I thought I'd mention it again now, because Smart Writers' publishers, The WCCL Network, have just announced that all members of my forum at myWritersCircle.com will be receiving the newsletter automatically if they have opted to receive email updates in their forum Profile.
If you're an MWC member and have selected this option, you can therefore expect to start receiving Smart Writers from the middle of November. Sorry if I'm spoiling the surprise by telling you now ;-)
If you're an MWC member and want to arrange that you don't get Smart Writers, it's easy to do. Just log in to your myWritersCircle.com account, click on 'Profile' in the header menu, click 'Notifications & Email', and ensure that the 'Receive forum announcements and important notifications by email' box is unchecked. If you're still unsure, WCCL have also produced a video that shows you how to do this step by step - please click here to view it.
If you are an MWC member with email updates enabled and already subscribe to Smart Writers, unfortunately you will receive two copies from mid-November. I understand from WCCL that because two separate subscription mechanisms are involved, it is impossible to prevent this. To avoid duplication, you will therefore need to unsubscribe from one or the other - preferably via your forum Profile settings.
For those who don't know, Smart Writers is a neatly produced email newsletter that comes out once a week (with a weekly product recommendation email as well). Yes, it promotes WCCL's range of writing products (surprise, surprise!), but it also includes interesting articles about writing, inspirational quotations, product recommendations, snippets of news, and much more. I've posted a sample issue here for your interest. I do highly recommend subscribing (and you can, of course, unsubscribe at any time).
And here's an important thing I wanted to mention. If you subscribe to Smart Writers now via WCCL's Writers Giveaway site, not only will you get the newsletter sent to you for as long (or short) as you want, you can also take your pick from thousands of dollars' worth of writing software, e-books, and so on. As I understand it, subscribers via my forum will not qualify for these bonuses.
If you want to receive Smart Writers, then, my advice is to subscribe via the Writers Giveaway site now to get your hands on all the freebies. If you're an MWC member, to avoid duplication you can then opt out of having the newsletter delivered to you via the forum. If you're an MWC member and you don't want to receive Smart Writers at all, just ensure that your Profile preferences are set as described above, and that will be the end of the matter.
Phew! Hope that's all clear now, but please let me know if not!
Today I am pleased to welcome to my blog science-fiction author LM. Preston.
Ms Preston writes books for the Young Adult (YA) market. In this guest post she reveals what the YA market is, and offers a few tips for writers hoping to break into this field...
What is YA Fiction?
YA is the young adult market, which ranges from ages 12 to 18.
If you plan to write for ages 12 to 13, realize that parents may be heavily involved in their child's reading selections, so in most cases if you want to promote your book to this age group, my advice is - keep it a bit clean. You also have to consider the rules of most middle schools, especially if you want to tour in schools.
Ages 14 and upward will usually mix it up a bit between reading YA-focused books and adult books. You can use all of the taboos that you can't for the younger age group with kids of 14 and over.
There are also many sub-genres to consider when writing YA. These include adventure, romance, humor, mystery, historical, contemporary, fantasy, sci-fi, and so on.
Prepare to Write YA
Take time to observe the group you are writing about. When writing for teenagers, realize that they are very picky about sounding old or goofy.
This is easy for me, because I have four kids, and two are within the age group I write for. They are the best resources for information on language, what's interesting, what not to say, how far to push it, and so on. Not to mention, I also observe their interactions with their friends, siblings and adults. It is enlightening, and has given me great material.
Use Kids to Beta Your Work
The best feedback I have ever gotten for my work came from my kids' friends. I allowed many of them to beta for me. I even bribed some with free movie tickets in order to get them to do it.
Getting feedback from this group is invaluable. I gave them a checklist to fill out, and a Facebook page to update with question or comments. I also invited them to give me feedback on my cover. The results were outstanding.
Ask Kids Where They Buy Books or if They Will Help You Market Yours
Several of my teenage betas loved my book so much that they offered to start an email chain about my book. They also posted it on their Facebook and MySpace pages. I was floored, because I didn't even ask for this. They offered it.
Remember, if you are writing for young people, the best judge of how your book will do in the market comes from your market group. Also, when you are looking to acquire an agent or publisher, you can refer to the large number of young betas who have reviewed your work. So grab your nieces, nephews, kids, cousins, or anyone who has kids, and write that YA novel.
By: LM. Preston, YA Science Fiction Author, author of Explorer X - Alpha (coming out February 2010) and The Pack (due out Fall 2010) - www.lmpreston.com and http://lmpreston.blogspot.com/ "Writing stories for and about kids that overcome the impossible..."
Thank you to LM. Preston for an interesting article. Please check out her website and blog if you would like to know more!
Jacqui will be talking about 'Confidence, Productivity and Career Success for Writers'. There will be a chance to ask questions about any aspect of writing, publishing and making a career as a writer.
The event takes place on Tuesday 17th November 2009. The programme is as follows:
Networking and tea/coffee from 5.45 pm
Talk at 6.30 pm
Optional Dinner/drinks at 8 pm
The price is £12, which includes tea/coffee and talk but not dinner/drinks. The event is limited to 25 participants.
For more information, and to book your place, please visit this website. Incidentally, I'm sorry that due to other commitments I won't be able to attend myself, but I hope (and expect) it will be a huge success.
Without further ado, then, let's get down to the interview...
ND: Welcome to my blog, Gary. Could I start by asking how you got started as a writer? Is If I Never your first novel?
GWM: I started writing novels "seriously" when I was about 20. I'd finished sixth form college a couple of years earlier due to ill-health - exacerbated by my disability. I had time to fill and since I loved reading and writing, this seemed the ideal solution. My early attempts, of course, were complete rubbish, but I quickly started to see improvement.
No, If I Never is... well, actually, I've lost count - but it's probably about my 21st novel. It is, however, the first to be published, which sounds terrible, I know, but that's the nature of the business today. I've had years of encouraging comments and close calls and, if I'm truthful, I was probably close to resigning myself to the fact that it might never happen. And, then, quite unexpectedly, I get the email I've been looking forward to for, quite literally, decades!
ND: How would you categorize If I Never? What was the inspiration behind it?
GWM: I always have trouble categorizing my own work. My publisher uses the word "mainstream" - occasionally "light literary" - which feels about right.
I am finding, however, that some are describing it as a thriller. They all acknowledge that there is rather more to it than that, but that also feels about right, too.
As for the inspiration behind it, I'm still not entirely sure! It was one of those novels that came together piece by piece over a period of time. There was no Epiphany, just a steady drip drip of ideas. I wanted to explore a relationship that existed in some way on the fringes of society - two people who were very much meant for each other but who, nonetheless, had to contend with considerable external influences. Much of it came in the writing. It was very much a roll your sleeves up and get on with it kind of novel!
ND: The narrator of If I Never and his girlfriend both have unusual medical conditions, which you are clearly quite knowledgeable about. I wondered if you have had medical training, or if medicine is a particular interest of yours?
GWM: Thanks to the Internet, Nick, it's incredibly easy to appear knowledgeable about just about anything, these days! I actually have no medical training - but whilst medicine and medical conditions aren't really particular interests, I do quite often find myself reading about them. I'm a bit of an intellectual magpie, I suppose. I flit from one subject - particle physics, biology, Renaissance art - to another - who's going to win win Strictly Come Dancing or X Factor - collecting anything shiny! And every now and then, it finds a place in my writing!
ND: If I Never covers some controversial topics and includes some quite disturbing scenes. Were you at all concerned that some people might be put off reading the novel because of this?
GWM: Whilst writing it, no. I try my best never to consider such things when working on a novel. It can be incredibly inhibiting. Plus, given my track record, I wasn't really expecting it to find a publisher! Once the book was out there, though, I must admit, I did start to worry a little. In places it is quite uncompromising - and to be fair to myself, I think it had to be - and it was pretty clear that some people would take exception to certain parts of it. And one or two have.
The overwhelming reaction, however, has been very encouraging. Most people seem to grasp that this kind of novel can't tiptoe around certain issues. It would lose credibility if it did and, I think, do a disservice to those who find themselves in similar situations in the real world.
ND: You have been promoting If I Never quite actively on Twitter and so on. Do you enjoy this, or do you regard it as a necessary evil?
GWM: Oh, I love it! The whole promotional aspect is proving really enjoyable - primarily because it allows me to meet new people and interact with my readers. As I'm sure you know, writing can be a pretty lonely job, at times, and talking to people about my work really helps to provide balance... on occasion, it even helps me to understand my writing even more.
ND: People are always fascinated by how writers work. Are there any particular times of the day you like to write best? Do you have any unusual working habits or routines?
GWM: I always like to write first thing on a morning. I try not to do anything else prior to starting on my 1000 words. Looking at news websites etc can be pretty fatal, so I avoid at all costs. It usually takes me about an hour to get 1000 words down (I use voice recognition software, so work quite quickly.) Once I've done this, I read through what I've written, making the odd correction here and there (no major edits at this stage!) and then get on with related work - answering emails, taking care of promotional stuff, annoying people on Twitter, that kind of thing!
ND: Are there any other writers whose work has particularly inspired you? I thought I detected a slight Irvine Welsh influence, for example!
GWM: There are many writers who have inspired me, I guess. Irvine Welsh... not really (sorry!). I do admire his work (though I haven't read him for a few years) but I never really read him and thought to myself "That's what I want to do". The writers who most did that to me would have to be guys like John Irving, Joseph Heller, Ken Kesey, William Boyd... the list is pretty endless.
ND: One question I like to ask every writer I interview on this blog – what are your three favorite websites, and why?
GWM: That would depend on my mood and what I was looking for but, well, right now I have a few windows open and let's see what we've got... The Official Richard Dawkins Website. This is one I return to again and again. Leaving aside the whole God issue, Dawkins has such a clear, and often quite beautiful, way of communicating the intricacies of his science and his passion for it that I never tire of it. Next we have the Legend Press website. During the week, I visit this two or three times a day to keep up with what my fellow Legend Press authors are up to. And finally... Goodreads.com - my author page there. Love this website. Apart from the promotional opportunities - I recently did a book giveaway on there and it went really well - it's simply a great place for people who enjoy books. Definitely recommend it.
ND: And what is the one most important piece of advice you would like to pass on to other aspiring novelists?
GWM: Really, I think it's simply a case of reading as much as you can, writing as much as you can and keeping at it. This is a pretty tough business to get into, but the more work you submit the more the odds stack in your favour. Don't expect it to happen overnight, though. It can be a long haul and if you don't love writing for the sake of it I'd seriously consider trying something else.
ND: Finally, other than promoting If I Never, are you working on any other projects at the moment?
GWM: At the moment, I'm working on what should hopefully be my third Legend Press novel, As Morning Shows the Day. I'm also editing my next novel, Children of the Resolution (which should hit the shelves later next year), and I'm in the early stages of outlining a novel called Out Of Season - which probably won't won't be published until 2012. So, yes, I'm keeping busy!
And loving every minute of it!
Thank you very much to Gary for agreeing to be interviewed on my blog and for providing such detailed and interesting answers to my questions.
If you would like to order If I Never, or read the generally excellent reviews, it's available via Amazon (see image link below) and all good bookstores.
And finally, if you have any comments or questions for Gary, please feel free to leave them as Comments below and I'm sure Gary will be along very soon to answer them!
I thought today I'd share with you a message that was posted recently as a comment on an older post. It's from a writer named Lindsay Delaney, otherwise known as Linda Eschler. She writes:
I took your Write Any Book in Under 28 Days course in 2005 and now have 6 books published and 3 more in the works. I do book signings at Barnes & Noble, as well as fundraisers and local events along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and two of my books have been on the local best-seller list. I truly believe this is the only course anyone needs to jump start their writing career.
Many congratulations to Lindsay on all her successes. I'm always delighted to receive messages like this - and I've had hundreds now - as they show that my course really is helping aspiring authors to fulfill their book-writing ambitions.
If you want to write a book, I firmly believe that Write Any Book in Under 28 Days is (still) one of the best guides out there. It won't write your book for you - you will still have to sit down and apply the advice, as Lindsey has done. But if you're prepared to make that commitment, Write Any Book in Under 28 Days (recently revised and updated) really will show you how to write your first full-length book in the shortest possible time.
At one time I wrote quite a bit of poetry, and even belonged to a small group of writers and musicians who toured round pubs and arts centres, performing our work to anyone who was prepared to listen. You'll no doubt be glad to hear that I resisted the urge to post one of my poems from those days here...
Although I don't write poetry nowadays - having come to terms with the fact that I'll never be the next Poet Laureate - I still love a good poem. Even the prose writers whose work I most enjoy write poetically, using (in moderation) devices such as rhythm, metaphor and assonance to give their writing additional depth and impact. I do believe anyone who wants to write should read poetry regularly, and probably try their hand at writing it as well.
So I thought I would take this opportunity to mention that my forum at www.mywriterscircle.com has a board devoted to poetry writing. You can post up to three of your poems there per day, and get constructive feedback on them from other members. And, of course, you can (and should) read other members' poems and give your comments on them. Many people find that reading and criticising other people's poetry has benefits for their own work as well.
For those who don't know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month.
It is a challenge to write a novel of at least 50,000 words in a month, and it comes around every November.
From humble beginnings in 1999, when there were just 21 participants, NaNoWriMo has grown into a world-wide phenomenon. Last year over 100,000 people took part, and the numbers this year are expected to be even greater.
There is no entry fee for NaNoWriMo (though donations are welcome), and no prizes either. Essentially, it is a challenge to help you write that novel you had always meant to write but keep putting off. By registering with NaNoWriMo, you are joining a world-wide community of writers who are all seeking to achieve the same end, and are thus able to encourage and support one another.
Although there are no prizes for completing a book for NaNoWriMo, if you do (and you have to prove it by uploading your work to the NaNoWriMo site), you will be able to download an official 'Winner' web badge and a PDF Winner's Certificate, which you can print out. And, much more importantly, you will have the first draft at least of a novel you should be able to polish and submit for possible publication.
What you may not know, however, is that WCCL also run one of the best affiliate programs on the Internet, every day paying out thousands of dollars in commission to people who help generate sales of their products.
If you have a blog or website yourself (or you're active on forums), you could be getting a share of this. The video below from WCCL supremo Karl Moore explains more...
If you are receiving this post by email or RSS, you will need to visit my blog to see the video.
And finally, as Karl says, you have an extra incentive to join in October, as this month WCCL are running an exciting special promotion where their top-selling affiliates will get an extra bonus of up to 15 percent of their (already generous) commissions.
Good luck, and I hope you sell lots of copies of my writing courses!
UPDATE: I've just heard that WCCL are repeating their popular affiliates bonus promotion in November. So this is still a great time to sign up!