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Writing Through Your Moods

Writing Through Your Moods By Jill Kemerer

When I’m feeling blue, I don’t want to write. I don’t want to do anything writing related, either. I just want to sit on the couch, eat peppermint patties and caramels, take a nap, then sip coffee and watch the Food Network.

Do I sit on the couch and do all those things? No.

Well, I might take a thirty-minute break to indulge in them, but for the most part, I force myself to get something done on my work in progress.

Writing through your moods is a necessary skill.

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Trying a Makeshift Standing Desk

Trying A Makeshift Standing Desk By Jill Kemerer

Writers sit. A lot.

This writer certainly does! But I’m trying something different–I put together a makeshift standing desk to avoid sitting so much.

Some writers (and other work-from-home professionals) buy special stands to convert their desks from sitting to standing. Others have invested in treadmill desks. Then there are those who walk and dictate. I’ve tried dictation. It works in a pinch, but isn’t a long-term solution for me personally.

All of these methods to get out of the chair intrigue me, but I’ve never been motivated enough to try them.

Well, last week I was exhausted. I’m talking tired every day to the point I barely got anything work-related done. Part of it was a disruption in my routine (I had appointments every day). This week, I decided something needed to change.

For one week, I’m working while standing for at least an hour every day.

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How I Distribute Digital Review Copies

Distributing Digital Review Copies. Jill Kemerer

Distributing digital review copies–where to start? One of the many struggles authors face in today’s publishing world is how to get advance copies of our ebooks to reviewers.

In the early days of having my street team, I would put out a call for anyone in the group willing to read/review my book. I would then gather their email addresses and send them a digital copy of the book. As the group grew, it became more difficult.

A street team is a group of readers who help promote your books by reading/reviewing ARCs, sharing book news/graphics with their social networks, or by generally getting the word out about your book.

An ARC is an advance review copy or can be referred to as an advance reader copy.

Distributing digital review copies. Jill Kemerer

Problems with individual distribution of ARCs:

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Maintenance Marketing for Writers

Maintenance Marketing For Writers By Jill Kemerer

Promotion and marketing are ongoing tasks for writers. What’s the difference between them? I’m not a marketing major, but I’ve been doing my own marketing and promotion for years. I have my own way of defining them.

I promote my books. I market my author name/brand to build my platform.

For me, marketing is the overall strategy of building my platform. Promotion, on the other hand, is the overall strategy of selling a particular book.

There isn’t anything technically accurate about this definition. It’s just the way I separate the two in my mind.

There are things I do on a weekly, monthly, and yearly basis that I call maintenance marketing for writers.

The goal of these tasks is to provide content to my platform on a regular basis as well as attract new readers to find and follow me. Then, when I’m promoting a new book, the additional book-centric content is a natural continuation of what I’m already doing.

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5 Mistakes Writers Make in the Summer

5 Mistakes Writers Make In The Summer By Jill Kemerer

As the seasons change, our writing habits change, too. It’s human nature. We’re not robots! Plus, where I live, the short, frozen days of winter stretch into long days full of sunshine and heat. I want to be out in all that sun!

Back in April it seemed reasonable to set difficult goals for June, July and August. But I’ve got a dozen years of writing under my belt, and I wasn’t falling for my overly-optimistic silliness this time. You see, I’ve made my share of mistakes planning out my summer writing schedule, and I’ve learned from them.

5 Mistakes Writers Make in the Summer

  1. Overestimating what can reasonably be accomplished in three short months.
  2. Neglecting the work-in-progress as seasonal delights beckon.
  3. Forgetting to factor in vacation time when setting goals.
  4. Thinking of writing as optional instead of essential.
  5. Trying to maintain the same writing schedule as the rest of the year.

Let’s look at these more in depth.

Overestimating what can reasonably be accomplished in three short months.

While June through August technically has thirteen weeks, those thirteen weeks are not equal to the ones in the fall, winter or spring. Yes, technically the hours add up the same, but we all know summer is different. You’ll have weddings and graduation parties to attend. Weekend adventures and farmer’s markets will distract you. Maybe you’ll get away for a vacation or two. Then there will be family time. An outing to pick blueberries. You might have children at home. Whatever your situation, summer brings wonderful things we SHOULD enjoy. So go ahead, set some goals, but don’t overestimate what you can get done.

Neglecting the work-in-progress as seasonal delights beckon.

Unless you’re deliberately taking time off–a week, a month, or the entire summer–you’ll want to continue working on your book. Be careful not to let day after day go by without working on your project at all. You’ll be left with a nagging sense of guilt and you won’t want to get back into it. Even if you snatch fifteen minutes here and thirty minutes there, you’ll be better off than neglecting it completely.

Forgetting to factor vacation time when setting goals.

I’m guilty of this every year! That’s why I keep my phone’s calendar and my day planner handy when I’m sketching out each month’s goals. I often allot extra vacation time each month on the off-chance something fun comes up I won’t want to miss. To do this, I increase my daily goals (higher word count when writing, higher page count when revising). This helps me to stay on track with my projects and enjoy the summer.

Thinking of writing as optional instead of essential.

Not everyone can or should write during the summer. But if you’re reading this post, you’re probably working on a book right now. In that case, ask yourself how you’ll feel if you have very little to show for your writing when September rolls around. If you go into each day believing writing is essential, you’ll be amazed at what you get done by the end of summer. But if it’s another “optional” item on your daily to-do list, you’ll be disappointed in the fall.

Trying to maintain the same writing schedule as the rest of the year.

From September through May, I LOVE my block schedule. It works for me. It makes sense. And it allows me to work on multiple projects every day while putting the most effort into my top priority.

But then summer comes around, and in the morning, I want to enjoy my coffee and watch the birds for a while. By late afternoon, I’m ready to stretch out on a lounge chair and soak in the rays. I have no desire to work on multiple projects throughout the week. I want to focus on the most important one and forget all the others.

So that’s what I do.

I purposely shorten my days to work fewer hours in the summer. This allows me to truly enjoy all that summer offers and still meet my deadlines. Then in the fall, I get excited to resume my more hard-core schedule. It’s nice to have a break from it for three months!

What mistakes do you make in the summer? What did I miss?

Have a terrific day!

Organizing the Writing Life: Digital Files

Organizing The Writing Life: Digital Files By Jill Kemerer

Organizing digital files. You might be asking what’s the big deal? You always find the files you need…eventually.

But what about last month when a blogger asked to interview you and needed the blurb and cover of your latest book? It took a few minutes, but you found them. Then you got another email requesting the covers of all the covers in the series. That’s when things got dicey.

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The Importance of Motivation in Fiction

The Importance Of Motivation In Fiction. Jill Kemerer

This year I challenged myself to read fiction for a minimum of twenty minutes every weekday. (#20for2020) I’m LOVING this! I’m trying different authors, different genres, and best of all, I’m enjoying the stories. A few weeks ago I read a historical romance novel set during the French Revolution, and I’m currently reading a contemporary romance.

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Writing Romance 101: The Opening Pages #WW

Writing Romance 101: Opening Pages By Jill Kemerer

I’ve been reading romance novels since I was thirteen. Sure, some say that’s young, but I have no regrets. I would buy old Harlequin paperbacks at flea markets. They were typically from the 70s and early 80s–very clean and intriguing!

I was hooked. I still read a lot of romance novels, in addition to books in just about any other genre. What can I say? I love to read!

Here are some of the things I’ve learned about writing romance novels. The opening pages are important–vital, really–to establishing to the reader that the book is indeed a romance.

  1. Introduce the hero and heroine as soon as possible. Sometimes I pick up a book thinking it’s a romance, but when no clear hero and heroine have been introduced until chapter three, I assume I’m reading a different genre.
  2. Avoid too much early interaction with members of the opposite sex who aren’t the love interests. Romance readers instinctively root for the first woman and man who are introduced. This means you should avoid having the POV character interact with an opposite-sex character before their love interest. Chances are, the reader will expect the other character to be the hero or heroine!
  3. Hint at inner conflicts and what’s at stake. The hero and heroine should have clear reasons why they can’t instantly fall in love, the higher the stakes the better. Clue the reader in early–don’t make them wait until page 125 to worry how will these two ever fall in love?
  4. Set the tone. Setting details, introspection, narrative and even dialogue clue the reader in to the tone and subgenre of the book. A romantic suspense will be edgy and fast-paced. An Amish romance won’t be set in New York City (although, I suppose, it could be done!).
  5. Build Tension. Readers keep turning the page when they’re worried or curious. Keep them on edge. Leave questions unanswered. Create a sense of foreboding about unspoken issues. They’ll love you for it!
  6. Make the reader care. Characters coasting through life are boring. I’m sorry, but they are. Give your characters problems. They don’t even have to be enormous problems. We all have times when our worries crush us. Bring that intensity to life. Let the reader in on the anxiety your characters feel, and they will care enough to read to the end.

I’d love to hear YOUR tips on what’s important in the opening pages of a romance novel. Leave a comment!

And don’t forget, my fun giveaway is still going on! Click on HER COWBOY TILL CHRISTMAS GIVEAWAY and scroll down for the easy entry options! US only. 18+.

In stores for one more week!

Western Christmas Wishes by Brenda Minton and Jill Kemerer

For purchase links and more, click HERE!

Why Our Characters Must Fail

Why Our Characters Must Fail By Jill Kemerer

This post was originally published on November 28, 2011 at https://jillkemerer.blogspot.com/.

I recently read a novel but struggled to get into the story. Each time I put it down, I had no desire to pick it back up. Tempted to stop reading, I decided to forge ahead and figure out why it wasn’t grabbing me. I made a list of its strengths and weaknesses.

Strengths:

– Excellent writing. The author balances dialogue, thoughts, action, and narrative with ease.
– Modern, relatable characters. The hero and heroine (it’s a contemporary romance) are realistic and have believable conflicts and goals. Plus, I liked both of them.
– Logical progression of plot. The story arc made sense and proceeded in a way I would expect.

Weaknesses:

– Too many characters introduced in first chapters. This book is the second or third in a series, so extra characters should be involved, but too many too soon only confuses the reader.
– Sunday drive pacing. While the plot progresses logically, it does not progress quickly. There doesn’t seem to be any urgency.
– The hero and heroine do not share enough scenes in the first half. They are in scenes together, but they rarely interact. How are they supposed to fall in love if they don’t talk to each other?

Not every book is perfect, and the strengths in this one more than offset the weaknesses. However, I pinpointed one major area that needed work.

Each scene had a point, but the stakes were never high enough for me to want to read the next scene. 

Jack M. Bickham discusses what an effective scene accomplishes in his excellent book, Scene & Structure. I’m paraphrasing here, but basically each scene should be told from one character’s viewpoint, and the character must have a clear goal, which is obvious from the beginning of the scene. The character will then experience conflict in reaching that goal until the scene ends with the characterfailing to meet the goal.

Summary of Scene Essentials:
1. Introduction of the viewpoint character’s scene goal.
2. Conflict threatening the character’s ability to reach goal.
3. Failure of character to meet goal.

But…the character has to win sometimes, right? Yes. This is why it’s important to be clear about the character’s scene goal. If the book requires your heroine to convince her coworker to attend a wedding with her, you might choose to split the section into two scenes. The first scene will be told from her viewpoint. She gets the courage to ask him, he puts up a fight, and the scene ends with him refusing.

1. She asks coworker to be her date for wedding. (Goal)
2. He gives lame excuses. (Conflict)
3. He refuses. (Failure)

But…he has to agree. It’s a vital plot point. Okay, no problem. The next scene will be in his point of view, and his scene goal will be to get out of the wedding invitation. But the heroine is very convincing, and he finds himself saying yes when he wants to say no.

1. He must not agree to this wedding invitation. (Goal)
2. She has lawyer-like convincing skills. (Conflict)
3. He accepts. (Failure)
If we ignore the scene essential of the character failing, we waste an opportunity to keep the reader on edge. We could have written the previous scene in the heroine’s point of view and had her ask the hero to the wedding. He could still put up a fight, but in the end he agrees. The problem with this is that the heroine wins. 

As readers, we like to watch our heroes and heroines suffer. We love that gnawing feeling in our gut when things go wrong. We need the hero and heroine to fail repeatedly for us to keep turning the pages. If they only win, what’s the point of reading more? Our goal as writers should be to provide a sense of urgency–regardless what genre we write–and have the reader constantly ask, what comes next? How is the main character going to handle this? I’ve got to find out more!

How do you keep readers on edge? Share your tips!

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