Tuesday, March 31, 2015

What is the April A-Z Blog Challenge?

This is my third year of participating in the annual AprilA-Z Blog Challenge. I love this challenge for several reasons: I grow as a writer, I meet new people who find my blog, I discover new blogs to follow, and it’s just so much dang fun to plan and execute! You can still sign up, but you'd better hurry!

I always have several ideas for an A-Z blog focus for April, so I pick the one that fits best the blog I am writing for. Because I have three blogs, with very different foci, I have options for the April challenge. "Write Away" wins this year.

Every day (except Sundays) bloggers post something that begins with an alphabet letter, in alpha order. Four Sundays subtracted from thirty days gives 26 posts to write. This year, Wednesday April 1 is A, April 2 is B, and so on. 26 days for the 26 letters. But in 2017, there are five Sundays, so I am curious what we’ll be told to do that year.

I discovered most bloggers use a theme which makes writing posts easier and the whole body of posts is more cohesive. But I didn’t know that when I started in April, 2013. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing so it was a hodge-podgey kind of month, but centered around relationships with some days better than others. You can check the archived posts for April, 2013 at“Romance Righter”

In 2014 I got more focused and did cooking terms and equipment at “Parsley, Sage and Rosemary Time”. My posts caught the eye of the A-Z Challenge organizers, and I was featured in an interview you can read here.        Check out my archived posts for April 2014 

So what’s up for 2015?

This year, I am writing about terms mystery/crime writers know and use, so this is sort of Mystery Writing 101, but with some new information or insights, I hope, for even experienced writers.

In addition to “the term of the day”, I am writing a short story for you (sorry, not a mystery but it does have a twist--hmm! Could that be the "T" word?). The opening paragraph begins with the letter of the day. (Stay tuned for “X”, right?)

So, come back tomorrow and every day in April except for Sundays. I get Sundays off for bad behavior. I think that’s what the organizers said. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Guest Post: "Writing for the Christian Market" by Sue Faris Raatjes

-->I am delighted to welcome back Sue Faris Raatjes, a newly minted author, is guesting again on Write Away to provide guidance on how one can write for the expanding Christian market. Her advice is good, but read her book, Route to Survival, for even more understanding of how to successfully approach this market.

Writing is writing is writing. Writing for the Christian audience is similar to submitting to secular markets, with a few exceptions.

·      Be real. Whether fiction or non-fiction, Christian writing must reflect reality. Don’t be self-righteous, appearing to stand on a spiritual pedestal. We all are schlepping through life and both readers and writers experience times of defeat as well as times of victory. If you honestly share your spiritual struggles, you will connect with your readers in a very personal way. One word of caution: don’t assume the martyr stance. Sometimes, in their attempt to be real, Christian writers go overboard in rehashing the details of their tragedies. They take on the role of suffering servant instead of emphasizing the strength God provides.

·      Do not use “Christianese”—jargon known only to those growing up in the faith. Jargon usage cuts out a good portion of your readers, making them feel like outsiders. Replace cliches with fresh, innovative wording that communicates clearly. Show, don’t preach.

·      Perfect your craft. Good writing is just as necessary for the Christian market as it is for any market. Check for wordiness, grammar and sentence structure (of course), flow, character development, and plot movement. Do not let your writing be second rate just because your audience is steeped in Christian forgiveness. Christian editors and agents are just as demanding (and rightfully so) of excellent work.

·      Write the truth based on your Christian beliefs—which means the Bible. And speaking of Holy Writ (a very old-fashioned term for the scriptures—I just wanted to impress you), use a Bible translation that fits your audience. If you’re writing to older people familiar with the faith, you might want to use the King James Version or the New King James Version. It is written in Elizabethan English—think Shakespeare. On the other hand, if you’re trying to target young people, the Message is very modern and easy to understand. There are many translations and paraphrases to choose from, making it easier for writers to connect with readers. Use the one that fits your audience.

o   Another thought about writing the truth: I frequently pray my writing will encourage readers to survive life’s curve balls by exercising their faith. What I often find, I am the one challenged. My shortcomings are highlighted, and I’m reminded of God’s care as my words speak to me. I guess truth goes both ways.

·      Do your research. There are many fine resources to help strengthen your message as you share your Christian faith with readers. Thanks to the internet, these are readily available. Here is a list of trusted resources for Bible research and for publishing information:

2.     www.bibleatlas.org
6.     Christian Writers’ Market Guide, by Jerry Jenkins

So, there you have it. Writing is writing is writing. All markets make the same demands: excellence, honesty, and just plain good work. Go and do your best.

Follow Sue:
Blog: “Grow with God” at www.sueraatjes.blogspot.com

Sue Faris Raatjes is a former high school English teacher and writer with credits in various Christian magazines. She’s taught Bible studies to all ages for many years. She has four children, ten grandchildren, and lives in Phoenix with her husband, Bob.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Promo and Marketing for Writers, Part 2

I signed a contract for book two in my culinary mystery series, Prime Rib and Punishment, and it will be followed a two-three months later with book three, Potluck. While those are in production, I will be writing Ancient Grease in which Alli and Gina work for a cruise ship as demo cooks. 2015 is going to be a good year for me!

Jeana, our marketing guru at Oak Tree Press, just e-mailed me with some requests, one of which is sending her my year-long, month-by-month marketing plan for Prime Rib and Punishment. The plan begins three months prior to release and continues for at least nine months after that. I had to complete one for Mission Impastable, too, but I know a bit more now than I did when I created that one.

I have a guest on “Write Away” next week, but I will share parts of my marketing plan with you two weeks from now so you have a sense of how to produce one if your publisher requests it or you are indie publishing and wonder what a marketing plan can (not must) look like.

But here are some tidbits for marketing and promotion as teasers:

I will order business cards as soon as the book cover is finalized. I am hoping we go for another “food on a fork” picture like Mission Impastable. I like the simplicity and the branding effect of a similar style cover. Remember, I like to use the real estate on the back side as a reason to keep my card so I will be pulling recipes from the next three books for that purpose.

A couple of years ago, I ordered car magnets for my doors. I’ll be getting another pair of magnets for PR&P and other books in the series. It is cheap, passive advertising. I drive to the grocery store and somebody asks me about the book title! Everywhere I go, my name and my book title go along.

Of course I’ll be announcing my new title this month to the readers of my cooking column in a small local newspaper. I already show the cover of MI; I’ll just add in PR&P when it’s ready. I am fortunate to have this free advertising opportunity each month.

I’ve arranged for some guest spots on blogs later this summer, and I’m doing a fall podcast that will allow me to tout all three books.

I’m going to create some of those Rotten E-Cards with promo material (you have to be careful not to violate their guidelines), but I know they catch one’s attention when they pop up in a Twitter of Facebook feed.

Tweets and Facebook posts will let people know something comes this way! I am asking ten people to post tweets and Facebook posts (which I prepare in advance). The reach of ten others to their followers/friends will greatly extend my exposure. I prepare those in advance for distribution to them with instructions for when to release the messages.

I know these items are pieces of my marketing plan, but I have to put more effort in pulling off both a virtual and in-person launch. My plan will tell Jeana that’s what I’m doing, but I will have two other documents with the details for each.

What has been successful for you in book promotion and marketing? Please share below so we all learn!

Be sure to stop in next Tuesday. Sue Faris Raatjes is back with tips for those who want to write for the Christian fiction market! And in two weeks, I’ll share the marketing plan for Prime Rib and Punishment.