#Writing has made me rich… #amwriting

Writing has made me rich. No, not in money but through my characters whose lives, loves, suffering, anguish and triumphs I’ve shared.

I believe, as a fiction writer, we need the ability to take a breath, close our eyes and become our characters, just for a moment.

In this way, one can step into a scene, see and experience things as if you are living it yourself. You can picture your surroundings with complete clarity, respond in conversation, act and react to events and feel emotions.

Being a writer has made me a better person. My own life is pretty darn great but I’ve also experienced amazing things through my characters. I’ve been an archaeologist, fallen into a tomb and discovered great things. I’ve been alone, in a world devoid of people, seen horror, suffered trauma and found love.

All in my imagination.

Writing has made me rich.

Lisa Flaus

Author: 2012 The Final Revelation

The deleted chapter. #amreading

For anyone who has read my novel, 2012 The Final Revelation, I’d like to share a chapter I removed from the final edit.

It was a chapter I had to delete in order to reduce word count and make the story move faster. When you are writing a thriller/mystery you need the action to occur quickly so the reader gets caught up in the drama. Also, I should not explain what my characters look like in so much detail. I should leave the reader to imagine for themselves.

A lovely person called Cathy taught me that 😉 Thank you Cathy xox

It was, along with other sentences, paragraphs and even characters I highlighted, paused, then hit the delete button.

Oh the trauma!

This was originally Kathryn’s opening chapter. Please forgive any mistakes as this was not part of the final professional edit.

Chapter 2 (deleted chapter)

Auckland Airport, New Zealand

Wednesday, 19th December, 2012

Kathryn Scott stood watching the vast sea of humanity pass her by. The hustle and bustle of people from all walks of life, ages, cultures and characters surrounded her, in a whirl of movement, energy and life. It was almost like she had stepped into an alternative reality, standing still and quiet, while waves of colourful sight and sound danced by.

There was a constant noise, broken only by the occasional airport announcement, momentarily hushing and stilling all other sound. Soft flute music played to sooth the weary traveller and a multitude of different conversations filled her ears.

Kathryn waited.

Of the six hundred and fifty billion people on the planet earth, Kathryn Scott was just one unique soul amongst an assortment of faces, eyes, skin colors, hair styles and clothing. She was undoubtedly a fine looking woman, totally oblivious to the stares and glances of people whose eyes swept over her. At twenty four, she was a picture of health and beauty. She stood tall and graceful. She had long, wavy dark brown hair, softly cascading down her back. She had a smooth fair complexion and her face was one of perfect dimensions, but it was her eyes that stood out most of all, the colour of faded blue denim and framed with long lashes.

Kathryn was happy. She genuinely loved life and especially this time of year, a bright combination of summer, Christmas and holiday time, all rolled together. She loved her family, friends and career, and over the last few weeks, was beginning to feel the initial butterfly stirrings of new love for the man she was waiting for.

Standing on tippy toes, she darted her eyes over the crowd and caught a glimpse of him. He had finally made it to the front of the queue and was standing at the check in counter.

She watched him a while, then her eyes panned down and finally fixed themselves on a stilled baggage trolley parked beside her, overloaded with an array of brightly coloured suitcases. Her mind began to wander, thinking about the previous evening. It had been the first night they had ever spent together in their short, four week relationship. It had been as perfect a night as could be depicted in an award winning romantic movie.

“Sorry that took so long,” Peter said, coming up beside her, “there was a huge queue getting on flights!”

Kathryn felt Peter take his big hand in hers and they darted and weaved their way through the crowds, trolleys and bags, towards the departure gate. A large sign read: ‘Travellers only beyond this point.’ No sooner had they stopped, short of the roped off area, than a loud announcement boomed overhead, ‘NZ507 bound for Christchurch, boarding now at gate three.’

“Thank you, I really appreciate you driving me out,” Peter said, still clutching her hand.

“I wanted to see you off,” Kathryn replied.

“I’m sorry we don’t have time to get a coffee.” Peter glanced down at his watch.

They looked into each others eyes.

“It’s only two weeks. I’ll be back,” Peter said.

“I know,” Kathryn replied, her top teeth catching her bottom lip in a coy, shy gesture.

Peter pulled her close. Kathryn could smell his aftershave and she could hear him breath in deeply, smelling her hair.

Kathryn looked up at him and wondered if he knew what she was feeling. His eyes met hers. He knew. They kissed.

“I’ll miss you.”

“I’ll miss you too,” she said.

Peter leaned closer and whispered in her ear, “I’ll be thinking about you constantly.”

“I’ll be thinking of you too. Have a great Christmas with your family.”

“You too, I’ll ring you tonight.”

“Bye.”

They kissed again and reluctantly parted.

Kathryn watched Peter as he made his way through security, her mind full of giddy emotion. She watched him turn to get a last glimpse of her. Peter paused and held the stare. Kathryn wondered if he had changed his mind about leaving and was going to suddenly run towards her. He didn’t. He smiled, waved and walked away out of her sight and out of her life.

Kathryn did not have the remotest idea that she would never, ever see him again.

SPAM vs Promotion #writetip #amwriting

I am a letterbox SPAMophobic! (Is there even such a word?) I have a NO JUNK MAIL sign displayed. It wasn’t only the constant stream of “buy me, buy me now!” mail I used to receive that made me put that sign up. It’s the fact that I would nearly weep when I had to throw away a vast amount of papers, flyers and pamphlets!

PAPER WASTAGE = Cut down trees 

It really did wind me up!

I can handle twitter spam. It’s not so bad. I can just choose to ignore it and it doesn’t waste paper 😉  The truth is that many of the people I follow on facebook or twitter are also first time, or experienced writers trying to sell their product and that’s okay with me. I often go and have a look. I’m a reader too, so I’m interested in other peoples work.

There are examples of novels that have caught my eye through tweets. Their messages worked for the author because I purchased! But why did I? It was because of the genre, the description, the cover or the author. The person is really interesting, fun and engages with me. I like them. That makes me interested in their work, so I buy the book.

However, from some, I receive the same message over and over again. My Facebook and Twitter walls are a stream of advertising. If these posts becomes too much, I simply un-follow them (twitter) or unlike their page (Facebook). Mostly, I tolerate these commercial interludes, as interspersed in their “I have written a book – go buy it” messages, are inspiring, funny and moving posts that I enjoy reading.

So my problem is, as a first time author, I now also have a product to sell

“Oh no,” I gasp in horror  😮

What do I do? I can’t spam. It goes against the grain. I can’t cope doing it. I don’t like it. It’s just not me.

I spam and then I can’t stand myself!

So, how does someone like me then sell their own product?

I have tried a couple of techniques:

  • SPAM – I feel guilty and barf into a paper bag.
  • Don’t bother, the book will sell itself. Mmm mm, yeah right!  There is no doubt about it, talking about my book definitely increases sales.

Anyone out there who is currently writing a novel will have to face this when your own book is published. There are some things I have learnt along the way:

  1. Don’t spam the same message over and over – it just annoys people. Vary the messages promoting your book as much as possible not just repeat the same one. Once your followers have seen it once, they don’t want to see it another 100 times.
  2. Be interesting and show people the real you, so they want to follow you and hear what you have to say about life, and not continuous spam about your product.
  3. All writers, traditional or self-published, need to find that unique marketing factor, and target the right audience with the right message. OK, so twitter makes it impossible to target just some of your followers, but point 2 addresses this, in that you can provide something for all of the people who follow you. In my case, my 11:11 fetish, writing experiences, my interest in 2012 and just being my normal silly self.
  4. The main thing I have learnt is that, at the end of the day, when people tweet about a book, I want to know “What’s in it for me?” “If I’m going to pay money for something then how will reading this book benefit me?” “Does the subject interest me?” “Does the writer interest me?”

Let’s look at point 4 a little closer. How about I change my marketing plan and think through the eyes of the consumer:

  • The story took many years to write and has been professionally edited. It is 124,000 words, 39 chapters, 220 pages – Value for money
  • It is a unique telling of a familiar topic – 2012, archaeological discovery, end of mankind, apocalypse based story – Originality
  • It contains factual, interesting information about the Maya civilization,  Maya Calendar, archaeology, solar system, 2012, religion, survival – Knowledge building
  • The genre is wide, a combination of thriller, mystery with an underlying love story. It is set in New Zealand, Palenque, New Yorkand Mexico City– Suitable for a wide audience
  • Hope reins supreme and our human will and ability to survive is paramount. Even in our darkest hour the light is always there. It describes how people suffer grief and survive through it – Inspirational  
  • There are some good Amazon reviews up (thank goodness!) – Reviews

Now I have to figure out how I convey these messages to people, only using 140 twitter characters. Any ideas? As a follower of authors (or other marketers), what tweets catch your eye? What makes you interested in their products?

If you are a writer, either published or about to publish your own book, what are your techniques and marketing plans? Do they work for you?

Have you thought about your own consumer or customer and how your product will meet their needs?

Meanwhile, I think I’ll do a tweet about my cat. She’s really funny 😉

Lisa 🙂