Monthly Archives: May 2016

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author struggling with writing process

The Book Starts Here: A (Simple) Writing Process That Works

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Want a writing process that will get your book written fast?

Don’t we all. And there are plenty of suggestions, programs, methods, and systems that claim to help you do this. But what if there was a simple way to get your book done that has actually been right in front of your nose all along? There is. And I’m gonna let you in on the secret.

The primary reason writers never get that book started is because many of us are held back by a (sometimes subconscious) fear of success. Or we are procrastinators. Or we think our writing can’t possibly be good enough. Or (fill in your reason here).

But there’s a cure:

In order to gather the courage to begin a daunting task, you need to prove to yourself that you can do it. Sometimes your logical mind says “Yes, I can,” but your subconscious editor says, “Oh no, you can’t.” What makes this little problem so difficult to overcome is the fact that half the time we don’t even recognize that we’re derailing ourselves this way.

Luckily, it’s easy to tweak your writing process to get the upper hand on this kind of self-defeating thinking. It’s easy. It works. It’s…

The Easiest Writing Process in the World

Here it is in a nutshell, and promise me, please, that you won’t get angry with me when you realize how darn easy and obvious this is:

If you want to write a book, write a page first. Even if that page sucks, it will prove to you (and your inner editor) that it can be done.

This is just the thing you need to propel you forward. No more whinging about needing creative inspiration. No more procrastinating until you have the perfect word processing software, the right number of minutes in the day to write, or an ergonomically correct desk chair.

What you really need to keep your writing flowing is not another writing process, but a boost of confidence. A goal like “writing a novel” is a daunting task, but the goal of “writing a page” is easily done, even by my son, who is as allergic to English as many children are to nuts. Once you have that page written, it’s easy to imagine yourself writing another. And another. And even more. The more pages you get written, the more easily you can see yourself with that rough draft, ready for editing, then a polished manuscript, nicely formatted and ready to present to agents, publishers, or the general public.

So then next time you find yourself in a procrastinating mood, stop and challenge yourself to write that page. Don’t worry about making it good — that’s not part of the protocol. Just get it written. Get it written, and more words will follow. Editing is so much easier than writing, so once you have a chapter or two written, give yourself a rest from writing if you wish and work on polishing your prose.

All of these tasks will help reinforce your ability to do all the things good writers do: write, edit, repeat. Once you get “in the flow” the flow will get in you, encouraging that inner editor to reach higher and higher goals.

So what are you waiting for? Write that page!

See you on the next page!

Nikki Bee


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Indie book-of-the-month The Dead Lands

Indie-Book-of-the-Month: The Dead Lands

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Dylan J. Morgan indie book of the month authorThis month’s indie book-of-the-month was written by the well-traveled writer, Dylan J. Morgan. Dylan is the author of five novels, three novellas, and a short story collection, all in the field of horror and post-apocalyptic fiction.

Now living and working in Norway, he was born in New Zealand and raised in the United Kingdom. He writes during those rare quiet moments amid a hectic family life: after dark, with limited sustenance, and when his creative essence is plagued the most by tormented visions.

It was an absolute pleasure to read his novel, The Dead Lands, in preparation for this book-of-the-month author interview. (Click that link to get it for just 99¢ this week!) I found the book to be an exquisitely detailed page-turner that kept me riveted until the end. Dylan’s unusual treatment of his protagonist was a pleasant surprise and his post-apocalyptic world, writ large in horrifying, bloody letters, has a tendency to pull you in and refuse to let go. Highly recommended to all my horror and dystopian universe fans!

1. When did you first start writing fiction, and is The Dead Lands your first novel?
I first started writing fiction back in 2003, after having written some short stories just for myself. I found out that I enjoyed creating stories and decided to see if they were good enough to get published. I started off with short stories, and got a few published in some online venues, before my ideas started to grow and novels began to stake shape. The Dead Lands isn’t my first novel at all. I’d actually published three novels prior to this one, but one of those novels, Blood War, I decided to re-release as a novella trilogy. Since The Dead Lands came out I have released another novel length work, in addition to already having published a sci-fi novella and a collection of my short stories.

2. You mention that a video game inspired your story — how?
The video game in question is Rage, by Bethesda Softworks. It’s a first person shooter set on Earth after the planet has been destroyed by an asteroid. You play the game as a man from the past, cryogenically frozen and set to wake in the future to resurrect the world, but it’s been taken over by an evil regime. You have to fight your way through different missions, creating weaponry to survive, driving buggies through apocalyptic wastelands, and killing bandits and mutant humans. Sound familiar? Ha ha. There’s one mission in the game that I particularly like, called the Defibrillator Upgrade, where you have to enter the main city through the sewers and battle swarms of mutants through apocalyptic streets in order to reach the hospital and get the upgrade. It’s an awesome mission; violent, with beautiful post-apocalyptic cityscapes and I just thought to myself that it would make a great book. Dump a bunch of soldiers in this kind of scenario and watch them fight for their lives. The Dead Lands starts out in the wasteland and moves into the city, which seemed a natural progression given that the game is played that way. It is totally and 100% my inspiration for writing The Dead Lands.

3. The weaponry used by the characters in The Dead Lands is wonderfully detailed in your writing. Where did you get your understanding of the mechanics—careful research, experience, or something more?
Thank you, Nikki, I’m glad you find the weaponry detailed, that means I did my job as a writer. I’ve had no experience with guns, never fired one, so the information and details of the weapons in this book started as basic ideas and developed through researching modern guns online and reading some exceptional military science-fiction. In particular, I read Embedded, by Dan Abnett, which is a tremendous book, and the warfare and actions scenes within are incredibly detailed and graphic. The way Abnett described his weaponry and unfolding action inspired me a lot when I had to do the same in The Dead Lands.

4. ***Mini Spoiler Alert*** I was surprised by your treatment of your protagonist at the end and perhaps even more surprised by your elevation of a secondary character in the final scenes, but I found myself loving the change from what could have been a very traditional ending. What made you decide to end the story this way?
Without giving too much away I felt the predicament these soldiers faced in the final few chapters could only really end one way. I think I knew quite early into writing this what the ultimate fate would be for my characters, and I stuck to my guns with regards to their destinies because it felt like the right thing to do. As for the elevation of my secondary character, that was just a case of me liking this guy the more I got to know him and deciding that he needed to be the more fortunate one. But his fate is undecided, where this book currently stands, and he still has a lot of perils to face off the page. And another thing which is often prevalent in my stories is that there’s little room for a happy ending in the worlds I create. Heroes beyond the normal capabilities of mortal heroes, who always get the girl, or who save mankind no matter the odds, don’t sit well with me. We’re all vulnerable, and we don’t always win.

5.  This tale would be very well-served with a sequel. Do you have one in the works?
I’m glad you ask, Nikki, because The Dead City will be released in September of this year. It has already been written and gone through two initial proof readers, and now I’ve passed it over to a few very reliable beta readers who are currently picking through its bones. I aim to supply Advance Reader Copies in August (if you’re interested), and I’m hoping the reception of The Dead City will be just as positive as the first book. And there is the possibility of a third book in this series, but only time will tell if I’m to write that one.

6.  I found The Dead Lands to be a fantastic fusion of action/adventure, sci-fi, horror, and thriller. It almost deserves its own genre! How would you define it?
Well, I’m listing it on Amazon as a post-apocalyptic thriller, as it’s a genre into which this book fits perfectly, but you’re certainly not the first person to comment on the mixture of potential genres within its pages. I’m a horror writer at heart, so there are definite horror tones throughout the book; some people have even commented on the underlying love story that drives two of the characters, so there is a touch of romance sprinkled lightly here too. A few people have defined it as a great read, and I think that’s the definition that makes me happiest.

7.  What was your greatest hurdle while writing The Dead Lands?
Nothing that relates directly to the book itself, but something that I have to face every time I sit down to write is my self-doubt. I think a lot of writers have it, and it’s a good thing even if it can be annoying and sometimes debilitating. Each time I stare at the page with a desire to write, I wonder if I’ll be able to find the words for that session; will anything I write be any good; will it even be liked by anyone who decides to buy it. This self-doubt is not a nice feeling, but I think it’s an important obstacle to overcome, word by word.

8.  What’s your best advice for writers tackling stories that contain elements of several genres?
Be true to your story. Don’t try and make your story a horror story if you’ve listed yourself as a horror author–let your story be what it wants to be. If you find that it meshes different genres together to form a whole, complete story (providing that story is good enough, with a great plot and driven by believable characters) then let the book take on whatever form it needs to take in order to tell your story.

9.  What’s your next writing project?
What I’m working on now is currently untitled, but it’s another story that mixes genres. Society has collapsed, and due to man’s greed and hatred the world has become a dystopian wasteland. Monsters have crawled from the darkness, and demons have unleashed a plague of dead from the depths of Hades’ realm upon the Earth. A small group of survivors are battling back: monster hunters, trying to reclaim the world for mankind. As always, the conflicts they face against each other are more deadly than the horrors that this world has become. It’ll hopefully be a delicious sprinkling of horror and post-apocalyptic mayhem. I aim to have this book completed by the end of the summer, with a view to releasing it in early 2017.

Thanks, Dylan, for allowing me to profile The Dead Lands as a book of the month and for sharing your writing process. I’d like to encourage everyone to support this talented author by downloading a copy of The Dead Lands NOW by clicking on the cover:

Indie book of the month The Dead Lands

Connect with Dylan to keep on top of his latest releases:

Website: http://dylanjmorgan.weebly.com/

Twitter: @dylanjmorgan

Get your copy of The Dead Lands for just 99¢ for this week only at: http://bookgoodies.com/a/B00MARLWQ2

See you on the next page!

Nikki Bee

P.S.

If you’d like your novel to be featured in the Indie Book-of-the-Month author series, please contact me at gottabeeme@gmail.com. Just give me a brief summary of your novel and the genre, point me to where it “lives”  (Amazon, a personal website, brick-and-mortar bookseller) so I can pick up a copy. Also, include a short bio. Please DO NOT offer me a free copy (unless you are currently running a special on your novel). I like to support my fellow indies and I also prefer to operate free of perceived bias!

Please give me two weeks to answer all queries — I don’t have “people” to help me out yet, so things can move slowly at times!

Thanks so much for you interest and for your support of other indie book authors!


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fear of success

3 Ways Writers Can Conquer Fear of Success

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Fear of success is rampant amongst writers, a group famous for derailing their own goals and wishes in a morbid cloud of creative angst. Step away from the hemlock, people! Don’t let that niggling little inner editor keep you from writing that book, article, or essay and by all means, don’t let it keep you from publishing!

Since the first step to any cure is to admit you have a problem, I challenge you to take a good, hard look at your attitude toward your writing. Do see any of the following characteristics in the way you approach your career as a wordsmith?

  • You don’t tell others about your writing accomplishments.
  • You procrastinate working on writing projects, especially ones that could lead to recognition.
  • You adopt a “why bother?” mentality when it comes to writing query letters, seeking agents, finishing manuscripts, or completing other tasks that will further your career.
  • You refuse to believe your writing is worthy, even if you have beta readers telling you it is!
  • You compromise your writing time or spending money advancing your writing career to avoid conflict within your family.
  • You keep up a negative mental chatter about your inability to achieve your writing goals so much that you convince yourself to quit working on writing.
  • Even when you have some success as a writer (a published article or story, for example) you feel like it’s a “one-off” event. Eventually you’ll fail, and, having spent time and money on your failed writing career, you’ll end up in a worse place than where you started.

If you answered “yes” to two or more, you may have a bona fide fear of success as it pertains to your writing. Don’t freak out — instead, learn to redirect your fear into power. Here’s how:

making things possible by removing fear of successFear of Success Power Training

  1. Get rid of overwhelm. Take your writing one step at a time so you can be in PFM©(Perpetual Forward Motion). If you need a refresher course on this, check out this post.
  2. Conquer fear of success with the “do it first, ask questions later” philosophy. In a nutshell, keep your eyes on the prize and don’t worry about the details. When you find yourself thinking about if/then scenarios, refocus yourself ONLY on your task: finishing that story, nailing that query letter, or completing that rough draft.
  3. Keep a success journal and write every single thing you are successful doing in your writing career. Every. Single. Thing. With a list like this, you won’t be able to fool yourself into “why bother?” thinking. Your list might include things like:
    1. Finished two query letters.
    2. Worked up a new idea for a novella.
    3. Researched article ideas for a new online consumer magazine I want to query.
    4. Posted writing-related stuff on Twitter.
    5. Worked on my author bio.

Once you give yourself enough proof of your ability to get things done, your fear of success will be relegated to a small, dark cubby at the very back your inner editor’s desk.  So add these simple tools to your daily routine and get your writing career off to a fresh, new, fabulous start.

See you on the next page!

Nikki Bee


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what's in a name: bio

What’s in a Name? The Perfect Bio in a Nutshell

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What’s in a name? Plenty, if you know how to write a good bio. This little snippet of information can help readers find you on social media, direct them to your website, and offer them books or materials in your catalog all while giving them a glimpse into your experience and your personality.

That being said, it’s important to write the appropriate bio for your audience and for the publication in which it appears. A smart author has several bios at hand that they can easily tailor to fit different situations. Let’s take a look.

What’s in a Name?

what's in a name for social mediaBio #1: The Social Media Bio

This bio should be short, sweet, and showcase your personality to draw followers. Here’s a good formula: Share your focus + credentials + a bit of wit. Example:

Avid dabbler in all tales twisted. Author of Once Upon A Midnight Dreary. #huffpo contributor. Part-time coffee aficionado. Nerd.

For ways to inject humor, try this Twitter Bio Generator. To get more great tips on creating a fabulous Twitter bio, check out the Buffer blog.  Once you have a good Twitter bio, you can flesh it out for Facebook, too.

What not to do: This is about what’s in a name, not “what’s in a list”. Using a series of adjectives to describe yourself is overdone and you are wasting the opportunity to display credentials and personality!

Dabbler. Writer. Author. Speaker. Mother. Coffee-drinker. Nerd.

Bio #2: The Article Bio

You have a little more leeway in terms of length with this bio, so use it. Start with some writing credentials and tailor this bio to the type of article and magazine for which you’re writing. Unless the magazine is very dry or academic, don’t forget to inject a bit of your personality in your writing and make sure to give readers a way to get in touch with you.

Joe Author writes about all things finance from his mortgage-free ranch in Houston, TX. His work can be found in The Atlantic, The Huffington Post, and other online media outlets. His latest book, How to Survive College Without Debt, will be published in the fall of 2016. Contact him through his website, www.iamfinanciallyfree.com or follow him @joemauthor for tips on living the debt-free life!

What not to do: Be insensitive to the views of the publication’s audience. For example, don’t use semi-appropriate language or innuendo in a bio for a Christian publication and don’t trumpet your love of prime rib dinners if you’re writing for an animal conservation magazine or a publication that has a large vegetarian following.

what's in a name oscar wildeBio #3: The Author Bio

What’s in a name? This bio really lets readers know who you are and what you can do. To make this one work, though, you have to remember a few simple rules:

  1. Write in the third person (as always!)
  2. It’s not about you — it’s about the reader. Make sure your bio is not just another “I love me” litany of achievements. No one cares. They want to know what you can do for them.
  3. Make sure they know you’ve got credentials, but don’t be boastful.
  4. Add a call-to-action (CTA) for extra effectiveness.

Joe Author has made a living helping businesses thrive in the online marketplace. Using his M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, Joe created one of the highest grossing online businesses just five years after graduation. His recent book, How to Thrive Online, was an Amazon #1 Bestseller and is just one of the tools in the arsenal of business-growing tips and tricks he shares with clients and followers. Catch up with him @joemauthor or take his new “Business Ninja” survey by clicking here (insert link).

That’s it — easy, quick, fun!

See you on the next page!

Nikki Bee

 

 

 

 

 


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your readers shouldn't be annoyed by words

How to Not Annoy Your Readers: Avoiding Repetitive Language

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As a writer, you want to keep your readers happy. To do that, you need your writing to flow, taking them effortlessly from line to line and paragraph to paragraph. Plenty of top-notch writers know this. Take, for instance, the reigning prince of horror novels, Stephen King. When he was in junior high he read a book by a science fiction writer that stuck with him, and not in a good way:

Worst of all (or so it seemed to me at the time [wrote King]), Leinster had fallen in love with the word zestful. Characters watched the approach of ore-bearing asteroids with zestful smiles. Characters sat down to supper aboard their mining ship with zestful anticipation. Near the end of the book, the hero swept the large-breasted, blonde heroine into a zestful embrace. For me, it was the equivalent of a literary smallpox vaccination: I have never, so far as I know, used the word zestful in a novel or story. God willing, I never will.

Except that when Stephen grows up he gets amnesia, seemingly forgetting his aversion to repetitive language. Several of his novels are chock-full of annoying repetitive phrases (“smucking” in Lisey’s Story, “oil-spot eyes” from the Green Mile, and copious use of the word “shit” in Under the Dome where practically every character, including the narrator, uses it).

George R. R. Martin falls prey to the same foible in his blockbuster series, Game of Thrones. Hey, I was a GoT fan before GoT was a “thing”, but even I got a little sick of the phrases “much and more” and “little and less” repeated ad nauseum throughout the series.

Your readers deserve better than rote repetition. Authors, especially ones writing a series of related stories, can easily fall into the habit of re-using descriptive phrases. I stopped reading Clive Cussler’s Dirk Pitt series after I got overwhelmed by the sheer number of allusions to Dirk Pitt’s emerald green eyes. Stephenie Meyer (whose writing, for the record, I don’t envy) uses the word “stare” 181 times in Twilight. And that’s not counting the 177 times she uses a synonym for “stare”. There was a lot of looking going on with those vampires!

make your readers happyWant Your Readers to Love You? Do This!

How do you avoid annoying your readers with smarmy catchphrases? Two simple ways:

  1. Be diligent in your editing.
  2. Have someone else edit your work.

Through editing your own work, you’ll become familiar with any tendencies you have to be overly-enamored of certain words and phrases. To be on the safe side, though, please consider hiring a professional editor (or at the very least consider letting a friend or family member give it the once-over) to uncover any hidden repetition in your prose. You’ll be glad you did — and so will your readers!

See you on the next page!

Nikki Bee


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