Tag Archives: writing

Online Writing Classes: Romance Writing Class Kicks Off

Online Writing Classes: Romance Writing Class Kicks Off

Online writing classes are fun. I started my writing career as romance novelist, way back in the dark ages, so our latest class helps you to write and self-publish Kindle romances.

If you knew me, you’d laugh at that notion of me as a romance writer.  I’m not a stereotypical romance novelist in the “hearts and flowers” sense. I comfort myself that Melvin Udall wasn’t stereotypical either. Few romance writers are as you’d imagine them to be.

Over the past couple of years, student authors have been asking me to create a romance writing class, so I have. I’m enjoying it hugely. The class is called Hot, Hotter, Hottest; a nod and a wink to what we’ll be covering; romance at various degrees of heat, from mild to smoking – sweet romance, to erotica.

Hot, Hotter, Hottest: Write Bestselling Kindle Romances

My personal coaching students in romance mostly write erotica. The huge success of Fifty Shades of Grey inspired them; I have no preference. I write whatever I’m inspired to write. Sometimes that’s sweet romance, and sometimes it’s steamy.

Writing Romance, Over Four Weeks and Six Months

Hot, Hotter, Hottest: Write Bestselling Kindle Romances is a four-week class. After the four weeks, students receive six months of Kindle Romance Writer Weekly, which continues the class, in a sense. We’ll all be writing together, which will help students to get beta readers, and to get honest reviews for their ebooks.

I’ll be writing with you. You’ll see my process, and since I do hours of research each week, I’ll be saving you time in doing your own research. It’s all experiential – you receive exercises with each lesson, and you send those to me. Your exercises build into a romance, which you’ll publish on Amazon.

Join us, if you’d like to write, and self-publish…. :-)

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Not in the Mood: 3 Blogging Tips To Get Over Bloggers’ Procrastination

Not in the Mood: 3 Blogging Tips Get Over Bloggers’ Procrastination

Not in the mood to write a blog post? Although I love blogging, half the time I’d rather be reading – or doing something else undemanding. If you allow it, procrastination can kill your blog. For hobbyist bloggers, that’s okay. It’s not okay if your job or your livelihood depends on writing more content.

Check out these three blogging tips for those times you’re just not in the mood.

1. Get Inspired by Google Suggest – Tip Toe Through the Alphabet.

Google’s the savior of recalcitrant bloggers. Hie yourself off to Google, and enter a topic – any topic. Add the letter “a.”

google suggest

As you can see in the image above, I entered “blogging”, plus “a.” I haven’t anything to say on blogging away debt, but I could create a post on any of the other three ideas, even if I wasn’t in a blogging mood.

2. Write a List of Words. Use Them in Your Blog Post.

Challenge yourself. Write a list of words – any words. Author Ray Bradbury used nouns:

These lists were the provocations, finally, that caused my better stuff to surface. I was feeling my way toward something honest, hidden under the trapdoor on the top of my skull.

You can use any words you like. Example: summer, drizzle, sly, sky blue, river, petunia… Now write a blog post, and include those words. Or not, your choice.

Writing a list of words primes the pump. You’ve given the logical side of your brain something to think about. Before you know it, the creative side of your brain gets in on the act, and you’ve written a blog post.

This exercise works well if you need to create your editorial calendar for the month.

3. Temper, Temper – Think About Something That Annoys You.

Got a temper? Me too. I’ve calmed down over the years, but I can create a list of annoyances which get me into a temper without any effort.

Think of something which annoys you. No, don’t blog about that. Use the energy and make a word list. Anger is just energy, and you can direct it anywhere you like. Direct that anger into creating a blog post. Tip: keep your post positive.

So there you have it. Next time you’re not in the mood, try one of these blogging tips. They’re fun.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.

photo credit: TheAlieness GiselaGiardino²³ via photopin cc

Editing Your Writing: Say It Better

Editing Your Writing: Say It Better

Want to improve your writing? Edit it. “Editing” means different things to different people, from tinkering with word choices, to a complete rewrite. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been editing the first draft of a novel; in this case, my “edit” is a complete rewrite.

Never hesitate to rewrite completely. You’ll say it better the second or third time around – don’t bother checking the original. As Jason Fried says about editing in Writing Decisions: Saving space without losing meaning:

The first thing I do when I want to cut out some words is not read the original version. I just write a new one. I don’t want to be influenced by what I thought I had to say before. I want to think about what I want to say now. After I’ve written a new one I go back to the old one to see if there was anything critical I missed.

You’ll Say It Better in Later Versions

Later versions will always be better than your first attempt, whether you’re editing an advertisement, or a book. You know what you want to say, so your writing will be clearer.

Not sure about a complete rewrite? Try it. If you’re writing a book, rewrite a scene, or part of a chapter, and see how you feel. You may well realize that rewrite gives you freedom and options you didn’t have it the first draft, and won’t have if you try to reword the original.

My students tend to be outraged when I suggest that they rewrite completely, expecting it to be hard work. They’re surprised when a complete rewrite is easier than a laborious edit.

, and on Twitter: @angee

How To Write A Book Without Going Out Of Your Mind (slide deck)

Want to write a book? I’ve written many books, both traditionally and self-published. Her tips will help you to become a confident author. Write every day: same time, same place. Separate writing your book from editing it. Before you know it, your book will be done.

You can see the notes and the transcript for the deck at this link.

, and on Twitter: @angee

3 Great Writing Apps for Distraction-Free Writing

Byword app
Byword

Writing can be hard if you’re not in the mood. Great writing apps can make it easier, especially those which allow you to create a distraction-free writing environment. I’ve explored many of these apps over the years; these three are currently my favorites.

I’ve scored the apps out of a possible 5; my opinion, based on how I write, your mileage will vary.

1. Byword (Mac, iOS)

Distraction-free score – 5.

Byword is an excellent all-in-one distraction-free writing environment with an added benefit: one-click publishing to Evernote, as well as to WordPress, Tumblr and Scriptogram blogs.

Please be aware that blog publishing requires the Premium version; it’s an in-app purchase which enables Premium on all your devices.

That said, I rarely use the blog publishing option to publish directly to a blog. Byword gives you a choice of RTF and Markdown formats. I write in Markdown, then “publish” to Evernote.

If I’m writing a blog post, I copy the HTML to the clipboard so that I can paste it into WordPress. Once the text is in the WordPress editor, I SEO the post via the Yoast plugin. I’ve found that if I don’t add the meta data immediately, I procrastinate on doing it later.

2. Write.app (Web, free)

Write app

 

Write.app

Distraction-free score – 4.

I like Write.app. It’s available anywhere, on any browser, and has mobile apps for iOS and Android. You can write anything you like with Write.app, from simple notes, which are stored in note books for you on the Web, to full-length novels. Everything’s encrypted, so your notes stay private. You can make any note public, and can download your writing as a text file at any time.

If you click the full-screen icon, you’ll just see your text in a browser window, distraction-free.

Why the 4/5 score? I like to see a word count as I write, and this isn’t available in Write.app.

3. ZenPen (Web, free)

ZenPen

 

ZenPen

Distraction-free score – 5.

ZenPen is fun to use. It’s just a browser window. Delete the placeholder text – it’s a Help file – and write away. You can export to Markdown, HTML, and plain text. If you want to format, or add Markdown syntax, just highlight some text, and select from the options which pop up.

I was tempted to drop ZenPen’s score to 4 because of the lack of a word count. There’s a target word count, which you can enter, but which does nothing to let you know you’ve reached your word count goal. Maybe I missed something?

ZenPen’s gorgeous, uses Markdown, and you can use it in any browser; it gets 5 from me. :-)

Give these three writing apps a try if you’re feeling uninspired and need to write anyway. One of them may become your favorite.

, and on Twitter: @angee

Writing Habits: 3 Great Habits To Improve Everything You Write

Writing Habits: 3 Great Habits To Improve Everything You Write

If you develop good writing habits you’ll improve all your writing, and writing will become fun for you too.

Want a great writing tip? Here you go: “The only difference between professional writers and everyone else is that professionals expect to write junk.” I’ve forgotten who said it first, and I’m sure I’ve mangled the quote, but it’s true. Your life will be much easier if you expect to write junk, because you will. And you’ll fix it later.

Consider developing these three habits.

1. Write daily.

Yes, write daily. You’ve heard this before, many times. If you don’t yet have the daily writing habit, get a wall calendar, and follow Jerry Seinfeld’s advice:

He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day. “After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain.”

Before too long, you’ll have the daily writing habit.

Initially, you’ll find this a challenge, because you want to write well. That’s natural. Sooner or later you’ll understand that sitting down to write is really all you need to do. Just start writing. Words will come out.

Think of your daily writing stint as a meditation if you like:

… as revered Zen monk and teacher Shunryu Suzuki points out in Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, when you take your posture (sit to meditate), you’re meditating:

“When you have this posture, you have the right state of mind, so there is no need to try to attain some special state.”

Similarly with writing. When you take the posture – sit down to write – you’ll write. You don’t need a special state, nor you do need to be inspired.

Currently I’m writing a novella. Most days when I sit down to write, I’m convinced that since I don’t have any words in my head, there aren’t any words in there. I’m always wrong. (Thank heavens.)

2. Develop processes and checklists. Stop thinking. Write.

When I’m working with my book coaching authors, they tell me either “I don’t know how to start”, or “what else should I write?” if they’ve started.

Processes and checklists help.

Develop a writing process for a form of writing by chunking everything down into the smallest possible component, and make a checklist.

Let’s say you want to write some blog articles.

Here’s a process, as a checklist:

  • Brainstorm 20 topics;
  • Choose three topics (or more);
  • Spend five minutes of research on each topic (optional. You can research before you write, or after your first draft);
  • Brainstorm ten titles;
  • Choose three titles, find appropriate keywords;
  • List three or four points under each title;
  • For each article: write two or three paragraphs under each point;
  • Find references and/ or sources;
  • Whiz through a quick draft of each article;
  • Leave each article to gestate for 24 hours;
  • Write the final draft of each article…
  • Etc.

3. Tomorrow is another day. (You’ll improve today’s writing tomorrow.)

As Scarlett O’Hara said: “After all… tomorrow is another day.” Writing is always a process: tomorrow, you’ll be in a different frame of mind.

If today’s writing seems junk, a fairy godmother may sprinkle it with fairy dust overnight, and tomorrow you’ll think: “it’s not so bad… It might even be good.”

No fairy dust? Never mind. You’ll fix it.

These three writing habits will improve everything you write. Soon, writing won’t be a chore. You’ll look on the writing you do as the best part of your day.

If writing’s a challenge for you, get a writing coach. As one of my students recently said: “this is the best investment I’ve ever made.”

, and on Twitter: @angee

Social Media Sanity For Bloggers: Plan, Think, (and Write Fast)

Social Media Sanity For Bloggers: Plan, Think, (and Write Fast)

Social media is becoming essential for small businesses, but it’s a challenge, because it takes time. You can make the most of your time with a little planning, thinking, and finding tools to help you to write faster.

Your blog is the hub of your activities, so if you’re new to social media marketing, and don’t have a blog, set one up now.

Once your blog is set up, you need a smidgen of SEO know-how. Here’s an excellent primer on SEO for Blog Posts; be aware of “long tail” keywords:

Long-tail keywords are phrases that are usually 3 or more words. People who use these keywords usually have a good idea of what they’re looking for. There are also far less people searching these terms overall.

Next, create a list of keywords for your industry. Look at competitors’ blogs – you can usually see which keywords they’re targeting. Also, do a Google.com search for your industry, and look at the keywords people are using for Pay Per Click advertising. (The Google ads on the right side and top of the results pages.)

1. Planning.

Planning’s essential. You plan your business, and your overall marketing, and you need to plan your social media content creation too. If you’re not using Trello, give it a try. It’s an excellent planning tool for blogging and social media.

Start by deciding what results you want from your social media activities. Traffic is good, but conversions are better. Aim for conversions.

2. Thinking.

Planning and thinking go together. Keep your planning documents together, so that you can review your planning once a week, or once a month.

Social media and blogging can’t work in isolation. Integrate them into your business and marketing activities:

Make sure you direct people from social media to your website and make your website client friendly. Make sure you post different ways for people to get a hold of you. A contact us page, online promotions, online forms. Make sure people know who the CEO is and provide bios of your executive team.

3. Writing faster.

Blog writing can be a challenge.

Start by creating a check list for blogging, and as I recommended in that article, use an editorial calendar.

Vital tip: get creative with your writing. You don’t need to be sitting at your computer.

Here’s an Evernote/ Siri dictation strategy I’ve tried, and will be using going forward:

2) Open up a new note and type a quick outline.

Next, you open up a new note and start typing. To stay on point, I outlined what I generally wanted to say in the post before starting.

3) Click the microphone button to begin recording. Then, start speaking!

If you’re using WordPress, try the excellent WordPress Mobile apps. You can blog anywhere you choose. (Now you can blog while waiting for a meeting to start.)

Social media does take time. However, with a little planning, thinking and some tools to help you to write, you can boost your small business, even if you only have a few minutes a day.

 If you need help blogging your small business… contact me.

, and on Twitter: @angee

8 Easy Writing Tips to Improve Your Blogging and Make Sales

8 Easy Writing Tips to Improve Your Blogging and Make Sales

Are you making sales from your blog? You’ll have many reasons for blogging, but those reasons break down to the nitty-gritty: sales.

The following writing tips will help you to improve your blogging and SELL.

1. Think: “What’s in it for them?” (Consider the takeaway first.)

The takeaway is your readers’ reward for reading, so promise the reward in your headline.

Think about your audience. What do they need? What attracts them to your blog post? They must know WIIFM (what’s in it for me). If this isn’t obvious, they won’t read beyond the headline.

Tip: avoid cheating readers with misleading headlines. We discuss this in #5.

Your headline attracts them; your takeaway keeps them reading, and eventually, you’ll make a sale, but rarely directly. Your blog’s a publication, just like a magazine. Magazines have editorial content, and advertising. Sponsored content aims to break down the divide. As the New York Times article points out:

“In native advertising you can get double-digit click-through rates,” compared with the 0.01 percent click-through rate sometimes seen with display ads, Mr. Knapp said.

(“Native advertising” is just another label for sponsored content.)

Action Tip: write your post’s goal, and its takeaway on a sticky note before you start writing. It helps you to focus.

2. Remember your call-to-action.

Your call-to-action can be anything you like. You may ask:

  • For a comment;
  • Your readers to tweet, or pay with a tweet;
  • Your readers to contact you;
  • Your readers to check out an offering…

3. Write to be understood. (Confused readers don’t buy.)

As you know, readers skim your content. They skim the sub-heads to see what’s in it for them. Before you start writing, know what you want to say. Then write to be understood.

Dale Carnegie allegedly said: Tell the audience what you’re going to say, say it; then tell them what you’ve said.

You don’t need to go that far, but YOU need to know what point you want to make. Many blog posts start out well, then leave you with a “huh?” feeling at the end. The writer wandered off-track, and never made his point.

Short words, short sentences, and short paragraphs all help. Fast Company’s article, AN ARTICLE HAS A LIFESPAN OF 37 DAYS, AND OTHER FINDINGS FROM POCKET, makes fascinating reading.

4. Proofread… Keep a dictionary handy.

Proofread your posts, and look up words in a dictionary. Sometimes words mean the opposite of what you think they mean. This speaks to clarity, above.

5. Creative or clever? Be usefully creative.

If you use a discovery app like Prismatic, you soon get the sense that some bloggers are trying too hard: Genghis Khan’s ten rules for blogging etc. (If this is someone’s real blog post, I’m sorry. I didn’t look up the phrase on Google, so I have no idea whether someone’s written this. I apologize in advance, because someone will write this.  It’s inevitable…)

Advertising master David Ogilvy famously said, “If it doesn’t sell, it isn’t creative,” and “I do not regard advertising as entertainment or an art form, but as a medium of information.” Aim to be informative: useful.

Remember that your aim in blogging is to sell; creativity for its own sake is pointless, see tip #3.

6. Create a checklist for blogging.

Create a checklist for blogging. Your checklist could include:

  • Brainstorm blog post titles;
  • Create an outline;
  • Research;
  • Write the first draft;
  • Find or create graphics…

Your checklists and editorial calendar make blogging easier, and more effective, especially if you add items like: “create a goal” and “remember the takeaway.”

7. Arouse your enthusiasm. (Boredom comes across in your words.)

Are you bored? Snap out of it! Never blog when you’re feeling bored, it comes across in your words. Arouse your enthusiasm. When I feel bored, and know I need to write anyway, I read PG Wodehouse, or play a computer game. I love Wodehouse’s word play; he always inspires me.

8. Become a consistent blogger: create an Idea Bank.

Create ten ideas a day. You’ll soon have all the ideas you’ll ever need. Use Trello, it makes organizing your blogging easy.

When you deliberately force yourself to come up with ideas, and organize those ideas, you’ll become a consistent blogger. Store your ideas in Evernote, so that you can access them wherever you are.

So there you have it: eight easy writing tips to improve your blogging, and make sales.

Want more ideas? Check out Blogging Maestro.

 

, and on Twitter: @angee