Tough Education

Happy WIPpet Wednesday!

The end of the semester is here—exams are stressing out my students! I don’t envy them. Graduate school nearly broke me—academic hazing is what I called it. However, I am so extremely grateful for my education. The experience inspired me to write a book. So, that makes all the endless, sleepless nights of studying worth it.

For all the exam takers, you'll get through this.

For all the exam takers out there, you’ll get through this.

The Hall Speaks #fallsemester is my début novel and the sequel is my WIPpet. There are several story lines, but today I’m going to share an excerpt from Sage’s. He wears the RA position like a BOSS, making policy enforcement look cool. But the RA job has forced him into a dangerous situation. He gets a tough education—one that has nothing to do with school. I shared about him here.

For the math: May 14, 2014, just 5 sentences for the month.

*******

#Sage

Early Monday morning before the sun got up, Sage took off for the campus gym. He ran across the lawn as if the water called him. The distinct smell of chlorine hit him as he entered the humid, warm locker room. He went for first locker he saw and opened it, tossing in his blue bag. Alone, with only the steady humming sound of the heater, his thoughts racing just as fast.

*******

Thanks for reading, and comments much appreciated! If you’d like to take part in WIPpet just go here.  Be sure to check out other WIPpets because they are fabulous! 🙂  And thank you K. L. Schwengel for hosting! Happy reading All! Stay beautiful. 

Gif credit: tumblr_inline_n4ttocoVMh1r25fcq.gif

Advertisements

Simon Says: Writing Tips for Indie Authors

Decide what kind of artist you want to be before entering the industry.

Writers can’t excuse that all artists are screened through consumers’ expectations. Experts in the entertainment industry understand this concept. And yes, more than ever, books are heavy contenders in this, generating amazing movie deals, inspiring songs etc.

Recently, I’ve been catching up on talent completions, specifically X Factor. It’s funny to watch the contestants wait in anticipation for Simon Cowells response. Deep down, his feedback is the only one they really care about (so it seems). Because what Simon says is right. He knows talent, but more importantly he knows the business and the market.

Over the years there is one thing he says repeatedly on American Idol, Some Country Has Talent and X Factor that has stuck with me. Several times, mid-song, he’d ask the person auditioning to sing something different.

Why?

Because their voice wasn’t right for the song, possibly the style didn’t suit them. Basically, it wasn’t working. Then they’d perform something different and it would wow the judges. Choosing the right song is everything. Just because a singer can sing anything, doesn’t mean they should. Think about some of your favorite artist for a minute. Why do you like them? How would you define (categorize) their music? Is their style consistent?

There’s a reason why Taylor Swift, Kings of Leon, Mariah Carey, Beyoncé, Kanye West, Lady Gaga, Muse, Dave Matthews Band, and countless others (really the list could go on), stick with one genre of music. It’s not because their talent has limitations–not at all. But their audience has expectations and, as artists, they understand the value in meeting those expectations.

Leonardo DiCaprio established himself as an actor in similar (type-cast) kind of roles, then blew our minds as we discovered later on the depth of his acting. This is easier to see with comedians. So, Jim Carey stuck with comedy for a while before shocking us with The Truman Show. Proving yourself in one area really pays off. Consumers need some sort of brand recognition–a way to place the artist in their minds.

For indie authors, the same applies. Just because you can write any genre doesn’t mean you should–well, not in the beginning. Build an audience in one genre first, then you can cross into another. And pick the right genre for your writing style. Like Simon says, this makes all the difference. And let me say:

tumblr_mfbbg6LPym1qejmu9o2_250

What are your thoughts on choosing the right genre, building an audience, and brand recognition as an author?

How To Lose A Reader In 10 Pages

kateLet’s not lose them before we hook’em

Before I decided to self-publish, like any other writer-wanna-be I researched literary agents. On average, most preferred an outstanding query letter and the first 5 to 10 pages of your polished, glowing like the last lightning bug, manuscript. Those pages better cause the agent to miss their stop on the subway and compel them to contact at least five publishing houses because they are reading the next big thing. This may be a tab bit of an exaggeration but it sure seemed that way years ago when I was dating around the agent scene (I wasn’t into it much, only contacted two agents). The point is, that I kept running across this 5-10 pages requirement. Based only on a few pages–not even a full chapter, agents decided if a project was right for them.

For a new author this pressure is intimidating as all get-out—harder than trying out for American Idol. Most of the time they let the contestant finish their song. Writers do not get that luxury, many agents stop reading in the first paragraph if they spot problems.

I attended a writers’ conference that held a Gong Show for manuscripts. The host would read a manuscript and agents gonged when they lost interest. Out of 40 manuscripts only 1 made it through an entire page. I understand why they take this approach because the average reader wants to fall for a story immediately.

I get it, reading a novel takes commitment, time–it’s like starting a relationship. I jotted down feedback from this conference on what not to do, because in many ways agents represent the reader. And in real relationship fashion I’m going to share writing tips that also apply to dating.

Kate says it all

Kate says it all

  1. Explicit Intro: On average, talking about sex when first meeting someone isn’t a good idea—definitely off-putting. Opening a novel with an explicit sex scene is a big no-no as well. Now, with Erotica, the rules may be different but I image the reader isn’t thrown into a steamy bedroom scene in the first line.
  2. Showing Off: Ok, raise your hands if you like dating a show-off? Huh, I don’t see any hands. Unless you’re writing for writers or masters of the English language, the reader just wants a good story. To be entertained. Why use a twenty-dollar word when a five-dollar one will work?
  3. TMI (too much information):  Sharing all your business on the first date is an easy way to lose the interest of a potential partner. Where’s the mystery? What’s there to wonder about? It’s nice having to work a little when getting to know someone. Same applies to writing. Information dumping in the beginning doesn’t create that I-can’t-wait-to-see-what-happens response. Actually, it does the opposite–a real snooze-fest!
  4. Lack of Authenticity: No one can be you better than you. It’s really awkward being on a date when the person isn’t being themselves. Be true to the character and story by writing realistically. And it’s totally fine to do it your own way.
  5. Pacing: There’s a natural flow to good conversation just like there’s a natural flow to good storytelling. A good balance between summary and scene makes for enjoyable reading!  
  6. Hot-Mess: Showing up for a first date dirty and looking a hot-mess, will not go over well–unless it’s a rock climbing date. Being prepared and put together helps people to take you seriously. With a novel, having a ton of grammatical or spelling mishaps in the first few pages is unacceptable. 

As a writer it’s important to know what makes readers lose interest in the first 10 pages, and not do them. And there’s many more but six is plenty. To be honest, readers can lose interest with a perfect manuscript just because they have options.

America, at least, is full of the OEEB (Overly Entertained and Easily Bored). Scrolling through Netflix, trying to find the best, most suitable entertainment for my mood, can take more time than just watching a Walking Dead episode. My Kindle is a small library—and that’s the norm for young adults. But I still think it’s important to watch and read new stuff, even stuff I don’t think I’ll like.

I can’t tell you how many books, televisions shows, movies, that in the beginning turned me off. I had good reasons too: slow-paced books, cheesy movies, irritating characters. Then, after a while, I got hooked. At some point, I forgave the flaws and felt captivated by the story, the characters changing, or the moral dilemma.

Growing up I wouldn’t touch a fantasy novel, they just seemed weird to me. Because of a neighbor who shoved a fantasy novel in my hand I began to read my first fantasy/sci-fi series. The first chapter—I wasn’t feeling it. After the third chapter or so, I couldn’t put the book down.

These are just a few books/shows/movies that won me over.

  • Harry Potter series
  • Supernatural
  • Memoirs of a Geisha
  • Walking Dead
  • Friday Night Lights
  • Les Miserable
  • Inception

So, this is my plea to the Reader. Novels aren’t perfect because imperfect people write them.  So, if the pacing seems off or it has fancy words or it’s a genre not of your liking, basically if it doesn’t’t hook you in the first 10 pages, keep reading. Most people are not a fan of insta-love, it’s always better when the characters grow and fall in love over time.

I take the same approach reading now. I don’t have to love a novel right away. I give it time to grow on me because I might just fall in love during the process. And finding things I love is always worth the journey it took to find it.

tumblr_inline_mxmfp8fj4q1r6ywxdFinding a book I  love–True Fandom!

Photo/Gif Credit: www.huffingtonpost.combysandradi.wordpress.comgiphy.com

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!

WIPpet–Pressure and Authority

The last two weeks I opted to pass on posting my WIPpet because I needed to spend time marketing my debut novel. I’m still in the early stages of getting the word out to readers. There are so many things to do, people to connect with, readers to meet, that I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed.

helptumblr_mgrit36UOq1s2p3flo1_400

I’m not very good at asking for help. And it’s not because I’m too proud to ask, but being in a helping profession, I’m in relationships where I’m the ‘helper’. At work, students don’t ask me if I need help with anything.  They come to me for direction, coaching, and guidance, not the other way around. I rarely get asked about my personal life. And I totally get that. I would have felt super weird asking my teacher about anything outside of the subject they taught. I mean, asking a simple, “what do you like to do for fun?” could turn into a strange TMI kinda talk. Most students would rather pass.

A good amount of my students don’t even know I’ve written a book. They know I write, but a novelist…well, probably not. I’m afraid if I start sharing about my books they’ll feel pressured to buy them. I’ve been in a position of authority since college and am mindful of students’ perception of me. For them, perception is reality and suggestions from an authority figure become commands. So, I’m careful how and what I communicate. Besides, it’s super tacky for educators to sell anything to their students—it’s just a conflict of interest.

Regardless of my all-day job, I need to work on my marketing strategy. And I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m behind, that I’m learning, that I have no idea how this is done. I’m not afraid to admit I need help.  Here’s my progress report.

  1. Sent personalized messages to my close friends about my novel
  2. Created a Tumblr to reach possible target audience (RAs) chlolecorin.tumblr.com
  3. I’m finally Tweeting! Yay! @chloecorin
  4. Requested a Goodreads author page  yesterday
  5. Made a list of book bloggers (I’ve contacted 2 and received great reviews)

What has been the most helpful approach to promoting your novel? Which book bloggers did you use? I’d love to hear your thoughts. 🙂

On to my WIPpet which is an example of someone taking advantage of their authority. If you’ve read my first novel, you know that Dean Petty is harsh with everyone. She’s the villain with a twist in her story I hope will shock readers. In this scene, she’s meeting with Carly an RA that’s recovering from an accident.

Here’s the math: February 26, 2014. Here are seven sentences (14/2) from page 26 (today) of The Hall Speaks #springsemester

#Carly

Leaning back in her chair, Dean Petty kept her eyes steady on Carly. “Fine–and nothing less will be expected of you!” Petty, pointing her finger, “Don’t think for one minute that just because you’re sitting down–permanently, that you can slack off on your duties.”

Carly’s mouth tightened as her eyes stung. “I know…” she mumbled, knowing the Dean’s words would leave a scar.  Carly wanted to run out of there, to make a point. With her right hand she squeezed her thigh, wishing her legs would work again.

***

That’s all for now!

Always, thanks for reading! If you’d like to take part in WIPpet just go here.  And thank you K. L. Schwengel for hosting! Happy reading and let’s all keep writing!:)

Photo Credit: storiesfromthera.tumblr.com

Giving them Away

Books, that is. I know that many indie authors have giveaways and contests. Some of them are really clever, getting readers to check out their work while generating excitement in the process. Heard of book swag? I mean, who doesn’t like free stuff or contests you can enter at no cost. It seems like a win-win situation, right? I was on a book blog site the other day and every novel listed was part of a drawing.  But I wonder how successful this strategy is for unknown indie authors.

A while back I read a free novella by Colleen Hoover who is the master of giveaways. She’s nailed it—practically branded the concept. And I think that’s awesome. Nothing about her giveaways feels forced, desperate, or like she wants something in return for giving away her novel. I get the impression when I read her blog that she loves giving them away. Not every author can or should do this, in my opinion. Colleen already had a fan base and this free novel was a gift to them. I think it’s important for authors to figure out what works for them, finding that special way to connect with readers. And you are not alone, I’m still trying to figure this out too. 🙂

Then there’s the topic free book. There are tons of free books available now by just tapping on a screen. I know people who will download books just because they are free, however, they have no intentions on reading them—at least no time soon. On the other hand, they always finish the books they buy. And that had me thinking. Does purchasing something instead of getting it for free increase its value or the customer’s investment?

A few years ago I organized a conference for college girls. I wanted it to be free since I know money is a common struggle among college kids. However, a friend of mine suggested I charge at least five dollars because it would help confirm attendees. It worked, and the turnout was much larger than I expected.

So what do you think about unknown indie authors giving away their books? Has anyone seen great success with giveaways?

Five Things Writers can learn from Rocky

I met this guy named Rocky when I was in college. At Virginia Beach, actually, carrying around his guitar singing to whoever would listen. A free soul being himself, something that most people have a hard time doing. I knew I’d never forget him—he was so, so different—in a good way. So last year when I learned about Blood Brother, this year’s first place for the Sundance Festival, I wasn’t surprised that Rocky was the main character. I knew he’d make an impact one day. Honestly I thought he’d be in the music industry…but film is just as cool.

Real quick: Blood Brother is a documentary. In it, Rocky leaves everything to help children infected with HIV living in an orphanage in India. The film is incredible. I mean, incredible. At first, I was scared to watch the film because I didn’t want to feel saddened by children suffering and dying of AIDS. But I know so many of the special people who put this big story together. I know the directors wife really well along with her family. My husband lived with them for a while. So I had to support them— I had to, they all worked extremely hard on this project.

Being a writer, I’m always looking at everything through that lens. What can I learn? How will this make me a better writer? Naturally, I asked myself these questions after watching the movie. At one point in the film Rocky says, “I think some people think I’m crazy.” I don’t. Rocky taught me a lot through this documentary, and I can’t cover it all, but here are five things that I learned as a writer.

1. Heart- This is so important. Writers gotta have a lot of heart! Others may say passion is key. Passion alone can be a wrecking ball, so singularly focused on a goal and self-driven, and tragically running over anyone that gets in the way. And that’s not always a good thing. Heart, on the flip side, is a mix of passion and humility. Writers need to care about the readers and other writers. But it always troubles me seeing authors bash each other on reviews. I’m not discouraging honest reviews. However, if they remember an actual human being wrote the work they’re critiquing, it would probably help them filter mean, nasty comments.

2. Love- Need I say more? Well, just a little. Every story is about love. Even your story. Don’t forget what you love about writing. Even when it gets crazy-hard and you hate your work and think no one really cares. Remember why you fell in love with writing, and hold on to it when you get a negative review, have to start over, or when your book doesn’t sell.

3. Inspiration- Find this, and if you lose it, search for it until you find it again.  Inspiration is the magic; it’s powerful enough to separate the talented from the phenomenal.

4. Take Risks- It’s okay. Go for it—take the plunge! Be different, not for the sake of being different, but do what works best for your story. Even if it’s never been done. Ask any successful writer, ask any successful person for that matter, and they all take risks. Risks are how dreams become reality.

5. Ownership- In the movie Rocky does everything in the orphanage from cleaning gutters to cleaning and caring for children’s wounds. He “owned” his role in the orphanage. And whether you’re going traditional or self-publishing, take ownership of your work. No one cares about your characters like you do. Seriously, no one’s going to mull over that perfect word you used in a scene that took you days to decide on. You’ll also need to pay attention to all aspects of the business. From marketing to editing. Do whatever needs to be done because at the end of it all, it’s your name, your work, and your story that’s building a reputation.

What are you learning about being a writer?