It’s been a windy and rainy day here in the Pacific Northwest, so that must mean it’s nearly Thanksgiving.
An appropriate tune:
I hope each and every one of you have a wonderful holiday no matter where you are or who you’re with. Enjoy some turkey, tofurkey or that second piece of pumpkin pie, I won’t tell.
Some days, I don’t want to write.
I know I should try to, that’s part of the reason I join anthologies like Death by Chocolate or writing challenges like ROW80, to have people hold me accountable, to get my butt in the chair day after day and put some words down.
But, some days, I’m just not in the mood. On those occasions, here’s what I do to get myself motivated or to, at the very least, keep my head in the game.
1. Music – Dissent, the 5th Day of Sacrifice story, is stuck at about 1,200 words right now. I haven’t worked on it in weeks because I’ve been writing my anthology story and because I don’t know what I want to happen next. This is a story I need to have out by the first of the year, so yesterday in order to get my brain thinking about it, I listened to my DoS playlist in the car while I was driving everyone to work and school. It’s amazing how music can get you in the right frame of mind when you associate it with writing a similar story or a previous story in this case. I had Halo and Bleeding Love on repeat all day. Just thinking about my characters in a video montage sort of way (does anyone else do that or am I a weirdo?) I jump started my enthusiasm for the series and came up with ideas for the end of the scene I’ve been stalled on.
2. Sexy New Ideas notebook – Again, I may be a weirdo, but I never have more new ideas for other stories than when I’m trying to complete the one I’m supposed to be focused on. I combat this by keeping an Idea Notebook. If I can get the idea down on paper, my mind can let it go. It’s like a promise to myself that I will come back to it later. Of course, there are always more ideas than there is time to write them, but I’ve also found that sometimes the ideas can be combined together – genre mixing at its finest!
3. More than one project – I’ve tried only working on one story at a time. It’s not my style. I find that if I have multiple projects to work on – I usually have 3-4 going at once – and can add a new paragraph to one that is not my main focus, that it does two things: Like with the SNI’s I can get nagging conversations, scenes and descriptions out of my head and it gives me a confidence boost. Nothing makes me feel better about myself than writing does, so it stands to reason that if I’m feeling crappy and distracted with my main WIP, getting some words down on something else I’m working on makes me feel like I’ve done something, made some progress in my own little world.
4. Read/watch TV – Sometimes when I’m supposed to be writing, doing either of these things can feel decadent and like I’m wasting time. Really, though, they can help – if you stay on genre. I have a particularly hard time writing action/fight scenes – with the Zellie books, I often turned to reading the Vampire Academy books and to watching teen shows like Roswell, The Nine Lives of Chloe King and Kyle XY – books and TV shows that are aimed at the same audience as the Zellie books are and contain both a paranormal romance aspect and a lot of action. With the DoS stories, I can’t tell you how much Supernatural and Nikita have helped me come up with ideas for both characters and new ways to write fights. So, yes, I’m being entertained and slacking off a bit, but I’m also consciously studying the ways other writers do what I’m trying to do.
What sort of things do you do to get in the mood to write?
Today we’ve got a great new post from Cidney Swanson, our newest PacNWYA author!
Take it away, Cidney!!
I recently had the privilege of joining Women’s Night Out, a book club that meets monthly in Eugene, Oregon. The group had chosen my novel RIPPLER for their October read. Of course I felt honored and happy to know I’d be gaining over a dozen new readers! I’d like to share a few of the things I learned from this experience as well as some ideas I have for making myself available to other groups.
After I recovered from the initial surprise that a group of moms would be interested in choosing my book, I had a few things I needed to do. Because my book wasn’t being carried locally, I had to make sure the book group leader could easily communicate where to buy a copy. In this day and age, you are likely to find a mix of those who want paper copies and those who prefer an e-version, so make sure you send links for all of these possibilities.
Next, I discovered the group wanted a set of discussion questions. And they wanted them ahead of time. This is something you want to spend some time on, if you’re interested in book groups. I found the idea incredibly intimidating, even though I’ve taught college-level courses and had to come up with discuss-able questions for books I’d assigned. But this was my book. How the heck was I supposed to know what to ask? I found myself literally too close to be able to do this without some outside help.
Fortunately, I found some help. You know those books on your shelf right now—the ones with “discussion questions included” stamped across the cover? I searched through a few and discovered the inspiration for a very long list of possible discussion questions. Looking at the questions posed for someone else’s book gave me the distance I needed from my own book.
Alternatively, you could simply ask questions of the group that you really wonder about as the author. That is, instead of asking discussion questions, you could ask feedback-oriented questions. Which leads me to: the FAN factor.
Doing a book group is a great way to acquire a set of fans!
One of the things that happened spontaneously at the actual meeting was that the readers wanted to know if I had any questions for them. (I.e., feedback questions) I wish I had thought of these ahead of time as I really couldn’t think on my feet with fifteen faces turned my way! So do spend a little time thinking here as well.
Here are some things I did not do this time (probably as a result of deer-in-the-headlights syndrome) that I will definitely do next time.
1) Offer to sign books. (Duh, I know!)
2) Pass around a sign-up sheet to add emails to my New Releases Email List.
3) Offer a discount-code for the next-in-series.
4) Encourage guests to post reviews on merchant sites. (Amazon, etc.)
5) Offer to do interviews, giveaways, or guest posting for any of the guests who have book blogs.
6) Offer to return and/or ask the guests to let their moms, friends, and so on in other book groups know I’m available for future engagements.
Wow, that list is embarrassingly long. Hopefully it will help you to be better prepared than I was!
Lastly, I want to leave you with a few suggestions for finding book groups.
- First start with people you already know. Who do you see on regular basis that you know participates in a book group? Are you a member of a group who might be willing to let you “try out” your book as a book-of-the-month pick? Do you have kids who participate in a book club?
- If you don’t have any of these resources, you’ll need to search farther a-field.
Check library bulletin boards for book groups that you might approach by
email. Create a landing page they can visit that describes what you have
to offer to a book group. See my page here.
- If you have a FAQ section on your website, be sure to include “Do you have
discussion questions for your book?” as a FAQ, and then provide a list.
This lets potential book groups know you are prepared for them!
- Using whatever social media you already use and enjoy, put the word out that you are available. Again, direct people who read your tweets, facebook page posts, and so on to visit your landing page to learn more about hosting you
(and your book) at their next event.
- If you are doing an event like a book-signing or school presentation or if you
have a table at a conference, be sure to have a flyer that indicates you
are available for book groups.
- And what about out-of-town engagements? Where do you regularly travel? Does your mom or mother-in-law belong to a book group? Let them know you’d be honored to visit them the next time you’re in town.
Speaking for myself, I’m hooked and I can’t wait to visit another book club! There’s simply no better feeling than being in a room full of people who’ve read your book. (At my event, there were several who knew parts of it better than I did!)
Best Wishes to you, and please let me know about your ideas and successes!