Sunday, January 15, 2012

Writer's Jumpstart Tips for '12

When Night Falls

At the Top of '12, I'm looking back at my goals, and prioritizing. One long-term goal for some time now has been to return to painting. I've almost completed 2 paintings. Another goal was to write a mystery short story (humor), and The Coupon Killer was born. I plan more of Jemma Kowalski, named after an old wrestling favorite, Killer Kowalski. :) And I'd intended to launch the L.E. Klein name somewhere, so The Coupon Killer was a two-fer.

Due to seasonal flu stuff I missed doing a workshop on Writers Block, which will come later. So sorry, local Write-In people. But look forward to my mini sessions in '12. I love the pop-up sessions.

Like Most Writers, I'm fully charged to take off in '12 with all sorts of goals. To start off '12, I started a redo of my website, which has waited while I got my E-Pub Feet wet.

If you are fully charged to jumpstart your writing in '12, the following may help you. They are included at Writers Tips included at my website.  I am so hoping this helps someone. To start, here are my Twenty Top Tips for Writers:

The Biggest Tip of All: Do Not "Find" Time. "Make" Time. Think Positive, Be Aggressive in this goal. Mind set is everything.
1. Self Motivate; learn to use your personal carrots and triggers.
2. When Writing to Sell: Consider Your Individual Time Frames vs Your Attention Span
3. Protect Your Writing Time. Prepare in advance and avoid Vampires.
4. Edit off/away from Biological "Up" Time*
5. Work for self-reliance.
6. Block number of pages on a calendar
7. Focus on the Story's Theme/Thread Throughout; keep notes on it.
8. Finish the Piece! A completed project is truly your graduation certificate.
9. Prepare Yourself Psychologically. Be your own best friend with affirmations.
10. Get Away, Experience Life
11. Cut the Umbilical Cord. Send Your Piece into the Cruel World.
12. Keep Lists of Agents/Publishers, ref: Market Talk below *
13. Keep Databases, lists of ideas/character names/story ideas.*
14. Network in Person and Private, Talk with Other Writers *
15. Do Not Do As Others Do. You are an individual; weigh advice and choose only for your needs.
16. Write Business Letters and Mail Them on Regular Designated Day*
17. Use Ring Notebooks with Replacement Paper (if non-computer)
18. Do Not Compare Yourself to Other Writers
19. History Lessons: Know that you did the best you could, made the right choice, given the tools/knowledge at the time.
20. Learn to say "no." *Busy Work

Other topics are: Pre-Plotting and Plotting/What Do You Want to Write?/ How to Get Ideas/Dependable Story Nuggets/Understanding the Givens/You Have Your Idea/Begin Laying Plot/3 Yellow Brick Roads/Editing the Plot Line/Style, Impact Writing.

This is a massive offering, almost a mini-course itself.  I spend a lot of time on Plotting, because I "came into" writing with strengths of basic characterization and dialogue. But I worked really hard to learn Plotting.

I plan to redo the plotting flow chart, but it's still there. I think basic computer programming and flow charts helped me to understand plotting early on. What works in programming's If-Then, works in creative writing.

I hope you'll visit my Writer Tips section at my website. There are several pages, and I'm reworking/editing sections, plus adding an E-Pub tips section later.

And be sure to subscribe to my E-Newsletter for more insider stuff, including contests.

Note: Discard the Read More. There is More but at my website. :)

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Pseudonym or Not

NIGHT FIRE The use of a pseudonym is constantly on the tabletop of writer issues. My personal experience is: I started with Cait Logan, this because my real name is too long and unappealing, according to editors. Since I wanted to be published after 7 years of effort--back in the typewriter/carbon days--I went with a pseudonym.

So that's how it began. Then Silhouette wanted a different pseudonym, despite writing in the same subgenre as my Cait Logan name, so Cait London came along. I thought that was clever at the time, the use of CL and developed all sorts of CL stuff for marketing. (Please visit my booklist for more information and links.)

But today, I'm here. Amid epublishing my backlist and with Avon and Silhouette publishing my other books. You can find links to my booklist here. But now, I'm placing all my romance subgenre (western, romantic suspense/category/paranormal, women's) under the Cait Logan "Brand".

"Brand" has a lot to do with an author's name. Basically, that means a product that readers believe will be within their expectations of certain dynamics, i.e. as Cait London, I write romance, so there will be romance.

There is much discussion about the use of pseudonyms, and why. (I just mentioned my reason.) One reason an author might start a new pseudonym is a technique known to boost sales--if the primary pseudonym does not have the desired sales. Many authors do this; many editors recommend it when sales figures sag.

But at this time, I see other authors who have used their real names their entire career. And I believe that makes marketing on Twitter, Google+ and other social media much easier.

Recently, I wrote a short story which is not a subgenre of romance, under the name of L.E. Klein. Writers often add new pseudonyms when diversifying into new writing realms. Diversification allows the readers to know exactly what "Brand" they can expect. For example, Jayne Ann Krentz, beloved by many, many readers, writes futuristic romantic suspense and suspense; Amanda Quick (another name) writes regencies, and as Stephanie James, she wrote for Silhouette or Jayne Castle in MacFadden years ago. Apologies to Jayne Ann, who is a super long-term author, if I mucked those up. I admire her very much.

Another example would be Barbara Samuel, writing earlier as Ruth Wind, writing now as Barbara O'Neal. Yet a perfect example would be Nora Roberts writing as J.D. Robb, again 2 different styles/branding.

Many erotica writers take pseudonyms to fit into the genre, and/or because they wish their privacy.

The benefits of a pseudonym boil down to: privacy and branding of different styles. The disadvantages are that it takes a lot of effort in cross-marketing to draw attention to a new pseudonym, and that there can be confusion in doing so. Cross-marketing isn't easy and calls for development of a whole new style of ad work and that takes tremendous energy.

All this is a difficult choice. A very individual choice per writer.

Do you think a writer should maintain one name, either real or a pseudonym, or diversify?