Friday, May 31, 2013

Celebrating My 100th Post


I am a big fan of celebrating milestones.
This is my 100th post on Writer + Wilderness Girl Under It All.
Please cue the music . . . Morrissey's We Hate it When Our Friends Become Successful music here. 
Really go to the link. I will wait. Still waiting. You are too stubborn. Anyway!
It was my goal to have 100 posts before June 1st. (If you look there were a lot of last minute posts.)

A lot has happened since I started this blog in September 2012.

What has happened:
  • I published my first ebook Trail Swap.
  • I published Off-Trail & Tunnel W.
  • I jumped into the Indie author marketing world (like it or not).
  • I dedicated specific time to writing, marketing, and blogging.
  • I made some (small) profit on my writing.
  • Life.
Other milestones I will be celebrating in the Future:
  • 100 followers on my blog.
  • Writing 100 more pages of my book in the works.
  • Get 100 reviews of my book(s).
  • Reach 100 authors that I have connected with on-line.
  • Make $100,000 in profit. (Long-term goal?)
  • Write a 100 consecutive hours of my waking time. (Crazy?)
  • Have a 100 screaming fans come to a book signing.
  • Lose half-a hundred pounds. (Nothing to do with writing, but worth putting in here.)
Thank you for reading my blog.
What ideas do you have for author goals? What are your goals? What milestones have you reached? What books would you like to be written? Suggested blog posts?

Okay, now that I have reached a hundred posts, I will refocus to writing my books, but not tonight. I am way too tired.

Excerpt from The Eagle's Journey by Carlos Martinez

Day 7
A SPECIAL INVITATION
We were now at the seventh day of this experience, and at last we had reached the rocky ditch, after an extensive trek along a path, that as we went up, it became more and more rocky and narrow, taking us away from the initial path. Despite this, it was as if nothing had started. Nothing. I kept asking myself, what was I doing in this moor, which we had reached, and me, exhausted, freezing cold, with the wind that wouldn't stop blowing, furiously, fearlessly as if it were up against the world and we were its prize. At some point along the path, Peter said, he who insults the wind insults himself. I didn't say a thing and I tried to be as calm as possible. After a while, as if understanding my purpose, Peter smiled pointing to the leaves, the twigs, saying that we had to learn from them, unavoidable friends of the wind. "Unavoidable" is what he said. And he added, upon taking some steps, some arduous steps up the slope "that the leaves, the twigs and even the grass had a responsibility to this friendship. This is why they are unavoidable to the wind, until the ultimate consequences. I became quiet, I was tired, worried and to add to it the wind and the dust that didn't let me see, the clouds, getting thicker and darker, announcing one of those storms that you feel like being at home, in bed, rolled up in blankets, really warm.
Peter stood against the wind and as if knowing what was happening to me, told me the place where we were. At last, I said to myself, at last this hike has ended! I stopped going round, fighting off the wind. I stood still; breathed deeply. Standing in the ditch which we had reached we could see the moor where we would set up camp; it looked intriguing, as if everything and the wind itself left its footprint to reveal itself in this immense green that didn't stop stirring and involving this new landscape, so full of life with its long and restless stream zigzagging like the very devil's tail. From the moor I could see a huge stone barrier that ascended from the esplanade where we were standing, with its plants growing from the rock unions, and just like that, facing the sunlight, nurtured from the humidity that flows from there. How wonderful! -I thought to myself "as if everything could be in agreement and be everything, as if everything followed its own path, and every path belonged to everything! I was absorbed just being there, when Peter told me that it was exactly here where, what we came to see happens, and something in me knew that this was so. At once, we started to put the cameras in strategic places to capture all the action, but maintaining a careful distance. We put a camera on top of a large tree full of branches. And when I say "we put" I mean to say Peter climbed up the large trunk and put it there. This man looks like a monkey- I thought " subdued by the lightness of his movements. Peter indicated to put a couple of cameras tied to the smaller trees, and that I put another one between two big rocks. It was by no means an easy feat for me, with the wind at my face and then having it on my back.
 
 

Bringing on the Poetry: Interview with Marc D. Brown


Marc D. Brown is a 27 year old poet from the city of York in the UK. He lives there with his wife and two huskies Misha & Mako. Currently, he works in a Medical Records office. He says that it is not the most exciting job but it pays the bills. He is author of Indie Author Success, 20Seven, and An Introduction to Marc D. Brown.

A lot of people have a preconceived notion on what poetry is...Well I'm here to try and change peoples minds. My writing is honest, raw, down to earth and very far from being pretentious.

 -Marc D. Brown

Hi Marc thanks for agreeing to be interviewed.

On your blog you write about the difference between being and Indie book author and a writer of poetry how has it been finding a community of Indie poets?
 To be honest I haven’t found a community of Indie Poets, partly because I’m sure I haven’t looked hard enough but also because I don’t want to be categorized. I don’t plan to only write poetry forever…it’s just something that comes natural to me so I find it easier. A lot of my poems have taken a matter of minutes to write (although it can be another week or 2 before inspiration hits me again haha). But yeah..i like the online communities I’m currently a part of as it helps me learn a hell of a lot more. With fiction been a bigger market there’s more ways to promote, more places to promote and more people are willing to give you a chance. Throughout the last year I’ve learn a lot from other authors and eventually when I put pen to paper to start a novel…I will have more knowledge than I would have just staying in poetry groups.

How long have you been writing poetry? What drew you to poetry?
I’ve been writing poetry and lyrics since I was about 16 years of age, the first time I had my heart broken of course haha. It was just a better way to vent anger and frustration.  

I noticed you had a couple thousand page views on your blog. How do you get so many views on your blog?
Other people would probably say relentless spamming but I prefer to call it constant advertising, with the way things are today, meaning EVERYONE can be an author I think it’s better to try stay in peoples focus as much as possible and I also hope the readers have enjoyed what I’ve written.

TradeMark Remark: If Marc D. Brown was on a camping trip what would his job be?
In Charge of the Music

Do you consider yourself a successful writer? If so, why? If not, when would you consider yourself successful?
I’m as far away from success than I ever could be at the moment. The vast majority of downloads I’ve had with my books have been over the KDP Free days only a hand full of people have taken the chance and bought the books. I think it’s because it poetry and a lot people think that all poetry is the same. It’s not!  

You wrote that the marketing aspect of Indie writing was "repetitive." Have you found any tricks or aspects of marketing that has been helpful?
Hahaha yeah it can leave my eyes tired at times putting the same information on countless listing sites and blogs BUT…I strangely enjoy it! I like the hope you get whilst your pushing your work thinking “within the next week…thousands of people could actually know my name” It’s great!  

Tell us about your books.
Jees…it’s like trying to write my product description all over again haha.

Well ‘An Introduction to Marc D Brown’ was my first and as the title says it’s an introduction to me and my thought process. It’s a dark place to be fair but I like it! My writing to me is honesty in its truest form each poem represents love, pain, hurt, violence, addiction, loss of hope…it’s life but in little poems and though who ever reads the book may just think it’s about me, it’s not! I guarantee everyone who reads it WILL find a poem or two that they can relate to.

The difficult second book ‘20Seven’ The title is a slight homage to the  “27 club” a lot of great young talent died at the age of 27 and as I turned 27 while writing the book the title was a way for me to pay my respects in my own way. The only thing that can connect what is actually written inside the book to the title though is the fact I wrote most of it age 27.

The poems themselves I feel are more mature and darker in some respects although more subtle.

 Any writing in the works?
I have a lot of ideas constantly buzzing around my head…to be honest it tires me out and I just wish I could switch off for a while but unfortunately not so now I have a 3rd collection of poetry half complete, a collection of short stories which I hope to put out at some point this year and also I’m in the ideas stage for a full length novel…I have post-it notes EVERYWHERE! 

What does the future hold for Marc D Brown? Goals?
I don’t really know what it holds for me but I’ll keep writing no matter what. I one day hope to maybe make a bit of extra money each month just to make everyday living that little bit easier. It’d be amazing not having to worry if I have enough money for a bill or stressing over the fact I may not have enough petrol in the car to get to work this week.

So just a little income boost would be amazing for my wife and I!

If you were stranded on an island but had all your survival necessities (food, water, shelter, etc), what four additional things would you bring?
An mp3 player with the following albums pre-installed – The Doors – Strange Days// Every Time I Die – Hot Damn// American Head Charge – The War of Art.

A packet of Bic Crystal Grip ball point pens

A thick note pad and…erm…. sun cream

Thanks for the interview. Good luck on your writer's voyage!
 
Find Marc D. Brown's Books HERE.

 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Unique Book Characteristics

It is not always the story, setting, or characters that stick-out to me. Sometimes it is certain unique characteristics.

Here are just a few examples off the top of my tired brain of characteristics that I loved:

Kurt Vonnegut Hocus Pocus: Not only do I fantasize about being thrown into a library tower prison, but Kurt had the character write on pages of books. One page just said, "Cough, cough." Brilliant.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak was narrated by DEATH. It was an interesting choice that wove together the whole book.

In Margaret Atwood's The Edible Woman Atwood changes the point of view as the main character begins to "lose herself." Subtly brilliant. Love me some Atwood.

Off-Trail: Trail Swap by Michele M. Reynolds she writes a short, behind the scenes book with the characters of Trail Swap. (Okay, this is my book. You caught me.)

What books stand-out in your mind?
What other unique tactics do you use or have you read?

Found a Home (Genre)?

My Search for My Books' Genres
I have been wondering if I fit in a genre. One reader of Trail Swap stated that he did not know it was a YA (Young Adult) book. Although I have read some YA, I did not think of Trail Swap as being YA. Then I thought of an interview I had done in the last few months. One of the questions the interviewer asked me was, "What do many people not know about you?" I gave him a list of things. One of my statements was, "I will forever be 25." (This has become even more evident as I supervise 25 year olds and I constantly have to snap myself into reality that I am not their age. They remind me constantly, and it will be reflected in their performance evaluations.)

With these new developments. I think I have found a home for some of my books. NEW ADULT FICTION!

Wikipeida: New Adult (NA) fiction is a developing genre of fiction with protagonists in the 18-25 age bracket. The term was first coined by St. Martin's Press in 2009 when they held a special call for “…fiction similar to YA that can be published and marketed as adult—a sort of an ‘older YA’ or ‘new adult’.”[1] New Adult fiction tends to focus on issues such as leaving home, developing sexuality, and negotiating education and career choices.

I first came upon this concept in Heather Topham Wood’s blog post
Heather's Book Chatter: 5 Reasons to Write New Adult. Heather is the author of the paranormal romance Second Sight series and another book titled The Disappearing Girl.

I find that I am an author who is drawn to coming of age stories, college years, struggling toward independence, etc. This could be one of my genre's.

What do you think about the New Adult Fiction Genre?
What books stand-out to you in this category?

Genre: Where Do I fit?

I have never been big on labels. I, however, cringe at the thought of walking into a supermarket and being faced with blank boxes, cans, bags, etc. Sometimes we need to know what category things sit in. I am not sure where all the books I have written will fit.

As I try to figure this out, I think about some things.

The Books I Read: When I looked at the books I read they fit in General Fiction category. I stay away from crime, thrillers, detective, and romance.
 
Look at a list of Genre Book Genres article. For a more extensive list look on Wikipedia.

Fiction Genre List

  • Action and Adventure
  • Chick Lit
  • Children’s
  • Commercial Fiction
  • Contemporary
  • Crime
  • Erotica
  • Family Saga
  • Fantasy
  • Dark Fantasy
  • Gay and Lesbian
  • General Fiction
  • Graphic Novels
  • Historical Fiction
  • Horror
  • Humour
  • Literary Fiction
  • Military and Espionage
  • Multicultural
  • Mystery
  • Offbeat or Quirky
  • Picture Books
  • Post-Apocalyptic
  • Religious and Inspirational
  • Romance
  • Science Fiction
  • Short Story Collections
  • Thrillers and Suspense
  • Western
  • Women’s Fiction
  • Young Adult
Depending on the book, I can mark it as Action & Adventure, Romance, Young Adult, Humor, or   Post-Apocalyptic. Still that does not seem to satisfy me as a writer. I think a lot of us don't want to be labeled. My mind goes to the t-shirt people wore in the 90's reading, "Don't Label Me."
I will keep looking.

Do I need a genre? Will it boost sales? Do I try to stay from some genres and try to bust into others?

Do I fit in many genres?

What are your thoughts on genres? Do you think if you put your book in a certain genre over another that your book will sell more? Do you Genre Hop?

36 Themes for Author Interviews

Sometimes the straight-forward questions are okay. Sometimes, however, interviews need to be spiced-up, made interesting, and/or have a different twist to them. This will make it more interesting for the reader, the interviewee, and the interviewer.
Putting more effort and creativity into your questions is appreciated by interviewees.

Here are some ideas of different themes or things to focus on during an author interview.

1. The Author. (Family, life, other job, hobbies, etc.)
"What do you think about her writing?"
"I think she writes too much."
2. A New or Recent Book.
3. Many of his/her books.
4. His/her writing style.
5. The setting of the book. (Time & Place)
6. His/her inspiration(s). (Not the Chicago song)
7. Interview a character from their book.
8. Do the interview inside his/her book.
9. His/her readers or fans.
10. Marketing of books.
11. Ebook revolution opinions.
12. His/her favorite writer(s).
13. His/her favorite books.
14. Future goals and/or writing.
15. From point of view of his/her pets.
16. "If a movie was made" questions.
17. Alphabet questions. Go through the alphabet focusing questions  A-Z. Example, When were you characters most Angry? Who is most Believable? 26 questions might be a lot though.
18. Do an Acrostic with the authors last name or book name.
19. Inspiration for the cover of his/her book.
20. Is he/she a successful writer?
21. Resources he/she uses as a writer and in marketing his/her book.
22. Current event or trends in writing.
23. His/her writing team. Editor, publisher, marketer, etc.
24. A class or workshop he/she is teaching/hosting.
25. Organizational style.
26. Genre jumping.
27. Predictions for writing trends.
28. His/her blog.
29. His/her best kept writing secret.
30. Interview his/her spouse or partner.
31. Interview his/her kid.
32. Interview his/her best friend.
33. Try to convince them to change something in their book. "I think we should have Bobby win the big prize at the Science Fair." "No, that would not work." "Why? Is it because you like the other characters better?" This could generate some good conversations.
34. Have a party with the author and all his/her characters. Who will spill the chips? Who will be late? Who will hit on all the guys in the room? Who will steal the television?
35. Author gives you # reasons why you should read the book.
36. Decide where he should send the book's characters on vacation.

What themes have you used in interviews? Other ideas on themes? Thought on my ideas for themes?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

15 1/2 Ways Readers Can Support Indie Authors

Lonely Indie Author
Several people have caught onto BUY LOCAL slogans, and supporting Ma & Pop Shops. How much has supporting Indie Authors caught on? How can we expedite and support that? I tend to try to find an Indie Book over other books. I have vowed to buy one Indie Book a month. I just bought two Indie Books this month.

There are several sites to connect Indie Authors, but I wonder if the word is getting out to readers. Do readers even care? As an Indie Author, of course, I do think they should care. Just one blog, Twitter, post at a time we can encourage people to help an author out!

Encourage your friends, families, and fans to not only follow you but another Indie author. I will write another post on Indie Authors Supporting Indie Authors.

Here are some easy ways that readers can support Indie Authors:

1. Buy their Books. Most of the time ebooks are have the right price $.99 to $3.99. You spend more on breakfast. When I was first marketing my ebook I had family members, and so-called good friends say, "I don't have an ereader" or "I only read real books." Then another friend pointed out to me, "Umm it is only $2.99. They can buy it to support you, and not even read it." I would do that for a friends, family or acquaintance. Wouldn't you? I challenge you. Set a goal to buy a certain amount of Indie Authored Books a year.

2. Read their book.

3. Leave a review on the site from which you bought it and cut & paste to put on all of these sites that apply: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobi, Diesel, etc.

4. Leave feadback on GoodReads. Put the book on your book shelf.

5. Comment on Facebook, Twitter, StumpbleUpon, and/or your blog about the book before, during, and after the book.   You might draw other readers into the book.
5.5 Write about the progress on your book on #FridayReads.

6. Write a review in a newspaper, newsletter, magazine, or other periodical. This takes some more time and effort, but would help-out the author.

7. Highlight a quote or passage on your Kindle and let it go public.

8. Read the book in public. If is a hard copy of the book, the cover will speak for itself. If it is an ebook, people might ask you what you are reading. Tell them the book and the author. Laugh out loud and say things like, "Wow, I did not see that coming!" "This is brilliant." "When is her next book coming out." Okay, you don't have to be THAT dramatic . . . just reading it should be enough.

9. Contact the writer and give feedback. Was there a mistake in the book, do you have a suggestion, and/or are you a fan for life?

10. Offer to help with marketing. This could be in the form of helping on a book tour, handing out flyers, handing out book marks, putting a bumper sticker on your car, etc.

11. Do an interview or feature about the author on your blog.

12. Reserve the book at your library. Recruit friends and strangers to do so. If there are many people requesting the book, this could prompt the library to buy more.

13. Buy the book and give it away as gifts. You know you get stuck on what to buy people. Just have it be your signature gift. You know otherwise you will end up buying another mug, scarf, sweatshirt, picture frame, or  ENTER ANY OTHER TOKEN GIFT. If you contact the author he/she might even sign them and personalize them for your family, friends, Secret Santa at work, etc.

14. Talk about it with everyone.
  • Friends- "If you were a good friend you would buy this book."
  • Family- "This reminds me of the summer we spent by the lake and I punched you in the face."
  • Co-Workers- "How was your weekend? Mine was spent in the year 1872 . . ."
  • Doctor- "I would feel better if I could just find out a way that Clyde would fix that time machine before the Zombies take over the planet."
  • Partner- "I am not mowing the lawn until you read up to Chapter 22."
  • Cashier- "You haven't read this book? You have to. . . "
15. EVERY TIME you go into a bookstore ask an employee to help you find it. Chuck Sambachino had this great idea in a Writer Unboxed article HERE. This is a great idea. This way the employees get to know where the book is, you can talk to them about the book and why it is so great as he/she is helping you find it, and he/she might promote the books to others.

Here are other great posts on the subject.
20 Easy Ways Readers Can Help Promote Authors
Writer Unboxed: Helping Authors
How to Help Your Favorite Authors
10 Ways Readers Can Help Authors

Coming soon! Stay tuned for my post on Indie Authors Supporting Indie Authors.

How else do you recommend supporting Indie Authors?

52 Interview Questions to Ask a Writer/Author

Here is a list of questions to ask authors. I will add to this over time. I keep an archive of questions to ask. Some of these question I have used before, some have not been used, and others are questions I have been asked during interviews. Feel free to use any of these, and please comment if you have any other good questions to ask.

Do not ask the author/writer all these questions. They do have other writing to do after all.

1. Tell us a little about yourself? Perhaps something not many people know?
2.What made you want to become a writer?
3.  Million dollar question, are you working on another book?
4. Have you written any other books that are not published?
5. What do you think about the ebook revolution?
6.  What is your advice to Indie Authors? On writing? Marketing?
7.  Do you still write? If so, what does your typical day look like?
8. What is your writing style?
9. Pen or type writer or computer?
10. Do you write Alone or in public?
11. Music or silence
12. Goals of certain # of words a week or when inspiration strikes
13.  What tactics do you have when writing? (For example: outline or just write)
14. What has your experience been like as an new Indie Author? Bruises, Highlights, and lessons?
15. What have you put most of your effort into regarding writing?
16. How did you get connected with so many authors for your interviews?
 17. What is/are  your book(s) about?
18. Does your book have a lesson? Moral?
19. What is your favorite part of the book?
20. If you were running the 100 yard dash with a new writer. What writing, publishing wisdom would you bestow upon him/her before you reached the 100 yards?
21.  Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?
22.  If you could spend time a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day? (PG-13 please :) ONE OF MY FAVORITE QUESTIONS TO ASK.
23. What is the toughest criticism given to you as an author?
24. What has been the best compliment?
25.  What is something memorable you have heard from your readers/fans?
26.  What book that you have read has most influenced your life?
27. Who is your favorite author?
28.  What is the most amusing thing that has ever happened to you?
29.  Anything you would like to say to your readers and fans?
30. Do you have any hidden or uncommon talents?
31. What gives you inspiration for your book(s)?
32. Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
33. Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book and why it is a must-read?
34. What do you love most about the writing process?
35. Of all the characters you have created, which is your favorite and why?
36. What is the biggest surprise that you experienced after becoming a writer?
37. Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer? If so, what do you do during the day?
38. Tell us a little about your plans for the future. Where do you see yourself as a writer in five years?
39. Favorite book?
40. Where can we find you online?
41. Any website or resources that have been helpful to you as a writer?
42. Have you thought about joining with another author to write a book?
43. If you could have been the author of any book ever written, which book would you choose?
44. Do consider yourself to be a successful writer? If so, why? If not, what would make you successful?
45. What genre do you consider your books? Have you considered writing in another genre?
46. What do your friends and family think of your writing?
47. Do you do book tours?
48. What character in your book are you least likely to get along with?
49. What would the main character in your book have to say about you?
50. Who is the most famous person you have ever met?
51. If you could write about anyone fiction/nonfiction who would you write about?
52. How did you get to be so witty, funny, and good looking? (This obviously was a question that I was asked.)

What questions have you been asked? What questions have you asked?

Steps in Conducting a Great Interview (Series): Research & Information

 
Part of marketing and improving your writing is connecting with other writers. One way to do that is through interviewing authors, writers, bloggers, agents, etc.
 
First, you have to get someone to agree to be interviewed. See my brief post in a series of posts on How to Get a Guest Blogger.

Second, you need to do your research and gather information. Hopefully, some of this was done prior to asking someone to be interviewed. Sometimes interviews come to you as a blogger or writer, and you have little information about the potential interviewee. There are steps to take prior to the interview.
  • Know your Audience & Interest. Does this interviewee fit your blog? What is your focus? Does the person want to talk about fitness, and your blog is mostly about Horror & Thriller books? If so, is there a way of working this into your blog? "How to Stay Just Fit Enough to Get Run for Your Life" If the person does not fit your focus that is okay. Nicely decline the interview.
  • Learn about the Interviewee. The internet does wonders for this. What did we ever do before the internet? It is hard to remember. Find out where he/she is from? What he/she does for a living? What things he/she has written, edited, marketed, or published? Has he/she been interviewed before? If so, what was asked and answered? There are several good places to get this information:
    • Amazon/Barnes & Nobles/ Smashwords/ etc- Author Biographies, books, reviews of the author.
    • His/her Blog. Read a bunch of posts, read the About  section.
    • Look at his/her Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, other social media.
    • Google his or her name and see what comes up.
    • Read their Book. If you have time, then you can ask specific question about the book.
    • Find someone who has read the book.
    • Ask them some information to prepare for the interview. "What is your goal for this interview?" If he/she has a book coming out, then they might like the interview to focus or highlight on that book.
  • Formulate Some Topics for Questions:
    • Have a theme in mind.
    • Ask questions on personnel life, pets, hobbies, work life, writing life, and future life.
    • Bring current events into the interview if seems fitting.
  • Mutually Decide on the Mode of the Interview. How will the interview take place? This needs to be something mutually decided on. Most of the interviews I have done have been through email. I send questions and they email back the answers and pictures and/or book covers. This is the most convenient for everyone. If you use a chat form, you get more of a conversational feeling.
    • Face to Face.
    • Over the phone.
    • Email.
    • Chat.
    • Text.
    • Skype.
    • Podcast.
    • Snail Mail.
    • Carrier Pigeon.
    • Telegraph. (I would love is someone proposed this to me. Where is my 6th grade project?)
  • Do the interview at agreed upon time/day.
  • Post interview, inform the interviewee that it is posted, and thank them.
  • Market the post- Twitter, Facebook, etc.
The more you do interviews the more comfortable you will be with creating questions. Just do it already!

What ideas do you have for conducting a successful interview? Any favorite inteview tactics or questions? If you would like to interview me, I am currently doing interviews!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Readers Attacking Writing: 10 Thoughts on Negative, Harsh Reviews

A post by Jody Hedlund titled "Is Our Culture Becoming Too Critical and Open" echoed my feelings I have been having about reviewers and critics of books. When I was interviewed by Brook Syers HERE. He asked me what my biggest surprise was as a writer. I answered that it was that readers did not like my book, and that others liked my book. I, however, think it goes a step further. I think that my biggest surprise was that people were so blunt and mean at giving reviews of books.

With  a little help from my friends, families and colleagues, I have come up with some thoughts about negative reviews.

1. In our society there is a Negative Feedback to Positive Feedback Unbalance. Meaning that people are more apt to give negative feedback and comments then positive. If you buy a computer chair and it works fine and no problems, you go about your day. If you buy one and the wheels keep falling off, you bet you that there is a higher chance of someone sitting down and writing a negative review on their wobbly chair!

2. I, therefore, think that for every negative review there are many positive reviews sitting out there.

3. Emotions get out of control. It is a book. I love books, I love writing, but it is a book. I have seen people leave some harsh and mean reviews of a book. To me it as if the author was writing about the readers life or slept with their wife. Get over it.

4. It was 99 cents to $2.99. You spent a small amount of money for this book. Why are you getting bent out of shape? If you fries at McDonald's were too salty do you go the manager? I realize there are people who do that, but I would like to believe that that is the small minority of people.

5. It was the readers fault in the first place. I have received a couple of 2-3 Star reviews. The reader/reviewer stated something along the lines of "I thought this book was going to be about _____ but it was about this. Disappointed." I go back and read the description and think, "Umm I have no idea how they thought it was about that."

6. People are unhappy in life and putting a 1 star review on authors blog make them feel powerful.

7. Who cares what people think. I read bad reviews of books and buy the book anyway.

8. I am a supervisor and I am a BIG FAN of praising in public, critical feedback in private. I recently was asked to review a book by a few authors. They say "Be honest." I email them back and say, "I will review in a useful way, and give critical feedback to them directly." Hey, I would love to get emails or private messages sent to me through my blog, than all my mistakes and shortcomings put on Amazon or other sites.

9. Use the feedback. I recently got feedback that my time frame was off in my book. It could have been said a little nicer, and possibly through email or privately. I, however, went back into my book and fixed it all. Thanks reviewer.

10. Don't respond to the Harsh Reviews. I think that authors get caught up in that, and spend too much time responding to viewers. Authors have different opinions on this, but my current philosophy is learn from it, don't respond, and move on. Some authors don't even read their reviews.

What do you think about these reviews?
Do you write reviews on books?

Check-out the inspiring "Is Our Culture Becoming Too Critical and Open"
post by Jody Hedlund titled

Book Excerpt: Healing My Anxiety by Julia Bar

An excerpt from Healing My Anxiety:
 
I read that many people have their first panic attack come on suddenly, out of the blue.

It starts while they are watching TV, having a meal, or simply relaxing. In March 2002 I experienced some chest pain. Back then I lived in a small but prosperous country town in New South Wales with my de facto husband and my daughter from a previous marriage. I was 33 years old.

A moment in time: I am lying on a bed in the emergency department, staring at the ceiling and promising myself to change my lifestyle, to lose weight. I am scared, but hopeful. I have never had any serious health problems.

I tried, but I didn’t persist with my efforts. It was not only extra weight that I was carrying. I found that often before a significant medical issue comes up we get a warning of some sort. There is still time to do something, but often it is ignored or dismissed...

My life became a nightmare. I was getting sick as often as every 10 minutes...
 
Check out Healing My Anxiety by Julia Bar.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Blog Tricks

Maybe you can help me out. I have been trying to pay more attention to my dog, my kids, my work, the outdoors, and my blog (not in that order). What trick or tactics do you use to improve your blogging?

I am trying to do a 7 minute blog post. Here it goes.
These are the things I have tried to do to improve Writer + Wilderness Girl Under It All blog.

1. Setting aside time in the day to blog.
2. Setting goals. By the end of May I will have over 100 posts.
3. Set a schedule of days that are dedicated to blog and sticking to the schedule.
4. Making a list of blog topics for days that inspiration does not strike.
5. Building a network of guest bloggers.
6. Taking a ton of pictures at every moment I get, so I have an archive of pictures to choose from.

3 minutes left

7. Look at other people's blogs to get ideas.
8. Change the look of the blog.
9. I am creating a button for my blog.
10. Talking about my blog with friends and co-workers.
11. Putting book excerpts of mine on my blog.
12. Writing about books I am reading.
13. Thinking about my blog while walking the dog and driving to work.
14. Listening to inspiring music.
15. Thinking outside the box.
16. When I look up how to do things and find out how to do them, I blog about it to teach others.
17. I keep an Author's Log.
18. Networking with others.
19. Commenting on other's blogs.
20. Writing this blog.

1 minute to spell check and a picture. Not sure I will make it.
What are your ideas? (21.Ending the blog with a question thus summoning comments).
Went over by 2 minutes due to trying to find the right picture.

A Writer's Anxiety: Guest Blog by Julia Bar

Hi there, my name is Julia Bar. I live in Sydney, Australia. Thank you for this opportunity to share my story. I was born in a former Soviet Union and when I was 22 my life changed dramatically when I migrated to Australia to join my then fiancĂ©. In 2002 my life took another turn when I got very sick with anxiety and panic attacks. Since then I was working very hard to heal myself and change myself for better. Unfortunately, once you get anxiety it never goes away completely; however one can get to the stage when it is lurking somewhere "backstage" and is no longer a dominant force.

I also suffer from form of OCD which is not properly diagnosed in many people. It is very well described in Lee Baer book "The Imp of the Mind: Exploring the Silent Epidemic of Obsessive Bad Thoughts".

We all have issues and worries we have to deal with daily. On the top of this my head is constantly bombarded with obsessive negative thoughts. How can one survive? 

I adapted holistic approach. Instead of relying on drugs long term and becoming a hermit I read about anxiety and what causes it. I have also studied spirituality. Even though in former USSR religion was considered to be "opium for the masses", I have been religious since I was a young girl.

I realized that we are here to learn lessons and once you make a change for a better in one area of your life other areas start to follow. I had a difficult personal life as well - first divorce when my daughter was 4, then another long term relationship ended in separation just after I got sick with anxiety. It's a constant struggle to keep my conditions in check, but as I was progressing physically and spiritually my whole life changed. I’m now more happy and peaceful than ever and am engaged to a wonderful loving man. 

If you or someone you love is suffering from anxiety:
I believe that anxiety is a sign that something is not right in your life. A sign from your body that deep inside you are disagreeing with something that is going on. We all have fight or flight syndrome - anxiety can be described as being stuck in a constant position of "fight or flight". See a progressive doctor as you may need some drug relief and see a psychologist to try to work out why your body is sabotaging you. Reading about anxiety will help as well.

I describe my journey in my first book, Healing My Anxiety. I am available for any questions via my website Healing My Anxiety Blog. 

 
An exerpt from Julia Bar's book will be featured on this blog soon.
 
 


Monday, May 20, 2013

What Color Were Her Eyes?: Keeping Your Facts Accurate

As a writer, you are creating a world, events, and characters. This can range from creating a language, new forms of gravity, or a family of eight. That is a lot of creating and a lot to remember. Whether you are writing something 40,000 words or 140,000 words, it is important that you have a way to remember the people, things, and places you have created. Here are some ideas that I have learned or created.


Keeping Track of Places
Something I would like to call the world.
Maps- As a kid, I loved opening a book and find a map within the first few pages. It was wonderful to have a map to a fictional or a real world. It was helpful during the book when they were talking about flying from Orange Mountain to Blue Fish Lake. The map does not need to be put in the final product but could aid the author in keeping geography accurate.

Building Lay-Out- Draw a lay-out of a house, office, or a building. This helps a writer be accurate when describing where a character is walking or running. This will avoid your character in walking off the elevator and turning left to get to his office in one scene, and then turning right in the next chapter. Walking into you co-worker's office could be embarrassing.
Lay-out is important especially during action scenes.


Neighborhood Description- Draw a picture of the houses on your character's block, and who lives in each house. When little 10 year old Jenny hits a baseball into Mrs. Smith's window, make sure Mrs. Smith does not live a half a mile away.

Other Things to Keep Track: If the book requires character's to travel around town, draw or note the stop lights and lay-out of the town. If you use a setting that is a real place, take pictures. Sometimes my scenes take place in a real places like cafes, stores, restaurants, etc. It is always helpful to write while in those places if available and/or take pictures.

People
When creating characters, you need to keep track of every aspect you throw on paper.
Physical Description- Keep track of their build, eye color, hair color, skin color, height, how many fingers they have on their left hand, etc.  You don't have to describe this about every character, but if you describe it, record it somewhere.
History- Keep track of anything you say about their background. Did they go to college, been to prison, been in a war, adopted 22 dogs, etc. Keep track of everything you reveal. This will avoid you saying that someone is afraid of dogs, but he has a history of adopting 22 of them.
Likes & Dislikes: If you reveal it, have a way to record it.
Powers or Special Information: Avoid sending your vampire character to the beach. Enough said.

BEST WAY TO RECORD THIS? I like to use index cards.
On that index card I write things like below:

Name:                                                     Age:
Nickname:
Relationships/Family:                           Physical Attributes:
Other Information:

If have a bunch of characters related in some way, use a genogram to track the relationships.


Languages/Spells/ Codes and other Tedious Things We Create
If creating a language, magical spells, or soldier codes, keep a list and what each of them mean. This could be a list you quickly access when the side-kick has to remember how to banish a 20 foot monster. This list could be added as a glossary to the final book or used for the next book in the series if seemed appropriate.

Using some kind of organization to keep your facts consistent is important. You can't have your reader falling in love with a blue-eyed man only to find that he has brown eyes 10 Chapters into the book. Why did he get contacts?

How do you keep track of your facts in your writing?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Making a Make-Believe Believable

Guest Post by Jamie Marchant

        Fantasy literature transports you from the mundane world into the strange and the magical. How does it do this? By making that world believable, in its setting, its use of magic, and in its characters. To transport you, the fantasy world must be as complex and rich as reality. While I don’t like works that give long lectures on the history and geography, a sense of both must be present in the fantasy world—this sense preferably arising naturally from the needs of the plot and unfolding bit by bit. For example, in The Goddess’s Choice the way we learn about the longstanding animosity and history of warfare between Korth and Lundia is through the king’s pressure on the crown princess Samantha to marry. King Solar believes her marriage is necessary to maintain the fragile peace between the joined kingdoms. The history and culture of the joined kingdoms flow from and enhance the story’s central conflict.
            Magic is an essential element of fantasy; yet to be believable, any system of magic must be both consistent and limited in scope. When the limitations on the wizard or sorcerer are clearly established, tension builds as he or she must work within those limits. The existence of magic doesn’t allow the writer to cheat. My hero’s Robbie’s magic lies in the ability to connect to the mind and body of another. It only works on living things. He can’t suddenly have the ability to warp metal even though that would be convenient. The use of his magic also depletes him physically, so he must be wise in its use. His strength is also his vulnerability.
            For me, the most important element in creating a believable fantasy world lies in the characters. A believable world must be peopled with believable characters. In reality, few people are without flaws, but few are so bad that they have no redeeming qualities. Fantasy characters must be equally complex. Heroes must not be completely virtuous, and villains at least need sound motives for their villainy. Robbie is burdened with anger, and Samantha is headstrong and somewhat insensitive. On the other hand, Argblutal believes (with some justification) the throne is rightfully his and that he’d be a better king than a eighteen-year-old girl. When I read a novel, if I can believe a writer’s characters, I can forgive other inconsistencies with the work, but if I cannot believe the characters, nothing else the writer does can redeem the story. Depth of character is the key to believability in the make-believe world of fantasy.


Jamie Marchant teaches writing and literature at Auburn University. She lives with her husband, son, and four cats in Auburn, Alabama. She is author of The Goddess's Choice and Demons in the Big Easy.




Excerpt from Tunnel W

I just sent and excerpt for a feature on author Jamie Marchant's blog. I will keep you posted when my interview is up on her blog. I thought it would be good to put an excerpt on my blog. Comment and let me know what you think.
 
After being forced to run into a high-risk prison tunnel, a fearless woman uses the two officers who chased her in there to help her escape. - Tunnel W
 
Excerpt from Tunnel W by Michele M. Reynolds
FREE On Smashwords HERE

"I can't believe they bucketed me,” she thought. She never thought she would be a Relo. She swore she would not be a victim, but here she was captured and eating carpet. The carpet smelled like rock salt. Her face look toward the front seat. She could see a dime under the black seat. Her hands were strapped behind her back by electronic cuffs. Four large shoes attached to two large people were on her back and legs.
           "It is hard enough to sit up from this position, let alone fight," she thought. "That's probably why they have me like this." She was glad she had positioned her belt buckle to her left hip. Nobody ever wears their belt buckle in the center anymore in case of being bucketed. Bucketed that is what they call being thrown in the back of a car with bucket seats.
            She didn't even remember that it was the 1st of the month. She had been told by elders that the 1st of the month used to just meant turning your calendar to a new picture of a cute kitten or beautiful landscape. Now it means that you better turn and run and watch your back. You never knew when it was going to be your turn to be bucketed. It was a 1 in a 1,000 chance in her city.
           There was a sharp pain in her knee.
           "Lay off the knee you Swabby!" she managed to yell from the floor mats. The Swabby on her knee lifted up his or her feet and placed them lower on her calf. The Swabby with her feet on her back pushed harder and leaned down close to her head.
           "Listen here, Relo," the Swabby said through her gritted teeth. "We don't have to take anything from you. We have lost many lives during transfer. It is nothing to us. We can hit you again if you want."
           "Look Amazon, let's not let the estrogen run wild in here," she answered. "No reason for me to piss all over your van." Then that Swabby grabbed her hand and twisted it hard. A surge went up her arm, but she refused to scream.
          "Easy," the other Swabby said. It was a young man's voice. "She will bring us a lot of points. She is in good shape. I need the points, so easy, easy."
          "Hear that sweetie," Amazon Swabby said. "Your lucky my partner here is sticking up for you."
          "Look just take these cuffs off me, and you and I can go toe to toe, Amazon," she answered. Amazon Swabby scoffed.
           "Nothing like that will happen," the male Cutie Swabby interjected. "I have the taser on the highest level.” She heard the clicking of the taser gun. "Got it?"
          "Got it," she answered. "Hey, can we at least stop for some fries?" She loved that saying. She had no idea what fries tasted like, but remembered them from some old 1990's movies.
           "Get her prints," Amazon Swabby ordered. Guy Swabby grabbed her hands and gently slid her fingers into something that felt like have a soft, plastic glove. The glove tightened on her hand and she smiled.
           "Whaaaat?" Cutie Swabby said.
           "Is it one of those hard to pronounce names," Amazon Swabby asked as her voice trailed. She was looking out the back window.
          "Nope," Cutie Swabby answered.
          "Fingerprints removed?" Amazon Swabby asked.
          "Nope there are fingerprints alright," Cutie Swabby answered. "According to this, she is five people."
         "Let me see that," Amazon Swabby answered as she grabbed the fingerprint translator from him. "Okay, so Janis Joplin, Cassie Cain, Penny Parker, Harriet Truman and Alannah Scott. So which one is it honey?" Amazon Swabby called down to her and dug the heel of her boot into her back.
         “Take your pick,” she answered as she chuckled.
         “How do people address you?” Cutie Swabby asked. He actually seemed puzzled.
         “They don't,” she answered.
         “I am sending this in about Ms. Five here,” Amazon Swabby said.
         “Sindi, we. . . what,” Cutie Swabby said and then whispered. “I have never run into this.”
         This statement was followed by silence. She heard some light ticking on something and realized Sindi was probably typing a message into base.
        “Vizio, they said to take her into Tunnel W,” Sindi said.
        “What?” Vizio asked. “Is that necessary? She is just a . . . girl.”
        “Orders,” Sindi said.
         She lay on the floor under their feet with just the sounds of the road funneling through her left ear. She could see the black shoes of the driver up front. The driver's right foot pushed on the gas and left foot tapped lightly as if to the beat of music. She thought about how music, singing, and dancing helped people through many tough times. She thought about busting into song but knew that would drive Sindi's heel harder into her back.
        She was going to Tunnel W. It must be a terrifying place. She heard the quiver in Vizio's voice. The car turned onto a gravel road. Sindi moved forward and tapped the hard, plastic divider between the back and front seat.
        “Tunnel W!” Sindi yelled. The car veered a hard right.
        As her face lay against the rug, she felt her adrenaline kick in. She slowly started moving her wrists back and forth trying to loosen the restraints. She attempted to pull her wrists away from each other the restraints got tighter.
      “Sweetie, you are going to get your wrists cut-off if you keep struggling. So struggle all you want,” Sindi laughed.
     “They are mechanical, electronic ya' know,” Vizio said. “Stop struggling.”
      She said nothing. They stopped and she could hear the driver roll down the window and share words with someone. It sounded like two guys speaking. She tried to lift her head and to look at the guard. Sindi pushed her feet into her slamming her to the floor.
     “Easy there Amazon!” she said. “Save it for your husband.”
     “You know you will get what you deserve. You should be scared,” Sindi's voice grew to a whisper. “I wouldn't even step foot into Tunnel W.”
      A small horn sounded and she heard what she thought was a gate opening. Her adrenaline was kicking in faster. She steadied her breathe, closed her eyes, and smiled. The car stopped and Sindi got out first. As she stepped out she put extra pressure on her captives back, and pushed the palm of her hand into the back of her captive's head. Sindi slammed the door shut.
    “Easy now,” Vizio said. “Don't make me zap you.” Vizio opened the door. “Ok get up on your knees and I will guide you out.” She got on her knees. Vizio grabbed her wrists and pulled her backwards out of the van. 
      Vizio led her a few steps away from the van. Before her stood a man in a brown suit, another man in what seemed to be a guard uniform, and a woman about six feet tall. She guest the woman was Sindi. Vizio stood behind her still holding her wrists that were fastened behind her.
      “This her?” the man in the suit asked. He had brown and gray hair and a receding hairline. His face wore many wrinkles.
      “This is she,” she answered.
      “Feisty huh?” the suit asked.
      “Yes, sir,” Vizio answered. “But no problem picking her up. I am thinking that this must be some misunderstanding. I don't think she is Tunnel W level.”
      “Officer?” the suit man asked as he looked at Sindi.
      “No problem, just a big mouth, sir,” she answered. With that the man in the business suit waived the guard off and the guard walked over to a booth 100 feet away. She looked around her. They were in the middle of what looked like a common. In front of her was a wall made of gray, square rocks. It looked to be about 200 feet tall. In the middle of wall was an opening with an arced entryway. Behind her was the road from which she came down. There was a weird blue hue that tainted the trees and mountains.
       “Surrounded by a force field,” Vizio whispered to her. “You don't want to get within ten feet of that.”
       A few guards emerged from a building attached to the wall. They were about 100 yards away. She looked back at the man in the business suit. He was squinting with the sun behind her. He reached into his jacket and pulled out a pair of sunglasses and put them on.
       “Do you know who I am?” he asked.
       “I am assuming I should,” she answered.
       “Yes you should,” he answered. “I am High Commander, Sam Day. I run the tunnels.”
       “You must be fit,” she answered. “You know all that running.”
       He let out a short laugh and said, “Now your turn.”
       “Turn?” she asked.
        “Turn to introduce yourself,” he answered. “That was rather clever with your aliases.”
        “Did you guys know them?” Sam asked Vizio and Sindi.
        “No sir,” Vizio answered and Sindi just shook her head.
        “One of them was a druggie a hundred years ago,” Sam said.
        “Janis Joplin, musician,” she said over her shoulder to Vizio. He tightened his grip on her wrists.
        “One of them was the name for cat woman or bat woman or something,” Sam continued.
        “Cassie Cain,” she said as she turned to Sindi. “She would kick your ass.” Sindi's lips formed a snarl.
        “Then there were two names that were tough,” Sam said. “But with some time I found it. The female versions of Spiderman and the Green Lantern.”
        “Nobody reads comics anymore. It is such a shame,” she said as she moved her wrist apart and the restraints got tighter.
        “Stop squirming,” Vizio whispered. “I can't loosen them on you.”
        The guards were only 20 yards from them at this time. One of the guards slowed as he saw her. He put his arm out and stopped the other guard and seemed to say something to him.
       “And then there was Tubman,” Sam said as he looked at her.
       “Queen of the underground railroad,” she said to all of them.
       The approaching guards turned pale and reached for their weapons. She was the only one that noticed the fear in their eyes.
       “Rebel,” one of the approaching guards said. “Rebel!” he yelled. Sam's eyes went wide. Vizio tightened his grip on her wrists.
       “Rebel?” Sam asked. “You?”

 Tunnel W is FREE on Smashwords HERE.
 

 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Missy Michaels Interview: From Cereal Box Reader to Writer

She (Missy Michaels) was inspired by a 4 year old neighbor who already knew how to read and she didn't know yet. She learned how to read and started reading everything in sight. Books, cereal box panels while she ate breakfast, the ingredients list on lotion bottles and everywhere else she saw words. She's observant and has a wonderful imagination and is starting work on her second novel!
                                                                                                                    -From Goodreads

TradeMark Remark:
If Missy was on a camping trip, what would be her role?   COOK 
        (I am hoping that since she likes barbecue she can make it).
 

This is me trying a new interview style of questions involving numbers. Missy Michaels was a good sport and played along.


What is the #1 reason you are a writer?
The number one reason that I’m a writer is that I’m fascinated with the way the right word can evoke a specific feeling.

 Who are 2 authors who have inspired you?
Two authors who inspire me with their style of writing are Ann Leary and Elizabeth Berg.

What are 3 reasons readers should read your book?
One reason is because it introduces brand new characters to the reader. The second is because it introduces me, Missy Michaels, to the reader. The third reason is because To the Swift tells the story of a marriage that is in trouble, a friendship that is so completely twisted and of a secret obsession.

If you had 4 hours to spend with any character, who would you spend it with, and what would you do?
I would spend the four hours with Victor Newman on Young and the Restless in Genoa City, WI (fictional town) and we would have breakfast at Gloworm and lunch at his mansion and he would give me a tour of Newman Enterprises and the new restaurant On the Boulevard and of Adam’s penthouse.

What are the Fab 5 things authors/writers should have?
1. An active imagination.
2. An eye for detail.
3. Curiosity about human behavior.
4. A dictionary.
5. A love of reading.

What are you usually doing at 6 am?
Dreaming usually, if I’m up at 6 am I’m probably not that happy about it.

 If you had 7 seconds to describe your book to someone, what would you say?
 It’s an intriguing story with fascinating characters waiting for you. Go see.

If you could travel anywhere or anytime (time travel), and spend 8 hours there, where or when would you go? Why? What would you do?
I would use the time travel option. I would travel to my parents first day as a married couple. I would go to Fort Hood, TX Army Base. I would be invisible so that I could just observe the young couple at the very beginning of their marriage before the birth of me and my younger brother and sister. It would be so fascinating to see the very beginning of their journey that continues to this every day.

What is in aisle 9? Godiva Chocolate Liquer, Haagan Dasz Chocolate Chocalate Chip Ice Cream, Nestle Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips, Champagne, Pineapple Juice and Purple Seedless Grapes.

What are the top 10 reasons to be a writer?
1. Enjoyment
2. Relaxation
3. Exploration.
4. Love
5.Fascination
6.Curiosity
7. Adventure
8. Creative Thinking
9. Recognition
10. Posterity.
 
AUTHOR'S SUMMARY: What is To the Swift about?
Monica Jerome grew up wealthy, pampered and carefree in Lafayette, Louisiana. Daniel LeBlanc grew up poor in the nearby town of Breaux Bridge. Daniel meets, pursues and marries Monica after only a four month romance. After nearly ten years of marriage and the birth of their daughter and two sons they decide to leave the bayou country of Louisiana to move to Memphis, TN. After settling into a front office position with a luxury hotel in her new city Monica finds herself being preyed upon by an obsessive stalker. Unbeknownst to her, it is someone she trusts and considers not only her co-worker but a new friend. A spur of the moment decision to save a marriage has totally unexpected repercussions. What happens when a friend quietly and persistently unleashes his own agenda to make devastating changes to the outcome the couple desperately seeks?


To the Swift is available now!