#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: 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.

 

#WriterWednesday: Grand Opening

How do you start a great and monumental scene? Do you open with dialogue? Do you start while the pressure is on your hero or heroine has to make a decision right away? Do you set the scene? Or do you mark the scene with some great philosophical quandary?

There isn’t a wrong answer, however there is one opening that is growing less and less popular–setting the scene. In the age of instant oatmeal (which I am a fan of), instant mashed potatoes, and instant celebrities. Most people want everything to happen instantly including some faithful bibliophiles who are like ‘chuck the deets give me the meat’.

If you’re anything like me what you really long to do is open a scene and spend at least a paragraph describing the way that the light refracted off of the river and illuminated the contour and freckles of your protagonist. But, “ain’t nobody got time for that.” So, is this a complaining ranting post where I talk about how much I long for the golden days of literature.

No way, it is important to do all things without murmuring and complaining and when possible I find a solution. Which I believe I have.

Magazines.

I don’t know how they figured out the formula, but magazine journalists have figured out the formula. There’s a way to set the scene and still engage the reader. Let’s look at two examples from Essence magazine:

“Keke Palmer is frozen in a selfie squat in 40-degree weather. It’s a familiar stance: knees slightly bent, chin up and a pout for the camera. We’re outside the backstage entrance of Manhattan’s Broadway Theatre, where steel barriers are the only thing separating her from a crowd of about 50 girls.” ~ “Sugar and Spice” by Clover Hope, Essence January 2015

 

“…She breezes into the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills pushing a carriage and looking like the picture of bliss. She peeks in on her little one, Titan Jewell Weatherspoon, before slipping into her seat and discussing the immense changes she has undergone over the past year.” (I’m not a fan, but I want to keep reading. I want to sip tea with them at the Four Seasons and get all into her business.) ~ “Oh Baby!” by Britni Danielle, Essence April 2015

Both examples provide the reader with enough details to visualize what’s going on without getting bogged down. That’s our job now as modern writers give the people a show-set a scene, but don’t drag them through the mud just to see it.

Sound difficult? It may be, actually it is. But try this to get you started, grab the closest magazine to you or hit the local market and pick up a magazine, turn to the feature article and check out how the author expertly weaves in details that set the scene and engage you as a reader. Nothing lost and everything gained.

Like what you see? After you finish reading try creating your own grand opening? How do you set a scene?

#WriterWednesday: Warning RWW is Prohibited

About two weeks ago one of my colleagues opened her email to show me the first few pages of a novel she’d begun a long time ago and had since abandoned. She wasn’t sure if there was any way her manuscript could be turned into a novel. The more we discussed it I realized why her few pages of writing couldn’t become more than the few pages saved to her email–she had been RWW (Revising While Writing)

Revising While Writing is Prohibited. 

If you keep mulling over your work trying to create the perfect opening you’ll never craft the perfect closing. 
The longer you spend revising paragraphs you’ll never complete a chapter. 

Warning yellow tape with tunnel as backgroundMost writers who step away from their work for an extended period of time are usually prone to revising while writing. I know exactly how it happens you leave the story unattended while dealing with your real life and then when you return and read what you’ve written you slap yourself in the face and reprimand yourself for writing such crap. Then you start rewriting. 

Stop. 

Revising While Writing is Prohibited.

Now, here’s how you curb that. When you step away from your work in progress don’t reread the entire chapter before you start writing. Reread the last two sentences you wrote or the last paragraph if you need more context before you continue. Then write. Don’t make adjustments, play with the words, or give your rebellious heroine a nose ring. Focus on advancing the story instead of rearranging the story.

You can tackle your major issues later.

What are some of the major issues you have with your writing? Leave them in the comments section so, we can tackle them before you’re done.  

#WriterWednesday: Old School

I recently embarked on very old school journey with my writing. I actually wrote. I didn’t type and save, and then back up my most recent piece of writing. I wrote it longhand before typing it. I know that sounds totally crazy and it was. It was laborious. Just when I starting patting myself on the back for having finished writing my first novella I realized I had to type the thing. However, there was a huge benefit to this process. IMG_0240

This week for #WriterWednesday I’m encouraging you to go old school. Before you shoot this idea down let’s work this out. 

Cons

  • Time consuming–It seems like double duty, but it’s not. It’s going to cut back on your revision/editing time or at the least change the process.
  • I’m used to writing on the computer not with pen and paper. It’s always good to challenge yourself as a writer and try something different. You never know when you’ll need to do this. My first novel, Born at Dawn was written long hand. The second novel I wrote, Seasoned with Grace was all on the computer, but the demands of the protagonist and narrator of Tempted to Touch would not allow me to just sit and type, but something happened in all that hassle. 

Pro

During the process of taking my story from crazy scribbled notes to a beautifully typed manuscript I had to look at my words again. I had to look at the sentences again. I had to look at the characters again. I was able to spot overused words, poor word choice, and lack of detail and/or too much detail. I had the chance to break up sentences and play with their structure and I had a chance to spot inconsistencies. Does that mean I won’t have to edit? Of course not, but it does mean that the process looks different because I examined the story more closely. 

Challenge: I dare you to go old school today, whether it be a paragraph, a page, or a thousand words. Write something longhand before typing it and watch the transformation take place. Share your transformation in the comments or just your experience in the comments.

Happy Writing! 

#WriterWednesday : Mental Health Day

Writers are wacky. Yes, I said it. We live with people and stories in our heads. Words haunt us at times and characters cajole us out of bed to tell their tales. What every writer needs to do frequently is take a mental health day, Take a break from the words and the people living in your head and connect with the real people in your life. Negatives Positives Computer Keys Showing Plus And Minus Alternatives Analysis And Decisions

Stop yelling at me and looking at the computer screen funny. I know that you need to write. You are a committed and dedicated artist who must write something every single day. Now for the reality check in order to write well you need to be well. Yes, in fits of madness, sadness, or even depression you may feel like a creative genius or you may produce your greatest work, but those moods are not enough to sustain your writing career, 

Take a break. As a matter of fact do something us writers rarely do–celebrate you. Celebrate the work that you accomplished. If you only typed one word today bust out the Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider and do a happy dance you are not where you were yesterday. Don’t even get into that self-deprecating train of thought, but I’m not where I want to be. You are not where you were and you are taking steps to change that. Celebrate. 

I give you permission to celebrate.