Welcome to my blog!

This is my personal blog. I blog about writing and social media a lot because - well, that's what I do. But sometimes I get a little more personal, too. Comments are welcome! Say hi if you're reading!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

30 Stories in 30 Days and Blogging It All



Ok, so one of the things that terrifies my most in life is challenges.  I suck at them.  I get behind where I think I should be and instead of fighting to get back in gear I give up.  It's why I didn't even bother trying Nanowrimo in 2014.

But I'm going to do it again. I am a sucker.

The challenge (posed by someone in a private membership group I am in) is to write and publish 30 short stories in 30 days.  They have to be a minimum of 3000 words each (because that is what Amazon Kindle tends to prefer).  Other than that, the only rule is write daily and publish.

I know I am capable of 3000 words a day.  That's an hour and a half of writing, roughly.  Add a half hour for getting it up on Kindle, making cover (I'm going to try to make a bunch ahead of time) and maybe two hours of work.  Ya, I'm busy with my writing sites and working part time and stuff like that.  But I can do this. I know I can.

The Stories


I'm going to be working on two series of short stories.  One will be under a pen name that will not be made public so I'll simply refer to it as "The Other Series".

One is going to be my first set of published work that I am public with and under my own name.  Well, a version of my own name.  I'm writing under Dani Gibbings - Dani is the name that I was known as by everyone who knew me before I moved away from my hometown and people started calling me Danielle and I kept using that professionally. Lots of people do still call me Dani though.  Gibbings is my maiden name.

The series written as Dani Gibbings is a sweet romance series.  I'm not going to say too much more about it but I have a site set up under that pen name so if you want to keep up with the stories (they'll be published under Kindle Unlimited so if you want to read them get yourself a Kindle Unlimited account to read the for free. Otherwise, they'll be 99 cents each) go to DaniGibbings.com and I'd suggest signing up for the email list. The series is called The Red Dress series and it is a modern day fairytale/sweet romance (no sex, no swearing).

Accountability


I'm going to update here each day about my progress, books published, and words written.  Kind of like what Dean Wesley does with his Writing in Public series. I think it will be an excellent tool for myself to have something to look back on and hopefully, some of my readers will be interested in seeing what happens and will be encouraged to step it up and challenge themselves.

Planning


I am doing a little bit of planning ahead.  I'm outlining each story - loosely, but I need to have at least an idea of what I'm going to be writing about for the day. When I don't have a clue, I get scared and don't write.  I may not follow that outline exactly (sometimes the characters tell me that I was wrong about what I expected and they take off in a different direction all on their own.  Honestly, this happens), but at least it will be there.

I've got the cover template set up for The Other Series already.  As it follows five characters over time it makes sense that the covers will all be the same but with a few modifications. That means I can get them all ready within a short period of time.

The Red Dress series will have three basic covers, each used 5 times, with modifications.  So, once I decide on what pictures to use an set up the basic font and stuff, they will not take too much time to get ready for publishing either.


So, that's it.  I'm scared shitless.  But determined.  I haven't even told my husband yet. Better tell him before he reads this post! LOL

Questions?  Ask in the comments. :)

Saturday, March 7, 2015

6 Things That May Be Stopping You from Being a Successful Writer

All of her life, she dreamed of being a writer.  When she was a young teenager, she wrote stories of love and romance.  She wrote hundreds of poems.  She wrote in  her diary every night, even when there wasn't anything exciting to write about.  She read every book that crossed her path and fell in love with the characters. Then she grew up and people told her she should pick a career where should could have a stable life.  "Writing is not stable," they would say to her.  "Be a teacher or a business woman." So she did.  And she had less and less time for writing stories, poetry, and even for reading.  But she still dreamed of being a writer and it broke her heart that she wasn't doing what she really wanted to do.


Does this sound familiar at all?  It happens to the best of us.  The world tells us that we can't possibly be successful as a writer.  So very few are.

But they lied.  There are lots of people today that are finding success as writers. They are even supporting themselves on the money that they make from writing.  You might not know their names because they are either not very famous or they use pen names but they are out there.  They are sitting next to you on the bus and in the next cubicle at your job and watching their children at the park.  They are people just like you and me.  And if they can do it, so can you.

So, what things do they do that you don't?  Every writer is different but the majority of writers have some things in common.  If they did these things, they likely wouldn't be as successful as they are.

#1 Waiting for the muse


Do you wait for inspiration to hit you?  Are you waiting for your muse to come along and hit you upside the head with fabulous ideas?  If you are, that likely means that you aren't writing very much.  Muses are a myth.  The best writers will tell you that they don't have one. They write until the good ideas come.  They throw out what doesn't work.  And they aren't afraid to ditch big blocks of text in favor of the stuff that really works. It all leads to the ultimate goal - writing something you can be proud to publish.

#2 Giving up reading time


Writers read. Why?  It's a teaching tool. The more your read, the more you understand how great books are created.  You learn how to plot.  You learn how to create great characters.  You learn how to build dialogue that works.  Read as often as you can. Read the kind of books you love. Read the kind of books you want to write. By reading often, you will improve your writing.  It's part of the job.

#3 They focus on traditional publishing


For some people, getting an agent and getting your book published by a traditional publisher us the answer.  It worked for J. K. Rowling (I just watched the Lifetime movie of her life and it was fabulous!).  But it doesn't work for everyone. Consider self-publishing through Amazon.  I now know many people that are finding success by self-publishing through Amazon and many of them are hitting the New York Times Bestsellers list.  Many of them are not but they are still making good money with their book sales. You can even publish print copies of your books through CreateSpace and get them in libraries.

About a year ago I joined a membership program called Kindling and it changed the way I looked at things.  Besides being filled with more information that you could possibly dream was out there on self-publishing, it is also filled with people that are actually doing it and serve as a great reminder that self-publishing is a viable option.  I've watched people go from $0 to $10,000 a month in 6 months!
Check it out here if you like and feel free to ask questions in the comments if you have them.

#4 They strive for perfection


No one is perfect.  I'm not telling you to just slap something together and publish it but once you've written and edited and maybe had someone else edit it, get it out there and get ready for feedback from readers (which could just come by the way of a lack of sales - be prepared for that).  Do your best but don't hang on to that manuscript for years for fear of it not being perfect.

#5 They have no clue what their audience wants


What genre do you write in?  Don't know? Well, it is time to think about that. You need to know what genre you write in so that you can figure out who your audience is. Find a few books that are similar to what you are writing.  What genres are they classified in?  Now look at their reviews. What are people saying that they like about their books. What other books have those reviewers read?  How about those book covers?  Notice anything common in the books in those genres? Covers mean something. What are people complaining about?  That will tell you a lot about who the audience is and what they do and don't like.

#6 They treat writing like a hobby


Hobbies do make money sometimes but most of the time it is something that people do for fun. If you're just looking for a hobby that's fine, but be aware that you'll likely never make much money from it. If you want to make writing your sole source of income, if you want to be able to just write and not have to worry about the day job, you need to treat writing like a business.  You need to schedule time to write, do research, learn about your craft.  If you don't you might find that it takes 10 years to write that novel.  Why should it take that long.

The great majority of people have ways they can block out time in their lives. I have one writer friend who has a busy life being a mom of young children and working a job.  She takes care of the household, does all the cooking, and chauffeurs her children around to various lessons and events. How on  earth does she find time to write?  One thing she does is she makes use of the tools that she has.  She has an iPhone and it goes with her everywhere. When she's waiting in line or at a doctor's office, she whips out her phone and writes a few well thought out lines (or maybe not so well thought out but they are there!).  When her children are having fun kicking the soccer ball around the field at practice, other moms might think she's on social media but she's really writing her novel.

Other people, get up earlier than everyone else in the house or stay up later.  They might have a netbook on their kitchen counter and write a couple paragraphs while the beef is simmering. They might give up watching television or even write while their children are watching a movie.  The bottom line is that the find time. Time is there if you look for it!

Time to Wrap It Up


I could go on but here's the takeaway:

If you want to be a writer, be a writer.  Write daily, read good books, and find a way to get your words out to the world.  If you are determined, nothing can stop you.  If you make excuses - those excuses will build up into a big wall that you won't get around.

Write.  Right now.  Get off the Internet, turn off your phone, and write something, even if it is only a sentence.  Write. Because that is what writers do!

Interesting...