Tag Archives: Lara Schiffbauer

How I Got My Writing Groove Back, by Lara Schiffbauer

Lara Schiffbauer Finding MearaWhen I finally released my first novel, Finding Meara, out into the world, I thought I’d feel all kinds of wonderful, warm-fuzzy feelings, joy, exhilaration, excitement. Something!

The reality? I felt nothing. Not a darn thing – be it a good feeling or a bad feeling. I didn’t even feel relief that it was done.  This normally wouldn’t have been much of a concern, but I’d read that a self-published author needs to get lots of work out – fast – so I was feeling pressure to get my writing mojo back. The conundrum? I couldn’t even enjoy the fact that I’d actually published my first book. How on the earth could I get excited to start the second?

Upon the advice of fellow self-published authors, I decided to cut myself a break and not freak out (as I have a tendency to do) but, at the same time, not writing at all wasn’t an option for me either. I needed to find a way to ease myself back into finding the fun in creative writing.  I concluded a visit to my writing roots was in order.

While I’m not good at it, poetry is one form of writing I’ve always enjoyed. A Sunday or two ago, I found a poetry form called a Sevenling in Writer’s Digest and slipped into the life of a unicorn being chased by a hunter. While it’s not a very good poem, I had finished under an hour. I’d played with words and lost myself in another world. There are many poetry prompts on the web, but I like Robert Lee Brewer’s Poetic Asides from Writer’s Digest. My friend and poet, JoAnn J.A. Jordan, has daily prompts and photos on her blog which are fun to draw inspiration from as well.

I began my writing journey creating short stories, and moved into flash-fiction because you can complete an entire story in a short period of time. It’s actually hard to write a good flash-fiction story, and I just happened onto a couple of wonderful blog posts about how to write effective flash-fiction and short-stories around the same time I began drawing a story together. It must have been fate. The first is a three-part series called “How to Write a Sci-Fi Flash Fiction Story” by Lydia Netzer. Although it’s geared toward Sci-Fi, the information relates to any flash-fiction story you might want to write. Another article I found helpful, which I actually read long ago, is “Tripping the short fantastical: some tips for writing short fantasy and supernatural stories” by Sophie Masson on Writer Unboxed.

Finally, I read Million Dollar Outlines by David Farland, and became so excited to put the tips I’d learned into use that I started to have that itchy, get-writing feeling. Yay! So, that’s how I got my writing groove back. Tonight I’m going to work a little on the second of the Adven Realm Adventures. Now that my motivation is back, hopefully the muse will come for a little visit too!

Lara SchiffbauerLara Schiffbauer is a writer, licensed clinical social worker, mother of two, wife of one, and a stubborn optimist.  She loves Star Wars, Lego people, science, everyday magic and to laugh.  You can find Lara on several different social media sites, with all links listed on her website, laraschiffbauer.com. Her debut novel, Finding Meara, a contemporary fantasy, released in March and is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and iTunes.

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What’s the value of an e-book? With Lara Schiffbauer

Lara Schiffbauer

Lara Schiffbauer’s recent blog post about a fair price for an e-book struck several chords with me.

Here is Lara’s article, in full, re-posted with Lara’s permission.

By Lara Schiffbauer

Warning: Super long blog post ahead and it has qualities similar to that of a rant, so go forward with caution.

For quite a while now I’ve read the myriad discussions regarding what is a fair price for an e-book from the perspective of the writer.

Are self-pubbers the “bane?”

Many a blog post like this one by Melissa Foster on the Indie Reader question “Are Self-Pubbed Authors Killing the Publishing Industry?”  In the first sentence of the article, Ms. Foster states that self-pubbed authors devalue the written word with books priced low to gain attention. Later on in the article she gives the pronouncement that yes, self-pubbed authors are the bane of the publishing world because they “give away” their books for “less than a buck” and use other “gimmicks” to garner sales. Quite honestly, I found the whole article rather obnoxious, but didn’t really feel the need to evaluate why. I filed the article away under my “Opinions That – While Interesting – Don’t Really Seem Fair or Right” mental filing cabinet.

Are you taking the risk?

Risky business

I read a section of Writing on the Ether by Porter Anderson titled “Pivot: Jonny Geller, Enough to Go Around.”  In the section, Mr. Anderson relates several points Jonny Geller made in an article of his own regarding the state of the publishing industry, including this one, “Readers need to risk paying for books again.”

Mr. Anderson followed up the point made by Jonny Geller by saying,

“We can talk all day about the reader as a nearly holy figure in our business — seriously overlooked too long by the traditional publishers. But it’s also time for that reader to play his or her fiduciary role in the equation again, and prove the bargain basement prices of the fin-de-agency period to have been what they were, the dive for algorithmic leverage of amateurs flooding the market.”

Before I go any further, I need to say that Porter Anderson is a very intelligent, witty, and friendly guy. When I read Writing on the Ether, I often don’t understand exactly the points he makes, and I definitely am not being critical of the article. That being said, what the article did was force me to change my perspective from writer to reader and back again. Quite frankly, I thought “Whoa. Hold on there.”

Where is your price point?

Less than a buck?

First, as a soon to be self-published author, if I sell my book for something less than … Heck, I don’t even know what Melissa Foster or the other people who think a low price devalues a book think I should sell my book for. At what price do I show the world that I value my work? Can anyone tell me? Is $2.99 enough, or does it have to be higher? Should I match traditional publishing at $9.99? Do you honestly think I would sell any books if I did? And yet, if I price point my novel in order to get someone to take a risk and buy my book, I am accused of devaluing my work and undercutting authors everywhere, especially the “professionals.”  I am not sure who the professionals are, but it sounds suspiciously to me that they are those traditionally published.

The author/reader quandary

Second, as a reader, if I buy a $.99 priced novel by a self-published author, I am accused of not holding up my share of the author/reader bargain and shirking my duty of paying an author what they’re worth. What happens if I buy a $.99 priced novel by a famous author who is traditionally published and the publisher is running a sale? Am I still shirking my duty as a reader? And why is a sale (gimmick) by a traditional publisher all right, but by a self-published author it’s tacky and devaluing to the written word?

As a reader, when the price of paperbacks rose above $7.99, I quit buying so many books. Gasp, I know. I got really friendly with my neighborhood library. Then, after I became invested in some authors for FREE, I started buying their books. Let me ask you, did the fact that I read their novels for FREE mean that I devalued their work, their talent? No, it means I didn’t have a very lucrative cash flow and I still wanted to read.

How do you measure the value? 

I think part of the problem about the whole “devaluing” issue is the question of how you measure the value of your personal time and creativity. Someone I read said something like, “Writing books is art, selling books is a business.”

Throughout my twenties, I worked in the head offices of a retail chain as an assistant to the clothing buyers. I learned about mark-up. With clothing, the mark-up is basically double. You buy a t-shirt for $2.99, you sell it for $5.99. When a person self-publishes the need for mark-up is diminished. The book is going to be available digitally forever. If a person spends $1,000 for editing, cover, etc., they can afford to be patient with the first book being a lower price and baiting the hook for readers. It’s a career being built, not a get rich quick scheme.

Climbing the self-pub ladder

So, do you want to know the funny part of this post (if you’ve even made it this far).  The funny part is, I totally plan on selling Finding Meara for at least $2.99 or more, unless it’s enrolled in a special program like Kindle Select. I’d made that decision before I decided to self-publish. My reasons? When I am shopping on my Nook and I see a book listed for $.99, I don’t even really stop to look at it. I judge the book by its price point. However, the same is true for the other end of the monetary scale. Also, you can sell fewer books at a higher price point and make more money. Hard math there. Dean Wesley Smith taught me that. He’s got a great blog every self-publishing author should check out.

Does the question of a fair price for an e-book have an answer? I don’t know. I think it’s up to the person putting their book out there.

***

From Karen –

There are lots of comments on Lara’s e-book blog – pro, con, free, not free, $1.99 or $2.99?

I posted a comment on Lara’s blog. Here it is (I’ve edited the comment and added a few headers).

***

I’m might be free but only with a coupon!

Regarding my books (collections, if they ever get published) – I don’t want to give them away nor do I want to whore them out at 99 cents a copy. I don’t even want to go $1.99 or $2.99.

What it takes

I know what it takes to write one poem or one short story. I hired a great editor (Shawn MacKenzie). I work hard learning how to tell a story, how to mix the right adjectives, how to write scenes and dialog. I read about writing – blogs, articles, books. I read grammar and style manuals.

I’m an e-book John

But buying books? I’m a back-street John when it comes to acquiring new e-books. Since I got my Kindle last November, I consistently seek the free section. Pre-Kindle, I used to spend a couple hundred dollars every month on books; over the last year, about ten bucks a month. I’ll buy an e-book if Stephen King publishes something or if a friend publishes a new book (like Kathryn Magendie or Shawn MacKenzie).

Free book

Most e-books make me snore.

I’ll say it – most free books sort of suck. Out of a hundred free books I download to my Kindle, I delete about 70-80% after the first few pages because they are awful. The e-book explosion has enabled poor writers to publish a lot of garbage.

Make the decision

Don’t just decide to write – decide to write well and then learn how to write well.

***

Friends who write extremely well –

Kathryn Magendie

Shawn MacKenzie

See Lara Schiffbauer’s blog at Motivation for Creation.

What are your thoughts about the whole pricing issue with e-books?

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A Secret About My Mother, by Lara Schiffbauer

Want to know a secret?

Everyone in the world may think their mother is the best, but they are misguided.

My mother is the best.

There are a host of reasons that I could share to back up my claim, but for the sake of time I’m going to share my top three.

Reason #1:  My mother taught me about respect, while letting me voice my opinions about things.

My mother (known fondly as “Mom” to me) told me once that she and my father both endured some harsh comments from critics of their parenting style because they would let us talk back – to a point.  She said they wanted to be sure my sister and I felt like what we thought was important.

Through consistently enforced boundaries, my mother taught me to respect authority.  If my sister or I ever went a little too far with our “opinions,” we were quickly reeled in with firm consequences.

Reason #2:  My mother taught me to be responsible.

My sister and I had chores from an early age.  Some people think it’s a terrible thing, but we were paid for our chores.  Guess what it did? It taught me the value of money.  I learned that I had to work to get the things I wanted.  I also learned that if I did a good job, I would get the paycheck at the end of the week, but if I did a poor job (or didn’t do the job at all) I wouldn’t get anything.  And Mom wouldn’t let us off the hook.  If we didn’t have the money that weekend for fun stuff, that’s just the way it was.

Mom also taught us how to be responsible to others.  She taught us how to live in a family or community.  She never let us mistreat others, and instilled empathy in us from an early age.  If we got into a fight, whether it be with each other or some classmate, she would always ask, “What did you do?” It wasn’t accusatory, but meant to teach us to consider how our actions contribute to any given situation.  Then, she would ask us, “What do you do now?”  She allowed us to figure out for ourselves, with some guidance, how to problem solve our relationships.

Reason #3:  My mother knows everything.

It’s true.  You can ask my husband.  If we have a question about anything, I call my mom.  She is an expert in home medicine, parenting, relationships, computers, and everything in between.  The questions she can’t answer, my father can – but that needs to be saved for a Father’s Day post.

I know I have been extremely blessed in the parent department.  My mother’s family has not been at all supportive the way my mother and father have been to me.  My mother credits her grandmother for teaching her to be the best mother ever – not her mother.  I think my Great-Grandmother did an outstanding job.

Why do you think your mother is the best mother ever?

Lara Schiffbauer

Lara Schiffbauer is a writer, licensed clinical social worker, mother of two, wife of one, and a stubborn optimist.  She loves Star Wars, Lego people, science, everyday magic and to laugh.  You can contact her at laschiff(at)ymail(dot)com, direct message her on Twitter at @LASbauer, at  Linked In or on her blog, Lara Schiffbauer’s Motivation For Creation.

Opening photo – Blank66 from sxc.hu

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Kick your fiction fears to the curb

I recently met Lara Schiffbauer online and we instantly clicked. We exchanged many emails and quickly decided to exchange guest blogs. She is the voice behind the Motivation for Creation blog. Lara is a positive and generous voice in the blogosphere (she shared my Dear Loved One last week). She keeps a positive attitude even when life gets a little “dark and hairy.” Lara writes about goals and internet relationships, passion and time management, and her Funny Friday Photos are a hoot!

Please welcome Lara Schiffbauer and her “Fiction Fears.”

Fiction Fears, by Lara Schiffbauer

The human imagination is amazing.  Nigel Thomas, PhD, philosopher, cognitive scientist, and historian of science and psychology wrote a fabulous definition of imagination.  It’s a tad medical, but I particularly like the last line.

“Imagination is what makes our sensory experience meaningful…  It also produces mental imagery, visual and otherwise, which is what makes it possible for us to think outside the confines of our present perceptual reality, to consider memories of the past and possibilities for the future, and to weigh alternatives against one another. Thus, imagination makes possible all our thinking about what is, what has been, and, perhaps most important, what might be.”

It is our imagination which gives meaning to our experience.  We need our imagination to re-experience our past, and to decide our personal future.  Not only that, but our imagination works the same way when we write.  It allows us to call upon our past experiences and weave them into alternate realities also known as stories.

I have a great story idea involving aliens.  I don’t really have a specific type of alien in mind, but since the aliens are the bad guys, they probably resemble the “Greys” from Whitley Strieber’s Communion.

I think it’s safe to say I have a phobia of those little guys.  I don’t know why, other than when I was six-ish years old, I watched alien shows on the television, and they definitely scared me.  For a really long time, I wasn’t able to watch Close Encounters of the Third Kind without having an anxiety attack, especially at the scene when the aliens take the little boy.  When I was a teenager, an uncle hinted that I may have been abducted some time in my past.  I think he was trying to scare me. He succeeded, and I think made my phobia worse.

When I started writing several years ago, I hadn’t seen a whole bunch of stories about aliens in the contemporary world, so I thought I’d give writing an alien short story a try.  I figured that since I can now watch Close Encounters of the Third Kind without needing a paper bag to breath into, and even like the aliens at the end of the movie, I’d be fine.

Nope.

I tried twice to write two different short stories.  I started with one where the aliens come for a visit, and ended up freaking myself out enough that when my husband went out of town, I pushed a chair against the door so that if anyone (thing!) came in, I could at least hear it coming.  I also let the dog sleep in the bedroom with me.

Feeling extremely foolish, I thought that maybe my absurd reaction was because I wrote about the actual aliens.  Determined to not give in to fear, I decided to attempt another story about a man who had been abducted, but wouldn’t necessarily write about the aliens.  I ended up with nightmares where I was being abducted.  Thus ended my attempts at writing about aliens.

The nice thing is that I know I’m not alone.  Just last night on twitter, I read a tweet from a woman who was writing on her work in progress that has a demon in it, and when she heard a noise in the dark, got scared and had to check it out.

Most writers have super-active imaginations, which is what makes us great story tellers.  It is an amazing gift, but also a potential curse when we delve into those darker emotions and memories.  In order to be the best story teller I can be, I will take the bad with the good.  And in the interest of my personal mental health, I’ll stay away from writing stories about aliens.

How about you?  Have you ever scared yourself with your writing, or drudged up emotions you preferred to leave locked away?

Lara Schiffbauer

Lara Schiffbauer is a writer, licensed clinical social worker, mother of two, wife of one, and a stubborn optimist.  She loves Star Wars, Lego people, science, everyday magic and to laugh.  You can contact her at laschiff(at)ymail(dot)com, direct message her on Twitter at @LASbauer, at  Linked In or on her blog, Lara Schiffbauer’s Motivation For Creation.

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Don’t miss Lara’s Goals Are Great and Relationships of Writing, Part 1 and Part 2.

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Guest post with Lara Schiffbauer

Lara Schiffbauer

I am a guest on Lara Schiffbauer’s Motivation for Creation blog today.

I am sharing one of my most favorite blogs, Dear Loved One – for all those writers who have trouble convincing your family and friends that you are, indeed, a writer. This is for all of us!

Stop by Lara’s Motivation for Creation blog and say hi!

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