Tag Archives: Featured

An Exciting Cover Reveal

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I’ve been reading this book sent to me by new indie author John Kreilkamp and it is AWESOME! I absolutely LOVE it! I’m so glad he found me to design his cover. This book should be out sometime in the first part of 2016, but for now you can follow John on Facebook and catch some of his wonderful artwork.

Johns story keeps me reading and I don’t want to put it down. The scenes with the characters make me feel like I’ve been transported back in time to the seventies and I am right there in the room with them. It plays like a movie in my head, the story is just brilliant really.

I wanted to create a cover that was entirely unique, that would look a little strange, and that would capture the colors of a seventies acid trip. It’s meant to be a bit surreal, like the story of the year in the life of the protagonist.
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That said, I have come up with an illustration and design with the help of an art piece created by John himself,  ‘A Collection of Selves’ (which I thought was appropriate not only because of the line-work, but because of the name). It really brings balance to the cover overall. Follow John ‘Quantum’ Kreilkamp on Google+.
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In the end it’s a colorful cover that jumps off the page at you and I like it for several reasons:

  • John mentions the many colors he see’s when a presence shows up.
  • All of the references to drugs and getting high throughout the book.
  • There is a scene where the protagonist has his tarot read and the card that represents him is the fool which is represented by the image of the hat.
  • The fonts really command attention.
  • John’s artwork makes for a beautiful backdrop.
  • The time setting of the book in the 70’s is complimented by the abundance of color along with the design style with the black color blocks forcing the color forward.
  • It looks trippy which compliments the journey of the story.
  • It stands out, hands down, next to other books.
  • It draws the viewers attention at thumbnail size which is how it would appear on an Amazon page.

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  • It makes me want to read the book 🙂
  • What do you think?
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The Trouble With Author Spam

by M.R. Goodhew

Are You Unknowingly Spamming Your Social Networks?

Now days indie authors are feeling the pressure to make their social media networks work for them.

They have signed up on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest or as many platforms as they can handle.

They have made tons of connections, traded page likes, and joined all the right groups.

They have studied up on marketing and created a great ad for their book with a catchy tagline and a great hook. Or, they are offering their book at a seriously discounted rate if not for free.

They have created their schedule for marketing and are sticking to it like clockwork. Posting their ad to their groups and feeds at at least three times a day at these particular times – 6 am, 9 am, 12 pm, 3 pm, 6 pm, and 9 pm.

The trouble is that they are now spamming these platforms with this ad. Their share shows up constantly along with thousands of others and has become irritating or is largely ignored. Who is this spammer, is it you?

All of these ads have begun to look the same and there is nothing that stops the public you are networked with, mostly authors, from scanning right past all of your hard work that went into that perfect ad. It’s SPAM.

And if that is not enough, you may be posting your ad for your book on the pages of your followers without their permission, spamming their timelines.

There has to be a better way.

And there is.

Build Your Network With Your Brand

Newsflash – becoming an author is not a get rich quick scheme. Your product is not in demand, there are thousands like it on the market. There are thousands of well written free books, discounted books, and unique books with catchy titles and good covers.

You need to stand out from the rest to generate the kind of sales you are looking for and to gain popularity.

Becoming an author is a business venture, not unlike launching a start-up. It takes years to see the profit and plenty of hours of overtime. Becoming an author is a commitment to your writing career and involves your effort and hard work just like anything else of value. My hat is off to those of you who have done it the right way, you’ve busted your butt creating your platform and poured your heart into your brand by doing what you do best, writing.

My advice for those of you who have not began with your brand is this…

The best way to launch your book is a year before you publish. You do this by creating your brand and building a website where you start a blog and you regularly post content related to your brand. You then share this content across your social media networks and begin to build your following the right way, by getting people interested in what you write.

You make connections with real people by talking to them. You read their articles and make comments. You share their content if it resonates with your brand or if you think your network might appreciate it. You guest post on other blogs. You share your content to your groups and you connect with the people in your group. Once you have drawn people to you with your content, it’s word of mouth more than ads that will skyrocket your sales.

There is a time and place for your ad. Once or twice a week in your groups, three times a day on Twitter, once every other day on Google+ and Facebook. You can also append your ad to the bottom of each blog post, this is a great way to market your book.

Find out how to build your author brand in this article. Discovering your Brand

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Become Part of the Conversation through Blogging

If you are passionate about your subject and are willing to write about it regularly (no less than three times per week), a blog can be a fantastic—and free way of building an audience for both you and your work. You can start your blog with WordPress. It’s free, and sign-up is very simple. Below are the steps to help you get started:

  • Set Up an Account: Visit the WordPress.com and set up a free account to create your blog. Or build your own WordPress website by following these simple steps at How to Set Up Your Author Website
  • Give It a Name: I suggest that you use your name so that the blog can expand to include future books you may publish.
  • Write a Post: Once this is done, click “create post.” Type your entry just like you would an email. You can choose different fonts and sizes of text, or add pictures, lists, and links to websites.
  • Preview and Publish: Click on the preview button to see if you like the way your entry looks. If not, you can edit it until you are satisfied. Once you are happy with the results, click “publish.”

Write in Blogging Style and Observe Blogging Etiquette

  • Regularly Update: Update your blog frequently, three times a week is a minimum but set yourself a realistic schedule and stick to it.
  • Keep It Short and Concise: Keep in mind that in the blogosphere, people have shorter attention spans than they do offline so you need to make your posts easily digestible and informative – 250 words can be enough.
  • Make It Compelling: Strive to create blog copy that is compelling, interesting, and will invite further conversations. Remain true to your brand. Stay on topic so that you don’t lose your audience.
  • Engage: This is an opportunity to tell your readers what you are writing about. Ask them what they would like to hear more about. This kind of involvement will make them feel attached to you and your work, building an audience that will stay with you from book to book.
  • Involve: Pose questions and comment on people’s comments. A blog is meant to be a community. Respond directly to people’s comments, either in the comments or in a new blog post. This will engage readers so they will come back more often.
  • Give It Personality: Above all else, remember that your blog should be an extension of you, let people know who you are and your opinions should be reflected in your writing style

Target Your Audience and Build Upon It

  • Spread the Word: Once you have been posting regularly for a couple of weeks, tell your friends, colleagues, and contacts about your blog and ask them to tell their friends, colleagues, and contacts. Send an email or newsletter to your email address book or database introducing the blog and linking to it.
  • Utilize Your Sphere of Influence: Look around the Internet for related blogs, and read and post to them. Commenting and becoming part of the blog community will cause others visit your blog and do the same.
  • Use Your Amazon Author Page: Once you begin blogging, be sure to sign up for Amazon’s Author Central. This is a program that will allow you to feed your blog directly onto your author page on Amazon.com, a very powerful way to share compelling content with possible customers.

Optimize Your Blog and Link Like Crazy!

  • Submit Sitemap to Google Webmaster Tools: The first place you should take your sitemap for a new website is Google Webmaster Tools. If you don’t already have one, simply create a free Google Account, then sign up for Webmaster Tools. Add your new site to Webmaster Tools, then go to Optimization > Sitemaps and add the link to your website’s sitemap to Webmaster Tools to notify Google about it and the pages you have already published. For extra credit, create an account with Bing and submit your sitemap to them via their Webmaster Tools. Submit url’s to Bing, Google, etc.
  • Identify Clear Keywords: Create a good, concise description for your blog, as well as relevant keywords. Make your headlines snappy.
  • Tag: This is easy to do on the “create post” page. Just enter the relevant keywords in the box separated by commas, this will make your blog easier to search.
  • Link to Retailers: Use your custom “Buy the Book” landing page. The page should be live six months in advance of your book’s publication date (You can list pre-order books with Kindle Direct Publishing for eBooks, and Amazon Advantage for paperback publications).
  • Social Networking: Use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., to let others know what you’re blogging about and provide links back to your blog.
  • RSS: Put a subscription icon on every page.
  • Pictures: Use images whenever possible.
  • Learn from Others: Take a look at your favorite writers’ blogs and emulate some of the techniques that make their postings great.

Participate On Other Blogs

This can be a very powerful tool for promotion and raising your profile. Here are some tips for getting started:

  • Find Your Community: Use a blog search engine to find blogs in your subject/area of expertise.
  • Make Your Mark: Once you have identified those that feel relevant and compelling, become part of the conversation by commenting on a post that interests you and add something that readers of the blog might be interested to know.
  • Let People Know Where You Are: Link to your blog or website if you’ve written something relevant to the conversation. If you are bringing something valuable to the debate, people will begin to follow you and will be more interested in what you publish.

For Your Cover Design, Illustration, & Author Graphics See Michelle Rene

Book Cover Designer and Marketing Design

 

How to Write a Character Sketch

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A sketch is a starting point.

In the visual arts, artists carry around sketch pads to practice and develop the fundamental skills of their craft with the aim of producing paintings that seem to jump off the canvas, or sculptures that seem to move in just the right light.

The same is true for authors who use character sketches.

Writers use this tool to develop and rehearse one of the fundamental skills of their craft -characterization.

However, the final goal is not to have a notepad full of character sketches, but an author should get to know his or her character through this practice.

While not everything that an author writes in a character sketch must be included in the novel, the author should develop an in-depth and all-encompassing knowledge of every facet of the character’s personality in order to create a consistent and engaging persona.

The ultimate goal of a writer is to take these character sketches and use them to craft a wonderfully engrossing, character-driven work of fiction.

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Try Some Book Study

A Character Sketch is a great way to assess the characters in the literature you are reading or people that you are researching about. It can give you tools of observation as you look at the many details about another individual.

When studying a specific character in a literary piece the sketch gives you the freedom to be a detective and try to find out what the author is expressing through their characters. You can sketch the protagonist ( the favorable hero or heroine in the story,) or the antagonist ( the character which causes the conflict for the main character), or the supporting characters.

This sharpens the skill of observation and note-taking as you focus on one specific character and the traits that make them ‘who they are’ in the book.

Can you write a sketch without a book to study? Absolutely!  A great way to practice is to sketch someone you know in real-life.

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Writing a Character Sketch

When you are writing a Character Sketch, want to look for qualities of character and/or personality traits that you see in the person you want to write about.  The main goal of this is to be able to tell something  about the person you are researching. Think of it like an introduction.  In essence, you are introducing the reader to the person you are writing about.

Be sure to use strong visual words in your writing. You want to provide a lasting mental image of the person or character you are writing about. The use of quality adjectives and feeling in your writing, using words that relate to the five senses,  elicit an emotional response from your reader.  This will allow your reader to not only connect with you and the character but will show how you felt when reading a piece or spending time with the person you are writing about.

This type of writing only requires you to give a brief glimpse of the individual. When you are preparing to write make a list of the traits or details you want to include. It is possible to assign the number of traits equal to the # of paragraphs or supporting topics needed. Or you can categorize the subjects into a broader spectrum which allows you to have multiple supporting points for each topic.  It is always best to outline your writing material first so you have a good idea what you are writing.

Your outline should include descriptions on the following details:

  • Tell about their physical features. ( hair color, height, etc.)
  • Tell about the character’s personality. ( are they funny, serious, quiet, etc.?)
  • Their  likes or dislikes( What you know about their preferences and why?)
  • Talk about their family ( siblings, family history, etc)
  • What are their  beliefs or  hobbies?
  • Include anything that makes us see “who” they are.
  • What do you like or dislike about them?
  • Why are you drawn to them?

Sample Outline

Here is a sample outline for you to follow. It is a basic 5 paragraph ( approximately 500 word essay outline)  Feel free to take this and make it your own or make your own outline using this as a guide.

Introduction:

This section will introduce the character and is typically the first paragraph in  your paper.  It should include the following:

  • Your thesis statement ( the overall theme of the paper or the main idea of what you are writing) . The Thesis statement should  include the most  important character traits.
  • The subtopics ( these become the topic sentence in your body paragraphs) should be included in this paragraph as well. For example: use 1-2 sentences to list the traits that you are going to talk about. End with a transition sentence that ties into the 2nd paragraph.

Body:

This is paragraphs 2-4 or the in between paragraphs. The body comes between the Introduction and the Conclusion. These paragraphs detail the traits listed as the subtopics from the Introduction. Those subtopics should be the topic sentences in each body paragraph.

  • Always try to include the most important trait 1st, the second most important detail next, and so on.  Each paragraph has 1 trait which is discussed in detail. Include information  about experiences that support the trait which is being discussed.

Remember!  You want to pull your reader in so include details that will connect them to your main character.

Conclusion:

This is the last paragraph in your paper. Try to conclude with a final comment, pointed and well-expressed, that highlights the traits discussed in the paper.

  • Restate your thesis statement.
  • Remind the reader of your most important points.
  • Close with a solid statement which finalizes all you are trying to communicate to the reader.

 

Another Approach Recommended by Editors

 Who is your character physically?

Physical characteristics are the first things we notice when we meet someone. Therefore, this is a good starting point when writing a character sketch. Is your character a woman or a man? Is he or she tall or short? Is your character bald? How old is your character? Does he or she have a disability?

Authors, eager to explore the in-depth psychology of their written subjects, might discount these details as unimportant and base. But it is often these very details that lead to conflict or are the means through which we explore a character’s psychology. As an example of this, we recommend reading Flannery O’Connor’s Good Country People; in this short story, the physical details of the main character are representations of her internal state. Without a vivid description of this character’s physicality, a critical dimension of the plot would be lost and the central conflict would be nonexistent. Answering questions about your character’s physicality is the first step in creating a fully realized character.

What is your character doing?

This is the next question to ask because it brings into account other aspects of story writing such as setting and time. The answer to this question will also affect other aspects of your sketch, such as what your character is wearing or how he or she is feeling. Is your character walking down the street? Is he or she sitting in a park? Is your character working on a boat? Asking what your character is doing will not only help you understand your character, but also his or her relationship to the setting in your story.

Authors may be tempted to gloss over this part of characterization. When asked what his or her character is doing, an author might give a cursory answer; he or she may answer that the subject is at the movies, for example. But consider all that there is to do at a movie theatre: Is the character waiting in line for tickets or at the concession stand? Is he or she waiting to talk to the manager? Perhaps the character is sitting impatiently waiting for the movie to begin. Getting as specific as you can when answering this question will not only help you define your character, but will also help to define the other elements of fiction.

What is your character feeling?

This is probably one of the more complex questions you can ask about your character. Is your character angry? Is he or she happy, sad, tired, or depressed? Does your character love something or someone? Asking questions about your character’s emotional life might evolve into the production of a character history. While this may be tempting, you have to focus on what your subject is feeling within the context of the story you are writing. Although the answers to these questions are important, they are rarely explicitly stated in the story.

Authors may be tempted to start with the emotional or psychological state of their characters and they may even explicitly state them. This can lead to one of the cardinal sins of fiction writing: telling instead of showing. Implicitly showing how your character is feeling by his or her interactions with other characters or the setting is infinitely more interesting to read than explicitly stating whether your character is happy, sad, elated, joyful, or miserable.

Do you have any creative ideas that help you put together character sketches?

 

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Sources:                                                                                                 http://www.journeysingrace.com/home-education/lesson-plans/literature/how-to-write-a-character-sketch/ http://www.scribendi.com/advice/how_to_write_a_character_sketch.en.html