Defeat NaNoWriMo Mid-Book Syndrome!

You’ve got 30 days to write 50,000 words. Today is day fourteen of NaNoWriMo 2017, which means that you should be somewhere around 25,000 words if you want to be on track to hit 50,000 words by the end of the month. While hitting the mid-point of NaNoWriMo is cause for celebration, I’m here to talk about what no one wants to really admit, and that’s the fact that you’ve come down with mid-book syndrome. If you’ve been watching my videos for a while you know that mid-book syndrome if what I call when you’ve hit the middle of your book and you’re just not feeling it anymore. Sound familiar? Let’s look at the symptoms:

  • Loss of inspiration
  • Telling yourself your novel is hopeless
  • Beginning to contemplate giving up on your novel
  • Staring at a blank Word document
  • Avoiding your novel
  • Writing really boring scenes/chapters

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms then it’s time to find a cure!

I usually break down the cure into two options.

1- The first option is to just push through your writing. Just keep putting words down on the paper. It doesn’t matter if they’re good or not because as you keep writing you’ll find your groove again. You can fix your bad writing after NaNoWriMo is over and you’ve finished your first draft.

2- The second option is a dangerous one to explore during NaNoWriMo, but it may be useful none the less and that’s to walk away from your writing. Under normal circumstances, I would say to walk away from the rest of the day or more, but in the case of NaNoWriMo, maybe just give yourself a short, timed break. If you walk away from your novel for a day, it may grow into multiple days, and then you’ve caught writer’s block and now you’re way behind in NaNoWriMo. When it comes to taking a break, don’t take a break for more than an hour. Start off by setting a timer on your phone and taking a break for just fifteen minutes. When the timer goes off, time to try writing again.

Here are some things you should try during your short break to help get some inspiration:

  • Watch some AuthorTube videos 
  • Visit my Instagram page where I’ve been acting as a writing coach
  • Listen to my podcast, Basics of Writing a Novel, to get into the writing mood!
  • Create a board on Pinterest of anything that may inspire you to your novel/writing
  • Have a snack
  • Go for a walk
  • Read your favorite book to remind yourself what good writing looks like

These are just some of the things I like to do to keep myself inspired when I have mid-book syndrome.

Let me know in the comments below what you do when you’re stuck or have writer’s block!

 

 

Why You Should Participate in NaNoWriMo

What’s the point of participating in National Novel Writing Month? There are a few people out there that think NaNoWriMo isn’t right for them because they think if they force themselves to write 50,000 words in one month it won’t be good, and this may be true,  but this could be said for any first draft of a novel. It’s not going to come out good, but it will get you started. NaNoWriMo is a huge community of writers coming together to help motivate each other. During the month of November, you learn how to get yourself into the habit of writing every day. If at the end of the month, it’s not too good, that’s fine. You can fix that in draft two. Don’t believe me? Well, check out some of these New York Times Bestselling authors that wrote their novels during NaNoWriMo.

Rainbow Rowell:

Did you know Rainbow Rowell’s bestselling novel, Fangirl, was written during NaNoWriMo in 2012?

“I wrote about 50,000 words that month and then kept writing until January, ending up with about 110,000. I revised heavily for my second draft, which I finished in April. All my initial character work and dialogue was strong, but I had to make some pretty significant structural changes. That’s something that was hard for me to do when I was in the thick of NaNo—herd the plot along.” Check out Rainbow’s full interview on Goodreads.

Marissa Meyer:

All three of Marissa Meyer’s books in the Lunar Chronicles was written during NaNoWriMo. In one year! That’s right, Marissa puts us all to shame when she wrote 150,011 words in November of 2008 in an attempt to win a contest to be an extra on Star Trek. Talk about dedication! Here’s what she had to say in an interview with the NaNoWriMo blog:

“Cinder came in at around 70,000 words, the second novel (Scarlet) was right around 50,000, and then I’d gotten 30,000 haphazard words into Cress. However, all three of those novels have had to be completely scrapped and started over from scratch during revisions—which is just fine by me. I may not produce anything of quality during NaNoWriMo, but I always come away with a great roadmap.” Check out the full interview.

Two great writers, both of which had very different experiences when it came to NaNoWriMo and they aren’t the only ones who have written bestsellers during NaNo. Here’s a few others:

Visit the NaNo website for a full list of novels that have been written during NaNoWriMo and were later published!

Last year’s NaNoWriMo had 384,126 participants. Are you going to be a part of it in 2017?

Get a Signed Postcard! – I am Mercy Anniversary

Yesterday was the two year anniversary of I am Mercy! I am Mercy is a historical fantasy novel that is a companion novel to Essence. It takes in 14th century France during the black plague during a time of desperation and dark magic.

In celebration of two years, I’ve decided to start something new. I recently created postcards that I’ll be signing and mailing out! I’ll be giving out the postcards for free to anyone who’s written a review of Essence or I am Mercy. Besides being signed, each postcard will also have a custom message written by your’s truly!

How to Get a Signed Postcard:

Option 1-

  1. Read I am Mercy or Essence!
  2. Write a review on Amazon, Goodreads or your blog. Bonus points if you post the review on all three! (If you’ve already written a review, let me know and you can still get a postcard!)
  3. Email me, or message me on any of my social media accounts with the link to your book review.
  4. Make sure you also give me a mailing address!

Option 2-

  1. Purchase a paperback copy of Essence or I am Mercy
  2. Take a photo and share it on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook
  3. Send me the link to where you’ve shared the photo, along with your mailing address.
  4. I’ll re-tweet or re-post the photo as well!

Anyone can receive a postcard, even internationally. Please note, that if you live outside the United States, you should send me your address exactly as it should be written on your postcard.

Start Reading!

The first few chapters of Essence and I am Mercy for available to read for free!

 

NaNoWriMo Character Development #ProjectWriteTube [Giveaway]

November is National Novel Writing Month and in honor or preparation for many of you writing a 50,000 words novel in one month, I’m taking part in #ProjectWriteTube which a collaboration of YouTubers who are talking about the preparation of NaNoWriMo in the month of October. My video/blog post is just one of many created by other authors, so to watch all the YouTube videos, be sure to check out the #ProjectWriteTube playlist on YouTube:

Authors taking part in #ProjectWriteTube are also donating copies of their novels in one massive giveaway! There are 7 signed copies of books up for grabs, including a signed copy of Essence! You have until November 1st to enter the giveaway!

Be sure to also check out my Instagram (mandilynnwrites) for my NaNoWriMo takeover! I’ll be posting every day to keep you motivated, on track and giving tips to hit 50,000 words by the end of the month! 

For my #ProjectWriteTube video I wanted to talk about character development. When you’re taking part in NaNoWriMo, you’re going to want to have everything planned out in advance, that way you can just write your story during the month of November. This goes for your characters as well. You’ll panic mid-November if you realize who have characters that you have no idea who they are.

The easiest way to discover who your characters are is by starting to ask questions. I’ve done this in a previous blog post, Character Profiling Prompts to Aid in Your Novel’s Plot, which I encourage you to check out, but today I’ve created a few more things to keep in mind when you’re planning out your characters.

As always, I like to think the character creates the plot. You shouldn’t think about your characters and your plot as two different things. Rather, think of them as elements that depend on each other. The plot is dependent on how the character reacts.

How to Develop Your Novel Characters:

  • Give the little details
    • Readers love the little details about characters. What about them is different from everyone else? What odd habits do they have? Point out the little things about your character, like how every night they look for the moon before they shut the shades.
  • Backstory 
    • Develop and write down your character’s backstory before you start writing your novel. Figure out their history and why they are who they are. you want to physically write it out before-hand so you can slowly work in their backstory as you write your novel. Whatever you do, do not info dump. Readers will enjoy your story much more if they have to work for the backstory.
  • Think about body language
    • The body language of your character can tell a lot about personality. Do they stand straight, with confidence? Or do they slink back, fade to the background? How do they hold themselves when they meet a stranger?
  • Don’t be too over-the-top
    • It’s fun to write an over-the-top character, but of course, it can be too much sometimes.
  • Don’t be the damsel in distress or cliche
    • If you’ve ever disliked a book, it’s usually because something about it, the plot or character was cliche. You’ve read it before. It’s boring. Don’t have a boring character that we’ve all seen before. Think outside the box and don’t be afraid to push boundaries.
  • Defect in character
    • Speaking of cliche, we hate perfect characters. No one is perfect and if you have a perfect character than your readers won’t be able to relate to them. Give them humble, realistic flaws. Make them selfish, make them mean, bring out the worst in them (without going over-the-top).
  • Situations to create dimension
    • You’ll want your character to develop with the story. Who they are at the beginning may not be the same as who they are at the end. This is what I mean when I say your character is part of your plot. What scenes or situations is your character going to face and how will they change to reach their goals?

Things to Think About Later:

  • Names and physical Features
    • This is optional, but you may find it easier to figure what your character looks like after you’ve already discovered what the quirks in their personality are. It may seem like common sense that the first thing you have to do is figure out what your main character looks like, but your life may be much easier if you do this last. But at the same time, if you know off the bat what your character’s name is and what they look like, don’t push that away. Embrace it and develop your character from there.

Are you excited to take part in NaNoWriMo? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Writing Dark Fiction, Guest Post by TE Carter

Today I have a special guest for you! At my last book signing, I met TE Carter, the author of the upcoming over I Stop Somewhere. The two of us got to talking about our experiences writing dark fiction, so I asked her to write a blog post on her experiences and some of what she dealt with to write her debut novel. Learn about my experiences writing dark fiction by watching the YouTube video, or read the blog post by TE Carter’s to see what she has to say about the subject.

About TE Carter:

TE Carter was born in New England and has pretty much lived in New England her entire life (minus a few years in high school). She still lives in New England with her husband and their two cats.

When she’s not writing, she can usually be found reading classic literature, playing Xbox, organizing her comic collection, or binge-watching baking competitions.

Find her online at:Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

About the Book:

I STOP SOMEWHERE will be released on 2/27/18 from Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan in the US and on 5 April 2018 from Simon & Schuster in the UK.

US Purchase Links!

UK Purchase Links!

Add to Goodreads

Ellie Frias disappeared long before she vanished.

Tormented throughout middle school, Ellie begins her freshman year with a new look: she doesn’t need to be popular; she just needs to blend in with the wallpaper.

But when the unthinkable happens, Ellie finds herself trapped after a brutal assault. She wasn’t the first victim and now she watches it happen again and again. She tries to hold on to her happier memories in order to get past the cold days, waiting for someone to find her.

The problem is, no one searches for a girl they never noticed in the first place.

Writing Dark Fiction, feat. TE Carter

There’s that old bit of writing advice that you should write what you know. I’ve always taken this to mean less that you should write only what you’ve experienced, but more that you should focus on the topics and ideas that are relevant to you personally. I strongly believe in this advice, but I also think it’s sometimes misunderstood. I don’t think JK Rowling “knows” young wizards; instead, she was writing a region she knows, with themes that mattered to her.

For me, what’s always been present in books is a place where I could feel like I belonged. I didn’t have that in my life outside of reading for the most part. Because I’ve long struggled with anxiety and depression, I tend to have a very hard time connecting to people, but I never felt that way with fictional characters. On the page, there were people who saw the world the way I did and, in their thoughts, they reflected back some of the feelings I was struggling to express. This drove me to reading and, as a result, writing.

What I know is that there’s comfort in addressing the darkness we sometimes feel by saying it aloud and facing it head on. So, I’ve used that in my own writing, focusing primarily on YA contemporary with a darker edge. It’s cathartic and has allowed me to voice what I’ve kept inside for most of my life, but at the same time, when you do face these things directly, it can take a lot out of you.

Another famous bit of writer advice is to write every day. Because of the content I write, I’ve never been able to do this. I need a lot of time to recharge, so I can go months without writing. I suppose I’m never actually “not writing,” because I live in a way that means I’m always observing, making note of things in the world, seeing patterns in behavior. All of this goes into my work, but as far as sitting down and putting words to paper, I probably only write about 3-4 months a year. When I’m actively working on a book or edits, I’m invested in that world 100%, and I sometimes write for 10-12 hours in a day. I write quickly as well during those periods, but after writing draws that much energy from me, I need a break. Generally, I step aside from the writing for a bit, go back for edits and revisions, and once the book is finished, I can go several months without thinking about the next story. It’s the only way to keep myself from getting too deeply invested in the darkness of the things I tackle in my novels and to leading to further depression.

What I think this demonstrates is that every writer has to find the advice that works for them – and also has to know when to say no, that doesn’t apply to me. The literary world is full of so much wonderful variety that it’s expected writers come from various places and thought processes. All writers should embrace what works for them, and put aside any doubts that their system isn’t the right one if it’s improving their own process!

Preparing for NaNoWriMo! #Preptober

We’re already into the second week of October! For anyone in the writing community, you may know this means you only have about three weeks until NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Writers brave enough are going to somehow manage to write 50k words in a single month! I’ve never done NaNoWriMo myself because the timing is always terrible, and this year because of final semester craziness I won’t be able to participate again, but I will be taking part in #Preptober. October is the month that is dedicated to preparing to write an entire novel in a month. Tamera Woods, also known as PenPaperPad, is hosting a huge collab of YouTubers where we’ll all be posting videos about what you should be doing to prepare for NaNoWriMo. Some videos have already been posted, so here is the playlist which will have all the videos added to them as they come along:

Along with the 2016 #Preptober playlist:

I’ll be creating a video for #Preptober which will be going out October 23rd, but until then I wanted to cover some basic tips on preparing for NaNoWriMo! You can also catch me on Instagram talking about #Preptober in the last week of October talking about last minute tips before NaNoWriMo goes full swing! And in November I’ll be your writing coach, posting every day on Instagram giving writing tips!

To have the best chance of winning NaNoWriMo here’s what you’re going to want to figure out in the month of October, that way when November comes along, you don’t have to think about the story, you just have to writ it!

  • Choose a Story– Odds are, you’ll have a lot of stories floating around in your head. Find the story that calls to you the most and commit to it. NaNoWriMo is no place for abandoning novels because you get a better idea.
  • Braindump– Any ideas you have for your novel, good or bad, write them down!
  • Narrow Down– those ideas you just jumped? Time to figure out just how good they are. Start playing around with the idea
  • Characterize– Figure out what characters will be in your book. Choose their names, features, odd habits. Spoiler alert: this is the topic I’ll be covering in my #Preptober video later this month!
  • Outline– Now that you have your characters, it’s time to find your story. Let your characters lead the way and allow the story to form.
  • Notebook– Buy a notebook that is small enough to carry with you everywhere. You’ll thank me for this later.
  • Clear Your Schedule– I hope you had no plans for November because you’ll be doing a lot of writing and very little socializing, but it will be worth it, or just imagine the bragging right!

Alright, get to prepping! Who’s participating in NaNoWriMo this year?

 

 

The Basics of Hootsuite – Marketing for Authors

You’ve all heard me talking a lot about social media marketing and a huge key to organizing yourself on social media is by using Hootsuite. Now Hootsuite is great for anyone, authors and large corporations alike, but today I’m only going to be talking about the tools you will use if you’re an author.

Sign Up for an Account

Hootsuite if free! I wouldn’t use it myself it if wasn’t free. You can pay for the business plan, which gives you more tools and allows you to connect more than three social media apps, but if you’re an author you’ll only need the free version. Create your account and start syncing your social media accounts. On my Hootsuite account, I have Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram linked up. Here’s what my dashboard looks like when I log into Hootsuite:

If you look at the top of the page, you’ll see tabs for your different accounts (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram):

Click around and explore. If you go on Twitter, you’ll see your Twitter feed, as well as Mentions. If you scoll over to the far right you’ll notice a box like this:

Please note options will be different between Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

This allows you to you customize your dashboard. If accidentally remove anything on your dashboard, this is where you go to add it back. You can also edit your dashboard by clicking “Add Steam” at the top of the page under the tabs for your different social media accounts. One of my favorite things to do is follow hashtags on Twitter. To do this, just click “Search” from the “Add a Stream” menu and search whichever hashtag you’ll like to create a stream for. Once you do this you should see it pop up on your dashboard. Explore the “Add a Stream” menu! You can do many things: follow a location, retweets, people, likes. Just start clicking around.

So What is a Stream?

A stream is the vertical columns on your dashboard. They’re basically categories that you can create to organize what you want to look at. If you hover your mouse over your stream you’ll be able to scroll down and look through your feed. You’ll notice that in your stream you can do anything you would want to do on the regular social media app. For example, if I’m in my #amwriting stream I can re-tweet, reply and like.

Re-Tweets

Here’s a cool little trick! In Hootsuite you can re-tweet, quote re-tweet and edit. You access this by hitting the little drop-down button.

If you hit edit, you can actually schedule when the re-tweet will send out. If you click edit you’ll see a dialogue box open at the top of your page. To schedule the re-tweet hit the little calendar icon and your calendar will pop up which allows you to select your month, day and time. It’s as simple as that!

Scheduling Posts:

Since you know how to schedule a re-tweet, it will be really simple to learn how to schedule a post. Go back to the top of the page where the dialogue box had opened before. Start typing your message, add any photos, links, hashtags, @mentions or location tagging.

On the far left, you’ll see your social media accounts. You can choose to post just to one of the accounts, or all of them. You choose which is

which by clicking on the little pin next to the star. If the pin is aimed downward and highlighted, you’ll be posting to that account.

Icons Meanings:

  • paperclip– for attachments
  • calendar– for scheduling
  • pin– adding location
  • globe– targeting (I never use this)
  • lock– privacy setting

Your scheduled posts will pop up in your “Scheduled” stream. If you schedule something, you can always edit it. To view all your scheduled posts from all your social media accounts, go to the far left-hand menu. The chat icon is for your stream and the paper airplane icon is your publisher, which will have all your scheduled posts.

Instagram

It’s important to know, that while you can “schedule” posts for Instagram, you aren’t technically scheduling posts. Instagram doesn’t allow you to schedule posts, even with the aid of outside apps (as far as I’m aware). When you use Hootsuite to schedule a post on Instagram, it actually just sends you a notification to your phone to post the photo to Instagram. This means you’ll have to get the Hootsuite app on your phone (which is free) and log into your Hootsuite account there to get notifications. When you get the notification on your phone, simply click on the notification, hit “Share” and it will open up Instagram. Hootsuite automatically brings the photo to Instagram and copies the description to your clipboard. Go through all the motions as you normally would on Instagram, paste in the description and hit “Share” and that’s it!

There’s a lot more to Hootsuite, but odds are, these are the only tools you will need! If this blog post helped you, let me know in the comments below! Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @Mandi_Lynn_

Author Q&A w/ Tips on Writing and Marketing

Last week I asked you all to send me questions for a Q&A video and this week I’m here to answer them all! Not going to do a blog post today, but make sure to check out the video!

Social Media to Build Your Blog or YouTube– Marketing for Authors

Today I wanted to pick off where I left off in my last Marketing for Authors video, but first…I’d like to do a Q&A video soon, so if there’s a question you’ve always wanted to ask me, leave them in the comments down below and I’ll try my best to answer them all next week!

With that out of the way…

Last time I talked to you all about marketing, I talked about creating content for blogs/YouTube. As promised, now I’ll be talking to you about how to share the content you’ve created on social media outlets to get the most out for what you’ve created. As always, if you’re new to marketing, it may be helpful to watch the other Marketing for Authors videos I’ve created before watching this one.

So let’s say you’ve written an amazing blog post. You’ve got it posted on your blog, it looks great, it has great information, but you have no followers. How is someone supposed to discover your blog if you have no followers? There are two ways a new blog gains followers: interaction (which I will talk about in another video) and social media (which we’ll be talking about today).

Think about it, whenever you discover a new YouTube channel or blog, how did you find out about it? Sometimes it’s through a friend telling you about it, but most of the time it’s someone else, maybe a friend of a friend, posting about it on Facebook or Twitter. To get your blog or video to be discovered on social media, you have to get the ball rolling. Don’t wait around for people to post about your YouTube video on Twitter, start posting about it yourself.

Keys to Sharing on Social Media:

Photos: People are more likely to share or re-tweet a post if it has a photo. We’re visual creatures, make is happy and post a photo along with the link to your video or blog post.

Hashtags: This applies mostly to Twitter and Instagram, but you can use it for Facebook as well. What’s the main subject of your video? Go on Twitter and Instagram and see what hashtags people are using to talk about that subject. Talking about writing? Use #amwriting.

Bitly: Bitly is great for two reasons. It allows you to shrink your URL links for your blog post/video, and it allows you to track how many people have clicked on your link. A short URL is great because it takes up fewer characters for sites like Twitter. But tracking the clicks a link gets is key to knowing if people are actually responding to what you’re posting on social media.

HootSuite: If you don’t know what HootSuite is yet, get acquainted. This is a #1 tool for anyone doing social media marketing. This allows you to schedule posts, track hashtags, and view your feed all in one place. The basic version is free, but there’s also a business version that allows you to track your analytics in one place. What version you use is up to you, but I personally only use the free version. If you’d like a video that goes into more detail about Hootsuite, let me know in the comments below!

Which Social Networks Should I Post My Blog/Videos?

Post your blog post and YouTube videos on every social media site you’re on. So if you’re on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, you should post on all three sites every time you have a new video or blog post. Each post should contain a Bitly link, a photo, and an appropriate hashtag if you want to get the post eyes viewing possible. How do you organize posting everything? Well, that’s where HootSuite comes in.

5,000 Subscriber Free Book & #ChanceChallenge

It’s already the second week of September! How is that possible? My last semester of college has begun so things are a little crazy for me, so I wanted to let you know I’ll only be posting once a week until finish classes in December. On another note, by YouTube channel hit 5,000 subscribers! In celebration of having 5,000 amazing subscribers, I wanted to do more than giveaway a book to one person. I’m going to give a book to…well, anyone who wants one.

For five days, starting today, my second novel, I am Mercy will be available for free on Kindle.

Download I am Mercy for free.

If you end up downloading the book, let me know in the comments below! Also make sure that once you read I am Mercy to review it on Amazon or Goodreads!

Normally at the start of each month I’d do a monthly goal video, but because I have classes I want to focus all my efforts on graduating and finishing writing the first draft of my third novel. To finish writing my third novel I’m going to be joining fellow YouTuber, Kim Chance, in the #ChanceChallenege.

Why wait until November to have national novel writing month? Kim took the lead and is hosting any writers willing to join in from now until October 8th to bring everyone together to hit their word count goals. I’ve been working on my third novel all summer to finish writing it, and now I’ll be using #ChanceChallenge to finish the first draft! Finally!

How to Take Part:

Create an Account on myWriteClub. It’s easy to set up, and it’s free! Create your goal and start adding friends to help motivate you to achieve your goal! My username is mandilynnwrites.

Use #ChanceChallenge to follow everyone taking part.

Most of all, check out Kim’s blog post for full details and follow her on myWriteClub as well!

Time to get writing!