3 Tips To Getting Over Your Holiday Writing Hurdles (The Emotional Rollercoaster, part 1)

 

00 santa hat writer
A visual representation of me if I were a lady in a Santa hat. Even I don’t get this one.

I expected to get a ton of writing done at Christmas last year. NOTHING got done!

 

 

NOTHING!!!

 

 

Writer’s slump? Maybe.

 

Don’t you HATE it when the words aren’t flowing, or you can’t get motivated to write? Or other writing related hurdles?

 

The thing is, it passes.

 

Think about how difficult it was to share your work with another person the first time. Hopefully they were nice no matter how good or bad it was. Whether it was shared on Facebook, with friends, a spouse, a critique group, SHARING was a mountain BEFORE you did it – and now we look back and see it wasn’t such a big deal.

 

businesswoman-pointing-gun-to-computer-laptop-sitting-office-desk-desperate-stressed-young-attractive-having-problems-47931112
Write, damn you!

Somehow, we got through it.

 

Lots of hurdles are that way. You just knew about some of them, like publishing or getting reviews. Maybe you had an idea of what writer’s block was, but it hadn’t ever happened, or you never had to push through a case of lack of motivation all by yourself.

 

Those are all hurdles, too, and they seem HUGE when you are in them.

 

Worry not.

 

There are ways over your WRITER HURDLE just like any other kind of hurdle. Here are a few suggestions.

 

  1. Down in the dumps? Help somebody else. Volunteer at a soup kitchen or help another author with their problem. Misery loves company but in this case your input might help them get past their hurdle. It feels good to help. You want to feel good. I feel great every time one of you says that I helped you, or thanks me, whether you do it in a comment here or in a private message (and I get a LOT of those). They all feel great! (And don’t worry, I’ll be asking every one of you to buy a book pretty soon to show how much I really helped you.)

 

03 art and images (5)
Oh, it’s a compliment, eh?

Remember, when you help a writer friend and they say “no” to your suggestion, that’s a good sign. They instinctively have a better one percolating. Or they’re an asshole. Hold back the desire to stab them. “No” is good and so is “yes.” Talking about it with a sympathetic ear that belongs to a writer makes a big difference. Normal people don’t understand. Find that ear. Talk to it. (Did you just get a flash of a big ear sitting on a table at a coffee shop and you were talking to it, with no person attached? I did. Weird.)

 

  1. Writer’s block? Do a flash fiction challenge. Muscles atrophy and so does your sharpness as a writer. Don’t let it. You can force yourself to write something that is just for fun and it can restart you engine.

 

  1. Stuck on a plot point? Talk, or think up an alternate ending.
    man-reading-book
    Ooh, that’s GOOD!

    Send in your problem. Maybe we’ll air the options here and when people say “Ooh that’s good!” – WOW, the wind goes right back into your sails.

 

What else is bothering you? Let me know. There are lots of smart people here. No need to suffer in silence.

 

Most important, realize: with a few exceptions, you are not a robot. You have emotions or your stories would read like instruction manuals for Legos. This is a different business from a lot of others because it is so personal (more on that in part 2), and that can magnify things, so don’t let it. Learn to develop a thicker skin. But until then, ASK FOR THAT HELP.

 

Everybody here wants to help you.

 

Let us.

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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.

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!

7 Ways To Improve Your Blog Presence & Grow Your Platform

We're all busy. Here's how to be more efficient with the same time expenditure.
We’re all busy. Here’s how to be more efficient with the same time expenditure.

The biggest thing you can do to build a loyal, quality base for your author platform is to reliably deliver quality content in your books, your blogs, and your social media.

That takes time, and we wanna be writing.

Here are seven ways to help without taking a ton of time.

  1. Write two new blog posts every week that are helpful and informative to whoever your particular blog’s market is. For mine it’s other writers, so I write blogs that are “how to” or useful somehow for building a base or whatever. That’s Sunday and Monday. Use the hashtag for those days and tweet about your blog topic a few times during the day.

#SundayBlogShare

#MondayBlogs

  1. Wednesday be sure to play the one line Wednesday #1lineWeds on Twitter. Use stuff from your writing and try to get their hashtag and your website into your tweet so you have something that draws interested parties back to your blog.
See my blog site in there?
See my blog site in there?

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  1. On Saturday (I think it’s Saturday) there’s a blog rerun and rehash. So you rerun your BEST blog posts – the ones that got the most likes or comments, or the ones you think are most helpful.

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  1. Make sure you cheerfully thank anyone who comments on your blog. You may publish a blog on Monday but that doesn’t mean everybody reads it on Monday. You will see comments trickle in through the week. Be sure to reply to each one and be friendly when you do.
Thanks for the support!
Thanks for the support!

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  1. If you can do a guest blog post, do it. Not every site allows them, but right now I am. You’ll get bigger exposure and draw readers to your site as well.

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  1. On the days you’re not posting a blog, or whenever it best fits into your schedule, read other people’s blogs and comment on them. Each comment you make on someone else’s blog is a small advertisement for the content on your website.

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  1. Use tags in your blog posts. I haven’t historically done a lot of that and I’m just starting to, but supposedly it’s a big deal for getting noticed by search engines. You need that.
Well, maybe that last one...
Easy-peasy.

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Basically, that gives you base-building activities seven days a week by only blogging twice a week. Not bad!

There are more (there always are) but this is a good start. Get to it.

What are some tips YOU recommend?

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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.” Check out his other works HERE.

How the word “Was” Affects Telling Vs. Showing: a reblog from NY Times bestselling author Kelly Abell

kelly abell
NY Times bestselling author Kelly Abell

Just in case you were wondering WHEN does the learning stop… it never does (but in a good way).

(We recently discussed writing better stories HERE)

My Facebook friend Kelly Abell, New York Times bestselling author, explains that even at that level she’s always discovering new ways to improve her writing.

So, when you think you are struggling or the Critique Partners (read about their value, HERE) are beating you up, remember: you’re still learning!

I thought this was a great post by a terrific author, explaining a few basic concepts we all need refreshers on occasionally, and the value of a second pair of eyes (more on that HERE) looking at your work. Because if you’re always learning, you’re always improving – and that’s never a bad thing!

wwkKelly’s blog has LOTS of great tips for writers of all venues. Check it out.

Author Kelly Abell

I must tell you that I am one that constantly wants to improve my craft.  I think we are always developing as writers, and when you find a friend that makes you better, you HANG on to that friend!  I have such a friend in author Frank Allan Rogers.  Frank is the author of an exceptional book entitled Upon A Crazy Horse, and he also edited my book Captured In Lies.  I respect Frank’s approach and I wanted to share something with you that he just recently sent to me.

One of my projects was a YA series entitled Mystic Lake Guardians.  The first book was The Haunting of Mystic Lake, and the series was about a group of 5 teens with some very special abilities who become embroiled in some pretty sticky paranormal conflicts and work to save each other and their town.  In the first book, I had a character named Logan…

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