Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Learn About Backlinks

Here's a great SEO (search engine optimization) tool for increasing traffic to your website ... check it out on my new website at Backlinks, or Why You Should Never Use, "Click Here". Please leave a comment and/or share it with your friends by clicking on a few of the social media icons below my post ... :)

Monday, March 26, 2012

New Website ~ Marketing Tool

Dear Friends,

I'll be on this blog from time to time, but most of my posts will be on my new website at www.theresasneed.com. After weeks of research and watching lots of tutorials and reading up on marketing etc., I went ahead and took the plunge! My website is hosted by www.hostgator.com and so far, I like them really well. I will be making regular posts about what I discover in the marketing world and keeping everyone up to date on the latest news with my books. Hope to see you over there!


~Theresa Sneed, author of No Angel and its forthcoming prequel, From Heaven to Earth.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Tagged Again & Loving It!

Mary L. Walling asked me these awesome questions:

1. When did you first realize you wanted to write books and what genre?

 I never imagined myself as a book writer until a few years ago. I recognized my love of writing and had written several articles, short stories, poems, etc., but the idea of actually writing a novel alluded me. I esteemed novelists on such a high pedestal that becoming one seemed a bit lofty to me. As far as the genre goes, my first book was realistic fiction with a slight touch of fantasy. It remains hidden in the bottom of my filing cabinet. My second book, co-authored with my dear friend, Kari Pike, is a self-help book which hides with my first book. My third book, Sons of Elderberry is total fantasy. It was buried for five years until recently and is my current "rescued" WIP. My fourth book, No Angel is my first book published. It is in a category called speculative fiction, but I've also heard it referred to as spiritual fantasy. Its prequel, From Heaven to Earth is due to go to press this month! I've already written an additional two books in my angel series and have at least three more in mind before that series is finished. I write in the mystery/suspense genre too and have a novel called Escape completed. It's the second in a two-book series and cannot be published until I  finish writing book one ~ after I complete Sons of Elderberry.

2. Who is your favorite book character and why? What is your favorite book?

My favorite book character is the wise Galadriel from the Lord of the Rings - I love her good choices. I also love Jane Eyre too - for the same reasons. My favorite book (next to religious books) is Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.

3. Life can be a little challenging sometimes. What do you do that helps you get through life's challenges?

I pray, then I ponder, then I thank.

4. I know that some of you do something special when you write. I like to drink iced lemon water and eat peppermint patties (sugar free) or yum, dark chocolate. What special something do you do when you write?

I drink lots of water. I've learned that soda pop is not my friend, but an addiction - as much as I LOVE it, I now try to avoid it. I really love to snack on blueberries and grapes...

5. My parents were my inspiration growing up. Who inspired you the most in your life? Why?

My mother was a great inspiration to me. She could make-do with nothing. She was kind and pleasant to be around. She was hard working and loved her family fiercely. She instilled a love of reading in me from reading to us regularly out of the back of an old set of Encyclopedia Britannica ~ Hans Christian Anderson, as well as the Bible.

6. I have traveled a lot in my lifetime. My favorite place to live was Colorado where there were four seasons and the beautiful mountains. Have you traveled and if so, what was your favorite place and why?

Though I currently live in the lovely state of Arizona, USA, my heart and soul are in my birthplace of Maine. I've lived all over the USA and have loved each state ~ AZ, OH, PA, UT, CA, NH, and ME. I traveled to Romania when in high school. Our band/chorus was chosen by Leonard Bernstein to be "ambassadors for friendship", and we toured the beautiful country of Romania, which is really neat, as my 19 yr. old son is serving a mission there right now!

7. I am going to borrow a form of question from someone else. Have you ever used a family member as a character in one of your books?

Oh yes! I have used family and friend's names in my books many times, but never their personalities, because that can actually limit you in character development. Usually, the only thing I use is their names. 

8. What have been the inspiration for the title of your novels? A person, place or thing?

I've written whole novels just from the title, although I've already had characters created. No Angel is about a guardian angel with an attitude - that's why I gave it the title No Angel, because he did not want to be a guardian angel. I was thrilled when my editor chose to keep that title, because that doesn't usually happen. The inspiration for writing No Angel came from wanting to write a fun story that had the workings of the spirit world as a backdrop. Though No Angel is fiction, there's a lot in it that I imagine to be true.

9. What great thing would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail? 

I would love to be involved in government, but in order to do so, I'd have to have a complete, unbiased understanding of how government works and how to best serve my country. So, if this was a "wish" thing ~ if I could truly attempt something with the guarantee of success ~ then, I would love to be a successful politician who could protect the rights and liberties of its citizens.

10. Are you a pushover for everyone who wants you to do stuff for them? Why?

I wouldn't want to be known as a "pushover", because that has a negative connotation of someone who is weak. I am not weak and the things that I am able to do to help others come from my heart and a sincere desire to help others.

11. How much impact does your childhood have on your writing?

My childhood experiences have developed me into the person that I am. My love for fantasy came from my mother reading to me. My fascination with Dr. Seuss books helped to develop the ability to look at things from wildly different perspectives. My passion for science kept me searching for the  "why and how" of things and a drive to believe that a greater intellect existed than that of man. My belief in angels came from incredible religious experiences as a child ~ so, I'd have to say that without doubt, my childhood experiences weigh heavily on my writing.

If you want to join in on the fun, here are your questions from me! Don't forget to link your blog back to my blog!

1. You're on a deserted island for six months with one person ~ who would it be and why?
2. You were caught in a meteor shower which left you with strange abilities. Now every time you eat chocolate, you can ... what?
3. A friend takes you to an abandoned castle that has been hidden for centuries. She heard a rumor that great treasure was hidden in the sixth tower. Would you venture inside or turn it over to the authorities to investigate? What would you find?
4. You can only drink one type of beverage for the next year - what would it be and why?
5. Have you ever had to face a fear of yours? What was it and how did you overcome it, if you did?
6. Have you enjoyed certain ages in your life more than others? What is your ideal age and why?
7. Has anyone totally amazed you in life? Who and why?
8. Have you ever written in a character in a story patterned after a real person ~ out of spite, because that person ticked you off?
9. Do any of your characters make you totally crazy because they have a mind of their own and take you places you hadn't planned on?
10. What is your most favorite phrase/paragraph that you have written? Can you share it?
11. If you could sit down and talk shop with any writer from any time period - who would it be and why?


Saturday, March 3, 2012

Social Media Marketing: Your Online Path to a Best Seller

Dave Eaton is a business owner with more than 30 years experience and has been instrumental in building several multi-million dollar companies. Dave is a Local Marketing Consultant for small business and his recent ventures include Online Marketing and Social Media Marketing.

Dave spoke at American Night Writers Association 20th Annual Writers Conference held at the Hilton Mesa Hotel on February 23-25, 2012.  His class focused on how to create a bestseller before a single page is in print using blogging, facebook, twitter and other online platforms to zero in on target audiences. Here are some of the many fascinating points he made:

Traditionally, in order to have a best seller, authors had to first write a novel then follow these steps: hire a publicist, write query letters to agents and publishers, attend writing conferences to meet agents and publishers, get their manuscript out to everybody, often settle with small publishing houses, go on the road to market their books, sell thousands of books then eventually stop selling and repeat the entire process with a new book. 


Eaton stresses that in today’s new social media frenzy, the traditional way is obsolete. You do NOT have to hire a publicist. You do NOT have to write query letters to agents and publishers. You do NOT have to attend writing conferences to meet agents and publishers. You do NOT have to get your manuscript out to everybody. You do NOT have to settle with small publishing houses. You do NOT have to go on the road to market your books, or even worry about the traditional book life ending after a period of time, especially with the exciting advent of eBooks.

Eaton says the first thing you have to do is brand yourself as an author using your name or pen name. You might also brand your book title too. He explains that SEO (search engine optimization) is how you will be “found” among the 50 billion pages that make up the World Wide Web. He says that Google has about 50 billion web pages – and everyone googles. If you type in a phrase like, “bestselling author” the results are ranked in order of your keyword(s). There are certain factors on how the sites are ranked for optimizing, but while today google might use 200 factors, chances are tomorrow they will be different as google changes their ranking algorithm 500 times a year.

There are two ranking factor categories:

1.     Online optimization, which receives 20% of ranking
2.     Off page optimization, which receives 80% of ranking. Eaton explains that back-links which come from an offsite source, link back to the site—the same way to get to your site from somewhere else and that back-links are like votes for a webpage.

Eaton states that understanding how the internet works is as important as writing your novel. It’s important to know how to find readers, find fans, find partners, promote your brand, have your voice heard by millions, and to know who your completion is. He gives us some Action Plans:

I.                   Action Step #1: Buy your own domain and host it
If you don’t, all of your credits or hits are supporting whoever owns your internet pages—you’re catching yourself in someone else’s plan. Your own domain should reflect your “brand” which is your name or pen name, so it should be wwwDOTyournameDOTcom, if not .com then it’s best to use .org, or .net. If none of those are available then add “im” or “iam” in front of your name or “yournameblog.com”. Eaton says that domains cost about $10.00 a year and hosting costs are about $50.00 a year.

II.                 Action Step #2: Install Wordpress on your Domain
You can google “wordpress installation videos” for help with that. He says that wordpress.com is NOT for your domain and you must use wordpress.org as you will then own all of your files, etc. Eaton says to then link any of your former internet pages (which still hold a lot of value—so keep them!) like blogspot, facebook, linkedin, twitter, etc. to your new domain.

III.              Action Step #3: Setup Social Media Accounts
If you haven’t already, setup a facebook fanpage (which requires a facebook profile initially), setup twitter, google+, and linkedin as well and any blogger accounts you now maintain then link all of your accounts back to your worpress.org blog under your new domain. All these links give your website authority and get it noticed.  Eaton says that the posts you create give you availability to give updated posts or CONTENT on your blog.

IV.              Action Step #4: Demographics
Eaton says you need to describe your reader in detail. How else will you be able to provide them meaningful content worthy of their time to revisit your site? He says that it’s important to have an understanding of your competition—what other authors are reaching your readers? And how big is your audience—the only way to truly know that is to interact with them.

V.                Action Step #5: Find the Conversation
Where do your readers hangout? You can check out “blogsearch.google.com” to search for blogs writing about interesting topics (content) and to look for writer’s forums google forum + google. He says to start blogging about something your readers can benefit from, make comments everywhere, write articles, tweet, retweet. Be sure to add value to the conversations, or your hard work will backfire on you—remember, you are a public figure now and you are building a reputation as part of your brand.

VI.              Action Step #6: Publish Something!
Just publish! He says self-publish in Kindle, get your name in article directories—just get your brand out there and watch it spread throughout the internet!




Tuesday, February 28, 2012

I've Been Tagged!


I've been tagged by Melissa Sugar-Gold!


1.     Name one thing you consider your biggest regret in your life so far.

I guess if I had to pick one, I'd still marry my husband exactly when I did, but I'd insist that we live in my home state instead of his. My mother passed away a little over a year after we married and we lived out-of-state. My father has since then passed away too.


2.     If you could go back in time and do things differently, what is something you would change?


Oh, that’s easy—I would’ve continued to get my degree earlier than I did and substitute taught in my children’s schools while they were growing up. I waited until my youngest was in first grade before I taught school.

3.     If you could travel to another time period, but you must agree to remain there for a full six months would you go? If yes what time period & where would you time-travel to the future or past?
Oh yes! I would definitely do that! I would time travel to when my mother was a teenager and hang with her just to get to know her.



4.     Would you rather be on the best seller list once (only once) or win the single ticket mega multi- state lotto?

I’d actually opt out of both, but if I had to choose between the two, I’d choose the bestseller list only once, even though I’d be sad to be just a one-hit wonder, I’d rather have earned it through my efforts than won it in a lottery.

5.     When you write in the privacy of your own home, what do you wear?
I wear just regular clothing—jeans t-shirt, sometimes my jammies.

6.     What was the happiest day or time of your life?
The happiest day of my life was the spiritual moment when I realized who I was, where I came from, and where I am going—no kidding, I spent most of my youth searching for that answer.



7.     Would you rather have loved deeply and been hurt deeply or have never felt true love before or the hurt that can go with it?
Interesting question—I have true love right now, and he’s never hurt me, nor will he. If his love held deep hurt from wrong doing, I’d choose never to experience it, but if the deep hurt were of a different kind, say the kind that would come from watching him suffer from illness or even premature death—I’d so take his love and the hurt too, and I’d continue to have hope for a future together past this life.


8.     If you current novel is made into a Major Motion Film; who would play your protagonist?
My current novel is called No Angel and it’s about an angel with an attitude. I patterned the main character after Sheldon Cooper on the Big Bang Theory so I’d have to say the actor that plays him—Jim Parsons. 


My current WIP is a wizard/fairy fantasy and the protagonist is a 15 yr. old boy, so any unknown, really cute actor would be perfect.

9.     If a movie was made about your life, who would you want to play you?
That’s too funny! I would definitely want someone who closely matched my personality, more than my looks—and someone completely unknown.

10.  Name one thing about you that you seldom share with others ~ or something that we in the blogosphere do not know about you.

Hmmm, let me think back in time—how about this—I don’t think that even my bff knows this! I had lots of friends in high school, but my best friends eventually became two boys my age—David and Bruce. We hung out all the time. They were a blast to be with because they were so smart and actually got my jokes! 

11.  You are a character and are being interviewed: What is your greatest strength? 
Worst flaw?

As a character my greatest strength is loyalty—no matter what my friend or family member had down, I’d stick by them. My worst flaw would be that it’d take me a while to remember my greatest strength—I’d struggle to “act” what I “believe,” but eventually, I’d be on it. 

Thanks Melissa!

And here the eleven campaigners I tagged and their questions! 
1. Lena Corazon
2. J
3. Scott Bury
4. Alexander Shostak
5. Nick Hight
6. Shan Jeniah Burton
7. Lara Schiffbauer
8. The Capillary
9. Jamie McHenry
10. Sarah F.
11. Bess Weatherby

1. You're on a deserted island for six months with one person ~ who would it be and why?
2. You were caught in a meteor shower which left you with strange abilities. Now every time you eat chocolate, you can ... what?
3. A friend takes you to an abandoned castle that has been hidden for centuries. She heard a rumor that great treasure was hidden in the sixth tower. Would you venture inside or turn it over to the authorities to investigate? What would you find?
4. You can only drink one type of beverage for the next year - what would it be and why?
5. Have you ever had to face a fear of yours? What was it and how did you overcome it, if you did?
6. Have you enjoyed certain ages in your life more than others? What is your ideal age and why?
7. Has anyone totally amazed you in life? Who and why?
8. Have you ever written in a character in a story patterned after a real person ~ out of spite, because that person ticked you off?
9. Do any of your characters make you totally crazy because they have a mind of their own and take you places you hadn't planned on?
10. What is your most favorite phrase/paragraph that you have written? Can you share it?
11. If you could sit down and talk shop with any writer from any time period - who would it be and why?





Show Your Love Contest

Follow this link to learn about this fun contest - only thing is, it's over at midnight February 29th!

LDStorymakers Conference

On May 4-5, 2012, I will be attending the 9th Annual 2012 LDStorymakers Conference  at the Provo Marriott Hotel, 101 West 100 North, Provo, Utah, USA. Last year's writing conference was way too much fun and held an enormous amount of great information for writers of all levels. I highly recommend it for any aspiring writer.

Here is the detailed schedule of their awesome classes:

2012 Workshop Descriptions                                  
Tracks: craft basics, advanced craft, genre, marketing/career development
**workshop is repeated

FRIDAY, MAY 4 


8:00 a.m. Check-In opens

9:40 a.m.

Pitch Perfect (marketing/career dev.) Lisa Mangum
You have 30 seconds to sell your book—Go! What do you say? How do you say it? This class will
help you navigate the pitfalls of a pitching to an editor or an agent and help you hone your skills
so that your next pitch is perfect.

Plot-storming from Character (craft basics) Paul Genesse 
In some cases the plot of a book drives the characters. However, characters that instead drive
the plot can make for a much more compelling story. We’ll focus on how to grow the plot from
your main character, which will make your story unforgettable to the reader.

Build-a-Blog Workshop – Creating Your Blog Doesn’t Have to Be a Bear (marketing/career dev.)
Tristi Pinkston
Bring your laptop and follow along as Tristi shows you, step-by-step, how to create your blog
from the ground up.  You will learn how to set up your blog account and bring it live, how to
choose your template and color theme, and which elements to incorporate to make your blog
more appealing to readers. If you don’t have a laptop, you’re welcome to attend and take notes.

**How to Practice: An Exercise in Rendering Talent Irrelevant (advanced craft) Howard Tayler
Your passion for a given pursuit is far more important than whatever talent you may or may not
have. I’ll show why this is the case, and how to use this information to excel as writers (or in any
other field, for that matter).

**Chemistry 101—Turning up the Heat in Romance without Crossing into the Fire Zone (genre)
Michele Holmes
Boy meets girl. Sparks fly. Readers blush . . . or not! Good romance isn’t about body parts, but
about emotional connection with characters and a story readers won’t soon forget.

These Is My Words*: How to Acquire Permission to Use Copyrighted Materials (genre)
Danyelle Ferguson 
Writing non-fiction often requires the use of copyrighted material. Knowing the what, when,
where and how of copyrights is enough to make any writer want to overdose on Tylenol. Avoid
the stress and come to this class to learn all the ins & outs of successful copyright permissions.
*Title from These Is My Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine by Nancy E. Turner

Beat out Your Novel (master class) Elana Johnson
Reserved Seating
For those who jump into writing with blank pages and nimble fingers, this is a quasi-outlining
class that will give you direction without making you suffer through the actual pain of outlining.
Blake Snyder’s “beats” will be used from his bestselling screenwriting novel Save the Cat to give
you a clear direction in the novel you haven’t written and an idea of where the holes are in the
novels you have.

10:40 a.m.

Hands-On “Fix the Easy” Workshop (advanced craft) Weronika Janczuk
In this “Fix the Easy” hands-on workshop, I’ll draw from both my writing and editorial
backgrounds as well as published and critically acclaimed novels to critique writers’ pieces and
demonstrate the step-by-step process of fixing problems on the sentence, paragraph, and scene
levels—questions of characterization, detail, world-building, dialog, sentimentality, voice, and
more.

Mechanics of POV (craft basics) Clint Johnson 
This class details all three components to point of view: person, tense, and
perspective/character.  Learn the options within each facet as well as their strengths and
limitations, when and why to use a narrator--or not to, and point of view trends in the current
publishing climate.  This comprehensive overview of both function and style will help any writer
master the nuance of written point of view.

**Creating an Awesome Author Website (marketing/career dev.)
Abel Keogh & Marion Jensen
The tools exist that any author can build an awesome website in less than 30 minutes with little
or no out-of-pocket cost. You’ll also learn what content should and shouldn’t be on an author’s
website. It you want an awesome web presence, this is the class to attend!  

Preheating the Oven: Warm up your story before you bake (craft basics) Karen Hoover 
Writing a novel isn’t just about sitting down and blasting out the word count—at least not for
most people. It requires thought and understanding of your characters and their actions before
they do them. This class will teach you how to put together more than just a character bible
(sorry Jeff). It will teach you how to expand on your world and characters, understand their goals,
motivations, and conflicts, and get your entire book plotted out all in one act (with several steps.)
It is a fun and visual way to put your story together—one I can pretty much guarantee you will
love.

**Writing young adult novels that kids want to read (genre) Janette Rallison
YA is a great market to write for, but to get an agent or editor’s notice, your book has to stand
out. Come listen to experienced YA author, Janette Rallison, talk about the elements your novel
must have to succeed.  She’ll talk plot must-haves, conflict, characterization, and voice.

It’s Beta with a Friend: How to find and develop good Beta Readers (advanced craft)
Crystal Liechty & Tiffany Pyper
Put simply, a Beta Reader is a person (generally an avid reader who is not a professional writer)
who reads your completed work and gives you feedback on it. This class will cover what a Beta
Reader is, how to find and train one, how to cultivate relationships with Beta Readers so they
continue to be a fruitful resource and why Beta Readers are essential to the novel writing
process.

Beat out Your Novel Cont. (master class) Elana Johnson 
Reserved Seating

11:40 a.m. Lunch


12:50 p.m.

It Came From the Slush: Crafting a Query That Will Get You Noticed (advanced craft)
Holly Root
Every agent has slush-pile success stories. The first step to becoming one yourself is writing a
killer query. In this hands-on workshop, audience-submitted queries will be reworked into their
best versions, and you'll get the inside scoop on what really makes a letter stand out.

The Hero’s Journey: It’s not Just for Fantasy Anymore (advanced craft) Annette Lyon 
First we’ll go over the character archetypes and the major steps in the classic Hero’s Journey,
then we’ll cover how to apply them to your work so you come away with the tools to draft faster
while producing a more powerful novel—whether you write YA, dystopian, women’s fiction,
historical fiction, science fiction, or any other genre.

Finances for Creative People: setting up your finances to support your dreams
(marketing/career dev.)  Sandra Tayler
Quitting your day job to write becomes far more possible with some simple financial organization
techniques. Even if you don’t want to live off a writing income, managing your money will help
you be able to afford the things you want and stop paying as much for the things you don’t.
We’ll cover organization, budgeting, and how to transition into a creative business. If time allows
we’ll also discuss taxes and incorporation for writers.

**Culture, Motivation, Flaws, and a Cat: Four Things Every Great Character Needs (craft basics)
Don Carey 
Tired of flat, boring characters that never seem to do what you want? Learn to write likeable,
well-rounded, obedient characters by understanding and applying these four basic principles.

**Creating Page-Turners with the Elements of Suspense (advanced craft)  Rachelle Christensen 
This class will teach writers to look at their novel and identify places where they might be at risk
of having the reader put their book down. Rachelle will teach you how to implement the
elements of suspense in every genre type and in every situation in your novel.

Non-fiction Sells Best – Fiction is Fun to Write: Why Not Do Both? (genre) Jerry Borrowman
Many authors love to write fiction because of the creative freedom it offers. But readers love
true-life stories. Books like Three Against Hitler and A Distant Prayer have inspired hundreds of
thousands of readers around the world. Learn why it may increase both your reach and personal
sense of satisfaction to write both fiction and non-fiction stories and how to get started.

Self-publishing in the New Age (master class)  Dave Wolverton/David Farland
Reserved Seating
Approaches to publishing electronic books, enhanced novels, print-on-demand books, and
getting a foothold as we transition from paper-based books to electronic books.  

1:50 p.m.

Beginnings (craft basics)            
Description forthcoming.

Writing a Series (advanced craft)                  
Description forthcoming.

Warning: Contents May Be Hilarious (genre) Sarah Eden
Being funny is hard. Writing funny is even harder. In this devastatingly amazing class on writing
humor, we’ll discuss the mechanics of humor, how to incorporate humor into your writing, how
to up your funny quotient, and a bunch of other stuff Sarah will probably have to throw in to fill
up the time allotment. Come laugh, cry, be amazed (and possibly bored) and learn the ins and
outs of humor in writing.

One Author, One Month, One Book—How to make NANOWRIMO work for you
(advanced craft) Julie Wright 
How to prepare for NANOWRIMO, how to accomplish NANOWRIMO, and how to recover from
NANOWRIMO—an intensive class that teaches how to make and set goals for your writing, and
how to improve on that book you wrote in 30 days.

**50 Creative Ways to Sell More Books and Market Your Brand (marketing/career dev.)
Trina Boice 
Selling books by the truckload is all about personal branding, JV partners, and creative marketing.
Learn how to better promote yourself, get sponsors to give you prizes to pass out and look like a
hero at live events, and think outside the box with your marketing strategies.

**Five Essentials of the Middle Grade Novel (genre) Jennifer Nielson
Finding the middle grade voice is a combination of five essential elements. This class will teach
participants how to get the most from each element, especially within a middle grade novel.

Self-publishing in the New Age, Cont. (master class) Dave Wolverton/David Farland 
Reserved Seating

2:50 p.m.

Agents! And Authors! And Bears! Oh My!!! (marketing/career dev.)
Michelle Wolfson & Kiersten White
Just kidding, there aren’t really any bears in the agent-author relationship, but sometimes there
might be surprises along the way. Hopefully, we can help you learn what to expect from the
agent-author relationship, and what to look out for before you sign with an agent, so that all
your surprises are pleasant ones instead of nasty ones.

Problem: The Core of Story (craft basics)  John Brown 
Problem is the core of a story’s premise. It’s the core driver for each story’s individual structure,
plot, and scenes. In this workshop you’ll learn the 3 main types of story problems, how to take
your story’s central problem and generate a specific structure and plot, and how to use a number
of trouble techniques to develop and complicate your story.

World building: Wrapping your head around a world, so you can wrap that world around your
story (genre) Howard Tayler 
Readers of genre fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror, steampunk, etc.) expect stories to be set
in fantastic worlds at once familiar and strange. We’ll talk about how to create these worlds, how
to take the right elements into consideration for your story, and how to keep all the pieces
straight.

Synopsis is not a Four Letter Word: Learn to Write one Without Rage (advanced craft)
Josi Kilpack 
Writing a synopsis is often seen as a necessary evil, but when properly executed, the task can
become a learning exercise, honing your craft and representing your story in its very best light. In
this class we will discuss why you should write one and then how to do it without feeling as
though the process is taking years off your life.

Historical Fiction: One Genre That’s Here to Stay (genre) Heather B. Moore 
Historical novelist, Heather Moore, will discuss why you can’t go wrong with writing historical
fiction as long as it’s done right. Topics include choosing time periods, world building, dialog
choice, avoiding info dumps, characterizing historical figures, expanding historical facts into plot
arcs, finding the right conflict to focus on, why you don’t have to be an expert or spend ten years
in research, how to use your non-fiction platform to sell your novel, and the unmentionables
(bibliographies, chapter notes, maps, endorsements from the “experts”).

**Finding Your Voice (craft basics) Jeff Savage 
Voice—agents ask for it, good authors are said to have it, you may even have been rejected for
not having enough of it. But what really is voice? What makes one voice unique over another?
And how do you find yours? This class will examine what voice is, the difference between YA,
MG, and adult voice, and how to make yours stand out from the rest.

Skeletons in the Spotlight: Five Different Ways to Write Your Family History (genre)  Liz Adair
Liz Adair will introduce five new ways to think about writing personal and family history. Perhaps
one of them will be the spark that gets you started on the story no one else can write.

3:40 p.m. Snack Break


4:00 p.m. Keynote Address: Kevin J. Anderson
 
SATURDAY, MAY 7 


8:00 a.m. Check-In opens

9:30 a.m. Kevin’s Eleven: 11 Tips to Increase Your Writing Productivity (advanced craft)
Kevin J. Anderson
Prolific author Kevin J. Anderson shares specific techniques on how to use every minute and get
more words written...and he practices what he preaches, author of over 100 novels, 50 of which
have been national or international bestsellers.

Writing the Children’s Picture Book (genre) Rick Walton
We will discuss what makes a good picture book, how to get ideas for picture books, and some
key things to remember when writing your picture book.

**Finding Your Voice (craft basics) Jeff Savage
Voice—agents ask for it, good authors are said to have it, you may even have been rejected for
not having enough of it. But what really is voice? What makes one voice unique over another?
And how do you find yours? This class will examine what voice is, the difference between YA,
MG, and adult voice, and how to make yours stand out from the rest.

Co-Authoring: Heaven or Hell? (advanced craft)
Heather Moore, Annette Lyon, Julie Wright and Josi Kilpack, co-authors of The Newport Ladies 
Book Club series, will discuss the various co-authoring styles used by this series and other coauthored books: when you should co-author (and when you shouldn't), outlining with a shared
focus, creating characters that complement each other, setting up drafting deadlines, staying
professional while maintaining friendships among your co-authors, blending different creative
minds, organizing writing time, working with publishers, and developing joint-marketing plans.

**50 Creative Ways to Sell More Books and Market Your Brand (marketing/career dev.)
Trina Boice 
Selling books by the truckload is all about personal branding, JV partners, and creative marketing.
Learn how to better promote yourself, get sponsors to give you prizes to pass out and look like a
hero at live events, and think outside the box with your marketing strategies.

The Ruthless Red Pen (master class) Tristi Pinkston 
Reserved Seating
This two-hour master class will focus on the deeper aspects of self-editing.  Nuances, tone,
clarity, flavor, rhythm, the way the words sound together as well as their meaning–all these
issues will be covered and more.  This is not your mama’s punctuation class–this is for authors
who want to dig deeper into their manuscripts and make them bleed for mercy. Bring plenty of
note paper and twenty pages of your own manuscript to work on in class.

10:30 a.m.

Self-publishing Panel (marketing/career dev.)
Self-Publishing doesn’t have quite the stigma it once had. Many authors are hiring artists and
professional editors to create books that are on a par with those produced by traditional
publishers. If you have questions of have entertained the idea of publishing independently, this is
the panel for you. There will be a Q&A of anything you want to know, and the authors will talk
about everything  from the steps in how to do it yourself, to formatting for e-books, to marketing
your work. A variety of presenters, from brand new authors jumping into the market, to those
who have spent years publishing independently will answer questions and talk to you about the
steps on how to publish for yourself.

Nobody Wants a Winnebago: Plotting Like a Sports Car (Or at Least a Sensible Hybrid)
(craft basics) Kiersten White 
Tips on how to streamline your writing to create an effortlessly paced, unputdownable novel.
From macro issues like how to analyze each scene in relation to the whole, seamless
worldbuilding, and inserting backstory without losing steam, to micro problems like fixing
technical mistakes that are slowing you down, we’ll go point-by-point with easy and broadly
applicable pacing fixes. Also I promise a minimum of bad car analogies.

Crafting a Killer Query (advanced craft) Jen R. Johansson, Kasie West, Natalie Whipple
This class will explain from the basics up through more advanced techniques of a good query and
pitch and go through how to craft a great hook, introduce character/conflict, explain what’s at
stake, and lay out the consequences in any given story. We will provide and walk through handson examples and craft/edit samples from the class and explain how to take a query and turn it
into a 2-3 line elevator pitch.

**Five Essentials of the Middle Grade Novel (genre) Jennifer Nielson
Finding the middle grade voice is a combination of five essential elements. This class will teach
participants how to get the most from each element, especially within a middle grade novel.

Finding My Inner Matryoshka: Am I Ready for a Critique Group? (craft basics) Liz Adair 
Liz Adair discusses the stages a writer goes through, from closet scribbler to publishable author.
She describes the anatomy of a critique group, shows how it can leverage your growth as a
writer, and gives tips on how to get a critique group started.

The Ruthless Red Pen, Cont. (master class) Tristi Pinkston
Reserved Seating

11:30 a.m. 

Social Media and Self Promotion (marketing/career dev.)  
Description forthcoming

Writing Science Fiction (genre)  Dave Wolverton/David Farland
What readers want from a satisfying science fiction novel.  Learn to analyze the global audience
and meet our readers’ needs.

There is No Try, only Do (craft basics) Nichole Giles 
The only way to truly find success as a writer is to finish what we start, believe in ourselves, our
abilities, and our work, and to never, ever give up. In this industry, the path of persistence and
perseverance is the only one that ends in publication. In the words of Master Yoda, “There is no
try, only do, or do not.”

**Chemistry 101—Turning up the Heat in Romance without Crossing into the Fire Zone (genre)
Michele Holmes 
Boy meets girl. Sparks fly. Readers blush . . . or not! Good romance isn’t about body parts, but
about emotional connection with characters and a story readers won’t soon forget.

**Creating Page-Turners with the Elements of Suspense (advanced craft) Rachelle Christensen 
This class will teach writers to look at their novel and identify places where they might be at risk
of having the reader put their book down. Rachelle will teach you how to implement the
elements of suspense in every genre type and in every situation in your novel.

Creating a Podcast from Scratch (marketing/career dev.) Jeff Savage
Always wanted to do a podcast but thought it sounded too hard? Podcasts are a great tool to
market yourself and your books. This class will take you step-by-step through planning,
recording, editing, and posting a professional quality podcast. Subject matter will include
everything from equipment to free software, and various hosting and tracking services including
getting your podcasts on iTunes.

People DO Judge Books by Their Covers: Understanding how covers work and how to design
one for the self-publishing market (master class) Crystal Liechty and Sandra Tayler 
Reserved seating
The first hour of this two-hour master class will focus on principals of good covers whether
commercially or self published. We’ll discuss good and bad covers, talk about the necessary
marketing decisions publishers make when designing covers, and introduce and explain the
necessary components of good graphic design.In the second hour we’ll use the information
we’ve learned to discuss how to create good covers. We’ll walk through the book-cover design
process using an actual author looking to self-publish her book (we will take students from our
initial meeting with her up until the final cover), look at how to design a cover yourself – and
when to know you’re in over your head, and go over how to work with graphic artists and
publishers/how to understand why they made the decisions they made.

12:30 p.m. Lunch and Chapter Contest Winners Awards Ceremony

2:00 p.m.

Setting Workshop: Standing in Place (and Time)—Setting at the Heart of Story (craft basics)
Molly O’Neill 
If writers are shaped by the places and times they live in, then surely characters and stories are,
too. This workshop will explore the myriad ways that a carefully-considered use of setting can
enhance every element of storytelling, from voice to plot to themes.

Lessons on Story from “The Hunger Games” (advanced craft) John Brown 
In this presentation you’ll learn 10 lessons on writing stories THE HUNGER GAMES has to teach
us, including why “been done” means squat, how Collins generates sympathy, rooting, and
suspense, what plot turns are and how to use them, and much more. Spoilers galore! It’s best if
you come having read the book first.

Sparking Creativity: Easy Ideas and Practical Solutions for Finding Your Next Story (craft basics)
Melanie Jacobson
After holding hands and singing Kumbayah (not really), students will knuckle down to the nitty
gritty of finding and developing plots and characters. This includes a range of strategies with
special focus on plotstorming. Participants will have the opportunity to join a plotstorming
session as the class works hands-on to flesh out one lucky class member's plot idea.

Leaping the Hurdles: Getting over the reasons you can’t write (marketing/career dev.)
Becca Wilhite 
You want to write, right? So what stands in your way? Finding time? Getting ideas? Writers’
block? Editing? Revisions? Come polish your track-star skills so you can leap over all those
hurdles and write, write, write.

The Price of Magic (genre) Amber Argyl 
Learn the difference between “soft magic” and “hard magic,” and which type best serves specific
kinds of stories. Also learn how to incorporate magic into your world building and tips on
creating and maintaining a believable magical systems (avoiding the dreaded Due Es Machina
magic).

People DO Judge Books by Their Covers: Understanding how covers work and how to design
one for the self-publishing market, Cont. (master class) Crystal Liechty and Sandra Tayler 
Reserved seating

3:00 p.m.

“Simulating the Slush Pile” Panel  Guest Agents/Editors
Do you wonder what exactly agents/editors are looking for in the slush pile? What makes a
submission stand out? What mistakes will doom a submission to slush pile obscurity? How do
they decide whether to keep reading or not? Our guest agents/editors will listen to moderators
read attendee submissions of their first manuscript pages (with no prior read-though), then give
detailed feedback on what works, what could be improved to work better, and share their
expertise on how to rise above the slush pile.

**How to Practice: An Exercise in Rendering Talent Irrelevant (advanced craft) Howard Tayler 
Your passion for a given pursuit is far more important than whatever talent you may or may not
have. I’ll show why this is the case, and how to use this information to excel as writers (or in any
other field, for that matter).

**Creating an Awesome Author Website (marketing/career dev.)
Abel Keogh & Marion Jensen
The tools exist that any author can build an awesome website in less than 30 minutes with little
or no out-of-pocket cost. You’ll also learn what content should and shouldn’t be on an author’s
website. It you want an awesome web presence, this is the class to attend!

Know What You Write: Research tips for fiction writers (craft basics) Sarah Eden 
Few words strike as much fear into a fiction writer’s heart as “research.” Every genre, from
historical to thriller requires some research. Where does an author start? Are some sources
better than others? How essential is research anyway? Sarah M. Eden shares tips of the trade
and advice on making research as painless, productive and accurate as possible.

**Writing young adult novels that kids want to read (genre) Janette Rallison 
YA is a great market to write for, but to get an agent or editor’s notice, your book has to stand
out. Come listen to experienced YA author, Janette Rallison, talk about the elements your novel
must have to succeed.  She’ll talk plot must-haves, conflict, characterization, and voice.

**Culture, Motivation, Flaws, and a Cat: Four Things Every Great Character Needs (craft basics)
 Don Carey
Tired of flat, boring characters that never seem to do what you want? Learn to write likeable,
well-rounded, obedient characters by understanding and applying these four basic principles.

Voice and Style (master class) Clint Johnson 
Reserved Seating
What are voice and style? How does one get them? Can they even be gotten? This 2-hour
workshop by Clint Johnson answers these questions. Clint defines and differentiates voice and
style, outlining how to develop and mature these attributes every writer naturally possesses.
Come prepared to learn dozens of approaches and exercises to develop voice and sharpen style.
Learn to analyze a variety of texts by successful authors with the goal of understanding yourself
as a writer.

4:00 p.m.

National Agent/Editor panel
Attend this panel of our national agents/editor to get answers to your questions.

Blog Like a Pro (marketing/career dev.) Elana Johnson
For those who already have a blog, know what blogging is, and are ready to take their web
presence to the next level using their blog.

Writing Effective Dialogue (craft basics) Jenn R. Johansson, Kasie West, Natalie Whipple 
This class will discuss/demonstrate how to effectively use dialogue to move the story forward,
when to use narration instead of dialogue, and how to avoid stilted dialogue and common
dialogue mistakes.

Writing Fantasy (genre)
Description forthcoming

Creating White-knuckle Thrills and Bone-chilling Suspense (genre) Gregg Luke 
We will discuss the basic elements of suspense/thriller writing, including characterization, pacing,
anticipation, detailing, and prose.

From Dry to Delicious: Creating Non-Fiction with Bite (genre) Danyelle Ferguson 
Learn how to interject personality, humor, and emotion into typically dry non-fiction topics and
turn them into projects agents and editors will love.

Voice and Style, Cont. (master class) Clint Johnson 
Reserved Seating

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

First Campaign Challenge ~ Flash Fiction 200 Words, Exactly!

One Day ~ He'll Come Back for Me

Shadows crept across the wall, or rather what was left of it. I pulled my thin sweater tighter around my frail body and stared numbly at the remains of the building, lost in the memories …

“Stanley?” My lips quivered as he uncovered the loosely wrapped cloth from my eyes. I don’t know what I expected, maybe a picnic spread, but certainly, not this! My hands flew to my mouth. Stanley had built me a house and not just any house, but from the looks of it, the beginnings of one of the finest homes in the neighborhood. I turned to him in utter bewilderment. “All the hours—this is what you were doing?” I brushed at a tear. “Why?”

He grinned, that wonderful sweet grin, “… for you, Tess.”

It always was.

Stanley was my life—everything that ever mattered came from him. How many times had I been back to this old building—a hundred? It was the last place I saw him—the last place I held him tight. One day—one day, he’ll come back for me. I slumped down against the wall as a warm light enveloped me, pulling me up to him.
“Tess …”
Click here to go to the linky to vote for my short story. I'm # 146.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tag! You're It!

Okay, I've been tagged by http://betsyloveldsauthor.blogspot.com/ So here are my answers to her questions:

1. What is your first memory of writing or reading?
My mother read to all of us out of the back of an old set of Britannica Encyclopedias ~ I remember being quite young on her knee while she read from Hans Christian Anderson ~ probably why I love fantasy!

2. If you could be a character in a book, which one and why?
Oh, so many to choose from! - I really like Galadriel from The Lord of the Rings ~ so much power and yet, she chooses the better way instead of ruling the world.

3. An unexpected package has just arrived for you. What do you hope is inside?
Something magical ~ like a do-it-yourself portal kit, either that, or a box of fresh apples shipped from Maine during apple season.

4. Which would you rather lose your hearing or your vision? Why?
I've already lost a lot of my hearing, probably from playing in a band years ago and its not so bad, in fact, now if my son decides to make a racket in the kitchen cooking something at midnight, it doesn't bother me (well, except for the mess in the morning.)

5. If you could travel to anywhere in the world where would you go? What would you do?
I'd visit the land(s) of my ancestors ~ direct links to Ireland, Scotland and England. I'd track down where my family lived and see if I can find living relations then I'd sample the local cuisine and visit the historical landmarks and castles. That's what I'd do the first few days, after that, I'd relax in a hammock in an old oak tree and use the rich scenery surrounding me as inspiration for writing.

6. If you could be a bug, which one would you choose?
Ick. Not much of a bug person ~ I guess if I had to be a bug, I'd be a bee - a queen bee.

7. When you're in your writing "zone" do you like to snack? If so what's your favorite?
I really like eating grapes - no guilt, good for you ~ but right now? I'm staring at a huge Reese's peanut-butter bar (YES! It comes in a bar now!)

8. Where is your favorite place to write?
I prefer to be outside surrounded by trees and flowers, but alas ~ I have to settle for my mostly quiet bedroom.

9. What is one thing you would change about yesterday.
I'd never have left my family in Maine, USA after I graduated ... I would've stayed right there and become a part of that community. I guess after you reach the age of adulthood, you want to get out on your own, right? I moved clear across the nation and attended college. Okay, so maybe I have a few regrets from that, but given the incredible experiences I've had in the many places that I have lived - I guess I wouldn't want to give those up either.

10. You've been given a million dollars. What is the first thing you would do with it? (You can't put it in the bank)
Well okay, I was thinking, "I'd pay my debts" and while that is VERY true, I doubt it'd be the first thing that I'd do. I think the first thing that I'd do would be to visit my grandson in Florida and take my other three grandchildren with me so they could meet him too. Then I'd buy a small condominium there so that we could have a place to stay and visit him frequently.


11. If you were give three wishes what you wish for? (No wishing for more wishes. One other warning, be careful what you wish for. It didn't turn out so well for the fisherman's wife.)
Real true wishes? ~sigh~ I'd wish for complete knowledge ~ to understand everything that exists down to the minutest detail. I'd wish for complete wisdom ~ to know the spiritual aspects associated with that knowledge. And I'd wish for the ability to speak and understand all languages ~ what a great thing that would be to freely speak with anyone and understand them in their own tongue.

Gosh! Now I have to come up with eleven questions and tag some new friends? Okay ANYONE reading this? TAG you're it! Answer these questions on your blog and link it back to mine!

1. You're on a deserted island for six months with one person ~ who would it be and why?
2. You were caught in a meteor shower which left you with strange abilities. Now every time you eat chocolate, you can ... what?
3. A friend takes you to an abandoned castle that has been hidden for centuries. She heard a rumor that great treasure was hidden in the sixth tower. Would you venture inside or turn it over to the authorities to investigate? What would you find?
4. You can only drink one type of beverage for the next year - what would it be and why?
5. Have you ever had to face a fear of yours? What was it and how did you overcome it, if you did?
6. Have you enjoyed certain ages in your life more than others? What is your ideal age and why?
7. Has anyone totally amazed you in life? Who and why?
8. Have you ever written in a character in a story patterned after a real person ~ out of spite, because that person ticked you off?
9. Do any of your characters make you totally crazy because they have a mind of their own and take you places you hadn't planned on?
10. What is your most favorite phrase/paragraph that you have written? Can you share it?
11. If you could sit down and talk shop with any writer from any time period - who would it be and why?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Master at Book Marketing

I've been neck deep in studying everything I can find to become a master at marketing. I say that with a smile, because it sounds quite ominous and time consuming as anything with master in front of it would, but I am determined to do just that ~ become a master marketer. For the past few weeks, I have immersed myself in possibilities ... I've decided that my first big jump in the marketing world will be to become an effective podcaster ~ note the emphasis on effective. I've engaged the expertise of fellow author and friend, Betsy Love, http://betsyloveldsauthor.blogspot.com in creating the beginnings of what I believe will become an extremely effective marketing tool. The name of our new and exciting podcast and accompanying blog is Sweet Peas in a Writer Podcast. We will be interviewing aspiring and published authors and allowing them airtime on our podcast to talk about their books, their writing experiences, and anything else that "pops" up. We will also be answering your writing/publishing questions, so make sure you visit http://sweetpeasinawirterpodcast.blogspot.com and leave your suggestions/questions. This is going to be an awesome venue for us all!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Effective Book Marketing

I'm learning all I can about the bare-bones truth behind effective book marketing. What I've learned so far is that, as in everything in life ~ large numbers of followers on your blogs or on facebook don't mean a thing, unless they are interacting with you. In order to have that interaction - you must give them a reason to want to read your blog. I heard in a seminar a few days ago that "banner advertising" on a social site is NOT social advertising. Personal blogs are going down, but "interest" blogs are on the rise. Why? Because we don't have time to invest in reading everyone's blog, as much as we want to - there's not enough time in the day. So, instinctively, we search out blogs that are a benefit to us for what ever product, information, or concept we are seeking. That's why banner ads are so ineffective - CONTENT blogs are what most people google-search for.
The secret to marketing success does not lie in merely purchasing names to follow you (I've heard that a high number of them are bogus names and therefore no good to you anyhow), but the secret lies in becoming an influential blogger - one who blogs about interesting and compelling content.
In the light of that, I have been searching the web diligently looking for great content that is not only beneficial to me, but hopefully to you as well.
This is something that I just recently discovered ~ yesterday ~ and I'm excited to become a part of it! It's a campaign that has been successfully run by a lady in Australia named Rachael Harrie. (click on Effective Book Marketing to go to her website)
I stumbled upon her web page through Robin Weeks who has a blurb about Rachael's campaign and how it was set up as a way for writers to network together and support each other. It's a fantastic idea and I can't wait to learn all I can to build a stronger platform for myself and my books. But the fabulous thing about this campaign is that it is designed to reach out and help fellow campaigners build their platforms too. I love that idea!
So, I will be blogging weekly about my efforts in this campaign and letting you know how this venture works! My goal is to become a nonstopable force in the book marketing industry and to help others realize that dream too.