Want this? Free Anti-Blogging for Creatives Course.

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After I wrote this post about why I think that most bloggers come at it backward, a bunch of people emailed me and asked for help figuring it out.

So . . .I’ve created a little five-email course. It’s a mini version of a much larger Anti-Blogging for Creatives (ABC) thing I’m working on that will be ready this summer.

I was planning on making it a reward for my Patreon patrons.

What I’ve decided to do, though, is give it free to any of you who are interested. And then the May patron reward will be access to a private Facebook group in May for a Medium Post-a-Day Challenge.

Posting everyday for 30 days worked so well for me, that I’ve extended my own experiment to 90 days. And I’m beyond excited to have you join me.

So, I created this free course.

Mostly because I don’t want anyone who wants that little course to miss it.

And because ABC is all about putting your effort and funds into a decent email list, and writing here on Medium, instead of into designing and hosting a website.

And because a big part of it is how to use ConvertKit to start to grow your email list and ConvertKit is offering a free month right now, which is pretty rare for them.

It’s part of a free course they’re hosting, which is all about creating a digital product. If you’re interested in that, the course looks awesome. And I just got an email today that says that they’ll feature any finished product on their site, which is awesome.

But, even if you’re not into product creation…

Go ahead and sign up so you can get the free month of ConvertKit.

And then sign up for Anti-Blogging for Creatives. You’ll get the first email on April 24. It’ll show up in your email inbox. (Don’t forget this step!)

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Ninja Writer’s Book Club: 3/24/2017

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Here are some books that Ninja Writers are reading this week. Take a look, add some books to your TBR list. Next Tuesday, come on over to our Facebook group and let us know what you’re reading.

(The links here are affiliate links. If you click one and buy something, you’re supporting Ninja Writers. Thank you!)

My contribution this week is The Philip K. Dick Reader. It’s a collection of short stories that includes some of his most famous, like Minority Report and Total Recall. Dick is one of my most favorite writers of all time. Minority Report was an inspiration for Viral Nation. There is just something about mid-century sci-fi that does it for me.

I’m also just diving into Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley. I was at a signing with the author a couple of years ago in Carson City and I’m a little embarrassed that it’s taken me so long to read this book.

Non-Fiction

Classics + Literary

Historical

Mystery + Thriller

Romance

Short Stories

Speculative

YA

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The Medium Challenge: Day Six

day-sixeditorial-calendarNow that you’ve written your first Medium post–I’d like to talk to you about a plan for posting regularly.

You need an editorial calendar.

An editorial calendar is basically just a schedule for publishing–on your blog, on Medium, wherever. We’re focused on Medium right now, but if you have other places where you publish, you can (and should) take them into account.

What I’ve found the most useful is to have a regular, weekly plan. As I’m writing this series, my editorial calendar includes a daily The Medium Challenge post. I post Ninja Writer’s Book Club posts on Fridays. On Saturday evening I post my newsletter on Medium. On Sunday morning, I send my newsletter out to subscribers.

If you’re just getting started, I suggest committing (to yourself) to write on Medium once a week. Pick a weekday and get out a calendar (or your FRED!) and write in MEDIUM on that day every week.

Another part of keeping an editorial calendar is staying on top of what you’re going to write. No one likes to stare at a blank screen with no idea of what they’re going to write. You made a list of ideas a few days ago. Keep adding to it. On your Medium day, set aside 15 minutes to brainstorm new ideas to add to your list. While you’re at Medium posting, click around some and see if anything sparks an idea for you.

Come on over to Facebook and share your plans for your editorial calendar. Sometimes making the commitment out loud makes all the difference.

***

If you’re enjoying this series . . . please consider visiting our Patreon Page and supporting Ninja Writers. XOXOX

If you’d like to receive the whole Medium Challenge in your email inbox, leave your email address right here. Your emails will start with Day One.

The Medium Challenge

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Ninja Writer Book Club: 1/27/17

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Here are some books that Ninja Writers are reading this week. Take a look, add some books to your TBR list. Next Tuesday, come on over to our Facebook group and let us know what you’re reading.

(The links here are affiliate links. If you click one and buy something, you’re supporting Ninja Writers. Thank you!)

My personal contribution to this list is The Revenge of Analog by David Sax. I’m obsessed with this book!

I thought it might be interesting to some if I shared what I’m reading for my MFA each week, too. I’m working toward an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Sierra Nevada College.

Throughout this semester, I’m reading one story a day from Bradbury Stores: 100 of His Most Celebrated Tales. The pace of reading in this program (ten books a month!) doesn’t lend itself to a slow immersion in any work, so it’s very nice to be able to spend time with this book instead of rushing through.

I’m also reading Mischling by Affinity Konar. This book is so beautiful and so terrifying and so heartbreaking. If you liked The Book Thief, I think you’ll find this one compelling.

My favorite book of all time is Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women (I love this gorgeous cover.) In the beginning of that book, the March sisters read The Pilgrim’s Progress. I found a little illustrated version of that book at a used book store this week and I’m reading it. I did the same thing last semester when I read S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders, and then followed that up with Gone With the Wind, which is the book Ponyboy reads to Johnny.

Non-fiction

Classics

Historical

Speculative

Thrillers + Mysteries

Young Adult


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The Plotting Workshop: Meeting the Mentor

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We’re closing up Act I soon, but we still need to talk about one character who will probably make an appearance somewhere in the beginning of your book.

The Mentor is the person who guides our Hero as they make their way into their story. Often they have been through a similar journey and survived. Usually they are older and wiser. In a Young Adult book, where parents are usually largely absent, the Mentor can be a desperately needed guiding force.

The Mentor represents what the Hero could become, if they make the right choices and stick to their path. In many ways, the Mentor grounds the Hero.

I want to be very clear: not every story has a mentor. It’s okay if yours doesn’t. It still makes sense to spend sometime thinking about mentors today, in case you find that adding this character might enrich your story.

For this lesson, you want to read the “Mentor” and “Meeting the Mentor” chapters of The Writer’s Journey.

There is one assignment this time around.

ASSIGNMENT TEN

An Important Introduction

Your Hero will probably either meet the Mentor or realize the Mentor’s importance at a time when they need guidance. Think about Dorothy meeting Glinda the Good Witch of the North just as her house has landed on top of a bad witch in a weird place. Or Harry meeting Dumbledor as he comes to Hogwarts for the first time and really has no idea what how to be a wizard, much less a wizard who survived an attack by the baddest bad guy.

The Mentor probably has a gift to give the Hero, but that gift should be earned. Instead of just telling Dorothy how easy it was to go home, Glinda made her to through a pretty harrowing series of tests. Instead of just putting Harry in Gryffindor, Dumbledor required him to sort it out with the sorting hat.

Sometimes the Mentor is a mess. The Meeting of the Mentor can actually be a junction between the Hero’s story and the Mentor’s, so that the Mentor is required to straighten themselves out to help the Hero–and further their own story. In this kind of story, the reader (and the MC) might not be certain that the Mentor will be able to help at all.

Lastly, your story might have a false Mentor or two. Someone who seems to want to help, and maybe even starts out in a Mentor role, but eventually falls short. Maybe, instead of helping your MC toward the story, they try to stop them from entering that special world. Maybe they have ulterior motives. Perhaps they are a villain in disguise.

One of my favorite mentors is Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Wayne’s butler. I even named my cat Freddy after him. Alfred is old and to an outsider he may seem frail. When you contrast him to Batman, a true hero, he might not seem like much. But Alfred raised Bruce after his parents died. And he takes care of all the things that need taken care of so that Bruce can be Batman and do his thing. He offers advice that Bruce Wayne needs, when he needs it.

For this assignment, you’re going to answer more questions. Vogler has a series of questions in his chapter about meeting the mentor that will help you understand this part of the story better.

Open your notebook to a new page, label is MEETING THE MENTOR and answer these questions.

  • Who is your MC’s Mentor? Is it someone they already know or someone they will meet in the story?
  • Are there any false Mentors in your story? Write a little about them. If they don’t want to help the MC into their adventure, what do they want?
  • What is your MC’s code of ethics? What boundaries and rules direct their actions? How do they decide if they are good or bad?

Make sure to come by Facebook and share your work.

If you want to see this whole course on Teachable, for free, click

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Meet Vicki Cooke!

Hey, guys! I’m super excited to introduce you to Vicki Cooke. Vicki has a book called Golden Rule in the Huge Ninja Writer’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Giveaway. She’s also just one of my favorite people, so I was really excited when I drew her for the giveaway blog hop!

(After you read this interview with Vicki, click here and choose another blog to hop to. Let’s show these authors some Ninja Love.)

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Here’s a little about Vicki: V. L. Cooke is a student and paranormal/urban fantasy author living in a small rural community in Oregon with her furbabies, a yellow lab named Koda and two cats who fight over which is the center of the universe, Celeste and Luna. She’s a devoted aunt and grandaunt to her niece and nephews. As the author of the Custodian of the Golden Assembly series, V. L. believes everyone should strive to find the magic hidden among the mundane in our world. She’s available on Twitter @VLCookeAuthor.

You can download her book Golden Rule FREE, right here.

Golden Rule

How long on average does it take you to write a book?
That depends on what you consider writing. From start to finish, including research, plotting, and writing the first draft, but not counting revisions. It takes me about five months to have a rough draft completed, and completely unfit for anyone to read other than me. Revisions also take about five months, this includes editing. So it takes about ten to twelve months from start to finish for a novel to be completed.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
The television. It distracts me when I’m trying to write. Especially if a scene is challenging for me. Music is also a major distraction for me. However, the biggest advantage distraction for me right now is my sister. She always asks me how much I’ve written and if it isn’t enough she gives me the patented sister guilt look and it kills me.
Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
Most of my work is set in the same world and uses the same characters, but each story stands alone. Even my NaNoWriMo project is set in the same world, but it doesn’t have my main character from my previous work in it.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
A dragon. Does that count? I love dragons they are majestic and can set things that annoy them on fire. I think it’s my perfect spirit animal.
What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?
Everything. If it weren’t for them I wouldn’t have the base for some of my favorite characters.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I research online and at the library. Typically, I spend between two hundred and four hundred hours doing research for each novel which is kind of funny since I write paranormal/urban fantasy novels that are based in my home state. If it weren’t for Google Maps, I’d never have travel times right.
How many hours a day do you write?
It depends on several factors. I don’t write more than three hours on Mondays and Thursdays because of school. The rest of the time, I write at least five hours a day and on some days as much as ten hours.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
Trying to not be stereotypical. As a woman, I found it difficult to write the male protagonist of my novelette because his thought processes seemed alien to me. Although, it could have seemed alien because he’s a dragon and it was set nearly one hundred years ago.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Yes, I read all reviews. I try to respond to all of them if I can. I always thank the person for the review because they’ve taken time out of their daily life to write it. I love negative reviews; they help me improve my writing to meet the needs of my readers.
Do you Google yourself?
I have, and it depressed me when I found my novel on a pirating site.

 

Why do you love the Ninja Writers Facebook group?
There are no egos in this group. Everyone is amazing and helpful. They do not get angry if multiple people ask the same question, they don’t tear people down who choose self-publication over traditional publication, etc. I think Shaunta’s tribe is the most amazing writer’s group on Facebook. We have people from all over the world and are all incredibly talented, intelligent, and helpful. What’s not to love?

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Hump Day Writing Prompt: Sleepless Night

Don’t forget to click here and get signed up for December 2016’s free plotting workshop. Or just use the form below to sign up.

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Someone posted in our Facebook Group this week about how regular old everyday stuff hardly ever gets written about.

You know, the boring stuff like eating breakfast, using the bathroom, and . . . sleeping.

Except, is it really boring? I mean. Really?

The normal, everyday stuff is what makes your hero human. It’s what helps your reader connect with them. You probably won’t want to write in every meal, every middle of the night trip to the potty, or every nap–that would get boring–but sometimes the human stuff can also move the plot forward.

So, let’s work on that today.

Write a scene where your hero sleeps, or tries to.

What do they think about when their mind won’t shut off at night?

What thoughts keep them up when they should be asleep?

Are they worried? Scared? Frustrated?

My Turn

This scene is from my work-in-progress, The Undergrounders. It’s a Robin Hood retelling set in modern day Las Vegas. This scene is between Rob and Mattie (my Robin and Marion characters.) I’m not actually sure it’s going to make the final cut, so I’m excited to get to share it here.

***

After a minute, he rolled to his back and she curled against his side, one arm wrapping around his waist, her head just under his chin. He felt her relax against him, slowly, inch-by-inch. Finally, her breathing changed as she fell asleep.

His brain kicked back into high gear. Approximately twelve thousand on a scale of one to ten.

Mattie slept with Guy. He poked at this truth, like he might poke at the edges of an infected wound.

Guy wanted to marry Mattie. This was so ridiculous; it was the comic relief in the tragedy of the last forty-eight hours.

He was in love with his best friend. Even if she had slept with Guy, who’d lost his mind and decided he wanted to marry her.

His dad was dead. He had to keep reminding himself, and then breathing through another hard bubble of pain in his chest.

Frank was on some kind of bad trip. Back burner, but boiling away.

Guy Gisborne had put Mattie in the hospital. This one made him nearly incapacitated with fury and self-doubt.

He had to protect Mattie.

How was he supposed to keep her safe, when his whole world had dissolved while he was busy studying for his stupid finals?

Frank had lost his mind. His dad was dead. Philip Mark had somehow managed to steal his legacy from under him. Guy was making fucking reservations for himself and Mattie.

He’d been out of touch for six weeks, and all hell broke loose.

He kissed the top of Mattie’s head, softly, then eased away from her and out of her bed.

Your Turn

Are you writing this week’s prompt? Leave a comment and let me know! Come on over to the Ninja Writers Facebook group and share your work. Get some feedback, leave some feedback–get involved in the community. I can’t wait to read what you come up with!

Also, if you’d like to get a PDF of this post and every Hump Day Writing Prompt, head here and sign up for the Ninja Writers Binder Club. Every month I send out a newsletter that includes those links.

Help spread the Ninja Writer word! Share this post on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Send a link to it to one writer friend.

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Day 28: Character, Setting, Situation

(Day 28) Character, Setting, Situation

Today I want to talk to you about something that was a real game changer for me.

I used to have this problem. I’d get a good idea and I’d start to write it and the whole time I was working on that story, I had this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that I was never, ever, ever going to have another good idea again.

Ever.

That’s a lot of stress to work under. Of course, I always did get another good idea. Usually it came just as I was hitting Act II of the story I was working on at the time. But the fear that I was played out was always with me, on some level.

Until I did this one thing.

I started keeping three lists.

One list of characters, one list of settings, and one list of situations.

That’s it.

When I want or need an idea, I just sort of stir things around, pick one from each list, and see what comes up. Then I work through the four steps of How to Develop + Test a Story Idea, and add the idea to my stable. It feels awesome having those stories in a notebook, just waiting for me to write them.

ASSIGNMENT 28

Start your three lists. You probably already have at least a few characters, settings, and situations swimming around in your head. Don’t worry today about how they’ll come together. Just get them down. And if you haven’t already signed up for H2DSI, do that. (It’s free!) Come on over to Facebook today and share one character, one setting, and one situation with us, if you want to.

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Day 22: Set Up a Writing Space

(Day 22) Your Writing SpaceYou might be wondering why it took me so long to get around to this one.

It’s simple: you needed to build your writing habit first.

You’ve been writing everyday for 21 days. First–yes. You are a rock star! I’m so proud of you.

You’ve officially been writing everyday for long enough to officially have built a habit. You know. According to the people who decide these things. Scientists or something.

I hope that you’re starting to feel like a writer, down deep in your bones.

Because you’re going to set up a space to do your writing today.

Here’s where I write (officially.) It’s a corner of my den, next to my dining room.

Week 12 of 52 Weeks of C.H.a.O.s is all about decluttering the other room. You know where it is. The place where you dump stuff.

I wish that I had an office, because it can be seriously chaotic trying to write in a house that’s as full of people as mine is. In fact, I often end up writing in my bedroom with a lap desk so that I can close the door.

When we first moved to Reno we lived in a tiny apartment–me, Kevin, and three kids in about 800 feet. That’s where I got into the habit of writing with a lap desk sitting on my bed.

All of that to say: writing on your bed with a lap desk counts as a writing space.

Writing at your kitchen table counts.

On your couch with a TV table counts.

Starbucks counts.

An office inside or outside of your house counts.

All I want you to do today is think about where your space is. Claim it. Own it.

And think about what you need to transform where ever that space is into your writing space. For me that includes: good pens, cheap notebooks, a computer, a yellow candle, and warm feet.

ASSIGNMENT 22

Where is your writing space? What do you need around you to make a space your writing space? Come over to Facebook today and share with us.

 

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Day Twenty-One: Call Yourself a Writer

(Day 21) Am I a Writer?

I want you to do something, right now.

I mean it, right this minute, where ever you are.

Say this out loud: I AM A WRITER.

How did that feel? If it felt great–hell, yes! That’s awesome.

But, it’s okay if your answer to that question is: it felt like a lie.

Trust me when I tell you that I get how hard it is to make the mental leap to considering yourself a writer. I’ve heard people say that they won’t do it until they’re a best seller (To be fair, none of those people were published. I’d be willing to bet they change their mind the first time they see a book with their name on it.) Hopefully your own criteria for when you’ll feel like a writer is somewhat lower than being on a best seller list.

I made a decision when was very young that I’d officially call myself a writer the first time I got paid something for something I’d written. That turned out to be an article about dog friendly restaurants in Las Vegas. I was paid ten bucks. A few weeks later I wrote “writer” on my daughter’s kindergarten registration form.

I’m glad that I set the “I’m a writer” bar fairly low. I probably would have given up years ago if I’d decided I needed to be traditionally published first. Or worse, that I had to be a best seller.

I called myself a writer well before it was obvious to anyone else that I was. As a direct result of that, I mustered up the nerve to apply for a job as a newspaper reporter, when I didn’t have a college degree or any experience (I got that job.) I believed I was a writer and that formed my vision of myself.

If you’re holding back from telling people that you’re a writer because you think maybe it’s not okay to say that if you’re not published or you haven’t written a novel yet or no one’s paid you anything–here’s me giving you permission to just do it. Break whatever rule you think there is about who gets to say that they’re a writer.

You get to, Ninja Writer. Today. The next time someone asks you what you do. When you look in the mirror and need a boost. You are a writer. It’s okay to own that.

ASSIGNMENT 21

Did you already say “I am a writer” out loud? Good. Now, say it out loud to another person. You can practice by coming to say it in our Facebook group.

 

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