250+ Author Tips (Plus, a Giveaway!)

authortips

“Would you stop being so stubborn?!”

I uttered these words under my breath during my last editing session. My heroine was being particularly stubborn to do what I wanted her to in the scene.

What? You didn’t know fictional characters have a mind of their own? It’s true! If you’re like me, characters take on the personality you give them in the beginning and, before you know it, can take steps in directions you never saw coming. Say things that surprise you. Lead the story down unexpected paths.

When I find myself in these situations, as a still-learning newbie author, I turn to the experts. Those who’ve been in the trenches and come out the other side wiser and willing to share their knowledge.

Over the years, I’ve collected hundreds of tips for authors on everything from…

  • planning your next novel
  • plot structure
  • character development
  • writing for your genre audience
  • self-editing
  • author platform building
  • working with agents/publishers
  • developing deep POV
  • resources like stock photos (covers, promos, etc.)
  • self-publishing
  • creating an author website
  • author encouragement
  • grammar and mechanics
  • writing descriptions
  • showing vs. telling
  • writing emotion
  • story arcs
  • and much more!

Leave Your Ego Off the Page

My heroine was trying to show me a more natural arc for herself. The conflict I had her in helped develop a goal that I hadn’t seen before. After reading Character Development: 9 Tips for Convincing Arcs, a plan to proceed in writing this character became clearer. Whew!

Do you remember the famous line from A League of Their Own? “There’s no crying in baseball!” Tom Hank’s character is the rough-edged manager of an all-female baseball team. His players emotions were getting in the way of focusing on the game.

I say, “There’s no ego in writing!”

When you approach the blank page assuming you know everything there is to know about writing a best seller, you sabotage your chances at achieving that very thing. What do actual best selling authors have to say about writing? Learn how they write. How they earn faithful readers. What they do when their characters get stubborn and your momentum stalls.

Leave your ego off the page and your book will thank you.

Where to Get Help

I have two degrees in English. Thus, my shelves at home are full of books on craft, theory, etc. I’ve even collected a few favorites in recent years like this oneBut, let’s face it. These days when we’re writing on various devices and constantly connected to the internet, it’s convenient to have resources just one click away.

I’d like to think we’re friends, you and I. So, I’ve gone ahead and put together lots of references for you in one easy place.

authortips

Follow my Author Tips board on Pinterest for 250+ (and growing each day!) excellent tips and tricks for being the best author you can be.

Sharing Is Caring (& Pays off!)

What are some of your favorite resources? A favorite book, website, Facebook group, or other tool for writers? I’d love to add more pins to my board….and we all get smarter.

SHARE your favorite resource in the comment below. One reader who comments will win a $10 Amazon gift card!  Share this post using the social share links below (tell me you did so in a separate comment) and earn an extra entry. Winner announced Tuesday, February 21.

This giveaway has ended. Thanks!


So, next time your characters get stubborn, a new plot starts forming in your mind, or your author platform seems to be falling flat, FEAR NOT AUTHOR FRIEND! You’ve now got an arsenal of help right at your fingertips. Go forth and write!


Keep Reading!

A Pantster’s Guide to Planning
Hand Me the Wrench: A Writer’s Toolbox
What’s in a Genre: Choosing Your Genre Niche

 

Authors: Get Graphic Design & Marketing Help

Most often I’m writing these posts in the evening between cooking dinner and bedtime. But, by day, I work as a director of communications for a large church. It’s the biggest blessing to be creative for a living (even before my writing takes off!). And I don’t take it for granted.

That’s why I’ve decided to turn my 10+ years of experience in graphic design and marketing into an opportunity to help other authors. Introducing…Good Day Publishing!

MikalDawn_logodrafts

Good Day Publishing is open and running! We’re in an era of self-promotion. Many publishers expect you, the author, to do a lot of the leg work to sell a book. But that can take a lot of effort, time, and planning. Find more time to write (the thing you love most!) by letting me help with things like:

  • Author branding
  • Graphic design needs (from logos to book covers!)
  • Social media consultation and scheduling
  • Website content management
  • Marketing consultation
  • Book launch campaigning
  • Plus, more!

If you’re interested, I invite you over to my Author Services page to learn more about how Good Day Publishing works. Then, contact me for a FREE 30-minute consultation!

The flagship Scripture behind Good Day Publishing is Psalm 118:24.

“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

It would be my pleasure and my honor (not an exaggeration) to see how I might help make your day…your writing journey…a good one. One that doesn’t overwhelm or stress you out. God has given us THIS day! Let’s use it!

Do you have any questions about Good Day Publishing or author platform building and promotion? Feel free to ask! From time to time, I’ll also be offering some posts with tips for authors on the topics of design, marketing, and social media. So, be sure and check back often.

But if you’re ready to take the next step and add me to your team, just say the word!

How Hiatus Helps and Hurts

Hiatus

It’s been a month since I clicked “publish” here. As I mentioned before the break, I felt in my heart that a hiatus was necessary. In these weeks, I’ve traveled to Florida to celebrate my grandfather’s 90th birthday, took a trip to small town Alabama to visit my parents and their new chickens, and moved just a few miles away to a new apartment. One thing I didn’t do? Write.

That’s right. Not one single word. I didn’t take even one look at my finished manuscript. I made no headway on a developing plot for my next book. I had no word-count deadlines, no chapters to submit for critique, no first/second/or third drafts to review.

And, I’m okay with it.

As I prepare to come out of hiatus and back into a regular writing routine, I’m reflective of this time “off.” A lot of good, I feel, has come out of this break.

  • I took time to mull. I’m not good at letting new ideas sit and permeate in my head. I usually dump words onto the page as soon as they come to me (true pantster-style) without much regard for how it will work in the overall story. This hiatus has allowed characters to come into focus in their own time. I actually see more of the developing story. It’s good.
  • I miss writing. Writing had become a chore I willed myself to begrudgingly do. I think this had a lot to do with the recent agent rejection I experienced after thoroughly making edits/rewrites that she had suggested, only to find out she never read them before her polite “no thank you”. After a month of no writing, I miss it. There’s a refreshed sense of something missing. I’m a writer who needs to write. I’m thankful to feel that again.
  • I’ve focused outward. Us writers are naturally introspective, I’d say. Easy to get lost in considering how our own writing, worlds, feelings are going. This hiatus has allowed me to focus on some friends (some authors, some not) and really pay attention. I’ve fostered some friendships, bonded over some challenges, and strengthened ongoing relationships.
  • I better connected with the other me’s. When you spend so much of your day writing, platform building, reading about writing, researching your next story, and planning for conferences, it’s hard to remember your other roles. I’ve connected with my other me’s — wife, mom, daughter, friend, aunt, home cook, wannabe world traveler, etc.

No doubt this hiatus has helped in many ways. Good for the soul.

However, there are also a few ways I can see a month-long hiatus hurts, too. Can you relate to these challenges I’m noticing coming out of a planned break?

  • My muscles have atrophied. Going with the notion that ab object in motion stays in motion and a body at rest stays at rest…my creative muscles have lost some of their trained agility and built-up stamina. Like getting back on a bike, the first several rotations of the pedals will be the hardest before I settle back into coasting.
  • Part of me doesn’t want to start back. Writing is so hard, guys. It’s been nice to have my evenings back. To not feel guilty when I didn’t reach a goal. To say “yes” to my family more often. To not worry about what others think, if the next agent will work out, or if the next book will take two and a half years like the first. It’s easier not to write. Just like retraining my creative muscles, I have to remind my heart and mind why it is I do this. Not for the accolades or success, but because God puts stories in my heart that he wants me to tell.

Ultimately, it is the calling to write that will get me back on track. It’s the reason that I’m writing this post and will write again on Thursday…and every Tuesday and Thursday. I’ll write in the evenings and on weekends when my family schedule allows. I will submit chapters to my critique partners because I need their input to make my writing better. I’ll work hard to prepare to pitch my first book to another round of agents and editors at next month’s ACFW Conference in Nashville. And I will trust that God’s still in charge and has good things planned for me.

This hiatus is over.


Twitter

TODAY’S TWEETABLE:

How Hiatus Helps and Hurts. Reflections from an author coming
off a month-long writing break. — TWEET THIS!

It’s Not You, It’s Me: Unexpected Rejection

rejection

During the last several months I have been in contact with a literary agent whom expressed interest in my first novel after meeting at a conference. I like to compare these months since to a season of courting. Our first date was at the conference, second date was sending a full book proposal, third date was a lengthy phone call that resulted in her request of the full manuscript, and our fourth date included her request for me to fluff the book a little more in some specific areas. It seemed things were looking very promising. Soon, maybe we’d “go steady” — be exclusive and she’d sign me. (Pardon the cheesy analogy.)  Continue reading

DIY Branding Strategy: Part 2

brandingstrategy2

As promised, it’s Thursday and I’m wearing my Communications Director hat to bring you the second of three installments of my DIY Branding Strategy series. Last week, we talked about how important it is to define your product, audience and story. Did you miss it? Check it out here. (Oh, and be sure to read to the end of this post for a fun teaser.)

Once you have a well-defined purpose and direction, you’ve got to create a visual representation of your brand. Continue reading

Don’t Stop: Just Keep Writing

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Have I mentioned that my day-job is Director of Communications for a large church in downtown Fort Worth, Texas?  I’ve been in church communications for over a decade, and I love it. This week is Holy Week — the last week of Lent leading to Easter Sunday. Our church has 15 worship services between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. That’s a lot of bulletins to get ready, a lot of announcements to make, a lot of social media fodder. Continue reading

Hand Me the Wrench: A Writer’s Tool Box

toolbox

Writing fiction is like building a house.

Pour a sturdy foundation (strong plot line/character arcs).
Make sure walls are straight and level (each scene moves story forward).
Set a roof with tight, protective shingles (track details and avoid holes in plot).
Choose attractive accents and hardware (interesting yet subtle language/syntax).
Don’t forget landscaping for curb appeal (good secondary characters, setting, etc.). Continue reading