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  1. Happy Hump Day Minions!! (Yes calling you few people who read this minion is growing on me.)

    Last week we talked about how and why using the CRAVE strategy can help you in your endeavors of worldly social media and marketing dominance. If you missed that blog, here's a handy link:

    Today's blog post is brought to you by forum member @Magus who kindly asked last week if I had ever done posts on Narrative specifics. I hadn't... so here we go!

    Narrative What the heck is it, and why does it matter to us as authors? Well, for those of you like me who aren't really in the know about spiffy writing terms, a narrative is your story. Easy right? Well, if it were, I wouldn't be doing a blog post about it, and none of us would be struggling to write.

    The narrative is made up of many (and I do mean MANY) different components like voice, point of view, style and devices to name a few. I've briefly touched on points of view in the past; style is also relatively straightforward. So today we'll be talking about voice.

    Voice is unique to each author. No two people think alike, and no two people see situations or events in the same way. This is why police have a hard time with multiple witnesses to a crime. You've probably seen this in your writing groups if you've ever participated in a group write in with a prompt or as a part of a themed compilation.

    So why is that important? Well, if you're ghostwriting for someone else, it can be a pain in the neck, especially if they already have parts of the story written. Sometimes as writers we are required to match someone else's voice, like in a collaborative effort. But beyond that, as a writer, it can be challenging to find your voice.

    But Corbyn, you just said everyone has their own unique voice.

    I did. But that doesn't mean that an author doesn't have to cultivate it. Everyone speaks and writes a certain way, but your voice is more than that, especially when telling the story of a character. This is something that I struggle with. Sometimes my characters come off to well spoken. I mean them to be, but not overly polished. Just a little bit better than a common thug. I tend to go excessively formal. I don't think of myself that way, but I realize that most of it is me coming off too loud when it should be the characters personality driving the story instead. Your voice also has to do with your willingness to use dialect, tone, and even how much violence or swearing you put into your writing. Cooler people call this edgy writing. (I'm not that cool.)

    It takes work in the form of editing and revision to dial these issues down, or change them. A retraining of your brain if you will. Sometimes I find that to be the hardest part. Retraining myself not to get in the way as I see the story section play out in my head. (I know that sounds a little weird, but I'm not mental... promise :p) I'd almost rather see the scenes play out because I know then that the character is driving the story, and it's coming naturally, not me forcing the writing.

    The bottom line when it comes to voice is that you have to practice the things that work for you until it becomes a habit. If it's a habit, then you'll have fewer issues in the long run with pesky problems like writer's block.

    And on that note minions, you'll be happy to know that our world domination plans are kicking into high gear. I'll be posting more frequently both here on the blog and to the novel workshop as I pluck away at my latest novel. I've gotta pay for your cookies and DSL somehow!

    As always, I hope you enjoyed reading this blog. If you feel like there is something you’d like to see me cover, or I haven’t covered correctly, please leave a comment below. Happy writing!


    Magus and awkwarddragon like this.
  2. In yesterdays post I went over how to ID and why you need a target audience. If you missed the piece, here's a handy link:

    So, you've got your target audience, now what? Yeah, they're essential, but how does that help you in marketing your latest endeavor? Today we'll be taking what we've learned a step further by discussing the CRAVE method and how it can help you take your social media to that next level.

    CRAVE is an acronym used for a set of five elements which can help you build and engage your social media audience, get around pesky algorithms, and make your platform all that it needs to be. These five strategies revolve around content, reliability, asking questions, providing value, and audience engagement.

    Content- As many of us know, not all content is created equal. It's evident everywhere you look online these days. Here in the forum, the endless sea of blog posts available, and so on. With so much information available online, it can become easy to fall through the cracks with your platform. The solution? Provide and become a source of quality content. The type of content that your reader actively seeks out. A few examples of this might be The Bangor Main Police Facebook page, their Sgt TC posts hilarious pieces that have become a staple online, and garner attention all over the country. The point is people actively seek out the page and don't necessarily wait to receive updates via their feeds for this page. TC achieved this by brandishing a razor-sharp wit while reciting overly fictionalized events, and by promoting the departments Duck of Justice. Twitter has many equally funny examples like Ryan Reynolds, and the list goes on.

    Reliability- I know this isn't my strong suit, but that's why it's on this list (which I didn't create btw). The problem for many of us is that to get to the point where people crave our posts/interaction we have to provide reliable content. It may not always be funny, but it should be consistent, and it should be on average good content. Everyone has a bad day, but you still need to post and stick to whatever your posting schedule is.

    Ask Questions- So much of social media marketing anymore is driven toward engagement, which we'll talk about later, but equally important is drawing your audience in. That goes hand in hand with feedback. It can make or break a platform if you don't have feedback from your audience. They also need to know that you care what they think. Asking questions starts a dialogue that will benefit both you and your audience innumerably.

    Value- Even in our digital world readers/audiences need a sense of value. They're giving you their time and attention in exchange for something that they hope will be of equal or greater value, usually knowledge of some kind. Know your audience, and always offer them something of value. This will also drive them to seek out your platform over others, and keep them coming back for more even if you aren't necessarily toppling their news feeds.

    Engagement- This is another biggie that I struggle with. Engaging people has been hard for me. But I'm learning that to engage a platform it means more than just trying to get a dialogue going. Sometimes it means letting your audience know that you're there for them. How do you do that? As we talked about yesterday, this step involves being active in the places where you are finding your readers to haunt most frequently. It could mean being more involved in a forum, local events, or in online groups. Where ever your target audience is, so should you be.

    As always, I hope you enjoyed reading this blog. If you feel like there is something you’d like to see me cover, or I haven’t covered correctly, please leave a comment below. Happy writing!


    Magus likes this.
  3. Hello readers! It's a been a while, and for that, I'm deeply sorry. I've been toying with post ideas and wanted to bring you all something of substance, not filler. And on that note, today I'll be tackling how to identify your target audience (and why you should).

    "Writers write first for themselves, and edit for their reader." -UNK

    I can't remember who said that, but it's true. Every one of us writes for our own reasons, usually ourselves, and then edit our work with a clear goal in mind. For some of us, it's to entertain, for others, it's to drive a message home to our readers. But many of us (myself included) struggle to realize who exactly it is that we struggle to write for. Now, I know some of you are thinking, it doesn't matter who you're writing for, and for some of us that is certainly true, but there are a few of us who have a goal to publish and entertain. This post is for all of us who fit into that latter category.

    Knowing who you're writing for is more than just knowing what genre you hope to write in. If you know who you want to write for, it can help tailor your story, and later even your marketing/business strategies. As an Indie Author being able to focus your business and marketing can be a huge benefit, especially if you're still struggling to build social media platforms. In my case, I hope to appeal to a broad base of Urban Fantasy readers.

    Given that I know I want to target these people, you may be thinking, ok you're set. But I'm not. Simply knowing I need to target UF readers isn't enough. It doesn't give me the information I need to be able to connect with people in a way that will help me build a platform (your platform is another way of saying your audience). If I took this information now and tried to apply or use it, it would be like tossing a twig into a lake, it would float, or sink, but I wouldn't make much of a ripple on the water.

    So, what do I do in order to really find a target audience?

    Well, first I had to realize what kind of people I need to be looking for. When building a platform, you want to find diehard fans. If you're familiar with Firefly, these people are called Browncoats. Every fandom has their own versions. These are the people who spread the word about their fandoms and become so engrossed in the worlds they love that they go to cons, and have every piece of merchandising known to man related to their fandom. Imagine if you had 100 of these people. What could that do for your platform? Your sales?

    We can all agree that we realize the importance of superfans. But how do you find these people? How do you engage them in a way that will help you with your writerly goals of world domination?

    Brace yourself reader.

    You join Facebook groups, you interact with them on forums, and in feeds or blogs. I know, you're thinking, what? All this and you're going to tell me to talk to them? Befriend them? Yep. That's it.

    You interact and study them. Why? So that they seek out your opinion and interactions. Think about this forum, how many writers here do you actively look forward to interacting with? I can think of several members who make this forum that much more fun. We go to each other for advice, read and comment on each other's blogs, in a way we study each others writing journies hoping to learn from each other in a way that will aid us in our own paths.

    Identifying and interacting with your audience is exactly the same. But whatever you do, while you're building that trust, don't make the newbie mistake that so many of us make. Don't go into these places and automatically post about your work. Don't brag, boast, and throw up meaningless pieces that nobody will relate to because they don't know you. Take the time to make connections. Your platform will thank you for it.

    As always, I hope you enjoyed reading this blog. If you feel like there is something you’d like to see me cover, or I haven’t covered correctly, please leave a comment below.

    Also, my next world domination plot is coming along so nicely that I've decided to open up applications for minions. Should you decide to apply, please know that I cannot guarantee health or safety. I offer no insurance or 401k incentives, but I do have some pretty kick a$$ cookies. Come to the dark side, you won't regret it.

    Thank you for reading, and above all— Happy writing!

    Magus likes this.
  4. In last weeks post on creating confidence in yourself and your writing, we talked about the need to surround ourselves with people who were encouraging and supportive. If you haven't read the post you can do so here:

    Today I'd like to take that topic a step further and discuss how surrounding yourself with those people (and actively seeking them out) can do more than just foster your confidence. Yes, today we'll be talking about the necessity of Networking.

    STOP! Don't run away!

    If you're like me, you probably feel like that word (networking) is or should be considered a four-letter word. You're probably thinking, but Corbyn- I hate people, or I can't be normal in social situations. Well me too, but that doesn't change the fact that as writers we can gain far more from taking the time to seek out like-minded people, and exploit them for our world domination schemes (insert evil laugh here).

    I've talked before about the local writer's group that I was a part of, but most of you may not know that some states or countries have more than just regular writers groups. I was a member of the Texas High Plains Writers. This group was a pro writers community that met bi-monthly. It offered workshops on everything from indie publishing, to building your brand, grammar, you name it, and they did it. I was so fortunate to be able to attend these meetings, and I miss them dearly.

    For everything that the group was, it was above all a place to network with like-minded individuals. Through the group, I found editors, critique partners, help with book cover designs, and so very much more. Because of this group, I got my first freelance gig back in 2013. It didn't last long or pay well, but the experience was well worth it.

    My point is that you're reading this. That means you use this forum, and hopefully to its full potential. If you can use this forum, you can network with other creative types to further your craft. You can do so and get helpful tips on how to publish, or write a different kind of story.

    Sometimes to get to where we want to be, we have to practice not only have the confidence to say we're writers but also practice interacting with other creatives and use those connections to further our goals. You never know when someone you've met here might have that one piece of information ( or know someone else) who could make all the difference between your piece being accepted or rejected, or even becoming next best thing since sliced bread.

    As always, I hope you enjoyed reading this blog. If you feel like there is something you’d like to see me cover, or I haven’t covered correctly, please leave a comment below. And if you do figure out how to make that laser powerful enough to take over the world, remember who pushed you to further your goals and cut a poor girl in will ya?

    Thank you for reading, and above all— Happy writing!

  5. Today I'll be continuing the topic of retraining our writerly brain. If you live under a rock, or just didn't have time to read my last post Are you a good writer? Then please check it out here:

    Do you lack confidence in your daily life? Do you lack confidence in your writing? Do you find yourself writing something, then not picking it back up for days, weeks, or months because you feel like it's terrible or you've done a disservice to your writing? Are you missing your writing goals because of this? Is your lack of confidence affecting how you interact with people you work with or the relationships you have with friends and loved ones?

    I know, those are a lot of questions. But if you answered yes to even one of them, then you're not alone. On any occasion, I have trouble with confidence. I've never possessed an overabundance (or even a minor abundance) of the stuff. It's frustrating. It makes my interactions with people awkward, and sometimes it makes it difficult for me to take a compliment regarding my work, or even myself. This quirk frustrates the people around me sometimes.

    So, like with nearly everything I find interesting, when I saw a vlog about building confidence in yourself, I thought I'd share what I learned from it. Here are the five tips on how to foster confidence in yourself, and your writing.

    1. Fake it until you make it. (This is something you've all seen me say before, but don't roll your eyes, bear with me) Faking it doesn't mean being a jerk or disingenuous. It's quite the opposite in fact. Confidence doesn't happen overnight, but instead is a result of retraining your brain until it realizes hey, I've got this! It's a result of behaving and carrying yourself that exudes an aura of confidence, even though you don't feel that way. It can be as simple as changing your posture, making eye contact, or at least trying to look people in the eye more, and talking about your work as if you believe in it. Walk into a situation like the boss bad a$$ you want to be.

    Why, because people are hard-wired to respect people who behave more confidently. They will value your opinion and presence more because of this.

    2. Stop comparing yourself to other writers. Thankfully, I don't do this, but I know a ton of other writers who do. Your work is just that. Yours. It is unique, and nobody can write what you do the way you do because they aren't you. So stop worrying about how your Sci-Fi western opera is going to shape up, or if you're going to be the next Stephen King. Nobody, not even King's kids feel like they can fill those shoes, so why are you so worried about it?

    Fill your life with positive reinforcement. As creative people, we've all been there. Our families and friends love us, but sometimes they don't get us, or worse... they don't know how to talk to us. They don't always know how to be supportive either, or how to pick up our fragile egos and stoke them until they can stand on their own. Surround yourself with people who get what it's like to want to live a creative life, support and nurture them just in the same ways that you need to be. Also, start a folder for yourself and fill it with compliments about you or your work. When you start to feel down, pull out your folder. It's too easy to forget the nice things people say to us, and sometimes we just need a reminder.

    4. Find your on switch. Everyone has something (or if your lucky a few somethings) that make us feel good about ourselves. This could be a song that makes you feel a specific way or a movie. The point is to surround yourself with things that make you feel good. When you find that thing which works for you, milk it.

    Practice. Practice the things that make you feel passionate. If it's writing, then write. Don't stop. When you stop practicing you're robbing yourself of the very things that make you a better writer. The better your writing becomes, the more confident you, in turn, will become in your work. Confident writers trust their skill because they've put in the time. Writers write.

    As always, I hope you enjoyed reading this blog. If you feel like there is something you’d like to see me cover, or I haven’t covered correctly, please leave a comment below.

    Thank you for reading, and above all— Happy writing!