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!

 

 

Blind Date with a Book Unboxing

Last week I had a few book signings and in celebration of two great signings, my mom took me out to eat and to Barnes and Noble. While I was there I noticed Barnes and Noble has set up the new blind date with a book section.

Find me on Instagram! @mandilynnwrites

 

How does it work? Well, basically the books are wrapped up, so you can’t judge a book by its cover. The only way you can decide if the book is right for you is by reading the tag that is attached to it. Here’s the tag for the book I picked out:

“Takes all of the best things from historical fiction, horror, fantasy, and a dash of thriller and you will get this book. Tackling what lack of a sense can do to a person you won’t be able to put it down until you are done.”

Now, while this tag has a few grammar mistakes, I knew what it was trying to say and I had a feeling this book was going to be the right one for me. Here’s the book I ended up uncovering:

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Süskind

In the slums of eighteenth-century France, the infant Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is born with one sublime gift — an absolute sense of smell. As a boy, he lives to decipher the odors of Paris, and apprentices himself to a prominent perfumer who teaches him the ancient art of mixing precious oils and herbs. But Grenouille’s genius is such that he is not satisfied to stop there, and he becomes obsessed with capturing the smells of objects such as brass doorknobs and fresh-cut wood. Then one day he catches a hint of a scent that will drive him on an ever-more-terrifying quest to create the “ultimate perfume” — the scent of a beautiful young virgin. Told with dazzling narrative brillance, Perfume is a hauntingly powerful tale of murder and sensual depravity.

 

I love these types of books, so I can’t wait to start reading! My first blind date with a book was a success!

Has anyone else gone on a blind date with a book yet?

What to Create on YouTube/Blogs – Marketing for Authors

As promised in past week’s video, this week I wanted to talk what types of things you should be posting on your blog or YouTube channel. You can use your blogs and vlogs to make yourself present online and promote yourself; this is called content marketing. It develops trust and marks you as an expert in your field, which helps promote sales.

Choose Your Format:        

The first decisions you’ll need to make when you peruse content marketing is deciding what format you’d like to use. Here are some popular options:

YouTube Videos- This is becoming more and more popular. The BookTube community is highly popular, but also on the rise is the AuthorTube community! That wasn’t even a term when I started making YouTube videos!

Blog Posts- Writer’s love to read, so most of the time writers will enjoy reading a blog post, rather than watching it. If you notice, I make all my YouTube videos into blog posts so you can enjoy whichever format you prefer!

Podcasts- Podcasts have been around for a while but they’ve just started to really catch wind now. People are busier and busier and Podcasts are great because you can listen to them while you’re on the go. The tricky thing with Podcasts is that they’re usually longer and more in-depth, so it takes longer to produce them. Like I said in my last video, when it comes to content marketing, it’s a good rule of thumb to produce something to push out at least once a week, so doing this with a podcast may be a little hard.

What Content to Create:

To choose what you’ll be talking about in your videos/blog posts, you’ll need to keep your audience in mind. What genre is your book? What would the type of people reading your book be interested in learning? My first novel, Essence, was a young adult fantasy, so I did videos on writing and publishing for young authors like myself. Another example if if you create a non-fiction book about how to start-up a business, then your videos or blog posts should be based around that. If you become stuck, just join the BookTube community. Create videos all about books! Do book hauls, review books, and give updates of your book as it comes together!

Content Marketing:

This is the basic premise of creating content to use towards marketing. The next step in this process would be to share it online and interact with other creators like yourself to help build your following, and that’s what we’ll be talking about next week!

 

When Should You Become Present Online? – Marketing for Authors

Time for another lesson on Marketing for Authors! Like always, if you haven’t covered The Basics yet, please be sure to read the blog post/watch the video. Today I wanted to talk about a question that’s come up a lot in the past couple weeks, and that’s when should you start marketing/creating your author website? The short answer? Right now!

How Marketing Works

The basic premise of marketing is to gain followers. You create a website/blog and you put yourself out there. If you’re writing a book, then you’ll need readers. How do you get those readers? Through people who trust you and the content you create. Building trust with your followers is vital. If your followers trust your free content, such as your blog or YouTube channel, when you sell something (your book) they’ll feel more inclined to buy it. They read your blog, they watch your videos, they follow you on social media, they know you make good content; thus they will likely feel your book is of the same standards (as it should be).

Why Start Now?

For a lot of authors if feel hard to start a blog or YouTube channel until they have a book. They feel like they’ll have nothing to talk about! Authors falsely assume people will only want to follow their blog to hear about all the things happening with their book. News flash: not a lot happens when you’re self-published and have a debut novel. A nice rule of thumb is to post something on your blog or YouTube channel once a week. When my first novel Essence was published, I felt lucky to have a book-related update once a month.

You need to start gaining a following online because otherwise, your book will be published and no one will know about it. A book’s launch date is important, even for self-published books. It paves the way for the future and the launch day is usually when you’ll get the most social media buzz. It’s hard to create that when your book has already been out for months.

What Should You Post?

So you know you have to start blogging or vlogging, but what are you going to post about? Well, unfortunately, that’s a whole other lesson. Subscribe and you’ll see that video and blog post next week!

Tour of My Writing Desk/Room

I recently moved into the basement of my house and I’ve been meaning to film a quick tour of my new space and today is that day! I’m super excited because I love all the space I have now! There’s room for all my books, my filming equipment, my guinea pigs, and of course my brand new writing desk!

Have a tour of your own writing space? Feel free to send it to me! I’d love to see it!