Day at the Write-in….

Spent about six hours of Saturday at our group’s write-in. We had use of an event room with its adjoining kitchen at our library. Some pot luck, a little set-up, and we had ourselves a friendly quiet location dedicated to fostering an atmosphere conducive to writing.

We had people working on designing covers for their self-published books. It’s a two-edged sword when you publish yourself. You’re in charge of everything, but that means you’re responsible for everything.

Someone was outlining a story for our group anthology. Another was working on a script. One was reviewing and revising her long-suffering book outline. Long-suffering only because even she thought she’d been working too long on it, and because the work itself has been intense. We had short stories and verse going on as well, and everyone seemed to make progress, even the writer who had to leave after coming in solely to pick up information.


It’s great to stop and devote a large chunk of time to writing. I’m lucky enough to be able to do it more regularly than some of my full-time working writer friends. Even so, a special day allowed for special focus. I  hope we follow through on our idea of doing this every couple months.








Linking Up

I’ve been at work recently updating a lot of my online info, and getting ready to promote my books (better). Whether you are self-published or traditionally so, BSP – that’s Blatant Self-Promotion, as people like to call it  is something of a necessary evil. Although you should try to make it not appear blatant. Blatant’s just rude.

But it is necessary, and PR will become a wedge of the pie of how you spend your work time.


Ooops! I meant  this…



I was lucky enough to hear writer Sharon Williams (Squirrel Mafia, Jaspar: Amazon Parrot) speak last year about the necessity of self-promotion and social media and ‘cross-platforming.’ She showed  how to set up links between the various sites where you appear, placing Facebook widgets on your blog, and linking your Facebook posts to your Twitter account.  She also spoke about Tweetdeck where you can keep track of multiple Twitter accounts or tweets containing certain characters as well as sites and services where you can post once and have it appear on multiple media. After initial set-up, she had a streamlined system of her own that allowed her to minimize her online time so that she could spend her hours doing what she intended: writing.

One thing more. Another author I knew some years back, Lonnie Cruse (the Metropolis Mystery series and the ’57 Mysteries), was the perfect example of high-energy self-promotion. Any time I saw her she was prepared with business cards, bookmarks showing her book covers (and where to purchase her books), and giveaway-type trinkets that related to her stories. She handed these things out to potential readers, always with a friendly and enthusiastic smile, and only where it was appropriate  to do so. But she never missed an opportunity to let someone know about her books and where to find them, or how much she appreciated her reading public. She was a great example and a class act.



Giveaway trinkets used to promote my three Mackenzie Wilder/Classic Boat mysteries.





Novelty mail-order houses will even imprint your goodies. Here one such company printed the title of book #2 on these guitar picks. SWEET CORN, FIELDS, FOREVER revolves around a country music singer/songwriter.



Some writers love to talk about themselves, but more actually like to talk about their work. Honing the skills that go into doing this successfully is important. Approach, tone, enthusiasm (think ‘spark’). Selecting passages, having a clear way to describe the book’s own background such as its inspiration, genesis, research. Knowing when and where to talk about your work and how to set up those opportunities (like signings and workshops). Plus the willingness to put yourself ‘out there’, be it online or in person. These are all areas to consider and work on. You can edge your way into it gradually, but the faster you become comfortable doing it, the better and broader your sales will be.

Besides, it can be  fun!






Writing at the Write-In

I belong to a writers group – well, two, sort of.

This is the only writing group I’ve ever joined, and I’ve been lucky enough to find a group of people who care about writing, who are reasonable and kind in how they construct their criticism, and who are as eager to hear others’ work as they are to share their own.

I’ll write more about them periodically, but for today I’m writing about an event we have set up – twice, now – that has worked out pretty well for the participants. It’s a Write-In.

A Write-In is pretty much what it sounds like. People who are working on writing projects gather together in a common place and spend the day writing. There’s a fair amount of discussion and eating that goes on as well. Anything you are working on is fair game for the Write-In. It might be original material, revisions, galley proofs, even your blog or a little bit of PR (although that last is a bit of a stretch). The idea is to have all day devoted entirely to writing, with no personal or household distractions.

I sort of brought one household distraction with me. My  son belongs to the same writing group, a result of being a talented writer himself and of being used to hanging about with me while I coached writing in schools as he was growing up. Actually he’s good to have around; he’s an excellent critic and editor, and he has a humorous way of getting to the crux of a writing problem. Fact is, while critiquing is not a central part of a write-in, it’s good to be around people you can discuss your work with and work out particular problems. The sort of talk you can’t find at home or with colleagues from work. And everyone will understand when you cut discussion short, dash over to your keyboard and start typing.

Some write-ins get a little loud and social, especially when the food comes out. Some are held in public places like libraries or coffee shops, and some are held at a fellow writer’s house. It’s a group’s own little writers’ retreat. No matter how famous you are or not or wherever you are on your writing journey, write-ins provide a great opportunity to focus on your work and add to your word count. Try  it, and let me know how it goes.