Thursday, February 4, 2016

Connecting with Readers through Video

**Warning-this is a post full of questions….
and hopefully answers.

Can we talk video clips? You know, the ones that circulate Facebook and YouTube that make you laugh, cry, and shout out in anger? Yeah, those ones.

Do you like them or hate them?

Did you know that it is predicted that videos will be THE medium that people share in 2016 and
pictures will go by the wayside? Can you imagine your feed filled with only videos?
What does this mean for authors and readers?

It means readers are going to reap the benefit. 

You readers are going to get to see your favorite author doing all kinds of things that otherwise you’d never see or hear. Stuff like what they do in a typical day, what they love, what inspired them to set a book in a particular place, why they chose that particular character, their triumphs, their failures, and possibly even watch their process for brainstorming a book. The possibilities are endless. An author could even read a snippet of a book or a whole chapter to you. Author interviews will never be the same.

There are benefits to the author as well. You will be able to reach your audience in a very personal way if you so choose. It doesn’t have to be complex or even well thought out. Just turn on the camera and talk to your readers for 30 seconds to two minutes. Short and sweet. Give your readers what you couldn’t through your books.

Here’s a link to my very first live video. It felt weird doing it, but it was fast and easy and well, ME. I have other cool videos on my YouTube channel (YouTube here) too that you can check out. Have fun.

Goodbye to the book trailer and hello real author.

Is this something that excites you or freaks you out as a reader or as an author? Why?

Cindy M. Hogan

Here are some ways you can stay in touch with me- Easy!

Catch my deals here- just click follow
My books! Amazon, iBooks, Nook, Kobo

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Writing Faster

by Donna K. Weaver

"They" say if you want to be a success at this writing gig that you need to write faster, get more stuff out there, take on more projects and get them done on time. And, of course, produce a quality product.

No pressure there.

I, personally, haven't found that to be particularly easy either. I'm trying though. I doubt I'll ever be a super producer, but I hope to improve the process.

Here are some suggestions:
  1. Write every day. Set an attainable goal for a word count. Stretch yourself to attain it.
  2. Think your stories through when you're not writing. While I'm totally a pantser, I do like to know where the story's generally going. I frequently have scenes going on through my mind long before I write them.
  3. If you're an outliner, your outlining counts toward your word count. But at some point you have to stop planning and, you know, write the dang book.
  4. Time management - you really do have to prioritize your time. If your writing is as important to you as you say it is, choose well what you let get in the way of your writing time.
  5. Set practical, attainable goals.
What do you do to maximize your writing time?

Friday, January 22, 2016

How to be a Better Writer

Just get out there!
While reading an article in Writers Digest about how to be a better writer, I had an Ah, Ha! moment.

Though I had read most of these tips before, in one place or another, I read them this time with new eyes. She talked about how writers are generally a rule loving people. If you are laughing now while shaking your head, saying not me, remember, I said generally. :) We follow the rules, don't cut lines, sneak into movies and certainly don't haggle over baggage fees. All this is well and good but can result in our writing being a bit stale. You need experience to put into your stories to give them life. You may never put in the exact story of the time you jumped a neighbors fence to skinny dip, but the emotions from that experience should lend authenticity to a similar event in a story.

The article included a quote by William Faulkner, "A writer needs three things--experience, observation, and imagination-- any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others."

To become great you must get out of your comfort zone, be brave, risky, and curious. This primes your creative pump and reap the rewards of a well spent life--and well written manuscript.

Here the steps I liked best:

1.  Know thyself.
 What do you fear most? What scared you as a child, or teenager? What makes you laugh every time, with out fail? What are you most passionate about?
Take out a notebook, download 101 questions and write them out, you may surprise yourself even.

2.  Say yes to opportunity.
Make a goal to automatically say yes to all the possible things in your life.

My goal this year is to say yes to all physically active invitations I receive throughout the year.
Come swimming? --yup.
Hike Timpanogos? --For sure!
So on a walk around the neighborhood? -- I'd love to.

It gets easier each time I agree, and the experiences I have because I said yes are mine for story fodder! :)
Your goals will be different than mine, join a critique group, anthology, or craft group. Run a marathon or learn photography or sewing--just go for it!

3.  Go backstage.
Literally or figuratively--both are great. Talk to the actors after a play, talk to police officers about what they see each day.

There's a "backstage" everywhere you look, the grocery store, library, bank, teachers, artists, mail carriers. Go out and expand your knowledge first hand.

4.  Do something that makes your palms sweat.
Try public speaking, playing an instrument in public, or bungee jumping. Just be sure to record how you felt before and after the so your writing can feel true to life.

5.  Eavesdrop.
and after This one can be considered rude--but stick with me for a minute.

A few years back I met up at a popular bakery on a Friday night to get some words written during NaNoWriMo. As our own talked died down, everyone falling into a writing groove, the tables around us started to fill up with teens, college students on dates and mom/dads out with out the kids. Can I just tell y'all, some of those conversations still crack me up! The dates were by far the best, and I do admit we may have worked parts into our stories.

Go places to people watch--airport, park, mall, it doesn't matter. You see and hear things that will crack you up, make you cry or leave you wondering if you heard that right, because surely, you must have misheard.

Just write it down.

I'll leave you with the last words from the article:

Busting out of your comfort zone to seek out unique experiences will not only make you a more complete person and bring authenticity to your writing, it will suggest new ideas and new work. If you extend yourself, you’ll have an advantage over the couch potatoes and Web addicts.
I invite you to share my current motto: Impulse control is overrated.

What steps did you like best? Share in the comments!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Loving to Learn

Nurturing Professional Growth

I thought I'd share a few of the blogs that I follow, other than this one, and that I always get something good from the posts for improving my writing craft or profession. Here they are in no particular order. Click over and check these out.

Which blogs/websites do you go to for learning?

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Book Report . . . My Favorite Friend

Maybe I'm horribly behind the times and you already know about this, but I must share a new-to-me tool that has saved me a ton of time.

If you're a self-published author and you're trying to figure out how to read Amazon's sales reports, you really need to sign up for Book Report. Especially if you're on Kindle Unlimited and you're trying to figure out those pages read.

Book Report will pull up all your data and tell you within seconds how much money you've made so far that day and how much for the month. It shows you on a pie chart which of your books are selling the best that day, and it also shows you on a line chart how your sales today compare with your sales for the rest of the month. And it's only $10 a month.

First, go to You can try it for two weeks to see if you like it, and they won't even take a credit card for the trial period. Sign up and bookmark the site. Then go into your KDP sales chart as always, click on the bookmark, and Book Report will pull up your information. Poof! There you are.

You will need to go into the settings tab on Book Report and give them a figure for pages read. It's been fluctuating between .0047 and .0049 cents per page, so I keep mine set at .048 just to give me an average. That's the only thing you need to adjust - it will pull all the rest of your prices, etc. from Amazon and calculate your royalties from there.

There you have it - one of the coolest gizmos ever. And they didn't even pay me to say it!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

10 New Author Marketing Must-dos Before Publishing

Salt Lake Comic Con 2015
Wouldn't it be great if we could use a little HOCUS POCUS to sell our books like crazy? 
I get emails all the time giving advice to new and seasoned authors alike. When I like what I see, I take notes or keep the articles. I chose some things from those emails and posts and added my own 
2 cents to come up with this list. 

This post is to all those newbie authors out there and even the ones who got off on the wrong foot. Already published a book? That's okay, step back and follow these 10 steps to ensure 
your next release is a good one.

  1. Keywords– Brainstorm keywords for your book. what is your book about? Create a list of topics, ideas, similar authors, etc that fit your book. Use these keywords on the various sales channels, in your book’s description, on your blog, and in ads.
  2. Beta-readers – Find people willing to read and give honest feedback on your book. This not only creates early buzz for your book, but also gives you initial reviews to post once the book is published. Ask for these beta-readers on your social networks and through your newsletter.
  3. Hashtags  –what is your genre? What are your keywords? Use Twitter’s search functions and and to find hash tags that are used by readers of books like yours. This will not only help you to find readers to follow but also give you a good idea of the hashtags you should use when promoting your books on Twitter.
  4. Facebook groups and pages – Using the keyword list you brainstormed, find Facebook pages and Facebook groups that you can contribute to with what you know and questions you might have. Don't be there only to promote your book. The more people interact with you the more likely they are to read your book.
  5. Google+ communities  – Google Plus has a ton of communities that have to do with your keywords. Search them and then join the communities that are most active and be active yourself. Remember, you are not there to tell them to buy your book all the time. 
  6. Forums Find forums that are dedicated to your genre. If you write YA books, then go to the forums that cater to those who read YA books. Your keywords can also help you find forums that fit what your write. Be sure to link to your author website if it is allowed.
  7. Schedule – Have a plan. Don't just publish when you are finished with the book. You need time to set up all your launch promotions and get all your ducks in a row before you put your book out there. You want buzz that will put you in hot new release categories on book selling sites for as long as possible-you can't do that if you just throw it up.
  8. FB party – Set up a Facebook party and start inviting people. The forums, communities, and groups you became a part of will be invaluable for this. Send an invite (if allowed in that group) once, maybe twice, but that is all. You could even do a review blog tour that links to the party to get more people to come. Use keywords to find blogs to highlight it or hire someone to do the tour. Be active in the party even after the party is over.
  9. Who are your fans and where do they hang out? – You will want to figure out who would love to read your book. Think about your keywords and genre as you brainstorm. Find out where those people hang out online. Just like the forums and blogs-don't spam them with posts to purchase. Become a part of the groups and sales will come naturally.
  10. Cross-promotion  – Find authors that have books similar to yours (genre and content) and connect with them. Form a group and plan and hold promotions together. You will all benefit.
Need cozy read? Enjoy the Castle Collection. Snuggle up. You're going to love it. 
Only .99 cents or free with Kindle Unlimited

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Making Time This Time of Year

by Donna K. Weaver

This is a crazy time. 
So many obligations. 
So many distractions. 
So many opportunities to spend time with loved ones.
While your mind swirls with story scenes
and imagines new characters and conversations,
don't begrudge your commitments
to family and friends.

the time you give
to the people most important to you.
Live in these real-life moments.

It's not only good for you,
it's good for your writing.

Greetings of the Season to you all!