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

Writing a Mystery Novel – Plot 101 or Where to FInd Ideas

Writing DeskToday, we will begin a series of short blogs on how an author can craft and sell a novel, beginning with where a writer can find plot and character ideas.

Most simply, just do what you are already doing, such as reading other books. Of course, do not plagiarize but use these readings of the famous and not-so-famous as a springboard to build your own unique images, situations, dialogue or characters.

Next, close your mouth and listen. The world is not a still nor a silent place. In most public areas, some action or form of conversation is going on, from the hair salon, the checkout line at the market, at church or a little league baseball game, in the queue at the movie theater or yes, even sipping a double-mocha skinny latte at the dank coffeehouse where the one-armed guitar player hangs out. (Bet she has some tales to tell.)

Got Texts? Everyone is on the phone these days, playing games, tweeting, reading books or just clutching their devices like their lives depended on them. Maybe you overhear one-sided conversations and your imagination fills in what you don’t hear – sobs, cursing, yelps of joy, utter disgust, or just breathing because you have stumbled across a couple in love.

Maybe the boob tube keeps you warm on those rainy winter nights, or awake on those lazy Sunday post-brunch afternoons. The medium is a 4-season, ripe for the plucking, tree of ideas, from reality shows, interviews on talk shows, news reports, crime dramas, soap operas and dare I say, even sporting events. Think of a crowded stadium with 90,000 in attendance – a body is found in a bathroom after a match or game. How many suspects will there be? How many witnesses and how does a resolute crime-solver even begin paring down the list? Suppose a human flies to the ground from an upper balcony, was it suicide or murder, or just someone who had too much to drink?

Look around your neighborhood. Become privy to the backyard gossip and drama that often courses just below the surface of even suburban areas with well-manicured lawns, 3 SUVs in the garage and two cats in the yard. Maybe Jane’s gardener does takes twice as much time with her yard as he does with everyone else, or that Bob is always loading golf clubs into the trunk of his car – at night, or that often the Smith’s house sounds like a carnival shooting gallery in the wee, still hours after midnight, when dishes break on the Mexican tile floor with no regrets, and shadowy figures crash hard against ivory balloon shades and bold epithets hang cocked like shiny copper skillets in the tense kitchen air.

Or, maybe you live in the woods in a tent with no modern conveniences and your only burglar alarm is Fido and a ring of tin cans, begging to be kicked. Yeah, beyond that natural realm at the end of your grimy fingertips, is a world filled with your unique forays though life. It has been repeatedly said that authors create from what they have experienced. Perhaps you remember as a small child venturing beyond an unlocked door into a world of wonder that teemed with danger (at least to the adults searching for you) or the first time you drove a car by yourself and the pride you felt in returning home, with you and the car in one piece..

There is nothing wrong with digging a little deeper too. Why not mine your subconscious by keeping a pad and paper, recorder or your cell phone handy to record your dreams when you awaken. Use these inner glimpses as building blocks, tunnels or apertures for your ventures into a forbidden fantasy world. Keep a notebook of these dreams, put them on a flash drive, or on note cards and file them as fodder for those hopefully few times when you are searching for writing inspiration.

Above all else, enjoy the journey. Treat this process as absolutely necessary for your writing to grow and evolve, but delight in it, roll in it as if it were a field of your favorite wild flowers and be happy to be alive.

‘Till next time. Happy Writing.

R.R. Harris, Author of Double Take: An Island Travel Mystery of Lively Romance and Deadly Betrayal.       http://amzn.to/1l4uFak

Double Take Kindle Cover

‘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

 

 

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

Why do I write? Advice from Pearce, Hemingway, Capote, Maugham and Goldberg

Their surnames might adorn an oak-panelled wall where back-room deals are consummated over hearty handshakes and cognac-infused cigars, a place where billable hours litter the hardwood floors like so much confetti but, instead, these authors will help us answer our burning question of today, our raison d’etre as writers.

 

“The only obligation any artist can have is to himself. His work means nothing, otherwise. It has no meaning.” ~ Truman Capote

“What a writer has to do is write what hasn’t been written before or beat dead men at what they have done.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

“A writer need not devour a whole sheep in order to know what mutton tastes like, but he must at least eat a chop.” ~ W. Somerset Maugham

“As writers we live twice, like a cow that eats its food once and then regurgitates it to chew and digest it again. Slow down now, touch what is around you and out of care and compassion for every moment and detail, put pen to paper and begin to write.” ~ Natalie Goldberg

The following is an excerpt of a poem (untitled, I think), by Laura Pearce and partially answers our Topic’s question for me. Namely, because I want literary magic like this to gurgle forth from my keyboard and scribble pad.

When the gypsies came, your grandmother

made me promise not to go to the woods

where fires blazed and music played

and dark-eyed women danced in coins.

She said they’d steal a girl like me

with golden hair and flower skin

and make me beg in filthy clothes

and feed me scraps of moldy bread.

Thanks for stopping by.

Roger Harris, editor and marketing consultant

http://www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com

OPEN YOUR MIND TO INSPIRATION

A new study from the University of North Carolina shows that people who meditated for 20 minutes a day performed 10 times better than ones who didn’t meditate.

Not just 100% better, but 10 times or 1000% better.

That’s an amazing shift.

If you’re writing your next book, imagine how that would affect your productivity and creativity.

Studies have shown that the calmer your mind is, the better you feel and the more productive you are. In fact, it’s a great way to overcome writer’s block.

Some might say meditation is one of the fastest ways of coming up with new ideas.

Or maybe you just want to feel free of the busy, chattering mind.

When your mind is calm – in the alpha state – you are open to creativity and ideas can just flood in. Your “muse” can fill you with just the inspiration you need. Your heart, throat and third eye chakras open to let in love, communication and intuition from your higher self (or some say from their spirit guides) to come into the physical realm. For more on chakras, and a free download of my Chakra Meditations, please go to my website, www.thechakras.org.

Happy meditating and writing,

Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra Diaries

www.indieauthorcounsel.com



IT’S NOT TOO LATE TO START WRITING!

Or to start working toward your dream.

I received an email this morning from a friend entitled, “The Daffodil Principle.”

It told a story of a woman who put off going to view a field of daffodils with her daughter. Yes, there was suspense – fog on the road, would they crash before they got there?

They saw a glorious field of gold and in the midst of it a small house with a small sign.

On the patio, the sign said, “Answers to the Questions I Know You Are Asking.”  The first answer was a simple one.  “50,000 bulbs,” it read.  The second answer was, “One at a time, by one woman. Two hands, two feet, and one brain.” The third answer was, “Began in 1958.”

It was an example of moving toward our goals and desires one step at a time, often just one baby step at a time and learning to love the doing, learning to use the accumulation of time.  When we multiply tiny pieces of time with small increments of daily effort, we too will find we can accomplish magnificent things.  One of the things I like about NOVEL IN A MONTH is how it breaks down the steps to the dauntingly huge process of writing a book into small steps – like writing in 15-minute increments four times a day, until you have 50,000 words in a month!

Using small steps, and small pieces of time, we can write our books, and yes, according to the Daffodil Principle, “We can change the world.”

Use the Daffodil Principle.  Stop waiting until your car or home is paid off or until you leave your full-time job or until your kids leave the house or until you finish school or 
until you clean the house 
or until you organize the garage 
or 
until you get married 
or until you get a divorce or until you overcome writer’s block….

Start working toward you dream, and enjoy every moment of the ride. The destination can then be enjoyed by the world.

If you’d like to join me in trying to write your NOVEL IN A MONTH, click here.

Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra Diaries

www.TheChakras.org

www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com

How to Make Money as a Writer – A Bucket of Maybes

What great idea will lead you on the path to publishing success?

I want my life to feed the work. I don’t want it to be something that happens only between jobs. Barbara Hershey

Do you believe that you can be a writer? What roots you to that belief?

Much has been written about preparing a story outline, making a plan, knowing your last sentence. But doesn’t the mental and emotional state of the writer matter just as much or more?

Therapists and life coaches teach us that once we love our present lives and this universal, healing energy oozes out and touches others, that everything we want will begin to follow.

If I can assume you are not already a full-time writer and working daily at your craft, maybe you feel beaten down, defeated, as limp as a sour dishrag at the end of the day, maybe even after the first hour at your keyboard.

Try listening to your co-worker’s hopes and dreams at lunch or at the water cooler. Maybe you will have to sift through some rubbish because their aspirations are thickly veiled as garrulous gripes and catty complaints. But maybe she always wants to know how to stretch a shoestring budget and, as a mother of six, you know enough about that subject to write a book. (Light bulb!) Or maybe his tales of growing up homeless and surviving all odds could be woven into a great hero for your new novel.

Maybe you have always kept a journal and you know you could write a great self-help book on job hunting because you have had more jobs than Kelly Services, been on more interviews than Barbara Walters, and written and re-written your resume thousands of times.

Maybe you tolerate your non-writing job because you are convinced that it’s the only way you can earn money. You might be a Wall Street legal beagle with an expensive sheepskin and billable hours falling out of the wazoo but… your emotional briefcase won’t latch because of two bitter divorces, three estranged children and a partner perched perilously in a loony tree.

Or maybe you could never get your son to visit once he moved away from home, unless he needed money, but now it’s you visiting him instead because you can see both him and his father on Sundays nattily decked out in matching orange jumpsuits and cheap sandals.

Yes, these are extreme examples and most of us probably are nestled somewhere between – under the bell curve and out of the limelight, working, living, loving and sometimes writing.

How can you find your niche as a writer? Main characters, ideas for self help books, villains are everywhere and anywhere, waiting to be chronicled, melded, forged, stretched, plumped, brought into full bloom.

There isn’t time to talk about someday writing that short story or poem or novel. 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

I was recently inspired to write a story about a childhood schoolmate who lived at the town dump. Yes, literally in a teetering shack with rusting wheels with a wasp nest on the Southwest corner, perched mostly upwind from a mountain of rotting fish heads and other people’s lives. His father ran the dozer that pushed the stench into a manageable plateau. However, regardless of the unsavory flavor of his immediate environment, the kid was always cheery, quick with a joke and generous – he gave me his unopened chocolate milk once when I spilled mine.

Ten years of calendars after high school brought a reunion and he was there, literally beaming – now married with four kids, another in the oven and working as a custodian, mopping floors, scraping gum from desks, toting rubbish and sticking his yellow-gloved arm into toilets. Yet, he was a radiant son-of-a gun, happy, loose, as full of energy as a spring foal. I was so envious I forgot to remember anything else about the reunion.

Daily Horoscope: Jupiter’s mandate for the year is that you fulfill yourself creatively.

Let’s Do It! If you need some guidance, check out the organizational masterpiece, Novel in a Month. If you’d like to join me in trying to write your BOOK IN A MONTH, click here.

Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra Diaries

www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com