Unaccustomed as I am…. – Guest Post By Merlin Fraser

Recently on social media, I’ve been shouted at, again, for being too serious…  ME ?

After the usual accusations of being the devil or anti-Christ I was told to Lighten Up and get a Life !!! That and to stop picking on the poor Christians who apparently are still traumatised, something to with Romans and Lions apparently.

Of course, I suppose they’re right, I can’t remember when last I did a light hearted Blog so perhaps now is as good a time as any to relate my efforts and experiences as a Public Speaker.

As writers, we all assume that one day we will be famous and rub shoulders with the social elite, to be admired by our peers and invited to all the best parties but like everything else in life you have to start at the bottom and work your way up… Right ?

We can’t all know Beyoncé or Simon Cowell for Heaven’s Sake !

Anyway, any event organisers that know their salt and expect to get the unwashed hordes to beat a path to their function know they need a top Name to Tweet about or plaster all over their Facebook Page.

They also know that anybody who is anybody is on what is known as the ‘A List.’ These are the celebrities that most people want to sleep with or just to take a ‘Selfie’ inches away from their hero, who has that ‘They don’t Pay me Enough to do This’ look in their eyes… but they manage a toothy grimace anyway.

Therefore, if you have an important event up and coming the greater the celebrity you get to attend then the better the publicity you can attract and the number of punters who will hand over the readies to get up close and personal with the celebrity.  This is of course irrespective of whatever you are promoting or trying to sell.

However, this takes money and bags of it, sure you can dumb down a bit and go for a ‘B Lister’ but you’re taking a huge PR gamble here. Any lower than‘B’and you’re really on shaky ground, I mean by the time you get down to the ‘C’s’ then you are highly likely to get a ‘Has been a Neverwas or a Neverwillbe’. You know the type, they’re the ones who will usually turn up for free to the opening of an envelope or a Kitchen Drawer !

So you can imagine my surprise to receive an invitation to speak.  What list am I on for Pity’s sake… Are there even enough letters in the alphabet I hear you ask?

‘Dear Mr. Fraser’, (Good start, at least they spelt my name right that and I saw no immediate demand for payment). It continued :

‘As a more or less famous local author would you consider coming to St. Catherine’s Day Centre for the Terminally Incontinent and Permanently Bewildered next Wednesday and give us a short talk on the subject of your local history book ?

We apologise for the extremely short notice but the woman who comes to cut their toenails is off sick and cannot make it that day.  Everyone so looks forward to her visits and we desperately need someone to step in and help avoid disappointing the inmates.

If you can come after their lunchtime nap you can entertain them before afternoon tea, Wednesday’s is Walnut cake supplied by the local Women’s Institute although we have asked them not to put walnuts in the cake because so many of our guests wear dentures, so it will probably be jam sponge’.

Of course, I could have said No!  Local celebrities such as myself… Busy Schedules you Know.  Meetings with Agents… Need much more Notice Etc. Etc. Etc…. But there again one never wants to disappoint ones public does one ?

Plus with such a warm invitation how could I turn it down.  That and the promise of cake …I mean how often does one get offered such reward in lieu of actual money ?

Anyway I, digress, as the appointed hour approached I made my way to St. Catherine’s,  having to wait for the ambulance, blue lights flashing to exit the  parking area was not a particularly good omen but we Fraser’s are made of sterner stuff…so in I marched.

I was shown into a room that had the sign DAY ROOM above the door. I must admit that it seemed a superfluous title since the whole place was a Day Centre… but Hey ! What do I know ?  

More confusion was to followed as the nurse who guide my path through the maze of Zimmer frames, wheelchairs and trolleys carrying oxygen bottles, announced that it was also the games room and TV lounge so I might have to speak up a bit to my audience.

“Are they hard of hearing ”?   I asked and immediately thought what a bloody stupid thing to say given the average age of my impending audience.

“No,” she replied, “but you will have to compete with the John Wayne War movie on the TV they don’t want it switched off”.

“They not interested in local history then ”?

“That lot over there ?  They were probably there and helped make it”! She smiled sweetly, like Day Care Nurses do, she wished me luck and disappeared.

So there I was alone, abandoned by the staff who in all probability had buggered off to put their feet up for half an hour while I held the fort.

I looked at them and they looked back…Tough Crowd, I thought. It’s times like this I wish I had a song and dance routine or could do magic tricks like making dumb author’s disappear in a puff of smoke !

Too late to back out now, here I was, I had an audience of ten hearty souls, well eight anyway, two had already nodded off, or at least I hope they were asleep, difficult to tell in places like that especially if you are not packing a mirror.

Anyway with John Wayne saving the world in one corner and me in the other things got off to a slow wobbly start, “Good afternoon… my name is Merlin Fraser and I…..”

“Who is it ”?

“Somebody called Madeline Frey something …”!

“Does she want to see our Feet”?

“She’s not seeing my feet she looks like a man…”

I coughed to trying to bring the focus back to me, “ I AM a man and I don’t want to see anybody’s feet…alright”?

“Is it Thursday..? Don’t we have Bingo on a Thursday ”!

“And Fish on Friday’s …”

“We had fish today…!”

“They told me that was Chicken”.

“Tasted like Fish…”

“Yeah always does… That was chicken… I think they put vinegar on it makes it taste like fish”.

“Ladies…” I tried to bring the room to order, “Actually it’s only Wednesday…”

“What is ”?

“Today Is…”

“So you  ‘Ave come to see our feet then….?”

Already I’m ready to give up, “Would you prefer to watch the John Wayne film ”?

“Who”?

“John Wayne ”!

“I thought you said ‘is name was Madeline something or other….”

I coughed for silence, deep breath one last supreme effort, “I’m here to talk about local History, I have written a book on the subject”.

“What ”?

“A Book…”

“What about it ”?

“Did he leave it here ”?

“Tuesday is book day…. That big Van comes…”

“Is that the one that smells of Pee ”?

“No…! That’s the Mini bus ”!

“Ladies , Ladies… I- W-R-O-T-E  T-H-E  B-O-O-K ”!

“What about ”?

“Local History …About our town.”

“What’s he sayin’ ”?

“He asking about local history….”

“OH That ! What does he want to know?  I can remember the German’s dropped a bomb what killed a Cow during the war… best stew we’d had in years…”!

My heart sank, if nothing else I know when to quit….“I’ll just pop out and see if the tea is coming!”

“Who was that ”?

“Said his name was John Wayne I think”.

“You sure ? Though John Wayne always wore a big hat… hope his horse isn’t crapping on our lawn”!

Ya know those dangling cords that you are supposed to pull only in an Emergency ?

Well I pulled it….Twice !!

But what the Hell ! I Don’t Care !   I’m still putting Public Speaker on my CV…. !

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10 Instagram Tips for Writers – Written by Annie Sullivan

 

The other day, a high school freshman walked up to my book signing. When I asked if she had a Facebook account, she said, “No, Instagram.”

I should’ve known. For a while now, I’ve heard that Instagram is the new social media place for writers, but it felt confirmed in that moment. Younger generations (and even some older ones!) flock to Instagram for its feed of beautiful pictures.

So how can writers use Instagram to their benefit? Here are some easy things to keep in mind to find and engage your target readership on Instagram.

Continue reading the entire article here:

https://www.janefriedman.com/10-instagram-tips-for-writers/

Authors are not Gurus – Guest Post By Merlin Fraser

One of the problems of becoming a published writer is that people start to think that you have some sort of sage like wisdom that you can magically impart to all who ask.

If only, the Social Media world of Facebook and LinkedIn is littered with all sorts of would be Gurus and their disciples spouting the word and dispensing all sorts of wise words and advice to the uninitiated. Hey ! Don’t get me wrong there are some great people on LinkedIn that are indeed a great source of ‘Writing’ wisdom but most of the rest deal in encouragement and confidence boosting.

Like a lot of writers I get invites to talk to writers groups, of course they don’t want to hear me talk what they really want is for them to take it in turns to read something to me for an instant critique, which again is not something they really want to hear, especially the truth.

Therefore, what I do instead is set myself up as one of them, someone with perhaps more experience in where I’ve been, how I got where I am, the mistakes and pitfall to avoid and so on. What I prefer is a straight question and answer session, and the most popular questions are variations about story plotlines, or how to create characters and make them believable?

Of course, here I’m talking fictional stories, and depending upon the chosen genre it is essential to start the story with something that will hook the reader immediately and then flow in a believable way from there. This is where the creation of the of the characters who are going to bring your story to life comes in.

I have read many great stories that should have pulled my emotions every which way but failed because the characters were poorly created or unbelievable in the role. Whether you realise it or not reading a book is a flat 2D world and it is up to us as writers to turn our story into 3D in the mind and imagination of the reader.

We need the reader to get involved with the story and we achieve this through the characters we create. So decide early what emotions you want from the reader towards each of the main characters. Of course, here is also the place for creating deception in the story by making the reader dislike a character that may later turn out to be the hero or vice versa.

Our characters must, at all times, remain in character, unless in the story they temporarily step out of charter for a reason, but make that reason clear or you run the risk of the reader being side tracked into thinking “so and so wouldn’t do or say that”.

The emotions we create for our characters, in any situation, only come alive if we can also induce them into the reader, we want them to smile or laugh with the character, feel sorrow and pain and yes, even cry real tears with them.

So, where do we find the inspiration to create our characters ? Please do not be tempted to use real people, like family members, friends or acquaintances, remember they might one day read your work and may be less than flattered at your portrayal.

In my Inner Space, Nick Burton Murder Mystery stories I have been told that my characters feel genuinely real, and of course, in many ways they are and hopefully when you meet them they are people you want to know and take an interest in what happens to them. But No; I am not Nick Burton, although I have been told that he and I do share many annoying similarities and one or two better bits.

However, most of the key characters are created out of bits and pieces of real people from my past and of course, but I create their physical appearance to suit the part they have to play. In this instance, the most important piece you take from real people is knowing how they would react to any given situation.

We all know people who when faced with any new or difficult situation will stand well back saying, “Someone should do something” with no intention of ever being that someone.

Then again, I’m sure we also know someone who is first in, taking charge, dishing out instructions and so forth. So you get my drift, we all know a lot of people, from the very old, to the very young. From the very timid to the rash and bold, males as well as females, study them and use them all as required.

Of course, it also helps if you are someone like me, someone who in life has been around many blocks, had many opportunities to travel to far off places and mix with people outside your normal world. In addition, of course, you need to become a serious people watcher and something of a nosey bugger to boot.

Frequent busy places, train stations, airports, cafes and supermarkets are great places to people watch, sit there long enough and the whole world will pass before your eyes. Yet, listen as well as watch, some of my best character quotes, or misquotes have come from complete strangers passing though my life.

Next Question please.

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Characters and what or who inspires them – by Aurora Jean Alexander…

Today, our furry friend, The Story Reading Ape, published one of my gest posts. I’m very honored and flattered. Thank you so much for publishing it on your blog, Chris! ❤

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

When I start developing a character sometimes, I construct the person in my head; then I start writing down how she/he is going to be. First the ‘shell,’ then the inside. I very rarely ‘use’ someone I already know… someone I have met or is familiar to me.

It’s more that sometimes I recognize later, after the first draft, when I’m typing the book into the computer, that I find similarities with people I know.

This one time it’s a bit different.

A couple of months back I met a new co-worker of mine. She’s simply beautiful with her shiny black hair, blue ocean deep eyes, and her open, symmetrical heart-shaped face.

We talked about her descants and found out; she’s Irish. After talking to her and listening to her wonderful Irish accent, I decided I would love to use her as one of my main characters in one of…

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Weird Side Of Famous Writers – by Jack Milgram

 

How well do you know your favorite writers?

Have you checked out their biographies, or does your knowledge end at the list of books they’ve written?

Whatever the case may be, some writers have a side that very few people even know about. And it’s a pretty weird side. We’re talking about the strange habits and other quirks that some of the most famous writers have.

And we want to uncover some of them in our infographic. We’ve identified 20 famous authors who are known to have strange habits. This infographic clearly shows that sometimes it’s not only talent and outstanding work that can make people talk about writers.
Make sure to check out the infographic and you’ll surely learn something new about the listed authors you never knew before.

 

Author’s biography

I have been interested in writing since I made the acquaintance of pen and paper. My first letters were really funny, and my mom still keeps them as mementoes. However, as soon as I learned how to write words, I started forming them into sentences. And do you know what my first sentence said? “I love my words”. It was written so ineptly that it looked more like “I love my weird”. When I was younger and played in a band I also started writing poems, but to be honest, prose is much easier for me and I’m doing much better focusing on exactly that. I started writing, but often left unfinished, many of my essays at school, as well as my researches at college, where I studied psychology and education. I started freelance writing when I was a student. I have never found sitting in an office appealing, and a world traveler is actually my true alter-ego. That is why freelancing was my career solution. And now, here you are, reading my tips and guidance for my favorite occupation while I am actually doing what I love all over the world.

Contact Jack Milgram

Blog:  CW blog

Email: milgram.jack@yahoo.com

Twitter: @Jack__Milgram

Facebook: Jack.Milgram

7 Ways To Use Infographics To Promote your Book

Amber Wilson guest posts on Nicholas Rossis’ blog on how to use infographics to promote our books. Thanks so much Amber and Nicholas.

Nicholas C. Rossis

Amber Wilson | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's booksThis is a guest post by Amber Wilson, an experienced ghostwriter currently employed as a content strategist at ThesisHelpers. She is fond of science fiction and poetry. Amber believes that technology and progress will change the world and dreams of becoming a best-selling author one day. Feel free to contact her at G+.

Infographics As A Powerful Book Promotion Tool

Spaceship comparison Infographic | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books Part of a popular Infographic comparing various spaceships popularized by TV series and movies. Visit pics-about-space.com for more!

Placing links on various social media platforms create awareness for your book. But, as many authors are discovering, it can be hard to build your author brand on that alone. Have you ever considered using Infographics to promote your book?

Infographics can be a powerful book promotion tool, offering far better returns than photos and book covers. That is because your targeted audience will find it easier to understand and retain…

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Do Your Own Research – A Warning to Indie Authors – Guest Post by, Yecheilyah Ysrayl…

Yecheilyah Ysrael pupblished a guest post on TSRA’s blog today, giving excellent advice to Indie Authors. Thank you Yecheilyah!

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Hey Guys! Wow. It’s been a long time. I miss you all!

*waves to readers and sits on virtual sofa*

This article started out extremely long but then I realized how necessary it was to keep this short and simple.There is so much information out here for Independent Authors and so many made-up commandments it isn’t funny. Everyone has an opinion on what the new author should and shouldn’t do. Everyone has a piece of advice to give or stones to throw. If you move this way you are doing it wrong and if you move that way you are still doing it wrong. There are more laws for the Self-Publisher than there are in the bible. There is something to say about everything. This is why I humbly advise each person to experience everything for themselves and to do their own research. Sometimes you don’t need to…

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