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501 Posts tagged with the writing tag
1

I don't have the best memory, so when I'm working on a book, I've learned to use my phone to keep me from forgetting a good idea if I'm not at my desk. My first preference is to use sticky notes, but I don't always have them (not to mention a pen) with me. I almost always have my phone, however. Here are three tricks you can use:

 

  1. Voice recorder: My smartphone comes with a "voice recorder" app built right in. How cool is that? I just open it, push the button and leave myself a message. Sometimes they're super short (Make protagonist a redhead! Name the brother Rick!), but the beauty of a voice recording is that I can also ramble a bit when I want to. I'm the only one who's going to listen to the messages, so they don't have to be remotely polished.
  2. Evernote: I keep hearing how great Evernote is. With the Evernote app, you can keep all types of content related to your book - including photos you might snap that inspire you - all in one place.
  3. Email/text messages: I text and email myself little reminder notes all the time. They are short and sweet and riddled with typos, but they are filled with useful information I wouldn't otherwise remember. I'm chuckling as I write this because it sounds a bit ridiculous, but it works!

 

 

When it comes to writing a book, you never know when inspiration will strike. You're not in front of your computer 24/7, so neither is your imagination. My memory isn't smart enough to keep track of everything on its own, so it's a good thing my phone is.

 

-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, and Chocolate for Two. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Six-Second Branding with Apps

More Tips for Completing Your Manuscript

3,774 Views 1 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, craft, evernote
1

Is It Good Enough?

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Feb 3, 2014

It is the impossible question; one I'm not sure any writer can answer, not with any kind of absolute, unwavering confidence. That one question? How do you know if your book is good enough?

 

For me, it's a question that pops up every time I sit down to write. Whether it's starting a new story or a new chapter, I always have that little inner voice cackling away in the back of my head. "How do you know this is even worth writing?" When someone reads my writing for the first time, my inner voice turns into a piercing admonishment. "What made you think it was good enough to share with another living, breathing human being?" And when I finally give my final approval and publish it for the world to see, that inner voice is practically weeping at my stupidity.

 

Here's the thing: I never know if it's good enough to publish. Even with pats on the back from advance readers, I can't turn that question in my head off. So, my solution is to ignore it. I've come to accept that doubt is just a part of any artistic endeavor, and if I waited to know the answer to that impossible question before I published, I'd never publish.

 

"Is it good enough?" is a healthy question to ask ourselves as artists because it will always push us to strive to become better. But it's not a question for which you should expect an answer. Let that little voice in your head chatter way, and just move forward.

 

-Richard

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

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On Being Original

Your Gift to Yourself

2,640 Views 1 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, indie, writing
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There is a belief among a large number of people that artists only create worthwhile material out of tragedy, that hardship is the engine that drives the creative process. As a youngster finding my way as a writer, I even latched on to this particular philosophy and forced myself into states of contrived depression in order to find my creative force. I wanted to fit the part, after all.

 

But as I've grown as a writer, I've come to realize that the tragedy doesn't have to be my tragedy. In fact, I've never been able to successfully express my feelings about my own personal struggles in a book. However, I can explore the tragedies that befall my characters. It's surprisingly easy for me to deconstruct and lay out on the page.

 

I reject the notion that the only worthwhile artist is the starving artist. I think we all have something to say. Happy, depressed, angry, sleepy, etc., everyone has something to say. That something doesn't necessarily have to belong to us. It can belong to our characters. I would even go so far as to suggest that it should belong to our characters. The writer should be as removed from the process as possible.

 

As you're writing, don't focus on yourself and your emotional state. Try to reach a point where you're nothing but an observer. Don't write what you feel. Write what you see. Give your characters room to be themselves. Your tragedy or triumphs shouldn't be apparent in the stories you write.

 

-Richard

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

 

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What Do Your Characters Want?

Feeling Emotion for Characters

2,441 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, author, writers, writing, craft
1

In a previous post, I recommended doing one thing per day, every day, to promote your book. If you took that advice to heart, you're probably currently in the process of building a "marketing checklist" and might also be wondering what to put on it. In addition to the items I suggested last week, here are three additional ideas to include:

 

  1. Set up a Twitter account. Even if you aren't ready to actually tweet anything, set up an account before you get too famous and someone uses your Twitter name for their account. (Optimism is a good thing!) Using your real name makes it easy for people to find you. My Twitter handle is @mariamurnane.
  2. Add a fun line about your book beneath in the "signature" of your personal e-mail account. If you have a website, include a link to that as well. The signature is typically found in the "settings" section of any e-mail account. Using a signature is a great way to tell people about your book without telling people about your book. My signature says "Best-selling author of the Waverly books, novels for anyone who has ever run into an ex while looking like crap. www.mariamurnane.com."
  3. If you don't have a website, register a domain. (GoDaddy is a good place to start.) I always recommend selecting www.yourname.com, or if that is taken, then www.yournameauthor.com or www.yournamebooks.com. Just like with your Twitter handle, you want to make it easy for your fans to find you. I don't recommend going with www.nameofyourbook.com because what happens when you write your second book? That may sound like crazy talk now, but it is quite possible that one day you will write a second book! (See my above note about optimism.)

 

I know marketing sounds scary for many authors, but remember what I said last week: If I've learned anything about book marketing over the years, it's that persistence pays off, and little things do add up. So take one thing at a time, and keep going!

 

-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, and Chocolate for Two. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Tips for Engaging Your Readers Online

A Few Reasons to Have a Website

9,929 Views 1 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, author, writing, promotions
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Offline Branding

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Jan 27, 2014

It's 2014. It feels like nearly everyone is focused on building a personal brand these days. The strategies used are the ones we devote a lot of virtual space to on this blog: establishing an active social media presence, incorporating personal videos and maintaining an author's blog. These are the staples of branding in this age of online marketing. But they aren't the only tools at your disposal. In fact, the online community isn't the only community you can market to. You can take your brand offline and reach people in the real world.

 

Yes, there is a real world out there full of people made of flesh and blood. They talk instead of tweet, and they actually laugh when the occasion calls for it instead of typing out LOL. This world full of actual people is underutilized by authors. It's a shame because it's full of so many brand building opportunities.

 

An offline strategy could include book signings and personal appearances. You could organize writing seminars at your local library. You could even create a fan appreciation night for your genre at a local hangout. You might even find a local theater that's willing to stage performances of works by local writers. The possibilities are endless.

 

Building your brand online is integral to your success as an author, but your local community is just as valuable to you. If you establish yourself in your hometown as a resident author involved in the local art scene, your neighbors will talk among themselves and to their friends online. Your reputation and brand will flourish as a result.

 

-Richard

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

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How to Make a Personal Appearance a Success

Organizing a Public Reading

1,402 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, writing, promotions, branding
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Welcome to the Weekly News Roundup - a collection of news, advice and opinions from around the virtual globe.

 

Books/Publishing

 

How to Use Breaking News to Buzz Your Book - Eight Strategies -The Future of Ink

Your opinion counts on matters you devoted your book to, so why doesn't the media know how to contact you?

 

3 Book Marketing Projects to Tackle in 2014 - Duolit

Make the year ahead a productive and fruitful one with these three marketing projects. 

 

Film

 

How to Turn That Passion for Writing and Filmmaking into a Reality - FAST - Raindance

Passion to action. Action to achievement. Achievement to reality.   

 

How Do You Define "Independent Film" in 2014? - Indie Wire

Technology has democratized the film industry and blurred the lines between studio, independent and no-budget filmmaking.     

                                    

Music

 

12 Ways to Make More Money with Your Music - Hypebot.com

Twelve music industry insiders share their best advice on how to bring in the cash with your music. 

 

How to Make It in the Music Business - Judy Rodman

Before you can know if you've made it, you have to define what "making it" is.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup - January 17, 2014

Weekly News Roundup - January 10, 2014

1,517 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, filmmaking, sales, writing, book_marketing, social_media, independent_film, music_business, music_production
1

I have a book I've been writing for a number of years now. It's not my primary focus, and I only work on it when I've cleared other projects off my plate. This book is a passion project for me because it was something I started during the final year of my mother's life. She wasn't well, and she required care that my sister heroically provided. Mom always asked me what book I was working on ? even at her sickest. On one occasion, I told her about a gem of an idea I had at the time. She liked the idea so much I decided to start writing it. I sent her the pages as I did. My sister ended up having to read them to her because her eyesight was failing. She loved the book, so I kept writing. I wrote without a plan; I just wrote to entertain my mother. Unfortunately, she passed before I got 100 pages into the story, and I still haven't finished the book. 

 

 

It's well over 100,000 words at this point and far from complete. Beyond knowing the book will be broken up into three parts, I have no plan for the story. There are no notes to organize my thoughts. I don't know how the characters will fare or when it will even end. It's the most unorganized writing I have ever done and I probably shouldn't admit this, but I like it. It's fun writing without a really clear path and just discovering these characters as they face situations I have no idea they will face until I am at the keyboard tapping away.

 

 

So here's my question to you, my fellow indie authors: how do you approach a story? Do you know where you're going, or does your day of writing end in utter surprise? 

 

-Richard

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

 

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Keep a Private Journal

You Aren't Your Characters

1,529 Views 1 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, author, writing, drafts, development, writing_process, craft, writing_ideas
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When I was writing my first novel, I was so excited to be WRITING A NOVEL that I ended up writing a lot of scenes that had nothing to do with the actual plot. But I didn't care because it was so fun to be WRITING A NOVEL! When I finished the first draft I was so thrilled to see my own words on the page that I didn't consider that readers might be confused by the superfluous scenes sprinkled throughout the manuscript. I found them entertaining enough to include simply because I'd written them. That was enough for me.

 

My agent, however, had other ideas. She had me cut out several scenes, gently explaining to me that, although mildly amusing, they had nothing to do with the plot. She also explained, again very gently, that it was important to keep pushing the story forward.

 

I am forever grateful to her for that sage advice.

 

If you're anything like I was when I was working on my first book, you're so excited to be creating an actual book that it's easy to go off on tangents here and there without realizing it. To avoid doing this, I suggest periodically asking yourself questions such as "Is this scene advancing the plot?" or "Is this going to tie back into the story at some point?" Checking in on occasion will keep you from veering too far off track. And bonus: It will also allow you to finish the first draft of your book much faster. In the time it took me to write (and rewrite, and rewrite, and rewrite) my first novel, I've written four more - not kidding.

 

I applaud anyone willing to put in the effort it takes to write an entire book, but while it's undeniably exciting to see your own words on the page, staying focused on the plot will make the process much smoother - and make for a better story.

 

-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, and Chocolate for Two. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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What Is a Character Arc?

 

Use Beats to Show, Not Tell

3,495 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, plot_development
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I wish you success. Every indie author who reads this should know that it is my sincere hope that your book is much beloved by a massive number of readers. I want them to be fanatical about your book. May they take to the social media universe and spread the word far and wide about how wonderful your book is. May they give your book as gifts to their family and friends because they are anxious to share its genius with the world. In short, I hope your book becomes a sensation and brings you wealth and recognition beyond your wildest dreams.

 

You should know my desire for you to succeed isn't altruistic. Here's the thing about books: A book rarely becomes a phenomenon without causing collateral success. What I mean is that when readers fall so in love with a book that they can't stop talking about it, they become hungry for more. They want to repeat that feeling. They'll search and search and search until they find it. To put it another way, they'll buy book after book until they fall in love again, and then repeat the cycle.

 

We indie authors are a community that benefits from one another's successes. We should support one another as such. Next time you see one of your contemporaries become a publishing sensation, don't wring your hands and wonder why it wasn't you. Smile and wish the author well, very well. Celebrate his or her success publicly. That author is paving a way for all indie authors. I'm not asking you to endorse a book falsely. If you read it and didn't care for it, so be it. That doesn't mean you can't be happy that they ignited the passion of a large number of readers. That passion will spread to other books, maybe even yours. So support your fellow indie authors - if not for them, for your own sake.

 

-Richard

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

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Bring Your Community Together through Writing

2014: The Year of Participation

11,288 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, promotions
2

On Being Original

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Jan 15, 2014

Today's post is a question to ponder as you explore and develop your creative writing chops. We all strive to write something different. Whether it's a new spin on an old concept or a character never before seen in a protagonist or antagonist role, we writers want to offer something not seen or imagined before. The question is: Can you be too original? 

 

New is difficult to appreciate. New is foreign, and as a result it's often misunderstood. Traditional publishers and movie studios rarely embrace material that is original for those very reasons. They are afraid they won't receive their return on investment if they try something never done before. It's impossible to know how the consumer will respond to something they've never experienced.

 

The rise of the indie artist has changed the tide dramatically in recent years. Innovative material is hitting the market like it never has before. A few of these books have gone on to find enormous success while still others have fizzled. The beauty of this DIY, inventory-free publishing model is that the artist can take risks with minimal financial investment. Yes, they invest time, but if nothing else, that investment isn't wasted because it goes toward honing the writer's craft. 

 

So as you move forward, remember you are an indie author. You have total control over the material you publish. Don't be afraid to stretch and take risks with the story. Give the reader something new not because they demand it, but because the world needs something new. The story style and structure is still evolving. The evolution of story relies on revolutionary authors who strive to write something original - even if some might call it too original.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Should You Capitalize on Writing Trends?

3 Reasons Original Content is King

11,120 Views 2 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, writers, writing, drafts, writing_process, craft, indie_publishing, creative_writing, plot_development
1

In a previous post, I talked about character arcs. This week, I'd like to delve into the characters themselves. I like to give mine little quirks. Why? Because I think quirks are what make people real, and I want my readers to think my characters are like real people.

 

Here's an example: I've written four novels with the same protagonist, and once in a while she tells corny jokes. She thinks they're funny, but the truth is they're pretty stupid. (I get most of them from my sister, who gets them from her nine-year-old son.) The jokes are admittedly silly, but I've received many emails from readers telling me how much they love that my protagonist continues to tell them. Some readers have even sent me suggestions for corny jokes to use in future books.

 

Quirks can come in all shapes and sizes. Does your character have a pet phrase? (Think Vince Vaughn in Swingers and "Vegas, Baby") A phobia? (Think Indiana Jones and snakes) A favorite drink? (Think James Bond and "shaken, not stirred") A mild obsession? (Think Monica from Friends and cleanliness). These idiosyncrasies help the characters jump off the screen (or leap off the pages) into the real world. They bring the characters to life, which is exactly what you want. Cardboard people are boring, and cardboard characters are just as uninteresting.

 

One of my favorite characters in my novels is a witty guy who likes to wear T-shirts with equally witty slogans on them. Every time I wrote him into a scene I was excited to find out what his T-shirt was going to say. I wish I could be friends with this guy in real life, I found myself thinking. And I made him up!

 

As you work on developing your characters, think of how you can make them unique. In real life, no two people are exactly alike, but in the pages of your book it's up to you to show the reader why your characters are different. It can seem a bit overwhelming at first, but once you let your imagination get to work, it's not as hard as you might think. Just go with it, and have fun.

 

-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, and Chocolate for Two. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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What Is a Character Arc?

Give Your Characters Virtual Depth

1,510 Views 1 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, character_arcs
1

I am fortunate to have a wife who enjoys reading my work at its earliest and ugliest stages, and she doesn't just read it to herself; she reads it out loud for me as I sit next to her and absorb the story from a completely different perspective. I've mentioned before that I've been known to record myself reading pages so I can listen back and actually hear my story. I find it to be a valuable tool for writing a better book, but in a lot of ways, listening to my wife read the material is even more valuable.

 

Why? Because she does more than read - she simulates the average reader's reaction to every twist and turn. She asks questions along the way. She challenges my use of a particular word or description and requires me to think about what I've written. At times, I feel very much like a graduate student defending my thesis, and I love it. It is a golden opportunity to consider aspects of my story I may have taken for granted as the author. Forging this type of relationship takes a heavy dose of patience and respect. You won't always see eye-to-eye on everything, but that's okay. You don't have to.

 

If you have someone in your life whom you trust implicitly, schedule some time with them to read some pages aloud. Test the waters. You may have to agree to the dishes or some other chore for a week, but it's worth it. You'll get a true taste of how your readers will see your story, and you'll likely get some invaluable feedback along the way.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Nix Unnecessary Words

How to Get Through the First Draft

2,332 Views 1 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, book, editing, author, writing, manuscript, drafts
0

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

 

Books/Publishing

 

Blog Carnival: Marketing Tips for Authors -Marketing Tips for Authors

A collection of links to posts on all-things books and publishing.         

                                                    

Too Much Vertical Space in Your Manuscript? -The Book Deal

Are you including enough writing in your writing?

 

Film

                                                        

Achieving That Film Look - New Channel Media Blog

Tips and tricks on how to give a digital image that film look.

                                          

Why All Film Directors Need To Know How to Act - NoamKroll.com

Having experience as an actor will allow you to communicate better on set. 

                                                                                                                                              

Music

 

Becoming a Better Singer - MusicianCoaching.com

Renowned vocal coach Linda Septien shares her thoughts on the art of singing.

 

Does Music Make You Smarter? (The Mozart Effect) -Maestro Musicians

Has music given you better spatial temporal reasoning?

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup - December 20, 2013

Weekly News Roundup - December 13, 2013

2,451 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, music, filmmaking, indie, movies, writers, writing, films, musicians, craft, filmmakers, branding, social_media
3

I receive a lot of email from authors who have questions about how to market their books. When the emails are well-written, I naturally assume that their books are probably also well-written. I know we're never supposed to assume anything, but if the authors show attention to detail in their emails to me, it seems logical to presume their books have also been carefully edited - and thus worth reading.

 

One detail that makes me smile is when authors correctly use "its" and "it's." The difference between the two can be extremely confusing because, while most nouns require use of an apostrophe to denote possession (e.g. "this is Maria's blog"), the possessive of "it" does not.

 

Here are some examples:

 

CORRECT:

I'm wondering if you have any tips for how I can promote my novel, XYZ. It's a story about a family in the South and its battle with alcoholism.

 

INCORRECT:

I'm wondering if you have any tips for how I can promote my novel, XYZ. It's a story about a family in the South and it's battle with alcoholism.

 

CORRECT:

I'm having trouble getting my book noticed despite its appeal to teenagers. Would you recommend hiring a publicist?

 

INCORRECT:

I'm having trouble getting my book noticed despite it's appeal to teenagers. Would you recommend hiring a publicist?

 

When I receive messages that correctly use its and it's, I immediately notice the author's grasp of grammar - and take the book more seriously as a result. It makes a good impression, and that's what you want to do when you're promoting your book.

 

Just yesterday I saw a crowdsourcing campaign for a woman trying to get funding for her novel. Unfortunately, the summary of it was riddled with grammatical errors, which made me feel bad for her because I knew it would hamper her efforts, no matter how amazing her book might be. On the flip side, paying attention to detail will help create a positive first impression, which can open doors for you and your book.

                                                               

-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 and Honey on Your Mind. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

 

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Grammar Tip: She and I, Not Her and I

The Dreaded "Who vs. Whom"

2,832 Views 3 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, editing, writing, grammar
2

Hearing from a fan via email or social media is usually a thrill. There is no better feeling than absorbing their praise and feeling your ego inflate in the process. It's hard not to smile and think, "Yeah, they're completely right. I am that good." Then there are those emails you get from people who aren't fans. They've found something so egregious with what you've written that they feel the need to contact you and let you know just how egregious it was. Recently, I was on the receiving end of such an email and it threw me for a bit of a loop. 

 

The person objected to a word I had used, not in the book itself, but in the description of the book. She admitted to not having read my book. She had just seen it online. She felt so offended by this word that she felt the need to contact me. She started off the email by saying, "I know you probably won't take the time to reply, but..." before going on to describe her complaint in detail.

 

At first, I rolled my eyes because the word is not profane, nor could it be construed in any way as a slur of some kind. It was a perfectly innocent word that I actually used because I felt like it accurately, yet sensitively conveyed what I wanted to say.

 

I read her email several times before I decided to reply. I wanted to make sure that I gave her opinion every consideration, and I did. That doesn't mean I agreed with her, and I very politely let her know that while I appreciated her point of view, I wouldn't be making any changes to the description anytime soon. She replied letting me know that she was grateful for my response. She was disappointed that we couldn't see eye-to-eye, but she understood that I had to do what I felt was right.

 

The exchange taught me a valuable lesson that all authors can apply: disagreements don't have to be ugly arguments. They can be thoughtful debates between people. Don't blow your stack when someone challenges you on your writing. Consider their point, give them a well-reasoned reply, and thank them for the opportunity to address their concerns. That's it. You'll feel better about yourself, and you may even make a new friend in the process.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Who Do You Write For?

Make It Easy for Readers to Find You

2,691 Views 2 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, writers, readers, writing, criticism, fanbase
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