Author tip: top three ways to annoy people…

 

pexels-photo-958164.jpegYep, I worked real hard to land that first publishing contract and boy howdy, it wasn’t a piece of cake to land the other thirty plus either. Writing professionally is difficult and we authors have an obligation to trot our names, awards and five star reviews out into the world to encourage people to BUY OUR BOOKS, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. Writing books goes hand in hand with selling them, and if one is to continue in this biz, tooting our author horns is vital. But here’s the thing…it’s really important to keep the priorities clear when one is in this nutty business. In order that my head does not begin to put too much stock in my press releases, I remind myself that, at the end of the day, people will not remember my cover, my book, and my reviews no matter how many stars are attached. It’s not false modesty, it’s fact. Each year more than a million books are published,  so my meticulously crafted words are buried in an avalanche of plenty of other fancy syllables from a bazillion other wordsmiths a lot more talented than I. (#noraroberts, #irenehannon, #geronimostilton)

So now that I’ve eaten that slice of humble pie, let me just wrap my mind around three sure fire practices that might just annoy the beejeebers out of my friends. (Pay attention, Dana. You don’t have that many friends to spare.)

1. Make sure you bring up your fancy author career in every conversation. Yep, it’s sure as shooting that everyone you encounter wants to hear all about your wacky fiction writing accomplishments. Maybe you could have a tee shirt made…. “I’m An Author, Legend in My Own Mind.”

2. Be sure to promote yourself NONSTOP on all social media platforms. Don’t talk about anything else, or people might get distracted. (I’ve been told I should have at least 30,000 Twitter followers. Only 28,000 to go! Must remember to beef up tweeting schedule to fifty three times a day.)

3. Never stray outside your “writing brand persona.” You’re a suspense writer so ALL of your social media channels should reflect this. (Brace yourself, people of Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. I am prepared to deluge you with every kind of intense, edge of your seat promotion. Repeatedly. Over and over. Until your brain memorizes the name Dana- Buy-My-Books-Mentink. (No humor or warm fuzzy sentiments allowed, people. It’s all deadly serious business.)

All kidding aside, people, I know that the reality is I need to self promote in person and on social media, but that’s my business, my real work is encouraging people. I will never forget during my student teacher days, assisting a sobbing kiddo who dropped her special belt into the toilet. Did I stick my hand in there and fish it out? Yuppers. Was that important work? Absolutely. At the end of the day, nothing I ever write will probably mean as much as fishing a belt out of the toilet for a distraught child.

I hope I never forget that lesson.

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Info about Dana’s newest suspense novel

Why humor is dangerous…

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Writing humor can be a risky business. Drama and suspense are much safer and here’s why. For me, I’m a natural cornball and my preference is to write with humor, but humor is extremely subjective. Most people can agree on what is serious (murder, child abuse, etc.) but very few agree on what’s funny. Did you ever go to a movie that your buddy claimed was hilarious and you found yourself sitting through the whole thing without laughing once? Yeah? Me too. It’s the nature of humor, a tricky beast that’s hard to harness. I believe that’s why publishers and movie makers shy away from funny, because one person’s funny is another person’s flop. I LOVE it, though, crazy person that I am, which is why I continue to write in both the humorous and suspenseful genres, and host a series of funny videos on Instagram.

After watching my Instagram zaniness, I get a lot of folks inquiring about where I get my sense of humor. It comes from my dad, and working in public school is a great place to exercise it. (Believe you me, if you don’t have a sense of humor, you won’t last long in the classroom.) I firmly believe God gave me a sense of humor so I can lift people’s spirits, so I try to do that. There is way too much crude, insulting “humor” in the world that ridicules and puts people down. I’m not a fan of that kind.

How about you? Do you find certain things funny that others do not? Have you seen movies that didn’t quite meet your standards for a comedy?

 

 

Unlearning school writing lessons, part 2.

 

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Oh I sure did learn all those school writing rules! And now….I gotta unlearn some of them.

Rule #2: “Spell everything right.” The second rule I heard growing up was that you should spell things correctly when you’re writing. Nope. You absolutely have to spell things correctly when you’re editing and revising and that final copy had better have some impeccable sparkly spelling and grammar, but the time for that is not when the writer is in the middle of a creative whirlwind. As a matter of fact, focusing on perfect spelling while you’re drafting, stymies the creative flow and slows down the work. I’ve seen my little students paralyzed because they couldn’t figure out how to spell a word. I tell them to write like crazy! “Circle the word if you think you’ve botched it and MOOOOOOOVE ON!” To this day, I cannot seem to spell the word rhthm? rythm? Rithim? Errgh! It baffles me, but I don’t let it stop the flow. I soldier on and make sure that the final product is going to be spelled correctly (once I have the rhythm down! Ha!)

Unlearning those school writing lessons…part #1

 

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I’ve got a very weird job, I’ll admit it. Oh not the teaching gig (I teach third grade) though that can be nutty at times too. Recently I went to school dressed as an emoticon, but that’s a whole other blog post.) I meant the fiction writing thing. It’s funny to me how much of my writing time is spent flagrantly “unlearning” the lessons I took in as a child during writing lessons. Though I’d never admit it to my eight year olds, I’ve been putting my mind recently to a couple of those lessons I had to “unlearn” about writing and life.

Rule #1: “Don’t daydream.”
Awww man! I heard that one all the time as a kid. Short attention span. Way too much time lost in books. Head in the clouds, thinking frivolous  thoughts. I totally understand why the teachers over the years tried to squelch that habit. One shouldn’t be drifting to imaginary places when being given a lecture on crucial topics like long division. Now, however, I get paid to daydream. “Give us something new and fresh,” my editors say. I spend quite a number of waking hours lost in la la land. While walking the dog, I’m wrestling with a way to save my characters from a flash flood. Sitting through a boring movie? Hmmm. I wonder what would happen if the hero was suddenly visited by a child he didn’t know he had? I had the best time brainstorming a life or death escape from a burning shed in my newest book, Treacherous Trails. You see? I’m a professional daydreamer. My former teachers would cringe!

Do you ever daydream during important moments? Feel brave enough to share?

Info about Dana’s newest book, Treacherous Trails.

In which I must leave people drowning because it’s Thursday.

 

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Sure, I’d love to have Nora Robert’s schedule and write full time, but let’s face it…I’m no Nora Roberts! I’m just a hard working, suburbanite mom trying to raise two kids and keep up with the cost of living in Northern California! I actually have two jobs which makes me kinda crazy sometimes. Witness my angst as I leave my fictional world in a shambles while I maintain order in elementary school land! Do you feel me, hardworking writers out there? Or really, anyone who is trying to hold down two jobs?

Just tread water, why don’t you?

 

Seriously…I have the BEST idea to change the face of books forever!

 

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Okay editors of Earth. I know you, like me, absolutely adore words. Oh sure you have to insist on pesky word counts and such in order not to produce a volume too heavy for the average sized human to heft. I gotcha. And I know I probably aggravated the beejeebers out of you by submitting that last manuscript with a couple thousand words too many, but listen! I have the BEST idea! I mean this is gonna shake up the writing world more than the invention of the ebook. Ready? Take a peek at the video. You can thank me at your leisure. I’ll wait right here by the phone.

Click. You’ll love it. Promise.

 

Searching for cows: The BEST part of writing fiction!

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I’m thinking of changing the title of this blog to “Writing Fiction is a Weird Job.” Weird, and wonderful, I would say. Aside from the sheer grunt work and super icky horrible synopsis writing task (my Kryptonite!), there are some really nice perks. The best one of all? Research! When I’m starting a new series, I do my best to put my boots in the ground in the area I’m considering. See it, smell it, feel it, that’s my motto. It infuses the writing in subtle ways that you can’t even anticipate. Intrigued? Well I’m about to start roughing out a new four book proposal and here’s a little sneak peek inside my research trip. Click on the link below and come along, why don’t you? But watch where you step, people. We’re going to cow country!

In which we hunt for cows…and find seals instead.