Posted in Writing

The Faleena Hopkins Saga

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. It’s Mother’s Day Weekend and I’m excited to celebrate my mom.  We’re all gathering at her house because she’s lives kind of in the center of all of us siblings.  That means I won’t be able to spend as much time writing as I would like, but it’s always like this at the end of the school year.

Anyway, today I thought I’d talk about a big blow up in the writing community.   This is one of those stories that is stranger than fiction and it’s totally true. We’ll call it The Faleena Hopkins Story.

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To get the full scoop check out Jenny Trout’s post on it here.   She has written so eloquently what everyone in the writing community is feeling and she gives you the facts on how it all came about. I’ll give you a quick run-down. Faleena Hopkins is a self-published author who has a series on the market with the word “Cocky” in her titles because her characters are the Cocker brothers. She has trademarked the word “Cocky.”

Now everyone in their right mind knows they can’t trademark titles or even words for that matter.  Because if you can, I’m going to trademark the words “The” and “And.” Do you see why you can’t do this?

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We all know Faleena is mistaken.  Her biggest mistake is that she doesn’t understand the difference between her brand and her title. “Cocky” is a word she is using in the title of her books. It is not a brand. Titles cannot be copyrighted and neither can names of characters.

To protect her “brand” she has sent cease and desist orders to other authors with the word “Cocky” in their titles. This has caused quite an uproar in the writing community and we have to question her motives. After all, I’ve never heard of Faleena Hopkins until this transpired. Now, all of a sudden her name is in blog posts and tweets have exploded on twitter discussing this issue. Could this be a publicity stunt that has gone hopelessly awry?

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No. I don’t think it is. I believe Faleena actually believed she was protecting her brand. She misunderstood what a brand was and unfortunately, this misunderstanding has hurt her writing career. Most likely ruined it. I know there are many readers who’ve been put off by Faleena’s actions. So if she’s hoping to ever get a traditional publishing deal…yeah…well that bridge has been burned.  The RWA (Romance Writers of America) has joined this battle to help some of these authors who now have to engage in costly legal battles to keep their titles.

We can all learn from Faleena’s mistake. When you start marketing your books, set some goals and figure out a way to reach them. If you have questions on how to do this, talk to other authors who are doing it. The writing community is filled with people who are willing to lend a hand. It’s such an amazing group of people and for God’s sake make sure you understand the difference between a brand and a title. It’ll save you all kinds of money in legal fees if you do. To get more info on the saga just follow the hashtags #cockygate and #ByeFaleena on Twitter. It’ll be interesting to see where this all goes.

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Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. What are your feelings on the Faleena Hopkins saga? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you!

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Posted in Writing

Why I love the Writing Community

 

 

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. I’m worried about the Floridians as Hurricane Irma makes her way toward them.  I hope they all make it to safety, and for the friends and family who’ve decided to stay or can’t make it out, my prayers and thoughts are with you.

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It’s during these scary events that we see our true natures coming out. People forget about their prejudices and the barriers come down. Everyone helps everyone else no matter race, political affiliation, or religious bent. It would be so nice if we could do that all the time, wouldn’t it?

Sigh. That’s one of the things I love about the writing community. I’ve met so many awesome people who’re willing to lend a hand. I’ve participated in this contest where successful authors offer to be a mentor to writers who are on the path to publication. It’s an incredible event. If you’re an aspiring author I’d recommend getting involved. The contest is called Pitch Wars.

 

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To learn more about it. Stop on over to Brenda Drake’s blog. She’s the one who developed this growing event. There were more than three thousand entries this year. Here’s the link: http://www.brenda-drake.com/pitch-wars/

 

The thing about this contest is there are groups of authors that have formed and they’re supporting each other by offering critique partners, beta readers, and just general reinforcement to the potential mentees. Everyone wants each other to win. It’s amazing to see all the encouragement.

If you’re an aspiring author, I’d also recommend establishing a presence on Twitter. I’ve found there are many literary agents who hang out there, and it’s a great way to make a connection. Who knows, maybe you’ll get an agent that way. Stranger things have happened.

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There are also chats on Twitter. All you need to do is follow the hashtags #askagent, #querytip, and #ontheporch and you’ll find professionals in the industry to ask questions and get advice from. I’ve met other aspiring authors, editors, and agents this way. Twitter is an awesome avenue for making connections.

 

There’s another hashtag that I’ve found extremely helpful and that’s #MSWL.

Agents use this hashtag to tweet their manuscript wishlist. We’ve never been so in touch with the gatekeepers of the publishing industry. In my opinion, this is the best time to be a writer. There are so many opportunities to make connections. So it’s important to hone your craft, you never know when opportunity will knock on your door.

How about you? Do you have any tips you’d like to share with the writing community? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Writing

When Imposter Syndrome rears its Ugly Head

 

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. It’s been a heck of a week with Hurricane Harvey dropping a ton of water down on Texas and wreaking havoc on almost the entire state. I’m glad that most people are safe including my friends and family, and I’m sending prayers to people who’ve been hurt or lost their lives in the hurricane.

 

 

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On a much less dramatic scale, I also started back to work this week after a summer of running my kids all over and writing. So I am tired, but I did manage to keep up with my writing goals. 🙂

Anyway, today I thought I’d talk about something that many writers deal with and that is  Imposter syndrome. We don’t feel like authentic writers until we get that major book deal, or award, or win that contest. I’ve been there and so have many of my fellow writer pals.

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It’s a horrible feeling to not feel authentic, so I thought I’d write a post on the things you can do when that feeling strikes, and from what I’ve heard from the big authors that feeling can hit them, too. None of us are immune.

 

  • First and foremost, keep writing. The feeling will soon dissipate as you immerse yourself in your writing once again. Writing for me has always been an escape and a way to deal with anxiety. Use it now to fight the Imposter syndrome that is attempting to take over your brain.

 

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  • Take a break and read. Reading is a great stress reliever for me and I believe Imposter syndrome is really just a bad case of nerves. So take a break and read one of your favorite authors, then get back into it. You’ll be glad you did.

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  • Chat with other authors. The writing community is full of kind-hearted people who’re willing to lend a hand to help another author succeed. Trust me on this, I’ve run into many of them.

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  • Get on Twitter and connect with other people in the community. There are so many opportunities and ways to connect with authors, editors, and even agents. I’ve met some incredible people who’ve helped me grow as an author and you can, too.

 

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  • It’s important to develop a group of friends who can cheer you on when you’re wallowing in the fires of Imposter syndrome. I’ve done this and when the going gets tough, they’re always there to give me what I need. Whether it’s a quick critique, or help with a difficult scene, or just a quick pat on the back. They are there.

 

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These are five ways I’ve dealt with Imposter syndrome. I’m sure there are many more. Are there ways you deal with it? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Writing

Have you Outgrown your Critique Group?

 

 

Hello everyone! I hope all is well with you. I’m back today and I’d like to talk about writing. I haven’t done a post on the craft in quite a while and I know it’s time.  In this post, I’m discussing critique groups. Are they beneficial to writers?

 

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A good group is invaluable to a fledgling writer as long as they’re offering constructive criticism. Unfortunately, not everyone offers that. There’s always one person in the group whose main purpose is to just criticize. If they tell you your writing stinks but can offer no advice on how to improve it, then ignore them. Remember there’s always one 😉

What happens when you’ve gone to the group for a while and the only feedback they can give you is your story is good. This is awesome to hear, but it’s not constructive to improving your writing. Now, maybe your story is that good.

Or maybe, you’ve outgrown the group. They can’t move you beyond your current skill level. This happens and it’s not a bad thing, but if you want to continue improving you need to move on. It’s hard because you’ve developed relationships with these people and some have even become friends, but in order to grow, you must join a new group or find an expert who can tell you where your story is weak.

The question is, how do you tell when you’re ready to move on?

Here are some guidelines. The first one we’ve already discussed, but it bears repeating.

  1. When you get positive feedback, but you feel there’s still something missing in your story.

 

  1. When you leave the group meeting, frustrated because you didn’t receive any valuable feedback and this has been going on for quite some time.

 

  1. Your skill level has grown so much that you’ve become the expert in the group. Remember the old saying, “If you’re the smartest person in the room. You’re in the wrong room.” That applies to writing groups as well.

 

The second one is the biggest indicator. When you’re feeling frustrated, it’s time to move on. Now I know your next question is move on but where to? That’s when I’d make my way to social media and search for some experts. One that I’ve found to be invaluable is Kristen Lamb. The link to her blog is below.

http://authorkristenlamb.com/

Kristen Lamb — Photo

 

Check her out, I’ve found her classes to be helpful as well as her advice.

In a few words, Kristen Lamb delivers.

 

There are other experts who can help you as well. Follow the hashtags #amwriting or #ontheporch on twitter and you’ll meet all kinds of experts who you’ll be able to establish a relationship with and go on from there.

Another expert who comes to mind is Angela Ackerman. Check out her website.

http://writershelpingwriters.net/

 

 

She offers all kinds of advice on the craft of writing and she’s frequently on Twitter chatting with writers. These people will help you hone your craft and if they can’t, they’ll be able to direct you to a person who can.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. Do you have any advice for writers trying to improve their craft? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you!

 

Posted in Writing

You May be Addicted to Writing If…

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you today. I’m back and I’ve been diligently working on my WIP. It’s really shaping up and I’m very excited about how it’s turning out. So stay tuned. Positive things are happening! 😉

 

Today I’d like to make a confession to you. I’ve finally had to admit it to myself. I am obsessed with writing. When I’m not writing, I’m thinking about it, trying to make my story better or I’m researching for my story. It’s that bad.

Since I’ve become aware of my addiction, because let’s face it, it is. I’ve taken steps to manage it, because we never really cure ourselves do we? But I thought I’d list the signs for you, just in case you might be struggling with this addiction, but you’re not quite sure. Maybe living in the land of denial? I lived there for a while. It was great. 🙂

 

  1. You may be addicted to writing if your house looks like a tornado hit it. All. The. Time.

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  1. You may be addicted to writing if your hair hasn’t been styled in months.

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  1. You may be addicted to writing if you barricade yourself in your writing hovel, ignoring your family’s cries for food and clean clothes.

 

  1. You may be addicted to writing if you can write your name in the dust that’s gathered on your living room furniture and shelves.

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  1. You may be addicted to writing if you take your laptop with you on your child’s playdates.

 

  1. You may be addicted to writing if you take your laptop into the bathroom with you because you’re in the middle of a really good scene.

 

  1. You may be addicted to writing if you’re deathly pale in the summer because you’d rather write than spend time in the sun.

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  1. You may be addicted to writing if you give up food, alcohol, and showering because it takes too much time away from your work.

 Close-up of pizza slice on restaurant table

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  1. You may be addicted to writing, if you’d rather do that than go out and get a better paying job.

Woman working on laptop with notebook and mobile phone on table

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  1. You may be addicted to writing if your family doesn’t remember what you look like because your face is always behind a computer screen.

 

These are all signs that you are addicted to your passion. There are steps to remedy the situation, but the first step is admitting you have an addiction. This step is always the hardest. Just ask me, I know. 🙂

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post today. Do you have a writing addiction? How has it affected your life? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Health, Writing

Why Writers Need to Exercise

 

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. I’m back today and I’m kind of stuck on my WIP. I’ve got to rework a beginning and I’ve got two that I’ve somehow got to blend together.  I’m having a little trouble doing that. Sigh. So instead, I’m writing a blog post.  I know it’s avoidance at its finest. Don’t judge me.

Today, I’m writing about the benefits of exercise for writers. Writing is such a sedentary activity and it’s great for our brain, but not so good for us physically.

We all know exercise is good for our body, but did you know it’s also good for your brain?

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 It’s true. In a study done at the University of Columbia, researchers found that regular aerobic exercise appears to boost the size of the hippocampus, the part of the brain involved in verbal memory and learning. To read more on this click the link. http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/regular-exercise-changes-brain-improve-memory-thinking-skills-201404097110

Exercise also helps the brain with memory and thinking. It does this by reducing inflammation, insulin resistance, and by stimulating growth factors. Chemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells.

This is all well and good, but all I really need to know is I feel better when I exercise compared to when I don’t.

My sciatica was bothering me for the last couple of months, so I stopped my exercise routine to let it heal. Let me tell you, I was grumpy and just didn’t feel like myself.

I just started running again and two days into my new routine and I’m feeling great. My mood has improved dramatically, and I’m getting all kinds of ideas for my stories. That’s a good thing! 🙂

The reason we feel better when we exercise is because our body releases chemicals called Endorphins into our system. These Endorphins interact with receptors in our brain that reduce our perception of pain. They also trigger a positive feeling in the body, much like morphine.

Physical activity also stimulates the release of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. These brain chemicals play an important part in regulating your mood. These chemicals also play a role in combating depression. To find out more clink this link healthline.com

This is good for anyone who has to deal with depression, and I know a few authors who have to deal with that.

 

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Taking care of our bodies is really quite simple. I know what you’re thinking. Simple, yes, but hard to do, and time consuming. I know. I hear you. But once you make it a habit, then it’s not so bad. You can build your daily schedule around your exercise routine.

One thing that goes hand in hand with exercise, is eating right. I know you’ve heard this before, but I’m an author. I know how easy it is to get lost in your Work in Process and if you’re like me, you don’t always eat right. I no longer keep a bowl of chocolate by my computer when I’m working. I make myself take breaks and fix healthy meals. Sometimes, it’s hard to do, but it’s better in the long run.

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So, writers, authors, and bloggers take time out to exercise and eat right. Get out of that chair! It’s good for your body and your brain. 🙂

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. How about you? Do you have any exercise routines you’d like to share?

 

Posted in Writing

Writing for Different Publishers: Nell Dixon

Hello everyone! I hope all is well with you. I’ve got Nell Dixon here as a guest and she’s explaining what it’s like to write for different publishers. I’m sure you’ll enjoy her thoughts! Take it away Nell!

Writing for Different Publishers

 

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I didn’t begin my writing career intending to write for lots of different publishers. Back in 2006 when I sold my first book I sold two books in one week. My first was to a small – now sadly defunct – US sweet romance specialist, Moonlit Romance. That was on the Monday, on the Friday I sold another story to a UK print company. I went on to sell several books to Moonlit Romance and then they asked if I could write something short for an anthology for their Inspirational sister company, By Grace. So of course, I did. This took me up to three companies.

I still had rights from my UK print sale, so I sold large print rights to another UK print company and e book rights to Samhain. It helped that the book, Marrying Max, had won a major UK prize. Samhain also bought one of my chick lit titles too. By then I was up to five different companies in two different countries and three different formats. I began to worry, maybe it was better to concentrate just on a couple of companies. I was told it made it easier for readers to find my backlist.

Other authors told me it was good to diversify, to spread my risk in case anyone folded. I’d just sold my first single title to Little Black Dress, part of the Hachette publishing group when Moonlit and By Grace folded, returning my rights to me. It looked as if the diversify group were right. I went on to sell four books to Little Black Dress who in turn sold my books into Turkish, Bulgarian, German, Spanish and Indonesian before that line too closed.

Undeterred, I’ve since sold to Myrmiddon, Freya’s Bower, Clean Reads and E-Scape Press and in audio format to Audiolark. I also had an agent for a while but at this point in my career it isn’t what I need right now. As publishing houses and lines closed and different rights returned I launched my own press house.

Brierley Rose Press publishes some of my stories and some for other authors. It also acts as a promotional company and helps other writers find editors, cover artists etc. I now have twenty-nine books in various formats, I have won two major UK national awards and several US awards. Some of my titles have been Amazon best sellers having hit the top 100. What have I learned from all this?

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Check your contracts carefully – always look to see what rights you are selling – if the company wanting them aren’t going to do anything with them then keep them and sell them yourself. Large print, audio and foreign rights can be lucrative. Check that you can get your rights back if the company folds. Check the standard of editing, book covers and marketing. Make sure you understand cover price, gross and net and third party sales.

Don’t spread yourself too thin. You need time to meet deadlines, promote properly and ensure the quality of your writing. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice from other authors. Always remember that money flows to the author and not the other way round. Be realistic about setting your advertising budgets. Most of all enjoy the ride – you’ll meet some great readers, bloggers, reviewers and fellow writers on the journey.

 

Fliss is running away from her past. Jack isn’t looking for anyone in his future.
This short novella was first published in the anthology 2003 Hardin Way

Click here to buy.

 Nell Dixon is a Black Country author, married to the same man for over thirty years she has three daughters, a tank of tropical fish, a crazy Cockerpoo dog and a cactus called Spike. Winner of the RNA’s prestigious Romance Prize in 2007 and 2010, she writes warm-hearted contemporary romance for a number of publishers in the US and the UK. Her latest titles include Christmas Ever After, A Chance to Heal and An Uncivil War. Her latest release, A Chance to Heal is available from Amazon for just 99c or 99p You can find her on Twitter, Facebook and all over the internet. Stop by and say Hi.