Six reasons why you should vlog like nobody’s watching

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Monday Musings

By Corinne O’Flynn

Let talk about video blogging—vlogging. I can hear you saying to yourself, “Vlogging? What do you mean, vlogging? I am not a YouTuber… I am a writer!”
Trust me, I totally get it. But I’m here to share with you six reasons why vlogging is something you should consider adding to your author platform—even if you don’t think anyone is watching.

Vlog to become a better speaker

Even if you’re already a decent public speaker, vlogging will improve your speaking skills because it forces you to address your audience directly. When you’re vlogging, you usually have to look at the camera. Even if you’re demonstrating something with your hands, there will be (and should be) a large portion of your video that features you facing the audience. This means that while you can have notes to assist you during your talk, the medium lends itself to more conversational and natural speaking.

Vlog to become a better storyteller

When you start vlogging, you start thinking about vlogging. And when you start thinking about vlogging, you start thinking about topics and how you’re going to share them. Vlogging is done in short intervals, which requires you to be concise and stay on topic. Being able to distill your message to make it interesting and engaging is a skill that develops as you vlog. Being able to shape your message into a story will engage your audience!

Vlog to connect with your audience

Video allows your audience to see you as a real human—to truly connect. While conventional blogging is alive and well, adding video to your repertoire will bring your audience closer to who you are as a person. They see your personality, your wit, and your humor. They see how you move, they hear your voice. They see you. The reason authors have a platform is so we can connect with our audience.

Vlog to diversify content and Your Audience

People consume content online via blogs, podcasts, images, audio, and video. The more ways you have to connect with people, the more people you’ll connect with! It’s that simple. Adding vlogging to your platform will help you broaden your reach. Video isn’t going anywhere—it’s only gaining popularity.

Learn a relevant skill

Video is the present and the future. Learning to vlog is a valuable skill that will help you maintain an interesting and diversified platform to reach your readers. It is so easy to start vlogging with only a cellphone! Whether you’re reading from your own writing, talking about your process, sharing a book review, or just talking about life, your audience wants to hear from you. Why not try doing a video next time, instead of blogging?

Vlogging is fun!

When most people start vlogging, there is a lot of stress over what to wear, where to sit, how you look… but I’m here to tell you that the message is what’s most important. I used to stress about lighting and what was in the background of my videos, and what my hair looked like. But the reality is that people tune in to my videos to hear what I’m going to say. They’ve seen me vlogging from my car, from my office, all dressed up after a night out, and on days when I haven’t left the house. They’ve even seen me lounging on my couch with my dogs in front of the Christmas tree. If nothing else, vlogging has made me much more at ease with how I connect with my followers, and it’s shown me that being real on camera has made that connection deeper.

Corinne O’Flynn

Married, raising four kids, she is the founder and executive director of a non-profit organization, and a professional napper. She also serves on the board for Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers (RMFW).

You can check out all of her books on her website or on Amazon.

Anyone interested in staying connected can sign up for her emailsWhether you’re a fan of mystery or fantasy stories, or a fellow busy human looking for ways to build your own productivity systems, Corinne O’Flynn invites you to join her as she shares what she learns on her adventures.

“I believe in doing things with intention, and making sure those intentions are good. :)”

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Writers’ pet peeves: Monday musings

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By Raine Thomas

writers pet peeves

Pixabay Creative Commons license

Pet peeves. Everyone has them. Yes, even readers and writers…perhaps even more than most people!

Exploring the pet peeves experienced by readers and writers can be a helpful way to clear the air and help us see each other’s points of views on some rather serious topics. In the hopes of engaging our readers in a spirited dialogue, we thought we’d explore some of these pet peeves over a couple of blog posts.

Last week we gave some of the most common pet peeves experienced by readers. Today, let’s delve into our biggest pet peeves as writers:

Poor editing

This was mentioned in the reading pet peeves list and it’s so important that we just had to note it here too. For those authors who invest time and money into producing clean, well-written books for our readers, it’s a major pet peeve to see so many books out there that are so poorly edited.

Poor editors

Along those lines, many authors express frustration over investing in an editor and then publishing a book believing that it’s error-free only to receive multiple reviews stating otherwise. There are people out there claiming to be editors who have no business doing so. Authors should take care and vet the people they hire to edit their books. Always, always, always get a free sample edit and have someone with a good eye look it over before you pay someone to edit your book.

Complaints about book pricing 

Okay, folks…let’s get real here. Imagine you worked on a project for many months, sometimes up to a year or more. While working on that project, you took time away from your family, stayed up late at night, skipped weekends and holidays, and spent hundreds to thousands of your hard-earned dollars making the project as perfect as it could be. Then you put your project up for sale for people to experience. What value would you place on that project for all of the time, effort, and money you invested? When we hear readers express that they don’t want to pay $2.99 or $4.99 for an e-book because it’s “only a couple of hours of entertainment,” it makes us want to cry. Even at that price point, many authors don’t even make their money back on their books.

Readers who return e-books after reading

This pet peeve is soul-crushing if the person doing it is only being cheap. It’s one thing to return an e-book if you accidentally purchase it or even if you start it and don’t like it, but to read it completely and then return it so you don’t have to pay the author is hitting us right where it hurts.

internet trolls are one of writers' pet peeves

Photo by Flickr user Babbletrish and reused here with Creative Commons license.

Trolls

No one really knows why trolls do what they do, but they live to create havoc in an author’s life. They enjoy going from author to author and book to book leaving distasteful reviews, comments about the author, and other inflammatory remarks. This type of behavior just shouldn’t be accepted in any forum.

Piracy: the biggest of writers’ pet peeves

Having pirate sites stealing our books and offering them for free or even for sale is one of the biggest (and most difficult to battle) issues in publishing today. Readers, we beg you … please don’t use pirating sites.

What writing pet peeves should we add to this list? Let us know in the comments here or on social media!

Raine Thomas

Bestselling author Raine Thomas has some writers' pet peevesThe multiple award-winning author of bestselling Young Adult and New Adult fiction, Raine is known for character-driven stories that inspire the imagination. She has signed with multiple award-winning producer Chase Chenowith of Back Fence Productions to bring her popular Daughters of Saraqael trilogy to the big screen.

She’s a proud indie author who is living the dream. When she isn’t writing or glued to e-mail or social networking sites, Raine can usually be found vacationing with her husband and daughter on one of Florida’s beautiful beaches or crossing the border to visit with her Canadian friends and relatives.

Where to find her

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Monday Musings: Readers and writers together

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Yesterday, I took part in an event called Art in the Park, a sort of market in the town next to the one I live in. I set up a table to display and sell some of my books, alongside painters, jewelry-makers, knitters, potters and a couple of other writers. In the middle was a covered area, where children were playing music. Across the aisle from me, the Ottawa Art Gallery set up a tent where small children could make crafts.

I did not have great expectations for the event, but am I ever glad I was wrong. For the first two hours, I barely had a break between people who asked me questions about my books. It was ego-boosting, fun and informative, as well. My favourite part was people saying “Wait—are you the author? Wow.”

As it turned out, I should have brought more books.

I sold several sets of the Eastern Front trilogy, and completely sold out of volume 1, Army of Worn Soles.

Scott Bury at his display at Art in the Park, Stittsville, ON, June 4, 2017

But more important than that was the opportunity to talk with readers. Many people stopped at my table, curious about the poster I put up: “A Canadian drafted into the Soviet Red Army in the Second World War.” That led to questions and conversations about history, their personal interests and preferences, and their stories.

A preponderance of people who bought the war-based trilogy had some kind of connection to a military, or experiences in conflict. More than one was a veteran of the Canadian or British armed forces.

And all but two were older than me. One lady told me she was an avid reader but never read war stories, because she had lived through the London Blitz and had had enough of war, directly. She also never read romances.

Another man was interested in the eastern-European angle of the story, because his mother was born in Germany, and his grandfather had disappeared after being captured by the Soviets.

Younger people were more interested in my first novel, the historical fantasy, The Bones of the Earth. But being young, they did not buy any copies. Still, it was fun to talk with them about fantasy, reading, writing and what subjects or ideas caught their interest.

Reader engagement

All the writing coaches and advisors tell us writers how important it is to “engage” with your audience, to exchange ideas and to learn why they read, or don’t. While it’s relatively easy for musicians and other performing artists to do, for writers, engaging directly with an audience is more of a challenge.

Social media is supposed to be a way to engage with readers, but there’s nothing like meeting face-to-face.

What about you, readers? What would you like to ask writers? Leave a comment below and let us know.

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Monday Musings: Anyone Can Write, Writers Can’t Not Write

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by Kathleen Valentine

content_writerIt happens every now and then. I am talking to someone and, when they find out I am a writer with over two dozen titles available, they say, “I’ve been thinking about writing a book.” Usually this conversation is not headed in a positive direction. I tell them whatever seems appropriate at the time. “Where do you get your ideas?” they ask. Like Ray Bradbury, my problem is not getting ideas, my problem is not tripping over them when I get out of bed in the morning. Then they ask the question that makes me a little crazy, “But how do you know what people will buy? How can you be sure your story will be successful?” The truth is you don’t and that’s fine.

I’ve been a writer all my life. As a little kid, I wrote plays for the other kids in the neighborhood to act out in our garage, to a very patient group of parents sitting in lawn chairs in the driveway. In high school I wrote for the school newspaper and I also got a lot of compliments from teachers on various papers I wrote. In college I was the editor of my campus literary magazine, and over the years I wrote reams and reams of very bad poetry. After a brief infatuation with Samuel Beckett, I wrote an absolutely awful existential play that even the kindest writing teacher I ever knew told me to burn.

I wrote letters, I wrote journals, after a workshop with Julia Cameron I wrote three years worth of “morning papers” (I still have some—they’re embarrassing) and then, when I was in my forties I started writing short stories. I did this for a friend who was going through a rough spot in her life. I made my stories very romantic and atmospheric just as a special little gift for her. She loved some of them, some she said needed work, but eventually I edited and edited and edited until I culled them down to the stories In My Last Romance and other passions.

It wasn’t until a couple years later that I decided to write a novel. As a kid spending summer vacations in a Great Lakes seaport town with my godparents, I had developed a romantic fascination with the working waterfront. Later, I went to college in that town and my fascination around that rough part of town (rough back in the Sixties) grew. The locus of my fascination was a bar called the Mermaid Tavern. I was too young to go into bars then and too scared even if I wasn’t too young. But I vowed someday I would.

Years went by and I lived several states away when I had occasion to return to my old stomping grounds. By then I had plenty of experience going into bars and I was determined to at last fulfill my fantasy. But, alas, it was not to be. It was now the mid-Eighties and urban renewal had sanitized my old neighborhood. I went back home heartbroken and disillusioned. But the Mermaid Tavern had imprinted itself on my writer’s soul and I could not let it go. I started writing and I could not stop.

It took ten years for The Old Mermaid’s Tale: A Novel of the Great Lakes to become a reality, but, see, that’s the thing. I couldn’t NOT write it. The story owned me. It had chosen me to write it and I couldn’t turn away until it was done.

This is what I believe: we are all called to do certain things in life and we have to do them. We can push ourselves to do other things, of course, but the thing we were meant to do won’t let us alone until we do it. Maybe you were meant to paint, or dance, or cook, or raise chickens. You can do other things, but it is the thing that you cannot NOT do that is crucial. You can think about writing but, if you are a writer, you’ll write regardless of anything else.

Thanks for reading.

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Monday Musings: Some Thoughts On Anthologies

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by Kathleen Valentine

OutShadowsThroughout my years as a writer I have been invited to participate in a number of anthologies and I try to take advantage whenever such an offer is made. In fact this week the latest anthology I participated in was released. This one is called Out of the Shadows and is available currently from Amazon, Kobo, and Scribd. It is a collection of nine short stories by an international group of nine women writers.

When I was asked to participate in this, I was told they were looking for short stories that were original and featured a strong female lead character. Of all my female characters probably the strongest is Vivienne Lang, the mixed-martial artist who is featured in three of my four Crazy Old Lady books. Viv is an accomplished fighter and does not hesitate to knock someone on their backside or punch them in the nose if necessary, but she also has a fragile side that I love. As I contemplated writing a short story about Viv, I decided to depart from my usual psychological horror in those stories and do something different. The title of the story is What Is the Group Noun for Crazy Old Ladies? I’m eager to see what people think of the story.

As I was reading this collection—which features stories by Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar and Christine Nolfi, whose works I have read previously, and six stories by writers whose work I don’t know—I thought that anthologies are an interesting way for writers to cross-promote one another. But it is a good idea to have certain parameters on who is included in any collection.

Years ago, when I was new at this stuff, I contributed to an anthology that was doomed from the start. A bunch of us who participated in an early online writer’s group decided to do it. The end product was a mess because we had no guidelines for the collection. One story was romantic, one was comedy, one was paranormal, mine was a crime story. There was absolutely nothing cohesive about it except that all of us belonged to the same forum and how was the reader supposed to know that?

Later I was included in a few more that were better organized—three were all crime stories, two were women’s fiction, and one, Cooking With Our Characters, was a charming combination of excerpts with recipes. The idea of any anthology is that all the included authors will promote their books to their readers and, if the readers like a particular genre or style, they may find other stories in the collection that appeal to them as well. It’s a good way to expand readership.

I came across a very worthwhile blog post by Alex J. Cavanaugh called Anthologies: How They Can Advance Your Writing Career. I know Alex from the A-to-Z Blogging Challenge and he makes some excellent points in his post and offers good advice. One of the things he mentions is that when you decide to organize an anthology be very clear on the guidelines and requirements for submission. I think this is where a lot of anthologies fall flat—there is too much diversity of genre or style. I admit I, as a reader, am as guilty of this as anyone. There are genres I read and genres that I just skip. I refuse to read anything about zombies.

Length is also a factor for me. I tend to purchase anthologies of short stories but when it is a collection of full length works, I tend to skip it. I am not sure why. Maybe because I have more books than I can give my attention to as is, and I don’t want to download 10 full-length novels just to get 1 or 2.

All that being said, a well-planned and executed anthology can be a big boost for writers who want to cross-promote one another’s books. I can recommend a good example—why not try Out of the Shadows to start?

Thanks for reading.

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