Reading for Writers

Reading for Writers

To improve your writing, pretty much everyone agrees that you should write a lot and read lot. Some people maintain that you should read both good writing and bad writing. The argument for the latter is that it will help you recognize what doesn’t work. The premise goes that if you can identify what’s wrong in someone’s writing, then you will avoid making similar mistakes. I think this approach has limited value. Knowing what isn’t working tells you little or nothing about how to produce something that is working. The only way you can identify what does work is … (trumpet fanfare) … to read good writing. The underlying principle for this goes beyond writing. If you want to do anything well, you want a model of that thing. A model of what isn’t that thing is no model at all!

What Psychology Says About the Matter.

I’m a practicing psychologist as well as a writer. When I work with clients, I ask them what their goals are. They might tell me that they want to be less depressed or less anxious, for example. Unfortunately, that’s rather vague. If they can’t see how they will look when they change, it will be hard for them to do the things that will help them act differently and achieve the goals they’re seeking. It would be like trying to hit a target with an arrow, but not knowing where the target is. One of the first things I ask them to do, then, is to see what their goal looks like in the positive. So we flip what they’re saying around, and they define what they will look like, how they will act, what they will do when they are no longer depressed or anxious.

Turning Negatives into Positives

In writing, rather than saying, “I won’t have weak characters,” instead say, “I will construct characters that have a secret, a powerful inner yearning, or flaws that hinder them from their goals.” Rather than saying, “I won’t write boring descriptions,” say, “I will write descriptions that sets a mood, conveys subtext, or adds a symbolic or metaphorical layer to the story, as I’ve noticed my favorite writers do. Or, “I will right descriptions that are tight and spread out across a scene, because I’ve noticed that keeps the action moving.” (Faulkner provides a good example of this technique.)

Who’s Got Time?

For most people, reading time is limited. Even if you’re a full time writer and can find two to four hours to read, do you want to spend those precious moments during the day suffering through bad writing? I’ll read twenty percent of a book, giving it every chance to hook me in. But if I’m bored, uninterested, uninvolved, feeling nothing for the characters a fifth of the way in, I chuck it for something else.

Conclusion!

So read the best work you can get your hands on, the great writers, the great books, new and old. Learn from the masters, and your writing will improve. Read what inspires you, enchants you, what shows you a new way to do something. Read what you love—not what you hate—and that love will infuse your writing with excitement and energy.

P.S. For an inspiring presentation for young writers, I’m available for school visits. Learn more here.

A contemplative A. R. Silverberry at SacCon

A contemplative A. R. Silverberry at SacCon

 


Managing Query Manager

Managing Query Manager!

If you’re querying agents in the hope of representation, you will find a percentage of them now use an online submission form called Query Manager. Heads up, there are a couple of issues you need to be aware of, or you might end up inadvertently harming your chances with an agent.

The Query Manager Form

First, a bit about the Query Manager form. You’ll be asked to provide all the usual information: name, book title, genre, word count, query letter, and sample pages. Some agents request additional information, like your pitch, synopsis, website, social media links, and the target readers for your work.

Technical Issues With the Form

You’ll be asked to either type or paste info in the spaces indicated. The form warns that several problems can occur when pasting and urges you not to panic! First, large blocks of text may take several minutes to paste in. I’ve filled out a number of these and never saw that happen, though once my screen darkened when I submitted, and never came back to normal. In my case, and one other person I communicated with, the query went through, as indicated by a confirmation email.

Formatting Changes

Another issue that can occur when pasting in blocks of text is that your formatting might change. For example, paragraph indents are lost. The form urges you to not bother with trying to indent paragraphs. Instead, they advise you to separate paragraphs with a single blank line. Font size and color will also be lost, but bold, italics, and centering can be restored using the editor’s tool.

They Won’t Warn You About This!

They tell you that no one expects word-processor formatting to work in an online form; that every one understands the issues inherent in the technology. This call to relax was my undoing. My manuscript was edited and proofread multiple times. With the exception of the paragraph indents, everything should’ve been fine, right? Wrong! Much to my horror, I found two other things occurred no one warned me about. First, a space can be eliminated randomly between two words, merging them into one word that will look like a typo to the agent. Also randomly, a space can be eliminated between two sentences, again, looking like a typo.

What To Do?

My advice? Either scan your submission carefully line by line or proof read it a final time. This can be daunting for long samples. I know! Some agents ask for up to fifty pages, but the alternative of leaving in errors that occurred while pasting (and are not in your manuscript!) is like sabotaging yourself. Converting your text to a simple text file may also help, though I haven’t tested that. Personally, too many conversions sounds risky to me.

Conclusion

Query Manager is a great service for both agent and author. Agents have an easy to way to organize and respond to queries, and the software helps authors track their submission, whether it’s been considered, and what the final outcome is. Just be aware that you’ll need to proof everything one final time.

Good luck, and happy querying!

A. R. Silverberry at SacCon

A. R. Silverberry at SacCon

A. R. Silverberry at SacCon

A. R. Silverberry at SacCon


Creativity: Supercharge Your Writing, Part II.

Supercharge your creativity.

Last week, I outlined nine ways to enhance your creativity and supercharge your writing. Today I offer three more ideas. As you’ll see, they work synergistically to help you.

Trigger Your Creativity

Just as day follows night, you can trigger your creativity using a learning procedure called classical conditioning. Remember Pavlov and his dog? For those of you who don’t know him, Pavlov was a Russian physiologist who did pioneering work on understanding behavior. In a classic experiment, he presented a dog with some powdered meat. Immediately, the dog began to salivate. Powdered meat is yummy to dogs, and therefore was an unconditioned stimulus. In other words, Pavlov didn’t need to train the dog to salivate on seeing the meat. The dog did it automatically. But Pavlov did something else. When he presented the dog the meat, he also rang a bell. He did that a number of times until the dog associated the bell with the meat. Later, Pavlov only rang the bell. You can guess what happened. Right, the dog salivated!

You can trigger you creativity the same way. Here’s how. Write at the same time and in the same place every day. Your brain will automatically respond to all the cues that surround your writing. For example, I wrote most of Wyndano’s Cloak commuting on a train. It took about 75 minutes to go from home to work, and that was on a good day! The train starting to move, the sound of the wheels on the tracks, the clang of the couplings, the conductors walking by and clipping tickets, the hum of the other passengers talking, flipping open my laptop—all these acted as cues to my brain, triggering me into a state of creative flow just as readily as that bell triggered Pavlov’s dog. When I disembarked, I walked twenty-minutes between the train station and work, giving me additional time to reflect and take notes on whatever was happening in the story.

After work, the walk back to the train station triggered me back to writing mode. Again, I took notes. Ideas were flowing. By the time I got to the train, I was raring to go, and once again, the sound and vibrations of the train further slipped me into the process.

So it went, almost three hours on the train, round trip, five days a week, plus forty minutes walking, catching snippets of dialogue, a line here and there, a metaphor, a simile. By the end of a year I had the first draft completed. Sadly, we moved. I sure miss that train!

But the same principal can be applied anywhere. All it takes is consistency. Did you ever see a picture of Ray Bradbury’s writing area? It’s filled with posters, bottles, miniatures, bric-a-brac, and all of it acted as a cue to trigger the flow of his creative juices. Another example is writer and director Guillermo del Toro’s residence, “Bleak House.” He’s got all kinds of oddities—monster memorabilia, props, first-edition books, mannequins displayed in every room. They stimulate his unconscious and creativity.

Incubation

At work, after leaving the train, the novel left my mind. I was completely focused on the task at hand. But the eight-and-a-half hours on the job allowed the story to incubate. Time away from your writing can be an important part of the creative process. Have you noticed how if you take a break and then come back to your computer, problems you were having with a scene often melt away. That’s because your brain never stops thinking—even when you’re sleeping—you’re just not aware that it’s working on whatever is important to you. If you’ve ever woken up from a dream with a word, phrase, or idea, for your story, you know what I mean. So be sure to allow periods of incubation, during the day, the week, the months you’re working on a project. For many people, it may be good to complete a draft, and then stick it in a drawer. I know that conventional wisdom says to get your work out as fast as possible, so you can keep your readers engaged. But if you let some time pass, you will often see your writing with fresh eyes, and you might not be as protective of your darlings.

Limit Your Writing Time

In my last post, I discussed the idea of writing fast to bypass the critical brain. That same writing teacher also had us put limitations on our time. This may seem counter intuitive. When you’re in the flow, who wants to stop writing? Here’s how the technique works. You decide ahead of time how much time you want to allocate to writing. It could be just a little, like twenty minutes. It could be several hours or most of the day. Whatever you decide, you must not go past your assigned time. An interesting thing happens when you do this. You feel an urgency to get back to your writing. Your writing is more intense, more concentrated. Plus, you benefit from that incubation period. At the end of your time, don’t worry about losing something you’re hot on. Make a few notes about what you want to do next. When you return for your next writing session, it will come back to you. My uncle, Irving Adler, wrote or co-wrote eighty-seven books that way, writing between 9 and 11 a.m. every morning. His approach worked for me. It didn’t matter what I produced, as long as I put in my time. And lo and behold, books got written.

There you have it, three more tips for supercharging your creativity. In case you missed part one, you can find it here.

WYNDANO'S CLOAK, by A. R. Silverberry

WYNDANO’S CLOAK, by A. R. Silverberry

The Stream, by A. R. Silverberry

THE STREAM, by A. R. Silverberry

 


Creativity: Supercharge Your Writing, Part I

Creativity: Supercharge Your Writing, Part I

Many years ago I had the good fortune to attend a number of workshops designed to increase creativity. My father taught two of them, and one was with Sidney Parnes, one of the founders of the Creative Problem Solving Institute in Buffalo New York. Through their influence and my own experience, I’m convinced that everyone can increase their creativity. Over the years, I’ve noticed a number of techniques that have been particularly useful for me as a writer.

Write Fast.

When I was in graduate school, I had a wise writing teacher who encouraged us to write as though Death were riding on our tails. To help us generate this feeling, he made us limit the amount of time we had to write. We just wrote full tilt, getting everything out, not worrying about good sentences or bad sentences. We could always go back afterwards and revise all we wanted. The limitation inherent in this approach paradoxically helps ideas flow, bypassing the left-brain and allowing the creative part of your brain to speak.

Brain Storm.

The brainstorming method is based on the idea that quantity yields quality. We often limit ourselves to the first few ideas that come to us, which are often clichés. As my watercolor teacher put it, you don’t find originality until you reach the twentieth idea. An overstatement—but there’s something to it. Here’s the method:

  • Generate as many ideas as you can without judgment or deciding whether they will work. As soon as you apply criticism to ideas, it hinders the flow of them. Brainstorming is like turning on a spigot of hot water. If you apply judgment you mix in cold water and end up with something lukewarm. To release your creativity, ask your, “In what ways might I …” Notice that word “ways.” It asks your brain for lots of ideas, not one or two. Your brain will respond.
  • One outcome of not judging is that a bad idea can often lead to a good idea. Maybe a variation of that bad idea is exactly what you’re looking for.
  • Look at how you might change an element. For years we all ate chocolate chip cookies. Then someone had the brilliant idea of putting chunks in there, and a whole new product was born. In what ways might you apply making something bigger (chips into chunks) or smaller into a scene—a character, a sci-fi technology, etc?

Use Prompt Sheets to explore scenes, characters, and emotions

Over the years I’ve collected a nice set of prompt sheets. Before writing a scene, I fill these out. Generating a multitude of questions, they help me think about scene, character, setting, and plot from a lot of angles. By the time I’m done exploring, the scene is ripe and ready to write. Afterward, I rarely refer to the sheets. I don’t need to. It’s all inside and ready to come out.

Stock the pond.

Julia Cameron, in her fabulous book, The Artist’s Way, encourages artists to regularly go out on artist’s dates. This might be a hike, a trip to a museum, a concert, a play, a poetry reading. The point is that creativity doesn’t occur in a vacuum. We need input and stimulation. We need to see things from new perspectives. If we sit at home staring at our computers all day, we deny ourselves a mother lode of creative energy.

Read.

Read, read, read. Many writers even say to read bad writing. Personally, I find that has limited value. And my time is also limited. I say, read the best writing you can. See how other writers render a similar scene as one you’re working on. Look at the ways they artfully portray characters. This doesn’t even have to be a very conscious process though. You brain knows what you’re looking for. You’ll suddenly make parallels and connections, and solutions will come to you. Nothing is more exciting than finding just the right word you’ve been searching for.

Learn where you get your ideas.

I get my best ideas, and solutions I’m looking for, away from the computer. For me it’s usually while walking. For my wife, she’s often in the shower. For her, there’s something about water. Point is, start to notice where and when your ideas come. Build such activities and times into your day.

Keep a notepad on you.

Ideas can be ephemeral. If you don’t write them down, they can be gone within thirty to sixty seconds. That can be devastating when you finally nail just the right line of dialogue. I never go anywhere without a pen and a small notepad in my pocket. Sometimes I’ll stop every few minutes and frantically jot down a word, a phrase, or a sentence.

Keep a journal.

One of the most useful things I’ve done is keep a writing journal. Sometimes I write about my frustration with a particular chapter or character. Sometimes I write about things that are far more personal. Often I’ll brainstorm or work out what direction to take my WIP. Or I’ll pull away from the manuscript file I’m working on and write a scene in the journal. Because anything can go there, I’m free from restraint and let it all hang out. Some of the best writing I’ve done has started in my journal.

Dig deep within your own experience.

The most powerful writing is writing that rings true. If you delve deep into your own loves and hates, your triumphs and disappoints, and yes, your traumas, you will reveal truths about the human experience. When they pick up your work, readers long to resonate with that.

These are just a few of the many tools writers can use to increase creativity. Develop your own. Learn what works for you.

In the words of Jack London, “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” Hopefully the above techniques will put that club in your hands.

WYNDANO'S CLOAK, by A. R. Silverberry

WYNDANO’S CLOAK, by A. R. Silverberry

THE STREAM, by A. R. Silverberry

THE STREAM, by A. R. Silverberry


Query Rejection: What Now?

A. R. Silverberry, Author of The Stream

A. R. Silverberry, Author of The Stream

Query Rejection: What Now?

You’ve worked hard on your manuscript, writing and rewriting, submitting it to beta readers, then polishing it some more. You’re editor has given it several passes. The manuscript is as good as you can get it, and now you’re ready to try to find an agent. You send out query letters and wait for a response. Flash forward three months. No one has requested your manuscript. Some agents declined by not responding. Others sent a form rejection letter. Still others were kind enough to send a personal rejection.

It hurts. There’s no way around that. But what now?

The above scenario captures my process last fall. My novel seemed ready. I didn’t know how I could improve it. So why did no one bite?

The truth is, you may never know. But let’s look at some possibilities. First, the competition is fierce. Agents are bombarded with one thousand or more queries a year. At those numbers, the chances of getting a manuscript request—much less a deal—are extremely low.

Keep in mind the reasons an agent doesn’t respond favorably to your query. They may be looking for something specific. They may already have a similar kind of story they are representing. They may feel your idea and your writing is good, but that it will be difficult to sell to a publisher.

Another reason for a rejection is that your story may not have adequately engaged the agent or the agent’s assistant. Remember that 1K-plus figure above? They will make a split decision as to whether they want to keep reading. They may not get past your first sentence or your first paragraph, let alone your first page.

Here’s what I did with the rejections I got. First, going into the querying process, I told myself that the worst that can happen is that I’ll self-publish. I did that with my first two novels, and it worked out well. I built an author platform. I’ve got readers who enjoy my writing. So continuing on that road isn’t a bad thing. Adjusting my expectations from the get-go took a lot of the sting out of those rejections.

Next, I looked very closely at the rejection letters that were personal. They were actually quite encouraging. One said my writing was solid. Another said that the concept for the novel was strong. What I take from this is that my query and synopsis weren’t the problem. In fact, there may have been no problem at all. It just might not have been their thing.

But I had a feeling that if I’d really grabbed them by the lapels, I would’ve gotten a different result. So I scrutinized my opening pages. After all, that’s all an agent has, the first five, ten, or twenty pages.

After taking careful stock of the opening—Act I, if you will—I decided to pull the existing chapter one. In it’s place, I wrote three new chapters, and significantly revised the fourth, which previously had been chapter two. Then I went back to my editor, and we polished the new beginning, ironing out all the rough spots, clarifying and tightening the prose.

Is any novel perfect? I don’t believe such an animal exists. (For some reason it does in movies, but that’s another story!) But I believe the rejection process encouraged me to dig deeper and find more to say, to create a stronger set up, to deepen character development and the inner story.

Bottom line? Don’t take rejection as rejection. Take it as an opportunity to improve the story, if you feel you can. I still may not get a positive response from my queries. But I sure feel good about what I’m sending out. Either way, I have a better novel to share with readers, whatever route it comes to them.

Comments welcome, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

WYNDANO'S CLOAK, by A. R. Silverberry

WYNDANO’S CLOAK, by A. R. Silverberry

The Stream, by A. R. Silverberry

THE STREAM, by A. R. Silverberry


Call of Elespen: Keepers of the Wellsprings

 

 

Call of Elespen

Call of Elespen

Announcing Call of Elespen, the Epic Conclusion to the Keepers of the Wellsprings Series!

Exciting news! Missy Sheldrake has released Call of Elespen, the fifth and epic conclusion to the Keepers of the Wellsprings series.

Synopsis:

A vindictive Sorcerer King with a century-old grudge has spent decades gathering an army obsessed with claiming what their master feels he’s owed. Threatened by his dark dealings and sinister followers, will the Champions of Light succeed in claiming Brindelier’s Wellspring for the Dawn, or will its vast power fall forever into the hands of the unforgiving Dusk?

Make the choice: Dawn, or Dusk, and ally yourself with dragons, fairies, mages, knights, and muses in the epic conclusion to the Keepers of the Wellsprings series.

From Call of Elespen:

“Four offerings claimed. Two left. One, I can easily get. Ceras’lain. The other, Elespen. I don’t know much about that place. Only what I saw from the ship while I escaped from Sunteri. A jungle on either side of a wide river. A city I was forbidden to enter. Forbidden, even though I didn’t even realize it at the time…” -Tib, Dreamstalker, escaped slave

“They know our victory is nearing. They know we’re the Champions of Light. They’d rather keep us here, trapped in their lair, distracted from our quest to restore Brindelier and claim the Wellsprings.” -Flitt, fairy companion to Sir Azi Hammerfel

What reviewers are saying about the Keepers of the Wellsprings series:

“…this book had nice readability and should appeal to a wide range of audiences. Too often fantasy is written far too mature, or too childish. The author does a good job of not talking down to her audience, which leads to this readability range.” Fatho, Amazon Reviewer

“Azaeli is an awesome young lady; one to watch in the role model stakes.” -T.L. Clark, Author

“…an enchanting read from start to finish.” J. Ortiz, Amazon Reviewer

“Epic, Epic, Epic, wow what an incredible book, story and entry to a fantasy realm. This has movie possibilities written all over it. Magnificent writing, adventure with good and evil and some that are in between the two. Dark forces and forces of light. It simply doesn’t get any better.” -Kindle Reviewer

About the Author:

Missy Sheldrake is an author/illustrator who has been conjuring images of fairies in one form or another for as long as she can remember. The wind in the trees and the rich scent of forest earth are her most treasured sources of inspiration, and on most mornings you will find her wandering the wooded paths of her neighborhood, dreaming of the next adventure she hopes to put to the page. She published her first novel, Call of Kythshire, in March of 2015 and intends to keep writing as long as the fairies in her dreams allow it.

Missy Sheldrake, Author of Call of Elespen

Missy Sheldrake, Author of Call of Elespen

Galleries of illustrations and excerpts from the Keepers of the Wellsprings series can be viewed on her website and blog.

Missy can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, and Pinterest. Her books are available on Amazon.

Read an excerpt from every book in the series, including Call of Elespen, at missysheldrake.com.


The Illuminated Kingdom, by Alina Sayre

The Illuminated Kingdom, by Alina Sayre

The Illuminated Kingdom, by Alina Sayre

The Illuminated Kingdom: The Voyages of the Legend, Book 4

The Illuminated Kingdom, book four of fantasy author Alina Sayre’s masterful series, The Voyages of the Legend, is out! You can win a copy, just see rules below. Meanwhile, more about this middle grade fantasy!

Synopsis:

The Vestigia Roi has risen up to retake their home island of Rhynlyr, but all Ellie can think about is rescuing her missing brother, Connor. Guided by a dream of Connor’s whereabouts, Ellie disobeys the Council’s orders and stows away aboard the Legend. But a simple rescue mission quickly goes wrong as Ellie and her friends confront new monsters and old enemies. The crewmembers of the Legend soon find themselves waging a last, desperate battle to save not just Connor or Rhynlyr, but their entire world. As the One Kingdom hangs in the balance, Ellie and the Vestigia Roi must ultimately decide what they are fighting for—and how much they are willing to sacrifice for it.

Advanced praise for The Illuminated Kingdom:

“[An] astounding, imaginative world…” –Readers’ Favorite

Purchase The Illuminated Kingdom:

Amazon purchase link

Goodreads link

Alina Sayre, author of The Illuminated Kingdom

Alina Sayre, author of The Illuminated Kingdom

Author Bio:

Alina Sayre began her literary career chewing on board books and has been in love with words ever since. Now she is the award-winning author of The Voyages of the Legend fantasy series as well as an educator, editor, and speaker. Her first novel, The Illuminator’s Gift, won a silver medal in the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards and was a finalist in the Shelf Unbound Best Indie Book competition and a semifinalist for the BookLife Prize in Fiction. All four Voyages of the Legend books have received 4- or 5-star reviews from Readers’ Favorite. When she’s not writing, Alina enjoys hiking, crazy socks, and reading under blankets. She does not enjoy algebra or wasabi. When she grows up, she would like to live in a castle with a large library.

 

Connect with Alina online!

Website: alinasayre.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/alinasayreauthor

Twitter: @AlinaSayre

Amazon: amazon.com/author/alinasayre

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7469870.Alina_Sayre

E-book Giveaway

Readers, to enter the Giveaway to win a copy of The Illuminated Kingdom, leave a comment on this post! I’ll randomly draw a winner. Rules: Contest ends 9 am, on 11/22. The winner will contact Alina’s directly for a copy of the book. Good luck!

 


Hall of Heroes, A Fellowship of Fantasy Anthology!

Hall of Heroes

Hall of Heroes

Hall of Heroes, A Fellowship of Fantasy Anthology goes live tomorrow, June 27, including one of my stories, “The Demon Monkeys”! We, the merry scribes of the Fellowship of Fantasy, invite you to help us celebrate. Chat with the authors about the heroes and heroines in their stories, plus enjoy games, door prizes, giveaways, and more! The party is July 1st on Facebook, from 1 – 3 p.m. PST.

 

Join us here: Launch Party!

 

Now about Hall of Heroes. Here’s the inside skinny:

 

Twenty-Seven Thrilling Tales from Amazing Fantasy Authors!

Whether they are unwitting, plucky, or just plain epic, heroes capture the imagination and rescue us from everyday life. With stories set in fantastic, magical realms, gritty urban landscapes, and fairytale kingdoms, our heroes stand fast as defenders of good. Struggling against evil governments, wicked demi-gods, wrathful nature, supernatural con-men, and their own insecurities, each must find the strength to triumph and the will to persevere.

In the second anthology from the Fellowship of Fantasy, twenty-three authors explore the theme of heroes, covering genres ranging from steampunk and fairy tale to urban and Arthurian. These are the heroes you’ve been waiting for.

 

Enjoy Heroes: A Fellowship of Fantasy Anthology, and join the adventures!

 

A surprise for fans yearning for more about the world of my first novel: Think of “The Demon Monkeys” as ancient history to Wyndano’s Cloak.

 

You can find purchase links for the anthology below.

 

Happy Reading!

 

Amazon Kindle Edition

 

Barnes and Noble Nook Edition

 

Goodreads Link


Coiled Blog Tour

Book marketing is an art, and few understand it or bring more creative energy and imagination to the enterprise than fantasy author, H. L Burke. So when she offered to do a guest a post, I jumped at the chance for her to share a few words on the subject. H. L. is on the Coiled blog tour: a collection of posts celebrating the release of her new YA Mythological Romance from Uncommon Universe Press. Via the links below you will find interviews, informational and entertaining posts about the story behind the story, and of course, sneks. Seven stops on this blog tour contain special Scavenger Hunt Clues, presented by #TheodoretheDragon and #PistachioSnek. More about that below. First, here’s H. L. on book marketing!

Book Marketing

by

H. L Burke

Honestly, if you asked me the secret to promoting books online I’d say, “Don’t do it.”

Don’t go onto social media to promote. Go and interact, go and be you, but you need to earn your right to sell. Too many writers have a social media presence consisting purely of buy links, reviews, and cover reveals. You’ll find out a lot about where to buy their books, but not necessarily why you should, and definitely not why you should follow them on social media.

If you want to approach social media as an author (to #BeSeen to borrow a theme from Coiled) I suggest three Be’s.

 

Be Interesting, Be Authentic, and Be Realistic.

 

Be interesting hits a lot of authors hard because they may not necessarily believe they are interesting. This leads to them parroting links and imitating others just because they don’t know what else to do. After all, there’s nothing shiny about you. People don’t care about you. You aren’t interesting.

 

Seriously, though, did you write a book?

Is the book interesting? It was interesting enough for you to spend months if not years of your life working on it. Where did that interesting book come from? From you! You produced something interesting. How did you do that if you aren’t at least a little bit interesting?

The thing is, authors are mysterious beings who somehow form coherent novels, when a lot of readers struggle to write emails. Do you do research for your books? Do you keep inspirational images? Do your characters have conversations in your heads?

That’s interesting.

 

I often suggest writers treat social media like the bonus features on a DVD. Include “making of” and “behind the scenes” content, cut scenes, “cast” interviews. Give sneak peeks of upcoming projects (previews), and let them in on your process.

 

If you’re shy, let your characters take over. Allow your hero to interact on your Facebook. Have your villain “hijack” your Twitter feed. Have your heroine share images of her favorite weapons on Instagram. My instagram is mostly run by #TheodoretheDragon, a toy dragon who goes on many wonderful adventures which I just photograph and post online.

 

Another thing to remember is often if it is interesting to you, it will be interesting to your reader. In between projects, talk about things that you find entertaining: books, TV shows, and music that suit the genre, themes, or mood of your book. Share artwork (honestly sourced, of course) related to your books. I’m forever sharing dragon pictures because my readers like dragons. What do your readers like?

 

Be authentic. Don’t put on a false face for social media. A lot of times this is a defense mechanism, but if you are very uncomfortable doing something or interacting in some ways, stop and find a different approach. Don’t pretend to be something you aren’t (exception, obviously, if you are openly doing the “post as your characters” thing I talked about in the last section).

Also, don’t humble brag (the internet knows about this), and don’t worry about presenting a glistening, perfect facade … or a highbrow literary facade. People hate fake, and it takes a lot less energy in the long run just to be you.

Figure out the tone you feel best represents you. Is it playful? Serious? Snarky? That’s a good place to start.

 

Be realistic. Consider the hours in a day, your own personality (extroverted or introverted? Better online or in person? Playful or serious?), your honest limitations. Don’t try to do it all. Rather than being spread thin over all the sties, pick ones you feel you can do well—or better yet, enjoy, and just focus on those. Give yourself permission to take time off, save some of your creative energy for writing your next novel.

 

I’m a big believer in the best marketing being to write books people want to read, so never do anything that stops you from writing. If people read and love your books, they’ll tell other people about them.

 

Speaking of books people like to read, if you like romantic fantasies, mythological retelling, or books with really big snakes, I think you’ll like Coiled, a fantasy retelling of Eros and Psyche, one of my favorite myths, be sure to check it out and tell your friends!

 

Thanks so much for sharing your ideas, H. L. You’re truly in an inspiration. Now, about that Scavenger Hunt. Seven stops on this blog tour contain special Scavenger Hunt Clues, presented by #TheodoretheDragon and #PistachioSnek. Look for a photo of either or both of those little guys holding up a note. Each note is part of our secret phrase. When you have all seven pieces of our secret phrase click here and tell us. All correct entries will be put into a random drawing for a signed paperback of Coiled. The winner will be drawn at our Facebook party on June 23rd.

Blog Tour Dates:

June 5 – Liz Delton, Author Interview (scavenger hunt)
June 7 – Monsters, Misfits, Mushy Stuff Guest Blog (scavenger hunt)
June 8 – Brianna Merritt, Book Spotlight
June 10 – Rebekah Gyger, Greek Gods Guest Blog (scavenger hunt)
June 12 – A. R. Silverberry, Guest Blog (scavenger hunt)
June 13 – Heather Hayden, Author Interview (scavenger hunt)
June 14 – Lea Doue, Author Interview
June 15 – Alyson, Author Interview (scavenger hunt)
June 20 – Jebraun Clifford, Guest Blog
June 22 – Laura Pol, Author Interview (scavenger hunt)
June 23 – Olivia Fisher, Book Spotlight

Coiled, by H. L. Burke

Coiled, by H. L. Burke

About Coiled

A healing touch. A hideous face. A looming curse.

As the ugly twin to a perfect sister, Princess Laidra lives her life in the shadows—until her parents offer her as bait for a giant serpent.

Her escape attempt leaves her shipwrecked on a secluded island with only one inhabitant: Prince Calen, who lives under a curse. If anyone looks upon him, he turns into a giant serpent. Speaking to him in the darkness, Laidra sees past the monster to Calen’s lonely soul, and she determines to free him from the magic’s hold.

But if Laidra can’t break the curse in time, Calen will become a mindless creature of scales and fangs forever.

Buy Links
Buy on Amazon

Buy on Kobo, Nook, and iBooks

About H. L. Burke:

Born in a small town in north central Oregon, H. L. Burke spent most of her childhood around trees and farm animals and was always accompanied by a book. Growing up with epic heroes from Middle Earth and Narnia keeping her company, she also became an incurable romantic.

An addictive personality, she jumped from one fandom to another, being at times completely obsessed with various books, movies, or television series (Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Star Trek all took their turns), but she has grown to be what she considers a well-rounded connoisseur of geek culture.

Married to her high school crush who is now a US Marine, she has moved multiple times in her adult life but believes that home is wherever her husband, two daughters, and pets are.

Follow her personal blog at www.hlburkeblog.com

Connect with the author:
on Facebook: www.facebook.com/hlburkewriter

on Twitter: www.twitter.com/typativemamacat

on Instagram: www.instagram.com/burkesdragons

at her website www.hlburkeauthor.com


D.E.A.R: DROP EVERYTHING AND READ DAY!

D.E.A.R: DROP EVERYTHING AND READ

D.E.A.R: DROP EVERYTHING AND READ

CELEBRATE DEAR: DROP EVERYTHING AND READ DAY!

 

April 10 (12 AM)- April 13 (12 AM), 2017, my friends and I at the Fantasy Sci-Fi Network will be celebrating Drop Everything and Read Day. It’s a wonderful reminder to make reading a priority. That’s why we’re hosting an online author event, book sale, and contest with great prizes!  I’ll be doing my author chat at 9:30 AM PST. Rafflecopter, for the contest is below, along with event links.

DEAR programs are held on April 12th in honor of Beverly Cleary’s birthday, since she first wrote about D.E.A.R. in Ramona Quimby, Age 8 (pages 40-41). Inspired by letters from readers sharing their enthusiasm for the D.E.A.R. activities implemented in their schools, Mrs. Cleary decided to give the same experience to Ramona and her classmates. As D.E.A.R. has grown in popularity and scope, the program has expanded to span the entire month of April—offering classrooms and communities additional time to celebrate!

Let’s not stop there. Drop Everything and Read throughout the year. Make reading a regular part of your routine—on your own, with classmates, parents, or friends. So pledge to drop what you’re doing and read a good book.

Organizations, libraries, schools, or bookstores can participate by hosting a Drop Everything and Read event during the month of April. As an individual, you can participate by attending an event in your community or by reading at home with your children, siblings, or friends. Find lots of great DEAR resources on the D.E.A.R. website.

​HAPPY READING!

A. R. Silverberry

FSFNet Event Info and Sale Here!

4/12 Chat with the Authors Here!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

D.E.A.R: DROP EVERYTHING AND READ!

D.E.A.R: DROP EVERYTHING AND READ!