Monday, February 17, 2014

ABNA Advice from Rysa Walker

The seventh annual Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA) Contest is now open! They will be collecting submissions until they have reached 10,000 entries, so don’t wait too long to enter.

The winners in the initial stages will be determined by Amazon and Publisher’s Weekly experts, but Amazon customers will vote to determine the Grand Prize winner in the finals. If by skill and good-fortune you are one of the final five, your chances of winning the big $50,000 contract are going to depend upon your social media platform. You are going to need to be able to get the vote out!

At first blush this might not seem fair. You’re a writer, not a politician, right? But, like it or not, being a writer is as much about the marketing as the writing—at least to Amazon and other publishers it is.
So I asked Rysa Walker, last year’s Grand Prize ABNA winner, for advice.

Me: I checked out your web page but didn't see any ABNA how-to info. Any advice for building social platform before heading into final round?

Rysa: Hi, Stephen! Yeah, I've been so busy meeting the sequel deadline that I haven't had much time for writerly blogging. I see that you have some self-pubbed works. That's a good start. I joined a few indie writer groups like World Literary Cafe. They're great at helping retweet when you need to "get out the vote" at the later stages and the fact that there are stories out there voters can read other than the excerpt is a plus. I think it helped that my book was already self-published and had some reviews, including a Kirkus Indie review. And Facebook is a good tool as well. I even had business cards printed and sent them to friends & family with the info about the contest and how to vote. My sister probably handed out a hundred of those cards. :) And I tweeted a lot!!

Me: I can't thank you enough. It's too good not to share...would it be okay if I shared your reply on my blog?

Rysa: That would be fine, Stephen. Good luck with ABNA!

Me: Good luck meeting your deadline. I know you're busy and I really appreciate you taking the time to reply. Thanks again.

You can find Rysa’s book Timebound at I just finished reading another book and I was looking for something fun to read—I think this is going to fit the bill perfectly.

#ABNA #ABNA2014 #amazon #writing #writingcontest #timebound

Saturday, February 15, 2014

I want to be an e-book writer

“Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book?
It took me years to write, will you take a look?

“If you really like it you can have the rights
It could make a million for you overnight
If you must return it, you can send it here
But I need a break and I want to be a paperback writer
paperback writer”-- The Beatles

I sing this song in the privacy of my own home. It’s addictive. And lately I’ve changed the words to “e-book writer.”

Of course, I don’t have to want it anymore. I am an e-book writer. I just got my first check from Amazon: 26 fat ones. And I got a 5 star review from a reader on Smashwords—and not from a relative or friend either!

Okay, so I’m not wildly successful. But it is amazing what these small triumphs mean to me. It’s fun. I’m really enjoying myself. It’s hard work—about anything worthwhile you do in life can be classified that way—and it’s the most enjoyable work I’ve ever done.

It’s a great age we live in. Write on!

#writing #writer #Beatles #Smashwords #Amazon

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Know Thyself, Writer

If you thought my last blog was about people being snobs, YOU MISSED THE POINT ENTIRELY! My last post discussed the personal motivation a person might have to criticize another person’s grammar. The point wasn’t that you shouldn’t be so critical—go ahead and be critical. Revel in criticism if you like. Shout and gloat. Point your finger and laugh out loud. I don’t care.

All kidding aside, giving and especially receiving criticism is very important to a writer. Criticism leads to learning experiences. Each critique can be a gift if we learn to look at critiques with a dispassionate eye.

My previous post concerned the snobbery that most of us humans engage in and the emotional basis for it. I wanted you to get into your own head and analyze yourself.

Why? Because the only person you can truly know is yourself. You are the only test subject at your disposal. All your story’s character’s inner selves are an extension of your inner self. If you don’t understand yourself, then how can you really understand others? Empathy allows you to put yourself in your character’s shoes, but self-understanding allows you to translate your new perspective honestly.

Writing good characters requires self-awareness and empathy. If you are a sociopath, you’re probably not going to be a good writer. Sorry. There are other professions I understand you would be good at: thief, assassin, or dictator.

“Know thyself,” the ancient Greek maxim goes. It is the first step to truly understanding others. And writing good characters.

#writing #writer

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Grammar Snob

We all know the snob. The epicurean food snob, the sommelier wine snob, the operatic music snob, and so on. These people know more than I do in their chosen subject and boy do they let me know it.

And, I’ll admit it, I’ve been the grammar snob on occasion. I wince when I hear someone say “irregardless.” Yeah, spell check put a big red line under that. It’s not a word. Ironically, the speaker always knows the word “regardless,” but for some reason chooses to use this imposter word instead.

Don’t I now feel smart? Yes, by pointing out that someone has done something stupid, I, by comparison, feel smarter. This is, in my opinion, the demonic charcoal soul of snobbery. We do it to make ourselves feel superior.

I do it too. Not just with grammar either. When driving (my wife will vouch for this) I’m at my worst. For me, as George Carlin famously said, there are two types of other drivers on the road: the idiots drive slower than me and the jerks drive faster.

So when you point out to your friend that the word “decimate,” which he just used in describing the football game, actually means “to kill one in ten,” are you really trying to help him? Or does your factoid say more about you than him?

And when you demonstrate your mathematical skills and explain that the term ‘exponential’ doesn’t actually apply to Google’s stock growth this year, perhaps you should wonder why it matters to you so much.

I intentionally included some grammatical errors in this blog. I want you to feel better about yourself. Please feel free to point out each error in the comment section below.

#writing #writers #grammar