The Writing Addiction

I have an addiction for which there is no cure. There’s no Twelve Step Program to lead me home, no anonymous meetings I can attend to rid me of this curse. This addiction won’t kill me, but it can make me extremely hard to live with.

Dellani Oakes with glasses smallerWhat am I addicted to? The same thing we all are, writing. Regardless of genre, style, or approach, we’ve all broken out in a cold sweat when the urge to write hits us. Ever been standing in line at the grocery store, and the perfect opening sentence hits you like a sack of potatoes? How about driving to work, or taking the kids to school, and a sweet bit of dialogue between the hero and the villain pops into your mind?

Like Tantalus, we wait to commit this to paper, digging desperately in the glove compartment for a piece of paper and a pen. If none comes immediately to hand, we try to memorize it, repeating it over and over in our minds until we get home. Then there had better not be anyone in the way, or they get mown down in an attempt to purge!

Although symptoms may vary, some things hold constant. An abrupt end to a conversation, followed by a mad flurry for a pen and paper, or a suicidal dash to the computer, are early warning signs.

Glazed eyes, inappropriate answers to simple questions, distraction, peevishness, herald stage two.

Stage three may have a sudden onset. No one has been able to pinpoint the exact time that writing addiction becomes serious. However, the symptoms remain constant. The addict breaks into a sweat, the body tenses preparatory to a leap toward the computer. The heart races, nerves jangle, feet tap, tempers flare! Being caught in a writer’s frenzy can get ugly very quickly! Extreme caution is advised.

The delusional among us will way, “It’s not that serious, I can give it up any time.” I want to yell at them, “Wake up and smell the ink!” Denial of an addiction does not make it go away.

Are you at risk? Ask yourself the following:

1. Do you often skip meals or lose sleep because you are writing?

2. Do you let the phone ring, entrusting your calls to the voice mail?

3. Do you lose track of time easily?

4. Do you say to your wife, husband, child, significant other, “I’m coming in a minute! I just need to finish this thought!”

5. Is your desk covered with stacks of random papers and suffocating in sticky notes, all of which have writing ideas, corrections or additions scribbled on them?

If you answered yes to only one of these questions: There is still hope for you. You do not suffer from a serious addiction (Unless it was number 5, in which case you’re out of luck!)

If you answered yes to two: You are in the early stages of an addiction. Intervention might still be effective at this point.

If you answered yes to three: You are too deeply enured to escape! You are an addict! Intervention is no longer effective.

If you answered yes to four: There is no hope, you are hopelessly addicted. However, your need for a fix is not quite urgent, though it is compelling.

If you answered yes to five: Hang it up, it’s all over. You are a full blown addict. Only regular fixes will help you lead a semi-normal life. Writing is no longer just a cathartic high, it is life itself!

I sit here, knowing myself to be in the fifth, irrefutable stage, and sigh. I ask myself, would I have it any other way?

© 2014 Dellani Oakes

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Beating the Block by Dellani Oakes

Writer’s Block – these ominous words send shivers down the spine of any writer. Insidious, it strikes with no warning, clogging the brain, paralyzing fingers, bringing grown writers to their knees. There are many types of writer’s block, each with its own pernicious characteristics. Below, I have listed those which plague me the most often.

1) Mid-Line Crisis: This is less destructive than its brothers, but still annoying. This is the unfinished sentence, incomplete thought or dialogue left hanging. The tortured …. of the soul. Though frustrating, it is not insurmountable. Usually a little brainstorming, trial and error and copious use of the delete button get me past this tiresome creature.

2) Ex Thesaurus: Also known as “What Word”? This usually runs with mid-line crisis and is fairly easy to circumvent. A visit to Thesaurus.com or a quick flip through the desk copy of Roget’s can pull a writer past this hurdle.

3) Post Climactic Stress: Or “Where Do I Go From Here?” The hero has saved the day, villains vanquished, lovers unite, children dance around May Poles – celebration time! All right, where does the story go now? It’s not over, but it needs to be soon. However, these pesky little loose ends suddenly electrify, screaming “Solve Me!” What to do?

Falling action after the climax isn’t always easy. The one question a writer fails to answer is the one readers will point to and say, “Hey! What about this?” To avoid the lynch mob, sometimes it’s better to eliminate a secondary thread unless it’s absolutely necessary to the plot. Otherwise, it’s a trip to blockage category # 4.

4) The Never Ending Story: As much as we might want our book never to end, it must. Sometimes though, we can’t seem to find a stopping place. The book goes on forever, until we get fed up and stop writing, or force an ending.

I have one book that is 873 double spaced, typed pages. Not only can I not find an end point, I can’t even read all the way through it without getting lost. The problem is too many sub-plots. (Hearken back to Post Climactic Stress.) Everything needs resolution, making the book go on forever. It will require a might re-write or splitting into multiple books.

None of these minor blocks are as frustrating as the fifth category. It really needs no introduction because even the most prolific writers have, at one time or another, suffered from it.

5) The Full Monty: Like its name implies, this is full blown, frontal exposure writer’s block. Insurmountable, uncompromising, frustrating, infuriating, aggravating, annoying, constipating….

There are no words at our disposal formidable enough to fully describe this condition.

Any writer who has never experienced Full Monty Writer’s Block obviously hasn’t written long enough. Suddenly, out of nowhere, completely by surprise it strikes! I equate it with being hit by a Volvo station wagon at 90 mph. Maybe an Escalade?

In any case, WHAM! In the face, hard core, heavy metal writer’s block. There’s no way to avoid it. Once in awhile the Muse takes a coffee break and so must we. As frustrating as they are, embrace these blocks. They force us to leave the security and sanctity of our homes and participate in life for awhile. Use this time to observe others or engage them in conversation. Each encounter gives us a little more grist for our imagination mill.

You Call Me Al by Una Tiers

What’s in a Name?
In 1986, Paul Simon wrote You Can Call me Al. Writers often build a platform that includes a distinct name, known as Pen Names.
Pen names (nom de plume) have been used for centuries. Some create distinct identities to avoid confusion when an author writes both fiction and non-fiction or if an author writes in more than one genre. They can separate two parts of a career such as writing and editing, or fiction writing and law. One of the allures about a pen name is that it may keep people guessing about your identity and generate a little internet buzz.
Some authors write under a pseudonym for anonymity, to stand out with an unusual name or to avoid confusion with other authors who have similar names. Others write under a pen name to avoid repercussions much like the witness protection program. In the past, female authors wrote under gender neutral or male names or an initial to disguise their first name, all for the sake of acceptability.
At least one author has used two or more pen names to have multiple articles published in the same magazine issue. Another author writes under different names since he writes more than one novel a year and thinks people will not buy two books from the same author in one year.
Do you write smoldering erotica with heaving bosoms? Want the neighbors to know? Many writers use their legal name along with their pen name to maintain their followers and to bring in new ones with a name that is sculptured for fiction writing.
Pointers on selecting a pen name include using the early letters of the alphabet to and getting close in spelling to a famous author. Names that fit a genre are another point of pen names: Lana Loving, Amber Asp, Derk Alleys or Sky Cubes. Names at the start of the alphabet and those with one or two syllables seem to be preferred. Try the names out in the beta stage to see how they sound to friends and your writing group. Check existing website availability.
Places to find ideas for pen names include my favorite: obituaries and of course the internet. Once you have your pen name, start branding and use it in your website, social networking and book sites. You are working on a clean slate.
Famous writers with pen names include Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain); Jean Baptiste Poquelin (Moliere); Emily Bronte (Ellis Bell) and Esther Friedman (Ann Landers).
Discussion: If you are choosing a pen name, please tell us the two main reasons you did. Thank you.
A special thanks go out the authors in WriteMindsAuthors Group. They are a hardworking dedicated group.
Una Tiers is the pen name for an attorney in Chicago who writes about corruption in the courts. Her debut mystery, Judge vs Nuts has a female sleuth, Fiona Gavelle, and has been described as a humorcide, a traditional mystery, a cozy and a legal mystery.

In the Midst of Madness by Dellani Oakes

Finding time to write is something every author deals with.  Some of us have more time to devote to it than others, but still find that life intrudes.  I just spent the month of November taking the National November Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenge.  While it’s invigorating to test my writing abilities, it also tests my patience.

For those of you who have never heard of NaNoWriMo, I’ll explain.  The participants make the personal commitment to write a 50,000 word novel beginning November 1st  and ending November 30th at midnight.  There are no money prizes, no one reads the novel but you, it doesn’t even have to be perfect, it just has to be done.  For this, you get a caffeine addiction, sleep deprivation, frazzled nerves,  numb fingers, a nifty little logo to put on your web site, a printable certificate and the satisfaction of knowing that despite everything, you persevered!

It’s amazing how quickly life intrudes when I set a goal like this for myself.  Everyone in the household becomes “needy”, particularly my twelve year old son.  Things he could do for himself suddenly take on far more importance, meaning that Mom has to get up and take care of it.  The phone becomes my enemy.  I can go for weeks at a time when the phone won’t ring, but once the November challenge begins, it rings all the time.  I’m not being paranoid, I kept track!  The week before NaNo began, I had a total of five phone calls in a week – one of which was for me.  As of November 1st, I had at least that many a day – and most of them for me.

Meals are another thing that interfere.  Deciding what to fix becomes a major decision that I usually leave to the last minute.  Grocery shopping becomes a task that eats into my writing time, irritating me further.  When I get home, the actual preparation is the most annoying because it’s accompanied by complaints about the meal.

NaNoWriMo is not the only time that these things are problematic, I simply use that as an example.  During any given day, the precious moments I have to get the ideas out of my head and into written form, are limited.  I don’t know about other authors, but my family fails to recognize that what I am doing is actually “work”.  To them, it’s Mom sitting at the computer – again.  Old hat, since ninety percent of my free time is at the computer.  If I’m not writing, I’m reading what I wrote and editing it with a mixture of brutality and care.  The words, “I’m working”, don’t make much of an impression on three hungry boys.

Somehow, in the midst of all this madness, I find enough time to get things done.  The precious words get faithfully added to the text even as my eyes cross and my head hits the keyboard.  Life, though it interferes, is what I draw from to fill my books with lively conversation, anecdotes and action.  So, though I may resent the interruptions, I welcome them, because it shows me that I am a part of life, not set apart – and that is truly a writer’s richest resource.

Writing Adventures…by Karina Gioertz

At the beginning of last year I had only just begun my journey into the world of self-publishing and being an Indie Author. Up until that point I hadn’t ever really considered myself an Author of any kind. Mostly my focus had been on writing screenplays and dreaming of the day when I would see my words come to life on the big screen. Writing an entire book, well that seemed like a rather ambitious undertaking. However, after a meek attempt at getting my scripts out there I had to face facts. While I may be a fairly decent writer I am a horrible sales person. Not only am I awkward and uncomfortable when it comes to selling myself as a writer, I also loathe doing it. Basically I would just like be able to write and then magically have people find my work…

The first book I wrote (Welcome To The Half Orphan Club) and self-published was nonfiction and it was nearly twenty years in the making. My mother had self-published her own version of the events following my father’s death shortly before, so she was there to guide me through what turned out to be an incredibly easy process. It was then that I realized, I didn’t need to go around knocking on doors I hadn’t been invited to in the first place…I could open my own doors.

It wasn’t long after, that I decided to pull out some of my scripts and turn them into novels. It took me a while at first to find my groove, but once I got started I stayed pretty busy. Now that last year has coming to an end and a new year has begun, I’ve completed four novels and am working with the fifth.

It’s been exciting watching the reviews come in and hearing from complete strangers that they enjoy my work. In a way, this year has been all about writing and having people magically find my work. Sure, I’ve had to learn my share on marketing, but it’s been more about letting people know that my books exist rather than trying to convince anyone to buy them.

Writing has always been an adventure for me. Imaginary fun that filled the empty spaces…but the adventure isn’t only on paper. It’s part of my life (which is now the life of an Author – eek!), and I for one, kinda love it ;)

 

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Chapter 4, Proportion by B.Y. Rogers

(If you are wondering what ‘proportion’ has to do with writing, think of it this way. How much do I give to my readers in any scene? Do I give them too much or too little? Then ask yourself this: too much or too little of what? Information related to the plot? Did I take 5 pages to write something that should have been written in 3?  At least that is how I am defining proportion. Your mileage may vary.)

Proportion problems…arise from the same lack of confidence  that leads beginning writers to describe emotions they have already shown.

When you fill in all the details and leave nothing to your reader’s imagination, you’re patronizing them. (AMEN!)

Sometimes proportion problems arise when a writer is writing about his or her pet interests or hobbies. (This is why I mention taking too long to say what needs to be said. Taking 5 pages to show what you want to convey, instead of 3 pages, will bore your readers. There is a great example of this on page 68 of the book, oh, wait… sorry, you haven’t purchased your own copy yet have you?  Tsk, tsk.)

You didn’t read the whole paragraph did you?  (this is from the book. No I didn’t. I was bored by word 11. Again, get the book!)

Proportion problems can arise inadvertently, sometimes through cutting.

So how do you avoid proportion problems? In most cases it’s quite simple: PAY ATTENTION.

A warning: paying attention to your story does not mean ruthlessly cutting everything that doesn’t immediately advance your plot.

Is it really needed? Does it add? Should it be shorter/longer?

Bear in mind that most readers may not find such topics as interesting as you do.

Once you have trained yourself to see how changes in proportion affect your story, you can begin to use proportion to shape your readers’ response to your plot. (Read this post and pay attention to what you want from your readers)

The safest approach is to make sure the material you’re writing about helps advance either your plot or your narrator’s character.

The Day I Fell Down The Rabbit Hole And Landed In Tweetland by J.P. Lane

The day I fell down the rabbit hole and landed in Tweetland

We all hate the marketing part, right? But we all know it’s a necessary evil. I don’t know what your journey through the labyrinths of social media marketing has been like, or where it has taken you, but mine began with baby steps along the pathways of Facebook. Back then, I didn’t have a clue where to begin. I had very few Facebook friends and had yet to discover the groups I’m in today. While I was stumbling through this yet to be explored territory, I fell down the rabbit hole and landed in Tweetland, a place that can suck you in as sure as Alice got sucked in by Tweedledum and Tweedledee in the woods of Wonderland.

Much has been written about social media marketing and I’ve read a lot of it, including skepticism over its effectiveness. I don’t claim to be an expert on the subject, but I will say this: in the past seven months, I’ve downloaded 74 Kindle books by fellow Indie authors. All were promoted on Twitter or Facebook; proof that Twitter and Facebook are good for something.

But let’s forget about Facebook, because Twitter is enough of a discussion for one post. Let’s begin with the fact that, thus far, there’s no measure of return for Twitter. It’s guesswork at best. But based on the 1% – 2% return on direct mail marketing, I’ll hazard a guess that 1% of readers of your genre will buy your book in response to your tweet.

So, one hundred potential readers saw your tweet today and of those, one bought your book. What about tomorrow? And the next day, and the day after that? Faced with the size of the audience needed to sell a lot of books, it seems like becoming a consistent bestseller is completely beyond reach. I hear you arguing that Twitter isn’t the only way. You’re right. It’s not. But Twitter is the great global exchange where all the lines come and go. To quote from the article in Digital Book Today, “With a few exceptions, things that happen on Facebook tend to stay on Facebook. Things that happen on Twitter make things happen everywhere else.”

This means as a marketing tool, Twitter should be taken seriously. I take it seriously and I’m sharing what I’ve learned while hanging out with Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

Tweets, Tweeting and Twitterquette:

We’re all guilty of banging out tweets and slapping them on Twitter, but until somebody clicks on the link to your book blurb that you may have spent days writing, your tweet remains the first impression. So it’s worth investing in time to write compelling tweets, bearing in mind a tweet is like a billboard. You have four or five seconds to get your message across – and make it stick. Avoid hashtags if you can. They just get in the way of valuable words. Because they’re links, the eye gravitates towards them first. Look at a tweet with a lot of hashtags and you’ll see what I mean.

Strategize your tweeting. Keep time zones in mind. For example, you don’t want to be tweeting your UK link at an hour when all the UK has gone to bed. If you’re on a tweet team, don’t tweet or schedule other members’ tweets all at the same time. Alternate your tweets and theirs. This will allow people who want to retweet you to find your tweets easily. The same applies to retweeting. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to reciprocate a retweet and given up because the person’s last tweet is buried under dozens of retweets.

Sign up with a tweet scheduling service. Many are free and they make life a lot easier by allowing you to repeat your tweets, which Twitter doesn’t. A scheduler also frees up your Twitter time, so the time you would have spent tweeting can be spent interacting with your followers – the key to building relationships that will prove valuable to you.

You can’t build relationships unless you interact with your followers. Thank them for favoriting your tweets, mentioning you or retweeting you. Even chat with them if you’re so inclined. Above all, reciprocate if you’ve been retweeted! To quote a tweet I saw tonight, “If someone has bothered to tweet my book, the least I can do is return the favour. It’s just good manners.” Remember, every time someone retweets you they’ve expanded your audience. If ten people with 2,000 followers each retweet you, they will have expanded your audience by 20,000 and increased your visibility significantly. They’re doing you a big favor.

For those who are wondering how you can possibly keep up with all this without being on Twitter morning, noon and night, there’s a magic button on the top left of your Twitter page. It’s the @Connect button. Click on it and it will show you who’s retweeted you, who’s mentioned you, who’s favorite you – everything concerning your followers’ interactions with you. E-mail notifications don’t tell the whole story, so you can miss a lot if you depend solely on those.

Pay it back and pay it forward. You’ll get a lot more followers, and a lot more support. But selling books isn’t the only reward for living harmoniously with the inhabitants of Tweetland. I’ve connected with some awesome people. What were once just mug shots with names attached to them are now Twitter friends.

“Six Ways in Which Twitter Eclipses Facebook” http://digitalbooktoday.com/2013/01/05/six-ways-in-which-twitter-eclipses-facebook/

Free Book Promo Success by Karina Gioertz

After recently having two very successful Free Promotion Weekends through KDP Select I am here to fill everyone in on how it went and what I did to prepare beforehand 🙂
My goal in terms of downloads was 10,000 and I am thrilled to say that I was able to surpass that number both times (The second time, I managed to double it!!) . This meant that I not only made it into the top 100 free in the Kindle Store, but that I made it into the top 10 and maintained my position there all weekend. I also landed in the top 10 of my category (Contemporary Fiction), making it as high as #3 at one point, and stayed there until Sunday night when the promo ended.
I also experienced some unexpected bonuses, such as an increase in ‘likes’ and a new review the first day the Promo started. That was just on Amazon. When I checked Goodreads, I found that the list of people intending to read my novels had nearly tripled, plus I received several new ratings just during the days it was free.
Since then I have also seen a very noticeable spike in sales! Who wouldn’t be happy with that?!
So, want to know how I did it? I’ll tell ya 🙂
About two weeks ahead of time, I submitted my novel to these sites:
Books On The Knob https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dHI3UVVZdTZkWUo3d2w3aDExbXk5MEE6MQ#gid=0
Centsible E-Reads http://www.centsibleereads.com/p/for-authors.html
Free Booksy http://www.freebooksy.com/editorial-submissions
Frugal Reader Freebie Page http://thefrugalereader.wufoo.com/forms/frugal-freebie-submissions/
Pixel Of Ink http://www.pixelofink.com/sfkb/
Free Kindle Books And Tips (They require an average user rating of at least 4 out of 5 stars for consideration) http://www.fkbooksandtips.com/for-authors/
From then on, I continued working my way down the list…
eReader News Today http://ereadernewstoday.com/ent-free-book-submissions/
Bargain eBook Hunter http://bargainebookhunter.com/feature-your-book/
Kindle Book Review http://form.jotformpro.com/form/21078469493969
Ebook Deal of the Day http://ebookdealofday.com/contact/
Book Goodies (also offer great additional services to authors!) http://bookgoodies.com/submit-your-free-kindle-days/
Digital Ink Spot http://thedigitalinkspot.blogspot.com/p/contact-us.html
FreeKindBooks http://freekindbooks.com/author-submissions/
Kindle Boards http://www.kindleboards.com/free-book-promo/
Free Kindle Fiction http://freekindlefiction.blogspot.com.au/p/tell-us-about-free-books.html
That Book Place http://www.thatbookplace.com/free-promo-submissions/
Free Book Dude (another great site offering support for Indie Authors) http://www.freebookdude.com/p/list-your-free-book.html
ebook Lister http://www.ebooklister.net/submit.php
Book Basset http://www.bookbasset.com/contact/
eReader IQ http://www.ereaderiq.com/contact/
One Hundred Free Books http://onehundredfreebooks.com/contact.html
Free Books Daily http://www.freeebooksdaily.com/p/contact.html
KindleMojo http://www.kindlemojo.com/contact-info/
Indie Book Promo http://www.indiebookpromo.com/submit-to-ibp-3/
Frugal Freebies http://www.frugal-freebies.com/p/free-kindle-books.html
Cheap.net http://the-cheap.net/authors/free-promotion-opportunities/share-your-deal/
Awesome Gang http://awesomegang.com/submit-your-book/
Best eBook Reader http://bestebookreaderlovers.com/kindle-authors-how-to-promote-your-book/
Just Kindle Books http://www.justkindlebooks.com/submit-your-book/
My Book And My Coffee http://www.mybookandmycoffee.com/2012/08/free-ebook-feature-not-so-secret-emails.html

Don’t want to commit that much time or didn’t plan ahead? Go here – Author Marketing Club http://authormarketingclub.com/members/submit-your-book/ and simply fill out the forms below to submit to several of the sites listed above all in one nifty place. When you’re done with that, check out the site! They offer quite a bit more than just the free listings…
On the Thursday before the promo started, I visited the Indies Unlimited site @ http://www.indiesunlimited.com/ and submitted my book for the “Freebie Friday Ramp-Up.”
Then, on the day of, I listed the novel on Snicklist, Kindleboards and World Literary Cafe, as well as several Facebook groups I’m a part of. I also sent tweets about my Free Promo to all these People ~
@kindlenews
@freeebookdeal
@IndieKindle
@WLCPromotions
@DigitalBkToday
@kindleebooks
@Kindlestuff
@KindleEbooksUK
@KindleBookKing
@KindleFreeBook
@free
@free_kindle
@FreeReadFeed
@freebookdude
@4FreeKindleBook
@FreeKindleStuff
@KindleUpdates
@ebook
@Bookyrnextread
@Kindlestuff
@KindleBookKing
@Booksontheknob
@Kindle_promo
@IndAuthorSucess
@CheapKindleDly
@KindleDaily
They say that hourly tweets during the promo are best, but who has that kind of time?! I don’t. So, I used a scheduling service like Twuffer.com and spent the days before the weekend preparing my tweets. I made sure to include hashtags like #Free #KindleFreebie and #FreeKindleBook, to name a few…you get the idea.
So, yeah…that’s pretty much it. All of the marketing was completely free and only cost me my time, which was certainly valuable since it was time I could have spent writing, but given the outcome, I think it was well worth spending 🙂
~Karina