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Word by Word

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Dec 13, 2017

If you haven't read Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott's memoir and book on writing, I highly recommend it. The title refers to an incident involving her brother when they were children. He had a report on birds due the next day, and he hadn't written a word. He gathered all his research material and immediately became paralyzed by fear. The enormity of the project just became too much. That's when his father put his arm around him and said "Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird."

 

The second I read that passage I had a moment of clarity that I have never experienced before. I had never heard a more accurate description of how to write a book. It really is that simple. "Bird by bird," or to put it more accurately, word by word.

 

Writing a book is an enormous task. Even if it is a labor of love, it is still an enormous task. Sometimes, when you're feeling frustrated, it is hard to keep going. Like Anne Lamott's brother, you can become immobilized by the prospect of tackling such a big project. The only thing you can do is take it word by word.

 

Don't complicate the book writing process. Yes, plot, character development, dialogue, they're all aspects of writing a novel, but when you get down to it, they consist of words, and words are your specialty. They are your purview. Just take a deep breath, picture Anne Lamott's father putting his arm around her terrified brother and saying those magic words, "Bird by bird, buddy."

 

-Richard

 

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

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Writing a word a day

Increase your productivity with interval writing

391 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: book, publishing, writing, draft, writing_advice
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LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) is free for a basic account, so if you don't already have a profile, I highly recommend creating one. Here are some ways to promote your writing along with your other professional accomplishments:


Include the cover image of your book as the background to your headshot


To change the blue template background that appears on most LinkedIn profiles, click on the little pencil on the right side of your profile. That will open the Edit Intro window. Once inside the window, click on the little pencil on the upper right side to upload a file from your computer. (See my LinkedIn profile for an example.)


Describe your writing style and website in your headline and/or summary


The headline appears directly below your headshot, and the summary appears a few inches below that (beneath the city in which you live). To edit either or both, click on the little pencil on the right side of your profile. For example, my headline says "Bestselling novels, about life, love and friendship," and my summary says, "I write contemporary fiction and occasionally give speeches on the crazy story behind how I became an author: www.mariamurnane.com." (Depending on your profession, you might prefer to have your headline about your day job and your summary about your book.)


Add writer/author to your work history


Even if you have a full-time job, why not cite that you're also an author in your work history? Scroll down to the Experience section of your profile and click on the little pencil to open the Edit Experience window. When asked to name an employer for your author position, add your author website.


Add your book (or books) to your profile


Scroll down the Accomplishments section and click on the "+" icon to open the window. One of the options to click is Publications. Here you can include a description of your book(s), as well as links to purchase pages on Amazon.


Note: In addition to individual profiles, LinkedIn also hosts countless private groups that could prove helpful in providing networking opportunities, e.g. college alumni, fraternity/sorority clubs, writing groups, etc. It's worth poking around to see what you can find!


-Maria


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


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How big is your digital footprint?

Are you making this marketing mistake?

292 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, writing, promotions, linkedin
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Sharing

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Dec 11, 2017

 

Do you know what is at the heart of your brand or of any brand? It has nothing to do with your appearance. It has nothing to do with your style. It has nothing to do with your platform. It has nothing to do with your books. I should say it has nothing to do with any of these things while simultaneously having to do with all of these things. This thing that is at the heart of your brand is sharing.


Your brand is defined by what you share. Whether it's information, a video, a link, or a photo, what you share defines how you interact with your community and not just your community. What you share has the potential to reach beyond your community when your friends and followers share it with their friends and followers. In fact, what you share and not your books may be how many people are first introduced to you. Once they themselves have joined your community, they will hopefully read your books out of curiosity.


So, given that sharing is at the heart of your brand, what you share and how often you share are extremely important to the success of your brand. First, what you share should reflect the persona you are trying to establish. Second, you should be sharing as frequently as possible. Think of spreading the word about your brand as a numbers game. The more you share the more likely it is your brand will be discovered and grow.


Sharing, it's not just a great lesson to teach your kids. It is the heart of your brand. 


-Richard

 

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

 

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You're not just an author, you're a brand

 

Building an author brand: you are what you share

 

 

 

 

186 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: marketing, promotion, branding, author_brand, author_platform
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We have established that an author brand is not a corporate brand and it isn't quite a personal brand. It's a hybrid. You are selling a product and that product is tied to your brand, but the public has certain expectations when it comes to author brands that they wouldn't accept in a corporate brand. They expect authors to be much more candid than corporations, one might even say they expect author brands to show more emotions than corporate brands. Don't get me wrong, corporate brands do have an emotional identity, but it's usually a safe emotional identity. Author brands are given more leeway to be more expressive.


Do you know your emotional identity, and does your emotional identity match your genre? Before you answer that question, remember that I constantly preach that your author brand should be nothing more than a reflection of who you really are. Don't manufacture an online persona to match what you think you readers expect from you. For example, if you write horror novels, don't feel pressured to post macabre thoughts and creepy poetry to convince your readers that you are your genre. Be yourself.


But, your emotional identity is tied to more than how you express yourself online. It's also tied to what you share. Horror book and movie reviews, horror-themed convention and book fair news, and Halloween events: these are all horror-themed shares that will help establish your emotional identity without having to fake a "haunting" persona. The same strategy can be used for any genre and subgenre. Yes, be expressive, much more so than a corporate brand, but don't fake it. Be true to yourself.


If you've never asked yourself if your brand's emotional identity matches your genre, it's time to do so. 

 

-Richard

 

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

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You are the brand not your book

 

Building your author brand

 

 

 

 

454 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: writers, genre, branding, brand_identity, author_advice
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In a recent post, I explained the importance of obstacles as a way to bring conflict into your story. Another way to create conflict is to consider multiple ways a character could view a situation—then have her choose the worst one. Why do this? Because how your character responds to this choice shows your readers who that character truly is.


For example, let's say that Gloria, your protagonist, has just exited a deli with a bag of warm bagels when she spots Alison, a classmate from her weekly photography class, walking half a block ahead. Gloria picks up her phone and dials Alison's number, only to see Alison screen the call and toss her phone into her purse without answering it.


What does Gloria think about this situation?


If she thinks, "Alison's probably thinking about something important so doesn't have time to chat right now," where's the conflict?


However, imagine that Gloria thinks, "Alison just sent me to voice mail! Maybe she doesn't like me!" Now you have something interesting for your readers to chew on.


The way you have Gloria respond to her line of thought will show your readers what kind of person she is. Does she throw a bagel at Alison and make a joke about it? Does she go back to her office, shut her door, and eat the entire bag of bagels? Does she avoid Alison in class, or does she make a point of sitting next to her and chatting her up? Those questions are for you to answer, but how you choose to do so is a wonderful way to provide insight into Gloria.


-Maria

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


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Advice on Character Development

First person or third person? That is the question.

350 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, character_development, character_flaws
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Today's blog topic can be best summarized by bestselling author Neil Gaiman.


Start telling the stories that only you can tell, because there'll always be better writers than you and there'll always be smarter writers than you. There will always be people who are much better at doing this or doing that - but you are the only you.


Allow me to make two points about this quote:


1. Gaiman isn't suggesting you write without confidence. He's not saying you aren't a good-to-great writer by saying there will always be better and smarter writers than you. I believe he's saying putting all your efforts into being the best writer on the planet is fruitless because ours is an industry that is based on the opinions of readers and those opinions are as varied as snowflakes. In essence, trying to get everyone to love you by trying to be brilliant leads to poor writing.


2. Gaiman is saying that the only thing that you can do brilliantly is being you. There is no one on the planet that can "out you" you when it comes to writing. Don't try to write a better horror novel. Try to write a horror novel that expresses your artistic nature, one that entertains you and stays true to the development of your characters. The same advice goes for any genre. Sure, the influence of the writers you admire and inspired you to be a writer will show in you writing, but there will be something slightly different about your writing, and that something different is you.


Be what other writers can't be. Be you.


-Richard

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


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The Great American Novel

You are the change that keeps the publishing industry relevant

458 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, genre
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What I'm about to write, I've written before, but it bears repeating. Every NaNoWriMo it becomes an especially relevant topic of discussion, and that is when to self-critique your manuscript. My feeling is clear on this. Your first draft is supposed to be terrible. The first draft is essentially a blueprint. That's not to say you should set out to write something incomprehensible. Write your story as you feel it. Entertain yourself. Get the idea out of your head.

 

You can repair what you've written during subsequent rewrites. The first draft is where you develop your idea. It's where the little flakes of your story build and build and create an accumulation of characters, settings, dialogue, and plot that amounts to a complete story. Let it out with passion. As I said, write your story as you feel it. I use the word "feel" purposefully. The first draft is when you are closest to feeling the story you are writing. Stopping to critique your story as your creating the first draft interrupts those feelings.

 

So, I implore you. Write. Make mistakes. Be careless. Let the typos fly. Make your first draft embarrassingly bad. It is for your eyes only. Your test-readers, your editor, everyone else will see your first rewrite. But this first draft, it's just for you. It's a data dump straight from the space in your brain that houses your imagination to the page. Let your fingers fly across your keyboard and don't look back until you write “The End.”

 

-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

Writing tip: when you get stuck, use all caps and move on

 

 

quo

314 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: revisions, writing, draft, writing_advice, author_tips, author_advice
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More than once in the past few weeks I've heard the word "reactionary" used to describe someone who reacts or has reacted to something. I flinch each time this happens, because the word that should be used in these cases is "reactive."


Reactive vs. Reactionary


  • Reactive means responsive, or reacting to something.
    • His reactive nature drove him to address the problem before it had a chance to develop into something serious.

 

  • Reactionary means ultraconservative in politics.
    • His reactionary style invigorated his conservative followers while infuriating his detractors.


Do you see how confusing the two could inadvertently lead to a problem in today's environment?


Here are some other words that sound quite similar but have different meanings:


Historic vs. Historical


  • Historic means having great importance or lasting meaning.
    • Neil Armstrong's moonwalk was a historic moment for mankind.
  • Historical means something based on facts of history.
    • Gloria's book is a historical romance set in the English countryside one hundred years ago.


Literally vs. Figuratively


  • Literally means in a literal (true/real) manner.
    • Gloria wanted to buy a pack of gum, but there were literally zero people working behind the counter.
  • Figuratively means in a figurative (not real) manner.
    • I'm speaking figuratively when I say that Gloria thought Dave was going to make her die laughing.


One of my closest friends uses "literally" when she's not speaking literally SO FREQUENTLY that it (figuratively) drives me nuts. For example:


  • I was so hungry this morning that I literally thought I was going to starve to death. (INCORRECT)
    • Why it's incorrect: My friend might have been hungry, but it's highly unlikely that she truly believed she was going to starve to death.


What words do you hear being used incorrectly? Please share in the comments!


-Maria

https://createspacecommunity.s3.amazonaws.com/Resources Contributors/MurnaneHeadshot.jpg


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


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Don't Cook Your Family, Rachael!

Solving the Mystery of Lie vs. Lay

397 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, grammar, grammar_tip
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The selfie paradox

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Nov 27, 2017

 

We all know what a selfie is, right? In case you've never heard of the favorite marketing tool of every self-obsessed celebrity over the last fifteen years or so, here's how Wikipedia defines the term "selfie":


A selfie is a self-portrait photograph, typically taken with a digital camera or camera phone held in the hand or supported by a selfie stick. Selfies are often shared on social networking services....They are usually flattering and made to appear casual. "Selfie" typically refers to self-portrait photos taken with the camera held at arm's length or pointed at a mirror, as opposed to those taken by using a self-timer or remote.


Now, 99.999% of you didn't need that definition. You know what a selfie is, and you probably have a very strong opinion regarding the act of one taking a picture of oneself and posting it on the internet for the world to see. It just seems unnecessary.


I have both decried the selfie culture and participated in the selfie culture. I won't attempt to explain my own hypocrisy because there is no rational explanation that is satisfactory. I simply know the value of selfies when it comes to branding for indie authors. You are the brand. Brands need a face, and what better face than your own face. So, I have turned on the front-facing camera on my phone and snapped a picture or two or three or more over the years. But, I would like to make one thing perfectly clear, I have never donned a duck-face in my entire life. My selfies are usually reserved for events or vacation spots. I may have even snapped a picture of myself in excruciating artistic pain as I rewrite an old manuscript. The horror!


My point is, don't be so fast to ditch the selfies because you just can't bring yourself to be that self-absorbed. They are valuable tools for building an author brand and building an author brand is one of your primary jobs as an indie author.


-Richard

https://createspacecommunity.s3.amazonaws.com/Resources Contributors/RidleyHeadshot_blog.jpg

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


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The Marketing Tool Many Authors Neglect

Six-Second Branding with Apps

385 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, marketing, publishing, writing, promotions, selfie
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Has it hit you yet? You are an author. No. You're more than that. You are an indie author. You possess something authors working under the restraints of a book contract don't possess. You have freedom. Freedom to write and publish whatever you wish. There is no one to tell you no or question your every literary move. You are in complete control.


With this power comes great responsibility. You have a sacred contract to fulfill as an indie author and that is to take advantage of your freedom and honor your independence. Take risks. Give readers something they could never get from a traditional publishing house.


I'm not suggesting you arbitrarily take a risk. I'm suggesting that you not always make the commercial choice. Write what your heart tells you to write. In essence, be true to yourself. It's what will set your books apart from other authors.


You not only owe it to you and your readers. You owe it to the industry. Change is the key to not just sustaining the publishing industry. It's the key to growing the publishing industry, and if traditional publishers are sticking to formulaic storylines and cookie-cutter characters, there is only one place that all important change will come from, you and your fellow indie authors.


So, I ask you again. Has it hit you yet? You are an indie author, and that makes you a pivotal part of the entire publishing industry. The constant state of change needed to keep the industry relevant starts with you.


-Richard

 

https://createspacecommunity.s3.amazonaws.com/Resources Contributors/RidleyHeadshot_blog.jpg

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

 

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Living the Indie Author Dream

 

Your Job as an Indie Author

 

 

 

 

894 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, marketing, self-publishing, writers, publishing, writing
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