Categories
Writing

How to Overcome Writer’s Block Once and for All: My Surprising Solution

You well know the frustration.

It comes time to write, and you can’t produce a single word.

Maybe you’ve tried for weeks, months, or even years. But still nothing comes.

You’re suffering the dreaded Writer’s Block while your writing dream, your story, and the message you long to share with the world all collect dust in the attic of your mind.

If you don’t find a cure soon, you’re going to give up—and your story will never reach the masses like you hoped.

Good news! I’ve discovered how to crush Writer’s Block once and for all, and my more nearly 200 books, 21 of which have been New York Times bestsellers, prove it.

You don’t have to quit, and if you already have, you can change your mind and get back to writing.

So what’s my secret?

I treat Writer’s Block as the myth it is.

“Wait!” you’re saying. “Foul! If it’s a myth why am I suffering from it right now?”

Believe me, I know what you’re going through. I’m not saying I don’t have those days when I roll out of bed feeling I’d rather do anything but put words on the page.

But I know how to get unstuck.

During my career I’ve learned to turn on a faucet of creativity—even when, in fact especially when, I find myself staring at a blank page.

My approach stops Writer’s Block in its tracks, and it can do the same for you.

How can I call Writer’s Block a myth when you and countless others seem plagued by it?

Let’s think this through.

If Writer’s Block were real, why would it affect only writers? Imagine calling your boss and saying, “I can’t come in today. I have worker’s block.”

You’d be laughed off the phone! And you’d likely be told never to come in again.

No other profession accommodates block as an excuse to quit working, so we writers shouldn’t either.

If writing is just a hobby to you, a diversion, something you can take or leave, it shouldn’t surprise you that you find ways to avoid it when it’s hard.

What Is Writer’s Block? Something All Writers Need to Know…

What we call Writer’s Block is really a cover for something much deeper.

Identify that deeper issue and you can overcome Writer’s Block and finally start writing.

Overcoming Writer’s Block: Confronting the 4 Real Causes

Want a PDF of this guide to read whenever you wish? Click here.

Cause #1: Fear

Do you fear you’re not good enough?

That you don’t know enough?

Do you fear the competition? Editors? Writing itself?

You have big dreams and good intentions, but you can’t get past your fear?

Would you believe all of the above describes me too? Yes, even now, every time I begin a new book.

Let’s be honest: Writing a book is hard.The competition is vast and the odds are long.

That kind of fear can paralyze. Maybe it’s what has you stuck.

Solution

So how can I suffer from that same fear and yet publish all those titles?

Because I discovered something revolutionary: After failing so many times to overcome fear,  it finally dawned on me—my fear is legitimate.

It’s justified. I ought to be afraid.

So now I embrace that fear! Rather than let it overwhelm and keep me from writing, I acknowledge the truth of what I’m afraid of and let that humble me.

Eliminating writer's block

Eliminating writer's block

Legitimate fear humbles me. That humility motivates me to work hard. And hard work leads to success.

That’s why fear doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

Better to fear you’re not good enough than to believe you’re great.

Dean Koontz, who has sold more than 450 million books, says:

The best writing is borne of humility. The great stuff comes to life in those agonizing and exhilarating moments when writers become acutely aware of the limitations of their skills, for it is then that they strain the hardest to make use of the imperfect tools with which they must work.

I’ve never been motivated by great amounts of money (not that I have anything against it!), but that quote comes from a man worth $145 million, earned solely from his writing.

How humble would you be if writing had netted you $145 million? Yet, humility is the attitude Dean Koontz takes to the keyboard every day.

If you’re afraid, fear the “limitations of your skills.” Then, “strain the hardest to make use of those imperfect tools with which you must work.”

That’s how to turn fear into humility, humility into motivation, motivation into hard work, and hard work into success.

Fear can be a great motivator.

Cause #2: Procrastination

Everywhere I teach, budding writers admit Procrastination is killing their dream.

When I tell them they’re talking to the king of procrastinators, their looks alone call me a liar.

But it’s true.

Most writers are masters at finding ways to put off writing. I could regale you for half a day with the ridiculous rituals I perform before I can start writing.

But my track record says I must have overcome Procrastination the way I have overcome Writer’s Block, right?

In a way, yes. But I haven’t defeated Procrastination by eliminating it. Rather, I have embraced it, accommodated it.

After years of stressing over Procrastination and even losing sleep over it, I finally concluded it was inevitable.

Regardless my resolve and constant turning over new leaves, it plagued me.

Solution

I came to see Procrastination as an asset.

I find that when I do get back to my keyboard after procrastinating, my subconscious has been working on my project. I’m often surprised at what I’m then able to produce.

So if Procrastination is both inevitable and an asset, I must accept it and even schedule it.

That’s right. When I’m scoping out my writing calendar for a new book, I decide on the number of pages I must finish each writing day to make my deadline. Then I actually schedule Procrastination days.

By accommodating Procrastination, I can both indulge in it and make my deadlines.

How?

By managing the number of pages I must finish per day.

If Procrastination steals one of my writing days, I have to adjust the number of pages for each day remaining.

So here’s the key: I never let my pages-per-day figure get out of hand.

It’s one thing to go from 5 or 6 pages a day to 7 or 8. But if I procrastinate to where now I have to finish 20 pages per day to make my deadline, that’s beyond my capacity.

Keep your deadline sacred and your number of pages per day workable, and you can manage Procrastination.

Cause #3: Perfectionism

Many writers struggle with Perfectionism, and while it can be a crippling time thief, it’s also a good trait during certain stages of the writing process.

Not wrestled into its proper place, however, Perfectionism can prove frustrating enough to make us want to quit altogether.

Yes, I’m a perfectionist too. I’m constantly tempted to revise my work until I’m happy with every word.

Solution

Separate your writing from your editing.

Perfectionism leads to writer's block

Perfectionism leads to writer's block

As I said, Perfectionism can be a good thing—at the right time.

While writing your first draft, take off your Perfectionist cap and turn off your internal editor.

Tell yourself you can return to that mode to your heart’s content while revising, but for now, just get your story or your thoughts down.

I know this is counterintuitive. When you spot an error, you want to fix it. Most of us do.

But start revising while writing and your production slows to a crawl.

You’ll find yourself retooling, editing, and rearranging the same phrases and passages until you’ve lost the momentum you need to get your ideas down.

Force yourself to keep these tasks separate and watch your daily production soar.

Cause #4: Distractions

It’s like clockwork.

Every time you sit down to write, something intrudes on your concentration.

Whether it’s a person, social media, or even a game on your phone, distractions lure you from writing.

Solution

How serious is your writing dream? If it remains your priority, It’s time to take a stand.

Establish these two ground rules to safeguard your work time:

  1. Set a strict writing schedule.

Tell anyone who needs to know that aside from an emergency, you’re not available. That should eliminate friends and loved ones assuming “you’re not doing anything right now, so…”

It’s crucial you learn to say No. During your writing hours, you’re working.

  1. Turn off all other media.

That means radio, TV, email, or social media.

When we feel stuck, our inclination is to break from the work and find something fun to occupy our minds.

That’s why Facebook, online shopping, and clickbait stories and pictures can keep us from writing.

When we should be bearing down and concentrating on solutions, we’re following links from the “10 Ugliest Actors of All Time” to “15 Sea Creatures So Ugly You Won’t Believe They Exist.”

Before you know it, your time has evaporated and you’ve accomplished nothing.

A Writer’s Block App I Recommend

To stay focused on writing, use a distraction-blocking app called Freedom. (This is an affiliate link, so I earn a small commission at no cost to you.)

Freedom allows you to schedule your writing time and blocks social media, browsing, and notifications on your devices till you’re done.

You set the parameters and can override it for emergencies, but it’s a powerful tool.

Other Strategies to Overcome Writer’s Block

1 — Just write. 

You don’t get better at anything without practice. Writing is no different.

John Grisham established his writing routine long before he became famous. He got up early every morning and wrote for an hour before work.

“Write a page every day. That’s about 200 words, or 1,000 words a week. Do that for two years and you’ll have a novel that’s long enough. Nothing will happen until you are producing at least one page per day.”

2 — Lower your expectations. 

You aren’t going to do your best writing every day. Show up anyway, do the necessary research, and write. Even when it’s not your best work.

“Never to sit down and imagine that you will achieve something magical and magnificent. I write a little bit, almost every day, and if it results in two or three or (on a good day) four good paragraphs, I consider myself a lucky man. Never try to be the hare. All hail the tortoise.” ― Malcolm Gladwell

3 — Get to know your characters. 

Instead of focusing on the big picture, the late bestselling author Tom Clancy thought about his characters:

“ … and then I sit down and start typing and see what they will do. … It amazes me to find out, a few chapters later, why I put someone in a certain place when I did.”

4 ― Read.

Writers are readers. Good writers are good readers. Great writers are great readers.

Read at least 200 titles in your genre.

Read everything you can get your hands on.

It’ll help you grow in your craft and inspire you when you come up empty.

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” — Stephen King

“Read, read, read. Read everything  —  trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.” — William Faulkner

5 ― Give yourself a break. 

Sometimes you need a break. Sometimes your best writing ideas come when you’re not in front of the computer.

“Plots come to me at such odd moments, when I am walking along the street, or examining a hat shop … suddenly a splendid idea comes into my head.” — Agatha Christie

“Some days all I do is stare at the wall. That can be productive, too, if you’re working out character and plot problems. The rest of the time, I walk around with the story slipping in and out of my thoughts.” — Suzanne Collins

6 ― Start at the end of your book.

John Grisham finds it helpful to begin at the end.

“Don’t write the first scene until you know the last scene. If you always know where you’re going, it’s hard to get lost.”

7 ― Brainstorm.

Set a timer and throw caution to the wind.

Think of ideas for a short story or novel.

Don’t worry about grammar, punctuation, or spelling.

Imagine great characters, names, traits, story settings, themes … anything that comes to mind.

All you need is the germ of an idea to start creating a story.

“Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any.” — Orson Scott

8 ― Get a change of scenery.

While having a space set aside for writing is important, sometimes what you need is a change of scenery.

Write in a coffee shop, the park, get away for the weekend by yourself. That may be just what you need to get your creative juices flowing.

9 ― Stop while you’re ahead.

Ernest Hemingway loved to stop when he was on a roll.

Always stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day … you will never be stuck. Don’t think about it or worry about it until you start to write the next day. That way your subconscious will work on it all the time. ”

Writer’s Block Quotes from Bestselling Authors

Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration; the rest of us get up and go to work.” — Stephen King

“My cure for writer’s block? The necessity of earning a living.” — James Ellroy

“Writer’s block is just another name for fear.” — Jacob Nordby

“I don’t believe in writer’s block. Just pick up a pen and physically write.” — Natalie Goldberg

“If I waited till I felt like writing, I’d never write at all.” — Anne Tyler

“If you tell yourself you are going to be at your desk tomorrow, you are by that declaration asking your unconscious to prepare the material. ‘Count on me,’ you are saying: ‘I will be there to write.’” — Norman Mailer in The Spooky Art: Some Thoughts on Writing

“The secret to getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.” — Mark Twain

All writing is difficult. The most you can hope for is a day when it goes reasonably easily. Plumbers don’t get plumber’s block, and doctors don’t get doctor’s block; why should writers be the only profession that gives a special name to the difficulty of working, and then expects sympathy for it?” ― Phillip Pullman

“The wonderful thing about writing is that there is always a blank page waiting. The terrifying thing about writing is that there is always a blank page waiting.” ― J.K. Rowling

“I don’t sit around waiting for passion to strike me. I keep working steadily, because I believe it is our privilege as humans to keep making things. Most of all, I keep working because I trust that creativity is always trying to find me, even when I have lost sight of it.” ― Elizabeth Gilbert

“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” ― Jack London

“What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks ‘the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat.’ And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come.’” — Maya Angelou

“It doesn’t really matter much if on a particular day I write beautiful and brilliant prose that will stick in the minds of my readers forever, because there’s a 90 percent chance I’m just gonna delete whatever I write anyway. I find this hugely liberating. I also like to remind myself of something my dad said in [response] to writers’ block: ‘Coal miners don’t get coal miners’ block.’” — John Green

“If I waited for perfection, I’d never write a word.” — Margaret Atwood

“Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.” — Barbara Kingsolver

“Don’t waste time waiting for inspiration. Begin, and inspiration will find you.” — J. Jackson Brown, Jr.

“You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.” — Jodi Picoult

“I’ve often said that there’s no such thing as writer’s block; the problem is idea block. When I find myself frozen–whether I’m working on a brief passage in a novel or brainstorming about an entire book–it’s usually because I’m trying to shoehorn an idea into the passage or story where it has no place.” — Jeffrey Deaver

Click here for more inspiring writing quotes.

You Can Defeat Writer’s Block

  • Stand up to it the way you would a bully
  • See it for the myth it is
  • Turn your fear into humility and humility into hard work

That’s how to defeat Writer’s Block once and for all.

Want a PDF of this guide to read whenever you wish? Click here.

Categories
Writing

How To Optimize and Update Your Published Articles and Blog Posts to Rank on Google

There’s no sugar-coating it: The world of SEO can be tricky to navigate — but it’s absolutely doable, even for the newest of newbies.

It’s so worth it, too. SEO is a powerful long-term approach writers can utilize to boost (free!) traffic to their websites or blogs.

Sure, you can build an SEO article from the ground up. (Might I suggest this writer’s guide to mastering SEO?) But it doesn’t have to be that complicated just yet. You can start by optimizing your existing content.

I’ll walk you through my approach — as a writer myself — to on-page SEO optimizations.

On-page SEO optimizations: What does that mean anyway?

Let’s start with the basics. In the SEO world, there are a ton of technical terms, but don’t let that scare you.

When we talk about on-page SEO optimization, we’re talking about taking an existing article or page and updating it to increase its chances of ranking on Google — aka attracting more eyeballs.

On-page SEO optimizations can be a relatively easy way to step into the SEO world. After all, you already have the content out there. You just need to make some updates so Google will take notice.

How to identify content worth optimizing for SEO

First and foremost: It’s not worth attempting to optimize every single article on your website or blog. You have to remember different pieces of content serve different purposes. Some will work better on social. Others are perfect for your email newsletter audience. And some just might have the potential to rank on Google.

So how do you determine which of your existing articles are worth optimizing?

I suggest starting with the low-hanging fruit. Using a free SEO tool like Ubersuggest, search your website’s URL. You’ll see which pages get the most traffic through Google and with what keywords. You might identify a great opportunity to optimize what’s already working well and climb the (Google) ranks.

If you don’t yet have enough traffic to your site, or you’re not spotting any obvious keyword potential, you can always do a quick DIY survey of your content.

When doing this, I like to think about what folks Google. I look for articles that take the shape of ultimate how-to guides, “best of” lists, product comparisons, recommendations, questions answered… you name it. These posts tend to be more all-encompassing and lengthy in nature. Perfect for Google.

Let’s take a quick assessment of some articles on The Write Life and use them as examples.

I’m seeing articles about the best laptops for writers, how to self-publish a book, how to get paid to write and a guide to Upwork. I suspect people are searching these terms, so these all have the potential to make strong SEO articles. (And in many cases, they do!)

On the other hand, something like “ways writers can recreate the coffee shop experience” probably isn’t something that gets searched a ton, so you probably wouldn’t want to focus your efforts on optimizing it. However, it’s great content for other platforms like social pages, community groups or newsletters.

Once you pluck a few ideas from your site, it’s time to dive in with some keyword research.

A step-by-step guide to the on-page SEO optimization process

This is the fun part of SEO optimizations (at least in my humble opinion). I’ll walk you through each step I take when optimizing an article for SEO.

Step 1: Pinpoint your target keyword

If you don’t already have a selected keyword, you’ll need to do some research. Remember, your keyword is the word or phrase you want to rank for on Google.

Use a keyword research tool for this. We love Ahrefs around these parts, but again Ubersuggest is a great (and free!) alternative.

So let’s say you want to optimize an article about cold brew coffee. Type the core terms into Ubersuggest. In this case, it’d be “cold brew coffee.” Leave out any unnecessary adjectives, prepositions or articles. Here’s another example: If you were optimizing a post about how to self-publish a book, you might simply search “self-publish book.”

Going back to the cold brew coffee example, when you search that term in Ubersuggest, you’ll find there’s a high search volume (49,500 when we looked). That’s great! That means tens of thousands of people are searching the term each month.

However, you’ll see the SEO difficulty (SD) is pretty high. (At the time we checked, it was 58.) The SEO difficulty ranges from zero to 100, and the closer you can get to zero, the better.

If you scroll down, you’ll find more keyword ideas. View all keyword ideas to see what related terms people search. Consider the different angles.

Remember: Your goal is to find a relevant keyword with a high search volume and a low SD.

Also, keep your reader top of mind. The keyword “how to make cold brew coffee” has a lot of potential — 33,100 monthly searches with a 22 SD. But if you want to optimize a review you wrote of the Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew from Starbucks, readers are less likely to click because you’re not giving them what they’re looking for.

For the sake of this example, let’s optimize our hypothetical article with the keyword, “how to make cold brew coffee.” It has a high search volume and a relatively low SD.

Step 2: Read Google’s mind

You’re about to read Google’s mind. Think you’re ready? It’s not as difficult as you might think!

In this step, your goal is to better understand what Google considers top-ranking material for this keyword. Really, you’re just surveying your competition.

Here’s what you’ll need to do: Search your target keyword in Google, and take a good look at the first page of results. Start taking notes on:

  • The top-ranking articles: Read through the top three to five ranking articles. What content do they cover? What questions do they answer? Take inventory of headlines, formatting, tables and graphics.
  • The featured snippet: For some keywords, Google will populate what’s called a “featured snippet.” This is the box of text that populates at the top of your Google search. Note the content it’s highlighting. This is Google saying, “Hey, here’s the best answer!” If you can rank in this top spot, you’ll get more views, but fair warning: It’s pretty tough.
  • People also ask: This box contains questions related to your keyword. Consider: Are these relevant questions you could answer in your article? For instance, people also ask, “Can regular coffee be used for cold brew?” You could probably easily answer this somewhere in your article: “You can use regular coffee for cold brew. In fact, you can use any sort of coffee you’d like.”
  • Related searches: Finally, scroll down the related searches at the bottom of the first page. See if anything stands out. You might get some good ideas for topics you can add to your existing content like, “how to make cold brew in a mason jar” or “how to strain cold brew coffee.”

Again, the goal here is to simply take inventory and survey your competition. In a way, you’re getting inside Google’s brain to see what it “likes.”

Step 3: Beef up your article

It’s finally time to write!

With on-page optimizations, you’ll work with the existing content you have. There’s rarely a reason to delete everything and start over. You simply want to beef up your article with additional information, reporting, graphics or sections you noted in step two.

Of course, you never want to copy what exactly another top-ranking site is doing. Make this your own! But maybe one article included a neat graphic, and that sparked an idea. Or maybe another article listed several cold brew coffee recipes at the end of their guide. Perhaps you add one or two of your own. Again, use your research as inspiration and guidance — not your rulebook.

As you work, keep your reader in mind. This is one reason I love SEO writing — your goal is to serve the reader and give them all the information they’re seeking. Now, this doesn’t mean you want to jam-pack your article with every single element you noted from the top-ranking articles.

Instead, ask yourself: If I wanted to learn how to make cold brew coffee, what would I want or need to know?

Additionally, maintain your natural writing style and voice. Although SEO writing may feel a bit more prescriptive, you’re not writing for a robot. Avoid keyword-stuffing at all costs. (That means awkwardly wedging keywords into your post.) Again, SEO is all about the reader.

You’ll want to pay close attention to your headline (or title tag), excerpt (or meta description), you subheads (or H2) and your image descriptions. If you can do so naturally, include your keyword in these.

Links also help boost page rankings, so find opportunities to link out to credible sources. Or, once you republish your newly refreshed article, see if you can find other pages to link to it on your site (again, when relevant!).

Step 4: Give it a week and check in

The optimization process is ongoing, and it’ll likely take a good bit of experimenting.

Once you update your content, give it a week or so before checking in on it. Again, you can use Ubersuggest to peep your top pages and keywords.

After a few months, take another look at what’s ranking on Google for your intended keyword, and see if there’s anything else you can do to boost your rankings.

The ultimate key? Patience and persistence. The optimization process is ongoing. Google is constantly shifting its algorithms, and new articles are jumping in to compete for those rankings each day. Just keep your fingers to the pulse, and keep working. I have faith you’ll land on the magical Page One eventually!

Got an article in mind you’d like to optimize? Share your updates in the comments below!

Photo via franz12 / Shutterstock 

Categories
Writing

e-Book Cover Design Awards, September 2020

Welcome to the e-Book Cover Design Awards. This edition is for submissions during September, 2020.

This month we received:

35 covers in the Fiction category
7 covers in the Nonfiction category

Guest Judge

We are once again pleased to welcome Tanja Prokop to The Book Designer as a guest judge this month. Tanja was born in Germany, but lives and was raised in Croatia. Her three beautiful daughters and her amazing husband are her biggest inspiration in life. She has an MA degree in German language and literature and philosophy. A few years ago she started her own design company and became a professional book cover designer. She designs covers, and is constantly creating new visual experiences for her clients. Tanja is also a multiple winner of various book cover design contests and has created thousands of covers. You can find her pre-made covers at Book Design Templates, or visit her site at www.bookcoverworld.com.

Comments, Award Winners, and Gold Stars

I’ve added comments (TP: ) to many of the entries, but not all. Remember that the aim of these posts is educational, and by submitting you are inviting comments, commendations, and constructive criticism.

Thanks to everyone who participated. I hope you enjoy these as much as I did. Please leave a comment to let me know which are your favorites or, if you disagree, let me know why.

Although there is only winner in each category, other covers that were considered for the award or which stood out in some exemplary way, are indicated with a gold star:

Award winners and Gold-Starred covers also win the right to display our badges on their websites, so don’t forget to get your badge to get a little more attention for the work you’ve put into your book.

Also please note that we are now linking winning covers to their sales page on Amazon or Smashwords.

Now, without any further ado, here are the winners of this month’s e-Book Cover Design Awards.


e-Book Cover Design Award Winner for September 2020 in Fiction


James Egan submitted Black Tie Required designed by James T. Egan of Bookfly Design.



TP: I love, love, love everything about this cover! Amazing work!

e-Book Cover Design Award Winner for September 2020 in Nonfiction


Jordan Barnes submitted One Hit Away: A Memoir of Recovery designed by Jordan Barnes. “This image conveys the immediacy of opiate addiction, and the urgency for escape and recovery. The bold colors, a flash of warning and blood, capture the eyes, drawing the reader into the chaotic landscape of confusion and smoke. The subject is faceless, as this is not only one man’s burden to bear.”



TP: Amazing! The illustration is beautiful and the combination of the imagery and typography is spot on!

Fiction Covers


Alexis Johnson submitted The Seventh Year Trials designed by Maria Spada.

The Seventh Year Trials
TP: A beautiful cover design with amazing typography. Beautiful!


Amari Utomo submitted Tidal designed by Amari Utomo. “The poetic, deliberately water-less image and large sans-serif font were to demonstrate both the power and breadth of tidal systems, and to indicate how humanity may run aground, given climate change.”

Tidal
TP: This is a very interesting cover design. The image itself allows a lot of room to play with the title, so I would say that his is the only thing I miss here. The typography is too simple in a way.


C.D. Watson submitted Apocalypse Weird designed by Christine Savoie, Bayou Cover Designs.

Apocalypse Weird
TP: A very appealing design with strong design elements. Nice job!


Caroline Walken submitted In Hiding designed by Talia from Book Cover Kingdom. “In Hiding began as a 1500 word short story entry, once it was selected for publication I returned to the keyboard to complete the saga. Bookcover Kingdom took my synopsis and some random images I used as motivation. From those few scraps, Talia created this eye catching cover.”

In Hiding
TP: A nice cover design that could have a more popping title, maybe. I would also suggest a stronger font for the author’s name.


Christopher Kezelos submitted The Sasquatch of Jackson Farm designed by George Evangelista. “The cover image of the Sasquatch was designed by George Evangelista. The logo, copy, and layout were produced by one of the co-authors, Christopher Kezelos. The logo is a comprised of StringFellows and Bizon fonts, with extra leaf and flower flourishes added separately.”

The Sasquatch of Jackson Farm
TP: Such a nice cover design. I really love the image and the title accompanies it well.


Colleen tice submitted Broken Spirit Beautiful Heart designed by Colleen tice. “Broken Spirit Beautiful Heart’ s cover represent the main character’ s struggle of forgiving her childhood abuse.”

Broken Spirit Beautiful Heart
TP: I have to say that the images are working amazingly well together but the typography is completely unreadable in a thumbnail size. With a strong typography approach, this cover would be a winner.


Dawn Bates submitted Moana designed by Jerry Lampson. “Moana gazes directly at the reader, presenting as a universal female archetype who, despite her traumatic journey still projects undiminished strength and compassion. Principal typeface: TT Moons contains both masculine & feminine characteristics while being strong, clear and readable.”

Moana
TP: This cover is very well structured where all important elements are visible and prominent. The cover, however, looks more as if it was a poster. All in all, a great design.


Ebook Launch submitted August Origins designed by Ebook Launch.

August Origins
TP: Strong typography and well chosen colors.


Ebook Launch submitted A Brief History of Several Boyfriends designed by Ebook Launch.

A Brief History of Several Boyfriends
TP: A great cover design. I love the typography treatment!


Ebook Launch submitted The Lonely Bones of Cycle Jones designed by Ebook Launch.

The Lonely Bones of Cycle Jones
TP: The whole cover is amazingly structured and very nicely designed. Great work!


Elle Madison submitted Of Thorns and Beauty designed by Covers by Combs. “The darker hues and edges for a gritty tone to a classic retelling. Silhouette instead of face because character is always hiding in shadows. Clouds around castle symbolize encroaching evil.”

Of Thorns and Beauty
TP: A beautiful cover design!


Estelle Grace Tudor submitted Octavia Bloom and the Missing Key designed by 100 Covers. “The cover relates to the fairy door Octavia discovers and of the key she has to find in order to go through the door into Fairy Land to complete her quest. The scroll and ornate lettering fits the fairytale/fantasy theme well.”

Octavia Bloom and the Missing Key
TP: Very genre-appropriate and well designed.


Gesine Schulz submitted Punsch, Plätzchen & Pistolen designed by James. “”Punch, Cookies & Pistols: Xmas crime stories from cozy to cheerful” is roughly the translation of the German title of my collection of short crime stories. When I discovered this premade cover on James’ website I immediately bought it because it captures the mood of the book.”

Punsch, Plätzchen & Pistolen
TP: The whole designs is consistent with every element in it’s right place. The title of the book sounds very interesting and the design will definitely help the sales of this book. Sehr gut!


Glen Dahlgren submitted The Child of Chaos designed by Glen Dahlgren/Cindy Wentzell. “I wanted to make sure the cover “made a promise that the book could keep.” It is an actual scene from the climax, and the dice are not metaphors (of course, the CHAOS letters are not literal in the story). The characters and colors are all from the actual scene. I hope you like it!”

The Child of Chaos
TP: This cover is very genre-appropriate and appealing. I just think that the title should be more emphasized. All in all a great cover design.


Helen Vdovychenko submitted Striker designed by MiblArt.

Striker
TP: I really love the typography treatment here. Amazingly well done!


J. Scott Coatsworth submitted The Shoreless sea designed by J. Scott Coatsworth/Kelley York – Sleepy Fox Designs. “The cover is a metaphorical version of the generation ship in the story, and the tree is an important part of the third part of the story, representing renewal and the choice of a different path for mankind.”

The Shoreless sea
TP: The background image is amazing! I can see what the designer wanted to achieve with the title, but because of the different spacing between the letters, the title isn’t balanced. If only the title was differently structured, this cover would be a winner!


James Egan submitted Breaking Gods designed by James T. Egan of Bookfly Design.

Breaking Gods
TP: Another great cover design. The images and the typography are spot on!


James Egan submitted The Nine designed by James T. Egan of Bookfly Design.

The Nine
TP: A dynamic, appealing and professionally designed book cover. Very well done!


James Egan submitted Fair as a Star designed by James T. Egan of Bookfly Design.

Fair as a Star
TP: When a designer knows what he is doing, then such covers happen. Genre-appropriate and beautiful! Great job!


Jovana DDD submitted Magic Uncorked designed by Dragana from Deranged Doctor Design. “Fantasy book cover design, Midlife Magic Cocktail Club Book 1”

Magic Uncorked
TP: A nice cover design with appealing typography. Nice work!


Jovana DDD submitted Bewitching Bitters designed by Dragana from Deranged Doctor Design. “Fantasy book cover design, Midlife Magic Cocktail Club Book 2”

Bewitching Bitters
TP: A very interesting book series with good and recognizable design elements.


Jovana DDD submitted Crumbling World designed by Milo from Deranged Doctor Design. “Post-Apocalyptic book cover design, Surviving the End Book 1”

Crumbling World
TP: Strong colors and great typography. Very well done!


Jovana DDD submitted Fallen World designed by Milo from Deranged Doctor Design. “Post-Apocalyptic book cover design, Surviving the End Book 2”

Fallen World
TP: It isn’t always easy to create book series designs, but Milo really has a doctoral degree when it comes to this. Great work!


Jovana DDD submitted New World designed by Milo from Deranged Doctor Design. “Post-Apocalyptic book cover design, Surviving the End Book 3”

New World
TP: Beautiful work!


Jovana DDD submitted The Idea Man designed by Marushka from Deranged Doctor Design. “Thriller book cover design, The Idea Man Trilogy Book 1”

The Idea Man
TP: The whole series design is very appealing, but not overemphasized. It is spot on!


Jovana DDD submitted The Marked Man designed by Marushka from Deranged Doctor Design. “Thriller book cover design, The Idea Man Trilogy Book 2”

The Marked Man
TP: Very well done!


Jovana DDD submitted The True Man designed by Marushka from Deranged Doctor Design. “Thriller book cover design, The Idea Man Trilogy Book 3”

The True Man
TP: This is my favourite cover design in the series. They are all very beautiful as single covers, but as a series, they look amazing!


K.D. Ritchie submitted Fallen Academy Year One designed by Story Wrappers.

Fallen Academy Year One
TP: The cover design contains all important elements for a successful cover design and good sales. Great work!


Karri Klawiter submitted Heir of the Curse designed by Karri Klawiter.

Heir of the Curse
TP: Nice typography and imagery. Beautiful.


KD Ritchie submitted The Vigilante’s Magic designed by Story Wrappers.

The Vigilante's Magic
TP: A nicely balanced cover design. The combination of silver and red looks great.


KD Ritchie submitted American Witch designed by Story Wrappers.

American Witch
TP: A really well done cover design.


Michael Angel submitted The Devil’s Noose (Plague Walker Medical Thrillers Book 1) designed by Deranged Doctor Design. “Curious to see if you find this an image that’s effective at bringing in readers to a medical thriller!”

The Devil’s Noose (Plague Walker Medical Thrillers Book 1)
TP: A great combination of colors and fonts.


Simon Markusson submitted The Untoward designed by Nabin Karna. “A man seeks to evade his fate. A nebulous color palette, stark silhouettes, mists and shadows illustrate that the path will not be straight. The use of space as well as vast scale surrounding the figure conveys the insignificance of mortals next to the powers that be.”

The Untoward
TP: Beautiful work!


Timothy Browne submitted The Gene designed by Brett Pflugrath.

The Gene
TP: Very simple and strong. Maybe the subtitle would look a little bit better, if it wasn’t so close to the title. But that is just a small suggestion, other than that, very well done!

Nonfiction Covers


Ebook Launch submitted Bursting With Happiness designed by Ebook Launch.

Bursting With Happiness
TP: A very nicely balanced cover design. Great work.


Karine Kala submitted Riche de vie designed by Elian. “The colorful cover represents the colorful experiences I had in my life. The design represents the inner reflexions and realizations about life I describe in the book.”

Riche de vie
TP: The image is very nice, but I think that a bit more work should be invested in the title treatment.


Kkmal Hamouda submitted Recreational Mathematics designed by Kkmal Hamouda. “The final design of a book cover. It represents the material inside and beauty of non-fiction new mathematics. An important attractive fields of Recreational Mathematics.”

Recreational Mathematics
TP: The color combination doesn’t work well together. The title should be more emphasized and the actual mathematical operations on the cover should be minimal. This should be appealing while explaining what the book is about. Simpler colors and a professional approach would do the trick.


Kyle Houston submitted Patchwork Junkie designed by Lance Buckley. “The images used are either pictures from my past, symbolic things or relevance to the setting of the book. Enjoy”

Patchwork Junkie
TP: A great cover design! Very well done!


Martin Sawa submitted The Other Side of Success designed by Paul Barrett.

The Other Side of Success
TP: I really love the colors and the appeal of this cover, however, when you want to avoid to cover an image with the typography, then a different kind of justification would probably work better. This way the title looks a bit shifted.


Sabìnah Adewole submitted A Child’s Journey Through Poetry Hobbies Skills Talents Volume 2 designed by Freelancer.com.

A Child’s Journey Through Poetry Hobbies Skills Talents Volume 2
TP: An interesting cover design, even though I would love to see a more professional approach here.


Wageedah Salie submitted The Microchip Revolution designed by Wageedah Salie.

The Microchip Revolution
TP: I have to say that this is a really nice looking cover design. Nice work.


Well, that’s it for this month. I hope you found it interesting, and that you’ll share with other people interested in self-publishing.

Use the share buttons below to Tweet it, Share it on Facebook, Link to it!

Our next awards post will be on November 30, 2020. Deadline for submissions will be October 31, 2020. Don’t miss it! Here are all the links you’ll need:

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Categories
Writing

List of Halloween Words

By Maeve Maddox

background image 146

A reader asks,

Could you comment on Halloween words such as jack-o’-lantern vs jack o’ lantern and Trick-or-treat vs Trick or treat?

I’ll add the word Halloween to the list. If all that is wanted is a guide to spelling and hyphenation, here’s how the words are handled in my two main dictionary references:

Oxford English Dictionary

jack-o’-lantern, jack-a-lantern
trick or treat (given under the entry for trick); trick-or-treating (verbal noun and present participle adjective).
Hallow-e’en

Merriam-Webster

jack-o’-lantern
trick or treat
Halloween

jack-o’-lantern
Why a “jack”-o’-lantern” and not some other given name?

Ever since the Middle Ages, a diminutive of the perennially popular man’s name John has been Jack. Because of the ubiquity of the name, it came to stand for any man in general, finding its way into a variety of expressions such as jack-of-all-trades, and jack-in-the-box.

Before jack-o’-lantern, we had jack-with-the-Lantern (1663), meaning, “night watchman.”

In addition to its literal meaning of “man carrying a lantern,” jack-o’-lantern was used to refer to the ignis fatuus or will-o’-the-wisp. Its most common meaning nowadays is “a hollowed vegetable carved with a face and lighted with a candle placed inside.” In the US, the pumpkin is the vegetable of choice, but in Ireland, turnips are used.

trick or treat
The earliest documented use of the term “trick or treat” dates from 1927, in a Canadian publication, but the custom of demanding food treats on October 31 originated in the pagan Celtic past.

In the Celtic calendar, October 31 was the last day of autumn. November 1 was the day the cattle were brought in to shelter for the winter. The time was marked by the fire festival Samhain, observing a liminal time when a weakened boundary between this world and the other permitted spirits, those of fairies and of the dead, to cross. People left gifts of food and drink outside for them. In time, the practice shifted from leaving food outside for the spirits to giving it to people who went from door to door. According to an article in the Sun, young people in Scotland and Ireland “would visit their neighbors’ house and sing a song, recite a poem or perform another sort of ‘trick’ before receiving a treat of nuts, fruit or coins.” In the Middle Ages, poor people would visit the houses of the rich to receive pastries in exchange for praying for the homeowners’ dead relations.

The noun is trick-or-treating.

Halloween
The word is a shortening of All-Hallow-Even, the eve of the Christian festival of All Hallows, in remembrance of all departed saints. Originally, the Christian feast was held in May, but was moved to November in the eighth century, where it subsumed the still-popular pagan festival.

Hallow derives from the Old English word for holy. As a verb, hallow means, “to make holy.” Lincoln uses the word in the Gettysburg Address: “But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground.”

Note on pronunciation
Many Americans tend to pronounce Halloween as if the Hallow were spelled Hollow, a tendency that leads to misspellings of the word Hallows. The a in both hallow and Halloween is pronounced as a short a (as in at).

Want to improve your English in five minutes a day? Get a subscription and start receiving our writing tips and exercises daily!

Keep learning! Browse the Expressions category, check our popular posts, or choose a related post below:

Categories
Writing

Why You’re a Writer Who Can’t Finish Anything (and Will NaNoWriMo Really Help?)

I work with a lot of writers who have a big problem. They have a million ideas for stories and lots of different characters running through their head at any given moment, and they start so many different projects with the wildest of hopes and a fiery burst of enthusiasm. But they never finish anything. These writers have a drawerful of unfinished stories (or a folder on their laptop) and every time they think about all the stories they’ve started—or thought about starting—and never finished, it instantly triggers a tidal wave of shame and self-loathing.

Almost all of these writers have assumptions and theories about why they are this way. They get bored too easily, they’re too “ADD” with projects, they can’t follow through, they’re spacey or flaky or scattered. And the very worst: they just aren’t cut out to be writers.

None of these are true. Every single one is a self-deprecating illusion that the writer’s inner critic is using to manipulate and control them so that the writer never, ever makes the ego uncomfortable by taking an actual creative risk.

What happens though is that, over time, the writer comes to identify with this “failing” they see in themselves. Their identity as a writer becomes that of “the writer who never finishes anything,” and then the brain emotionally attaches to this identity and becomes resistant and defiant whenever the writer tries to move outside of that constricting (and untrue) label. Because a lot of the time our brains would rather be right than be happy. The ego wants to feel safe and it clings on to what’s familiar, even if that familiar “safe” thing is holding us back in life and causing us pain in the long run.

Something like NaNoWriMo can definitely help writers with this, because if they throw themselves into the challenge, they start to see evidence that they CAN show up, they CAN do it. They start to build a new identity as a writer who walks their talk and follows through on their commitments. However, it can be hard to build and sustain this new identity—and keep it intact in its oh-so-delicate infancy—all alone. It’s the same concept as recovery support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous. Sure, a person can quit drinking on their own. It IS theoretically possible for people to deactivate and detach from dysfunctional behavior patterns without outside help, but studies have shown that a person’s chances of success when making big behavioral shifts increase astronomically if they have the support of others behind them, especially if those others are on the exact same journey.

This is what my new, live class, the Creative Commitment Challenge, is all about. We’re going to be doing 30 days of live, silent writing sessions over Zoom for the entire month of November. So whether you’re doing NaNo—or you’re not doing NaNo but you’re still ready to stop thinking and start actually DOING something about your writing—this class provides the support and community structure you need to shift your behavior, and ultimately your identity, as a writer.

I talk more about this concept, and the class itself, in the video below:

If you missed the first two videos in the series, you can find them here:

Video #1: I’m a Writer but I Hate Actually Writing. What’s Wrong with Me?

Video #2: Is NaNoWriMo Good or Bad for Intuitive Writers? The Answer Might Surprise You.

I’ll be opening up registration for the Creative Commitment Challenge on Tuesday, Oct 27. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter HERE to get all the updates and announcements as I release them. And if you have any questions, about the schedule or pricing or any of it, please send them my way via the contact form HERE.

It looks like we’re going to have a nice-sized group, so many people have contacted me and told me they’re definitely in and they’re super excited. I am too. Let’s kick off this November right my fellow writers!

Lauren Sapala is the author of  The INFJ Writer, The INFJ Revolution, and the creator of Intuitive Writing, a six-step online video course for INFJ and INFP writers who struggle with writing. She is also currently offering a free copy of her book on creative marketing for INFJ and INFP writers to anyone who signs up for her newsletter. SIGN UP HERE to get your free copy of  Firefly Magic: Heart Powered Marketing for Highly Sensitive Writers.

Categories
Writing

Is NaNoWriMo Good or Bad for Intuitive Writers? The Answer Might Surprise You.

Every November I get tons of emails from INFJ and INFP writers asking if NaNoWriMo is a good fit for them. And the answer is always yes and no. No, because intuitive writers tend to write slowly. We need time to go into the deepest depths with our characters and our stories, and 30 days isn’t much time. There’s also the issue of feeling pressured, which doesn’t work well for many introverts, and aiming to write 50k words in one month is definitely a fair amount of pressure.

However, NaNoWriMo can also be beneficial to intuitive writers because it pushes us to actually get going, and we intuitive writers tend to spend a lot of time up in our heads, planning and thinking and dreaming, but not actually DOING. It’s the doing part that can be the most difficult for us. So, with something like NaNoWriMo, we’re kind of forced to jump into the cold water, get used to it, and start swimming.

The only danger with this is that if we don’t reach 50k words, or if the completed novel we were planning on doesn’t materialize in full by the end of November, then we can easily beat ourselves up about it and tell ourselves that we failed. And then, because we feel like a failure as a writer, we go into the same old cycle of discouragement and depression about not meeting our writing goals or being what we think of as a “real writer.”

The truth is, NaNoWriMo actually CAN work for intuitive writers, even if they don’t end up hitting 50k words or coming out on the other side with a completed novel. The key is to shift our perspective and reevaluate our “goals” with NaNo. The secret is to take the focus off word count, because focusing on word count is honestly never a great idea for intuitive writers. Instead, we shift our focus to time and energy. When we commit to devoting time and energy to our creative projects on a regular basis, everything changes. So, even if you don’t hit a goal of writing a certain amount of words every day, the fact that you are sitting down for a committed block of time on regular days, makes a real difference.

I talk more about why it’s so hard for intuitive writers to do this in the video below, and how we can overcome it:

I’m launching a new, live class this November called the Creative Commitment Challenge. The class includes a 90-minute weekly teaching/live Q&A session on Monday evenings, and also one-hour, live, silent writing sessions over Zoom every single day. Class members can show up to every single Zoom session, or pick and choose from the sessions to make a schedule that feels right to them.

Our focus in the class is not going to be on accomplishing specific goals, although it can also definitely support you with that if that’s what you’re being called to do right now. We’re going to be participating in a creative experiment, all together. What happens when you commit serious blocks of time to your writing over the course of 30 days? And how much easier is it when you’re part of a community of people all working right alongside you and cheering you on?

That’s what we’re going to be finding out during the Creative Commitment Challenge. I’m really excited about it, and I hope you join us. If you have any questions about it, or you’d like a copy of the schedule of silent writing sessions to see how many you can attend, please feel free to contact me HERE.

I’ll be opening up registration for the Creative Commitment Challenge on Tuesday Oct 27, so be sure to sign up for my newsletter HERE to get all the updates and announcements as they’re released. I’ll also be releasing the third and final video in this series in just a couple of days. I’ll see you then!

Lauren Sapala is the author of  The INFJ Writer, The INFJ Revolution, and the creator of Intuitive Writing, a six-step online video course for INFJ and INFP writers who struggle with writing. She is also currently offering a free copy of her book on creative marketing for INFJ and INFP writers to anyone who signs up for her newsletter. SIGN UP HERE to get your free copy of Firefly Magic: Heart Powered Marketing for Highly Sensitive Writers.

Categories
Writing

This Week in the Blogs, October 15 – 21, 2020

By Shelley Sturgeon

Are you planning to participate in NaNoWriMo this year? If you are, here’s your heads up, it starts in a little more than a week! Depending on your personal circumstances, you may find that you have fewer outside distractions than usual because of isolating in your home during COVID and maybe this is the ideal time to try it?

Still time to submit your e-book covers to our contest for October (that will be published in late November). All the info you need can be found here. Don’t miss September’s e-Book Cover Design Awards post here on this coming Monday (October 26th).

And, check back here next week for our latest edition of Self-Publishing: Carnival of the Indies.

Hang in there! Be well and stay safe!

Timothy Lewis on ALLi’s Self-Publishing Advice Center
TwitterChat: The Top 100 Tools for Authors
“If you’re looking to connect with more people in our industry, joining The Indie Author Twitter Chat is the perfect way to start. Network with other authors and self-publishing professionals, learn new strategies and get answers to your most pressing questions from our guest experts.”

Krystal Craiker on BookBaby Blog
Root Out These Five Writing Mistakes Before You Publish
“Self-editing a piece slated for publishing goes beyond spell-checking your work. These writing mistakes should also be addressed to ensure your writing is clear, vibrant, and effective.”

Michelle Melton Cox on Jane Friedman
What You Can Learn About Platform From a 12-Year-Old
“You can’t build a platform if you don’t put yourself out there. You must put your creative work and ideas into the arena. It feels scary and vulnerable, and it is both of those things. But do it anyway.”

Stephanie Chandler on Nonfiction Authors Association
How to Host a Soft Launch for Your Book on Amazon to Dazzle Potential Readers and Boost Sales
“When you self-publish a book, you have several options for launching it into the world.How to Host a Soft Launch for Your Book on Amazon to Dazzle Potential Readers and Boost Sales You can host a presale on Amazon and promote it for weeks or even months in advance. This strategy can be effective, especially if you have a following of supporters and want to build sales momentum.”

Sandra Beckwith on Build Book Buzz
Indie authors lead the way
“I’ve read several articles detailing how authors are dealing with COVID-19. The word “authors” in these articles nearly always refers to traditionally published writers who are suddenly left high and dry.”
 
Photo: pixabay.com

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Celebrate National Book Month With A Great Read! | Writer’s Relief

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Celebrate National Book Month With A Great Read! | Writer’s Relief

October is National Book Month, which makes it a great time to add to your TBR list! Writer’s Relief found a great list of book recommendations in this article at npr.org featuring nominees for the National Book Awards. You’re sure to find your next page-turner in one of the ten books for each category: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Translations, and Young People’s Literature.

Check out all fifty books nominated for the National Book Awards.

 

Categories
Writing

5 Common Misconceptions About The Writing Life | Writer’s Relief

5 Common Misconceptions About The Writing Life | Writer’s Relief

Certain professions, hobbies, or activities come with preconceived stereotypes. But the truth is, not all librarians are old maids wearing horn-rimmed glasses, not all auto mechanics are men, and not all grannies sit in rocking chairs and knit. Writers also tend to be typecast, and the writing life is often romanticized or misrepresented. Writer’s Relief has put together a list of the most common misconceptions about the writing life and writers—and shines a light on the surprising reality!

Misconceptions About The Writing Life And Writers—Debunked

All Writers Are Introverts

Here’s the timeworn image of a writer: Sitting home alone, wearing a cardigan, drinking coffee, and typing away for hours. Okay, wearing a cozy cardigan is simply a smart fashion statement. But, while writing is typically a solitary endeavor, it doesn’t mean all writers are introverts. In fact, more than a few famous writers have been extroverts (Hemingway and Twain, to name two literary greats)! And many writers enjoy spending time together in writing groups.

Keep in mind: Being an introvert doesn’t mean you’re antisocial. It simply means you’re focused on internal thoughts and concepts. If you are an introvert, you’re more likely to be creative and observant. So be sure to get outside and observe some passersby and listen in on a few conversations so you can perfect the dialogue in your stories.

Writing Is Easy!

Want to be the character who gets horribly killed in a novel? Just walk up to a writer and say, “Writing is not that hard!” Any writer staring at a blank page or computer screen will tell you—writing is NOT easy! There’s writer’s block to overcome, then editing and proofreading, then a critique from the writing group where that one guy Al always has a comment to make. Then rewriting (thanks, Al), and on to the next step: finding the right place to submit your work. All those submissions need to be tracked. And now start the whole process over again!

Successful Writers Are English Majors With MFAs

Writers are people who love language, so many are English majors. But there are lots of successful authors who never attended college: William Faulkner, H.G. Wells, Maya Angelou, and Augusten Burroughs, to name a few. Others graduated from college but didn’t major in English. John Grisham studied accounting before graduating law school, and Michael Crichton received his MD from Harvard! Don’t let the fact that you didn’t study writing or literature keep you from being a writer.

Published Writers Can Quit Their Day Jobs

Dreaming of becoming an immediate success may be every author’s fantasy, but it’s just that—a fantasy. For most published authors, “overnight” fame actually took years to accomplish. It took Stephen King twenty years to achieve success (which he did with his novel Carrie), but only after years of submitting and being rejected. Amanda Hocking is a self-publishing overnight success story—and it only took her nine years to accomplish this (that’s one very long night, Amanda).

The fact is, most writers who are published make very little—if any—money from their writing. Literary journals have very limited budgets so offer only a token payment, if anything. And if you choose to self-publish, you probably won’t make enough in royalties to cover all your living expenses. The majority of authors simply enjoy sharing their writing with others, even without monetary benefits.

All A Writer Does Is Write

It would be wonderful if a writer could simply retreat to a secluded cabin or spend hours in the study typing. But in reality, writers are holding those day jobs, taking care of the children, getting the dog groomed, mowing lawns, and much more—and squeezing in time to write as well.

Once you’ve published a book, whether it is traditionally or self-published, you may think the hard work is over. You’d be wrong! In today’s publishing industry, even traditionally published writers are expected to market their books just like self-published authors. So whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, having an online author platform and being active with social media is a must. Then there are also author readings and blog tours to set up and participate in. Simply put, there is no “sitting back and relaxing” in the writing biz.

If you need a little help with maintaining your writing life, check out the services at Writer’s Relief. We understand what the writing life is really like and can help make yours a success story!

 

Question: What other misconceptions or stereotypes about the writing life have you come across?

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Writing

James S. Murray And Darren Wearmouth: Five Things We Learned Writing Don’t Move

Megan Forrester has barely survived the unthinkable. Six months ago, she witnessed a horrific accident that killed her husband and son, and lives with the guilt of knowing she could have done more to save them. Now, Megan hopes to mend the pieces of her broken spirit by attending a local church group’s annual camping trip. But the church group members—riddled with dark secrets of their own—make a catastrophic navigational mistake, leaving them stranded in an untouched canyon in the West Virginian national forest.

Isolated from any chance of help or rescue, Megan and the others quickly realize why this side of the canyon has never been surveyed by humankind: it’s home to a terrifying prehistoric arachnid that patiently stalks its prey through even the slightest movement or vibration in the forest. And it’s desperate for a meal.

Grief-stricken and haunted by her tragic loss, Megan now faces her ultimate test of endurance. Can she outwit a bloodthirsty creature hellbent on ensuring that no one gets out of alive? When a single wrong turn can mean death, she only has one option: DON’T MOVE.

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Nothing Beats Terror in the Woods

There’s something uniquely spine-chilling about forests. When night falls, the enclosed space of the trees mixes with an infinite chorus of sounds: creaking, crackling, buzzing, unexplained echoes, you name it. It’s almost otherworldly. Darren and I wanted to capture that deep sense of uncertainty—that feeling of being preyed upon. And of course, we aren’t the only ones who’ve used the woods as our setting. I grew up on classic movies like Friday the 13th and The Evil Dead, and even more recent films like Cabin in the Woods. All of them remind us that forests are a perfect playground for bloody, nightmarish mayhem. I think what makes it so personal is that we’ve all been on camping trips. We’ve all been hiking. Culturally, we use the woods as a place to escape, to get away from the lights of the city. But it’s also a place that’s far away from any potential help. It’s a lot like being willingly stranded. And if we’ve done our job right with this book, you might think twice about your next woodland getaway!

Grab Them From The First Chapter and Don’t Let Go

Creators must compete. Whether we like to admit it or not, our work and the things that we create need to capture an audience. Why would someone read your book when there is a lifetime of amazing shows on Netflix or cute puppy videos on YouTube? Your story needs to start strong, stay strong, and end strong. Make it so the reader can’t put the book down. You need to end each chapter with something that scares the hell out of you. Thrillers are called thrillers for a reason. Because if you’ve written a good one, that’s exactly what it should do. It should thrill you even as you write it. If it’s boring to write, it’s damn sure going to be boring to read.

Zoom Call? Turn Your Camera On

Like most authors, this was our first experience writing and working through a pandemic. With Darren living in Toronto and me in New Jersey, the physical distance alone was enough to drive us crazy. When the whole world is shut down, your creative process can either go one of two ways. The first is that you finally feel like you have all the time in the world to write and get stuff done. The other is that with the whirlwind of stress and other factors going on, all of that can blend into your work and bring the writing process to a complete stand still. My advice for those trying to create in a virtual, socially distanced world is to always turn your Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, whatever camera on. Whatever method you use to communicate, make sure you’re getting the most out of it. Coordinating with our publisher, editors, managers, agents, and each other was almost entirely virtual on this book. Working on a novel is such a personal project and being able to connect with each other in that way (even during a pandemic) was crucial. Not to mention that it helps us stay focused. Plus, it’s always nice to see Darren face-to-face. What can I say? His smile lights up a room.

We’re Never Really In Control

In a similar vein—if this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that no matter what goals we’ve set for ourselves or how we expect certain years to go, the world has a way of slapping us in the face. Mother Nature, especially, has her own methods of making us feel small. I think that’s part of what makes DON’T MOVE feel so relevant. It plays on that idea of helplessness. How do you build yourself back up after senseless tragedy strikes? Our lead character is forced to ask herself these questions. When you’ve seemingly lost everything, how do you gather the courage to face something potentially even scarier? Or more specifically, how do you outsmart a gigantic prehistoric arachnid that has survived for thousands of years as an evolutionary apex predator when it wants to eat you for lunch?

Every Character Deserves A Second Chance

Darren and I started this novel with a clear idea of our protagonist. We went into it knowing Megan Forrester would be a master problem solver—someone with a highly logical and methodical mind who faces enormous challenges every day as a part of her job. (She was inspired by the real-life people I met while touring the Hunts Point Food Distribution Center about a decade ago.) But in a moment when her family needs her to make a life-or-death decision, she freezes. It’s an instant that will haunt her for the rest of her life. She becomes riddled with grief and for the first time in her life, she’s uncertain about everything. Her foil is Ricky Vargas, a streetwise, tattoo-covered man who’s always been alone and as a result, hasn’t always made the best decisions along the way. That’s why the church-sponsored camping trip Megan and Vargas embark on seems like a perfect chance for a fresh start for both characters. But throw a murderous beast into the mix, and what do you have? You’re left with two flawed characters who both need to overcome their demons and their pasts while simultaneously fighting for their lives. That begs the question: Are we destined to repeat history? Or is it possible to override fate by working together?

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James S. Murray is a writer, executive producer, and actor, best known as ”Murr” on the hit television show Impractical Jokers along with his comedy troupe, the Tenderloins. He has worked as the Senior Vice President of Development for NorthSouth Productions for a decade and is the owner of Impractical Productions, LLC. He recently starred in Impractical Jokers: The Movie, and also appears alongside the rest of the Tenderloins, and Jameela Jamil, in the television series The Misery Index on TBS. James is author of the internationally bestselling novels Awakened, The Brink, and Obliteration.

Darren Wearmouth spent six years in the British Army before pursuing a career in corporate technology. After fifteen years working for multinational firms and a start-up, he decided to follow his passion for writing. He is the author of numerous internationally bestselling novels, including AwakenedThe BrinkFirst Activation, and Critical Dawn. He lives in Hamilton, Ontario.

Don’t Move: Blackstone | Indiebound | Bookshop | Amazon