2018 Just Might be YOUR Year to Shine!


 

2018 Just Might be YOUR Year to Shine!

Natalie Bright

Goal setting for writers allows you to experience something positive and measurable. I understand how the weeks and months can be unbearable and discouraging. You might surprise yourself with what you can achieve over a year’s time.  Even if the only time you can manage is thirty minutes a day three days a week, by the end of 2018 you’ll have a completed novel! That’s exciting. Be flexible in managing your time, and have goals in mind that are achievable and realistic. Make this process easy on yourself. 2018 is YOUR year! With a little budgeting and planning, the next step is publication, but you can’t publish if you don’t have a finished manuscript.

Write. Then Publish.

It is true that putting your book on Amazon involves minimal expense, however you need to decide how to allocate those funds. Do you want to go the traditional route or Indie?

Do you want a literary agent and a traditional publishing deal?

o       Know your genre. Research editors and agents who might be interested in what you write. Do not send your serial killer horror to an agent who represents romance writers.

o       Plan a trip to a conference. You must go where the agents and editors are. That means you need to attend writer’s conferences. Pay extra for break-out editor workshops where you can meet industry professionals, enter contests with editors and agents as judges, and make certain you have a polished manuscript that can rise above the slush pile.

o       What is the unique hook for your book? What will make your work rise above hundreds of others to become a viable product in today’s market?

o       Do you have an online presence?

Indie Author.

o     Identify your target market.

o     Hire a professional editor, take a class on formatting or hire a service. The book must meet spec requirements so that it can be downloaded successfully.

o     Invest in a graphic designer who can create an original book cover, and make certain you have a polished manuscript that is ready for readers.

o     Do you have an online presence?

o     Enter your book into several contests to boost visibility.

o     Research and determine the best advertising options for your book and your target market.

Crazy Business, Crazy Life

In my own mind, I have everything under control and organized. I did take an online class about formatting only to realize that I will never be proficient at the task. I hate it and I’d rather be writing. The time and efforts of a professional is worth the money to me.

This past month, I laid out guidelines and entry forms for three contests along with my book copies and envelopes neatly addressed. All was in order, and then (thank goodness), I got an email from a reader who found a typo in the first chapter. A character’s name was wrong! What are the odds that a contest judge will find the error? Will it hurt my chances? Most likely. That little snafu, and the time it took to contact the formatter, upload the new version, and reorder corrected hard copies, wasn’t part of my plan. I just barely made the contest deadlines.

I don’t write fantasy, but sometimes I feel like I live in a fantasy world. This writing gig rarely works out according to my timetable. A demanding day job and family keeps me crazy busy, and yet I will keep moving forward because these stories are important to me. I really want to be a successful, published Author.

You’ll be thrown a lot of curve balls and obstacles whether you go traditional or Indie, but all your efforts are worth it when you host your first autographing event. Seeing your book cover on Amazon is exciting. Getting a pay summary and cash in your account is achievable. The ups and downs are normal with every business, because selling books is most definitely a business. Decide now. Is it going to be YOUR business in 2018?

MY 2018 GOALS

  1. Write 52 Monday blog posts for WordsmithSix (a blog for writers)
  2. Write 26 Friday blog posts for Prairie Purview (a Texas blog)
  3. Promote and market every day.
  4. Six books in the pipeline scheduled to be published in 2018.
  5. Write more, remain focused, and press onward.

Let us know what’s on your goals list for 2018.

Here’s wishing you a prosperous and productive 2018, and may you find an overabundance of readers in the New Year!

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Four Years from Now


 

Four Years from Now

Natalie Bright

Are you advancing towards your writing goals this year? We are fast approaching a new year. Have you thought about what you hope to achieve in 2017?

OLYMPIC SIZED GOALS

Joanna Penn, with TheCreativePenn.com podcast, challenged her listeners to think about their goals in four year increments. How can you define your writing career this year, while the 2016 Olympics occurred in Rio? In 2020, the Olympics will be held in Tokyo. Where will your writing career be by then?

This makes perfect sense to me because the wheels of publishing moves so very slow. It’s difficult to realize tangible measurement year by year, but when you look at your accomplishments over a longer period you can see some results. Consider financial goals, completion of a series, or rough drafts of several stand alone novels that have been inside your head. Can you accomplish those goals in four years time? Of course you can!

FOUR YEARS AGO

Four years ago, in the Fall of 2012, I cut my hours to a part-time day job and signed with a literary agent who shopped my middle grade westerns. I’ll never forget that same week I worked the Scholastic book fair at my son’s intermediate school. I noticed that historical titles were missing from the bookfair shelves. It was concerning because the year before there had been an entire section. I asked the librarian about it, and she explained, “They just didn’t send me many this year.” That was the year dystopian, vampires, and with the release of the movie, Hunger Games ruled. My cause for concern turned out to be reality four years later. The stories I loved writing had gone nowhere through traditional publishing route. During that time I hadn’t stopped writing though. In fact I completed three more novels, but it felt like everything had come to a screeching halt.

2016 Rio: What a Party!

In 2016 I made the difficult decision to mix it up yet again and researched Indie Publishing. Seriously, I feel so relieved to be back in control again. There have been so many changes since I first self-published a book in 2010. Moving onward.

Let us know what goals you hope to achieve in the next four years. We will see you right back here by Tokyo 2020!

NEW YEAR WRITING GOALS


NEW YEAR WRITING GOALS

“The only way you can write is by the light of the bridges burning behind you.”
Richard Peck

 

It’s a New Year for writing goals dear WordsmithSix followers!

As I think about my writing goals for 2016, the above quote from the award winning playwright and children’s author Richard Peck really speaks to me. What it says to me is that writing is more than just a “mind” exercise. We grow and improve each day. Every story we finish and submit, or shove into a desk drawer, is a lesson in grammar, character development, and plot structure. The hardest part is to keep pushing ourselves forward.

The year 2015 was sluggish for me. I’ve got two middle grade novels and a picture book out there that’s not garnering much interest. We’ve put one novel “on the back-burner” as my agent suggested. To keep busy during “the wait”, I’ve been researching and writing nonfiction articles for magazines, submitted work to several anthologies, and posted tons of blogs for various sites. I really kept on task .

Is the purpose of my writing just to keep busy? This isn’t writers block. I’ve got loads of fiction ideas in various stages of completion. What I’m lacking, I’ve decided, is heart. The heart to stay with one writing project, make it the most phenomenal story I can, and see it to the end.

Quality, NOT Quantity.

As I stare at the 2016 goals sheet, I’ve decided to forget about striving for daily word counts and endless list of contests to enter. Instead, I’m considering what are some of my weak points that I can improve upon in the New Year? How can I write the best book of my abilities and then, make it even better?

Who knows if my work will ever be read in 2016, other than by my WordsmithSix critique group? So many things in this business are beyond our control. I want a new project that will remind me of how fulfilling and fun writing can be. Which unwritten book will I come to every morning with excitement? Which story spark can’t be ignored?

Once I have the answers to these questions, that’s the spark I’ll write on the goals sheet. That’s the one I shall pour my heart into.

 What about you? What’s your writing goals for 2016?

“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.”
William Wordsworth 

Wishing you a blessed and productive New Year!

 

Fictional Characters with Family Traditions


Fictional Characters  with Family Traditions

By Natalie Bright

As you develop your characters and identify their quirks and traits, consider their past family experiences and traditions. These incidents shape their personality and can add depth to your story.

Holiday traditions can leave heartfelt memories or tormenting heartache. Is this something that can play into your characters motivations, or become a component of your plot?

Dig Deep and Draw From the Things You Know

Holidays always make me think of my grandparents. I never realized how much I would treasure those memories. For my mother’s family, it was a bustling affaire of preparing the meal, watching football, and opening gifts with cousins. My grandmother planned the menu months in advance, and my aunts and mom arrived early to help.

My in-laws, on the other hand, arrive right at the appointed meal time and leave shortly thereafter. Plans are made at the last minute. The holiday with them seems strange and awkward, leaving me feeling that something is missing. After 28 years of marriage I’m still not used to their way of doing things. The experience only makes me miss the holidays of my childhood even more. So does that past memory affect my attitude? Of course, it does.

What about you and your memories? How can past experiences create tension, either external or internal, for your characters? These past memories might cause resentment, deep depression, intense joy, or a myriad of emotion.

A Past Life

Think about creating a past for your character. Where did their parents come from? How did their parents meet? Where did their grandparents live? Did they even know their grandparents? If not, why?  Maybe the main characters’ mother wasn’t welcome in her family home, and what if your character has to know why. This might not be your primary plot, but it could be a component of your character’s make-up and motivation as to why he/she acts they way they do. You see where I’m going. The possibilities are endless. You may not use even a fourth of this information in your story, but you need to know these details about your main characters and major villain.

You’re on a roll now, so keep going. Childhood experiences? Most frightening time? Most embarrassing time? Childhood friends? Worst enemy? Favorite uncle? Hated aunt? What about that evil sister-in-law who joins a cult and becomes dependent on pain killers? Self-centered brother-in-law? Famous cousin? Wealthy grandfather? How do these people influence your character’s moral fiber?

Write On My Friends!

2013 was a great year. Goals were realized, I garnered a few thrilling publishing credits, and received several devastating rejection notices which means my work is getting out there. I leave you with the most inspiring message for me, one that I heard repeated many times during 2013: keep writing. Finish. Submit.

Thanks for following Wordsmith Six.

nataliebright.com

Selling Books for 25 Years


Selling Books for 25 Years

by Natalie Bright

The Amarillo Downtown Library hosted a reception this month to celebrate Jodi Thomas’ 25 year career as a published author. With millions of books in print, numerous awards, and four RITA’s, the prestigious golden statue from the Romance Writer’s of America, this lady deserves a celebration. We also recognized ten years of  The Jodi Thomas Fan Club, which can boast of a membership that spans across the country.

Her fans in Amarillo were delighted to have an autographed copy of the newest historical, PROMISE ME TEXAS (Berkley), the 7th novel in her popular Whispering Mountain Series. Jodi shared news about her upcoming projects, reminding us that inspiration continues to come from the members of her fan club. She knows that we’re anxiously awaiting each and every one.

Autographings and Booksignings

She recalled how early in her career she’d pick an area of the state and cold call bookstores to schedule events. Her husband, Tom, would help load the car with kids and boxes of novels and they’d set out on a weekend road trip to sell books.  Her private dream was to make the New York Times Bestseller List some day. Meeting as many librarians and bookstore owners and people as she could, she never lost sight of her dreams. Many times these connections paid off resulting in invitations to speak at fundraisers, book clubs, and writer’s groups.  I’ve learned from Jodi that you can never have too many people in your network because you never know where those connections might lead. She advised me early on to start a contact list of these people and include them in every mailing.

Setting Goals

Jodi mentioned that her current goal is to write 25-30 pages a week. My jaw dropped. That’s about 7500 words! Every week! I’ve been friends with this lady for some time and I know her plate is loaded with grandkids, guiding college students as Writer-In-Residence, co-chairing a week long summer writing academy and newly elected RWA Board member.  She’s no different than the rest of us, except she’s got 39 novels under her belt.

It’s like one of her long time critique partners stated. DeWanna Pace observed that Jodi Thomas “had the same 24 hours as everyone else does who sets out on the writer’s journey and, yes, life got in the way many times. But she always found a way to shift her strategy and made it all work in the end. She never missed an opportunity to learn more, write more, network more, to help other writers, and meet each goal she set for herself.”

The Truth about Selling Books

Selling books is an endless marathon. Don’t kid yourself into thinking otherwise. A newly published author shared her excitement and told me that her book is with a smaller house so she’ll have to do all of the marketing herself. I’m happy for her. Every publishing credit is thrilling, but the ‘who’ in promotion is a misguided belief.

Bestselling authors do their own marketing too. It never ends. The writing, the advertising, the blogging, the speaking, the selling; successful authors do it all. This business is not for the faint of heart. It’s the hardest work you’ll ever do.

Selling More Books

I stayed after Jodi’s event to help clean up. We carefully wrapped the glorious RITA’s in bubble wrap and packed away mementos symbolizing a writing career that began with the first sale in 1988. We carried boxes of leftover books, pens, bags, and bookmarks to Jodi’s car. Before driving off, she asked me for the Fan Club poster I’d made, a 10-year picture collage of memories. She had a bookstore event the next day and thought it would look good next to her autographing table. I watched this amazing author, teacher, and a dear friend of some twenty years drive away. I suddenly realized that there hasn’t been a time that I’ve known her when her car wasn’t filled with boxes. She’s living the dream. Still selling. Still hauling books.

Go to www.jodithomas.com to learn more about Jodi Thomas, New York Times Bestselling author of contemporary and historical novels.

Happy book selling Wordsmith Six friends!

www.nataliebright.com

 

Resolved


Outtakes 21

Resolved

January 1, 2012 is closing in fast. I can’t believe there are only thirteen days until the New Year begins. I’m not much for New Year’s resolutions as I break them within 48 hours. However, I am setting my writing goals for next year. Here they are; short and simple, and I hope my critique partners hold me to them.

  1. Get organized. Since starting the blog, I realize I need a good system for tracking topics and making sure they are done on time. I also need to keep better records for submissions and Frontiers in Writing conference details.
  2. Write and mail the checks for my Panhandle Professional Writers and Oklahoma Writers’ Federation Inc. dues. I keep forgetting to do that.
  3. Follow-up on Fall 2011 submissions.
  4. Complete the publicity plans for Frontiers in Writing.
  5. Complete the final edits for my novel HOW DO YOU LIKE ME NOW.
  6. Submit the first thirty pages of the novel to a potential editor.
  7. Write down the lyrics to the songs I’ve written for my Sunday School class. Other teachers are asking for them.
  8. Learn more about using social media to promote my work.
  9. Start a new project.
  10. Lose another fifteen pounds. Okay, that doesn’t have much to do with writing. But getting a little more weight off will help my blood pressure, increase my stamina, and make me more productive.

If you haven’t set your writing goals for 2012, now’s the time to get to work on them. Goals are good for us. They provide a path to improving our productivity and better our chances for publication. If you are a beginner, start small. Keep track of your progress, and mark accomplishments as “Done”. You’ll enjoy seeing the list get smaller.

I wish you all a happy and productive 2012.

Cait Collins