Category Archives: Authors Talk

Valerie Bowman: writing to seduce

Seducing readers to read your novel to the very end is a dirty business, one that is not for the weak-fingered.

Valerie Bowman, a Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Finalist and author of  the historical romance novel Secrets Of A Wedding Night, seduces readers with strong plot. Some of her writing wiles are  preparing a strong story and character outline. This foundation leads to creating short and intense scenes in her chapters.

RWA really focuses on drilling this type of writing into its members heads. When I attend workshops, every workshop leader will chant, “plot, plot, plot.” They’ll shout even louder, “conflict, conflict, conflict.” It’s the blood a manuscript needs. Without it? Well, you can start opening bottles of wine and digging a grave.

Taking all that she has learned in RWA workshops, Bowman landed herself a contract with St. Martin’s Press.  In her author feature, she reveals some of the tools she used to entice readers to the final page.

Straight from the author’s mouth: writing to seduce

1. Can you tell us about Secrets of a Wedding? Why did you choose to write this story?

SECRETS OF A WEDDING NIGHT is a Regency romance novel. It’s the first story in my Secret Brides trilogy. It’s about a destitute widow who writes a scandalous pamphlet to thwart the marital ambitions of the marquis who broke her heart five years ago. When the marquis shows up on her doorstep and demands she write a retraction or prepare to be seduced, the fun begins!

I decided to write SECRETS OF A WEDDING NIGHT after I came up with the title, actually. It just came to me one night. I loved it. Then I had to think of a story that matched the title. So far, this is the only story I’ve written where I came up with the title first!

2. How long did it take you to complete Secrets of a Wedding Night? Can you talk about your writing process?

Let’s see. I began writing SECRETS OF A WEDDING NIGHT in July 2010, I believe, and I was done in time to enter the manuscript into the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart contest which closes around Thanksgiving. Happy to say, it was a 2011 finalist! I was so thrilled.

As for my writing process, it has evolved the longer I write. Basically, I need the general plot, characterization, GMC, character arcs, and turning points to be mapped out before I can begin. I type out roughly 40 chapter headings (I love to keep my chapters short [5-7 pages mostly] to write TO hooks) and then I type 1-2 sentences for each chapter directly underneath the heading, indicating what the scene will be about and ensuring each scene has a goal. Once I like the layout of the chapters, it’s just a matter of typing quickly.

“When I go back to edit, I spend time on the details”

3. Any editing tips? 

I’ve learned I’m a fast draft writer, which basically means when I’m typing that first draft, I don’t let anything stop me including word usage or historical research. I just type, type, type. When I go back to edit, I spend time on the details including burying my nose in the etymological dictionary online. LOVE that thing! Also, while I’m writing, I highlight anything I think needs more work in blue/bold text and then when I edit, it’s flagged for me to spend more time on it.

4. Who are some of your favorite authors and how have they inspired your writing?

Lisa Kleypas is one of my all-time favorites and she’s greatly inspired my writing. I was stuck in a snowed-in airport in February 2007 and had read all the books I’d brought with me. I found one of Lisa’s books in the airport bookstore. It saved me from a three-hour flight delay AND by the time I was finished, I was seriously inspired to write. Lisa was kind enough to provide a cover quote for SECRETS OF A WEDDING NIGHT and that moment, when I received her email with her lovely quote, was truly a dream come true for me. Seriously, I had a dream about it once. : )

5. What do you love most about the writing industry? What do you dislike? 

I love that it’s an industry full of people doing what they love. You don’t always find that in other industries. It’s really a passion for most people in the industry and that’s a wonderful thing to be a part of. Dislike? Well, I can’t say I’m the biggest fan of change (who is, right?) and the publishing industry seems to change on an hourly (I’m only exaggerating a little!) basis these days. It can be kind of overwhelming, but it’s also a smorgasbord of opportunity for writers.

6. Do you have any other books or new releases that you would wish to talk about? SECRETS OF A WEDDING NIGHT is part of a trilogy.

The second book, SECRETS OF A RUNAWAY BRIDE, will be released in Spring 2013 and SECRETS OF A SCANDALOUS MARRIAGE will be released Fall 2013. Some of my favorite characters from WEDDING NIGHT get their happily ever afters in the sequels.
7. If you could share one tip you learned with self-published and traditionally published authors who share the same dream of being a successful author what would it be? 

When I was a little girl, my mom used to quote some famous actor (though I’m really not sure who originated this quote and a Google search turned up a variety of supposed sources). “If anything can stop you, let it.” I adore this quote. And it completely applies to the publishing industry. You have to want it badly enough to just keep writing, querying, submitting, and writing more. No matter what.

Connect with Valerie Bowman:

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Alicia Brewster: the harsh truth

Alicia Brewster, author of Don’t Call Me Angel, talks about her writing process below.

Don’t Call Me Angel is a nice novella which reads like a comic book. For all manga and comic book readers, this is the book for you, so check out my review. After this, make sure you go out and get a copy.

For everyone else who needs a little inspiration while writing their novel, Miss. Brewster provides her unique take on completing a novel and the steps which must be climbed to be successful.

Straight from the author’s mouth: The Harsh Truth

1. Can you tell us about Don’t Call Me Angel? Why did you choose to write this novella?

Don’t Call Me Angel is an urban fantasy novella about a fallen angel, named Six, who just escaped from Hell. For me, the most fun part about this book was creating her inner voice. Six sees things differently than most people, partly because she’s bitter about having been forced into Hell, and partly because she’s new to Earth and discovering it for the first time. Throughout the series, we’ll see her make a lot of mistakes while finding her way.

I had been working for quite a while on a novel, which I decided I needed to step away from for a while. While I took a break from that novel, I decided to work on one of the other projects floating around in my head. As soon as I opened myself up to working on another project, this one nagged at me to write it.

2. How long did it take you to complete Don’t Call Me Angel? Can you talk about your writing process?

Don’t Call Me Angel was a super quick project because it’s relatively short, and my motivation and excitement for the project stayed high throughout. It took me three and a half months to complete.

My writing process: First, I create a rough scene list for the entire book. Then I write a rough draft based on the scene list. I don’t necessarily write the scenes in order; I write whichever scene I’m most excited to write next, and sometimes I add and delete scenes as the story develops. I do a little editing along the way as I’m writing my rough draft. After the rough draft is done, I start at the beginning and pretty much rewrite everything I’ve written. Then I do a third pass (and maybe a fourth) where I edit my words. Then come beta readers, editors, more beta readers, and proofreaders.

Whew! I think that covers it.

3. Any editing tips?

Communicate with your editors about what you want from them. I always encourage my editors to not hold anything back. At the outset, I tell them something like: Tell me when words, or sentences, or chapters aren’t needed. Tell me when you think the word you’ve come up with is better than the one I used. Please don’t filter yourself; let me be the filter in deciding which of your suggestions I’ll use. If you don’t tell me, I won’t know.

4. Who are some of your favorite authors and how have they inspired your writing?

Laini Taylor, Patrick Rothfuss, Brandon Sanderson, J.K. Rowling. These writers all inspire me in different ways. Ms. Taylor creates magnificent imagery that makes me just want to melt. Her words, and how she strings them together, are inspiring. Mr. Rothfuss seems to take his relatively new-found success with a great sense of humor. I admire him a lot. Mr. Sanderson writes the most amazing action scenes and endings. And Ms. Rowling . . . Well, she wrote Harry Potter, so that needs no further explanation.

5. What do you love most about the writing industry? What do you dislike?

One of the things I love about the writing industry is the impact that blogging—and wonderful bloggers like Law Reigns—have had on it. You guys present a platform on which we indie authors can present ourselves and our work and possibly have a shot at competing with traditional publishing houses and their resources. So THANK YOU, BLOGGERS!

I dislike the stigma attached to indie publishing. I think a lot of people assume that authors use small presses and self-publish because they can’t get accepted at big publishing houses. To the contrary, this is a business decision for a lot of authors. But I’m happy to see that there are a ton of readers, more and more each day, who are open to reading indie books. There are a lot of great indie books out there, and I love to read them!

6. If you could share one tip you learned with self-published authors who share the same dream of being a successful author what would it be? 

Have multiple people read your work before you put it out there. Attempt to get your book into the hands of friends of friends—people you don’t know. They’ll be less likely than friends and family to spare your feelings. And that’s what you want before publishing your book: the harsh truth.

Summer Lane: Writing Belle, Indie and self published authors welcomed

Having published her own book, Snappy Social Networking: How to Dominate the Blogosphere & Everything in Between, Summer Lane loves to connect with other authors online.

She reviews both young adult and new adult fiction on her blog, Writing Belle. A lover of indie and self-published books, she spends a lot of time reading books from such authors.

Miss. Lane has even gone as far as turning the dreadful Monday into something fire-filled and fantastic!

Read below and see how Miss. Lane accomplished such a feat. It will inspire you to create something unique for your own blogs.

Straight from the author’s mouth: Writing Belle, Indie and self-published authors welcomed

Can you tell me about your blog and the objective you hoped to achieve?

I started my blog, Writing Belle, last year because I wanted to create a public platform for myself as an author, but I also wanted to connect with other people who were excited about writing and publishing. The purpose of my blog is to accomplish three different things: to talk about the art of writing and surviving in the publishing business, to review books (especially self-published books), and to have fun!

Can you talk about Indie Mondays?

Sure! Indie Mondays is something I created with the purpose of spotlighting self-published and indie-published authors. I spend a lot of time reading indie books, and I think self-publishing is well on its way to becoming the way for an established author. You don’t have to be dependent on big-time publishing houses because of the Internet, the Kindle, the Nook, the blogosphere, Twitter, and all sorts of other incredible tools at your fingertips. I love self-published books – and I feature them pretty much every Monday on Indie Monday!

As a book reviewer, what do you look for when you consider reviewing a book?

I look for uniqueness and category. I generally review Young Adult and New Adult – and occasionally a memoir or biography if I like the subject matter. I won’t review erotica because that’s just not me – but I adore romance within the YA and NA categories. I also love the author who can look beyond the Edward/Bella storyline and create an entirely new story. Liz Long, Richelle Mead, Colleen Houck, Summer Day, are all authors who are both bestselling or self-published…and their stories are all unique.

I love your blog design, what inspired it?

Thank you! When I first started my blog, I didn’t even know how to center my header – let alone create one. Today my inspiration is summer vacation. I basically like to change my blog design along with the shifting seasons. My mom also taught me to love shabby chic antiques, so I use those colors (minty greens, pale pinks, turquoise blues) on my blog, too.

How did you get your blog started and how long did it take before you saw results?

I started it by accident, to be honest. When I was in High School I had named my blog Writing Belle, but I forgot about it for a few years. After I finished my first semester of college I decided to play around with it – and it quickly became clear to me that it was an amazing platform for anybody interested in writing or publishing. I would say it took about three months before I started getting lots of traffic and involvement from the blogging community.

What are some tips?

Three things: Consistency, consistency, consistency! It’s important to keep posting on a regular basis. Readers want to have fresh, updated information – especially in a world where trending topics on twitter shift literally every 2 minutes. Also, interact with as many other bloggers as possible. Build those friendships. It’s the single best way to become successful.

If you could share a bit of wisdom with aspiring authors who desire to create a successful blog, what would it be?

Be true to yourself. It sounds kind of weird – this is blogging, not high school after all – but as you blog, you’ll find that there is some pressure to do what everybody else is doing on their blogs, from interviews to features. It’s being unique that will make your blog highly successful. I wrote a book about being a successful blogger called Snappy Social Networking: How to Dominate the Blogosphere & Everything in Between. But the most important thing of all is to have fun. I have met people from all over the world because I started blogging, and I’m enjoying every minute of it!

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Maryann Reid: tips from a book marketing expert

If you have not heard about the marketing powerhouse, Maryann Reid, then please check out Maryann Reid: guerilla marketing book strategies to catapult your career.

This phenomenal author managed to get her first book, Sex and The Single Sister, published at age 25 by creating a market for herself.

Using innovative book marketing strategies, she has garnered attention from media personalities such as Oprah and Wendy Williams. Her hard work has paid off with over 25 million press hits from around the world.

In her bootcamp titled, Sell It Before You Write It, Reid gives away the book marketing strategies she used to attract agents and publicity.

She also gives you a taste of the kind of mindset we authors need to have if we are going to set ourselves apart in the self-publishing industry, a market that is overcrowded with talent and potential.

Straight from the author’s mouth: tips from a book marketing expert

1. You have written several books such as Marry Your Baby Daddy, Use Me or Lose Me, and Sex and the Single Sister. Can you tell me about these titles? What inspired you to write them?

All of these titles have in common empowered central female characters I like to call alpha females or “Alphanistas”.   I love to talk to people who have changed their destinies, who took control of their future, who stop playing victims and start becoming active creators in their life.  If I loved that so much, I figured I’d enjoy writing about them even more.

 2. How long did it take you to finish each book? Can you talk about your writing process?

I’m published by a traditional publisher.  We have deadlines of about several months.  During that time it can feel like you have to write the book half over.  However, the process from the very beginning takes me about three months.  I start from page 1 and don’t stop.  I tried outlines, they never work and feel contrived.  I just jump in and hit “go”.  I do find that this method can lead to writer’s block.  One way I overcome that is by listening to myself.  That means I have to step back and feed my energy.  It may take days or weeks.  I may need to have some fun, get into some new conversations or just get several nights of good sleep.  I don’t beat myself up.  What people call writer’s block, I just like to think of it as intuition needing to come out and play.  Intuition can’t be serious all the time!  It takes the spontaneity out of creation.

Part of the writing process should include the question “How am I gonna market this?”  When coaching clients, I tell them to think of this before the book is even written or finished.  Infuse ideas into the story you can market later.  It’s called merchandising.  It’s a real department at publishing businesses.  They make products out of successful books that are not the book itself.  Think of what kind of workshops, blogs, memes, movements, or inventions you can create with your book.  That is apart of the writing process as well!

3. Any editing tips?

Hire a professional.  You can only edit yourself so much, and you are limited by your limitations.

4. I noticed you were featured on ABC News, NBC, Wendy Williams, and other great networks. Can you talk about what it is like being featured on these shows? What do you have to do to prepare?

That is my element.  Because of what I write about and how I market my books, especially Marry Your Baby Daddy, the media seems to contact me first without the help of a publicist.  When I am on tv or the radio I feel like I’m shining inside.  It feels natural and fun.  Of course, I’m nervous because I have a tendency to say things I shouldn’t.  I often have to reel myself in and tell myself “behave”, so I can convey exactly the points I want to get across. Now that I have matured and had more practice, it’s like a natural flow.  I had a casting call the other day, and I barely blinked.  It felt like I was supposed to be there.  I was supposed to do this.  To prepare, I just make sure I have a good outfit, and, while being interviewed, I leave the audience with something to think about and a way to contact to me.

5. Many authors are starting to do video blogs and feature themselves in book trailers. What advice do you have when it comes to creating a strong presence for video?

Video is important.  The key here is to be original.  Not every writer belongs in front of a video camera!  Know when you are to hire professionals.  If you can’t be in the video, write the script.  Video blogs and trailers give the reader a sense of not just your book, but who you are.  Make sure if it’s somebody playing you or the REAL YOU, that you share yourself and vulnerabilities.  Nobody is really interested in how Pam met Dan.  They want to know how you met Pam and Dan, and why THEY should care.  If you are spending the money on this.  Do it right. 

6. If you could share one tip you learned with self-published authors who share the same dream of being a successful author what would it be?

Finding an agent is free.  If the cost of self publishing is too expensive or cumbersome, who says you can’t look for an agent at the same time?  Who says you have to do one or the other?  I always tell my clients to explore the route of someone paying you for your work, instead of you spending your own money on it.  There is a credibility when an entity wants to buy in to you.  This doesn’t matter to all authors.  If it does, then go for it and get an agent!

Enjoyed the interview? Feel free to connect with this author: 

Jessica Roberts: how a simple idea evolved into a novel

Jessica Roberts speaks on a very interesting point, the harsh reality of marketing, in her interview.

One of the reasons she said marketing was hard is the tools that are readily available to traditionally published authors are not available to self-published. Then she talks about Amazon.

Although it is a dog-eat-dog world out there for the self-published, it is the same for any artist in any field.

Warren Richie’s article, Inside US lawsuit: How Apple, publishers allegedly brought Amazon to heel, describes how the environment is changing. Here is also a more recent update on the lawsuit, written by Julie Bosman, Justice Dept. Sues Apple . . . After reading these articles, one is not only educated about the publishing market, but learns a favorable environment for self-published authors has been created, one they can capitalize on if they have a superior product and knowledge of marketing.

Even in such an environment, only the best will succeed. I am of the opinion just because someone is traditionally published does not make them the best. Only readers can determine such.

For all you readers, read Roberts’ experience when it comes to writing, and the tools she has learned to use when it comes to marketing her novel.

Straight from the author’s mouth: how a simple idea evolved into a novel

1. Can you tell us about Reflection? Why did you choose to write this book? 
I’ve always loved to write. I can remember in one of my high school classes—way, way back when (laughs)—doing a timeline of my future and filling in the blanks with phrases like “Complete my first book when I’m 20”, “Write my second book when I’m 25”, and so on. So I guess I’ve always had the desire to write.

Also, I knew I wanted to write for a young adult audience since those are the books I enjoy reading the most. Those first looks and first kisses—there’s nothing better!

One day I was in my bathroom drying my hair in front of the mirror, and a scene popped into my head—the balcony scene in Reflection. The following day I was on my computer. I enjoyed writing that scene so much, I knew I had to write a beginning and an ending. And that’s how it all started.

A few years later I finished my debut Young Adult novel, Reflection, a sweet, spicy college romance with a twist!

What is Reflection about? The short teaser on the book’s cover says:

“What if six perfect months with the guy of your dreams, turned out to be nothing but a dream?”

So the book is basically about a spunky high school grad named Heather who leaves her small hometown and ventures off to college. Something happens and she lands in a coma. In the beginning of the book she wakes up from the coma and proceeds to retell her story of attending college and falling madly in love with a rugged classmate named Nick. Throughout the whole book, we as readers are trying to figure out if her love story is real or if it was just an amazing, potentially heartbreaking dream she had while resting in her coma.

2. How long did it take you to write Reflection? Can you talk about your writing process?

If I compiled all the writing days together, it probably took about 4-6 months to write Reflection. But since I wrote in spurts, here and there whenever I had time, taking the summers off in the process, I would say it took about 3-4 years from start to finish. I wouldn’t recommend doing it that way. It’s hard enough to sustain some semblance of fluency even if you write every day. But when you’re a mommy, you do what you gotta do!

Writing process . . . hmm. I don’t know if I have one particular writing process. Obviously, any novel starts with an idea. I’ve always had an active imagination. It’s bothersome at times, especially late at night when I want to fall asleep and my thoughts won’t let me. I can’t tell you how many times I had to tell the characters in Reflection to shut-up so I could get some sleep.

I guess I’m not the best person to answer that question because I know I should have some sort of writing process, but I don’t. For me I write when the dialogue and scenes come to me. Then I compile the scenes together so the story flows, with an engaging beginning, a climax, and an ending.

3. Any editing tips? 

I’m psycho about editing. Still, I can’t tell you how many edits I went through – am still going through. The best advice I can give is to let A LOT of people read your manuscript before you publish it. A LOT!!

4. If you could share one tip you learned with self-published and traditionally published authors who share the same dream of being a successful author what would it be? 

I’ve realized that if you go the self-publishing route, it’s a lot harder to get your book out there so people know about it—which is soooooooo frustrating!

Publishing companies, in contrast, have marketing tactics and promotional connections that bring their books to the masses fast, and those avenues are just not as readily available to self-published authors. It sucks, but it’s the truth. I got ahold of Amazon one day and asked what it would take to be a part of their “featured books” email blast. The rep. told me they are reserved for companies that have contracts with them – namely the big publishing companies. However, there are base packages that include a little advertizing corner in some random location on the Amazon website, starting at $10k. No biggie. Only the price of A CAR! (laughs)

If you do self-publish: goodreads; book bloggers who offer review services; and self-promotion through social media such as facebook, twitter, etc. are great places to start. The goal is to reach a large audience. And don’t forget to be patient. It takes time!


Christi Goddard: the editor that saved her writing career

Four In The Morning is the debut young adult fantasy by Christi Goddard.

Being the daughter of a truck driver gave Goddard the opportunity to travel and learn about the world.

Using the skills she developed in life allowed her to become a renaissance woman in the publishing industry.

Goddard is a book trailer designer, a content editor, and an animator. Visit her website to seek her services.

I am honored to be able to share this author’s unique perspective with you all below.

Author spot lights usually feature just the words of the author, but since I conducted my interview with Goddard over the phone, I get to do something different.

Straight from the author’s mouth: the editor that saved her writing career

Can you tell us about Four In The Morning? What inspired you to write it?

Four In The Morning is a young adult paranormal novel that tells the story of Kathleen, a spunky and witty high school student, whose actions result in her being thrown into a police investigation.  One that leads to her reevaluating who she is as a person.

Goddard described Kathleen as an intelligent and clever character who has a lot of mouth.

“The character is how I would like to have been when I was in high school,” Goddard explained. “The person I was in high school was confident, but not like hey look at me, look at me.”

Though Goddard explained Kathleen does not really support the clique system, she says she has a clique. Not really trusting anyone outside of her friends, she can send off an “I hate you vibe,” Goddard said.

When asked how she came up with the concept for the story, Goddard said it was inspired by DL Hammons’ blog.

While on Hammons’ blog, Goddard engaged in an argument with Hammons over who had the best story to tell.

She told him how she used to write poems for a boy to give to his girlfriend while in high school.

Really liking the story, Hammons told Goddard that would make a good book.

It later led Goddard to write Four In The Morning.

How long did it take you to complete your novel? Can you discuss your writing process?

Goddard said she writes in spurts.  “I will write a bunch really fast and then won’t write for a long time.”

That being said, Goddard explained it took her 6 weeks in all to write Four In The Morning, but she did not write it all at once.

“When I am motivated I can go and just write, write, write it.”

What tools did you use to complete this novel?

Goddard strongly believes in being professionally edited.

Beta editors overlook things. When she finally got a professional editor not only did she get advice on overlooked mistakes, she also learned a thing or two about the industry.

After completing Four In The Morning, Goddard sent it off to agents. She got a lot of interest even though they all eventually passed. Their passing seemed to lead her on her path to Immortal Ink Publishing.

She sent it off to an editor, and the editor loved it.

Goddard said she was surprised by her reaction. “This was my play around book.”

Loving the book so much, when the editor discovered Goddard was having very little luck in the publishing industry she told her about Immortal Ink publishing.

The one thing Goddard loves about Immortal Ink publishing is their ability to listen to suggestions. Such an ability allowed Goddard to keep as much of the original idea of her book as she could.

The ending of Four In The Morning was especially important to her.

“The ending had to happen the way it did,” Goddard began. “For books 2 and 3 to make sense.”

Any Editing Tips?

“That, is the work of the devil,” Goddard said. “That is not a necessary word.  I was able to cut out 2,000 words by going through my story and taking out the word that.”

Goddard’s editing process is not of the norm.

She likes to write a couple pages at a time then go back to edit it before moving forward. Such a process makes it hard to keep count of how many drafts she has worked on for any specific novel.

“I want to know exactly what the character is going to say and have the scene perfect in my head before I write it,” Goddard said.

If you could share one tip that you have learned with traditionally published and self-published authors who desire a successful writing career, what would it be?

Goddard suggested for writers to never be over confident in their abilities as a writer. The actual feel of writing a sentence may be different from the meaning the reader gets.

“Your sentence may not make sense to anybody, but you,” Goddard said.

She also suggested learning about Janet Reid and following her blog.

Reid helped Goddard to perfect her query  letter by doing  a critique and posting it on her blog.

Goddard said, she has a database of edited query letters for those to go over.

“Nothing puts off an agent more than horribly written query letters,” Goddard reassured me.

One last bit of advice is to get your books professionally edited. She explained to me there is a big difference between being a storyteller and an author.

“I love to weave a tale. Being an author is more professional. There are responsibilities. You have to abide by the rules of grammar.”

If someone does not have the average $1500 dollars to throw away on a novel, she recommends On that website, editors can be found for $300 or $400 dollars.

Blogger Roxie Hanna: Carving out your niche

Some blogs are purely informative, some pure fun.

Roxie Hanna’s versatile blog just happens to be both.

Hanna began the blog with the intent of creating a resource for “no-fee” writing opportunities.

Now it has grown to be a great tool for education and inspiration.

Hanna provides writers with industry news and inspires them by featuring successful authors.

Bothered by writer’s block or stress? No problem. Hanna’s Sunday Funnies will help you unwind.

Become enveloped in the warm voice of Roxie Hanna as she discusses below the journey and growth of her blog.

Straight From The Blogger’s Mouth

Hey Law, thanks for inviting me to your fabulous blog! Let me introduce myself to your readers: I am a freelance writer and editor, specializing in ghostwriting projects. My focus is on my ‘day job’, which like many of you, keeps me extremely busy.

Three years ago, when I began my blog, I thought I would cut down on freelancing work and dive into submitting my stack of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and children’s pieces I’ve written over the years. I adamantly stated I wouldn’t take on any new clients…well those words have been pretty tasty, but they do travel to the bank and that’s important.

Now I submit my work, freelance, and somehow juggle it all, letting a ball slip to the ground but never dropping them all, yet. I serve as judge on short story and poetry contests, contribute to various magazines, sit (stand mostly) as poet-in-residence at a two-year college, and edit students’ book reviews. Occasionally I teach at workshops and conference sessions, and do anything I can to support First Book and The Cheerios New Author Contest.

Can you tell me about your blog and the objective you hope to achieve?

Oh, good question! When I began Roxie’s Blog I wondered what I could add, how would I be different, unique and helpful to the blogosphere. I saw many people already weighing in on their writing expertise. I considered an alternative angle, topics people might be surfing for based on my own searches. I noticed a void in a bulletin board-type space for writers to become aware of avenues where they may submit work without entry or reading fees.  I began listing these no-fee venues for writers, poets, and visual artists. Then I expanded to spotlighting writers, illustrators, visual artists, and song writers, offering tidbits of knowledge from my experience, as well as information about the market place.

This year, I began a Top Twos-day column, posting the most interesting items to cross my desk in a week. My blog is still evolving, and in the fall my plan is to add a weekly column series. Upcoming topics will focus on editing, agents, publishing, ghostwriting, critique groups, and professional associations plus touch on the basics to cutting-edge ideas and technologies.

How did you get your blog started and how long did it take before you saw results?

Way back in 2009, hehehe, I kept seeing advice from agents and publishers for writers to ‘have a platform’. I searched online and asked people, not necessarily writers, how they established an online presence. Most often I heard Twitter was the ‘it’ venue and WordPress offered the most adaptability for styling a blog. I jumped in with both feet. Now I’m thrilled to say I have a presence on Twitter, Goodreads, and StumbleUpon as roxiewriter, on Pinterest as theroxiewriter, on Facebook as Roxie Hanna, and at NetworkedBlogs. I love company, come hang out with me and we’ll enjoy this networking journey together!

To the second part of the question: I’m not sure what results I was looking for, I was thrilled if someone read my blog! I watched my stats like a hawk and soon found out this was like waiting for water to boil!  I decided I couldn’t make my stats go up any more than I could cause the stock market to increase on any given day. That led me to recall why I began the blog. With my perspective in focus I concentrated on creating the best one I could, and the results have paid off fairly well. Slow and steady like the tortoise and the hare race…I’m not in it to win a popularity contest. But I do enjoy readers’ responses and get a thrill when people push my ‘like’ button, 🙂

What are some tips?

First, be yourself…it’s a crowded world out here, if you can carve your own niche, you’ll be able to sustain the initial momentum. Visit blogs, become a regular commenter following favorite sites, taking note of features striking your ‘like’ button. No one blogger has a formula, nor is there a map to plot out the best way to produce a successful blog. It’s a combo thing.

Also, I believe you should move out of your comfort zone. Innovative expanses may be awkward and scary, but keep your eyes focused on the end goal, why you want to blog in the first place. Learn all you can about your craft, practice to gain confidence and then polish your work so your best becomes your standard.

IMHO it’s extremely important to surround yourself with positive people. You’ll hear enough negative voices in your own head, doubting your abilities, keeping you from moving forward. You can borrow the first rule comedians use, the answer is always ‘yes’ when doing an improv skit, which would allow you to go with the flow and never stress about whatever direction you’re heading.
If you could share a bit of wisdom with aspiring authors who desire to create a successful blog, what would it be?

I guess the best advice I have to offer is to build a blog you’d like to read. And then play around with it, never letting it become stagnant. Try enhancing your style. Find your strengths, play to them, and enjoy communicating with your readers. Have fun. Everyone says it, but are they, really?

Stretch yourself: did you write an historical fiction? You might consider writing posts about various topics that are side shoots from your work. If you did the research for your book, you’ve already done the homework for an interesting article.

Supplement your book: is your genre chick lit or romance? Pick one of the minor characters and explore what she will do in a variety of settings. Play the what-if game with her personality and see where it takes you.

Readers love connecting with authors on another level. Use your posts to share how you developed the book, series, characters, setting, etc. Give them juicy details and don’t forget to add the material you decided to leave out. All the hard work writing a scene and then you cut it…tell them!

Add, add, add to streamline your time. Link up your accounts, if possible, and make a schedule you’ll stick to. If you honor your own deadlines, you become a better writer. This builds confidence. You’ll realize you can tackle a 1500 word piece with just as much ease as a 50 word summary.

Don’t forget to subtract, too. Purge those time-stealers, stuff you keep putting off because it’s like writing those thank you cards after your birthday. Or just do them. Either way, be aware of how much time you’re spending on your blog; you don’t want to be so wrapped up in your platform you forget to create your product!

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