#AuthorToolboxBlogHop: Your personalized definition of success

Nano Blog and Social Media Hop2 Hi folks! Today I’m once again participating in the #AuthorToolboxBlogHop, a blog hop for writers who want to learn from each other and build a community. In the past few months I’ve focused mostly on the community-building aspect of the writing life, discussing things like Twitter chats and beta readers. Last month I switched gears to focus on the internal side of writing with an article about evening pages. Today I’m going to focus in on one of the most important aspects of a writer’s mental health: our personal definitions of success.

Calling all writers! I need YOUR help building the ultimate #amwriting resource guide

Ultimate Resource Guide Scifi and Fantasy WritersSeptember is here, which means that thousands of savvy novelists are beginning to plan their Nanowrimo 2017 novels. I want to make things easier for them – and I need YOUR help to do it!

The Ultimate Resource List for Fantasy & Science Fiction Writers

Way back in 2014 (doesn’t that feel like a lifetime ago now?) I compiled three massive resource lists for writers:

I then compiled all three lists into a massive PDF and made it a freebie for my newsletter subscribers.

This blog has shifted to focus more on the mental aspects of writing, but craft is still incredibly important–and knowing where to start can take a massive weight off your mind. So I’m bringing the Ultimate Resource List for Fantasy & Science Fiction Writers back! And this time it’s going to be even better. I’ll be adding a Community Building Resource List with 20+ resources.

Oh, and I’ll be releasing all five lists in a bundled ebook on October 5th. Three weeks isn’t the ideal amount of time for planning a novel, but it’s better than one–and I want to spend the extra time making sure this is the best list of writing resources ever compiled.

The book will be available to anyone who subscribes to the BLOG UPDATES section of my newsletter. I may also make it available to non-subscribers for a brief period of time.

What you can do to help

Submit your favourite writing resources to me!

My original Ultimate Writing Resource List was published in October 2014. This means two things: some of the links are dead, and millions of new writing resources have been published. I want YOU to help me find the best current resources so I can update and expand my list.

What am I looking for? Any article, video, or course that focuses on worldbuilding, character development, or plotting. All resources must be freely available to the public. I don’t want to sign up for anything, and I’m sure most of you don’t either.

Other than that, anything is fair game! You are welcome to submit your own blog posts/other writing content. I will personally vet all submissions, but I’m willing to give even the most obscure writing exercises a chance.

Sound good to you? Send the name, link, and one sentence descriptions for all your favourite writing resources to diannalgunn@gmail . com. All information should be in the body of the email.

Submissions must be sent by September 25th to be considered for inclusion.

Self care doesn’t have to cost money

Free Self Care (1)The first section of my self care email course (which you can get FREE by signing up for my newsletter) tackles a variety of myths about self care, but there’s one major myth it doesn’t really get into: the idea that self care costs money. Today I’d like to help you challenge this myth.

How the media encourages us to associate self care with spending

In the past few years–and especially since the 2016 American election–mental health has been brought into the light. The stigma is still pervasive throughout society, but we’ve started having the conversations. And many of these conversations revolve around the concept of self care. I would even go so far as to say that self care has become the most popular conversation related to mental health.

It’s my birthday tomorrow!

Birthday Q and A ad 2017

Hi folks! I don’t have much to say today because I’ve been WAY too busy working on Big Exciting Things for fall – and for tomorrow! Because tomorrow’s my 24th birthday, and I just HAD to do something special with you folks! I’ll be hosting a live video Q&A on my Facebook page tomorrow night at 6PM, and ONE LUCKY PERSON WILL WIN A SIGNED PAPERBACK COPY OF KEEPER OF THE DAWN.

Can’t make it but have questions? Post your question as a comment here or as a response to my Twitter thread and I will do my best to answer it in the video! I’ll then be posting the video on my YouTube Channel, so you’ll be able to watch it whenever you have a chance.

I hope you make it!!

Why you should blog about anything BUT writing

Quill pen with old papers a on wooden surface

Note: This is an updated version of an old  article, part of an effort to improve the educational quality of this website. You can read the original version here.

Starting a blog is a great way to build an author platform and a great way to show potential publishers and clients how serious you are about writing, but your blog shouldn’t be about writing. I’d even go so far as to say your blog should focus on anything BUT writing.

As serious writers dedicated to building a career from our craft, we spent a lot of time thinking about writing. I follow half a dozen blogs about writing and I’ve read some great books on the subject. I’ve participated in Nanowrimo and other writing challenges numerous times. Writing is at the center of my life, so it seemed natural to blog about writing.

You probably feel the same way. If you sit and think about it for even five minutes you can probably come up with a dozen ideas for writing-related articles. You’ll probably even get excited about a few of them. But blogging about writing is often the worst way to build an author platform.

Here’s why you should blog about anything BUT writing:

1. There are already thousands of writing blogs

Every writer who’s serious about building a career from their craft has at some point considered creating a blog about writing. An online presence becomes more important for writers every year, and we all know a blog is a great way to build one.

Still, an online presence has been essential to a writer’s success for a long time. And writers have been blogging about writing since blogging was invented. Some of my favourite writing blogs have been around for ten years or even longer. Many of the most successful bloggers, the ones we’ve all heard of, started back when the internet wasn’t so crowded. The age of their websites gives them extra credibility with Google, and frankly, many of these sites offer fantastic advice.

There are also thousands of writers in different career stages, from the writer who just started their first novel to the writer who’s published a dozen, who blog about writing with varying levels of success. Each one might be able to offer a somewhat unique perspective, but in the end there’s only so much information to be shared about writing.

All of these factors combine to make writing an extremely competitive blogging niche. Deciding to blog about writing is setting yourself up for a struggle. These days there are millions of voices clamoring for attention in almost any niche, but in most other niches your writing skills will actually set you apart. If you’re blogging about writing, most of your competition are also good or even great writers.  You’ll have to work much harder to stand out from the crowd if you start a blog about writing than you would in an industry filled with mediocre writers.

2. Writing about writing means you’ll only attract writers

My blog has always been focused on writing and helping other writers, and in some ways this has served me well. I’ve mentioned before how the writers I’ve interacted with here on the blog have often become my biggest cheerleaders. They’ve hosted me on their blogs, bought copies of my books, and shouted my accomplishments from their virtual rooftops. I am grateful for all of these connections and the support I’ve gained from them.

But your primary audience probably isn’t writers, and not all writers are going to be interested in your books. Moreover, the majority of readers have some interest in your writing process, but they will eventually grow bored of hearing about it. And the last thing you want is bored readers.

Today’s readers want to know who you are outside of writing. They want to know about your favourite shows, movies, and books. They want to know about your hobbies. They want to see you as a whole person, not just a writer. You can post the occasional insight into your writing process, but most readers don’t want to know more than when the next book will come out. If you can give them insight into another area of your life–and maybe even help them with similar things in their own lives–you’ll get a lot more traction from actual readers.

So why do I blog about writing?

As I mentioned above, I started blogging about writing because it seemed like the most logical choice. I also started blogging young, and I jumped right into it without any strategy whatsoever because I’d read somewhere that it was a good thing to do. Along the way I made many mistakes, and starting out with a blog entirely about writing was one of those mistakes. It did a good job of netting me freelance clients, but my readership numbers remained small and my audience consisted entirely of other writers.

Over the years I’ve considered changing my blog’s topic many times. I even changed my blog’s name from “Dianna’s Writing Den” to “The Dabbler” because I hoped to focus on a wider variety of creative endeavors. Unfortunately nothing ever stuck (turns out I’m REALLY boring when I’m not writing). The only other topic I’m passionate enough to blog consistently about is reading, and I have mixed feelings about authors doubling as reviewers.

Eventually I reached a point where I had to make a decision about my blogging: either I would quit and focus entirely on my fiction writing, or I would find a way to turn this blog into a business of its own. I also knew that I really needed to update my subscriber freebie, so I asked my social media followers what they’d like.

The clear winner was a pamphlet called “Self Care for Creative People“. I started outlining this pamphlet and quickly realized the subject was big enough for an entire book–and voila, I had the beginnings of a business! One perfectly suited to the audience I’ve already built here. It will be at least next year before the book is published and I start offering courses on self care, but I have a firm direction, and a reason to pour even more time and effort into this blog than before.

In other words, I kind of did this whole blogging thing backwards, and now I’m working on books for writers to go with my blog. I don’t recommend that anyone take the weird roundabout route to a business that I appear to be taking. It involves years of hard work you don’t get paid for with rather slim chances at even recovering your investment. And if you don’t want to teach writing or write books for writers, the audience you need to be focusing on is readers.

So please, blog about ANYTHING but writing.

Want to stay updated on my progress with Self Care for Creative People? Sign up for my newsletter below and you’ll get FREE access to a 3-part email course on self care, along with regular blog and publishing updates.

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Actually taking a damn break

Yoga1

I’ve been talking for years about how important it is to take time for self care, but I’ve also been terrible at following my own advice. Today is a civil holiday here in Canada, so while everyone else is taking a three day weekend, I decided to take a proper two day weekend instead of my usual one day off.

I’ll be playing video games with the hubby – what do YOU do to relax? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section below!

Author Spotlight: Giselle Marks of Princess of Zenina

princess real coverToday I’d like to introduce you to Giselle Marks, author of fantasy Princess of Zenina. She’s been kind enough to come over and share her inspiration, the challenges and tribulations of self publishing, and more!

Without further ado, let’s get started:

The Blurb

Princess Marina, who is on a hunting expedition to the Royal reserve, Planet Qu, rescues a group marooned by pirates. They are protected only by a one-armed, disgraced, former Markaban officer, Major Heneran Bromarsh. The Zeninan race has many abilities most humans do not have, including healing powers.

Marina carries the refugees home to Hemithea, capital city of Zenina, ruling planet of the Zeninan Empire. Zenina is ruled by Marina’s mother, Queen Kerina. Here men are sex slaves and the rapacious women are stronger. It is a dangerous place for unprotected men.

Bromarsh strives to discover why he was framed for causing a massacre of civilians and seeks revenge. But the plot is not easily unravelled, and during his journey of discovery he falls under Zenina’s spell. Bromarsh is befriended by the gorgeous Charles, Marina’s slave. Charles, though deeply in love with his mistress, is a leader of the movement for the liberation of Zenina’s slaves. Princess sets the scene for Marina to fulfil her destiny, but there are many difficulties in her way

Leibster Award/Tag Round One

LiebsterThe past couple of weeks have been pretty exciting in my internet world, featuring two nominations for the Liebster Award. The Liebster Award is a blogging award where blog writers can nominate other blogs they believe should get some extra recognition. The writer then has the opportunity to add some background information about themselves by answering the questions their nominator listed and also pay it forward by nominating their own choices. Every writer makes up their own questions, so each nomination is an opportunity to share more about yourself — which means you’ll be seeing two of these posts this month!

This nomination is from Drew McVittie over at The Scribblings, so I’ll be using the rules listed on his blog.

Author Spotlight: Sharon Ledwith

CoverLostandFoundsmall Today I’m thrilled to introduce a dear friend of mine, author Sharon Ledwith. I’ve known her since back in the Musa Publishing days (2011-2014) and I’ve been thrilled to see her go on to do bigger, better things with her books. Today she’s here to celebrate the recent release of her latest novel, Lost and Found: Welcome to Fairy Falls.

The Blurb

Imagine a teenager possessing a psychic ability and struggling to cope with this freakish power, all the while trying to lead a normal life. Now, imagine being uprooted and forced to live in a small tourist town where nothing much ever happens. It’s bores-ville from the get-go. Welcome to Fairy Falls. Expect the unexpected…

The Fairy Falls Animal Shelter is in trouble. Money trouble. It’s up to an old calico cat named Whiskey—a shelter cat who has mastered the skill of observation—to find a new human pack leader so that their home will be saved. With the help of Nobel, the leader of the shelter dogs, the animals set out to use the ancient skill of telepathy to contact any human who bothers to listen to them. Unfortunately for fifteen-year-old Meagan Walsh, she hears them, loud and clear.

Forced to live with her Aunt Izzy in the safe and quiet town of Fairy Falls, Meagan is caught stealing and is sentenced to do community hours at the animal shelter where her aunt works. Realizing Meagan can hear her, Whiskey realizes that Meagan just might have the pack leader qualities necessary to save the

animals. Avoiding Whiskey and the rest of shelter animals becomes impossible for Meagan, so she finally gives in and promises to help them. Meagan, along with her newfound friends, Reid Robertson and Natalie Knight, discover that someone in Fairy Falls is not only out to destroy the shelter, but the animals as well. Can Meagan convince her aunt and co-workers that the animals are in danger? If she fails, then all the animals’ voices will be silenced forever.