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Category: Guest Post

GUEST POST: How to Market Yourself as a Writer and Build an Audience

Author MarketingSucceeding as an author on the internet is predicated on the ability to adequately market yourself and your work. You may write the best eBook on the market, yet lacking the ability to craft an equally compelling “pitch” will seriously hamper the likelihood of anyone reading or purchasing said eBook. All works must be compelling in both presentation (headline, cover, etc) and content (article, video, etc).

The quality of your presentation will determine whether someone picks up your book or clicks on your link. Terrible content with great presentation will attract curiosity but will not create or retain fans. Great content with terrible presentation (see: marketing) will struggle in obscurity but could still build a small loyal following.

In order to connect your work with potential readers and consumers, focus on three primary goals:

  1. Make a great impression
  2. Promote engagement
  3. Demonstrate long-term value

If you are an online publisher who writes articles or columns, your first impression to readers comes via an attractive headline. Great headlines attract views. Compelling content engages readers. Together, these components demonstrate value and results in social shares.

Attract an Audience

You only have a split second to make an impression. According to Copyblogger, “On average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest.”

If you’re writing online, that great impression can be crafting a bold headline worth clicking on but don’t devolve into click-bait. This spammy practice damages your credibility and irritates readers when the content of the article is quite different than advertised. For novelists, making an impression can mean paying extra for truly eye-catching cover art or spending additional time perfecting the title or back cover synopsis.

It’s all about effective communication. Are you demonstrating that you’re worth time and effort? The same principle holds true when contacting potential partners or outreaching media outlets to gain coverage. Don’t waste the only chance you have to make a great first impression.

How many times have you received a spammy email asking for money or favors? Probably more times than you can count. For journalists, this spam problem is often multiplied by SEOs and well-meaning regular people who just don’t know how to communicate with them.

The key to increasing your email open rates lies in doing two things very well: writing great subject lines and establishing immediate relevance. Tell your audience (or email recipient) who are are, exactly what you want, and why you’re an expert.

What sounds more authoritative in an email?

Introducing the latest Afghanistan tell-all

from Medal of Honor recipient,

& Navy SEAL Bob Jones:

‘FURIOUS DESERT FURY’

Or…

“hey guys. I really like playing Call of Dooty

so I writed this book because its my pashion

and very cool. Plz read and friend me

on xbawks @ superwritersduty2005”

Promote Engagement

Engagement is all about encouraging an active conversation surrounding your content. The bottom line is that you need to create great content that people want to talk about and share. This can take many forms. Most successful websites possess some combination of:

  • Comments
  • Social media profiles
  • Customer surveys
  • Feedback pages

Not only do these create opportunities for readers to share opinions and commentary, but they also help your site’s search engine rankings by encouraging others to link to your pages. Increased engagement is the natural result of entertaining conversations surrounding worthwhile content.

Demonstrate Value

Your initial “pitch” via art or headline offered just enough value to gain an audience. Now you must demonstrate long-term value in order to keep their attention while avoiding the dreaded sophomore slump — the phenomenon of creating a smash-hit and then following it up with lesser quality work. Cementing your value means that you should continue to produce content of equally great quality.

It’s understandable why following success can be intimidating: there’s more pressure, and it can feel like you have less creative freedom. Stick to your guns and remember why you’re doing this in the first place. Think about new ways you can demonstrate or market your expertise, and you can offer that knowledge as a way to diversify your cash flow. If your specialty is in written content, perhaps consider branching out into video or other visual ways of communicating. People are willing to spend their time (and money) with individuals they can trust to help resolve their problems.

People follow you for a reason. Appeal to that audience within your niche. Troy Lambert has built his content brand on teaching other writers how to live up to their fullest potential through expanding their skill-set. Regularly offering advice, tutorials, and anecdotes can provide readers with valuable resources to resolve their own problems within the industry.

Ultimately, you’re building upon why they came to you in the first place. You attracted an audience for a reason, and by engaging them in your content and community, it will demonstrate why you’re a continued resource for quality content. Your lasting value is in the quality content and engaging message that you share with others.

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GUEST POST: 5 Ways Zoho Projects Helped Me Grow My Wedding Business

All small businesses, including being an author or freelance writer, have many things in common. One is that you must learn to organize your projects. People use different kinds of software to do so. Fred Findley owns his own wedding business, and today shares how Zoho Projects has helped him grow.

While growing your business never ceases to present new challenges, I am sure most business owners can remember the early days. One hundred hour work weeks that begin before sunrise and end well past midnight. A few hours of sleep then start all over again.

In the beginning, everything is new and processes are constantly changing and developing. Eventually, these processes start becoming standard procedures, but everything is in the brain of the owner who is operating off memory. Even the best of us would forget the most minor of steps from time to time, or know that deep down each project you did wasn’t always being done 100% like the previous project.

Eventually, all small businesses have to organize their procedures; projects for clients, processing contracts, social media tasks, or other day-to-day operations. Until that happens, that small business owner suffers from inconsistencies, mistakes (small and large), and the inability to have assistance or employees help because all the processes are in the memory of the owner.

My Introduction to Lean Concepts and Operational Excellence

While I was getting my wedding business started ( www.FineLineWeddings.com ), I was also doing corporate photo and video work. I was incredibly fortunate that one of my earliest clients was an organization that provided operational excellence consulting to firms, manufacturers, and hospitals. If you’re unfamiliar with operational excellence, think of lean concepts, but on a much more iin-depthscale.

While I was photographing and recording their events and lectures, I begin to realize what the next steps were to growing my business: I needed to finally take a hard look at all my operations and outline the step by step processes and understand our process flow.

ZOHO and My Search for Online Project Management

Developing step by step processes for my procedures was only the first step. Once I did this, I knew I needed some kind of tool to track these processes. I began searching the web for an ‘online project management’ tool. Luckily, I came across Zoho, and specifically their ‘Projects’ application.

What is Zoho Projects?

As stated on their website at www.zoho.com/projects : “Projects is an online project management app that helps you plan your work and
keep track of your progress. It also lets the people in the project communicate easily, discuss ideas, and stay updated. This lets you deliver quality results on time.”

 

5 Ways Zoho Projects Helped Me Grow My Business

1. Eliminated working off memory
2. Perfected our process flow
3. Ensures same service for every customer
4. Enabled distribution of work
5. Centralized shared information among team
Above are the 5 ways in which Zoho Projects helped my wedding business. But let’s go ahead and break down each benefit.

Eliminated working off memory…

Someone who has never built a business from the ground up would never know the extreme amount of operational processes are jammed into the memory of a small business owner in the early days. I cannot tell you what a relief it was several months into using Zoho Projects. Day-to-day procedures and important tasks for client projects were finally something I could allow my brain to stop worrying about. Once all these tasks were broken down into standard procedures in our Zoho Projects it was such a ‘freeing’ experience. It was like my brain could actually be
used for other things again. I could also stop worrying about step by step tasks and start focusing on growing my business and adding new procedures, knowing that I wouldn’t have to store more and more procedures all in my memory banks… Zoho Projects had plenty of room for that.

Perfected our process flow…

Once you finally tackle your process flows and see all your tasks outlined step by step, you can finally improve these procedures. Perhaps one task doesn’t go far enough and during that stage you can do more. Or perhaps some tasks are redundant and can be eliminated. Perhaps you can take a group of tasks and use newer or better software to achieve better results during that stage. Once your process flow is figured out, you can easily work on constant improvement and THAT is a huge key to growing your business.

Ensures same service for every customer…

Zoho Projects allowed us to make sure that each of our customers received that exact same customer experience 100% of the time. As we proceeded with tasks such as processing a wedding contract, exporting images, importing video footage, etc. as long as we followed our outlined list of tasks for these processes step by step, we could make sure that each client received the same experience as every other client.

And when you consider my previously mentioned benefit of perfecting your process flow, this means that not only can you ensure results for your customer, you can continue to raise the bar higher and higher for those results.

Enabled distribution of work…

This is perhaps one of the most important steps in growing your business. Eventually, to grow your business past a certain point, you have to be able to replicate procedures with more people. With Zoho Projects, gone were the days of not being able to have employees do tasks because only I knew how to do things. Instead, all the tasks were outlined within Zoho Projects, and once trained, the employee only had to follow the same list of tasks for each project handed to him or her.

Centralized shared information among team…

When you are able to distribute work, you can suddenly have different team members working on different stages of a large project. But there are times when team members need data or files or information from another team member. To overcome this, we simply standardized steps for the team members working on early stages of a project to record the information that other team members would need later in the process. This kept the machine humming without constantly having slow downs.

 

Fred Findley is a wedding photographer in Pittsburgh, PA. His company, FineLine Weddings was established in 2007 and offers wedding services including photography, video, DJ, and photo booth rentals. FineLine also has a professional portrait studio located in Greensburg, PA.

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GUEST POST: Becoming a Freelance Writing Consultant

Freelance Writing ConsultantIt is estimated that 34% of the U.S. workforce is made up of freelancers. Many freelancers have found ways to go from gig to full-time work, while others stay part-time while juggling other responsibilities. What typically differentiates a freelance writing consultant from early career freelancers is that these consultants typically already have experience in their field. The consultant will then use that knowledge for the benefit of their clients.

The current freelance economy is thriving, and is made up of 53 million U.S. workers. Becoming a freelance writing consultant is a great option for those seeking to supplement their existing income and expand their writing experiences. This can include doing typical freelance work, ie, “I assign you a project and you complete it,” but can also involve offering career advice and professional guidance.

The simplified process is as follows:

  • Market your best skills
  • Successfully complete projects
  • Build momentum through positive feedback
  • Consistently hone your skills

Say for example that you’re a editor by day for a book publisher and you’ve been doing this for several years. To someone who is just starting out writing and editing, your professional expertise can be valuable…and lucrative. Whatever skills you possess or unique talents you have on your side, you can advertise these in order to gain clients.

If you’re pursuing freelancing on the side of a full-time job, it can be difficult to maintain motivation unless you break any cycles of procrastination. Being a self-starter is a required trait to be successful as a freelance writing consultant. In addition to building up your reputation, succeeding as a freelancer will help you build the confidence you need to persist even when times are lean.

There are several ways to go about offering your services. You can use freelance marketplaces like Upwork, network through LinkedIn, build your own website, or do some combination of these three. Whichever method you use, the important thing is to present yourself professionally and demonstrate your skill set. This isn’t a passive process however. Networking is necessary if you want potential clients to discover you. As you successfully complete projects and help your clients achieve their goals, positive word-of-mouth will help you build momentum.

A challenging yet rewarding aspect of owning your own consultancy is the administrative upkeep necessary. Running your own business means you must take care of your own taxes, invoices, and the rest of the paper trail. Fortunately there are many helpful resources that will teach you how to do this and even offer sample templates that you can adapt for your own purposes. Before tax season rolls around you’ll want to have all your financials in order. Keep meticulous physical or digital records, and ideally back-up those files. Though if the worst happens and the digital dog eats your homework, you can often still recover that data from failed storage devices and hard-drives. Be thorough and document everything, or back-up your files on cloud-based programs like Google Docs or Spreadsheets.

Thriving as a freelance writing consultant is hard work, yet the freedom and experience you can gain is often worth it. You don’t need to be a world-renowned expert to share your abilities and make a difference in the lives of your clients. Put your best foot forward, always keep improving your skills, and you’ll be well on your way to establishing yourself as a professional writer. Like Hemingway said, “let them think you were born that way.”

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Digital Marketing for Authors: Infographics

Make no mistake, if you are an author, you are in the digital marketing field. You need to market your work to as many places as you can.

One of the ways we have discussed here to improve Google ranking is through creating backlinks to your site from other sites. Here is a guest post from James Franklin about the role of infographics in digital marketing.

You, as an author, can use your book covers to create infographics about your series, your characters, or other aspects of your work, and share them with other websites who might find them useful. This is a simple way to earn links back to your site without creating a bunch of content. Here’s James’ take on infographics from the perspective of a digital marketer. And hey, the infographic is about gaming monitors. What writer doesn’t want one of those to game on after a hard day of writing?

For all of those in the digital marketing field, you all know how much of a task it can be to build links up to other sites to improve Search Engine Optimization. Why are they important? Because links are the number one thing you need to rank. By building up multiple backlinks, a site will move up on search engines like Google.

This post is about my favorite format of content: Infographics. Why are they my favorite? Because it’s one of the simplest ways to get links. Infographics mean link building doesn’t require you to type content all day long until your fingers ache. I have been using infographic’s to get my clients some great domain authority. Here’s why it works. Links are the reason for content marketing. It isn’t to “tell Google we know what we are talking about.”. It’s to get links. Links is what helps rank websites at the top of the SERPs. Good links are earned by providing good content.

Most people think that websites are pleading for guest posts since it is “free content” but that isn’t the case. I can ensure you that any large website that is considered an “authority” has a large group of staff dedicated to its content. They have staff that plan, review, edit, and scan it. Even a “free” guest post goes through several sets of hands the website employs.

Why do infographic’s get more views and more social media shares than a standard blog post? It’s because website visitors are often looking for simple answers in visual form. They often skim articles. That is why formatting is so significant. It’s imperative to have something that while informative is also fun, colorful, and a provides the information the searcher is looking for.

This infographic created by The Gaming Monitor has clear headings, a bold and clear structure, great content and is a great example of the type of infographic which sites need to be using to improve links and SEO rankings.

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GUEST POST: Treat Your Writing Career Like A Small Business

david-kirby-quote

Aspiring writers are a dime a dozen. As a writer myself I meet many like-minded individuals with dreams of pursuing a career writing full-time. Instead of treating it like a career, they instead view it as a far-off event that may or may not ever arrive. People like this aren’t convinced that they can make it happen, and might be living a self-fulfilling prophecy of literary underachievement. Today is the day to change that.

Fake It Till You Make It

If you want to become an Olympic sprinter then you need to run practically every day. It takes copious amounts of time, blood, sweat, and self belief. Writing is the same way. Don’t just aspire to become a successful writer – write consistently and fake it till you make it. There’s nothing wrong with being casually committed to the craft like most writers, but if you ever plan on living off your writing…being like most writers isn’t good enough. A better mindset to have is to treat your career like a small business

Once more with feeling: Treat your writing career like a small business. You’re the face of your company and your own best advocate. Do yourself a favor and take the steps that will enable you to succeed. That means consistency, documentation, and professionalism.

You Deserve To Be Paid

Try to recognize that your words are your product and worth payment in exchange for others reading them. A sort of culture has developed where people taking writing for granted. We consume news, editorials, reviews, and all manner of written content online constantly and for free. Somewhere along the line the public decided that since they consume it for free, it wasn’t worth anything. There are too many online publications that refuse to give their regular contributors a dollar, choosing instead to repeat the tired refrain of ‘publicity’ when there’s very little of that too.

Over time I’ve come to see that our writing only has as much value as we place on it. From the first moment you plant yourself in front of the keyboard you should keep the frame of mind that your writing is worthwhile and worth being compensated for. If your goal is to get publicity, then by all means accept it as payment. Otherwise remember that free content has its purposes but alone doesn’t put bread on your table. Getting paid does.

Get Help From Your Friends

It’s important to surround yourself with allies who are actively pursuing similar goals. Small business conferences and writing seminars are both great environments to cultivate your fighting spirit. You’ll need it for the road ahead – the name ‘small business’ already tells you what you can expect. It’s small and it will take time to grow. Seek out mentors that can help you gain a foothold in your niche. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and make mistakes as long as you keep trying. Successful friends and teachers are guide posts that light your way. You won’t be able to duplicate their success immediately and that’s OK. I know quitting your day job tomorrow to pursue a life of pure bliss writing reviews of Bonanza re-runs sounds great, but that’s a long ways off. You have to earn it first. Writing as a business is not and has never been a ‘get rich quick’ scheme. This is a multifaceted process that requires your full effort. Don’t forget that you have friends that can help you on your journey.

Master Many Skills

Recognize that as a jack or jane-of-all-trades, your business is never just writing. You’re responsible for writing, sure, but you’re also responsible for promoting yourself and managing the small yet important financial details. You have to factor in the accounting side of running a small business or working as a 1099 freelancer. Navigating tax laws as a small business owner can be tricky, especially when taking into consideration tax credits and deductions. Small businesses often have narrow margins and you must take care to save money at every opportunity possible. Along the way perhaps you’ll also design your own logo or even design your office space. Having friends to help is good but you must also develop your own skills.

Believe In Yourself First

I think it all begins with a fundamental mindset shift from freelancer to business owner. Viewing yourself as a freelancer only can feel too much like being an employee or a tumbleweed that rolls from town to town in search of work. Instead, think of and treat yourself as a sole proprietor that sells quality goods (your words) and services (your expertise) to customers, no matter how big or small. It’s all part of how you market your work and it begins with empowering yourself. You’re the baddest in the west and you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.

You’re not the drifting gunfighter that roams from saloon to saloon in search of work. Give yourself more credit, because in many ways you’re the saloon itself. Gunfighters, wranglers, and farmers from all across the state come to your establishment in search of opportunities and a good drink. You’re a jack or jane-of-all-trades: tough, skilled, and with friends to boot. Seize your writing career today by treating it like the business it’s always been. 

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GUEST POST: 3 Signs Self-Doubt is Trying to Destroy Your Creative World

I’ve followed Colleen for a while now, and love her blog and all of her posts. They have become a highlight of my monday and #MondayBlogs. Today, she guest posts on my site. Enjoy! I know you will learn something. I did.

I’ve interviewed over 100 authors over the past two years, and I’ve learned one thing we all have in common:

Self-doubt.

From short-story writers to novelists, thriller escapers to romance weavers to fantasy spinners to literary thinkers, self-published to traditionally published, newbies to old hats, it doesn’t matter.

Just about every writer had a story to tell about how the self-doubt demon had threatened to open its giant mouth and swallow her whole.

“I become plagued with self-doubt,” says women’s fiction writer Linda K. Sienkiewicz. “I fear I’m wasting my time, kidding myself when I say I’m a writer, flogging a dead horse. Oh, those horrible negative voices in my head!”

“I wage a constant battle with self-doubt,” says USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Bernard. “I often think of it as an iron ball chained to my leg, slowing me down. It makes everything more difficult. Promotion is harder, bouncing back from rejection is harder. I wonder what the writing life would be like without it?”

Jennifer admits she may never know, and I imagine the same could be said for most writers (and other creative artists). Though we can beat it back, self-doubt is like a mosquito in the middle of the night. No matter how many times you swat at it, it just keeps buzzing in your ear and biting your skin.

And it’s got teeth, very sharp, dangerous teeth. If we allow it to get too close, it can shred our confidence, sap our motivation, and gradually tear down our desire to create at all.

“And if I’ve learned one thing,” said animated movie Frozen director and screenwriter Jennifer Lee during a University of New Hampshire commencement speech in 2014, “it’s that self-doubt is one of the most destructive forces….Self-doubt is consuming and cruel and my hope is today that we can all collectively agree to ban it.”

Unfortunately, if we think we can somehow live life without it, we’re going to be disappointed. I’ve learned through lots of interviews with creative people that it’s a common companion, no matter how successful you get.

That doesn’t mean, however, that we have to let it mess with us. Below are three signs that self-doubt is trying to destroy your creative world—and what you can do to stop it.

1. Your work isn’t fun anymore.

You’re dreading, or worse, avoiding your writing time. You slog through the pages like you’re walking through a four-foot drift. When people ask you how it’s going, you change the subject, roll your eyes, or shrug your shoulders.

“Okay,” you say, and let it go at that.

Something’s wrong, but you’re not sure what. Could be that you’re tired—not enough sleep or too much stress in your life. Maybe you’ve been eating a lousy diet or you’ve avoided your exercise.

But beware, because this could be the work of the self-doubt demon. It lurks around at the edges of your subconscious mind, feeding you destructive messages about how your work is going nowhere, and is a complete waste of time.

In other words, it’s a huge killjoy.

Action Step

If you’ve noticed that you just can’t get excited about your work these days, take a moment to think back. Maybe some event preceded how you feel. A rejection, critical review, or even an offhand comment from a friend. Maybe someone said something about how much money you make (or don’t) as a writer, or you came to the realization that your book just hasn’t sold well.

Maybe it was your own thought that started it all. “I don’t really know what I’m doing. It’s been five years and I haven’t gotten as far as I hoped.”

Somewhere along the way, a seed was planted, and self-doubt grew.

Once you discover what started it all, write it down. (If you can’t remember, just write down your main doubting thought.) Seeing the cause or even just the thought in black-and-white can help it feel less powerful.

Next, ask yourself if you’ve been here before. Has this type of statement or event (like a rejection) triggered this feeling in you in the past? Do you remember attaching a lot of significance to a similar opinion or event in your life? If so, did you overcome it?

If you’re still writing, the answer is “yes.”

Realize that self-doubt is habitual. Finding evidence of similar feelings in the past can help you realize that this is just a pattern, and that you don’t have to give it so much power or significance. The more you see evidence of that, the less pressure and heaviness you’ll feel, which will help you more quickly get back to the fun of creating.

2. You’re not showing anyone your work.

You say that it’s not ready yet, but when you go to work on your manuscript, you know you’re tinkering. It’s time, but you keep finding reasons to wait.

Reasons to hide.

One of the biggest mistakes I made in my writing career was failing to submit often enough. It was only when I finally got ticked off at my lack of progress that I splurged on submissions. Shortly after that, I got my first novel publishing contract.

Looking back, I know that I feared rejection. I kept thinking if I could make the submission perfect, maybe I could avoid the pain, but that’s not how it works.

I know now that it’s better for your overall career to keep writing—move on to the next project, and the next—while getting your old work out there. Even if you don’t get it published, you’ll learn something, either through editor/agent comments or just by gaining some space from your work, and moving onto the next project.

Most likely, if you’re not sharing your work, self-doubt has a hold on you.

Action Step

Create a submission schedule. Send your story or poem or novel out to five places at a time (journals, magazines, editors, agents, your choice). If and when they come back, send them out to five more. Then move on to your next project.

Ignore the doubt. Just do the work. Gradually, the doubt will fade on its own, or it won’t, but you won’t be allowing it to slow your progress.

3. You’re comfortable where you are.

On the surface, everything looks good.

You’re writing. You’re producing material. Maybe you’re publishing and selling your stuff. You’re blogging and interacting with other writers. You’re content.

Sounds good, right? So what does this have to do with self-doubt?

Content means comfortable. And comfortable means stagnation.

“My personal research,” says life coach Ibukunolu, “revealed that unsuccessful people are often stagnant; they hate change, in fact majority of them vehemently fight change because of fear of the unknown. On the other hand, the same research revealed that successful people are constantly evolving, constantly creating, constantly exploring, constantly improving, and constantly moving forward; they love change, in fact they thrive on risks and uncertainties.”

Have you gotten too comfortable? Do you have a hard time remembering the last time you were nervous, or worried about your work? That spells “SAFE” in big red letters, and safe likely means you doubt your ability to go any further.

There’s nothing wrong with resting for awhile at a certain level of achievement, but if you stop there for too long, you’ll soon start to go backwards.

“Once you stop learning, you start dying,” Albert Einstein said.

Action Step

Get bored.

That’s right. Make some space in your life.

Give yourself at least thirty minutes a day for at least a week when you have NOTHING on your calendar.

Why?

Boredom has been shown in studies to encourage creativity, and you need new, creative ideas to challenge yourself. In one 2014 study, for instance, the group of participants that were most bored scored the highest on tests of creativity.

During that 30 minutes, jot down ideas for your next project—something that’s beyond anything you’ve done so far. Maybe a novel if you’ve written mostly short stories. Maybe a self-published book if you’re traditionally published. Maybe a speaking event, online workshop, or new video feature on your blog.

There are two benefits to this approach. One, you’ll have a week’s worth of new ideas by the time you’re done. Surely one of these will excite you enough to get you to take action.

Two, that excitement will help shadow any self-doubt you feel about being able to stretch yourself. Finding a project you can sink your teeth into—and that you feel, instinctively, is the next step you need to take—can motivate you to move beyond any doubts you have to give it a try.

Don’t Believe What Self-Doubt Tells You

These are just a few of the ways that self-doubt shows its ugly head in our lives. There are many others.

Your best bet is to stay alert. When you catch those destructive thoughts sneaking in, try to step back from them. Realize that they come up for a number of reasons, but the least likely one is that they’re true.

Instead, it could be an ingrained thinking pattern, stress, exhaustion, how you were raised, or just the fact that you’re a sensitive, creative person.

Whatever self-doubt is telling you, don’t bother arguing with it. Take meaningful action that will help you get excited about your work again, because when you’re working and actually involved in (instead of just thinking about) the creative process, that’s usually when you feel most confident.

Have you struggled with self-doubt? How did you get past it? Please share your thoughts.

Source

Sandi Mann and Rebekah Cadman, “Does Being Bored Make Us More Creative?” Creativity Research Journal, May 8, 2014; 26(2): 165-173, http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10400419.2014.901073.

C Story

Colleen M. Story writes imaginative fiction and is also a health writer, instructor, and motivational speaker specializing in creativity, productivity, and personal wellness. She is the founder of Writing and Wellness, a motivational site for writers and other creatives. Her latest novel, Loreena’s Gift, was released with Dzanc Books April 12, 2016. Her fantasy novel, Rise of the Sidenah, is a North American Book Awards winner, and New Apple Book Awards Official Selection (Young Adult). Find more at her website, or follow her on Twitter.

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GUEST POST: Cool Story, Bro

This last week, a friend and humor hero of mine Kimmy Dee released her book of personal essays (and a couple of short stories thrown in for good measure) titled most appropriately Pussy Planet. Much like her blog, Turd Mountain, it is filled with irreverent toilet humor, dick jokes, and straight talk about her lady bits.

Not only is it a great book, but Kimmy is a great person. So I decided to let her take over my blog for a day. She shares with us a Cool Story, Bro.

Cool Story, Bro

My brain is a dick. Not literally, obviously, but much like those rascally male appendages my mind likes to fuck with me pretty much nonstop. It overwhelms me with anxiety one moment, only to drown me in depression the next. So when I set out to write a book of essays two years ago, I knew I was in for one hell of an uphill battle against a phallical foe. But of all the negative brain bytes force fed to me by my cockeyed mind during the conception of Pussy Planet and Other Endearing Tales, one recurring thought plagued me more than anything else: Who fucking cares?

You see, I’m no one special. I’m basically the girl next door, assuming that your neighbor is a reclusive cat lady with a plethora of mental health issues and a penchant for drunken outbursts, not to mention an unhealthy obsession with her own crotch. I haven’t seen the world and I’ve never done anything profound – so who the fuck would want to read about my stupid life? Even my therapist tends to nod off half way through each session, but that probably has more to do with my bargain basement insurance’s covered provider screening than my life’s lack of excitement. Still, I wrestled the entire two years with this question, and I think I can finally answer: no one. No one fucking cares.

No one gives two shits about my phobias, my family, or the misadventures of my unruly uterus. But everyone loves a well-told story. And that’s what I went for in Pussy Planet– tales from ordinary life told in a unique (and maybe even a kinda sorta extraordinary?) way.

This revelation came about during an online conversation with a good friend, in which I was chronicling in detail my failed attempt at masturbation. (Why, what do you and your friends talk about?)

“This needs to be in your book,” he said, after I finished laying out the sordid details of self-love gone awry. “Exactly as you just told it to me.”

You see, more power lies in the storytelling than in the story itself. My story could have been told much faster with, “I tried to get myself off, but it didn’t work. Bummer.” But where’s the fun in that? By going into humiliating detail I not only entertained the shit out of my friend, I also virgin-birthed the last essay in my collection, Anti-Climax. And it wasn’t a virgin birth for lack of trying, if you know what I mean.

Obviously, very few readers are emotionally invested in whether or not I can pleasure myself. If they are, well, I would gladly recommend them to my crappy shrink– he accepts scratch-off lotto tickets and Camel Cash in exchange for a mediocre mind fuck. But that doesn’t mean the average reader can’t cringe and chuckle a bit at my masturbatory ineptitude.

Since writing nonfiction for purely entertainment purposes isn’t as easy as it sounds (try it if you don’t believe me), I’ve decided to throw together a few pointers for those readers who yearn to reveal their own vaginal hijinks to the world. I’ve sold a few books now, so I’m basically an expert. If only I could say the same for my self-pleasuring prowess. Anyway, here’s how to tell stories good, by Kimmy:

-Don’t skimp on the dialogue. Reading an active conversation is way more enjoyable than a boring summary of what went down. Make the reader feel like they’re within bitch-slapping reach of your stupid ass.

-Give every character a unique voice. This one is especially important if you’re telling your story aloud, as no one wants to listen to the same mimicked “angry stroke survivor” inflection for all parties represented. We all know someone that adds a chromosome or two to their voice whenever mimicking someone else – if you don’t, then it’s you. Knock that shit off. It’s offensive and ungodly annoying. Every character deserves to be developed, especially in nonfiction. You know, because they are real fucking people.

-Be honest. You don’t have to be the hero in all of your stories. In fact, you’re probably much more relatable to readers when you fall on your stupid face. Or fail to locate, let alone stimulate, your clitoris. Nothing makes readers feel more connected to a story than realizing the writer is a bumbling dunderhead.

-Remember you are creating art. Whether you’re lamenting a tragic loss or reminiscing about the vibrator that got away, choose your words carefully. If you don’t love them, choose new ones. If you don’t know how to spell them and you’re so far off that even spellcheck can’t save you, scrap that sentence completely. You don’t need that kind of shit. It’s art, not rocket science. Get over yourself.

 -Mention your genitals whenever possible. Trust me on this; I’m an author.

So, there you have it… you’ve now been schooled in nonfiction creative writing by Kimmy Dee. Use this knowledge wisely and sparingly; with great storytelling power comes great accountability, especially on the internet.

Oh, and please buy my book.

xoxo

Thanks Kimmy. If you are so inclined to buy her book, here is the link. I got my copy, and so far I could not put it down. Maybe that is because of how sticky my Kindle is, but check it out for yourself. https://www.amazon.com/Pussy-Planet-Other-Endearing-Tales-ebook/dp/B01I1Y61J0

pussy planet cover_KDP

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The Dragon in The Garden

A guest post by Erika Gardner!

Thanks so much to my fellow authors from Tirgearr Publishing for giving us each the opportunity to guest on their blogs. It’s been a pleasure to discover more about Elizabeth Delisi, Troy Lambert, and Kristi Ahlers during this process.

As you have likely realized over the past few days- our Press is having a birthday, their fifth, in fact! So to celebrate authors are discounting their books for a few precious days, February 26th through the 29th. Each our books will be available for just 0.99. That’s unreal to me. That means you could my book, The Dragon in The Garden, twenty times for the same price as a typical hardback. What a wonderful time to be a reader!

It’s a wonderful time to be a writer as well. While, traditional publishing is struggling, people ARE reading more than ever. They are simply doing it in new ways. The trick is to figure out how to capitalize on those ways in such a manner as to make a living wage at this business. I’ll let you know if I ever figure that part out. Still, with computers our work is faster and easier, while the digital age offers a myriad of new formats in which to distribute and market our work.

The Dragon in The Garden is my first published novel and is included in the Tirgearr Super Sale! Here’s a bit about it:
There is magic beneath the mundane and in The Dragon in the Garden, Siobhan Orsini witnesses it all. No lie can fool her, no glamour or illusion can cloud her Sight. She sees through them all and wishes she could close her eyes. Returning to face her past, Siobhan inherits her grandparents’ house in California’s wine country. She encounters a talking dragon, a hot fallen angel, a demon lord, a Valkyrie, and, oh yes, her ex-boyfriend. And that is just in the first twenty-four hours. 

It’s time to find out why she has this power. 

Siobhan seeks out the Oracle and learns that only her Sight can help mankind navigate the travails of an ancient war. Our world is the prize in a battle between the dragons, who would defend us, and Lucifer’s fallen angels, who seek to take the Earth for themselves. Using her gift, she will have to make a choice that will decide humanity’s future.

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http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Gardner_Erika/the-dragon-in-the-garden.htm

 

Please enjoy this excerpt from The Dragon in The Garden. Happy Anniversary Sale!!!

 

I woke filled with the dreadful certainty that I was not alone. Blinking, I tried to see around me. In the faint light, I discerned the shape of a man sitting in a chair by the window. I started to cry out when I realized a faint, growing luminosity filled the room. It came from me. I glowed with a silvery light. A slender illuminated cord came off me, traveling upward. Pulses of energy flowed along the cord away from my body, leaving me drained and weak. Movement seemed incredibly difficult, impossible. As my eyes followed the shining strand aloft, I saw in sick horror that some kind of creature hovered above me.

I couldn’t figure out at first if this dreadful phantasm actually lived. Fragile, paper-like skin covered its skeletal frame. She? He? I couldn’t say, but the thing’s emaciation made it difficult to tell if skin actually covered those bones. The thing appeared all cheekbones, its features shrunken and shriveled. The being possessed wild, wispy hair so white it shone in the shimmering glow projected from my body. The strands floated in all directions around the apparition as did its robes, more rags than clothing. I was grateful for anything shrouding any part of the wraith-like figure.

I’ll never, for all my days, be able to explain the dread radiating from its presence. The sensation came from the thing’s eyes. They burned with an electric red, yet, this flame burned in a cold fire, devoid of any warmth or compassion. Though it wore a humanoid form, nothing remotely human emanated from it.

I drew in breath to scream for Daisy, Turel, anyone. More than anything I wanted to call for help, to be as loud as possible. Instead, I whimpered. No other sound came. The thing turned its withered head to the man in the chair. “Abraxas, it speaks. Never do they talk.”

“That’s because they usually don’t wake up and even if they did, they couldn’t see you,” explained the man named Abraxas. “This one is special.”

“Yes,” it rasped. “I see it is. I like it, so delicious, my ducky.” The thing’s voice rasped as thin and emaciated as its form. The death rattle sound of those words conjured nightmares from the dark corners of my mind, places where nameless terrors lurked, and my fears scurried like beetles under a rock. The faint smell of death and decay clung to the air around us.

“What are you?” I managed to whisper. My voice sounded faint, a breath, nothing more.

The thing floating over me cackled, an insane, evil sound. “Now it speaks to me. I love its fear. See it? So pretty, wants to run and hide, but can barely move.” It drifted an inch or two closer to me and I cringed, but couldn’t look away; its hellish eyes consumed me. “Soon it will never move again. Never, ever move, little pig.”

Abraxas snorted at the creature. “Why the pet names, Hag?”

The nightmare above me reached out with one bony finger as though to tap my face. Locked inside my head, I became a screaming, gibbering thing, beyond rational thought. It didn’t touch me though; it moved the finger back and forth as though conducting an invisible orchestra, its blood-red eyes burning into me. “It is food for me. I am calling it food names it understands, so it will know, it will suffer. Going to eat you, pretty lamb, eat you up.” It made a slithering noise, a slurping sound.

I strained again to scream, but only mustered a gasp. “Why? What are you?” Speech grew even more difficult. The draining left me a shadow of myself. So tired, so very tired.

Abraxas shifted in his chair and fumbled around in his pockets. The faint flick of a lighter registered and then came a small flame as he lit a cigar. As he puffed furiously I had my first glimpse of his face and shuddered. Abraxas wasn’t human.

I’d lay odds he looked human to anyone else gazing upon him. However, to my eyes, even weakened, I saw the clever-faced demonic visage peering out from under the sharply dressed businessman exterior. It was as if he wore a people suit. He smiled at me with wickedly pointed teeth. Abraxas puffed on the cigar and remarked in a matter-of-fact voice, “You should save your strength. I have already answered your question.”

“Yes,” hissed the creature above me. “Save for me, all of you for me.”

I made my lips move. “No, you didn’t.”

The sound came out so softly, I didn’t know if I said it out loud, but Abraxas heard me anyway. His eyebrows flipped up in surprise. He leaned forward, exposing short, pointy horns on his head like a goat, or to more accurate, like a devil. He puffed his cigar. “Certainly, I answered you, she’s a Hag.”

“Hag,” agreed the terrifying vision above me. “Riding you, taking you, soon all gone.”

Abraxas shrugged. “She calls it riding, I say eating. She’s draining your life force, your will to live.”

“And fear, Abraxas, fear and hope. I take them all, yes, ducky.”

Abraxas crossed and re-crossed his legs in an impatient gesture. “Get on with it. We need to finish before Turiel returns. I don’t want to be meat for that tiger.”

The Hag snarled at him, “No rush me.”

“Oh fine, have it your way,” Abraxas grumbled, glancing at his watch. He smiled a nasty grin. “Just think, Watcher, if you had left a broomstick by your bed, folklore says she’d have been forced to ride away on it, instead of riding your spirit. A broomstick, isn’t that the craziest thing you’ve ever heard?” He chuckled, an evil sound, and shook his head. “You can’t make this shit up, I tell you.”

The Hag exhaled in a quivering, rattling way. The sound created images of broken body parts and decomposing flesh rolling through my mind as I shuddered again in pain and fear. She commanded Abraxas, saying, “We go now. No nasty angel and I take little lamb with me. I drain her slowly, play with her forever.” Her eyes burned like two pits of hellish fire as she examined me again. “So special, so delicious, little piggy.”

“No, the Black God wants this finished before Gwyrdd can find a way back to this world. I didn’t hire you for playtime,” snapped Abraxas. “Finish and let’s get out of here.”

“No broomsticks,” said the Hag. “Bad Abraxas.”

He held up his hands. “Right, no broomsticks. Just hurry up.”

“Poor ducky,” said the Hag, gloating.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I remembered in a drifting way a program I had once seen on television. It was a wildlife show, one of those safari ones. Some lions ambushed a zebra and began to eat the poor animal before it even died. I remember being shocked at the way the zebra lay there, waiting to die, waiting to lose enough blood to bring on oblivion. I was the zebra now. My body grew colder. It no longer seemed important enough or worth the effort to be terrified, although the Hag looked even more frightening now as she fed on me. The more of my life force she consumed, the brighter she burned luminescent, as I faded. As she devoured me, she became more substantial.

The faint odor of an open rotting grave became a ripe, overwhelming stench. If I could have gagged, I would have. All thoughts of escape, of curiosity, vanished as I waited for the end. The Hag smiled, showing rotten, yellow bits of teeth, her evil, red eyes danced. In her deathly voice she said, “Good chickie. Good. Never moves again. No, it doesn’t want to. It belongs to me. Mine.”

Something stirred in me at that moment. I didn’t belong to her. I belonged to me. No one else got to decide who I was or who I belonged to. I spent my whole life hanging on to my sense of self. No one else, not even a supernatural Hag sucking out my life force, and killing me in my own bed got to take that away from me. If ten different psychiatrists and more prescriptions than I could count hadn’t changed my mind, then I’d be damned if I’d let her decide for me.

There in the darkness, with my glimmer disappearing and a chill enveloping my limbs, I found a small spark inside of me, a stubborn iota of will. I searched my mind, seeking some way out. Then I did the only thing I had left, the only recourse still in my power. I prayed.

I didn’t pray to God. At the time, I don’t think it ever even crossed my mind to pray to Him. I didn’t have the strength of Tim’s quiet faith. Still, I knew who I needed. I prayed to Turel, only this time I called him Turiel. I prayed to him, partly in my heart, partly through lips like ice; lips gone numb. I prayed with fervor, hanging on to the spark even as I grew still colder, darker, and the Hag above me glowed in stolen radiance.

My breath slowed, and I fought for each inhalation. Each heartbeat echoed through the room. That, too, slowed. My world reduced to these things: breathing and my heartbeat. Still my frozen lips moved and my spark of will pushed my prayers out into the universe. With my vision blurred as Abraxas regarded his cigar from his chair. He tapped his foot, frowning at us.

The Hag tilted her head in a gesture that in her hideousness suggested a caricature of a human’s movement. She seemed puzzled. “It is saying something, Abraxas. This I do not understand. What does my duck say?” She leaned closer and the stench of death and decay enveloped me. Still I prayed.

“What is it?” asked Abraxas, impatient.

The withered Hag tilted her head. “I do not remember the word for what it does. It is asking for help,” she answered. “It does not know no help will come? What a strange lamb it is.” She shrugged her now much more substantial shoulders, her hideous features twisting in concentration. “Ah, Abraxas,” she continued in her gruesome voice, “I remember the word. My piggy prays.”

Abraxas sprang to his feet in alarm. “She prays? To whom?”

CRACK!

A bolt of lightning exploding in the small room blinded my eyes. Turel appeared in its flash, his face drawn in a snarl, glorious wings extended. Sunlight, beautiful, sweet sunlight, filled my night shrouded bedroom. Turel took one look at me and the Hag over me. “She prays to me,” he roared. His arm drew back in a graceful arc and a second bolt of lightning shot toward me.

 

To purchase The Dragon in The Garden please see:

http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Gardner_Erika/the-dragon-in-the-garden.htm

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This post was written by Erika Gardner. She’s a native Californian, lifelong lover of fantastical adventures, and a dedicated Whovian.  If you enjoyed it, please sign up to receive updates on www.erikagardner.com   Or you can follow Erika on Twitter @Erika_Gardner, “Like” her Facebook page Erika Gardner- Writer and Storyteller. Or check out her contributions to the BBB Blog.

 

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Interview with Elizabeth Delisi

Liz photo

Elizabeth had joined me on my blog before, but this time she is talking about her novel, Fatal Fortune. Below is an interview with her, a few quick questions, but first an introduction:

Elizabeth Delisi is a multi-published, award-winning author of romance, mystery and suspense. Her time-travel romance set in ancient Egypt, LADY OF THE TWO LANDS, won a Bloody Dagger Award and was a Golden Rose Award nominee. Her romantic suspense novel, SINCE ALL IS PASSING, was an EPPIE Award finalist and Bloody Dagger Award finalist. FATAL FORTUNE, a paranormal mystery, was a Word Museum Reviewer’s Choice Masterpiece. Three of Elizabeth’s contemporary romance novellas are combined in one volume, HEART SPELL, due out in June from Tirgearr Publishing. Elizabeth also has a short story collection available, THE MIDNIGHT ZONE.

 

Elizabeth is a writing instructor for Writer’s Digest University. She has taught creative writing at the community college level, has worked as an editor for several small publishers, and has been a newspaper reporter and columnist. She invites readers to visit her web page: www.elizabethdelisi.com and her blog: http://elizabethdelisi.blogspot.com/

 

  • Tell us a little about yourself, and what inspired you to become a writer.

I’ve always enjoyed reading, and have wanted to be a writer since I was in first grade. After many years of expressing my quirky imagination and being told I was eccentric at the least, it was a natural step to become a writer. I love having the opportunity to share the stories in my head with others. There’s not much better in life than a good read! And there’s no thrill like someone saying, “I loved your book.”

  • Tell us what FATAL FORTUNE is about.

FATAL FORTUNE, the first book in the Lottie Baldwin mystery series, is a mystery with a touch of the paranormal. No one in Cheyenne, ND believes in Lottie Baldwin’s psychic abilities; especially not Harlan Erikson, Lottie’s boyfriend, and Chief Deputy in the Sheriff’s Office. When a friend’s husband disappears, Lottie can’t leave it to Harlan. Armed with her courage and her tarot cards, she tries to solve the mystery herself, regardless of who attempts to stop her: Harlan, her friend—or the criminal.

  • If you were casting the movie version of FATAL FORTUNE, who would you choose for the leading roles?

HepburnLottie would be played by a young Joan Blondell. She looks the part, and would be a perfect fit for sassy, independent Lottie.

 

Harlan would be played by a young Robert Redford. He’s got a great sense of humor, and has no trouble being strong when it counts.

Redford

  • Tell us about a hidden talent you have that most people don’t know about.

I know how to tat, which seems to be—alas—a lost art. I also know how to do card-weaving (another nearly lost art), and my husband and I built an inkle loom for weaving.

  • What’s your favorite comfort food?

Chocolate anything, of course! No contest. Current favorite: Almond Roca. Yum! I also have a fondness for Sky Bars, which I remember from my childhood. Hard to find now. They’re like a Whitman’s Sampler in a candy bar, with four different flavors.

  • Are you an outliner or do you write by the seat of your pants?

I outline before I write. I’ve tried just winging it, but I feel too uneasy if I have no idea where I’m going. Outlines don’t constrict me, as I feel free to change and adapt them as I write. If I come up with a better idea for a particular scene, I change the outline to match. That allows me to keep track of all the loose threads, and make sure everything works.

  • What’s your favorite season and why?

I love all the seasons, and am happy to live in a state with four distinct seasons. Here in beautiful New Hampshire, I’d have to choose fall as my favorite—early fall. With all the gorgeous leaves in shades of red, scarlet, orange and gold, apple cider everywhere, crisp nights and mild days, I’m in a constant state of wonder.

  • If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?

Tough question. I think I’d probably own a combination book store/yarn store/coffee shop. Just the kind of store where I’d like to shop myself! Anyone know of one in New Hampshire?

  • Tell us about anyone famous you’ve met.

Ooh, let’s see. I met Captain Seawhiskers when I was five years old and got to be on the show. J I’ve met Jim Nabors, Gary Puckett, Kathleen Sibelius and Bill Graves (both Kansas governors), and Peter Noone. My most recent meet: Steve Smith, a.k.a. Red Green, from the hilarious PBS show, “The Red Green Show.”

  • What’s your favorite non-writing-related website?

Definitely Ravelry, for yarn lovers: www.ravelry.com and Aeclectic Tarot for all things tarot: http://www.aeclectic.net/tarot/

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Guest Post: Elizabeth Delisi Naming Your Characters

Naming Your Characters

Romeo and Juliet. Scarlett and Rhett. James Bond. Miss Marple.

All these names conjure up an instant image. As soon as we hear them, we feel we know something about the characters they represent, their personality traits and quirks, their strengths and their vices.

Suppose Scarlett was named Henrietta, or Rhett was named Bartholomew. Would they be the same impulsive, romantic couple with those names? If James Bond were named Calvin Jones, would he still be a dashing, intrepid spy?

Your character’s name is often the first thing the reader encounters, and it makes an immediate impression in the reader’s mind. It’s important you choose a name that will make the right impression. But how do you go about doing that?

When you choose a name for your baby, you’re taking a chance because you have no idea how the child will turn out, what his or her personality will be like. We have all met people whose names don’t seem to fit with their personalities.

When you’re naming a fictional character, however, you have a great advantage. You know what type of character you will write about, what traits you want him to have, what quirks you want her to display, what his weaknesses are. Under these conditions, there’s no excuse for not getting it right!

The names you choose can suggest a certain social or ethnic background, or societal position. It may indicate whether the person is meticulous or messy; brave or cowardly; bold or circumspect; flamboyant or mousy.

Keep a list in your journal or in a Word file of names that intrigue you in some way. You may have heard the name in a conversation, or on television or radio. You may have seen the name in the obituaries column, on Facebook or Twitter, or in a theater or music program. When you write a name down in your journal, make a few quick notes about what you think the character’s personality is like.

A book on choosing a name for your baby is an invaluable reference tool for writers. Books like this are available cheaply, often in the racks at the grocery store checkout; and the Internet abounds with naming websites. They generally list male and female names, their meanings, nicknames and variations on the names. Sometimes you can find a name whose meaning has something to do with your character or plot. Though your reader won’t know the meaning of the name, you will know it, and it will strengthen your writing accordingly

According to one baby naming book, “Henrietta” means “mistress of the home,” and “Bartholomew” means “son of the furrows; a plowman.” Thus, if we renamed Scarlett and Rhett as Henrietta and Bartholomew, we’d be turning them into a farmer and his wife! And poor Calvin “James Bond” Jones would be “bald.” Not a very dashing image, is it?

Some other practical tips on choosing a name: Don’t choose a first name for a character that ends with the same letter with which the last name begins. This can make the name hard to pronounce; for example, Jonas Smith is going to produce a lot of hissing when your reader says the character’s name out loud.

The number of syllables in a name can hint about the character’s personality, as can the number of hard consonants or soft vowels. Short, monosyllabic names full of gutteral sounds like “Rhett Butler” indicate someone who is strong, bold, and no-nonsense, while flowing, multi-syllable names like “Melanie Hamilton” indicate a softer, more romantic personality.

Make sure you pronounce your character’s full name out loud, to be sure it rolls easily off the tongue and doesn’t sound awkward.

Don’t forget to take into account the cultural and ethnic background of your characters when choosing a name. For instance, the name “Keely” means beautiful and graceful in Gaelic, and might be the perfect first name for your historical romance heroine.

There are numerous sites on the Internet that you can use to help choose a character’s name. At http://www.infernaldreams.com/names/index.htm you will find an “onomastikon,” or dictionary of names. This site lists names from around the world, both first and last names, ancient and modern. For instance, if you’re writing a book set in ancient Greece, you can choose names from “Europe,” then “Ancient,” then “Ancient Greece.” Suppose you choose “gods” next. You will find dozens of gods’ and goddesses’ names listed, most with a descriptive attribute.

Visit http://www.kabalarians.com/, a site run by the Society of Kabalarians of Canada. At this site you can look up the meaning and personality type of a name, based on a mathematical principle developed by the Kabalarians. For example, if you look up the name “Rhett,” you discover that someone with this name is  very aggressive and independent, has big ambitions, excellent business judgment,  a versatile, restless nature, is seldom satisfied and is always seeking something new. For an additional fee, you can submit your own name, first and last, and receive an extensive 25-30 page report.

At http://www.babycenter.com/babyname/ , the Baby Name Finder site, you can search for names by gender, country or ethnic origin, starting or ending with a particular letter, or a particular number of syllables. You can find the most popular names of 1998, or you can discover that the most popular boy’s name in 1880 was John, and the most popular girl’s name was Mary, whereas the most popular boy’s name in 1998 was Michael, and the most popular girl’s name was Kaitlyn. There are naming chats and bulletin boards, and you can search for a name that has a specific meaning.

When naming your characters, be sure you make their name an asset, something that will assist them in their journey through your story. I just learned that my name, “Elizabeth,” means someone who is idealistic, has a sensitive nature and a desire for culture and the refinements of life, someone who works best in a relaxed environment at tasks involving writing and concentration. Hey, I can live with that.

Mistletoe_Medium_by_Elizabeth_Delisi-500MISTLETOE MEDIUM, #3 in the Lottie Baldwin Mystery series (due out Nov. 4)

No sooner does psychic Lottie Baldwin pull up stakes and move to Cheyenne, North Dakota, than she finds herself up to her neck in a series of mysterious robberies. Can Lottie and the handsome new man in her life, deputy sheriff Harlan Erikson, solve the crime spree before Lottie becomes the next victim?

Author Bio:

Liz photoElizabeth Delisi is the author of Lady of the Two Lands (a Bloody Dagger Award winner and Golden Rose Award nominee); Since All is Passing (an EPPIE Award finalist and Bloody Dagger Award finalist); and Fatal Fortune (a Word Museum Reviewer’s Choice Masterpiece), the first in the Lottie Baldwin Mystery series. Observant Oracle, the second story in the Lottie Baldwin Mystery series, is now available; and Mistletoe Medium (prequel to Fatal Fortune) will be available soon.

She is also the author of a short story collection, The Midnight Zone; an erotic romance, Practical Passion;  Troubled Spirits, a paranormal tale; and her contemporary romance anthology, Heart Spell, will be released soon.

Elizabeth is an instructor for Writer’s Digest University. She has taught Creative Writing at the community college level, and has edited for several small publishers. She holds a B.A. in English with a Creative Writing major from St. Leo University. Elizabeth is currently at work on Deadly Destiny and Perilous Prediction, sequels to Fatal Fortune.

 

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