Sunday, July 26, 2015

Finding gratitude in the writing community

Happy Monday, from the Land of Hodge. I have been spending the weekend packing up five weeks of vacation detris in anticipation of our trip back home. Living out of a suitcase with small children for over a month required a lot of patience, flexibility and gratitude.

Gratitude has been on my mind a lot lately. I am very grateful for the writing community, designers, my readers and other people I have encountered on this journey. So today, I would like to say thank you! Thank you for reading my blog, my tweets, my post, my book. Thank you for sharing my posts and re-tweeting my tweets. Thank you for asking about my work and for your encouraging words. Thank you for doing word sprints, for reviewing my book and for listening to me talk about my writing. Thank you for beta reading, for editing, for designing my covers, and for helping to promote my series. THANK YOU!!!

Choose Joy, readers and writers. Find that bit of sunshine in your day and share it!

Update from the Land of Hodge
I did some writing this week!!! I hit the 10k mark on my third book in my series, Season's Son! 

August 5   - Cover reveal for Seasons
August 20 - Cover reveal for Blue Season
                  - Kindle Count Down Deal
Updated: I sighed with Evolved Publishing company. The second edition of Seasons, which is now been re titled Red on the Run, will be released in March of 2016. 

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Monday, July 20, 2015

Unlock the secret to increasing your daily word count

Update from the Land of Hodge
As I turn the corner towards the end of my epically long grandparent tour vacation, I am also turning the corner on edits for Blue Season. In the next week my editing of Blue Season will enter Phase II, Copy Edit. I am anticipating Phase III will occur at the end of August so that I can stay on track for my September 20th release date.

August 5   - Cover reveal for Seasons
August 20 - Cover reveal for Blue Season
                  - Kindle Count Down Deal

Unlock the Secret to increasing your daily word Count: 
As I mentioned in an earlier post, "Creative Writing on a Busy Mom's Schedule" I have to make the best out of the little time I have each day to write. I have found that for me to be successful I need some accountability. What are some of the ways I have implemented accountability into my writing routine?

1). Write-ins with other writers. 
2). Competitions with other writers to complete projects.
3) Word sprints with other writers. 

The last one, word sprints has been the most successful way for me to increase my word count and stay on schedule. What are word sprints? Sprints are short timed writing sessions where writers try to write as many words as possible in a designated set time.

When I first started to do word sprints I did hour sprints where a group of writers and I would check in every hour to see how many words we had managed to write. I would generally be able to write between 750-1500 words depending on how distracted I had gotten during that hour. About a month ago I got invited into a sprinting group that did 15 minute sprints with a five minute break in between. During those 15 minutes I would write between 350-1000 words.

Yes, you read that right. I did better in the 15 minute sprints. Why, you might ask. Well during these 15 minute sprints I felt more under the gun and was less likely to wander onto Facebook or Twitter or do something else. If you are easily distracted this is definitely the way to go. I haven't been doing a lot of book writing during these sprints but have used the accountability to achieve other tasks like imputing edit suggestions and writing blog post, like this one.

What are some tips and tricks that you have found to keep you on task for a project? 


KM Hodge is the author of The Syndicate Series. Book #1, Seasons is available on Amazon. 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

In Review: Possibility of Snow by Al Riske

I was given an ARC (Advanced Readers Copy) of  "The Possibility of Snow" in exchange for an honest review. I have never read any of Mr. Riske's work before and have never met him. Okay now that we got all that out of the way here is my review.

The story, which takes place somewhere in the 1960's-1970's.

[It drops clues but doesn't really come out and say exactly when, which would be interesting for me the reader to know. I checked out the authors blog and didn't find any information regarding the date.]

I digress. The story, which takes place roughly 30+ years ago, takes the reader to a small college town where we meet the main characters Steve and Neil who fall into a sort of accidental friendship and decide to become roommates in their colleges dorm. The beginning of the novel, where the author is setting the stage for the men and their friendship was a little slow for my taste, but in retrospect it gave a sense of slowness to the time the story takes place. [if that makes sense] 

The stories pacing picks up about about 1/3 of the way through where their friendship's honeymoon phase rolls into a battle for power and control. I don't want to give anything away so I'll stop there. I will say that the author does a great job of showing the boundaries of new friendships and what happens when those boundaries are crossed. 

The novel, which starts off light and care free soon turns dark, bitch black.  It took some time to get into it but once I did I breezed right through to the end. I give the book 4 out of 5 stars.

Biography AL RISKE is the author of Precarious, Sabrina's Window, and The Possibility of Snow. He has worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine editor, and ghostwriter. His short stories have appeared in the Beloit Fiction Journal, Hobart, Switchback, Word Riot, Blue Mesa Review, and 34th Parallel. Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, he now lives in California with his wife, Joanne, and their dog, Bodie. CHILDHOOD AMBITION: Be the best writer who ever lived. (I was 10 and had never heard of Shakespeare.) LITTLE-KNOWN FACT: Was in fourth grade when my first story was published (on a mimeograph machine). HONORS: Winner of the Blue Mesa Review Fiction Contest in 2008 for the short story "Pray for Rain." Nominated for the 2010 Story Prize, an annual award for short story collections, for Precarious. BLOG:

Saturday, July 11, 2015

How teamwork defeated Facebook

 Being an author is hard. Often every step, even the small ones, seem like Everest. There are so many tasks that you have to juggle and most of them have nothing to do with doing what you love best, writing. For me, the writing part has never been the hard bit, of course now that I say this that might change. For me the challenge is in learning the business end of it. I don't particularly enjoy the marketing and promotions aspect of being an indie author, but it is the nature of the beast.

Recently, while chatting with some other authors, we got to discussing how difficult it is the over come Facebook's algorithms, which appear to be rigged in such a way to "encourage" businesses to purchase their promotional services. The way we saw it, Facebook opens up a post to 10 people and how they interact with it determines if it will open up the post to 10 more people. This means that the odds are NOT in your favor. They also weight the post by whether or not there are hashtags (#hashtag=#noviewsforyou) or the words download, share or like. Interesting note, if comments say congratulations, Facebook opens it up to more viewers!

We decided to come up with some kind of solution to overcoming Facebook's algorithms.

Before I get to that, here are some tips and tricks that I have collected over the last 8 months from various web articles that will in general help improve your insights on Facebook. 

1) Pictures and video post out perform post that just have words. The catch is to post links with an eye catching thumb nail picture instead of straight up pictures. This is most likely due in part to the over posting of pictures. 

2) LIKE your own posts! Yes, I know this sounds very vain, but your likes count in the eyes of the great and powerful Facebook so like away! 

3) Utilize your cover photo by having a call to action inside of it. You can do this by using free programs like For example, my Facebook page cover has a picture that promotes my book cover reveal on August 5. 

4) One word: crowdsource. Ask your readers which cover or head shot they like best. My post on choosing, which head shot I should go with was one of my highest performing post for my page. Which would you have chosen? 

5) Share the most important post on your personal page as well. Don't annoy your friends and family, because that wont help you, but sharing relevant content at different times throughout the year can be very beneficial. 

6) Study the insight information provided. It will help guide you in the right direction so that you aren't just blindly throwing darts in the dark. For example, according to my insights, my target group is women ages 35-64, who live in the United States or the United Kingdom and tend to view my page most often on Tuesdays. 

7) The longer your readers engage with your post (i.e. spend time reading it) also factors into the algorithm. So in other words, be interesting. Read this article for more information on this particular nugget. 

8) Find a dedicated support group

Find a support group, you say? YES! This is the experiment that my author friends and I embarked on this week after one of them suggested we give it a go. In an effort to unlock as many post as possible and therefore increase our reach/ROI, we committed to joining together in groups of at least ten authors. Each group member committed to liking, sharing, and interacting with each other's post. 

Before this experiment I had an average of 1-2 likes per post and almost no shares. By the end of the week my new page likes were up 103%  (this should level out), total post reach were up 290%, and engagement was up 135% from the week before. An unexpected bonus of this venture is that we found that we really enjoyed each others content and ended up sharing and liking each other's things because we genuinely enjoyed them.  I even ended up downloading several books from some of the authors in my group  and am really looking forward to reading them on my long car trip coming up next week! 

So in closing: create relevant information and promote yourself through the relationships that you build in the process. Do you have any tips and tricks that you have found helpful? 


KM Hodge is the author of The Syndicate Series. Book #1, Seasons is available on Amazon. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

PART 1: How to get targeted responses from beta readers

Women Writers Wednesday: Update from the Land of Hodge 
I have been busy as always. I have most of Book #2 content edits in and have integrated the changes that my editors have suggested. I have also been working on getting things together for my cover reveal on August 5, 2015. Since I am in the editing state of mind I have put together a little bit of what I have learned this year about editing.

Writer tip: How I got targeted responses from my beta readers

First Book: What I got wrong and what I got right  
When I went through the editing process with my first book, I learned through trial and error what worked for me and what didn't. I did a three part edit 1) Content 2)Copy and 3)Proof.

I elicited the help of 5 Beta Readers for this process, which according to the industry is the ideal number.   I asked each of them about their level of involvement, what format they wanted the book in and how they would prefer to send back the information to me. I also gave them all a gift.

Content Editing: The majority of my betas had never done an edit process like this and I soon found out that a few of them were unable to edit the content because they couldn't see the content through all the copy edit errors. I ended up with two amazing content editors out of the five. They're both excellent at asking all the right questions. This is important because you don't want your readers to be asking these questions.

Copy Editing: If you are unfamiliar with the difference between content editing and proof reading please read this great article on Daily Writing Tips. Likewise I have two readers who are excellent copy editors. They find inconsistencies and point out places where the grammar and syntax of a section of writing might need work. A fun tool to use to help with this step is ProWritingAid. I use it whenever I have a section that isn't flowing well. It is also great for finding and destroying those pesky sticky words and -ly adverbs that we all hate to let go of.

Proof Reading: This stage took the longest. In this state it is really helpful to actually print out the work and go over everything with the fine tooth comb. I have this one amazing editor who does this and will leave the edited and marked up chapters at my door step. I know I am completely spoiled.

Even with all of these editing stages I still have been finding errors in my book that has been out since March. I have gone back and made corrections and re posted it about three times since it went live almost four months ago. The majority of the errors were weird HTML glitches that messed up the formatting, but there were a few typos that were missed. Here is a little known secret, it happens to all of us. If you need a good laugh check out To Err is Human article

Book #2: What I have done differently 
This second time around I did things a little differently. First of all I did a half way edit where I searched and destroyed -ly adverbs and sticky words. I also just elicited the help of beta readers who I knew were talented at copy editing.  I then put together a packet for my readers to help guide them to give me the information that was most useful to me during this process. I did a lot of research to find just the right questions for my questionnaire.  This is what I sent my readers:

Opening/ Setting

  1. Did the story hold your interest from the beginning?

  1. Was the opening compelling? At what point did you first stop reading?

  1. Did the setting pull you in and did the description seem vivid and real to you?

  1. Did you get oriented fairly quickly as to whose story it is and where and when it takes place?


  1. Could you relate to the main character? Feel you knew them?

  1. What characters do you connect to and like? Are they believable?

  1. What characters need more development?

  1. Are there too many characters to keep track of? Were any of the names or characters too similar?


  1. Was there anything that confused or frustrated you?

  1. What scenes, paragraphs, or lines did you like?

  1. What parts resonated with you or moved you emotionally?

  1. What parts should be compressed/elaborated on?

  1. Were there any inconsistencies in time, sequences, places, character details?

  1. Did the dialogue sound natural to you? If not whose sounded artificial or inconsistent with the first book?

  1. Any repeated grammatical, spelling, punctuation, or capitalization errors?

  1. Any parts that bored you and made you want to  speed through, skip or put it down?


  1. Was it clear? Satisfying?

  1. Was there enough conflict, tension, and intrigue to keep you interested?

Already the information I have gotten back has been super helpful! I will let you know later how the rest of the editing process goes in part 2 and 3 over the next two months.

Happy Wednesday Writers and Readers!

Choose Joy!

KM Hodge is the author of The Syndicate Series. Book #1, Seasons is available on Amazon. 

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy Fourth of July

Happy Fourth of July, to all my American readers!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Headshot: branding and marketing to your genre

Dear readers,

Things have been a little crazy in the land of Hodge. I'm on vacation and the days have started to blend into one another. I honestly thought today was Wednesday and was shocked to realize that tomorrow will in fact be Friday and NOT Thursday. Even though I am on vacation I have also set aside time to work on projects, including a grant that is due next week that will hopefully support the food pantry that I love. On the writing side I am working on integrating beta reader content edit notes on book number two, writing book #3, and working on the marketing and branding transition I am making.

I want to talk to you today about the marketing and branding side of things in this post. As many of you know I am new to the business and am learning as I  have therefore made some rookie mistakes in building my author platform so that it aligns with my genre (suspense). There are a ton of articles out there that can guide a wayward author back onto the straight and narrow.

[The Creative Penn did a great post about book covers that touched on this. She also touched on how an author's headshot is a part of their brand.]

These are the two areas that I am currently working on.

Book Cover
I am currently in the homestretch of redoing the cover for the first book in my series, Seasons. While I love the cover it just doesn't fit in with all of the other books in my genre and subgenres. There are some thing where standing out for being different is definitely to your advantage, but book covers is not one of those. Book covers serve several purposes but the two most important are: attract the readers attention and give the reader an idea of what to expect to find on the inside. I have been working with TLC Graphics to come up with some covers that will meet both of these requirements.

My cover reveal of Seasons will be on August 5, 2015. If you are a blogger and would like to host the reveal or would like to retweet or share facebook post, please fill out the google form.

I love my first headshot for several reasons. First of all, my talented friend took it at my favorite coffee shop where I wrote some of the first novel. Secondly, I can see me in the photo. So what is the problem? Well, it doesn't match my genre, which is suspense. The photo has to portray a look that tells readers what kinds of things I actually write. The first photo was brilliant for such genre's as women's fiction or maybe cozy mysteries. No one would look at that and say, she writes dark stuff, which I kind of do.

Thankfully the coworking space I belong to, Orange Coworking, hosted a professional photographer that took pictures of the members. I took advantage of this great opportunity and got new headshots done. While they look great; I struggle with the fact that it doesn't look like me. See below the four photos of the two different photo shoots. Please comment below with the one you like best!

In closing...
Marketing and branding is hard! My advice to writers first starting out is to say that it is vital to do all the research you can on your genre and to ask advice from veteran writers. There are so many people out there who are more than willing to listen and offer constructive criticism and advice.

Choose Joy!

KM Hodge is the author of The Syndicate Series. Book #1, Seasons is available on Amazon.