Guest post: Writing 101 by Paul Lell

Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of writing basics, is brought to you by science-fiction / fantasy author Paul Lell.

Writing 101

The most common question I am asked at conventions is easily, “how do you do it?”

For the longest time my answer was, “I just sit down and do it…”

Then I got to thinking about it. I did some reading and some investigation on the process of writing. I did a little soul searching and ‘dug deep’ as they say; and do you know what I discovered? I just sit down and do it!

So as not to appear trite, let me explain myself a bit better here. If you want to be a writer / author / novelist / whatever (they’re all pretty much the same thing in my mind), you need to write. Just as if you wanted to be an artist, you need to produce art of some kind, or if you want to be a baseball player, you need to play baseball. It comes down to motivation and practice, really. While I do believe there is a certain level of ‘inborn’ talent that can really push a person over the top in their chosen endeavor, I also believe that just about anyone can become just about anything they want, as long as they knuckle under and put forth the effort it takes to learn, practice, accept feedback (read: criticism), go back to the drawing board and occasionally reinvent themselves… In short, they need to commit themselves to the process of evolving into what they want to be.

To get back to the question, “how do I do it?” The more complete answer is, “I write every single chance I get. I write good stuff. I write bad stuff. I write terrible stuff (lots, and lots of terrible stuff). Occasionally, I may even write some great stuff. But I write, all the time. Even when I have nothing specific that I feel I need to produce, or a story to tell (which doesn’t happen very often, by the way). I have piles and piles of junk writing lying about my hard drive, filled to overflowing with writing that will likely never see the light of day.

I also throw away any pretentious thoughts that everything I write is gold and should immediately be published so the world can bask in the glory that is my crazy mind. I have no illusions about being the next [insert amazing author’s name here]. I just hope that somewhere, someday, somebody might enjoy one of my stories. I keep trying to refine my craft. I share work with people and ask for brutally honest feedback. Then I don’t cry once I’ve received it.

It is a rare bird indeed that can turn a love (or in some cases, a compulsion) for writing into a comfortable living. Much like teaching, one should never enter into the world of writing novels with the expectation or love of money as motivation. Rather, do it for the love of the craft. The difference you might make in the lives of yourself and, hopefully, a few other people.

I’m still working on the living part, but loving it certainly. Thank you, Paul!

Paul Lell is a Science Fiction writer and publisher, best known for his series, ‘The Keys of Kalijor’ which can be found on all major eReaders and at all major online booksellers.

You can read more about Paul Lell, his books, and his crazy life, at www.Kalijor.com.

***

If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about.

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with children’s author Jeyanthi Manokaran – the five hundred and thirty-seventh of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything. You can contact me and find me on the internetview my Books and I also have a blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

Ditch the Publisher free eBook

Firstly, apologies to any publishers reading this (I know some do visit my blog, and appear on it!), the title wasn’t my mine but I do think the eBook is great, but then I could be biased… I’m one of the 40 contributing authors (I’m no.7) – see the list below.

To access your free copy click here (also available at Smashwords and Amazon). To read more about it visit Hayley’s website.

Contents 

  • Introduction
  • One: Success as a Self-Publisher by Beth Orsoff
  • Two: The Secret Myth of Traditional Publishing by Dean Wesley Smith
  • Three: You’ve got Nothing to Lose by David Jay Ramsden
  • Four: Freedom by Steve Carter and Antoinette Ryder
  • Five: The Future was Never Brighter for the Indie Author by Timothy Lee
  • Six: Robbed! by R.J. Hamilton
  • Seven: The Ebook Revolution by Morgen Bailey
  • Eight: My thoughts on Self-Publishing by Aliyah Burke
  • Nine: Writing the Book by Brendan Gerad O’Brien
  • Ten: Creating Characters by C.S. Marks
  • Eleven: Authenticity in Fiction by G.M. Frazier
  • Twelve: Redrafting and the Magic Cupboard by Hayley Sherman
  • Thirteen: In Praise of Editors by C.S. Marks
  • Fourteen: The Writing Bug by JD Nixon
  • Fifteen: Nine Golden Rules (Part One) by Mel Keegan
  • Sixteen: Beginning with Nothing by Kirsty Fox
  • Seventeen: It Takes a Village to Bring a Novel to Life by Gerard O’Keeffe
  • Eighteen: Getting Ready to Publish by Maggie Barclay
  • Nineteen: The DIY Approach by Michael Wilson
  • Twenty: Five Places to Self-Publish Your Ebook by L.J. Sellers
  • Twenty-One: A Few Ideas to get You Started by Joseph Lallo
  • Twenty-Two: The Formatting Nightmare by Captain Peter Cain
  • Twenty-Three: Investing in Your Own Ebook by L.J. Sellers
  • Twenty-Four: What Does it Take to Become a Full-Time Indie Author? by Lindsay Buroker
  • Twenty-Five: Becoming a Bestseller by Terri Reid
  • Twenty-Six: Just Do It! by Lexi Revellian
  • Twenty-Seven: Publishing Full-Colour Books with Lulu by Alex Ritsema
  • Twenty-Eight: An Unknown Author’s Publishing Experience by Arnold R. Beckhardt
  • Twenty-Nine: In Hot Pursuit of Happiness by Ciggie Cramond
  • Thirty: My Rocky Road to Publication by Sybil Nelson
  • Thirty-One: From Imagination to Publication by Pete Darman
  • Thirty-Two: Success and the Death Threat by T.M. Nielson
  • Thirty-Three: Four Questions About Ebook Publishing by Iza Moreau
  • Thirty-Four: You Never Know… by C.S. Marks
  • Thirty-Five: Self-Publishing by Curtis Ackie
  • Thirty-Six: Why Can’t I? by Diana Mylek
  • Thirty-Seven: You Reap What You Sow by German Alcala
  • Thirty-Eight: I Left My Publisher, Gave Up on Bookstores and Started Making Money by L.J. Sellers
  • Thirty-Nine: Self-publishing: A Personal Journey by Fionna Barr
  • Forty: Nine Golden Rules (Part Two) by Mel Keegan
  • Forty-One: The Dark Side of Free by Russell Blake
  • Forty-Two: Indie Translators: Money is Waiting by Scott Nicholson
  • Forty-Three: Getting Print Copies into Libraries by Ilyan Kei Lavanway
  • Forty-Four: After you publish: How to Market Your Books by Michael J. Sullivan
  • Useful Resources

And all for the price of a cup of air. 🙂

Guest post: 10,000 Hours Can Feel Like 10,000 Miles by C. S. Lakin

Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of perseverance is brought to you by multi-genre author C.S. Lakin.

10,000 Hours Can Feel Like 10,000 Miles

I recently read Malcolm Gladwell’s bestseller, Outliers, which got me thinking about the long, tedious road to publication. Although we occasionally hear of the author who gets a contract for a first novel in record time, it seems more the norm to hear of stories of authors (like me) who have been trying to get published for five, ten, even twenty years. Through research Gladwell discovered experts agreeing on the amount of time needed to bring a person to the level of an expert in his or her field. He cites examples: Bill Gates, Robert Oppenheimer, The Beatles, as some who put in the requisite 10,000 hours into their field or craft. It just seems to be a very basic rule that to become proficient in any field, you need to put in a lot of hours—which equates to a lot of years of diligent effort. There are no shortcuts or get-smart-quick ways about it. Unless you’re a prodigy or Mensa genius, you are going to have to become an expert the old-fashioned way—by hard work and persistence. In this modern age of instant gratification in which we can’t even tolerate more than five seconds for a web page to load, the idea of having to take such a long time becoming an expert in our craft is downright annoying. We want it all now—success, recognition, fulfillment.

“But Writing Is Different”

As a copyeditor, I see lots of manuscripts lacking in brilliance and writing expertise—as do literary agents and acquisition editors. Yet, I’ve come across many new writers who state that because their book was divinely inspired, perhaps even “written” by God, they can justify “bypassing” the needed amount of training and honing of their craft that perhaps an ordinary person might need. Oftentimes, when feeling the spirit of creativity moving on our imagination and heart, revealing to us words and themes and concepts, we figure all we need do is be faithful and write it all down—and voila! a masterpiece.

Funny how writing seems to fall into its own special category. If I felt called in life to be a brain surgeon, people would think me nuts to walk into a hospital, state I was “destined to become a surgeon,” and ask for a scalpel to operate on the patient on the table. In fact, should I press forward and take scalpel in hand, I would quickly be carted off by force and removed as far from that hospital as possible–to protect the patient lying on the table. I might even find myself in a nifty jacket that ties in the back, where my eager hands can’t reach the knots.

Reasonable people expect aspiring surgeons to put in the requisite hours of study, residency, supervised and assisted training to work up to being the capable doctor they hope to be. This is the same across professions—whether one hopes to practice law, build a skyscraper, or even drive a school bus full of squirrelly children. Some “careers” may not call for ten thousand hours of diligence, but Gladwell notes that to become an expert in your field, to rise above the masses, you have to put in ten thousand hours. That’s about twenty hours a week for ten years of practicing and honing your craft. We feel comforted when we hear our 747 pilot has logged in over ten thousand hours of flight time. We might not feel so at ease if we were told this was his first time behind the wheel (or stick).

 “What’s Taking So Long?”

Sometimes new writers lament that they haven’t been able to sell their first manuscript after a hard year of writing and querying agents. Maybe even after even five years they ask, Why is this desired goal of publishing next to impossible? I would venture to say this: Maybe the goal feels impossible to reach because they haven’t yet put in their ten thousand hours. Sure, it can feel like walking ten thousand miles, but when you take such a lengthy trip through many lands, you grow and learn and absorb the cultures and surroundings until they become part of your soul and fill your cache of imagination to the full. We need to mature in our writing. Our writing technique and voice needs to age like a fine wine. Remember that slogan—“We serve no wine before its time”? How about: “We sell no manuscript before our writing is honed and refined”?

A few—very few—writers find “success” or publication after only a year or two of starting their journey as a writer, but that’s not the norm. Talk to most authors who have been publishing for years and you will often hear numbers thrown around:  “It took me ten years to get an agent . . . twelve years to get my first publishing contract . . .” Sure, there are factors of timing, accessibility to conferences, personality, the genre you write in juxtaposed to the market needs. All these things can have a bearing on your “success.” But, rather than focus on the “success” part, I’d rather focus on the “expert” part. I don’t know if I’ve put in my ten thousand hours yet, but if not, I’m sure close. And I’d rather look ahead to the twenty-thousand-hour mark, drinking in the sights along the way–reminding myself that it’s all about the journey, not the destination.

That was excellent, thank you! I wonder how many hours I’ve done… four NaNoWriMos, one ScriptFrenzy, two StoryaDayMays

C.S. Lakin is the author of twelve novels, including the fantasy series, “The Gates of Heaven”, with the first four books now out in stores. She also writes contemporary psychological mysteries, with her Zondervan contest winner, Someone to Blame, having been released October 2010. She works as a professional copyeditor and writing coach and loves to teach on the craft of writing.

Her new websites are dedicated to critiquing fiction (www.CritiqueMyManuscript.com) and building community to help survive and thrive in your writing life (www.LiveWriteThrive.com). Come join in! You can read more about her at www.cslakin.com.

***

If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with author, speaker and photographer Barbara Ann Derksen – the four hundred and thirty-sixth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me.  I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are weekly episodes, usually released Monday mornings UK time, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

Guest post: Talk yourself out of writer’s block! by Nicky Wells

Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of the dreaded writer’s block is brought to you by Nicky Wells.

Talk yourself out of writer’s block!

Writer’s block, yeah, I get it.  I know that weird, disassociated feeling when you stare at the screen and your mind seems to go into neutral, and no constructive thought comes forth.  Nada.  Not a sausage.  Zilch.  I usually bite my nails furiously (a bad habit that I am trying really hard to shed without much success) and eventually go off to make a cup of tea, with lots of sugar, please.

I can see how someone could get themselves completely stuck, fall down that deep black hole and struggle to pull themselves out again.  Yet that has never happened to me so far.  I usually manage to kick-start my writing again, if not that same hour, or even that same day, then usually the following day.  Therefore, when I read a fellow writer’s plea for advice on overcoming writer’s block, I came up with a few ideas, and I was actually quite surprised at how strongly I felt about them.  So I thought I’d put on my sharing hat and… share.

My ideas largely result from a six-year immersion in a professional work environment where I had to ‘produce’, day after day, hour after hour, whether I felt like it or not.  It was non-fiction writing; sometimes, it would be a client letter, but most times, it would be research briefs or books of some description.  All in all, it was a creative process harnessed and managed to within an inch of its life.  It taught me that it is possible to be creative, to write, on tap, on demand, when you need to.  So without further ado, I give you:  Nicky’s tips and tricks for talking yourself out of writer’s block.  I am not an expert, nor a psychologist.  By I am a pragmatist, and this is what you’re getting from me: pragmatic, down-to-earth suggestions, a kind of tough-love school of thought.

Diagnose the cause—I reckon writers get blocked for a variety of reasons, occurring singly or in combination.  Insecurity (my work’s no good anymore); perfectionism (got to get it right first time); pressure (got to get the manuscript to my agent/publisher by this or that date); tiredness (just can’t seem to get any ideas); distraction (too much else going on in your life).  Figuring out why you’re ‘blocked’ might well yield the answer in and as of itself.  But if not, read on.

Defeating insecurity—This is a tricky one, but you simply have to believe in yourself.  Why else are you writing?  So when the doubts niggle at you, remind yourself of your achievements.  If you’ve written one good book, chances are you’ll write another.  Consider your work-in-progress to-date.  Does it make you laugh?  Bingo.  Does it make you cry?  Well, fantastic.  There you go:  you’ve got the makings of a great book.

In my opinion, the best strategy for overcoming insecurity is to read your book with a fresh perspective.  Load it up on your e-reader, or print it out in a large font in landscaped orientation; anything to remove you from the familiar layout that you’ve been staring at for hours.  Read it out aloud.  Read it to someone else.  Or record yourself and play it back.  Take yourself out of your writer’s box and into the reader’s seat.  And when you are in that zone, allow yourself to enjoy your book as a reader.  Don’t overanalyse, don’t look for problems.  Just read!  While you do that, have a pad handy to jot down notes regarding anything you really like, or anything that grates or doesn’t sound right.  There, you’re taking constructive action.  Don’t overwhelm yourself.  Just keep reading, give yourself the benefit of the doubt, and note down ONLY the really good things, and the things that really annoy you.  Then, when you’re done, go back and take stock.  Address one issue at a time.  Don’t panic!  Even the biggest rewrite isn’t as big as it looks when you apply method and structure.  One change at a time.

Abandoning perfectionism—Well, what can I say?  Let it go.  You don’t need to be perfect.  In fact, your work won’t ever be perfect.  It’s impossible.  So bury that unattainable goal and just go with the flow.  Who cares if there’s a dud sentence or two?  Who cares if that scene could have been written differently?  Think of your all-time favourite book.  I bet there’s something in there that could be better.  I can see you thinking… oh… hang on, yes, there it is.  See, told you!  Imperfections merely accentuate the beauty of your writing, so quit worrying and get over your quest for the perfectly turned phrase.  Just do it, as they say.  Just write.  Tell yourself, “nobody’s perfect.”

Alleviating pressure—That’s a big factor!  Granted, sometimes deadlines focus the mind and pressure can get the old adrenaline going.  But most of the time, pressure freezes you up.  And most of the time, pressure combines with self-doubt and / or perfectionism and plunges you into a really deep freeze.  Take the pressure off.  Got a deadline?  Rethink it.  Tell your agent or publisher now, well in advance, that you might need a little longer.  At the very least, talk with them about it, even if you don’t move the deadline.  At the end of the day, you’ve only got two options.  You can meet the deadline and send the agent or publisher the manuscript then, as it is, however bad you feel about it.  They might like it, or they might not.  If they don’t like it, they might make suggestions, or they might turn you down.  It’s a gamble, either way.  Or you can try to renegotiate the deadline.  They might accept your request, or they might not.  If they don’t, you can still revert to the previous strategy (send what you have).  If they do, you’ve taken the pressure off.  Congratulations.  Now breathe, and relax.

And what if you miss the deadline?  What if your WIP still isn’t up to the standard you like?  Well, does it matter?  I mean, really, in the grand scheme of things, does it matter?  I know it matters to you, and I am being a complete heretic here in many ways.  But: does it matter to the universe?  Life goes on, the world will keep turning, and opportunities will present themselves, whether you’ve met your deadline or not, whether you’ve reached your self-imposed standards or not.  It’s all in the mind.  Nobody’s died.  Get a grip, as my heroine likes to admonish herself.

Respecting tiredness—If you’re tired and have run out of inspiration, let the writing go.  Listen to your mind and your body!  Give yourself a break.  But don’t give up!  There’s a difference between walking away from your desk frustrated and disheartened, or shutting down the computer purposefully, squaring your shoulders, lifting your chin and saying (out loud):  “I am tired. I am now going to have a break.  And when I am rested, I will come back and write some more.”

When you do have a break, allow yourself to have a break.  Too often, we walk away from our work on a ‘break’ but keep fretting about it.  Don’t!  Don’t keep thinking about the fact that you ought to be writing, and don’t dwell on the fact that you seem to have run out of ideas.  That way of thinking causes a traffic jam in the little synapses in your brain, and you will literally be blocked.  But if you force yourself to do something else, disallow any thoughts of writing, the synapses will open.  Clean the house.  Do a jigsaw.  Help the kids with their A-level maths homework.  Do anything that challenges your brain and / or your hands but that isn’t writing-related.  Sometimes, ten minutes will do and suddenly ideas will zap across the canopy of your mind.  Sometimes, it might take a day, or even week.  Fine.  So be it.  Just know that ideas will come!

And that’s it.  When you’re faced with that awful sensation of writer’s block, try to figure out what’s blocking you and then do something constructive about that.  Talk to someone, talk to yourself.  Don’t spend hours staring at the screen or the printout.  Take some different action, whether it’s a break, or a chat with your agent, or a long reading-out-loud session.  Take it one step at a time, not a whole manuscript at a time.  Don’t be afraid to make those changes, and don’t panic.  Believe in yourself and your instinct.  Most of all, remember that you’re writing because you love it!  And now you’re welcome to tell me off for lecturing you on something so fundamental in such a happy-go-lucky, easy-as-pie, really annoying kind of way.  Good!  Because that means you’ve started writing again….

I loved that, thank you, Nicky! Although I rarely suffer from a block, the recording and playing back sounds a brilliant idea. I record a fortnightly podcast (one of which is this post!) so it makes perfect sense!

About Nicky Wells:  Romance that Rocks Your World!

Nicky Wells writes fun and glamorous contemporary romance featuring a rock star and the girl next door.  She recently signed her debut novel, Sophie’s Turn, with U.S. publisher, Sapphire Star Publishing, and the book is due for release on 6 September 2012.  Nicky loves rock music, dancing, and eating lobsters.  When she’s not writing, Nicky is a wife, mother, and teaching assistant.  Nicky is also a featured author on the innovative reader / author project, loveahappyending.com.

Originally born in Germany, Nicky moved to the United Kingdom in 1993, and currently lives in Bristol with her husband and two boys.  In a previous professional life, Nicky worked as a researcher and project manager for an international Human Resources research firm based in London and Washington, D.C.

Visit Nicky on her blog where you can find articles, interviews, radio interviews and, of course, an ongoing update on her work in progress, the second and third parts of the Rock Star Romance Trilogy.  You can also follow Nicky on Twitter and find her on Facebook.

About Sophie’s Turn—Coming from Sapphire Star Publishing on 6 September 2012!

One fine day in Paris, Sophie Penhalligan suddenly finds herself engaged to her teenage crush and love-of-her-life-from-a-distance, rock singer and star extraordinaire Dan Hunter.  But there is the small matter of her very recent, but very prior, engagement to Tim.  Reliable, honest, trusting Tim, her boyfriend of two years stashed away safely in his mews house in South Kensington while Sophie is drinking rather too much champagne with Dan in Paris.  This contemporary romantic fairy tale describes how Sophie gets into her impossible situation and how she turns it around.

If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with multi-genre author Kelly Abell – the four hundred and thirteenth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me.  I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are weekly episodes, usually released Monday mornings UK time, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

Guest post: Pinterest by Phyllis Zimbler Miller

Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of Pinterest, is brought to you by multi-genre author and interviewee Phyllis Zimbler Miller.

Spending the Day Creating Pins and Boards on Pinterest

After spending time learning about the relatively new social media site Pinterest (still in beta so you need an invite from a friend or the site itself), I am beginning to appreciate its attraction.

Perhaps I’m helped in this understanding because the site is apparently skewing towards women in the Midwest, and I’m a woman who grew up in the Midwest.

I do think that the sharing of photos without the need to friend people as on Facebook is a huge draw. And the site itself is very attractive without all the distracting bells and whistles of Facebook.

And, yes, I’ll admit I had to first watch the video on how to install the “Pin It” bookmarklet.

Once I did install the bookmarklet, though, I “went to town”, as the saying goes, creating boards and pins. (Basically, a pin is one photo with a description and a link while several pins go on one board, which has a theme, such as “My Books and Ebooks”)

I can also see that pinning can become addictive. And, yet, for book authors, service professionals, and business owners, pinning can also become a strategic part of an integrated online marketing strategy.

Here are two uses of Pinterest that I tried:


1. I often write guest blog posts, although I do not link to these posts from any of my websites because I do not want to take people off my own sites. Yet I like the guest posts I have written.

With Pinterest, as long as there is at least one photo (besides my headshot) used on a guest post, I can pin the photo with its automatic link to the blog post to a board on my Pinterest account. You can see the result of this in “My Guest Blog Posts” (I only pinned my most recent guest posts that had photos accompanying the posts.)

2. I have two relatively new blogs, each of which promotes my books and ebooks. I created separate boards for these – “LT. COMMANDER MOLLIE SANDER Blog Posts” and “PZM Blog Posts” – and pinned all the posts of each blog to the blog’s board.

Future efforts:

I have to decide if I want to go back and create a board for my Miller Mosaic Social Media Marketing blog posts. If I do, I will pin only the most recent blog posts.

I did, in a way, get around this by creating a board labeled “My Blogs” that board has a link to each of my major blogs but not links to individual posts.

Question of copyright:

The one area that I am pondering in connection to Pinterest is copyright protection.

I know when I pin a photo from my own blog posts that I have legally obtained the photos I use with my own blog posts. And if someone puts a guest post of mine on his / her site and adds a photo, I see no reason to worry about how that photo was obtained as the photo is not being used on one of my own sites.

But, if I create a pin from someone else’s site with a photo that accompanies a guest blog post of mine, what is my responsibility to the possible copyright holder of that photo?

I am NOT a lawyer so I am only pondering the question of copyright. If anyone would like to weigh in on this question, please do so below in the comments section.

… and / or click on the ‘like’ button if you enjoyed this article. Thank you Phyllis. I knew nothing of Pinterest until you offered me this post and now I know. 🙂

This article originally appeared on Phyllis’ blog http://www.millermosaicllc.com/social-media/pins-boards-pinterest and was replicated with her permission.

Phyllis Zimbler Miller (@ZimblerMiller on Twitter and @ZimblerMiller on Pinterest) has an M.B.A. from The Wharton School and is the co-founder of the marketing consulting company www.MillerMosaicLLC.com, which is now WBENC certified and helps clients effectively use social media and other online marketing strategies.

Check out Phyllis’ books and other projects at www.PhyllisZimblerMiller.com.

    

If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with romance author Sarah Fredricks – the three hundred and ninety-second of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me.  I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are weekly episodes, usually released Monday mornings UK time, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

Guest post: Are eBooks fracturing the writing ‘family’? by Dave Sivers

Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of eBooks is brought to you by crime fantasy and mainstream crime fiction author Dave Sivers.

Are eBooks fracturing the writing ‘family’?

Most writers are keen observers.  We like nothing better than to see how different people respond to different circumstances.  For me, ever since the eBook revolution really began to take off, with opportunities for writers to directly publish their work to the eBookstores for little or no financial outlay, it’s been fascinating to see how the battle lines have been shifting.

In the early days of eBook self-publishing, it was no real surprise to see publishers and agents doubting it would catch on and pointing out the advantages that their roles as the ‘gatekeepers’ of the publishing world offered to writers.  But it was also pretty obvious that, if everyone direct-published and the physical book died a death (I don’t think that will happen for a long, long time), those people would soon be out of a job.  A threat to one’s livelihood is bound to provoke a reaction.

What has surprised me more is the way self-published eBooks are dividing the writing fraternity.  I’m not just talking about a healthy difference of opinion.  Some commercially published writers are quite vitriolic in their blanket condemnation of those who take the new route to publication.

Not so long ago, writers who had enjoyed a bit, or even a lot, of success were only too ready to share their experience and tips with those who were still working at it.  At writing conventions, published and unpublished writers often socialised like an extended family.

Now the revolution has come, and very many commercially published writers have indeed embraced eBooks and offered encouragement and support to self-publishers.  But some seem to have adopted more of a ‘them and us’ approach.

There is a body of opinion out there that condemns all self-published eBooks, almost without exception, as ‘crap’.  It insists that those who write such books have no right to call themselves ‘authors’; and that they should call themselves ‘self-published’, not ‘independently published’.

Part of this concern is that direct self-publishing allows writers to flood the market with so many ‘bad’ self-published eBooks that it can be hard to find the ‘good’ stuff.  Interestingly, it’s not only the commercially published who are saying this.  At least one successful self-published eBooker who was picked up by a commercial publisher now says he never felt like a ‘proper’ writer until he got that deal.

I have even seen a couple of self-published eBookers insisting that their stuff is fabulous, but the rubbishy rest is hiding their brilliance from would-be readers.

There’s no denying that the ease of self-publishing must tempt some inexperienced writers into publishing before either their craft, or their book, or both, are ready.  And I have no difficulty in accepting that the professional input of an agent or an editor can only help.

This does not mean that every book that does not go through the traditional process is without merit.  Many self-published eBookers do submit their work to serious scrutiny by critical and knowledgeable readers, including experienced writers, to help them make their book the best it can be before finally publishing.

The obvious weakness with condemning all writers who have not been commercially published is that even the top writers have known rejection.  They and their books were not ‘bad’ up to the moment they were accepted and then miraculously transformed.  Yes, the input of an editor may have made a difference, yet most of us have still thrown our share of commercially published books across the room.  Commercial publishing does not have an absolute monopoly on quality, and self-publishing does not have an absolute monopoly on trash.

What about labels like ‘author’ and ‘indie’?  This side of the debate has echoes of the recent row between Austria and Slovenia over the Krainer sausage.  It’s of academic interest to some people, but the real issue is what the sausage tastes like.

Let me say straight away that I am clear that I am the ‘author’ of my work, but I tend to describe myself as a ‘writer’.  If my writing comes up in conversation, and I am asked if I am an author, I usually say, ‘Yes – I’m a self-published eBooker’.  And I make no apology for it.

I suspect there are many reasons for these attacks.  They undoubtedly include a genuine belief that published writing needs to earn some sort of professional seal of approval.  Some may slightly resent the fact that they had to get past the gatekeepers, only to find these self-publishing upstarts sharing the eBookshelves with them.  There may even be a touch of elitism, a sense that the self-published are a second-class rabble.

Whatever the reasons, my worry is that writers who launch sweeping and savage attacks on other writers may have forgotten that most writers, like themselves, have dreams, a strong desire for their work to be read, and fragile egos.  Whether they submit that work to an agent, show it to a critical friend, or self-publish for all to read, they are laying those egos on the line.  Other writers are the last people who should sneer at them.

My crystal ball tells me that the self-published eBook genie is out of the bottle and will not willingly go back into it.  It will take time to figure out the best ways to enable readers to identify the books they’re most likely to enjoy, but my guess is that eBook readers will gradually gravitate towards those on-line reviewers they most trust for recommendations.

I took the eBook plunge because I had received strong, positive feedback on my novels from serious people and because I wanted people to read them – that’s why I wrote them in the first place.  It’s for me to do my best to promote them and for the readers to decide if they like them.

Do I still dream of one day seeing my titles on Waterstone’s shelves?  You bet!  Do I feel that not being commercially published makes me less of a proper writer?  Sorry.  No.

Morgen: Being a self-published eBooker myself, no apology needed here although a downside to eBooks is that a minority (I’m hoping) of authors do the editing themselves and have no-one to be their back-up eyes. I have a very good editor and two first readers and as you know, Dave, belonging to a writing group is a must. Providing an author gets constructive feedback and not just “that’s good” or “I don’t like that” then they’ll learn where their strengths and weaknesses are. Thank you, Dave!

Dave Sivers grew up in West London, England, leaving school at 16 to start a successful civil service career.

Over the years, he has gained a First Class Honours degree from the Open University and moonlighted as, among other things, a night club bouncer, a bookmaker’s clerk and a freelance writer.

His published work includes short fiction, magazine articles and newspaper columns, and he has also found some success with stage and TV material.

Since taking early retirement from the day job, he has devoted more time to his writing, which includes both crime fantasy and mainstream crime fiction.  His short mainstream crime can be sampled on his website, and his crime fantasy novel, A Sorcerer Slain, introducing personal inquisitor Lowmar Dashiel, is available as an e-book at the Amazon Kindle Store, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble and all good e-book stores. Dave’s website is http://www.davesivers.co.uk and you can also read his author spotlight.

If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with novelist and screenwriter Mary Firmin – the three hundred and eighth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum and you can follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me.  I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are weekly episodes, usually released Monday mornings UK time, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

Podcast: Bailey’s Writing Tips episode 051 – writer’s block by Nicky Wells

Episode 51 of the Bailey’s Writing Tips podcast was released today and featured a forthcoming guest post on writer’s block by Nicky Wells. This piece will go live on as a guest blog on Tuesday 26th June (7pm UK time) but today was a pre-blog airing and even if you don’t suffer from writer’s block I hope you will find it useful.

The podcast is available via iTunesGoogle’s FeedburnerPodbean (when it catches up), Podcasters (which takes even longer) or Podcast Alley (which doesn’t list the episodes but will let you subscribe).

Nicky Wells writes fun and glamorous contemporary romance featuring a rock star and the girl next door.  She recently signed her debut novel, Sophie’s Turn, with U.S. publisher, Sapphire Star Publishing, and the book is due for release on 6 September 2012.  Nicky loves rock music, dancing, and eating lobsters.  When she’s not writing, Nicky is a wife, mother, and teaching assistant.  Nicky is also a featured author on the innovative reader / author project, loveahappyending.com.

Originally born in Germany, Nicky moved to the United Kingdom in 1993, and currently lives in Bristol with her husband and two boys.  In a previous professional life, Nicky worked as a researcher and project manager for an international Human Resources research firm based in London and Washington, D.C.

Visit Nicky on her blog where you can find articles, interviews, radio interviews and, of course, an ongoing update on her work in progress, the second and third parts of the Rock Star Romance Trilogy.  You can also follow Nicky on Twitter and find her on Facebook.

About Sophie’s Turn…
One fine day in Paris, Sophie Penhalligan suddenly finds herself engaged to her teenage crush and love-of-her-life-from-a-distance, rock singer and star extraordinaire Dan Hunter.  But there is the small matter of her very recent, but very prior, engagement to Tim.  Reliable, honest, trusting Tim, her boyfriend of two years stashed away safely in his mews house in South Kensington while Sophie is drinking rather too much champagne with Dan in Paris.  This contemporary romantic fairy tale describes how Sophie gets into her impossible situation and how she turns it around.

The podcast also featured some of my news…
Visitors to my blog will know how much I love blogging about writing. So much so that I have posted over 900 items (either guest’s or mine) about the topic. I do an author interview a day, two spotlights and guest posts a week and weekly flash fiction and poetry. I’m currently booked up to November for the interviews and July for pretty much everything else but if you’d like to take part do take a look. I’ve also just created http://icanbuildyourwritingblog.wordpress.com and, for £50, €60 or $75, I can create a blog for you or anyone you know. Although it’s geared towards writers I can create them for any business or hobby. I already have an animal healer and editor to create blogs for.

…and feedback
I’ve received some wonderful feedback (and some less so, which is to be expected) for my eBooks. I have individual short stories, some free, some not free, a 31-story collection and a writer’s block workbook and it’s the latter that I received a wonderful review on today. Regardless of whether you get stuck with writer’s block this eBook has over 1,000 sentence starts and over 50 writing-related hints and tips. It’s just $1.49 on Smashwords and $1.62 including tax from Amazon.

and feedback from Nicky on this episode: “wow wow wow! this is amazing. It’s fantastic to hear ‘me’ through someone else. Thank you! The whole family listened to it over dinner (captive audience!) and we enjoyed it. Thanks so much, you are superstar!!” pleased then 🙂

Thank you for downloading or clicking on this podcast. If you have any feedback or areas you’d like covered in the hints & tips podcasts, do email me at morgen@morgenbailey.com and I look forward to bringing you the next episode in a fortnight which will be three more short stories.

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum and you can follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me.  I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are weekly episodes, usually released Monday mornings UK time, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.