Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Experiment with emotions/expressions


In the writer’s quest to show and not tell body language plays an important role. Slumped shoulders, shoulders thrown back, shrugged shoulders—they all say something without words. Facial expressions show universal emotions—body language understood around the world. They convey happiness, sadness, fear, pride, surprise, disgust, anger, sadness, and more. You might call it a universal language and one your readers will understand. For this prompt I've provided the following list to help spur your creativity. Remember to choose strong verbs to show the action.

face expresion

Face emotion

  • Eyes: damp, wide, close, pointing down, raised, wide and staring, cast down, tearful, staring, wide open, dilated pupils, slightly raised, steady gaze, squinting, looking away, turned away, staring at nothing, glazed over, gazing, crows-feet wrinkles
  • Eyebrows: thrust together (furrowing brow), arched, one brow raised, tilted outwards with outer edges lower, wrinkled forehead
  • Nose: nostrils flared, wrinkled
  • Lips: trembling lower lip, pinched, pursed, puckered, smiling, slightly parted, pressed together, nibble lower lip, closed, pulled to the side, curled in a sneer
  • Jaw: mouth gaping, slack jawed, tight, muscles twitching, clenched
  • Chin: pulled in, jutted, chattering

     

    Today’s writing prompt: Show facial emotions

    This prompt can be for a human, animal, or even an alien lifeform. Pick your character(s) and write a short scene that shows three of these emotions. Add other details like position of the head, facial color (pale, blushing, turning purple), and gestures like tugging on hair, twirling a strand of hair, raking fingers through hair, etc. for added oomph. For bonus points, get the ears involved. Show what they hear and how they react.

  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Boredom
  • Contempt
  • Desire
  • Disgust
  • Envy
  • Fear
  • Happiness
  • Interest
  • Pity
  • Relief
  • Shame
  • Surprise


 

Monday, January 09, 2023

A Look At the Book Industry

To all my pymwritingprompts readers, today we have a guest post by author Lillian Brummet. It's not a writing prompt, but it is a topic close to the hearts of many of you and one you will find helpful. And for those of you here for a prompt, today's prompt is writing related: set a book promotion goal and put it into practice.


A Look at the Book Industry

 

Let's start by taking a realistic look at the current environment:

Studies show us that book sales have grown exponentially since 2020, especially the e-book and audio sectors which grew by 30%. So that is really good news. Writers, too, are publishing more frequently - stats show that between 1,000 and 6,000 new books are released in the English language every single day. 



Sadly, for every 10 booklovers - only 2 of them are actually reading a book right now - due to:

  •   Budget constraints 
  •   Limited schedules 
  •  Competition via free audio, streaming video, podcasts and online TV/movie alternatives (i.e. Prime & Netflix) 
  • Free e-books: Previously, authors giving away books as a "promotion" created a sector of readers who now do not want to pay for books. At one time this "free" promotion was seen as the thing to do, now experts don't recommend it. 

Offer your book at a discount sales price, for a limited time

 

The best advice I could give others when it comes to struggling with all the data out on pricing books, running sales or hosting promotional events is this: 

  • Offer your book as a free prize only for a particular event, one that has a deadline. 
  • Offer it at a discount sales price, for a limited time - but not for free. *You don't ask your plumber to fix your sink for free just because you might call him again later on. 
  • Set the retail price accordingly: The best price range for e-books is (US) $1.99 - 3.99 and $4.99 - 5.99 for nonfiction educational e-books. 
  • Prices for sales, special discounts or coupons prices are $.99-1.99


 

The reality is that it can take 6-12 months of performing daily marketing activities for a new author to build an audience, or to get an audience for a new genre you are branching out into. 

Most authors burn out their finances, promotional activities, and direct contacts during the first 3-18 months of a book release. This is called the Honeymoon Period in the industry: When the joy-joy excitement runs out, exhaustion sets in and authors tend to give up. This is when they have to roll up their sleeves and dig into the tedious work ahead.

Studies show that only 1 in 40,000 authors sell more than 1000 copies of their book, and most sell less than 100, due to not being prepared - they need to have the mind-set of an entrepreneur. A marketing plan should last for the life of each book - including new editions, rewrites, changing over to a new publisher and releasing in other formats or expanding into new venues like e-courses or webinars - as one does during the lifeline for each book. 

While online sales account for a majority of book sales, studies are showing that direct sales are increasing, although only a small number of those are through traditional book retail outlets. There are a large number of alternative platforms for readers too, some enjoy subscription books, others prefer vlogs or flipbooks or audio books or Vella. Also, contrary to popular thought - the age of a book seldom plays a role for a reader; the important thing is that the content is not out-dated. 

What this means is that the marketing efforts for each book lasts for its entire lifespan until it is no longer available to purchase. Therefore you need to learn to be tenacious and self-disciplined. Studies also show that we have to attract or intrigue that book-lover 7-15 times before they will reach in their pocket and buy a book, or put it in their wish list or to-be-read list. 

So the issue here is how to stand out among these billions of books like a purple snowflake in a snowstorm, attract those few active book readers, and to continue to do this over a long period of time. 

About author Lilliam Brummet

Lillian and her husband Dave are the team behind Brummet Media Group, high-fiving cheerfully as they pass each other on the way from checking off one item or other from their long to-do list. Be sure to check out their guidebook for writers: Purple Snowflake Marketing on Amazon!

 

Visit the Brummets @: www.BrummetMedia.ca  -&- drop by their Amazon Author page @: https://amazon.com/author/lillianbrummet

 

 

Sunday, January 01, 2023

Let's start a new page

 As the calendar turns over to a new year it's easy to look back as a writer and say you didn't do enough. Don't get bogged down in the past. Look forward to the New Year. Let's start a new page! 


 Today's writing prompt - Start a new page

Today's PYM prompt is going to take a new direction. I want you to sit down and write out a list of what you want to accomplish as a writer this year. Do you want to finish that book you've been working out for a few years? Write it down. Want to get published? What will it take. The key is to write goals that are measurable and that you have control over. Wanting to get published is more a wish. You don't have control over whether your writing is accepted and published, but you do have control over whether you are submitting for publication. So your goal should be more along the lines of "submit something once a month for publication."


 

For your first draft write it all down. Everything on your mind. Then go back and look at what is attainable. What you want to accomplish most. Writing a book takes time and promoting a book takes time. If you're working full time it can be difficult to find the time to do any more than that. So set your priorities. The thing(s) you want to finish this year are your "A" goals. Mark things you'd really like to do but probably don't have time for as "B" goals. Mark the rest as "C" goals and eliminate them from this year's goals. Now you know what you really want to accomplish this year.

Take those "A" goals and write down what it will take to accomplish those goals. These will become your monthly goals for the year. Such goals may be things like setting aside writing time each day. Maybe even specify how much time you plan to set aside. Or things like researching writing markets for story ideas to target specific markets for publication.

Start this year with new hope. Make a plan. Give yourself something to aim at to reach your writing dreams.

Monday, December 05, 2022

Writing exercise for the muse: picture prompt

Today's Pumping Your Muse prompt is a picture prompt writing exercise. I chose these images to challenge your muse to describe something new with elements of things familiar. As writers, no matter our genre, we will come across things we need to describe that stump us. The more we write, the more we learn to overcome these challenges. 


I remember when writing The Inheritance coming across a scene where it said the character gave an incredulous look. I stopped. The choice of words showed nothing. It screamed "passive telling." Something we don't want in our writing. I looked up the word hoping to find a something more descriptive but it didn't help. So I went into the bathroom and looked into the mirror and practiced giving an incredulous look. That visual helped me find the words I needed. You know, the lip curling into a sneer kind of thing.


Today's writing exercise: picture prompt

Using a picture prompt can do the same with your backdrop; your worldbuilding. I chose the image below because I think it is different enough to challenge most of you, but also creative enough to inspire fantasy writers and children's writers. The idea is to challenge your muse to describe what you see, but don't limit it to the sense of sight. Include strong verbs that let the reader feel, smell, and sense where they are. If this picture doesn't inspire, use one of the others above.


The benefit of this writing exercise

Why practice describing something unfamiliar, different, or unknown to you? Because you will come across such things in your writing. When I was ghostwriting western romance, I had plenty of things I had to research and describe. Like the inside of a train carrying passengers from New York to Cheyenne. As a fantasy writer, I often describe things not of this world. What does the portal look like? How does it work? Does it have a smell? Or showing how magic works. In my current WIP, one of the characters has the ability to make things grow, and when he comes across a swath of trees cut down by loggers, he uses his magic to tap into the life in the stumps and regrow the trees quickly. I thought time lapse photography, but what about how it feels? What about the smell? Include the senses as your write your description. Enjoy the journey!

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Image credit: Artist Iris Esther

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Sense of touch writing prompt

As writers we seek to create words that leave the page and create an image in the mind of readers. Not a static image, but a moving picture that draws the reader into a corporeal experience. Russian born American writer Ayn Rand said it this way. "Words are a lens to focus one's mind." If the reader walks through a field with our character we want them to hear the crunch of snow under boots, or feel the stiff winter breeze make eyes water, smell the wood smoke in the crisp air, and when we spot the cabin in the distance we want them to draw a conclusion. In other words, we work to engage the senses and sometimes it’s not as easy as one would think.


Today’s writing prompt is and exercise in the sense of touch. It is designed to help practice putting into words tangible details of what our hands feel and the thought process as we take in that information. For instance, if you touch an orange, what does it feel like? It’s easy to come up with words for how it tastes: Tangy, tasty, sweet, sour, delicious, or juicy. But how does it feel? If I tossed one to you and you caught it, you might say it feels like a ball. But what of the texture and other features? Is it smooth, rough, or somewhere in between? What about its weight? What is its shape? Is it big or small? Wide or narrow? Squishy or hard? Solid or springy?


Sense of touch writing prompts

For this writing prompt, I offer a couple of possibilities.

1) For this first writing exercise it is helpful to have a buddy. Tell them you will be playing a game where you will be blindfolded and will have to guess what you are touching. Have them select random items and place them in a box. I suggest at least 10 things and a box at least the size of a shoe box.
 
Equipped with your box of things, video your blindfolded self guessing what it is you are touching. With each item, talk out loud about what you feel and what you think as you figure it out. What led you to your conclusion? That is the gold you seek in your writing. The details you want to include in your writing. 
 

 

2) The second writing prompt option is to do something new. Again, video yourself during the experience. Talk about what you feel and what you think. Here are a few ideas.

  • Get a pedicure
  • Go for a walk in the rain
  • Get a massage
  • Try waxing some part of your body
  • Give yourself a facial

Practicing the expression of the thought process in relation to the sense of touch will help prepare you to bring life to your writing. Have fun with this one!