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Monday, March 30, 2015

"The Creative Promoter" Blog Carnival: How to Find (^and keep), the Creative Spark!

Hello everyone,

Today's Blog is a departure for me, but one I hope you will all enjoy.   Whether you are a writer, artist, musician; creativity is the main drive behind any artistic endeavor.   See the other Blog participators here:

      As a writer, I am asked, “Where do you get your creativity from?”  It’s a good question.  Normally the answer comes with the response, “I could never do that!”  I used to be one of these naysayers.  I could never find creativity.  Before, I struggled to write down even the simplest idea.   Then I joined a friend at a Barnes & Noble workshop hosted by Nita Sweeney.  She teaches, and is approved to teach, the methods of Natalie Goldberg.  Natalie wrote “Writing Down the Bones:  Freeing the Writer Within,” and “Wild Mind:  Living the Writer’s Life. “ 
Nita Sweeney websites:

                Natalie’s methods are simple, and distilled town to her “Rules of Writing Practice.   The rules are designed to keep the internal critic/editor at bay, and free the creative aspect of writing.   There is a time and place for the editor, but not in the initial creative process.  The rules are as follows:

  • ·         Keep the hand moving, don’t cross out, worry about spelling or punctuation…just keep writing.   You can use computer, but I find it is better to warm up and use Natalie’s methods using pen and paper.  It unlocks a different part of the mind.
  • ·         Go for the jugular.  Don’t shy away from writing what is coming up in your mind.   You are the only one who will read this, unless you want to share it.   So you can just let loose, and put it down.  This is where the energy is.   The power of your voice comes out in this process.
  • ·         Go with first thoughts; which is hand and hand with the jugular.  First thoughts are where you are your most vulnerable, and before the critic can censor your words. 
  • ·         Be specific.   Not red car, but cherry red Camaro.  Being specific brings life to your writing.
  • ·         Lose Control.  Just let the words flow from your mind and onto the page. 
  • ·         You are free to write the worst crap in the world/universe.   This is the rule I found most freeing to my creativity.  It allows me to write that first crappy/shitty draft.  It is what allowed me to complete a draft, which is called “Rough” for a reason.

Using these rules, freed my mind to be able to create.  No longer was I blocked, I was able to write whatever came to mind.  Once I had a notebook full of writing practices, I would wait about a month or two, and then begin to re-read.  Highlighting what jumped out at me; words, passages, sentences.   These I would add to a database/spreadsheet.  I notated what the highlighted sections where, what the prompt was, and the date (it’s very important to date your practice writing).  

Once finished, the snippets could be used to create more writing prompts (possibly allowing you to delve deeper into them).  You could also use them as story ideas, and also use in stories you are already working on.  Say you find a snippet of dialogue, and you figure out it can be used for a character in a current WIP (Work in Process).    Well, you have something that fits already written!
Other ways to stay creative; Music (soundtracks are better than using ones with lyrics).  Though I’m listening to Florence and the Machine right now.   I love her voice!   Walking in the woods or next to water also helps me to get in tune with the creative side.  I love to sit by a lake, river, or the ocean, and write.   It could be because I’m a water sign, but the writing flows better.
You can use other forms of art to spark other endeavors.    A lot of the creative processes are similar.   I also do photography, music, and beadwork.  Bead jewelry making, is like writing on the page Word after word, like one bead is added then another and another.  With Photography, you can use a photograph to spark setting ideas, story ideas, and poetry.   Music is the same basically, as writing too.  Music lyrics often come from poetry.  Basically doing anything creative is a process, a series of events, that lead to the completed whole.

Whatever form of art you do, inspiration is everywhere.  You just have to leave yourself open for it.   I find inspiration in art, photos, music, and in everyday conversations.  You can get the best ideas from listening into strangers conversations/events, newspapers, and other books.  If you get into a regular routine of writing (or arting of any kind), you will find creativity is all around.  If you follow the rules above, you open yourself to the endless possibilities to create, and your creative well will never run dry               

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Art of Marketing Part 2 The Book Release

Hello again everyone.  I'm finally finished with the move from heck, and raring to get back to work!    Last blog post was the first part of this series, "The Art of Marketing, Part 1 The Blog Tour."

With the advent of social media, holding book releases is much easier to do, and cheaper. You may use this advice in tandem with the first part of this series. The Blog tour can be before the release; using it to drum up interest in the book.  Or it can be done after the book is out.  I've been part of a few book release events on Facebook, and have been to ones before and after release.  I'm not much into Twitter yet, or the other platforms, but they can also be incorporated.  

It takes a lot of planning.  You have to pick a date and time (keeping in mind you may have people from a lot of different time zones participating).  Then you have to set up the Event, which can be done from your main Facebook page under "Events."  You can also do so from groups as well.  You should also post the link to Twitter, and everywhere else you have a presence.  Including your Fan page (next blog topic in this series).

The best social media site for book releases, that I have found so far is Facebook.   The straightforward layout makes it easy to set up and utilize.  The other thing about a book release, you can do it pretty much at any time, though for the aforementioned drumming up of interest, you probably should do so before the actual release date.

The successful event has the following elements:

  • Games, they are fun, and they are easy to set up.  They are also good to get participation staying on the event page.  
  • Interviews with the author.  Participants can post questions on the event page, and then the author can respond to those.    
  • Prizes bring more people to the party.   They can be free copies of the book (ebook mostly); keychains with your book cover, bookmarks, etc.   I even got a bead bracelet from one.
  • PLANNING-this is very crucial to the success (or lack thereof)
When you post a game on the event page, you give the respondents a time limit.    Then you "Close" the post (though folks can still respond, and that is not a bad thing).  You copy the names of the respondents, and add them to a randomizer program to select the winner.  You should only use that persons name once.

There are a few randomizers app online that will randomly select your winner for your games.   Here is one:  

The last thing I wanted to mention, it is somewhat easier if you have volunteers who help you out while you are on a break (be it potty, food, sleep).   They can be other writers as well, who you can also help out by letting them talk about their work as well, short bios are a good idea.    The volunteers can also run a game, or something else about your book.    Think of them as bridesmaids...they are there to enhance, but not overshadow the bride.   

With a bit of work, you can have a successful book release.  One advantage over one held live, you don't have to have food/drink.   But you could do an online one from the actual live one as well.  Live stream.  Whichever way you do a book release event, it is really important to make a good impression.  Thank everyone who came, and thank your host/volunteers.   After all, we writers do not live in a vacuum, and need our fans, and helpers.