Friday, April 29, 2016

Writers: It's Okay To Time Out

Writing is a lonely profession. Which can become a stressful profession if you're not careful. Learning to take time for yourself can mean all the difference in the world for your physical and mental health. 

As writers we tend to be more sensitive and withdrawn - like most artists. Our minds are continuously thinking about our books - or book-brain as I so lovingly like to call it. Yes, writing can be put in the same category as artists. Instead of painting on a canvas, we paint with words. We are creators of stories and should be proud that we are giving the world what it has craved since the beginning of time.

But now, instead of orally, we write them down - with the exception of a good campfire ghost story. And we put our fables out to the public hoping others will enjoy them also. However, it's not enough that we write the stories and upload them to Amazon. Now we have to market them and in this very competitive profession, it's a monotonous situation. 

I thought I would give you some tips for those times when you are stressed from lack of sales, or tons of critique red marks strewn across your chapter. Or maybe it's the ongoing list of to-do's each day. Whatever is overwhelming you, you need to turn your attention to taking care of you. Because after all, you come first.

I'm sure you've heard suggestions like take a hot bath, or a walk, but there are some other things you can to to give yourself a break. I hope you try some of these and, if you feel inclined, let me know if they helped you.

First off - Your physical health

Depending on where you live, taking a walk can really help you unwind. If it's a nice, warm day, getting out in Gods' country and breathing in the fresh air can go along way with your mental, as well as your physical, health. 

But if you're like me and are dealing with perpetual snow this spring, then yoga can really do the trick. Even if it's only 5 to 10 minutes, it will make you feel better. If you can do this each day, or every other, try to build on the length of time for better results. 

Another good one is going to the gym. The only thing I don't like about the gym is the fact it's usually busy. So what I do instead is go to water exercise. Water therapy is wonderful. Not only are you in warm water and can soak your cares away, but if you go when there are no classes you can do your own exercise regimen and still take the time to relax. And, not to mention, it's low impact on your body.

Hot tubs, or even better, hot springs, are great also. I know not everyone lives in a state with hot springs available, but a hot tub will work too. Also massage. I love a good massage! Or acupuncture.  

One more thing - your diet. I know I am really bad about this, especially because I am home alone and it's a comfort thing. If you can talk yourself into not eating a lot of junk, but instead once a week prepare a big container of salad and one of fruit, maybe you will choose to eat that instead. If it is cold out, I tend to not want a salad, but a good veggie soup with crackers are a great substitute. Watch the caffeine too. We tend to suck on coffee or pop all day and that will push our stress levels higher. A good suggestion here is make yourself drink water along with your coffee. And use good water, not sink water.

Your mental health

Life is full of stress. Taking care of loved ones - cleaning the house - never-ending errands - paying bills - taxes - marketing your books - setting up conferences - paying for said conferences - and the list goes on. Now add writing to the mix, and you are in overload.

I think one of the things is realizing you don't have to feel guilty to enjoy one of life's pleasures. You work hard, even if you are at home writing. And add to that a job, is killer. You deserve to treat yourself.

But buying yourself an outfit, or stopping to get a latte, aren't the only things to help you breathe. 

Take a nap when you can. Sleep is a wonderful way to relax. Go to a movie. Visit a friend and go to lunch. Go away for a weekend, especially where there's water or mountains. Learn how to meditate. Take a class. Build a jigsaw puzzle. Confide in your closest friend. Let people treat you once in a while. Go to a party. Play with your kids, or if it's grandkids now, play with them. 

Get out - enjoy - life's too short to be continuously stressing about your books. The writing, and marketing will still be there when you get back, but you will feel better and be ready to tackle it once again. 

Being a writer myself I know how it usually is. And we should learn to love ourselves enough to walk away when we need to and take time out for everything else in our lives that is precious to us.

I hope this little reminder helps you to refocus for a while. What do you do to break up the monotony? Leave me a comment, I'm always open to hear suggestions myself.

Until next time, have a great weekend and don't worry, Lore is almost ready for you to purchase. I'm just waiting on the proof right now.

   Love, Lisa 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Your Book Description

The description you publish, along with your book on Amazon, can make the difference as to whether or not people want to purchase it. It truly can make you or break you when it comes to sales. I've learned this the hard way, but thankfully my marketing guru has shown me the error of my ways.

It isn't easy writing an insightful, action packed description in a few paragraphs, trust me. I worked on changing my old description for weeks - even to the point of tears - but I think I finally got it right, or at least close to right. 

Of course when you have 15 people all giving you their opinion can drive you crazy, but it did push me to keep working on it until I got it right. Even to the point of calling my sister and asking her to look at it. She made a few last minute suggestions and I went with it. So, just this morning I replaced it on Amazon and it is already on my sales page.

In the ever changing world of marketing, it's good to study up on what works and what doesn't. I was told from the very beginning the three things customers look at before deciding to buy your book - the cover - the blurb - and the first page. When it comes to your ebook no one will be reading the back of the book, so the description posted on Amazon becomes the blurb. And is key to building interest.

When writing, or rewriting your blurb - or description - hooks and action words are key. And don't make it too long, or giveaway the whole book. Entice peoples' curiosity. I'll post my latest description for Fable on here and you can see the major changes suggested by my marketing teacher. If you have any questions leave them in the comment box and I will be glad to answer them. Oh, and let me know if you like the description. If it makes you want to read the book.

An ancient discovery. A perilous journey. A born legend.

Stevie Barrett has no idea she is the key to an ancient prophecy—one that endangers her world. Right before her graduation, men with glowing eyes attack her mom. A strange being watches her in shadow. An archaic people haunt her in waking visions. When she unknowingly heals a stranger with a touch, it is the final crack in her reality.

Driven to save her sanity, Stevie plunges into her own investigation. As the bizarre events mount, a formidable Warrior - Colton - enters her life. Despite his dark and fearsome exterior, Stevie is inexplicably drawn to him. Her practical side knows she should not trust him, yet he proves his worth. His warning that she is being hunted solidifies her fears. With the enemy at their heels, she and Colton race to locate a relic - the key to the prophecy. As the quest unfolds, it alters everything Stevie believes, about herself and about the life she thought she knew.

Fable is the first installment in a series of new adult fantasy fiction. If you like urban fantasy mixed with epic folklore, archaic new worlds, and a brave heroine who discovers her future is not what she expected, then you’ll love Lisa Fender’s imaginative take on a society wielded by Gods.

Buy Fable – Book 1 of The Lorn Prophecy and journey through the portal today!

This should at least give you an idea of how a proper description should look. Take care everyone and have a fantastic day! And if you want to read Fable after seeing this, it is free to download on my website landing page. djenworld

See you all next Friday!

Love, Lisa

Friday, April 15, 2016

Oh The Fun Never Ends

Yes, onto another project - one that I have to learn how to do. Oh, the fun never ends for us self-published authors. 

True, for me it's all a challenge, and I can get extremely frustrated, but I'm willing to learn. My latest learning curve - designing banners, bookmarks, ads, and the like. Thank goodness I asked my marketing guru what site to go on to do this. He told me Canva. It was actually pretty simple, but I've only done one banner so far. Now onto two more banners and bookmarks. 

I think the part I don't like is it's time consuming. I could be writing, but I have no other choice if I want to have nice banners for Comic Con this year. The one thing that is really good is you can design these for free on Canva. And we all like Free - right?!

So I thought a little post to help you out with marketing. You can never get enough help in this business. 

Now what is the next step? Vista print, that's what. They will walk you through downloading your pieces of art onto their site and help you to make sure it's want you want. No it's not free, but extremely reasonable. Or, depending on what you're looking for, they have tons of their own designs you can use.

And lastly, Vista print has all the stands, or whatever you need to have that professional look when you're all ready to go to that all important conference, or book signing. 

See, I told you there is no such thing as self-publishing for free. The costs add up. Between paying for your copyright with the Library of Congress, to making banners for behind your table, it never ends.

Is it worth it? I think it is. The name of the game is exposure - and you definitely can never have enough of that. So just plan on saving some money for all these unexpected occurrences. If you truly want to shine, you have to get out there and you have to be ready. 

Business cards, book marks, and swag you can afford, are of the up-most importance in this fast, competitive business.

Until next week, don't forget you can download Fable for free at my website. Djenworld

Any hints or ideas you want to share with me? I would love to know! Just leave me a comment and we will talk about it.

Love, Lisa

Friday, April 8, 2016

Comma Placement With And or But

I was all set to write a post about commas and the words "And" and "But" when I decided to ask a few editors I know their take on it, one of them answered differently than the other two. My question: When starting a sentence with And or But, do you place a comma directly after.

Now I know when writing a sentence and "But" is in the middle, you place a comma before "But". However, I was taught when starting a sentence with one of these you normally do not need a comma. 

When I am critiquing I try to give the correct marks and since this comes up a lot, it has now been questioned. I want to make sure I am doing right by the manuscripts I am critiquing. 

Since I've found that the creative writing skills are much more lax here in the states, and I am one of those writers who likes my work clean, tight, and a comfortable read, I tend to be a stickler for the rules. Sometimes I do use commas that, even though are correct placement, can be overboard for the lax rules of today. Because of this, I decided to look it up in Google. I am going to post the link where I found my answer and let you decide what you think. Starting a sentence with And or But

For me, I will do it as I've been taught by my editors. And they were the two who said you do not use a comma when starting a sentence with "And" or "But". Plus, I'm sure one of my Beta-readers will agree - the less commas for me the better. <grin>

Which way were you taught? Do you implement your punctuation based on what you've been taught in school, even if your editor corrects it, or do you change your ways.

So, I'll leave it up to you - yes on the comma - or no. I will still mark those either way.

Have a great weekend all! If you get a minute leave me a comment. I would love to hear what you think about this dilemma. 

Love, Lisa

Friday, April 1, 2016

Trying To Play Catch Up

I'm sure, if you're a writer, you've been told that once you finish your book you should take time to rest and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Now while that's excellent advice, it's not realistic - at least it's not for me.

Unfortunately there's marketing to do, and book signings, and conferences. It's true, there's never a dull moment in an Authors' life. But that's okay with me - it gives me things to do each day.

Yes, I finally finished Lore! I'm just waiting for the last of the critiques to come back and then off to the editor. And honestly, I really liked sending 5 to 10 chapters at a time to him. I managed to get it done much faster. Just food for thought. 

But I do have the advantage of Michael, my editor, knowing my story almost as well as I do. See, he's been my "Junior Editor" all along, and decided he wanted to graduate to professional editor - and he has done an excellent job! I think I'll keep him!

But on that note, now it's time to format the book and get it ready for publishing. My sister, Toni, agreed to help me with the task, and I'm so thankful she did. Talk about a nightmare for me. I'm sure I have told you I'm not the greatest on computers - I am trying - but having someone who is makes your life so much easier. 

So, on that note - I am now playing catch-up with all my marketing tasks. As I said in my last post, it's expensive, so I'm choosing carefully what to spend my money on at the moment. Priority's you know. And since I'm going to Comic Con in June, it's very important that I have my bookmarks, mini-books, and a screen with an image of my books on it for behind the table. Not to mention, actual books - in my hand. I will have to have them if I want to sell them.

With all that in mind, believe it or not, I've started to write the next book - Tale. I am so stoked about the story line that I couldn't wait to get it on paper. Yes, in the middle of all this, I am on to the next in the series. 

So you see, there's no rest for the wicked, as they say. And I'm not taking any time off. I will need a mini-vacation though. Cottonwood is calling me!

Do you take a break and do nothing after you finish writing a book? If so, please let me know how that works - because I haven't been able to stop!

Love, Lisa