Business Communication

Business (Writing) Communication

Communication in any situation is important, but since relationships were talked about in a previous post, I’m going to spend some time talking about Business Communication.

So, what is Business Communication?

Business communication is essentially any type of communication you have with anyone else regarding your business, whether it’s marketing, customer relations or interpersonal communication. Anything that provides a way for you to speak to others is included. There are so many ways to communicate with in a business that we’ll only be focusing on how it relates to the writing business. That’s what we’re here for, right, the business of writing?

Business Communication

Image by rawpixel from Pixabay

You, as a business owner, have so many people you contact for different services and assistance, it’s no wonder being an author is a hard job. Unless you have some sort of system down for who you’re speaking to and what your talking about at any given moment, things can get hectic and overwhelming very quickly.

Problems with Communication

Even though we have plenty of ways to communicate nowadays, not all of them are as reliable as speaking face to face or over the phone, but we still try to use them. Email, text/messaging, print, and even television and radio have their downsides.

Problems

Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

Have you ever sent a text or message and the other person thought you were angry at them? Or had a customer look at your ad and wonder what it was that you’re trying to sell/say? There is no way to know the tone or meaning behind the words when you message others. If your not careful, your words can be completely misunderstood and they could interpret them one way when you meant for it to be taken a completely different way.

Once that occurs, you have to spend your time working to rectify the situation and get everything back on track, which could take more time than you have.

How to Fix or Avoid Communication Problems

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Image by Allan Washbrook from Pixabay

In order to avoid issues with misconstrued communication efforts, the best thing to do is probably stick to speaking to everyone on the phone or in person. If you don’t live close, programs like Skype and FaceTime work well to speak with others face to face. That way any questions about the project can be answered right away.

If you prefer contacting through written words, find a program like Trello, Asana, Monday.com, etc that allows you to form teams, assign tasks and communicate with each other as you work through projects. That way you and your team can ask questions, attach samples, and clarify issues all in one place.

Author/Writing Communication

Author Communication

Image by engin akyurt from Pixabay

As an author and writer, you are communicating with others on a daily basis whether that’s posting to social media, writing stories for your readers, or sending your work to your editor. We as writers, are always communicating and connecting with others and that in itself can be a taunting task.

Readers

Through the writing process, the one person we are trying to reach are our readers. We write for them. (Well, we write for ourselves and for the joy of it, but the readers we gain are the goal) Of course, not everyone is going to love your work, but you will get those that will love your style and work to the point of ordering everything that you produce.

Our stories fill a missing piece within our readers that even they didn’t realize was missing; whether that is a sense of adventure, the need to know love, or even a bit of fright. Our readers hang onto every word as they read waiting to see what happens on the next page. Its the most gratifying and natural ways for writers to speak, through words on a page.

Teams

You as a writer may or may not have a team yet, but once you do things can get much smoother, but that doesn’t mean problems don’t arise. Tools like Trello or Asana are perfect for keeping things organized between the writer and their team members. You can assign them tasks and they can ask questions and check things off right on the apps.

You may also communicate with your team though texts, messages, or others, but keeping to one type (unless it’s an emergency) keeps things flowing nicely. Each person knows what they need to do and they can get it done before the deadline approaches. If you don’t have a system for your team, I suggest you try one of these out for yourself.

Betas/Alphas

Beta and Alpha readers are those that you depend on the most for their honest opinions, but there are those times when they can be too honest, harsh even. It’s a price we pay for writing and something that must be understood as both reader and writer. The writer is trying their best to bring out the best story to the public. In return for receiving an advanced copy of their work, the writer expects honest feedback from the beta.

That doesn’t mean that betas/alphas can totally rip apart the work that writer has spent who knows how much time on or even suggest they change the story completely to suit that particular reader. As betas/alphas, we as writers are only looking for suggestions on making our writing better and enjoyable for others before putting it out into the world. And writers, be clear what you are to expect of your betas/alphas as they read through your work. If you don’t specify what you’re looking for in feedback, you’re going to get everything and anything, which let me tell you can be overwhelming when you finally receive your manuscript back.

So, communication with your betas/alpha on what you are specifically looking for is necessary to keep things running as smooth as possible.

Editors

Here is another, where you need to specify what you’re looking for unless you are hiring them for one specific job, such as line editing. Editors are your last stop before publishing and once they’ve gone through your work, be prepared to revise if necessary. They will let you know what could be done better and inform you of any errors they may catch. So communication between you and your editor is a must.

Agents

Now, I know not everyone has an agent, but if you do, the communication you have between yourself and them is also important. If one of you doesn’t receive the right information, you could end up booking the wrong event or submitting to the wrong publishing house.

There are so many things that could go wrong when you don’t communicate well between you and others. Think about your everyday communications with family and friends. how often is something taken out of context or interpreted wrong? I can’t tell you how many times my sister and I ask if the other is angry because we just didn’t get back to them  soon enough. Things happen, but we don’t want any conflicts between anyone.

Final Thoughts

Though communication is important and can get skewed as we type the wrong words or we didn’t clarify something well enough, there are ways to avoid those problems by keeping communication open and discussing the issues when they arise. You can do your part by clarifying as much as possible before anything can get to that point and keeping everyone on the same page with sites like Trello. They will put that to rest as everyone has their tasks and no one is getting confused as to what they need to do.

That leaves you time to focus on what you need to focus on, communicating the best way you know how… through the words of your stories!

Quality Feature

Quality

What is Quality?

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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Quality is…. Well, let’s take a look at what the dictionary says.

Dictionary.com

WIKI

  •  Level of excellence.
  •  A property or an attribute that differentiates a thing or person.
  • High social position.
  • The degree to which a man-made object or system is free from bugs and flaws, as opposed to scope of functions or quantity of items.
  • A two-phase liquid–vapor mixture, the ratio of the mass of vapor present to the total mass of the mixture.
  • The third step in OPQRST where the responder investigates what the NOI/MOI feels like.
  • To identify quality try asking, “what does it feel like?”.

Or it is the degree in which you view the item in question. It’s your belief and understanding of how acceptable the product, or item you’re creating, purchasing or looking at is.

Identify Quality

Depending on what you’re looking at, what you purchased, or item you’re examining, the aspects of quality could be different. So let’s look at a few things and see what I could find on quality for each of them.

Life

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Image by Myriams-Fotos from Pixabay

To identify the quality of life you must look at what’s happening in each area of your life. Determine what you want from that area and move forward to decide if the quality is where you would like it to be or if something needs to change to gain the quality you’re looking for.

Health/Well-being

Are you healthy and making good choices, or are you always eating out and sitting on the couch when you get home? Is what you are doing now how you pictured yourself being? What you really want to be doing? Let me tell you there are days I would love to just hang out on the couch, but right now I don’t like the way I look so I work out every day. It’s been 46 days straight, which may not seem like much, but it’s a milestone for me!

Making good decisions is part of daily life and we have to live with those choices we make, whether it’s the decision to exercise or skip that candy bar that’s calling our name at the store check out. Sneaky store marketing, putting candy right where you have to wait to purchase your items. It’s just screaming for your to purchase it!

Anyway, keeping healthy doesn’t have to be difficult. Do what you feel is right and what makes you happy, just don’t over due it. I have actually started putting my candies in their serving sizes and have gotten down to having a serving every few days when I would have eaten a 16oz bag of dark chocolate covered peanuts in one sitting. Now I can’t believe I ever did that.

Satisfaction

As with health and fitness, you need to decide if what you are doing right now with your life is satisfying. If it’s not, you may want to re-evaluate what you are doing and what you could be doing.

People always tell you to do what you love and sometimes what you love is just out of reach or put on the back burner. Fortunately, I am doing what I love, but if you are not, I urge you to got after it. Now, I am in no way telling you to quit your job or anything. I’m just saying it may be it’s time to take that first step toward that goal or thing you’ve always wanted to do. Go ahead, take that first step, you may find the next one isn’t that hard to reach. I did!

Safety & Security

One of the things we as humans want is to be safe and secure in our lives. To be able to do what we desire or what we need without hinderance of anything else getting in the way.

Though things happen that are out of our control, there are things we can do to create a safer and more secure environment. Your life is yours to protect, do what you can to keep it as safe as possible.

Education

Learning is said to happen daily and I completely agree with that. Though you may not realize that you learned anything, I bet if you really think about it, you probably learned something new even if it is small.

Education comes in many forms whether you are going to a school or learning on your own. It’s natural to want to know more about what interests you (or to fix that thing you don’t want to have someone else come to fix. Who doesn’t want to save a few bucks, right?)

Education is a deep part of life as we continue to learn and grow in what we love or what we need as we progress along the path we’ve chosen. Make sure you’ve chosen the right one.

Home

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Image by Pexels from Pixabay

The quality of your home involves on what goes on inside the walls and beyond the windows. It’s involves memories, joy, and times of happiness that create what the home really is.

Family

Family is where the home is, really, isn’t it? There really isn’t a home without the feeling of family, friends, and a place to come home to each night that gives you the feeling of peace and security.

The home is where the most important parts of your life happen. Memories are made with family and friends in a place that provides a safe haven for you and yours.

The quality of the home is what you believe the home is really about. Is it about walls and windows or is it about those who are there with you, living life and spending their time with you?

Safety & Security

How do you put quality on safety and security? Is it an alarm system that alerts those of intruders or is it having the basic things needed to live life?

Though each one of us have our own opinions on the subject, we all agree that a home provide a sense of safety and security in itself.

There are those that believe carrying firearms, having those alarms, and learning basic self defense are also part of safety and security, but if you really think on the subject, what is the most important when it comes to security and safety?

That is something you need to decide for yourself.

Work/Business

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Image by rawpixel from Pixabay

This could be a hard discussion because of how you perceive the value of your work or business. Is it something that you’re just doing to pay bills and get by or are you invested into what you do, enjoying every minute?

Employment

As I mentioned earlier, you should love what you do, but if you don’t how do you find quality in something you hate? Well, for me, it has to deal with everything that isn’t me. It’s something you need to evaluate and talk though as you work toward the goal that set you on that path in the first place.

Why are you doing something you don’t like? And if you do like it, how can you get more out of it? How can you make it even better? What is it about your work that you dislike? Is it something you can change? Sometimes you can change it, while other times you have to deal with what’s given, but you can always change how you think about it.

Is work something you bring home with you? What I mean is, if you’ve had a really awful day, does it leak into that place of family, safety and security you’ve created? How can you leave work at work? It’s hard to shut off your working mindset when you return from a rough day or even a fantastic day, but sometimes that is what you need to do in order to create the quality of work you need in your life. Do what you can, work to make things better and keep your work at work.

Business

Your business like anything else is your pride and joy. It’s something you strive to make better for you customers. So, what is it about your business that brings people in? Quality! The quality of products, the quality of services and what meets their needs that you can provide.

What to Think About

Your definition of quality and what it means for your business as a whole. What things do you want to be known for within your business that makes consumers want to purchase your product once they hear about it?

Your targets and achievements to accomplish as your business grows.

Things to Ask

How will you measure quality? Quality of the product, the service, performance, stability, efficiency, etc? There are many aspects of a business that involves quality and what you feel is necessary to measure within the aspects of a great product or service. This may be the time to really sit and think about how quality affects your business and what you can do to improve on it.

Time

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Image by annca from Pixabay

Time, that ever present entity that seems to slip away from us as the day wears on, but how do you measure the quality of time. Is it the amount of time you spend in each area of your life or the meaning of time as it’s related to each area of life?

Time is tricky and finding quality within it is even more so. We talk about time and quality as it relates to business and how we can be more productive with our time or with our family and how we can spend more ‘quality time’ with them, but what does ‘quality time’ really mean?

Time, like a clock, can be a spread of hours and minutes, but it’s what you do with and how you use those hours and minutes that count.

Productivity only gets better if you work hard to create a schedule that fits you and those around you. You want to spend more quality time in your business, then be sure you’re focusing on the things that will progress your business. Leave the things that won’t or have little affect on the back burner until you are truly ready to give them the attention that they need.

Family is another place where we are always trying to provide the quality of time. Are you spending time as a family or are you ‘spending time as a family’? If your together in the same room, but everyone is doing their own thing or on their phones, playing the latest app, does that really count as quality time? What are you children doing in school, what are their interests now (they do change), what about your spouse? Do you really spend ‘time’ with them? or are you telling yourself that you are?

Find the time to really sit down and put the ‘quality’ back into ‘quality time.’

 

Writing

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Image by StartupStockPhotos from Pixabay

Now, onto the thing that we all love (and sometimes hate), writing. Since this blog deals with writing, couldn’t possibly leave this out, right?

So, how can we tell the quality of our writing? It’s difficult to read your own writing and really see it as a consumer, to see the quality of the words, characters, and journey through the eyes of the reader, which is why we have beta readers, alpha readers and so on.

But if you’re looking to find a quick list of things to aim for in terms of quality in your writing I’ve compiled a list for you below. Enjoy.

  • Spelling – Darn that autocorrect, how I have a love/hate relationship with that thing. You never know when it will change your words even when you don’t intend to.
  • Grammar
  • Punctuation – Do I use a comma, semi-colon, or colon here? Those have always given me a problem.
  • Consistency – Keep with the story, characters, settings as your novel progresses. Readers can pick out when something goes amiss.
  • Style
  • Readability/Flow – No one likes a choppy story
  • Tone – keep with the same tone throughout unless it’s absolutely necessary to change in the middle.
  • Enjoyable topics – Readers all have different opinions, but you should have an idea of what your readers like so you can appeal to their interest and imaginations as you write.

 

Final Thoughts

Quality can deal with many things, but it’s how you perceive the thing in question that really counts. Find the quality and you will find the better in you and your business.

 

Tools for Writers

Tools for Writers

In the field of writing, there are so many tools out there for you to choose from. One could get lost in the sea of information, systems, and apps that are available to help those aspiring to write, edit, research and more.

As you journey on this path to becoming a great author, you will try all the things to get down a system for yourself. Writing programs, apps, the dreaded editing (unless you like edits, then contact me because I hate them with a passion) revising, and more. What you find is that some things that work for others, will not work for you.

Each of us has our own mind, our own way of seeing things and processing them. What will help me may or may not help you, but in the chance that it might help you or you find something you might want to try, I’ll list what I use below.

This post may contain affiliate links. This just means that I may receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you, if you decide to purchase any of the products discussed in this post.

Writing

 

 

Writing

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Word processors used to write your drafts. Really they are the devices we use to create journeys, adventures, horrors, and more to intrigue, create emotional attachments, and provide an escape from the real world.

Scrivener

Like many others, I use Scrivener to write my novels. With a binder setup, it’s easy to keep things organized they way I like whether thats in chapters, scenes, parts or whatever.

I can also use their outline feature and notecards to keep everything organized and easy to find. If you’d like to check it out, you can go HERE to find out more.

4TheWords

This isn’t just another word processor, it’s a journey in itself. Trust me, if you want to go on your own journey as you write this is the site for you.

It has timed writing as you defeat monster, collect objects and join others in global quests where you write with others to defeat the same monsters. It’s great!!

Inspiration/ Creativity

Creativity

Image by Jonny Lindner from Pixabay

The places or things you do to create that spark of thought that will propel you into the next story, the next chapter, or next scene.

Pinterest

The number one place I go when I need inspiration on any aspect of my story, whether it’s characters, setting, or whatever. There is so much talent, images, and inspiration being posted to this site. It’s a wealth of creativity and great place to find inspiration.

Movies

Another place I go to find inspiration is movies. I love watching movies and will unconsciously choose some based on characters or abilities so my mind can see what others have thought of. You never know when that one thing you’ve been looking for will hit you like a ton of bricks, so keep a notebook handy. It’s a great way to get a visual aspect on story, characters, setting and more.

Games

Oh, this is one of my favorites. Our family loves co-op and strategy games so we have a lot of ‘European Games’. Our favorites are PowerGrid, Caylus, Cleopatra, and my personal favorite Shadows Over Camelot.

Games, like movies can provide inspiration for many aspects of your story if you tune into specific aspects. You can get ideas for character, setting, even story, but you can also get a feel for strategy, materials, and the path your pieces travel as well. It’s amazing how you can find creative inspiration from the games we play.

What are you favorite games and movies? What are the ones you come back to again and again?

Prompts

This may not give you as much for specific inspiration, but could give you the spark you’ve been looking for. There are many, many prompts out there for many different voices. You can check out my Pinterest Page for Prompts or just give it a search and see what comes up. These are fantastic for story, dialogue and more!

Brainstorming/Mind-mapping

Mind Mapping

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

We all need a way to get our thoughts out and on paper (or within an app). Those creative ideas aren’t going to stay in our heads forever, right?

Notes

There is nothing more simple than having a spiral or notebook with just that, notes. You pour all your thoughts and ideas into that stack of bound paper (or looseleaf if that’s what you have) and work from there, returning when you need that one piece of vital information. Searching and scavenging for what you need because you didn’t organize them enough to know where the darn thing is.

Unless you are extremely organized and put into sections with tab, then I commend you. It crosses my mind, but I haven’t done it yet.

MindMeister

This is a free app (for 3 maps) that allows you to create visual maps, organizing them in any way you wish to suit your needs. You can do one for characters, another for setting, another for plot and so on. The possibilities are endless with this!

Features:

  • Collaborate anywhere
  • Simple Project Management
  • Choose your Mind map style
  • Share your mind map with others
  • Mind Map Presentation
  • Templates
  • Add Images, Video and more
  • History Mode
  • Import and Export

Scapple

I personally haven’t had much experience with this, but from what I see, it’s similar to MindMeister. It give you what you need to get your ideas out and connect them in a way that suites your needs and the needs of your book. The best thing for those of you that use Scrivener – you can connect your notes to Scrivener! Awesome!

 

Features:

  • Write notes anywhere
  • Connect notes using drag and drop
  • Completely freeform
  • Stack notes in columns of related ideas
  • Create background shapes to group notes
  • Customize the appearance of notes
  • Move and arrange notes easily
  • Full Screen Mode
  • Export or Print your ideas
  • Drag Notes into Scrivener!

Productivity/Focus

Focus

Image by rawpixel from Pixabay

Writers and authors are always trying to find more focus while working to get their next story complete. It’s the way it’s been for years, but it doesn’t have to be that way if you can find that focus to get the most out of your productivity, then you would be set, right?

I have a whole post on focus, which you can find Here! How to minimize distractions and regain focus to get things done.

For me, I’ve tried to use productivity apps and other things to stay with my deadlines, but I haven’t found the one for me. What works for me, and I cannot stress this enough, (obviously) is the creativity of 4thewords.com. If you haven’t tried this site, I dare you to try it. I’ll even give you my code for a free month to try it out: OSUBW81786

Another app I’ve heard of are Write or Die, but I can’t see myself using this because I would be devastated if my words started disappearing if I couldn’t meet my goal. It’s terrifying really, but if it works for you, by all means, use it!

More apps are:

There are so many more apps if you put in a search for productivity apps, I can’t tell you what to choose. You’ll have to try them and decided what works best for you.

Organization

These are also Productivity apps, but I’ve placed them here because they are also great tools to keep everything organized and together. A place where everything is there, in that one place for you to find quickly and easily.

Trello

Yep, you knew I was going to say that. Trello is a great tool to keep all your things organized and in one place. With board, cards, and the ability to attach anything to those cards, it’s an easy way to keep things separated that need separated and those that need grouping in their prospective areas.

It’s great for keeping track of multiple aspects of your writing. You could have one board for world building, one for characters, one for settings, images or you could use one board and use separate lists and cards to keep things in one place.

You choose how you want to organize it. That and you can also use it for personal, business, or daily routines or tasks.

Scrivener

As far as organizing your book and only your book, Scrivener is the place I go too. I love that I can keep my scenes, chapters, research and can add any documents and even websites as references right within the program. It’s fantastic!

Storage (Electronic/Harddrive/USB)

Want a way to keep your thoughts and ideas organized in a way that you can take it with you or keep it on your desktop? Try Dropbox, iCloud, or Google Docx/Drive for electronic storage. If you are the kind that likes backups for backups, you could keep files directly on your computer or on a USB drive.

Putting my drafts on a USB is something I’ve thought to do, but haven’t done yet. I’ve lost copies and versions that I know I’ve changed, but can’t find the draft I changed. Any one else have a problem like that?

Reference

References

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

Every author/writer has their list of references in their toolbox. There are a few that I turn to that I always head to when I need information.

Searches

When I need information on a specific topic there are two places I head too and I bet you can guess where those places are. Yep, you guessed them, Pinterest and Google. These two places are a wealth of information. Yeah, you chance that what you’re finding isn’t true, but it came from the internet so it must be, right?

Just kidding! Even with all the lies out there, it’s the job of the writer to research multiple avenues and discover the truth. We are like journalist in that fashion.

Dictionary

There is always that one word your brain just can’t seem to remember the definition for and it happens more frequently than you might think or notice. That’s why having a dictionary handy, so you can look up that infernal word and find out if you’re using the darn thing right.

Thesaurus

Like the dictionary writers run into what I like to call their ‘favorite’ word. It’s that one word they use over and over again within their manuscript. You know which word that is and a thesaurus is a great tool to diversify your vocabulary so you’re not repeating or becoming redundant.

Editing/Revising/Proofreading

Editing

Image by Anne Karakash from Pixabay

So, you’ve finished your manuscript and are now ready to move onto the next step, editing your work. I gotta tell ya, this is the part I absolutely hate, but it’s a necessary evil. Here are some tools you can use to make the process easier.

ProWritingAid

This program is great for finding errors in your writing. It will also help with style, errors, finding the right words, and punctuation. For a full list of features, click Here.  It’s been a great help to me (when I don’t lose my current copy of my project) and it could be what you’ve been looking for.

Beta Readers

These are people who will read your story for the soul purpose of giving you feedback on your writing. As much as you may hate to hear what others have to say about it, it’s necessary to take their suggestions into consideration. These are those who represent your readers, and you want your story to resonate with them. You definitely don’t have to take every suggestion, it is your story after all, but just consider it. Don’t ever take their words in a negative way. It’s hard to take criticism and trust me, that is something I need to work on myself.

Editor

Another ‘tool’ that will help is an editor and a good one. You want to do your research for this one. An editor is an invaluable part of your editing process. They catch what your beta readers didn’t and can give you advice on how to improve your manuscript.

Other Apps

Though I haven’t personally worked with any of these apps, they are worth mentioning because I’ve seen and heard others who recommend them highly to others. Take a look and see if any fit your and your writing style.

Publishing

Publishing

Image by MorningbirdPhoto from Pixabay

When you’ve gone through your manuscript, had other eyes on it, revised it and it’s the best it can be. Double check you have the right copy, trust me the last thing you want to do is publish the wrong draft of your story. Been there, done that, it’s not pretty. Here are some places to consider publishing or at least the two that I use.

Amazon (Kindle Direct Publishing)

Well, I bet you were going to guess this one, but they are the biggest retail site out there and one of the easiest to publish your book too. They provide everything you need to get your book out to the world including formatting to ebook and paperback and helping with cover design. You can check them out Here.

Draft 2 Digital

With Draft2Digital, you are able to enter all your information once and publish to multiple stores, which now includes Amazon. They’ve also created an easy way to list your books and share them with the world on social media. If you haven’t taken a look, you can Here. You won’t be sorry!

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are many, many  tools for the writer/author to utilize and there are many more that I haven’t listed. Take what you like from here and use what fits you, leave what doesn’t.

From one aspiring author to you, I wish you the best of luck on your journey. Keep at it, don’t stop, forge ahead and succeed!

 

Lessons Learned in 2018

Once again, the end of the year is near and there is so much I’ve learned this year in my life, my business, and my home.

You may not think it would benefit you to read about things I’ve learned throughout the year, but doing just that may bring something similar to light that you may have learned and forgotten during the year or perhaps there’s something I learned that may enlighten you to something new.

If you would like to see my list from last year you can find it HERE!

Now on to this year… I’ve had a tough year writing this year. I had everything planned out, ready to go, my motivation high, a go-getter attitude until the end of March when I traveled a lot and lost the momentum I gain at the beginning. Although I was able to continue, I wasn’t able to regain the same passion and go-getter attitude I had at the beginning of the year. Because of that, things didn’t get done. I let some things go and I had not energy to keep going with my series.

I took a break to try to re-energize myself, but even after that, I felt I put too much weight onto my shoulders to continue with much, which caused me to redo things and see things in a different light than I would have during any other time.

Below are some things I learned to add to the list from last year. I’m only focusing on a few points this year as the holidays are near and I’m feeling drained as it is. Time to refocus and speaking of that…

Focus

With things going on during different times of the year, it’s hard to lose focus on what you really wanted to accomplish during that time. I had so many plans, but my problem was that although I had goals and ‘plans’, I didn’t really plan out the steps to keep myself accountable or moving forward as I continue my journey through life.

You can bet I’ve revamped my planner to allow me to create action steps, deadlines, reminders and anything else I need to keep myself on track for the coming year.

Communication/connections

I’ve read and read about connecting with other writers, but I never really took the time to actually do that until this year. Even though I wasn’t getting too much published with my own books, I took on some beta and ARC reading to help other authors with their stories.

This has been a fantastic experience and every one of them has been awesome. I’ve asked questions, had one look at my covers, etc and they gave me their honest opinions and advice on everything I questioned, without hesitation on their part. I could not have asked for a better experience than I’ve had with the ladies I’ve connected with this year.

Here’s to you:

Raven Kennedy

Ivy Asher

Blake Blessing

LM Wilson

Lidia Russell

Not only are they very talented, they’ve taken time out of their busy schedules to allow me to ask them questions, gain advice and learn from them as they continue their own journey. Check out their books and pages! These ladies are freakin’ awesome!!

New Programs

4thewords.com

I’m sure if you’ve signed up for my newsletter, you’ve seen me talk about a site called 4thewords.com. Listen, I know I’ve probably overstepped my welcome with this, but I honestly LOVE this site.

During a writing slump near the middle of the year, I watched the girls of WordNerds (who I watch regularly) as they raved about this site. I had to check it out and it’s freakin’ crazy.

Who knew you could go on your own adventure, fight your own monsters, collect rare items and more all while writing. Use your words to fight monsters and go on an epic adventure while doing it? Sign me up!!

Photoshop

I finally invested in Photoshop and really like the program. Though I wish it weren’t so expensive, it’s definitely worth the money you pay for the program and all  that comes with it.

I’ve been creating my own book covers and I admit that my first few attempts were terrible, I’ve redone book 1 of my Conquer the Darkness Series three times now and I feel that my skills are improving.

Light X

Light X is another photo editor that was recommended by one of the lovely ladies from above. I’ve downloaded it and tried it out, but there is a bit of a learning curve as I am still trying to work though layers and being able to edit previous layers I’ve added.

Since it came highly recommended, I’ll give it further attention and see where it takes me.

Breaks

Man, did I learn my lesson on this one. When I scheduled my time last year, I didn’t really schedule in breaks. I thought I would just take off on holidays and such, but my mind didn’t want to and trying to get back into motion after taking a week long break was so hard.

You can bet my planner has breaks and that I’ll be creating a guide of where I left off so I can get back into rhythm after those breaks.

Writing Processes

So, I have to admit something. When I first started writing, I did everything myself. I wrote, edited, revised, published, created my own covers, EVERYTHING!

Now, I knew that this was wrong when I started, but like many writers, I’m broke and can’t afford  many of the services required to create such an amazing story.

So, to start off on the right foot, I’ve decided to re-launch my series in January and my first step is to find Beta readers who are willing to read my stories and give me feedback on characters, settings, arcs, and anything else they may find within my writings.

If you are interested in becoming a beta reader for my story, below is the description (which will be getting a revamp to, so bear with me) and the newest cover. If you’re interested, please sign up HERE! I promise you won’t regret it!

Ray of light

A nurse at the local hospital, Raylynn Bormarlian provides comfort and love to the patients she treats. But something inside keeps her from accepting the same love and comfort from others. As memories of the nightmare she experienced long ago return, Raylynn is forced to confront a man that created so much misery, pain and anguish to her younger self in order to find what is hidden deeper in her soul.
Jynx Luminar is a top operative in an elite force determined to protect those with unusual powers and are in need of assistance returning to society after traumatic events. Assigned to protect and train the woman he once caused so much pain, he must find a way to tell her his secret before he loses her forever.
From their first scent, Raylynn and Jynx could not resist the attraction simmering between them. Yet, Raylynn must face what has become her worst nightmare to forge forward with Jynx without fear of the past. Will they overcome their demons once entering the lab of a man who haunted her dreams and caused a terror so great she no longer willed to live? Will he find the courage to tell her of his past?

So, what have you learned this year? Maybe I can learn from you. Go ahead, comment and let me know. Have questions? Ask those too. 

June’s Theme: Summer Activities Your Characters are Enjoying.

For this month’s theme, I thought we could do something a bit different. Instead of writing about what you are doing for the summer, I thought it would be fun to tell what your characters are doing for the summer. Are they traveling? Are they working? Will they be taking some much needed time off? What will they be doing the hot days of summer? Give your character’s story below!

Summer Activities for Characters

 

Example: The characters of Conquer the Darkness are all enjoying some much needed time away from the group and with their mates in different destinations. Raylynn, Jynx and their son Jordan have gone to the mountains of Colorado to frolic in the woods. Blessing and Knight have returned to their home town to check up on his law firm and her bookstore. Jazzmine and Brady, well, are still getting used to being together so they have decided to stay at the West Branch and make sure things are continuing as they should. Cloe and William have decided to go south and visit the sandy beaches of Florida while the triplets continue to search for answers between playing video games. Much to Noreline’s dismay. 

So what are you characters doing this summer? I’d love to hear about it. Comment below!

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May’s Writing Theme: Where is Your Progress At?

Since we are one quarter into the year, I thought we could write about (and analyze) where we are, where we are going, and what we have done to get us to this point. So for this month we are writing our progress on whatever you have going on right now. Writing related or not. We are here to support you!

Where is

 

Example: For my example this month I will refer you to my blog as I have already given my progress for the quarter there. My Progress So Far… Check it out to see where I am and where I plan to go to reach my goals.

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A Story Grows as a Plant Grows

Spring is upon us and we are beginning to ready our garden for seeds/spuds. Yep, we are adding potatoes to our garden this year!! I can’t wait!

Since my little man loves gardening and all things that breath life, I am dedicating this post to him. Not to mention it’s his birthday today, so Happy birthday buddy! If not for him, my thought process would have skipped over this topic and on to the next.

Anyway, as we are deciding on seeds and what to plant where, my author mind took hold and contemplated as I often do… how a story is similar to a plant and how it grows.

Here is what I’ve noticed:

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The Seed:

The seed in the story is, and you’ve probably guessed this… the spark of inspiration. That first initial thought of “Wow, this could be something great!” or “I’ve got to write this down, this would make such a great story!” And you’re probably right! 😉

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Germination:

This is where your story gets interesting, where it takes root as you write notes, plot, gather ideas for characters, settings, plot, conflict and the journey your characters will explore. The story will stretch it’s roots creating the beginning of something awesome!

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Growth:

As plants need nourishment, so to does the author. As a plant battles nature with weather, animals, and even humans, you to will discover the hardships of writing your story. Doubt, distraction, writer’s block, discouragement are all things we face as writers, but as the plant holds firm, you will too.

Find encouragement in others, inspiration in words and enjoyment in your characters, your setting and your plot twists to keep you motivated. Some plants may take days to flower while other take months or even years, but they WILL flower.

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Polination:

This is the part of your story where you get down to the nitty gritty. As bees pollinate the flowers, you must go from place to place researching your story further with interviews, history, occupations, folklore, or whatever topic is in need of researching for your specific story. Enjoy this journey and have fun with it!

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Reproduction:

Reproduction is the act of bring things together to create a new and exciting being. In the same sense, you bring all the components together from your notes, research, interviews, and more to create a new and fascinating tale. The journey of the characters, the realism of the settings, relationships and conflict as they move along their path create something people are dying to read!

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Spreading the Seeds:

Spread the seeds! Are you ready to enter the realm and start again with a series or did you discover a new tale while writing this one? Keep going with characters your readers love and create their story. Create your tale so that readers are coming back for more and sparking that seed of inspiration in others writers who dream to be where you are.

 

What do you think? Ever sit and think, “This is so much like writing!” What have you noticed around you that you could relate to the writing process? Comment below, I would love to hear your thoughts. 

 

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What Can’t You Live Without?

During the last few weeks my husband has been on vacation and I’ve been traveling down to my sisters for watch her children while they were out of town because… I’m an awesome sister.

With all the traveling, I’ve had to cut down access to my work to my IPad and my phone, which got me thinking… If you had to pick on thing, what is one that you could not live without. Let me know! I would love to hear from you. I’ll include my answers here, in green (my favorite color 😉 )

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The One Thing: ___________________________

My Answer: Pencil/pens

Why? What’s special about it: _____________________________________

My Answer:  They are the most versatile utensil. As long as you have something to write on – paper, napkin, journal, flyer, whatever you can find, you can write

I bet you were thinking I was going to choose my IPad… what I have found while traveling the last few weeks is that my IPad and phone need to be charged, sometimes I need WiFi, and that where is going back to basics comes in handy. When inspiration strikes, if you have a pencil/pen you can grab something, anything nearby to write it down on for later contemplation. So, what’s yours?

Ok, not that we got that out of the way, why don’t I make this a bit more fun and give you some categories for other things you can’t live without:

General Item:

A general item you tend to keep handy, just in case…

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Answer: __________________________

My answer: Sweater – I’m the type of girl who can’t go long without getting cold.

Sweater with a cup of hot chocolate… even better!

On your desk:

The one thing one your desk that doesn’t include your computer, keyboard, mouse or other electronic…

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Answer: __________________________

My Answer: Griffin Candle: What better inspiration than an item from your chosen genre? He sits on my desk and watches me type everyday without a word, but ever encouraging.

The one electronic:

Ah, here’s the electronic… what is the one you can’t live without?

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Answer: __________________________

My Answer:  I guess I would have to say my iMac – I purchased it last year and I’m loving it! It has all my projects, graphics, social media, plans, etc all in one place and even if it can’t travel. I know my stuff will be there when I return. 

Social Media:

With all the social media outlets out there, which one could you not live without?

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Answer: __________________________

My Answer: I would have to say Patreon, not only can I post blog posts, it’s an easy way to offer more to readers, fans and audiences for their support while still providing awesome content.

Music:

What type of music or music platform could you not live without while working?

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Answer: __________________________

My Answer: I usually listen to Pandora while I work and my favorite channel to listen to is “Song of the Lonely Mountain” from The Hobbit. My genre is romantic fantasy adventure, so it fits. 

Snack:

What is one snack you can’t live without while working? or do you not snack while working. I’m always snacking on something… I guess my brain associates writing with food so I’ve now got a few healthy snacks on my desk while I write.

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Answer: __________________________

My Answer: Oh, this one is a bit harder, I really love something with pieces I can just pop into my mouth and keep working. What I’ve been choosing lately is cereal. Fruit in the Middle Mini Wheats. Love those! 

Writing Utensil:

What writing utensil can you not live without? Mechanical pencils? No. 2 pencils? Colored pencils? Black pens? or my personal favorite… Colored pens?

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Answer: __________________________

My Answer: Well, here is something that doesn’t take any thought whatsoever. Colored Pens! Yep, I am one of those people who gets excited when she receives pens as a stocking stuffer, colored pens – even better! 

 

Have others to add to the list? Comment and let me know so I can add them and give my answers! Go ahead and comment, I would love to hear your answers.

Patreon Benefits

Patreon Benefits For Authors and Writers

Nothing is better for Authors and writers than gaining the support of their readers. Whether that is liking posts, reading their books, writing reviews, critiquing their work and more. Let’s talk about another platform that you could be utilizing to support your favorite writer, author or creative entrepreneur. Yep, I’m talking about Patreon! I’ve noticed that quite a few artists and creatives have begun to use Patreon for various reasons:

Communication ~

As with blogs, social media and websites Patreon connects with them all to offer another platform to communicate with fans, readers and audiences from all over.

  • Not only do they provide a way to keep readers up to date with posts, it also allows you to create additional content for those that become a patreon of your page.
  • Connect your website and social media sites to provide more ways to find you and what you are posting.
  • One thing that I love about this site it the fact that you can provide an Intro Video, giving your readers, fans and audiences a face and personality to go along with the person they are supporting.
  • There is the ability to provide additional information with adding graphics and video into your posts.

Community ~

Community is an important part of any creatives repertoire. With Patreon you can build a community with others just as amazing as you!

  • Like, comment, follow and support others like-minded creatives who love the same things as you
  • Or ones who don’t! Inspiration comes from everywhere
  • Communicate with creatives in your field such as graphic designers, cover artists, marketers and more!
  • There is no limit when you are surrounded by others who are working toward a similar goal.

Linking ~

Patreon, like many other sites allow you to connect to your other sites for better conversion rates and communication.

  • Link your website (and don’t forget to add that on your posts along with your author page)
  • Link your social media (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Twitch for gamers)
  • Don’t forget you can add links in any of your posts!

Patreon Extras ~

Man, did I forget to mention the rewards… and more?

  • If you visit most patreon pages, the right hand side is a column of rewards for becoming a patreon member. You could receive anything from Patreon Only posts to free goodies and more!
  • Also, if you are an Author, you can offer a reward section for early releases or sneak peeks of your work!
  • There are many things to provide as rewards
    • Sneak peeks
    • ARC
    • Short stories
    • Author Merchandise/Swag
    • Coupons/Discounts
    • And more!

If you are thinking of starting a Patreon page (or supporting a journeying author) check out Patreon or My Patreon page to find out more.

Creating and Planning Characters

I posted on social media last week about how you come up with your character’s names and that got me thinking how I create and plan my characters. And because I love to share, I thought I would post it here to provide an inside to my thought process and possibly help those who are struggling in some areas.

So, let’s dig in.

Naming my Characters:

When I start a new story, I tend to have an idea for the main character in mind before the story actually starts or is planned out. What they look like, their personality, etc. Whether the character is timid and will grow in strength, or they are strong, but realize that showing weakness makes them human. Or maybe something different all together.

So, then comes naming my character(s). I really don’t like writing a story and not knowing my character’s name. It seems so impersonal. So, I think of a name and I tend to use the same technique to come up with their identity.

Letter(s):

I tend to, well I can’t say tend to, because I alway have a letter or a few letters in mind for the beginning of the first name. It’s hard to explain how that works, but I think of the characters, how I want them to be portrayed throughout the story, and a letter usually presents itself.

I will use the characters of my Conquer Series for examples:

  • R – Raylynn
  • B – Blessing
  • J – Jazzmine
  • B – Brandon
  • J – Jynx
  • K- Knight

Syllables:

As with the letters, I usually know how many syllables the character’s name will have. Most do have two syllables with a nickname, while others have one or even three. Again, I can’t explain this, but I know how I want the names to work, so why not know their syllables? 😉 I didn’t realize it, but most of the names fit the characters so well they actually tell something about the characters.

Examples:

Raylynn, who’s nickname is Ray can be a “ray of light” (You’ll have to read it to get that one 😉 )

Blessing, who doesn’t realize she is not a nuisance or burden, she is a blessing

Jazzmine, well her personality fits her nickname.

And these were totally unintentional!

Visuals:

My next step is to find a visual for my characters, a picture to put with the name. I use sites like Unsplash, Pixabay, and Pexels to find my photos, because most likely I’ll be using them to create their covers and photos from those site are completely royalty free.

Here are some example of photos I’ve found and how I used them:

Raylynn:

 

Ray of Light Final         pexels-photo-247203

Jazzmine:

design-10        girl-2097003_1920

I may change their features a bit to fit the character better, but usually there isn’t much that needs to change. They are quite similar to what I’m looking for in my characters.

Physical Description:

This is one area I do stick to the norm and fill out a list of descriptive qualities such as:

  • Hair color
  • Eye color
  • Weight
  • Height
  • Build
  • Skin tone
  • Distinct feature(s)
  • Clothing
  • Age

Visit my Writing-Education or Writing- Character Inspiration pinterest page for great ideas to help in these areas!

Personality:

This is another area I have a list for:

  • Likes
  • Dislikes
  • Personal Goals
  • Struggles/Challenges
  • Accomplishments
  • Future Expectations
  • Future Reality
  • Internal and External conflicts
  • Quirks
  • Flaws
  • Secrets
  • Pet peveves
  • Personality type (I use the list from 16personalities.com)
  • Character archetype (I use The 12 Common Archetypes by Carl Golden)
  • One more thing I add to this category is their Ability. Most of my characters have some sort of power that makes them who they are so I mention that here.

Now the characters may not fit the personality or archetypes exactly, but that gives you a chance to use that as weaknesses or lessons they’ll learn throughout your story.

Habits/Mannerisms:

This is where I list quirks, things they do that make them… them. Make them real. (Link previous post) Things like running their hands through their hair, tapping their chin, tapping their fingers when their arms are crossed. Maybe they carry something with them always or rely on something for security.

Background:

Here is where you can add things like:

  • Family
  • Ethnicity
  • Education
  • Occupation
  • Residence
  • Brief Life History
  • This is where I like to give a little about how they ended up where they currently are when the story begins as well.

Looking Forward:

This is where I like to give a little about the Character and where they will end up at the end of the book. It’s not a bad I idea to know where your characters will be by the end of their tale.

 

So, what are your thoughts? Anything I don’t have you think I should? What do you have and how do you plan your characters? I would love to hear from you!