Author Archives: janetsyasnitsick

About janetsyasnitsick

Visit blog for writing, marketing tidbits to dazzle your creative endeavors. New book release: Bride by Arrangement. Anthology includes two novellas - one written by Ruth Ann Nordin, The Purchased Bride, and mine, She Came by Train. Other published works: author of five-star, inspiring-historical romance, Lockets and Lanterns, (His secret ... Her broken heart), 10th place story, "The Silver Lining," and Best of Year book, Seasons of the Soul. Background: former journalist and language-arts teacher. www.JanetSyasNitsick.com

The Phoenix Conference: Buildin’ the Dream

Janet, Ruth, Judy, and Rose

From left: Janet Syas Nitsick (me), Ruth Ann Nordin, Judy DeVries and Rose Gordon

Flying away to Phoenix for a writing conference was one special time not only in what the conference offered but also in the flying experience.

Never before had I flown first class. Dreamed about it but did not believe I would do it. However, the trip to Phoenix changed that.

I experienced a full-course meal, including wine and dessert and bags arriving first in the baggage terminal. It was a great and sure beats my last time flying where my youngest autistic son ran out the plane while waiting to take off from Omaha Eppley Airfield. You can read about this in my first book, Seasons of the Soul.

Of course, Phoenix’s scenery was spectacular. A little too hot in late May for even this cold-blooded individual with temperatures around 107 degrees. But, the sand domes in the horizon took your breath away!

But I digress. What I liked about the Buildin’ the Dream Conference was how you got to interact with fellow authors, publishers and workshops speakers. It was more informal, where you could enjoy eating in the hotel’s breakfast buffet where conferees gathered and intermingle with them or in the lobby area.

You were not going from one workshop to another in rooms so packed you barely could breathe. In addition, you did not walk a mile in high heels to find food. Everything at the hotel was at your finger tips.

The nice advantage of attending a conference like this one was the wonderful speakers, such as USA Today best-selling author Rose Gordon, a top, book-cover designer Anya Kelleye and a Phoenix attorney, Megan D. Scott, who is an entertainment and copyright lawyer.

Gordon gave two presentations. Her first was “Mistakes Authors Make – Historical.” Gordon knows how to sell and make money, thus she knew of what she spoke so you listened.

She writes Regency and American historical romances. Gordon said for you to think of the setting as your wallpaper where people wear clothing and interact to those time-period dictates. Remember, however, to focus on the romance so do not get caught in details which overshadow your storyline. Your office needs to include a dictionary, access to Web resources, a book on that age’s idioms and a trusted friend who knows more than you about the period, she said.

Adding to Rose’s last point, I have a friend who read my Lockets and Lanterns and my novella, She Came by Train. She is knowledgeable about farms, farm animals, reading by kerosene light and attending a small country school. This friend is an excellent resource. I cannot tell you how many times she caught something wrong.

Her second workshop was “Your Books, Your Business.” Gordon told attendees to write with their hearts but think with their brains. Thus make sure your book is done, edited, formatted, has an attractive cover which sells and is marketable. Study your genre, engage the readers, condense descriptions to a sentence or two and become visible like through blog tours, giveaways, promotional items and advertisements, she said. Each piece, though, has its pros and cons. An author blog, for example, is where people interact and learn about you. The con is the time involved in doing one, she added.

Anya Kelleye showed us some of her cover designs. A good book cover needs a strong focal point and must evoke emotions. She cautioned against using a script font. Instead, keep it simple. Too many images or text overtake the cover, she said. Remember, she added, your cover does not need to tell the novel’s whole story.

The lawyer, Scott, also was a great resource. Each state is unique in its own laws, she said. No matter, however, where you live when you bring your idea to physical material it is copyrighted even before it is published and recorded with the United States Copyright office, she said.

In addition, there were many other wonderful workshops. The smaller arena gave you time to talk to the speakers for a short time after their workshops. It also allowed you space to sit and take notes.

But, downfalls did exist. One was the Buildin’ the Dream author conference, and the Arizona Dreamin reader event shared the same Web site page. The two headers used the same colors and unless you paid close attention you could easily sign up for the wrong event. On their feedback form, I alerted them to this problem.

Would I go again, you ask? You bet, in a heartbeat. It was a wonderful trip. The conference was fantastic and it was awesome meeting people you interact with on the Internet, such as Lauralynn Elliott and Judy DeVries. It also was great seeing Rose Gordon again. laughing with her, Judy and Ruth Ann. They even taught me some new words. It was a lovely trip and traveling and sharing a hotel room with Ruth Ann Nordin made it the best. God bless.

 
Categories: Blogs & Websites, Book Covers, Book Formatting, Book Promotion, Business Plan, Copyright, General Writing, Marketing & Promoting, Self-Publishing, Social Networking, The Reader, The Writer & Author, Writing as a Business | Tags: , , , , , ,

Box that Giveaway

Ruth Ann Nordin and I did a Facebook and blog giveaway which started last week and ended Monday. Ruth organized it and made the whole affair come to life. I am so grateful for her expertise and the time she spent in this endeavor. There were awesome prizes, including the winning of a Kindle, a Western candle, a rectangular-treasure box in which to place small items, a bread-sized Western chest and the winner’s choice of e-books or paperbacks. However, what I learned was how much fun this type of activity brings.

People shared their appreciation in winning items, such as one winner who expressed her gratitude that the Kindle came right at the best time. Her mother was in need of one. She downloaded recipes and sweet romance books for her. Is that not wonderful?

The interaction with our book readers (Ruth’s more than mine) was also such a blessings. Some people shared personal information about their lives and your heart ached for their hardships, health problems and more. It gave us a chance to know our audience, and the whole giveaway provided us a way to express our appreciation of their support.

Ruth and I picked out the Western items back around February. We originally planned to do a giveaway sometime in March but with her and my schedule this never materialized. So I kept the items to await our next move. Since we were having a joint book signing of our anthology, Bride by Arrangement, May 10, Ruth made some cards about our next week’s giveaway, and we distributed those around the area and during our book signing.

It worked. The word got out through this and our blog postings. Ruth thought ahead while my brain still was in the clouds. This is why it is good to do giveaways together because what one does not think of the other does.

It also is a good idea (if you have a place to store them) to keep boxes. My husband is not pleased with my basement Christmas collection, but it sure comes in handy to BOX THAT GIVEAWAY. I have a box for the candle and books, the rectangular box and books and the bread-sized chest with books. Sometimes it is good to be a pack rat.

In addition, I keep those disgusting store plastic bags. They make great box stuffers to keep the items from breaking and rolling around. Do you hear that Paul? My husband. Who wonders if sometimes I have lost my mind.

Doing a giveaway together also allows you to eat lunch together after selecting your store giveaway items, keeps the expenses down and most of all it becomes a happy time instead of a chore.

At a previous Nebraska Writers Guild conference, one of the speakers said

giveaways are important. It gets your work out there to those who do not know you, and they could become one of your devoted fans.

Years ago, when my first book, Seasons of the Soul, was released, I hesitated to give my books away. One less book sold. But as the old adage states: You need to invest money to make money. This is the same with books. The more people read them; the more apt your book will produce future sales.

This has been a fun topic to discuss and if you choose to do this you will find it as rewarding as Ruth Ann Nordin and myself did. Box that giveaway and sent it out as we did. God bless.

Categories: Blogs & Websites, Book Promotion, General Writing, Marketing & Promoting, The Writer & Author, Writing as a Business, Writing Partnerships | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Comparing Yourself with Others

Comparing your writing to another author can be positive or negative, depending upon how you use it.

A few authors out there slam a fellow author’s book with one and two star reviews. Some of these reviews were honest evaluations while others were not.

Base your critique on such criteria as readability, storyline, plot durability, realistic dialogue, grammar and more. If you do not believe you can do this, then do not write a review. There is nothing wrong with that.

Authors need time to write their own stories, engage in social media and do whatever else to promote their work and if this leaves little time to read others’ materials and write reviews then do not do it.

I write reviews because it keeps my followers informed on what else I am doing besides my work in progress. However, you need to do what works for you.

Reading, though, does help you with your own work. I gleam a lot from reading (when I have time to do so) in the way of word choices, character names, plot ideas and descriptions.

Currently, I am reading Mary Connealy’s Calico Canyon. The villain is Parrish. I like the way Connealy describes him. “But his temper goaded him. He hungered to make her sorry for what she’d done. The image of her cowering under his fists kept him awake at night and rode him like a spur [my italics] all day.”

Playing off one another is great as long as we are not taking their words and ideas verbatim. There really are only so many story concepts out there, but the bends and turns we add make the difference. Take, for example, the Twilight series. The gut of the story is romance with a werewolf twist.

Remember to write your way, however. If you try to write like another author, you will fail. After all God gave you your own gifts not another’s. In my work, I try to set a scene with the five senses.

I also like to include historical details, such as I did in Ruth Ann Nordin’s and my anthology, Bride by Arrangement, set in Lincoln, Neb., in 1876. The book includes two novellas. Ruth’s story is The Purchased Bride and mine is She Came by Train. Below is an excerpt from my novella highlighting an old hymn:

“As the afternoon sun rays glimmered on the pearly keys, Opal settled herself on the piano stool. Opening one of the hymnals, she turned the page to ‘When the Roll is Called up Yonder.’ Stroking the keys, her fingers graced the notes. She sang as she played the tune.

“‘When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound and time shall be no more, And the morning breaks, eternal, bright, …’ Footsteps approached. ‘When the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there. … When the roll is called up yonder., I’ll be there.’ Finished with the chorus, she turned to Mr. Crowley, who stood in front of her. ‘Yes?’

“‘Miss Preston, you have two visitors. One is named Ada Wilcox.’”

My brother loved reading an author who added Native American details into his work. Doing this helps set your writing apart. However, if you are one who does not care for research (which takes time) then write what fits you. I enjoy learning about time periods and how people lived. By the way, one of the best ways to gather information is to visit historical homes.

I also read a variety of genres, including romance, mystery, suspense and non-fiction. I read Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Lincoln. It gave you a wonderful feel for the time period which helps me with my own writing. Even heartwarming, spiritual true stories, such as Heaven is for Real, enables me to capture emotions and to be able to use these in my own work.

In conclusion, it can be good to compare yourself to others if you do this with the right intent but also stay true to yourself. Write your own story. Garner methods and styles from others, but as you do so remember to fashion your own storyline and descriptions according to your own heart and dictates. God created you as you are so devise your writing as such. The Lord’s blessings to you.

Categories: Characters & Viewpoints, General Writing, Genres, Grammar, Social Networking, The Writer & Author | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

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