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Join Me 2/22 for NFAA Podcast on Resistance

On February 22nd members of the Nonfiction Author’s Association will be listening to NFAA CEO Stephanie Chandler interview me about Resistance, and 6 ways I’ve found to make that bully irrelevant.

The free NFAA membership level includes the weekly live interviews. Paid memberships would also give access to recordings. I encourage you to join (even at the free level) and listen in. (My wife, Sue, is Special Projects Director of the NFAA and we’ve known Stephanie for years, so these are people you can trust.)

We talk about dealing with Resistance including some specific steps, plus I list my 10 favorite books to help you make Resistance irrelevant, every single day.


Create the Villain Your Hero Needs: Superb Infographic from David “Villain” Villalva

3 Ways to Create a Villain Who Audiences Want & Heroes Need [Infographic]David Villalva is a story nerd like me. Smart, friendly, smart, generous, and smart.

He created this superb infographic to explain how to create your story’s villain, and why doing it like this matters. Click to make it big.


Adding a MailChimp Newsletter Signup Form to Your WordPress Theme

blow-your-own-hornLast week I wrote a geeky article I hope makes it easier to choose a WordPress theme (short version: it’s about look and feel, not how it works.)

Since the origin of this series of posts was a conversation about your newsletter being the most important marketing tool you have, this week, we’ll go over the basics of adding a MailChimp newsletter signup form to your WordPress site. (There are other newsletter tools. I think MailChimp has the right balance of power and simplicity. The concepts here apply adding any code to your WordPress site to varying degrees, so you can mentally stretch them to include other newsletter tools if that’s your preference.)

Overview: Continue reading “Adding a MailChimp Newsletter Signup Form to Your WordPress Theme”


Your Author Website: Choosing a Good WordPress Theme

Big fan of WordPress. I use it for all my sites and for Spinhead’s clients’ sites as well. As a writer you’ll note the correct use of apostrophes in that sentence. (See below for the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org and trust me, you want to know this.)

Choosing a theme seems to be a massive roadblock to beginners.

Let’s blow that up and shovel it into the ditch, eh? Continue reading “Your Author Website: Choosing a Good WordPress Theme”


Turning Your Website Into a Connection Machine

I am not using “machine” in the cool and/or hip sense, as in, your website will magically cause magic to magically happen.

I am using it the sense of a mechanism which does a thing. Because your website is probably an online brochure, limiting, perhaps even repelling, connection. Do these things well, and your site will have the mechanics to allow, even foster, connection. (These are mechanical steps, not social engineering, which is a subject for a different marketing-based post.)

The-Machine

Quick and dirty, not necessarily in order of importance unless otherwise stated.

Continue reading “Turning Your Website Into a Connection Machine”


How Not to Throw a Mess Over the Transom; or, Who Cares More, You or Your Editor?

the-best-part-of-waking-upMy finger hovered over the mouse button, ready to click “Send” and turn That She is Made of Truth over to Tom for editing.

But wait; there’s more!

Rather than tossing a soiled manuscript over the transom and letting Tom wipe it down before he even begins work, why not tidy it up myself, and let him spend his time doing what he does best?

I always run my manuscripts through AutoCrit before asking anyone else to work with them. It’s the least I can do (and sometimes, the least is exactly what I do.)

Continue reading “How Not to Throw a Mess Over the Transom; or, Who Cares More, You or Your Editor?”


Think Like a Writer (You Want This Book)

Think-Like-a-WriterMy friend, sometime lyricist, and most excellent editor Tom Bentley has finally released a book on writing.

Think Like a Writer: How to Write the Stories You See is both practical and entertaining. Much like its author, come to think of it.

I’ll let Tom tell you about it:
Continue reading “Think Like a Writer (You Want This Book)”


In Praise of Robert McKee’s “Story”

In the past few years I have started, but not finished:

  1. A coming of age story with a strong musical element
  2. The first mystery in a new series with a rather artistic protagonist
  3. The first mystery in a new series with a female protagonist
  4. A Jeeves & Wooster/P. G. Wodehouse-inspired light comedy with a mysterious twist.

They are unfinished, not because they aren’t good, but because I didn’t know how to make the last 1/3 (or 1/2 or 2/3) as good as what was already written.

Not because I don’t know how to use words. Never been a problem. I was reading at college level when I started Kindergarten back in the Jurassic Era.

What I didn’t know was, once you start building a bridge of story from over here and it spans half the chasm, how do you keep it from collapsing into the ravine until you can make it land over there?

In other words, what is the structure of a story?

Continue reading “In Praise of Robert McKee’s “Story””


Another Structure: Shawn Coyne’s Story Grid

As a story structure geek, I’ve been thrilled to learn from Larry Brooks over at Storyfix.

And just as thrilled to discover the work of Shawn Coyne, by way of Steven Pressfield’s site.

An acquisitions editor for a million years, Shawn knows what it takes for a book to succeed. He knows what makes a story work, which is, as Larry keeps saying, the bare minimum, the ante, for this game. And he’s teaching it, a bit at a time, at StoryGrid.com.

The image below is the story grid for Silence of the Lambs which, though I have not indulged in either book or movie, is a classic example of story done right, according to Shawn.

Continue reading “Another Structure: Shawn Coyne’s Story Grid”


Catherine, Caffeinated: Self-Printed 3.0

selfprintedsplashbadgeCatherine Ryan Howard taught me how to do a Goodreads giveaway, among other things. Wanna know what she can teach you? Here’s a single Q&A with Catherine, and down below, the scoop on the latest edition of her book Self-Printed: The Sane Person’s Guide to Self-Publishing.

I asked: Is there any specific data on the ROI for freebies? I’m curious about data like “100 copies given away results in 13 reviews and 3 copies sold” or some such nonsense. Separated by fiction and nonfiction. Also, what’s your opinion on whether such data would have any practical value?

Continue reading “Catherine, Caffeinated: Self-Printed 3.0”


Bringing Some Reality to Your Writing

Science tries to deal with what’s real, to identify and label and if possible rule out the imaginary, illogical, impossible.

Sometimes science bothers people with little facts like gravity being the weakest force in the known universe. The only thing that keeps us from flying off into space as the earth turns (moving 1,000mph at the equator but slower near the poles) is that the earth is so huge that the tiny pull of gravity is amplified enough to keep us pinned.

Earth spinning: at the equator, a spot moves 24,000 miles in 24 hours. Simple math: 1,000mpg.

About 8 feet from the geographic pole, you could draw a circle 24 feet around. Stand (float) in one spot, and make the 24-foot trip in the same 24 hours.

That spot is moving 1 foot per hour. The bit at the equator is going 5,280,000 times as fast (1,000mph = 5,280,000 feet per hour.)

structure
Continue reading “Bringing Some Reality to Your Writing”


An Offer You Can’t Refuse

Special edition post; I’ll keep it brief and direct.

Get a free digital copy of A Long, Hard Look at Story Cartel. Write a review, and you’re entered to win a print copy.

More importantly (to me) you’ll be spreading the word about my writing, and giving me honest feedback on my latest book.

Don’t say no.

Download it right here: http://storycartel.com/books/a-long-hard-look/


Your Book’s Best Presentation: PubML

The Blue MonkMany authors dream of including audio, video, interactive maps and more in their digital books. Alas, even color photos aren’t supported by all eReaders.

Twenty years into the internet age, how come books don’t live on the web?

Thanks to PubML, today they do.

And it’s going to change digital publishing forever for those of us who love books. Continue reading “Your Book’s Best Presentation: PubML”


Where Do You Get Information and Inspiration?

catching up on our readingReading a couple of Dave Bricker‘s excellent posts and Tom Bentley‘s newsletter I realized I don’t have much of what they used to call a “blogroll” around here. Must attend to that.

Besides Dave’s and Tom’s, the three I drop everything to read the instant there’s something posted are Larry Brooks’ storyfix, Steve Pressfield, and Rosanne Bane’s Bane of Your Resistance which is one of the best blog titles on the web.

In the meantime, tell me: what blogs are on your “must read” list, your “drop everything” list, your “catch up when I have a few minutes” list?


Wanna Sell Books? Learn Marketing from the Master, Seth Godin

Most of you don’t know how marketing should be done.

It’s not your fault. You’ve seen it done wrong your whole life (especially if you’re my age and grew up in front of a television.)

We confused the possible correlation between Coke ads on TV and the Coke in our fridge with a causation: ad => purchase.

If you intend to sell books, you’re going to do marketing.

In order to succeed, you have to do marketing right.

Nobody knows marketing like Seth does. Nobody.

He’s doing his second online Skillshare marketing class soon. Read about it at his website or at Skillshare.

For $16 you can get a million dollars’ worth of knowledge. Learn at your own pace. Soak in it.

An Online Skillshare Class by Seth Godin