Sunday, January 31, 2016

Here’s How to Get Started Writing a Book in 7 Steps


1. Create a Workspace (or clean up the one you have)



It doesn’t matter if you plan on doing the bulk of your writing in the library or in your bed, you should have a designated workspace in your home, apartment, or room. A basic desk and a comfortable chair are the two main ingredients for your workspace. Everything else, such as bookshelves, is icing on the cake.

If you already have a workspace, get it cleaned up. Organize your papers and put away the books you won’t be using for your book.

2. Make Quiet Time


Unless you are one of those people who can write in the midst of chaos, chances are pretty high that you will need quiet time to work on your book. Make arrangements with your friends and family so that they understand your need for quiet time.

You will also need to turn off all distractions and email notifications. If you can, turn off your internet connection to avoid getting sidetracked by social media.

3. Find an Idea


After you have created an environment for writing, the next task is to start coming up with ideas on what to write about.

A nonfiction writer should come up with 3 or more ideas in a sitting because not all nonfiction ideas are worth turning into a book.

A fiction writer should begin toying around with basic story themes and characters. Write a basic summary of your story, such as, “A woman falls in love with a mysterious man, but is he really the right man for her or is everything she finds out about him a lie?”

4. Research the Market


After you have a basic idea or ideas, it is time to check out the market.

Nonfiction writers can easily research their ideas on Amazon.com by checking out the ratings on books similar to their ideas. They can also research keywords on Google to see how many people are searching for terms relevant to their topic ideas.

Fiction writers should also take a look on Amazon.com to see how well other books in their genre are selling and to see what other writers are publishing. During this time, they should choose which genre or sub-genre they are going to write their book under.

5. Research or Read 3+ Books Similar to Your Idea


After you have chosen to write about an idea, you should make an effort to read books similar to the one you are writing. Nonfiction writers will also use these books for research for their own book. Fiction writers will be studying plots ideas and character development.

6. Create a Basic Outline


After your research, it is time to begin working on an outline.

Outlines are essential for writing nonfiction. They ensure that you cover everything in your book in a chronological fashion and outlines force you to do your research before you start writing the book.

With fiction, there are many different styles to outlining. Some writers avoid outlines altogether. Some prefer a short outline that shows all the plot points. Other writers create an outline that is 10 or more pages long. Choose your outline style and, if it doesn’t work, you can always stop writing and go back to build or deconstruct your original outline.

7. Write


After you have completed all of the above, the only thing left for you to do is write. One of the hardest things a writer faces is the actual writing. Plant your butt in a chair and prepare yourself mentally for the long haul.

Create a daily word count goal. I find this helps me reach my writing goals quickly. With a set daily word count, I am able to devote those words to both blog and book writing.

Some writers skip keeping tabs on their word count and instead use blocks of time. For example, they give themselves 1 to 4 hours of writing time a day.

Find a method that works best for you and refine it.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Choosing a Nonfiction Niche to Write About

You will read a lot about "finding your niche" when researching ebook and blog topics. A niche (pronounced "neesh") is simply a topic within a broader subject. For example, if you are thinking about creating a book or blog about cats, you can make your main focus of your writing about cat breeds, cat care, or cat training. Each of these three topics is a niche within the subject of cats.

What Are You Good At?


Before you start an ebook or blog, you need to understand what you are good at. Grab a sheet of paper and fold one edge to the center. Bring the other edge of the paper to the center and crease it. When you open the paper, you should have three sections. Feels like school again, doesn't it? But I promise you that this is the best way to discover your niche.

At the top of the first section, write "Good At". Underneath that, I want you to write down everything that you feel you are good at. And please, don't say you are good at nothing. We all have talents and skills.

Locations


In the second section, write "Locations" at the top. Underneath that, write down where you live. Also write down any local tourist towns or cities. Do you know if there are a lot of hiking trails in your area? Perhaps the county you live in has a bunch of haunted houses or you live in a farming community with lots of fresh local produce. Anything that has to do with your location, write it down.

What Are Your Interests?


At the top of the third section, write "Interests". This is where I want you to list everything that interests you. You don't have to know a lot about something to list it. If cheese making sounds interesting to you, but you have never made any cheese, list it. I mean it, anything and everything that catches your attention and makes you want to try it out and investigate it.

Keep Going


Don't expect to get this list completed in one sitting or in a day. In fact, keep the list with you for at least two days and keep adding to it.

When you feel that you have a good list, you need to examine all the ideas you have written down. This is how you will find your niche. For example, let's say you live in the Poconos. The area is rich with hiking trails and losing weight is something that interests you. Right there you can come up with a niche or two: hiking to lose weight or hiking trails in the Poconos. Hiking to lose weight will attract readers who are looking for a fun way to actively lose weight. Hiking trails in the Poconos will attract tourists and hikers who are planning their next vacation or outing.

Another example: Let's say you are good at baking cookies and your kids think you are the magical cookie goddess. In your interests, you listed bee keeping, but you don't have the resources (yet) to start up this hobby. Instead, you might want to look into writing about baking cookies with honey. Over time, and as you earn more income, you can expand into bee keeping and create a sister ebook or blog to tie in with your honey cookie writing.

Make a full list of nonfiction niche ideas.

More Niche Examples


Let's say you enjoy sewing, but creating a blog about sewing is just too broad of a topic for one person to cover efficiently. So, for your niche you chose to create a blog about sewing hot pads. Here are a list of more broad subjects that have been broken down into a niche topic that can be turned into an ebook or blog.

  • Sewing -- Hot pads.
  • Knitting -- Knitting sweaters.
  • Crochet -- Crochet magnets.
  • Wood burning -- Fairy wood burning patterns.
  • Cooking -- Skillet meals.
  • Baking -- Casserole recipes.
  • Grilling -- Grilling for beginners.
  • Online income -- Writing for Smashwords.com.
  • Photography -- Photographing food.
  • iPad -- iPad apps for kids.
  • Chrome Apps -- The best Chrome apps for busy moms.
  • Christianity -- Desserts for Christian holidays.
  • Judaism -- Traditional Jewish meals.
  • Islam -- Islamic crafts for children.
  • Wicca -- Handfasting rituals and traditions.
  • New Age -- Healing the mind with crystals.
  • Beauty -- Natural skin care.
  • Relationships -- Recovering from divorce.
  • Nutrition - Nutrition for toddlers.
  • Exercise - 5 minute exercise routines.
  • Weight loss - Weight loss for women in their 40s.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Blogging Your Novel to Gain Fans

Since 1997, I have come across numerous writers who started their career by either making posts of their works in progress to websites, forums, or blogs. For many of these writers, this was an important step in building a small, but loyal fan base.

What to Post


It is most common for beginning fiction writers to post their first draft or second draft onto their blog. They do this by posting one chapter a day or one chapter a week. Like a serial book published in a magazine, the writer builds a fan base and builds tension and suspense by not posting all of the book at once.

After the Book has been Posted


After the entire book has been posted to the blog, it continues to go through a series of edits. Sometimes readers are good enough to critique the work and post comments about strong and weak spots in the book. Any good writer will take the good and the bad into consideration as she or he continues with the book edits.

Publishing


There was a time when publishers would not touch a manuscript that was first published online. With the introduction of self publishing on Kindle and other ebook platforms, the loss is on the side of the publishers.

Writers are now able to take their final, edited draft and publish it themselves. They have worked to build up their fan base, they built a list of potential buyers of the book they have posted online and, many times, readers will go on to read the finished version of the book as well as purchase any other books published by the writer.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Break Free of the Internet and Write

The internet is a huge distraction. Social media, such as Facebook and Twitter are time suckers, draining away the minutes and hours that you could have spent writing. Fortunately, there are some basic tricks you can use to wean yourself off of the internet and focus on your writing.

1. Disconnect.


The simplest thing you can do to stop yourself from getting distracted by the internet is simply disconnect your computer from it. You do not need to be logged on 24-7. This way, you won't be interrupted my new mail dings and new post bloops.

2. Rewards.


Use the internet and especially social media as a reward for doing X amount of work. For example, after you have finished writing 1,000 words, you will allow yourself 10 minutes of internet time. Set up a timer for yourself and stick to it. No cheating or you will have to use the next method.

3. Pen and Paper.


If the above tricks don't work for you, get old fashioned. Shut your computer down. Grab a pen and paper and begin writing. You can type it all in later or hire someone else to decipher your scribble and type it in for you.

4. Hire a Social Media Copywriter


If you feel that you need the social media as a means of marketing your books, hire someone else to do it for you so that you can focus on writing your books.

Self Control


To be a writer, you need to have self-control and, while you are writing, you need to eliminate outside distractions. This means putting away your phone or turning it off (or just flush the damn thing down the toilet), reducing your internet distractions, and taking a sledgehammer to your television set. All those noisemakers are unnecessary to a happy life and they are huge time wasters. And time is something that is not on a writer's side to begin with.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Turn the Desire to Write a Book into a Goal

You want to write a book, and each year you think that maybe this will be the year that you do it, but it never seems to happen. Right? Make a plan, right now, to write a book.

Set the Goal


Your ultimate goal is to write a book, but to most people writing a book is a daunting task. So daunting, in fact, that the majority of people who want to write a book never do. Don't let this be you.

Grab a piece of paper and write your ultimate goal along the top: Write a Book.

Underneath this, you are going to create a step by step checklist list of things you need to do to get started and finished with your book.

Copy this checklist down under your title.

1. Decide what you want to write about: fiction or nonfiction, genre or subject. Write it down.
2. Write a 1 to 2 sentence summary of what your book is about.
3. Come up with a title.
4. Create an outline for your book.
5. Write 1,000 words a day. More, if you are able. Continue step 5 until book is finished.
6. First edit.
7. First proofread.
8. Get a 2nd pair of eyes to read through your book.
9. Prepare cover or order a cover.
10. Format book.
11. Publish.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Building a Novel Plot With Plotto

If you have never heard of Plotto before, it is a book that was originally published in 1927 by William Wallace Cook. Before you groan at the thought of having to purchase yet another book on writing, Plotto is available online for free.

Read Plotto for free at the Online Library.

Plotto turns plotting into a game and I am going to show you how you can quickly build a plot using this book.

1. Choose Clauses


Your first step is to choose your 3 “clauses”.

Clause A represents your main character.
Clause B is the start of the action - the “something” that happens.
Clause C is the carry-through to the ending.

I am going to use the book to choose my 3 Clauses:

A-13: A person influenced by the occult and the mysteries.
B-54: Becoming involved in a puzzling complication that has to do with an object possessing mysterious powers.
C-2: Emerges from a serious entanglement.

2. Start to Build


If you followed along with me through step 1, we now have the most basic direction of a plot. The next step is to build up the plot using the suggestions within the book and also using our own ideas.

Open a new file, type in your chosen clauses and begin to build your plot directly.

Since I chose, in Clause B, number 54, Plotto suggests I go to Mystery 1379 in the book and I have altered what the book suggests..

Example:

  • A woman influenced by the occult and the mysteries. She investigates strange phenomena in the hopes of understanding her own dark past.
  • Learns of mysterious object found in a certain place.
  • Person dies suddenly. Death is tied to mysterious object.
  • Solves mystery and emerges from a serious entanglement.


I am very happy with this basic plot outline and I am now finished with Plotto.

3. Begin Writing or Do More Plotting


What we have right now is the most basic idea for our story. If you choose, you can start writing your first draft immediately, creating your characters and the finer details as you go. Or, you can begin conforming the story to the modern dramatic plot.

Using the modern dramatic plot:

  • Story’s Intent (what the main character want’s to achieve): To solve the mystery of object found.
  • Start of Tension: Learns of mysterious objects found in a certain place. Person dies suddenly. Death is tied to mysterious object.
  • Small Victory: Main character discovers the history of the object.
  • Intense Action: Believes she’s discovered how to destroy the object before it kills another person.
  • Disappointment: All attempts to destroy the objects fail.
  • Disaster: Another person dies because of the object and a third person become deathly ill. If the object is not destroyed, he will die.
  • Resolution: Main character discovers way to destroy the object. Object is destroyed. Sick character becomes well again. Main character gets a call about another strange finding and goes to her next adventure.


4. Fill in the Details


Now we have a very thorough story outline that follows the points of the dramatic plot. We can either begin writing our book or we can start filling in more details in our plot until the outline turns into a first draft.

**It took me less than an hour to create this basic plot and write this post at the same time.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Characteristics of a Writer

The other day I had a teenager ask me, "How do you become a writer?" Without a thought, I snapped, "Write."

Is it true? Is becoming a writer as simple as sitting the wondrous ass in a chair and writing word after word? Yes. And no.

A lot more goes into the trade of writing.

First, you will also need to do some reading. No, wait. I mean A LOT of reading. Why reading? Because that is how writers learn how to write. It is where we discover how people interact in books, how to create casual conversations, drop plot hints, and create a mood.

Writers also study grammar to some extent. We know how to form sentences, spell most words correctly (and use a dictionary when needed), and we know which rules we can break.

As a writer, you will also need to develop a thick, resilient, super-duper strength hide. If you plan on finding a literary agent, prepare to get turned down. If you are submitting your work to publishers, prepared to be turned down. If you are self-publishing, such as on Kindle, prepare for readers to read your work and hate it, hate it, hate it. Your family will not understand why you want to be a writer. The people you love will tell you to "get a real job." In fact, the life of a writer can get old real fast.

To become a writer, you will also need an astounding amount of determination. After all the rejections and the people you care about poking fun at you, you will still need to write and share it with the world, no matter how many people hate you for being you.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Change Your Motive for Writing Nonfiction

I have read one too many Kindle writing "experts" use money as the main motive for writing nonfiction. While I agree that nonfiction books published on Kindle can earn you a good amount of money, putting money as the main motive for writing nonfiction will more than likely produce a sub-standard book.

What Your Writing Motive Should Be


If you want to write and publish nonfiction, your main motive should be to help and inform the reader. You are providing a service and the reader is paying you for it. Therefore, the reader comes first.

Take this into account when you plan out your book. Who are you writing for and what will that person want to know about your subject? If you are writing for beginners, tailor the book's information so that a beginner can follow it and understand it without having to search online and in other books for more information. If you are writing about advanced skills, treat your readers as knowledgeable people and don't add beginner information as book filler.

Write About Something that Interests You


The number two reason for writing nonfiction is because the subject interests you. You can tell when a writer is not interested in the subject of the book. The tone is flat and boring. The book lacks enthusiasm. On the other hand, when you read a book written by someone who loves her subject, her words jump off the page and she makes you want to rush out and tell everyone what she has read.

Writing for Money Makes Bad Books


I can tell when a book is written just for money. It is flat, boring, trite. Sometimes the author will talk down to the reader in the hopes of elevating himself.

Books that are written by people seeking a quick buck are often short. If they are longer, say over 50 pages, it is because the author filled the book with fluff and advertisements to his other products. The books are painful to read and the ads are just annoying.

Getting Past the Dollar Signs


Not everyone becomes a millionaire publishing Kindle books. In fact, the majority of writers get nowhere close to a million dollars. To succeed at publishing and at pleasing your readers, you need to let those dollar signs fall from your eyes and begin publishing books that serve the reader.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Buying Book Reviews for Kindle Books

Before I ever started publishing my own books on Kindle, I was reading up on people who were making a killing writing book reviews for Kindle ebooks. Nearly all of the reviewers admitted that their reviews were dishonest and that they would merely skim through the chapter headings of each book and write a review from that. It didn't matter if the ebook was poorly written, had grammatical errors, or was written to drive people to a money making website. Good reviews could easily be bought.

Where People Buy Fake Reviews


One of the most popular places to buy a fake review is on Fiverr.com. A quick search for "review kindle" will kick up numerous people willing to give your Kindle book a 5 star review on a verified purchase account on Amazon.com. This one review will cost you $5, but, for $50 you can buy 10 positive reviews for one of your books. That is enough to bring in more buyers and get real, organic reviews.

There are also book review packages you can buy from online review businesses. These businesses, all of which can be found by doing a simple search, will cost you about $1,000 for about 50 positive reviews - far more expensive than buying reviews on Fiverr.com.

Some Known Authors Admit It


To the chagrin of many readers, there have been a small group of writers who have openly admitted to buying positive reviews. Some writers have also gone as far as setting up multiple accounts under different names and begin giving their own books positive reviews on various review websites. By doing this, they are able to build up a fan base faster than if it happened organically.

Practice Pros


There are a number of benefits to buying fake reviews. The first and main reason to buy fake reviews is that it will increase your sales. People buy books based on the look of the book cover, if the content promises something they are looking to read, and the reviews of other customers who have bought and read this book.

You can also build a fan base quicker by creating fake accounts and posting fake reviews. People are, generally, followers. They go with the herd, and if a bunch of people seem to like a particular book or author, they will join the bandwagon.

Practice Cons


Being discovered is one of the top downfalls for writing, buying, and posting fake reviews. Many customers are beginning to understand that many online product reviews are fake, but they still have that glimmering hope that most book reviews are real. When readers discover that a writer has been buying fake reviews, readers will feel betrayed and the author will lose members of his or her fan base.

Buying fake reviews can also lead a writer down a much darker path and into the art of sabotaging competitors books. This is a practice that I have been a victim of - negative reviews written by or bought by competitors to drive out the competition. It is becoming a fairly common practice amongst the hard core Kindle ebook writers/sellers.

Should You Do It?


My personal feeling is that buying positive book reviews is morally wrong. I am sure that there are many writers who would disagree with me.

Buying positive book reviews can increase your initial book sales. If you wrote a great book, then you are boosting your chances of being discovered by millions of readers. If the book you wrote was terribly written and full of grammatical errors, and yet you have 20 positive book reviews, everyone is going to assume that you paid for those reviews and will return your ebook for a refund plus post a negative review. Positive reviews will only fool the readers for so long. The proof is inevitably in the pudding.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Writing eBooks to Help Break Habits

Everybody has a bad habit they want to break:

  • nail biting
  • temper tantrums
  • non-stop texting or spending too much time on the smart phone
  • smoking cigarettes
  • lateness
  • spitting
  • hair chewing
  • drinking coffee or soda
  • always being late
  • excessive television watching
  • lying
  • snacking on unhealthy foods
  • social media
  • constant negativity
  • cracking knuckles
  • procrastination
  • interrupting others when they are speaking


The problem is that while many people realize they have a problem, they do not know how to go about breaking their bad habit. This is where you, the writer can step in.

Have you ever overcome one of your bad habits? How? With some research and some personal insight, you have the makings of a Kindle ebook.

If you currently have one or more of these bad habits, why not do the research and work on breaking yourself free from the habit? Keep notes on what works for you and provide your readers with the knowledge of your actions and results.

More Than One Way to Skin a Psychopath


There are many ways to break a habit and there are numerous personal experiences and personal tricks to breaking bad habits. Cigarette smoking is a prime example of this. Some people have been able to quit cold turkey. Others take a slower approach involving cutting back. A newer method to quitting smoking is to use an electronic cigarette. It doesn't matter if there is already a few ebooks available on this subject, there are still many other methods and personal triumphs to be shared with readers.

Go Step By Step


Some of the habit breaking books I have read provide numerous methods for breaking a habit, but each book lacks a solid plan of action. Hell, anyone can do a search online and read about the methods for breaking a habit for free. Providing readers with day by day steps they can take is the best approach to helping others. Share personal experiences with each step. Give tips on how to make it through the day. Provide ways to trick ourselves into succeeding. People like having a set schedule or plan to follow. They like being able to check things off their list and they love accomplishments, no matter how small.

Provide Real Solutions


Don't offer a solution in your title and then provide readers with no real cure or fix for their bad habits. That will lead to bad reviews and no real sales. The readers that download your book want to make a permanent and positive change in their life. Give them the knowledge, skills, and a plan to do so. You'll get good karma points for this - and a few bucks to boot.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

5 Reasons Why Book Research is Still Better Than Internet Research

Given the choice between doing my research in books and doing my research online, books win out all the time. Internet research can be tedious. There is a lot of just online that you have to weed out when doing keyword searches. Also, facts are unreliable online. Few people list their sources and those that do use less than reputable online sources. These and other reasons are why books and libraries trump internet research hands down.

1. Original Content


When you go into the library and begin your research in books, you will find original and unique content and ideas. Since so many people do their research online these days, the same ideas are being rehashed over and over again. If you dig deep into books, you will get better ideas for content.

2. More Accurate Facts


The internet is full of baloney. People tout rumors and misconceptions as facts all the time on the internet. It’s so much better and easier to hit the sources directly and double check your facts directly in the library.

3. Far More Relaxing


Sitting next to a stack of books is far more relaxing than getting migraines from the bright computer screen.

4. No Clickbait Spamcrap


The internet is filled with crap and no matter which search engine you use, the crapola is everywhere. Cut out the junk by searching through your library’s catalog system. Find articles and books related to what you are researching quickly and easily.

5. The Library is Free


The library is free. Your home internet isn’t. Don’t use up all your bandwidth on research. Use the library’s internet. Oh, and books can be read without the internet and distractions from email and social media.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Do Something About Your Writer Procrastination

We all have our excuses to not work on our books, and they can range from having to do the laundry to writer’s block. Here are ten of the most common ways writers fall into procrastination.

1. You Don’t Want to Sit for Long Periods of Time


You don’t have to sit to write. Many writers stand and write. They find the experience more active and feel that they are more creative if they stand while writing. If you’ve never tried it before, take an hour and write standing up.

2. You Don’t Have Enough Time to Write


You and me both. The trick to finding time to write is to make time to write. Give yourself a writing schedule, even if it is just for 30 minutes a day, and force yourself to write during that time.

3. I’ll Write a Book Later


Yeah, right. It’s either now or never. If you want to be a writer, then you have to write. There might not be a tomorrow.

4. Someone Stole My Idea


Yes, and he stole that idea from another writer who stole that idea from a movie that was scripted by someone who stole the idea from a play that was written by someone who stole the idea from another writer, and so on. There are new ideas. As writers, we create originality by masking the bare bones of a generic plot with our personal thoughts and insights.

5. I Already Have Too Much to Do


Then get those other projects done and out of the way. Better yet, create a to do list and assign yourself 10 tasks to complete each day. Include writing for an hour in that task list. This way, you will not only get those other things done, you will get your writing done, too.

6. I’m Not in the Mood to Write


Poor baby! Most people get up each day, not in the mood to go to work, so why should the writing profession be any different? You need to force yourself to work and find little tricks that will eventually put you in the mood to write. If you find that you are never in the mood to write, find a different line of work such as making videos or creating online courses (both of which can produce a generous extra income).

7. I Can’t Find the Right Words


I’ve faced this problems many times. To get around these word lapses, I simply type in something close to what I want to say. Later, during edits, I will refine what I’ve written and make the wording more polished and insightful. Never search for “just the right words” when writing a first draft. It will only hold you back.

8. My Kids/Husband/Wife Keep Interrupting Me


Talk to your family and let them know how important writing is to you. Ask them for an hour a day of quiet. While this isn’t possible when you have young children, you can train yourself to work around the interruptions and plan your writing time during naps and even getting up an hour before everyone else to get some work done.

9. I Don’t Know Enough


One of the joys of being a writer is that you are constantly learning. You don’t have to be an expert to write a book based in Victorian times, but you should do a bit of research before you begin writing. If you find that you don’t know something while you are working on your book, type in a string of Xs and some back to that section after your first draft is finished.

10. I’m a Terrible Writer


Writing is just like any other skill: the more you do it, the better you get at it. I groan in agony every time I read something I wrote years ago, but I am able to see that I’ve come a long way since that time simply because I never gave up on my writing.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Do You Have What It Takes to Write Kindle Books?

Not everyone has the time, patience, or skills to write and publish Kindle books. Here are several things you need to have and do to succeed.

1. Focus


Are you able to focus on one Kindle book project at a time? Many people dream of writing and publishing their books on Kindle, but then they try to tackle too many ideas all at once. To be able to write and complete a book, you need to be able to focus on one project at a time. Multitasking is a myth, and one you should avoid when writing and publishing your own books.

2. Patience


Writing a good book takes time. Publishing it on Kindle takes only a few minutes. It’s getting buyers that can can take a long while.

Don’t expect people to start buying your book immediately after you publish it. You have to develop a following and gain people’s trust.

3. Write Multiple Books Under Each Pen Name


It is recommended that you write for each genre under a different pen name. This is to avoid confusion among your readers who might associate your name with, for example, horror novels. If you suddenly decide to write and publish a romance novel under the same name you published your horror novels, your readers are in for an ugly surprise.

Create a pen name for each genre you plan to write under and then publish at least 3 books under each pen name to begin building a following.

4. Another Source of Income


Always have a diverse income. I have noticed that my Kindle sales can fluctuate from season to season. Be prepared for this by developing at least two other sources of income.

5. Evergreen Material


You may have just written the best book ever on Christmas paper crafts, but guess what? That book is only going to bring you an income from November to December.

While writing seasonal books can be a lot of fun and profitable during the season’s they represent, you will also need to write books that are evergreen. That means, write books that will interest people all year round.

6. Free Time


Writing books takes a lot of time. If you have another job, your trick will be to make the time to write, edit, and publish your book. There are people who are able to do this with just one hour each day, but it takes a long time to complete the project. Make room in your schedule so that you have at least one hour each day to work on your book. On your days off, plan writing marathon sessions of 4 or more hours.

Monday, January 18, 2016

11 Prompts and Inspirations for Horror and Supernatural Stories

1. You buy an old farm house that you plan to remodel. As you are checking out the crumbling fireplace, you notice that the mortar around one of the bricks is gone. Out of curiosity, you work the brick out of the fireplace and discover a small, wooden coffin. You open it and there is a doll inside of it. How did that doll get into the coffin and why? By opening the coffin, did you unleash the spirit held within the doll?

2. Hypnotism is a fascinating field of study and there have been many strange beliefs about its practice. A most unusual question I have heard asked is, "Can you be hypnotized to not die?" This question was also dabbled with in an old movie featuring Vincent Price, I believe. What would happen to someone who could not die? Would their body continue to deteriorate until only a soul was left "alive"? Would the person go insane and try to steal a new body for his soul to continue living in?

3. Water witches or dowsers use a hazel stick to find water for wells. They can also be hired to find other things, such as a perfect place to begin mining, a lost object, or whatever object they are asked to find. What if a dowser starts finding dead bodies buried on the main character's property? How long have the bodies been there and how did they get there?

4. While I was living in the Poconos a few years ago, some of the local teenagers told me that if you walk through the cemetery during the midnight hour on Halloween Night you would feel the souls of the damned reach up from their graves and tug at your feet. Being teenagers, they would all gather at the one cemetery at the top of the hill to run through it at midnight and have themselves scared silly.

5. In superstition, it is believed that if you take flowers from a grave and bring them home, you will also bring home the spirit that resided in that grave. What if a child innocently takes some pretty flowers from a grave and runs home to give them to her mother. From whose grave did she take the flowers? Whose spirit does she take home with her and what happens?

6. It has been believed that the shadow is a separate soul and it can gain the ability to leave the body it is attached to. What if the shadow of an incarcerated murderer gains the ability to leave the body it is attached to? What will the shadow do? Will it be as evil as the person it was attached to? Was it the evil that drove the murderer to commit his crimes?

7. In superstition, it is believed that when you look into a mirror, the mirror is holding onto your soul. This is why it brings bad luck to break a mirror that you have looked into. It is an old custom to cover mirrors in a house where someone has passed away. This is to prevent the person's soul from getting caught in the mirror and being stuck on this plane forever. What if you bought a house where, upon entering, you found all the mirrors in the house covered. When you go upstairs to look around, you spot a beautiful handheld mirror lying on a dresser, uncovered. Does it possess the soul of the person who died in the house? What if the mirror would break? Would the captured soul be free to haunt the house or would it finally leave in peace?

8. In old Russia, doll makers began making dolls without faces to prevent the dolls from becoming inhabited by evil spirits. This, they believed, would protect children from evil influences. What if one of the possessed dolls from old Russia found its way into your life. Was it inherited or bought at an auction? How does this doll work its evil into your life and what evil spirit possesses it?

9. After waking up and doing your morning routine, you head out to work. Oddly enough, there are no other cars on the road and you don't see anyone walking the city streets. Where has everyone gone? Are you the last person on Earth?

10. Scarecrows are the stuff of Halloween, but what if all the scarecrows started to disappear from the fields? Where did the scarecrows go and what are they up to?

11. People used to be very careful with what they did with their cut hair. Women, for example, believed that if a bird made a nest from their hair, they would go insane. Interestingly enough, some dolls were made with human hair. What is the hair used for a doll came from a bad person who was then executed or passed on? Would that person's evil tendencies be passed on to the doll? What if a Victorian hair locket possessed the hair of an evil person? Would their qualities be passed on to the the locket and the wearer of the locket?

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Finding Time to Write an eBook

There is never enough time in a day to get things done. Or so it seems at first glance. The truth is, we waste so much of our valuable time doing nothing or committing ourselves to mindless busy work that we feel we have no time left over to write. What we need to do is become aware of where we are wasting our time and taking that time back to do something we have always wanted to do - write an ebook.

If you can wrestle back an extra hour each day, you can spend that time working on and writing your ebook. If you write just 500 words in that hour, by the end of the week, you will have written 3,500 words. That is a 14,000 word ebook in one month. With experience, you will be able to write at least 1,000 words in an hour. That is 7,000 words a week and at least 28,000 words in a month. Considering that most Kindle ebooks are, at a minimum, 7,000 words long, you have the potential to write at least 2 ebooks a month. All this by just taking back an hour of your time.

Kill Your TV


I am serious. Television is a huge time waster. Cut back on your shows or simply stop watching the damn thing. You can take that hour or more you would have spent passively staring at the television and start working on your ebook. Besides, what is more important: writing and publishing an ebook or finding out if Mildred humped Harvey on the subway on As the World Hurls?

Travel Time


Jackie Collins started writing her books while taking her kids to and from school. J.K Rowling started writing about Harry Potter in a coffee shop. Other famous authors have worked on their books while on an airplane, during train rides, and while on the bus. Literally, every free moment you can find can be devoted to writing. All you really need is paper and either a pen or pencil, although many new writers are now writing their books while traveling by using their smartphones. They simply email their story sections to themselves and then, when on their home computer, they piece their work together.

Busy Work


Yes, the laundry needs to be done and the yard should be cleaned up, but does it need to be done right this moment? If you tell yourself that you can go write as soon as you finish this task or that project, you are doing things all wrong. You need to reset your priorities.

If your goal is to write an ebook, then make that your top priority. All the other things that you feel you need to do can get worked in around your writing. For example, let's say you have a day off from work and you want to devote a few hours time to writing, but you also have other things to do. What you do is break down your time. You can write for 30 minutes and then take a break from writing and do the laundry and the dishes for the next 30 minutes. When you sit back down to write, you will probably feel refreshed and able to tackle your book with new eyes. Other people use the 45-15 method where they write for 45 minutes and then get up to do another task for 15 minutes.

When you keep to this schedule, you will find that you are getting a lot of stuff done. You will probably be amazed at what you have accomplished by the end of the day.

Social Media


Social media, such as Facebook and Twitter are huge time wasters. I do understand the addiction, but you need to change your habits so that you are not losing 30 minutes here and there reading and writing posts. Instead of going cold turkey on the social media stuff, use it, instead, as a reward. For example, tell yourself you can check your feed for five minutes after you have written 500, 800, or 1,000 words. This turns the social media addiction into a positive incentive and not just another bad habit to give up.

The Skinny


Making small changes and adapting new ways of approaching writing will help you find the time to write. Remember to:

Set a goal to write your ebook.
Make writing a top priority.
Do busy work around your writing schedule.
Cut out the tv and other time wasters.
Use social media as a reward. Make it your Scooby snack.


Start now.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Creating a Passive Income Writing Short eBooks

Some people portray themselves as writing a Kindle short book and going kaboom with an instant full-time passive income. As someone who has published numerous books on Kindle, I know that building a livable passive income takes time and more than just one book.

First, Know How to Write


It doesn’t matter how many books you write or what topics you write about, if your writing is terrible you are not going to sell books. There is a solution: hire a proofreader. Yeah, it’s an expense, but you will at least get the sales you need to, at minimum, break even if your book is well written.

Another thing to consider is taking writing and grammar courses. I take these courses almost every year. I’ve taken a few through online universities and the rest I took through Udemy and ed2go. They do help people improve their writing skills.

Grammar books also work. In the past I would visit a local university’s library and, in their teaching section, I would take out the student and teacher copies of grammar books. Back at home, I would go through the lessons and correct my mistakes as I went.

Research Your Ideas


Got a book idea that you think is great? Do yourself a favor and research that idea, first. The reason why we research ideas is to first see if anyone else has written a book on the subject. If they have, check how well (or not so well) their book is selling. Also check out the book’s table of contents to see how they organized their book.

Research your book idea on Google’s Adwords using keywords. Find common word usages and begin to develop a high keyword book title and subtitle.

Take Risks


While I researched all of my books before writing them, there were two book ideas that weren’t anywhere on the research radar. In spite of that, I decided to go ahead with writing the books. One of those books earns a good amount each month. The second one earns a smaller amount, but it does sell each month.

My point is, take a risk now and again. You may just be surprised at how well those unheard of topics sell.

Write Lotsa Lotsa


More than likely, you aren’t going to become rich writing just one book. You will need to write many books, especially short books, to build a decent passive income. Make plans to write at least one short book a month. If you can, write one book a week. It’s one of the fastest ways to build a passive income on Kindle.

Prepare Yourself for Duds


Another fact: We’ve all written duds. There is only one thing you can do about it and that’s to keep on writing. At some point you might want to go back and see if the dud is fixable, but right now you need to focus on writing new content.

Be Patient


Not all of your books will start selling immediately. Some books require a bit of maturing. I have found that the more books I publish under a pen name, the more people will start buying the books. Don’t be discouraged if a book doesn’t sell well immediately. Keep on writing and, if you feel it is necessary, begin a marketing campaign to get your books noticed by the public.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Get Motivated and Start Writing a Book Right Now

Do you have a story that is begging to be written, but you just can’t seem to find the time or motivation to get it started? Here are some great motivators for you to test out and get on your way to getting those words onto paper.

1. Offer Yourself a Reward


Offering yourself little rewards as you write is a great way to get yourself and keep yourself motivated. 

I’ve talked about my Skittle reward system before, where, on those days I don’t feel like writing I will get myself a pack of Skittles and set them on my desk. Then, for every 250 words I type, I allow myself to eat one Skittle. When I reach my daily word count goal, I cap it off by rewarding myself with an episode of one of my favorite shows. Right now, it’s Doc Martin on Netflix.

2. Set Small Goals


Writing a book takes time, and sometimes it can feel like it is going to take forever. Before you even start writing, set small, reachable goals for yourself. A small, easy goal can be 500 to 1,000 words a day. At 500 words a day, you will have 15,000 words done in 30 days. It will take you roughly 4 months to write 60,000 words. If you write 1,000 words a day, 2 months of writing will yield you roughly 60,000 words. That’s about the length of many self published Kindle novels.

3. Create a Support Group


Find people that will support your decision to write a book. They can be friends, family, or join an online writing group. Tell them about your decision and share your writing goals. Turn to them when you need help or just a bit of motivation to buckle down and write.

4. Set Up Alone Time


The trick to motivating yourself to settle down into your work area is to learn to enjoy the alone time. I’ve got a toddler on hand, so I enjoy every second I get alone inside my head.

Plan a writing hour (or more) each day at roughly the same time each day. Look forward to that time.

5. Forget Perfection


As Ernest Hemingway put it, “The first draft of anything is shit.” Expect your first draft to be complete and utter crap. Avoid perfection and avoid all attempts to edit your work as you write it. The first step to writing a great story is to get all the rough out of your head and onto paper or the screen. The polishing up comes later.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Finding a Purpose to the Book You Want to Write

Purpose is essential to writing a good nonfiction book. By deciding on the purpose of your book before you write it, you will make your writing tighter and more defined.

Finding that Purpose


When you come up with a potential idea for a nonfiction ebook or book, you need to ask yourself:

How will this book benefit the reader? Will it provide motivational insight, technical know how, step by step guidance, etc.?

Who is the target of my book? Children, teens, adults, or seniors? Men or women? High school education or college graduate?

Why should the reader buy this book? Will it provide new, insightful information? Does it give personal knowledge on the trials of overcoming a challenge?

Target Your Title


Targeting your book idea for certain groups of people allows your book to be seen by more potential readers. For example, you can target your book towards single moms or single dads. Add either of these catch phrases to your title or subtitle and your book will show up in the results for either single mom or single dad - people who are specifically looking for books to read that are geared towards their situation.

When people search for nonfiction books, they want something that is targeted towards them and their situation. So, let's say you want to write a book about working from home. If you have personal experience at being a single dad, you can write something like "The Single Dad's Guide to Working at Home". Your target audience is the single dad. The benefit you are offering is how to work at home. Voila! Now all you have to do is write content that is targeted directly to single dads.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

How to Build Up a Short Bare Bones Novel Plot

I write fast short first drafts. Normally, my first draft of a story is somewhere around 10,000 words written in 3 or more days. I am a bare bones drafter and my first drafts are a quick flit from scene to scene, with dialogue and just the main plot pieced out.

There are many writers who spend months writing out an 90,000 word plot for their first draft and then go back and begin removing scenes, putting new scenes in, and adding new details.

I build up my story through a series of drafts. Here’s how.

1. Flesh Out Characters


On my first go-over, I begin to flesh out the characters in my first story. I add physical descriptions, gestures, and I begin to embellish their dialogue.

2. Scenery


I skip over the scenery in my bare bones first draft. When I go back over it, I start adding in scenery details and descriptions.

3. Subplots


By this point, my bare bones draft is at 30,000 words or more. I know the main story in and out and I notice that I’ve hinted at a few subplots. So, my next step is to go back in there and build up my subplots.

4. Add More Conflict and Tension


If something can go wrong, it should. It could be a flat tire when the main character desperately has to get someplace else or it can be a vicious dog ready to attack someone. If anything can go wrong, make it so. Put all of your characters through hell before you kill a few of them off.

5. Clarity and Loose Ends


On my final go-through, I read and edit my draft for clarity and loose ends. Any last minute additions are put in and I make sure that there is just enough foreshadowing without giving away the ending.

Does This Method Take Longer or Shorter Than a Long Draft?


It takes me just as long to build a story this way as it does for those who prefer to write a large first draft. I enjoy the bare bones method because I view my first draft as a skeleton. I then add the organs, circulatory system, the muscles, and the blood. I finish it off with a layer of skin to hold it all together and I give it its own individuality to decorate its appearance.