Tag Archives: writing

Open for Submissions!

I’m happy to say that my blog is once again open for submissions! Acceptable topics for guest posts include book reviews, just about anything regarding reading and writing, short fiction, and poetry. I’m also open for book review requests if you’re interested in getting a little more traffic for your novel.

You can check out my Contact and Submissions page for more information. Please feel free to ask any questions, and I look forward to hearing from you!

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keepingand The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

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Filed under Blogging, Book Reviews, Guest Posts

Great Words to Use for Romance

Are your love scenes feeling a little deflated? Can’t seem to figure out why your characters are in the room together in the first place? Romance is often dismissed as being cheap or poorly written, but those of us who actually read (or write!) in the genre know that’s not always the case! Sometimes it’s difficult to build all the required emotional tension between two characters, and great words can have a great impact.

I’ve seen some advice out there that says if you have to use a thesaurus, you’re probably doing something wrong. I respectfully disagree. I think great words can be truly inspiring, and they can really help bring a scene to life. Feel free to use this list to give your scene the ol’ razzle dazzle, and check out my other helpful posts on my Writers’ Resources page.

Got a word that you think should be on here? Leave a comment below and let me know!

Abandon

Accommodate

Agony

Alive

Angle

Anticipation

Athletic

Awe

Beast

Bewitch

Blazing

Brawny

Bubble

Building

Burgeoning

Burning

Buzzing

Caress

Carnal

Cascade

Celebration

Cherish

Claim

Cling

Compelled

Complete

Contract

Crave

Crest

Curl

Damp

Dazzling

Delight

Delirious

Desire

Desperate

Dimension

Dissolve

Dream

Drugged

Eager

Echo

Edge

Entranced

Evaporate

Excitement

Exquisite

Fascination

Feline

Fervent

Fire

Firm

Flooded

Floodgate

Flush

Gifted

Glide

Glimpse

Glittered

Glowing

Growl

Guttural

Heady

Heat

Heaven

Hell

Honey

Hunger

Ignite

Impact

Infatuation

Inspire

Instinctive

Intrigued

Juncture

Languorous

Linger

Loiter

Marrow

Meaty

Melded

Melt

Mesh

Mindless

Muscular

Nestle

Passionate

Playful

Pliant

Plunder

Possession

Power/Powerful

Provoke

Pulse

Pulse point

Quake

Quest

Quiver

Ragged

Raw

Recesses

Regret

Relief

Respond

Reverence

Rioting

Ripe

Roughened

Rugged

Rush

Savor

Secret

Seductive

Shimmer

Shiver

Silk

Simmering

Sizzle

Skim

Slid

Soar

Soften

Spiral

Splay

Steady

Strength

Stroke

Stunning

Subtle

Surrender

Swelling

Swirl

Tame

Tease

Tempt/Temptation

Tense/Tension

Tighten

Tingle

Torment

Torture

Trap

Tremble

Trusting

Tumble

Vanish

Velvet

Virile

Vision

Vulnerable

Warm

Weak

Welcome

Whirl

Whisper

Wild

Yield

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keepingand The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

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Guest Post: What You Need to Know Before Creating Your Book Marketing Strategy

by Hayley Zelda

No matter how well you write, how many followers you have on Commaful or Wattpad, or how many contacts you have in publishing, your book won’t sell unless you plan a roadmap or a marketing strategy. Before you create your Tumblr content or social media calendars, you should have a solid understanding of your strengths and weaknesses as a writer. You also need to determine the opportunities and threats that await you as a published author. 

There are several steps you can take to ensure you have a strong foundation for your marketing strategy. By being fully aware of your brand, personality, and voice, you can easily step up your marketing efforts. 

We will look at some of the matters you need to address as part of your book strategy and author marketing.

Your goals

What do you want to accomplish in three to five years? Goals are a broader statement that focuses on your desired results but does not yet describe how you will achieve them. Think long term. Aspire and aim high.

Examples of author goals include:

  • Publish the sequel to my novel.
  • Build a strong fan base.
  • Get interviewed on a podcast or TV show.
  • Hire a literary agent.

Your objectives

What will success look like in 6 to 12 months? Write down two goals that you know are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). As you write each goal, try to answer the following questions: What do I want to achieve? When? How do I know when it has been reached? How can I accomplish this goal? Does it seem worthwhile?

Here are some example goals:

  • Submit the sequel’s manuscript to a Big Five editor by December 2021. 
  • Set up my Goodreads author listing within the workweek.
  • Write a compelling pitch letter to my researched list of business book summary podcasters. 
  • Email three writer friends in my niche and ask them about recommended agents on Saturday.

Your value

Marketers often ask, “What’s your unique selling proposition”? To keep it simple, let’s rephrase the question: what do you have to offer? What makes you different from other authors? Unless you can identify what makes you unique as a writer, you cannot target your marketing efforts. Put yourself in the shoes of your reader. What motivates them to read your work? Why should they read your book and not someone else’s? 

Some examples to get creative juices flowing:

  • My screenplay is just like Jane Austen’s “Emma,” only set in Beverly Hills.
  • My novel is Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis” meets fuzzy, cuddly kittens. 
  • A newly crowned king must comfort his people during troubling times. The only trouble is, he stutters very badly.

Your niche

Are you a fiction or non-fiction writer? Do you write short stories, poems, or novels? Or do you write how-to books or creative essays? What genre(s) does your work fall into? Does it have a sub-genre or a niche? Here’s a pro tip: If you’re writing in different categories like young adult fantasy and murder mystery, create pseudonyms for each genre. You don’t want to weaken your brand as an author if readers identify you with several but very different niches. 

Here are some ideas:

  • Dystopian science fiction stories and novels
  • Thriller novels with a female protagonist
  • English haiku about life in New York City

Your audience

Visualize who will want to buy your book. Are they male, female, LGBT, or gender doesn’t matter? Are they kids, pre-teens, teenagers, or older? Where in the world do they live in? What are their interests? What kind of websites do they often visit? What are their pain points? Keep these factors in mind as you both work on and promote your book. 

Examples of audience personas include:

  • Mayumi is a 36-year-old wife and mother of two who lives in San Francisco. She is a second-generation Asian-American and wants to know more about her Filipino heritage. 
  • Billy is a 27-year-old computer game enthusiast. He stays up late at night with his roommates playing fantasy role-playing games, rhythm and music party starters, and retro classics on his custom-rigged desktop computer. 
  • Jeannie is an accomplished 50-year-old entrepreneur who co-owns a local chain of healthy lifestyle retail stores. Her day isn’t complete without a cup of oolong tea, a daily phone call with her career coach, and a 30-minute yoga session. 

Your environment

Environmental factors are elements over which you have no control. Nonetheless, these factors still influence the decisions made when creating a strategic marketing plan. Study your writing environment from a macro and a micro perspective. Think of your suppliers, your customers, the general public, other authors. Analyze what’s going on in politics, law, economics, technology, and business that may affect your writing and marketing activities. 

Some environmental factors are:

  • The strict censorship policies in some countries make it difficult for your publisher to distribute your paranormal romance in different parts of the world.
  • The lockdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic force people to stay home for months. As a result, your audience now prefers to buy e-books.
  • Besides being a creative writer, you are the single mother of a two-year-old boy and write creative non-fiction from the home office.

Getting started on your marketing strategy

If you are a first-time author, a fully documented marketing strategy may seem overwhelming to you. If so, you can narrow down the essential information to drive your approach (which we discussed earlier) to just one page. Planning your marketing strategy takes a lot of time and effort, so it’s best to list all the “materials” you will need before putting everything together.

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Hayley Zelda is a writer and marketer at heart. She’s written on all the major writing platforms and worked with a number of self-published authors on marketing books to the YA audience.

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Hobbies for Your Characters – Writers’ Resources

Just as a quirk can make your character more interesting, so can their hobbies! Having a hobby gives your character something to do, whether they stumble into the craft shop and discover a murderer or build model planes while discussing their crumbing marriage. What hobbies would you add?

  • fishkeeping/aquarist
  • cross-stitching
  • knitting
  • crocheting
  • painting (oil, acrylic, watercolor)
  • spelunking
  • reading
  • playing a musical instrument
  • cryptozoology (Big Foot, anyone?)
  • history buff
  • volunteering (there are more ideas on this here)
  • hiking
  • kayaking
  • swimming
  • fishing
  • hunting
  • poetry
  • diving
  • sailing
  • sci-fi conventions
  • historical reenactment
  • crystals (either as a rock collector or in a New Age sense)
  • antiquing
  • tarot cards
  • bicycling
  • cooking or baking
  • scrapbooking
  • gardening
  • making fishing lures
  • writing
  • traveling (by boat, plane, bicycle, motorcycle, etc)
  • martial arts
  • running
  • crafts
  • playing billiards/pool
  • watching football
  • collecting (stamps, figurines, spoons, shot glasses, etc.)
  • surfing
  • sailing
  • photography
  • horseback riding
  • parasailing
  • skydiving
  • origami
  • mountain climbing
  • golf
  • gambling
  • skateboarding
  • chess
  • yoga
  • blogging

I’ll continue to add to this least, so feel free to check back! Also take a peek at the other information on my Writers’ Resources page!

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keepingand The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

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Filed under On Writing, writers resources

Unusual Jobs for Your Characters – Writers’ Resources

I’ve already given you a list of common jobs, which are useful in many genres of writing.  But sometimes you need a career for a character that’s far beyond the norm, and that’s what this list is for!  Some of these jobs pull in a lot of money, and others are just unusual.

Check out more lists like this on my Writers’ Resources page.

If you have an idea that belongs on this page, leave me a comment and I’ll add it to the list along with your preferred link.

animator

archeologist

astronaut

bodyguard

choreographer

cruise ship captain

CIA agent

cryptozoologist (studies legendary creatures)

entertainment lawyer

exobiologist (studies life on other planets)

fashion designer

film director

fountain pen dealer

hemp/cannabis farmer

hunting guide

literary archeologist (studyies ancient writing/literature)

microbiologist

mine rescuer

Olympic athlete

paranormal investigator

paleontologist

professional athlete

professional gamer

puppeteer

royalty

royal aide

snake milker

stunt coordinator

toy designer

TV producer

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois. She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University. Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside Detective. Her short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous. Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world. You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

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Volunteer Opportunities for Your Characters – Writers’ Resources

When building a character for your novel, it’s great to give them a few quirks and a job, but a volunteer position can add a lot to their depth.  It not only makes your character more of a real person, but it might also give her a reason to be in the right place at the right time and solve the crime/win the love of her crush/tick off someone who deserves it.

Since I love just these sorts of lists when I’m writing, I’m sharing them with you!  You can find this list and more on my Writers’ Resources page.

If you have any suggestions for this list, leave me a comment!  I’ll add your idea as well as your preferred link.

animal shelter

Big Brothers Big Sisters

blood drive

booster club (athletics, band, etc)

Boy Scouts

Boys and Girls Club

churches

city cleanup

coaching

food pantry

Girl Scouts

Habitat for Humanity

historical society

homeless shelter

hospice

library

literacy program

national parks

park district

political campaign

Red Cross

retirement home

schools

soup kitchen

warming shelter

YMCA

youth center

 

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois. She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University. Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside Detective. Her short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous. Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world. You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

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Jobs for Your Characters

As a writer, you want your characters to have some depth.  Maybe they need some interesting quirks, or maybe they just need a job.  I often find that when I’m cranking along on a story, it’s really helpful to look through a list of options when I need to make a decision about a character.  While it’s by no means exhaustive, here’s a list of common jobs for you to use in your creative process.  These are the kind of jobs you’d find in any typical town, so this list is particularly helpful if you’re working on cozy mysteries.  If you think of something that should be on this list, leave a comment and I’ll add it!

Looking for more posts like this?  Check out my Writers’ Resources page!


Accountant

Artist

Attorney

Baker

Banker

Barista

Bartender

Blogger

Bus driver

Busboy

Busker

Butcher

Cab driver

Car salesman

Carpenter

Chef

Cleaning lady (or cleaning gentleman?)

Computer tech

Cook

Daycare provider

Delivery driver

Discount store clerk

Doctor

Dog groomer

Drywall finisher

EMT/paramedic

Factory worker

Fashion designer

Fast food worker

Financial advisor

Firefighter

Florist

Gas station clerk

Hair stylist

HVAC tech

Insurance agent

Janitor

Jeweler

Landlord

Librarian

Mechanic

Musician

Nurse

Painter (of either homes or landscapes)

Paralegal

Paranormal investigator

Pet sitter

Photographer

Pilot

Plumber

Police dispatcher

Police officer

Printer

Real estate agent

Secretary

Security guard

Shoe salesperson

Stable owner

Teacher

Teacher’s aid

Veterinarian

Waitress

Warehouse foreman

Web designer

Welder

Writer/author

Youtuber

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois. She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University. Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside Detective. Her short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous. Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world. You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

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Character Quirks

Quirks are handy when creating characters and may even help advance the plot. Note these aren’t necessarily bad or good things about a person, but they’re fun traits that not everyone will share. Although it’s by no means exhaustive, here’s a list of quirks you may find helpful while creating your characters. (Looking for more on writing? Visit my Writers’ Resources page.)

  • presses her lips together when she’s angry
  • sticks the tip of his tongue out of the corner of his mouth while he’s working on something
  • picks up rocks and throws them as she’s walking
  • can’t stand to eat a certain food, i.e. always picks tomatoes out of his salad
  • doesn’t like pets or animals of any kind
  • constantly corrects people, either on their grammar or their pronunciations
  • trails her fingers on plants, books, whatever is at hand as she walks
  • has trouble sleeping at night
  • constantly lies, even though she’s terrible at it
  • always has his nose in a book
  • constantly washes her hands
  • afraid to travel
  • hates confrontation so much she won’t stand up for herself, even when she’s right
  • really into science fiction, and it is a part of his life
  • won’t go anywhere without her dog
  • likes to blame everyone else for his problems
  • is neat and presentable, but her house is an absolute wreck
  • insists that his clothes be folded a certain way, but he won’t do his own laundry
  • refuses to take her husband’s last name
  • won’t drink out of a can or bottle, and has to pour it into a glass first
  • chews ice
  • always falls asleep with the TV on
  • talks in her sleep
  • thinks he’s an expert on everything
  • bad with money
  • talks to her dogs like they’re people
  • terrified of animals (or a certain kind of animal)
  • drinks a lot but functions
  • always reads subtitles even when he can understand the dialog
  • must be busy while on the phone
  • gestures with hands while talking, even if on the phone
  • always carries his own pen and refuses to use anyone else’s
  • constantly listening to music
  • drums her fingers on the counter when waiting
  • absolutely refuses to leave the house without full makeup and hair
  • despises coffee
  • obsessed with coffee
  • obsessed with eating healthy and drives everyone else nuts with it
  • obsessed with environmentally healthy products
  • always trying to sell you something (party products like Avon and Pampered chef, handmade crafts, or even a used car)
  • has kept all the porcelain dolls her mother collected
  • literally lives in a fantasy world (cosplay, D&D, etc.)
  • convinced she’s adopted
  • feels Christmas must be exactly perfect or else it’s a disaster
  • is an extreme couponer and hoards pantry and cleaning items simply because she got them cheap
  • always cold (needs blankets, socks, mitten, sweaters)
  • quit smoking and now constantly chews gum or has a toothpick in his mouth
  • always apologizes (could relate to past trauma)
  • constantly knitting things for people, even if they don’t want them
  • loves speaking with an English accent and/or using British terms, even though she’s American
  • loves British television (and thus the accent?)
  • believes in crystal healing and is constantly giving her friends stones that she believes will help them
  • hypochondriac
  • signs up for volunteer positions but never follows through with them
  • loves spending time in nature and is always outside
  • loves fountain pens and ink (this person is likely to have ink on their fingers)
  • still gets up to watch cartoons on Saturday morning
  • insists on having a perfectly clean house all the time
  • abstains from drinking any alcohol, ever (perhaps a victim of alcoholism in some way)
  • always has a book with her
  • waves at anyone who happens to drive by

This is just a handful of suggestions, but it was also a great writing exercise. What quirks have you used or seen in fiction that you think are great? Or terrible? Let me know in the comments! Please be sure to check out my Writers’ Resources page for more ideas, lists, and information on writing.

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois. She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University. Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside Detective. Her short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous. Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world. You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

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Filed under On Writing

As Long as You’re Writing…A Note to Myself

It’s not always easy to write.  For me, lately, it’s been pretty hard.  I’m constantly distracted (thank you, Internet).  Or tired.  Or I have other things I feel I should be taking care of.  Or I’m just not feeling it.

It’s difficult to find a moment of silence when you have a full house and you work from home.  It’s sometimes impossible to drown out the sound of my kids fighting right behind me or playing around with various car crash sounds on the keyboard.

And I fully admit I get frustrated when I can’t find the time to write.  It seems like I shouldn’t have to fight so hard to get past the mom-and-wife stuff just to get a few words on the page.  You know what I mean.  You’ve felt it, too.

But that’s when you have to make a fresh cup of coffee, grab your headphones, blow the cat hair off your computer, and just go for it.  Even if it’s not what you were supposed to be writing.   Maybe you should be working on a freelance job or your next great novel, but you just aren’t feeling it at all.  It’s okay.  Even if it’s something that doesn’t turn out the way you wanted and you’ll erase it later (or the cat will).  As long as you’re writing, it’s okay.

Not even kidding about the cat hair thing…

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Beating Writer Burnout

It’s Monday morning. You’ve had your coffee, your avocado toast, and your obligatory half hour in front of the TV before it’s time to shuffle across the house to your desk. But for some reason, you just can’t do it.

Or maybe it’s after dinner, when you normally take a break from the real world to work on your novel. But as soon as you grab your laptop, you know your eyes will cross if you have to read your own story yet again. It isn’t bad writing, you just can’t do it.

Dog Sleeping after Studying

You may have writer burnout. This isn’t quite the same as writer’s block, because in that situation you want to write but can’t.  When you’re burned out, you don’t even want to pick up a pen.  It happens to all of us, whether we’re getting paid or not. For me, I freelance for a living and write my own stories when I find the time. I’m always writing. Most of the time I’m thrilled to be doing so, but there are days when I just want to sit around in my fuzzy pink bathrobe and watch Star Trek.

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to help stave off burnout:

Give Yourself Goals: It’s too easy to just not write, even if it’s your livelihood. Give yourself a goal every month. If you’re writing for yourself, make it a word count or a certain number of stories. If you’re freelancing, make it a dollar amount. When you reach your goal, treat yourself to that video game that you’ve been wanting or a new shirt. People working “regular” jobs get bonuses, so why shouldn’t you?

Buy a How-to Book: There are tons of books out there on writing, and they can be just the inspiration you need to get back on track. Find one that deals specifically with the type of writing you’re trying to do, whether it’s crafting the perfect murder mystery or learning how to boost your freelancing business. This also gives you an excuse to go out to the bookstore and get some coffee!

Take a Break: When you just can’t do it anymore, don’t! There are lots of techniques for working through writer’s block, but if you’re burned out its a good idea to walk away for a little while. It gives your brain a chance to focus on something else, and maybe come up with some great ideas in the meantime!  Just make sure you go back and hit the keyboard after an hour or so.

Balance Your Checkbook: If your freelance work seems like the last thing you want to do, balance your checkbook and look at upcoming bills and expenses. For me, that’s usually enough to get my head back in the game!

Work on Something Different: There’s no written rule that you can’t have more than one story going. Tired of trying to figure out what your main character is going to do in chapter 5? Go find a new character to stalk!

While these methods aren’t going to be perfect for everyone, it’s important to give yourself scheduled breaks and avoid working too hard on one project.  Find what works for you, and keep it going even when you don’t feel burned out.  It’ll prevent future episodes and make sure those words keep coming.  Good luck!

* * *

Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Paradox, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

Be sure to check out the monthly giveaway!  Don’t forget to sign up for my mailing list for news and more!

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Filed under freelancing, On Writing