Ever heard of HARO? It stands for Help a Reporter Out, and it’s basically reporters or journalists looking for interviews or information to help them create their articles, books, or news stories. It’s the perfect way for writers to get their name out there and to increase their credibility. The more you can get your name out there, the better it will be for your career.
I know I’ve mentioned this before, but the best part is it’s free. With just a little effort on your part and absolutely no money, you can be quoted or featured in articles all over the internet and in print. Most places will even let you include a link to your website, your blog, or to a social media account.
Here are some of the places I’ve been featured, just from answering questions for HARO. Keep in mind these images don't represent the entire article. They show only the title and my quote.
Perfecting your book pitch can be hard. In fact, I know I have a lot to learn myself. If my current book pitch didn't need to be improved, I'd have more agents asking to read my full manuscript. And that simply hasn't been the case.
Today I stumbled upon this free webinar all about perfecting your book pitch. And the best part? it's free.
I signed up, and I can't wait until April 7th. Will you join, too? If it helps us do a better job pitching our books, isn't it worth it?
You can sign up here: http://www.spreecast.com/events/the-art-of-the-book-pitch
One of the essential parts of being a good writer is reading - a lot. Consider it research. At a writing conference last year, one of the presenters said that we can see everything a writer does to be successful right there on the page. It's not a mystery. It's clear as day and right in front of our faces. We just have to slow down and really see the words, the sentences, and every page.
This will be the start of a new series. When I find authors who do it right, I'll feature them and analyze some of their techniques, creative ideas, and how they broke traditional rules to make something incredible.
So, introducing "Atlantia" by Ally Condie.
I've been waiting for a book that pulled me in and left me wanting more. Finally, I discovered "Atlantia" by Ally Condie. From the first page, I was hooked, and I loved the direction she took this book. Here's what she did right:
1. Chose an Non-Traditional Mythical Creature as Her Main Character
There are a ton of books about fairies, witches, and dragons. Instead of using any of these mythical creatures, or any others just like them, she chose something completely different - a siren.
I, personally, have never read a book from a siren's point of view, and it was refreshing. What a fantastic idea! Traditionally, sirens are seen as mischievous, dangerous, and murderous. You're never shown the humanity of such creatures. Condie changes all that. She made sirens multi-dimensional, relatable, and - believe it or not - likable.
Now I feel inspired to do some research on notoriously "evil" mythical creatures, and then use one of them as my main character. It will be a challenge, but if it turns out similar to "Atlantia" in any way, it would be well worth it.
2. She's an Expert at Creating a Dystopian Society
This isn't the first book I've read by Condie. A few years ago, I read the "Matched" series, and I loved those, too. Those books were also based in a dystopian society, as is "Atlantia". The cultures and societies she builds are solid, stable (as much as they can be for a dystopia), and they're intriguing, the latter being the most important part.
In "Atlantia", there are two societies, one above the water and one below. They've worked together for years to help each other survive, but there are too many secrets and lies for it to last any longer. It's all about control, confusion, and manipulation - all three essentials to a dystopian novel.
3. Meaningful Character Names
Sometimes a good story is all about the details, no matter how trivial they may seem. Condie didn't just pull her character names out of a hat. She had to put some thought into it. For example, some of the character names of those who live under the water in Atlantia include: Rio, Bay, Oceana, and Maire (which is pronounced the same as " la mer" in French, which means "the sea").
All these names just helped to solidify this story and the society she created.
If you haven't given this book a try, or any others written by Condie, put it on your list. You won't be disappointed. If you want to give her "Matched" series a try, you can find them here:
I've flirted with the idea of joining a writing association for many years. I've never pulled the trigger...until now.
After my fantastic experience with a writing conference and a writing workshop, hosted by ANWA, I couldn't deny the benefit I would get from it. The sole reason for joining is to take part in the writing critique groups they hold monthly.
And, really, it comes down to two bucks a month. I can handle that.
Have you joined a writing association? Do you enjoy it?
In this post, I talked about going to the ANWA Writers' Conference last year. It was absolutely fantastic. So, I jumped at the chance of attending their local one-day writing workshop. There were two tracks to choose from. I picked the one about perfecting the writing craft rather than self-publishing track.
The first half of the day was a presentation and discussion with Janette Rallison about the basics of writing, including plot and characterization. I did find most of the discussion quite basic, which is great for those starting out, but I’ll admit that I was hoping for a little more in-depth discussion. Even so, it’s always good to get back to the basics and make sure your foundation of knowledge is strong and stable.
I’ll be honest; if it wasn’t for the second portion of the day - workshopping our own work - I probably would’ve spent my Saturday at home. I would have left politely. After all, I teach all this to my students.
However, I was pleased that Rallison gave each of us a copy of one of her books - My Fair Godmother - asking that we read it and review it on Amazon. I can't say no to a free book, and I look forward to reading her writing to see what I can learn from it.
Want to read her book yourself? You can find it here:
I enjoyed the second half of the workshop more than the first. To sum it up in one word - humbling.
Everyone on track two brought the first six pages of their book, and then it was workshopped. I received a lot of great feedback, feedback that I should've already known. I find that it's so much easier to see faults in the works of others, and it is harder to see it in your own. But after the flaws are pointed out, they're glaringly obvious.
Janette Rallison was in the critique, too, and I was honored to get feedback from a published - and successful! - author.
Now I know what to work on, and that will carry through the rest of the book.
So, the big question is: would I go again next year?
The three hours of workshopping was well worth the $50 I paid. The free book was icing on the cake. And, after all, who doesn't love cake and icing?
I'm an adjunct creative writing professor and freelance writer, but I dream of being a published novelist. This is my journey.