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Posts Tagged ‘Words on Writing’

Well, this is new. I’ve never had an issue trying to log into my Amazon author page.

I would just Google search Amazon Author Page and my name and it comes up. I may have to log in if I’m not already logged in to Amazon KDP on another tab.

Keep in mind, I haven’t actually touched any of this stuff in two years over the Covid lockdown.

Amazon KDP has made some changes to the marketing resources, adding new features that were not there before.

Now when I try to gain access to my page with this address (https://author.amazon.com) I get this:

Take special note of that little round picture in the top right corner. That, my friends, is my profile picture from somewhere or other for my alter ego middle grade books pen name. The same books shows here, and the top pen name listed.

I have separate Amazon author accounts for each pen name.

I am also currently logged into my Amazon KDP author account for L. V. Gaudet under another tab, and also happen to be logged into my Amazon buying account of the same name under yet another tab.

But it is still trying to default to Vivian Munnoch, which is not logged in anywhere at all.

I don’t recall actually seeing this “Join Amazon Author Central” since joining. Normally it seems to bypass this altogether.

But, no worries.

Logging into your Amazon Author Page.

A quick Google got me this:

I went back and clicked the “Join Amazon Author Central” button and it popped me right into the author page.

Um, but this looks different. I also isn’t the author pen name account I’m trying to get into.

Lightbulb!

Remember that other screen had a line that said, “We’ve carried over your Author Central account information associated with.”

Sheesh, how long has it been since I even logged in here? I haven’t had any new books to claim until now. I want to try to get that new anthology I have a short story in showing up, All Dark Places 3 published by Dragon Soul Press. (p.s. remind me to order those author copies before these crazy fuel prices jack up the cost!)

This calls for another Google search.

Yup, there we go. I am so behind with the times. Not something you want to do, by the way, if you want to sell books.

Amazon moved their Author Central to a new portal.

When did this happen? That google search article is dated November 15, 2020, so my guess is some time around or shortly before then. My bad for neglecting even visiting this page for two years and 9 ½ months. Okay, more like three years if we want to be honest.

So far at just this first page I think I like the new portal better.

Right there is has links to:

  • View all books
  • View sales ranks
  • View customer reviews
  • See how the page looks in different countries

I‘m going to have to play around in here a little, but I still need to switch to the other author account to resolve a few issues there.

Namely, getting that anthology All Dark Places 3 published by Dragon Soul Press, showing on my L. V. Gaudet author page if I can. And when setting up the A+ content for a few books, I ran into the issue that one book’s eBook link was not linked to the paperback. It shows only the eBook version in the Amazon store without the other version available. You want all format types on Amazon showing every time someone views your book on Amazon. It appears the paperback on my KDP account for some reason is linked to the eBook imported from IngramSpark, instead of to the Amazon KDP eBook. I believe your Amazon KDP account, however, is the place to fix that

Now, how do I switch to the other author page?

Switching to your other Amazon Author Page.

I just fell in love with this new portal a little more. No logging out and back in under the other name like so many platforms make you do. Like a few other platforms lately, Amazon has also streamlined this.

Seriously, I love that now on platforms like Instagram and Twitter I can now switch between the multiple accounts I manage for myself and the Writers’ Guild without having to log out and in. That’s way too many passwords to remember all the time.

So easy! In the top left corner, just click your name and it pops up with pen names to choose from.

And just like that I’m in the Amazon Author Central profile page for my other pen name.

Sometimes change really is good.

Now I have to figure out what is up with all these editions! Six editions for Garden Grove? Four editions, five?

Play around with this Marketplace tab:

I rather like this sort option:

But the first business of the day… adding in that new anthology All Dark Places 3 published by Dragon Soul Press, where you can find my short story “Dark Shadows” published under my darker adult stories pen name L. V. Gaudet. (You didn’t remind me to order those author copies .) You see here below an old anthology I was published in years ago, Mystery In The Wind, with my story “Falling”, also published under the name L. V. Gaudet. (My writing has improved a lot since then!)

Now I have work to do.

Keep writing my friends, and reading, and schmoozing and marketing, and being kind to each other.

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D2D finally brought in the long-awaited print book option. I don’t know when. I haven’t even looked at it in two years.

Note that with their new print book option, you are allowed one print interior or cover change every 90 days. That includes your initial upload. So, if your first cover or interior have errors, your expected options are to wait 90 days to correct one, then another 90 days to correct the other, or pay $25 USD per upload correction. That means if you need to re-upload both your cover and interior file, that’s going to cost you 90 days in D2D jail for first one then the other, paying $50 USD to upload both a new cover and new interior ($25 each), or a variation of the two options.

If you are going with the free D2D provided ISBN, you need to NOT EXPECT TO PUT THE ISBN IN YOUR INTERNAL FILE! At least not right away. (But read on!)

Yeah, I know. You want it to look 110% professional and all the books in bookstores have the ISBN in the front matter.

You can re-load the file later with the ISBN ($25 USD cost to upload a change or wait 90 days!), but unlike others like Amazon, 2D2 won’t give you the ISBN until AFTER you have finalized and approved your book to print.

I was hoping they would have considered that and get a chance to at least re-upload the internal file with the correct ISBN before it goes to publication. Nope. No dice. You do not get the ISBN to include it in your internal file until after you hit the publish button, and then not even right away to try to trick it into letting you re-upload the interior in another internet window that’s still sitting open on that page.

Being me, I stubbornly pressed on, hoping for another chance while at the same time knowing the outcome will be exactly as I suspected it would be. The file I uploaded was already set up for the same trim size. All I needed was to change the ISBN and add that new anthology I have a short story in in the front matter. I guess I’ll wait to see if they reject it and hope I have a chance then to upload the file with the correct ISBN without paying the $25 USD fee. Either way, if it gets rejected or not and I have to pay, I’m going to try waiting the 90 days to upload the correct ISBN interior free.

At this point I feel like I’m yelling at them, “Don’t tell me what to do!”

To me, allowing you to include the ISBN in your front matter whether you have them convert your eBook file or upload your own interior should be an automatic thing. It should not be restricted to the converted eBook file only. My guess is they’re trying to cut their costs on buying ISBN’s by not assigning them until you are committed to publishing it and hit the publish button.

Auto Conversion of eBook to POD

You can, of course, opt to let them convert your eBook file to print, if you aren’t too fussy about how your interior looks.  And, providing you did not upload your own eBook interior with the ISBN embedded in so it can be consistent with your book published through other sources.

You see below my POD front matter, with the D2D eBook ISBN number.

And here, below is where D2D puts the front matter with the ISBN if you chose the file conversion and click the box for them to add it. Why does this look weird to me? I had to go back to the books on my bookshelf. It was a 50/50 shot whether the copyright page was centered or left aligned. They also pretty much filled that page, so it didn’t look as weird to me as this short little blurb in the top corner.

This is all you get with their option to include it with converting your eBook file to POD.

Here’s a closer look of what it looks like from the PDF preview download:

Allowing D2D to convert the eBook file to POD also added almost a hundred pages to the paperback book length of one book when I tried that. Just how big is that print they use?

This second book I’m using as an example is 353 pages printed elsewhere, but D2D’s conversion is 416 pages. That might be fine for a shorter word count, but this is an extra 63 pages you have to pay printing costs for. Printing costs generally are a base rate plus price per page.

Using D2D’s cost calculator, a 416-page 5.5 x 8.5 inch trim size book costs $6.30 to print. March 1, 2022, they have a price increase in effect, and it will cost $6.45 per book to print.

Comparing the 353-page count elsewhere to the D2D 416-page count converted eBook:

  • 353 pages at 5.5 x 8.5 trim = $5.66 with D2D after March 1, 2022
  • 416 pages at 5.5 x 8.5 trim = $6.45 with D2D after March 1, 2022

$0.79 USD doesn’t seem like a lot per book, but you generally are not working with a large markup margin, and this comes out of your royalties. Let’s assume a $15 list price. Your 45% royalties on a $15 list price book are $6.75.

  • 353 pages at 5.5 x 8.5 trim = $5.66 print cost = $1.09 royalty/per book
  • 416 pages at 5.5 x 8.5 trim = $6.45 print cost = $0.30 royalty/per book

You cannot sell a 416-page book for $0.30 royalties per book. This gives you 30 cents USD per book sold for marketing costs before you are losing money.

The higher your word count, the larger you can expect this page count disparity in uploading your own interior vs. allowing D2D to convert your eBook to be.

Interior File for Auto conversion of eBook to POD

If you are going with allowing D2D to convert your eBook file, I strongly recommend sticking strictly to the “D2D Simple” template style.

Most of the interior file options look very gimmicky with junk like magnifying glasses, birds, or whatever that interior style option has, everywhere you have an extra line return spacing out your paragraphs.

I might have liked this when I was eight. Maybe. Garbage.

I’ll stick to formatting and uploading my own interior files – but without the ISBN number in the front matter until the 90 days of upload jail or fine expires. Then I can upload a proper interior file with the D2D POD ISBN number included.

Using Your Own ISBN

You’re probably asking why I don’t just use my own ISBN. Cost, that’s why. Here is a quick Google search on the price of an ISBN for those of you who have to go through Bowker in the US:

Here in Canada ISBNs are free through the Library and Archives Canada. But there’s a catch. Once your book is published using a Library and Archives Canada ISBN, you are required to send them physical copies of your book. How many depends on the number of books produced. Assuming you want to sell more than 100 copies, it would be two physical book copies you need to send.

When I priced this out years ago, between the print and shipping costs for the two books and the postage to ship them to Library and Archives Canada, it was not cheap. I don’t remember what the cost was, but it was close to the Bowker cost. I don’t have a budget for this. The day job that pays the bills, like so many others, pays the cost-of-living bills without wiggle room to invest in my own interests. Your spending money doesn’t go far when you use it for things like school fees for your kids and in-between payday grocery shopping food items. My writing costs have to pay for themselves and it’s not cheap to publish, get author copies and table stuff for book events, and all that. I’m already in the red on this. I just used money I’ve been saving for a few years for a replacement computer to buy a cheap filing cabinet because of the lack of budget for this.

I haven’t even ordered author copies of the new anthology from Dragon Soul Press, “All Dark Places 3” with my short story Dark Shadows yet because that’s also going to cost me money out of pocket, putting me further in the red. I will have to before I do any author events, once those things open up again.

Assuming $1.50 USD net royalty per book, more than the example above, you would have to sell 84 books just to pay the $125 USD ISBN cost. That’s assuming they don’t charge a tax on it. I didn’t look to see if they do.

If I sell that book for a list price of $17 USD: 45% royalty on $17 = $7.65 gross royalty per book less the printing costs.

  • 353 (my own interior upload) pages at 5.5 x 8.5 trim = $5.66 print cost = $1.99 royalty/per book
  • 416 (eBook conversion) pages at 5.5 x 8.5 trim = $6.45 print cost = $1.20 royalty/per book

At $1.99 net royalty per book for my own interior file upload, I still have to sell 63 books to cover a $125 ISBN cost before I make a penny off book sales, without spending any money on marketing.

But Bowker has their reduced price per ISBN deal for a 10-pack!

Let’s say you bough the $295 10-pack of ISBNs. You use two on Amazon, two on D2D, and two on IngramSpark. You’ve used six up on one book. But you want a hardcover version in addition to the eBook and paperback. That’s two more assuming two publishing platforms.

In three publishing platforms, you’ve used 8 of your 10 ISBN numbers for paperback, hardcover, and eBook versions of the same book, because each and every version on each platform requires a unique ISBN number. That’s an ISBN cost of $236 USD for one published book edition. At $1.99 net royalty, you have to sell 119 books across all versions and platforms just to cover the cost of the ISBNs, not including any money spent on advertising.

Also, if you are in Canada and taking advantage of the “free” (not free because you have to mail them copies of your books), you have to send them physical copies for each ISBN used for print books.

That’s why I opt for the free ISBN’s.

But You Aren’t the Publisher Unless You Use Your Own ISBN

I haven’t forgotten this. Yes, the ISBN code breaks down to numbers that identify the country, publisher, and book title. The first two are only included in the 13-digit number:

EAN – Bookland country code.

Group – Country identifier for national or geographic grouping of publishers. Basically, the country it’s being published in.

Publisher – You or the publisher/publishing platform.

Title – Unique number assigned to that particular edition or format of your book title.

Check digit – Exactly what it implies. It’s a check digit that validates the ISBN. An internal control verification digit in ISBN Book Land, which has no bearing on the country, publisher, title, etc.

How important is having this unique to you as a publisher? That depends on you and what you want.

This is what your buyers are going to see. It’s a series of digits catalog number. The only identifier that means anything to them is what you put in your front matter as your publisher identifier:

Interior front matter:

Back cover:

Apparently you can search the publisher name from an ISBN number here, but most people won’t know that and even fewer will care enough to bother.

Update: Results from D2D Review

Fast forward to days later…

D2D has reviewed the book upload and, as I would have been disappointed if they had not done so, rejected it because the ISBN in the front matter does not match.

The good news is that it allowed me to upload that interior file with the correct ISBN without having to pay $25 USD or be in D2D upload jail for 90 days.

I win!

Now, if you’ve thought to publish on D2D, IngramSpark, or anywhere else prior to putting up a paperback or hardcover on Amazon KDP, you’re going to run into a problem with Amazon KDP. Expect them to reject it as being already published by another publisher. Their list of approved correspondence “proof” specifically denies your own pledge of being the author and publisher and wants a third-party letter. Oops to all the self-published writers out there.

Keep writing my friends. Let’s make this world better one emotionally stirring book at a time.

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I like to think I’m not alone in this, but over the past few years with so much feeling useless, first from the surreal feeling of being virtually imprisoned in your own home, relegated to working and living looking out the window at a world untouchable to you, feeling agoraphobic even with the scary new world out there shut down by Covid, a character in a story not of your own making…

Photo by Jr Korpa on Unsplash

Before you read on know that I, for one, am a middle ground person. I like the middle ground. It’s a space for tolerance and allowing more and bigger differences. It’s looking at both sides without having to feel like you aren’t allowed to empathize. You can see the truths and crazy on both sides and know that somewhere behind all the angry posts and memes of people attacking each other is a different world where these people were once perhaps friends, comfortably friendly neighbors, and families that joked over a seasonal holiday meal and hope we will one day return to that world with the devastating rift of these recent years an old fading scar we don’t like to think about. You can stay true to you without taking sides in a fight you don’t always feel is yours to side on and that sometimes, sometimes often, feels like it has gone a step or a mile too far. You can’t mediate the un-mediatable, but you can embrace that small warmth still in your heart and maintain friendships and family relationships with people on both sides of a thing where you can still see it from a different and less biased (because whether unbiased truly exists is speculative) perspective – your own.

The endless days into weeks into months, now passing two years of the world being an utterly alien place of people hiding behind masks, nervously pretending bumping elbows is the new handshake, scenes of grocery store rage when someone gets too close to someone else, doesn’t follow the now worn out arrows on the floor, or takes too long deciding what they want and holding up the whole aisle of people who aren’t supposed to pass… now morphed into two angrily divided factions of the rule followers vs. the equally defiant declaring, “You are not the boss of me!”, both surrounded by everyone else who just wants to get through another day with the shredded remains of their sanity intact.

Your social media groups and friends dwindle as you find groups overrun by political meme bots and trolls erasing all relevance the group had to replace it with a series of false ‘truths’ and memes designed to spread lies and inspire division and anger, and unfriending people who cross a line too far for you in their newly embraced beliefs, or newly empowered to declare beliefs you had no idea they had and subsequently attack anyone with a differing life view from them.

Without the ability to do book events, speak to actual real life people who are interested in your books and writing, cutting you off from any feeling of support in the writing that drives you, that is who you are, and feeling trapped in the unreality of fog of a life completely out of your control where you are witnessing through a computer or phone screen everything going down, people you know falling down a darker version of an Alice In Wonderland rabbit hole of madness into the world of conspiracy theories that deny logic, up means down, truths are lies and lies are truths, everything that is not what they want to hear is automatically a lie, and everyone who doesn’t rejoice in their beliefs is the enemy,…

Adding to that the long dark and short days of a winter that seems colder and has had more bad weather and bad road conditions days, and much more snow than we’ve had in a while. We’ve now hit the third highest snowfall by this date in 150 years here at 156.6 centimeters of snow!

Photo by Elyas Pasban on Unsplash

It’s all made writing and attempting to market writing feel kind of pointless. Okay, totally pointless. Everyone out there seems to be too busy being angry at each other for mundane things like your books. Even trying to write a blog post is a chore you just don’t see much point in. You do a few bits of writing or blogging, promising yourself and all 2.4 followers that you will do better and blog and write more consistently, and drop off the face of the blogosphere for more months without being able to get your head in the writing zone.

And all of this nervous anxiety, stress, and growing frustration that surrounds us all and filled our world like a suffocating dark pall has now erupted into an even more volatile divisive ‘you’re either with us or against us’ mob mentality where for the rest of us it feels that a middle ground is an unwanted by them and uncommon place somewhere beyond the dark mountains of Grimdark, past the Forbidden Forest, and beyond the river deep in the Netherworld that takes you to a new undiscovered world. Canada has erupted into protests of an eclectic smorgasbord of anti-Covid mandates, anti all Covid safety measures, anti-government, anti-anti, anti-protests, and anything else anyone wants to declare anti sentiment to. There seems to be something for everyone and anyone not following any given crowd or other is somehow the enemy. Country border crossing and streets surrounding government buildings are being occupied and blocked off with the gleeful blaring of horns, music, dancing, and street parties with, yes, bouncy castles, saunas, hot tubs, and where’s the beer garden.  They rejoice with a sense of righteousness the growth and spread of this movement to other countries and continents and are genuinely shocked that anyone would oppose and try to shut down their righteous protests. Businesses already sorely hurting from the seemingly never-ending effects of Covid are forced to shut down by the protests and local residents are yelled and sworn at, threatened, and in some cases assaulted in various protests across the country. Hospitals are targeted with slow drive-by caravans and amassed protests meant to intimidate and block access to emergency care as if they are somehow the enemy. The once celebrated doctors and nurses and other healthcare workers are warned to not wear their healthcare uniforms outside the hospital walls out of worry they might be targeted by the protestors blocking their places of work. Schools are made the targets of protests with kids sometimes being verbally attacked by adult protestors for why? Being there? – as if somehow the schools and kids are to blame for safety restrictions, are somehow the enemy too. People have been physically assaulted by having their masks ripped off their faces and angrily demanded to stop being “sheep” at some protests as though their right to choose to wear it is somehow less important than their attackers’ rights to choose not to wear it, and to demand everyone else comply with not wearing them regardless of their health concerns and what makes them feel safe even as they proclaim to be fighting for everyone’s rights to choose.

Photo by Nsey Benajah on Unsplash

All this ever growing boiling up hate, fear, and anger seething around us in an ugly-dark tempest both online and in real life should be a wellspring of writing muse for any writer of darker fiction, right? It’s a million bases for horror stories playing out in the real world like a tangled heap of writhing demonic limbs in a Hades pool.

So why is it so hard to get the head into the writing game? To bring that focus to the muse and stories to life at your fingertips?

Perhaps it’s the real-life horror of having lost people you care about and worrying about loved ones, and perhaps yourself, who are at heightened risk of dying of this disease, people who need to be protected while all around you are the cries of “Me! Me! Me!” and “My rights!”, while their very demands would take away the rights of people you care about and want to protect, perhaps yourself, making them prisoners in their homes, further marginalizing the weak and sick in favor of the ‘rights’ of the healthy.

With all this, I have a confession to make. I have abandoned even trying to market since that first Covid lockdown. I’m still struggling impossibly to get my head and heart into a writing focus, let alone even thinking about marketing. I have abandoned the various blog series of posts I felt I was valiantly committing myself to. And my sales are clearly showing it. I downloaded what I could of my sales numbers for the past two years across multiple platforms and markets to find a consistently round figure appearing again and again, one that resembles a slightly elongated “O” – the ever majestic, or in this case pitiful, “ZERO”.

But at last, there seems to be that glimmer of hope. All the cliches, light at the end of the tunnel, and so on. With the mutation of this hateful disease into something that has once again overwhelmed hospitals with the sheer vast numbers of its now extremely high transmissibility, but has proven to be much less deadly overall, and now those hospitalizations beginning to drop, the world is starting to peak out of our dank dark cave to the new dawn breaking on the horizon. While some governments are caving to the angry political pressure of the protests, others are embracing a more measured careful approach to loosening restrictions and opening our lives back up.

We are finally stepping into that long promised “new normal” of learning to live with a new endemic, but still deadly for some, virus.

So, can we please now get back to writing, marketing, and life?

I am going to start with a three-pronged attempt:

  1. Tackling marketing, essentially re-learning it. My first glimpse showed me new options that I was unaware if they existed two years ago.
  2. Organizing myself and my tiny writing ‘world’, and
  3. Writing. Writing anything: A blog, story idea, story start, editing, revising, progressing WIPs those baby steps our mountainous leaps towards completion.

I ordered myself a filing cabinet. I needed one for years. Probably need two. But I wanted one that matches my desk, aesthetically, and in height to essentially give me a larger working surface. My desk pretty much just fits my laptop and because of limited living space is front and central in the living room. I’ve searched off and on for the past 3-4 years. My partner in life and everything found me the perfect filing cabinet. It’s not ugly, is really quite nice looking, and matches the desk aesthetically and in height. Naturally with the current shortages in everything from paper and wood products to driver and shipping shortages, it’s out of stock and unavailable for the foreseeable future. But I found another one, black and metal, not quite what I want, but the height measures 0.02 inches off from my desk height. I could probably put an area mat under the desk to fix that.

Unfortunately, the nice pretty perfect but out of stock filing cabinet also happens to have a desk designed to match it. So, there won’t even be a small color variance.

Can a writer collect desks like a reader collects books? Anyone want to buy a few hundred of my books so I can afford it?

While I’m waiting on that filing cabinet to be delivered (I LOVE ❤ free shipping!), I’m starting to work on re-learning the marketing thing.

I’m starting on Amazon. And, because my sales have been at or near zero across all channels with zero efforts towards promotion and marketing, It’s like starting with a new slate. I’m going to pick one book and target it alone with one marketing effort. Then I’ll pick another book and different marketing resource. I’m going to run an experiment on myself, targeting each book one at a time with a different marketing effort and see how the numbers play out. I have ten books published under two pen names, but that includes a 4-book series and one that is so far 2 books. So, when I expand into the subsequent series books, I expect any successful marketing on those will also affect other books in the series.

Under “Amazon Ads”, Amazon also has options to register for Amazon Ads webinars and to enroll in free Amazon Ads training courses. It sounds like a grand place to start.

I clicked on the Amazon Ads webinar link and it even filtered it already specifically to “Webinars” and “Book author” advertiser type for me. Nice. It wasn’t immediately clear if they charge for the webinars. They are on demand and you have to register for them.

This is what I found: “Amazon webinars and workshops are free of charge unless otherwise stated during the registration process.” So, I’ll be checking out those. I don’t have a marketing budget let alone a training budget. I need to sell books to have a budget. The ‘pays the bills’ day job helps pay our cost of living bills. There isn’t much of a wiggle there for personal interests to be added to that budget.

The Enroll in free Amazon Ads training courses starts with a “Complete the quiz to earn a badge!” declaration with a “Get Started” button and options to choose course, do the quiz, and take a survey. Teenager number one made a face of disgust and properly done eyeroll at the badge thing.

But hey, let’s earn that badge!


Next Posts:

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Aka Don’t Fall For The Open-Ended Questions Cloaked As Being Meant to Inspire Discussion, But Really Are Open-Leaders For Trolls, Scams, and Pushy Salespeople.

Photo by Sammy Williams on Unsplash

Is it just me, or has social media become more toxic, nasty, and predatory the past few years? I’ve backed off a lot on it because of this. That and the drive for these massive companies to maximize monetizing your online activity has increasingly pushed them to create algorithms that make them progressively less relevant to your wants and needs. At least it has for me.

It feels like this never ending course we seem to be trapped on where divisiveness, anger, hate, and extremes being publicly celebrated and gleefully politicized by politicians and news media is feeding that greedy toxicity monster infesting social media.

Where did all the puppies and kittens go? Every post now feels like a political minefield ready to go off.

Social media is the ultimate double-edged sword. But it’s more than that. The metaphor can especially be taken both ways with social media – of having the possibility of both favorable and unwanted unfavorable consequences, and that it can harm both its wielder and anyone else who gets too close.

(Sidetrack: Now I have to ask, why is it that in a hardcore close-in fight the person wielding the sword in entertainment media – movies, shows, books, etc. – so often does not get cut when they handle the blade which is shown to be so ridiculously sharp that the slightest touch to fabric or their opponent’s skin results in serious cuts, and yet a lesser touch slices their opponent?)

Social media is a cesspool of tainted necessity.

Social media – friend or foe?

Photo by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash

As a writer, having a platform is essential. Publishers and agents look for it. And not just a platform you started last month and have three friends and a few posts because you feel awkward doing it.

Social media is your necessary evil.

You have to have a public face. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, a website, blogging, etc. This public face ideally would be vibrant and established before that publisher or agent gets your query. While they are your target for getting published, the audience is your readers and potential readers.

Having a vibrant and established platform is also time intensive. Self-promotion is a full time job. It’s also more than just posting stuff for others to see. It is interacting with people and building a network of connections – friends, family, associates, associations, companies, fans, followers…

Your readers and potential readers following your public face want to know about you. They want to know about your writing too, but without feeling like they know who you are, that falls flat. They want to feel a connection to you, as a person.

This is where some authors go wrong. The airing of personal opinions can make your fans love you or hate you, all depending on what those opinions are. Remember the J. K. Rowling vs. LGBTQ+ debacle? Publicly airing her insensitivity lost her more than the LGBTQ+ community fans she offended. And then she made the second mistake. With every attempt at defending herself she only dug that hole deeper. Fans who loved to feel like they knew her saw a new side of her they didn’t know existed and they did not like that person.

Social media is also about networking. It’s not just about putting out posts for your readers and potential publishers and agents. You also need to schmooze others in the industry. You want to make connections and friendships with other writers, publishing professionals, readers, and anyone else who can help your writing career.

This means putting yourself out there and joining social media groups. Facebook has more than you can imagine, but not all are equal. Some have too little oversight, allowing the trolls to take over. Some get spammed with junk that has nothing to do with the group and does not belong on it.

These past few years I’ve never seen so many writers groups so spammed by bots pushing political agendas. So much that the moderators cannot keep up and sometimes give up trying. I’ve never left so many writing groups because of the politicized and hate spam posts that do not belong there and were not being moderated out. P.s. this is why I like the groups that pre-moderate posts, having to approve them before they show up.

Now here’s a caution: never ever publicly complain in the group about the posts or virtually voice your leaving because of them unless you want to be publicly tarred and feathered by the trolls. Nothing brings out their claws like someone complaining they are leaving a group. Just go. Quietly.

You join these groups and work to develop a sense of community with your fellow writers and publishing peeps. You make friends and contacts. You comment on and like others’ posts and post your own hoping for meaningful dialogue.

Sometimes that dialogue is meaningful and sometimes it’s attacked by the nasty trolls. I like to block those people who unreasonably attack or pick fights with others. They are not people I want to associate with. And if the group moderators do not bring the hammer down on the trolls in any attempt to control their assaults, then I will gladly seek out a more moderated and friendly group.

Often comments on questions fall in the range from helpful to offering questionable resources.

And then there are the open-ended questions mean to inspire discussion in writers’ groups….

Don’t fall for the open-ended questions meant to inspire discussion in writers’ groups.

Photo by Daniel Lincoln on Unsplash

If you’ve been in any of the writers’ groups on social media, you’ve seen them.

While some of these questions are people legitimately looking to start a meaningful discussion, there are also others posting them with ulterior motives. There is an army of people lurking in social media groups seeking to sell their services, dropping these open leader questions and pouncing on the people who comment on them like the spam calls spoofing numbers ringing on your phone.

They are often also cut and pasted into multiple groups. If you see the identical question popping up in multiple groups, that for me is a big waving flashing red flag.

“Blah blah blah… share your book links. Go!”

“What inspires your writing?”

“How do you promote your books?”

The questions referencing promoting are, for me, the biggest red flags.

The list of examples is endless and I’ve fallen for a few, dumbly leaving my comment among the rest of the comments, to suddenly find myself with a new ‘friend’ (the author of the post) messaging me. Sometimes they are quicker to back off, others are more along the lines of the horror I once experienced sitting through a timeshare presentation for free tickets to the Tournament of Kings dinner show in Vegas.

You know the pushy sales tactic, where (they literally did at the timeshare presentation) tell you that you are a bad and neglectful parent and your kids will hate and resent you for life, and that you don’t deserve to have kids, if you don’t buy into their vacation timeshare. They just won’t take ‘no’ for an answer, try to guilt you into it, and may even resort to veiled threats, ahem suggestions, that not buying their services will harm your chances of ever seeing happiness and will result in the loss of your marriage, kids, and everyone else in your life, forcing you to live a life unhappy and alone (or for writers, book sales).

In this case the kids are your published books, your love life is potential publishers, and the vacation timeshare is paying this person for their advertising and promotion services.

“So why don’t you want to sell any books?”

“Don’t you like your books?”

“Why don’t you like money?”

“Why don’t you want to make money selling your books?”

Falling for commenting on one of these posts a few times was enough for me. It turned me off participating in online discussions. I have an especial dislike for pushy people who will not take rejection, whether they ignored the “no soliciting” sign on my door, leaving me dealing with manically barking dogs with people in the house sleeping or trying to do Zoom calls, or they find the words “No thank you, I’m not interested.” incomprehensible. No means no, means no, means stop asking.

This is why I may be tempted on occasion, but now generally avoid commenting on any open-ended posts that trigger discussions. Too often they are fishing posts. I carefully think about what posts to comment on, be it groups or friends, and still sometimes find I made a mistake commenting on the wrong post. It’s not just those fishing posts, but in the growing toxic online world too many people have become quick to anger if they happen to have a different viewpoint.

This is also why I carefully consider which random stranger friend requests I accept, and which out of the blue stranger IM messages I respond to. Because it might be one of *those people*, the pushy ‘you hate money and your books if you don’t give me money because I promise to promote your books’ people, although more often they are of the widowed or divorced veteran with kids romance scam variety of friend or IM requests.

In fact, lurking instead of commenting leaves me with only the romance scammers reaching out to me.

Keep writing my friends and play safe out there.

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Let’s take a break this week to just bask in our creativity.

Photo by Yann Jacobsen on Unsplash

What gets your creative juices flowing, spurring on sudden onsets of new ideas?

Are you a visual-leaning creative, your muse awakened by things you see? Scenes, scenery, pictures, and the like?

Or perhaps you are inspired by auditory cues? Music, birds singing, the ugly sounds of traffic and the city, or the beatific auditory dance of nature?

Is it the things you experience that stimulate the writer in you with those ‘Aha!’ moments? A scene in a movie, a real world moment you witnessed, the news, or world or community events? Books, poetry, and other literary works? Submersing yourself in all the stimuli of visiting certain places, art galleries, museums, and parks?

Perhaps it’s your relationships with people and pets that you draw on for inspirations, or the opposite, sweet solitude.

There are a lot of schools of thought on what makes us creatives tick. What it is that makes us… us.

Some think creatives to fall into categories like being risk takers who are happier taking on that big project instead of sticking to the boring mundane. And people who are not afraid to face potential failure. For us, failure is a learning curve and mistakes are just the bumps we learn from. In fact, those setbacks may make you want even more to figure it out.

We are willing to be different. We have to be or we’d probably be hiding in some corner writing when no one is looking and never releasing our creations on the world. Status quo shmatus quo, something here isn’t like all the others and it’s you. What others think of you isn’t as important as writing our hearts out.

Have you seen the movie Divergent? That’s you. Instead of falling into step of being who everyone else thinks you should be, doing what they want you to or what they think is ‘normal’, you challenge the boundaries of what is considered normal thinking and perspectives by others.

Some people out there even think we’re weird. That’s okay, because difference is beautiful.

Take some time this week to explore your creative energy, your muses, and your inspirations. Try out new things, new ways to ignite that creative spark. Find inspirations in new places and different ways.

Challenge yourself to try a new medium; drawing, painting, crafts, sculpting, rearranging your room, experiment with cooking, flower arranging, anything goes if you put the creative spirit into it.

Visit a new genre and explore it through reading and writing it. Have fun with it. Are you typically true to a single genre? Then try a crossover that mixes genres together.

Play with shorts. Not the kind you wear, but the written shorts. Micro poems, micro fiction or nonfiction. A single scene or description. Whatever catches your interest. These also make excellent writing practices.

Just for fun, take the Creative Type personality test by Adobe Create:  https://mycreativetype.com/

Adobe Create lists these personality types:

  • The Artist: “The Seeing beauty, creating beauty.”
  • The Thinker: “The Deep thoughts, big questions.”
  • The Adventurer: “The So much inspiration, so little time.”
  • The Maker: “The Committed to your craft.”
  • The Producer: “The Process is power.”
  • The Dreamer: “The power of imagination unleashed.”
  • The Innovator: “Move, shake, disrupt, repeat.”
  • The Visionary: “Imagining the impossible.”

* I got “You are the Dreamer”

Looking for ideas?

Try going onto a page like Unsplash and using a random search word and pick any photo as a writing prompt. Write anything. An external or internal (their inner person) character description, world build the scene or moment, write the action of what is or is not happening. Get creative, poetic, anything that strikes your fancy.

Do you have a music app like Spotify? Do a random song shuffle and write whatever that song inspires.

Go outside. On your balcony, front steps, anywhere you can safely people watch. Just watch and pick a moment to write about.

Or seek nature. If your yard backs onto a river or bush, that’s perfect. Maybe talk a walk on a trail or to a park. Urban nature trails are filled with wildlife, particularly if they run along a river or stream.

If you have any other suggestions for finding inspirations and waking that muse when it’s sluggish, you are more than welcome to share them.

Keep writing my friends and enjoy this beautiful summer weather.

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It’s the age old question. Just how the heck do you write with an 80 Lb dog in your lap?

Maybe you are on a deadline. It might be self-imposed. Or it’s the one moment in days you can carve out of your busy schedule for ‘you’ time, aka writing. It’s a rare moment. It’s that early morning you woke up despite your best intentions to sleep in on the one and only day you can all week, but your mind or body has other plans and you are up, wide awake, but OMG the house is quiet with everyone else sleeping, so you can actually WRITE. It’s the perfect time for it. Maybe it’s simply that the creative juices are flowing or your muse just bitch-slapped you with an idea that you absolutely must get down right now before you forget it.

And, naturally, at that very moment your dog decides life cannot go on without climbing in your lap, on your desk, on your keyboard, in your face, trying to force play time, squirming and wriggling and won’t take ‘No’ for an answer.

Maybe it’s not an 80 Lb dog. Cat? Baby, toddler, kid, teenager, or partner. Your squawking bird, hamster, pot bellied pig, or other pet. They all have the same goal, to have your 5000% undivided attention.

So, what’s a writer to do? Give them a few minutes of total attention and hope they are happy. Deflection. Here’s a toy, someone else to play with, cookie, boozy latte with extra whipped cream (please only try this with adult humans), send your dog outside in the back yard to, “Go find your rabbit” (just don’t tell them it only exists in the world outside the front living room window).

Meow at them or squeak the squeaky toy until they go mad.

Give them a craft, project, job, or anything you can grasp that might get their attention for five minutes or more.

It’s frustrating, yes. But ultimately you have to realize they are bugging you because they love you and are yearning for your attention like a puppy full of energy and starved for playtime.

In the case of the oversized purse-dog, I find the best solution is to exhaust her with attention. Give her some time of hard play, love, petting, tricks for a cookie, rabbit seeking, and ultimately hope it’s not the super hyper loud frantically playing with the loudest squeaky toy in the house while shrieking and riling the dog up under your feet and impossible to string a single thought together because of the hyper loudness kid who takes her attention next.

And, sometimes, you just have to resolve to having to try to single finger type around an 80 Lb dog in your lap because she really does think she’s the size of her head.

 

Above all else….

Keep writing, my friends.

 

L. V. Gaudet Books:

Vivian Munnoch Books (and Roxy photobomb):

Roxy aka The Big Dumb Bunny

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Photo by Rajiv Bajaj on Unsplash

While waiting in the car the other day, I watched an incredible display of nature.

The seemingly mundane and commonplace pigeon.

Not so special, right? Rats with wings, some unlovingly call them.

This particular flock of pigeons were hanging out in the upper tier of a two-level store roof. The decorative section. I’ve seen other birds do the same thing I am about to describe, but never particularly paid attention to pigeons before to witness it.

With some signal I was oblivious to, sometimes cued by a few taking flight from the far side out of my view, they repeatedly took flight in group, falling naturally into their predetermined places like a choreographed dance troupe. In perfect unison they swooped and dodged through the air, a single unit without any bird losing its place. They rose in an upward arc, cut a hard turn, swooped down, arced around again, always in a tight unfaltering formation.

The Snowbirds (the Royal Canadian Air Force’s 431 Air Demonstration Squadron, an aerobatics air show demonstration team) would have envied their maneuvers.

Photo by Zac Ong on Unsplash

I had to marvel at the ability of (seemingly mere) birds to perform such a dramatic aerial synchronized acrobatic display. Does this somehow come naturally? How do they just know when to dive, dip, swoon, swoop, loop, arc, all in perfect unison? Is there some communication we are not privy to? Some telepathic communication? A joined hive brain?

Zoologist Wayne Potts’s (who published in the journal Nature in 1984) research suggests they anticipate sudden changes in the flock’s direction of motion.

Or do they spend hours training for this? Note: I did witness one bird appear to give another hell for getting a hair off their perfect formation when they all flew back onto their rooftop roost before taking off for another run. But, that interaction could have been for any reason. I watched for a good ten minutes while they repeatedly flew off into their routine and landed to take off and do it again over and over and over.

Observations like this can be turned into inspirations in building your literary world. Strangely luminous dust motes behaving in a very uncharacteristic way, mimicking these feathered air dances in an ethereal moment of bizarre clarity as a precursor to a discovery of something beyond this realm. A creature in your world taking on a behavior not natural to it, or one you created for your world that simply does this for reasons unknown to your characters.

Watching the world around is like foraging for story enrichments.

Photo by Timon Studler on Unsplash

Observing people, how they dress and move, their interactions and speech. How they band together, or in the new days of Covid-19 ‘socially distance’ (I don’t like that term. It sounds so… socially isolating.). Like moms clustering on a Facebook group to revel over the awesomeness of each others’ offspring when one of them shares their achievements. Cliques that form in every organization, workplace, and extended group. It is also watching traffic and housing trends. Shopping and dining habits. Social media and news also give insights into how you can twist things in your fictional stories or reveal them in any genre.

It’s more than people watching. It’s observing with a clinical eye.

Nature is rich, too, in suggestions and inspirations for your writing. From watching dogs in the dog park, how the squirrel, rabbits, and birds interact with each other at your bird feeder, to wildlife clips and documentaries. The strange behaviors of birds like the flock of pigeons, or the infamous false Tweets of pelicans ‘cooling off’ by throwing their spines outside their mouths. (Actually, it’s just a yawn and that is their long neck, not their spine). Do, however, research these odd things before using them and deciding how much fact vs. fictional artistic license you want to take in creating your world.

 

 

The world everywhere around you is full of ideas you can twist and form into enriching your stories.

Keep writing, my friends.

 

L. V. Gaudet Books:

 

Vivian Munnoch Books (and Roxy photobomb):

Roxy aka The Big Dumb Bunny

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Photo by Anthony Cantin on Unsplash

A writer friend and published author once told me of how she learned about the power of three. Three times repetition. No more and no less. If something is important for the reader to remember, you should repeat it. Somewhere throughout the story, bring it to reader three times.

And there, I did. In the above paragraph, as an example, I repeated telling your reader three times. (This makes four and breaks the rule, so you can now forget with impunity that I ever said it .) Although doing it all so close together is highly not recommended in your story.

In teaching and learning, repetition again stands out. From teaching toddlers to learning yourself as an adult, remembering comes easier with repetition. Tell me your name once, and you can bet on my forgetting it. (It’s not you, it’s me. I’m atrocious for my inability to remember names, and no, I do not think people are unremarkable or unworthy of remembering. Quite the opposite. It’s just something I’ve always been very bad at.)

And as a parent, who has not found themselves repeating repeating repeating? And then perhaps secretly or unknowingly repeating again while talking to yourself? Seriously, it can feel like no one hears you otherwise in the hubbub of a household.

 

While your thrice said story development spread across your book can help lure the reader into that aha moment when the pieces begin to fall into place at the end of the narrative, revealing that what may have seemed irrelevant now seems obvious, repetition can also harm your story.

 

This is something I’m guilty of. Particularly in my earlier writing. It is also something another writer friend and published author pointed out in a review of one of my earlier books, which was a reminder I need to always be vigilant about it while writing and editing.

That thing is committing the blunder of bad repetition. Even in writing this piece, I catch myself repeating the same words in the same paragraph, and even in the same sentence. It is a terrible habit, and one that can be hard to break. I do it when speaking to people, repeating my words over and over (After years of having only small children to talk to all day?). I do it without even knowing as the words flow from my head through my fingers to the keyboard.

 

Regardless of the cause, and regardless of your actual efforts, It comes across as lazy writing, poor editing, and an oversimplification of the story.

See? In the above paragraph, ‘regardless’ shows its face twice in the same sentence. It might make sense coming out of your head, but on editing, this should be revised. You may mean the same thing, but change your wording, if only a single word.

Regardless of the cause, and in spite of your actual efforts, It comes across as lazy writing, poor editing, and an oversimplification of the story.

Marginally better.

 

The lesson here? If it’s important for the reader to remember, tell them three times over your 5,000 to 150,000 writing piece, and be ever vigilant of your word choices. (I way over-spoke the power of three references in this article. Yes.) Analyze every sentence, every paragraph, every scene and story bit for poor wording, less than ideal word choices, unnecessary and damaging repetitions, and the whole host of other writing pitfalls that can harm your work.

 

 

Keep writing, my friends.

 

 

L. V. Gaudet Books:

Do you know #WhereTheBodiesAre?
Disturbing psychological thriller

Learn the secret behind the bodies.
Take a step back in time to meet the boy who will create the killer.

Everyone is looking for Michael Underwood. HMU picks up where the Bodies left off, bringing in the characters from The McAllister Farm.

Sometimes the only way to stop a monster is to kill it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Garden Grove project is a hotbed for trouble. Who wants to stop the development?

They should have let her sleep. 1952: the end of the paddlewheel riverboat era. Two men decided to rebuild The Gypsy Queen.

12 years ago four kids found something in the woods up the old Mill Road. Now someone found it again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vivian Munnoch Books (and Roxy the photobomb):

 

They heard noises in the basement.

They thought it was over. Then Willie Gordon disappeared.

It started with a walk in the woods … on a stupid boring no electronics and thank you very much for ruining my life camping trip. Madelaine’s life will never be the same.

Roxy aka The Big Dumb Bunny

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Write this scene, any feel, writing style; any genre. This is a rough draft writing practice.

Photo by Daniel Lincoln on Unsplash

 

Paradise

 

The sun sparkling on the sea behind him in a dancing promise of hope fed into the lie that is the beach paradise. The breeze barely breathed on the softly swaying palm fronds. It was perfect. Each second we faced off it felt increasingly too perfect. Off.

This man, who refused to give his name, stood resolute in his defection from the normal. His eyes were narrowed in determination, or perhaps against the sun. His face held no real emotion. Not anger or determination. He just was.

“It’s all a lie,” he said. “Your world. The sea, trees, even this.”

He knelt and scooped up a fistful of sand. He stood again and held the fist out towards me as though I should take it. I could only stare at that closed fist. He waved it towards people in the distance, roaming slowly up the beach.

“They are a lie. Toxic.”

“They’re just people,” I said.

He shook his head slowly at my foolishness. He seemed saddened by my failure to see. This man, this stranger in a weakened paradise, thrust his fist toward me again.

“You would take strength from this… this false promise of a better tomorrow. It never gets better. It’s just another today. This earth,” he started letting the sand fall in a slow stream from his hand, “is weak. It’s is poisoned, pale.”

“It’s pale because it’s sand.”

He stared at me, pale sand trickling in a soft sieving from his fist.

My focus on his face and that falling sand, I did not see the twitch of his shoulder muscle preceding his body moving until it was too late. He had me by the shirt, fabric twisted in his fist as he yanked me off balance towards him, holding me up with seemingly impossible strength.

“I will show you then.”

My mouth gaped open in silent shocked protest; he rammed his fist at it. I was certain he meant to punch me in the teeth, but instead he was shoving sand into my mouth. I choked and gagged on the surprise of it, on its crunchy grittiness and the though in my head of its uncleanliness.

The sudden lurching of my heaving stomach felt like a gut punch. My eyes watered and my limbs felt weakened.

He released me then, letting me fall limply to the ground where I mewled and pawed weakly at the sand. The same sand that was inside my mouth, my throat. I coughed and it was sucked into my lungs, choking me with its grainy dust.

The burning foulness set in then, my tongue and mouth on fire, the sand eating through taste buds like dull acid.

Pawing at my mouth only made it worse. Mewling and simpering weakly in the sand, the granules clung to my hands and I only managed to shove more inside my mouth. My throat screamed with it and I moaned, gasped, inhaling it deeper into my tortured lungs. I couldn’t cry out. Could only gasp weaker as the strength and all of my feeble fight left me.

I lay in the sand softly moaning, stomach dissolving and lungs struggling. My nose was pressed against the sand, breathing in its subtle saltiness.

“If you are still here tomorrow you will be dead,” he said simply. “This place will poison you.”

He walked away and did not look back.

I would have swore I was already dead.

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

What do you do when you just don’t know what to write?

 

It happens to all of us. Okay, maybe not to Stephen King (but it probably has at some point even if he won’t admit it), however it happens to the rest of us. You sit down to write and . . . your mind is blank. That’s where I came up with the idea for this subject. I couldn’t think of anything, so I decided to write about that.

 

But if you really wanted to write, you would just sit down and write. Right? If only it were that simple. The reasons for the blank mind syndrome are as varied as we writers trying to write are.

 

 

Perhaps the biggest culprit is self-doubt. Who hasn’t faced off to that one at some point? You might not even recognize this is the problem because self-doubt can be a sneaky thing. It is the anti-muse of a thousand wicked faces. You don’t know if you can do it. You question how to start, what to write. Will it be garbage? Will anyone like it or are you wasting your time? And those are only a few easily recognized symptoms of self-doubt.

 

No one is going to want to read it. No one will like it. Will even you like it? You doubt you’ll ever be published anyway, or find that ever elusive agent you need to get your work considered by the big publishing houses. You can give yourself any of thousands of excuses that all boil down to one simple thing . . . self-doubt.

 

 

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Time is not on your side. We all get that. Life is busy. How many things are you juggling in your daily life? Full time or part time work; maybe both with two jobs. School, maybe both school and working; homework, studying, meetings, and volunteering. Family, extended family, friends, and pets. Household and life chores, running errands, and meeting your own basic needs.

 

Before you know it day after day has been sucked away and you haven’t had a chance to even think about writing. And, we all still need a little downtime to catch that favorite show, read a book, and just have a little bit of fun and time to unwind from the hectic everyday.

 

In the constant whirlwind of life it’s too often the just for you things like writing that get pushed back and left behind.

 

 

The story has stumped you. Fiction or nonfiction, prose, essay, short or long, whatever it is, sometimes it just stops us dead and can’t move forward. You can stare blankly at it all you want, but that inspiration just won’t come. Maybe you feel something is off, but cannot pinpoint what.

 

I always find that for me if it feels like something is off, then it turns out something is off. Maybe I need to delete the entire beginning, or it might work better moved much later in the story. Something somewhere is off track so the pieces just aren’t fitting together right like trying to force in puzzle pieces that don’t go there. Scenes need to be moved or removed, details expanded on, and bridge scenes created to fill in gaps in the story.

 

Twice I have taken the drastic step of actually tearing up and deleting an entire story, scrapping it completely because it was going nowhere. They still haunt me.

 

 

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

You’ve been away from writing for too long. It can be hard to get back into it after not writing for a while. You’ve been hit by the lack of time, and now it’s compounded with self-doubt. Or maybe life just got in the way and you sidelined writing. Whatever the reason you took an extended break, you feel like you haven’t written in so long that you forgot how.

 

Or maybe writing has been that dream you wanted to do, but just have not managed to actually start yet. Does that mean you are not a writer? No. In the dry technical term of the definition, you do actually have to write something to have written. But self identity is a powerful thing and is what drives you to be a writer. Think of the age old saga of the chicken and egg. The chicken must lay the egg to birth the chicken, but the chicken came from an egg laid by a chicken, so. . . Are you a writer because you felt like a writer and were driven to write? Or because you wrote, which you would not have done had you not been driven to it?

 

 

Regardless if you are having an extended dry spell, have yet to dip your toes into your dream of writing, or are facing off against the inability to make the words flow, the result is the same . . . you are not writing. So how do you get back into it? Or start in the first place? Let’s explore some tips.

Photo by Sven Brandsma on Unsplash

Getting back into writing can be like riding a bike. You never really forget how, but you can feel pretty rusty at it and need to get back that sense of balance and relearn the comfort zone. That takes time and practice.

 

It doesn’t have to be good. Not everyone can write a carefully thought out perfectly planned and executed word by word draft of perfection. If they did, odds are pretty good they actually wrote and rewrote it over and over in their head before committing it to the proverbial paper. The magic of editing fixes all . . . later.

 

 

There is power in small. This is one of my favorite project tools. It’s the same trick I used when overdue schoolwork snowballed out of control for my kid in grade school, or when one of my kids is overwhelmed by the size of a large project. I also use it when I just can’t think what to write when trying to work on a novel, although it probably works better if you actually outline first. I write mostly long fiction. The whole project can be daunting.

 

It is also an effective tool to combat writer’s block in all its forms. Where to start? Start small.

 

Pick a scene. If you have to number scenes and draw a number from a hat, then do it. If it’s something more epic those numbered scenes can be a mix of scenes, locations, characters, peoples or creatures; or anything else. Whatever you picked you must write. Block out everything else to do with the story, write it and own it. Put everything you have into it and make it the best little piece of writing you can. If it doesn’t fit, you can fix that later with editing. You know you’ll be editing and revising it anyway.

Photo by Soragrit Wongsa on Unsplash

 

You don’t have to write chronologically. So what if you can’t think of what to write in the next scene? Is it better to not write and mope over the next scene or keep writing? If you can write something, anything, then do it. Maybe you are on chapter two and the only inspiration is chapter 32. Go write that chapter 32 scene. The rest will fall into place in its time.

 

 

My favorite rule in writing is ‘break all the rules’. There is an overabundance of so-called ‘writing rules’. From the ‘proper’ writing rules of formal writing handed down by the generations before our time to new rules being invented on the fly, rules are everywhere. The one thing they all have in common is that in writing no rule fits every single situation.

 

Sometimes it’s our own perception of what the rules we are supposed to follow are that holds us back from writing. That ingrained fear of breaking a rule. What would our grade five English Language Arts teacher think of us? What would our mothers think? Oh, the horror.

 

Be a rebel. Get reckless. Break the rules. You are not writing a business letter to the CEO of your company or formal fifth grade essay on a book you don’t understand. You are creating literature art. Feel it and let the rules go. Nobody even has to know or read it. It can be our dark little secret. You decide when you are ready to let someone read it.

 

 

Schedule time to write. Ten minutes here, fifteen there, or multi-task it during waiting time. Everything else you do daily has at least a loosely planned schedule. You get up at a certain time to go to work or school. Meals are eaten around a certain time. Maybe you don’t really have anything to do during a spare or coffee or lunch break. Do it while you are waiting for the bus or during the bus ride. When I’m waiting for an hour during my kid’s boxing class, I’m sitting there writing or editing. Maybe you decide lunch on Tuesdays will be your writing block. Once you schedule it, stick to it. It becomes easier when it is habit.

 

 

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Use writing prompts. They are useful when you want to write but don’t have a specific project. A prompt is a tool to get the writing juices flowing. There are scores of writing prompt tools online; everything from random title generators to first lines to subjects or pictures to write about.

 

The point of a writing prompt is to make you write something, anything, about something random. If you can’t get going, start by describing it in great detail, down to every last scuff, scratch, and imagined imperfections that may be hidden beneath the surface. How it must feel in the hand, its heft and balance. How it smells. How it makes you feel to look at it. Imagine who might have conspired to create such a thing; what might have motivated them. Who might have labored to build it? Who would buy it? For themselves or someone else? For pure purposes or mischief? How did it come to be right there in that spot, in that condition, perhaps abandoned or lost, or intentional?

 

 

Edit your work. So what if you haven’t finished writing it? Who cares how long it has ‘collected dust’? Just pick it up and start working through editing it. You have to anyway. Research any little thing. This gets your head back in the game and on the story or poem, or whatever you are writing. This trick doesn’t always work for me the first time I sit down to edit. It might be the third or fourth time, but inevitably the new story ideas start to flow.

 

 

Write something else. If you really are stuck, move on. Work on writing something else and keep that writing momentum going. Your nagging sub-conscious will probably be worrying at that other piece in the background. Go back and revisit the work you are stuck on. I have multiple WIPs going all the time.

 

 

L. V. Gaudet writing hat

Create a writing trigger.  You are entering dangerous territory. Really, you are. Call it a writing trigger, focal object, behavior modifier, your process or routine; or your ‘writing hat’. Anything that works goes, within reason. Let’s keep it legal. The point is finding something that flips that writing switch on, naturally or trained. Like a bedtime routine for toddlers, it switches your brain into writing mode.

 

Maybe it’s going through certain steps to settle in to write, using a particular object, or a certain place you write. Learning to flip that switch will turn on the writer’s brain and its creative juices on command.

 

The problem with this is dependency on an object, routine, or place. Whatever you trained yourself on, if you make yourself too reliant on it, you risk being unable to write without it. Like George Stark’s Berol Black Beauty pencil (Stephen King’s ‘The Dark Half’). Thad Beaumont was an anxious writer, so he invented the pen name George Stark and the writing switch (and Stark’s author ‘thing’ to make him famous), the Berol Black Beauty pencil. Without that very specific pencil, he could not be Stark and could not write like Stark. Unfortunately, because it is a Stephen King story, the fictional Stark became real and sought to terrorize and murder his creator, Thad. Hopefully your writing trigger doesn’t do the same. Fortunately, the Berol Black Beauty pencil does not exist today.

 

 

Get an accountability buddy. Also called a ‘nag’. I’m my own best and worst nag. It could be as simple as marking a deadline on a calendar or making a phone alert; it could be posting promises on your social media, or someone who will regularly ask you about your writing progress. The point is having that niggling in your head droning on at you, “Write . . . write . . . write.” How embarrassing to always have to say, “yeah, sorry. I didn’t write again this week.”

 

Photo by hannah grace on Unsplash

Just write. There is one tried and tested way to get out of that blank mind no writing funk. You have to find a way to write. It doesn’t matter how or when. It doesn’t have to be good. Just. Write.

 

Force yourself to sit down and write something. Anything. The more you make yourself write, the easier it will come. By making yourself write you can spur ideas. I started with *(blank)*, literally. I banged my head on the desk a few times (figuratively), tried to force an idea, and finally settled on, “Fine, I’ll right about not being able to write anything.”

 

I started writing that and as I did, ideas for other things came to me. Reasons for the mind block beget ideas. Thinking of how to break the cycle of being stuck beget more ideas. And now I have a list of other possible future topics. And whatever you are writing, when that other inspiration strikes note it down for later.

 

 

L. V. Gaudet Books:

Do you know #WhereTheBodiesAre?
Disturbing psychological thriller

Learn the secret behind the bodies.
Take a step back in time to meet the boy who will create the killer.

Everyone is looking for Michael Underwood. HMU picks up where the Bodies left off, bringing in the characters from The McAllister Farm.

Sometimes the only way to stop a monster is to kill it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Garden Grove project is a hotbed for trouble. Who wants to stop the development?

They should have let her sleep. 1952: the end of the paddlewheel riverboat era. Two men decided to rebuild The Gypsy Queen.

12 years ago four kids found something in the woods up the old Mill Road. Now someone found it again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vivian Munnoch Books (and Roxy the photobomb):

 

They heard noises in the basement.

They thought it was over. Then Willie Gordon disappeared.

It started with a walk in the woods … on a stupid boring no electronics and thank you very much for ruining my life camping trip. Madelaine’s life will never be the same.

Roxy aka The Big Dumb Bunny

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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