Elizabeth Isaacs https://elizabethisaacs.com Bringing Fantasy Into Reality One Story at a Time Sun, 03 Nov 2019 22:07:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.4 https://elizabethisaacs.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/cropped-Untitled-design-37-32x32.png Elizabeth Isaacs https://elizabethisaacs.com 32 32 31619703 Taking Back Our Democracy https://elizabethisaacs.com/2019/11/taking-back-our-democracy/ https://elizabethisaacs.com/2019/11/taking-back-our-democracy/#comments Sun, 03 Nov 2019 20:19:17 +0000 https://elizabethisaacs.com/?p=1772 Read More]]> This Tuesday is election day in Kentucky, and the governor’s race is like something out of a scripted reality show. You know, that high-drama trope that has the evil incumbent with tons of corrupt money backing his oh-my-god-ridiculously-negative-ad campaign squaring off with the good-guy-grassroots-man who is fighting to change things for the better.

The problem is, this isn’t a cheesy film trope for some B movie. This is our life, where the heart of our education system is on the line, where coal miners might not get the diagnosis for the medical care they need, where hundreds of thousands of needy children won’t have access to healthcare. In the past four years, the population of our state has declined, and 28,000 teachers have left the classroom. We are now 45th in the nation for wages, and our illustrious governor refuses to look toward new avenues regarding innovative ways to bring up-and-coming industries into our region.

There is so much work to be done, so many things that need to be fixed. So much untapped revenue this beautiful state has yet to explore.

This election is one of the most important elections in Kentucky’s history. Now, more than ever, it is critical people step up to the plate and participate in the democratic process.

And yet, officials are projecting a 30% turn out on Tuesday. It’s astonishing to think that with so much at stake, seven out of ten people won’t even bother to go to the polls.

Both Uber and Lyft are giving free rides on Tuesday. By law, employers have to give their workers four hours to vote. The Democratic and Republican parties have stated they will find ways to get people to the polls, should someone call their hotline and ask. Mass transit systems in Lexington and Louisville are giving free rides, as well.

Everyone who values democracy is bending over backward to allow people to participate in the process, and yet Kentuckians still refuse to vote.

Why?

I believe there are a few reasons. First, the marginalized in our society (minorities, the poverty-stricken, the working poor) have been told they don’t matter, which, over time, has turned into an intrinsic belief that they can’t make a difference, so they no longer try.

Second, the largest generation in the nation (18-32-year-olds) have been disenfranchised by corruption, misinformation, and targeted campaigns to keep them out of the polls.

I wish they understood that if they voted en masse, they would rule the land. They don’t realize they have the keys to the kingdom. United, they could completely flip the government on their ear with fresh, young candidates that could demand reform and change.

The powers-that-be know it, though. And they wield that knowledge like a well-honed scythe.

Third, many people in the “mainstream” demographic are sick of the negativity. The tactic worked so well in the last presidential election, political action committees have doubled-down on the strategy, spewing slanderous campaigns that leave voters disgusted by the entire process. One party’s ads are solely aimed at federal women’s rights policy, which has nothing to do with gubernatorial control. That doesn’t matter though; just mentioning the subject spawns vitriol, passion, and an extreme emotional response that demands justice. One-issue voters are easy to manipulate. If they don’t like the candidate that agrees with their issue, they’ll write in a vote for someone who has a snowball’s chance in hell of winning, or they won’t vote at all. 

Either way, the results are the same.  

Yes, we have systemic corruption in America. No one is disputing that. But that corruption has been allowed to fester and grow because We the People stopped actively participating in the system a few decades ago. And it’s getting worse. 

The only way change is going to happen is if we stand up and take action–starting at the state and local level. And it’s going to take everyone–Democrats, Republicans, Green Party, Independent, those who have never registered to vote. This is our country. If we don’t participate in the process, then we are the reason democracy falls. 

Somewhere along the way, we’ve forgotten that freedom isn’t free. It takes dedication, sweat equity, and due diligence to make sure those that are serving in our stead are doing their job. And when they aren’t, it takes a collective voice to get them out of office and bring about change.

I’m not sure what the future holds for the state of Kentucky, or even if I’ll be able to stay here much longer. But whatever happens, one thing is clear. We have to get corruption out of government and take our democracy back. One group, Represent Us, is trying to do just that. 

If you’d like to learn more, please watch this video from Jennifer Lawrence.

We have a lot of work to do. If you’re in Kentucky, you can start by voting this Tuesday. Everyone else, I encourage you to join Represent Us and actively participate in your areas to help us bring about change.

 

 

 

 

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Through the Eyes of an Editor https://elizabethisaacs.com/2019/10/through-the-eyes-of-an-editor/ https://elizabethisaacs.com/2019/10/through-the-eyes-of-an-editor/#respond Sun, 13 Oct 2019 21:08:26 +0000 https://elizabethisaacs.com/?p=1742 Read More]]> Before manuscripts morph into books, they go through several stages of development, which involves three or four different edits, depending on the work. If you’re new to the publishing world or you’ve never understood the editing process, I highly recommend watching this introductory video by the incredible Joanna Penn.

The first, and, for me, the most important, is developmental editing, which hones in on character development, scene structures, tone, mood, plot pacing, believability, and overall quality of the work.  Traditional houses have vetted editors for specific genres they use to polish the work like a newly minted coin. But indie authors are left to their own devices, sifting through editing websites, hoping to find some way to separate the wheat from the chaff.

I believe this is why so many indie authors have little to no experience with developmental editing. Having a professional go through each scene, looking for ways to strengthen the storyline is expensive. Most indies end up going to a less experienced editor that isn’t as costly as a seasoned veteran. Either way, most self-pubbed writers often haven’t seen what a good content edit looks like, and so they can’t gauge if the feedback is worth the price they paid.

As the self-pub/indie crowd gets bigger, so does the problem of finding quality editors. Yes, there are great editors out there. But there are also people who say they’re excellent at story development with little to no education, training, or experience to support their claims. These typically aren’t shysters out to take an author’s money. They love books and stories, and they genuinely want to help, but they don’t know enough to know what they don’t know. In psychology, this cognitive bias is known as the Dunning-Kruger effect (click here if you’d like to know more).

Regardless, understanding what a good content edit looks like is critical to making a story as strong and engaging as it can be. And so I was so excited to run across editor Cate Hogan’s new video series, “Running the Gauntlet.” The program features the first draft of a manuscript, and Hogan gives us a glimpse of looking at the work through an editor’s eyes. In this video, the genre she critiques is a first-person distant narrative comedy sci-fi. Although this isn’t usually the type of book I’d pick off the shelf, I still enjoyed watching Cate’s thought process as she sifted through the opening scenes. Enjoy!

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A Writer’s Guide to Self-Care https://elizabethisaacs.com/2019/10/a-writers-guide-to-self-care/ https://elizabethisaacs.com/2019/10/a-writers-guide-to-self-care/#comments Sun, 06 Oct 2019 00:28:22 +0000 https://elizabethisaacs.com/?p=1723 Read More]]> It’s no secret that creatives are more at risk for depression, but for writers, it can be especially tough. Our craft is a solitary endeavor, spending hours in front of a keyboard. For those prone to feelings of loneliness, the isolation, the lack of sunlight and human interaction that writing often brings, can plunge them into the dark waters of despair.

Let’s face it, the age-old adage of “suffering for your art” is a crock. Depression doesn’t make for a better story. Neither does alcohol or recreational drug use. Creativity is a part of us, which means that when we make self-care a priority, our imagination flourishes.

I’ve been working on self-care for a few years now. It hasn’t always been easy, but here are the five things I’ve found to be most helpful.

#5. Schedule writing time and stick to it

This one is the toughest for me, but scheduling writing time helps suppress the negative self-talk I slip into when I’m not productive. I started writing first thing in the morning and then again in the evening, and I’m guarding that time as if it is sacred. No phone calls or social media. Just writing. Social media posts are created and scheduled for the next week on Sunday. I’ve found that producing work first thing in the morning allows my mind to mull over the story throughout the day, and then I produce more at night as well. The time spent in front of the keyboard may have shortened a bit, but the creative output has increased tremendously.

#4. Healthy eating and limiting alcohol are vital.

I didn’t realize how important this one was until I stopped eating sugar and processed carbs a few years ago. My mind is sharper, my emotions more stable because my glycemic index isn’t constantly spiking and crashing throughout the day. As for alcohol, for me, writing and wine go together like peas and carrots. I do love a glass of cabernet while sitting in front of the keyboard, but honestly, it’s empty calories. And that one glass can turn into three super-easy. Too, wine is not only a natural depressant; it makes me sleepy, which is counterproductive when I’m creating a scene.

#3. Excercise.

I have a love/hate relationship with exercise, but it’s necessary. During long writing sessions, I’ve started scheduling dance breaks, which I’m so glad no one else is around to witness. 🙂 But you know what? It’s made me more productive. There’s science behind it, but getting your blood pumping and your heart thumping is a good thing. Go for a walk, take a yoga class, or jazzercise with some friends. Writing is a sedentary activity, which, over time, will take its toll. Take care of that body. It’s the only one you’ve got, and you can’t write if you’re dead.

#2. Sleep.

When I wrote The Light of Asteria, I was getting three to five hours of sleep a night. Most people think that’s insane, but honestly, I’ve never been a big sleeper. But I’ve realized to consistently create my mind needs time to process the events of the day, to repair any damage, go in, sweep out the cobwebs, and do whatever maintenance that needs to be done. All of that happens during sleep. Too, there’s overwhelming evidence of severe long term effects of sleep deprivation. If you have a problem sleeping, make sure to filter out blue light from the computer screen, especially at night. No television or caffeine after dinner. And try to go to sleep at the same time every night. Sleep patterns can improve over time. I’ve been working on this one for a few years now, and I’m proud to say that I’m averaging six to seven hours of sleep a night. It might not seem like a lot to some, but it’s double what it was three years ago. 🙂 Also, increasing your sleep time has been shown to help people lose weight. #win/win

#1. Make sure time with family and friends exceeds the time you’ve scheduled to write.

This one is so important.  Writers are humans, too, which means we need interaction and socialization. We need sunshine, laughter, friendships, and experiences. Making sure you are spending meaningful time with family and friends will ensure that you don’t resent spending time in front of the keyboard.

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Wanna Win a Hundred Bucks? https://elizabethisaacs.com/2019/09/wanna-win-a-hundred-bucks/ https://elizabethisaacs.com/2019/09/wanna-win-a-hundred-bucks/#comments Mon, 30 Sep 2019 14:00:27 +0000 https://elizabethisaacs.com/?p=1703 Read More]]> I’m so honored to be participating in an incredible giveaway that features fantasy/paranormal authors. If you’d like to expand you TBR, just click on the link and like the BookBub author pages. What’s great about this is BookBub only emails you when the authors you follow get ready to release a new book or make a book suggestion. It’s a win/win for everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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The Polarization of America https://elizabethisaacs.com/2019/09/the-polarization-of-america/ https://elizabethisaacs.com/2019/09/the-polarization-of-america/#comments Sun, 22 Sep 2019 19:55:06 +0000 https://elizabethisaacs.com/?p=1597 Read More]]> Polarization is the latest buzz word; it seems. The word originated in the scientific realm and was predominantly used for wave oscillations. Much like sound waves on a guitar string, the action of plucking the string creates a reaction that streams to both ends simultaneously, causing symmetrical vibrations which then turns into sound.

 

It’s an oversimplification, I know, but the process is so symbolic of our political climate, whoever came up with the term political polarization was a freaking genius.

If we use the video above as an analogy, the fingers plucking the strings are the hot button issues. The right side of the string is one political affiliation, the left, the other. When an issue sound, both parties stream to their side until they hit either the headstock or the bridge.

Congress has worked this way for years, waiting for an issue to strike and immediately streaming to their side of the string. But what they never seem to understand is the string must continue vibrating, even in glorious dissonance, to work correctly.

The image is fitting, isn’t it?

And while our congressional leaders were willing to smother the vibrations of democracy, the American people weren’t.  That is, until recently. This instrument, our democracy, the resounding music of freedom and prosperity, has been stifled with arrogance, ignorance, and hatred.

Why is that? Why now? Why can’t we seem to remember we are all on the same freaking string?

I started doing a bit of research on the subject and ran across this explanation. Most of you know I’m a true believer in exploring the dark annals of history. Not only it is fascinating writing fodder, but I happen to believe that we are creatures of habit. If we made the mistake once, and we didn’t learn from it, we certainly can do it again.

“Our time most closely resembles the period after the late 15th century … nothing has happened like the impact of the personal computer and the internet since the advent of the printing press … We live in a time of massive technological disruption of the public sphere. And most of us underestimate it, especially those of us who cling to old ways of getting information.”  

Naill goes on to parallel the reformation period with that of today’s society.

I’ll be honest–that scared me a little.

Martin Luther believed the printing press would fulfill the church’s promise to bring the masses to Christ. And while it did bring about significant changes in religion, no one even came close to predicting the upheaval having printing capabilities would bring.

Mass propaganda was used to divide religious sects. Pamphlets meant to insight anger, and violence seeped into the mainstream. Downright heretical books were printed, which sent many on literal witch hunts. There was now a way for informational and revolutionary ideas to be heard throughout the land. And because the middle class had access to written words, the stranglehold of ignorance the upper class had held for centuries was forcibly loosened. Secular books in science became popular, transitioning the world which, of course, spawned an unholy reaction from the church. And the fact that religious monks were no longer solely responsible for book copying made it impossible for the church to control what was being shared.

All of this eventually led to societies across the globe being pulled apart from their fragile seams.

There is still time to veer from the destructive path polarization is leading us down. But to do that, we must allow the issues to resonate within us, to to affect us. And we must listen to those that are affected too, not with the superior arrogance of wanting to be”right,” but with humility and compassion needed to understand. We must keep listening until the sounds wane, wash away, meld into the sweet silence of understanding.

And then we must move onto the next chord–together.

 

 

 

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Five Things Every Pantser Should Plan https://elizabethisaacs.com/2019/09/things-every-pantser-should-plan/ https://elizabethisaacs.com/2019/09/things-every-pantser-should-plan/#respond Tue, 17 Sep 2019 21:50:01 +0000 https://elizabethisaacs.com/?p=326 Read More]]> The idiom “Flying by the seat of your pants” was originated in the 1930s when pilots had to rely on instinct instead of navigational devices. Most viewed these gutsy pioneers as heroes who thumbed their noses at danger and took fate into their own hands.

Much like the first pilots, writing pantsers have that same larger-than-life view of storytelling. They write wherever the wind takes them, dipping and swirling like playful swallows in flight. There is a thrill to it, not knowing where the story will go. But just like those first pilots, these writers also flirt with disaster, heading out into the great unknown, often creating stories so convoluted they can’t find their way out.

Whether it be flight plans or plot outlines, structures are there to keep us from losing our way. Here are five things pantsers should navigate before they start typing so their stories don’t crash and burn.

#1 Plot your beginning, middle, and end

Well, that’s easy, right? You’d be surprised. The opening pages must hook the reader while setting the framework for the conflict. The story’s middle section is the place where the plot ramps up, the conflict increases, the characters are fleshed out while the human condition explored. The climax and denouement wrap up the story and leaves the reader with a sense of satisfaction.

There is an energy that inherently comes with a new idea, and that enthusiasm is the driving force behind pantsers throwing fresh words on the page. They often shy away from thinking the basic premise through for fear it will stall or stifle their creativity. This can lead to an exciting first few chapters, followed by a boatload of backstory, a midsection bloated in a tangle of subplots and half-thought-out character relationships, and an ending that is nothing but a big, hot mess.

Basic plotting won’t throw a bucket of ice water on the imaginative fires, but it could help define the premise of the work and save a ton of revision time later.

#2 Make your characters worth sticking around for

Pantsers rarely do character outlines, which often leads to two-dimensional characters that stand around posturing while arguing, scowling, smirking, or quirking an eyebrow. Why? Because the writer is learning the characters as the story is developing. Creating character profiles beforehand is a great way to explore the differences between the players on the proverbial field. What is their greatest desire, their deepest fear? What are their flaws, their insecurities? Do they have any mannerisms or eccentricities that set them apart from the others?

Defining character traits helps distinguish real, authentic actions and reactions, which gives the reader much-needed insight into their human condition.

#3 Make your conflict a good one

Because neither the plot nor the characters have been defined, pantsers tend to write unnecessary strife in an attempt to add tension or drama. But conflict for conflict’s sake muddies the water the reader is swimming through.  Over the years, I’ve edited numerous manuscripts where the protagonist meanders through the story, struggling and arguing about anything and everything, and then the story just ends.

It’s frustrating to read.

Image found on Not Quite Texan’s blog

It’s critical to define the plot’s overall conflict in the early stages of the book. Otherwise, the midsection develops into something that looks like the Houston freeway system.

The plot must have a central problem that builds throughout until it is solved.

#4 Plan on marketing 

Pantsers tend to run marketing campaigns by the seat of their pants too. But marketing is in the business realm, not the creative. Organization in today’s saturated marketplace is vital for a good book launch. Taking a few minutes each day to create a gameplan for the month before and the three months after the book’s launch will go a long way into getting your story into readers’ hands.

#5 Keep learning

Whether you’re a pantser, a plotter, or, like most of us, somewhere in between, it’s so important to continue honing your writing skills. Conferences, reference materials, and even Youtube have incredible information and interviews with the best in the business.

Here’s one of my favorite series by Brandon Sanderson

The saying “the more you know, the more you know you don’t know” is so true. Stay humble, and whatever you do, keep writing!!!

 

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Life is Hope https://elizabethisaacs.com/2019/09/life-is-hope/ https://elizabethisaacs.com/2019/09/life-is-hope/#comments Mon, 02 Sep 2019 18:08:43 +0000 https://elizabethisaacs.com/?p=1627 Read More]]> Suicide.

Most people shy away from the subject. It’s difficult, and uncomfortable, and leaves us facing our own mortality. We’d rather smile, nod our heads and switch the conversation to something safe and mundane–like redecorating our bathroom or go on and on about how we’re looking forward to spring. It’s a way to stick our head in the proverbial sand, allow us to stay well inside our comfort zone. Steer us clear from such tough issues … or keep us from saying the wrong thing to someone thinking about the unimaginable.

I get it. I really do. It’s not easy. Most of us would rather ignore the issue.

But cloaking ourselves in ignorance and denial does nothing but make situations worse. And not having the tools to deal with someone contemplating suicide leaves us feeling utterly helpless and out of control. I’ve been so touched by this issue–colleagues that have lost loved ones, friends that have attempted suicide, students that left this world before their life even began.

It’s got to stop.

The statistics are staggering:

  • Every 40 seconds we lose a life to suicide in the world.
  • Every 12 minutes we lose a life to suicide in America.
  • For every 1 suicide, there are around 25 attempts.
  • There are twice as many suicides than there are homicides.
  • The suicide rates for children 10-14 doubled from 2007 to 2014.
  • More Men have died by suicide yet more women have attempted.
  • More young people die from suicide than from Cancer, AIDS, chronic lung disease, pneumonia, heart diseases all combined.
  • There is an estimate of around 3,041 attempts per day by young people grade 9 – 12.

[1]

September the 10th is suicide prevention day, and I’m so honored to be partnering with the USA Today bestselling author Eva Pohler to help raise a little money but more importantly bring awareness to an alarming societal trend that has affected us all in one way or another.

Red flags

Someone you know may be considering suicide if they

  • are researching or talking about ways to kill themselves.
  • feel hopeless or as if they have no purpose.
  • feel trapped or are in unbearable emotional or physical pain.
  • feel as if they are a burden to others.
  • increase their use of alcohol or drugs.
  • have massive changes in sleep, either excessive sleep or insomnia.
  • start to become isolated and withdrawn.
  • become impassioned with rage or a desire to seek revenge.
  • become increasingly anxious, agitated or reckless.
  • have extreme mood swings.
  • have change in self-care habits (not showering, brushing teeth, meeting their basic needs).
  • start giving away prized possessions.
  • start getting affairs in order, tying up loose ends, or writing a will.

[2]

What you can to do help

 

The overwhelming research says the best thing we can do for people contemplating suicide is to listen. Really listen with the intent of understanding. They need compassion, for someone to hear their pain, their suffering and simply be there for them so they don’t feel isolated and alone.

Maintain your empathy, not pity. Listen through the anger, the blame, the guilt, and the shame. Help them by simply being there, sitting next to them as they go through their own personal hell.

And then realize they need help beyond the scope of what a “friend” can do. Encourage them to seek a professional that can help them find coping strategies to deal with whatever they are struggling through.

 

 

If you would like to help grow awareness of this important cause, there are several things you can do.

Join us for our Facebook author event, Book Lovers Unite for World Suicide Prevention Day. 

Purchase a t-shirt. All proceeds go to the International Association for Suicide Prevention. 

Help us spread the word that where there is life, there is hope.

 

 

[1] statistics found on theelevationsociety.org

[2] resource material found on lifescience.com  and veteranscrisis.net

 

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Understanding Narrative Distance https://elizabethisaacs.com/2019/08/understanding-narrative-distance/ https://elizabethisaacs.com/2019/08/understanding-narrative-distance/#respond Sun, 18 Aug 2019 16:02:49 +0000 https://elizabethisaacs.com/?p=1606 Read More]]> Recently, I’ve been doing a slew of content editing, which is difficult for me at best. There are two reasons for this. One, as a writer, it’s my natural tendency to interject my voice into anything. I struggle to assess a story, the characters, the pacing, the voicing, the plot and any holes there might be, without changing the style and artist’s voice. Second, I’m a close narrative writer, and I love books that explore the human condition on a deeper level. I want to feel what the character is feeling. I want to see the light glinting off the frosted window. I want to feel the bite of the chilly morn; I want to be that hero, that heroine. And I want to walk away from the book still thinking about it well after the last page is turned.

But sometimes that’s not what a story calls for, and some writers don’t write that way–and that’s okay. This past year, I’ve come to realize it’s difficult for me to edit works that keep their characters at a distance.

If you’re not familiar with narrative distance, Chris Brecheen over at Writing About Writing explains it better than I can. Click here if you want to read the article, it’s a good one, but the basic premise is that stories can be told up close, at a distance, or a great distance. The closer we are to the character, the more critical show-don’t-tell becomes. But at a great distance, writers can use predominantly telling prose to craft a good novel effectively.

Both can yield beautiful tales that are riveting and keep the reader engaged. The trick is knowing your story, your style, and your audience.

I find it extremely difficult to read a first-person narrative that is written at a far distance. The reader is looking through the eyes of just one character. This already narrows the story’s lens and gives us only what our protagonist can see and feel. By choosing to write a novel in this perspective, the author is making a conscious decision to color the story with the protagonist’s psyche. How we view that world is literally filtered through their perception, their past experiences, flaws, and vulnerabilities. To then limit the story again by distancing the reader through prose makes it challenging to care about the protagonist and the situation that character finds themselves in.

It’s difficult, but not impossible.

Take Veronica Ross’s Divergent series, for example. The story is written in a minimalistic first-person present narrative that keeps a distance between the reader and the protagonist. The present tense forces a consistently fast, real-time pace, which gives little opportunity to stop and steep into Tris’s emotions. And yet, even with that distance, the story riveted people worldwide and sold well into the millions.

Third-person very distant narrative seems to be a little easier, but writers must have a good grasp on the characters and their development.

Take Harry Potter. The entire series is written from a third person limited perspective, meaning the majority of the time the reader is in Harry’s head. But Rowling uses a distant narrative. Rarely are we given insight into Harry’s thoughts or emotions, and yet we are completely invested in his journey. Rowling is a master at world-building, and her characters are exceptionally well developed. We can see their authenticity in their dialogue and how they interact with the world around them.  Using a closer narrative would have slowed the pacing, which isn’t a good idea in a plot-driven story. Also, I’d like to point out that this is a children’s book. Writing prose that is up close and personal would steep young readers in Harry’s abandonment, abuse, and fear, which isn’t appropriate for this demographic.

Again, it all comes down to knowing your story, your style, and, most importantly, your audience.

In the wise words of  Chris

“Why does narrative distance matter? The short answer is sympathy. The closer you go, the more sympathy you are asking for from your reader for your character. While that’s usually good if you want it (and want it THEN), it’s not always the right choice. Many great stories can be told through the filter of time or the filter of redemption or with a distance that allows a less sympathetic character to still be compelling in less interesting ways.”

The artistry is knowing what is best for the story you want to craft.

 

 

 

 

 

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Running a Lean Mean Marketing Machine https://elizabethisaacs.com/2019/07/running-a-lean-mean-marketing-machine/ https://elizabethisaacs.com/2019/07/running-a-lean-mean-marketing-machine/#comments Mon, 29 Jul 2019 23:01:21 +0000 https://elizabethisaacs.com/?p=1534 Read More]]> I did a post on Facebook’s latest changes regarding groups and pages last month, but even authors that had prepared for the switch were shell shocked at the results, both in sales and in reader interaction. Algorithms have destroyed any hope of reaching new readers without paying for an ad or running a sponsored post.

My friend LK Griffie has been saying for years that authors are relying too heavily on social media for marketing, and she’s right. Unfortunately, social media is no longer about meeting new people; now it’s all about suppressing the ones you already know.  Not very helpful when trying to reach new readers, is it?

So what’s a writer to do?

If the content is king, interaction is the queen. For them to work in tandem, we must hone in on those that are interested in our work, cut the bloat that’s suppressing social media posts, and create a lean, mean marketing machine.

Know where to post original content

Few people realize that social media sites rely on us for their content.

Ironic, huh?

So many authors I know create excellent Facebook posts that could easily convert into a blog post, and yet they choose to use a format that suppresses their content. Running that post through their website and then sharing the link directs readers back to the author’s home turf. This not only boosts SEO but enables new readers to scroll through past posts or see other books that the author has written.

Having a lower number of authentic followers is better than a ton of “vanity likes.” 

We all know people who have paid for followers to hit that golden 10K threshold. And, honestly, if I had an Etsy store or was an influencer that sold things through a ton of affiliate links I might be tempted to do just that. However,  even “swipe up” features need interaction to be seen. Empty followers hinder growth.

Nowadays, the easiest way to grow followers is by creating content that hopefully goes viral. Either that or pay to play. That’s about it.

Purge your newsletter list

If you’re mentally flipping me off right now, I don’t blame you. But hear me out.

Let’s pretend that five years ago, I participated in a Kindle Fire giveaway with a ton of other authors. A hella-big blogger ran the event, and man was that sucker a success! I got three thousand new subscribers from the campaign, and it really bolstered the ol’ newsletter list.

Great! Or so it would seem.

Now, five years later, 99% of those subscribers never open my email, or worse, they threw my newsletter into spam the first month after they didn’t win the giveaway. And because my email has been marked as spam a few hundred times, Google thinks I’m the princess of Twatwafflery, and no one with a Gmail addy sees anything I send unless they search their junk folder.

To make matters worse, my budget for the newsletter ballooned from ten to one hundred bucks a month, and my open/click-through rate is abysmal.

Frustrating, isn’t it?

Taking the time to go through your “inactive” email subscribers and thinning the list improves your email stats and also frees up marketing dollars that can be spent elsewhere.

Quit Preaching to the Choir

I’ve been very blessed to be surrounded by authors who genuinely believe in the “lift as you climb” philosophy. But sometimes in our attempt to support a fellow writer, we end up shooting each other in the proverbial foot. Following someone but never interacting hurts their organic reach. Signing up for a newsletter but then deleting it destroys their click-through rate. And continually retweeting/reposting/whatever with no explanation as to why you’re sharing can sometimes turn readers off because it seems “spammy.”

I’ve created a little infographic for funsies.  🙂 Enjoy

So what’s next?

I still do giveaways, but instead of asking strangers to “like this page, or follow me here,” I do exclusives as part of the email newsletter or in the Society as a way to say thank you to my readers for allowing me to be a part of their life.

This year I’ve branched out and have started doing videos, which is so far outside my comfort zone it isn’t even funny. But I’ve come to understand that readers enjoy seeing authors in real settings. It might be awkward, but I think they appreciate the effort. 🙂

I’m pairing down on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and I’m spending a little more time on other platforms to expand my reach. And instead of going with the traditional “stick to the places you know,” I’m branching out and trying new avenues–ones that haven’t suppressed anything yet.

Bottom line:

Slow growth is better than no growth.

Stay positive.

Be open to new ideas.

Be kind, always.

Be patient.

And keep writing.

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The Currency of Life https://elizabethisaacs.com/2019/07/the-currency-of-life/ https://elizabethisaacs.com/2019/07/the-currency-of-life/#comments Fri, 12 Jul 2019 11:00:27 +0000 https://elizabethisaacs.com/?p=1496 Read More]]> I was complaining about chasing rabbits (which is a euphemism for doing a little of everything and getting nothing done) to a friend when she suggested thinking in terms of income-producing activities. I wrote about it earlier this month, but the idea is to categorize daily activities into two-columns, one for income-producing activities, and the other for non-income producing activities.

That idea spurred in me a heaping plateful of vitriol, with a side of resentment polished off with a tall glass of nope. What good did come out of it, though, was it made me stop and think.

What if our perception is entirely wrong? What if our life’s success is measured by what we spend instead of what we get in return?

Which led to this profound, weird, epiphany–something I’ve always known yet never applied in regards to success. We’re given only so many seconds in this life, and we gift them to the people and things as we see fit.

This conjured images of seconds turning into stacked silver and gold, sitting in piles deep within the magical recesses of some mystical bank. Every second, a coin disappears and is spent for a thought or a friendship or on a social media site. We have no idea whether our pile is vast or small, and we’re not allowed to count it. The only information given is when we spend our last coin we vanish from existence.

Powerful thought, isn’t it? Every time we invest in something cost us a moment. Every relationship. Every thought. Every creative endeavor.

Money means nothing. Accolades go in a box shored in a loved one’s attic. Houses, cars, boats, are sold or given away.

So much of our lives will scatter like dandelion floss once our time is spent. And yet, here we sit, day after day, focusing on conflict, resentment, frustration, bias, and judgment. Our minds rehash the past, wasting our moments reliving the darkest betrayals. We spend time worrying about bills, politics, people who’ve offended us on social media (of all things) or what others think of us.

All of it costs us the only currency we have in life–precious, limited, finite time.

The good news is there are things we can invest in that will continue to pay out long after we’re gone, like relationships, especially with our children and the younger generations. Encouraging those we interact with every day through kindness, service, positivity, and love. Lifting others as we continue to climb, both in our personal and professional lives. Helping those in need and making a concerted effort to leave the world a better place than we found it.

For me, one of the most significant ways to spend my coins is to create stories that have my personal truths embedded within. Long after my vault is empty and I am nothing more than ash and dust, I hope someone will read what I’ve written and learn to appreciate the things people can give and forgive them for the things they can’t. Maybe they’ll stop and think about their intentions before they act. Maybe they’ll look inward and try and define what equality truly is and demand it for them and those around them. Maybe they’ll come to respect knowledge and truth, even if it’s not what they want to hear. Maybe they’ll embrace passion, vulnerability, or their inner strength to rise against adversity.

Most importantly, I hope they understand they are valued in this world, that they matter.

And that makes investing my life currency in writing worth every second.

 

 

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