How to Write a Bestseller and Feel Good While Doing It

Focus on what you want in your life, not on what you don't want.

Focus on what you want in your life, not on what you don’t want.

Act as if it has already happened. Focus only on the end result. For example, “I have written and published the first in a series of island-based mysteries, and I feel (insert emotion here, such as elated, powerful, satisfied, ‘on my way’). Repeat this practice often, feel imbued by its exhilaration, surf the blue-green waves of happiness and send any dark-eyed doubts packing.

Be not bashful – gleefully share the news with your loved ones and tell everyone you know of what you have begun to create.

Thoughts become things. Visualize the book gracing your mother’s proud coffee table, seeing its YouTube trailer go viral, or pitching the debut novel everyone is talking about on your favorite talk show.

As the saying goes, “It is not enough to stare up the ladder, one must take the first step,” so map out a game plan of action steps to bring your goal(s) to fruition and do them. Carry a symbolic reminder such as a crystal in your purse or wallet, tape notes on your bathroom mirror or photos of what will be, and BELIEVE it can happen.

You create your own universe as you go along.~Winston Churchill

Now I have got a Plot, What’s Next?

 

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Natalie Goldberg says, “There is no separation between writing, life and the mind,” and I agree with her, at least on most days.
So, let’s turn your wonderful and amazing plot ideas into a first draft.

First, keep your hand(s) moving. Do not pause to reread, revise or attempt to wrest some control over what is pouring from you. Let it flow unfettered and undammed. Simply put, just lose control, no matter how hard that may be. Your writing will thank you for it.

Stuck on how to begin? Start with “I remember…” and keep going. The past, present and future, as well as your dreams are all fair game. Visit them, invite yourself in, get acquainted and sit down for a spell. Listen to their tales without judgement or censorship. Learn from them as you drink them in.

Next,  a caveat – you should not be editing or crossing out at this stage. Leave it, even unbelievable mush will still be there later and ripe for trimming or deletion.

Also, leave your inner dictionaries and style books closed, your spell-check off. Rampaging typos, dangling modifiers and sordid syntax can be corralled during the revision process. Go for the kill shot. If something leaks out that scares the hell out of you and makes you want to delete it before the light of the world shines on it, savor it for such nuggets may be rare but always treasured.

Happy Writing.

“Till Next Time.

R.R. Harris

Author of Double Take, an Island Travel Mystery of Lively Romance and Deadly Betrayal, available on Amazon.Double Take Kindle Cover

How to Jump Start your Writing

If we were to modify a popular expression, we could say, She who hesitates gets no writing done.  Natalie Goldberg exhorts writers to “burn through their first thoughts, coming to a place where you are writing what your mind sees and feels, not what it thinks it should see and feel.”

If the act of starting to write is hard for you, begin with I remember and keep going. If you get stuck, repeat the phrase and move forward again.

Keep your hands moving. Don’t re-read the line you have just written or try to wrangle control of what you are saying. Don’t revise as you are writing. There will be plenty of time for that later.

Don’t edit, censor or cross-out.

Don’t correct typos, punctuation or grammar. That too can happen later AFTER your first thoughts are on paper.

Don’t think or try to be logical. If the naked and the scary and horrible emerge, invite them in for a cup of tea and take down their stories.

Now…that your first draft is down on paper, literally or digitally, let me know how it went, and share your tips and tools for plowing forward.

Thanks for visiting and come back often.

R. R. Harris, author of Double Take, a romantic mystery-thriller set on the Big Island of Hawaii and soon to be available on Amazon.

THE MARRIAGE OF BELIEVABLE CHARACTERS AND ENGAGING SETTINGS

Screen shot 2012-04-16 at 5.23.25 PMWhat makes a character come alive in a news report, work of fantasy, memoir or mystery-thriller?

Readers say they enjoy their lovers and villains, mothers and neighbors to be complicated, passionate, painted in vivid hues, believable and consistent, even if being constantly inconsistent is the character’s only consistency.

“Sitting in black revolving chair, my chin in a rest, my forehead against a strap, and facing an intense light about to be shined on my inner eye, while the doctor at his illuminated glass counter made entries into my record, I turned pessimistic.” ~ Harriet Doerr

The reader could cut the palpable tension in the narrator’s mind with a dull scalpel. Why is Ms. Inner Eye even in the doctor’s office? What conflict(s) might be poised to leapfrog from languorous lounging on a lily pad to violently and irreparably shatter the pristine surface of the pond that has pooled her mundane and entirely matronly 57 years?

We simply have no choice – we must keep reading. We care what happens to this woman. Indeed, she has entered the open door of our hearts as brazenly and uninvited as Goldilocks, is getting comfortable in our heads and is warming her size 10-AA feet on the crackling fire of our curiosity. She is no longer a character in a story, she is someone we either know, or must get to know. Now!

READ ON

Please enjoy the following examples, chew them slowly, savoring every intriguing bite.

“I opened my eyes to the sound of new people brushing past my aisle seat. And looked up to see a colored woman holding a large sleeping baby, who, with the heaviness of sleep, his arms so tight around her neck, seemed to be pulling her head down. I looked around and noticed that I was in the last white row.” ~Grace Paley

“They sat at the Martinique Café, a café frequented by mulattos, prize fighters, drug addicts. He had chosen dark corner of the café and now he bent over and began to kiss her. He did not pause. He kept his mouth on hers and did not move. She dissolved in this kiss.” ~Anais Nin

“I was sitting in a taxi, wondering if I had overdressed for the evening, when I looked outside of the window and saw Mom rooting through a Dumpster. It was just after dark. A blustery March wind whipped the steam coming from the manholes, and people hurried along the sidewalks with their collars turned up. I was stuck in traffic two blocks from the party where I was heading.” ~ Jeannette Walls

“Did Will love Emma? I’m certain he did. The memory of his hand wrapped around my arm and his whisper, this part of her makes you want to hold on, still makes me shiver sometimes when others touched me there, because I remember the longing in his voice to touch his wife there when he was touching me.” ~ Sarah Blake

“I was coming back from the grocery store with two bags of groceries when I saw her there with her dirty-faced toddler. I offered her an orange, then my loaf of bread and jar of peanut butter. I nearly croaked then I heard the sound of crying coming from the cooler on the ground behind her, looked inside to see a baby.” ~ Yvonne Daley

“Blond hair and anorexia were passed down like family jewels to my sisters, but not to me, the brown-haired blob. I did not know who I was or wanted to be, but then again, neither did my parents. My grandparents anglicized their names and left their Jewish heritage behind when they fled Poland to America years before. And don’t even ask me about my immediate family. They just mimicked the Long Island losers they befriended at the WASP Country Club; no, that wasn’t its name, but it should have been.” ~ Becca Chopra

Thanks for visiting. Please come back often and tell all of your friends and colleagues about our Editing Services.

 R. R. Harris

Author of Double Take, a mystery set on the Big Island of Hawaii and set for publication on Amazon, Fall 2013.

Info@Indie AuthorCounsel.com

http://www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com

Always Walking Toward the Setting Sun

One of many fine original photos that will appear in Double Take

One of many fine original photos that will appear in Double Take

One of my favorite bloggers wrote that Adventure = Risk plus Purpose, and suggests as many have, that if something scares the beejesus out of us, then “it” is something we should probably be doing. That leads me to wonder, is the way we live our lives mirrored in our style(s) of writing, or never the twain shall meet, or sometimes yes, sometimes, no? Do we crawl snake-belly up under the barbed-wire fences hemming in the confines, and thus the safety of our minds, or do we do the Star Trek thing and go beyond to worlds we have never explored, visited or perhaps even imagined? Is the sky the limit, or are there no limits to the Universe? Do we feel more secure beginning our writing journey with an outline of our story, however sketchily drawn – an end in sight, or do we rely on our characters, fictional or real, to guide us where they want to take the reader. Or is that all literary hogwash and do writers write what and how they want to write, and do they alone deserve the credit for astonishing some readers, disappointing some others and wrestling with the unrest that visits like Scrooge’s ghosts in the thick of night, creaking the boards and causing the author to wonder what if, should I or maybe even, I don’t give a damn if they like it – my writing is my therapy and if it is published, that’s just frosting on the cake? Please weigh in with your comments and visit again soon. R.R. Harris author of Double Take, soon to be published on Amazon

‘Twas a few days before Christmas and Five Top Authors Rock the House

Every idea is my last. I feel sure of it. But I don’t just wait for ideas. I look for them constantly. ~Peg Bracken

I’m still learning what it is about the past I want to write. I don’t worry about it. It will emerge. It will insist on being told. ~ Frank McCourt

Slow down now, touch what is around you, and out of care and compassion for each moment and detail, put pen to paper and begin to write. ~ Natalie Goldberg

Suppose instead of the Three Wise Men, Peg, Frank and Natalie came bearing nuggets of wisdom to inspire you to craft a work that someone other than your Grandmother will care about. Do you have what it takes? Nora Roberts says the essentials are drive, discipline and desire and that talent alone will not get anything done.

So that holiday gift buyers (including fellow authors) may know what wonderful reading choices they have this year, I am participating in a blog hop started by visionary author, Gary Markwick. To keep it going,  I am going to answer the questions below, tag a new set of 5 Authors, who will then answer, tag 5 more authors …

What is the working title of your book? Double Take 

Where did the idea come from for the book? From Hardy Boy mysteries to Edgar Allan Poe to Hitchcock, James Bond and Maya Angelou, to people I have known or heard, or wished I had known or heard.

What genre does your book fall under? Mystery Thriller.

Which actor would you choose to play your protagonist in a movie rendition? Matt Damon would be great as my Sleuth.

Could Matt Damon be cast as the dashing Carter Woods in R. R. Harris’ Mystery Thriller, Double Take?

Elevator Pitch: Double Take, a suspenseful action thriller with more twists and turns than a Coney Island roller coaster, is set on the Big Island of Hawaii and loosely defined by a Cain-Abel fueled love triangle; a budding romance goes horribly sour and devolves wickedly into a red-hot flow of despair, frustration and betrayal.

P.S. I am looking for Beta Readers for this work, after the Proofreading phase has been completed, so if you are interested in participating in my creative journey, please write to me at: info@IndieAuthorCounsel.com

Thanks for stopping by and Happy Holidays!

Must-Read Authors (Hint: Think Holiday Presents)

Marcie Brock, Book Marketing Maven, blogging at: http://marciebrockbookmarketingmaven.wordpress.com/

Gary Sanders, author of Work in Progress, Love Ya Baby, Five Modern Noir Short Stories, blogging at: http://thegarysandersshow.com/

Jeff Mazza, writing a story of love, loss and life at http://www.cognitivecompost.com/

Alisa Singa, author of Unparallel Worlds.

SIX SUPER INGREDIENTS TO PUBLISHING SUCCESS

Into your literary cauldron, throw locally-grown talent (raw, fresh or seasoned in with the right dash of character traits and a generous dollop of opportunity, stir in a finely diced cast of characters or a paste of must-know, how-to. Cook over a carefully tended, dancing flame of desire until it’s “ready” and you’ve got a stew that may be the Brunswick or Irish Stew of books or…

1) TALENT

“Nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent.” ~ Calvin Coolidge

 

2) RESPONSIBILITY

“The writer’s only responsibility is to his art.” ~ William Faulkner

 

3) PERSONAL EVOLUTION

“The truly wise know that what is behind them could just as easily be in front of them. What successful people possess in abundance is the ability not only to survive adversity but to be transformed by it.” ~ Jeff Herman

 

4) PLANNING

Once I planned to write a poem entirely about the things in my pocket, but I found it would be too long and the age of epics is past.” ~ G. K. Chesterton

 

5) SHOWING UP

“Many writing books advise writers to figure out their most productive time of the day and to set out to write during that time or times. Experts also say to find the place you are most comfortable when writing and match time and place. Great. It does work for some. Not all.

“I do have a place where I write. It’s my local coffee shop. I write at different times during the day: morning, afternoon, evening. So, I do the conventional writing with time and place matched.

“But. Yes, there’s a ‘But.’ Many of my poems, and a short story recently, have been written in bed at two in the morning. I spring out of bed sometimes to write down an idea, or a rough draft of a poem or story. I keep a notepad with a pen resting on it near my bed. No coffee, no table, no laptop, and very little light.

“Some of the poems I’m most proud of have been written on the subway, in parks, in stairwells, and on my bed. No specific time, no specific place.

“Be flexible. Set your time and place, have no time and place, just write.

Show Up: read, re-read, write, re-write, submit, publish, and do it all over again.”  ~ published by Blackcoffeepoet.com

 

6) PASSION & INNER ALCHEMY

“The fire of one’s art burns all the impurities from the vessel that contains it.” James Lee Burke

 

(Adapted from Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors and Literary Agents: http://amzn.to/L1px0G)

 

Happy Writing!
Roger Harris, editor and consultant

www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com

 

 

Writing a Mystery or Suspense Novel – Suppose, What if and Why?

“Don’t forget things that were painful or embarrassing or silly. Turn them into a story that tells the truth.” Paula Danzinger

One of a writer’s most precious resources is the world that lives beyond the creaking gate, borne in a fog of ideas that seeks the low places. Here, sometimes in the din of dank recesses, other times in bright, golden light, march a legion of the hopelessly lost and unceasingly forlorn. They bang their dented tin cups so that we might notice them. Their tatters of spirit overpower and wrest control of the rules of engagement we have posted in our heads and tattooed indelibly across our common sense. Yet, we ensnare and assail them without conscience. The meat of their souls will sustain us until we have had our fill.

Pen and paper, recorders and our brains are the simple tools we have packed for this hunt. When we return from the fray victorious, our prey in hand, chafed but unharmed, the camp is pitched with sturdy folders, and staked in neat rows by organizational software. Lieutenant Scrivener cages our captures, tarping the rough edges with a well-stitched backstory, calming, nurturing, grooming them. No meal tonight, only a fortune cookie that teases, promising ultimate release into the light of day. Cynics among the group argue that this is largely hot air and not to be trusted.

Suppose they escape while we go about our daily affairs? It simply will not happen. Resolutely prepared for their struggles, we observe them unnoticed, peripherally, boldly, one eye to life’s knothole. They huddle as if to gain strength by association and we hear their whispers, indistinct and largely unintelligible. We bait them to be more forthcoming and revealing by releasing a few of them at a time. Wary of yet another trap, at first, they peek out with pinpoint pupils. Once they see the fire-breathing dragon is only papier-mache and has human feet with yellowed toenails, they rush out pell-mell, leaving behind a boneyard of dangling participles, split infinitives and tired cliches. Their fires of determination are stoked with dreams of literary stardom, their tickets punched on express trains to glory.

It’s like the stories are already there. What they pay me for is the leap of faith that says: “If I sit down and do this, everything will come out OK.” Stephen King, author of 11/22/63: A Novel

Need Marketing, Editing or Proofreading Services – Professional Quality, Quick Turnaround, Reasonable Prices? Doors open early at our May Madness Sale.

Happy Writing!

R. R. Harris

www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com

Words of Wisdom for Self-Publishing

Orna Ross closed a week of posts on her blog, CREATIVE WRITING & LIVING, about the launch of the Alliance of Independent Authors at London Book Fair, with these words of wisdom from the attendees. We just had to share them here too!

Best Quotes from The Launch of ALLIA

  • JOANNA PENN, Author and Director of The Creative Penn: “The way indie authors are pushing the boundaries is awesome.  It’s like the sixties.”
  • MICHAEL TAMLYN, KOBO Vice President: “When authors are given control and visibility, they do amazing things that the traditional publishers out there are just not doing… You’re going to need a much bigger room next year.”
  • THOM KEPHART, AMAZON Createspace Community: “Self-publishers are extremely important to Amazon. You are the people who make it happen.”
  • JONI RODGERS: “Amazon… is like that big sandworm in Dune. Sooner or later you realize, either it’s going to swallow you up, or you’re going to get up there and ride it!  I’m riding that sandworm, baby.”
  • LINDA GILLARD: “When I finally realized that I was going to go indie permanently, I felt so elated. There was a real sense of creative freedom.”
  • DAN HOLLOWAY: “Self publishing affords the writer something that’s vital to every artist: the freedom to fail.”
  • VANESSA O’LOUGHLIN: “This initiative is just what self-publishing writers need — this nonprofit organisation of writers working together for each other is about to become a real force in publishing.”

Best Advice for Self-Publishers

LINDA GILLARD:

  • If you don’t like promoting yourself and your work, don’t become an indy author. Achieving online visibility is our biggest challenge and there are few short cuts to this. Resign yourself to putting in a great deal of time seeking out potential readers, cultivating bloggers, joining in discussions (not just about books.) This is all part of the job so don’t regard it as a chore. See it as an opportunity to make new friends with shared interests. Even if you don’t make a sale, you might make a friend.
  • Promote by stealth. Nothing turns readers off more quickly than relentless self-promotion. They hate it because it’s selfish and boring. Instead of promoting your books, cultivate relationships with readers. Rightly or wrongly, readers assume interesting people write interesting books. If readers become interested in you as a person, they’ll be open to the idea that they might enjoy your work.
  • So engage with readers on blogs, in discussion forums, on Facebook and Twitter. In the course of chatting, tell people about your books – just a little to whet their appetite. (This is where it’s handy to have a USP, killer synopsis or tagline.) Then if they show interest, tell them more.
  • Be sincere. Readers aren’t stupid. If you engage with them solely for the purpose of self-promotion, they’ll pick up on this and resent being used. Not only will you not have sold a book, you’ll have created a bad impression. Readers don’t want authors cold calling, they want new friends. The trick is to persuade them that their new friend also writes good books.

DAN HOLLOWAY:

  • …my biggest single piece of advice to a self-publisher – remember why you’re doing it and don’t be a magpie.
  • Don’t let sales or invitations or publicity distract you – unless they were the reason for self-publishing, in which case go for it.

JOHN A.A. LOGAN:

  • Seek out online forums and groups where readers go to communicate with each other and with authors, such as Goodreads Groups, Kindle Forum UK, Kindleboards, Mobileread.com, Amazon Discussions. Also use Facebook and Twitter, and bring readers to your work with content-rich blogging, posting, forum debating, done sincerely to communicate, not cynically to “sell”. Consider the use of free promotions such as Amazon KDP Select. 18500 people now have The Survival of Thomas Ford in their Kindles or Kobos or PCs or Ipads as the result of promotional giveaways.
  • Try to get local press interest (and work on your titles). Three local newspaper articles helped generate interest that got The Survival of Thomas Ford into bestseller rankings or kept it there, all with snappy titles: “The Literary Survival of Author John Logan” – THE NORTHERN TIMES; “Positive New Chapter for Thriller Man” – THE HIGHLAND NEWS; “City Author’s Ebook Breaks into Top 100″- THE INVERNESS COURIER
  • Take your book into your own hands. Remember the maverick spirits that have gone before, in other mediums too, like Bill Hicks, or Sam Peckinpah, who would not accept the warping and tainting of their vision. The author needs to remember, now more than ever, their own power and responsibility to their own work and vision. Only in that way is the reader being respected also. Mikhail Bulgakov, John Kennedy Toole, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, they wrote masterpieces which never saw one word in print during their lifetimes. If only they had access to 2012-style epublishing that need not have been the case, so it need not be the case for you now unless you let it be.

JONI RODGERS:

  • Zealously protect your writing time. This is the greatest challenge for me. Now that I’m in charge of either overseeing or executing editorial tasks, design, marketing and PR, the actual writing too often gets pushed into a smaller space, and that’s just ass-over-teakettle crazy. If we’re not in it to write, why are we here?
  • Ignore all those apocryphal tales of self-publishing glory and riches. That’s less than a handful of success stories out of millions of self-published books. If your oncologist said, “This cancer treatment is absolutely proven effective in one out of four million cases!” would you be signing up for that? Me neither. We’re all reinventing the wheel here. Do what feels right for you.
  • When you do score that coveted book contract, sign an agent or sell your first 20,000 books, don’t let it go to your head. Keep the old Golden Rule of show biz in mind: Be nice to everyone you pass by on your way up. I guarantee you’ll be seeing them again on your way down.

Good luck to all Indie Publishers – joining the ALLIA is a good way to go!

Becca Chopra

www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com

Building your Author Platform, Part One

An Author Platform is the cornucopia of ways that we make ourselves known to our readers. Like Rome, it does not have to be assembled in one day, BUT it does have to be built, if you want to be an effective and popular author. The goal is to create and launch a platform that quickly communicates your genre and entertainment value if you’re writing fiction, and your expertise and credibility if you’re writing non-fiction.

“I don’t care if a reader hates one of my stories, just as long as he finishes the book.” ~ Roald Dahl

1) Be Alert – Setup a virtual Nanny Cam on the web by signing up for a Google Alert (google.com/alerts). At periodic intervals that you set, Google will email you any mentions of your name, your book’s name, your blog, your Twitter handle or whatever URL you set. You can mine this information by becoming friends with those who are talking about you and share ideas, guest blogs, back cover blurbs or reviews.

“In truth, I never consider the audience for who I am writing. I just write what I want to write.” ~  J. K. Rowling

2) Don’t Play with Every Stranger – Get to know your social media contacts before allying with them because, just like in real life, there are web predators mucking about that will take advantage of the unwary and you could become guilty by association. Basically, if you could not or would not be friends with this person or support their cause off-line, look elsewhere.

“To create something you want to sell, you first study and research the market, then you develop the product to the best of your ability.” ~ Clive Cussler

3) Know your Competition – Study what they do and how they do it. Emulate what you admire, discard what you don’t, but above all, come away with an improved product or outlook.

“To gain your own voice, you have to forget about having it be heard.” ~ Allen Ginsberg

4) Go Madison Avenue – No need for loose morals, freely flowing whiskey and Mad Men here. Although posting affiliate links or ads on your site probably won’t buy you a penthouse on Park Avenue, consider them as another way to get yourself in front of the reader.

“It had better be quirky or perverse or thoughtful enough so that you hit some chord in them. I mean we’ve all read pieces where we thought, ‘Oh, who gives a damn.’ ” ~ Nora Ephron

5) Build your Bio – Succinctly tell people about you and your work, including your credentials, credits and awards. Keep it to one page and use it in your book, whenever you pitch your book, in your publicity package, on Amazon Author Central as well as on your website and blog.

“A reader reads to confirm a reality he knows is there, but which he has not experienced.” ~ Lawrence Durrell

6) Give It Away for Free – Create a signup list on your website/blog by offering a free excerpt of your work, a newsletter, an article, eBook, or video/audio product. The payoff will be a list of people who are interested in your book or product (readers = sales.) Integrate your e-mail marketing by using Aweber or Mail Chimp to handle your lists, newsletter, emails, and auto-responders.

“Like a small animal burrowing into its hole, I shift furniture around, and back myself into a cozy corner, with my back to the wall…and then I can write.” ~ Danielle Steel

7) Reel in the Reviews – Having a high number of reviews will attract new buyers because they are proof that your book is worth the reader’s investment of time and money. To get started, offer to swap reviews with other authors. Post your musings on Amazon, Goodreads and Red Room.

“Remember: A best-selling book usually follows a simple rule, It’s a wonderful story, wonderfully told; not, It’s a wonderfully told story.” ~ Nicholas Sparks

Watch for Building your Author Platform, Part Two, where we will discuss ways to put your best foot forward, make engaging offers and sustain your author platform over the long haul.

Ready to start your marketing plan? Get our free Book Marketing Checklist.

Thanks for stopping by.

Roger Harris , www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com