A Sense of Duty Lisa Shea

Writing a Blog – Tips for Authors

It could be that you plan to write a five-book young-adult series about a dystopian world. Maybe your goal is to write cookbooks or a memoir. If your end aim is to publish books, why should you consider writing for a blog?

It all comes down to publicity.

Whether you’re traditionally published or self-published, you as the author will shoulder a lot of the burden of marketing your content. Even big publishing houses expect authors to schmooze and interact with fans. There will need to be somewhere that you can post about your progress, answer questions, and keep readers enthused. Sure, a portion of people love Facebook, but just as many people swear against ever participating in the “Evil Empire”. For every Twitter lover you’ll find ten people who despise Twitter. The solution is to have a wholly independent place for people to find and talk with you.

Make sure your blog has an easy-to-use URL, for all sorts of reasons. Going with something simple like LisaShea.com is best. If you do something long and complex like SweetMedievalRomanceNovelsForKids.com the chance or someone remembering or typing that all in properly is slim to none.

What to post? Post generally on topic, to build up a base of fans interested in that area. If you’re going to write books on gluten-free recipes and living, post all sorts of tips about gluten-free life. If you’re going to write SciFi for young adults, post about books you’ve read in that genre. Post ideas about teleporting or lasers or whatever else strikes your fancy. Those types of posts will draw in like-minded readers who will then enjoy your content.

Definitely post updates about your writing. Readers love to read those. Even if you just got one page written, celebrate your progress. People enjoy cheering you on. If you get stuck, ask for ideas. People love chiming in with thoughts. Even if you really don’t need any ideas, it gets the conversation rolling.

The nice thing about a blog is you can set it to auto-update your Amazon Author Central page, your Goodreads page, and many other locations. By updating in one place you automatically keep a variety of other systems active and posted with content on your topic area. That means you’re more likely to be found by people searching on your topic, and your fan base grows, which then leads to more books selling on launch.

If you’re a writer and don’t have a blog yet, look into setting one up. If you need help, send me a message. I’m happy to lend a hand!

This article was first published by Lisa Shea in the March 2022 issue of the Boston Mensa Beacon.

Newgate Copper Mines Prison

Recording Family Memories – Author Tips

There is much in life that we can take for granted. Often we only realize what we’ve lost once it’s gone. Growing up, I never thought to ask my grandmother what she endured during the World War II years. She had been a farming girl in Ukraine who got swept off into Germany to work as a laborer. Her beloved brother was sent to the mines. To me, she was simply Baba, a curvaceous elderly woman who made pierogies from scratch, cutting each one with an old soup can.

As a wiser adult, I would love to hear her stories. I wish I could learn more about what her life was like. Sadly, it’s too late. It’s not just my own loss. I can no longer share that history with the next generations.

In this current moment, you might not see the value of recording personal stories and information. I suggest motivating yourself to do it anyway. It could easily be that in a few years you realize you wish you had those details.

Some people start with recipes. You can gather up family recipes and look to find the stories behind them. Why were certain ingredients used? You might discover it’s because it’s all that was available at some point in time. Maybe some ingredients relate to family allergies or favorite flavors.

You can gather up favorite songs, books, and movies. I loved reading the books mentioned by my great-grandmother in her diaries. I could connect with her and understand how she felt about the characters.

Challenge yourself to remember as much as you can about your own early years. Then talk with family, friends, and others who were around during that time period. How do your remembrances line up? Do they help you recall other things you’d forgotten about?

Every one of us carves a unique path through life. Our experiences reflect a combination of our culture, our ancestry, our interests, and our dreams. We might not realize just who we could inspire with our story. We live in very interesting times. It could be our own descendants, members of the community we live in, or even society at large who becomes intrigued by what we went through.

I imagine there will be countless students, in the years to come, who will be fascinated to hear why we of our generation did the things we did. The more voices we can document, the fuller that picture will be.

This article was first published by Lisa Shea in the February 2022 issue of the Boston Mensa Beacon.

A Time To Be Silent

Starting a New Writing Project – Author Tips

Happy New Year! This is the perfect time to begin a new project. Write that memoir. Develop your recipe book full of family favorites. Share your mystery story about five-armed space aliens and river-laced planets. Get it started.

Sometimes authors are concerned about the money involved with publishing. Getting your book out into the world can be wholly FREE. Yes, FREE. Whether you choose to go with Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or several other options, you can load your PDF or Word DOC of your manuscript online wholly for FREE. Your content is then available for people to buy in ebook format. If you wanted to make a paperback, the cost to get copies in your own hands is just the printing cost. So, for example, a typical novel might cost you $3.50 printing, plus shipping, to get a version into your hands. There is no setup / listing / maintenance costs involved.

Yes, certainly, if you wanted to pay someone to edit your book, or design a cover, or so on, you could choose to pay them. But I know authors who have paid $5,000 or more to a company when all that company did was take the author’s Word document and load it into Amazon (for free), plus add a free stock-photo cover. There’s no reason to pay $5,000 for a ten-minute free activity.

If you’re in the process of thinking about a book, please contact us. We can get you pointed in the right direction. If you want to pay $1000 to an editor to fix your typos, that is wonderful! If you have a favorite illustrator you want to pay $500 to so they custom-design the perfect cover for you, fantastic. We will help you navigate to know which costs make sense to incur and which don’t.

Above all, write. Write, write, write. Never let concerns of “how will I pay to get it published” hold you back. We are here to help you. Whether you are eight or eighty-eight, your voice matters. The world needs to hear your stories. Our modern world makes that reality a mouse-click away.

This article was first published by Lisa Shea in the January 2022 issue of the Boston Mensa Beacon.

Lisa Shea Fantasy Paranormal Books

Planning a Writing Project – Author Tips

As a new year approaches, many people build lists of things they’d like to accomplish in the coming twelve months. For a number of people, this involves embarking on a new writing project. Maybe you’d like to write your memoirs. Maybe you’ve always wanted to write a children’s book. Whatever the project, now is definitely the time to start!

The key is to settle in for the process.

Few things in life go smoothly or easily at first. Writing can be just as challenging. Give yourself time. Every step will probably take longer than you thought. That’s fine! Make yourself a writing nook that suits your needs. Some like noisy cafés. Others prefer a silent couch by a window. Test different situations until you find what works best for you.

Writing energy comes in waves. Sometimes words will pour out of you. At other times, you just won’t know what to write. Accept that pattern. When you’re able to write, give yourself the time and space to take advantage of that. When you aren’t, jot notes about ideas, dialogue, environments, and whatever might seem intriguing. You’ll be able to use them later on.

Immerse yourself in reading books and watching shows that you adore. The more creative input you soak in, the more it will inspire your own creativity to start flowing.

Find like-minded cheerleaders. Family and friends might be well-meaning, but they’re not always the best ones to help you in a writing project. Look online to find people who adore your genre and who will celebrate every milestone.

If some people don’t enjoy your writing style, that’s fine! Stephen King’s Carrie was turned down by 30 different publishers. Just keep on following your heart. Your audience is out there. Similarly, leave off editing until you have the full first draft done. That way you know the complete story before you begin smoothing out rough edges.

Ask with any questions, and good luck!

This article was first published in the December 2022 issue of the Boston Mensa Beacon.

Lisa Shea Pixie Series

National Novel Writing Month

National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, happens every November. Nearly 800,000 writers participate! We begin on November 1st, end on November 30th, and aim to write at least 50,000 words during those 30 days. It’s all free!

If you’ve ever wanted to write a novel, this is the perfect community to join. During those 30 days you’ll get daily encouragement, a sense of camaraderie, and practical help with everything from how to world-build a desert planet to how to murder someone in 13th century France. The online forums are fantastically supportive and constructive. Whatever genre you’re working on, there’s sure to be others to bounce ideas off of and get feedback from.

It’s not that your novel will be done on November 30th. Rather, this is a powerful way to jump-start your process and get solid progress made. By November 30th, some writers are barely half-way done with their sci-fi epic. Others might have completed their first draft of a short cozy mystery. Whatever progress is made, it’s well worth celebrating! Whether you reach the 50,000 word mark or not, you generally have still made far more headway than you would have without giving NaNoWriMo a try.

For those who benefit from in-person events, each region holds write-ins in a variety of accessible locations. For those who prefer to work alone, the access to the online support forums, reader feedback, and other systems can make all the difference when you need another point of view.

Nearly 800,000 writers around the world all pull toward a common goal. Hundreds of thousands of authors give each other encouragement, share enthusiasm, and cheer the small victories. It can make an enormous difference in your work’s progress.

So whether you need help with an illustrated children’s book, a teen fantasy, a young adult romance, or a Miss Marple-style mystery, you’ll find what you need during NaNoWriMo. Give it a shot!

https://nanowrimo.org/

Ask with any questions, and good luck!

This article was first published by Lisa Shea in the November 2021 issue of the Boston Mensa Beacon.

Flash Fiction – Author Tips

Flash fiction. Micro-stories. Short-short stories. They’re all names for a genre of writing which has been around since the beginning of time. Flash fiction stories compress an interesting thought or event into a minimum of words. Zen koans, children’s fables, and religious parables are all forms of flash fiction. In modern times, we tend to use the flash fiction category for works that are less than 1,500 words.

A variety of famous authors have turned their focus to flash fiction. Philip K. Dick, Ernest Hemingway, Franz Kafka, Anton Chekhov, and many others have thrived in this short-form world. One might compare the challenge of writing flash fiction rather than a novel to the writing of a haiku rather than an epic poem. It’s an entirely different experience. Our world thrives by treasuring both ends of the spectrum.

In the 1800s and 1900s, flash fiction was usually a highlight feature of a newspaper or magazine. Often the stories came in a series. However, with the advent of modern devices, now flash fiction can stand on its own. Readers happily download Amazon Kindle Vella episodes which are only 600 words each. Short-short stories are found on Wattpad, Radish, and a variety of other platforms.

There are publications which focus on flash fiction. These include FiftyWordStories.com – Press53.com – CarrotRanch.com – 101Words.org – FlashFictionMagazine.com – MoonFlakePress.com – and many more.

Sometimes a flash fiction story is a moment in time, similar to most haiku. Take a look for Franz Kafka’s famous work “Give It Up!” This flash fiction hones in on a harried, lost man who needs help – and what happens when he asks for it.

In other cases, the flash fiction has more of a start, middle, and end. Search for “The Eyes Have It” by Philip K. Dick. This fun comedic piece presents the story of a man who discovers that aliens live amongst us.

And then there are those who write flash fiction as a way to present a longer tale one episode at a time. This is the way the Amazon Kindle Vella system plays out. Several of our Boston Mensa authors are writing episodic stories for this system. Historically, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Edith Wharton all initially published novels as a series of short episodes in magazines. One thing a writer learns when writing serially is how to ensure each chapter ends at an engaging moment. There needs to be a reason for the reader to actively seek out that next episode.

If you haven’t written flash fiction before, consider giving it a try! There are plenty of markets out there eager for flash fiction. Whether you prefer short dollops of moments, complete little stories, or pieces of a longer tale, there are readers out there enthusiastic about delving into your unique view of our world.

Ask with any questions, and good luck!

This essay was first published by Lisa Shea in the October 2021 issue of the Boston Mensa Beacon.