Tuesday, May 27, 2008

City Slickers

Okay, show of hands. How many of you remember the movie City Slickers? A group of executives led by Billy Crystal become cowboys only their guide dies along the way.

Now you remember it, right!!

Well, I am from the city. I can use my brain to go to amazing worlds but...well, I'm not very handy. I always have great ideas of how to build and create things BUT the reality resembles more of preschoolers imitating modern art.

So today as I built a home for my daughters' ducks I could sympathize with these men from that movie.

And then I remembered "The One Thing." When Curly held up his gloved finger and said "You find the One thing."

Normally that would cause me to reflect but today I was thinking ducks and blogs. It occured to me. When we are trying to get our books in to the hands of readers WE need to think about that "One Thing" too.

What is that "One Thing" that will appeal to a particular group of readers?
What is the "One Thing" I want a potential reader to know about my book?
What is the "One Thing" I want to accomplish with my story?

If you think about these questions [and likely more will follow. This is just to get you started.] You will find yourself building a marketing plan that will strengthen not only your sales but also your story even before it goes to press.

So think about it. What is the "One Thing"?

I'd like to invite you to visit Writer's Rest. I have recently been added to the roster of bloggers there. This blog is designed to teach various aspects of writing, marketing, etc. I'd love for you to visit on a few different days [I post on Tuesdays each week. Check the archives for the list of other posters.] then come back and tell us what you thought of the blog in the comments section.

I hope you are remaining focused on your 2008 writing goals. Now that we're entering the summer it is time for you to begin to reassess your goals and plans.

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter

Friday, May 23, 2008

Honoring those who have helped us get here.

Since it is the beginning of the holiday weekend I want to take a moment to reflect. Monday is Memorial Day, a day we remember the soldiers who died protecting us. It is also a day to remember those who have died over this last year.

On this Friday of Memorial Day I'm thinking about the people who helped me get to where I am. I have had parents, my husband, teachers and my kids all support me in my dream.

Some I've told you about [Like Mr. Meister]. His single sentence "Become Famous Someday"-scribbled inside a book 17 years ago has been the inspiration of a good portion of my writing career.

There was my family [husband, kids, parents] who were there in the trenches with me. They read the various drafts of all of my stories. They played quietly while mommy worked. They supported me and reminded me of my dream every time I wanted to give up.

I wanted to say THANK YOU to all of you. Thank you for pushing me in my dream. Thanking for believing I could do it. [And thank you for keeping a straight face through some of those drafts.]

On this Memorial Friday, take a minute to thank those who have carried you through the tough times. I don't plan to post Monday so that everyone can spend time with their families, but I will see all of you Tuesday. Have a WONDERFUL weekend with those you love, and who love you!!

I have to go. I have writing to do.

Your Coach for the Journey. Tiffany Colter.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A chance to learn

Well, I finally did it. I decided to run a special class.

I have been knocking around the idea for a few weeks now. I taught a class in Feb with the Christian PEN [Professional Editor's Network] on building an editing business. It was SO much fun.

I've also taught classes in the past for ACFW [where I served a year as their online course coordinator].

I will also be teaching for the Christian PEN in July [this time on time management].

So I finally decided to teach an online course through the Writing Career Coach. I'm super excited about it because it's something I haven't taught anywhere else before in a course loop setting. There are two different courses, both will run at the same time. Here are the details

The classes will be an online courses that will run for 4 weeks starting June 1st. Since I know it is end of the year craziness there will only be one lesson a week [with a homework assignment] and the rest of the week will be discussion time. It will be done in a loop format so I will answer questions and everyone will see the answers. I will also comment on each person's assignment so we can all learn together. [If you're shy and would like to have me comment privately, we can arrange that too.]

The two classes are:

Writing Career Coach: Part 1
Writing Career Coach: Part 2 [this hasn't even been released yet. You will be the first ones to see it.]

You can get details of what will be taught by going to the website using this link.

I want everyone who wants to to be able to participate so the total 1 month class is only $10. If you are subscribed to the blog it is only $7. If you'd like to take both courses it is only $15 or only $10 if you subscribe to the blog. [It's free to subscribe. Simply follow this link.]

To register send me an email through the website's contact page. In the email tell me which course you want to register for and which email address to send the paypal invoice to [sorry, I can only do paypal invoices for payment.] To qualify for the "subscriber discount" let me know the email address that you subscribed to the blog under [so I can check it against my subscriber list.]

I will invoice and then send you the link to the online course when the balance is paid. I'm really excited about both of these classes. I think you will learn a good deal from them.

I will also be releasing a "conference prep" special in the next few days. It will include a critique of the first 3 chapters [12,000 words] of your MS, help with a query and one sheet and 1 hour of phone consultation. Basically, everything you should need to get you ready to go to conference with confidence! [If you want to know about it before I release the info then you can use my contact page on my website to email me.]

Whether you take advantage of these opportunities, or those offered by others, take some time this summer to build your writing business. Do SOMETHING!

I have to go, I'm putting the finishing touches on the courses.

Your Coach for the Journey. Tiffany Colter

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Chance, Opportunity, Fate

Today I want to think about three words: Chance, Opportunity and Fate.

I've heard this word used often when people are talking about something they should have done. It will be expressed in stories "I had a chance once to be something great, but...." I've been guilty of that myself. Many people I know in my day-to-day life don't know I have a blog that has been read by thousand's of people or that I coach writer's or that I've won awards. They know me as "the mom of the 4 girls". They see me in my ponytail with mommy jeans and no makeup. Just another mom in the crowd. Nothing special.

Every once in a while I start to feel a need to prove myself and I say "Well, I had a chance to work with a group from Princeton on a research project in Eastern Europe but I passed it up because I didn't want to change my wedding date." But as I have now been married more than 10 years I realize how pathetic it is to point back to that. I guess by inflating what we COULD HAVE BEEN, it helps us look better to ourselves on the days when we feel like a failure.

This word I've heard in reference to things that could happen in the future, many times with a hint of skepticism. This has been the case with my friend who is putting on the essay contest and is giving away a house as the prize. She had someone write a really scathing blog about the contest [the blogger nearly called the contest a FRAUD]. People will look at what could be a great opportunity [imagine paying $50, winning the house and then auctioning it off for $50,000. THAT is what I call a return on your money!] And pass it by. Unfortunately, most people won't see it as a potential way to pay off their own house, or start a new life for themselves. They'll say in a few years "I once had a chance to win a house for $50." And then say something like "I guess Fate was against me."

This poor word gets the blame for our own inaction. "It must not have been my turn" or a dark muttered "Fate" while shrugging ones shoulders. When will we stop blaming this four letter word for our complete lack of intestinal fortitude?? When will we decide our own fate? When will we take that chance, recognize that opportunity and live our dreams??

I decided a while back that I wanted to be the best I could be. That may not mean the absolutely best that exists-but it does mean being the best that Tiffany can be. I am amazed at the accomplishments of other humans. They have overcome amazing odds, fought overwhelming battles and accomplished miraculous things. The one thing most of these people have in common is a complete unwillingness to give themselves an excuse.

Last year my husband and I faced the possibility of losing everything. He'd just finished battling cancer which had not only ravaged his body physically, but had drained all of our savings and put us SUBSTANTIALLY in debt. During this time we sat down and watched the Will Smith movie "Pursuit of Happyness". We had almost no food, the engine in our only vehicle was dead and we were being told that we could lose our home. What cancer hadn't taken, the aftershock looked like it would.

As we watched the movie my hubby said "Why do I want to watch this. I'm just watching my life." It was so true, that it hurt. 4 kids, no money, no hope. But we didn't let that be the final word. We pushed hard and took advantage of opportunities given to us. We also decided to pursue happyness [happy-ness]. That isn't happiness as in Joy. I have decided that it really is the decision to be happy! A state of being happy, despite the 'ness' around you. [homelessness, joblessness, moneylessness, sickness, whatever-else-ness]

Will Smith's character faced impossible odds, but he didn't give up. He pushed harder, because he had to. Failure cost too much!

So as you're pursuing your writing dream think about these three words and decide which one you're allowing to control your future. Then take control back, and move ahead!

I have to go, I have a victory lap to run!!

Your Coach for the journey. Tiffany Colter

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The contradiction of humanity

I imagine by now a good number of you have received your stimulus payments. I have been thinking about these and I have some thoughts to share on them.

"I thought this was a writing/marketing blog!!" You are likely saying.

Stick with me. One thing writing and marketing have in common is the need to study human behavior and that is what I'm going to share with you now.

In the months leading up to the release of checks I heard many people saying "These won't help the economy. People are going to use them on fuel." I heard commentators reporting on the changing verbage of the President, from talking of stimulus to talking about relief from the pump sticker shock. I also heard news reports citing statistics saying that the majority of people would be using their rebates for paying bills or paying down debts.

I truly never believed it.

I know one thing about humans. [Yes, I am one but for the time being I'm trying to leave my humanity behind in order to study them.] Many of them are well intentioned but they can't resist a bargain. No doubt many people looked around them a month or two ago and said "There is no way I'm going to spend this on junk. I'm going to get out of the situation I'm in." But once the $1,200 check was in their hands....it was a different story. Suddenly they wanted to do "just a little splurge." Until the sales started attacking their TV!! Oh my the REBATE deals! Even our local grocery stores have deals. When you buy $300-$600 or $1,200 in gift cards you get an additional 10% of the purchase price FREE. So a $300 gift card is actually valued at $330. They call it a 10% return on your rebate!

I am willing to bet that a good number of people will end up spending most of their rebate on "Fun" stuff.

Now, how does this apply to your writing?? Encorporate this kind of behavior in to your own characters as you write! They may have the best of intentions to get themselves out of a bad situation but first they want to do "just one thing." A woman may decide to go say goodbye to that no-good boyfriend, and she ends up walking in on a murder. Maybe they have some money that they really want to give to a family in need, but keep putting it off. Then they find out that the family has lost everything and is moving away to live with family.

Add these ideas of plans contradiction reality [or even logic]. It will make your characters more real and your stories much more interesting.

I have to go, I have outlining to do!

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter

Monday, May 19, 2008

Not Applicable

Okay confession time. I love paperwork.

I don't mean I just like filling in forms and filing and alphabetizing...I mean I LOVE paperwork. So the term "Not Applicable" [or the shortened version NA] is one you'll hear me say often.

Think about when you fill in a form and it asks you a question. You're given the choice between Yes-No-Not Applicable.

I have to be honest, I usually try to find a way to make it applicable to me. I'm such a student of nuance [probably because I'm a writer] that I need to feel that various things apply to me.

You own a farm. Yes-No-NA

Well, technically I don't really own a farm, however, my neighbor is a farmer and we do have cats outside that catch mice, two dogs and 4 ducks. So, I'd have to say "All of the above.

This spills over in to my life. When someone asks me to help our or participate in activities I try to find a way, somehow. Yes, it means I can get over-committed, which then leads to frustration, but I don't want to feel like I'm missing something. My mom tells me that even as a toddler I would be up from early in the morning until 11pm or later [without a nap] because I never wanted to miss anything.

And then in my stories....AHHH. I dump so much in to my stories that sometimes the poor reader must stop and say "I think I could have figured that out without you pointing out the obvious!"

So think about the term NA as you do your writing, marketing and platform development. As you're writing and editing your story, keep a file titled "Deleted Scenes" and if something is NA then REMOVE IT. Put it in your deleted scenes folder, and move on. Your story will be better for it.

If you're trying to create a marketing platform or strategy, understanding NA will keep you from wasting precious time and marketing dollars.

Don't be like I am when I fill out forms, reluctant to choose NA on anything. Be merciless and give an honest assessment of where you are, where you need to be and how you'll get there. Doing so will save you precious time and precious marketing dollars.

Embrace the NA.

I have to go. I have writing to do.

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter

Thursday, May 15, 2008

But Why?


As a mom of 4 girls I've been through various stages with my children. There was the "Me" stage, the "No" stage, the "Mine" stage and so many others. With a couple of my girls we are firmly in the "But Why?" Stage.

While it can be very frustrating to have every decision I make challenged daily by a child, I try to remember that they're not trying to be critical-they're trying to understand.

Last week I encouraged all of you to work on your writing. I told you about a problem I was having with my heroine. Well, despite an insane week full of ballet, theater and teaching [my girls are in ballet and theater] I managed to squeeze in a little time to think about my character. And I solved the problem. It all came down to "But Why?"

Let me backtrack just slightly. When I was at ACFW conference last September Colleen Coble, a Romantic Suspense Author, was teaching on writing....suspense [duh]. What was cool is I realized that my brain worked very much like Colleen's [good news for me, sorry Colleen :-) ]. She went around a room of probably 100 people and asked them to talk about their WIP [Work in Progress]. I told her about a MS I was pitching while I was there.

Colleen: Why does Shannon do this?
Me: Because she is jealous of Nicki
Colleen: But why?
Me: Because Nicki had the opportunity she never had.
Colleen: But why?
Me: because Shannon's parents didn't see a future in real estate.
Colleen: But why?
Me: I don't know.
Colleen: Find out.

This week as I was trying to work on the problem with my character I remembered what Colleen had said about asking WHY. The phrase "But Why?" can deepen not only your characters, but your plot.

But why should the reader care?
But why does the hero/heroine care?
But why is this happening now?
But why is this affecting this person in this way?
But why is this [minor] character involving themself in the hero/heroine's problem?

Are you starting to see how this can help your writing?

And since I am passionate about Marketing you can ask yourself the EXACT same question when you are trying to create a marketing plan for your books. As amazing as it is, people will not simply fall all over themselves to purchase your book-simply because it has appeared on a shelf. [I know! It is hard to believe.] So by asking the "But Why?" question on your books and on your marketing you can take characters, plots...and Marketing much deeper.

I have to go. I have questions to ask.

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

It's the Little Things

Hello and Happy Tuesday.

I was looking over my traffic numbers last week and I learned something funny.

You guys are morning people!!

Wow, how did I get so many people that like to wake up with the birdies?

Do you know how I know this? Well, last week I tried an experiment. Nearly every day last week I posted a blog BEFORE 9:30am [some days right at 9:30am] instead of the usually late morning posting.

Would you believe my traffic TRIPLED??? I was shocked.

I knew that I'd seen a steady increase in traffic the earlier in the day I posted but, being a night owl, I don't alway get to post my blog early in the morning. that requires me getting up early enough to get breakfast, start school with the kids, and get my blog all done-before 9:30am. Tough when you've been up until 2am writing the night before!

But I found out that Blogger now has it where you can write your blogs and SCHEDULE THEM!! How cool is THAT!?!?!

So that's what I did. Last Sunday night I wrote my blogs for Mon-Wed and scheduled them to go up each day before 9:30am. And THREE TIMES as many of you read the blog as usual. In fact, we shot past the 4,000 hit count without me noticing it. Amazing. Since the last week of September there have been almost 4,100 hits to this blog. 3,100 of those in 2008.

So, find out about your demographic, whether blogs or books, and make adjustments wherever possible. For me, I now find it easier to write a few of my blogs Sunday night before the Chaos of my week hits. And then schedule them.

For those of you who were looking for the time to blog, maybe you've just found it?

Remember, it is the little things that can mean the difference in your writing business. Little word choices. Little plot twists. and in marketing, little things like scheduling your blogs to post before 9am.

I have to go! I have reading to do.

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter

Monday, May 12, 2008

Economic Downturn = Opportunity to Grow


Well, it may seem that I'm starting this week on a fairly sour note, but rest assured. I'm not.

In fact, I was reflecting this weekend on the times when I've really made huge strides in my life and, for the most part, they were during periods of NEED. Yep-despite what I always thought, I wrote best when I had a need.

When I NEEDED to get the story out of my mind.
When I NEEDED to sell an article to buy groceries.
When I NEEDED to believe in my gift of writing again.

Right now Economic Downturns are in the news. Despite a slow growth in the first quarter, most people believe we are in a recession. But I never was one to go with the flow. I am a marketing person and I seek to keep my eye to trends, but I don't allow them to dictate my future to me.

That is part of my personality. I did great in college, graduating with a 3.9 cum GPA from the Honors College at my university, simply because in my first term when I got a 3.4 in my first term someone told me that I'd never get a higher GPA.

I guess I like proving people wrong.

So what about you? Do you allow circumstances and the market to DICTATE TO you, or do you take the information you learn from the market and apply it to your strengths to make you stronger?

Think about it. Truly, understanding whether you use circumstances as information or as an excuse will make a huge difference in where you end up.

I have to go. I have writing to do.

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Special Blog Astro Socks

For those of you who don't know, my oldest daughter Caitie does book reviews of Children's books. She is currently a fourth grader, at least for another month, and she gives a kid's review of new books. Her reviews appear both on this website and on Novel Reviews. This book is a self-published book and she enjoyed it very much.

So now, a book review of Astro Socks by Leigh M. Le Creux.

Hi Welcome back to Caitie's Corner

Today I'm going to tell you about a book called Astro Socks. It's about a boy, Chris. Before his tenth birthday he got a little sister named Rachel. Chris was called "Mr. Intensity". When Rachel was in her bouncy thing her socks always came off. Chris tries to figure it out but he gets seen.

But good things happen. It's about changes and to follow your dream.

Bye for now, Caitie.

You Should read this. It's awesome.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Little Milestones

So it is Friday.

What do you have planned this weekend? Do you have a great book that you're looking forward to reading? Maybe you're going to dig in to that manuscript you've been writing.

Here's what I'd suggest you do before you leave the office. Write your goals for the next seven days.

Yep, what are you going to do this one week that is going to advance your writing career? I'm not talking about writing a full book, but make the commitment to get something accomplished. I'm reworking the plot on a novel that I'm writing. One problem I'm having is with the heroine. The opening I have with her right now is a little too slow and muted for the intensity of book. So as I write the scenes with the other characters-I'm going to be working this week to really grab the reader in the opening scenes with the heroine.

I'll let you know next week how it goes.

I have to go now. I have brainstorming to do.

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Peeking behind the curtain


Sorry for the delay in posting. I'm fighting a bit of a bug and my energy level is tapped out. But I wanted to take a few minutes today to continue our talk.

First, some exciting news. I received word earlier this week that I was listed as an "Up and Coming" blog on the junta 42. You'll see the icon to the right of this posting. The link will take you to the listing [I was the 4th highest marketing blog that taught on Copywriting]. Junta judges marketing blogs based on a list of 5 criteria. To be recognized as a top source of marketing information was truly an honor. You can find out more about their criteria by reading their full press release.

I should be gracious and say "It is an honor to be nominated" but I have to be honest...making the list was really cool. :-)

I remember when I arrived at ACFW Conference last year and learned that I was among a group of people nominated for the award "Mentor of the Year". I didn't know what the "Mentor" ribbon they'd given me at sign-in even meant so I thought nothing of it. Then as the conference moved on I found out. I was so choked up that I called my husband and nearly cried. To be recognized like that was TRULY an honor to be nominated.

Today I want to talk to you about "Peeking behind the Curtain". Of course, this phrase brings images of the Wizard of Oz to many people "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain." And that is the imagery I want you to have.

Many writers approach editors and agents like Dorothy and her gang did the Wizard. Their stomaches are tight with fear and they walk hesitantly. Their breathing is in short bursts-despite every effort to slow it down.

They walk in to the room where the editors and agents are sitting at a table smiling, but they might as well be a gigantic green head on the wall surrounded by smoke and fire. Hesitantly they stutter out the one sentence blurb on their book that they've memorized...then they wait.

The head says "Bring me the broomstick of the wicked witch of the west". Okay, not really. They may say "Bring me a proposal and three sample chapters." [Why don't they ever faint with excitement and simply offer you a book contract on the spot???]

So you leave the room and regroup with your friends. You prepare the proposal, slay that "wicked witch" of fear and self-doubt...and you take it back to the Wizard.

But just as Dorothy, the Tin Man, Scarecrow and Lion learned...even with a broomstick, the Wizard can't always give you what you want. Many people do not get that elusive book contract. The Editor or Agent may only be able to pin an award on you, give you a word of encouragement, or offer you a ride on their balloon [mentorship]. That is because, just like Dorothy, the answer is with you all along. You need to work with what you have and have confidence in your ability. Don't give up. Dorothy missed the balloon ride-but still made it home.

So I encourage you to peek behind the curtain today. Realize that your given more than "One Shot" at this writing dream. The editors and agents are not Large Evil Heads...Actually they are kind people who-just like the man behind the curtain-truly want to help you see the gift that is already inside you. But they can't do it for you. They may send you back out to do what seems impossible [like the wizard did in requesting the broomstick] but in so doing they help you dig deeper and find your true potential, true gifting and make you a better writer.

The Cowardly Lion learned he truly was courageous.
The Tin Man learned he really did have a heart.
The Scarecrow learned he really did have brains.
And hopefully you'll work long enough to see you really are an Author.

I have to go now. I have resting to do.

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Writer's Block

So I've been digging through some best selling books of the last decade or so and I've learned quite a bit in that time. I decided that many of you would benefit from this knowledge and so I'm going to post a summary here of things I learned over these last two months, not from writing classes, but by reading great books.

I've called this Writer's Block because I hope you will make these the building blocks of your own writing.

1. Writers add emotional reactions to every sensory experience.

Wow, that sounds really technical doesn't it? What I mean is they don't simply describe the scene "The rain drops pooled on his window and slid down." Rather what they do is they attach an emotion with it from the character's point of view. This has a huge impact on the way a reader sees the story. Compare the examples below:

A Farmer
The rain drops pooled on his window and slid down. Relief washing over him, he walked back to his table. His crops would be safe. He threw open the back door and breathed in the scent of earthworms and wet dirt but resisted the urge to dance in the rain.

A woman waiting for her husband to get home from an errand
The rain drops pooled on her window and slid down. It had been seventeen minutes since the cell phone dropped the call. She'd told him not to take route twelve. It always washed out with the slightest rain. Panic reached in her chest and squeezed her heart. She let the curtains fall back in to place and picked up a cup of tea with a shaky hand. She'd give him five more minutes before she called the cops.

A person afraid of the evil person coming for them.
The rain drops pooled on her window and slid down. She was certain she'd seen his outline in the last bolt of lightening. Fear intensified her senses and every sound amplified. Every drop of rain that hit the glass, every thud of her heart. She resisted the urge to step closer to the glass, to see clearer. If she could see him-then he'd see her. She took a step back in the dark. Pain shot through her foot and she stumbled back, reaching for anything close. She fell hard on the couch and lifted her foot. A thumbtack...

Okay, none of these are GREAT Prose. Some of them are downright bad, but I wanted you to see a bit of the physical and the emotional.

2. Writers create a sense of "it could happen to anyone"
This can be difficult but the really great books that I've read all have this element. Here is a person going along in their routine when the mundane transforms in to the extraordinary.
In "Three" by Ted Dekker, a guy simply answers his cell phone-and his life is turned upside down.
In "Winner Take All" by T. Davis Bunn, it is a man meeting with his ex-wife.
In "Watchers" by Dean Koontz, it is a man taking a hike.
In "No one to Trust" by Iris Johanson, it is a man doing his job.
In "Pompeii" {I forgot the author's name} it is a man repairing an Aqueduct.

In all of those stories people were going along doing nothing really outside of their routine when SUDDENLY something throws everything on its ear!! Watchers is among the best at demonstrating this. If you can get the book, I would.

3. Writers create simultaneous, seemingly unconnected, stories and then pull them together.
This is what I found MOST interesting as I studied great books. I've noticed many books introduce "the cast" at the opening of the book. What makes a book GREAT, however, is when this cast seems interesting in their own right and seem to have absolutely nothing to do with the other people. Then, as if pulling the string on a sack, suddenly these stories and lives begin to connect in mundane ways. You see the connection and get the sense of destiny-it heightens the tension because you know SOMETHING is going to happen. But WHEN!!!

There are many other things, but these are a few that I've begun to really work in to my story lines to create richer plots and deeper characters.

Would some of you like to share some of the great pieces of advice you've received on writing? If so, put it in the comments section.

I have to go now, I have creating to do.

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Tools of the Trade

Yesterday I talked about having people who believe in your dream to support you. Today I want to give you a few tools that I've been using as I work through revisions of my writing.

The key to believable writing, whether fiction or non-fiction, is to have excellent research. I believe one great tool is Google Earth. For anyone with a high speed connection, this website gives you the ability to look at the actual area you book is set in. While not perfect, it does help if you are not able to travel to the area where you need to go.

Another great tool is the Flip Dictionary. A thesaurus is an important tool but the flip dictionary is helpful when you don't know the word that you don't know. Last night I was trying to think of various words to describe trees, plants, and other growing things. I am not a person who is good with plants. In fact, I read a line in a book about a person who not only "killed plants. But plants committed suicide when they saw him coming." Well, that is me. That means this dictionary was GREAT to help me find word based on descriptions.

I use a modified version of Randy Ingermanson's Snowflake method. In fact, the method I'd created was almost identical to his. When I bought the program I was shocked that my mind works so much like such a smart guy!! So if you need structure to your story, his is a great resource.

Of course, Writing the Breakout Novel is a must have on any serious writer's bookshelf.

But all these things cost money!!!

Yes, that's true but these are really tools of the trade. Some of them might be available at a library. You might be able to use other versions [like a Thesaurus]. But since I'm a writing career coach and I want to help you with your career, these are the kinds of things I suggest you begin to gather.

Finally, get three or four books from your local library [mine are all books on tape] and pour through them in as rapid succession as possible. If you can believe it I read 4 books last week and I'm on track to finish 3 this week. This has not only made housework MUCH more enjoyable, it has also RECREATED my books. I've learned a great deal about layering and depth in books by doing this. I've also learned what kinds of things turn readers off. It has been fascinating!

I'll talk about more about that tomorrow. Hope to see you then!!

I have to go. I have writing to do!!

Your coach for the journey, Tiffany Colter

Monday, May 5, 2008

United in Vision

I spent a good deal of time this last weekend working on collaboration projects in addition to my regular article writing and Novel writing. During these extra busy times I like to sit down at the end of the day to talk to my husband. The guy is really smart when it comes to marketing. He reads as more marketing and business development books as I do Marketing and reading books combined. That makes him a really great person to bounce ideas off of. I am also blessed that, for the most part, he is honest with me when I write something REALLY awful.

I also got an email from a friend of mine. We check in with each other a few times a week [or every single day when we're trying to hide from our to-do lists. Right Susan :-) ] She was checking in, encouraging me, telling me what she's working on, and warned me about a problem with my email getting kicked back.

I got a text message with someone I'm collaborating with. He was telling me some exciting news that lifted my spirits on a day when I knew I was going to spend an entire afternoon in a lonely corner of a library trying to get a few things finished.

Next, I talked to a person that I'm writing a book with. We were trying to push through a small problem in our writing. We spent a few hours this weekend talking, then we prayed.

And now I'm sitting at my computer. I have so many things that I'm juggling and I'm always asked how I do it. I realized, it is because of all of these people, and so many more not mentioned, that I'm able to accomplish what I am. There's my mom who takes the kids for an evening or a fellow writer who looks at the 4th version of an opening, each almost the same as the previous, with as much enthusiasm as the first time. Countless people.

All united in a singular vision.

I realize that I've worked hard to get where I am. I've spent over 6 years studying my craft, learning marketing and business, tweaking, blogging, talking, crying, giving up...and starting again.

But what has really allowed me to move forward is that I have a group of people who are United in the Vision that I have. They kick me in the pants when I'm making up excuses, and they hold my hand when I'm terrified of failure. They lovingly say "I think you should rewrite this", and they honestly applaud when I win an award.

So to start out this new week, think about where your support system is. If you're not in a group I believe American Christian Fiction Writers, ACFW, is the BEST for anyone who wants to write fiction. I learned more there in the first six months than I had in the years prior to that.

Find a local writer's group [those of you in groups, please post their names in the comments section of this blog. I'd like for other members of this group to find you!!!]

Find someone to unite with you in your vision of being an author! That is what will help push you that last little bit-and could mean the difference between reaching your dreams, and almost reaching them.

And now, as Red Green would say, I'm pulling for you. We're all in this together!!

Your coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Writing for a house!

Well isn't this interesting?

Today I'm going to tell you about an interesting contest being put on by Pix n Pens. It is a writing contest where the prize is a HOME. Yes!! I'm serious. The winner of the "Small Town USA" contest will win a house in Selma, AL.

Here is information. [Small Town USA Contest]

I know the woman personally who is putting on this contest so I know it is legitimate. I'm actually thinking about entering.

I wanted to bring it to your attention because not only do I think it is a really cool contest [I mean seriously. You could win a HOUSE for writing a 500 word essay.] but it also goes back to thinking creatively about your writing business.

What kind of person would benefit from this contest? Who would not? What kind of interesting story lines could come from having something like this happen in one of your novels? How would you market something like this?

The One Month of Focus award winners for April will be announced soon [so get your score sheets in] and now is the time for the May people to sign up. You can win a free course or the entire Writing Career Coach Course Library. [Full details here].

I'd encourage you to look at those rebate checks the IRS is sending out and see if you could take $100 of it to turn your life around. One year ago this month I took $140 to turn my life around. Take some of what you've learned here. Buy a Writing Career Coach materials, sign up for the one month success program. Maybe you need craft? There are great resources on Randy Ingermanson's Fiction 101 or 201 programs [I make no $$ for the plug. Just information for you to use. He has helped my writing immensely.] You might need to create a website? Use what you learned here to do it. [Again, I make no money for the plug. It's who does my website.]

But don't let the moment of opportunity pass you by. Don't look in to the future with fear. Don't look at where you are now and settle!! Take a step forward. Whether you want to enter a contest for a house or a library of learning materials, take some classes to learn a new skill, get some coaching on your writing career, or simply a vacation.

Now is the time to move in the direction of your dreams. Take a step!

I'm pulling for you!! And best of luck.

Your coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter