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Jodie's Blogs

Blogging When You're An Author

 

How do I run a blog while being an author?

 

Writing a blog when you're otherwise preoccupied with author work is interesting. I won't tell you it's an effortless task. Like social media, it takes maximum effort to write my bi-weekly blogs, besides writing and scheduling my social media posts. I work a full-time job besides being an author of three published books, writing my fourth, planning my fifth, and having oodles (one of my maternal grandmother's favorite words) of other ideas knocking around in my head. To say I'm busy is an understatement. But . . . I have it under control thanks to my handy-dandy planner and my routine. I could not do all this if I wasn't so well organized as I am.

 

Ideas

It took me a while to get ideas for blogs and I did so by scouring the internet for ideas by other authors and what they blog about. I'm not a one-topic kind of person, so centralizing my blogs won't work for me. Boring you isn't a goal either. I took the time to put all the ideas I found online into a document. The next step in my organization is scheduling.

 

Schedule

Since I decided on bi-weekly blogs, I wrote all the dates I'd post on my blog. Why bi-weekly? Weekly would have been too much for me to handle and monthly, while it would work, wouldn't have given me much time to talk about everything I want to talk about. Well, not talk. Let's say write about. Writing come easy to me. Talking to people, that takes work since I'm an introvert. I'm getting so much better with all the wonderful people I've met at craft shows and other events! Okay, so I have all my dates and I have my pages and pages of ideas. I run through it and schedule each blog idea based on what I feel is important to write about, keeping in mind that some blogs may center on releases coming up, such as sneak peeks, cover reveals, contests, etc. I have the entire year scheduled, so at the end of this year I'll do the same for 2025. That's how organized I am.

 

A bit about my social media posts . . .

Social media posts are more difficult than my blogs, even though in reality they are much shorter to write. I have a massive calendar of events, national days, historical events, famous people's birthdays, seasonal things, etc. Before the start of each month, I go through and pick out upcoming events I have for the next month and fill in the gaps, so I'm posting 3-4 sometimes 5-6 days that week. I have 3 major categories for my posts:

 

  • Personal: Things I write about myself personally. I mean, you want to know about the person behind the book, right? Have I done something fun recently? Pictures of my office or my desk companions, my writing routine. Things like that.
  • Curation: Recommendations (books I'm reading or preparing to read) or facts such as historical events or birthdays of famous or historical people. I admit, I've posted a lot of historical facts in the last few months.
  • Brand/Book Posts: Post directly related to my books and my brand. Upcoming releases, book reveals, teasers, events I'll be attending so you know where to find me, those kinds of things.

 

I try to make all three somewhat equal for the month, so I'm not posting one category more than another.

 

Once I have my month planned with ideas, I schedule the weekly posts every Sunday (unless I'm busy that Sunday, then I'll do it Saturday or even Friday). Anyway, they're scheduled and they post to my Facebook and Instagram pages automatically. Pictures are another story because I'm not supposed to post pictures copyrighted to someone else. I try to be very careful about that. I'm not aiming to get sued for copyright laws after I so carefully register all of my books with the Library of Congress. Worse case, I'm hoping if I posted a picture I shouldn't have, I'll be asked nicely to remove it.

 

Happy reading!

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Internet Articles: Organizing and Saving

 

What are the best ways to save and organize favorite articles from the internet?

 

Wow. That is a mouthful. As a writer, I'm always coming across articles to help improve writing or help me in my self-publishing endeavors. Especially marketing, where I'm less than knowledgeable. Like everyone else, well most people that use the internet, I come across that I want to read later or save for later use. How do I do it? If I'm on my phone, I keep that page up and don't close it until I get to my computer or I email the link to the page to myself. Sometimes, I do that anyway.

 

Saving

The best way I've come up with is to copy – literally – the contents of the web page. If it's allowed. Not every web page will let you do that. I paste it into word and change to the font to my liking before saving it. When I grab something from the internet, whether it's a blog or information, I always make sure the document has the following:

  • the author
  • the web page I got it from
  • the date it was published

Don't get me wrong, I'm not pirating peoples stuff. It's for my own personal use, but I like to know where I initially got it from. I get a lot from Writer's Digest.

 

Organizing

Organizing articles is a whole different animal. I've worked at it over the year to figure out what works best for me. Most of what I'm saving has to do with writing. To that end, I have a folders specifically for writing on my folder (backed up by a USB drive, of course). For instance, I have a folder named Editing and Revision Information. Within this folder, I have a sub-folder called Articles where I saved several word documents. 5 Questions to Ask During Revision, How To Self Edit Like A Pro, The Power of Process – Prewriting, Writing, and Rewriting. Do I need all these? Probably not. I've forged my own self-editing process. But I have them, in case I ever want to breeze through them to see if I need to add something to my process. Or if another author asks for help!

 

I've tried my hand at printing and saving, and that does not help at all. The only binder that I grab is when I'm character building. The rest of them are sitting on the shelf gathering dust so I've wasted a lot of paper trying to organize that way. Best to have them on my computer to use. I use my computer every day.

 

Happy organizing!

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Outlining a Book

 

First, let me apologize for the length of this blog. I love outlining a new book. L-O-V-E it. I'm a planner, not a pantser. What does that mean? It means I plan everything out before I begin to writing a book instead of just flying by the seat of my pants. To be honest, I outlined most of "The Gangster's Mistake" but I got hung up a little and part of it I had to be a pantser. I'd say the book turned out pretty good.

 

In my new book folder under outlining, I have 4 different methods of outlining that I like to choose from, depending on what I'm writing. The first one, a very simple outline and the fourth one, is very detailed. I'll expand on it more below. I tend to over-outline. Once I get going on writing, I don't like to stop because I have hiccups in my outline flow.

 

Method 1: Simple Scene List

This is just as it implies. Simple scenes. Write down all the scenes I can think of, then put them in order of how they should go in the story. That's it.  

 

Method 2: The 9-Step Plot

This is just the basic outline to get you to where you're going. Easy peasy.

  • Ordinary World: the main character in normal life
  • Inciting Incident: Something changes that normal life
  • First Plot Point: Things are getting more intense, everything changes and there isn't any going back
  • First Pinch Point: First major interaction with the antagonist
  • Midpoint: a shift from victim to warrior
  • Second Pinch Point: Second confrontation with the antagonist
  • Second Plot Point: Battle lost, hope is almost given up
  • Final Battle: The main character gets renewed vigor, then victory!

 

Same as the last one, you just need more details than just the basic six. You can still incorporate Method 1 into Method 3 with all your scenes.

 

Method 3: Save the Cat!

If you're a writer, you've likely heard this term. If not, you're in for a treat. The Save The Cat outline method is a popular outlining method for planners. It's 3 acts and 15 beats, with the second act being the bulk of the beats.

 

Act I

  • Opening Imagine (0-1%): the main character in normal life
  • Set-up (1-10%): Exploring more of the main character's normal life, including internal flaws, external challenges and supporting characters
  • Catalyst (10%): Otherwise known as the inciting incident and life as they know it changes forever
  • Debate (11-20%): The main character is balking at the change, seriously reconsidering moving forward

Act II

  • Break Into 2 (20%): The choice is made to take the plunge into new life
  • The Promise of the Premise/Fun and Games (21-50%): The main character gets used to the new world, whether loving it or hating it, doing well or not, and possibly introducing a new 'helping' character
  • Midpoint (50%): Either everything is good, or everything is bad at this point
  • Bad Guys Close In (51-75%): Things start going wrong for the main character and it gets bumpy
  • All is Lost (75%): Your main character hits rock bottom, their absolute lowest point
  • Dark Night of the Soul (76-80%): Time for your main character to wallow in hopelessness

Act III

  • Break Into 3 (80%): The main character realizing what he/she needs to do in order to break through this problem
  • Finale (81-99%): The main character does what he/she decided in Break Into 3 and succeeds or doesn't
  • Final Image (99-100%): This is the opposite of your opening, the main character in the new life

 

The more in depth outlining, the more you have to sit and think things through, but then you don't have to do it when you're actually writing. And maybe you don't have to, if you're a pantser!

 

Method 4: 3 Act / 9 Block / 27 Chapter Outline

This is the mack-daddy of all outlining. If you love outlining, this is the one for you. Now, keep in mind that you do not have to stick to 27 chapters. It can be more, it can be less. But you will have 3 acts and 9 blocks. I use this, combined with Method 1. I also have very specific things I incorporate in my outlines, such as information such as date, time, chapter/scene,  scene props, scene purpose, characters in the scene. I go ALL out. And if you ever want to see any of my materials, just let me know. I'll share.

 

Act I: Set Up

  • Chapter 1 – Introductions: Introduce the main character in the ordinary world
  • Chapter 2 – Inciting Incident: A problem disrupts the main character's life
  • Chapter 3 – Fall Out: The main character deals with the inciting incident
  • Chapter 4 – Reaction/Rebel: The main character's long-term reaction
  • Chapter 5 – Action: The main character makes a decision, impacting the rest of the story
  • Chapter 6 – Consequences: The result of the Action
  • Chapter 7 – Pressure: The main character starts to feel the pressure
  • Chapter 8 – Plot Twist: Things get complicated and the main character wonders if the right decision was made
  • Chapter 9 – The main character is pushed in a new direction

Act II (Conflict)

  • Chapter 10 – New World: The main character experiences a new world or situation
  • Chapter 11 – Fun and Games: The main character explores the new world
  • Chapter 12 – Old Juxtaposition: Comparison of the new world to old
  • Chapter 13 – Build Up: The main character struggles, which motivates him/her
  • Chapter 14 – Midpoint: The main character encounters a complication
  • Chapter 15 – Reversal: Everything changes.
  • Chapter 16 – Consequences: The main character reflects on what has happened
  • Chapter 17 – Trials: The main character takes matters into his/her own hands (see Reversal)
  • Chapter 18 – Dedication: The main character is determined to overcome

Act III (Resolution)

  • Chapter 19 – Calm Before Storm: A solution is found, but the main character has to overcome doubt
  • Chapter 20 – Plot Twist: Worst that before. Everything is possibly ruined
  • Chapter 21 – Darkest Moment: Everything seems list
  • Chapter 22 – Power Within: The main characters finds the courage and strength to carry on
  • Chapter 23 – Action/Rally: Taking action, the main character overcomes the plot twist and continues
  • Chapter 24 – Converge: Everything comes together, the big event is imminent
  • Chapter 25 – Battle: The main character fights the villain or tackles the issue
  • Chapter 26 – Climax: The main character triumphs or succumbs to a fatal flaw
  • Chapter 27 – Resolution/The End: All loose ends are tied up and the main character has changed

 

I'm sure there are numerous other outlining techniques out there, and I'm sure I have some saved in folders, but these are the ones I've tried to use and have had some success at. I've got these from researching and finding what others do for outlining and made my own modifications. Feel free to use any of these methods, all these methods, or none at all! Happy writing!

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Keeping Track of Books Read

 

Keeping Track of Books I've Read: How do I do it?   

       

That's a good question. One that I've only recently, sometime in the last year, given thought to. After having started reading a book that seemed familiar, I discovered I'd read the book before. Time to keep track.

 

Favorite Authors

The easiest way to keep track is by my favorite authors. Some of my favorite authors, I've read every book, so if a new book comes out, I know. Simple. I have all the books by Kathleen Woodiwiss. She was probably the greatest historical romance writer ever. And unfortunately, she's no longer with us, so the books I have are all that there will ever be. It's those authors in between that are harder to keep track of.

 

Series

Another way is series. Like favorite authors, yes, but also series. I have every book in the Outlander series, but I know I have the last one to read. I try to get into a series that are already established so I don't have to wait for the next book to be released, but I screwed that up when I bought "The Fourth Wing" and "Iron Flame" by Rebecca Yarros on a whim. When I bought these, I didn't realize that the next book isn't even written yet. Now I have to wait until next YEAR! Ouch!

 

My Tracking System

I can't do anything about the books that I've read that I don't remember, but I can do something with what I have on my bookshelf now that I know I've read and haven't read. I use Microsoft Word to keep track. Lame, I know. Some people have a real love-hate relationship with Microsoft Word. There are probably much better ways or programs out there to track. Goodreads is a good way, too, but it would take me a long time to get every single book in there. For now, Word is going to have to do. I like the clean and crisp way I can organize it, and I know enough about it to know how to manipulate it. Microsoft Excel would probably be better, but I shudder at having anything other than NUMBERS tracked in Excel. I use Excel for my sales and inventory for MY books, not other authors. If you're asking wondering to yourself if I put my own books in my library of books I've read, I laugh . . . no. I only track other authors in my library of books.

 

The good thing about my little Microsoft Word system is that if I get rid of any, I have it noted that I read it. Another good thing is, if I ever have anything catastrophic happen (fire, tornado, who knows what else) I have a record of all the books I had because I keep a backup on a USB drive. Not that insurance would pay much for used books, but when I say I have a lot of books, I'm not joking around. I have six bookcases plus books in my desk hutch and on my dresser in my bedroom. I'm sure my husband loves having books everywhere. His fault for marrying an avid reader, then convincing her to become an author. 😊

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My Writing Space

This is one of my writing spaces, or working spaces. I spend Monday through Friday here working my day job as a Proposal Writer, but my mornings, evenings and weekends may have some time here as well doing business like recording sales, taxes, mailing out shipments, inventory, etc. My main writing space is on the couch in the living room with my laptop specific for writing, with the TV on and my earbuds in. I need the background to concentrate. Working in this office after having just spent 6:30 a.m. to 4:00-ish p.m. is just not workable for me. I need to get out of the room.

 

But I wanted to share this room with you because this room contains special things with my writing. These are not in order of importance by any means.

 

#1: My Planner

I've written about my planner in other blogs. I'm not sure I would survive without it. From appointments, to shows, to taxes, I need it to keep everything in order. Especially this time of year when my day job gets super busy, I just released a book and summer shows and family events are ramping up. It's not my only schedule visual either. I have one in my purse (probably one reason it's too heavy) and one on the wall in the kitchen. The one in the kitchen is so others in the house know what's going on, and the one in my purse is so I know what is going on when I'm on the go. To say I'm organized is an understatement. I'm well organized. Not sure I could do this without being well organized.

 

#2: My Computer

Like I said, I have a laptop specific for writing; however, all of my books are on flash drives and backed up on this computer and another flash drive. I spend a lot of my time on this computer and on my laptop. I need the two screens for my day job. It's a perk to use it for writing, though, especially editing.

 

#3: My Rubber Duckie

My dear neighbor, Brenda, who lives across the street, left this for me in my mailbox before my first book, The Gangster's Daughter, was published. She's been on my desk ever since as a reminder that I can do this. She said she got 'ducked' and told the person she was giving it to me. Truth be told, when she messaged me, I thought it auto-corrected and I was a little flabbergasted until she explained it further. Then I saw it in the mailbox and it made a lot more sense. Ahhh . . . the story I can tell with it now. I won't ever get rid of it, Brenda.

 

#4: My Author Jodie Leigh Murray Pen Set

I mentioned this gift in a social media post long ago when this arrived in the mail with no sign of who sent it. I found out later than my co-workers ordered this for me, and a card was supposed to have come with it. To put this into perspective, this pen set is an extremely high-quality set that has Author Jodie Leigh Murray engraved on the top and into the two ball-point pens. Not just any pens, mind you. Excellent quality pens. Those who know me, know how particular I am with writing materials and these are fantastic pens. The quote engraved in the box, if you can't tell by the crappy picture I took, is from my favorites . . . "Words are, in my not so humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury and remedying it." ~ Albus Dumbledore. That quote could not be more true.

 

#5: Current Works

If you don't know it already, I'm working on my fourth book, The Aristocrat's Wife, about the wife of a high-society New York aristocrat that finds herself in hot water after being accused of adultery. To escape the criticism of the society that doesn't believe the truth and a husband that cringes when she's around, she dresses as a boy and goes in search of her long-lost brother across a nation rebuilding after the Civil War.

 

#6: Bookmarks

I keep a stash of my bookmarks within reach for orders received. Sometimes I just like to look and admire the fact that I now have three books published. It's an accomplishment I am most proud of. And I owe it all to those who have supported me through this journey, by reading those books, following my social media, reading my blogs, catching me at shows, and several other ways.

 

#7: 15 Year Service Award

This doesn't have to do with my novel writing career, but has to do with my day job, which is also writing but on the technical side. This is my 15-year Service Award plaque, issued to me in October 2022. Yep–October 2024 will be 17 years and in another 3 (2027) will be 20 years. If I'm going to be honest, I would love to make it to 20 years but I'd much rather my writing career take off and I can say I'm sitting at this desk from 6:30 a.m. to 4:00-ish p.m. working on writing books and anything book related rather than working for someone else. I'm actively working toward it, and I'm not about to stop.

 

Happy reading!

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