Our 2,000 Follower Celebrations Bundle is Here!

Hey, readers! If you’re one of our 2,000 followers on Twitter, you may have seen us tweeting about a surprise lately. Well, we’re here to finally release it into the world!

We’re beyond excited to be growing in the Twitter writing community and connecting with all of you, whether that be through word sprints, comments on the blog, or a few simple tweets. As a result, we decided to put together a downloadable bundle of resources to celebrate hitting 2,000 followers!

The bundle features 3 of our resources from past blogs, plus a new bonus resource we put together exclusively for this download. We hope you enjoy it and find these tools helpful!

You can also find a link to our new newsletter at the end. We’re planning on some exciting stuff in the near future, and this newsletter is the best way to keep up-to-date on all the latest Sprint Shack news. Stay tuned for more bundles like this in the future*, plus more exclusive content!

And finally: thank you, thank you, thank you for being a part of The Sprint Shack’s growth!

Click Here to Download The Bundle
Untitled

*Note: Need to find this bundle or another in the future, without scrolling through our posts? We’ll be adding them to our Writing & Sprinting Resources page as they’re released for your convenience!

Why Do I Write? – Mazie Bishop

Co-founder Note: We are very pleased to announce that Mazie Bishop will be joining us from here on out as a regular contributor to The Sprint Shack! Mazie originally wrote a guest post with us on Finding Inspiration In The Most Unlikely Of Places in June of 2014—shortly after, we reached out to her to join us for a temporary internship/contributor position to help us get through the busy time of NaNoWriMo and beyond. Mazie’s done a wonderful job and has contributed some great pieces, so we were happy to invite her to write regularly for us! Everyone give her a warm (re-)welcome as our first regular contributor!

 Now that Mazie’s a full-time member of The Sprint Shack team, let’s learn a little bit about why she writes:


Why Do I WriteA few months back, one of the wonderful co-founders, Faye Kirwin, asked a great question: Why do you write? So far we have heard the answers of Taylor Eaton, Cristina R. Guarino, and Faye herself. This time, it’s my turn!

Though this isn’t the first time I have been asked this question, I feel like this is the best possible time for me to think about the reasons I write. As mentioned before, I am graduating from college in a month, with a degree in Journalism, so right now is a great time for me to really get thinking about why I chose writing as a career; its kind of setting a tone for this new chapter in my life. But before we get all sappy and inspired we should probably talk about the reasons I started writing in the first place.

I think my love of and obsession with writing stems mainly from my fear of being forgotten. I know that it may sound morbid and ridiculous, but when I really started understanding all of the books I was reading (Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, anything by Jane Austen or Mary Shelley) I realized that these people, these authors were being kept alive solely by the books they wrote. They were household names even decades after their existence, and they will hardly be forgotten. This thought, paired with my irrational fear, created my love for writing—no matter the form.

Another reason that I write is because I have a whole lot to say. Being a quiet person, I have some trouble blurting out my ideas to people, especially in person, but when I am writing, everything flows so smoothly and all the pieces fall together. The satisfaction alone is a huge reason why I write.

Though I have had many influences that kept my knowledge of English and writing growing, it all dates back to high school, where I met Ms. Kristl Acadia. She will forever be my favourite teacher because she took the time to teach us as much as she possibly could. She was the only English and creative writing teacher that actually treated us like we could be writers some day. She sparked my love of words and poetry, and then later on when she let me take “Writer’s Craft” for a second time (even though she had to change the curriculum for me) she sparked my passion for story writing. She taught me how to build from ideas and the rest was history. As mushy as it sounds, Ms. Acadia is why I write.

I write because maybe some day, someone will stumble upon my work, and become as inspired as I was, maybe even so much that they will start writing stories and creating worlds. I write so that maybe I will inspire someone, just as much as Ms. Acadia inspired me.

So aside from writing to be remembered, and writing to inspire, lastly I just write because I love to. I love the feeling of building something with words, bringing life to my ideas and putting it all down in tangible form. That’s why I write!
_________________________________________________________________________________________________

Mazie-Bishop

Mazie Bishop is a fiery 22 year-old writer and journalism student from Canada. She is self-published and also has several poems and short fiction pieces published in various anthologies and magazines. She is a big dreamer who hopes to be writing with the big guys some day and cannot wait for her career to start! Currently, she is in the process of writing her second novel, and is in the outlining stages of a quarter-life memoir. You can read about her little crafty adventures, read her work, and gander at her photos on www.theselittlepieces.com. Follow her on Twitter at @maziebones.

Guest Post: Rewriting Mary Sue

Amy Good-RMSLast year, the social media campaign #ReadWomen2014 took the issue of women’s fiction into the mainstream. They found that not only were book reviewers missing out on women authors, but the bookshelves of the average reader lacked books written by women – and female characters in general. Lists popped up all over the internet giving readers the names of women authors and must-read books by women. And with this enhanced scrutiny, debates sprang up over whether female characters had the right to be unlikable or if we were losing all of our strong female characters to Trinity Syndrome or if audiences would ever warm to anti-heroines.

Amidst these debates, we realized there was a need for a larger discussion of female characters, beyond unlikable female characters versus strong female characters versus anti-heroines. After all, there are as many different ways to bring female characters to life as there are women in the world, but so many of the nuances of women’s personalities and experiences never make it into popular, mainstream art. We wanted to explore all of the possible aspects of female characters, and really highlight those books and authors that are able to create compelling, whole, interesting, fully-realized – unabridged – female characters with depth, strength of character, and most importantly, agency.

We strongly believe that female characters are not pawns, or tokens, or objects to be acted upon. Women in fiction should be free to make decisions that affect their own storylines, to take ownership of their own desires and motivations, and to exercise their own sense of agency and leadership. We felt  there was a real and legitimate need for a space devoted to these unabridged female characters. And by creating that space to highlight the stories (and authors) that showcase these unabridged female characters, we hoped to play at least a small part in moving this larger discussion around female characters into the mainstream.

Before we knew it, RewritingMarySue.com was born. With it, we wanted to create a site that featured more than book reviews and promotional author interviews; we felt there was a real need for articles and essays on crafting fully-realized and compelling female characters or on dismantling the stereotypes and tropes surrounding them. But we didn’t want to stop there. Over the months since Rewriting Mary Sue launched, we have added personal stories from women writers along with the books that speak to those experiences, stories of actual women who defied stereotypes to earn their place in the history books, and short stories, flash fiction, and book excerpts that showcase compelling female characters whose motivations and actions propel their stories forward.

We know in our hearts that stories matter; fiction both mirrors and shapes our realities. Books have the power to change hearts, minds, and lives. Stories can rewrite society. That’s what Rewriting Mary Sue is all about. Our words can change the world.

—-

rmsbanner

 

 

Amy Good is a U.S. writer in Dublin and the author of Rooted. She is the editor of RewritingMarySue.com, a website dedicated to highlighting compelling and unabridged female characters in fiction. She also manages @StoryBandit, a Twitter-based writing prompt generator. You can find out more about her at Amicgood.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AmicGood
Website: http://www.amicgood.com/

Karen Faris lives in Rochester NY with her husband and son. She is currently at work on The Winds of Change, a story of family and endurance. She is the author of the comedic dystopian Grumbles the Novel Trilogy. You can find out more about her at grumblesthenovel.com.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/karenafaris
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/grumblesthenovel
Website: http://grumblesthenovel.com/


Charlotte Ashlock is currently at work on Colonizing Atlantis which is not yet published. You can find out more about her at crazyidealism.com.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CrazyIdealist
Website: http://www.crazyidealism.com/

To Print or Not to Print: Digital and Print Self-Publishing

To print or notNote: this piece is geared toward writers interested in self-publishing. Find other pieces on self-publishing here.

Your book is edited and done, you’ve got a cover and you’re ready to get your masterpiece out into the world. Well hold on a second, my friend. There are still a few matters you need to attend to before you can launch your book into the world. And first of all is the matter of format. To print or not to print? That is the question.

Are you going digital?

If you ask me, there’s no reason not to produce your book in e-format. Sure, it’s most writers’ dream to hold a print copy of their book in their hands, but you know what more and more readers enjoy? Ebooks. Ebooks are great because they’re typically cheaper than print books and can all be stored in one lightweight reader. You can literally take 100 books with you wherever you go without collapsing under that staggering weight of print copies.

You may have a good reason not to produce your book digitally, and that’s fine. But I am a huge believer in the power of ebooks. So do yourself a favor and put your book out there as an ebook, at least in ADDITION to a print book.

So why should you do print?

When you sell a print version of your book, it helps boost ebook sales. Think about it – whenever you look at a book on Amazon and see that it’s $13.99 (plus shipping) for a print version, but then underneath it is an ebook version for just $2.99, you’re inclined to go for the better (cheaper) deal.

But aside from helping to sell your ebook, some of your true fans might like a hard copy of your book. And maybe you would too? For your bookshelf? To show off to friends?

Ultimately, the perk of selling hard copies of your book is because – since they’re priced higher – you make more money off of each sale.

Why shouldn’t you do print?

Before you dive into getting your book into print, make sure you evaluate whether it would really behove you to do so.

For instance, Is your book short? Is it worth it to print? For example, I do not print my flash fiction collections. They’re short things (only 20 or so pages and priced at just $0.99 per ebook), so charging any more than that for readers to buy a print version would not bring in much revenue for me. Nor would it be doing a service to my readers.

Also keep in mind that it takes time to format the book for printing. You’ll need to be meticulous about doing this if you’re taking the task on yourself. Otherwise you may want to look into hiring someone to take care of this process for you.

You’ll also need to make sure that when you have a cover made, you also get a spine and back cover made along with it. This can get costly, but you will want to keep your book looking professional, and all print books have a cohesive feel from the front cover to the back.

And lastly, it’ll take time. You’ll need to review the sample copies and make sure everything looks right.

How should I approach printing?

There are plenty of options for creating print copies of your book, but I think that the best approach to this for new self-publishers in the Print-on-Demand (PoD) approach. Rather than having to print and bulk and keep stock in your home or office, you can produce your book with a PoD company that can print a copy of your book and ship it whenever an order for it comes through. There are various PoD companies, but the biggest ones are CreateSpace (owned by Amazon) and Lightning Source.

~

So that’s the quick and dirty rundown of producing your book in ebook and print formats. Got questions? Or have any tips? Add them in the comments below!

New Book Alert! Faye Kirwin’s “The Writember Workbook”

Exciting news, folks! Friday 1st May marked the launch of co-founder Faye Kirwin’s first e-book, The Writember Workbook. Clocking in at 274 pages, the workbook teaches authors how to use psychology to master the art of writing every day and is now available at Writerology.net.

Want to make writing a habit? The Writember Workshop will help you make that dream a reality. Over 32 lessons, you'll use psychology to master the art of daily writing—because your words matter.

If you’ve ever thought about writing on a regular basis, there’s never been a better time to make it a reality.

Over the course of the Writember Workshop, you’ll learn how to build the ultimate writing routine, find your personal motivation triggers, inspire yourself on demand and master self-discipline. The aim: to make writing a habit.

Interested? Then pick the programme that best suits you:

The Committed to Creativity Programme

The Guided Workbook

If you’re the go-it-alone type, then the newly released Writember Workbook will let you work through the 32 lessons and worksheets at a pace that suits your lifestyle. You’ll also be given access to the Writember Twitter and Facebook communities and receive a monthly email to keep you accountable on your daily writing journey.

The Serious About Storytelling Programme

The Ultimate Accountability E-Course

If you prefer accountability and personalised support, then the Writember e-course is more up your street. In this programme, you’ll have a lesson and worksheet delivered to your inbox every day for a month, receive one-to-one coaching, and get a free copy of the Writember Workbook.

Want to make writing a habit? The Writember Workshop will help you make that dream a reality. Over 32 lessons, you'll use psychology to master the art of daily writing—because your words matter.

Want to take part in the Writember Workshop? Head on over to Writerology and enrol on your perfect programme!

Still not sure? Hear about the workshop from a past student, Kristen Kieffer of She’s Novel, who now has a stunning writing streak of over 60 days:

“Struggle no more! I was a binge writer banging out 1,000s of words once every couple of weeks before I found the Writember Workshop, and it was plain to see that my writing wasn’t getting any better. I knew I had a problem, but I still struggled with adopting the daily writing mentality.

The Writember Workshop held me accountable for the length of the course and taught me how to sustain my writing habit once the month was over. I now write every single day and my work is visibly improving. Three cheers for Faye and her amazing course!”

~

Tell us what you think of the Writember Workbook in the comments below or get your own copy here!

How Writing “for Publication” (Nearly) Killed My Love for The Craft

Okay, oUntitledkay—let’s take a step back for a minute.

My love for writing is certainly nowhere near dead, but for a short while there, I was worrying it might be. I haven’t been writing much at all lately (or, technically, not just “lately.” My productivity has been dropping for quite some time now, as many of my blog posts this year have shown). When I do try to muster the strength to write, I often find excuses to avoid it or discourage myself with negative thoughts about my skills, my works in progress, or the likelihood that I’ll continue my writing streak. I’ve always been hard on myself, but I do remember a time when I enjoyed writing and persevered even when it wasn’t going so smoothly—so what’s different now?

I think I’ve made a mistake this past year or two that’s seriously hindered the enjoyment I’ve always found in writing, and maybe my skills themselves, to some extent: I’ve been focusing too heavily on “getting published” and not enough on writing good stories that make me happy.

Now, for someone whose ultimate goal is to see her books on shelves, it makes sense that I’d do some research on the publishing process and apply that knowledge to my work. In fact, for a while, the things I was learning through various industry blogs and podcasts greatly helped my writing, as I started seeing my plot and characters from the point of views of readers, editors, agents, and publishers—not just from my excited god-playing eyes. I identified weaknesses in my process and my stories, themselves, and even received some excellent feedback from an editor who rejected a short story I was submitting around this time last year. I thought I was on the right track, and for a while, I was. Until I wasn’t.

Now, don’t get me wrong—if you want your work published, especially traditionally so, you need to have some insider knowledge. But I did something that the authors from one of my favorite insider sources, the podcast Writing Excuses, often warn against: I let my obsession with seeing my name on a book spine eclipse the hard work it takes to get there. I focused too heavily on the end, and often overlooked the means. As a result, I continuously found myself in this vicious cycle:

  1. Open up Fleeting, my Fantasy work in progress, which I was convinced would be my first published novel.
  2. Realize that I haven’t worked on it in some time because I’ve taken too long (3 years and counting) to work through this first draft and I’m completely disengaged from the story, and as a result, I have no idea where to begin.
  3. Get overwhelmed. Close the project and consider working on some writing prompts, or a short story I’m excited about, instead.
  4. Decide against those options. They aren’t pieces I can publish, so why waste my time when I could be working on my WIP? They say young writers should “finish everything they start,” so I shouldn’t start a new project until I’m done with this one.
  5. Open up WIP one more time. Get overwhelmed again. Close it and give up on writing for the night entirely.

Let me just emphasize this: this pattern is toxic. You’d think that after all the podcasts I’ve listened to, all the blog posts I’ve read, all the advice I’ve doled out myself, I’d have realized way before this point that it’s okay (if not necessary) to put down my WIP if it’s discouraging me from writing altogether. It’s okay to work on something that probably won’t get published, because those pieces are often the ones that shape our writing the most. And it’s okay to just have fun with your first drafts and not worry so much about what an agent or publisher will think, because forced writing is stiff. The writing you enjoy working on is the writing readers enjoy reading, and it’s the only kind that breathes that proverbial life into its world and its characters.

Of course, this may not be the case for those who are already published and have deadlines to meet for future publications—but for authors like myself, who have still yet to come close to publishing a work, I feel it’s best to enjoy the writing first and shape it for publication later. That’s what revisions are for!

So, I’m going to take some of my own advice for once and cut myself some slack. Rather than force my way through a story I’m not currently enjoying writing, I’m going to pick up Faye’s new e-book Writember and get to work on making enjoyable writing a daily habit.

What do you write for fun? Is publication a factor when working on a first draft, or is it something that doesn’t come into play until you’re in revisions? Let me know!

We’ve Got You Covered: A Guide to Book Covers for Indie Authors

coveredNote: this piece is geared toward writers interested in self-publishing. Find other pieces on self-publishing here.

So you’ve writing your book (or maybe you’ve already finished writing it). You’ve set a launch date and are working your way through revisions. Now comes the fun part – at least in my opinion – THE COVER!

Why You Should Care About Your Cover

I have news for you: people actually DO judge a book by its cover – especially when deciding whether they want to buy it. As an indie writer, you get to be the one who calls the shots at every step of your book’s development. This includes cover design. And I will warn you: the cover is not something to take lightly. Your cover is the aesthetic realization of your creative labor – you want it to be stunning and accurately reflect the content of your book.

What a Great Book Cover Can Do For You

An exceptional cover works to do multiple things for you. It attracts new readers, boosts sales, and breaks the indie stereotype of unprofessionalism. Ultimately, a good cover means your book can (visually) compete with the thousands of other books out there. If other self-published authors and traditional publishing houses are using breathtaking covers, you better be too.

Why You Should Probably Hire A Designer

I don’t care how much you like the cover you created yourself. Or how talented of a photographer you are. Unless you have a lot of experience in graphic design, I would strongly recommend you hire a designer to do your book cover. Don’t jeopardize your success with a sub-par cover.

Components of a Great Cover

Your book cover should be many things. But, in particular, it should be:

  • Eye-catching. This will help you stand out from the crowd and attract new readers.
  • Professional. As mentioned above, you need to have a professional cover. Make sure you’re presenting your work and yourself as professionally as possible.
  • Accurate. There should be no typos in your book title. And further more, it should accurately reflect the content of your book. Look at other books in your genre. If you’re writing a romance, make sure the cover LOOKS and FEELS like a romance cover. The same goes for if you’re writing fantasy, science fiction, literary fiction, non-fiction, etc. You want your reader to know what kind of book they’re getting into just by looking at the cover (this way you head off bad reviews from people who were expecting a fantasy epic but instead got historical fiction).
  • Formatted Correctly. Make sure that the digital file of your cover meets the correct requirements/specifications for each platform you upload it to. The same goes for submitting your cover for Print On Demand services.

Where to Find Designers

So where do you go to find a great cover design? I have a few recommendations (based on personal experience and word-of-mouth suggestions):

  • Fiverr. I personally get most of my designs from Fiverr. There are tons of highly rated and talented artists there that will make you a custom cover starting from $5. The rates vary, depending on the kind of cover you want, but it is usually one of the most affordable options.
  • 99 Designs. I hear a lot of indie authors using this site where graphic designers compete to design this cover, meaning you end up with a good amount of options to pick from. This is a more pricey option. They have various packages that give you more services, but your looking at spending a few hundred dollars here.
  • Freelancing Sites. You can often find freelance graphic designers on sites like Elance, oDesk, etc. I only warn that you do not pay upfront – make sure to receive your cover (or at least a sample of it) first before paying. You want to make sure you like your cover and that it’s good quality. Pricing here varies.
  • Social Media. If you can’t seem to find a great designer, head to Twitter or other social media platforms to start your search. Send out a post saying you’re looking for a designer. Or do some digging around with keyword searches. Who knows what you might find. Again, pricing varies.

~

So there you have it. Making sure you have a great cover is one of the most crucial steps in self-publishing. Do you have any tips for covers? Any designers you’d recommend? Let me know in the comments below!