Firstly, a Happy New Year to you all. I hope the writing gods are kind to you in 2020 and inspire you to write many new stories.
It is customary to make goals or resolutions with the arrival of a new year, some will be accomplished others not, but no matter what, we can help ourselves by planning. There are several way to do this, such as:
Making a goal board
Using a planner
Writing out each goal on your calendar so you have a deadline
Work with a group of friends to encourage each other to stay on track
Or even a mixture of some or all of the above!
As you can see from the image, I have four different ‘planning’ tools – I always use the same fridge calendar, where dates are entered for all my ‘writing’ related items such as conferences, meetings and events etc. This year I am attending a new event, When Words Collide and traveling to new parts of Alberta and British Columbia on writing road trips.
The weekly notepad with the lovely floral background now has my facebook/twitter group schedule so we all post the same subject each day enabling us to share and comment. The smaller notebook has freelance projects listed in it with details, contact information and deadlines. I also have a new ‘word of the day’ desk calendar, which I will use to inspire my Muse.
What do you use to keep yourself on track with your writing life?
This year I celebrate a decade of writing. It was not something my creative brain discovered until I came to Canada. Throughout my younger life art was my main creative outlet, whether it was painting, collage, pottery, sculpture, textiles, knitting, sewing, and many more. I would spend my lunch hours in the art room at school rather than in the playground, it was my happy place. From creating abstract art in a multiple of mediums to utilizing fabric remnants found at Liberty’s of London for summer tops, I indulged my creativity.
This changed as I began adult life and my creative outlets ceased as I entered the workforce and socialized with my peers and then had children. I dappled in rug design without success and although I was gifted an easel one Christmas and attended an art class for a short time, I just didn’t have the time or motivation. It was only when I came to Canada and there was an opportunity to find a creative outlet that I made the decision to find one. I stumbled across the writing group, The Writers Foundation of Strathcona County (https://www.wfscsherwoodpark.com/ ) by pure chance on a trip to the local library and decided to attend a meeting. From that point on I found my ‘place’ and began to learn a new skill, one which has given me not just a group of firm and supportive friends but also allowed me to discover my new country, as well as attend numerous events and a connection to many other writers from home and further afield.
Now I have eight published books and three work in progress manuscripts (and numerous ideas filed) and there is no slow down in sight for my writing passion. It has gripped me and I am so happy I ‘found’ my creative life again.
Not only have I written novels but also participated in National Novel Writing Month a total of ten times, attended numerous writing retreats and workshops, presented at workshops, started a freelance writing business (https://tailoredthemedtosuit.wordpress.com/ ) and became Secretary to my writers group. I am truly immersed in the writing life and am so glad I braved that first writing group meeting.
Much like the story beginning, I was intrigued with one dirt road leading off a highway I travelled often and wondered what was over the hill. I still don’t know what is really there.
How did you come up with the title?
I think the title, DIRT ROAD, was self explanatory
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I hope people will see through more than the romance part, that, when needed, people rise to the occasion, such as the son that did not seem to have any gumption finally took over or the mother when away from the family was totally different.
How much of the book is realistic?
I think like all novels, bits and pieces are realistic. The dirt road in question is in Southern Alberta but the farm over the hill is in Central Alberta and the coffee shop is in Northern Montana but in the story they are all within miles of each other.
Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
No, the actual story is a figment of my imagination, but I feel the characteristics of the individuals are composites of various people I know.
Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog?
I am on Facebook only.
Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone?
My next novel or any forthcoming work are all stand alone works. I have two completed novels and working on another. Time will tell if I publish them.
Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?
I like Gary. He is patterned after my grandson with a little embellishment.
Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one?
I like to say I write about life, but romance seems to sneak in as well.
Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer?
Strictly seat of the pants. I love my writing club the nights they give three or four prompts and give us an hour to come up with a short story about one of them.
What is your best marketing tip?
Find someone you can trust to lead you along the way.
Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance?
Social Media is a great help. I post my short stories on there and judge form the feedback.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
It takes me into a different world, not necessarily better but different.
What age did you start writing stories/poems?
I think before I was a teenager I would ride my bicycle up on a hill overlooking the entry to my city and study the vehicles and write stories about what I thought they were doing in the city or where they were going when leaving.
Has your genre changed or stayed the same?
I think it has remained the same.
What genre are you currently reading?
That is one of my hindrances as a writer, I read very little.
Do you read for pleasure or research or both?
When I do read it is for pleasure.
Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager?
I would have to say the members of my writing club give me the boost I need.
Where is your favorite writing space?
Tim Hortons. As I dabble on the laptop I watch the people around me and incorporate characteristics I see.
Do you belong to a writing group? If so which one?
I belong to River Bottom Writing Club in Lethbridge
If you could meet one favorite author, who would it be and why?
Sorry, no favorite.
If you could live anywhere in the world – where would it be?
Right where I live. My grandchildren are only a few miles away but also the people of Lethbridge are so diverse it gives me lots of content for my stories.
Do you see writing as a career?
Well, at 70 years old I think my career stage is over. However, I did work for several years as a newspaper journalist but found that type of writing not to my liking.
Do you nibble as you write? If so what’s your favorite snack food?
Tim Horton coffee and a Boston Cream donut. At home it is Coke and Werthers Candies.
What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline?
I hate deadlines. I just like to see a finished copy, if there is any such thing as a finished copy.
Bryan L. Beerling lives in Lethbridge, AB with his wife. He is a member of the local writer’s group, River Bottom Writers. Dirt Road is his first full-length novel.
As writers and authors, we are formidable in our ability to create narratives but we also have to learn how to market the ‘end product’ of those many months or even years of creativity. We become a book business.
The first avenue many authors take is social media, which can be seen as a ‘soft’ option. After all we are not up close and personal with the public but at arm’s length. However, due to the countless sites available just choosing the ‘right’ one or two can be overwhelming. Then there is the matter of maintaining our ‘presence’ on each platform. We need to research which avenues of promotion will work best not just for our genres but also our ability to sustain them. Do your research on similar authors in your genre and see what they use (and of course ‘follow’ them).
2. Following selected authors, genre based bloggers, book reviewers, and writing groups allows you to gain followers but also to learn about your particular genre and gain a reader base. When someone is interested in your genre they ‘search’ for more posts, articles, links and books within that specific field. While you are doing that follow 10 ‘friends’ of friends on Facebook and 100 people on Twitter – this can gain a wider audience. However, in light of these two platforms losing participants also follow people on Instagram. (We have to keep up with the ‘in’ thing!)
3. Improve your author bio on all platforms to entice and inform as many followers as possible on all sales sites, your blog and social media platforms. Ask yourself – does it reflect you as a writer as well as a person.
4. Use hashtags specific to writing, authors, books, genre and associated links – look at what other authors use.
5. Then there is the personal touch, which means organizing or being involved in author readings, attending book events and participating in Q&A panels. Search your local area for book related events, get to know your local bookstores, inquire at your library, join a local writing group, the wider your reach the easier it will be to find avenues of sale for your book.
6. Merchandise is another way of promoting your book. It can be as simple as custom bookmarks to T-shirts with the book cover/main character on the front. Make up a prize basket for a contest to be collected at an event (good photo opportunity to use on social media) or create an online contest for a free autographed copy of your book.
7. An easy promotion is to leave five of your author business cards in local businesses, at the doctor’s or dentist’s office, or anywhere you visit on a regular basis. Many places have community boards too so pin some cards or a poster of an event you are attending there too.
Do you have any promotion tips you would like to share?
I so enjoy this annual event not just because I am involved with the organization of it (I’m secretary of the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County) but that so many local authors attend – some are regular to the event but every year new authors join us. Part of Alberta Culture Days, the event hosted it’s 12th year with 50 tables of authors and artisans.
As may of you know, I am rather an obsessed planner, so had practiced my table displays before hand. With eight published books in multiple genres, it takes some planning! With two tables, I could split the children’s and YA books from the adult books by way of different coloured tablecloths. I also, again, used summary & review pages (backed with linking coloured card to the book background colour – see obsessive!) for each book. This engages the visitors and gives them an idea of the story and what other readers thought of it. I also have merchandise, hats and T-shirts, related to a couple of the books, which are always fun.
This year was the launch of the sequel to The Rython Kindom, which was reader driven (they nagged until I wrote it – a nice thing for an author to experience). Rython Legacy follows the trials of the original sorceress’ grand-daughter.
This is the second book fair in September, a week earlier I was at Word on the Street in Lethbridge, and each time it is the connection to local authors that makes the events so special. I do have several other book events up until the end of the year to attend.