I was nine when I spoke to Dad for the last time. I’d forgotten to thank him for a birthday present. I believe it was a Radio Shack radio.
“You forgot, huh?” he said, on the phone.
Long pause. I was a sensitive kid. I think I knew that my nine years as his son were about to get gutted.
“Screw off,” he told me, a thousand miles, and a two-month old divorce, away.
I remember Mom grabbing the phone and screaming, “What did you say? What did you say to him?” until she was crying as hard as I was.
Ten years later, he’d finally succeeded in drinking himself dead. As I stood over his coffin, I was out of tears. And regrets. I was out of everything, even breath. But I shoved a goodbye through the scar tissue. I found some words.
“Thanks for the radio, Dad.”
I have a special 150 word story for you. This one was written by a friend of mine. I had no idea he wrote at all, but apparently he stumbled on one of my stories and was inspired! Kirk Sandberg is always a man who surprises you, one way or another. Thanks Kirk!
The Cowardly Skydiver by Kirk Sandberg
At the age of 43 he made the decision to jump out of a plane.
The idea scared the shit out of him but the reward of finally feeling like a real man was worth it. So all geared up away he flew — the plane’s door open during the whole flight.
Trying hard not to gag in front of anyone he approached the door once they were above the clouds.
Don’t think you coward! Just jump! What’s the worst that could happen? Living like this is far worse than the shoot not opening, he thought.
So he jumped and fell towards the Earth at 120 mph.
He felt at peace as he fell. Frantic thoughts did not cross his mind as one might think. Just peace.
When he hit the ground and stood up tears filled his eyes.
He would never be a real man.
That ship sailed long ago.
I love to learn. I don’t always have time to learn, mind you, but I love to learn. The huge selection of classes out there makes it both easy and tough to get started. Many options can be too many options. And who’s credible? Who has the class to give a good class? I’ve taken dozens of courses online and found Udemy to be a favorite. They have a robust community who give honest feedback so shopping via starred reviews is a dependable way to spend your hard-earned dough!
I thought it would be useful to share the three best online classes for writers that I’ve enjoyed most, and that tried the hardest to enrich my life.
Scrivener For Windows – A Quick And Easy Guide
If you use Scrivener (or want to) you may be overwhelmed by its features and interface. Yes, it’s a useful piece of software but it’s also hard to get around. The best advice I ever got when it comes to Scrivener is, “Take a class to learn how to use it.” I took this course and got a good sense of how the software can fit into my writing process — and how it can’t.
How to Plan and Outline a Novel (Using Scrivener)
Sean Platt does an excellent job of showing us how he and his partners at Sterling & Stone leverage Scrivener to outline the beats of their story. Sean guides us through fleshing out the big picture, honing in on the stuff that makes the story work and then summing it up in an elevator pitch that will resonate for that chance meeting with Spielberg. This course kicked me in the butt and got me out of a writing funk last summer.
Write a Novel Outline From Scratch
If writers block is an issue it can help to listen to someone talk about process. Simply copying someone’s routine can be inspiring. Write a Novel Outline from Scratch dives into the creative flow and it helped me crawl out of a rut. It’s a solid course that walks you through Andrew Butcher’s take on outlining. While I didn’t agree with him all the time I appreciate the depth of thought he puts into his routine. I benefited from this course.
What helpful online courses have you taken? Please let us know in the comments! I’m pining to take a course in comic book writing…
Note: These courses include affiliate links. You’ll still pay the same amount you would otherwise pay, but I get 40% of the cost if you sign up. Thanks so much for your support!
If you’re a writer and you’ve wanted to try Facebook advertising for your books, then check out this great graphic… straight from the horse’s mouth!
It’s such a concise breakdown, it makes me wonder why they can’t be this succinct with the Facebook interface. Haha. I’m laughing at my joke, which makes one of us.
But let’s break it down from a writer’s perspective:
Tie your text to your visual – I love this advice and I’d imagine you do too. Us writers love to be told to tie stuff together! The point here is that the image and the text should not be isolated. Tell a story. Flex those storyteller muscles.
Create different ads for different people – It’s a lot of work but it’s necessary. Identify your audience and then break it down further to find strata of that audience. For example, Facebook will allow you to identify people who love your genre. But you can also break them down into people who love your genre who are also parents of kids with ebook readers.
Speak to your audience – For every large swath of audience type, craft your ad for them specifically. So for the general Fantasy fan, include an image of your cover. For the Fantasy fan who loves to use her Kindle, show the cover displayed on a Kindle Fire. When you identify the audiences, don’t just write the same copy for all of them. Use words that will stand out for them. For the Fantasy loving Kindle owner, mention Fantasy, Kindles and even if the book is free for Kindle Unlimited customers. Does that make sense? If not, let me know in the comments!
Be recognizable – This is your chance to identify yourself to your potential customer. Use images that have consistency. Think about putting a logo on your images. Have a strong voice and a call to action that’s all yours. For example, my ads for the Camelot Kids usually include, “Armor up with The Camelot Kids!”
Keep it short and sweet – Want them to buy? Why should they? Want them to sign up for newsletter? Why should they?
Stick to one call-to-action – At the end of your ad building you’ll be asked to choose one call-to-action. This will give you a button inside the post that reads “Buy” or “Download” or “Sign Up”. Everything you write and every image you post should drive people to the action you want them to take.
Mention price – Specifically, mention the regular price and the current lower price ;-)
Include timeframe – My favorite is “For a limited time”.
I have only one thing to add and it will save you a lot of money. Do not rush the copy for your ad. It’s SO easy to be in the middle of crafting an ad on Facebook when, all of a sudden, a wave of excitement crashes over you. In a way, it’s similar to posting a regular post on Facebook! You can’t wait to see how people respond, right? Big mistake. Preferably, you should write the ad and choose the image even before you start crafting the ad on Facebook.
Do you use Facebook to advertise? How’s it going? If not, why not? Let us know in the comments!
I’m writing this before I get to meet you, but I’m sure I had a great time. You’re my people!
I just wanted to give you some easy links to some of the stuff I either mentioned, or intended to mention…
First, here’s a great cheat sheet by Facebook on writing ad copy.
Second, here is Mark Dawson’s course on building your newsletter list.
Third, here’s my post on how Twitter recommends you promote your tweets.
And finally, here’s a comprehensive list of WordPress themes that authors can use to sell books.
You can browse through all of my posts about online book promotion here.
Comment on any of my posts if you have questions and I’ll get back to you quickly.
Good luck and have fun!
P.S. I promised I’d share the blog tour company I used. Here they are!
If you use them, please let them know I sent you!
Did I forget anything? Let me know in the comments.