Thursday, June 28, 2012

#MakeBelieve #Free Goodies For Download!

I was so thrilled when J. Taylor Publishing sent me these goodies. I’ve been busting at the seams to share them with everyone but I had to wait. Well, I don’t need to wait any longer. Check out the wallpaper and poster below (for more goodies head to my Freebies Tab HERE).

The Make Believe Desktop Wallpaper:

The Make Believe Poster:

I’m still not used to seeing my name on the cover of a book let alone all these goodies as well. I’m thinking it’s something I’ll never get used to. 

Note: I have a new Facebook Author Page I've just started. I would LOVE for you to pop on over and LIKE it. 

What exciting things have been happening for you lately?


Monday, June 25, 2012

Why Authors Need to Do the Marketing

I recently attended a full day writing seminar. The rapid change in the publishing world was the hot topic. One of the signs of the changes is that writers have to do most of the promotional work—even when they are published traditionally by one of the Big Six. The reason for this necessity was best explained at this seminar:

With the advent of social media, the way products and services are promoted has changed. It's not just the publishers who expect us authors to get out there and make ourselves accessible, the readers expect it also.

A publisher could fake a twitter account—and they have been known to this for some authors—but it doesn't work because it comes across as either fake or as spam. No one likes either.

Authors can't afford to be shy anymore. People want to get to know us and have some connection with us. The happy by-product of this is that the authors also get to connect with their readers. How awesome is that?

As a reader, how has social media helped you connect with your favourite authors? As an author, what part of social media do you enjoy best?

Thank you to Precy Larkins for the Booker Award. Please pop in to her blog and say hi to Precy from me.

I've been meaning to say that the Make Believe anthology is on Goodreads. It would be awesome if you could pop on over and mark it on your to-read list.

Photo: I took this shot of the Sydney Opera House past the Harbour Bridge at sunrise.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

The 5 Stages of Editing Grief

I recently had to go through the line edits my publisher sent me for my short story, Birthright, which will be appearing in the Make Believe anthology in December. I'd spent a lot of time getting the story right, a lot of time on the subtle nuances, the word rhythms, and the little things that could possibly make a good story into a great one. Then the line edits arrived. I found red scrawled through my precious document. My baby was bleeding with changes.

Stage 1: Denial
I've had short stories published before, I've had edits done on my work before, but I've never had to deal with so many adjustments. Self-righteous pride welled up inside me. My story didn't need all these changes—or so I told myself.

Stage 2: Anger
Even though I've heard authors talk about editors in a bad way, I've always sworn to never give an editor a hard time and to never assume they didn't know what they were on about. Well, in this stage of my editing grief, I'd forgotten that personal rule. I raged and pouted and stomped my footsies.

Stage 3: Depression
Of course, once I got over my self-absorbed anger, I turned to self-absorbed depression. I believed I was a terrible writer and my story would never be any good. I even toyed with thoughts of giving up.

Stage 4: Acceptance
Of course eventually I realised I was being a goose. I knew the story had some kind of potential otherwise J. Taylor Publishing would never have included it for the anthology.

Stage 5: Getting on with it
This is the stage where the real work can finally get done. It's not about accepting every single change an editor wants. As a writer, I am the author of my work. It's in both the author's and the editor's best interest to maintain the author's voice while producing the best work possible. It becomes a team effort based on trust. With a little give and take by both parties, the process becomes hugely rewarding.

What's your reaction when someone suggests changes to your work? To the writers: what's been your experience with professional editors?

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Writerly Mind

I've been away with an unhappy tooth. However, if I ever had any doubt about being a writer, then it was quashed this week while sitting in the dentist's chair. During the whole experience my crazy mind turned to descriptions: the pain, the surgery, the fear. I could turn the experience into a horror story or a thriller about a psychopathic dentist. Not because the experience was that bad, but because my writerly mind turned in that direction and found story opportunities. Only a true writer could think those insane thoughts while getting a tooth drilled.

The experience even turned my thoughts to comparing root canal therapy with line edits. Yes, there are comparisons. For example, both can be painful, but both are necessary and everything will be a whole lot better once they are done.

It brought a smile to my sore mouth.

Do you have any amusing moments that reminded you that you've made the right choice about your profession?


Monday, June 11, 2012

The Importance of Showing Personality

This might surprise some, but I’m a fan of America’s Next Top Model. I love watching the struggles toward making dreams come true. However, for a long time I didn’t understand why the judging panel would assess the wannabe models, not only on their performances as models, but on their personalities. In my naïveté, I kept wondering why personality should even matter. If the model can do the work, and do it well, then that should be enough.

I’ve come to realise that personality matters a great deal—no matter which profession you choose to take. A good personality will open doors that would otherwise remain shut. A strong personality is remembered over a hidden one. Personality will make friends.

In the comments on my previous post about Overcoming Insecurities to Build a Brand, Denise (L’Aussie) said that she came across a blogger whose response to anyone sharing anything personal about themselves was, ‘No one cares about you. They only want to know what’s in it for them’. While it’s a bleak view of humanity, there is a certain element of truth behind the statement too. And here’s why:

Have you ever checked the twitter feed for any reality TV show? I don’t recommend it because there’s so much nasty there. The haters don’t care about the stars. The TV disconnects them as if the stars were mere characters rather than real people with real hopes and real dreams. Because of this, the haters feel justified saying things they’d never say to a friend or an acquaintance.

While blogging is a little different than reality TV, if we hide behind facts and figures and not share anything of ourselves, then who will care about us as writers, social networkers, or whatever else we do? No one will know us, which means, if we don’t have something specific they want, they won’t have a reason to care, to follow, to support—as they would a friend.

In the same comments, Medeia said in regards to people showing a little more of themselves, ‘It makes me feel closer to the people I’m interacting with’.

Many of us hide behind pseudonyms and avatars, which is no problem if that’s the way you want to go. What’s important is showing personality so the real you shines through.

Which bloggers stand out to you? Why do they stand out?

Photo: My cow slippers, as requested by @BethKanell via Twitter. Go ahead and laugh, but they are super comfy, they keep my cold feet warm, and I love them.

Note: It’s the Queen’s Birthday long weekend, so I’m a little behind on blog visits. I’ll catch up as soon as I can.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Overcoming Insecurities to Build a Brand

My biggest insecurity in my writing career is sharing the real me. During my two years of blogging I've offered writing and social media tips. For the majority of that time I hid behind a cute blog title, W.I.P. It, and a flower avatar.

This didn't help my brand. Why? Because it didn't spread the word about who Lynda R. Young is.

While I'd be happiest wearing my cow slippers and living out my days writing in my comfy cave, I can't, or at least, I shouldn't. If I want to get serious about my career then I have to step out. I need to make myself accessible to my readers. I need to show my personality and—gulp—vulnerability. This is where my little self wants to run screaming.

This requirement is something I've known for some time and fought against for even longer. I value my privacy. But building a brand doesn't mean I need to share every intimate detail about my life, my cat's life, or the lives of all my loved ones. I just need to share a little more of who I am, my struggles, my achievements, and my dreams.

Slowly I’m overcoming this insecurity. I now display my name on my blog for all to see and misspell. I also display my official author photo on all my social media: Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads. The biggest hurdle I’m now facing is inserting more of me into my posts. I hope I won’t scare anyone away because of it.

What have been your biggest hurdles you’ve had to face to achieve a dream? How are you working to overcome them?

This post was written for the Insecure Writers’ Support Group, the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh.

Thank you to Sabrina A. Fish for the Versatile Blogger Award. Thank you too to Christine Rains for the Booker Award. You are both awesome! Please visit the blogs of these lovely ladies and say hi from me.

Note: I took the sunset photo on board the cruise ship as it was leaving Sydney. 


Monday, June 4, 2012

How to Fake a Professional Headshot

In my last post, I covered The Importance of a Professional Headshot. Now to make a confession: the photo in my sidebar was not taken by a professional photographer. After a discussion with my husband, I had agreed that I needed a professional photo and so I began researching studios and pricing.

The average studio/photographer in Australia offered a reasonable price for a set of photos. Some even offered specials. However, when I mentioned to them I needed the copyright of the photos their eyes lit up, much like a baker’s eyes light up when you order a wedding cake. The prices skyrocketed.

You want how much? Would you like my kidney with that?

To avoid having to eat nothing but spaghetti for the next six months, I convinced my hubby to help me fake a professional headshot. And here’s how we did it:

The camera: You don’t need a fancy camera to achieve a professional look. You do need a digital camera and a happy trigger finger. Take a gazillion shots—even if 99% of them look freaky, one of them, by the odds alone, is bound to turn out halfway decent.

The photographer: A professional photographer with a fancy camera will be able to achieve a lot more, but for the purposes of this exercise, a trusted friend or family member will be sufficient. As long as they are patient and know how to point the business end of a camera, they’ll do fine. They don’t even have to worry about taking a straight photo or a centred one because most photo editing programs will fix that problem.

The look: Make yourself look perdy. I don’t normally wear makeup so all I did for the shoot was slap on a bit of lipstick. I even brushed my hair—gasp! Tip: don’t wear huge earrings, don’t wear patterned clothing. You want your face to be the focus of the picture, not your accessories.

The background: pick a plain background, something neutral, nothing too busy. Outdoor shots are fine and generally add a relaxed feel to your portrait, but there are hazards to outdoor photography. Sunlight can cause dark shadows across the face, and squinting into the sun is never a good look. If you are going to take an outdoor shot, then take it in the shade—not a speckled shade, otherwise you end up with strange highlights.

Indoor photography has its own pitfalls. Without a studio, lighting is difficult to get right. Avoid flash photography. A flash is a stark light that will do you no favours. Neither is a light from directly above or below. I don’t recommend indoor photography unless you understand lighting and have a fancier camera that can take longer exposures.

This final shot was taken outside in the shade. It was late afternoon and I stood in front of a glossy white card.

Without naming names, what mistakes have you seen authors make with their headshots?