New Author Interview: Jaye Marie, a NaNoWriMo Success Story

Your humble host.
Your humble host.

When I was a brand new writer, I didn’t worry too much about how to write a story or what the process was. I just was relating funny stories about first-time parents with a new baby in the house. A lot of sleep deprived people could relate to that, so it transitioned pretty easily into a collection of funny stories about that could be a book.

When I started to actually write novels or fact-based fiction, that was when I really kicked into a different gear.

And I needed help.

As a new author, I always wanted to know how other authors did things. What was their process, what did their inspiration come from, things like that. I still like to know that stuff. No reason to reinvent the wheel.

So I like to bring as many authors to the table so you can learn how they do things.

Maybe you get a few tips, maybe you give a few tips in the comment section, but ultimately I want this blog to be what I would’ve wanted to read a few years ago when I was starting out. Things that would have helped me when I was new. And in keeping with our NaNoWriMo theme this week, so here is somebody who started at NaNo and went from there. Enjoy my chat with Jaye Marie!

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Dan: Thank you very much for braving the waters of The Dan Interview. Let’s start at the beginning. When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Author Jaye Marie
Author Jaye Marie

Jaye: I love books and have read my way through stacks of them, so when my sister Anita needed someone to edit and type up her manuscripts, I was happy to help and discovered my vocation and my love-hate relationship with the world of computers.

I think we all have that so one degree or another. Mine’s mostly hate, and when it gets to my relationship with my phone, it’s all hate. Deep hatred. It’s mutual, though. My phone hates me, too. I assume you got past that, though?

There are still days when I can feel the hate building up, in spite of my legendary patience. I should have been born with a more techno savvy brain, then my life would be measurably better.

As it is, there are just too many annoyingly frustrating pieces of equipment in my life, so when it all gets the better of me, I go for a very long walk!

I learned how to edit and proofread, taking over the job of getting Anita’s books ready for publication.  I had wonderful compliments from one of the best literary agents in London for my editing of Anita’s book, Bad Moon and for the last ten years since my retirement, that is what my life has been like.

Somewhere along the way, I started thinking about a story that had been nibbling away in the corner of my mind for months and before too long, it demanded to be written and I am very pleased with the outcome.

It’s nice to scratch that itch, so to speak, isn’t it! How much structure is in your story before you start writing it?

The itch that you mention certainly picks its moments. In the beginning, I tried to rely on my memory when inspiration stuck, but these days I am never far away from a notebook and pen.

I wrote my first book ‘The Ninth Life’ last year on NaNoWriMo.

Whaaaat? A NaNoWriMo success story???

NaNo 2015Yes, and all I started with was the characters and a rough idea of what I thought would happen. Then my characters took over and practically wrote did the job for me. When I thought about the sequel ‘The Last Life’, everything changed. Continuity was essential, I discovered, so I made a storyboard to keep track of what was evolving.

Awesome. A pantser turned plotter! There’s hope for the world! ARE YOU LISTENING, PANTSERS???

What time of day do you prefer to do your writing?

I write best first thing in the morning, something that still surprises me, for I have never been at my best at that time of day. Always considered myself a night owl, but apparently my muse is not!

I am totally the same way. My wife thinks I’m nuts. My kid is starting to think so, too.

How do you develop characters?

I like to identify my characters with real people.

Me, too. Do you tell them? Like, this one is based on you, sis. I don’t usually tell. I don’t need the hate. I get enough from the phone.

jaye marie 4In the sequel to ‘The Ninth Life’ (soon to be published) the detective inspector, David Snow, is a dead ringer for Tom Selleck in his role as Jessie Stone.

So you probably didn’t call Tom and tell him.

No, but this way I know exactly how my character will behave in every circumstance and this imparts more realism. I have heard that some authors have photographs of their role models, but not gone that far yet.

 

Tell us the expected publish date, and I assume it’s an indie pub?

‘The Last Life’ is due to be released on 6th November.

Yes, I am an indie, and proud of it. Well, you would be too if you had my brain. Sometimes I wish someone else would have it, and let me choose a new one!

 

Who or what helped you the most getting started?

jaye marie 2When everyone started talking about ‘Indie’ or self-publishing it was as if a light went on in my brain. I knew how hard it was to be published in the traditional way, so I became very excited at the prospect of being able to do it ourselves.

I started our website, and found that I enjoyed talking to people from all over the world and posting our thoughts on line. Then I concentrated on publishing Anita’s books. It wasn’t quite as easy as they made it sound, but with my usual stubbornness I kept at it, learning more and more as I went along.

Stubborn. I know nothing of this condition…

I started thinking about a story that had been nibbling away in the corner of my mind for months and before too long, it demanded to be written and I am very pleased with the outcome.

 

How did you choose the genre you write in, or did it choose you?

jaye marie 3Before I started to write, I always imagined I would write supernatural scary stories, as this was what I enjoyed reading most. Thanks to Stephen King and James Herbert! But the idea of a woman cheating death so many times took hold and I had to see what would happen. Before I knew what was happening, she had a murderous ex-husband and the bodies began to pile up! I suspect I may change genres as I go along, as my interests are so varied.

So what would be the next genre you’d try?

 The next genre is already emerging, as spooky supernatural themes are jostling for space in my head. This genre is the one I always thought I would write in, so it might be overdue.

Besides writing, what are your favorite things to do?

I have so many hobbies, it might be easier to say what I don’t like doing! From Bonsai and gardening, knitting and crochet, to painting and craftwork. But my one huge obsession is for puzzles. Solitaire, Sudoku, jigsaws and PC games and dozens more. I honestly believe my puzzles keep my brain from fossilising and are solely responsible for my insanity.

I think I read that somewhere. What’s the trick to Sodoku? Looking in the back for the answer? If I ever did one, that’s 100% how I’d do it. But I’m never going to do one. Because math.

 

What do you do about cover art?

I don’t have much spare money, I’m the original church mouse, so I have tried to make our own.

I did that. The results were very good – to me, and me only. They were terrible to the rest of the world. Absolutely horrible. And I have since been declared Unable To Do Covers. It’s an affliction. I think I  can do it but the fans tell me I can’t. Typically, if I like your cover, it’s a loser, so go the other way.

Apart for the financial situation, creating suitable covers appealed to my creative streak. Learning the best way to do it was the difficult part, as I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer when it comes to technology.

I discovered you can make quite good covers on microsoft’s Word, but I fell in love with a company called Picmonkey.  http://www.picmonkey.com/ Every bit as good as Photoshop, but easier to use and most of it is free.

But when some of my fellow bloggers mentioned that Chris Graham from The Story Reading Ape creates reasonable attractive covers, I took a look and now The Last Life has a very professional cover!

 

How and why did you start your blog?

jaye marie 5The first thing you learn when you decide to write a book is that you must have an interesting and popular website or blog. How hard can it be, I thought. Everyone is doing it, so it must be relatively easy.

And once you know what you’re doing, it is easy – ish.

It’s also incredibly easy to get it wrong, so I spent a lot of time checking out other blogs to see what worked.

Smart.

Still cannot decide whether I prefer Blogger or WordPress though, so we have both.

Would you take a moment to tell us the pros and cons of each, and how hard is it to have both? Would you recommend it? Because I can copy-paste like a madman.

That won’t be easy as they are so very different. But seeing as how you asked, I will try.

Blogger was the first one I tried, and it was easy-ish to use, at least for me. I learned so much from making stupid mistakes and stubbornly trying to put them right. I feel a certain loyalty to Blogger, although it does have its drawbacks.

Remember, I am not the best one to ask, all I can go by is the progress we have made, comparing one against the other.

With Blogger, if you have a problem, all you have is a help forum consisting of other users, most of whom are struggling just like you. WP on the other hand, are really helpful and usually sort out your problems by the next day. We do seem to have made more connections and links with WP and in less time, so that’s a good point.

Took me nearly a year to master WP, so not sure what this says about them (or me).

Having two sites does make my life more complicated, but hey, if I wanted an uncomplicated life, I wouldn’t be sitting in front of  a PC, now would I?

What is the working title of your next book?

This question is easy to answer, as my next book is the sequel to ‘The Ninth Life’. It has to be called the ‘The Last Life’ for reasons that become clear when you read the book!

Due to be released on 6th November…!

 

Where did the idea come from for the book?

The original idea came from details of my own life. I have nearly died several times and sometimes I wonder if there might be a reason for this. Maybe I’m an alien or something. One idea led to another and ‘The Ninth Life’ was born. Once I had created the lead character, she seemed to take control and dictated the story to me.

 

What is the single most important quality in a novel; what must an author do to win you over?

A book must inspire me, especially now that I write, for good writers can do this. Not only in the way I write, but also the way I live my life…

Well, hopefully your enthusiasm has inspired some other newbies out there, and given a few tips to the war torn veterans. Thanks for dropping by!

 

Links

Amazon Author Page:   https://www.amazon.com/author/jayemarie44

Amazon Book Link:      http://amazon.com/the-last-life-jaye-marie/dp/B017DNXBXE

Website:                         http://jenanita01.wordpress.com

Blog:                              http://anitajaydawes.blogspot.com

Facebook:                      https://www.facebook.com/jayemarie44

Twitter:                          https://twitter.com/jaydawes2/media

What the HECK is a Virtual Assistant???

Your humble host.
Your humble host.

I know people who use Virtual Assistants and swear by them, and I know a lot of authors who are swamped with trying to run a blog and Twitter and Instagram and Pinterest and Snapchat, etc., and still find time to write – but don’t think they can delegate any of these tasks, and don’t think they can afford a VA.

So I asked my friend Michelle to explain what a Virtual Assistant is, and what she does, and to answer some basic questions for our group.

If you have additional questions or want to know more, ask your questions below as comments (others may have the same question) or contact Michelle directly. I’ll then ask her to answer it here, too, as a reply, and everyone can see her wonderful, friendly demeanor.

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MM 1A note to Dan’s readers: This post may come across as quite self-promoting, I know. I am writing about what a virtual assistant is because I AM a virtual assistant. I feel great about what I do, love helping people get organized, and think many people can benefit from quality assistance. What I’m not doing is writing to convert dozens of readers to clients. I work with only a handful of clients at a time, so that really isn’t my goal at all! If you are interested in more information, I would be more than happy to consult with you, and I have a wonderful network of great VAs who I can refer you to if we aren’t a good fit or if I just don’t have the bandwidth to help you.

That being said…

What is a Virtual Assistant??

I’m not talking about Facebook’s “M” or Siri or Cortana, here. A Virtual Assistant is (generally) an independent contractor who provides business support for multiple clients remotely. Some are generalists, and others have specialties. There is a very wide variety of personalities and skills in the VA industry. It has been growing for well over a decade and shows no signs of stopping.

MM 2As a VA, I work personally with creative professionals in order to maximize their time and efficiency and make them more productive and profitable. It’s a partnership in which I take over administrative tasks so that my clients can focus their energy on things only they can do.

If you are a writer, you need to put pen to paper (or, you know, fingers to keyboard)! All of the other things: the invoicing, website management, research, bookkeeping, travel planning, newsletter scheduling – those things should be handled by someone who can’t do what you are gifted and trained to do best.

Why Contract a Virtual Assistant??

Yeah. That.
Yeah. That.

I generally find that I can complete a client’s administrative and business support tasks in about 50-75% of the time it takes a client to do the same task, so not only does the client gain that much time, but the work is completed SOONER than it would have been if the client was handling it alone. Here are a few other quick reasons.

Partner with a VA so that you can…

  • Keep up the momentum of your growing business by letting your VA take care of things quickly.
  • Take a step back and look at the bigger picture of your business while your VA takes care of more of the nitty gritty stuff (including reports and analytics to help show you the progress you are making).
  • Avoid burnout by delegating the things you hate and focusing only on what you love to do.

What is the Cost of a Virtual Assistant??

Value is the importance, worth, and usefulness of something.

Of course, dollars do matter. As I said earlier, there is a lot of variety in this industry! You may pay anywhere from $2-$200 per hour, depending on what you need help with and the skills/experience of the VA, or you may pay a set retainer per month. Essentially, you can find a VA on any budget! I will caution you, though, that you get what you pay for. I have gone through several VAs of my own, and I’ve seen this to be true.

So before you decide on a budget and begin a search for your own VA, think about value.

tired_1794882bHow much is your time worth? What is it worth to you to get an extra 15, 30, or 50 hours a month to invest back into your craft, give to your family, or further your education?

What would it mean to you to finally be organized and on top of your back-end business tasks that bog you down? To know that nothing is falling through the cracks?

What sucks up your time that you DREAD doing? How would it feel to get that off your plate?

Examples and More Information

I’d like to leave you with a hopefully-inspirational list of tasks that you, as a writer, could delegate to a Virtual Assistant. (Note: it will be up to you to make sure the person you partner with is capable of performing all of the tasks you need assistance with, so make sure to vet your candidates! Some of the tasks below require specialized skills.)

  • Research & Fact-Finding
  • Scheduling Interviews or Promotional Activities
  • Formatting
  • Email Sorting & Screening
  • Invoicing & Bookkeeping
  • Proofreading & Editing
  • Website Set-Up & Maintenance
  • Publishing Assistance
  • Copyright Registration
  • E-Newsletter Management

Michelle Martinez partners with busy creative professionals to maximize their time and efficiency and keep them organized. She is the all-in-one solution for her client’s virtual business support needs. For more information, please visit http://michelle.io or email michelle@michelle.io and follow @MichelleAssist on Twitter!

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Your humble host.

REBLOG me! Or SHARE this post on Facebook and Twitter! See those little buttons down below? Put on your glasses. There they are. Click them. The FOLLOW button is now in the lower right hand corner.

Got a QUESTION? ASK IT! Hit the Contact Me button and I’ll see what I can do. (I have lots of smart friends.)

Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the hilarious upcoming novel “Poggibonsi: an italian misadventure.” Click HERE to check out his other works.

When Should I Start Publicizing My New Book?

Advance marketing? the book's not even finished yet!
Advance marketing?
The book’s not even finished yet!

Occasionally I get a question from a fellow author with a problem and I answer it here.

Dear Dan,

My novel is still in its first draft. It´s long, I still have to finish it, and I write a LOT every day, but there´s still a lot of time before it will be published. Many months, probably. Do you think it’s right to start talking about it on my website? What if I don´t know its title yet?

Thanks,

Worried Writer

PS: I´d love to read your novel. Is it possible to get it in paperback?

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Dear Worried,

Yes, you can start engaging readers now, so there is an interested fan base when the book comes out. A few months before the book comes out, up to maybe as much as six months, is about the right window for advance marketing.

(We recently discussed marketing HERE and HERE.)

OAK TREES FOR SALE
OAK TREES FOR SALE
(eventually)

If you market too early, you may peak fan interest before the book is ready. Start too late, and of course you don’t get enough buzz generated.

Plus, telling readers about the story as it moves along is fun. You can hint at a romantic scene you just finished, or a dramatic twist – tease them a little! That’s what movie previews do, right? And TV commercials? They hint at what’s coming up. The reason a strip tease is sexier than just seeing a naked lady walk out onstage is the anticipation it builds. A menu with pictures making the food look good will get your mouth is watering.

Titles are tough.

Honestly, some of those aren't half bad!
Honestly, some of those aren’t half bad!

What few words can possibly sum up your epic tome? That’s a lot of pressure. Make a working title and consider asking your blog followers if it is a good one; give them a synopsis so they can see if the title “fits” – or maybe they can suggest one. (That’s actually something we could do as a blog post/writing challenge: Name The Story. Let me know and we’ll do it. It’ll be fun. Readers can make up names and vote for the best one).

Then, when you are ready, if you change the name, you can tell your readers. If I were to change the name of Poggibonsi to “Love, Italian Style” and I TOLD everyone, they’d easily switch over. It would give me another excuse to talk about the book, too, generating additional buzz.

Stop spamming me!
Stop spamming me!

There are a lot of ways to market badly, so I’ll only say this: be honest about your enthusiasm, but try not to be obnoxious and tell fans “Buy my book!” ten times a day on every social media outlet you use. However, be sure to let them know it’s coming, and then that it’s here, and that you want them to buy it. When you get good reviews, boast about it. Enthusiasm is contagious. People like it, and it’ll sell books. Just don’t go overboard. 10% or fewer of your posts should be a BUY MY BOOK post or tweet.

COMING SOON
COMING SOON, I promise!

And be sure to thank your fans for being such great followers, for buying your book, and for writing reviews. People like being thanked.

That was a really great question. Thanks for asking it!

See? Didn’t that feel good?

By the way, ALL my books are available in paperback, and the new novel will be, too. Stay tuned! You can read two sample chapters HERE and see some advance praise HERE and see the sample cover HERE

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Your humble host.
Your humble host.

REBLOG me! Or SHARE this post on Facebook and Twitter! See those little buttons down below? Put on your glasses. There they are. Click them. The FOLLOW button is now in the lower right hand corner.

Got a QUESTION? ASK IT! Hit the Contact Me button and I’ll see what I can do. (I have lots of smart friends.)

Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the hilarious upcoming novel “Poggibonsi: an italian misadventure.” Click HERE to check out his other works.

Flash Fiction Challenge: Add A Line

Your humble host.
Your humble host.

I have always wanted to do a challenge like this.

While this may not technically be flash fiction, since there’s no real definition of flash fiction, well then this definitely is flash fiction.

Below is a chunk of my new story, The Water Castle.

I’ll set the stage and walk away.

You take over from there.

Each of you will start out adding a line onto the prior person’s line. Or a paragraph. A description, or action, or inner thoughts.

Or whatever.

You can add up to 250 words for your “line,” more or less. Because you may need some description or you may need dialogue, etc., we’re not going to be strict on that. If you get to 1000 words, dial it back, but otherwise go crazy.

Me! Me! Me!
Me! Me! Me!

The idea is to have 10 or 20 or 50 different people all contribute and then see where we went. It’s not important where my story went, and if you’ve been reading it, don’t try to get this one back on track. Go wherever the prior person’s paragraph sends you.

It’s like jazz music. It’s created right on the spot.

And some jazz really, really sucks.

Hopefully this won’t.

We will get back to regular flash fiction challenges that are more traditional next week. Maybe slightly longer. So look forward to writing 2500 words on something good and thought-provoking in a week!

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HERE IS THE “STARTER” STORY:

After all the years of riding by and wondering, so far the tower was much less interesting than the stories had let on. She wondered why she’d never entered it before now.

Gina realized then that she’d still been holding her breath, sweating like she’d run a mile. The concrete floor around her was riddled with debris, mostly oak leaves and trash. There were puddles from the recent rains. She forced her inner germophobe to relax, taking deep breaths of the musky air. No one had been here in a while, and even if people slept there at night, nobody was there now.

She looked around. On the far side of the circular room, under the stone steps, in a wedge too small to walk under, she spied a set of black hinges. The weather hadn’t ruined them like it had everything else; the steps served as a makeshift roof. Leaves and dirt covered the rest of whatever the hinges held. She crept over to it.

The tower didn’t seem set high enough to have a lower level. Most things in Florida didn’t.

She pushed the leaves away with her foot. It appeared to be a door. Kneeling, she brushed away the moist black dirt. She clapped her hands to knock the mess off them. The sudden noise inside the small area was louder than she expected, echoing up the tower’s insides and nearly scaring her. She glanced at her hands, frowning. They were stained nearly black.

Whatever. The thick wooden door appeared relatively new, which is to say, it didn’t look hundreds of years old like the rest of the tower. It was square, with huge black hinges on one side and a big iron ring on the other. She worked to slide a finger under the rusted pull, forcing the aged metal to comply. It inched upwards, letting her grasp it with her whole hand – but not without leaving a few marks on her fingertips.

Gina pulled. The door did not move.

She placed one hand on the side of the little door and grasped the ring firmly with the other hand, taking a deep breath of the putrid air.

Nothing.

She sat back on her heels, staring at door. It didn’t appear heavy enough to withstand her pulling on it. Maybe it was stuck. She put her hands on the sides of the wooden frame, trying to jiggle it back and forth. It didn’t budge.

A drop of sweat fell from her forehead. She sat back again, wiping her shoulder across her brow.

She grasped the stubborn ring one last time, using both hands, putting her foot on the side of the door.

Her fingers crowded the iron ring. She strained her arms as the rough metal dug into her skin.

The door opened a fraction. The wood bent against the old hinges, slowly opening to a dark cavity below. She grabbed the edge of the door and pried it open.

The aroma of fresh water and the sounds of the spring emanated up from the dark space. Gina leaned forward carefully, trying to not catch a stray bat or spider in the face. Cool air flowed up from the cellar. She pushed the door open wider. Dirt and spider webs lined its edges. Inside, a set of stairs descended to another concrete floor.

She leaned back, reaching a foot out to touch the first stone step. It was free of debris, unlike everything else in the tower, and its edges were clean and straight, not worn down like the ones going up the tower wall. The only dirt on these steps was the dirt she had just allowed to fall in on them.

She put some weight on the step, testing it to make sure it wouldn’t crumble to dust and drop her the twelve or so feet onto the hard concrete below.

It held.

She crawled forward, putting both feet on the step, and climbed down into the cellar.

The bright daylight outside filtered in from above. She eased down the steps.

In the center of the room sat a round, framed pool, about three feet across. It was lined with bricks and rose only inches from the floor, but it was full to the surface and rippling with water. It was the only thing in the room besides the stairs. Light seemed to emanate up from it. Gina stepped up to it and knelt down.

Inside, the rim was dotted with glowing green and blue embers, like odd lightning bugs, out of focus under the surface. The water was clear, like a swimming pool. It was visible down to the bottom, however far that was. She guessed maybe ten feet, like the one at Stacie’s house. She hovered over the opening, letting her hair dangle over her shoulders.

Leaning on one arm, she reached out a cautious finger to touch the water’s surface. It was far too clear to harbor germs or dysentery, looking more pure than the stuff that came out of their faucets at home. It had a practically had a fragrance to it, like summer rain or a clear stream.

Her finger touched the water. It was cool. The springs’ temperature was about 72 degrees year ‘round, since they came from the underground aquifer. She’d experienced that at Weekie Watchee when they went swimming there on a class trip – nice on the hands but icy on the body.

She gazed into the opening. Was it a well? Why put a well inside the tower when the springs were twenty feet away?

She dipped her dirt-stained hand into the water, withdrawing it to rub the mud off. Black droplets fell into the well as she worked the bud from her fingers. She leaned over to rinse her hands, immersing them past the wrists.

The water seemed to cling to her, pulling her towards it. Invisible hands grasped her wrists and drew her downward.

Gina jerked backwards, falling onto the hard floor. She scrambled to her feet, ready to flee up the stairs. She pressed herself against the wall, heart pounding, rubbing her wrists, watching the well bubble and roil. A green light glowed from its core.

Her heart was in her throat. A fine mist drifted out from the pool and down across the floor. The smells of mildew now permeated the air. She stepped back, not wanting the fog to touch her.

As she pressed herself into the wall, the whole room began to glow. She held her breath. The noise of the cicadas and locusts was now buzzing in her ears, dizzying her. The stench of the mold wafted down the steps and permeated her lungs.

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That’s it! Whoever adds their line first, the next person has to read it and add to it in the comments below. I will periodically add them into the story as necessary, so you can comment like usual.

Ooh, what happens???

You tell me! Good luck, jazz musicians!

Here are the rules:

  1. As soon as you see this challenge, add to the story by posting your “line” in the comments section followed by a link to your blog IN THE SAME COMMENT.
  2. Don’t think, just do it. Do it now.
  3. On your blog, also post your line. Maybe explain why you have a random paragraph just sitting there, otherwise people may think you’ve had a stroke. You’re creative enough to handle that.
  4. Tell your blog readers and friends to come add a line.
  5. Have fun with it.
  6. Show off a little.
  7. You can add another line after 5 comments have been added between your prior comment.
  8. Feel free to make suggestions or cheer others on.
  9. There really can’t be nine rules for a challenge like this.

I’ll assemble the finished piece into one post and put it up next Friday.

That’s it! Get to it!

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Your humble host.
Your humble host.

REBLOG me! Or SHARE this post on Facebook and Twitter! See those little buttons down below? Put on your glasses. There they are. Click them. The FOLLOW button is now in the lower right hand corner.

Got a QUESTION? ASK IT! Hit the Contact Me button and I’ll see what I can do. (I have lots of smart friends.)

Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the hilarious upcoming novel “Poggibonsi: an italian misadventure.” Click HERE to check out his other works.

6 Tips to Avoid BLOGGER BURNOUT – the dreaded affliction that kills you before you start AND after you’re a success!

Remember when blogging was fun?
Remember when blogging was fun?

We recently talked about these great blogs I’ve been reading that suddenly disappeared. (I was not directly linked to the disappearance of the bloggers in case you were wondering. No charges have been filed.)

We thought they might have burned out from too much success.

I know, I know: Burn out from too much success? I’m more like to burn out from wasting hours on a blog nobody reads!

Been there.

My blog sucked and I was kinda clueless. (See post: My Blog Sucks And I’m Kinda Clueless HERE)

The disappeared blogs were popular, had large followings – and then POOF, they were gone. We wondered why. After much extensive research, which means a quick internet search, I found out. And as promised, I am sharing my findings to keep you from the same fate.

First, whether you have 2 followers or 10,000, blogging takes time.

Is this you?
I think I’ve had enough

We understand pretty easily why people would quit doing an unsuccessful blog; it’s a little harder to understand why somebody would stop doing the thing that was achieving what they wanted! What’s up with that???

First, it could be money. I don’t know the numbers, but if I had 10,000 followers on a WordPress blog, and somebody said I could earn $1,000 a month if I could get half of them to switch over to a private domains where I could run ads, I’d probably do it. Because that’s $1,000 towards a car payment or the rent or the promotion of books, or whatever. But also I know from experience that $1,000 a month becomes $10,000 a month a heckuva lot easier than $0 becomes $1000.

Finding ways to monetize your writing mean you have taken a big step toward doing it full time, quitting your hated job, unshackling yourself from the life of quiet desperation…

FREEDOM!!!

Yeah. That.
Yeah. That.

Ahem.

Between a blog site that actually pays you to do it, book sales, and freelance writing gigs (remember, Stephen King wrote stuff for Stag magazine for a while there – getting paid to write is getting paid to write), you start to see the pieces of the puzzle coming together to pave your dream. So I am totally on board with that. Most of the people who go that route won’t make it, but that has more to do with business sense than quality of writing, and if they leap too quickly, they starve death before they figure the business side out. (I include a success story as well, so stay tuned.)

But Blogger Burnout was far and away the more likely culprit as to why these popular blogs went bye-bye!

Most bloggers got into blogging for the fun of it. Authors tend to do it as a platform builder, but quickly find that it’s not fun (it’s hard work and takes time away from writing) or it’s LOTS of fun (it’s NOT hard work and it takes time away from writing).

There are only so many hours in the day.

After spending a requisite number of hours building a following, the fun time blogger sees success! Now what?

I actually am loving this! REALLY!
I actually am loving this! REALLY!

They feel pressure to top their best post each week.

Last week I got 100 replies; this week only 30.

WHAT DID I DO WRONG???

They are adding followers by the boatload for a while and then they go a few days or weeks without adding any or, God forbid, they see a decrease.

Noooooo!!!

Ego is a tricky thing, friends.  Seeing the numbers go up, up, up every week for a year is very gratifying.

There are some simple reasons big bloggers walk away.

  1. They bring pressure on themselves to be funnier, wittier, livelier, flirtier, cuter, spunkier – whatever it was that worked – and to reply to each and every of their 150 replies per post with the same vigor and energy that they had when there were only ten replies.

And suddenly it’s not fun.

burned out womanThe ideas aren’t there.

They start dreading doing the thing…

  1. And while we all might be overworked at times at our jobs, a blog usually doesn’t pay its owner anything. It was fun, so when it stops being fun, it has stopped serving its purpose. Ditto if the blogger runs out of ideas.

At that point, if it were a job, we’d look to change jobs. All that means is quitting the non-paying hobby that isn’t fun anymore, or taking time off until it looks fun again.

Blogger Burnout.

I'm just going to lay down here on my keyboard for a minute...
I’m just going to lay down hereon my keyboard for a minute…

It’s the same as any other kind of burnout. When it happens we want time off. Before it happens – as in, before we have the success of 10,000 followers – we think, no, we KNOW –  we’ll manage it better than that unhappy soul who walks away at the top of their game.

BTW, tell that to the many blogs that went belly up in their first year after investing the time and not seeing it get off the ground. They spent the hours and it didn’t work. And if you don’t see a positive result, you become extra motivated to stop and move on to something that does work for you. Usually, the “unsuccessful” bloggers just quit too early in the process, before they figure things out.

  1. But the ones that figure it out and become successful may quit, too – when the negatives outweigh the positives.

06222014 BG 3And there’s one more thing. There’s a community feel to a small blog with a handful or regular followers. It’s fun and it’s a happy place and everybody gets to know each other. Others want to experience that feeling so they join. Next thing you know, your intimate get-together is a full-on rave-style block party and you don’t know any of the faces you’re looking around at. Your friends left hours ago and the cops can’t be far away. And somebody keeps putting cigarettes out on your floor. Who does that? Use an ashtray or an empty beer can, for pete’s sake

When you wake up with a headache – more from being tired than hung over, you know what you want to do. Or, what you don’t want to do.

  1. You miss the fun feel and you don’t like the new entity. You want it to stop.

BLOGGER BURNOUT IS A THING, so here are the tips to avoid it. I found several articles but the one I quote from is the best.

happy-woman-jumping-in-golden-wheat
Not a maxi pad commercial

Here are tips to make your small blog successful and your large blog not a burnout threat, while bringing quality of life thoughts to your overall author experience – which is something we advocate all the time here.

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Lindsey was an elementary teacher who blogged about cooking and one day she and her husband realized she made more money from blogging than she did from teaching, so she became a full time blogger.

“Building a blog is a gradual thing that takes TIME – it’s not an overnight thing and it doesn’t come without putting in many hours of focused work. If you enjoy it, it won’t feel like work and you’ll be able to do more and stick with it – which will eventually lead to growth.

 

“One more thing: try not to stress. Ambition and drive are virtuous in their own right, but so often those lead to comparison and perfectionism, which are joy-stealers (says the ambitious, comparing, perfectionist blogger). I can honestly say that some of my all-time most fun moments as a blogger happened in those first few years when fifty people visiting my site in a day was a big deal and making $20 from ads felt like winning the jackpot, so don’t wish those early days away. Enjoy the process of growth and have fun!” – Lindsey, Pinch Of Yum, “Frequently Asked Questions.” (emphasis added)

Yay, success!
Yay, success!

Yes, she’s the success story I mentioned earlier.

MOST readers will gloss over the part where she says she worked “15 hour days, 7 days a week.” Don’t. That’s important.

“…my constant over-working-ness over these last few years has kept me from really going deep with any of them, plus it has kept me feeling edgy and frazzled and rarely at peace. And I don’t want to live like that.” (LINK to quote)

I don’t list all 15 of her thoughts but I can select and summarize a few that are relevant to our discussion and turn the floor over to her for the rest of you who are interested. Lindsey’s quote are in italics.

  • CHANNEL COMPETITION AND JEALOUSY.

You want to be where other people are. That takes time. View it as a goal and don’t be angry you aren’t there yet. You will be.

  • SET STRICT RULES FOR SOCIAL MEDIA AND COMMENTS.

“Why should I let a number of likes on something affect my real life happiness? For me, the solution was just to stop looking and checking compulsively.”

  • SPEND TIME WITH PEOPLE WHO DON’T REALLY CARE ABOUT YOUR BLOG.

A break is a good thing. Take them now and then.

  • SINGLES, NOT HOME RUNS.
Is THIS you, too?
Is THIS you, too?

“It’s easy to get stuck in the mindset that every individual thing that you do as a blogger needs to be 200% awesome, absolutely incredible, a knock-it-out-of-the-park home run. And then when you work really hard on something and it’s not really like a home run as much as just, like, a regular post? It can start to feel blah. Depressing.

…it is not realistic to think that all of your creative works are going to be a home runs.

The people I see being successful… are the people who know that some of their work will be home runs and a lot of their work will be singles or doubles. Or maybe even, umm, strike outs.”

  • STICK TO AN ORGANIZATIONAL SYSTEM.

“I put events into the Google calendar as they come up, and… for each day, I define the three main things that I’m trying to get done.”

  • LOG OUT OF EVERYTHING. DO IT NOW.
This might be going a little too far.
This might be going a little too far.

“I would never get a blasted thing done if it weren’t for this little hack: I log out of everything. Like, fully log out erase any pre-saved passwords. I can’t tell you how many times every day I type in http://www.facebook.com only to be reminded that I need to log in in order to creep on my friends’ lives. DANG. But for whatever reason, that one little extra step of logging in is always enough to stop me.

“All bloggers will have to figure out what works for them with email, but I try to limit myself to checking email once a day, and when I check it, I clear it out all the way to the bottom of my inbox.”

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Allllllllmost there.
Alllmost there.

In other words, YOU be in control. I’ve discussed this before, about finding time to write (CLICK HERE), and also when you find time, actually write (CLICK HERE). Some of you respond immediately to every email or Facebook post, any time of day, because you’re always plugged in. I’m the opposite. I usually have that stuff shut down and there are very few apps on my phone so I CAN’T do it anytime anywhere – which makes me stick to my schedule, stay in control, and avoiding burnout.

What is YOUR system to avoid BURNOUT, in your blog or anywhere else? Share your tips!

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selected passages for this post were taken from:

15 WAYS TO AVOID BLOGGER BURNOUT

Posted by Lindsey on “Pinch Of Yum” in November 2014 and in the “FAQ” and “About” sections of her site, just a few of the many terrific pages there. Check it out!

http://pinchofyum.com/15-ways-to-avoid-blogger-burnout

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Your humble host.
Your humble host.

REBLOG me! Or SHARE this post on Facebook and Twitter! See those little buttons down below? Put on your glasses. There they are. Click them. The FOLLOW button is now in the lower right hand corner.

Got a QUESTION? ASK IT! Hit the Contact Me button and I’ll see what I can do. (I have lots of smart friends.)

Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the hilarious upcoming novel “Poggibonsi: an italian misadventure.” Click HERE to check out his other works.

BE JEALOUS! New Author Interview: CASSANDRA PIAT from the tropical island of Mauritius

Cassandra Piat
Cassandra Piat

Yes, be jealous, my friends. I live in Florida and Cassandra has me ready to pack my bags. Read on and you’ll see why. 

“What’s It Gonna Be?”  –  her first novel, is a romantic comedy set in Mauritius, an island off the coast of Madagascar (which is an island off the coast of Africa). I can’t help but think that Cassandra and Mauritius were made for each other. Or maid. But I’m jumping ahead…

DAN: What is the working title of your next book?

CASSANDRA: Wouldn’t I just love to know!! I have no idea and am starting to stress out big time as my book is finished and I need to get the cover done and get the ball rolling but have a complete title blank!

It’s a nightmare.cs6

Use the random title generator! It came up with some good ones in our Flash Fiction Challenge a few weeks ago. 

Which is the more important of these two: write drunk, edit sober?

editEdit sober after writing drunk sounds good to me! Am sure great ideas can come out when you’re drunk (not that I’ve ever written drunk but may have to give it a try. On the other hand, not quite sure that editing drunk would work out too well.

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, huh? Which living author or blogger would you buy drinks for?

Do you even have to ask, Dan? I would definitely choose you as a blogger/author. (Of course I have to say that because this is your blog after all.)

THIS IS WHERE SHE LIVES!!!!! I am definitely going there for drinks.
THIS IS WHERE SHE LIVES!!!!!
I am definitely going there for drinks.

No, seriously, it really would be great to have a drink with you and not to mention super interesting for me as I have so much to learn from you.

That is my whole goal for asking that question, to line up free drinks for myself.

Smart thinking. As for authors… There are so many lovely ones I’ve social media-ed with over the past few months and who I would love to meet, but the list is too long… Otherwise I’d definitely love to meet Cecilia Ahern whose books I just love.

Tell us what’s awesome about her books and why they speak to you.

It’s funny because I mostly read chicklit books and that’s the genre I like (light and funny), but I just love her books (How to fall in love, P.s I love you, Love Rosie…). They are so deep and touching and always have a wonderful message for the reader. I love her sense of humour too and her characters are wonderful and complex. She has a way of making me feel as if I am right in there with them.

What’s something most readers would never guess about you?

This is the beach Cassandra mentions in her book, AND WHERE HER BEACH COTTAGE IS!!! Are you sold yet?
This is the beach Cassandra mentions in her book,
AND WHERE HER BEACH COTTAGE IS!!!
Are you sold yet?

That I am French-speaking.

Yes, we’ve always spoken French at home but as I not only lived in Mauritius but also in England, South Africa and Australia growing up, I’m also completely fluent in English. It’s strange because I would never be able to write a book in French – it just wouldn’t work. Maybe my sense of humour is in English!!!

Besides writing, what are your favorite things to do?

Breeding cats…

Kidding!
Just kidding!

Oops, we’re out of time! We’ll have to end it there.

Thought you’d say that! Ok, seriously, I love reading, the outdoors (specially the sea, mountains and lakes), scrapbooking, watching movies, going to concerts and the theatre, hanging out with friends, laughing, eating chocolate and drinking wine!

What’s the most fun part of writing a novel or short story? What’s the least fun part?

cs4For me the fun part is writing the story. I love writing and letting my characters take me on a journey with them. It’s liberating and I love that I get to decide on the outcome of the story. In life we have so little control over so many things, that I guess I love the power writing gives me. Creating the cover is also fun, but for me, all the rest is definitely not fun – finding a title, writing the blurb (am so bad at summarizing things), the marketing and promotion, the non-sales etc etc…

What’s the oddest or most awkward or embarrassing research you’ve had to do?

Damn! I wish I had something really juicy to write here but unfortunately I can’t say I have…

There WERE other choices of questions, you know! What, did you panic?

Oops, good point. Let’s try another one then shall we?

Favourite Quotes

There are so many amazing quotes that I like and that inspire me, but this one is related to my publishing adventure;

cs8
One of Cassandra’s favorite quotes.

By publishing my book, I was shooting for the moon and it was a huge risk that I wasn’t sure I should take. In my mind it was either reach the moon or come crashing down, so to speak. But when I read this, I loved the thought that worse case scenario, I would be landing among the stars… and it encouraged me to go ahead and take the risk. And now, although I haven’t reached the moon sales wise, it’s definitely been a wonderful adventure and a journey that I don’t regret for a minute.

Plotter? Or Pantser? And prepare to defend your position!

Definitely a Pantser!

Definitely going to have to stop asking that question. ARE THERE NO PLOTTERS OUT THERE? Okay, why does pantsing work for you, allegedly, Untitled One?

ANOTHER pantser!
ANOTHER pantser!

I am about the most disorganized human being on the planet. I make to-do lists then lose them or just never look at them. I go to the shop to buy bread and come back with 10 other things, but forget the bread. I remember birthday parties but forget to buy presents, or buy presents but forget the parties… anyway you get the general drift. So even if I wanted to be a plotter type of writer, it would be impossible for me. I am just not programmed to organize or plan or plot anything. I’m a spur of the moment type of person and the same goes for my writing. I have ideas and then they come together as I type. I don’t know the ending of the story when I begin. That’s the way I like it – it makes it more fun as you never know where it will lead you.

What was your road to publication like?

cs5Exhilarating, scary, fun, stressful, surreal…

Really! That’s the whole spectrum, just about. Why such a range?

It was hard to realize that I had actually written a book and that I was getting a cover made for it, writing a blurb, and then seeing it on Amazon for the first time – amazing feeling! As I self-published my book, I had to cover the printing costs and that part was very stressful because I knew there was a risk that I wouldn’t actually be getting most of that money back. But when I decided to go for it, I was so excited. I just couldn’t believe that I, Sandrine Piat, my book was going to be published and put on sale in bookstores around the island!!

It’s a special day. Things become more real all of a sudden.

cs10
“My boxes and the first live copies of my book!” – Cassandra

But when they delivered about 50 boxes to my house with 1,000 copies of my book that I now had to sell – my exhilaration turned to sheer panic!!!

Luckily the boxes have slightly reduced in number since April, but there are still quite a lot there… Will have a huge bonfire next year with all the unsold books! You’re all invited.

 

Can you wash light and dark clothes together? Have you even turned a bunch of stuff pink in the washer?

Cassandra sent along a picture of her laundry
Cassandra sent along a picture of her laundry

Of course I can wash dark and light clothes together – but whether they stay their original colour or not when they come out is the million dollar question! I kinda like the anticipation of wondering what my clothes are going to look like when they come out of there though!

Makes for a whole new wardrobe at times!

Sounds like a typical pantser

To be honest, here in Mauritius we have maids, so I don’t actually do the whole washing thing myself very often (yeah, I know, I know…) But I have definitely ended up with a few pink sheets, towels and t-shirts in the past.

I could get used to maids!

Coffee addict? Name your poison.

cs12Chocolate and red wine! Not together, just love both.

Nothing beats a glass of red wine to relax in the evening.

And chocolate… umm… anytime, anywhere.

I know that feeling. Chocolate speaks to me with the sounds of love. Then I eat it.

If writing suddenly made you rich and famous, what would you do?

Okay, so I have to tell you that when someone tells me that they wish they could win the 40 million rupee lotto, I tend to say, “But what would you do with all that money anyway?!” And I honestly think that. Pretty weird huh?

Maybe not. Depends on what a rupee is.

cs9But if I were to become rich, I guess I would enjoy being able to spoil all those I love and those in need, and it would definitely be wonderful not to have to worry about keeping my day job to pay the bills so that I could just concentrate on writing. Having money to promote my books would be cool, and even better, being able to pay someone to promote and market my books for me!!

Paid promoter! An indie author’s dream. What about shopping?

I guess I would also love to go on a shopping spree where I could just buy whatever I wanted without looking at the price tags. Oh yes, I would also definitely buy lots and lots of bags – I love bags (small, medium and large), and lots and lots of real books (no more kindle versions).

As for being famous, I don’t like being the centre of attention, but it would be pretty awesome to know that people love my books and admire my work.

Speaking of your work, who helped you the most getting started?

sistersMy sister has been amazing at helping out with all the social media and marketing on the internet stuff because I’m not very good at all that. She’s been there non-stop, motivating me and never letting me give up – because I’ve wanted to give it all up so many times after no sales happening for weeks on end! But she’s always been there/and is there, encouraging me to keep going and telling me that things will pick up and that I just have to be patient… couldn’t have done this without her.

Tell us about yourself. Who IS the real Cassandra Piat? And not typical the boring bio stuff. The dirt. Like, when was the last time you did laundry?

What’s with all the laundry questions Dan? Is laundry a passion of yours?? Like Cats?

cs14Okay, a bit about myself…

  • My real name is Sandrine but I decided to use the pen name Cassandra as Sandrine is a bit of a mouthful in English.
  • Craziest, most awesome thing I’ve ever done – skydiving 10,000 feet out of a plane in New Zealand. AMAZINGEST thing EVER!

Or just craziest. Jumping out of a perfectly good airplane? No thanks.

  • I just love the Minions quotes – they just crack me up and there are so many that are just so me!
  • cs11For my first (and only) book-signing session, I spent the first TWO HOURS sitting outside the bookshop at a table alone with my books and a lovely bouquet of flowers, and NOT ONE person came up to talk to me or buy my book! I had only one hour left and was about to start bawling my eyes out and running out of there, when suddenly a lovely man came up to talk to me AND he bought my book AND asked me if he could take a photo of me for his wife. My first ever photograph as an author! After that two other people bought my book, a woman stopped by to tell me that she had read my book and really enjoyed it, and another two stopped by to ask about me and my book so I finished on a good note. But those first two hours were so awful and I haven’t had the courage to try another session since!
  • I’m always late and I hate lists and anything official or with too many rules.
  • Did a Radio interview – was such fun and it was just so surreal to hear my voice on the radio. How had I become interesting enough to be on the radio?? When did that happen? Anyway, t’was a great experience although there were one or two embarrassing moments when I did a bit too much of ‘umm-ing’ and when I said that my books were on sale in all the local libraries instead of bookshops (my French is a bit icky at times). But all in all, I loved my 6 minutes of claim to fame.

(Note: It’s actually really easy to get interviewed on the radio in Mauritius, but pretend you didn’t know that – I do J)

  • I hate being in planes (or is in ‘on’?? Never know which one to use!)

Hated it enough to jump out of one!

  • I love pizza

How can you not? It’s pizza.

  • cs14I’m really hopeless at anything womanly i.e. makeup, high heels, fancy hairstyles. A typical example; For my first photo shoot for a local magazine, I stuck my eyeliner in my eye seconds before the photographer arrived so I greeted him with red, watery eyes so he couldn’t do any close up shots!!

Was too embarrassed to tell him the truth so just said that I had got dust in my eye! But that’s what happens when I try to wear make-up!!

  • Lucy, the main character in my book, is a replica of me character wise.

Thanks so much Dan for welcoming me on your blog and doing this interview with me. It’s been a real treat.

Thanks for being such a good sport. It was fun!

Here are all the links to Cassandra:

https://cassandrapiat.wordpress.com

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cassandra-Piat/1700738916820157

https://twitter.com/cassandra_piat

https://www.pinterest.com/cassandrapiat/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/12620567.Cassandra_Piat

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Your humble host.
Your humble host.

REBLOG me! Or SHARE this post on Facebook and Twitter! See those little buttons down below? Put on your glasses. There they are. Click them. The FOLLOW button is now in the lower right hand corner.

Wanna do an interview? Or a guest blog post to increase your exposure? Hit the Contact Me button and let’s talk!

Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the hilarious upcoming novel “Poggibonsi: an italian misadventure.” Click HERE to check out his other works.

What Did #1LineWed Do For Me?

A little while back we talked about social media and some of the hashtags you can use. Today was “one line Wednesday” (#1linewed)

(Okay, we talk about social  media a lot, like HERE, HERE, and HERE also HERE and HERE, and yes these are all different.)

There’s a theme each week and you do whatever the theme is. Today it was “last line of the chapter.” Easy enough. But by posting a dozen or so tweets with the last lines of chapters and tweeting with the #1linewed, you can generate traffic to your Twitter account, your blog, and maybe add a few followers.

That tall bar? That's today!
That tall bar? That’s today!

Here are my results

  • LOTS of Twitter traffic (see the above kickass bar chart)
  • added about 50 or so Twitter followers today
  • a better than average blog traffic day – but that can be because of the tweets or the topic, so several things go into that, below:

    Blog traffic - today is orange
    Blog traffic – today is orange
  • added 10 blog followers in the last 16 hours, so that’s about when I started tweeting (again, several things go into that)
  • a couple of people liked my Facebook author page

Not bad, and I wanted to let you know!