Writing from a guy’s POV as a female author

writing-blog-post

I recently guest posted at Lil Book Lovers where I talked about How to Write From a Male Point of View as a Female Author. Go here to read the full post.

To be the first to know about new posts, sign up for my email list.

Advertisements

Five days left to vote for One Love!

My novel, One Love is being considered for a publishing deal with Amazon’s Kindle Scout program. If chosen, Amazon will publish the digital version of One Love. The way it works is Amazon’s editors consider the concept, story, etc. and also how many nominations the book gets.

Please go here to vote and nominate One Love! There’s only 5 days left in the campaign. You can read an extended preview and if you vote and the book is selected for publication, you will receive a free digital copy of the book. You will need your Amazon login to vote.

One-Love-Book-Cover

Where are all the Filipinos in books?

Filipino blog post2

I got the idea for this post from my new book blogger acquaintance, Kester. Kester is part of a team who runs Lil Book Lovers. Go check it out.

Anyhow, Kester is Filipino like me and mentioned he doesn’t come across many books that feature Filipinos. I don’t either.

One of the reasons I made Ronnie, Thompson’s best friend in my YA novel One Night, Filipino was because of the utter lack of Filipino representation in fiction. According to census reports Filipinos are the second largest Asian group in the United States. There are over 100 million Filipinos in the Philippines and an estimated 10 million throughout the rest of the world. To which I say, why aren’t there more Filipino characters in books?

Looking at Goodreads’ list of Filipino writers there are twenty-one books listed. There are twelve listings for YA novels set in the Philippines. That’s one reason I set my project, The Other Side of the World, there. A Guardian article from 2015 features Filipino author Candy Gourlay. Her books are great by the way, check them out. The headline of the article is: Growing up I thought Filipinos weren’t allowed to be in books. I would argue that a fair amount of kids today share that sentiment. For the amount of Filipinos in the world they don’t pop up in literature that often.

What’s the solution? Publishers need to give more Filipino authors a chance and readers need to spread the word about books with Filipino characters by leaving reviews online and telling their friends.

What about you? Any suggestions for getting more Filipino characters into books? What books have you read that feature Filipino characters? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

To be the first to know about new posts, sign up for my email list.

 

Four Reasons I’ve Stopped Using Facebook and Why Other Authors Should Consider It

Facebook blog post

I’ve been experimenting with Facebook for over a year since my debut YA novel, One Night, was released. I’ve always known that being on Facebook wouldn’t necessarily help me sell books, but I thought that at minimum I could connect with potential readers who might maybe buy my second or third book (or at minimum “like” my posts). I’ve discovered, though, that Facebook is basically a waste of my time as an author. I haven’t posted anything on Facebook for more than two months which is an eon in social media time.

Four reasons I’ve stopped using Facebook:

  1. No one sees my posts. My following is pretty small, but when I look at the actual reach of posts the number of users who see them is minimal, like 25 people (and usually those are my immediate or extended family members). I know you can extend your reach if you boost posts, but I don’t want to spend money on Facebook when I could use those dollars more effectively elsewhere.
  2. I don’t like the medium. There I said it. One of my author friends, Marilyn Brant, is awesome at using Facebook. She shares recipes, videos, and other tidbits from her life with the occasional mention of writing activities and it just works. A lot of her followers engage with her. She comes across as genuinely liking the tool. I have tried to be as charming as she is in her posts but I always feel like I’m reaching a bit.
  3. I prefer other social media channels more. I love Instagram. It’s easy to use and I get so much more engagement on my posts there. Plus, it’s fun. I’m also a fan of Twitter, where I’ve been able to connect with other authors and a few readers and drive traffic to my web site.
  4. It is a time-waster. When I do login to Facebook I find myself endlessly scrolling the feed, looking for what I’m not sure. Overall it has been a time suck or a distraction so I’ve deleted the app from my phone. I am happier now that I’ve done so.

What about you, are you still on Facebook? Talk about your experience in the comments.

To be the first to know about new posts, sign up for my email list.

What I’m Reading, Writing, and Watching this Month

the-update-1

Hey all! Haven’t done a monthly update in a while, but watched a movie last night that made me want to do one.

What I’m reading:

  • Count of Monte Cristo, unabridged. Still. I am shooting for the end of the year on this one. If I finish reading it in 2017 I will consider that an accomplishment.
  • It Started With Goodbye by Christina June. A very cute YA novel about stepmothers and stepsisters. Some reviews call it a modern retelling of Cinderella. I do love the “fairy godmother” character of Blanche in the book.

What I’m watching:

  • The Prestige. My god. This movie is classified as science fiction horror or something awful, but it definitely held my attention. Two dueling magicians in the late 1800s, played by Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman, keep trying to one up each other and steal each other’s tricks. About once a year I see a movie that leaves me thinking, what the hell did we just watch? (In a good way). This movie came out in 2006, but is definitely my wow movie of 2017. It’s also a book that I now want to read.
  • America’s Got Talent. Or as we call it in my house, my weekly sob fest. I love watching creative peoples’ dreams come true. I’ve always thought it to be a shame that there isn’t a reality competition for writers, but know that it would be terminally boring to watch people in pj’s typing away at keyboards.

What I’m writing:

  • One Love, the sequel to One Night, is with an editor. I am excited about this one. It still involves Thompson and his romantic issues, but it’s different than the first book.  More details coming soon.
  • Still tinkering with the YA novel set in Serbia. I’ve heard that if you’re at the tinkering stage it’s time to let it go. We’ll see.

If you’d like to get all my updates, sign up for my email list.

Four questions to ask yourself before scheduling an author event

During the last ten months of promoting my YA novel One Night I’ve learned that not all in-person events are worth my time. As an author it’s tempting to take advantage of every opportunity that’s presented to you, but events are not always worthwhile. Even for bestsellers. Late last year, I went to a book signing that featured two New York Times bestselling authors – one of whom has a movie adaptation of their book coming out — and there were nine people there. Nine. One of whom was my husband who had to be dragged by me. Not all of the people in attendance bought their books either. It was brutal! I’ve encountered similar situations at events I’ve done. Having done several events the four questions I ask myself now before committing are:

What is the expected foot traffic to the venue? My email list isn’t that large, not all my readers are local, and people are busy. What is the usual number of people (casual drop ins) that come to the event? Get an estimate from the event organizer before agreeing to anything.

Are attendees going to be in spending mode? I’ve noticed that at library events patrons are not as willing to cough up money for a book. The library is a wonderful place, but people are not in spending mode when they go there. They are normally there for the free access to books, movies, etc.

Will I be paid? If I’m compensated fairly for my time I usually don’t care about the above two questions.

Is there going to be a lot of upfront effort on my end? For example, will the venue provide a table, chairs, etc. or am I expected to bring that along? Will the event organizers help promote the event, or not?

img_20160924_165544

Are author events a great way of getting the word out about your books? Of course. But not all are created equal.

To get more posts like these, sign up for my email list.

How to Balance Writing With a Day Job

One of the questions I get asked most often is: how do you find the time to write? People seem to equate finishing a novel while working a demanding full-time job with pulling off a miracle, but I’m here to tell you there’s nothing miraculous about it! I make time to write because it is important to me. I juggle balancing writing with my day job, spending time with my family, cleaning, working out, and taking care of my puppy. Among other obligations. If you’re having trouble fitting writing into your life I suggest checking out Jessica Abel’s book Growing Gills. It will help you prioritize tasks and organize yourself so you can carve out time to work on creative projects.

My writing week in a nutshell (also seen in the infographic below):

  • 1.5 hours spent on word output/active writing during my train ride to work
  • 1 hour (sometimes 2-3, depending) spent editing another project on Saturday or Sunday morning
  • 1.5 hours on marketing – throughout the week, when I can or on the weekend
  • 35 minutes on social media – 5 minutes per day or one 30-minute session on the weekend

I have worked at this pace for several years. At this rate I am able to finish 1.5 books per year. Would I love to write more? Yes. But I think I’m doing alright if I do say so myself 🙂

Writing life info graphic

To be the first to read new posts, sign up for my email list.

How to Prepare for a TED-style Author Talk in Less Than 10 days

Deanna_speakingGCHS

When an event organizer contacted me to fill in for a last-minute cancellation who was supposed to give a TED-style author talk as part of a weeklong writing festival at a local high school I panicked. There was no way I could pull off a talk like that in less than 10 days. That was the sort of thing that took months to prepare for, possibly a year. I was worried because this would be the largest crowd I’d ever addressed. There would be at least 200 people in attendance but there could be up to 500. Plus I had to be onstage for 35-40 minutes. Since the crowd would be made up of high school students the odds were good that I’d connect with some of my target audience there: teens who love John Green novels. Even though the thought of this speaking opportunity scared me, I knew in my heart that I had to do it. What I did to pull it off and how you can, too:

Watch other TED talks for inspiration. Understand your talk probably won’t leave people with as big of a “wow” feeling due to the time crunch you’re under, however, make a note of which talks capture your attention and why. Try to bring some of that X factor to your own presentation. The talks I gravitated toward included some very personal stories so I knew I had to include some in my own talk.

Make a quick list of all the possible story lines you can tell about yourself as a writer. Keep each story to one sentence/phrase. My ideas were:

-I am old enough to have paper and email rejections

-I started writing women’s fiction but was supposed to be writing YA

-I’ve met a few bestsellers—some randomly, some on purpose

-I quit writing at least 10 times

-I struggle to call myself a writer and share my work

-I know the journey is unpredictable but worth it in the end

I decided to go with a combination of the last two ideas because they were the most upbeat and inspirational. It also had a natural narrative arc.

Once you decide on your idea, figure out how to make it visual. Audiences remember speeches better if there are visuals involved. Studies have shown that people process images 60,000x faster than text. Since this was a personal journey story I decided to include a lot of photos: myself at five years-old since that’s when I started writing; my senior yearbook photo to represent the time I started writing my first novel; images of my college newspaper where I worked as an editor. During my speech I also talked about sources of inspiration and showed pictures of my dog, Cuba. I could see smiles form on attendees’ faces as that slide went up. Images are great in terms of jogging your own memory, too, and reminding you what you need to be speaking about at a given moment.

Do not write a script for your speech. Jot down notes and phrases but don’t try to plan for everything that will be said. The best talks allow for some ad-libbing. Plus if you write a script for yourself you will stumble if you don’t remember to say something exactly as you wrote it. I took an executive speaking course last year for work and saw this happen time and again. Someone tried to remember a script they had written instead of having a more natural conversation with the audience.

Don’t make it a sales pitch. Talks like these should be managed like your social media accounts. Be helpful. Be yourself. Be genuine. Tell the audience what makes your personal story unique. Tell them what obstacles you encountered. If there are logical places to mention your book by all means try to work it in. I mentioned my novel, One Night, when I got to the sources of inspiration section of my talk (One Night is set in Hawaii and I shared some of my favorite Hawaii vacation photos). But don’t make it a blatant “buy my book” pitch.

Practice as much as time allows. Ideally you should run through your talk at least three times if possible. Time yourself to make sure it fits within the time frame you’re given. If you mess up during practice, just keep going. Pretend it’s the actual day of the talk where you won’t be able to have a redo. If possible practice in front of someone, or at the very least, your dog.

Wear something that makes you feel like a million bucks. Whether that is a red dress, a suit, or a leather jacket. Wear something that instills confidence and makes you feel like you’ve earned the right to be up on stage. If you hear a Beyoncé song in your head when you put on an outfit that’s the outfit you should wear.

I was a nervous wreck before my big talk, going so far as to Google “author visits gone wrong,” but in the end it went well. I had a lot of fun doing it. The audience was engaged and students asked thoughtful questions. Afterward, a few students came up to me to commend me on my performance. One girl said, “You know, we’ve had a lot of boring speakers come and talk to us, but you were actually interesting.” Her compliment made my day.

Author’s Note: this post originally appeared as a guest post at Writer Unboxed. To be the first to get new posts, sign up for my email list.

What I’m Into This Month

the-update-1

It’s that time again to talk about what I’m reading, writing, and watching this month.

What I’m reading:

  • The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. Unabridged, people! This is not my usual read, but my husband ADORES this book and can’t wait until I finish reading it. It is interesting and in general I’m familiar with the story, having seen an adaptation starring one of my favorite actors Jim Caviezel. But it’s much longer than an average book. I just hope I finish by the end of the year.

What I’m watching:

  • The Wolfpack, a documentary about a group of brothers who grew up sheltered in an apartment in New York who have a passion for movies. Completely fascinating and available on Netflix right now.
  • Newtown, another documentary (apparently they are my thing this month) about the town of Newtown, CT and how they’ve dealt with the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting. I make it a point to not get political on my web site, but this is really an eye-opener about how we need some reform to gun control laws. You will need tissues for this one.

What I’m writing:

  • A companion to One Night that follows Ronnie and Thompson into college. Tentatively titled The Only Thing. Thompson finds himself in another romantic predicament. More details coming soon.
  • I’m also editing my YA novel that’s set in Serbia. Why set a novel in Serbia you ask? My husband in Serbian and Serbia is a beautiful country that often gets a bad rap in the media.

If you want to be the first to know about new book news and read a preview of One Night, sign up for my email list.

P.S. I am giving away a signed copy of One Night over at my friend Melissa’s blog, So About What I Said. Be sure to enter and check out her great web site!