How to Create a Balanced Life

I find that most of the writers I work with have lives similar to my own. We’re all extremely busy. Maybe it’s because writers have active imaginations and as a result, we thrive on being busy. But in the midst of wearing so many hats, let’s discuss how to create a balanced life.

Try this exercise…plot out where you spend your time. This can include home responsibilities such as taking kids to and from school and sports, work responsibilities such as writing/editing or social media, time with your spouse, chores around the house, and maybe there’s even some “me” time in the mix.

If we were to label our responsibilities and place them into categories, we might label some as “rewarding,” others as “fun,” and perhaps some as “drudgery” (for me, folding laundry fits into this category).

The rewarding and fun activities serve to energize us whereas those activities that we label drudgery sap our energy, but unfortunately, that doesn’t mean we can turn our back on our responsibilities. But we can work smarter.

My dislike of folding laundry becomes more bearable if done while watching a TV movie. Sometimes, the family turns it into a game. Whoever folds their clothes first, gets to pick the movie.

Helping writers falls into my “rewarding” and “fun” categories. I’m lucky in the respect that I love what I do for a living. But, I love it so much that sometimes I find myself at odds to give my family the time they deserve. This is another reason why I believe strongly in establishing specific times for work, family, chores, exercise, the list goes on.

We’re all busy, but if we approach our tasks systematically, we can lead a more rewarding life. Once you plot out your daily and weekly tasks, assigning each one a value and place in your life, you can fit more into a busy day. And, you’ll find that it is possible to create that balance we all desire.


Perfecting the Art of the Interview

Last week I touched on five points that authors should consider when providing an interview. Perfecting the art of the interview and public speaking is a never ending process. You can always improve and with that in mind, here are five more tips.

1. Don’t ramble.

Authors are naturally story-tellers, but don’t get so caught up in talking that you start to ramble rather than answer your interviewer’s question. A good interview is equal parts host and guest. Remember, it’s a conversation, not a monologue and certainly not a lecture. Provide brief soundbites that the host can expand on. It’s a way for your interviewer to engage with you and it helps your audience to follow along.

2. Show enthusiasm.

You might be nervous about doing an author interview, but try to remember that your host has a tough job too. There’s nothing more frightening than interviewing someone who gives one word answers or sounds as if they are bored. If you can’t get excited about talking about your book, why should your audience go out and purchase it? Your enthusiasm will carry in your voice and make your audience fall in love with you.

3. Don’t be defensive.

There is a distinct possibility that your host will throw a curve ball. As they say, if you can’t handle the heat, stay out of the kitchen. The same applies to media interviews. It’s their job to keep things interesting and what better way than to ask some hard hitting questions? Do not become defensive. It will backfire on you. Instead, acknowledge your host’s opinions, but then politely offer your own.

4. It’s about your book.

Although it’s great for audiences to connect with an author by learning more about them, let’s not forget that you probably agreed to this interview so that you would sell more books. Think of ways to subtly mention your book title without sounding as if you’re shouting, “Buy my book!” For instance, if asked about your writing process, you might say something like, “When I wrote my first book, (insert your amazing title here), I would wake up at the crack of dawn and…” You’re answering the question without sounding like your hitting up the audience with a hard sell.

As an author, your first job is to write a great book. Once that is done, you focus on marketing. And, to be successful at marketing, you have to think about how to conduct yourself if you are so successful that you land that coveted author interview.

How to Prepare for an Author Interview (part 1)

How to Prepare for an Author Interview (part 1)

So you’ve got a request for an author interview and you’re over the moon. Do you wing it? Do you just talk about whatever pops into your head? While it’s great to sound natural and spontaneous, in order to make the most of your time in the sun, it’s best to prepare for an author interview. Here are five suggestions for improving your interview skills.

1. Be prepared to succinctly describe your book’s plot and characters.

This may sound ridiculously simple, but if you had to describe your book in a sentence, could you? If you had to explain the dynamics between two characters, could you do describe the nuances with clarity in a cohesive manner? When marketing “Zoey Rogue” by Lizzy Ford, we used the quick tagline, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets 50 Shades of Gray.” It got our point across and inspired readers to dig further. Your interview host may not have had the chance to fully read your book so you can’t rely on their giving a description. You may only have a few moments to do the deed, so do it well.

2. Create talking points about your book.

If your book was required reading in an English class, what are some questions that might be asked? Consider the transformation of your main character. How does your language enhance your character profiles? Develop at least two or three talking points, in other words, questions or topics that stimulate further conversation about your book.

3. Keep the audience engaged.

Easier said than done, but the surefire way to make someone feel engaged is to ask them questions. Wait a minute…you’re thinking that the interview is about you, so why would you want to ask questions? Remember that your interview host plays a huge role in the success of your interview as does the audience. You want to be sure that you speak to them and give the host a chance to lead the show and the audience a chance to ask questions. Remember that a good interview sounds more like a conversation, not a monologue or a speech.

4. Know your audience.

Speaking of audience, make sure you know who will be listening to you. Before you provide an interview, find out the demographics of the show. If you’re a romance author speaking to an audience of men, you may want to focus more on the craft of writing. If your audience is primarily women, then you can discuss the nuances of your romantic story. Make sure you gear your conversation into topics that are sure to connect with your listeners.

Listen carefully.

When it comes to providing an interview, you must also be an active listener. You’re likely to be excited, perhaps even nervous. To give a successful interview, you have to think on your feet and this takes effort. Take the time to listen carefully to each question and just as you did in school, ensure that you use part of the question in your answer. Make sure the host has completed his/her thoughts before you jump in to ensure that you are giving an answer that addresses their question completely.

Next week I’ll provide more interview tips that Evatopia employs when advising our speaker training and author clients.

Zoey Avenger Coming Soon!

Zoey Avenger Coming Soon!

Have you heard the news? “Zoey Avenger” is coming soon! That’s right, Lizzy Ford’s follow-up to “Zoey Rogue” will be available for download on October 12th.

For those who haven’t delved into the Incubatti Series, here’s a quick cheat sheet for you. Zoey isn’t your every day college girl. Imagine Buffy the Vampire Slayer with a pension for passion.

“Zoey Rogue” and its follow-up, “Zoey Avenger,” is centered around the efforts of five lethally beautiful half-succubus (Halflings) on Team Rogue and their Incubus soul-mates, known as the Enforcers. The two societies work interdependently to protect humans from the growing threat of Cambions, the supernatural creatures that have been bred and trained to kill humans.

However, the politics of these two secretive societies grows more complex with the creation of Zoey’s own Team Rogue, an entity that challenges the foundations of the Sucubatti and Incubatti societies. Outright war will cost both societies their safe, quiet existence among humans, but it will become increasingly impossible to contain the growing tensions.

Zoey and her soul-mate, Declan, are the steamiest couple ever. They are both dependent on each other and sometimes opposing one another. They will be forced to juggle their sacrifices, choices, and heartbreak with their desire to create a balance among their societies. Don’t miss this hot, new adult novel.


Distribution Beyond Your Dog

Whether you’ve written a book or a screenplay, both novelists and screenwriters face a common dilemma once their project is complete. How do you get your work of art into the hands of other people? Having people in your inner circle tell you it’s great is one thing, but wide spread distribution beyond your dog is truly the key to getting your project seen and money in your pocket.

Too often, writers hope that their story will magically find its audience as if our world is as mythical as the one they’ve created. Without a marketing strategy in place, your project won’t be seen. Allow me to shine a light on two of the most common myths and truths of sharing your project with the world.

Myth: I’m a “creative.” I don’t have to worry about the business stuff; someone else will do that.

Reality: Today, even the most successful writer who has money to spend on publicists, needs to market. If you’re in the early stages of your career — or if your career hasn’t sprouted wings yet, this is even more so the case. Your publicist might get the word out about your book or movie, but audiences still want to connect with you as a person. Let’s face it, you can’t turn out a new book or film every month for years to come, but there has to be a reason for your audience to stay interested in what you’re doing. Like it or not, your “creative” business is still just that…a business.

Myth: My work has won awards and accolades…I’ve made it.

Reality: Even if your movie is slated to be screened at Sundance or your novel appears on a Goodreads’ reader poll for best first novel, imagine all the people who weren’t at that screening or missed that one special list? As time goes on, your moment in the sun shines a little less brightly. There were other films at Sundance and perhaps those filmmakers hired publicists to ensure that the right film distributors attended the screenings. As for the Goodreads’ list, other novelists climbed to the top. Unless you continue to publicize your book, it will slowly slide from the top spot. The unfortunate truth is that the best work doesn’t always stay on top.

Often times, the most publicized work is the one that garners the attention. I don’t like this any more than you do, but if you are aware of this fact, you can do the three things that assure your success: 1. write the best screenplay or novel the world has ever seen; 2. assemble a team of people who will market that project; and 3., which is key…you must lead your team to ensure that your work and you as an artist become better known, which is ultimately what will lead to your success.


The Indie Distinction

The term “freelancer” used to be synonymous with a person who shaped their own workplace destiny — someone who chose what jobs they accepted, set their own hours, and determined their pay. Today, our concept of “indie” is very similar, but with one important difference. The indie distinction is that these creatives forge their own destiny. They don’t simply take on jobs, they are the ones to create and sell the products.

Seen most often in the areas of publishing, film, music, crafts and gaming, this change has resulted in phenomenal statistics, proving indie inventiveness. Take a look at these stats occurring in just the last year:

– Etsy had over one million shops, selling 25 million products, and totaling $1.35 billion in merchandise.

– Amazon reported that nearly one-third of its bestsellers were written by self-published authors.

– The American Association of Independent Music reported that indie labels accounted for 34.6% of the market share.

– Minecraft, an indie created game, has over 100 million registered users.

Evatopia’s roots in literary management grew to support the publishing and public relations goals of indie authors. Our focus now extends to indie musicians and artisans with a program designed to cross-promote these creatives to their mutual audience. Indie doesn’t have to mean you’re alone. Indies are a force to be reckoned with. Let’s show the world what we’ve got…indie together.

25 Ways to Write an Awesome Novel

25 Ways to Write an Awesome Novel

K.M. Weiland is an author friend who writes historical and speculative fiction as well as helps to mentor other authors. One of her posts, “Top 25 Ways to Write an Awesome Novel,” is so awesome in itself that I had to share. So with her permission, I’m re-posting the information here. Make sure to give a shout out to @KMWeiland over at Twitter to say thanks or visit her here.

Millions of words have been strung together on the subject of how to write an awesome book. A book is always going to be a tremendous undertaking that can feel more than a little complicated sometimes. But what if we could simplify the process to just twenty-five ingredients? Last summer, I wrote a post about the Top 25 Ways to Blow a Book. One Wordplayer asked that I also share the Top 25 Ways to Write an Awesome Book. Here they are!

1. Hook readers with a strong first chapter that doesn’t waste time.

2. Create a sympathetic and/or entertaining character.

3. Give the character a strong goal.

4. Obstruct the character’s goal with equally strong opposition.

5. Create a theme that arises from the character’s inner conflict.

6. Craft a strong plot with proper structure.

7. Do your research and get your facts straight.

8. Expunge unnecessary scenes, settings, and characters.

9. Balance action and character with properly structured scene/sequel pairings.

10. Write realistic, entertaining dialogue.

11. Maintain a consistent POV.

12. Create original and entertaining voices for narrating characters.

13. Tighten descriptions with more strong verbs and nouns and fewer modifiers.

14. Show more than you tell.

15. Dig deep for original ideas and turns of phrase.

16. Properly foreshadow your climax—without giving away any big reveals.

17. Build realistic and engaging settings.

18. Add only meaningful subplots.

19. When you build tension—always fulfill it.

20. Create a dynamic arc of growth for your character.

21. Add interesting minor characters who can power the plot forward.

22. Choose the right tone to enhance your plot and theme.

23. Rock readers with a climax that fulfills all their desires for the story.

24. Don’t tie off all the loose ends in your story’s ending.

25. Proofread, proofread, proofread.

So, which point above are you going to focus on first?


Blog Talk Radio for Writers

Blog Talk Radio with Rachel Thompson of Bad Redhead Media fame and writing critic Bennett Pomerantz discuss issues of importance to writers. Today they are interviewing moi!

I hope you’ll tune in at 3:30 p.m. west coast, 6:30 p.m. east coast.

Here’s hoping that I don’t develop a case of hiccups!


What Impresses MFA Programs

I believe with all my heart that anyone who wants to write should write. Writing can take on so many forms from novels and screenplays to poetry and even graphic novels. To excel at writing, you need a combination of desire and experience. The desire comes from your heart, but the experience needs to be garnered…perhaps from a MFA program in creative writing. What impresses MFA programs and how do you get accepted?

The first thing you’ll need is a sample of your work. You can imagine the importance behind this one piece of writing. Don’t rush it. Take the time to properly outline, consider strong dialogue, character development, plot arcs, and pacing. To ensure that it is the best it can be, consider finding other people to read and critique your work. Evatopia offers critiquing services as well as editing to help draw your best writing out of you.

You may also be asked for personal references. This means you need to plan your application in advance so that you have time to develop relationships, allow others to read your work and perhaps, take on an internship with a company that is willing to write a letter of recommendation on your behalf.

When planning to enter a MFA creative writing program, you’ll also need to consider what discipline you’re interested in studying. Do your interests lie with fiction, non-fiction, screenwriting, plays? Take the time to explore the possibilities and make sure your writing sample is geared to your desired course of study.

Evatopia offers information on many film schools and writing program throughout the country. Check out our links under “Education.”



“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” — Stephen King