SOCIAL MEDIA


SOCIAL MEDIA
Natalie Bright

Join us here at WordsmithSix this month for posts about Social Media. Let us know your thoughts, too. Which are your favorite social media platforms to tell others about your books?

Now, more than ever before, authors can find and connect with their readers directly through Social Media. There are so many options. Start with the ones you like. If you’re not on Twitter and have no idea what a “tweet” is and how it would relate to your writing, don’t do Twitter. You’ll just come off as fake.

Readers love connecting with their favorite authors. I know that I do. I follow my favorite authors on all of their social media platforms. I seem to spend the most time on Instagram and Pinterest, but you can also find authors on Facebook, Twitter, BookBub, Amazon Author Pages, and so many more. Here’s a great article I read last week on the BookBub Blog about how authors can use Pinterest. Click here.

Happy writing!

Tools and tips – Grammarly


Tools and Tips

Grammarly

Rory C. Keel

Grammarly is a web or desktop editor, that can be used as a browser extension by most popular browsers. An app for iOS and Android platforms is available also.

While the basic service is free, other services of this program come with the Premium version for a monthly or annual fee.

The free version of the program has most of the features of the Premium version. For the casual writer or blogger, it is the perfect program to give your writing that second look.

For the more in-depth writer, the Premium version is well worth the money. The ability to set goals for each project of your writing is a fantastic feature.

As a writer, Grammarly has set me free while writing my first drafts. The old habit of editing while I go, always slowing me down instead of focusing the story, has been resolved. Now, I write without worry, knowing that Grammarly will catch the grammar, spelling, punctuation, and even wordiness in my long sentences.

Try the free version you have nothing to lose. For me, Grammarly Premium is worth it.

HASHTAG IT! Twitter for Writers


HASHTAG IT! Twitter for Writers
Natalie Bright
Hello Writers; I Hope this finds you safe. Have you thought about turning to Twitter for submission opportunities, publishing news, and inspiration? You can follow specific hashtags (#) which interest you. Hashtags are a way of setting categories for your social media content.
#IndieAuthorChat
As part of a drive to connect more group members, The Alliance of Independent Authors will be stepping up their Twitter Chat.
#MSWL
Manuscript wish list hashtags is used by agents and editors who are looking for specific elements for story submissions. You can reply with your pitch and if they are interested, they will send you a Direct Message (DM).
Generate interest by creating and using your own hashtags based on your blog name, book title, or author pen name, for example.
#nataliebright
#prairiepurview and #wordsmithsix are my two blogs. Thanks for the follow!
Connect with writers and fans of your genre. Search hashtags by Genre:
#SciFI
#AmericanWest
#Fantasy
#Romance
#Horror
#UrbanFantasy
Follow hashtags by writing process and connect with other writers.
#AmEditing
#AmWriting
#WriterChat
#WriteGoal
#ePubChat
#WritingPrompt
#WritersLifeChat
#5amwritersclub
#WritingCommunity
#ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers)
#SCBWI (Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators)
#BookMarketingChat
#KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing)
More importantly, connect with your readers!
#MustRead
#FollowFriday (suggesting new people to follow; promote your author friends)
#Novelines (to quote your own work)
#FreeBook
#FridayReads
#TeaserTues
#Bookish
#Shelfie
#ReadMore
Yes, Twitter has a well-deserved reputation for political rants, but it is what you make it. Focus on what guides your passion for writing and you’ll find others who feel the same and who love a good story as much as you do.
Hoping this #selfisolation period is proving to be productive, and thanks for following WordsmithSix!

DANCES WITH WOLVES -Book Review


DANCES WITH WOLVES

Book Review – Natalie Bright

DANCES WITH WOLVES sold over 3.5 million copies and was translated into 15 languages. The 1990 film, which Kevin Costner directed and starred in, won seven Oscars including Best Picture and Best Screenplay for Michael Blake. He also won the WGA Award and Golden Globes for his script. Local writers were treated with an unbelievable opportunity to meet this amazingly gifted writer.  You’ve probably seen the movie, but I highly recommend the book as well.

Michael Blake shared a heartfelt and grippingly honest reflection in the creation of his book, DANCES WITH WOLVES, during a visit through Amarillo many years ago. After becoming engrossed in Indian history, his long-time friend Kevin Costner, encouraged him to write a novel rather than a screenplay. Mr. Blake told us that he struggled with the ending. The L.A. atmosphere did not lend itself to the inspiration he craved. He moved to Arizona where he lived in his car, worked as a dishwasher, and completed the book.

What a treat to meet Mr. Blake and learn about his struggles and process. I wrote as fast as I could, trying to make note of every word. Following, are some of his best quotes that resonated with me personally from his talk to our Amarillo writers’ group.

  • “Writers are driven to create something from our heart and soul. This is in direct conflict with the agent, producers, and editor’s side of the business,” and for this reason he encouraged us to not be afraid of rejection.
  • “No matter what, keep writing at a level that people will want to read, and keep reading,” he said.
  • “American Indians knew things about the world that we had forgotten. Modern life has moved us away from life on earth. We need balance between earth and our existence.” This belief inspired him to write a story.
  • “Inspire with your writing.”
  • “It’s all about finishing. Power through and get it done.”
  • “Writing must convey feeling. Be different and devastating in terms of feeling.”
  • “Make every conceivable effort to put good words on paper.”
  • “Stay at it!” says Michael Blake. “If you remember only one thing from my talk, this is the thing I want you to take away—never give up.”

 

Feng Shui for a Writer’s Office


Feng Shui for a Writer’s Office

Natalie Bright

Setting writing goals in the New Year and realizing those goals depends on you being productive. That means butt in chair and words on the blank screen. Where you work is just as important as crafting a phenomenal sentence. Your writing space should be a sanctuary, a haven of inspiration.

Feng shui (fung SHWAY) is the Chinese art of placement to increase energy in the spaces you occupy. Literally, it means “wind and water”, or the intersection of the seen and unseen. The natural force of a body or space moves in predictable patterns. In Chinese philosophy, this is called qi (chee).  Furniture and objects can be moved, colors can be changed, and the creative energy of a room can be restored, imbalances corrected.

As I have blogged about before, my creative space changes with each project. When I wrote the inspirational book about a deep loss, I sat at the kitchen table. Chaos was all around; kids going in and out of the back door, television blaring, dinner cooking. The noise enabled me to write instead of becoming overwhelmed by the sorrow of the story. The book I just finished was written in our spare bedroom, although feng shui practitioners recommend not working in a bedroom. It was the only place I could shut out the world. From my little desk in the corner, I could watch the covey of quail that milled around outside the window every morning. I could hear the songs birds that gathered in the snowball bush. With my back to the door, I was able to ignore reality and step into the world of my creation.

Clutter is another major deterrent to productivity. When doing research, I use the floor and guest bed to spread out the information. True, it can be distracting but I like having the information at my fingertips. And I love my stacks of books. I did invest in a collapsible table. To anyone else, it looks like a mess, but I know which projects are in which stack. Whatever your methods, I hope you find the perfect space and have a productive and energizing New Year.

Feng Shui Design Tips for your Office 

  1. Is your back to the door? Do you have trouble concentrating? Move your desk to the center of the room and listen to your body. What bugs you? What do you like about the room? Give any change at least two weeks.
  2. What colors are dominate in your working space? Red stimulates fame and reputation. Blue represents wisdom. Green represents growth and new beginnings. Purple inspires spirituality and adventure.
  3. Does the furniture placement flow, or is it distracting? Can you move freely throughout the space? Your energy might be stifled by clutter.
  4. Bedrooms should be a place of calm, whereas offices are spaces of active energy. If you must work in a bedroom, divide the area by using a screen or curtain.
  5. Organize your desktop as you would the room. Personal symbols can be inspiring, like a favorite coffee mug or candle. Invest in bookcases or additional tables to declutter and organize your projects.
  6. Declutter to clear your mind. Clean out your email inbox and computer files. Toss those distracting sticky notes and start an idea notebook instead. Focus your energy and stop stressing over undone tasks.

POINT OF VIEW: Let Your Characters Do the Talking


POINT OF VIEW: Let Your Characters Do the Talking
Natalie Bright

The Rescue Animal series expanded over many years, beginning as chapter
books but morphing into shorter eBooks with pictures. I still wasn’t happy.
There were so many stories left to be told, but the books were not coming
together. When that happens, the motivation becomes nonexistent. I moved on
to a new project.

Those horses kept bugging me though. One day I decided to writer the next
installment from the horses’ point of view and it worked. The story came
alive. I used a vocabulary reference book and targeted third and fourth
grade readers. Now this Easy Reader is perfect for kids who love true
stories about real horses.

Writing is your Journey, so go write!

PLOTTING A STORY


PLOTTING A STORY

Natalie Bright

Stuck in a rut? Look at your story from a different perspective by breaking down the plot structure. I got this at a writer’s conference and unfortunately, my notes do not indicate who to credit. Apologies.

Once upon a time there was:

Every day, (regular world):

One day, (normal world changes):

Because of that, (conflict):

Hero/heroine reacts how:

Because of that, (conflict):

Finally, he/she (resolution):

What does your character want more than anything in the world? As the writer, you must do everything you can to prevent them from getting it. How can you twist the expected outcomes and add something unexpected? Happy ending or not? You decide.

Writing is your journey, so go write!

Natalie
Nataliebright.com

PLOT TWISTS


PLOT TWISTS

Natalie Bright

 

We are blogging about plot twists all month long. So glad you have joined us at Wordsmith Six!

Plot Twists are defined as something is going on or is about to happen that we, the readers/viewers/players, don’t see coming; if we had known about it. When that story element is revealed to us, we are surprised, shocked, and delighted.

Common themes, or plot tropes, can be found in every genre. For example, in mysteries common tropes include absence of evidence, everyone is a suspect, hidden in plain sight, or you meddling kids.

In the romance genre, popular tropes include transformation from ugly duckling to princess, friends to lovers, reunited lovers, love triangle, or forbidden love. How many times have you recognized the Romeo and Juliet trope?

How about taking a romance trope and applying it to your science fiction, changling novel? How about using a popular mystery trope in your next historical fiction? You’ve the old saying, you have to know the rules in order to break them.

MAKING IT YOURS

Twist those old, tired cliché tropes into something new. Add the YOU into your story, make it unique, make it original. Now go write…

 

THE BIG WHY


THE BIG WHY

Natalie Bright

 

First off, stop asking yourself why. The best piece of advice I’ve ever received, first heard from David Morrell at the Oklahoma Writers Federation conference in Oklahoma City.

Believe me, you’ll never find the reason or make sense as to why the stories in your head are in your head. I’ve wasted too much time pondering that question. The ideas come from so many parts of you: your childhood memories, those kids that made fun of you, the people you know who made an impact good or bad, the places you’ve lived, your life today. It’s all there in your stories.

When I added fiction writing to my job related and freelance work about 15 years ago, I had envisioned becoming a romance writer. My goals were to sign with an agent and attend the Romance Writers of America conference every year. I’m a huge fan of romances, and most of my author friends write romance. It stands to reason that I’d be cranking those stories out on a regular basis.

Wrong.

The stories in my head were not romance.

The characters that interrupted my dreams were young people, most often from the past. More specifically in the old West. I remember being fascinated with history, the Oregon Trail, and the old West from an early age, but I never imagined I’d be crafting novels set in that time period.

WWA is the West

I attended the Western Writers of America convention in Lubbock, Texas several years ago. This is a diverse group, with songwriters, poets, historians, museum archivists, writers of nonfiction and fiction, editors, agents, musicians, and newbies and veteran authors.

As a first-time attendee and new member, I didn’t expect to make many connections. I listened to a panel of New York City authors share facts about The Alamo that I’d never heard before. Songwriters and talented musicians shared their gift of music every night in the Roundup Room. A panel on writing about the Comanche Nation included great-grandsons of the great chief Quanah Parker! I met the lady who would become my editor, and now she is my co-author.

Here’s what I learned during this amazing week: these people don’t worry about the WHY.

They endlessly research the subjects they love. They write about the people and the places that burn a hole in their gut.  A writer writes. So now I’m writing a book about chuckwagons and a new Christian fiction series set on a Texas ranch. Neither are romance novels, but I stopped questioning the why years ago.

FIND YOUR PEEPS

Whatever you feel driven to write, I encourage you to seek out like-minded people. Join a writer’s group, read your work aloud and listen to the input. Attend a conference, preferably relating to your genre. Introduce yourself and ask someone, “what do you write?” More than likely they will return the question.

Feed your knowledge about this business. Attend workshops or take online classes about characterization, writing a killer query letter, publishing your book on IngramSpark – these are all goals you can achieve.

Stop questioning the why.

Nataliebright.com

THE JOURNEY


THE JOURNEY

By Natalie Bright

This month we’re blogging about genre: what do you write and why? Some days it’s all uphill, chasing this writing fever.

My youngest son graduated high school this year and as we complete the paperwork process for college, I realized he may take his life in a whole new direction than what I had planned. He is a talented artist, since a very early age with a gift for color and design. I made him go to summer art camp as a pre-teen and he says I ruined the joy of drawing for him. He is a gamer, so I tried to steer him towards graphic design,  and he could build a resume by redesigning my website and helping me with social media memes and promo videos. That’s not happening.

Our oldest is also very smart with a talent for business and math. He loves to read, particularly history, and has asked me several times about book premise ideas; “Have you ever read a book where this happens? …” I told him to write it, and that he would find tons of fans with that idea. I had visions of him going to writing conferences with me, and maybe I’d be standing in line at his book signing event one day. But his passion lies in an entirely different area than anything I’d ever considered. It’s not going to be the family business or writing, and that makes me sad.

I remember hurrying home to tell my father about the English and poetry classes I had taken in college, and about my poetry journal. I wrote a book when I was in high school. His reply, “You should take some business classes.” I followed his advice and didn’t get back to writing until twenty years later. Dad had a different idea for my journey, just like I had envisioned our kids’ path.

Light bulb moment: we each have our own path to find. My journey in writing and publishing is MY journey, and MINE alone. No one is going to make me sit down at the computer and hold my hand. I have so many ideas and projects in my head. So many opportunities. The only problem I have is time.

This week has been particularly difficult with day job deadlines, the stories tug at me every minute, but that’s okay. I can do this. I can make everybody happy. I took my laptop with me while we were out of town last weekend, only to realize that I can’t write with someone in the same room. I read over what I had worked on in critique this week and it was horrible. The struggle is real.

Time. I wish I would exercise more and plan healthier meals for my family. I wish the day job would go away, but since my husband is the boss that’s not likely.  I wish I could join the five o’clock morning writers’ group, but my brain doesn’t come alive until seven. I wish I could stay awake all night and finish something. Time.

What I can do is give in to the journey and the stories in my head. What I must do is shut the door and write. Wish me luck. But first, I told my husband, “Yes, I’ll watch Season 3 of Stranger Things with you.”  One-half a step forward and three steps back is my journey.

How do you stay true to your writing? How do you carve out time to get things done?

Thanks for following WordsmithSix!