All the internet’s a stage?

wattpadThere is nothing new under the sun when it comes to the act of writing, right? I mean, despite technological advances at the end of the day we’re all setting either pen to paper or fingers to keyboard to bang out are creations. We all have to go through the same processes of researching, drafting, editing, and redrafting again and again, usually sharing our work with friends and family to see if we’re “on the right track.” Well it seems I might be wrong about that one! Check out this article I read about a woman who took advantage of new technology to help her through that whole process!

I was particularly interested in her story because she was making the leap from non-fiction to fiction, which is the same move I made after I’d written An Elk in the House. And taking that leap to creating entire worlds and characters all by yourself can be pretty scary.

She used a new writing platform called from Toronto-based Wattpad, that lets people post their writing on the site so that people (both strangers and friends) can read and comment on your work while you’re still in the process of writing it.

I can also see a lot of benefits to doing it, too. You can post your writing in a section designed just for your genre, so that means you’re getting feedback from fans of the type of book you’re writing. People who are knowledgeable about your genre can give you valuable advice. And you’re probably going to get more honest feedback than you would normally. Because our friends and family love us so much, sometimes they’re not as honest about what they think as we need them to be. And it never hurts to have a fresh pair of eyes look at what we’re doing.

I think it is an incredibly brave thing to do, and scary! I mean, you’re literally sharing a work-in-progress with people all over the world. And some big writing names use Wattpad, people like Margaret Atwood, which means writers like her could be reading your work!

What do my fellow writers out there think about this? Would you do it?

 

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Chicken Soup

20120910-221887-cook-the-book-chicken-soupI doubt there’s a reader in the English language who hasn’t heard of the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series of books by now (and they’ve been translated into over 40 languages now too!). There’s definitely something that authors writing these books have hit on, and I know I’ve wondered what that is myself.

When I was doing some internet surfing and came across an article from the publisher of the series giving writers some tips, and I found them very useful, so thought I’d share it with you. One of the reasons I liked her list is that it applies to both fiction and non-fiction writing.

We tend to think the two genres are totally different. And it’s true, not everyone who writes non-fiction can write fiction, and vice versa. But at the end of the day, most of the same rules apply. You need to be passionate about the topic. You need to be true to yourself. And you need to put yourself in the reader’s shoes.

I think I disagree a little bit about her take on creativity – that you should forget about creative writing techniques – because there’s a time and a place for everything, and I know I love when I read a beautifully crafted sentence. But by and large, I think Amy’s on the spot. When you write what you’d like to read, it will always find an audience and always connect with another reader out there.

Write on!

A lonely life…

 

lonely-writer-2Most times when people say “tortured artist” you think about visual artists, people like Vincent van Gogh, chopping ears off! But I think some people don’t realize that being a writer is just as torturous. You spend long hours by yourself, in front of a computer or paper, sometimes in total silence and without seeing or talking to anyone for ages. If you don’t have family around, sometimes you go for days without having a real conversation (talking to your plants doesn’t count!). It’s no wonder so many writers become famous for their drinking habits!

And that’s just the writing part – then there’s all the turmoil around publishing the book, getting it reviewed, and getting into the hands of readers. It can take a toll on you, that’s for sure. Now I’m lucky that I don’t ‘write for a living’, exactly. While it takes up a lot of my time, I don’t depend on it to pay my mortgage or feed my family. But I still feel a lot of the same pressures.

That’s why it’s nice to hear about gatherings like the one they’ve written about in Atlantic Monthly. Over 10,000 people in Washington got together to share their experiences living the writers life – the joys and the sorrows! Because sometimes on that very lonely journey you need a reminder that there are other people out there who know what it feels like.

A trip to Washington isn’t in the works for me, but that’s one of the great things about the internet nowadays. Living in a rural area like I do, it’s really hard for me to connect with other creative people, so I’m grateful for the virtual networks of writers and readers out there.

So if it’s such a difficult path, why do we do it? I guess it’s because at the end of the day, there’s nothing else we’d rather be doing! We live and breathe books, what could be better?

 

Self-publishing gets a boost!

selfublishI read something pretty interesting in the news today. It looks like a university in England has created a master’s degree in self-publishing! I was just as surprised as I’m sure you are!

And as someone who self-publishes, I was pretty excited to read this. And the article explains why. We are constantly having to defend ourselves to authors who are already established in the industry. And that’s the main point: the people who are most critical of it (Jeffrey Archer, Sue Grafton in this article) are already published, and they’re always going to be published. I wonder if they would have said the same thing back when they were starting out? I have my doubts!

Because anyone who knows how publishing works, knows that having a good story to tell is only a small part of the battle in getting your book to print. Part of it is about timing—what’s most popular in book sales and what the editor at the time is interested in. A ton of it is about who you know. And a big chunk of it nowadays is having people know who you are. More and more often editors aren’t willing to take a chance on an unknown—and that’s so sad! Just think of all the wonderful stories we might be missing out on because all the big publishers are busy concentrating on people who already have ten or twenty traditionally published books under their belts.

And really, that’s why I decided to self-publish. My first book, An Elk in the House, was published traditionally. But when it came to other manuscripts, people kept telling me I had great stories, but that they just weren’t the right fit, and that I wasn’t well-known enough. So it certainly wasn’t because I didn’t want to work hard. Because I can tell you, self-publishing is really hard work.

Now I’m not sure whether an entire post-graduate degree dedicated to just that is really the best way to spend your valuable tuition money. Or why exactly you’d want a degree in self-publishing—I would think that if you’re already going to go to university for that long, maybe you’d want to spend that time writing and improving your craft! But either way, I’m glad to see that academic institutions are understanding the value of self-publishing.

 

Taking a break from the ordinary…

king quote

Hello everyone! There’s been radio silence on my end of this blog for a few weeks, but I have a good reason why–I was on vacation! Yes, I took a break from the tempermental and nasty weather of Northern Alberta and headed south to sunny Cuba. Not surprisingly, I had a fabulous time!

But beyond enjoying the escape from what was a pretty darn long winter (if you live in the prairies of Canada, you know what I’m talking about!), I really felt like the trip was necessary to refresh my writing. No, my new book isn’t about Cuba, but nevertheless I feel like vacations are critical for keeping the creative juices flowing. Getting away from the monotony of every day life and getting to experience entirely new surroundings and people is one of the most important things a writer can do to keep their writing fresh and interesting. The other thing vacations are great for, is reading! As writers, we all need to make time to read as well–but often times it takes a vacation for us to be able to catch up on it.

Even if you can’t afford to take a vacation or time off, you can get the same benefits as one by incorporating certain changes into your daily routine. First off, make time to read other writers! Nothing’s more inspiring than reading someone else’s beautifully written prose. If you’re starting to feel a bit blocked and always writing at home, try writing in a coffee shop or in a park–you’ll be amazed at how quickly it helps refresh your perspective.

So there are my post-vacation tips for other writers out there–here are few tips from some of the masters!

Drumroll please…

What a great blog tour that was last week! I so enjoyed stopping by all those great sites and getting to share Evil on the Peace River with a whole new audience. I want to thank each and everyone of the reviewers for taking the time to not only read my book, but share their thoughts with their readership.

And of course, I’m ecstatic at the warm reception it received (especially Sam the dog, a Lassie-in-the-making if there ever was one!).  In my books (no pun intended), the best way to wrap up such a rewarding experience is to pay it forward, and reward a new reader. So in that light, I’m happy to announce the winner of the blog tour giveaway.

The four pack of books goes to…….drumroll please….Shelley from Brookhaven! I’m so glad that my works will be finding their way all the way down to Mississippi. Thanks Shelley, for participating, and I hope you love your books. And my heartfelt thanks to everyone else who was involved with the tour!images

New fans are the best!

auntOne of the reasons I love doing blog tours is that I get to reach a whole new audience who may not have encountered my writing better. So I was heartened to read after stopping at The Ordinary Aunt, that I’ve got a new fan: “This is the first (but definitely not the last) book by Beverly Lein that I’ve read.” I hope you enjoy my other books as much as you did Evil on the Peace River!