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No matter who is publishing your book, you should have a launch party! In fact, most traditional publishers don't throw launch parties unless the author is famous. For the rest of us, that means we're on our own.


Many indie authors think that book launch parties need to be elaborate, which translates into expensive. But that's not true! All you need to do is find a local watering hole with a friendly manager who is willing to give you a little space to sell books in exchange for bringing paying customers with you.


For my most recent book launch, I wanted to have parties in New York City, where I currently live, and San Francisco, where I lived until two years ago. To find a venue I went online (yelp.com is a good place to start) and searched for bars and pubs in fun neighborhoods. Then I started making phone calls. The response I got ran the gamut. In Manhattan, the first place I called wanted $2,500 to let me sit in a corner and sign books for two hours! I tried not to laugh, then politely declined and kept calling others. Soon I found a great bar in the West Village that was more than happy to have me come in for no fee at all.


I had the same experience in San Francisco. It took a few calls, but I found a great pub that is not only going to provide me with plenty of space to sell and sign books, but is also going to help promote the event through social media.


Smart bar owners won't turn down potential business, so take the time to do a little digging - you'll be glad you did!


-Maria

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor. She writes romantic comedies and provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.


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How to Do a Book Launch

How to Give a Great Interview

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Think of what it is like to buy a fragile item. When you open the box, the object can be so buried in packaging that you wind up with way more filler than product. Writing can be similar.


Often when one is trying to convey an idea, he or she may use two, three, or even four or five words that basically mean the same thing. This isnt always a bad thing-many great literary lines have been tautological in nature-but tautology can also bog down prose and leave readers struggling through bubble wrap and puff peanuts as they look for the storyline.


Tautology, according to Merriam Webster's Dictionary, is "the needless repetition of an idea, statement, or word." For example, "huge mountain," "free gift," and "it's déjà vu all over again."


Other less obvious examples come in the form of acronyms: "ATM machine (Automated Teller Machine machine)" or "PIN number (Personal Identification Number number)."


Do you find yourself getting a little tautological from time to time in your writing? It might not be as obvious as the examples listed above, but when you're reading through your manuscript, consider whether or not certain phrases are needed or are simply repeating the same statement twice (now that's tautology!).


And that brings us to this week's exercise:


The Department of Redundancy Department


It's your first day at the DRD department and your job is to go through a stack of statements, all of which are suspected of being tautological. If they are, you have the full authority of the DRD to reprimand the scurrilous scribe with a scathing correction to his or her excessive verbosity. Which of the following statements should be corrected and how would you correct them?


  • Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit, and tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes, I will be brief: your noble son is mad: Mad call I it; for, to define true madness, what is't but to be nothing else but mad?
  • Thanks to their joint collaboration, the archaeologists found the handwritten manuscript in the destroyed ruins of the monastery.
  • She herself had written her autobiography of her own life in just two weeks.
  • The flour is adequate enough for the recipe.
  • She watched the duel take place from a hiding place in close proximity.
  • The fisherman woke up at 4 a.m. this morning so he could catch the tide.
  • It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.


-Kristin

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Kristin is a content media coordinator with CreateSpace. She draws from a strong background in journalism and creative writing to help authors hone their skills and flex their artistic muscles.


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WordPlay: Idioms

WordPlay: Putting Your Worst Foot Forward

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What Is A QR Code?

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Jan 10, 2012

I'm sure you are much smarter than I am, and you haven't been baffled by the rise of something known as a QR code. It appears to be an object out of a science fiction movie that can transport you to new worlds and destinations. If by chance you feel underinformed about this marketing device, allow me to shed for you what little light I have on the topic.

 

QR codes are barcodes with superhero powers. They appear in real and/or virtual space as a square arrangement of little boxes and squiggly lines. Click here for an example of a typical QR code (and for some information on a unique way in which authors are using QR codes) - QR Codes - the Gateway to Augmented Reality Books. When scanned by a special device, barcodes will give you the basic information about an item. When QR codes are scanned by mobile devices with the proper application, you will be sent to a website or a video, or to a downloadable file that is related to the item.

 

For instance, an author may use a QR code as a profile picture on Facebook. When the QR code is scanned, the trailer for his or her latest book pops up on the user's mobile device. Or in another case, you may be walking down the street and see a flyer with a QR code for an author hanging on a light pole. Scan the QR code, and a website with information on the author's upcoming appearances in the area will pop up on your mobile device.

 

Here is a free website where you can experiment with QR codes: Qurify. Most new mobile phones are equipped with QR code readers as a standard application, but just in case, here's a website where you can learn more information on QR code software for your mobile phones: QRStuff.com.

 

Are QR codes for you? It's hard for me to advise you on something like that. I will say that if you have a highly organized marketing strategy, it might be the perfect complement to your plan. If nothing else, they give the appearance of someone in tune with today's high tech world.


- Richard

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


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Ramping Up Facebook Activity for the New Year

Take Control with Marketing Central

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The New Year has come and gone, which means you've probably made some New Year's resolutions. Since you're a writer, a pledge to complete that unfinished novel is probably somewhere on your list. Or perhaps you want to finally start writing that idea for a novel you've had for a long time. Or maybe you've simply made an oath to write more.


If writing is one of your resolutions, let me share an accelerated writing method I've been experimenting with in order to complete a book by the end of the year. On December 2, 2011, I had 18,010 words written on a planned sixty thousand-word novel. I had had those 18,010 words since August 11, 2011. In other words I was stuck, and frankly I needed some motivation to get back on track.


Late night on December 1, I turned on the TV and saw an infomercial for an exercise program that centered on an interval training system. You do twenty to thirty seconds of cardio at full speed and then you do twenty to thirty seconds at a relaxed speed. You repeat that cycle over and over again. Believe it or not, I started thinking about this process in relation to my writing sessions. Normally, I would sit and write until I couldn't write anymore. Sometimes it was hard to enter my office because I knew I would be sitting there for hours trying to reach a respectable daily word count. I ended up forcing myself to write, which isn't exactly fertile ground for creativity.


The next day, I applied the interval concept to my daily writing. I sat down and wrote five hundred words, then I got up and distracted myself with another activity for thirty to forty-five minutes. I came back and wrote another five hundred words. After typing the five hundredth word, I did another activity for thirty to forty-five minutes. When all was said and done, I had easily tripled the number of words I usually write in a day. What's more, I found that I was much more focused on my story during those five hundred-word sessions. On December 17, I finished the first draft of the novel I had been stuck on for months. I missed one day of writing during that fifteen day period. On my most productive day, I typed a total of six thousand words (That included a couple of writing assignments apart from the novel). On my least productive day, I typed a total of 2,700 words.


I invite you to try the interval writing program for yourself. It doesn't have to be five hundred-word sessions. You can customize it to fit your lifestyle and free time. I chose five hundred words because I found that without the pressure of reaching an inflated word count for the day, I could comfortably produce about five hundred words in around thirty minutes. The key is to relieve yourself from the pressure that normally comes from marathon writing sessions. I'm confident you'll be more focused during short bursts of writing and as a consequence you'll be more productive. Who knows, you may even finish more than one novel in 2012 using this method.


Happy New Year and happy writing!


-      Richard

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


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How to Set SMART Writing Goals

Oh, Those Random Thoughts

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Sometimes what holds us up during the writing process is not so much the next step in the story, but the best way to say it. So often it comes down to one word that perfectly embodies what you're trying to convey and you just...can't...remember...it. The whole story might grind to a halt as you run through the alphabet in an attempt to kick the word to the front of your memory.

 

One helpful resource for this problem is a website called OneLook Reverse Dictionary. It's not all that accurate and it usually takes the vague "it sounds like..., but not quite like..." parameters a bit too literally, but I usually wind up finding my way, if not to the word itself, to something that works just as well.

 

Another solution is flashcards. I know this sounds somewhat collegiate, but a little brain boost once in a while can do wonders for one's vocabulary. And you don't have to walk around with a pack of 3 x 5 index cards in your back pocket, either. If you have a smart phone, you can download the application for both Dictionary.com and Dictionary.com Flashcards.

 

Dictionary.com is great for writers because, if you allow it to send you push notifications, a new word will pop up on your phone daily. When you click on it, you can scroll through to the Spanish Word of the Day, The Question of the Day (ex: "What is the etymology of asparagus?") and a daily discussion on words and grammar.

 

Then there's the flashcards feature. Say you're sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic or you're waiting for someone to show up for dinner, get home from work, etc. Just pick a flashcard category and bulk up on your personal lexicon. While the flashcard topics change on a daily basis, all of the decks are stored online and you can access past collections at any time. Some recent flashcard categories include "Adjectives to Charm Your Instructor" with words such as ebullient, phlegmatic, and perspicacious; and "Confusable Combinations that are Almost Cruel," which pairs commonly confused words such as essay and assay, estate and ansate, and axis and accent.

 

Once you study your cards, you can quiz yourself to see how many words you've retained and how quickly you can remember their definitions. Not only will your new verbal skills help you sound like the professional wordsmith that you know you are, it will increase your perspicacity on the page.

 

And that brings us to this week's exercise:

 

What a word

 

Take a moment to learn a new word and see how many ways you can use it in a day. Use it in an e-mail, work it into a casual conversation, or write a sentence with it. By repeatedly using the word in its correct context, you have a better chance of retaining it and ultimately you'll spend less time fumbling for words during crucial moments of inspiration.

 

- Kristin

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Kristin is a content media coordinator with CreateSpace. She draws from a strong background in journalism and creative writing to help authors hone their skills and flex their artistic muscles.


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WordPlay: The Rum Runners' Retreat

Don't Be Afraid to Use Pronouns!

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Between You and ME

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Dec 29, 2011

Last week, I discussed the importance of using pronouns. This week, I'd like to address the importance of using the correct pronouns. One particular - and extremely common - pronoun error that drives me crazy is the misuse of I.


At some point, most children get chastised for using the pronoun "me" instead of "I." For example, a little kid might announce that "Me and Lisa are going to the park!" and in response, a horrified mother will shout "You wouldn't say ME am going to the park!" Getting kids to think about pronoun use this way drills into their heads that the format of "Lisa and I are going to the park" is correct.


However, it's not always correct to use "I."


When a pronoun is the object of a verb (e.g. I saw him) or comes after a preposition (e.g. I gave the ball to him), it's called an object pronoun. If the pronoun is the subject of the verb (e.g. He saw me), it's called a subject pronoun. "I," "he," "she," "we," and "they" are subject pronouns. "Me," "him," "her," "us," and "them" are object pronouns.


The problem is that some people who don't understand grammatical rules think they should always use "I" or "he" or "she," etc. This is why, for example, we have public figures who occasionally say things in their speeches such as "This is a great year for you and I," or "Thank you for giving my wife and I this opportunity."


This is wrong.


You would never say "This is a great plan for I" or "Thank you for giving I this opportunity," would you? Of course not. So if you find the rules confusing and still aren't sure which pronoun to use, follow your mom's advice and cut out the extra person or people in the sentence. Then you'll know what's right!


-Maria

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor. She writes romantic comedies and provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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More Grammar Pet Peeves!

The Plural of Book Is Not Book's

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The following steps usually occur after I finish the initial draft of a manuscript:


  • I celebrate by taking a nap.
  • I print off a copy of the manuscript.
  • I drive to a coffee shop with the manuscript.
  • I start reading the manuscript while sipping a four dollar coffee.
  • I read a passage that doesn't make any sense to me. It's as if a random thought leapt from my brain and landed onto the page.


After some consternation, I eventually remember what I was originally trying to accomplish with the passage, and I beat myself up for not pursuing that particular train of thought. Dropping a subplot is bound to happen in a story that contains tens of thousands of words.


The problem is what to do with the dead-ended subplots. I don't recommend leaving them in the book, because I'm not a fan of random events that lead nowhere. On the other hand, some consider them the equivalent of Hitchcock's MacGuffin strategy in his movies. He would introduce a random shot into the film to lead the audience to believe that it's integral to the storyline, when in actuality it's meaningless. For example, in North by Northwest, the camera pans down to focus on a matchbook on a table. Hitchcock wants us to believe that the matchbook is a significant clue, but we never see or hear about it again.


In my opinion, MacGuffins, or randomness, don't work in books. In most cases, books are a huge investment of time and there's a much more intimate relationship between a reader and a good book compared to a viewer and a two-hour movie. Readers don't want to be fooled by a plot device on page sixty only to discover three hundred pages later when they finish the book that the device didn't mean anything. They will feel cheated.


That being said, don't completely dismiss that random subplot that went nowhere in your book. Write it down on an index card, stick it on the wall in your office, and use it for your next book. Recycling won't just save the planet. It could save you a lot of time the next time you're trying to come up with a storyline.


-Richard

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


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WordPlay: Putting Your Worst Foot Forward

The Great American Novel

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Writer's block got you down? Why not fire up some neurons with a quick creative exercise? Take a moment to read through the following writing prompt and then share your ideas for the next part of the tale:


There's nothing special about the house itself: two small bedrooms and a living room that merges with a functional kitchen. The wide porch features a couple of rocking chairs and a rope hammock gray with age. No, there's nothing special about the house, but the view - it stands on one of the few bluffs on a generally flat coastline, and the slight lift affords the ocean-facing front a breathtaking view of brackish creeks, tri-tone marsh grass, and the sparkling surface of the Atlantic Ocean in the distance. A thin dock like a crack in a canvas scrawls through the estuary to a nearby creek.


You're here for the weekend because you stumbled across an incredible deal on the rental. For less than the cost of one night in a two-star hotel, this small estate and heart-stopping view are yours for three whole days.


"But why?" you ask the realtor when you swing by to pick up the keys. She shrugs. "Because for some reason, a lot of the locals think it's haunted."


That comment sticks with you as you drive out to the property. Where before the cabin looked cozy and quaint, it now seems lonely and distant on its solitary slope. You toss your keys on the kitchen table and poke around the few knick knacks scattered around the main room. Tucked between some tattered copies of summer beach reads you find something unusual: a thin volume on the history of rum runners. On skimming through the first chapter, you find that this cabin was built near one of the most notorious smuggling hubs of the rum runners' heyday. There was even rumor of a well-known bluff, underneath which the runners would hide their liquid gold treasure until it was safe to transport up the coast.


The information sinks in as the sun sets in autumn hues on the distant sea. There's not much else to do but tuck in for the night, which you do, shoving thoughts of ghosts and rum runners to the back of your mind until tomorrow. You sleep soundly until a sudden noise snaps you out of bed. It sounds like a bang, like wood cracking against a hard surface. Curious and startled, you slip into the living room and see nothing; but there's a strange glow emanating from the spot where the bluff cuts sharply down to the marsh. You creep closer to the window and a sudden movement catches your eye. At first it looks like nothing more than a wisp of smoke, but as it trails away, a dark form begins to take shape...


What do you see? What do you think is taking place on the far side of the bluff? Write a short paragraph starting with the line, "I couldn't quite make out the details..."


-Kristin

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Kristin is a content media coordinator with CreateSpace. She draws from a strong background in journalism and creative writing to help authors hone their skills and flex their artistic muscles.


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WordPlay: A Casual Conversation

WordPlay: Gee, It's Cold

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Imagine you're having coffee with your friend, Julie, and she says "Oh my gosh, I have the funniest story to tell you about that guy John I've been seeing!" You smile and sip your pumpkin spice latte, ready to listen.


Then imagine that Julie begins her story like this (read aloud for full effect):


"I knocked on John's door, and when John opened it, he smiled and gave me a hug. Then John asked me to come in, so I did. John and I sat down on his couch, and then John asked me if I'd like anything to drink. I said sure, so John poured us each a glass of red wine. Then John took my hand and said he had something important to tell me."


If you were Julie's friend, by this point you'd probably be wondering less about the story and more about what was wrong with her, because NO ONE TALKS LIKE THAT. We already know that her date's name is John, so after the first reference we expect her to use the pronouns "he" and "him" to refer to him.


Unfortunately, many first-time authors act like Julie, i.e., they don't use enough pronouns in their writing. Instead they use a character's name over and over, both in dialogue and narrative, often multiple times in the same paragraph. It's distracting and annoying, and it's not good writing. Readers are smart, so respect them!


Read some of your own writing out loud. Does it sound like Julie? Remember, we have pronouns for a reason, so don't be afraid to use them!


-Maria

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor. She writes romantic comedies and provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 


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Look Who's Talking

Just Say It!

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Discipline to Write

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Dec 21, 2011

I talked to a friend the other day who is not a writer. The discussion eventually turned to the topic because he asked me the standard question writers get regularly from friends and family: "How's the writing going" The question led to a discussion about my books, and then he said the other thing friends and family say about writing: "I have this great idea for a book, but I could never write it." Before I asked him what the idea was, I asked him why he couldn't write it. "I don't have that kind of discipline," he said.


After we discussed his idea, I told him he'd obviously given it a lot of thought, and I could tell he was excited by the idea. I thought it was a shame that he was going to let a little thing like lack of discipline keep him from writing the book. He gave me a perfunctory maybe and switched topics.


I sent him an email later that outlined how I developed the discipline to write a novel. I told him I slowly took up the practice of writing and harnessed the discipline authors are known for. I had an idea and wrote a few pages. Every so often, I came back to the story and wrote a little more. Four years later, I had half the book written. It wasn't until I shared what I had written with someone that the writing kicked into high gear, and I took the next year to finish the book. By the time I had typed "The End," I had an idea for another book, which took me about two years to write. The next one took me a year. The third one took me nine weeks to write. I now write a complete novel every year, with three or four others in various stages of development.


Yes, writing a novel takes discipline, but discipline takes time to develop. You aren't expected to crank out a bestseller in 30 days your first time out. Allow yourself the time to get your writer's legs without beating yourself up for not going fast enough. Every time you think you'll never finish, tell yourself it doesn't really matter if you finish or not. Relax. The discipline will come as long as you keep moving toward the goal. How quickly you get there isn't the issue. Just get there in your own time.


What's been your experience with honing your discipline as a writer?


-Richard

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

 

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How to Set SMART Writing Goals

SOLVED: The Outlining vs. Organic Writing Debate

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Dialogue. All you have to do is write down what one person would say to the other in a conversation. Sounds easy, right? But like most aspects of writing, "simple dialogue" usually takes a lot more thought and consideration than you might think.


What we hear and what is actually said are often two entirely different things. Just ask anyone you held a conversation with today, or even someone you shared words with a few minutes ago. They'll most likely give you a summary of the conversation, or when pressed to repeat what you said word for word, they'll probably either jumble it up or give you a few choice words of their own.


It's all about perception and reality. We hear what people mean, but the way in which they say it can be difficult to capture, making it much harder to write a "true" conversation. Those who are able to depict a true conversation, however, are more likely to draw their readers into their dialogue and thus more deeply into their stories.


Take, for example, this introductory dialogue:


"Hi! How are you doing?"
"I am fine, thank you. And yourself?"


If two of your characters are meeting for a casual dinner and you want them to greet each other at the table, you might write something along the lines of what's written above. But is that what they would really say?


"Hey, David! Long time no see."
"Bob! Good Lord, I haven't seen you in a dog's age. How're things holding up?"


This dialogue sounds a little more realistic. It's a lot less stiff and formal. Instead of two cardboard cutouts for characters, we have two men who apparently have an amiable history together, and one could even guess that the second character comes from somewhere in or near the country due to his use of the "dog's age" colloquialism. The biggest difference between the two examples is not just the use of names and a kitschy phrase, but the structure itself. The first dialogue is written in full sentences with complete words. The second more closely mimics speech by utilizing the human tendency to speak in sentence fragments and contractions. And that brings us to this week's exercise:


Exercise: In your own words


Take the following dialogue and re-write it in a way that you feel these two people would actually talk. Need some inspiration? Find a public place like a park, coffee shop, restaurant, or even a mall and just take a moment to listen. Don't be afraid to elaborate by describing the characters' movements, location, etc.


D1: "Why do you stay here? Why do you not go back to America? Did you do something illegal? I would like to think that you did something illegal; it makes it more interesting."

D2: "Maybe I did. Maybe I did more than one illegal thing."

D1: "But what brought you to this country?"

D2: "I have not been very well. I came here for the waters."

D1: "What waters? We are in the middle of the desert."

D2: "Someone did not give me very accurate information."

 

-Kristin

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Kristin is a content media coordinator with CreateSpace. She draws from a strong background in journalism and creative writing to help authors hone their skills and flex their artistic muscles.

 

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WordPlay: Challenging Your Perspective

WordPlay: A Strange Note

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Public speaking is a wonderful way to get the word out about your book. However, you'd be surprised at how much advanced planning is involved in setting up even the smallest of events. Coordinating with a local book club or business group could take months, and major conferences select their speakers up to a year in advance!


If you want to secure speaking engagements, you need to start way ahead of time. Before you start your outreach, you should create brief yet compelling descriptions about yourself, your book, and the topic(s) on which you can speak. Include a professional headshot and cover art of your book. If you have any testimonials from individuals or organizations that have heard you speak, include those as well. Save this document as your "speaking bio" and update it regularly with anything impressive about you or your book, e.g. awards, press mentions, or other organizations to which you have spoken.


Next up is outreach. In last week's post, I stressed the importance of tracking your marketing efforts, so if you took my advice and have already created a marketing spreadsheet, that's one less thing on your to-do list. As you begin your research and outreach, keep track of each organization you contact (or plan to contact) with enough detail to refresh your memory the next time you visit the document. The purpose of the tracking document is to keep you from reinventing the wheel, so be sure to note relevant information, which can vary for each organization.


As you go, you'll probably receive multiple replies along the lines of "We'd love to have you speak at [name of conference/event/club/etc. here], but we're all booked," so you'll quickly learn the importance of starting early. But that's okay! There's always next time, and you've already done the research for that particular organization. Plus, each time you reach out, you're not only networking, but also making contact with a potential reader - and that never hurts.


-Maria

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor. She writes romantic comedies and provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.


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Keep Track of Your Successes

Keep Your Chin Up!

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With winter already making an appearance, now is a great time to practice working on some cool descriptions; and what better concept to describe this time of year than the cold?


Merriam-Webster defines "cold" as "having or being a temperature that is uncomfortably low for humans." This is a great example of show vs. tell. The definition tells us what cold is, but it certainly doesn't show us. That's where you, the writer, come in. The authors of reference materials can tell us the meanings of words like "sub-zero" and "frostbite," but we won't understand it and we won't feel it until a writer describes it so well that shivers run down our spines.


In 1908, author Jack London published a short story titled "To Build a Fire." If you haven't read it, I won't give the ending away, but it gives an incredibly descriptive depiction of almost unimaginable cold:


"When it is seventy-five below zero, a man must not fail in his first attempt to build a fire - that is, if his feet are wet...No matter how fast he runs, the wet feet will freeze the harder...The extremities were the first to feel its absence. His wet feet froze the faster, and his exposed fingers numbed the faster, though they had not yet begun to freeze. Nose and cheeks were already freezing, while the skin of all his body chilled as it lost its blood."


And this leads us to this week's exercise:

 

Exercise: How cold is it?


There are hundreds of phrases in common use that describe being cold, and some of them can be somewhat contradictory ("It's cold as heck!" for example), but a true artist can make even the most mundane sound new. This week, see if you can come up with a new way to say "It's cold" or to describe the cold. Keep in mind that you are "showing" your reader the cold, not just telling them outright. And don't be afraid to think outside of the box! You don't have to reference blizzards, snow, or ice; sometimes the best descriptions, the ones that really hit home, draw correlations that the reader would never have imagined before.


-Kristin

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Kristin is a content media coordinator with CreateSpace. She draws from a strong background in journalism and creative writing to help authors hone their skills and flex their artistic muscles.

 

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If you want to write consistently, you should take care of that one body part that is essential to tapping into your creativity: your brain. Your right brain needs fuel to keep firing those neurons and feeding your creative energy. Here are four things you can incorporate into your life to fuel your creative mind.

 

  1. Exercise - Writing is a sedentary lifestyle. You sit at a computer and type away for hours, and usually there's a snack on hand. Consider stepping away from the computer for some exercise to engage both your body and your brain. Just because you're not at the computer doesn't mean you're not writing; I've worked out plot lines and character flaws in the middle of a run or vigorous workout. Exercise increases blood flow to your brain, and I think you'll find that blood flow will help you be more creative.
  2. Food - Those snacks we talked about earlier don't have to be of the junk food variety. You can snack on brain-healthy foods while you write. Leafy greens, berries, broccoli, and all-natural oatmeal bars are great for snacking while writing. I've even been known to prepare a healthy dish on Sunday that I nibble on throughout the week.
  3. Meditation - Meditating is a strategy that many writers are reluctant to try because they don't think they have time. But meditating is nothing more than making a connection with yourself. It's a chance to enter a world of undisturbed calm and manage the stress that is blocking your creative centers. Devoting 20 minutes a day to yourself may lead to more productivity later.
  4. Communication - You may be able to sit in your office and dream up fantastic worlds without ever stepping outside and interacting with other people, but living in the real world and getting ideas through observing and interacting with other people is a much healthier strategy. When you feel connected to the world around you, it opens up your creativity and allows you to explore topics more deeply and be more relatable to readers.

 

Your job isn't just to write; your job is to take care of yourself so you can be a better writer. Brain health is essential to your writing life - treat it like your writing depends on it!

 

-Richard

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

 

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Have you ever thought about writing in a style other than your own? It's a hard question to answer and even harder to try, because once one style becomes comfortable, it tends to stick. Think about the last email you wrote or the last notes you scribbled down for your manuscript. Regardless of the reason for your writing, little ways in which you form your sentences (or don't form them), the words you use, and even the punctuation you prefer work together to create your unique style. So have you ever tried to step out of that and write in a way that is purely unique to you?


Think about how you would describe, say, an overcast sky. A mystery author might describe it as "ominous," or a romance writer might say it "appears threatening." A science fiction novelist might call it "dark and metallic," while a literary author might describe it as "stygian." How would you describe an overcast sky? Better yet, how would you describe the landscape underneath it?


To challenge your perspective, think about the last books you've read. What were their genres? Were they all the same, or were they closely related? Were they all different authors, or were many by the same person? Sometimes we get stuck in a rut, writing in the same manner and reading the same type of material. While it's a comfortable place to be, it might help to shake off the cobwebs of complacency and challenge your personal status quo every once in a while. That brings us to this week's exercise:

 

Exercise: I would never have thought to write that...

 

Write down a description of some of these items in your own voice, and then think about how you could write a new description for each in an entirely different manner. Don't be afraid to reach for a thesaurus or bounce some ideas off of a friend for inspiration.

 

1)    An article of clothing on a passerby

2)    The drink in front of you

3)    The bumper sticker on the back of an old car

4)    An outdoor fire

5)    A home-cooked meal

6)    A fishing line

7)    A construction site

8)    A dirt road


Bonus challenge: For the next book you read, pick out a type of book you have never, ever considered reading. Whether you find that you love it, hate it, or are indifferent to it, at least you've expanded your reading horizons and learned a little more about the diversity of writing styles out there.

 

-Kristin

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Kristin is a content media coordinator with CreateSpace. She draws from a strong background in journalism and creative writing to help authors hone their skills and flex their artistic muscles.

 

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