Author’s Journal – 12-20-19

It’s been a lazy writing week since my last post, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been working on the project.

1. I got kicked in the face by the flu. Knocked me out for two days, and it’s about the only thing that keeps me from putting any thought into my work. Through the fever and lethargy, I did manage one related thought, however: I wonder when my print order will be complete?

2. Turns out, it was done in a day. I work for Thomson Reuters, and our Copy Center gives us a nice deal on personal printing. I ordered six copies of the 373-page manuscript and had them spiral bound with plastic covers. They’re now taking up considerable space on our table as I prepare some mailings.

Wonder Woman pushes buttons

3. I connected with a Trusted Reader who’s in the home stretch. He’s now reached the chapters that I split in half, based on his direction (read more here: Difficult Choices #1).

4. Did some more lit agent research. I’ve had two friends send me agents to look up, which is much appreciated. Now that I’m on my holiday break – from the office job – I’ll be spending more time on this….

5. ….and a smidge of time on the next book. This will likely result in updates to this website since information on Samor is scant.

6. I upgraded my WordPress account, which I’d been considering for a while. There was a sale – in December, what? – so I finally pulled the trigger. Primarily, I did this because of the ads my site displays. My pages look different when I’m logged in, and it’s jarring when I open the site when I’m logged out. So, I’m taking some control over the appearance of ads. I have zero expectations of income. I Just wanted fewer ads greeting a visitor.

I write posts like this to illustrate that bringing a book to life is more than just writing. Are the things I listed above requirements for success? I have no opinion based on experience, but I’ll guess “no”. Every writer’s journey is unique, even if we follow similar paths for a time. It’s the effort that’s important, and only each person can evaluate whether tasks like these are adding value to their project.

Mike


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© Michael Wallevand, December 2019

12 Content Tips To Make Consumers Love You

I’m a product marketing manager by day, which means I spend a considerable portion of my time reading, writing, reviewing, editing, and giving feedback on content (judgment-free!). As such, I have regular opportunities to witness great – and not so great – ways of presenting written content to consumers. Sometimes of my own creation.

Here are twelve items that might help you with your content strategy, whether you’re marketing your book or a widget you sell. I originally assembled this list four years ago, and these tips are as true today as they were then.


1. Is your content bragging about your abilities and services?

  • Consumers want to trust you. But people are turned off by content that’s mostly sales pitch or just talks about how great your book is.
  • Quality content shows that you understand your audience’s needs, not just your own abilities.

2. Did you focus more on SEO keywords than quality content?

keyword stuffing, keyword stuffing and yes, keyword stuffing

  • As a writer and someone in the online marketing biz, this content stands out to me like Waldo in a penguin colony. It’s repetitive and reads like the writer just bought a thesaurus: Do you like to travel to exotic places? How would you like a vacation to an unexplored world? Here at Journeyman Travel, we can jet you off to distant lands! You’ll voyage to foreign countries in one of our exclusive Exotic Vacation Destination packages! That is a content turkey stuffed with artificially-flavored keywords.
  • To avoid unnatural-sounding sentences, write for humans, not computers. Quality content that engages people will build authority and trust, something that search engines reward. Learn more about Semantic Search.

Continue reading

The Book’s New Working Title

A 750-word post for those who want a peek into the thought process – in the loosest sense of the term – that a writer puts into naming his first book.

I’ve probably renamed the book a dozen times in the last three years.

At first, I just needed SOMETHING, because I’m writing a book and a book needs a title. It wasn’t even a full title, but sometimes the Muse won’t let you progress until you’ve checked off that box She wants filled. So I’ve named and re-named, never finding something I loved; always promising to figure it out later. I usually followed the typical pattern you see in a book series: “The Lost Princess and the Descriptive-words-that-will-intrigue-readers”. I like the style and I’ll admit I’m heavily influenced by the Harry Potter series, though you’ll see it these excellent series, too: Percy Jackson, Skulduggery Pleasant, and The Spook’s Apprentice (US version shown here).

Unfortunately, I’d been imposing some confusion upon myself, and I just hadn’t been able to get past it. Because I was too in love with my own idea.

Continue reading

Sharing your other work at work

I work for Thomson Reuters, and in January, our brand marketing team solicited responses from employees around the world. They regularly showcase the people who define our culture, and in this instance, they were interested in our activities outside the office. Since I’m passionate about writing – and <cough> always looking for an opportunity to share and connect with others – I wrote the following submission. Somehow, I managed to keep it under 300 words, which is nearly impossible for a writer writing about the book he’s writing.

Anyhoo, without further ado or digression, here it is: Continue reading

Is This Blog Still On?

This quick post will take about a minute to read. It’s an attempt to return to a regular posting schedule.

There are, and will be, many recurring themes on this blog, among them: my love the English language, character development, human rights, and varying posts about writing, of course. These are all important to me and I love writing about them. But there’s another recurring theme that keeps turning up, like that pesky garbage-eating scrut that follows your caravan on a long journey to Evereign.

Neglecting the blog.

It’s a long recurring issue, going back ten years or so into other blogs I’ve managed. It’s not unique to me, either. Many blogs I’ve followed go through similar dry patches. Those who survive – and create large followings – always get back into it, devoting enough effort to assure subscribers they aren’t wasting their reading time.

My current neglect is two or three months.

The usual excuses abound: family, life, work, beautiful weather, the writing – all of these things take priority, as they do with most people. I think I also put too much effort into writing my posts, transforming the work into a chore. It appears I simply need to remove the ‘business writer’ hat to don the ‘social media writer’ one. Sigh.

I don’t expect this post to garner much interest. It’s more of a ‘Dear Diary’ kind of thing for Future Me to read as a cautionary tale. It’s also something I could kick out quickly over morning coffee while a sales report generates.

Tl;dr: Keep writing. Shoo, scrut!

–Michael


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© Michael Wallevand, July 2017

My Wagon Is Draggin’

sleepy.gif

This post is approximately 400 words. Weirdly written, stream-of-consciousness words.

The title is a synonym for being exhausted. Not to be confused with a dragon wagon, which is a concept I’ve been trying to fit into a story for years. But I digress before I’ve begun.

The household was restless last night. My wife caught whatever cold our youngest has. Our big dog, Atticus, seemed to be rotating his body on our bed in time with the hands of the clock. The smaller dog, Scout, scratched her bed regularly, looking for comfort. I’d moved 800 pounds of retaining wall bricks, so I had some complaining muscles that I forgotten were muscles.

This morning, I was in a fog. Honestly, it lasted most of the day. I buried myself in reporting at work, which meant minimal human interaction (i.e. fewer people to question whether I’d been replaced by a malfunctioning mandroid).

Can you tell I’m a bit punchy and sleep-deprived?

So, the point of this post is this: when your brain’s in a fog and you’re in the middle of writing a book, how does a person put forth the creative energy to work on the manuscript? Continue reading