Till We Read Again

“Write an article!” Jennifer said. “It will be fun!” Jennifer said. “You can do it!” Jennifer said. And you know what? Jennifer was right.

Manos de persona tecleando en máquina de escribir vintage en mesa de madera vista desde arriba

In 2017, I wrote my first article for the Inspired Prompt – a short summary about my favorite story, Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption. Before that, I never considered writing articles. I thought of myself as a fiction writer. I had a very narrow (and outrageous) view of what I thought a writer’s life was like – hunched over my typewriter, coffee steaming beside me, I would peck out a best-seller that made J.K. Rowlings look like an amateur. The Pulitzer Prize committee and critics from the New York Times would camp out on my front lawn, begging me to take awards and prizes. I would have to hire a personal accountant just to handle all the book advances publishing companies threw at me. Whenever I stepped outside, fans would scream and clamor for me to acknowledge them, even more zealous than Beatlemania back in the day.

Crazy, right? I don’t even drink coffee! I knew a writer’s life was actually normal, just with deadlines and rough drafts. But I did have that tunnel vision of “I am a fiction writer.” Writing for Inspired Prompt made me realize there is not one way to write and I don’t have to pigeonhole myself. I am not just a writer of young adult fantasies or horror or articles or cookbooks or biographies.

I am a writer. Period. I am honored that Inspired Prompt was my first foray into public writing.

Until we meet again. Flag in skydiving. People in free fall.Teampleat skydiver. Extreme sport.

 Thank you, Jennifer and Betty, for encouraging me and making me feel welcome. I have enjoyed my time with everyone on the site. You have inspired me and taught me. Best wishes, love, and continued success to my fellow web-mates. To all our readers, thank you for the encouragement and for reading! Now it is time for the next step on our individual journeys. Maybe our paths will cross again. I hope so. Happy travels!

One last prompt: What do you mean my luggage isn’t here? Where is it?

 

Writers, It’s Party Time!

By Tammy Trail

If you plan to publish a new book in 2020, why not consider a Facebook Launch party?

Of course, you will need to create a Facebook author page. This page is specifically for the public to learn about your new book, and about you as the author. It’s your place to shine.

A great header on your page can help to advertise your book. Include the title, and a little bit about your book. Perhaps tease your audience with a bit of backstory or the world you have created for your characters. For instance, the setting for my new story is New Mexico. I plan to use hot air balloons as a backdrop for my setting. So, I could possibly use hot air balloons in my header to entice my reader into finding out more. Just remember to make it stand out to catch the eye. It’s also a good idea to create and post a book trailer on your page to engage your guests.

As your potential reader, I will need to know where I can find your book, and when will it be available? Maybe do a cover reveal during your launch party, and get your readers involved by guessing from the cover where your story takes place. You could garner some enthusiasm with a giveaway. A copy of your book, a gift card, or an item that may go along with the theme of your story.

Next, you will want to create an event for your Facebook Launch party. Go to Facebook options for full instructions on setup. Make sure you invite all of your friends. Encourage your friends to tell their friends about your new book that will be available soon. Allow your page to be public so that it may be shared in the Facebook world.

Guests will want to get to know you better. Share yourself with them, provide a bio, your social media links, and an opportunity to sign up for your newsletter, follow your new author page on Facebook, share your blog information and how they can follow you there. Ask them to follow you on Goodreads and encourage them to post comments about your book.

  • Post writing prompts for your guest to finish in order to win a prize.
  • Have your guests pick who wrote the best prompt to determine the winner.
  • Keep your attendees engaged by using games of trivia, or sharing what they like best about a movie character, story settings, or favorite heroes or heroines from books they have read.
  • Food is also a great topic to share.

The possibilities are only as endless as your imagination. Just remember to have fun!

Writing is hard work, but that is just the beginning of your journey. You are set to make wonderful new friends who are writers like yourself and want to encourage you, or readers who will fall in love with your story. Promoting yourself and the product you have worked so hard on should be fun and engaging. So, get creative.

Writing Prompt: Helen has a  novel coming out, and needs ideas for a cover. What do some of your favorite book covers include? Help Helen out be giving her some great advice.

Click to Tweet:  Let the good times roll #Facebook launch party.

The Growing Trend of Audiobooks

By Cammi Woodall

We have come full circle. Humankind’s rich story telling tradition started with nomads huddled around a campfire, listening to the elders spin tales and lore. We graduated to words written on animal skins, papyrus, clay tablets, paper, and even a digital screen. Now, with the popularity of audiobooks, the spoken story is once again skyrocketing in popularity. With sales in 2017 reaching multi-billions of dollars, oral story telling has once again become the norm.

Audiobooks started out as a reading alternative for the visually impaired. In the early 1930’s, the American Foundation for the Blind and the Library of Congress joined to create vinyl records. Now the blind could enjoy works by William Shakespeare, Helen Keller, and Edgar Allen Poe, along with selections from the Bible and the Declaration of Independence. These early recordings were about fifteen minutes long per side. To help with distribution, the United States Postal Service agreed to send ‘talking books’ free of charge through the mail. This allowed people across the nation to benefit and enjoy literature with ease.

From vinyl records, the recordings graduated to cassette tapes. During the 1970s, most audiobooks were abridged books produced for the visually impaired, but companies began to see other opportunities for a wider customer range. Professional voice actors were hired and studios were opened to produce better quality recordings. By the 1980s, new technology allowed twice as much recording on a single cassette. This allowed unabridged versions of classics and best-sellers. Audiobooks became more mainstream and available through such places as Time-Life or the Book-of-the-Month club. Soon CDs became the standard as technology marched forward.

In 1997, Audible.com (pre-Amazon) introduced the ‘Audible Player’, a mass-market digital media player dedicated solely for audiobooks. Retailing for $200, the device held two hours of audio. Up to this time, people were limited by the physicality of cassettes and CDs. You had to go to a library or bookstore to get one, or wait for one to come through the mail. Digital downloads meant you could get a book anywhere and anytime you could get online.

Then Amazon came along and bought Audible. The two companies combined to become the biggest seller of audible downloads. On the chase behind them is Apple iTunes, Google Play, and Japanese-based Rakuten. Healthy competition benefits the readers – I mean, listeners – of audiobooks. More titles are released each year, with publishers pouring over backlogs or asking authors for original works.

So who listens to audiobooks, and where do they listen to them? Simply put, everybody listens everywhere. Approximately 54% of listeners are 18 to 44 years of age. They read or listen to 15 books per year on average, with the most popular categories being suspense/thriller, romance, and science fiction. At home and in the car are the most common places to listen, usually on a Smartphone.

Audiobooks have achieved sales increases in the double digits for the last six years. With advances in technology, these numbers are expected to keep growing over the next few years. So what does this mean for an author? New avenues for your stories. Today’s technology means we no longer have to rely upon traditional brick-and-mortar publishing houses.

Those nomads around the campfire would be overwhelmed by the technology we have to access information and entertainment. I think they would be glad however, that we have returned to the voice, to a tale enriched by the human emotions and nuances that bring a story to life.

 

Prompt – She jumped as she heard the crashing sound behind her. Pulling out her earbuds, she spun around.

Working with the Industry: Editor Interview with Karin Beery

This month’s “Working with the Industry” posts are a real eye opener for me. I just love to learn. And when the lesson has anything to do with improving my writing skills, I’m all ears.

All of us need a helping hand every once in a while. Your critique partners and Beta readers may think your story is the next best thing to hit the market. However, once you expose it to someone who is working in the writing industry it may still need work.

For my editor interview, I asked a few questions of my editor friend Karin Beery. I first met Karin while we commiserated in the same critique group for about a year. She is a champion of helping others achieve a quality product they can be proud to present for publication.

Be teachable. If you’re unwilling to take an editor’s advice, there’s no point in hiring an editor.

What is the best advice you can give to an established writer and newbie alike on the writing craft?
Be teachable. Even if you’ve been in the industry for a while, things change. Editors should be aware of those changes. If you’re unwilling to take an editor’s advice, there’s no point in hiring an editor.

What book have you read that you would have loved to edit, and how would you have changed it to your liking?
I don’t necessarily want to name the book because I don’t want to embarrass anyone, but several years ago I read a fantasy book that “everyone” was talking about. It was simultaneously the most interesting and most boring book I’ve ever read! Since then I’ve ready many books with the same three common issues:

  • stereotypical characters
  • spending too much time describing unnecessary details (such as exactly what each character is wearing in every scene) while failing to describe necessary components (like establishing scene setting)
  • not enough conflict.

How does an author know when the time is right to engage an editor before publication?
Ask! Almost every editor I know will provide a free sample edit/review of at least the first few pages. I’ve told several authors that they aren’t ready for editing yet, then offered suggestions for how they can strengthen their writing. If you’re afraid to ask an editor, then find someone in the publishing industry for their honest input (and be ready for honesty!).

What should a writer expect when entering into a contract with an editor?
 Regardless of what kind of an edit a writer needs, there are a few things they should expect from any competent, professional editor:

  • Edits/Comments – if you get a clean manuscript back, that’s not actually a good sign. No one’s perfect (even published books have typos!). If your editor can’t find anything wrong with your story, he/she might not know what to be looking for.
  • Proper Edits/Comments – proofreads are the last step in the editorial process. If your proofread includes rewrites and restructuring, that’s not really a proofread. Make sure you know the difference between the services so you’re getting the right edit.
  • Industry Standards – an editor’s job is to help you clean up your manuscript, not to rewrite it to his/her personal beliefs or preferences.
About Karin Beery

Editor. Teacher. Novelist.

A passionate lover of fiction, Karin doesn’t just write novels, she helps others write their best stories! A certified substantive editor with the Christian Editor Connection, her goal is to help authors to put her out of business by equipping them with the tools they need to become better writers.

Want to know more about Karin?

Connect with her at: KarinBerry.com, FaceBook, Twitter, and Instagram.

The Mystery of the Inspiring Author

by Tammy Trail

I am sitting in my office deciding which author I should choose to focus on for this month’s blog post. Too many to list. Do I pick a current favorite, or chose one from childhood?

We moved around a lot while I was growing up in the 70’s. I think being the new kid is the worst thing, ever. After spending a week or two in a new classroom you realized most of the kids sitting around you lived in the same neighborhoods, attended the same church together and shared the same classrooms from preschool to middle school. I absolutely hated middle school. You could not pay me enough money to relive those years.

Instead of being Miss Popularity (never even got close), I was the bookworm. I had a book with me everywhere I went (I still do). While my classmates were visiting before class, I would pull out my book and read. Once in awhile a teacher had to physically remove a book from my hands  to get my attention. I heard a familiar phrase during those years,  that while they appreciated my love of reading, I had to learn other skills too. So, in honor of that geeky, scrawny, metal mouth pre-teen I am going to choose Carolyn Keene, author of the beloved Nancy Drew mystery series. My favorite Nancy Drew book was “The Secret of Shadow Ranch.”  I imagined myself right there with Nancy as she searched for clues and dared to go against tradition and prove girls can achieve wonderful things just as well as boys can, or maybe even better sometimes.

While doing a bit of research I found that the name Carolyn Keene was a pseudonym for several authors. No one person came up with all of those page-turning stories, but several writers authored the Nancy Drew books. One was Mildred Wirt Benson who wrote under the pen name from 1929 to 1947. She wrote the first twenty-three books of the original thirty book series. I also was amazed to find that her second marriage to George A. Benson, an editor for the Toledo Blade, landed her in my home town of Toledo, Ohio. Mildred was a bit of an adventurer herself, and a fearless like Nancy Drew. She made trips to Central America, traveling through the jungles in a jeep and canoed down rivers, to scout out cultural sites. In 2001 Mildred Benson received a special Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for her work on the Nancy Drew series.

Click to Tweet: I imagined myself right there with Nancy (Drew) as she searched for clues and dared to go against tradition, prove girls can achieve wonderful things just as well as boys can… from @trail_j via @InspiredPrompt #mystery #amreading


I still like a good suspense or mystery story to read. If you are so inclined, feel free to indulge in my story. I wrote a historical romance, with a bit of intrigue for a compilation with three other authors. I hope you will find enjoyment from all the stories.Tammy Trail, Mary Vee, Pamela Thibodeaux

Major John Tennant has recently returned from his post on the frontier to find his home razed to the ground and his children in the care of strangers. He struggles to bring the man responsible for the murder of his family to  justice while providing for his children.

After her fiance is impressed into the Royal Navy, Elaine Henderson is willing to do anything to help her brothers fight against British oppression. For years she has carried a bitterness in her heart until Providence replaces it with two motherless children.

Get Star Spangled Suspense at Amazon