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What’s Your MC Wearing?

Inflate Your Characters by Walking a Mile in their ….

Pumps? Flip flops? Work boots? Moccasins? Justins? Loubouttins?

I love getting to know my characters. I’m a visual girl and one way I do this is by flipping through magazines or websites or comparing them to someone I know. Once I know what they look like, I decide who they are. I mean, what makes them tick anyway?

Who is your latest main character? What would they wear to spend a day at home watching television or reading? Okay half of you groaned…”My person wouldn’t spend a day doing that.” Let’s focus. What would they wear while at home?

Would they wear that to the grocery? Would they wear it to a friend’s house? To dinner?

Clothes say more than most people will admit, but it’s true. They tell others about your health, your mood, your life and clothes give a glimpse at your personality. So, take a few minutes to quiz your characters. They just woke up. What were they sleeping in? What do they change into for the day? If they change activities, do they change clothes? How many times? Is their closet filled with the same outfit like Fred & Wilma Flintstone or are they diverse and complex like you? I hope it’s the second one. Complicated characters make for lively reading.

Their wardrobe will give you a peek into their life if you ask the right questions. Wardrobe is one more way to make discoveries about who they are. Why is or isn’t fashion important to them? Why do they or don’t they wear anything but jeans? Is it a preference? Necessary to their job? Cheaper? More practical? And then Why? Why? Why?

Who knew our clothes said so much!

So, what’s your character wearing?

 

Writer Wednesday Welcomes: Dana Sitar

What Value Do You Add to Your Readers’ Lives?

by Dana Sitar

The cornerstone of your platform is this gigantic but basic question: What value do you add to your readers’ lives? Whether you’re trying to pin down your audience for your marketing strategy, drawing up a book proposal, or drafting your blog’s editorial calendar, it all comes down to what you can really offer to your readers.

It is, after all, this value that draws your audience in and keeps them around. It is this value that they will eventually pay you to provide. So, make sure you understand what they need, how you can offer it, and what makes you different from anyone else who can offer it. Before they dish over their money or time, your readers are going to ask themselves this same question. Be sure you are building a relationship with them that will result in a favorable answer.

How are you utilizing the avenues you have to reach your readers? Through your blog, social media, publicity, and products, you have tons of opportunities to position yourself as an expert in your niche and build a relationship based on trust with your readers. Make yourself the go-to person in your field before you try to sell anything, and they’ll be eager to buy your books when they’re finally released.

Here are my tips for adding value to your readers’ lives:

Through social networks –  While Facebook and Twitter offer great avenues to share your work, some marketing experts recommend that as little as 1 in 10 posts be self-promotion. The majority of your social media messages should be for your readers, not for you. Share a link to an interesting article you’ve read or a great new tool you’ve discovered. Ask a question that gets followers thinking and encourages a discussion. You can even tell a joke – I follow a lot of comedians on Twitter, because their feeds are chock full of the value they provide best: humor.

On your blog – Share more than your anecdotes and opinions. Some of that will help readers to get to know you, but what will keep them coming back is the information you can offer. Share your tips. Offer them the value of your expertise, education, and experience. Do some research, and share what you learn along with the resources that you find. If you’re just getting started in your niche, a great way to offer value on your blog is to invite those with more experience for a guest post or an interview.

In your book –  Writing a book proposal is a great exercise in assessing your value. It’s all about how your book will add value to your readers’ lives: What will they gain from reading it? Why are you the one qualified to write it? Why will they want it now? Whether you want to write a proposal and find a publisher, or you want to self-publish, know the answers to these questions to ensure that you are putting out a product that your audience will love.

About the Author

Dana Sitar is a freelance journalist and author of the ongoing memoir series This Artists’ Life. Her latest release, The Hart Compound, follows the writer to her journalistic roots as Senior Campaign Writer to a Mayoral campaign headed by two Madison, Wisconsin comedians. Dana shares writing tips and anecdotes at her blog by.dana.sitar.

Follow @danasitar on Twitter.

This Artist’s Life: Volume Two, The Hart Compound, My Life in Short Stories, by Dana Sitar

I meet the most incredible people online. Dana is fabulous. I’m honored she’d take the time to write a guest spot for Musings and I appreciate it very much. Thank you Dana! I hope you’ll all take a minute to check her out, visit her blog or learn about her new book. Be sure to leave a comment if you want to hear from Dana! She’ll keep her eyes over here today just in case :)

Musings Welcomes:Author Lois Roelofs!

Five Tips to Help You Complete Your Book

Lois Roelofs has graciously agreed to stop by today as part of her Wow! Women on Writing Blog Tour. I’m honored to have her and can’t wait for you to meet her too! She’s bringing what every writer needs: 5 Tips to Finish Your Book!! Enjoy!

5 Tips to Finish Your Book

I remember the day when finishing my book suddenly seemed possible. I had been shagging pages to my writing group for eight years, on and off,  and was methodically leafing through their comments, making what I hoped may be the final revisions.  My excitement that this arduous process may actually come to an end sent me into a tailspin for a minute. I needed to calm the commotion and draw up a plan. I grabbed my calendar and looked ahead to identify a target date. My birthday was a month away.  A finished book would make a most rewarding birthday present!

I’m a planner, so here are five tips that pushed me through to the professional editing stage.

1.            Give yourself a schedule.  Say you have thirty days. Make a list of what you need to do. My list included days to complete the final revisions, a day to do a word search for words that added nothing to the sentence or were overused, and two days at the end to stand at my kitchen bar and read the entire manuscript aloud.

2.            Prepare for computer malfunctions. Remember Murphy’s law? “If anything can go wrong it will.” Plan ahead to have a second computer or a computer expert on call.

This is not the time for your computer to crash, your document to turn into gibberish, or your “save every five minutes” setting to fail. I had to call a computer friend more than once to rescue me from my nerves.

3.            Notify your readers that your completed draft is coming. You’ve probably asked a few friends to read your final draft. Now is the time to alert them to your target date, so they can clear their calendars. Also, telling them your target date will help you stay accountable. It motivated me to just sit in the chair and do the necessary work.

4.            Invite your internal editor to come home. As much as our internal editors can intrude, this was a time I wanted my editor back in my head, not to criticize, but to alert me to things I could have overlooked. Sentences that were there because I liked them, but didn’t add anything to the narrative. Misspelled words that spell check didn’t catch. Passive verbs that slipped in while I slept.

5.            Track your progress. Use a spiral notebook to track your work. The pages will not get lost, and you’ll have a log to document your efforts. Reward yourself if you’ve met your goal for that day. A writing friend of mine gives herself a star. As a veteran note taker, I jotted daily notes and crossed off items on my list as I finished them.

While your book is out to your final readers, organize your book files, clear your desk, tidy up your hard drive, and empty your wastebasket.

Then take a week off.  Breathe. Sleep. Eat out. Go shopping. Throw yourself a party. When your book copies come back, you’ll be refreshed and ready to correct the occasional error these final readers will catch.  And you’ll be confident that your book is in its best possible form to continue on its way to publication.

Title: Caring Lessons: A Nursing Professor’s Journey of Faith and Life

Lois Roelofs describes herself as a rebellious minister’s daughter, a reluctant nurse, a restless mom, and a perpetual student who eventually became a fun-loving teacher of mental health nursing. During her forty-year nursing career, she cared for patients and taught nursing students in primarily mental health and medical-surgical settings. As a caregiver, she learned the value of caring for herself and did so by changing jobs to suit her interests, going back to school more than once to feed her crave for learning, and seeking professional help when personal and family crises invaded her life.

You will be amused, saddened, and inspired as you read this intimate and introspective memoir. Plus you will learn the importance of faith, family, and friendship—whatever your profession—and come away with a new appreciation of caring for yourself as well as caring for others.

About the Author:

Lois longed to fly the friendly skies but in 1968 minister’s daughters did not become stewardesses. They chose practical careers like teaching or nursing. For the entire first year of nursing school, Lois made weekly calls home to beg her parents to let her come home. Then her instructors decided she had a “bad attitude”. Despite her lukewarm feelings about a nursing career Lois set out to prove those cranky old instructors wrong.

Lois’s attitude, as well as her feelings about nursing, changed radically during her over 30 year career. She retired in the year 2000 as professor emerita from Trinity Christian College with Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral degrees in nursing. But even that wasn’t enough classroom time for Lois. She recently completed three years of the University of Chicago Basic Program of Liberal Education for Adults. She now spends her days writing and being a happy grandma.

Find Lois Online:

Lois’s website: http://loisroelofs.com/

Caring Lessons’ excerpts: http://loisroelofs.com/excerpts-3/

 

Book Review: Ten Things We Did (and probably shouldn’t have)

I am a huge YA reader. Addicted is an understatement. For every book I read meant for the 25 & over crowd, I read an entire freaking library of YA. Then a non-YA. Then 47 YAs. You get it. Despite my YA obsession, I rarely do book review these days. There’s a bunch of reasons you don’t care about. The main one being there are sooooooo many *blowing-my-mind*. Where would I even begin? Better, where would I end? If I reviewed every YA I read and loved this would become a YA review blog fast. I really want to keep my blog focused on my bookish friends who also write. Writing is my passion and writing in the hopes of publication is like trying to catch a unicorn, so definitely want to share what I learn and encourage those of you also trying to catch a unicorn. Maybe I can get a show on that channel where the guy thinks he’s chasing Big Foot, but he calls him a Sqwatch and eats a lot of bacon. Very little else.  Now my review.

Ten Things We Did (And probably shouldn’t have) by Sara Mlynowski

This was a cheap download on Kindle. I’m not gonna lie. I read so much para YA, I almost didn’t start this book.

But then I did.

I read this title in a day. I barely slept…except in church accidentally when I stayed up until dawn reading the night before. This is a really real book about people. The overall concept of a teen’s parent letting them move in with another family is iffy, but it’s a book. Do I think vampires sparkle? Sometimes you tell yourself “It’s a BOOK” and go with it. SO, I did because I loved this MC from the first sentence. I continued to love her and then I loved every other character this author created. All of them, even the awful ones because they too were so real.

I laughed my way through the crazy antics and awkward situations that flew by me at warp speed. This girl gets into more trouble in one weekend at 16 than I did in 4 years of college and let me tell you….I had fun in college. This book deals with truth and emotion and the incredibly complex dynamic of friends/relationships/families etc in a way no one can deny. I was so captivated by this story that at one point I reached for my cappuccino and then stopped reading to look for it when I didn’t feel it, only to realize I didn’t have a cappuccino. The people in the story were having cappuccinos. I was not. LOL Now THAT has never happened to me.

This author hit a major home run. I laughed so hard I swiped tears. And I snorted. I related. I rooted. I am now recommending. This is fabulous. Made of awesome. Wrapped in fun. You need to read it. YA lovers simply must. I am now looking for everything I can find by  Sarah Mlynowski. She’s officially made my I-will-read-anything-you-write-including-postits-and-flash cards-pile.

Loved it. 95 stars or something. (I don’t really have a scale but should).

Read a little here if you’d like: HarperTeen.com

Making Chocolate Zucchini Muffins Today!

Today you’ll find my delightfully unstable character, Ruby Russell, inspiring Laura over at Change the Word blog. She has an amazing fabulous hella cool section on her blog she calls “In the Kitchen”. I mean, right? Awesome. She’s read Death by Chocolate and taken Ruby’s deadly recipe to the oven – minus the ricin of course *wink*

If you enjoy a yummy recipe and fun with a reader and a kitchen, stop & see Laura In the Kitchen on  Change the Word!

See you there!

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