Chaos in a Teacup – Part 3

dellani photo dark redThis series of articles were inspired by several author friends who have expressed awe at my organization (rude snort) or have complained about blogging. Since I’m not one to tell the truth, when fabrication will do, I thought I would throw off the veil of misconception, and reveal my less than stellar organization methods, as well as give a few blogging tips.

One major complaint my author friends have is that blogging is tedious and they don’t have the time. Time is a factor, yes, but with a little imagination, you can work out those issues. You need not do it on the day it’s due. Blog Spot and Word Press allow you to post things well in advance. When you have a few minutes, instead of watching Netflix, or chatting on Facebook or Twitter, go to the blog and cut and paste a few quotes. If you have them all set up with the copyright, links and any tags you want, you can do it very quickly. Get a system, streamline it, and go for it. Do what you can, come back to it later, do more.

CUT AND PASTE ARE YOUR FRIENDS! Learn to use them to your advantage.

Is it tedious? Yes. Boring? You bet. But I put on good music, open my files and can hammer out a full month in a couple hours. You needn’t do daily posts, unless you wish to. You can do every other day, a two days a week, or have one specific day each week that you post. Whatever you choose, be consistent. Don’t promise to post something new every Sunday, and fail to do it. And for goodness sake, don’t keep saying “I’ll write something soon!” No one has time for that.

A lot of my author friends have said that they didn’t get a steady following, so why bother to blog? The problem isn’t blogging, or the readers, it’s you. You must give your audience something new, or they’ll quit coming by. Give them a fun quote, a snarky comment, a deleted scene that you pulled from the book, an interview with one of the quirky characters – anything to keep their interest. I gave a lot of ideas in part 2 of this series.

By the way, it’s okay to post the same stuff in separate locations. Not all readers follow my Blog Spot, or Word Press Blogs. A select few follow both, but mostly they’re separate. I also have a separate following on Cereal Authors, though there are a few who have drifted over to Dellani Oakes. I make sure to link my Character Quotes and other excerpts, to that main blog.

Find friends who blog, ask them to share your snippets and articles on their pages, share theirs, help others with book launches. Their fans will visit your page, and they can look to see what you have as well. Each new hit is a feather in your cap.

It takes a lot time to build a platform. This doesn’t happen overnight. You can Tweet, Instagram, flood Facebook, tangle yourself up on Good Reads, and still not reach the people you’re after – readers. They want something to read. Readers are far less likely to want an article on How to Write. They don’t care about author resources. They aren’t in the writing business. Instead of making yourself crazy with a bunch of posts on grammar and story building, select bits of your stories and share them.

Feed the need and blog like ya mean it.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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Chaos in a Teacup – Part 2

dellani photo dark redThis series of articles were inspired by several author friends who have expressed awe at my organization (rude snort) or have complained about blogging. Since I’m not one to tell the truth, when fabrication will do, I thought I would throw off the veil of misconception, and reveal my less than stellar organization methods, as well as give a few blogging tips.

Because publicizing is an all important job for an author, I blog a lot. I try to have things posted daily on the Cereal Authors Blog, with two days a week on the Dellani Oakes Blog and another two days a week at Writer’s Sanctuary. This is a lot of work! Since each blog gets a slightly different audience, it’s also important.

Many authors tell me that blogging is confusing, time consuming, boring, frustrating, etc. They forget, can’t be bothered, don’t have time…. You name it, they have an excuse. No, it’s not fun. Yes, it’s tedious and frustrating, all those things, but it does get you more visible as an author. Someone can Google my name and get nearly a dozen pages of hits. I’ve watched that number grow over the years, and I’m very proud of it.

I decided to address these complaints about blogging, hoping to help my author friends with their own exposure. Once you get the hang of it, it’s really not that hard. Each of these tips took me a long time to come up with, because I’m fucking slow on the uptake (Yes, I cursed. Ooops…)

What to Blog:

Many of my friends seem to think they have to blog an article. They don’t have enough ideas, don’t have time to write, blah-blah-blah (You get the idea) Unless they’ve written only one book, there is an easy fix for this – blog excerpts, quotes and snippets from your books. Whether they are finished or not, you can use the quotes daily. My dear friend, JD Holiday, gave me the idea of posting daily Character Quotes, which I do at Cereal Authors. Grant you, I’ve got 162 books both finished and unfinished, so I have a lot of material. Not everyone has that, but it’s a starting place.

Write short stories and share them in serial form. That’s where the idea of Cereal Authors came from, sharing our stories a bit at a time. I also do it on my Dellani Oakes Blog. I’ve shared close to a dozen full length books, a couple of typed pages at a time, over a year or so. It gives people a feel for my books and, with luck, they will go buy some of the others.

As I read through and edit my books, I collect character quotes. I take a few lines of dialogue and post them daily. To make this easier, I have (finally) learned to set them up ahead of time. I keep files of Character Quotes, marking each book with its title, so it can be found. At the end of each piece, I put the copyright date, a buy link and a link back to my Dellani Oakes Blog. Once they go live, I share them on a variety of social sites.

Sample Character Quote Post from Savage Heart – Historical Romance:

Smirking, Sailfish kindly averted his eyes, still holding out his hand. “You should have checked the brush before squatting,” he told her as he lifted her to her feet.

“Sorry. We had dogs at home. Snakes weren’t often a problem, and certainly not by the latrine.”

“Next time, check.”

“Next time I’ll know to.” She smiled her thanks, blushing.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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For longer scenes, I share things like I Love Dialogue, Sexy Without the Sex, Vile Villains, Notable Narrative and First Meetings.

Most of these are fairly straight forward, but with Notable Narrative, I pick descriptive passages that appeal to me. Sexy Without the Sex is exactly what it sounds like. I take titillating scenes, which don’t contain the actual act, but are still kinda hot.Vile Villains is fun. I pick a bad guy, any bad guy, from one of my stories, and share a scene.

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I’ve done character interviews with my leads, and posted them. I’ve interviewed myself about this or that book, and used them. I pull songs from the books and do Music Behind articles, with links to the music videos on You Tube. Sometimes, I put up Quite a Character posts. These are about characters in the books, who aren’t necessarily the main one, but add a lot to the flavor. I like bizarre, outspoken, opinionated, quirky characters. Why? Because, if you look at your life hard enough, you know a guy like that, or a girl like her. Some of my favorite people aren’t the main leads, but are these interesting secondary people. These are the guys who would win the best supporting actor or actress award.

Another thing I’ve done, is copy sad scenes from my stories. No matter how much I like upbeat tales, they aren’t interesting, or realistic, without problems and tragedy. I call these Tear Jerkers, and I have a good few saved up to share.

When you get right down to it, just about anything can be used as a blog posting. It doesn’t have to be an educating article, or something relevant that’s jerked from headlines. People get enough of an information dump just sitting down the web surf. What I try to do is give them a couple of minutes to take them away from that. It might be a snippet of dialogue, a hot scene, or a touching moment – whatever it may be, for that space of time, they are in my little world with me.

Blogging is only as hard as we make it for ourselves. Keep It Simple Stupid.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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Chaos in a Teacup – Part 1

dellani photo dark redThis series of articles were inspired by several author friends who have expressed awe at my organization (rude snort) or have complained about blogging. Since I’m not one to tell the truth, when fabrication will do, I thought I would throw off the veil of misconception, and reveal my less than stellar organization methods, as well as give a few blogging tips.

I’m not the most organized writer around. I describe my writing style as Chaos in a Teacup. It’s contained, but whirling around like a hurricane. I don’t outline, I don’t plan. I begin with a sentence that hops into my head, and run with it until the voices take a break. Sometimes, that’s a day, a week, or a month. Once in a while, the story is finished. Other times, it stalls and I have to wait for inspiration once more.

I am slightly better on organization, but I’m still standing on shaky ground. I have some friends who use Scrivener to organize themselves, but I can’t be bothered to figure it out, so I just use my freebie Open Office. It works for me. I don’t do spreadsheets, fancy files, or anything elaborate. I’m far more Old School. On my desk are four 3-ring binders. These are the small ones, which hold an 8 ½ by 11 inch piece of paper, folded in half.

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Old School Organization Works for Me

In these notebooks, I keep the all important cast sheets for my many novels. The one for the finished stories is bigger than the unfinished. It wasn’t always like that, but I’ve made a lot of progress in the last four years. I set a New Year’s goal of finishing a book a month. I don’t always do it, but I usually get at least 10 books a year that way.

But I digress. One notebook for finished, another, smaller one, for unfinished. The two others hold notes and spare paper. Next to them, there are two index card files.

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Black is Finished, Gray is Unfinished

These hold the finished and unfinished protagonists. Since I write predominantly romance and romantic suspense, these are in pairs. I list each by name, book, who their significant other is, sibling and parent names, any children, and what other books they’re in, among other things. These are color coded with a pink line at the top for girls, a blue one for boys. Like I said, Old School. Not a fancy system, but an easy one to keep up with.

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Character Index Card Sample

I’ve always held to the KISS principle (No, not the rock band) Keep It Simple Stupid, or as I learned in Mary Kay, Keep It Simple Sweetie. Since I’m much more the former, and a lot less of the latter, I use Stupid. This little system of mine, low tech as it is, has taken me a long time to perfect. Many of my early books don’t even have cast lists, chapter and page numbers, or the exact date I started and finished them. There’s this Oh, I’ll Remember feeling, which is a bald faced lie.

You Won’t Remember. Write It Down! I’m here to tell you, with 110 finished novels and novellas and 52 unfinished YOU WILL NOT REMEMBER!

I keep lists of characters, even minor ones, because I have this habit of bringing in a character to do a job, only to find him or her important later. In fact, I recently was writing a romantic suspense, and I introduced a character, whom I thought would be the male lead. To my surprise, he took a back seat, and another guy, a minor character (I thought) became the lead. I hadn’t even given him a name, and had to go back and do that. That’s happened more times than I can count. I had one character, in another book, who was merely called The Hungry Actor. When he took on a bit more of a role, I had to name him, too.

My point in all this: Keep a List! You’ll need it. Don’t rely on your memory. When you’re deeply embroiled in chasing down plot bunnies, you won’t remember your own name, let alone some girl you brought in on page 3.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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