Update from Perfect My Writing Archives - Help From The Cloud
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Create Your Characters for your NaNoWriMo Novel

 It’s October, the equivalent of Christmas Eve for NaNoWriMo participants and if you’re anything like me, you have outlines for everything – but nothing concrete.

Creating your characters for your NaNoWriMo novel doesn’t have to be stressful. I’ve always found this time the most exciting when I’m writing; the first meeting with my characters. I get to decide whether they’re handsome or pretty, good or bad, rich or poor, what’s not to like? I use this Character map quite a bit – I’ve also got lots of other ideas that I slot in when I feel like it – things like politics and religion if they fit with the story.  This is when you really get to know them and I find it happens a lot in my head. Go for a walk with them, see what they have to say. 

When you look at a Character Map at first it can seem daunting – it’s only a series of questions about someone you know nothing about – yet. Try not to think about it like that – if you can’t put a face to the name, use someone you know. If you’re describing a murderer best not to let them know maybe… 

Before you start, draw a sketch of your character. It doesn’t matter if you can draw or not – it’s your vision, and that’s the important thing.

Character statement

Think carefully about this because all the answers you provide later on will have to reflect this person.

Example:  My name is [Mary Brown].  I haven’t been alive as long as others here. I live in a world of heat and sand, where water and wood are rare. It seems that everyone’s out to get me, and I’m being followed by two women. Most of the village people are angry and I’m afraid all the time. Why does it have to be like this?


  • Character’s Name:
  • Gender:
  • Age:
  • Current Location:
    • Where the Character Grew Up:
  • Height:
  • Ethnicity:
  • Zodiac Sign – study its characteristics
  • Personality test
  • Children:
    • Number of Children:
    • Names:
    • Favorite Child:
      • Why:
    • Family Information (Parents, Siblings, etc.):
      • How Many Siblings:
      • Favorite Sibling:
        • Why:
      • Favorite Parent:
        • Why:
      • Nickname:
      • Clothing Style:
      • Hairstyle:
      • Eyewear:
      • Complexion:
      • Eye Color:
      • Hair Color:
      • Weight / Body Shape

Likes & Dislikes 

  • Favorite Music Style:


  • Least Favorite Music Style:


  • Favorite Band:


  • Least Favorite Band:


  • Favorite Movie:


  • Least Favorite Movie:


  • Favorite Book:


  • Least Favorite Book:


  • Favorite Food:


  • Least Favorite Food:


Personal History

 Marital Status:

    • Partner’s Name:
    • Where’d the Character Meet His or Her Partner:
    • How They Fell in Love:
  • Educational Level:
  • Pets:
  • Occupation:
  • Political Party:
  • Allergies:
  • Physical Handicaps:
  • Best Friend:
    • Why This Person Is their Best Friend:
  • Religious Beliefs:
  • Criminal Past:
  • Chemical Dependencies / Addictions:
  • Family Traditions:
  • Nemesis (and why):


  • Interests:
  • Personal Goal:
    • Motivations:
    • Completed or Not:
  • Biggest Fear:
    • Why:
  • Greatest Strength:
  • Greatest Weakness:
  • Biggest Regret:
    • Why:
  • Talents:
  • Musically Inclined:
  • Where Does the Character See Him/Herself in 10 Years:


  • Oddest Thing That Has Ever Happened to this Character:
  • Special Talents:
  • Sexual Fantasy / Preferences:
  • Quirks and Vices:
  • Extra Information: 

Do you relate to the character? Do they have personality traits you recognise in yourself? 

  • If You Were an Actor / Actress, Would You Want to Play This Character:
    • Why or Why Not:
  • Relate This Character to Another Literary or Movie Persona:

Now, practice, practice, practice!

Writer’s block – Top 20 ideas to eliminate it!

How does Writer’s Block hit you?

For me, it’s as if there’s a brick wall between me and my keyboard.

I feel I’ve written everything I know and there’s nothing left to write about.  I have found that keeping lists of ideas to dip into can help get my creative juices flowing.

Lists such as these 20 Tips below. I hope you find them useful.

  1. Resurrect an old post and do an update with new information and results you’ve had since you first wrote it.
  2.  Check out current trends and write about one that affects your niche.3. Use Google Search suggestions to help you find topics. Type in your main word(s) and see the main ideas they give you.

    4. Be controversial – change your stance on a previous post and explain why you’ve reached the change in opinion, and what difference it has made.

    5. Do a Q and A post and answer questions you’ve gotten from your readers’ comments or in your email.

    6. Read other blogs, and be open to ideas. One point in a topic they cover could be expanded into a whole new subject for you to write about. 

    7. Find questions that need answers. Visit a few groups and forums in your niche and see what’s being discussed.

    8. Use your site to sound off on a hot topic being discussed in the forums.

    9. Flip through magazines to get ideas from their headlines and articles. Browse Dummies.com and Amazon for more content topic ideas.

    10. Browse Ezine Articles using your keyword in the search function and use these articles to trigger new content ideas for you.

    11. What about the tools you use in your niche? Write about why you use them and how they’ve helped you.

    12. Look at sales pages for products in your niche and use the bullets to give you ideas on topics to write about.

    13. Go through products you’ve purchased in the past and find pointers that you could expand on in your article.

    14. List your favourite resources in your niche.

    15. Review your top 10 favorite books in your genre.

    16. The Table of Contents in a book can be a source of inspiration. Look at the chapter titles to see if they spark any ideas.

    17. Get trends, stories, and updates by email from Google.  https://www.google.co m/trends/subscriptions

    18. Search through the newsletters and periodicals you get via email and snail mail.

    19. Ask an expert in your niche three questions and write up the answers.

    20.  Use keywordtool.io – insert your keyword or topic and see some suggestions.

Every writer gets writer’s block. We all hit that brick wall sooner or later, but as you can see from these content ideas, there are ways to get around it.

Good luck on your writing journey

You’ve written your book – now what?

market your book Help from the cloud

Now, just like Little Piggy, your book has to go to Market

You’ve written your book but that’s only the beginning. Once you have finished your final draft the real work, making sure it sells, begins. The truth is, unless your name is Stephen King or Patricia Cornwell, your book is unlikely to fly off the shelf. At least, not without some effort on your part.

Get Social


First stop: Facebook. Your book deserves its own Facebook page. You can (and should) share excerpts, reviews, interviews you’ve done, and even other books you love (some Fiction writers create a page for their hero/heroine which allows their fans to become immersed in the story and feel they know the character). A Facebook page will also give you the opportunity to build a custom audience of fans for ad targeting.


Instagram is another social site worth exploring. Create a hashtag just for your book, and share quotes and other graphics with your fans and followers. And don’t neglect Twitter, where building a targeted following is fast and easy, LinkedIn where serious business owners mingle and get to know one another and put your book cover on Pinterest so your followers can become familiar with it.

Blog About It

If you haven’t already, now is the time to start shouting about your book on your blog and to your email list. Fans will love to hear:

  • Behind the scenes info on how the writing process works and what you’ve learned
  • The struggles you faced trying to get your book written and the fear of self-publishing if you’ve never done it before
  • How you managed to find the time/energy to get your book finished
  • How sales and marketing are going

Create a Book Trailer

These fun, short videos create intrigue and interest about your book. You can create them with PowerPoint, outsource it to a professional, or just fire up your web cam and talk. It’s totally up to you.

When you’re finished, post it to YouTube, share it socially, embed it on your blog, and include it in your launch page. And while you’re posting to YouTube, don’t forget to put a link to your landing page in the description!

Host a Book Launch

On launch day, invite your fans and friends to a “meet the author” chat on Facebook Live or another Live platform. This can be as informal as a Q&A, or as structured as a training event, complete with slides, but don’t be afraid to just “open the phone lines” and invite your fans to share in your excitement.

Make the Guest Posting Rounds

Now is the time to be seen on other blogs, on podcasts, and anywhere your audience is hanging out. Have your VA send out an introductory email with a targeted post or interview proposal for best results. After all, no one wants to host yet another in a long line of “me too” interviews. Give them something customized to their audience, though, and you’ll get a lot more invitations.

Marketing your book doesn’t have to devour your time, and it isn’t that difficult. But it does require consistency and a bit of creativity. The results are well worth your effort, though, so follow up your publication with a well-planned marketing strategy, and be prepared to reap the rewards.

How to Write a Book when you have no time to Write

No time to write a book

I don’t have time to write a book

I get it. You’re busy. Client calls must be made. Marketing has to happen (or you won’t have any clients to worry about). And then there’s bookkeeping, website maintenance, …the list goes on. Add in family commitments and clearly, finding the time to write a book is a struggle.

But given how important a published book is to your overall business growth, it’s time to take a look at what you can do to make that happen—even if you have no time to spare.

No time to write a book? Outsource It

Who says you have to write your book yourself? In the world of publishing, hiring a ghostwriter is a tried and true method for getting a book written for those who:

  • Have no time
  • Don’t have a “feel” for writing
  • Simply don’t want to

Whichever camp you belong to, working with a ghostwriter can make it easy to achieve your publication goals.

Ghostwriters are available in any budget, but be aware that you get what you pay for. While you may not want to (or be able to) shell out several thousand dollars to hire top talent, you shouldn’t settle for the lowest cost providers either. Interview several writers, look at samples of their work and choose the best you can afford. Try Fiverr or Freelancer

Update: After reading this post Lewis Parrott from thefreelanceeffect.com wrote a guide about how to make money on Fiverr 

Remember, you can always edit their work, but if you have to edit too much, what have you saved?

No time to write a book? Repurpose It

If you’ve been marketing your business for a while, chances are good you have a wealth of content that might be turned into a book.

  • Your blog
  • Free opt-in gifts e.g. reports, articles, ebooks
  • Training webinars

All of these and more can be edited to fit within the covers of a book, so don’t be afraid to reach into the archives to get your book published. If you missed my post about turning your content into a book you can check it out here.

No time to write a book? Transcribe It

If you love to talk (I’m Irish – we all do!) then speaking your book just might be the trick that works for you. In fact, a cell phone is all you need to write your book on the go. Simply speak your book while waiting in line to pick up the kids after school, while you’re out for your morning walk, or between client calls.

Send your audio files to be transcribed, and all that remains is to edit the transcription. No matter how disjointed or awful it looks, it’s much easier to edit bad content than to start from scratch.

Don’t let a lack of time hold you back from finishing your book. There’s no better way to build your audience and establish your expert status than to publish a book, and you owe it to yourself—and your business—to get your book out there.

Book Launch Basics: What you need to do before you publish

retro typewriter and text the end - Publish your book

So you’ve finished your book and you’re ready to publish! You’ve done something that lots of people talk about and seldom do, but don’t celebrate too much. You still have work to do.  Here’s the thing about publishing a book: sales don’t just happen. You must market your work of art before you publish, and that starts with a launch

Start Early

The biggest mistake you can make when considering your book launch is waiting too long. The day you send your book to print is way too late. The best book launches start weeks or even months before your book hits the shelves.

Think about it. There are dozens of moving parts to coordinate, and leaving them until the last minute is a recipe for disaster. Instead, give you and your team plenty of time, and you’ll enjoy a profitable, stress-free book launch. Team? Yes, start by inviting people who you think might read your book to be part of your launch team. Don’t shove a cozy mystery on someone who only reads highbrow literature – it’s cruel and unusual punishment on them and a waste of your time as you’ll probably never get a review from them. And the same goes if you’re a highbrow literature writer – your friend who reads Debbie Macomber will have no interest in your magnum opus!


DO NOT DIY it. You have enough on your plate, just trying to get the book ready for publication, so let someone else handle the launch details if possible. Use a VA who can step in and help coordinate the rest of the team – yes, shameless publicizing for myself I know. If you can’t afford a VA start putting your task list together and get them scheduled:

  • Landing page creation: Consider giving away the first chapter of your book before publication to build a buzz (and build your mailing list)
  • Social media outreach: Teasers are perfect for getting the word out about your upcoming book. Don’t be afraid to “leak” your book cover, create social graphics with quotes, and share your enthusiasm with your tribe.
  • Reviewer outreach: Getting reviews on the listing is critical to your book’s success, so now is the time to reach out to beta readers with a review copy, so they have time to read it before you go live. Don’t be lazy and just ask your friends – there are Facebook groups e.g. Booksgosocial, Skywriters, Goodreads even, where you can swap reviews – Givers gain.
  • Interview scheduling: One of the best ways to get the word out about your upcoming book is to make the rounds of podcasts, blogs, and live events. After all, you can claim expert status now.
  • Blog and email: Don’t neglect your existing audience leading up to launch day. Be sure to let them know about your upcoming book by blogging about it and keeping them updated on progress through email.

 Enjoy the Process

This is by far the most important thing you can do during your book launch. Enthusiasm is contagious, and the more fun you’re having with it, the better the buzz you’ll build. Plan to step outside your comfort zone a bit, too, to really get others talking.

  • Facebook events: If ever there were a good reason to schedule a Facebook event, a book launch is it. Use Facebook Live on the day your book launches so you can share your thoughts with your fans.
  • Book trailers: A book trailer is well worth the effort. Just like a movie trailer, these short commercial style videos are great for getting the word out about your book. You don’t have to go to a lot of expense or trouble – a PowerPoint video or presentation will do perfectly well. Here’s an example of a cozy mystery book trailer. See? It doesn’t have to be difficult.
  • Host a book signing: If you live in or near a large city, or already have a large following, consider hosting a live event. A reading, some hors d’oeuvres, and a few signed books are all it takes, and your fans will love it.

Of course, you don’t have to go to the trouble of launching your book formally at all. But if you do, you’ll enjoy a much better start to your new publishing career. Not only that but done right, book launches are great fun. That’s something you certainly deserve after all your hard work.


From Blog to Book


Writer's tools

What holds most would-be authors back from publishing? It’s not a lack of writing talent. It’s not a lack of knowledge. And it’s definitely not a lack of desire.


If you ask most people why they haven’t finished their book, they’ll tell you they don’t have time.  We’re all busy people. You have clients to serve, a business to run, a family to care for. Not only that, but you’re spending time creating new training courses, marketing on social media, managing your team…the list is nearly endless.

When would you have time to write an entire book?

You’ve Probably Already Written It

It’s true. If you have a blog, and you’ve been maintaining it for more than a few months, then you very likely have already written all the content your book needs. All that remains is to organise and give it a light edit.


If you don’t have a blog (why not?), or your blog is young, blogging your book is even easier, since you can plan your content around your book topic.


Here’s how it works. Think of your blog categories as sections, and each blog post as a chapter. You can loosely organise your book by sorting all your blog posts by category, then listing them in a logical order. Your book may only contain a single category, or it might contain several. The choice is yours.


Remove self-serving, time sensitive, curated, or other content that doesn’t fit into a book. Remove the calls to action. It won’t make sense to promote your paid programs—or worse, affiliate offers—within a book.


What you’re left with is a rough draft of a book. All that remains is a few passes with your editor who you will have engaged for:


  1. Flow: Books should follow a logical path from one chapter to the next, so you’ll likely have to add or edit the beginnings and endings of your posts.
  2. Spelling, grammar and punctuation: Don’t skip this part. In fact, get someone else to do it. It’s too difficult to spot our own mistakes, and book readers are less forgiving than blog readers.
  3. Content: Enlist the help of a few friends or colleagues who you trust to share their honest opinion with you. Ask them to read through and note any content that is confusing, or that could be explained in greater detail.

That’s it! Revise, and you’re ready to publish.


Think no one will read a book that’s repurposed from your blog? Think again. Bloggers have used this method to write books for years, and some of them are spectacularly successful. Darren Rowse of ProBlogger.net fame wrote and published his wildly popular blogging guide based entirely on content he’d already published on his blog. He found that even though the content was freely available, people bought the book because they wanted the convenience of having it organised for them in one document.


I follow C.S. Lakin on Live, Write, Thrive – my go-to writers’ blog. She had an excellent series of blog posts called the Four Pillars of Writing – not only did I buy the book she created from those but I’ve also signed up to do her course based on the same topic.


Even fiction writers have discovered the power of blogging a book. Andy Weir, the author of “The Martian,” first published his book one chapter at a time on a blog. Hugh Howey, the sci-fi author also does this.


Don’t continue to let excuses hold you back from publishing your book. Use the content you’ve already written, or strategically plan your blog to turn it into a book, but either way, get publishing!