All posts by Angela Booth

About Angela Booth

Copywriter Angela Booth's clients tell her she performs "word magic." Whether she's writing advertising materials, Web content, or ghostwriting for her clients, she's committed to helping them to achieve results, fast. Author of one of the first books about online business, Making The Internet Work For Your Business, Angela's written many business books which have been published by major publishers. She's an enthusiastic self-publisher and writing teacher.

Writing Journal 70: My 3 Best Novel-Writing Tips

Writing Journal 70: My 3 Best Novel-Writing Tips

My writing journal for Tuesday, October 21, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

Today will be a short writing day. I have three meetings this morning. I’ll get my fiction and nonfiction ghostwriting commitments out of the way, then I’ll need to prepare for my meetings.

The mystery novel flows. Again. I manage another 2,400 words. I have no idea what’s going on. It may seem odd to quibble when a book’s going so well. However, it’s so unusual, that I can’t trust it. What if I suddenly realize that my sleuth is an idiot, and that a child could pick the murderer in the first chapter? Maybe I’ve just got to stop looking a gift horse in the mouth. :-)

Onward with nonfiction: 1,400 words.

With those out of the way, it’s time for Honey’s breakfast. She’s a good eater, but she’s also fussy. She prefers her meat without vegetables, and she’d eat kibble all day long – but it has to be her favorite brand. I eat my own breakfast, while skimming through email.

Then a short timer session on the holiday copywriting projects for my client, before I prepare for my meetings.

Back again: mid-afternoon

I’m back. The meetings ran long again, as they always seem to do.

It takes me a couple of hours to write up my notes from the meetings, and add the projects and tasks which emerged from them to my schedule for the next three months. This is the busiest time of the year for some of my clients – this means it’s a busy time for me too.

I’ll be subcontracting some of the projects, so I spend an hour on the phone, discussing briefs and schedules with my subcontractors. I make some notes for the briefs, and send them off.

Then I return phone calls, check clients’ blogs to make sure that scheduled posts have been published, and the working day is over.

With NaNoWriMo coming up in just over a week, readers have asked for some tips.

OK… :-)

My 3 best novel-writing tips

1. Summarize the story as soon as possible

Over the years, I’ve learned how to outline fiction. However, I’m still a pantser by nature. (That is, a person who wings the story, discovering it with the reader.)

Ideally, you’ll outline the bare bones of the story in a paragraph before you start writing.

Something like this:

newly married Sarah witnesses a murder. Her new husband is one of the killers. He threatens to murder her parents and sister if she talks. Sarah knows that her husband wants her dead. Can she escape him and bring him to justice?

That’s not enough to start writing. You need to know the kind of person Sarah is. Over the course of the story, Sarah will grow as a character, from ____ (fill in the blank) to _______ (fill in the blank.)

Once you’ve got that, you can go deeper into developing the characters and plot.

If you’re a real pantser, and your brain freezes when you try to outline, just start writing. I talked about story-starters here.

Big tip: even if you’re a pantser, outline as soon as you can. I’ve found that if I hit 10,000 words, without an outline in sight, the book’s going nowhere. This happened to me a lot in my early years, and dead-end stories are one of the reasons that I force myself to outline, whether I want to or not.

2. Keep writing! Think, right in the project

Once you start your novel, keep going. Write every day. And by WRITE, I mean exactly that. Start tapping the keyboard as soon as you sit down. Keep going, until your writing time runs out.

Talk to yourself about the novel as you’re writing, if the words won’t flow.

Something like this:

OK, now Sarah realizes that one of the men in the group is her husband Ben. How does she react? What’s her first thought? Maybe it’s disbelief — maybe she has to stop herself from calling his name. Etc.

Keep writing.

3. Watch your characters’ arcs: novels are about change

Novels are about people. We read fiction to learn more about ourselves, and others. So, your people are more important than the plot, and in fiction, your characters change. Try to get a handle on your characters as soon as you can.

If I decided to write the novel about Sarah and her murderous husband, I’d think about Sarah. What kind of person is she when the story starts? How does she change over the course of the novel?

Viz:

Maybe Sarah is the baby in her family. She’s always been protected by her parents and older siblings. She’s never had to think for herself. She’s naive, in a word. Over the course of the novel, Sarah learns to think for herself. She’s much tougher than she ever imagined. How will we show Sarah changing? We need one incident to show naive Sarah early on, and then a similar incident at the end of the book, to show that Sarah’s experiences changed her. She’s tougher, and less trusting, She no longer takes people and situations at face value.

Hmmm…. Sarah’s growing on me. Maybe she’s a widow, with a six-year-old son. Ben’s he second husband, the polar opposite of her first. The child could make the story much more dramatic…

Enough. If I don’t stop now, I’ll end up outlining the novel. :-)

You don’t need to know all the details of a character’s arc. As long as you have an idea of the kind of person a character is at the start of your novel, and how the character ends up, you’re good to go.

If you’re doing NaNoWriMo this year, good luck. :-)

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Writing Journal 69: Favorite Content Creation Tools

Writing Journal 69: Favorite Content Creation Tools

My writing journal for Monday, October 20, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

As usual, I started the day writing fiction. The mystery novel is still steaming along. Happy days; 2,300 words. Then nonfiction, working on the two business books: 1,800.

Next, Honey’s breakfast. Over the past few days, the weather’s been cooler, so her arthritis is bothering her. However, she’s still up for a game, and over-eats if she gets the chance.

Then, my own breakfast, while working through email. Monday tends to be a slower day for general email: just clients requesting quotes, and students sending me material. I handle most of it; Julia can deal with the quotes.

Next, it’s time to remind clients that we need images for their content. As I said in a post on Fab Freelance Writing Blog, the Web is all about images now. I’ve been looking at digital cameras; years ago, I had a photography hobby. It might be time to get back to it… when I find the time. :-)

My primary focus today is some “holiday” content for copywriting clients. We’re building up to the hot (pun intended, since it’s summer in Australia) content season. Clients suddenly realize that their website needs updating with their holiday offerings. And they need to plan and create promotional campaigns.

Time for my walk. I haven’t walked in a couple of days; I need it to clear my mind. Cold wind, so I wear my favorite beanie. :-)

Back again, and back to the holiday content. Work on that takes me up to lunch.

Lunch in front of my computer. It’s becoming a habit. However, I’ll be out most of tomorrow, so I need to get as much done as I can today. I browse through clients’ blog archives and Web content, and make notes, so that I can link the fresh holiday content back to previous content.

A reader asked about my favorite content creation tools.

My favorite content creation tools

I create a lot of content, of many different types, every day. So I tend to jump on any tool which might make creation easier. Your mileage will vary. I test and discard lots of tools, but that’s OK. Creating content consistently is a real challenge, so any tool which helps with that is a worthwhile investment.

Currently, my favorite tools include…

Evernote. Always. It’s always open, and I do a lot of writing in Evernote. It means I can write on my phone or tablet, and add ideas as they come to me.

Scrivener. Invaluable. Don’t know where I’d be without it.

Ember. (Mac) A recent acquisition. For research, as well as to check what assets have been created, and need to be created for a project.

MultiMarkdown Composer, and Ulysses (Mac.) Most of my content starts in Evernote, then makes its way to one of these programs: I use Marked as the viewer for both of them.

Marked (Mac). Wonderful for viewing and repurposing Markdown documents.

Adobe Creative Cloud. I use Photoshop and Bridge mostly.

Curio. Indispensable, both to collect assets for projects, and to keep archives of past projects. It’s amazing how often clients will return months and years later – and they’ve lost the assets we used. Curio is a huge time saver, because all the previously used assets are there, and are instantly available.

OmniOutliner (Mac.) I resisted upgrading to version 4, but finally pulled the trigger.

Inspiration. An app I adore, because you can create HUGE cluster diagrams to spark, and to reignite, creativity for a project.

Onward with the holiday content for copywriting clients

Back to developing the holiday content. Finally I’m done with the initial drafts; I send them off with relief. I’m still waiting for some product shots, so I can create product descriptions; I send a reminder to the photographer.

More emails, and phone calls to return. My daily review, and that’s it for another day.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Writing Journal 68: Manage Your Social Media Images

Writing Journal 68: Manage Your Social Media Images

My writing journal for Sunday October 19, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

It’s Sunday, a short writing day for me. The mystery novel is still chugging along like the little engine that could. I managed 2,500 words. A lot of first-draft junk content, but some good. (Even if I say so myself.)

Then on to nonfiction; just 1,200 words, but that’s OK.

Honey’s breakfast, and then my own. I eat my toast while responding to students’ exercises.

Which reminds me: today is the final day of the special offering on 8-Hour Wins; check it out before the offering ends.

8-Hour Wins: Create and Sell Products in Just 8 HoursThe 2015 version of the Easy-Write Process went live today, too.

Mac OS X Yosemite is powering along. Only one minor hiccup. Dropbox wouldn’t load until I installed a new version. I’m sure that’s my fault. It doesn’t have an in-app notification for new versions, so I forget to update.

One thing I’ve noticed with Yosemite; it’s speedier. Very nice. I’d still recommend waiting before you upgrade; that’s the sensible thing to do.

No time to walk this morning. Today’s my big blogging day, so I spend the rest of the morning organizing blog content and social media postings.

Manage Your Social Media Images

I’m always looking for ways to improve my workflow, especially with social media. Denise Wakeman posted about MavSocial. It’s a social media management tool specifically for images.

To manage images, I use Creative Cloud, but even with Adobe Bridge to help, I still get into a tangle. I’ve got text content, images for dozens of social media campaigns, promotional materials and heaven knows what else. Keeping it all straight is not only frustrating, it’s next to impossible.

Currently I use spreadsheets, Curio and OmniOutliner to keep things going, but it’s still migraine-inducing.

So I tried MavSocial out immediately. Within a few minutes, I’d uploaded some images, edited one, posted a tweet, and scheduled another one. Very impressive. Usually it takes forever to figure out a new tool, but MavSocial is well laid out. I like the idea of creating campaigns, and checking the results in one dashboard.

I’ll spend more time reviewing it, but at first glance, it’s well worth incorporating into my workflow.

A couple of days ago, I mentioned Canva for iPad. I installed it last night. If you’re familiar with the Web app, you’ll be creating with the iPad app soon as you install it. You can even access all the images you’ve created on Web Canva from the app.

Time for my Sunday commitments.

Sunday blogging

I’m back, and it’s more Sunday blogging. I like to do as much preparation as I can on Sunday, so that the week’s blogging flows smoothly.

By the time I’ve brainstormed and researched posts, and have created draft posts for each blog, it’s time for my general weekly plan and review session.

With that done, everything’s ready for another week.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Writing Journal 67: (Mac People) Hello, Yosemite

Writing Journal 67: (Mac People) Hello, Yosemite

My writing journal for Saturday 18, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

It’s Saturday, so that means I need to RUSH because it’s a short writing day, and I have coaching calls this afternoon and evening.

To save time, I shortened the writing time for the mystery novel, but managed 1,800 words. I skipped working on the nonfiction books completely, so I could focus on my email backlog.

Then, time for breakfast for Honey. I ate while dealing with today’s email.

Client reports, and dealing with edited material

I didn’t do any client reports for the week yesterday, which meant I had to do them today. I also received a couple of books from editors, which I need to assess for final changes. I’ll do that tonight.

Now it’s time for my errands. I need to be back early for my coaching calls.

A couple of writing students asked me about the new Mac OS, Yosemite. They’re new Mac people, and weren’t sure what to do, if anything at all.

A few tips, if you’re new to Macs.

If you’re a Mac person, Yosemite is here

Yosemite, the new Mac OS X is here. When it was announced yesterday, I promised myself that I’d wait a month before updating. Updating is always risky; if your most-used programs haven’t been upgraded to work with the new OS, you’re stuck.

“Yosemite announced, wait a month before upgrading” — that’s what I wrote in my bullet journal. Then I looked at the features, and noticed Handoff. I could start creating a presentation, and could finish it on my iPad.

And Safari got updated. Not to mention, security features… Sigh. No sooner had I finished my working day, than I decided, oh what the heck, and hit the Install button in the App Store.

I made sure I was ready first, so if you’re installing Yosemite, do this:

  • Make sure that your “MUST HAVE” apps have been updated to work with Yosemite. Visit the App Store, and update your apps;
  • BACK UP… Have a new backup. I use Time Machine, and also back up important files to both Evernote and Dropbox, so I was OK;
  • Make sure that your computer can run Yosemite.

Once you’ve done all that, you’re good to go. Yosemite’s a 5 GB download, so the time to download depends on your connection. Once it’s downloaded, the install took around half an hour for me.

Once Yosemite’s installed, your Mac will run like crap for a while, as it optimizes things in the background. Expect this — don’t panic.

Next, visit the App Store again. You’ll see more downloads, now that Yosemite is installed. Install the apps. Yesterday, the Yosemite download was fast; the updated apps took forever to download. It depends on how many others are doing what you’re doing.

After all that, run your backup program again, now that you have a bright and shiny new operating system.

Back again: coaching calls

I’m back, and need to prepare for today’s coaching calls. I read through clients’ materials, and make some notes. Then it’s time for the calls…

With the calls done, most of my day is done. I do my daily review. I’ve still got the edits to read through tonight, but that’s OK.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Writing Journal 66: Gorgeous Graphics for Your Blog

Writing Journal 66: Gorgeous Graphics for Your Blog

My writing journal for Friday, October 17, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

After yesterday’s running start, this morning started a lot slower. That’s the writing life for you. One day you can’t keep up with your thoughts, and the next your brain splutters and gasps. Nevertheless, I managed 1,900 words on the mystery novel, and 1,700 words on the two nonfiction books. So, it wasn’t too bad.

I make Honey’s breakfast, and then my own. Then I get down to reading email. I’m almost caught up; with a little effort tonight, I’ll be able to respond to the final batch of students’ exercises.

New website launch: next week (I hope)

I’d hoped to launch the new website this week, but that won’t happen. I’ve rescheduled it for next week. I got so frustrated with something that wouldn’t work on the site yesterday, I was close to pitching my computer out of the window. So, I got some help.

I don’t have much time for the website today, so I spend an hour on it, then it’s on to client projects.

Last night a client called with a rush project; he needs a presentation by the close of business today. He’s been asked to fill in at a conference. Luckily, I’ve created many presentations for him in the past, so we can re-purpose several slides and notes from older material.

Working on that takes me to right up to lunchtime. No time for our Friday lunch today, so I read social media while I’m eating.

With lunch over, it’s down to work on the presentation again.

Canva’s one of my favorite apps for graphics-creation. You can create a set of slides easily, and quickly too. They’ve just released their iPad app.

Gorgeous graphics for your blog

I’m no artist. If you’re like me, and nevertheless want to create graphics for your Kindle book covers, your blog, and your website, I’m sure you know all about Canva. Here’s what’s new: Canva for your iPad.

Here’s Canva’s blog post announcing the new app. I love the idea of creating images for social media, right on your iPad. No more excuses, you can create images for Twitter and Facebook while you’re sitting on your sofa, watching a movie.

I haven’t downloaded the app yet; however, I’ll make time to do it on the weekend.

Speaking of apps, if you’re a Mac person, you know that Mac OS X Yosemite was released today. I can’t wait to install it. On the other hand, I know that things can go wrong, and that some of the programs on which I rely may have issues with the new OS. So I’ll hold off for a month, until things settle down, and developers have had a chance to update their apps.

Finally, I complete the presentation, and send it off to the client for his review. I asked him to get back to me quickly, if he wants changes.

Next, it’s blogging time again. I’m a little behind on some of my clients’ blogs, so I need to spend some time drafting and scheduling posts. That’s easy, because I write most things in Markdown.

If you use Markdown, and Evernote, did you know that you can write in Markdown in Evernote?

Evernote trick for Web writers: write in Markdown

If you’re a Web writer, you know all about Markdown. If you’re also an Evernote fan, you may not know that you write in Markdown in your notes, then paste your notes into any Markdown editor, and get HTML, PDF, and Rich Text.

I said to someone the other day: “I write in Markdown so much that it’s completely automatic. I use it in Evernote even when the note will never leave Evernote.”

She said: “You can use Markdown in Evernote?”

Yes you can.

There’s even a Markdown editor for Evernote, called Marxico. I’ve never used it; I prefer to write in Evernote, then copy the text and paste it into Ulysses or Lightpaper (free.)

Now that I’ve caught up on SOME blogging, it’s time for my daily and weekly review, and then the week is done.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Writing Journal 65: You CAN Self-Publish

Writing Journal 65: You CAN Self-Publish

My writing journal for Thursday, October 16, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

I woke up early this morning, at 4.30AM, with some clever twists for the mystery novel tumbling through my mind. I created a cluster diagram, then wrote it up, and started my daily stint on the novel a few minutes early. I managed 3,200 words, before I wound down. After yesterday’s dithering, I was pleased that the writing flowed this morning.

Without any doubt, this is one of the easiest novels I’ve ever written. Hmmm… the universe might be trying to tell me something.

An aside to the universe… if you want me to write mysteries, PLEASE drop an intriguing sleuth into my brain. I’ve been rereading Phil Rickman lately. I’d love to be gifted with a sleuth like Merrily Watkins.

Onward with the two nonfiction books. I forced myself to work solely on the ebook, rather than the print book, and achieved 1,800 words.

Breakfast. It’s cold this morning, so Honey limped a little. I hope her arthritis will improve as the weather warms up.

I ate my toast while reading and responding to email messages from clients and students. I make notes for Julia to type up.

More work on my new website

Progress on the new website. I’ve got some lovely goodies lined up for readers. More on that soon.

Next, some on-going copywriting for a couple of retainer clients.

A short interruption, while I go for my walk. The storms of the night before last don’t seem to have done any major damage; we were lucky.

You CAN Self-Publish

I had lunch while reading social media, and found this gem from Hugh Howey, Group Hug.

Had to snicker at this one:

3) It will end your writing career if you self-publish.

Actually, it’s just as likely to start your writing career. A friend of mine just sold his self-published book to a Big 5 publisher for several hundred thousand dollars. It may have been true at one time that publishers only looked at material if it had never been published anywhere else before, but that was laid to rest a long time ago. The stigma is gone within publishing houses. 50 Shades of Grey selling a bazillion copies changed all that.

Yes, it’s fascinating that all the “you’ll be ruined!” screams about self-publishing have died down. Now the screamers just bash Amazon. (Sigh.)

Of COURSE you can self-publish. You can do whatever you please. And take it from me, if you knew how frustrating it is to deal with middle-people like agents and editors, you’d run away screaming from anyone who offered you a traditional publishing contract.

Self-publishing gives you freedom, above all. Yes, it can be scary, and yes, you’ll make mistakes. However, at least you’re not paying for others’ mistakes. Once you sign away your rights in a piece of writing you can’t easily get them back.

Blogging…

Next, blogging. I need to organize content for clients’ blogs, and do some research. That takes several hours.

Finally, I have a few minutes to check how many draft posts I have on my own blogs. I need to write more draft posts, so I’ll do that tonight.

It’s after 4PM, which means that I need to catch up on phone calls and email messages.

The bullet journal Kickstarter campaign was a roaring success

The campaign raised over $79,000.

I started using the bullet journal system on September 18, so I’ve been using it for just on a month. Why, oh why didn’t I start using it earlier? It combines perfectly with Evernote and Things, and makes it wonderfully easy to track goals. I love it; I decorate my pages with stickers and Washi tape, so I can see how close I am to a goal at a glance.

Your bullet journal can make it hard NOT to do things, because those items you’ve migrated keep staring it you. It’s easier to do them, than it is to keep looking at what you’re avoiding. Fun.

With all my calls returned, I do my daily review. It’s the end of another writing day.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.