Thursday, October 22, 2009

Guest Blogger: Janice Curran of Featured Friends

Janice Curran, a published short story author, freelance copywriter, and host of the popular "Featured Friends" blog on Facebook joins us today to discuss her writing process, how writers can use social networking sites to market their work, and the differences between writing short versus long fiction. Make sure you leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway drawing. Details at the end.

Q: Welcome Janice! Please tell us what you write and where you've been published so far.

A: Hi, Kelly. Thanks for inviting me to spend time with you and your readers. I’m a big fan of Thinking Write: The Secret to Freeing Your Creative Mind. (Read my Amazon review here: )

I’ve written professionally since my first job as a reporter for a small weekly newspaper. I’ve worked as a staff writer for a resort and leisure company and senior writer/editor for a children’s mental health organization. As a freelancer, I’ve written articles as well as marketing and ad copy. In recent years, I’ve pointed my pen toward my lifelong love: fiction. My short stories, mostly sweet to sweetly sensual light romances, have been published in True Love, True Romance, True Confessions and New Love Stories magazines. I’ve not been published in novel-length—yet.

Q: What is your writing process and schedule?

A: I write or undertake other writing-related projects most every day starting first thing in the morning. I usually get up between 4-5 a.m. when the world around me is relatively quiet. Although I do go back to writing later in the day, I find the early morning to be my most productive time.

As for my process, I just sit down at the computer and write, usually after I review the previous session’s writing. In the pre-writing stage, I get to know my characters a little by writing in longhand what I know about them and come to know as I’m scribbling. I also use a combination of plotting techniques to construct a very basic map of where I think the story should go, from inciting incident through the act and story climaxes and resolution. (Thank you, Christopher Vogler, Dwight Swain, Donald Maass, Syd Field, Billy Mernit, John Vorhaus, Jennifer Crusie, Robin L. Perini and Alexandra Sokoloff!) Outlining drains me, so I don’t get too detailed.

Q: What are similarities and differences in writing short story fiction versus book length fiction?

A: With a short story, I’m done sooner! Seriously, I see a short story as a microcosm of a novel. The basic rules remain the same. I still need to develop characters with goals, motivations and conflicts. I still need structure to give the stories shape. The revisions are much easier for a short story, of course, because I’m working with somewhere between 700 and 8,000 words, which is the range my target markets accept. The shorter word count does limit how in-depth I can go with a character’s story and how many characters and complications I can include. On the positive side, I don’t have to do as much pre-planning. It’s easier to carry the structure in my head.

Q:You host a mini-blog on Facebook called “Featured Friends.” Tell us about that.

A: “Featured Friends” is a free service for writers that’s posted on my Facebook wall. I feature a tip on writing or writing life from one of my Facebook friends—hence, the name. I try to make my community of friends a welcome place for serious networkers. The range of writers and others in, or associated with, the publishing industry who’ve posted tips on my wall is impressive, as is their advice. I schedule the presenters, then sit back and learn along with everyone else. Anyone who writes, edits, represents writers, etc. is invited to friend me:

Q: What are some effective ways that writers can use Facebook and other online social networks to promote their work?

A: Although I'm not an expert on social networking, I do have personal success with it. I went from 0 to 700+ Facebook “friends” in only a few months just by posting tips from the pros. Name recognition building, networking … they’re definitely a couple of the big benefits. You never know where new friendships might lead—maybe even to a guest appearance on an author’s blog! Beyond that I’ve met some really great people, a few of whom I’ve gotten to know better since. Personally, I think that’s the best part of being on Facebook.

Q: What guests do you have lined up on your Featured Friends blog?

A: On Monday, October 26, between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Eastern time, Dana Lynn Smith will be posting and taking questions on “The Most Common Mistakes Authors Make on Twitter.” Dana is a book marketing coach and author of several books, including Twitter Guide for Authors, Facebook Guide for Authors and The Savvy Book Marketer's Guide to Successful Social Marketing. (Check out her Web site: For free book marketing tips visit )

Sometime in November, in honor of National Novel Writing Month, new Silhouette Special Edition author Amanda S. Berry ( will be posting on taking a book-in-a-month manuscript from first draft to publication.

The posts will remain on my wall, so even if people can’t experience the live presentation, they can read and benefit from the tips later. While they’re there, they can scroll down the wall to read tips from past presenters Jacquie D’Alessandro, Angie Fox, CJ Lyons, Lori Avocato, Holly Jacobs, Jenny Gardiner, Janet Gover, Carolyn Howard-Johnson, Sandra Sookoo, Brooke London, Rebecca Royce, Bethany Morgan, Kathye Quick, Cathy Stucker, Donna Collins, Shirley McCann, Tina Gallagher, Kathleen Coddington, Rosemary Goodwin, Denise Vitola, Jon F. Merz, Autumn Jordon, Tess Quinn/Nisha Sharma, Cathy Neumueller, Pattie Giordani and, of course, Kelly L. Stone. Everyone is welcome to stop by:

Thank you again, Kelly, for the opportunity to share in the Thinking Write discussion. And thanks to everyone who took the time to visit!

From Kelly~

Thank you for joining us, Janice.

Please make sure you drop by Janice's Featured Friends blog on Facebook!

Everyone who leaves a comment on this post will be entered into a drawing to win a free TIME TO WRITE online class lecture packet from yours truly. Leave a comment by midnight on Sunday, October 24th to be in the drawing-- winner announced Monday morning.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Great Review of TIME TO WRITE

TIME TO WRITE got a great review today over at Petit Fours and Hot Tamales blog. Check it out:

Friday, October 16, 2009

Weekly Creativity Tip: Music

This week's creativity tip is on music. For your current writing project, pick a song that has lyrics that match the theme of what you are writing, or make a play list on your ipod of songs that inspire you to write on your project. Listen to that song or playlist only when you write. After a few days, the song/playlist will become linked in your subconscious to writing, and stimulate your creativity while you're working.

Please don't forget to sign up for my online class "FREE YOUR CREATIVE MIND" by the end of October. You'll learn a lot more ways to access and use the power of your subconscious mind for creativity and writing purposes.

Happy writing,

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Weekly Creativity Tip: Steeping

This week's creativity tip is something I call "steeping" yourself in your writing. You do this before you go to bed for the night. Surround yourself with your writing or creativity project; for writers you can read your outline notes, look at character collages, or generate a question about your plot. Then you go to sleep, and think about your story while you're drifting off. Focus on what it is that you need help with-- plot points, character development, or ideas for a nonfiction project.

Usually an answer to your questions will come to you within about 2 weeks, and will usually be in the form of a sudden flash of insight, so be prepared.

I've used steeping to help me put together book proposals. For a few weeks before bed I'll re-read my notes and focus on the writing project. I ask my subconscious mind to provide the answers to any missing pieces that will make the project a success.

Usually I get a picture in my head a few weeks later of what the final book should look like, including sections of chapters that are missing. My subconscious mind usually provides me answers in the form of pictures or symbols-- you may see words or ideas might "pop" into your mind at odd times of the day. You have to practice to learn how your subconscious provides you with information.

Use steeping the next time you come up against writer's block or need a fresh idea, and let me know how it works for you.