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5 Tips for Keeping an Author Blog

Robin Densmore FusonWhen I published my first book, one of the things that most frightened me was doing my own marketing. I discovered the best way to market my book was through social media, and that included a blog. There are many kinds of blogs, from how-to’s to devotionals. Whatever your interest is, there is a blog for you.

5 Tips for Keeping Your Blog Alive and Generating Hits

1.)    Post often. For you it may be daily, biweekly, weekly or monthly. It is best to post at least once every week. This will bring your audience to your blog regularly, which will keep your name alive and may even cause you to come up in conversation. Sometimes, just writing a sentence or two, or posing a question for readers to comment on will help you to post more often. Don’t forget to reply to any commenting, even if they are not flattering or are negative. (more…)


3 Reasons to Write Every Day

3 Reasons to Write Every Day “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
— Aristotle

Writers often talk about the importance of creating (and sticking to) a writing schedule. There are writers who insist that writing every day is the best way to success; then there are those who swear that to simply write when inspiration comes will do the trick. Some build their writing schedules around word counts, some by page numbers, others by hours at the keyboard. Some set their deadlines by the week — others by the month.

Of course, different systems work for different people, but there’s a strong argument to be made for writing every day. It doesn’t have to be a lot. In fact, a single sentence commitment will do. Hopefully, once you get that first sentence down, more will follow. Some days that one sentence might turn into four or five pages. Other days that single sentence might be all you can muster. But that’s okay. Instead of striving toward ambitious goals, you’ll be creating a habit.  

Here’s how daily writing can help your productivity:

  1. Relieve the Pressure: When writing days are few and far between, each individual writing session can come with a lot of pressure. It’s easy to feel like you have to make up for lost time — to produce a high volume of high quality material right away. However, if you’re writing daily, you can approach each session with smaller, friendlier goals in mind. You might feel freer to try new things and explore new ideas. Simply by writing more frequently, you give yourself plenty of time for experiments, mistakes and corrections.
  2. Stay in Rhythm: Writing daily will help you keep your work fresh in your mind. You’ll be far less likely to forget what your characters were doing, to lose your train of thought, or to have to revisit your research. With ideas, plotlines and arguments still lingering, it should always be easy to pick up where you left off.
  3. Fall into Habit: As with any other craft, practice makes perfect. The more you write, the easier it will be and the more you’ll get done. By making time to work every day, writing can become second nature — as instinctual as brushing your teeth. You won’t struggle to fit it in to your life anymore; you’ll just do it. Thinking and creating will become part of who you are in your daily life.

Stop making goals and start creating a habit. Write — at least one sentence — every day. And see where that one sentence leads you. Remember, it’s only through writing that you can become a writer.

How do you make writing a part of your lifestyle?


Tick Tock, How Do You Fit Writing and Marketing on the Clock?

J.V. CarrWestBow Press author, J.V. Carr, knows a thing or two about a busy schedule. She juggles raising children and maintaining a household on top of sharing her book’s message. Learn more about how she finds time for her time-consuming responsibilities.

 

Do you have busy days? A crazy work schedule? A busy house that steals your time? If so, how do you find the time to write, promote your book and keep up with your online presence on social media?

It may seem like a daunting and overwhelming task to juggle your life and writing, too. And believe me, I haven’t perfected this yet, but I am peacefully striving toward the writing and marketing goals I have set for myself. I say peacefully because at first I felt panicked to promote my newly published novel, Username: Bladen. I stayed up too late reading, writing, setting up and maintaining my social media accounts. Eventually I ended up too tired to continue. (more…)


3 Tips on Writing a Children’s Book

How to Write a Children's BookDid you know that the National Children’s Book Week is the longest-running national literacy initiative in the country with the 94th annual celebration this week? We’re excited to honor those children’s authors and books that have made a lasting impact on a child’s life. And, if you’ve ever tried to write a children’s book, you know that it’s not as easy as it may seem. Children can be fickle in what they like, and some adult authors struggle to reach an audience with different interests and on a lower reading level.

How can you write a Christian children’s book with a positive message that children want to read? No matter where you are at in the process of writing your children’s book, we can help you with a few writing tips:

  • Determine your motives and message. With thousands of children’s titles published each year, you must figure out how to make yours stand out. Do you have a specific message you want to share with children? Perhaps you have noticed a certain type of book lacking in the children’s department, and you think you can write a book to fill that gap. Before you do anything else, spend time thinking about why you want to write a children’s book, then determine what message you want to communicate.
  • Get on their level. Children are a unique group of readers. Their attention span is short, their interests vary from moment to moment and their view of the world is different than adults. So, spend time with children to learn what they like, what they are curious about and what scares them. Keep these children in mind when you start writing. It is also important that you know exactly what age group your book is aimed at. A book for a toddler would be written differently than a book for a five-year-old.
  • Utilize pictures. Not only should the words in your book connect with the children in your target age range, but the pictures should as well. Since most young children cannot read on their own, illustrations and pictures help them understand a story. Your pictures should be age appropriate, bright and colorful and match the plotline of your story. If you are not an illustrator you can hire a freelance illustrator or choose from one or more of the interior illustrations services WestBow Press offers.

Writing a children’s book is not always easy and can become an exercise in being concise and communicating a big message on a child’s level. But, seeing a child’s eyes light up when they read your book is worth all the hard work.

What were your favorite books as a child?


Finding Your Voice as a Writer

Finding Your Voice as a WriterIt’s important for writers to find their voice and apply it to their stories. But first, what is a writer’s voice? It’s a combination of things – syntax, diction, punctuation, character development, dialogue, etc. – that make your writing unique. Your voice when writing books differs from when speaking at engagements.  No one else can offer what you can – your unique perspective and storytelling will keep your readers coming back for more if you stay true to yourself and your voice. So, it’s essential for you to unlock your creative potential and find your writing voice.

Here are a few tips on how to find and develop your voice:

1.)    Visualize someone you want to talk to. Pretend you’re writing a self-help book for teens, and you have a fourteen-year-old niece. Visualize your niece sitting next to you as you write. This makes it easier for you to tell the information with words of encouragement from a concerned loved one rather than simply instructive words coming from a figure of authority.

2.)    Play games. Create lists of words in order to discover ideas you’ve kept hidden from yourself.  Make sure these words mean something to you; don’t just search for synonyms. Really think about them.  Make a list of words that you find creepy, then a list of things that you find inspirational. Make a list of foods you enjoy, then a list of places you want to visit. Make a list of movies you enjoyed as a child, then a list of gifts you’d give yourself and family if you won the lottery.

3.)    Free write. Write whatever comes to mind without editing. Take a few words from the lists you created from step two and simply begin writing. After a few sessions, review your work and see if you would publish something similar. Your most honest work is usually revealed when you’re comfortable and without stress or deadlines.

Your voice is created from persistent hard work, and when you challenge yourself. So, keep writing – and reading – in order to develop your voice once you discover it. You’ll stand out among other authors by showing the world you have something to say and have a unique way of saying it.

How did you find your writing voice?


Ten Commandments for New Authors

Ten Commandments for New AuthorsOver my past 20 years in the book publishing industry, I have seen many new authors make the same mistakes. These mistakes seem obvious to industry insiders, which is perhaps why we have not done a better job of helping authors avoid making them. In this era where most new books are self-published, to some degree, an author is responsible for several functions that are normally outsourced to their publisher. As a result, these mistakes are becoming more common.

While not nearly as important as the original Ten Commandments, these guidelines can determine an author’s level of success. (more…)


How to Beat Writer’s Block

6 Ways to Beat Writer's BlockWe’re all writers, and we’ve all been there – that moment when we suddenly lose our train of thought, and we have no idea what we were just writing. I’m talking about that moment all writers dread: writer’s block.

When you find yourself facing writer’s block, it is important to remember that you are not alone and every other author out there has dealt with writer’s block at some time during their writing career. Although it is discouraging, writer’s block is temporary and it too shall pass. But, for the time being, here are six tips I use to beat writer’s block.

6 Tips on How to Beat Writer’s Block:

Be Active – Go for a walk, jog or run. Do yoga or go to the gym. Being active is a great way to reduce stress and clear your mind. Once you’ve cleared your mind you’ll find it easier to collect your thoughts and work on your writing.

Take a Nap – Whether you take a short power nap or an over-due, long midday nap, you’ll wake up refreshed. Chances are you’re facing writer’s block because your body is telling you that it needs a break. Take a nap and wake up rested, recharged and ready to tackle your writing for the day.

Watch a Movie – Take a break long enough to watch a movie. It can be your go-to movie when you’re stressed or down, a new movie you haven’t seen or any other movie you have in your collection. Movies provide visual inspiration and inspiration, and they allow your brain to relax. Who knows, maybe you’ll get inspiration for a character you’ve had trouble developing or an idea for a plot twist!

Be Prompted – If you want to face writer’s block head on, use a writing prompt to jumpstart your mind. Every Friday, we provide a writing tip and prompt for our readers with both text and a visual. If you’ve already used all of our writing prompts and are looking for a new challenge, you can search the internet for a plethora of writing prompts.

Switch Mediums – Maybe you are too distracted and cannot focus on your writing, or you cannot put your thoughts in writing fast enough. If you normally type on your computer, switch to pen and paper. By doing this, you will not have the internet at your fingertips, and you can focus on the task at hand: writing. If you normally write with pen and paper, try typing. Most people type faster than they write and that will help you write your thoughts faster, preventing you from getting lost in them.

Unwind – Whether you listen to music, read a book, dance or eat a snack, just do something that allows you to unwind. You can listen to music while you’re writing, or take a break from writing completely. Whatever you chose to do to unwind, just do it and enjoy it without keeping thoughts of your writing in the back of your mind.

 

The key to tackling writer’s block is taking a step back and focusing on something different for a short while. You will only get frustrated if you are suffering from writer’s block and try to ignore it.

Two important things to remember about writer’s block: it is our body’s way of telling us our mind needs a break, and it is temporary. So, the next time you find yourself facing writer’s block, take a deep breath and focus on something else knowing that you’ll be able to come back and tackle your writing with a clear mind later.

What tips do you have for beating writer’s block?


Focus on God with Your Writing During Lent

Use Your Writing to Bring Your Focus to GodAsh Wednesday reminds us that the season of Lent is upon us. Starting today, Christians prepare themselves for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. This time is used to reflect through prayer, penance, repentance, almsgiving and self-denial. The duration of Lent is often related to the time that Jesus spent fasting in the desert before he started his ministry.

In order to focus more on God, Christians fast during Lent. Traditionally, this implies giving something up that we enjoy, such as chocolate or soda. It is important to remember that we do not always have to give something up in order to fast and focus on God. Sometimes we benefit more from doing something extra during Lent, such as reading the Bible every day or volunteering at a soup kitchen.  As a writer, you can use your gift to bring your focus to God during this time of preparation.

3 Ways Your Writing Can Bring Your Focus to God:

Reflect – Choose passages in the Bible to read and reflect on during Lent. Write about what the passages mean to you and how you can apply the messages in your daily life.

Pray – Keep a prayer journal during Lent and write in it every day.

Listen – God has called you to write your story. What purpose has He given your story? Now, more than ever, listen to God as He guides you in your writing.

This Lenten season, incorporate these three things in your writing as your way of fasting. Lent does not mean we need to forbid ourselves from something we enjoy. Sometimes, by doing something such as writing or volunteering, we inadvertently give up something because we are focusing on God and not our desires.

How will you use your writing to bring your focus to God this Lent?


2011 Women of Faith Writing Contest Winner, Amy Sorrells on Traditional Publishing

“Every time you post a status update, it says you’re editing,” a friend on Facebook recently joked with me.

She’s right. At the same time Women of Faith announced I won their 2012 writing contest last March, my literary agent was negotiating a traditional publishing contract with David C. Cook. Since then, life has been a bowl of cherries.

And editing.

And editing.

And editing.

And I couldn’t be more grateful.

To be honest, the editing process (which is finally winding down) has been the most difficult work my brain has ever done. Not awful, just difficult. I like to relate the process to a concert band. Initially, the instruments struggle to be in tune, find the tune and carry the tune. The conductor reprimands the trumpets for playing too loudly. He sends the woodwinds to another room to figure out how to make their part blend in better, and the drums are so far off score, they seem hopeless. But in the end the music comes together and lifts the applauding audience to their feet. It is the same with editing a novel in preparation for publication. (more…)


New Year, New You – Write that Book

With every new year comes a fresh start, and what better time to start writing your book than now. Between writing your book, editing it and finding a publisher, writing can be overwhelming and stressful. The key to reaching your writing goals this year is to make it an achievable task that fits into your schedule.

To help you with writing your book, I’ve listed four helpful tips:

1.       Set a reasonable deadline – Whether the deadline is for your first draft or for publication, make sure it is reasonable. If you are aiming to write a novel in a month, writing can quickly escalate from a fun passion to a daunting chore. Plus, with a reasonable deadline there is always the chance that you will finish ahead of schedule, increasing the sense of achievement you will already be feeling from writing your book.

2.       Outline your plot and characters – Writing your book can be as easy as you make it. In an earlier writing tip from WestBow Press, it was suggested that you really know your characters before you start writing your book. By taking the time to outline your plot and characters, writing your book will be like filling in the blanks.

3.       Make a schedule and stick to it – Like your deadline, your schedule should be reasonable to prevent yourself from falling behind. When making your schedule, remember that quality is better than quantity and it is not imperative to write every day. With a reasonable schedule, you  can always change your schedule as the writing process progresses.   

4.       Schedule time to edit – If you already have editing time scheduled, it will not take time away from focusing on the task at hand: writing your book. By editing your work on a different day than you wrote it, you will be more likely to catch any errors or typos. You can save time at the end of the writing process if you set aside one day a week to edit your work.

Writing your book does not need to become a new stressor in your life. Use these tips to help keep writing your book a fun and enjoyable task.


Writing During the Holidays

Our writing is thankful for the holidays, but not because we deem a holiday the excuse we’ve been looking for to put our thoughts to rest. Quite the contrary. Such days are full of life — bursting with color.

During the holidays, personality surrounds you, and the uplifting tone has a way of re-centering your spirit — a refreshed appreciation for the simplicities of life. The holidays serve as a  reminder for what truly matters. And the excitement lies within the characters (family and friends) and the heart of their stories.

Writers have been known to hop up amidst conversation and burrow to the corner of the room, even if for only a few minutes. Writers are taking notes — jotting tidbits of thought and inspiration from the intricacies of these personalities they adore so much (for both their complexities and complimenting attributes).

These little notes may not make up a complete character in their developing story, but may contribute to or spread across the motions of many of their characters. Or perhaps a word or phrase strikes an idea for a new storyline or twist to their current plot.

Our point is, home is your comfort zone — a place where inspiration flows easily and in its purest form. And so, this holiday, as you sit among the company of family and friends, really listen and look…feel. Inspiration…it’s all around you.


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