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835 Posts tagged with the writing tag
7

My upstairs neighbor Alexandra, who is a big fan of my books, recently read one of my newest titles, Cassidy Lane. She told me she loved it, but she'd also lost track of how many times in the story Cassidy "walked home slowly." I thanked her for her honesty because I hadn't noticed my tendency to overuse that phrase.

 

Neither had the developmental editor.

 

Or the copyeditor.

 

Or the proofreader.

 

But my neighbor had, and that's what matters, right?

 

Yes!

 

Lesson learned.

 

We all have our pet phrases in both the spoken and written word, and we will always have them. The key to growing as an author is to identify what they are, then either A) stop using them so much, or B) use the "find" feature in Microsoft Word to replace them with something else. My friend Alberto, who loves to read early drafts of my books, once pointed out how often my protagonist "bit her lip." Now when I'm tempted to use that expression, I hold back. (Apparently I've moved on to "walked home slowly.")

 

What do you do if you aren't even aware of your pet phrases? This is where your friends and beta readers can help you. I know from personal experience that friends often want to help out, but they admittedly don't have the skill set to provide the type of constructive feedback you need. Or they don't want to hurt your feelings by being critical of your work. However, many of those same people would be delighted to read your manuscript with an eye for over usage of particular phrases.

 

My neighbor is the perfect example of this type of reader. Perhaps I will email her the draft of my next book, then walk home slowly to my apartment.

 

-Maria

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor. She is the award-winning author of the romantic comedies Perfect on Paper, It's a Waverly Life, Honey on Your Mind, Chocolate for Two, Cassidy Lane, and Katwalk. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Apostrophes Indicate Possession, Not Plural

Affect vs. Effect

4,550 Views 7 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, author, writers, writing, drafts, craft, writing_tips, plot_development, writing_help
3

I dabble in the thriller genre under a pen name. I'm still learning my way, but I am having a blast diving into the tension-filled moments and dangerous scenarios. Before I tried my hand at writing a thriller, I was a fan. From my perspective, I see the genre divided into two segments that I call "expert thrillers" and "average Joe thrillers." Granted, there are sub-genres that include military thrillers, crime thrillers, science fiction thrillers, etc. That's not what I'm referring to when I talk about there being two segments. I base my observation on the type of protagonist at the center of the thriller.

 

In the first type, the "expert thriller," protagonists possess skills and knowledge that make them the perfect people to navigate the twist and turns of a story. The characters are usually in law enforcement, ex-military, or spies. They dish out as much pain as they endure. Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan novels are a good example of this type of thriller.

 

In the second type, the "average Joe thriller," the protagonist isn't suited to face the danger at all. Usually the character is in the wrong place at the wrong time and is forced into a fight-or-flight situation. The example that comes to mind here is one of my favorite movies, North by Northwest. In the movie, advertising executive Roger Thornhill has only his will to survive to outwit the assassins out to kill him.

 

I see the merits in both segments, but the type of thrillers I tend to write are average Joe thrillers. I don't have the background to approach the story from the expert's perspective. How about you thriller writers reading this blog post? What type do you write?

 

-Richard

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

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A Satisfactory Ending

Avoid Gratuitous Material

1,904 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, thriller, genre
0

Welcome to the Weekly News Roundup - a collection of news, advice and opinions from around the virtual globe.

 

Books/Publishing

 

Five Moral Dilemmas That Make Characters (& Stories) Better - Writer's Digest

Without moral dilemmas, your character won't experience growth. 

                           

Six Tips for Writing Minor Characters - The Passive Voice

Minor characters do have a major impact on your story.       

 

Film

                                                        

How Movies Trick Your Brain into Empathizing with Characters - WIRED

Feeling a little schizophrenic? You might be watching a movie.    

                                          

The Minimalist Guide to Making a Movie - Filmmaking Stuff

You don't need to wait for the perfect moment to make a film. 

                                                                                                                                              

Music

 

Four Reasons You Should Sell Your Music by the Single - musicgoat.com

The release of singles may be back in a big way.

 

Niche Music Markets: How to Dominate Genres and Themes - Bob Baker's TheBuzzFactor.com

Sometimes the narrower the market, the better.  

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup- October 3, 2014

Weekly News Roundup- September 26, 2014

1,803 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, authors, marketing, music, filmmaking, film, author, self-publishing, indie, movies, writing, films, musicians, craft, filmmakers, social_media
0

I've stated before that I am not a "message" writer. Meaning, I don't write a novel with the purpose of addressing or revealing deep, philosophical themes and beliefs. I don;t begrudge anyone who does. We all have our own styles and paths as writers. I am just not talented enough to nudge these types of messages into a story line without making it look obvious, and in my mind, looking obvious is a serious storytelling offense.

 

As writers, we should avoid "on the nose" passages that more or less force a reader to draw a certain conclusion about the secret meaning behind the purpose of a book. These passages are usually found within symbolic events that a writer strategically places throughout the story to subtly reveal what they're really trying to say. The problem is these symbolic events aren't quite as subtle as they were thought to be.

 

For example, a protagonist struggling to get ahead in a cutthroat work environment may witness a small child strolling through the park, stopping only to smell a rose bush in full bloom. Suddenly, our protagonist gets it. The point of life is to enjoy life. That is "on the nose" symbolism, and it can draw groans and eye rolls from readers.

 

Include those secret messages in your story if you must, but navigate the terrain carefully. Avoid lazy writing with "on the nose" symbolism, and dig deeper. Reveal your hidden message without letting your readers know it's there. It's not easy to do, but it's worth the effort. Your readers will thank you by recommending your book to their friends and family.

 

  -Richard

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

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Don't Insult Your Readers

3 Rules for Writing a Scene

2,360 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: books, authors, author, self-publishing, writers, readers, writing, craft, character_development, writing_tips, writing_ideas
0

A few posts back I blogged about author Cathy Livingstone's effective approach to soliciting reviews for her book. Today, I'd like to share a smart strategy for attracting readers to your blog.

 

Recently a savvy author by the name of Marlene Cullen contacted me via my website to tell me that she'd enjoyed one of my recent blog posts and wanted to request permission to repost it on her own site, with a link back to mine. Turns out she regularly asks authors to "guest blog" for her.

 

How could I say no to her invitation? It was good exposure for me. And it was a smart move by Marlene.

 

I know a lot of authors don't blog because they have no idea what to say. If you fall into that category, perhaps you can take a page from Marlene's book. Reach out to others and ask permission to repost their content. Not only will it help drive traffic to your site, which includes information about your book(s), but it will also give you an idea for the type of content that draws visitors. (Installing Google Analytics, which is free, allows you to monitor the daily traffic on each page of your site, which hyperlinks get clicked, which search terms lead people to your site, etc.)

 

Over time you can begin adding your own content, but this strategy will help get you started. It will also get you into the routine of managing your blog on a regular basis, which is important. Book promotion, just like writing, is all about consistency. And who knows? If you contact the right person for your blog, you might end up in a post like this one. Good job, Marlene!

 

-Maria

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor. She is the award-winning author of the romantic comedies Perfect on Paper, It's a Waverly Life, Honey on Your Mind, Chocolate for Two, Cassidy Lane, and Katwalk. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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What Should You Blog About?

Authors' Four Structural Essentials for Blogs

2,705 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, blogging, writing, promotions
3

I am periodically contacted by beginning writers looking for advice on a variety of topics related to the craft of writing and the business of publishing. In almost every case, they don't have specific questions they want addressed. Their questions are generic in nature. I get the feeling that the person contacting me just wants to know that they aren't alone in their pursuit and struggles to find their voice and audience.

 

Here are the five most frequent issues and topics I discuss with those new writers:

 

  1. The one-sentence rule – If you can describe the plot of your book in one concise sentence, I believe you have a story idea that will connect with readers. Why? Because I know you have a grasp of what your story is about, and I know you know how to convey what your book is about. Those are two crucial elements to writing a successful book.

  2. Readers before sales – Your focus shouldn't be on how many books you sell as a beginning indie author. Your focus should be on how many readers are exposed to your brand. That means giving books away is going to be a crucial part of your marketing plan in the beginning. Over the long run, as your readership grows, the passive sales will grow as well. It just takes patience.

  3. Don't be in a hurry – Speaking of patience, building an author brand is a long-term commitment. This isn't a get rich scheme. It's not even a one book and done scheme. Building an author brand takes time and a catalog of books in order to be robust enough to pull in sustainable sales over time. Relax and enjoy the ride.

  4. No unsolicited material – Never send an unsolicited manuscript to someone and ask them to read your book. Strike up a conversation with them, create a relationship with them first, and then ask for their feedback. This tactic has worked on me every time.

  5. Don't let frustration get to you – Pursuing a dream is worth it because it is a pursuit riddled with frustrations and pitfalls. Succeeding in spite of the difficulties and obstacles is enormously satisfying. Hang in there and work your way through to the other side with your head held high.

-Richard

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


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The Bestseller Quandary

You Know More Than You Think You Do!

5,537 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, author, readers, publishing, writing, plot, writing_process, craft, focus_groups
0

Welcome to the Weekly News Roundup - a collection of news, advice and opinions from around the virtual globe.

 

Books/Publishing

 

The Self-Publishing Revolution Is Only Just Beginning. Reflections on My Stockholm Trip - The Creative Penn

The rules are changing and indie authors are calling the shots. 

                           

Why Publishing Shouldn't Be a One Person Show - The Future of Ink

Success in publishing depends on the people you surround yourself with.       

 

Film

                                                        

Lights, Camera, Action! How to Professionally Light Your Scene - Hollywood Oracle

Do you know how to get definition out of your shots?    

                                          

When Camera Choice Can Be the Most Important Factor in Achieving a Beautiful Image - Noam Kroll

You have to have the right camera to capture the right image. 

                                                                                                                                              

Music

 

How to Sing - 10 Habits of Successful Professional Singers - From the front of the Choir

The key is to be diligent and to be yourself.

 

Should We Sing like We Speak? - How to Sing Better

The vocal chords are engaged in two different ways when it comes to talking versus singing.  

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup - September 26, 2014

Weekly News Roundup - September 19, 2014

1,842 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, marketing, promotion, movies, writers, publishing, writing, promotions, musicians, filmmakers
5

There are times when I don't tell the entire truth when people ask what I do for a living. I will simply answer, "I'm a freelance writer," and leave it at that. I just don't want to hear myself talk about my books yet again because when I do go into the "author mode," I hear the words coming out of my mouth, and I sound like a guy who's self-promoting, and the word "undignified" pops up in my mind.

 

The fact is that I'm behaving like an idiot when I refuse to take an opportunity to talk about my books. I'm an indie author. Indie is short for independent. Independent means self-sufficient, self-reliant, self-supporting?the list of "self" coupled words goes on and on. If I'm not going to talk about my books when I'm given an open door to talk about what I do for a living, then I'm not really fulfilling my role as an indie author. It's not undignified to talk about my books. It's more or less a job requirement.

 

Even if your status as an indie author isn't your full-time occupation, it's still a business venture that you've entered into. You are no less an indie author with a total of $50 in royalties than if you're reading this blog post on the yacht you purchased with your royalties. So, if someone asks you what you do for a living, and you're a full-time accountant, is it okay to say you're an indie author because that's what you really want to talk about? Sure, just answer their question with a question. "Do you want to know what I do for a living or what I live to do?" It turns a mundane question about careers into a bigger discussion about dreams and aspirations. As far as I'm concerned, that's a much more fascinating conversation to have.

 

The point is you should take every opportunity you can to talk about your books. You're an indie author. It's your job.

 

-Richard

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

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Living the Indie Author Dream

Evaluating Yourself as an Indie Author

4,988 Views 5 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, author, writing, business_plan, craft, indie_publishing, indie_authors, marketing_advice
1

The other day I walked by a secondhand store that had a big pile of used books out front. Taped above the stack was a sign that said the following:

 

Book's 1$

 

Ugh. This made me sad, particularly so because they were selling books (not book's), which are filled with words (not word's).

 

I'm not sure how it happened, but the misuse of apostrophes is everywhere these days. Here's a quick refresher course on how to use them:

 

Apostrophes denote possession or a contraction:

 

  • This is my friend Gloria's book (This book belongs to my friend Gloria)
  • Bad grammar is my friend Gloria's pet peeve (My friend Gloria has a grammar pet peeve)
  • My friend Gloria's going to be upset when she sees that sign (My friend Gloria is going to be upset when she sees that sign)

 

If you want to denote a plural, just add an s

 

  • These books are for sale
  • The Smiths are on vacation
  • There is one Gloria and three Michaels in my grammar class

 

Note: Its vs. it's is a special use case as I explained in my past blog post.

 

Note: Some English words such as cactus or fungus have plurals that don't take an s (cacti, fungi), but this is the general rule.

 

I know grammar is a foreign language to many people, but it's important to use apostrophes correctly in both your manuscript and your marketing materials if you want to be taken seriously as an author. It may seem like a small thing, but trust me, people notice. Just ask my friend Gloria!

 

-Maria

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor. She is the award-winning author of the romantic comedies Perfect on Paper, It's a Waverly Life, Honey on Your Mind, Chocolate for Two, Cassidy Lane, and Katwalk. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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IT'S Just an Apostrophe, but Don't Discount ITS Importance

More Grammar Pet Peeves!

2,103 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, possession, grammar_tip
1

Unfinished and Happy

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Sep 29, 2014

I just finished the first draft of a project without actually finishing it. That is to say, I got to the conclusion of my main conflict, breathed in a feeling of accomplishment because I felt it hit the mark in every way, and then I wrote an ending I now hate. It's just wrong. The tone doesn't fit. The dialogue isn't in keeping with the rest of the book. It's just an ugly mess, and I don't care. In fact, I'm thrilled.

 

I'm not required by law to publish the work as is. I am free to change not just one word or two but all the words in the entire manuscript that don't belong. It took me a long time to come to the realization that I'm not judged for anything I write that isn't read by the public. Given that, I just write it badly in order to let it breathe a little.

 

What do I mean by "letting it breathe"? I mean a story can grow stagnate if you refuse to move forward unless you write it perfectly the first time. Forcing yourself to sit at the computer and painfully hammer out word after word at a snail's pace leads you down a path of resentment and bitterness for the story you once felt so passionately about. If you give yourself permission to write badly when you get stuck during the first draft stage, the story takes on a shape and form that you can tinker with, turn upside down, and rearrange until it's not an ugly mess.

 

If you find yourself unable to come up with the perfect ending for your book, don't. Come up with an imperfect ending. Finish it without actually finishing it. It's just the first draft.

 

-Richard

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

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How to Get Through the First Draft

After the First Draft

2,423 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, author, writing, prefect_ending
0

Welcome to the Weekly News Roundup - a collection of news, advice and opinions from around the virtual globe.

 

Books/Publishing

 

Lessons Learned from 3 Years as an Author-Entrepreneur - The Creative Penn

Joanna Penn describes her journey since leaving her career as an IT business consultant and becoming a full-time author. 

                           

What Does Editing Look Like? Behind The (Crime) Scene at The Editor's Screen - The Book Designer

A detailed look at what an editor actually does to your manuscript.       

 

Film

                                                        

How to Get Noticed as a Filmmaker - Filmmaking Stuff

Make your own breaks.    

                                          

Podcast Episode 41: Writing and Making a Feature - Projector Films

Two writers talk about the challenges, disasters, and triumphs they experienced directing their first film. 

                                                                                                                                              

Music

 

Alternative Music Venues: Where Else Can You Play? - Bob Baker's TheBuzzFactor.com

Bars and weddings aren't the only places to play..

 

Music-making Advice from Musicians That Non-musicians Might Find Useful - Music Thing

A fun tool to help musicians and non-musicians find inspiration.  

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup- September 19, 2014

Weekly News Roundup- September 12, 2014

1,736 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: marketing, music, filmmaking, editing, promotion, indie, movies, writing, advice, inspiration, musicians, filmmakers, author_tips, editing_process, music_venues
3

I'm not always a great story planner. More times than I care to admit, I just write without a formal outline or even a specific trajectory for a story. I just follow the creative mojo percolating in my gray matter. In perhaps the greatest example of an oxymoron, here is my plan for writing without a plan.

 

  • Meditate - Before you sit down to write, dedicate 20 minutes to quietly ruminate over the story. Limit the amount of light in the room. Find a comfortable chair. Close your eyes, breathe in deeply, and focus on one element of the story in your mind's eye. Don't force an outcome or direction. Let your imagination take over. Things may get wild and go completely off track, but that's okay. You're not committing anything to paper. You're just looking for glimpses of logic in a storm of creative thought.

 

  • Journal the chaos - Keep a notebook and pen next to your computer (or have an extra notebook if you write your first draft by hand). This notebook is your story journal. Since you're writing without a plan, you want to track all the comings and goings of characters and plot twists. A quick and concise reference of what you've already written can help you keep things moving along a consistent arch. Just because you don't know where you're ultimately going with a story doesn't mean you shouldn't keep track of where you've been.

 

  • Leave things undone - This is the Hemingway method of writing. You should end your writing not knowing what's going to happen next. Don't give into the temptation to write until you can't contribute another thought to the story for the day. Leave when the thoughts are still anxious to jump onto the page. This will give you the perfect element of story to meditate on the next day and give birth to that storm of creative thought.

 

This is what works for me when it comes to writing without a plan. If you have a plan for not planning, I'd love to hear it.

 

 

-Richard

 

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

 

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Organized or Unorganized?

Increase Your Productivity with Interval Writing

6,059 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, publishing, writing, story, fiction, drafts, craft, writer's_block
1

I recently received an email from a self-proclaimed "branding specialist" with the following subject line: Your invited: 7 Steps to More Dream Clients (workshop)

 

Needless to say, I did not open the email.

 

The workshop in question might in fact be excellent, but because of the grammatical error in the email invitation, my inclination is to think that it probably isn't. This is just another example of why it's so important to make sure your promotional materials are error-free. People are busy, so if you don't make a good impression immediately, they quickly move on to the next thing.

 

As an author, it's even more important to get your grammar right in your promotional materials because you're positioning yourself as a professional writer. If a potential reader (or reviewer, or book club moderator) sees errors on your website, author bio on Amazon, LinkedIn profile, Facebook page, etc., what are they going to think about the book itself? If they see you've mixed up your and you're in the description of your book, will they want to read it? I probably wouldn't. And unfortunately I'm not alone in that way of thinking. Most readers care about grammar.

 

If you're confused about the difference between your and you're, here's a quick refresher:

 

YOUR means BELONGING TO YOU:

This is your book

Your writing is really powerful

I plan to be at your house by noon

 

YOU'RE means YOU ARE:

You're invited to my house

You're welcome to come by anytime

You're probably sick of the way I drone on and on about grammar (but I won't stop - ha)

 

You want to give your book the best chance possible of succeeding, right? So take a few extra moments to make sure your grammar is correct. It's well worth it!

 

-Maria

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor. She is the award-winning author of the romantic comedies Perfect on Paper, It's a Waverly Life, Honey on Your Mind, Chocolate for Two, Cassidy Lane, and Katwalk. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Grammar Gaffes of Olympic Proportions

Just Say No to Random Capitalization!

2,266 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, author, writing, grammar_tip
0

I've become obsessed with crowdfunding projects as of late. It's something I've always wanted to attempt one day. It's a prospect that scares and intrigues me all at once. It's scary because if you fail, you fail in a very public arena. It's intriguing because if you succeed, it gives you a platform to draw more attention to your book.

 

Here are three elements of crowdfunding that I've observed over these several months of obsessively following projects here and there:

 

1. You aren't the focus - If you ask for people to financially support your project because it's something you've always dreamed of doing, no one beyond family and close friends will donate. The more you make the project about you, the more people will skip getting involved. The project, in this case, is related to your book. Keep the focus on your book.

 

2. Always be thankful - Be grateful every step of the way. When you appreciate the individuals who are supporting your crowdfunding project, they'll get enthusiastic. They'll be more inclined to spread the word and help you find more supporters for your project.

 

3. Simple and quirky wins - The quirkier the creative project the better. People like to talk about quirky projects. The more people talk about your project, the more people want to be involved. It's just the nature of the unusual. The trick is to keep it simple at the same time. If people don't understand what you're trying to accomplish, they're more than likely going to reject any involvement in your project.

 

If anyone out there has gone the crowdfunding route for a book launch or film based on your book, I'd love to know what your experience was like.

 

-Richard

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

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Social Networking Sells Your Brand

Take Control with Marketing Central

2,157 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, writing, promotions, crowdfunding
0

Welcome to the Weekly News Roundup - a collection of news, advice and opinions from around the virtual globe.

 

Books/Publishing

 

5 Ways to Beat Average - with Missy Tippens - The Seekers

The temptation to settle for a good word choice instead of the perfect word choice is always present when you're working on a book-length project. 

                           

6 Steps to Overcoming Social Media Writer's Block - Digital Book World

How to get over those moments when you just don't feel like promoting yourself on social media.       

 

Film

                                                        

Cameras Don't Make Movies, People Do - The Black and Blue

It's all about knowing how to use the camera you have.    

                                          

The Creative Process According to Francis Ford Coppola - Filmmaker IQ

The filmmaking legend says the writing is the most challenging part of filmmaking. 

                                                                                                                                              

Music

 

Music Publicity Tips: Three Great Pieces of Advice - Bob Baker's TheBuzzFactor.com

Let them know you're a perk, not a pest.

 

If Not Now, When? - Start Singing NOW! - From the Front of the Choir

There is no time like the present to go after your dreams.  

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup- September 12, 2014

Weekly News Roundup- September 5, 2014

1,932 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, music, filmmaking, author, indie, writers, writing, films, social, draft, music_marketing, musicians, craft, filmmakers, branding, social_media, singers, writer's_block, music_piblicity, creative_process
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