Thursday, May 23, 2013

Fear and Writing

Writers have a lot of fears:

No one will read it. Everyone will read it.

It won’t get published. It will get published.

My mother will read it. My mother won’t talk to me.

But maybe the biggest fear is this: hey world, my soul is showing.

The best writers get over this fear. Because if they didn’t they wouldn’t be the best writers.

Writer Abroad has put off her memoir for awhile. Mainly because she wanted to make sure she had perspective on it, but also because she was scared.

It’s scary to reveal parts of yourself to others, but at this point, Writer Abroad figures if you are scared, that means your work is something others will relate to. Because writing is about connecting with people. And something that scares you has probably scared them too.

So after she’s published the essay book (less scary because many of the essays have already appeared in print), she’s ready to take on the memoir again.

Here are a few more thoughts from Copyblogger on Why we need to write, even when we’re scared.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Top 10 Things I Learned at the Zurich Writers Workshop

As the co-founder of the Zurich Writers Workshop, Writer Abroad also has the benefit of learning from these events. At the spring workshop, From First Draft to Bestseller with Lee Weatherly, here are ten things Writer Abroad learned about writing fiction:

One: Draw out dramatic moments/moments of tension. If a car crash happens in one sentence, you have a problem.

Two: Get inside the character’s head and stay there. Would they be thinking what you’re describing? If not, get rid of it.

Three: A novel synopsis consists of the main plot points only. It should mainly focus on the action story arc but should also touch on the emotional story arc. (For more on how to plot a novel, see here.)

Four: Every scene should center around tension and the scene should start as close to the tension point as possible.

Five: To discover your character’s backstory, come up with contradictions in your character. If they are stubborn, maybe they are also compassionate. And why? Perhaps because when they were young they were bullied so they won’t be able to tolerate others being treated that way.

Six: Holding back information is just as important as telling it. Even if characters know things, they don’t necessarily say them. Resist the urge to explain everything on page 2. Hold back as much as possible until later. It keeps readers hooked.

Seven: When revising, look for emotional words, like happy or sad. Then take them out and figure out how to get across that the character is happy or sad without saying those words.

Eight: Always stay in the moment.

Nine: Let the reader make their own connections/interpretations about what’s going on. For example, you shouldn’t have to say something like “she is in danger.” The reader should get that.

Ten: Use specific nouns. For example, instead of saying “expensive car” say “Ferrari.”

For those who want more information on these topics, check out Lee Weatherly’s book (co-written with Helen Corner) called, Write a Blockbuster and Get it Published.

To hear more about events with the Zurich Writers Workshop, join our mailing list.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Build a book promotion plan you can be proud of

Writer Abroad recently got an e-mail from a writer who self-published a novel set in Switzerland. How should he promote it?

Since Writer Abroad is in the process of determining this for her own essay book about Switzerland, here are five things to consider:

Appear at an expo in the country your book is set in: For instance, in Switzerland, Writer Abroad would probably consider renting a table at an Expat Expo, since she believes expats in Switzerland will make up a big part of her readership.

Tap into a blog network. In Writer Abroad’s case, it makes sense to ask fellow expat bloggers to review the book or allow her to write a guest post for their blog. This strategy is best if you already have a relationship with certain bloggers versus contacting them cold once you have something to sell.

Get reviews on amazon and Goodreads. The more (and better) the reviews, the better chances your book will show up in the search results and therefore be considered for purchase. For more info on this, check out book marketing master Joanna Penn’s blog.

Connect with publications. Write an article or press release about your book (or offer up an excerpt) and send it to editors you already have a relationship with. For instance, Writer Abroad has written for almost all of the English-language magazines and radio stations in Switzerland. She plans to contact them when her book is ready.

Teach a workshop. Two years ago, Writer Abroad taught a workshop at the American Women’s Club called “Make a living as a writer abroad.” She would consider doing something like this again, or perhaps teaching a course through her own Zurich Writers Workshop. A more subtle approach, maybe, but one that will still get your name out there as an author.

Anyone have book promotion ideas that have worked for them?

Friday, May 3, 2013

International Writing Round-up

Expats Blog is hosting a writing contest this month. Every two weeks there is a new topic. Entries must be previously unpublished. Topics include Education & International Schools, Working Abroad, and more. The winner of each topic receives a $200 Amazon gift voucher.

The Association for the Study of Literature and Environment is seeking poetry and creative nonfiction, written by women and inspired by the natural world. 

Canadians or expats living in Canada are invited to submit stories for a new Chicken Soup for the Soul book called, Oh Canada, The Wonders of Winter. Deadline is June 15. Chosen stories receive $200. 

The New York Times had an interesting article on why even Pulitzer-Prize winning authors are choosing to self-publish.

The Glimpse Graduate Program at MatadorU is looking for talented writers, photographers, and filmakers who are living abroad. The application deadline is July 31st. There is a processing fee of $25.


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