Guest Post- 7 Tips to Write, Make Deadlines, and Not Get Lost in the Process

Hi everyone! Today I am very excited to bring you a guest post by Max E. Stone, an author who knows the struggle of writing, hitting all the deadlines, and staying focused on the task at hand. He has agreed to share some of his tips and tricks to help you be able to manage the crazy  writing life!


If your life tends to be stressful and hectic like mine, keeping deadlines is tough to say the least. Maintaining a cool head in the face of that turmoil is harder still. Add “Writing” into your “already-crazy” schedule and you could downright lose your mind.

Speaking from personal experience, there were times I’ve worked myself into so much of a ball of stress that I swore up and down it was Tuesday morning on a Friday afternoon. Since that time, exactly a year and a half ago, I’ve learned a few things about keeping cool and managing my time.

  1. Set workable deadlines

You know you better than anyone else knows you. You know what you can do in a given timeline and you know what is important to you. So dig deep. Ask yourself specific questions. One of the things I ask myself whenever I put together my work for the day, week, or month to come is this: “Of everything on my to-do list, what are the most important things?” From there, set deadlines you can work with and make provisions for changes that may come along the way. Which leads to the next tip…

  1. Start early

Life gets in the way. I’ve been there. You’re into the hour you’ve schedule for writing when suddenly you get a phone call that’s going to send you out the door for what you know will be at least another hour or two.  I’ve found that, if I have a task due in two weeks, I’ll begin for a half hour two weeks early. Then, I will do a little bit of it each day until it is completed early or on time. This way, I’ve made room for the changes that might come in the day, I can complete my other tasks, and I haven’t driven myself completely nuts in rushing to the end of that one thing to do.

  1. Don’t freak if/when you don’t make those deadlines

As hard as you or I will try, there are going to be times when you don’t make the deadline set. When that happens, don’t freak out. Don’t worry. It happens.  Just keep going and keep pushing.  You do that and everything will get done.

  1. Exercise/Get some fresh air

Straight from my mother’s mouth.

Both fresh air and exercise have numerous mental and physical health benefits. Sometimes, you have to step away from the computer, desk, etc. in the middle of the day because, frankly, you’re sick of looking at it or in my case, your eyes are burning and your bottom’s sore from sitting. At that point, I strongly encourage you to go outside, get active, go for a walk, or do some yoga. During the mornings, I run, and during the middle of the day, if I feel the need, I’ll go for a walk. So do what you can. Your body and mind will not only thank you but the quality of your day and work will immensely improve.

  1. Read

Books are awesome. No doubt about that. However, the mental advantages are similar to that of exercise and fresh air. I read for about an hour a day, whether its fiction, non-fiction, or education. I just read and let my mind take me away for just that hour. When I come back to my tasks, I’m fresh and all set to finish up what’s needed.

  1. Ask others

I spend a good portion of my day asking questions. No one person has all the answers to every question. Researching and asking questions is so essential. If you know someone who has mastered the art of managing their day, talk with them. Pick their brain and find what works for you.

  1. Rest

I learned this one the hard way and ended up not only losing a day but driving myself crazy in the process. So do yourself a favor. If you’re tired, go to sleep. Get a nap. If it’s late at night, go to sleep. It’s not only refreshing to do so, but medically necessary. Not getting enough sleep can’t hurt you and, among other things, impair your sense. Your body does a lot for you. Take care of it. Let it relax and reload.


Max doesn’t remember ever not creating a story, pen or no pen.
A writer and lover of books since the age of nine, Max first set pen to page as a hobby, constructing stories that were anything but fit for children. Entertaining classmates 13692597_1057472987641139_8414948098222036885_nwhile simultaneously concerning surrounding adults with blood-ridden tales of gory mysteries and heavy suspense that “just came to mind”, Max, with the help of family and the encouraging words of an inspiring fifth grade teacher, continue to develop this gift.
Little was it known at the time, but said gift would become a lifeline.
From horrific trauma in max’s teen years, writing played an instrumental part in the difficult recovery and the Warrens, Bennetts, and Johnsons, three interconnected families all with issues, mysteries, and secrets that threaten their livelihood and lives, were born.
Max reads everything and everyone and relishes the journey, learning something new each day.
Find Max Online:
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Guest Post- How a Broke Ankle Made a Dream Come True

Hi everyone! Today I have a guest post from author Douglas Geller. He is going to share with you how his dream come true from something as unlikely as a broken ankle.


This night felt different, I was tired from waking up at 4:30 in the morning to go to work and it was the night before Thanksgiving. I really didn’t want to go to karate, instead I wanted to be lazy and play video games. But I went as I always did, I’d done it more times than I could remember because its what I always did.

The warm up was light sparring, just tap, tap among the few of us in attendance. We finished the drill before I reminded my dad (the lead teacher) that we forgot someone. So I lined up opposite tiny. Tiny is the nickname we have for the student that is 6’6 and 230 pounds. I duck under his punch and took his back. All 5’5.5, 140 pounds of me holding on to him. He starts dragging me around the mat and I hold on. I decide to hold on for an extra moment to see if he could figure out what to do, a teaching moment. He jerks back and my feet crossed which they aren’t supposed to do. I tell myself I should fix this but move slowly. Tiny starts to fall back and I feel a small crack in my left ankle. I say in my head that it felt weird but don’t make anything of it. I feel myself falling and think here we go. I land and as if I woke up from a bad dream I start screaming. A few hours later in the hospital I find out I broke my ankle.

I laid in my bed tired and in pain for several nights, restless I started reading anything that seemed slightly intriguing. I read an article about Aging Out, a book that tells stories of kids who aged out of the foster care system and their struggles and overcoming obstacles to achieve their dreams. I’m fascinated and can’t stop thinking about it, I think about the fighters I watch and all of their stories and decide that someone should write a story intertwining the two. That night I look at my computer and laughed that I could write the story. For a moment I think I could and I started typing and I found I really enjoyed doing it. So every night I continued to write without telling anyone, it was always the highlight of my day.

I dreamed I could share the story I wrote with the world and for a while I resisted. Who would take me seriously? How many people write books and are laughed at? But then I thought of the poem my dad read at my Bar Mitzvah, The Man In The Glass by Peter “Dale” Wimbrow Sr. and not to cheat the man in the glass. Nine months later I look at the man in the glass and he is smiling at me, because I overcame, pain and insecurity to make my dream come true.


headshotDouglas Geller is 23-years-old and works in public relations. He is a graduate of Ithaca College and grew up and currently resides in White Plains, New York. He has trained in martial arts since he was five-years old and has earned a fourth degree black belt and the title of Sensei.

He has written non-fiction for newspapers including: The Ithacan, The Examiner and Patch. This is his first fiction piece.

Find Douglas Online:

Website

Instagram

Facebook

Twitter

 

Guest Post- Birth of a Collection

Hi guys! Today I have a guest post by Charles Salzberg, one of the three authors behind Triple Shot. His post illustrates how his collaborative writing journey began and evolved to where it is today.


A couple years ago my friend and fellow crime writer, Tim O’Mara, approached me with a proposition. He had just returned from Bouchercon and was excited about a planned website which would offer a download of a different crime novella to subscribers each month.

“I’m going to do it and if you have an idea you might consider doing it, too,” he said.

I’d never written a novella before but it was tempting in large part because they’re usually at least half as long as a novel and, I figured, half as hard to write. So I said, “I’ll give it a shot.”

Years earlier I’d collaborated a screenplay from an idea I’d had about an ambitious female journalist who’s contacted by a woman in prison who’s there for killing her husband and two children. She claims she was framed for the crime and asks the journalist to help prove her innocent. I can’t speak for other writers but I’m always looking for the easy way out and so I figured I’d just rewrite the screenplay as a novella.

The screenplay was optioned several times but, like most scripts in Hollywood, was never made. Every production company that optioned it wanted changes, all of which were either pretty silly or downright insulting. They wanted to soften both characters, and one producer actually went so far as to suggest that the main character, Trish, should be changed to a man. My co-writer and I laughed. First of all, it was essential the character be a woman, because we were playing against stereotypes in that we wanted her to be tough, ambitious, and not above cutting corners to achieve an end when necessary. Besides, did they think changing a woman to a man was merely a function of doing a universal search and changing Trish to Joe and she to he? The answer is, they probably did. We passed on the idea and they passed on the script.

Waste not, want not, so now Twist of Fate the screenplay was about to become Twist of Fate the novella.

The truth is, I was never comfortable writing screenplays. I need more than just dialogue and description. Besides, I initially see the world in words not images. So now, writing a novella, I could get deeper into the motivations of all the characters and, if possible, make the story even darker because I didn’t have to satisfy a whole bunch of cooks who had not idea what the broth is and what makes it tasty.

Twist of Fate was a bit of a departure for me. The two main characters were women, and the story would be narrated by a woman, something I’d never done before. Not only would the two protagonists be women but they wouldn’t be particularly nice women. So much for that old saw about having to like the characters in a book in order to like the book. I’ve never believed that. As far as I’m concerned you have to be interested in the characters, not like them.

I submitted Twist of Fate and soon after I did I told my friend, Ross Klavan, at our weekly lunch about the project and urged him to write something, too. He accepted the challenge unspecifiedmmand all three novellas, mine, Ross’s and Tim’s, were quickly accepted.

Unfortunately, as good an idea as it might have been the website never materialized and, after a year or so, we started getting restless/ If our novellas were never going to see the light of day, we wanted them back. But what would we do with them? There’s really no market for stand-alone novellas, so Tim and I came up with an idea. Why not get the rights back and, along with Ross, package the three novellas in one collection?

That’s what we did and the result is Triple Shot, a collection of noir crime stories, which is going to be released this month (August).


unspecifiedCHARLES SALZBERG is the author of the Shamus Award-nominated Swann’s Last Song, Swann Dives In, Swann’s Lake of Despair (re-release Nov. 2016), Devil in the Hole (re-release Nov. 2016), Triple Shot (Aug. 2016), and Swann’s Way Out (Feb. 2017). His novels have been recognized by Suspense Magazine, the Silver Falchion Awards, the Beverly Hills Book Award and the Indie Excellence Award. He has written over 25 nonfiction books, including From Set Shot to Slam Dunk, an oral history of the NBA, and Soupy Sez: My Life and Zany Times, with Soupy Sales. He has been a visiting professor of magazine at the S.I. Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University, and he teaches writing at the Writer’s Voice and the New York Writers Workshop where he is a founding member.

Find Triple Shot Online:

Goodreads

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

 

Guest Post- 3 Things You Need To Know Before Crowdfunding

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Hi everyone! Today I have a special guest author, Grace K. Francis, who has written a guest post about her experience Crowdpublishing her novel. Grace is a German writer and her debut novel, Codename: DEREC was published in April 2016 with the help of publishing company Kladde. Read about her experience and the pro’s and cons of Crowdfunding!


The term crowdfunding has been around for what seems like forever, hasn’t it? Platforms like Kickstarter have given it a huge boost in the last few years. When I first heard about it, I thought it was a great idea for young entrepreneurs to find financial support for their business. I had no idea that the same thing existed for books, which is also known as crowdpublishing.

After finishing the last edit of my manuscript at the beginning of 2015, I had already long forgotten about crowdfunding. The thing I worried about at that point in time was whether I should contact a traditional publisher or dare to go down the path of self-publishing. Self-publishing seemed pretty intimidating to me so I discarded that idea pretty quickly; although I admittedly didn’t do much research on it. Instead, I went on the search for a German publisher, and like every young author aiming to make their debut, I was terribly insecure.

During fall, 2015, I found Kladde, a small publishing house in Freiburg, Germany. That was when the term crowdpublishing entered my life again. Kladde publishes their authors’ books via crowdfunding only, because that’s how they collect the money they need in order to pay their proofreaders, editors, cover designers and so on.

By referencing my own “publishing journey”, let me tell you the most important things you need to know when considering crowdpublishing your work.

1. You still have to decide whether to publish traditionally or self-publish

The number of publishers like Kladde, who only publish via crowdfunding, is significantly low; even more so in the English-speaking publishing world than in the German one. You could, of course, start a crowdfunding campaign for yourself to raise the money you need for your project. But keep in mind that with self-publishing you have to do everything yourself from editing to marketing and everything in between. If you go with a traditional publisher when you crowdfund, they will set up the campaign for you, advertise your novel, and you’ll be able to profit from their experience.

2. There is the risk of not getting fully funded

The thing about crowdpublishing is you take a big step at a very early stage of your publishing journey, and at that early stage you have to be convincing.

The website of my campaign contained a short video of me introducing myself and my novel, an extract of the novel, a synopsis, and a list of “perks” that those who donate receive in return (example: someone who donated 10€ received a copy of the E-Book and a handwritten Thank You card).

This early step can be a blessing and a curse: your audience (aka your possible readers) are the ones who decide whether your book gets published or not. They decide whether it’s interesting enough for them to read. Once they decide “Yes, I want this novel in my shelf,” they will most likely donate, which is of course a great thing because it’s a way for readers to actively be involved in shaping their personal, literary preferences. However, if you’re not convincing enough, they’ll just close the tab of their browser and move on (which would be bad).

It will make you doubt yourself and your work

Trust me, I’ve been through self-doubt with my debut novel.

My campaign started off really well; probably because the first people who donated were family and friends who I had told about my project. I reached the first 15% of the funding threshold within the first two days and I got incredibly excited!

My crowdfunding was set up so that I had a total of 55 days to collect 3000€. After my initial friends and family head start, I received several donations from people I didn’t know (but who most likely read about the campaign on my publisher’s Facebook page). I didn’t start to feel the self-doubt until about 5 days prior to the end of my campaign, when the donation number stopped going up.

You have to know, I can be very pessimistic at times. That was such a point. It made me feel like my book wasn’t good enough to be published. I began to doubt my writing skills, my style, my entire novel because I knew that if I didn’t reach my campaign goal, my novel wouldn’t get published. I was dependent on these readers, and if they left me hanging so close to the goal, I surely must have been not convincing enough, right?

Wrong.

I ended up reaching my goal just a few hours before the deadline ended. I even reached more than what I would have needed.

It was then that I realized that crowdpublishing is indeed a risk, but it’s a risk worth taking, because at least you’ll have people supporting you who are genuinely interested in your book. Of course you’re dependent on them, but hey, at some point in life, everyone is dependent on someone, right?

I’m glad that I took the step of crowdpublishing for “Codename: DEREC” because although it’s nowhere near perfect (the sequel will be so much better), I learned a lot from the experience itself. I learned how to represent my novel and myself as an author on the internet and on social media. I also learned how to deal with self-doubt and even with 2 star reviews, after it was published. And knowing those things can help a great deal once you’re really getting into the “industry”.

And remember, if there are any new opportunities opening themselves up to you, take them. As long as you’ve got “your book’s back,” you can do anything!


GKF

Grace K. Francis is a bilingual author born 1997 in Germany.

She began writing at the age of 10 and published her first book “Codename: DEREC” on April 20th, 2016.

While working on its sequel, she’s now started to work on her first English-speaking project, a homoerotic novel set in Japan.

Grace K. Francis has a partiality for everything Japanese, music, tattoos and cats.

Grace is currently searching for Beta Readers for her newest novel! If you are interested, message Grace on her Twitter (click here).

7 Mistakes Indie Authors Make Designing Their Book Cover

This is a guest post by Kari Anders, the designer behind Free eBook Covers. Learn about the seven most common mistakes indie authors make when designing their book covers.


As self-publishing becomes more and more prevalent, I’ve noticed a trend in authors working to stand out from the crowd by professionally self-publishing. Authors of all experience levels are hiring teams of freelancers to edit and design their manuscript to prepare it for sale. This creates a unique marketplace where self-published and published works are often undistinguishable, and gives readers a wider (and less expensive) range of books to read.

However, not all self-published authors can afford to hire a team of freelancers to help sell their work. It becomes a chicken and egg problem. If the author cannot hire professionals, it’s likely their work will not sell as well, and therefore they will not earn enough to justify those costs. So many authors are choosing the do-it-yourself option of publishing. If you are self-publishing and planning on designing your own book cover, take a look at the seven most common mistakes I see from Indie authors:

Mistake #1: Using Text Overlays

I would classify this mistake as lazy design. When selecting an image, you should keep in mind possible arrangements for text placement. Not all great images will work as book covers. However, a classic mistake I see being made is where there is plenty of room on the image for text, yet the author creates an overlay instead. This causes the eye to gravitate towards the text and not look at the cover as a whole. A book cover is intended to sell your product, and you will only have a few seconds to draw a reader in before they flip to another book. You want the readers attention on the image first, not on the text (unless you are Stephen King and your name sells books).

These two book covers are great examples of the above mistake. There is so much room above the man in the first image to display the title, and here the overlay completely hides the image. The second one could have text split between the top and bottom of the image, and with the right color choices, would have stood out well on the darker image.

Mistake #2: Too Large of Font

It’s tempting to fall into this mistake when designing your own book cover, especially if you are picturing your title as a thumbnail image. The bigger the text, the more its readable, right? Unfortunately, this is not the case. Text that is too large or disjointed from the cover can require the eye to read it one letter at a time, requiring more processing time to take in the image. Cover art is meant to encapsulate the entire mood of the book; the specific text is less relevant. Avoid the desire to fill up blank space and your final product will look more complete.

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I actually really like this cover, and separate from the oversized font, it has a lot going for it. However, if the font was smaller and closer together it would read more powerfully. Here is just feels like four different words and not a book title.

Mistake #3: Unreadable Text or Images

Some authors try to get fancy with text placement or typography choices, and this ends up look amateurish and difficult to read. If the eye needs to sit on an image or text too long to decipher what it says, it will move on. You want to make sure you are answering the following questions on your book cover: What is this book about? What genre does it fall into? Am I the target audience? What’s it called? If your cover can’t do that is 5 seconds, you need to go back to the drawing board.

The title of the first cover is difficult to read, the typography choice, color and placement all lead to a poor design. On the second design, I have to really think about what the image is supposed to be and I am still not sure. Is that a snake in front of a pyramid?

Mistake #4: Subtitle Placement

Oh the awkward subtitle. First of all, I rarely see subtitles at all on professionally published books. So, if you are considering adding a subtitle, rethink that idea all together. If you must have it on your cover, it should be placed less conspicuously than the main title. The subtitle should be something you have to seek out to read. The main things our brain should take in first are the image(s), and the title. The rest will come secondary if we like the cover enough to stay.

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Oh and that colon is the worst.

Mistake #5: Ignoring Genre

Self-published authors are so worried they are one of many fish in the sea they have an innate desire to try to stand out. Unfortunately, this isn’t what readers want. If I am a reader looking for a erotic romance novel with vampires, then I am going to scroll through listings and descriptions until I find what I’m looking for. Being unqiue doesn’t make a book stand out, instead, it confuses readers. And confused readers don’t by. You can intrigue your audience while still being obvious about what your book is about and what genre it fits into. Before you look at designing your own cover, look at comparable books in the genre. Make sure your cover is fits in with similar well-known books so your book can find its audience.

The first cover gives me no indication of what the book is about. Reading the description, the book sounds very interesting. It’s about a woman who inherits tickets to a cruise when a family member passes away. But it’s not just any cruise. Reservations were set years in advanced to sail to the Southern Hemisphere to see Halley’s Comet. Sounds very interesting. For the second cover, I would say this cover fits into the bio/memoir genre. Maybe. It appears to be an actual photo taken that has some significance on the story. However, this is a paranormal novel and nothing about the cover says novel or paranormal. Yes, the shack COULD be scary, but really it just looks sad.

Mistake #6: Hand-Drawn Images

These images scream self-published. Unless you wrote an illustrated children’s book, you should not have anything hand-drawn on the cover. If you are set on selecting something that is illustrated, there are hundreds of thousands of inexpensive stock illustrated images on iStock or Shutterstock to chose from, and they have been inspected for quality control.

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This cover just looks incomplete.

Mistake #7: Word Art Typography

The best typography for book cover design is to stick with simplicity. The text should blend into the cover not stand out from it. Avoid adding anything to the text that isn’t completely necessary to make it readable (i.e. shadows, titled text, or fancy coloring).

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The shadow/outline makes the text look cheap, and the tilt has me confused on what it what.

The best advice I can give to someone insistent on designing their own book cover is this: Look through Amazon at 100 covers for books similar to yours. Find a quality stock image that encompasses the mood of your story, and keep the text simple and similar to your genre. When in doubt, hire a designer or buy a Pre-made eBook Cover. There is a large selection on thousands of book covers on the web starting at around $40, and it will be one of the best investments you can make in your work.


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Kari Anders is a book cover designer who works mostly with self-published authors and small publishing houses. She worked in freelance design for six years before attending graduate school, and now teaches design and runs freeebookcovers.com. All of Kari’s covers are designed as CreateSpace Wraps for only $75, with the eBook version included for free. Her site specializes in Pre-Made Book Covers, but she also does interior design and custom covers.