Fill-Me-In Friday: Best Writing Links of the Week #atozchallenge


Did I miss the train?

Photo by Son of Groucho

 Need to catch up?

If you're new to my blog, every Friday is reserved for rounding up the best links of the week. And the letter for the A to Z Challenge today is conveniently the letter F, so my normal Fill-Me-In Friday works! :)

Here we go...

On Writing/Publishing/Social Networking:

Julie James and the Art of Interviewing at Dear Author

Julie Anne Lindsey | GoodReads for Writers – A LESSON for you

How To Keep Your Inbox At Zero | Author Media

Case Study: How to Breathe New Life into Your Tired Old Blog | Copyblogger

How Cat’s Eye Writer Became a Top 10 Blogger

Andrew Shaffer To Write Fifty Shades Of Grey Parody, Fifty Shames Of Earl Grey 

Content Marketing Data Analysis: Is Pinterest Traffic Worthless? | Copyblogger


What You May Have Missed Here:

A is for...An Ordinary Girl



Breaking Out of Your Comfort Zone



Channing Tatum - Boyfriend of the Week



Don't Be THAT Writer



E is for Easter Eggs Prettier Than Mine  #atozchallenge


Hope everyone has a fabulous weekend! I'll be flying to Chicago for the Romantic Times Convention next week, so remind why I signed up for this A to Z challenge again? Eek!

Don't Be THAT Writer #atozchallenge

D is for...Don't Be THAT Writer

Photo by RyanmotoNSB (click photo for link)This weekend I had the privilege of both attending and speaking at my local TX Two Step Writer's conference. And one of the speakers was the lovely Candace Havens, who I always seem to learn something from no matter what she's giving a workshop on.

This time her workshop was on writer karma. I won't list out her rules because, well, it's her workshop, but the gist is basically the definition of karma--what you do for others will come back to you. And one of the things I walked away with from her talk was: Don't be that writer.

People respond to positivity (spellcheck says that's not a word, but I bet the New Kids on the Block would disagree.) Our own lives are stressful enough, we aren't going to seek out negative people to add to it.

So don't be that negative Nancy in the room. You know the one. The one who bitches about everything, who places blame on outside forces instead of looking inward, who thinks they can lift themselves up by putting other writers down ("I can't believe that dreck got published when my book is so much better."<--come on, you know we have all thought that about some book at some point. Just don't say it out loud.)

That attitude is damaging to you and will alienate you from others. You think if I'm chatting with a group at a conference and someone says how they thought (insert book name) was crap and that the writer is a hack that I'm going to be endeared? What if said writer is a friend of mine or with my agent or my publisher? Do you think that's going to make me want to be buddies with this person? Do you think it's going to make me want to go out of my way to help them? Probably not.

I know this may be controversial, but the same goes for writers posting scathing reviews online. Candace outright said that if she sees an author tearing down another author in a review, she moves the author reviewing off her "to buy" list. And even if you don't consciously do that, don't you think that's going to stick in your brain when it comes to deciding which book to buy--negative Nancy's or someone else's? (Imagine at a corporate job if you went into an interview for a promotion and spent your time talking about how much your co-workers suck and how much better you are. How do you think that would go over?)

Now, before I get hate mail, I'm NOT saying someone shouldn't be allowed to post negative or even scathing reviews. That's everyone's right. It's definitely a reader's right. Honest reviews are needed for every book, and I know I count on them to help me making my buying decisions.

However, once you put on the writer hat, you're in a different place whether you like it or not. You're not simply a reader anymore. People are watching you. And karma may bite you in the butt. So you need to make a personal decision on what's right for you. (My personal yardstick is that if you wouldn't say whatever it is to the writer face to face, you probably shouldn't put it on the internet.)

And instead of focusing on the negative stuff, look for ways you can uplift others. If you truly loved a book, take the time to go write a review on the big sites. If you're further along on the publishing track, offer to crit or help out a friend who may still be in the beginner stages. If someone writes a fabulous blog post, retweet it for them. Encourage and cheer on those around you when they hit a milestone or accomplish something they've been working at.

Spread that love and it will inevitably come back to you. And then if you do have days where things aren't going well and you need to vent or bitch, people will rally around you instead of going, "Ah, hell, there she goes again."

So I challenge you today to go out and do something to pay it forward or pass along the love. Write a review, give someone a pat on the back or a retweet, or cheer someone up who may be having a downer day.

Have you experienced a Negative Nancy (or Ned) in your world? How do you feel when you see a writer talking badly about another writer or their book?

Breaking Out of Your Comfort Zone #atozchallenge

Photo by Lars Plougmann (click photo for link)Today is day two of the A to Z Challenge (you can still sign up, btw) and I want to talk about why I chose to do this thing--even though it's going to be a crazy busy month for me and doing extra blogging is probably the opposite of a good idea.

I am a creature of habit, and I appreciate structure. Having a set schedule with some theme days here on the blog keeps me on track. But, that kind of schedule and structure can also become a bit of a crutch and a comfort zone, so it's important every now and then to break out of your comfort zone and do something different.

This challenge will force me to think past my normal topics and will shake up my schedule completely. Honestly, even two days in, it's a little uncomfortable, lol. We'll see if I survive or curl up in the fetal position and return to my normal blogging world.

But breaking out doesn't have to apply only to blogging. Using the same mentality in your writing can also be a tremendous help. Just like any other part of our life, we get in our happy, safe place in our writing. We only write THIS genre and we only write THESE types of stories at THIS length. Some of that is necessary. I'm writing a series and have a contract that says I need to stay in this genre and world for these books. But that doesn't mean I don't need to look for places to push myself.

When I turned in Melt Into You to my editor, her notes back to me were "I love the risks you took in the book!" That was amazing feedback to hear because A) I was nervous as hell that she'd hate where I took the story and B) I realized not only was it okay to step outside my box, but it was fun and made for a much better story than if I would've tried to recreate the same kind of story I did in Crash.

So push yourself to look for ways to break out of the mold you're currently in. Try a new genre, write a short story or some poetry, shake up your blog schedule, or listen to music you may not normally be into. You never know what treasures or inspiration you may find in the world outside that box. In fact, I can't tell you how many writers I've talked to that didn't get their agent or book deal until they tried something completely different than what they'd been doing. (Including me. I started out writing YA. I sure as heck never thought I'd end up finding my voice in the erotic romance genre.)

So never be afraid to break out. :) And if you need a little extra are the Foo Fighters to jump start your Monday with "Breakout". *shakes out hair and prepares to headbang*


Have you done anything lately to break out of a rut or comfort zone?