Posts Tagged With: Newbie writers podcast

Newbie Writer Podcast Guest Carly Findlay

Thank you Carly Findlay at carlyfindlay.blogspot.com for being a great guest on Newbie Writers.  She had a few bits of advice for bloggers:

  • Just start writing
  • Stay with it

    Gouger Cellars Grand Opening this Weekend

    Gouger Cellars Grand Opening this Weekend which has nothing to do with writing and everything to do with wine

  • Write about what you like
  • Don’t let it become a chore
  • Sign up for social media
  • A writing career is 40 percent marketing, so  use social media
  • If you are using twitter, a strategy is to be considered a   trusted source, so people follow you  in order to get the information they need.
  • And of course, the twitter and the facebook and the linked in all direct followers to your blog!

And if you want to know if your book has what it takes,

Contact me for your complimentary consultation and book – Start Your Book Now

Bramkamp@yahoo.com

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Why listen to me? From an abortive interview on blog talk radio

 

I agreed to an interview on a blog talk podcast.  The podcaster was just beginning to get the hang of podcasting, and I’m happy to help fledging efforts.

Except the show was double booked.

I phoned in, and the host greeted me, then proceeded to interview someone else entirely, leaving me in that limbo where you don’t know if you should check out, mute and feed the dog, or butt in.

I listened for half hour and was never acknowledged.

The dog went hungry.Tulip Tree

What went wrong?

If you want to create a podcast about your book, go for it.  But I anticipate that you may get bored just talking to yourself, so you’ll want to invite guests, just to liven up your hour or half hour podcast.

Once you incorporate guests, you must also incorporate that most complex organization system known to writers – the calendar.  Keep track of your guests.  And while you’re at it, keep track of their information and emails.

Newbie Writers Podcast uses a Google Calendar so my partner Damien can  see what I’ve scheduled without asking.

Send a confirmation to your guests a few days ahead of time, it helps them remember and helps YOU remember who’s calling into the podcast.

That said, have a few back up shows you can implement  in case the guest bails.

In a blog talk environment, you don’t have timing control so have a clear idea of what you want to hear from the guest, and keep to one theme or subject.

In my case during this blog talk podcast, the first guest took up the whole half hour show time, which was not necessarily a problem, but if that happen,  send a quick note right at that moment to apologize to the silent guest and re schedule.

I had a situation where my partner over slept because his time change in Australia (from Fall to Winter) occurs during a different week than the CA time change (from Winter to Spring).  Our guest was ready to interview at exactly 3:30 and couldn’t wait and talk at a later time.   We simply cancelled   and I immediately re-scheduled the guest.

Guests do spend time organizing their thoughts and making room in their schedule to talk with you.  Do be conscious of their time; it’s professional and polite.

Conversely, last week my partner developed a hideous cold, plus the scheduled guest wrote and asked if we could interview him at 6:00 PM PDT instead of 4:00 PDT.  Nope.  We too are on a schedule.  So if your guest can’t accommodate the times of your show, it’s perfectly okay to firmly and nicely say no and either reschedule or realize that this guest may not work out.

In this business sometimes it’s you, and sometimes it’s me.

I’m thinking it’s mostly you.

 

Sign into the live feed during the Newbie Writers Podcast – Friday, 4:00 PM PDT.

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What if the Future Sucks?

On Newbie Writers Podcast this week, we are reviewing  the second draft of a book:  mine.

This is the second part of the Opening chapter  to  The Five Elements of Time so you can play the game at home.

Statue from Turkey

Please do comment here, or email me with suggestions.

And thanks!

Premise: What if you have your whole future before you, and it sucks? 

The sheets were not even dry.  Charity pushed them away and lit the stove.

The house lights flickered again, Charity held her breath, the lights dimmed, then surged back on to full strength.

Charity took the last two pieces of the dense, coal – like fuel, dranit, and fed them into the stove.  It was the only certainty this week – that fire was warm.  Was real.

“Nancy reported the Fabers in the market were down.”  Mother walked into the kitchen, testing the sheets as she went.  She wiped her damp hands on her pale blue skirt.

They used to just toss the dirty sheets and Nancy, their main servant would bring in new from the market replicators every week, the old sheets were recycled for their essential material. The family was probably using the same sheets over and over, on a molecular level, but it was still nice to have new.

Not any more.

Charity glanced at the hanging sheets, no longer the original white. Just this morning she had helped her mother  wrestled those sheets out of the big tub, the fire burning underneath.

Charity was used to such odd behavior from her mother.  She had little choice but to help.  So she automatically arched over the hot flames and helped her mother pull the wet fabric to the wringer.

“They are out of material for fabric.”  Her mother said quietly.  “I told you it’s  good to know how to wash. Your sister, “  she left the rest unsaid and continued to wrestle with the old wringer.

“She was suppose to return today.”  Charity announced.

“Mirabella?” Her mother jerked the wet fabric from the rollers and gave the fabric a mighty twist putting her shoulders into the effort.   “I know, she was.” Her mother held Charity’s gaze for a second before twisting the sheet with   more force than Charity ever saw. Water, precious water, streamed from the fabric.  Finally mother stopped her shoulders sagged.

“She is gone honey.” Her mother’s faded blue eyes watered. “I’m afraid she  died in yesterday’s train wreak.”

Charity’s whole body turned cold.  Her first friend in school, her first pal, her only pal,  gone?

“Ray is devastated of course.” Her mother concentrated on the laundry and did not meet her oldest daughter’s eyes again.  “Of course.  He’ll find someone else. He needs a wife to go into the Government Guards.  All Guards have a wives.” And all those men involved in the RC ,the Reality Cloud, needed a wife to keep the family fed, organized and together.  If a man wanted to work, or participate in any of the Realty Cloud world, he needed to marry, put his wife into a nice house and make sure she was blessed with children.

Charity stopped wringing  the sheets. The warm water dripped on her bare feet.  They never wore shoes in the house, an old tradition. There used to be so much toxic material outside that the women finally stopped everyone from tracking it into the house by creating the rule – no shoes inside. Now it was a law.

“He asked for you.” Mother said finally.

Nancy, one of their five servants,  was late.  She pulled her kerchief more firmly over her blond hair and ducked her head.  “I’m so sorry Mother, the lines were long for the dranit today. And the village riots stopped us from leaving the market.”

“Takes a lot of electricity to manufacture the dranit.”   Mother never raised her voice at the servants, she insisted on treating them as people, even individuals.  Charity kept that eccentricity to herself, her friends, like Mirabella, reported that Mothers were suppose to berate servants and keep them in line, something Charity’s mother never did.

Mother simply   took the offered fuel, two day’s worth.   “If only we could harvest  wood ourselves.”

“There are no forests.”  Hope importantly flounced into the kitchen. She was 16 and just feeling her strength as a leader, now that all the boys in her class had been transferred  to the RC Colleges.  “I learned that today.”

Mother sighed and considered the huge wood burning stove.  The electricity was channeled mostly to the Government where the replicators and RC equipment were kept.  The family owned a small one of course, but the food pods were becoming increasingly difficult to obtain, even for a well placed family like themselves.  The only reason they weren’t hungry, the only reason Faith was even as well as she was, was because mother grew food in the back of the house.  Dirt Food.  Charity never told anyone.  But she had to grudging admit  that her mother eccentric gardening had kept them from going hungry many nights.

Only two days ago everything was as it should be.  If she had known, she would have ben kinder, not pinched so hard.  Charity drew in a shuddering breath and batted away the drying sheet.  She wanted things back the way they were.  But according to Mirabella, that wasn’t even possible.   “RC has been fluctuating,  I can feel it.  Most women our age can feel it.  Sometimes I worry that we aren’t even real.”  She held out her arm.  “Pinch me.”  She commanded.

Charity reluctantly took a pinch of Mirabella’s flesh and dug her nails into the skin.

“Yikes!”  Mirabella  glanced down. “That’s going to bruise.”

“Then you’ll know you’re real won’t you?”  Charity shot back.  They didn’t dare linger on the street.  They continued to the Temple, but now that Mirabella mentioned it, the   houses really did vibrate as she walked: sometimes revealing a plain one story home and sometimes turning into the glass and wood castles she always envisioned, remembered.

It wasn’t all that bizarre, they heard early on in their education that reality was one of two things: a shared community effort or an individual vision.  The shared world community, represented by the 100 year old Reality Cloud, was preferable.  Women were proud to support such an instrument of world peace.

Yes, increasingly,   Charity was experiencing the individual version of reality. It was not comforting.

Mirabella liked to see her world one way, and Charity sometimes wanted to see it differently.

But they were alike in two important ways.

Their reality was shifting.

“What do you think is going on?”

“My dad said the grids are down more and more that it’s difficult to work in the RC, there are surges.  They  blame the villagers.” She lowered her voice, “They sent out bot after bot to fix the problem.  I heard they are even sending out drones but can’t find any reason for the electricity or for the the decrease in pod production .”

“Nancy said the lines were getting longer.”  Charity confirmed. The food pods for their replicators ran low at the end of every month, forcing some family to eat dirt food.

“They’ll have to find the villagers .”  Mirabella  confirmed.

But they didn’t need to find the villagers, the villagers had found them.

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Why Post Your Novel?

Flower and wireA strategy that writers employe when working on their fiction books is to post sections of the book  on their blog and solicit feedback from their blog readers. Successful writers like Guy Kawasaki   – routinely post their books in progress and get immediate feedback and in turn, make immediate changes.  But why do it? Should a writer be concerned that someone will steal the work?  Nope.  In the US the work is copy write  protected as soon as it leaves your fingers.  And if it is “stolen,” the providence is easy to prove.  And if you are lucky and it’s stolen and distributed – you just increased your fan base, possibly your klout.

So if you are stuck, or if you’d like to experiment, posting your on-going story can accomplish a number of goals:

  • It builds your base of fans who will purchase the book
  • Those fans will be the first to purchase your book, why?  Because they are involved with the book already.
  • Those are the fans you count when you   approach a publisher or agent
  • And if you are lucky, those fans give you feedback you can use
  • Those fans will give you encouragement to keep writing
  • Conversely they may give you feedback that encourages you to stop writing – which while depressing, is at least an answer.

This week on Newbie Writers Podcast we are reading a section of my current project and commenting on it.  I have posted a section here so you can play the game at home.

Comment here or email me.

And thanks!

 

Opening chapter – The Five Elements of Time

Premise: what if you have your whole future before you, and it sucks?

A rock shattered the stained glass window scattering shards of red glass at Charity’s feet.

She glanced up at the hole, almost perfectly round.  Through it the sky hovered  gray, heavy, and un-changed. The hole let in the escalating chanting outside.

 

Preacher John stopped Charity from reading any more from the One True Word.

A big imposing man, twice the size of slender Charity, he never the less, glanced out at the men in the congregation for approval.  Charity didn’t see a single nod, or twitch from any one, but there must have been some sign.

“We will exit, this way.”  The man of the One True God gestured, and the fathers pulled their wives and children from the   cavernous temple and through a narrow door behind the pulpit.

Charity carefully set down the One True Word on the pulpit and silently waited to join her family. She was not frightened, the village riots had been increasing in the last few years. The Government Guards would protect them.  It was just a aberration.

She glanced at the shattered window.

The families didn’t  pause in the walled courtyard, where Charity used to play after daily Temple service.  Her father led their family of five out  through another door to the  old abandoned parking structure and finally to narrow alley.

The sound of the chanting rose and fell, punctuated by the shattering of another window, of the temple or of a house, she was not certain.

The low beamed ceiling of the old parking structure was oppressive enough to hurry the congregation to the far door.  She looked around for their preacher, their leader but he was no where to be found.

Did he escape and leave them to fend for themselves?  You don’t leave your flock, or in the RC you never leave anyone’s avatar on the battle field.  Even girls knew that.

“Heathens!”  Preacher John’s voice rose above the babble of the villagers.  He must have stomped through the  front doors even as the last of the congregation members slipped  out the back.  His sudden words burst over the angry crowd.  Charity felt, rather than heard a lull in the chanting as the big metal doors of the Temple clanged open. There was a pause, but then the crowd roared again.

She didn’t know there were that many villagers to make up such a crowd.

“That was the last of the colored windows.”  Charity’s mother commented.  Father, with one hand pulling Faith and the other gripping Hope, said nothing, he pulled them all along as fast as they could run.

Charity was unaccustomed to moving this fast and her breath caught as she struggled to keep pace.  Young  ladies strolled sedately, took their time, did not call attention to themselves.  But now everyone was running, slowly,  Charity was surprised at how many she out paced, but it was evil to be proud.  Not proud, but opportunistic.  She took  advantage of the chaos to  pull  off her floppy brimmed hat and drag  at her scarf, she couldn’t breath. Father had not slowed his pace, Faith was struggling to keep up, Father pulled her relentlessly behind him. Hope wheezed next to mother, Charity keeping up behind.

Charity raised her head and looked directly up into the sky.  It loomed low and gray over their Great Suburb.  Familiar houses seemed to shimmer under the diffused daylight.

The homes in their neighborhood were a purposeful jumble of architectural  style, created to reflect the whim of the owners rather than display a uniform cohesion.  Half timbered Tudors butted up adjacent to Craftsman Modern, and Mid Century Glory.  All the homes in their neighborhood were Beautiful Mansions, fronted by lush lawns and gardens. Charity glance at them, familiar, solid.  But as she ran, the facades  seemed to  shiver  before her, as if they were painted transparencies.  Charity squinted wondering if she needed laser surgery so soon, at 18.

They raced to their own home, an  imposing Victorian Mansion,  Her father did not loosen his grip on her younger sister, even after they gained their own front walk.  There were no walls around their home so they were still vulnerable.  Charity glanced around and watched her neighbors disappear into their pretty homes.

Some of the C Executives the families of the very powerful. Like the Knight leaders, they all lived in low walled compounds, in the center of the suburbs.  She was sure they were all there now, behind bunkers of their own making.

Charity replaced her hat, not wanting to anger her father who was clearly agitated.  She glanced down at the earth, since there was no where else to look but down.  The ground wavered, it was lush green, then brown, then green.  She blinked and followed her family into the safety of their home.

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Speed Dating

I was privileged to coach a whole group of talented, interesting authors at the WNBA Pitch- O -Rama this April.

The object of Pitch O Rama is expose authors to as many   potential agents and publishers as he or she can meet in course of about two hours.  Another name for this activity is speed dating with agents.

Here is the dirty secret of Speed dating with agents:  they know if you are a match in about 30 seconds.    But since that’s a little harsh, we ask them to dutifully sit and listen to an author for at least a full minute.

So, like any meet and greet session, it helps to be prepared.

Bay view from Swiss Louis

Admire the view while pitching to agents.

Here is our advice to authors:

The best way to approach the agent with your pitch is to deliver a very big, broad picture.  Think how movies are summarized in  two or three sentences, that’s what you need to do for your book  as well.

While you’re at it,  figure out how to deliver the essence of your project in one sentence.

One author was pitching her children’s story and in a clutter of words the phrase – sparkly adventure – stood out.  That was her wow, and I told her to lead with that description.

Once you deliver the wow overview,  the agent then can ask for details.

Those details do not include what your main character looks like, nor what he ate for breakfast. Those details do not include the landscape, or modes of transportation.  The details are the exciting, animated bones of the book.  The details are what we read on the back of a paper back book, and that description inspires our purchase.  That’s what you tell the agent next.

Only after those two features, the wow, the brief  details do you talk about yourself.  Even at this point, it’s not about you so much as it’s about why you wrote the book and  your unique qualifications to tackle the subject of the book.

All of this, if done right will consume about two minutes, leaving you free to spend a whole minute discussing the weather.

Does this work?  Yes, if you are prepared:

Practice the wow pitch.

Don’t read  synopsis  (AHHHH don’t read it!)

And know that agents, publishers, editors all have ideas of what works for them, what they like to work with – and if they can’t include your work in their upcoming schedule, it very well may be them, not you.

I know, that never really helped in dating either.

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Perspective for Writers

Last week Publishers Weekly summarized the Pulitzer Prize winners for 2013

I am always interested in the winners or in the case of last year, the non winners (Train Dreams was an excellent allegory, discuss it in your book group).

Pulitzer Prize winner Deanne Fitzmaurice - Kurt Rogers, Andrew Hutchins

Pulitzer Prize winner Deanne Fitzmaurice – Kurt Rogers, Andrew Hutchins

The assumption is, of course, that a pulitzer prize represents the very best of fiction, non fiction and reporting.  The second assumption is that the prize will immediately catapult  the honorees to fame and fortune.  Since I know that to not be true, I also wanted to share a comment by Publishers as to the state of the prize winner’s Amazon rankings.

On the morning after the prize announcments were made, only The Orphan Master’s Son had risen to Amazon’s top 100, going from #1,846 (before the announcment) to #6.

Three other winners saw a sizable increase: 

  • Stag’s Leap went to #289 (from #82,000)   
  • The Black Count went to #222 (from #13,000)  
  • Embers of War went to #373 (from #33,000). 
  • Devil in the Grove was #963 as of April 16.

I bring these numbers up because sometimes authors get caught up in Amazon rankings – NY Times rankings, SF Chronicle Bay Area rankings.  It’s our holy grail.  But at the same time, achieving number one in any ranking can be as unrealistic as actually looking like a magazine model.

Consider what other benefits come with the awards, with the recognition   Your introductions will always begin with “Prize winning . . .”  You can list it on your CV, on the back of the next book. The next book will be an easier sell.

All those things matter. But if  one of the most prestigious  prizes in the country cannot propel a book to number one or even five.  Maybe we should start counting other things.

 

You are welcome to re-post this article in your own blog or

You are welcome to re-post this article in your own blog or  newsletter – please include this entire statement,  “Catharine Bramkamp is a Writing Coach and podcaster, find out if you’re ready to go from  Newbie to Known visit www.yourbookstartshere.com or bramkamp@yahoo.com for a complimentary consultation.” 

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How to Create That Short Bio

We all know to create a short elevator speech right?  It’s also called the 30 second speech.  When someone asks you what you do – you respond with a practiced, brilliant, witty, concise biography that includes the big picture of what you do, something about what you love or your passion, and a call to action close.

Daffodils by MichaelAnd if that wasn’t enough pressure, we also should have a similar one for our quick bios at the end of our blog posts, linked in, tags to speeches and advice and of course, on our web sites.

If you have it down, all the brilliant and sparkly stuff that makes for a compelling introduction – good for you!  Send it to me as a stellar example and I’ll read it out on the podcast.

But maybe you do not have one of these handy autobiographies  at the ready.  If not, my friend Beth Barany created a nice outline for how to create a short bio.

Check it out!

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Word Press Advice

Newbie Writers Podcast guest Brett Bumeter is a WordPress expert, he gave us some good tips listed here –  for the whole interview, listen on Newbie Writers.com

The Best Blog tool right now is WordPress,  18% of the world is using WordPress so that helps your Google ranking.

Free, you can start small.  Can move up to something larger if you want.

A good blog provides entertainment or information.

Themes

The look of your blog is obviously important.  Should you pay for themes?  Not necessarily, free themes are fine to use, but do check their age.  A good theme should stil be supported,  was the theme made in the last 3 to 6 months? Read the reviews, are they positive or negative, that matters for the health of your blog.

Do the theme developers respond to questions?  In English?

It the theme intuitive?

Should you change your theme often to keep it interesting?  Not necessarily but fans will want and expect you to improve and gain sophistication, so improving is great, change for just change may not be as necessary.

The easiest color scheme for text is black wording on white background

And remember, 40% of visitors on your site use mobile devices.

For more tips visit Brett’s blog   Petered Out

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Write About the Trivial

Spring in Las Vegas

Spring in Las Vegas

I am always happy when a Newbie Writers Podcast guest confirms what I tell writers to do all the time: keep a journal.  Not only keep a journal but write in it as well.

Write about all the important stuff.

Write about your goals.

And, little known use: write about all the trivial crap that clutters up your head at any given moment. And get it out of the way.

Writing all the stupid stuff down, will, to a certain extent, prevent you from uttering all that stuff out loud. And that is a good thing.

Have you ever sat with a friend or relative and make the grave mistake of inquiring after their day, and they immediately respond with an avalanche of trivia.  What they ate for breakfast, their opinion about seven grain bread and how it should include another grain, perhaps they think the new seven grain bread should include one more grain.   sun flower seeds,  or maybe flax, they heard that flax is particularly good for you, have you ever tried those flax chips? You can buy them at Costco right now, although  you know with Costco they never stock products consistently, especially if you really like it. . .

That kind of response.

Writing all that down in a journal, first thing in the morning will save you and those you love, from a similar fate.   Eat  your toast, and write down all the thoughts you have about that toast.  Once this kind of musing is written down, it’s finished.  You won’t need to express it out loud to anyone.

This helps in two ways:

Your own thoughts about toast become clear.  You can then summarize your morning musings by saying that you ate toast for breakfast and it was pretty good, have you ever heard of eight grain bread?

And you can concentrate on the other person, because you’ve adequately expressed all your own opinions already.

Of course, out of deceptively simple and trivial musings, come much better material.  Sometimes all that junk is just the throat clearing we need to do before our voice is warmed up and ready to discuss brilliant and difficult topics of the day.

But the best way to do it, is off line, into a journal. As as result, in reall life, you will look smarter.

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Katy Moran – Writer and Author 

Our guest on Newbie Writers Podcast was the cooperative and cheerful Katy Moran from the edges of Wales who made both Damien and myself feel better about our weather.

She shared how a simple brooch, an artifact sparked two novels.  And the key to writing is to do it for your own enjoyment.  Because, as we said before, you may not be published, you may not become famous.  But if you love the work – the time is well spent.

Check out her books:

Katy Moran's new book

Katy Moran – Writer and Author | .

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