Thursday, October 14, 2010

Writing and More Writing with Ami Blackwelder

Writing, and More Writing…

I grew up in Florida, but at twenty-six decided to travel and teach around the world. Living overseas for eight years and teaching in countries like Korea, China, and Thailand, I fell in love with the east. How can you not?

I began writing creative stories in my Elementary years and continued with short stories and poetry into my university years; however, the novel bug did not hit me until thirty-three. Yep, I am a newbie. Yet, this has not stopped my insatiable appetite to write novels. Once wetted with my first novel, The Gate of Lake Forest, inspired in Thailand, I have not been able to stop.

There is something glorious about designing your own world and character and something delicious about spending time in that world, getting to know the place and people who live there with you -and only you, until you share the story;)

I have to admit writing is my addiction. Some people do drugs, some alcohol, and some sugar. But for me, I could not live without writing. I love the craft and like breathing, fell I would die without the opportunity to perform this craft.

I am an eclectic writer, dabbing in Fantasy, Paranormal, Science Fiction, Romance, History, and even Spirituality and non-fiction. That is just the way my mind works. I am all over the place, into everything. Love to know and discover new things. Curiosity killed the cat and sometimes I feel I am close, but hopefully I will punch out all the novels in my head before that happens.

I love nature and wildlife and those themes remain strong elements to my stories. I research everything I write. Even with fiction, I want to know where and what, how and when…and researching only makes the writing and story stronger. I want my reader to feel the events as real as I do!

When I succeed, prose can sounds like poetry (and for some critics, too descriptive), but I love details. Life is in the details. I won't change my style for anyone, and you will either love the novels or hate 'em. But when the story is finished, there is no greater feeling in the world for me, then knowing my vision will be shared with someone else soon.

I am finishing my The Hunted of 2060 saga which will be five parts and then write the last novel to the Guardians of the Gate story, but then I will dive into more worlds and more characters, already swirling about in my head. Writer's block, no -I suffer from writer's flux. Too many ideas;)

I hope you enjoy my novels and check out my non-fiction books on spirituality while you are three.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Changing Words in a Story

How many of us have read a book and every other word repeats itself. This is one of my pet peeves.
As a writer it can sometimes be intimidating to try and pull words out of the air to try and say what we mean. I have a very large dictonary. I use it all the time. My Computer also has a dictionary on it as well. Use it. Make your reader learn new words. Don't be afraid to use new words that you didn't know before. Take for instance cherry red lipstick. Anyone can say that sentence - but as a writer it is up to you to do more than that. You want your reader to see, taste, feel, smell,and yes even hear the cherry red lipstick.
Instead of saying she wore cherry red lipstick say, "I couldn't take my eyes from her mouth. Her lips were made even more full, by the lucious, blood red, lips. I wanted to taste them. I knew they would taste like the tart red of cherries ripe off the tree. My mouth watered, my eyes stared and I heard nothing but her voice as it purred through those lips."
This not only does away with the bland statement- it puts the reader in front of the woman. It makes the reader go through all of the senses.
Yes, it takes time but it is well worth the time. Stand out from the herd, put people in your stories.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Writing Poetry By Patrica Neely- Dorsey, Published Poet

I have been told many times, by people in the industry that a book of poetry is a very “hard sell" and is so often seen as the step-child .
I didn’t really know what they meant until I started running up against brick walls in getting reviewers to even consider reviewing the book. So many people told me that they had “no poetry” policies in reviewing books. That was very surprising to me. Of course, I didn’t take no for a final answer and some of those same people who said that they did not review poetry eventually gave in and I received some glowing reviews from them. On top of that, self-published authors are , in many cases, given so little respect. I have been told, again, by reviewing sources that they did not do self-published books. I have been told by some venues that they didn’t have self-published authors on the roster for giving a book presentation. Of course, again, I didn’t take no as a final answer. My motto is always: If you can’t get in through the front door, go in through the window. Needless to say, some minds were changed and some policies were broken.

I always emphasize what I call Patricia’s P-Attitudes..1) Positivity- be positive, believe in yourself and your book, 2)Persistence-Be relentless. Never take “NO” as a final answer. Keep knocking. If you can’t get in through the door, go in through the window. 3)Perseverance-Never give up 4) Patience. .Hold on. Hold tight. Sometimes, the answer or outcome that you seek might take a minute ( days, weeks or months) but keep the faith. It will come.

I have found , that the real work of this business is not in the writing of the book but in the marketing and promoting. I think that for most writers, the writing is not hard because it is doing what they love to do. How does that saying go... “Do what you love to do as a vocation and you will never work a day in your life”. With a poetry book, a writer has to be extra diligent in promoting. People generally do not just decide to go into a bookstore and buy a book of poetry. It's usually not on their list when they go to select reading material.

People love to hear poetry and, perhaps , enjoy reading it when they run across it in a favorite magazine, but for them to go into a store specifically to purchase a book of poetry is rare. As a writer of a poetry book, it would be your job to help create that desire for what you offer. Help the reader to see how what you offer will enhance their lives in some way , strike an emotional cord or be of value to them. You must be able to relay some strong message or messages that the reader can really relate to. Poetry is all about that emotional draw. It must touch the reader deeply in some way. Before they can be touched , they have to open that book! your job is to find the way to lead them to what you know will be a rewarding experience.

Make lots of contacts and connections with people who do what you do or aspire to do. Ask lots of questions.. Do lots of research on the business side of it all. Join writers and book groups on the social networking sites. Shadow an author that you admire. Take note of their work (ie: how they market and promote their their book, what venues and events they attend.) Join a local writer's group for support and resources. Most importantly, believe in what you do. believe in what you uniquely have to share with the world.

A writer’s work, especially published work is like his/her child. A writer has a very personal attachment to his/her “baby” and can sometimes be very sensitive about that “baby”. I think that most writers would love to stamp a little Handle With Care message on all of their books. But, you MUST learn how to not wear your heart on your sleeve.

You must develop a tough skin to be able to handle any harsh reviews of negative feedback. .Know that everyone will not necessarily like what you write or like your style of writing but someone will absolutely love it. Appreciate and nurture your own unique style and “gift”.

Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia-A Life in Poems
" a celebration of the south and things southern"
"Meet Mississippi Through Poetry, Prose and The Written Word"

Friday, October 1, 2010

Writing 101 - You've Written Your Book, Now What?

You've Written Your Book Now What?

Now that you have written the perfect book. Now what? How do you as an independent author get it in book form, get in front of the readers and market it?  Writing it was the easy part. Now comes the part where a writer becomes an author. This is the part that separates the hard core writers from those who thought they would write a book and it would sell thousands of copies simply because they wrote it. Not happening. There are as many writers and authors out there as there are ideas. The way to get noticed is to make yourself stand out of the herd. To let the masses know that you have something special. And let me tell you ­ even if you happen to be lucky enough to get a contract with a traditional publisher- you are still expected to market your book. They will not do it for you. In fact if you sign a contract for say 50,000.00- you have to sell that much in books the first year or else you have to pay it all back to the publisher.

If you think "I will just go out and get an agent." Think again. More manuscripts lay unopened on someone's in box, than get read. It is not that they may not be interested it is just they get thousands a day from hopeful writers wanting to get published by a well known publisher. Thinking they will get on the best seller list
and make a fortune.

The first thing each of you must remember "As a writer/author we don't do it to become famous, we do it for the sheer love of writing." If you can wrap yourself around that statement and understand it ­ things will be much smoother in the shark infested waters of the literary world.

That being said, there are things you can do that work. I have run the gamut in this industry. I have had to learn most of it on my own how to get read. Some things have worked and some haven't. I along with all of the other indie authors who I network with have learned how to make the internet work for us. In fact
the traditional houses now are watching us to see what we do. They have been very slow to use the net because they have distribution, we don't. But we don't have to worry about a lot of inventory.

Marketing 101

So let's take a minute and look at Marketing 101.It is called the 80/20 rule. The 80/20 rule was set up years ago when people went door to door. The idea was if you did cold calls to 80 doors you would get 20 sales. That principle still applies.  That is why exposure is key. Here are several things you need to do and do them
religiously. Just like your writing.

First build you a facebook page and add friends all over the place. Get set up on twitter, and myspace. Next- go to all the free websites and build pages. Link to other authors like myself who have been out there a while. IF you google my name you will see I am all over the net. I have stranger contacting me about marketing now.

The important things you want to put on these pages are your bio, your book covers, synopsis, reviews, pictures of your appearances, places to buy your book,  etc. You first have to market yourself before you market your book. You have to let people know that you have something special. That you are something special.  I have known authors who wrote very bad books, but they sold simply because they marketed themselves first. You can't market your product until you first market yourself.

Things you don't want to put on your site are pictures of your kids, pets,  vacations, husbands. The reason, this is your business. You don't want folks taking time to view all that when they need to be looking at you and your books.

Face book is different, you have latitude there- also you have latitude on myspace. But on my space you want it to be clean and sharp. The other sites like word press, blog spot, etc you want it to be strictly business. Just on my space alone I have four sites one site for each of my books plus my site with my picture and my name. I also keep them on the top friends of each site.

Keep these sites updated, yes it takes time, but believe me it is well worth it.  When someone googles your name you want it to jump out at them. You want to be so accessible that a potential reader has no excuse not to buy your book.

Do book reviews for other authors, which gets your name out there. Post them on Amazon, your sites, etc. That is another avenue to get noticed. BK Walker Books is accepting inquiries to join our review team.

You also want your book to not only be in print form you want it available in e-book ­ kindle and any other form that is out there. That is the reason I use Lulu.

My books can be down loaded in ebook form and I use Amazon Kindle for the kindle book which is growing. Two of my books are on the best seller list on Kindle.

This also gives you another avenue of royalties.

You can never do too much marketing. This is one of those times where more is better. One of the little tricks I use is I carry business cards with me all the time. I also have post cards with pictures of my books on them. When I give out my business cards I also give out the post cards.

Oh yes, never be afraid to give out a card. I gave one out at Target one time when I saw a lady looking for a good book. I don't know if she looked me up or not , but I gave her the card. You can never over market yourself.

In conclusion, let me go back and give you the steps again.

1. Know your story, that is, if you are not proficient in the subject matter research it. Know your place, again if it is not local and you are not sure of the things that are conducive to that place research it. Make it creditable.

2. When writing non- fiction always research your subject, make good notes, give credit for resources, and put them in the book, get permission for names or use fake ones. Note this in your book with an asterisk.

3. Don't try to put everything in your book from your research, and tell a story,  not a dissertation

4. You as a writer are unique- the way you write is part of your uniqueness.  There is no wrong way or write way to put a book together. It is what is comfortable to you. That is style, time, etc. You set the tone.

5. Trust someone to proof your book, trust me you will be glad you did.

6. Know that before you can market your book, you have to market yourself. So believe in who you are, what you are and what you do.

7. Network with like minds, with other authors

8. Get reviews, write reviews, get on blog talk radio, get advertising stuff- ie cards, postcards, banners.

9. Join a writers association ­ I belong to Florida Writer's Association

10. If you have never spoken in front of a crowd, now is the time to learn-

11. Understand you may never be on the bestseller list, you may never get a movie made, and you may never sell hundreds of thousands of books so write because you love it. Leave it behind for those who love you and who you love.

12. Last But Not Least- Pay it forward. When someone asks you how you did it share the information- don't be afraid to help another writer- it will come back to you three times over.

I have included some handouts including this speech for you to carry home with you so you can use it as a reference, line the cage of your bird or use it for the dog's entertainment. But aside from that- I hope you will keep it close and refer to it time and time again. I have also included my card which has my email,phone
numbers and book store on it. Feel free to contact me anytime. I am here to help.

Lastly, I want to say thank you for taking the time to come and join me here today and maybe I have given you some tools to work with, a path to travel and knowledge which will become wisdom.

Remember, as writers we are odd minded and like minded and we all have a story in us.

Thank you.

If you would like this entire workshop emailed to you,  please contact Yvonne or BK with your email address.  If you have any questions,  please leave them in the comment section. :)