and time of day that will be best to promote your selection for indie author of the week. Rather than try to force a square peg into a round hole by finding a time that caters to all of them, here are the best times to post to get the most views for some of the more popular social media sites. Choose the one that best fits your social media strategy.


  • Facebook: Saturdays and Sundays at 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.
  • Twitter: Wednesdays at noon and between 5:00-6:00 p.m.
  • Instagram: Mondays and Thursday are the best days of the week, and the best time is between 8:00-9:00 p.m. Specifically, folks say to avoid posting between 3:00-4:00 p.m.
  • LinkedIn: Tuesday through Thursday from 7:00-8:00 a.m., at noon, and from 5:00-6:00 p.m.


Remember: creating buzz for other indie authors can build credibility for all indie authors. Get out there and share the indie author love.


-Richard


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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Supporting Indie Authors

Living the Indie Author Dream

835 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, writing, promotions, social_media
0

To lie vs. to lay

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Dec 29, 2016

 

When I was in high school people used to say "laying out" when referring to catching rays at the pool or the beach. At the time I remember thinking they should have worn sunscreen, but it didn't occur to me that they also should have said "lying out." But now I know better!


I still hear this mistake frequently, so I thought it was worth a blog post about the difference between lay and lie.


To lay requires a direct object (you lay something down/out):


  • Every morning I lay the envelope on the desk so he can see it.
  • I always lay a towel on the floor to prevent water from getting all over the bathroom.
  • It's smart to lay out a plan of action before every game.


The past tense of to lay is laid:


  • Every morning I laid the envelope on the desk so he could see it.
  • I always laid a towel on the floor to prevent water from getting all over the bathroom.
  • She laid out a plan of action before every game.


To lie doesn't have a direct object:


Every evening I lie on my bed and think about grammar.

Even though it's bad for her skin, she lies out in the sun.

She needs a game plan to keep her team from lying down and losing.


Now here's where it gets confusing--the past tense of to lie is lay:


  • Every evening last summer I lay on my bed and thought about grammar.
  • Even though she knew it was bad for her skin, she lay out in the sun for hours every day.
  • Despite the game plan, her team lay down and lost.


To summarize:


  • Today you lie on your bed.
  • Today you lay your head on your pillow.
  • Yesterday you lay on your bed.
  • Yesterday you laid your head on your pillow.


I realize what a head-scratcher this can be, so if after reading this post you want to go lie down and lay your head on a pillow, I won't blame you!


-Maria


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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.


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Grammar tip: how to use gerunds correctly

Grammar tip: have gone, not have went

411 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, grammar_tip, lie_vs._lay
0

Do you have a mailing list of readers who enjoyed your writing? If so, good for you! Whether it's through a newsletter program or email, reaching out to your fans is a good way to keep a connection with them. The question is, what do you tell them?


In my semi-regular newsletter I include one piece of "news." Here are some examples:


  • Photos of my events such as book signings, book clubs, speeches or panel discussions
  • News about upcoming translations of my books
  • News about sales milestones
  • Promotions for signed copies (this is good to do around the holidays for gift ideas)
  • Photos of fans holding up my books at home or at stores (they send them to me sometimes!)
  • News about distribution agreements, e.g., in certain bookstores or wholesale clubs
  • Awards my books have won


In each newsletter I also include links to my recent blog posts as well as a note about my consulting services. I also encourage my fans to tell their friends about my books, so I can afford to keep writing them.


While I like to keep my newsletters strictly about my professional life, some author friends of mine have chosen a more personal route. One recently sent out a message about her engagement, while another tackled her feelings about the presidential election. Yet another addressed with humility how hard it was proving to be to get people to buy her book.


There's no magic formula for any of this, and every author's pot of potential "material" is different. So play around with it and see what works best for you. And if/when you begin working on a new book, include your fans in the process! I once had my fans vote on two cover options for a book, and it worked out so well that I'm considering asking them to vote on the title of my next one.


-Maria


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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.


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Make it easy for readers to find you

The power of a personal connection

1,018 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, marketing, writing, promotions, newsletters
2

 

Bad habits are hard to break. I tend to write hurriedly, and as a result, my first draft can look like it was written in typo-English. And then there are those occasions when I read everything I have written to that point before I start writing. A habit that often leaves me with very little writing time. I also have a habit of talking openly about what I'm working on, sometimes revealing spoilers.

 

I have a lot of bad habits as a writer. But, I am of the mind that it doesn't matter. I almost always finish my journey, which is a completed manuscript. I turn an idea into a story and a story into a book, undergoing rewrites and frustrations along the way. I'm sure that I even put up obstacles that require me to navigate over and around.

 

My habits, the obstacles I create, the mistakes I make, are all part of my writing process. And as clunky and irritating as the process can sometimes be, it works for me. I'll always study the craft of writing and try to improve what I write. But how I write, the rituals that make up my own personal madness, I'm not likely to ever change.

 

Don't listen to critics or naysayers who try to tell you that you need to change your writing habits. I'm here to tell you that if you can finish a novel using a writing process, no matter how unconventional it may be, that's your process. It informs your style. It's yours. Embrace it without apologies.

 

-Richard

 

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

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Are writing rituals good or bad?

 

Writing tip: stay committed to the process

 

869 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, writing_habits
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