Jennifer Lyon

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Monday, February 29th, 2016
Multiplicity (Or How to Deal with a Muse Who Runs with Scissors) by Silver James

Today I’m welcoming author and friend Silver James to the blog to talk about how she juggles writing multiple projects, often working on several books at the same time. She has some awesome tips to share on how she wrangles her out-of-control muse into a creative process that allows her to write and publish an impressive five to ten books a year. So without further delay, here’s Silver James!

Multiplicity (Or How to Deal with a Muse Who Runs with Scissors)

Iffy & scissors smallThis is my Muse. Her name is Iffy. She runs with scissors and is quite dangerous. She also runs in circles, loves chocolate and spends way too much time on stock photo sites looking at shirtless men. Her imagination is way too active and she delights in waking me up in the middle of the night, whispering sweet nothings about new story ideas in my ear. Back before I was published, this wasn’t so much a problem. Well, other than the insomnia-inducing whispering.

Then I sold my first book to a small press, quickly followed by five more. They didn’t schedule a book for release until all the steps had been met. While still pursuing a traditional publishing track, I also took the plunge into self-publishing. When I inked my first two-book deal with Harlequin Desire, I was suddenly faced with hard deadlines based on HQ’s schedule—books set for release before they were finished, plus promises I’d made to my readers on the self-published side. For a disorganized sort, this was my worst nightmare. No really. I had all these stories, all demanding my time and attention. I’d be working on a sexy contemporary for Desire (billionaire cowboys) and my military SpecOps wolf shifters would hijack my brain. I’d madly jot down that idea—usually resulting in a scene with anywhere from 250 to 2500 words. We won’t even talk about pesky vampires, dragons, fae, and the human FBI agent charged with wrangling them. Ah, the joys of being a hybrid author!

To clarify, I have five active series: Red Dirt Royalty for Harlequin, The Penumbra Papers (self-published urban fantasy), Moonstruck (self-published military wolf shifters), and the two off-shoot series in the Moonstruck world, the Nightriders Motorcycle Club, and Hard Target, another SpecOps team that has genetically enhance SEALs, along with wolf shifters and others.

To keep my business plan viable, I have to publish multiple books in each of those series each year. That means I have to write between five and ten books a year. Luckily, most of the books are shorter, category length or are novellas. That helps. So, you ask, how do I get it done? Organization.

First, I had to have solid bibles for each series. Iffy wrangling all the information and keeping it in my head was an exercise in frustrated insanity. FYI, for anyone who might not know, a series bible is like the Wikipedia of pertinent information about the books in the series:

♦ Main Characters: Names, physical descriptions, personality traits, backstory, cars, guns, pets, etc.
♦ Secondary Characters: All the same info
♦ Settings: Names (businesses, streets, places), descriptions, locations
♦ Worldbuilding notes: This includes special words, any rules (like magic, shifting, etc.), important groups, events, etc.
♦ Titles: Published books and blurbs
♦ Upcoming and prospective titles

I can’t even describe the Post-it Notes, white boards, bulletin boards, notebooks, journals, and all sorts of organizational attempts I made before discovering Scrivener. While I’m a huge proponent of this writing platform, it’s not for everyone. It works beautifully for me. Granted, in the beginning, I simply used it to write a book. Then I learned more about the capabilities of the program and got smart. Trial and error. But this is what I do now.

♦ I create a Scrivener project for each series.
♦ Within the project, I create a folder for each book.
♦ I have a folder for all characters—main and secondary, and I also have a character folder within each individual book folder, with just the characters in that book, for easy referral.
♦ I have a folder of settings
♦ I have a Notes folder that contains worldbuilding notes, special words—I have characters who use terms from their native languages so I keep those for easy copy/paste into the working manuscript.
♦ I have an Idea folder, where I can tuck any brilliant plots, characters, or whatever sweet nothing Iffy is whispering.
♦ For Penumbra, I also have a Playlist folder, because that’s part of the series, a playlist of songs for each chapter.

So, that’s the organization. With that in place, I can play the butterfly and flit between projects. And why do I do that? Two main reasons: Deadlines and my writing process.

♦ Deadlines: For the published author, deadlines rule our worlds…and our words. I’m lucky that my Harlequin editor is aware of my hybrid status and he wants me to set deadlines that work within both schedules. But HQ pays me. Advances when the contract is signed, upon acceptance of the proposal, and upon acceptance of the final manuscript. They get priority because…money. As much as I’d like to say I write for the art of it, writing and publishing is a business for me. I have bills to pay. I can’t base a budget on what I might make with my self-published titles.

Traditional publishing and self-publishing both have a rhythm. You set deadlines—finished MS, beta readers, self editing and revisions, professional editing, revisions, final edits and proofreading, release. There are gaps between those steps, and the smart author starts the next project as soon as a finished project is shipped off to the editor. This holds true no matter how you are published. I’m a firm believer that self-published authors need professional edits too. So, you finish your MS, and send it off to a critique partner or beta readers. Start the next project (or in my case, start/return to the next 3 or 4 projects—LOL) Now you learn to multi-task, juggling two or more projects. You’re writing one/more additional project(s), the first project hits your inbox, and you have to shift gears. Some writers drop the current project to focus on the original. Me? I set aside blocks of time so I can work on all of them. Mornings might be edits, afternoons new words on the new project. Or vice versus. Sometimes, I work in sprints—edit two chapters, write a chapter, edit, write. Everyone has to find their own rhythm because this whole process is very much like a dance.

AADDNow, why in the world do I/can I have more than two projects going? Because I suffer from Author’s Attention Distraction Disorder. As things occur to me, I either make notes, or write the scene. Here’s what’s on the drawing board at the moment, including hard deadlines:

1. Moonstruck: Lies, the next compilation novel in final edits/proofing stage for a March 15th release (93K words)
2. Two Nightrider books, one with an October 12th release as part of a Kindle World, one with an April/May release. (25-35K words, each, both started)
3. A Moonstruck world novel with a proposal submitted to a traditional publisher and I’m working to finish it in case of a request for a full. (25-30K words, late April unless they ask for it sooner)
4. A Moonstruck Christmas novella, November (25K words, started)
5. Penumbra Papers #4 Summer/fall release (untitled, 65K words, started, plotted)
6. Hard Target #2 (untitled, 50-55K words, planning, no set release other than 2016)
7. Next three Red Dirt books waiting on a contract decision, all with 2017 release dates: #4 (started/plotted, 50K words), #5 (plotted, 50K), #6 (plotted, started, 50K). All three plots are percolating in my brain and I add to those projects as ideas/scenes pop up.

As you can imagine, the inside of my brain is a totally scary place! The deadlines are noted in big read letters on a white board next to my desk so part of my brain is always aware. That’s the role deadlines play. They’re the framework that nudges my brain—and Iffy—in the “write” directions at the right time. What makes all this work is my crazypants style of writing process. Do I write on every book every day? No. I work on the most pressing deadlines, with side trips as inspiration hits on the others. And trust me, inspiration hits far more than it probably should. *headdesk* So, let’s take a peek into how I write.

♦Writing Process: I’m a puzzler. When I begin a new book, I know who the main characters are, the beginning of the book, and usually, the end. I know the world. I have a decent idea of the plot and character arcs. That’s like working a jigsaw puzzle and getting all the straight-edged pieces put together to frame the puzzle/book. Then I find pieces and I put them together. Sometimes, they fit right into the frame (linear writing). Sometimes, the pieces clump together in the middle, a scene I know will happen but I’m not sure exactly when in the book’s plotline. I write the scene, tuck it into the correct Scrivener folder and move on. Yes, I have AADD. I can be BICHOK madly typing toward the current deadline and a scene from a totally different book will pop into my head based on a song, a word prompt, something on TV, or just out of the clear, blue sky. When that happens, I immediately stop, write it, tuck it away and return to the most pressing current deadline. Sometimes, I have to get a coffee refill, or do a little time on my gazelle, feed the birds, or pay attention to the fuzzy critters before I get back in the correct head space, but those breaks are likely to happen even if I don’t get distracted.

I should also mention here that I write fast and hard when I write. I’ve been known to do the equivalent of NaNoWriMo for several months in a row. I write full time, have no kids at home, though I occasionally babysit the grandson, and my husband is totally supportive so if laundry stays in the basket or dinner is late/extra crispy/fastfood, he goes with the flow. I know exactly how lucky I am!

Do I recommend this crazy load for everyone? Oh heck no! Run! Run far and fast! LOL Yet, with the fast pace of today’s publishing world, a working writer really needs to be able to multi-task with multiple projects. As I mentioned above, the path from blank page to release is a dance. Sometimes, it’s a waltz, sometimes a jive, occasionally the Argentine tango and the cha-cha-cha.

Know your deadlines—whether contractual or self-imposed.Get organized. Find a writing program and a process that works for you. Set a schedule. Don’t be afraid of letting your Muse (imagination) have a long leash. If you aren’t working under deadline, give yourself the luxury of moving to a new project if you stall on the current one. One of the best pieces of writing advice I’ve received is, “When you get stuck in a scene, move on to the next scene you know is going to happen.” Doing that, I often figure out what wasn’t working and can go back, fix the stuck scene, and move on. Sometimes, that next scene is in a totally different project. New words are new words, as far as I’m concerned, and they all get me to the end of the dance and THE END.

Silver 300 long bio

To find out more about Silver and her books, visit her at these social media sites: Website | Amazon Author Page | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Newsletter Sign-up

Friday, February 26th, 2016
Happy Friday!

It’s Friday! Yay!!

So we have the estimate on the floors and I’m not going to get everything I want, which is not a surprise. Wizard was almost exactly right in his calculations as usual. I did have to laugh through — we are arranging our start date around…wait for it…a visit from Bailey Dog.

Bailey dragonfly in his chair

He’s coming to stay with us for a week in March, and we don’t want his fun disrupted, so we are putting off the start of doing the floors until after his visit.  That’s not weird, right? Okay go ahead and laugh, it’s pretty funny.

So I wanted to tell you guys who we have lined up for Business Mondays so far.

Monday February 29th is Silver James talking about juggling several projects at once. I’m amazed at how she does this! I can’t wait to see her blog, and hope some of her magic rubs off on me.

Monday March 7th, MJ Rose, the founder of AuthorBuzz and co-founder with Liz Berry of 1,001 Dark Nights Marketing Group is doing a kick ass blog on Marketing & Publicity Tips. I’ve read this blog and you don’t want to miss it!

Monday March 21st, New York Times Bestselling Author Carrie Ann Ryan is doing a fabulous blog on Writing Sprints. Carrie and I talked a tiny bit about this on FB messaging one day and I was really interested.  Her blog is full of great tips.

Those are the ones that I have finalized. I’m reaching out slowly, seeking authors and professionals that I think we can all learn something from. I want to thank all of them for the amazingly positive response so far! I will send out more inquiries soon.

This weekend I’m working and cleaning, nothing really exciting for me. How about you all? Any exciting plans? Whatever you’re doing, have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016
Wednesday Worthy

We are finally going to have to floors in our house redone. We’re waiting on the estimate, but in the meantime we’re cleaning out and reorganizing all the closets and storage spaces. One of those things was a box of old manuscripts that never published, and I have since deemed unpublishable. After some debating, we shredded and disposed of them. That’s four and a half completed books…now gone forever. I thought it would bother me.


It’s actually a relief.  What bothered me was the idea of someone “finding a lost manuscript” and publishing it without my full consent. I had already decided they should not be published so why was I hanging onto them? Getting rid of them in a permanent way was like a weight being lifted from my shoulders. I think there’s a lesson in there about hanging onto our past dreams when we need to be looking forward to, and pursuing, our future dreams, but I’m too tired to articulate it just now :-)

In other news, I’m working on SAVAGED VOWS. I’m finally halfway through and loving it as much as I loved the Plus One Chronicles. But I’m not making any decisions on how I’m going to release this book yet. I’m just writing (and cleaning out closets! And working on some awesome upcoming guests for Business Mondays that I’ll share with you guys are Friday).

Last weekend we were supposed to celebrate BLB’s (youngest son’s) birthday but a planned freeway closure got in the way. So instead, we’re going to take him out tomorrow night to celebrate–that is assuming he can leave work. BLB is a tax accountant, so this is his busy season. Who knew celebrating a birthday would be so hard? But he’s always a good sport about this stuff.

And finally, it’s time to get to our Wednesday Worthy candidate. Without further ado, here he is:


handsome muscular young bodybuilder showing his muscles and abs while posing shirtless

So what do you think? Is he worthy?

Monday, February 22nd, 2016
Romancing the Trope

It’s Business Monday! If you’d like to see previous Business Monday posts, here are the links:

Creating A Business Plan Part 1 Intro and Reviewing 2015 (Post Date 1/18/16)

Creating A Business Plan Part 2 Goals for 2016 (Post Date 1/25/16)

Creating A Business Plan Part 3 How I developed my project maps (Post Date 2/1/16)

Networking Tips (Post Date 2/15/16)

Today I’m going to share with you all my fairly comprehensive  handout, plus notes to clarify points for this blog, that I used in the past when I gave a workshop on Romancing the Trope. Tropes have tremendous emotional power that readers connect with when they are skillfully utilized. In my original handout and workshop I have three parts, Conception, Execution and Marketing. Due to space limitations, I eliminated the marketing section. I’ll do that one in another blog. Please note that I designed this handout for the workshop, and added in some notes for this blog, so please don’t copy and share without permission.

Tropes, for the purposes of the workshop and blog, are recognizable themes used over and over because they hook readers. There’s a list of some popular romance tropes at the end of this blog, however some quick examples are: Billionaires, cowboys, secret babies, tortured heroes, best friend’s little sister and fish out of water are all themes/archetypes that are commonly called tropes.

I will be using examples from two of my books, HER TEMPORARY HERO by Jennifer Apodaca and THE PLUS ONE CHRONICLES by Jennifer Lyon as examples.

Romancing the Trope Handout

By Jennifer Apodaca / Jennifer Lyon


This is the stage where we come up with the idea. No matter what your process is—a plotter who does a fifty page outline or a pantzer who comes up with an opening scene and dives right in—identifying your tropes at this stage will help you focus the book. You want to know your tropes before you start because:

 Tropes are your hooks. 

In the HER TEMPORARY HERO my three main tropes are:

–Marriage of Convenience

–Baby on Doorstep

–Tortured Alpha Hero

I worked all three tropes into the opening set up when Logan Knight, a former Marine struggling with PTSD, comes home to his ranch to find a beautiful woman and baby hiding in his house. In that scene I reveal:

–Logan’s trigger for his PTSD is children, especially babies. He can’t ever have a real marriage and family because of that. TORTURED ALPHA HERO trope—former Marine hits the Alpha portion of that.

–He needs a wife by his thirtieth birthday to secure his land—land that he plans to build Camp Warrior Recovery for Veterans struggling with PTSD on. (MARRIAGE OF CONVENIENCE)

–Becky, the heroine, is desperate, on the run from an ex and needs a temporary hero to save her baby. (BABY ON DOORSTEP)

Choosing and Layering Tropes Gives Your Book Wider Appeal.

Layering tropes just means using more than one, and making them work together to deepen the story, widen the appeal and create conflict. In HER TEMPORARY HERO, a woman trying to protect her baby creates immediately sympathy for her, that’s the appeal. And for the conflict–Logan has PTSD triggered by children and finds a baby in his house. Instant conflict, what is Logan going to do? Throw out a woman and child? Not if he’s a hero of a romance book, and that creates conflict. How can he help this woman and child, and not destroy himself in the process? See how the tropes are working together?

For a bigger book like the THE PLUS ONE CHRONICLES Trilogy, I took it a step farther by choosing tropes and weaving them together in a way that creates a more complex storyline.

— Redemption is the over-arching trope running through all three books. The hero, Sloane Michaels must make a choice between Love and Vengeance, one will destroy him and one will save him. It’s an age-old trope, but very powerful and hooks readers.

More specific tropes in the books are:

–Revenge/Vengeance: The hero begins the story with a goal of vengeance, one that has driven every decision he’s made for years. He needs vengeance to forgive himself. I chose this trope because it’s timeless—stories of vengeance have been around as far back as the old testament. And because it forces my hero to keep a secret from the heroine, making it more compelling and interesting.

–Billionaire Alpha. Sloane is an ex UFC fighter who began a company and became a self-made billionaire. Wealth and power have always fascinated readers and people in general. Billionaires are a huge now, and I chose this trope/archetype because it worked really well for Sloane as it ties in with his goal for vengeance. This is the key to layering—make your tropes work together.

–Beauty and Beast. My heroine Kat is physically scarred on her leg, and has panic attacks—all from an attack that she really can’t remember. A physically and emotionally scarred heroine, especially one like Kat who is determined to overcome and get stronger, is a huge hook—she creates empathy in readers. Her ex-fiance sees her as scarred and broken, while Sloane sees her beauty and strength. It also plays off Sloane’s trope of revenge—while Sloane’s trope is violence based in seeking revenge, Kat’s trope as “Beast” comes from scars she got as a victim of violence. This puts my hero and heroine on opposite sides of the concept of violence—creating more conflict in the story.

–Amnesia Kat can’t fully recall the attack, but only has flashes that make her believe her ex fiancé isn’t telling the truth about what happened that night. This creates anxiety in her, ramps up the tension in the story as we realize that remembering may put her in danger. This trope invokes Sloane’s Alpha protective tendency.

Losing a mentor/death This trope helped create a much BIGGER FEEL to the story than what a category length book usually allows for. It’s another timeless theme that invokes a strong emotional reaction. A final reason I chose this is that Drake, Sloane’s mentor’s is trying to stay alive long enough to keep Sloane from making the wrong choice between love and vengeance, which ties back into the over-arching trope/theme of redemption, and it also creates a ticking clock in the plot.

If you’re writing a category length romance, you’ll need to choose more traditional, romance-themed tropes to tightly focus on the hero and heroine’s love story. But if you are writing a bigger romance, you can bring in tropes that ramp up emotion and stakes while still supporting the romance.

Summary: Knowing your tropes gives you the hooks to capture reader’s attention, and layering tropes will add depth and widen the appeal to a larger reading audience.


For tropes to have maximum impact, they need to be more than the external plot. What is your character’s greatest fear and why? (Their greatest fear, by the way, is often their Internal Conflict, which is key when developing characters and motivation. However I’m keeping it simple for the purposes of this workshop/blog)


Heroine: Becky lost her father, brother, home and way of life to a house fire when she was six. Her greatest internal desire is a family, and greatest fear is losing her family.

Hero: Logan spent his first eight years with his mom, when his rich and powerful father suddenly decided he needed a son and fought for custody. Logan’s mother gave up the fight, choosing her career as a singer over her son. After that, Logan never really fit anywhere. His greatest secret desire is to be loved enough to fight for and his greatest fear is abandonment.

Now we use these two tropes; marriage-of-convenience with a baby-on-the-doorstep to:

Tempt them with their greatest, possibly secret or unrecognized, desires:

–Becky: Family

–Logan: To be loved enough to stay

And terrify them with their greatest fears:

–Becky: Losing her family.

–Logan: Abandonment, not being loved enough, and now is he so damaged by PTSD, that he can’t be loved?

False Moment when it might all work out:

–Becky tells Logan she loves him attaining her family

–Logan wants to try, believing that he might really be enough to be loved. He’s hopeful and just when he’s ready to commit, he’s called away to work.

Black Moment: It should involve one or more tropes. The secret is revealed and destroys everything kind of moment. I won’t reveal the black moment here and ruin HER TEMPORARY HERO for anyone who hasn’t read it. But I’ll say that it involves the marriage of convenience and baby on doorstep tropes:

–Becky comes face to face with losing her family again, and is worse off than when the book opens.

–Logan is faced with his greatest fear of abandonment and forced into action.

Payoff Bring it all together in a Happily Ever After. Payoff Scenes are the Reader’s Reward—that sigh moment when all the strife and pain is worth it. I have two notes on payoff scenes:

–Don’t make the trip from Black Moment to Happily Ever After too easy. Part of the payoff is that the character earns their HEAMake them have to work for it, sacrifice something important to get the real prize.

–If you set up a trope in the book, make sure it has a payoff.   When we set up a trope in a book, we make a promise to our readers to see it through.  I’m going to go back here to THE PLUS ONE CHRONICLES as an example. I set up a trope of Losing a mentor/death. I did NOT want to see that through. I fought writing that scene all the way to last moment…right until one morning while cooking breakfast I told my husband: “I’m not going to put Drake’s (the mentor’s) final scene in the book. It’s too much. Too hard. I’ll just allude to it later.”

My husband stopped what he was doing and gave me some of the best advice of my career: “That’s the coward’s way out. You got this far along and now you’re going to pull your punch at the last minute? That’s cheating your readers and not fair.”

I listened to him and made myself  follow through on what was essentially an implied promise to my readers and I’m so very glad I did. So remember,  Don’t pull your punches and don’t cheat your readers.


–It’s the same thing, except you’re working with more tropes and emotions. Same concept just more layers.

Summary: For maximum impact, tropes need to be more than an external plot—tie them to your characters greatest internal desires and fears that lead to the black moment and be sure you deliver the payoff scenes, they are the reader’s reward.

List of Some Tropes:

  1. Accidental Pregnancy: forces hero/heroine to face their fears.
  2. Amnesia: hero or heroine has lost their memory temporarily or permanently.
  3. Baby on Doorstep
  4. Bait and Switch (Hero or Heroine form relationship with one person to get the attention of another but falls for the bait in the end).
  5. Beauty and the Beast: hero or heroine is physically marred.
  6. Best Friends Little Sister
  7. Betrayal: Heroine has intentionally hurt the hero or made a mistake in the past that has hurt the hero or vice versa.
  8. Blackmail
  9. Boss/Employee
  10. Business competitors: hero and heroine compete for high business stakes only one can win.
  11. Cinderella: rags to riches story.
  12. Class: a class difference sets a couple apart.
  13. Different Worlds/Across the Tracks
  14. Enemies to Lovers: Hatred turns to love
  15. Family feud: e.g. Romeo and Juliet.
  16. Fish out of Water (Big city person in small town, or visa versa)
  17. Friends to Lovers: a hero and heroine’s friendship becomes more.
  18. Kidnapping: hero kidnaps heroine or heroine kidnaps hero.
  19. Marriage of convenience: arranged/forced marriage.
  20. Masquerade: hero, heroine or both pretend to be someone else.
  21. Matchmaker
  22. Mistaken Identity: hero or heroine isn’t who he/she appears to be.
  23. One Night Stand:
  24. Opposites attract: good girl/bad boy or bad girl/good boy.
  25. Revenge: Often at the price of love
  26. Reunited Lovers
  27. Secret Baby: heroine falls pregnant but doesn’t tell hero about it.
  28. Secret: hero or heroine keeps a dark secret.
  29. Stranded: hero and heroine are forced together.
  30. Twins: hero or heroine has “evil” twin, hero or heroine masquerade as twin etc.

**list compiled from and various other sources.

As always I welcome questions or comments!



Friday, February 19th, 2016
Happy Friday!

Wait, wasn’t it just Monday? How can it be Friday!  Between working on my book and trying to get people to do their jobs so I can get prescriptions refilled, I’m on my very last nerve.

In better news, we are finally tackling getting new floors done. Last year, we were just about ready to do it when the kitchen sprang a leak and pushed our plans back. In my dream world, I would do all travertine tile downstairs. But budget + other issues (like my RA) have nixed that. We’re going to go with carpet in the living areas, and leave the tile we have in the kitchen, entryway and laundry room since it’s in decent shape. Upstairs we are planning to redo all the floors.  We’ve chosen a carpet we like, and still deciding on a tile for the master bedroom. And we are waiting for our contractor to come out, measure and give us a quote. I could change my mind about all tile downstairs, but I think I have to be realistic. Which is kind of sad :-(

And that’s where my week went!

As for the weekend, I’ll write some and then Sunday, youngest son is coming over to celebrate his birthday. His girlfriend made him an awesome candy cake this year, so I think he’s going to get a plain cake from me…unless I’m feeling creative :-)

So what are your weekend plans?


Wednesday, February 17th, 2016
Wednesday Worthy

I don’t know what this guy is looking so put out about. He’s the one that showed up to apply for Wednesday Worthy. All I said was, “If you want to apply, we’re going to need to see if you have worthy abs.”  It’s a perfectly reasonable point, right? :-)

Muscular man bodybuilder. Man posing on a black background, shows his muscles. Bodybuilding, posing, black background, muscles - the concept of bodybuilding. Article about bodybuilding.

So what do you think? Is he worthy?

Monday, February 15th, 2016
Networking Tips

It’s Business Monday and today I’m talking about Networking, both for the published and not-yet-published writer.  So let’s get started!

If you’re a writer, tell me if you’ve seen this. At conference, the writer—it doesn’t matter if she’s published or not—running around with the big stack of business cards, handing them out with a frantic zeal to anyone she can get to stand sill long enough. If she does engage in a conversation, it’s to pitch her book and then she’s off to the next person.

This writer believes she’s networking. And I’m betting she’s sincerely trying. But is she leaving the impression she intends to leave? The cold truth is most people will toss her business card because there’s no real connection. The exception is an agent or publisher who was blown away by her pitch, but that’s extremely rare.

Now here’s another story of networking. Years ago, I was at the Anaheim RWA Conference, and I was sitting at a table, going over some notes for a workshop I was giving in a few minutes.

“Excuse me, aren’t you Jennifer Apodaca?”

I looked up to see  a woman I didn’t recognize. It was even more surprising because it had been a while since I published under that name. But I smiled and said yes. She began telling me how much she loved my mystery series.

I was charmed by her, asked her to sit down and she introduced herself. We chatted, and since we were at a writer’s conference, I asked her if she wrote. Yep, turns out she was published too. Her name is Rebecca Zanetti. I didn’t recognize her name (don’t laugh! In my defense, it was before she was a bestseller). That night I looked up her books, bought one, started reading it and became her fangirl.

We kept in touch, I promoted her books because I love them and she promoted the heck out of my Plus One Chronicles.

And that is how I ended up being offered a spot in the 1001 Dark Night Discovery Program-because Rebecca Zanetti met me at a conference, then later read my Plus One Chronicles and recommended me.

That day in Anaheim, Rebecca wasn’t trying to sell me on herself or her books when she approached me, and I sure wasn’t trying to sell her. We just connected in a genuine way and became friends.  That is the best kind of networking, it’s real and lasting, rather than calculated.

Today, I’d like to give some tips and thoughts on what I think works in genuine networking. These are just my opinion.

1) GET OUT THERE! This is hard for me as I’m naturally shy, but I’ve taught myself to get out there occasionally and socialize. If I can do it then so can you! Find writer organizations that fit your interests like: Romance Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America, Left Coast Crime, Novelist Ink, and a number other ones. Then get out of your writing cave and go to a meeting. Yes it’s scary the first time you walk in, but here’s the thing–these are your people! They understand what it’s like to have fictional characters taking up space inside their head. They think discussing ways to kill and hide a body is normal. Go! You’ll be amazed to find you are not so strange after all.

2) Conferences: These are usually packed with amazing speakers and workshops presenting a wide variety of information crammed into few days. Most conferences will give you real insight into the latest marketing/publishing trends that everyone is talking about. But conferences can also be budget busters, so do your research and ask other writers their favorites. Also look for smaller, less expensive local conferences. Bigger doesn’t mean better.

3) Social media and the internet. The internet is huge with vast opportunities. Just remember, you are still networking and professionalism is key. Think about your online persona. If your goal is to network, building friendly connections with a wide variety of writers and industry professionals, then politics and religion may narrow that field. Only you can decide what the best choice is for you, your career and your online persona. But it’s like I tell my kids, make the choice a conscious decision, not a spur-of-the-moment emotional impulse. Think about it before you act. Writers are people too, and there’s nothing wrong with showing our passionate side. I just caution you to make sure it’s the passion you want to share with the world.

4) What can YOU do for other writers? This is really important. Networking is a two way street. What are you good at? Or care about? Find out and then share that with other writers. When I started this blog, I had no idea I’d make so many friends and connections through it, and I sincerely value all of you so much. Even if you’re a beginning writer, you have skills in something. Maybe you’ve raised goats, are a painter, or worked as a line cook in an upscale restaurant. Offer your expert advice! People will remember you and it will come back to you in ways you never imagined.

5) The dreaded business card. Despite my earlier story about the business cards, they are an excellent networking tools. By all means get some printed, and once you’ve made a connection in person, that’s a good time to say, “Oh here’s my business card. Let’s keep in touch.”  Then follow up with a short email saying it was a pleasure to meet them.

6) Take risks. Reach out to people. Maybe you’ve never met Editor A, but you think you have the right project for her. If you’re multi-published, send her a well-crafted email. If you’re unpublished, send her a killer query letter. THIS IS NETWOKING TOO. The editor might reject you, but if she includes a personal note, then you can thank her, and say, “I’m going to be at Such & Such conference in July and I see you’re there too (after checking the conference website). If you have a few minutes, I’d love to buy you a drink and chat.” Reach out! Take risks! All people can say is no, and then you handle it gracefully and move on. That is networking.

7) A caution on something that is NOT networking. Do not badmouth other authors or industry professionals just because you don’t like them, or don’t think they deserve success. That will come off sounding like professional jealousy. Now if there is a factual issue such as an agent not submitting proposal to editors as promised or a publisher not paying contracted royalties, then you may choose to share that information with other writers. But slamming an author for making it big is petty. For instance, badmouthing a huge author in a bar at a conference, you could be sitting next to her agent. And that agent will remember. It happens. We are trying to reach out and network, not alienate people. Like all humans, there are people I just don’t care for. That’s okay, I don’t have to go to lunch with them or share a room with them at conference. But I do need to treat them with respect, especially in on a professional level.

8 ) My final thought on networking. Remember who your ultimate customers are–readers. Don’t forget to network with your readers! Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, your newsletter, personal signings, whatever it is, reach out to your readers. In my view, they are the most important people in our professional life! I do random gift card giveaways on my FB page just because I love my readers and want to give back to them. I’m passionate about my readers and you should be too!

Now get out there and network!

If any of you have tips you’d like to add, I’d love to hear them in the comments!

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