Life is Loving Things, Hating Things

I love men clean-cut & clean-shaven;
I hate man-buns & gauges.
(Less hair, more flesh, please.)

I love older men,
not old men (in “that way”).

I love mint-green MINI Coopers;
I hate smart cars.
(They look dumb.)

I love my womanly curves;
I hate that one of those curves isn’t concave.

I love epidurals;
I hate contractions.
(Except when I’m trying to reduce my word count.)

I love the Bible;
I hate some of the things in it.
(God as Bad Cop, Jesus, Good Cop.)

I love humanism;
I hate feminism.
(But femininity rules.)

I’d love to write for Harlequin;
I hate reading Harlequin romances.
(But such is called research.)

I love linguistics,
I hate statistics.
(One is a carton of pretty lies,
the other can be a pack of damn lies.)

I love it when people make an educated argument;
I hate it when they copy-and-paste.

I love conducting interviews;
I hate cold quoting.
(I am not a “Woman on the Street” type.)

I love Valentine’s Day now that I’m married;
I hated it when I was single.
(Still think it’s stupid, only I get stuff now.)

I hate things about this life,
but I love my life,
& live without regrets,
for to change the smallest thing
might have changed everything.

Book Review: The Hypnotist’s Love Story

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This was a fun read, but a little different than I was expecting.  It was set in Australia, which interested me, but I was expecting a Hitchcockian thriller (I should’ve known better, from the cover design), but what I got was a stalking story shadowing an unconventional love story (meaning the “hero,” as they would call him in Harlequin romance novels, is quite the dullard).

Though it was what one might label a beach read (which is rarely a compliment), the characterization was phenomenal.  Even the supporting characters all had personalities that set them apart from what I would call stock characters.  It was light on plot, but character has always trumped plot for me, for I fall in love with characters, not stories, but for the characters involved in them.  (Hence, why I read The DaVinci Code only once.)

Though the hypnotist was meant to be the main character, she competed with the stalking character, whom the author made sympathetic, even though I didn’t approve of her actions.  However, the dueling stories didn’t hurt the book, because both women’s stories were compelling (which is no easy thing to do).

I did learn a little about hypnotherapy, but I wasn’t bogged down with details about it.

I hope the author will refrain, in future books, from adding “their heads,” or “their hands,” when referring to someone nodding or clapping.  Those redundancies drive me crazy, but other than that, it was nicely written.  The pacing was spot-on, for I didn’t skip through one bit of it, and the mini lead-ins to each chapter were a nice touch.

What I got from this book is that relationships are complicated, and how important it is to explore them further to make them work.  I also got that sometimes letting go of a person doesn’t always mean letting go of just that person, but also their family, which is why it’s important to have relationships that aren’t based on our relationships with our significant others–people who will still be your friends, even if the relationship ends.

This book had a breezy feel to it, even though it tackled some heavy topics.  It was a nice balance, with occasional touches of humor.  I will definitely read more of Ms. Moriarty’s books.

12 Ways to Build Your Writer’s Platform

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Being a writer is a full-time job (though most of us only work at it part-time because we have paying jobs).  It’s been said that we should spend 80% of the time (normally spent writing) engaging others, and the other 20% creating content.  I confess I am backwards in this, because I never feel like I get enough writing done as it is; it is also quite easy to spend hours online, posting, tweeting, retweeting, commenting, reviewing, etc., and feeling like I get very little response back, besides a “follow” or a “like”.  (Retweets are what I am after.)  And often, I have discovered that one only follows me because they want a follow back, so never follow someone back unless their page interests you.  (“Ain’t nobody got time for that!”)

So I was searching for sample “killer” query letters because I’ve had a novel I tailor-wrote for Harlequin romance (never heard back, even though I’ve heard they read every submission).  I believe in the project, so I went to http://agentquery.com/ to pitch it to other publishers.  Though I already had a query letter prepared, I wanted to make sure it was the best it could be; I started doing my research, and found two great posts that helped me with that:

The Complete Guide to Query Letters That Get Manuscript Requests

http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/successful-queries

However, I realized that I needed to reevaluate my writer’s platform.  What inspired me to start a blog in the first place was an article I read in “The Writer’s Digest” more than two years ago about this very thing.  Only within the last several months have I stepped it up by joining Twitter, which I think is a must for any writer.  I’ve started promoting myself on there by having every WordPress blog post immediately publish to my Twitter page (in addition to my Facebook account, and once in a blood moon, LinkedIn); I strive to make all my tweets entertaining, rather than just self-promoting, which gets boring (author Amanda Patterson tweets great stuff).  I will never spam people by private messaging them on Twitter, asking for them to download my e-book, etc.–that is what your newsfeed is for, and yes, sometimes things get lost in the virtual shuffle, and so I believe it is perfectly acceptable to retweet such a request no more than twice a week (the minimum number of times we should blog to be considered a serious blogger, according to most).

When I first started Twitter, I was tweeting snippets of poems, usually a screenshot, but didn’t add any hashtags (don’t do that; I add hashtags in the reply box).  I’d also read that every blog post should have an image (we’re such visual people), but I rarely use any stock photography.  I think most of it looks bad, cheap, and unoriginal (and the high-quality kind, like Shutterstock, is pricey).  Try to take your own pictures.  I, personally, do not believe we need images to make a post come to life.  That is what the headline is for.

I got a lot of great ideas on how to promote myself/build my writer’s platform, some of which I’m already using.  I revitalized my LinkedIn account by posting my college essays and publishing some of the scholarship essays I wrote (not the Zombie Apocalypse one, though; LinkedIn is supposed to be a professional site).

So I’m doing the social media blitz, even publishing the novelette (about an apostate Mormon missionary) that inspired my novel, “Because of Mindy Wiley” on goodreads.com (see:  https://www.goodreads.com/story/confirm_explicit/405523?chapter=0).

Here are some of the 12 ways of author promotion I found the most useful.

  1. Monetize.  I had never thought of repackaging old blog posts and selling them as an ebook, and I’m not sure why someone would buy something they can get for free, but it’s a thought.  If you’ve published a lot of poetry on your blog, this might be for you.
  2. Create a resource page.  Share your list of resources on social media and with your email list.  I do this on my Websites for Writers page:  https://sarahleastories.wordpress.com/websites-for-writers/
  3. Learn and use appropriate Twitter hashtags.  Here’s a great resource by Caitlin Muir at Author Media: http://www.authormedia.com/44-essential-twitter-hashtags-every-author-should-know/
  4. Set up your YouTube channel.  According to Robert Lee Brewer, the “poet laureate of Writer’s Digest”, poetry is almost always better when read aloud.  My brother wrote a melody to Edgar Allan Poe’s “Annabel Lee”, and I could just imagine adding some desolate beach scenes to the audio.
  5. Invest in yourself.  Find courses, books, conferences, and people that can aid in your learning and success.  I am taking a Creative Writing class at the college right now, and will be investing a little money into getting a short story critiqued through Writer’s Digest before self-publishing it on amazon.com.
  6. Pitch a guest post.  I’ve already pitched a motherhood/lifestyle article to the Huffington Post (no pay, but great exposure), and there are a few others I am considering.  The main thing for me is posting at least twice a week on my own blog.  If you do get published on a guest blog, you will want your reader to have something worthwhile to link to.
  7. Create some link love.  People love being mentioned or quoted online.   Take the time to email the author or blog owner and let them know they were mentioned in your article.   They might possibly share a link to your article with their followers.
  8. Be everywhere.  Or at least be wherever your ideal readers are. Consider incorporating one or more of these social media networks into your platform building strategy:  Goodreads, Wattpad, Amazon Author Central, Pinterest, and Google+.
  9. Set up a social media schedule. Schedule time for activity on the social media platforms you are active on.  I have found that just checking my notifications is enough Facebooking for the day (still working on making this an everyday reality); as for Twitter, set up a special list, just for writing, so you don’t miss valuable tweets (like calls for submissions) because someone else you follow loves to tweet (and retweet) a lot.
  10. Start commenting.  If you already have a blog, you know how difficult–and how rewarding–it is to get comments on your posts.  Take the time to add insights, ask questions, or provide feedback on other author blogs.  A reblog is always nice, too.
  11. Create your Facebook Author page.  I don’t believe I am quite ready for this.  I feel I need to wait till I get something published to justify an author page (I could be wrong), and that means getting paid cash for my work, not just getting published.
  12. Setup your professional website.  Having a .blogspot, .WordPress, or .Typepad in your domain name denotes amateur status.  Before the end of the year, this is my goal.  It doesn’t cost very much ($18/yr.), and if I can’t design it so it looks more professional, I will hire someone.  I am quite frugal, so it has been hard for me to come to the point of paying for something I can get for free.

Source:  http://www.yourwriterplatform.com/actions-to-build-writer-platform/

5-Minute Memoir to Writer’s Digest (former submission)

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The Writer’s Mind—A Literary Vitamix

I love blends. I don’t like pure cotton, because it shrinks. I don’t like plain chocolate–I like to have some nuts thrown in there (I don’t like pudding for the same reason, I like assorted flavors and textures). I love the new Coca Cola machines I see in fast food restaurants because I like Coca Cola and I like cherry, and I don’t want to have to choose.

I’m the same when it comes my writing, which makes it hard for me to pigeonhole whatever it is I’m working on (besides the broad category of novel, poem or short story). Me, I’m “V.C. Andrews meets Mormonism”, or “Fractured Fairy Tales” twisted with Biblical allegories. I even came up with a Shaggy God story told from a grown-up Alice (of Wonderland fame).

Blending genres starts off as an art (like cooking) and ends up being a science (like baking). You not only have to have the raw materials, you must make sure they’ll work together. If writing is painting with words, my palette is the Crayola 64-count.

What helps me most with novel writing is to make a full outline (and back story, though you must be careful with this—a reader is supposed to get to know the characters as they would a real person, a little bit at a time), and make sure something happens in each chapter. Each of my chapters is like a mini-short story, instead of just a continuation of the previous. That keeps me on track, and it’s also helpful if you want to have a cache of short stories on hand for contests (before the book is being considered by an agent).

Though it’s still a challenge to convert chapters of a book into stand-alone short stories, this way makes it easier.

If you have imagination, you can find the extraordinary in the ordinary. You won’t even need to look, because writers see what non-writers see. When I see an apple, I don’t just see a red, green or yellow (or candied) apple, I see Eve’s curiosity, the legend of William Tell, the story of Johnny Appleseed…

Sometimes just one word can be an inspiration. Think acrostic poetry.

Other times, a person, no matter how small, can be one of our greatest inspirations. Before my child was even born, I wrote her a nursery rhyme, which inspired me to write forty-nine more for a collection. Rather than putting my fifty eggs in one basket, I’ve been trying to publish them individually (while seeking a publisher who would consider publishing them as a book). That inspiration led to writing personalized nursery rhymes for my friends, who have been having babies.

Building up and then breaking down (whether it be books into chapters, or collections into individual short stories or poems), that’s what I do. You must be flexible that way. I’ve had novel chapters that make better short stories.

Like poetry, I used to think short stories were waste of time (at least commercially), but then I read an article where many big movies had been made from short stories. Even if no one else reads them, Hollywood does. Look what Tinseltown has done for Nicholas Sparks.

As a writer, I go through phases—I went through a Harlequin romance phase, then a creative nonfiction phase, and now I’m going through a poetry phase. I love having lots of different projects going on at once, which is ironic, as I can only read one book at a time.

Though many authors are known for one genre, I must stay versatile, or I get bored with my own writing, and if you’re bored writing it, “they” will be bored reading it.

http://www.writersdigest.com/submission-guidelines