#WriterWednesday: Tackling Theme

So, it’s onto the fourth book for me now and I thought maybe I should try outlining now. Children of God is a different type of story for me. Each one of my books (Born at Dawn, Seasoned with Grace, Tempted to Touch) have been stand alone books, but none of them have ever been set in the midst of an external conflict.

Children of God is set in the Dominican Republic and will deal with the ramifications of the governments antihaitianismo (anti-Haitian prejudices) which led to a massive overhaul in citizenship status of the Dominican Republics Haitian residents. Particularly this summer. Many Haitians and Dominicans of darker complexions were sent to Haiti (voluntarily and by force). I usually don’t write such charged literature, so I figured I’d need an outline.

Outlining is terribly stifling to me and time consuming when I have so little time to write as it is, but upon engaging in this activity I discovered in addition to the characters and conflict a writer must have a theme in mind that they want to work with it.

Theme is the illusive element of the story that teachers use to torture students with and any good con-artist posing as a student can use it to trick a teacher into thinking that they’ve done some great analysis of a story with the right blend of evidence from the story, but what is theme really for an author?

Tackling Theme

Generally theme is considered the message of you want readers to take away from the story, for example Love conquerors all. When you work in a particular genre there are often themes that are associated with that genre. I write Christian Fiction. Stories in that genre don’t just honor morality, but often take a biblical theme like there is healing in forgiving someone and expound on that using the narrative.  

Sevgiliye
Theme- the message hidden within the text.

Let’s elevate the status of theme. Instead of theme being shoved into a car that is driven a character with a huge personality or flaw or riding on the back of a motorcycle with a crazy plot what if theme became the driving force of the novel? What if when outlining and planning we crafted scenes that would illuminate theme?

As I attempted to outline Children of God the less I thought about conflict and plot and the more I thought what’s the point of this? What are the characters supposed to get from these experiences? What is the reader supposed to get from these experiences? 

Now, in true Neophyte Author fashion I can tell you that I have some working themes. Will they remain I don’t know because when I write I’m never writing alone I’m working with the author and finisher of my faith, Jesus and His will must supersede mine. 

Exercise

What is the theme of your most recent work or WIP? 

Name at least three scenes that develop this–try finding one from the exposition, climax, and denouement (or around there)?

How would you reconstruct those scenes or what would you add to them if you had planned the story with executing the theme as your main objective? 

How can you use this thought process to influence your next piece of writing?

 

#WriterWednesday: Periscope for Writers Branding and Building a Community

Just when you think you’ve gotten a handle on your social media management another app pops up. I’ve never really done a post about social media before, but I really want to talk about this new app, Periscope ( I LOVE IT).

What is it?

Periscope is an app for streaming live video. As you record your followers can tune in. They can comment on the broadcast periscopeas you stream and they can share your broadcast with their followers on Twitter or their followers on Periscope. Within the app the replay of your broadcast is only available for twenty-four hours. There is another app called katch me  or periscopevault.com in which your broadcasts can be replayed. 

Is it for Writers?

Yes!!! It’s your own channel. You can talk about your books, talk about writing, talk about crocheting. Whichever way you use it make sure that your scopes are consistent with your brand. I write Christian Fiction, so it would be totally crazy for a viewer to log on and find me on there talking about how worried and stressed out I am. I’ve basically been dividing my ‘scopes into book ‘scopes and my faith ‘scopes. I am not too technical with my ‘scopes, but there are several others who you should follow that are using Periscope to build there brand and share their brand message. 

Building a Community

Since Periscope is so new you can establish you own community and expose your work to new readers. Periscope is not dependent on your Facebook friends following you or your followers from any other network. This is a place for you to network with new authors and readers. Hashtags are currency on Periscope. Add hashtags to the title of your broadcast to put yourself in front of new a readers. Be sure to engage with the viewers as they comment on your post. 

I Don’t Want  to Set Up a New Account

You don’t have to. Periscope is connected to Twitter. You don’t need to establish a new profile and every time you ‘scope the app automatically sends out a tweet to your followers. So, you don’t have any excuses. 

Who to Follow

So, you want tips on using Periscope. ]If you’re on there already but expand your network and community or you want to get a feel for the app before actually ‘scoping follow the people below. Of course you’ve got to follow The Neophyte Author.

@NewNigeria

Tiphani Montgomery @TiphaniMontgomery (entrepreneur)

Shelley Hitz @shelleyhitz (author coach)

Lashaunda Hoffman @SORMAG (author coach and book promoter)  

Are you on Periscope? Drop your handle below and what you ‘scope about in the comments.

#WriterWednesday: When Inspiration Strikes or Not

This is a late night edition of #WriterWednesday, but if you’re anything like me this is when you get your best work done. That is if you feel inspired, but what happens when you’re not feeling it?

I’m going to tell you what to do when you’re not feeling it. Treat your writing like your faith–keep walking anyway. As Christians we walk by faith and not by sight. It doesn’t matter what we see or what’s going on around us we’re supposed toGood idea stand. What do you think you’re supposed to do with your gift? Only write when the muse strikes or when you’re wearing your lucky green socks?

No…don’t worship the muse or wait for the muse that is idol worship. Worship the Lord, who is the giver of every good and perfect gift, in spirit and in truth and watch the words flow. Watch how you’re fingers fly if you just sit down and say “It’s not me, but it’s in you, Lord and I want to be used by you no matter the time–day or night and regardless of how I feel.” 

How do I know that this method will work? Because I’m doing it right now. I wasn’t feeling it. I wasn’t inspired and I have nothing to say, but I want to be consistent (as a good blogger should be), I want to be encouraging to new authors and share what I am learning (I am The Neophyte Author, right), but I don’t want to sound like a broken record either rehashing all kinds of lessons on writing that are available all over the internet. So, as I tried to think of what to write about this Wednesday I said a prayer and left my computer alone. I went about my day the way I normally do (pick up Boogie from camp, eat dinner, and hit up Bible Study).

Now it’s after ten and I said this night will not end with me offering something. In this moment the Jesusmet me (that’s the Lord I’ve been referencing if you want to get to know him see the What Must I Do to b Saved? page) and gave me these words. Don’t trust your gift, talent, or calling for they come without repentance (God gives you what you need to be who He wants you to be before you’ve even considered serving Him), but trust in the one who gave it to you. Yield yourself to him and do what you have been called to do, share your gift, and cause your talent to be multiplied and bring the bounty all back to him. That means work in spite of feeling inspired work as unto Him and He will take care of the rest.

#WriterWednesday: 3 Lessons Writers Can Learn From Misty Copeland

Unless you were offline yesterday or out of the country then you know what wonderful event occurred yesterday and in case you don’t I’ll give you the skinny. Misty Copeland has become the first African-American woman to be named principal dancer for the American Ballet Theater. Now, you may be wondering what writers can learn from dancers, but any time someone reaches their dreams or some level of success there is something we can all glean from that.

3 Lessons from Misty Copeland

1. You’re never too old to begin. Misty began her dancing career at the age of thirteen which in the world of professional dancing is the equivalent of a stay-at-home mom trying to reenter the workforce after little Joey’s on his way to college. So, dust off that manuscript or exert some extra effort to promote you’re current novel. You’re not too old to do this and be a success.

2. Don’t listen to the naysayers. Ignore every no you get and continue to work on being better. Misty was told she couldn’t do this not just because of her age, but the fact that she didn’t look like a dancer. You may have been told no that won’t work for a variety of reasons. Forget the naysayers, forget the realist who say that’s never been done before or that’s not going to work. It is and it will because you’re going to make it work.

 

 

3. You have to have a goal or destination in mind and always reach higher. Since Misty began dancing all she wanted to do was be a part of ABT and she achieved that. It wasn’t enough to be a dancer or to be a soloist. Misty wanted to be the big cheese and now she is.

So, this week let’s not just focus on craft, but on being inspired to push forward. Who else’s journey inspires you or has taught you how to push forward? Please share their story in the comments.

#WriterWednesday: Organizing a Virtual Book Tour

This week the Neophyte Author is on tour–virtually. So, what better topic to discuss than organizing a virtual book tour.

Let’s break it down a bit for those who don’t about Virtual Book Tours. A virtual book tour is when an author visits blogs, radio shows, writes guest post, etc. to share their latest work with readers during a specific period of time. The length is up to you–one week, two weeks, a month.

Options

Dollarphotoclub_84358845You have two options–hire someone to organize your tour for you or organize it yourself. I decided to organize the tour myself and thanks to God’s favor this week has been a great tour week. 

DYI Tips

  • Organize, organize, organize. If you’re not well connected in the publishing world or know a bunch of bloggers and radio show host then you’re going to have get organized, well in advance. Most bloggers schedule posts in advance and they are not going to break their timeline for you.You need to start arranging the tour six months in advance.Don’t any bloggers or want to step outside of your comfort zone visit Book Blogger Directory to find bloggers in your genre.
  • Also, be prepared to be rejected. Some bloggers will not want you, your content, or book. If you’re going to be spending money on this tour you better be prepared to spend time putting this tour together.
  • Beware of sites in which you have to pay to be featured on their website. Yes, this a promo tour and sometimes you have to pay for promotion, but paying to be featured on a blog is a little sketchy unless that blogger has a huge audience with some guaranteed results.
  • Create graphics for free using Pic Monkey or Ribbet.
  • Select several different excerpts so that your fans, followers, and friends can have a rich experience while following the tour. 
  • Know your purpose. A blog tour is to create awareness and announce your presence. Don’t go crazy if after you’ve organized this phenomenal tour the only person who buys a copy of your book is your grandmother in Toledo. People cannot purchase something that they don’t know about. A Virtual Book Tour is your introduction to them. 

Have you organized your own virtual book tour before? Share your experiences in the comments. If you haven’t tried one yet make sure you come back and let me know how it goes.

If you’re in the New York City area and want to attend a workshop with me join The Neophyte Auauthortalk theresa & nigeria (1)thor on Saturday, June 20, 2015 for a publishing workshop and book signing. Admission is free and copies of Born at Dawn will be available for purchase. 

#WriterWednesday: What’s Your Writing Super Power?

One of my student’s walked up to me the other day and asked me, “Is it true?” I squinted at him and asked, “Is what true?” “What they say about your writing,” he said waving a photocopy of Publisher’s Weekly Review of Seasoned with Grace. “They say dialogue is your strong point. Is that true?”

I really hadn’t considered that whether or not what Publisher’s Weekly said about me was true. I was just to glad that the Lord had moved on my behalf and caused them to review my book. I thought about it for a moment and I decided I didn’t agree with Publisher’s Weekly (relax, I’m not crazy). I never considered dialogue my strong suit, although I run my mouth more than enough, so I ought be good at writing dialogue.

To me my strength, my writing super power is my voice. I think that early on I was able to subconsciously develop this very

girl power super hero confidence in kids or children

sharp and hard voice that reflected my city life. I didn’t know it until I was working on my Masters in Creative Writing. Every week my peers (mostly white) would praise me for my how well versed I was with the vernacular. For awhile it stung. I didn’t want my poems to be praised for the vernacular I wanted people to praise my poetry for its beauty. I attempted to write a beautiful poem one week for our workshop and they praised me, but they noted that this poem was different from all my other work. I confessed my feelings to them and nearly broke down crying–for once in my life I didn’t want to be this black writer with a voice that echoed the concrete. I wanted daises to be birthed on the wings of my words. I wanted to prove to them and to me that I could write like them. Once class was over and I had successfully won them over I went back to writing lyrics about the feel of asphalt under my feet. I found it took too much thought to write like someone else. It was too difficult to fill my mouth with the words of other and make them pretty.

I reclaimed my voice and went back creating pieces that reflected the beauty and ugly I found in the world using my own tongue. For me that is my Writing Super Power that’s another way I am able to be a trailblazer.

What’s your writing super power? What’s your strength? What sets your writing apart from everyone else in your genre?

If an answer doesn’t come write away maybe read a chapter or two of your most recent work and a chapter or two of someone else in your genre and look for the nuances–are you a master of setting a scene? create strong characters? write good bad guys? teach lessons subtly? Often our focus is on improving our weakness, but what would happened if we embraced and nurtured our strengths?

Don’t forget to post your strengths in the comments section. I might need your help.

SEASONED-WITH-GRACE (1)Don’t forget to order a copy of Seasoned with Grace or to tell a friend or two about it. It’s coming out this summer, July 28th.  Pre-order on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Books-a-million. Stay tuned for details on the  Seasoned with Grace Launch Party and Style Session as well as the virtual party.

#WriterWednesday: Time to Write

As a neophyte author or aspiring author time to write doesn’t exist. In our materialistic society there very often isn’t time built into our schedules for things that don’t bring income into the home. Now add to that the fact that we live in an microwave society where everything has to happen within seconds–it makes it almost impossible for a new writer with bills to find time to write if the words aren’t bringing in the cashflow immediately. 

Here’s what you have to do–the same way that you have created a whole world of people with a series of issues that you need to tend to you must create your time to write. 

There are some writers who will tell you that you must write everyday in order to call yourself a writer. 

This next statement is going to be very controversial. I don’t write everyday and I call myself an author (don’t look at your computer screen like that). It’s true I don’t write everyday. I’ve written everyday this week, but I don’t write everyday.

 I’m a one woman show in a sense. While I am traditionally published Actually, I am no longer traditionally published. Let’s

Typewriter Story Writing

restate that–while my first two novels were traditionally published God and I have been my publicity team. With a full-time job as an educator in the classroom, a husband, two kids (who live with me unlike those girls on reality t.v. that get to leave their kids with their mamas while they pursue their dreams) writing everyday is really difficult. 

Now, when I do sit down to write here’s how I create time to write

  • Nix lunch. Skip your lunch break at work. Brown bag it and bust out the laptop. That’s an hour of writing there. 
  • Transform your down time–when I drop my girls off at dance class I tote my laptop with me and while their working the beat my fingers are flying
  • Classic Early Bird/Night Owl–Either you rise before dawn and everyone in your house lets out their first yawn or you stay up while everyone in your household enters the early stages of REM sleep. 

I used to feel guilty about not doing what everyone else was doing, but with my second novel Seasoned with Grace SEASONED-WITH-GRACE (1)scheduled to be released, July 28, 2015 and a novella, Tempted to Touch coming soon with Inheritance Books. The guilt has been assuaged because I do not write everyday that doesn’t make me any less of a writer than anyone else. There are teachers that I work with who teach night classes and Saturday school. I haven’t stopped calling myself an educator because I don’t teach eight hours a day six days a week. It would be foolish for me and any other new  other to discredit themselves because they haven’t found their footing yet.  I’m going to continue creating time to write when I am able to and recommend you do the same. 

How do you currently create time to write? Which one of the suggestions above might help you create more time to write and advance your goals. 

For more information about making time to write and publishing if you’re in the New York City are please join myself and author, Theresa A. Campbell at the Yonkers Public library for a workshop on the path to publication–where we share our authortalk theresa & nigeria (1)experiences and tips and tricks to help you get past the dream stage and into the area of manifestation. 

#WriterWednesday: Comparison Kills

“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have:

for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”

Hebrews 13:5

You are gifted. You are a creative force to be reckoned with, but something is killing you and stunting your progress. Do you know what’s killing you?

You are killing you by comparing yourself, your success or your seeming lack thereof to other author’s successes. Stop committing writer suicide–comparison kills.

4 Ways to Change Your Focus

1. Become a trailblazer–while it’s important to know what’s out there, what’s going on, and what’s trending you don’t become a staple by following the trends. Trailblazers are monumental. Trailblazers don’t try to conform with the norm, but they operate their gifts the way they want. Many Christian Fiction novels are set in the south or a small towns, but all of my Leader Solutionswork has New York City as it’s backdrop. Why? New York is who I am as an author. I am asphalt not green grass. Now, I could imagine small town living to grab the audience and keep up with the trend, but in my mind every girl living in a small town is named Misty and speaks with a twang, but I know New Yawkers and they’re in my heart, so I write what’s in my heart. I’m blazing my trail. I don’t have time to look at the fire beside me while generating my own.

2. Know what you deserve-You don’t deserve anyone else’s success. Furthermore, you don’t want it either because you have no idea what the price of that success was. You deserve to be successful, but you can’t have the success that God has promised if you’ve got your eyes on someone else’s. Trust in His word and in the plan that he has for each one of us, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” (Jer. 29:11) Repeat this verse each time you find yourself eyeing someone else’s success and get happy about what God has for you.

3. Be Consistent. Be Flexible-Consistency mingled with flexibility is what makes a brand or an artist successful. Think of your favorite author or musician who’s been able to span decades. They consistently produced work, but they were flexible enough to grow with their audience. Stop looking at the accolades of authors around you and keep producing good content and just like a diamond buried in the earth someone will discover you.

4. Get Real-Some authors have teams of people promoting them, some authors have publicists that they work with on a regular basis. If you don’t have any that then be real with yourself–there are two things you can do. Either you save some duckets so that you can afford a team or publicist or pat yourself on the back for your efforts and keep going until you reach your destination. Get real about how long it takes to become a success. Rome wasn’t built in a day neither was Oprah, or J.K. Rowling. 

Bottom line stop trying to walk in other people’s shoes they’re not your size. Walk in the blessings and the calling that God has placed upon you. Own it each day and celebrate you each day. 

What advice do have for authors who committing writer suicide by comparing themselves to others? 

#WriterWednesday: Making a Book Fair Work for You

Book fairs can be a risky investment (you may not earn what you spent to get there), but I recommend making the investment. Here’s the why and how to make it work it work for you. 

Why Attend a Book Fair?

  • That’s where readers are! This reason should be simple and self explanatory. You’re a writer and you want to either to build a following or develop your growing following. There’s nothing like going out and meeting the people to build  a following
  • Networking–a book fair provides you with the opportunity to meet other authors, bloggers, etc. Which can lead to education on marketing strategies, connections, and greater understanding of the craft and business of writing. 

How to Make it Work for You

  • Attend a book fair that is geared towards the audience you want to reach. For example, my intended audience consists of black women ages 25-45, so this weekend I attended the Black Book Fair. A perfect place to encounter my audience and anyone else who may be interested in my writing. 
  • Take some time and search for fairs, festivals, and conferences that are geared toward your genre and your audience for vending opportunities.
  • During your down time (if you have an assistant) step away from your table and meet the authors around you, hand out flyers/cards/bookmarks or any other promotional item you have to readers. I did this at the Black Book Fair and I was able, by the grace of God to get a reader to follow me back to my table and purchase a book. 

    My sister, Nicole after setting up my table.
    My sister, Nicole after setting up my table.

How to Prepare for the Book Fair

Preparation is necessary for prosperity.

  • Be prepared to accept any forms of payment (except checks of course). You can get a Square reader for free from their site in order to accept electronic payments
  • Get change in advance. Yes, there is always some kind person who has change to spare, but really you need to have your own. 
  • Pack everything the night before. Your books, email list sign up sheet, candies, display items, etc. Be sure to check with the sponsors on the level of decoration allowed or feasible for that particular venue. Actually, you may want to keep the less is more concept in mind because an excessive amount of decoration may deter some readers. 
  • If possible have someone work the booth. Your nerves may be rattled and your adrenaline is pumping and you’re trying to do it all. Stop trying to do it all–bring a friend, sister, or cousin to give you a hand and chat with you when it’s slow. My sister always assists me during events (she’ll assist you if you want use the Contact page to request her help she does event planning, decorations, hosting, sales, and publicity) 
  • ENJOY! Have fun.

If you have any questions or information to share about attending book fairs and festivals please post them in the comments. 

#WriterWednesday: How to Handle Bad Reviews

I know some of you believe that you are such excellent writers that a bad review knows better than to come around you, but the reality of it is at least once in your writing career there is going to be reader who will post a review that doesn’t sound like it’s about the book you wrote. When that does happen here are some tips on how to handle it. 

Step off of Your Pedestal

Yes, you’re brilliant. Yes, you worked hard on your book. Yes, your story line is very captivating, but you are not the end all be it all of your genre. Even Jesus the son of God, the prince of peace, the incarnate word’s ministry was criticized and very harshly. Everyone was not in love with His gospel or His work, so step off your pedestal and accept the fact that like the son of God, though you created your work for everyone some will reject you. 

Say Thank You

If you requested this review regardless of what the reviewer said make sure you say thank you. Don’t burn your bridges whether you’re a new author or an seasoned one you don’t want to build a bad reputation along side this negative review. 

Chew on the Review and Spit it Out or Use it to Nourish Your CraftPoor Customer Service Evaluation Form

This review may come with some tips that can help you in the future or it can be pure rubbish. Read it and use the tone of the reviewer and the contents of the review to determine whether or not this review is helpful. In one slightly negative review I received the first line of the review started with “The plot was good. There weren’t any grammatical errors, which is a plus.” That tells me right away that this person was reading with the intent to find something wrong and when you go fishing you’re bound to catch something. Did I take this review to heart? No. I chewed on it and spit it out. In another critical review the reviewer flip-flopped between praising my work and bashing. If you can’t pick a side I can’t take that review to heart. 

Just as a reviewer will dissect your work dissect the review–chew on it and spit it out or use it to nourish your craft. 

March Forward

You got one bad review–and President Obama has received several, he hasn’t moved out of the White House yet. Jesus received so much criticism because of His message–Israel’s leaders wanted to kill Him. That didn’t stop Him from doing the job He was sent to do and one (or two) negative reviews shouldn’t stop you in your tracks.

Write all the stories that are in you. Someone is waiting to read your book.

March forward.