Archive for November, 2013


This next section of notes I’ve dug through are from the ‘End of All Things’ panel. Here are the main points and a couple questions to consider…

Some of the best Climaxes involve some kind of sacrifice or cost on the part of the character. Ideally, dealing with that emotional cost directly ties into the climax of the book. This got a bit confusing for me to understand, so here’s an example.

Let’s say your main character’s best friend just fell out of a cargo plane, unconscious, at 18,000 feet in the air. The hero/heroine must skydive after their friend to rescue them, that’s a decent challenge. However, If you throw in that the protagonist is also terrified of heights because his/her dad died in a skydiving accident ten years ago… You just tripled the tension and the main character can’t save the day without resolving it.

Now, building on that. If this were a series, you want the ending of the first book to be satisfying, but leave enough questions and problems to pull the reader to the next book. For example: If the cargo plane is occupied by bad guys with a bio weapon and the protagonist was supposed to sabotage it (leaving it active when he dove after his friend), you have an effective lead into the next book and an added cost on the protagonist’s part (letting the bad guys get away).

Stuck at a scene you’re writing? Try these three questions. What does your main character want? What can go wrong? How will he/she cope with it? The nature of pushing a story along and making sure your character (and vicariously, the reader) is growing along the way.

Think back to your favorite or most hated stories. What are the worst endings you’ve ever seen? What are the best? Did the final obstacle carry a cost of some kind on the character’s part? In truth, you could even consider the hardest things you’ve had to overcome in your own life. How did you grow from those experiences? Tie those pearls of wisdom into your characters and you’ll be surprised how real and personal they can feel.

I found this panel particularly useful, since myself and many writers often worry about our online ‘presence’ and how to improve it. Authors on this panel included a couple marketing professionals as well as established authors. I decided to share this panel’s notes because the advice I gathered applies to promoting just about anything via social media.

Social Media is defined as a Platform for user-generated content (Whatever you put out there is PERMANENTLY out there, so keep it professional).

As a general rule, if you learn something – share it. If what you’re writing is useful, people will share it and follow you.

Do what you love. If you hate twitter, don’t use it. It’s better to stick to your strengths, something your readers will sense through your posts. If you insist on doing stuff you don’t enjoy, for the sake of maintaining a platform, your readers will noticed the lack of genuine enthusiasm and loose interest.

Share what excites you.

Don’t use Social Media for pure advertising. Focus on providing stuff people can emotionally engage with. A couple authors on the panel gave examples of their pets or hobbies like cooking.

Share your loves and enthusiasms.

There are A LOT of authors on social media, but posting your unique loves, you set yourself apart from them all. You then will attract like-minded people by posting to their interests.

Engagement is defined as when you get a response (like/comment) from a reader. Build engagement by asking questions about a specific picture or subject. It triggers a data-log when someone replies.

Facebook is for an ‘older’ market. Twitter is for the teen/college crowd and Tumbler is all the rage with the YA kids these days. Select your topics shared, accordingly.

If you use Facebook ads, you can target the fans of similar authors to yourself. (Facebook sometimes offers 50$ in free advertising to get you started). Can upgrade tracking abilities with more advanced Facebook analytics.

Twitter: Tweet in the moment only (one my way to ___ panel at OryCon) etc. You can also gets a lot of activity on Facebook and Google plus with posts like: ‘I wrote ____ pages today, here’s a spoiler/pic.’

Keep in mind that responding to your fans’ comments/opinions will drive readers to you because your caring about them and their likes/interests.

When you’re stuck with writer’s block, you can throw out a question to your readers like, ‘How would you escape an attack drone?’ and enjoys the reader’s input as they bounce ideas off the wall.

BUFFER AP: auto shares your data on a set schedule (so you can market in advance and post on a schedule). Can catch twitter feeds during their ‘busy’ hours.

You can also link readers to what you’re listening to, and talk about what it inspires in a given scene. You can also tie current events into your writing.

Be relaxed/casual, not desperate.

A writer’s Facebook profile should never end with the word ‘author,’ it screams ‘noob.’

Engagement: Don’t spam questions with every post. Pick and choose how you involve your readers. Think of it like you’re at a dinner party making new friends. You wouldn’t walk up and throw constant questions at them or drown them with writing updates.

When selling anything: Focus on providing the right content to maintain the reader’s attention, then make the ‘sale pitch.’

Take the time to learn social norms.

William Hertling mentioned a great book ‘Indie and small press book marketing.’ Other writers at the panel said it was well worth the investment.

Make sure your blog/website has its OWN domain name. This is your professional hub, don’t waste it on a ‘free’ domain address that screams ‘cheap.’

Choose what elements of your life are public and which are private. All the public stuff is fair game to share and emotionally connect you with readers.

Tumbler focuses on readers ages 13 – 21 (Young Adult).

Review books in your genre, but only post the positive ones (karma will find you).

Online: Always be pleasant and punctual. After all, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

Google Alerts will ping you when something happens on ur page/target topic.

Only have time for one marketing avenue? Stick to your blog, where your content sticks around. The other social media sites are like throwing sticks in a river, there and gone.

Monitor Comments: Sometimes you have to mind your readers and keep things ‘civil.’

Linked in is becoming more social now.

This weekend I attended Oregon’s Premier Science Fiction Convention (Thankfully, they expand their panel topics enough to include Fantasy, or I’d feel very out-of-place). I attended over a dozen panels with a variety of authors, both traditionally and self-published, all extremely talented. Some of the notes I picked up will likely drift onto this site in the coming weeks, but what really impacted me first (as with most Conventions) was the art gallery.

No matter how great my skill at the writing craft, a part of me will always be jealous of illustrators and graphic designers. The ability to create a captivating image from a white page and a set of colors strikes me as an amazing gift, because it’s so easy for their viewers to  enjoy and admire them. If only people could read through one of my novels in thirty seconds! Perhaps in the  very distant future I’ll dabble along those lines, but for now, I’m content to hone one set of skills at a time. On to the next writing project (Once I finally chose between the four currently begging me for attention). Decisions, decisions…

I was reading through some old journal entries of mine, from earlier this year and re-discovered a thought that’s stuck with me lately. Being ordinary or extraordinary, are both choices. Oftentimes, as we go about our daily lives and routines, we look at others who are more successful and think they’re cut from a different cloth than us. As if the virtue of who they are, or how they were raised granted them some great gift of success that ‘normal’ people couldn’t hope to attain.

Becoming extraordinary at something, anything really, is a daily choice we make to put time into it. Of course, at the time I was thinking about my writing career. But this advice applies to just about any hobby or skill you can develop over time. The trick is putting a daily effort into it, even a small one. We sometimes overlook how quickly the ‘little’ efforts add up. If I write 250 words per day, that’s still over 90,000 words (or 350 pages) per year.

So, pick a passion you enjoy. Put fifteen or twenty daily minutes into it for a month and see where you end up. Who knows, you just might find a lucrative hobby you can monetize or a new skill to set you apart from your peers. You can always be excellent at something. Make it something you enjoy, something extraordinary.