Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Guest Post: Top 5 Favorite Writing Tips by Elizabeth Seckman

I've asked the lovely and incomparable Elizabeth Seckman to join me today as part of her Fate Intended blog tour. I asked Elizabeth to tell me her Top 5 Writing Tips, so here she is! (It's really great stuff!)

Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it's not going to be fired, it shouldn't be hanging there. Anton Chechov…the rule we know as Checkov’s Gun. All parts of the book, even the setting needs to have a use.

Imagine it, and then write it. Dixie Browning. We are a TV/movie culture. I often imagine my books opening as a movie…how would it start? Hint? No movie starts with a weather report…well, unless there’s a tornado coming that might be sucking a modern day Dorothy off to a revamped Oz.

Just tell me the damn story. My mother. I know we writers love our words and would wallow in the beauty of prose like a hot pig enjoys a mud hole, but readers are busy. They want to be told a story. They want to be entertained. Few want to be impressed with how well we write. 

Show, don’t tell. Every agent and editor you’ll ever meet. Don’t say the heroine is sweet…let her save a puppy. Don’t say the man is abusive…let him kick the dog. Readers are so freaking smart. Don’t insult them by telling them the obvious. Write it in and trust them…they will figure it out!

Finally…the best piece of advice ever? Buy Stephen King’s book, “On Writing”. Read it twice, once for fun, then again taking notes. That man figured out a way to make a how-to book thrilling. 

Man, I’d love to kidnap his muse!

(Lisa, you should help me, you know all about that sort of maniacal stuff!)

Fate Intended is the third book in the Coulter Men Series.  Trip is the last of the Coulter sons to find
love. He’s a handsome man with all the skills a young spy needs to succeed. But when it comes to love, he misses the target. Jane is a sweet beauty who may or may not be wanted for murder. She’s hiding out as a cleaning lady when chance brings her and Trip together. It looks like a happily ever after is in the cross hairs until reality tries to destroy what fate has intended.

Elizabeth Seckman is a simple chick with a simple dream…to write stories people want to read.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Post-Release Post #6: Signings and Events

I've been to a half dozen signing events in the last year.  The most successful one was the FCF launch where I unloaded 155 paperbacks.  The least successful one was at a farmers' market on the hottest day of the year when I sold 2 books.  Everything else was in between.  What I've found is that bookstores don't really want authors.  Our local, neighborhood indie bookstore, in spite of being touted in our local, neighborhood paper for their "outreach" with local authors, actually told me, "Authors aren't a big draw".  (I guess people only go to bookstores for the coffee these days.)  Unless you've been on television or you have some crazy gimmick or you can bring someone famous with you, bookstores are not author-friendly.  Some have restrictions on signings based on your book's return status.  Others want a larger percent of the sales than either you or the publisher get which doesn't make it worth doing for anyone except the bookstore.  Because of all of this, I've actually avoided bookstores which is kind of sad. However, I've found plenty of other opportunities to have signing "events".

Events are a mixed bag, but what I can absolutely tell you for sure is unless you are throwing a launch party and you've already got a known quantity of RSVPs, you don't need that many books.  At this point I wouldn't bring more than 20 books to any signing event.  Bring lots of bookmarks and swag though because 9 out of 10 people who stop to check out your book ask, "Is this available for Kindle/Nook?"  As my husband said at my last event, if they don't buy it here today, you want them to buy it somewhere, so send them on their way with a bookmark and assurances that the book is also available as an ebook. (I unload a LOT of swag at events.)

What I can also say, and this is something I've heard from a lot of authors, is don't say no.  Unless it is massively inconvenient for you and costly, don't say no to any opportunity offered.  Especially if you're just starting.  You never know what kinds of other opportunities will arise from going to things that seem to have no value at all.  Even if you don't sell any books, connecting with potential readers, reviewers and other authors is always worth it.  I have not said no to anything this past year except for one or two things where I was ill or I had a family obligation that could not be set aside, and I've always, always, always come away with another opportunity.

How about you guys?  Have you had any signing experiences?  What were they like?  Tips?