Posts Tagged ‘publishing’

My unpatented approach to a wimpy attention span!

https://www.amazon.com/Dana-Mentink/e/B001JRXHXK?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_4&qid=1602597451&sr=8-4

What’s to be done with a flabby attention span?

I have a problem. I have trouble keeping my thought train on the track until it reaches the station, if you understand what I mean. You know what? It’s not getting better as I age, unfortunately. So how does a gal who is distracted by literally everything manage to write more than forty books? I have developed a system that works for me. When I outline it for you, you’ll probably think it’s completely ridiculous, but all I can say is it works for me. I call it…the mini goal method. Basically, I break my life into mini tasks instead of mighty ones. Allow me to illustrate. Below is a typical writing day for me.

Up and at ‘em! I am an early riser. Bible study, prayer time, walk the dog, feed the turtle. A quick check in with my Private FB group and I’m ready to brew some coffee and get started.

Write 1000 words in my armchair. No getting up. No checking the phone. Tushy in the chair and here we go!

My mind is wandering and I am antsy to move. Time for a snack. Put the laundry in. Take Junie the Wonder Dog for another walk. Drink some water. Plan out the next scene while you’re zooming around.

Write 1000 words in the garden. That text can wait. The phone will survive without attention. Stop looking at those birds. Okay, maybe a tiny peek at the wee little lizard because…I mean…he’s adorable!

Lunch! Woo hoo! Papa Bear is waiting. The porch will be perfect if it’s not too beastly hot. Listen to those hummingbirds.

Go for a walk without Junie. Ignore those sad terrier eyes. Walk fast. You’ll solve all your plot problems and get that poor woman out of the trunk you’ve placed her.

Write 1000 words now that you know how to get the heroine out of the trunk. Move the laundry to the dryer, post some afternoon social media content.

It’s 4:00 and time to “quit.” Look up and notice there are dishes to be done, laundry to be folded, and a dog to be snuggled. Return the box turtle to her night accommodations. Remember that you forgot to drink water all day. Start in on dinner preparations and think about how you’ll save the hero from that nasty bullet wound he incurred this afternoon.

The day’s almost done and I met my word count. Woo hoo! Mini tasks met and work count complete. Ready to get started tomorrow!

So you see? As my father always told me, “You can only eat an elephant one bite at a time!”…especially if you have a flabby attention span!

(You can find more of these pithy articles at Because Fiction Magazine.)https://www.becausefiction.com/dana-mentink/

Find out more about Dana at http://www.danamentink.com

Getting out some old school tools!

 

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I have always said that the truth is far stranger than fiction. This pandemic business has proved my point for sure. I thought I’d take a break from my my current inspy suspense series to bring you three observations about this wild and wacky time we are experiencing. 

  1. The old ways are turning out to be pretty handy after all! Last year I taught third grade and we finished the year remotely. Do you know what we did to help keep our third graders connected? We sent them postcards! Good old fashioned snail mail with actual handwritten jokes on them. You know what? They were THRILLED. A young teacher at our site wondered how the kids would stay in touch with each other. How about we try that old school technique known as…a phone call! Yep, the old dinosaur ways are still useful after all! 

2. Privacy is at a premium. We’ve got four people (two college kids and Papa Bear and me) living in a teeny tiny house along with a dog,  a box turtle and two frogs. There are online classes, work meetings, and personal calls going on all over the place. Having a private conversation is really a challenge. I have taken to sitting in my car in the garage to chat. Weird, huh? My mode of transportation has morphed into a private office! Stranger than fiction! 

3.  And the final strangeness…in order to celebrate our fifth graders graduation from school, we were asked to video tape ourselves clapping. You haven’t experienced awkward until you are cheering and clapping by yourself in the back yard while your hubby records you. Odd! Even weirder, my older bear cub is graduating from junior college and they were afraid the caps wouldn’t arrive in time, so they sent them a Snap Chat filter to photoshop a cap on their heads. 

In a million years, would you ever have expected the world to change so dramatically? Me neither. Stranger than fiction indeed! 

What strikes you as strange these days? 

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https://www.bookbub.com/profile/dana-mentink

 

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

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.

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.

 

What’s your dog’s personality…..a quiz for dog lovers!

 

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I’m still getting to know our rescued pup, Junie. This means I am still staring at her frequently asking, “Why did THAT seem like a good idea?” Glad to know from this quiz that Junie is “the life of the party.”

What’s your dog’s personality? Does the quiz do your dog justice?

http://barkpost.com/dog-personality-type-quiz/

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http://www.amazon.com/Sit-Stay-Love-Unleashed/dp/0736966072/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1461189471&sr=8-2&keywords=Sit%2C+stay%2C+love

 

My Writing Life…Through Papa Bear’s eyes

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I could tell you all sorts of riveting info about my writing process which would be sure to bore the socks off you. Yes, I’ve had 30 books published. Yes, I’ve won awards. I could recite chapter and verse about the nuts and bolts of my process, but I figured it would be much more interesting to see it through the eyes of the guy who watches me do all this business…the hubster, Papa Bear. He not only watches, but he helps with research, reads through countless pages for me, and holds my hand when the going gets rough.  Here’s what I think Papa Bear might say about his wife, the writer. (We’ll have him weigh in later in the comments and see how I did. )

1. She gets completely mesmerized by an idea and that’s going to wind up in a book somewhere, somehow. It’s beyond a passing interest. She talked about halibut for three days after she learned their eyes migrated to one side of their bodies! There’s gonna be a halibut in a novel at some point.

2. She alternates between self assured and insecure. At some point she will throw the manuscript on the floor and say, “I’m not sure if this is genius or a pile of you-know-what.”

3.  She is not terribly organized. There are piles and post its and notepads everywhere and now there are even notes on the bathroom mirror. Oy!

So hubs. Did I get it right?

What would your husband/children say about your work habits or hobbies? Giving away an iTunes gift card, a signed book and a Fall surprise this month! I would SO love to hear your comments. 

 

Deadlines…the good, the bad and the ugly.

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Folks ask me constantly. “How do you make yourself sit down and write all those books?” I say, in all honesty, “Three words. Legally binding contracts.” Yep, right in the middle of all that legal mumbo jumbo in the contract is a deadline. The term “deadline” as a matter of fact, is thought to have originated in Civil War prison camps where real or imaginary lines were drawn. Cross them, and it was lights out.

Deadlines are good because they keep the endless procrastination at bay. The problem I have found is that to be successful in this business, you need to have multiple deadlines (both self imposed and contractual ones) working at one time. If you write one book at a time, finish it, then start on the proposal for the next one, there will be too much of a time lag between projects. It’s just not feasible. For example, I have a full manuscript due to my publisher on Feb. 15th. I also have a self assigned deadline to have the next proposal (three chapters and a synopsis) more or less done at that same time so I can have that ready to submit while that full manuscript goes through the editing pipeline.  Now multiply that by three different publishers (at the moment, I’m writing for Love Inspired, Harlequin Heartwarming and Harvest House) and you see why DEADline is an apt description. I try to think of it this way. Each book is a blessing, and an opportunity, even if it sometimes doesn’t feel that way.

So what about you? Everyone has deadlines of some sort or another. Are yours imposed by a boss or yourself? How do you motivate yourself to meet your deadlines? Giving away a VISA gift card, a signed book and a February surprise this month.

A big writing announcement…

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I’ve got news. Big news, at least for me it is! I’m excited to report that I’ve just signed a three book contract with Harvest House for a series of lighthearted, dog themed romances. This is both exhilerating and frightening. The exhileration comes from the fact that, I am by nature, a nut. I love to laugh, and the peeps that know me will tell you I have a wacky sense of humor. Humor is very natural to me, so to be asked to write a lightearted romance with plenty of laughter included, is an honor. And the dog theme? Oh man. I have written dozens of dog characters in my day because I believe there is no greater example of unconditional love than a dog’s affection for its human.

So why is this also a frightening adventure? Because I’m branded already as a romantic suspense author. I will continue to write those, too. The question is, how restrictive is my brand? Will people say, “Oh, that Mentink is a pretty decent writer, I’ll give her lighthearted romances a try.” Or perhaps they’ll say, “Mentink is a romantic suspense author, and that’s what I want to read from her.” You see the dilemma?

So what do you think? If you like an author, are you willing to try them out in a new genre, or do you prefer your authors to stick with what they’re known for? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Giving away a Starbuck’s card and signed book this month. 

Throwback Thursday…the hazards of marrying an arson investigator

 

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Cast your mind back to 2008. Do you remember it? Yep, it’s foggy for me, too. It was my second book for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense and I was a rookie, for sure. I tackled a book with a theme familiar in the Mentink world…firefighting.  Here’s the blurb below.
Why is a kind-hearted savant setting fire to an ordinary book? Recuperating firefighter Ivy Beria is determined to find out. But then the young man, Moe, goes missing–and his only friend turns up dead. Ivy is sure the double mystery is linked to the string of numbers Moe chanted before he vanished. She asks her best friend, computer expert Tim Carnelli, to uncover a pattern. They make two shocking discoveries: they have unexpected romantic feelings for one another and Moe is in serious danger. They’d better find him fast. Or the truth–and their dreams–will go up in smoke.
Since Papa Bear worked for the fire service for more than 30 years, I figured writing those blazing inferno scenes would be easy peasy. Wrong! Papa Bear has the annoying tendency to want to edit my glorious fire scenes for scientific correctness. No, there really wouldn’t be an explosion. Actually, the smoke would be so thick they wouldn’t be able to see that villain lurking under the stairs. No, you can’t really start an arson fire that way. Maddening! In spite of (and largely thanks to) Papa Bear’s comments, I managed to finish the book. If any technical errors slipped through, they are mine, not his.

Do you have an expert in your life to offers advice? What are they an expert on? Do share! 🙂