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Authors: Want to be a Crowdfunding Superstar? Read this First!

 

Pubslush Crowdfunding Campaign

This is the image I used on Twitter header to promote

Pubslush Crowdfunding for Authors
(Pre-Campaign)  April 1-30, 2014

Do what you love, and the money will follow.

Follow your dreams they say!

We say: How do we do this, and still make a living?

Many authors, myself included, have limited funds when they begin writing their masterpieces. Money’s tight unless you’re independently wealthy or have a supporting spouse while following your dreams.

Crowdfunding can be a solution.

Yea, right! I hear you say. What chance do I have? I don’t know that many people.

Wasn’t there a guy who raised over $50,000 to make potato salad?

Yep. It was silly. People love silly, off-the-wall stuff. We could take a few lessons on creativity from this guy.

Okay, but I’m just an author. Not a marketing guru.

Click to Tweet: Can authors really raise funds to get their books published?

Yes!

Is it easy?

Nope.

Can it be worth the effort?

Big YES!

First Romance Novel

I’ve been plugging away on my first romance novel, “Everlasting Love,” for about a year. It’s finally in the process of being proofed and edited. Plans were to have it completed and published on the Amazon marketplace by Christmas. However, it’s taken quite a bit longer than expected. My husband had a stroke in November, and that little life detour ground writing to a halt–along with everything else.

I first considered posting the romance novel chapter by chapter on Wattpad. I wrote a blog post about that here.

The Oasis for Authors

Then, a friend mentioned Pubslush.com.

In case you haven’t heard, it’s a crowdfunding site for authors only.

So I did a little investigative work. I was shocked. Some of the most successful campaigns raised between $13,000–all the way up to $36,000. This is some serious money.

Self-publishing is the way to go if you want to retain complete control over your work. However, authors must also be serious spendthrifts. We hire proofreaders, editors, designers, not to mention promotion costs once it’s published–and pay out of our own pockets. Don’t forget ads, press releases, social media etc. The costs can add up quickly.

Crowdfunding (fundraising) could be the answer to your cash flow problem. Tweet this.

I’m going to lay out the steps to my own campaign to give other authors a helping hand. If you’re considering running a campaign, here’s a 1-2-3 plan that you can take and tweak to suit your own needs.

Something you might not want to hear?

I started working on the campaign long before it started. There’s a lot of prep behind the scenes. I’ll let you in on how I prepared.

Preparation Time

Every author crowdfunding on Pubslush has their own author/book page. You’ll need to set that up.

Here’s mine: Everlasting Love Romance Novel.

The campaign was set to begin on May 1, but I started the first of April. Some may spend more time, but this was my first experience.

To begin, I started with a planner. This keeps you organized and on track. Click here to get yours: Personal and FREE planner.

 
One Month Prior

April – Week 1

1)    Write a 250 word summary of my book. What’s it all about? Make it catchy. If you’re not sure how to do this, James Scott Bell gives us a great plan to write it in “Write from the Middle.” Get it here:

2)    Create a picture to depict my book. This is not a book cover. It’s a picture that should be pretty, eye-catching, and grab the reader’s attention.The picture you see at the top was my picture, but I added in all the other text to post on my Twitter banner page.

3)    Find 3 pics for the campaign page. Again, what’s your book about? Go back to Step 1. Find a picture that depicts your beginning, middle, and end. I have a DVD from Serif.com that has about 100,000 pictures. I picked a background and imported pictures of my hero and heroine using Laughingbird Logo Creator. I love this software. It allows anyone to become a graphic designer. Get your copy Here. There are several places that have free pictures, like: Dreamstime, StockFreeImages, or MorgueFile, to name a few.

4)    Contact a Possible Partner. I contacted NAA about rewards (My husband was struck with Wernickie’s Aphasia after the stroke), and I wanted to help spread the word. The National Aphasia Association (www.Aphasia.org) educates the public on this condition that afflicts1,000,000 Americans in the U.S. alone! I learned quite a bit from the site and wanted to help with a 10% donation after my campaign was over. I located the “Contact Us” on the site, sent a short e-mail about the book campaign, and simply asked if they wanted to jump on board with me. I only requested their help in spreading the word via social media. Once I got to the right contact, they were more than happy to help. They sent word out via their newsletter, twitter, Facebook, etc.)

Week 2

1)    Work on video or trailer. I wrote this down for Week 2, but didn’t actually get to it until a few days before the start of the campaign. I have a laptop with a webcam, so I used a small microphone plugged into my laptop, hit record, and taped and retaped numerous times. I had to actually let a few hours lapse between takes or my laptop would have gone through the window! I wanted to keep it short. It ended up at about one minute thirty seconds.

2)    Set up Pinterest board. I set up a Pinterest board for my campaign, and posted all the pics of the characters in my book, and the pics from the Pubslush site. Those pictures led people back to the campaign. Pinterest Board here.

Week 3

1)    Set up Author Q &A. You can set up as many questions as you like, but I wanted to keep it simple. I chose four questions: Why did you write the book? Who are your favorite authors? What will you do with the funds you raise? How will you know I found you through NAA?

2)    Blog Post. I wrote a post leading up to the campaign. You can see it here.

3)    Scoop. Scooped the blog post onto Scoop.it content curation platform to get the word out here.

Week 4

1)    Choose excerpt from book. Pick your best work from the book, and make sure it ends on a cliffhanger or stunner so people will want to read more!

2)    Posts on all social media sites to announce the upcoming campaign. I do mean ALL: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, About.me (spotlight), Linked in. Use only your active social networks.

3)    Paid FB/twitter ads? I began debating whether I wanted to use paid ads on Facebook or Twitter. I didn’t have much in the budget, so it had to be cheap!

Week 5

1)     Final Touches on campaign page (Tweaks to this and that to make it pop!)

2)    Compile list of friends to e-mail (I e-mailed about 100 friends that I knew wouldn’t get upset. I kindly asked them to spread the word for me. Hoping they’d contribute. *Wink, Wink*

3)    Spotlight on About.me page

4)    Compile rewards (bookmark, inspirational print, FL postcards)

5)    Length of Campaign. Do you want to run a 30 day or 60 day campaign?

Approval

Once all these things have been decided and the page is complete, then Pubslush will have to approve your page and your rewards. You can do everything on your own, but if you pay a mere $25, you will get some help from their amazing Author Coordinator, Sara Mendelson. She will have several chats with you to alleviate concerns and help you come up with some great rewards. Now, on to the campaign!

 Do you think you’d like to try crowdfunding to raise funds for your book? Why or why not?

Leave me a comment and let me know!

 

PenelopeBTR2tiny

Penelope Silvers is founder of PhilosBooks.com,
where Independent Authors are introduced to the World!
She is a freelance writer, publisher, and radio host of
Penelope’s Book Chat on Blog Talk Radio.

 

 

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Crowdfunding. Can it Work for Authors and their Books? Surprising Answer!

crowdfunding

Crowdfunding. Can It Work for Authors?

Crowdfunding.

What image does this word bring to mind?

A struggling musician who’s written a fantastic new song, but is too poor to cut a CD? Or maybe a talented artist with empty pockets who can’t paint their first portrait because they can’t afford the tube of paint? How about a family who lost their home because of a medical emergency and now can’t feed their kids? It could be all of these and more.

crowd·fund·ing
ˈkroudˌfəndiNG/
noun
noun: crowdfunding; noun: crowd-funding
  1. 1.
    the practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the Internet.
    “musicians, filmmakers, and artists have successfully raised funds and fostered awareness through crowdfunding”

Crowdfunding can also be a resource for authors. Didn’t know you could raise funds for a book? Well, let me be your white mouse in this lab experiment.

 

Taking the Plunge

May 1, 2014. I’m taking the plunge.

I’m dipping my toe in and diving headfirst into the unknown waters of fundraising for my new book. I’m sure a lot of people will be scratching their heads at this point and asking:

  • Why would you want to do something like that?
  • Can’t you self-publish for almost zip, nada, nothing?
  • What are the funds going to be used for?

The answers in order: I’m crazy…Yes!…A Quality Product.

Let’s take apart the questions one at a time.

 

Why Crowdfunding?

I’ve been self-publishing since 2012. I spent about a year studying everything I could get into my hands and feast my eyes on. I used to be the tentative type to obtain my master’s degree in a subject before I did any embarking. I’ve since changed my ways out of sheer necessity. Perfectionists don’t get much accomplished.

I’ve brainstormed, written, proofread, edited, formatted, uploaded, cover created, promoted, and everything else in between. I know the process. I know how much time it takes to write, prepare and promote to put out a quality product. It’s time intensive–not impossible—but also not so simple. Anyone can publish on the cheap, and that’s the way I’ve done it. No one is going to buffalo me, because I’ve traveled down this lonely highway.

I’m also only one person.

The costs can be very minimal. You can write a book in MS Word, slap a cover together, and upload to Amazon.

But do you want to sell it?

My newest book is quite different from the other seven I’ve published. For one, it’s my first fiction book. Second, it’s a romance novel. This is a new, exhilarating and quite scary experience for me.

 

Self-Publishing is Awesome!

I’m a lover of self-publishing. What control! What freedom! Publish what you want, when you want, how much you want!

The upside is also the downside. That is: You are the CEO of your self-publishing domain. You are writer, proofreader, editor, formatter, cover designer, publisher, and your very own PR guy or gal.

This is where the crowdfunding part steps in. To make funds available for a final polished product and the promotion of that product.

According to Forbes.com, these are the top 10 crowdfunding platforms: Kickstarter.com, Indigogo.com, Crowdfunder, RocketHub, Crowdrise, Somolend, Appbackr, AngelList, Invested.in, and Quirky. These sites are used for financing personal and cause-related campaigns such as that for the bullied bus monitor, which raised over $700,000 on Indigogo.com. However successful these sites may be to raise dollars for anything and everything, they don’t cater especially to authors.

Now there is a one who does.

 

Crowdfunding for Authors

Welcome Pubslush.com.

Hellen and Amanda Barbara are mother/daughter founders. Based in New York City, Pubslush is a global, crowdfunding and analytics platform only for books. This platform allows authors to raise money, gauge the initial audience for new book ideas, and allow readers to pledge their financial support to bring books to life. Pubslush is entirely about giving: giving an opportunity to authors, giving a voice to readers, and giving books to children without access to literature.

It is a platform specifically for authors. Nothing else.

If you’re not quite sure if it could work for you, take a look at some very successful campaigns on the site. Successful campaigns.

Pubslush is different in that it focuses on authors. It offers flex-funding, which means you keep the money as long as it surpasses $500. If you need help, the Author Assist program costs $25 at the low end. Pubslush takes 4 percent, plus third-party processing fees. It also donates one children’s book to a child in need for every book sold through their platform. You can also choose your own charity, which I have done. Pubslush was founded in 2011 as a press (with crowdfunding), but its emphasis shifted to crowdfunding (with a press) in August 2012. It is the only platform that keeps your page up and links a “buy” button to your completed book for sale.

 

Revolutionary Publishing Platform

Publishing as it stands now is a guessing game. Pubslush’s goal is to introduce readers into the publishing equation and provide authors with the tools (access to capital, audience demographics, freelance publishing professionals) they need to be successful.

You are welcome to follow me on this journey. I’ll be blogging weekly about the process, to help other authors navigate the murky waters of crowdfunding. In the next blog post, I’ll also introduce the national organization that I’ve chosen to be the recipient of 10% of funds raised.

May 1 is the day I dive in. After all, shouldn’t authors be paid for their work just like a plumber, baker, and candlestick maker? 😉

Couldn’t resist. Just had to throw that last one in.

Do you think you could put yourself on the line to raise funds for your book? Why or why not?

Leave me a comment and let me know!

PenelopeBTR2tiny

Penelope Silvers is founder of PhilosBooks.com,
where Independent Authors are introduced to the World!
She is a freelance writer, publisher, and radio host of
Penelope’s Book Chat on Blog Talk Radio.

 

 

 

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Tips for Book Cover Designs

License: Creative Commons image source

Eye catching book covers -not only draw the attention of buyers in book stores, to come by and flick through their pages; but often, prompts them to buy these as well! “Studies have shown that bookstore browsers take ten to twenty seconds on average to decide whether to purchase or reshelve a book. That’s not a lot of time to grab a reader’s attention with sparkling wit and singing prose,” declares the website divinecaroline.com.

 Our first impression of anything is based on how it looks, and the same applies to ‘book covers’ as well! The important thing to note here, is – that where marketing books is concerned-a book cover design, acts like an ‘advertisement.’ People frequenting bookstores; look at book covers with the assumption -that they have been designed to convey the soul of the story! Not keeping this in mind, when creating a book cover design- would mean losing out on a fantastic opportunity to reach out and sell, to target markets!  To be able to do so, however, a book cover design needs to be just right. Given below, are some time-tested tips that help make a book cover design saleable!

Book Cover Design Tips

Do Your Homework on Book Cover Design Elements in Genres Similar to Yours

“If you’re having trouble coming up with an idea for your cover, it may be a good idea to do some research. Go to a bookstore and examine books of the same genre. This can give you some ideas or suggestions” for your own book cover design, advises Author House.

Use Your Book Cover Design to Convey ‘What Your Book is About’

‘Being clear on what you want to convey through your book cover design is vital,’ believes, ‘thebookdesigner.com.’ “Your book is about something, and the cover ought to reflect that one idea clearly. One element that takes control, that commands the overwhelming majority of attention, of space, of emphasis on the cover…At a glance your prospect ought to know; the genre of your book, the general subject matter or focus, and some idea of the tone or “ambiance” of the book,” it suggests.

You Book Cover Design Must Evoke Curiosity

Independent author -Jan Bear, believes that, a good book cover design is one- that arouses the curiosity in book buyers and readers!  “A good book cover sets up a problem so powerful that your brain won’t let go of it until it knows the solution. That hint of a story will get a reader to open the book and find out if the author really answers the question posed on the cover,” she states on marketyourbookblog.com. In her opinion, in order to succeed, your book cover design- must focus on ‘connecting with your audience; capturing the mood of the story; conveying the type of story; and, assuring the buyer that your book is the work of a professional.’

Pay Attention to the ‘Front and Back Covers’ and the ‘Spine’ of Your Book

When going in for a book cover design, pay attention to the ‘front cover,’ ‘back cover’ and ‘the spine,’ of your book-suggests ‘divinecaroline.com.’ “Fonts are another consideration; a well-designed book cover will use several,” it notes, adding: “The front cover gets your attention, but the back cover sells a book.”

The website, goes on to highlight a lesser known fact- “Something many readers don’t realize is that bookstore real estate is purchased, just like in the supermarket. Books don’t randomly end up with the front cover facing out or on an endcap at the beginning of an aisle. Placement on a table at the front of the store during holidays can cost a publisher in the tens of thousands of dollars. If a publisher is not willing to eat into the marketing budget for placement, a book may languish spine by spine with the rest of the books on the shelves. This makes spine design almost as important as the rest of the cover’s.”

Be Aware of the Technicalities Involved in Book Cover Design

“There are a few technical guidelines to keep in mind” when it comes to your book cover design, cautions ‘Author House.’ “The first is to be aware of copyright issues when submitting images for your cover. It is also important that your images be high resolution. Resolution refers to the crispness or quality of focus in your images. Cover images must have a resolution of no less than 300 PPI or DPI. In addition, they must be a size suitable for their intended use,” it finishes.

This article was written by Meredith Lewis, who trains writers on marketing their books creatively and also conducts book cover design workshops.

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Break Out of that Writing Rut: Tell–Don’t Show–Write More of What You Love!

Keep a goal in mind as you write. What is your purpose?

Writing is Hard Work. You are Faced with a Blank Sheet of Paper

Writing is hard work. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Anyone who says it is easy—is delusional—and probably not writing.

“I just sit down at the typewriter and bleed.” – Ernest Hemingway

Let me tell you a story.

I’ve been writing fairly consistently since 2006. Before that time, I wrote strictly in my journal. Nothing fancy. It was one of those marbled composition notebooks you can buy at Walmart for 10 cents around the start of the school year. I wrote to make sense of all the mixed up thoughts in my head and to try to combat the depression that threatened to overtake me. It didn’t go any further than that. I never thought of myself as a ‘true writer’ until probably about a year ago.

What set me on the path of thinking this way?

The Kindle I received for Christmas.

I began searching out all the books I could find to load up my Kindle. Free and not so free. Books on fiction and non-fiction. I realized some of them were pure junk, and I knew I could do better.

I began writing with a goal in mind.

Self-publish to Amazon.

I now had a goal.

A goal to achieve.

A target to hit.

I began with non-fiction, and just this year I’m making the switch to fiction. There is quite a learning curve. Instead of learning everything there was to know about publishing an e-book to Amazon, I made the switch to learning everything there was to know about writing.

This is not a post about learning all the ins and outs of self-publishing. Suffice it to say, that it took about two years of dedicated study before I felt that I knew enough to publish my first book on Amazon. If you are interested in learning self-publishing, promotion and cutting down on the learning curve of writing fiction, these are the courses I recommend:

Kindling Membership Forum

This course is a clearinghouse of practically anything and everything there is to know about writing and publishing to Kindle. Geoff Shaw continues to improve and consistently add more into the course for his members. 

Good Fiction Fast

This course will teach you how to write fiction, and write it fast! I’d been slogging through book after book on writing, and getting more and more confused. This book will cut through the confusion to get you published quickly. You can start with non-fiction, but when you are ready to make the switch–check out Michelle Spiva’s course.

Two Books That Boosted my Writing

After I had learned about publishing to Kindle, then I set a goal to learn how to write better–and faster. There were two books that really stood out, from the crowd of writing books that jammed my Kindle.

These two transformed my writing.

This book, 2K to 10K, by Rachel Aaron was a book about how to write faster. What I gleaned from this book was this: Plan out what you are going to write about BEFORE you set down to type it up on the computer. I went back to my morning pages. I love the free flow of the pen to paper. It seems to help my thought processes to break it down that way first. I tried it. Voila!

Ideas began flowing again.

 

2K to 10K by Rachel Aaron

 

Then as I’ve been writing my first romance novel, I found myself stuck at 24,000 words. I was stuck and had to analyze what was happening with my writing.

I stopped writing on this story for a couple of months.

I saw a recommendation from a fellow writer on Facebook for Show, Don’t Tell by James Lofquist. This is a short little book that can be read in one sitting. What did I glean from this one?

Just write!

Just as I have been doing in the morning.

Write, let the ideas come, don’t stop them, and if you don’t know what to write, then make a list! (Tweet)

How freeing was this?

Very.

 

Tell, Don't Show, by James Lofquist

 

I gained the confidence to begin writing again.

I had to learn to stop being a perfectionist while writing. The time to correct and fix and polish is after a first draft is written. You must first get the story out in whatever means possible.

To make it easy to remember, I’ve summed up what I’ve learned in 11 simple tips:

  1. Don’t let the blank page intimidate you
  2. Write morning pages
  3. Plan out what you’re going to write BEFORE you head to the computer
  4. Make up a quick outline
  5. Show, Don’t Tell
  6. Don’t self-edit as you write
  7. Write everything you know about a scene
  8. List it if you’re not sure what to write
  9. Revise later
  10. Write consistently
  11. Write daily

Remember, it only takes an ant picking up and placing one grain of sand to build an anthill.

To write an entire book, it only takes the first word, then the next, and the next. (Tweet)

Be obedient and set an appointment with yourself to show up with pen in hand to write on the page or the computer. Make your appointment to write consistently, one word at a time, starting with the first one.

What helps you to write faster? What writing goals have you set for yourself?

Leave me a comment and let me know!

PenelopeBTR2tiny

Penelope Silvers is founder of PhilosBooks.com,
where “Independent Authors are introduced to the World!”
She is a freelance writer, publisher, and radio host of
Penelope’s Book Chat on Blog Talk Radio.

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11 Visual Exercises – Turn Book Dreams into a Published Book!

Imagine Yourself as a Published Author

Imagine Yourself as a Published Author

“Imagine what a harmonious world it could be if every single person, both young and old shared a little of what he is good at doing.”
Quincy Jones

 

Imagine.

You. Published author.

Your published book on Amazon’s shelves.

People spotting your beautiful book cover as they search for a book to buy.

Readers buying your book.

Logging in to your Amazon bookshelf and seeing numbers popping up under month-to-date sales.

Wouldn’t that be exciting?

You’ve just spent the last few months or years writing your memoir, romance, mystery or non-fiction story. The material is amazing. You’ve gone over it with a fine tooth comb and it is perfect. The story has been burning in your chest to be told. This story has become your baby. You know the world needs to hear what you have to say.

 

“All successful people men and women are big dreamers. They imagine what their future could be, ideal in every respect, and then they work every day toward their distant vision, that goal or purpose.” 
– Brian Tracy

 

You say you’re not even close to completing your book?

Think it can’t be done?

Have you even gotten started?

Maybe you need some inspiration about right now.

 

“Can you imagine what I would do if I could do all I can?”
– Sun Tzu

 

Here’s a goal for you.

Kindles Wrapped under the Tree

Wrapped Presents are waiting under the Christmas Tree

Christmas is close at hand.

Christmas morning will find millions rubbing the sleep from their eyes. They run into the living room to check out what Santa brought.

Christmas trees are lit up all over the world.

The tinsel sparkles.

The lights will be twinkling.

Presents are wrapped and waiting.

Kindles are under the Christmas tree.

Kindles under the Christmas Tree

There’s a Kindle in one of those packages!

These are gifts to new readers of ebooks.

Recipients will be excited that they received their brand spanking new e-reader.

They will, of course, need books to fill it up.

They will be heading over to Amazon to find books for their new  Kindle.

This is the first of October.

You have three months.

Let’s do a little exercise together.

  1. Close your eyes.
  2. Picture your book as completed.
  3. What does the cover look like?
  4. What color is it?
  5. Is there a picture on the cover or just text?
  6. Picture your title.
  7. Picture your name under the title, with the word “author” after your name.
  8. Picture your book in the listing of your chosen category on Amazon.
  9. What would it feel like to hold this book in your hand?
  10. Who is the first person you would share it with?
  11. Take Action

“Everything you can imagine is real.”
– Pablo Picasso

 

Now you’ve imagined your book, the Kindles in hand at Christmas, now is the time to take action. (Tweet)

Imagine your Author Name and Book Title on this Book Cover

Imagine your Author Name and Book Title on this Book Cover

Now is the time to write.

 

“The time to take counsel of your fears is before you make an important battle decision. That’s the time to listen to every fear you can imagine! When you have collected all the facts and fears and made your decision, turn off all your fears and go ahead! ”
– George S. Patton

 

The next post will help you do this.

 

Try the visual exercises and tell me what you imagine.  What is the title of your book? Color?  What are you doing to make this book a reality?

Leave me a comment and let me know!

PenelopeBTR2tiny

Penelope Silvers is founder of PhilosBooks.com,
where “Independent Authors are introduced to the World!”
She is a freelance writer, publisher, and radio host of
Penelope’s Book Chat on Blog Talk Radio.

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Dip into the Writing Well of your Bliss, Talents and Passions (Part 2)

Find Your Bliss and Never Fun out of Writing Topics!

Find Your Bliss and Never Run Out of Writing Topics!

Ask yourself this question: How many artists are truly blissful?

 

“Things won are done, joy’s soul lies in the doing.”
 – William Shakespeare


Previously, I wrote about finding “bliss” when painting—albeit  painting “for sale” signs to help a neighbor sell a house.

You can read this post here

 

Speaking to Writers

How does painting and finding your bliss apply to writing?

You may be saying, “What in the world do I have to write about, and who would want to listen to me?”

Let me put this in more practical terms–speaking especially to aspiring writers. When I was writing the book “The Body Revolution Solution,” I was excited.

You can find that book here.

For the first time in 26 years, my children were on their own. The house was empty. I finally began doing something for myself. I was taking care of myself for the first time in a very long time, instead of the little people tugging at my skirt. This new path was transforming my body, changing my moods, and my outlook for a bright future. This was exciting to me, and I translated this excitement to the page as I was writing the book.

I was becoming an entirely new woman.

The discovery process brought joy.

An entirely new world was opening up through this new way of eating and exercising, which also helped with hormone fluctuations and hot flashes that I had been experiencing for many years.. This was a serious light bulb clicking on and off trying to get my attention.

Ah ha! A new book!

This new book, “Put the Pause in Your Menopause” can be found here.

The lesson for authors?

If you are going to write, why not write what you love?

 

What Makes You Happy?

Write what makes you happy.

Find your bliss. Find Your Joy. Write about it.

Find your bliss. Find Your Joy. Write about it.

Your joy will cause your words to simply flow onto the page like a cool, clear, rushing mountain stream. They will gush forth without forcing them.

Others will be blessed by what you have written because your talents will shine. There will be people who need to hear what you have written.

Here are a couple of lessons I gleaned while painting (this can be applied to anything you love doing).

 

LESSON #1

Make sure to have a lot of paint on your brush

That advice seems so simple, but when I took a watercolor course from a grumpy watercolor instructor who wanted to withhold his knowledge on how to paint, I was afraid to get too much paint on my brush.

Why?

Perhaps I was fearful from his attitude of withholding information, and I wasn’t sure what I was doing. I didn’t want to waste the paint, and the colors came out weak.

Fear can cause you to hold back.

Dip that brush deep into the paint well and make broad strokes. In doing so, you will make an impact.

The colors will pop!

You can’t make broad and bold strokes if you don’t have a good dollop of paint on your brush.

 

Romance and novel paint beauty in colors more charming than nature, and describe a happiness that humans never taste. How deceptive and destructive are those pictures of consummate bliss!
– Oliver  Goldsmith

 

Don’t be afraid to dip into the paint of your talents and let your colors shine! Be who you really are—you will be joyful—and people will be attracted to that joy.

The world is woefully short on joy–and needs more of it.

Be the joy the world needs to see.

 

LESSON #2

If you switch colors, make sure to clean off your paintbrush and dry it first.


In other words: Finish one thing before you move on to the next.

If you can visualize the entire picture, you may get ahead of yourself and want to jump ahead too quickly to the end. I paint the foundation on a flower or tree, and then I can readily see where I need to add more color.

I get excited and want to quickly dip into this other color.

Resist the temptation!

Let the first color dry.

Writers: Master the writing genre you are currently in–before you move on to another one.

I’ve currently written books in nonfiction and I am slowly moving to fiction. There is a learning curve. So give yourself grace. You are infallible and prone to mistakes. God gave His grace to us. Let’s give it to ourselves. I’m soaking up all the learning I can on writing romantic fiction.

I’m not a master, I’m an apprentice.

In this life, I will always consider myself an apprentice. I freely admit this.

I am a voracious learner.

I am a voracious reader.

I trust that I will learn what I need to know to move forward.

I go to the library and request 15-20 books. They sit here in a bag on the couch. I try to go through them one by one until I get bored. I glean what I can from each one of them. There is something to be learned from each book, and then it is time to move on.

 

Lessons We Can Learn from Paint

Paint colors can also teach us something.

What can you learn from Painting?

What can authors learning from painting?

Learn from them.

There is a world of colors. Each color portrays a different emotion.

Like paint colors, people are also all different. They have different tastes. They like to read a wide variety of books and topics.

Learn what your readers like.

How they think.

Now dip your paintbrush boldly into the well of your different colors. Write with color. Write with passion.

 

And  the idea of just wandering off to a cafe with a notebook and writing and seeing  where that takes me for awhile is just bliss.
– J. K.  Rowling

 

Note: This post is part 2 of “Finding Your Bliss”
Here’s Part One: Dip Into the Writing Well of your Bliss, Talents and Passions

Let me know what you can pull from your writing well of your bliss, talents, and passions to create your very own self-published book. 
What makes you happy?

Leave a comment. I’d love to know!

PenelopeBTR2tiny

Penelope Silvers is founder of PhilosBooks.com,
where “Independent Authors are introduced to the World!”
She is a freelance writer, publisher, and radio host of
Penelope’s Book Chat on Blog Talk Radio.

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Dip into the Writing Well of your Bliss, Passions, and Talents

writing

Find Your Bliss and Never Run Out of Writing Topics!

People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.”  – Dale Carnegie

 

Follow your bliss; have fun in your work; do what you love, and find your joy.

My dictionary defines the word bliss as: “Extreme happiness, ecstasy and serene joy.”

I have been pondering following your bliss, and how this applies to authors. I believe if you are doing things you love (work, hobbies, family, travel, volunteering), you will always have material to write about.

writing

Do you have a hobby you can write about?

You will love your writing.

Others will also fall in love with your words.

I wrote an earlier blog post about painting and finding the joy it brought to me.

Joy!

How often do we experience this blessing? You can find this post here. I’m not admitting to painting masterpieces; I just noticed my garden figurines were looking a bit on the shabby side.

I wanted to make them beautiful again.

Give them new life.

Just this week when a neighbor needed help in selling their house, I again picked up the paintbrush. This time, to paint signs. Signs? Yep. Signs using stencils and paints.

Oh joy!

writing

Painting “For Sale” signs can be Bliss, too!

Sounds kind of kindergartenish, doesn’t it? It was eye-opening to me. I found that I was in that zone again.

The “bliss” zone.

The zone you find yourself in automatically when you are experiencing sheer joy and everything flows.

I have found that painting brings me joy.

I am a child.

Give me paints and a blank piece of paper and I will be quiet for hours.

I am writing this blog post to avoid a necessary evil. That something does not bring me bliss but is an evil necessity: editing my first romance novel. I have had some edits back for weeks from a crit partner, and I am at a point where I need to expound on a topic, and I am procrastinating. I’m guilty. Ack! I admit it.

I need a break.

I need to chew on this a bit.

I need to swirl the scenario in the story around in my mind like a fine wine.

Let it stew.

I may even sleep on it. Meanwhile, I’m going to write about why I think aspiring authors should follow their passion in their writing, instead of following what the crowd is doing.

The other thing that got me to thinking about this is from connecting with an aspiring author on Linked In. She is also a photographer, and she has taken some darn good pictures.

writing

Image courtesy of Kim Powell at Photograph_kp

You can see them here.

I believe she is following her bliss as a photographer, and I know she will do very well. As she develops her photography business, perhaps she might consider keeping a journal and this could turn into a book on photography. I don’t know. Here’s what I do know.

When you are joyful while doing something you love, the work flows.

Just as I am painting signs right now for a neighbor. Hey, I’m filling in stenciled letters, but I love it! I am good at it, and I can keep a pretty steady hand. That is what is needed when painting “OPEN HOUSE” on foamboard.

So it’s not a Van Gogh.

It’s still fun.

And when you having fun, the world knows it.

“If you always do what interests you, at least one person is pleased.” – Katharine Hepburn

So, listen up. If you are an aspiring author, and you don’t know what to write about, follow your bliss.  You may want to start journaling to find out if you’ve been stifled in your creativity. Here are the questions you can ask yourself:

  • What makes me happy? (Make a list)
  • What one thing does not feel like work? Pick only one.
  • What do I want to say about this one subject? (Start an outline)

I’m just going to stick with these three questions, because I, myself, work well in three’s.

Three items on the to-do list is not overwhelming.

Three questions should be easy to think about.

Ponder it. Stew on it. Let it rest. Then follow your bliss and begin writing.

“If you have that flame of a dream down inside you somewhere, thank God for it, and do something about it. And don’t let anyone else blow it out.” – Rich DeVos

 

What is your bliss? What makes you so happy that you just want to write and write and not stop? Leave me a comment and let me know!

PenelopeBTR2tiny

Penelope Silvers is founder of PhilosBooks.com, where
“Independent Authors are introduced to the World!”
She is a freelance writer, publisher, and radio host of
Penelope’s Book Chat on Blog Talk Radio.
 

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11 Simple Tips to Increase Writing – Keep Your Eyes on Your Own Paper!

PhilosBooks.com

Keep Your Eyes on Your Own Paper!

When I was a six-year-old in kindergarten, I was easily distracted and had a problem keeping my eyes to myself. When we were supposed to be working on an art project, the little boy next to me started talking and I got caught up in the fun of the conversation. The teacher noticed, and she came over and whacked me hard on the head with a big book (she was kinda mean).

While still in school, did you find yourself peeking at a classmate’s paper, only to be chastised by teacher? She would peer over her bifocals directly into your eyes, and you felt the fear of being caught. If you learned your lesson, you immediately turned back to your own test, refocused on blackening in those circles, and tried to guess the correct answers.

This current electronic social media age lends itself to turning people into modern day voyeurs. Like moths instinctively drawn to a flame, we are drawn to spy on others’ Facebook pages, You Tube videos, or websites. This creates a feeling of discontent. We ask ourselves, “What are THEY doing that I’m not? Why are they so much better than me? What’s wrong with me?”

Nothing is wrong with you. Just as keeping up with the Joneses and buying a bigger house or car will keep you forever in a destructive cycle, the same applies to writing. We have our own styles, our own methods of working, and our own distinctive subjects that push our hot buttons. Our neighbor has theirs. We are all different, and we work differently as well. As soon as we come to this realization, we will be happier, contented, and at peace. Our focus now back on our own work–we will accomplish more.

There are 11 simple steps that I strive to follow that help me increase my writing output, which cannot be accomplished when I’m looking over my shoulder at everyone else. Follow these steps, and I believe you will be on your way to more books, more blog posts, more articles, and a much happier you!

1)  Meditate. Spend some quiet time first thing in the morning blocking out the world. My chosen path is prayer and Bible reading. If you like to just spend it just clearing your mind in a quiet atmosphere, that is fine. Just clear the cobwebs out of your mind to make room for the things that really matter. This will give you more clarity and focus than anything else you do.

2)  Have a plan. Make a list, preferably the night before, of your top three items that will move you forward towards publishing that book, article or blog post. Use a planner (Paper or electronic) Plan out your month and then break the steps down by week, day, hour, etc.. I like using a Weekly or Monthly Planner from the dollar store that I can lay open to glance at, or a web-based planner can be found at http://Wunderlist.com. If you like mind maps, you can create those with a free one such Freemind. Try a couple different methods to see which one works the best for you.

3)  Prioritize. What is your top #1 item  to do that day? If you get through all three on your list–fantastic! I have found that writing any more than three down on any given day, is a recipe for feeling overwhelmed and torn, and usually not much gets accomplished.

4) Research or Study. If you need to get some research done–before you start writing–do this first. Organize all the research all in one place, such as a document or on a legal pad. Have it right in front of you before you begin writing.

5)  Environment. Figure out what type of environment allows you to do your best work. Do you need perfect quiet? Noises of a café? Music?

6)  Forget perfection –dive in! I am a recovering perfectionist, and I can truly say this keeps you from making progress on your goals. As the Nike slogan says, “Just do it!” and worry about fine tuning, i.e., editing, later.

7)  Social Media off limits! At least until you tackle the most important thing on your list first. Give yourself a time limit, and reward yourself by quickly scanning Facebook and Twitter, respond if necessary, and then return to your work.

8) Time yourself. Would you like more hours to magically appear in your day? Try timing yourself. I tend to do my best work when under the gun of a timer. Here’s a site that will allow you to plug in your to-do items and then set the timer when you are ready to work! You can listen to the ticking countdown, or turn off the sound. It will ding when the time is up. Try it at ActionEnforcer.com

9) Tackle one item at a time – Multitasking does not work! As human beings, we are made to only work on one thing at a time. Pick one item on your list, work on it for the amount of time you have set before you move on. Finish what you start.

10)  Exercise. Our bodies are meant to move. Complete one item, close down that screen of your laptop, push your chair away from the computer, and go take a walk, do some yoga, or lift some weights. Try to take a break from sitting about every hour. Finally, last but certainly not least:

11)  Be Flexible! Realize that life will interfere, and you will sometimes not be able to adhere to your schedule. If I can’t follow my plan I’ve laid out for myself, I realize the best laid plans…Give yourself grace and realize there is a new day waiting for you tomorrow.

 I’m always open for learning new tips. Leave a comment and let me know what tips have helped your writing output!

PenelopeBTR2tiny
Penelope Silvers is founder of PhilosBooks.com,
where “Independent Authors are introduced to the World!”
She is a freelance writer, publisher, and radio host of
Penelope’s Book Chat on Blog Talk Radio.

 

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Authors: Find a Fun Hobby to Boost Your Writing!

Stepping Stone 001Stepping Stone 004Stepping Stone 006

I painted today.

If you are a serious author and you write, you should paint.

Let me rephrase that.

If you write, you need to find a hobby you can attack when your brain needs a rest from writing.

There is something about engaging that right brain that also engages the left. Since I have begun my painting spree, the words are flowing like water from an open spigot.

A few years ago, when I was trying to find my way as a writer, I read a book by Julia Cameron, called “The Artist’s Way.” I highly recommend this book if you feel frustration in your writing, and you need help unleashing the creative side of yourself. We all have this side, but most people never tap into it their entire lives. If you have always dreamt of being a writer, but were blocked from limiting beliefs, fear, self-sabotage, jealousy, guilt, addictions, and other inhibiting forces, this book seeks to help you replace them with artistic confidence and productivity.

One of her recommendations is to get into the habit of writing what she aptly calls “Morning Pages.”

In other words, journaling.

Get out the journal first thing in the morning, and let it all hang out.

Write, write, write whatever is clogging up your little head. Write about the little tick you hear in the car, write about having to call your mom, write about feeling depressed or blue. This is what is called stream-of-consciousness writing. You are head dumping onto the page to clear out your mind for your more productive writing time. This was a totally new concept to me.

Not edit as I write? Shocking! 

I am a bug-a-boo about grammar and perfection.

You are not to worry about re-reading, or editing, or correcting. Leave it as is, and don’t even go back and read it right then. If you want to later on, fine. Just don’t do it in that one sitting. I have now been engaging in this practice for years, and I can’t believe how cathartic this process has become for me.

The other recommendation that brought me to the painting table?

An artist’s date.

A date with yourself that you are supposed to set for once a week.

You must honor this date as you would a date with your beloved that you would never consider breaking. You must get yourself out of the house, and go haunt the thrift stores, antique stores, art shows, or whatever. Take yourself someplace you’ve always wanted to go. Go sit on the beach and watch the sunrise or sunset.

Just go.

Writers tend to isolate themselves and sit for way too long (which is another subject for fitness), and we become like bumps on a log. We become stale and stagnant and well, you know what happens there. Our writing gets stale and stinky and we get writer’s block. Get out in the fresh air, treat yourself and don’t you dare not show up!

OK. So back to my painting date with myself.

Am I a master painter like Da Vinci or Dali? No way. I revived this fun little hobby from my youth when I noticed my little cat and dog garden figurines were looking a little shabby. I mentioned it to hubby and he searched high and low (at Walmart) for some multi-colored acrylic paints that I could use to paint to my heart’s content.

My projects began usually first thing in the morning (with coffee in hand, of course) on our wrought iron table out on the patio.

I had so much fun giving both a facelift that I moved on to the faded stepping stone. It needed a good rinsing off under some water, and once dry I got to task in the tropical sunshine, and our faded little stepping stone went from ugh to vrooomm! It is now gracing our garden with its new found beauty. I receive the feeling of satisfaction every time I glance its way—a satisfaction that only comes from knowing it is a job you have completed all by yourself!

Then I got on a tear.

A new thought wriggled its way into my subconscious mind. Hmmm….I can repaint all of the smaller garden decorations the same way–those little daisies and their leaves, the flying bird, spade and bucket and birdhouse. Well, you get the idea. Before you know it, I had repainted every last one of them. Hubby sprayed them with an acrylic to seal them and keep them looking pretty.

Now I’ve run out of things to paint.

Before I start on the furniture inside the house, I believe I will make a trip to Hobby Lobby to see what I can beautify for my Christmas presents and then I will go write some more!

Leave a comment and let me know what your hobbies are. Do you feel they help you to be a better writer?

PenelopeBTR2tiny
Penelope Silvers is founder of PhilosBooks.com,
where “Independent Authors are introduced to the World!”
She is a freelance writer, publisher, and radio host of
Penelope’s Book Chat on Blog Talk Radio.

 

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All Authors Blog Blitz Featuring Author Aramis Barron

abarron

Roaming Cadenza ebook Cover  Dust Requiem ebook Cover

Today I am pleased to feature author Aramis Barron through the All Authors Blog Blitz put on at Goodreads by author Y. Correa. I hope you enjoy reading this article by Aramis, and will pick up one or both of his books. Enjoy!

 

Leave a Good Story by Aramis Barron

One of the biggest challenges I’ve encountered as a writer is turning interesting ideas into good writing. The theory is simple enough—have a good idea, write it down, flesh it out. Success! Or so the theory goes.

In practice, I’ve found there’s often some sort of disconnect where the awesome gets lost, and what started out as an innovative idea turns into boring clichés in a vain attempt to fill the page. Maybe this doesn’t happen to you, but if this sounds familiar, what can be done?

For me, the best option has been to ask this question: what do you expect to see vs. what would you like to see?

It’s all too easy to fill the page with some generic plot progression while waiting to get to the “good part,” but that’s exactly where excellent writing stands out—it takes advantage of every opportunity to add more to (or remove the unnecessary from) the story. For example, a star-struck couple fights over a misunderstanding and then they make up. That’s the storyline. But what if they didn’t? What if one went into a jealous rage and started an anti-dating corporation/poisoned every box of chocolates in the city/contracted the t-virus and flew away into outer space instead (depending on your genre)?

Think about every story you’ve read, heard, watched, in which you knew exactly what was coming next. How did you feel when you knew what the protagonist or cookie-cutter villain was going to do before they did? Then look at it from the other side: do you remember some of the greatest surprises you’ve ever read in a story? Why was it surprising? What made it work?

An example from literature (spoilers!): In the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, after Martin is revealed as a serial killer, he asks Blomkvist who killed his sister. This opens up a whole new, fascinating plot line since it is implied Martin had killed her, which although short, works very well and creates the opening for an even more surprising ending. Another example is from the television show Prison Break when Michael and Lincoln miss their plane after they escape Fox River. After everything that’s happened up to that point, the audience has a vested interest in seeing the brothers escape, and expects them to, only to watch them fail. As it turns out, failure is an acceptable storyline!

Each writer has their own methods and styles, but if you find your pieces need a little something more to stand out, consider the questions above and don’t be afraid to explore the results. Sometimes the plot or even the entire storyline may change—that’s okay! Moments happen in life that are completely messed up and change the way things are “supposed to go,” but those exact moments are the ones worth telling. In the end, explore different options and see what works best for you, but most of all—leave a good story.

Before I wrap this up, I’ll include a brief advert for my book series, A Bard’s Folktale. The first book, “Roaming Cadenza,” is about three high schoolers and their mental unstable college friend driving across country to get the hell out of their hometown just after graduation. Finally getting out of their protective bubble, however, they see just how difficult the “real world” can be, and whether they each have what it takes to get by. The second book, “Dustland Requiem,” (available June 25th) continues the story by dealing with the fallout of the group’s decisions and trying to survive the lawless desert of gangland Mexico.

For more information, including a free copy of the first e-book, please visit http://emarosa.net

T. Aramis Barron
His Website
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Please leave your comments and let Aramis know how much you enjoyed his post!

 

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