Traci has taken the reins at Friday Fragments!
Welcome to Friday Fragments. If you haven’t fragged before, Friday Fragments is a place to share those thoughts, quips, and tidbits that don’t quite make a whole post, e.g. fragments or frags. I host every Friday and would love for you to join in. Please link up and visit other Fraggers.
My week was pretty unremarkable until yesterday.
I am going to have to do an entire post on these out of control school shootings. Two more are dead today. This is unacceptable and sooner or later we are going to have to come together and have a real debate. In the meantime if you know a kid who is acting ‘weird’ say something. Just say something.
How about my grandbabies! #proudmommom
I received the final digital proof for The Stranger In My Recliner this morning. The production for this second book has been a nightmare. It is finally starting to feel like the end or the beginning is in sight, depending on how you look at it. I’m hoping to have the firm release date soon.
The crying rags are soaked for Philly sports fans. My husband actually gets depressed and lets this stuff ruin his week. Me; I just wish someone would win something in our city.
Pretty much all our teams suck.
Did you hear the pope was here in Philadelphia last weekJ? Although it was a huge nightmare for us local folks and for our local merchants, it was amazing to see how much joy one man’s message could bring. I am grateful nothing horrible happened. I saw this post today and it renewed my hope in millennials.
What do you think? How did the media in your area cover the visit?
Have you started holiday shopping? I heard Home Depot and several other stores are stocked and ready. In case you need a countdown:
Have a positive and powerful week,
The first Wednesday of every month is officially:
Insecure Writer’s Support Group day #IWSG
Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your writing doubts and the fears you have or have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time.
Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
To join us, sign up here:
Visit our Facebook Page here:
Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!
Wednesday is also Writing Wednesday
Writing Wednesday is the day I like to share what I have learned on my journey from writing to publishing to marketing my first book and then doing it again. The type of information I wish someone would have shared with me, back then.
And the Title Goes to…
I always have a hard time coming up with titles for my blog posts. Book titles and chapter titles are even tougher to come by. Advice however is free and flows abundantly.
The simple rule is the title should be short, easy to remember and contain a noun, a verb and maybe an adjective. Most best- selling titles have three words or less. Your sub- title should be longer and should tell the reader exactly what they will be reading.
My personal rule is to use a ‘working title’ because chances are your editor may suggest a change and the publisher yet another change. That should end the stress, right?
With my first book, I was at my wits end trying to come up with something when my brother came to me in a dream and told me what the title should be. The book is about his random road rage murder so I wasn’t about to question his suggestion.
I assumed the title for the second book would come in a dream too. It didn’t happen. The Stranger In My Recliner came from a line in the book.
Titles are not copyrightable so legally you don’t have to worry about using a title that has already been used. Laws get murky when someone’s name is used in the title. If you are writing a biography and want to use the name of someone famous, check with an attorney. It is legal to use anyone’s name but there are circumstances that could land you in trouble.
Trademarked titles are a different story. James Patterson uses nursery rhymes, Three Blind Mice, Along Came a Spider etc…If you choose to use a nursery rhyme title you may find yourself needing an attorney. You may win but it will take time and money. It would be easier to come up with another title. Taylor Swift is now trade marking the titles of her songs. It is a crafty way to get around the copyright law.
It only takes a few minutes to do a Google search or an Amazon search.
There are websites that generate titles. I have yet to get a title I used from one of them but they are fun.
http://www.ruggenberg.nl/titels.html (my fave)
Titles can be a place, a thing, an event, a name, a song title (that isn’t trademarkedJ, cliché, play on words, line from the story, ports, ships names, river names, something provocative etc…
How do you come up with your titles?
I contributed to this collection. Have you downloaded your free copy? Available on Amazon.
Wednesday is the day I share what I have learned on my journey from writing to publication, marketing and writing and publishing again. If you have any questions please feel free to leave them in the comments and I will do my best to answer them. If you have any tips please share them with us…
How long should a book be?
At writing workshops the most common question I get is, “How many pages should a book have?”
My first answer is you need to consider word count not pages. My second answer is, when you start a book, you should sit down and write the story. Get it out on paper without worrying about rules, spelling, grammar or length. Once you have that first messy draft that’s the time to get serious.
If you need help getting the first draft finished you might want to consider NaNoWriMo. That stands for National Novel Writing Month, which is November. It is basically a challenge to write a novel in a month and it works! Check it out here:
The second thing you want to do is dissect that mess. Create chapters. Does your first chapter have a strong hook? It is time to make sense of the mess. Once you decide you have a beginning, middle and a strong ending and defined chapters it is time to start counting those words.
I would say shoot for 90,000 words. Adult fiction and nonfiction books have similar word count requirements. The standard is no less than 70,000 and no more than 120,000 so 90,000 is right in the middle.
For some genres the word count is considerably less.
Picture books- 300 to 600 words
Early Readers- around 3000 words
Chapter books- 7000-10,000 words
Middle grade- 30,000-45,000 words
Young adult- 55,000-75,000 words
If you author a blog, ideally posts should be somewhere between 500 and 800 words.
Of course there are exceptions to every rule. The most important thing is to write a great post, essay or book. If the story is good the reader will keep reading.
Some writers challenge themselves to daily word counts. I prefer weekly. That way I can always catch up if I have a bad day.
When do you consider your word count?
I have always been fascinated with woodworkers. Someone that can take a plain piece of wood and create a piece of furniture, a door or even an entire house with their bare hands and the oldest and most basic of tools in my eyes is a true artist.
While scrolling through posts on Instagram a few weeks ago a photo of a gorgeous door caught my eye. I liked the photo and continued looking through Richard Voroscak’s photo’s and then his profile. I was equally surprised to learn that he was from, and still lived in my hometown of Bristol, Pa.
He specializes in historic reproduction and restoration but he can make anything.
I fell in love with his work and I am so excited to introduce you to him and to share his work with you.
Thank you so much Richard for taking the time to introduce us to your work…
Has social media changed the way you do business and if so how?
I do a lot of work here in Bristol Borough and it’s all because people know me or by word of mouth. I started an Instagram account to show the work I am doing to a broader audience and hopefully meet up with more designers or architects that will ask me about doing work. It is also really great to connect with other woodworkers and see what they’re up to and they’re not just in the US, I’ve even connected with a woodworker from the UK.
When did you discover you had a talent for creating with wood?
As a young kid in my parent’s basement I made a wood lathe out of two pieces of wood and a bow and I was actually able to use it for a while!
You started your woodworking/cabinetmaking business twelve years ago. Can you tell us the story of why you started that business, was it something you always wanted to do or out of necessity?
This is something I always wanted to do! I started on a framing crew then moved on to a finishing crew when I was younger. I was fortunate enough to meet a great cabinetmaker who taught me his skills. I worked for 3 cabinetmakers before I decided I wanted to work for myself.
Do you work with reclaimed or recovered wood?
No, I don’t use reclaimed or recovered wood. I do a lot of historic reproduction work though using new materials.
What is your preference, joinery or nails and screws?
I prefer joinery to nails and screws because that’s the way they did it back in the day and the way I feel it still should be done! It’s more authentic.
What is the worst woodworking injury you sustained?
A table saw cut my thumb. Reason: It was sitting on the floor, not a TABLE. Lesson learned!
Do you display your work or is everything custom?
Everything is custom. I have several designers and architects who hire me to do custom work and I do work for a lot of individuals and local businesses as well.
Do you have a website?
No website, but I’m trying to use my Instagram as a web landing page.
What is the most sentimental piece you’ve ever made?
A cradle I made for my daughter and my 7 grandkids. I made it because I knew it would be passed down. It’s made out of cherry wood and hand carved.
What is your favorite thing about Bristol?
I was born and raised here and I know everyone! My entire family lives here too so I see them all the time.
My favorite pieces are the cradle, the custom bunk bed and the custom door.
Please stop over and follow Richard on Instagram and check out some more of his amazing pieces.
I came across this article and thought it was so important.
Why We Should Bring Back Vocational Training in Schools…
Keep it positive and powerful,
Wednesday is the day I share what I have learned on my journey from writing to publication, marketing and writing and publishing again. If you have any questions please feel free to leave them in the comments and I will do my best to answer them. If you have any tips please share them with us…
What’s your Style?
Our writing style refers to the manner that we authors choose to tell our stories to our readers. Our style is defined by our voice, word choice and our tone.
There are four basic literary styles. The Argumentative style is one in which the writer tells the reader about a person, place or thing and leaves out his or her personal opinion on the topic. This is the style professional journalist should use.
The Descriptive style is when the writer describes their characters, events and places in great detail. Sometimes this type of writing style is poetic and it can also include sensory details.
Persuasive style is a style the writer uses to persuade the reader to believe and support his or her point of view.
The Narrative style is exactly what it sounds like. The writer tells a story.
What’s your style?
My friend Ruth asked, “Want to do a sing-a-long with me on Friday? I am going to post a play list of 4 or 5 songs that represent my life as it is right now.” My brain healthy twist is [and believe me Ruth knows a thing or two about brain health] to find the YouTube versions of each song with lyrics on the screen so readers (singers) can read along as they sing and bathe their brains with an amazing bath of feel good chemicals but you may take any approach you like.”
Of course I want to participate…
So this is my life as it is today in song…
Because there have been production delays with The Stranger In My Recliner that are out of my control and because I am having some health issues it feels like I am fighting for control. I made this my ring tone and I want to listen to the song instead of answering the phone:
Because on our first date we went to the beach, we were married on that beach, my stepson’s ashes are on that beach, we spend as much time as we can there and because this was our wedding song it is always on my playlist:
This song is on my play list and I listen to it often because it reminds me how far I have come from being abused and bullied:
This is the song I listen to when I miss my younger brother, David (which is pretty much every day.) He was murdered in a random road rage attack when he was 26-years –old. He had a wife and a 13-month-old son. I also lost one of my best friends on my birthday last year, she was only 44. I also think of my husband’s son John who died of suicide at 17.
That’s my playlist for today! Thanks for singing along.
For some brain games check out Ruth’s Cranium Crunches:
On Wednesday’s I like to share information I picked up on my path to publishing, marketing and preparing to publish again. Information that I wish someone would have shared with me, back then.
Social Media Manners
What in the world did we do with our time before social media? I for one was definitely more productive writing wise and my house was much cleaner than it is now. I have a feeling that social media caused the cancelling of most daytime soap operas. Why watch scripted on T.V. when we can scroll through non-stop reality.
Whatever negative side effects social media might have it does have equal and opposite positive effects as well. For me I have never felt so much a part of so many completely different communities as I do now. Writers/Bloggers truly are the most supportive, genuine and friendly people I have ever known.
Because it is the start of a new season I thought this would be a good time to share some social media etiquette and tips that I have learned over the years, some of them the hard way.
It is social media not sell media. There are many companies out there that will take your money and instruct you to auto post the same posts across all of your social media platforms. Posts like ‘BUY my book’ ‘Must Read’ 500- 5 star reviews.’ Then there are those direct messages you receive thirty seconds after you follow someone. The requests to, buy my book, like my page, follow my blog and don’t forget to favorite and share this message. These companies will fill your head with numbers that sound important but they are useless. Social media is about being social and making real connections. Automatic cross posting and constant selling will leave people thinking you are lazy and unapproachable and they will keep scrolling.
Once you post it, it cannot be erased. In 2015 this is still important. If you are not sure about posting or responding to something take the time to think about it before you post or respond.
Ignore Posts that offend you. It would be great if we never had to lay eyes on or hear anything that offends us but when it comes to social media we are going to see plenty. It always feels good to be part of a ‘do good’ mob but choose your mobs wisely. Don’t take someone’s dislike of children or pets so personally and just scroll on. Trust me your mood will be better if you just ignore and scroll on. If they persist and you have trouble ignoring the offensive posts you can hide them, disable notifications from that person or un-friend them.
You owe no one an explanation to unfriend/unfollow. There is never a need to post things like ‘I am cleaning up my friend list.’ Just unfollow quietly and move on.
In 2015 it is still a bad idea to vague post, chronically complain, over share and post in clumps, frequently. ‘I am so upset’ ‘Some people need to just shut up and you know who you are.’(My personal least favorite) If you share someone’s post or article always write something personal about it such as why you liked it or didn’t like it. I can’t believe people still get upset when someone shares what they have posted. That is the gold people. It is all about the sharing.
Do not post spoilers. Be considerate of our friends in different time zones. If you cannot wait to talk about that winner or scene, take it private.
Limit rants. Sometimes a good rant can be healthy and prompt positive conversation. It is a good idea to only post them occasionally.
Never use more than two hashtags in one post.
The buzz about you, your book or your blog should NEVER come from you. This is simple; you only gain credibility when other people post, talk about or share your work. That doesn’t mean you cannot share exciting information or big news. There is a difference between good news and overselling.
If you wouldn’t say it to someone in person don’t say it on social media. It is a good idea to stop and think before reacting on social media. There is a way to say and mean what you want to say without being mean. We are writers, right?
It is okay to discuss politics and religion. Discuss is the key word here. We should always respect each other’s views or beliefs even if they are different from our own, especially if we have no idea what is behind those views. Discussion and debate are healthy. Headlines, talking points and surveys are annoying. Most people have their minds made up when it comes to religion and politics. Your post will not ever change their mind so stick to reality, discussion and healthy debate.
Do you have any to add to this list?
On Wednesdays I like to share information I picked up on my journey to being published, marketing my first book, editing and preparing to be published again. Information that I wish someone would have shared with me, back then…
If you like the information I hope you will share it!
It’s the first Wednesday of the month so it’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.
For more information, A BIG ANNOUNCEMENT and to sign up…
You have created an outline, a proposal, plotted your story, developed your characters, and written your first draft, edited, revised and ended up with a second draft. You had that draft read and critiqued and wrote your third draft. You are sure that in this draft:
You have used few if any adverbs
Removed the word ‘very’ from the entire MS
Taken out every word, sentence or phrase that is not relevant to the story and your critique partner says the story flows nicely, the points are clear and concise and the story is interesting. You have polished and feel confident (even if just a teeny bit because writers are not known to be the most confident type.) Congratulations you are ready to hire a professional editor!
Do I need a professional editor? Yes you do.
I can’t afford a professional editor? If you want to make writing your career then you must treat it like a business. When starting any new business financial investment is necessary for success. It is the same in the book business.
Where do you find a professional book editor? Ask your Facebook or other social media friends, do a Google search or ask other writers. Once you receive a couple of referrals they will probably ask you for a few chapters of your MS to do a sample edit for you. They will return it with suggestions and offer you a contract or they will pass. Before signing a contract make sure it includes time frame (both ways,) charges and how they are calculated and the editor’s method.
How much will it cost? If you are a starving, new writer you may be able to find a starving new editor who will be more than willing to negotiate a great price for you and do a great job for you in exchange for a reference. The average rate is $30-$65 an hour (10 pages per hour, a page being 250 words.) Well established editors with a client list of best sellers will charge much more. This is why you want your MS in the best shape you can get it before it goes to the editor. The fewer changes needed equal less time and that means less money out of your pocket.
What exactly does an editor do? Besides suggesting corrections for grammar, punctuation, technical elements and spelling your editor will organize your MS for the greatest impact and clarity. They will make sure all of your conclusions are supported and that you did not overuse certain words. A good editor knows what publishers are looking for, what readers expect and is able to balance that with what the author wants to say. A good editor will enhance your work and challenge you as a writer.
Your path from writer to successful author will be much shorter with a good editor in your tribe.
Write Drunk, Edit Sober.~Earnest Hemingway
Wednesday is the day I share what I have learned on my journey to publication, marketing and publishing again. If you have any questions please feel free to leave them in the comments and I will do my best to answer them. If you have any tips please share them with us.
I cannot believe this is the last Writing Wednesday of August. I am not ready for Fall, I never am.
If you are planning to publish traditionally you will need an agent. Here are a few tips to help you with your search.
Finding an agent
Before you look for an agent:
- Have your manuscript finished, professionally edited and formatted to industry standards.
- Prepare a query letter.
- A query letter is the next most important thing you will write after your manuscript.2
- A query letter is a formal letter sent to editors, agents or publishers to propose your work to them.
- This letter will prompt them to request more information, or not.
- The standard query letter is between 200-550 words. Never more than 750 words and contains: The title and word count, the genre, a short description of the story including the beginning, middle and end, your target audience, and a short author bio.
- Have several people critique your letter. Have your editor go over it.
If you book is non-fiction you will need a proposal. If an agent likes your query and is interested in more information they will ask for your proposal. A proposal is a business plan for your book. Most non-fiction writers write the proposal before they write the book.
It contains a cover page with word count, genre, title short description and your contact information.
A table of contents
- A two page summary (synopsis) of your book. Think of what might be on the back cover of the book.
- Target Audience. Who will buy this book and why. Do not ever say everyone will love this book because they won’t. Pick a specific demographic and then two sub demographics.
- Research on the competition. What titles out there are similar to yours? Remember that competition in the book world is a very good thing. If there are numerous titles that means there is consumer interest. Agents and Publishers love competition. List these books and explain why they are similar and why they are different. Why is your book better?
- Your Platform- how you will be able to reach your target audience (where you are on line, business contacts, your church, groups or organizations you belong to, connections etc…)
- Author Bio- Who you are and why you are the best person to tell this story and the best person to promote the book. Include resume information.
- Your marketing and promotion plan. Only list what you know you can do not what you hope to do. Example: Do not say I will appear on Oprah’s show and she will love my book unless you can make that happen. Make your plan concrete and include numbers. The secret to creating this plan is not how many ideas you have but how many connections you have and the action steps you are willing to take to improve your presence.
- Chapter Outline with a brief description of each chapter.
- Sample chapters- Choose your absolute best chapters (complete)
- Have several people including your editor go over your proposal.
If your book is fiction you will need an outline.
- A synopsis (again think back cover)
- A brief description of each chapter
- Your bio, resume and contact information.
Once you are confident you are ready to contact agencies or publishers you will need to create a list of your top 30 or 35 choices. Agents have specific genres they prefer to work with. Make sure you only put agents on your list that accre
If an agent or publisher offers you a contract, be sure to have the contract checked by an attorney
Where do you find agents?
- Google your genre and literary agents
List the agent, the agency, their e-mail and their specific submission requirements.
Once you have your list complete you can start querying agents or publishers.
You should send 3-5 every couple of days. If you get a response be sure to note it on your list.
*Never query more than one agent at an agency. They work together. This will get you blacklisted.
* Address your query to a specific agent, personally. Spell their name correctly. (this is VERY important)
* If an agent requests more information and then requests a phone call this is GOOD news.
* Never Quit- if you believe in your story you will find someone else that believes in it too.
* If you receive 10 rejections, tweak your query.
*The best chance you have to get an agent is to be referred by someone or to meet one at a conference or a pitch event.
Good Luck and Happy Writing,
On Wednesdays I like to share information I picked up on my path to publishing, marketing and preparing to publish again. Information that I wish someone would have shared with me, back then.
As much as I intend to stay in the moment and enjoy every single second left of summer it is time to plan for the fall, winter and spring.
If you are like me, achieving your writing goals is nearly impossible during the summer. Having a book to market, a new one coming out this fall and writing another has kept me busy and I didn’t quite meet my goals so of now I am in panicked catch-up mode.
How did you do with your writing goals over the summer?
I have a few author events coming up and I need to start preparing for them so I thought I would share what I’ve figured out with you.
Preparing for Author Events
I’ve been reading a lot lately about authors that no longer want to do book signings because they have no luck with them. While I agree that there are times when no matter what you do to prepare for the event people just don’t show up and other times there can be a line out the door.
What I have learned is there are things you can do to improve your chances for a successful event. The fact is publishers are not doing much these days to market and or promote their authors. Book stores depend on the author to bring the crowd to their store. It is up to us to advertise; market and promote ourselves.
Two months before the event:
Contact the community relations manager (CRM) and ask if they have ordered your books from their distributor or if they need you to supply them. Ask if he/she sends out press releases and if they do provide them with your bio, high definition book cover and author photos. I always send my own press releases too.
Most newspapers have an event calendar online that you can add your information to. Place a series of ads in your local newspaper or magazine advertising the event. Ads can be pricey so ask about specials or discounts and check the rates of large and small publications. You don’t want the ads to run sooner than two-weeks before the event but they may have to be ordered weeks in advance.
Create and order postcards. I use Vista Print and use my book cover, author photo and the bookstore’s logo or a photo of the front of their store. Ask the CRM if they will put the postcards on their counters.
Create a Facebook event. I always mention that I have a gift for the first ten people that buy the book. I get ten gift bags from a dollar store and pens, candy, small notebooks, bookmarkers and other small items from Sam’s or BJ’s. It doesn’t have to be much and the ten small bags with bows look nice on your table.
Send pitches to your local TV and radio show producers.
Six weeks before the event:
Send out an announcement to your e-mail list. Add the event to your website/blog and check with local bloggers to see if they will do an ad for you on their blog. These can be as inexpensive as $15.00 a month. Some will offer to do a write up and a review as well.
Mail postcards to everyone you know, friends, family and co-workers. Ask them to spread the word.
One Month before the event:
Think about how you will set your table up. You may want to bring a table cloth that matches your book cover, business cards, bookmarkers, a stand to put your book or poster on and a big bowl of candy. I put a sign up on my table that says ‘Meet the Author.’ Believe it or not sometimes people just have no idea what you are doing there.
Attend one or two author events at the store and network while you are there.
If you can afford to hire a professional photographer to take photos during the event it can create a lot of interest in you and your book.
Write an announcement for the store to use. I write three so they aren’t repetitive.
Two weeks before the event:
Follow up with whoever you invited. Place reminder calls. Create social media posts. Do not post about the event more than once a day. It can annoy people. Two or three times a week is plenty.
What are you going to wear? Whatever you decide on it should be business casual.
Plan to arrive ½ hour early so you have plenty of time to set up your table and deliver the announcement you wrote to the person who will be doing the announcing.
Bring a small gift for the CRM. One of the small gift bags is fine.
Get out from behind your table and mingle. Always have a book in your hand. If someone ask you what the book is about hand them the book with the back cover up and invite them to read the synopsis.
No matter how many people show up, have fun. I once had a signing and only two people showed up. One of them was the host of a radio show, she invited me on her show and I sold dozens of books because of that appearance.
Ask the CRM if you can sign a few books to leave in the store. Post on social media that you left signed copies at the store.
After the event:
Send a thank you card to the CRM and let him/her know that you are available for future events, author panels etc.
Good luck and happy writing,