Jeanne: Identifying Your Reader

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Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

This week I happened across a new writing blog, How To Write Anything (Well), by Dana Sitar.

What led me there was a guest post she did for Joanna Penn’s, The Creative Penn, on tone and voice in writing.  It was a good post, but an embedded link led me to one I found even more interesting–this post on understanding your audience. 

In it, Dana recommends, rather than writing what you like and then identifying the reader who might enjoy it. you identify your ideal reader and then write what she wants to read,

How do you identify that reader? By filling in the blanks of this sentence (which is totally Dana’s and not mine and, seriously, go check out her blog):

As a [type of person], they want [some goal] so that [some reason].

I approached this writing gig backwards, the exact way Dana recommends NOT doing it. I wrote a couple of books I really enjoyed and now I’m trying to figure out who might want to read them. Since I am where I am, I figured it was worthwhile to go through this exercise. Continue reading

Nancy: Some Love for Women’s Fiction

This past Saturday was Women’s Fiction Day! Don’t worry if you didn’t know and missed it. The celebration doesn’t have to be limited to one day. And if you’re wondering what, exactly, makes fiction women’s fiction and why does it need its own celebration, that’s okay, too. So let’s talk a bit about this often misunderstood and sometimes undervalued segment of the fiction market.

Most visitors to our blog are romance readers. Makes sense, as we 8LW ladies are romance writers. While a few of our followers are die-hard, romance-only readers (and we love you!), many read across a wide swath of fiction. Bonus points if the other-genre fiction has strong female characters with fully-developed inner lives and emotional journeys. If the female characters’ emotional journeys are the central storyline, what you have in front of you is women’s fiction.

Women’s fiction can be written, read, and enjoyed by people of any gender. (Yes, even straight, cis-gendered men can write women’s fiction). The stories can include mystery, suspense, adventure, intrigue, and romance! Some stories include a lot of those elements, and that’s fine. It’s still women’s fiction, as long as the very core story is about a woman’s emotional journey.

If you’re thinking, that’s an awfully big tent, you’re right. Continue reading

Jilly: Picking Your Brains on Audiobooks

Do you listen to audiobooks? What do you like or dislike about them?

I adore fiction, but my medium of choice is the written word. Dead tree or e-book, either works for me. I just love the way reading loads a story directly from the page into my brain, allowing me to imagine and interpret the author’s words in the way that’s most personally powerful to me.

I enjoy visual media like movies, TV, and the theater, but I’d choose a book over any of them, any day. My subconscious clearly wants to be the sole interpreter of the story. I guess it’s no surprise that I’ve never even thought of listening to an audiobook.

That may have to change. I’m planning to publish my debut novel, The Seeds of Power, later this year, followed by other stories in the same world and series. I’ll start with e-books and print, but then I think I should add audiobooks. Partly because people who know more than I say that audio is a fast-growing sector, less crowded and thus offering more discoverability to a new author. Mostly, if I’m honest, because it would be something new to learn and I think it would be cool 😉 . Continue reading

Michaeline: Planes, Trains, Automobiles, and Ships and Bicycles, Too

A history of transportation from reindeer through trains to the motorcar.

People may remain fundamentally the same, but as their technology changes, so does the form of their stories. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

There’s an old writing adage that says every story is either about someone coming to town (the mysterious stranger!) or someone leaving town (a quest! a quest!). But sometimes, the story isn’t about the arrival or the departure, but the journey itself.

Summer is the perfect time to write a travel story! You could set your story on a plane, a train or an automobile. Being trapped in a small space for a period of time promotes a sense of desperation . . . but by virtue of being in a MOVING space, you know the story is going to end with a release (let’s hope, though, that release isn’t a fiery crash! Although, it’s summer! It certainly could be. Disaster stories are popular. Look at the Titanic, or books about people who survived a plane crash in the Andes.)

Let’s take a quick look at five common modes of transportation, and what they could bring to your story.

First, the plane. You’ve got planes of all shapes and sizes to choose from, and more than 100 years of aviation. But they all fly above the common worries and fears of ground-bound folks. They get there fast, and there really is no escape (except by parachute, death or magic) until the plane lands.

The Dream Bible says to dream of airplanes is to dream about Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

Congratulations for making it through yet another week.  Hope yours has been a good one or at least one with more positives than negatives.

Among other things this week, I listened to a complete audio book for the first time.

Surprising, right?  While I love reading and enjoyed being read to as a kid, it turns out I’m just not that big a fan of audio books.  Since the book I was “reading” had a smattering of foreign words in it, it was helpful to hear them pronounced (since I was clueless), but it was challenging to figure out who was speaking sometimes, despite the skill of the narrator (who had a lovely voice).

I’m thinking audio recordings won’t be replacing my physical books any time soon.

Now that the audio book is finished and I have not yet picked up the next book off the TBR pile, it’s a perfect time to take a break and work on getting some of my own words on the page.

Care to join me? Continue reading

Kay: Altered Books, Altered State of Mind

Most of us who come to this site are readers. We get a lot from books, starting with pleasure and comfort and ranging to education and creative stimulation.

I recently went with an artist friend to a juried exhibit of altered books. The artists had taken books as a starting point and cut them apart! Glued them down! Stitched them up! They created a whole different set of artistic variables with the texts and covers to view the book elements in new ways, and I think, to investigate reading and the value of books.

I loved some of the pieces. One of my favorites was a wholly new creation—a wooden, hinged “book cover” encasing pages showing a series of graphics all done in the same color scheme, of a figure leaping a mountain in joy. There was a tree made with the fanned, sculpted pages of a book. Also a giant bug made of sculpted book pages with human legs. There was a rather unimaginative (in my view) framed sequence of Harlequin covers, one from each decade. There was a way-too-large stack of annotated titles, an homage to banned books, and another about piece about resistance that had thorned rods running through the pages. There were one or two pieces that I thought were a waste of a perfectly good book.

(I apologize for the quality of these images: they’re enlarged screen grabs from YouTube, because I forgot my camera.)

It was fun to see the exhibit with an artist and to get her take on the objects. And it was fun for me to see how an artist had interpreted, and altered, books like Mother Goose and Naked Lunch. (Here’s a link to a one-minute video showcasing the exhibit.)

Did it stimulate my thinking? Absolutely. Did it stimulate my creativity? Well, better ask me later, when I get that WIP finished.

What about you? Have you guys seen any exhibits lately that made you think about your writing life?

Elizabeth: Summer Reading Bingo

When I was a kid, summer meant the end of school and the beginning of warm afternoons spent at the local branch library.  While I kind of missed school (yeah, I was *that* kid), I loved the time I got to spend in the library, a converted house just a few blocks away.

I thought the librarian, Ms. Cook, had the best job ever and was thrilled when I was finally allowed to read books from the grown-up section.  While some kids had to be forced to read, I wasn’t one of them.  Rather than trying to get me to read, my parents were more likely to be telling me to “put down that book and go outside and play.”  When I did go outside, I could often be found nestled up in the tree in the front yard – reading a book, of course.

One of my favorite parts of summer-at-the-library was the annual reading challenge.  It was intended to be a way to encourage non-readers to read but I – being just the slightest bit competitive – loved seeing my reading log filled with gold stars as I read my way through book after book.

Those summer days spent in the library may be long gone, but that doesn’t mean an end to summer reading challenges. Continue reading