Thursday, May 31, 2012

Book Review: My Last Blind Date

I am not too much into chick lit - although I should confess that I had a time in my life when I was more than delighted to go through the entire Shopaholic series - but I always like to read new books and discover new writing styles. This rainy afternoon I decided that nothing else can help me to find inspiration than this short story by Susan Hatler : My Last Blind Date. 
As I have not heard about the writer before and before starting the lecture, I wanted to browse her website for more info and liked one of her remarks about her writing styles: "I'll write whatever calls to me". 
My Last Blind Date was released in February 2012 and tells the story of the date between Rachel and Noah. Work colleagues and too shy to share their interest in a relationship they are set together on a blind date on Valentine's Day, by Ellen, a generous colleague. The moment of surprise has passed, they get along well together and, if we have to trust the end, are happy even after. 
It is short, at a certain extent predictable story of 25 pages, whose zest is the dialogue: smart yet funny exchanges and interesting wordings going beyond the temptation of triviality that many chick lit and romance books could be tempted to use as a way to attract the readers. Do not expect too much action or suspense, but you can count on a pleasant hour of reading in the afternoon. You can take it on your Kindle while on vacation or read it later in the weekend when you need to get refreshed after 7 exhausting weeks of life as a single.  You should keep your optimism and good humour and simple wonders could always happen. 
Last but not least, the cover is attractive as well, with a lot of red - a colour highly recommended by both specialists in publishing, design and marketing. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

All you want to know about Kindle books

For the moment I am only a writer-in-process, but when I am out of inspiration, I am a permanent reader. Last night, I discovered that months back I downloaded The Kindle's Publisher's Guide and decided that it is the right time not only to better use my Kindle resources, but also to learn how to make my own book.
Most part of the book is dedicated to the step-by-step orientation in a different world of writing and the difference with the usual Microsoft Word is dramatic. This is even more difficult when you deal with various academic works, when you require footnotes and special graphic representations. If you have your own writing plan and want to focus exclusively on your words, you will certainly prefer to focus on a better wording than on  HTML formatting tips. In most cases, you do not even need to do so, as you can operate the various adjustments later, after your text is ready. In addition, you can find many programs - for free - helping with the conversion process. 
One of the most important advise is that you should not publish anything unless you have read it, mainly in the e-reader format, in order to be sure that it is readable from both the technical point of view and from the point of view of the content. 
Besides the detailed technical aspects - that I would love to explore further, eventually, with the help of a dedicated workshop or two, there are some good advices about how to advertise your eBook online:
- Find a good selection of tags and keywords that will help to find out your page in searches
- The usual online description of the book should not go beyond 1,500-2,000 characters
- Find the right target groups for your book and start the conversation about it. 
- If you consider useful, use paid Google AdWorks or Facebook ads for increasing your chances of publicity.
- Monitor permanently the results and the investment.
Overall, it is not very difficult to be a self-published author, but you should be aware that your writing only will not help you to reach success. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Writing happiness

As a professional writer in the process, I enjoy every piece of advice about how to improve my writing, either it is about simple blogging or sophisticated literary writing. 
Thus, I enjoyed a pleasant lecture of the eBook by Marya Jan - Writing Happiness, How to write blog content that works. You can read this booklet very fast, for free, and if you are looking for some inspiration in-between posts or when you feel that the writers' block is around, it is the right lecture to lift you up.
In the words of the author, it is a "non-grammar focus guide for writers and non-writers who are in the business of generating content". This is the reason why, for instance, you are not scholarly advices that first and forehand your posts should be grammatically correct in order to achieve success. In a way it is obvious, in a world of words facing a very serious confrontation. 
The book includes a couple of very useful advices, more or less evident even for experienced writers. It includes a couple of insightful quotes, mostly from Stephen King's On Writing, a book which I highly appreciate. Regardless of your domain of writing activity, you will find for sure 2-3 tips.
Shortly, here are my lessons learned from the lecture of the Marya Jan's book:
- If you are a writer it does not mean that you should stop reading. You should be in touch permanently with what people from your domain are writing, but also for improving your style and looking for new sources of inspiration. My experience is, when I find something interesting, I prefer to blog about it as well and, eventually, share my impression with my audience.
- You need to find a reason to write. In other words, to find a clear reason to put your words in order. The reader needs to discover something new, and thus clarity is key. The organization of your blog post matter as well: the headline and the first paragraph are very important for a successful reading. The end matters as well as an incentive to encourage the reader to return or to go further to explore other writings published on your blog. 
- Related to the previous aspect, you should find your voice in writing. This is the reason why very often I preferred to put my intensive blogging on hold for a couple of weeks or even months, as I was looking to accommodate different voices and writing personalities.
- Add to the ingredients of a successful writing the proper connection with the reader. Do you know who are your readers, what are their tastes and interests? In many cases, your domain of activity is limiting your domain of activity and thus, creates the possibility for the development of your niche. For instance, if you are a fashion blogger, you will be interested in covering all issues dealing with fashion, but if you are into do-it-yourself fashion it will be even better for reaching a certain audience.
- As you are writing for a blog, you should take into consideration the limited attention and time of your usual writer. If you are interested in complicated writing, you should avoid blogging. However, there are many examples of successful bloggers addressing highly complicated issues with the help of clear expressions and short sentences. 

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Monday, May 28, 2012

The writing break is over

This blog was on vacation for almost seven years. But as I do not like abandoning any of my writing projects, I would continue to write about writing, books and my daily writing struggle. I used all those days and night since the the last post to improve my writing and even succeeded to get a (modest) living out of writing.
Time to share my experiences and update my plans.
Will be back very soon!