Joining author groups and forums

This post is the sixty-six post in a series about writing a novel. You can check out the list of past topics at the end of this post.

Becoming an author – self-published or traditional – doesn’t mean you have to work alone. You can connect with other authors to receive encouragement, discuss current publishing trends and advise you on which promotional opportunities helped them the most.

You can join author (or reader) groups or connect with others on forums.

Groups

Image result for groupsGroups are simply a collection of people who share a similar trait – went to the same school, have red hair, live near each other, write sci-fi books, or any of a gazillion other ways to group people.

Facebook

Facebook groups can b a fantastic way for a writer to connect, trade advice, swap war stories and find new opportunities. There are Facebook groups for every genre and some that allow you to promote your work. For a list of popular Facebook Groups, check out this website.

Goodreads

Goodreads groups are communities of readers who share similar interests, and they are purely meant for interacting, networking and connecting with other readers. The best way to interact with these readers is to be one. Join several of the Goodreads groups and participate. Get your name out there as someone who reads the books and as someone who writes good reviews. As readers view your posts, some will be curious enough to check out your profile and discover you are an author.

Note that on Goodreads groups, direct marketing is not only looked down upon, it is often forbidden. In other words, don’t join a group to just post about how great your book is and why people should want to buy it.

Others

When I first started publishing, I joined the Independent Author’s Network. This is a group of self-published authors that support and promote each other online. Members are asked to tweet and retweet about other member’s book releases, blog postings and book tours. There are different levels of memberships, some of which require a one-time setup fee.

For a list of some other groups, check out this website.

Forums

Related imageForums are very much like groups, but typically have you post on an online discussion board about the listed topic. The forum may or may not have a moderator. Depending on the forum, you can connect with not just authors but also readers.

If you publish on Amazon, you might consider checking out the KDP Community where you can find help on formatting, publishing, payments, marketing and more.

You may also want to check out this writing forum website or search for forums based on your genre.

Groups and forums can help you find find invaluable information if you find the right group/forum. But remember that while connecting with other authors – and readers – can be beneficial, I don’t recommend joining every group out there as keeping up with them can severely cut into your writing time.

Previous topics

#1 – Deciding to write a novel – Writing Myths

#2 – Three areas to develop before starting to write a novel

#3 – Finding a Story Idea and How to Know if it “good enough”

#4 – Developing Characters for your Novel

#5 – Major characters? Minor Characters? Where does everyone fit in?

#6 – Developing the Setting for your Novel

#7 – The importance of developing conflict in your novel plot

#8 – To Outline or not to outline 

#9 – The importance of a story arc

#10 – The importance of tension and pace

#11 – Prologue and opening scenes

#12 – Beginning and ending scenes in a novel

#13 – The importance of dialogue…and a few tips on how to write it

#14 – Using Internal Dialogue in your novel

#15 – More dialogue tips and help with dialogue tags

#16 – Knowing and incorporating back story into your novel

#17 – Hinting at what is to come with foreshadowing

#18 – Tips for writing different scenes in your novel

#19 – Dealing with Writer’s Block

#20 – Killing a Character in your Novel

#21 – Keeping things realistic in your novel

#22 – Establishing Writing Goals and Developing Good Writing Habits

#23 – Using the five senses and passive voice in your novel

#24 – The benefit of research in fiction writing

#25 – Novella or Novel, Trilogy or Series – decisions for writers

#26 – Avoiding Plot and Character Clichés

#27 – Novel Writing – Endings and Epilogues

#28 – Fantasy Novel Writing – World Building, Dragons, Magic and More

#29 – Finishing your First Draft

#30 – Your Second Draft and Beyond

#31 – Picking Stronger Words and Watching out for Homonyms

#32 – Omitting unnecessary words in your novel

#33 – Beta Reader, Proofreaders and Copy Editors

#34 – Knowing your grammar or at least using a grammar checking program

#35 – Using a Revision Outline during your Novel Editing

#36 – Editing Techniques: Taking a Break and Reading Aloud

#37 – Publishing Options for your book

#38 – Self-publishing an ebook decisions

#39 – Picking Your Book Title and Your Pen Name

#40 – Investing in an eye-catching book cover

#41 – Writing an awesome book blurb

#42 – Deciding on Front Matter for your novel

#43 – Deciding on Back Matter for your novel

#44 – Formatting your eBook for publication

#45 – Pricing your e-book

#46 – Selecting Categories and Keywords to improve your Novel’s visibility

#47 – Book Promotions: Cover Reveal and Pre-Orders

#48 – Publishing your novel with Amazon and KDP Select

#49 – Publishing your e-book with Smashwords or Draft2Digital

#50 – Marketing your E-book

#51 – Finding your Book’s Target Market

#52 – The importance of Book Reviews and how to get them

#53 – Is it worth it to offer your book for free?

#54 – My results from offering my novels for free

#55 – Amzon’s Kindle Countdown Deals explained and my results

#56 – Selling your book through book ads

#57 – Using a Book Trailer to promote your novel

#58 – Offering your novels or short stories as a box set

#59 – Deciding whether to offer your book as an audio book

#60 – Taking your book on a virtual book tour

#61 – Writing your Author Bio and selecting an Author Photo

#62 – Setting up your Amazon Author Page and International Amazon pages

#63 – Choosing between an Author Website or Blog

#64 – Holidays work for settings and book promotions

#65 – Choices for Authors: Marketing vs. Writing

Recipe of the Month – Cinnamon roll cookies

I love cinnamon rolls and cookies so what could be better than putting the two together? Cinnamon, butter, and sugar in a chewy sugar cookie. Yum! You can make these thin (and almost crisp) or go for a thicker, chewy cookie.

 

 

 

Cookie Ingredients

One batch of sugar cookie dough (make your own or just buy a roll)

1/4 stick of butter, melted

Cinnamon

Brown sugar

Icing Ingredients

1 cup powdered sugar

1/2 t. vanilla extract

1/2 T. milk

1/2 t. melted butter

Directions 

Roll out sugar cookie dough into a large rectangle on a floured surface. Spread with melted butter. Sprinkle liberally with a layer of cinnamon followed by a layer of brown sugar. Roll up dough into a log and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for 2 hours in the refrigerator or 30 minutes in the freezer. slice cookies off roll (thick or thin, your preference) and bake according to sugar cookie recipe.

For icing, mix all liquid ingredients. Very slowly drizzle your liquid mixture into the powdered sugar, stirring constantly until you get your desired consistency. Drizzle icing on cookies.

My son rocks the school district orchestra competition

Recently, I’ve written about Lexie’s accomplishments. She competed in the school spelling bee, and the following weekend her robotics team rocked their competition, earning third place in Core Values and advancing to the finals in March.

Jase is not as competitive as Lexie. Last year, his orchestra teacher encouraged all students to compete in the district solo and ensemble competition. Doing so would give them an automatic 100 on their next test. Jase opted not to do it.

Afterwards, I encouraged him to consider doing it the next year. Well, guess what. Next year is now and the competition was the first weekend of February. And not only did Jase sign up for a solo, he also signed up with a friend for the ensemble competition.

His instructor suggested pieces for both competitions. For the ensemble, Jase planned to play the suggested piece. But for the solo, he asked his tutor for a suggestion. His tutor recommended he do the piece they were currently working on – Musette by Bach.

So, for weeks he practiced both pieces at school and at home and worked on his solo with his tutor. When it came time to register for the competition, his friend’s parents didn’t pay the fee so Jase was reassigned to another group for the ensemble. He was now part of a quartet.

As the competition approached, Jase began to get nervous. They were to show up thirty minutes before competition time, but his ensemble chose to arrive even earlier to get in more practice – and perhaps calm their nerves.

There were nine judging rooms with solos or ensembles going in every five minutes – all day long. Jase’s ensemble was supposed to compete at 10:45 a.m. with his solo at 11:05 a.m., but the judge was running early so he was done with both by 10:50 a.m.

We left the school with him feeling pretty confident that he would get an outstanding on at least his solo. The scores are a 1 for superior, 2 for outstanding and a 3 for good. A superior means you get a gold medal and an outstanding gets a silver medal. Jase wanted those medals.

After lunch we went back to see if they had posted the scores. And he got a superior rank on both his solo and his ensemble! We were all thrilled.

And the competition has given him some additional confidence. He now has a new goal which is to get in Honor Orchestra for next school year. Honor Orchestra is the highest orchestra they have at his school. Tryouts are this spring so guess he had better start practicing.

Too busy to blog?

Once upon a time… That is how many fairy tales begin. But my saga is not a fairy tale but rather the tale of someone who is way too busy. So let’s begin again.

Once upon a time there was an author who had a blog. Ambitiously, she vowed to post on the blog 5 days a week. But after a few months that became too much of a challenge, so she went down to 4 times a week. And for the next six or so years, she kept up with that.

Then her usual places to search for authors to feature on her blog dried up. It became too much work to keep seeking out authors. After hosting over 300 authors, she let slide her Friday Featured Author. (If you are an author and want to be featured, let me know.)

As her other obligations – bookkeeping for her husband’s law firm, volunteering for the parent-teacher association and general housekeeping/childrearing – grew, her time for blogging and writing diminished. But she still found time to post three times a week on her blog. Her aim was to do a month’s worth of blogging at a time but some how she got off that schedule.

Then it became a weekend project. “Do I have my posts for this coming week done?” she will ask herself. Nope. And she would pull out her laptop and rattle off 500+ words on a parenting topic and then another 500+ words on a writing/marketing/publishing topic. Sometimes on a very busy weekend, she would only worry about her Monday parenting topic knowing that she could write her other post later in the week.

This was all working out well until…an exceptionally busy week came about. There were PTA meetings to plan the annual spring festival, decorating days for the upcoming Valentine’s Day party that would be celebrated Friday, February 8th due to the wacky school schedule, a PTA meeting to run, books to count for the book drive at the middle school, a homeowners association meeting to attend, grocery shopping because our pantry was bare and financial reports that had to be run for the law firm.

Yeah, to say it is a busy week would be an understatement. And here it is only the middle of the week with more Valentine’s Day decorating and the actual party and a Founder’s Day dinner where she will be honored with a Texas Honorary Life Member for all her volunteering at the Elementary school.

So, back to our story, our protagonist is overwhelmed and still she has nothing written for her Thursday blog. Sure, she could try to rattle off something quickly about writing or continue her series on Writing/Publishing a novel, but it is late. She just returned from the HOA meeting and is tired. But she doesn’t want to drop any more days of posting on her blog and wants to keep up her streak of posting every Thursday since the blog began.

She pulls out her laptop, sits on the bed with her kitty beside her and types out her story with the hope that next week will be better, that she will have time to write a helpful article rather than an example of how not to be a writer. A great volunteer maybe but definitely not the desired lifestyle of an author in the midst of writing her sixth book. And while she can hope for those better, less busy days, she certainly isn’t holding her breath.

Lexie joins robotics and competes in the First Lego League

Whenever we go to the children’s museum, my daughter’s favorite station is the one where you program the robot to collect balls or go through the obstacles or whatever the challenge is at the table. So, when I told her she needed to join a club or pick an activity for this school year, it was no surprise that she picked the Robotics club.

The Robotics club consists of 20 fourth and fifth graders who learn coding by building and programming robots to complete simple tasks. As part of the club, they also complete scientific and real-world challenges set forth by the First Lego League (FLL)

The goal was to send a group of students to a FLL competition in January. This would be only the second year that her school has sent a team to the competition. The previous year her sponsors said they were overwhelmed by what the other schools did. To better prepare, this year they went to a training session in October. (Lexie opted not to go to that as she didn’t want to give up a Saturday.)

While she liked robotics, I think she didn’t care for some of the other students in the club. She wasn’t even sure she wanted to go to the competition (which would take up a whole Saturday.) I encouraged her to give it a try. She applied and was selected as one of the 10 students to go.

At the end of January, they went to the competition which consisted of 24 teams from area elementary and middle schools. There are several parts of this competition. The first is the Robot Games. Two students on her team were to program their robot to do as many of the 14 tasks set up on the board as they could get done in 2 1/2 minutes. They get three tries and the best score would be their final score for this part of the competition. Lexie’s team ended up 14th after the third round.

The rest of the competition is divided into three parts: robot design, project and core values. Robot design deals with building a mechanically sound robot that is durable, efficient and capable of performing the challenge missions. The judges look at mechanical and programming efficiency as well as the students’ design process.

For the project section, each team identifies and researches a real-world problem and presents a possible solution. They don’t actually have to physically solve the problem but must explain how they would develop and test their solution. Lexie’s team tackled the poor tasting food astronauts eat when they are on space missions. One of the requirements is to consult someone in the field. Luckily for Lexie’s team, one of their student’s grandfather is a former NASA employee and he shared his expertise with the group. As part of their presentation at the competition, Lexie wrote a skit that her team performed before answering questions.

And the last area is core values which focuses on enthusiasm, team spirit, inspiration, exceptional partnership skills and demonstrating respect for their teammates and supporting/encouragement of fellow teams. They had to answer questions and perform a few group tasks for this part of the competition.

I don’t know what goes on in the room where they make any of these presentations as parents and team sponsors are not allowed in. The judges want to see just the work that the children actually do. But I did get to see the Robot Games and because they needed help, I volunteered to be the scorekeeper for the games. (That was fun. I learned a lot about the competition and even got a free lunch.)

At the end of the day, it was time for awards. Ten teams would win an award (first thru third in the areas of design, project and core values plus the Champion’s Award.) The top seven teams would also advance to the finals to be held in March.

Lexie’s team placed third in Core Values. The kids were thrilled. But none of us expected the next news…they were in the top 7 of the competition! Wow! And now it is onto the finals in March!