Sometimes you just have to write a monster… or bake one

Sometimes you just have to write a monster … or bake one.

Did you know I have a story with a monster in it? I have one story where a monster appears. Vague Directions has a shape shifting monster. A hamster. Yes that’s right. A hamster. Sometimes my imagination surprises even me. I was writing and a shape shifting hamster monster appeared and went after the heroine. Sometimes when you are writing, thinking you are writing a certain kind of story something will pop up and insist it be written. This is how I ended up with a monster in the short story.

Writing students will often hear me say, you must write things out of you. If something wants to be written, then you must write it. Otherwise it will nag at you while you are trying to write. So, write those monsters out when they pop up. Get them out an onto the page. Then you can go on and write something else. It is best not to bottle things, monsters especially.

We are celebrating everything monsters this month on my social media.

I love cookies and monster cookies especially. The pic above is of the monster brownies I baked last week. I just had to make them. Halloween holiday foods are so much fun and I have two boards on my Pinterest page to collect the pics.

Add Monster Cookie Recipes or Food Recipes in  Author Debra Parmley’s Facebook Page. : https://www.facebook.com/debra.parmley.7

We will then add them here: https://www.pinterest.com/debraparmley/monster-cookies/ & https://www.pinterest.com/debraparmley/monster-foods/

 

Calculating Pages and Word Counts

How long is your book? My first book had to meet a 100,000 words goal to be submitted back in 2007. (Picture of me with my first book A Desperate Journey by Monica Parks Photography.) Much has changed since then but figuring your word count has not.

For the length of your book here is a guide to page counts and word counts.

How many pages have you written today? Keep writing!

How close to finishing your book are you? Keep writing!
The industry average is 250 words per page (pages of course vary with more dialog or more narrative)

Pages              Words
50                   12,500
100                 25,000
150                 37,500
200                 50,000
250                 67,500
300                 75,000
320                 80,000
350                 87,500

If you wrote 7 pages a day in 50 days you’d have 50,000 words. You can do it!
How fast do you write? How many pages a day can you get in? This chart may help you to estimate how soon you can be done with your book and reach the goal of your page count for the book.
Now get going! How many pages can you write today?

 

 

Goodreads and Why I Love It

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Goodreads. Authors often either love it or hate it. Some won’t be on it at all. Others are on often and enjoy it. Today I’m going to talk about why I love it.

First, I came to Goodreads as a reader, before I ever had an author page. So I learned to love the site as a reader and that has not changed.

I like being able to keep track of books I have read, so I don’t order the same book twice. In this way it saves me from wasting money. I like being able to “shelve” the books by category and have started doing more of that recently. I can even keep track of which books my grandson has on his shelf so I don’t buy duplicates. So as a reader, shopper and gift giver it is useful to me. I also like the way Goodreads will suggest books to me and the fact I can adjust that by simply saying not interested. Just because I gave one book a 4 or a 5 does not mean I want to read a bunch more books like it.

So now we come to the ratings system. one star to five star with three being I liked the book. Anything above a three and the system is likely to suggest another book just like it. When I am rating a book I tend to rate high. I’d give everyone five’s if I could. But then if I do that, the system will keep suggesting more and more of the same. So I need to fight that inclination to make it easier to find the books I most want to read.

So that’s me as a reader on Goodreads. Just another reader who likes Goodreads.

Then there’s me as an author. Of course I have a Goodreads author page and I think every author should have one. I hear authors say they won’t be on there because things can get ugly. You know, with trolls and all. Well, that’s kind of like saying I won’t go play on the playground because there might be a bully. Or there has been a bully. I think it’s too bad when that happens. I’m not going to let any bully keep me away from enjoying books and talking about them. As a reader or as an author. So I have a Goodreads author page.

I like Goodreads so much I had it on my iphone long before I had Facebook which is not on my phone. It’s only in the last year that I added Facebook and only because I felt I had to in order to keep up with people who have events and messages and such and won’t use texts or emails. I was missing out on things by not being on there. Kind of like authors who are missing out on Goodreads by not being on there. Each author makes their own decisions about these things.

The thing is, readers are on Goodreads. So if you are an author and you want to meet readers or for readers to see your books, if makes sense to be there.

I love Goodreads and will be doing more on the site in the future. In fact, we just opened a branch new group for my readers on Goodreads and you are welcome to join! Look for Debra Parmley Lamplighters. Here is the link. See you there!

Debra Parmley Lamplighters

Why Amazon Reviews are Vitally Important to Authors

Why are Amazon reviews and ratings so important to authors?reviews

These little gold stars and reviews are like gold for authors. Amazon reviews are vitally important to authors. Here’s why:

*25 reviews and Amazon starts in including the book in “also bought” and “you might like” lists to readers who might like to read it

*50 -70 reviews and Amazon will consider the book for spotlight positions and the newsletter.

Number of reviews may affect sales ranking and some websites won’t consider or promote your book unless you have a number of reviews on the page. Reviews help readers decide whether or not to buy you book so even a few reviews help, but if the book stays hidden in the mass of books on Amazon, readers may not see it to even be able to look and decide. With over 200,000 books on Amazon a good book can remain invisible for readers who would enjoy reading it, unless it garners enough reviews that Amazon will suggest the book to the reader.

Amazon’s system called A9 uses algorithms to place product rankings. An algorithm is a process of calculations by a computer. According to Amazon, more sales equals higher rankings. If the book is selling it is higher on the list. Verified purchase reviews count more toward the rankings of Amazon sales. You can still leave a review for a book you didn’t buy through Amazon. You can review anything on Amazon whether you purchased it there or not, if you have an account there.

Reviews with ‘likes’ count more toward rankings and algorithms. So while you are reading the reviews hit that ‘like” button. This will also help the good reviews rise to the top and the bad ones float to the bottom if there are no likes for the bad ones. It’s one way to counter the mean spirited reviewers who are out there. The ‘likes’ help the reviewers Amazon review stats and also helps the author with a higher-ranking review.

Amazon reviews are important! A review can be short. Anyone can write one in just five minutes. Writing a review is one of the biggest things you can do to help the author of the book you just enjoyed. So please, write a review!

My new radio show Book Lights – Shining a Light on Good Books!

I have a new job working for Circle of Seven: Readers Entertainment and a new radio show!

Book Lights – Shining a Light on Good Books!

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Every Tuesday night at 8:30 eastern, 7:30 central, 5:30 Pacific I am live on the air interviewing authors and chatting about their books. The interviews are taped and turned into a podcast later that evening after the live show winds down.

Here are the interviews I have done so far! Enjoy!

Interview with Sheila English:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/circle-of-seven/2016/05/04/book-lights-with-debra-parmley-presents-sheila-english

Interview with Lydia Michaels:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/circle-of-seven/2016/04/27/book-lights-with-debra-parmley-presents-lydia-michaels

Interview with Sharon Sayla:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/circle-of-seven/2016/04/13/book-lights-with-debra-parmley-presents-sharon-sala

Interview with Ariel Burns:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/circle-of-seven/2016/04/06/book-lights-with-debra-parmley-presents-arial-burnz

 

Belo Dia Publishing

Perhaps you have noted it’s been a while since I posted to this blog. To say I have been busy would be an understatement. 2015 saw me with five publishers and multiple deadlines to meet. Much has changed since then. I am now a hybrid author with my own small boutique press and I am still with two other publishers.

The name of my new press is Belo Dia Publishing. Belo Dia is Beautiful Day in Portuguese. Debra Logo cmyk

If you hang out with me long enough eventually you will hear me say this, “Every day we are alive is a beautiful day.” This belief permeates every cell of my being.

At Belo Dia, we aim to publish books which uplift and celebrate each beautiful day we are here on this earth together. Currently we are publishing romance and poetry.

I love the new logo. It expresses everything I wanted in a logo. The sun rising up above the green hills, rising out of the pages of the books we publish, with the solid core of the publishing house beneath.

The first part of 2016 I spent re-publishing all the back list books I had reversion of rights for. They are out now in both print and in ebook with new covers. Moving on to publish new works, I have two new works out and am working on a third. One goal I have for 2016 is to publish my back list books in audio, an option I did not have before when they were with other publishers. The future is bright here at Belo Dia where every day is a beautiful day.

On Drive, Writing and Achieving Goals

I have drive. When it come to my books, my writing career, I have drive.

My husband calls it tunnel vision and perhaps it could be called that too, because when I am that focused on the goal, it is an extreme focus which fades things in the periphery of my vision. But whatever one chooses to call it,  it have it and when I am that focused I will not be redirected elsewhere, by anyone, even in the most extreme circumstances. I call it drive.

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I have drive. This has allowed me to achieve what I have achieved in my writing career so far to this date. No matter what has happened to me and to my books I keep pushing forward. Set backs happen. I have to get up, dust myself off and start again. I have to adapt and adjust. This is not to say I have not had those nights when it seemed impossible to get up and do it again and to start over. This is not to say I have not had nights when I cried bitter tears of frustration and sadness and loss and felt like giving up. I have had such dark nights and gotten through them, sometimes alone, sometimes with the help of a friend. But I have gotten through them. I get up, dust myself off and I begin again. Because I have drive.

When students who are serious about their writing ask me what it takes to get published (usually they mean with a publisher not self publishing which nearly anyone can do these days if they apply themselves) I tell them the things they must know to get published and I teach them the skills and pass along the information they will need to achieve that. But that drive, that is the one thing I cannot give them or teach them. Drive comes from within. I can motivate. I can ask them how bad do they want it. I can ask them any number of questions which will motivate them, but it still has to come from within. They need that inner fire. That drive.

Drive accepts no excuses. It does not care what is going in in your life. It does not care if you are tired. It does not care about anything other than achieving that goal. Drive is unstoppable, unrelenting, ruthless. If you have ever once tasted drive within yourself you will know this will be true. You will understand what I am speaking of.

I have drive. Sometimes this means I drive myself too hard, too fast and for too long. I am often too hard on myself. Often this means I will crash and crash hard. Just last night I had such a crash. I had been driving myself too hard, living on fours hours of sleep, pushing hard to get books out with rights reversions back from three publishers and many books to get out under my new publishing company/private label and an all day book event yesterday where I needed to have books ready to sign. I had been pushing myself hard for about a month, and pushing the month before, not as hard but pushing. So when I came home from the book event last night I crashed and crashed hard. I slept for twelve hours straight. Then I got up and four hours later napped for an hour. I had reached a point of exhaustion and my body said, enough.

This is what drive can do. So when you have it to the degree that I have, it is important to learn to manage it, to control it. To find some sort of balance between allowing that drive to fill you to the point where you push on through to your goals and between reigning it in so you can rest and recharge and be ready to push on through the next day. Often when I have a set back in my writing career, after the dark night of drying those tears, I get back up with a fierce sort of drive which pushes me hard. It is my way of fighting back against the twists of fate the publishing life throws at me. It is that fierce determination which doesn’t listen. It is the dark side of drive or tunnel vision because it does not listen.

What follows a crash and burn with me is a quiet, a silence. A time of evaluation. Of assessment and of looking all around and listening. The drive is sated then, quiet. Not gone, just quiet and still enough that it waits until I need it again.

Drive is something that allows us to achieve our goals and sometimes achieve things we had never dreamed of. I believe it is a necessary part of achieving a successful writing career and of achieving any sort of dream. I am thankful to have it and would not want to be any other way than I am. Writing is not a hobby for me. Never has been and never will be. I have the drive which will take me there. The part I must learn is to balance that drive and to live a more healthy lifestyle. That is the challenge that I see. Typing these words my next thought is, challenge, now you have set the challenge. And this… this is the beginning of setting any sort of goal for which you will need drive.

Oh yes. I have this drive. It just needs some direction, a goal to point it to.

I have drive.

The Five-minute Book Review and Why You Should Write One

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The five-minute book review and why you should write one.

Why should you write a five-minute review? Why am I asking you to write one?

Because you liked the story. Because it helps the author. Because it might lead to the author having another story out which you might like as well or better. Because if you don’t you may not find another book by this author. Or a book similar to this one, in the same genre or writing style. Authors sometimes switch to other types of stories and low reviews and low sales are one reason why.

Reviews are getting harder and harder to get. I am hearing this from traditionally published authors as well as Indies and hybrid authors like myself.

Have you ever had a favorite food, brand, or store? Maybe it was one of your favorite things but suddenly the store no longer carries the food or brand or the store is no longer in business. I’ve had this happen to me. It left me wondering what happened when I liked it so much.

This can happen to books and their authors as well. Books need reviews. Fewer reviews mean fewer sales. That hurts authors. It hurts their books. And it hurts you, the reader, because that author you like, that book you like, and they may not stay around long if you don’t support them.

Can you speak up for the things you like? And I do not mean clicking like on your face book feed. I mean taking five minutes out of your day to write a short review, which basically says hey I liked this book. A few sentences. One paragraph.

So you’re not a “book reviewer”. Well neither am I. But each of us can say in simple language hey, I liked this book. Or hey I liked it but I wish it had more of this thing. Or I am not sure what to think of this book. Or even this was not my cup of tea but it was well written. Or even I didn’t care for this book and this is why. Just the honest truth of what you think of the book. That’s all. One simple review. A few sentences. Five minutes.

One sentence. I liked this book.

Two sentences. I enjoyed this book. I hope to read more by this author.

See how easy that is? Simple. Might take you less than five minutes.

Five minutes. You can do it. I bet you can even write a better review than one of my examples.

And if you do write a short review, I thank you for it. On behalf of every author and every book you review I thank you for it. We need you. We love you. We appreciate you.

——-

If you would honor me with a review here are two sites for where it’s easy to do that.

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2279340.Debra_Parmley

Writing During Difficult Times

Writing during difficult times can be a blessing but it can also create stress. I experienced this during 2014 when my father was on hospice for eight months and then in June when he passed. This was a time when I put into practice much of what I teach my writing students.

To write is to release words we carry inside of us. Thoughts and emotions but also the words themselves. Words that we do not speak or write will lodge in the body. So it can be cathartic to write about the difficult times. This is why it can feel so good to write in a journal.

It can also be cathartic to block everything about your current reality and escape to your fictional world for a while. The tricky part is that stress can make it hard to focus on that fictional world.

So how do we move through difficult times when we want to be writing? How do we navigate a writing life when the river currents have shifted and nothing is as it was?

First, you must always take care of yourself. You come first and the writing second.
If you need to take time off then do so. If you need help, then ask for it. You might not want to write. You might not want to get up in the morning. You might feel you are the only one in the world with this problem. You might feel that no one understands. But the fact is, this is a common problem. It’s just that not many writers talk about it. We tend to go into our writing caves and remain silent. This I believe is a mistake.

Take time off from the pressure to write and don’t be hard on yourself about it. Do what you must do. You are allowed a long lunch break during these times. You are allowed a vacation. Taking a break does not mean you have failed any more than taking a vacation from a day job means you are not doing a good job. Be kinder toward yourself, not hard on yourself. Remember that you are more important than the writing. The writing will be there when you return. Your life matters and your health and happiness matter. Without you, your writings would never exist.

This is not the time to disappear into your writers cave like some mysterious author who never communicates what is going on with anyone. If you have an editor, an agent, a publicist, or anyone else that you work with to produce or promote your writing, let them know what is going on. You might be surprised how supportive they can be.

Come to the page and write something, anything. Getting the words out will help you to move through whatever you are dealing with. The something you write may not be the story you’ve been working on. It may be the thing which is bothering you today. Sometimes we need to get those words out first, before we can move on to working on that story. But write something. Five minutes a day. Set the egg timer. It may seem like an insurmountable task making yourself sit there for five minutes to write, but once you manage it, you might be surprised at the feelings of relief you will have. Give yourself small manageable goals so you can succeed instead of tackling a long project which could leave you with a feeling of failure.

It is okay to write something you never intend anyone to read. You are doing this first for yourself. Whether anyone will read it is a secondary issue. Your task is to get those words out. It is okay to write something and then delete it later. It is okay to put it into a drawer and not look at it for a year.

It is okay to only write for that five minutes a day when you are used to writing pages and pages. It is okay if you cannot produce as many pages as you are used to. You may be tired, you may be distracted, you may have interruptions you would not normally allow. Avoid putting pressure on yourself about your writing.

Are you full of emotion? If so, good. Let that flow out onto the page. If you are working on fiction or poetry let it flow into your work. Emotions are one of the ways we connect with our readers.

Allow your writing to bring you joy. Everyone goes through difficult times at some point in their lives. But you have been blessed with the urge to write and it’s there for a reason. Your writing is something that will always be yours. You take it with you wherever you go and you can write through anything if you teach yourself how. Let your writing give back to you as you give to it.

Writing through difficult times has taught me so much. I am thankful for those lessons, just as I am thankful to be nearing the end of these current difficulties. I am thankful to know that just as I have moved through this trying period of my life, I could move through the next if need be and emerge stronger and wiser on the other side. I will emerge stronger, wiser and ready to write.

A Writing Exercise – Dedicated to My Father

Two weeks ago, on my birthday, I treated myself to a Writing and Yoga Workshop taught by Valentine Leonard at Delta Groove Yoga in Memphis. It’s been a long time since I took a writing workshop. Usually I am busy writing my novels, short stories and poetry and teaching and coaching my writing students. So this was a nice treat for me, to be on the other side of teaching and to be a student once again.

One of the exercises given was to make two lists, one of places we knew well and the other of things we no longer did. Then we were to match the unlikely ones together, to pick one and to write about it. From those lists I chose my fathers house and escorting  travelers overseas.

This is what I wrote:

I no longer escort travelers overseas on long trips to my father’s house.

He is on hospice now and mostly sleeps. So I would not have time now for travelers who need escorts because they don’t know how to get their passport or what to pack and who have never stepped beyond the borders of their own country.

I used to have so much time and patience for so many people and never minded helping. They simply needed someone to go beyond pointing the way and saying this is how you do it.

Sometimes a person just needs another hand to hold and for them to say come on, it’s going to be okay. I wonder who is holding my fathers hand now and if he will be escorted in a group to the other side. He does not seem afraid, merely confused. Perhaps this is why he is lingering so long.

It’s harder to be the watcher when you are used to escorting people. I have no road map for where he must go. I do not know these border crossings. I can only stand on the shoreline waving goodbye and sending my love.

For me, this is a journey of sitting when I am used to being in movement. I should not complain. He is the one confined to a bed, never going outside to breathe the fresh air. No wonder he sleeps so much. I would sleep too if my gaze could not reach up to touch the sky. I would close my eyes and travel in my mind. Perhaps this is what he is doing. It is impossible for me to know.

Perhaps he is waiting on a slow VISA to the place he has never gone before. I hope and pray his passage is smooth, his escort kind and firm of hand. I hope his new country welcomes him like a long lost son and celebrates his coming home.

Dedicated to John (Jack) Bishop

Oct. 15, 1933 to June 20, 2014