Writing Distractions

Picture courtesy of Salesforce.com

I don’t know about you, but I’m not always completely focused on writing, even after deciding, I would write, (or in my case, sit on the computer and type in my handwritten stories).

I find myself distracted too many times to count, and I don’t like that. So I tried to ‘eliminate’ the distractions. It wasn’t easy though. I had to identify the distractions first. When it comes to that, it’s never really clear what a ‘distraction’ actually is.

According to Random Penguin House, who published an article about exactly the very same subject, (click HERE to read it), social media is the main problem that cause distraction.

  1. Identify the distraction
  2. Take a social media hiatus
  3. Turn off WiFi and notifications
  4. Focus on one task at the time
  5. Find positive distraction (Music, ‘White Noise’, Meditation, Excercise)

Okay, and not okay… In my opinion, the article isn’t bad – but mainly it describes exactly TWO distractions, and it doesn’t find a perfect solution… Let’s have a closer look.

I agree with number 1. Identify the distraction. Very often, in many writer’s lives, it’s social media. I understand, you can take a hiatus from social media, the article even tells you how to do that. (which I think, is hilarious) But then, at one point, you are a writer, you want to know what’s going on around your books. Deleting social media apps from the computer, phone or tablet isn’t recommendable. Yes, you can upload them again, but the passwords, and the settings has all gone and it will take you a couple hours to get all that going. Turning off WiFi is absolutely sufficient, since you won’t get any notifications in that case. At that point, we’re already at number 3, and we ‘eliminated’ the social media distraction.

Number four is okay, focus on one task at the time. In our case: it’s writing. So… if you have social media ‘eliminated’ there’s the writing left, is that really a question? Your task, at that moment is writing. Well, yes, focus on that. That’s ‘officially’ number two then.

And then, I had to laugh loudly. Find ‘positive’ distraction’? Come on! Music, which can be a distraction, if you have to ‘find it’ first… which means, you’re distracting yourself for several hours to find the perfect music before you start writing? Being a writer, if you love writing with music in the background, you will most likely already have the perfect music on the computer. Fine – then, start!

Do I have to ‘explain’ the meditation or exercise? Please! If you have to find another distraction to eliminate distractions, I doubt, it’s very helpful for your writing! Eliminate the social media, yes, that way it will be easier to exercise and mediate, instead of what you planned in the first place, writing!

Also, what the article doesn’t mention: writers do have a life! Mentioned in this article is distraction by ‘computer’… but it not even once mentions pets, kids or partners. – And believe me, they all have their spot in your life and can be a huge distraction!

In my opinion, the list should be different:

  1. Pause social media by turning off WiFi for a while
  2. Tell your family, you will write and you don’t want to be disturbed (unless there’s a fire or blood involved)
  3. Feed your pets ahead (go for a walk with the dog and clean the litter box)
  4. Focus on one task. If you want to write your book, do exactly that, if you want to write a blog post, do that!
  5. Decide on the music (or calming CD) before, turn it on ‘repeat’ and don’t bother changing it.

I would say, that’s a good list, and I do follow this one. (Mostly… it took me two days to write that blog post, because my cat wanted to be fed, I was hungry, the favorite man in my life called me, and I had a headache, I needed to go grocery shopping… and on FB….)

You get the point.

What is it that distracts you, and what are you doing about it? Please, let us know, we’d like to hear about your experiences!

How To Start Your Own Author Newsletter – Re-blog

(This blog post was published the first time September 9, 2015 here on ‘Writer’s Treasure Chest’.)

When I started building my network on social media and created “Writer’s Treasure Chest” I was not prepared for this much more to come. There are many more challenges to face. One of these challenges is to create my own Author Newsletter.

I started research on writer’s newsletters.

There are as many hints, tips and tricks as newsletter owners, and I’m desperate to be as well informed as possible before giving it a try. I’d like my first newsletter to be a success, not some amateurish “good luck” try.

Tips & Tricks

One of the first blog posts about newsletters I read had been written July 5, 2013 by Steena Holmes. She provides a list of what a newsletter can be used for. Mrs. Holmes hands out warnings on what not do with newsletters. She as well dedicates an entire paragraph on and how to get people to sign up. I like her writing style very much and I recommend this blog post to every writer who’s just starting. Her entire blog post can be found here: https://writersinthestorm.wordpress.com/2013/07/05/the-how-and-why-of-author-newsletters/

Choose your Newsletter Provider

Steena Holmes mentioned one particular Newsletter and campaign provider: “Mail Chimp”. I did research on several providers and Mail Chimp seems user friendly and offers a variety of designs. I even found an easy to read and helpful “step-by-step” manual. It can be found here: http://www.authorsatlas.com/blog/author-newsletter-101. This valuable tool provides tricks and screen shots to guide me through the process.

Decide on a professional design

After reading these posts and articles I tried to imagine how to stay true to my brand and still deliver a professional looking and interesting newsletter for my future readers. The answer I found on wikiHow: http://www.wikihow.com/Write-a-Good-Newsletter. They even offer sample newsletters there which I found attractive. But the one thing impressing me most on wikiHow was their first paragraph. “Although images and layout are important, the written content is the biggest factor in whether your newsletter is successful. However, writing a newsletter requires more than just a good grasp of proper English grammar and extensive vocabulary. You need to be interesting, relevant, and easy to be read. Here are some simple steps you can take to write a good newsletter.”

The four types of Author’s Newsletters

Having a nice design in mind does not make a newsletter yet and found a blog post, written by Cheryl Reif. She offers four different Author’s Newsletters:

  • Chat & Conversation
  • News &Updates
  • Tools & Resources
  • Recycled Content

I need to decide now what type of newsletter mine should become. Cheryl Reif’s blog post can be found here http://www.cherylreif.com/2015/06/15/4-types-of-author-newsletter-how-to-pick-the-best-for-you/

What did I learn?

I will try to keep it short. I know, I provided a few links to read and all I do now is a quick bullet list:

  • Keep the feature article short
  • Add extra valuable information for your readers
  • Tell your readers what you will write about to keep them interested
  • Create a list of upcoming events (if you have any)
  • Don’t play “hard to get” – give full contact information
  • Combine great content with a professional looking layout
  • Keep your readers entertained with providing a quote.
  • Send out your electronic newsletter every 30 days
  • Watch your subscriber’s list grow
  • The next step for me now will be to start on my first newsletter. In case I’ve made you curious how it will turn out:
Please, click the icon to subscribe.
Please, click the icon to subscribe.

I’d be delighted to welcome you as my reader. Thank you!

Revamping Your Blog

Today I was looking for a link I knew I had shared on ‘Writer’s Treasure Chest’ a while ago. It took me almost twenty minutes, but I finally found it – and then I faced an unwelcome surprise… the link was ‘blind’, which means, it went nowhere…

I realized, the blog post itself was about five years old. Part of ‘Writer’s Treasure Chest’ are promotional posts, connected to other authors, sharing posts that I re-blogged, or interesting articles that I found relevant for writing… there are many more reasons, why we connect our blogs to other bloggers and posts, and each one of them is important.

Longevity is important for every single blog, no matter what the basic subject is about. The longer you have your blog, the better. You develop a particular readership, and you would like to provide them with the reliable, long-lasting post content. Now, with our habit of re-blogging, sharing, and linking other blogger’s content to our blog, we’re at a risk to connect with blogs or posts other bloggers are deleting at one point. Maybe they’re re-vamping their blogs, or decide to delete the entire blog. Maybe something else happens, we don’t know. But it makes it clear that with the connection to other blog posts and blogs, we are not only facilitating traffic between blogs, we are also encouraging the risk of maintaining our own blog in a more regular and more careful way.

According to Eb Gargano, an avid and experienced blogger, with her blog ProductiveBlogging.com we bloggers should take good care of our blog, and ‘revamp’ it occasionally.

Eb says, we don’t have to delete our old blog posts, unless, they had become useless. (Like in my case, the one with the ‘blind’ link.) But we definitely should comb through our blog and update and re-write the one or other post, set up new pictures, add some creativity and design, and re-post them. This is not only a recommendation, it’s advice. Eb Gargano says,  “”If you have a lot of old, out of date, irrelevant, and/or poor-quality blog posts, this will have a negative effect on your SEO.” (For the ones who don’t know what SEO is: “Search Engine Optimization”, you will find a link to another one of Eb Gargano’s posts).

Reviving, re-writing, and re-vamping your older blog posts, and even re-posting them again, can boost your SEO – and your reader’s and visitor’s experience. Keep your blog as accurate, reliable, modern, and current as possible. Delete old and outdated posts and slim your blog down when necessary. You don’t need posts with old links that lead to an error page. Show your readership and followers, that you’re taking care of your blog, and that it’s important to you!

Fosterwebmarketing.com says, “Deleting irrelevant, unviewed content may be painstaking, but it’s pretty much guaranteed to boost your search engine rankings and improve user experience. Just like all white hat, ethical SEO techniques, there is no silver bullet to ridding your site of old content.”

That means, to us writers and author-bloggers: a blog is not a book – once written, preserved for eternity! It means a blog is constant work, permanent revision, renovation, updates, maintaining, and revamping. Having a blog means, spending time with it and on it, precious time that we don’t have, and that is taken from us from writing. I’m glad, to be honest, I only have one blog to take care of… I can barely imagine how the ones with two or more blogs are groaning now: “Oh, noooooooo!”

Of course, I’m not going to force anyone to do anything on their blog. This is a recommendation, or ‘good advice from good ol’e A.J. if you will.

But you will have to excuse me now, I have to work on ‘Writer’s Treasure Chest’ updating. Hopefully, see you soon!

Part of the picture is courtesy of Google.com

As The French Say: “C’est le ton qui fait la musique.” – A Book Review By A Writer

Picture courtesy of Freerangestock.com

Many writers have a myriad of other writers and authors in their network. Since we all know how important book reviews are for us authors, most of us are willing to help out and write a review for our fellow authors. If not, we should.

At this moment I won’t repeat how and why book reviews are essential to our work, I published plenty of blog posts on ‘Writer’s Treasure Chest’ about that subject, many of them written by other bloggers and writers and shared here.

Also, I won’t add any more tips and tricks on how to write a review, because, ditto…

But what, if we agreed to help and find ourselves in the horrible situation of having to review a book that’s not what we expected, neither in character development, character voice, description clarity, or plot arc? What if we just cannot find the thread that leads us through the story, and we have the feeling that this particular writer suffers from a lack of skill, ability, and talent to actually write a book?

And here, I admit, I feel torn apart… I want to be honest, I don’t want to discourage a fellow author, in particular a young, upcoming author who’s just starting out… But at the same time, there’s that nasty little thought that tries to talk me into protecting the world from a really bad book…

Picture courtesy of: https://stock.adobe.com/

So, what should we do in such a case? And here, each one of us might decide differently. There are, of course, different possibilities. I’ve seen them all.

  1. I write and publish an honest review, clearly stating that the book is not good
  2. I don’t publish that review, but send it to the author personally and tell them, the book is crap
  3. I contact the author and let them know that I read the book and ask if they’re willing to ‘listen’ to some advice
  4. I want to help and recommend the author to remove the book from the market for a while and work on it before re-publishing
  5. Tell the writer that it might be a good idea to find another occupation, maybe as a gardener, at least they’d do something useful

I admit I wish I had never made that horrible experience or stood in front of that decision. But unfortunately, it happened. What did I do?

Very simple: I tried a mix of numbers three and four.

Now, we are talking about three different young authors and three different reactions.

Author A: “How DARE you judge my book like that. My Mum said it’s a great story, and my sister said the same thing. That’s why it’s published, and they both helped me with the editing and stuff.” (You must be a writer, man… I like the ‘and stuff’ part best). Basically, I dare to judge your book ‘like that’ because you asked me to. If you ask for an honest review, you will have to brace yourself for the possibility that you will get a very honest review, and it cannot always be good. If you only want a good review, ask your Mum and your sister. Being a writer, and a published author is not always a ride on a pink rainbow unicorn. It’s hard work, and you give many people the chance to libel your name. Get a very thick skin, that’s the only way to protect you from being harmed. Not everybody is as nice as to tell you in private that your work needs a bit of polishing.

Author B: “Thank you very much for telling me. I’d like to hear what you recommend, please! I really appreciate it. I don’t get much support from anyone, and I feel I can do with some help.” (Needless to say, I’m still in contact with that author, and the story has massively improved. I will promote the book here on ‘Writer’s Treasure Chest’, once it’s ready.)

Author C: “I hate you! You hurt me so much! I will make sure that nobody will ever take you seriously as an author. You will pay. for what you said..” (In that case I would really have liked to recommend a good shrink)

Now, in each one of these cases, I’m not talking about a published book review on my side. I contacted each one of these authors and told them, that I’d like to talk about that book, carefully explaining, why I thought, at this moment a review wouldn’t be the best idea. Also, in each case, I started by mentioning the good things I found. (Even though there weren’t many, I tried my best). Only then I listed the things that should improve.

There’s always more than one way to say something. And right here the title of this blog post kicks in. As the French say: “It’s the tone that makes the music.”, or in French: “C’est le ton qui fait la musique.”

Let’s say, you’re at a party, and the host serves an adventurous combination of manchego cheese, pickles, pineapple, and maraschino cherries on the avocado salad. You can either say, you’re allergic to avocado (And hope, she doesn’t remember you ate her guacamole last time you were there) or, you can ask her, if she’s pregnant, because, nobody in their right mind would eat something like that without vomiting big time. I’m known to be quite straight out, but even I wouldn’t eat that salad, and faking an allergy at that moment sounds just perfect.

Or, you’re taking your two besties out for dinner to celebrate… and when you arrive at the second one’s house, she shows up in a white mini-dress that has seen better days, and she’s completely oblivious that she grew out of it, most likely, about twenty-five years ago, you have two choices. Tell her, that she forgot to get dressed in something age-and weight-appropriate, or ask her if she forgot to get dressed – period.

In our case, things are similar. I had two possibilities: publish a book review that tells everybody the plot is crap, the characters are lame, and the book is poorly written, by a completely talent-free individual… or, I did what I did and try to help these authors by telling them something good I found to avoid killing their buzz, and then carefully showing them different blog posts and articles that help them to improve their story plot, their character voices and -development.

It’s all in the way we say things… how we make and keep friends, how we make sure we don’t hurt people, and how we remember, that our strongest talent and skill are words. That saying ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’ is true. Words can injure and kill, as horribly as a blade can. In doubt, just remember one more thing: “Talk to others the way you want to be talked to.”

How would you handle a situation like that? And do you remember it’s the tone that makes the music? Let us read your comment, please.

Picture courtesy of Amazon.com

The Best Part Of Telling A Story – Part II

April 14, 2022 I published the first part of this blog post series, about the best part of telling a story. There are so many good parts, to me, each holds its own appeal. Let’s have a look at them again:

1. Drafting the plot

2. Finding a motive

3. Creating the protagonist and antagonist

4. Finding the perfect location

5. Thinking of plot twists

6. Create side characters

[7. Depending on the story, maybe even create a world]


Last time I ‘drafted the plot’, today I’m trying to find a motive.

I’m not sure, should I tell you, to me that’s more difficult or easier, than drafting the plot, since technically you can’t have one without the other.

Let’s find an example: you’re reading a crime story; the killer strangles a woman, when the police identifies and confronts him, he jumps off a bridge and you’ll never know why he did it. Wouldn’t you be disappointed? I know I would be.

In the case of a crime story, the motive of the killer is basically what drives the book. Why does the murderer what he does?

When we look at the ‘The Council of Twelve’ series, I have to find the motive for the actions of ‘both sides’, Good and Evil. Clearly expressed: Why does the Evil side what they do, how does the Good side react, and what is the outcome? We got the ‘why’, and that results in the ‘how’ – hence, the motive and the plot, which belong together.

The motive is the ‘why’ and with that in mind, we want to ask ‘how’, which leads us to the plot. One leads to the other, and we’re already in ‘the middle’ of story-telling.

What would you say to a criminal story without a motive, or a story without recognizable reason? Wouldn’t it just be empty? What do you think? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Blogging vacation – And Waiting

Picture courtesy of Google.com

As you might have realized, I took a week off from blogging. I’m still in transition to a new place, and a new life situation…

I have been busy with so many things, including trying to adjust to my new situation, working on book five some more, but when it comes to that, I’m in a waiting position right now.

1. My copyright lawyer is supposed to file it, I’m waiting for his information on that

2. The editor is looking over my book Blurb, I’m waiting for him to get that done and get back to me

3. My cover designer is desperately waiting for the blurb to finalize the cover

4. And I’m waiting for an information (good news) I’ve been waiting for since Tuesday night… The wait is killing me, and the ones who know me, are probably laughing now. Patience and I aren’t on best terms. I hate it to wait, even more since I am in a hurry.

What does that mean now? That I’m waiting for everything, and it seems I’m not progressing in any direction, which drives me up the walls. I’m unhappy if I’m stuck, no matter, if it’s within a book, or in real life. I wish, things would go on…

What do you wish for? What is the thorn in your flesh? Let us know in the comments.

Unicorn – Written By Juliette Kings

James saw the woman across the room and imagined her in another time. In that time she wore a dress with a bustle, corseted up, in brilliant peacock colors, her hair up with a diamond comb.

Now she stood in straight legged jeans, black sandals, and a white button down shirt. Her brown hair wasn’t up, but down around her shoulders.

She turned towards James and mouthed out the words, “come closer.”

James was feeling lucky. The jeans and button down shirt would come off a lot quicker than layers of a bustle dress and a tightly laced corset. Of course, she’d want him. Of course, she’d have him. How could she resist?

Up close she was even more intriguing than she had been from a distance. Freckles scattered across her face. Out of nowhere she pulled out a pair of blue framed glasses and looked at him with bright hazel eyes. She really looked as if she was looking at an ancient artifact or a perplexing work of art.

“I’m James,” he said.

“I’m Isolde,” she told him. “So, what is your pickup line tonight?”

“Before we get to that, I know you’re a Vampire.”

“Just like you.”

“Maybe.”

“What are you doing here?”

“It’s a party. I knew the place would be full of nice warm people. After the past two years it is good to finally get out and be somewhere with plenty of donors.”

“Is that what you call them?”

CONTINUE READING HERE

‘Writer’s Treasure Chest’ Celebrates 100K Views!

It happened… it really did! With great pride I can announce that my blog, ‘Writer’s Treasure Chest’ has passed 100,000 views! This is so exciting.

But, of course I cannot let this celebration pass without telling you all how grateful I am! When I started that blog I didn’t know exactly what to expect. But you all, loyal readers, friends, regular visitors – and the ones finding it by accident… you all made this blogging adventure a wonderful one for me!

Picture courtesy of Google.com

How To Set Up A Smashword Widget On Your Blog

I was asked lately how to set up a Smashword Widget on your WordPress blog. It’s not very hard to do that. Basically, your computer does most of the work for you. Just let it happen.

Let’s start with creating the ‘Smashwords’ ‘button that you see here on the right side.

Go to Smashwords, open your account, your dashboard, and then click the book you would like to create the ‘button’ of. This example will be the first book in my ‘The Council Of Twelve’ series, ‘Soul Taker.’


The page opens, and on the right side, you will find ‘Create Widget’. Click it.

You will see the ‘button’ as it will look like. Below you can see the entire HTML code that you need to enter into the widget. On the left side, you can adjust the size, font, Background, Button color, Ribbon text, Ribbon Color (There is a possibility to remove the ribbon). Play around a bit. The HTML code will be automatically adjusted.)

As an extra possibility: You can make it easy: Play around as much as you want, you will see every change in the ‘button’ when you make the changes. Instead of copying the HTML code to paste it into the widget, you can also just take a screenshot from the ‘button.’


Now, let’s go over to our WordPress Dashboard and pick ‘Appearance’.


As soon as you chose Appearance, now, pick ‘Widgets.’


The Widgets on my blog ‘Writer’s Treasure Chest’ are on the Sidebar, that’s what I’m going to click:


Now, click the ‘+’ to add a new Widget. It will appear BELOW all other existing Widgets, you will have to scroll down.


Now, you can search for the widget you are looking for, in this case, ‘Custom HTML’ – OR, if you picked the ‘extra possibility,’ you can search for ‘image.’




You can now either paste the HTML code from the ‘Smashwords’ site or upload the screenshot you took from the Smashwords button.


Now you can enter a Widget title, caption, and, if you pasted the screenshot, you could hyperlink it to the Smashwords site, where your readers can buy the book.


9999


At the very end, if you have adjusted and set up your new Widget the way you want it, you can move it. I told you earlier, it will be at the very bottom of your already existing widgets. With the arrow, you can move it up or down.


Good Luck with your new Smashwords Widget. Have fun!

Writer’s Treasure Chest Celebration

Today my week started with a wonderful surprise. Writer’s Treasure Chest got 100,000 views!

I am so very honored and grateful to all of you! Thank you so very much to everyone who ever visited ‘Writer’s Treasure Chest’, accidentally surfed on the page, is a follower and regular reader, friend and family member.

You all make blogging a special fun adventure!

Picture courtesy of Google.com