Jilly: Fantastic Free Resource–Alli Independent Author Fringe

Alliance of Independent Authors Indie Author Fringe–London Book Fair, March 2017

Big thanks to Kay for alerting me to this great resource: the Alliance of Indpendent Authors (Alli) is holding an online conference this weekend to tie in with the London Book Fair.

By 10am London time today, they will have uploaded 24 hours’ worth of great presentations on topics like understanding the writing process, perfecting your first 50 pages, identifying and eliminating the biggest mistakes most fiction writers make, and all kinds of advice about self-publishing including writing better book descriptions, advertising, and audiobooks.

Best of all, the sessions are archived for you to view at your own convenience, and they’re totally free.

Check out the conference agenda here.

And find the links to the presentations here.

I’ll be catching up on some of the technical ones later today, but I already watched and really enjoyed fantasy author KM Weiland’s one-hour talk: Are You Making These Common Fiction Writing Mistakes?

It’s worth noting that Alli will be hosting a further two conferences this year, to coincide with the major book fairs, so if you find these presentations useful, it might be a good idea to sign up to be notified of future events. I did 😉

Enjoy!

Jilly: Educated and Entertained

Anyone interested in hearing Eloisa James, Ilona and Gordon Andrews, Alisha Rai, and Sarah MacLean discuss various aspects of romance writing?

I just spent almost three hours online watching a recording of a fascinating, funny and insightful seminar held last week at Duke University. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed it. My plan was to skim it for the good bits and listen to the rest later, but it turned out to be all killer, no filler. The only bits I skipped were the rest breaks 😉 .

The event was called Gender, Sexuality, Feminism and the Romance Novel, and indeed all those subjects are covered in an intelligent and engaging way, but there was so much more.

Each author talked about their home environment and what led them to become a romance writer. After that, the Q&A session included: Continue reading

Jilly: Don’t Leave Your Story in the Cold Over the Holidays

dont-leave-your-story-in-the-coldCan you believe it’s December already? How’s your month looking? Busy?

May I add something to your schedule? Earmark a few minutes each day – five, ten, fifteen, whatever you can shoehorn in – to make sure your story doesn’t get lost in the seasonal brouhaha.

Even for a holiday humbug like me, December is a time sink. It was worse when I had a day job – closing the payroll ten days early with the extra headache of bonuses to calculate and pay; a year end to prepare for; and in the middle of the financial scramble, parties to organize and/or attend for staff, clients and suppliers.

I’m glad I don’t have to do that any more. My life is also relatively quiet on the family front, but my calendar is still filling up. Multiple catch-ups with friends and ex-colleagues who are home for the holidays. A birthday trip to see the Abstract Expressionists at the Royal Academy. A night at the theatre. A few days with my mum, even though she doesn’t really know it’s Christmas anymore. Visits on mum’s behalf to her friends and ex-neighbors. A haircut. Gift and grocery shopping. A rare opportunity to see my expat brother, who’s flying home for a couple of weeks.

In the midst of all this activity, my immediate writing priority Continue reading

Jilly: Back Up Your Work (Dead Tree Version)

Did you know the UK still prints its laws on vellum? This may sound like something out of a Terry Pratchett story, but there is a tall tower in the Palace of Westminster full of rolled vellum scrolls inscribed with legislation, including some dating back more than five hundred years.

Earlier this year the House of Lords voted to discontinue vellum scroll record-keeping on cost grounds. You’d have thought this was the ideal opportunity to bypass paper and go direct to digital-only storage, but after due consideration the Cabinet Office decided to stick with scrolls (and agreed to pick up the bill). The reason might be that we Brits love a good tradition (true!), and I’m sure there are digital libraries of new legislation as well, but there are sound reasons for deciding to keep  physical records.

Those reasons apply to writers, too. Continue reading

Nancy: Week 4 of the Plan: Tools and Resources for Productivity

My very own 'written? kitten!' muse.

My very own ‘written? kitten!’ muse.

Jilly’s Sunday post about productivity (or the lack thereof) and her ambitious writing plan for the rest of the year dovetails nicely with this final post about setting up a writing plan. I’ve written about setting up a big picture plan, breaking it down into bite-sized pieces, and applying the math to meet daily, weekly, and yearly word counts. That’s all fine and good until you sit down each day to work your plan and meet your word count…and get stuck. Or distracted (Look, shiny things! Email! Squirrels!) Or just plain overwhelmed by the ginormous to-do list to whip that WIP into shape.

So today, I’m going to tell you the secret to never facing that dilemma again! I’m going to hand you the key to unlocking your bottomless productivity and unending creativity! I’m going to…stop lying to you now, Continue reading

Michille: Character Actions

medium_60_Things_For_Characters_To_DoOne of my favorite writer blogs is Writers Write. Most of what they write about is creative, but they also discuss business writing, and blogging and social media. A recent topic was a fun one for me – 60 Things for Your Characters To Do When They Talk Or Think. What things can characters be doing while talking? What actions will reveal character more thoroughly?

When I read the list, I mixed up a few which ended up giving me amusing images, like bathing a cat (I mixed up giving a dog a bath and cuddling a cat) and watering a child (mixed up watering houseplants with watching a child play). Of course, giving a cat a bath could create some hilarity in a story. Some of them seem a little too much like sittin’-and-thinkin’ activities, like knitting, hiking alone, or waiting in the doctor’s office. Continue reading

Nancy: Remembering the Ladies

memorial dayToday is Memorial Day in the US, a day set aside especially to commemorate soldiers who died in all the wars throughout America’s history. The image that often comes to mind on this day is that of the young men who lost their lives in combat. But not only men have died in our wars. In every conflict since the founding of our country, dating all the way back to the American Revolution, women have  taken up arms in battle and many have lost their lives doing so.

I have always been fascinated by the stories of these women, from the mythological Molly Pitcher loading canons during the Battle of Monmouth to the historically documented instances of women posing as men to become soldiers in multiple conflicts to the plethora of information we have on women who stole behind enemy lines to scout and spy. From the handful of women known to have actively engaged in battle in the 1770’s to the 165,000 women enlisted in the American armed services today, women have risked their lives in battle, even when they were actively banned from combat positions, as war has a nasty tendency to ignore where battle lines are drawn and where the war-front actually begins and ends.

Despite what personal feelings we might have about war and its role in modern-day society (that is a very LONG discussion for another day), the destinies of nations have been forged in wars and history has been written by the victors. Unfortunately, far too often, women and their sacrifices have been written out of that history. The tendency to relegate women to supporting cast roles is so prevalent that historical romances, which many of us read and some of us write, are sometimes called out for writing women who are too modern, read: too strong, adventurous, or independent for their time. My answer to those naysayers is, ‘you don’t know the true stories about women in history’. Today I’d like to share a few reading suggestions to help find those true stories so we can do what Abigail Adams implored her husband to do at the First Continental Congress and ‘remember the ladies’. Continue reading