writing

Author Survives Parenthood and Writes Tell All

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Now can you think of a book title that would horrify your children (and possibly grandchildren) more than these seven words, Author Survives Parenthood and Writes Tell All??? Not only would it garner immediate interest (fear) from your children, but because people are voyeurs by nature, it would grab the attention of readers, at least enough for them to pick it up off the shelf (old school bookstore or virtual) and give it a look-see.

Seizing a reader’s attention via a snappy title is a first HUGE step for author-kind. With a great title you’ve won the first battle, but there are so many more battles to come. Because next you must have written a great first line (hook) and follow that up with a good premise, plot, and great storytelling.

It’s true, readers judge books by their covers, paying particular attention to the title. Your book title can make or break the success of your book.

There’s a good article on this topic at Authority Pub. Here’s an excerpt I borrowed to make my point. ….According to research conducted by author, blogger, and speaker Michael Hyatt, consumers check out a book in the following order:

Title
Cover
Back cover
Flaps
Table of contents
First few paragraphs of the book’s content
Price…

Note that NOWHERE DOES IT SAY AUTHOR’S NAME.

So, in addition to scaring your children, what should a title do? If you take a peek at the above referenced site you’ll see some good examples of titles, both fiction and non. In addition, a title should intrigue, peek interest, shock, make a reader wonder What? Who? Why? offer help, or offer escape.  There’s a plethora of opinions on what a title should do and how to do it. So do your research and carefully decide what works for your book.

Then after you have your title you can see if you’re on the mark.

LULU has created a free tool that will grade your title based on its probability to be successful. To create it, Lulu and their team of statisticians deliberated over a list of the best-selling titles from 1955 to 2004 and eventually created a super cool tool, the Lulu TitleScorer. Put your title in and see how it scores. I wish I’d of had this when my first novel came out, the title, Return to Sender only scored a 22% probability of success. UGH!

Also, here is a GREAT article on using power words and creating attention grabbing titles. Though the article focusing primarily on non-fiction, it’s all good info to keep in mind when crafting a title that will jump off the shelves.  https://www.tckpublishing.com/how-to-write-book-titles-that-sell/

A good title tells what the book is about. A great title tells what the end destination is. A truly superb title is one that tells the end destination and also appeals to core human desires.”

— Buck Flogging at Archangel Ink

 

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My Author Interview with Edmonds Community College

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Cool, my #Author / #writing instructor #interview w/@EdmondsCC is out, have a looksee…

“Vision Boards to Enhance Your Writing AND Social Media Presence,” Mindy Halleck, June 21st, 2017 from Visual Media Services, EdCC on Vimeo.

What is an author platform and where do you get one?

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Author platform can be challenging to explain, partly because definitions can vary. But by far the simplest description is: your capacity to sell books because of who you are or who you can reach.

What activities build author platform?

Platform building requires consistent, continuing effort over the course of a writer’s career. It also means making enhancements in extending your network, on-line and in person. It’s about making waves that entice other people to you—not about pleading with others to pay attention.

The following list is not extensive, but helps give you an idea of how to cultivate a platform.

Publish or distribute quality work in outlets you want to be associated with and that your target audience reads.

Create a portfolio of work on your own platform—e.g., blog, e-mail newsletter, social network, podcast, video, digital downloads, etc—that gathers quality followers or a community of people who are interested in what you have to say. Have patience because this takes time.

Decide which Social Media Platform is best for you, use it and be consistent, relevant and entertaining. And remember, social media alone does NOT create platform unless you’re a Kardashian, and even they get out and do public appearances.

Speak at and or attend events where you meet new people and extend your network of like-minded peers and audience members.

Connect with influencers* and or peers on a new project and or discover creative ways to extend your visibility. *An influencers is a person or group possessing the ability to influence the behavior or opinions of others, via large SM following, podcast audience, etc.

Discover personalized ways to engage with and develop your target audience, whether through content, events, online marketing/promotion, etc.

Platform building is unique to each author

Platform building is a gradual process that must be organic and will be different for every author. There is no checklist you can use to develop a platform, because it will always be governed by:

Your distinct story and or message – Your unique strengths and abilities – Your target readership

I will be teaching a workshop July 15th at Edmonds Community College wherein part of the day will be spent on social media. If you’re local, join us here

If you liked this, please TWEET it out for heaven’s sake! 

Staying Grounded in Basic Storytelling Principles

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This last year I’ve really gone ‘dark’ as they say, which means I’ve been very quiet (and unproductive) on all fronts. It’s been a good break, a needed break so I could recharge and take care of myself, but now it’s time to get back to work.

When I’m struggling with a section in my WIP (work in progress for you non-industry folks), or trying to re-wrap my mind around my story I return to basic tools for guides out of that self-imposed darkness.

Larry Brooks, who if you don’t know him yet, you should – who writes writerly-how-to books is one of the gurus (via his books and blog at Storyfix.com) that I return to over and over again. Not because I’m that stupid (well, not always) but because stories, characters, plots, themes and all the magic elixirs that make up a story world, are fluid, changing, often morphing into something completely different from what I thought I started out to write. So back to the basics I go. If I don’t go back to those grounding basics of storytelling; premise, concept, plot, theme and so on, then I get lost in the words. SO MANY WORDS! And when I get lost in the words it takes FOREVER to finish a project, be it novel, short story or essay.

Oh, and when I said my story could ‘often morph into something completely different’ I meant it. I recently had a conversation with Hollywood script guru, Michael Hague (author of too many books to mention here) who asked me which aspect of my story fascinated me the most, because, he said, that’s where your passion lies and that’s what you should follow. My answer shocked the baggeebies out of me. So, with that answer, which I wont’ share here…maybe later in another post – changed my entire story. After the initial shock, I was happy our conversation happened when I was only 150 pages in.

When a local writer friend, Pam Carter (Writer, Producer and Playwright) asked me about premise,

            From Larry Brooks Workshop materials

I realized during our conversation about hers that I actually needed to re-consider my original premise now that the story had changed so dramatically, and so revisited all my information on premise and concept. Again, back to Larry Brooks

 

who teaches this stuff like hell fire and damnation from a preacher ablaze with the truth. If you’ve seen him live you know exactly what I’m talking about.

So while I press through; re-entering my story world, getting back into a writing groove, editing, re-outlining and all the other blue-collar work a writer does to create a story-world and narrative that will be of interest to readers, I wonder, what tools do other writers return to time after time, and why? Okay, back to work.

Writing, Decorating Scotch & Christmas Volunteering

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Okay, it’s busy around my house in the weeks approaching Christmas, so little time for writing. However, I have completed the first chapters of my next novel, Garden of Lies, and am very happy with it. I had written the first draft, then read it and realized it needed to be written in third person as opposed to the first person I had written in. SO, the big undertaking of rewriting in third is nearly complete. Then I can move on to the the rest of the story. It’s a lot of work so I’m thrilled I realized this when not yet 100 pages in. WHEW!

Aside from that there’s the decorating, the shopping, the baking, the cleaning, the shopping, the wrapping, the 20151212_161550_resized
shopping and the stuffing of stockings. Oh, and then more shopping. What! You don’t decorate your scotch?

And then I volunteer, as I have for nearly 20 years, as an artist for the Salvation Army Toy-n-Joy event. It’s a LONG day of drawing, painting and decorating the stadium before our ‘guests’ arrive to select toys for their children — children who otherwise would likely not have a gift for Christmas. Every year this work makes me feel part of something bigger than myself.  Many years ago before my life was so blessed, I was a mom who could barely afford Christmas for my child, it’s a painful, shame-filled and soul sucking experience. That’s why I so love being a little part of making a child smile at Christmas and helping out another mother who otherwise may feel helpless.

Lend a hand this year, lift a neighbor up, give to the food bank or toy event in your community, visit an elder care home and give the gift of your time, pack food gift baskets for your church or give a teacher some special school supplies to surprise her kids with – whatever kind of opportunity aligns with your beliefs, the point is that there are so many ways to give. Tis the season. Blessings, Mindy